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The Dialogue of Ipuur and the Lord of All

‘………………………] 1.1 [………………………]1 For the amount missing at the start of the poem, see Introduction, p. 166. The surviving text opens with a lament about the various professions, describing how all society is in uproar. The doorkeepers should act as guards, not plunderers. [………………………]; the door-[keeper]s are saying, “Let's go and plunder!”; the sweet-makers […………‥]; [………….] the […]er; the washerman has no [intent]ion of carrying his load;2 This verse may imply that the washerman is now carrying something more warlike, or simply that even the most lowly are rebelling against their work. In the following verses workers take up arms, and become leaders. the rope-[maker …………….]; [………………………]; the bird-[catchers] have raised [their] troops; [………………………]; [………………………]; the marsh-[dweller] is carrying a shield; 1.5 the brewers are [……‥]; [………………………]; […………‥ is] sad, and a man sees his son as his enemy; the […….] is in chaos; [………………………]; [………………………]; [one man …]s himself against someone else, “Come with strength!”— a message [……………….]; [………………………]; […………] these things which were ordained for you,3 You (plural) are the Lord and his entourage (see Introduction). The Time of Horus is the primeval past, when the Company of Gods ruled the earth and established the laws that the king should maintain. Presumably the things belong to traditions that have been overturned by the social chaos. in the Time of Horus, in the era [of the Company of Gods]; [………………………]. The man of character goes in mourning, because of what has happened in the land.4 These happenings are described in the following lament, for which these verses act as an introduction. By the man of character the sage may allude to himself. Egypt is completely overthrown so that foreigners become its people (the normal word for Egyptians). Social disorder and the threats to property described earlier are signs of this chaos. The [man of bad character] goes [carefree]; [………………………] everywhere the foreigners have become people.

1.10 O, but the face is pale [………‥];5 The sage now begins a long series of short stanzas, marked by the refrain ‘O, but’. This is the first of his laments, and is structured with antithetical contrasts and reversals between what was once—the ideal—and what is now—the actual. Aggression, foreigners, and the lowly usurp control of the land. […………………‥].

[O, but] they [….] what the ancestors foretold, which has reached [fruition; …………].

[O, but ………………….] […………………‥]

[O], but there is [no] one who can leave […]; […………………‥].

[O, but ………………….]; […………………‥].

[O, but ………………….]; […………………‥].

[O, but ………………….]; […………………‥].

2.1 [O, but … must bow down to] the earth, because of gangs; a man goes to plough with his shield.

O, but the merciful say, “[My heart] shall suffer […]!”; the [fierce]-faced man is now a well-born man.

O, but [faces] are pale, the archer is settled,6 The past (yesterday) is an idealized age, in contrast to the present state of the land: the man of yesterday is a representative of that ideal, in contrast to the aggressive wrongdoer and archer. and the wrongdoer is everywhere; there is no man of yesterday.

O, but the plunderer [rob]s everywhere; the servant is taking as he finds.

O, but the Nileflood is rising and they have not prepared for it;7 The Nileflood, on which agriculture depended, had to be carefully prepared for; otherwise disaster followed. every man is saying, “We do not know what has happened throughout the land.”

O, but women are barren, and no one can become pregnant.8 The people as well as the land are becoming infertile. Khnum is the creator-god who forms children in the womb; the verse implies that the god is rendered helpless by mankind, rather than vice versa. Khnum cannot shape because of the state of the land.

O, but beggars have become lords of wealth;9 The sage laments the reversal of men's fortunes: the motif of the last becoming the first is an assertion of social chaos, not a cause of rejoicing; the ascent of the poor would have been at the original audience's expense. 2.5 someone who could not earn sandals for himself is a lord of riches.

O, but their servants’ hearts are aggrieved; the officials cannot fraternize with their people, who shout for joy.

O, but the [heart] is savage, plague throughout the land, blood everywhere.

There is no lack of death; the shroud is calling out before they approach it.

O, but many dead are buried in the river;10 Throwing bodies into the river instead of burying them both pollutes the river and represents the abandonment of all that funerary preparations stood for in Egypt. Thus the theme of death continues from the preceding stanza: the Nileflood should be a source of life and not a place of death. the flood is a grave, for the embalming-place has become the flood.

O, but the wealthy are in woe; the poor are in joy; every town is saying, “Let us drive away the strong from amongst us!”

O, but the people are like black ibises,11 White linen is a common image of Egyptian well-being (cf. 4.8–9 and n. 33), and is a marker of rank. The people are no longer clad in clean linen, but are like black ibises grubbing in the earth. and filth is throughout the land. At this time, no one at all is clothed in white.

O, but the land is spinning as does a potter's wheel;12 This is a demeaning image, derived from a lowly profession; also an ironic reference to Khnum (see 2.4 and n. 8), who should fashion mankind on his potter's wheel. the robber is a lord of riches; the 〈lord of riches〉 has [become] someone who is plundered.

O, but trusted people are like a[ttackers who drive cattle away], and the commoner [says], “How terrible! What shall I do?”

2.10 O, but the river is blood, and they still drink from it; they push people aside, and still thirst for water.

O, but portals, pillars,13 A stanza about prestigious state buildings. The safety of the palace implies a rebuke that the king has isolated himself from the general chaos, which the sage will later make directly. and walls are burning; the chamber of the Royal House (l.p.h.!) is enduring and firm.

O, but the ship of the [South] is in chaos, towns are ravaged;14 The ship is a metaphor for the state, as well as being a literal reference to the loss of riverine communications. The South is Upper Egypt. Upper Egypt has become empty [sandbanks].

O, but crocodiles are [glutted] with the fish they have taken,15 Although crocodiles have enough food, men are suicidal and seek them out (fish and men are homophonous). Land and water are alike dangerous: everywhere seems full of snares (nets). The imagery continues to the end of the stanza, where men are as helpless and trembling as fish out of water. and men go to them willingly. This is the destruction of the land! They say, “Don't step there! Look, it's a net!” Look, men tread the [ground] like fish; the fearful man cannot tell what is ground because of his heart's terror.

O, but people are few;16 Death among coevals is now common, and the verse may even hint at fratricide. The wise man has to flee because his advice against chaos provokes hostility. the man who inters his brother is everywhere; the wise man speaks, and then fl[ee]s, without delay.

O, but the [known] gentleman lacks recognition, while his lady's child becomes the son of his maidservant.17 His son and heir—a major concern of Egyptian society—is reduced to the status of his servants, and rendered illegitimate.

3.1 O, but the desert is throughout the land; the nomes are ravaged;18 The desert invades the once fertile land of Egypt. the barbarians of outside have come into Egypt.

O, but they reach […….]; there are no people at all in any place.19 The people are true Egyptians, as opposed to invading barbarians.

O, but gold and lapis lazuli,20 These materials were used in the jewellery of the élite, who are now deprived even of food, and in the next stanza are ashamed to be recognized. silver and turquoise, carnelian and amethyst, diorite and [all] our [jewels] [are] strung on the necks of serving-girls; wealth is throughout the land, but well-married women are saying, “If only we had something to eat!”

O, but [liv]ing is a horror for wealthy ladies’ [hearts]; their limbs are saddened by their rags; their hearts sink because [people] greet [them].

3.5 O, but ebony chests are shattered,21 This stanza continues the domestic subject matter of the preceding two stanzas, by describing the destruction of sumptuous furniture. the precious tamarisk wood of bedsteads is smashed; [……] the man who […] their […].

O, but the builders [of pyramids have] become fieldworkers;22 This is the first of two longer stanzas that concern the fall of the élite (including priests) and their material achievements (including burials), developing the references to furniture in the preceding stanza. The divine barque was the temple boat in which gods travelled in processions; men hoped to travel in its celestial counterpoint when dead. The sailing motif continues with the isolation of Byblos, an Egyptian trading partner on the Phoenician coast that supplied the cedar-wood used in burials in pyramids. There was also trade with the Minoan culture of Crete. These stanzas lament the lack of imports and tribute, a sign of Egypt's fall from its accustomed central position in the world. Material culture has disintegrated; the only homage that is now brought is modest, and from the poor oases of the Western Desert. those who were in the divine barque are at the yoke. No one at all sails north to Byblos today; what shall we do for cedar-wood for our mummies, with whose products priests are buried, with whose oil [official]s are embalmed? From as far as Crete, they do not come! Destroyed is the gold, and there is an end to storing the materials for every work. Uncovered is the 〈…〉 of the Royal House (l.p.h.!). How great a thing it is now when oasis-dwellers come, bearing their festival offerings: mats, [animal] skins with fresh palm fronds, 3.10 and [fat] of birds, for the sake of providing plenty!

O, but Elephantine and Thinis, the [districts] of Upper Egypt,23 The sage turns from the north to the south: Elephantine is at the southern border, and Thinis is a sacred town in Middle Egypt. Egypt itself is disintegrating, as well as its ‘vassal’ states; this is exemplified by the failure to collect the provinces’ taxes of goods. The lost revenue includes kohl (eye paint), and various unidentified vegetable substances: irti is a plant colouring (Isatis tinctoria?); the others are types of wood. they produce no taxes [because of stri]fe. Destroyed is grain, kohl, and irti-fruit, maa-sticks, nut-sticks, shrub-wood, and the work of the craftsmen, colocynth, fenugreek, and the profits of the palace. What is a treasury for, without its taxes?24 The despairing sage asks how the state can survive without its revenues. The words tribute and ‘Truth’ are homonymous, and tribute is a sign of true social order. The sage states that the foreign countries should bring tribute and acclaim the king as their source of life; the mention of water alludes to the idiom ‘to be on the water’ of a king, meaning to be loyal to him. For the heart of a king is happy only when true tribute comes to him, and then every foreign country would [say], “He is our water! He is our prosperity!” What can we do about this, when it all has fallen into ruin?

O, but laughter is ruined,25 Here, as elsewhere, the repetition of a word binds two disparate, and often contradictory, stanzas together. The lack of laughter recalls the king's lack of happiness in the preceding stanza (3.12). and [no longer] sounds. There is only groaning throughout the land, mixed with laments.

