lunes, 22 de febrero de 2010

ASIGNATURA OPTATIVA: La vida de Ahikar, gran visir de Asiria

Nota: La Vida de Ahikar, gran vizir de Asiria, es un cuento popular oriental, conocido desde antes del s. V aC. Lo que cuenta, la construcción de un edificio en los aires, se asemeja a lo que se narra en la legendaria vida del fabulista griego Esopo (una figura que nunca existió cuyas hazañas aparecen en otro cuento oriental), y está en relación con la vida y los actos de Tomás, el patrón de los arquitectos.

En efecto, la vida de Esopo está modelada a partir de cuentos orientales, entre los que destaca la Vida de Ahikar.
La historia es muy parecida. Ahikar es un personaje astuto e ingenoso, capaz de solventar cualquier problema. Su presencia en la corte del rey de Asiria es fundamental. Nadie osa atacar al reino ya que Ahikar logra siempre sortear los peligros.
Sin embargo, no habiendo tenido hijos, y habiendo adoptado a su sobrino Nadan, es acusado falsamente por éste ante el rey, para quedarse con su fortuna y su puesto (azuzado por su madre, la hermana de Ahikar).
Justo en el momento en que es arrestado, el rey de Egipto, habiendo tenido noticia de la caída en desgracia del astuto vizir, declara una guerra peculiar, una guerra de acertijos al rey de Asiria, planteándole que quien solvente el problema (y demuestre ser el más inteligente) se quedará con el reino del perdedor.
Es en este momento cuando el rey de Asiria, mudo ante el reto e incapaz de afrontarlo, se da cuenta de su error...
¿Cuál es el acertijo? ¿Cómo se podría solventar -si se pudiera?

The Story of Ahikar, Grand Vizier of Assyria

Ahikar (uh-hee-KAR) Aramaic papyrus of 500 B. C. in the ruins of Elephantine - the Jewish temple in Egypt.


"The Riddles of the Sphinx." What really happened to Ahikar, His return.

