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Ipuwer and perfect misery: Why did the Egyptians like pessimism?

 

 

 

 

Saturday 12 November 2016
2.00 pm
Venue Oakwood Centre

 

Abstract

Public Lecture:
By  Dr Roland Enmarch


Dr Roland EnmarchThe Middle Egyptian literary work The Dialogue of Ipuwer and the Lord of All is an exploration of the problem of evil: if the creator god is good, why did he make a world where so many suffer? Is it god's fault, or humanity's? These questions are asked by the singer Ipuwer, whose laments give us a panoramic view of an Egypt in social and moral chaos; the replies offered to him by the Lord of All are, if anything, even more bleak in their outlook. The pessimistic tone of this poem stands in stark contrast to the popular view of Egyptian civilisation as having a largely optimistic and positive outlook, but it can be found in some other Egyptian texts, and more broadly the exploration of theodicy discussed in Ipuwer can be compared to similar works found in other cultures, such as the Book of Job in the Old Testament. This talk will seek to explore the role and function of this pessimism in Egyptian culture.

Roland Enmarch read Egyptology with Akkadian at University College, Oxford, before obtaining his doctorate in Ancient Egyptian Literature at Worcester College, Oxford. He is currently a Lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, working on questions of genre and intertextuality in Egyptian written culture. His previous books include A World Upturned:

 

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