Of the first Generation of Men. How the World first began. Mens first manner of Life, and who were the first Men. First Men in Egypt. Who were the most antient Gods of Egypt. Of their Demy-Gods. Sol, Saturn, Rhea, Jupiter, Juno, Vulcan reign'd in Egypt. Of Osiris and Isis. The Acts of Osiris and Isis. Hermes his Inventions. Osiris prepares for his Expedition through the World, and to that end raises a great Army.
WHAT Notions they had of the Gods who first instituted Divine Worship, and what is fabulously related of every one of the Deities (because the Subject requires much to be said) we shall distinctly set forth: And whatever we conceive to be pertinent to the present History, we shall discourse of severally and distinct, that nothing worth Observation may be omitted And we shall here give an accurate Account (as far as the Antiquity of the matters will admit) of the Generation and Original of Mankind, and of the Affairs and Transactions of all Parts of the Known World, drawing down our History from the most ancient Times.
Of the Origen therefore of Men, there are Two Opinions amongst the most famous and authentick Naturalists and Historians.
Some of these are of Opinion, that the World had neither Beginning, nor ever shall have End; and likewise say, that Mankind was from Eternity, and that there never was a Time when he first began to be. Others on the contrary, conceive both the World to be made, and to be corruptible, and that there was a certain Time when Man had first a Being.
For whereas all things at the first were jumbled together, Heaven and Earth, were in one Mass, and had one and the same Form: But afterwards (they say) when Corporeal Beings appear'd one after another, the World at length presented it self in the Order we now see; and that the Air was in continual agitation, whose fiery part ascended together to the highest Place, its nature (by reason of its Levity) tending always upwards; for which reason, both the Sun, and that vast number of the Stars, are contain'd within that Orb. That the gross and earthy Matter (clotted together by Moisture) by reason of its Weight sunk down below into one Place, is continually whirling about; the Sea was made of the Humid Parts; and the muddy Earth of the more Solid, as yet very meorish and soft; which by degrees at first was made crusty by the Heat of the Sun; and then after the Face of the Earth was parcht, and as it were firmented, the Moisture afterwards in many Places bubled up, and appear'd as so many Pustles wrapt up in thin and slender Coats and Skins; which may be even seen in standing Ponds, and Marish Places, when after the Earth has been pierc'd with Page 2 Cold, the Air grows hot on a sudden, without a gradual Alteration. And whereas Moisture generates Creatures from Heat, as from a Seminal Principle, things so generated, by being inwrapt in the dewy Mists of the Night, grew and increas'd, and in the Day solidated, and were made hard by the Heat of the Sun; and when the Births included in those Ventricles had received their due proportion, then those slender Skins being burst asunder by the Heat, the Forms of all sorts of Living Creatures were brought forth into the Light; of which those that had most of Heat mounted aloft, and were Fowl, and Birds of the Air; but those that were drossy, and had more of Earth, were number'd in the order of Creeping things, and other Creatures altogether us'd to the Earth. Then those Beasts that were naturally watery and moist (call'd Fishes) presently hasten'd to the place connatural to them; and when the Earth afterwards became more dry and solid by the Heat of the Sun, and the drying Winds, it had not power at length to produce any more of the greater living Creatures; but each that had an Animal Life, began to increase their Kind by mutual Copulation. And Euripides the Scholar of Anaxagoras, seems to be of the same Opinion, concerning the first Generation of all things; for in his Monalippe he has these Verses.
But if this Power of the Earth to produce living Creatures at the first Origen of all things seem credible to any; the Aegyptians do bring Testimonies of this Energy of the Earth, by the same things done there at this day. For they say, that about Thebes in Egypt, after the overflowing of the River Nile, the Earth thereby being covered with Mud and Slime, many Places putrify through the heat of the Sun, and thence are bred multitudes of Mice. It is certain therefore, that out of the Earth when it's hardn'd, and the Air chang'd from its due and natural Temperament, Animals are generated. By which means it came to pass, that in the first beginning of all things, various living Creatures proceeded from the Earth. And these are the Opinions touching the Original of Things.
But Men, they say, at first, led a rude and brutish sort of Life, and wandered up and down in the Fields, and fed upon Herbs, and the natural Fruit of the Trees. Their Words were confus'd, without any certain signification; but by degrees they spoke articulately, and making Signs, and giving proper Terms to every thing upon occasion; at length their Discourse became intelligible one to another: But being dispers'd into several parts of the World, they spoke not all the same Language, every one using that Dialect proper to the Place, as his Lot fell: Upon which account there were various and all sorts of Languages in the World; and these Associations of Men, first planted all the Nations of the World.
But forasmuch as what was useful for Mans Life, was not at the beginning found out, this first Race of Mankind liv'd a laborious and troublesom Life, as being as yet naked, not inur'd to Houses, nor acquainted with the use of Fire, and altogether destitute of Delicacies for their Food. For not knowing as yet how to house and lay up their Food, they had no Barns or Granaries where to deposite the Fruits of the Earth; and therefore many through Hunger and Cold perisht in the Winter: But being at length taught by experience, they fled into Caves in the Winter, and laid up such Fruits as were fit to keep; and coming by degrees to the Knowledge of the usefulness of Fire, and of other Conveniences, they began to invent many Arts, and other things beneficial for Man's Life. What shall we say? Necessity was Man's Instructor, which made him skilful in every thing, being an Ingenious Creature, assisted (as with so many Servants) with Hands, Speech, and a Rational Soul, ready to put every thing in execution. But what Page 3 we have here said concerning the first Generation of Mankind, and his way of living in old time may suffice, designing to keep within due Bounds.
And now we shall apply our selves to recount those things that have been done in all the known Parts of the World, whereof there is any Memorial handed down to us.
Who were the First Kings, we our selves can neither assert nor agree with those Historians who affirm they know; for it's not possible that the Account given of Affairs, should be so ancient as to be contemporary with the first Kings; and if any should admit any such thing, yet it's apparent, that all the Historians extant liv'd long after those Times. For the Greeks themselves are not only in the dark concerning the Antiquity of Nations, but many of the Barbarians also, who call themselves Natural Inhabitants, and boast themselves to be the first of all other Men who have found out things beneficial to Mankind, and to have committed to writing, things done among them many Ages before. And as for us, we determine nothing certainly of the Antiquity of particular Nations, nor which Nation is antienter than another, or how many Years one was before another. But that we may attain the Scope and End we have before design'd, we shall distinctly set forth in these Chapters, what is reported concerning things done in the several Nations, and the Antiquity of them.
We shall first speak of the Barbarians; not that we judge them more ancient than the Grecians (as Ephorus affirms) but that we are willing in the First place to relate many considerable things of them, that when we come afterwards to the History of the Greeks, we may not confound their Antiquity with the other which are of a foreign nature to them. And because the Gods are fabulously reported to be born in Egypt, and the first Observation of the Motion of the Stars is attributed to them, and that there are many remarkable and famous Actions of renown'd Men recorded to be done amongst them, we shall begin with the Affairs of Egypt.
The Egyptians report, that at the beginning of the World, the first Men were created in Egypt, both by reason of the happy Climate of the Country, and the nature of the River Nile. For this River being very Fruitful, and apt to bring forth many Animals, yields of it self likewise Food and Nourishment for the things produc'd. For it yields the Roots of Canes, the Fruit of the Lote-Tree, the Egyptian Bean, that which they call Cors•on, and such like Rarities for Man's Food, always ready at hand.
And that all living Creatures were first produc'd among them, they use this Argument, that even at this day, about Thebes at certain Times, such vast Mice are bred, that it causes admiration to the Beholders; some of which to the Breast and Fore-feet are animated and begin to move, and the rest of the Body (which yet retains the nature of the Soyl) appears without Form. Whence it's manifest, that in the beginning of the World, through the Fertileness of the Soyl the first Men were form'd in Egypt, being that in no other parts of the World any of these Creatures are produc'd; only in Egypt these supernatural Births may be seen.
And that we may sum up all in a word: If in the time of Deucalion's Flood, the greatest part only of all living Creatures were destroy'd, then of such as were so preserv'd, its very probable that those in Egypt, especially, were of the number, whose Inhabitants lye under the South Pole, and the Country for the most part without Rain: Or if all that had Life generally perisht (as some affirm) and that the Earth produc'd Animals anew; yet they say, that notwithstanding this, the chief production of things animated, is to be ascribed to this Country. For they affirm, that if the Showers which fall in any other Places, were warm'd with the same Heat that is in Egypt, the Air would be of that Temperature, as that it would aptly conduce to the Generation of Animals, as at first, in the beginning of the World. For even at this day, such Births may be seen (in the Waters that have lain long) over all the water'd Country of Egypt. For they affirm, that when the River returns into its Channel, and the Sun dries the Mud, living Creatures are generated, some perfect, others half form'd, even cleaving to the Soyl whence they are produc'd.
The first Generation of Men in Egypt, therefore contemplating the Beauty of the Superior World, and admiring with astonishment the frame and order of the Universe, judg'd there were Two chief Gods that were Eternal, that is to Page 4 say, The Sun and the Moon, the first of which they call'd Osiris, and the other Isis, both Names having proper Etymologies; for Osiris in the Greek Language, signifies a Thing with many Eyes, which may be very properly apply'd to the Sun darting his Rays into every Corner, and as it were with so many Eyes viewing and surveying the whole Land and Sea, with which agrees the Poet,
Some also of the antient Greek Mythologists call Osiris Dionysus, and sirname him Sirius, amongst whom Eumolphus in his Bacchanal Verses,
And Orpheus;〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.
Some likewise set him forth cloath'd with the spotted Skin of a Fawn (call'd Nebris) from the variety of Stars that surround him.
Isis likewise being interpreted, signifies Antient, that Name being ascrib'd to the Moon from Eternal Generations. They add likewise to her, Horns, because her Aspect is such in her Increase and in her Decrease, representing a Sickle; and because an Ox among the Egyptians is offer'd to her in Sacrifice. They hold that these Gods govern the whole World, cherishing and increasing all things; and divide the Year into Three Parts (that is to say, Spring, Summer and Autumn) by an invisible Motion perfecting their constant Course in that time: And though they are in their Natures very differing one from another, yet they compleat the whole Year with a most excellent Harmony and Consent. They say that these Gods in their Natures do contribute much to the Generation of all things, the one being of a hot and active Nature, the other moist and cold, but both having something of the Air; and that by these, all things are both brought forth and nourish'd: And therefore that every particular Being in the Universe is perfected and compleated by the Sun and Moon, whose Qualities, as before declar'd, are Five; A Spirit or quickning Efficacy, Heat or Fire, Dryness or Earth, Moisture or Water, and Air, of which the World does consist, as a Man made up of Head, Hands, Feet, and other parts. These Five they reputed for Gods, and the People of Egypt who were the first that spoke articulately, gave Names proper to their several Natures, according to the Language they then spake. And therefore they call'd the Spirit Jupiter, which is such by Interpretation, because a quickning Influence is deriv'd from this into all Living Creatures, as from the original Principle; and upon that account he is esteem'd the common Parent of all things. And to this the most famous Poet of the Greeks gives Testimony, where speaking of this God he says—
Fire they call'd by Interpretation Vulcan, and him they had in Veneration as a Great God, as he that greatly contributed to the Generation and Perfection of all Beings whatsoever.
The Earth, as the Common Womb of all Productions, they call'd Metera, as the Greeks in process of time, by a small alteration of one Letter, and an omission of Two Letters, call'd the Earth Demetra, which was antiently call'd Gen Metera, or the Mother Earth, as Orpheus attests in this Verse.
But the Egyptians account their Nile to be Oceanus, at which all the Gods were Born. For in Egypt, only among all the Countries in the World, are many Cities built by the ancient Gods, as by Jupiter, Sol, Mercury, Apollo, Pan, Elithia, and many others.
To the Air they gave the Name of Minerva, signifying something proper to the nature thereof, and call'd her the Daughter of Jupiter, and counted a Virgin, because the Air naturally is not subject to Corruption, and is in the highest part of the Universe; whence rises the Fable, that she was the Issue of Jupiter's Brain: They say she's call'd also Tritogeneia, or Thrice Begotten, because she changes her natural Qualities thrice in the Year, the Spring, Summer and Winter; and that she was call'd Glaucopis, not that she hath Grey Eyes (as some of the Greeks have suppos'd, for that's a weak Conceit) but because the Air seems to be of a Grey Colour, to the view. They report likewise, that these Five Gods travel through the whole World, representing themselves to Men sometimes in the shapes of Sacred living Creatures, and sometimes in the Form of Men, or some other Representation. And this is not a Fable, but very possible, if it be true, that these generate all things; and the Poet who travell'd into Egypt, in some part of his Works, affirms this Appearance, as he learnt it from their Priests,
And these are the Stories told by the Egyptians of the Heavenly and Immortal Gods. And besides these, they say there are others that are Terrestrial, which were begotten of these former Gods, and were Originally Mortal Men, but by reason of their Wisdom and Beneficence to all Mankind, have obtain'd Immortality, of which some have been Kings of Egypt. Some of whom by Interpretation, have had the same Names with the Celestial Gods, others have kept their own proper Names. For they report that Sol, Saturn, Rhea, Jupiter, (surnam'd by some Ammon) Juno, Vulcan, Vesta, and lastly, Mercury, reign'd in Egypt; and that Sol was the first King of Egypt, whose Name was the same with the Celestial Planet call'd Sol.
But there are some of the Priests who affirm Vulcan to be the first of their Kings, and that he was advanc'd to that Dignity upon the account of being the first that sound out the use of Fire, which was so beneficial to all Mankind. For a Tree in the Mountains hapning to be set on Fire by Lightning, the Wood next adjoyning was presently all in a Flame; and Vulcan thereupon coming to the Place, was mightily refresht by the heat of it, being then Winter Season; and when the Fire began to fail, he added more combustible Matter to it, and by that means preserving it, call'd in other Men to enjoy the Benefit of that which he himself was the first Inventer, as he gave out.
Afterwards they say Saturn reign'd, and marry'd his Sister Rhea, and that he begat of her Osiris and Isis; but others say, Jupiter and Juno, who for their great Virtues, rul'd over all the World. That of Jupiter and Juno were born Five Gods, one upon every day of the Five Egyptian intercalary Days. The Names of these Gods are Osiris, Isis, Typhon, Apollo and Venus. That Osiris was interpreted Bacchus, and Isis plainly Ceres. That Osiris marry'd Isis, and after he came to the Page 6 Kingdom, did much, and perform'd many things for the common Benefit and Advantage of Mankind. For he was the first that forbad Men eating one another; and at the same time Isis found out the way of making of Bread of Wheat and Barley, which before grew here and there in the Fields amongst other common Herbs and Grass, and the use of it unknown: And Osiris teaching the way and manner of Tillage, and well management of the Fruits of the Earth, this change of Food became grateful; both because it was naturally sweet and delicious, and Men were thereby restrain'd from the mutual Butcheries one of another: For an evidence of this first finding out the use of these Fruits, they alledge an antient Custom amongst them: For even at this day, in the time of Harvest, the Inhabitants offer the first Fruits of the Ears of Corn, howling and wailing about the Handfuls they offer, and invoking this Goddess Isis: And this they do in return of due Honour to her for that Invention at the first. In some Cities also, when they celebrate the Feast of Isis in a Pompous Procession, they carry about Vessels of Wheat and Barley, in memory of the first Invention, by the care and industry of this Goddess. They say likewise, that Isis made many Laws for the good of Human Society, whereby Men were restrain'd from lawless Force and Violence one upon another, out of fear of Punishment. And therefore Ceres was call'd by the ancient Greeks, Themophorus (that is) Lawgiver, being the Princess that first constituted Laws for the better Government of her People.
Osiris moreover built Thebes in Egypt, with an Hundred Gates, and call'd it after his Mother's Name: But in following Times, it was call'd Diospolis, and Thebes; of whose first Founder not only Historians, but the Priests of Egypt themselves, are much in doubt. For some say that it was not built by Osiris, but many Years after by a King of Egypt, whose History we shall treat of hereafter in its proper place. They report likewise, that he built Two magnificent Temples, and Dedicated them to his Parents, Jupiter and Juno; and likewise Two Golden Altars, the greater to the great God Jupiter; the other to his Father Jupiter, who had formerly reign'd there, whom they call Ammon. That he also erected Golden Altars to other Gods, and instituted their several Rites of Worship, and appointed Priests to have the Oversight and Care of the Holy things. In the time of Osiris and Isis, Projectors and ingenious Artists were in great Honour and Esteem; and therefore in Thebes there were then Goldsmiths and Braziers, who made Arms and Weapons for the Killing of Wild Beasts, and other Instruments for the husbanding of the Ground, and improvement of Tillage; besides Images of the Gods, and Altars in Gold. They say that Osiris was much given to Husbandry, that he was the Son of Jupiter, brought up in Nisa, a Town of Arabia the Happy, near to Egypt, call'd by the Greeks Dionysus, from his Father, and the Place of his Education. The Poet in his Hymns makes mention of Nysa, as bordering upon Egypt, where he says,
Here near unto Nyse, (they say) he found out the use of the Vine, and there planting it, was the first that drank Wine; and taught others how to plant it and use it, and to gather in their Vintage, and to keep and preserve it. Above all others, he most honoured Hermes, one of an admirable Ingenuity, and quick Invention, in finding out what might be useful to Mankind. This Hermes was the first (as they report) that taught how to speak distinctly and articulately, and gave Names to many things that had none before. He found out Letters, and instituted the Worship of the Gods; and was the first that observ'd the Motion of the Stars, and invented Musick; and taught the manner of Wrestling; and invented Arithmetick, and the Art of curious Graving and Cutting of Statues. He first found out the Harp with Three Strings, in resemblance of the Three Seasons of the Year, causing Three several Sounds, the Treble, Base and Mean. The Treble, Page 7 to represent the Summer; The Base, the Winter; and the Mean, the Spring. He was the first that taught the Greeks Eloquence; thence he's call'd Hermes, a Speaker or Interpreter. To conclude, he was Osiris's Sacred Scribe, to whom he communicated all his Secrets, and was chiefly steer'd by his Advice in every thing. He (not Minerva, as the Greeks affirm) found out the use of the Olive-tree, for the making of Oyl. It's moreover reported, that Osiris being a Prince of a publick Spirit, and very ambitious of Glory, rais'd a great Army, with which he resolv'd to go through all parts of the World that were inhabited, and to teach Men how to plant Vines, and to sow Wheat and Barly. For he hop'd that if he could civilize Men, and take them off from their rude and Beast-like Course of Lives, by such a publick good and advantage, he should raise a Foundation amongst all Mankind, for his immortal Praise and Honour, which happen'd accordingly. For not only that Age, but Posterity ever after honour'd those among the chiefest of their Gods, that first found out their proper and ordinary Food. Having therefore settl'd his Affairs in Egypt, and committed the Government of his whole Kingdom to his Wife Isis, he join'd with her Mercury, as her chief Councellor of State, because he far excell'd all others in Wisdom and Prudence. But Hercules his near Kinsman, he left General of all his Forces within his Dominions, a Man admir'd by all for his Valour and Strength of Body. As to those parts which lay near Phaenicia, and upon the Sea-Coasts of them, he made Busiris Lord Lieutenant, and of Ethiopia and Lybia, Anteus.
Then marching out of Egypt, he began his Expedition, taking along with him his Brother, whom the Greeks call'd Apollo. This Apollo is reported to have discover'd the Laurel-Tree, which all Dedicate especially to this God. To Osiris they attribute the finding out of the Ivy-Tree, and dedicate it to him, as the Greeks do to Bacchus: And therefore in the Egyptian Tongue, they call Ivy Osiris's Plant, which they prefer before the Vine in all their Sacrifices, because this loses its Leaves, and the other always continues fresh and green: Which Rule the Ancients have observ'd in other Plants, that are always green, dedicating Mirtle to Venus, Laurel to Apollo, and the Olive-Tree to Pallas.
It's said, that Two of his Sons accompany'd their Father Osiris in this Expedition, one call'd Anubis, and the other Macedo, both valiant Men: Both of them wore Coats of Mail, that were extraordinary remarkable, cover'd with the Skins of such Creatures as resembled them in Stoutness and Valour. Anubis was cover'd with a Dog's, and Macedon with the Skin of a Wolf; and for this reason these Beasts are religiously ador'd by the Egyptians. He had likewise for his Companion, Pan, whom the Egyptians have in great Veneration; for they not only set up Images and Statues up and down in every Temple, but built a City in Thebides after his Name, call'd by the Inhabitants † Chemmin, which by interpretation is Pan's City. There went along with them likewise those that were skilful in Husbandry, as Maro in the planting of Vines, and Triptolemus in sowing of Corn, and gathering in the Harvest.
The Continuance of Osiris's Expedition through Ethiopia, all Arabia, India and Europe. Buried by Isis and Mercury. How he was kill'd. His Death reveng'd by Isis and Orus. Two Bulls, Apis and Mnevis, worshipp'd in Egypt. Places discuss'd where Osiris and Isis were Buried. Histories of the Egyptian Priests. Their Tears, Lunar Tears. Giants. Laws about Marriage. Osiris and Isis, their Pillars and Inscriptions. Colonies out of Egypt.
