The Enchanted Island – Ancient Egyptian Myth

The Enchanted Island

On his return from an unsuccessful trade mission in Nubia, an Egyptian envoy bemoaned his misfortune, provoking a sailor to console him by telling a tale that began with tragedy but ended happily.

An unnamed sailor was on a voyage on the Red Sea, destined for the Royal mines. His 200 foot long vessel was well-appointed, and stoutly manned by more than a hundred crewmen. But then the sky suddenly darkened and a violent storm overwhelmed the ship. She vanished beneath the waves, as did everyone on board, except the narrator.

The survivor managed to stay afloat, bobbing on the now calm surface of the sea, but he was beginning to lose strength. Just in time he found himself washed ashore on an island that had all the appearance of an earthly paradise: it was overflowing with fruits and vegetables, and all the fish and fowl the hungry sailor could wish for.

However, a giant serpent, with a body of gold and eyebrows of lapis lazuli, also lived there. The monster threatened the sailor with instant incineration if he did not explain his arrival. But the Sailor was rigid with fear. The serpent took him to its lair, whereupon the Sailor recounted his tale.

The serpent then told its own sorry story. ”Once there were seventy-five snakes here,” it said, “including all my kin. But a burning star fell and killed all of them except me. Fate will be kinder to you. A ship will arrive in four months, and you will return safely to your home.”

The ship arrived as the snake had promised, and the sailor boarded it, laden with gifts from the now friendly monster. On his return home, the King was so pleased that he made the voyager a royal attendant and granted him many servants.