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´╗┐Title: Egyptian Tales, Translated from the Papyri - Second series, XVIIIth to XIXth dynasty
Author: Petrie, W. M. Flinders (William Matthew Flinders), 1853-1942
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Egyptian Tales, Translated from the Papyri - Second series, XVIIIth to XIXth dynasty" ***

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HON. D.C.L., LL.D.




_First Published . . . September 1895
Second Edition . . . February 1913_


As the scope of the first series of these Tales seems to have been
somewhat overlooked, a few words of introduction may not be out of place
before this second volume.

It seems that any simple form of fiction is supposed to be a "fairy
tale:" which implies that it has to do with an impossible world of
imaginary beings. Now the Egyptian Tales are exactly the opposite of
this, they relate the doings and the thoughts of men and women who are
human--sometimes "very human," as Mr. Balfour said. Whatever there is of
supernatural elements is a very part of the beliefs and motives of the
people whose lives are here pictured. But most of what is here might
happen in some corner of our own country to-day, where ancient beliefs
may have a home. So far, then, from being fairy tales there is not a
single being that could be termed a fairy in the whole of them.

Another notion that seems to be about is that the only possible object
of reading any form of fiction is for pure amusement, to fill an idle
hour and be forgotten and if these tales are not as amusing as some
jester of to-day, then the idler says, Away with them as a failure! For
such a person, who only looks to have the tedium of a vacuous mind
relieved, these tales are not in the least intended. But the real and
genuine charm of all fiction is that of enabling the reader to place
himself in the mental position of, another, to see with the eyes, to
feel with the thoughts, to reason with the mind, of a wholly different
being. All the greatest work has this charm. It may be to place the reader
in new mental positions, or in a different level of the society that he
already knows, either higher or lower; or it may be to make alive to him
a society of a different land or age. Whether he read "Treasure Island"
or "Plain Tales from the Hills," "The Scarlet Letter," "Old Mortality,"
or "Hypatia," it is the transplanting of the reader into a new life, the
doubling of his mental experience, that is the very power of fiction.
The same interest attaches to these tales. In place of regarding
Egyptians only as the builders of pyramids and the makers of mummies, we
here see the men and women as they lived, their passions, their foibles,
their beliefs, and their follies. The old refugee Sanehat craving to be
buried with his ancestors in the blessed land, the enterprise and
success of the Doomed Prince, the sweetness of Bata, the misfortunes of
Ahura, these all live before us, and we can for a brief half hour share
the feelings and see with the eyes of those who ruled the world when it
was young. This is the real value of these tales, and the power which
still belongs to the oldest literature in the world.

Erratum in First Edition, 1st Series. Page 31, line 6 from below, _for_
no It _read_ not I.













There was once in the time of King Men-kheper-ra a revolt of the
servants of his majesty who were in Joppa; and his majesty said, "Let
Tahutia go with his footmen and destroy this wicked Foe in Joppa." And
he called one of his followers, and said moreover, "Hide thou my great
cane, which works wonders, in the baggage of Tahutia that my power may
go with him."

Now when Tahutia came near to Joppa, with all the footmen of Pharaoh, he
sent unto the Foe in Joppa, and said, "Behold now his majesty, King
Men-kheper-ra, has sent all this great army against thee; but what is
that if my heart is as thy heart? Do thou come, and let us talk in the
field, and see each other face to face." So Tahutia came with certain of
his men; and the Foe in Joppa came likewise, but his charioteer that was
with him was true of heart unto the king of Egypt. And they spoke with
one another in his great tent, which Tahutia had placed far off from the
soldiers. But Tahutia had made ready two hundred sacks, with cords and
fetters, and had made a great sack of skins with bronze fetters, and
many baskets: and they were in his tent, the sacks and the baskets, and
he had placed them as the forage for the horses is put in baskets. For
whilst the Foe in Joppa drank with Tahutia, the people who were with him
drank with the footmen of Pharaoh, and made merry with them. And when
their bout of drinking was past, Tahutia said to the Foe in Joppa, "If
it please thee, while I remain with the women and children of thy own
city, let one bring of my people with their horses, that they may give
them provender, or let one of the Apuro run to fetch them." So they
came, and hobbled their horses, and gave them provender, and one found
the great cane of Men-kheper-ra (Tahutmes III.), and came to tell of it
to Tahutia. And thereupon the Foe in Joppa said to Tahutia, "My heart is
set on examining the great cane of Men-kheper-ra, which is named '. . .
tautnefer.' By the _ka_ of the King Men-kheper-ra it will be in thy
hands to-day; now do thou well and bring thou it to me." And Tahutia did
thus, and he brought the cane of King Men-kheper-ra. And he laid hold on
the Foe in Joppa by his garment, and he arose and stood up, and said,
"Look on me, O Foe in Joppa; here is the great cane of King
Men-kheper-ra, the terrible lion, the son of Sekhet, to whom Amen his
father gives power and strength." And he raised his hand and struck the
forehead of the Foe in Joppa, and he fell helpless before him. He put
him in the sack of skins and he bound with gyves the hands of the Foe in
Joppa, and put on his feet the fetters with four rings. And he made them
bring the two hundred sacks which he had cleaned, and made to enter into
them two hundred soldiers, and filled the hollows with cords and fetters
of wood, he sealed them with a seal, and added to them their rope-nets
and the poles to bear them. And he put every strong footman to bear
them, in all six hundred men, and said to them, "When you come
into the town you shall open your burdens, you shall seize on all the
inhabitants of the town, and you shall quickly put fetters upon them."

Then one went out and said unto the charioteer of the Foe in Joppa, "Thy
master is fallen; go, say to thy mistress, 'A pleasant message! For
Sutekh has given Tahutia to us, with his wife and his children; behold
the beginning of their tribute,' that she may comprehend the two hundred
sacks, which are full of men and cords and fetters." So he went before
them to please the heart of his mistress, saying, "We have laid hands on
Tahutia." Then the gates of the city were opened before the footmen:
they entered the city, they opened their burdens, they laid hands on
them of the city, both small and great, they put on them the cords and
fetters quickly; the power of Pharaoh seized upon that city. After he
had rested Tahutia sent a message to Egypt to the King Men-kheper-ra his
lord, saying, "Be pleased, for Amen thy good father has given to thee
the Foe in Joppa, together with all his people, likewise also his city.
Send, therefore, people to take them as captives that thou mayest fill
the house of thy father Amen Ra, king of the gods, with men-servants and
maid-servants, and that they may be overthrown beneath thy feet for ever
and ever."


This tale of the taking of Joppa appears to be probably on an historical
basis. Tahutia was a well-known officer of Tahutmes III.; and the
splendid embossed dish of weighty gold which the king presented to him
is one of the principal treasures of the Louvre museum. It is ornamented
with groups of fish in the flat bottom, and a long inscription around
the side.

Unfortunately the earlier part of this tale has been lost; but in order
to render it intelligible I have restored an opening to it, without
introducing any details but what are alluded to, or necessitated, by the
existing story. The original text begins at the star.

It is evident that the basis of the tale is the stratagem of the
Egyptian general, offering to make friends with the rebel of Joppa,
while he sought to trap him. To a Western soldier such an unblushing
offer of being treacherous to his master the king would be enough to
make the good faith of his proposals to the enemy very doubtful. But in
the East offers of wholesale desertion are not rare. In Greek history it
was quite an open question whether Athens or Persia would retain a
general's service; in Byzantine history a commander might be in favour
with the Khalif one year and with the Autokrator the next; and in the
present century the entire transfer of the Turkish fleet to Mohammed Ali
in 1840 is a grand instance of such a case.

The scheme of taking a fortress by means of smuggling in soldiers hidden
in packages has often recurred in history; but this taking of Joppa is
the oldest tale of the kind yet known. Following this we have the wooden
horse of Troy. Then comes in mediaeval times the Arab scheme for taking
Edessa, in 1038 A.D., by a train of five hundred camels bearing presents
for the Autokrator at Constantinople. The governor of Edessa declined to
admit such travellers, and a bystander, hearing some talking in the
baskets slung on the camels, soon gave the alarm, which led to the
destruction of the whole party; the chief alone, less hands, ears, and
nose, being left to take the tale back to Bagdad. And in fiction there
are the stories of a lady avenging her husband by introducing men hidden
in skins, and the best known version of all in the "Arabian Nights," of
Ali Baba and the thieves.

It appears from the tale that the conference of Tahutia with the rebel
took place between the town and the Egyptian army, but near the town.
Then Tahutia proposes to go into the town as a pledge of his sincerity,
while the men of the town were to supply his troops with fodder. But he
appears to have remained talking with the rebel in the tent, until the
lucky chance of the stick turned up. This cleared the way for a neater
management of his plan, by enabling him to quietly make away with the
chief, without exciting his suspicions beforehand.

The name of the cane of the king is partly illegible; but we know how
many actual sticks and personal objects have their own names inscribed
on them. Nothing had a real entity to the Egyptian mind without an
individual name belonging to it.

The message sent by the charioteer presupposes that he was in the
secret; and he must therefore have been an Egyptian who had not heartily
joined in the rebellion. From the conclusion we see that the captives
taken as slaves to Egypt were by no means only prisoners of war, but
were the ordinary civil inhabitants of the conquered cities, "them of
the city, both small and great."

The gold dish which the king gave to the tomb of Tahuti is so splendid
that it deserves some notice, especially as it has never been published
in England. It is circular, about seven inches across, with vertical
sides an inch high. The inside of the bottom bears a boss and rosette in
the centre, a line of swimming fish around that, and beyond all a chain
of lotus flowers. On the upright edge is an incised inscription, "Given
in praise by the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, _Ra-men-kheper,_ to the
hereditary chief, the divine father, the beloved by God, filling the
heart of the king in all foreign lands and in the isles in the midst of
the great sea, filling stores with lazuli, electrum, and gold, keeper of
all foreign lands, keeper of the troops, praised by the good gold lord
of both lands and his _ka,--_the royal scribe Tahuti deceased." This
splendid piece of gold work was therefore given in honour of Tahuti at
his funeral, to be placed in his tomb for the use of his _ka._ The
weight of it is very nearly a troy pound, being 5,729 grains or four
utens. The allusion on it to the Mediterranean wars of Tahuti,
"satisfying the king in all foreign lands and in the isles in the midst
of the great sea," is just in accord with this tale of the conquest of

Beside this golden bowl there are many other objects from Tahuti's tomb
which must have been very rich, and have escaped plundering until this
century. A silver dish, broken, and a canopic jar of alabaster, are in
Paris; another canopic jar, a palette, a kohl vase, and a heart scarab
set in gold, are in Leyden; while in Darmstadt is the dagger of this
great general. This piece of a popular tale founded on an incident of
his Syrian wars has curiously survived, while the more solid official
records of his conquests has perished in the wreck of history. His tomb
even is unknown, although it has been plundered; perhaps his active life
of foreign service did not give him that leisure to carve and decorate
it, which was so laboriously spent by the home-living dignitaries of



There once was a king to whom no son was born; and his heart was
grieved, and he prayed for himself unto the gods around him for a child.
They decreed that one should be born to him. And his wife, after her
time was fulfilled, brought forth a son. Then came the Hathors to decree
for him a destiny; they said, "His death is to be by the crocodile, or
by the serpent, or by the dog." Then the people who stood by heard this,
and they went to tell it to his majesty. Then his majesty's heart
sickened very greatly. And his majesty caused a house to be built upon
the desert; it was furnished with people and with all good things of the
royal house, that the child should not go abroad. And when the child was
grown, he went up upon the roof, and he saw a dog; it was following a
man who was walking on the road. He spoke to his page, who was with him,
"What is this that walks behind the man who is coming along the road?"
He answered him, "This is a dog." The child said to him, "Let there be
brought to me one like it." The page went to repeat it to his majesty.
And his majesty said, "Let there be brought to him a little pet dog,
lest his heart be sad." And behold they brought to him the dog.