O, but every nobody is a well-born man,26 For people, see n. 19. 4.1 those who were people are now aliens, so that they are packed off.

O, but everyone's hair has [fallen] out,27 In official art commoners are often shown as balding, and elaborate wigs are a sign of status. a gentleman cannot be told apart from a have-not.

O, but [they are deaf] because of noise;28 Quietness is an ethical quality, here engulfed by noise (noise and voice are homonyms, enacting the disappearance of a righteous voice amid the noise). This brouhaha is exemplified in the speeches of the following stanza. no voice has been righteous in the years of noise; there is no end [to] noise.

O, but great and small 〈are saying〉, “I want to die!”;29 The mixture of strong antitheses—great and small, die and live—expresses the despair and chaos of life. The following stanzas develop the fate of the children. little children are saying, “He shouldn't have made me live!”

O, but the officials’ children are beaten against walls; babes in arms are exposed on the rocky ground.

O, but those who were in the embalming-place30 This stanza moves from the deaths of the newborn to the fate of the dead in general; the repetition of a phrase links it with the preceding stanza (4.3–4). Embalming was a privilege of the wealthy. are [expos]ed on the [rocky] ground: this is how the embalmers’ secrets are overthrown there.

4.5 O, but those things that yesterday saw are ruined;31 For yesterday, see 2.2 and n. 6. the land is left to its weakness, like flax being pulled up.

O, but the entire Marshland will not be safely concealed;32 The image of flax is continued with a reference to the rich agricultural area of the country, the Marshland of the Delta. The access to the Delta is exposed to nomadic foreigners, who now turn to agriculture and pastoral pursuits (the works of the Marshland). Restricted access, once maintained by society, is abandoned, first to geographical areas, then to state institutions, and finally to specialized skills and knowledge. The Place of Secrets is the private areas of the palace and/or temple. the Delta puts its trusts in roads that are now well trodden; What will anyone do? “No [escape] exists in any place”, is said; they say, “Down with the Place of Secrets!” Look, it belongs to those who do not know it, as if they knew it; foreigners are [skilled] in the works of the Marshland.

O, but families are put to the millstones;33 A stanza about social upheaval between the élite and their servants. Fine linen was a prerogative of the wealthy. Those without daylight are servants confined in their workplaces. Once-wealthy wives are dismissed with an order to make them sleep on biers. those dressed in fine linen are [wrongly] beaten; those who never saw the daylight go outside without restraint; 4.10 those who used to be in their husbands’ beds— “Let them sleep on the rafts [bearing] the dead!” They who said, “It is too heavy for me” about boards carrying myrrh—34 Noblewomen who felt too refined to carry heaps of perfume (myrrh) for themselves, and who were carried in palanquins, now have to carry large quantities of water as servants. they are loaded with vessels filled with [water]; the palanquin [no longer] knows them. Now the cupbearer, he is destroyed. There are no remedies for this. Wealthy ladies pity themselves like serving-girls; musicians are at the looms within the weaving-rooms,35 Court singers and other performance artists are lost in the fall of the élite, just as the cupbearer is. Meret is the goddess of ritual music and harmony. The stanza begins and ends with a reference to millstones. and what they sing to Meret are dirges; the [story]-tellers are at the millstones.

O, but all the maidservants are full of their own words;36 In contrast to the high-up servants, the lowly maidservants are rebelling. it is burdensome to the servants, when their mistresses speak.

O, but trees are felled, branches stripped.37 The trees implicitly include those from noblemen's plantations; destroying trees is an ultimate symbol of devastation. The next verses are obscure and require emendation; the sense seems to be that a man has to pare his house down, with the result that his children will have no profitable inheritance. No one can remember what food tastes like; hunger is described further in the next stanza. 5.1 A 〈man〉 has had to abandon the servants of his household. People will say when they hear of this, “Destroyed are the abundant gifts for the children.” There are no unripe or ripe sy[comore figs, or varied fruits]. Today, what is the taste of these like now?

O, but the officials are hungry, because of affliction; their attendants are attended; [….] are [strong] because of woe.

O, but the hot-tempered man is speaking,38 This man's speech is hypocritical, using the lack of god as an excuse for heated action. The next stanza describes the hypocrisy of the entire land, where there is only apparent Truth. “If I [could tell] and know where God was, then I would serve Him!”

O, but [Truth] is throughout the land in its very name; but what they do based on it is Falsehood.

O, but runners are fighting over a [man's] belongings;39 The runners are the wealthy man's messengers. Even the robber is robbed: no property is safe. 5.5 the robber has all his belongings taken.

O, but every flock, their hearts weep;40 Flock is often a metaphor for humanity, the ‘flock of God’ (see n. 94). the cattle are groaning at the state of the land.

O, but the officials’ children are beaten against walls;41 The first couplet repeats an earlier stanza (4.3–4). For Khnum, see 2.4 and n. 8; here, however, the lament is the reverse of the one there: the god is exhausted at having to fashion enough children to replace those who were slaughtered. babes in arms are exposed on the rocky ground. Khnum is groaning because he is weary.

O, but terror kills;42 Everyone is too frightened for any defensive action which would help the royal audience (your is plural). The following verses apparently describe the uselessness of a little man's religious practices (including sacrificing animals, votive images, and amulets) to ward off terrifying situations. Khenty is a crocodile-god and a demon of death; the man he has dismembered is his victim, who once dead would also be the object of cult and intercession. The Lion is the lion-goddess Sekhmet, another merciless deity; Ptah, the creator-god of Memphis, is the consort of Sekhmet. The sage laments that offerings cost mankind dear and do not reach the gods effectively; a rebuke to the gods and to their intermediary, the king, is implied. the frightened man stops anyone acting against your enemies. Of little use, now, are the images and amulets on the small man. Is it giving to Khenty and to the man he has dismembered? Is it slaughtering for the Lion, roasting on the fire? Is it libations for Ptah, taking [materials]? Why do you give to Him? It does not reach Him; and your giving to Him is misery!

5.10 O, but servants [rule …] throughout the land;43 The sage laments man's hostility against man, and that all protest is useless, as society has already perished. a fierce man has descended on everyone; a man strikes his close brother. What can be done? —I speak of a man already perished.

O, but the ways are [guarded], the paths watched;44 The attack of the preceding stanza is developed with an ambush. they sit in bushes until a night-traveller comes to seize his load, and what he carried is taken; he is treated to blows of a stick, and is falsely slain.

O, but those things that yesterday saw are ruined;45 This couplet is repeated from 4.4–5 (see n. 31). Here it is developed as the sage despairs at the created world (echoing the suicidal despair of children and the ‘noise’ of 4.1–3 (see nn. 28–9) ): the way is prepared for his later denunciation of the creator. the land is left to its weakness, like flax being pulled up; commoners wander about because of affliction; goldsmiths [on commissions are worn out]. If only this were the end of mankind, 6.1 with no more conception, no more birth, so that the land would be quiet from noise, with no tumult!

O, but 〈men eat〉 only plants,46 The scribe left a blank space here, presumably because he could not read the manuscript he was copying. Men who should eat bread and beer, flesh and fowl, are reduced to an animal's diet of plants and water. No one can be generous when thus deprived. and wash them down with water: now they cannot find seeds, plants, or birds, and [fodder] is taken from the pig's mouth. No one can be benevolent, when they are bent double with hunger.

O, but the grain is ruined on every side;47 The sage continues to lament the lack of proper food and rebukes himself for not having spoken out sooner. they are stripped of clothes, unanointed with oil; everyone is saying, “There's nothing!” The storehouse is bare, its keeper stretched out on the ground. 6.5 This is such a happy help for my heart! I am completely finished! If only I had raised my voice in that moment, it could have saved me from the suffering that happened then!

O, but the Sacred Stronghold, its writings are taken away;48 The sage moves from food supplies to other aspects of the administration. This begins a series of more concise stanzas on the destruction of the state's archives of administrative, legal, and religious texts: the lost culture embraces a wide range. The Sacred Stronghold is some sort of temple enclosure; the Place of Secrets is an area of restricted access. the Place of Secrets which existed 〈there〉 is stripped bare.

O, but magical spells are stripped bare,49 Magic was an integral part of state religion. Spells are now remembered and used by common people and are thus made dangerous. omens and divination spells are dangerous because they are recalled by people.

O, but the offices are opened and their lists are taken away; people who were serfs have become lords of [serf]s.

O, but [the scribes] are killed and their writings taken away; how bad it is for me, because of the misery of their time!

O, but the scribes of the land register, their writings are got rid of; the foodstuff of Egypt is a free-for-all.

6.10 O, but the laws of the Stronghold50 The Stronghold is an institution that enforced labour duty. The next verses have a double meaning: people trample the laws underfoot, and walk freely when they should be detained by these laws. are thrown outside; but they walk on them in the public places; wretches are breaking them up in the streets.

O, but the wretch has reached the rank of the Company of the Gods;51 All social order is overthrown, on a cosmic scale. The House of Thirty is a law court. those rules of the House of Thirty are stripped bare.

O, but the Great Stronghold staggers to and fro;52 The Great Stronghold is the central office in charge of labour duty which now is on the point of collapse; the Great Mansions are the central law courts, which should be of restricted access. wretches come and go in the Great Mansions.

O, but the officials’ children are thrown into the street;53 These verses are a formula expressing how social order is overthrown and how the wise are contradicted by the rabble (cf. The Teaching of King Amenemhat, 14a–b and n. 20). After this stanza the scribe mistakenly copied an earlier stanza (4.4): ‘O, but those who were in the embalming-place m are exposed on the rocky ground: m this is how the embalmers’ secrets are overthrown there’. This insertion was later marked in the margin as an error. the wise man is saying “It is so!”, the fool saying “It is not!” and the fact that he knows nothing seems fair to him.

