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Ancient Egyptian literature

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Inscribed hieroglyphics cover an obelisk in foreground. A stone statue is in background.
Egyptian hieroglyphs with cartouches for the name "Ramesses II", from the Luxor Temple, New Kingdom
新王国卢克索神庙出土的带有 "拉美西斯二世 "刻痕的埃及象形文字

Ancient Egyptian literature was written with the Egyptian language from ancient Egypt's pharaonic period until the end of Roman domination. It represents the oldest corpus of Egyptian literature. Along with Sumerian literature, it is considered the world's earliest literature.[1]
古埃及文学是自古埃及法老时期至罗马统治结束期间用埃及语言写成的。它代表了最古老的埃及文学。它与苏美尔文学一起被认为是世界上最早的文学。 [1]

Writing in ancient Egypt—both hieroglyphic and hieratic—first appeared in the late 4th millennium BC during the late phase of predynastic Egypt. By the Old Kingdom (26th century BC to 22nd century BC), literary works included funerary texts, epistles and letters, hymns and poems, and commemorative autobiographical texts recounting the careers of prominent administrative officials. It was not until the early Middle Kingdom (21st century BC to 17th century BC) that a narrative Egyptian literature was created. This was a "media revolution" which, according to Richard B. Parkinson, was the result of the rise of an intellectual class of scribes, new cultural sensibilities about individuality, unprecedented levels of literacy, and mainstream access to written materials.[2] The creation of literature was thus an elite exercise, monopolized by a scribal class attached to government offices and the royal court of the ruling pharaoh. However, there is no full consensus among modern scholars concerning the dependence of ancient Egyptian literature on the sociopolitical order of the royal courts.
古埃及的文字--象形文字和象形文字--最早出现在公元前 4 世纪晚期的前王朝埃及晚期。到了古王国时期(公元前 26 世纪至公元前 22 世纪),文学作品包括殡葬文本、书信、赞美诗和诗歌,以及记述著名行政官员职业生涯的纪念性自传文本。直到中王国早期(公元前 21 世纪至公元前 17 世纪),埃及叙事文学才得以产生。理查德-B-帕金森(Richard B. Parkinson)认为,这是一场 "媒体革命",是知识分子文士阶层崛起、新的个性文化意识、前所未有的识字率以及主流社会获取书面材料的结果。 [2] 因此,文学创作是一项精英活动,由隶属于政府办公室和法老王宫廷的文士阶层垄断。然而,对于古埃及文学对王室社会政治秩序的依赖性,现代学者并没有达成完全一致的看法。

Middle Egyptian, the spoken language of the Middle Kingdom, became a classical language during the New Kingdom (16th century BC to 11th century BC), when the vernacular language known as Late Egyptian first appeared in writing. Scribes of the New Kingdom canonized and copied many literary texts written in Middle Egyptian, which remained the language used for oral readings of sacred hieroglyphic texts. Some genres of Middle Kingdom literature, such as "teachings" and fictional tales, remained popular in the New Kingdom, although the genre of prophetic texts was not revived until the Ptolemaic period (4th century BC to 1st century BC). Popular tales included the Story of Sinuhe and The Eloquent Peasant, while important teaching texts include the Instructions of Amenemhat and The Loyalist Teaching. By the New Kingdom period, the writing of commemorative graffiti on sacred temple and tomb walls flourished as a unique genre of literature, yet it employed formulaic phrases similar to other genres. The acknowledgment of rightful authorship remained important only in a few genres, while texts of the "teaching" genre were pseudonymous and falsely attributed to prominent historical figures.
中古埃及语是中王国的口语,在新王国时期(公元前 16 世纪至公元前 11 世纪)成为一种经典语言,当时被称为晚期埃及语的白话首次出现在文字中。新王国的文士们将许多用中古埃及语书写的文学作品封为圣书并加以复制,中古埃及语仍然是口头朗读神圣象形文字时使用的语言。中王国文学的一些体裁,如 "教诲 "和虚构故事,在新王国仍然很流行,尽管预言文体直到托勒密时期(公元前 4 世纪至公元前 1 世纪)才得以恢复。脍炙人口的故事包括《西努赫的故事》和《能言善辩的农民》,而重要的教诲文本则包括《阿门内哈特的指示》和《忠诚者的教诲》。到了新王国时期,在神庙和陵墓墙壁上书写纪念性涂鸦作为一种独特的文学体裁得到了蓬勃发展,但它所使用的公式化短语与其他体裁相似。只有在少数体裁中,对合法作者的承认仍然很重要,而 "教诲 "体裁的文章则是假名,并假借历史名人之名。

