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History of Egypt

Egyptian civilization has flourished continuously since prehistoric times. While the
civilization's rulers,

writing, natural climate, religion and borders have changed many times over the
millennia, Egypt still exists as

a modern-day country.

The civilization has always been strongly connected with other parts of the world,
bringing in and exporting goods, religions, food, people and ideas. At times ancient
Egypt ruled territory outside the modern-day country's border, controlling territory in
what is now Sudan, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Palestine.

The country was also occupied by other powers the Persians, Nubians,
Greeks and Romans all conquered the country at different points in time. A number of
names were used for Egypt in ancient times. A popular ancient name for Egypt was
"Kemet," which means the "black land." Scholars generally believe that this name
derives from the fertile soil that is left over when the Nile flood recedes in August.

The flooding of the Nile occurred between June and August and the fertile soil it created
was vital to ancient Egypts survival, with fertility playing an important role in Egyptian
religion. The burial of Tutankhamun in which his penis was mummified erect is but
one example of how important fertility was in the rituals and beliefs of the ancient

The country's ancient rulers are referred to today as "pharaohs," although in

ancient times they each used a series of names as part of a royal titular, wrote Ronald
Leprohon, an Egyptology professor at the University of Toronto, in his book "The Great
Name: Ancient Egyptian Royal Titulary" (Society of Biblical Literature, 2013). The word
pharaoh actually originates from the term "per-aa" which means "the Great House,"
Leprohon wrote. The term was first incorporated into a royal titulary during the rule of
Thutmose III (reign ca. 14791425 B.C.) wrote Leprohon.

When exactly early hominids first arrived in Egypt is unclear. The earliest
migration of hominids out of Africa took place almost 2 million years ago,
with modern humans dispersing out of Africa about 100,000 years ago. Egypt
may have been used to reach Asia in some of these migrations.
Villages dependent on agriculture began to appear in Egypt about 7,000 years
ago, and the civilizations earliest written inscriptions date back about 5,200
years; they discuss the early rulers of Egypt. These early rulers include Iry-Hor,
who, according to recently discovered inscriptions, founded Memphis, a city that
served as Egypts capital for much of its history. When and how Egypt was united
is unclear and is a matter of debate among archaeologists and historians.

Egypts climate was much wetter in prehistoric times than it is today. This means
that some areas that are now barren desert were fertile. One famous
archaeological site where this can be seen is at the "cave of swimmers" (as it is
called today) on the Gilf Kebir plateau in southwest Egypt. The cave is now
surrounded by miles of barren desert; however, it has rock art showing what
some scholars interpret as people swimming. The exact date of the rock art is
unclear, although scholars think that it was created in prehistoric times.

Egypt's 30 dynasties
Egypts history has traditionally been divided into 30 (sometimes 31) dynasties.
This tradition started with the Egyptian priest Manetho, who lived during the third
century B.C. His accounts of ancient Egyptian history were preserved by ancient
Greek writers and, until the deciphering of hieroglyphic writing in the 19 th century,
were one of the few historical accounts that scholars could read.

Modern-day scholars often group these dynasties into several periods. Dynasties
one and two date back around 5,000 years and are often called the "early
dynastic" or "archaic" period. The first pharaoh of the first dynasty was a ruler
named Menes (or Narmer, as he is called in Greek). He lived over 5,000 years
ago, and while ancient writers sometimes credited him as being the first pharaoh
of a united Egypt we know today that this is not true there was a group of
Egyptian rulers that predated Menes. Scholars sometimes refer to these pre-
Menes rulers as being part of a "dynasty zero."

Dynasties 3-6 date from roughly 26502150 B.C. and are often lumped into a
time period called the "Old Kingdom" by modern-day scholars. During this
time pyramid building techniques were developed and the pyramids of Giza were

From 21502030 B.C. (a time period that encompassed dynasties 7-10 and part
of the 11) the central government in Egypt was weak and the country was often
controlled by different regional leaders. Why the Old Kingdom collapsed is a
matter of debate among scholars, with recent research indicating
that drought and climate change played a significant role. During this time other
cities and civilizations in the Middle East also collapsed, with evidence at
archaeological sites indicating that a period of drought and arid climate hit sites
across the Middle East.

Dynasties 12, 13, as well as part of the 11th are often called the "Middle Kingdom"
by scholars and lasted from ca. 20301640 B.C. At the start of this dynasty, a
ruler named Mentuhotep II (who reigned until about 2000 B.C.) reunited Egypt
into a single country. Pyramid building resumed in Egypt, and a sizable number
of texts documenting the civilizations literature and science were recorded.
Among the surviving texts is the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus, which includes a
variety of medical treatments that modern-day medical doctors have hailed as
being advanced for their time.

Dynasties 14-17 are often lumped into the "second intermediate period" by
modern-day scholars. During this time central government again collapsed in
Egypt, with part of the country being occupied by the "Hyksos" a group from the
Levant (an area that encompasses modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon,
Jordan and Syria). One gruesome find from this time period is a series
of severed hands, cut off from their human victims, which were found at a palace
at the city of Avaris, the capital of Hyksos-controlled Egypt. The cut-off hands
may have been presented by soldiers to a ruler in exchange for gold.