Then when the days increased after this, and when the child became grown
in all his limbs, he sent a message to his father saying, "Come,
wherefore am I kept here? Inasmuch as I am fated to three evil fates,
let me follow my desire. Let God do what is in His heart." They agreed
to all he said, and gave him all sorts of arms, and also his dog to
follow him, and they took him to the east country, and said to him,
"Behold, go thou whither thou wilt." His dog was with him, and he went
northward, following his heart in the desert, while he lived on all the
best of the game of the desert. He went to the chief of Naha-raina.

And behold there had not been any born to the chief of Naharaina, except
one daughter. Behold, there had been built for her a house; its seventy
windows were seventy cubits from the ground. And the chief caused to be
brought all the sons of the chiefs of the land of Khalu, and said to
them, "He who reaches the window of my daughter, she shall be to him for
a wife."

And many days after these things, as they were in their daily task, the
youth rode by the place where they were. They took the youth to their
house, they bathed him, they gave provender to his horses, they brought
all kinds of things for the youth, they perfumed him, they anointed his
feet, they gave him portions of their own food; and they spake to him,
"Whence comest thou, goodly youth?" He said to them, "I am son of an
officer of the land of Egypt; my mother is dead, and my father has taken
another wife. And when she bore children, she grew to hate me, and I
have come as a fugitive from before her." And they embraced him, and
kissed him.

And after many days were passed, he said to the youths, "What is it that
ye do here?" And they said to him, "We spend our time in this: we climb
up, and he who shall reach the window of the daughter of the chief of
Naharaina, to him will he given her to wife." He said to them, "If it
please you, let me behold the matter, that I may come to climb with
you." They went to climb, as was their daily wont: and the youth stood
afar off to behold; and the face of the daughter of the chief of
Naharaina was turned to them. And another day the sons came to climb,
and the youth came to climb with the sons of the chiefs. He climbed, and
he reached the window of the daughter of the chief of Naharaina. She
kissed him, she embraced him in all his limbs.

And one went to rejoice the heart of her father, and said to him, "One
of the people has reached the window of thy daughter." And the prince
inquired of the messenger, saying, "The son of which of the princes is
it?" And he replied to him, "It is the son of an officer, who has come
as a fugitive from the land of Egypt, fleeing from before his stepmother
when she had children." Then the chief of Naharaina was exceeding angry;
and he said, "Shall I indeed give my daughter to the Egyptian fugitive?
Let him go back whence he came." And one came to tell the youth, "Go
back to the place thou earnest from." But the maiden seized his hand;
she swore an oath by God, saying, "By the being of Ra Harakhti, if one
takes him from me, I will not eat, I will not drink, I shall die in that
same hour." The messenger went to tell unto her father all that she
said. Then the prince sent men to slay the youth, while he was in his
house. But the maiden said, "By the being of Ra, if one slay him I shall
be dead ere the sun goeth down. I will not pass an hour of life if I am
parted from him." And one went to tell her father. Then the prince made
them bring the youth with the maiden. The youth was seized with fear
when he came before the prince. But he embraced him, he kissed him all
over, and said, "Oh! tell me who thou art; behold, thou art to me as a
son." He said to him, "I am a son of an officer of the land of Egypt; my
mother died, my father took to him a second wife; she came to hate me,
and I fled a fugitive from before her." He then gave to him his daughter
to wife; he gave also to him a house, and serfs, and fields, also cattle
and all manner of good things.

But after the days of these things were passed, the youth said to his
wife, "I am doomed to three fates--a crocodile, a serpent, and a dog."
She said to him, "Let one kill the dog which belongs to thee." He
replied to her, "I am not going to kill my dog, which I have brought up
from when it was small." And she feared greatly for her husband, and
would not let him go alone abroad.

And one went with the youth toward the land of Egypt, to travel in that
country. Behold the crocodile of the river, he came out by the town in
which the youth was. And in that town was a mighty man. And the mighty
man would not suffer the crocodile to escape. And when the crocodile was
bound, the mighty man went out and walked abroad. And when the sun rose
the mighty man went back to the house; and he did so every day, during
two months of days.

Now when the days passed after this, the youth sat making a good day in
his house.

And when the evening came he lay down on his bed, sleep seized upon his
limbs; and his wife filled a bowl of milk, and placed it by his side.
Then came out a serpent from his hole, to bite the youth; behold his wife
was sitting by him, she lay not down. Thereupon the servants gave milk
to the serpent, and he drank, and was drunk, and lay upside down. Then
his wife made it to perish with the blows of her dagger. And they woke
her husband, who was astonished; and she said unto him, "Behold thy God
has given one of thy dooms into thy hand; He will also give thee the
others." And he sacrificed to God, adoring Him, and praising His spirits
from day to day.

And when the days were passed after these things, the youth went to walk
in the fields of his domain. He went not alone, behold his dog was
following him. And his dog ran aside after the wild game, and he
followed the dog. He came to the river, and entered the river behind
his dog. Then came out the crocodile, and took him to the place where
the mighty man was. And the crocodile said to the youth, "I am thy doom,
following after thee. ..."

[Here the papyrus breaks off.]


This tale is preserved in one of the Harris papyri (No. 500) in the
British Museum. It has been translated by Goodwin, Chabas, Maspero, and
Ebers. The present version is adapted from that of Maspero, with
frequent reference by Mr. Griffith to the original.

The marvellous parentage of a fated or gifted hero is familiar in
Eastern tales, and he is often described as a divine reward to a
long-childless king. This element of fate or destiny is, however, not
seen before this age in Egyptian ideas; nor, indeed, would it seem at
all in place with the simple, easygoing, joyous life of the early days.
It belongs to an age when ideals possess the mind, when man struggles
against his circumstances, when he wills to be different from what he
is. Dedi or the shipwrecked sailor think nothing about fate, but live
day by day as life comes to them. There is here, then, a new element,
that of striving and of unrest, quite foreign to the old Egyptian mind.
The age of this tale is shown plainly in the incidents.  The prince goes
to the chief of Naharaina, a land probably unknown to the Egyptians
until the Asiatic conquests of the XVIIIth Dynasty had led them to the
upper waters of the Euphrates. In earlier days Sanehat fled to the
frontier at the Wady Tumilat, and was quite lost to Egypt when he
settled in the south of Palestine. But when the Doomed Prince goes out
of Egypt he goes to the chief of Naharaina, as the frontier State. This
stamps the tale as subsequent to the wars of the Tahutimes family, and
reflects rather the peaceful intercourse of the great monarch Amenhotep
the Third. If it belonged to the Ramessides we should not hear of
Naharaina, which was quite lost to them, but rather of Dapur (Tabor) and
Kadesh, and of the Hittites as the familiar frontier power.

The Hathors here appear as the Fates, instead of the goddesses Isis,
Nebhat, Mes-khent, and Hakt, of the old tale in the IVth Dynasty (see
first series, p. 33); and we find in the next tale of Anpu and Bata, in
the XIXth Dynasty, that the seven Hathors decree the fate of the wife of
Bata. That Hathor should be a name given to seven deities is not strange
when we see that Hathor was a generic name for a goddess. There was the
Hathor of foreign lands, such as Punt or Sinai; there was the Hathor of
home towns, as Dendera or Atfih; and Hathor was as widely known, and yet
as local, as the Madonna. In short, to one of the races which composed
the Egyptian people Hathor was the term for any goddess, or for a
universal goddess to whom all others were assimilated. Why and how this
title "house of Horus" should be so general is not obvious.

The variety of fate here predicted is like the vagueness of the fate of
Bata's wife, by "a sharp death." It points to the Hathors predicting as
seers, rather than to their having the control of the future. It bears
the stamp of the oracle of Delphi, rather than that of a divine decree.
In this these goddesses differ greatly from the Parcae, whose ordinances
not even Zeus could withstand, as Lucian lets us know in one of the most
audacious and philosophical of the dialogues. The Hathors seem rather to
deal with what we should call luck than with fate: they see the nature
of the close of life from its beginning, without either knowing or
controlling its details.

In this tale we meet for the first time the idea of inaccessible and
mysterious buildings; and from the resort to this element or curiosity
in describing both the prince and the princess, it appears as if it were
then a new motive in story-telling, and had not lost its power. To
modern ears it is, of course, done to death since the "Castle of
Otranto"; though as a minor element it can still be gently used by the
poet and novelist in a moated grange, a house in a marsh or a maze.
Another point of wonder, so well known in later times, is the large and
mystic number of windows, like the 365 windows attributed to great
buildings of the present age.  It would not be difficult from these
papyrus tales to start an historical dictionary of the elements of
fiction: a kind of analysis that should be the death of much of the
venerable stock-in-trade.

We see coming in here, more strongly than before, the use of emotions
and the force of character. The generous friendship of the sons of the
Syrian chiefs; then the burst of passionate love from the chiefs
daughter, which saves the prince's life twice over from her father, and
guards him afterwards from his fates; again, the devotion of the prince
to his favourite dog, in spite of all warnings--these show a reliance on
personal emotion and feeling in creating the interest of the tale, quite
different from the mere interest of incident which was employed earlier.
The reason which the prince alleges for his leaving Egypt is also a
touch of nature, the wish of a mother to oust her stepson in order to
make way for her own children, one of the deepest and most elemental
feelings of feminine nature.

The mighty man and the crocodile are difficult to understand, the more
so as the tale breaks off in the midst of that part. It appears also as
if there had been some inversion of the paragraphs; for, first, we read
that the wife would not let the prince go alone, and one goes with him
toward Egypt, and the crocodile of the Nile (apparently) is mentioned;
then he is said to be sitting in his house with his wife; then he goes
in the fields of his domain and meets the crocodile. It may be that a
passage has dropped out, describing his wife's accompanying him to
settle in Egypt. But the mighty man--that is another puzzle. He binds a
crocodile, and goes out while he is bound, but by night. The point of
this is not clear. It may have been, however, that the mighty man went
back to the house when the sun was high, that he might not lose his
shadow. In Arabia there was a belief that a hyena could deprive a man
of speech and motion by stepping on his shadow--analogous to the belief
in many other lands of the importance of preserving the shadow, and
avoiding the shadowless hour of high noon (Frazer, "Golden Bough," p.
143). Hence the strength of the mighty man, and his magic power over the
crocodile, would perhaps depend on his not allowing his shadow to
disappear. And though Egypt is not quite tropical, yet shadows do
practically vanish in the summer, the shadow of the thin branches of a
tall palm appearing to radiate round its root without the stem casting
any shade.

The use of milk to entice serpents is still well known in Egypt; and
when a serpent appeared in some of my excavations in a pit, the men
proposed to me to let down a saucer of milk to entice it out, that they
might kill it.

The close of the tale would have explained much that is now lost to us.
The crocodile boasts of being the fate of the prince; but his dog is
with him, and one can hardly doubt that the dog attacks the crocodile.
There is also the mighty man to come in and manage the crocodile. Then
the dog is left to bring about the catastrophe. Or does the faithful
wife rescue him from all the fates? Hardly so, as the prediction of the
Hathors comes strictly to pass in the tale of Anpu and Bata. Let us hope
that another copy may be found to give us the clue to the working of the
Egyptian mind in this situation.



Once there were two brethren, of one mother and one father; Anpu was the
name of the elder, and Bata was the name of the younger. Now, as for
Anpu he had a house, and he had a wife. But his little brother was to
him as it were a son; he it was who made for him his clothes; he it was
who followed behind his oxen to the fields; he it was who did the
ploughing; he it was who harvested the corn; he it was who did for him
all the matters that were in the field. Behold, his younger brother grew
to be an excellent worker, there was not his equal in the whole land;
behold, the spirit of a god was in him.

