Ancient Egypt 2675-332 B.c.e.: Literature - Research Article from Arts and Humanities Through the Eras

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The Literature of Moral Values

First Literature.

Egyptian noblemen recorded the earliest Egyptian literature in tomb inscriptions called autobiographies. They composed them in the first person and included some details of the author's own life. The real purpose of these texts is to demonstrate that the author lived a moral life. Thus the texts illustrate Egyptian ideas of morality. These texts are also the first attempts at extended narrative. Previous to these autobiographies, Egyptians wrote only short inscriptions, usually captions to tomb scenes carved in relief describing the action or identifying the participants. The autobiographies include three topics: protection of the tomb, major events in the tomb owner's life, and a moral self-portrait. These three areas correspond to ideas of self-esteem, interconnectedness with others, and recognition that the world is governed by an ideal of justice called maat. Maat...

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