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The Dialogue of a Man and his Soul

……………………….]’1 One and a half sheets are probably missing from the start of the manuscript—about forty verses. These would perhaps have included a brief introduction setting the scene, an opening speech by the man in praise of death, and then the soul's disagreement. [My soul opened his mouth to me, to answer what I said,] ‘[……………………….] [unknown number of verses lost] [……………………….] 1 you will […] to say [………….] […………] Their [tongues] will not be partial2 The tongues belong to the judges of the dead in the otherworld, whose impartiality threatens any hope of a painless death. The soul seems to use this to justify his disagreement with the man. You (plural) are the audience hearing their dispute (see introduction, p. 152). that would be cr[ooked] retribution—Their tongues will not be partial!’ I opened my mouth to my soul, to answer what he said,3 The man's speech is rapid, with varied constructions, giving a sense of swiftly changing ideas in debate. He begins by describing the soul's reaction in the third person (this speech may be addressed in part to the audience (see n. 2)). Despite the lacunae, it is clear that by disagreeing with the man about his attitude to death, the soul is—in the man's eyes—trying to mislead him, and if they continue to disagree will in effect abandon him. Stand is a keyword (16, 144), later used of a survivor standing at the funeral of a dead man (cf. 42–3, 52–4). ‘This is all too much for me today! My soul has disagreed with me! Now this is beyond all exaggeration; this is like leaving me alone! My soul should not depart! He should stand up for me about this! [……]! He should […] without fault! He [may be far] from my body,4 The Day of Pain is a euphemism for the day of death and judgement, which the soul cannot avoid even though he shuns the man's body, and the perils of the otherworld such as the net of ropes, which was used by demons to trap men. 10 from the net of ropes, but it shall not come about that he manages to escape on the Day of [Pain]. Look, my soul is misleading me—though I do not listen to him,5 The man implies that the soul, by urging him to shun the cares of burial (presumably in its lost first speech), is actually leading him to ultimate destruction (death), as if the man's corpse was burned rather than being preserved; the enemies of the gods suffered destruction by fire in the otherworld, and it was also a means of capital punishment in this life. Death is here not just the end of a man's life, but the second, final, death that was inflicted on the dead who were condemned by the gods. is dragging me to death—though 〈I〉 have not yet come to it, is throwing 〈me〉 on the fire to burn me up! What is he like, […]ing […], with his back to his […]? He should stay close to me on the Day of Pain!6 The man urges his soul to agree with him and be on his side at the judgement of the dead (already alluded to (1–3)). In this court the soul should praise the man out of self-preservation, like a traveller who makes provisions for returning safely; the image of travel as a metaphor for life runs throughout the Dialogue. He should stand on that side, like a praise-singer does (this is the way to set off so as to return safely)! O my soul, foolish to belittle the sorrow which is due to life,7 In the second half of his speech, the man now addresses his soul directly, and accuses it of underestimating life's suffering and the joy of eternity. He implicitly extols the unchangeable West, the land of the dead, in contrast with both the impermanence of earthly life, and ultimate destruction (death (see n. 5)). you who constrain me towards death, when I have not yet come to it— 20 make the West pleasant for me! Is this pain? Life is a transitory time: the trees fall. Trample on evil, put my misery aside! May Thoth, who appeases the gods, judge me! May Khonsu, who writes very Truth, defend me!8 The man invokes various gods to ensure his safety in the otherworld: Thoth is the scribe and arbitrator of the gods, who is involved in judging the dead; Khonsu is, like Thoth, a lunar god of reckoning; the Sungod is the creator, and the ultimate judge, of the universe, whose bark carries the sun across the sky ensuring cosmic stability; Isdes is, like Thoth, a funerary god of judgement, and the Sacred Chamber is where the deceased are judged. These prayers respond to the soul's warning about the impartiality of the otherworldly judges. They are calmer and more stately than the earlier parts of the speech. May the Sungod, who controls the bark, listen to my speech! May Isdes in the Sacred Chamber defend me! For my need is pressing, a [weight] he has placed on me. 30 It would be a sweet relief, if the gods drove off the heaviness of my body!’9 His speech ends by begging the gods to free him from the troubles his soul has imposed on him by its dissent.

