Egyptian short story – Anonymous: about 1400 B.C.
The manuscript of this story was found during the Nineteenth Century in the tomb of a Coptic monk. Nothing is known of the author, but it is assumed that he lived not long after the time of the probable origin of the Egyptian short story. Setna and the Magic Book is one of those wonder tales that have from time immemorial evoked the admiration of the world, and particularly of the Orientals.
Whether or not the Egyptians actually believed all they were told in a fairy tale is an idle conjecture: but it seems probable that the strange happenings described in this story were accepted by many. Even the present age of science has not entirely banished a belief in magic: some of the finest of modern tales are based upon an ineradicable belief in the supernal oral.
Senta and the Macig Book
The mighty King User-maat.ra (Rameses the Great) had a son named Setna Kha.em.uast who was a great scribe, and very learned in all the ancient writings. And he heard that the magic book of Thoth, by which a man may enchant heaven and earth, and know the language of all birds and beasts, was buried in the cemetery of Memphis. And he went to search for it with his brother An.he.hor.eru; and when they found the tomb of the King’s son, Na.nefer.ka.ptah, son of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Mer.neb.ptah, Setna opened it and went in.
Now in the tomb was Na.nefer.ka.ptah, and with him was the ka of his wife Ahura; for though she was buried at Koptos, her kadwelt at Memphis with her husband, whom she loved. And Setna saw them seated before their offerings, and the book lay between them.
And Na.nefer.ka.ptah said to Setna, “Who are you that break into my tomb in this way?” He said, “I am Setna, son of the great King User.- maat.ra, living forever, and I come for that book which I see between you.” And Na.nefer.ka.ptah said, “It cannot be given to you.” Then said Setna, “But I will carry it away by force.”