A few friends of mine and I are die-hard Monty Python’s Flying Circus fans, and we’ve imagined what some moments from the show would be like in ancient Egypt.
DAY OF NEPHTHYS’S BIRTH, YEAR 6
THIRD PROPHET OF AMUN XIMENPTAHIUFANKH: Our chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an actually fanatical devotion to the pharaoh … and nice linen uniforms. Oh, damn.
Using this medical papyrus of a tooth to represent a small country, we can see how International Hyksosism erodes it away from the inside. These fanatical fiends under the leadership of the so-called Suppiluliumas …
NEWSBOY: Extra, extra, read all about it! Man turns into Meshwesh!
MRS. PODGORNYMAAT: An order for two hundred thousand linen kilts …
MR. PODGORNYMAAT: If they were willing to come all the way from Crete for shendyt-kilts, they must be fairly keen on shendytu!
MR. PODGORNYMAAT: He wasnae so much a man as … a cake of fine flour soaked in honey.
MR. CARPENEFER: Oh my gods! Get me the Master of the Chariots in the House of Montu immediately!
[Cut to the Master of Chariots. He has a large Winged Disk above his desk.]
MR. CARPENEFER: It’s Carpenefer, sir, from ATEN.
MASTER: You mean AMUN?
MR. CARPENEFER: Yessir.
LEBANESE LUMBERJACK: Do you know how old she is?
MR. CARPENEFER: Who?
LEBANESE LUMBERJACK: Divine Adoratrice Karomama.
MR. CARPENEFER: No.
LEBANESE LUMBERJACK: She’s two hundred and six.
[The pyramid at Meidum collapses.]
MASTER: Okay, that’s Meidum. What’s left?
ASSISTANT: Just Qaw el-Kabir, the Sahara Desert, and your office, sir!
MASTER: Okay, let’s start with my office!
McTEAGLENMUT (voiceover): May my lord ask his old men if this be not so. Now, however, we belong no more to our lord, the king of Egypt. And now Tunis, thy city, weeps and her tears are flowing, and there is not help for us. I can pay you back when this postal order comes from Punt. Honestly. Hope the bladder trouble’s getting better.
NARRATOR: And his epic masterpiece, “What’s five talents of fine silver to the bloody Chief of the Meshwesh?”
(A Nubian gentleman appears onscreen to critique the dramatization of McTeaglenmut’s works. He is captioned A CATARACT SPOKESMAN.)
NARRATOR (as the two Medjay shake hands): What other ways are there of recognizing a Medjay?
[Shot of several men walking along by hopping with their kilts around their necks.]
[Shot of two men walking up to each other about to shake hands, but then one pulls out the severed head of an Akkadian and the other a Sherden.]
MAN: It’s the First Prophet of Montu.
WOMAN: ‘Ow do you know?
MAN: Tattooed on the back of his neck.
MEDJAY: Oh Lord, we beseech thee, tell us who croaked the First Prophet of Montu.
[seventeen golden hands descend from ceiling and point at everyone]
ENTIRE COMPANY: It’s a fair cop. [All proceed to handcuff each other and walk out while reciting the Great Hymn to the Aten.]
NARRATOR: Why is it that history never remembered the name of Akhenaten … Ka nakht mery-Aten, wer nesyt em Akhetaten, Wetjes ren en Aten, Neferkheperura wa en Ra. We asked his only living relative, Tutankhamun … Ka nakht tut mesut, nefer hepu segereh tawy, sehotep netjeru nebu, wetjes khau sehotep netjeru, Nebkheperura heqa Maat heqa Iunu shemai …
FLAMENCO GUITARISTS: iw jmjw wr r bḫnw
CAPTION: “Llamas are larger than frogs”
MRS. PREMISE: Ptahhotep, your masterwork, The Precepts, is it essentially a treatise on the proper way to live in accordance with Maat?
MRS. PREMISE: Told you so.
MRS. CONCLUSION: Oh, mtwt.
IMHOTEP: Thutmose? You can use “Nefertiti.” I won’t sue.
THUTMOSE: Thanks, but I had a better idea.
[The sculptor Thutmose indicates the beautifully painted bust resting on a block labeled THUTMOSE’S FIFTH SYMPHONY.]
NARRATOR: And now we present the terrible Sinuhe’s Story.
SENWOSRET I: It’s not that terrible.
NARRATOR: No, I meant terribly moralistic.
SENWOSRET I: Oh, yeah.
EMCEE: The struggle of the Hyksos against the Thebans was the feature of what period?
IMHOTEP: The second intermediate period.
EMCEE: The Ogdoad are the chief deities of which nome?
EMCEE: Well done, Imhotep; one more question and that beautiful House of Gold in the Theban cliffs will be yours … Who won the FA cup in 1964?
IMHOTEP (flustered): Um … er .. the Heliopolitan cosmogony. The Late Bronze Age Collapse?
EMCEE: No, I’m afraid it was West Ham United.
IMHOTEP: Ah, shit.
[Studio. A host in typical professional scribe’s gown, and a guest similarly, but with a giant obviously fake back of the head.]
HOST: With me in the studio tonight, one of the Two Lands’ leading skin specialists, Rꜥmnd dpt ꜥꜣt.
MR. dpt ꜥjt.: That’s not my name!
HOST: I’m sorry, Rꜥmnd dpt ꜥjt.
MR. dpt ꜥjt.: No no no, it’s spelled Rꜥmnd dpt ꜥjt, but it’s pronounced Swt sdꜣt ḫꜥmw.
HOST: You’re a very silly man and I’m not going to interview you.
MR. dpt ꜥjt.: Ah! Anti-Atenism!
HOST: Not at all! It’s not even a proper skull! [Reaches up and pulls it off the guest’s head.] It’s cartonnage!
MR. dpt ꜥjt.: Give me my skull back!
HOST: You can collect it in reception; now go away.
MR. dpt ꜥjt.: I want to be on television!
HOST: Well you can’t.