January 3, 2008

The Falcon Will Rise Again

One of the people on the Alan Parsons e-mail list has asked which one of our posts to the list we are most proud of. There are a couple posts I've written that I've liked, but I've always enjoyed this one, where I "quibbled" over whether the song "The Eagle Will Rise Again" (on the Pyramid album) should have used the imagery of a falcon instead. This was originally written on Sunday, March 21, 1999:

This letter may seem to be quibbling over a minor point on "The Eagle Will Rise Again," but I'll quibble anyway. :)

First, some introduction. This past Thursday, I visited the "Splendors of Ancient Egypt" exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. This exhibit is on the last leg of a five city tour, consisting of over 200 artifacts from the Egyptian collection of the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, Germany. The response to the exhibit has been truly amazing. This is not an exhibit where you can just walk in and look around. You have to purchase your ticket in advance for a specific date and time to tour. When I arrived on Thursday night, there were signs all over the doors saying the exhibit had sold out of tickets for the rest of the exhibition (which is supposed to close at the end of the month). Touring the show was a fantastic experience for me, and I'm very glad and fortunate to have seen the artifacts. After the tour, I purchased the show's catalog, which I just finished reading yesterday.

In the catalog, there are some references to the relationships between the various kings/pharaohs, gods and the animals which are sacred to the gods. One of the central myths to the ancient Egyptian religion involves Osiris, Horus, Isis and Seth. "After the creation, Osiris was given dominion, or kingship, over the land. He ruled with justice and maintained order, but his brother Seth was jealous and murdered him. Osiris's wife, Isis, used magical means to bring him back to life. He then became the principal god of the afterlife. A dispute over rulership ensued between Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, and his uncle Seth, with Horus emerging as victor and asserting his right to follow his father on the throne of Egypt."

A little later, it says, "The myth of Osiris, who was able to gain eternal life by the grace of the sun god Re, was central to the practices of preparation for burial and the belief in the possibility of life after death in another world. It was also of vital importance in the orderly transition of power from the deceased king to his son. The new king was likened to the young, living Horus with the dead father considered to have entered the next life as Osiris."

Earlier in the book, I came across the following passage about falcons: "The falcon, for example, was associated with the celestial god Horus and the bird, as a representation of the present ruler or "living Horus," was an important symbol of Egyptian kingship." There were other birds mentioned in the text (the ibis, which was associated with the god Thoth, and the vulture, which represented the goddess Nekhbet), but there was not a single mention about eagles. Now, granted, this book is not an exhaustive text on the topic, but it did get me to thinking that perhaps a more correct lyric would have been "The falcon will rise again" instead of "The eagle will rise again."

Like I said, a quibble over a minor point. :)

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