Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: The biography of Tefibi
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The biography of Tefibi

O ye living! O ye who are upon earth, children who shall be born; those who shall sail down-stream, those who shall sail up-stream, those who shall come in the following of Upwawet, lord ot Siut, those who shall pass by this bend, those who shall enter into this tomb, those who shall see that which is in it; as Upwawet, lord of Siut and Anubis, lord of the [cave (?)] live for you, ye shall pray for the mortuary offering for the prince Tefibi. Tefibi was the nomarch at Lycopolis (Siut) possibly during the reign of Wahkare Akhtoy III (Kheti III) of the 10th Heracleopolitan dynasty, whom he supported against attacks of the Theban nomarchs. King Wahkare succeeded in bringing some order to Egypt. He is thought by some to have composed the Instruction for his son Merikare.
-mortuary offering: perpetual offerings were necessary for eternal life.
The hereditary prince, count, wearer of the royal seal, sole companion, superior prophet of Upwawet, lord of Siut, Tefibi (tf-jbj), says: ///////// Hearken to me, ye who are to come. I was openhanded to everyone, ////////, I was one ot excellent plans, one useful to his city, one [///] of face toward a petition, /////// [/// /// ///] one of open face to the widow......... I was a Nile /////// for his people. ................ When night came, he who slept on the road gave me praise, for he was like a man in his house: the fear of my soldier was his protection. .......... -I was a Nile: Breasted: Amenhotep IV calls himself a Nile for his people.
-fear of my soldier was his protection: In the absence of an effective central authority it was up to the nomarchs to provide security for the inhabitants of their nomes.
Then came my son in my place, the officials were [under (?)] his [authority (?)]. He ruled as a child of a cubit (high); the city rejoiced over him, she remembered the good. Because, any noble who shall do good to the people, who shall surpass the virtue of him that begot him, he shall be /// blessed in the hereafter, his son shall abide in his father's house, his memory shall be pleasant in the city, his statue shall be glorified and [carried (?)] by the children of his house. -cubit: about half a metre. According to this his son Kheti (alt. Akhtoy) was just a baby when he became nomarch. Claims like these were frequently made. Ramses II for instance claimed in the Great Abydos Inscription that the All-Lord ... gave to me the land while I was in the egg.
-the good: the good Tefibi had done.
-shall do good to the people: during the first IP and the MK good deeds were the best justification a ruler could have before the gods, cf. the autobiography of Ankhtifi, the inscription of Kheti, son of Sit, possibly a descendant of Tefibi, or the Instruction of Merikare rather than (or perhaps more correctly: an important addition to) the service of the king during the Old or that of the gods during the New Kingdom.
The first time that my soldiers fought with the southern nomes, which came together southward as far as Elephantine and northward as far as /////////, [they smote them (?)] as far as the southern boundary. ///////// the west side. When I came to the city, I overthrew [the foe (?)] //////// I drove him as far as the fortress of the port of the South. He gave to me land, while I did not restore his town /////////// I reached the east side, sailing up-stream; [there came (?)] another, like a jackal ////////// with another army from his confederacy. I went out against him with one ///. There was no fear ///////// He hastened to battle like the [light (?)]; the Lycopolite nome /// like a bull going forth //////// forever. I ceased not to fight [to the end making use of the south wind (?)] as well as the north wind, of the east wind as well as [of the west wind]. //////// He fell in the water, his ships ran aground, his army were like bulls, ///////// [when attacked by wild beasts, and running (?)] with tails to the front. [/// ///] /// /// /// fire was put //////// [/// /// /// ///] I drove out rebellion by ///, by the plan of Upwawet, /////// of a mighty bull. When a man did well, [I placed] him at the head of my soldiers //////// for his lord. ............ /////// Heracleopolis. The land was under the fear of my soldiers; no highland was free from fear. If he made //////// fire in the southern nomes. He did it as an affair of his land, to equip ///////
The temples were made to flourish, offerings were made to the gods; the wicked saw it, //////// he put not eternity before him, he looked not to the future, he saw evil ///////// .......
Source: J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part One, § 393ff.
The domain of the Heracleopolitan kings at this time extended almost as far as Abydos.
-port of the South: in the nome of Abydos. The Thebans referred to it as door to the North.
-When a man did well, [I placed] him at the head of my soldiers: an attitude not to be taken for granted. The influence birth had (and still has) on being awarded leading positions in hierarchies often overshadowed the more rational meritocratic principle of advancing the best and brightest. Still, there are quite a number of examples of ability recognized by the authorities, e.g the biography of Weni.
-no highland was free from fear: the main security concerns of Tefibi were the incursions of the agressive Theban princes, but throughout history the dwellers along the river had to be on their guard against anybody (generally nomadic tribes) attacking from the higher lying regions on either side of the Nile valley.


James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part One, 1905
James H. Breasted, History of Egypt from the Earliest Time to the Persian Conquest, 1909
Aylward M. Blackman, Luxor & Its Temples , 1923
Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs: An Introduction, 1966
Nicholas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, 1992
Michael Rice, Who's Who in Ancient Egypt, 1999
I.E.S. Edwards, C.J. Gadd, and N.G.L. Hammond eds. Cambridge Ancient History, Cambridge University Press, 2000

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