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The Teaching for King Merikare

1 (P 1) [The beginning of the Teaching1 The opening is very fragmentary. The name of the teacher is uncertain. Khety is the dynastic name of the Heracleopolitan kings, but it is uncertain which one is meant here (see Introduction, p. 212); the lacuna may have included the teacher's throne name. made by the Dual King, … Khet]y, for his son Merikare. [He says, ‘……………‥]2 The first stanza concerns the restraint of rebellion, a theme that is developed in the following six stanzas describing the proper responses to various types of citizen. This topic is almost entirely absent from official inscriptions. [……………………] Do not be lenient about a misdeed which you have caught! You should punish […………‥] [……………] their […] in every respect: this is the beginning of [rebellion] [……………………].

2 (P 4) [……………‥] created,3 The second stanza advocates the power of the spoken word in responding to opposition. The opening verse can perhaps be restored ‘[If you encounter a city whose … are]’. For the Youth, see n. 7. The final verses concern reprisals against a particular type of rebel described by the stanza; the future king is urged to kill both the leader and his allies. when the malcontents are made many, [……‥] […………………….] […………… rebel]s with their plans against you. […………………….] […………………….] Someone who speaks a repor[t ……….] [………………….] After your words exist against e[vil ……‥] [………………….] [………… that is brought] low is partial. […………………….] […………………….] He makes half of it as a heap. Then [one shall ……… a lord]; he […….] division [with] my supporters. The Y[outh ……… say the like], […‥] seem many to you. You should 〈not〉 stray from the path of […‥]! […………………….] [Do not be lenient] to him! You should kill those who [owe] him [allegiance] for this, for you know his supporters, who love him!

3 (P 13) If you encounter a [mighty man who] is the [master] of a town,4 The king now urges caution in punishing a powerful man; the whole Teaching has a strong pragmatic streak, and he advises that different circumstances demand different responses. The 100,000s are numerous underlings; the Great Mansions are the central law courts. and is the lord of a clan, care for him, and then [he] will not […….] your many 100,000s! Do not destroy a man for the sake of principle, not [….] [………………………] [He is in charge of the] Great Mansions, and [….] bread […………‥] he [………]; he [care]s for the clan. Take care not to […………‥]

4 (P 18) […] the men who guard for us the living!5 This stanza turns to a commendable type of subordinate (wordplay links this stanza with the last: take care and guard are homonyms). The final verses affirm that if such a mighty man is in charge of people who conspire, a king should not punish him as part of his reprisals; then everyone will acclaim the royal benevolence. A month has passed and [……‥] […………….] he […]s himself. He speaks, takes concern, remembers— O a man on earth who is mighty in every limb of his body! [Punish] the people who are con[spiring]! But be kind to him, when your heart is satisfied; then everyone says, “This is his rebirth!” and they [become] contented.

5 (P 21) If you encounter someone who was once without [many] neighbours,6 The king next urges merciless punishment for a man who has acquired influence and goods only in order to stir up dissent. A forceful series of commands embraces his present power, his heritage, his future repute (name), and his survival in the next life (memory). The practice of damnatio memoriae is widely visible on monuments. One manuscript inserts a verse at the start of this stanza: ‘May you [punish an agitator] like God’. whom the townspeople did [not] know, but whose supporters now amount to many and [love] him [for] his goods, and also for his knowledge, who has entered into hearts, and who makes himself seem fair to his servants, yet who continues to be an agitator and a talker—drive him away! Kill his children! Erase his name! [Destroy] his neighbours! Drive away memory of him, and of the supporters who love him!

The tumultuous man is a disturber of the townspeople.7 The king turns to a more lowly townsman, who ignores royal authority and is a rabble-rouser. The echoes of the vocabulary of the preceding stanza suggest his similarity to the other rebel, despite the difference in their status. The Youth is paramilitary companies. The concluding verse advises a king to punish the rebel but not his dependants, who were forced to follow him by their poverty (inherited from their father). He raises up two parties among the Youth. 6 (P 26) Now, if you find that he belongs to the townspeople, a hasty-[mouthed man] whose actions ignore you, accuse him in front of the entourage! Drive [him] away! He is a rebel also. The talker is an agitator of the town. Curb the masses! Drive away the heat from them! He who drives the rebel away should not blame the poor man whose father made him rebel.

7 (P 28) A dependant can put the army that [follows] you in chaos.8 This stanza is more reflective and concerns a yet more lowly man, who nevertheless can make trouble for an entire army. Disturbance among the poor leads to their being sent to the Workhouse, the office of forced labour. The king warns against being harsh towards the lowly, and urges that one should punish only in proportion to the provocation. Such justice is good nature and brings bliss and security (heaven); to do otherwise causes the punisher to suffer. His end will be made in the confusion which he began; the masses rage, and they will be put in the Workhouse. But be lenient [to ……] when you punish! You thus change [the citizen]s into rejoicing. 8 (P 30) You should be righteous beside God, so that men will speak [according to] your thoughts! You should punish in accordance with the off[ence]! Good nature is a man's heaven. The angry-hearted's cursing is his pain.

9 (P 32) Be skilful with words, and you will be victorious.9 The king moves from specific opponents to more general injunctions about wisdom. Wise speech is a way of avoiding rebellion, rather than punishing after the event; describing speech as strength brings out the contrast with the acts of strength described previously. As the king turns to positive commands, more metaphorical and less aggressive images follow. Words are also the means of acquiring virtue, and are the only refuge in a tumultuous society. After listing various types of rebel, the Teaching now describes the single value of Truth. The strong arm of the king is his tongue. Words are stronger than any weapon. No one can get round someone who has a skilful heart. [He acquires effectiveness] effortlessly. A man of understanding is a [shelter] against even officials. They who know that he knows cannot attack him. [Misfortune] cannot exist near him. Truth comes to him distilled, like the counsels of ancestral speech.

10 (P 35) Emulate your forefathers, your ancestors,10 This stanza develops the previous one's preoccupation with wisdom as the ideal of the ancestral past; wisdom endures in writings, and the stanza considers how royal virtue and achievements can be made to endure through wisdom and patience (a central social virtue). The verse about an educated man implies that one has to be skilled to benefit from teaching. and work will be done [successfully] with [their] wisdom! Look, their words endure in writings. Open, and read, and emulate the wise! A skilled man becomes an educated man. 11 (P 36) Be not evil! Patience is good.11 After a central verse urging patience, the second half of the stanza advises a king to plan enduring defensive action. The king's forces should be well rewarded, so that they will be grateful. After a passage on emulating established virtue, the future is cited as a reason for virtue. This stanza moves from the present act of reading writings, through the enduring monuments of the reign, to a king's future reputation. The next stanza continues this movement into eternity, and describes how enduring renown is gained by ensuring that social prosperity is continued. Make your monuments last through love of you! Make the cor[vée-workers] whom the city has gathered have plenty. They will thank God for this bounty— watch over your [repute], give praises for your goodness, and pray to [the Gods] for your health.