7.1 And look, the fire has begun to rise—54 Here the sage starts a second lament, also structured by refrains and short antithetical stanzas (the refrain—Look—is, if anything, slightly more blunt than that of the preceding lament). Fire is elsewhere an image of mankind's destructive tendencies, and the sage wishes that such destruction were reserved for enemies. This start to the lament gives a sense of chaos reaching an apocalyptic level, as royalty itself, the centre of Egyptian society, begins to be attacked. its flame should break out against the enemies of the land!

And look, things are done that have never happened before,55 The phrase things are done can also mean ‘goods are acquired’, or ‘rituals are done’: a wide range of possible misdeeds. The happenings in the land, the subject matter of the preceding lament, are here surpassed. The royal mummy (the king) is removed from its pyramid; this climactic wrong is introduced in general terms and developed more explicitly through the following stanzas. and the king begins to be removed by wretches.

〈And〉 look, he who was buried as a Falcon is out on a bier.56 The Falcon is the king in his full divinity; his regal buried state is contrasted with being carried out on a simple bier. The stripping of the pyramid forms a climax to the motif of stripping places of state administration in the preceding lament; the sage moves towards a description of how the kingship is being undermined. What the pyramid hid will be emptied.

And look, the land has begun to be despoiled of kingship, by a few people who know no counsels.

And look, they have fallen to rebellion57 The uraeus is the royal serpent-diadem, a symbol of a deity worn on the forehead of the king, and is a great protective force. The land rises in anarchy; the stanza alludes to the myth of mankind's rebellion against the creator Sungod, which resulted in the fallen world (see n. 95). The god's epithet presents him as the imposer of order on society. against the [mighty] uraeus of the Sungod, the Pacifier of the Two Lands.

Look, the secret of the land,58 The secret is the mystery of kingship. of unknowable limits, is stripped bare; the Residence has collapsed in a single moment.

7.5 Look, Egypt has begun to pour water;59 The water is funerary libations, but here it is not a sign of piety, only of Egypt's death-like state and neglect of life. The man who should water the earth is a farm labourer. he who should water the earth has carried the man of mighty arms off into poverty.

Look, the ancestral serpent is taken from its cavern;60 The serpent is the ancestral spirit of former kings; its cavern alludes indirectly to the royal burial places. the secrets of the Dual Kings have been stripped bare.

Look, the Residence is afraid because of want, and my Lord will send forth strife, with no opposition!61 The sage's Lord is the Lord of All, who creates strife without anyone opposing him, although the king's duty is to oppose strife and not create it.

Look, the land is knotted in gangs; the strong man—the vile man is taking his property.

Look, the ancestral serpent is in the [water like] the oblivious ones;62 The royal serpent-spirit is now cast away; the oblivious ones are the dead who are left unburied and thrown into the river. The people who should be treated thus are properly buried. he who could not make himself a sarcophagus is a lord of a tomb.

Look, the lords of the embalming-place are driven away onto the rocky ground;63 The stanzas now move from the subject of burial to the (related) subject of wealth; the élite who once could afford to be embalmed are expelled onto the desert when dead (cf. 4.4). Despair is expressed in ‘then-now’ formulations with direct antitheses. The descriptions are striking and simple, making this lament more forceful than the preceding one, and it moves to wider matters: the way in which the social status quo has been reversed. someone who could not make himself a coffin is a 〈lord〉 of a treasury.

And look at these changes of mankind! He who could not build himself a room is a lord of walls.

Look, the councillors of the land are driven away through the land; 7.10 he who was driven away is now in the Royal Quarter.

Look, wealthy ladies are on boards;64 The ladies now have boards instead of beds. The Workhouse was an office of forced labour. officials are in the Workhouse; he who did not even sleep on a wall is a lord of a bed.

Look, a lord of property goes to sleep thirsty; he who begged dregs for himself is a lord of strong beer.

Look, the lords of robes are in rags; he who could not weave for himself is a lord of fine linen.

Look, he who could not construct himself a cargo boat is a lord of a fleet; their lord now looks at them and they are not his.

Look, someone without shade is a lord of shade; the lords of shade are in the blast of the gale.

Look, someone who knew not the arched harp is a lord of a harp;65 The people who could not afford the means or time to make music now have them. For Meret, see n. 35. he who could not sing for himself is hymning Meret.

Look, the lords of bronze offering vessels, no jar is garlanded for a single one of them.

8.1 Look, he who slept a widower because of want, he f[inds] wealth;66 Wealth was needed to acquire a second wife. he who was not seen stands making himself important.

Look, a man without property is a lord of riches; the official now favours him.

Look, the beggars of the land have become the rich; the 〈lord〉 of property is a have-not.

Look, the 〈butl〉ers have become lords of cupbearers; he who was a messenger is sending someone else.

Look, he who was loafless is a lord of a storeroom; his storehouse is furnished with the property of someone else.

Look, he whose hair had fallen out, a man without oil,67 For the social significnce of hair, see n. 27. has become a lord of jars of sweet myrrh.

8.5 Look, she who had no box is the owner of a trunk; she who looked at her face in the water is the owner of a mirror.

Look, a man is happy when he is eating his food;68 This stanza, which interrupts the sequence of antithetical laments, seems to be a sarcastic comment aimed at the Lord, who remains unaffected by the people's suffering. consume your belongings in joy, having no hindrance! It is a good thing for a man to eat his food, and God commands it to someone he favours.

〈And look, someone ignorant〉69 The scribe left a blank space here (cf. n. 46); there may be a full verse missing. of his God is now offering70 The sage moves ironically from describing divine favours to human piety, which is now being usurped by the impious who do not know God. with someone else's incense, without his knowing.

Look, wealthy ladies and great ladies,71 Poverty is such that it makes mothers unnatural. the possessors of wealth, are exchanging their children for bed-linen.

And look, a [fine] man [who was given] a wealthy lady as wife, and was protected by her father, now a nobody is killing him.

Look, the children of the councillors are in [rags]; 8.10 the [calves] of their cows [are given] to the plunderers.

Look, the colonial tenants are butchering cattle;72 The sage moves from cattle as property to cattle as food. The subject continues in the following stanzas. the pau[pers have become the plu]nderers.

Look, he who did not slaughter for himself is slaughtering horned bulls; he who knew no carving is seeing all [kinds of choice meat].

Look, the colonial tenants are butchering greylag-geese;73 The gods are now given only geese instead of more prestigious oxen, and by colonial tenants not priests. they are given 〈to〉 the Gods instead of oxen.

Look, maidservants [….] are offering swine;74 Swine are inappropriate offerings to the gods; taboos are ignored. In the second verse, the scribe left a blank (cf. n. 46); perhaps restore 〉‘lack anything to offer’〈. their wealthy ladies 〈………‥〉.

Look, wealthy ladies are running away in a single [flight]; their [hearts] are laid low by the fear of death.

〈Look,〉 the chiefs of the land are running away; they have no function because a patron is lacking.

9.1 [Look], the lords of bedlinen are on the ground; someone who slept squalid smooths a leather cushion for himself.

Look, wealthy ladies have fallen into hunger; the colonial tenants are sated with what is prepared for them.

Look, all the professions—they are not in their proper places,75 The simile of a herd is drawn from the earlier descriptions of wrongs involving cattle. The image of the shepherd will become still more resonant later (see n. 94). In the next stanza cattle are victims of human greed, suggesting that men's folly is self-destructive. like a herd straying without its shepherd.

Look, cattle are wandering with no one to look after them; every man is carrying off for himself the one now branded with his name.

Look, a man is killed beside his brother who abandons him to protect himself.

Look, he who had no yoke of oxen is a lord of a herd; he who could not find himself a ploughing team is a lord of cattle.

Look, he who had no seed is a lord of a granary; 9.5 he who took out loans of grain for himself is someone who lends it out.

Look, he who had no dependent neighbours is a lord of serfs; he who was once a 〈commissioner〉 does his commissions himself.

Look, the mighty ones of the land, the state of the folk is not report[ed to them], and they have fallen into ruin.

Look, all the craftsmen no longer work, while the enemies of the land have depleted its craft.

[Look, he who recorded] the harvest now knows nothing of it;76 The final stanza of the lament is longer than most and concludes it with a description of the loss of the basic food stuff. The work of the scribe is vital to the gathering, reporting, and distribution of the harvest. he who could not [plough for himself is a lord of fields]; the [harvesting] is happening, but cannot be reported; the scribe—his arms are [idle] in his house.

Destroy the […………….]77 The sage now turns from describing the state of the land to urging the Lord to take action to destroy the enemies; the same wish was made at the start of the preceding lament (7.1 and n. 54). A more varied section follows, with stanzas of less regular form. The injunctions are followed by descriptions that justify the need for such action: society is predatory and men only exhaust themselves by trying to bring calm (coolness). […] his […] in its time! A man sees [his brother as] his opponent; only the enfeebled man now brings cool[ness upon the heat] [……………….] the […] of the [off]ice is fearful. 9.10 Not […………….] [……………….] The wretches are […………] [……] and no day dawns because of it.

Destroy the […… who takes] their food from them!78 A stanza about how men are despoiled and degraded; it is more expansive than previous descriptions of this subject, but remains obscure because of lacunae. [……] fear of his terribleness; the commoner begs […………‥] [….] messenger, but not [… in this] time; he is seized, laden with his belongings, [and what he has on him] is taken. The […]—people pass by his door;79 Perhaps restore ‘the [official]’, who is ignored. The following fragmentary verses seem to tell how vigilance is needed to protect temple buildings and even a commoner's property. The Falcons are sacred images of the king or gods; Rams are sacred animals or images. […….] outside the walls, in the offices, and the rooms containing Falcons and Rams; [……‥ until] dawn. Even the commoner will have to watch out, 10.1 with the day dawning for him unready. They run away headlong;80 These verses are obscure. The manufacturers of perfume (by straining) now use the straining-cloth to make primitive shelters (tents); Egyptians are reduced to living like nomadic foreigners. they who strained through finely woven cloth inside a house, now what they make is tents, like foreigners.

