Sorry I put this up so late! Post away, and bring questions to class, too.
Posted at Oct 20/2011 02:34PM:
Alexa Pugh: A footnote of Lichtheim's (number 9, pg. 144), says that the theme of "national distress" outlined in The Prophecies of Neferti was characterized in part by "the reversal of the social order, by which the rich become poor and the have-nots become the masters." How do you think this mentality could have conflicted or coincided with the emergence of a larger middle-class during the Middle Kingdom?
Posted at Oct 20/2011 06:48PM:
Alissa G: The Prophecies of Neferti, make you wonder… I’ve read an article about how the Hyksos might have been the Israelites descended from Joseph of the Old Testament (I don’t think this is necessarily true, but it brings on an interesting idea about the presence of historical proof of the Bible). The years of famine, flood, and devastation mentioned in the text reminded me of the “seven years of famine” prophesized for by the king’s dream in Joseph’s story. Has there been an established connection between the two tales or at least a discussion? I’d like to look into this.
Posted at Oct 20/2011 11:57PM:
Katie E: The Prophecies of Neferti, outline some of the bad things that will happen when the country is in turmoil. It is interesting to me that chaos is not necessarily described always in terms of violence or famine, but also in terms of disruptions in social order, and things being backwards. What does this say about Egyptian's conceptions of chaos and therefore stability, was peace a necessary component of a stable Egypt? In the text addressed to Merikare I was interested in the ideals put forth about kingship. The instructions spoke of learning from past kings and not despoiling their monuments, how much does this reflect an actual increased relationship with past kings, or is it simply an ideal?
Posted at Oct 21/2011 12:35AM:
On the basis of a few comments in lecture and in Gae Callender's article, it seems that the recent tendency has been to downplay the value of Merykare as a historical source. By contrast, I gather that Lichtheim belongs to an older school of thought in which the text was viewed as a contemporary composition that is largely historical (Lichtheim 1:97). Is this an accurate evaluation of the past and current trends on this subject?
While caution is certainly in order, I believe the genre of the text suggests that it should be taken seriously as a historical source. The purpose of the text seems to be to provide practical instruction about kingship. Whether we imagine a text actually written by kings and for kings or something with a wider audience and purpose, from the evidence of the text itself the genre seems to call for the author to recount both successes and failures of the supposed speaker of the instruction, the former for the audience to emulate and the latter for the audience to avoid. On the one hand, for example, we have a glowing account of security in Memphis achieved in the king's reign (lines 103-105) which functions to introduce instruction on the need for loyal citizens. But we also have, for example, a striking admission of a "shameful deed" in This (line 120) that occurs "through my doing" (line 121) and this functions to introduce instruction on proper behavior with respect to monuments. This balance of successes and failures in the genre suggests the possibility of historical accuracy.
While a full discussion would require us to evaluate the date of the text and the degree to which the authors would have had access to accurate information about the time described, I see little reason to doubt the basic trustworthiness of the text. Since the genre did not call for overt distortions of history, it would seem that, to the extext that the authors had access to accurate accounts of the historical particulars, the text should be taken as a reasonably accurate reflection of the events themselves.
Posted at Oct 21/2011 11:46AM:
Christina Sauer: In The Eloquent Peasant, I was surprised at the boldness of the peasant towards the magistrate. He admonishes his superior passionately. Was this a narrative the average, "common," Egyptian knew? While the literature is written in a positive light (the injustice was righted), I felt immense pity for the peasant and disgust for the magistrate. The game the King and the magistrate were playing to exhaust the peasant seemed harsh, if not cruel. Was this an image the king/upper class intended to have portrayed of themselves?