Ancient Egyptian literature has been preserved on a wide variety of media. This includes papyrus scrolls and packets, limestone or ceramic ostraca, wooden writing boards, monumental stone edifices and coffins. Texts preserved and unearthed by modern archaeologists represent a small fraction of ancient Egyptian literary material. The area of the floodplain of the Nile is under-represented because the moist environment is unsuitable for the preservation of papyri and ink inscriptions. On the other hand, hidden caches of literature, buried for thousands of years, have been discovered in settlements on the dry desert margins of Egyptian civilization.

Scripts, media, and languages

Hieroglyphs, hieratic, and Demotic

A flat limestone block with a painted, carved raised-relief of woman in spotted linen cloth, seated near table with food items. Painted hieroglyphs decorate the rest of the surface.
The slab stela of the Old Kingdom Egyptian princess Neferetiabet (dated c. 2590–2565 BC), from her tomb at Giza, with hieroglyphs carved and painted on limestone[3]
旧王国时期埃及公主奈菲尔提贝特(Neferetiabet)的石板石碑(年代约为公元前 2590-2565 年),出自她在吉萨的陵墓,石灰石上雕刻和绘有象形文字 [3] .

By the Early Dynastic Period in the late 4th millennium BC, Egyptian hieroglyphs and their cursive form hieratic were well-established written scripts.[4] Egyptian hieroglyphs are small artistic pictures of natural objects.[5] For example, the hieroglyph for door-bolt, pronounced se, produced the s sound; combined with another or multiple hieroglyphs, one could thus spell out the sound of words for more abstract concepts like sorrow, happiness, beauty, and evil.[6] The Narmer Palette, dated c. 3100 BC during the last phase of Predynastic Egypt, combines the hieroglyphs for catfish and chisel to produce the name of King Narmer.[7]
到公元前四千年晚期的早期王朝时期,埃及象形文字及其草书形式象形文字已成为成熟的书面文字。 [4] 埃及象形文字是自然物体的小型艺术图画。 [5] 例如,"门闩 "的象形文字读作 se,会发出 s 的声音;与另一个或多个象形文字结合,就可以拼出表示悲伤、幸福、美丽和邪恶等更抽象概念的单词的声音。 [6] 纳尔默调色板(Narmer Palette)的年代约为公元前 3100 年,是埃及前王朝的最后一个阶段,它将鲶鱼和凿子的象形文字组合在一起,产生了纳尔默国王的名字。 [7]

