Tale of Two Brothers

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Tale of Two Brothers
Anonymous, translated by [[Author:Anonymous|Anonymous]]
This story was written during the reign of Pharaoh Seti II (1209-1205 B.C.) of the nineteenth Egyptian dynasty, and may have been a political satire based in part on his own difficulties with his half brother, the usurper Amenmesse. It is similar to the story of Joseph in the house of Potiphar, in Genesis 39:1-20.

Excerpted from Tale of Two Brothers on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Tale of Two Brothers - Anpu and Bata[edit]

Once, there were two brothers. Anpu was the name of the elder and Bata was was the name of the younger. When their parents died, Anpu was already married and had a house of his own, but his little brother was to him, as it were, a son; so he took his little brother to live with him. When the little brother grew into a young man, he was an excellent worker. He it was who made for him his clothes; he it was who followed behind his oxen to the fields; he it was who did the plowing; he it was who harvested the corn; he it was who did for him all the matters which were in the field. There was not an equal in the land. Behold the spirit of a god was with him.

Every morning, the younger brother followed his oxen and worked all day in the fields and every evening he returned to the house with vegetables, milk, and wood. And he put them down before his elder brother who was sitting with his wife; and he drank and ate, and after he lay down in his stable with the cattle. And at the dawn of the next day he took bread which he had baked, and laid it before his elder brother; and he took with him his bread to the field, and he drave his cattle to pasture in the fields.

And as he walked behind his cattle, they said to him, "Good is the herbage which is in that place"; and he listened to all that they said, and he took them to the good place which they desired. And the cattle which were before him became exceedingly excellent, and they greatly multiplied in number.

Now at the time of plowing his elder brother said to him, "Let ourselves make a good yoke of oxen ready for plowing, for the land has come out from the water; it is ready for plowing. Furthermore, come to the field with corn, and we will begin the plowing tomorrow morning." this the elder brother said; and his younger brother did all things as his elder brother had told him to do.

And when the morning came, they went to the fields with all of their things; and their hearts were greatly pleased with their tasks they had to do for the beginning of their daily work.

After this, as they were in the field, they stopped for corn, and the elder brother sent his younger brother, saying, "Hurry, bring us the corn from the for planting.

And the younger brother returned home to find the wife of his elder brother, as she was sitting brushing her hair. He said to her, "Get up, and give me corn, so that I may run back to the field, for my elder brother is in a hurry, to not delay. She said to him, "Go open the bin, and take as much as you wish, so that I may not let my braids of hair fall while I am brushing them."

The youth went into the stable; carrying a large measure, for he wished to take much corn; he loaded the measure with wheat and barley; and he left carrying it on his shoulders. She said to him, "How much of the corn that is wanted, is that which is on thy shoulder ?" He replied to her, "Three bushels of barley, and two of wheat, in all five; these are what I carry upon my shoulders". And she seductively spoke with him, saying, "There is great strength in you, for I see your strength every day." And her heart knew him with the knowledge of the passion of youth. And she arose and came close to him, and spoke with him, saying, "Come, stay and play with me, and it shall be well for you, and I will make beautiful clothes for you."

Then the youth became like a panther of the south with fury at the seductive evil of her words to him; and she greatly feared for the consequences. And then he spoke angrily to her, saying, "Look, you are like a mother to me, your husband is like a father to me, for he who is older than I has raised me. What is this wickedness that you have said to me? Never say it to me again. But, meanwhile, I won't tell anyone of it, for I will not let it be said by the mouth of any man" He lifted up his burden, and he went to the field and came to his elder brother; and they took up their work, to labour together at their task.

Rebuked, and because Anpu loved his brother very much, his wife became jealous and wanted to destroy Bata.

Now afterward, at evening, his elder brother was returning to his house; and the younger brother was following behind with his oxen, loading himself with all the things of the field, Driving the oxen before him, he took them to lie down in their stable which was in the farm.

Meanwhile the wife of the elder brother was afraid of what she had said. So she took a parcel of fat, and used it to make it look as though she was one who is evilly beaten, intending to say to her husband, "It is your younger brother who has done this wrong." Her husband returned in the evening as was his normally did each day: and as he came into his house, he found his wife ill from the violence: she did not give him water to wash his hands as she normally did, she did not make a light for him, and his house was in darkness, as she was lying down seemingly very sick.

