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Ancient Egyptian texts: pAnastasi I - A Satirical Letter
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Papyrus Anastasi I:
A Satirical Letter

I. The rank and qualifications of the writer.

    The scribe of noble parts, patient in discussion, at whose utterances men rejoice when they are heard, skilled in the hieroglyphs; there is nothing he does not know. He is a champion in valour and in the art of Seshyt; servant of the lord of Khmun in the hall of writing; assistant-teacher in the office of writing. First of his companions, foremost of his fellows, prince of his contemporaries, without his peer. - This text, pBM 10247 or pAnastasi I, was written during the New Kingdom. It is probably a literary composition rather than a real letter.
-Seshyt: Goddess of writing
-Khmun: Hermopolis Magna, modern Al Ashmunein) : Capital of the 15th Upper Egyptian nome. Foremost cult centre of Thoth.
    His merit is proved in every stripling. His hand goes forth(??), his fingers magnify the young(??). Noble, keen of wit, adept in knowledge; fortunate because of it (??). Protecting himself by his good qualities; beloved in (men's) hearts, without being repelled (?); men like to make a friend of him, they do not tire of him. Swift to inscribe empty rolls. Youthful, eminent of charm, pleasant of grace. Unravelling the obscurities of the annals like him who made them. All that goes forth from his mouth is steeped in honey; the heart is refreshed with it as it were with medicine. Groom of his Majesty, follower of the Sovereign, trainer of the steeds of the king, ardent cultivator of the stable. -His merit: as a teacher
    The old man who doeth like him is beaten(?). He who looses the yoke, [Hori] son of Onnofre of the region of Abydos, island of the just; born of Tewosre in the district of Belbeis, singer of Ubast in Sekhet-netjer. -Sekhet-netjer: sxt-nTr see Transliteration and pronunciation of ancient Egyptian.

II. He sends greetings to his friend, the scribe Amenemope.

    He greets his friend, his excellent brother, the royal scribe in command of the victorious army; noble of parts, goodly of qualities, adept in knowledge; who has not his equal in any scribe. Beloved of all men; beautiful to him who beholds his charm; like a flower of the marshes in the heart of others.
    A scribe (writing) in every style(?); there is nothing that he does not know. Men inquire after his response in quest of choice words. Keen of wit, patient of heart, loving mankind; rejoicing at deeds of Justice, he turns his back upon iniquity. [The scribe of steeds(?) ///////// Amenemope, son of the steward Mose, the revered.]

III. Wishes for the welfare of the friend.

    Mayest thou live and prosper and be hale, my excellent brother, well-equipped, strongly-established, without a wish; thy needs of life and of sustenance satisfied, joy and delight united in thy path. May (//////) come forth for thee in thy lifetime, and his(?) gate(??) decay not; mayest thou see the rays of the sun and sate thyself with him; mayest thou pass [thy] term ///////// thy gods pleased with thee, not being wroth ////// ; may thy reward be ///////// after old age, thy love(??) in the hearts of(?) the Just; mayest thou enter into thy tomb in the holy [ground] and mix with the noble spirits; mayest thou be judged among them and be acquitted in Busiris before Onnofre, being established in Abydos in the presence of Shu-Onuris; mayest thou cross [to U-peqer] in the train of the god; mayest thou traverse the divine region in the train of Sokaris; mayest thou join the crew of the Neshmet bark, without being turned back; -Onnofre: Osiris
-Shu: God of the air, identified with Re.
-Onuris: Anhuret, cult centre at This. Returned the suneye of Re to its owner. Since the New Kingdom merged with Shu.
-Sokaris: Originally a fertility god, later a god of the dead.
-Neshmet bark: Sacred barque of Osiris.
mayest thou see the sun in heaven when he opens the year; may Anubis attach for thee thy head to thy bones; mayest thou come forth from the Hidden Place, without being destroyed; mayest thou [behold] the sheen in the Netherworld as it passes by thee; may Nun be abundant in thy domain, may he inundate thy path, may he overflow (the land to) seven ells (depth) beside thy tomb; mayest thou sit at the rivers brink in thy moment of repose; mayest thou lave thy face and thy hand; mayest thou receive offerings; may thy nose inhale the breeze; mayest thou relax thy throat; the clothes of Tayt(?) ///////// ; may Nepri give thee bread, and Hathor beer; mayest thou suck at the breast of the Cow sxAit-Hr; may the best oils(?) be opened for(?) thee; mayest thou enter ////////////, mayest thou set him on his seat; may the Ushebti-figures receive thee(?) ////// carrying sand from the East to the West; mayest thou ////// [the goddess in] thy sycamore, may she moisten thy throat; mayest thou repel [thy enemies (?); mayest thou be powerful(?) on] earth, mayest thou be bright ////////////, mayest thou be justified in heaven //////; mayest thou descend to the //////, without being destroyed; mayest thou make thy transformations as thou listest like the Phoenix, every form of thine being a god when thou //////////// -Anubis: Anpu, god of mummification referred to as "He of the Hall of Gods", Lord of the Holy Land (i.e. the necropolis)
-Nun: The primordial waters, god of the water oldest of the ogdoad.
-Tayt: also Tait, goddess of weaving. The bandages of the mummy, here called clothes of Tayt, were protected by her. Connected with Isis as the goddess of destiny.
-Nepri: Neper, corn god, referred to as "he who lives after he has died."
-Hathor: goddess of music, dance and love.
-sxAit-Hr: Sekhat-Hor. Beinlich: sxA.t-Hr, Thesaurus: sxA.t-Hrw
-ushebti: little figurines serving the deceased as servants or stand-ins, cf. The ushabti: An existence of eternal servitude


