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Tag: Khufu

Violent Love

“One of the earliest instances of the use of a magical figure is related in the Westcar Papyrus, (Ed. Erman, pp. 7 and 8) where we read that Prince Khâf-Râ told Khufu (Cheops) a story of an event which had happened in the time of Neb-ka or Neb-kau-Ed, a king of the IIIrd dynasty, who reigned about B.C. 3830.

It seems that this king once paid a visit to one of his high officials called Âba-aner, whose wife fell violently in love with one of the soldiers in the royal train.

This lady sent her tirewoman to him with the gift of a chest of clothes, and apparently she made known to him her mistress’s desire, for he returned with her to Âba-aner’s house. There he saw the wife and made an appointment to meet her in a little house which was situated on her husband’s estate, and she gave instructions to one of the stewards of Âba-aner to prepare it for the arrival of herself and her lover.

When all had been made ready she went to the house and stayed there the whole day drinking and making love with the man until sunset; and when the evening had come he rose up and went down to the river and the tirewoman bathed him in the water thereof.

But the steward, who had made ready the house, declared that he must make the matter known unto his master, and on the following morning as soon as it was light, he went to Âba-aner and related to him everything which had happened. The official made no answer to his servant’s report, but ordered him to bring him certain materials and his box made of ebony and precious metal.

Out of the box he took a quantity of wax, which was, no doubt, kept there for purposes similar to that to which a portion of it was now to be put, and made a model of a crocodile seven spans long, and then reciting certain magical words over it, he said, “When the man cometh down to bathe in my waters seize thou him.”

Then, turning to the steward, he gave the wax crocodile to him and said, “When the man, according to his daily wont, cometh down to wash in the water thou shalt cast the crocodile in after him”; and the steward having taken the wax crocodile from his master went his way.

And again the wife of Âba-aner ordered the steward who had charge of the estate to make ready the house which was in the garden, “for,” she said, “behold, I am coming to pass some time therein.”

So the house was made ready and provided with all good things, and she came with the man and passed some time with him there. Now when the evening was come the man went down to the water to wash according to his daily wont, and the steward went down after him and threw into the water the wax crocodile, which straightway turned into a living crocodile seven cubits (i.e., about twelve feet) in length, and seized upon the man and dragged him down in the water.

Meanwhile Âba-aner tarried with his king Neb-kau-Râ for seven days, and the man remained in the depths of the water and had no air to breathe. And on the seventh day Âba-aner the kher heb (i.e., the priestly official who performed the most important of the funeral ceremonies; he was always a man of great learning, and generally of high rank) went out with the king for a walk, and invited His Majesty to come and see for himself a wonderful thing which had happened to a man in his own days; so the king went with him.

When they had come to the water Âba-aner adjured the crocodile, saying, “Bring hither the man,” and the crocodile came out of the water bringing the man with him. And when the king remarked that the crocodile was a horrid looking monster, Âba-aner stooped down and took it up into his hand, when it straightway became a waxen crocodile as it was before.

After these things Âba-aner related to the king what had happened between his wife and the man whom the crocodile had brought up out of the water, whereupon the king said to the crocodile, “Take that which is thine and begone”; and immediately the crocodile seized the man and sprang into the water with him, and disappeared in its depths.

And by the royal command Âba-aner’s wife was seized, and having been led to the north side of the palace was burnt, and her ashes were cast into the stream. Here then we have already in the IIIrd dynasty the existence of a belief that a wax crocodile, over which certain words had been said, could change itself into a living reptile at pleasure, and that a man could be made by the same means to live at the bottom of a stream for seven days without air.

We may also notice that the great priestly official, the kher heb, was so much in the habit of performing such acts of magic that he kept in a room a box of materials and instruments always ready for the purpose; and, apparently, neither himself, nor his king, nor his servant, thought the working of magic inconsistent with his high religious office.

But at the time when Âba-aner was working magic by means of wax figures, probably to the harm and injury of his enemies, the priests were making provision for the happiness and well-being of the dead also by means of figures made of various substances.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 67-71.

The Ancient Egyptian “Song of the Harper”

“More interesting than any of the above songs is the so-called “Song of the Harper,” of which two copies are known: the first is found in the papyrus Harris 500, already mentioned, and the second in a papyrus at Leyden.