Destroyed are the actions for which followers were sent81 The sage moves from longed-for destruction to what has been destroyed: he interweaves descriptions of present circumstances and desired reactions. The status of the lords of society is disrupted: even when there are five messengers, they refuse to go, and tell their master to go himself. on commissions for their lords, and they have no readiness. Look, they are five men, but they say, “You go off on a road you know—we have already arrived!”

The Delta should weep, for the Workhouse of the King is82 The refrain ‘Destroy’ is avoided, as the sage instead invokes sorrow at the destruction. His description of the loss of basic life-stuffs summarizes earlier descriptions of the state's impoverishment. The plundering of the Royal House does not result in greater wealth for the people: the final couplet implies that if even the palace suffers from lack, all the country suffers the same. the free-for-all of everyone! All the Royal House (l.p.h.!) is without its dues. To it belong grain and barley, 10.5 fowl and fish; to it belong white linen and fine linen, bronze and oil; to it belong reed-carpet and mat, [water-lily] buds and wheat sheaf— every good revenue that should arrive in full. If complaint about these lingers in the Royal House (l.p.h.!), no one can be free from [the loss] of these things!

Destroy the enemies of 〈that〉 fine Residence with splendid councillors,83 The stanzas become more regular as they urge that the enemies of the splendid capital be destroyed. Retributive action is offered as an answer to the chaos: the second verse in each stanza probably described a sign of chaos to justify the injunction to destroy. The Overseer of the City is the Vizier, who should travel in a palanquin with attendants. with […] in it like […………………]! But the Overseer of the City walks, and has no escort.

Des[troy the enemies of that fine Residence] with splen-[did….] [………………………]!

[Destroy the enemies of] that fine Residence with many laws; [………………………]! [………‥] who [………‥]

10.10 [Destroy the enemies of] that fine [Residence ……‥] [……………] its [………]!

Destroy the enemies of that [fine] Residence [……‥]! None can attend [on it, ……….] [Destroy the enemies of th]at fine [Residence] with many offices! O, but [………………….]

Remember the washing in [……….],84 The sage stops urging action, and instead urges the Lord to remember the good things of life, which are based on piety and service. The form of the stanzas is the same as that of the preceding injunctions, highlighting the contrast between the past and the present. These verses are a moment of relief (a similar moment occurs later (13.9 ff. and n. 106) ), recalling when god was in his temple and all was well with the world; temple ritual was vital to maintain the order of the cosmos. The first stanza is obscure, but may describe how a pious man is cured (wash in is a phrase attested in medical texts) and prospers. the [……] someone who suffers for the pain of his limbs, the respect of [a dutiful man, who gives thank]s for his God, as he guards [his] mouth [………‥], whose upright children range far!

11.1 Remember the [build]ing of the shrine, the censing with incense, the presenting water from the libation vessel in the morning!

Remember the fattened greylag-geese, the white-fronted and the pintail-geese,85 These birds were traditionally offered to the gods. The stanza contrasts with the earlier lament about offerings (8.12 and n. 73). the donating of divine offerings to the Gods!

Remember the chewing of natron, the preparing of white bread86 The chewing is part of the purification required for priestly service: the bread is for offerings; the head is anointed with perfume for cultic celebrations. by a man on the day of anointing the head!

Remember the setting-up of flagstaffs, the carving of altars,87 Rows of flagstaffs flanked the entrances of temples. Temple walls were whitewashed as a ground for ritual scenes and texts. The Horizon is the temple—the god's dwelling place from which he appears; the idiom adds a cosmic dimension to the general well-being. while the priest is purifying the sanctuaries and the temple is plastered white as milk, the perfuming of the Horizon, the endowment of offering loaves!

Remember the upholding of regulations, the correct ordering of dates,88 Members of the élite served periods of time (months) as priest, for which purification was important. The mention of ritual impurity is the only negative element in these stanzas, and it is presented as self-destructive. 11.5 the removing of someone who enters the priestly service with impure body: this is doing it wrongly, this is afflicting the heart [of someone who does it]!

[Remember] the day at the head of eternity,89 These days and months are the dates for rituals; these are the most important days of all eternity. the months that are cou[nted], and the years that are known!

Remember the slaughtering of oxen, the […], and the […] of your very best!

Remember the coming forth clean[sed to a man] who has called upon you,90 The ritually pure priest is called upon to be an intermediary between the people and the gods, an indication of social and cosmic unity. The fire recalls the earlier passages where fire was invoked against the enemies of the state: burnt sacrifices of fowl were symbolic of the destruction of chaos. the placing of a greylag-goose on the fire, and a […]!

[Remember the …‥], the opening of the beer-jar,91 This stanza refers to offerings made at the start of the Nile inundation. the mak[ing of offerings on] the shore of the flood.

[Remember the …………‥], the […] of the c[ows], [………………‥] [………………‥] […………] garments; 11.10 […………‥] giving praise, [………………‥] [………] to content you!

[……………………]92 This fragmentary passage may have formed a transition from the preceding lyrical section to the following discursive passage, moving from the description of past rituals to a wish for a response from the gods. The lack of mankind is a theme taken up in the following section. The West, the place of death, was generally considered to be an inspiration to piety, and may have been intended as such here. [……………. for] the lack of mankind, because of […………….] [………] the […] of the Sungod, so that a command may be given. [………….] respecting Him, the […] of the West to make little the [……], those who are […]ed by the [Gods].

Look, why did He seek to shape 〈mankind〉,93 Another blank (cf. n. 46), but the restoration is fairly certain. The sage now starts a broad discursive argument. The following stanza is different in tone from the preceding ones, although Look recalls the refrain of the second lament (7.1–9.8). The sage pursues rapid arguments in complex sequences of clauses, and, instead of addressing the lord's court (you plural), he turns to the Lord himself (you singular). Accusations and questions alternate with descriptions of the land's woes. The sage is inspired by the world's evil and the absence of any divine intervention, and begins to call the justice of both king and god into question; He is the creator of the cosmos, the Sungod (already mentioned in 11.11). The lack of any differentiation between the virtuous and the aggressive makes him question the worth of creation; coolness is a positive and orderly emotional quality, while heat is choleric and chaotic. when the meek are not set apart from the savage so that He might have brought coolness upon the heat? 12.1 They say, “He is the shepherd of all;94 What they say is a possible answer to the sage's questioning complaint, which he immediately dismisses. The shepherd is a metaphor for the creator-god (and king) as the people's protector. The imagery also relates to the earlier description of professions gone wrong (see nn. 75, 99). The small size of the shepherd's herd (mankind), and its divisive nature, are signs of his inadequacy. The sage notes the dichotomy between the all-powerful creator and his small creatures, and between his supposedly virtuous heart and their aggressive ones. there is no evil in his heart,” yet although He has made the day to care for them, His herd is small, and fire is in their hearts! If only He had realized their character in the first generation!95 The sage wishes that mankind had been destroyed before it had caused such distress (echoing the wishes expressed through the previous laments). He alludes to the myth of mankind's rebellion, when the creator withdrew from the earth, killing the rebels; part of mankind, however, was saved, which the sage now regrets. It is ironic that the caring shepherd is urged to destroy the flock—an irony that is continued in antithetical and paradoxical descriptions of the resultant woe in birth and generation. The phrase on the road acts as a sort of refrain for the predominance of evil, while the verse about seed is a daringly contradictory evocation of the chaos of birth. The evil state of the land is unchanging; changes were earlier lamented, but now the sage laments that there is no change for the better. All this is despite the presence of the Gods in the temples: the divine world does not intervene to save mankind. Then He would have struck down opposition, and stretched out His arm against them, and destroyed the flock of them and their heirs. Birth is desirable for them, but heartbreak comes into being, and want is on every road. These things are so, and have not ceased, although these Gods are in the midst of all this. From mortal women seed comes forth. 12.5 No good can be found on the road—only conflict has come forth, and the driver-off of wrong is now its creator. There is no Pilot in their hour of duty—96 The Pilot who safeguards the ship of state (cf. n. 14) is an allusive metaphor for the creator who guides the cosmos, whose power is lacking. A rhetorical question implies that god must be sleeping, so inactive is he. The tone of this passage is combative and challenging. Look echoes the earlier lament (7.1–9.8) and the start of this section (11.12). where is He today? So can He be sleeping? Look, no sign of His power can be seen. If we have been saddened, should I be unable to meet you,97 A difficult couplet: the rhetorical questions ask whether men should be unable to appeal to the Lord in distress. They imply that mortals only appeal to the Lord for sympathy of necessity when they are saddened, and now they suffer much more than sadness—affliction. (There is wordplay with the homonyms call upon and ‘Pilot’, 12.5.) or they unable to call upon you as someone who was free from aggression against them? And the heart is in fact afflicted! For the desti[tute] stand over everyone's speech,98 The sage continues to lament people's inability to protest freely. The destitute who cause this have usurped the king's power, which is often described in official texts as being worthier than millions of mankind. The sage then laments the destruction of the sanctuaries of temples, as an indication of the godless state of the world. and today fear of them is more than that of millions of mankind. No [protectors] from enemies can be seen; the [temple enclosure has been destroyed, and desecrated] in its outer hall, entered up to the temple, [with evil deeds] for which the Gods weep […….]. That [……‥] who makes chaos— his words [fill everyone's mouths, and good is ignored]. 12.10 The land has fallen [into tumult, on its face]; the images have been burnt, their chambers are ravaged. He who tends his [herd]—he sees the day, and [his he]rd is [small].99 The shepherd whose flock has been lessened during the night is both an example of the state of the land and a metaphor for the neglectful great shepherd. The sage reverts to denouncing the creator, the Universal Lord; this verse repeats the opening of this section almost exactly (12.1). The description of the Universal Lord alludes to the myth of mankind's rebellion which resulted in the withdrawal of the gods and the cosmos being sundered (see n. 95). Rhetorical questions express Ipuur's desperate appeal to his Lord: if the creator seems hostile, who but the king can protest on mankind's behalf? The Lord's abuse of his ability is contrasted with the awesome power of the creator, on a cosmic scale: god has withdrawn from the world in disgust, leaving the Lord as his deputy. The Universal Lord has made the sky separate from the earth, and fear is in every face when He comes— but if He does all this as our attacker, who will [protest] against this, if you refuse to? Surely, Utterance, Perception, and Truth are with you—100 The sage now directly accuses the Lord of responsibility for the present catastrophe. Utterance and Perception are the two great divine forces of the creator, and they and the sum of their creation—Truth—are entrusted by god to the Lord, but he fosters their opposite, garbled tumult. but it is chaos that you have put throughout the land, and the noise of tumult. Look, one man is striking out at another;101 Lament-like vignettes exemplify the chaos with specific instances. Mankind's transgression of the orders handed down by the Lord recalls a contemporary theodicy (see Introduction, pp. 168–9). they transgress what you have commanded. If three men go out on a road, only two men can be found: the many kill the few. Should a shepherd really love death?102 A difficult passage (one could also render ‘Should the loving shepherd be dead?’). A shepherd (a metaphor for the god and the king as the people's protector (see nn. 94, 99) ) should protect the few of the preceding verse. The sarcastic question implies that, if a shepherd should love death—an obvious absurdity—only then should the Lord promote death. In the next verse, the sage ironically points out that selfish aggressors are now favoured by the court, and society is based on hate, not love. If so, then you should command that assent be given to this! 13.1 Is not the individual who hates another now a loved favourite? The fact is that their forms are few on every road,103 The fact is … strengthens the affirmations that answer the preceding rhetorical questions and denounces the Lord directly. Mankind is now depleted to a few creatures: the king, in contemporary eulogies, is meant to ‘increase those born with him’. The homonyms forms and created tie the verses together, and present the Lord's responsibility forcefully. Speaking Falsehood is the opposite of the creative wisdom the Lord should have (cf. n. 100). and the fact is that your action has created all this—you have spoken Falsehood! And the land is brushwood, and mankind is destroyed—104 After these accusations, the sage returns again to laments, describing the results of the Lord's actions for the land. This couplet alludes ironically to the idiom for the earth, ‘the land of the living’: life is meaningless now. All of created time (years) has become conflict (unlike earlier (11.5–6 and n. 89)): vignettes follow of danger and destruction, describing the loss of home and property by both rich and poor. There is no refuge except in brute strength. this cannot be considered living! All of these years are strife: a man is slain on his rooftop. He is watching from his house by the boundary. Is he strong? Only then can he save himself—such is his life! They set an ambush even against a commoner; he only goes on the path when he can watch the distance 13.5 —they ensnare the road, and he stands still, distressed, and what he had on him is robbed, he is treated to blows of a stick, and is falsely slain. If only you would taste a little of the misery of all this!105 He begs the Lord to stop being aloof from mankind's woe: direct experience would move him to pity and make him intervene. The sage imagines a speech from the Lord, which would (presumably) offer some promise of consolation. Then you would say “Patience […………….] […………………………….] [………] for him, as protector of the walls, in addition to […………………‥] […………………………….] [……………] more heated than a generation of years, when a speech is made [as ……….].” […………………………] […………………………]

