Ancient Egyptian Texts:  8.11


Greek Text:   OGIS 90   ( BM EA 24 ) The Rosetta Stone
Provenance:   Bolbitine
Date:   196 B.C.
Language:   Greek   ( Demotic version available here )
Translated by:   C. Andrews
This is a copy of a page by André Dollinger, which used to be on the   website

The Rosetta Stone :  
- A royal decree promulgated by Ptolemy V in 196 B.C., written in hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek.  
- Found by the French at Rosetta (el Rashid) in the Delta in 1799.  
- Was crucial for the decipherment of hieroglyphs by Champollion in 1822.  

The numbers in red are the line numbers in the Greek text.   Click on the D symbols to go to the corresponding line in the Demotic text.

    In the reign of the young one who has succeeded his father in the kingship, lord of diadems, most glorious, who has established Egypt and is pious towards the gods, triumphant over his enemies, who has restored the civilised life of men, lord of the Thirty Years Festivals even as Hephaistos the Great, a king like the Sun, great king of the Upper and Lower countries, offspring of the Gods Philopatores, one of whom Hephaistos has approved, to whom the Sun has given victory, the living image of Zeus, son of the Sun, Ptolemy, living for ever, beloved of Ptah, in the ninth year, when Aetos son of Aetos was priest of Alexander, and the Gods Soteres,   and the Gods Adelphoi, and the Gods Euergetai, and the Gods Philopatores and the God Epiphanes Eucharistos; {5 D }   Pyrrha daughter of Philinos being Athlophoros of Berenike Euergetis; Areia daughter of Diogenes being Kanephoros of Arsinoe Philadelphos; Irene, daughter of Ptolemy being Priestess of Arsinoe Philopator; the fourth of the month of Xandikos, according to the Egyptians the 18th Mekhir. - -Ptolemy V Epiphanes Eucharistos was born in the 12th or 13th year of the reign of his father, Ptolemy IV. His official birthday was 30th Mesore. At first associated on the throne with his father he acceeded in the summer of 204 before 1st Mesore (8th September 204 B.C.), and ruled under the tutelage of a number of regents. He came of age in the autumn of 197.
-Thirty Years Festivals: The Heb Sed, a festival of royal rejuvenation.
-Hephaistos: Ptah
-Sun: Pre, Re-Harakhte
-Zeus: Amen
-the God Epiphanes Eucharistos: Ptolemy V and and his wife Cleopatra I became Manifest Gods in 194 or 193, part of the dynastic cult. The enumeration of all the Ptolemaic "gods" was standard practice, cf. this Sale agreement
-Athlophoros: Bearer of the victory prize.
-kanephoros: Bearer of the Basket, leading the processions.
    Decree: There being assembled the Chief Priests and Prophets and those who enter the inner shrine for the robing of the Gods, and the Fan-bearers and the Sacred Scribes and all the other priests from the temples throughout the land who have come to meet the king at Memphis, for the feast ofthe assumption by Ptolemy, the ever-living, the beloved of Ptah, the God Epiphanes Eucharistos, the kingship in which he succeeded his father, they being assembled in the temple in Memphis this day declared:
-Memphis: centre of the Ptah worship, always retained some importance, even after Upper Egyptian Thebes had practically vanished.
    Whereas king Ptolemy, the ever-living, the beloved of Ptah, the god Epiphanes Eucharistos, the son of King Ptolemy and Queen Arsinoe, the Gods Philopatores, has been a benefactor both to the temples and to those who dwell in them, {10 D }   as well as all those who are his subjects, being a god sprung from a god and goddess (like Horus the son of Isis and Osiris, who avenged his father Osiris) (and) being benevolently disposed towards the gods, has dedicated to the temples revenues in money and corn and has undertaken much outlay to bring Egypt into prosperity, and to establish the temples, and has been generous with all his own means; and of the revenues and taxes levied in Egypt some he has wholly remitted and others he has lightened, in order that the people and all the others might be in prosperity during his reign; -Horus ... who avenged his father Osiris: Heru-nedj-it-ef, Horus-Protector-of-his-Father (Greek: Harendotes)
-corn: UK usage-the chief cereal of a region, in the case of Egypt it refers to wheat, and possibly barley.
    and whereas he has remitted the debts to the crown being many in number which they in Egypt and in the rest of the kingdom owed;
    and whereas those who were in prison and those who were under accusation for a long time, he has freed of the charges against them;
    and whereas he has directed that the gods shall continue to enjoy the revenues of the temples and the yearly allowances given to them, both of corn and money, {15 D }   likewise also the revenue assigned to the gods from vine land and from gardens and the other properties which belonged to the gods in his father's time;