A nd when the king of Egypt had made sure that Haiqar was slain, he arose straightway and wrote a letter to king Sennacherib, reminding him in it 'of the peace and the health and the might and the honour which we wish specially for thee, my beloved brother, king Sennacherib.
2 I have been desiring to build a castle between the heaven and the earth, and I want thee to send me a wise, clever man from thyself to build it for me, and to answer me all my questions, and that I may have the taxes and the custom duties of Asyria for three years.'
3 Then he sealed the letter and sent it to Sennacherib.
4 He took it and read it and gave it to his viziers and to the nobles of his kingdom, and they were perplexed and ashamed, and he was wroth with a great wrath, and was puzzled about how he should act.
5 Then he assembled the old men and the learned men and the wise men and the philosophers, and the diviners and the astrologers, and every one who was in his country, and read them the letter and said to them, Who amongst you will go to Pharaoh king of Egypt and answer him his questions?'
6 And they said to him, '0 our lord the king! know thou that there is none in thy kingdom who is acquainted with these questions except Haiqar, thy vizier and secretary.
7 But as for us, we have no skill in this, unless it be Nadan, his sister's son for he taught him all his wisdom and learning and knowledge. Call him to thee, perchance he may untie this hard knot.'
8 Then the king called Nadan and said to him, 'Look at this letter and understand what is in it.' And when Nadan read it, he said, '0 my lord! who is able to build a castle between the heaven and the earth?'
9 And when the king heard the speech of Nadan he sorrowed with a great and sore sorrow, snd stepped down from his throne and sat in the ashes, and began to weep and wail over Haiqar
10 Saying, '0 my grief! 0 Haiqar, who didst know the secrets and the riddles! woe is me for thee, 0 Haiqar! 0 teacher of my country and ruler of my kingdom, where shall I find thy like? 0 Haiqar, 0 teacher of my country, where shall I turn for thee? woe is me for thee! how did I destroy thee! and I listened to the talk of a stupid, ignorant boy without knowledge, without religion, without manliness.
11 Ah! and again Ah for myself! who can give thee to me just for once, or bring me word that Haiqar is alive? and I would give him the half of my kingdom.
12 Whence is this to me? Ah, Haiqar! that I might see thee just for once, that I might take my fill of gazing at thee, and delighting in thee.
13 Ah! 0 my grief for thee to all time! 0 Haiqar, how have I killed thee! and I tarried not in thy case till I had seen the end of the matter.'
14 And the king went on weeping night and day. Now when the swordsman saw the wrath of the king and his sorrow for Haiqar, his heart was softened towards him, and he approached into his presence and said to him:
15 '0 my lord! command thy servants to cut off my head.' Then said the king to him: 'Woe to thee, Abu Samik, 'what is thy fault?'
16 And the swordsman said unto him, '0 my master! every slave who acts contrary to the word of his master is killed, and I have acted contrary to thy command.'
17 Then the king said unto him. 'Woe unto thee, 0 Abu Samik, in what hast thou acted contrary to my command?'
18 And the swordsman said unto him, '0 my lord! thou didst command me to kill Haiqar, and I knew that thou wouldst repent thee concerning him, and that he had been wronged, and I hid him in a certain place, and I killed one of his slaves, and he is now safe in the cistern, and if thou command me I will bring him to thee.'
19 And the king said unto him. 'Woe to thee, 0 Abu Samik! thou hast mocked me and I am thy lord.'
20 And the swordsman said Unto him, 'Nay, but by the life of thy head, 0 my lord! Haiqar safe and alive.'
21 And when the king heard that saying, he felt sure of the matter, and his head swam, and he fainted from joy, and he commanded them to bring Haiqar.
22 And he said to the swordsman, '0 trusty servant! if thy speech be true, I would fain enrich thee, and exalt thy dignity above that of all thy friends.'
23 And the swordsman went along rejoicing till he came to Haiqar's house. And he opened the door of the hiding-place, and went down and found Haiqar sitting, praising God, and thanking Him.
24 And he shouted to him, saying, '0 Haiqar, I bring the greatest of joy, and happiness, and delight!'
25 And Haiqar said to him, 'What is the news, 0 Abu Samik?' And he told him all about Pharaoh from the beginning to the end. Then he took him and went to the king.
26 And when the king looked at him, he saw him in a state of want, and that his hair had grown long like the wild beasts' and his nails like the claws of an eagle, and that his body was dirty with dust, and the colour of his face had changed and faded and was now like ashes.
27 And when the king saw him he sorrowed over him and rose at once and embraced him and kissed him, and wept over him and said: 'Praise be to God! who hath brought thee back to me.'
28 Then he consoled him and comforted him. And he stripped off his robe, and put it on the swordsman, and was very gracious to him, and gave him great wealth, and made Haiqar rest.
29 Then said Haiqar to the king, 'Let my lord the king live for ever! These be the deeds of the children of the world. I have reared me a palm - tree that I might lean on it, and it bent sideways, and threw me down.
30 But, 0 my lord! since I have appeared before thee, let not care oppress thee.' And the king said to him: 'Blessed be God, who showed thee mercy, and knew that thou wast wronged, and saved thee and delivered thee from being slain.
31 But go to the warm bath, and shave thy head, and cut thy nails, and change thy clothes and amuse thyselffor the space of forty days, that thou mayst do good to thyself and improve thy condition and the colour of thy face may come back to thee.
32 Then the king stripped off his costly robe, and put it on Haiqar, and Haiqar thanked God and did obeisanceto the king, and departed to his dwelling glad and happy, praising the Most High God.
33 And the people of his household rejoiced with him, and his friends and every one who heard that he was alive rejoiced also.


The letter of the "riddles" is shown to Ahikar. The boys on the eagles. The first "airplane" ride.