ALL things being now prepar'd, Osiris having vow'd to the Gods to let his Hair grow till he return'd into Egypt, marcht away through Aethiopia; and for that very Reason it's a piece of Religion, and practis'd among the Egyptians at this Day, that those that travel Abroad, suffer their Hair to grow, till they return Home. As he pass'd through Ethiopia, a Company of Satyrs were Page 8 presented to him, who (as it's reported) were all Hairy down to their Loyns: For Osiris was a Man given to Mirth and Jollity, and took great pleasure in Musick and Dancing; and therefore carry'd along with him a Train of Musicians, of whom Nine were Virgins, most Excellent Singers, and expert in many other things (whom the Greeks call Muses) of whom Apollo was the Captain; and thence call'd the Leader of the Muses: Upon this account the Satyrs, who are natuturally inclin'd to skipping, dancing and singing, and all other sorts of Mirth, were taken in as part of the Army: For Osiris was not for War, nor came to fight Battels, and to decide Controversies by the Sword, every Country receiving him for his Merits and Virtues, as a God. In Ethiopia having instructed the Inhabitants in Husbandry, and Tillage of the Ground, and built several stately Cities among them, he left there behind him some to be Governors of the Country, and others to be Gatherers of his Tribute.
While they were thus imploy'd 'tis said that the River Nile, about the Dog-days (at which time it uses to be the highest) broke down its Banks, and over-flow'd the greatest part of Egypt, and that part especially where Prometheus govern'd, insomuch as almost all the Inhabitants were drown'd; so that Prometheus was near unto Killing of himself for very grief of heart; and from the sudden and violent Eruption of the Waters, the River was call'd Eagle.
Hercules, who was always for high and difficult Enterprizes, and ever of a stout Spirit, presently made up the Breaches, and turn'd the River into its Channel, and kept in within its ancient Banks; and therefore some of the Greek Poets from this fact have forg'd a Fable, That Hercules kill'd the Eagle that fed upon Prometheus his Heart. The most ancient Name of this River was Oceames, which in the Greek pronunciation is Oceanus; afterwards call'd Eagle, upon the violent Eruption. Lastly, it was call'd Egyptus, from the Name of a King that there reign'd; which the Poet attests, who says,
For near Thonis (as it's call'd) an ancient Mart Town of Egypt, this River empties it self into the Sea.
The last Name which it still retains, it derives from Nileus, a King of those Parts.
Osiris being come to the Borders of Ethiopia, rais'd high Banks on either side of the River, lest in the time of its Inundation it should overflow the Country more than was convenient, and make it marish and boggy; and made Floodgates to let in the Water by degrees, as far as was necessary. Thence he pass'd through Arabia, bordering upon the Red Sea as far as to India, and the utmost Coasts that were inhabited: He built likewise many Cities in India, one of which he call'd Nysa, willing to have a remembrance of that in Egypt where he was brought up. At this Nysa in India, he planted Ivy, which grows and remains here only of all other Places in India, or the Parts adjacent. He left likewise many other Marks of his being in those Parts, by which the latter Inhabitants are induc'd to believe, and do affirm that this God was born in India.
He likewise addicted himself much to hunting of Elephants; and took care to have Statues of himself in every place, as lasting Monuments of his Expedition. Thence passing to the rest of Asia, he transported his Army through the Hellespont into Europe; and in Thrace he kill'd Lycurgus King of the Barbarians, who oppos'd him in his Designs. Then he order'd Maro (at that time an Old Man) to take care of the Planters in that Country, and to build a City, and call it Maronea, after his own Name. Macedon his Son he made King of Macedonia, so calling it after him. To Triptolemus he appointed the Culture and Tillage of the Land in Attica. To conclude, Osiris having travell'd through the whole World, by finding out Food fit and convenient for Man's Body, was a Benefactor to all Mankind. Where Vines would not grow and be fruitful, he taught the Inhabitants to make Drink of Barley, little interiour in strength and pleasant Flavour to Wine it self. He brought back with him into Egypt the most pretious and richest things that ever place did afford; and for the many Benefits and Advantages that he was Page 9 the Author of, by the common Consent of all Men, he gain'd the Reward of Immortality and Honour equal to the Heavenly Deities.
After his Death, Isis and Mercury celebrated his Funeral with Sacrifices and other Divine Honours, as to one of the Gods, and instituted many Sacred Rites mystical Ceremonies in Memory of the mighty Works wrought by this Hero, now Deify'd. Antiently the Egyptian Priests kept the manner of the Death of Osiris secret in their own Registers among themselves; but in after-times it fell out, that some that could not hold, blurted it out, and so it came Abroad. For they say that Osiris, while he govern'd in Egypt with all Justice imaginable, was Murder'd by his wicked Brother Typhon; and that he mangled his dead Body into Six and Twenty Pieces, and gave to each of his Confederates in the Treason a Piece, by that means to bring them all within the same horrid Guilt, and thereby the more to ingage them to advance him to the Throne, and to defend and preserve him in the Possession.
But Isis, the Sister and Wife likewise of Osiris, with the assistance of her Son Orus, reveng'd his Death upon Typhon and his Complices, and posses'd her self of the Kingdom of Egypt. It's said the Battel was fought near a River not far off a Town now call'd Antaea in Arabia, so call'd from Anteus, whom Hercules slew in the time of Osiris. She found all the Pieces of his Body, save his Privy Members; and having a desire to conceal her Husband's Burial, yet to have him honour'd as a God by all the Egyptians, she thus contriv'd it. She clos'd all the Pieces together, cementing them with Wax and Aromatick Spices, and so brought it to the shape of a Man of the bigness of Osiris; then she sent for the Priests to her, one by one, and swore them all that they should not discover what she should then intrust them with. Then she told them privately, that they only should have the Burial of the King's Body; and recounting the many good Works he had done, charg'd them to bury the Body in a proper place among themselves, and to pay unto him all Divine Honour, as to a God. That they should Dedicate to him one of the Beasts bred among them, which of them they pleas'd, and that while it was alive, they should pay it the same Veneration as they did before to Osiris himself; and when it was dead, that they should Worship it with the same Adoration and Worship given to Osiris. But being willing to incourage the Priests to these Divine Offices by Profit and Advantage, she gave them the Third part of the Country for the Maintenance of the Service of the Gods and their Attendance at the Altars.
In memory therefore of Osiris's good Deeds, being incited thereunto by the Commands of the Queen, and in expectation of their own Profit and Advantage, the Priests exactly perform'd every thing that Isis injoin'd them; and therefore every Order of the Priests at this Day are of opinion that Osiris is bury'd among them. And they have those Beasts in great Veneration, that were so long since thus consecrated; and renew their Mournings for Osiris over the Graves of those Beasts. There are Two sacred Bulls especially, the one call'd Apis, and the other Mnevis, that are Consecrated to Osiris, and reputed as Gods generally by all the Egyptians. For this Creature of all others was extraordinarily serviceable to the first Inventers of Husbandry, both as to the Sowing Corn, and other Advantages concerning Tillage, of which all reapt the Benefit. Lastly, they say, that after the Death of Osiris, Isis made a Vow never to Marry any other Man, and spent the rest of her Days in an exact Administration of Justice among her Subjects, excelling all other Princes in her Acts of Grace and Bounty towards her own People; and therefore after her Death, she was numbred among the Gods, and as such had Divine Honour and Veneration, and was buri'd at Memphis, where they shew her Sepulchre at this day in the Grove of Vulcan.
Yet there are some that deny that these Gods are Buri'd at Memphis; but near the Mountains of Ethiopia and Egypt, in the Isle of Nile, lying near to a place call'd Philas, and upon that account also nam'd the Holy Field. They confirm this by undoubted Signs and Marks left in this Island, as by a Sepulchre built and erected to Osiris, religiously Reverenc'd by all the Priests of Egypt, wherein are laid up Three Hundred and Threescore Bowls, which certain Priests appointed for that purpose, fill every Day with Milk, and call upon the Gods by Name, with Mourning and Lamentation. For that cause none go into the Island but Priests. The Page 10 Inhabitants of Thebes (which is the most ancient City of Egypt) account it a great Oath, and by no means to be violated, if a Man swear by Osiris that lies bury'd at Philas.
The several parts therefore of Osiris being found, they report were bury'd in this manner before related; but his Privy-Members (they say) were thrown into the River by Typhon, because none of his Partners would receive them; and yet that they were divinely honour'd by Isis; for she commanded an Image of this very part to be set up in the Temples, and to be religiously ador'd; and in all their Ceremonies and Sacrifices to this God, she ordered that part to be held in divine Veneration and Honour. And therefore the Grecians, after they had learn'd the Rites and Ceremonies of the Feasts of Bacchus, and the Orgian Solemnities from the Egyptians in all their Myteries and Sacrifices to this God, they ador'd that Member by the Name of Phallus.
From Osiris and Isis, to the Reign of Alexander the Great, who built a City after his own Name, the Egyptian Priests reckon above Ten Thousand Years, or (as some write) little less than Three and Twenty Thousand Years. They affirm, that those that say this God Osiris was born at Thebes in Boetia of Jupiter and Semele, relate that which is false. For they say that Orpheus, after he came into Egypt, was initiated into the Sacred Mysteries of Bacchus or Dionysus, and being a special Friend to the Thebans in Boetia, and of great esteem among them, to manifest his Gratitude, transferr'd the Birth of Bacchus or Osiris over into Greece.
And that the Common People, partly out of Ignorance, and partly out of a desire they had that this God should be a Grecian, readily receiv'd these Mysteries and Sacred Rites among them; and that Orpheus took the occasion following to fix the Birth of the God and his Rites and Ceremonies among the Greeks: As thus, Cadmus (they say) was born at Thebes in Egypt, and amongst other Children begat Semele: That she was got with Child by one unknown, and was deliver'd at Seven Months end of a Child very like to Osiris, as the Egyptians describe him. But such Births are not us'd to live, either because it is not the pleasure of the Gods it should be so, or that the Law of Nature will not admit it. The Matter coming to Cadmus his Ear, being before warn'd by the Oracle to protect the Laws of his Country, he wrapt the Infant in Gold, and instituted Sacrifices to be offer'd to him, as if Osiris had appear'd again in this shape; and caus'd it to be spread abroad, that it was begotten of Jupiter, thereby both to honour Osiris, and to cover his Daughter's Shame. And therefore it is a common Report among the Grecians, that Semele, the Daughter of Cadmus, was got with Child by Jupiter, and by him had Osiris.
In After-times, Orpheus, by reason of his excellent Art and Skill in Musick, and his Knowledge in Theology, and Institution of Sacred Rites and Sacrifices to the Gods, was greatly esteem'd among the Grecians, and especially was receiv'd and entertain'd by the Thebans, and by them highly honour'd above all others; who being excellently learn'd in the Egyptian Theology, brought down the Birth of the ancient Osiris, to a far later time, and to gratifie the Cadmeans or Thebans, instituted new Rites and Ceremonies, at which he ordered that it should be declared to all that were admitted to those Mysteries, that Dionysus or Osiris was begotten of Semele by Jupiter. The People therefore partly through Ignorance, and partly by being deceived with the dazling Luster of Orpheus his Reputation, and with their good Opinion of his Truth and Faithfulness in this matter (especially to have this God reputed a Grecian, being a thing that humour'd them) began to use these Rites, as is before declared. And with these Stories the Mythologists and Poets have fill'd all the Theaters, and now it's generally received as a Truth not in the least to be questioned. To conclude, The Priests say, that the Grecians have arrogated to themselves both their Gods and Demy-Gods (or Heroes,) and say that divers Colonies were transported over to them out of Egypt: For Hercules was an Egyptian, and by his Valour made his way into most parts of the World, and set up a Pillar in Africa; and of this they endeavour to make proof from the Grecians themselves. For whereas it is own'd by all, that Hercules assisted the Gods in the Giants War, it's plain that at that time when Page 11 the Grecians say Hercules was born, the Earth had not then strength to produce Giants, neither were there any in those Days, that is to say, in the Age next before the Trojan War; but rather (as the Egyptians affirm) at the first Generation and Beginning of Mankind; from which Time the Egyptians account above Ten Thousand Years; but from the Trojan War, not Twelve Hundred: And according to this Computation of the Egyptians, a Club and Lion's Skin may agree well enough with the ancient Hercules; for the use of Arms not being at that time found out, Men fought with Clubs and Staves, and cover'd their Bodies with Beasts Skins. This ancient Hercules they say was the Son of Jupiter, but know not who was his Mother: But he who was the Son of Alemena, they affirm was born above Ten Thousand Years after the other, and was call'd at first Alceus; but afterwards Hercules, not that he had that honourable Surname from Juno (as Matris says) but assum'd to himself the Name out of emulation, desirous to do as great things as the ancient Hercules, and so to inherit as well his Fame and Glory as his Name.
Moreover, the Grecians have a very antient Tradition, which agrees with the Egyptians, that Hercules freed the Earth from wild Beasts; which cannot possibly be apply'd to him who flourish'd about the Times of the Trojans, when most Parts of the World were free from such annoyances, by improvement of Lands and Multitudes of Populous Cities. But the reduction of the World to a more civil course of Living, agrees best with the ancient Hercules, when Men were as yet vext and plagu'd with wild Beasts; and especially in Egypt, whose upper part is a Wilderness, and full of Wild Beasts at this very Day. And 'tis but very reasonable to think that Hercules should mind the Prosperity and Welfare of Egypt, his own Country, and free the Land from Beasts, and so deliver it into the Hands of the Husbandman, to be improv'd by Tillage; and that upon this account he was Honour'd as a God.
They report likewise, that Perseus was born in Egypt, and that the Grecians have transferr'd from thence the Birth of Isis into Argos, inventing a Story that she was the same with Io, who was metamorphosed into a Bull. And indeed there are great Differences and Disputes concerning these Gods: For some call the same Goddess Isis, others call her Ceres; some Thesmophorus, others Luna, others Juno, and some by all these Names.
They term Osiris sometimes Serapis, sometimes Dionysus, and sometimes Pluto; then again Ammon; sometimes Jupiter, and often Pan. There are some likewise that say, Serapis is the same, whom the Grecians call Pluto.
The Egyptians report that Isis found out many Medicines for the Recovery of Mens Health, being very expert in the Art of Physick, and contriv'd many Remedies for that purpose; and therefore even now when she is advanc'd to an immortal State, she takes pleasure in curing Mens Bodies, and to those that desire her assistance, in their sleep she clearly manifests her presence, and affords ready and effectual Relief to them that stand in need of it.
For clear proof of all this, they say, they have not only the usual Fables of the Greeks, but the undoubted Evidence of the fact to confirm it; and that almost the whole World bears Testimony to this, by the Respect and Honour they pay to this Goddess upon the account of her great Fame in curing of Diseases: For in Sleep she's present with Persons, and applies Remedies to the Sick, and wonderfully cures those that are her Votaries. That many that have been given off by the Physitians as incurable, have been restor'd by her; and that many that have been blind and lame, who have sought to her for help, have been perfectly restor'd to their former Sight, and Soundness of Body.
They say she found out a Medicine that would raise the Dead to Life, with which she not only rais'd her Son Orus, that was kill'd by the Titans, and found dead in the Water, but by that Application made him Immortal. This Orus was the last of the Gods that reign'd in, Egypt, after the Translation of Osiris his Father. This Orus, they say, by interpretation is Apollo, who being taught by his Mother Isis, the Art of Physick and Divination, was very beneficial to Mankind in these respects.
The Egyptian Priests in their Computation of Time do reckon above Three and Twenty Thousand Years from the Reign of Sol, to the passage of Alexander the Great into Asia.
Page 12 In their fabulous Stories they say, that the most ancient of their God's reign'd Twelve Hundred Years, and the latter no less than Three Hundred Years apiece. Whereas this great number of Years seems incredible, some have not stuck to affirm that the motion of the Sun not being then known, the Year was reckon'd according to the Course of the Moon; and therefore the Solar Year, consisting then but of Three Hundred Days, some of them were sure to live Twelve Hundred Lunary Years; and even at this Day now that there are Twelve Months in the Year, many live a Hundred Solar Years.
The like they say of them that reign'd Three Hundred Years: For in their Time (they say) the Year was made up of Four Months, every Four applicable to each of the Three Seasons of the Solar Year, that is to say, Spring, Summer and Winter; which is the reason that some of the Grecians call Years, Horas, Seasons; and Historical Annals, Horography.
The Egyptians moreover among their Fables report, that in the Time of Isis, there were Men of vast Bodies, whom the Grecians call Giants, and whom they place in their Temples in prodigious Shapes, who are whipt and scourg'd by them that Sacrifice to Osiris. Some idly give forth, that they sprang from the Earth, when at first it gave Being to Living Creatures. Others report, that from many extraordinary things done by Men of strong Bodies, the Fables and Stories of Giants arose. But in this most agree, that for the War they rais'd against the Gods, Jupiter and Osiris, they were all destroy'd.
It was a Law likewise (they say) in Egypt, against the Custom of all other Nations, that Brothers and Sisters might Marry one with another, which accordingly was prosperous and successful in the Marriage of Isis, who marry'd her Brother Osiris, and after his Death made a Vow never to marry any other Man; and after she had reveng'd her Husbands Death upon his Murderers, she govern'd the Kingdom, and reign'd justly all her Days; and did good universally to all sorts of People, obliging them with many and extraordinary Benefits and Advantages. And for her sake it is a Custom among them, that they honour a Queen, and allow her more Power and Authority than a King: And in their Contracts of Marriage Authority is given to the Wife over her Husband, at which time the Husbands promise to be obedient to their Wives in all things.
Isis was Buri'd at Memphis, where at this day her Shrine is to be seen in the Grove of Vulcan: Although some affirm, that these Gods lie Bury'd in the Isle of Nile, at Philas, as is before said. Neither am I ignorant that some Writers say, their Sepulchers are at Arabia; whence Dionysus is call'd Nysaeus; there they say is a Pillar erected to each of the Deities with Inscriptions of Sacred Letters upon them; in one of which, that belonging to Isis, are these Words—
I am Isis, Queen of all this Country, the Scholar of Mercury: What Laws I have made, none ought to disannul. I am the Eldest Daughter of the Youngest God, Saturn. I am the Wife and Sister of King Osiris. I am she that first found out Corn for Man's use. I am the Mother of King Orus. I am she that arises in the Dog-Star. The City Bubastus was built in memory of me. Farewel, rejoyce O Egypt that was my Nurse, that brought me up.
Upon Osiris's Pillar are these that follow.
My Father was Saturn, the Youngest of all the God's. I am Osiris, that led an Army through all the Nations, as far as to the Deserts of India, and in the Countries lying to the North, as far as to the Head Springs of the River Ister; and to other Parts, as far as to the Ocean. I am the Eldest Son of Saturn, a Branch of a famous noble Stock, Cosin German to the Day. There's not a Place in the World where I have not been; and what I have discover'd, I have imparted to all.
So much of the Inscriptions on the Pillars (they say) may be read, the rest is defac'd and worn out through length of Time. Thus therefore many disagree concerning the Sepulchres of these Gods, because the Priests, who were secretly instructed in the perfect Knowledge of these matters, would not suffer them to be spread abroad, out of fear of those Punishments that such were liable unto, who reveal'd the Secrets of the Gods.
Page 13 They report, that afterwards many Colonies out of Egypt were dispers'd over all parts of the World: That Belus (who was taken to be the Son of Neptune and Lybra) led a Colony into the Province of Babylon, and fixing his Seat at the River Euphrates, Consecrated Priests, and according to the custom of the Egyptians, freed them from all publick Taxes and Impositions. These Priests the Babylonians call Caldeans, who observe the Motions of the Stars, in imitation of the Priests, Naturalists and Astrologers of Egypt. That Danaus likewise took from thence another Colony, and planted them in Argos, the most ancient City almost of all Greece. And that the People of Cholchos, in Pontus, and the Jews lying between Arabia and Syria, were Colonies out of Egypt; and that therefore it is an ancient Custom among these Nations, to Circumcise all their Male Children after the Rites and Customs receiv'd from the Egyptians. That the Athenians likewise are a Colony of the Saits, which came out of Egypt, and are their Kindred, they endeavour to prove by these Arguments; (That is to say) That they only of all the Greeks call the City Astu, from Astu a City among those People of the Saits: And that for the better Government of the Commonwealth, they divide their People into the same Ranks and Degrees as they in Egypt do, to wit, into Three Orders; the first of which are call'd Eupatride, imploy'd for the most part in studying the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and are advanc'd to the highest Offices and Places of Preferment in the State, as the Priests of Egypt are. The Second Order of Men are the Rustick and Country People, who are to be Souldiers, and take up Arms upon all occasions for the Defence of their Country, like to those who are call'd Husbandmen in Egypt, who furnish out Soldiers there. In the Third Rank are reckon'd Tradesmen and Artificers, who commonly bore all the necessary and publick Offices, which agrees exactly with the Orders and Usage among the Egyptians.
