In a series of posts I will take you way back to some of the earliest Egyptian philosophers and sages in antiquity who imparted their writings (mostly in hieroglyphic form), maxims and quotes displaying their wisdom and virtues that have stood the test of time.
First we will discover the wise maxims of Ptahhotep, sometimes known as Ptahhotpe or Ptah-Hotep, who was an ancient Egyptian official during the late 25th century BC and early 24th century BC.
I will then share with you the quotes of wisdom of Akhenaten, who scholars described as the most progressive of pharaohs, and who took Egypt one step ahead of its time.
Then we will focus on Hermes Trismegistus who was the eponymous author of the writings that were attributed to him. Hermes, who was suppose to be a contemporary of Moses, was also recognised as being the Greek god Hermes, and the Egyptian god Thoth.
Impact of Ancient Egypt on the World
As for the contributions towards humankind’s progress by some of the earliest known civilizations, it is fair to say that the modern world should be indebted for much of the knowledge it now possesses, most of which was derived from ancient Egypt and Greece.
However, there is much debate as to which of these two great intellectual centers of the ancient world were actually the true innovators of the following, vast, branches of knowledge:
- Esoteric knowledge and wisdom
Many of ancient Greece’s great thinkers are better known than their Egyptian counterparts, so much of the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom imparted to the world have, perhaps mistakenly, been attributed to the Greeks.
As the Mighty Thor would say, “I say thee nay!”
Why would this god of Norse Mythology say such a thing? Well, in more recent times many scholars, archaeologists and authors, who have done inexhaustible research on subject of ancient Egypt, have found that Greek Philosophy and knowledge was mostly the offspring of the Egyptian culture and thought.
Manly P. Hall, who was a knowledgeable mystic and did extensive research on the Egyptian mysteries, wrote in his magnum opus The Secret Teachings of All Ages,
The magnificent institutions of Hindu, Chaldean (Sumerian), and Egyptian learning must he recognized as the actual source of Greek wisdom. The last was patterned after the shadow cast by the sanctuaries of Ellora, Ur, and Memphis upon the thought substance of a primitive people. Thales, Pythagoras, and Plato in their philosophic wanderings contacted many distant cults and brought back the lore of Egypt and the inscrutable Orient.
Further evidence can be demonstrated by the building of the Pyramids over four thousand years ago, which required much of the knowledge already stated. This, perhaps, strengthens Egypt’s claims of being the true epicenter of ancient knowledge.
Another example that bolsters their case, is the story of philosopher, Pythagoras, who is usually christened with the grand title of being “The Father of Philosophy” – although he should, perhaps, give thanks to the Egyptian priests for his reputation and advanced knowledge of geometry and mathematics.
As was, again, written by Hall,
After having acquired all which it was possible for him to learn of the Greek philosophers and, presumably, become an initiate in the Eleusinian mysteries, he went to Egypt, and after many rebuffs and refusals, finally succeeded in securing initiation in the Mysteries of Isis, at the hands of the priests of Thebes.
As well as Pythagoras, Egyptian thought also had a huge influence on many other great scholars and philosophers of ancient Greece, such as the likes of:
As Dutch author, Wim van den Dungen, writes in the introduction to his essay The Impact of Ancient Egypt on Greek Philosophy,
The direct influence of Ancient Egyptian literature on Archaic Greece has never been fully acknowledged. Greek philosophy (in particular of the Classical Period) has -especially since the Renaissance- been understood as an excellent standard sprung out of the genius of the Greeks, the Greek miracle. Hellenocentrism was and still is a powerful view, underlining the intellectual superiority of the Greeks and hence of all cultures immediately linked with this Graeco-Roman heritage, such as (Alexandrian) Judaism, (Eastern) Christianity but also Islam (via Harran and the translators). Only recently, and thanks to the critical-historical approach, have scholars reconsidered Greek Antiquity, to discover the “other” side of the Greek spirit, with its popular Dionysian and elitist Orphic mysteries, mystical schools (Pythagoras), chorals, lyric poetric, drama, proze and tragedies.
Van Den Dungen further states,
Ancient Egyptian civilization was so grand, imposing and strong, that its impact on the Greeks was tremendous. In order to try to understand what happened when these two cultures met, we must first sketch the situation of both parties. This will allow us to make sound correspondences.
“Herodotus and other Greeks of the fifth century BC recognized that Egypt was different from other ‘barbarian’ countries. All people who did not speak Greek were considered barbarians, with features that the Greeks despised. They were either loathsome tyrants, devious magicians, or dull and effeminate pleasure-seeking individuals. But Egypt had more to offer ; like India, it was full of old and venerable wisdom.” ~ Matthews & Roemer, 2003, pp.11-12.
Read the essay in full: The Impact of Ancient Egypt on Greek Philosophy
So in conclusion, it’s clear to see that much respect and recognition must be given to Egypt, which was one of the jewels in the crown of the African continent.
Ancient Egypt has, indeed, influenced European thought, as well as provide the foundations for the world to advance in beneficial knowledge, spiritual awareness and ingenious technology.