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The Shipwrecked Sailor

Critique • Quotes • Text

Shipwrecked Sailor papyrusShipwrecked Sailor papyrus
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

Also known as
"The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor"; "The Sailor and the Serpent"; "The Island of Enchantment"

First publication
c.1990 BCE

Literature form


Writing language
Ancient Egyptian

Author's country

Approx. 1,600 words in English translation

Notable lines

When Pharaoh Amen-em-het ruled Egypt in about the year 2000 BC he brought peace and prosperity to a country that had been torn by civil war and rebellion for nearly two hundred years.

— First line, trans. unknown

"I have such a tale to tell," answered the wanderer, 'that I will risk your anger with an easy mind."

— trans. unknown

"I was on an island with no other human being to be a companion to me. But such an island as no man has seen!"

— trans. unknown

Never shall I forget the horror of that moment. Moving towards me I saw a serpent thirty cubits long with a beard of more than two cubits. Its body was covered with golden scales and the scales round its eyes shaded off into blue as pure as lapis lazuli.

— trans. Flinders Petrie

"The serpent coiled up its whole length in front of where I lay with my face on the ground, reared its head high above me, and said: 'What has brought you, what has brought you here, little one? Say, what has brought you to my island?'" 

— trans. unknown

"'" ''"Converse is pleasing, and he who tastes of it passes over his misery.'"

— trans. Petrie

This is finished from its beginning unto its end, even as it was found in a writing. It is written by the scribe of cunning fingers, Ameni-amenaa; may he live in life, wealth, and health!

— Last line, trans. Petrie


Critique • Quotes • Text