Pepi II around 2250 BC
Pepi II, According to tradition, lived to the age of 100 years and ruled for 96 of them. His elder brother, the pharaoh Merenra, reigned for only a few years and when he suddenly died, Pepi became king while still a child.
There are many surviving inscriptions from this period recording trading expeditions to the south. One of the most interesting concerns the caravan leader, Harkhuf. He had made many journeys into Nubia, (the Sudan) and on one occasion wrote to the nine year old Pepi II, describing a dancing dwarf he was bringing back to Egypt. The excitement of the little king is conspicuous in the letter he wrote to Harkhuf. It is possible to see in his words, a young fellow, unable to contain himself and forgetting his royal dignity.
Pepi II and the Dwarf
“You have said in your letter that you have come down in safety from Yam with the army and brought many beautiful gifts which Hathor, Lady of Yamu, has given to the King of Upper and Lower Egypt.
You also say in this letter that you have brought a dwarf of divine dances from the land of the horizon-dwellers. Like the dwarf whom the Treasurer of the God, Baurded, brought from Punt in the time of King Isesi.
You say to my Majesty, Never before has one like him been brought by any other who has visited Yam.
Each year you do what your lord desires – spending day and night with the caravan. Now come northward at once to the Court. You must bring the dwarf, alive, sound and well to rejoice and gladden the heart of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt.
When he comes down with you into the ship, appoint reliable people who shall be beside him on each side of the vessel and take care lest he should fall into the water.
When he sleeps at night, appoint trustworthy people who shall sleep beside him. Inspect him ten times a night because my Majesty desires to see this dwarf more than the all products of Sinai and Punt.
If you arrive at the Court and the dwarf is with you, alive, and well, my Majesty will make you many excellent honours to be an ornament for the son of your son for ever. All the people will say when they hear what my Majesty does for you: “Is there anything like this which was done for the privy counsellor Harkhuf, when he came down from Yam.”
Ancient Egyptian Anecdotes
The Ancient Egyptians in their own words
Illustrated Papyri translations edited for the modern reader.