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Ancient Egyptian texts: The Teaching of Amennakht
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The Teaching of Amennakht
oKV 18/3.614+627

Beginning of the instruction, of the sayings of the (correct) way of life, which the scribe Amennakht [has composed].
You are as a man listening to words in order to distinguish between good and evil. Be attentive! Listen to my words! Do not ignore what I have told you!
It is pleasing to be considered a man who can be counted upon for any job.
Let your heart become like a big dyke, (for) the flood beside it is huge. Accept my speech in its totality (?). Do not resist heeding them. Keep all the offices beore your eyes, everything that has been written down, so that you will understand how to say what is appropriate, (such as) what I have told you.
Do not ignore the words and sayings of olden times (?). Great words: this is not their place. Let your heart become steadfast, when it is rushing. You shall speak when you are called upon.
You shall become a scribe und pass through the House of Life. Become like a chest of books!
I shall take over the position of (you, my) father, over your underlings, like a donkey over his herd.
I am the boat, you are the rudder.
I walk the path of listening to you. I do not stray from your precepts. I am on the water of pronouncing your name. My heart was even, (then) weak, when it was ignorant of your teaching. I know the precepts from the time when you were alive, when you beat my back. But then beatings in school are pleasing. Behold, it is good to finish it (i.e.school), better than the smell of lotus blossoms in summer, better than anointing oil in the tomb.
Wish to be perfect for life (?)
Remain calm, do not commit yourself (?), when you do not know the numerous tasks onerous for the Beloved Land.
[///] for you alone my perfect heart according to my teaching.
You have gone away like the
px.t-bird going here and there.
(More) hurtful is the blow when it is struck (?), than saying: I will do it. (?)
- The identity of Amennakht. the author of this teaching is uncertain. He may have been the scribe Amennakht, son of Ipuy, who lived at Deir el-Medina under the 20th dynasty, but the name was quite popular during this period.
 
Fragments of the Teaching of Amennakht have survived on a handful of ostraca. Like many other instructions, which are a string of often unrelated, at times partly illegible sentences, Amennakht's teaching is badly understood. Practically any saying could be interpreted in a number of ways, but the tenor remains the same.
Example:
-It is pleasing to be considered a man who can be counted upon for any job: Alternative renderings that have been suggested are It is agreeable to encounter a man competent in all domains. or It is agreeable to reach the position of a competent man. (cf. Source)
 
teaching of Amennakht
British Museum EA 41541
Photo courtesy British Museum

 
Translation of the British Museum ostracon by A.G. McDowell Village Life in Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press 1999, p.139:
Beginning of the educational instruction, saying for the path of life, made by the scribe Amen-nakhte (for) his assistance Hor-Min. He says: You are a man who listens to words so as to separate good from bad; Pay attention and hear my words, do not disregard what I say!"

Source: P. Dils, (ed.), Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften => 3. Weisheitslehren => Neuägyptische Weisheitslehren => Die Lehre des Amunnacht => 01. oKV 18/3.614+627 => Die Lehre des Amunnacht

 


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