THE PTAH-HOTEP AND THE KE'GEMNI: THE OLDEST BOOKS IN THE WORLD
THE Instructions of Ptah-hotep and of Ke'gemni possess, apart from the curious nature of their contents, a feature of the greatest interest, and an adequate claim on the notice of all persons interested in literature and its history. For if the datings and ascriptions in them be accepted as trustworthy--there is no reason why they should not be accepted--they were composed about four thousand years before Christ, and three thousand five hundred and fifty years before Christ, respectively. And the significance of those remote dates is, that they are the oldest books in the world, the earliest extant specimens of the literary art. They stand on the extreme horizon of all that ocean of paper and ink that has become to us as an atmosphere, a fifth element, an essential of life.
Books of many kinds had of course been written for centuries before Ptah-hotep of Memphis summarised, for the benefit of future generations, the
leading principles of morality current in his day; even before the Vizier, five hundred years earlier, gave to his children the scroll which they prized above all things on earth; 1 but those have perished and these remain. There are lists of titles which have a large sound, and prayers to the gods for all good things, on the tombs and monuments of kings and magnates long before the time Ke'gemni; but those are not books in any sense of that word. Even the long, strange chants and spells engraven in the royal pyramids over against Memphis are later than the time of Ptah-hotep, and cannot be called books in their present form, although some of them apparently originated before the First Dynasty. 2
Nor do the oldest books of any other country approach these two in antiquity. To draw comparisons between them let us, in imagination, place ourselves at the period at which Ptah-hotep lived, that is about B.C. 3550, "under King Isosi, living forever," and take a glance at futurity.
The Babylonians are doubtless exercising their
literary talents; but they will leave nothing worthy the name of book to the far posterity of fifty-four centuries hence. Thirteen centuries shall pass before Hammurabi, King of Babylon, drafts the code of laws that will be found at that time. Only after two thousand years shall Moses write on the origin of things, and the Vedas be arranged in their present form. It will be two-and-a-half thousand years before the Great King of Jerusalem will set in order many proverbs and write books so much resembling, in form and style, that of Ptah-hotep; before the source and summit of European literature will write his world epics. For the space of years between Solomon and ourselves, great though it seem, is not so great as that between Solomon and Ptah-hotep.
Nothing definite is known concerning these two nobles beyond what is said of them in their works. A fine tomb of a certain Ke'gemni exists at Memphis; his titles, so far as can be ascertained, are: Judge of the High Court; Governor of the Land unto its Limit, South and North; Director of every Command. He has sometimes been supposed to be identical with our Ke'gemni; but I am assured by those most competent to judge that this tomb cannot be earlier than the fifth dynasty,--a good three
hundred years from the date assigned to the moralist,--so that the theory that they are one person may be dismissed as highly improbable. No other person of the name is known.
The position is much the same with Ptah-hotep. There are near Memphis the tombs of several nobles of this name, of whom two lived in the reign of Isosi; and in this case, again, it has been assumed that one of these two must be the writer of the Instruction. But in neither instance do the titles coincide with or include those assigned to him. The highest title which he bears, Eldest Son of the King, does not anywhere appear in these tombs. It is true that one of these contemporaries was hereditary chief; but we know that Ptah-hotep was a common name at this time, and in the absence of more certain proof it will be well to abstain from the identification of like names upon insufficient grounds.
THE INSTRUCTION OF PTAH-HOTEP (THE GOD PTAH IS SATISFIED)
The Instruction of the Governor of his City, the Vizier, Ptah-hotep, in the Reign of King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Isosi, living forever, to the end of Time.
A. The Governor of his City, the Vizier, Ptah-hotep,
he said: "O Prince my Lord, the end of life is at hand; old age descendeth--upon me--; feebleness cometh, and childishness is renewed. He--that is old--lieth down in misery every day. The eyes are small; the ears are deaf. Energy is diminished, the heart hath no rest. The mouth is silent, and he speaketh no word; the heart stoppeth, and he remembereth not yesterday. The bones are painful throughout the body; good turneth into evil. All taste departeth. These things doeth old age for mankind, being evil in all things. The nose is stopped, and he breatheth not for weakness (?), whether standing or sitting.
