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Ancient Egypt: King Neferkare and General Sasenet
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King Neferkare and General Sasenet

Fragment, tOIC 13539

(Once upon a time it happened that his majesty the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Nefer)-ka-Re, son of Re, true of voice, was the [benevolent] king [in this whole land]. Further there was the hereditary prince (and) /// of his majesty, (the) ///, named Ity. [/// /// ///] love [///] general Sasenet without there being a wife [in his house].
[Now] general Sasenet [set out on a walk] in order to amuse himself. [///////] the son of Re Teti as true of voice ....


Dated stylistically to the 18th or 19th dynasty or to the 25th, belonging to the archaizing literature of that period [2].
One should always bear in mind that this is a tale and not a historical record. There is no shred of evidence that any occurrence in this story is not fictitious.
-Nefer-ka-Re: Pepi I

pChassinat I = pLouvre E 25351

..... general Sa[senet]. He discussed [//////] his majesty, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Nefer-ka-[Re]. Then general Sasenet went [/////] the great [///], the supervisor of the musicians(?) of the king, the chief domain supervisor, the chamberlain, [//////] the king's scribe, bearer of the writing tablet of the king's scribe, the overseer of fields, [//////] the [courtiers (?)] of the resi[dence] and the [members of council (?)] of Memphis, without [//////] Memphis.
Meanwhile the [petitioner (?)] from Memphis reached the [overseer of the gatehouse (?)]. He ///// with the singing of the singers, with the music of the musicians, with the jubilations of the jubilators, until the petitioner left Memphis because of their [///]. [They] ceased [//////]. As the petitioner came from Memphis in order to speak to the overseer of the gatehouse, he caused (?) the singers to sing, the musicians to make music, the jubilators to jubilate and the rejoicers to rejoice, until the petitioner left Memphis without them having heard him, when they ceased disputing against him. Weeping strongly the petitioner left Memphis, his hair [being] ///////////////
Then he (someone called Tjeti) noticed (?) his majesty the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Nefer-ka-Re, who had set out by himself on a walk without there being any person with him. Tjeti retreated before the king without letting him see him. Tjeti, son of Henet, stood still thinking as follows: 'If it is so, then the rumours about him going out at night are true.'
-overseer of the gatehouse: judge at the court of justice situated by a temple entrance.
Then Tjeti, son of Henet, followed this god, without letting his heart put blame on him, in order to observe every one of his (i.e. the king's) deeds. Then he reached the house of the general Sasenet. He threw a brick after stamping with his foot. Then a ladder was lowered to him (and) he climbed up. -god: i.e. the pharaoh, often referred to as the "Good God". (cf. The pharaoh - man, ruler and god.)
-without letting his heart put blame on him: without having a bad conscience.
Meanwhile Tjeti, son of Henet, waited until his majesty went away. After his majesty had done that which he had wanted to do with him (i.e. the general), he left for his palace, Tjeti behind him. Only after his majesty had reached the Great House, life, prosperity, health, Tjeti went home.
Concerning the walk of his majesty to the house of the general Sasenet it should be noted that four hours of the night passed. He had spent a further four hours in the house of general Sasenet. (And) when he entered the Great House four hours were left until dawn.
-Great House: pr-aA, the palace, whence the later title of Pharaoh was derived (cf. The pharaoh - man, ruler and god.)
-four hours: the night was divided into 12 hours. Of course Tjeti had no means for measuring time, though he may have estimated it based on observations of the stars, for which he had ample time.
It has been suggested that this is a satirical reference to the nightly union of the sun god Re and Osiris, which also took place during the darkest hours of the night [1].
(From) now (on) Tjeti, son of Henet, followed him every night, without letting his heart blame him. (And) only after his majesty [the king] had entered [the Great House, Tjeti returned home....]

Source: After the transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften => 1. Erzählungen => König Neferkare und General Sasenet

[1] Jacobus van Dijk, The Nocturnal Wanderings of King Neferkare, in: Hommages Leclant. 4, 387-393
[2] Robert Steven Bianchi, Daily Life of the Nubians, Greenwood Press 2004, p.164


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