Egyptian Oracles and the Afterlife
This contribution surveys the key eschatological works from Ancient Egypt, spanning the two millennia from the Middle Kingdom to Roman Egypt. It highlights key themes present across these compositions, including the cyclical nature of destruction and rebirth, the perceived role of foreign invaders in triggering social collapse and the link between the conduct of rulers and the fate of the land. The political role of such texts is also discussed, emphasising their role in legitimising the reigns of specific rulers and analysing their ideological underpinnings within the intellectual and religious culture of the Egyptian literate elites. In addition, the chapter shows how eschatological texts could provide consolation beyond the world of royalty and high politics, conveying a message of structured hope for the future for non-royal Egyptians navigating through an often chaotic, multicultural and multilingual socio-political landscape. By acknowledging the inevitability of contemporary social ills like political fragmentation, war and foreign subjugation, the eschatological works were simultaneously creating a positive narrative whereby this same predestined inevitability would cause the cycle to turn, initiating a new and brighter future.