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The Teaching of a Man for his Son

Transliteration (using A, i, y, a, w, b, p, f, m, n, r, h, H, x, X, s, S, q, k, g, t, T, d, D) with translation

Transliteration after Fischer-Elfert 1999, following the section divisions proposed there: in that edition, a broader thematic division is also proposed, with Part One covering sections 1-8, and Part Two the remaining passages, his sections 9-24.

red: part of the text written in red on original in principal sources



HAt-a m sbAyt irt.n s n sA.f

Dd.f sDm xrw.i m wn mdw.i

m fx ib.k Hr Ddt.i n.k


Beginning of the teaching made by a man for his son

He says: hear my voice, do not avoid my words,

do not untie your heart from what I tell you.



ir qd nn sn im

n xpr.n wsft nt sAA

mty gr xAm rmn

mnx ib ir Ddt

pnqt mdt Xr-HAt xpS

nn qn sar r sH

aq m mdt wbA sDm

nn qmAw nDnD m-a.f

wHa mdt nn snm.f

xn Hwr swxA.f Dd sw


Have character, without exaggerating it;

for a sensible man idleness does not happen.

Silence is precise, the leveller of the arm.

The heart that does what is told is the effective one;

rejection of words leads to violence;

there is no baggage-man raised to the audience-hall.

Whoever enters into words, opens the way for hearing

there is no winnower from whom one takes advice.

Interpret words without humiliating;

a mean phrase slights its sayer.



m sTn ib.k Hr nTr

dwA nswt mr.k sw m mrt

sbAq.f m dd bAw.f

mh Hr.f m Sw r mni

wr sw r s HH n Hs.n.f

dnit pw nt sHtp sw

iw pXr.n.f r wr Xr

dd.f ib.f n mr.n.f

sAw Dd r.k r wxAx sw


Do not let your heart stray from god.

Praise the king, may you love him, as a worker

He makes radiant by the giving of his powers

but whoever neglects him is deprived of a mooring.

He is greater than a million men for the one he has favoured,

he is the shield for the one who makes him content.

Whoever has escorted will be great in wealth

It is to the one he has loved that he gives his heart;

guard against speaking out and vexing him.



in iw hrw n rnnt Hr thAt.f

in iw wAH.tw hrw n aHaw

in iw xbA.tw im.f r-pw

msxnt mi sp tpy

nn HD SAa.n.f

mk ist wr Hst nt nTr

aA xsf r-sy wr bAw.f

mAA.n.i qfAw nn xpr m SAwt.f


Can the day of Renenet be varied?

Can you add a day to a lifespan?

Can you subtract from it either?

Meskhenet is like the time of creation,

there is none who can destroy what he has ordained.

See then, great is the favour of god,

exceedingly great is his control, mighty his power.

I have seen his eminence, none can come into being against (?) him.



iw.f sxpr.f xm r rx

msdd xpr m mrr

iw.f di.f sn ktkt wrw

Xr pHwy m tpy

Sw xrt m nb aHaw

andt m nb hny

iw.f di.f mni Sw mni

sswn m nb dmi

iw.f sbA.f Abb r mdt

swbA.f anxwy id


He can transform the ignorant into the wise,

the hater become the loving,

he enables the least to be like the great,

the one in last place to become first,

The man without property to be a lord of riches

the miserable to be a lord of jubilation.

He enables the man without mooring-post to moor,

and the man who was traded to be lord of the docks.

He teaches the love of speaking,

he opens the ears of the deaf



iw nn r-Aw m Xnw aHaw

m rwty hrw n rnnt

nn smn msxnt r.s

wp-Hr smn TAw r fnd

wr n.k m-a.k

ir.n.k aHaw.k m-Xnw sxrw nTr.k


All this is within a lifetime,

beyond the day of Renenet,

and Meskhenet can guarantee nothing for it,

other than guaranteeing breath for the nose

Greatness can be yours by your action,

if you have spent your life within the frame of your god



dwA nswt swAS bity

iAt pw xrt nTr

imi bAw.f Haaw m wd.n.f

Snt xrt m mr.n.f

Sw rn.f r imAxy

snm.f rdi n.f pHwy

stk[n? ...] Xt

swbA.n.f sw iw.f m-m ..-y

ir.n.f nmt xr .. tnw


Praise the king, adore the king

that is the post that is before the god.

