Several weeks ago, when the famed Moore expedition discovered the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh and was beset by a series of inexplicable “accidents,” many people were quick to blame the events on a curse pf the mummy. The expedition leaders dismissed the speculation. “It’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing as a mummy’s curse. Do you really think the mummy can rise and and exact vengeance on the people who ‘disturbed its eternal slumber?’ This isn’t some Hollywood movie. It’s just people being hyper-attuned to the littlest problems, and blaming them on a fanciful story.”
Of course, fanciful stories sometimes turn out to have a nugget of truth. On occasion, it’s a large nugget.
The world was even more shocked when it learned that the mummy, who was an unconfirmed ruler from the Old Kingdom, by the name of Djedefptah, has indeed returned to life.
For centuries, people have discussed and speculated on the nature of death, and this miraculous occurrence has lead to many a thanatopsis. The awakened Djedefptah offers few answers, but is enjoying a new-found status as celebrity, and is booked on talk-shows all over the world.
“Well, I can’t tell you much about what it is like to be dead, unfortunately. I just woke up one day. I didn’t even know I was supposed to be dead, and then I caught sight of myself in a mirror! Holy Horus, what a mess I am! yikes! I was just glad to be alive.”
“So, you didn’t cause all the accidents in the expedition?” asked one journalist, at the mummy’s first press conference.
“Of course not. That’s just coincidence. I’ve never heard of mummy rising from the dead, those curse things never work. Well, I guess this once.”
Another journalist asked how he could speak English.
“I have no idea. The doctors tell me I have no lungs any more, and that my brain was pulled out of my head through my nose. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m pretty much a walking miracle, thank Ma’at, I guess. Light as a feather after all. And my uncle was an atheist! Ha! This’ll show him! Huh. Yeah…”
There was an awkward silence. Another brave soul risked another question. “When you awoke, did you feel any urge to avenge yourself on those who had awoken your eternal rest?”
Djedefptah laughed. “Those priests sure have lively imaginations, don’t they? Why in the name of Osiris would I kill someone who’d awoken me? I AM ALIVE. That’s pretty much much better than dead. I’d like to give them all a reward. Of course, I’m told that the royal family doesn’t really have much influence in the world any more. Um, maybe he would take a nice sarcophagus? I’m not using mine any more.”
A reporter said something that couldn’t be heard. The former Pharaoh, even with his tight, dark, leathery skin, blanched. “A woman? It was a woman that defiled my tomb?! No woman shall…. Can…”
As his words trailed off, he fell into a heap, seemingly felled by his sudden disbelief.
thanatopsis ( thann – ah – TOP – sis ) noun. Greek. A meditation on the subject of death.
This word was coined to be the title of a famous poem by William Cullen Bryant in 1811. He was 17 at the time. It's from the Greek thanatos ("death") and -opsis ("sight"); and has become the name of a band, a film, and a number of literary clubs.