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The Tale of Sinuhe

R 1 The Patrician and Count,1 The Tale begins as a funerary Autobiography with the titles held by Sinuhe at the end of his life. The first two mark him as a person of high rank, though not of hereditary nobility; that of Governor … anticipates his activities abroad. True Acquaintance refers to Sinuhe as a member of the court, and articulates the importance of a person's relationship with their king in the Tale. The title of Follower (i.e. retainer) is repeated in Sinuhe's opening statement as he starts to recount his life; it indicates his original (lower) status, and, like that of Governor, is ironic when viewed with hindsight. The name Sinuhe means ‘Son of the Sycomore’, referring to the most characteristic tree of Egypt, and one associated with Hathor, the goddess of fertility and rebirth, who features throughout the Tale. He describes himself as a palace servant of the late Queen Nefru, who was a daughter of Amenemhat I (c.1938–1908 BC) and the wife of Senwosret I (c.1918–1875 BC). Khnemsut and Qanefru are the cultic enclosures attached to the pyramids of Senwosret and Amenemhat respectively, near modern el-Lisht, some 30 km south of Memphis. The whole stanza has a formal, elevated, and funerary tone, as befits an Autobiography. Governor of the Sovereign's Domains in the Syrian lands, the True Acquaintance of the King, whom he loves, the Follower, Sinuhe says, ‘I was a Follower who followed his lord, a servant of the Royal Chambers and of the Patrician Lady, the greatly praised, the Queen of Senwosret in Khnemsut, R 5 the Princess of Amenemhat in Qanefru, Nefru, the blessed lady.

REGNAL YEAR 30, MONTH 3 OF THE INUNDATION SEASON, DAY 7:2 Regnal year 30 … is the date of Sehotepibre Amenemhat I's sudden death, which the following stately verses record as a withdrawal of the divine king from humanity into the world of the gods. His horizon is the royal pyramid, already alluded to in the preceding stanza (see n. 1). The God ascended to his horizon; the Dual King Sehotepibre mounted to heaven, and was united with the sun, the divine flesh mingling with its creator. The Residence was in silence,3 The second half of the stanza moves to the human sphere, while maintaining a calm and monumental style; grief is described in terms of the élite. The Residence is the dwelling place of the king, the capital of the Twelfth Dynasty, called Itjtawi, near modern el-Lisht (see n. 1). Here the Great Portal of the palace is shut to the audience, and is reopened only towards the end of the Tale. hearts were in mourning, the Great Portal was shut, R 10 the entourage was bowed down, and the patricians were in grief.

Now his Majesty had sent out an expedition to the Libyan land,4 The Libyan land is the desert country west of Egypt. The narrative now begins its move to more specific events. The title Perfected God is a royal epithet referring to the king's being made divine at his accession; the succession of the new king is presented smoothly, as if already achieved. The account of his victorious return is in the language of commemorative inscriptions: all as it should be, despite the king's death. with his eldest son at its head, the Perfected God Senwosret; R 15 but now he was returning, having carried off Libyan captives and all sorts of cattle without number. The Friends of the Court5 The Friends are the inner members of the royal court: the title is derived from closeness to the king. The narrative alludes circumspectly to the shock of the king's death, and moves very gently from the ideal state of affairs to a harsher reality. sent to the western border to inform the prince of the affair which had happened in the Audience Hall.

On the road the messengers found him.6 The mention of night-fall evokes the potentially chaotic nature of the events surrounding a king's death. The falcon is the new king, an embodiment of the falcon-god Horus. He secretly leaves for the Residence to ensure his succession; a message is then sent by him to his siblings (on whom Sinuhe is waiting) to inform them of their father's death, and one of them is summoned, to assist him in his accession. R 20 They reached him at nightfall. Not a moment did he wait; the falcon flew off with his followers, without informing his expedition. Now, when the royal children accompanying him on this expedition were sent to, B 1 one of them was summoned. Now, when I was standing on duty,7 In the second part of the stanza, Sinuhe describes for the first time his own actions: chaos and panic irrupt on a personal level, as he unofficially overhears the news of the king's death while in attendance on the royal children. The original audience would have known what the Tale leaves unspoken: that this news told how the king had been assassinated (see The Teaching of King Amenemhat, pp. 203–11). Sinuhe hides himself like a common thief until the coast is clear (the traveller is the royal child on his way to the Residence). I heard his voice as he spoke, as I was a little way off. My heart staggered, my arms spread out; trembling fell on every limb. I removed myself, leaping, to look for a hiding place. B 5 I put myself between two bushes, until the traveller had parted from the road.

I travelled southwards.8 A stanza of rapid flight, providing a detailed description of constant movement over two days (see Map, p. xxxiii). Sinuhe explains that he fled away from the court, in terror of the interregnum (him is the old king). I did not plan to reach this Residence, expecting strife would happen; I did not think to live after him. I went across Lake Maaty in the region of the Sycomore.9 The Sycomore is probably a tree sanctuary to Hathor at Giza, and Maaty a lake or canal nearby. As the name Sinuhe means ‘Son of the Sycomore’, and Maaty is ‘Right-place’, these place names evoke the home and the values which Sinuhe is leaving behind. The Isle of Sneferu is a funerary estate that was established by a famous and benevolent Fourth Dynasty king. The confused meeting with a man gives the flight an aspect of social chaos and reversal (recalling the themes of contemporaneous literary Discourses). Cattle-Quay was probably a small village opposite modern Gebel Ahmar—a sharp contrast to the royal Residence. I came to the Isle of Sneferu. B 10 I passed a day on the edge of a field. When it was daylight again, I made an early start. I met a man standing in my way. He saluted me, though I was afraid of him. When it was supper-time, I had arrived at Cattle-Quay.

I crossed in a rudderless barge10 The wind-blown rudderless barge, an intervention of chance, forces Sinuhe to flee eastward instead of continuing his planned flight to the south; a rudderless ship is a common image of the state in chaos. Iaku is a settlement to the west of the quarries of the Red Mountain (modern Gebel Ahmar), where there was a shrine, referred to here, of the goddess Hathor (the Lady), the patroness of foreign places and quarrying (see n. 1). blown by the west wind. B 15 I passed east of Iaku, above Lady of the Red Mountain. I gave my feet a northwards path,11 Sinuhe now moves north-east towards what was the edge of the civilized world. The Walls of the Ruler was a fortress built by Amenemhat I to guard the eastern border, in the region of the Wadi Tumilat. He behaves like a barbarian, terrified of being spotted; the echo of his earlier hiding in a bush (B 4–5) gives the impression of continuing flight. The mention of Syrians, Egypt's barbarous enemies, anticipates later developments. and I reached The Walls of the Ruler, made to beat back the Syrians. I crouched down in a bush for fear of being seen by the watcher on duty upon the wall.

B 20 I travelled in the night-time.12 The travelling in the night-time of this third stanza of flight reverses his previous pattern of travel, and evokes the chaos which caused Senwosret to return to Egypt by night (R 20–2). Peten is an otherwise unknown location, on the way to Kemur, the bitter lakes (including Lake Timsah); it was presumably the area at the end of the Wadi Tumilat. As Sinuhe crosses the boundary out of Egypt, this symbolically charged moment is marked by his near death (described in the central verse of the stanza). When it was dawn I had reached Peten. I alighted on an island of Kemur. Thirst's attack overtook me, and I was scorched, my throat parched. I said, “This is the taste of death.” But I lifted up my heart, and gathered my limbs together,13 Another sudden change in fortune occurs, reversing the effects of his earlier panic (B 2–3). The stanza's concluding allusion to Egypt and Sinuhe's being once again recognized suggests how inescapable his identity and responsibility are. The fact that this is by a Syrian who had been in Egypt anticipates the mixture of cultures that is to come. B 25 as I heard the noise of cattle lowing, caught sight of Syrians, and a leader of theirs, who had once been in Egypt, recognized me.

Then he gave me water,14 Water is given as an immediate help, while more substantial milk is being prepared (this latter is a touch of local colour). In Autobiographies ‘giving water to the thirsty’ is a virtuous act done by the narrator; here the conventions and roles of an ideal Egyptian life are reversed. while he boiled milk for me. I went with him to his tribe, and what they did was good. Country gave me to country.15 The rapid uncontrolled movement away from Egypt continues, through foreign countries (as if too numerous to be named). Byblos was a Syrian port with traditional Egyptian connections, while Qedem is probably the wooded area east of the Lebanon mountain range. Sinuhe is then captured by a local ruler; upper Retjenu is probably the land along the upper reaches of the river Litani, and is mentioned in contemporaneous inscriptions as an enemy state. Although Amunenshi, whose name may also be read Amunesh, has not been to Egypt (unlike the sheikh of B 25–6), he can speak Egyptian and has Egyptians with him, who may be other exiles, or messengers passing through. His land is presented as an Egyptianized foreign chiefdom. At this point, the first part of the Tale ends with verses whose frequent mentions of Egypt suggest that Sinuhe's own cultural and personal identity cannot be renounced by voluntary exile. I set out for Byblos; I got to Qedem. I had spent half a year there, B 30 when Amunenshi carried me off. He was the ruler of upper Retjenu, and he told me, “You'll be happy with me, for you'll hear the speech of Egypt.” He said this, knowing my character and having heard of my understanding, and the Egyptians who were with him there had vouched for me.

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B 35 Then he said to me, “Why did you come here?16 The second part of the Tale opens with a return to the events with which the Tale began (Amenemhat's death). Amunenshi naturally questions Sinuhe's motivation, which is a major concern of the plot. As an Egyptianizing chief, he is also curious, out of self-interest, to know if Egypt is still stable. Has anything happened in the Residence?” Then I said to him, “It's that the Dual King Sehotepibre17 Sinuhe's account repeats the stately description of R 6–8 (see n. 2), but adds the significant detail that the circumstances are unknown: the audience knows that Sinuhe overheard more about these circumstances than he admits to Amunenshi (this is his half-truth). The following verses also are duplicitous, as the death was not reported to Sinuhe, but overheard (B 1–2). He defensively stresses that his exile was not imposed on him, but was the result of his own heart or of an unknown power, and he proclaims his lack of guilt, perhaps implying a lack of involvement in the king's death. (In most manuscripts, the simile at the end of the stanza continues as it does in B 225–6.) has gone to the horizon, and how this all happened is unknown.” But I spoke in half-truths. “I have come from the expedition to the Libyan land: it was reported to me, and my heart failed B 40 and carried me off on the ways of flight. I had not been talked of, and my face had not been spat upon; I had heard no reproaches; my name had not been heard in the herald's mouth. I do not know what brought me to this country—it is like a plan of God.” Then he said unto me, “So how is that land18 Amunenshi now develops his question, taking up Sinuhe's mention of God and turning it to the divine king Amenemhat. His Egyptian-style phraseology shows that he is a loyal ally: the baleful goddess Sekhmet, the Lady of plague, is a protectress of Egypt; in a eulogy of the period, the king is a ‘Sekhmet against those who touch his borders’. without him—that worthy God, B 45 fear of whom is throughout the countries like Sekhmet's in a plague year?” I spoke thus to him, answering him, “Indeed, his son has already entered the palace,19 Sinuhe echoes the words of Amunenshi's question exactly, to stress that the new king is at least the equal of the old. His reply is an extensive praise song to the new king. Eulogy was an important poetic genre, characterized by sequences of descriptive epithets. The eulogy is an integral part of the Tale, since the king represents the culture that Sinuhe has abandoned, and is also very relevant to the addressee, who is ruler of a foreign country such as the new king subjugates. The stanza ends, as it began, with a description of the close relationship between the old and the new order. and has taken up his father's inheritance. Now, he is a God who is peerless, before whom no other exists. He is a lord of understanding, excellent of plans, effective of orders; B 50 coming and going are by his command. He subjugates the countries. His father stayed within his palace, and he reported to him that what he had ordained was done.

