Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ancient Egyptian Quote of the Week

I've decided to start doing a Quote of the Week again. I'll be posting them on Saturdays and they will come from my recent research. Up until now they've always been Ancient Egyptian. In the future, they may have other origins as I branch out into other research subjects. 
The Tomb of Petosiris

This week's quote comes from the inscriptions found on the tomb of a priest named Petosiris who lived in the last days of Egypt's independence before Alexander the Great came. (All following quotes taken from The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron.)

It is useful to tread the path of the god, great are the advantages reserved for those who take care to follow it. It is a monument they raise for themselves on earth, they who set out to follow the way of the god. Those who hold to the path of the god, they will spend all their lives in joy, richer than their peers. They will grow old in their city, venerated in their nome*, all their limbs as young as a child's. Their children will be numerous in their presence and considered the first of their city, their sons will succeed one another from generation to generation... They will reach the necropolis in joy, embalmed beautifully by the work of Anubis, and the children of their children will live on in their stead.... You have walked on the path of your lord Thoth, and after granting that these blessings be given to you on earth, he will bestow similar favors on you after death.

*nome= region

Petosiris was by all accounts a particularly pious priest. He was know by several impressive titles:

high priest who sees the god in his naos, who carried his lord and follows his lord, who enters into the holy of holies, who performs his functions together with the great prophets, the prophet of the Ogdoad, chief of the priests of Sakhmet, leader of the priests of the third and fourth phyles; the royal scribe who reckons all the property in the temple of Khmun.

And when his tomb was found there was graffiti from Greek tourists found on it that testify to how renowned Petosiris was in his time as a most holy man. One of them says:

I invoke Petosiris whose body is underground, but whose soul is in the abode of the gods: a sage, he is united with the sages.

Now, Sauneron makes it quite clear that Petosiris was one of the bright stars of the Egyptian priest class. Most of them, while perfectly honorable and conscientious in their duties, did not reach the level of spirituality of Petosiris and are only known as a list of names and titles. Others stand out on the other side of the spectrum by their criminal activities. Temples could be very rich places and some priests became corrupted and stole greedily from them or fought among themselves for priestly positions and benefits even to the point of murder. Such is human nature.


  1. You can definitely see what the Egyptians held to be important from those inscriptions, especially the good enbalming.

    Yay for the Quote of the Week!

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