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Ancient Egyptian texts: To the wise spirit of Onkhari
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To the wise spirit of Onkhari

What offence have I committed against thee that I must come to this the evil condition which I am in? What offence have I committed against thee that thou must help against me? For, since I became a husband to thee, until to-day, what I have done to thee that I kept secret? What am I to do, when I shall have to give my evidence [as to] what I have done to thee, when I shall stand with [thee] before [the judge,] in words of my mouth [directed] to the cycle of the gods of Ament, and thou shalt be judged through this writing viz., [through] the words of my complaint against what thou hast done, what wilt thou do?
When [thou] becamest my wife, I was a young man, I was with [thee]. I was promoted to offices of every kind, [and] I was with [thee], I never deserted [thee], I never caused any grief to thy heart I acted thus when I was a young man; when I was promoted to every great dignity of Pharaoh, l.p.h., I did not desert thee, saying; "Let this be thine in common with me!" And whereas everybody who came to me saw me in thy presence, I never received anybody before knowing whether thou wouldst have anything to say to it, saying; "I will act according to thy heart."
- Dated to the end of the New Kingdom or the 3rd Intermediate Period
 
-Onkhari: Wente [1]: Ankhiry
-What offence have I committed against thee...: If the dead were not satisfied in the Afterlife they could return to haunt the living, causing them harm. (Cf. Charm for the protection of a child. Wente translates: What have I done against you wrongfully for you to get into this evil disposition in which you are?
-evil condition which I am in: Diseases were caused by spirits and counteracted by magic of which medicines were just a part.
-What offence have I committed....: Wente: What have I done against you? As for what you have done, it is your laying hands on me even though I committed no wrong against you.
-that I kept secret: Wente:that I should have to conceal it?
-what I have done to thee ...: Wente: what you have done , it is the reason for my laying a plaint against you
-Ament: The West. Just as this world was divided into two parts (Upper and Lower Egypt), the realm of the Dead was dual as well: Amenti and Duat, as was paradise: Sekht-Hotep and Sekht-Jaru.
-what wilt thou do: Wente: what have I done against you
-promoted to offices of every kind: A successful Egyptian scribe had to be able to fill all kinds of positions, be they civil, religious or military in nature. Wente: I was functioning in every office
-deserted: Wente: divorced
-Let this be thine in common with me: Wente: She has got to be with me
And now, behold, thou hast not gladdened my heart, and I must plead against thee, and people shall see the false from the true. For behold, I commanded the captains of the bowmen of Pharaoh, l.p.h., also of his charioteers, and I, when they came to lie on their belly before thee, if there was, in what they brought, something good, I put it before [thee], I never hid anything for myself ////// I never shewed myself offensive to thy feelings in whatever I did to thee in the way of a master; I never was found being rude to thee in the way of a clown who enters another's house, I never took any account of what thou didst [to] me. -I must plead against thee: by tying this note to a statue representing the deceased who would be judged in the light of it.
-I never was found being rude to thee: Wente: nor did you find me cheating on you
-clown: Wente: fieldhand
-I never took any account of what thou didst [to] me: Wente: I did not let an upbraider find fault with me [in] anything I did with you
When I was put into the place which I am, when I came to know no more [what it was] to go out as was my wont [before], and to do what I had to do as one who is a recluse, when my oil, also my bread, also my clothes were brought me, I never put [thee] in another place, saying: "What would become of the woman;" and I never was rude to thee, and behold, thou didst not recognize the good I did thee, and I ////// of the things which thou didst.
And when thou didst sicken of the sickness which thou hadst, I went to the chief physician, and he prescribed, and he did what thou toldest him to do. And when I went to follow Pharaoh l.p.h. to the South, whereas my wont was to be reunited with thee, while I made my stay of eight months, I never ate, never drank in the way of a man.
-my oil, also my bread, also my clothes were brought me: Wente: your oil, your bread, your clothes; and they would be brought to you
-[thee] in another place: Wente: them elsewhere
-What would become of the woman: Wente: The woman is still with me
-rude to thee: Wente: cheat on you
-//////: Wente: am writing [you] to make you aware
-thou didst: Wente: you are doing
-eight: Wente: several
And when I reached Memphis, I asked leave from Pharaoh l.p.h, and I did what they were doing to thee, I wept extremely with my people in front of my dwelling, I gave clothes and linen for thy embalming, and I caused many clothes to be made, and there was nothing good I did not cause to be done for thee. And behold, I passed, three years ////// and I never entered. the house, and I used not to cause that to be done which was ordinary, and behold, I acted thus because of thee! And behold, I do not know any more good from evil, and thou shalt be judged with me! And behold, as long as the lamentations lasted in the house, I never went in to Pharaoh l.p.h. //////

G. Maspero, The Papyrus, I. 371, of Leyden
S.Birch, ed., Records of the Past, Series I, Vol.12, 1881

-I did what they were doing to thee: cf. On Mourning and Burial. Wente: and [came] to where you were
-thou shalt be judged with me: cf. Judgment of the Dead. Wente: One will judge between you and me
-as long as the lamentations lasted in the house, I never went in to Pharaoh l.p.h. //////: Wente: as for those sisters in the household, I have never entered into a one of them (sexually)

 


[1] E. S. Meltzer ed., Letters from Ancient Egypt, translated by E. F. Wente, Vol.1, Scholars Press Atlanta, pp. 216f.

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