Off to Egypt. Ahikar, being a man of wisdom also has o sense of humor. (Verse 27).
AND he did as the king commanded him, and took a rest for forty days.
2 Then he dressed himself in his gayest dress, and went riding to the king, with his slaves behind him and before him, rejoicing and delighted.
3 But when Nadan his sister's son perceived what was happening, fear took hold of him and terror, and he was perplexed, not knowing what to do.
4 And when Haiqar saw it he entered into the king's presence and greeted him, and he returned the greeting, and made him sit down at his side, saying to him, '0 my darling Haiqar! look at these letters which the king of Egypt sent to us, after he had heard that thou wast slain.
5 They have provoked us and overcome us, and many of the people of our country have fled to Egypt for fear of the taxes that the king of Egypt has sent to demand from us.'
6 Then Haiqar took the letter and read it and understood all its contents.
7 Then he said to the king, Be not wroth, 0 my lord! I will go to Egypt, and I will return the answers to Pharaoh, and I will display this letter to him, and I will reply to him about the taxes, and I will send back all those who have run away; and I will put thy enemies to shame with the help of the Most High God, and for the Happiness of thy kingdom.'
8 And when the king heard this speech from Haiqar he rejoiced with a great joy, and his heart was expanded and he showed him favour.
9 And Haiqar said to the king: 'Grant me a delay of forty days that I may consider this question and manage it. And the king permitted this.
10 And Haiqar went to his dwelling, and he commanded the huntsmen to capture two young eaglets for him, and they captured them and brought them to him: and he commanded the weavers of ropes to weave two cables of cotton for him, each of them two thousand cubits long, and he had the carpenters brought and ordered them to make two great boxes, and they did this.
11 Then he took two little lads, and spent every day sacrificing lambs and feeding the eagles and the boys, and making the boys ride on the backs of the eagles, and he bound them with a firm knot, and tied the cable to the feet of the eagles and let them soar upwards little by little every day, to a distance of ten cubits, till they grew accustomed and were educated to it; and they rose all the length of the rope till they reached the sky; the boys being on their backs. Then he drew them to himself.
12 And when Haiqar saw that his desire was fulfilled he charged the boys that when they were borne aloft to the sky they were to shout, saying:
13 Bring us clay and stone that we may build a castle for king Pharaoh, for we are idle.'
14 And Haiqar was never done training them and exercising them till they had reached the utmost possible point (of skill).
15 Then leaving them he went to the king and said to him, 'O my lord! the work is finished according to thy desire. Arise with me that I may show thee the wonder.'
16 So the king sprang up and sat with Haiqar and went to a wide place and sent to bring the eagles and the boys, and Haiqar tied them and let them off into the air all the length of the ropes and they began to shout as he had taught them. Then he drew them to himself and put them in their places.
17 And the king and those who were with him wondered with a great wonder: and the king kissed Haiqar between his eyes and said to him, 'Go in peace, 0 my beloved! 0 pride of my kingdom! to Egypt and answer the questions of Pharaoh and overcome him by the strength of the Most High God.'
18 Then he bade him farewell, and took his troops and his army and the young men and the eagles, and went towards the dwellings of Egypt; and when he had arrived, he turned towards the country of the king.
19 And when the people of Egypt knew that Sennacherib had sent a man of his Privy Council to talk with Pharaoh and to answer his questions, they carried the news to king Pharaoh, and he sent a party of his Privy Councillors to bring him before him.
20 And he came and entered into the presence of Pharaoh, and did obeisance to him as it is fitting to do to kings.
21 And he said to him: '0 my lord the king! Sennacherib the king hails thee with abundance of peace and might, and honour.
22 And he has sent me, who am one of his slaves, that I may answer thee thy questions, and may fulfil all thy desire: for thou hast sent to seek from my lord the king a man who will build thee a castle between the heaven and the earth.
23 And I by the help of the Most High God and thy noble favour and the power of my lord the king will build it for thee as thou desirest.
24 But, 0 my lord the king! what thou hast said in it about the taxes of Egypt for three years - now the stability of a kingdom is strict justice, and if thou winnest and my hand bath no skill in replying to thee, then my lord the king will send thee the taxes which thou hast mentioned.
25 And if I shall have answered thee in thy questions, it shall remain for thee to send whatever thou hast mentioned to my lord the king.'
26 And when Pharaoh heard that speech, he wondered and was perplexed by the freedom of his tongue and the pleasantness of his speech.