They say likewise, that there were some of the Athenian Generals that came out of Egypt. For they affirm, that Peteos the Father of Menestheus, who was a Captain in the Trojan War, was an Egyptian, and afterwards was King of Athens. That the Athenians had not Wit enough to find out the true reason why Two Natures were ascrib'd to him; for every Man knows that he was call'd Half a Beast, that is, half a Man, and half a Beast; and the true ground was, because he was a Member of Two several Commonwealths, a Grecian and a Barbarian.Erechtheus likewise, one of the Kings of Athens, they say was an Egyptian, which they prove by these Arguments, viz. That whereas there was a great Drought (as all confess) almost over all the World, except Egypt only (because of the peculiar property of the Place) which destroy'd both Men and the Fruits of the Earth together, Erechtheus transported a great quantity of Corn to Athens out of Egypt, because they and the Egyptians were of the same Kindred; with which Kindness the Citizens were so affected, that they advanc'd him to the Kingdom. After which, he instituted the Festivals, and taught the Egyptian Rites and Mysteries of Ceres in Eleusina.
They say moreover, that it's reported upon good ground, that the Goddess her self came into Attica at that time when Corn and other goodly Fruit in her Name were transported thither; and that therefore it seem'd as if she had again renew'd the Invention of Seed, as she did at the beginning. Likewise that the Athenians themselves confess, that in the Reign of Erichtheus, when the Drought had burnt up all the Fruits of the Earth, Ceres came thither and gave them Corn. And that the Rites and Mysteries of this Goddess, were then begun in Eleusina, and that the Sacrifices and ancient Ceremonies, both of the Athenians and Egyptians, are one and the same: And that they took the original of their Eumolphide from the Egyptian Priests, and their Heralds from their Pastophori. Further, that only the Grecians swear by the Name of Isis, and that in all their Manners and Customs, they are altogether like the Egyptians. These and many other such like Arguments they bring to maintain this Colony, more (I think) out of Ambition, because of the Glory and Renown of that City, than any ground of Truth they have for their Assertion. To conclude, the Egyptians say, that many Parts of the World were planted by their Ancestors, by Colonies sent from thence, by means of the State and Grandure of their Kings, and the vast number of their People. Which Reports not being supported with sufficient Arguments, nor attested by credible Authors, we think 'em not worthy of any further Account. But thus much we thought fit to say of the Egyptian Theology.
The Description of Egypt. Of the Lake of Serbon. The Nature of the River Nile. The Cataracts; the Mouths of Nile. The Fruits of Egypt. The Beasts, Crocodile, &c. Several Opinions concerning the Inundation of Nile.
AND now we shall endeavour to treat distinctly of the Country it self, and the River Nile, and other things worthy of Remark. The Land of Egypt almost all lies wholly to the South, and is naturally fortify'd, and the most pleasant Country of any of the Kingdoms round about it. For on the West it's defended by the Desarts of Libya, full of Wild Beasts, running out a vast way in Length; where the Passage is both difficult, and extreamly hazardous, through want of Water, and other Provision. On the South it's inviron'd with the Cataracts of Nile, and the Mountains adjoyning. For from the Country of the Troglodites, and the higher Parts of Ethiopia, for the space of Five Thousand and Five Hundred Furlongs, there's no passing either by Land or Water, without such a measure of Provision as a King himself could only be furnish'd with. Those Parts towards the East, are partly secur'd by the River, and partly surrounded by the Deserts and by the Marishes call'd the Barathra. For there's a Lake between Coelo-Syria and Egypt, very narrow, but exceeding deep, even to a Wonder, two Hundred Furlongs in length, call'd Serbon: If any through Ignorance approach it, they are lost irrecoverably; for the Channel being very narrow, like a Swadling-band, and compass'd round with vast heaps of Sand, great quantities of it are cast into the Lake, by the continu'd Southern Winds, which so cover the Surface of the Water, and make it to the view so like unto Dry Land, that it cannot possibly be distinguish'd; and therefore many unacquainted with the nature of the Place, by missing their way, have been there swallow'd up, together with whole Armies. For the Sand being trod upon, sinks down and gives way by degrees, and like a malicious Cheat, deludes and decoys them that come upon it, till too late when they see the mischief they are likely to fall into, they begin to support and help one another, but without any possibility either of returning back, or escaping certain Ruin; for sinking into the Gulf, they are neither able to swim (the Mud preventing all motion of the Body) nor in a capacity to wade out, having nothing firm to support them for that purpose; for Sand and Water being mixt together, the Nature of both is thereby so chang'd, that there's neither fording, nor passing over it by Boat. Being brought therefore to this pass, without the least possibility of help to be afforded 'em, they go together with the Sand to the Bottom of the Gulf, at the very Brink of the Bog; and so the Place agreeable to its nature is call'd Barathrum.
Having spoken of the Three Boundaries of Egypt, by which it is distinguish'd from the rest of the Continent, we now proceed to the next.
The Fourth side is near surrounded with a vast Sea, without any Harbours, being a very long and tedious Voyage, and very difficult to find any place of Landing. For from Parcetonium in Africa, to Joppa in Coelo-Syria, for the space almost of Five Thousand Furlongs, there's not one safe Harbour to be found, except Pharus. Then again all along the Coasts of Egypt, the Sea is full of Rocks and Sands, not discernible by Mariners unacquainted with the Places; so that when they look upon themselves as safe, and to have escaped the danger of the Seas, and make with great joy to Land (wanting skill to steer aright) they are on a sudden and unexpectedly shipwrackt. Others inconsiderately, because they cannot see the Land, in regard it lies so low, are carried either into the Bogs, or to the Deserts. And in this manner is Egypt naturally guarded on every side. It's of a long Form or Shape; that part that lies along to the Sea-Coast stretches forth it self in length Two Thousand Furlongs; but to the South it runs almost Six Thousand Furlongs. It was anciently the most Populous Country in the World, and at this day not inferior to any. It was formerly full of Famous Towns, and had in it above Eighteen Thousand Cities, as is to be seen registred in their Sacred Records: And in the time of Ptolemy Lagus, there were reckon'd above Page 15 Three Thousand, which remain still to this day. Once they say in a General Account taken of all the Inhabitants, they amounted to Seven Millions; and at this time are no less than Three Millions of People. And therefore they say that their Kings by the help of such a Multitude, left behind them in their great and wonderful Works, eternal Monuments of their state and grandure; which we shall by and by distinctly treat of: But at present we shall speak of the nature of Nile, and of the property of the Soyl.
Nile runs from the South towards the North from Spring-heads hitherto unknown, for they are in the utmost Borders of Ethiopia, where by reason of the vast Deserts, and Extremity of Heat, there's no coming. It's the greatest of all other Rivers, and runs through many Countries, and therefore has many large Turnings and Windings, sometimes making its Way to the East and Arabia, and then again to the West and Lybia. For it runs down from the Mountains of Ethiopia, till it empties it self into the Sea, at least Twelve Thousand Furlongs, accounting the several Windings it makes in the way. In its Course it makes many Islands; amongst many others in Ethiopia, one remarkable for its Greatness, call'd Meroes, Two and Twenty Furlongs broad. But in the lower Places its swelling Waves grow narrower, and the Current divides it self into Two Channels towards the Continents that lye on either side the Island. One of the Currents bends towards Africa, and is at length swallow'd up in a Bed of Sand of an incredible Depth: The other makes its Course towards Arabia, on the other side, and falls into deep Guts and vast Bogs, inhabited round by divers Nations; entring at last into Egypt, it keeps no direct Course, but turns and winds here and there in some Places Ten Furlongs in breadth, in others less, sometimes running towards the East, then to the West, and sometimes back again to the South. For Mountains stand on both sides the River, and take up a large Tract of Ground; and the River forcing it self with great violence against strait and narrow Precipices, the Water is driven back, and flows over the Neighbouring Fields; and after it has run a considerable way towards the South, it returns at length to its natural Course. And though this River is thus remarkable above all others, yet this is especially observable in it, that its Stream runs calm and smooth, without any violent Surges, or tempestuous Waves, except at the Cataracts; a Place of Ten Furlongs being so call'd, running down in a Precipice, in a straight and narrow Passage amongst steep Rocks; the whole is a rugged shelvy Gulf, where there lye many great Stones, like huge Rocks. The Water dashing violently against these Rocks, is beaten back, and rebounds the contrary way, by which are made wonderful Whirlpools, and by the repeated Influx, the whole Place is cover'd with Froth and Foam, to the no small amazement of the Beholders: For the River there runs down with as quick and violent a Current, as an Arrow out of a Bow. Sometimes it happens that (these Rocks, and the whole Gulf being cover'd with the vast quantity of Waters of the Nile) some Ships driven with contrary Winds are hurried down the Cataract, but there's no possibility of Sailing up against it, the force of the Stream baffling all the Art of Man. There are many Cataracts of this kind, but the greatest is that in the Confines of Ethiopia and Egypt.
How the River Nile makes several Islands near Ethiopia (amongst which Meroe is the chief) is before declar'd. In this Island is a Famous City of the same Name, which Cambyses built, and call'd it after the Name of his Mother Meroe. This Island is said to be of the shape of a Shield, and for Greatness exceeding all the rest of the Islands in those Parts, being Three Thousand Furlongs in Length, and a Thousand in Breadth, having in it many Cities, of which Meroe is the Noblest. The Island is surrounded towards the Coasts of Lybia with vast Heaps of Sand, all along close to the River, and towards Arabia run along steep rocky Mountains. It's said there are in it Mines of Gold, Silver, Iron and Brass, a great number of Ebony Trees, and all sorts of precious Stones. To conclude, there are so many Islands made by this River, that it's scarce credible. For besides those Islands in that part of Egypt call'd Delta, there are (they say) Seven Hundred, some of which the Ethiopians inhabit, and sow with Millet; others are so pester'd with Serpents, Baboons, and all Kinds of hurtful Beasts, that it's dangerous to come into them.
Page 16 The River Nile parting it self into several Channels in Egypt, makes that part call'd Delta, so call'd from the shape resembling that Greek Letter. The Two Sides of this Delta are fashion'd by the Two extream Branches of the River; the Foot of this Letter is the Sea, where the Seven Mouths of Nile disgorge themselves. For there are Seven Places call'd Mouths, through which it empties itself into the Ocean. The first lying to the most Eastward Channel, is at Pelusium, call'd Pelusaicum; the Second Taniticum; the Third Mendesium; the Fourth Phatniticum; the Fifth Sebenyticum; the Sixth Bolbitinum, and the last Canopicum or Herculeum, as some call it. There are some other Mouths made by Art, of which it's not material to write. At every of the Mouths is a City built on either side of the River, defended with strong Guards and Bridges on each Bank. From Pelusaicum as far as to the Arabian Gulf, and the Red Sea, is a Canal cut out. Necos the Son of Psameticus, was the First that began this Work, and after him Darius the Persian carry'd it on, but left it unfinish'd, being told by some that if he cut it through the Isthmus, all Egypt would be drown'd, for that the Red Sea lay higher than Egypt. The last Attempt was made by Ptolemy the Second, who cut a Sluce cross over the Isthmus in a more convenient Place, which he open'd when he had a mind to Sail down that way, and then presently after shut up again; which Contrivance prov'd very useful and serviceable. The River which runs through this Cut is call'd Ptolemy, after the Name of the Maker. Where it falls into the Sea, there's a City built call'd Arsinoe. Delta is of the shape of Sicily: Both sides are Seven Hundred and Fifty Furlongs in length, and the Foot which lies along the Sea-Coast, is Thirteen Hundred Furlongs.
This Island has in it many Dikes and Sluces cut by Art, and is the most sweet and pleasantest part of Egypt; for being inricht and water'd by the River, it produces all sorts of Grain and other Fruits; and by the Yearly overflowing of the River, the Face of the Ground is still continually renew'd, and the Inhabitants have an easie way to water it by means of a certain Engin, invented by Archimedes the Syracusian, which from its Form is call'd Choclia. And whereas the Nile flows gently over it, it brings along with it much Soyl, which resting in low and hollow Grounds, makes very rich Marishes. For in these Places grow Roots of several Tasts and Savours, and Fruits and Herbs of a singular nature and quality, which are very useful both to the Poor, and those that are Sick; for they do not only afford plentifully in every Place things for Food, but all other things necessary and useful for the Life of Man. There grows in great Plenty Lotus, of which the Egyptians make Bread for the nourishment of Man's Body. Here's likewise produc'd in plenty Ciborium, call'd the Egyptian Bean. Here are divers sorts of Trees, amongst which those call'd Persica, whose Fruit is of wonderful sweetness: This Plant was brought out of Ethiopia by the Persians, when Cambyses conquer'd these Places. The Sycamore (or Egyptian Fig-tree) some of them bear Mulberries, others a Fruit like unto Figs, and bear all the Year long; so that a Man may satisfie his Hunger at any time. After the falling of the Waters of the River, they gather the Fruits call'd Bates, which for their sweet and delightful Taste are at Entertainments served up at last Course as delicious Deserts.
The Egyptians make a Drink of Barley, call'd Zythus, for smell and sweetness of Taste not much inferior to Wine. They make a Liquor like Oyl for the feeding of their Lamps, of the Juice of a Plant which they call Cici. There are many other Plants which grow in Egypt of admirable use, which would be too tedious here to enumerate.
The River Nile breeds many Creatures of several Forms and Shapes, amongst which, Two are especially remarkable, the Crocodile and the Horse as it's call'd: Amongst these the Crocodile of the least Creature becomes the greatest; for it lays an Egg much of the bigness of that of a Goose, and after the young is hatcht, it grows to the length of Sixteen Cubits, and lives to the Age of a Man: It wants a Tongue, but has a Body naturally arm'd in a wonderful manner. For its Skin is cover'd all over with Scales of an extraordinary hardness; many sharp Teeth are rang'd on both sides its Jaws, and Two of them are much bigger than the rest. This Monster does not only devour Men, but other Creatures that come near the River. His Bites are sharp and destructive, and with his Claws he tears his Prey cruelly in Pieces, and what Wounds he makes, no Medicine or Application can heal. The Egyptians formerly catcht these Monsters with Hooks, baited with Page 17 raw Flesh; but of later times, they have us'd to take 'em with strong Nets like Fishes; sometimes they strike them on the Head with Forks of Iron, and so kill them. There's an infinite Multitude of these Creatures in the River and the Neighbouring Pools, in regard they are great Breeders, and are seldom kill'd. For the Crocodile is ador'd as a God by some of the Inhabitants; and for Strangers to hunt and destroy them is to no purpose, for their Flesh is not eatable. But Nature has provided relief against the increase of this destructive Monster; for the Ichneumon, as it's call'd (of the Bigness of a little Dog) running up and down near the Water-side, breaks all the Eggs laid by this Beast, whereever he finds them; and that which is most to be admir'd, is, that he does this not for Food or any other Advantage, but out of a natural Instinct for the meer Benefit of Mankind.
The Beast call'd the River Horse, is Five Cubits long, Four Footed, and cloven Hoof'd like to an Ox. He has Three Teeth or Tushes on either side his Jaw, appearing outwards larger than those of a Wild-Boar; as to his Ears, Tayl and his Neighing, he's like to a Horse. The whole Bulk of his Body is not much unlike an Elephant; his Skin is firmer and thicker almost than any other Beast. He lives both on Land and Water; in the Day time he lies at the Bottom of the River, and in the Night time comes forth to Land, and feeds upon the Grass and Corn. If this Beast were so fruitful as to bring forth Young every Year, he would undo the Husbandman, and destroy a great part of the Corn of Egypt. He's likewise by the help of many Hands often caught, being struck with Instruments of Iron; for when he is found, they hem him round with their Boats, and those on Board wound him with forked Instruments of Iron, cast at him as so many Darts; and having strong Ropes to the Irons, they fix in him, they let him go till he loses his Blood, and so dies: His Flesh is extraordinary hard, and of ill digestion. There's nothing in his inner Parts that can be eaten, neither his Bowels, nor any other of his Intrails.
Besides these before mention'd, Nile abounds with multitudes of all sorts of Fish; not only such as are fresh taken to supply the Inhabitants at hand, but an innumerable Number likewise which they salt up to send Abroad. To conclude, no River in the World is more Beneficial and Serviceable to Mankind, than Nile.
Its Inundation begins at the Summer Solstice, and increases till the Equinoctial in Autumn; during which time he brings in along with him new Soyl, and waters as well the Till'd and Improv'd Ground, as that which lies waste and untill'd, as long as it pleases the Husbandman; for the Water flowing gently and by degrees, they easily divert its Course, by casting up small Banks of Earth; and then by opening a Passage for it, as easily turn it over their Land again, if they see it needful. It's so very advantageous to the Inhabitants, and done with so little pains, that most of the Country People turn in their Cattel into the sow'd Ground to eat, and tread down the Corn, and Four or Five Months after they reap it. Some lightly run over the Surface of the Earth with a Plow, after the Water is fallen, and gain a mighty Crop without any great Cost or Pains: But Husbandry amongst all other Nations, is very laborious and chargable, only the Egyptians gather their Fruits with little Cost or Labour. That part of the Country likewise where Vines are planted after this watering by the Nile, yields a most plentiful Vintage. The Fields that after the Inundation are pastur'd by their Flocks, yield them this advantage, that the Sheep Yean twice in a Year, and are shorn as often. This Increase of the Nile is wonderful to Beholders, and altogether incredible to them that only hear the Report; for when other Rivers about the Solstice fall and grow lower all Summer long, this begins to increase, and continues to rise every day, till it comes to that height that it overflows almost all Egypt; and on the contrary in the same manner in the Winter Solstice, it falls by degrees till it wholly return into its proper Channel. And in regard the Land of Egypt lies low and Champain, the Towns, Cities and Country Villages that are built upon rising-ground (cast up by Art) look like the Islands of the Cyclades: Many of the Cattel sometimes are by the River intercepted, and so are drown'd; but those that fly to the higher Grounds are preserv'd. During the time of the Inundation, the Cattel are kept in the Country Towns and small Cottages, where they have Food and Fodder before laid up and prepar'd for them. But the common People now at liberty from all Imployments in the Field, indulge themselves Page 18 in Idleness, feasting every day, and giving themselves up to all sorts of Sports and Pleasures. Yet out of fear of the Inundation, a Watch Tower is built in Memphis, by the Kings of Egypt, where those that are imploy'd to take care of this concern, observing to what height the River rises, send Letters from one City to another, acquainting them how many Cubits and Fingers the River rises, and when it begins to decrease; and so the People coming to understand the Fall of the Waters, are freed from their fears, and all presently have a foresight what plenty of Corn they are like to have; and this Observation has been Registred from time to time by the Egyptians for many Generations.
There are great Controversies concerning the Reasons of the overflowing of Nile, and many both Philosophers and Historians have endeavour'd to declare the Causes of it, which we shall distinctly relate, neither making too long a Digression, nor omitting that which is so much banded and controverted. Of the Increase and Spring-heads of Nile, and of its emptying of it self at length into the Sea, and other properties peculiar to this River above all others, though it be the greatest in the World, yet some Authors have not dar'd to say the least thing: Some who have attempted to give their Reasons, have been very wide from the Mark. For as for Hellanicus, Cadmus, Hecataeus, and such like ancient Authors, they have told little but frothy Stories, and meer Fables. Herodotus above all other Writers very industrious, and well acquainted with General History, made it his Business to find out the Causes of these things, but what he says, is notwithstanding very doubtful, and some things seem to be repugnant and contradictory one to another. Thucydides and Xenophon, who have the reputation of faithful Historians, never so much as touch upon the Description of any Place in Egypt. But Ephorus and Theopompus, though they are very earnest in this matter, yet they have not in the least discover'd the Truth.
But it was through Ignorance of the Places, and not through Negligence, that they were all led into Error. For anciently none of the Grecians, till the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, ever went into Ethiopia, or so much as to the utmost Bounds of Egypt. For those Places were never frequented by Travellers, they were so hazardous, till that King marcht with a Grecian Army into those Parts, and so made a more perfect Discovery of the Country.
No Writer hitherto has pretended that he himself ever saw or heard of any one else that affirm'd he had seen the Spring-heads of Nile: All therefore amounting to no more but Opinion and Conjecture, the Priests of Egypt affirm that it comes from the Ocean, which flows round the whole Earth: But nothing that they say is upon any solid grounds, and they resolve Doubts by things that are more doubtful; and to prove what they say, they bring Arguments that have need to be proved themselves.
But the Troglodites (otherways call'd Molgii) whom the scorching Heat forc'd to remove from the higher Parts into those lower Places, say, that there are some Signs whence a Man may rationally conclude, that the River Nile rises from Streams which run from many Fountains or Spring-heads, and meet at last in one Channel, and therefore to be the most fruitful and richest River of any that is known in the World.
The Inhabitants of the Isle of Meroe (who are most to be credited upon this account) are far from inventing so much as any probable Arguments; and though they live near to the Place in controversy, are so far from giving any certain account of this matter, that they call Nile, Astapus, which in the Greek Language, signifies Water that issues out of a Place of Darkness; so that they give a Name to the River to denote their Ignorance of the Place whence it springs: But that seems the truest Reason to me, that looks to be furthest from Fiction and study'd Contrivance. Yet I am not ignorant, that Herodotus who bounds Lybia both on the East and West with this River, does ascribe the exact Knowledge of it to the Africans, call'd Nasamones, and says, that Nile rises from a certain Lake, and runs through a large Tract of Ground down all along through Ethiopia: But neither are the Sayings of the Africans in this behalf (as not altogether agreeable to Truth,) nor the affirmation of the Writer (who proves not what he says) to be of absolute credit. But enough concerning the Spring-heads and Course of Nile, let us now venture to treat of the Causes of the Risings of this River.
