Remembering Sinuhe and the Women of Sidon
Written by
Categories: Ancient

Remembering Sinuhe and the Women of Sidon

Egyptian scribes liked to tell the story of Sinuhe, who would have lived around 2000 BCE but is only known through this tale, which is translated by Jenny Carrington and J.J. Herst. Even though it may be a work of fiction, it is one of very few texts in which an Egyptian warrior speaks about his work.

There came a hero of Syria
who challenged me in my tent
He was an unrivalled champion,
Who had prevailed over the entire region
He said he would fight me,
He intended to smite me,
He planned to carry off my cattle before the council of his clan

I went to rest, tied my bow, sharpened my arrows,
Whetted the blade of my dagger, arrayed my weapons
At dawn Syria came, it roused its people,
It assembled the hill-lands on either side,
For it knew of this fight
He came toward me as I stood
And I placed myself next to him
Every heart was burning for me
Women and men pounding
Every mind was willing me on,
‘is there any hero that can fight against him?’

And then his shield, his dagger, his armour, his holder of spears fell,
As I approached his weapons
I made my face dodge
And his weapons were wasted as nothing
Each piled on the next
Then he made his charge against me
He imagined he would strike my arm
As he moved over me, I shot him,
My arrow lodged in his neck,
He cried out, and fell on his nose,
I felled him with his dagger
I uttered my war-cry on his back,
Every Asiatic lowing
I gave praise to Montu
As his servants mourned for him

This ruler Amunenshi took me into his embrace,
Then I brought away his goods, I carried off his cattle,
What he had planned to do to me, I did to him,
I seized what was in his camp, and uncovered his tent
There I was in greatness, I was broad in my standing,
I enjoyed wealth in cattle

More than a thousand years later, someone in Babylonia was reading a chronicle and stopped for a moment to copy a few entries onto a clay tablet. That copy has survived while the longer work it was part of has been lost.

Chronicle of Artaxerxes III, transcription Grayson (in Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles), translation Manning

The fourteenth year of Umasu, who is called by the name Artaxerxes, 7th month: The captives, who the king captured [in the land of Si]don, [came] to Babylon and Susa.

The same month, 13th day: The few troops [… out of] their middle entered Babylon.

16th day: The weak/noble women, captives of the land of Sidon which the king had sent to Babylon, on this day they entered the palace of the king.

paypal logo
patreon logo

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.