27 And king Pharaoh said to him, '0 man! what is thy name?' And he said, 'Thy servant is Abiqam, and I a little ant of the ants of king Sennacherib.'
28 And Pharaoh said to him, 'Had thy lord no one of higher dignity than thee, that he has sent me a little ant to reply to me, and to converse with me?'
29 And Haiqar said to him, '0 my lord the king! I would to God Most High that I may fulfil what is on thy mind,for God is with the weak that He may confound the strong.'
30 Then Pharaoh commanded that they should prepare a dwelling for Abiqam and supply him with provender, meat, and drink, and all that he needed.
31 And when it was finished, three days afterwards Pharaoh clothed himself in purple and red and sat on his throne, and all his viziers and the magnates of his kingdom were standing with their hands crossed, their feet close together, and their heads bowed.
32 And Pharaoh sent to fetch Abiqam, and when he was presented to him, he did obeisance before him, and kissed the ground in front of him.
33 And king Pharaoh said to him, '0 Abiqam, whom am I like? and the nobles of my kingdom, to whom are they like?'
34 And Haiqar said to him '0 my lord the king !thou art like the idol Bel, and the nobles of thy kingdom are like his servants.'
35 He said to him, 'Go, and come back hither to - morrow.' So Haiqar went as king Pharaoh had commanded him.
36 And on the morrow Haiqar went into the presence of Pharaoh, and did obeisance, and stood before the king. And Pharaoh was dressed in a red colour, and the nobles were dressed in white.
37 And Pharaoh said to him '0 Abiqam, whom am I like? and the nobles of my kingdom, to whom are they like?'
35 And Abiqam said to him, '0 my lord! thou art like the sun, and thy servants are like its beams.' And Pharaoh said to him, 'Go to thy dwelling, and come hither to - morrow.'
39 Then Pharaoh commanded his Court to wear pure white, and Pharaoh was dressed like them and sat upon his throne and he commanded them to fetch Haiqar. And he entered and sat down before him.
40 And Pharaoh said to him, '0 Abiqam, whom am I like? and my nobles, to whom are they like?' 41 And Abiqam said to him, '0 my lord! thou art like the moon, and thy nobles are like the planets and the stars.' And Pharaoh said to him, 'Go, and to - morrow be thou here.'
42 Then Pharaoh commanded his servants to wear robes of various colours, and Pharaoh wore a red velvet dress, and sat on his throne, and commanded them to fetch Abiqam. And he entered and did obeisance before him.
43 And he said, '0 Abiqam, whom am I like? and my armies, to whom are they like?' And he said, '0 my lord! thou art like the month of April, and thy armies are like its flowers.'
44 And when the king heard It he rejoiced with a great joy, and said, '0 Abiqam! the first time thou didst compare me to the idol Bel, and my nobles to his servants.
45 And the second time thou didst compare me to the sun, and my nobles to the sunbeam'.
46 And the third time thou didst compare me to the moon, and my nobles to the planets and the stars.
47 And the fourth time thou didst compare me to the month of April, and my nobles to its flowers. But now, 0 Abiqam! tell me, thy lord, king Sennacherib, whom is he like? and his nobles, to whom are they like?'
48 And Haiqar shouted with a loud voice and said: 'Be it far from me to make mention of my lord the king and thou seated on thy throne. But get up on thy feet that I may tell thee whom my lord theking is like and to whom his nobles are like.'
49 And Pharaoh was perplexed by the freedom of his tongue and his boldness in answenng. Then Pharaoh arose from his throne, and stood before Haiqar, and said to him, 'Tell me now, that I may perceive whom thy lord the king is like, and his nobles, to whom they are like.'
50 And Haiqar said to him:
'My lord is the God of heaven, and his nobles are the lightnings and the thunder, and when he wills the winds blow and the rain falls.
51 And he commands the thunder, and it lightens and rains, and he holds the sun, and it gives not its light, and the moon and the stars, and they circle not.
52 And he commands the tempest, and it blows and the rain falls and it tramples on April and destroys its flowers and its houses.'
53 And when Pharaoh heard this speech, he was greatly perplexed and was wroth with a great wrath, and said to him: '0 man! tell me the truth, and let me know who thou really art.'
54 And he told him the truth. 'I am Haiqar the scribe, greatest of the Privy Councillors of king Sennacherib,
and I am his vizier and the Governor of his kingdom, and his Chancellor.'
55 And he said to him, 'Thou hast told the truth in this saying. But we have heard of Haiqar, that king Sennacherib has slain him, yet thou dost seem to be alive and well.'
56 And Haiqar said to him, 'Yes, so it was, but praise be to God, who knoweth what is hidden, for my lord the king commanded me to be killed, and he believed the word of profligate men, but the Lord delivered me, and blessed is he who trusteth in Him.'
57 And Pharaoh said to Haiqar, 'Go, and to - morrow be thou here, and tell me a word that I have never heard from my nobles nor from the people of my kingdom and my country.'


