Thursday, April 28, 2011
Moments in history!
Ever wonder about our ancestors' early sense of manners?
Around 2500 B.C., "The Instructions of Ptahhotep" (sometimes called "The Maxims of Ptahhotep," or "The Precepts of Ptah-Hotep") was the Emily Post of the day - if Post had been grand vizier under the pharaoh Isesi, that is. There is some question as to when the wisdom of Ptahhotep (or Ptahhotpe or Ptah-Hotep) was recorded, and there are discrepancies between a papyrus version and texts of the instructions at the British Museum.
That said, the basic idea is clear: this is a collection of ancient advice given to young men who wanted to get ahead in life. Important topics include ignoring rumors, proper leadership, and taking the high road:
• "Do not repeat any extravagance of language; do not listen to it; it is a thing which has escaped from a hasty mouth. If it is repeated, look, without hearing it, toward the earth; say nothing in regard to it."
• "Inspire not men with fear. Let one provide sustenance for them in the lap of peace; it will then be that they will freely give what has been torn from them by terror."
• "If you are powerful, respect knowledge and calmness of language. Let not your heart be haughty, neither let it be mean."
• "If you desire that your conduct should be good and preserved from all evil, keep yourself from every attack of bad humor. When a man has established his just equilibrium and walks in this path, there where he makes his dwelling, there is no room for bad humor."
• "Grumble not over your own affairs."
• "Let your countenance be cheerful during the time of your existence."
Sometimes the best advice is old advice! More moments in etiquette history to come!