12 (P 38) Respect the officials! Make your people well!12 The king now warns against blindly trusting in the terrestrial future and ignoring the responsibilities of authority. This stanza develops the contrast between good nature and the selfish use of power, which is vile (a keyword) and will bring no renown. Virtue is the only stability—acquiring property (even as much as the whole land) is useless. Without wisdom, human plenitude (a million men) is of no use to a king (the Lord of the Two Lands); this verse ironically evokes official statements that the king is worth more than a million men (cf. n. 43). Virtue and renown are presented sub specie aeternitatis, and in the light of the otherworldly judgement of God. The stanza progresses from concern with the future and life upon earth to all eternity, which is the lifetime of the virtuous man; for him, death (departure) is a painless transition to a more perfect state. (The Creator is literally ‘He who created Her, i.e. Truth’). Strengthen your borders and your patrols! It is good to act for the future. The life of the clear-sighted man will be respected; he who trusts will suffer. Make people watch over [you], through your good nature! 13 (P 40) Vile is he who binds the land to himself, [to make it his]. The man who is rapacious when something belongs to someone else is a fool, for [life] upon earth passes—it is not long. Being remembered because of it is success. Even a million men cannot benefit the Lord of the Two Lands. It is for eternity that a [man] will be alive; the departure of him who issued from the Creator will be like the release a favoured man.

14 (P 42) Make your great ones great, so that they will enact your laws!13 Another stanza on officials, which returns—like the start of the preceding one—to specific and practical considerations in enacting eternal principles. The following verses, however, imply that the pragmatism of this advice is not materialistic: to be wealthy enough to be impartial does not require great wealth, only no want. Someone wealthy of house cannot be partial. Someone who does not suffer want is a lord of goods. A poor man cannot speak truthfully. He who says “If only I had!” cannot be righteous, but is partial to a man who endears himself, and inclines to a lord who pays him. 15 (P 44) Great is the great one whose great ones are great.14 The second half of the stanza develops the argument of the first, as the king affirms the unity of the élite with wordplay on great. This is then explicated: the king's security depends not on acquiring personal wealth, but on the well-being of his entourage—if members of it are great, he will be truly great. Thus generosity is true wealth. His greatness is his ability and responsibility to articulate and enact Truth, as the poor cannot. The king who is the lord of an entourage is strong. Someone wealthy in officials is a rich man. You should speak Truth in your house,15 A concluding quatrain develops the idea of the king's spreading Truth, as a means of power. Public behaviour will earn respect for an individual. so that the officials who are in the land will fear you! Righteousness is proper for a lord. It is the public rooms which give out fear of the private rooms.

16 (P 46) Do Truth so that you may endure upon earth!16 The king now moves gradually from these reflections on wealth to consider the virtue of consideration for society's oppressed. This is integral to order and Truth; the reflections on the widow echo claims to virtue in funerary inscriptions. This stanza moves from the specific and this-worldly to the otherworldly and absolute, returning to the theme of endurance (from 13c–h). Quieten the weeper! Do not oppress the widow! Do not expel a man from his father's property! Do not destroy the officials in their seats of office! Beware of punishing wrongly! Do not smite! It is not good for you! 17 (P 48) You should punish with beaters and with guards!17 After warnings against harsh measures, the king now advises how to protect the land with limited reprisals—with imprisonment rather than with execution (smiting). Almost in an aside, the theme of rebellion reappears, but here God is the absolute avenger of any wrong; thus the king (his deputy) should be lenient. Caution and mercy are urged, as part of a general movement towards admitting royal fallibility. This land will be founded through this— except for the rebel who is devising plans. God knows the malcontent. God will impose his doom with blood. Only the lenient man [will increase] his lifetime. 18 (P 50) Do not kill a man whose excellence you know,18 The king warns against action towards an acquaintance who was educated with the royal children (an actual practice with the children of the provincial élite). The Place of Secrets is an area of restricted access, the private apartments of the palace; it can also refer to a temple, moving the subject into the next world, as in the following verses. (Free-striding is also used later of the blessed dead (20g) ). The soul represents the dead, who can avenge themselves on the living, as agents of retribution, and who can overpower any magic used by the living to defend themselves. Water was offered to the dead, by a living intercessor claiming justice. Reciprocity and retribution continue beyond the grave. with whom you used to chant the writings, who was brought up to be someone recognized [as … be]fore God, with free-striding feet in the Place of Secrets! The soul will come back to the place it knows, and it cannot stray from its ways of yesterday. No kind of magic can beat it back. It will reach those who offer it water.

19 (P 53) The court that judges the man who is wanting—19 This court no longer consists of earthly ‘officials’ (as in 14a–g), but of otherworldly judges who are absolutely impartial; eternal judgement is infallible, unlike royal vengeance, and being someone absolutely wise is an attribute of God (as in the preceding stanza). They are the accusing Gods who judge the heap of a man's riches and achievements (heap is homonymous with lifetime, as are deeds and remain). There is the otherworld, where the virtuous are rewarded, in contrast to this world, which is a mere hour. The concluding verses contrast the fates of the unvirtuous and virtuous man (the epithet free-striding echoes 18d). Although the description of judgement is couched in generalized terms, the context makes it clear that the king himself will also be judged by absolute standards. you know that They are not lenient on that day of judging the wretched, that hour of doing Their office. It is painful when the accuser is someone wise. Trust not in length of years, for They see a lifetime as an hour! 20 (P 55) After death a man remains, and his deeds are placed beside him in a heap. Now, being There is eternity: the man who does what angers Them is a fool; the man who reaches Them without doing wrong, he is There like a God, free-striding like the Lords of Eternity.

21 (P 57) Raise your Youth, so that the Residence will love you!20 This stanza returns to the here and now and the effects of the last twenty years rather than future eternity. The king urges care for the human resources that can defend the realm; he has ensured that the Youth (see n. 7) is happy to perform its military service; the phrase following the heart can imply an ethical following of one's conscience as well as enjoyment. Make your supporters plentiful among the veterans! Look, your town is full of new growth. These twenty years, the Youth has been happy, following its heart; and the veterans are now going forth once again; the recruits are recruited into it as children [raised up for service]. It is the ancient past that fights for us;21 In the second half of the stanza the king affirms that royal success depends on previous achievements, and on the earlier generation of veterans (the them of the verse after the cue). These stanzas interweave futurity, the present, and the antique past into one continuum, to emphasize the responsibility of the new king, which is expressed in paramilitary terms. on my accession I raised up troops from them. 22 (P 60) So make your great ones great! Advance your [fight]ers! Increase the Youth of your following, equipped with amounts, established with fields, and endowed with cattle!

Do not treat a gentleman differently from a commoner!22 The king develops further the theme of human resources, and of cultivating allies regardless of their social status. There is a progression from the specific to the universal, moving from the treatment of subjects, through military protection, to an injunction about piety and temple procedure. Temple ritual was also a protective measure, since it enacted and maintained the stability of the cosmos. The unity of these actions, all of which will ensure security, is reinforced by the homophony of the words fortresses and monuments. The king should deal well both with his servants and with his divine superiors. Take a man to yourself for his actions, so that every work of craft will be done! The [territory] of the lord of strength will [prosper]. 23 (P 62) Protect your border! Marshall your fortresses! Troops are good for their lord. Make [many] monuments for God; this makes the name of him who does it live. A man should do what is good for his soul:23 The king was the universal protagonist of the temple cult. These verses refer to the practice whereby members of the élite served as temple priests in monthly shifts. Bread that was offered to the gods was afterwards distributed for the priests to eat. performing the monthly service, putting on white sandals, joining the temple estate, keeping confidential the mysteries, entering into the sanctuary, eating bread from the temple!