The ruse succeeds. Ahikar answers every question of Pharaoh. The boys on the eagles are the climax of the day. Wit, so rarely found in the ancient Sciptures, is revealed in Verses 34~35.

And Haiqar went to his dwelling, and wrote a letter, saying in it on this wise:
2 'From Sennacherib king of Assyria and Nineveh to Pharaoh king of Egypt.
3 'Peace be to thee, 0 my brother! and what we make known to thee by this is that a brother has need of his brother, and kings of each other, and my hope from thee is that thou wouldst lend me nine hundred talents of gold, for I need it for the victualling of some of the soldiers, that I may spend it upon them. And after a little while I will send it thee.'
4 Then he folded the letter, and presented it on the morrow to Pharaoh.
5 And when he 'saw it, he was perplexed and said to him, 'Verily I have never heard anything like this language from any one.'
6 Then Haiqar said to him, 'Truly this is a debt which thou owest to my lord the king.'
7 And Pharaoh accepted this, saying, '0 Haiqar, it is the like of thee who are honest in the service of kings.
8 Blessed be God who hath made thee perfect in wisdom and hath adorned thee with philosophy and knowledge.
9 And now, 0 Haiqar, there remains what we desire from thee, that thou shouldst build us a castle between heaven and earth.'
10 Then said Haiqar, 'To hear is to obey. I will build thee a castle according to thy wish and choice; but, 0 my lord! prepare us lime and stone and clay and workmen, and I have skilled builders who will build for thee as thou desirest.'
11 And the king prepared all that for him, and they went to a wide place; and Haiqar and his boys came to it, and he took the eagles and the young men with him; and the king and all his nobles went and the whole city assembled, that they might see what Haiqar would do.
12 Then Haiqar let the eagles out of the boxes, and tied the young men on their backs, and tied the ropes to the eagles' feet, and let them go in the air. And they soared upwards, till they remained between heaven and earth.
13 And the boys began to shout, saying, 'Bring bricks, bring clay, that we may build the king's castle, for we are standing idle!'
14 And the crowd were astonished and perplexed, and they wondered. And the king and his nobles wondered.
15 And Haiqar and his servants began to beat the workmen and they shouted for the king's troops, saying to them, 'Bring to the skilled workmen what they want and do not hinder them from their work.'
16 And the king said to him, 'Thou art mad; who can bring anything up to that distance?'
17 And Haiqar said to him, '0 my lord! how shall we build a castle in the air? and if my lord the king were here, he would have built several castles in a single day.'
18 And Pharaoh said to him, 'Go, 0 Haiqar, to thy dwelling, and rest, for we have given up building the castle, and to - morrow come to me.'
19 Then Haiqar went to his dwelling and on the morrow he appeared before Phanaoh. And Pharaoh said,'0 Haiqar, what news is there of the horse of thy lord? for when he neighs in the country of Assyria and Nineveb, and our mares hear his voice, they cast their young.'
20 And when Haiqar heard this speech he went and took a cat, and bound her and began to flog her with a violent flogging till the Egyptians heard it, and they went and told the king about it.
21 And Pharaoh sent to fetch Haiqar, and said to him, '0 Haiqar, wherefore dost thou flog thus and beat that dumb beast?'
22 And Haiqar said to him, '0 my lord the king! verily she has done an ugly deed to me, and has deserved this drubbing and flogging, for my lord king Sennacherib had given me a fine cock, and he had a strong true voice and knew the hours of the day and the night.
23 And the cat got up this very night and cut off its head and went away, and because of this deed I have treated her to this drubbing.'
24 And Pharaoh said to him, '0 Haiqar, I see from all this that thou art growing old and art in thy dotage, for between Egypt and Nineveh there are sixty-eight parasangs, and how did she go this very night and cut off the head of thy cock and come back?'
25 And Haiqar said to him, '0 my lord! if there were such a distance between Egypt and Nineveh, how couldthy mares hear when my lord the king's horse neighs and cast their young?and how could the voice of the horse reach to Egypt?'
26 And when Pharaoh heard he knew that Haiqar had answered his questions.
