Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Ancient Egyptian Literature

Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom

Miriam Lichtheim
With a New Foreword by Hans-W. Fischer-Elfert
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 2
Pages: 264
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Ancient Egyptian Literature
    Book Description:

    First published in 1973 – and followed by Volume II in 1976 and Volume III in 1980 – this anthology has assumed classic status in the field of Egyptology and portrays the remarkable evolution of the literary forms of one of the world’s earliest civilizations. Volume I outlines the early and gradual evolution of Egyptian literary genres, including biographical and historical inscriptions carved on stone, the various classes of literary works written with pen on papyrus, and the mortuary literature that focuses on life after death. Introduced with a new foreword by Antonio Loprieno. Volume II shows the culmination of these literary genres within the single period known as the New Kingdom (1550-1080 B.C.). With a new foreword by Hans-W. Fischer-Elfert. Volume III spans the last millennium of Pharaonic civilization, from the tenth century B.C. to the beginning of the Christian era. With a new foreword by Joseph G. Manning.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93306-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Brief Chronology of the New Kingdom
    (pp. x-x)
  4. Abbreviations and Symbols
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Foreword to the 2006 Edition
    (pp. xv-xxiv)
    Hans-W. Fischer-Elfert

    Thirty years have passed since the first edition of Miriam Lichtheim’s (henceforthAEL). It is only natural that many studies of single texts included in her anthology, as well as on the nature of Egyptian literature in general, have appeared since then.¹ New texts have also been identified and published that she would have classified as belonging to one of the three styles she identified as prose, poetry, and orational style,² but that she certainly would have excluded from her anthology owing to their bad state of preservation. The enlarged edition of William Kelly Simpson’s anthologyThe Literature of Ancient...

  6. Introduction Continuity and Change
    (pp. 3-8)

    The military campaigns of King Ahmose drove the Hyksos from the soil of Egypt, reunited the nation under a strong dynasty, and set in motion an expansionist policy of foreign conquests.

    With the Hyksos expelled and Lower Nubia reconquered, King Amenhotep I devoted himself to the building of the new capital city, Thebes, and to its westbank where a vast necropolis of splendidly decorated rock-tombs began to rise. His successor, Thutmose I, embarked on far-flung conquests. In the south he passed beyond the strongly fortified border of the second cataract and campaigned in Upper Nubia. In the east he traversed...

  7. PART ONE Monumental Inscriptions
    (pp. 9-78)

    The three tomb inscriptions in this section are major representatives of their kind. TheAutobiography of Ahmose son of Abanacontinues the traditional genre of tomb autobiography. Its special interest is historical, for it furnishes the principal account of the expulsion of the Hyksos. It is a wholly martial autobiography that describes the actions and career of a soldier. As such it is a rarity among Egyptian autobiographies, for most of them came from members of the civilian bureaucracy.

    Ahmose began his career as a soldier on board a ship, stepping into the position that his father had held. Having...

  8. PART TWO Hymns, Prayers, and a Harper’s Song
    (pp. 79-116)

    A round-topped limestone stela, 1.03 x 0.62 m, of fine workmanship, dating from the Eighteenth Dynasty. In the lunette there are two offering scenes showing, on the left, the official Amenmose and his wife Nefertari seated before an offering table, and, on the right, a lady named Baket, whose relationship to Amenmose is not stated. Before Amenmose stands a son with his arms raised in the gesture of offering. Another son stands behind the couple, and more sons and daughters are seated below. A priest also performs offering rites before the lady Baket. Below the scenes is the hymn to...

  9. PART THREE From the Book of the Dead
    (pp. 117-132)

    The Book of the Dead, or, “the coming forth by day,” as the Egyptians called it, was a large compilation of spells designed to bring about the resurrection of the dead person and his safety in the afterlife. It is the direct successor of the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts. Like the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts, the Book of the Dead reflects ritual acts performed during and after the burial. Gathered into a collection and inscribed on papyrus scrolls, the spells acquired the form of a massproduced book that could be purchased by anyone. The prospective owner merely had...

  10. PART FOUR Instructions
    (pp. 133-164)

    The Instruction of Any has long been known through a single manuscript: Papyrus Boulaq 4 of the Cairo Museum, which dates from the Twenty-First or Twenty-Second Dynasty. Of the first pages only small fragments have remained, and the copy as a whole abounds in textual corruptions due to incomprehension on the part of the copying scribe. The introductory sentence of the work is preserved on a tablet in the Berlin Museum (No. 8934), and small portions of the text are found in three papyrus fragments in the Musée Guimet, in Papyrus Chester Beatty V of the British Museum, and in...

  11. PART FIVE Be a Scribe
    (pp. 165-178)

    Numerous papyri and ostraca of Ramesside date testify to the existence of a school system that taught young boys to become professional scribes and hence civil servants. Not all instruction took place in schools. Many of the texts suggest a personal form of teaching in which a senior official guided a young man who had completed his basic schooling and was already a member of the bureaucracy.

    Writing was taught by making the pupils copy a variety of compositions: literary works that were highly esteemed, and basic genres such as letters, hymns, prayers, and of course, instructions in wisdom. Through...

  12. PART SIX Love Poems
    (pp. 179-194)

    Four manuscripts containing love poems are known. They are: Papyrus Chester Beatty 1; Papyrus Harris 500; a Turin Papyrus fragment; and a fragmentary Cairo Museum Vase.

    The handsome and well-preservedPapyrus Chester Beatty Icontains, along with other texts, three collections of love poems. They are: (I.a) An integrated cycle of seven stanzas, each with a numbered stanza heading, and the whole introduced by a title. The cycle occupies Section C 1-5 on theversoof the papyrus. (I.b) A sequence of three poems, lacking a numbering device but held together by their interrelated content. It occupies Section G 1-2...

  13. PART SEVEN Tales
    (pp. 195-230)

    Apart fromThe Destruction of Mankind, which is probably a tale of the Middle Kingdom, the five best preserved tales of the New Kingdom are assembled here. Except for theReport of Wenamun,which may be a true account, the New Kingdom tales are works of the imagination. This is not to say that they are folktales. They are, on the contrary, complex and deliberate artistic creations. The language they employ is the vernacular of the New Kingdom, handled by the different authors with greater or lesser verbal wealth and sophistication. Most New Kingdom tales, including the ones not translated...

  14. Indexes
    (pp. 233-239)