Selected Classics: Introduction
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In this archive section are several classics of antiquity. Some of them show how deep humanism goes, with roots in ancient Egypt even thousands of years before Buddha, for example. The stands of old Persia contains its gems too, and so on.
On the next page and the page after that again, are ancient Egyptian Sayings. They are followed by the intriguing Papyrus of Ani, also called the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
After that comes a Hellenistic work about Jason and his crew. The text is called Argonautica.
Next are two ancient Greek works ascribed to Homer: The Iliad and the Odyssey.
These are followed by all of what Plato has written about Atlantis in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias.
Zoroaster hymns, gathas, are next. They are followed by some teachings of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism too has influenced the West, but hardly directly.
A little information about the ancient culture hero Heracles rounds off the section.
The reputation which the world bestows
Some Means of Regulating Lives
Culture is maintained and transmitted by help of stories, as Jerome Bruner says.
European culture owns much to ancient Greeks, and behind many of their contributions are glimpses of ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians were not so much concerned with the after-life and death in their everyday life as remains may give the impression of; their customs-regulated lives had room for artistic outlets, regulated celebrations and the good life for some. [Ags]
Famous texts from pyramids, lime-stone coffins, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead deal with the after-life, but also the art of living, of moral living. There are many depictions of the vivid, old life in pyramid chambers and on sarcophaguses too. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says,
Practical wisdom consisted chiefly of wise sayings that appealed to experience and offered prudential guidelines for a successful and happy life. Such wisdom is found in a collection of sayings bearing the name of Ptahhotep, a vizier to the Egyptian pharaoh about 2450 BCE, in which the sage counsels his son that the path to material success is by way of proper etiquette, strict discipline, and hard work. Although such instructions were largely materialistic and political, they were moral in character and contributed to a well-ordered society. [Ebu, "Proverbs"] [LINK]
The Book of Proverbs in the Bible contains seven collections of wise, short sayings from after Solomon's time. The third collection (22:17-24:22) has a close affinity to the Egyptian "Wisdom of Amenemope", from between the 900s and 500s BC. The likeness suggests that wisdom literature of Egypt was imported by smaller neighbours. [Ebu, "Proverbs, the"]
Culture is far more than stories and brief sayings. Customs, forms of buildings and gardens and towns, and tools are parts of it too, among many other things. For example, see something of what has surfaced about ancient Egyptian gardening and living: [LINK]
Some of the hugely culture-influential fables, known as fables of Aesop, stem from Africa too, show Olivia and Robert Temple. [Cs]
Ags: Lurker, Manfred. Ægyptiske guder og symboler. Copenhagen: Politiken, 1994.
Cs: Aesop. The Complete Fables. Translated by Olivia and Robert Temple. London: Penguin, 1998.
Soe: Hichens, Robert. The Spell of Egypt. New York: The Century Co., 1911.
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