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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From an Epitaph
Egyptian Literature
 
        
Translation of Francis Llewellyn Griffith
  
  [In the British Museum there is a memorial tablet of Ptolemaic date for a lady of highest sacerdotal descent, on her mother’s side as well as on her father’s. She was married to the chief priest of Ptah, and on her death she addresses her male relations and friends among the priests of chief rank with words and sentiments very different from the orthodox prayers and formulæ which cover the funerary stelæ of Pharaonic times; though much the same line of thought found utterance in the songs of the harpers.]

O BROTHER, husband, friend, thy desire to drink and to eat hath not ceased, [therefore] be drunken, enjoy the love of women, make holiday. Follow thy desire by night and by day. Put not care within thine heart. Lo! are not these the years of thy life upon earth? For as for Amenti, it is a land of slumber and of heavy darkness, a resting-place for those who have passed within it. Each sleepeth [there] in his own form; they never more awake to see their fellows, they behold not their fathers nor their mothers, their heart is careless of their wives and children.  1
  The water of life with which every mouth is moistened is corruption to me, the water that is by me corrupteth me; I know not what to do 1 since I came into this valley. Give me running water; say to me: “Water shall not cease to be brought to thee.” Turn my face to the north wind upon the edge of the water. Verily thus shall my heart be cooled, refreshed from its pain. 2  2
  Verily I think on him whose name is “Come!” All who are called of him come to him instantly, their hearts terrified with fear of him. There is none whom he regardeth among gods or men; with him the great are as the small. His hand cannot be held back from aught that he desireth; he snatcheth the child from its mother, as well as the aged who are continually meeting him on his way. All men fear and pray before him, but he heedeth them not. None cometh to gaze on him in wonder; he hearkeneth not unto them who adore him. He is not seen 3 that propitiatory offerings of any kind should be made to him.  3
 
Note 1. An expression of utter bewilderment; lit., “I know not the estate which is upon me.” [back]
Note 2. To these thinkers, thirst (since the presence of water would induce putrefaction of the body) and suffocation were the chief material sufferings of the dead. [back]
Note 3. From this curious expression it is evident that the Egyptians considered it necessary that a deity should be visibly represented by statue or animal, in order that he should receive the offerings presented to him. They never personified a god of Death, only a god of the Dead. [back]
 
 
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