[It is so] good, when boats sail south […….],106 The following stanzas present a contrasting view of a harmonious society. The refrain here is expressive of order, rather than the inescapability of woe, and these stanzas provide a vision of the world alternative to that of the preceding laments. They reverse the earlier descriptions both of woe and the good things that have been lost, answering and echoing the laments; they recall the earlier injunctions to ‘remember’ the happy past (10.12 ff. and n. 84). This ideal is probably voiced by the sage (although the lacuna is just sufficient to restore a change in speaker, making the Lord speak these stanzas). The first stanza recalls the earlier descriptions of boats disintegrating (see n. 14), and imports failing (see n. 22), and the numerous references to robbery (see n. 104). [………………….], 13.10 [without any thieves] robbing them.

It is so good when […………….], [………………….].

It is so good, when the net is drawn in,107 This stanza evokes idyllic country life, and recalls the earlier references to lack of food and misappropriated offerings (e.g. n. 73). and birds are trussed, [in the] even[ing].

It is so good, when […….] honours for them,108 This stanza recalls the descriptions of wayfarers being robbed (13.4–5 and n. 104). and the roads are passable.

It is so good, when people's hands build pyramids,109 This stanza echoes both the earlier laments about the desecration of the royal burials (7.2), and the injunction to ‘remember’ the temple cult (11.1 ff.). The pyramids are the central monuments of the state, the burial places of the kings and members of the court; the Gods include the royal deified dead. These stanzas offer a vision of the whole of society ordered and united. when pools are dug and plantations are made with trees for the Gods.

It is so good, when people are drunk,110 Drunkenness had a positive value, and accompanied many religious celebrations. when they drink strong drink and their hearts are happy.

It is so good, when jubilation is in mouths,111 The acclamation of the clean and well-fed rich by the rest of society is a sign of social stability; this contrasts with the earlier accusations that society is in disorder. Linen recurs throughout these stanzas as an ideal of Egyptian life (cf. n. 33). and the estates’ notables stand 14.1 watching the jubilation from their houses, clad in linen cloaks, pre-eminently purified, well provided amidst them.

It is so good, when beds are smoothed,112 This stanza is intimately domestic; the final verse reverses the ‘then-now’ formulations of the laments in both form and content (cf. 7.10). Pillow is literally ‘headrest’. and the pillows well laid out for the officials; when the need of every man is filled with a sheet in the shade, and a securely closed door for someone who slept in a bush.

It is so good, when fine linen is spread out on New Year's Day,113 Linen (see n. 33) is spread out to bleach it; this may also be part of the celebrations for the New Year. The New Year is, according to mythology, a dangerous time, an allusion that broadens the image to a cosmic dimension, without losing specific application. The New Year contrasts with the earlier mentions of ‘years of strife’ (13.2–3 and n. 104). and [….] is on the bank; fine linen is spread out, and linen cloaks are on the ground; the overseer of cl[oaks …….]-men, [………………….] 14.5 [………….] trees, and the commoners are [sitt]ing [in their shades]. [………………….] [total of 4 verses lost] [………………….]

[………………….]114 After the lacuna, there comes a more discursive section, spoken by the Lord; in the lacuna one should probably restore ‘[What the Lord of All said, m when he answered Ipuur:]’. Although this section describes social chaos in similar terms to the preceding laments, there is emphasis on the self-destructive nature of the chaos. The Lord argues that, although people claim to be acting effectively, this is not so: men are too selfish to protect the country, and suspect even their sisters. The Lord evokes a full range of enemies: first come the Syrians who are Egypt's inveterate enemies to the north-east, and then the Nubians to the south, the Libyans to the west, and the Medjai, who are nomads of the eastern deserts of Nubia, and warlike enemies. The Lord argues that it would be possible for Egypt to maintain itself in order, if only humanity did not turn against itself. The people are responsible for the social chaos, not their rulers. [total of 8 verses lost] [………………….] 14.10 [….] they […] a deed of plunder [……………‥] southwards. The [Delta] is tied up [……‥] [in] the midst of them, like Syrians; [……………‥] to him. They say that their plans accomplish themselves. No one can be found who will stand up for their protection, from […], and the men who […]; every man is wary of his sister, to protect himself. Is it Nubians? Then we should make our protection, and make the fighters numerous to beat back the barbarians! Are they Libyans? Then we should have a confrontation, for the Medjai are as pleased as Egypt is! But how?—when every man is killing his brother,115 The aggression witnessed in families is now worse than that in earlier verses: the sage cited family murders as evidence of general disorder (9.3), but here the Lord cites them to show how men bring chaos on themselves. The men raised as paramilitary troops (the Youth) to oppose the foreigners of the preceding verses are now barbarians themselves. 15.1 and the Youth we raised for ourselves have become barbarians, fallen to ravaging! What is now happening to the land is letting the Syrians know how to govern it!116 The Lord announces that the foreigners (Syrians) are becoming aware of Egypt's troubles. While there may still be complacent confidence in Egypt's security abroad and at home (the desert sand is the contrary of Egypt), he prophesies that posterity will realize that the people wrought their own ruin (ravage echoes 15.1). He implies that present events, provoked by mankind, will destroy any security. Now, all the foreigners are still in fear of it, and the experience of the folk is that “Egypt cannot be given 〈to〉 the sand— it is strong because of [its] walls!” [But they will] say of you people after years, “[A generation of …], who ravaged themselves”. Only something that survives [can make] their [houses live];117 The Lord seems to argue that men should not just lament the present, but should act to ensure the safety of the future. In a generalizing couplet he affirms continuity through death, evoking endurance as opposed to ‘ravaging’. The man who is There is one of the dead, who could intervene in human affairs to help their relatives (letters to the dead show that appeals were made to them). The passage probably went on to blame mankind for what has happened, but is very fragmentary. His speech seems to end with a list of good things, including tribute. The contracts are evocative of law and order. [………….] the man who is There will make his children live. There is […………………….]. What you have made happen is [……‥] [……………] has said. 15.5 It is the Youth who […………‥] [………………….] [………….] for misery. [………………….] [total of 13 verses lost] [………………….] 15.10 [……‥] fish, [………] [………………….] [………] you have made contracts […….] [………………….] bindings […………] gum resin, lotus leaves, lotus stems, […], [………………….] in excess of [all] the provisions [of the land].’

