3 episodes

A series based on the study and research of Ancient Egyptian poetry by Oxford's Professor of Egyptology, Richard Bruce Parkinson

Ancient Egyptian Poetry Oxford University

    • Courses

A series based on the study and research of Ancient Egyptian poetry by Oxford's Professor of Egyptology, Richard Bruce Parkinson

    Talking with the Soul: A Dialogue about Life and Death

    Talking with the Soul: A Dialogue about Life and Death

    In this Ancient Egyptian poem, a man talks with his own soul about whether it is better to live or die. Read by Barbara Ewing. Translated by Richard Bruce Parkinson. The poem is known from a single copy, c. 1800 BC, whose beginning is lost. It is a dialogue between a man and his own soul, about the nature of death: the man despairs at life and longs for death, while his soul urges him to remember death’s horror. As they quarrel, life and death are interwoven, and the dialogue moves to a lyrical compromise. The poem ends as they agree to face life and death together.
    An annotated translation is in The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940–1640 BC (Oxford World’s Classics 1998).
    This recording is part of a study of Ancient Egyptian poems in performance (for the British Museum and Oxford University Ramesseum Papyri Project).
    Our thanks to Chris Hollings, Adam McNaney, Karen Carey, Tim Reid and The Queen’s College, Oxford

    • 15 min
    The Life of Sinuhe

    The Life of Sinuhe

    An ancient Egyptian tells his life-story from the walls of his tomb, c. 1850 BC. Read by Barbara Ewing. Translated by Richard Bruce Parkinson Composed around 1850 BC, Sinuhe is the supreme masterpiece of ancient Egyptian poetry. The poem is a fictional official’s autobiography, supposedly carved on the walls of his tomb, and his story forms a passionate probing of his culture’s ideals and anxieties. In a moment of panic Sinuhe flees Egypt at this death of his king. His adventures bring wealth and power, but his failure to find a meaningful life abroad is only redeemed by the new king’s mercy, and he finally returns home to be buried.

    An annotated translation is in The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940–1640 BC (Oxford World’s Classics 1998).

    This recording is part of The Tale of Sinuhe: A Reader’s Commentary (for the British Museum and Oxford University Ramesseum Papyri Project). With thanks to Karen Carey, Jenny Guest, Chris Hollings, Tim Reid and The Queen’s College, Oxford.

    • 41 min
    The Queen Shrieks: The Shock of Ancient Egyptian Poetry

    The Queen Shrieks: The Shock of Ancient Egyptian Poetry

    The Inaugural lecture of Richard B. Parkinson as Professor of Egyptology, accompanied by actress and author Barbara Ewing, on the emotional power of the famous Ancient Egyptian poem "The Tale of Sinuhe"

    • 47 min

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