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Egyptian Tales and Legends
Pagan, Christian and Muslim
By E. A. Wallis Budge
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2002 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
STORIES OF THE MARVELLOUS DEEDS WROUGHT BY THE MAGICIANS OF THE OLD KINGDOM
THE following stories of the power of magicians are found in the now famous papyrus which was once in the possession of Miss Westcar, and is now preserved in the Berlin Museum (P.3033). This papyrus was written by a professional scribe during the period of the rule of the Hyksos over Egypt, at the beginning of the second millennium B.C., probably for the use of pupils in one of the priests' schools. It was published by Erman, "Die Märchen des Papyrus Westcar," 2 Bände, Berlin, 1890 (in the Mitteilungen a.d. Oriental, Sammlungen der Königl. Museum, vols. V and VI). The stories are supposed to have been told to King Khufu, the Kheops of the Greeks, and builder of the great pyramid of Gizah, but what the introductory story was is not known, for all the beginning of the papyrus is wanting.
[THE FIRST STORY WHICH WAS TOLD BY PRINCE HERTETEF]
The first story was told to King Kheops by his son Hertetef, who was evidently a wise and learned prince, for we find him mentioned in the Rubrics of Chapters 30B, 64, 137A and 148 of the Book of the Dead in connection with the discovery of some of the oldest and most important chapters of that work. The wonder which Hertetef described was performed by Imhetep, the great physician and Kheri heb He was a great architect and directed all the building operations of King Djeser (IIIrd dynasty), including the construction of the famous Step-Pyramid at Sakkarah; he was deified by the later Egyptians. A good account (with illustrations) of the great temple which he built in connection with the Pyramid at Sakkarah, and of the excavations and discoveries which have been made at Sakkarah by Mr. C. N. Firth, is given in The Times of May 19, page 15. (i.e. chief priest and magician) of King Djeser, but what it was is not known. The story pleased Kheps greatly, for he ordered that "1000 loaves, and 100 pots of beer, and two measures of incense should be placed in the tomb of Djeser, and an ox slaughtered and sacrificed to him. And one loaf, and a little pot of beer, and a joint of meat and a measure of incense should be placed in the tomb of Imhetep."
[PRINCE KHAFRA (KHEPHREN) 10 TELLS THE SECOND STORY]
Then Prince Khephren stood up and spake, saying: "I will relate to Thy Majesty a marvellous matter which took place in the time of thy father King Nebka when he went to the temple of Ptah in Ankh-taui. And when His Majesty went to Memphis he gave an audience to the Chief Kheri heb Ubaner. On this occasion the wife of Ubaner fixed her gaze on a civilian, who was in the train of the King, and a mighty spasm of lust seized her. Therefore she sent her maid to him, and asked him to array himself in rich attire and to visit her. At the same time she sent him a case full of rich apparel and ornaments, and he came with the maid.
[THE CIVILIAN AND THE WIFE OF UBANER MEET IN THE GARDEN]
And when many days had passed by [the civilian discovered] that there was a summer house by the lake [in the garden of] Ubaner. And he invited [the wife of] Ubaner, saying: "Since there is a summer house by the lake of Ubaner, let us spend an hour there together." And the wife of Ubaner commanded the steward who had charge of the lake, saying: "Let the summer house which is by the lake be made ready for me. "And [she went] and passed the day there [with the civilian], and she ate and drank [with him] until [the sun] set. And when the evening was come, he came and went down to the lake, and the maid [was his attendant. Now the steward was watching and he made note of everything which took place at the lake].
[UBANER MAKES A WAX CROCODILE]
And when the earth became light and another day had come, the steward went [and reported] this matter [to Ubaner, saying: "Such and such things took place yesterday in the summer house by the lake "]. And Ubaner said: "Bring me the [case] of ebony and gold," [and he made] a crocodile of wax seven [spans long]. He then recited [over it a magical incantation (or a spell) suitable for the occasion, and said: "When the civilian cometh to bathe in my lake [seize him and kill him."] And he gave the wax crocodile to the steward and said unto him: "When the civilian goeth down into the lake to bathe as he did yesterday, thou shalt cast this crocodile into the water after him." And the steward departed and took away the wax crocodile with him.
