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The Teaching of King Amenemhat I

mk ir.n.i Xr-Hat Ts.i n.k pHw
ink mni n.k nty m ib.i
tw Hr wAH HDt n prt-nTr
xtm r st iry m SaA.n.i n.k
hAnw m wiA n ra
aHa.n nsyt xpr Xr-HAt

saHa mnw.k smnx rwd.k
aHA …
Hr-ntt nn mr.n.f sw r-gs Hm.f anx wDA snb

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


It is I who gathered together for you what is in my heart.]
You are wearing the White Crown due to the offspring of the god.
[The seal is in its place, as I ordained for you.
There is jubilation in the barque] of Ra.
Kingship has risen, become [what it was before.

Raise monuments,] embellish your base.
Fight […
For there is none I (?) love beside your (?) Agency (Live! Prosper! Be well!)

Note: At this point four manuscripts add a line confirming that this is the end of the composition, and recording names of scribes, religious epithets, in one case date of copy

Commentary to the translation. Detailed points

The concept of heart in the Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC): see Assmann, Jan, Maat. Gerechtigkeit und Unsterblichkeit im alten Ägypten, Munich 1990

White Crown
One of the two principal crowns of Egyptian kingship, aligned in formal pairings with the royal title nesut 'king (as the eternal presence of kingship on earth), the god Seth and the southern half of the land, Upper Egypt. The primary reference may be to brightness, in contrast to the vital blood and heat of its partner, the Red Crown (aligned with the title bity, or the present manifestation of kingship within the chain of succession of kings, and with the god Horus, and Lower Egypt).

offspring of the god
On the Egyptian concept of kingship as a seed implanted by the sun-god in a human woman, to nurture to birth, see Berlev, Oleg, 'The Eleventh Dynasty in the dynastic history of Egypt', in Young, Dwight, Studies presented to Hans Jakob Polotsky, Beacon Hill 1981, 361-377

The seal…
Obscure but presumed to be a reference to the formal procedures for installing a new king. There is little direct evidence for royal succession, see Quirke, S, 'Royal power in the Thirteenth Dynasty', in Quirke, S, Middle Kingdom Studies, New Malden 1990

barque of Ra
As the king fulfills his primary duties, championing on earth the order of his father the sun-god Ra, the boat of the sun-god in the heavens fills with rejoicing. The passage encapsulates the contract between divine and earthly sovereignty to maintain order.

Raise monuments
For this duty of kingship, to make permanent the order of the sun-god in creation, compare another Middle Kingdom composition known from New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) manuscript sources, the Teaching for King Merykara, see Lichtheim, Miriam, Ancient Egyptian Literature I, Berkeley 1975, 102.

Embellish your base: reading and meaning uncertain

End note (colophon) in various manuscripts
This paratextual strategy is a constant feature across the surviving sources containing the last part of a literary composition.
Reference is not always clear: where the end note gives the name of one scribe, it would seem reasonable to identify this as the scribe, but there are often several names. The reason for adding a date is also not clear: it might be assumed that this identifies the copy as a learning exercise, but there is no explicit written evidence for this. The religious epithets remind us of the cultural embedding of writing in the case of at least New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) Egypt: in the corpus of writing, there is no division between literary compositions and what me would class as 'religious' compositions such as hymns. In our categorisation schemes, the hymns copied with the same paratextual strategies (extracts on ostraca; use of versepoints; inclusion within sets of compositions on one manuscript) are separable because they can function directly in worship of a god, and are therefore not clearly 'written to be read' in the reflexive vein of 'literary compositions'). See the discussions of groupings of writings ('genres').


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