Now after this the younger brother followed his oxen in his daily
manner; and every evening he turned again to the house, laden with all
the herbs of the field, with milk and with wood, and with all things of
the field. And he put them down before his elder brother, who was
sitting with his wife; and he drank and ate, and he lay down in his
stable with the cattle. And at the dawn of day he took bread which he
had baked, and laid it before his elder brother; and he took with him
his bread to the field, and he drave his cattle to pasture in the
fields. And as he walked behind his cattle, they said to him, "Good is
the herbage which is in that place;" and he listened to all that they
said, and he took them to the good place which they desired. And the
cattle which were before him became exceeding excellent, and they
multiplied greatly.

Now at the time of ploughing his elder brother said unto him, "Let us
make ready for ourselves a goodly yoke of oxen for ploughing, for the
land has come out from the water, it is fit for ploughing. Moreover, do
thou come to the field with corn, for we will begin the ploughing in the
morrow morning." Thus said he to him; and his younger brother did all
things as his elder brother had spoken unto him to do them.

And when the morn was come, they went to the fields with their things;
and their hearts were pleased exceedingly with their task in the
beginning of their work. And it came to pass after this that as they
were in the field they stopped for corn, and he sent his younger
brother, saying, "Haste thou, bring to us corn from the farm." And the
younger brother found the wife of his elder brother, as she was sitting
tiring her hair. He said to her, "Get up, and give to me corn, that I
may run to the field, for my elder brother hastened me; do not delay."
She said to him, "Go, open the bin, and thou shalt take to thyself
according to thy will, that I may not drop my locks of hair while I
dress them."

The youth went into the stable; he took a large measure, for he desired
to take much corn; he loaded it with wheat and barley; and he went out
carrying it. She said to him, "How much of the corn that is wanted, is
that which is on thy shoulder?" He said to her, "Three bushels of
barley, and two of wheat, in all five; these are what are upon my
shoulder:" thus said he to her.  And she conversed with him, saying,
"There is great strength in thee, for I see thy might every day." And
her heart knew him with the knowledge of youth. And she arose and came
to him, and conversed with him, saying, "Come, stay with me, and it
shall be well for thee, and I will make for thee beautiful garments."
Then the youth became like a panther of the south with fury at the evil
speech which she had made to him; and she feared greatly. And he spake
unto her, saying, "Behold thou art to me as a mother, thy husband is to
me as a father, for he who is elder than I has brought me up. What is
this wickedness that thou hast said to me? Say it not to me again. For I
will not tell it to any man, for I will not let it be uttered by the
mouth of any man." He lifted up his burden, and he went to the field and
came to his elder brother; and they took up their work, to labour at
their task.

Now afterward, at eventime, his elder brother was returning to his
house; and the younger brother was following after his oxen, and he
loaded himself with all the things of the field; and he brought his oxen
before him, to make them lie down in their stable which was in the farm.
And behold the wife of the elder brother was afraid for the words which
she had said. She took a parcel of fat, she became like one who is
evilly beaten, desiring to say to her husband, "It is thy younger
brother who has done this wrong." Her husband returned in the even, as
was his wont of every day; he came unto his house; he found his wife ill
of violence; she did not give him water upon his hands as he used to
have, she did not make a light before him, his house was in darkness,
and she was lying very sick. Her husband said to her, "Who has spoken
with thee?"

Behold she said, "No one has spoken with me except thy younger brother.
When he came to take for thee corn he found me sitting alone; he said to
me, 'Come, let us stay together, tie up thy hair:' thus spake he to me.
I did not listen to him, but thus spake I to him: 'Behold, am I not thy
mother, is not thy elder brother to thee as a father?' And he feared,
and he beat me to stop me from making report to thee, and if thou
lettest him live I shall die. Now behold he is coming in the evening;
and I complain of these wicked words, for he would have done this even
in daylight."

And the elder brother became as a panther of the south; he sharpened his
knife; he took it in his hand; he stood behind the door of his stable to
slay his younger brother as he came in the evening to bring his cattle
into the stable.

Now the sun went down, and he loaded himself with herbs in his daily
manner. He came, and his foremost cow entered the stable, and she said
to her keeper, "Behold thou thy elder brother standing before thee with
his knife to slay thee; flee from before him." He heard what his first
cow had said; and the next entering, she also said likewise. He looked
beneath the door of the stable; he saw the feet of his elder brother; he
was standing behind the door, and his knife was in his hand. He cast
down his load to the ground, and betook himself to flee swiftly; and his
elder brother pursued after him with his knife. Then the younger brother
cried out unto Ra Harakhti, saying, "My good Lord! Thou art he who
divides the evil from the good." And Ra stood and heard all his cry; and
Ra made a wide water between him and his elder brother, and it was full
of crocodiles; and the one brother was on one bank, and the other on the
other bank; and the elder brother smote twice on his hands at not
slaying him. Thus did he. And the younger brother called to the elder on
the bank, saying, "Stand still until the dawn of day; and when Ra
ariseth, I shall judge with thee before Him, and He discerneth between
the good and the evil. For I shall not be with thee any more for ever; I
shall not be in the place in which thou art; I shall go to the valley of
the acacia."

Now when the land was lightened, and the next day appeared, Ra Harakhti
arose, and one looked unto the other. And the youth spake with his elder
brother, saying, "Wherefore earnest thou after me to slay me in
craftiness, when thou didst not hear the words of my mouth? For I am thy
brother in truth, and thou art to me as a father, and thy wife even as a
mother: is it not so? Verily, when I was sent to bring for us corn, thy
wife said to me, 'Come, stay with me;' for behold this has been turned
over unto thee into another wise." And he caused him to understand of
all that happened with him and his wife. And he swore an oath by Ra
Har-akhti, saying, "Thy coming to slay me by deceit with thy knife was
an abomination." Then the youth took a knife, and cut off of his flesh,
and cast it into the water, and the fish swallowed it. He failed; he
became faint; and his elder brother cursed his own heart greatly; he
stood weeping for him afar off; he knew not how to pass over to where
his younger brother was, because of the crocodiles. And the younger
brother called unto him, saying, "Whereas thou hast devised
an evil thing, wilt thou not also devise a good thing, even like that
which I would do unto thee? When thou goest to thy house thou must look
to thy cattle, for I shall not stay in the place where thou art; I am
going to the valley of the acacia. And now as to what thou shalt do for
me; it is even that thou shalt come to seek after me, if thou perceivest
a matter, namely, that there are things happening unto me. And this is
what shall come to pass, that I shall draw out my soul, and I shall put
it upon the top of the flowers of the acacia, and when the acacia is cut
down, and it falls to the ground, and thou comest to seek for it, if
thou searchest for it seven years do not let thy heart be wearied. For
thou wilt find it, and thou must put it in a cup of cold water, and
expect that I shall live again, that I may make answer to what has been
done wrong.. And thou shalt know of this, that is to say, that things
are happening to me, when one shall give to thee a cup of beer in thy hand,
and it shall be troubled; stay not then, for verily it shall come to
pass with thee."

And the youth went to the valley of the acacia; and his elder brother
went unto his house; his hand was laid on his head, and he cast dust on
his head; he came to his house, and he slew his wife, he cast her to the
dogs, and he sat in mourning for his younger brother.

Now many days after these things, the younger brother was in the valley
of the acacia; there was none with him; he spent his time in hunting the
beasts of the desert, and he came back in the even to lie down under the
acacia, which bore his soul upon the topmost flower. And after this he
built himself a tower with his own hands, in the valley of the acacia;
it was full of all good things, that he might provide for himself a home.

And he went out from his tower, and he met the Nine Gods, who were
walking forth to look upon the whole land.  The Nine Gods talked one
with another, and they said unto him, "Ho!  Bata, bull of the Nine Gods,
art thou remaining alone? Thou hast left thy village for the wife of
Anpu, thy elder brother. Behold his wife is slain. Thou hast given him
an answer to all that was transgressed against thee." And their hearts
were vexed for him exceedingly. And Ra Harakhti said to Khnumu, "Behold,
frame thou a woman for Bata, that he may not remain alive alone." And
Khnumu made for him a mate to dwell with him.

She was more beautiful in her limbs than any woman who is in the whole
land. The essence of every god was in her. The seven Hathors came to see
her: they said with one mouth, "She will die a sharp death."

And Bata loved her very exceedingly, and she dwelt in his house; he
passed his time in hunting the beasts of the desert, and brought and
laid them before her. He said, "Go not outside, lest the sea seize thee;
for I cannot rescue thee from it, for I am a woman like thee; my soul is
placed on the head of the flower of the acacia; and if another find it,
I must fight with him." And he opened unto her his heart in all its nature.

Now after these things Bata went to hunt in his daily manner. And the
young girl went to walk under the acacia which was by the side of her
house. Then the sea saw her, and cast its waves up after her. She betook
herself to flee from before it. She entered her house. And the sea
called unto the acacia, saying, "Oh, would that I could seize her!" And
the acacia brought a lock from her hair, and the sea carried it to
Egypt, and dropped it in the place of the fullers of Pharaoh's linen.
The smell of the lock of hair entered into the clothes of Pharaoh; and
they were wroth with the fullers of Pharaoh, saying, "The smell of
ointment is in the clothes of Pharaoh." And the people were rebuked
every day, they knew not what they should do. And the chief fuller of
Pharaoh walked by the bank, and his heart was very evil within him after
the daily quarrel with him. He stood still, he stood upon the sand
opposite to the lock of hair, which was in the water, and he made one
enter into the water and bring it to him; and there was found in it a
smell, exceeding sweet. He took it to Pharaoh; and they brought the
scribes and the wise men, and they said unto Pharaoh, "This lock of hair
belongs to a daughter of Ra Harakhti: the essence of every god is in
her, and it is a tribute to thee from another land. Let messengers go to
every strange land to seek her: and as for the messenger who shall go to
the valley of the acacia, let many men go with him to bring her." Then
said his majesty, "Excellent exceedingly is what has been said to us;"
and they sent them. And many days after these things the people who were
sent to strange lands came to give report unto the king: but there came
not those who went to the valley of the acacia, for Bata had slain them,
but let one of them return to give a report to the king. His majesty
sent many men and soldiers, as well as horsemen, to bring her back. And
there was a woman amongst them, and to her had been given in her hand
beautiful ornaments of a woman. And the girl came back with her, and
they rejoiced over her in the whole land.

And his majesty loved her exceedingly, and raised her to high estate;
and he spake unto her that she should tell him concerning her husband.
And she said, "Let the acacia be cut down, and let one chop it up." And
they sent men and soldiers with their weapons to cut down the acacia;
and they came to the acacia, and they cut the flower upon which was the
soul of Bata, and he fell dead suddenly.

And when the next day came, and the earth was lightened, the acacia was
cut down. And Anpu, the elder brother of Bata, entered his house, and
washed his hands; and one gave him a cup of beer, and it became
troubled; and one gave him another of wine, and the smell of it was
evil. Then he took his staff, and his sandals, and likewise his clothes,
with his weapons of war; and he betook himself forth to the valley of
the acacia. He entered the tower of his younger brother, and he found
him lying upon his mat; he was dead. And he wept when he saw his younger
brother verily lying dead. And he went out to seek the soul of his
younger brother under the acacia tree, under which his younger brother
lay in the evening.

He spent three years in seeking for it, but found it not. And when he
began the fourth year, he desired in his heart to return into Egypt; he
said "I will go to-morrow morn:" thus spake he in his heart.

Now when the land lightened, and the next day appeared, he was walking
under the acacia; he was spending his time in seeking it. And he
returned in the evening, and laboured at seeking it again. He found a
seed. He returned with it. Behold this was the soul of his younger
brother. He brought a cup of cold water, and he cast the seed into it:
and he sat down, as he was wont. Now when the night came his soul sucked
up the water; Bata shuddered in all his limbs, and he looked on his
elder brother; his soul was in the cup. Then Anpu took the cup of cold
water, in which the soul of his younger brother was; Bata drank it, his
soul stood again in its place, and he became as he had been. They
embraced each other, and they conversed together.

