A quick look at: the ancient Egyptian “Tale of the Doomed Prince.”

Italicized sections in this post are translated portions from the tale itself, here I will be using Lichtheim’s “Ancient Egyptian Literature: The New Kingdom Vol. 2” (University of California Press, 2006). While the end of this tale is missing, most scholars believe the ending to have been a happy one.

Our hero in this text is a prince, whom is being pursed by the fates, and must die. Upon hearing this, his distressed father builds a fortress to protect his son.

Then came the Hathors to determine a fate for him. They said: “He will die through the crocodile, or the snake, or the dog.” […] Then his majesty’s heart became very very sad. His majesty had [a house] of stone built [for him] upon the desert…and the child was not to go outdoors.

Many years later the prince, now an adult, has grown sick of “sitting here," and leaves Egypt on a chariot for Mitanni. The prince of Mitanni has a daughter, whom has been put away in a tower (similar in a way to the rapunzel story popular today). Many wish to marry this daughter, but only one who can jump (fly?) up to her in the tower may do so. The prince lies about who he is, not wanting his competitors to feel threatened by another prince. After sitting back and learning from his competitors, the prince manages to reach the girl.

He leaped, he reached the window of the daughter of the Prince of Nahrin. She kissed him, she embraced him on all his body. One went to inform her father and told him “One man has reached the window of your daughter.” […] Thereupon the Prince of Nahrin became exceedingly angry. He said: “Am I to give my daughter to this fugitive from Egypt? Make him go away!”

Despite her father’s orders, the daughter held the Egyptian prince tight, and threatened to starve herself to death if he was to be parted from her: “I will not live an hour longer than he!" Upon actually meeting the Egyptian prince, the prince of Nahrin has an immediate change of heart, "his dignity impressed the Prince.” The daughter and Egyptian prince ended up getting married.

Now when many days had passed, the youth said to his wife “I am given over to three fates: the crocodile, the snake, the dog.” Then she said to him: “Have the dog that follows you killed.” He said to her: “What foolishness! I will not let my dog be killed, whom I raised when it was a puppy.” So she began to watch her husband very much and did not let him go out alone.

The proceeding portion of the tale tells of these fates finally encountering the prince. The snake is killed, all that remain are the crocodile and the dog:

The youth went out for a pleasure stroll on his estate. [His wife] did not go out [with him], but his dog was following him. Then his dog began to speak [saying: “I am your fate].” Thereupon he ran before it. He reached the lake. He descended into [the water in flight from the] dog. Then the crocodile [seized] him and carried him off to where the demon was. [But he was gone. The] crocodile said to the youth: “I am your fate that has come after you. But [for three months] now I have been fighting with the demon. Now look, I shall release you. If my [enemy returns] to fight [you shall] help me to kill the demon. For you see the ————— the crocodile.” Now when it dawned and the next day had come, [the demon] returned —————.

The rest of the text is unfortunately missing.

Images © The Trustees of the British Museum. This 18th Dynasty papyrus (EA10060) contains a collection of literary texts, the last of which is the Doomed Prince.