IV. Reception of a letter from Amenemope.

    Another topic. Thy letter reached me in an hour of leisure. Thy messenger found me I sat beside the horse which is in my charge. I rejoiced and was glad, I made ready to reply. I entered into my stable to examine thy letter. I found it consisted neither of praises nor of insults. Thy utterances confuse this with that, all thy words are perverted, they are not coherent. All thy writing is //////////////////. mixing(?) [evil things] with choice, the best with //////. Thy sayings are [not(?)] sweet; they are not bitter. ////////////////// with honey; thou dost excel must mingled with unmellowed wine.

V. The way in which Amenemope wrote his letter is described.

    I [send] to thee and bear witness unto thee like ///////////////, but not excellent(?). As for me, when [I] say [to] thee ///////// speak coolly(?). Thy speeches ////////////////// perturbed(?), to frighten me(?). But I feel no awe before thee, I know thy nature, I feel sure that thou wilt answer it alone by thyself.
    But lo, thy protectors stand behind thee; thou hast assembled many ////// of(?) helpers such as thou wouldst (collect(??)) for a bench of judges. Thy looks are troubled, whilst thou standest coaxing the assistants(?) and saying: Come (join) with me and lend a hand to me! Thou presentest them with gifts, each man separately, and they say to thee: "Take heart, we will overcome him."
    Thou standest perturbed(?) ///////// before them(?); and they sit deliberating, the six scribes. Thou hastenest with them ////////////////// seven(?). Thou givest two sections(?) in charge to each man, and completest thy letter again. [One] (scribe speaks[?] praises, two (utter [?]) insults(?). Another(?) stands and examines them according to the rules. [The fifth] says: "Do not hurry, be patient about it in making (it) perfect."
-a bench of judges: any official could be appointed to perform judicial duties. (cf. Law and Order)
    The sixth hastens to measure the [corn(?)]; he exerts himself(?) to have it delivered. The seventh stands at (his) side in the act of receiving the rations for the soldiers. Thy lists are confused, and cannot be made right. Kharof plays the deaf man and will not hearken. He takes an oath by Ptah saying: "I will not let the seal be set upon the granary." He goes forth in a rage.
    By what (number) of bushels is one short(?)? (What[?]) is the loss of pints in it for every measure? Behold thou art a scribe in command of the army. Men hearken to what thou sayest, thou art not disregarded! Thou art clever as a scribe, there is nothing thou dost not know! Thy letter is deemed too second-rate(?) to be listened to. Thou hast parted from(?) thy papyrus to no purpose(??). Thou didst enter knowing beforehand(?): it is not good(?); do not(?) cause it to be brought, saying: the ///////// are continually ////// at my finger-ends(?), like a book of incantations(?) at the neck of a sick man; it is continually //////, it does not tire of being fastened by the thread of my ring.
Counting and measuring

