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Translations of Hellenistic Inscriptions: 21


STELE OF SENU-SHER


Date:   275-255 B.C.
Format:   see key to translations
Translated by:   F.L.Griffith


This inscription was found at Coptos.   Senu-Sher (whose name has also been transliterated as Senenshepsu or Senoucheri) was the steward of Arsinoē, the 'chief royal wife' of the Egyptian king, Ptolemy II. It was unusual for a native Egyptian to have such an important role at this early stage in Ptolemaic rule; see for instance J.Rowlandson in "Jewish Perspectives on Hellenistic Rulers", page 44 ( Google Books ).

The identity of Arsinoē has been the topic of some controversy among scholars. It was originally assumed that it referred to Arsinoe I, who was exiled to Coptos, but several scholars have argued strongly that it refers to Arsinoe II during her lifetime; see the discussion by Chris Bennett, under Arsinoe II, note 19 . The name of Arsinoē is not enclosed in cartouches in this inscription - in other words, she is not shown to have the title of queen.

The translation is taken from W.M. Flinders Petrie, "Koptos", pp.19-21 ( archive.org ).


. . . his boundaries thereto between the two seas { Mediterranean and Red Sea }. 2 . . . his beauties shine in every face, even as the sun illumines the day. He is as . . . 3 . . . with plumes like his father Min of Coptos, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, loved of the two lands { User-ka-ra, mery-Amen }, son of the sun, lord of the diadems [ Ptolemy . . . 4 . . . the hereditary noble, the sole companion, ] the noble at the head of the people, great in his office, high in his dignity, advanced in position in the palace, on whose utterance the king relies, to whom are told the proceedings of . . . 5 . . . the greatest dignitary from the two lands, the officer standing on the king's right hand, ready of speech, loving the council-chamber of difficult questions, discussing the teachings of the good god, praised by the king ... 6 ... . turning his face to his adviser, his back upon the evil . . . 7 . . . beloved of the lord of this land, preparing the way that he desires, protecting the city of Coptos, defending its nome, a place of retreat behind the estates (?), strong in smiting, remembering him who remembers him, chief of the living, by whose advice are regulated the affairs of the palace . . . 8 . . . right and left of the child of intelligence to produce pleasantness of discourse, floating on the current of the gods, but to prevent the speaker from delay in dalliance. A man with mind present in an unprecedented moment. He made him to find methods . . . [the whole land] 9 prayed for his health day and night in matters pertaining to his decision ; a mooring-post for him who is swept away (?) a raft (?) for the drowning man, relieving him who is suffocated. The oppressed cried to him . . . protecting their bodies from every ill . . . 10 protecting the aged, guarding the guardians, punishing greed toward the defenceless, a man of arithmetic, a very Thoth in accuracy, knowing what reports are like (?). Many said "Beauty beside him there is none" (?) a man of frankincense, loving the wine-cup, gracious of eyes on the day of ... 11 skilled in writing, a man to whom comprehension came swiftly (?) satisfying the heart of his master, superintendent of the royal harem, chief officer of his majesty, chief of the servants of the princess, the great favourite, mistress of the two lands, pleasing the heart, gracious and sweet of love, fair of crowns, receiving the two diadems, filling the palace with her beauties, the principal royal wife, pacifying the heart of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, lord of both lands { User-ka-ra, mery-Amen }, son of the sun, lord of the diadems { Ptolemy } . . . 12 priest of Osiris, Horus, and Isis of Het-zefau and the gods of Het-zefau, of Isis the image in the nome of Coptos, of the lion of the south and the lion of the north, of Shu and Tefnut, the son and daughter of Ra in Qus, of the elder Isis mother of the god on the great throne of Osiris in the shrine, of Ptah Sokar Osiris the great god in the sarcophagus of Osiris of Koptos in Het-nub, Senu-sher-sheps.

