Proverbs Explored Somewhat
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Some proverbs offer practical rewards if they are followed up sagely.
Although great-looking sayings often assist superiors and half-symbiosis to them - nobility and better - many folk sayings and not a few famous quotations reflect the stands of people who have not succumbed to tyranny and its remnants of today. The folk wise type of sayings can liberate minds somewhat from dogmatic tenets that dictate authoritarian submissions - from adapting to and succumbing and adhering to top-dogs.
Thus, some so-called great sayings from days gone by may offer candid help to beginners in the art of living. Many seem to need to develop counter-weights to the abounding narcissism in the West today, where becoming deeply ceremonial-religious may suggest deep-seated problems.
There is quite likely a pattern behind many wild rantings of bible proverbs too. What is rattled off, so to speak, conforms to the interests and power of those who get privileges from the members, or crew. Accordingly, certain parts of the bible are singled out and given social preference, and are used to "till the soil" of members, a paying herd in the name of Christ. Massive indoctrination efforts of the young and tender in some such circles are found too, as if a few hymn verses were not torture enough . . . What is chosen and stressed, may favour the might and positions of the leaders, and the inferiority and insecurity of commoners.
Proverbs are used in such a tragic kind of setting, but there is a limit to many a thing. Sane self-searching may be needed instead of naivistic religiousness.
Besides, few are massively aware what is best may not be easily got. One reason is that some well accomplished ones prefer to hide their light, and perhaps look foolish, even insane as this guy: [LINK] Another is that it takes guts to realise something that is not welcome, but which rings true. If a truth is too hard to tackle or live, it may be subjected to repression - to unwelcome defence mechanisms, think some, including the existentialist Rolly May. A third reason is that what is best may be masked, and go unrecognised.
This was to suggest how and why many good things are out of reach for very many. Maybe it applies to proficient and delicate use of proverbs too? Compare Tibetan lojong. It is an extensive subject.
If you belong to those that there is hope for, here is a word of cheer or something like that: "He who knows he is a fool is not the biggest fool; he who knows he is confused is not in the worst confusion." - Chuang Tzu.
Sound proverbial wisdom tries to establish practical outlets
Some proverbs revolve around the worth and meaning of human life, others are on how to conduct oneself in an accepted way.
Two old types of wisdom stand out: One of them is practical and sensible if lived up to (or utilitarian), another is rather speculative and pessimistic. Both ways represent the old form of verbal artistry.
Deeply religious could suggest some deep-seated problems
Proficient standards are found in a collection of sayings attributed to Ptah-Hotep, the vizier to the Egyptian pharaoh about 2450 BC: the sage counsels his son that the path to material success is by way of proper etiquette, strict discipline, the ability to keep silence when necessary, and work. The maxims were written mainly for young men of well-to-do families [More]
Ptah-Hotep's sayings uphold obedience to a father and a superior as the highest virtue and show that many moral instructions can be largely materialistic and political and contribute to a well-ordered society. In ancient cultures in or around Mesopotamia both laws and proverbs served such ends. ◊
Some of the Old Testament psalms and a few other brief passages contain proverbs, mashals. Further, Bibical parables and allegories are rooted in proverbs. Some of them seem related to the ancient Egyptian Amenemope's collection of teachings on how to live "the Egyptian way", so to speak. The text appears to be the culmination of a long development of Egyptian wisdom literature.
To go for fair, practical wisdom and get accomplished later, is wise
Managing life well does not have to be anything sinister, and words of wisdom on how to make it throughout life, can be formed into such as pleasant and okay literary art.
The Hebrew word mashal is often translated as "proverb". In its simplest and oldest form is a couplet where a definition is given in two parallel lines related to each other in special ways: antithetical or synthetical. Here is an antithetic saying: "He who spurns his father's discipline is a fool, he who accepts correction is discreet."
The value of a helpful maxim or proverb is had by adjusting to it somehow, with no sad and harmful effects. In the introduction to the Bible's Book of Proverbs a father exhorts his son to acquire wisdom. Wisdom is more and better than phrases. But well-chosen phrases help too; there is no denying of that.
Behind many clumsy customs and non-frivolous nonsense there may be smart guys that go for profit - money, power and maybe sex too - as in cults.
Personal or individual striving and fairness has to be well rooted, but it is a sad thing that to the degree it is hard experiences that make wise, wisdom is had by erring and suffering, yet surviving long enough to sum up something gathered through hardships anyhow. "The wind in one's face makes one wise," is a British proverb along this line of thought.
The capacity to understand is needed too: Common laws depend on man's capacity to define and understand relevant sides to what is at stake somehow.
Ancient Hebrews found that wealth and status are very important, and got laws to cement that view, basically. Good health, long life, respect, possessions, security, self-control and having obedient slaves and a harem, are key motivators in the Old Testament.
In the Book of Proverbs God is largely conceived of as rather static, and consequently there is no appeal to divine mercy, intervention, or forgiveness there. The Book of Proverbs tell that wisdom is attainable by diligence and application that doesn't get out of hand.
