Over three thousand years ago, in ancient Egypt, two wives of the Pharaoh Ramesses III, Tiye and Iset Ta-Hemdjert, fought over which of their sons would inherit the throne. Queen Tiye organized a harem conspiracy to favor hers. Dead, in the end, was Ramesses III, along with Tiye’s Penteweret, according to court documents.
There’s been considerable mystery surrounding Ramesses’ demise, but recent CT scans show that he almost certainly died of a slit throat. The wound had not previously been noticed because of the extensive wrappings around the pharaohnic mummy’s neck. A Horus eye amulet was found in the wound, undoubtedly placed there by the embalmers, probably for healing and protection in the afterlife.
Another mummy from that time has been determined, by genetic analysis, to be a son of Ramesses. There are strange marks around his neck. Since Penteweret had been found guilty at trial, and was said to have killed himself, and this particular mummy was dishonorably embalmed, the mummy is thought to be his. Perhaps he had hanged himself.
Such was ancient politics. Succession of rulers was often violent — and, even when not violent, there was no assurance that the claimant to the throne would be anything like a good ruler.
Which brings us to one of democracy’s great achievements, perhaps its greatest. Democratic elections do not express the popular will in any sure way. They do not conjure onto this plane of existence a Mandate of Heaven (Chinese), or any instantiation of Horus (ancient Egyptian). What they do is remove rulers from power, peacefully.
And that’s not nothing. Ask the grimace on the face of the remains of Ramesses III.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.