Satire of the Trades

    Tjaru (also called Duau Khety) wrote Satire of the Trades, also called The Instruction of Dua-Kheti, for his son Pepy sometime between 1950-1900 B.C.E. in early Dynasty 12 of the Middle Kingdom. This work extolled the virtues of being a scribe and put down other occupations, especially manual labor, with biting satire. The book was used throughout the New Kingdom to train scribes, who copied the pages to learn to write.

    The following passages are from the Middle Kingdom compilation Satire of the Trades, also called The Instruction of Dua-Kheti:

    “I have seen many beatings …
    Set your heart on books!
    I watched those recruited for labor —
    There’s nothing better than books!
    It’s like a boat on the water.
    Read the end of the Kemit Book,
    You’ll find this saying there:
    ‘A scribe at whatever post in town,
    He will not suffer in it;
    As he fills another’s need,
    he will not lack rewards’.”

    “They gave themselves the scroll as lector-priest,
    The writing-board as loving son.
    Instructions are their tombs,
    The reed pen is their child,
    The stone surface their wife.
    People great and small
    Are given them as children,
    For the scribe, he is their leader.”

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