What my soul said to me: ‘Aren't you a man?10 The soul now butts in with a sarcastic question, and tells him to appreciate life, rather than wasting it in longing for death; the word ‘riches’ is homonymous with ‘lifetime’. —so you're alive, but to what good? You should ponder life, like a lord of riches!’

I said, ‘So I haven't passed away yet,11 The man replies in the same rather sharp tone, to assert that, even though he is still alive, the final destination—the West—is still the most important concern. Although the soul accuses him of abandoning life, it is the soul who is abandoning his fellow, and as a result it will be defenceless. but that's not the point! Indeed, you are leaping away—and you'll be uncared for, with every desperado saying, “I will seize you!” Now, when you are dead, but with your name still living,12 The man now offers the soul an alternative: death with a funerary cult which will keep a person's reputation living, and bestow eternal life. Then the Beyond (that place) will be a permanent home to it; alighting alludes to the bird-like manifestation assumed by souls. that place is an alighting place, attractive to the heart. The West, an [inescapable] voyage,13 The image of the West as a harbour is a common expression of eternity's role as man's home and an end to life's voyage. The restoration is uncertain. is a harbour. If my soul listens to me, without wrongdoing,14 The man describes, in measured verses, how agreement with him will ensure the soul's security after death. The soul will be like one of the wealthy and blessed dead (echoing the soul's earlier reference to a ‘lord of wealth’ (33)), whose immortality is ensured by survivors who provide a funerary cult around their pyramid. 40 with his heart in accord with mine, he will prosper. I shall make him reach the West, like someone in a pyramid at whose burial a survivor has waited. I will make a cool shelter for your corpse,15 The man also promises to provide for his soul after death and make him enviable (the soul having a corpse is poetic licence). Oblivion is a term associated with the unresurrected dead who are unprovided for. The first two couplets concern only the soul's felicity, but the third couplet includes both the man and the soul; the shady spot is an arbour, such as were used for feasting (and thus will inspire envious hunger). so that you will make another soul in oblivion envious! I will make a cool shelter, so that you will not be too cold, and will make another soul who is scorched envious! I shall drink at the river lip; I shall raise a shady spot, so that you will make another soul who is hungry envious. 50 But if you constrain me towards death in this manner,16 The man now threatens the soul with the consequences of condemning him to destruction (death). His arguments rely on the paradox that the soul's love of life will lead to death, whereas love of the West, which he advocates (cf. n. 5), would lead to eternal life. For alight, see n. 12. you will find nowhere to alight in the West! Be patient, my soul, my brother,17 He ends his speech by appealing to the soul as a relation, to stay with him until he has prepared for his longed-for death; he offers an attractive—almost homely—description of the day of burial; this term is used here rather than the more threatening ‘Day of Pain’ evoked earlier (10, 15). until an heir exists who will make offerings of food, and will wait at the grave on the day of burial, and make ready a bed of the necropolis!’

My soul opened his mouth to me, to answer what I said, ‘If you call burial to mind, it is heartbreak;18 The soul reasserts the contrasting view of death as painful, and matches the man's description of a funeral point for point. Burial is not a homely thing, but an expulsion. This speech reverses the common idea that ‘calling the West to mind’ inspires piety (see Introduction, pp. 150–1). it is bringing the gift of tears, causing a man misery; it is taking a man away from his house, and throwing him on the high ground. You will not come up again to see the sunlight! 60 They who built in granite,19 According to the soul, the horror of death is apparent in the impermanence of funeral buildings, which were designed to immortalize those buried in them. This impermanence means that even the wealthy owners of these monuments are no better off than the poor whose bodies are abandoned beside the river: death spares no one. In a single sentence the soul drags the man from monumental grandeur to corpses. The extended syntax, with its expansive treatment of suffering, contrasts with the repetitive formulations of the man's praise of death; the syntax evolves with the imagery, which echoes earlier passages (e.g. the oblivious ones (45 and n. 15)). For the soul, the water and the sun are hostile forces, whereas the man invoked the Sungod (25–6) and spoke of cool drinking water in the Beyond (47–8); a corpse has no survivor to speak the funeral rites for it (cf. 41–2), only fish (‘fish’, ‘mankind’, and ‘tears’ are all homophones). who constructed pavilions in fair pyramids, as fair works, so that the builders should become Gods— their altar stones have vanished, like the oblivious ones’ who have died on the shore for lack of a survivor, when the flood has taken its toll, and the sunlight likewise, to whom only the fish of the water's edge speak. Listen to me! Look, it is good to listen to men!20 The soul reminds the man that he, unlike the oblivious ones, has an interlocutor, and it now answers the man's commands to heed him with ones of its own to enjoy life. The terse imperatives contrast forcefully with the convoluted clauses of the preceding sentence. The advocacy of listening is characteristic of wisdom literature, and the soul does not advise mindless hedonism: the happy day can mean a religious festival as well as more frivolous enjoyment. Follow the happy day! Forget care!

