The Instruction of King Amenemhet I for his son Sesostris I


When first discovered it was thought that this text was something written personally by King Amenemhet I after he had survived an assassination attempt. Current thinking is that the king was murdered (sometime in Year 30 of his reign), and this written on behalf of the dead king by his Sesostris I.

In the text, the king is speaking from the Afterlife to his son warning him about palace treachery, as well as confirming that Sesostris I is indeed his heir.

Beginning of the Instruction made by the majesty of King Sehetepibre, son of Re, Amenemhet, the justified, as he spoke in a revelation of truth, to his son the All-Lord. He said:

Risen as god, hear what I tell you,
That you may rule the land, govern the shores,
Increase well-being!
Beware of subjects who are nobodies,
Of whose plotting one is not aware.
Trust not a brother, know not a friend,
Make no intimates, it is worthless.
When you lie down, guard your heart yourself,
For no man has adherents on the day of woe.
I gave to the beggar, I raised the orphan,
I gave success to the poor as to the wealthy;
But he who ate my food raised opposition,
He whom I gave my trust used it to plot.
Wearers of my fine linen looked at me as if they were needy,
Those perfumed with my myrrh [poured water while wearing it]
You my living peers, my partners among men,
Make for me mourning such as has not been heard,
For so great a combat had not yet been seen!
If one fights in the arena forgetful of the past,
Success will elude him who ignores what he should know.

It was after supper, night had come. I was taking an hour of rest, Iying on my bed, for I was weary. As my heart began to follow sleep, weapons for my protection were turned against me, while I was like a snake of the desert. I awoke at the fighting, [alert], and found it was a combat of the guard. Had I quickly seized weapons in my hand, I would have made the cowards retreat [in haste]. But no one is strong at night; no one can fight alone; no success is achieved without a helper.

Thus bloodshed occurred while I was without you; before the courtiers had heard I would hand over to you; before I had sat with you so as to advise you. For I had not prepared for it, had not expected it, had not foreseen the failing of the servants.

Had women ever marshaled troops?
Are rebels nurtured in the palace?
Does one release water that destroys the soil
And deprives people of their crops?
No harm had come to me since my birth,
No one equaled me as a doer of deeds.

I journeyed to Yebu, I returned to the Delta,
Having stood on the land's borders I observed its interior.
I reached the borders of [the strongholds]
By my strength and my feats.
I was grain-maker, beloved of Nepri,
Hapy honored me on every field.
None hungered in my years,
None thirsted in them,
One sat because I acted and spoke of me,
I had assigned everything to its place.
I subdued lions, I captured crocodiles,
I repressed those of Wawat,
I captured the Medjai,
I made the Asiatics do the dog walk.

I built myself a house decked with gold,
Its ceiling of lapis lazuli,
Walls of silver, floors of [acacia wood],
Doors of copper, bolts of bronze,
Made for eternity, prepared for all time,
I know because I am its lord.
Behold, much hatred is in the streets,
The wise says "yes," the fool says "no,"
For no one knows it [without your presence], Sesostris my son!
As my feet depart, you are in my heart,
My eyes behold you, child of a happy hour [Before the people as they hail you].
I have made the past and arranged the future,
I gave you the contents of my heart.
You wear the white crown of a god's son,
The seal is in its place, assigned you by me, Jubilation is in the bark of Re,
Kingship is again what it was in the past!
Raise your monuments, establish your strongholds

Fight ........................