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Prince Khamwas and Si-Osire

(part 1)

This story (as well as Prince Khamwas and Naneferkaptah) refer to Prince Khaemwase - son of Ramesses II, builder of the Serapeum at Saqqara (as well as many other works of Ramesses II), and was reverred for over a thousand years after his death. To read a little more about him CLICK HERE

 

SETNE KHAMWAS AND SI-OSIRE (SETNE II)

The beginning of this tale has been lost - but it is thought that Setne (Khamwas) and his wife Mehusekhe had been praying to the gods for a son

- - - - - - [One night] she dreamed that one spoke to her [saying: "Are] you Mehusekhe, [the wife] of Setne, who is lying [there in the temple] so as to receive healing? --- [When tomorrow has come] go to [the place where your husband] Setne bathes. You will find a melon vine grown there. [Break off a branch] with its gourds and grind it. [Make it into] a remedy, put it [in water and drink it]. -- - [you will receive the fluid of conception] from him that [night]."

Mehusekhe awoke [from] the dream in which she had seen these things. She acted in accordance with [everything she had been told in the dream. She lay down by] the side of her husband [Setne]. She received [the fluid of] conception from him. When [her time of purification came she had] the sign [of a woman who has conceived. It was announced to Setne, and] his heart was very happy on account of it. He [hung] an amulet [on her] and recited a spell to her.

One night Setne slept [and dreamed that one spoke] to him, saying: "Mehusekhe, your wife, has received [the fluid of conception from you]. The boy that shall be born [shall be named] Si-Osire. Many are [the wonders that he shall do in Egypt." Setne awoke] from the dream in which he had seen these things, [and his heart was] very [happy]. [Mehusekhe] made [her months of pregnancy] -- - . [When her time of bearing came] she bore a male child. When Setne was informed of it [he named him] Si-Osire, in accordance with what had been said in the dream. - -- - --, they cradled [him] and nursed him.

When the boy [Si-Osire was one year old] people said of him, "He is two years old." When he was two [years] old, they said, "He is three years old." [Setne did not spend an hour] without looking at the boy Si-Osire, for his love [of him] was very great.

He grew big and strong; he was put in school. [After a short time he surpassed] the scribe who had been given him for instruction. The boy Si-Osire began to recite writings with the scribes of the House of Life in [the temple of Ptah. All who heard him thought him] the wonder of the land. Setne wished very much [to have him] taken to the banquet before Pharaoh, - - - and to present him to all ---.

[On a certain day it happened that] Setne was being purified for the banquet-- - [in his house] - - - and the boy Si-Osire [was to go to the] banquet [with him. At that moment] Setne heard the sound of wailing - - -. He looked [down from the window] of his house [and saw the coffin of a rich man] being carried out to the cemetery with [very loud] wailing - - - , and great were the honours -- - . [In another moment] as he was looking down, he saw [the body of a poor man being carried out of Memphis] wrapped (only) in a mat - -- without anyone walking [behind him].
Setne [said]: "By [Ptah, the great god, how much happier is the rich man who is honoured] with the sound of [wailing] than the poor man who is carried to the cemetery- --."

[Si-Osire said to his father: "May it go with you in the netherworld] as it will go with this poor man in the netherworld! [May it not go with you as it will go with this rich man] in the netherworld!"

[When Setne heard the words of Si-Osire his] heart [became] very [sad. He said: "Do I] hear the voice [of my son]?" [The boy Si-Osire answered him: "If you wish I will show you the poor man who was not mourned, and the rich man for whom all the wailing was done]."

[Setne asked him, "How could you do this?" Si-Osire took his father by the hand; he conducted] Setne to a place [in the western desert] - - - - - - ~

______ [They entered the fourth hall, and Setne saw] people who were [plaiting ropes, while donkeys were chewing them up].

There were others whose provisions of water and bread were hung above them, and while they scrambled to bring them down, other people were digging pits at their feet, to prevent them from getting at them.