And Bata said to his elder brother, "Behold I am to become as a great
bull, which bears every good mark; no one knoweth its history, and thou
must sit upon my back. When the sun arises I shall be in the place where
my wife is, that I may return answer to her; and thou must take me to
the place where the king is. For all good things shall be done for thee;
for one shall lade thee with silver and gold, because thou bringest me
to Pharaoh, for I become a great marvel, and they shall rejoice for me
in all the land. And thou shalt go to thy village."

And when the land was lightened, and the next day appeared, Bata became
in the form which he had told to his elder brother. And Anpu sat upon
his back until the dawn. He came to the place where the king was, and
they made his majesty to know of him; he saw him, and he was exceeding
joyful with him. He made for him great offerings, saying,

"This is a great wonder which has come to pass." There were rejoicings
over him in the whole land. They presented unto him silver and gold for
his elder brother, who went and stayed in his village. They gave to the
bull many men and many things, and Pharaoh loved him exceedingly above
all that is in this land.

And after many days after these things, the bull entered the purified
place; he stood in the place where the princess was; he began to speak
with her, saying, "Behold, I am alive indeed." And she said to him,
"And, pray, who art thou?" He said to her, "I am Bata. I perceived when
thou causedst that they should destroy the acacia of Pharaoh, which was
my abode, that I might not be suffered to live. Behold, I am alive
indeed, I am as an ox." Then the princess feared exceedingly for the
words that her husband had spoken to her. And he went out from the
purified place.

And his majesty was sitting, making a good day with her: she was at the
table of his majesty, and the king was exceeding pleased with her. And
she said to his majesty, "Swear to me by God, saying, 'What thou shalt
say, I will obey it for thy sake.'" He hearkened unto all that she said,
even this. "Let me eat of the liver of the ox, because he is fit for
nought:" thus spake she to him. And the king was exceeding sad at her
words, the heart of Pharaoh grieved him greatly. And after the land was
lightened, and the next day appeared, they proclaimed a great feast with
offerings to the ox. And the king sent one of the chief butchers of his
majesty, to cause the ox to be sacrificed. And when he was sacrificed,
as he was upon the shoulders of the people, he shook his neck, and he
threw two drops of blood over against the two doors of his majesty. The
one fell upon the one side, on the great door of Pharaoh, and the other
upon the other door. They grew as two great Persea trees, and each of
them was excellent.

And one went to tell unto his majesty, "Two great Persea trees have
grown, as a great marvel of his majesty, in the night by the side of the
great gate of his majesty." And there was rejoicing for them in all the
land, and there were offerings made to them.

And when the days were multiplied after these things, his majesty was
adorned with the blue crown, with garlands of flowers on his neck, and
he was upon the chariot of pale gold, and he went out from the palace to
behold the Persea trees: the princess also was going out with horses
behind his majesty. And his majesty sat beneath one of the Persea trees,
and it spake thus with his wife: "Oh thou deceitful one, I am Bata, I am
alive, though I have been evilly entreated. I knew who caused the acacia
to be cut down by Pharaoh at my dwelling. I then became an ox, and thou
causedst that I should be killed."

And many days after these things the princess stood at the table of
Pharaoh, and the king was pleased with her. And she said to his majesty,
"Swear to me by God, saying, 'That which the princess shall say to me I
will obey it for her.'" And he hearkened unto all she said. And he
commanded, "Let these two Persea trees be cut down, and let them be made
into goodly planks." And he hearkened unto all she said. And after this
his majesty sent skilful craftsmen, and they cut down the Persea trees
of Pharaoh; and the princess, the royal wife, was standing looking on,
and they did all that was in her heart unto the trees. But a chip flew
up, and it entered into the mouth of the princess; she swallowed it, and
after many days she bore a son. And one went to tell his majesty, "There
is born to thee a son." And they brought him, and gave to him a nurse
and servants; and there were rejoicings in the whole land. And the king
sat making a merry day, as they were about the naming of him, and his
majesty loved him exceedingly at that moment, and the king raised him to
be the royal son of Kush.

Now after the days had multiplied after these things, his majesty made
him heir of all the land. And many days after that, when he had
fulfilled many years as heir, his majesty flew up to heaven. And the
heir said, "Let my great nobles of his majesty be brought before me,
that I may make them to know all that has happened to me." And they
brought also before him his wife, and he judged with her before him, and
they agreed with him. They brought to him his elder brother; he made him
hereditary prince in all his land. He was thirty years king of Egypt,
and he died, and his elder brother stood in his place on the day of

_Excellently finished in peace, for the_ ka _of the scribe of the
treasury Kagabu, of the treasury of Pharaoh, and for the scribe Hora,
and the scribe Meremapt. Written by the scribe Anena, the owner of this
roll. He who speaks against this roll, may Tahuti smite him._


This tale, which is perhaps, of all this series, the best known in
modern times, has often been published. It exists only in one papyrus,
that of Madame d'Orbiney, purchased by the British Museum in 1857. The
papyrus had belonged to Sety II. when crown prince, and hence is of the
XIXth Dynasty. Most of the great scholars of this age have worked at it:
__De Rouge, Goodwin, Renouf, Chabas, Brugsch, Ebers, Maspero, and Groff
have all made original studies on it. The present translation is,
however, a fresh one made by Mr. Griffith word for word, and shaped as
little as possible by myself in editing it. The copy followed is the
publication by Birch in "Select Papyri," part ii. pls. ix. to xix.
Before considering the details of the story, we should notice an
important question about its age and composition. That it is as old as
the XIXth Dynasty in its present form is certain from the papyrus; but
probably parts of it are older. The idyllic beauty of the opening of it,
with the simplicity and directness of the ideas, and the absence of any
impossible or marvellous feature, is in the strongest opposition to the
latter part, where marvel is piled on marvel in pointless profusion. In
the first few pages there is not a word superfluous or an idea out of
place in drawing the picture. That we have to do with an older story
lengthened out by some inartistic compiler, seems only too probable. And
this is borne out by the colophon. In the tales of the Shipwrecked
Sailor, and of Sanehat, the colophon runs--"This is finished from
beginning to end, even as it was found in the writing," and the earlier
of these two tales follows this with a blessing on the transcriber. But,
apparently conscious of his meddling, the author of Anpu and Bata ends
with a curse: "Written by the scribe Anena, the owner of this roll. He
who speaks against this roll, may Tahuti smite him." This points to a
part of it at least being newly composed in Ramesside times; while the
delicate beauty of the opening is not only far better than the latter
part, but is out of harmony with the forced and artificial taste of the
XIXth Dynasty. At the same time, the careful drawing of character is
hardly akin to the simple, matter-of-fact style of Sanehat, and seems
more in keeping with the emotional style of the Doomed Prince. If we
attribute the earlier part to the opening of the XVIIIth Dynasty--the
age of the pastoral scenes of the tombs of El Kab, which are the latest
instances of such sculptures in Egypt--we shall probably be nearest to
the truth.

The description of Bata is one of the most beautiful character-drawings
in the past. The self-denial and sweet innocence of the lad, his
sympathy with his cattle, "listening to all that they said," and
allowing them their natural wishes and ways, is touchingly expressed.
And those who know Egypt will know that Bata still lives there--several
Batas I have known myself. His sweetness of manner, his devotion, his
untiringly earnest work, his modesty, his quietness, makes Bata to be
one of the most charming friends. Bata I have met in many places, Bata I
have loved as one of the flowers of human nature, and Bata I hope often
to meet again in divers forms and varied incarnations among the _fellah_
lads of Egypt.

The touches of description of Bata are slight, and yet so pointed. His
growing to be an excellent worker; his return at evening laden with all
the produce, just as may be seen now any evening as the lads come in
bearing on their backs large bundles of vegetables for the house, and of
fodder for the home-driven cattle; his sleeping with his cattle in the
stable; his zeal in rising before dawn to make the daily bread for his
brother, ready to give him when he arose; and then his driving out the
cattle to pasture--all contrasts with his elder brother's life of ease.
The making of the bread was rightly the duty of Anpu's wife; she ought
to have risen to grind the corn long before dawn, as the millstones may
now be heard grinding in the dark, morning by morning; she ought to have
baked the bread ready for the toiler who spent his whole day in the
field. But it was the ever-willing Bata who did the work of the house as
well as the work of the farm. "Behold the spirit of a god was in him."

The driving in of the cattle at night is still a particular feature of
Egyptian life. About an hour before sunset the tether ropes are drawn in
the fields, and the cattle file off, with a little child for a
leader--if any; the master gathers up the produce that is required, some
buffalo is laden with a heap of clover, or a lad carries it on his back,
for the evening feed of the cattle, and all troop along the path through
the fields and by the canal. For two or three miles the road becomes
more and more crowded with the flocks driven into it from every field, a
long haze of dust lies glowing in the crimson glory of sunset over the
stream of cows and buffaloes, sheep and goats, that pour into the
village. Each beast well knows his master and his crib, and turns in at
the familiar gate to the stable under the house, or by the side of the
hut; and there all spend the night. Not a hoof is left out in the field;
the last belated stragglers come in while the gleam of amber still edges
the night-blue sky behind the black horizon. Then the silent fields lie
under the brightening moon, glittering with dew, untrodden and deserted.
It is not cold or climate that leads men to this custom, but the
unsafety of a country bordered by unseen deserts, whence untold men may
suddenly appear and ravage all the plain.

The ploughing scene next follows, on "the land coming out from the
water"; as the inundation goes down the well-known banks and ridges
appear, "the back-bones of the land," as they were so naturally called;
and when the surface is firm enough to walk on--with many a pool and
ditch still full--the ploughing begins on the soft dark clay.

The catastrophe of the story--the black gulf of deceit that suddenly
opens under Bata's feet--has always been seen to be strikingly like the
story of Joseph. And--as we have noticed--there is good reason for the
early part of this tale belonging to about the beginning of the XVIIIth
Dynasty, so it is very closely allied in time as well as character to
the account of Joseph. In this part again is one of those pointed
touches, which show the power of the poet--for a poem in prose this
is--"her heart knew him with the knowledge of youth."

On reaching the mistaken revenge of Anpu, we see the sympathy of Bata
with his cattle, and his way of reading their feelings, returned to him
most fittingly by the cows perceiving the presence of the treachery. "He
heard what his first cow had said; and the next entering she also said

After this we find a change; instead of the simple and natural
narrative, full of human feeling, and without a touch of impossibility,
every subsequent episode involves the supernatural; Ra creating a wide
water, the extraction of the soul of Bata, his miraculous wife, and all
the transformations--these have nothing in common with the style or
ideas of the earlier tale.

Whence this later tangle came, and how much of it is drawn from other
sources, we can hardly hope to explain from the fragments of literature
that we have. But strangely there is a parallel which is close enough to
suggest that the patchwork is due to popular mythology. In the myths of
Phrygia we meet with Atys or Attis, of whom varying legends are told.
Among these we glean that he was a shepherd, beautiful and chaste; that
he fled from corruption; that he mutilated himself; lastly he died under
a tree, and afterwards was revived. All this is a duplicate of the story
of Bata. And looking further, we see parallels to the three subsequent
transformations. Drops of blood were shed from the Atys-priest; and
Bata, in his first transformation as a bull, sprinkles two drops of
blood by the doors of the palace. Again, Atys is identified with a tree,
which was cut down and taken into a sanctuary; and Bata in his second
transformation is a Persea tree which is cut down and used in building.
Lastly, the mother of Atys is said to have been a virgin, who bore him
from placing in her bosom a ripe almond or pomegranate; and in his third
transformation Bata is born from a chip of a tree being swallowed by the
princess. These resemblances in nearly all the main points are too close
and continuous to be a mere chance, especially as such incidents are not
found in any other Egyptian tale, nor in few--if any--other classical
myths. It is not impossible that the names even may have been the same;
for Bata, as we write it, was pronounced Vata (or Vatiu or Vitiou, as
others would vocalise it), and the digamma would disappear in the later
Greek form in which we have Atys.

