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Egypt and Sumer - Essay Example

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An examination of the primary sources, Ode to the Nile and Hymn to Ra, both of Egyptian origins and the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Code of Hammurabi, both early Mesopotamian works, provides interesting insights into these distinct cultures. In this essay, differences and…
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Egypt and Sumer
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Download file to see previous pages The reference to Re (the sun, also spelled Ra) indicates a primitive understanding that both flooding and sun are necessary factors for crop growth and life, which may be why Hymn to Ra proved equally important. Hymn to Ra emphasizes the polytheistic nature of Egyptian society and provides an early account of the origins of humankind, wisdom, and love – attributing them all to Ra, the sun. Overall, both works suggest that early Egyptians were fairly united in their beliefs, collectivistic, had little understanding of natural causes (flooding), anthromorphized important natural phenomena (the sun, the river Nile), were a patriarchal society (important Gods are construed as male), were present-oriented in their desires (food, water, shelter), believed that human action could in some way shape natural events (sacrifices could prevent floods), and on some level, saw or believed in actual interaction between physical and spiritual phenomena (the offering of sacrifices (physical) to the Nile as a God (spiritual)). Hymn to Ra in particular, emphasizes the impermanent nature of death and a mind-body dichotomy –the spirit (but not the body) could return after death, morality/conscience/wisdom were controlled and instilled from outside, and behavior, as opposed to intent and preceding thought was important.
In contrast to the Egyptian sources, the Epic of Gilgamesh in particular appears to place greater emphasis on desires of the spirit, nourishment of the soul, morality, and conscience as opposed to the meeting of physical needs. In this way, it is less primitive than the Egyptian sources and considers more of the higher-level complexities of “humanness” than either of the Egyptian sources (sex, friendship, betrayal). Rather than praying to avoid death, as the Egyptians do in Ode to the Nile and Hymn to Ra, the Epic of Gilgamesh implies that life is defined and made meaningful by the deadline ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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