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THE MISFORTUNES OF WENAMON.

BY ARTHUR E. P. WEIGALL.

In the year 1891, at a small vivid account of the political village in Upper Egypt named conditions obtaining in Syria El Hibeh, some natives un- and Egypt during the reign earthed a much damaged roll of the Pharaoh Rameses XII.; of papyrus which appeared to but it also has a very human them to be very ancient. Since interest, and the misfortunes they had heard that antiquities of the writer may still excite have a market value, they did one's sympathy after this lapse not burn it along with what of three thousand years. ever other scraps of inflam- In the time at which Wenmable material they had col- amon wrote his report Egypt lected for their evening fire, had fallen on evil days. A but preserved it, and finally long line of incapable descendtook it to a dealer, who gave ants of the great Rameses II. them in exchange for it a small and Rameses III. had ruled sum of money:

From the the Nile valley; and now a dealer's hands it passed into wretched ghost of a Pharaoh, the possession of Monsieur Rameses XII., sat upon the Golenischeff, a Russian Egypt- throne, bereft of all power, & ologist, who happened at the ruler in name only. The time to be travelling in Egypt; government of the country and by him it was carried to St lay in the hands of two great Petersburg, where it now rests. nobles : in Upper Egypt, This savant presently published Hirhor, High Priest of Amon. a translation of the document, Ra, was undisputed master; which at once caused a sen- and in Lower Egypt, Nesusation in the Egyptological banebded, a prince of the city world; and during the next of Tanis (the Zoan of the few years four amended trans- Bible), virtually ruled as king lations were made by different of the Delta. Both these scholars. The interest shown persons ultimately ascended in this tattered roll was due to the throne of the Pharaohs ; the fact that it had been found but at the time of Wenamon's to contain the actual report adventures the High Priest written by an official named was the more powerful of the Wenamon to his chief, the two, and could command the High Priest of Amon-Ra, relat- obedience of the northern ruler, ing his adventures in the at any rate in all sacerdotal Mediterranean while procuring matters. The priesthood of cedar-wood from the forests Amon - Ra was the greatest of Lebanon. The story which political factor in Egyptian Wenamon tells is of the life. That god's name was greatest

value to archæ- respected even in the courts ologists, giving as it does & of Syria, and though his

a VOL. CLXXXVI.NO. MCXXIX.

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power was now on the wane, of one's love of the ludicrous as fifty years previously the great through that of one's interest religious body which bowed the in the romance of adventure. knee to him was feared through- Those who are acquainted with out all the countries neighbour- Egypt will see in him one of ing to Egypt. The main cause the types of naïf, delightful of Wenamon's troubles was the children of the Nile, whose lack of appreciation of this fact, decorous introduction into the that the god's influence in Syria parlour of the nations of towas not as great as it had been day is requiring such careful in the past; and this report rehearsal. would certainly not have been For his journey the High worth recording here if he had Priest gave Wenamon a sum realised that prestige is, of all of money, and as credentials he factors in international rela- handed him a number of letters tions, the least reliable.

addressed to

to Egyptian and In the year 1113 B.C. the Syrian princes, and intrusted High Priest undertook the con- to his care a particularly sacred struction of a ceremonial barge little image of Amon - Ra, in which the image of the god known as Amon-of-the-Road, might be floated upon the which had probably accomsacred waters of the Nile dur- panied other envoys to the ing the great religious festivals Kingdoms of the Sea in times at Thebes; and for this purpose past, and would be recognised he found himself in need of a