VI. The author reproves Amenemope's discourtesy.

    I reply to thee in like fashion, in a letter newly(-composed) from the first word(?), down to the finis(?), filled with expressions of my lips invented by myself alone, none other being with me. By the might of Thoth! I made it by myself, without summoning any scribe that he might help. I will give thee more than(?) twenty themes(?), I will repeat for thee what thou hast said, (every) theme in its place, (from) the fourteen columns(?) (of) thy letter.
    Take for thyself(?) a sheet of papyrus; I will tell thee many things, and will pour out for thee choice words. - The Nile spreads abroad (its) flood when(?) the inundation season is bright(??); it takes possession of the meadows. - All my words are sweet and pleasant in the saying(?); I do not act as thou dost when [I] invoke(?) thee.
    Thou startest with insults to me; thou dost not salute me at the beginning of thy letter. Thy words are far from me, they do not come near (me); for Thoth, my god, is a shield about me. By the might of Ptah, the Lord of Truth, ////////////. Behold make thy words so that(?) they come to pass; make every utterance of thy mouth into every (kind of) enemy. (Yet[?]) shall I be buried in Abydos [in] the abode of my father; for I am the son of Truth in the city of the Lord(?) (of Truth). I shall be buried among my compeers(?) in the hill of the Sacred Land.
    Wherefore am I (as) a reprobate in thy heart? Then visit(?) it (upon me[?]). To whom have I recalled thee with an evil recalling? I will make for thee a volume as a pleasant jest (so that) thou becomest the sport of everybody.

VII. Amenemope vilifies the author and is answered.

    Again thou sayest (concerning me) : "Feeble of arm, strengthless one!" Thou dost undervalue me as scribe, and sayest: "He knows nothing!" - I have not spent a moment beside thee coaxing thee and saying: "Be my protector, someone is persecuting me!"
    (By) the decree of the Victorious Lord, whose name is powerful, whose statutes are firmly-established like (those of) Thoth; I am the helper of all my fellow-men! Thou sayest, "Thou fallest(?)," again(?) concerning me //////. I know many men without strength, feeble of arm, weak of forearm, lacking in power. And (yet) they are rich in houses, in food and sustenance, and they speak no wish [concerning anything(?).
    Come, let me tell to thee the likeness of the scribe Roy, who was called the firebrand(?) of the granary. He never moved and never ran since (the day of) his birth. He detested the work of an active man, and never (came to) know it. And (yet) he rests in the Amente, his skin whole, and the dread of the Goode God overtakes him not.
    Thou art more(?) foolish than(?) Kasa, the reckoner of cattle. Run(??), for(?) I will tell thee his likeness; do not(?) ///////////////.
    Thou hast surely heard the name of Amen-wah-se, an old man in [the] Treasury. He passed his lifetime as controller in the workshop beside the armoury.
    Come let me tell thee of Nakht, him of the wine-store; he will please thee ten times better than these. Let me tell thee of P-har-pideg who lives in Heliopolis; [he is an old] man of the Palace. He is smaller (than) a cat, and bigger than an ape; he prospers in his house and /////////, (while[?]) thou wilt be here in the stable for ever(?).
    Thou hast heard the name of Ke-sop(??), the ////// (?), who moves over the ground unnoticed, disorderly(?) of attire and tightly swathed. If thou wert to see him at evening in the darkness, thou wouldst fancy him a passing bird. Put him in the scale and see how heavy he is. He will come out at ten pounds or even lighter still. If thou blowest beside him as he passes, he will drop down far off like a leaf of foliage.
    If I tell thee of Wah, him of the cattle-stalls, thou wilt reward me with thrice refined(?) gold. I swear by the Lord of Khmun and Nehem-awayt, thou art strong of arm, thou wilt overthrow them. Let [them(?)] be examined, these(?) with those. I will smite them with my arm, [nor shall any turn(?) aside my hands. - Good Sir, my friend, who dost not know what thou sayest, I solve thy riddles; arduous things I make easy!

VIII. The writer mocks at Amenemope's pretended wisdom

    Thou art come furnished with great secrets. Thou tellest me a proverb of Hardedef, and knowest not whether it be good or bad; what chapter comes before it ////// ? Thou art one clever beyond his fellows; the lore of books is graven in thy heart. Felicitous is thy tongue; broad are thy words. One saying from thy mouth weighs more than three pounds.
    Thou ///////// to me in order to frighten me(?). My eyes are dazzled(?) at what thou doest; I am agape(?) when thou sayest: "More profound as scribe am I than heaven and earth and the netherworld; I know the (measure of the) mountains in pounds and in pints."
    The house of books is hidden, it is not seen?; its divine cycle is concealed and ///////////////. Tell me what thou knowest (of them). Then shall I answer thee: "Beware lest thy fingers approach the hieroglyphs."
    So say I: "//////////// as when ////// sits to play draughts."

