Sunday, November 25, 2007

Book Review: Adventures of Wenamun


Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

Wenamun, the Egyptian priest of Amun of Thebes, traveled through Sais to Byblus of Phoenicia to get the precious cedar wood that was needed to have a holy boat of Amun sculpted in Thebes. It seems that Horihor, the local ruler of Thebes, was not internationally recognized as Pharaoh, and Wenamun "forgot" to ask Smendes, Pharaoh of Lower Egypt only (so, eventually a competitor to Horihor), a letter of recommendation for Tsekker Baal of Byblus, facing therefore great difficulty to convince the semi-barbaric ruler of the Phoenician city about his good intentions.

The image of a divided Egypt in decay comes in striking contrast with what was Egypt approximately 100 years before Wenamun, at the days of Ramses III, who fought successfully against the Sea Peoples, and ultimately dispersed them in the Mediterranean. The name of Tsekker Baal itself suggests his "Sea Peoples" origin, Tsekker being one of the attacking peoples.

An ideological differentiation between the two persons, Wenamun and Tsekker Baal, becomes evident thanks to details we find in the text. Yet, the most striking subject is the disdainful way Tsekker Baal addressed Wenamun, who was serving in a temple larger than the entire city Tsekker Baal was ruling!

No comments: