Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: Great Abydos stela of Ramses IV
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Great Abydos stela of Ramses IV

1 /// of summer under the majesty of Horus, powerful bull, living by the truth, lord of feasts, like his father Ptah-Tanen; the two goddesses, protector of Egypt who subdues the nine bows; Golden Horus, rich in years, great in victories, the king who has created the gods and has caused the two lands to come into being; King of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the two lands, lord of offerings /// /// /// 2 [Heka]maat[re]; the son of Re, lord of crowns, like Horus of the horizon, Ramses, given life, like Re eternally. The king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the two lands, Hekamaatre, son of Re, lord of crowns, Ramses, given life like Re has said: "I was wise in my heart. My father, my lord //// 3 /// /// of Thoth who is in the House of Life; I have not neglected anyone among them to the point of not looking at them and of scrutinizing the great rather than the small among the gods and goddesses. I have found //// 4 /// among the whole Ennead. All your shapes (bis) are more mysterious than theirs. As to the days of which it is said that they had existed, before Nut had become pregnant with your beauty, one lived //// 5 among the gods as (among) the men, the beasts, the birds and those as well which live in the waters. You are Yah in the heavens and you get younger according to your will and you grow old when you want to.
6 Here you come forth to chase away darkness, anointed and clothed by the Ennead, and incantations are uttered to glorify their majesty and take their enemies to the place of their execution. Thus it is said.
- Open a new window with the hieroglyphic text.
-living by the truth: Maat was the divine truth and world order. The pharaoh was its defender on earth.
-Tanen: Tatenen, in Memphis the personification of the primordial hill which rose out of th waters.
-two goddesses: the protective goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nekhbet and Uto.
-the nine bows: the traditional enemies of the pharaoh, originally those living in Egypt itself, later foreigners.
-Ramses: Ramses IV Hekamaatre, ca 1166-1159 BCE
-House of Life: the abode of knowledge of which Thoth was the keeper.
-Ennead: The important gods of a location, not necessarily nine in number.
-Nut: the sky, giving daily birth to the sun.
Nut -Yah: Moon god, representing above all the physical aspect of the moon.
7 It is a written text and not an oral tradition, and the living count in order to know the day and the month to add the one to the other and know the span of their life.
Moreover you are the great Nile who spreads out at the season's beginning. Gods and men live off the flow [which emerges] from you. I have
8 found your majesty also as king of the Duat in this guise of //// in Egypt, you who is beneficent towards the evil enemy more than he who does it (?) in the land of the necropolis. You are the one who sends him when the deceased emerges, taken towards life at the gate of your town of Abydos in the Thinite nome.
-an oral tradition: lit. from mouth to mouth
-Duat: The realm of the dead was composed of Amenti and Duat. The stars were the denizens of the Duat.
-Abydos: important burial place since prehistoric times.
9 They announce the decree again by your great gates. The double Meskhenit is at your side: your designs are firmly established. Re rises every day and reaches the Duat to fulfill the destiny of this land and the (foreign) lands as well. You are seated like him. (You) both are called 10 "soul of Demdem". The majesty of Thoth is at your side to write down the orders which leave your mouth. As to all you are saying, you are a single mouth, and my orders of every day 11 are executed. You are high in the sky and majestical on the ground. Igert is permanent for eternity thanks to your plans. How divine you are, how wise you are! Who can compare himself to your majesty, may I speak his praise? You have distinguished yourself by yourself, 12 O my father, my lord! How I rejoice! It is certainly me who is devoted to you: I put you in my heart every day. Here I reveal my plans before your majesty and (before) the great council which is behind you. The truth resides in them 13 all and there is no untruth among them.
-Meskhenit: At Abydos Isis had four Meskhenet as servants. Meskhenet was present at births being the personification of the birth brick, into which Thoth inscribed the span of life (pRhind).
-truth: Maat - the divine order, justice etc.
I am a legitimate ruler, I did not usurp. I am in the place of him who has begotten me as the son of Isis. Since I have become king in the place of Horus, I have brought truth to this land which was without it.
14 I know that you suffer when it is absent in Egypt: I have established many offerings for your ka, I have increased those which had existed formerly every day. I have protected the servants of your city, I have protected your place, I have issued decrees to supply your temple with all kinds of treasures.
15 Truly, I have not repudiated my father, I have not rejected my mother, I have not blocked the Nile there where he flows; I have not approached the god /////// in his temple. I live by what the god loves on the day of his birth on the Isle of the Two Fires.
