Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom
Today, I’m sharing with you some of my favourite proverbs from Egypt, translated from Arabic. What I love about the proverbs of my home country is that they often embody the keen Egyptian sense of humour, conjuring up colourful and vivid imagery.
You’ll find the following proverbs quoted in my novel Song of the Nile.
Keep away from trouble and sing to it.
He who has been scalded by soup, blows on yoghurt.
Envy is the companion of great success.
Beware of him to whom you have been charitable.
What is written on the brow will inevitably be seen by the eye. (Meaning: that which is destined to be will be fulfilled.)
A house without a woman is like a graveyard.
He who sows the wind harvests the storm.
Song of the Nile: available to buy now
Not everything with a crooked neck is a camel.
There is none more blind than he who doesn’t want to see.
Rather be touched by fire than by dishonour.
The man who is in the right has both stature and the last word.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Through its buzzing, a wasp only ends up bringing about the destruction of its own nest.
Other proverbs with which I grew up and which come often to mind include:
The monkey is as beautiful as a gazelle in his mother’s eyes.
If you marry the monkey for his money, the money will go and you’ll be left with the monkey.
Carvings at Medinet Habu, Luxor
If your sweetheart is made of honey, don’t lap it all up. (Meaning: don’t take advantage of kindness.)
Lying has no legs. (Meaning: if you lie, you will be found out.)
A boat with two captains will sink.
Silence is the best answer to the stupid.
Many Egyptian proverbs originated in ancient times and are found in inscriptions in the temple at Luxor. I find the following to be especially profound:
Man, know yourself… and you shalt know the gods.
The best and shortest road towards knowledge of truth is nature.
If you search for the laws of harmony, you will find knowledge.
Seek peacefully, you will find.
Temple of Luxor
And finally, my favourite Egyptian proverb of them all:
A beautiful thing is never perfect.
As I see it, it is the imperfections that make the beauty.