What Ipuur said, when he answered118 For the title Lord of All see Introduction, p. 166. The sage now makes a short but violently sarcastic reply, reverting to the imagery of men as a flock. He dismisses the Lord's arguments, and accuses him of pretending to act for the people's good, while spreading falsehood and terror. the Majesty of the Lord of All: ‘[You are so careful not to speak Truth to] all the flock! In fact, ignoring this seems pleasant to the heart! So you have done what seems perfect to their hearts, and made people live by this? 16.1 But they still cover their faces for fear of the next morning! There was once a man who was old, just before his death.119 The sage now resorts to a parable to make his point about the fearful state of mankind. The parable concerns an innocent child, who is left helpless by his aged father's death and who is seized by the state before he is old enough to protest at being made into a servant or some similar fate. The sage implies that such a child at least cannot be blamed by the Lord for destroying himself. His son was a child, still without understanding; he had begun to be weaned off the food offered by the nurse, and he still could not open his mouth to call out to you; you carried him off at the death of the deceased. He weeps for his father. His water reaches the interior of [the Underworld].120 The water is both the son's tears and a libation poured to the dead. The parable seems to imply that, even if the son cannot appeal to authority, the dead will hear (the mention of the dead takes up that made by the Lord in 15.3–4 (see n. 117)); the sage warns that the dead, if not the living, can take vengeance on the Lord's folly. The foreleg is a funerary offering. […] the departure of the man […] […………………] he offers the foreleg of a bull […………………] 16.5 [total of 18 verses lost] […………………]

16.10 [What the Majesty of] the Lord of All [said]121 The Lord's reply seems to allude to mankind's negligence in making any response to calls for help; the phrase call upon echoes earlier passages where superiors were invoked (11.7, 12.5 and nn. 90, 97). The gods and the dead are weeping at mankind's folly (as opposed to the sage's parable where a victim of injustice wept for them to hear (16.2–3 and n. 120) ). The Lord's lament concerns the same woes that the sage lamented earlier, but he implies that the gods are blameless for mankind's woe and cannot help, as they themselves are attacked by men (the passage echoes 12.10). when [he] answered [Ipuur]: ‘[…………………‥] […………………‥] [someone who makes] you people retreat, and the land exist [in fear]; […………………‥] […………………‥] [everyone] is […] on every road; if they are called upon, [they do not hear]. [……… those] enemies— weep O Gods! Their followers have entered into the funerary mansions, and the images have been burnt; [their tomb-chambers are ravaged], and the bodies of the mummies. 17.1 How evil is the beginning 〈of rebellion〉122 The scribe left a blank space here, presumably unable to read what he was copying, as in several other passages (cf. n. 46). The omission is restored tentatively from a parallel phrase in The Teaching for King Merikare, 1f. Only the top right-hand corner of page 17 is preserved. There is space for ten more manuscript lines, as there are traces of a different hand by 17.13, i.e. for c.25 verses. It is uncertain how much of the original composition is lost. […………………‥] […………………‥] [………‥] for a Controller of Works; […………………‥’

Notes:

1. For the amount missing at the start of the poem, see Introduction, p. 166. The surviving text opens with a lament about the various professions, describing how all society is in uproar. The doorkeepers should act as guards, not plunderers.

2. This verse may imply that the washerman is now carrying something more warlike, or simply that even the most lowly are rebelling against their work. In the following verses workers take up arms, and become leaders.

3. You (plural) are the Lord and his entourage (see Introduction). The Time of Horus is the primeval past, when the Company of Gods ruled the earth and established the laws that the king should maintain. Presumably the things belong to traditions that have been overturned by the social chaos.

4. These happenings are described in the following lament, for which these verses act as an introduction. By the man of character the sage may allude to himself. Egypt is completely overthrown so that foreigners become its people (the normal word for Egyptians). Social disorder and the threats to property described earlier are signs of this chaos.

5. The sage now begins a long series of short stanzas, marked by the refrain ‘O, but’. This is the first of his laments, and is structured with antithetical contrasts and reversals between what was once—the ideal—and what is now—the actual. Aggression, foreigners, and the lowly usurp control of the land.

6. The past (yesterday) is an idealized age, in contrast to the present state of the land: the man of yesterday is a representative of that ideal, in contrast to the aggressive wrongdoer and archer.

7. The Nileflood, on which agriculture depended, had to be carefully prepared for; otherwise disaster followed.

8. The people as well as the land are becoming infertile. Khnum is the creator-god who forms children in the womb; the verse implies that the god is rendered helpless by mankind, rather than vice versa.

9. The sage laments the reversal of men's fortunes: the motif of the last becoming the first is an assertion of social chaos, not a cause of rejoicing; the ascent of the poor would have been at the original audience's expense.

10. Throwing bodies into the river instead of burying them both pollutes the river and represents the abandonment of all that funerary preparations stood for in Egypt. Thus the theme of death continues from the preceding stanza: the Nileflood should be a source of life and not a place of death.

11. White linen is a common image of Egyptian well-being (cf. 4.8–9 and n. 33), and is a marker of rank. The people are no longer clad in clean linen, but are like black ibises grubbing in the earth.

12. This is a demeaning image, derived from a lowly profession; also an ironic reference to Khnum (see 2.4 and n. 8), who should fashion mankind on his potter's wheel.

13. A stanza about prestigious state buildings. The safety of the palace implies a rebuke that the king has isolated himself from the general chaos, which the sage will later make directly.

14. The ship is a metaphor for the state, as well as being a literal reference to the loss of riverine communications. The South is Upper Egypt.

15. Although crocodiles have enough food, men are suicidal and seek them out (fish and men are homophonous). Land and water are alike dangerous: everywhere seems full of snares (nets). The imagery continues to the end of the stanza, where men are as helpless and trembling as fish out of water.

16. Death among coevals is now common, and the verse may even hint at fratricide. The wise man has to flee because his advice against chaos provokes hostility.

17. His son and heir—a major concern of Egyptian society—is reduced to the status of his servants, and rendered illegitimate.

18. The desert invades the once fertile land of Egypt.

19. The people are true Egyptians, as opposed to invading barbarians.

20. These materials were used in the jewellery of the élite, who are now deprived even of food, and in the next stanza are ashamed to be recognized.

21. This stanza continues the domestic subject matter of the preceding two stanzas, by describing the destruction of sumptuous furniture.

22. This is the first of two longer stanzas that concern the fall of the élite (including priests) and their material achievements (including burials), developing the references to furniture in the preceding stanza. The divine barque was the temple boat in which gods travelled in processions; men hoped to travel in its celestial counterpoint when dead. The sailing motif continues with the isolation of Byblos, an Egyptian trading partner on the Phoenician coast that supplied the cedar-wood used in burials in pyramids. There was also trade with the Minoan culture of Crete. These stanzas lament the lack of imports and tribute, a sign of Egypt's fall from its accustomed central position in the world. Material culture has disintegrated; the only homage that is now brought is modest, and from the poor oases of the Western Desert.

23. The sage turns from the north to the south: Elephantine is at the southern border, and Thinis is a sacred town in Middle Egypt. Egypt itself is disintegrating, as well as its ‘vassal’ states; this is exemplified by the failure to collect the provinces’ taxes of goods. The lost revenue includes kohl (eye paint), and various unidentified vegetable substances: irti is a plant colouring (Isatis tinctoria?); the others are types of wood.

24. The despairing sage asks how the state can survive without its revenues. The words tribute and ‘Truth’ are homonymous, and tribute is a sign of true social order. The sage states that the foreign countries should bring tribute and acclaim the king as their source of life; the mention of water alludes to the idiom ‘to be on the water’ of a king, meaning to be loyal to him.

25. Here, as elsewhere, the repetition of a word binds two disparate, and often contradictory, stanzas together. The lack of laughter recalls the king's lack of happiness in the preceding stanza (3.12).

26. For people, see n. 19.

27. In official art commoners are often shown as balding, and elaborate wigs are a sign of status.

28. Quietness is an ethical quality, here engulfed by noise (noise and voice are homonyms, enacting the disappearance of a righteous voice amid the noise). This brouhaha is exemplified in the speeches of the following stanza.

29. The mixture of strong antitheses—great and small, die and live—expresses the despair and chaos of life. The following stanzas develop the fate of the children.

30. This stanza moves from the deaths of the newborn to the fate of the dead in general; the repetition of a phrase links it with the preceding stanza (4.3–4). Embalming was a privilege of the wealthy.

31. For yesterday, see 2.2 and n. 6.

32. The image of flax is continued with a reference to the rich agricultural area of the country, the Marshland of the Delta. The access to the Delta is exposed to nomadic foreigners, who now turn to agriculture and pastoral pursuits (the works of the Marshland). Restricted access, once maintained by society, is abandoned, first to geographical areas, then to state institutions, and finally to specialized skills and knowledge. The Place of Secrets is the private areas of the palace and/or temple.

33. A stanza about social upheaval between the élite and their servants. Fine linen was a prerogative of the wealthy. Those without daylight are servants confined in their workplaces. Once-wealthy wives are dismissed with an order to make them sleep on biers.

34. Noblewomen who felt too refined to carry heaps of perfume (myrrh) for themselves, and who were carried in palanquins, now have to carry large quantities of water as servants.

35. Court singers and other performance artists are lost in the fall of the élite, just as the cupbearer is. Meret is the goddess of ritual music and harmony. The stanza begins and ends with a reference to millstones.

36. In contrast to the high-up servants, the lowly maidservants are rebelling.

37. The trees implicitly include those from noblemen's plantations; destroying trees is an ultimate symbol of devastation. The next verses are obscure and require emendation; the sense seems to be that a man has to pare his house down, with the result that his children will have no profitable inheritance. No one can remember what food tastes like; hunger is described further in the next stanza.

38. This man's speech is hypocritical, using the lack of god as an excuse for heated action. The next stanza describes the hypocrisy of the entire land, where there is only apparent Truth.

39. The runners are the wealthy man's messengers. Even the robber is robbed: no property is safe.

40. Flock is often a metaphor for humanity, the ‘flock of God’ (see n. 94).

41. The first couplet repeats an earlier stanza (4.3–4). For Khnum, see 2.4 and n. 8; here, however, the lament is the reverse of the one there: the god is exhausted at having to fashion enough children to replace those who were slaughtered.

