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Positive And Negative Human Types In The Egyptian Wisdom Literature

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Chapter Summary

A salient characteristic of the Egyptian wisdom literature is the division of mankind into opposite categories juxtaposed for the sake of illuminating and delineating them. Hence the antithetical pairs: the hot-tempered and the silent man, the wise man and the fool, and the pious and the wicked man. This chapter focuses on the silent versus the hot-tempered man. The silent man, a central theme in Egyptian wisdom literature, is first mentioned in the Instruction to Kagemni at the end of the third millennium BCE. The silent man is a symbol and example not only in the social framework but also on the religious sphere. Two terms (šmm, t?(w)) in Egyptian designate the hot-tempered man and both use an image of heat as illustration. The silent man is pious, his heart devoted to the god, while the heated man only makes a pretence of belief.

Keywords: Egyptian wisdom literature; hot-tempered man; silent man; third millennium BCE



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