1) - The text
Of the 75 columns, only the first 30 and last 11 have survived in a reasonable state.
Hieroglyphic text, columns : (1-14) (15-28) (29-47) (48-61) (62-75)
"There was a man of southern Heliopolis, a true scribe in Thebes, Samut was his name by his mother, (but he was) called Kyky, justified. Now his god took note of him and instructed him him about his wisdom; he placed it on the path of life in order to protect his body. The god knew him as a child, he was assigned abundance and prosperity.
Then, he meditated deeply within himself to find himself a protector. He found Mut ahead of the other gods; Shay and Rennenet (which could be interpreted as "fate" and "fortune") are in her hand, as are the span of life and the breath of life, everything which occurs is under her control.
So, he said : Now, I give to her all my property and all the produce I have created, because I know that she is effective on my behalf, that she alone is excellent. She suppressed for me my anguish, she protected me at the difficult moments, she comes preceded by the north wind when I called her name. I am a weakling of her town, a pauper and a beggar of her city, I achieved my goods by favour of her strength, in return for the breath of life. None of my family shall have a part of it, because they are destined for her ka as offerings.
Considering the one who robs me, the one who opposes him is under his jurisdiction, I say about the high official, at the moment when he prevails : 'however powerful he is, he will not be able to cause injury', because such things are with Sekhmet the Great; her circle of influence cannot be known; no servant of hers will fall for tricks, for ever and forever.
Oh! Mut, Mistress of the gods, listen to my request ! If it is recognised that the servant is useful to his master, then [his master] will reward him with long life.
I didn't take a human protector, I did not attach myself to a man of power; not (even) if he had been my son; I noted that she [had the power (?)] for the funeral ceremony. The burial, it is in your hand, Oh unique one. You are the goddess of birth, to equip me as an excellent mummy, after having completed my life. I have rendered all my property to you as others brought to you (their) goods.
You shall keep me safe, until I am finished, from all evil. Make that my eyes see the rays of Neith, she of the sun's disk, that my ears hear, without deafness, that my nose inhales the breeze, that my lips are ready, that my tongue distinguishes the tastes, that all my limbs are united for living. At the point of death of my physical being, no tongue can have power over me, no person can harm me.
Mut the mighty, who made me, who protects me, … being alone, so that one knows well that you protect me every day, my name endures in your mouth. I made a protector of the eye of Ra, since I saw that she is strong when the sun-disk circles … its heat … on the land.
The central part of the text is badly damaged. Columns 30 to 44 are missing almost in their entirety. In the following section of the translation, which starts at column 45, the "…" indicates varying degrees of damage, which in some cases is quite large.
...... of the evening, ...... ... descending from the heavens every day to the forecourt of Mut. May she allow me to move freely within, [and taste] of her provisions. I have made ......... love ........ her fury; appeased ......... in her face. Beautiful is the protection from ....... Mut. I know your power ........ great in ....... Memphis, Sekhmet beloved of Ptah, in the sky, appearing as ....... at the beginning of the year. .... the king enduring, [while] his head is (the one) of Neith, the Great. ...... jubilations at the beginning of every year (when) [you], appear ..... from what is in her, living ....... mistress of [the emissaries of the west] ...... as Mut .......... the burial, the breath of the mouth ... I made it; all noses are under your control; you open the eyes of all to see the light of the sun and the rays, all paths are ..... ....... which your glorious gaze surrounds.
From this point (the middle of column 65) the text is again almost complete.
I rejoice at your strength, since you are greater than all gods; my heart is filled with my mistress.
I shall not fear mortals when I lie down. Since, when I have found sleep, I have a protector.
As for the one whom makes of Mut a protector, no god knows how to assail him, as he is favoured by the king of his time, being one who passes away into a venerated state.
The one who makes of Mut a protector, no evil will attack him, he will be protected every day, until he joins the necropolis.
