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The Penguin Book of Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2010
The picture in the Amazon page doesn't do this book justice, it's a beautiful edition printed on very high quality paper with some fantastic illustrations which really brig some of these stories to life.

The writer focuses on primary sources which was refreshing. When I heard about this book I was worried it would be a silly rehash of "mummy" stories and Tutankhamun excavation myths. It is in fact much more academic in tone, but nonetheless very readable. I would say the myths and legends title is a little misleading as the content seems more about history and social history.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2010
Joyce Tyldesley expands on her previous book "Tales from Ancient Egypt" to great effect. Translating herself she re tells the stories so they flow in English. An excellent book with interesting and relevant photographs taken by her husband Steteven Snape. As well as the contents being excellent the cover is exceptionally effective as well as being attractive.
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on 4 August 2014
For anyone interested in ancient Egypt, it is often the mythology and the legends of the culture that can be the most difficult to grasp. They are frequently confusing – the confusion caused by the staggering time-span of the civilization of three thousand years.

Reliefs and inscriptions on temple and tomb walls and texts on papyrus all record aspects of the ancient religion and beliefs and the author has drawn from all the sources to present the myths and legends in an easily understood way.

After an introductory chapter giving a brief history of Egypt and explaining the chronology, the author looks at, in separate chapters: Creation, which relates the several creation myths; interestingly, although they differ, they were all thought to be valid by the ancient Egyptians.

Destruction, which looks at the myth of Osiris, the conflict of his son Horus with Seth and the important journey to the afterlife.

The Great Goddesses, which looks at various goddesses, including Sekhmet and the story of the Destruction of Mankind, and the story of Isis.

Finally, Heroes and Villains, which looks at stories concerning some of the kings of Egypt and the exploits and travels of Egyptians.

The myths and legends are all fascinating and this is a book that can be easily dipped into; each section can be read and enjoyed on its own merits.

Most importantly, the stories told here also help to bring ancient Egypt to life, revealing much about how the ancient Egyptians thought and about their fears and worries.

The book is illustrated, though it is difficult to illustrate some of the stories, something the ancient Egyptians themselves seem not to have done. Many such stories were probably told by story-tellers and priests, and passed on by word of mouth. On that basis, perhaps this is one time when one needs to use one’s imagination, as I am sure the ancient Egyptian would have done.

If you have been confused by the mythology in the past, or are new to the subject, then this is an excellent, easy-to-read book that will explain all you need to know.

Reviewed by ancientegyptmagazine dot com
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2013
I recently purchased this book as a gift for a friend who is in the midst of the Egyptian revolution. It then occurred to me that my entire knowledge of ancient Egypt comes to me from a childhood interest so I read it myself first. Rather than the basic guide I was expecting, I found one of the best popular academic books I've read in a very long time. It contains all the myths and legends that I was hoping to read about but also gives a real sense of where egyptology is now and how it developed, as well as evidence-based descriptions of ancient Egyptian culture, class-structure and worldview. Tyldesley's prose is compact yet clear, eminently readable, and it really feels like she wants to convey to you as much of her complex subject as she can. Considering the menagerie of peculiar names and colourful characters, such clarity is paramount to this book's success.

If you only read one Book of Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt, make it the Penguin Book of Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt.
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on 9 May 2015
Really fun and interesting collection of tales. I was reading it whilst cruising down the Nile and love how this book gives different and more mature perspectives to the "family friendly" versions the tour guides tell you!
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on 2 March 2015
I love the history of ancient Egypt and this book does not disappoint.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2012
well written, it came in great condition, in good time as described in the write up. would recommend this to anyone interested in the stories of ancient egypt
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2012
Egyptian mythology fluctuates along Egypt's three thousand years of history. Mother becomes wife or daughter, powers and physical attributes alter, etc. For example in the Old Kingdom Horus' mother is Hathor, while she is Isis in the Middle Kingdom, Hathor taking charge of other tasks.

Thus, for the sake of clarity and for a better understanding of the evolution of the Egyptian's mind and beliefs, it would have been a good idea to present a whole coherent set of myths, epoch by epoch. On the contrary, here the author presents one sort of myth at a time, putting in each all the deities involved in the 3000 years of evolution, as well as the side stories and different versions of the main story, which often becomes very confusing. Besides, this impedes any historic learning for those who, like me, know too little about Egyptian history.

I was also disappointed by the fact that J. Tyldesley does not translate the myths herself. Worse, she does not even respect the translations she uses ; she candidly explains (p.346) "where it seemed appropriate that the Egyptians should be allowed to speak for themselves, I have used direct translations". She does not even explain when She thinks that the Egyptians should express themselves directly. I don't care about Tyldesley's interpretations of Egyptian mythology, and I have much more respect for the likes of A. George who let the Sumerians and Babylonians present their versions of Gilgamesh (he translates their texts himself, does his best not to distort their voices, and has the humility to not even fill the numerous gaps between two readable portions of a text, thus respecting them and us).

There is one point though, where I would have liked to read J. Tyldesley's point of view, but she never expressed herself about it. I mean the book is all along tainted with homophobia... Since the Egyptians speak only when J. Tyldesley allows them to do so, we do not know if this homophobia comes from J. Tyldesley or from Egyptian taboos. Since Egyptians accepted incestuous brother-sister couples as Pharaohs, and since one of their main gods -Seth- killed his own brother, while it took years of other Seth's treacherous deeds for the gods to decide that Seth could not be king after all, they might also have accepted homosexual relationships, though some texts seem to prove the opposite ; if not, J. Tyldesley should have said a word to distance herself from Egyptian's homophobia.
One example of this cunning way of expressing homophobia while letting the reader hypothesizing about its origin is given p.262, where J. Tyldesley asserts that the king Ptolemy XII's nickname "Auletes (the flute player) [...] is more likely to have been a decidedly unflattering reference to his sexual proclivities." Even though Ptolemy XII was of Macedonian descent (like Alexander the great and his lifelong love Hephaestion), and really was a good and passionate flutist frequently engaged in some sorts of flute contests... Flute mastery is not necessarily the most important attribute for a pharaoh, so there was no need to see homophobia in this ironic nickname.
And there are plenty of these examples where the open-minded reader (at least me) feels insulted.

While the author never says a word against homophobia, she incessantly adds a feminist bias in her presentation and, in all likelihood, in her choice of the texts she presents. I do not criticize her feminist bias, but since she so often put the women in the foreground (even devoting the third part of the book to "The great goddesses" -no part for the great gods-), she could have spent one line to reassure the gays about her non-hostility.

My three stars come from three assets of the book. First, as its title indicate, it contains many myths and legends directly translated (though by others). They appear all through the book, but mostly in its fourth/last part. I enjoyed most of them. I was particularly moved by the magnificent "Great Hymn to the Aten".

Second, there are a comprehensive index and a "glossary of the major gods and heroes mentioned" which were of great help to me throughout my reading.

At last, this is a beautiful book, with 25 color photos inside and hard-wearing pages. It is rare to find such a qualitative edition at this price.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2013
I like this book very much igive it 5 as it tells me what i need to no also i will let people i no about it.
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