Sacred Texts  Ancient Near East  Records of the Past  Egypt  Index  Previous  Next 

Records of the Past, 2nd series, Vol. II, ed. by A. H. Sayce, [1888], at

p. 40


It happened that the land of Egypt belonged to the Impure, 1 and as there was no lord monarch that day, it happened then that the king Soqnun-rî 2 was sovereign over the country of the South, and that the Impure of the city of Ra 3 were subject to Ra-Apôpi 4 in Hâuâru5 the entire country paid him tribute together with its manufactured products and so loaded him with all the good things of To-miri. 6 Now the king Ra-Apôpi took the god Sutekhu for his master, and he no longer served any (other) deity who was in the whole country excepting only Sutekhu, and he built a temple of excellent and imperishable workmanship at the gate of the king Ra-Apôpi, and he arose each day to sacrifice daily victims to Sutekhu; and the vassal chiefs of the sovereign were there with garlands of flowers, just as is the case in the temple of Ph-Ra-Har-ma-khuti.

p. 41

[paragraph continues] And the king Ra-Apôpi bethought himself of sending a message to announce it to the king Soqnun-rî, the prince of the city of the South. 1 And many days after that, the king Ra-Apôpi summoned his great chiefs.…

[The text is interrupted here and begins again at the top of page 2: when it recommences after an almost complete lacuna of five lines and a half we find phrases which evidently belong to the message of king Apôpi. Now numerous texts teach us that a message entrusted to a person is always repeated by him almost word for word; we can therefore feel convinced that the two lines put into the mouth of the envoy on page 2, were already contained in the lost lines of page 1, and in fact, the small isolated fragment at the foot of the published facsimile contains the remains of characters which exactly correspond to the sentences of the message. This first version of the message, accordingly, was put into the mouth of the royal councillors; but who were these councillors? Were they the "great chiefs" who were summoned at the point where the text breaks off? That is impossible, as in the fragments of line 7 mention is made of "the learned scribes," and in line 2 of page 2 it is expressly stated that Apôpi sent to Soqnun-rî the message "which his learned scribes had repeated to him." We must therefore admit that Apôpi, after consulting his civil and military chiefs, was counselled to apply to his scribes. The words of the latter begin at the end of line 7 with the customary exclamation: "O suzerain, our master!" In short, for the whole of this first part of the lacuna we have a consultation similar to that carried on afterwards at the court of Soqnun-rî, and in the story of the Two Brothers, when the Pharaoh desires to discover the owner of the curl which perfumed his linen. Consequently I continue the tale as follows:] And many days after that, the king Ra-Apôpi summoned his great chiefs, as well as his captains and his prudent generals, but they could not suggest to him a speech which was good to send to the king Soqnun-rî the chief of the country of the South. So the king Apôpi summoned his scribes versed in magic. They

p. 42

said to him: "O suzerain, our master." … 1 and they suggested to the king Ra-Apôpi the discourse which he desired: Let a messenger go to the chief of the city of the South and say to him: The king Ra-Apôpi sends to say: Let the hippopotamuses which are in the canals of the country be chased on the pool, in order that they may allow sleep to visit me night and day.…"

[A line and a half, perhaps even more, still remains to be supplied. Here again, the sequel permits us to restore the sense, if not the letter, of what is wanting in the text. We see that after having received the message recounted above, king Soqnun-rî assembles his council, which is perplexed and at a loss for an answer; whereupon king Apôpi sends a second embassy. It is evident that the embarrassment and silence of the Thebans were foreseen by the scribes of Apôpi, and that the part of their advice which is preserved at the top of page 2 contained the end of the second message which Apôpi was to send, if the first met with no reply. In similar stories, some extraordinary action is described which has to be performed by one of two kings; the penalty is always stated to which he must submit in case of ill-success and the reward he will receive in case of success. There must have been a similar description in the Legend, and I therefore propose to restore the text as follows:]

He will not know what to answer, whether good or bad: then thou shalt send him another message: "The king Ra-Apôpi sends saying: If the chief of the South cannot answer my message, let him serve no other god than Sutekhu! But if he answers it, and does that which I bid him do, 2 then I will take nothing from him, and I will no more bow down before any other god of the land of Egypt except Amon-Ra the king of the gods!"

