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Mila Consley

Document Pair 2

TTH 8:00

1084 Words

Primary Source Essay 1

Hekanakhtes Household and The Story of the Flood are both passages that contain a

central problem and follow the main character to show how they address that problem. The

author of these two passages each intentionally included themes of family, power, and assistance.

In Hekanakhtes Household, there was a famine in Egypt due to the level of Nile

flooding. Hekanakhte wrote to his mother and family, first asking if she is alive and prospering.

The way he responded to the crisis was he sent her a ration plan that she should follow because

the whole household are like [his] children, everything is [his].1 Even though he was her son,

he felt a duty to protect her and the family. The famine, probably due to flooding according to

the preface, caused Hekanakhte to reach out to his family in writing and send help to them. In

this passage, family is a huge theme.

The Story of the Flood is less realistic and follows more of a storyline. This story

involved the wrath of the god, Enlil, who threatened to exterminate mankind. When the gods

agreed to this, the god Ea appeared to this man in a dream to warn him. He instructed him to tear

down his house and use it to build a boat. Once he did, the rain began to fall; it fell for six days

and six nights. In the end, the man invited all gods except Enlil to a sacrificial offering. He did

1Hekanakhtes Household, in Worlds Together Worlds Apart a Companion Reader, Vol. 1, 2nd
ed., ed. Elizabeth Pollard and Clifford Rosenburg (New York W.W. Norton, 2016), 63.
not invite Enlil because he was the god that caused all of the destruction. Revenge is a big theme

in this passage. Enlil brought destruction to him, so he did not invite Enlil to his offering.

In this passage, there is also a theme of family. It says, I loaded into her all that I had of

gold and of living things, my family, my kin, the beast of the field both wild and tame, and all of

the craftsmen.2 The author of this passage put gold before family for a specific reason. The

author is suggesting that gold is more important than family in a very subtle way. Although

subtle, he did this intentionally. Throughout the passage, the mans family is only mentioned

twice. Even at the end of the passage, it says that he was placed to live at the mouth of the river.

There is no mention that his family got to go with him.

In contrast to The Story of the Flood, Hekanakhtes Household displays the theme of

family as being very important. When Hekanakhte wrote to his mother, he started by showing

concern as he asked, How are you? Are you alive, prosperous and healthy?3 He was

concerned about his familys wellbeing. This passage shows more concern for family in contrast

to The Story of the Flood where family is a disposable feature. According to Hekanakhte, they

are beginning to eat men, and, there are no people to whom those rations are given

anywhere.4 This shows how thoughtful he was in sending this to his family because nobody but

his family received rations. He was exemplifying true leadership and love towards his family.

In both Hekanakhtes Household and The Story of the Flood, there are themes of power.

In Hekanakhtes Household it states, Dont make me write to you about it another time.5 This

statement is a statement of authority and power. At that point, he was talking to his son about

2 The Story of the Flood, in Worlds Together Worlds Apart a Companion Reader, Vol. 1, 2nd
ed., ed. Elizabeth Pollard and Clifford Rosenburg (New York W.W. Norton, 2016), 71.
3 Hekanakhtes Household, 62.
4 Hekanakhtes Household, 63.
5 Hekanakhtes Household, 64.
giving what does not belong to him back to the owner. His tone toward his mother was very

different than toward his son. Although his tone toward his mother was powerful and

authoritarian, there was a sense of respect to that tone. When he wrote to his son, it was a tone of

sole authoritarian and power. He did not suggest that his son returns the belongings, he required

and demanded that he did.

In The Story of the Flood, the theme of power is present as well. The power in this

passage is portrayed primarily by the god, Enlil. Enlil became enraged when, the world teemed,

the people multiplied, the world bellowed like a wild bull,6 When he saw this, he got so

enraged that he went to the council of gods and they agreed to exterminate mankind. In the end

when he saw that not everyone was wiped out, he was enraged yet again because things did not

go how he wanted things to go.

The theme of assistance is apparent in both passages as well. In Hekanakhtes

Household, assistance is prevalent throughout the entire message. Hekanakhte was aware of the

famine and immediately wrote to his family and sent help in the form of reassurance and rations.

Again, although he was the son, he felt a duty to his family, so he helped them and provided a

way of assistance. He wrote, the whole land is perished while [you] are not hungry.7 He was

saying that if it were not for his assistance, they would have no food and might possibly have to

resort to eating people, like it says later in the passage.

In The Story of the Flood, the theme of assistance took place when Ea warned the man

about the flood in his dream. Ea said to him, tear down your house and build a boat, abandon

possessions and look for life, despise worldly goods and save your soul alive.8 Ea saved the

6 The Story of the Flood, 70.


7 Hekanakhtes Household, 60.
8 The Story of the Flood, 71.
mans life by telling him about the flood and destruction even when he was not supposed to. Not

only did he provide assistance by warning, but he provided assistance by providing a way out.

He told him specifically to build a boat and told him exactly what measurements were needed to

build that boat.

Although these two passages take place in two different places, at different times, and in

different circumstances, they share many similarities. The authors intentionally included themes

of family, power, and assistance in each of these sources.

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