token of the official large amount of cedar-wood of nature of any embassy which the best quality. He therefore carried it. sent for Wenamon, who held Thus armed, Wenamon set the sacerdotal title of “Eldest out from El Hibeh-probably of the Hall of the Temple of the ancient Hetbennu, the capAmon," and instructed him to ital of the Eighteenth Province proceed to the Lebanon to pro- of Upper Egypt-on the sixcure the timber. It is evident teenth day of the eleventh that Wenamon was no travel. month of the fifth year of the ler, and we may perhaps be reign of Rameses XII. (1113 permitted to picture him as B.C.), and travelled down the à rather portly gentleman of Nile by boat to Tanis, a dismiddle age, not wanting either tance of some 200 miles. in energy or pluck, but given, his arrival at this fair city of like some of his countrymen, the Delta, whose temples and to a fluctuation of the emotions palaces rose on the borders of which would jump him from the swamps at the edge of the smiles to tears, from hope to sea, Wenamon made his way despair, in a

to the palace of Nesubanebded, ing to any but an Egyptian and handed to him the letters To us he often appears as which he had received from an overgrown baby, and his the High Priest. These were misfortunes have a faroical caused to be read aloud ; and nature which makes its appeal Nesubanebded, hearing that as much through the medium Wenamon

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reaching the Lebanon as soon would permit; and it is probas possible, made the necessary able that he refused bluntly arrangements for his immedi- to return to Tanis when Wenate despatch upon a vessel amon informed him of the overwhich happened then to be sight. This and the inherent lying at the quay under the distrust of an Egyptian for a command of a Syrian skipper foreigner led Wenamon to renamed Mengebet, who was gard the captain and the crew about to set out for the Asiatic with suspicion; and one must coast. On the first day of the imagine him seated in the twelfth month, that is to say rough deck - cabin gloomily fourteen days after his depart- guarding the divine image and

from his native town, his store of money. He had Wenamon set sail from Tanis, with him a secretary and probcrossing the swamps and head- ably two or three servants; ing out into “the Great Syrian and one may picture these Sea.”

unfortunates anxiously watchThe voyage over the blue ing the Syrian sailors as they rippling Mediterranean slouched about the deck. It is calm and prosperous as the further to be remembered that good ship sailed along the as a general rule the Egyptians barren shores of the land of are most extremely bad sailors. the Shasu, along the more After some days the ship mountainous coast of Edom, arrived at the little city of and thence northwards past Dor, which nestled at the foot the cities of Askalon and of the Ridge of Carmel; and Ashdod. To Wenamon, how- here they put in to replenish ever, the journey was fraught their supplies. Wenamon states with anxiety. He was full of in his report that Dor was at fears as to his reception in this time a city of the Thekel Syria, for the first of his or Sicilians, some wandering misfortunes had befallen him. band of sea-rovers having left Although he had with him their native Sicily to settle both money and the image here, at first under the proof Amon-of-the-Road, in the tection of the Egyptiang, but excitement and hurry of his now independent of them. The departure he had entirely for- King of Dor, by name Bedel, gotten to obtain again the hearing that an envoy of the bundle of letters of introduc- High Priest of Amon-Ra had tion which he had given arrived in his harbour, very Nesubanebded to read; and politely sent down to him a thus there were grave reasons joint of beef, some loaves of for supposing that his mission bread, and a jar of wine, upon might prove a complete failure. which Wenamon must have Mengebet was evidently a stern set to with an appetite, after old salt who cared not a snap subsisting upon the scanty of the fingers for Amon or his rations of the sea for so long envoy, and whose one desire a time. was to reach his destination It

may

be that the wine was as rapidly as wind and oars more potent than that to which

the Egyptian was accustomed; he gave his consideration to or perhaps the white buildings the affair. Wenamon's words, of the city, glistening in the however, were by no means sunlight, and the busy quays, polite, and one finds in them engrossed his attention too a blustering assurance which completely: anyhow, the second suggests that he considered of his misfortunes now befel himself a personage of extreme him. One of the Syrian sailors consequence, and regarded a seized the opportunity to slip King of Dor as nothing in into his cabin and to steal the comparison with an envoy of money which was hidden there. Amon-Ra. Before Wenamon had detected “I have been robbed in your the robbery the sailor had dis- harbour,” he cried,—so he tells appeared for ever amidst the us in the report,-"and, since houses of Dor. That evening you are the king of this land, the distracted envoy, seated you must be regarded as a upon the floor of his cabin, party to the crime. You must was obliged to chronicle the search for my money. .

