Human Responsibility

Assmann argues that the ancient Egyptian gods were thought to be absent from everyday life (as opposed to the Greek gods, for example), creating a particular human responsibility that was required to draw them into the earthly realm. Whether we accept Assmann’s bold statement that the Egyptians doubted the “real” existence of their gods in their temple space, it does seem to be the case that the state, the community, and the household took on the responsibility of pulling divinity into their lives through means of complex and symbolic rituals, all of them charged with magical power.

– “The Daily Offering Meal in the Ritual of Amenhotep I: An Instance of the Local Adaptation of Cult Liturgy”, Kathlyn M. Cooney and J. Brett McClain


2 thoughts on “Human Responsibility

  1. Edward P. Butler says:

    An example, I think, of one of those instances where Assmann gets out in front of the data. Obviously there is less archaeological evidence from the spaces of “everyday life”; his inferences therefore seem polemical.

    • kiya_nicoll says:

      I suspect so too. I can’t help but be reminded of that Herodotus (I think) line about how every woman doing her makeup is looking for Hetharu in the mirror, you know?

      There may be a real thing there, that sense of human obligation to draw out the numinous that gets presented with the highest drama in the matters of robing, feeding, and caring for the temple icon? I kind of like that notion.

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