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The Tale of the Two Brothers.
(See pp. 1—40.)
I. Now there were once two brethren, [the children] of the same father and mother; Anpu was the name of the elder, and Bata was the name of the younger. Now Anpu had a house and a wife, and his young brother lived with him in the condition of a menial, for it was he who made clothes for him, and he used to follow and tend his cattle in the fields; it was he who did the ploughing, it was he who laboured, and it was he who carried out all the works concerning the fields. And behold, his young brother was a good farmer whose like existed not in all the land of Egypt.... And for many days afterwards, his young brother used to go out after his cattle according to his daily wont, and he came back each evening to his house laden with all kinds of vegetables of the fields, which when he had returned from the meadows he placed before his great brother, who was sitting with his wife; and when he had drunk and eaten he went to bed in the cowbyre with his cattle. And at daybreak on the morrow after the bread-cakes were baked he laid them before his elder brother, and having provided himself with bread for [his need] in the fields, he drove out his cattle to let them feed in the fields. And as he tended his cattle they said to him, "In such and such a place the herbage is good," and he hearkened unto everything which they said, and he led them to the place where II. the herbage which they loved grew abundantly; and the cattle which were before him grew exceedingly fine, and they increased and multiplied exceedingly.
And when the season for ploughing had come, then Anpu said to Bata, "Come, let us take our teams and plough, for the land hath again appeared, and it is in good condition for ploughing; do thou then go into the fields with the grain [to-day], for we will begin to plough at daybreak to-morrow;" this was what he said to him, and his young brother did everything even as his elder brother had commanded him. And it came to pass at daybreak on the following day that they went forth into the fields with their teams, and they ploughed, and their heart was exceedingly glad by reason of their work.... And some time afterwards while they were in the fields [working] the elder brother sent the younger, saying, "Run quickly and bring wheat from the homestead;" and the younger brother found the wife of his elder brother sitting [doing] her hair, and he said to her, "Rise up and give me wheat, III. that I may run back to the fields, for in sending me my elder brother [wished] that no delay should be caused." And she said, "Go and open the granary, and do thou thyself carry away that which thy heart desireth, lest [if I rise up] my hair fall in going." Then the young man went into his byre and brought out a large jar, for his desire was to carry away much grain, and he filled it with wheat and barley, and as he was coming out with them she said to him, "How much hast thou on thy shoulder?" And he said to her, "Of barley three measures, and of wheat two; in all, five measures; that is what I have on my shoulder;" that is what he said to her. Then she spake unto him, saying, "There is great strength in thee, for I have watched it daily;" and her heart knew him with the desire of love, and she rose up being filled with him, and she said to him, "Prithee let us lie together for a season, and if thou wilt consent verily I will make for thee fine raiment." Then the young man became like a raging wild beast of the south with fury by reason of the shameful words which she had spoken to him; and she feared exceedingly. And the young man spake with her, saying, "Verily thou hast been in my sight as a mother, and thy husband as a father, for he is older than I, and he hath made me to live. How IV. shameful are the words which thou hast spoken to me! do not repeat them. I myself will not speak of them to any one, and I will not allow them to escape from my mouth to any living person;" [and thus saying] he took up his load and went into the fields, and he came to his elder brother, and they continued their toil unbrokenly.
And towards the evening the elder brother returned to his house, and the younger brother [followed] after his cattle, and he loaded himself with all the produce of the field, and drove his cattle before him to put them to bed in their byres in the homestead; and behold the wife of the elder brother was afraid by reason of the words which she had spoken, and she took rancid (?) fat, and she made herself to appear like one who hath been evilly entreated by a ravisher, wishing to say to her husband when he should return according to his daily wont at eventide, "It is thy young brother who hath treated me thus violently." And when Anpu came into his house he found his wife lying prostrate and ill like unto one on whom violence had been committed; she poured no water upon his hands, according to her daily wont, she lit no fire before him, his house was in darkness, and she was lying prostrate and sick and ill. Her husband said to her, "Who hath had converse with thee?" and she said to him, "None hath had converse with me except thy V. young brother. When he came to fetch corn for thee, he found me sitting by myself, and he said to me, 'Prithee let us lie together for a season; tie up thy hair.' That was what he said to me, but I did not hearken unto him. [And I said], Behold, am I not thy mother? and is not thy elder brother in thy sight as a father? That was what I said to him. And he was afraid, and he entreated me evilly that I might not tell thee of it. If thou lettest him live, I shall die, and behold, moreover, when he cometh home at eventide, inasmuch as I have told thee of his shameful words, what he will do [to me] is manifest."
