Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Shipwrecked Sailor

This is how I study Egyptian hieroglyphs. Reading the book doesn't lock it in so I re-write the book. This comes from the work of James P. Allen who transliterated eight works of Middle Egyptian Literature from hieratic (cursive) into hieroglyphs. I have two copies of this book, one in print, and Kindle version. Both versions are infuriatingly difficult to actually use. To just read the books I suppose they're almost okay, but to use, not so good. I do not recommend the printed version because the print is too small, but I must admit it holds up very well to bending and creasing and hard book-abuse. So far, not a page has fallen out, and I've mangled the thing, so, it's bound very well.

This story is the oldest example of Egyptian literature found. It survives as a single papyrus manuscript kept in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Allen uses a strange hieroglyph font, but then, they all have their quirks. And Allen's publisher decided to print them so tiny that they're virtually useless even wearing glasses and using a large capable magnifying glass. And that's no way to read a book. It's impossible to distinguish between certain hieroglyphs. For example, for "children" Allen shows male and female next to each other on chairs but there is no sign for that, yet that's what I'm seeing. There is no such hieroglyph for children in Jsesh font file. So I made the configuration from elements into a ligature to show what I was seeing. Then, in a later episode the printing improved such that I could see the chairs crammed closely together is actually the number 3. And basic male, basic female over 3 is a lot easier to type in by code, a much simpler ligature. That kind of thing bums me out -- looking for signs that don't exist.

What follows is 21 videos of 16 episodes of the story. The story is told in couplets. The columns are shown in the videos first the line in English, then the same line as hieroglyphs, when the episode is told, then Allen makes notes of certain chunks of text explaining grammar and peculiar incomprehensible phrases. Basically half of each video is the story and the second half is Allen's notations.

I mentioned before that linguists are a different lot. Their grammar is different from the grammar we leaned in school. That's because we were taught English grammar, and that's only a very small part of the full grammars of all languages across the world and through time. Linguists have notations for every sound possible to make with your mouth in any language, even grunts and clicks and hawking up flugies, and words to describe types of words, and they have words for the placement of words in sentences, types of placements and types of sentences, for any arrangement found, anywhere, any time. It's awesome. But confusing where our English grammar only just barely helps get a start. You'll see, in Allen's notes that follow the couplets. It's outrageous.

If you don't like that, then this is where videos are better than gifs. Videos don't start running automatically, so they begin when you start them. And videos can be paused so you can examine a frame longer if you like. And videos allow you to skip through them.

Or ignore them all. I don't care. I'm just showing how I learn.

The story without any of this is put at the end of the videos because it's too long to put here in front.
























The Shipwrecked Sailor

Recitation by an able follower
Be informed, high official:
look, we have reached home.
the mallet has been taken, the mooring-post has been hit,
and the prow-rope is set on land.
Praise has been given, and thanks, 
and every man is embracing the other. 
Our crew has returned safe, 
with no loss of our expedition.
We have reached Wawat’s wake,
we have gone by Bigga.
So, look, we have returned in peace;
our land, we have reached it.

So, listen to me, high official;
I am free of excess.
Wash yourself, put water on your fingers;
then you can answer when you are addressed.
You can speak to the king with your wits about you;
you can answer without stuttering.
For the mouth of a man saves him;
for his speech makes leniency for him
But you act as you have in mind;
speaking to you is wearisome.

Nevertheless, let me relate to you something similar
that happened to me myself,
when I went to the mining country for the sire.
I went down to the sea in a boat
of a hundred twenty cubits in length
and forty cubits in width,
a hundred twenty sailors in it
of the choice of Egypt.
Whether they saw sky or saw land,
their mind was more observant than lions.
They could predict a gale before it came,
a thunderstorm before it happened. 

A gale came up while we were at sea,
before we could touch land,
the wind lifted repeatedly,
with a swell of eight cubits from it.
The mast was what broke it for me.
Then the boat died,
and of those who were in it, not one survived
Then I was put on an island
by a wave of the sea.
I spent three days alone,
my mind as my only companion,
lying inside a thicket,
having embraced the shade.
Then  I stretched my legs
to learn what I might put in my mouth.

I found figs and grapes there,
and all (kinds of) fine vegetables.
Green and ripe sycamore figs were there,
an melons as if cultivated.
Fish were there, and birds:
there was nothing that was not inside it.
Then I sated myself,
and put some down because of how much was on my arms
I took a fire-stick, created a fire
and made a burnt offering to the gods.

Then I heard a sound of thunder;
I thought it was a wave of the sea.
Trees were cracking,
The ground was quaking.
When I uncovered my face,
I found it was a snake, and he was coming.
He was thirty cubits long,
and his beard, it was greater than two cubits.
His body was plated with gold,
his eyebrows were real lapis-lazuli,
and he was bent forward.

