This month: fairy tales from ancient Egypt!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Egyptian Princess Bentrescht and the Demon


This is a re-telling of the Egyptian fairy tale, The Possessed Princess. See the next blog entry to read a complete translation of the story and to learn about the significance of the winged sun symbol.


Cast of Characters:

The Moon God, Chunsu, also known as Neferhetep, the Beautiful Resting One

An offshoot of this deity, Chunsu, the Executor of Plans
King Ramses II of Egypt
The Prince of Bechten
His daughter, Nefer-u-Ra (the Beauty of the Sun)
Her sister, the Princess Bentrescht
A library scribe
A palace scribe
The princely scribe Thuti-emheb
Place: Ancient Egypt, Northeastern Syria and the Land of Bechten (somewhere in Asia)
Time: The text claims the story took place in 1350 B.C. but a more realistic date for the text itself is closer to around 100 B.C.

His majesty, King Ramses, was residing in his palace in Neharina. Princes from the farthest reaches of the earth came to pay tribute to him. They carried gifts on their backs, one walking behind the other. Gold, silver, lapis lazuli, malachite and every kind of valuable wood was brought before the king out of the land of the gods (Arabia in the East, the country of the sun god). The Prince of Bechten also paid tribute to the king. His oldest daughter led the throng of worshipers and offered praises to him. She was a very beautiful maiden, more beautiful than any other living creature. And so she found favor with the king and she became one of his princely wives. He called her Nefer-u-Ra (the Beauty of the Sun God). When the couple returned to their palace in Egypt, he had every ceremony befitting the wife of a king performed.

After some time, a messenger came from the kingdom of Bechten. He brought many gifts for the king’s wife. When he was allowed to approach the king he said “Praise to you, Sun of the people. May your radiance bestow light and life upon us!” He threw himself down before his majesty and then continued speaking. “I come to you my prince and master, because Bentrescht, Daughter of Joy, who through your marriage with Queen Neferu-Ra is her younger sister. An evil has taken over her body and penetrated her limbs. Your majesty should send a learned scribe to drive the demon from her.”

His majesty commanded: “Bring me a library scribe and a palace scribe.” They were immediately brought to him. His majesty continued “I called you to listen to my words. Find me a man who is most learned from among your group. He should be experienced and well-versed in all things.” They brought forth a princely scribe, Thuti-emheb. His majesty commanded him to go to Bechten with the messenger. When he arrived, he found that Bentrescht had been possessed by a demon but he was too weak to do battle with this spirit. The scribe sent a message to King Ramses “O Prince and Master! Send a god to do battle with this demon for I am too weak.”

Upon receiving word, King Ramses made his way to Chunsu, the Beautiful Resting One and said “O my beautiful master! I stand once more before you on behalf of the daughter of the Prince of Bechten. Please have your servant Chunsu, the Executor of Plans, the Big God, the Banisher of Evil drive out the demon from the princess.”

The god nodded his head twice, indicating he had granted the request. The king continued: “And may your powerful magic be with him so this god can go to Bechten and save the daughter of the Prince of Bechten.” Once more Chunsu, the Beautiful Resting One in Thebes nodded his head twice and conferred four times his magic power on Chunsu, the Executor of Plans in Thebes.

A large ship was brought for the god. It was laden with wagons and horses. Chunsu, the Executor of Plans traveled to the land of Bechten and arrived after one year and five months. The god entered the room of Bentrescht. He used his magic power to heal the princess and immediately she became healthy. But the demon spoke from inside the princess and said “You come in peace, you powerful god, you banisher of evil. You are lord over Bechten and all the people are your slaves. I am your slave. I shall go back to the place from whence I came. But I ask that you order a festival to be held in my name and for the Prince of Bechten.”

The god nodded in approval and said to his priests “Bring a large sacrifice for this demon!” And it was done. A festival was called and a sacrifice was made and the demon lingered a while with the Prince of Bechten, for that was the place he loved. Finally, at the command of Chunsu, the Executor of Plans in Thebes, the demon left that place peacefully. The Prince of Bechten rejoiced loudly and all the people living in his kingdom.

Now the Prince of Bechten decided the god should not return to Egypt but should stay on with his people. He would not let him leave. The god stayed three years and nine months. One day as the king was lying in his bed, he had a vision of the god flying out of his temple like a golden falcon. When the prince awoke, he was full of terror and said “This god who has stayed with us, has moved back to Egypt. May his wagons and horses also return to Egypt.”

The god was released and sent back to Egypt. Gifts of every kind, soldiers and horses were given to him. When they all arrived in Thebes, Chunsu, the Executor of Plans met Chunsu the Beautiful Resting One. He spread out all the gifts and didn’t take a single gift for his own but instead, returned to his dwelling in peace. This happened in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King Ramses, who awards life and is like the Sun God, Ra.
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