24 (P 65) Make the offering tables flourish, make the provisions great,24 This stanza continues the theme of cultic piety: earlier God was said to know the malcontent (17d), but here he acknowledges the virtuous. This affirmation of reciprocity in the seventh verse echoes the start of the preceding stanza (22f), where the king was urged to reward a man for his ‘actions’. Here the benefits of virtue extend geographically as well as through time by spreading royal power abroad (represented by numberless images of the king). This provides a transition to the following contrasting themes of barbarism, chaos, and conflict: the stanza ends with a description of the contrary of a vigilant and virtuous ruler. Enemies require continuous warding off, and are an eternal threat to Egypt. increase the daily offerings! It is a good thing for him who does it. Strengthen your monuments according to your power! A single day gives to eternity, an hour benefits the future. God knows the man who acts for Him; your images, of which they can make no compilation, will spread to a far foreign country. 25 (P 68) He who is unconcerned about the enemies’ affairs suffers. The enemy cannot be calm within Egypt.

The Youth will attack the Youth,25 The opening verse develops the preceding affirmation that the threat of disorder is always present and that neglect of this brings conflict between troops in Egypt (echoing 51). The king cites the authority of ancestors for this; although a specific prophecy or teaching may be alluded to, he probably refers to general knowledge that conflict is unavoidable. He now describes a historical event, a fault of his own—the references to himself increase in this passage—that is a specific instance of the laws of retribution and the need to act virtuously. A hallowed cemetery was destroyed during the conflict of his accession, and this misdeed was punished with divine retribution (answering the like with like). A mixture of future, present, and past tenses suggests the eternal relevance of the event. just as the ancestors foretold it. Egypt will fight in the necropolis, destroying tomb-chambers in a destruction of deeds. 26 (P 70) I did the like, and the like happened, as is done to someone who goes against God in this way. Do not deal badly with the southern region!26 An injunction to deal well with the south (the scene of his misdeed) leads to a description of past historical events. An ancestral prophecy is ominously alluded to once again to show the inevitability of the workings of retribution (happen and go echo the preceding verses 26a–b). They who said it are the royal ancestors of the Residence. You know what the Residence foretold about it. As such things happen, these happened. Those things could not go otherwise, even as they said it. I got to Thinis, opposite its southern border at Tawet.27 The town of Thinis is the capital of the 8th Upper Egyptian nome, near modern el-Girga, over 300 km south of Heracleopolis; nearby was the site of the most famous necropolis in Egypt (modern Abydos). Tawet (reading uncertain) is apparently a place south of Thinis, perhaps near modern Nag al-Tud. King Meribre was a predecessor of the teacher, whom he surpassed by gaining territory from the rival kingdom to the south. The taking of Thinis is recounted initially as if a positive achievement, as in a commemorative inscription, but the context is ominous. Like a cloudburst I seized it; King Meri[ib]re, the justified, had not done this. 27 (P 74) Be lenient about this to the governed!28 The king again urges leniency towards those who were overthrown in the southern kingdom (in contrast to the destruction done in his reign). The proverbial-sounding image of pure water, suggesting that responsibilities must be acknowledged, contrasts ominously with that of the violent ‘cloudburst’ of 26h (and is later developed as an expression of irresistible divine power (43g–i) ). The stanza ends with a verse (repeated from 12c) on the future benefits of virtue. Make them content with this! Renew the treaties! No pure water lets itself be concealed. It is good to act for the future.

28 (P 75) All is now well for you with the Southern Region,29 The king now describes the stability he has achieved and his virtuous generosity to his ancestors and dependants; it is part of his addressee's duty to maintain this status quo and build on his experience. This stanza continues the concern with the South, but in an unqualified, positive vein; the contrast between the positive reciprocity here and the retribution of the preceding stanza is pointed by the repetition of I did the like (from 26a). Granite was a product characteristic of the far south; this sign of prosperity inspires general reflections on building and relationships. He urges the new king to build fresh monuments rather than usurping or reusing material from his ancestors’ (this recalls the activities in the necropolis of 25e–f). This was a common practice, and graphically relevant to the themes of retribution and reciprocity: those who usurp monuments will have theirs usurped; the repetition of what is done expresses the acting out of retribution. Tura is a renowned limestone quarry on the east bank of the Nile, 12 km south of modern Cairo. which comes to you bearing produce, bearing tribute. I did the like for the ancestors. Someone had no grain, and I gave it to him. Be kind to those who yield to you, so that they are satisfied with your bread and your beer! 29 (P 77) To you comes granite unhindered. Destroy not the monuments of another; you should hew stone in Tura! Build not your tomb-chamber from ruins, for what is done will be what will be done! 30 (P 79) Look, the king 〈is〉 the lord of joy.30 In a concluding quatrain, the king assures his heir of his security (joy is homonymous with ‘largess’, and the epithet lord of joy is a standard royal one). Sleeping securely and following pleasures (cf. n. 20) are signs of well-being. The final verse, proclaiming the lack of any enemies (recalling 25b), assures the heir that the king has repressed disorder, both by his kindness and by his active policies. You should be lenient, and then you can sleep secure in your strength! Follow your heart, for this is what I have done: there is now no enemy in the midst of your borders.

31 (P 81) Then I arose, a lord of the city,31 This stanza continues to recount the king's achievements after his capture of Thinis, but turns from the south to the north and north-west. The extent of his rule increases through the stanza, from his city to a much larger harmonious region. Middle Kingdom hymns acclaim the king as ‘lord of his city’—as personal local rulers. The idiom heart grieved contrasts with the ‘following your heart’ that the king's efforts have guaranteed for his son (30c and n. 30). Hutshenu and Sembaq are unknown locations, probably delimiting the Delta or its western edge. Two-Fish Canal is in the Delta, west of Heliopolis, near modern Zat al-Kom. The sand dunes are perhaps the ridges around the Lake of the Fayyum, i.e. at the southern end of the western boundary. whose heart grieved because of the Delta, Hutshenu to Sembaq, with its southern border at Two-Fish Canal. I appeased the entire West— as far as the sand dunes of the Lake. It labours of itself and it produces cypress;32 In the second half of the stanza the king describes how he has ensured that these areas freely pay taxes, of whatever is seen; such tribute is a sign of the order that covers the north, west, and east. The Middle Islands are the islands or watery regions of the north, in the Delta or Mediterranean. The king now receives the acclamation of the provincial estates; this affirmation of centralized authority leads into the next stanza. whatever juniper can be seen, it produces for us. And the East is rich with the barbarians, and their labour-dues are [arriv]ing; the Middle Islands have turned back respectfully, and every man from amongst them; the temple estates are saying to me, “You are so great!”

32 (P 85) Look, the [land] which they had destroyed is made into nomes;33 The king presents his rule in the usual ideological terms, as a recovery from a chaotic interregnum, a refounding of what had been destroyed; local tyrants have now had their monopolies divided between a proper number (ten) of local governors. Such harmonious prosperity prevents malcontent (a keyword). every great town [is refounded]; what one man ruled now belongs to ten; officials are appointed, and granted labour-dues, with knowledge of every duty. There are freemen granted a plot, and they work for you like a single team. This means that there will be no malcontent among them.

33 (P 87) The Nileflood will not be sick for you, and fail to come;34 The king moves to the north-east and concentrates on the efforts needed to secure prosperity, described in the broad geographical terms of the Nileflood (for whose success the king is ideologically responsible). The post is literally a border marker, but also a metaphorical ‘mooring post’ by which the ship of state is securely landed; this image also has a funerary sense of securing an eternal landfall. Hebenu was the capital of the 16th Upper Egyptian nome (near modern Kom el-Ahmar); The Ways of Horus refers to the royal road leading eastward from Sile (modern Tell Abu Sefa) towards Palestine. The king claims to have defended the eastern border from the northern edge of Middle Egypt to the Delta. the labour-dues of the Delta belong to you. Look, the post which I have made in the East is driven in, from Hebenu to The Ways of Horus, founded with townspeople, full of people, of the choicest of the whole land, to beat back attacks on them. O to see a man strong enough to equal this,35 The account of the teacher's reign ends in a directly expressed wish—such as occurs in royal inscriptions—for an heir to equal him (that is, Merikare). The vile heir in the concluding curse leads into the next stanza, where the apogee of vileness is revealed as the ever-chaotic barbarian, the contrary of royal virtue. and increase what I have done! Down with a vile heir!