Spread his powers, rejoicing when he has decreed,

and devising plans (?) for what he has desired.

The nameless will become a revered man,

but he reduces whoever gives him the rear.

... [...] body,

he has opened him/it up when he/it was among the ...

He has made a slaughterhouse, and overthrown ... (?)



wDA Haw pw Sw m rn.f

iw.f Snt.f n.f Xt

sw wnm nhw awy.fy

qrs.n.tw m pxA im.f

sbAq.tw Hn.tw Hr rn.f

mHy Htp Hr mr.f

nn is n dm rn.f

nn sti n Snt sw


He is the bodily health of the nameless

he exorcises his body for him.

He is the right arm of the man whose arms are weak.

A person is buried (only) as one cleansed by him,

and is made radiant and secure at his name.

The anxious man finds peace at his pyramid,

but there is no tomb for the one who pronounces his name,

there is no pouring of water for the one who plots against him.



mAA.n xAst nbt Xr Hryt.f

iw wrw.sn Hr qnb n.f st

DA bAw.f wAD-wr

nbtyw anx Hr snd.f

pwnt idbw HAw-nbw

iw nTr Hr snwH n.f st

tm wd im.f pA sAH tA

tm Snt sw Htp mr.f


We see every foreign land in terror of him

and their leaders bowing down to him.

His powers have crossed the great green water,

the islanders (?) alive in fear of him.

Punt and the shores of the farthest islands,

the god has roped them in for him(self).

Whoever does not attack him, has already touched land.

Whoever does not plot against him, rests at his pyramid.



m Dd grg m-sA qd mdt

qsn pw mtyw Hr sxwn

iw Tn.tw s Hr sp Hwr

tm hAb.f m ky sp

xpr mnx m aqA nst

nn hA mdt aDA r tA

nn stwt Hr swAD.n.f

nn mH-ib m wsf sp xn Hwr

arq mdt iT mnx[t] Hr tmA

Ax mAat n Dd st


Do not tell lies in the quest to build a speech -

witnesses to a dispute make that difficult,

A man is tripped by a mean moment,

and cannot send a second time.

Effectiveness arises from accuracy of tongue.

Speech of malice cannot fall to the ground,

and there is no building on what it has fostered.

There is no peace of mind in delaying by a moment of evil.

Collect a speech, grasp what has effect on the mat,

Truth works for the one who speaks it.



[...] sxr

imi mrt.n.k sdH rmn.k

m qA qaH.k wSd.k

Ams ib n mrwt

nr.n.tw gr

tr tri Hr wAt

wSd.tw qb r mdt

rwi.tw r nb-r

wA.tw Hr qA xrw.f


[...] advice (?)

Give what you have preferred, relax your shoulder

Do not raise your arm at your asking,

but nurture the heart in love -

it is the silent man one respects,

it is the courteous man who is treated well on the road.

People ask for refreshment in speech,

and react against a 'mouth-master',

avoiding one whose voice is too loud.



iw qd qsn smDd nb.f

stkn sw nb DbA

nn prt is pw nty [...]

[...] iSst (?)

nn Hkk n xrw n mry nst.f

in ib qmA biA

xpr wpt m qbH srf


The difficult character oppresses his master,

and the master brings him to (his) return.

There can be no fruit for the one who [...]

[...] 'what?'

There can be no swallowing for the voice of a man who loves his (own) tongue,

it is the heart that creates talent.

A mission should be the cooling of the inflamed.



rhn.n.tw Hr gr m sH

Hpp aSA rw Hr wa

iT bnrit r msddt

wAD pw sTni qdw

ir xpr.k m sprw [n.f]

wDa.k s sn Hr sxwn

sDm st m iw n wa ky nma

ir s sn wpp inw.sn

pr.sn m Htpyw


Assent is (secured) by silence in the hall.

