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In the Footsteps of the Sages


One of the best books written expressing the true wisdom of Ancient Egypt.


A must buy 

The Author    Three       Four         Eleven

these are just some extracts from THE LIVING WISDOM OF ANCIENT EGYPT

More relevant today than ever, CHRISTIAN JACQ’s The Living Wisdom of Ancient Egypt brings a message of peace and harmony from the most ancient wisdom of the world.

‘He who understands reality, myths and rituals’ is how the Egyptian sage portrays himself: he whose entire existence rests on knowledge, and not belief.  Accomplishing what is right, finding virtue in everything, never evading responsibility, and respecting what is worthy – these are just some of the true sage’s daily tasks.

It is because Egyptian civilisation knew how to mould people of this quality that it has successfully conquered the ravages of time, of barbarism, of hostile invasions and destruction.  Despite the troubles and hardships this people faced, their underlying wisdom continues even now to shine through, to touch our lives in many significant ways.  And it is undoubtedly this wisdom that is the true secret and legacy of the Ancient Egyptians.

CHRISTIAN JACQ, a passionate Egyptologist and the author of the best-selling Ramses series of novels has selected the finest examples of Egyptian wisdom ranging from the sayings of famous Pharaohs to anonymous scribes and inscriptions touching on both everyday and religious matters.  This irresistible book invites us to explore the eternal mysteries of Ancient Egypt, and to discover there the roots of our own beliefs and the peace and inner harmony we need to face the stresses of our modern world.

Also by Christian Jacq and available from Simon & Schuster

The Son of the Light

The Temple of a Million Years

The Battle of Kadesh

The Lady of Abu Simbel

Under the Western Acacia



Pharaonic Egypt was the country of sages. For more than three thousand years they concerned themselves with the search for spiritual fulfillment through the practice of wisdom which was incarnated in a Goddess, Maat.

Maat is righteousness, right, truth, justness and justice, the immutable law of the universe, coherence and solidarity. She is diametrically opposed to Isefet, chaos, disorder, letting things slide, evil in all its forms. The Sages of Egypt aimed to open up the spirit and heart with their teachings, making them worthy receptacles for Maat.

Maat is symbolized also as the flight feather of a bird, as the plinth on which rest statues that have been brought to life by rites, and as the rudder which enables Justice to cross the river of existence and land on the banks of eternity.

The term ‘Sebayt’ or ‘Teaching’ is formed from the root ‘Seba’, whose other meanings are ‘Door’ and ‘Star’. Now, these texts really can be seen as doors that open on to the fundamental elements of wisdom and the stars which are destined to guide us on the road of life.

Conquering ignorance is essential. Nobody is born wise and a person has to make serious efforts to develop the qualities needed to be able to ‘Speak and achieve Maat’ without falling into the twin traps of vanity and greed. Every day the ears, or ‘the living’, have to be made to listen to words of wisdom; if the teaching is properly understood then righteousness will become a reality. Just acts, conforming to the precepts of Maat, are born out of this understanding. A deed done without egotism is a useful, shining example to others, providing it obeys the golden rule: to act for he who acts.

‘The one who knows reality, the myths and the rituals’ is how the Egyptian sage portrays himself, a vigilant heart and a plain tongue, capable of satisfying God and the gods because his entire existence rests on knowledge and not on belief. An adept of calm and of silence, he distances himself from the rash, the gossip and the envious. Accomplishing what is right, finding virtue in everything, never evading responsibility, respecting what is worthy, these are just some of the sage’s daily duties.

It is because Egyptian civilization knew how to mould people of this quality that it has conquered time, barbarism, invaders and destructive frenzy. Despite these troubles, this wisdom continues to shine and it can touch our lives. And it is undoubtedly this wisdom that is the true secret of the Ancient Egyptians.

What do we know about the sages, the authors of these teachings? Among them are the Pharaohs like Amenemhet I who wrote a spiritual testament for his successor Sesostris I to share his experiences and to give him guidance on the art of governing with wisdom. Before him another king had done the same for the future Pharaoh Merikare. It is quite probable that many rulers drew up this type of document but their works have been lost. Perhaps they lie there still, sleeping under the sands.

Hor-Djedef, the son of the Pharaoh Cheops, the famous builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza, has left us a ‘teaching’ which has given him a reputation for wisdom, an indispensable attribute for one of the king’s councilors. The viziers who were appointed by Pharaoh to put into practice the virtues of Maat in society, were also the authors of teachings, such as Ptah-Hotep, whose words have been miraculously preserved on a single sheet of papyrus. It was at the age of 110, traditionally attributed to the sages, that this vizier of the sixth dynasty judged it time to put down his experiences on paper to preserve them for future generations. And the first known ‘teaching’, of which only the beginning has survived, was addressed to Kagemni, the vizier of the Pharaohs Huni and Senefru, the founder of the Ivth dynasty. It is likely that Imhotep, the genial builder of the step pyramids at Saqqara, wrote down precepts which are still to be discovered, as is his tomb.

Other sages, like Ipu-Or are prophets: they predicted the catastrophes which await if the Rule of Maat is not respected. In the chaos and misfortune only one solution will lead us back to harmony: the rediscovery of wisdom.

In the New Empire, the time of the splendor of Karnak and the Valley of the Kings, two figures stand out: Ani, a medium-ranking civil servant who wrote a ‘teaching’ directed at his spiritual son, and Amenemope, a scribe of Thoth who supervised the land registry and the weights and measures. Like Ptah-Hotep, their works were widely distributed and certain passages of the Book of Proverbs were inspired by Amenemope.

Hardly any anecdotes about the sages exist and we have to wait for the dying embers of Egyptian civilization and the ‘Teaching of Ankh-Sheshonk’ to learn that the latter completed his work in prison. The sage had discovered a plot against the Kind but had not informed anyone because his best friend was involved. But at least we know that he was not just some edifying legend: even in prison the sage thought only of transmitting his teaching.

In this anthology we are not limited to just the ‘Teachings’, since the Texts of the Pyramids, the Texts of the Sarcophagi, the Book of the Dead, the writings engraved on the walls of the temples and Stelae, the stories in the Tale of the Oases and other documents provide us with sayings of great diversity. Out of this great wealth of writings we have made a choice favoring those precepts whose authenticity we can, with a high degree of certainty, feel to be established. It is important to realize that these texts are often extremely difficult and that many of these passages still pose insoluble problems. Excavations should not only be limited to monuments; wonderful discoveries lie in store for those researchers who explore the many forms of Egyptian literature.

This book aims to be a guide or a path through the landscape of Egyptian thought and it proves, if proof be needed, that the awesome voice of the Sages of Ancient Egypt still lives on. This voice still speaks to us with astonishing vigor and provides answers to fundamental questions. Surely the question they pose is valid today: what could possibly be more important and more urgent than the quest for wisdom?




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