They entered the fifth hall, and Setne saw the noble spirits standing in their ranks. But those who were accused of crimes were standing at the door pleading, and the pivot of the door of the fifth hall was fixed in the right eye of a man who was pleading and lamenting loudly.

They entered the sixth hall, and Setne saw the gods of the [tribunal] of the inhabitants of the netherworld standing in their ranks, while the servants of the netherworld stood making accusations.

They entered the seventh hall, and Setne saw the mysterious form of Osiris, the great god, seated on his throne of fine gold, crowned with the atef-crown. Anubis, the great god, was on his left, the great god Thoth was on his right, and the gods of the tribunal of the inhabitants of the netherworld stood on his left and right. The balance stood in the center before them, and they weighed the good deeds against the misdeeds, Thoth, the great god, writing, while Anubis gave the information to his colleague.

He who would be found to have more misdeeds than good deeds [is handed over] to the Devourer, who belongs to the lord of the netherworld. His ba is destroyed together with his body, and he is not allowed to breathe ever again.

He who would be found to have more good deeds than misdeeds is taken in among the gods of the tribunal of the lord of the netherworld, while his ba goes to the sky together with the august spirits.

He who would be found to have good deeds equal to his misdeeds is taken in among the excellent spirits who serve Sokar-Osiris.

Then Setne saw a rich man clothed in a garment of royal linen, standing near the spot where Osiris was, and he was of very high rank. Setne was astounded by the things he saw in the netherworld.

Si-Osire walked out in front of him and said: "My father Setne, did you not see that rich man clothed in a garment of royal linen, standing near the spot where Osiris is? He is the poor man whom you saw being carried out from Memphis with no one walking behind him and wrapped in a mat. They brought him to the netherworld. They weighed his misdeeds against the good deeds he had done on earth. They found his good deeds more numerous than his misdeeds in relation to his lifespan, which Thoth had assigned him in writing, and in relation to his luck on earth. It was ordered by Osiris to give the burial equipment of that rich man, whom you saw being carried out from Memphis with great honours, to this poor man, and to place him among the noble spirits, as a man of god who serves Sokar-Osiris and stands near the spot where Osiris is.

"That rich man whom you saw: they took him to the netherworld. They weighed his misdeeds against his good deeds. They found his misdeeds more numerous than the good deeds he had done on earth. It was ordered to imprison him in the netherworld. He is [the man whom you saw] with the pivot of the door of the netherworld fixed in his right eye, so that it opens and shuts on his eye, and his mouth is open in great lamentation. By Osiris, the great god, lord of the netherworld, when I said to you on earth, '[May it go] with you as it will go with this poor man; may it not go with you as it will go with this rich man,' I knew what would happen to him!"

Setne said: "My son Si-Osire, many are the marvels that I have seen in the netherworld. Now let me learn [what is happening] to those people who are plaiting ropes while donkeys chew them up; and those others whose provisions of water and bread are hung above them, and while they scramble to bring them down, others dig pits at their feet, to prevent them from getting at them."

Si-Osire said: "In truth, my father Setne, those people whom you saw plaiting ropes while donkeys were chewing them up, they are the kind of people on earth who are under a curse of the god. They labour night and day for their livelihood, while their women rob them behind their backs, and they find no bread to eat. When they came to the netherworld in their turn, their misdeeds were found to be more numerous than their good deeds. It was ordered that what had happened to them on earth should happen to them in the netherworld. So too with those people whom you saw, whose provisions of water and bread were hung above them, and while they scrambled to bring them down, others dug pits at their feet, to prevent them from getting at them. They are the kind of people on earth who have their life before them while the god digs a pit under their feet, to prevent them from finding it. When they came to the netherworld in their turn, what had happened to them on earth was made to happen to them in the netherworld also, while their ba's were received in the netherworld.

"Take it to your heart, my father Setne: He who is beneficent on earth, to him one is beneficent in the netherworld. And he who is evil, to him one is evil. It is so decreed [and will remain so] for ever. The things that you have seen in the netherworld at Memphis, they happen in the forty-two nomes [in which are the judges] of Osiris, the great god. -

When Si-Osire had ended the words spoken to his father, he came down from the desert of Memphis, [his father Setne] embracing him, his hand being in his hand. Setne asked [him]: "My son Si-Osire, is it a different way we are going down than the way we went up?" But Si-Osire did not answer Setne at all.

