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Ancient Egyptian literature: The admonitions of Khekheperre-sonbu
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The admonitions of Khekheperre-sonbu

The collection of words, the gathering of sayings, the pursuit of utterances with searching of heart, made by the priest of Heliopolis, ... Khekheperre-sonbu, called Onkhu. He says:
Would that I had unknown utterances, sayings that are unfamiliar, even new speech that has not occurred (before), free from repetitions,, not the utterance of what has [long (?)] passed, which the ancestors spake. I squeeze out my breast for what is in it, in dislodging all that I say; for it is but to repeat what has been said when what has (already) been said has been said. There is no [support (?)] for the speech of the ancestors when the descendants find it ...
I have spoken this in accordance with what I have seen, beginning with the first men down to those who shall come after. Would that I might know what others have not known, even what has not been repeated, that I might speak them and that my heart might answer me; that I might make clear to it (my heart) concerning my ill, that I might throw off the burden that is on my back....
I am meditating on the things that have happened, the events that have occurred in the land. Transformations go on, it is not like last year, one year is more burdensome than the next... Righteousness is cast out, iniquity is in the midst of the council-hall. The plans of the gods are violated, their dispositions are disregarded. The land is in distress, mourning is in every place, towns and districts are in lamentation. All men alike are under wrongs; as for respect, an end is made of it. The lords of quiet are disquieted. A morning comes every day and turned back again to what has been (formerly). When I would speak [thereof (?)], my limbs are heavy laden. I am distressed because of my heart, it is suffering to hold my peace concerning it. Another heart would bow down, (but) a brave heart in distress is the companion of its lord. Would that I had a heart able to suffer. Then would I rest in it. I would load it with words of ... that I might dislodge through it my malady.
He said to his heart: Come then my heart, that I may speak to thee and that thou mayest answer for me my sayings and mayest explain to me that which is in the land.... I am meditating on what has happened. Calamities come in today, to-morrow [afflictions (?)] are not past. All men are silent concerning it, (although) the land is in great disturbance. Nobody is free from evil; all men alike do it. Hearts are sorrowful. He who gives commands is as he to whom commands are given; the heart of both of them is content. Men awake to it in the morning daily, (but) hearts thrust it not away. The fashion of yesterday therein is like to-day and resembles it [because of (?)] many things .... there is none so wise that he perceives and none so angry that he speaks. Men awake in the morning to suffer every day. Long and heavy is my malady. The poor man has no strength to save himself from him that is stronger than he. It is painful to keep silent concerning the things heard, (but) it is suffering to reply to the ignorant man. To criticise an utterance causes enmity, (for) the heart receives not the truth, and the reply to a matter is not endured. All that a man desires is his own utterance....
I speak to thee, my heart; answer thou me, (for) a heart assailed is not silent. Lo, the affairs of the servant are like those of the master. Manyfold is the burden upon thee.
- Khekheperre-sonbu was born under Senusret II
The surviving manuscripts containing copies of this text date to the time of Ramses II
  breast: lit. body or belly, the seat of mind (Breasted)

J.H.Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, pp. 200ff.

 


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