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The Nile in Ancient Greek Histories


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The Nile in Ancient Egyptian Literature
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Sages and priests described in literature how the Nile ceased flooding the land and how there was the threat of famine because of social disorder.

The sage Ipu-wer from the First Intermediate Period in 2150 BC described the situation in Egypt on a papyrus, which is now in Leiden, Netherlands, when the Nile was merciless to the people because of civil war, hostility, and disorder: "The man goes to his field carrying his shield ... The wicked are everywhere ... the great ones of yesterday are no more there ... The Nile inundates, but none ploughs his field ... everyone says, 'We don't know what happened to the country ... ' Khnum ceased creating (new) children ... the situation in the country is bad ... the poor became owners of precious things ... the one who didn't have a sandal (was barefoot) before, became rich. Hostility is upon the whole land and blood is everywhere ... The dead were buried in the river that became a cemetery and the place of embalming is the river ... The river became blood ... Both old and young say, 'I wish I could be dead".

In the prophecy of Neferrhou from the time of King Tuthmosis the Third, he described the situation in the time of King Senefru of the Fourth Dynasty in the southeastern Delta as follows: "The river of Egypt is empty, crosses over the water on foot ... Men shall search for water upon which the ships may sail; its road became a bank and the bank became water ... The birds no longer hatch their eggs in the swamps of the Delta ... The wild beasts of the desert shall drink from the rivers of Egypt, in order that they may cool themselves upon their banks, for that there is none to scare them away ... Men shall take up weapons of war, that the land may live in uproar ... I show you the son as foeman, and the brother as adversary and a man murders his father".

Some authors provided rules for conduct on the Nile. Amenemopet, in 850 BC, advised the owner of the ferryboat to be kind and merciful to others: "Don't prevent people from crossing the river when you still have a (vacant) place in your boat and someone comes to you who lives on the island, you surely shall give him a hand to take him with you ... Here, you are not going to be punished by god ... Don't make for yourself a ferry on the river and collect the price ... Take the price from the rich and welcome the one who doesn't have the price".

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