Scholars often refer to dynasties 18-20 as encompassing the "New Kingdom," a

period that lasted ca. 15501070 B.C. This time period takes place after the
Hyksos had been driven out of Egypt by a series of Egyptian rulers and the
country was reunited. Perhaps the most famous archaeological site from this
time period is the Valley of the Kings, which holds the burial sites of many
Egyptian rulers from this time period, including that of Tutankhamun (reign ca.
13361327 B.C.), whose rich tomb was found intact

Dynasties 21-24 (a period from ca. 1070713 B.C.) are often called the "third
intermediate period" by modern-day scholars. The central government was
sometimes weak during this time period and the country was not always united.
During this time cities and civilizations across the Middle East had been
destroyed by a wave of people from the Aegean, whom modern-day scholars
sometimes call the "Sea Peoples." While Egyptian rulers claimed to have
defeated the Sea Peoples in battle, it didnt prevent Egyptian civilization from
also collapsing. The loss of trade routes and revenue may have played a role in
the weakening of Egypts central government.

Dynasties 25-31 (date ca. 712332 B.C.) are often referred to as the "late period"
by scholars. Egypt was sometimes under the control of foreign powers during this
period. The rulers of the 25th dynasty were from Nubia, an area now located in
southern Egypt and northern Sudan. The Persians and Assyrians also controlled
Egypt at different times during the late period.

In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great drove the Persians out of Egypt and
incorporated the country into the Macedonian Empire. After Alexander the
Greats death, a line of rulers descended from Ptolemy Soter, one of Alexanders
generals. The last of these "Ptolemaic" rulers (as scholars often call them)
was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide in 30 B.C after the defeat of her forces
by the Roman emperor Augustus at the Battle of Actium. After her death, Egypt
was incorporated into the Roman Empire.

Although the Roman emperors were based in Rome, the Egyptians treated them
as pharaohs. One recently excavated carving shows the emperor Claudius (reign
A.D. 41-54) dressed as a pharaoh. The carving has hieroglyphic inscriptions that
say that Claudius is the "Son of Ra, Lord of the Crowns," and is "King of Upper
and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands."

Neither the Ptolemaic or Roman rulers are considered to be part of a numbered


Egyptian Culture

Egyptian people are generally very helpful, so tourists rarely have trouble finding
assistance with directions or recommendations. It is not unusual for an entire
crowd of Egyptians to surround you trying to answer a query. They stand very
close when speaking, requiring very little personal space. Egyptians are
accustomed to refusing every invitation the first time it was offered, so if your
offer is genuine, repeat it a second time. The same goes with invitations from
Egyptian people. They will offer something once out of politeness, but you know
the offer is sincere if it is repeated. If you accept an invitation into an Egyptian
home, such as for a meal, and you do not show, the hosts would be humiliated.


Egypt has a population of about 67 million people. The official language is Arabic.
About 99 percent of the Egyptian population comes from Eastern Hamitic
backgrounds. This includes ancient Egyptian descendants, Bedouins and
Berbers. The remaining 1 percent is comprised of Greek, Nubian, Armenian,
Italian and French ethnicity. The majority of the Egyptian population is
concentrated around the Nile River Valley and the Nile Delta. A good estimate is
that about half the population is from peasantry, while the other half are rich or
socially elite. Citizens living in rural areas are mostly peasants earning a living
through farming. Egypt's prime location, straddling from North Africa across the
Suez Canal into Asia, makes it the center of the Arab world. It is often thought to
be the intellectual leader of the Middle East, having been the first to open up to
communications with the Western world.


About 90 percent of the Egyptian population are Sunni Muslims, 8 percent are
Coptic Christians and the remaining 2 percent are Jewish or of other Christian
denominations. The Islamic values are fundamental in personal and political
aspects for all citizens, including Christians. Egyptians have strong family values
and are expected to be faithful to members of their nuclear and extended
families. Most businesses are closed on Fridays, the Muslim holy day, with some
also closed on Thursdays. Egyptian Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan
and are only allowed to work for six hours each day. While not required to fast
during Ramadan, Christians are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in
public. The major mosques are open to tourists, except during religious services.
All guests are expected to remove their shoes before entering any religious


Egypt is the most progressive country in the Middle East is the field of media.
Journalism, film, television, music and the arts are of supreme importance in
Egyptian culture. Egypt has a press that is basically free, especially when
compared to the censorship applied in other Arab nations. The biggest
newspaper in the country is called "Al Ahram," but other papers are also
distributed. Egypt's radio broadcasting system transmits programs throughout the
Arab world in Arabic, English, French and other languages. Egyptian television is
controlled by the government, with five national television channels. Egypt is the
only Arab country with a movie industry and has been making movies since the
1930s. Egypt is also home to live entertainment venues, such as the Cairo Opera
House, National Puppet Theater, Pocket Theater and National Symphony. The
country has several museums that boast the ancient art traditions and has
produced a Nobel prize winner in literature.

Women and Clothing

Women in Egypt are expected to be conservative and modest, in following with the
Islamic principles for women. Unknown men should never approach an Egyptian
women; instead questions and concerns should be addressed toward other men. A
large percentage of Egyptian women maintain their virginity until marriage, because
virginity is seen as a sign of morality and men prefer to marry virgin women. Women are
educated and often the pride of her parents until she is married. Women are widely
present within the professional workforce, working as doctors, lawyers, college
professors and diplomats. Women often wear a head scarf as a symbol of modesty and
to discourage male advances in the professional field. They are expected to keep their
arms and legs covered, especially in religious arenas.