IX. The writer vindicates his title to the name of scribe

    Thou sayest to me: "Thou art no scribe, thou art no soldier! Thou (alone) makest thyself out to be one in authority(?)! Thou art not on the list!"
    - Thou (forsooth) art a scribe of the king, one who enrols the soldiers. All the ////// (?) of heaven are open before thee. Haste thee to the place [of the] books, that they may let thee see the chest with the [register], taking an offering to
HrS that he may quickly disclose(?) to thee my(?) reputation. Thou wilt find my name upon the roll as officer of the great stable of Sese-miamun. Thou wilt bear witness to the command in the stable (which I hold), for provisions(?) are entered in my name. So I have served as officer! So I have been a scribe! There is no stripling of thy(?) generation who can measure himself with me. Let a man inquire from his mother! Hie thee to my superior officers, that they may declare to thee my reputation.

X. An imaginary competition in which the writers superiority is proved.

    Again thou sayest concerning me: "A high /// tree is before thee; enter thou into the difficult(?) ////// tree; thou canst not do it!" Enter thou in before me, and I will come after thee.
    Admit(?), thou hast never approached it, nor canst thou(?) draw nigh to it. If thou discoverest the inner part of it, I have I retreated (still further). Beware of laying hands on me in order to pull me out.

XI. The writer is again accused of being no true scribe.

    Thou sayest to me: "In very sooth thou art no scribe; it is a vain and empty name. Thou bearest the palette wrongfully, without being //////! (?)" - I am foolish(?) [and without a(?)] teacher. Tell me(?) the //////////// able to exhaust(?) me(?). Thou dost harness thyself against me yet again. Thy sayings do injustice; they will not be hearkened to. Let thy letters be taken before Onuris, that he may decide for us who is in the right; do not be angry.

XII. Two instances of the incompetence of Amenemope: in the supplying of rations for the troops, and in the building of a ramp.

    Another topic. Behold I am come full of thy office; I cause thee to know how matters stand with thee when thou sayest: "I am the scribe, commander of soldiers."
    There is given to thee a lake to dig. Thou comest to me to inquire concerning the giving of rations to the soldiers, and sayest to me: "Reckon it out."
    Thou desertest thy office; the (task of) teaching thee to perform it falls upon my shoulders. Come, I will tell thee more than thou hast said(?). I will cause thee to be abashed(?).
    I will disclose to thee a command of thy Lord, since thou art his royal scribe, (since) thou art despatched to convey great monuments for Horus, the Lord of the Two Lands. For thou (in sooth) art the clever scribe who is at the head of the soldiers! - There is made a ramp of 730 cubits, with a breadth of 55 cubits, consisting of 120 compartments(?), filled with reeds and beams, with a height of 60 cubits at its summit, its middle of 30 cubits, its batter(?) 15 cubits, its base(??) of 5 cubits. The quantity of bricks needed for it is asked of the commander of the army. All the scribes together lack knowledge among them(?). They put their faith in thee, all of them, saying: "Thou art a clever scribe, my friend! Decide for us quickly! Behold thy name is famous; let one be found in this place (able) to magnify the other thirty! Let it not be said of thee that there is aught that thou dost not know! Answer us (as to) the quantity of bricks needed! Behold its measurement(??) are before thee; each one of its compartments(?) is of 30 cubits (long) and 7 cubits broad." -Seemingly, the ramp is to be built of bricks, with 120 empty spaces to be filled with sand and rubble in order to save on bricks. Similar labour saving techniques were applied in the building of pyramids, where the core is made of lower quality materials than the outer layers.
For a discussion of the problem see Gardiner, 1911
-cubit: about half a metre.

