Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Wisdom Texts: Quotes from Ptahotep

Spirit of Sankofa writes........

The more I research the more I learn to honor and respect Egyptian (Kemetic) knowledge. Their unique thought process, their teaching and instruction of many situations concerning political and social matters. Engaging the development of the mind as well as social behavior.Their exquisite wisdom, knowledge as well as the study of the spiritual man.

Here are some words of wisdom (words to live by) , in my opinion even in this time. Wisdom from one of the Govenors and Vizer Ptahotep of ancient Egypt. Here he instructs his son on how to treat different situation of human behavior and good conduct. It is a look into the life and ways that were taught through the eyes of wisdom.

Know Thyself*

Per-Ankh -
House of Life
The Wisdom Texts:

Quotes from the Instructions of Ptahotep
Source: 'The Literature of Ancient Egypt' edited by William Kelly Simpson, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1973.

These quotes are used here to give the reader a taste of the popular 'instruction texts' from ancient Egypt, in which advises for good conduct and happy and prosperous living were taught. This is perhaps the most well-known of them but also one of the most difficult one to understand. It dates from the early Middle Kingdom and its earliest manuscript exists on the Prisse Papyrus in Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

In his old age the City Governor and Vizier Ptahotep instructs his son:

1. Do no be arrogant because of your knowledge, but confer with the ignorant man as with the learned, for the limit of skills has not been attained, and there is no craftsman who has (fully) acquired his mastery. /Good speech is more hidden than malachite, yet it is found in the possession of women slaves at the millstones.

2. If you find a disputant arguing, one having authority and superior to you, bend down your arms and bow your back; if you disagree with him, he will not side with you. You should make little of the evil speaking by not opposing him in his argument; it means that he will be dubbed an ignoramus when your self-control has matched his prolixity.

3. If you find a disputant arguing, your equal who is on your level, let your virtue be manifest against him in silence when he is speaking ill; great will be the talk on the part of the hearers, and your name will be fair in the opinion of the magistrates.

4./If you find a disputant arguing, a humble man who is not your equal, o not be aggressive against him in proportion as he is humble; let him alone, that he may confute himself. Do not question him in order to relieve your feelings, do not vent yourself against your opponent, for wretched is he who would destroy him who is poor of understanding; men will do what you whish, and you will defeat him by the disapproval of the magistrates.

5. If you are a leader, controlling the destiny of the masses, seek out every good thing, until there is no fault in your governance, /Truth is great, and (its) effectiveness endures; it has not been confounded since the time of Wesir....

6.Do not inspire terror in men, for God also is repelled....

11. Follow your desire as long as you live and do not perform more than is ordered; do not lessen the time of following desire, for the wasting of time is an abomination to the spirit; do not use up / the daytime more than is (neccessary) for the maintenance of your household. When riches are gained, follow desire, for riches will not profit if one is sluggish.

14....As for him whose heart obeys his belly, he puts dislike of himself / in the place of love; his heart is sad and his body unanointed. Joyous are the hearts of those whom God has given, but he who obeys his belly has an enemy.

23. / Do not repeat slander; you should not hear it, for it is the result of hot temper. Repeat (only) a matter seen, not what is heard.

25... One who is serious all day will never have a good time, while one who is frivolous all day will never establish a household.

Read also the words of Amenemope ,

and the words of Anksheshonq

This site is for educational purposes only.

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