34 (P 91) But now, these things are said about the barbarian:36 The description of the Asiatic continues the theme of the east. He is a vile enemy in a vile land, and is the worst of its many hostile features. The Time of Horus (the royal god) was the period of primordial harmony when the gods ruled Egypt, a contrast with the Asiatics’ chaos. The king warns that the enemy is always present, and attacks unexpectedly, though he is ultimately disorderly and ineffectual. the vile Asiatic is the pain of the place where he is— lacking in water, difficult with many trees, whose roads are painful because of the mountains. He has never settled in any one place, lack of food making him wander away on foot! He has been fighting since the Time of Horus. He cannot prevail; he cannot be prevailed over. He does not announce the day of battle, like a thief whom a gang has rejected.

35 (P 94) But as I shall live, and shall be what I am,37 An oath opens a second stanza about barbarians, which provides a résumé of the king's struggle against enemies; this passage is similar to those found in commemorative inscriptions where the king recounts his victories, swearing that they are true. The king has made the Delta a force against the Easterners; their helplessness is described with the metaphor of a siege. The next metaphor reduces the Asiatic to a wild predatory non-human being. The town contrasts with the earlier image of an open—that is, ineffective—fortification, and represents organized society as proof against such chaotic forces. these barbarians were a walled fortress, whose fortifications were open, and which I had isolated! I have made the Delta strike them, have plundered their underlings, and taken away their cattle, to horrify the Asiatics who are against Egypt. Do not worry about him! The Asiatic is a crocodile on its riverbank that snatches from a lonely road but cannot take from the quay of a populous town.

36 (P 98) Secure Mednit to its di[strict]!38 This stanza returns to a didactic tone, and urges the new king to maintain and extend the eastern defences around Mednit, the 22nd Upper Egyptian nome, c.30 km north of Heracleopolis. Kemui (modern Tell Atrib) is the capital of the 10th Lower Egyptian nome, near the apex of the Delta, c.160 km north of Heracleopolis. To flood is a metaphor for possessing, as well as irrigating. Flood its side to Kemui! Look, it is the lifeline against the foreigners— its walls and fighters are many; the supporters in it know how to take up clubs, as well as the freemen within. The region of Djedsut totals ten thousand men,39 The protection of the kingdom's northern border results from maintaining the prosperity of the ancient city of Djedsut, which protects Heracleopolis (like a dyke) and secures access to the Delta (like a door). Djedsut is a name for Memphis, derived from the name of an Old Kingdom pyramid at nearby Saqqara. The Time of the Residence is the Old Kingdom, when Memphis was the royal Residence. commoners and freemen who are without labour duty. Officials have been in it since the Time of the Residence; the borders are fixed, its strongholds are mighty; many northerners irrigate it as far as the Delta, taxed in grain in the manner of freemen. 37 (P 103) For those who do this, this is the way to surpass me. Look, it is the door to the Delta— it has acted as a dyke for Heracleopolis.

Plentiful towns mean integrity.40 The king warns of the necessity of vigilance: the state's security is ensured by caution and virtue, and by towns that have been made prosperous. He then summarizes the injunctions about the north and the south, reflecting on the totality of his achievements, which is exemplified by the founding of settlements and shrines, including those dedicated to statues of the king (your image). He draws an abstract moral, and moves towards universal truths, citing ancestral authority: Khety is one of the earlier kings of the dynasty, perhaps its founder. His maxim asserts that there will be divine retribution against the enemy of piety: inaction is as bad as active sacrilege. Beware of being surrounded by supporters of the enemy! Wariness renews the years. 38 (P 106) Arm your border against the South— they are barbarians who take up the war belt! Build mansions in the Delta! A man's name will not be little, being what he has done. A well-founded town cannot be destroyed. Build a mansion for your image! The enemy loves grieving the heart, and vile deeds. 39 (P 109) King Khety, the justified, decreed as a teacher, “Someone silent against the savage is someone who destroys the offering tables. God will attack someone who rebels against the temples.” It will come upon him, even as he does it.41 Retribution emerges as the dominant theme as the king moves towards discussing his own fault in generalizing terms. Retribution will come upon man on that day when death arrives for him. Sated may be meant ironically, to suggest bad deeds rebounding on their doer. He will be sated with what he ordains to be snatched for himself; but no one loyal to him will be found, on that day of arrival. Enrich the offering tables! Respect God!42 The king urges virtue and persistence in virtue: the heart is here the conscience and will, the sense of the quoted speech being ‘I can't be bothered’. The speech echoes the earlier description of the enemy (38g), which is resumed in the next figurative couplet. The sense seems to be that rebellion is like trying to wreck heaven itself (which was earlier said to be a man's good nature (8d) ), but security (to be obtained by repressing rebellion) is like a lasting monument. A hundred years is the ideal lifetime as an adult, although the sage earlier advised against ‘trusting in length of years’ (19f). The following couplet warns of the inevitability of folly and enmity. (After this line all manuscripts have the verse ‘for love of his achievements’ being restored by another succeeding him’, an erroneous insertion from 41i). 40 (P 112)Do not say, “The heart's too vile”, and do not slacken your actions! Now, to make revolt against you is to destroy heaven. Security is a monument for a hundred years. If the enemy were wise, he would not destroy this; but no one is free from enemies. 41 (P 115) The 〈Lord〉 of the Two Banks is a sage;43 The king should be the opposite of such folly and enmity. Wisdom gives security, and the king must be wise to protect the Two Banks (Egypt); this quatrain allies him with god, who is alone all wise. The comparison with a million men is the language of royal eulogy, expressing the king's superhuman duty (earlier such men could not avail the king (13e) ). the King, the lord of courtiers, cannot be foolish. When he came out of the womb he had understanding, and God has set him apart before a million other men.

Kingship is a perfect office;44 The king now pronounces a generalizing eulogy of kingship. The unique perfection of kingship, however, makes it vulnerable: the lack of a son is striking in the context of the Teaching, in which the king is addressing his son. The endurance of kingship implicitly involves respect for individual solidarity (as witnessed in the maintenance of monuments (cf. n. 29) ). This is the other side of the retribution that was described earlier. From the mention of this reciprocity, the king moves to evoke in the rest of the stanza the misdeed that brought retribution on him. it has no son, it has no brother, who can make its monuments endure: it is one individual who restores another's. A man should act for his predecessor for love of his achievements’ being restored by another succeeding him. 42 (P 119) Look, a vile deed happened in my time:45 The area of Abydos in the nome of Thinis was particularly sacred, and the king's misdeed was to desecrate others’ monuments (see n. 27). His vile deed is described explicitly here for the first time; the word vile associates it with the preceding descriptions of barbarism. The stanza moves from the perfection of kingship to the fact that this individual king was fallible. The king accepts his responsibility, even though he was unaware of the sacrilege: he should, however, have been a sage (41a–b and n. 43), not unaware of what was being done. The couplet on the vanity of repenting and of trying to restore a misdeed echoes the earlier imagery of unavoidable reciprocity (29a–e). The final verses assert reciprocity in broad abstract terms. the nome of Thinis was destroyed. It happened, but not as my action, and I knew of it only after it was done. See my shortcoming, which is pre-eminent in what I did. Now, destruction is vile. It is no good for a man to refurbish what he has wrecked, to restore what he has defaced—beware of it! With its like is a blow repaid: all that is done is bound together.

