Coffin Texts


The Coffin Texts were a body of spells to ensure survival in the next world. They were written principally on coffins from the early Middle Kingdom. They first appeared at the end of the Old Kingdom and towards the New Kingdom the Book of Coming Forth by Day (more known as the Book of the Dead) was used instead.
The following spell is the conclusion of a series about the passage through the Netherworld, the so called 'Book of the Two Ways'.
First comes a declaration made by the creator god. Then the dead man speaks a series of grandiose claims and epithets, through which he assimilates himself with the power of the creator, and becomes invincible and unresistable in the Netherworld. At the end of the spell is a description of its effect.


WORDS SPOKEN BY HIM WHOSE NAMES ARE HIDDEN.
The Lord to the Limit speaks
before those who still the storm, at the sailing of the entourage:

'Proceed in peace!
I shall repeat to you four good deeds
that my own heart made for me
within the serpent's coils, for love of stilling evil.
I did four good deeds within the portals of the horizon:

I made the four winds that every man might breathe in his place.
This is one deed thereof.
I made the great inundation, that the wretched should have power over it like the great.
This is one deed thereof.
I made every man like his fellow;
I did not ordain them to do evil, (but) it was their own hearts which destroyed that which I pronounced. *
This is one deed thereof.
I made that their hearts should refrain from ignoring the west,
for love of making offerings to the gods of the nomes.
This is one deed thereof.
I created the gods from my sweat.
Man is from the tears of my eye.

I shine, and am seen every day
in this authority of the Lord to the Limit.
I made the night for the Weary-hearted. **
I will sail aright in my bark;
I am the lord of the waters, crossing heaven.
I do not suffer for any of my limbs.
Utterance together with Magic
are felling for me that evil being.
I shall see the horizon and dwell within it.
I shall judge the wretch from the powerful,
and do likewise against the evildoers.
Life is mine; I am its lord.
The sceptre shall not be taken from my hand.
I have placed millions of years
between me and that Weary-hearted one, the son of Geb;
then I shall dwell with him in one place.
Mounds will be towns.
Towns will be mounds.
Mansion will destroy mansion.'

I am the lord of fire who lives on truth,
the lord of eternity, maker of joy, against whom the otherworldly serpents have not rebelled.
I am the god in his shrine, the lord of slaughter, who calms the storm,
who drives off the serpents, the many-named who comes forth from his shrine,
the lord of winds who foretells the northwind,
many-named in the mouth of the ennead,
lord of the horizon, creator of light,
who illumines heaven with his own beauty.
I am he! Make way for me
so that I shall see Niu and Amen.
For I am a blessed spirit, equipped with otherworldly knowledge;
I shall pass by the fearful ones -
They cannot speak (the spell) which is on the end of the book-roll;
they cannot speak for fear of him whose name is concealed, who is eithin my body.
I know him; I am not ignorant of him.
I am equipped, excellent in opening portals.

As for any man who knows this spell,
he shall be like Re in the east of heaven,
like Osiris within the Netherworld;
he descends into the entourage of fire,
without there being a flame being against him, for all time and eternity!


* The pronouncement of the Creator is Maat, 'Truth'.
** The Weary-hearted one is Wesir (Osiris).

R. B. Parkinson - Voices from Ancient Egypt


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