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Maat, The Goddess of Justice

Maat is one of the goddesses in the ancient Egyptian mythology that was regarded as a symbol for wisdom and justice and other moral values that help mankind to live properly. The usual depiction of her shows her as a woman with an ankh and scepter in her hand and an ostrich feather over her head. This feather over the head of Maat is regarded as a symbol of her gentleness and extreme beauty, while some people suggest that it is a symbol for her sound judgment because she was a member of the underworld court. She was regarded as a symbol for truth and straightness and a personification of all what is right, just and ideal. Sometimes she was depicted as simple and beautiful straight lines on the head of the king’s throne to clarify that she helped him in making right and wise decisions. Some of the thinkers view that Maat is a symbol for order since she is credited to maintaining stability on the surface of earth since the creation of the world. To see the depiction of Maat, one can go to the tombs of the Temple of Abu Simbel and the Valley of the kings and also in the Egyptian Museum that displays numerous statues for her with her distinguishing feather. Despite Maat’s prominent role in many myths, she has never been presented as the major character of a myth like the other gods and goddesses due to her philosophical nature. She is regarded in some myths as the daughter of Ra who came to the world at the same time with her father and came out from the primeval water.

Another myth also indicates that Ra in his declining years was advised by Nun to kiss Maat in order to be able to regain his strength and youth. As illuminated in the Book of the Dead, Maat and Thuth were the companions of Ra in the solar boat who were in charge of setting the daily court. She was used as a proof that the solar boat is following a correct and perfect law and order that does not change. In the underworld, Maat was the member of the court who stands nearby the scale to assure justice and was one of the gods who arbitrate the recently dead soul before standing in front of Osiris. Of special interest in the wall paintings depicting Maat are the ones presenting her feather on the scale used to balance the heart of the dead. If the heart of the man was fairly balances the feather, this means that it is in balance with truth and justice and this qualifies him to pass to the next step. Then the dead soul reaches the Hall of Maat where he should reject that he committed 42 sins and name the magical parts of the door and by passing this step the deceased person is ready to meet Osiris to obtain immortality.

– The Tale of The Blind Truth of Maat

This myth is one of the most interesting myths in the ancient Egyptian mythology that gives many moral lessons and highlights the value of justice. It is a story of two brothers: the good one called Truth, and the vicious one called Falsehood. The former borrowed the knife of his brother and unfortunately lost it, and this gave the chance for his vicious and hateful brother to harm him. Truth asked him to accept another typical knife, but Falsehood refused and when they stood before the nine gods of the court he claimed that his one was incomparable knife whose blade was made of the mountain of El’s copper and whose handle from the Coptos’ woods. Thus the court gave him the right to say any judgment he sees that it would satisfy him. He asked to blind one of his brother’s eyes and make him the doorkeeper of his home. Whenever Falsehood saw his brother, he remembered his sin and this motivated him to command his servants to attack Truth and then leave him in the desert to be devoured by its wild monsters. Fortunately, the servants of Falsehood sympathized with Truth, gave food and left him in the desert hoping that any passerby would find him and save him and came back to their master telling him that Truth is already dead. Few days later, a beautiful woman found the handsome Truth and was fascinated by his attractive appearance to the extent that she took him to be her doorkeeper. One day, the lady had had a relation with Truth and became pregnant in a baby boy but she did not tell the boy about the name of his father. This boy grew up to be a unique one in his physical and mental abilities and this raised the jealousy of his companions against him. One of the mornings, the boys tried to tease and enrage Truth’s son for being the son of an unknown father, thus he returned home angry and insisted on knowing his father’s name and the mother told him everything. The boy went happily to his father, brought him to his room and asked him to tell him the story of his life in detail. After realizing the injustice and villainy of his uncle, the boy decided to take his father’s revenge and made a shrewd plan that depends mainly on the greed of Falsehood. He took a huge ox, many loaves of bread and a sword and directed to the land of Falsehood. The boy asked the keeper of Falsehood’s herds to take care of his ox in exchange for all the bread and the staffs that he has and he would come back to take it.

One day Falsehood saw that beautiful ox among his herds and ordered to be prepared for him to eat but the herdsman refused saying that it belongs to a stranger who would come back to take it. Falsehood insisted on taking the ox and said that its owner is free to take any other one in exchange for it. Then the boy came to take his ox and when the herdsman asked him to take any other one or any amount of herds he want, since Falsehood slaughtered his one, he refused. Before the court of the nine gods, the boy said that no other ox can be like his own one that was as large as the whole world and there is no replacement for it. Then the boy announced that he is the son of Truth and that the judgment in the case of his father was unfair. At that moment, Falsehood assured that this boy is lying and if he proved that he is telling the truth he judges on himself by blinding both his eyes and serving as a doorkeeper of Truth. The boy brought his father and Falsehood was severely beaten and blinded and then became Truth’s doorkeeper. This story highlights the value of truth and justice in human life and how the truth should wine and justice be settled at the end.

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