Ancient Egypt: The Ikhernofret Stela
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The Ikhernofret Stela
Live the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khekure, who is given life forever and ever.
Royal command to the hereditary prince, count, ..., wearer of the royal seal, sole companion, lord of the double gold-house, lord of the double-silver house, chief treasurer, Ikhernofret, revered:
Stela Berlin 1204
Khekure: Senusret III (1878-1841 BCE)
During his reign a number of campaigns into Nubia extended Egypt's borders.
"My majesty commands that thou shalt be sent up-river to Abydos, to make monuments for my father Osiris, First of the Westerners, to adorn his secret place with the gold which he caused my majesty to bring from Upper Nubia in victory and triumph. Lo, thou shalt do this in ... ... for offering, in satisfying my father Osiris, since my majesty sendeth thee, my heart being certain of thy doing everything according to the desire of my majesty; since thou hast been brought up in the teaching of my majesty, and the sole teaching of my palace. My majesty appointed thee ..., while thou wast a young man of 26 years. My majesty has done this, (because) I have seen to be one excellent in character, ready of tongue on coming forth from the body, and sufficient in speech. My majesty [sendeth] thee to do this, (since) my [majesty] has recognized that no one doing it possesses thy good qualities. Quickly go thou, and do thou according to all that my majesty has commanded."
I did according to all that his majesty commanded, by
adorning all that my lord commanded for his father, Osiris, First of the
Westerners, lord of Abydos, great, mighty one residing in Thinis.
I acted as "Son, Whom He Loves," for Osiris, First of the Westerners, I adorned the great ... forever and ever. I made for him a portable shrine, the "Bearer-of-Beauty" of the "First-of-the- Westerners," of gold, silver, lazuli, fragrant woods, carob wood, and meru wood, (I) fashioned the gods belonging to his divine ennead, (I) made their shrines anew.
I caused the lay priests to [know how] to do their duties, (I)
caused them to know the stipulation of every day, the feasts of the
beginnings of the seasons. I superintended the work on the sacred
barque (nSm[.t]), I fashioned (its) chapel. I decked the body
of the lord of Abydos with lazuli and malachite, electrum, and every
costly stone, among the ornaments of the limbs of a god. I dressed
the god in his regalia by virtue of my office as master of
secret things, and of my duty as (wtb-)priest. I was pure-handed
in decking the god, a (sm-) priest of clean fingers.
I celebrated the (feast of) "Going forth" of Upwawet, when he proceeded to champion his father.
I repelled the foe from the sacred barque (nSm.t), I overthrew the enemies of Osiris.
I celebrated the "Great-Going-Forth," following the god at his going.
I sailed the divine boat of Thoth upon ... ....
I equipped the barque (called): "Shining-in-Truth" of the lord of Abydos, with a chapel.
(I) put on his regalia when he went forth to ... Peker; I led the way of the god to his tomb before Peker;
I championed Wennofer at "That Day of the Great Conflict;" I slew all the enemies upon the [flats] of Nedyt.
I conveyed him into the barque (called): "The Great," when it bore his beauty;
I gladdened the heart of the eastern highlands; I ...ed the rejoicing in the western highlands.
When they saw the beauty of the sacred barge, as it landed at Abydos, they brought [Osiris, First of the Westerners, lord] of Abydos to his palace, and I followed the god into his house, to attend to his ..., when he [resumed] his seat. I loosed the knot in the midst of ... ... ... ... ... his [attendants], among his courtiers.
Source: James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt Part One,§§ 663ff.
Description of the Osiris Mysteries at Abydos
This description shows that some public rituals had at times dramatic contents, generally re-enactments of a god's struggle for survival. These may be called a passion plays.
The first part describes the preparations, the second part the "going-forth" of Upuaut, the appearance of the statue of the god, its progress through the world and return to its shrine.
It appears that the spectators took an active part in these re-enactments and, if Juvenal is to be believed, performed the roles of extras they were assigned with great enthusiasm.
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