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It only comes down to us from much later copies. This term, the Middle Egyptian syntax and the late Middle Kingdom date of the two earliest surviving manuscript copies, point to a Twelfth Dynasty date of composition.
The king consents to the request of Ptahhotep, with the observation that the young cannot be born with wisdom – by implication they need the experience given by advanced age. The Teaching presents then both a positive and the swbiduria negative aspects of growing old in ancient Egyptian society. Background information for Middle Kingdom compositions Transliteration after Devaudusing the copy lx Papyrus Prisse as principal source.
The section divisions here are those suggested by the red highlighting in Papyrus Prisse: The prefect, the feudal lord Ptah-hotep, says: O Ptah with the two crocodiles, my lord, the progress of age changes into senility. Decay dde upon man and decline takes the place of youth. A vexation weighs upon him every day; sight fails, the ear becomes deaf; his strength dissolves without ceasing.
The mouth is silent, speech fails him; the mind decays, remembering not the day before. The whole body suffers. That which is good becomes evil; taste completely disappears. Old age makes a man altogether miserable; the nose is stopped up, breathing no more from exhaustion. Standing or sitting there is here a condition of. Who will cause me to have authority to speak, that I may declare to him the words of those who have heard the counsels of former days?
And the counsels heard of the gods, who will give me authority sabidjria declare them? Cause that it be so and that evil be removed from those that are enlightened; send the double.
The majesty of this god says: Instruct him in the sayings of former days. It is this which constitutes the merit of the children of the great. All that which makes the soul equal penetrates him who hears it, and that which it says produces no satiety.
Beginning of the arrangement of the good sayings, spoken by the noble lord, the divine father, beloved of Ptah, the son of the king, the first-born of his race, the prefect and feudal lord Ptah-hotep, so as to instruct the ignorant in the knowledge of the arguments of the good sayings. It is profitable for him who hears them, it is a loss to him who shall transgress them. He says to his son: Be not arrogant because of that which you know; deal with the ignorant as with the learned; for the barriers of art are not closed, no artist being in possession of the perfection to which he should aspire.
But good words are more difficult to find than the emerald, for it is by slaves that that is discovered among the rocks of pegmatite. If you find a disputant while he is hot, and if he is superior to you in ability, lower the hands, bend the back, do not get into a passion with him. As he will not let you destroy his words, it is utterly wrong pathhotep interrupt him; that proclaims that you are incapable of keeping yourself calm, when you are contradicted. If then you have to do with a disputant while he is hot, imitate one who does not stir.
You have the advantage over him if you keep silence when he is uttering evil words. If you find a disputant while he is hot, do not despise him because you are not of the same opinion. Be not angry against him when he is wrong; away with such a thing.
He fights against himself; require him not further to flatter your feelings. Do not amuse yourself with the spectacle which you have before you; it is odious, it is mean, it is the part of a despicable soul so to do. As soon as ptahhhotep let yourself be moved by your feelings, combat this desire as a thing that is reproved by the great.
If you have, as leader, to decide on the conduct of a great number of men, seek the most perfect manner of doing so that your own conduct may be without reproach. Justice is great, invariable, and assured; it has not been disturbed since the age of Ptah. To throw obstacles in the way of the laws is to open the way before violence. Shall that which is below swbiduria the upper hand, if the unjust does not attain to the place of justice?
Even he who says: I take for myself, of my own free-will; but says not: I take by virtue of my authority. The limitations of justice are invariable; such is the instruction which every man receives from his father.
Inspire not men with fear, else Ptah will fight against you in the same manner. If any one asserts that he lives by such means, Ptah will take away the bread from his mouth; if any one asserts that he enriches himself thereby, Ptah says: I may take those riches to myself.
If any one asserts that he beats others, Ptah will end by reducing him to impotence. Let no one inspire men with fear; this is the will of Ptah. Let one provide sustenance for them in the lap of peace; it will then be that they will freely give what has been torn ptahgotep them by terror.
If you are among the persons seated at meat in the house of a greater man than yourself, take that which he gives you, bowing to the ground. Regard that which is placed before you, but point not at it; regard it not frequently; he is a blameworthy person who departs from this rule.