XIII. Amenemope is unable to determine the number of men required in the transport of an obelisk of given dimensions.

    Come, good sir, vigilant scribe, who art at the head of the army, distinguished when thou standest at the great Palace-gates, comely when thou bowest down beneath the Balcony!
    A despatch has come from the crown-prince at
ra-kA to rejoice the heart of the Horus of Gold, to extol(?) the raging Lion(?), telling that an obelisk has been newly made, graven with the name of His Majesty, of 110 cubits in length of shaft; its pedestal 10 cubits (square), the block at its base making 7 cubits in every direction; it goes in a slope(?) towards the summit(?), one cubit and one finger(?); its pyramidion one cubit in height, its point(?) (measuring) two fingers. Add them together(??) so as to make them into a list(??), so that thou mayest appoint every man needed to(??) drag them, and send them to the Red Mountain. Behold, they are waiting for [them].
    Prepare(?) the way for(?) the crown-prince
ms-itn. Approach(?) and decide for us the number of men who (shall go) before him. Let them not have to write again! The monument (lies ready) in the quarry. Answer quickly, do not dawdle! Behold thou art seeking them for thyself! Get thee on! Behold thou art bestirring thyself(?).
    I cause thee to rejoice; I used formerly to ////// like thee. Let us join the fray together, for my heart is tried, my fingers are apt and clever when thou goest astray. Get thee (onwards)! Do not weep! Thy helper stands behind thee!
    I will cause thee to say: There is a royal scribe with the Horus, the Victorious Bull, and thou shalt order men to make chests into which to put letters. I would have written for thee stealthily(??), but(?) behold thou art seeking it for thyself. Thou settest my fingers /////////. like a bull at a festival at every festival of /////////
Transportation of monuments
Linedrawing of workers dragging monument

XIV. Amenemope proves himself incapable of supervising the erection of a colossus.

    It is said to thee: "Empty the magazine that has been loaded with sand under the monument of thy Lord which has been brought from the Red Mountain. It makes 30 cubits stretched upon the ground, and 20 cubits in breadth, //////-ed with 100(??) chambers filled with sand from the river-bank. The ///////// of its(?) chambers have a breadth of 44(?) cubits and a height of 50 cubits, all of them, ///////// in their ///////// Thou art commanded to find out what is before (the Pharaoh) (??) . How many men will (it take to) demolish it in six hours - (if[?]) apt are their minds(?), but small their desire to demolish it without there coming a pause when thou givest a rest to the soldiers, that they may take their meal - so that the monument may be established in its place? It is Pharaohs desire to see it beautiful! Diagram depicting the possible method for erecting an obelisk

XV. Amenemope fails to make proper provision for a military expedition.

    O scribe, keen of (wit), understanding of heart, to whom nothing whatsoever is unknown, flame in the darkness before the soldiers, giving light to them! Thou art sent on an expedition to Phoenicia(?) at the head of the victorious army, in order to smite those rebels who are called Nearin. The troops of soldiers who are before thee amount to 1900; (of) Sherden 520(?), of Kehek 1600 , of Meshwesh (100(?)), Negroes making 880; total 5000 in all, not counting their officers. A complimentary gift has been brought for thee (and set) before thee, bread and cattle and wine. The number of men is too great for thee, the provision (made) is too small for them: loaves of /// flour, 300; cakes, 1800; goats of various sorts, 120; wine, 30 (measures). The soldiers are too numerous, the provisions are underrated as compared with(??) that which thou takest of them. Thou receivest(?) (them, and) they are placed in the camp. The soldiers are prepared and ready. Register them quickly, the share of every man to his hand. The Beduins look on in secret. O sapient scribe, midday has come, the camp is hot. They say: It is time to start! Do not make the commander angry! Long is the march before us!
    But I say: "What means it, that there is no(??) bread at all? Our night-quarters are far off! What means, good sir, this scourging of us? Nay, but thou art a clever scribe! Approach to give the food! An hour becomes(?) a day without the scribe from(??) the Ruler. (What means(??)) thy being brought to punish us? This is not good; let Mose hear (of it), and he will send to destroy thee!"
-Nearin: semitic: "young men".
-Sherden: one of the Sea Peoples. Many Sherden were hired as mercenaries during the later New Kingdom.
-Meshwesh: Libyans.
-Negroes: Nubians.

