The Satire of the Trades

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
19th Dynasty ostrakon inscribed with part of the Satire of the trades. Turin, Museo Egizio

The Satire of the Trades, also called The Instruction of Dua-Kheti, is a work of didactic ancient Egyptian literature.[1] It takes the form of an instruction, composed by a scribe from Sile named Dua-Kheti for his son Pepi. The author is thought by some to have composed the Instructions of Amenemhat as well.[2]


It describes a number of trades in an exaggeratedly negative light, extolling the advantages of the profession of scribe. It is generally considered to be a satire, though Helck thought it reflected the true attitude of the scribal class towards manual labourers.[3]

It was written during the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, between 2025 and 1700 BC. [4]

The text has survived in its entirety, but extremely corrupted, in the Sallier II Papyrus written during the Nineteenth Dynasty, which is kept at the British Museum. A number of fragments are kept at the British Museum, the Louvre, the Pierpont Morgan Library, and other institutions.[5] It was one of the texts most frequently copied by students during the Ramesside Period.

Use of the Satire in Ben Sira[edit]

This Egyptian tale is referenced by Ben Sira in the Deuterocanonical Book of Sirach at Sirach 38:24–39:11.[6]


  • M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, volume I, 1973, pp. 184-193
  • S. Quirke, Egyptian Literature 1800 BC, questions and readings, London 2004, pp. 121-126

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Katheryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge 1999, p.886
  2. ^ I. E. S. Edwards, N. G. L. Hammond, C. J. Gadd, The Cambridge Ancient History, Cambridge University Press 1975, p.527
  3. ^ W. Helck, Die Lehre des DwA-xtjj, Wiesbaden, 1970
  4. ^ "SAGE Knowledge - Home". Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  5. ^ Lichtheim, op.cit., pp.184f.
  6. ^ Rollston, Chris A. (April 2001). "Ben Sira 38:24–39:11 and The Egyptian Satire of the Trades". Journal of Biblical Literature. 120 (Spring): 131–139. doi:10.2307/3268597. JSTOR 3268597.