ISBN-10:
0300099207
ISBN-13:
9780300099201
Pub. Date:
10/11/2003
Publisher:
Yale University Press
The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies, and Poetry / Edition 3

The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies, and Poetry / Edition 3

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Overview


The latest edition of this highly praised anthology of ancient Egyptian literature offers fresh translations of all the texts as well as some twenty-five new entries, including writings from the late literature of the Demotic period at the end of classical Egyptian history. The book also includes an extensive bibliography.

Praise for the earlier editions:

“An elegant, easily readable, and most serviceable volume.”—K. A. Kitchen, Journal of Near Eastern Studies

“A reliable rendering of the Egyptian text that can be useful to students of Egyptology and provide the layman with delightful reading material.”—Mordechai Gilula, Cultura

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300099201
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 10/11/2003
Edition description: Third Edition
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 265,040
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

William Kelly Simpson is professor of Egyptology and Near Eastern Languages, Civilizations, and Literatures at Yale University.

Read an Excerpt

THE LITERATURE OF ANCIENT EGYPT

AN ANTHOLOGY OF STORIES, INSTRUCTIONS, STELAE, AUTOBIOGRAPHIES, AND POETRY

YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 2003 Yale University
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-09920-1


Chapter One

NARRATIVES AND TALES OF MIDDLE EGYPTIAN LITERATURE

KING CHEOPS AND THE MAGICIANS

his cycle of stories about the marvels performed by the lector priests is cast in the form of a series of tales told at the court of Cheops by his sons. The name of the first son is missing together with most of his story. The second son, Khaefre, later became king and is known as the builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza. The third son, Bauefre, is known from other sources; a later text indicates that he may have also become king for a short time. The fourth son, Hardedef, is known as one of the sages of the past, and part of his instruction has survived.

The text derives from a single manuscript of which the beginning and conclusion are missing. The papyrus was inscribed in the Hyksos period before Dynasty 18, but the composition appears to belong to Dynasty 12; the events described are set in the Old Kingdom.

The last story is a prophecy of the end of Cheops's line through the birth of the three kings who founded Dynasty 5. The story of their actual birth is presented as a sort of annex. Elements of the miraculous royal birth are represented inlater Egyptian and Near Eastern literature and even are reflected in the biblical accounts. The device of providing stories for the diversion of the king is also represented in The Prophecies of Neferty, The Admonitions, and The Eloquent Peasant, as well as several later compositions. The real substance of the composition is certainly the prophecy of the birth of the kings, and the other tales merely lead up to it. For bibliography and commentary on King Cheops and the Magicians (Papyrus Westcar), see Lefebvre, Romans et contes, 70-90, and Erman, The Ancient Egyptians (New York, 1966), xxiv, lxviii-lxix, 36-49. The standard hieroglyphic text with photographs of the papyrus is now A. M. Blackman (ed. W. V. Davies), The Story of King Kheops and the Magicians Transcribed from Papyrus Westcar (Berlin Papyrus 3033) (Reading, Berks, 1988). W.K.S.

[FIRST TALE: END OF THE MARVEL IN THE TIME OF KING DJOSER]

[... His Majesty] / the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khufu (Cheops), the vindicated, [said: Let there be given ...], one hundred jugs of beer, an ox, [... to] the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Djoser, the vindicated, [and may there be given ...], a haunch of beef, [... to the lector priest ...]. [For I] have seen an example of his wisdom. And [they] did according to [everything which His Majesty] commanded.

[SECOND TALE: THE MARVEL WHICH HAPPENED IN THE TIME OF KING NEBKA]

The king's son Khaefre (Chephren) arose [to speak, and he said: I should like to relate to Your Majesty] another marvel, one which happened in the time of [your] father, [the King of Upper and Lower Egypt] Nebka, the vindicated, as he proceeded to the temple of [Ptah,/Lord of] Ankhtowy.

Now when his Majesty went to [...], His Majesty made an [appeal? ... to] the chief [lector] Webaoner [...]. But the wife of Webaoner [... was enamored / of a townsman. She caused to be brought(?)] to him a chest filled with garments [...], and he returned with [the] housemaid. [Now several] days [passed by ...]. There was a pavilion [on the estate] of Webaoner. The townsman [said to the wife of Weba]oner: Is there a pavilion [...]? [Come], let us pass time in it. [Then said the wife of] Webaoner to the caretaker who [cared for the estate]: Let the pavilion be prepared, [...] and she spent the day there drinking / [with the townsman ... and] resting [...]. Now after [evening came ...] he [went to the Lake] and [the] housemaid [...].

[When day broke, and the second day came, the caretaker informed Webaoner of] this matter [...]. He gave it to his / [...] of the water. Then [he(?)] lit [a fire]. [Then Webaoner said]: Bring me [... my chest] of ebony and electrum [and he made ... and he opened ... and made] a crocodile [of wax ...] seven [fingers long ...]. He read out his [magic words saying ...]: [If anyone] comes [to bathe in my lake ...] the townsman. / Then he gave it to [the caretaker], and he said to him: After the townsman goes down to the pool, as is his daily fashion, you shall cast [the] crocodile after him. The [caretaker] went forth and he took the crocodile of wax with him.