1- Writing

The Ancient Egyptians invented writing and were the first people who used the
pen and sheets of papyrus to register everyday activity.

2- Easter holiday

The Ancient Egyptians were the first to celebrate Easter and they used to colour
eggs at Easter time.

3- The Calendar

The Ancient Egyptians had divided the year into seasons that consisted of 365
days. Two lasting Calendar scenes can still be seen today, one in Abydos Temple and
the other at Kom-Ombo Temple. There is also a calendar masterpiece on display at the
Louvre Museum in Paris.

4- Surgical instruments

The Ancient Egyptians invented several surgical instruments to use in medical

operations and the famous scene of surgical instruments in Kom-Ombo Temple shows
the similarity between their surgical instruments and ones used today including forceps
to aid the delivery of babies.

5- The Wedding Ring

Well that might surprise some people but the fact of the matter is giving a bride a
ring on their wedding day was indeed an Ancient Egyptian tradition and of course now
practised worldwide.

6- Music

We have learned from several artistic scenes in the Valley of the Nobles on the
West bank of Luxor city that Music and dancing played an important part to entertain
and amuse them.

7- Social Drinking (Wine & Beer)

Beer was the official drink of all Ancient Egyptians while wine was the drink of
Royalties. Ancient Egyptians made their beer of barley while their wine was made out of
grapes and apples. A tomb of a brewer who served an ancient Egyptian court more than
3,000 years ago has just been discovered in Luxor.
The man buried in it was head of beer production, archaeologists say.

8- Wrapping the dead body in Linen.

The Ancient Egyptians used to wrap their mummified bodies in white linen before
they buried them; surprisingly this is still the same tradition in modern Egypt, as the
dead body must be wrapped in white linen before being buried.

9- Wrestling

One of the most important sporting scenes that had been represented in Beni-
Hassan Tombs in El Minya City (Middle of Egypt 300Km south of Cairo) shows how the
Ancient Egyptians were passionate about the Wrestling sport.

10- Astrology
The Temple of Dandara north of Luxor city contains the famous Zodiac scene
that has the scorpion and the balance among other Horoscopic astrology figures.
Religious Belief

Egypt is a very dry country and because of this fact, what was buried
underground managed to survive. Amongst Egypts remains, the pyramids teach us a
great deal about the worlds oldest civilization. A large number of books have been
written on ancient Egypts religion, and they not only explain the basic concepts of
religion but inform us about their gods and goddesses. In ancient Egypt, there was this
belief that after death there is another life. Because of this, they prepare themselves
really well for the afterlife. From the mummies found in the tombs, we get a clear picture
of how the Egyptians took good care of the deceased bodies. Apart from this belief,
ancient Egyptians had a number of gods and goddesses in which they believed in.
Egyptian art proves all this. Each god had names and of course the dominance of each
god depended on the beliefs of the reigning pharaoh. Each god had five names and
each was associated with an element such as air. Not all the gods were worshipped in
the same location. This of course depended on the location the king in power wanted
his capital to be. As noticed before, kings were an integral part of Egypts religion. These
are some of ancient Egypts gods:

The creator of all things Ra, Atum, Ptah, Khnum or Aten. They were the most
powerful gods.

The god of heavens Bat and Horus

Earth god Geb

The god of inundation (the yearly flooding of the Nile River) Hapy

The god of chaos (storms, evil and confusion) Seth

The god of embalming (preserving a dead body) and the dead Anubis

The protective goddess Bastet and Isis

The protector of pregnant women, newborn babies and the families Bes and

The goddess of love and joy Hathor

The god of creation, the movement of the sun and rebirth Khepri

The goddess of truth, justice and harmony Maat

The goddess of the dead Nephthys and Osiris (she was also the ruler of the

The god of craftsmen Ptah

The goddess of war Sekhmet

The goddess of writing and measurements Seshat

The god of air Shu

The god of the Nile Sobek

The goddess of moisture Tefnut

The god of writing and knowledge Theth

Traditional Beliefs

1. The religion of the Ancient Egyptians was extremely important to them and
touched every aspect of their life.

2. The religion of Ancient Egypt was a polytheistic religion (with many gods).

3. The Ancient Egyptian Gods numbered nearly 2000.

4. The Ancient Egyptian Priests evolved a creation myth, or cosmogny, to explain

how some of the Gods and Goddesses came into being and the the nature and
genesis of the universe

5. Statues of the Gods - Statues of the Gods and Goddesses were believed in the
Ancient Egyptian religion to be living embodiments of the deities. The statues
were revered and offered prayers together with physical items such as food and
drink. The statues were washed, oiled and adorned with make-up, jewelry and

6. Divine Kingship - The Egyptian Pharaohs were also believed to be living Gods in
the Ancient Egyptian religion

7. Pharaohs believed that they became gods in the afterlife

8. The Ennead is the collective name given to the nine original deities (Gods and
Goddesses) of the cosmogony of Heliopolis (the birthplace of the Gods) in the
creation myths and legends of the Ancient Egyptians.
9. The Male Gods featured in the Ancient Egyptian Ennead were Geb, Osiris, Seth,

10. The Goddesses featured in the Ennead were Isis, Nephthys, Nut, Tefnut

11. Egyptian Gods or Goddesses were often depicted as being part human and part

12. Only the Pharaoh and the Priests were allowed inside the temple

13. Egyptian Gods were offered various gifts, which were accepted by the priests
who offered prayers on behalf of the donor

14. Animal Cults - The Egyptians believed that the Spirit of a God resided in specific
animals leading to various animal cults in which these animals would be revered
and worshipped as reincarnated Gods during their lifetimes.