The most likely course seems to have been that, starting with a simple
Egyptian tale, the resemblance to the shepherd of the Asiatic myth, led
to a Ramesside author improving the story by tacking on the branches of
the myth one after another, and borrowing the name. If this be granted,
we have here in Bata the earliest indications of the elements of the
Atys mysteries, a thousand years before the Greek versions.

Returning now from the general structure to the separate incidents, we
note the expression of annoyance where the elder brother "smote twice on
his hands." This gesture is very common in Egypt now, the two hands
being rapidly slid one past the other, palm to palm, vertically, grating
the fingers of one hand over the other; the right hand moving downwards,
and the left a little up. This implies that there is nothing, that a
thing is worthless, that a desired result has not been attained, or
annoyance at want of success; but the latter meanings are now rare, and
more latent than otherwise, and this tale points to the gesture being
originally one of positive anger, though it has been transferred
gradually to express mere negative results.

The valley of the acacia would appear from the indications to have been
by the sea, and probably in Syria; perhaps one of the half-desert wadis
toward Gaza was in the writer's mind. The idea of Bata taking out his
heart, and placing it on the flower of a tree, has seemed hopelessly
unintelligible. But it depends on what we are to understand by the heart
in Egyptian. Two words are well known for it, _hati_ and _ah;_ and as it
is unlikely that these should be mere synonyms, we have a presumption
that one of them does not mean the physical heart, but rather the mental
heart. We are accustomed to the same mixture of thought; and far the
more common usage in English is not to employ the name to express the
physical heart, but for the will, as when we say "good-hearted";--for
the spring of action, "broken-hearted ";--for the feelings,
"hard-hearted";--for the passions, "an affair of the heart";--or for the
vigour, as when a man in nature or in act is "hearty" The Egyptian, with
his metaphysical mind, took two different words where we only use one;
and when we read of placing the heart _(hati)_ out of a man, we are led
at once by the analogy of beliefs in other races to understand this as
the vitality or soul. In the "Golden Bough" Mr. Frazer has explained
this part of natural metaphysics; and in this, and the following points,
I freely quote from that work as a convenient text-book. The soul or
vitality of a man is thought of as separable from the body at will, and
therefore communicable to other objects or positions. In those positions
it cannot be harmed by what happens to the body, which is therefore
deathless for the time. But if the external seat of the soul be attacked
or destroyed, the man immediately dies. This is illustrated from the
Norse, Saxons, Celts, Italians, Greeks, Kabyles, Arabs, Hindus, Malays,
Mongolians, Tartars, Magyars, and Slavonians. It may well, then, be
considered as a piece of inherent psychology: and following this
interpretation, I have rendered "heart" in this sense "soul" in the

The Nine Gods who meet Bata are one of the great cycles of divinities,
which were differently reckoned in various places. Khnumu is always the
formative god, who makes man upon the potter's wheel, as in the scene in
the temple of Luqsor. And even in natural birth it was Khnumu who "gave
strength to the limbs," as in the earlier "Tales of the Magicians." The
character of the wife of Bata is a very curious study. The total absence
of the affections in her was probably designed as in accord with her
non-natural formation, as she could not inherit aught from human
parents. Ambition appears as the only emotion of this being; her attacks
on the transformations of Bata are not due to dislike, but only to fear
that he should claim her removal from her high station; she "feared
exceedingly for the words that her husband had spoken to her." Her
Lilith nature is incapable of any craving but that for power.

The action here of the seven Hathors we have noticed in the remarks on
the previous tale of the Doomed Prince. The episode of the sea is very
strange; and if we need find some rationalising account of it, we might
suppose it to be a mythical form of a raid of pirates, who, not catching
the woman, carried off something of hers, which proved an object of
contention in Egypt. But such renderings are unlikely, and we may the
rather expect to find some explanation in a mythological parallel.

The carrying of the lock of hair to Pharaoh, and his proclaiming a
search for the owner, is plainly an early form of the story of the
little slipper, whose owner is sought by the king. The point that she
could not be caught except by setting another woman to tempt her with
ornaments, anticipates the modern novelist's saying, "Set a woman to
catch a woman."

The sudden death of Bata, so soon as the depository of his soul was
destroyed, is a usual feature in such tales about souls. But it is only
in the Indian forms quoted by Mr. Frazer that there is any revival of
the dead; and in no case is there any transformation like that of Bata.
Perhaps none but an Egyptian or a Chinese would have credited Anpu with
wandering up and down for four years seeking the lost soul. But the idea
of returning the soul in water to the man is found as a magic process in
North America ("Golden Bough," i. 141).

The first transformation of Bata, into a bull, is clearly drawn from the
Apis bull of Memphis. The rejoicings at discovering a real successor of
Apis are here, the rejoicings over Bata, who is the Apis bull,
distinguished as he says by "bearing every good mark." These marks on
the back and other parts were the tokens of the true Apis, who was
sought for anxiously through the country on the death of the sacred
animal who had lived in the sanctuary. The man who, like Anpu, brought
up a true Apis to the temple would receive great rewards and honours.

The scene where the princess demands the grant of a favour is repeated
over again by Esther at her banquet, and by the daughter of Herodias. It
is the Oriental way of doing business. But the curious incongruity of
making a great feast with offerings to the ox before sacrificing it,
appears inexplicable until we note the habits of other peoples in
slaying their sacred animals at certain intervals. This tale shows us
what is stated by Greek authors, that the Egyptians slew the sacred Apis
at stated times, or when a new one was discovered with the right marks.
The annual sacrifice of a sacred ram at Thebes shows that the Egyptians
were familiar with such an idea. And though it was considered by the
writer of this tale as a monstrous act, yet the offerings and festivity
which accompanied it are in accordance with the strange fact found by
Mariette, that in the three undisturbed Apis burials which he discovered
there were only fragments of bone, and in one case a head, carefully
embalmed with bitumen and magnificent offerings of jewellery. The divine
Apis was eaten as a sacred feast.

The reason that the princess desires the liver is strangely explained by
a present belief on the Upper Nile. The Darfuris think that the liver is
the seat of the soul ("Golden Bough," ii. 88); and hence if she ate the
liver she would destroy the soul of Bata, or prevent it entering any
other incarnation.

The next detail is also curiously significant. If a bull was being
sacrificed we should naturally suppose the blood would flow, and that a
few drops would not be noticed. Here, however, two drops are said to
fall, and this was when the bull "was upon the shoulders of the people."
Now it is a very general idea that blood must not be allowed to fall
upon the ground; the eastern and southern Africans will not shed the
blood of cattle ("Golden Bough," i. 182); and strangely the Australians
avoid the falling of blood to the ground by placing the bleeding persons
upon the shoulders of other men. This parallel is so close to the
Egyptian tale that it seems as if the bull was borne "on the shoulders
of the people," that his blood should not fall to the ground; yet in
spite of this precaution "he shook his neck, and he threw two drops of
blood over against the doors of his majesty." In these drops of blood
was the soul of Bata, in spite of the princess having eaten his liver;
and we know how among Jews, Arabs, and other peoples, the blood is
regarded as the vehicle of the soul or life.

The evidence of tree worship is plainer here than perhaps in any other
passage of Egyptian literature. The people rejoice for the two Persea
trees, "and there were offerings made to them."

The blue crown worn by the king was the war cap of leather covered with
scales of copper: it is often found made in dark blue glaze for
statuettes, and it seems probable that the copper was superficially
sulphurised to tint it. Such head-dress was usually worn by kings when
riding in their chariots. The pale gold or electrum here mentioned was
the general material for decorating the royal chariot.

The miraculous birth of Bata in his third transformation is, as we have
noticed, closely paralleled by the birth of Atys from the almond. The
idea at the root of this is that of self-creation or self-existence, as
in the usual Egyptian phrase, "bull of his mother."

The king flying up to heaven is a regular expression for his death: "the
hawk has soared," "the follower of the god has met his maker," so
Sanehat describes it (see ist series, pp. 97, 98).

This hawk-form of the king may be connected with the hawk bearing the
double crown which is perched on the top of the _ka_ name of each king.
That hawk is not Horus, nor even the king deified as Horus, because the
emblem of life is given to it by other gods (as by Set on a lintel of
XVIIIth Dynasty from Nubt), and therefore the hawk is the human king who
could perish, and not an immortal divinity. Further, this hawk-king is
always perched on the top of the drawing of the doorway to the sepulchre
which bears the _ka_ name of the king; and when we see the drawings of
the _ba_ bird or soul flying down the well to the sepulchre, it appears
as if the hawk were the royal _ba_ bird (ordinary men having a _ba_ bird
with a human head); and that the well-known first title of each king
represents the royal soul or _ba_ bird perched on the door of the
sepulchre, resting on his way to and from the visit to the corpse below.
The soul or _ba_ of the king at his death thus flew away as a hawk to
meet the sun.

The veil drawn over the fate of the inhuman princess is well conceived.
That she should die a sharp death has been foretold; but how Bata should
slay the divine creation--his wife--his mother--is a matter that the
scribe reserves in silence; we only read that "he judged with her before
him, and the great nobles agreed with him." That judgment is best left
among the things unwritten.

The strange manner in which we can see incident after incident in the
latter part of the tale, each to refer to some ceremony or belief, even
imperfect as our knowledge of such must be, and the evidence that the
whole being of Bata is a transference of the myth of Atys, must lead us
to look on this, the marvellous portion, as woven out of a group of
myths, ceremonies, and beliefs which were joined and explained by the
formation of such a tale. How far it is due to purely Egyptian ideas,
indicated by the Apis bull and the analogies in present African beliefs,
and how far it is Asiatic and belonging to Atys, it would be premature
to decide. But from the weird confusion and mystery of these
transformations, we turn back with renewed pleasure to the simple and
sweet picture of peasant life, and the beauty of Bata, and we see how
true a poet the Egyptian was in feeling and in expression.



The mighty King User-maat-ra (Ra-meses the Great) had a son named Setna
Kha-em-uast who was a great scribe, and very learned in all the ancient
writings. And he heard that the magic book of Thoth, by which a man may
enchant heaven and earth, and know the language of all birds and beasts,
was buried in the cemetery of Memphis. And he went to search for it with
his brother An-he-hor-eru; and when they found the tomb of the king's
son, Na-nefer-ka-ptah, son of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt,
Mer-neb-ptah, Setna opened it and went in.

Now in the tomb was Na-nefer-ka-ptah, and with him was the _ka_ of his
wife Ahura; for though she was buried at Koptos, her _ka_ dwelt at
Memphis with her husband, whom she loved. And Setna saw them seated
before their offerings, and the book lay between them. And
Na-nefer-ka-ptah said to Setna, "Who are you that break into my tomb in
this way?" He said, "I am Setna, son of the great King User-maat-ra,
living for ever, and I come for that book which I see between you." And
Na-nefer-ka-ptah said, "It cannot be given to you." Then said Setna,
"But I will carry it away by force."

Then Ahura said to Setna, "Do not take this book; for it will bring
trouble on you, as it has upon us. Listen to what we have suffered for it."

"We were the two children of the King Mer-neb-ptah, and he loved us very
much, for he had no others; and Na-nefer-ka-ptah was in his palace as
heir over all the land. And when we were grown, the king said to the
queen, 'I will marry Na-nefer-ka-ptah to the daughter of a general, and
Ahura to the son of another general.' And the queen said, 'No, he is the
heir, let him marry his sister, like the heir of a king, none other is
fit for him.' And the king said, 'That is not fair; they had better be
married to the children of the general.'

"And the queen said, 'It is you who are not dealing rightly with me.'
And the king answered, 'If I have no more than these two children, is it
right that they should marry one another? I will marry Na-nefer-ka-ptah
to the daughter of an officer, and Ahura to the son of another officer.
It has often been done so in our family.'

