The religion of Egypt must therefore be considered to be a product of Egypt, whence in large measure it acquired its special character. Egypt is an agricultural country, thatnotwithstanding its productiveness demands hard work, andtrains its inhabitants to practical life. Their belief are thus distinguished by a certain sober earnestness ; on this heavy soil a lively fancy will not flourish, but all manner of superstitions spring up readily. The world inhabited by these people wa a limited one, they knew only their long, narrow valley, where each year their marvellous river deposited its wealth over the country ; beyond there was only the desert, with which mankind had no concern. One thing, however, served to raise the mind of the Egyptian to something above himself, as for us today it invests the Nile valley with magic : the sky, with the glory of its sun and the indescribable splendour of its stars. In these stars the Egyptian recognized his gods, and for him no god could rank higher than the sun, which maintains all things and which calls all things into being. Among the objects most familiar to the Egyptian on earth were the animals and birds ; as an agriculturist he would daily be brought into close contact with them, and under their forms accordingly he frequently represented his gods.
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