Sheet from the Tale of Two Brothers, Papyrus D’Orbiney
End of the 19th Dynasty, around 1185 BC
'The story centers around two brothers; Anubis, the elder, who is married and looks after the younger Bata. The brothers work together, farming land and raising cattle. One day, Anubis' wife attempts to seduce Bata, but he rejects her advances. The wife then tells her husband that his brother attempted to seduce her. In response to this, Anubis attempts to kill Bata, who flees and prays to Re-Harakhti to save him. The god creates a crocodile-infested lake between the two brothers, across which Bata is finally able to appeal to his brother and share his side of the events. To emphasize his sincerity, Bata severs his genitalia and throws them into the water, where a catfish eats them.
Bata states that he is going to the Valley of the Cedar, where he will place his heart on the top of the blossom of a cedar tree, so that if it is cut down Anubis will be able to find it and allow Bata to become alive again. Bata tells Anubis that if he is ever given a jar of beer that froths, he should know to seek out his brother. After hearing of his brother’s plan, Anubis returns home and kills his wife. Meanwhile, Bata is establishing a life in the Valley of the Cedar, building a new home for himself. Bata comes upon the Ennead, or the principal Egyptian deities, who take pity on him. Khnum, the god who is frequently depicted in Egyptian mythology as having fashioned humans on a potters’ wheel, creates a wife for Bata. Because of her divine creation, Bata’s wife is sought after by the pharaoh. When he succeeds in bringing her to live with him, she tells him to cut down the tree in which Bata has put his heart. They do so, and Bata dies.
Anubis then receives a frothy jar of beer, and sets off to the Valley of the Cedar. He searches for his brother’s heart for more than three years, finding it at the beginning of the fourth year. He follows Bata’s instructions and puts the heart in a bowl of cold water, and as predicted, Bata is resurrected. He then takes the form of a bull and goes to see his wife and the pharaoh. His wife, aware of his presence as a bull, asks the pharaoh if she may eat his liver. The bull is then sacrificed, and two drops of Bata’s blood fall, from which grow two Persea trees. Bata, now in the form of a tree, again addresses his wife, and again she appeals to the pharaoh to cut down the Persea trees and use them to make furniture. As this is happening, a splinter ends up in the wife’s mouth, impregnating her. She eventually gives birth to a son, whom the pharaoh ultimately makes crown prince. When the pharaoh dies, the crown prince (a resurrected Bata) becomes king, and he appoints his elder brother Anubis as crown prince. The story ends happily, with the brothers at peace with one another and in control of their country.’