Siosire & the Sorcerer of Nubia
One day, a haughty Nubian appeared before the court of king Ramesses II in Memphis, and issued a challenge to the best scholars of Egypt, testing their abilities in magic. Holding a sealed papyrus up to the king, he asked, “Can anyone here read this letter without opening it?”
Perplexed by the Nubian’s challenge and fearing humiliation, Ramesses called for Prince Setna, the most learned of his sons. Setna too was baffled; but, rather than admit defeat, he asked for ten days grace to wrestle with the problem.
Setna had no idea how to read the strange letter, and simply fretted anxiously at home. When his young son Siosire tried to comfort him, he said, “You are only twelve. A child cannot help me here.” Eventually, however, Siosire persuaded his father to explain the problem. “But that’s easy,”said the boy, “I can do that!” He asked Setna to bring him a papyrus scroll. as the boy promised, he was able to read it while his father held it still rolled up.
The next day Siosire went with his father to meet the Pharaoh and the arrogant Nubian. At once, the boy proceeded to read from the scroll tied to the Nubian’s belt. And what he read shocked the court.
It was a tale from the distant past, when the prince of Nubia had used the powers of his magician Sa-Neheset to bring Egypt’s pharaoh to the Nubian Court. There he received a brutal and shameful beating. The Pharaoh in turn sought magical aid from his own master magician, Sa-Paneshe, and the struggle between the two nations turned into a battle of wills between two great magicians, which Sa-Paneshe eventually won.
The young Siosire reached the end of his reading.” Now, O King,” said the boy, “ I can tell you why this Nubian is here. For he is Sa-Neheset, born again. But I, too, have been reborn: I am Sa-Paneshe, and I challenge him once again!” For hours the sorcerers fought spell against spell, the one seeking to destroy Egypt’s court, the other to save it. At last Siosire, or Sa-Paneshe, sent a fire spell the other could not resist, and Sa-Neheset was consumed in flames.