Page 19Thales, who is reckon'd one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, is of Opinion that the Etesean Winds that beat fiercely upon the Mouth of the River, give a check and stop to the Current, and so hinder it from falling into the Sea, upon which the River swelling, and its Channel fill'd with Water, at length overflows the Country of Egypt, which lies flat and low. Though this seem a plausible Reason, yet it may be easily disprov'd. For if it were true what he says, then all the Rivers which run into the Sea against the Etesean Winds would overflow in like manner; which being never known in any other part of the World, some other Reason and more agreeable to Truth must of necessity be sought for. Anaxagoras the Philosopher ascribes the Cause to the melting of the Snow in Ethiopia, whom the Poet Euripides (who was his Scholar) follows, saying thus—
Neither is it any hard Task to confute this Opinion, since it's apparent to all, that by reason of the parching Heats, there's no Snow in Ethiopia at that time of the Year. For in these Countries there's not the least Sign either of Frost, Cold or any other effects of Winter, especially at the time of the overflowing of Nile. And suppose there be abundance of Snow in the higher Parts of Ethiopia, yet what is affirm'd is certainly false: For every River that is swell'd with Snow, fumes up in cold Fogs, and thickens the Air; but about Nile, only above all other Rivers, neither Mists gather, nor are there any cold Breezes, nor is the Air gross and thick. Herodotus says, that Nile is such in its own nature, as it seems to be in the time of its Increase; for that in Winter, when the Sun moves to the South, and runs its daily Course directly over Africa, it exhales so much Water out of Nile, that it decreases against Nature; and in Summer when the Sun returns to the North, the Rivers of Greece, and the Rivers of all other Northern Countries fall and decrease; and therefore that it is not so strange for Nile about Summer time to increase, and in Winter to fall and grow lower. But to this it may be answer'd, that if the Sun exhale so much moisture out of Nile in Winter time, it would do the like in other Rivers in Africa, and so they must fall as well as Nile, which no where happens throughout all Africa, and therefore this Author's Reason is frivolous; for the Rivers of Greece rise not in the Winter, by reason of the remoteness of the Sun, but by reason of the great Rains that fall at that time.
Democritus the Abderite says, that the Northern Countries, and not those towards the South (as Anaxagoras and Euripides say) are subject to Snow; for that it's clear and evident to every Body, that in the Northern Parts, Drifts and Heaps of Snow lye congeal'd at the time of the Winter Solstice; but in Summer, the Ice being melted by the heat of the Sun, the Land becomes very wet, which causes many thick Mists to appear upon the Hills from the Vapours rising from the Earth. These Vapours, he says, are driven about by the Etesean Winds, till they fall upon the highest Mountains, which are (as he affirms in Ethiopia) and by the violent impression they make upon the Tops of these Mountains, great Storms and Showers of Rain are occasion'd, which about the time of the Etesean Winds cause the River to rise. But if any will diligently observe the time and season of the Year when this falls out, he may easily answer this Argument; for Nile begins to swell at the time of the Summer Solstice, when there are no Etesean Winds; and after the Autumnal Equinox, when those Winds are past, it falls again. Inasmuch therefore as certain Experience to the contrary, answers all Arguments be they never so probable, the Mans diligence and ingenuity is to be commended, but his Affirmations and Opinions by no means to be rely'd upon: And I wave this, that it's evident that the Etesean Winds come as often from the West, as from the North. For not only the North-East Winds call'd Aparctie, but those of the North-West call'd Argeste, go under the name of the Etesean Winds. And whereas he Page 20 affirms that the greatest Mountains are in Ethiopia, as it wants proof, so likewise all grounds for credit and belief, as is evident from the thing itself.
Ephorus, who gives the last account of the thing, endeavours to ascertain the Reason, but seems not to find out the Truth.
The whole Land of Egypt (says he) is cast up from the River, and the Soyl is of a loose and spungy nature, and has in it many large Clifts and hollow Places, wherein are abundance of Water, which in the Winter-time is frozen up, and in the Summer issues out on every side, like Sweat from the Pores, which occasions the River Nile to rise. This Writer does not only betray his own Ignorance of the nature of Places in Egypt, that he never saw them himself, but likewise that he never was rightly inform'd by any that was acquainted with them. For if the overflowing of Nile should proceed from Egypt it self, it could not flow above the Land of Egypt, where it passes through Rocks and Mountainous Places. For as it takes its Course through Ethiopia for above the space of Six Thousand Furlongs, it is at its full height before ever it reach Egypt, and therefore if the River Nile lye lower than the Caverns of congested Earth, those Clefts and hollow Places must be above, towards the Superficies of the Earth, in which it is impossible so much Water should be contain'd. And if the River lye higher than those spongy Caverns, it is not possible that from hollow Places, much lower than the River, the Water should rise higher than the River. Lastly, who can imagin that Waters issuing out of Holes and hollow Parts of the Earth, should raise the River to such a height, as to overflow almost all the Land of Egypt? But I let pass this vain Imagination of Casting up the Soyl, and lodging of Waters in the Bowels of the Earth, being so easily to be confuted. The River Meander hath cast up a great Tract of Land in Asia, whereas at the time of the Rising of Nile, nothing of that kind in the least can be seen.
In the same manner the River Archelous in Arcadia, and Cephesus in Beotia, which runs down from Phocea, have cast up great quantities of Earth, by both which the Writer is convicted of falsity: And indeed no Man is to expect any certainty from Ephorus, who may be palpably discern'd not to make it his business in many things to declare the Truth. The Philosophers indeed in Memphis have urg'd strong Reasons of the Increase of Nile, which are hard to be confuted; and though they are improbable, yet many agree to them. For they divide the Earth into Three Parts, one of which is that wherein we inhabit; another quite contrary to these Places in the Seasons of the Year; the Third lying between these Two, which they say is uninhabitable by reason of the scorching heat of the Sun; and therefore if Nile should overflow in the Winter-time, it would be clear and evident, that its Source would arise out of our Zone, because then we have the most Rain: But on the contrary being that it rises in Summer, it's very probable that in the Country opposite to us it's Winter-time, where then there's much Rain, and that those Floods of Water are brought down thence to us: And therefore that none can ever find out the Head-Springs of Nile, because the River has its Course through the opposite Zone; which is uninhabited. And the exceeding sweetness of the Water, they say, is the Confirmation of this Opinion; for passing through the Torrid Zone, the Water is boil'd, and therefore this River is sweeter than any other in the World; for Heat does naturally dulcorate Water. But this Reason is easily refuted; for its plainly impossible that the River should rise to that height, and come down to us from the opposite Zone; especially if it be granted that the Earth is round. But if any yet shall be so obstinate as to affirm it is so as the Philosophers have said, I must in short say it's against and contrary to the Laws of Nature.
For being they hold Opinions that in the nature of the things can hardly be disprov'd, and place an inhabitable part of the World between us and them that are opposite to us; they conclude, that by this device, they have made it impossible, and out of the reach of the Wit of Man to confute them. But it is but just and equal, that those who affirm any thing positively, should prove what they say, either by good Authority or strength of Reason. How comes it about that only the River Nile should come down to us from the other opposite Zone? Have we not other Rivers that this may be as well apply'd to? As to the Causes alledg'd for the sweetness of the Water, they are absur'd: For if the Water be boyl'd with the parching Heat, and thereupon becomes sweet, it would have no productive Page 21 quality, either of Fish or other Kinds of Creatures and Beasts; for all Water whose Nature is chang'd by Fire, is altogether incapable to breed any living thing, and therefore being that the Nature of Nile contradicts this decoction and boyling of the Water, we conclude that the Causes alledg'd of its increase are false.
The Opinion of Oenopides of Chios is this: The Waters (say he) that are under the Earth in Summer-time, are cold, and warm in the Winter, as we see by experience in deep Wells; for in a sharp Winter they are the least cold, but in Summer they are the coldest of any other time; and therefore, saith he, there's good reason that Nile in the Winter should grow low and contracted, because the Heat in the Bowels of the Earth exhales much of the Water, which cannot be supply'd, in regard no Rains fall in Egypt. But in Summer-time, when the Waters that lye deep in the Earth are no longer exhal'd, then the Channel of the River, according to the order of Nature, fills without any obstruction. But to this it may be answer'd, that many Rivers in Africa, whose Mouths lye parallel with this River, and run the like Course, yet overflow not like Nile. For on the contrary they rise in Winter, and fall in Summer, which clearly evinces his Falsity, who endeavours with a shew of Reason to oppose the Truth. But to the true cause, Agartharchides of Cnidus comes nearest. For he says, that in the Mountainous parts of Ethiopia, there are Yearly continual Rains from the Summer Solstice to the Equinox in Autumn, and therefore there's just cause for Nile to be low in the Winter, which then flows only from its own natural Spring-heads, and to overflow in Summer through the abundance of Rains. And though none hitherto have been able to give a Reason of these Inundations, yet he says his Opinion is not altogether to be rejected; for there are many things that are contrary to the Rules of Nature, for which none are able to give any substantial Reason. That which happens in some parts of Asia, he says, gives some confirmation to his Opinion. For in the Confines of Scythia, near Mount Caucasus, after the Winter is over, he affirms, that abundance of Snow falls every Year for many Days together: And that in the Northern Parts of India, at certain Times, there falls abundance of Hail, and of an incredible Bigness: And that near the River Hydaspis; in Summer-time, it rains continually; and the same happens in Ethiopia for many Days together; and that this disorder of the Air whirling about, occasions many Storms of Rain in Places near adjoyning; and that therefore it's no wonder if the Mountainous Parts of Ethiopia, which lies much higher than Egypt, are soakt with continual Rains, wherewith the River being fill'd, overflows; especially since the natural Inhabitants of the Place affirm, that thus it is in their Country. And though these things now related, are in their nature contrary to those in our own Climates, yet we are not for that Reason to disbelieve them. For with us the South Wind is cloudy and boysterous, whereas in Ethiopia it's calm and clear; and that the North Winds in Europe are fierce and violent, but in those Regions low and almost insensible.
But however (after all) though we could heap up variety of Arguments against all these Authors concerning the Inundation of Nile, yet those which we have before alledg'd shall suffice, lest we should transgress those Bounds of Brevity which at the first we propos'd to our selves. Having therefore divided this Book, because of the Largeness of it, into Two Parts (having before determin'd to keep within moderate Bounds) we shall now end the first part of this Treatise, and continue in the other, those things that are further remarkable in Egypt coherent with those before, beginning with the Actions of the Kings of Egypt, and the antient way of Living among the Egyptians.
The First way of Living of the Egyptians: Gods and Demy-Gods their Reigns in Egypt. The antient Kings of Egypt, Menis, &c. Their several Works. Thebes built by Busiris. The stately Sepulchers, Oblisks and Temples there. A Description of Osimanduas's Sepulcher. Memphis built by Uchoreus. Meris's Lake. Sesostris or Sesoosis his famous Expedition, and great Works.
THE First Book of Diodorus is divided into Two Parts by reason of the Greatness of it; the First whereof is as a Preface to the whole Work, and in which an Account is given of what the Egyptians say concerning the Beginning of the World, of the first Creation of the Universe, and of those Gods that built Cities in Egypt, and call'd them after their own Names; of the First Men, and their antient way of Living; of the Worship of the Gods, and the building of Temples by the Egyptians. Moreover of the Situation of Egypt, and what strange things are related of Nile; the Causes of its Inundation, and the various Opinions of Philosophers and Historians concerning it: Wherein likewise is set down the Confutations of the several Writers. In this we shall handle and go through those matters that have a dependance upon the former.
After we have distinctly set forth the antient way of Living among the Egyptians, we shall then begin with their first Kings, and declare the Acts of every one of them successively down to Amasis.
They say the Egyptians in antient Times fed upon nothing but Roots and Herbs, and Colewort Leaves, which grew in the Fens and Bogs, having first try'd the Taste of them: But above all and most commonly, they fed upon the Herb call'd Agrostis, because it was sweeter than any other, and was very nourishing to Mens Bodies: And it's very certain, that the Cattel much covet it, and grow very fat with it. At this Day therefore Superstitious Persons in memory of its usefulness when they Sacrifice to the Gods, they worship them with their Hands full of this Herb: For they conceive Man from the frame of his Nature and frothy Constitution, to be a watery Creature, something resembling the Fenny and Marish Ground, and that he hath more need of moist than of dry Food. They say the Egyptians afterwards fell to another Course of Diet, and that was eating of Fish, wherewith they were plentifully supply'd by the River, especially after the Inundation; when it was return'd within its former Bounds: And they eat likewise the Flesh of some Cattel, and cloath'd themselves with their Skins. That they Page 23 made their Houses of Reeds, of which there are some Marks amongst the Shepherds of Egypt at this day, who care for no other Houses, but such like, which they say, serves their turn well enough. Afterwards in process of time, after many Ages, they fell to those Fruits which were made more apt and fit for Mans Food, amongst which was Bread made of Lotus, which invention some attribute to Isis, others to Menas, one of the antient Kings: The Priests indeed do make Hermes the Inventer of all Arts and Sciences, but say, that their Kings found out all things necessary for the Support of Mens lives; and therefore that Kingdoms antiently were not inheritable, but given to such as had been most useful and serviceable to the People, thereby either to induce their Kings to be kind and beneficial to all their Subjects, or for that (as most agreeable to the Truth) it was a Law registred in their Sacred Records commanding them so to do.
At the first (as some of them, i. e. the Priests have fabulously reported) the Gods and Demy-Gods reign'd in Egypt for the space almost of Eighteen Thousand Years, the last of which was Orus, the Son of Isis. Afterwards they say that Men reign'd there for the space of Fifteen Thousand Years, to the Hundred and Eightieth Olympiad, at which time I my self came into Egypt in the Reign of Ptolemy, who took upon him the Name of Dionysius the Younger. Most of their Kings were Natives of the Country. There were a few in the mean time that were Ethiopians, Persians and Macedonians. Four of them that were Ethiopians, reign'd not in a continued Line, but at several times, for the space of Thirty Six Years or thereabouts: From the time that Cambyses conquer'd the Nation, the Persians reign'd for the space of a Hundred Thirty Five Years, reckoning the Defections of the Egyptians within the time occasion'd by the intolerable Cruelty of the Governours, and their Impiety against the Egyptian Gods. Last of all, the Macedonians tul'd there for the space of Two Hundred Seventy Six Years. The rest of the Princes were Egyptians, to the number of Four Hundred and Seventy Men, and Five Women. The Egyptian Priests keep Registers in their Temples of all their Kings successively from many Generations past; to what Greatness and Majesty every one of them arriv'd; what were their particular Tempers and Inclinations, and their Actions in their several times. To write particularly of every one of them, as it would be tedious, so it would be altogether superfluous, inas much as many things concerning them are insignificant, and of no use; and therefore we have limited our selves to treat only of those Matters that are most remarkable and worthy remembrance.
After the Gods (they say) Menas was the First King of Egypt. He taught the People the Adoration of the Gods, and the manner of Divine Worship; how to adorn their Beds and Tables with rich Cloaths and Coverings, and was the first that brought in a delicate and sumptuous way of Living.
Many Ages after, reign'd Gnephachthus, Father of Bocchoris the Wise; who leading an Army into Arabia, through many barren and desert Places, his Provision fail'd, so that for the space of one day he was forc'd to take up with such mean Food as the common People, among whom he happen'd then to be, could supply him with, which he eat so heartily, and relisht with so much delight, as for the future he forbad all Excess and Luxury, and curs'd that King who first brought in that Sumptuous and Luxurious way of Living; and this change and alteration of Meat and Drink and Bedding was so delightful to him, that he order'd the Curse before mention'd, to be enter'd in the Sacred Records in the Temple of Jupiter at Thebes; which was the chief Reason why the Fame and Reputation of Menas became to be clouded in future Generations.
They say, the Posterity of Gnephachthus, to the number of Fifty Two, reign'd for the space of Fourteen Hundred Years; in which time there's found nothing worthy of Remark.
Afterwards reign'd Busiris, and Eight of his Posterity after him; the last of which (of the same Name with the First) built that great City which the Egyptians call Heliopolis, the Greeks Thebes; it was in Circuit a Hundred and Forty Furlongs, adorn'd with stately publick Buildings, magnificent Temples, and rich Donations and Revenues to Admiration; and that he built all the Private Houses, some Four, and others Five Stories high. And to sum up all in a word, made it not only the most beautiful and stateliest City of Egypt, but of all others in the World. The Fame therefore of the Riches and Grandure of this City was so nois'd abroad in every Place, that the Poet Homer takes notice of it in these Words—
Although there are some that say it had not a Hundred Gates; but that there were many large Porches to the Temples, whence the City was call'd Hecatompylus, a Hundred Gates, for many Gates: Yet that it was certain they had in it Twenty Thousand Chariots of War; for there were a Hundred Stables all along the River from Memphis to Thebes towards Lybia, each of which were capable to hold Two Hundred Horses, the Marks and Signs of which are visible at this day: And we have it related, that not only this King, but the succeeding Princes from time to time, made it their Business to beautify this City; for that there was no City under the Sun so adorn'd with so many and stately Monuments of Gold, Silver and Ivory, and multitudes of Colossus's and Obelisks, cut out of one entire Stone. For there were there Four Temples built, for Beauty and Greatness to be admir'd, the most ancient of which was in Circuit Thirteen Furlongs, and Five and Forty Cubits high, and had a Wall Four and Twenty Foot broad. The Ornaments of this Temple were suitable to its Magnificence, both for Cost and Workmanship. The Fabrick hath continu'd to our Time, but the Silver and the Gold, and Ornaments of Ivory and Precious Stones were carry'd away by the Persians, when Cambyses burnt the Temples of Egypt. At which time they say those Palaces at Persepolis and Susa, and other Parts of Media (famous all the World over) were built by the Persians, who brought over these rich Spoils into Asia, and sent for Workmen out of Egypt for that purpose. And it is reported, that the Riches of Egypt were then so great, that in the Rubbish and Cynders there were found and gather'd up above Three Hundred Talents of Gold, and of Silver no less than Two Thousand and Three Hundred.
There, they say, are the wonderful Sepulchers of the ancient Kings, which for State and Grandure far exceed all that Posterity can attain unto at this Day. The Egyptian Priests say that in their Sacred Registers, there are enter'd Seven and Forty of these Sepulchers; but in the Reign of Ptolemy Lagus, there remain'd only Seventeen, many of which were ruin'd and destroy'd when I my self came into those Parts, which was in the Hundred and Eightieth Olympiad. And these things are not only reported by the Egyptian Priests out of their Sacred Records, but many of the Gr•cians who travel'd to Thebes in the time of Ptolemy Lagus, and writ Histories of Egypt (among whom was Hecateus) agree with what we have related. Of the First Sepulchers (wherein they say the Women of Jupiter were buri'd) that of King Osymanduas was Ten Furlongs in Circuit, at the entrance of which they say, was a Portico of various colour'd Marble, in length Two Hundred Foot, and in height Five and Forty Cubits; thence going forward, you come into a foursquare Stone Gallery, every Square being Four Hundred Foot, supported instead of Pillars, with Beasts, each of one intire Stone, Sixteen Cubits high, carv'd after the antique manner. The Roof was intirely of Stone, each Stone Eight Cubits broad, with an Azure Sky, bespangl'd with Stars. Passing out of this Perystilion, you enter into another Portico much like the former, but more curiously carv'd, and with more variety. At the Entrance stand Three Statues, each of one intire Stone, the Workmanship of Memnon of Sienitas. One of these made in a fitting posture, is the greatest in all Egypt, the measure of his Foot exceeding Seven Cubits; the other Two much less than the former, reaching but to his Knees, the one standing on the right, and the other on the left, being his Daughter and Mother. This Piece is not only commendable for its greatness, but admirable for its Cut and Workmanship, and the Excellency of the Stone; in so great a Work there's not to be discern'd the least Flaw, or any other Blemish.
Upon it there is this Inscription—
I am Osimanduas King of Kings; if any would know how great I am, and where I lye, let him excel me in any of my Works.
There was likewise at this Second Gate, another Statue of his Mother, by her self, of one Stone, Twenty Cubits in height; upon her Head were plac'd Three Crowns, to denote she was both the Daughter, Wife and Mother of a King. Near to this Portico they say there was another Gallery or Piazzo, more remarkable than the former, in which were various Sculptures representing his Wars with the Bactrians, who had revolted from him, against whom (it's said) he march'd with Four Hundred Thousand Foot, and Twenty Thousand Horse; which Army he divided into Four Bodies, and appointed his Sons Generals of the whole.
In the first Wall might be seen the King assaulting a Bulwark, inviron'd with the River, and fighting at the Head of his Men against some that make up against him, assisted with a Lion in a terrible manner, which some affirm is to be taken of a true and real Lion, which the King bred up tame, which went along with him in all his Wars, and by his great strength ever put the Enemy to flight. Others make this Construction of it, that the King being a Man of extraordinary Courage and strength, he was willing to trumpet forth his own praises, setting forth the Bravery of his own Spirit, by the representation of a Lion.
In the Second Wall was carv'd the Captives dragg'd after the King, represented without Hands and Privy Members; which was to signifie that they were of effeminate Spirits, and had no Hands when they came to fight.
The Third Wall represented all sorts of Sculptures and curious Images, in which were set forth the King's sacrificing of Oxen, and his Triumphs in that War.