43 (P 123) Generation passes generation of mankind,46 This stanza has a wide chronological sweep, encompassing all generations of mortal men; this develops the specific historical events of the preceding stanza into more generalizing pronouncements. Men are transient and fallible, whereas god is absolute in his knowledge of men. His hidden quality alludes to the myth of the ‘sundered world’, according to which the creator-god, angered at mankind's rebellion against him, slaughtered them and then withdrew from earth and from mankind, separating heaven and earth. The Lord of the Hand is the creator-god: the epithet alludes to his creation of the cosmos by masturbating—a relevant epithet in that the creator was unique and alone, like the king; it also refers to his active force in general. while God, who knows their character, has hidden Himself. Yet there can be no resisting the Lord of the Hand: He can attack whatever eyes can see. Respect should be shown to God on His path,47 Despite the sundered world, divine power is still manifest on earth in temple images. The injunction refers to the processions of god's image (on His path; this is also an allusion to the path of wisdom, ‘the way of God’). Divine power is as irrepressible as a flood: like water it is concealed but has power to burst forth. Flood repaid with a flood is an expression for the swiftness of flowing water, but it also alludes to reciprocity and repaying like with like. made of jewels, fashioned from copper, like a flood repaid with a flood: no river lets itself be concealed, but it opens the dyke in which it hid. 44 (P 127) The soul also goes back to the place it knows;48 Reciprocity is as unalterable as the nature of god, and is exemplified, as earlier (18e–g), by the case of the souls of the dead who are bound by it, and who enact retribution. The theme of the dead continues an injunction to funerary piety in preparation for eternal judgement. Make good your place (i.e. tomb) is a phrase from The Teaching of Hordedef (see p. 292). The king stresses that true monuments are achieved by virtue and not by material wealth; the piety of the poor is expressed with wordplay: the character of the virtuous is homophonous with ‘the loaf’—a humble offering in contrast to an ox. it cannot stray from its ways of yesterday. Make good your place of the West, furnish your mansion of the necropolis, with rightness, with doing Truth—this is what Their hearts rely upon! The character of the righteous-hearted is more acceptable than the ox of the evil-doer. 45 (P 129) Act for God, and He will do the like for you, —with great offerings for a flourishing altar, with inscriptions! This is a guidance for your renown: God is aware of the man who acts for Him.49 This stanza about reciprocity concludes with an affirmation of god's wisdom. Earlier god was said to know the malcontent (17d), the virtuous (24g), and humanity (43b); here his power is articulated positively, and the next stanza hymns His benevolence to the world.

46 (P 130) Mankind is cared for—the flock of God.50 A calm stanza now describes god as the shepherd of mankind, the ideal that the king must imitate. Humanity is at the centre of the created cosmos (for their sakes is literally ‘for their hearts’). The passage recalls a Twelfth Dynasty funerary text, in which the creator describes his creation as comprising ‘four good deeds’, and in which the ways of god are justified (see pp. 150–1). Divine creation is presented as a process of restraint, just as a king's harsh rule must be. The creation of heaven and earth alludes to the ‘sundered world’ (see n. 46). The rapacity of the waters may be a monstrous personification of the chaotic nature of the primeval waters from which creation arose. For their sakes He made heaven and earth, and drove away the rapacity of the waters. So that their nostrils should live He made the winds. They are images of Him, come forth from His flesh.51 In a funerary text (see n. 50) humanity is said to have come forth from the creator's ‘tears’; ‘mankind’ and ‘tears’ are homophones, and the wordplay articulates the imperfection and sorrowful nature of man, which is alluded to in the next stanza (47d). For their sakes He rises in heaven. For them He made plants and flocks, fowl and fish to feed them. He has killed His enemies and He has destroyed His children52 The concluding couplets allude to the mythical rebellion of mankind (see n. 46). God's slaughter of the rebels is a precedent both for the action of the king against his subjects and for the action of god against the king. The retribution that befell the king is now a sign of god's care for his children, not of his anger. for thinking to make rebellion.

47 (P 132) For their sake He shines.53 This stanza continues the eulogy of the creator, concentrating on the maintenance of the cosmos, rather than its establishment. The Sungod sails across heaven in the sunbarque as part of the daily renewal of cosmic order. Egyptian shrines were figurative recreations of the cosmos: the whole created world is a dwelling place for the numinous, in which mankind can appeal to god. For mankind's weeping, see n. 51. To see them He sails. He has raised for Himself a shrine around them. They weep and He is listening. He has made for them rulers from birth,54 Rulership is an institution of the creator to maintain his order; this justifies the actions of the king to suppress dissent, despite his fallibility. Magic is another gift from god: it is a positive religious force, used by the state, and one originally used by god in creation. With magic and kingship the creator provides for mankind's adversity. commanders to sustain the back of the weak. He has made for them magic, as a weapon to resist the events that happen, watching over them, both night and day. He has killed the malcontents amongst them,55 Both of the eulogistic stanzas end with a reference to mankind's rebellion (see n. 52). His killing of rebellious mankind is presented as a paradoxically caring action, to protect the loyal members of the family of mankind; violence and strife—a recurrent theme—are here evidence of god's absolute knowledge—another recurrent theme—and of his care and control of every individual. The final verse provides a climax to the description of god's intimate care. like a man striking his son for the sake of his brother. God knows every name.

48 (P 138) May you do no ill 〈against〉 my pronouncement,56 The final stanza provides a coda to the whole poem and returns to the specific setting of teacher and pupil. It is linked to the preceding eulogy by a mention of kingship (and by an echo of 47f: sustain). The phrase may you reach me implies that the old king has reached the goal which the new king should aspire to—i.e. he is either deceased (as in The Teaching of Amenemhat) or at the end of his life; he urges his son to end his life without any reproaches. which gives all the laws about the kingship, which instructs you how to sustain men! So may you reach me, without anyone accusing you. 49 (P 139) Do not kill a single man who is close to you,57 The injunctions to avoid reproaches are further developed, providing a summary of the motifs of restraining slaughter and of wisdom. Human fallibility both makes the exercise of power necessary and makes discretion and caution essential in exercising it. The king turns to positive topics, however, as the warning against executing courtiers is transformed into a statement about their future felicity as Gods (i.e. the blessed dead): loyal mankind is here well tended by the king, and the whole land is united in love of him. for you have favoured him, and God knows him! He is one of those who should flourish upon earth. The followers of the king are Gods. Place love of you in the whole land. A good character is memory, when the years have passed. You are to be called the Destroyer of the Time of Ill58 The teacher assures the new king of the benefits that his wisdom will bring. The House of Khety is the Heracleopolitan Dynasty, and the Time is the preceding troubled period, including the old king's reign. At the end of the poem the king and his heir are placed in their specific historical context, viewed and judged from the future. A final injunction to benefit from experience concludes the work; the text and the country are both set down, or established, for the new king. 50 (P 143) by those who are posterity in the House of Khety, with the prayer “May he come again today!” Look, I have told you the virtue of my generation. May you act by what is set down for you!’

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

Notes:

1. The opening is very fragmentary. The name of the teacher is uncertain. Khety is the dynastic name of the Heracleopolitan kings, but it is uncertain which one is meant here (see Introduction, p. 212); the lacuna may have included the teacher's throne name.