"And at a time when there was a great feast before the king, they came
to fetch me to the feast. And I was very troubled, and did not behave as
I used to do. And the king said to me, 'Ahura, have you sent some one to
me about this sorry matter, saying, "Let me be married to my elder
brother"? 'I said to him, 'Well, let me marry the son of an officer, and
he marry the daughter of another officer, as it often happens so in our
family.' I laughed, and the king laughed. And the king told the steward
of the palace, 'Let them take Ahura to the house of Na-nefer-ka-ptah
to-night, and all kinds of good things with her.' So they brought me as
a wife to the house of Na-nefer-ka-ptah; and the king ordered them to
give me presents of silver and gold, and things from the palace.

"And Na-nefer-ka-ptah passed a happy time with me, and received all the
presents from the palace; and we loved one another. And when I expected
a child, they told the king, and he was most heartily glad; and he sent
me many things, and a present of the best silver and gold and linen. And
when the time came, I bore this little child that is before you. And
they gave him the name of Mer-ab, and registered him in the book of the
'House of life.'

"And when my brother Na-nefer-ka-ptah went to the cemetery of Memphis,
he did nothing on earth but read the writings that are in the catacombs
of the kings, and the tablets of the 'House of life,' and the
inscriptions that are seen on the monuments, and he worked hard on the
writings. And there was a priest there called Nesi-ptah; and as
Na-nefer-ka-ptah went into a temple to pray, it happened that he went
behind this priest, and was reading the inscriptions that were on the
chapels of the gods. And the priest mocked him and laughed. So
Na-nefer-ka-ptah said to him, 'Why are you laughing at me?' And he
replied, 'I was not laughing at you, or if I happened to do so, it was
at your reading writings that are worthless.  If you wish so much to
read writings, come to me, and I will bring you to the place where the
book is which Thoth himself wrote with his own hand, and which will
bring you to the gods. When you read but two pages in this you will
enchant the heaven, the earth, the abyss, the mountains, and the sea;
you shall know what the birds of the sky and the crawling things are
saying; you shall see the fishes of the deep, for a divine power is
there to bring them up out of the depth. And when you read the second
page, if you are in the world of ghosts, you will become again in the
shape you were in on earth. You will see the sun shining in the sky,
with all the gods, and the full moon.'

"And Na-nefer-ka-ptah said, 'By the life of the king! Tell me of
anything you want done and I'll do it for you, if you will only send me
where this book is.' And the priest answered Na-nefer-ka-ptah, 'If you
want to go to the place where the book is, you must give me a hundred
pieces of silver for my funeral, and provide that they shall bury me as
a rich priest.' So Na-nefer-ka-ptah called his lad and told him to give
the priest a hundred pieces of silver; and he made them do as he wished,
even everything that he asked for. Then the priest said to
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, 'This book is in the middle of the river at Koptos, in
an iron box; in the iron box is a bronze box; in the bronze box is a
sycamore box; in the sycamore box is an ivory and ebony box; in the
ivory and ebony box is a silver box; in the silver box is a golden box,
and in that is the book. It is twisted all round with snakes and
scorpions and all the other crawling things around the box in which the
book is; and there is a deathless snake by the box.' And when the priest
told Na-nefer-ka-ptah, he did not know where on earth he was, he was so
much delighted.

"And when he came from the temple he told me all that had happened to
him. And he said, 'I shall go to Koptos, for I must fetch this book; I
will not stay any longer in the north.' And I said, 'Let me dissuade
you, for you prepare sorrow and you will bring me into trouble in the
Thebaid.' And I laid my hand on Na-nefer-ka-ptah, to keep him from going
to Koptos, but he would not listen to me; and he went to the king, and
told the king all that the priest had said. The king asked him, 'What is
it that you want?' and he replied, 'Let them give me the royal boat with
its belongings, for I will go to the south with Ahura and her little boy
Mer-ab, and fetch this book without delay.' So they gave him the royal
boat with its belongings, and we went with him to the haven, and sailed
from there up to Koptos.

"Then the priests of Isis of Koptos, and the high priest of Isis, came
down to us without waiting, to meet Na-nefer-ka-ptah, and their wives
also came to me. We went into the temple of Isis and Harpokrates; and
Na-nefer-ka-ptah brought an ox, a goose, and some wine, and made a
burnt-offering and a drink-offering before Isis of Koptos and
Harpokrates. They brought us to a very fine house, with all good things;
and Na-nefer-ka-ptah spent four days there and feasted with the priests
of Isis of Koptos, and the wives of the priests of Isis also made
holiday with me.

"And the morning of the fifth day came; and Na-nefer-ka-ptah called a
priest to him, and made a magic cabin that was full of men and tackle.
He put the spell upon it, and put life in it, and gave them breath, and
sank it in the water. He filled the royal boat with sand, and took leave
of me, and sailed from the haven: and I sat by the river at Koptos that
I might see what would become of him. And he said, 'Workmen, work for
me, even at the place where the book is.' And they toiled by night and
by day; and when they had reached it in three days, he threw the sand
out, and made a shoal in the river. And then he found on it entwined
serpents and scorpions and all kinds of crawling things around the box
in which the book was; and by it he found a deathless snake around the
box. And he laid the spell upon the entwined serpents and scorpions and
all kinds of crawling things which were around the box, that they should
not come out. And he went to the deathless snake, and fought with
him, and killed him; but he came to life again, and took a new form. He
then fought again with him a second time; but he came to life again, and
took a third form. He then cut him in two parts, and put sand
between the parts, that he should not appear again.

"Na-nefer-ka-ptah then went to the place where he found the box. He
uncovered a box of iron, and opened it; he found then a box of bronze,
and opened that; then he found a box of sycamore wood, and opened that;
again, he found a box of ivory and ebony, and opened that; yet, he found
a box of silver, and opened that; and then he found a box of gold; he
opened that, and found the book in it. He took the book from the golden
box, and read a page of spells from it. He enchanted the heaven and the
earth, the abyss, the mountains, and the sea; he knew what the birds of
the sky, the fish of the deep, and the beasts of the hills all said. He
read another page of the spells, and saw the sun shining in the sky,
with all the gods, the full moon, and the stars in their shapes; he saw
the fishes of the deep, for a divine power was present that brought them
up from the water. He then read the spell upon the workmen that he had
made, and taken from the haven, and said to them, 'Work for me, back to
the place from which I came.' And they toiled night and day, and so he
came back to the place where I sat by the river of Koptos; I had not
drunk nor eaten anything, and had done nothing on earth, but sat like
one who is gone to the grave.

"I then told Na-nefer-ka-ptah that I wished to see this book, for which
we had taken so much trouble. He gave the book into my hands; and when I
read a page of the spells in it I also enchanted heaven and earth, the
abyss, the mountains, and the sea; I also knew what the birds of the
sky, the fishes of the deep, and the beasts of the hills all said. I
read another page of the spells, and I saw the sun shining in the sky
with all the gods, the full moon, and the stars in their shapes; I saw
the fishes of the deep, for a divine power was present that brought them
up from the water. As I could not write, I asked Na-nefer-ka-ptah, who
was a good writer, and a very learned one; he called for a new piece of
papyrus, and wrote on it all that was in the book before him. He dipped
it in beer, and washed it off in the liquid; for he knew that if it were
washed off, and he drank it, he would know all that there was in the

"We returned back to Koptos the same day, and made a feast before Isis
of Koptos and Harpokrates. We then went to the haven and sailed, and
went northward of Koptos. And as we went on Thoth discovered all that
Na-nefer-ka-ptah had done with the book; and Thoth hastened to tell Ra,
and said, 'Now know that my book and my revelation are with
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, son of the King Mer-neb-ptah. He has forced himself
into my place, and robbed it, and seized my box with the writings, and
killed my guards who protected it.' And Ra replied to him, 'He is before
you, take him and all his kin.'He sent a power from heaven with the
command, 'Do not let Na-nefer-ka-ptah return safe to Memphis with all
his kin.' And after this hour, the little boy Mer-ab, going out from the
awning of the royal boat, fell into the river: he called on Ra, and
everybody who was on the bank raised a cry. Na-nefer-ka-ptah went out of
the cabin, and read the spell over him; he brought his body up because a
divine power brought him to the surface. He read another spell over him,
and made him tell of all what happened to him, and of what Thoth had
said before Ra.

"We turned back with him to Koptos. We brought him to the Good House, we
fetched the people to him, and made one embalm him; and we buried him in
his coffin in the cemetery of Koptos like a great and noble person.

"And Na-nefer-ka-ptah, my brother, said, 'Let us go down, let us not
delay, for the king has not yet heard of what has happened to him, and
his heart will be sad about it.' So we went to the haven, we sailed, and
did not stay to the north of Koptos. When we were come to the place
where the little boy Mer-ab had fallen in the water, I went out from the
awning of the royal boat, and I fell into the river. They called
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, and he came out from the cabin of the royal boat; he
read a spell over me, and brought my body up, because a divine power
brought me to the surface. He drew me out, and read the spell over me,
and made me tell him of all that had happened to me, and of what Thoth
had said before Ra.  Then he turned back with me to Koptos, he brought
me to the Good House, he fetched the people to me, and made one embalm
me, as great and noble people are buried, and laid me in the tomb where
Mer-ab my young child was.

"He turned to the haven, and sailed down, and delayed not in the north
of Koptos. When he was come to the place where we fell into the river,
he said to his heart, 'Shall I not better turn back again to Koptos,
that I may lie by them? For, if not, when I go down to Memphis, and the
king asks after his children, what shall I say to him? Can I tell him,
"I have taken your children to the Thebaid, and killed them, while I
remained alive, and I have come to Memphis still alive"?' Then he made
them bring him a linen cloth of striped byssus; he made a band, and
bound the book firmly, and tied it upon him. Na-nefer-ka-ptah then went
out of the awning of the royal boat and fell into the river. He cried on
Ra; and all those who were on the bank made an outcry, saying, 'Great
woe! Sad woe! Is he lost, that good scribe and able man that has no

"The royal boat went on, without any one on earth knowing where
Na-nefer-ka-ptah was. It went on to Memphis, and they told all this to
the king. Then the king went down to the royal boat in mourning, and all
the soldiers and high priests and priests of Ptah were in mourning, and
all the officials and courtiers. And when he saw Na-nefer-ka-ptah, who
was in the inner cabin of the royal boat--from his rank of high
scribe--he lifted him up. And they saw the book by him; and the king
said, 'Let one hide this book that is with him.' And the officers of the
king, the priests of Ptah, and the high priest of Ptah, said to the
king, 'Our Lord, may the king live as long as the sun! Na-nefer-ka-ptah
was a good scribe, and a very skilful man.' And the king had him laid in
his Good House to the sixteenth day, and then had him wrapped to the
thirty-fifth day, and laid him out to the seventieth day, and then had
him put in his grave in his resting-place.

"I have now told you the sorrow which has come upon us because of this
book for which you ask, saying, 'Let it be given to me.' You have no
claim to it; and, indeed, for the sake of it, we have given up our life
on earth."

And Setna said to Ahura, "Give me the book which I see between you and
Na-nefer-ka-ptah; for if you do not I will take it by force." Then
Na-nefer-ka-ptah rose from his seat and said, "Are you Setna, to whom
my wife has told of all these blows of fate, which you have not
suffered? Can you take this book by your skill as a good scribe? If,
indeed, you can play games with me, let us play a game, then, of 52
points." And Setna said, "I am ready," and the board and its pieces were
put before him. And Na-nefer-ka-ptah won a game from Setna; and he put
the spell upon him, and defended himself with the game board that was
before him, and sunk him into the ground above his feet. He did the same
at the second game, and won it from Setna, and sunk him into the ground
to his waist.

He did the same at the third game, and made him sink into the ground up
to his ears. Then Setna struck Na-nefer-ka-ptah a great blow with his
hand. And Setna called his brother An-he-hor-eru and said to him.

"Make haste and go up upon earth, and tell the king all that has
happened to me, and bring me the talisman of my father Ptah, and my
magic books."