Now, he is a hero, active with his strong arm,20 Two stanzas now acclaim the king's military prowess against foreigners. The dichotomy between victorious Egypt and the craven barbarians is strongly drawn, as in official discourse. The king's power against defectors is grimly appropriate to the fugitive Sinuhe: his description dramatically expresses his own fear of royal punishment. a champion without compare, seen descending on barbarians, approaching the combat. He curbs horns, weakens hands; B 55 his foes cannot marshall troops. He is vengeful, a smasher of foreheads; close to him no one can stand. He is far-striding, destroying the fugitive; there is no end for the man who shows him his back. He is firm-hearted at the moment of forcing retreat. He turns back again and again; he shows not his own back. B 60 He is stout-hearted, seeing the masses; he allows no rest around his heart.

He is bold, descending on Easterners;21 The opening verse of the third stanza of the eulogy is implicitly pertinent to Amunenshi, who is an Easterner. The choice of the king's weapon is appropriate as barbarians are literally ‘Bowmen’. The Great One is the uraeus serpent on the Sungod's forehead; as an avenging goddess, she recalls the earlier mention of Sekhmet, an archer-goddess (B 45 and n. 18). his joy is to plunder barbarians. As soon as he takes up his shield, he tramples; he needs no second blow to slay. None can escape his arrow, none draw his bow. As before the power of the Great One, barbarians flee before him. B 65 Having foreseen the end, he fights heedless of all else.

He is a lord of kindness, great of sweetness.22 The eulogy now shifts to the king's grace; the two contrasting aspects of the king's power are paradoxically united in the second verse of this stanza. The stanza is full of mentions of birth and increase, as opposed to the death of the preceding stanzas (in the egg is an idiom for extreme youth). The king's grace is presented in terms of Egypt's social prosperity: the people who benefit live in cities, not in tribes. Sinuhe, however, seems completely transported by his own eulogy, and speaks as if he were still in Egypt, referring to it as this land. The stanza concludes with the expansion of Egypt (a phrase used in many royal inscriptions), which is ironical here, since Sinuhe has gone beyond its borders. Through love he has conquered. His city loves him more than its own members; it rejoices at him more than at its God. Men and women pass by, exulting at him. He is a king, who conquered in the egg, his eyes on it from birth. He makes those born with him plentiful. B 70 He is unique, God-given. How joyful this land, since he has ruled! He extends its borders.

He will conquer southern lands, without yet considering northern countries.23 The concluding stanza of the eulogy resumes the military and hostile ethos of the opening stanzas. Sinuhe makes its relevance to Amunenshi explicit, treating him as a vassal of the Egyptian king, whose grace will be extended to foreign lands in return for loyalty. He was begotten to strike Syrians, to trample Sand-farers. Send to him, let him know your name, as a man far from his Majesty who enquires! B 75 He will not fail to do good for a country that will be loyal to him.” And he said unto me, “Well, Egypt is certainly happy,24 Amunenshi ignores the recommendation in a laconic reply, which reassures Sinuhe, but also brings him back to earth, pointing out the dichotomy between his position and Egypt. There is ironic use of the word for happy/good: while Egypt's good relies on the king, Sinuhe's good must come from Amunenshi. This promise is fulfilled in the rest of the stanza, as Amunenshi adopts him. knowing of his success. But look, you are here, and you will stay with me; I shall do you good.” He placed me at the head of his children. He joined me to his eldest daughter. He had me make my choice of his country, B 80 from the choicest of what was his, on his border with another country. It was a good land,25 At the centre of the stanza is Iaa, whose description as a good/happy land ironically echoes the happiness of Egypt. It is a paradise (cf. the island in The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, p. 93) whose name may mean ‘Rushy place’; it is possibly fictional, although the name occurs in much later lists of foreign lands. called Iaa. Figs were in it, and grapes; its wine was more copious than its water; great its honey, plentiful its moringa-oil, with all kinds of fruit on its trees. B 85 Barley was there, and emmer, and numberless were its cattle of all kinds. Now, what came to me as a favourite was great. He appointed me the ruler of a tribe of the choicest of his country.

Provisions and strong drinks were made for me,26 The second part of the Tale ends with a stanza of plentiful sustenance, continuing the description of Sinuhe's well-being. The prominence of wild game in the list keeps his foreign (desert) position in mind, as does the culinary reference to milk—a touch of authentic local colour (recalling his rescue by nomads in B 26–7; see also n. 14). with wine as a daily supply, and cooked flesh, and roast fowl, as well as wild game. B 90 They would snare and lay it all out for me, as well as the catch of my own hounds. Many sweets were made for me, with milk in every cooked dish.

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I spent many years there,27 The stanza that opens the new part of the Tale—the repetition of many provides a link with the preceding one—recounts Sinuhe's rise to power over a long time period, during which he retains indirect contact with the Egyptian court. His encouraging all to tarry is an indication of his desperate isolation, as well as of his virtue in providing hospitality. In the following verses he returns to the formulaic declarations of virtuous acts as found in Autobiographies: he asserts that he is established in his own pseudo-Egyptian world. and my children became heroes, each man subjugating his tribe. The messenger who went north and south to the Residence B 95 would tarry for me. I would make all men tarry. I would give water to the thirsty, and I returned the wanderer to his path and rescued the robbed. The Syrians who became so bold as to resist the countries’ rulers—I countered their movements. B 100 This ruler of Retjenu28 His achievements abroad are recounted as in Autobiographies. This expresses Sinuhe's ambivalent position, since the phrases are normally used of Egyptians attacking foreigners; the description of his military deeds also shows how he is loyally conforming to the model provided by the Egyptian king: his triumph recalls that of Senwosret over Libya (R 15–16), and his excellent plans recall Senwosret's (B 48–9). Since his eulogy of Senwosret, the style of his narrative has resumed much of its stateliness. would have me do many missions as the commander of his army. Every country for which I set out, I made my attack on it, and it was driven from its grasslands and wells; I plundered its cattle and carried off its inhabitants, and their food was taken away. B 105 I killed the people in it with my strong arm, my bow, my movements, and my excellent plans.

In his heart I attained high regard;29 This stanza opens with more Autobiographical-sounding phrases, but Sinuhe's influence is soon shown to be unstable. This episode is the central one of the Tale—a face-to-face combat between Egyptian and foreign values. It is introduced as in a commemorative inscription, and the hero is presented as a scheming enemy. he loved me, knowing my valour. He placed me at the head of his children, having seen the strength of my arms. A hero of Retjenu came B 110 to provoke me in my tent; he was a peerless champion, who had subjugated all the land. He said he would fight with me, he planned to rob me, and thought to plunder my cattle, on the advice of his tribe. That ruler conferred with me;30 The fact that the challenge to Sinuhe makes Amunenshi feel the need to confer with him is a sign of Sinuhe's importance. Sinuhe denies any knowledge of the disruptive mighty man, either as an ally or as someone who has given offence (the private quarters imply interference with the man's women). I spoke thus, “I do not know him. B 115 So am I some ally of his, to walk around in his camp? Or does this mean that I've opened his private quarters, overturned his stockade? It is resentment at seeing me do your missions. How like am I to a bull of the roaming cattle in the midst of another herd,31 Sinuhe's speech becomes more reflective in a stanza that begins and ends with imagery of bullfights. Cattle are not only plunder (as in B 112), but are often an image for humanity, and this metaphor expands the individual incident beyond one man's experience. The roaming cattle are relevant to the wandering Sinuhe, who is living among nomads. whom the bull of that little herd attacks, B 120 whom that long-horned bull is charging! Can an inferior ever be loved as a superior?32 To Retjenu Sinuhe is an inferior outsider, but he has become a resented superior. As Sinuhe meditates, the imagery moves from the specific to the general and the geographical, to express the fundamental incompatibility of Egypt (the papyrus) with barbarians (the desert mountain). This proverbial-sounding verse is structured by wordplay: papyrus and mountain are homophones. No barbarian can ever ally with a Delta man; what can establish the papyrus on the mountain? Does that bull want to fight,33 Sinuhe's questions turn on the enemy to imply that the enemy's motives are as chaotic and unsure as they are veiled; the man's indirect challenge suggests that he may wish to back out. or does that champion bull want to sound a retreat in terror of being equalled?

B 125 If he has the will to fight, let him speak his wish!34 Sinuhe states unequivocally that he is willing to fight and places his faith in the certainty of divine justice. A final pair of rhetorical questions affirms that god must know the preordained result of the combat, contrasting with the previous pair's expression of uncertainty. Does God not know what He has fated, or does He know how it stands?” When it was night I strung my bow and tried my arrows,35 His preparations in the night contrast with his earlier irresolute night-time activities (the flight: see nn. 6, 12 The travelling in the night-time of this third stanza of flight reverses his previous pattern of travel, and evokes the chaos which caused Senwosret to return to Egypt by night (R 20–2). Peten is an otherwise unknown location, on the way to Kemur, the bitter lakes (including Lake Timsah); it was presumably the area at the end of the Wadi Tumilat. As Sinuhe crosses the boundary out of Egypt, this symbolically charged moment is marked by his near death (described in the central verse of the stanza).), suggesting the extent to which he has regained strength of character. In the second half of the stanza he narrates the anticipation of the duel. Even the natives pity Sinuhe, and the wives come to watch (presumably only the tribe's married women would be allowed to do this). Their sympathy encourages the audience's, and the sequence of questions heightens the suspense as the turning-point of the Tale approaches. (In the final question him is the foreign champion). sharpened my sword and polished my weapons. When it was dawn, all Retjenu had come, B 130 having incited its tribes and gathered its neighbouring countries, for it had planned this fight; and yet every breast burned for me, the wives jabbered, and every heart was sore for me, saying, “Is there another man mighty enough to fight him?” Then his shield, his axe,36 The stanza narrating the duel begins suddenly and continues swiftly. The champion's moves are described in complicated and extended syntax, but then Sinuhe's easy victory is narrated in laconic simple statements. The word stuck is (ironically) the same root as ‘establish’ in Sinuhe's earlier question ‘what can establish the papyrus on the mountain?’ (B 122–3, see n. 32). The irony of felling the enemy with his own axe is developed later, and prepares for a wider and unexpected change in Sinuhe's fortunes. The mention of every Asiatic brings out the foreignness of the surroundings, but Sinuhe the Egyptian reappears in the incident: his accuracy recalls the king's (B 62–3), and he thanks Montu, a falcon and bull-god of battle associated with Thebes (pertinent to the cattle imagery here, as is the word bellowing). B 135 his armful of javelins fell to me: after I had escaped his weapons and made them pass by me, with his arrows spent in vain, one after the other, he approached me, and I shot him; my arrow stuck in his neck, he cried out, and fell on his face. B 140 I felled him with his own axe, and gave my war cry on his back, while every Asiatic was bellowing. To Montu I gave praises, while his supporters mourned for him. This ruler Amunenshi took me into his arms. Then I carried off his property and plundered his cattle.37 The stanza progresses from the rapidly described fight to Autobiography-like statements of Sinuhe's triumph, as order returns to his life; after the interruption of the duel the description of his achievements resumes. B 145 What he planned to do to me, I did to him; I seized what was in his tent, and stripped his camp. With this I became great, and grew copious of wealth, and grew plentiful of cattle.