A crowd of mouths collapses (?) at a lone (voice).

What is sweet is seized upon rather than what is hateful,

choiceness of forms brings success.

If you become one who [receives] petitioners,

and are judging two men in a dispute,

hear them at the arrival of one, the other to the side (?).

If there are two men whose characters are (both) under judgment,

they will leave content.



[...] n wa mry.k

smAw wDa mdwt

[...] grg wrw aHa aSA

[...] xm sDm

mw pw dnit pw mAat

As [...] Ddw grg

imi hAy mdw.k r tA

wxA [...]

[dnit?] pw sprw n.f


[...] for the one whom you love,

that kills (?) the judgement

[...] falsehood of (?) leaders, the multitude stands (?)

[...] the ignorant to (?) a hearer.

Truth is both water and dam;

the teller of lies is quick to [...] (?).

Let your words fall to earth;

a fool [...]

He is a refuge for the one who petitions him (?).



m sbi i[...]

[a?]DA xpr [...] s nb

[n?] snm.n.tw m nHnw

n in.tw xAm [...]

in s sHD ...

[...] mdw [...] smi

wSb.f [...]

m fx ib.k Aww gr.k

wSb [...]

[...] r Dnr.f

m [...]

[...] H


Do not mock [...]

Crime can befall (?) any man.

One should (?) not harm with gladness,

or bring submission (?) [...]

It is man who brightens grief (?)

[...] words [...] report,

as he answers [...]

Do not unleash your heart; let your silence be long.

Reply [...]

[...] to his need (?).

Do not (?) [...]

[...] ...



[...] ir.f sX m xnms

[...] XAAt DrDrit

Dr nty wnn.f r.f [...].f

ir rx.f wnwt (?) ...

iw.f gr Xr mdwt r.f

r smi n nTr niwt.f

Dr nty wnn.f r.f m btAw n sH


[...] he acts as scribe as a colleague,

[...] foreign corpses

because he indeed is his [...]

If he knows the hour [...]

he is silent under the words against him,

to report to the god of his city,

because he indeed is a fugitive of the hall.



m wp s wsr r.k

wDa.k s sn Hr sxwn

nma [...] r sp Hwrw

mi prrt m r n wSbt

ir wp.k s sn m qnbt

Hms.k drt.k r r.k

nn Dwt r.k mdwt.k psS.k xpr


Do not judge a man stronger than you,

in judging two men in dispute.

Separate [...] for the evil moment (?)

like that which comes from the mouth of the answerers

If you judge two men in council,

you should sit with your hand on your mouth.

There can be no evil against you; your words and your share can take place.



[...m]dwt m in st

m sDm st Dwt r.k

m hnn mdt [..]

wDa sw nTr m xprw.f


nn dnit n.f [..]S[...]

[s]bAq.k ib.k r Xr.k


[...] words from the one who delivers them,

do not hear them - it is evil for you,

do not agree with the words of [...]

- the god judges him in his forms.


there can be no refuge for him (?) [...]

Gladden your heart with what you have.



ir aDA m nb aHa n awn

[...] m snD

m nHb n nty m rdit m btAw

m aHa [...] m mit[t]

mi prt m r n rS [...]

[...] sDr r Ssp [...]

aSA-r r aHA.k

dd.k xn[...]


As for the criminal who is lord of wealth by seizure,

[...] in fear

Do not join someone who has been put to flight (?),

do not stand [...] either,

like coming from the mouth of the joyful (?) [...]

[...] sleeping to daybreak [...]

Overtalking will fight against you.

May you give.. [...]



ir mdt mitt xt pw

sdp pw wSb smx (?)

HD (?) st r r n gr

ir.s qbHw m aSA xrw

Ax hryt nfr wAH-ib

wSB n rx rwi n xm

nn xAx r Sw m xnS

wn n.f Xt

qb srf tmm mryt

m sDm mdwt wTst

m hnn Ddt nbt (?)

xsf.k iw nDnD.n.k

qsn pw Ha-n-r-n.i


Speech - it is the echo of fire.

