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43 Pieces of Advice From an Ancient Egyptian Vizier to His Son

The Maxims of Ptahhotep (circa 2350 BC)

Around the year 2350 BC, a man named Ptahhotep was vizier to the pharaoh of ancient Egypt. The vizier was the highest ranking official in ancient Egyptian “government”, and usually the right-hand man of the pharaoh. Ptahhotep was therefore a successful man, entrusted by his king to bear a big part of the burden of running the country.
Even almost 4500 years ago, Egyptian society was already sophisticated enough to have built the great pyramids of Giza. The government was busy. They were implementing large-scale architectural projects, they were administering the country’s judicial system, they were ensuring adequate supply of food and water to its cities, and they were collecting taxes from Egypt’s citizens to keep the whole thing funded. It was a complex operation, and if the pharaoh appointed Ptahhotep to be the head of the organisation, it meant that he was probably an individual who knew what to do and how to get it done.