Ancient Egyptian Texts:  2.5


A Greek version of part of this story (B) was found in the archive of Apollonios, a recluse at the Serapeum in Memphis; he wrote out the beginning of the story, but did not finish it. Some fragments of the original Demotic version (A+C) have been found in the Tebtunis temple library. The date at the start of the Demotic version refers to the end of the reign of the last native king of Egypt, in 343 B.C.

Text:   P. Carlsberg 562
Date:   c. 100 A.D.†
Translated by:   K. Ryholt, "A Demotic Version of Nectanebos' Dream: P. Carlsberg 562" (ZPE, 1998)

It happened in year 18 of the reign [of king Nectanebos, who was a beneficent king of the entire land,] Egypt being [united with all good things in his time] . . . He saw [himself in a dream . . . upon . . . A great god went [into the middle] . . . strangled (?) by him . . . time . . . Egypt . . . Nectanebos . . . [He] awoke [from the dream, these being the things that he had seen] . . .

Text:   UPZ 1.81
Date:   c. 150 B.C.
Translated by:   N. Lewis, "The Interpretation of Dreams & Portents in Antiquity" (1996), p. 51

Year 16 in the night of Pharmouthi 21st to the 22nd , in the divine reckoning by the full moon, King Nectanebo was in Memphis and performed a sacrifice, asking the gods to reveal to him the impending future. In a dream he saw a boat made of papyrus - what they call rops in Egyptian - come to anchor at Memphis. On it was a great throne, and upon that was seated Isis, glorious benefactress of crops, queen of gods, and all the gods in Egypt stood beside her to her right and left. One of them, called Onouris in Egyptian and Ares in Greek, and generally thought of as being thirty-one and a half feet tall, stepped forward, prostrated himself on his stomach, and said:

"Come to me, goddess of goddesses, mightiest in power, ruler of the universe, savior of all the gods, O Isis, be gracious and hear me. Just as you ordered, I have preserved the land perfectly, and while King Nectanebo has exercised every care for me up to the present, Samaus whom you installed in the priesthood has neglected my temple and has resisted my commands. I am thrust out of my own temple and everything in the inner shrine is halffinished on account of the villainy of the priest in charge."

The queen of the gods heard the aforesaid but made no answer. After seeing this prophetic dream he awoke and gave orders to send in haste to Sebennytos, to the high priest and priest of Onouris. When they appeared at his court the king asked them what work was unfinished in the inner shrine, the one called Pherso. They said that everything was finished except the inscribing of the hieroglyphs being carved on stone, and he ordered them to write with dispatch to the famous shrines throughout Egypt for hieroglyph carvers.

When these had arrived as ordered, the king asked who was the most skillful one among them, the one best able to complete the unfinished work in the inner shrine called Pherso. In response the one from Aphroditepolis in the Aphroditepolite nome, whose name was PeteŽsios son of Ergeus, stepped forward and said that he could finish all the work in a few days. The king questioned the others as well, and they all stated that PeteŽsios spoke the truth and that there was no one in all the land who could even pretend to be like him. Accordingly, the king assigned the aforementioned work to him at a lavish rate of pay, at the same time urging him by reason of the god's will to pursue the task to completion in a few days, as he had undertaken to do.

PeteŽsios took the big bundle of cash and departed for Sebennytos, where he decided, being a souse by nature, to take a holiday before tackling the job. And as he was walking about in the southern part of the temple he happened to notice the daughter of a perfume maker, who was the most beautiful girl he had ever come across in that . . .

Text:   P. Carlsberg 424+499
Date:   c. 100 A.D.
Translated by:   K. Ryholt, "Narrative Literature from the Tebtunis Temple Library" (2012), p.164

It happened in the 16th regnal year of the reign of king Nectanebo II, who was a beneficent king in the entire land, and [in] whose reign Egypt was overflowing with [all] good things. It happened one day that pharaoh said: "I am sad because of the terrible things that have happened to Petesis, son of Hergeus, the skilled sculptor of Aphroditopolis, in the temple of Sebennytos. [I] have given orders [to] find out the length of the time in which the said things will take place. I have given orders to find out the might of the foreigners that will come after me. I have given orders to find out the need which they will cause while they dwell in Egypt. May my preparation be made according to the journey which I to Wenkhem, that I might make my burnt offerings and my offering gifts between Letopolis and PhersŰs."

The preparation of the fleet of pharaoh was made. Pharaoh went on board the fleet. He did not delay to go to Wenkhem. He went to the temple [of Wenkhem] between Letopolis and PhersŰs. He presented burnt offering and libation before Haroeris . . .

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