Ancient Egyptians knew literature; there was ancient Egyptian stories, poetry, wisdom, and proverbs, and also the book of ideology which is considered one of the best pieces of ancient Egyptian literature.
The story of the sailor of the wrecked ship:
In brief this story tells that a ship wrecked and the only survivor was a sailor. He reached a fruitful island guarded by a snake longer than 30 cubits. His beard was longer than two cubits. His body was covered by gold and his eyebrows were from lazulite .The sailor and the snake became friends and the snake foretold the sailor’s rescue. Really the prophecy was fulfilled and a ship rescued the sailor and he returned safely to Egypt after suffering terribly and facing a lot of horrors in his voyage.
Senohi was one of the queen’s relatives, when the old aged king of Egypt died, for reasons best known to himself, he was dismayed and was about to die from thirst while crossing the desert of Sinai. But a nomadic tribe found him and the chief of the tribe was happy with his presence and married him his eldest daughter. Senohi underwent many adventures in the region, for example, he resisted a nomad, who was proud of his strength and caused terror to the tribe, and killed him.
Senuohi grew old and longed for his motherland. So he wrote to Egypt’s pharaoh asking for the permission to return. The pharaoh responded by acceptance and received him with honor and gave him a house and made him his consultant and his food was brought from the royal court. The pharaoh prepared for him a pyramid made from stone and all what he needs in life.
The story of the two brothers:
This story, as one of the greatest ancient Egyptian stories, shows the width of ancient Egyptians’ fancy and the depth of tthoughts. The story started in the field of the two brothers Embo (Anobis) the elder and Bata the younger. Embo’s wife exploited his absence and seduced Bata, but when she failed she lied to her husband and accused Bata of seducing her while she preserved herself. Embo got furious and waylaid his brother behind the door of the shed to kill him on his return, but the first cow that returned to the shed warned Bata and he ran away. His brother followed him armed with a spear. So the god of the sun separated between them with a barrier full of crocodiles.
After Bata felt safe, he started to castrate himself, so his brother was convinced of his brother’s innocence and returned to his house to slay his wife and throw her body to the dogs.
Bata told brother that he will travel to the Cedar valley (Lebanon) and that he will put his heart on top of the flowers of a cedar tree. When Bata arrived to the cedar valley he built a fortress and married the most beautiful woman in the world who was created especially for him by the gods out of sympathy. It happened that the water of the sea carried a lock from her hair and the pharaoh found it and its scent swept the pharaoh off his feet.
He sent a campaign to bring her and when she settled at the royal court she induced the pharaoh to cut the flower that carried Bata’s heart and Bata died. Embo learned of his brother’s death from a magic sign they agreed on. Embo went to the Cedar valley where he found his brother’s heart had grown into a fruit and Embo was able to return his brother to life. After Bata’s resurrection he took the shape of a bull and carried his brother Embo back to Egypt. Embo came close to the pharaoh till he became his companion. As for Bata he showed himself once to his ex-wife who induced her husband the king to slay the bull and he did so, but two drops of blood fell out of the palace and two Lebbek trees grew out of them and Bata continued to live in them. Once again he showed himself to his ex-wife. So she cut the trees to make furniture from them. She came to follow the progress of work and a splinter fell in her throat and she swallowed it without wanting to and she got pregnant and gave birth to a child who was Bata himself and when the child grew up, the king made him his heir and after his death Bata became Egypt’s pharaoh. As for his ex-wife she was humiliated and may be was killed.
Poetry and songs:
Poetic stanzas consisted of 3 or 4 lines; each started with the same word. Antithesis, assonance, and word play were used, but there was no rhyme scheme.
As for music and singing, the Egyptian songs were distinguished by the accuracy of rhythm. Music and singing were essential in daily work where peasants sang simple choral songs while working. They also had an important role in religious ceremonies. Banquets were accompanied by singing and dancing .An example of these songs:
The flowers of the sweet scent are sent by Betah
who grows them into love and beauty found in everybody.
Betah made them all by his hands to delight his heart.
Swamps are full of new waters.
The land floods with his company.
Some anthems appeared to praise the kings like the anthem praising the king Snosert the third from the twelfth dynasty:
How great the king is to his city.
He is the refuge of the scared to protect him from enemies.
He is the most stretching shadows in summer times.
How great is the king to his city.
He is the dry warm corner in winter times.
He is the mountain that wards off the storm when the heaven is angry.
Sentimental songs also appeared as a simple spontaneous change, it developed and manifestations of skill appeared. Its role as a means of exchanging love stopped and were sang in parties. For example:
Beloved come to me in the garden.
My beloved is like a flower spreading its scent.
As slender as a coy palm puffing with its youth.
With a red rose on each cheek.
When I lie home all day.
In the sea, I miss nothing.
Neighbors come and go.
Will you ever come beloved!
Wisdom and Proverbs:
The ancient Egyptians wrote down wisdom, literature, and proverbs on stone and scattered parts of ostraca slats and on papyrus. Scientists translated much of the wisdom literature which is enough to understand the spirit of the literature the Egyptians excelled in.