Her husband said to her, "Who has done this to you?" She said, "No one has spoken with me today except your younger brother. When he came to take the corn for you he found me sitting alone; he said to me, 'Come, let us stay and play together, tie up your hair': This he said to me. I did not listen to him, but I said to him: 'Look, am I not your mother, is not your elder brother like a father to you?' And he was afraid, and he beat me to stop me from telling you, and if you should let him live I shall die. Now look, he is coming in the evening; and I complain of these wicked words, for he did this even in the daylight."

And now the elder brother became like a panther in the south; he sharpened his knife; he took it in his hand; he stood behind the door of the stable to kill his younger brother as he came in the evening to return his cattle to the stable.

Now the sun went down, and he loaded himself with vegetables in his usual manner. He came in, and the first cow entered the stable, and she said to her keeper, "Look your elder brother is standing in the dark before you with his knife to kill you; run from him." He heard what his first cow had said and didn't enter. The next entering, the cow said it again. He looked beneath the door of the stable; he saw the feet of his elder brother as he was standing behind the door, with his knife in his hand. He threw down his load to the ground, and fled swiftly as his elder brother chased after him with his knife.

The the younger brother cried out to Ra Harakhti (the Sun-god), saying, "My good lord! you are the one who divides the evil from the good." And Ra, the sun, about to rise heard his cry; and so Ra made a wide canal of water between him and his elder brother, and it was full of crocodiles; with the one brother on one bank, whilst the other was on the other bank; and the elder brother hit his hands together at being unable to kill him. And the younger brother called to his elder brother on other bank, saying, "Stand still until sun rises for the day; and when Ra rises, I shall swear my innocence to you before him, and as he can distinguish between the good and the evil. And has not your wife been as a mother to me? And I shall leave you forever; Now, since you want to kill me I shall avoid every place where you are; I shall go to the valley of the Acacia.

Now when the land was lightened, and the next day appeared, Ra Harakhti rose, and one brother looked at the other. And the youth spoke with his elder brother, saying, "Why have you come after me to kill me secretly, when you have not heard the words of innocence from my mouth? For I am truly your brother, and you are to me as a father, and your wife even as a mother: is this not true? Anpu answered, "Why did you beat up my wife and almost kill her?" Bata answered, "I did no such thing. Have I not told you that I have always looked upon her as my mother?"

"Truly, when I was sent to bring corn for us, your wife said to me, 'Come, stay and play with me;' for see this truth has been turned over for you into its opposite." And he made him understand of all that happened with him and his wife. And he swore an oath by Ra Harakhti, saying, "Your coming to kill me secretly with your knife was an abomination." Then the youth took a knife, and cut off of his flesh, and cast it into the water, and the fish swallowed it. He fell and fainted; and his elder brother cursed his own heart greatly; he stood weeping for him from far off; as he knew he could not pass over to where his younger brother lay, because of the crocodiles. And the younger brother called unto him, saying, "Whilst you have dreamed an evil thing, wilt you not also dream a good thing, just like that which I would do for you? When you go to your house you must look after your cattle properly, And now as to what you shall do for me; I know you shall come to seek after me, if you see it enough. And this is what shall happen; I shall draw out my soul, and I shall put it upon the top of the flowers of the acacia, and when the acacia is cut down, and it falls to the ground, and you come to look for it, if you search for it even for seven years do not let your heart grow wearied. For thou will find find it, and then you must put it in a cup of cold water, and know then that I shall live again, that I will make better that which has been done wrong. And you shall know of this, that is to say, that good things are happening to me, for when one person shall give a cup of beer to you in your hand, and it shall tremble; do not stop then, for truly it shall come to pass with you."

So Anpu went home. He found his wife near the river washing off the black and blue dye with which she had painted herself. Filled with great anger, Anpu killed his wife and cast her to the dogs. Then he sat down, poured ashes on his head, and mourned for his younger brother. Bata reached the Valley of the Acacia. There was no one with him; he slew wild animals of the desert for his food and built himself a house under the sacred acacia tree, the tree sacred to the gods, which bore his soul upon the topmost flower. And after this he built himself a tower with his own hands, in the valley of the acacia; it was full of all good things, that he might provide for himself a home.