"Command thy servant, therefore, to make over my, princely authority--to my son--. Let me speak unto him the words of them that hearken to the counsel of the men of old time; those that once hearkened unto the gods. I pray thee, let this thing be done, that sin may be banished from among persons of understanding, that thou may enlighten the lands."
Said the Majesty of this God: 1 "Instruct him, then, in the words of old time; may he be a wonder unto the children of princes, that they may enter and hearken with him. Make straight all their
hearts; and discourse with him, without causing weariness."
B. Here begin the proverbs of fair speech, spoken by the Hereditary Chief, the Holy Father, Beloved of the God, the Eldest Son of the King, of his body, the Governor of his City, the Vizier, Ptah-hotep, when instructing the ignorant in the knowledge of exactness in fair speaking; the glory of him that obeyeth, the shame of him that transgresseth them. He said unto his son:
1. Be not proud because thou art learned; but discourse with the ignorant man, as with the sage. For no limit can be set to skill, neither is there any craftsman that possesseth full advantages. Fair speech is more rare than the emerald that is found by slave-maidens on the pebbles.
2. If thou find an arguer talking, one that is well disposed and wiser than thou, let thine arms fall, bend thy back, 1 be not angry with him if he agree (?) not with thee. Refrain from speaking evilly; oppose him not at any time when he speaketh. If he address thee as one ignorant of the matter, thine humbleness shall bear away his contentions.
3. If thou find an arguer talking, thy fellow,
one that is within thy reach, keep not silence when he saith aught that is evil; so shalt thou be wiser than he. Great will be the applause on the part of the listeners, and thy name shall be good in the knowledge of princes.
4. If thou find an arguer talking, a poor man, that is to say not thine equal, be not scornful toward him because he is lowly. Let him alone; then shall he confound himself. Question him not to please thine heart, neither pour out thy wrath upon him that is before thee; it is shameful to confuse a mean mind. If thou be about to do that which is in thine heart, overcome it as a thing rejected of princes.
5. If thou be a leader, as one directing the conduct of the multitude, endeavor always to be gracious, that thine own conduct be without defect. Great is Truth, appointing a straight path; never hath it been overthrown since the reign of Osiris. 1 One that oversteppeth the laws shall be punished. Overstepping is by the covetous man; but degradations (?) bear off his riches. Never hath evil-doing, brought its venture safe to port. For he saith, "I will obtain by myself for myself," and saith not, "I will obtain because I am allowed." But the
limits of justice are steadfast; it is that which a man repeateth from his father.
6. Cause not fear among men; for--this--the God punisheth likewise. For there is a man that saith, "Therein is life"; and he is bereft of the bread of his mouth. There is a man that saith, "Power--is therein"; and he saith, "I seize for myself that which I perceive." Thus a man speaketh, and he is smitten down. It is another that attaineth by giving unto him that hath not. Never hath that which men have prepared for come to pass; for what the God hath commanded, even that thing cometh to pass. Live, therefore, in the house of kindliness, and men shall come and give gifts of themselves.
7. If thou be among the guests of a man that is greater than thou, accept that which he giveth thee, putting it to thy lips. If thou look at him that is before thee--thine host--pierce him not with many glances. It is abhorred of the soul 1 to stare at him. Speak not until he address thee; one knoweth not what may be evil in his opinion. Speak when he questioneth thee; so shall thy speech be good in his opinion. The noble who sitteth before food divideth it as his soul moveth him; he giveth unto
him that he would favour--it is the custom of the evening meal. It is his soul that guideth his hand. It is the noble that bestoweth, not the underling that attaineth. Thus the eating of bread is under the providence of the God; he is an ignorant man that disputeth it.