And he hurried up upon earth, and told the king all that had happened to
Setna. The king said, "Bring him the talisman of his father Ptah, and
his magic books." And An-he-hor-eru hurried down into the tomb; he laid
the talisman on Setna, and he sprang up again immediately. And then
Setna reached out his hand for the book, and took it. Then--as Setna
went out from the tomb--there went a Light before him, and Darkness
behind him. And Ahura wept at him, and she said, "Glory to the King of
Darkness! Hail to the King of Light! all power is gone from the tomb."
But Na-nefer-ka-ptah said to Ahura, "Do not let your heart be sad; I
will make him bring back this book, with a forked stick in his hand, and
a fire-pan on his head." And Setna went out from the tomb, and it closed
behind him as it was before.

Then Setna went to the king, and told him everything that had happened
to him with the book. And the king said to Setna, "Take back the book to
the grave of Na-nefer-ka-ptah, like a prudent man, or else he will make
you bring it with a forked stick in your hand, and a fire-pan on your
head." But Setna would not listen to him; and when Setna had unrolled
the book he did nothing on earth but read it to everybody.

[Here follows a story of how Setna, walking in the court of the temple
of Ptah, met Tabubua, a fascinating girl, daughter of a priest of Bast,
of Ankhtaui; how she repelled his advances, until she had beguiled him
into giving up all his possessions, and slaying his children. At the
last she gives a fearful cry and vanishes, leaving Setna bereft of even
his clothes. This would seem to be merely a dream, by the disappearance
of Tabubua, and by Setna finding his children alive after it all; but on
the other hand he comes to his senses in an unknown place, and is so
terrified as to be quite ready to make restitution to Na-nefer-ka-ptah.
The episode, which is not creditable to Egyptian society, seems to be
intended for one of the vivid dreams which the credulous readily accept
as half realities.]

So Setna went to Memphis, and embraced his children for that they were
alive. And the king said to him, "Were you not drunk to do so?" Then
Setna told all things that had happened with Tabubua and
Na-nefer-ka-ptah. And the king said, "Setna, I have already lifted up my
hand against you before, and said, 'He will kill you if you do not take
back the book to the place you took it from.' But you have never
listened to me till this hour. Now, then, take the book to
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, with a forked stick in your hand, and a fire-pan on
your head."

So Setna went out from before the king, with a forked stick in his hand,
and a fire-pan on his head. He went down to the tomb in which was
Na-nefer-ka-ptah.  And Ahura said to him, "It is Ptah, the great god,
that has brought you back safe." Na-nefer-ka-ptah laughed, and he said,
"This is the business that I told you before." And when Setna had
praised Na-nefer-ka-ptah, he found it as the proverb says, "The sun was
in the whole tomb." And Ahura and Na-nefer-ka-ptah besought Setna
greatly. And Setna said, "Na-nefer-ka-ptah, is it aught disgraceful
(that you lay on me to do)?" And Na-nefer-ka-ptah said, "Setna, you know
this, that Ahura and Mer-ab, her child, behold! they are in Koptos;
bring them here into this tomb, by the skill of a good scribe. Let it be
impressed upon you to take pains, and to go to Koptos to bring them
here." Setna then went out from the tomb to the king, and told the king
all that Na-nefer-ka-ptah had told him.

The king said, "Setna, go to Koptos and bring back Ahura and Mer-ab." He
answered the king, "Let one give me the royal boat and its belongings."
And they gave him the royal boat and its belongings, and he left the
haven, and sailed without stopping till he came to Koptos.

And they made this known to the priests of Isis at Koptos and to the
high priest of Isis; and behold they came down to him, and gave him
their hand to the shore. He went up with them and entered into the
temple of Isis of Koptos and of Harpo-krates. He ordered one to offer
for him an ox, a goose, and some wine, and he made a burnt-offering and
a drink-offering before Isis of Koptos and Harpokrates. He went to the
cemetery of Koptos with the priests of Isis and the high priest of Isis.
They dug about for three days and three nights, for they searched even
in all the catacombs which were in the cemetery of Koptos; they turned
over the steles of the scribes of the "double house of life," and read
the inscriptions that they found on them. But they could not find the
resting-place of Ahura and Mer-ab.

Now Na-nefer-ka-ptah perceived that they could not find the
resting-place of Ahura and her child Mer-ab. So he raised himself up as
a venerable, very old, ancient, and came before Setna. And Setna saw
him, and Setna said to the ancient, "You look like a very old man, do
you know where is the resting-place of Ahura and her child Mer-ab?"
The ancient said to Setna, "It was told by the father of the father of
my father to the father of my father, and the father of my father has
told it to my father; the resting-place of Ahura and of her child Mer-ab
is in a mound south of the town of Pehemato (?)" And Setna said to the
ancient, "Perhaps we may do damage to Pehemato, and you are ready to
lead one to the town for the sake of that." The ancient replied to
Setna, "If one listens to me, shall he therefore destroy the town of
Pehemato! If they do not find Ahura and her child Mer-ab under the south
corner of their town may I be disgraced." They attended to the ancient,
and found the resting-place of Ahura and her child Mer-ab under the
south corner of the town of Pehemato. Setna laid them in the royal boat
to bring them as honoured persons, and restored the town of Pehemato as
it originally was. And Na-nefer-ka-ptah made Setna to know that it was
he who had come to Koptos, to enable them to find out where the
resting-place was of Ahura and her child Mer-ab.

So Setna left the haven in the royal boat, and sailed without stopping,
and reached Memphis with all the soldiers who were with him. And when
they told the king he came down to the royal boat. He took them as
honoured persons escorted to the catacombs, in which Na-nefer-ka-ptah
was, and smoothed down the ground over them.

_This is the completed writing of the tale of Setna Kha-em-uast, and
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, and his wife Ahura, and their Mid Mer-ab. It was
written in the 35th year, the month Tybi._


This tale of Setna only exists in one copy, a demotic papyrus in the
Ghizeh Museum. The demotic was published in facsimile by Mariette in
1871, among "Les Papyrus du Musee de Boulaq;" and it has been
translated by Brugsch, Revillout, Maspero, and Hess. The last
version--"Der Demotische Roman von Stne Ha-m-us, von J. J. Hess"--being
a full study of the text with discussion and glossary, has been followed
here; while the interpretation of Maspero has also been kept in view in
the rendering of obscure passages.

Unhappily the opening of this tale is lost, and I have therefore
restored it by a recital of the circumstances which are referred to in
what remains. Nothing has been introduced which is not necessarily
involved or stated in the existing text. The limit of this restoration
is marked by ]; the papyrus beginning with the words, "It is you who are
not dealing rightly with me."

The construction is complicated by the mixture of times and persons; and
we must remember that it was written in the Ptolemaic period concerning
an age long past. It stood to the author much as Tennyson's "Harold"
stands to us, referring to an historical age, without too strict a tie
to facts and details. Five different acts, as we may call them, succeed
one another. In the first act--which is entirely lost, and here only
outlined--the circumstances which led Setna of the XIXth Dynasty to
search for the magic book must have been related. In the second act
Ahura recites the long history of herself and family, to deter Setna
from his purpose. This act is a complete tale by itself, and belongs to
a time some generations before Setna; it is here supposed to belong to
the time of Amenhotep III., in the details of costume adopted for
illustration. The third act is Setna's struggle as a rival magician to
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, from which he finally comes off victorious by his
brother's use of a talisman, and so secures possession of the coveted
magic book. The fourth act--which I have here only summarised--shows how
Na-nefer-ka-ptah resorts to a bewitchment of Setna by a sprite, by
subjection to whom he loses his magic power. The fifth act shows Setna
as subjected to Na-nefer-ka-ptah, and ordered by him to bring the bodies
of his wife and child to Memphis into his tomb.

While, therefore, the sentimental climax of the tale--the restoration of
the unity of the family in one tomb--belongs to persons of the XVIIIth
Dynasty, the action of the tale is entirely of the XIXth Dynasty, for
what happened in the XVIIIth Dynasty (second act) is all related in the
XIXth. And the actual composition of it belongs to Ptolemaic times, not
only on the evidence of the manuscript, but also of the language; this
being certified by the importance of Isis and Horus at Koptos, which is
essentially a late worship there.

Turning now to the details, we may note that the statement that Setna
Kha-em-uast was a son of User-maat-ra (or Ramessu II.) occurs in the
fourth act which is here only summarised. Among the sons of Ramessu
historically known, the Prince Kha-em-uast (or "Glory-in-Thebes") was
the most important; he appears to have been the eldest son, exercising
the highest offices during his father's life. That the succession fell
on the thirteenth son, Mer-en-ptah, was doubtless due to the elder sons
having died during the preternaturally long reign of Ramessu.

The other main personage here is Na-nefer-ka-ptah (or "Excellent is the
_ka_ of Ptah"), who is said to be the son of a King Mer-neb-ptah. No
such name is known among historical kings; and it is probably a popular
corruption or abbreviation. It was pronounced Minibptah, the r being
dropped in early times. It would seem most like Mine-ptah or
Mer-en-ptah, the son and successor of Ramessu II.; but as the date of
Mer-neb-ptah is supposed to be some generations before that, such a
supposition would involve a great confusion on the scribes' part.
Another possibility is that it represents Amenhotep III.,
Neb-maat-ra-mer-ptah, pronounced as Nimu-rimiptah, which might be
shortened to Neb-mer-ptah or Mer-neb-ptah. Such a time would well suit
the tale, and that reign has been adopted here in fixing the style of
the dress of Ahura and her family.

This tale shows how far the _ka_ or double might wander from its body or
tomb. Here Ahura and her child lie buried at Koptos, while her husband's
tomb is at Memphis. But that does not separate them in death; her _ka_
left her tomb and went down to Memphis to live with the _ka_ of her
husband in his tomb. Thus, when Setna forces the tomb of
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, he finds Ahura seated by him with the precious magic
roll between them and the child Mer-ab; and the voluble Ahura recounts
all their history, and weeps when the roll is carried away by Setna. Yet
all the time her body is at Koptos, and the penalty imposed on Setna is
that of bringing her body to the tomb where her _ka_ already was
dwelling. If a _ka_ could thus wander so many hundred miles from its
body to gratify its affections, it would doubtless run some risks of
starving, or having to put up with impure food; or might even lose its
way, and rather than intrude on the wrong tomb, have to roam as a
vagabond _ka._ It was to guard against these misfortunes that a supply
of formulas were provided for it, by which it should obtain a guarantee
against such misfortunes--a kind of spiritual directory or guide to the
unprotected; and such formulas, when once accepted as valid, were
copied, repeated, enlarged, and added to, until they became the complex
and elaborate work--The Book of the Dead, Perhaps nothing else
gives such a view of the action of the _ka_ as this tale of Setna.

There is here also an insight into the arrangement of marriages in
Egypt. It does not seem that anything was determined about a marriage
during childhood; it is only when the children are full-grown that a
dispute arises between the king and queen as to their disposal. But the
parents decide the whole question. It is, of course, well known that the
Egyptians had no laws against consanguinity in marriages; on the
contrary, it was with them, as with the Persians, essential for a king
to marry in the royal family, and also usual for private persons to
marry in their family. Even to the present day in Egypt, although
sister-marriage has disappeared, yet it is the duty of a man to marry
his first cousin or some one in the family. The very idea of
relationship being any possible impediment to marriage was un-thought of
by the Egyptian; his favourite concrete expression for a self-existent
or self-created being--"husband of his mother "--shows this unmistakably.

The objection made by the king to the marriage of Na-nefer-ka-ptah and
Ahura turns on the point that he has only these two children, and hence,
if they marry the children of the generals, there will be two families
instead of only one to ensure future posterity. The queen, however,
talks the king over on the matter. The cause of Ahura's being troubled
at the feast is not certain, but the king evidently supposes that she
has been pleading to be allowed to marry her beloved brother, and when
taxed with it she only expresses her willingness to give way to his
exogamic views. The brief sentence, "I laughed and the king laughed,"
seems to mean that she pleased and amused her father so that he gave
way, and immediately told the steward to arrange for her marriage as she
desired. I have here abbreviated a few needlessly precise details. We
also learn, by the way, that there was a regular registry of births, in
which Mer-ab was entered.

