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The Teachings of Ptahhotep- The Oldest Book in the World

The Teachings of Ptahhotep- The Oldest Book in the World



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Published by Rbg Street Scholar
The Teachings of Ptahhotep- The Oldest Book in the World
The Teachings of Ptahhotep- The Oldest Book in the World

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Published by: Rbg Street Scholar on Jun 25, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"First published around 2388 B.C. Fifth Kemetic (Egyptian) Dynasty under the title:Teachings of the Prefect of the City, Dja Ptahhotep ynder the majesty of the king of theSouth and the North. Assa Djed-Ka-Ra. living eternally forever."
The Teachings of Ptahhotep: The OldestBook in the World
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Page 2 of 29
The Teachings of Ptahhotep: The Oldest Book in the World
Teaching of Ptahhotep
The Introduction
 The Teaching is set at court, with the highest official ('vizier' in Egyptological translation), a mannamed Ptahhotep, requesting retirement from the king. The official paints a bleak picture of oldage, evidently to convince the king that retirement is necessary, and asks that he be replaced inoffice by his son as 'staff of old age', a term also found in a late Middle Kingdom legal documentto denote a son taking the office of his father, presumably on condition that he continues tosupport the father (UC 32037). This term, the Middle Egyptian syntax and the late MiddleKingdom date of the two earliest surviving manuscript copies, point to a Twelfth Dynasty date ofcomposition.The king consents to the request of Ptahhotep, with the observation that the young cannot beborn with wisdom - by implication they need the experience given by advanced age. TheTeaching presents then both a positive and the dramatised negative aspects of growing old inancient Egyptian society.Background information for Middle Kingdom compositionsTransliteration after Devaud 1916, using the copy on Papyrus Prisse as principal source. Thesection divisions here are those suggested by the red highlighting in Papyrus Prisse: after eachsection number are given the corresponding line-numbers in Papyrus Prisse.Transliteration (using A, i, y, a, w, b, p, f, m, n, r, h, H, x, X, s, S, q, k, g, t, T, d, D) withtranslationred: part of the text written in red in Papyrus Prisse1 (Papyrus Prisse, column 4, line 1 to column 5, line 4)sbAyt nt imy-r niwt TAty ptH-Htpxr Hm n nswt bity issi anx Dt r nHHimy-r niwt TAty ptH-Htp Dd.fity nb.itni xpr iAw hAwwgg iw iHw Hr mAwsDr n.f Xdr ra nbirty nDsw anxwy imrw
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The Teachings of Ptahhotep: The Oldest Book in the World
r gr n mdw n.fib tmw n sxA.n.f sfqs mn n.f n Awwbw nfr xpr m bw bindpt nbt Smtirt iAw n rmT bin m xt nbtfnd DbA n ssn.n.fn tnw aHa HmstwD.t(w) n bAk im irt mdw iAwix Dd n.f mdw sDmywsxrw imyw-HAt pAw sDm.n nTrwix ir.t(w) n.k mittdr.tw Snw m rxytbAk n.k idbwyThe teaching of the Overseer of the City and Vizier Ptahhotepbefore the power of the dual king Isesi living for ever and eternity.The Overseer of the City and Vizier Ptahhotep declares:O my sovereign,Old age has struck, age has descended,Feebleness has arrived, weakness is here again.Sleep is upon him in discomfort all day.Eyes are grown small, ears deaf,Mouth silent, unable to speak,Heart emptied, unable to recall yesterday.Bones ache his whole length.Goodness has turned to evil,All taste is gone.What old age does to people is evil in every way.Nose is blocked, unable to breathe,how old (it feels) standing or sitting.Let a staff of old age be decreed to be made for this humble servant.Let him be told the speech of those who assess,the advice of the ancestors once heard by the gods.Then the same may be done for you,strife may be removed from the populace,and the Two Shores may toil for you.2 (Papyrus Prisse, column 5, lines 4-6)Dd.in Hm n nTr pnsbA r.k sw r mdt Xr HAtix ir.f biA n msw wrwaq sDm im.f mtrt ib nbDd n.f nn msy siA

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