Tales of Ancient Egypt
by Roger Lancelyn Green
What he did for Greek myths and legends and the tales of Robin Hood and King Arthur, noted folklorist and biographer Roger Lancelyn Green now does for the tales of myth, magic, and adventure from one of the world's oldest and most distinctive cultures.
Isolated by geography, fed and watered by the Nile, the ancient civilization of Egypt developed a unique outlook on life and death, with special emphasis on the latter. Their long, unbroken line of kings, together with a compulsion to build monuments to the dead that have endured for thousands of years, enables us to look back over an incredibly vast period of history, putting us in touch with the strange stories people told each other four or five thousand years ago. Lancelyn Green helps us make sense of these stories, explaining them and organizing them so that their power and grandeur inspire awe and wonder, rather than confusion.
Here are the stories of the gods of Egypt, such as Amen-Ra, Osiris, Isis, and Horus - similar yet different to the characters in the mythology of other cultures. We appreciate, though perhaps never understand, why some of the gods are represented by animals (or by human figures with the heads of animals), such as Anubis the dog and Horus the falcon.
The later stories of magicians, thieves, divine-human Pharaohs, shipwrecks, and wars are set in the context of a religion that adored Osiris, god of the underworld, expected to return from Duat with the blessed dead and to make Egypt an everlasting paradise. The tales have wit, family drama, excitement, and more than the usual dose of spookiness. And they leave one in awe of the endurance of so many stories for such a long time - stories that make the human beings who dwell in them, and who told them, seem so close and vibrantly alive.
I think parents of all religious persuasions should read books like this with their children, read and discuss them. All English-speaking people can enjoy and benefit from such tales, which at the very least give us the magic of story (a type of magic that harms no one) and a perspective on the variety of human culture and the mystery of history. With Lancelyn Green telling the tale, the medicine goes down very easily indeed. I can hardly imagine a better introduction to a subject that some fascinated readers may choose to study in greater depth and detail.
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 10+
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