A commoner ploughs his plot;21 The soul now tells a parable about the vanity of excessive care, to point out the man's fault in caring too much for the West. The style is looser, simpler, and more rapid. The tale concerns a lowly man, retaining the same social setting as was alluded to in the preceding verses; he is careful not to sail in dangerous weather, and at sunset cautiously disembarks for further safety. His journey is a pious and dutiful one: his feast day is a religious feast in which he is to take part (and contribute offerings). The unexpected end to his journey suggests the agony of death, which is not a ‘harbour’ as the man claimed (38). The climax of this disaster echoes the soul's earlier image of death as corpses on a riverbank (63–4). he loads his harvest into a boat and tows it along, for his feast day is approaching, 70 and he has seen the darkness of a north wind arise. He watches in the boat as the sun goes down, and gets out with his wife and children, and they perish by a pool, infested by night with a swarm of crocodiles. And at last he sits down, and argues,22 After the swift series of events, the narrative about the commoner halts with this lament. His debate with himself offers a parallel to the man's debate with his soul. Contrary to the man's view, the commoner, like the soul, sees the West as a country of no return, and for him life is so precious that its loss when mature is no grief compared to loosing it early (in the egg is an idiom for extreme youth). Death is here a ferocious predator: Khenty is a crocodile-god, a demon of death. The word ponder points the moral aim of the parable, by recalling 32–3, where the soul urged the man to ponder life in a positive fashion (n. 10). saying, “I am not weeping for that mother, although she has no way out of the West to be on earth another time; but I shall ponder on her children, crushed in the egg, who saw the face of Khenty before they had lived.”

80 A commoner asks for dinner.23 The soul immediately tells another similar parable, which increases the slightly sordid atmosphere. Another lowly man wants his food (dinner) before the right time (supper-time), just as the man is being over-eager for the West. Such impatience leads to distress and alienation: the lowly man's impatience makes him senseless and unrecognizable with rage. Urinating (the translation is uncertain) can be an image in literary texts for complaining. His wife says to him, “It's for supper-time.” He goes outside to relieve himself for a moment. He is like another man as he turns back to his house, and though his wife pleads with him, he does not hear her, after he has relieved himself, and the household is distraught.’

I opened my mouth to my soul, to answer what he said to me,24 The man replies in a contrastingly formal tone: he utters lofty lyrics with refrains. He takes images from the soul—the lowly setting (68–70), the riverbank (64–7), crocodiles (74–5), and the smell of excrement (82–4)—to present life as a dreadful swamp. This image shocks because this landscape was often portrayed as a setting for a dead man's rebirth through rituals of fishing and fowling and was given a general positive pastoral value. The reek of his name in life contrasts with his earlier hope that the souls's ‘name’ would ‘live’ in the West (36–7). His horror of life is implicitly due in part to the soul's disagreement with him. ‘Look my name reeks,     look, more than the smell of bird-droppings     on summer days when the sky is hot. Look my name reeks,     look, more 〈than the smell〉 of a haul of spiny fish 90     on a day of catching when the sky is hot. Look my name reeks,     look, more than the smell of birds,     more than a clump of reeds full of waterfowl. Look my name reeks,25 The mention of human workers prepares for the change from vegetable and animal desolation to the human wretchedness which dominates the rest of the lyric.     look, more than the smell of fishermen,     than the creeks of the pools they have fished. Look my name reeks,     look, more than the smell of crocodiles,     more than sitting under the river edges with a swarm of crocodiles. Look my name reeks,26 This image recalls the second parable about family dissent. In the following couplet there is another image of family collapse and alienation: although a child is healthy, he is disowned (perhaps due to illegitimacy, given the preceding couplet).     look, more than a woman     about whom lies are told to her man. 100 Look my name reeks,     look, more than a healthy child     about whom they say, “He belongs to someone who hates him.” Look my name reeks,27 This lyric ends not on a personal level, but with a description of dissent in the state; this wider horizon is developed in the following lyric. The motif of crocodiles continues indirectly through puns: sovereign is normally written with two crocodile hieroglyphs and the verb to utter treason is homonymous with to ‘be infested with crocodiles’ (74).     look, more than a port of the sovereign     that utters treason behind his back.