    and whereas he directed also, with regard to the priests, that they should pay no more as the tax for admission to the priesthood than what was appointed them throughout his father's reign and until the first year of his own reign; and has relieved the members of the priestly orders from the yearly journey to Alexandria;
    and whereas he has directed that impressment for the navy shall no longer be employed, and of the tax in byssus cloth paid by the temples to the crown he has remitted two-thirds;
    and whatever things were neglected in former times he has restored to their proper condition, having a care how the traditional duties shall be fittingly paid to the gods;
    and likewise has apportioned justice to all, like Hermes the great and great;
-byssus: fine linen cloth
-restored to their proper condition: cf. Tutankhamen's Restoration Stela: he has made what was ruined to endure or Petosiris' attempts to restore a number of temples.
-apportioned justice to all: Of major concern to any ruler was the administration of justice, cf. Tutankhamen's Restoration Stela: justice was set up
-Hermes: Thoth to the Egyptians.
    and has ordained that those who return of the warrior class, and of others who were unfavourably disposed {20 D }   in the days of the disturbances, should, on their return be allowed to occupy their old possessions,
    and whereas he provided that cavalry and infantry forces and ships should be sent out against those who invaded Egypt by sea and by land, laying out great sums in money and corn in order that the temples and all those who are in the land might be in safety;
-the days of the disturbances: By the autumn of 190 Ptolemy IV had recaptured Upper Egypt from Ankhwennefer.
    and having gone to Lycopolis in the Busirite nome, which had been occupied and fortified against a siege with an abundant store of weapons, and all other supplies (seeing that disaffection was now of long standing among the impious men gathered into it, who had perpetrated much damage to the temples and to all the inhabitants of Egypt), and having encamped against it, he surrounded it with mounds and trenches and elaborate fortifications: when the Nile made a great rise in the eighth year (of his reign), which usually floods the plains, {25 D }   he prevented it, by damming at many points the outlets of the channels (spending upon this no small amount of money), and setting cavalry and infantry to guard them, in a short time he took the town by storm and destroyed all the impious men in it, even as Hermes and Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, formerly subdued the rebels in the same district; and as to those who had led the rebels in the time of his father and who had disturbed the land and done wrong to the temples, he came to Memphis to avenge his father and his own kingship, and punished them all as they deserved, at the time that he came there to perform the proper ceremonies for the assumption of the crown;
    and whereas he remitted what was due to the crown in the temples up to his eighth year, being no small amount of corn and money; so also the fines for the byssus cloth not delivered to the crown, {30 D }   and of those delivered, the several fees for their verification, for the same period; and he also freed the temples of (the tax of) the artabe for every aroura of sacred land and likewise the jar of wine for each aroura of vine land; and whereas he bestowed many gifts upon Apis and Mnevis and upon the other sacred animals in Egypt, because he was much more considerate than the kings before him of all that belonged to the gods; and for their burials he gave what was suitable lavishly and splendidly, and what was regularly paid to their special shrines, with sacrifices and festivals and other customary observances; and he maintained the honours of the temples and of Egypt according to the laws; and he adorned the temple of Apis with rich work, spending upon it gold and silver and precious stones, no small amount; and whereas he has founded temples and shrines and altars, and has repaired those requiring it, having the spirit of a beneficent god in matters pertaining to religion;
-Lycopolis: skAn in the 9th Lower Egyptian nome
-Hermes and Horus ..... subdued the rebels in the same district: According to the Osiris myth Thoth interfered in the conflict between Horus and Seth in order to save the wounded: Horus regained his eye and Seth his testicles. The Pyramid Texts describe Thoth of Hermopolis Parva (3rd nome of Lower Egypt) as the adjudicator in the quarrel between Seth and Horus.
-artabe: Dry measure, about 36 litres in classical times, about 27 litres under the Ptolemies.
-aroura: The ground covered by a yoke of ploughing oxen in one day, about 2700 m².
-Apis: Animal cults had become very important during the declining centuries of pharaonic Egypt. Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis, was considered to be the incarnation of Ptah.
