Compare And Contrast Ancient Greek And Egypt

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Throughout the test of time one question has remained, what does it mean to be a human? In the ancient world this question was both pondered and ignored. Two ancient civilizations had very different thoughts when it came to human life, these civilizations being the Greeks and the Egyptians. When one examines the religion and government of these two great civilizations a very stark contrast is seen. Egypt, an advanced kingdom in the northeast of Africa worshipped numerous gods, one of these gods being their pharaoh. The pharaoh had absolute rule because he was considered from the gods. In Greece the connection between church and state was less so than in Egypt, especially in Athens, and in the Athenian run Delian league. In Athens the people…show more content…
An Egyptian who did not follow Ma’at was not allowed to live an afterlife, but instead was swallowed up and ceased to exist. By blaming everything, good or bad, on the gods Egyptians viewed themselves as nothing more than a leaf in river Nile; they had no control as to where they were going, they were just along for the ride. They could live a good life, yes, to assure a comfortable afterlife but as the Egyptian text Hymn to Ra states, if “[the gods] cease [their] toil and [their] work, then all that exists is in anguish. If the gods suffer in heaven, then the faces of men waste away... [the face of god] shines, the earth is joyous, every stomach is full of rejoicing, every spine is happy,” The Egyptian religion’s main function was to please the gods, because if the gods were not happy, then something unfavorable would happen in the lives of the Egyptian people. By believing that people were just at the will of the gods, the Egyptians viewed humanity as little more than slaves to the gods. By believing their place in life was just a leaf in a river, able to be pushed and pulled by whatever forces, the Egyptians saw themselves as a people without freedom. They had to serve the gods in order for good things to happen. A good harvest was not a result of hard work toiling in the fields, but because one prayed or sacrificed enough to deem himself worthy of a…show more content…
The gods could meddle in the lives of their subjects, like they did with Odysseus in the Iliad, but could not change his fate, (which was to return home). The gods acted like humans in many circumstances, they acted out of anger, greed, and lust (even coming down to earth to make love to human women). The gods were immortal, but not all powerful. By worshipping gods that were believed to not control all aspects of life, the Greeks put all the perceived power in the hands of its citizens. All decisions that were brought down by the assembly were by the assembly. The gods could meddle, but all the blame was left with the people of Greece for all good or bad. If a farmer’s crop failed, it was not because the gods were angry it was fate. It was bound to happen because the farmer did not work hard enough, or it was bound to happen because there was a storm that destroyed the crops. It was fate that caused things to happen, not the heavy hand of the gods. In ancient Greece, there was a system in place not dissimilar to Maat, called hubris. Hubris was a code of ethics that, when broken, offended the gods. Hubris was a code that protected a man’s pride and honor. By having a code that protected a man’s pride and honor, its plain to see that Greeks cared about humanity. Greek religion protected a man’s honor and integrity; also it affirmed that man is not totally
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