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Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature
by Henri Frankfort
University of Chicago Press, 1978
Cloth: 978-0-226-26010-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-26011-2
Library of Congress Classification BL325.K5F7 1978
Dewey Decimal Classification 299.31

This classic study clearly establishes a fundamental difference in viewpoint between the peoples of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. By examining the forms of kingship which evolved in the two countries, Frankfort discovered that beneath resemblances fostered by similar cultural growth and geographical location lay differences based partly upon the natural conditions under which each society developed. The river flood which annually renewed life in the Nile Valley gave Egyptians a cheerful confidence in the permanence of established things and faith in life after death. Their Mesopotamian contemporaries, however, viewed anxiously the harsh, hostile workings of nature.

Frank's superb work, first published in 1948 and now supplemented with a preface by Samuel Noah Kramer, demonstrates how the Egyptian and Mesopotamian attitudes toward nature related to their concept of kingship. In both countries the people regarded the king as their mediator with the gods, but in Mesopotamia the king was only the foremost citizen, while in Egypt the ruler was a divine descendant of the gods and the earthly representative of the God Horus.

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