Non-Royal Self-Presentation
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Non-Royal Self-Presentation

  • Author(s): Bassir, Hussein
  • et al.

In ancient Egypt the primary intention of creating textual self-presentations—or self-portraiture in words, similar to that in paintings, statuary, and reliefs—was to present the explicit characteristics of protagonists in a corresponding fashion, introducing their values and effectiveness to live and rejoice in immortality, both in the afterlife and in the consciousness and thoughts of Egypt’s subsequent generations. The practice of self-presentation was rooted in Egyptian literature from at least the Third Dynasty, and through the course of dynastic history, it differed in aspect, composition, and theme. Self-presentations show the lives of the elites, vividly portraying their beliefs, culture, and expectations for the afterlife. The relationship between royalty and nobility in self-presentations is alluring and informative and compels us to envision the times and the contingencies in which they were created. These texts also make explicit their owners’ wish to be remembered—not forgotten—after death. The presentation of the non-royal self in ancient Egypt represents a window into its culture and historical periods.

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