The Eloquent Peasant

Clare Flourish

Papyrus of the tale

Amenemhat_IIIThe tale of the Eloquent Peasant is a story from the Middle Kingdom, about 1800 BC. It is funny, thought provoking and affecting. Read it. It tells of a peasant, Khun Anup, whose donkeys and goods are stolen by a wicked servant, Nemtinakht. The peasant pleads, eloquently, for justice from the servant’s employer, the noble Rensi son of Meru, who shows him off to the Pharaoh, but eventually gives him justice. This is an older translation of parts of it.

The steward does not merely steal the goods. He lays his cloak on the path, so that Khun Anup must either trample it or drive his donkeys over the fields. A donkey eats a stalk of barley, so the steward takes the donkey. That is, rather than simply taking the goods and lying about how he obtained them or on what basis, he engineers a situation where he pretends to…

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