Ancient wisdom literature of Egypt and neighbouring countries meant much to the cultural development of ancient Israel, a former slave people with rascal ancestors who soiled their old father's harem and reputation, attempted to murder one brother, and took to begging Egyptians for help later.
There are sectarians who fiddle and harp on commands of the Bible, commands that the Lord and many others appear to have forgotten and neglected. An example: It is instituted in Leviticus 16 as a "lasting ordinance" that two goats should save Israel regularly, yearly. Two goats were to take away all the sins of Israel. But somehow the practice was dropped. Hence, when Jesus sobbed to his "righteous Father" in Getsemaneh and preferred God not to sacrifice him for Jews, two peculiar facts arise: (1) God's plan did not work at all. Jesus had claimed he was to die to save Jews, but they rejected him wholesale. (2) A couple of goats would have been enough, states the Old Testament.
Bible proverbs appear in that "messy pool". We need to study the wider context of proverbial sayings too, for the context (setting) gives added meaning to the sayings ever so often, and help us understandand see through many things far better. The prayers of God the Son went unanswered by God the Father, despite several gospel words of Jesus that nothing is impossible to the one who has faith. Oh yeah?
SummaryIt is hard to learn from one's grave mistakes, if it happens at all. Diligence and fairness had better be wise.
Through poems or discourses a father is able to exhort sons to acquire the wisdom reaped from the hard experiences of others and benefit from them the sooner the better. Sensible education works along this vein too.
Fair and fit tutoring can be had by proverbs - that's one of the oldest lessons around
The oldest writings on earth seem to be Sumerian, and they include Sumerian proverbs.
Many biblical proverbs have parallels in ancient Greece.
Literate societies have collected proverbs in large numbers. The study of folklore in the 1900s has brought renewed interest in the proverb as a reflection of folk culture too. Good use of proverbs depends on skilled estimates of typical degrees of plausibility under special circumstances for each.
Many famous and known men in history have spoken daggers, so to speak. Not a few stabbing sayings have remained as common proverbs. Here is one: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." This British proverb is based on a quotation from The Mourning Bride by William Congreve (1670-1729). [Dp 262]
New proverbial concoctions can outflank older proverbs, and many old proverbs stop being used, because of changes in the language, for example. This has been the fate of many Swedish proverbs, for example. People today do not understand all of them any more. [Oo].
Many languages use rhyme, alliteration, and wordplay in their proverbs. Also, a proverb may appear to be twisted only to carry the central message through special mental barricades for it. Such fine devices manage to get understanding across despite solid, neurotic defences that are reflected in such as "None so deaf as those who will not hear."
Love the dear proverb like lyrical strains also
One of the earliest English proverb collections is Proverbs of Alfred, an early English poem of religious and moral precepts. It may have been composed in the late 1100s. In the poem there is a series of 35 sayings that contain proverbial instructions. The precepts fall into three groups. They are matters of (1) public interest; (2) personal conduct; (3) and parental advice to "my son so dear". [Baugh 153] Here are some thoughts in it:
Wealth without wisdom is of little value, "very worthless", and often cause of a man's undoing.
Very many Oriental proverbs make frequent use of hyperbole and colourful pictorial forms of expression according to light rules of couplets. Elegant sayings may become proverbs, and proverbs tend to form part of ethical codes of behaviour or half-norms.
Some proverbs relate to odds in life
In Europe and the West we stand on top of an old tradition, with many roots back to ancient Egypt from as early as 2500 BCE and Mesopotamia too, to name two ancient sources. In a culture or class several proverbs reflect a canon of common sense or hearsay, as the Proverbs of Alfred. Many such strands combine a whole lot. That is one reason why handed-over proverbs had better be sifted with a view to how plausible they are in this and that context, and whose interests they serve, mainly. There is also a need to consider how beneficial the underlying attitudes and norms are for democratic societies, against tyrannies, abuse, and being class-ridden, for example.
As for society's use of proverbs, in England in the 1500s a speech in proverbs was made in the House of Commons. The use of proverbs in literature and oratory was at its height in England in the 1500s and 1600s. ◊
Proverbs are extracts of life experiences. Similar extracts are found under different cultural conditions and in many different languages. As for the best-known collection of proverbs in North America, Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin, many of Franklin's sayings were traditional European proverbs reworked by him.
Proverbs were used in ancient China for ethical instruction, and the Vedic writings of India use them to expound philosophical ideas.
Baugh, Albert C., Kemp Malone, Donald Frederic Bond, George Wiley Sherburn, Samuel Claggett Chew, Richard Daniel Altick, A Literary History of England. 2nd ed. London: Taylor and Francis, 1967:153.
The full text: Skeat, Walter W. The Proverbs of Alfred. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907.
Dunn, Charles W., and Edward T. Byrnes. Middle English Literature. Ill ed. London: Routledge, 1990:40-48.
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