Now the [wife] of Webaoner sent to the caretaker who was in charge of the [garden] saying: Let the pavilion which is in the garden be prepared for I have come to stay in it. The pavilion was prepared [with] every good thing. [They] (the wife and the maid servant?) went forth, and they (spent) / a pleasant day with the townsman. After night fell, the townsman returned as was his daily fashion, and the caretaker threw the crocodile of wax behind him into the water. [At once it grew] into a crocodile of seven cubits, and it took hold of the townsman [...].

Webaoner tarried with His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebka, the vindicated, for seven days, all the while the townsman was in the [lake without] breathing. After the seventh day came, His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebka, the vindicated came forth, and the chief lector Webaoner placed himself in presence and [he] said [to him]: May Your Majesty / come and see the marvel which has taken place in Your Majesty's time. [His Majesty went with] Webaoner. [He called out to the] crocodile and said: Bring back [the] townsman. [The crocodile] came [out of the water ...]. Then the [chief] lector [Webaoner] said: [Open up]! And he [opened up]. Then he placed [...]. Said His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, / Nebka, the vindicated: this crocodile is indeed fearful! But Webaoner bent down, and he caught it and it became a crocodile of wax in his hand. The chief lector Webaoner told His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebka, the vindicated, about this affair which the townsman had in his house with his wife. And his Majesty said to the crocodile: Take what belongs to you! The crocodile then went down to the [depths] of the lake, and no one knew the place where he went with him.

His [Majesty the King of Upper] and Lower Egypt, Nebka, the vindicated, had the wife of Webaoner taken to a plot north of the capital, and he set / fire to her [and threw her in] the river.

Such is a marvel which happened [in] the time of your father, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebka, one which the chief lector Webaoner performed. His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khufu, the vindicated, said: Let there be offered to the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebka, the vindicated, one thousand loaves of bread, one hundred jugs of beer, an ox, and two cones of incense, and let there be offered to the chief lector Webaoner one large cake, one jug of beer, one joint of meat, and one cone of incense, for I have [seen] an example of his skill. And it was done according to all His Majesty commanded.

[THIRD TALE: THE MARVEL WHICH HAPPENED IN THE REIGN OF KING SNEFRU]

Bauefre arose to speak, and he said: Let me have [Your] Majesty hear a marvel which took place in the time of your (own) father King Snefru, the vindicated, [one] which the chief lector / Djadjaemonkh [made] and which had not taken place [before] ... [Now His Majesty had searched out all the chambers] of the palace, l.p.h., to seek for him [some diversion ... and he said]: Hasten, bring me the chief [lector] and scribe, [... Djadjaem] onkh! He was brought to him immediately. [His Majesty] said to him: [I have looked through the chambers of the] palace, l.p.h., to seek for myself / some refreshing matter, but I cannot find any. Djadjaemonkh said to him: Let Your Majesty proceed to the lake of the palace, l.p.h., and equip for yourself a boat with all the beauties who are in your palace chamber. The heart of Your Majesty shall be refreshed at the sight of their rowing as they row up and down. You can see the beautiful fish pools of your lake, and you can see its beautiful fields around it. Your heart will be refreshed at this. : I will indeed fit out my rowing excursion. Let there be brought to me twenty oars made of ebony, fitted with gold, with the butts of sandalwood(?) fitted with electrum. Let there be brought to me twenty women, / the most beautiful in form, with firm breasts, with hair well braided, not yet having opened up to give birth. Let there be brought to me twenty nets, and let these nets be given to these women when they have taken off their clothes. Then it was done according to all that His Majesty commanded, and they rowed up and down. The heart of His Majesty was pleased at the sight of their rowing.

Now one of the strokes combed her tresses, and a fish-shaped charm of new turquoise fell in the water. She became silent and did not row, and her side of the boat became silent and did not row. His Majesty said: Are you not rowing? And they said: Our stroke / is silent and does not row. Then [His] Majesty said to her: [Why] do [you] not row? She said: A fish-shaped charm of new [turquoise] fell into the water. And [His Majesty said to her]: Would you like one to replace [it]? But [she said]: I [prefer] my own [to a look-alike]. [His Majesty] said: [Let there be brought again] the [chief] lector [Djadjaemonkh, and he was brought at once]. / His Majesty said: Djadjaemonkh, my brother, I have done as you have said, and the heart of His Majesty was refreshed at the sight of their rowing. But a fish-shaped charm of new turquoise, belonging to one of the leaders, fell into the water. She was silent and did not row. And it came to pass that she ruined her side. I said to her: Why have you stopped rowing? She said to me: It is a fish-shaped charm of new turquoise which has fallen into the water. I said to her: Row! I will replace it! She said to me: I prefer my own to its look-alike. Then said the chief lector Djadjaemonkh his magic sayings. He placed one side of the water of the lake upon the other, and lying upon a potsherd he found the fish-shaped charm. Then he brought it back and it was given to its owner. Now as for the water, it was twelve cubits deep, and it amounted to twenty-four cubits after it was folded back. He said his magic sayings, and he brought back the water of the lake to its position. His Majesty passed a holiday with the entire palace, l.p.h. When he came forth, he rewarded the chief lector Djadjaemonkh with all good things.