For now God has acted so as to be gracious to one with whom He was offended,38 The narrative moves from a past narrative into the present (today), as Sinuhe reflects in a dramatic monologue on his god-given good fortune. He places responsibility for both his flight and his present success on god, giving a (shortlived) sense of reconciliation. whom He led astray to another country. Today, He is satisfied. B 150 A fugitive takes flight because of his surroundings;39 Sinuhe hymns his triumph with a formal lyric. He contrasts his present state with the actions of various types of fugitive, and thus distances himself from his flight. His claim to have given bread echoes the ethical ideals claimed in funerary Autobiographies; white linen is the characteristic dress of successful Egyptians. The lyric ends as it began with a reference to the royal Residence, and the couplets are patterned by contrasts which point the contrast between two locations—Sinuhe's foreign dwelling place and Egypt. He can only formulate his foreign prosperity in terms of Egypt, and this suggests the self-contradictory nature of his happiness, which he gradually realizes even as he proclaims it.       but my reputation is in the Residence. A creeping man creeps off because of hunger;       but I give bread to my neighbour. A man leaves his land because of nakedness;       but I have bright linen, white linen. A man runs off because of the lack of someone to send; B 155       but I am plentiful of serfs. Good is my house, spacious my dwelling place,       and memory of me is in the palace. Whatever God fated this flight40 The dichotomy produces a breakdown, as Sinuhe realizes how desperate his position is. The second half of the stanza is full of convoluted syntax, desperate cries and rhetorical questions, and the language has grown more passionate. Like the first half, it starts with mention of God's responsibility and his grace, but here grace is not yet attained. The good event is his return to Egypt for burial (the phrase can be a euphemism for ‘death’). Earlier, he was pitied even by foreigners (B 131–3; see n. 35): surely god must pity him now. Before, he distanced himself from his flight, but here he moves to a deeper level, acknowledging his exile's reality but distancing himself from the motivation. —be gracious, and bring me home! Surely You will let me see the place where my heart still stays! What matters more than my being buried B 160 in the land where I was born? This is my prayer for help, that the good event befall, that God give me grace! May He act in this way, to make well the end of someone whom He made helpless, His heart sore for someone He compelled to live in a foreign country! Does this mean that He is so gracious today as to hear the prayer of someone far off who shall then turn from where he has roamed the earth to the place from which he was carried away? B 165 May the king of Egypt be gracious to me,41 This stanza continues his concern with grace, moving from god to his deputy, the king and his family. After the moment of self-realization, Sinuhe expresses his wishes to be in Egypt more directly and more calmly. that I may live on his grace! May I greet the Mistress of the Land who is in his palace, and hear her children's messages! So shall my limbs grow young again, for now old age has fallen:42 At the centre of the stanza is a description of his decrepitude, which echoes his near-death as he left Egypt (B 21–3); here a more lasting rescue is wished for. His legs ceasing to follow is very ironically appropriate, given his flight. Weariness of heart is a euphemism for the lethargy of death: his life is a living death. weakness has overtaken me, my eyes are heavy, and my arms weak; B 170 my legs have ceased to follow, and my heart is weary; I am near to dying. May they lead me to the cities of eternity!43 The cities of eternity are the Egyptian necropoleis, which are an otherworldly court in layout (they are either his legs and heart, or the royal children). Burial is often an image of the permanence of Egyptian values. The queen, Sinuhe's patroness, is here not just the Mistress of the Land, but the Lady of All—which is an epithet of Hathor and Sekhmet as a universal goddess in religious texts. The imagery of the final verse merges her with the sky-goddess, by alluding to the symbolism of the coffin lid—above the dead man—as representing this goddess who provides rebirth. Her children are a sign of Egypt's continuance: Sinuhe hopes to follow his queen after death, when she will tell him how they prosper on earth. (The wishes are linked together by repetition of the word follow, and by the fact that lead and pass are homonyms.) May I follow the Lady of All, and then she shall tell me that all is well with her children! May she pass eternity above me!

Now the Majesty of the Dual King Kheperkare was told44 As soon as this prayer is uttered, heard only by the Tale's audience, the king answers it: the children send the desired messages, and Sinuhe's heart, weary before (B 170), is revived. The humble servant is an epistolary formula for ‘I’, which prepares for the actual royal letter in the next part of the Tale. about the state of affairs in which I was. B 175 And his Majesty sent to me, with bounty of royal giving, to gladden the heart of this humble servant like any ruler of a country, and the royal children who were in his palace let me hear their messages.

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Copy of the Decree Brought to this Humble Servant45 Royal letters (decrees) are occasionally included in actual Autobiographies; here a title presents the decree as an exact transcript. The title makes the main purpose immediately apparent; the letter is brought to reverse Sinuhe's being ‘brought’/‘carried away’ into foreign lands (B 164) and bring him home. The letter itself opens with the full titulary of king, comprising five titles (see Glossary). about his Being Brought Back to Egypt: “Horus Living-of-Incarnations; Two Ladies Living-of-Incarnations; Golden Horus Living-of-Incarnations; Dual King Kheperkare; B 180 Son of Re Senwosret —may he live for all time and eternity! Royal Decree to the Follower Sinuhe:46 The use of the title Follower in the address is ironic (cf. n. 1). The king immediately assigns responsibility for Sinuhe's exile to his own heart; whereas Sinuhe had earlier placed his responsibility with god (B 147–9), the king, himself a god, denies this, and draws a contrast between Sinuhe's fallible heart and his own. The king reaffirms Sinuhe's earlier denial of being consciously blameworthy. For Qedem, see n. 15. Look, this decree of the king is brought to you to inform you that your roving through countries, going from Qedem to Retjenu, country giving you to country, was at the counsel of your own heart. What had you done, that you should be acted against? You had not cursed, that your speech should be punished. You had not spoken in the officials’ council, that your utterances should be opposed. B 185 This idea carried off your heart— it was not in my heart against you. This your Heaven, who is in my palace, endures47 The king assures Sinuhe that his patroness is still in favour; since the plot leading to the old king's death seems to have originated in the Women's Chambers in the palace, this would probably have seemed a necessary reassurance to the original audience. The image of the queen as Sinuhe's Heaven continues the imagery of B 172–3 (see n. 43)—the tale is moving to a cosmic level. and flourishes in the kingship of the land today as she did before, and her children are in the Audience Hall.

You will store up the wealth given by them,48 Another stanza of assurances, developing the topic. The king repeats Sinuhe's description of old age, as if he had heard Sinuhe's own thoughts (note the echo of today from the previous stanza). This description is a tacit promise, which is developed in the following stanza. To have in mind the day of burial is not just a sign of old age, but also of piety (memento mori). and live on their bounty. Return to Egypt! And you will see the Residence where you grew up, kiss the earth at the Great Portal, and join the Friends. For today you have already begun to be old, have lost your virility, B 190 and have in mind the day of burial, the passing to blessedness.

A night vigil will be assigned to you, with holy oils49 The king assures Sinuhe a full courtly burial, the privilege of the élite. The preparations, including the funeral procession, occupy much of the first half of the stanza. The night is here a period of funerary ceremonies, and as such is a transformation of the usually negative associations of night-time in the narrative. The funeral is a union with the gods: the mummy-wrappings come directly from Tayet, the goddess of weaving. The lapis lazuli is inlaid in the mummy mask to represent hair. The singers are a band who perform mourning songs. The heaven is the lid of the mummy case, imagined as the sky-goddess (a symbol of rebirth, evoking the queen's role as Sinuhe's patroness (see n. 47) ); this fulfils Sinuhe's earlier wish (see B 172–3 and n. 43). and wrappings from the hands of Tayet. A funeral procession will be made for you on the day of joining the earth, with a mummy case of gold, a mask of lapis lazuli, a heaven over you, and you placed in a hearse, with oxen dragging you, and singers going before you. The dance of the Oblivious ones will be done at the mouth of your tomb-chamber,50 The assurance now moves on to the rites performed at the entrance of the tomb, and the subsequent funerary cult performed in the pillared chapel next to the pyramid. The dance of the Oblivious ones is a ritual performance portraying spirits welcoming the dead man into the other world. The offering-invocation is a recitation summoning up offerings for the dead to live on, which accompanied the sacrifice of animals. Sinuhe will be buried in the same enclosure as the royal family, a privilege of the highest courtiers. This central position in eternity contrasts with his peripheral and transient state among Asiatics, as is described in the following verses. B 195 and the offering-invocation recited for you; sacrifices will be made at the mouth of your offering-chapel, and your pillars will be built of white stone in the midst of the royal children's. Your death will not happen in a foreign country;51 Ram's skin is impermanent and unclean, in contrast to the security and magnificence of an Egyptian burial, amid white stone (limestone), which will ensure his resurrection and save him from death. After assuring Sinuhe of an eternal homecoming, the letter ends with a summarizing couplet which reiterates the climactic command to return. Asiatics will not lay you to rest; you will not be put in a ram's skin when your coffin is made. This is too long to be roaming the earth! Think of your corpse—and return!” B 200 As I stood in the middle of my tribe, this decree reached me.52 In contrast with the promised bliss, the letter is received in the midst of a foreign tribe (not royal children). Sinuhe abases himself before the royal might. In his cry of joy, he now admits the responsibility of his own heart for his flight, in accordance with the king's view. It was read to me and I prostrated myself, I touched the earth and scattered it on my chest; I roved round my camp, shouting and saying, “How can this be done for a servant whose heart led him astray to strange countries? So good is the kindness which saves me from death! Your spirit will let me make my end with my limbs at home!”