And many days after that, the king Ra-Apôpi sent to the prince of the country of the South the message which his scribes versed in magic had suggested to him; and the messenger of the king Ra-Apôpi came to the chief of the

p. 43

land of the South. He said to the messenger of the king Ra-Apôpi: "What message dost thou bring to the land of the South? Why hast thou made this journey?" The messenger replied: "The king Ra-Apôpi sends to say: Let the hippopotamuses which are in the canals of the country be chased on the pool, in order that they may allow sleep to visit me day and night.…" The chief of the land of the South was astounded and knew not what answer to make to the messenger of the king Ra-Apôpi. So the chief of the land of the South said to the messenger: "This is what thy master sends to … the chief of the land of the South … the words which he has sent me … his goods.…" The chief of the land of the South caused all kinds of good things, meats, cakes, … (and) wine to be given to the messenger; then he said to him: "Return and tell thy master … all that which thou hast said, I approve.…" The messenger of the king Ra-Apôpi set himself to return to the place where his master was. Then the chief of the South summoned his great chiefs as well as his captains and his able generals, and he repeated to them all the message which the king Ra-Apôpi had sent to him. Then they were silent with a single mouth for a long moment (of time), and did not know what answer to make whether good or bad.

The king Ra-Apôpi sent to the chief of the land of the South the other message which his scribes versed in magic had suggested to him.…

[It is unfortunate that the text is broken just in this place. The three Pharaohs who bore the name of Soqnun-rî reigned during a troublous period and must have left enduring memories in the minds of the Theban people. They were active and warlike princes, and the last of them perished by a violent death, perhaps in battle against the Hyksos. He had shaved his beard the morning before, "arraying himself for the combat like the god Montu," as the Egyptian scribes would say. His courage led him to penetrate too far into the ranks of the enemy; he was surrounded and slain before his companions could rescue him. The blow of an axe removed part of his left cheek and laid

p. 44

bare the teeth, striking the jaw and felling him stunned to the ground; a second blow entered far within the skull, a dagger or short lance splitting the forehead on the right side a little above the eye. The Egyptians recovered the body and embalmed it in haste, when already partially decomposed, before sending it to Thebes and the tomb of his ancestors. The features of the mummy, now in the Museum of Boulaq, still show the violence and fury of the struggle; a large white piece of brain is spread over the forehead, the retracted lips uncover the jaw and the tongue is bitten between the teeth. 1 The author of the Legend may probably have continued his story down to the tragic end of his hero. The scribe to whom we owe the papyrus on which it is inscribed must certainly have intended to complete the tale; he had recopied the last lines on the reverse of one of the pages, and was preparing to continue it when some accident intervened to prevent his doing so. Perhaps the professor at whose dictation he appears to have written did not himself know the end of the Legend. It is probable, however, that it went on to describe how Soqnun-rî, after long hesitation, succeeded in escaping from the embarrassing dilemma in which his powerful rival had attempted to place him. His answer must have been as odd and extraordinary as the message of Apôpi, but we have no means even of conjecturing what it was.]


40:1 This is one of the insulting epithets lavished by the resentment of the scribes on the Shepherds or Hyksos and the other foreigners who had, occupied Egypt.

40:2 This is the most probable pronunciation of the name usually and wrongly transcribed Ra-skenen. Three kings of Egypt bore this praenomen, two of the name of Tiu-âa and one of the name of Tiu-âa-qen, who reigned some years before Ahmosi the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

40:3 That is Heliopolis, the On of the North, the daughter of whose priest was married by Joseph.

40:4 As it had been repeatedly advanced that Apôpi, being an Hyksos, could not possibly add the title of Ra to his name, I beg to state here that the dot which represents the cursive hieratic form of the disk is as perfectly legible in the original manuscript as it is in the facsimile.

40:5 The Avaris of Manetho, the Egyptian fortress of the Shepherd-kings. E. de Rougé has shown that Avaris was one of the names of Tanis, the Zoan of the Old Testament.

40:6 Lower Egypt.

41:1 Thebes.

42:1 This line must contain a compliment to the king.

42:2 The part of the text which is preserved recommences here.

44:1 Maspero: Les Momies royales d’Egypte récemment mises au jour, pp. 14, 15.

Next: Introduction