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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Hymn to Usertesen III.
Egyptian Literature
 
        
Translation of Francis Llewellyn Griffith
  
  [This hymn is the most remarkable example of Egyptian poetry known to us. It was found by Mr. Petrie near the pyramid and temple of Usertesen II., in the town which was founded there for the accommodation of the workmen employed upon these buildings, and for the priestly staff who performed the services for the dead Pharaoh in his chapel. The hymn is addressed to the son and successor of that king,—to Usertesen III.,—an active and warlike prince, who, as the poet also testifies, used his power for the benefit of his country and the pious support of its institutions. It is a marvel that the delicate papyrus on which the hymn is written should have been preserved for nearly 5,000 years. It has not, however, resisted the attacks of time without suffering injury; and the lacunæ, together with the peculiar language employed by the scribe, are baffling to the decipherer. Four stanzas only can be read with comparative completeness and certainty.
  The parallelism of the sentences, the rhythm, the balancing of the lines of verse, and the pause in each, recall the style of the Hebrew Psalms. The choice of metaphors, too, is in a similar direction. Unfortunately our limited knowledge of the ancient language does not permit us to analyze closely the structure of the verses, nor to attempt any scansion of them. The radicals only of Egyptian words are known to us; of the pronunciation of the language at the time of the XIIth Dynasty we are entirely ignorant.]


I
HOMAGE to thee, Kha-kau-ra: our “Horus Divine of Beings.” 1
Safeguarding the land and widening its boundaries: restraining the foreign nations by his kingly crown.
Inclosing the two lands 2 within the compass of his arms: seizing the nations in his grip.
Slaying the Pedti without stroke of the club: shooting an arrow without drawing the bowstring.
Dread of him hath smitten the Anu in their plain: his terror hath slain the Nine Races of Men. 3
His warrant hath caused the death of thousands of the Pedti who had reached his frontier: shooting the arrow as doth Sekhemt, 4 he overthroweth thousands of those who knew not his mighty spirit.
The tongue of his Majesty bindeth Nubia in fetters: his utterances put to flight the Setiu.
Sole One of youthful vigor, guarding his frontier: suffering not his subjects to faint, but causing the Pat 5 to repose unto full daylight.
As to his timid youth in their slumbers: his heart 6 is their protection.
His decrees have formed his boundaries: his word hath armored the two regions.
 
II
Twice jubilant are the gods: thou hast established their offerings,
Twice jubilant are thy children: thou hast made their boundaries.
Twice jubilant are thy forefathers: thou hast increased their portions. 7
Twice jubilant is Egypt in thy strong arm: thou hast guarded the ancient order.
Twice jubilant are the Pat in thine administration: thy mighty spirit hath taken upon itself their provisionment.
Twice jubilant are the two regions in thy valor: thou hast widened their possessions.
Twice jubilant are thy paid young troops: thou hast made them to prosper.
Twice jubilant are thy veterans: thou hast made them to renew their youth.
Twice jubilant are the two lands in thy might: thou hast guarded their walls.
Twice jubilant be thou, O Horus, who hast widened his boundary: thou art from everlasting to everlasting.
 
III
Twice great is the lord of his city, above a million arms: as for other rulers of men, they are but common folk.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were a dyke, damming the stream in its water flood.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were a cool lodge, letting every man repose unto full daylight.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were a bulwark, with walls built of the sharp stones of Kesem.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were a place of refuge, excluding the marauder.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were an asylum, shielding the terrified from his foe.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were a shade, the cool vegetation of the flood-time in the season of harvest.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were a corner warm and dry in time of winter.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were a rock barring the blast in time of tempest.
Twice great is the lord of his city: he is as it were Sekhemt to foes who tread upon his boundary.
 
IV
He hath come to us, that he may take the land of the South Country: the Double Crown 8 hath been placed upon his head.
He hath come, he hath united the two lands: he hath joined the Reed to the Hornet. 9
He hath come, he hath ruled the people of the Black Land: he hath placed the Red Land in his power. 10
He hath come, he hath protected the two lands: he hath tranquillized the two regions.
He hath come, he hath made the people of Egypt to live: he hath destroyed its afflictions.
He hath come, he hath made the Pat to live: he hath opened the throat of the Rekhyt. 11
He hath come, he hath trampled on the nations: he hath smitten the Anu who knew not his terror.
He hath come, he hath secured his frontier: he hath delivered him who was stolen away.
He hath come:… he granteth reward-in-old-age by what his mighty arm bringeth to us.
He hath come, we nurture our children: we bury our aged ones 12 by his good favor.
 
Note 1. Kha-kau-ra, “Glory of the Kas of the Sun,” was the principal name that Usertesen III., following the custom of the Pharaohs, adopted on his accession to the throne. “Horus, Divine of Beings,” was the separate name for his royal Ka assumed at the same time. The Ka of a person was his ghostly Double, before and after death, and to the Egyptian this shadowy constituent of the whole being had a very distinct existence. [back]
Note 2. I.e., Upper and Lower Egypt. [back]
Note 3. To the Egyptian the world was inhabited by nine races of men. [back]
Note 4. Sekhemt, a goddess represented with the head of a lioness, the embodiment of the devastating power of the Sun and of the wrath of Ra. [back]
Note 5. “Pat” seems to be a name for mankind, or perhaps for the inhabitants of Egypt. [back]
Note 6. We speak of the “head” as the seat of the intellect; to the Egyptians it was the “heart.” [back]
Note 7. Ancestor worship being universal in Egypt, the endowments for funerary services and offerings for the deceased kings must have been very large. [back]
Note 8. The “Double Crown” was that of Upper and Lower Egypt. [back]
Note 9. The Reed and the Hornet were the symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt, respectively. [back]
Note 10. The “Black Land” is the alluvial of Egypt, the “Red Land” is its sandy border. [back]
Note 11. “Rekhyt,” like “Pat,” seems to be a designation of the Egyptians. To “open the throat” of a man is to give him life by enabling him to breathe. [back]
Note 12. A “good burial” after a “long old age” was a characteristic wish of the Egyptians. [back]
 
 
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