The list of stolen money, which list money belongs to Nesubanebded, was afterwards incorporated and it belongs to Hirhor, my in his report in the following lord” (no mention, observe, of manner :

the wretched Rameses XII.),

"and to the other nobles of One vessel containing gold

Egypt. It belongs also to amounting to

5 debens.

Weret, and to Mekmel, and Four vessels containing silver amounting to 20

to Zakar-Baal the Prince of One wallet containing sil

Byblos." These latter were ver amounting to 11

the persons to whom it was

to be paid. Total of what was stolen : Gold, 5 debens; silver, 31 debens. The King of Dor listened to

this outburst with Sicilian A deben weighed about 100 politeness, and replied in the grammes, and thus the robber following very correct terms. was richer by 500 grammes of “With all due respect to your gold, which in those days would honour and excellenoy,” he said, have the purchasing value of “I know nothing of this comabout £600 in our money, and plaint which you have lodged 3100 grammes of silver, equal with me. If the thief belonged to about £2200.1

to my land and went on board Wenamon must have slept your ship in order to steal your little that night, and early on money, I would advance you the following morning he hast- the sum from my treasury ened to the palace of King while they were finding the culBedel to lay his case before prit. But the thief who robbed him. Fortunately Bedel did you belonged to your ship. not ask him for his credentials, Tarry, however, a few days here but with the utmost politeness with me, and I will seek him."

1 See Weigall : Catalogue of Weights and Balances in the Cairo Museum,

p. xvi.

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Wenamon, therefore, strode tattered fragments of the back to the vessel, and there writing, however, it seems that remained, fuming and fretting, at the next port of call—perfor nine long days. The skipper haps the city of Sidon Mengebet, however, had no party of inoffensive Sicilian reason to remain at Dor, and merchants encountered, seems to have told Wenamon and immediately the desperate that he could wait no longer. Wenamon hatched a daring On the tenth day, therefore, plot. By this time he had Wenamon retraced his steps come to place some trust in to the palace, and addressed Mengebet, the skipper, who, himself once

more to Bedel. for the sake of his own good “Look," he said to the king, standing in Egypt, had shown when he was ushered into the himself willing to help the royal presence, “you have not envoy of Amon-Ra in his found my money, and therefore troubles, although he would you had better let me go with not go so far as to delay his my ship's captain and with journey for him; and Wenamon those . The rest of the therefore admitted him to his interview is lost in a lacuna, councils. On some pretext or and practically the only words other party led by the which the damaged condition Egyptian paid a visit to these of the papyrus permits one merchants and entered into now to read are “He said, conversation with them. Then, • Be silent !'” which indicates suddenly overpowering them, that even the patience of a a rush was made for their cashKing of Dor could be exhausted. box, which Wenamon at once

When the narrative is able burst open. To his disappointto be resumed one finds that ment he found it to contain Wenamon has set sail from the only thirty-one debens of silver, city, and has travelled along which happened to be precisely the coast to the proud city of the amount of silver, though Tyre, where he arrived one after- not of gold, which he had lost. noon penniless and letterless, This sum he pocketed, saying having now nothing left but to the struggling merchants as the little Amon-of-the-Road and he did so, “I will take this his own audacity. The charms money of yours, and will keep of Tyre, then one of the great it until you find my money. ports of the civilised world. Was it not a Sicilian who stole were of no consequence to the it, and no thief of ours ? I destitute Egyptian, nor do they will take it.”

to have attracted the With these words the party skipper of his ship, who, after raced back to the ship, scramhis long delay at Dor, was in bled on board, and in a few no mood to linger. At dawn moments had hoisted sail and the next morning, therefore, were scudding northwards tothe journey was continued, and wards Byblos, where Wenamon

unfortunate proposed to throw himself on lacuna interrupts the passage the mercy of Zakar.Baal, the of the report. From the prince of that city. Wenamon,

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