Excerpts from an account of the Battle
of Kadesh between the Egyptians and the Hittites
during the Time of Rameses II
Excerpts from Gaston C. C. Maspero, Life in Ancient Egypt and Assyria (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1917), pp. 178-190.
Behold, the King of Khita, he and the nations he has brought with him in great numbers, all the peoples that dwell in the land of Khita, from the whole of Naharanna and Sidi. Now he is powerful with many soldiers, with chariot soldiers with their harness, as many as the sand of the seashore, and they are ready to fight behind Kadesh.
See what the chiefs of the scouts and the vassal princes of the lands of Pharaoh have done. They have said daily unto me, "The King of Khita is at Khilibu; he has fled before Pharaoh." They have asserted this as a certainty, and behold I have now learnt from the two spies that the King of Khita has come up with much people, with men and horses as many as the sand, and that he is behind Kadesh. Yet the scouts of the vassal princes of the land knew nothing of this.
The fault is great that the governors of the land and the vassal princes of Pharaoh have committed in neglecting to watch the movements of the Khita.
"My lord, 0 generous king! Egypt's great protector in the day of battle! behold, we are alone in the midst of the enemy, for the archers and chariots have left us. Let us return, that our lives may be saved. Save us, 0 my lord, Rameses Miamun!"
"Take courage, strengthen thine heart, O mine equerry! I will go amongst them like the hawk pounces upon his prey ; killing and massacring, I will lay them in the dust! What, therefore, are these wretches in thine eyes? Amen has delivered thein into mine hand."
"I invoke thee, O my father Amen! behold me in the midst of a numerous and strange people ; all the nations are united against me, and I am alone; no other is with me. My soldiers have abandoned me, not one of our horsemen have looked towards me, and when I called to them not one of them hearkened unto my voice. But I believe that Amen is stronger on my side than a million soldiers, than a hundred thousand horsemen, than a myriad of brothers or of young sons, were they all assembled here. The work or many men is as nothing; Amen will outweigh them all. I have done all things according to thy counsels, O Amen! and I have not disobeyed thy words. Behold, I render glory unto thee, even to the extremities of the earth!'
"This is not a man in the midst of us, it is Sutekh, the great warrior; it is Baal himself. These are not the deeds of a man; alone, quite alone, he repulses hundreds of thousands, without captains or soldiers. Let us make haste and flee before him; let us save our lives that we may yet breathe upon earth."
'Thou, O great warrior! hast saved thine army. Son of the god Atmu and the work of his hands, thou hast destroyed the people of Khita with thy powerful scimitar! Thou art the perfect warrior, and there is no king that fights like thee for his soldiers in the day of battle! Thou art the bravest of heroes, thou art foremost in the conflict, and dost not even inquire if the whole world be united against thee! Thou art the bravest of the brave before thine army and before the whole world! No one can deny it. Thou art the protector of Egypt and the chastisement of the nations! Thou hast broken the power of the Khita for ever!
"What a crime you have cominitted, oh, my generals, my foot soldiers, my chariot soldiers, in not joining in the fight! Is not a man honoured by his country when he has displayed his courage by the side of his lord, and won the fame of a warrior. Verily, verily, a man is valued for his bravery."
"Have I not shown kindness to you all, that you should leave me alone in the midst of the enemy? You were afraid and you are still alive; you still breathe, and I, through your fault, am left alone. Could you not say in your hearts that I am your rampart of iron? What will my father, Amen-ra of Thebes, say when he knows that you left me alone, unaided? That not one prince, not one officer of the chariots or the armies was ready to help m?
"I have fought, I have repulsed millions of nations with mine own hand. Force-in-Thebes and Maut-is-satisfied were my great horses, they were under my hand when I was alone in the midst of the trembling enemy. Henceforth their food shall be given them before me, each day, when I am in my palace; for I found them when I was in the midst of the enemy, with the chief, Menni, mine equerry, and with the officers of my household who accompany me, and who are my witnesses in the fight: they are all that I found. I have returned victorious from the battle, and with my sword have I smitten the assembled multitudes."
This is to satisfy the heart of Pharaoh, of the god who vo1untarily diffuses his vivifying influence, of the lord, the valorous bull, who loves the truth, of the supreme king, who protects his soldiers, of the hero with the invincible sword, the bulwark of his soldiers in the day of battle, of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Rauserma-sotepenra, son of the Sun, Rameses Miamun. Thy servant Khitasir speaks to thee, to lay before thee that, being thyself the son of Amen, formed of his substance, as he has delivered all lands unto thee, the land of Egypt and the land of the Khita unite to lay their services at thy feet. Ra, thine august father, has given strength and victory unto thee ; deign to spare us, thou whose souls are great ! Thy valour has weighed heavily upon the nation of the Khita, but is it good for thee to kill thy servants? Thou art their master ; will thy face be always angry towards us ; wilt thou not calm thyself? Yesterday thou hast appeared and thou has killed hundreds of thousands ; if thou appear today. no one will be left to be subject uiito thee.. Abandon thy designs, oh, victorious king, the genius that delights in battles. Grant to us the breath of life !
"Behold, now, this is excellent ! Deign to be calmed, O sovereign, our master ! If mercy be not extended to Khitasir, to whom should it be granted? He adores thee ; consent then to calm thy wrath."
Naharannais the country between Orontes and Balikh ; Sidi, the coast of Cilicia, the Ketis of the Greek geographers.