Reflections of Osiris

Reflections of Osiris : Lives from Ancient Egypt

By (author) John Ray

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Spanning more than two millennia, Reflections of Osiris opens a small window into a timeless world, capturing the flavor of life in ancient Egypt through vivid profiles of eleven actual people and the god Osiris. Some of the figures profiled here are famous. Ray discusses Imhotep, whom he calls "Egypt's Leonardo"-the royal architect of the Step Pyramid, high priest of the sun cult, and a man of great medical skill. We meet Hatshepsut, a rare female Pharaoh, who had herself depicted as a male figure in temple scenes, ceremonial beard and all. Horemheb, who rose from local politician to general and finally to king. And the legendary magician, Pharaoh Nectanebo II, the greatest builder of temples. Equally intriguing are the lives of everyday Egyptians who are also resurrected here. There is Heqanakhte, a cantankerous peasant farmer who has problems with his sons-and they with their stepmother. And Petiese, a scribe whose petition to the authorities preserves a feud stretching back over generations. Most fascinating of all are the people of the Serapeum: a Greek recluse, his brother (a rootless adolescent and police informer), two temple dancers with financial difficulties, and a temple scribe. All of whom we come to know intimately-even their dreams. Last comes the god Osiris, judge of the netherworld, creator of the land of Egypt, before whom all would appear at the end of their lives. Reflections of Osiris captures the full spectrum of life in ancient Egypt. With more than twenty halftones and several maps, this superb volume will fascinate anyone interested in an inside look at the great ancient civilization of the Nile.

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  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 144.3 x 219.5 x 20.6mm | 381.02g
  • 19 Sep 2002
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • 2 maps, numerous line drawings and halftones
  • 0195158717
  • 9780195158717

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Author Information

John Ray is the Herbert Thompson Reader in Egyptology in the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Selwyn College. He previously worked in the British Museum and has been a Visiting Professor at Yale and the University of Chicago. He writes regularly for The Times (London), TLS, and The London Review of Books. A well-known radio commentator, he presented the recent BBC-TV documentary "Ramesses the Great."

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Review quote

"A writer with a wry streak, Ray provides an exciting introduction to Egyptology... By means of a dozen mini-biographies, this Egyptologist lends a fascinatingly vivifying touch to pharaonic civilization. So fragmentary are its records and ruins that it would seem impossible to glimpse the persons behind the pharaohs' glory-be-to-me monumentalism, but Ray more than meets the challenge."-Booklist

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