Coptic Egyptian Peace Poetry

Kimberly Burnham
3 min readNov 9, 2020


Coptic is late stage Egyptian. There are several terms for peace with overlapping meanings. Poetry found in the words of Korshi Dosoo, “The Coptic Terminology of Peace”, from Les mots pour dire la paix dans le Proche-Orient antique et médiéval. Analyses lexicales, from Les mots de la paix/Terminology of Peace.

Found Poetry, words of poetry found in the words on the page of a dictionary, dissertation, thesis, book, magazine, newspaper, advertisement, any written page. The poet selects the words for the poem from words already there on the page serving some other purpose.

Royal Coptic Peace

In royal Coptic texts “Hetep” (peace) / a state of submission / imposed upon foreign states and cities . by kings through battle / for an enemy ruler to ask for “Hetep” / he is submitting / surrendering according the terms of the Egyptian ruler / external submission and internal peace / both “Hetep” / two sides of the same coin / subduing hostile external forces / a precondition for internal flourishing

Peacefully Setting Sun

Imagine a peaceful sunset / the sky dripping reds and purples / a quiet breeze / white noise insects buzzing background

In Coptic “Hōtp” written ϩⲱⲧⲡ / means to reconcile / reconciliation, and to join / refers to the sun and other celestial bodies / to set /

Aa descendent of the older *Hetep / a sense of well-being, satisfaction, peacefulness / rest, a state of individual or communal positive peace / peaceful rest and the setting of the sun

Peaceful sunste in Coptic Egyptian language peace and sun set is Hōtp by Simon Berger on Unsplash

Translating Greek Peace

Where the Greek text uses “Eirēnē” (peace) / the parallel Egyptian translations use “Wedja” / whole, safe or healthy / rather than ḥetep / capturing the sense of positive peace inherent in Greek / without the negative sense of absence of war

“Eirēnē” in Greek usually translates / the Hebrew šalōm וםֹל ָש ׂ/ a sense broader than Greek / completeness, wholeness, wellness, welfare / as well as peace

Thundering Paradoxes

In the famous Thunder: Perfect Mind / from Nag Hammadi Codex VI (IV CE) / a female speaker describes herself / I am shameless / I am ashamed / I am strength / I am fear / I am war (polemos) and peace (eirēnē) / Give heed to me

Peace Times 6

English Peace be upon you

Hebrew “ךְ ָל לום ֹש” Šalōm-l’ka

Greek “εἰρήνη σοι” Eirēnē soi

Coptic “ϯⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲛⲁⲕ” T-eirēnē na-k

and the older Egyptian “iy⸗k m ḥtp”

May you come in peace

and the Arabic Upon you be peace

عليك السالم As-salāmu ‘alayk

Doing Peace and Calmness

We have to work for peace do peace

but what do we have to undo or stop doing

to create peace

In Coptic “Hēsukhia (ἡσυχία; ϩⲏⲥⲩⲭⲓⲁ)

means rest, quiet, stillness, solitude

as in the still and solitary life of monasticism

Hrok a cognate of skjraht

used as an alternative translation for “Hēsukhia”

a very similar range of meanings

calmness, stillness and to stop (doing something)

as passivity or inaction show up within peace

Coptic Egyptian Poetry by AussieActive on Unsplash



Kimberly Burnham

Writer, Poet, Ekphrastic Writer-in-Residence, Nerve Whisperer, Brain Health Coach, Author of The Traveling Brain: Illuminating Peace Poetry in 5000 Languages.