chapter  3
The Text as a Source: The Activities of a Vizier
Pages 24

The present chapter provides an integrated summary of the information supplied by the text concerning the activities of a vizier. It is not concerned with matters of e.g. historical validity, background and possible discrepancies (for such matters, see the next chapter). To the modern mind the ideal result of the chapter would probably be the identification of a set of separate viziral tasks in the form of a list. The list would contain individual entries on e.g. juridical and agrarian tasks, on security and military duties etc. This proves to be an exceedingly difficult enterprise. Moreover, it would entail a distortion of the reality represented by the text. Various viziral tasks appear to be all derivations of three main aspects of his work that stand in a particular relationship to each other. To list the duties independently without further comment would mean a failure to recognize the three aspects as basic to the vizier's activities. It would, moreover, amount to the implicit application of modern, western models - inspired by the concept of developed specialisation as governing the main services of the state and society - to the multifunctional system of ancient Egypt. The various viziral duties - which in modern society would be regarded as independent features of government - appear to derive from three basic aspects. Together they characterize the multifunctional office and tasks of a vizier. Ultimately, one aspect will be shown to be fundamental to the other two and thus to all viziral tasks. The above remarks have suggested the structure of the present chapter. The three main aspects will be discussed in an initial integrated analysis. Thereafter, a number of related subjects will be dealt with under separate headings.