And the wife of Ubaner sent a message to the steward who was in charge of the lake, saying: "Let the summer house which is by the lake be made ready, for behold I am coming to pass a time there." And the summer house was made ready and provided with every good thing. And the wife and her maid went there and spent a happy day with the civilian.
And when the evening had come, the civilian arrived according to his daily custom. And the steward cast the wax crocodile into the water after him. And it became a crocodile seven cubits long (nearly 12 feet) and it seized the civilian. Now Ubaner tarried with the Majesty of King Nebka for seven days, [and the civilian was in the belly of the crocodile and could not] breathe. And when the seven days were ended, King Nebka came [to depart] and the chief Kheri heb Ubaner [appeared before him] and said: "Would that Thy Majesty would come and see the wonderful thing which hath happened during the time [of the presence] of Thy Majesty [here]." [And the King went to the summer house with him, and Ubaner cried out to the crocodile saying]: "Produce the civilian." Then the crocodile came forth [from the lake] and brought him. And the Majesty of King Nebka said: "This crocodile is truly frightful." Then Ubaner stooped down and touched it and it became a [small] crocodile in his hand.
Then the chief Kheri heb Ubaner told the Majesty of King Nebka what the civilian had done in the summer house with his wife. And His Majesty commanded the crocodile, saying: "Take possession of thy property." Then the crocodile went down into the lake with the civilian and no man knew where he took him.
[THE FATE OF THE ADULTEROUS WIFE]
And the Majesty of King Nebka commanded the wife of Ubaner to be taken to the north side of the Palace, and they burnt her and cast [her remains] into the river.
[And Prince Khephren said]: "Behold, this is one of the things which the chief Kheri heb Ubaner performed, and this marvellous thing took place in the time of thy father, Nebka."
And the Majesty of King Kheps said: "Let there be offered to King Nebka 1000 loaves, 100 jars of beer, one ox and two measures of incense; and to the chief Kheri heb Ubaner, one cake, one jug of beer, one joint of meat and one measure of incense, for I have seen a proof of his knowledge." And according to His Majesty's commands so were all things done.
[THE SECOND STORY, WHICH WAS TOLD BY PRINCE BAIUFRA]
Then Prince Baiufra stood up and spake, saying: "I will relate to Thy Majesty a wonderful thing which took place in the time of thy father Senefru, viz. one of the things performed by the chief Kheri heb Djedjemankh.
[One day King Senefru was a-weary, and he found nothing to interest him. And he summoned his courtiers who dwelt in the Palace] so that they might find some means of diverting him, but they could find none. Then His Majesty said: "Go, fetch me the chief Kheri heb, the scribe of the book, Djedjemankh." He was brought unto him forthwith. And His Majesty [said unto him: "I gathered together the officials of the Court], so that they might discover some means by which to divert me, but I could find none." And Djedjemankh said unto him: "I would that Thy Majesty would come to the lake of the Palace, and would fill a boat with a crew composed of fair maidens from the royal apartments (i.e. the harim) of thy Palace. The heart of Thy Majesty will then be made glad when thou seest them rowing hither and thither. Then when thou seest the pretty thickets on thy lake, and the fields round about, and the shores of the lake, thy heart will be interested therein."