The Peasant who became King

The Two Brothers--Peasant Life--The Temptress--Wrath of Anpu--Attempt to slay
his Brother--Flight of Bata--Elder Brother undeceived--Kills his Wife--Bata hides
his Soul--His Wife--Sought by the King--Bata's Soul Blossom destroyed--Wife
becomes a Queen--Recovery of Lost Soul--Bata as a Bull--Slaughtered for the
Queen--Bata a Tree--Bata reborn as Son of his Wife--The King who slew his Wife--
mother--Belief in Transmigration of Souls.

THERE were once two brothers, and they were sons of the same father and
of the same mother. Anpu was the name of the elder, and the younger was called
Bata. Now Anpu had a house of his own, and he had a wife. His brother lived with
him as if he were his son, and made garments for him. It was Bata who drove the
oxen to the field, it was he who ploughed the land, and it was he who harvested
the grain. He laboured continually upon his brother's farm, and his equal was not
to be found in the land of Egypt; he was imbued with the spirit of a god.

In this manner the brothers lived together, and many days went past. Each
morning the younger brother went forth with the oxen, and when evening came on he
drove them again to the byre, carrying upon his back a heavy burden of fodder which he
gave to the animals to eat, and he brought with him also milk and herbs for Anpu and
his wife. While these two ate and drank together in the house, Bata rested in the byre
with the cattle and he slept beside them.

When day dawned, and the land grew bright again, the younger brother was first
to rise up, and he baked bread for Anpu and carried his own portion to the field and ate
it there. As he followed the oxen he heard and he understood their speech. They would
say: "Yonder is sweet herbage", and he would drive them to the place of their choice,
whereat they were well pleased. They were indeed noble animals, and they increased

The time of ploughing came on, and Anpu spake unto Bata, saying: "Now get ready the
team of oxen, for the Nile flood is past and the land may be broken up. We shall begin
to plough on the morrow; so carry seed to the field that we may sow it."

As Anpu desired, so did Bata do. When the next day dawned, and the land grew
bright, the two brothers laboured in the field together, and they were well pleased with
the work which they accomplished. Several days went past in this manner, and it
chanced that on an afternoon the seed was finished ere they had completed their day's

Anpu thereupon spake to his younger brother saying: "Hasten to the granary and
procure more seed."

Bata ran towards the house, and entered it. He beheld his brother's wife sitting
upon a mat, languidly pleating her hair.

"Arise," he said, "and procure corn for me, so that I may hasten back to the field
with it. Delay me not."

The woman sat still and said: "Go thou thyself and open the storeroom. Take
whatsoever thou dost desire. If I were to rise for thee, my hair would fall in disorder."

Bata opened the storeroom and went within. He took a large basket and poured
into it a great quantity of seed. Then he came forth carrying the, basket through the

The woman looked up and said: "What is the weight of that great burden of

Bata answered: "There are two measures of barley and three of wheat. I carry in
all upon my shoulders five measures of seed."

"Great indeed is thy strength," sighed the woman. "Ah, thee do I contemplate and
admire each day!"

Her heart was moved towards him, and she stood up saying: "Tarry here with me.
I will clothe thee in fine raiment."

The lad was made angry as the panther, and said: "I regard thee as a mother,
and my brother is like a father unto me. Thou hast spoken evil words and I desire not to
hear them again, nor will I repeat unto any man what thou hast just spoken."
He departed abruptly with his burden and hastened to the field, where he
resumed his labour.

At eventide Anpu returned home and Bata prepared to follow after him. The elder
brother entered his house and found his wife lying there, and it seemed as if she had
suffered violence from an evildoer. She did not give him water to wash his hands, as
was her custom. Nor did she light the lamp. The house was in darkness. She moaned
where she lay, as if she were in sickness, and her garment was beside her.

"Who hath been here?" asked Anpu, her husband.

The woman answered him: "No one came nigh me save thy younger brother. He
spoke evil words unto me, and I said: 'Am I not as a mother, and is not thine elder
brother as a father unto thee?' Then was he angry, and he struck me until I promised
that I would not inform thee. . . . Oh I if thou wilt allow him to live now, I shall surely die."

The elder brother became like an angry panther. He sharpened his dagger and
went out and stood behind the door of the byre with purpose to slay young Bata when he came

The sun had gone down when the lad drove the oxen into the byre, carrying on
his back fodder and herbs, and in one hand a vessel of milk, as was his custom each

The first ox entered the byre, and then it spoke to Bata, saying: "Beware I for
thine elder brother is standing behind the door. In his hand is a dagger, and he desires
to slay thee. Draw not nigh unto him."

