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The Teaching of King Amenemhat I
Commentary. General issues

Frames, external and internal

The composition is framed, where beginning and end survive, with an opening phrase ('incipit', different from a modern book title in that it belongs within the body of the composition) and an end-note ('colophon').

The incipit attributes the words to a revelation by king Amenemhat I. This is one of only two instances in Ancient Egyptian hieratic literary compositions in which the ostensible speaker is a king. The other is the Teaching for king Merykara, a prolonged discourse on kingship in a divided Egypt. Neither composition is dated closely, but broadly both belong to the Middle Kingdom.

All copies are in horizontal lines of hieratic reading from right to left. In these copies the body of the composition is separated by red points high in the line, with more substantial separations indicated by the use of red (rubric) to distinguish a phrase from the black pigment usual in writing.

For the intermittent red points, it is important not to assume in advance what they signify. On a similar device in medieval manuscripts, see Marchello-Nizia 1978.


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