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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

372                The Legacy to Modern Egypt
Already in the Old Kingdom this concentration had reached
such a pitch that much of the energies of the people was dedi-
cated to the service of the king.
Having done its work the divinity of kings has become super-
fluous and has so far evaporated that traces of it are now very
hard to find. As has often happened in the history of civiliza-
tions, it has all been concentrated in one last holder, a prophet,
who continues to reign in the spirit for ever and so has no suc-
cessor.1 In Islam even that prophet does not enjoy full divinity,
but only the nearest that Islam allows to it, proximity to God.
That belongs so pre-eminently to the Prophet that it can only
be enjoyed in a minor degree by anyone else. Much that was
royal has thus passed to the Prophet. If Pharaoh's name was
mentioned it was followed by some such prayer as "May he live,
be hale and healthy'. Now it is the Prophet who enjoys the
addition, cGod bless him and preserve him'.
The gap between the god and the king had already begun
to widen in very early times. Already in the Fifth Dynasty the
king from being Horus and Great God had been lowered to
Son of Rec and Good God. Successive ages have widened it into
that proximity which, as we shall see, is so characteristic of
Islam.
This lowering of the king's status in relation to the deity has
not always had such a disturbing effect on custom as might be
expected. Thus the ancient Egyptians used to build temples in
connexion with the tombs of their kings, mortuary temples, as
they are called. The modern Egyptians build domed tombs for
their rulers and attach to them a mosque. These tombs form
cities not unlike those of the Pyramid Age. The externals have
changed: domes, rare in the Sixth Dynasty, are now inevitable;,
the Qur'an provides the decoration instead of bas-reliefs for-
bidden by the religion; if the ceiling is still adorned with stars
1 Hocart, KingsUp (Clarendon Press, 1927)3 izoff.; Kings and Councillors
(Luzac & Co., 1936), 168 fi.