Episode 44: The Shipwrecked Sailor


A Fable of the Sea.

Sometime during the Twelfth Dynasty, a folk-tale was composed (or became popular) that would echo through the ages as one of Egypt’s most enduring tales.

The Shipwrecked Sailor tells of a nameless Egyptian who is marooned on a mythical island. He meets a god, gains valuable wisdom of life, and returns home to tell of his tale and share the wealth he has acquired.

The story is a classic fable of the sea, the tropes of which can be felt in such diverse tales as the Thousand and One Nights of Arabia, or Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Banner - Copy

Direct Download (Save As mp3)

The only image I’ve found of this story, given a visual interpretation. Why does the serpent have arms?! (Source: Petrie’s publications, via levigilant.com – a dated translation).


W.K. Simpson (editor), The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 2006 (Archive.org Pdf Copy). Amazon page. Primary translation for this episode.

Peter der Manuelian, “Interpreting the Shipwrecked Sailor,” in Festschrift für Emmer Brunner-Traut (1992). Free Online Copy.

John Baines, “Interpreting the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology76 (1990). Online pdf.

Fordham University – The Shipwrecked Sailor, online article.

St. Andrews University – Hieroglyphic text, transliteration and translation.