Since the time of Herodotus, animal worship has been regarded by the ancient writers as one of the most bizarre but at the same time peculiar features of the Egyptian religion, arousing curiosity, derision, condemnation, and thus being rarely understood in its ideological foundations. However, despite the abundance of prejudices, they often record precise details about places and dynamics of these practices while Herodotus (II 67, 74) clearly shows how much widespread and deeply rooted in the territory they were. In dealing with this topic, this paper intends to outline how the Egyptian conceived these creatures and which was the meaning of the two main categories the texts allow us to identify, the animal-god and the sacred-animal, ascertaining the specific arrangements and the lexical choices by means of which such a distinction was expressed. That such a dichotomy was clearly perceived as an effective one, we are well informed by classical sources, in primis Strabo passage (XVII 1, 22) about animal theoi and ieroi while the Egyptian textual and artistic evidences, strongly corroborate this impression. They not only establish a clear difference between the single specimen, in which it was believed a particular deity became permanently embodied, and the multiplicity of animals consecrated en masse to a certain god but also clarify how the relationship between the two classes was defined: while the single animal enjoys both a royal and divine status already during his lifetime, the plurality of sacred animals can achieve a similar condition only after death.
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|Titolo:||Theoi and ‘Ieroi: some remarks upon the animal cult in ancient Egypt according to classical and Egyptian texts|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2014|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||04b Atto di convegno in volume|