The one who makes of Mut a protector, how happy is his existence; for when the favours of the king finish, his body belongs to the one who places it in her heart.
The one who makes of Mut a protector, he is someone who is born favoured; someone to whom happiness to been assigned on his delivery; he will be Imakh (honoured).
The one who makes of Mut a (protector), how lucky is he whom she loves! No god will cast him down, he is someone who ignores death."
2) - Comments
By the themed approached, the semiotic variencies and the mix of language forms, this "autobiography" deserves - according to Vernus - to appear in the rank of literary works of the New Kingdom.
Generally speaking, the Egyptian autobiography has a well established conventional form which "aims to dissolve the individual in the stereotype by making every action conform to a codified form". For the Egyptian, the peculiarities (which is expected from an autobiography) are not the deviation in relation to this norm, but on the contrary it is all of the actions made by participant to adhere to it rather than the opposite.
Samut, is certainly different from this commonplace form in original approach, but not unique: he deliberates on his own case and explains how and why he chose the goddess Mut to protect him in this world and in the next. And for this reason he pushes aside the well established traditions by disinheritting all of his family, including his son, as his successors, because he doesn't trust any human being.
Even if it means being atypical, Samut is also different by its style : he uses (in the first instance) the style suitable for a story and not the "I" which would normally be expected, but "s pw wn(w)", literally : "it is that there was a man", equating to "There was once a man of Southern Heliopolis, a veritable scribe in Thebes".
This style, which is narrative, was limited however to the introduction, which is sufficient to give the tone of the whole thing.
This was because Samut didn't want to lose in the rest of his text one of the major advantages of the use of the first person, the one of being able to challenge the reader, his public, in order to convince the reader of the reason for submitting to Mut.
The idea that the teaching comes directly from the divinity is not explicit before the end of the New Kingdom, and therefore Kyky serves as a precursor, by transcribing something which was only implied in his time.
Rather than a deliberation with himself, he actually appears to display his thoughts, in a context where Samut will highlight several times his anguish.
After having mentioned "The "god" knew him as a child", Samut proclaims that he has chosen the "goddess" Mut in preference to the other divinities. A proof that the mentions of "God" (singular) in Ancient Egypt is by no means synonym for a monotheistic religious base.
Kyky chooses therefore, in return for the goddess's protection, to bequeath to her all of his possessions. Which is to say in practice to bequeath them to the temple of Mut. They are therefore here under the jurisdiction of the temple. But he mistrusts the system, and wants to be aware of a jealous heir or a zealous or corrupt civil servant. As he warns: if someone tries to change his will, it is Sekhmet herself who will be in charge of punishing him, in the name of what is right … and of his own interest.
The son's specific exclusion should be noted.
This is evidently highly unusual, since traditionally it is the eldest son who leads the ritual, charged with looking after everything funerary. Obviously, Kyky doesn't have confidence in him. It is not known if his distrust is actually directly with his son, the funeral device, or both.
Indeed, as seen during this period, many texts (notably from individual's stelae), beliefs are not radically changed, but rather they are bent with regard to how the funeral did not resist the change of time. Also the traditional belief in the immanence of this material (material = survival; more than material = disappearance) makes way to a dose of transcendence.
The divinity is now capable of taking care of a deceased, even in the absence of a funeral device. The God saves what he wants, when he wants. It is what Kyky explicitly states as : "That which makes of Mut a protector … … … a God won't knock him down, as he is someone who ignores death".
There is a radical religious inflection, because it also brings into play the beliefs of the old social rituals of several centuries, and consequently the foundations of Ma'at. There is not space to debate this here, but one can advance that the emergence of the personal piety, which leaves more or less the individual of the collective order which includes Ma'at, as one of the bases of the decline of the Pharaonic civilisation.
Samut chooses to close his declaration using a form which is similar to the argument about betting, from the famous philosopher and scientist, Blaise Pascal (who said that one can only win when betting upon God), so in Samut's case : he had everything to gain by betting on Mut.