Undergraduate Honors Thesis II A- Definitions
Miriam Lichtheim identifies “didactic literature” as consisting of three types (1973:134). She describes the first as a father figure providing advice to his son, as in the case of The Instruction of Amenemhet I. The second refers to admonishing, or prophetic speech, usually given by some wise man or prophet, often in defense of the public good (Lichtheim 1973:134). Both The Eloquent Peasant and The Prophecies of Neferti fall into this category. The final classification is an argumentative dialogue between two individuals, as in the case of The Dispute between a Man and His Ba (Lichtheim 1973:134). With respect to “prose” tales, she recognizes that they “come from the sphere of the educated scribes and from the ambiance of the court” (1973:211), which means that they all reflect elite values. What distinguishes these tales from their didactic counterparts, however, is that they share similarities to modern folk tales. They often incorporate wondrous or fantastical events. They are tales that may be true or at least meant to be perceived as true (1973:211). For Lichtheim, “prose” tales are either biographical accounts or complete fiction.
Lichtheim, Miriam. 1973. Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol. I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.