2. The first stanza concerns the restraint of rebellion, a theme that is developed in the following six stanzas describing the proper responses to various types of citizen. This topic is almost entirely absent from official inscriptions.

3. The second stanza advocates the power of the spoken word in responding to opposition. The opening verse can perhaps be restored ‘[If you encounter a city whose … are]’. For the Youth, see n. 7. The final verses concern reprisals against a particular type of rebel described by the stanza; the future king is urged to kill both the leader and his allies.

4. The king now urges caution in punishing a powerful man; the whole Teaching has a strong pragmatic streak, and he advises that different circumstances demand different responses. The 100,000s are numerous underlings; the Great Mansions are the central law courts.

5. This stanza turns to a commendable type of subordinate (wordplay links this stanza with the last: take care and guard are homonyms). The final verses affirm that if such a mighty man is in charge of people who conspire, a king should not punish him as part of his reprisals; then everyone will acclaim the royal benevolence.

6. The king next urges merciless punishment for a man who has acquired influence and goods only in order to stir up dissent. A forceful series of commands embraces his present power, his heritage, his future repute (name), and his survival in the next life (memory). The practice of damnatio memoriae is widely visible on monuments. One manuscript inserts a verse at the start of this stanza: ‘May you [punish an agitator] like God’.

7. The king turns to a more lowly townsman, who ignores royal authority and is a rabble-rouser. The echoes of the vocabulary of the preceding stanza suggest his similarity to the other rebel, despite the difference in their status. The Youth is paramilitary companies. The concluding verse advises a king to punish the rebel but not his dependants, who were forced to follow him by their poverty (inherited from their father).

8. This stanza is more reflective and concerns a yet more lowly man, who nevertheless can make trouble for an entire army. Disturbance among the poor leads to their being sent to the Workhouse, the office of forced labour. The king warns against being harsh towards the lowly, and urges that one should punish only in proportion to the provocation. Such justice is good nature and brings bliss and security (heaven); to do otherwise causes the punisher to suffer.

9. The king moves from specific opponents to more general injunctions about wisdom. Wise speech is a way of avoiding rebellion, rather than punishing after the event; describing speech as strength brings out the contrast with the acts of strength described previously. As the king turns to positive commands, more metaphorical and less aggressive images follow. Words are also the means of acquiring virtue, and are the only refuge in a tumultuous society. After listing various types of rebel, the Teaching now describes the single value of Truth.

10. This stanza develops the previous one's preoccupation with wisdom as the ideal of the ancestral past; wisdom endures in writings, and the stanza considers how royal virtue and achievements can be made to endure through wisdom and patience (a central social virtue). The verse about an educated man implies that one has to be skilled to benefit from teaching.

11. After a central verse urging patience, the second half of the stanza advises a king to plan enduring defensive action. The king's forces should be well rewarded, so that they will be grateful. After a passage on emulating established virtue, the future is cited as a reason for virtue. This stanza moves from the present act of reading writings, through the enduring monuments of the reign, to a king's future reputation. The next stanza continues this movement into eternity, and describes how enduring renown is gained by ensuring that social prosperity is continued.

12. The king now warns against blindly trusting in the terrestrial future and ignoring the responsibilities of authority. This stanza develops the contrast between good nature and the selfish use of power, which is vile (a keyword) and will bring no renown. Virtue is the only stability—acquiring property (even as much as the whole land) is useless. Without wisdom, human plenitude (a million men) is of no use to a king (the Lord of the Two Lands); this verse ironically evokes official statements that the king is worth more than a million men (cf. n. 43). Virtue and renown are presented sub specie aeternitatis, and in the light of the otherworldly judgement of God. The stanza progresses from concern with the future and life upon earth to all eternity, which is the lifetime of the virtuous man; for him, death (departure) is a painless transition to a more perfect state. (The Creator is literally ‘He who created Her, i.e. Truth’).

13. Another stanza on officials, which returns—like the start of the preceding one—to specific and practical considerations in enacting eternal principles. The following verses, however, imply that the pragmatism of this advice is not materialistic: to be wealthy enough to be impartial does not require great wealth, only no want.

14. The second half of the stanza develops the argument of the first, as the king affirms the unity of the élite with wordplay on great. This is then explicated: the king's security depends not on acquiring personal wealth, but on the well-being of his entourage—if members of it are great, he will be truly great. Thus generosity is true wealth. His greatness is his ability and responsibility to articulate and enact Truth, as the poor cannot.

15. A concluding quatrain develops the idea of the king's spreading Truth, as a means of power. Public behaviour will earn respect for an individual.

16. The king now moves gradually from these reflections on wealth to consider the virtue of consideration for society's oppressed. This is integral to order and Truth; the reflections on the widow echo claims to virtue in funerary inscriptions. This stanza moves from the specific and this-worldly to the otherworldly and absolute, returning to the theme of endurance (from 13c–h).

17. After warnings against harsh measures, the king now advises how to protect the land with limited reprisals—with imprisonment rather than with execution (smiting). Almost in an aside, the theme of rebellion reappears, but here God is the absolute avenger of any wrong; thus the king (his deputy) should be lenient. Caution and mercy are urged, as part of a general movement towards admitting royal fallibility.

18. The king warns against action towards an acquaintance who was educated with the royal children (an actual practice with the children of the provincial élite). The Place of Secrets is an area of restricted access, the private apartments of the palace; it can also refer to a temple, moving the subject into the next world, as in the following verses. (Free-striding is also used later of the blessed dead (20g) ). The soul represents the dead, who can avenge themselves on the living, as agents of retribution, and who can overpower any magic used by the living to defend themselves. Water was offered to the dead, by a living intercessor claiming justice. Reciprocity and retribution continue beyond the grave.

19. This court no longer consists of earthly ‘officials’ (as in 14a–g), but of otherworldly judges who are absolutely impartial; eternal judgement is infallible, unlike royal vengeance, and being someone absolutely wise is an attribute of God (as in the preceding stanza). They are the accusing Gods who judge the heap of a man's riches and achievements (heap is homonymous with lifetime, as are deeds and remain). There is the otherworld, where the virtuous are rewarded, in contrast to this world, which is a mere hour. The concluding verses contrast the fates of the unvirtuous and virtuous man (the epithet free-striding echoes 18d). Although the description of judgement is couched in generalized terms, the context makes it clear that the king himself will also be judged by absolute standards.

20. This stanza returns to the here and now and the effects of the last twenty years rather than future eternity. The king urges care for the human resources that can defend the realm; he has ensured that the Youth (see n. 7) is happy to perform its military service; the phrase following the heart can imply an ethical following of one's conscience as well as enjoyment.

21. In the second half of the stanza the king affirms that royal success depends on previous achievements, and on the earlier generation of veterans (the them of the verse after the cue). These stanzas interweave futurity, the present, and the antique past into one continuum, to emphasize the responsibility of the new king, which is expressed in paramilitary terms.

22. The king develops further the theme of human resources, and of cultivating allies regardless of their social status. There is a progression from the specific to the universal, moving from the treatment of subjects, through military protection, to an injunction about piety and temple procedure. Temple ritual was also a protective measure, since it enacted and maintained the stability of the cosmos. The unity of these actions, all of which will ensure security, is reinforced by the homophony of the words fortresses and monuments. The king should deal well both with his servants and with his divine superiors.

23. The king was the universal protagonist of the temple cult. These verses refer to the practice whereby members of the élite served as temple priests in monthly shifts. Bread that was offered to the gods was afterwards distributed for the priests to eat.

