See also: [Ancient Egypt] [Thomas Hoving] (author "Art for Dummy's"; MOMA NY) [Art Periods] [Art Movements] [(art) concepts] [Time Line]


On this page: {Nicholas Reeves' "Egypt's False Prophet"} (review by Thomas R. Martin)

Nicholas Reeves

"Akhenaten: Egypt's Flas Prophet", (Thames & Hudson, (Review by Thomas R. Martin. For more info:
www.historybookclub.com) BEGIN BLOCK QUOTE Akhenaten was the New Kingdom pharaoh notorious for the turmoil -- a revolution ad Reeves calls it -- that his theological ideas generated: His new capital city in the desert, his court's bizarrely iconoclastic art, his queen's beauty and mysterious fate, and the effort expended by later Egyptian kings to erase all memory of him. Reeve's title announces where he stands in the still active debate over Akhentan's reign.

Reformer or Tyrant

The most contentious issue today is whether the king's religious reforms created the world's first true monotheism [sic]. Reeves wastes little time exploring this idea. For him, Akhenaten was interested in amasing power through religiou rathe than in reaching divine truth. His interpretation is stark: Akehenaten was clearnly not a man open to reasoned argument; far above the sphere of ordinary mortals, he demanded from his subjects compelte and utter subservience. The tomb and temple releifes show him and his family adored by a goveling populace, but the adoration is far from spontaneous: Closer inspection reveals that the people are kept in check by large numbers of troops with batons. ... For ordinary folk, there is little doubt that Akhenaten's actions as king over time inflicted the greatest misery; the peole were confused by the man's religious vision, frightened by the ruthless manner in which it was imposed, and quite likely appalled by his personal behaviour. An interpreter less hostile to Akhenaten might not so readily assume that soldiers or royal attendants were agents of oppression rather than simply the customer reinue for an Egyptian king whom tradition revered as a species of divine being. [good phrase!] And a less hostile interpreter might not so easily generalise that there is "little doubt" about the attitude of the masses or add that a "despondency" settled on the country toward the end of Akhenaten's reign. Overall, however, Reeve's intepretations give bite and piquancy to his account. Being provocative without veering into being out-rageous -- which Reeves mostly avoids except when implying a comparison with Hitloer and Stalin -- is not a bad thing in writing a history of so controversial a ruler. [actually, i was thinking of Sadam Hussein]

Mysterious Malady

Reeves is particularrly effective in countering the infamous hypothesis that the endocirine disorder of Froehliche's Syndrome} caused Akhenten's peculiar appearnce and rendered him retarded and impotent, or that he was a eunich or a homosexual. Instead, we are shown why the genetic disorder of {Marfan's Syndrome} plausibly explaines the pharoh's physiognomy. Eually convincing is the presentation of the recent scholarly view that Queen Nefertiti neither died nor disappeared, but in fact became Akhenten's co-regent under a new name. The volume is copiously illustrated... The chapters, vivid with abundant detail, read crisply. This spirited book is as close to a page-turner as ancient history can come. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicholas Reeves is Director of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, Valley of the Kings, and Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaelogy, University College, London. ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Thomas R. Margin is Jeremaiah O'Connor Professor of Classics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worchester, Massachusetts. Source: "H-106-D" flyer for the History Book Club (www.historybookclub.com) END BLOCK QUOTE


(This section only) [Froehlich's Syndrome] Back to the TEXT] [Marfan's Syndrome] Back to the TEXT]