Who can I talk to today?28 In a second lyric, the man says he can find no one to speak to—he is alone and abandoned, even by his soul. The lack of friends, brothers, and intimate friends embodies the man's lack of an agreeable soul but also extends it further into society as a whole. The refrain occurs elsewhere as the lament of a wise man in adversity: ‘And the sage now grasps like an ignorant man … the wise man is saying, “Who can I talk to?” ’ (the Maxims of P. Ramesseum II, verso ii.4). The man's agony induced by his alienation is no longer personal, but universal, and the Dialogue is concerned, for the first time, with all humanity; the man uses the language of pessimistic discourses such as The Words of Neferti (q.v.). This lyric is the longest and most monothematic section of the whole Dialogue. It echoes both earlier statements and itself, and this degree of repetition articulates the pervasiveness of horror. The dreadfulness of today rebuts the soul's urgings to ‘follow the happy day’ (68), and the bleakness of the soul's images and narratives becomes in the man's mouth an implicit justification of death, since life is not worth living.     For brothers are bad,     the friends of today do not love. Who can I talk to today?     For hearts are selfish, and every man is stealing his fellow's belongings. 〈Who can I talk to today?〉29 The scribe left a blank here, having mistakenly started to write out the refrain of the third lyric.     Mercy has perished,     and the fierce man has descended on everyone. Who can I talk to today?     For they are contented with bad,     and goodness is thrown down everywhere. Who can I talk to today? 110     He who should enrage a man with his bad deed     makes everyone laugh 〈with〉 his evil crime. Who can I talk to today?     They plunder,     and every man is taking his fellow. Who can I talk to today?     For the wrongdoer is an intimate friend,     and the brother with whom one dealt has become an enemy. Who can I talk to today?30 The past is a golden age of values, such as reciprocity and righteousness, that have been abandoned today.     The past is not remembered,     and no one helps him who gave help then. Who can I talk to today?     For brothers are bad,     and one turns to strangers for honesty. Who can I talk to today?     People are expressionless,     and every man's face is downturned against his brothers. 120 Who can I talk to today?     For hearts are selfish,     and no man's heart is reliable. Who can I talk to today?     There are no just men,     and the land is left over to the doers of injustice. Who can I talk to today?     An intimate friend is lacking,     and one turns to an unknown man to protest. Who can I talk to today?     There is no one who is content,     and him with whom one walked is no more. Who can I talk to today?     I am weighed down     with misery for want of an intimate friend. Who can I talk to today?31 The lyric ends by proclaiming that wrong is endless: the lament could continue for ever.     For wrong roams the earth;     there is no end to it.

130 Death is to me today32 In a third lyric, the man moves to death today, rather than today's agonizing life, and he extols death. The lyric directly answers the soul's challenge to ‘call burial to mind’ (56 and n. 18), and is made with a dramatic change of tone. Immediate, vivid, and fresh imagery gives a sense of release after the preceding descriptions of suffering. It is not only an exact reversal of the imagery of the soul's tirades against death, but also the converse of what the man previously used himself.     〈like〉 a sick man's recovery,     like going out after confinement. Death is to me today33 The smells and weather are now fair, not foul as in the first lyric (86–103). The image is of a pleasurable sailing trip (unlike the voyage of the soul's first parable (70–5)), but also alludes to the funeral journey to the west bank of the Nile for burial.     like the smell of myrrh,     like sitting under a sail on a windy day. Death is to me today34 There is now festivity on the shore, echoing the soul's ‘happy day’ (68 and n. 20), and reversing its speeches’ image of suffering ‘on the shore’ (64, 75). Smelling flowers (lotuses) is an activity characteristic of banqueting scenes. This feast also alludes to the funerary feast celebrated by mourners. Drunkenness is imagined as a land, but the image can be paraphrased as ‘on the verge of drunkenness’.     like the smell of flowers,     like sitting on the shore of Drunkenness. Death is to me today35 Death is now not just a release, but a homecoming; this contrasts with the disastrous journey of the soul's first parable (70–5 and n. 21) or the ‘roaming’ in the preceding lyric (129 and n. 31). The images of the second half of the lyric concerns someone (a man) whose experiences are what the man aspires to.     like a well-trodden path,     like a man's coming home from an expedition. Death is to me today36 Death is now a cosmic revelation, in contrast to earlier descriptions of life where all was alien and ignorance (e.g. 124–5).     like the sky's clearing,     like a man grasping what he did not know before. 140 Death is to me today37 The lyric concludes with an image of death as humanity's home, but also on a negative note: mankind is full of longing, and life is captivity.     like a man's longing to see home,     having spent many years in captivity.