The lad heard with understanding what the animal had said. Then the second ox
entered and went to its stall, and spake likewise words of warning, saying: "Take speedy

Bata peered below the byre door, and he saw the legs of his brother, who stood
there with a dagger in his hand. He at once threw down his burden and made hurried
escape. Anpu rushed after him furiously with the sharp dagger.

In his sore distress the younger brother cried unto the sun god Ra-Harmachis,
saying: "O blessed lord! thou art he who distinguisheth between falsehood and truth."

The god heard his cry with compassion, and turned round. 1 He caused a wide
stream to flow between the two brothers, and, behold! it was full of crocodiles. Then it
came that Anpu and Bata stood confronting one another, one upon the right bank and
the other upon the left. The elder brother twice smote his hands with anguish because
that he could not slay the youth.
Bata called out to Anpu, saying: "Tarry where thou art until the earth is made
bright once again. Lo! When Ra, the sun god, riseth up, I shall reveal in his presence all
that I know, and he shall judge between us, discerning what is false and what is
true. . . . Know thou that I may not dwell with thee any longer, for I must depart unto the
fair region of the flowering acacia."

When day dawned, and the sun god Ra appeared in his glory, the two brothers
stood gazing one upon the other across the stream of crocodiles. Then the lad spake to
his elder brother, saying: "Why didst thou come against me, desiring to slay me with
treachery ere yet I had spoken for myself? Am I not thy younger brother, and hast thou
not been as a father and thy wife as a mother unto me? Hear and know now that when I
hastened to procure seed thy wife spoke, saying: 'Tarry thou with me.' But this
happening hath been related unto thee in another manner."

So spoke Bata, and he told his brother what was true regarding the woman. Then
he called to witness the sun god, and said: "Great was thy wickedness in desiring to
murder me by treachery." As he spoke he cut off a piece of his flesh and flung it into the
stream, where it was devoured by a fish. He sank fainting upon the bank.

Anpu was stricken with anguish; tears ran from his eyes. He desired greatly to be
beside his brother on the opposite bank of the stream of crocodiles.

Bata spoke again, saying: "Verily, thou didst desire an evil thing, but if thy desire
now is to do good, I shall instruct thee what thou shouldn't do. Return unto thy home
and tend thine oxen, for know now that I may not dwell with thee any longer, but must
depart unto the fair region of the flowering acacia. What thou shalt do is to come to seek
for me when I need thine aid, for my soul shall leave my body and have its dwelling in
the highest blossom of the acacia. When the tree is cut down, my soul will fall upon the
ground. There thou mayest seek it, even if thy quest be for seven years, for, verily, thou
shalt find it if such is thy desire. Thou must then place it in a vessel of water, and I shall
come to life again and reveal all that hath befallen and what shall happen thereafter.
When the hour cometh to set forth on the quest, behold! the beer given to thee will
bubble, and the wine will have a foul smell. These shall be as signs unto thee."

Then Bata took his departure, and he went into the valley of the flowering acacia,
which was across the ocean. His elder brother returned home. He lamented, throwing
dust upon his head. He slew his wife and cast her to the dogs, and abandoned himself
to mourning for his younger brother.

Many days went past, and Bata reached at length the valley of the flowering
acacia. He dwelt there alone and hunted wild beasts. At eventide he lay down to rest
below the acacia, in whose highest blossom his soul was concealed. In time he built a
dwelling place and he filled it with everything that he desired.
Now it chanced that on a day when he went forth he met the nine gods, who
were surveying the whole land. They spoke one to another and then asked of Bata why
he had forsaken his home because of his brother's wife, for she had since been slain.
"Return again," they said, "for thou didst reveal unto thine elder brother the truth of what
happened unto thee."

They took pity on the youth, and Ra spoke, saying: "Fashion now a bride for
Bata, so that he may not be alone."

Then the god Khnumu fashioned a wife whose body was more beautiful than
any other woman's in the land, because that she was imbued with divinity.

Then came the seven Hathors and gazed upon her. In one voice they spoke,
saying: "She shall surely die a speedy death."

Bata loved her dearly. Each day she remained in his house while he hunted wild
beasts, and he carried them home and laid them at her feet. He warned her each day,
saying: "Walk not outside, lest the sea may come up and carry thee away. I could not
rescue thee from the sea spirit, against whom I am as weak as thou art, because my
soul is concealed in the highest blossom of the flowering acacia. If another should find
my soul I must needs fight for it."

Thus he opened unto her his whole heart and revealed its secrets.

Many days went past. Then on a morning when Bata had gone forth to hunt, as
was his custom, his girl wife went out to walk below the acacia) which was nigh to the

Lo! the sea spirit beheld her in all her beauty and caused his billows to pursue
her. Hastily she fled away and returned to the house, whereat the sea spirit sang to the
acacia: "Oh, would she were mine!"

The acacia heard and cast to the sea spirit a lock of the girl wife's hair. The sea
bore it away towards the land of Egypt and unto the place where the washers of the
king cleansed the royal garments.

Sweet was the fragrance of the lock of hair, and it perfumed the linen of the king.
There were disputes among the washers because that the royal garments smelt of
ointment, nor could anyone discover the secret thereof. The king rebuked them.

