Monday, September 1, 2008

Today in Egypt - Episode One

Em hotep. I am Kem, high priest of the Temple of Osiris, in Alexandria, Egypt. This is my story.

I was an orphan who was taken in by one of the priests of the great god Thoth's temple at Khumn. His own son had died, and would have been about the same age as me, so he took pity on me. As I grew, the priest found that I was a clever boy. He decided to train me to make the sacred writing and adopted me as his own son. For many years I studied the many characters of the hieroglyphs until I was a fully trained scribe. I had learned much from my father, seeing that the priests' life was much better than most in the land of Egypt, so I decided to become a priest. I studied for many years and slowly advanced in the priesthood. I dressed and fed the statue of the great god in the temple at Khumn. When Alexander conquered Egypt he renamed the city Hermopolis after the god Hermes, who the Greeks identify with Thoth.

Though they are foreigners the Greeks expanded Hermopolis and made it a luxurious city. All the nobles of Egypt would come there. One day Alexander's successor Ptolemy, who the Greeks call saviour, came to Hermopolis. He came to the temple and while he was there his scribe was taken ill. I was called to attend to his writing. As I was writing a letter for him he made a mistake, and I corrected him. He laughed so heartily, and said that no one ever told him when he was wrong. He said men who would speak the truth to him were more valuable than gold and he decided I should return with him to Alexandria. He also said if I corrected him when others were present he would feed me to the jackals. From that day on I have lived in Alexandria, and now I am a High Priest in the Temple of Osiris in the great Greek city. I am a lector priest, my job is to see to the training of the priests. Though I am still called to the Pharaoh when he feels that there is something that people around him are not telling him.

Apart from these times when Ptolemy calls for my honesty, I seldom leave the temple. I always have my nose in the scrolls and my students call me the grumpy one. They think I do not know this, but there is little that escapes my attention, within the temple bounds anyway.

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