In the middle of the Peristylion, open to the Air at the top, was rear'd an Altar of shining Marble, of excellent Workmanship, and for largeness to be admir'd.
In the last Wall were Two Statues, each of one intire Stone, Seven and Twenty Cubits high: Near to which Three Passages open'd out of the Peristylion, into a stately Room supported with Pillars like to a Theater for Musick; every side of the Theater was Two Hundred Foot Square. In this there were many Statues of Wood, representing the Pleaders and Spectators looking upon the Judges that gave Judgment. Of these there were Thirty carv'd upon one of the Walls. In the middle sat the Chief Justice, with the Image of Truth hanging about his Neck, with his Eyes clos'd, having many Books lying before him: This signify'd that a Judge ought not to take any Bribes, but ought only to regard the Truth and Merits of the Cause.
Next adjoyning was a Gallery full of divers Apartments, in which were all sorts of Delicate Meats ready drest up. Near hereunto is represented the King himself, curiously carv'd and painted in glorious Colours, offering Gold and Silver to the Gods; as much as he yearly receiv'd out of the Gold and Silver Mines. The Sum was there inscrib'd (according to the Rate of Silver) to amount unto Thirty Two Millions of Minas. Next hereunto was the Sacred Library, whereon was inscrib'd these Words, viz. The Cure of the Mind. Adjoyning to this were the Images of all the Gods of Egypt, to every one of whom the King was making Offerings peculiarly belonging to each of them, that Osiris and all his Associates who were plac'd at his Feet, might understand his Piety towards the Gods, and his Righteousness towards Men. Next to the Library was a stately Room, wherein were Twenty Beds to eat upon, richly adorn'd; in this House were the Images of Jupiter and Juno, together with the Kings: And here it's suppos'd the King's Body lies inter'd: Round the Room are many Apartments, wherein are to be seen in curious Painting, all the Beasts that are accounted Sacred in Egypt. Thence are Ascents to the top of the whole Monument of the Sepulcher, which being mounted, appears a Border of Gold round the Tomb of Three Hundred Sixty Five Cubits in Compass, and a Cubit thick; within the Division of every Cubit, were the several Days of the Year ingraven, with the natural rising and setting of the Stars and their Significations, according to the Observations of the Egyptian Astrologers. This Border, they say, was carry'd away by Cambyses and the Persians, when he conquer'd Egypt. In this manner they describe the Sepulcher of King Osimanduas,Page 26 which seems far to exceed all others both for Magnificence and Curiosity of Workmanship.
The Thebans boast they were the most antient Philosophers and Astrologers of any People of the World, and the first that found out exact Rules for the improvement both of Philosophy and Astrology, the Situation of their Country being such as gave them an Advantage above others, more clearly to discern the rising and setting of the Stars: And that the Months and Years are best and most properly order'd and dispos'd by them; for they measure their Days according to the Motion of the Sun, and not of the Moon; and account Thirty Days to every Month, and add Five Days and a quarter to every Twelve Months; and by this means they compleat the whole Year; but they add no intercalary Months, nor substract any Days, as it is the Custom of many of the Greeks. But these of Thebes seem most accurately to have observ'd the Eclipses of the Sun and Moon, and from them do so manage their Prognostications, that they certainly foretel every particular Event.
The Eighth of this King's Race, call'd after the Name of his Father Ʋchoreus, built Memphis, the most Famous City of Egypt. For he chose the most convenient Place for it in all the Country, where Nile divides it self into several Branches, and makes that part of the Country call'd Delta, so nam'd from the shape of the Greek Letter Delta, which it resembles. The City being thus conveniently situated at the Head of the River, commands all the Shipping that sail up it. He built it in Circuit a Hundred and Fifty Furlongs, and made it exceeding strong and commodious in this manner: For Nile flowing round the City, and at the time of its inundation covering all round on the South Side, he casts up a mighty Rampart of Earth, both for a Defence to the City against the raging of the River, and as a Bulwark against an Enemy at Land; on every other side likewise he dug a broad and deep Trench, which received the violent Surges of the River, and fill'd every Place round the Rampart with Water, which fortify'd the City to Admiration.
This Place was so commodiously pitcht upon by the Builder, that most of the Kings after him prefer'd it before Thebes, and remov'd the Court thence to this Place: From that time therefore the Magnificence of Thebes began to decrease, and Memphis to increase to the Times of Alexander King of Macedon, who built a City call'd after his own Name, near the Sea, and planted it with Inhabitants, which all the succeeding Kings of Egypt still made it their business to inlarge: For some so beautify'd it with Royal Palaces, some with Ports and Arsenals, and others with magnificent Buildings and rich Donations, that it's judg'd by most to be Second, if not the first City of the whole World.
But we shall treat of this particularly in its proper Time and Place. But the Builder of Memphis after he had finish'd the Rampart and Trench, built Palaces not inferior to others, built elsewhere; yet much below the state and grandure of the former Kings. For the Inhabitants of this Country little value the short time of this present Life; but put an high esteem upon the Name and Reputation of a Virtuous Life after Death; and they call the Houses of the Living, Inns, because they stay in them but a little while; but the Sepulchers of the Dead they call Everlasting Habitations, because they abide in the Graves to infinite Generations. Therefore they are not very curious in the building of their Houses; but in beautifying their Sepulchers they leave nothing undone that can be thought of.
Some have thought that the City of which we have but just now spoken, was so call'd from the Daughter of the Founder, and tell a Fabulous Story, that the River Nile, in the shape of a Bull fell in love with her, and begat Egyptus, famous among the Inhabitants for his admirable Vertue, from whom the whole Country was call'd Egypt; for coming to the Crown by Descent, he was exceeding kind to his Subjects, just and diligent in all his Affairs, and therefore was judg'd justly to merit Honour and Esteem from all, and for his gracious Disposition generally applauded.
After the Death of this King, and Twelve Descents, Miris came to the Crown of Egypt, and built a Portico in Memphis towards the North, more stately and magnificent than any of the rest. And a little above the City, he cut a Dyke for a Pond, bringing it down in length from the City Three Hundred and Five and Twenty Furlongs, whose use was admirable, and Page 27 the Greatness of the Work incredible. They say it was in Circuit Three Thousand and Six Hundred Furlongs; and in many Places Three Hundred Foot in depth. Who is he therefore that considers the greatness of this Work, that may not justly ask the Question, How many Ten Thousand Men were imploy'd, and how many Years were spent in finishing it? Considering the Benefit and Advantage (by this great Work) brought to the Government, none ever sufficiently could extol it, according to what the Truth of the thing deserv'd. For being that Nile never kept to a certain and constant height in its Inundation, and the fruitfulness of the Country ever depended upon its just proportion, he dug this Lake to receive such Water as was superfluous, that it might neither immoderately overflow the Land, and so cause Fenns and standing Ponds, nor by flowing too little, prejudice the Fruits of the Earth for want of Water. To this end he cut a Trench all along from the River into the Lake, Fourscore Furlongs in length, and Three Hundred Foot broad; into this he let the Water of the River sometimes run, and at other times diverted it, and turn'd it over the Fields of the Husbandmen, at seasonable times, by means of Sluces which he sometimes open'd, and at other times shut up, not without great labour and cost; for these Sluces could not be open'd or shut at a less Charge than Fifty Talents. This Lake continues to the Benefit of the Egyptians for these purposes to our very Days, and is call'd the Lake of Myris or Meris to this Day.
The King left a place in the middle of the Lake, where he built a Sepulcher and Two Pyramids, one for himself, and another for his Queen, a Furlong in Height; upon the Top of which he plac'd Two Marble Statues seated in a Throne, designing by these Monuments to perpetuate the Fame and Glory of his Name to all succeeding Generations. The Revenue arising from the Fish taken in this Lake, he gave to his Wife to buy her Pins, which amounted to a Talent of Silver every Day. For there were in it Two and Twenty sorts of Fish, and so vast a number were taken, that those who were imploy'd continually to salt them up (though they were multitudes of People) could hardly perform it. And these are the things which the Egyptians relate of Myris.
Seven Descents after (they say) Sesoosis reign'd, who excell'd all his Ancestors in great and famous Actions. But not only the Greek Writers differ among themselves about this King, but likewise the Egyptian Priests and Poets relate various and different Stories concerning him: We shall relate such as are most probable and agreeable to those Signs and Marks that are yet remaining in Egypt to confirm them. After his Birth his Father perform'd a noble Act, and becoming a King; he caus'd all throughout Egypt, that were born the same Day with his Son, to be brought together; and together with his Son to be bred up with the same Education, and instructed in the same Discipline and Exercises, conceiving that by being thus familiarly brought up together, and conversing one with another, they would be always most loving and faithful Friends, and the best Fellow-Souldiers in all the Wars. Providing therefore every thing for the purpose, he caus'd the Boys to be exercised daily in the Schools with hard and difficult Labours; as that none should eat till he had run a Hundred and Fourscore Furlongs: And by this means when they came to be at Mens Estate, they were fit either to be Commanders, or undertake any brave or noble Action, both in respect of the vigour and strength of their Bodies, and the excellent Endowments of their Minds.
Sesostris in the first Place being sent with an Army into Arabia, by his Father, (with whom went his Companions that were bred up with him) toil'd and troubl'd himself with the hunting and killing of Wild Beasts; and then having at last overmaster'd all his Fatigues and wants of Water and Provision, he conquer'd all that barbarous Nation, which was never before that time subdu'd. Afterwards being sent into the Western Parts, he conquer'd the greatest part of Lybia, being as yet but a Youth. Coming to the Crown after the Death of his Father, incourag'd by his former Successes, he design'd to subdue and conquer the whole World. Some report that he was stirr'd up by his Daughter Athyrte to undertake the gaining of the Empire of the World; for being a Woman of an extraordinary Understanding, she made it out to her Father, that the Conquest was easie: Others incourag'd him by their Divinations, foretelling his Successes Page 28 by the Intrals of the Sacrifices, by their Dreams in the Temples, and Prodigies seen in the Air.
There are some also that write that when Sesoosis was born, Vulcan appear'd to his Father in his Sleep, and told him that the Child then born should be Conqueror of the Universe; and that that was the reason why his Father assembled all of the like Age, and bred them up together with his Son, to make way for him with more ease to rise to that height of Imperial Dignity: And that when he was grown to Mans Estate, fully believing what the God had foretold, he undertook at length this Expedition.
To this purpose he first made it his chief Concern, to gain the love and good will of all the Egyptians, judging it necessary in order to effect what he design'd, so far to ingage his Souldiers, as that they should willingly and readily venture, nay lose their Lives for their Generals, and that those whom he should leave behind him, should not contrive or hatch any Rebellion in his Absence: To this end therefore he oblig'd every one to the utmost of his power, working upon some by Mony, others by giving them Lands, and many by free Pardons, and upon all by fair Words, and affable and courteous Behaviour. He pardon'd those that were condemn'd for High Treason, and freed all that were in Prison for Debt, by paying what they ow'd, of whom there was a vast Multitude in the Goals.
He divided the whole Country into Thirty Six Parts, which the Egyptians call Nomi; over every one of which he appointed a Governor, who should take care of the King's Revenue, and manage all other Affairs relating to their several and respective Provinces. Out of these he chose the strongest and ablest Men, and rais'd an Army answerable to the greatness of his Design, to the number of Six Hundred Thousand Foot, and Twenty Four Thousand Horse, and Seven and Twenty Thousand Chariots of War: And over all the several Regiments and Battalions, he made those that had been brought up with him Commanders, being such as had been us'd to Martial Exercises, and from their Childhood hot and zealous after that which was brave and virtuous, and that were knit together as Brothers in Love and Affection, both to the King and one to another; the number of whom were above Seventeen Hundred.
Upon these Companions of his, he bestow'd large Estates in Lands, in the richest Parts of Egypt, that they might not be in the least want of any thing, reserving only their Attendance upon him in the Wars.
Having therefore rendezvouz'd his Army, he march'd first against the Ethiopians, inhabiting the South, and having conquer'd them, forc'd them to pay him Tribute of Ebony, Gold, and Elephant's Teeth.
Then he sent forth a Navy of Four Hundred Sail into the Red Sea, and was the first Egyptian that built long Ships. By the help of this Fleet, he gain'd all the Islands in this Sea, and subdu'd the bordering Nations as far as to India. But he himself marching forward with his Land-Army, conquer'd all Asia: For he not only invaded those Nations which Alexander the Macedonian afterwards subdu'd, but likewise those which he never set foot upon. For he both pass'd over the River Ganges, and likewise pierc'd through all India to the main Ocean. Then he subdu'd the Scythians as far as to the River Tanais, which divides Europe from Asia; where they say he left some of his Egyptians at the Lake Meotis, and gave Original to the Nations of Colchis; and to prove that they were originally Egyptians, they bring this Argument, that they are circumcis'd after the manner of the Egyptians, which Custom continu'd in this Colony as it did amongst the Jews. In the same manner he brought into his Subjection all the rest of Asia, and most of the Islands of the Cyclades. Thence passing over into Europe, he was in danger of losing his whole Army, through the difficulty of the Passages, and want of Provision. And therefore putting a stop to his Expedition in Thrace, up and down in all his Conquests, he erected Pillars, whereon were inscrib'd in Egyptian Letters, call'd Hieroglifics, these Words—
Sesoosis, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, subdu'd this Country by his Arms.
Among those Nations that were stout and warlike, he carv'd upon those Pillars the Privy Members of a Man: Amongst them that were cowardly and fainthearted, the secret Parts of a Woman; conceiving that the chief and principal Page 29 Member of a Man would be a clear Evidence to Posterity of the Courage of every one of them. In some Places he set up his own Statue, carv'd in Stone (arm'd with a Bow and a Lance) above Four Cubits and Four Hands in height, of which stature he himself was.
Having now spent Nine Years in this Expedition, (carrying himself courteously and familiarly towards all his Subjects in the mean time) he ordered the Nations he had conquer'd, to bring their Presents and Tributes every Year into Egypt, every one proportionable to their several Abilities: And he himself with the Captives and the rest of the Spoils (of which there was a vast quantity) return'd into Egypt, far surpassing all the Kings before him in the greatness of his Actions and Atchievements. He adorn'd all the Temples of Egypt with rich Presents, and the Spoils of his Enemies. Then he rewarded his Souldiers that had serv'd him in the War, every one according to their Desert. It's most certain that the Army not only return'd loaded with Riches, and receiv'd the Glory and Honour of their approv'd Valour, but the whole Country of Egypt reapt many Advantages by this Expedition.
Sesoosis having now disbanded his Army, gave leave to his Companions in Arms, and Fellow Victors, to take their ease, and injoy the Fruits of their Conquest. But he himself fir'd with an earnest desire of Glory, and ambitious to leave behind him eternal Monuments of his Memory, made many fair and stately Works, admirable both for their Cost and Contrivance, by which he both advanc'd his own Immortal Praise, and procur'd unspeakable Advantages to the Egyptians, with perfect Peace and Security for the time to come. For beginning first with what concern'd the Gods, he built a Temple in all the Cities of Egypt, to that God whom every particular place most ador'd; and he imploy'd none of the Egyptians in his Works, but finish'd all by the labours of the Captives; and therefore he caus'd an Inscription to be made upon all the Temples thus, None of the Natives were put to labour here. It's reported that some of the Babylonian Captives, because they were not able to bear the fatigue of the Work, rebell'd against the King; and having possess'd themselves of a Fort near the River, they took up Arms against the Egyptians, and wasted the Country thereabouts: but at length having got a Pardon, they chose a Place for their Habitation, and call'd it after the Name of that in their own Country, Babylon. Upon the like occasion they say that Troy situated near the River Nile, was so call'd: For Menelaus, when he return'd from Ilium with many Prisoners, arriv'd in Egypt, where the Trojans deserting the King, seiz'd upon a certain strong place, and took up Arms against the Greeks, till they had gain'd their Liberty, and then built a famous City after the name of their own. But I am not ignorant how Ctesias the Cretian gives a far different account of these Cities, when he says, that some of those who came in former times with Semiramis into Egypt, call'd the Cities which they built, after the Names of those in their own Country. But it's no easie matter to know the certain truth of these things: Yet it's necessary to observe the different Opinions concerning them, that the Judicious Reader may have an occasion to inquire, in order to pick out the real Truth.
Sesoosis moreover rais'd many Mounts and Banks of Earth, to which he remov'd all the Cities that lay low and in the plain, that both Man and Beast might be safe and secure at the time of the Inundation of the River. He cut likewise many deep Dykes from the River, all along as far as from Memphis to the Sea, for the ready and quick conveying of Corn and other Provision and Merchandize by short Cuts thither, both for the support of Trade and Commerce and maintenance of Peace and Plenty all over the Country: And that which was of greatest moment and concern of all, was, that he fortify'd all Parts of the Country against Incursions of Enemies, and made it difficult of access; whereas before the greatest part of Egypt lay open and expos'd either for Chariots or Horsemen to enter. But now by reason of the multitude of Canals drawn all along from the River, the Entrance was very difficult, and the Country not so easily to be invaded. He defended likewise the East side of Egypt against the Irruptions of the Syrians and Arabians, with a Wall drawn from Ielusium through the Deserts, as far as to Heliopolis, for the space of a Thousand and Five Hundred Furlongs. He caus'd likewise a Ship to be made of Cedar, Two Hundred and Fourscore Cubits in length, guilded over with Gold on the outside, and with Silver within; and this he dedicated to the God that was most ador'd by the Thebans. He erected likewise Two Page 30 Obelisks of Polish'd Marble, a Hundred and Twenty Cubits high, on which were inscrib'd a Description of the large Extent of his Empire, the great value of his Revenue, and the number of the Nations by him conquer'd. He plac'd likewise at Memphis, in the Temple of Vulcan, his and his Wives Statues, each of one intire Stone, Thirty Cubits in height, and those of his Sons, Twenty Cubits high, upon this occasion. After his return from his great Expedition into Egypt, being at Pelusium, his Brother at a Feast having invited him, together with his Wife and Children, plotted against his Life; for being all overcome by Wine, and gone to rest, he caus'd a great quantity of dry Reeds (long before prepar'd for the purpose) to be plac'd round the King's Pavilion in the Night, and set them all on Fire; upon which the Flame suddenly mounted aloft; and little assistance the King had either from his Servants or Life-guard, who were all still overloaden with Wine: Upon which Sesostris with his Hands lift up to Heaven, calling upon the Gods for help for his Wife and Children, rusht through the Flames and escap'd; and so being thus unexpectedly preserv'd, he made Oblations as to other of the Gods (as is before said) so especially to Vulcan, as he by whose Favour he was so remarkably deliver'd.
Although Sesostris was eminent in many great and worthy Actions, yet the most stately and magnificent of all, was that relating to the Princes in his Progresses. For those Kings of the conquer'd Nations, who through his Favour still held their Kingdoms, and such as had receiv'd large Principalities of his free Gift and Donation, came with their Presents and Tributes into Egypt, at the times appointed, whom he receiv'd with all the Marks of Honour and Respect; save that when he went into the Temple or the City, his Custom was to cause the Horses to be unharnest out of his Chariot, and in their Room Four Kings, and other Princes to draw it; hereby thinking to make it evident to all, that there was none comparable to him for Valour, who had conquer'd the most potent and famous Princes in the World. This King seems to have excell'd all others that ever were eminent for Power and Greatness, both as to his Warlike Atchievements, the number of his Gifts and Oblations, and his wonderful Works in Egypt.
After he had reign'd Three and Thirty Years, he fell blind, and wilfully put an end to his own Life; for which he was admir'd not only by Priests, but by all the rest of the Egyptians; for that as he had before manifested the Greatness of his Mind by his Actions, so now his End was agreeable (by a voluntary Death) to the Glory of his Life.
The Fame and Renown of this King continu'd so fresh down to Posterity, that many Ages after, when Egypt was conquer'd by the Persians, and Darius the Father of Xerxes would set up his Statue at Memphis above that of Sesoosis, the Chief Priest in the debating of the matter in the Conclave boldly spoke against it, declaring that Darius had not yet exceeded the noble Acts of Sesoosis. The King was so far from resenting this, that on the contrary he was so pleas'd and taken with this freedom of Speech, that he said he would endeavour (if he liv'd as long as the other did) to be nothing inferiour to him; and wisht them to compare things done proportionable to the time, for that this was the justest examination and trial of Valour. And thus much shall suffice to be said of Sesoosis.
The Acts of Sesostris the Second. Of Ammosis, Actisanes, Mendes, Proteus or Cetes, Remphis, Chemmis (the great Pyramids built by him) Cephres, Mycerinus, Bocchoris, Sabach. The Reign of Twelve Kings in Egypt. Psammetichus Saites, one of the Kings, gain'd the whole; Two Hundred Thousand of his Army forsook him, and settle themselves in Ethiopia. Apries succeeds long after. Amasis rebels, and next succeeds; and Apries is strangled by the People. Amasis the last King, to the time of the Conquest of Egypt by Cambyses.