Then was the heart of the chief washer in sore distress, because of the words
which were spoken daily to him regarding this matter. He went down to the seashore; he
stood at the place which was opposite the floating lock of hair, and he beheld it at length
and caused it to be carried unto him. Sweet was its fragrance, and he hastened with it
to the king.

Then the king summoned before him his scribes, and they speak, saying: "Lo!
this is a lock from the hair of the divine daughter of Ra, and it is gifted unto thee from a
distant land. Command now that messengers be sent abroad to seek for her. Let many
men go with the one who is sent to the valley of the flowering acacia so that they may
bring the woman unto thee".

The king answered and said: "Wise are your words, and they are pleasant unto

So messengers were sent abroad unto all lands. But those who journeyed to the
valley of the flowering acacia returned not, because that Bata slew them all; the king
had no knowledge of what befel them.

Then the king sent forth more messengers and many soldiers also, so that the
girl might be brought unto him. He sent also a woman, and she was laden with rare
ornaments . . . and the wife of Bata came back with her.

Then was there great rejoicing in the land of Egypt. Dearly did the king love the
divine girl, and he exalted her because of her beauty. He prevailed upon her to reveal
the secrets of her husband, and the king then said: "Let the acacia be cut down and
splintered in pieces."

Workmen and warriors were sent abroad, and they reached the acacia. They
severed from it the highest blossom, in which the soul of Bata was concealed. The
petals were scattered, and Bata dropped down dead.

A new day dawned, and the land grew bright. The acacia was then cut down.

Meanwhile Anpu, the elder brother of Bata., went into his house, and he sat down
and washed his hands. He was given beer to drink, and it bubbled, and the wine had a
foul smell.

He seized his staff, put on his shoes and his garment, and armed himself for his
journey, and departed unto the valley of the flowering acacia.

When he reached the house of Bata he found the young man lying dead upon a
mat. Bitterly he wept because of that. But he went out to search for the soul of his
brother at the place where, below the flowering acacia) Bata was wont to lie down to
rest at eventide. For three years he continued his search, and when the fourth year
came his heart yearned greatly to return to the land of Egypt. At length he said: "I shall
depart at dawn to-morrow."
A new day came, and the land grew bright. He looked over the ground again at
the place of the acacia for his brother's soul. The time was spent thus. In the evening he
continued his quest also, and he found a seed, which he carried to the house, and, lo!
the soul of his brother was in it. He dropped the seed into a vessel filled with cold water,
and sat down as was his custom at evening.

Night came on, and then the soul absorbed the water.

The limbs of Bata quivered and his eyes opened and gazed upon his elder
brother, but his heart was without feeling. Then Anpu raised the vessel which contained
the soul to the lips of Bata, and he drank the water. Thus did his soul return to its place,
and Bata was as he had been before.

The brothers embraced and spoke one to the other. Bata said: "Now I must
become a mighty bull with every sacred mark. None will know my secret. Ride thou upon my
back, and when the day breaks I shall be at the place where my wife is. Unto her must I speak.
Lead me before the king, and thou shalt find favour in his eyes. The people will wonder when
they behold me, and shout welcome. But thou must return unto thine own home."

A new day dawned, and the land grew bright. Bata was a bull, and Anpu sat upon
his back and they drew nigh to the royal dwelling. The king was made glad, and he said:
"This is indeed a miracle." There was much rejoicing throughout the land. Silver and
gold were given to the elder brother, and he went away to his own home and waited
there. In time the sacred bull stood in a holy place, and the beautiful girl wife was there.
Bata spoke unto her, saying: "Look thou upon me where I stand, for, lo! I am still alive."

Then said the woman: "And who art thou?"

The bull made answer: "Verily, I am Bata. It was thou who didst cause the acacia
to be cut down; it was thou who didst reveal unto Pharaoh that my soul had dwelling in
the highest blossom, so that it might be destroyed and I might cease to be. But, lo! I live
on, and I am become a sacred bull."

The woman trembled; fear possessed her heart whenBata spoke unto her in this
manner. She at once went out of the holy place.

It chanced that the king sat by her side at the feast, and made merry, for he loved
her dearly. She spoke, saying: "Promise before the god that thou wilt do what I ask of

His Majesty took a vow to grant her the wish of her heart, and she said: "It is my
desire to eat of the liver of the sacred bull, for he is naught to thee."

Sorrowful was the king then, and his heart was troubled, because of the words
which she spake. . . .
A new day dawned, and the land grew bright. Then the king commanded that the
bull should be offered in sacrifice.

One of the king's chief servants went out, and when the bull was held high upon
the shoulders of the people he smote its neck and it cast two drops of blood towards
the gate of the palace, and one drop fell upon the right side and one upon the left. There
grew up in the night two stately Persea trees from where the drops of blood fell down.

This great miracle was told unto the king, and the people rejoiced and made
offerings of water and fruit to the sacred trees.

A day came when his majesty rode forth in his golden chariot. He wore his collar
of lapis lazuli, and round his neck was a garland of flowers. The girl wife was with him,
and he caused her to stand below one of the trees, and it whispered unto her:

"Thou false woman, I am still alive. Lo! I am even Bata, whom thou didst wrong. It
was thou who didst cause the acacia to be cut down. It was thou who didst cause the
sacred bull to be slain, so that I might cease to be."