XVI. Amenemope's ignorance of Northern Syria

    Thy letter abounds in pointed speeches(?), is overloaded with big words. Behold they will(?) reward thee with that which they demand(??); thou hast piled up (words) at thy good pleasure.
    "I am a scribe, a Maher," thou dost retort. (If) there is truth in what thou sayest, say I, come forth that thou mayest be tested. A horse is harnessed for thee, swift as the jackal red of ear; it is like a storm of wind when it goes forth. Thou loosest the reins, and seizest the bow. Let us see what thy hand will do!
    I will expound to thee the manner of a Maher, I will cause thee to see what he does. Thou hast not gone to the land of Khatti; thou hast not beheld the land of Upe. As for Khedem, thou knowest not the nature of it, and Igdi in like manner.
-Maher: semitic loanword, possibly an Egyptian emissary in Syria (Gardiner) or a military officer (Wb 2, 116.3; Lesko, Dictionary I, 230 f.; Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts, no. 190)
-Khatti: Hatti, the Hittite empire in eastern Anatolia.
-land of Upe: also called Ube, Opis. Land around Damascus (Gardiner, op.cit.)
-Khedem: xdm
-Igdi: jgdj
    What is the Djemer of Sese like? On which side of it is the town of Kher//////? What is its stream like? -Djemer: Dmr
-Kher//////: xr//////
    Thou hast never set forth to Kadesh and to Debekh. Thou hast not gone to the region of the Shosu with the troops of the army. Thou hast [not] trodden the way to the mgr, (where) the sky is dark by day, and it is overgrown with cypresses(?) and oaks and cedars that reach the heavens; (where) lions are more plenteous than leopards and hyenas(?), and (it) is girt about with Shosu on (every) side. -Debekh: dbx, Tubikhi in the Amarna letters, town probably south of Damascus.
-Kher//////: xr//////
    Thou hast not climbed the mountain of Shu. Thou hast not trodden (the road(?)), thy hands placed upon ///////// thy chariot worn by ropes, thy horse being dragged(??). Prithee let [me tell thee of] //////brt(?). Thou shrinkest from(?) its ascent, and crossest its stream because of it(?). Thou beholdest how it tastes to be a Maher! Thy chariot rests upon thy [shoulder(?)]. Thy [assistant(?)] is worn out. Thou makest a halt in the evening; all thy body is crushed and battered(?); thy [limbs are bruised(?) ///////// from sleep. Thou wakest, and it is the hour for starting in the drear(?) night, Thou art alone to harness (the horse); brother comes not to brother. A fugitive(??) has entered into the camp. The horse has been let loose. The ////// has turned back(?) in the night. Thy clothes have been taken away. Thy groom has awoke in the night, and marked what he has done(?); he takes what remains and joins (the ranks of) the wicked, he mingles with the people of the Shosu and disguises himself as an Asiatic. The enemy comes to pillage in secret. They find thee inert. Thou wakest up and findest no trace of them; they have made away with thy things. Thou art becoming a fully-equipped Maher, thou fillest thy ear(?). -Shu: Sw
Canaan during the New Kingdom
Canaan during the New Kingdom

XVII. The Phoenician cities

    I will tell thee of another mysterious city. Byblos is its name; what is it like - and its(?) goddess, once again? Thou hast not trodden it. Come teach me about Berytus, and about Sidon and Sarepta. Where is the stream of Netchen? What is Uzu like? They tell of another city in the sea, Tyre-the-port is its name. Water is taken over to it in boats, and it is richer in fishes than in sand. -Byblos: Important trading partner of the Egyptians in the Levant during much of their ancient history.
-Berytus: be-ru-ta, brt (beret) in Egyptian
-Sidon: Ddn (Djeden) in Egyptian
-Sarepta: town between Tyre and Sidon
-the stream of Netchen: nTn, the Litani(?)
-Uzu: aiT
-Tyre: important town built on an island off the Lebanese coast.

XVIII. Places further southwards.

    I will tell to thee another misery - the crossing of Dram. Thou wilt say: It burns more than a (hornet-)sting! How ill it goes with the Maher!
    Come, set me on the road southward to the region of Acco(?). Where is the road of Achshaph? Beside(?) what city (does it pass)? Pray teach me about the mountain of
wsr; what is its peak like? Where is the mountain of Shechem? Who //////////// ? The Maher - where does he make the journey to Hazor? What is its stream like? Put me (on) the route to Hammat, Djeger and Degerel, the playground of all Mahers. Pray, teach me about his road. Make me behold ian///! If one is travelling to Ademem, whither turns the face? Do not make [me(?)] withdraw(?) from thy teaching, lead me(?) to know them!
-the crossing of Dram. Thou wilt say: It burns more than a (hornet-)sting: according to Gardiner this is a pun: Dram corresponds to Semitic Tsaraah and Tsiraah means wasp.
-Acco: town north of Haifa.
-Achshaph: Egyptian aksp misspelled for Aksp (?)
-Hazor: in the text XDr
-Hammat: Hmt
-Djeger: Dgr
-Degerel: dgrAl
-Ademem: Admm: (Maale) Adumim (?)