8. If thou be an emissary sent from one noble to another, be exact after the manner of him that sent thee, give his message even as he hath said it. Beware of making enmity by thy words, setting one noble against the other by perverting truth. Overstep it not, neither repeat that which any man, be he prince or peasant, saith in opening the heart; it is abhorrent to the soul.
9. If thou have ploughed, gather thine harvest in the field, and the God shall make it great under thine hand. Fill not thy mouth at any neighbor's table . . . 1 If a crafty man be the possessor of wealth, he stealeth like a crocodile from the priests.
Let not a man be envious that hath no children; let him be neither downcast nor quarrelsome on account of it. For a father, though great, may be grieved; as to the mother of children, she hath less peace than another. Verily, each man is created--
to his destiny--by the God, who is the chief of a tribe, trustful in following him.
10. If thou be lowly, serve a wise man, that all thine actions may be good before the God. If thou have known a man of none account that hath been advanced in rank, be not haughty toward him on account of that which thou knowest concerning him; but honour him that hath been advanced, according to that which he hath become.
Behold, riches come not of themselves; it is their rule for him that desireth them. If he bestir him and collect them himself, the God shall make him prosperous; but He shall punish him, if he be slothful.
11. Follow thine heart during thy lifetime; do not more than is commanded thee. Diminish not the time of following the heart; it is abhorred of the soul, that its time--of ease--be taken away. Shorten not the daytime more than is needful to maintain thy house. When riches are gained, follow the heart; for riches are of no avail if one be weary.
12. If thou wouldest be a wise man, beget a son for the pleasing of the God. If he make straight his course after thine example, if he arrange thine affairs in due order, do unto him all that is good,
for thy son is he, begotten of thine own soul. Sunder not thine heart from him, or thine own begotten shall curse--thee--. If he be heedless and trespass thy rules of conduct, and is violent; if every speech that cometh from his mouth be a vile word; then beat thou him, that his talk may be fitting. Keep him from those that make light of that which is commanded, for it is they that make him rebellious. And they that are guided go not astray, but they that lose their bearings cannot find a straight course.
13. If thou be in the chamber of council, act always according to the steps enjoined on thee at the beginning of the day. Be not absent, or thou shalt be expelled; but be ready in entering and making report. Wide 1 is the seat of one that hath made address. The council chamber acteth by strict rule; and all its plans are in accordance with method. It is the God that advanceth one to a seat therein; the like is not done for elbowers.
14. If thou be among people, make for thyself love, the beginning and end of the heart. One that knoweth not his course shall say in himself--seeing thee--, "He that ordereth himself duly becometh the owner of wealth; I shall copy his conduct."
[paragraph continues] Thy name shall be good, though thou speak not; thy body shall be fed; thy face shall be--seen--among thy neighbors; thou shalt be provided with what thou lackest. As to the man whose heart obeyeth his belly, he causeth disgust in place of love. His heart is wretched (?), his body is gross (?), he is insolent toward those endowed of the God. He that obeyeth his belly hath an enemy. 1
15. Report thine actions without concealment; discover thy conduct when in council with thine overlord. It is not evil for the envoy that his report be not answered. "Yea, I know it," by the prince; for that which he knoweth includeth not--this. If he--the prince--think that he will oppose him on account of it,--he thinketh--"He will be silent because I have spoken." 2
16. If thou be a leader, cause that the rules that thou hast enjoined be carried out; and do all things as one that remembereth the days coming after, when speech availeth not. Be not lavish of favours; it leadeth to servility (?), producing slackness.
17. If thou be a leader, be gracious when thou hearkenest unto the speech of a suppliant. Let
him not hesitate to deliver himself of that which he hath thought to tell thee; but be desirous of removing his injury. Let him speak freely, that the thing for which he hath come to thee may be done. If he hesitate to open his heart, it is said, "Is it because he--the judge--doeth the wrong that no entreaties are made to him concerning it by those to whom it happeneth?" But a well taught heart hearkeneth readily.
