Monday, April 16, 2012

Confessions 16-20

Confession 16.O Eater of Entrails who came forth from the Council of Thirsty. I have not robbed/destroyed a parcel of (crop)land.
This is confession could be seen one of two ways. Literally, not destroying (or possibly wasting) food or as not destroying the work and/or property that allows another to maintain a livelihood. Either way, it has a similar meaning of not being destructive. Eater of Entrails is an interesting title as it is almost exactly the same as a title given to Ammut. She is called Eater of Bodies and Eater of Souls. However, she who gives council to the thirsty is Anqet, goddess of the Aswan area, dispenser of cool water and wife of Khnum. Satis, Anqet's daughter, an archery goddess is also associated with alleviating thirst. I am not aware of any associations between Satis or Anqet and Ammut but it is possible that there is one. All three goddesses have associations to crocodiles. Crocodiles are also associated with croplands.
Confession 17. O Lord of Truth who came forth from the Hall of Two Truths, I have not discussed secrets.
This one is remarkably straightforward compared to others. The Lord of Truth who comes from the Hall of Two Truths is Thoth. This is a title he is given in papyri. I have not discussed secrets refers, in my opinion to two things, eavesdropping and telling to others those things you have been trusted to keep secret. Basically these are about keeping oaths and promises.

Confession 18. O Strayer who came from Bubastis, I have brought no lawsuits.
 The "Strayer" is likely Ptah. Named the ancient one, Ptah was known to be the first of the gods to wander the Earth after it rose from the water. The confession itself has some items that are only understood when we consider the direct translation which is not lawsuit but "Not have I set my mouth in motion against others". This direct reading is about false accusations. I have not falsely accused others. We could think of this confession as also being similar to all the false lawsuits we often see in the news but it is also about our personal claims as well.

Confession 19. O Planter who came forth from Heliopolis, I have not disputed without just cause.
This confession is an addition to the previous one. Not only have I not made false claims but I have also not caused disputes without just cause. Just cause is something that requires a more detailed understanding of Egyptian society and culture than I am going to give here. However, any good book that addressed Egyptian culture would work. The book The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness Ancient Egypt by Jon E Lewis would be a good source for a general overview. Planter who came forth from Heliopolis could be either Atum as a god of fertility, since Heliopolis was originally called Per-Atum. It could also refer to Osiris who is known to come forth from Heliopolis and so has Hapi, both are vegetation related gods who come forth on occasion from Heliopolis. Any of these three would make sense though given the confession it might be more likely to be Osiris.

Confession 20. O Doubly Evil One who came forth from Busirite Nome, I have not had intercourse with a married woman.
The Busirite Nome is one of the places that it is believed the children of Nut were born. The doubly evil could refer to Set. Other gods and goddesses are at times listed as being born in this location too. It is hard to say which one this might refer to.  Though this confession says woman it is meant to express not having intercourse with any married individual male or female. It is important to remember that most of the speakers in the copies of the Book of the Dead are males so we must consider gender in defining this one. If it were a woman's tomb it would likely read "I have not had intercourse with a married man."

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