But There a man is a living god,38 The man now extols the blessed state of the dead man in the otherworld (There) in a final lyric of transcendence. Only there is a man truly alive, and divine. The man's lyrics in praise of death grow increasingly succinct, unlike those lamenting life, which grew more diffuse. This lyric has the whole weight of the Dialogue behind it: in death the man can enact the ideal of Truth in social terms, in cultic terms, and in spoken terms. In the first couplet the wrongdoings that were mentioned before are avenged by the gods.     punishing the wrongdoer's action. But There a man stands in the barque,39 The distribution of offerings is an image of the piety, plenty, and social order that have been lacking hitherto. The image expresses the unity of men and the gods, past and present. (Such piety implicitly includes funerary cults.) The dead man's journeying in the barque of the Sungod recalls earlier, less happy, voyages.     distributing choice offerings from it to the temples. But There a man is a sage40 The dead man's enlightened state is an image of the fulfilment that has been lacking hitherto, and is another guarantee of justice, appropriate for the context of a dispute between the two speakers. The man no longer lacks an interlocutor, but when dead will be able to speak to the Sungod, who now is not a hostile force (as in 65–6); this is the language of funerary texts.     who cannot, when he speaks, be stopped     from appealing to the Sungod.’

What my soul said to me:41 The soul answers immediately, and the Dialogue ends in its final, dense speech of conciliation. By adopting the man's imagery, it makes it clear that it has been in part won over by his metaphoric argument. It is now the very partner and brother that was lacking in the man's second lyric (103–30). ‘Throw complaint over the fence, O my partner, my brother! May you make offering upon the brazier,42 The brazier alludes to funerary rituals, the image reformulating the earlier reference to the agony of death by fire (12–13), being hot after death (46–7), and scorching weather (65–6, 88, 90). The soul now advocates a balance between the two attitudes towards death: one should love the otherworld, but also love life. The soul expresses this balance with vocabulary that the man has used (the West (cf. n. 5) ). 150 and cling to life by the means you describe! Yet love me here, having put aside the West, and also still desire to reach the West, your body making landfall! I shall alight when you are weary;43 Being weary is an idiom for dying, associated especially with Osiris, the god of resurrection. For the soul, death is now, as it was earlier for the man, a place of alighting (37, 50–1 and n. 12) and of homecoming into harbour (38 and n. 13). For the first time the word we is used, and the Dialogue ends with the two facing death together, with a final harmonious allusion to the imagery of the riverbank and voyaging. so shall we make harbour together!’

So it ends, from start to finish, as found in writing.

Notes:

1. One and a half sheets are probably missing from the start of the manuscript—about forty verses. These would perhaps have included a brief introduction setting the scene, an opening speech by the man in praise of death, and then the soul's disagreement.

2. The tongues belong to the judges of the dead in the otherworld, whose impartiality threatens any hope of a painless death. The soul seems to use this to justify his disagreement with the man. You (plural) are the audience hearing their dispute (see introduction, p. 152).

3. The man's speech is rapid, with varied constructions, giving a sense of swiftly changing ideas in debate. He begins by describing the soul's reaction in the third person (this speech may be addressed in part to the audience (see n. 2)). Despite the lacunae, it is clear that by disagreeing with the man about his attitude to death, the soul is—in the man's eyes—trying to mislead him, and if they continue to disagree will in effect abandon him. Stand is a keyword (16, 144), later used of a survivor standing at the funeral of a dead man (cf. 42–3, 52–4).