18. If thou desire to continue friendship in any abode wherein thou interest, be it as master, as brother, or as friend; wheresoever thou goest, beware of consorting with women. No place prospereth wherein that is done. Nor is it prudent to take part in it; a thousand men have been ruined for the pleasure of a little time short as a dream. Even death is reached thereby; it is a wretched thing. As for the evil liver, one leaveth him for what he doeth, he is avoided. If his desires be not gratified, he regardeth (?) no laws.
19. If thou desire that thine actions may be good, save thyself from all malice, and beware of the quality of covetousness, which is a grievous inner (?) Malady. Let it not chance that thou fall thereinto. It setteth at variance fathers-in-law and the kinsmen of the daughter-in-law; it sundereth
the wife and the husband. It gathereth unto itself all evils; it is the girdle of all wickedness. 1 But the man that is just flourisheth; truth goes in his footsteps, and he maketh habitations therein, not in the dwelling of covetousness.
20. Be not covetous as touching shares, in seizing that which is not thine own property. Be not covetous toward thy neighbors; for with a gentleman praise availeth more than might. He--that is covetous--cometh empty from among his neighbours, being void of the persuasion of speech. One hath remorse for even a little covetousness when his belly cooleth.
21. If thou wouldest be wise, provide for thine house, and love thy wife that is in thine arms. Fill her stomach, clothe her back; oil is the remedy of her limbs. Gladden her heart during thy lifetime, for she is an estate profitable unto its lord. Be not harsh, for gentleness mastereth her more than strength. Give (?) to her that for which she sigheth and that toward which her eye looketh; so shall thou keep her in thy house. . . .
22. Satisfy thine hired servants out of such things as thou hast; it is the duty of one that hath been favoured of the God. In sooth, it is hard to
satisfy hired servants. For one 1 saith, 'He is a lavish person; one knoweth not that which may come--from him." But on the morrow he thinketh, 'We is a person of exactitude--parsimony--content therein." And when favours have been shown unto servants, they say, "We go." Peace dwelleth not in that town wherein dwell servants that are wretched.
23. Repeat not extravagant speech, neither listen thereto; for it is the utterance of a body heated by wrath. When such speech is repeated to thee, hearken not thereto, look to the ground. Speak not regarding it, that he that is before thee may know wisdom. If thou be commanded to do a theft, bring it to pass that the command be taken off thee, for it is a thing hateful according to law. That which destroyeth a vision is the veil over it.
24. If thou wouldest be a wise man, and one sitting in council with his overlord, apply thine heart unto perfection. Silence is more profitable unto thee than abundance of speech. Consider how thou may be opposed by an expert that speaketh in council. It is a foolish thing to speak on every kind of work, for he that disputeth thy words shall put them unto proof.
25. If thou be powerful, make thyself to be honoured for knowledge and for gentleness. Speak with authority, that is, not as if following injunctions, for he that is humble--when highly placed--falleth into errors. Exalt not thine heart, that it be not brought low. Be not silent, but beware of interruption and of answering words with heat. Put it far from thee; control thyself. The wrathful heart speaketh fiery words; it darteth out at the man of peace that approacheth, stopping his path.
One that reckoneth accounts all the day passeth not an happy moment. One that gladdeneth his heart all the day provideth not for his house. The bowman hitteth the mark, as the steersman reacheth land, by diversity of aim. He that obeyeth his heart shall command. 1
26. Let not a prince be hindered when he is occupied; neither oppress the heart of him that is already laden. For he shall be hostile toward one that delayeth him, but shall bare his soul unto one that loveth him. The disposal of souls is with the God, and that which He loveth is His creation. Set out, therefore, after a violent quarrel; be at
peace with him that is hostile unto--thee--his opponent. It is such souls that make love to grow.
27. Instruct a noble in such things as be profitable unto him; cause that he be received among men. Let his satisfaction fall on his master, for thy provision dependeth upon his will. By reason of it thy belly shall be satisfied; thy back will be clothed thereby. Let him receive thine heart, that thine house may flourish and thine honour--if thou wish it to flourish--thereby. He shall extend thee a kindly hand. Further, he shall implant the love of thee in the bodies of thy friends. Forsooth, it is a soul loving to hearken. 1
28. If thou be the son of a man of the priesthood, and an envoy to conciliate the multitude. . . . 2 speak thou without favouring one side. Let it not be said: "His conduct is that of the nobles, favouring one side in his speech." Turn thine aim toward exact judgments.