42. Everyone is too frightened for any defensive action which would help the royal audience (your is plural). The following verses apparently describe the uselessness of a little man's religious practices (including sacrificing animals, votive images, and amulets) to ward off terrifying situations. Khenty is a crocodile-god and a demon of death; the man he has dismembered is his victim, who once dead would also be the object of cult and intercession. The Lion is the lion-goddess Sekhmet, another merciless deity; Ptah, the creator-god of Memphis, is the consort of Sekhmet. The sage laments that offerings cost mankind dear and do not reach the gods effectively; a rebuke to the gods and to their intermediary, the king, is implied.

43. The sage laments man's hostility against man, and that all protest is useless, as society has already perished.

44. The attack of the preceding stanza is developed with an ambush.

45. This couplet is repeated from 4.4–5 (see n. 31). Here it is developed as the sage despairs at the created world (echoing the suicidal despair of children and the ‘noise’ of 4.1–3 (see nn. 28–9) ): the way is prepared for his later denunciation of the creator.

46. The scribe left a blank space here, presumably because he could not read the manuscript he was copying. Men who should eat bread and beer, flesh and fowl, are reduced to an animal's diet of plants and water. No one can be generous when thus deprived.

47. The sage continues to lament the lack of proper food and rebukes himself for not having spoken out sooner.

48. The sage moves from food supplies to other aspects of the administration. This begins a series of more concise stanzas on the destruction of the state's archives of administrative, legal, and religious texts: the lost culture embraces a wide range. The Sacred Stronghold is some sort of temple enclosure; the Place of Secrets is an area of restricted access.

49. Magic was an integral part of state religion. Spells are now remembered and used by common people and are thus made dangerous.

50. The Stronghold is an institution that enforced labour duty. The next verses have a double meaning: people trample the laws underfoot, and walk freely when they should be detained by these laws.

51. All social order is overthrown, on a cosmic scale. The House of Thirty is a law court.

52. The Great Stronghold is the central office in charge of labour duty which now is on the point of collapse; the Great Mansions are the central law courts, which should be of restricted access.

53. These verses are a formula expressing how social order is overthrown and how the wise are contradicted by the rabble (cf. The Teaching of King Amenemhat, 14a–b and n. 20). After this stanza the scribe mistakenly copied an earlier stanza (4.4): ‘O, but those who were in the embalming-place m are exposed on the rocky ground: m this is how the embalmers’ secrets are overthrown there’. This insertion was later marked in the margin as an error.

54. Here the sage starts a second lament, also structured by refrains and short antithetical stanzas (the refrain—Look—is, if anything, slightly more blunt than that of the preceding lament). Fire is elsewhere an image of mankind's destructive tendencies, and the sage wishes that such destruction were reserved for enemies. This start to the lament gives a sense of chaos reaching an apocalyptic level, as royalty itself, the centre of Egyptian society, begins to be attacked.

55. The phrase things are done can also mean ‘goods are acquired’, or ‘rituals are done’: a wide range of possible misdeeds. The happenings in the land, the subject matter of the preceding lament, are here surpassed. The royal mummy (the king) is removed from its pyramid; this climactic wrong is introduced in general terms and developed more explicitly through the following stanzas.

56. The Falcon is the king in his full divinity; his regal buried state is contrasted with being carried out on a simple bier. The stripping of the pyramid forms a climax to the motif of stripping places of state administration in the preceding lament; the sage moves towards a description of how the kingship is being undermined.

57. The uraeus is the royal serpent-diadem, a symbol of a deity worn on the forehead of the king, and is a great protective force. The land rises in anarchy; the stanza alludes to the myth of mankind's rebellion against the creator Sungod, which resulted in the fallen world (see n. 95). The god's epithet presents him as the imposer of order on society.

58. The secret is the mystery of kingship.

59. The water is funerary libations, but here it is not a sign of piety, only of Egypt's death-like state and neglect of life. The man who should water the earth is a farm labourer.

60. The serpent is the ancestral spirit of former kings; its cavern alludes indirectly to the royal burial places.

61. The sage's Lord is the Lord of All, who creates strife without anyone opposing him, although the king's duty is to oppose strife and not create it.

62. The royal serpent-spirit is now cast away; the oblivious ones are the dead who are left unburied and thrown into the river. The people who should be treated thus are properly buried.

63. The stanzas now move from the subject of burial to the (related) subject of wealth; the élite who once could afford to be embalmed are expelled onto the desert when dead (cf. 4.4). Despair is expressed in ‘then-now’ formulations with direct antitheses. The descriptions are striking and simple, making this lament more forceful than the preceding one, and it moves to wider matters: the way in which the social status quo has been reversed.

64. The ladies now have boards instead of beds. The Workhouse was an office of forced labour.

65. The people who could not afford the means or time to make music now have them. For Meret, see n. 35.

66. Wealth was needed to acquire a second wife.

67. For the social significnce of hair, see n. 27.

68. This stanza, which interrupts the sequence of antithetical laments, seems to be a sarcastic comment aimed at the Lord, who remains unaffected by the people's suffering.

69. The scribe left a blank space here (cf. n. 46); there may be a full verse missing.

70. The sage moves ironically from describing divine favours to human piety, which is now being usurped by the impious who do not know God.

71. Poverty is such that it makes mothers unnatural.

72. The sage moves from cattle as property to cattle as food. The subject continues in the following stanzas.

73. The gods are now given only geese instead of more prestigious oxen, and by colonial tenants not priests.

74. Swine are inappropriate offerings to the gods; taboos are ignored. In the second verse, the scribe left a blank (cf. n. 46); perhaps restore 〉‘lack anything to offer’〈.

75. The simile of a herd is drawn from the earlier descriptions of wrongs involving cattle. The image of the shepherd will become still more resonant later (see n. 94). In the next stanza cattle are victims of human greed, suggesting that men's folly is self-destructive.

76. The final stanza of the lament is longer than most and concludes it with a description of the loss of the basic food stuff. The work of the scribe is vital to the gathering, reporting, and distribution of the harvest.

77. The sage now turns from describing the state of the land to urging the Lord to take action to destroy the enemies; the same wish was made at the start of the preceding lament (7.1 and n. 54). A more varied section follows, with stanzas of less regular form. The injunctions are followed by descriptions that justify the need for such action: society is predatory and men only exhaust themselves by trying to bring calm (coolness).

78. A stanza about how men are despoiled and degraded; it is more expansive than previous descriptions of this subject, but remains obscure because of lacunae.

79. Perhaps restore ‘the [official]’, who is ignored. The following fragmentary verses seem to tell how vigilance is needed to protect temple buildings and even a commoner's property. The Falcons are sacred images of the king or gods; Rams are sacred animals or images.

80. These verses are obscure. The manufacturers of perfume (by straining) now use the straining-cloth to make primitive shelters (tents); Egyptians are reduced to living like nomadic foreigners.

81. The sage moves from longed-for destruction to what has been destroyed: he interweaves descriptions of present circumstances and desired reactions. The status of the lords of society is disrupted: even when there are five messengers, they refuse to go, and tell their master to go himself.

82. The refrain ‘Destroy’ is avoided, as the sage instead invokes sorrow at the destruction. His description of the loss of basic life-stuffs summarizes earlier descriptions of the state's impoverishment. The plundering of the Royal House does not result in greater wealth for the people: the final couplet implies that if even the palace suffers from lack, all the country suffers the same.

83. The stanzas become more regular as they urge that the enemies of the splendid capital be destroyed. Retributive action is offered as an answer to the chaos: the second verse in each stanza probably described a sign of chaos to justify the injunction to destroy. The Overseer of the City is the Vizier, who should travel in a palanquin with attendants.

84. The sage stops urging action, and instead urges the Lord to remember the good things of life, which are based on piety and service. The form of the stanzas is the same as that of the preceding injunctions, highlighting the contrast between the past and the present. These verses are a moment of relief (a similar moment occurs later (13.9 ff. and n. 106) ), recalling when god was in his temple and all was well with the world; temple ritual was vital to maintain the order of the cosmos. The first stanza is obscure, but may describe how a pious man is cured (wash in is a phrase attested in medical texts) and prospers.

85. These birds were traditionally offered to the gods. The stanza contrasts with the earlier lament about offerings (8.12 and n. 73).

86. The chewing is part of the purification required for priestly service: the bread is for offerings; the head is anointed with perfume for cultic celebrations.

87. Rows of flagstaffs flanked the entrances of temples. Temple walls were whitewashed as a ground for ritual scenes and texts. The Horizon is the temple—the god's dwelling place from which he appears; the idiom adds a cosmic dimension to the general well-being.

88. Members of the élite served periods of time (months) as priest, for which purification was important. The mention of ritual impurity is the only negative element in these stanzas, and it is presented as self-destructive.

89. These days and months are the dates for rituals; these are the most important days of all eternity.

90. The ritually pure priest is called upon to be an intermediary between the people and the gods, an indication of social and cosmic unity. The fire recalls the earlier passages where fire was invoked against the enemies of the state: burnt sacrifices of fowl were symbolic of the destruction of chaos.

91. This stanza refers to offerings made at the start of the Nile inundation.

92. This fragmentary passage may have formed a transition from the preceding lyrical section to the following discursive passage, moving from the description of past rituals to a wish for a response from the gods. The lack of mankind is a theme taken up in the following section. The West, the place of death, was generally considered to be an inspiration to piety, and may have been intended as such here.

93. Another blank (cf. n. 46), but the restoration is fairly certain. The sage now starts a broad discursive argument. The following stanza is different in tone from the preceding ones, although Look recalls the refrain of the second lament (7.1–9.8). The sage pursues rapid arguments in complex sequences of clauses, and, instead of addressing the lord's court (you plural), he turns to the Lord himself (you singular). Accusations and questions alternate with descriptions of the land's woes. The sage is inspired by the world's evil and the absence of any divine intervention, and begins to call the justice of both king and god into question; He is the creator of the cosmos, the Sungod (already mentioned in 11.11). The lack of any differentiation between the virtuous and the aggressive makes him question the worth of creation; coolness is a positive and orderly emotional quality, while heat is choleric and chaotic.