And the elder brother became like a raging wild animal of the south, and having sharpened his dagger he took it in his hand, and stood behind the door of his byre to slay his young brother when he came in there at eventide to put to bed his cattle in their stalls. And at sunset the younger brother loaded himself with field produce of all kinds according to his daily wont, and when he had come home and the leader of the herd was going into her byre, she said to her keeper, "Verily thy elder brother is standing in front of thee with his dagger [in his hand] to slay thee; flee from before him." And having heard the speech of the cow which went first, as VI. the second went into the byre she spake unto him in like manner, and looking under the door of his byre he saw the feet and legs of his elder brother who stood behind the door with his dagger in his hand; and setting down his load upon the ground he betook himself to Bight with all speed, and his elder brother pursued him with his dagger [in his hand]. And the younger brother appealed to Ra-Harmachis, saying, "O my fair lord, it is thou who judgest wrong from right;" and Ra listened to all his words. And Ra caused a great stream filled with crocodiles to come between the young man and his elder brother, and thus one stood upon one side, and the other upon the other; and the elder brother smote his hand twice because he had not been able to slay him. That was what he did. And the younger brother called out to him from one side, saying, "Wait until daybreak, and when Aten riseth VII. I will plead with thee before him, for it is he that setteth the crooked straight. And as for me I shall nevermore live with thee, and I shall nevermore abide in any place wherein thou art; and I shall go to the Valley of the Cedar."
Now when it was daybreak on the morrow, and Ra-Harmachis had risen, each one looked upon the other, and the young man spake again to his elder brother, saying, "How couldst thou pursue me to slay me basely without having heard what my mouth had to say? But I am indeed thy young brother, and thou thyself hast been to me like a father, and thy wife hath been to me as a mother. And behold, when thou didst send me to bring wheat for us, did not thy wife say to me, 'Prithee let us lie together awhile?' but see, she hath turned the matter into something quite different." Then he made him to understand everything which had taken place between his wife and himself, and he took an oath by Ra-Harmachis, saying, "Verily thy lying in wait for me craftily in secret behind the door (?) with thy dagger [in thy hand] was a foul and abominable thing [to do]!" and taking a flint knife he mutilated himself and threw the piece into the water where a nar fish swallowed it; and VIII. he became weak and fainted from exhaustion. And the heart of the elder brother was smitten with exceeding great grief, and he wept loudly because he did not know how to cross over to where his young brother was by reason of the crocodiles. Then his young brother cried out to him, saying, "Behold, thou wouldst keep in remembrance one evil act, and yet thou wouldst not keep in mind either one good deed, or even one thing of all those which I have done for thee. And now, go thou to thy house and tend thine own cattle, because I will never abide in the place where thou art; I am going to the Valley of the Cedar. And as concerning that which thou shalt do for me when thou comest to minister unto me, give heed unto the account of the things which shall happen unto me. I shall enchant my heart, and I shall place it upon the top of the flower of the cedar. Now the cedar will be cut down and my heart will fall to the ground, and thou shalt come to seek for it, even though thou pass seven years in seeking it, but when thou hast found it put it in a vase of cold water, and in very truth I shall live, and make answer to him that would attack me. And thou shalt know when these things have happened unto me [by this sign]; when one putteth a vessel of beer in thy hand, and it frotheth over, tarry not when this hath actually happened to thee." And he went to the Valley of the Cedar, and his elder brother went to his house with his hand laid upon his head which was covered with dust and ashes; and when he had come into his house he slew his wife and threw her to the dogs, and he sat down in grief for his younger brother.
And it came to pass some time afterwards that the younger brother was living in the Valley of the Cedar, and that no one was with him, and he used to pass his time in hunting the beasts of the mountain, and at eventide he came to sleep under the cedar upon the top of the flowers of which was his heart. And some time IX. afterwards he built himself with his own hands, in the Valley of the Cedar, a house which was filled with all kinds of beautiful things, for he wished to found a house for himself. And it came to pass that as he came out from his house he met the cycle of the gods who were going forth to do their will in all the earth, and they spake to one of their number who said to Bata, "O Bata, bull of the cycle of the gods, dost thou dwell alone having fled from thy native town before the wife of Anpu, thy elder brother? Behold, he hath slain his wife, and thus hast thou returned answer to him to all the attacks [which he made] upon thee;" and their hearts grieved for him exceedingly. Then Ra-Harmachis said to the god Khnemu, "Do thou fashion a wife for Bata, that thou mayest not dwell alone"; and Khnemu fashioned a help-meet to dwell with him. Now she was more beautiful in her person than any other woman in all the earth, for every god was contained in her. And the seven Hathors came to look upon her, and they spake with one voice, saying, "Her death will be caused by the knife;" and Bata loved her with an exceeding great love, and she dwelt in his house while he passed his time in X. hunting the beasts of the mountain and in bringing them to lay before her. And he said to her, "Go not forth from thy house lest the stream seize thee, and I know not how to deliver thee therefrom because I myself am a woman like unto thee; for my heart is placed upon the top of the flowers of the cedar, but if another man cometh I will do battle with him therefor." And he revealed to her his whole and entire mind.
