Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Books read in 2015: No. 14 -- The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians

by Sir E.A. Wallis Budge

Started: March 23
Finished: April 8

Notes: For a long while I've been neglecting my readings of ancient history, so I thought I would try this 1914 publication from noted historian and member of the British Museum, Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, who spent much of his adult life traveling between Egypt, the Sudan, and Europe, all while penning numerous texts concerning Egyptology and other topics pertaining to the Far East. Obviously this text will be dated, but I read it not only for itself, but to see the ideas other generations had about the ancients.

Mini review: There's a little bit of everything here, from heroic stories, fairy tales, mythology, magic spells, poetry, funerary rites, and more. Admittedly not all of this is electrifying reading, but the author does a good job of paraphrasing in some cases, and he points out spots where the text remained in question due to a lack of translation; he also points out when part of a text had been lost or if in some of it the translation remained questionable (during his time, anyway, which means it's interesting to research now, a hundred years later, to find out if we've learned more ... and no, I won't be giving away free spoilers). Beyond any pure historical interests, I think this book and those like it should be important for other fantasy writers (and even Dungeon Masters). If you want some of your characters to have authentic-sounding rites and prayers and the like, this book gives solid examples of this from ancient times. You also can learn plenty of ancient names that could be used or reworked for characters.


Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks for the heads up. This sounds cool and useful.

Ty said...

I wanted to add ... from a religious pov, it was interesting to note many similarities with the Bible, and one has to wonder how much influence ancient Egyptian thought had on the Old Testament, especially considering Moses was supposedly raised and educated in Egypt.