Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ptah-hotep, aka Ptahhotpe or Ptah-Hotep NULL

Egyptian Vizier and Writer of Wisdom

"It is a man's kindly acts that are remembered of him in the years after his life."

"Exalt not thy heart, that it be not brought low."

"He that causeth strife cometh himself to sorrow."

"No one knows his lot when he plans the morrow."

"One knows not what may be in the heart [of another]."

"Silence is more profitable than abundance of speech."

"Follow your desire as long as you live; do not lessen the time of following desire, for the wasting of time is an abomination of spirit."

"That which destroyeth a vision is the veil over it."

"Beware of covetousness, which is a malady, diseaseful, incurable. Intimacy with it is impossible, it makes the sweet friend bitter, it alienates the trusted one from his master, it makes father and mother mad… it divorces a man’s wife."

"Vice must be drawn out that virtue may remain."

"Be cheerful while you are alive."

"Be a craftsman in speech that thou mayest be strong, for the strength of one is the tongue, and speech is mightier than all fighting. "

"Good words are more difficult to find than emeralds. "

"Do not be arrogant about your knowledge Nor trust that you are one who knows. Take counsel with the ignorant as with the knowing. "

"Beware an act of avarice; it is bad and incurable disease. "

"Do not repeat slander; you should not hear it, for it is the result of hot temper. "

"If you are well-to-do and can maintain your household, love your wife in your home according to good custom... Make her happy while you are alive, for she is land profitable to her lord. "

"Truth is great and its effectiveness endures. "

"Teach him what has been said in the past; then he will set a good example to the children of the magistrates, and judgment and all exactitude shall enter into him. Speak to him, for there is none born wise."

"Well-respected is the man whose measure is righteousness, and the changes are then directed."

"Be not proud because thou art learned; but discourse with the ignorant man, as with the sage. For no limit can be set to skill, neither is there any craftsman that possesseth full advantages. Fair speech is more rare than the emerald that is found by slave-maidens on the pebbles."

"A perfect word is hidden more deeply than precious stones. It is to be found near the servants working at the mill-stone."

"And they that are guided go not astray, but they that lose their bearings cannot find a straight course."

"All conduct should be so straight that you can measure it with a plumb-line."

"A woman with happy heart brings equilibrium."

"As for you, teach your disciple the words of tradition. May he act as a model for the children of the great, that they may find in him the understanding and justice of every heart that speaks to him, since man is not born wise."

"As for the ignorant man who does not listen, he accomplishes nothing. He equates knowledge with ignorance, the useless with the harmful. He does everything which is detestable, so people get angry with him each day."

"As for those who end up continually lusting after women, none of their plans will succeed."

"Be generous as long as you live, what leaves the storehouse does not return; it is the food to be shared which is coveted, one whose belly is empty is an accuser; one deprived becomes an opponent, don't have him for a neighbor. Kindness is a man's memorial for the years after the action."

"Be not proud because thou art learned; but discourse with the ignorant man, as with the sage. For no limit can be set to skill, neither is there any craftsman that possesseth full advantages. Fair speech is more rare than the emerald that is found by slave-maidens on the pebbles."

"Do not be arrogant because of your knowledge, but confer with the ignorant man as with the learned. For knowledge has no limits, and none has yet achieved perfection in it. Good speech is more hidden than malachite, yet it is found in the possession of women slaves at the millstones."

"Consult the ignorant and the wise"

"Do not blame those who are childless, do not criticize them for not having any, and do not boast about having them yourself."

"Bend thy back to him that is over thee, thy superior of the king's administration. So will thine house endure with its substance, and thy pay be duly awarded. To resist him that is set in authority is evil. One liveth so long as he is indulgent."

"Do not gossip in your neighborhood, because people respect the silent."

"Do not repeat calumny, nor should you listen to it, it is the spouting of the hot-bellied. Report a thing observed, not heard, if it is negligible, don't say anything, he who is before you recognizes worth. If a seizure is ordered and carried out, hatred will arise against him who seizes; calumny is like a dream against which one covers the face."

"Do not repeat a slanderous rumor, do not listen to it."

"Do not plunder a neighbor's house, do not steal the goods of one near you, lest he denounce you before you are heard. A quarreler is a mindless person, if he is known as an aggressor the hostile man will have trouble in the neighborhood."

"Don?t be proud of your knowledge, consult the ignorant and the wise; the limits of art are not reached, no artist's skills are perfect; good speech is more hidden than greenstone, yet may be found among maids at the grindstones."

"Do not scheme against people, god punishes."

"Excellent in hearing, excellent in speaking, is every man that obeyeth what is noble, and the obedience of an obeyer is a noble thing."

"Follow your heart all your life, do not commit excess with respect to what has been ordained."

"Follow your desire as long as you live and do not perform more than is ordered; do not lessen the time of following desire, for the wasting of time is an abomination to the spirit... When riches are gained, follow desire, for riches will not profit if one is sluggish."

"Follow your heart as long as you live, do no more than is required . . . Don't waste time on daily cares beyond providing for your household; when wealth has come, follow your heart, wealth does no good if one is glum!"

"For the greedy there will be no tomb"

"God loves he who listens. He hates those who do not listen."

"He that obeyeth becometh one obeyed."

"How good it is that a son should take that from his father by which he hath reached old age--obedience."

"He who has a great heart has a gift from god. He who obeys his stomach obeys the enemy."

"He who listens becomes the master of what is profitable."