Copy of the Reply to this Decree:53 In Autobiographies royal letters need no reply, but here one is necessary. Sinuhe presents himself using a title that expresses his continuing loyalty, as does the epistolary formula your humble servant (cf. n. 44). In the opening heading, Sinuhe characterizes his flight as not a conscious decision; this explanation of his motivation is developed in the letter, and his ignorance is contrasted with the king's all-knowing wisdom. B 205 “The servant of the palace, Sinuhe says, ‘Most happy welcome! Concerning this flight which your humble servant made in his ignorance: It is your spirit, Perfected God, Lord of the Two Lands,54 The letter begins with standard epistolary wishes on the grandest scale, with a great list of deities forming a rhetorical declaration of loyalty. The mention of the king's spirit recalls the previous stanza (B 203). Montu is a god of war (see n. 36) and a state god of Thebes, the original religious centre of the Twelfth Dynasty. which is loved by the Sungod, and favoured by Montu Lord of Thebes; Amun Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands,55 Amun Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands is the king of the gods and the god of kings, and a state god of Thebes, the lord of the temple of Karnak. He heads a wide-ranging list of gods: Sobek-Re is a fusion of the potent crocodile-god and the Sungod, and a patron of the Twelfth Dynasty; Horus is the kingly god, appropriate to the addressee; Hathor is a cosmic goddess, but also the goddess of foreign lands (see n. 10); Atum is the creator-god who, together with his children, the company of nine gods, forms the divine dynasty. All these deities are a group that is sometimes associated with Thebes, and which occurs in the formulae of actual Middle Kingdom letters. The following gods are associated with foreign lands and with the routes towards them: Sopdu–Neferbau–Semseru the eastern Horus is a compound god associated with the eastern desert (into which Sinuhe fled); the Lady of Imet is the goddess Buto, who appears on the king's head as the royal uraeus (Imet is modern Tell Farun, north-east of Cairo, and on the route to the eastern countries); the divine Council upon the Flood is a cosmic group with powers over the Nile and other bodies of water (part of Sinuhe's flight was by water); Min-Horus is another compound deity, again a patron of foreign countries; Wereret is the uraeus-goddess of the Crown, and Punt is a land of exotic marvels in Africa. The list concludes with two cosmic gods: Nut the sky-goddess and Haroeris-Re the elder Sungod. The group of deities shows the king's universal significance—including foreign lands, relevant to Sinuhe; this is summarized by the final generalized and all-inclusive verse; the Sea is that to the north of Egypt (a final foreign reference). The gods are invoked in wishes which affirm Sinuhe's loyalty to the king, and which acclaim his power as unbounded in both space and time. Sobek-Re, Horus, Hathor, Atum and his company of Gods, Sopdu-Neferbau-Semseru the eastern Horus, the Lady of Imet—may she enfold your head!— the divine Council upon the Flood, Min-Horus in the midst of the countries, B 210 Wereret Lady of Punt, Nut, Haroeris-Re, and all the Gods of the Homeland and the islands of the Sea— may they give life and dominion to your nostrils, endow you with their bounty, and give you eternity without limit, all time without end! May fear of you resound in lands and countries, with the circuit of the sun curbed by you! This is the prayer of a humble servant for his lord,56 Sinuhe's prayers for the god's gifts are a reciprocal response to the king's gift of mercy (the theme of reciprocity is fundamental to Egyptian concepts of truth and justice (cf. n. 76) ). The couplet echoes Sinuhe's earlier acclamation of the king's mercy (B 202–3). The West is the death from which the promised funeral and tomb will save him, by ensuring his eternal rebirth. (It is also paradoxically a rescue from his living death in the east.) who saves from the West. The lord of perception, perceiver of the people,57 After the introduction, Sinuhe acclaims the king's perception—an intellectual power used in the creation of the cosmos—of his exile and of his desire to return. The king displays the perception that Sinuhe lacked when he fled (cf. B 205), and the unspeakable flight is introduced with circumlocution. Sinuhe draws attention to the inexpressible (unrepeatable) nature of his predicament, which underlies the whole Tale. B 215 perceives as the Majesty of the Court what your humble servant was afraid to say— it is like an unrepeatably great matter. O great God, equal of the Sungod in understanding someone who willingly serves him! Your humble servant is in the hand of him who enquires after him:58 He affirms his dependence on the king (enquires echoes B 74), and pertinently acclaims him as a divine conqueror of foreign lands. Now that the true king has entered the Tale, Amunenshi disappears from view, as more important matters occupy the audience's attention. these things are placed at your disposal. Your Majesty is Horus the conqueror; your arms are mighty against all lands. Now, may your Majesty command that he be made to bring the Meki man from Qedem,59 Before turning to his personal concerns, Sinuhe diplomatically lists peoples who show that he has served the king by spreading his influence. The foreign dignitaries who can be brought by him to pay their respects are referred to by their places of origin or rule, rather than their names. Meki is perhaps the southern Beqa, and is part of Qedem (for which see n. 15); Keshu is perhaps the biblical Geshur, a north-western part of the region of Bashan. Meki and Keshu are included in contemporaneous lists of potential enemy states. Menus is perhaps the Amanus mountain range, now in south-eastern Turkey, although the Cretan Minos has also been suggested. The Fenkhu are the people of the Lebanese coastal plain, later known as the Phoenicians. The diction of the final verse mentioning the more general region of Retjenu is rather florid. B 220 the settler from out of Keshu, and the Menus man from the lands of the Fenkhu. They are rulers who are well known, who live by love of you. Without calling Retjenu to mind—it is yours, even like your hounds!

This flight which your humble servant made—60 Sinuhe admits his responsibility for the flight (and significantly starts to use the first person), but asserts that it was neither intentional nor caused by past blame. The stanza recapitulates the various earlier attempts to explain his flight: it was an inexplicable, unconscious, confused event, like a dream of geographical confusion; the Delta marshes and the southern Elephantine are at the opposite ends of Egypt. I had not planned it. It was not in my heart. I had not thought of it. I know not what parted me from my place. B 225 It was like the nature of a dream, like a Delta man seeing himself in Elephantine, a man of the marshy lagoons in Southern Egypt. I had no cause to be afraid; no one had run after me. I had heard no reproaches; my name had not been heard in the herald's mouth. Only—that shuddering of my limbs,61 The syntax moves from simple sentences to a longer and more complex sequence of clauses as Sinuhe truthfully relates his experience. In speaking to the king, he can formulate the truth of what happened more than hitherto, and he now reconciles the two distinct motives which he has mentioned earlier at various points—the external force of God and the internal one of his heart—by placing them in parallel juxtaposition. The heart was sometimes described as the ‘God within a man’, and here the two motives complement each other to convey a sense that the flight was by him and yet not by him. my feet hastening, my heart overmastering me, B 230 the God who fated this flight dragging me away! I was not presumptuous before,62 Sinuhe claims he could not have been presumptuous, so as to deserve reproaches, because the king is too awe-inspiring. This description of the king presents a vision of the land of Egypt, where respect is paid where it is due, very different from the confused jostling for power in Retjenu (B 120–1), or from Sinuhe's ambiguous position during his flight (B 10–11). The Sungod is the king's divine father, who authorizes the power of his son. Sinuhe implicitly acknowledges that Egypt is his home, and states the king's sole power over his world (the reference to his horizon extends the reference to the other world (see n. 2)). The lyrical stanza concludes by extolling the king's control of all the basic necessities of life: light, water, and air; his power implicitly has a caring aspect. for a man respects him who is acknowledged by his land, and the Sungod has put respect for you throughout the land, and terror of you in every country. Whether I am at home, whether I am in this place— it is you who veils this horizon of mine. The sun shines for love of you; the water of the river is drunk when you wish; the air of heaven is breathed when you say.

B 235 Your humble servant will hand over to the chicks63 At the very end of his reply, Sinuhe assures the king that he will not hesitate to relinquish his possessions; his intention to return is unstated but is implicit in his obedience. Although his foreign home is dismissed simply as this place, the description of his mature children as chicks is tender; such language keeps the audience vividly aware of the importance of the preceding events. which your humble servant has begotten in this place. A journey has been made for your humble servant! May your Majesty do as you desire! Men live on the breath of your giving:64 The concluding epistolary wishes include the most important gods from the opening of the letter (B 205–12 and n. 54): the cosmic Sungod, the royal Horus, Hathor the goddess of foreign places, and the warrior Montu. Sinuhe returns to the themes of breath and reciprocity, praying that the king will be given life by the gods in return for his gift of life to Sinuhe. may the Sungod, Horus, and Hathor love these your noble nostrils, which Montu Lord of Thebes desires to live for all time!’ ” I was allowed to spend a day in Iaa,65 Iaa is dismissed from the Tale with a description of what is being relinquished, and a cycle is completed: the land has not been mentioned since Sinuhe's arrival in it (B 81). Sinuhe's swift departure reveals that only Egypt is of importance now. The motif of a father handing over to his son when he retired or died was the Egyptian ideal: all is as it should be. handing over my property to my children; B 240 my eldest son was in charge of my tribe, and all my property was his— my servants, all my cattle, my fruit, and all my orchard trees. This humble servant then came southwards,66 At the end of the fourth part of the Tale, Sinuhe arrives at the Ways of Horus, the royal road leading from Egypt's border at Sile (modern Tell Abu Sefa) to the north-east; the toponym implies that he is back on ‘the way of true living’, and not ‘the ways of flight’ (B 39–40; Horus also recalls the eulogy of the king in B 217–18). His journey reverses his earlier one, which was, in contrast, solitary, uncontrolled, and towards death. The narrative moves forward rapidly through the gradual stages of his reassimilation. The commander is the first of a series of intermediaries who accompany Sinuhe back to the king; the mention of a military garrison may ironically recall the fortresses past which he fled earlier (B 16–19). and I halted at the Ways of Horus. The commander there who was in charge of the garrison sent a message to the Residence to inform them.

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And his Majesty caused a worthy Overseer of the Peasants of the Royal Household to come,67 The final part of the Tale is occupied with Sinuhe's reintegration. The title of the official who meets him is appropriate, as peasants were marginal members of society, as he is now. The Syrians are presumably the men mentioned in Sinuhe's letter (B 219–22), but their names are not given to the audience here: as he re-enters Egypt, they recede into the background. accompanied by laden boats, B 245 and bearing bounty of royal giving for the Syrians who had come with me, leading me to the Ways of Horus; and I announced each one by his name. Every serving man was at his duty.68 The voyage to the royal capital (Itj-tawi (see n. 3)) is a picture of idyllic social order. The mention of a harbour recalls Sinuhe's previous voyage (B 12–14). The stanza ends with his gradual progress into the palace itself, the repetitive description heightening the sense of expectation as the confrontation between Sinuhe and the king approaches. (Sinuhe's ushering reverses his having been ‘dragged away’ by god, B 230: the same word is used for both movements.) I set sail, with kneading and brewing beside me, until I reached the harbour of Itj-tawi. When it was dawn, very early, they came and summoned me; ten men coming, ten men going, ushering me to the palace.

