WE HAVE in The Story of Ahikar one of the most ancient sources of human thought and wisdom. Its influence can be traced through the legends of many people, including the Koran, and the Old and New Testaments.
A mosaic found in Treves, Germany, pictured among the wise men of the world the character of Ahikar. Here is his colorful tale.
The date of this story has been a subject of lively discussion. Scholars finally put it down about the First Century when they were proved in error by the original story turning up in an Aramaic papyrus of 500 B. C. among the ruins of Elephantine.
The story is obviously fiction and not history. In fact the reader can make its acquaintance in the supplementary pages of The Arabian Nights. It is brilliantly written, and the narrative which is full of action, intrigue, and narrow escape holds the attention to the last. The liberty of imagination is the most precious possession of the writer.
The writing divides itself into four phases: (1) The Narrative; (2) The Teaching (a remarkable series of Proverbs); (3) The Journey to Egypt; (4) The Similitudes or Parables (with which Ahikar completes the education of his erring nephew).