THE Son of Sesostris succeeded his Father in the Kingdom, and took upon him the same Name, yet perform'd nothing remarkable by his Arms; but the Affliction and Misery that befel him was observable; for he became blind, as his Father did before him, deriving the Malady either from his Father in his Birth, or as a Judgment upon him for his Impiety against the River, against which (as its fabulously reported) he threw his Javelin; whereupon falling under this Misfortune, he was forc'd to apply himself for help to the Gods, whom he sought to appease with many Offerings and Sacrifices for a long time together, yet could find no Relief, till at the end of Ten Years he was directed by the Oracle to go and worship the God of Heliopolis, and wash his Face in the Urin of a Woman that never had known any other Man besides her own Husband. Hereupon he began with his own Wife, and made trial of many others, but found none honest except a Gardener's Wife, whom he afterwards marry'd when he was recover'd. All the Adulteresses he caus'd to be burnt in a little Village, which from this Execution the Egyptians call'd the Holy Field, to testify his Gratitude to the God of Heliopolis for this great Benefit. At the Command of the Oracle he erected Two Obelisks, each of one entire Stone, Eight Cubits in breadth, and a hundred in height, and dedicated them to the Deity.
After this Sesostris the Second, were many Successions of Kings in Egypt, of whom there's nothing worth remark to be found. But many Ages after, Ammosis came to the Crown, who carry'd it Tyrannically towards his Subjects. For he put many to Death against all Law and Justice, and as many he stript of all they had, and turn'd them out of their Estates, and carry'd himself haughtily and proudly in every thing towards all Persons he had to deal with. This the poor oppress'd People indur'd for a time, while they had no power to resist those that overpower'd them. But as soon as Actisanes King of Ethiopia invaded him (having now an opportunity to discover their Hatred, and to revenge themselves) most of his Subjects revolted from him, so that he was easily conquer'd, and Egypt became subject to the Kings of Ethiopia.
Actisanes bore his Prosperity with great Moderation, and carried himself kindly and obligingly towards all his Subjects. Against Robbers he contriv'd a notable Device, neither putting them that were guilty to Death, nor wholly acquitting or discharging them from Punishment. For he caus'd all that were guilty, to be brought together from all parts of the Country, and after a just and strict inquiry, and certain Knowledge of their Guilt, he order'd all their Noses to be cut off, and banisht them into the utmost parts of the Desart; and built a City for them, call'd from the cutting off of the Noses of the Inhabitants, Rhinocorura, which is situated in the Confines of Egypt and Syria, in a barren Place, destitute of all manner of Provision. All the Country round about is full of Salt and brackish Ponds, and the Wells within the Walls, afford but very little Water, and that stinking and very bitter. And he sent them to this Place on purpose that they might not for the future do any more hurt, nor lye lurking and unknown among other Men. But being banished to such a barren Place, void almost of all things necessary for the support of Man's Life (Men naturally Contriving all manner of Arts to prevent starving) they wittily found out a way to supply their Wants. For they cut up out of the Neighbouring Fields, Reeds, and flit them in several pieces, and made long Nets of them, and plac'd them several Furlongs all along Page 32 upon the Shoar, with which they catcht the Quails (which came flying over Sea in great Flocks) and by that means sufficiently provided for themselves.
After this King's Death the Egyptians recover'd their Liberty, and set up a King of their own Nation to rule over them, Mendes (whom some call Marus) who never undertook any Warlike Design, but made a Sepulcher for himself call'd a Labyrinth, not to be admir'd so much for Its greatness, as it was unimitable for its Workmanship. For he that went in, could not easily come out again, without a very skilful Guide. Some say that Dedalus, who came into Egypt, admir'd the Curiosity of this Work, and made a Labyrinth for Minos King of Creet, like to this in Egypt, in which they fabulously relate the Minotaur was kept. But that in Creet was either ruin'd by some of their Kings, or came to nothing through length of Time, but that in Egypt continu'd whole and entire to our Days.
After the Death of this Mendes, and Five Generations spent (during which time there was an Interregnum) the Egyptians chose one Cetes, of an ignoble Extraction, to be their King, whom the Grecians call Proteus; this fell out in the time of the Trojan War. This Prince, they say, was a Magician, and could transform himself sometimes into the shape of a Beast, other times into a Tree, or Appearance of Fire, or any other Form and Shape whatsoever. And this agrees with the Account the Priests of Egypt give of him; from his daily Converse with the Astrologers, they say, he learnt this Art. The Greeks rais'd this Story of Transformation, from a Custom amongst the Kings; for the Egyptian Princes us'd to wear upon their Heads (as Badges of their Royal Authority) the shapes of Lions, Bulls and Dragons; and sometimes to fix upon their Heads Sprouts of Trees, Fire and strong Perfumes of Frankincense, and other sweet Odours. And with these they both adorn'd themselves, and struck a Terror and Superstitious Awe into the Hearts of their Subjects at one and the same time.
After the Death of Proteus, his Son Remphis succeeded him, who spent all his Time in filling his Coffers, and heaping up Wealth. The poorness of his Spirit, and his sordid Covetousness was such, that they would not suffer him to part with any thing, either for the worship of the Gods, or the good of Mankind; and therefore more like a good Steward than a King, instead of a Name for Valour, and noble Acts, he left vast Heaps of Treasure behind him, greater than any of the Kings that ever were before him: For it's said he had a Treasure of Four Hundred Thousand Talents of Gold and Silver.
After this King's Death, for Seven Generations together, there reign'd successively a Company of Kings, who gave themselves up to Sloath and Idleness, and did nothing but wallow in Pleasures and Luxury; and therefore there's no Record of any great Work, or other thing worthy to be remembred that ever any of them did, except Nile, who call'd the River after his own Name, which was before call'd Egyptus. For being that he cut many Canals and Dikes in convenient Places, and us'd his utmost endeavour to make the River more useful and serviceable, it was therefore call'd Nile.
Chemmis the Eighth King from Remphis, was of Memphis, and reign'd Fifty Years. He built the greatest of the Three Pyramids, which were accounted amongst the Seven Wonders of the World. They stand towards Lybia Hundred and Twenty Furlongs from Memphis, and Five and Forty from Nile. The Greatness of these Works, and the excessive Labour of the Workmen seen in them, do even strike the Beholders with Admiration and Astonishment. The greatest being Four-square, took up on every Square Seven Hundred Foot of Ground in the Basis, and above Six Hundred Foot in height, spiring up narrower by little and little, till it come up to the Point, the Top of which was Six Cubits Square. It's built of solid Marble throughout, of rough Work, but of perpetual Duration: For though it be now a Thousand Years since it was built (some say above Three Thousand and Four Hundred) yet the Stones are as firmly joynted, and the whole Building as intire and without the least decay, as they were at the first laying and Erection. The Stone, they say, was brought a long way off, out of Arabia, and that the Work was rais'd by making Mounts of Earth; Cranes and other Engines being not known at that time. And that which is most to be admir'd at, is to see such a Foundation so imprudently laid, as it seems to be, in a Sandy Place, where there's not the least Sign of any Earth cast up, nor Marks where any Stone was cut and polish'd; so that the whole Pile seems to be rear'd all at once, and fixt in the midst of Heaps of Sand by some God, and not built by Page 33 degrees by the Hands of Men. Some of the Egyptians tell wonderful things, and invent strange Fables concerning these Works, affirming that the Mounts were made of Salt and Salt-Peter, and that they were melted by the Inundation of the River, and being so dissolv'd, every thing was washt away but the Building it self. But this is not the Truth of the thing; but the great multitude of Hands that rais'd the Mounts, the same carry'd back the Earth to the Place whence they dug it; for they say there were Three Hundred and Sixty Thousand Men imploy'd in this Work, and the Whole was scarce compleated in Twenty Years time.
When this King was dead, his Brother Cephres succeeded him, and reign'd Six and Fifty Years: Some say it was not his Brother, but his Son Chabryis that came to the Crown: But all agree in this, that the Successor, in imitation of his Predecessor, erected another Pyramid like to the former, both in Structure and Artificial Workmanship, but not near so large, every square of the Basis being only a Furlong in Breadth.
Upon the greater Pyramid was inscrib'd the value of the Herbs and Onions that were spent upon the Labourers during the Works, which amounted to above Sixteen Hundred Talents.
There's nothing writ upon the lesser: The Entrance and Ascent is only on one side, cut by steps into the main Stone. Although the Kings design'd these Two for their Sepulchers, yet it hapen'd that neither of them were there buri'd. For the People being incens'd at them by the reason of the Toyl and Labour they were put to, and the cruelty and oppression of their Kings, threatned to drag their Carkases out of their Graves, and pull them by piece-meal, and cast them to the Dogs; and therefore both of them upon their Beds commanded their Servants to bury them in some obscure place.
After him reign'd Mycerinus (otherwise call'd Cherinus) the Son of him who built the first Pyramid. This Prince began a Third, but died before it was finish'd; every square of the Basis was Three Hundred Foot. The Walls for fifteen Stories high were of black Marble like that of Thebes, the rest was of the same Stone with the other Pyramids. Though the other Pyramids went beyond this in greatness, yet this far excell'd the rest in the Curiosity of the Structure, and the largeness of the Stones. On that side of the Pyramid towards the North, was inscrib'd the Name of the Founder Mycerinus. This King they say detesting the severity of the former Kings, carried himself all his Days gently and graciously towards all his Subjects, and did all that possibly he could to gain their Love and Good Will towards him; besides other things, he expended vast Sums of Money upon the Oracles and Worship of the Gods; and bestowing large Gifts upon honest Men whom he judg'd to be injur'd, and to be hardly dealt with in the Courts of Justice.
There are other Pyramids, every Square of which are Two Hundred Foot in the Basis; and in all things like unto the other, except in bigness. It's said that these Three last Kings built them for their Wives.
It is not in the least to be doubted, but that these Pyramids far excel all the other Works throughout all Egypt, not only in the Greatness and Costs of the Building, but in the Excellency of the Workmanship: For the Architects (they say) are much more to be admir'd than the Kings themselves that were at the Cost. For those perform'd all by their own Ingenuity, but these did nothing but by the Wealth handed to them by descent from their Predecessors, and by the Toyl and Labour of other Men.
Yet concerning the first Builders of these Pyramids, there's no Consent, either amongst the Inhabitants or Historians. For some say they were built by the Kings before mention'd, some by others.
As that the greatest was built by Armeus, the Second by Amasis, and the Third by Inaronas: But some say that this last was the Sepulcher of one Rhodopides, a Curtesan, and was built in remembrance of her, at the common Charge of some of the Governors of the Provinces, who were her Amours.
Bocchoris was the next who succeeded in the Kingdom, a very little Man for Body, and of a mean and contemptible Presence; but as to his Wisdom and Prudence far excelling all the Kings that ever were before him in Egypt.
Page 34 A long time after him, one Sabach an Ethiopian came to the Throne, going beyond all his Predecessors in his Worship of the Gods, and kindness to his Subjects. Any Man may judge and have a clear Evidence of his gentle Disposition in this, that when the Laws pronounc'd the severest Judgment (I mean Sentence of Death) he chang'd the Punishment, and made an Edict that the Condemn'd Persons should be kept to work in the Towns in Chains, by whose Labour he rais'd many Mounts, and made many Commodious Canals; conceiving by this means he should not only moderate the severity of the Punishment, but instead of that which was unprofitable, advance the publick Good, by the Service and Labours of the Condemn'd. A Man may likewise judge of his extraordinary Piety from his Dream, and his Abdication of the Government; for the Tutelar God of Thebes, seem'd to speak to him in his Sleep, and told him that he could not long reign happily and prosperously in Egypt, except he cut all the Priests in Pieces, when he pass'd through the midst of them with his Guards and Servants; which Advice being often repeated, he at length sent for the Priests from all parts, and told them that if he staid in Egypt any longer, he found that he should displease God, who never at any time before by Dreams or Visions commanded any such thing. And that he would rather be gone and lose his Life, being pure and innocent, than displease God, or injoy the Crown of Egypt, by staining his Life with the horrid Murder of the Innocent. And so at length giving up the Kingdom into the Hands of the People, he return'd into Ethiopia. Upon this there was an Anarchy for the space of Two Years; but the People falling into Tumults and intestine Broyls and Slaughters one of another, Twelve of the chief Nobility of the Kingdom joyn'd in a Solemn Oath, and then calling a Senate at Memphis, and making some Laws for the better directing and cementing of them in mutual peace and fidelity, they took upon them the Regal Power and Authority. After they had govern'd the Kingdom very amicably for the space of Fifteen Years, (according to the Agreement which they had mutually sworn to observe) they apply'd themselves to the building of a Sepulcher, where they might all lye together; that as in their Life-time they had been equal in their Power and Authority, and had always carried it with love and respect one towards another; so after Death (being all bury'd together in one Place) they might continue the Glory of their Names in one and the same Monument. To this end they made it their business to excel all their Predecessors in the greatness of their Works: For near the Lake of Myris in Lybia, they built a Four-square Monument of Polish'd Marble, every square a Furlong in length, for curious Carvings and other pieces of Art, not to be equall'd by any that should come after them. When you are enter'd within the Wall, there's presented a stately Fabrick, supported round with Pillars, Forty on every side: The Roof was of one intire Stone, whereon was curiously carv'd Racks and Mangers for Horses, and other excellent pieces of Workmanship, and painted and adorn'd with divers sorts of Pictures and Images; where likewise were portray'd the Resemblances of the Kings, the Temples, and the Sacrifices in most beautiful Colours. And such was the Cost and Stateliness of this Sepulcher, begun by these Kings, that (if they had not been dethron'd before it was perfected) none ever after could have exceeded them in the state and magnificence of their Works. But after they had reign'd over Egypt Fifteen Years, all of them but one lost their Sovereignty in the manner following.
Psammeticus Saites, one of the Kings, whose Province was upon the Sea Coasts, traffickt with all sorts of Merchants, and especially with the Phenicians and Grecians; by this means inriching his Province, by vending his own Commodities, and the importation of those that came from Greece, he not only grew very wealthy, but gain'd an interest in the Nations and Princes abroad; upon which account he was envy'd by the rest of the Kings, who for that reason made War upon him. Some antient Historians tell a Story, That these Princes were told by the Oracle, That which of them should first pour Wine out of a brazen Viol to the God ador'd at Memphis, should be sole Lord of all Egypt. Whereupon Psammeticus when the Priest brought out of the Temple Twelve Golden Viols, pluckt off his Helmet, and pour'd out a Wine Offering from thence; which when his Collegues took notice of, they forbore putting him to death, but depos'd him, and banish'd him into the Fenns, bordering upon the Sea-Coasts. Whether therefore it were this, or Envy as is said before, that gave Birth to this Dissention and Page 35 Difference amongst them, it's certain Psammeticus hir'd Souldiers out of Arabia, Caria and Ionia, and in a Field-Fight near the City Moniemphis, he got the day. Some of the Kings of the other side were slain, and the rest fled into Africa, and were not able further to contend for the Kingdom.
Psammeticus having now gain'd possession of the whole, built a Portico to the East Gate of the Temple at Memphis, in honour of that God, and incompass'd the Temple with a Wall, supporting it with Colosses of Twelve Cubits high in the room of Pillars. He bestow'd likewise upon his Mercenary Souldiers many large Rewards over and above their Pay promis'd them.
He gave them also a Place call'd Stratopedon to inhabit, and divided amongst them by Lot a large piece of Land, a little above the Mouth of Pelusium, whom Amasis (who reign'd many Years after) transplanted to Memphis. Being therefore that he had gain'd the Kingdom by the help of his stipendary Souldiers, he intrusted them chiefly in the concerns of the Government, and entertain'd great numbers of Strangers and Foreigners.
Afterwards undertaking an Expedition into Syria (to honour the Foreigners) he plac'd them in the right Wing of his Army; but out of slight and disregard to the natural Egyptians, he drew up them in the Left; with which Affront the Egyptians were so incens'd, that above Two Hundred Thousand of them revolted, and marcht away towards Ethiopia, there to settle themselves in new Habitations. At first the King sent some of his Captives after them, to make an Apology for the Dishonour done them; but these not being hearken'd unto, the King himself with some of his Nobility follow'd them by Water. But they marcht on, and entred Egypt, near the River Nile, where he earnestly entreated them to alter their purpose, and to remember their Gods, their Country, Wives and Children: They all cry'd out (beating upon their Shields, and shaking their Spears) that as long as they had Arms in their Hands, they could easily gain another Country; and then turning aside the Flaps of their Coats, they shew'd their Privy Members, bawling out, That as long as they were so furnish'd, they should never want Wives or Children. Possess'd with this Resolution and Magnanimity of Mind, they despis'd every thing that by all others are highly priz'd and valu'd, and setled themselves in a rich and fruitful Soyl in Ethiopia, dividing the Land amongst themselves by lot.
Psammeticus laid this greatly to heart, and made it his Business to settle the Affairs of Egypt, and to increase his Revenues, and enter'd into League with the Athenians and other Grecians, and was very kind and liberal to all Strangers that came into Egypt. He was so taken with the Grecians, that he caus'd his Son to be instructed in the Grecian Learning. He was certainly the first of all the Kings of Egypt that incourag'd Foreigners to traffick in his Country, giving safe Conduct to all Strangers that sail'd thither. For the former Kings allow'd no Strangers to come into Egypt, and if any did arrive, they either put them to death, or made them Slaves: And it was the Churlishness of this Nation, which caus'd all that noise among the Greeks concerning the Cruelty and Wickedness of Busiris, though all was not true as it was related, but the extraordinary Severity of the Country gave occasion to the raising of those Fables.
After Psammticeus and Four Generations past, Apries reign'd Two and Twenty Years. He invaded with mighty Forces, Cyprus and Phenicia, and took Sidon by Storm; and through Fear and Terror of him, brought other Cities of Phenicia into Subjection. And having routed the Cyprians and Phenicians in a great Sea-Fight, he return'd into Egypt, loaden with the Spoils of his Enemies. But afterwards sending an Army against Cyrene and Barca, he lost most of them; at which those that escap'd, were extraordinarily inrag'd; and suspecting that he imploy'd them in this Expedition on purpose to have them all cut off, that he might reign the more securely over the rest, they all revolted. For Amasis, a Nobleman of Egypt, being sent against them by the King, not only slighted the King's Commands in endeavouring to make all whole again, but on the contrary incited the Rebels to a higher degree of Rage and Indignation against him, and turn'd Rebel himself, and was created King. And not long after, when the rest of the People all went over to him, the King not knowing what to do, was 〈◊〉 to fly for Aid to the stipendiary Souldiers, who were about Thirty Thousand; but being routed in a Field-Fight near to a Town call'd Marius, he was there taken Prisoner and strangl'd.
Page 36Amasis having setl'd his Affairs in Egypt, so as he judg'd most conducing to the publick good, govern'd the Egyptians with all Justice and Moderation, and by this gain'd the good Will of all the People. He conquer'd also the Cities of Cyprus, and adorn'd the Temples of the Gods with many rich Gifts and Offerings. Having reign'd Five and Fifty Years, he died about the time Cambyses King of Persia first invaded Egypt, in the Third Year of the Sixty Third Olympiad, in which Parmenides of Camarina was Victor.
The Customs of the Egyptians: Of their Kings. Of their Hourly Imployment, Sacrifices, Diet, &c. Their Burials. The division of Egypt. Their Trades in Egypt. Courts of Justice. Their Law Proceedings. The several Laws of Egypt. Beasts and Birds ador'd in Egypt, as Lions, Wolves, Cats, the Bird Ibis, Kites, &c. Costs in their Burial of these Creatures. Reasons given of this Adoration.
SInce sufficient hath been said of the Egyptian Kings from the most ancient Times, to the Death of Amasis, (leaving for a while what remains till a more proper time) we shall now give a brief account of those Laws and Customs of the Egyptians that are most to be admir'd, and may especially delight and profit the Reader. For many of the ancient Customs of the Egyptians were not only allow'd by the natural Inhabitants, but were greatly admir'd by the Grecians, so that every Learn'd Man earnestly coveted to travel into Egypt to learn the Knowledge of their Laws and Customs, as things of great weight and moment: And though the Country anciently forbad all reception to Strangers (for the Reasons before alledg'd) yet some of the Ancients, as Orpheus and Homer, and many of latter times, as Pythagoras the Samian, and Solon the Lawgiver, adventur'd to travel thither. And therefore the Egyptians assirm that Letters, Astronomy, Geometry, and many other Arts were first found out by them; and that the best Laws were made and instituted by them. To confirm which, they alledge this as an undeniable Argument, that the Native Kings of Egypt have reign'd there for the space of above Four Thousand and Seven Hundred Years, and that their Country for all that time has been the most prosperous and flourishing Kingdom in the World, which could never have been so, if the Inhabitants had not been civilized, and brought up under good Laws, and Liberal Education in all sorts of Arts and Sciences. But we shall omit what Herodotus and other Writers of the Egyptian History relate, who wilfully pursue and prefer prodigious Stories before Truth, and relate a company of Fictions meerly for Sport and Diversion sake, and shall give an Account of such things as we have carefully perus'd and examin'd recorded in their Books by the Egyptian Priests.
The First Kings of Egypt liv'd not after the way and manner of other Monarchs, to do what they list, without Controul; but in every thing conform'd themselves to their Laws, not only in the publick Administration of the Government, but in their daily private Conversation, and their very Meals and Diet. For among their Attendants, they had neither Slaves for Servants, nor such as were born in their Houses; but the Sons of the chiefest of the Priests (after they attain'd to the Age of Twenty Years) brought up and educated more nobly than any other of the rest of the Egyptians; that having such noble Attendants upon his Person (of the best and highest Rank in the Kingdom) to be always with him night and day, he might not do any thing that was base and blame-worthy. For no Prince is apt to be very wicked, except he have some ready at Hand to incourage him in his Lusts.
