The Story of Sinuhe
The Adventures of Sinuhe is one of the most important works of Ancient Egyptian literature; the text is preserved in many copies on papyri and ostraca.
The narrative tells the story of Sinuhe, the Pharaoh's servant, who learns of the civil war that is about to break out in his country for the succession to the throne due to the sudden death of the Pharaoh. In the throes of fear he decides to flee to Syria, where he was welcomed by the prince of the Bedouins: he offers him his daughter in marriage, puts him in charge of one of the most important tribes of his land and makes him live in luxury. When he arrived old age, Sinuhe receives the invitation of Pharaoh Sesostris to return to Egypt, to receive a proper burial. Eager to set foot on his land again, he leaves all his possessions to his children and returns to Egypt.
The autobiographical nature of the opening and closing of the story is significant.
New Kingdom (1539-1077 BC)
Thebes/Deir el-Medina (?)
Fag. d: reconstruction after the parallel P. Berlin P. 3033, ll.138-162.
“[...When I got <close> to him (and)] let his arrows pass me without effect, [one approached the other. (When) he attacked me, I shot him (so that) my arrow got stuck in his throat. He cried out, fell on] his nose (and) I felled him <with> his axe. [I uttered my victory cry on his back, (while) every Asiatic roared... That ruler Ammun-]nansi, he took me in his arms. [Then I took his property (and) captured his livestock. What he planned to do to me,] I did it to him! I took what was in his tent [(and) uncovered his bed. I became great by it, (because) I was prosperous by my possessions (and) I was rich by my cattle. So God did <this> to be merciful (again) to him] with whom he was dissatisfied, whom he led astray into another [land. (Yet) today his heart is (again) satisfied...] Because of hunger, a sneaking away sneaks away! [Yes] I can (now) give the neighbor bread! ... ] For lack of one to send out, a man runs away! [(Yet) I am (now) rich in servants! My house is beautiful. Far is my dwelling place. (And) the memory of me is in the palace. Any God who determined this escape] may you have mercy (and) put me (back) in the residence! [Surely you will let me] see the place where my heart is (already) spending the day!? (For) what is more important than my burial [in the land where I was born ... good may be done (and) God show me mercy! Does he do this to] make worthy of the end of him whom he had cast out, (because) his heart suffers [for him whom he had transplanted to live abroad?]”
Susanne Töpfer (ST)
Tale, Literary text
Tale of Sinuhe
New Kingdom (1539-1077 BC)
Dynasty 20 (1190-1077 BC)