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Ancient Egyptian texts: Letter by Djehuti-mesu
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A letter by the scribe Djehuti-mesu concerning a joke and the reaction to it

//////////////////////// I pray daily to Amen-Re-Horakhte when he rises and when he sets. May you be given daily life-health-prosperity, a long and good life, many favours in the presence of Amen, your lord.
Further, I have heard that you are upset and that you have made my reputation despiccable by cursing for telling a joke, which I made concerning that letter by the tax-collector, but it was Henut-tawi who had told me: 'Tell a joke about the tax-collector concerning that letter.'
- pBN 198.II
Dated to the reign of Ramses XI
"You are like the case of the wife who was blind in one eye and lived in the house of a man for twenty years. When he found another one he said to her: 'I send you away, for-oh!-you are blind in one eye.'"—that is how its is told—"and she said to him: 'That is what you have noticed in the twenty years I have been in your house?'"
This is who I am, and this is the joke I have made. But if you say: "Unpleasant was (lit.touched) this, for then I am like a man of low standing and Nisu-Amen makes a joke about me and I (have to) put up with it. Shall I tolerate that from him, for I am an official. Only to one's elder brother would one say: "You are the one who is justified concerning me."
If I call your name to mind again and again, like someone who says 'You shall live', then you will quarrel. Behold! admit that one gave birth to you when I was in the house. Quote one damaging speech I have spoken before your father. You do not know the state of my heart, for it guards over you, abd it s my wish to call your ba to mind daily. If you were a vizier I would not descend to tour barge. Everyone who says 'You shall live' is silent when you reveal the insignificance of the rumour, which Iuef-an-Amen, your elder brother, has spread about ehat you are doing. And one will never again find slander (spread) behind my back (from) on who says: 'You shall live.'
May your health be good.

After a transliteration and German translation by I Hafemann
Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => aaew => Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften => Briefe => Briefe des Neuen Reiches => Verwaltung/Alltag => Briefe aus Theben => Briefwechsel des Djehuti-mesu => pBN 198.II => Brief des Djehuti-mesu

-someone who says 'You shall live': Hafemann: everyone


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© November 2007