And some days after when Bata had gone out to hunt according to his daily wont, the young woman went out to walk under the cedar tree which was near unto her house, and she saw the water of the stream pursuing her, and she fled from before it into her own house; and the stream cried to the cedar, saying, "Verily I long for her." And the cedar brought [to it] a lock of her hair, and the stream carried it to Egypt and laid it upon the place of the washermen of Pharaoh, may he live, and be strong and in good health! Now the smell of the lock of hair clung to the garments of Pharaoh, and there arose strife among the washermen of Pharaoh [because] one said, "There is a smell of scent in the garments of Pharaoh:" so there arose strife among them daily, and XI. they knew not what they were doing, and the overseer of the washermen of Pharaoh went to the stream's side with an exceedingly sore heart on account of the strife which they made with him daily, and he placed himself there. Now he stood on the bank opposite to the lock of hair which was in the water, and he made a man go down and bring it to him, and he found the smell exceedingly pleasant, and he took it unto Pharaoh. Then the scribes and learned men of Pharaoh were brought unto him, and they said to him, "Verily this lock of hair belongeth to a daughter of Ra-Harmachis, and the essence of every god is in her;.... send envoys into every land to seek her, but with the envoy who is going to the Valley of the Cedar thou must send many men to bring her;" and his Majesty said, "That which ye have spoken to us is exceedingly good," and the king caused envoys to set out with all speed.
And it came to pass some time afterwards that the men who had been sent into foreign lands came to report to His Majesty, but those who had gone to the Valley of the Cedar came not with them, for Bata had slain them all except one to tell the tale to His Majesty. Then His Majesty caused men and picked soldiers and cavalry likewise to fetch [the daughter of Ra-Harmachis] and to bring her there, and there was XII. with them a woman who gave into her hands all kinds of beautiful trinkets for women, and this woman came to Egypt with [the daughter of Ra-Harmachis]; and there were rejoicings for her throughout the whole land. And His Majesty loved her exceedingly and made her the "Great Sacred Lady", and when one spake with her to make her tell concerning the condition of her husband, she said to His Majesty, "Prithee cut down the cedar, and thou wilt slay him;" and he caused men and soldiers to go with their axes to cut down the cedar, and they went forth to the cedar and cut off the flowers upon which was the heart of Bata, and he fell down dead at that moment.
And it came to pass at daybreak on the morrow after the cedar had been cut down, that Anpu the elder brother of Bata went into his house and sat down, and when he had washed his hands one put into them a vessel of beer which frothed over, and one gave him another vessel of wine, and it also was thick and clouded (?). Then he took his XIII. staff, and his sandals, and garments, together with his tools for work, and he betook himself straightway to the Valley of the Cedar, and going into his brother's house he found his young brother lying dead upon his bed. And as he looked upon his young brother lying in death, he wept, and he went to search for the heart of his young brother under the cedar where he used to lie in the evening; and he passed three years in seeking for it, but he found it not, and when the fourth year came on his heart desired to go to Egypt, and he said, "I will depart to-morrow." That was what his heart said. And it came to pass at daybreak on the following day that he walked under the cedar and passed his time in seeking it, and he returned in the evening, and again he devoted time to seeking it; and he found a fruit, and having turned it over and sought beneath it, behold the heart of his young brother. Then he brought a vessel of cold water, and placed it therein, and he sat down according to his daily wont. And it came to pass that when the night was come XIV. the heart had absorbed the water, and Bata trembled in all his members, and he looked at his elder brother, and his heart was helpless. Then Anpu his elder brother took the vessel of cold water in which was the heart of his young brother, [and behold], it had drunk it up, and his heart was in its proper place, and it had become to him as it had ever been; and each embraced the other, and each, spake with his fellow. And Bata said to his elder brother, "Behold, I am going to turn into a great bull wholly [covered] with beautiful hair, but whose methods (?) are unknown. Sit thou upon [my] back when the Sun riseth, and when we are in the place where my wife is, I will return [to her] an answer [to all the attacks which she made upon me]. Then shalt thou take me where the King is, for all manner of good thingswill be done for thee, and thou shalt be laden with gold and silver because thou hast brought me to Pharaoh, for I am going to become a very marvellous thing, and there will be rejoicings on my account throughout the whole earth; then shalt thoureturn to thine own city."
Excerpted from An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Reading Book for Beginners by E. A. Wallis Budge. Copyright © 1993 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Posted May 6, 2014