17. THE DEATH OF TUTANKHAMEN And thus went the days of ruling; the tenuous tenure of Tutankhamen. However he tried to placate the priesthood, they were still hostile, and would then demand that he go even further. Their thirst for reprisal would not relent. There would be demands before him that there would be no way could be meant, for they would seek contempt for his father and for the humanity which he stood for, and they began to see that as he grew older, and stronger, the things they abhorred and that the young Tutankhamen believed in -- nay, they were the essence of his soul -- would not mesh with their programs; he would stand between them and their goal. In truth, what Tut was doing was simply trying to buy the time to grow stronger and older, believing that the ideas would work their rhyme over Egypt and fully undermine so the feudal power of the Isis Cult. And the name of the god would mean little if all the magic and sorcery would halt. Yet, now Tut was beginning to consider that under the tutelage of Horemheb and Ai, given the pressure of Isis and the tradition they would invoke, that the Renaissance would die, and he was faced with the impending ruin of the most civilized people on earth, hardly the role that this Pharaoh had been prepared for even from birth. The people of Egypt were raised in nakedness from the time they were young. When they grew, it seemed a sacrilege for women to hide their beautiful forms from view, but if that was true, there was much they could not see, or ignored, or could not do much about, for the nation-state, Renaissance, and King Tut, and the lot would all soon perish from Egypt, though, indeed, the thoughts would not die. If Tutankhamen made Aton into Amen, there are those who hold that is why in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as we offer prayer up to the one God, when we conclude our praise or beseeching, the words are addended "Amen." Meanwhile, back at the Palace, Tutankhamen had begun to fall ill, surrounded by the priests of the temple and their 'physicians' who worked their will of remedies that turned to cantations and their magic and then sorcery, while the malady advanced in stages growing worse and worse steadily. And in the eighth year of his reign, in the third month of the Akhet, with his teen-aged Queen beside him, and in spite of all the doctors had set of their 'science,' which was only magic, upon him -- indeed, undoubtedly, they hastened the work of the poison with a blow to the head, and Tut's life ceased to be. "The God enters into his double horizon, King Tutankhamen soars into the sky, taking the form of the great Sun-disk, and the limbs of the God drawing nigh are absorbed in him who had created them. The Palace is silent, in mourning, are hearts; the Double Great Door is sealed; in grief, the people lament as he departs." Whatever else the High Priest gave Tutankhamen, he gave him a papyrus sixty feet long, containing four hundred and fifty three chapters, so as to guide Tutankhamen along the journey he would now be taking -- this Egyptian Book of the Dead would lead his way into paradise -- as his earthly shell of man was shed. 18. "GOING OUT INTO THE DAY" "I am he who existed in Nothingness, I am he who creates, I am he who will create himself. I am yesterday, I know tomorrow and forever what will be." He knew in the end he would be merged in the divine with freedom "to dwell in or leave the tomb and Paradise, to come down to Earth, to sail in the sky in the boat of the gods, to visit the stars in the shape of a man or as a god," the Book told him, and now Tut belonged to the land, for his brown eyes closed forever. The stern face of the most beautiful Pharaoh gently relaxed as the great sleep began. Death took Tutankhamen back to go to the divine home from which he had been exiled during his sojourn on the earth. The Queen wept alongside Nefertiti, barely twenty years now from her birth. Tutankhamen was stretched out naked in the darkness of a chamber underground. The light of red candles set in gold sticks was flickering its light all around. With prayers and the sacred instruments, the masters marked and cut and withdrew the internal organs, washed the cavities with palm wine and then into them they inserted spices, with prayer. And then they dipped the body in a great vat of liquid natron. Then they went out, walking backwards from where they were at, to allow the sacred remains of their master to macerate for seventy days. When they returned, they lifted Pharaoh, and stuffed the abdomen and face by way of the incisions, which had remained open, as the natron took rigidity from