It appears that the court was considered to be at Memphis, and not at
Thebes. This would not have been so arranged had this been written in
the Ramesside times, but under the Ptolemies Memphis was the seat of the
court--when not at Alexandria. The name of the priest, Nesi-ptah, also
shows another anachronism. Such a name was not usual till some time
after the XIXth Dynasty. Another touch of late times is in the
antiquarian curiosity of Na-nefer-ka-ptah about ancient writings, "He
did nothing on earth but read the writings that are in the catacombs of
the kings, and the tablets of the House of Life." In the XIXth Dynasty
there is no sign of interest in such records, but in the Renascence
ancient things came into fashion, all the old titles were revived, the
old style was copied, and very long genealogies were worked up and
carved in the inscriptions. In such an age many a _dilettante_ rich
young man would amuse himself, as in this tale, with reading inscriptions
and hunting up his family genealogy from the tombstones and the registers.

The firm belief in magic which underlies all this tale might perhaps be
thought to be inappropriate to the enlightenment of Greek times. We have
seen how in the earliest tales magic is a mainspring of the action, and
it is at first sight surprising that its sway should last through so
many thousands of years. But there may well have been a recrudescence of
such beliefs, along with the revival of interest in the earlier history.
The enormous spread and popularity of Gnosticism--the belief in the
efficacy of words and formulas to control spirits and their actions--in
the centuries immediately after this, shows how ingrained magic ideas
were, and how ready to sprout up when the counterbalancing interests of
the old mythology were gone, and their place taken by the intangible
spirituality of Platonism and the early Christian atmosphere.

A most Egyptian turn is given where the priest bargains for a large
payment for his funeral, and to be buried as a rich priest. The
enclosing of the magic roll in a series of boxes has many parallels. In
an Indian tale we read: "Round the tree are tigers and bears and
scorpions and snakes; on the top of the tree is a very fat great snake;
on his head is a little cage; in the cage is a bird; and my soul is in
that bird" ("Golden Bough," ii. 300). In Celtic tales the series-idea
also occurs. The soul of a giant is in an egg, the egg is in a dove, the
dove is in a hare, the hare is in a wolf, and the wolf is in an iron
chest at the bottom of the sea ("Golden Bough," ii. 314). The Tartars
have stories of a golden casket containing the soul, inside a copper or
silver casket ("Golden Bough," ii. 324). And the Arabs tell of a soul
put in the crop of a sparrow, and the sparrow in a little box, and this
in another small box, and this put into seven other boxes, and these in
seven chests, and the chest in a coffer of marble ("Golden 10
Bough," ii. 318). The notion, therefore, of a series of boxes, one
enclosing another, and the whole guarded by dangerous animals, is well
known as an element in tales. The late date is here shown by the largest
and least precious of the boxes being of iron, which was rarely, if
ever, used in Ramesside times, and was not common till the Greek age.

The magic engineering of Na-nefer-ka-ptah is very curious. The cabin or
air-chamber of men in model, who are let down to work for him, suggests
that Egyptians may have used the principle of a diving-bell or
air-chamber for reaching parts under water. Certainly the device of
raising things by dropping down sand to be put under them is still
practised. An immense sarcophagus at Gizeh was raised from a deep well
by natives who thrust sand under it rammed tight by a stick, and by this
simple kind of hydraulic press raised it a hundred feet to the surface.
In this way the magic men of Na-nefer-ka-ptah raised up the chest when
they had discovered it by means of the sand which he poured over from
the boat.

There is some picturesqueness in this tale, though it has not the charm
of the earlier compositions. The scene of Ahura sitting for three days
and nights, during the combat, watching by the side of the river, where
she "had not drunk or eaten anything, and had done nothing on earth but
sat like one who is gone to the grave," is a touching detail.

The light on the education of women is curious. Ahura can read the roll,
but she cannot write. We are so accustomed to regard reading and writing
as all one subject that the distinction is rare; but with a writing
comprising so many hundred signs as the Egyptian, the art of writing or
draw-Ing all the forms, and knowing which to use, is far more complex
than that of reading. There are now ten students who can read an
inscription for one who could compose it correctly. Here a woman of the
highest rank is supposed to be able to read, but not to write; that is
reserved for the skill of "a good writer, and a very learned one."

The writing of spells and then washing the ink off and drinking it is a
familiar idea in the East. Modern Egyptian bowls have charms engraved on
them to be imparted to the drink, and ancient Babylonian bowls are
inscribed with the like purpose.

An insight into the powers of the gods is here given us. The Egyptian
did not attribute to them omniscience. Thoth only discovered what
Na-nefer-ka-ptah had done as they were sailing away, some days after the
seizure of the book. And even Ra is informed by the complaint of Thoth.
If Ra were the physical sun it would be obvious that he would see all
that was being done on earth; it would rather be he who would inform
Thoth. The conception of the gods must therefore have been not
pantheistic or materialist, but solely as spiritual powers who needed to
obtain information, and who only could act through intermediaries.
Further, nothing can be done without the consent of Ra; Thoth is
powerless over men, and can only ask Ra, as a sort of universal
magistrate, to take notice of the offence. Neither god acts directly,
but by means of a power or angel, who takes the commission to work on
men. How far this police-court conception of the gods is due to Greek or
foreign influence can hardly be estimated yet. It certainly does not
seem in accord with the earlier appeals to Ra, and direct action of Ra,
in "Anpu and Bata."

The power of spells is limited, as we have just seen the abilities of
the gods were limited. The most powerful of spells, the magic book of
Thoth himself, cannot restore life to a person just drowned. All that
Na-nefer-ka-ptah can do with the spell is to cause the body to float
and to speak, but it remains so truly dead that it is buried as if no
spell had been used. Now it was recognised that the _ka_ could move
about and speak to living persons, as Ahura does to Setna. Hence all
that the spells do is not to alter the course of nature, but only to put
the person into touch and communication with the ever-present
supernatural, to enable him to know what the birds, the fishes, and the
beasts all said, and to see the unseen.

Modern conceptions of the spiritual are so bound up with the sense of
omnipresence and omniscience that we are apt to read those ideas into
the gods and the magic of the ancients. Here we have to deal with gods
who have to obtain information, and who order powers to act for them,
with spells which extend the senses to the unseen, but which do not
affect natural results and changes.

The inexorable fate in this tale which brings one after another of the
family to die in the same spot is not due to Greek influence, though it
seems akin to that. In the irrepressible transmigrations of Bata, and
the successive risks of the Doomed Prince, the same ideas are seen
working in the Egyptian mind. The remorse of Na-nefer-ka-ptah is a
stronger touch of conscience and of shame than is seen in early times.

There is an unexplained point in the action as to how Na-nefer-ka-ptah,
with the book upon him, comes up from the water, after he is drowned,
into the cabin of the royal boat. The narrator had a difficulty to
account for the recovery of the body without the use of the magic book,
and so that stage is left unnoticed. The successive stages of embalming
and mourning are detailed. The sixteen days in the Good House is
probably the period of treatment of the body, the time up to the
thirty-fifth day that of wrapping and decoration of the mummy
cartonnage, and then the thirty-five days more of lying in state until
the burial.

We now reach the third act, of Setna's struggle to get the magic roll.
Here the strange episode comes in of the rival magicians gambling; it
recalls the old tale of Rampsinitus descending into Hades and playing at
dice with Ceres, and the frequent presence of draught-boards in the
tombs, shows how much the _ka_ was supposed to relish such pleasures.
The regular Egyptian game-board had three rows of ten squares, or thirty
in all. Such are found from the XIIth Dynasty down to Greek times; but
this form has now entirely disappeared, and the _man-galah_ of two rows
of six holes, or the _tab_ of four rows of nine holes, have taken its
place. Both of these are side games, where different sides belong to
opposite players. The commoner _siga_ is a square game, five rows of
five, or seven rows of seven holes, and has no personal sides. The
ancient game was played with two, or perhaps three, different kinds of
men, and the squares were counted from one end along the outer edge; but
what the rules were, or how a game of fifty-two points was managed, has
not yet been explained.

The strange scene of Setna being sunk into the ground portion by
portion, as he loses successive games, is parallel to a mysterious story
among the dervishes in Palestine. They tell how the three holy shekhs of
the Dervish orders, Bedawi, Erfa'i, and Desuki, went in succession to
Baghdad to ask for a jar of water of Paradise from the Derwisha Bint
Bari, who seems to be a sky-genius, controlling the meteors. The last
applicant, Desuki, was refused like the others; so he said, "Earth!
swallow her," and the earth swallowed her to her knees; still she gave
not the water, so he commanded the earth, and she was swallowed to her
waist; a third time she refused, and she was swallowed to her breasts;
she then asked him to marry her, which he would not; a fourth time she
refused the water and was swallowed to her neck. She then ordered a
servant to bring the water ("Palestine Exploration Statement, 1894," p.
32). The resemblance is most remarkable in two tales two thousand years
apart; and the incident of Bint Bari asking the dervish to marry her has
its connection with this tale. Had the dervish done so he
would--according to Eastern beliefs--have lost his magic power over her,
just as Setna loses his magic power by his alliance with Tabubua, to
which he is tempted by Na-nefer-ka-ptah, in order to subdue him. The
talisman here is a means of subduing magic powers, and is of more force
than that of Thoth, as Ptah is greater than he.

The fourth act recounts the overcoming of the power of Setna by
Na-nefer-ka-ptah, who causes Tabubua to lead to the loss of his superior
magic, and thus to subdue him to the magic of his rival. Ankhtaui, here
named as the place of Tabubua, was a quarter of Memphis, which is also
named as the place of the wife of Uba-aner in the first tale.

The fifth act describes the victory of Na-nefer-ka-ptah, and his
requiring Setna to reunite the family in his tomb at Memphis. The
contrast between Ahura's pious ascription to Ptah, and her husband's
chuckle at seeing his magic successful, is remarkable. Setna at once
takes the position of an inferior by addressing praises to
Na-nefer-ka-ptah: after which the tomb became bright as it was before he
took away the magic roll. Setna then having made restitution, is
required to give some compensation as well.

The search for the tomb of Ahura and Mer-ab is a most tantalising
passage. The great cemetery of Koptos is the scene, and the search
occupies three days and nights in the catacombs and on the steles.
Further, the tomb was at the south corner of the town of Pehemato, as
Maspero doubtfully reads it. Yet this cemetery is now quite unknown, and
in spite of all the searching of the native dealers, and the examination
which I have made on the desert of both sides of the Nile, it is a
mystery where the cemetery can be. The statement that the tomb was at
the south corner of a town pretty well excludes it from the desert,
which runs north and south there. And it seems as if it might have been
in some raised land in the plain, like the spur or shoal on which the
town of Koptos was built. If so it would have been covered by the ten to
twenty feet rise of the Nile deposits since the time of its former use.

The appearance of the ancient to guide Setna gives some idea of the time
that elapsed between then and the death of Ahura. The ancient, who must
be allowed to represent two or three generations, says that his
great-grandfather knew of the burial, which would take it back to five
or six generations. This would place the death of Ahura about 150 years
before the latter part of the reign of Ramessu II., say 1225 B.C.: thus,
being taken back to about 1375 B.C., would make her belong to the
generation after Amenhotep III., agreeing well with Mer-neb-ptah, being
a corruption of the name of that king. No argument could be founded on
so slight a basis; but at least there is no contradiction in the slight
indications which we can glean.

The fear of Setna is that this apparition may have come to bring him
into trouble by leading him to attack some property in this town; and
Setna is particularly said to have restored the ground as it was before,
after removing the bodies.

The colophon at the end is unhappily rather illegible. But the
thirty-fifth year precludes its belonging to the reign of any Ptolemy,
except the IInd or the VIIIth; and by the writing Maspero attributes it
to the earlier of these reigns.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Egyptian Tales, Translated from the Papyri - Second series, XVIIIth to XIXth dynasty" ***

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