One day as he walked out of his house, he met the Nine Gods who knew of his innocence and goodness. Ra said to the god Khunumu, "Look, make a woman for Bata that he may not remain alone. And Khunumu made for Bata a wife to dwell with him. She was indeed more beautiful than any other woman in the whole land. She was like a goddess as the essence of every god was in her and Bata loved her very much. The seven Hathors came to see her: they said with one mouth, " She will die a sharp death."

And Bata loved her very exceedingly, and she dwelt in his house; he passed his time in hunting the beasts of the desert, and brought and laid them before her. He said, "Go not outside, lest the sea seize you; for I cannot rescue you from it, for I am a person like you; my soul is placed on the head of the flower of the acacia; and if another find it, I must fight with him." And he opened unto her his heart in all its nature.

Now after saying these things Bata went to hunt in his daily manner. And the young girl went to walk under the acacia which was by the side of her house. Then the sea saw her, and cast its waves up after her. She ran from before it. She entered her house. And the sea called unto the acacia, saying, "Oh, would that I could seize her!" And the acacia brought a lock from her hair, and the sea carried it to Egypt, and dropped it in the place of the fullers, the makers of Pharaoh's linen. The smell of the lock of hair entered into the clothes of Pharaoh; and they were angry with the fullers of Pharaoh, saying, "The smell of ointment is in the clothes of Pharaoh." And the people were rebuked every day, they knew not what they should do. And the chief fuller of Pharaoh walked by the bank, and his heart was very evil within him after the daily quarrel with him. He stood still, he stood upon the sand opposite to the lock of hair, which was in the water, and he made a servant go into the water and bring it to him; and there was found in it a smell, exceedingly sweet. He took it to Pharaoh; and they brought the scribes and the wise men, and they said unto Pharaoh, "This lock of hair belongs to a daughter of Ra Harakhti: the essence of every god is in her, and it is a tribute to thee from another land. Let messengers go to every strange land to seek her: and as for the messenger who shall go to the valley of the acacia, let many men go with him to bring her." Then said his majesty, "Excellent, this is exceeding is what has been said to us;" and they sent them. And many days after these things the people who were sent to strange lands came to report to the king: but those that went to the valley of the Acacia did not return, for Bata had killed them, but he let one of them return to give a report to the king. His majesty sent many men and soldiers, as well as horsemen to hold Bata, and to bring her back. And there was a woman amongst them, and to her had been given in her hand beautiful ornaments of a woman. And this time the girl came back with her, and they rejoiced over her in the whole land.

And his majesty loved her exceedingly, and raised her to high estate; and he spoke to her saying that she should tell him concerning her husband. And she said, "Let the acacia be cut down, and let one chop it up." And they sent men and soldiers with their weapons to cut down the acacia; and they came to the acacia, and they cut the flower upon which was the soul of Bata, and he fell dead suddenly.

And when the next day came, and the earth was lightened, the acacia was cut down. And Anpu, the elder brother of Bata, entered his house, and washed his hands; and a person gave him a cup of beer, and it became troubled; and another one gave him another of wine, and the smell of it was evil. Then he took his staff, and his sandals, and likewise his clothes, with his weapons of war; and he went forth to the valley of the acacia. He entered the tower of his younger brother, and he found him lying upon his mat; he was dead. And he wept when he saw his younger brother truly was lying dead. And he went out to seek the soul of his younger brother under the acacia tree, under which his younger brother lay in the evening.

He spent three years in seeking for it, but found it not. And when he began looking in the fourth year, he desired in his heart to return into Egypt; he said in his heart, "I will go tomorrow morning". Now when the land lightened, and the next day appeared, he was walking under the acacia; he was spending his time in seeking the flower. And he returned in the evening, and laboured at seeking it again. Then he at last found a seed. He returned with it. Look, this was the soul of his younger brother. He brought a cup of cold water, and he threw the seed into it: and he sat down, as he usually did. Now when the night came his soul of his brother sucked up the water; Bata then shuddered in all his limbs, and he looked on his elder brother; his soul was in the cup. Then Anpu took the cup of cold water, in which the soul of his younger brother was; Bata drank it, his soul stood again in its proper place, and he became as he had been. They embraced each other, and they spoke together.

And Bata said to his elder brother, "Behold I am to become as a great bull, which bears every good mark; no one knows its history, and you must sit upon my back. When the sun arises I shall be in the place where my wife is, that I may return answer to her; and you must take me to the place where the king is. For all good things shall be done for you; for one shall load you with silver and gold, because you bring me to Pharaoh, for I become a great marvel, and they shall rejoice for me in all the land. And you shalt go to your village."

