Valued qualities of Kings in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
5000 years ago, as people discovered or invented more and more tools, agriculture replaced hunting and gathering became the main path food comes from. Because of the higher productivity agriculture has and agriculture’s need of settlement, people settled down from then on and cities came into being at that time, which happened at Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt at first. As the population grew up in these cities, people met with the need of better organizing. As a result, leaders were needed for the first time. What made leaders different from others? Here I’m going to share the three main valued qualities in my opinion, which are superhuman characters or controlling over religion, ability to organize a civilized, stable society and ability to protect their cities. I believe they are the reason why leaders of Egypt and Mesopotamia were different from others at time. The first kind is superhuman characters or control over religion. Superhuman character is obviously one of the important valued qualities.
Gilgamesh Tale provides us a nice example. “He was wise, he saw mysteries and knew secret things, and he brought us a tale of days before the flood.” “When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sin endowed him with beauty, Adad the god of storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull. Two thirds they made him god and one third man.”(Reilly 45) Gilgamesh was unusually strong for his people, people were afraid of him, so they obeyed his command. Tales are usually believed fake nowadays; at least we cannot prove any of them real, but tales were made up for honor. When someone was so strong that his power is out of the imagining range of the public or did something so good like predict the coming of flood, ancient people would honor him as the leader as well as wrote a tale for him. With these proves I believe it is not difficult to find out that superhuman characters or control over religion for these kings is a valued quality. As well as superhuman characters, Religion control is also an important method, in the role of leader playing, to control the public’s mind, no matter in Middle Ages or the origin of civilization. Just the primary source we have tells us “These kings were able to endow their control with religious sanction. In Egypt and America the king was god. In Mesopotamia a new class of priests carried out the needs of king’s religion of control.” (Reilly 36) At that time, when science was rarely discovered than today and less believed than superstition, people were likely to be convinced in the name of gods or deities. If anyone could take the control of general religion, there would be no doubt that he could easily take the control of people’s minds and became the leader of city. In this way pharaohs were able to rein the ancient Egypt for hundreds of years as the incarnations of god, although they could not be, and kings of cities in Mesopotamia enjoyed a disproportionate right.
Some people might argue, that priests in Mesopotamia were not the real leaders because the cities were controlled by kings, but I think we could consider them as an integral leading class. With these proves I believe it is not difficult to find out that superhuman characters or control over religion for these kings is a valued quality. The second valued quality of leaders in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt is the ability to keep the city he controlled stable and booming. King Hammurabi, who conquered the whole Mesopotamia area about 4000 years ago, wrote the famous Hammurabi’s Code to maintain the society processing properly. Just like Mr. Reilly comments:”Law codes give us an idea of people’s sense of justice and notions of proper punishment.” (Reilly 53) Also in Egypt, justice should be kept by the leader to make the whole society stable. Like the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant says:”……before the Majesty of the Dual King Nebkaure, the justified. And they seemed more perfect to his heart than anything in this entire land.”(Reilly 65) Nevertheless, Tiglath-Pileser, who was the king of Assyria, also wrote codes to keep his area stable! Kings were honored for their ability to achieve justice, and they were honored for what they did to keep the society stable because only in a society with justice can people live safely and happily. Here we can see, all of these leaders could organize the society stable.
They were honored for this and admitted as the successful leader. So it is a main quality Kings in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt 5000 years needed. Thirdly, I also want to mention that the leaders’ ability to protect own cities is also a valued quality. In Mesopotamia, it was especially important for a leader to be able to deal with flood, which in my opinion is a part of the ability to protect his city. Unlike people lived along the Nile River, who enjoyed the favor of the nature, people lived in Mesopotamia suffered quite a lot from floods of Euphrates and Tigris. Gilgamesh was honored as a hero leader, was not only for his superhuman character but also his contribution to save his people from floods. Enlil, who was also honored as a hero, deserved his frame because he saved people from the floods, as it says in the story of flood:”’Then Enlil went up into the boat, he took me by the hand and my wife and made us enter the boat……
Thus it was the gods took me and placed me here to live in the distance, at the mouth of the river.”(Reilly, 55) People like Enlil and Gilgamesh were honored because they saved their people. Ass a result people were willing to follow them. If someone couldn’t even protect his people, he could definitely not be a leader. To sum up, learning from Tales of Gilgamesh, Hammurabi Code, Tale of the Eloquent Peasant and some other materials, I came up with three ideal or actual qualities were valued in leaders of the ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. With the proof from primary sources, personally I’m quite sure that superhuman characters or controlling over religion, ability to organize a civilized, stable society and ability to protect their cities are the three main valued qualities they needed.
Work Cited Page
K. Reilly. (2013). Worlds of History A Comparative ReaderVolume One: To 1550 the fifth edition. Boston• New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.