Egypt Wisdom Literature

A very important part in Egyptian education was the wisdom literature, which contained the teachings (ś b q̂ ‘je) that a person of grave authority imparted to a pupil. The oldest should be the “teachings of Ptahḥq̂tpe”, found in Thebes and come to the National Library of Paris through the Prisse d’Avennes. The manuscript, in hieratic characters, is from the beginning of the XII dynasty; other examples render the text with strong variations. The person to whom the work is attributed, the prince and vizier Ptahḥq̂tpe, lived in the time of Pharaoh Azôze of the 5th dynasty (about 2479-2451 BC) and his tomb exists in Saqqārah. However, the language proves to be the literary one of the Middle Kingdom, although much choice, as the theme requires. The maxims are certainly in verse. According to Egyptian custom, the operetta has a prologue. The minister, bruised by the years, he presents himself to the pharaoh to have the faculty to take help and obtains to educate him, so that he becomes the model of the sons of dignitaries; since no one is born wise. The first maxim concerns wisdom itself: “do not pride yourself on your knowledge – [but] inform yourself with the induced as with the learned; – [since] the end of an art is not touched, – [and] there is no artist whose profit is exuberant. – Rare is the wisdom more than the emerald, – however it is found [perhaps] among the slaves at the mill “. The advice continues around many points of morality and conduct: how to contain oneself towards the family, superiors, inferiors, or in various tasks. Too bad that the conciseness of the form makes it difficult for us, as it was for the ancients, to penetrate this text. K ‘ – j gmjw – n – j “my ko is that I have found”, means in the newborn), minister also under the pharaoh Śenfôre (around 2644), but who would have written under the previous pharaoh. Part of the remaining page could agree with our saying: “in church with saints and in tavern with gluttons”. Widespread in the schools of the Empire was the training of the so-called Duauf (Ṭ ew’ejwef “[he will be] his worshiper”), whose father was a certain Aġtq̂j, addressed to his son Pjôpe. As also appears from the personal names, the work is from the Middle Kingdom. Pjôpe had been admitted to court school among the children of adults and this opportunity is taken to praise the condition of the man of letters, the scribe, the superiority of this man is highlighted over any other worker and a satirical painting of the inconveniences that occur in the various trades. Next to the father who admonishes his son, we can place the king who passes on his experience to his successor. In the twentieth year of his reign, Amenemḥê’e I stood alongside his son, Zenwq̂śre I, as regent. For Egypt 2003, please check computerannals.com.

The provision seems to have been advised, above all, by a serious attack to which the old king had been exposed at court. In this circumstance his saying could not fail to be heartfelt, and he loudly complains of human ingratitude: “Do not love any brother – do not recognize a friend. – Do not be confidants”. Whether these sentences are authentic or not, maxims of good governance have also been reported to other kings. We find mentioned some of the Heracleopolitan king Aġtq̂i; and an eighteenth dynasty papyrus preserves lofty words written for King Merekarîe, one of his successors. Enej’s teachings to his son Henzḥq̂tpe belong to the empire. The manuscript in his possession dates back to the XXI-XXII dynasty and is by an unintelligent scribe. The language is blunt Neo-Egyptian. It always concerns the same issues of practical morality and is not lacking in very profound reflections. At the end the pupil is assimilated to a child who is in the arms of the mother; while he is small, he loves to suck milk, but as he feels grown up, he no longer wants to and opens his mouth to say: “give me the bread”. Recently, the publication of another wisdom book (Br. Museum, n. 10474), that of Amenemq̂p and his son Haremmaḥrq̂w, which seems to be later than the XXI dynasty, has aroused great interest. The operetta is divided into thirty chapters and has been partly incorporated into the Proverbs of Solomon. The lamentations raised by an resident of Wādī en-Naṭrūn, at the time of the Heracleopolitans, are also of philosophical content.

This farmer had come to Egypt with donkeys laden with merchandise and had been stripped by an employee of the butler of the royal house. The latter, having become aware of the peasant’s acumen, even on the advice of the pharaoh, pretends not to listen to the supplicant, so that nine times the peasant, unaware of the game, complains about the partiality of those in charge of imparting justice. In the same Heracleopolitan period we place a group of operettas notable for their pessimistic and skeptical color, a character that reflects the turbulent conditions of the time. The most interesting, very obscure, received mutilated, is the dialogue between someone who is tired of living and his soul. He, embittered by existence, he would like to kill himself and describes the tomb as a resting place; but the soul replies that death is annihilation and burial is useless, since even those who build pyramids, like the pharaohs, have become equal to the dead abandoned on the bank of the river, which partly carried away the sea, partly vanished the Sun. So it is better to enjoy and forget the worry. The tired πεισιϑάνατος goes on to describe the ugliness of the world and how sweet the passing appears. It seems that the soul convinces him to put aside the lament and to calmly await the natural end. The so-called “prophecies of Jepwêr” describe in all the details the events that occurred at the end of the reign of Pjôpe II; Egyptian society was upset and those who were below went up, those who were above went down. It is impossible for all of this to be invented. There is no beginning and end; but it is suggested that better days are promised when religion is restored. A conversation with the heart, perhaps in the same tone, engages the Heliopolitan priest Ḫa‛ḫperrîeśq̂nbe, of the beginning of the XII dynasty, about the iniquity of the times; but even it remains truncated to us. Other prophecies are attributed to an alleged priest of the goddess Baste, named Nefrréhwew, not less under Śenfôre, to praise the founder of the XII dynasty, Amenemḥê’e I; but, needless to say, they belong to that period.

Egypt Wisdom Literature

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