Sumerian Proverbs


Just thinking about Abraham while he was going from Ur to Haran, and then to Egypt. Did he tell stories at night, or did he have a collection of common proverbs?

You never tell me what you have found, you only tell me what you have lost.
Whoever has walked with truth generates life.
Wealth is hard to come by, but poverty is always at hand.
He acquires many things, he must keep close watch over them.
He who drinks too much beer must drink water.

He who eats too much will not be able to sleep.
The poor are the silent ones of the land..
A poor man does not strike his son a single blow; he treasures him forever.
“Give me!” is what the king says.
A dog which is played with turns into a puppy.

A fox trod on the hoof of a wild bull: “It didn’t hurt?”
A good word is a friend to numerous men.
A malicious wife living in the house is worse than all diseases..
A troubled mind makes you sick.
Accept your lot and make your mother happy.

After becoming a thief, one becomes an outcast.
An unjust heir who does not support a wife, who does not support a child, has no cause for celebration.
As long as you live you should not increase evil by telling lies.
Control the dog, but love the puppy!
Don’t pick things ahead of time; some bear fruit later.

For his pleasure he got married. On his thinking it over he got divorced.
From many oxen, is there no dung?
Good fortune [calls for] organisation and wisdom.
Having wives is human.
He who eats too much cannot sleep.

He who knows how to move around . . . will live longer than the sedentary man.
If the foreman does not know how to assign the work, his workers will not stop shaking their heads.
Ignoramuses are numerous in the palace.
When walking, Keep your feet on the ground!
Let the favour be repaid to him who repays a favour.

Life is largely better than death.
Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband’s embrace.
Strength cannot keep pace with intelligence.
That the dog understands “Take it!”, does not mean he also understands “Put it down!”
The donkey, after he had thrown off his packs, said: “Now I can forget the burdens of former days!”

The elephant spoke to himself: “There is nothing like me!” The wren answered him: But I, in my own small way, was created just as you were!”
The honest man will earn his pay.
The lion had caught a helpless she-goat: “Let me go! I will give you my fellow ewe in return!” – When the lion came to the fold, she answered him from the other side: No sheep live here!
The man whose feet are deformed accepts shoes.

The man with a troubled heart is sick.
The mother who has given birth to eight young men lies down exhausted.
The owner of a house should reinforce the windows against burglars.
The poor man chews whatever he is given.
The poor man must always look to his next meal.

The sheep-shearer is himself dressed in dirty rags..
The terrifying wild bull can do what pleases himself first and foremost
There is no baked cake in the middle of the dough.
There will be a prominent place for a capable scribe.
Things may be traded in the city but it is the fisherman who brings in the food supply.
Those who get excited should not become foremen.
To be sick is acceptable; to be pregnant is painful; but to be pregnant and sick is just too much.

ùkur-re a-na-àm mu-un-tur-re
é-na4-kín-na gú-im-šu-rin-na-kam
túg-biro-a-ni nu-kal-la-ge-[da]m
níg-ú-gu-dé-a-ni nu-kin-kin-d[a]m

How lowly is the poor man!
A mill (for him) (is) the edge of the oven;
His ripped garment will not be mended;
What he has lost will not be sought for!

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