It is the scorching (?) in the answer of the ignorant (?),

it is bright in the mouth of the silent.

It makes the cool man loudmouthed.

Harmony works - patience is good.

Answer the wise man - avoid the ignorant.

No hasty speech is free of stench,

or given an open heart.

Be cool in fire, and complete in love.

Do not heed words that recruit,

do not agree to everything that is said.

Resist when you have consulted;

'I want I want' is painful.



nn nb ktt pA sAH tA

sHH tkn ib pHy

nn As ib Sw m xrwy.f

nb imt pw xprt n.f mrt

nn kA wSm.tw n.f mdwt

ir gr.k xpr n.k pHwy

wSb.k m nfryt

iw xn wa Abb aSAt

[...] hrt Hr.f


There is no master of meanness who has managed to touch land.

The seeker who is near to the heart is the one who arrives.

No light-hearted man can be free of his enemies;

it is the lord of favour to whom workers accrue.

There is no-one who can plan to have words measured out to him (?)

If you are silent, the end will come to pass for you.

Answer with nothing;

a single utterance, that is the desire of most people.

[...] at peace with it/him



iw nH.tw Tst nt wAH-ib (?)

[...] Aww nst stkn mhwt

nn hnw n aSA xrw

[..].f xrwy

nn grg pr [...] mdwt

nn smA.tw m Hnyt

wn.f mi HfAw Hr At.f

iw qd bin smDd.f nb.f

nn Sw n.f m dhn Xr.f


People seek the phrase of the patient man (?);

[he who is not?] overextended of tongue is the one who draws in a clan.

There are no supporters for the loudmouthed,

he [...] hostility (?).

There is no founding a house for [the one who has excess of?] words;

noone joins in with (a man of) envy,

he is like a snake on its strike.

An evil character oppresses its owner;

he cannot escape the apportioning of what is his.



[...] Xr [...] xrwy


xrp.k m btn sw

aHA tw Hr

[...].k m-sA Ddt.k Ds.k

wAD pw Hs sw mwt.f

ir.k mi SAat n.k

m [...] dd.k Hr mn

ir s Hs sw bw nb

iw Hr[.sn?] nb Hr Abb [xnm]sw (?) m-xt.f


[...] under (?) [...] hostility

[...] respect (?)

Control yourself, do not upset him.

Restrain yourself from [...]

[Answer only] when you are addressed yourself.

That is the man who flourishes - his mother praises him.

Do as you are ordered.

Do not [...] (or?) you add to suffering

Any man who is praised by everyone,

all [their ?] faces desire [fri]ends (?) in his following.



[...] nSny [...]

[...] mi [...]

[...] gm (?) rmT nb

iw.f sDr r Ssp

[...].f kywy

wAD n.f gswy [...].f

xprt [...] n s mi qd.f

gm.f [...] r.f

r xt.tw (?) [...] biA.f


[...] raging [...]

[...] like [...]

[...] finding (?) everyone

He may sleep to daybreak

He [...] others

Both halves (?) flourish for him in his [...]

What happens [...] to a man according to his character,

he finds [...] to him

until [...] is cut (?) [...] his talent



m hAb ib.k r aHA

snk.tw sn.k Hr Abt

m wp s sn m nSny.sn

wDb sxwn r wDa sw

iw.f ir [...] r

ky ir.f m xfty

qb sX Hr.f tm Stm

in s srwd xrwy.f

wAD pw Hnn m r.f

xpr srxy m Ts aHA


Do not lust after fighting.

Your passing can be cut short (?) by the family.

Do not judge two men in their rage;

a dispute can turn against the one judging it.

It makes [one (?) ...]-mouthed

and the other acts as enemy

He who remains deaf to it can rest, by not aggravating.

It is man who strengthens his enemy.

He who restrains his mouth is the one who flourishes;

complaints turn into declarations of war


Section 24 survives on three ostraca, and on each it is followed by a colophon (end-note) starting:

iw.s nfr m Htp

'its end, perfect, in peace'


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