Egyptian Myths and Legends

Week 2: Ancient Near East - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Dedi and the Children of Rud-dedit

Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 800 words.

After these two stories by Prince Khafra, you will now read the story that Prince Hordadef tells to his father. The Prince describes the powers of the magician Dedi, and then he actually summons the magician into his father's presence. You will see that King Khufu does not like at all what this magician, the mighty Dedi, says to him.

Next Prince Hordadef stood before the king, and he said: "Your Majesty has heard tales regarding the wonders performed by magicians in other days, but I can bring forth a worker of marvels who now lives in the kingdom."

King Khufu said: "And who is he, my son?"

"His name is Dedi," answered Prince Hordadef. "He is a very old man, for his years are a hundred and ten. Each day he eats a joint of beef and five hundred loaves of bread, and drinks a hundred jugs of beer. He can smite off the head of a living creature and restore it again; he can make a lion follow him; and he knows the secrets of the habitation of the god Thoth, which Your Majesty has desired to know so that you may design the chambers of your pyramid."

King Khufu said: "Go now and find this man for me, Hordadef."

The prince went down to the Nile, boarded a boat, and sailed southward until he reached the town called Dedsnefru, where Dedi had his dwelling. He went ashore, and was carried in his chair of state towards the magician, who was found lying at his door. When Dedi was awakened, the king's son saluted him and bade him not to rise up because of his years. The prince said: "My royal father desires to honour you, and will provide for you a tomb among your people."

Dedi blessed the prince and the king with thankfulness, and he said to Hordadef: "Greatness be thine; may your Ka have victory over the powers of evil, and may your Khu follow the path which leads to Paradise."

Hordadef assisted Dedi to rise up, and took his arm to help him towards the ship. He sailed away with the prince, and in another ship were his assistants and his magic books.

"Health and strength and plenty be thine," said Hordadef, when he again stood before his royal father King Khufu. "I have come down stream with Dedi, the great magician."

His Majesty was well pleased, and said: "Let the man be brought into my presence." Dedi came and saluted the king, who said: "Why have I not seen you before?"

"He that is called cometh," answered the old man; "you have sent for me and I am here."

"It is told," King Khufu said, "that you can restore the head that is taken from a live creature."

"I can indeed, Your Majesty," answered Dedi.

The king said: "Then let a prisoner be brought forth and decapitated."

"I would rather it were not a man," said Dedi; "I do not deal even with cattle in such a manner."

A duck was brought forth and its head was cut off, and the head was thrown to the right and the body to the left. Dedi spoke magic words. Then the head and the body came together, and the duck rose up and quacked loudly. The same was done with a goose.

King Khufu then caused a cow to be brought in, and its head was cut off. Dedi restored the animal to life again, and caused it to follow him.

His Majesty then spoke to the magician and said: "It is told that you possess the secrets of the dwelling of the god Thoth."

Dedi answered: "I do not possess them, but I know where they are concealed, and that is within a temple chamber at Heliopolis. There the plans are kept in a box, but it is no insignificant person who shall bring them to Your Majesty."

"I would fain know who will deliver them unto me," King Khufu said.

Dedi prophesied that three sons would be born to Rud-dedit, wife of the chief priest of Ra. The eldest would become chief priest at Heliopolis and would possess the plans. He and his brothers would one day sit upon the throne and rule over all the land.

King Khufu's heart was filled with gloom and alarm when he heard the prophetic words of the great magician.

Dedi then said: "What are your thoughts, O King? Behold your son will reign after you, and then his son. But next one of these children will follow."

King Khufu was silent. Then he spoke and asked: "When shall these children be born?"

Dedi informed His Majesty, who said: "I will visit the temple of Ra at that time."

Dedi was honoured by His Majesty, and thereafterwards dwelt in the house of the Prince Hordadef. He was given daily for his portion an ox, a thousand loaves of bread, a hundred jugs of beer, and a hundred bunches of onions.

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what were Dedi's powers?
  • how did he restore the heads of the animals?
  • why was the king alarmed by Dedi's prophecies?

Source: Egyptian Myth and Legend by Donald Mackenzie (1907). Weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM