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The Papyrus of Astarte

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Apr. 25th, 2014 | 11:43 am

... is in so many tattered pieces, apparently, that it's not even clear what the story is about. Alan H. Gardiner thinks the Egyptian gods ask Astarte to intervene on their behalf with the greedy, bellicose sea, but even that's just an educated guess. One of the few fragments that's more than a few words in length is this bit of dialogue, presumably spoken by the sea:
"... saw Astarte, as she sat upon the shore(?) of the sea. Then he said to her: Whence comest thou, O daughter of Ptah, thou angry and furious goddess? Hast thou ruined thy sandals which were thy feet, and hast thou rent the clothes which were upon thee, through this going and coming which thou hast made in the sky and the earth? Then said unto him Astarte..."
Astarte's "going and coming... in the sky and the earth" reminds me of Inanna's tiring trip in Inanna and Shukaletuda: "after my lady had gone around the heavens, after she had gone around the earth". I forget who pointed out that proper Mesopotamian women didn't leave the house and wander about like that, but it makes me wonder if the sea is mocking Astarte, a not dissimilar goddess, for her unladylike behaviour. What a shame her reply is missing!

Alan H. Gardiner. The Astarte Papyrus. Egypt Exploration Society. Studies presented to F. Ll. Griffith. Milford : Oxford University Press, 1932. pp 74-85.

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