Setne marveled [at the] things he had experienced, saying: "He will be able [to become] one of the august spirits, a man of god, [and I
shall] go with him, saying, 'This is my son!'" Setne recited [a spell from the] book of exorcising spirits, while he was still full of wonder at [the things] he had seen in the netherworld. And those things weighed very heavily [on him] because he could not reveal (them) to any [man on earth].

[When the] boy Si-Osire [reached] twelve years of age, it came to pass that there was no [scribe and learned man] in Memphis [who could compare] with him in reciting spells and performing magic

The Nubian sorcerer

[After these things] it happened one day that Pharaoh User[mare went] to the court of the palace of Memphis, [and the council] of nobles, generals, and grandees of Egypt [stood in their] ranks in the court. [Then one came to announce: "There is a communication being made by a chieftain of Nubia [which is bound] to his body in a document." When he had been announced [before] Pharaoh, he was brought to the court. He saluted [and said: "Is there anyone who will] read this document [that I have brought] to Egypt before Pharaoh, without breaking its seal, one who will read the writing that is in it without opening it? If [there is no good scribe and learned man in] Egypt who can read it without opening it, I shall take the shame of Egypt to the land of Nubia, my country."

[When] Pharaoh [and the nobles] heard these words [they did not know where on earth] they were. They said: "By Ptah, does a good scribe and learned man have the power to read writings of which he sees only [their] outside, and could one read a document [without opening it]?" Pharaoh [said]: "Summon to me Setne Khamwas, my son!" They ran, they brought him at once. He bowed to the ground, he saluted [Pharaoh; he straightened up], stood on his feet and spoke the worshipful greeting of Pharaoh.

Pharaoh said to him: "My [son] Setne, have you heard the words that this chieftain [of Nubia] spoke before me, saying, 'Is there a good scribe and learned man in Egypt who can read this document that is in my hand, without breaking its seal, and shall learn what is written in it without opening it?'"

When Setne heard these words he did not know where [on earth] he was. He said: "My great lord, who is he who could read writing without opening it? But let me be given ten days' time, that I may see what I can do to prevent the shame of Egypt from being taken to the land of Nubia, the country of gum eaters." Said Pharaoh: "They are granted to my son Setne."

They gave rooms to relax in to the Nubian and they prepared muck for him in the Nubian manner. Pharaoh rose from the court with a very sad heart. He lay down without drinking and eating. Setne went to his house without knowing where on earth he was going. He wrapped himself in his garments from head to foot and lay down without knowing where on earth he was.

When his wife Mehusekhe was told of it she came to the place where Setne was. She put her hand inside his clothes; she found no warmth as he lay in his clothes. She said to him: "My brother Setne, there is no warmth in the breast, no [strirring] in the flesh. There is sorrow and grief in the heart." He said to her: "Leave me, my sister Mehusekhe. The matter over which my heart grieves is not a thing fit to be revealed to a woman."

The boy Si-Osire came in, stood over his father Setne, and said to him: "My father Setne, why are you lying down with a grieving heart? Tell me the things that are concealed in your heart, that I may make them cease." He said: "Leave me, my son Si-Osire, you are too young for the things that are in my heart; you are not old enough [to have them told] to you." Said Si-Osire: "Tell them to me; I shall relieve your heart of them!"

Setne said: "My son Si-Osire, a chieftain of Nubia has come down to Egypt with a document fastened to his body, saying, 'Is there anyone who will read it without opening it? If there is no good scribe and learned man in Egypt who can read it, I shall take the shame of Egypt to the land of Nubia, my country.' I lay down because my heart grieves on account of it, my son Si-Osire."

The moment Si-Osire heard these words he laughed for a long time. Setne said to him: "Why do you laugh?" He said: "I laugh because you are Iying down with a grieving heart on account of such a small matter! Rise up, my father Setne! I can read the document brought to Egypt without opening it, and I shall learn what is written in it without breaking its seal!"

