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Translations of Hellenistic Inscriptions:


EPITAPH OF BERENICE

Original text: BM 392
Date: 33 B.C.
Format:   see key to translations

The family of Berenice is well documented. She was the daughter of Psherenptah and Tayimhotep, and the sister of Kheredankh. Her brother Imhotep-Pedubast was the last high priest of Memphis during the Ptolemaic period; he died in August 30 B.C., shortly after the death of Cleopatra.

Unlike her Egyptian parents and her siblings, Berenice was given a Greek name, but the name had appeared before in her family (the grandmother of her father was also called Berenice).   If the translation of line 11 is correct, it seems that she gave birth to a child just a few months before she died.

The translation of the demotic text is by E.A.E.Reymond, "From the Records of a Priestly Family from Memphis", no. 22; with dates as corrected by Chris Bennett.


In the year 19, which makes year 4, on the 30th of Epeiph {26 July 33 B.C.}, in the reign of queen Cleopatra, the goddess Philopator, and king Ptolemy 2 called Caesarion, the god Philopator Philometor, living for ever.

3 You are praised before Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris, great god, pre-eminent [in the West, Bastet,] great [goddess,] Imhotep, son of Ptah, Osiris, lord of the crypt, Osiris, lord of the gods of Rostaw, Osiris, lord of the Rostaw, Osiris, lord of 4 Rakoti, Anubis upon-his-mountain, great god, the Great God, every god and every goddess who rests in the hall of the tomb-chapel which is in the west of Memphis!

{ Her parents: }

O lady, . . ., Berenice, daughter of the god's father, prophet of Ptah, priest of the gods in 5 the Mansion of the White Enclosure, scribe of Ptah and the goddess Philadelphos, scribe of the Enclosure of Ptah, scribe of the sacred book of Ptah, scribe of the god's seal, superintendent of confidential affairs in the Domain of Ptah, superintendent of confidential affairs in Rostaw, superintendent of confidential affairs in the Osirieion, the Sarapieion of Rakoti and the Anubieion of Him-who-is-upon-his-mountain, 6 prophet in the Domain of the Kings, prophet of the window-of-appearance, prophet of Horus of the window-of-appearance, prophet of the gods of the window-of-appearance, having authority over secret writings concerning sky, earth and underworld, learned in secret writings concerning every god and every goddess 7 of Upper and Lower Egypt, the first prophet of Ptah and of every god and every goddess, prophet, Chief-of-Artificers Psen-Ptah, born to the lady, priestess of Ptah Taimūthis, daughter of Kha-Hapy.

{ Her husband: }

She was called to become wife of the god's father, prophet of Ptah, 8 priest of the gods in the Mansion of the White Enclosure, scribe of Ptah and the goddess Philadelphos, scribe of the secret books in the House-of-Life, scribe of the ritual book of Ptah's temple-endowment in every district, . . ., prophet of the book, prophet of the great god, scribe of the House-of-Life of Ptah, superintendent of confidential affairs in the Domain of Ptah, superintendent of confidential affairs of the Chief of Artificers, 9 superintendent of confidential affairs of the great king in Rakoti Petubastis, son of the man of the same profession Harimūthis, son of the man of the same profession Petubastis, son of the man of the same profession, prophet Harimūthis, son of the man of the same profession Psen-Ptah, 10 prophet of Ptah, the Chief of Artificers, son of the man of the same profession (?) Harmakhis.

The name of his mother is Har-ankh, daughter of the prophet Psen-Ptah, son of the man of the same profession Har-any, son of the man of the same profession the Chief of Artificers Petubastis.

{ Her death and burial: }

It came to pass in regnal year 19, which makes year 4, in the month of (?) Mecheir, that 11 she bore forth to his . . . daughter of Petubastis, Psen[-Ptah (?)] . . . in regnal year 19, which makes year 4, the 21st of (?) Pharmuthi . . . 12 for her the ceremonies of the embalmment . . . She attained . . . the mortuary workshop . . . in regnal year 19, which makes year 4, the first month of . . . mortuary robing . . . 13 a fair embalmment.

She was laid to rest in her resting-place which is in the west of the Osirieion of Rakoti, even the resting-place of the prophets of Ptah, [(?) the Chiefs of Artificers] . . . 14 the mortuary robing before the great gods, (?) lords of Memphis . . . to install every daughter of Petubastis, son of the man of the same profession, the prophet Harimūthis, son of the man of the same profession Petubastis, son of the man of the same profession Harimūthis, son of the man of the same profession Psen-Ptah, prophet of Ptah, the Chief of Artificers, 15 son of the man of the same profession (?) Harmakhis, prophet of Ptah, the Chief of Artificers . . . a great burial ceremony in regnal year 19, which makes year 4, on the 30th of Epeiph {26 July 33 B.C.}.

{ Summary of her life: }

She was born in year 25, on the 19th of (?) Mesore {20 August 55 B.C.}, in the reign of the great king in Rakoti 16 Ptolemy, the god Philopator Philadelphus. She was called to become wife of the god's father Petubastis aforesaid in year 13 . . . {40/39 B.C.} in the reign of queen Cleopatra [the goddess Philopator and] 17 king Ptolemy, called Caesarion, the god Philopator Philometor, living forever. She departed her residence in regnal year 19, which makes year 4, [on the . . .] of Pachon {May 33 B.C.}

{ Final prayer: }

[You are praised] 18 before the god, Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris, great god, the Great God, every god and every goddess in the mountain of Rakoti. As to every man on earth who will 19 read this stele, may he pour water on the offering table which is at the entrance of the coffin chamber. May he say her name saying, 'She is abiding for ever and ever!'

inscription 5


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