4. The Day of Pain is a euphemism for the day of death and judgement, which the soul cannot avoid even though he shuns the man's body, and the perils of the otherworld such as the net of ropes, which was used by demons to trap men.

5. The man implies that the soul, by urging him to shun the cares of burial (presumably in its lost first speech), is actually leading him to ultimate destruction (death), as if the man's corpse was burned rather than being preserved; the enemies of the gods suffered destruction by fire in the otherworld, and it was also a means of capital punishment in this life. Death is here not just the end of a man's life, but the second, final, death that was inflicted on the dead who were condemned by the gods.

6. The man urges his soul to agree with him and be on his side at the judgement of the dead (already alluded to (1–3)). In this court the soul should praise the man out of self-preservation, like a traveller who makes provisions for returning safely; the image of travel as a metaphor for life runs throughout the Dialogue.

7. In the second half of his speech, the man now addresses his soul directly, and accuses it of underestimating life's suffering and the joy of eternity. He implicitly extols the unchangeable West, the land of the dead, in contrast with both the impermanence of earthly life, and ultimate destruction (death (see n. 5)).

8. The man invokes various gods to ensure his safety in the otherworld: Thoth is the scribe and arbitrator of the gods, who is involved in judging the dead; Khonsu is, like Thoth, a lunar god of reckoning; the Sungod is the creator, and the ultimate judge, of the universe, whose bark carries the sun across the sky ensuring cosmic stability; Isdes is, like Thoth, a funerary god of judgement, and the Sacred Chamber is where the deceased are judged. These prayers respond to the soul's warning about the impartiality of the otherworldly judges. They are calmer and more stately than the earlier parts of the speech.

9. His speech ends by begging the gods to free him from the troubles his soul has imposed on him by its dissent.

10. The soul now butts in with a sarcastic question, and tells him to appreciate life, rather than wasting it in longing for death; the word ‘riches’ is homonymous with ‘lifetime’.

11. The man replies in the same rather sharp tone, to assert that, even though he is still alive, the final destination—the West—is still the most important concern. Although the soul accuses him of abandoning life, it is the soul who is abandoning his fellow, and as a result it will be defenceless.

12. The man now offers the soul an alternative: death with a funerary cult which will keep a person's reputation living, and bestow eternal life. Then the Beyond (that place) will be a permanent home to it; alighting alludes to the bird-like manifestation assumed by souls.

13. The image of the West as a harbour is a common expression of eternity's role as man's home and an end to life's voyage. The restoration is uncertain.

14. The man describes, in measured verses, how agreement with him will ensure the soul's security after death. The soul will be like one of the wealthy and blessed dead (echoing the soul's earlier reference to a ‘lord of wealth’ (33)), whose immortality is ensured by survivors who provide a funerary cult around their pyramid.

15. The man also promises to provide for his soul after death and make him enviable (the soul having a corpse is poetic licence). Oblivion is a term associated with the unresurrected dead who are unprovided for. The first two couplets concern only the soul's felicity, but the third couplet includes both the man and the soul; the shady spot is an arbour, such as were used for feasting (and thus will inspire envious hunger).

16. The man now threatens the soul with the consequences of condemning him to destruction (death). His arguments rely on the paradox that the soul's love of life will lead to death, whereas love of the West, which he advocates (cf. n. 5), would lead to eternal life. For alight, see n. 12.

17. He ends his speech by appealing to the soul as a relation, to stay with him until he has prepared for his longed-for death; he offers an attractive—almost homely—description of the day of burial; this term is used here rather than the more threatening ‘Day of Pain’ evoked earlier (10, 15).

18. The soul reasserts the contrasting view of death as painful, and matches the man's description of a funeral point for point. Burial is not a homely thing, but an expulsion. This speech reverses the common idea that ‘calling the West to mind’ inspires piety (see Introduction, pp. 150–1).