29. If thou have been gracious at a former time, having forgiven a man to guide him aright, shun him, remind him not after the first day that he hath been silent to thee---concerning it.
30. If thou be great, after being of none account, and hast gotten riches after squalour, being foremost in these in the city, and hast knowledge concerning useful matters, so that promotion is come unto thee; then swathe not thine heart in thine hoard, for thou art become the steward of the endowments of the God. Thou art not the last; another shall be thine equal, and to him shall come the like-fortune and station.
31. Bend thy back unto thy chief, thine overseer in the King's palace, for thine house dependeth upon his wealth, and thy wages in their season. How foolish is one that quarrelleth with his chief, for one liveth only while he is gracious. . . .
Plunder not the houses of tenants; neither steal the things of a friend, lest he accuse thee in thine bearing, which thrusteth back the heart. 1 If he know of it, he will do thee an injury. Quarrelling in place of friendship is a foolish thing.
32. --Concerning unnatural sin.
33. If thou wouldest seek out the nature of a friend, ask it not of any companion of his; but pass a time with him alone, that thou injure not his affairs. Debate with him after a season; test his
heart in an occasion of speech. When he hath told thee his past life, he hath made an opportunity that thou may either be ashamed for him or be familiar with him. Be not reserved with him when he openeth speech, neither answer him after a scornful manner. Withdraw not thyself from him, neither interrupt (?) him whose matter is not yet ended, whom it is possible to benefit.
34. Let thy face be bright what time thou livest. That which goeth into the storehouse must come out therefrom; and bread is to be shared. He that is grasping in entertainment shall himself have an empty belly; he that causeth strife cometh himself to sorrow. Take not such an one for thy companion. It is a man's kindly acts that are remembered of him in the years after his life. 1
35. Know well thy merchants; for when thine affairs are in evil case, thy good repute among thy friends is a channel (?) which is filled. It is more important than the dignities of a man; and the wealth of one passeth to another. The good repute of a man's son is a glory unto him; and a good character is for remembrance.
36. Correct chiefly; instruct conformably--therewith. Vice must be drawn out that virtue
may remain. Nor is this a matter of misfortune, for one that is a gainsayer becometh a strifemaker.
37. If thou make a woman to be ashamed, wanton of heart, not known by her townfolk, to be falsely placed, be kind unto her for a space, send her not away, give her to eat. The wantonness of her heart shall esteem thy guidance.
C. If thou obey these things that I have said unto thee, all thy demeanour shall be of the best; for verily, the quality of truth is among their excellences. Set the memory of them in the mouths of the people; for their proverbs are good. Nor shall any word that hath here been set down cease out of this land for ever, but shall be made a pattern whereby princes shall speak well. They--my words--shall instruct a man how he shall speak, after he hath heard them; yea, he shall become as one skillful in obeying, excellent in speaking, after he hath heard them. Good fortune shall befall him, for he shall be of the highest rank. He shall be gracious to the end of his life; he shall be contented always. His knowledge shall be his guide (?) into a place of security, wherein he shall prosper while on earth. The scholar 1 shall be content in his knowledge. As to the prince, in his turn,
forsooth, his heart shall be happy, his tongue made straight. And--in these proverbs--his lips shall speak, his eyes shall see, and his ears shall hear, that which is profitable for his son, so that he deal justly, void of deceit.
38. A splendid thing is the obedience of an obedient son; he cometh in and listeneth obediently.
Excellent in hearing, excellent in speaking, is every man that obeyeth what is noble, and the obedience of an obeyer is a noble thing.
Obedience is better than all things that are; it maketh good-will.
How good it is that a son should take that from his father by which he hath reached old age--obedience.
That which is desired by the God is obedience; disobedience is abhorred of the God.
