Libraries

In the Life of Ancient Egypt

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Most of the literature that survives from ancient Egypt libraries is written in hieratic script.


Ancient Egypt Libraries



Little of it remains, and we are forced to estimate it from the fragments that do it only the blind justice of chance; perhaps time destroyed the Shakespeares of Egypt, and preserved only the poets laureate.

A great official of the Fourth Dynasty is called on his tomb "Scribe" of the House of Books, we cannot tell whether this primeval ancient egypt libraries were a repository of literature, or only a dusty storehouse of public records and documents.

The oldest extant Egyptian literature consists of the "Pyramid Texts" pious matter engraved on the walls in five pyramids of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties.

Ancient Egypt Libraries have come down to us from as far back as 2000 B.C.—papyri rolled and packed in jars, labeled, and ranged on shelves; in one such jar was found the oldest form of the story of Sinbad the Sailor, or, as we might rather call it, Robinson Crusoe.

"The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor" is a simple autobiographical fragment, full of life and feeling. "How glad is he," says this ancient mariner, in a line reminiscent of Dante, "that relateth what he hath ex-perienced when the calamity hath passed!"

I will relate to you something that was experienced by me, when I had set out for the mines of the Sovereign and had gone down to the sea in a ship of 180 feet in length and 60 feet in breadth; and therein were 120 sailors of the pick of Egypt.

    "They scanned the sky, they scanned the earth, and their hearts were more . . . than those of lions.

    They foretold a storm or ever it came, and a tempest when as yet it was not.

    A storm burst while we were yet at sea. . . . We flew before the wind and it made ... a wave eight cubits high. . . .

    Then the ship perished, and of them that were in it not one sur¬vived.

    And I was cast onto an island by a wave of the sea, and I spent three days alone with mine heart as my companion.

    I slept under the shelter of a tree, and embraced the shade. Then I stretched forth my feet in order to find out what I could put into my mouth.

    I found figs and vines there, and all manner of fine leeks. . . . There were fish there and fowl, and there was nothing that was not in it. . . .

    When I had made me a fire-drill I kindled a fire and made a burnt-offering for the gods."




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