19. According to the soul, the horror of death is apparent in the impermanence of funeral buildings, which were designed to immortalize those buried in them. This impermanence means that even the wealthy owners of these monuments are no better off than the poor whose bodies are abandoned beside the river: death spares no one. In a single sentence the soul drags the man from monumental grandeur to corpses. The extended syntax, with its expansive treatment of suffering, contrasts with the repetitive formulations of the man's praise of death; the syntax evolves with the imagery, which echoes earlier passages (e.g. the oblivious ones (45 and n. 15)). For the soul, the water and the sun are hostile forces, whereas the man invoked the Sungod (25–6) and spoke of cool drinking water in the Beyond (47–8); a corpse has no survivor to speak the funeral rites for it (cf. 41–2), only fish (‘fish’, ‘mankind’, and ‘tears’ are all homophones).

20. The soul reminds the man that he, unlike the oblivious ones, has an interlocutor, and it now answers the man's commands to heed him with ones of its own to enjoy life. The terse imperatives contrast forcefully with the convoluted clauses of the preceding sentence. The advocacy of listening is characteristic of wisdom literature, and the soul does not advise mindless hedonism: the happy day can mean a religious festival as well as more frivolous enjoyment.

21. The soul now tells a parable about the vanity of excessive care, to point out the man's fault in caring too much for the West. The style is looser, simpler, and more rapid. The tale concerns a lowly man, retaining the same social setting as was alluded to in the preceding verses; he is careful not to sail in dangerous weather, and at sunset cautiously disembarks for further safety. His journey is a pious and dutiful one: his feast day is a religious feast in which he is to take part (and contribute offerings). The unexpected end to his journey suggests the agony of death, which is not a ‘harbour’ as the man claimed (38). The climax of this disaster echoes the soul's earlier image of death as corpses on a riverbank (63–4).

22. After the swift series of events, the narrative about the commoner halts with this lament. His debate with himself offers a parallel to the man's debate with his soul. Contrary to the man's view, the commoner, like the soul, sees the West as a country of no return, and for him life is so precious that its loss when mature is no grief compared to loosing it early (in the egg is an idiom for extreme youth). Death is here a ferocious predator: Khenty is a crocodile-god, a demon of death. The word ponder points the moral aim of the parable, by recalling 32–3, where the soul urged the man to ponder life in a positive fashion (n. 10).

23. The soul immediately tells another similar parable, which increases the slightly sordid atmosphere. Another lowly man wants his food (dinner) before the right time (supper-time), just as the man is being over-eager for the West. Such impatience leads to distress and alienation: the lowly man's impatience makes him senseless and unrecognizable with rage. Urinating (the translation is uncertain) can be an image in literary texts for complaining.

24. The man replies in a contrastingly formal tone: he utters lofty lyrics with refrains. He takes images from the soul—the lowly setting (68–70), the riverbank (64–7), crocodiles (74–5), and the smell of excrement (82–4)—to present life as a dreadful swamp. This image shocks because this landscape was often portrayed as a setting for a dead man's rebirth through rituals of fishing and fowling and was given a general positive pastoral value. The reek of his name in life contrasts with his earlier hope that the souls's ‘name’ would ‘live’ in the West (36–7). His horror of life is implicitly due in part to the soul's disagreement with him.

25. The mention of human workers prepares for the change from vegetable and animal desolation to the human wretchedness which dominates the rest of the lyric.

26. This image recalls the second parable about family dissent. In the following couplet there is another image of family collapse and alienation: although a child is healthy, he is disowned (perhaps due to illegitimacy, given the preceding couplet).

27. This lyric ends not on a personal level, but with a description of dissent in the state; this wider horizon is developed in the following lyric. The motif of crocodiles continues indirectly through puns: sovereign is normally written with two crocodile hieroglyphs and the verb to utter treason is homonymous with to ‘be infested with crocodiles’ (74).

28. In a second lyric, the man says he can find no one to speak to—he is alone and abandoned, even by his soul. The lack of friends, brothers, and intimate friends embodies the man's lack of an agreeable soul but also extends it further into society as a whole. The refrain occurs elsewhere as the lament of a wise man in adversity: ‘And the sage now grasps like an ignorant man … the wise man is saying, “Who can I talk to?” ’ (the Maxims of P. Ramesseum II, verso ii.4). The man's agony induced by his alienation is no longer personal, but universal, and the Dialogue is concerned, for the first time, with all humanity; the man uses the language of pessimistic discourses such as The Words of Neferti (q.v.). This lyric is the longest and most monothematic section of the whole Dialogue. It echoes both earlier statements and itself, and this degree of repetition articulates the pervasiveness of horror. The dreadfulness of today rebuts the soul's urgings to ‘follow the happy day’ (68), and the bleakness of the soul's images and narratives becomes in the man's mouth an implicit justification of death, since life is not worth living.