Verily, it is the heart that maketh its master to obey or to disobey; for the safe and sound life of a man are his heart.
It is the obedient man that obeyeth what is said; he that loveth to obey, the same shall carry out commands.
He that obeyeth becometh one obeyed.
It is good indeed when a son obeyeth his father; and he-his father-that hath spoken hath great
joy of it. Such a son shall be mild as a master, and he that heareth him shall obey him that hath spoken. He shall be comely in body and honoured by his father. His memory shall be in the mouths of the living, those upon earth, as long as they exist. 1
39. Let a son receive the word of his father, not being heedless of any rule of his. Instruct thy son--thus;--for the obedient man is one that is perfect in the opinion of princes. If he direct his mouth by what hath been enjoined him. watchful and obedient, thy son shall be wise, and his going seemly. Heedlessness leadeth into disobedience on the morrow; but understanding shall establish him. As for the fool, he shall be crushed.
40. As for the fool, devoid of obedience, he doeth nothing. Knowledge he regardeth as ignorance. profitable things are hurtful things. He doeth all kinds of errors, so that he is rebuked therefor every day. He liveth in death therewith; it is his food. At chattering speech he marvelleth, as at the wisdom of princes, living in death every
day. He is shunned because of his misfortunes, by reason of the multitude of afflictions that cometh upon ]him every day.
41. A son that hearkeneth is as a Follower of Horus. 1 He is good after he hearkeneth; he groweth old, he reacheth honour and reverence. He repeated in like manner to his sons and daughters, so renewing the instruction of his father. Each man instructeth as did his begetter, repeating it unto his children. Let them--in turn--speak with their sons and daughters, that they may be famous in their deeds. Let that which thou speaketh implant true things and just in the life of thy children. Then the highest authority shall arrive, and sins depart--from them. And such men as see these things shall say, "Surely that man hath spoken to good purpose," and they shall do likewise; or, "But surely that man was experienced." And all people shall declare, "It is they that shall direct the multitude; dignities are not complete without them."
Take not my word away, neither add one; set
not one in the place of another. Beware of opening . . . 1 in thyself.
Be wary of speech when a learned man hearkeneth unto thee; desire to be established for good in the mouth of those that hear thee speaking. If thou have entered as an expert, speak with exact (?) lips, that thy conduct may be seemly.
42. Be thine heart overflowing; but refrain thy mouth. Let thy conduct be exact while amongst nobles, and seemly before thy lord, doing that which he hath commanded. Such a son shall speak unto them that hearken to him; moreover, his begetter shall be favoured. Apply thine heart, what time thou speakest, to saying things such that the nobles who listen declare, "How excellent is that which cometh out of his mouth!"
43. Carry out the behest of thy lord to thee. How good is the teaching of a man's father, for he hath come from him, who hath spoken of his son while he was yet unborn; and that which is done for him--the son--is more than that which is commanded him. Forsooth, a good son is of the gift of the God; he doeth more than is enjoined on
him, he doeth right, and putteth his heart into all his goings.
D. If now thou attain thy position, the body shall flourish, the King shall be content in all that thou doest, and thou shalt gather years of life not fewer than I have passed upon earth. I have gathered even fivescore and ten years of life, for the King hath bestowed upon me favours more than upon my forefathers; this because I wrought truth and justice for the King unto mine old age.
It Is Finished
From Its Beginning To Its End
Even As Found In Writing.
THE INSTRUCTION OF KE'GEMNI (KE'GEMNI--I HAVE FOUND A SOUL)
1. The cautious man flourisheth, the exact one is praised; the innermost chamber openeth unto the man of silence. Wide 1 is the seat of the man gentle of speech; but knives are prepared against one that forceth a path, that he advance not, save in due season.
2. If thou sit with a company of people, desire not the bread that thou likest; short is the time of restraining the heart, and gluttony is an abomination;
therein is the quality of a beast. A handful of water quencheth the thirst, and a mouthful of melon supporteth the heart. A good thing standeth for goodness, but some small thing standeth for plenty. 1 A base man is he that is governed by his belly; he departeth only when he is no longer able to fill full his belly in men's houses.