Many days went past, and the woman sat with the king at the feast, and he loved
her dearly. She spake, saying: "Promise now before the god that thou wilt do what I ask
of thee."

His Majesty made a vow of promise, and she said: "It is my desire that the
Persea trees be cut down so that two fair seats may be made of them."

As she desired, so was it done. The king commanded that the trees should be
cut down by skilled workmen, and the fair woman went out to watch them. As she stood
there, a small chip of wood entered her mouth, and she swallowed it.

After many days a son was born to her, and he was brought before the king, and
one said: "Unto thee a son is given."

A nurse and servants were appointed to watch over the babe.

There was great rejoicing throughout the land when the time came to name the
girl wife's son. The king made merry, and from that hour he loved the child, and he
appointed him Prince of Ethiopia.

Many days went past, and then the king chose him to be heir to the kingdom.

In time His Majesty fulfilled his years, and he died, and his soul flew to the
The new king (Bata) then said: "Summon before me the great men of my Court,
so that I may now reveal unto them all that hath befallen me and the truth concerning
the queen."

His wife was then brought before him. He revealed himself unto her, and she
was judged before the great men, and they confirmed the sentence.

Then Anpu was summoned before His Majesty, and he was chosen to be the
royal heir.

When Bata had reigned for thirty years, he came to his death, and on the day of
his burial his elder brother stood in his place.

The Happy Man

Intoxicated with this ecstasy, he savored it slowly and with a deep sense of
wonder about its mysterious source. There was nothing in his past to explain it or in his
future to justify it. How did it come? How long would it last? Oh no, this must be just a
fleeting mood which could never be permanent. For if it lasted forever, man would
become an angel and reach the world beyond. Let him enjoy it now, live with it, treasure
it, before it became a vague memory in the distant horizon.

He ate his breakfast with great appetite, looking from time to time with a bright,
smiling face at Am Beshir who was serving the food. The old man became increasingly
surprised and anxious, because his master did not normally look in his direction except
to give orders or ask questions. Then he said to him:

Tell me, Am Beshir, am I a happy man?"

The man was embarrassed, since the master was for the first time addressing
him as a companion or friend. After moments of uneasy silence, he replied:

"My master is happy with God's gifts and blessings."

"Do you mean that I must be happy with my excellent position, beautiful
apartment and good health? Is this what you mean? But do you really think I am a
happy man?"

"My master exerts himself beyond human endurance and often gets angry in
heated discussions with other people."
He interrupted him with a loud laugh and asked:

"What about you? Don't you have any worries?"

"Of course. Nobody lives without worries."

"Do you mean that perfect happiness is impossible?"

"Well, this is the nature of life." How could Beshir, or anybody else, imagine his
wonderful state of happiness? It was something strange and unique, as if it were his
own private secret of all people on Earth.

In the conference room at the newspaper, he saw his greatest rival in this world
turning the pages of a magazine. The man heard his footsteps but did not raise his
eyes. No doubt he somehow glanced quickly but tried to ignore him for his own peace of
mind. In regular meetings they often disagreed violently and exchanged the harshest
words until they were on the verge of fighting. And only last week he was shamefully
defeated by his rival in the union elections, which was a terrible blow to his pride that
filled him with bitterness and darkened his vision. But here he was now approaching his
enemy with a pure and carefree heart, intoxicated with that wonderful happiness,
overflowing with tolerance and forgiveness, as if he were another man who conveyed
the promise of a new friendship. And without feeling awkward, he smilingly greeted him.
Taken by surprise, the man raised his eyes in wonder and for moments remained silent
until he could collect himself and answer the greeting briefly, as if he did not believe his
eyes and ears. He sat close to him, saying:

"The weather is gorgeous today."

"Oh yes."

"It's the kind of weather that fills the heart with deep happiness." The man looked
at him cautiously and intently, then mumbled:

"I am glad that you're happy."

He said laughingly:

"It's happiness beyond comprehension."

The other replied hesitantly:

"I hope that I will not spoil your mood at the meeting of the editorial board today."
"Oh, never. My opinion is well known to everybody. But I don't mind if the
members accept your view."

"You have changed considerably overnight."

"In fact, I am happy beyond comprehension."

"I bet your son has changed his mind about staying in Canada for good."

He chuckled and said:

"No, my friend, he has not changed his decision."

But that was your greatest source of grief.

"Oh, yes. I have pleaded with him again and again to come back in order to
relieve my loneliness and serve his country. But he told me that he intended to start an
engineering business with a Canadian partner, and even invited me to join him there.
Let him live where he likes. But here I am--as you see--happy, unbelievably happy."

"This is unique courage on your part."

"I don't know what it is, but I am happy in the full sense of the word."

Yes, this was happiness, rich and touchable, firm like absolute power, free as the
air, violent as a flame, fascinating as the scent of flowers. Yet this unnatural feeling
could not last forever.

The other man, attracted by his friendliness, said amicably:

"In fact, I always regarded you as a man with a violent nature that caused you a
good deal of suffering."


"You don't know the meaning of compromise. You live intensely with your nerves,
with your whole being, fighting fiercely as if any problem were a matter of life or death."

