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Popular Stories of Ancient Egypt

Sir Gaston Maspero
Edited by Hasan El-Shamy

Publication Date - 21 October 2004

ISBN: 9780195173352

432 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

The definitive anthology of ancient Egyptian tales


The tales of ancient Egypt have for centuries delighted and spurred the imagination of anyone who loves a good story, yet sadly, many of these tales have fallen into obscurity over the years. Now these stories have been brought back to life for a new generation of readers.

When first published in 1882, the folktales collected in Popular Stories of Ancient Egypt comprised the first anthology of ancient Egyptian narratives ever to be compiled into book form. The culmination of a life's work by Gaston Maspero, a towering figure of nineteenth-century Egyptology, it presented a wealth of information on Egyptian culture, language, history, and society. Since its publication, additional texts have been discovered, deciphered, or translated into modern languages. The present collection is made up of twenty-four tales gleaned from countless ancient written sources, and from a variety of historical periods. It contains some of the most ancient folktales in existence, such as The Tale of the Two Brothers, thought to be the oldest in the world. Other stories include King Khufui and the Magicians, The Lamentations of the Fellah, The Shipwrecked Sailor, The Adventure of Satni-Khamois with the Mummies, The Doomed Prince, and The Story of Rhampsinitus. This edition contains a new Foreword that introduces Maspero and describes his work, and provides for the first time extensive identifications of the ancient stories in terms of international tale-types and motifs.

Certain to be of interest to folklorists, this classic collection will also amuse parents, students, storytellers, and anyone who enjoys authentic folk wisdom.

About the Author(s)

Sir Gaston Maspero (1846-1916) was a leading expert on Egyptian art and the Head of the Antiquities Service in Cairo for twenty years. Hasan El-Shamy is Professor of Folklore at the University of Indiana.


"These stories from Gaston Maspero's classic volume...are accompanied by extensive footnotes that detail social expectations and patterns of behavior in ancient Egyptian society, making the texts comprehensible to modern readers.... Included are important discussions of backgrounds, research methodologies, tale types, and motifs. Each story receives its own brief introduction as well, including provenance, dating of manuscripts, thematic and content discussions, and comparison with other tales."--Library Journal