There were Hours set apart in the Night as well as the Day, wherein the King was to do something injoyn'd him by the Laws, and not to indulge himself in his Pleasures.
Page 37 When he rose in the Morning, the first thing he was to do, was to peruse all the publick Letters and Advices sent from all Parts, that he might order his Concerns the better, by having perfect knowledge of all the Affairs of the Kingdom. Then Washing himself, and putting on his Splendid Robes, and the Ensigns and Badges of his Royal Authority, he went to Sacrifice to the Gods.
When the Victims were brought to the Altar, it was the Custom for the High Priest in the presence of the King and People standing round about him, to pray with a loud Voice for the Health and Prosperity of the King, who righteously rul'd and govern'd his Subjects, wherein he recounted all the Virtues of the Prince, his Piety towards the Gods, his kindness to his People; how Continent, Just, Magnanimous and Faithful he was; how Bountiful, and what a Master he was over all inordinate Appetites and Passions; how he was Mild and Gentle in inflicing Punishments upon Offenders, less than their Deserts, and Bountiful in distributing of his Rewards. When the Priest had utter'd these and such like Commendations, he at last pronounc'd a Curse upon all such Offences and Miscarriages as had been ignorantly committed; yet withal, clearing the King, and laying all the Blame and Guilt upon his Ministers and Advisers. And this the Priest did that he might thereby induce and persuade the King to an Awe of the Gods, and to live so as might be pleasing to them; and likewise by Praise and Commendation rather gently to win upon him, than by harsh and rugged Rebukes to drive him to the practice of Virtuous Actions. Afterwards when the King had view'd the Intrals and finish'd his Sacrifices, the Priests read out of the Sacred Records, the Edicts, Laws and most useful and remarkable Actions of such as were most famous in their Generations, that the Prince might seriously consider and ponder upon what was most commendable in those Examples, and imitate them according to the Rules there prescrib'd. For there were not only set Times allotted for dispatch of publick Business, and Administration of Justice, but likewise for taking of the Air, Bathing, lying with the Queen, and almost every action of their Lives.
The Custom was likewise for the Kings to feed upon plain and ordinary Meat, as Veal and Goose, and to drink Wine according to a stinted measure, which might neither overcharge their Stomacks, nor make them drunk. Such a moderate Diet was prescrib'd, as that it seem'd rather to be order'd by a Skilful Physitian for Health sake, than by a Law-maker. It is indeed to be admir'd and very strange, that the King should not be left to his liberty for his daily Food; but much more is it to be admir'd, that he could not do any publick Business, Condemn or Punish any Man to gratify his own Humour or Revenge, or for any other unjust Cause; but was bound to do according as the Laws had ordered in every particular case. The Kings observing those Rules according to the ancient Custom, were so far from thinking it dishonourable, or being uneasy under it, that they lookt upon themselves to live most desirable and happy Lives; and judg'd that all other Men who inconsiderately indulg'd their natural Appetites, did many things that were attended with great Losses, or apparent Hazards at the least; yea, that some, though they know beforehand that what they were about to do was ill and unjustifiable, yet overcome either with Love or Hatred, or some other unruly Passion, committed the wicked act notwithstanding; and therefore they were resolv'd to follow the Rules of living, before approv'd by wise and prudent Men, and not to fall into the least Irregularity. The Kings therefore carrying this even Hand towards ail their Subjects, were more beloved by them than by their own Kindred and Relations: For not only all the Orders of the Priests, but the whole Nation together were more concern'd for the Health and Prosperity of their Kings, than they were for their Wives and Children, or their private Interests in their Goods and Estates; and therefore as long as these wholsom Laws were observ'd amongst 'em, they preserv'd their Government without stain or blemish for many Ages under the Kings before-mention'd, living in the height of all Worldly Happiness: And besides all this, were Conquerors of many Nations, and grew exceeding rich, and their Provinces were beautify'd with many stately magnificent Works, and their Cities adorn'd with many rich Gifts of all sorts.
What the Egyptians perform'd after the Deaths of every of their Kings, clearly evidences the great Love they bore to them. For Honour done him that cannot possibly know it (in a grateful return of a former Benefit) carries along with Page 38 it a Testimony of Sincerity, without the least colour of Dissimulation. For upon the Death of every King, the Egyptians generally lament with an universal Mourning, rend their Garments, shut up their Temples, inhibit Sacrifices and all Feasts and Solemnities for the space of Seventy Two Days: They cast Dust likewise upon their Heads, and gird themselves under their Breasts with a Linnen Girdle; and thus Men and Women Two Hundred or Three Hundred sometimes in a Company, twice a Day go about singing mournful Songs in praise of the deceas'd King, recalling his Virtues (as it were) from the very Grave. During that time, they neither eat Flesh, nor any thing bak'd or heated by the Fire, and abstain from Wine and all Sumptuous Fare: Neither dare any use Baths or Oyntments, Beds trim'd up, or indulge themselves with Women. But every one (as if they had lost their dearest beloved Child) is in mourning and sadness, and spends all these Days in Lamentation. In the mean time all things are prepar'd in a stately manner for the Funeral, and the last day the Coffin with the Body inclos'd, is set at the Entrance into the Sepulcher: And there, according to the Law, in honour of the Deceased, all the Actions of his Life are rehears'd, where every one that will, has free liberty to accuse him. But all the Priests set forth his Praise, mentioning all the noble Actions of his Life; and many Thousands of People met together at the bringing forth of the Body (if the King have rul'd well) second the Priests with a tumultuous Cry and Noise of Approbation: But if he have govern'd otherwise, they are hush and still: And therefore many of the Kings (through the dislike of the People) have not been honour'd with any Funeral Pomp or solemn Burial; upon which account the succeeding Kings (not only for the Reasons before-mention'd, but because they fear the abuse of their Bodies after Death, and everlasting disgrace and dishonour) have study'd how to acquit themselves by just and Virtuous Actions. These are the most remarkable Manners and Customs of the ancient Kings of Egypt.
The whole Land of Egypt is divided into several Parts, which the Greeks call Nomoi, over every one of which is appointed a Lord Lieutenant or Provincial Governor, who is intrusted with Administration of publick Affairs in the Province. The whole Country likewise is divided into Three Parts, whereof the First is allotted to the Priests, who are highly reverenc'd, and are in great Authority among the People, both for their Piety towards the Gods, and their great Wisdom and Learning wherein they instruct the People. And out of their Revenues, they provide Sacrifices throughout all Egypt, and maintain their Families and Servants, and procure all other things necessary for themselves: For they judge it not lawful by any means that the Worship of the Gods should be altered (but always perform'd by them after the same manner) nor that those who are the publick Ministers of State should want any thing that is necessary. For these are always at the King's Elbow, as the Chief of his Privy Counsel, who assist, advise and instruct him upon all occasions. By the help of Astrology, and viewing the Intrals of the Sacrifices, they Divine and foretel future Events, and out of the Records in the sacred Registers from things done in former times, they read profitable Lectures for present use and practice. For it is not (as among the Grecians) that one Man or one Woman only executes the Priest's Office, but in Egypt many are imploy'd in the Sacrifices and Worship of the Gods, who teach the same way and manner of Service to their Children and Posterity. They are free from all publick Taxes and Impositions, and are in the Second place to the King in Honour and Authority. The Second Portion belongs to the King, as his Revenue to support his Royal State and Dignity, and maintain the Charge of his Wars, and to inable him to reward those that have been eminent for their Virtue and publick Service, with Gifts according to their Deserts; and inasmuch as this Portion brings in a plentiful Provision for all these purposes, the People are not oppress'd with Taxes and heavy Impositions. The last Portion belongs to the Soldiers, who at a word are ready at the King's Commands for every Expedition; that they who venture their Lives in the Wars, being indear'd to their Country by that plentiful share and proportion allotted them, may more chearfully undergo the hazards of War. For it would be an irrational thing to intrust the safety and preservation of the whole, with them who have nothing in their Country that's dear or valuable to them to sight for. And the chief Reason why so large a share is allotted to them, is that they might more readily marry, and by that means make the Nation more populous; and so there might be no need of Foreign Aids Page 39 and Assistances. Besides, that Children descended from Soldiers, would be apt to imitate the valour of their Ancestors, and minding Arms from their very Childhood, would at length (through their natural Courage and Skill in their Arms) become unconquerable.
The Nation likewise is distinguish'd into Three other Classes and Orders of Men, Shepherds, Husbandmen and Artificers. The Husbandmen take the Land (fit for Tillage and bearing of other Fruits) of the King, the Priests and the Swordmen, upon an easie Rent, and take up all their Time in this Business; and because they are bred up from their very Infancy in Country Affairs, they are the most Skilful Husbandmen of any other Nation in the World. For they know exactly the Nature of the Land, the Inundation of the Waters, Seed-time and Harvest, and the gathering in of the other Fruits of the Earth, partly from the knowledge gain'd from their Ancestors, and partly from their own particular Experience.
The way and manner of the Shepherds is the same, who being us'd to look after the Flocks and Herds from Father to Son, make it their whole Imployment to feed and pasture them. They have indeed learnt many things from their Ancestors concerning the best way of governing and feeding their Flocks, but not a few by their own Study and Invention. And that which is chiefly to be admir'd, is that their Industry is such in these matters, that they that keep Poultry and Geese, not content with the ordinary way of breeding these Creatures (as amongst other People) but by their Wit and Ingenuity cause them to increase to an infinite number, for they do not suffer them to hatch, but to admiration force out the Young with their Hands with so much Art and Skill, that it's done as effectually as by Nature it self.
Arts and Trades likewise among the Egyptians are greatly improv'd and brought to their highest perfection. For it's a Rule only among the Egyptians, that no Mechanick or other Artificer is to be of any other Trade or Imployment, or to be reckon'd up among any other Orders or Classes of the Commonwealth, than such as by the Law is allow'd, and taught them by their Parents; to the end that neither Envy attending Magistracy, nor publick Business of the State, or any thing else might interrupt them in the diligent improvement of their Trades. In other Places we see Artificers and Tradesmen busy'd about many other things, and (to gratify their Covetousness) not to stick to any one Imployment. For some apply themselves to Husbandry, others to Merchandize, and some follow Two or Three Trades at once. And many who run to the publick Assemblies in Cities, under a Democratical Government, by Bribes and Rewards inrich themselves, to the damage and prejudice of the Commonwealth. But in Egypt if any Tradesman meddle in Civil Affairs, or exercise any more than one Trade at once, he is grievously punish'd. And in this manner the antient Egyptians divided their Commonwealth, and every Order took care to preserve themselves intire, as that which they had learnt, and had been handed down to them from their Ancestors. They were likewise extraordinary careful concerning their Courts of Justice, for they lookt upon just Sentences and Decrees pronounc'd from the Seats of Justice on both sides, to be of great weight and moment to the advancement of the publick good. For they knew very well, that Mens miscarriages would be best reform'd, if Offenders were duly punish'd, and the Injur'd and Oppress'd reliev'd: And on the contrary they foresaw, that if the Punishment due by the Law to Malefactors could be bought off for Mony, Favour or Affection, then nothing but Disorder and Confusion would enter into all Orders and Societies of Men among them: And therefore to prevent this (with good effect) they chose Men of the greatest Reputation out of the Chiefest Cities to be their Judges: As out of Heliopolis, Thebes and Memphis; which Assembly of the Judges was nothing inferior to the Arcopagites in Athens, or the Senate at Sparta. Out of these (being Thirty in number) they chose one the most eminent among them to be President, and in his Room the City sent another. The Judges receiv'd their Salaries from the King, but the President had the greatest Allowance; about his Neck he wore a golden Chain, at which hung a Picture representing Truth, set with precious Stones. When the President put on his Chain, it was a Sign then he was about to hear Causes. And when the Eight Books wherein the Laws were written were laid before the Judges, it was the Custom that the Plaintiff exhibited his Complaint in writing distinctly and particularly; setting forth wherein he was injur'd, and Page 40 how, and the value of his damage sustain'd. On the other side the Defendant or the Party accus'd, after a Copy had of his Adversaries Libel, answered in Writing to every particular, either by denying or justifying, or pleading something in mitigation of Damages. Then the Plaintiff reply'd in Writing, and the Defendant rejoyn'd. After the Litigants had thus twice exhibited their Libels, it was then the part of the Thirty Judges to consider amongst themselves of the Judgment to be pronounc'd, and incumbent upon the President to turn the Essigies of Truth towards one of the Litigants. And this was the usual manner of Proceedings in their Courts of Justice among the Egyptians. For it was judg'd, that by the Harangues of Lawyers, a Cloud was cast upon the Truth and Justice of the Cause; inasmuch as the Arts of Rhetoricians, the jugling Tricks of Dissemblers, and the Fears of them that are like to be overthrown in their Cause, have wrought upon many to wave the strictness of the Law, and to turn aside from the Rule of Justice and Truth: And indeed its often found by experience, that Offenders brought to the Bar of Justice by the help of a cunning Orator, or their own Rhetorical Flourishes (either through a Fallacy put upon the Court, or taking Insinuations, or melting Compassions wrought by the Speaker in the Judge) have escap'd: Therefore the Egyptians concluded, that if all the Accusation was put into Writing, and consideration had barely of what was there set down, the Sentence would be more exact and just. And so by that means crafty and ingenious Fellows would be no more favour'd, than those that were more dull, nor the experienc'd Artist more than those that were ignorant and unskilful, nor the audacious Liar more than those that are modest and sincere; but all would have equal Justice, in regard sufficient time was allow'd by the Law, both for the Parties to answer each other, and for the Judges to consider and give Judgment upon the Allegations of both sides.
And since now we are come to mention the Laws, we conceive it will not be foreign from our History to give an account of such Laws of the Egyptians as are either remarkable for their Antiquity, or strange and different from all other, or that may be any way useful and profitable to the studious Readers.
1. And in the first place, those were to dye who were guilty of Perjury, being such as committed the Two greatest Crimes; that is, Impiety towards the Gods, and Violation of Faith and Truth, the strongest Band of Humane Society.
2. If any upon the Road saw a Man likely to be kill'd, or to be violently assaulted, and did not rescue him if he were able, he was to dye for it. And if in truth he were not able to defend him, yet he was bound to discover the Thieves, and to prosecute them in a due Course of Law. If he neglected this, he was according to the Law to be scourg'd with a certain number of Stripes, and to be kept without Food for Three Days together.
3. False Accusers were to suffer the same Punishment as those whom they falsly accus'd were to have undergone, if they had afterwards been convicted of the Offence.
4. All the Egyptians were injoyn'd to give in their Names in Writing, to the Governors of the Provinces, shewing how and by what means, they got their Livelihood. He that gave a false Account in such case, or if it appear'd he liv'd by Robbery, or any other unjust course, he was to dye; which Law it's said Solon brought over out of Egypt into Athens.
5. He that wilfully kill'd a Freeman; nay, a very Bondslave, was by the Law to dye; thereby designing to restrain Men from wicked Actions, as having no respect to the state and condition of the Person suffering, but to the advis'd act of the Offender; and by this care of Slaves, Men learnt that Freemen were much less to be destroy'd.
6. Parents that kill'd their Children, were not to dye, but were forc'd for Three Days and Nights together to hug them continually in their Arms, and had a Guard all the while over them, to see they did it; for they thought it not fit that they should dye, who gave Life to their Children; but rather that Men should be deterr'd from such Attempts by a Punishment that seem'd attended with Sorrow and Repentance.
7. But for Patricides, they provided a most severe kind of Punishment: For those that were convicted of this Offence, were laid upon Thorns, and burnt alive after that they had, first mangl'd the Members of their Bodies with sharp Canes, Piece-meal about the bigness of a Man's Thumb. For they counted it Page 41 the most wicked Act that Men could be guilty of, to take away the Lives of them from whom they had their own.
8. Those that were with Child, were not to be executed till they were delivered, which Law was receiv'd by many of the Grecians, judging it very unjust for the Innocent to suffer with the Offender, and Two to dye for the Offence of one only. Besides, in as much as the Crime was maliciously and advisedly committed, it was unreasonable that the Child that understood not what was done, should undergo the same Punishment. And that which is of the greatest Consideration, is, that it was altogether unjust (being the Mother was only accus'd and condemn'd as guilty) the Child (Common both to Father and Mother) should lose its Life; for that Judge is as unjust that destroys the Innocent, as he that spares him that is guilty of Murther.
9. These are the Capital Laws which are chiefly worthy of Praise and Commendation; as to others, those concerning military Affairs, provided that Souldiers who ran away from their Colours or mutined, though they should not dye, yet should be otherwise punish'd with the utmost Disgrace imaginable; but if they after wipe off their Disgrace by their Valour, they are restor'd to their former Post and Trust. By this inflicting of a Punishment more grievous than Death, the Lawgiver design'd that all should look upon Disgrace and Infamy as the greatest of Evils: Besides it was judg'd, that those who were put to Death, could never be further serviceable to the Commonwealth; but such as were degraded only (through a desire to repair their Reputation) might be very useful, and do much good service in time to come.
10. Such as reveal'd the Secrets of the Army to the Enemy, were to have their Tongues cut out.
11. They that coyn'd false and adulterated Mony, or contriv'd false Weights, or Counterfeited Seals; and Scriveners or Clerks that forg'd Deeds, or raz'd publick Records, or produc'd any forg'd Contracts, were to have both their Hands cut off, that every one might suffer in that part wherewith he had offended in such a manner as not to be repaired during their Life; and that others warn'd by so severe a Punishment, might be deter'd from the Commission of the like Offence.
12. In Relation to Women the Laws were very severe: For he that committed a Rape upon a Free Woman, was to have his Privy Members cut off; for they judg'd that Three most hainous Offences were included in that one vile Act, that is, Wrong, Defilement and Bastardy.
13. In case of Adultery, the Man was to have a Thousand Lashes with Rods, and the Woman her Nose cut off. For it was lookt upon very sit, that the Adulteress that trickt up her self to allure Men to Wantonness, should be punish'd in that part where her Charms chiefly lay.
14. They say that Bocchoris made the Laws concerning Merchandize. As to these, it was a Law, That if a Man borrow'd Mony, and the lender had no Writing to shew for it, and the other deny'd it upon his Oath, he should be quit of the Debt; to that end therefore in the First Place, they were to sacrifice to the Gods, as Men making Conscience, and tender and Scrupulous in taking of an Oath. For it being clear and evident that he that swears often again and again, at last loses his Credit, every Man to prevent that Mischief, will be very cautions of being brought to an Oath. Moreover, the Lawgiver had this Design, that by grounding a Man's Credit and Reputation wholly upon the Integrity of his Life and Conversation, every one would be induc'd to honest and virtuous Actions, lest he should be despis'd as a Man of no Credit or Worth. Besides, it was judg'd a most unjust thing not to believe him upon his Oath in that matter relating to his Contract, to whom Credit was given in the self same thing without an Oath before.
15. For those that lent Mony by Contract in Writing, it was not lawful to take Usury above what would double the Stock; and that Payment should be made only out of the Debtors Goods; but his Body was not to be liable in any wise to Imprisonment: And those were counted the Debtors Goods, which he had either earn'd by his Labour, or had been bestow'd upon him by the just Proprietors. But as for their Bodies, they belong'd to the Cities where they inhabited, who had an Interest in them for the publick Services, both in Times of Peace and War; for that it was an absurd thing for him who was to venture his Life for Page 42 his Country, to be carried to Goal for a Debt by his Creditor (if it should so happen) and that the publick safety should be hazarded to gratify the Covetousness of some Private Men. This Law seems to have been established in Athens by Solon, which he call'd Sisachthy, freeing all the Citizens from being imprison'd by their Creditors for debt. And some do justly blame many of the Law-makers of Greece, that they forbad Arms, Plows and other things absolutely necessary for Labours, to be taken as Pawns, and yet permitted them that should use them to be imprison'd.
16. There's a very remarkable Law among the Egyptians concerning Theft. Those that enter into the List of Thieves, are to give in their Names to one that is their Chief and Head, and whatever they steal, they ingage to bring to him. They that have lost any thing, are to set down in writing every particular, and bring it to him, and set forth the Day, and Hour and Place, when and where they lost their Goods. Every thing being thus readily found out, after the things stolen are valu'd, the true Owner is to pay a Fourth part of the value, and so receives his Goods again. For being it was not possible to restrain all from Thieving, the Law-maker found out a way that all might be restor'd, except a small Proportion for Redemption.
