Quotes by "Miriam Lichtheim"
I am knowing to him who lacks knowledge, One who teaches a man what is useful to him. I am a straight one in the king’s house, Who knows what to say in every office. I am a listener who listens to the truth, Who ponders it in the heart. I am one pleasant to his lord’s house, Who is remembered for his good qualities. I am kindly in the offices, One who is calm and does not roar. I am kindly, not short-tempered, One who does not attack a man for a remark. I am accurate like the scales. Straight and true like Thoth. I am firm-footed, well-disposed, Loyal to him who advanced him. I am a knower who taught himself knowledge, An advisor whose advice is sought. I am a speaker in the hall of justice, Skilled in speech in anxious situations.
THE INSTRUCTION OF PTAHHOTEP Instruction of the Mayor of the city, the Vizier Ptahhotep, under the Majesty of King Isesi, who lives for all eternity. The mayor of the city, the vizier Ptahhotep, said: O king, my lord! Age is here, old age arrived. Feebleness came, weakness grows, Childtike one sleeps all day. Eyes are dim, ears deaf. Strength is waning through weariness, The mouth, silenced, speaks not, The heart, void, recalls not the past, The bones ache throughout. Good has become evil, all taste is gone, What age does to people is evil in everything. The nose, clogged, breathes not, Painful are standing and sitting. May this servant be ordered to make a staff of old age, So as to teil him the words of those who heard, The ways of the ancestors, Who have listened to the gods. May such be done for you. So that strife may be banned from the people, And the Two Shores may serve you! Said the majesty of this god: Instruct him then in the sayings of the past, May he become a model for the children of the great, May obedience enter him, And the devotion of him who speaks to him, No one is born wise. Beginning of the formulations of excellent discourse spoken by the Prince, Count, God's Father, God's beloved, Eldest Son of the King, of his body, Mayor of the city and Vizier, Ptahhotep, in instructing the ignorant in knowledge and in the standard of excellent discourse, as profit for him who will hear, as woe to him who would neglect them. He spoke to his son: Don’t be proud of your knowledge. Consult the ignorant and the wise; The limits of art are not reached, No artist’s skills are perfect; Good speech is more hidden than greenstone, Yet may be found among maids at the grindstones. If you meet a disputant in action, A powerful man, superior to you. Fold your arms, bend your back, To flout him will not make him agree with you. Make little of the evil speech By not opposing him while he's in action; He will be called an ignoramus, Your self-control will match his pile (of words). If you meet a disputant in action Who is your equal, on your level, You will make your worth exceed his by silence, While he is speaking evilly, There will be much talk by the hearers. Your name will be good in the mind of the magistrates. If you meet a disputant in action, A poor man, not your equal. Do not attack him because he is weak, Let him alone, he will confute himself. Do not answer him to relieve your heart, Do not vent yourself against your opponent, Wretched is he who injures a poor man, One will wish to do what you desire. You will beat him through the magistrates’ reproof. If you are a man who leads, Who controls the affairs of the many, Seek out every beneficent deed, That your conduct may be blameless. Great is justice, lasting in effect, Unchallenged since the time of Osiris. One punishes the transgressor of laws, Though the greedy overlooks this; Baseness may seize riches, Yet crime never lands its wares; In the end it is justice that lasts, Man says: “It is my father's ground.” Do not scheme against people, God punishes accordingly: If a man says: “I shall live by it,” He will lack bread for his mouth. If a man says: “I shall be rich' He will have to say: “My cleverness has snared me.” If he says: “I will snare for myself,” He will be unable to say: “I snared for my profit.
THE INSTRUCTION OF PTAHHOTEP Part IV If you are mighty, gain respect through knowledge And through gentleness of speech. Don’t command except as is fitting, He who provokes gets into trouble. Don't be haughty, lest you be humbled, Don’t be mute, lest you be chided. When you answer one who is fuming, Avert your face, control yourself. The flame of the hot-heart sweeps across. He who steps gently, his path is paved. He who frets all day has no happy moment, He who’s gay all day can’t keep house. Don’t oppose a great man’s action. Don’t vex the heart of one who is burdened; If he gets angry at him who foils him, The ka will part from him who loves him. Yet he is the provider along with the god, What he wishes should be done for him. When he turns his face back to you after raging, There will be peace from his ka; As ill will comes from opposition,. So goodwill increases love. Teach the great what is useful to him, Be his aid before the people; If you Set his knowledge impress his lord, Your sustenance will come from his ka As the favorite's belly is filled. So your back will be clothed by it, And his help will be there sustain you. For your superior whom you love And who lives by it, He in turn will give you good support. Thus will love of you endure In the belly of those who love you, He is a ka who loves to listen. If you are a magistrate of standing. Commissioned to satisfy the many, Hew a straight line, When you speak don't lean to one side. Beware lest one complain: “Judges, he distorts the matter!” And your deed turns into a judgment (of you). If you are angered by misdeed. Lean toward a man account of his rightness; Pass it over, don’t recall it, Since he was silent to you the first day If you are great after having been humble, Have gained wealth after having been poor In the past, in a town which you know, Knowing your former condition. Do not put trust in your wealth, Which came to you as gift of god; So that you will not fall behind one like you, To whom the same has happened, Bend your back to your superior, Your overseer from the palace; Then your house will endure in its wealth. Your rewards in their right place. Wretched is he who opposes a superior, One lives as long as he is mild, Baring the arm does not hurt it Do not plunder a neighbor’s house, Do not steal the goods of one near you, Lest he denounce you before you are heard A quarreler is a mindless person, If he is known as an aggressor The hostile man will have trouble in the neighborhood. This maxim is an injunction against illicit sexual intercourse. It is very obscure and has been omitted here. If you probe the character of a friend, Don’t inquire, but approach him, Deal with him alone, So as not to suffer from his manner. Dispute with him after a time, Test his heart in conversation; If what he has seen escapes him, If he does a thing that annoys you, Be yet friendly with him, don’t attack; Be restrained, don’t let fly, Don’t answer with hostility, Neither part from him nor attack him; His time does not fail to come, One does not escape what is fated Be generous as long as you live, What leaves the storehouse does not return; It is the food to be shared which is coveted. One whose belly is empty is an accuser; One deprived becomes an opponent, Don’t have him for a neighbor. Kindness is a man’s memorial For the years after the function.