The Traditional Egyptian antecedents of Graeco-Roman post-mortem ascent

Eliezer Gonzalez

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Despite the greater antiquity of Egyptian civilisation, when we refer to Egyptian and Graeco-Roman cultures, we are generally referring to cultures that were contiguous, and the profound impact that Egyptian ideas had upon the Graeco-Roman world cannot be denied. In key respects, Egyptian views of the afterlife foreshadowed Graeco-Roman, Jewish, and early Christian conceptions, particularly in terms of the motif of postmortem ascent. Although the channels of transmission have been lost in antiquity, the motif may still be sketched clearly enough in both cultures to suggest that Egypt was an important source for its expression. After some methodological considerations, this essay will trace the motif of ascent as it was manifested in Graeco-Roman culture, and then analyze the nature of the ancient Egyptian evidence in order to suggest the existence of key elements of this same motif from the earliest times in ancient Egypt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-224
Number of pages34
JournalEl Futuro del Pasado
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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