Mesopotamian Proverbs

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If it is your time, love will track you down like a cruise missile.
Lynda Barry
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Assyrian Proverbs

  • Tell me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.
  • Fear the goat from the front, the horse from the rear and man from all sides.
  • Life is unbearable, but death is not so pleasant either.
  • There is no shame in not knowing the shame lies in not finding out.
  • It is not the horse that draws the cart, but the oats.
  • A mere friend will agree with you, but a real friend will argue.
  • The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the scythe.
  • Za dvumya zaitsami pogonish'sya, ne odnogo ne poimaesh
    • If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.
  • He who doesn't risk never gets to drink wine.
  • The hammer shatters glass but forges steel.
  • Ask a lot, but take what is offered.
  • Love and eggs are best when they are fresh.
  • Gossip needs no carriage.
  • If you are a host to your guest, be a host to his dog also.
  • If you were born lucky, even your rooster will lay eggs.
  • If the thunder is not loud, the peasant forgets to cross himself.
  • The rich would have to eat money if the poor did not provide food.
  • You can not write in the chimney with charcoal.
  • I need not fear my enemies because the most they can do is attack me. I need not fear my friends because the most they can do is betray me. But I have much to fear from people who are indifferent.
  • The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.

Babylonian Proverbs

  • A hostile act you shall not perform, that fear of vengeance (?) shall not consume you.
  • You shall not do evil, that life (?) eternal you may obtain.
  • Does a woman conceive when a virgin, or grow great without eating?
  • If I put anything down it is snatched away; if I do more than is expected, who will repay me?
  • He has dug a well where no water is, he has raised a husk without kernel.
  • Does a marsh receive the price of its reeds, or fields the price of their vegetation?
  • The strong live by their own wages; the weak by the wages of their children.
  • He is altogether good, but he is clothed with darkness.
  • The face of a toiling ox you shall not strike with a goad.
  • My knees go, my feet are unwearied; but a fool has cut into my course.
  • His ass I am; I am harnessed to a mule — a wagon I draw, to seek reeds and fodder I go forth.
  • The life of day before yesterday has departed today.
  • If the husk is not right, the kernel is not right, it will not produce seed.
  • The tall grain thrives, but what do we understand of it? The meager grain thrives, but what do we understand of it?
  • The city whose weapons are not strong the enemy before its gates shall not be thrust through.
  • If you go and take the field of an enemy, the enemy will come and take your field.
  • Upon a glad heart oil is poured out of which no one knows.
  • Friendship is for the day of trouble, posterity for the future.
  • An ass in another city becomes its head.
  • Writing is the mother of eloquence and the father of artists.
  • Be gentle to your enemy as to an old oven.
  • The gift of the king is the nobility of the exalted; the gift of the king is the favor of governors.
  • Friendship in days of prosperity is servitude forever.
  • There is strife where servants are, slander where anointers anoint.
  • When you see the gain of the fear of god, exalt god and bless the king.