Merikare


Merikare
King c.2100 BC.
    This king is known from the Wisdom Text, 'The Instruction for King Merikare', which conveys the advice which was given to Merikare by his royal father; this is the earliest treatise on kingship which has survived, although it was apparently not the first to have been written. Although it provides an accurate reflection of historical events and conditions, it has been suggested that it may have been written by one of Merikare's own scribes rather than by his father, and was therefore perhaps an announcement of his own royal policy. The text has survived in three major sources (on papyri in Leningrad, Moscow and Carlsberg), which all date to the Eighteenth Dynasty; but the original composition refers to the First Intermediate Period and Merikare and his father were probably rulers at Heracleopolis in the Tenth Dynasty.
    This is one of the most important compositions of that troubled period. As an instruction on royal behaviour it advises Merikare on how to deal with nobles and commoners, how to act towards rebels, and counsels on how he should try to be a benevolent ruler—'Calm the weeper, oppress no widow, expel no man from his father's possessions...'. He is also instructed in good speech.
    The pragmatism of the earlier Wisdom Instructions is tempered here with the addition of religious concepts such as personal piety and reverence for the gods and former rulers. As a literary work the text also marks an advance and foreshadows the increasing sophistication of Middle Kingdom compositions.
BIBL. AEL i. pp. 97-109; von Beckerath, J. Die Dynastic der Herakleopoliten (9./10. Dynastic). ZAS 93 (1966) pp. 13-20; Volten, A. Zwei altagyptischepolitische Schriften: Die Lehre fur Konig Merikare (Pap. Carlsberg VI) Und die Lehre fur Konigs Amenemhet (An. Aeg. 4). Copenhagen: 1945.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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