I touched the ground between the sphinxes,69 At the great portal flanked by statues of sphinxes, Sinuhe is introduced to the palace, amid the full panoply of the court as a foreign ambassador: the royal children greet him without recognizing him (as is later apparent). The repetition of portal gives a sense of his progress; the second portal may refer to the canopy of the king's throne or to the portal between the Pillared Hall and the Audience Hall, where the king is enthroned. His terrified bow before the king re-enacts his original panic-stricken collapse when he was literally seized in the dusk by panic (B 2–4), and is also a second near-death, echoing his experience of death as he left Egypt (B 23). B 250 as the royal children stood in the portal, receiving me; and the Friends who usher to the Pillared Hall were showing me the way to the Audience Hall. I found his Majesty on the great throne in the portal of electrum. Then I was stretched out prostrate, unconscious of myself in front of him, while this God was addressing me amicably. I was like a man seized in the dusk, B 255 my soul had perished, my limbs failed, my heart was not in my body. I did not know life from death.

And his Majesty said to one of these Friends,70 Courtiers lift him up now, unlike his first near-death, when nomads helped him. The king's address summarizes his letter, and blames Sinuhe for his own suffering (echoing Sinuhe's prayer at B 159, and his own decree at B 197). “Raise him up, let him speak to me!” And his Majesty said, “Look, you have returned after roaming foreign countries, after flight has made its attack on you; you are now elderly, and have reached old age. Your burial is no small matter; you will not be laid to rest by barbarians. Act against yourself, act against yourself no more! B 260 You did not speak when your name was announced— are you afraid of punishment?” I answered this with the answer of a frightened man:71 Sinuhe's respectful reply describes both his irrational flight and his hesitation in replying now as the result of blind—but not disrespectful—panic. Once again he abandons himself to the king's grace. “What does my lord say to me, that I can answer? For this is no disrespect towards God, but is a terror which is in my body like that which created the fated flight. Look, I am in front of you, and life is yours; may your Majesty do as he desires!”

And the royal children were ushered in,72 The formal atmosphere is lightened by a moment of charm and humour. The queen's failure to recognize Sinuhe dramatically shows how much he has changed; the court itself, however, seems unchanging—the princesses still seem young, whereas Sinuhe has aged. Their cry poses the plot's central question of Sinuhe's true identity—is he really (literally ‘in truth’) barbarian or Egyptian?— which the king immediately resolves. and his Majesty said to the Queen, B 265 “Look, Sinuhe has returned as an Asiatic, an offspring of the Syrians!” She gave a very great cry, and the royal children shrieked as one. And they said unto his Majesty, “Is it really he, sovereign, my lord?” And his Majesty said, “It is really he.” Now they had brought with them their necklaces,73 The rattles and sistra are musical instruments shaken by women in cultic rituals. Like the necklaces (also shakeable) they are particularly associated with Hathor (see n. 74). By presenting them, the princesses enact a lyrical ceremony of renewal before the king (similar to those shown on tomb walls (see R. B. Parkinson, Voices from Ancient Egypt (London, 1991), 78–81)). their rattles and their sistra. And they presented them to his Majesty: B 270 “Your hands upon this beauty, enduring king,74 The Lady of Heaven recalls the epithets used of Sinuhe's patroness (B 172, 185–6, and nn.43, 47), but refers to Hathor, the goddess of love and rebirth, and the lady of the sycomore (see n. 1) and of foreign lands (see n. 10). Golden One and Lady of Stars are epithets of the radiant and celestial Hathor. The song is one of rebirth, and has an erotic charge, evoking the king's union with Hathor, who is merged with the queen, to ensure his own rebirth and continued vitality; the worlds of the court and of the gods are fused. Here the song ensures Sinuhe's rebirth. these insignia of the Lady of Heaven! May the Golden One give life to your nostrils, the Lady of Stars enfold you! South-crown fares north, North-crown south,75 The king unites the two parts of Egypt—the North and South—and upholds the unity of the state, expressed with images of royal insignia (appropriate to the ritual context). The phrasing echoes the opening of the tale where the old king's death united him with the gods (R 6–8); here the union is achieved within the court of his successor. joined and made one in the words of your Majesty, on whose brow the uraeus is placed!

You have delivered the poor from evil.76 The princesses urge the king to be gracious, so that the Sungod, his divine father, shall be gracious to him, evoking the principle of reciprocity. The Lord of the Two Lands is a title held by both king and god. They then hail him in a deliberately ambiguous verse: the Lady of All is either the queen or the goddess (see n.n 74, 43), so it is both: ‘Hail to you, as to Hathor’, and ‘Hail to you and also to your queen’. The goddess's role as protectress of Egypt is taken up in the following verses, as the princesses make their request. The imagery of archery echoes Sinuhe's duel (B 137–9), as well as his eulogy of the king (B 62–3). So may the Sungod, Lord of the Two Lands, be gracious to you! Hail to you, as to the Lady of All! Slacken your bow, withdraw your shaft! B 275 Give breath to him who suffocates! Give back the good we give on this good day—77 The princesses use the principle of reciprocity (expressed in the repetition of give, and of good) to request a reward in return for the special offering of their performance: this reward is their beloved Sinuhe. These verses echo the king's last speech (B 260) and are a summation of the paradox of Sinuhe's plight. They rename him at this rebirth North Wind's Son—an allusion to his exile in the north—instead of his old name ‘Son of the Sycomore’ (see n. 1). An additional paradox is that Hathor is the Lady of both the Sycomore and the North Wind. present us with North Wind's Son, the barbarian born in the Homeland! Through fear of you he took flight,78 The princesses now provide a final explanation of Sinuhe's flight, in which his irrational panic becomes a sign of the king's power and fearsomeness, and the abnormality of his actions is made into an expression of the natural order of the state. A final couplet expresses their faith in the king's protective care. through terror of you he left the land. A face that has seen your face shall not pale! An eye that has gazed at you shall not fear!”

And his Majesty said, “He shall not fear,79 The king's response is both a natural remark in the situation, and a grand dismissal of the chaos and terror of the preceding plot. The rest of the Tale is a rapid progression from this climactic moment to the practical preparations for his ultimate homecoming, his death. B 280 he shall not gibber in terror! He will be a Friend among the officials, and he will be appointed amongst the entourage. Proceed to the Robing Chamber to attend on him!” I went forth from the Audience Hall, with the royal children giving me their hands. B 285 And afterwards, we went through the Great Portal. I was appointed to the house of a prince,80 Sinuhe's reintegration takes place in a royal dwelling. The following verses allude to Sinuhe's possessions abroad: the wealth of this dwelling replaces that of the land of Iaa, and the building itself contrasts with the nomads’ stockades and tents (B 115–16, 145–6). The bathroom is a mark of prestige, and appropriate when Sinuhe is about to be cleansed of his experience. Images of the horizon are probably images of gods, either statues or wall-paintings; the idiom moves the audience towards Sinuhe's own horizon (tomb) and eternity. with costly things in it, with a bathroom in it and divine images of the horizon, with treasures from the Treasury in it, clothes of royal linen, myrrh and kingly fine oil, B 290 with officials whom the king loved in every room, and every serving man at his duty. The years were made to pass from my limbs;81 This stanza describes what Sinuhe had attempted in his central monologue (B 149–56)—the negation of his flight. He now literally casts off the load of his debilitating foreign experiences; beards were worn by foreigners, not Egyptians. The stanza is structured by a stately series of direct antitheses: foreign clothes and Egyptian fine linen; crude tree oil and fine oil. I became clean-shaven, and my hair was combed. A load was given back to the foreign country, and clothes back to the Sand-farers. I was clad in fine linen; I was anointed with fine oil. I slept in a bed. I returned the sand to those who are upon it B 295 and the tree oil to those smeared with it. I was given the house of a Governor,82 After his transitional dwelling, Sinuhe is given a permanent residence. The rank of Governor is now bestowed on him, echoing the very start of the tale (R 1 and n. 1). These stanzas present a panoramic series of dwellings, moving towards an eternal residence. The meals ironically recall Sinuhe's plenty when abroad (B 87–92), which is now surpassed and nullified through royal bounty. such as belongs to a Friend. Many craftsmen were building it, all its trees were freshly planted. Meals were brought to me from the palace, three and four times a day, as well as what the royal children gave, without making a moment's ceasing. B 300 A pyramid of stone was built for me,83 The pyramid is Sinuhe's eternal home; it is in the royal enclosure around the pyramid of Senwosret I at el-Lisht, which contained subsidiary pyramids for family members and the highest members of the élite. The repetitive description gives a sense that all is as it should be, forming a progression through the building and equipping of the tomb to the establishment of the funerary cult, with priests and a demesne as its endowment. Sinuhe has now attained the rank of a Chief Friend, at the very centre of the court (see n. 5). The image of Sinuhe is his statue in the tomb, the object of the funerary cult and the subject of the Autobiography; it is an image of permanent personality, transcending the mutability of his earlier life. in the midst of the pyramids. The masons who construct the pyramid measured out its foundations; the draughtsman drew in it; the overseer of sculptors carved in it; the overseer of the works which are in the burial grounds busied himself with it. B 305 All the equipment to be put in a tomb shaft— its share of these things was made. I was given funerary priests; a funerary demesne was made for me, with fields in it and a garden in its proper place, as is done for a Chief Friend. My image was overlaid with gold, and its kilt with electrum. It is his Majesty who has caused this to be done.84 As Sinuhe regains his true identity, the narrative resumes the form of an Autobiography, a development that is completed in the final verses. The description of tomb-building and the statement that these favours come from the king are standard elements in Autobiographies. The movement of the final stanzas ends here, and the audience is back where it started at the beginning of the Tale, listening to Sinuhe speak from his tomb. The Tale ends, as an Autobiography, by relating Sinuhe's death—his landing. This widespread metaphor is particularly appropriate for his journeying life. There is no other lowly man for whom the like was done. B 310 I was in the favours of the king's giving, until the day of landing came.’

So it ends, from start to finish,85 The colophon states that the literary text was copied accurately in its entirety. as found in writing.

Notes:

1. The Tale begins as a funerary Autobiography with the titles held by Sinuhe at the end of his life. The first two mark him as a person of high rank, though not of hereditary nobility; that of Governor … anticipates his activities abroad. True Acquaintance refers to Sinuhe as a member of the court, and articulates the importance of a person's relationship with their king in the Tale. The title of Follower (i.e. retainer) is repeated in Sinuhe's opening statement as he starts to recount his life; it indicates his original (lower) status, and, like that of Governor, is ironic when viewed with hindsight. The name Sinuhe means ‘Son of the Sycomore’, referring to the most characteristic tree of Egypt, and one associated with Hathor, the goddess of fertility and rebirth, who features throughout the Tale. He describes himself as a palace servant of the late Queen Nefru, who was a daughter of Amenemhat I (c.1938–1908 BC) and the wife of Senwosret I (c.1918–1875 BC). Khnemsut and Qanefru are the cultic enclosures attached to the pyramids of Senwosret and Amenemhat respectively, near modern el-Lisht, some 30 km south of Memphis. The whole stanza has a formal, elevated, and funerary tone, as befits an Autobiography.

2. Regnal year 30 … is the date of Sehotepibre Amenemhat I's sudden death, which the following stately verses record as a withdrawal of the divine king from humanity into the world of the gods. His horizon is the royal pyramid, already alluded to in the preceding stanza (see n. 1).