3. If thou sit with a glutton, eat with him, then depart (?).
If thou drink with a drunkard, accept--drink--and his heart shall be satisfied.
Refuse not meat when with a greedy man. Take that which he giveth thee; set it not on one side, thinking that it will be a courteous thing.
4. If a man be lacking in good fellowship, no speech hath any influence over him. He is sour of face toward the glad-hearted that are kindly to him; he is a grief unto his mother and his friends; and all men--cry--, "Let thy name be known; thou art silent in thy mouth when thou art addressed!"
5. Be not haughty because of thy might in the
midst of thy young soldiers. Beware of making strife, for one knoweth not the things that the God will do when He punisheth.
The Vizier caused his sons and daughters to be summoned, when he had finished the rules of the conduct of men. And they marvelled when they came to him. Then he said unto them, "Hearken unto everything that is in writing in this book, even as I have said it in adding unto profitable sayings." And they cast themselves on their bellies, and they read it, even as it was in writing. And it was better in their opinion than anything in this land unto its limits.
Now they were living when His Majesty, the King of upper and lower Egypt, Heuni, departed, and His Majesty, the King of upper and lower Egypt, Senforu, was enthroned as a gracious king over the whole of this land.
Then was Ke'gemni made Governor of his city and Vizier.
THE INSTRUCTIONS OF AMENEMHE'ET (THE GOD AMON IS FIRST)
Beginneth here the Instruction made by the majesty of the King of upper and lower Egypt, Sehotep'eb-Re, son of the Sun, Amenemhe'et, the
Justified. 1 He speaketh thus in discovering words of truth unto his son, the Lord of the World:
1. Shine forth, he saith, even as the God. Hearken to that which I say unto thee; that thou may reign over the land, that thou may govern the world, that thou may excel in goodness.
2. Let one withdraw himself from his subordinates entirely. It befalleth that mankind give their hearts unto one that causeth them fear. Mix not among them alone; fill not thine heart with a brother; know not a trusted friend; make for thyself no familiar dependents; in these things is no satisfaction.
3. When thou liest down have a care for thy 2 very life, since friends exist not for a man in the day of misfortunes. I gave to the beggar, and caused the orphan to live; I made him that had not to attain, even as he that had.
4. But it was the eater of my food that made insurrection against me; to whom I gave mine hands, he created disturbance thereby; they that arrayed them in my fine linen regarded me as a
shadow; and it was they that anointed themselves with my spices that entered my harem.
5. My images are among the living; and my achievements are among men. But I have made an heroic story that hath not been heard; a great feat of arms that hath not been seen. Surely one fighteth for a lassoed ox that forgetteth yesterday; 1 and good fortune is of no avail unto one that cannot perceive it.
6. It was after the evening meal, and night was come. I took for myself an hour of ease. I lay down upon my bed, for I was weary. My heart began to wander (?). I slept. And lo! weapons were brandished, and there was conference concerning me. I acted as the serpent of the desert. 2
7. I awoke to fight; I was alone. I found one struck down, it was the captain of the guard. Had I received quickly the arms from his hand, I had driven back the dastards by smiting around. But he was not a brave man on that night, nor could I fight alone; an occasion of prowess cometh not to one surprised. Thus was I.
8. Behold, then, vile things came to pass, for
[paragraph continues] I was without thee; the courtiers knew not that I had passed on to thee--my power. I sat not with thee on the throne. 1 Let me then, make my plans. Because I awed them not I was not unmindful of them; but mine heart bringeth not to remembrance the slackness of servants.
9. Have ever women gathered together assailants? Are assassins reared within my palace? Was the opening done by cutting through the ground? The underlings were deceived as to what they did. 2 But misfortunes have not come in my train since my birth; nor hath there existed the equal of me as a doer of valiance.
