Monday, November 28, 2016

The Doomed Prince - an ancient Egyptian 'unshaggy' dog story leaves us hanging...

The Prince and the Doom Dog?

There's a tantalising ancient Egyptian tale called The Doomed Prince. At the birth of the prince, oracular goddesses known as the Seven Hathors pronounced three alternative fates for the child.

Death by a dog. A crocodile. Or a snake.

One day, from the rooftop of a fortress built by his father to shield him from harm, the prince spied a man and his pet dog below. “What creature is that?” he asked a servant. “A dog, Your Highness.”

With the fateful turn of folk tales, the prince became obsessed with the idea of owning his own dog. The king relented, giving in to the youth’s pleading. “Let the boy have a coursing hound.”

“I cannot avoid my fate forever,” he told the king when he came of age.

He set off into the world to face his future, the faithful dog at his heels. After various adventures he duly came up against a snake and a crocodile – yet survived the encounters. What happened next? Maddeningly, the only surviving record of the prince’s story had suffered damage, leaving the prince’s fate and the reader of the story hanging by a papyrus thread.

Did the snake or the crocodile come back into the story to kill the prince? Or did the pet dog finally kill his master?