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Egyptian Literary Compositions of the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period

On Digital Egypt for Universities, a number of literary compositions are translated, with the Egyptian language original represented by the Manuel de Codage transliterating system. A few passages are also presented in experimental audio versions, as a reminder that this was a spoken language with all the communicative power of any human language. The list below gives all surviving literary compositions thought to date to the Middle Kingdom that are known to the compiler of this page, with links to the translations or the summaries of compositions not translated.

The list is organised according to category of content: both (1) categories and (2) the assigning of each composition to a category should be questioned and tested continually against their contents. Where a compositions is not preserved from beginning to end, fragments here assigned separate identities might in fact derive from a single composition.

Summary of surviving compositions



Teachings preserved from beginning to end

Teachings, part only preserved


'Discourses' (titled Teachings, but more reflective than didactic in content)

'Discourses', preserved from beginning to end



Laments, preserved from beginning to end

Laments, part only preserved


Tales, preserved from beginning to end

Tales, part only preserved



Hymns of praise, preserved from beginning to end

Hymns of praise, part only preserved

Note: this identification of the writing on one papyrus as a single composition is highly speculative. It rests on coincidence of subject matter with the theme of the physical prowess of the king, and comparison with remnants of a hieroglyphic inscription from the reign of king Amenemhat II, apparently recording the annals of his reign. In the first modern edition of the fragments, the writing surviving on the papyrus was divided into a set of three compositions given the titles of Sporting King, Fishing and Fowling, and a Mythological Story.

Compositions of uncertain grouping

Fragments of uncertain grouping

Other Lahun fragments are not certainly from literary compositions (notably UC 32107A, 32148B,C, and the Contendings of Horus and Seth UC 32150A+32158)


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