10. I forced my way up to Elephantine, I went down unto the coast-lakes; 3 I have stood upon the boundaries of the land, and I have seen its centre. I have set the limits of might by my might in my deeds.
11. I raised corn, I loved Nopi; 4 the Nile begged of me every valley. In my reign none hungered; none thirsted therein. They were contented in that which I did, saying concerning me, "Every commandment is meet."
12. I overcame lions; I carried off crocodiles. I cast the Nubians under my feet; I carried off the southern Nubians; I caused the Asiatics to flee, even as hounds.
13. I have made me an house, adorned with gold, its ceilings with lapis lazuli, its walls having deep foundations. Its doors are of copper, their bolts are of bronze. It is made for everlasting; eternity is in awe of it. I know every dimension thereof, O Lord of the World!
14. There are divers devices in buildings. I know the pronouncements of men when inquiring into its beauties; but they know not that it was without thee, O my Son, Senwesert; life, safe and sound, be to thee--by thy feet do I walk; thou art after mine own heart; by thine eyes do I see; born in an hour of delight; with spirits 1 that rendered thee praise.
15. Behold, that which I have done at the beginning, let me set it in order for thee at the end; let me be the landing-place of that which is in thine heart. All men together set the White Crown on the Offspring of the God. fixing it unto its due place. I shall begin thy praises when in the Boat of Ra. Thy kingdom hath been from primeval
time; not by my doing, who have done valiant things. Raise up monuments, make beautiful thy tomb. I have fought against him whom thou knowest; for I desire not that he should be beside thy Majesty. Life safe and sound, be to thee.
94:1 The monuments leave no doubt of this. Pen and ink were used in the First Dynasty, and speech had been reduced to visible signs before that.
94:2 About B.C. 4770. In all Egyptian dates given in this book I follow Professor Petrie's chronology.
97:1 The King.
98:1 The customary attitude of a submissive inferior at that time.
99:1 The god Osiris was believed to have reigned on earth many thousand years before Menes, the first historical king.
101:1 An obscure or corrupt phrase here follows, which does not admit of satisfactory translation.
103:1 I.e., comfortable.
104:1 His belly, presumably.
104:2 The above translation is not satisfactory; the text may be corrupt. No intelligible translation of it has yet been made.
106:1 I.e.., all wickedness is contained therein.
107:1 A servant.
108:1 So also in life, by diversity of aim, alternating work and play, happiness is secured. Tacking is evidently meant in the case of the steersman.
109:1 This section refers to the relations between the son of a nobleman and his tutor, dwelling on the benefits from former pupils in high places, if their school days have been pleasant.
109:2 An obscure phrase.
110:1 Literally, "It is that which preventeth the heart from advancing (?)" A curious phrase.
111:1 Literally, after his stick or sceptre.
112:1 Who knows them.
114:1 The greater part of this section is a play upon the root sodem, which in its meaning includes our hear--listen--and obey. This tiresome torture of words is frequent in Egyptian, especially in old religious texts.
115:1 The "Followers of Horns" are a legendary dynasty of demigods, believed by the Egyptians to have ruled for about 13,400 years after the reign of Horus, and before that of Menes. There is also an order of spirits by this name.
116:1 A word of unknown meaning; apparently some kind of plant. Such a word seems out of place here, and may be idiomatic, like our "flowery language." But the preceding line obviously refers to this book.
118:1 This is a rather dark saying, but apparently the author means that although the duly instructed guest may only partake moderately of the abundance before him, what he cats is as good as the rest. His portion will be equal to the whole as regards quality, though inferior as regards quantity.
120:1 A ceremonial title applied to deceased persons, analogous to our "the late." "Justified" is not an exact rendering, but it is usual, and will serve.
120:2 Literally, heart.
121:1 An allusion to the people of Egypt, whom he had freed from the foreign oppressors.
121:2 He remained quiet but watchful.
122:1 Referring to the co-regency with his son.
122:2 Referring to the attempted assassination.
122:3 The limits, south and north, of his Kingdom.
122:4 The god of corn.
123:1 Or, unborn souls.