The Role of Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt


Human society has progressed rapidly over the course of its existence, and daily life is growing further away from life in ancient civilizations, such as ancient Egypt. These differences are especially prominent in the areas of beliefs, daily life, social hierarchy, and the role of the Pharaoh.

With new discoveries being made daily, humans are gaining a better understanding of the world, and thus our beliefs are evolving. In modern society, many people are stepping out to protest for social justice; striving to provide equal opportunities for everyone despite their differences. On January 20th of 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first female vice-president of the United States of America, and many are happy to see female representation in such positions of power. However, the ancient Egyptians were less welcoming towards women serving as national leaders.

“Hatshepsut was a woman who took the role of a pharaoh…Because Egyptians believed that only men could be Kings, Hatshepsut was often portrayed wearing male clothes and a beard, and she is described with a male pronoun.” (Doc. 5) Ancient Egyptians believed that a woman couldn’t act as the Pharaoh. Therefore, Hatshepsut, a female Pharaoh, was depicted as a man so that she could be taken seriously as a ruler. In contrast with our modern society striving for equality and representation for people looking up, the ancient Egyptians didn’t think that having a female leader would hold any benefits.

“A pharaoh is a god by whose dealings one lives, the father and mother of all…without an equal.” (Doc. 3) The ancient Egyptians believed the pharaoh to be a god whose rulings by which they’d heed by. Like a mother or father, the pharaohs were to look after their people, and the people were to trust in their judgements. In modern society, the people have a different relationship with their leaders. In a representative democracy, leaders are elected based on the needs of the people; rather than entrusting a leader to make decisions freely, the people have the opportunity to select a representative whose vision they find to work in their favor. Similarly, the leader is treated as a representative of their country, or an equal, rather than being worshipped as a god.

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