Sunday, December 23, 2012

Onchsheshonqy 5/11

One of the opening proverbs of Onchsheshonqy provides an interesting juxtaposition:
P. Onchsheshonqy 5/11

If Pre is wroth with a district he commands its ruler to do evil to its people (P. Onch. 5/11).
This shift of blame is interesting in light of the frame story of the text. In the frame story, a man seeks to shift responsibility for his actions onto the god. The Pharaoh's response to that is to have the man burned alive. The moral of the frame story is that individuals need to take responsibility for their own actions and not try to shift the blame for their bad behavior on the god. Yet here, the ruler is absolved of his bad behavior in precisely the same way. I noted before that in ancient Egypt criticism of one's leaders was not allowed under penalty of death. Onchsheshonqy phrases his critique in such a way to make it look like the ruler is off the hook but it still means that the god is angry with the district.

While the causation is not what we expect, the correlation is. Onchsheshonqy notes that rulers mistreating the people and the wrath of the god go together.