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Pharaohs-were they tyrants?

 
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:52 pm    Post subject: Pharaohs-were they tyrants? Reply with quote

I just saw a comment on a website that really angered me. Someone was trying to compare the pharaohs of Egypt to such horrible people as Hitler, Stalin and Saddam, and said that because they thought they were gods and wanted to be treated like gods, they were tyrannical dictators. I can't believe the audacity of someone trying to compare the great kings of Egypt to the worst lowlifes in history. This to me sounds like someone who still believes the pyramids were built by slaves.

Sure the pharaohs thought they were divine, wanted their faces sculpted everywhere and so on, but they did not treat the people of Egypt like tyrants do, Egypt was a very prosperous country where many people lived a fair and just life. Perhaps the pharaoh who could be considered to be a 'tyrant' would be Rameses because he wanted his name and face sculpted everywhere, but in turn he created some of Egypt's finest monuments, such as Abu Simbel.

It reminded me of one time where someone tried to compare ancient Egypt to modern America under the Bush administration. Comparisons like this just don't work because, they are simply in different times in history.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It does seem dangerous to compare such an ancient civilization to modern day rulers.

It is true that in modern days you would have to be a bit of a psycho to demand that your image is shown and worshipped everywhere. The ruler of North Korea is known for that I think. (as wel as some other megalomaniacs)

But I do think that times were just different. I think that any "enlightened ruler" who would fit our description of a just and respected ruler would have been kiled or overthrown in no time flat in many (if not all?) other periods in history.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You mean Kim Jong Il? (Have you seen Team America? That movie is HILARIOUS! Laughing Kim's in that...and they also blow up the pyramids and the sphinx in that film-I hope no one gets any ideas from that bit!!!)

But I'm pretty sure the pharaohs of Egypt did not treat their people badly, like modern day megalomaniacs do.
However, Akhenaten did try to ban the old religion, quite forcefully too. He tried to move the state capital to his new perfected capital city, and so on. So maybe that's a pharoah we can fit under the tyrant category.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's hard to say what the people would have thought about their pharaoh. There are records of strikes among workers because they weren't being paid.
The huge monument building is a double edged sword. On the one hand it would have provided work, on the other hand it would have taken a lot of money which has to come from somewhere. And it's usually not from the rich...

The pharaoh would also somewhat regularly go on these punitive expeditions. These armies were not made up of volunteers I think. I'm not sure how being drafted into the army was viewed by the common people. even if there was honor attached to it, there's the "possibly getting killed" down-side.

My impression is that royalty led a very sheltered pampered life. Far away from the trials and tribulations of ordinary people. That usually means that they have no clue as to what the effects of their actions are. Not a recipe to create a benevolent ruler.
My guess is that during times that things were not going well the king would have been viewed as a tyrant.

But to equate them with some of the evil rulers is not quite fair I think. Their many hundreds of rulers must have included some real jerks, I'm not sure who would have been the worst though.
The times we tend to know the most about include the glory days (pyramid age, 12th dynasty, 18th/19th dynasty). Those rulers were in charge during the good times so I don't think they would be comparable to some of these despots you mentioned.

I'm not sure I have ever heard of a pharaoh committing crimes against his own people. (Plenty of stories of cruelty against others: public executions of captives, impaling enemies etc.)
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sinzi
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really don't think it is fair to compare the pharaohs with people like Stalin or Hitler. I mean there isn't much difference today from those times. There are cases of strike because poeple aren't paid, and in my country for example men still have to go to the army. it's the law. So why do people think that if that happened in those times it was a crime but it is ok for these things to happen today?! Shocked
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that they don't compare to Stalin, and defnitely not to Hitler.

The army is a bit of a different story. The pharaohs seem to have also gone on conquests, and expeditions for their own glory. But I agree that it still doesn't put them on the same level as forementioned people.

It is true though that some pharaohs took captives home only to brutally murder them and hang thier bodies on display (and in egypt, so you can't argue it's a deterrent). I believe it was Merneptah who is known to have impaled enemies. I know Segereh at some point posted a picture of an inscription showing such an impaling.
Maybe people heard things like that and went overboard?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did this characterization of the pharaoh as a tyrant by any chance come from a biblical scholar?
When I did a search on 'pharaoh' and 'cruelty' I got all these results mentioning how the pharaoah of the exodus was a cruel despotic ruler. Forced building projects using slaves, making bricks without straw, infanticide, etc.
I wonder if the person Isis mentioned got his/her information from a literal reading of the bible?
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sinzi
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I agree with you anneke that there were cases of crime but I think the whole story is overreacted. I'm not really a religious person and I really don't want to coment on the bible issue because that might offend some people. But sometimes I believe that people tend to take to seriously the bible.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2005 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I looked around on the web and I can't find much mention of ancient sources (besides the bible) that report cruelty by the pharaoh.

I did find mention of Cambyses II. He was pharaoh, but he was a Persian invader. Not sure he counts.
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We know very little about Cambyses II through contemporary texts, but his reputation as a mad tyrannical despot has come down to us in the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus (440 BC) and a Jewish document from 407 BC known as 'The Demotic Chronicle' which speaks of the Persian king destroying all the temples of the Egyptian gods. However, it must be repeatedly noted that the Greeks shared no love for the Persians. Herodotus informs us that Cambyses II was a monster of cruelty and impiety.

There's much more
After learning cats were sacred, he used them as a shield...

If these stories are true (sources are a bit questionable) then this Persian Pharaoh would fit the bill. Can't find any others so far though Very Happy
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I said before, I think the idea that the Pharaoh enslaved hebrews is outdated and there's evidence to show that Hebrews were not slaves. and of course, Hebrews didn't build the pyramids, nor did slaves. These are old and disproven ideas.

Maybe, it's possible that some pharaohs could have been sort of 'tyrants' but not like the most imfamous dictators and despots in history. But to lump every Egyptian king with that label of 'tyrant' is very narrow minded. I'm not sure of the person who said that's religious stance though, but he stated that he 'hates the romantic way that people view anceint Egypt.'
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sinzi
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

he stated that he 'hates the romantic way that people view anceint Egypt.'


I've never heard that before... Laughing

Quote:

But to lump every Egyptian king with that label of 'tyrant' is very narrow minded.


I agree with you isisnacrisis. I hate it when people have these kind of ideas. They don't want to search for information about the specific topic or to learn more about it, still they don't accept other opinions. Rolling Eyes
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think we can ever say that this or that pharaoh was tyrranical...or not. The Egyptians weren't big into recording unkind things about their kings. We can say that many of them were megalomaniacs. I don't think that can be argued. My own favorite king is Ramesses II (aka Ramesses the Great), who had probably one of the healthiest egos in all of history. In a society where the king was thought to be divine, we can hardly blame these men for believing the hype themselves.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
My own favorite king is Ramesses II (aka Ramesses the Great), who had probably one of the healthiest egos in all of history.


LOL Definitely no low self-esteem issues for that guy Laughing
Unless he was (over) compensating for something.....
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Unless he was (over) compensating for something.....


Is this perchance a reference to the royal phallus? Has anyone ever bothered to look under the kilts of the statues at Abu Simbel?

Let's see, those statues are nearly 70 feet tall, so it would follow that their phalli...

Never mind. We're Rated G, right?
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