Such is a marvel which took place in the time of your father, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Snefru, the vindicated, something done by the chief lector, scribe of the document, Djadjaemonkh. And His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khufu, the vindicated, said: Let there be an offering made to His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Snefru, the vindicated, / consisting of one thousand loaves of bread, one hundred jugs of beer, an ox, and two cones of incense, and let there be given a large cake, a jug of beer, and one cone of incense to the chief lector, scribe of the document, Djadjaemonkh. For I have seen an example of his skill. It was done according to all His Majesty commanded.

[THE FOURTH TALE: A MARVEL IN THE TIME OF KING KHUFU HIMSELF]

The king's son Hardedef arose to speak, and he said: [You have heard examples of] the skill of those who have passed away, but there one cannot know truth from falsehood. [But there is with] Your Majesty, in your own time, one who is not known [to you ...]. His Majesty said: What is this, Har[dedef, my son? Then said Har]dedef: There is a townsman / named Dedi. He lives in Ded-Snefru, the vindicated. He is a townsman of 110 years, and he eats 500 loaves, a shoulder of beef as meat, and as drink 100 jugs up to this day. He knows how to reattach a head which has been cut off, and he knows how to make a lion go behind him, its tether on the ground. He knows the number of the 4shrines5 of the enclosure of Thot. Now His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khufu, the vindicated, had spent much time in seeking for himself these shrines of the enclosure of Thot to fashion for himself their likeness for his horizon. His Majesty said: You yourself, Hardedef, my son, you shall bring him to me. Boats were prepared for the king's son, Hardedef, / and he sailed south to Ded-Snefru, the vindicated.

After these boats were moored at the river bank, he went by land. He sat in a carrying chair of ebony, the poles made of sesnedjem-wood and sheathed in gold (leaf). When he reached Dedi, the carrying chair was put down, and he proceeded to address him. It was lying down on a mat at the threshold of his house that he found him, a servant at his head massaging him and another wiping his feet. The king's son Hardedef said: Your condition is like a life before old age, although senility [has come], the time of mooring, burial, and interment. (Yet you) sleep until dawn, free from ailments, and there is no coughing in your throat. Greetings, / O honored one! It is to summon you on the business of my father, King Khufu, the vindicated, that I have come here, and that you may eat the delicacies of the king's giving, the food of those who are in his following, and that he may send you in good time to your fathers who are in the cemetery.

And this Dedi said: In peace, in peace, Hardedef, king's son, beloved by his father! May your father King Khufu, the vindicated, favor you! May he advance your station among the venerables. May your Ka contend with your enemy, and may your Ba learn the ways leading to the Portal of the One Who Clothes the Weary One. Greetings, / O king's son!

The king's son Hardedef stretched out his hands to him and raised him up. He went with him to the riverbank, giving him his arm. Dedi said. Let me have a kakau-boat that it may bring me (my) students and my writings. There were made to attend him two boats and their crews.

Dedi went northward in the barge in which the king's son Hardedef was. After he reached the capital, the king's son Hardedef entered to report to His Majesty the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khufu, the vindicated. The king's son Hardedef said: Sovereign, l.p.h., my lord, I have brought Dedi. His Majesty said: Hasten, bring him to me. His Majesty proceeded to the pillared hall / of the palace, l.p.h., and Dedi was ushered in to him. His Majesty said: What is this, Dedi, my not having seen you (before)? And Dedi said: It is (only) the one who is summoned who comes, Sovereign, l.p.h. I have been summoned and see I have come. His Majesty said: Is it true, the saying that you know how to reattach a head which has been cut off? Dedi said: Yes, I do know how, Sovereign, l.p.h., my lord. His Majesty said: Let there be brought to me a prisoner who is in confinement, that his punishment may be inflicted. And Dedi said: But not indeed to a man, Sovereign, l.p.h., my lord. For the doing of the like is not commanded unto the august cattle. So there was brought to him a goose, and its head was severed. Then the goose was placed on the western side of the pillared court, and its head on the / eastern side of the pillared court. Dedi said his say of magic words. The goose arose and waddled and likewise its head. After the one (part) reached the other, the goose stood up and cackled. Next he caused a waterfowl to be brought to him, and the like was done with it. Then His Majesty caused that there be brought him an ox, and its head was felled to the ground. Dedi said his say of magic words, and the ox stood up behind him with his tether fallen / to the ground.

(Continues...)



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