3. The second half of the stanza moves to the human sphere, while maintaining a calm and monumental style; grief is described in terms of the élite. The Residence is the dwelling place of the king, the capital of the Twelfth Dynasty, called Itjtawi, near modern el-Lisht (see n. 1). Here the Great Portal of the palace is shut to the audience, and is reopened only towards the end of the Tale.

4. The Libyan land is the desert country west of Egypt. The narrative now begins its move to more specific events. The title Perfected God is a royal epithet referring to the king's being made divine at his accession; the succession of the new king is presented smoothly, as if already achieved. The account of his victorious return is in the language of commemorative inscriptions: all as it should be, despite the king's death.

5. The Friends are the inner members of the royal court: the title is derived from closeness to the king. The narrative alludes circumspectly to the shock of the king's death, and moves very gently from the ideal state of affairs to a harsher reality.

6. The mention of night-fall evokes the potentially chaotic nature of the events surrounding a king's death. The falcon is the new king, an embodiment of the falcon-god Horus. He secretly leaves for the Residence to ensure his succession; a message is then sent by him to his siblings (on whom Sinuhe is waiting) to inform them of their father's death, and one of them is summoned, to assist him in his accession.

7. In the second part of the stanza, Sinuhe describes for the first time his own actions: chaos and panic irrupt on a personal level, as he unofficially overhears the news of the king's death while in attendance on the royal children. The original audience would have known what the Tale leaves unspoken: that this news told how the king had been assassinated (see The Teaching of King Amenemhat, pp. 203–11). Sinuhe hides himself like a common thief until the coast is clear (the traveller is the royal child on his way to the Residence).

8. A stanza of rapid flight, providing a detailed description of constant movement over two days (see Map, p. xxxiii). Sinuhe explains that he fled away from the court, in terror of the interregnum (him is the old king).

9. The Sycomore is probably a tree sanctuary to Hathor at Giza, and Maaty a lake or canal nearby. As the name Sinuhe means ‘Son of the Sycomore’, and Maaty is ‘Right-place’, these place names evoke the home and the values which Sinuhe is leaving behind. The Isle of Sneferu is a funerary estate that was established by a famous and benevolent Fourth Dynasty king. The confused meeting with a man gives the flight an aspect of social chaos and reversal (recalling the themes of contemporaneous literary Discourses). Cattle-Quay was probably a small village opposite modern Gebel Ahmar—a sharp contrast to the royal Residence.

10. The wind-blown rudderless barge, an intervention of chance, forces Sinuhe to flee eastward instead of continuing his planned flight to the south; a rudderless ship is a common image of the state in chaos. Iaku is a settlement to the west of the quarries of the Red Mountain (modern Gebel Ahmar), where there was a shrine, referred to here, of the goddess Hathor (the Lady), the patroness of foreign places and quarrying (see n. 1).

11. Sinuhe now moves north-east towards what was the edge of the civilized world. The Walls of the Ruler was a fortress built by Amenemhat I to guard the eastern border, in the region of the Wadi Tumilat. He behaves like a barbarian, terrified of being spotted; the echo of his earlier hiding in a bush (B 4–5) gives the impression of continuing flight. The mention of Syrians, Egypt's barbarous enemies, anticipates later developments.

12. The travelling in the night-time of this third stanza of flight reverses his previous pattern of travel, and evokes the chaos which caused Senwosret to return to Egypt by night (R 20–2). Peten is an otherwise unknown location, on the way to Kemur, the bitter lakes (including Lake Timsah); it was presumably the area at the end of the Wadi Tumilat. As Sinuhe crosses the boundary out of Egypt, this symbolically charged moment is marked by his near death (described in the central verse of the stanza).

13. Another sudden change in fortune occurs, reversing the effects of his earlier panic (B 2–3). The stanza's concluding allusion to Egypt and Sinuhe's being once again recognized suggests how inescapable his identity and responsibility are. The fact that this is by a Syrian who had been in Egypt anticipates the mixture of cultures that is to come.

14. Water is given as an immediate help, while more substantial milk is being prepared (this latter is a touch of local colour). In Autobiographies ‘giving water to the thirsty’ is a virtuous act done by the narrator; here the conventions and roles of an ideal Egyptian life are reversed.

15. The rapid uncontrolled movement away from Egypt continues, through foreign countries (as if too numerous to be named). Byblos was a Syrian port with traditional Egyptian connections, while Qedem is probably the wooded area east of the Lebanon mountain range. Sinuhe is then captured by a local ruler; upper Retjenu is probably the land along the upper reaches of the river Litani, and is mentioned in contemporaneous inscriptions as an enemy state. Although Amunenshi, whose name may also be read Amunesh, has not been to Egypt (unlike the sheikh of B 25–6), he can speak Egyptian and has Egyptians with him, who may be other exiles, or messengers passing through. His land is presented as an Egyptianized foreign chiefdom. At this point, the first part of the Tale ends with verses whose frequent mentions of Egypt suggest that Sinuhe's own cultural and personal identity cannot be renounced by voluntary exile.

16. The second part of the Tale opens with a return to the events with which the Tale began (Amenemhat's death). Amunenshi naturally questions Sinuhe's motivation, which is a major concern of the plot. As an Egyptianizing chief, he is also curious, out of self-interest, to know if Egypt is still stable.

17. Sinuhe's account repeats the stately description of R 6–8 (see n. 2), but adds the significant detail that the circumstances are unknown: the audience knows that Sinuhe overheard more about these circumstances than he admits to Amunenshi (this is his half-truth). The following verses also are duplicitous, as the death was not reported to Sinuhe, but overheard (B 1–2). He defensively stresses that his exile was not imposed on him, but was the result of his own heart or of an unknown power, and he proclaims his lack of guilt, perhaps implying a lack of involvement in the king's death. (In most manuscripts, the simile at the end of the stanza continues as it does in B 225–6.)

18. Amunenshi now develops his question, taking up Sinuhe's mention of God and turning it to the divine king Amenemhat. His Egyptian-style phraseology shows that he is a loyal ally: the baleful goddess Sekhmet, the Lady of plague, is a protectress of Egypt; in a eulogy of the period, the king is a ‘Sekhmet against those who touch his borders’.

19. Sinuhe echoes the words of Amunenshi's question exactly, to stress that the new king is at least the equal of the old. His reply is an extensive praise song to the new king. Eulogy was an important poetic genre, characterized by sequences of descriptive epithets. The eulogy is an integral part of the Tale, since the king represents the culture that Sinuhe has abandoned, and is also very relevant to the addressee, who is ruler of a foreign country such as the new king subjugates. The stanza ends, as it began, with a description of the close relationship between the old and the new order.

20. Two stanzas now acclaim the king's military prowess against foreigners. The dichotomy between victorious Egypt and the craven barbarians is strongly drawn, as in official discourse. The king's power against defectors is grimly appropriate to the fugitive Sinuhe: his description dramatically expresses his own fear of royal punishment.

21. The opening verse of the third stanza of the eulogy is implicitly pertinent to Amunenshi, who is an Easterner. The choice of the king's weapon is appropriate as barbarians are literally ‘Bowmen’. The Great One is the uraeus serpent on the Sungod's forehead; as an avenging goddess, she recalls the earlier mention of Sekhmet, an archer-goddess (B 45 and n. 18).

22. The eulogy now shifts to the king's grace; the two contrasting aspects of the king's power are paradoxically united in the second verse of this stanza. The stanza is full of mentions of birth and increase, as opposed to the death of the preceding stanzas (in the egg is an idiom for extreme youth). The king's grace is presented in terms of Egypt's social prosperity: the people who benefit live in cities, not in tribes. Sinuhe, however, seems completely transported by his own eulogy, and speaks as if he were still in Egypt, referring to it as this land. The stanza concludes with the expansion of Egypt (a phrase used in many royal inscriptions), which is ironical here, since Sinuhe has gone beyond its borders.

23. The concluding stanza of the eulogy resumes the military and hostile ethos of the opening stanzas. Sinuhe makes its relevance to Amunenshi explicit, treating him as a vassal of the Egyptian king, whose grace will be extended to foreign lands in return for loyalty.

24. Amunenshi ignores the recommendation in a laconic reply, which reassures Sinuhe, but also brings him back to earth, pointing out the dichotomy between his position and Egypt. There is ironic use of the word for happy/good: while Egypt's good relies on the king, Sinuhe's good must come from Amunenshi. This promise is fulfilled in the rest of the stanza, as Amunenshi adopts him.

25. At the centre of the stanza is Iaa, whose description as a good/happy land ironically echoes the happiness of Egypt. It is a paradise (cf. the island in The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, p. 93) whose name may mean ‘Rushy place’; it is possibly fictional, although the name occurs in much later lists of foreign lands.

26. The second part of the Tale ends with a stanza of plentiful sustenance, continuing the description of Sinuhe's well-being. The prominence of wild game in the list keeps his foreign (desert) position in mind, as does the culinary reference to milk—a touch of authentic local colour (recalling his rescue by nomads in B 26–7; see also n. 14).

27. The stanza that opens the new part of the Tale—the repetition of many provides a link with the preceding one—recounts Sinuhe's rise to power over a long time period, during which he retains indirect contact with the Egyptian court. His encouraging all to tarry is an indication of his desperate isolation, as well as of his virtue in providing hospitality. In the following verses he returns to the formulaic declarations of virtuous acts as found in Autobiographies: he asserts that he is established in his own pseudo-Egyptian world.

28. His achievements abroad are recounted as in Autobiographies. This expresses Sinuhe's ambivalent position, since the phrases are normally used of Egyptians attacking foreigners; the description of his military deeds also shows how he is loyally conforming to the model provided by the Egyptian king: his triumph recalls that of Senwosret over Libya (R 15–16), and his excellent plans recall Senwosret's (B 48–9). Since his eulogy of Senwosret, the style of his narrative has resumed much of its stateliness.

29. This stanza opens with more Autobiographical-sounding phrases, but Sinuhe's influence is soon shown to be unstable. This episode is the central one of the Tale—a face-to-face combat between Egyptian and foreign values. It is introduced as in a commemorative inscription, and the hero is presented as a scheming enemy.

30. The fact that the challenge to Sinuhe makes Amunenshi feel the need to confer with him is a sign of Sinuhe's importance. Sinuhe denies any knowledge of the disruptive mighty man, either as an ally or as someone who has given offence (the private quarters imply interference with the man's women).

31. Sinuhe's speech becomes more reflective in a stanza that begins and ends with imagery of bullfights. Cattle are not only plunder (as in B 112), but are often an image for humanity, and this metaphor expands the individual incident beyond one man's experience. The roaming cattle are relevant to the wandering Sinuhe, who is living among nomads.

32. To Retjenu Sinuhe is an inferior outsider, but he has become a resented superior. As Sinuhe meditates, the imagery moves from the specific to the general and the geographical, to express the fundamental incompatibility of Egypt (the papyrus) with barbarians (the desert mountain). This proverbial-sounding verse is structured by wordplay: papyrus and mountain are homophones.

