Friday, 5 February 2016

Wisdom of a Pharaoh

I love this time of year. It's still summer. Everyone is back at work. The kids are back at school, as are their teachers, so the beaches are suddenly uncrowded. This weekend is an exception as New Zealanders observe Waitangi Day on Monday, a welcome respite from the return to routine. Oh, alright, I realise that you Northern Hemisphere types are still wrapped up against the cold and megadosing on Vitamin C, but that's half a world away from where I sit.

Of course, there are those who seem to feel they have to work every hour God gives them. To them comes this sage advice from the ancient scrolls. No, not the Bible, Herodotus. And not Herodotus himself, but Pharaoh Amasis II of Egypt who, according to Herodotus, was advised thusly by his counsellors:

"Sire, you are not conducting yourself properly by pursuing worthless pastimes. You ought to be seated solemnly upon your stately throne, transacting affairs of state throughout the day; that way, the Egyptians would know that they were being governed by a competent man, and your reputation would improve. But as it is, you are not acting at all like a king."

To which the pharaoh replied:

"When archers need to use their bows, they string them tightly, but when they have finished using them, they relax them. For if a bow remained tightly strung all the time, it would snap and be of no use when someone needed it. The same principle applies to the daily routine of a human being: if someone wants to work seriously all the time and not let himself ease off for his share of play, he will go insane without even knowing it, or at the least suffer a stroke. And it is because I recognize this maxim that I allot a share of my time to each aspect of life."

Though I wonder whether the lowly citizens of Egypt were blessed with the ability to follow this ancient endorsement of a balanced lifestyle, nonetheless it stands as great advice long centuries later.

Have a great weekend!

(A version of this posting appeared here in December 2011 under the title 'When Archers String Their Bows'.)


  1. Oh, sure, you people are upside-down and start the weekend first.

    As for respite, to sort of paraphrase the CGI guru / leader who wants to become erstwhile, we should observe the Sabbath to recharge our batteries, no matter which day it falls on. And going out and having fun should be a part of it.

    1. You mean GCI, right? CGI is Jamaica's Ian Boyne and the lads with HQ in Tyler. Nice folk, but not fans of Joey.

    2. Yes. I was working on graphics at the time. Is that called a Freudian Slip? I've heard of it, but did not know Sigmund wore women's clothes.