Speak not to the great man more sabiduuria he requires, for one knows not what may be displeasing to him. Speak when he invites you and your worth will be pleasing. As for the great man who has plenty of means of existence, his conduct is as he himself wishes.
He does that which pleases him; if he desires to repose, he realizes his intention. The great man stretching forth his hand does that to which other men do not attain.
But as the means of existence are under the will of Ptah, one can not rebel against it. If you are one of those who bring the messages of one great man to another, conform yourself exactly to that wherewith he has charged you; perform for him the commission as he has enjoined you. Beware of altering in speaking the offensive words which one great person addresses to another; he who perverts the trustfulness sabidudia his way, in order to repeat only what produces pleasure in the words of every man, great or small, is a ptahhoep person.
If you are a farmer, gather the crops in the field which the great Ptah has given you, do not boast in the house of your neighbors; it is better to make oneself dreaded by one’s deeds. As for him who, sabidueia of his own way of acting, being all-powerful, seizes the goods of others like a crocodile in the midst even of watchment, his children ptshhotep an object of malediction, of scorn, and of hatred on account of it, while his father is grievously distressed, and as for the mother who has borne him, happy is another rather than herself.
But a man becomes a god when he is chief of a tribe which has confidence in following him. If you abase yourself in obeying a superior, your conduct is entirely good before Ptah.
Las máximas de Ptahhotep: el libro de la sabiduría egipcia – Christian Jacq – Google Books
Knowing who you ought to obey and who you ought to command, do not lift up your heart against him. As you know that in him is authority, be respectful toward him as belonging to him. Wealth comes only at Ptah’s own good-will, and his caprice only is the law; as for him who. Ptah, who has created his superiority, turns himself from him and he is overthrown.
Be active during the time of your existence, do no more than is commanded. Do not spoil the time of your activity; he is a blameworthy person who makes a bad use of his moments. Do not lose the daily opportunity of increasing that which your house possesses. Activity produces riches, and riches do not endure when it slackens. If you are a wise man, bring up a son who shall be pleasing to Ptah.
If he conforms his conduct to your way and occupies himself with your affairs as is right, do to him all the good you can; he is your son, a person attached to you whom your own self has begotten. Separate not your heart from him But if he conducts himself ill and transgresses your wish, if he rejects all counsel, if his mouth goes according to the evil word, strike him on the mouth in return.
Give orders without hesitation to those who do wrong, to him whose temper is turbulent; and he will not deviate from the straight path, and there will be no obstacle to interrupt the way. If you are employed in the larit, stand or sit rather than walk about. Lay down rules for yourself from the first: Keep an eye on him who enters announcing that what he asks is secret; what is entrusted to you is above appreciation, and all contrary argument is a matter to be rejected.
He is a god who penetrates into a place where no relaxation of the rules is made for the privileged. If you are with people who display for you an extreme affection, saying: That which is said in your heart, let it be realized by springing up spontaneously.
Las instrucciones de Ptahhotep
Sovereign master, I give myself to your opinion. Your name is approved without speaking. Your body is full of vigor, your face is above your neighbors. While the man who is master of his soul is superior to those whom Ptah has loaded with his gifts; the man who obeys his passion is under the power of his wife.
Declare your line of conduct without reticence; give your opinion in the council of your lord; while there are people who turn back upon their own words when they speak, so as not to offend him who has put forward a statement, and answer not in this fashion: If you are a leader of peace, listen to the discourse of the petitioner. Be not abrupt with him; that would trouble him. Say not to him: As for being abrupt with the complainant because he described what passed when the injury was done, instead of complaining of the injury itself let it not be!
The way to obtain a clear explanation is to listen with kindness. If you desire to excite respect within the house you enter, for example the house of a superior, a friend, or any person of consideration, in short everywhere where you enter, keep yourself from making advances to a woman, for there is nothing good in so doing.
There is no prudence in taking part in it, and thousands of men destroy themselves in order to enjoy a moment, brief as a dream, while they gain death, so as to know it. It is a villainous intention, that of a man who thus excites himself; if he goes on to carry it out, his mind abandons him. For as for him who is without repugnance for such an act, there is no good sense at all in him.
If you desire that your conduct should be good and preserved from all evil, keep yourself from every attack of bad humor. It is a fatal malady which leads to discord, and there is no longer any existence for him who gives way to it.