The prayer to the god Thoth for skill in writing, known as Papyrus Anastasi V, is inscribed in Hieratic on papyrus, dated to c. 1150, toward the end of the New Kingdom.
Uncovered at Thebes, before c. 1830 CE, it was purchased by the British Museum in 1839 from the collector Giovanni Anastasi.
The papyrus is authored by a young scribe as a petition to the god of writing. The scribe observes the god’s wisdom through the Council of Thirty, an important Judicial body that oversees regional issues. He longs for Hermopolis, his patron city, and it declares that he is the dispatch-writer of the Ennead, the great nine gods created by Ra-Atum – Shu, Tafanat, Nuit, Gab, Osiris, Horus, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. Two gods are evoked as companions of Thoth. Shay is the embodiment of Fate or Destiny, who determines the length of a person’s life and remains at their side until their final judgment by Osiris after death. His consort who also is with Thoth is Renenutet, a cobra goddess from Lower Egypt, is a goddess of good fortune who gives a person their secret name at birth. The prayer to Thoth is performed by melodic recitation to give power of words as utterance.
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