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The Life of Sinuhe

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Duration: 0:41:20 | Added: 01 Nov 2016
An ancient Egyptian tells his life-story from the walls of his tomb, c. 1850 BC. Read by Barbara Ewing. Translated by Richard Bruce Parkinson

Composed around 1850 BC, Sinuhe is the supreme masterpiece of ancient Egyptian poetry. The poem is a fictional official’s autobiography, supposedly carved on the walls of his tomb, and his story forms a passionate probing of his culture’s ideals and anxieties. In a moment of panic Sinuhe flees Egypt at this death of his king. His adventures bring wealth and power, but his failure to find a meaningful life abroad is only redeemed by the new king’s mercy, and he finally returns home to be buried.

An annotated translation is in The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940–1640 BC (Oxford World’s Classics 1998).

This recording is part of The Tale of Sinuhe: A Reader’s Commentary (for the British Museum and Oxford University Ramesseum Papyri Project). With thanks to Karen Carey, Jenny Guest, Chris Hollings, Tim Reid and The Queen’s College, Oxford.

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