Author Topic: Egyptian Mythology, Predynastic Period, The Goddess, Maat  (Read 26 times)

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Egyptian Mythology, Predynastic Period, The Goddess, Maat
« on: April 18, 2015, 10:40:55 pm »
The Goddess Maat

Goddess of truth and justice.

Maat was both the goddess and the personification of truth and justice. Her ostrich feather represents truth.
Major cult center   All ancient Egyptian cities
Symbol   the ostrich feather
Consort   Thoth (in some accounts)
Parents   Ra

Maat or Ma'at was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological counterpart was Isfet.

The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BCE).[1]

Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth and their attributes are the similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of writing and measure, who is a lesser known deity.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat.[2] Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.

Pharaohs are often depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.[3]

Winged Maat
Maat represents the ethical and moral principle that every Egyptian citizen was expected to follow throughout their daily lives. They were expected to act with honor and truth in manners that involve family, the community, the nation, the environment, and god.[4]

Maat as a principle was formed to meet the complex needs of the emergent Egyptian state that embraced diverse peoples with conflicting interests.[5] The development of such rules sought to avert chaos and it became the basis of Egyptian law. From an early period the King would describe himself as the "Lord of Maat" who decreed with his mouth the Maat he conceived in his heart.

The significance of Maat developed to the point that it embraced all aspects of existence, including the basic equilibrium of the universe, the relationship between constituent parts, the cycle of the seasons, heavenly movements, religious observations and fair dealings, honesty and truthfulness in social interactions.[6]

The ancient Egyptians had a deep conviction of an underlying holiness and unity within the universe. Cosmic harmony was achieved by correct public and ritual life. Any disturbance in cosmic harmony could have consequences for the individual as well as the state. An impious King could bring about famine or blasphemy blindness to an individual.[7] In opposition to the right order expressed in the concept of Maat is the concept of Isfet: chaos, lies and violence.[8]

In addition to the importance of the Maat, several other principles within ancient Egyptian law were essential, including an adherence to tradition as opposed to change, the importance of rhetorical skill, and the significance of achieving impartiality, and social justice. In one Middle Kingdom (2062 to c. 1664 BCE) text the Creator declares "I made every man like his fellow". Maat called the rich to help the less fortunate rather than exploit them, echoed in tomb declarations: "I have given bread to the hungry and clothed the naked" and "I was a husband to the widow and father to the orphan".[9]

To the Egyptian mind, Maat bound all things together in an indestructible unity: the universe, the natural world, the state, and the individual were all seen as parts of the wider order generated by Maat.

A passage in The Instruction of Ptahhotep presents Ma'at as follows:

Ma'at is good and its worth is lasting. It has not been disturbed

since the day of its creator, whereas he who transgresses its ordi-

nances is punished. It lies as a path in front even of him who knows

nothing. Wrongdoing has never yet brought its venture to port.

It is true that evil may gain wealth but the strength of truth is that

it lasts; a man can say: "It was the property of my father. [10]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
« Last Edit: September 12, 2015, 11:37:27 am by Golden Falcon ☥ »

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