He accepted this criticism tolerantly, as though it were a little wave in his infinite
ocean of happiness, and with a bright smile on his face, asked:

"Then, you believe that there should be some balance in my approach to

"Certainly. Take, for example, our discussion yesterday about racism. We share
the same opinion, and the issue is worthy of enthusiasm to the point of anger. But what
kind of anger? It should, in a sense, be intellectual, abstract anger. Not the anger that
would fray the nerves, cause indigestion and raise blood pressure. Right?"

"That is very clear to me now.

His heart would not release a single drop of its joys. Racism, Vietnam, Angola,
Palestine . . . no problem could invade the fortress of happiness which surrounded his
heart. Whenever he remembered a problem, his heart chuckled joyfully. It was, so to
speak, a gigantic happiness, indifferent to any misery, always smiling in the face of
suffering. He wished to laugh, to dance, to sing, spreading his infinite mirth over
problems of the world.

Suddenly he felt that the office was too small for him; he had no desire to work.
The mere thought of his daily work was treated with absolute indifference and contempt,
and he failed completely to bring his mind down from the heaven of bliss. How could he
write about the trolley bus which sank in the Nile, when he was intoxicated with all this
terrifying happiness? Yes, it was terrifying, coming as it did from nowhere, violent to the
point of exhaustion and paralyzing his will. Besides, it was now midday and the feeling
still possessed him without any sign of diminishing at all. He left his papers blank on the
desk and started pacing his room, laughing and snapping his fingers.

He had a moment of anxiety which did not sink deeply inside him, but floated as
an abstract thought on the surface of the mind. It occurred to him to recall deliberately
the tragedies of his life in order to test their effect on his present mood, hoping they
might help him regain some equanimity or at least reassure him that this happiness
might eventually fade away. He recreated in his memory, for example, the death of his
wife with all its tragic circumstances. But the event seemed to him as a series of
movements without meaning or effect, as if it happened to another woman, the wife of
another man, in a remote age of ancient history. The recollection even had a pleasant
effect on him so that he smiled and could not help laughing.

The same thing happened when he remembered the first letter he received from
his son, declaring his intention to emigrate to Canada. And when he started to review
mentally the bloody tragedies of the world, his chuckles became so loud they might
have been heard in the other offices or even in the street. Nothing could touch his
happiness. The memories of grief floated softly like gentle waves touching the sands of
the shore. Then he left his office and the whole building, without a note of apology for
not attending the editorial meeting. After lunch, he went to bed for the usual nap, but felt
that sleep was impossible. There was no sign of its approach in this bright, boisterous
world of joy that kept him wide awake. He must have some rest and tranquility, some
inertia, some numbness in his senses. But how? Finally he left his bed and started
humming a tune while pacing his apartment back and forth. And he said to himself that if
this state of mind and feeling lasted longer, he would become totally incapable of sleep
or work or grief. It was time to go to the club, but he did not feel like meeting any of his
friends. There was no sense in these endless talks about public affairs or private
worries. And what would his friends think of him if they found him laughing at the most
serious matters? No, he did not need anybody; he had no desire for conversation.

It was essential for him to sit by himself or walk for miles to release some of this
tremendous energy. He must think deeply of what happened to him. How did this fabulous
happiness assault him? For how long could he carry this intolerable burden? Will this feeling
deprive him forever of his work and friends, of his sleep and peace of mind? Should he yield to it
and drift with the current? Or should he seek an outlet, through mental effort, strenuous work or
professional advice?

He felt very lonely in the company of this overwhelming happiness, without a

friend or guide to help him. Suddenly he remembered there was the office of a
psychiatrist across the street. But he did not trust psychiatrists. Besides, he knew quite
well that their treatment extended over long periods of time, so that they became almost
constant companions of their patients. And he laughed when he remembered their
method of free association to reveal the neuroses buried in the subconscious mind.
While his feet were leading him to the doctor's office, he was still laughing, especially as
he visualized the man listening to his strange complaint of happiness, when he usually
listened to people complaining of hysteria, depression, anxiety or schizophrenia.

"To tell you the truth, doctor, I came to you because I am happy beyond

And he looked at his face to see the effect of his words, but the doctor kept his calm.
Hardly had he started to tell his story when the man stopped him with a gesture of his
hand, and asked quietly:

"It is an overwhelming, strange, exhausting sort of happiness?"

He looked at him in amazement and was about to say something when the doctor

"It's happiness that would make you incapable of work, tired of friends and unable to
sleep. And whenever you face any suffering you burst out laughing."

"You must be a mind-reader."

"Oh no, nothing of this sort, but I see similar cases at least once a week."

"Is it an epidemic?
"I didn't say that. I don't even claim that I have been able, so far, to trace a single case
to its original cause."

"But it's a disease?"

"All the cases are still under treatment."

"But you are convinced they are all abnormal?"

"Well, in our field this is a necessary hypothesis."

"Did you observe a sign of insanity or emotional disturbance in any of them?" he

asked anxiously. And he pointed to his head in fear, but the doctor said with certainty:

"No. I assure you they are all sane in the proper sense of the word. But you will
need two sessions every week. You shouldn't worry or grieve. . . ."

Worry, grief? He smiled and the smile widened on his face until he burst out
laughing. Then his resistance collapsed completely and he could not control his tears.