And when the land was lightened, and the next day appeared, Bata took the form of the bull, like he had told his elder brother. And Anpu sat upon his back until the dawn. Together they came to the place where the king was, and they made his majesty to know of him; he saw him, and he was exceeding joyful with him. The king made for him great offerings, saying, "This is a great wonder which has come to pass." There were rejoicings over him in the whole land. They presented unto him silver and gold for his elder brother, who went and stayed in his village. They gave to the bull many men and many things, and Pharaoh loved him exceedingly above all that is in this land.

And after many days after these things, the bull entered the purlfied place; he stood in the place where the princess was; he began to speak with her, saying, "Behold, I am alive again." And she said to him, "And, pray, who are you?" He said to her, "I am Bata. I perceived when you told them that they should destroy the acacia of Pharaoh, which was my abode, that I would die. Look! I am alive again, I am as an ox." Then the princess feared exceedingly for the words that her husband had spoken to her. And he went out from the purlfied place.

And his majesty was sitting, making a good day with her: she was at the table of his majesty, and the king was exceeding pleased with her. And she said to his majesty, " Swear to me bv God, saying, 'What ever you shalt say, I will obey it for your sake.'" He listened carefully to all that she said, even this. "Let me eat of the liver of the ox, because he is fit for nothing:" said the woman to him. And the king was exceeding sad at her words, the heart of Pharaoh grieved greatly. And after the land was lightened, and the next day appeared, they proclaimed a great feast with offerings to the ox. And the king sent one of the chief butchers of his majesty, to cause the ox to be sacrificed. And when he was sacrificed, as he was upon the shoulders of the people, he shook his neck, and he threw two drops of blood over against the two doors of his majesty. The one fell upon the one side, on the great door of Pharaoh, and the other upon the other door. They grew as two great Persea trees, and each of them was excellent.

And one went to tell unto his majesty, " Two great Persea trees have grown, as a great marvel of his majesty, in the night by the side of the great gate of his majesty." And there was rejoicing for them in all the land, and there were offerings made to them

And when the days were multiplied after these things, his majesty was adorned with the blue crown, with garlands of flowers on his neck, and he was upon the chariot of pale gold, and he went out from the palace to behold the Persea trees: the princess also was going out with horses behind his majesty. And as his majesty sat beneath one of the Persea trees, it spoke to his wife: "Oh thou deceitful one, I am Bata, I am alive, though I have been evilly entreated. I knew who caused the acacia to be cut down by Pharaoh at my dwelling. I then became an ox, and you caused me to be killed."

And many days after these things the princess stood at the table of Pharaoh, and the king was pleased with her. And she said to his majesty, "Swear to me by God, saying, 'That which the princess shall say to me I will obey it for her.'" And he listened carefully o all she said. And she commanded, " Let these two Persea trees be cut down, and let them be made into goodly planks." And after this his majesty sent skilful craftsmen, and they cut down the Persea trees of Pharaoh; and the princess, the royal wife, was standing looking on, and they did all that was in her heart unto the trees. But a chip flew up, and it entered into the mouth of the princess; she swallowed it, and after many days she bore a son. And one went to tell his majesty, "There is born to you a son." And they brought him, and gave to him a nurse and servants; and there were rejoicings in the whole land. And the king sat making a merry day, as they were about the naming of him, and his majesty loved him exceedingly at that moment, and the king raised him to be the royal son of Kush.

Now after the days had multiplied after these things, his majesty made him heir of all the land. And many days after that, when he had furfilled many years as heir, his majesty flew up to heaven. And the heir said, "Let my great nobles of his majesty be brought before me, that I may make them to know all that has happened to me." And they brought also before him his wife, and he judged with her before him, and they agreed with him. They brought to him his elder brother; he made him hereditary prince in all his land. He was thirty years king of Egypt, and he died, and his elder brother stood in his place on the day of burial.

Excellently finished in peace, for the ka of the scribe of the treasury Kagalu, of the treasury of Pharaoh, and for the scribe Hora, and the scribe Meremapt. Written by the scribe Nena, the owner of this roll. He who speaks against this roll, may the god Djehuti smite him.

This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
 
Translation: