Of the various institutions of the ancient Egyptians, none are more interesting than those which relate to their social life.
The nuclear family was the core of Egyptian society and many of the gods were even arranged into such groupings. There was tremendous pride in one's family.
Ancient Egyptians loved life, no matter their social class.
A line from the wisdom text of Ptahhotep (the vizier to the king Djedkare Isesi, 2414-2375 BCE), admonishes a reader:
Let your face shine during the time that you live. It is the kindliness of a man that is remembered During the years that follow.
Letting one's face "shine" meant being happy, having a good spirit, in the belief that this would make one's own heart light and lighten those of others.
Egyptian women had a wide range of rights and freedoms.
Women could hold important jobs in Ancient Egyptian society including high ranking positions such as priestesses, supervisors, and administrators.
Some women reached the highest ranking posts in the land. Hatshepsut was a woman who became one of Egypt's most powerful Pharaohs.
Women had almost equal rights in ancient Egypt.
They could own their own businesses, their own land, and their own homes, could initiate divorce, enter into contracts with men, and dispose of their own property as they saw fit; this was a level of sexual equality which no other ancient civilization approached.
Dr. Wallis Budge sums up the Egyptian character thus: "A good general idea of the average Egyptian can be derived from the monuments and writings that have come down to us. In the first place, he was a very religious man. He worshipped God and his deified ancestors, offered sacrifices and offerings to the dead, and prayed at least twice daily, i.e., morning and evening.
His conscience was well developed and made him obey religious, moral, and civil laws without question. His morality was of the highest kind, and he thoroughly understood his duty towards his neighbor. He was kindly and humane, he fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, lent a boat to the shipwrecked man. He loved his village and his home and rejoiced when he was 'loved by his father, praised by his mother, and beloved by his brothers and sisters.'
It may have been a Million years ago
That Light was kindled in the Old Dark Land
With which the illumined Scrolls are all aglow,
That Egypt gave us with her mummied hand:
This was the secret of that subtle smile
Inscrutable upon the Sphinx’s face,
Now told from sea to sea, from isle to isle;
The revelation of the Old Dark Race;
Theirs was the wisdom of the Bee and Bird,
Ant, Tortoise, Beaver, working human-wise;
The ancient darkness spake with Egypt’s Word;
Hers was the primal message of the skies:
The Heavens are telling nightly of her glory,
And for all time Earth echoes her great story.
Child life in ancient Egypt
Children were a very important part of the family and were viewed as a gift.
Children nowadays might do a great deal worse than remember these wise words of the oldest book in the world.
For about four years this would go on, as long as Tahuti was what the Egyptians called "a wise little one." Then, when he was four years old, the time came when he had to become "a writer in the house of books," which is what the Egyptians called a school-boy;
The first thing that he had to learn was how to read and write, and this was no easy task, for Egyptian writing, though it is very beautiful when well done, is rather difficult to master, all the more as there were two different styles which had to be learned if a boy was going to become a man of learning.
a great deal of the writing consisted in the copying out of wise words of the men of former days, and sometimes of stories of old times.
When Tahuti grew a little older and had fairly mastered the rudiments of writing, his teacher set him to write out copies of different passages from the best known Egyptian books, partly to keep up his hand-writing, and partly to teach him to know good Egyptian and to use correct language.
Sometimes it was a piece of a religious book that he was set to copy, sometimes a poem,but generally the piece that was chosen was one which would not only exercise the boy's hand, and teach him a good style, but would also help to teach him good manners, and fill his mind with right ideas.
Very often Tahuti's teacher would dictate to him a passage from the wise advice which a great King of long ago left to his son, the Crown Prince, or from some other book of the same kind. And sometimes the exercises would be in the form of letters which the master and his pupils wrote as though they had been friends far away from one another.
Tahuti's letters, you may be sure, were full of wisdom and of good resolutions, and I dare say he was just about as fond of writing them as you are of writing the letters that your teacher sometimes sets as a task for you.
But, whether his schooling was carried on to what we should call a University training or not, there was one thing that Tahuti was taught with the utmost care, and that was to be very respectful to those who were older than himself, never to sit down while an older person was standing in the room, and always to be very careful in his manners.
Chief of the older people to whom he had to show respect were his parents, and above all, his mother, for the Egyptians reverenced their mothers more than anyone else in the world.
Here is a little scrap of advice that a wise old Egyptian once left to his son: "Thou shalt never forget what thy mother has done for thee. She bare thee, and nourished thee in all manner of ways. She nursed thee for three years. She brought thee up, and when thou didst enter the school and was instructed in the writings, she came daily to thy master with bread and beer from her house. If thou forgettest her, she might blame thee; she might lift up her hands to God, and He would hear her complaint."