Seyran Z. Grigoryan
The article discusses the poetic symbol of Amenti in the poetry of the early period of Armenian poet Yeghishe Charents. In 1916-1919 the young symbolist poet wrote several poems in which he described a conditional area that expresses the idea of human immortality and is called the “Land of Amentia” or “Country of Amenti”. According to the author’s notes, he used ancient Egyptian mythology, where there was a doctrine of the immortality of the soul and an afterlife that embodies this idea, which was called Amenti. In the commentary to one of his poems from the collection “Rainbow” (1917), Ye. Charents explains this world in the following way: “Amenti – Sunset, afterlife in Egyptian mythology”. He intended to write a whole book of poetry called “Amenti”. This idea was not fully realized, but in some works of the book “Rainbow” and in the poem “Personal Song” (1919), the poet partially expressed his ideas.
The Land of Amenti existed in the mythology and literature of Ancient Egypt. It is depicted in more details in the ancient Egyptian “Book of the Dead”. It describes the entrance of the deceased to the afterlife, the test of his soul, which takes place in the presence of the lord of the Realm of Souls – god Osiris. During the trial, the heart of the deceased is weighed, and the deceased makes a negative defensive confession. The weighing of the heart of the deceased is carried out by Horus – the son of Osiris, and the guide of the dead Anubis – a god with the head of a jackal. If it turns out that the deceased lived a pure life, his soul appears in Amenti and becomes immortal.
The Land of Amenti was studied by famous Egyptologists. His artistic image was created by many European and Russian writers – T. Gautier, G. Ebers, B. Prus, O. Wilde, I. Bunin, V. Khlebnikov and others. Of all the writers, the Russian symbolist poet Konstantin Balmont was most often and deeply addressed to the Land of Amenti. He translated several chapters from the “Book of the Dead”, traveled around Egypt and wrote a book of essays “The Land of Osiris” about the Realm of Souls of the ancient Egyptians, as well as poems about Amenti.
The analysis of the texts indicates that Ye. Charents was familiar with ancient Egyptian sources and new literature depicting the Land of Amenti. But, being a symbolist poet, Yeghishe Charents was most of all influenced by the work of one of the largest representatives of Russian symbolism K. Balmont. His works were written in Russian, which was the only foreign language available for the Armenian poet. In addition, they were published several years before the idea of the book “Amenti” by Ye. Charents appeared – in 1908-1914. His poems have ideological, psychological and artistic similarities with the works of K. Balmont.
Using the rich experience of world literature, Ye. Charents created a symbol of the Land of Amenti in Armenian. This is the only example of the artistic interpretation of the ancient Egyptian Realm of Souls in Armenian literature.