Saturday 14 January 2012

Afterlife for the rich - sorted.

At the British Museum today, met quite a lot of  'shabtis'. These are the servants we will need when we're dead. Though in the really ancient times, this did involve killing your servants when you died, the whole thing became more humane (er...kind of) with servants being represented by little statues. This seems like a good way to go. Obviously, you have to be rich enough to get someone to put a whole stack of small figurines in with you in your coffin, but once they're in there, you're sorted. They will do manual work for you when you summon them. In fact, if you're really well off, you'll have 401 of them - one for every day of the year, plus overseers - so you won't have to do any of that sweaty, noisy slave-driving yourself. Interestingly, quite a lot of them are blue. But, hey, you're not going to object to your servants being blue, are you? It's amazing how tolerant people are about skin-colour so long as they're servants.

I wonder whether any rich or even middling sorts of people anywhere in the world have conceived of an afterlife for themselves in which they themselves were the servants or slaves? That the life they have projected for themselves would be the sheer pleasure of waiting selflessly on someone richer than yourself - for the rest of time?

This would have to be encoded in a sacred text of some sort. The excessively rich dying person would be found praying in front of a huge statue of the Great One:

'O Great One, I pray that in the Afterlife, that lies beyond the sea over which I must travel, I will forever cease to rule over my fellow man and in its stead will become a lowly servant, a drawer of water, a hewer of trees, a tiller of the soil, one who waits upon my rich master and mistress. I pray that I will eat mud should he so desire and in that lowly state enjoy the virtue of my lowliness, the dignity of serving others better than myself, in the full knowledge that I am making his life more comfortable.'

Yeah, right.