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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  4.21


EPITAPH OF SOMTUTEFNAKHT


Text:   Naples 1035
Provenance:   Temple of Isis, Pompeii
Date:   c. 330 B.C.
Language:   Hieroglyphic
Translated by:   A. Kuhrt
Format:   see key to translations

This inscription has been preserved in an unusual way. In antiquity it was moved from Heracleopolis to Pompeii in Italy, and  in the eighteenth century it was found in the ruins of the temple of Isis at Pompeii.

Somtutefnakht began his career under the last native kings of Egypt. After Egypt was reconquered by the Persians in 343 B.C., he continued to hold an important priesthood in Heracleopolis. He fought in the Persian army against Alexander the Great in 333 B.C., and survived.

All of the inscription has been translated into French by P. Tresson, "La Stèle de Naples" ( PDF ). Most of this English translation is taken from A. Kuhrt, "The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period", ch. 10 no. 38 ( Google Books ).  


{superscription}   Honoured by Harsaphes, King of the Two Lands, ruler of the riverbank, lord of Heracleopolis.

{main text}   The prince, count, royal treasurer, sole companion; prophet of Horus, lord of Hebnu; prophet of the gods of the Oryx nome; prophet of Somtu of Yat-hehu; divine mouth, supervisor of the riverbank; chief priest of Sakhmet in the whole land, Somtutefnakht; son of him possessed of grain, the priest of Amun-Re, lord of Pishat, Djedsomtutefankh, born of the lady Ankhet; he says:

O lord of gods, Harsaphes, king of the Two Lands, ruler of the shores, whose rising illuminates the earth, whose right eye is the sun-disc, whose left eye is the moon, whose ba is the sunlight, 5 from whose nostrils comes the north wind, to make live all things! I am your servant, my heart is on your water {i.e. I am devoted to you}. I have filled my heart with you. I sustained no town except your town, I did not fail to place its fame before all; my heart sought justice in your house night and day; you rewarded me for it a million times.

You gave me access to the palace; the heart of the perfect god was pleased by my speech. You distinguished me from the crowd when you turned away from Egypt. You put love of me in the heart of Asia's ruler; his courtiers were grateful to me. He gave me the office of chief of the priests of Sakhmet, in place of my mother's brother,the chief of the priests of Sakhmet of Upper and Lower Egypt, 10 Nekhtheneb.

You protected me in the combat of the Greeks, when you repulsed those of Asia. They slew countless numbers at my side, and no one raised his arm against me. Thereafter, I saw you in my sleep, your majesty saying to me: 'Hurry to Heracleopolis ; I protect you!' I crossed the countries all alone; I sailed the sea unafraid, knowing I had not neglected your command; I reached Heracleopolis, not a hair of my head lost. From the beginning you gave me your protection; may you ensure that it continues to go well with me(?). May you give me a long life in gladness.

15 O all you priests who serve this venerable god, Harsaphes, king of the Two Lands, Ra-har-akhti, universal master, beneficent ram in Heracleopolis, Atum in Nart - you, the high-priest of the ram, primeval force, lord of the ram, the fertilising bull; you, the accomplished favourite of the lord of the shores; and you, the darling son of the king of the Two Lands, entering the holy of holies and contemplating those who are there - namely Harsaphes, ruler of Egypt; Atum residing in his Djbait; Khnum, great god in his chapel; the king of the South and of the North Wennefer, - your names will be firm on earth under the favour of Harsaphes, king of the Two Lands, if you praise the gods and goddesses who reside in Heracleopolis, and ask their blessing for the beloved of his lord, revered in his nome, Somtutefnakht.  20 It will be of use to you yourselves; for others will pronounce your names throughout the ages.


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