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Ancient Egyptian texts: Demotic papyrus of moral precepts
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Demotic papyrus of moral precepts
32nd dynasty

1 Make it not in a heart of a mother to enter into bitterness.
2 Kill not, nor expose yourself to be killed.
3 Make not a companion of a wicked man.
4 Do not do after the advice of a fool.
5 Do not build up your tomb above those who command you.
6 Do not ///// to your children till they are old, they have increased in age and strength.
7 May it not happen to you to maltreat an inferior, and may it happen to you to respect the venerable.
8 May it not happen to you to maltreat your wife whose strength is less than yours, but may she find in you a protector.
9 Do not curse your master before God.
10 Do not curse him who //////.
11 Do not speak against your master //////.
12 Do not save your life at the cost of that of another.
13 Desire not that your son ////// and his sons.
14 May it not happen to you to cause your infant to suffer, if he is weak, (on the contrary) assist him.
15 Do not abandon one son to another of your sons, who is stronger or more courageous.
16 That is the cause of vexation which comes from //////.
17 Do not amuse yourself or play upon those who are dependent upon you.
18 Do not allow your son to be familiar with a married woman.
19 Do not build your tomb in your own estate.
20 Do not build your tomb at the approaches to the Temples.
21 Do not go out with a foolish man.
22 Do not stop to listen to his words.
23 Do not pervert the heart of your acquaintance, if he is pure.
24 Do not take a haughty attitude.
25 Do not mock the venerable man who is your superior.
///////////////
- Louvre papyrus No.X, 9
 
-May it not happen to you to maltreat an inferior: Unlike other ancient societies where the weak and vulnerable were little respected, the Egyptians displayed a modicum of compassion.
Which does not mean that husbands did not beat their wives, fathers their children, and masters their servants.
-Do not build thy tomb in your own estate: Traditionally Egyptians buried their dead in deserted regions west of the Nile. But of course, not everybody could afford to do so.

Modernized from Theodore Deveria The Papyrus of Moral Precepts, XXXII Dynasty
S. Birch, ed. Records of the Past, Series 1, Volume 8, 1876
Samuel Bagster and Sons, London

 


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