XIX. Various other towns visited by the Maher.

    Come let me tell thee of other towns, which are above(??) them. Thou hast not gone to the land of , Kadesh, Tekhes, Kurmeren, Temenet, Deper, Idi, Herenem. Thou hast not beheld Kirjath-anab and Beth-Sepher. Thou dost not know Ideren, nor yet Djedpet. Thou dost not know the name of Kheneredj which is in the land of Upe, a bull upon its boundary, the scene of the battles of every warrior. Pray teach me concerning the appearance(?) of Kin; acquaint me with Rehob; explain Beth-sha-el and Tereqel. The stream of Jordan, how is it crossed? -Kadesh: qdS, on the Orontes, see Battle of Kadesh
-Tekhes: txs
-Kurmeren: kwrmrn
-Temenet: tmnt
-Deper: dpr, town stormed by Ramses II.
-Idi: idi
-Herenem: hrnm
-Ideren: idrn
-Djedpet: Ddpt
-Kheneredj: xnrD
-Kin: qin
-Beth-sha-el: bitSir close to Rehob (rHb)
-Tereqel: trqAl
    Cause me to know the way of crossing over to Megiddo which is above it(??). Thou art a Maher skilled in the deeds of the brave! A Maher such as thou art is found (able) to march at the head of an army!
   O Mariannu, forward to shoot(?)! Behold the ///////// is in a ravine two thousand cubits deep, filled with boulders and pebbles. Thou drawest back(?), thou graspest the bow, thou dost //////. thy left hand, thou causest the great ones to look. Their eyes are good, thy hand grows weak(?).
Abdt km Ari mhr nam. Thou makest the name of every Maher, officers of the land of Egypt. Thy name becomes like (that of) Qedjerdi, the chief of Isser, when the hyena found him in the balsam-tree.
-Mariannu: semitic lords, noblemen
Amenemhab captured two maryannu at Kadesh under Thutmose III:
[He] captured [the city of] Kadesh; I was not absent from the place where he was; I brought off two men, lords (m-rA-j-nA), as living prisoners. I set them before the king. the Lord of the Two Lands, Thutmose (III), living forever.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, §585
-hyena: Beinlich: wild animal in Syria.
-Qedjerdi: qDrdi
-Isser: isr
- The(?) narrow defile is infested(?) with Shosu concealed beneath the bushes; some of them are of four cubits or of five cubits, from head(??) to foot(?), fierce of face, their heart is not mild, and they hearken not to coaxing. Thou art alone, there is no helper(?) with thee, no army behind thee. Thou findest no ///////// to make for thee a way of crossing. -Shosu: Shasu, bedouins
-cubit: half a metre
Thou decidest(?) (the matter) by marching onward, though thou knowest not the road. Shuddering(?) seizes thee, (the hair of) thy head stands up(?), thy soul is in thy hand. Thy path is filled with boulders and pebbles, without a passable track(??), overgrown with reeds and brambles, briers (?) and wolf's-pad. The ravine is on one side of thee, the mountain rises(?) on the other. On thou goest jolting(?), thy chariot on its side. Thou fearest to crush(?) thy horse. If it be thrown towards the abyss(?), thy collar-piece(?) is left bare(?), thy girth(?) falls. Thou unfastenest the horse so as to repair the collar-piece(?) at the top of the defile. Thou art not expert in the way of binding it together; thou knowest not how to tie(?) it. The ///////// is left where it is; the chariot is too heavy to bear the load of it(?). Thy heart is weary. Thou startest trotting(?). The sky is revealed. Thou fanciest that the enemy is behind thee; trembling seizes thee. Would that thou hadst a hedge of ///////// to put-upon the other side! The chariot is damaged(?) at the moment thou findest a camping-place(?). Thou perceivest the taste of pain! -chariot: cf. Chariots
    Thou hast entered Joppa, and findest the flowers blossoming in their season. Thou forcest a way in(?) ///////// Thou findest the fair maiden who keeps watch over the gardens. She takes thee to herself for a companion, and surrenders to thee her charms. -Joppa: Jaffa
    Thou art recognized, and bearest witness (against thyself[?]). Thou art dismissed(?) from (the rank of) Maher. Thy shirt of fine linen of Upper Egypt, thou sellest it. Tell me how(??) thou liest every night, with a piece of woollen cloth(?) over thee. Thou slumberest, for thou art worn out. A ///////// takes away thy bow, thy knife for the belt, and thy quiver. Thy reins have been cut in the darkness. Thy horse is gone and is speeding(??) over the slippery ground. The road stretches before it. It smashes thy cart and makes thy ////////////; thy weapons fall to the ground, and are buried(?) in the sand; they become desert(?). Thy //////, begs the ///////// thy mouth: Give (me) food and water, for I have arrived safely. They turn a deaf ear, they do not listen, they do not heed thy tales. Thou makest thy way into the armoury; workshops surround thee; smiths and leather-workers are all about thee. They do all that thou wishest. They attend to thy chariot, so that it may cease from lying idle. Thy pole is newly shaped(?), its ////// are adjusted. They give leather covering(?) to thy collar-piece(?) //////. They supply thy yoke. They adjust(?) thy ////// (worked) with the chisel(?) to(?) the ///////// They give a ///////// (of metal) to thy whip; they fasten [to] it lashes. Forth thou goest quickly to fight on the open field, to accomplish the deeds of the brave!