Extracts of this poem are also found on the walls of the tomb of Nefer-hetep at Thebes. The copy in the papyrus reads:

THE POEM THAT IS IN THE HALL OF THE TOMB OF [THE KING OF THE SOUTH, THE KING OF THE NORTH], ANTUF, [He was one of the kings of the eleventh dynasty, about 2700 B.C.] WHOSE WORD IS TRUTH, [AND IS CUT] IN FRONT OF THE HARPER.

“O good prince, it is a decree, And what hath been ordained thereby is well, That the bodies of men shall pass away and disappear, Whilst others remain.

Since the time of the oldest ancestors, The gods who lived in olden time, Who lie at rest in their sepulchres, The Masters and also the Shining Ones, Who have been buried in their splendid tombs, Who have built sacrificial halls in their tombs, Their place is no more. Consider what hath become of them!

I have heard the words of Imhetep [A high official of Tcheser, a king of the third dynasty] and Herutataf, [Son of Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid (fourth dynasty)].

Which are treasured above everything because they uttered them. Consider what hath become of their tombs! Their walls have been thrown down; Their places are no more; They are just as if they had never existed.

Not one [of them] cometh from where they are. Who can describe to us their form (or, condition), Who can describe to us their surroundings, Who can give comfort to our hearts, And can act as our guide To the place whereunto they have departed?

Give comfort to thy heart, And let thy heart forget these things; What is best for thee to do is To follow thy heart’s desire as long as thou livest.

Anoint thy head with scented unguents. Let thine apparel be of byssus Dipped in costly [perfumes], In the veritable products (?) of the gods.

Enjoy thyself more than thou hast ever done before, And let not thy heart pine for lack of pleasure.

Pursue thy heart’s desire and thine own happiness. Order thy surroundings on earth in such a way That they may minister to the desire of thy heart; [For] at length that day of lamentation shall come, Wherein he whose heart is still shall not hear the lamentation. Never shall cries of grief cause To beat [again] the heart of a man who is in the grave.

Therefore occupy thyself with thy pleasure daily, And never cease to enjoy thyself.

Behold, a man is not permitted To carry his possessions away with him. Behold, there never was any one who, having departed, Was able to come back again.”

–E.A. Wallis Budge, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, pp. 109-10.

The Oldest Prayer in the World?

“Another prayer of special interest is that which forms Chapter XXXB.

This is put into the mouth of the deceased when he is standing in the Hall of Judgment watching the weighing of his heart in the Great Scales by Anubis and Thoth, in the presence of the Great Company of the gods and Osiris.

He says: “My heart, my mother. My heart, my mother. My heart whereby I came into being. Let none stand up to oppose me at my judgment. May there be no opposition to me in the presence of the Tchatchau [The chief officers of Osiris, the divine Taskmasters]. Mayest thou not be separated from me in the presence of the Keeper of the Balance. Thou art my Ka (i.e. Double, or vital power), that dwelleth in my body; the god Khnemu who knitteth together and strengthened my limbs.

Mayest thou come forth into the place of happiness whither we go. May the Shenit officers who decide the destinies of the lives of men not cause my name to stink [before Osiris]. Let it (i.e. the weighing) be satisfactory unto us, and let there be joy of heart to us at the weighing of words (i.e.  the Great Judgment). Let not that which is false be uttered against me before the Great God, the Lord of Amentet (i.e. Osiris). Verily thou shalt be great when thou risest up [having been declared] a speaker of the truth.”

In many papyri this prayer is followed by a Rubric, which orders that it is to be said over a green stone scarab set in a band of tchamu metal (i.e. silver-gold), which is to be hung by a ring from the neck of the deceased. Some Rubrics order it to be placed in the breast of a mummy, where it is to take the place of the heart, and say that it will “open the mouth” of the deceased.

A tradition which is as old as the twelfth dynasty says that the Chapter was discovered in the town of Khemenu (Hermopolis Magna) by Herutataf, the son of Khufu, in the reign of Menkaura, a king of the fourth dynasty. It was cut in hieroglyphs, inlaid with lapis-lazuli on a block of alabaster, which was set under the feet of Thoth, and was therefore believed to be a most powerful prayer.

We know that this prayer was recited by the Egyptians in the Ptolemaic Period, and thus it is clear that it was in common use for a period of nearly four thousand years. It may well be the oldest prayer in the world.

–E.A. Wallis Budge, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, 1914, pp. 26-7.

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