Egypt is at once the most familiar and the most impenetrable of ancient civilisations. Far more than any Greek or Roman portrait bust, the golden death mask of Tutankhamun serves as the supreme icon of antiquity; and yet, compared to Alexander or Cicero, how much of a closed book to us are even the most celebrated pharaohs. The great monuments raised over the course of 3,000 years endure – but rarely the details of individual lives. Gossip columnists, by and large, kept a low profile on the banks of the Nile.
That this was so reflected a natural instinct for self-preservation on the part of any potential satirists. As Toby Wilkinson, in his magisterial new history of ancient Egypt, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, makes clear, the attitude of the average pharaoh towards dissent would have done credit to Kim Jong-il
Read more: The Guardian