33. Sinuhe's questions turn on the enemy to imply that the enemy's motives are as chaotic and unsure as they are veiled; the man's indirect challenge suggests that he may wish to back out.

34. Sinuhe states unequivocally that he is willing to fight and places his faith in the certainty of divine justice. A final pair of rhetorical questions affirms that god must know the preordained result of the combat, contrasting with the previous pair's expression of uncertainty.

35. His preparations in the night contrast with his earlier irresolute night-time activities (the flight: see nn. 6, 12 The travelling in the night-time of this third stanza of flight reverses his previous pattern of travel, and evokes the chaos which caused Senwosret to return to Egypt by night (R 20–2). Peten is an otherwise unknown location, on the way to Kemur, the bitter lakes (including Lake Timsah); it was presumably the area at the end of the Wadi Tumilat. As Sinuhe crosses the boundary out of Egypt, this symbolically charged moment is marked by his near death (described in the central verse of the stanza).), suggesting the extent to which he has regained strength of character. In the second half of the stanza he narrates the anticipation of the duel. Even the natives pity Sinuhe, and the wives come to watch (presumably only the tribe's married women would be allowed to do this). Their sympathy encourages the audience's, and the sequence of questions heightens the suspense as the turning-point of the Tale approaches. (In the final question him is the foreign champion).

36. The stanza narrating the duel begins suddenly and continues swiftly. The champion's moves are described in complicated and extended syntax, but then Sinuhe's easy victory is narrated in laconic simple statements. The word stuck is (ironically) the same root as ‘establish’ in Sinuhe's earlier question ‘what can establish the papyrus on the mountain?’ (B 122–3, see n. 32). The irony of felling the enemy with his own axe is developed later, and prepares for a wider and unexpected change in Sinuhe's fortunes. The mention of every Asiatic brings out the foreignness of the surroundings, but Sinuhe the Egyptian reappears in the incident: his accuracy recalls the king's (B 62–3), and he thanks Montu, a falcon and bull-god of battle associated with Thebes (pertinent to the cattle imagery here, as is the word bellowing).

37. The stanza progresses from the rapidly described fight to Autobiography-like statements of Sinuhe's triumph, as order returns to his life; after the interruption of the duel the description of his achievements resumes.

38. The narrative moves from a past narrative into the present (today), as Sinuhe reflects in a dramatic monologue on his god-given good fortune. He places responsibility for both his flight and his present success on god, giving a (shortlived) sense of reconciliation.

39. Sinuhe hymns his triumph with a formal lyric. He contrasts his present state with the actions of various types of fugitive, and thus distances himself from his flight. His claim to have given bread echoes the ethical ideals claimed in funerary Autobiographies; white linen is the characteristic dress of successful Egyptians. The lyric ends as it began with a reference to the royal Residence, and the couplets are patterned by contrasts which point the contrast between two locations—Sinuhe's foreign dwelling place and Egypt. He can only formulate his foreign prosperity in terms of Egypt, and this suggests the self-contradictory nature of his happiness, which he gradually realizes even as he proclaims it.

40. The dichotomy produces a breakdown, as Sinuhe realizes how desperate his position is. The second half of the stanza is full of convoluted syntax, desperate cries and rhetorical questions, and the language has grown more passionate. Like the first half, it starts with mention of God's responsibility and his grace, but here grace is not yet attained. The good event is his return to Egypt for burial (the phrase can be a euphemism for ‘death’). Earlier, he was pitied even by foreigners (B 131–3; see n. 35): surely god must pity him now. Before, he distanced himself from his flight, but here he moves to a deeper level, acknowledging his exile's reality but distancing himself from the motivation.

41. This stanza continues his concern with grace, moving from god to his deputy, the king and his family. After the moment of self-realization, Sinuhe expresses his wishes to be in Egypt more directly and more calmly.

42. At the centre of the stanza is a description of his decrepitude, which echoes his near-death as he left Egypt (B 21–3); here a more lasting rescue is wished for. His legs ceasing to follow is very ironically appropriate, given his flight. Weariness of heart is a euphemism for the lethargy of death: his life is a living death.

43. The cities of eternity are the Egyptian necropoleis, which are an otherworldly court in layout (they are either his legs and heart, or the royal children). Burial is often an image of the permanence of Egyptian values. The queen, Sinuhe's patroness, is here not just the Mistress of the Land, but the Lady of All—which is an epithet of Hathor and Sekhmet as a universal goddess in religious texts. The imagery of the final verse merges her with the sky-goddess, by alluding to the symbolism of the coffin lid—above the dead man—as representing this goddess who provides rebirth. Her children are a sign of Egypt's continuance: Sinuhe hopes to follow his queen after death, when she will tell him how they prosper on earth. (The wishes are linked together by repetition of the word follow, and by the fact that lead and pass are homonyms.)

44. As soon as this prayer is uttered, heard only by the Tale's audience, the king answers it: the children send the desired messages, and Sinuhe's heart, weary before (B 170), is revived. The humble servant is an epistolary formula for ‘I’, which prepares for the actual royal letter in the next part of the Tale.

45. Royal letters (decrees) are occasionally included in actual Autobiographies; here a title presents the decree as an exact transcript. The title makes the main purpose immediately apparent; the letter is brought to reverse Sinuhe's being ‘brought’/‘carried away’ into foreign lands (B 164) and bring him home. The letter itself opens with the full titulary of king, comprising five titles (see Glossary).

46. The use of the title Follower in the address is ironic (cf. n. 1). The king immediately assigns responsibility for Sinuhe's exile to his own heart; whereas Sinuhe had earlier placed his responsibility with god (B 147–9), the king, himself a god, denies this, and draws a contrast between Sinuhe's fallible heart and his own. The king reaffirms Sinuhe's earlier denial of being consciously blameworthy. For Qedem, see n. 15.

47. The king assures Sinuhe that his patroness is still in favour; since the plot leading to the old king's death seems to have originated in the Women's Chambers in the palace, this would probably have seemed a necessary reassurance to the original audience. The image of the queen as Sinuhe's Heaven continues the imagery of B 172–3 (see n. 43)—the tale is moving to a cosmic level.

48. Another stanza of assurances, developing the topic. The king repeats Sinuhe's description of old age, as if he had heard Sinuhe's own thoughts (note the echo of today from the previous stanza). This description is a tacit promise, which is developed in the following stanza. To have in mind the day of burial is not just a sign of old age, but also of piety (memento mori).

49. The king assures Sinuhe a full courtly burial, the privilege of the élite. The preparations, including the funeral procession, occupy much of the first half of the stanza. The night is here a period of funerary ceremonies, and as such is a transformation of the usually negative associations of night-time in the narrative. The funeral is a union with the gods: the mummy-wrappings come directly from Tayet, the goddess of weaving. The lapis lazuli is inlaid in the mummy mask to represent hair. The singers are a band who perform mourning songs. The heaven is the lid of the mummy case, imagined as the sky-goddess (a symbol of rebirth, evoking the queen's role as Sinuhe's patroness (see n. 47) ); this fulfils Sinuhe's earlier wish (see B 172–3 and n. 43).

50. The assurance now moves on to the rites performed at the entrance of the tomb, and the subsequent funerary cult performed in the pillared chapel next to the pyramid. The dance of the Oblivious ones is a ritual performance portraying spirits welcoming the dead man into the other world. The offering-invocation is a recitation summoning up offerings for the dead to live on, which accompanied the sacrifice of animals. Sinuhe will be buried in the same enclosure as the royal family, a privilege of the highest courtiers. This central position in eternity contrasts with his peripheral and transient state among Asiatics, as is described in the following verses.

51. Ram's skin is impermanent and unclean, in contrast to the security and magnificence of an Egyptian burial, amid white stone (limestone), which will ensure his resurrection and save him from death. After assuring Sinuhe of an eternal homecoming, the letter ends with a summarizing couplet which reiterates the climactic command to return.

52. In contrast with the promised bliss, the letter is received in the midst of a foreign tribe (not royal children). Sinuhe abases himself before the royal might. In his cry of joy, he now admits the responsibility of his own heart for his flight, in accordance with the king's view.

53. In Autobiographies royal letters need no reply, but here one is necessary. Sinuhe presents himself using a title that expresses his continuing loyalty, as does the epistolary formula your humble servant (cf. n. 44). In the opening heading, Sinuhe characterizes his flight as not a conscious decision; this explanation of his motivation is developed in the letter, and his ignorance is contrasted with the king's all-knowing wisdom.

54. The letter begins with standard epistolary wishes on the grandest scale, with a great list of deities forming a rhetorical declaration of loyalty. The mention of the king's spirit recalls the previous stanza (B 203). Montu is a god of war (see n. 36) and a state god of Thebes, the original religious centre of the Twelfth Dynasty.

55. Amun Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands is the king of the gods and the god of kings, and a state god of Thebes, the lord of the temple of Karnak. He heads a wide-ranging list of gods: Sobek-Re is a fusion of the potent crocodile-god and the Sungod, and a patron of the Twelfth Dynasty; Horus is the kingly god, appropriate to the addressee; Hathor is a cosmic goddess, but also the goddess of foreign lands (see n. 10); Atum is the creator-god who, together with his children, the company of nine gods, forms the divine dynasty. All these deities are a group that is sometimes associated with Thebes, and which occurs in the formulae of actual Middle Kingdom letters. The following gods are associated with foreign lands and with the routes towards them: Sopdu–Neferbau–Semseru the eastern Horus is a compound god associated with the eastern desert (into which Sinuhe fled); the Lady of Imet is the goddess Buto, who appears on the king's head as the royal uraeus (Imet is modern Tell Farun, north-east of Cairo, and on the route to the eastern countries); the divine Council upon the Flood is a cosmic group with powers over the Nile and other bodies of water (part of Sinuhe's flight was by water); Min-Horus is another compound deity, again a patron of foreign countries; Wereret is the uraeus-goddess of the Crown, and Punt is a land of exotic marvels in Africa. The list concludes with two cosmic gods: Nut the sky-goddess and Haroeris-Re the elder Sungod. The group of deities shows the king's universal significance—including foreign lands, relevant to Sinuhe; this is summarized by the final generalized and all-inclusive verse; the Sea is that to the north of Egypt (a final foreign reference). The gods are invoked in wishes which affirm Sinuhe's loyalty to the king, and which acclaim his power as unbounded in both space and time.

56. Sinuhe's prayers for the god's gifts are a reciprocal response to the king's gift of mercy (the theme of reciprocity is fundamental to Egyptian concepts of truth and justice (cf. n. 76) ). The couplet echoes Sinuhe's earlier acclamation of the king's mercy (B 202–3). The West is the death from which the promised funeral and tomb will save him, by ensuring his eternal rebirth. (It is also paradoxically a rescue from his living death in the east.)

57. After the introduction, Sinuhe acclaims the king's perception—an intellectual power used in the creation of the cosmos—of his exile and of his desire to return. The king displays the perception that Sinuhe lacked when he fled (cf. B 205), and the unspeakable flight is introduced with circumlocution. Sinuhe draws attention to the inexpressible (unrepeatable) nature of his predicament, which underlies the whole Tale.

