Ancient Egypt
The Doomed Prince Image Credit: Ancient Egypt
The Doomed Prince Image Credit: Ancient Egypt

The Doomed Prince

In the fourth in a series of articles exploring myths and tales from ancient Egypt, Dr Joyce Tyldesley introduces us to the New Kingdom story of the prince whose fate was foretold at his birth.

Joyce Tyldesley

This EighteenthDynasty fantasyincludes elements that can be found in modern fairy tales; it may remind readers of Sleeping Beauty (the bad fairy at the christening) or Rapunzel (the princess trapped in her high tower). To the Egyptians, the story echoed the themes found in The Shipwrecked Sailor (travel away from home: AE99, p.20) and the Destruction of Mankind (the use of alcohol to deflect a destroyer; AE98, p.32). The tale follows the journey of an unnamed prince as he travels from Egypt, across the Sinai land bridge, to the faraway but real land of Naharin (more commonly known as Mitanni) on the Euphrates River. He travels by horse-driven chariot, a means of transport introduced to Egypt by the Second Intermediate Period Hyksos kings.

The Tale

There once lived a king who was sad because he had no children. He prayed to the gods that his wife might give birth, and they granted his wish. Nine months later a son was born. The king was beside himself with happiness. Then the Seven Hathors (see pp. 34, 35) arrived to declare the baby’s fate. The prediction was grim: “He will meet his death through a dog, or through a snake, or through a crocodile.”

Determined to protect his son, the king built a luxurious house in the des


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