Egypt, anybody?

Egypt, anybody? January 22, 2019


Al-ahraamaat fi misr
Great as they are, there’s actually a whole lot more to ancient Egypt than just these. And then there’s Christian Egypt. And medieval Islamic Egypt. And Ottoman Egypt. And modern Egypt. The country is, without fail, fascinating.   (Wikimedia Commons public domain)


During our recent visit to Egypt, I found out that — contrary to what I believe I had heard before — the tour that I’ll be accompanying to Egypt between 9 May and 16 May 2019 may still have some vacancies.


The local guide who will lead us in May, Hany Tawfik, is a friend who was with us most recently in late December and early January.  He is one of the finest, most enjoyable, and most eminent tour guides in Egypt.


If you’ve ever wanted to see the Nile, the pyramids of Giza, the step pyramid at Saqqara, the Great Sphinx, the golden death mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, his tomb and mummy in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, the great temple of Karnak, the colossal statue of Ramses II, the ancient Old Kingdom capital of Memphis, the massive High Dam at Aswan (and Lake Nasser behind it), the beautiful temple of Isis at Philae, the temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo, the Colossi of Memnon, and the spectacular funerary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, this is a chance to do that.  You might even get a chance to take a carriage ride through the back streets of the modern city of Luxor, which — trust me — is a really memorable experience.


The Battle of the Pyramids as imagined by Watteau
“The Battle of the Pyramids,” by François-Louis-Joseph Watteau (ca. 1798-1799. (Wikimedia CC public domain)
In historical reality, the battle occurred far enough from the pyramids that they were only barely visible on the horizon. And, once the battle was actually underway, they were probably obscured by smoke from muskets and cannons.


Before leading the French army to victory at the Battle of the Pyramids on 21 July 21 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte rallied his troops by pointing to the distant pyramids and telling them, “Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you.”


Actually, though, his arithmetic was a bit off.  Even in 1798, the Great Pyramid at Giza was roughly forty-four centuries old.  It was further in the past from Jesus than Jesus is from us.




We’re just back from seeing the film Green Book, which I thoroughly, thoroughly liked.  (Watch the official trailer here.)


Green Book has received five Oscar nominations for the 91st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Viggo Mortensen, looking very unlike Aragorn, son of Arathorn), Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.


On Saturday evening, we attended the Utah Opera’s performance of Rachel Portman’s and Nicholas Wright’s The Little Prince, which is based on the 1943 novella by the French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), which in its turn ranks among the bestselling books of all time — a fact that I find exceedingly surprising and strange.  I thought, though, that some of the lyrics and some of the music were quite beautiful.



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