This story, from Twitter, was recently shared in a forum I frequent:
It’s definitely relatable, and illustrates how, no matter the era, people are still people. I mean, you have a lover, the lover ghosts you, you pour out your heart in an email, and then you chicken out from clicking Send; who wouldn’t identify with that? If nothing else, it’s a good reminder not to be patronizing about the imagined inexperience and naivete of prior peoples on various human subjects, because it’s probably wrong. And that’s a worthy intention.
But my question is — how could we possibly know? Centuries and centuries later, we can’t possibly have parcel-specific records from the equivalent of DHL in ancient Cairo, such that we can confidently draw a connection between this surviving letter and the lack of any delivery order. Right? That seems absurd to me.
I tried searching for details of this specific letter, hoping for more information or some sort of context to make better sense of it. Maybe, for example, there is another letter from the same writer, in which the writing of the first letter is mentioned, along with the decision not to send it. This also seems unlikely, but is certainly more plausible than official postal records or anything similar. In any case, my search was unsuccessful.
Does anyone recognize this letter, and/or know anything about the context for this anecdote?
(Personally, my suspicion is that this is actually a mangled misrepresentation of a “letter to the dead.” This is an Egyptian practice for which we have some surviving evidence, where a living person writes an appeal to someone who has passed on, typically asking the departed for supernatural intercession in some earthly concern. I can see how creative translation and an omission of context would fit the quotation to that scenario, for the sake of a relatable and hopefully-viral tweet. But this is just my hypothesis.)