29. The scribe left a blank here, having mistakenly started to write out the refrain of the third lyric.

30. The past is a golden age of values, such as reciprocity and righteousness, that have been abandoned today.

31. The lyric ends by proclaiming that wrong is endless: the lament could continue for ever.

32. In a third lyric, the man moves to death today, rather than today's agonizing life, and he extols death. The lyric directly answers the soul's challenge to ‘call burial to mind’ (56 and n. 18), and is made with a dramatic change of tone. Immediate, vivid, and fresh imagery gives a sense of release after the preceding descriptions of suffering. It is not only an exact reversal of the imagery of the soul's tirades against death, but also the converse of what the man previously used himself.

33. The smells and weather are now fair, not foul as in the first lyric (86–103). The image is of a pleasurable sailing trip (unlike the voyage of the soul's first parable (70–5)), but also alludes to the funeral journey to the west bank of the Nile for burial.

34. There is now festivity on the shore, echoing the soul's ‘happy day’ (68 and n. 20), and reversing its speeches’ image of suffering ‘on the shore’ (64, 75). Smelling flowers (lotuses) is an activity characteristic of banqueting scenes. This feast also alludes to the funerary feast celebrated by mourners. Drunkenness is imagined as a land, but the image can be paraphrased as ‘on the verge of drunkenness’.

35. Death is now not just a release, but a homecoming; this contrasts with the disastrous journey of the soul's first parable (70–5 and n. 21) or the ‘roaming’ in the preceding lyric (129 and n. 31). The images of the second half of the lyric concerns someone (a man) whose experiences are what the man aspires to.

36. Death is now a cosmic revelation, in contrast to earlier descriptions of life where all was alien and ignorance (e.g. 124–5).

37. The lyric concludes with an image of death as humanity's home, but also on a negative note: mankind is full of longing, and life is captivity.

38. The man now extols the blessed state of the dead man in the otherworld (There) in a final lyric of transcendence. Only there is a man truly alive, and divine. The man's lyrics in praise of death grow increasingly succinct, unlike those lamenting life, which grew more diffuse. This lyric has the whole weight of the Dialogue behind it: in death the man can enact the ideal of Truth in social terms, in cultic terms, and in spoken terms. In the first couplet the wrongdoings that were mentioned before are avenged by the gods.

39. The distribution of offerings is an image of the piety, plenty, and social order that have been lacking hitherto. The image expresses the unity of men and the gods, past and present. (Such piety implicitly includes funerary cults.) The dead man's journeying in the barque of the Sungod recalls earlier, less happy, voyages.

40. The dead man's enlightened state is an image of the fulfilment that has been lacking hitherto, and is another guarantee of justice, appropriate for the context of a dispute between the two speakers. The man no longer lacks an interlocutor, but when dead will be able to speak to the Sungod, who now is not a hostile force (as in 65–6); this is the language of funerary texts.

41. The soul answers immediately, and the Dialogue ends in its final, dense speech of conciliation. By adopting the man's imagery, it makes it clear that it has been in part won over by his metaphoric argument. It is now the very partner and brother that was lacking in the man's second lyric (103–30).

42. The brazier alludes to funerary rituals, the image reformulating the earlier reference to the agony of death by fire (12–13), being hot after death (46–7), and scorching weather (65–6, 88, 90). The soul now advocates a balance between the two attitudes towards death: one should love the otherworld, but also love life. The soul expresses this balance with vocabulary that the man has used (the West (cf. n. 5) ).

43. Being weary is an idiom for dying, associated especially with Osiris, the god of resurrection. For the soul, death is now, as it was earlier for the man, a place of alighting (37, 50–1 and n. 12) and of homecoming into harbour (38 and n. 13). For the first time the word we is used, and the Dialogue ends with the two facing death together, with a final harmonious allusion to the imagery of the riverbank and voyaging.

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