His Majesty said unto him: "I will go to the boat. Let there be brought to me twenty ebony paddles inlaid with gold, and having handles of sandalwood inlaid with fine gold. And let there be brought to me twenty women who have the fairest figures, and have rounded breasts and thick plaits of hair, and have not yet given birth to children. And let there be brought to me twenty tunics of network, and give them to these women to put on instead of their [ordinary] apparel. And everything was done which His Majesty commanded. And they rowed hither and thither, and the heart of His Majesty was made glad when he watched the rowing. Then [the arms of the maiden] who was rowing stroke became hampered by her plaited tresses [which had broken loose], and a new malachite hair-clasp, in the form of a fish, fell overboard into the water. And she ceased [singing] and stopped rowing and the row of maidens behind her stopped [singing] and rowing. Then His Majesty said unto them: "Do ye not intend to row?" And they answered and said: "Our stroke hath stopped [singing] and is not rowing." And His Majesty said unto her: "Why dost thou not row? "And she said: "It is because [my] new malachite buckle, in the form of a fish, hath fallen into the lake." [The King said: "What doth that matter? Go on rowing. I will give thee another buckle] in its place." And she said: "I want my own pot down to its bottom."
[HIS MAJESTY SUMMONS DJADJEM NKH]
Then His Majesty said angrily: "What nonsense! Fetch the chief Kheri heb Djedjemankh;" and he was brought forthwith. And his Majesty said: "Djedjemankh, my brother, I have done what thou didst bid me, and my heart hath been gladdened by the sight of their rowing. But a new malachite buckle in the form of a fish belonging to the stroke [of one row of maidens] hath fallen overboard into the water, and she hath stopped singing and ceased to row, and so disorganized her row. And I said to her: 'Why dost thou not row?' And she said: 'It is because my new malachite buckle in the form of a fish hath fallen overboard into the water.' And I said to her: 'Go on rowing, and behold I will give thee another in its stead.' And she said unto me: 'I want my own pot down to its bottom.'"
[THE NEW MALACHITE BUCKLE IS RECOVERED]
Then the chief Kheri heb Djedjemankh spake a formula of words of magical power, and he placed one half of the water of the lake upon the other half, and he found the malachite buckle lying on a fragment of the shell of a turtle. And he brought it and gave it to its owner.
Now the water in the middle of the lake was twelve cubits deep, and when it was turned back it was twenty-four cubits [deep]. Then he spake the magical formula of words of power which he was wont to use, and he brought the water back to its former level.
And His Majesty passed a happy day with the Court officials, and he bestowed upon the chief Kheri heb gifts of all good things.
[And Baiufra said: "Behold, this is a marvellous thing which happened in the time of thy father King Senefru through the operations of the chief Kheri heb, the scribe of the book, Djadjemankh."]
And the Majesty of King Kheops said: "Let 1000 loaves, 100 pots of beer, an ox and two measures of incense be offered to the Majesty of King Senefru, and one loaf, one pot of beer, and a measure of incense be offered to the chief Kheri heb, the scribe of the book, Djedjemankh, because I have seen a proof of his knowledge." And according to His Majesty's commands so were all things done.
[THE THIRD STORY, WHICH WAS TOLD BY PRINCE HERTETEF]
Then Prince Hertetef stood up to speak, saying: "[Up to now thou hast only heard proofs] of what those who were [our] predecessors knew, and one doth not know whether they be true or not. [But I can produce] a magician who is actually living in thine own time." And His Majesty said: "Who is he, my son Hertetef?"
And Prince Hertetef said: "There is a civilian Teta by name, and he dwelleth in Tet-Senefru. He is a civilian one hundred and ten years old, and he eateth 500 loaves of bread and a haunch of beef, and he drinketh one hundred pots of beer to this day. He knoweth how to refasten to its body the head which hath been cut off from it, and he knoweth how to make a lion follow on his [master's] heels with his leading cord trailing on the ground. He knoweth the number (?) of the locks (?) (or, closed partitions?) in the coffer of Thoth." Now the Majesty of King Kheops had been seeking for the locks (?) of the coffer of Thoth, so that he might have similar ones made for his Horizon (i.e. the Great Pyramid).
Then His Majesty said: "My son Hertetef, thou thyself shalt fetch him to me." And ships were prepared for Hertetef, and he sailed up the river to Tet-Senefru. And when the ships were tied up to the bank he set out by land; and he sat in an ebony chair, the carrying poles of which were made of sesnem wood and were plated with gold.