58. He affirms his dependence on the king (enquires echoes B 74), and pertinently acclaims him as a divine conqueror of foreign lands. Now that the true king has entered the Tale, Amunenshi disappears from view, as more important matters occupy the audience's attention.

59. Before turning to his personal concerns, Sinuhe diplomatically lists peoples who show that he has served the king by spreading his influence. The foreign dignitaries who can be brought by him to pay their respects are referred to by their places of origin or rule, rather than their names. Meki is perhaps the southern Beqa, and is part of Qedem (for which see n. 15); Keshu is perhaps the biblical Geshur, a north-western part of the region of Bashan. Meki and Keshu are included in contemporaneous lists of potential enemy states. Menus is perhaps the Amanus mountain range, now in south-eastern Turkey, although the Cretan Minos has also been suggested. The Fenkhu are the people of the Lebanese coastal plain, later known as the Phoenicians. The diction of the final verse mentioning the more general region of Retjenu is rather florid.

60. Sinuhe admits his responsibility for the flight (and significantly starts to use the first person), but asserts that it was neither intentional nor caused by past blame. The stanza recapitulates the various earlier attempts to explain his flight: it was an inexplicable, unconscious, confused event, like a dream of geographical confusion; the Delta marshes and the southern Elephantine are at the opposite ends of Egypt.

61. The syntax moves from simple sentences to a longer and more complex sequence of clauses as Sinuhe truthfully relates his experience. In speaking to the king, he can formulate the truth of what happened more than hitherto, and he now reconciles the two distinct motives which he has mentioned earlier at various points—the external force of God and the internal one of his heart—by placing them in parallel juxtaposition. The heart was sometimes described as the ‘God within a man’, and here the two motives complement each other to convey a sense that the flight was by him and yet not by him.

62. Sinuhe claims he could not have been presumptuous, so as to deserve reproaches, because the king is too awe-inspiring. This description of the king presents a vision of the land of Egypt, where respect is paid where it is due, very different from the confused jostling for power in Retjenu (B 120–1), or from Sinuhe's ambiguous position during his flight (B 10–11). The Sungod is the king's divine father, who authorizes the power of his son. Sinuhe implicitly acknowledges that Egypt is his home, and states the king's sole power over his world (the reference to his horizon extends the reference to the other world (see n. 2)). The lyrical stanza concludes by extolling the king's control of all the basic necessities of life: light, water, and air; his power implicitly has a caring aspect.

63. At the very end of his reply, Sinuhe assures the king that he will not hesitate to relinquish his possessions; his intention to return is unstated but is implicit in his obedience. Although his foreign home is dismissed simply as this place, the description of his mature children as chicks is tender; such language keeps the audience vividly aware of the importance of the preceding events.

64. The concluding epistolary wishes include the most important gods from the opening of the letter (B 205–12 and n. 54): the cosmic Sungod, the royal Horus, Hathor the goddess of foreign places, and the warrior Montu. Sinuhe returns to the themes of breath and reciprocity, praying that the king will be given life by the gods in return for his gift of life to Sinuhe.

65. Iaa is dismissed from the Tale with a description of what is being relinquished, and a cycle is completed: the land has not been mentioned since Sinuhe's arrival in it (B 81). Sinuhe's swift departure reveals that only Egypt is of importance now. The motif of a father handing over to his son when he retired or died was the Egyptian ideal: all is as it should be.

66. At the end of the fourth part of the Tale, Sinuhe arrives at the Ways of Horus, the royal road leading from Egypt's border at Sile (modern Tell Abu Sefa) to the north-east; the toponym implies that he is back on ‘the way of true living’, and not ‘the ways of flight’ (B 39–40; Horus also recalls the eulogy of the king in B 217–18). His journey reverses his earlier one, which was, in contrast, solitary, uncontrolled, and towards death. The narrative moves forward rapidly through the gradual stages of his reassimilation. The commander is the first of a series of intermediaries who accompany Sinuhe back to the king; the mention of a military garrison may ironically recall the fortresses past which he fled earlier (B 16–19).

67. The final part of the Tale is occupied with Sinuhe's reintegration. The title of the official who meets him is appropriate, as peasants were marginal members of society, as he is now. The Syrians are presumably the men mentioned in Sinuhe's letter (B 219–22), but their names are not given to the audience here: as he re-enters Egypt, they recede into the background.

68. The voyage to the royal capital (Itj-tawi (see n. 3)) is a picture of idyllic social order. The mention of a harbour recalls Sinuhe's previous voyage (B 12–14). The stanza ends with his gradual progress into the palace itself, the repetitive description heightening the sense of expectation as the confrontation between Sinuhe and the king approaches. (Sinuhe's ushering reverses his having been ‘dragged away’ by god, B 230: the same word is used for both movements.)

69. At the great portal flanked by statues of sphinxes, Sinuhe is introduced to the palace, amid the full panoply of the court as a foreign ambassador: the royal children greet him without recognizing him (as is later apparent). The repetition of portal gives a sense of his progress; the second portal may refer to the canopy of the king's throne or to the portal between the Pillared Hall and the Audience Hall, where the king is enthroned. His terrified bow before the king re-enacts his original panic-stricken collapse when he was literally seized in the dusk by panic (B 2–4), and is also a second near-death, echoing his experience of death as he left Egypt (B 23).

70. Courtiers lift him up now, unlike his first near-death, when nomads helped him. The king's address summarizes his letter, and blames Sinuhe for his own suffering (echoing Sinuhe's prayer at B 159, and his own decree at B 197).

71. Sinuhe's respectful reply describes both his irrational flight and his hesitation in replying now as the result of blind—but not disrespectful—panic. Once again he abandons himself to the king's grace.

72. The formal atmosphere is lightened by a moment of charm and humour. The queen's failure to recognize Sinuhe dramatically shows how much he has changed; the court itself, however, seems unchanging—the princesses still seem young, whereas Sinuhe has aged. Their cry poses the plot's central question of Sinuhe's true identity—is he really (literally ‘in truth’) barbarian or Egyptian?— which the king immediately resolves.

73. The rattles and sistra are musical instruments shaken by women in cultic rituals. Like the necklaces (also shakeable) they are particularly associated with Hathor (see n. 74). By presenting them, the princesses enact a lyrical ceremony of renewal before the king (similar to those shown on tomb walls (see R. B. Parkinson, Voices from Ancient Egypt (London, 1991), 78–81)).

74. The Lady of Heaven recalls the epithets used of Sinuhe's patroness (B 172, 185–6, and nn.43, 47), but refers to Hathor, the goddess of love and rebirth, and the lady of the sycomore (see n. 1) and of foreign lands (see n. 10). Golden One and Lady of Stars are epithets of the radiant and celestial Hathor. The song is one of rebirth, and has an erotic charge, evoking the king's union with Hathor, who is merged with the queen, to ensure his own rebirth and continued vitality; the worlds of the court and of the gods are fused. Here the song ensures Sinuhe's rebirth.

75. The king unites the two parts of Egypt—the North and South—and upholds the unity of the state, expressed with images of royal insignia (appropriate to the ritual context). The phrasing echoes the opening of the tale where the old king's death united him with the gods (R 6–8); here the union is achieved within the court of his successor.

76. The princesses urge the king to be gracious, so that the Sungod, his divine father, shall be gracious to him, evoking the principle of reciprocity. The Lord of the Two Lands is a title held by both king and god. They then hail him in a deliberately ambiguous verse: the Lady of All is either the queen or the goddess (see n.n 74, 43), so it is both: ‘Hail to you, as to Hathor’, and ‘Hail to you and also to your queen’. The goddess's role as protectress of Egypt is taken up in the following verses, as the princesses make their request. The imagery of archery echoes Sinuhe's duel (B 137–9), as well as his eulogy of the king (B 62–3).

77. The princesses use the principle of reciprocity (expressed in the repetition of give, and of good) to request a reward in return for the special offering of their performance: this reward is their beloved Sinuhe. These verses echo the king's last speech (B 260) and are a summation of the paradox of Sinuhe's plight. They rename him at this rebirth North Wind's Son—an allusion to his exile in the north—instead of his old name ‘Son of the Sycomore’ (see n. 1). An additional paradox is that Hathor is the Lady of both the Sycomore and the North Wind.

78. The princesses now provide a final explanation of Sinuhe's flight, in which his irrational panic becomes a sign of the king's power and fearsomeness, and the abnormality of his actions is made into an expression of the natural order of the state. A final couplet expresses their faith in the king's protective care.

79. The king's response is both a natural remark in the situation, and a grand dismissal of the chaos and terror of the preceding plot. The rest of the Tale is a rapid progression from this climactic moment to the practical preparations for his ultimate homecoming, his death.

80. Sinuhe's reintegration takes place in a royal dwelling. The following verses allude to Sinuhe's possessions abroad: the wealth of this dwelling replaces that of the land of Iaa, and the building itself contrasts with the nomads’ stockades and tents (B 115–16, 145–6). The bathroom is a mark of prestige, and appropriate when Sinuhe is about to be cleansed of his experience. Images of the horizon are probably images of gods, either statues or wall-paintings; the idiom moves the audience towards Sinuhe's own horizon (tomb) and eternity.

81. This stanza describes what Sinuhe had attempted in his central monologue (B 149–56)—the negation of his flight. He now literally casts off the load of his debilitating foreign experiences; beards were worn by foreigners, not Egyptians. The stanza is structured by a stately series of direct antitheses: foreign clothes and Egyptian fine linen; crude tree oil and fine oil.

82. After his transitional dwelling, Sinuhe is given a permanent residence. The rank of Governor is now bestowed on him, echoing the very start of the tale (R 1 and n. 1). These stanzas present a panoramic series of dwellings, moving towards an eternal residence. The meals ironically recall Sinuhe's plenty when abroad (B 87–92), which is now surpassed and nullified through royal bounty.

83. The pyramid is Sinuhe's eternal home; it is in the royal enclosure around the pyramid of Senwosret I at el-Lisht, which contained subsidiary pyramids for family members and the highest members of the élite. The repetitive description gives a sense that all is as it should be, forming a progression through the building and equipping of the tomb to the establishment of the funerary cult, with priests and a demesne as its endowment. Sinuhe has now attained the rank of a Chief Friend, at the very centre of the court (see n. 5). The image of Sinuhe is his statue in the tomb, the object of the funerary cult and the subject of the Autobiography; it is an image of permanent personality, transcending the mutability of his earlier life.

84. As Sinuhe regains his true identity, the narrative resumes the form of an Autobiography, a development that is completed in the final verses. The description of tomb-building and the statement that these favours come from the king are standard elements in Autobiographies. The movement of the final stanzas ends here, and the audience is back where it started at the beginning of the Tale, listening to Sinuhe speak from his tomb. The Tale ends, as an Autobiography, by relating Sinuhe's death—his landing. This widespread metaphor is particularly appropriate for his journeying life.

85. The colophon states that the literary text was copied accurately in its entirety.

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