The moment Setne heard these words he rose up at once and said: "What is the proof for the words you have said, my son Si-Osire?" He said to him: "My father Setne, go to the ground-floor rooms of your house. Every book that you shall take out of the chest, I shall tell you what book it is. I shall read it without seeing it, staying above your ground-floor rooms."

Setne rose and stood on his feet. He did everything exactly as Si-Osire had told him. Si-Osire read all the books that his father Setne lifted up before him without opening them. Setne came up from the ground-floor rooms of his house in the greatest joy. He hastened to the place where Pharaoh was. He related to him all the words that the boy Si-Osire had spoken to him, and his heart was exceedingly happy on account of it. At the same time Pharaoh cleansed himself for a
banquet with Setne and had Si-Osire brought to him to the banquet They drank and made holiday.

On the morning of the next day Pharaoh appeared in the Court among his grandees. Pharaoh sent for the chieftain of Nubia. He was brought to the court with the document fastened to his body. When he stood in the centre of the court, the boy Si-Osire came to the center, stood with the chieftain of Nubia, and addressed him, saying: "Ho you fiend of Nubia whom Amun, his god, may smite! You who came down to Egypt, the beautiful garden of Osiris, the footrest of Re-Harakhti, the beautiful horizon of Shay, saying, 'I will take [its] shame to the land of Nubia,' may the wrath of Amun, your god, smite you! The words that I shall pronounce are the ones that are written in the document. Do not tell lies about them before Pharaoh, your lord!"

When the chieftain of Nubia saw the boy Si-Osire, as he stood in the court, he bowed his head and said: "All words that you shall say I will not tell lies about them."

The contents of the document

Here begin the stories that Si-Osire related before Pharaoh and his nobles, with the people of Egypt listening to his voice. He said: What is written in the letter of the chieftain of Nubia, who stands here in the centre, is the following:

It came to pass one day in the time of Pharaoh Menkh-Pre-Siamun, who was beneficent king of the whole land, [with Egypt] overflowing with all good things in his time, for he was generous in giving expenditure and work in the great temples of Egypt-that day it happened that the ruler of the land of Nubia was [resting] [in a pavilion] in the woodlands of Amun, when he heard the voices of three chieftains of Nubia [in the] backroom.

One of them was talking in a loud voice and said among other things: "Were it not that Amun might find fault with me, and the lord of Egypt might [punish me], I would cast my sorceries upon Egypt and would make the people of Egypt spend three days and three nights seeing no light, only darkness."

Another of them said among other things: "Were it not that Amun might accuse me, and the lord of Egypt might punish me, I would cast my sorceries upon Egypt, and would have Pharaoh brought from Egypt to the land of Nubia, and would have him beaten with 500 blows of the stick in public before the Ruler, and would have him returned to Egypt, all within six hours."

(The third said: "Were it not that Amun might accuse me, and the lord of Egypt might punish me, I would cast my sorceries upon Egypt, and would cause the land to be barren for three years)."

When the ruler of Nubia had heard the words spoken by the three chieftains of Nubia, he had them brought before him and said to them: Who of you is he who said, 'I would cast my sorceries upon Egypt and not let them see the light in three days and three nights'?" They said, "It is Horus-son-of-the-Sow."

He said: "Who is he who said, 'I would cast my sorceries upon Egypt, and would bring Pharaoh to the land of Nubia, and would have him beaten with 500 blows of the stick in public before the Ruler, and would have him returned to Egypt, all within six hours'?" They said, "It is Horus-son-of-the Nubian woman."

He said: "Who is he who said, 'I would cast my sorceries upon Egypt, and would cause the land to be barren for three years'?" They said, "It is Horus-son-of-the-Princess."

The ruler said (to Horus-son-of-the-Nubian-woman): "Carry out your feat of sorcery! By Amun, the bull of Meroe, my god, if your hand succeeds, I will do for you many good things!"

 

CONTINUED IN PART TWO