The Eloquent Peasant is an Ancient Egyptian story about a peasant, Khun-Anup, who stumbles upon the property of the noble Rensi son of Meru, guarded by its harsh overseer, Nemtynakht. It is set in the Ninth or Tenth Dynasty around Herakleopolis.
The story begins with a peasant, Khun-anup, and his donkey stumbling on to the lands of the noble Rensi son of Meru. Nemtynakht, the overseer of a noble's lands, was renowned for his misdeeds and tricked Khun-anup into causing damage to his master Rensi's property by spreading a sheet across the road beside the farm, forcing Khun-anup and his donkeys to walk through the crops. Once the donkey began to eat the grain, Nemtynakht took custody of the donkey and started to beat Khun-anup, knowing that Rensi would believe the word of his overseer rather than any allegations of trickery and theft from Khun-anup.
Khun-anup searched for Rensi and found him near the riverside of the city. He addressed him with praises. Rensi and his judges heard his case and replied that witnesses to Nemtynakht's alleged crime were needed for the case to continue. Khun-anup could find none, but the magnificent speech of the eloquent peasant convinced Rensi to continue to consider his case. Rensi brought the case before pharaoh Nebkaure (who is believed to be Nebkaure Khety) and told him of Khun-anup's rhetorical powers. The king was impressed, but ordered the peasant not be given justice just yet and his petitions to be put in writing.
For nine days Khun-anup complimented the high steward Rensi and begged for justice. After sensing that he was being ignored, Khun-anup insulted him and was punished with a beating. After one last speech, the discouraged peasant left, but Rensi sent for him and ordered him to return. But rather than being punished for his insolence, the peasant was given justice. Rensi, after reading Khun-anup's last speech, was impressed and ordered the donkeys to be returned to Khun-anup and the peasant to be compensated with all the property of Nemtynakht, including his job, making Nemtynakht as poor as Khun-anup had been.
- This article is about an item held in the British Museum. The object reference is EA 10274.
- ^Parkinson, Richard (1991). The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant. Griffith Institute. ISBN 0900416602.
- ^"The Eloquent Peasant (5)". AEL Email List. Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
- ^Parkinson, R B (1999), The Tale of Sinuhe and other ancient Egyptian poems, 1940–1640 BC, New York, ISBN 978-0-19-283966-4
- ^Lichtheim, M (1973). Ancient Egyptian Literature. Vol.1. pp. 169–184.
- ^Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs. An introduction, Oxford University Press, 1961, p. 112.
- ^William C. Hayes, in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol 1, part 2, 1971 (2008), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-077915, p. 465.