Linking State and Private Religion to Government

1656 WordsFeb 21, 20187 Pages
Ancient Egyptian Religion Topic: What are the similarities and differences between state religion and private religion? How is state religion linked the government? The Greek historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus wrote in his Histories that ancient Egyptians were “religious excessively beyond all other men”. This comment, although perhaps biased by his Greek perspective, illuminates for modern man the importance of religion in the everyday lives of ancient Egyptian peoples. Religion, in the form of devotion, prayers and offerings, was considered essential to maintaining a happy, healthy life. This devotion could take one of two distinct shapes: state-wide religious worship, or personal, popular worship. Each of these forms of worship is similar but distinctive, and both are a good example of how ancient Egyptian theology was distinct from any other theological system in the ancient world. Ancient Egyptian religion was unique: several scholars have noted that there was no other religion like it in all of history.1 The combination of deities, mythology and attached ritual activities were created and built upon over centuries, and so it is a very complex theological structure. The religion itself was polytheistic (meaning that many gods were worshipped simultaneously), although at times in Egypt’s history, and depending on the governmental ruler, we have evidence of henotheism (focus on one god, but not excluding others).2 In order to add to the mystery of their
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