Ancient Egyptian Legends
THE PRINCESS AND THE DEMON
IT was in the reign of King Rameses, son of the Sun, beloved of Amon, king of the gods. A mighty warrior was Rameses; in the day of battle like to Mentu, god of war; very valorous was he, like the son of the Sky-goddess.
Now his Majesty was in Naharaina, where the great river Euphrates rolls down to the sea. And he received the tribute of the vassal-princes, for he was the conqueror of the nine Archer-tribes, and none could stand before his face when he came forth equipped with all his weapons of war. The princes prostrated themselves before him, bowing their foreheads to the ground, breathing the earth which his feet had trodden. Great and splendid was their tribute: gold, and precious stones of all colours, blue lapis lazuli and the green turquoise sacred to Hathor, goddess of love and joy. And slaves came bearing on
their backs sweet-scented woods, perfumed and aromatic, like the trees in the land of the Gods.
The prince of Bekhten came also, and with him his eldest daughter; and he placed her in front of the slaves, for she was the choicest part of his tribute. Very beautiful was she, fair in her limbs, tall and slender as a palm-tree, and the heart of the King turned to her with delight, and he loved her more than anything on earth. He made her the Great Royal Wife, and he gave her a name by which she should be known in the land of Egypt; Neferu-Ra, "Beauty of Ra," was she called, for her beauty was like the shining of the sun. And the name was written in the royal oval, as is the custom of the kings of Egypt and their queens.
Then King Rameses returned to Egypt, and with him went the Great Royal Wife, Queen Neferu-Ra. And when they came to the Black Land, the land of Egypt, she performed all the ceremonies of a queen in the temples of Egypt.
Now it happened that King Rameses was in Thebes the Mighty on the twenty-second of the month Payni. And he went into the temple of Amon, for this was the day of the beautiful festival of the god, when the boats go up and down upon the water with torches and lights, and the Sacred Barque, adorned with gold and painted with glorious colours, is borne aloft, that men may see the figure of Amon-Ra himself
within. And Queen Neferu-Ra was with his Majesty, for the Great Royal Wife in Egypt has ever been the worshipper of Amon-Ra, king of the gods.
There came into the temple courtiers of the King to announce the arrival of a messenger from the prince of Bekhten. Loaded was he with gifts for Neferu-Ra, Queen of Egypt, daughter of the prince of Bekhten, and he carried also a message to the King. When he entered the royal presence, he bowed to the earth saying, "Glory to thee, O Sun of the nine Archer-tribes! May we live before thee!" Then he bowed to the earth again and spoke the message that he had brought from the prince of Bekhten to Rameses, King of Egypt:
"I come to thee, O living King, my Lord, on account of Bent-reshy, the little sister of the Great Royal Wife, Neferu-Ra; for there is a malady in all her limbs. Send therefore a learned man that he may see and heal her."
The King turned to his courtiers and said, "Bring hither a scribe of the House of Life, and bring also those who speak the hidden things of the Inner Chamber." And the courtiers hastened and brought them into the presence forthwith, and the King said to them, "I have brought you hither to hear this matter. Tell me then of a man, learned and skilful, to send to the prince of Bekhten."
Then they took counsel among themselves as
to a learned and skilful man, and they brought the scribe Tehuti-em-heb before the King, and the King bade him go with the messenger of the prince of Bekhten to heal Bent-reshy, the little sister of the Great Royal Wife.
When the scribe Tehuti-em-heb came to Bekhten, he was brought into the presence of Bent-reshy. He was a learned and a skilful man, and he found the princess under the dominion of a spirit, a spirit that was hostile to him, against whom his learning and skill were of no avail, who set his magic arts at naught.
Then the prince of Bekhten was sad, and sorrow was in his heart, but Tehuti-em-heb the scribe counselled him to send again to Egypt and to implore the help of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, to cast out the evil spirit from Bent-reshy, the little sister of the Great Royal Wife.
Now so great was the distance from Bekhten to Egypt that from the time that Tehuti-em-heb the scribe departed out of Thebes till the second message came to King Rameses was three years, and throughout that time the evil spirit dwelt in Bent-reshy and would not be cast out.
