Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ancient Egyptian Proverbs for Young Children: Ptah-Hotup

Ptah-Hotup of Memphis lived around 4,000 BC. He seems to have been a Governer or Vizier of the Pharoah, and he wrote a book of proverbs for his son. Their wording has been edited slightly for young children.

Do not be proud because you are educated; but talk with the ignorant man as with the sage. Wisdom can be found anywhere.

There is no expert that knows everything.

Fair speech is more rare than an emerald found by slave-girls among the pebbles.

Do not speak evil of anyone.

Listen respectfully when wise people talk, even if you don't agree with them.

If you hear someone tell a lie, speak up and tell the truth.

Do not scorn a poor man simply because he is poor.

Leave a fool alone, he will only confuse himself.

Do not distract the attention of someone who is working.

When you speak, know that what you say can be used against you.

A leader should always be gracious, so that no one can easily find fault with him.

Always find out what conduct is expected.

Never forget those who helped you when you were poor.

Those who have bread need to share it with the hungry.

Rulers should aim to make their people prosperous.

The wise man is great through his own merits.

If you are a guest, accept what your host gives you, putting it to your lips. Don't stare at your host. Such stares trouble the soul. Do not speak till your host addresses you; you do not know what may be evil in his opinion.

If you are an sent as a messenger, give the message exactly as it was sent. Beware of causing anger by perverting the truth.

Do not repeat that which any man says in opening the heart; it will cost you everyone's trust.

If you have ploughed, gather your harvest in the field.

The woman who is a mother of children has less peace than another.

If you are poor, serve a wise man, that all your actions may be good.

If you know a man who was born poor but who has come up in the world, do not be rude to him on account of his humble birth; but honor him for what he has become.

Riches do not come by themselves. If someone bestir himself and collects them himself, the Gods shall make him prosperous.

If you are a leader, listen politely to the petitioner. Be not abrupt with him; that would trouble him.

If you are wise, look after your house; love your wife faithfully.

It is a wretched thing to injure a poor man.

Humble and lowly people must be treated with kindness. That is how people know you will act justly to everyone.

Listen with kindness for a clear explanation.

Keep your son from those that don't do what they are told, for it is they that make him rebellious.

A well taught heart listens readily.

If you want your actions to be good, save yourself from all malice.

If you want that your actions to be good, do not covet what belongs to another.

Covetousness causes fights among family members; it tears apart the wife and the husband. It gathers to itself all evils; it is the beginning of all wickedness.

The just man flourishes; he makes a habit of truthfulness, not of covetousness.

Do not be covet what belongs to your neighbor.

Do not repeat angry speech, nor listen to it; for it is the utterance of a body heated by wrath. When angry speech is repeated to you, do not listen well to it, and look to the ground.

If you are commanded to do a theft, arrange for the command to be taken off you.

If you would be a wise man, and one respected by his superior, apply your heart to perfection.

Silence can be more profitable to you than abundant speech.

Consider how you may be opposed by an expert.

If you are powerful, make yourself honored for knowledge and for gentleness. Speak with authority, but humbly.

Do not be silent, but beware of interruption and of answering words with heat. Put it far from you; control yourself. The angry heart speaks fiery words; it darts out at the man of peace that approaches, stopping his path.

One that reckons accounts all the day does not pass a happy moment. One that gladdens his heart all the day does not provide for his house.

Do not oppress the heart of him that is already sad.

Fairness is your goal. Speak without favoring one side. Turn your aim toward exact judgments.

Do not plunder the houses of tenants; nor steal the things of a friend.

Quarrelling in place of friendship is a foolish thing.

If you would seek out the nature of a friend, do not ask it of any companion of his; but pass a time with him alone.

Let your face be bright the time you live.

That which goes into the storehouse must come out from there; and bread is to be shared.

He that causes strife comes himself to sorrow. Do not take such a one for your companion.

It is a man's kindly acts that are remembered of him in the years after his life.

Know well your merchants, for the sake of your good reputation.

Set good proverbs in the mouths of the people. They make the pattern whereby folks speak well. Good proverbs instruct a man how he shall speak and excel in speaking. Thus, good fortune may befall him, he shall be gracious and contented. His knowledge shall be his guide into a place of security, wherein he shall prosper while on earth. The scholar who knows them shall be content in his knowledge.

A splendid thing is the obedience of an obedient son.

Obedience demands good-will.

Understanding is the basis of wisdom.

The fool regards good knowledge as ignorance and profitable things are hurtful things.

A fool does all kinds of errors; at chattering speech he marvels.

Let that which you speaks implant true and just things in the life of your children. Then sins shall depart.

Be wary of speech when a learned man listens carefully to you; desire to be established for good in the mouth of those that hear you speaking.

If you have entered as an expert, speak with precision.

Let your heart overflow; but restrain your mouth a bit.

Apply your heart, whatever time you speak, to saying things that are really noble and excellent for you or your reputation.

A good son is of the gift of the Gods; and he does more than is enjoined on him, he does right, and puts his heart into all his goings.

1 comment:

shannon said...

do you know how to speak ancient egyptian?