He opened his mouth at me,
as I was on my belly in his presence,
saying to me, “Who fetched you?
Who fetched you, mister? Who fetched you?
If you delay telling me who fetched you to this island,
I will make you find yourself as ash,
having become one who is not seen.”
But he spoke to me without my hearing it,
though I was in his presence, because I had fainted.
Then he put me in his mouth,
took me away to his place of residence,
and set me down without my being touched,
sound, with nothing taken from me.

He opened his mouth at me,
as I was on my belly in his presence.
Then he said to me, “Who fetched you?
Who fetched you, mister?
Who fetched you to this island of the sea,
whose two sides are in the waters?”
Then I answered him,
my arms bent in his presence, 
saying to him, “It was I.”

I went down to the mining country on the sire’s mission
in a boat of a hundred twenty cubits in length
and forty cubits in width,
a hundred twenty sailors in it
of the choice of Egypt.
Whether they saw sky or saw land,
their mind was more observant than lions. 
They could predict a gale before it came, 
a thunderstorm before it happened
Each one of them, his mind was more observant
and his arm more forceful than his companion;
there was no fool in their midst.

A gale came up while we were at sea,
before we could touch land,
the wind lifted repeatedly,
with a swell of eight cubits from it.
The mast was what broke it for me.
then the boat died, 
and of those who were in it, not one survived except me,
and here I am beside you.
then I was fetched to this island
by a wave of the sea.”

So, he said to me, “Don’t fear, don’t fear, mister.
Don’t blanch because you have reached me.
Look, the god, he has let you live
by fetching you to this island of ka.
there is nothing that is not inside it,
for it is full of all good things.
Look, you are to spend month upon month, 
until you have completed four months inside this island.
A boat is to come from home,
with sailors you know in it.
You will go home with them, 
and die in your town.

How happy is he who relates what he has tasted
when something painful passes.
So, let me relate to you something similar
that happened to this island.
I was in it with my siblings
and children amid them.
We totaled seventy-five snakes,
consisting of my offspring and my siblings,
without me mentioning to you, from experience,
the little daughter I got.

Then a star came down,
and those went up in fire from it.
But it happened while I was not along;
they burned up when I was not in their midst.
Then I died for them,
after I found them as one pile of corpses.
If you have persevered, with your mind firm,
you will fill your embrace with your children;
you will kiss your wife and see your home;
it is better than anything;
you will reach home and be in it
amid your siblings.”

At that, I wound up prostrate on my belly,
having touched the ground in his presence,
and saying to him, “I will relate your impressiveness to the sire
and make him aware of your greatness.
I will have fetched to you ibi-oil and hknw-oil,
iwdnb-resin and h z3yt-resin, the incense of temple stores,
with which every god is contented.

And when I relate what happened to me,
what I have seen of your impressiveness,
you will be thanked in the town
in front of the council and the whole land.
I will slaughter for you bulls as burnt offering,
having wrung the necks of birds for you.
I will have fetched to you ships
loaded with every specialty of Egypt,
like that which is done for a god people love,
in a far-off land that people don't know. 

Then he laughed at me, at what I said to him,
in error in his opinion,
saying to me, "do you have so much myrrh,
and have you become owner of incense?
For I am lord of Punt
and myrrh, it is mine.
That hhknw-oil you said would be fetched,
it is the chief thing of this island.
And when you come to separate yourself from this place,
you will never see this island,
once it has become waters."

Then that boat came
as he had predicted before.
Then I went 
and put myself on a high tree,
and I recognized those who were inside it.
Then I went to report it
and I found him aware of it.
Then he said to me, "Farewell,
farewell, mister, to your house.
you will see your children.
Put my good name in your town
Look, that is what I need from you."

Then I put myself on my belly,
my arms bent in his presence.
Then he gave me a shipment of myrrh and hknw-oil,
jwdnb-resin, h z3yt-resin, ti-sps wood,
s3c zh plants, galena, tails of giraffe,
big lumps of incense, teeth of elephant,
hounds, monkeys, apes; every good specialty.
Then I loaded it onto that boat.

Once I had put myself on my belly
to thank him, 
then he said to me, 
"Look, you are to arrive home in two months.
You will fill your embrace with your children
and be rejuvenated inside your entombment."
Then I went down to the shore
in that boat's vicinity.
then I was calling to the expedition
that was in that boat.
I gave praise on the shore
to the lord of that island,
and those who were in it did likewise.

What we did was to sail downstream
to home and the sire.
We arrived home in month two,
like all that he had said.
Then I entered to the sire
and presented him with the cargo
that I had gotten inside that island.
Then he thanked me
in front of the council and the whole land.
Then I was appointed follower
and endowed with two hundred servants.

See me, after my touching land,
after my seeing what I have tasted.
So, listen, high official:
look, it is good for people to listen.
Then he said to me,
"Don't act so accomplished, friend.
What is the point of giving water to a bird
at the dawn of its slaughter in the morning?"

1 comment:

Sixty Grit said...

I always thought "phlegmatic" meant something else.