And when the second messenger arrived, King Rameses was again in Thebes, and it was the first of the month Pakhons, the month that is sacred to Khonsu. He entered into the temple, and with him came his courtiers, and the messenger of the prince of Bekhten. In the temple were two statues
of Khonsu; very marvellous figures were these, very sacred, very holy; the one was called Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep, and the other Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons. Now Khonsu is the God of the Moon, the son of Amon-Ra and of Mut, Lady of Ashru, and men represent him with the curled lock of youth, for he is ever young and beautiful.
Then the King stood before the great statue of Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep and said, "O my good Lord, I come again into thy presence on account of the daughter of the prince of Bekhten."
Then the priests lifted the statue of Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep and placed it in front of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons. And the King spoke again before Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep and said, "My good Lord, turn thy face to Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons. Grant that he may go to Bekhten."
Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep inclined his head twice in token of assent. Very marvellous was the figure of Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep.
And yet again King Rameses spoke, "Let thy protection be with him. Grant that I may send the Majesty of Khonsu to Bekhten to save Bent-reshy, the little sister of the Great Royal Wife."
Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep inclined his head twice in token of assent. Very marvellous
was the figure of Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep. And he gave his magical protection four times to Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons.
Then King Rameses gave command, and Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, was placed in the Great Boat; and around the Great Boat were five small boats, with chariots and horses, numerous and splendid, on the right hand and on the left. The retinue of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, was the retinue of a king. For a year and five months they journeyed until they reached Bekhten.
The prince of Bekhten came out with his bowmen and his courtiers to meet Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, with a royal welcome, and they entered into his presence as into the presence of a king. The prince of Bekhten fell on his knees and laid his forehead on the ground at the feet of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, and said, "Thou hast come to us. O, be kind to us according to the words of Rameses, King of Egypt."
They brought Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, to the chamber of Bent-reshy, the little sister of the Great Royal Wife; and he made a magical protection over her. Lo, there happened a wonder and a marvel, for she was well and whole in a moment.
Then the spirit, who had been in her, spoke in the presence of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, "Thou hast come in peace, O great God, Expeller
of Demons. Bekhten is thy city, its people are thy slaves. I bow before thee, for I also am thy slave. I will go to that place from which I came that thy heart may have peace. But ere I go, let the Majesty of Khonsu give command that a holy day be made for me by the prince of Bekhten."
When he had heard these words, Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, inclined his head to the priest and said, "Let the prince of Bekhten make a great sacrifice for this spirit."
The prince of Bekhten, and his soldiers and his courtiers heard the voices of the spirit and of the god, and they trembled and were exceedingly afraid. They obeyed the command of the god and prepared a great sacrifice for Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, and for the spirit that came out of Bent-reshy, the little sister of the Great Royal Wife, the daughter of the prince of Bekhten. And they made a holy day with offerings, sacrifices, and libations.
So the spirit, in the form of a Shining One, went his way in peace out of the land of Bekhten, and he went whithersoever it pleased him, as Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, had commanded.
The prince of Bekhten was glad and his heart rejoiced, and all the people rejoiced also that the spirit had been driven out of Bent-reshy and out of the land of Bekhten. But in the midst of
his joy and gladness, fear came upon the heart of the prince of Bekhten lest the spirit should return and take up his abode again in the land, when Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, had departed. He took counsel with himself and said, "I will keep Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, in Bekhten. I will not let him return to Egypt." So Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, remained three years, four months, and five days in Bekhten, for the prince of Bekhten would not let him go.
And at the end of that time the prince of Bekhten lay upon his bed at night and slept, and while he slept a vision passed before his eyes. He dreamed that he stood before the shrine of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons; the great doors of the shrine were folded back and the god came forth, stepping out between the doors. He changed into the form of a hawk with feathers of gold, burnished and beautiful, and soared high into the air with wings outspread, and like an arrow he darted towards Egypt.
When the prince of Bekhten awoke, he was exceedingly afraid, for he feared the wrath of the Gods. And he sent for the priest of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, and said to him, "The god is estranged from us, he has returned to Egypt. Let his chariot also return to Egypt." The prince of Bekhten gave command that the god should be taken back to Egypt, and he loaded the god with gifts. Great and numerous were
the gifts of all manner of beautiful things that the prince of Bekhten gave to Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons.
For many months they journeyed, and with them went an escort of soldiers and horses from the land of Bekhten. They arrived in safety at Thebes, and entered into the temple of Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep.
Then Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, gave to Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep all the gifts, the rich and costly gifts, which he had received from the prince of Bekhten; nothing did he keep for himself. Thus ended the journey of Khonsu, the Expeller of Demons, the great God.