King Merenre I

Pepi I's successor, Merenra I, is the fourth king of the Sixth Dynasty, ruled for a short period, and there is a possibility that he participated of his father for some years, and then relinquished power for a period of almost 9 years, and died while still in the early second decade of his age.

King Merenre I

In Egyptology, it sometimes happens that from a biography of a secondary character one can deduce the history of sovereigns of whom nothing has come down to us.

This is the case of the Weni official who seems to have worked under three different rulers. Just this fact poses a serious problem. Weni had previously held a position of secondary importance under the reign of Teti, and, apparently, the reign of his successor, Pepi I, would have lasted over 5 years.

Assuming that Merenre only came to the throne after his father's death, Weni must have been past sixty when he entered the service of the new ruler. Yet under Merenra other heavy tasks awaited him: it is difficult to believe that they were entrusted to a man at such an advanced age.

The problem would be partly if not completely resolved if it was discovered that Pepi I joined the government several years before he died, so that sovereign orders may have been issued on behalf of both, and in fact concrete discoveries have been made, albeit scarce, evidence of such coherence.

At the beginning of Merenra's reign it appears that Weni was a simple chamberlain and "bearer of the king's sandals", but not long afterward he was elevated to the office of governor of Upper Egypt. As in charge of this very important administrative function in the southern half of the country he had to collect all the income due to the Residence and collect the workforce, a task he carried out twice before being sent to a distant quarry in Nubia to take the sarcophagus and a precious pyramidion for the pyramid of the king, while in Elephantine he grabbed the red granite doors and other architectural elements for the same monument.

Another grandiose task entrusted to him by Merenra was to cut five navigable canals in the first cataract and build seven acacia wood boats supplied by the heads of various districts of Nubia. In his first year of reign Merenra personally visited the region of the first cataract to receive the tribute of the chieftains of Medja, Irtje, and Wawae. Merenra reigned for just over ten years. In his funeral complex, there is a hurry to finish the work early, perhaps due to a long illness of the sovereign whose end was presumed imminent.


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