By Miriam Lichtheim
Chronologically prepared translations of historic Egyptian writings shed gentle upon the improvement of numerous literary kinds. Bibliogs.
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9 . " 10. " It recurs m that sense in Ptahhotep , line 221. Its counterpart in biblical Hebrew was noted by Williams in Wilson Festschrift, p. 94. THE INSTRUCTION OF PTAHHOTEP This long work has survived in four copies, three of wh ich are written on papyrus rolls while the fourth, containing only the beginning, is on a wooden tablet. The only complete vers ion is that of Papyrus Prisse of the Bibliotheque Nationale, which dates from the Middle Kingdom. The other two papyri, both in the British Museum, are from the Middle and New Kingdoms, respectively.
21. Taking "they" to be "the gods": see Zliba's remarks, op. , p . 127. 22. The recent attempt by D . Lorton in JARCE, 7 (1968), 41-54, to see in fms-Ib, " follow the heart," something other than an exhortation to enjoy life seems to me erroneous. 23. The idea that the gods determine a man 's character and fate was not developed to the point where it would have overwhelmed the sense of free will and personal responsibility. On the notion of fate consult S. -hist. K I. 52/1 (Berlin , 1960). 24. "Stand and sit" may be taken literally or metaphorically : cf.
Some themes and topi cs recur several times, an indication of their importan ce in the scale of values. 62 ANCIENT EGYPTIAN LITERATURE THE OLD KINGDOM Taken together, the thirty-seven maxims do not amount to a comprehensive moral code , nor are they strung together in any logical order. But they touch upon the most important aspects of human relations and they focus on the basic virtues. The cardinal virtues are self-control, moderation, kindness, generosity, justice, and truthfulness tempered by discretion These virtues are to be practiced alike toward all people.