The Egyptians called their hieroglyphs "words of god" and reserved their use for exalted purposes, such as communicating with divinities and spirits of the dead through funerary texts.[8] Each hieroglyphic word represented both a specific object and embodied the essence of that object, recognizing it as divinely made and belonging within the greater cosmos.[9] Through acts of priestly ritual, like burning incense, the priest allowed spirits and deities to read the hieroglyphs decorating the surfaces of temples.[10] In funerary texts beginning in and following the Twelfth Dynasty, the Egyptians believed that disfiguring, and even omitting certain hieroglyphs, brought consequences, either good or bad, for a deceased tomb occupant whose spirit relied on the texts as a source of nourishment in the afterlife.[11] Mutilating the hieroglyph of a venomous snake, or other dangerous animal, removed a potential threat.[11] However, removing every instance of the hieroglyphs representing a deceased person's name would deprive his or her soul of the ability to read the funerary texts and condemn that soul to an inanimate existence.[11]
埃及人称他们的象形文字为 "神的文字",并将其用于崇高的目的,例如通过殡葬文字与神灵和亡灵沟通。 [8] 每个象形文字既代表一个特定的物体,又体现了该物体的本质,承认它是神造的,属于大宇宙的一部分。 [9] 通过祭司仪式(如焚香),祭司可以让神灵读懂装饰在神庙表面的象形文字。 [10] 从第十二王朝开始,埃及人认为,在墓葬文字中毁容,甚至省略某些象形文字,都会给已故的墓主人带来或好或坏的后果,而墓主人的灵魂则依赖这些文字作为来世的养料。 [11] 篡改毒蛇或其他危险动物的象形文字可以消除潜在的威胁。 [11] 但是,如果把代表死者姓名的象形文字全部去掉,就会使死者的灵魂失去阅读墓葬文字的能力,并使其灵魂注定要无生命地存在。 [11]

A faded document with cursive hieratic handwriting in black ink, slightly torn and fragmented on the right
Abbott Papyrus, a record written in hieratic script; it describes an inspection of royal tombs in the Theban Necropolis and is dated to the 16th regnal year of Ramesses IX, c. 1110 BC.
阿伯特纸莎草纸(Abbott Papyrus)是用象形文字书写的记录;它描述了对底比斯墓葬群中王室陵墓的检查,年代为拉美西斯九世的第 16 个王位年,约公元前 1110 年。

Hieratic is a simplified, cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphs.[12] Like hieroglyphs, hieratic was used in sacred and religious texts. By the 1st millennium BC, calligraphic hieratic became the script predominantly used in funerary papyri and temple rolls.[13] Whereas the writing of hieroglyphs required the utmost precision and care, cursive hieratic could be written much more quickly and was therefore more practical for scribal record-keeping.[14] Its primary purpose was to serve as a shorthand script for non-royal, non-monumental, and less formal writings such as private letters, legal documents, poems, tax records, medical texts, mathematical treatises, and instructional guides.[15] Hieratic could be written in two different styles; one was more calligraphic and usually reserved for government records and literary manuscripts, the other was used for informal accounts and letters.[16]
象形文字是埃及象形文字的一种简化草书形式。 [12] 与象形文字一样,象形文字也用于神圣和宗教文本。到公元前一千年,书法象形文字成为主要用于墓葬纸莎草纸和神庙卷轴的文字。 [13] 象形文字的书写需要极高的精确度和细心,而草书象形文字的书写速度更快,因此更适合文士记录。 [14] 它的主要用途是作为一种速记文字,用于非王室、非纪念性和不太正式的写作,如私人信件、法律文件、诗歌、税务记录、医学文本、数学论文和教学指南。 [15] 象形文字有两种不同的书写风格:一种是书法风格,通常用于政府记录和文学手稿;另一种用于非正式账目和信件。 [16]

By the mid-1st millennium BC, hieroglyphs and hieratic were still used for royal, monumental, religious, and funerary writings, while a new, even more cursive script was used for informal, day-to-day writing: Demotic.[13] The final script adopted by the ancient Egyptians was the Coptic alphabet, a revised version of the Greek alphabet.[17] Coptic became the standard in the 4th century AD when Christianity became the state religion throughout the Roman Empire; hieroglyphs were discarded as idolatrous images of a pagan tradition, unfit for writing the Biblical canon.[17]
到公元前一千年中期,象形文字和象形文字仍被用于皇家、纪念碑、宗教和殡葬方面的书写,而一种新的、更加草书的文字则被用于非正式的日常书写:德莫提克文。 [13] 古埃及人最终采用的文字是科普特字母,它是希腊字母的修订版。 [17] 公元 4 世纪,当基督教成为整个罗马帝国的国教时,科普特字母成为标准文字;象形文字被视为异教传统的偶像崇拜图像,不适合书写《圣经》。 [17]