The book of ideology
Following is a sample of the book of ideology, the fruit of the ancient Egyptian ideological thoughts:
The student asks the priest:
If the one and only god had created all people why did their colors and manners varied?
The priest answers:
God created man from clay which he ordered to be collected from the fore corners of earth, the black, the red, the yellow and the white clay. He ordered to mix it with the four waters of the universe the nigint’s pure waterwhich is rain, the water of the salty seas, the water of the rivers running on the surface of earth, and the water of wells and springs that come out of earth, then he shaped people.
From the different colours of clay their colours varied and from the mature of water varied their manners.
Why did god create earth in an oval shape?
The priest answers:
God created life from inanimate. He got out young birds from egg and created earth in an oval shape and blew his breath in it, thus it gained vitality and reproduced living beings from ova, the biggest he created all living beings from the smallest ova.
The student asks the priest:
Where is God? Why do not we see him and how do we see him or hear his voice?
The priest answers:
Close your eyes and open up your mind to see God. God exists in every existence. He exists in everything in universe animate or inanimate. The beautiful flower growing out of an arid land tells you I am God. The young bird that comes out of an egg tells you I am God. If you want to hear God’s voice close your ears and open up your heart and you will hear God’s voice in the voice of existence, in the whispering of breeze, in thunder, in the singing of birds and in music, the language of heavens. God’s voice gave all beings utterance and movement.
The student asks the teaching priest :Why does God also ask us in the book of light to carve for knowledge and science starting from the day we come to life to the day we leave? Why do we trouble ourselves when we grow old carving for knowledge while we are not going to make use of it when we lose by death all we have reached in knowledge.
The priest replies:
Knowledge is the key to heavens. The first life we live is a “trial life” preparing for its continuation in the eternal world. What we acquire from knowledge and science is not lost or ends by death, for death is a continuation of life and not an end. Death is the way to resurrection and continuation of life and the transformation from “trial life” to eternal life. By death we lose every thing material and by resurrection we preserve every thing spiritual and the nourishment of spirit we gain from science and sacred knowledge in trial life to carry with us and make use of its fruits and which determines our place and position in eternity. We have to struggle and keep on carving for know ledge and science till the last day in our life, the trial life that we live now, know ledge is the only treasure our soul will preserve and death will not affect it.
The student asks the priest of wisdom:
The belief in the book of light says that thinking of sin is like doing it. Is the one who thinks of sin like that who commits it?
The priest answers raising his left hand:
Sin exists in the five fingers of the human being “ Ka ” who thinks of it awakes it and who awakes it is like who commits it and who commits it is to reckon with God.
The five sins represented by the five fingers are: Envy, hatred, jealousy, gossip and evil. Thinking of any of them is a sin, who thinks of it is reckoned like the one who does it. While living, false testimony, and what the evil instinct speaks is to reckon with god on uttering it and after thinking of it.
The hands raised over the head in the ancient Egyptians belief represent the spirit. The fingers of the right hand point to the apparent senses while those of the left hand point to the five inner senses.
A question from the student to the priest:
If God had created Osoris the god of good to please people and lead them to heavens then why did he create “Set” the god of evil to corrupt people and lead them to hell?
The priest raises his voice and says:
Man’s life on earth is a temporary life-It is just a chance for trial and a stage of test preparing for the transference to immortality. Thus, God has sent both “Osoris” and “set” to earth. Goodness occupies the soul “ Ba ” and fills it with the teachings of heavens while evil occupies the spirit “Ka” and fills it with disobedience and iniquity.
The young ask … Where is God?
The priest replies:
Have you ever seen the wind or air? You don’t see them yet you feel their existence and see their effect. You don’t see the fragrance, yet you know it exists and smell its scent. You don’t see the sound but you know it exists and you hear its ring. You don’t see the heat or cold yet, you feel them likely. God always exists here but we don’t see him.
A student asks about fate and divine decree:
If there is a written fate and man acts according to it then why is man asked about acts he was destined to do and is controlled by fate, which he had no power to change.
The priest replies:
The Book of heavens drew Tuhot, the prophet of gods and the god of sacred knowledge, standing in front of a tree carrying with his right hand the board of fate and with his left hand the balance, the symbol of reckoning and judgment.
Tuhot proceeds to put the book and the board of destiny in the soul “Ba” by which man becomes controlled towards good that had been destined to him. Tuhot puts the balance or judgment in spirit “Ka”. That man becomes of free will in his actions and determining his destiny.
By the end of life the body perishes, the soul rises to heavens carrying the board of fate and as for the spirit it carries the balance and reckons with the after life court the reckoning court.
And here's what the judges ask in the reckoning court:
Our final word:
These samples have showed us how complete and great Egyptian ideology was, and maybe the greatness and completeness of the samples we put is why we didn't write a lot in this section, they don't even need a comment. And by this we’ve finished the literature section which reveals the greatness of the ancient Egyptian civilization.