Homepage Timeline Maps A-Z index Learning


The Teaching of King Amenemhat I

iw ms msyt aSAt m mrrwt
iw rx Hr tiw wxA Hr nfrw.f
Hr-ntt n rx.f st Sw m Hr.k
s-n-wsrt anx wDA snb sA.i
rdwy.i Hr Smt ntk ib.i Ds.i
irty.i Hr gmH.k msy m wnwt nt nfr-ib
r-gs Hnmmt di.sn n.k iAwt

Section 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15


The wise agree, the fool refutes it,]
For whoever lacking your sight cannot know it. [O Senusret (Live! Prosper! Be well!), my son,
My legs leave, but to you alone belongs] my own heart,
Since my eyes saw [you, born in the hour of happiness,
Beside the people of the Sun, as they paid] you adoration.

Commentary to the translation. Detailed points

Yet there are many lies in the streets
This is the passage that recurs in the Admonitions of Ipuwer. The theme there is the overturning of order.

Live! Prosper! Be well!
The normative declaration inserted after every naming of a divine sovereign or related concept, abbreviated in hieroglyphs to three signs, and in hieratic increasingly to three slanting vertical strokes.

The concept of heart in the Middle Kingdom: see Assmann, Jan, Maat. Gerechtigkeit und Unsterblichkeit im alten Ägypten, Munich 1990

hour of happiness
Rather sinister echo from the use of the same phrase in the description of the attack people of the Sun. The innermost circle of earthly beings around the person of the king. Outside this circle are the men denoted pAt 'nobility' (impossible to translate without intrusion of modern assumptions - however, this is Ancient Egypt, not a 'feudal' European context). On the outer edge are the rxyt 'populace'.


Copyright © 2000 University College London. All rights reserved.