Exile, Identity, and Adaptation in Ancient Egypt: Sinuhe, Wenamun, and Wermai

Exile, Identity, and Adaptation in Ancient Egypt: Sinuhe, Wenamun, and Wermai

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  • Teaching Notes
Abstract

Three extraordinary stories from ancient Egypt describe an Egyptian forced to exile or to endure a difficult situation in unfamiliar lands. Confronted both with a hostile environment and with the impossibility of returning to their homelands, Sinuhe, Wenamun, and Wermai saw their values questioned, their loyalties tested, and their own identities put under stress. These three stories reveal very distinctive personalities and qualities of leadership that led to very different results. As these solutions depended on the capacities of Sinuhe, Wermai, and Wenamun to evaluate their situation, to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them, and to adapt to a new environment, their cases represent an excellent opportunity to think about leadership as well as about the conditions in which it is exercised when the normal chain of command and of decision-taking is missing.

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