24. This stanza continues the theme of cultic piety: earlier God was said to know the malcontent (17d), but here he acknowledges the virtuous. This affirmation of reciprocity in the seventh verse echoes the start of the preceding stanza (22f), where the king was urged to reward a man for his ‘actions’. Here the benefits of virtue extend geographically as well as through time by spreading royal power abroad (represented by numberless images of the king). This provides a transition to the following contrasting themes of barbarism, chaos, and conflict: the stanza ends with a description of the contrary of a vigilant and virtuous ruler. Enemies require continuous warding off, and are an eternal threat to Egypt.

25. The opening verse develops the preceding affirmation that the threat of disorder is always present and that neglect of this brings conflict between troops in Egypt (echoing 51). The king cites the authority of ancestors for this; although a specific prophecy or teaching may be alluded to, he probably refers to general knowledge that conflict is unavoidable. He now describes a historical event, a fault of his own—the references to himself increase in this passage—that is a specific instance of the laws of retribution and the need to act virtuously. A hallowed cemetery was destroyed during the conflict of his accession, and this misdeed was punished with divine retribution (answering the like with like). A mixture of future, present, and past tenses suggests the eternal relevance of the event.

26. An injunction to deal well with the south (the scene of his misdeed) leads to a description of past historical events. An ancestral prophecy is ominously alluded to once again to show the inevitability of the workings of retribution (happen and go echo the preceding verses 26a–b). They who said it are the royal ancestors of the Residence.

27. The town of Thinis is the capital of the 8th Upper Egyptian nome, near modern el-Girga, over 300 km south of Heracleopolis; nearby was the site of the most famous necropolis in Egypt (modern Abydos). Tawet (reading uncertain) is apparently a place south of Thinis, perhaps near modern Nag al-Tud. King Meribre was a predecessor of the teacher, whom he surpassed by gaining territory from the rival kingdom to the south. The taking of Thinis is recounted initially as if a positive achievement, as in a commemorative inscription, but the context is ominous.

28. The king again urges leniency towards those who were overthrown in the southern kingdom (in contrast to the destruction done in his reign). The proverbial-sounding image of pure water, suggesting that responsibilities must be acknowledged, contrasts ominously with that of the violent ‘cloudburst’ of 26h (and is later developed as an expression of irresistible divine power (43g–i) ). The stanza ends with a verse (repeated from 12c) on the future benefits of virtue.

29. The king now describes the stability he has achieved and his virtuous generosity to his ancestors and dependants; it is part of his addressee's duty to maintain this status quo and build on his experience. This stanza continues the concern with the South, but in an unqualified, positive vein; the contrast between the positive reciprocity here and the retribution of the preceding stanza is pointed by the repetition of I did the like (from 26a). Granite was a product characteristic of the far south; this sign of prosperity inspires general reflections on building and relationships. He urges the new king to build fresh monuments rather than usurping or reusing material from his ancestors’ (this recalls the activities in the necropolis of 25e–f). This was a common practice, and graphically relevant to the themes of retribution and reciprocity: those who usurp monuments will have theirs usurped; the repetition of what is done expresses the acting out of retribution. Tura is a renowned limestone quarry on the east bank of the Nile, 12 km south of modern Cairo.

30. In a concluding quatrain, the king assures his heir of his security (joy is homonymous with ‘largess’, and the epithet lord of joy is a standard royal one). Sleeping securely and following pleasures (cf. n. 20) are signs of well-being. The final verse, proclaiming the lack of any enemies (recalling 25b), assures the heir that the king has repressed disorder, both by his kindness and by his active policies.

31. This stanza continues to recount the king's achievements after his capture of Thinis, but turns from the south to the north and north-west. The extent of his rule increases through the stanza, from his city to a much larger harmonious region. Middle Kingdom hymns acclaim the king as ‘lord of his city’—as personal local rulers. The idiom heart grieved contrasts with the ‘following your heart’ that the king's efforts have guaranteed for his son (30c and n. 30). Hutshenu and Sembaq are unknown locations, probably delimiting the Delta or its western edge. Two-Fish Canal is in the Delta, west of Heliopolis, near modern Zat al-Kom. The sand dunes are perhaps the ridges around the Lake of the Fayyum, i.e. at the southern end of the western boundary.

32. In the second half of the stanza the king describes how he has ensured that these areas freely pay taxes, of whatever is seen; such tribute is a sign of the order that covers the north, west, and east. The Middle Islands are the islands or watery regions of the north, in the Delta or Mediterranean. The king now receives the acclamation of the provincial estates; this affirmation of centralized authority leads into the next stanza.

33. The king presents his rule in the usual ideological terms, as a recovery from a chaotic interregnum, a refounding of what had been destroyed; local tyrants have now had their monopolies divided between a proper number (ten) of local governors. Such harmonious prosperity prevents malcontent (a keyword).

34. The king moves to the north-east and concentrates on the efforts needed to secure prosperity, described in the broad geographical terms of the Nileflood (for whose success the king is ideologically responsible). The post is literally a border marker, but also a metaphorical ‘mooring post’ by which the ship of state is securely landed; this image also has a funerary sense of securing an eternal landfall. Hebenu was the capital of the 16th Upper Egyptian nome (near modern Kom el-Ahmar); The Ways of Horus refers to the royal road leading eastward from Sile (modern Tell Abu Sefa) towards Palestine. The king claims to have defended the eastern border from the northern edge of Middle Egypt to the Delta.

35. The account of the teacher's reign ends in a directly expressed wish—such as occurs in royal inscriptions—for an heir to equal him (that is, Merikare). The vile heir in the concluding curse leads into the next stanza, where the apogee of vileness is revealed as the ever-chaotic barbarian, the contrary of royal virtue.

36. The description of the Asiatic continues the theme of the east. He is a vile enemy in a vile land, and is the worst of its many hostile features. The Time of Horus (the royal god) was the period of primordial harmony when the gods ruled Egypt, a contrast with the Asiatics’ chaos. The king warns that the enemy is always present, and attacks unexpectedly, though he is ultimately disorderly and ineffectual.

37. An oath opens a second stanza about barbarians, which provides a résumé of the king's struggle against enemies; this passage is similar to those found in commemorative inscriptions where the king recounts his victories, swearing that they are true. The king has made the Delta a force against the Easterners; their helplessness is described with the metaphor of a siege. The next metaphor reduces the Asiatic to a wild predatory non-human being. The town contrasts with the earlier image of an open—that is, ineffective—fortification, and represents organized society as proof against such chaotic forces.

38. This stanza returns to a didactic tone, and urges the new king to maintain and extend the eastern defences around Mednit, the 22nd Upper Egyptian nome, c.30 km north of Heracleopolis. Kemui (modern Tell Atrib) is the capital of the 10th Lower Egyptian nome, near the apex of the Delta, c.160 km north of Heracleopolis. To flood is a metaphor for possessing, as well as irrigating.

39. The protection of the kingdom's northern border results from maintaining the prosperity of the ancient city of Djedsut, which protects Heracleopolis (like a dyke) and secures access to the Delta (like a door). Djedsut is a name for Memphis, derived from the name of an Old Kingdom pyramid at nearby Saqqara. The Time of the Residence is the Old Kingdom, when Memphis was the royal Residence.