Source: ?
-Mnevis: The sacred bull of Heliopolis
    {35 D }   and whereas after enquiry he has been renewing the most honourable of the temples during his reign, as is becoming; in requital of which things the gods have given him health, victory and power, and all other good things.
    And he and his children shall retain the kingship for all time. With propitious fortune: It was resolved by the priests of all the temples in the land to increase greatly the existing honours of King Ptolemy, the ever-living, the beloved of Ptah, the god Epiphanes Eucharistos, likewise those of his parents the Gods Philopatores, and of his ancestors, the Gods Euergetai and the Gods Adelphoi and the Gods Soteres and to set up in the most prominent place of every temple an image of the ever-living King Ptolemy, the beloved of Ptah, the god Epiphanes Eucharistos, an image which shall be called that of 'Ptolemy, the defender of Egypt', beside which shall stand the principal god of the temple, handing him the weapon of victory, all of which shall be manufactured (in the Egyptian) fashion; {40 D }   and that the priests shall pay homage to the images three times a day, and put upon them the sacred garments, and perform the other usual honours such as given to the other gods in the Egyptian festivals; and to establish for King Ptolemy, the god Epiphanes Eucharistos, sprung of King Ptolemy and Queen Arsinoe, the Gods Philopatores, a statue and golden shrine in each of the temples, and to set it up in the inner chamber with the other shrines; and in the great festivals in which the shrines are carried in procession the shrine of the god Epiphanes Eucharistos shall be carried in procession with them.
    And in order that it may be easily distinguishable now and for all time, there shall be set upon the shrine the ten gold diadems of the king, to which shall be added a uraeus but instead of the uraeus-shaped diadems which are upon the other shrines, in the centre of them shall be the crown called Pschent which he put on when he went into the temple at Memphis to perform therein {45 D }   the ceremonies for assuming the kingship: and there shall be placed on the square surface round about the diadems, beside the aforementioned crown, golden symbols (eight in number signifying) that it is (the shrine) of the king who makes manifest the Upper and Lower countries.
  the weapon of victory: The scimitar khepresh.
Tutankhamen wearing the uraeus
Source: Jon Bodsworth
-uraeus: The cobra, worn on royal crowns.
-crown called Pschent: the double crown of the united Egypt, combining the red deshret of Lower Egypt and the white hedjet of Upper Egypt.
Horus wearing the pshent, Abydos
Horus wearing the pshent
Source: Jon Bodsworth
    And since it is the 30th of Mesore on which the birthday of the king is celebrated, and likewise the 17th of Paophi) on which he succeeded his father in the kingship, they have held these days in honour as name-days in the temples, since they are sources of great blessings for all;
    it was further decreed that a festival shall be kept in the temples throughout Egypt on these days in every month, on which there shall be sacrifices and libations and all the ceremonies customary at the other festivals (and the offerings shall be given to the priests who) serve in the temples.
    And a festival shall be kept for King Ptolemy, the ever-living, the beloved of Ptah, the god Epiphanes Eucharistos, yearly in the temples throughout the land from the 1st of Thoth for five days, in which they shall wear garlands and perform sacrifices and libations and the other usual honours, {50 D }   and the priests (in each temple) shall be called priests of the god Epiphanes Eucharistos in addition to the names of the other gods whom they serve; and his priesthood shall be entered upon all formal documents (and engraved upon the rings which they wear); and private individuals shall also be allowed to keep the festival and set up the aforementioned shrine and have it in their homes, performing the aforementioned celebrations yearly, in order that it may be known to all that the men of Egypt magnify and honour the god Epiphanes Eucharistos the king, according to the law.
-garlands: Flowers were of great importance in celebrations.
Garlands, tomb of Petosiris
Drawing after decorations in the tomb of Petosiris: Gustave Lefebvre, Le tombeau de Petosiris
    This decree shall be inscribed on a stela of hard stone in sacred [that is hieroglyphic] and native [that is demotic] and Greek characters and set up in each of the first, second, and third [rank] temples beside the image of the ever living king.

Translated by Carol Andrews, "The Rosetta Stone" (British Museum, 1985)

  A translation of the Demotic version of the text can be found in   AET_8.12 .

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