Virtues - Book Five (The Word of God Encyclopedia 7)

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Ma'at was the central cultural value of ancient Egypt which allowed the universe to function as it did. In making the confession, the soul was stating that it had adhered to this principle and that any failings were unintentional. In the following confession, Ani addresses himself to each of the 42 Judges in the hope that they will recognize his intentions in life, even if he may not always have chosen the right action at the right moment.

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One was not supposed to consider 'sins of omission' but only 'sins of commission' which were pursued intentionally. The following translation is by E.

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Each confession is preceded by a salutation to a specific judge and the region they come from. Some of these regions, however, are not on earth but in the afterlife. Hraf-Haf, for example, who is hailed in number 12, is the divine ferryman in the afterlife. In Ani's case, then, the 42 nomes are not fully represented some, in fact, are mentioned twice but the standard number of 42 is still adhered to. Prior to beginning the Confession, the soul would greet Osiris, make an assertion that it knew the names of the 42 Judges, and proclaim its innocence of wrong-doing, ending with the statement "I have not learnt that which is not.

Hail, Am-khaibit, who comest forth from Qernet, I have not slain men and women. Hail, Neb- Maat , who comest forth from Maati, I have not been an eavesdropper. Hail, Uamenti, who comest forth from the Khebt chamber, I have not debauched the wives of other men. Hail, Khemiu, who comest forth from Kaui, I have not transgressed the law. Hail, Ari-em-ab-f, who comest forth from Tebu, I have never stopped the flow of water of a neighbor.

Hail, Neheb-nefert, who comest forth from thy cavern, I have not stolen the bread of the gods. Hail, Tcheser-tep, who comest forth from the shrine, I have not carried away the khenfu cakes from the spirits of the dead. Hail, An-af, who comest forth from Maati, I have not snatched away the bread of the child, nor treated with contempt the god of my city.

Hail, Hetch-abhu, who comest forth from Ta-she, I have not slain the cattle belonging to the god. As noted, many of these would carry the stipulation of intention - such as "I have never raised my voice" - in that one may have actually raised one's voice but not in unjustified anger. This same could be said for "I have not multiplied my words in speaking" which does not refer to verbosity necessarily but duplicity.

Ani is saying he has not tried to obscure his meaning through wordplay. This same consideration should be used with claims like number 14 - "I have not attacked any man" - in that self-defense was justified. Claims such as 13 and 22 "I have not eaten the heart" and "I have not polluted myself" refer to ritual purity in that one has not participated in any activity proscribed by the gods. Number 13 could also be intended, however, as claiming one has not hidden one's feelings or pretended to be something one was not. Number 22 is sometimes translated as "I have not polluted myself, I have not lain with a man" just as number 11, dealing with adultery, sometimes adds the same line.

These lines have been cited as a condemnation of homosexuality in ancient Egypt, but such claims ignore the central focus of the Negative Confession on the individual. It might be wrong for Ani to have sexual relations with a man but not for someone else to do the same. Drunkenness was approved of in ancient Egypt, as was premarital sex, but only under certain conditions: one could get as drunk as one wished at a festival or party but not at work, and one could have as much premarital sex as one wanted but not with a person who was already married. This same may have held true for homosexual relationships.

Nowhere in Egyptian literature or religious texts is homosexuality condemned.

The Egyptians valued individuality. Their mortuary rituals and vision of the afterlife were predicated on this very concept. Tomb inscriptions, monuments, autobiographies, the Great Pyramid itself, were all expressions of an individual's life and accomplishments. The Negative Confession followed this same model as it was shaped to each person's character, lifestyle, and vocation. It was hoped that everyone who was deserving would be justified in the afterlife and that it would be recognized, whatever their personal failings, that they should be allowed to continue their journey to paradise.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

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We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Become a Member. Mark, J. The Negative Confession. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Mark, Joshua J. Last modified April 27, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 27 Apr Written by Joshua J.

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  • This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Mark published on 27 April Remove Ads Advertisement. The Confession is significant for modern-day Egyptologists in understanding ancient Egyptian cultural values in the New Kingdom. The soul was provided with a list it could speak truthfully in front of the gods instead of a standard inventory of sins everyone would have to recite.

    Bibliography Bunson, M. The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Gramercy Books, Faulkner, R. The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. British Museum Press, Gibson, C. The Hidden Life of Ancient Egypt. Saraband, Goelet, O. The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Chronicle Books, Pinch, G. Oxford University Press, Silverman, D. Ancient Egypt. Simpson, W. The Literature of Ancient Egypt. This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations.

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    Main article: Cardinal virtues. Main article: Theological virtues.

    What is Virtue? (Aristotle's Doctrine of the Mean)

    New York: Robert Appleton Company, In Herbermann, Charles ed. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. Retrieved 6 April Boston: Brill. Seven virtues in Christian ethics.

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