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Jean Miélot, a European author and scribe at work

A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing.


  • At new year, on the day of rites, the lady libates water on the holy. [...] On the day when the bowls of rations are inspected, Nance also inspects the servants during the appointments. Her chief scribe Nisaba places the precious tablets on her knees and takes a golden stylus in her hand. She arranges the servants in single file for Nance and then it will be decided whether or not a leather-clad servant can enter before her in his leather, whether or not a linen-clad servant can pass before her in his linen. Any registered and [...] hired person about whom observers and witnesses claim to witness his fleeing from the house will be terminated in his position. [...] The king who always cares for the faithful servants, Haia, the man in charge of registration, registers on a tablet him who is said to be a faithful servant of his lady but deletes from the tablet her who is said not to be the maidservant of her lady.
  • Because, Renisenb, it is so easy and it costs so little labour to write down ten bushels of barley, or a hundred head of cattle, or ten fields of spelt - and the thing that is written will come to seem like the real thing, and so the writer and the scribe will come to despise the man who ploughs the fields and reaps the barley and raises the cattle - but all the same the fields and the cattle are real - they are not just marks of inks on papyrus. And when all the records and all the papyrus rolls are destroyed and the scribes are scattered, the men who toil and reap will go on, and Egypt will still live.
  • The wisdom of a scribe cometh by his time of leisure: and he that is less in action, shall receive wisdom.
  • The pencil that once freely traced the line
    Along the ruler’s straight and even side—
    The blade that shaped the reed-pen’s edges fine—
    The ruler too, the hand’s unswerving guide—
    The rugged pumice-stone, whose rasping kiss
    Sharpened the blunted reed-pen’s double lip—
    The sponge, uptorn from Neptune’s deep abyss,
    To cleanse the text from accidental slip—
    The desk of many cells, that did contain
    His ink, and all materials of his trade—
    The scribe to Hermes gives. After long strain,
    Palsied by age, his hand to rest is laid.

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