[PRINCE HERTETEF ARRIVES AT TETA'S HOUSE]
And when the Prince came to Teta, the chair was set down on the ground, and he rose up to greet him. And he found him lying on a mat (or, mattress) and one servant was holding his head and stroking it, and another was rubbing his feet. And Prince Hertetef said: "Thou art [still] in the period of life which precedeth old age and senility, and the death-chamber, and the swathing (i.e. mummification) chamber, and the grave yard, and art still able to extend thy sleep into the morning, without anxiety, and without depression and afflictions. I greet thee, O honourable one! I have come hither to communicate to thee an invitation of my father Kheops"—to eat the rich food which the King giveth, and the food of those who minister to him, to bring thee at a favourable time to thy fathers who are in the other world."
This Teta replied: "In peace, in peace (i.e. Welcome! Welcome!), Hertetef, thou son of a King whom his father loveth! May thy father Kheps reward thee! May he promote thee to a seat among the greybeards! May thy Ka fight (successfully) against thine opponent! May thy soul discover the secret (?) road to the porter at the gate of the Other World! Salutations to thee, O King's son."
And Prince Hertetef reached out his hands to him, and helped him to get up, and then he escorted him to the river bank, meanwhile holding him with his hand. And Teta said: "Let a boat be given to me that it may bring my children and my books." And they gave him two ships with their crews, but Teta sailed downstream in the ship wherein was Prince Hertetef.
[TETA IS PRESENTED TO KING KHEOPS]
And when he reached the Palace, Prince Hertetef went in to announce his arrival to the Majesty of King Kheops. And Prince Hertetef said: "O King, my lord, I have brought Teta." And His Majesty said: "Go, bring him to me."
Then His Majesty went to the hall of columns in the palace, and Teta was brought in before him. And His Majesty said unto him: "How hath it come about, Teta, that I have never seen thee before?" Teta answered and said: "He who is invited cometh. The King invited me, and behold, I am come." And His Majesty said: "Is it true, as they say, that thou canst re-unite [to its body] a head which hath been cut off?" And Teta said: "Indeed I can, O King, my lord." And His Majesty said: "Bring me a [condemned] prisoner from the prison that his sentence [of death] may be carried out." And Teta said: "Not a man, O King, my lord. Could it not be ordered that a thing of this kind should be done on [one of] the royal cattle?"
[THE WONDERFUL DEEDS OF TETA]
And a goose was brought unto him, and its head was cut off, and the [body of the] goose was placed in the western corner of the hall of columns, and its head in the eastern corner of the hall of columns. And Teta spake the formula which he was wont to use, and forthwith the goose stood up and waddled along, and the head likewise [moved along to meet it]. And when the one part reached the other the goose stood up and cackled.
And Teta had a duck brought to him, and it was treated in the same manner. And His Majesty had an ox brought to him, and its head was hewn off it, and Teta spake the formula of words of power, and the ox stood up behind him, and the rope by which he was led fell down on the ground.
[THE SECRET SHRINE (?) OF THOTH]
And King Kheops said: "Why is it that men say that thou knowest the number (or arrangement) of the locks (?) of the chest of Thoth?" Teta answered: "Forgive me (?), O King, my lord, but I do not know the number (?) of the locks (?), but I do know the place where they are." His Majesty said: "Where is that?" Teta answered: "There is a chest (or, coffer) of flint in the chamber called the Counting House in Heliopolis, [The locks?] are in the chest [Here some words are omitted.] And Teta said: "O King, my lord, it is not I who shall bring it to thee." And His Majesty said: "Who is it that will bring it to me?" And Teta said: "It is the eldest of the three sons who are in the womb of Rudj-tetet that shall bring it to thee."
Excerpted from Egyptian Tales and Legends by E. A. Wallis Budge. Copyright © 2002 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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