the limbs, with fine linen and sawdust of scented wood, and crossed the arms as all Pharaohs like him. The ceremony was conducted according to the same pious unchangeable canon that had been used for millennia in Egypt, guaranteeing eternity for Tutankhamen. They closed each toe in a gold case and set a small cup of white linen which bore the symbols of Aton on the head of the mummy, and then laid a mask of pitch upon the face and then a light piece of lawn, spreading soft material all along the body, which they swaddled in a web drawn tightly that was of mystical wrappings. As they did all this, the priest with the roll said the appropriate prayer over each to open happy roads to his body and soul. And the priest chanted while they wound a strip of papyrus around Pharaoh's neck, sealed by a scarab of green paper with an inscription which bade to protect his human heart bearing witness against him at the last judgment. Wrappings were laid on, crossing over and over again Pharaoh as jewels were added. The diadem which Tutankhamen had so often worn was, by the Master, placed on the King's head. Still more wrappings and a gold mask were placed on, and the Ba Bird was spread on the arms, and daggers at both sides. Finally, the officiates wrapped the mummy in bank after band of gold tissue. Then the priests with the roll gently, and aided by Ai, lifted the mummy and laid it in the first coffin, the precious wood of which was hidden by gold plating. And within the coffin, under the pillow was Pharaoh's own Book of the Dead. By his side was the Queen's perfume box, placed there by her request, it is said. 19. KING TUT'S TOMB The priests anointed the mummy with ointment and covered it with a gold wrought lid. The gold mask was an impression of his face. A whip and crook into each hand were then slid. They wrapped him up in a sheet which they covered with garlands of flowers, and then, it was laid into a second gold coffin and then another third coffin again; each one, a replica enlarged of the first. He was then carried to the Palace where the little Queen observed all the rites for seventy days. Before he was there, she had been searching for a new husband, which she had only three months to do so she could reign and he would be Pharaoh -- something she was unable to do. After eighty days, the great procession proceeded out of Thebes and to the west, crossing the Nile crowded with barges to the Valley of the Kings for his rest. At the foot of the peak dedicated to Mersker, the form of Tut stood before its tomb. The high priest and Ai, Tut's successor, performed, without the cover of a chapel room -- for in the haste and political climate, none had been built as tradition required -- the celebration of the divine mystery of the Opening of the Mouth. Thus acquired was freedom for his soul to go with the gods. Two priests took the mummy on down the sixteen steps of the porch and into the House of Eternity, a small cell abound with splendor, and in its very center was the sarcophagus made of quartzite, over which its pink granite lid was hung from the ceiling by pulleys, and right above them also hung each of the lids of the four shrines, each of which fit into the next. The light of torches flickered about the chamber and lit the dazzling spectacle of the House of Eternity. The mummy, borne on a lion-shaped bier, and secured in the triple gold coffin, was gently laid on the sarcophagus here, covered with a great sheet over which flowers and perfumes were ritually cast, and then slaves lowered each of the lids which the priests joined and sealed steadfast with gold panels. By now the chamber was so crowded, it was increasingly difficult to breath let alone to move, so as slaves went about busily filling the chamber and the antechamber with an exquisite array of artifacts, the priests recited the last prayers and along with the throng pulled back. All the crowd withdrew for the banquet and they watched as Ai now withdrew, and the tomb was sealed up by slaves ritually and under the priests' overview. Ai, whose claim to the throne of Egypt was secured by his marriage to Ti, the Royal Nurse, reigned for but five years. To do the work of his young master, he would try. His was followed by that of Horemheb -- an astute politician he had become, so much so as to turn the recantation of Tutankhamen into persecution which, in sum, not only restored Amen and the priesthood and rooted out the vestiges of heresy, but, in a frenzy, removed all its followers and obliterated meticulously all statues or marks of the religion and defaced those of Ikhanaton and was even directed against Tutankhamen -- Horemheb restored the kingdom. Yet, he was the first to issue an edict for the maintenance of the army and the administration of his nation of Egypt "in perfect order and with honesty." 