Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE DEAD PHARAOH ASCENDS TO HEAVEN

(From the 'Pyramid Texts')

The so-called Pyramid Texts are religious texts inscribed on the interior walls of the pyramids of certain pharaohs of the fifth and sixth dynasties (Ca. 2425-2300 B.C.).-The Pyramid Texts contain the oldest references to Egyptian cosmology and theology, but they are primarily concerned with the victorious passage of the dead pharaoh to his new, celestial abode.

Thy two wings are spread out like a falcon with thick plumage, like the hawk seen in the evening traversing the sky (Pyr. 1048).

He flies who flies; this king Pepi flies away from you, ye mortals. He is not of the earth, he is of the sky. . . . This king Pepi flies as a cloud to the sky, like a masthead bird; this king Pepi kisses the sky like a falcon, this king Pepi reaches the sky like Horizon-god (Harakhte) (Pyr. 890-1).

Thou ascendest to the sky as a falcon, thy feathers are (those of) geese (Pyr. 913).

King Unis goes to the sky, king Unis goes to the sky! On the wind! On the wind ! (Pyr. 309)-

Stairs to the sky are laid for him that he may ascend thereon to the sky (Pyr. 365).

King Unis ascends upon the ladder which his father Re (the Sun-god) made for him (Pyr. 390)

Atum has done that which he said he would do for this king Pepi II, binding for him the rope-ladder, joining together the (wooden) ladder for this king Pepi II; (thus) this king is far from the abomination of men (Pyr. 2083)-

'How beautiful to see, how satisfying to behold,' say the gods, when this god (meaning the king) ascends to the sky. His fearfulness is on his head, his terror is at his side, his magical charms are before him.' Geb has done for him as was done for himself (Geb). The gods and souls of Buto, the gods and souls of Hierakonpolis, the gods in the sky and the gods on earth come to him. They make supports for king Unis on their arms. Thou ascendest, 0 King Unis, to the sky, Ascend upon it in this its name 'Ladder' (Pyr. 476-9).

[Over and over again we find the assurance that the double doors of the sky are opened before the pharaoh.]

Opened are the double doors of the horizon; unlocked are its bolts (Pyr. 194; -n.b. this is a constant refrain in the Pyramid Texts; cf. 603, 604, 408, etc).

[The King's heralds hasten to announce his advent to the Sun god.]

Thy messengers go, thy swift messengers run, thy heralds make haste. They announce to Re that thou hast come, (even) this king Pepi ( 1539-40)-

This king Pepi found the gods sanding, wrapped in their garments, their white sandals on their feet. They cast off their white sandals to the earth, they throw off their garments. 'Our heart was not glad until thy coming,' say they (Pyr. 1197).

[More often the gods themselves proclaim the pharaoh's coming.]

0 Re-Atum! This king Unis comes to thee, an imperishable gloriousom, lord of the affairs of the place of the four pillars (the sky). Thy son comes to thee. This king Unis comes to thee (Pyr. . 217)-

[The dead pharaoh boldly approaches the Sun god with the words:]

1, 0 Re, am this one of whom thou didst say . . . 'My son!' , father are thou, 0 Re. . . . Behold king Pepi, 0 Re. This king Pepi is thy son. . . . This king Pepi shines in the east like Re, he goes in the west like Kheprer. This king Pepi lives on what whereon Horus (son of Re) lord of the sky lives, by command of Horus lord of the sky' (Pyr. 886-8).

The king ascends to the sky among the gods dwelling in the sky. He stands on the great [dais], he hears (in judicial session) the (legal) affairs of men. Re finds thee upon the shores of the sky in this lake that is in Nut (the Sky-goddess). 'The arriver comes !' say the gods. He (Re) gives thee his arm on the stairway to the sky. 'He who knows his place comes,' say the gods. 0 Pure One, assume thy throne in the barque of Re and sail thou the sky. . . . Sail thou with the Imperishable Stars, sad thou with the Unwearied Stars. Receive thou the tribute' of the Evening Barque, become thou a spirit dwelling in Dewat. Live thou this pleasant life which the lord of the horizon lives (Pyr. 1169-72)-

Translation by J. H. Breasted, in his Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (Chicago, 1912), pp. l09-15, 118-20, 122, 136

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