40. The king warns of the necessity of vigilance: the state's security is ensured by caution and virtue, and by towns that have been made prosperous. He then summarizes the injunctions about the north and the south, reflecting on the totality of his achievements, which is exemplified by the founding of settlements and shrines, including those dedicated to statues of the king (your image). He draws an abstract moral, and moves towards universal truths, citing ancestral authority: Khety is one of the earlier kings of the dynasty, perhaps its founder. His maxim asserts that there will be divine retribution against the enemy of piety: inaction is as bad as active sacrilege.

41. Retribution emerges as the dominant theme as the king moves towards discussing his own fault in generalizing terms. Retribution will come upon man on that day when death arrives for him. Sated may be meant ironically, to suggest bad deeds rebounding on their doer.

42. The king urges virtue and persistence in virtue: the heart is here the conscience and will, the sense of the quoted speech being ‘I can't be bothered’. The speech echoes the earlier description of the enemy (38g), which is resumed in the next figurative couplet. The sense seems to be that rebellion is like trying to wreck heaven itself (which was earlier said to be a man's good nature (8d) ), but security (to be obtained by repressing rebellion) is like a lasting monument. A hundred years is the ideal lifetime as an adult, although the sage earlier advised against ‘trusting in length of years’ (19f). The following couplet warns of the inevitability of folly and enmity. (After this line all manuscripts have the verse ‘for love of his achievements’ being restored by another succeeding him’, an erroneous insertion from 41i).

43. The king should be the opposite of such folly and enmity. Wisdom gives security, and the king must be wise to protect the Two Banks (Egypt); this quatrain allies him with god, who is alone all wise. The comparison with a million men is the language of royal eulogy, expressing the king's superhuman duty (earlier such men could not avail the king (13e) ).

44. The king now pronounces a generalizing eulogy of kingship. The unique perfection of kingship, however, makes it vulnerable: the lack of a son is striking in the context of the Teaching, in which the king is addressing his son. The endurance of kingship implicitly involves respect for individual solidarity (as witnessed in the maintenance of monuments (cf. n. 29) ). This is the other side of the retribution that was described earlier. From the mention of this reciprocity, the king moves to evoke in the rest of the stanza the misdeed that brought retribution on him.

45. The area of Abydos in the nome of Thinis was particularly sacred, and the king's misdeed was to desecrate others’ monuments (see n. 27). His vile deed is described explicitly here for the first time; the word vile associates it with the preceding descriptions of barbarism. The stanza moves from the perfection of kingship to the fact that this individual king was fallible. The king accepts his responsibility, even though he was unaware of the sacrilege: he should, however, have been a sage (41a–b and n. 43), not unaware of what was being done. The couplet on the vanity of repenting and of trying to restore a misdeed echoes the earlier imagery of unavoidable reciprocity (29a–e). The final verses assert reciprocity in broad abstract terms.

46. This stanza has a wide chronological sweep, encompassing all generations of mortal men; this develops the specific historical events of the preceding stanza into more generalizing pronouncements. Men are transient and fallible, whereas god is absolute in his knowledge of men. His hidden quality alludes to the myth of the ‘sundered world’, according to which the creator-god, angered at mankind's rebellion against him, slaughtered them and then withdrew from earth and from mankind, separating heaven and earth. The Lord of the Hand is the creator-god: the epithet alludes to his creation of the cosmos by masturbating—a relevant epithet in that the creator was unique and alone, like the king; it also refers to his active force in general.

47. Despite the sundered world, divine power is still manifest on earth in temple images. The injunction refers to the processions of god's image (on His path; this is also an allusion to the path of wisdom, ‘the way of God’). Divine power is as irrepressible as a flood: like water it is concealed but has power to burst forth. Flood repaid with a flood is an expression for the swiftness of flowing water, but it also alludes to reciprocity and repaying like with like.

48. Reciprocity is as unalterable as the nature of god, and is exemplified, as earlier (18e–g), by the case of the souls of the dead who are bound by it, and who enact retribution. The theme of the dead continues an injunction to funerary piety in preparation for eternal judgement. Make good your place (i.e. tomb) is a phrase from The Teaching of Hordedef (see p. 292). The king stresses that true monuments are achieved by virtue and not by material wealth; the piety of the poor is expressed with wordplay: the character of the virtuous is homophonous with ‘the loaf’—a humble offering in contrast to an ox.

49. This stanza about reciprocity concludes with an affirmation of god's wisdom. Earlier god was said to know the malcontent (17d), the virtuous (24g), and humanity (43b); here his power is articulated positively, and the next stanza hymns His benevolence to the world.

50. A calm stanza now describes god as the shepherd of mankind, the ideal that the king must imitate. Humanity is at the centre of the created cosmos (for their sakes is literally ‘for their hearts’). The passage recalls a Twelfth Dynasty funerary text, in which the creator describes his creation as comprising ‘four good deeds’, and in which the ways of god are justified (see pp. 150–1). Divine creation is presented as a process of restraint, just as a king's harsh rule must be. The creation of heaven and earth alludes to the ‘sundered world’ (see n. 46). The rapacity of the waters may be a monstrous personification of the chaotic nature of the primeval waters from which creation arose.

51. In a funerary text (see n. 50) humanity is said to have come forth from the creator's ‘tears’; ‘mankind’ and ‘tears’ are homophones, and the wordplay articulates the imperfection and sorrowful nature of man, which is alluded to in the next stanza (47d).

52. The concluding couplets allude to the mythical rebellion of mankind (see n. 46). God's slaughter of the rebels is a precedent both for the action of the king against his subjects and for the action of god against the king. The retribution that befell the king is now a sign of god's care for his children, not of his anger.

53. This stanza continues the eulogy of the creator, concentrating on the maintenance of the cosmos, rather than its establishment. The Sungod sails across heaven in the sunbarque as part of the daily renewal of cosmic order. Egyptian shrines were figurative recreations of the cosmos: the whole created world is a dwelling place for the numinous, in which mankind can appeal to god. For mankind's weeping, see n. 51.

54. Rulership is an institution of the creator to maintain his order; this justifies the actions of the king to suppress dissent, despite his fallibility. Magic is another gift from god: it is a positive religious force, used by the state, and one originally used by god in creation. With magic and kingship the creator provides for mankind's adversity.

55. Both of the eulogistic stanzas end with a reference to mankind's rebellion (see n. 52). His killing of rebellious mankind is presented as a paradoxically caring action, to protect the loyal members of the family of mankind; violence and strife—a recurrent theme—are here evidence of god's absolute knowledge—another recurrent theme—and of his care and control of every individual. The final verse provides a climax to the description of god's intimate care.

56. The final stanza provides a coda to the whole poem and returns to the specific setting of teacher and pupil. It is linked to the preceding eulogy by a mention of kingship (and by an echo of 47f: sustain). The phrase may you reach me implies that the old king has reached the goal which the new king should aspire to—i.e. he is either deceased (as in The Teaching of Amenemhat) or at the end of his life; he urges his son to end his life without any reproaches.

57. The injunctions to avoid reproaches are further developed, providing a summary of the motifs of restraining slaughter and of wisdom. Human fallibility both makes the exercise of power necessary and makes discretion and caution essential in exercising it. The king turns to positive topics, however, as the warning against executing courtiers is transformed into a statement about their future felicity as Gods (i.e. the blessed dead): loyal mankind is here well tended by the king, and the whole land is united in love of him.

58. The teacher assures the new king of the benefits that his wisdom will bring. The House of Khety is the Heracleopolitan Dynasty, and the Time is the preceding troubled period, including the old king's reign. At the end of the poem the king and his heir are placed in their specific historical context, viewed and judged from the future. A final injunction to benefit from experience concludes the work; the text and the country are both set down, or established, for the new king.

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