-I am a legitimate ruler, I did not usurp: Ramses III had been unsure about his son's chances of succeeding him. He prayed to Amen: Crown my son as king upon the throne of Atum, establish him as mighty bull, lord l.p.h, of the two shores, king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands: Usermare-Setepnamon...
Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, §246
-I have brought truth to this land which was without it: not very flattering for his predecessor, but a claim used by many pharaohs.
-Isle of the Two Fires: The horizon where the sun rises, the isle of Fire, was the place of birth of the sun god.
16 I have not started a quarrel against the god, I have not caused harm to the goddess, I have not broken the hatched (?) egg, I have not eaten that which I abhor, I have not stolen from the luckless that which belongs to him, I have not killed the weak one, I have not caught fish 17 in the pool of the god, I have not caught birds with a net, I have not shot a lion during the feast of Bastet; I have not sworn by Banebded in the temple of the gods, I have not uttered the name of Tatenen, I have not diminished his loaves of bread.
I have seen
18 Maat by the side of Re, I have offered her to her master. I have become familiar with Thoth through his writings the day one spits on his shoulder. I have not attacked a man in the position of his father: I know you abhor this. I have not cut the barley when it was short 19 (nor) the mAtt plant before it was counted (?).
O Osiris, I have lit the torch for you on the day of the wrapping of the mummy; I have chased Seth away from you when he was causing damage to your body, I have set up your son Horus as your successor.
-the pool of the god: temples, like the abodes of well-to-do mortals had ponds and gardens.
-Bastet: goddess in the shape of a feline.
-Banebded: Banebdjed, he-goat god (cult centre at Mendes), an aspect of Osiris.
20 O Horus, I spat on your eye after it had been removed by its attacker. I have given you the throne of your father Osiris and his inheritance over all the earth. I have caused your voice to triumph on judgment day. I have caused Egypt and the desert to serve you in as much as you are the substitute for Horus of the Horizon.
-his inheritance: after killing Osiris his brother Seth tried to gain power over Egypt (cf. The contendings of Horus and Seth)
-Horus of the Horizon: Harakhte, the morning sun. In the Pyramid Texts still separate from Re, merged with the sun god to Re-Harakhte. Often depicted as a human with a falcon's head.
21 O Isis and Nephthys, I have raised your heads for you, I have strengthened your necks for you in this night of cutting off the ///// of the serpents Saby before Letopolis. I have caused the voice of Horus to be triumphant on judgment day, I have put 22 your necklaces around your necks, your sistra in your fists, your sekhem-sistra behind you, your /// with you.
O Min, I have caused you to dress like a god, raised high on your pedestal. I have enveloped for you
23 your phallus in divine fabric. I have caused everybody to cover their faces when you are enjoying yourself during your beautiful feast.
O Iunmutef, I have caused those to respect you, who have a "secret face"
24 among the gods who are in the other world. Those who are in their primordial state come to you with their nourishment before your place among the Ennead.
-Letopolis: Khem, cult centre of Kherty (Isis) and Horus the Elder.
-Min: fertility god, depicted as a mummy with an erect phallus. His main feast was the Feast of Steps during which he was presented by the king with the first ear of corn of the season, cut by the king himself.
-Iunmutef: Inmutef, Immutef, supporter of the heavens. As "Pillar of his Mother" apparently a fertility deity, embodiment of the eldest son and thus involved in the offerings to the dead, merged with Horus to Horus Inmutef.
O Horus of the Horizon, I have toppled for you Apepi, I have caused your barque to sail 25 without foundering on this high ground of Apepi on his great journey.
O Anhur, I have put your tablet on your chest, your feathers on your head, your necklace around your neck. I have defended your body with my charms
26 and with the incantations of my mouth. I have chased away all impurity which was in your body.
O Sekhmet, I have given you your power among all the gods, great is your ire and great is the respect (for you) among mankind.
27 All the lands are in your power. I have enabled you to grasp in all the country according to your desire.
-Apepi: snake enemy of the sun. Seth, with whom he was later identified, was the only one who could hold him at bay.
-barque: cf. Solar Ships and Funerary Boats
-Anhur: Greek Onuris. Cult centre at Thinis. Returned the sun eye to Re. Merged with Shu from the New Kingdom on. His consort was the lion goddess Mehit. Depicted in human form wearing four feathers on his head and holding a spear. A hunting and war deity (Lord of Slaughter), he subdues enemies of Re, catching them with a rope.
-Sekhmet: cf. The Triad of Memphis
O Geb, I have placed the tablet on your neck, your two feathers on the head, the necklace around your neck. I have assured /// 28 the defense of your body by my charms and by the incantations of my mouth. I have chased away all impurity which was in your body.