27 And Pharaoh said, '0 Haiqar, I want thee to make me ropes of the sea - sand.'
28 And Haiqar said to him, '0 my lord the king! order them to bring me a rope out of the treasury that I may make one like it.'
29 Then Haiqar went to the back of the house, and bored holes in the rough shore of the sea, and took a handful of sand in his hand, sea - sand, and when the sun rose, and penetrated into the holes, he spread the sand in the sun till it became as if woven like ropes.
30 And Haiqar said, 'Command thy servants to take these ropes, and whenever thou desirest it, I will weave thee some like them.'
31 And Pharaoh said, 'O Haiqar, we have a millstone here and it has been broken and I want thee to sew it up.'
32 Then Haiqar looked at it and found another stone.
33 And he said to Pharaoh. '0 my lord! I am a foreigner and I have no tool for sewing.
34 But I want thee to command thy faithful shoemakers to cut awls from this stone, that I may sew that millstone.'
35 Then Pharaoh and all his nobles laughed. And he said, 'Blessed be the Most High God, who gave thee this wit and knowledge.'
36 And when Pharaoh saw that Haiqar had overcome him, and returned him his answers, he at once became excited, and commanded them to collect for him three years' taxes, and to bring them to Haiqar.
37 And he stripped off his robes and put them upon Haiqar, and his soldiers, and his servants, and gave him the expenses of his journey.
38 And he said to him, 'Go in peace, 0 strength of his lord and pride of his Doctors! have any of the Sultans thy like? give my greetings to thy lord king Sennacherib, and say to him how we have sent him gifts, for kings are content with little.'
39 Then Haiqar arose, and kissed king Pharaoh's hands and kissed the ground in front of him, and wished him strength and continuance, and abundance in his treasury, and said to him, '0 my lord! I desire from thee that not one of our countryrnen may remain in Egypt.'
40 And Pharaoh arose and sent heralds to proclaim in the streets of Egypt that not one of the people of Assyria or Nineveh should remain in the land of Egypt, but that they should go with Haiqar.
41 Then Haiqar went and took leave of king Pharaoh, and journeyed, seeking the land of Assyria and Nineveh; and he had some treasures and a great deal of wealth.
42 And when the news reached king Sennacherib that Haiqar was coming, he went out to meet him and rejoiced over him exceedingly with great joy and embraced him and kissed him, and said to him, 'Welcome home, 0 kinsman! my brother Haiqar, the strength of my kingdom, and pride of my realm.
43 Ask what thou would'st have from me, even if thou desirest the half of my kingdom and of my possessions.
44 Then said Haiqar unto him, '0 my lord the king, live for ever! Show favour, 0 my lord the king! to Abu Samik in my stead, for my life was in the hands of God and in his.'
45 Then said Sennacherib the king, 'Honour be to thee, 0 my beloved Haiqar! I will make the station of Abu Samik the swordsman higher than all my Privy Councillors and my favourites.'
46 Then the king began to ask him how he had got on with Pharaoh from his first arrival until he had come away from his presence, and how he had answered all his questions, and how he had received the taxes from him, and the changes of raiment and the presents.
47 And Sennacherib the king rejoiced with a great joy, and said to Haiqar, 'Take what thou wouldst fain have of this tribute, for it is all within the grasp of thy hand.'
48 And Haiqar said: 'Let the king live for ever! I desire naught but the safety of my lord the king and the continuance of his greatness.
49 0 my lord! what can I do with wealth and its like? but if thou wilt show me favour, give me Nadan, my sister's son, that I may recompense him for what he has done to me, and grant me his blood and hold me guiltless of it.'
50 And Sennacherib the king said, 'Take him, I have given him to thee,' And Haiqar took Nadan, his sister's son, and bound his hands with chains of iron, and took him to his dwellmg, and put a heavy fetter on his feet, and tied it with a tight knot, and after binding him thus he cast him into a dark room, beside the retiring - place, and appointed Nebu - hal as sentinel over him and commanded him to give him a loaf of bread and a little water every day.

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