Literature In the Life of Ancient Egypt

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The Story of Sinuhe

The Story of Sinuhe

Ancient Egyptian literature comprises texts written in the Egyptian language during the pharaonic period of Egypt.

Writing first appeared in association with kingship on labels and tags for items found in royal tombs. By the Old Kingdom, this tradition of writing had evolved into the tomb autobiography, such as those of Harkhuf and Weni.

The genre known as Sebayt (Instructions) was developed to communicate teachings and guidance from famous nobles; the Ipuwer papyrus, a poem of lamentations describing natural disasters and social upheaval, is an extreme example of such an instruction.

During the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom, the prose style of literature matured, with The Story of Sinuhe perhaps being the classic of Egyptian literature.

Also written at this time was the Westcar Papyrus, a set of stories told to Khufu by his sons relating the marvels performed by priests.

Towards the end of the New Kingdom, the Story of Wenamun was written.

It tells the story of a noble who is robbed on his way to buy cedar from Lebanon and of his struggle to return to Egypt; the text also shows the end of united Egypt and the start of the tumultuous Third Intermediate Period.


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