O Thoth, I have given you your palette and I have filled your beaker for you with water.
29  I have let you judge the two fraternal men; I have chased away evil for you, I have increased your power; I have caused you to journey during the great storm.
-Geb: God of the earth, father of Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.
-Thoth: God of wisdom, cf. Thoth
-palette: writing palette
Scribes tools
Source: Louvre Museum, Paris
30 O Hathor, I have put the necklace around your neck, I have joined gold to your hand, great is (your) memory and great is the love for you in the body of your beautiful golden Horus, your husband whom you love, O Hathor, my mistress!
31 Behold, the son is just when he is good to his father, when he gives him slaves in excess. Behold, I have not left the good behind my hand in order not to do it to your ka with a loving heart. As to my destiny's gain 32 for the fact of my devotion, (here it is:) my kingship is long on earth, and the land is at peace, the Niles give all kinds of provisions and gifts. My body has become vigorous, my eye shining, my heart happy every day. I have overcome 33 the rebels, subduing them on my path; that their breath is enclosed in my fist, that I make their nose breathe (according) to my will as you have done! That which is united by the sun be under my rule!
-Hathor: Goddess of love and music, cf. Hathor
34 I offer this to your ka (as it is) you who has created it. May you be my protection every day, and may all evil which comes near (?) the place where I am be driven away! May you be in the following with my children! May they be the masters in 35 this land. May they be strong exactly (bis) like Shu and Tefnut, pass my great fulfilling of official functions to my heirs, (because) the abomination of your majesties are the rebels.
36 May the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Hekamaatre live, son of Re, lord of crowns like his father Re who is great of royalty like Horus son of Isis, Ramses, given life. He has made this as a monument for his father Osiris Khentiamentiu, the great god, lord of eternity. May he be given life.
-Shu and Tefnut: the god of the air and the goddess of moisture. Shu was originally the breath of the creator god Atem. He embodied the life force and was identified with the sun. He supported the heavens, his daughter Nut who, together with her brother-consort Geb gave birth to Osiris and his brother and sisters.
-rebels: Rebellion was the most heinous crime, as it opposed Maat, the divine order.
-Khentiamentiu: "Foremost of the Westerners", jackal-headed god of the dead at Abydos, identified with Osiris.
1 Adoration of Osiris, to [satis]fy his ka, [by] the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the two lands, Heka[maat]re, son of Re, lord of crowns, Ramses given life. Greetings to you, sovereign of Igert, Wennefer, the king of eter[nity]. I have found the majesty /// of divine words in all great and important adorations which Horus has made for you, when he was with Thoth, satisfying your ka in order to reaffirm your power 2 among the Ennead, saying: "They do not know your name, they have no fear for you who is floating in the days //////"
Thus have I thought in [my] divine heart establishing the designs to strengthen my kingship during the great duration (of life). The lands are at peace without revolt. I have conferred favours of every kind on your temple which kings having lived [in] my stead have not done. I have satisfied your heart, O great lord ///: give that the good be before you, thanks to my devotion to you. Listen for my sake to my prayer, I am your son ///.
Inscription on the right side
-ka: cf. Body and Soul.
-Wennefer: Wennofer etc. "The Perfect One" or the "Eternally Good One", name for Osiris when he introduced the cultivation of agriculture and viniculture.
1 Adoration of Re when he rises by the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of the two lands Hekamaatre, son of Re, lord of crowns, Ramses, given life. Adoration of you who has created the Ennead //// traversing the sky, you cross the sky, you steer towards the Duat, the enemies have fallen in their place of destruction; 2 [your ship] is in joy, the Isle of the Two Fires is at peace. Open your [ears], so that you can hear what I am saying, to wit: May I be rejuvenated at all time. I am your servant who is faithful to you, I am a servant of the town of Sais, king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Hekamaatre, son of Re, Ramses, given life. Inscription on the left side
-you steer towards the Duat: In the evening the sun, setting in the west, entered the underworld, and crossing it reached the east in the morning where it re-appeared in the Isle of Fire.
-your ship: the solar barque
-rejuvenated: The pharaohs had special rejuvenation feasts, the Heb Sed.

After Mikhaïl Korostovtsev Stèle de Ramsès IV, Bulletin de l'institut français d'archéologie orientale BIFAO 45 (1947), p.155-173 [1]


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-[1] Mikhaïl Korostovtsev Stèle de Ramsès IV, pdf file

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