{ Hymn to Min }

13 He says before his master, Glory to you . . . Min of Coptos, Horus raising the arm, great of love, piercing the sky with his double plume, lord of joy in the shrine, king of the gods, sweet of love, full of his mother, upon his great throne, great god in the two hemispheres, in Hesep, surmounting his staircase, purifying (?) the flesh of god, offering to his father, male of the gods, valiant in . . . 14 . . . prince of the desert, loving mankind he has created youths. His abomination is to say 'Cut short the breath of life by which one lives ;' causing to breathe him who follows his current. Fair of face, he enriches the two breasts, beautiful beyond the gods, his excellence is beyond the divine cycle, satisfying the majesty in the desert and in the eastern mountains . . . 15 . . . travelling upon his current, healing the sick, making the distressed to live, good physician (?) to him that puts him in his heart, making to live him whose heart is contracted. I am thy servant, travelling upon your current, you have founded (?) my heart in the egg, lest precious stones should be scattered (?) . . . 16 . . . thy great city. I repeated for it the sealing of all its property by calculation. I slept not at night, I rested not in the daytime, searching after thy beauties in my heart.

{ Deeds of Senu-sher }

When I found Het-zefau gone to ruin, worn . . . 17 ... [I removed] the mud (?) I built a wall around it for the second time, the length 110 cubits, the breadth 40 cubits, the depth 15 cubits. I dug the ground to make a channel of 6 cubits in order to raise the floor in the whole temple. I built . . . 18 . . . sistrum, . . . their clappers (?) of bronze engraved with the great name of his majesty. I made all his utensils of bronze, though I found not such things of former workmanship. I enlarged his house with all good things : I provisioned his altars, I increased his offerings in the offering-place, I established . . . 19 ... a gateway of good white living stone, its length 15 cubits, breadth 6 cubits to the top of the hinges (?) around (?) its entrance (?) inscribed with the great name of his majesty ; its doors of cedar (?) overlaid with bronze, its hinges of bronze of Setet. The pylon-tower on the north built of brick for the dromos of Isis . . . 20 . . . the pylon of brick. I made a shrine of basalt for Horus Isis and Osiris upon the great throne, the great god in his shrine. I renewed the monuments in the house of Osiris ... 21 . . . may you prolong my existence upon earth (?)... growing old, resting in the good necropolis in the nome of Coptos . . . [to the ka of].

C1 . . . the nome of Coptos in the sacred places of the queen : making to reign the mistress of the villages and districts in the southern Neter, accomplishing the heart's desire in all good work in hard stone and living rock, setting up statues of the king, lord of both lands { User-ka-ra mery-Amen }, son of the sun, lord of the crowns { Ptolemy }, ever-living, and images of the queen. Never was the like done except by my Master in this land . . . festivals of the lord of both lands { User-ka-ra, mery-Amen }, son of the sun, lord of the crowns, { Ptolemy } C2 . . . [ men will say ] in finding his name in southern Neter, 'Let us come to you and tell you my good success ; give praise to god for him who did service (?) without ceasing.' Give me bread and beer, oxen and birds, wine and milk, incense and water, and all good and pure things sweet and pleasing that appear upon the altar of the elder Isis, mother of the god ; of . . . daily, day and night ; for I am a great one . . . C3 . . . making the weak and motherless to live, wall of life protecting his nome, Senu-sher-sheps, the superintendent of the royal harem of Arsynifau { Arsinoe }, the chief royal wife of the king, lord of both lands { User-ka-ra, mery-Amen }, son of the sun, lord of the crowns { Ptolemy }, ever-living. He says, Oh ! every eye that sees the sun, the circuit made by Tum, and every one that comes ... C4 { on the edge } [ Seten du hotep to Osiris] to Har-pe-khroti, the very great, chief child of Amen, and to the gods and goddess who are in the southern Neter, may they give offerings of oxen, cranes, and all things good, pure, sweet and pleasant, for the hereditary noble, the royal seal-bearer, the sole companion, Senu-sher-sheps. . . ."

inscription 22


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