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Descriptions of Asiatic life from the Tale of Sinuhe
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Excerpt of the tale of Sinuhe on limestone, British Museum
Excerpt from the Tale of Sinuhe on a piece of limestone
13th century BCE
Picture source: British Museum site
 

Description of Asiatic life from the Tale of Sinuhe

Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1930 BCE)

He set me at the head of his children. He married me to his eldest daughter. He let me choose for myself of his country,
(80) of the choicest of that which was with him on his frontier with another country. It was a good land, named Yaa. Figs were in it and grapes. It had more wine than water. Plentiful was its honey, abundant were its olives. Every (kind of) fruit was on its trees. Barley were there and emmer. There was no limit to any (kind of) cattle.
(85) Moreover, great was that which accrued to me as a result of the love for me. He made me ruler of a tribe of the choicest of his country. Bread was made for me as daily fare, wine as daily provision, cooked meat and roast fowl, beside the wild beasts of the desert, for they hunted (go) for me and laid before me, beside the catch of my (own) hounds. Many . . . were made for me, and milk in every (kind of) cooking.

I spent many years, and my children grew up to be strong men, each man as the restrainer of his (own) tribe. The messenger who went north or who went south to the Residence City
(95) stopped over with me, (for) I used to make everybody stop over. I gave water to the thirsty. I put him who had strayed (back) on the road. I rescued him who had been robbed. When the Asiatics became so bold as to oppose the rulers of foreign countries, I counseled their movements. This ruler of
(100) (Re)tenu had me spend many years as commander of his army. Every foreign country against which I went forth, when I had made my attack on it, was driven away from its pasturage and its wells. I plundered its cattle, carried off its inhabitants, took away their food, and slew people in it
(105) by my strong arm, by my bow, by my movements, and by my successful plans. I found favour in his heart, he loved me, he recognized my valour, and he placed me at the head of his children, when he saw how my arms flourished.

A mighty man of Retenu came, that he might challenge me
(110) in my (own) camp. He was a hero without peer, and he had repelled all of them. He said that he would fight me, he intended to despoil me, and he planned to plunder my cattle, on the advice of his tribe. That prince discussed (it) with me, and I said: "I do not know him. Certainly I am no confederate of his,
(115) so that I might move freely in his encampment. Is it the case that I have (ever) opened his door or overthrown his fences? (Rather), it is hostility because he sees me carrying out thy commissions. I am really like a stray bull in the midst of another herd, and a bull of (these) cattle attacks me.... During the night I strung my bow and shot my arrows, I gave free play to my dagger, and polished my weapons. When day broke, (Re)tenu was come.
(130) It had whipped up its tribes and collected the countries of a (good) half of it. It had thought (only) of this fight. Then he came to me as I was waiting, (for) I had placed myself near him. Every heart burned for me; women and men groaned.

Every heart was sick for me. They said: "Is there another strong man who could fight against him?" Then (he took) his shield, his battle-axe,
(135) and his armful of javelins. Now after I had let his weapons issue forth, I made his arrows pass by me uselessly, one close to another. He charged me, and I shot him, my arrow was sticking in his neck. He cried out and fell on his nose.
(140) I felled him with his (own) battle-axe and raised my cry of victory over his back, while every Asiatic roared. I gave praise to Montu, while his adherents were mourning for him. This ruler Ammi-enshi took me into his embrace. Then I carried off his goods and plundered his cattle. What he had planned to do
(145) to me I did to him. I took what was in his tent and stripped his encampment. I became great thereby, I became extensive in my wealth, I became abundant in my cattle.

Pritchard, James B. Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton, 1969, pp. 18-19

 


-The Tale of Sinuhe, translated by A.H.Gardiner
 
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The Story of Sinuhe, From M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume I
The Tale of Sinuhe
The Tale of Sinuhe
The Adventures of Sinuhe
The Adventures of Sinuhe
Reading the Story of Sinuhe by David Lorton
 

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January 2001