20. APOTHEOSIS Across the dry sands and Nile in Egypt, one may yet hear the voice of Ikhanaton reciting the ancient Dialogue of an Egyptian with his Spirit through these generations: "Brethren are cruel and the friends of today love no more. The hearts of men are violent. There are no longer any just men. The gentle perish and the strong are triumphant. And the earth is delivered over to the sinner. Death appears to me as the great cure of a sick man, death with the sweet smell of the lotus. Death will rest secure, on the shore of a land of drunkenness, like to a sailor's homecoming to be. Death I desire as every man desires to see his home after long captivity." Still, if Ikhanaton, and with him Nefertiti and Tutankhamen, went home to dwell, after all of these thirty-four centuries, the history of man since them, as a bell rings out of their life, their death, their works, though the priests of Isis, a weakened throne sought, and to obliterate it all from the mind of man. Irony or justice leaves us what they wrought. In their work, they created the first nation-state and led man to understand that he is indeed God or at least God's hand, as the sons of the one God of eternity, on the earth, and through our reason and morality, to create as we do. There have been other nations and renaissances since the days of their time, it is true, but they have been all in their image from the Gupta to Shih Huang Ti, from Solomon to Plato to Alexander, from the Timurid to Plethon and da Vinci, and from the Tudors to the Commonwealth and to the work of Benjamin Franklin. When Schiller wrote of the Gotterfunken, the divine spark, and then Beethoven sat that Ode to Joy into his music in the higher hypothesis in its foray, they were echoing the work of that Pharaoh Ikhanaton had invoked in his day. And this was the Word which John spoke of -- the children of God of Jesus and Paul -- as it was the Golden Soul of Plato and the answer to Dante's divine call. And after Ikhanaton reigned in Egypt, Pharaoh from then on was but a man -- the lock and seal were broken and man would not accept oppression. In their wake came the rule of Rameses and the oppression of the Hebrews, and the chosen people of the One God were brought up and they were caused to be freed from bondage in Egypt, led by one raised up as a Prince of Egypt -- who might have been Pharaoh: Moshe or Moses, who was to rinse the sins of Egypt in its own blood, by the power and will of the Lord. Only a century after Ikhanaton, the will of the one true God outpoured. The Cult of Isis was to work its evil against the Word through other days, but the epitaph they set upon the tomb if Ikhanaton through the eons still prays: "I breathe the sweet breath of they mouth, O my God. My desire is that I may hear thy voice even in the North Wind, and that thou mayest one day rejuvenate my body by thy love, and that, by it, I may live eternally, O my God, I admire thy beauty always;" though they meant it contemptuously. For that renaissance is the paradigm of what man is and what he becomes -- our apotheosis ringing or Ikhanaton's life and from the death of Tutankhamen. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ronald Gordon Ziegler has been a teacher with the Detroit Public Schools since1967 and also has served as an adjunct faculty member in economics, political science, history, and philosophy at Detroit College of Business in Warren, Michigan since 1987. He is currently completing his PhD in Political Science and Philosophy at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he is also an adjunct faculty member. He is married to Fayette Jones-Ziegler and they have three children -- Alexander who is 9, Sarah who is 7, and Kalani who is 5. Among recent projects he has undertaken are this e journal of poetry and the e Journal of Political Science, (www.geocities.com:/CapitolHill/Lobby/2897)e Journal of Political Science, both of which he is editing.He may be contacted at rzieg98717@aol.com. To view the editor's resume Click here


Volume I Number 1 Spring 1997 Any portion of this publication may be used for solely and specifically academic or scholarly purposes, provided clear attribution of authorship and source are sighted. Alternative publication is prohibited without specific permission from the author and the editor of POeTRY POeTRY EAST POINTE ACADEMY PRESS 15744 CRESCENTWOOD EAST POINTE, MI. 48021 rzieg97818@aol.com Continue To the beginning