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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  5.1


EPITAPH OF TATHOTIS


Text:   Vienna 5857
Date:   late 3rd century B.C.
Language:   Hieroglyphic
Translated by:   G Vittmann
Format:   see key to translations

Tathotis, who is otherwise unknown, is portrayed here as an ideal Egyptian wife and mother, favoured by the goddess Hathor. This English translation is adapted from the German translation by G. Vittmann, "Die Autobiographie der Tathotis" ( academia.edu ). There is another translation of most of the text by J. Rowlandson, "Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt", no. 272 ( Google Books ).


Mistress of the house of the Two Eyes of the king of Upper Egypt, the royal clerk who calculates all things and oversees the store, Tjaanhuremû, justified, mother of the Two Ears of the king of Lower Egypt, the chief lector-priest {ẖrj-ḥb ḥrj-tp} and royal clerk  Benaty, Tathotis, justified, daughter of the mistress of the house Tamûnis, justified, she says:

All you people who come and go in the necropolis of the ba of bas, the sacred area of the greatest of the great, the great staircase of the Horus-followers, the great paradise of the primeval ones, the tomb of the kings of Upper and Lower Egypt, the light-land in the West {Manu} of the one who made the heavens - may you rest in it as Atum !  I received good things.  I was united with it by the ones who afterwards perform the funeral rites, as someone whose heart "goes out" (?). Read the inscription, hear what I did when I was on earth, 2 rejoice, listen to my . . . , hear (?) my praises!

Sekhmet, the excellent, favoured me in that I was beautifully created, wonderfully begotten by the Potter.  I walked the path of Hathor, and Her Majesty pervaded my limbs.  My heart told me to do what she loves and I was rewarded for it.  If I brought the women back into their husbands' houses, they would trust me and would not be cast out.  I raised children and buried the revered ones.  The sons of the Promised (?) listened to me.  I dispelled anger and brought joy instead.  I protected the widows in their need.

The mistress of women { Hathor } distinguished me among the ladies: she gave me first place among the noble women 3 and made my grace great within the heart of the royal clerk, who calculates all things for the good god.  She gave me a son and gave me a daughter.  She equipped my household with servants and let me stay with my husband until his seal of office was laid down.  No one else was in his heart except me.  The one who was born from me, His Majesty's companion, his father's successor in office - when his father's body was buried, he put ointments on him in the work of Shesmu and mummy bandages made of fine material in the work of the Tait.  The ceremonies were held for him, and he was adorned in the tomb of his fathers. His ancestors rejoiced when they saw him and cheered at him.  Behold, the followers of the god make him a hidden mountain in heaven, at the top of millions and millions without end.

The mistress of the royal clerk's house, mother of the chief lector-priest, justified, she says: 
My heart led me to a life of a fortunate kind, 4 already when I was a child and did not know what was good; nevertheless my heart told me not to miss it.  The god praised me for that and pleased me (?) with good things.  He made me (?) as a gift for those who walk along his water-way.  He named my son as chief {ḥrj-tp} in the place of Thoth and head of the temple of all gods, that he should look after the temples of . . . (?)  care;  he appointed him as the one who calculates all things for him who is in the palace. His heir after him accompanied the lord of the Two Lands and forwarded reports to the officials.  They came near to the king more than his other courtiers, for every secret council that was in the palace.  My heart was happy, my place was large, and my head reached the sky.  I looked up at those who were close to me and saw their position  with the Lord of the Two Lands, and I asked before the Lord of the Gods that 5 His Majesty on the throne of Horus should see, as the fear of him conquered the bounds of the earth, his power penetrating to the four corners of the sky, his time that of the sky, his duration that of the sun disk and the numbers of his reign like the sand of the shore.

The Golden One { Hathor }, who made my household great by granting gifts, made me fortunate at that moment, when my time came and my hour was fully over.  I went to rest in the light-land of the Two Lands, and all of Memphis followed me until I reached my grave in the necropolis.  My soul was transfigured by the Fathers of God, the wab priests and the chiefs in the temple of Ptah, while the great lector-priests led the ritual as sem priest of Sokar.  The solemn practices and pronouncements were recited at the exact moment (?) and the ritual at the right times; 6 all ceremonies were performed without fault.

I was beautifully embalmed by the keeper of the secrets, the first embalmer {wr-jrj} of the necropolis of Apis-Osiris and the "friends" of the jjt-sanctuary, who in turn (?) are assigned to the hourly service, during their monthly service.  Upper Egypt went downstream, Lower Egypt upstream with all the officials . . .  made.  All kinds of oils were rubbed on me by the attendants of the temples, and all the hourly priests did their work for me, performing the list of the amulet {tmmt} rituals.  My (?) name was adorned as that of one who is concealed in the west of Ta-dsrt in Rosetau.

I speak to all you who enter the tomb in the necropolis in which I am, every scholar who has perused the scriptures: 7 Lead your women to the way of walking in the path of the Mistress of the Gods. It is better than any initiation (?). She has guided us along her water-way at her will - she, who guides the goddesses, who guides gods and men. Hear my story, say good things about my words, don't say bad things (?) about my utterances! The Golden One listened to my voice more and more (?).  Do not raise your voice against me when you approach my grave! Praise me after the sacrificial prayer!

Gifts are offered to you, rituals are performed for you.  The one who leads the walk, the chief lector-priest, the head of the ẖnzꜢ-priests, who leads all the "ranks" in their work, so that they walk along the water-way as he commands them, acts in accordance with his words! Your name will be called out first when they lead the ritual. 8 Whoever performs a funeral afterwards will lift up your head.  They will offer you the best of their altar and a festive scent of the very best pieces of meat. When the bas come to fill themselves up with the food, they receive the gifts after you, because your name is pronounced first when all the names of Osiris are mentioned. Frankincense is on your altar, freedom is given to your ka at any time when the praises are proclaimed. You enter without being stopped, you come out without being hindered.  You repeat your life without passing away; you rejuvenate yourself without evil. You are renewed, you are renewed, your ka lacks nothing. Everyone who comes out of your house, like someone who goes down to his brother, is like one whose nature is allowed to flourish as long as the gods are there, forever; and your name will be in the mouth of those who dwell on earth, eternally like Re.

{ Demotic subscript: }   The endowment-woman, wife of the royal clerk Tjaanhuremû, justified, mother of the royal clerk and chief priest Benaty, Tathotis, justified, daughter of Tamûnis, justified.


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