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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  6.5


APPEAL AGAINST A CRUEL FATHER


Date:   2nd/1st century B.C.
Language:   Demotic
Translated by:   G.R. Hughes
Format:   see key to translations

  This demotic papyrus is now held in the British Museum ( EA 10845 ). It contains an appeal to the gods by two children who had been abandoned by their father after the death of their mother and his remarriage. The date is probably late in the Ptolemaic period. The translation is taken from G.R. Hughes, in "Studies in Honor of John A. Wilson", pp.43-54 ( PDF )


[A]   P.Fam.Theb. 3 ( Sale ) 

Psenthotes and one Naneferho, the two minor children whom Hoankh bore to Harpakeme - he is cruel, casting them out without being merciful to them -, are they who say to the Ibis, the Falcon, the Baboon, and the gods who rest with them in the resting place of the Ibis, the great god who dwells in Hermopolis

We are yours. [May you] favour [us] before the Council and may you [listen to] our plea:

'Misery by night, misfortune by day at the hands of a cruel one [. . .], an impious one -  he feels no guilt; and he is called Harpakeme although his name is Sheraha son of Wenmont, and he is called our father although he has not been merciful to us; with whom our mother spent many years. She bore us and he caused our mother's death while we were small. He took another one into his house, and he cast us out from the day on which she died.

'He has not given us food, clothing or oil. 10 He who takes pity on us, whose heart the gods fills, when he sees us hungry, he gives us a meal. He who finds us in the corners of the walls in the street at evening and takes pity on us, whose heart the god fills, he takes us to his house until morning.

'Although there is due our mother her dowry from him, he deprives us [of it]. We have not found anyone who will provide us protection from him except you; it is you who have saved us.

'If he takes the oath before you, may you interrogate him and may you judge between us and this man. Many are the wrongs which he in- flicts on us. If a strong man beats us in the street, he says, "Beat them"; he does not say, "Do not." When he sees us at the door of his house, he hurls an oipe-container after us. This man, he has money, grain, and goods; he is not lacking in the food which he had been giving to us.

20 'They are too numerous to write nor would papyrus receive them: The stringencies, the deprivations, the miseries and the restraints which Hor, the cruel one, our father mentioned above, inflicts on us.

'Misery by night, misfortune by day at the hands of this man! You shall interrogate him and you shall judge between us and him. As for the guards, the messengers, and the servants of the house, when they shall interrogate him, they shall avenge us ras a result of judging between us and him.

'We have fallen, cause to rise. We are restrained, make him cease. We are mistreated, cause that we be avenged.' 

We are casting this appeal before the gods whose names are written above. As for anyone in the world who will set this document on fire to destroy it, let him not escape from our plea, let him read it from its beginning to its end. Let that man [be made to read it] at the south entrance, the north entrance, the west entrance, and the east entrance 30  of the place in which the gods rest. May they curse when they listen [to this] letter. 


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