94. What they say is a possible answer to the sage's questioning complaint, which he immediately dismisses. The shepherd is a metaphor for the creator-god (and king) as the people's protector. The imagery also relates to the earlier description of professions gone wrong (see nn. 75, 99). The small size of the shepherd's herd (mankind), and its divisive nature, are signs of his inadequacy. The sage notes the dichotomy between the all-powerful creator and his small creatures, and between his supposedly virtuous heart and their aggressive ones.

95. The sage wishes that mankind had been destroyed before it had caused such distress (echoing the wishes expressed through the previous laments). He alludes to the myth of mankind's rebellion, when the creator withdrew from the earth, killing the rebels; part of mankind, however, was saved, which the sage now regrets. It is ironic that the caring shepherd is urged to destroy the flock—an irony that is continued in antithetical and paradoxical descriptions of the resultant woe in birth and generation. The phrase on the road acts as a sort of refrain for the predominance of evil, while the verse about seed is a daringly contradictory evocation of the chaos of birth. The evil state of the land is unchanging; changes were earlier lamented, but now the sage laments that there is no change for the better. All this is despite the presence of the Gods in the temples: the divine world does not intervene to save mankind.

96. The Pilot who safeguards the ship of state (cf. n. 14) is an allusive metaphor for the creator who guides the cosmos, whose power is lacking. A rhetorical question implies that god must be sleeping, so inactive is he. The tone of this passage is combative and challenging. Look echoes the earlier lament (7.1–9.8) and the start of this section (11.12).

97. A difficult couplet: the rhetorical questions ask whether men should be unable to appeal to the Lord in distress. They imply that mortals only appeal to the Lord for sympathy of necessity when they are saddened, and now they suffer much more than sadness—affliction. (There is wordplay with the homonyms call upon and ‘Pilot’, 12.5.)

98. The sage continues to lament people's inability to protest freely. The destitute who cause this have usurped the king's power, which is often described in official texts as being worthier than millions of mankind. The sage then laments the destruction of the sanctuaries of temples, as an indication of the godless state of the world.

99. The shepherd whose flock has been lessened during the night is both an example of the state of the land and a metaphor for the neglectful great shepherd. The sage reverts to denouncing the creator, the Universal Lord; this verse repeats the opening of this section almost exactly (12.1). The description of the Universal Lord alludes to the myth of mankind's rebellion which resulted in the withdrawal of the gods and the cosmos being sundered (see n. 95). Rhetorical questions express Ipuur's desperate appeal to his Lord: if the creator seems hostile, who but the king can protest on mankind's behalf? The Lord's abuse of his ability is contrasted with the awesome power of the creator, on a cosmic scale: god has withdrawn from the world in disgust, leaving the Lord as his deputy.

100. The sage now directly accuses the Lord of responsibility for the present catastrophe. Utterance and Perception are the two great divine forces of the creator, and they and the sum of their creation—Truth—are entrusted by god to the Lord, but he fosters their opposite, garbled tumult.

101. Lament-like vignettes exemplify the chaos with specific instances. Mankind's transgression of the orders handed down by the Lord recalls a contemporary theodicy (see Introduction, pp. 168–9).

102. A difficult passage (one could also render ‘Should the loving shepherd be dead?’). A shepherd (a metaphor for the god and the king as the people's protector (see nn. 94, 99) ) should protect the few of the preceding verse. The sarcastic question implies that, if a shepherd should love death—an obvious absurdity—only then should the Lord promote death. In the next verse, the sage ironically points out that selfish aggressors are now favoured by the court, and society is based on hate, not love.

103. The fact is … strengthens the affirmations that answer the preceding rhetorical questions and denounces the Lord directly. Mankind is now depleted to a few creatures: the king, in contemporary eulogies, is meant to ‘increase those born with him’. The homonyms forms and created tie the verses together, and present the Lord's responsibility forcefully. Speaking Falsehood is the opposite of the creative wisdom the Lord should have (cf. n. 100).

104. After these accusations, the sage returns again to laments, describing the results of the Lord's actions for the land. This couplet alludes ironically to the idiom for the earth, ‘the land of the living’: life is meaningless now. All of created time (years) has become conflict (unlike earlier (11.5–6 and n. 89)): vignettes follow of danger and destruction, describing the loss of home and property by both rich and poor. There is no refuge except in brute strength.

105. He begs the Lord to stop being aloof from mankind's woe: direct experience would move him to pity and make him intervene. The sage imagines a speech from the Lord, which would (presumably) offer some promise of consolation.

106. The following stanzas present a contrasting view of a harmonious society. The refrain here is expressive of order, rather than the inescapability of woe, and these stanzas provide a vision of the world alternative to that of the preceding laments. They reverse the earlier descriptions both of woe and the good things that have been lost, answering and echoing the laments; they recall the earlier injunctions to ‘remember’ the happy past (10.12 ff. and n. 84). This ideal is probably voiced by the sage (although the lacuna is just sufficient to restore a change in speaker, making the Lord speak these stanzas). The first stanza recalls the earlier descriptions of boats disintegrating (see n. 14), and imports failing (see n. 22), and the numerous references to robbery (see n. 104).

107. This stanza evokes idyllic country life, and recalls the earlier references to lack of food and misappropriated offerings (e.g. n. 73).

108. This stanza recalls the descriptions of wayfarers being robbed (13.4–5 and n. 104).

109. This stanza echoes both the earlier laments about the desecration of the royal burials (7.2), and the injunction to ‘remember’ the temple cult (11.1 ff.). The pyramids are the central monuments of the state, the burial places of the kings and members of the court; the Gods include the royal deified dead. These stanzas offer a vision of the whole of society ordered and united.

110. Drunkenness had a positive value, and accompanied many religious celebrations.

111. The acclamation of the clean and well-fed rich by the rest of society is a sign of social stability; this contrasts with the earlier accusations that society is in disorder. Linen recurs throughout these stanzas as an ideal of Egyptian life (cf. n. 33).

112. This stanza is intimately domestic; the final verse reverses the ‘then-now’ formulations of the laments in both form and content (cf. 7.10). Pillow is literally ‘headrest’.

113. Linen (see n. 33) is spread out to bleach it; this may also be part of the celebrations for the New Year. The New Year is, according to mythology, a dangerous time, an allusion that broadens the image to a cosmic dimension, without losing specific application. The New Year contrasts with the earlier mentions of ‘years of strife’ (13.2–3 and n. 104).

114. After the lacuna, there comes a more discursive section, spoken by the Lord; in the lacuna one should probably restore ‘[What the Lord of All said, m when he answered Ipuur:]’. Although this section describes social chaos in similar terms to the preceding laments, there is emphasis on the self-destructive nature of the chaos. The Lord argues that, although people claim to be acting effectively, this is not so: men are too selfish to protect the country, and suspect even their sisters. The Lord evokes a full range of enemies: first come the Syrians who are Egypt's inveterate enemies to the north-east, and then the Nubians to the south, the Libyans to the west, and the Medjai, who are nomads of the eastern deserts of Nubia, and warlike enemies. The Lord argues that it would be possible for Egypt to maintain itself in order, if only humanity did not turn against itself. The people are responsible for the social chaos, not their rulers.

115. The aggression witnessed in families is now worse than that in earlier verses: the sage cited family murders as evidence of general disorder (9.3), but here the Lord cites them to show how men bring chaos on themselves. The men raised as paramilitary troops (the Youth) to oppose the foreigners of the preceding verses are now barbarians themselves.

116. The Lord announces that the foreigners (Syrians) are becoming aware of Egypt's troubles. While there may still be complacent confidence in Egypt's security abroad and at home (the desert sand is the contrary of Egypt), he prophesies that posterity will realize that the people wrought their own ruin (ravage echoes 15.1). He implies that present events, provoked by mankind, will destroy any security.

117. The Lord seems to argue that men should not just lament the present, but should act to ensure the safety of the future. In a generalizing couplet he affirms continuity through death, evoking endurance as opposed to ‘ravaging’. The man who is There is one of the dead, who could intervene in human affairs to help their relatives (letters to the dead show that appeals were made to them). The passage probably went on to blame mankind for what has happened, but is very fragmentary. His speech seems to end with a list of good things, including tribute. The contracts are evocative of law and order.

118. For the title Lord of All see Introduction, p. 166. The sage now makes a short but violently sarcastic reply, reverting to the imagery of men as a flock. He dismisses the Lord's arguments, and accuses him of pretending to act for the people's good, while spreading falsehood and terror.

119. The sage now resorts to a parable to make his point about the fearful state of mankind. The parable concerns an innocent child, who is left helpless by his aged father's death and who is seized by the state before he is old enough to protest at being made into a servant or some similar fate. The sage implies that such a child at least cannot be blamed by the Lord for destroying himself.

120. The water is both the son's tears and a libation poured to the dead. The parable seems to imply that, even if the son cannot appeal to authority, the dead will hear (the mention of the dead takes up that made by the Lord in 15.3–4 (see n. 117)); the sage warns that the dead, if not the living, can take vengeance on the Lord's folly. The foreleg is a funerary offering.

121. The Lord's reply seems to allude to mankind's negligence in making any response to calls for help; the phrase call upon echoes earlier passages where superiors were invoked (11.7, 12.5 and nn. 90, 97). The gods and the dead are weeping at mankind's folly (as opposed to the sage's parable where a victim of injustice wept for them to hear (16.2–3 and n. 120) ). The Lord's lament concerns the same woes that the sage lamented earlier, but he implies that the gods are blameless for mankind's woe and cannot help, as they themselves are attacked by men (the passage echoes 12.10).

122. The scribe left a blank space here, presumably unable to read what he was copying, as in several other passages (cf. n. 46). The omission is restored tentatively from a parallel phrase in The Teaching for King Merikare, 1f. Only the top right-hand corner of page 17 is preserved. There is space for ten more manuscript lines, as there are traces of a different hand by 17.13, i.e. for c.25 verses. It is uncertain how much of the original composition is lost.

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