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The ‘Aesthetics’ of Demotic Narratives

  • Lawrence Xu-Nan
Tuesday 14 June 2016
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden

Lawrence Xu-Nan (University of Auckland) will fill us in on the beauty of Demotic literature. Demotic is both a script and the language used by the ancient Egyptians from c. 650 BCE onwards. As a script it compares to hieroglyphs as our shorthand would to printed text. It was used to record numerous literary texts, which are not very well-known in mainstream Egyptology, such as the famous Inaros cycle.



Narrative literature, in most cases, is meant to be enjoyable. It is meant to delight, provoke, and resonate. Guided by manipulating literary devices and linguistic patterns, it allows its audience to experience the full spectrum of human emotions. However, when it comes to the study of Egyptian narratives, we tend to focus less on their entertainment and literary purpose. In saying that, the Demotic story cycle of Inaros has received much attention over the past few decades, with a growing interest in its composition, reception, and potential entertainment value. Yet, we are only uncovering the tip of the iceberg. The present paper will focus on two aspects of this series of Demotic narratives by utilising a plethora of interdisciplinary approaches –the structure of the narratives themselves and some  observations on characterisation. One hopes that by taking the audience on a journey into the literary world of Inaros, there would be a better awareness of what can only be considered one of the masterpieces of the Egyptian literary corpus.

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