It means, that L. Reinisch knew the content – and the plot – of the Tale of Two Brothers from the Papyrus d’Orbiney very well. However, it is strange that he found this Ancient Egyptian tale in Mueller’s “Geschichte zweier Brüder”, not in his “Treue wird belohnt”. May, be, he didn’t know about the second tale? Or did not pay attention to it because its title didn’t mention “zwei Brüder’ as its main characters, too.

The plot of the Ancient Egyptian Two Brothers tale which it essentially built around the relationship within an abstract “family” which – in a strange way – is containing “only” from the two full brothers – “of the same father and mother”* – and a wife of the elder brother.

The Ancient Egyptian tale says nothing about the brothers’ family: their father, mother, unсles, another kinfolk, or their tribe (as well as there is nothing about the family and kinship of the wife). There is also no information about the place they are living, their neigbours, and their contacts (or clients of their business). The tale only says that the elder brother was “like a father”* to the younger one as well as he “made clothes for him”**. From his side, the younger brother was making all the farm work – and he was the best one – “(none like him) in the entire land”.* But there are no characters in the tale who articulates this high estimation.

The brothers have a herd of cows (quite a rich property) and they have also a pasture for these cows, but the tale also does not say how they have got this property. Most likely, they should have received it as an inheritance. But we also do not find an evidence for this in the text.

The tale doesn’t point out what is the younger brother’s age. The age of the elder brother is also never indicated. The difference in age between the brother is not clear, too.

We also have no information how old the elder brother was when he got married and how long he was married in the beginning of the tale. We can only suppose, that either he is married not so long ago, because he – so in the tale – has no children with his wife or vice versa he is married already for years (that is quite unusual for the folklore which loves children to be born from men and their wifes). In ancient societies the relation of the people to the “infertility” of the woman-wife was negative. From a modern point of view, we might try to “rehabilitate partly” the wife character from this tale, the motive of which could be more than just a hankering for a young person of the opposite sex, but also the result of her dissatisfaction in the marital relationship and / or her natural desire of proving her “fertility” in such an illegal manner. However, the tale points directly to the criminality of the motion of the wife, her understanding of the criminality of this motion and her criminal attempt to protect herself from a deserved punishment by destroying the victim of her desire, who is at the same time the only witness of her crime.

So, we have an exposition – the initial situation – of the story, a peaceful life of an abstract “two-brothers’ ” family of farmers in an unknown countryside and the initial conflict – the false attempt of the elder brother’s wife to seduce the younger brother and a successful slander against him encouraging the elder brother to crack down on with the younger, and this is a trigger of the whole story.

This initial conflict which – in a real world – must have been resolved with the unjust execution of a younger brother from the hand of his elder brother (according to the prehistoric and ancient common law), is resolved, on the contrary and with the help of the Almighty Ra-Horakhty – “Ra (who is) Horus of the Horizons”, “only” in the loss of the younger brother of his genitalia (self-castration of the younger brother to prove his innocence). This makes the story unfinished and leaves the door opened to some (any) further developments of the narrative necessary toward the punishment of the wife-seductress and the final achievement of the highest social status by the both brothers – the elder after the younger.

However, the brothers in the Ancient Egyptian tale have from the very beginning proper names, which are, in fact, the names of the Gods: Anupu (Anubis) is the name of the elder brother and Bata – the name of the younger brother.


Bat (Bata)

In the text of the Tale of Two Brothers the Pharaoh is also mentioned, however not as a ruler of the land of these two brothers. The Pharaoh emerged only as the ruler of Egypt – one of the characters of the tale: the Pharaoh orders his servants to bring to him a woman (Bata’s wife who he have got in the Land of Cedar, or the Valley of the Pine) a beautiful curl of whos hair the sea brings to the Egyptian coasts.

On the one hand, the Pharaoh, who appears in the second part of the tale, acts as another important character of the tale – the supreme ruler and a fair judge. On the other hand, he symbolizes and “holds” that higher place in the state and the social hierarchy, which finally Bata (who is reincarnating several times) and Anupu (as his – younger! – brother’s heir) must take. Finally they do it.


* E. A. Wallis Budge. An Egyptian reading book for beginners being a series of historical, funereal, moral, religious and mythological texts printed in hieroglyphic characters, together with a transliteration and complete vocabulary. London, Paul,1896

** W. K. Simpson, R. O. Faulkner. The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, and Poetry, New Edition.
New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1973


 to be continued >>>

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