XX. The first stations on the Syrian high-road. End of the Controversy, Conclusion.

    Good sir, thou honoured scribe, Maher cunning of hand, at the head of in front of the army, [I will describe to] thee the [lands] of the extremity of the land of Canaan. Thou answerest me neither good nor evil; thou returnest me no report. Come I will tell thee [of many things(??)]; [turn(?)] thy face(?) [towards(?)] the fortress of the Ways of Horus. I begin for thee with the House of Sese. Thou hast never trodden it; thou hast not eaten the fish of (the waters of) /////////; thou hast not bathed in them. Come prithee let me recount to thee Hetchin; where is its fortress? Come let me tell thee about the district of Buto of Sese, In(?) his house of victories(?) of Usimare, Sebel and Ibesqeb. Let me describe to thee the manner of Ainen; thou knowest not its position. Nekhes and Heberet, thou hast never seen them since thy birth. -Canaan: Here tA n p knan, the Land of Canaan

-Ways of Horus: fortress on the road connecting north-eastern Egypt and southern Canaan.
-House of Sese: Piramesse
-Hetchin: HTin
-Sebel: sbAl
-Ibesqeb: ibsqb
-Ainen: ainn
-Nekhes: nxs
-Heberet: Hbrt
    O Mohar, where is Raphia? What is its wall like? How many leagues march is it to Gaza? Answer quickly! Render me a report, that I may call thee a Maher, that I may boast to others of thy name of Mariannu. So will I say to them(?). Thou art angry at the thing I [have] said to thee. I am experienced in every rank. My father taught me, he knew and instructed(??) (me) very often. I know how to hold the reins, beyond thy skill indeed! There is no brave man who can measure himself with me! I am initiated in the decrees(?) of Month.
    How marred is every (word) that cometh out over thy tongue! How feeble are thy sentences! Thou comest to me wrapt up in confusions, loaded with errors. Thou splittest words asunder, plunging ahead(?). Thou art not wearied of groping. Be strong! Forwards! Get thee along(?)! Thou dost not fall. What is it like not to know what one has reached? And how will it end? I retreat.
    Behold, I have arrived. Thy passion is soothed(??), thy heart is calm. Do not be angry /////////////// I curtail(?) for thee the end of thy letter, I answer(?) for thee what thou hast said. Thy narratives are collected upon my tongue, established upon my lips. They are confusing to hear; none who converses(?) (with thee) can unravel them. They are like the talk of a man of the Delta with a man of Elephantine.
    Nay, but thou art a scribe of the Great Gates, reporting the affairs of the lands, goodly and fair [to] him who sees it. Say not that I have made thy name stink before others(?). Behold, I have told thee the nature of the Maher; I have traversed for thee Retenu. I have marshalled before thee the foreign countries all at once, and the towns in their order. Attend(?) to me, and look at them calmly; (thus) thou shalt be found able to describe them, and shalt become a travelled(?) ////////////
Source: Alan H. Gardiner Egyptian Hieratic Texts - Series I: Literary Texts of the New Kingdom, Part I, Leipzig 1911
-Raphiah: Town a few kilometres south of Gaza.
-Gaza: town on the southern Canaanite coast, centre of Egyptian power in the Middle East, backed up by a garrison.


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February 2003
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