The Egyptian Priests only Marry one Wife, but all others may have as many Wives as they please; and all are bound to bring up as many Children as they can for the further increase of the Inhabitants, which tends much to the Well-being either of a City or Country. None of the Sons are ever reputed Bastards, though they be begotten of a Bond-Maid, for they conceive that the Father only begets the Child, and that the Mother contributes nothing but Place and Nourishment. And they call Trees that bear Fruit Males, and those that bear none Females, contrary to what the Grecians name them. They bring up their Children with very little Cost, and are sparing upon that account to admiration. For they provide for them Broth made of any mean and poor Stuff that may easily be had; and feed those that are of strength able to eat it, with the Pith of Bulrushes rosted in the Embers, and with Roots and Herbs got in the Fenns; sometimes raw, and sometimes boyl'd, and at other times fry'd and boyl'd. Most of their Children go bare-footed and naked, the Climate is so warm and temperate. It costs not the Parent to bring up a Child to Man's Estate, above Twenty Drachma's; which is the chief Reason why Egypt is so Populous, and excels all other Places in magnificent Structures. The Priests instruct the Youth in Two sorts of Learning; that which they call Sacred, and the other which is more common and Ordinary. In Arithmetick and Geometry they keep them a long time: For in regard the River every Year changes the Face of the Soyl, the Neighbouring Inhabitants are at great difference among themselves concerning the Boundaries of their Land, which cannot be easily known but by the help of Geometry. And as for Arithmetick, as it's useful upon other occasions, so its very helpful to the Study of Geometry, and no small advantage to the Students of Astrology; for the Egyptians (as well as some others) are diligent Observers of the Course and Motions of the Stars, and preserve Remarks of every one of them for an incredible number of Years, being us'd to this Study, and to endeavour to outvy one another therein from the most antient Times. They have with great Cost and Care observ'd the Motions of the Planets; their Periodical Motions, and their stated Stops, and the Influences of every one of them, in the Nativity of Living Creatures, and what good or ill they foreshew; and very often they so clearly discover what is to come in the Course of Mens Lives, as if they pointed at the thing with the point of a Needle. They frequently presage both Famine and Plenty; grievous Diseases likely to seize both upon Man and Beast; Earthquakes, Inundations and Comets; and through long Experience they come to the fore-knowledge of such things as are commonly judg'd impossible for the Wit of Man to attain unto. They affirm that the Chaldeans in Babylon are Egyptian Colonies, and that their Astrologers have attain'd to that degree of Reputation, by the Knowledge they have learnt of the Egyptian Priests.
The rest of the common People of Egypt (as we have before declar'd) are train'd up from their very Childhood either by their Parents or Kindred in all manner of Arts and Trades whereby to get their Livelyhood.
Page 43 They teach but a very few to write and read; but Tradesmen especially learn both. It's not the Custom there to learn the Art of Wrestling or Musick; for they think that by the Exercise of daily Wrestling, the Youth improve in their Strength but for a little time, and that with a great deal of Hazard, but gain no Advantage at all as to the Health of their Bodies. And as for Musick, they look upon it not only unprofitable, but that it also makes Men soft and effeminate.
To prevent Diseases they make use of Clysters and purging Potions, Abstinence and Vomits, and this they repeat sometimes for several days together, and other times every third or fourth day. For in all manner of Food (they say) the greatest Part of it is superfluous, which breeds Diseases, and therefore the aforesaid Method whereby the Root of the Disease is pluckt up (they say) is a mighty Help both to the Preservation and Recovery of Health. For the Physicians have a publick Stipend, and make 〈◊〉 of Receipts prescrib'd by the Law, made up by the Ancient Physicians; and if they cannot cure the Patient by them, they are never blam'd; but if they use other Medicines, they are to suffer Death, in as much as the Law-maker appointed such Receipts for Cure, as were approved by the most learned Doctors, such as by long Experience had been found effectual.
The Adoration and Worshipping of Beasts among the Egyptians seems justly to many a most strange and unaccountable thing, and worthy Enquiry; for they worship some Creatures even above measure, when they are dead as well as when they are living; as Cats, Ichneumons, Dogs, Kites, the Bird Ibis, Wolves and Crocodiles, and many other such like. The Cause of which I shall endeavour to give, having first premis'd something briefly concerning them. And first of all, they dedicate a piece of Land to every kind of Creature they adore, assigning the Profits for feeding and taking care of them. To some of these Deities the Egyptians give Thanks for recovering their Children from Sickness, as by shaving their Heads, and weighing the Hair, with the like Weight of Gold or Silver, and then giving that Mony to them that have the Care of the Beasts. To the Kites, while they are flying they cry out with a loud Voice, and throw pieces of Flesh for them upon the Ground till such time as they take it. To the Cats and Ichneumons they give Bread soakt in Milk, stroaking and making much of them, or feed them with pieces of Fish taken in the River Nile. In the same manner they provide for the other Beasts Food according to their several kinds. They are so far from not paying this. Homage to their Creatures, or being asham'd of them, that on the contrary they glory in them, as in the highest Adoration of the Gods, and carry about special Marks and Ensigns of Honour for them through City and Country; upon which Account those that have the Care of the Beasts (being seen after off) are honour'd and worshipp'd by all by falling down upon their Knees. When any one of them dye they wrap it in fine Linnen, and with Howling beat upon their Breasts, and so carry it forth to be salted, and then after they have anointed it with the Oyl of Cedar and other things, which both give the Body a fragrant Smell and preserve it a long time from Putrefaction, they bury it in a secret place. He that wilfully kills any of these Beasts, is to suffer Death; but if any kill a Cat or the Bird Ibis, whether wilfully or otherwise, he's certainly drag'd away to Death by the Multitude, and sometimes most cruelly without any formal Tryal or Judgment of Law. For fear of this, if any by chance find any of these Creatures dead, they stand aloof, and with lamentable Cries and Protestations tell every body that they found it dead. And such is the religious Veneration imprest upon the Hearts of Men towards these Creatures, and so obstinately is every one bent to adore and worship them, that even at the time when the Romans were about making a League with Ptolomy, and all the People made it their great Business to caress and shew all Civility and Kindness imaginable to them that came out of Italy, and through Fear strove all they could that no Occasion might in the least be given to disoblige them or be the Cause of a War, yet it so happ'ned that upon a Cat being kill'd by a Roman, the People in a Tumult ran to his Lodging, and neither the Princes sent by the King to dissuade them, nor the Fear of the Romans could deliver the Person from the Rage of the People, tho' he did it against his Will; and this I relate not by Hear-say, but was my self an Eye-witness of it at the time of my Travels into Egypt. If these things seem incredible and like to Fables, those that we shall hereafter relate will look more strange. For it's reported, that at a time when Page 44 there was a Famine in Egypt, many were driven to that strait, that by turns they fed one upon another; but not a Man was accused to have in the least tasted of any of these sacred Creatures. Nay, if a Dog be found dead in a House, the whole Family shave their Bodies all over, and make great Lamentation; and that which is most wonderful, is, That if any Wine, Bread or any other Victuals be in the House where any of these Creatures die, it's a part of their Superstition, not to make use of any of them for any purpose whatsoever. And when they have been abroad in the Wars in foreign Countries, they have with great Lamentation brought with them dead Cats and Kites into Egypt, when in the mean time they have been ready to starve for want of Provision. Moreover what Acts of Religious Worship they perform'd towards Apis in Memphis,Mnevis in Heliopolis, the Goat in Mendes, the Crocodile in the Lake of Myris, and the Lyon kept in Leontopolis, and many other such like, is easie to describe, but very difficult to believe, except a Man saw it. For these Creatures are kept and fed in consecrated Ground inclos'd, and many great Men provide Food for them at great Cost and Charge; for they constantly give them fine Wheat-Flower, Frumenty, Sweet-meats of all sorts made up with Honey, and Geese sometimes rosted, and sometimes boyl'd; and for such as fed upon raw Flesh, they provide Birds. To say no more, they are excessive in their Costs and Charges in feeding of these Creatures; and forbear not to wash them in hot Baths, to anoint them with the most precious Unguents, and perfume them with the sweetest Odours. They provide likewise for them most rich Beds to lye upon, with decent Furniture, and are extraordinary careful about their generating and coition one with another, according to the Law of Nature. They breed up for every one of the Males (according to their Kinds) the most beautiful She-mate, and call them their Concubines or Sweet-hearts, and are at great Costs and Charges in looking to them.
When any of them dye, they are as much concern'd as at the Deaths of their own Children, and lay out in Burying of them as much as all their Goods are worth, and far more. For when Apis through Old Age dy'd at Memphis after the Death of Alexander, and in the Reign of Ptolomy Lagus, his Keeper not only spent all that vast Provision he had made, in burying of him, but borrow'd of Ptolomy Fifty Talents of Silver for the same purpose. And in our time some of the Keepers of these Creatures have lavisht away no less than a Hundred Talents in the maintaining of them. To this may be further added, what is in use among them concerning the sacred Ox, which they call Apis. After the splendid Funeral of Apis is over, those Priests that have the Charge of the Business, seek out another Calf, as like the former as possibly they can find; and when they have found one, an end is put to all further Mourning and Lamentation; and such Priests as are appointed for that purpose, lead the young * Ox through the City of Nile, and feed him Forty Days. Then they put him into a Barge, wherein is a Colden Cabbin, and so transport him as a God to Memphis, and place him in Vulcan's Grove. During the Forty Days before mention'd, none but Women are admitted to see him, who being plac'd full in his view, pluck up their Coats, and shew their Privy Parts: After they are forbad to come into the Sight of this New God. For the Adoration of this Ox, they give this Reason. They say that the Soul of Osiris pass'd into an Ox; and therefore whenever the Ox is Dedicated, to this very Day the Spirit of Osiris is infus'd into one Ox after another to Posterity. But some say, that the Members of Osiris (who was kill'd by Typhon) were thrown by Isis into an Ox made of Wood, cover'd with Ox-Hides, and from thence the City Busiris was so call'd. Many other things they fabulously report of Apis, which would be too tedious particularly to relate. But in as much as all that relate to this Adoration of Beasts are wonderful and indeed incredible, its very difficult to find out the true Causes and Grounds of this Superstition. We have before related, that the Priests have a private and secret account of these things in the History of the Gods; but the Common People give these Three Reasons for what they do. The First of which is altogether Fabulous, and agrees with the old Dotage: For they say, that the First Gods were so very few, and Men so many above them in number, and so wicked and impious, that they were too weak for them, and therefore transform'd themselves into Beasts, and by that means avoided their Assaults and Cruelty. But afterwards they say that the Kings and Princes of the Earth (in gratitude to them that were the first Authors of their well-being) directed how carefully those Creatures Page 45 whose Shapes they had assum'd) should be fed while they were alive, and how they were to be Buried when they were dead. Another Reason they give is this: The antient Egyptians, they say, being often defeated by the Neighbouring Nations, by reason of the disorder and confusion that was among them in drawing up of their Battalions, found out at last the way of Carrying Standards or Ensigns before their Several Regiments; and therefore they painted the Images of these Beasts, which now they adore, and fixt 'em at the end of a Spear, which the Officers carry'd before them, and by this means every Man perfectly knew the Regiment he belong'd unto; and being that by the Observation of this good Order and Discipline, they were often Victorious, they afcrib'd their Deliverance to these Creatures; and to make to them a grateful Return, it was ordain'd for a Law, that none of these Creatures, whose Representations were formerly thus carry'd, should be kill'd, but religiously and carefully ador'd, as is before related. The Third Reason alledg'd by them, is the Profit and Advantage these Creatures bring to the common support and maintenance of Humane Life. For the Cow is both serviceable to the Plow, and for breeding others for the same use. The Sheep yeans twice a Year, and yields Wool for Cloathing and Ornament, and of her Milk and Cream are made large and pleasant Cheefes. The Dog is useful both for the Guard of the House, and the pleasure of Hunting in the Field, and therefore their God whom they call Anubis, they represent with a Dog's Head, signifying thereby that a Dog was the Guard both to Osiris and Isis. Others say, that when they sought for Osiris, Dogs guided Isis, and by their barking and yelling (as kind and faithful Associates with the Inquisitors) drove away the wild Beasts, and diverted others that were in their way; and therefore in celebrating the Feast of Isis, Dogs lead the way in the Procession. Those that first instituted this Custom, signifying thereby the ancient kindness and good Service of this Creature. The Cat likewise is very serviceable against the Venemous Stings of Serpents, and the deadly Bite of the Asp. The Ichneumenon secretly watches where the Crocodile lays her Eggs, and breaks them in pieces, and that he does with a great deal of eagerness, by natural instinct, without any necessity for his own support; and if this Creature were not thus serviceable, Crocodiles would abound to that degree, that there were no Sailing in Nile: Yea, the Crocodiles themselves are destroy'd by this Creature in a wonderful and incredible manner. For the Ichneumenon rouls himself in the Mud, and then observing the Crocodile sleeping upon the Bank of the River with his Mouth wide open, suddenly whips down through his Throat into his very Bowels, and presently gnaws his way through his Belly, and so escapes himself, with the Death of his Enemy. Among the Birds, the Ibis is serviceable for the destroying of Snakes, Locusts and the Palmer Worm. The Kite is an Enemy to the Scorpions, horn'd Serpents, and other little Creatures, that both bite and sting Men to Death. Others say, that this Bird is Deify'd, because the Augurs make use of the swift flight of these Birds in their Divinations. Others say, that in ancient Time, a Book bound about with a Scarlet Thred (wherein were written all the Rites and Customs of Worshipping of the Gods) was carry'd by a Kite, and brought to the Priests at Thebes: For which Reason the Sacred Scribes wore a red Cap with a Kite's Feather in it.
The Thebans worship the Eagle, because she seems to be a Royal Bird, and to deserve the Adoration due to Jupiter himself. They say, the Goat was accounted amongst the number of the Gods, for the sake of his Genitals, as Priapus is honour'd among the Grecians: For this Creature is exceeding Lustful, and therefore they say that Member (the Instrument of Generation) is to be highly honour'd, as that from which all living Creatures derive their Original. They say that these Privy Parts are not only accounted Sacred among the Egyptians, but among many others, are religiously ador'd in the time of their Solemn Rites of religious Worship, as those Parts that are the Causes of Generation. And the Priests, who succeed in the Office, descended to them from their Fathers in Egypt, are first initiated into the Service of this God. For this Reason the Panes and Satyrs are greatly ador'd among them, and therefore they have Images of them set up in their Temples, with their Privy Parts erected like to the Goat, which they say, is the most lustful Creature in the World. By this Representation they would signify their Gratitude to the Gods, for the Populousness of their Country.
Page 46 The Sacred Bulls Apis and Mnevis (they say) they honour as Gods by the Command of Osiris, both for their Usefulness in Husbandry, and likewise to keep up an honourable and lasting Memory of those that first found out Bread-corn and other Fruits of the EARTH.
But however, its lawful to sacrifice red Oxen, because Typhon seem'd to be of that Colour, who treacherously murder'd Osiris, and was himself put to Death by Isis for the Murther of her Husband. They report likewise, that anciently Men that had red Hair, like Typhon, were sacrifis'd by the Kings at the Sepulcher of Osiris. And indeed, there are very few Egyptians that are red, but many that are Strangers: And hence arose the Fable of Busiris his Cruelty towards Strangers amongst the Greeks, not that there ever was any King call'd Busiris; but Osiris his Sepulcher was so call'd in the Egyptian Language. They say they pay divine Honour to Wolves, because they come so near in their Nature to Dogs, for they are very little different, and mutually ingender and bring forth Whelps.
They give likewise another Reason for their Adoration, but most fabulous of all other; for they say, that when Isis and her Son Orus were ready to joyn Battle with Typhon, Osiris came up from the Shades below in the form of a Wolf, and assisted them, and therefore when Typhon was kill'd, the Conquerors commanded that Beast to be worshipp'd, because the Day was won presently upon his Appearing.
Some affirm, that at the time of the Irruption of the Ethiopians into Egypt, a great Number of Wolves flockt together, and drove the invading Enemy beyond the City Elaphantina, and therefore that Province is call'd Lycopolitana; and for these Reasons came these Beasts before mention'd, to be thus ador'd and worshipped.
Why the Crocodile is Worship'd. Some sorts of Herbs and Roots not Eaten. Why other Creatures are Worship'd. The manner of their Burials. The Lawmakers in Egypt. Learned Men of Greece made Journeys into Egypt, as Orpheus, Homer, Plato, Solon, Pythagoras, &c. Several Proofs of this, as their Religious Rites, Fables, &c. in Greece, of Egyptian Extraction. The exquisit Art of the Stone-Carvers in Egypt.
NOW it remains, that we speak of the Deifying the Crocodile, of which many have inquir'd what might be the Reason; being that these Beasts devour Men, and yet are ador'd as Gods, who in the mean time are pernicious Instruments of many cruel Accidents. To this they answer, that their Country is not only defended by the River, but much more by the Crocodiles; and therefore the Theeves out of Arabia and Africa being affraid of the great number of these Creatures, dare not pass over the River Nile, which protection they should be depriv'd of, if these Beasts should be fallen upon; and utterly destroy'd by the Hunters.
But there's another Account given of these Things: For one of the Ancient Kings, call'd Menas, being set upon and pursu'd by his own Dogs, was forc'd into the Lake of Miris, where a Crocodile (a Wonder to be told) took him up and carri'd him over to the other side, where in Gratitude to the Beast he built a City, and call'd it Crocodile; and commanded Crocodiles to be Ador'd as Gods, and Dedicated the Lake to them for a place to Feed and Breed in. Where he built a Sepulcher for himself with a foursquare Pyramid, and a Labyrinth greatly admir'd by every Body. In the same manner they relate Stories of other Things, which would be too tedious here to recite. For some conceive it to be very clear and evident (by several of them not Eating many of the Fruits of the Earth) that Gain and Profit by sparing has infected them with this Superstition: for some never Taste Lentils, nor other Beans; and some never eat either Cheese or Onions or such like Food, although Egypt abounds with these Things. Thereby signifying that all should learn to be temperate; and whatsoever any feed upon, they should not Page 47 give themselves to Gluttony. But others give another Reason; for they say that in the Time of the Ancient Kings, the People being prone to Sedition, and Plotting to Rebel, one of their wise and prudent Princes divided Egypt into several Parts, and appointed the Worship of some Beast or other in every Part, or forbad some sort of Food, that by that means every one Adoring their own Creature, and slighting that which was Worship'd in another Province, the Egyptians might never agree amongst themselves. And this is evident from the Effects; for when one Country despises and contemns the Religious Rites and Customs of their Neighbours, this always begets Heart-burnings among them. But some give this Reason for Deifying of these Creatures: They say, that in the beginning, Men that were of a fierce and beastly Nature herded together and devoured one another; and being in, perpetual War and Discord, the stronger always destroy'd the weaker. In process of time, those that were too weak for the other (taught at length by Experience) got in Bodies together, and had the representations of those Beasts (which were afterwards Worship'd) in their Standards, to which they ran together when they were in a Fright, upon every occasion, and so made up a considerable Force against them that attempted to assault them. This was imitated by the rest, and so the whole Multitude got into a Body; and hence it was that that Creature, which every one suppos'd was the cause of his safety, was honour'd as a God, as justly deserving that Adoration. And therefore at this day the People of Egypt differ in their Religion, every one Worshiping that Beast that their Ancestors did in the beginning. To conclude, they say that the Egyptians, of all other People, are the most grateful for Favours done them, judging Gratitude to be the safest Guard of their Lives, in as much as it is evident, that all are most ready to do good to them with whom are laid up the Treasures of a grateful Mind to make a suitable Return. And for these Reasons the Egyptians seem to honour and adore their Kings no less than as if they were very Gods. For they hold that without a Divine Providence they never could be advanc'd to the Throne; and being they can confer the greatest Rewards at their will and pleasure, they judge them partakers of the Divine Nature. Now tho' we have said perhaps more than is needful of their sacred Creatures, yet with this we have set forth the Laws of the Egyptians, which are very remarkable. But when a Man comes to understand their Rites and Ceremonies in Burying their Dead, he'l be struck with much greater Admiration.
For after the Death of any of them, all the Friends and Kindred of the deceased throw Dirt upon their Heads, and run about through the City; mourning and lamenting till such time as the Body be interr'd, and abstain from Baths, Wine and all pleasant Meats in the mean time; and forbear to cloath themselves with any rich Attire. They have three sorts of Funerals: The Stately and Magnificent, the Moderate, and the Meanest. In the first they spend a Talent of Silver, in the second twenty Minas, in the last they are at very small Charges. They that have the Charge of wrapping up and burying the Body, are such as have been taught the Art by their Ancestors. These give in a Writing to the Family of every thing that is to be laid out in the Funeral, and inquire of them after what Manner they would have the Body interr'd. When every thing is agreed upon, they take up the Body and deliver it to them whose Office it is to take Care of it. Then the Chief among them (who is call'd the Scribe) having the Body laid upon the Ground, marks out how much of the left Side towards the Bowels is to be incis'd and open'd, upon which the Paraschistes (so by them call'd) with an Ethiopian Stone dissects so much of the Flesh as by the Law is justifiable, and having done it, he forthwith runs away might and main, and all there present pursue him with Execrations, and pelt him with Stones, as if he were guilty of some horrid Offence, for they look upon him as an hateful Person, who wounds and offers Violence to the Body in that kind, or does it any Prejudice whatsoever. But as for those whom they call the Taricheutae, they highly honour them, for they are the Priests Companions, and as Sacred Persons are admitted into the Temple. Assoon as they come to the dissected Body, one of the Taricheutae thrusts up his Hand through the Wound, into the Breast of the Dead, and draws out all the Intestins, but the Reins and the Heart. Another cleanses all the Bowels, and washes them in Phaenician Wine mixt with diverse Aromatick Spices. Having at last wash'd the Body, they first anoint it all over with the Oyl of Cedar and other precious Ointments for the space of forty days together; that done, they rub it well with Myrrhe, Cinnamon, and such like things, not only apt and effectual for long Preservation, Page 48 but for sweet scenting of the Body also, and so deliver it to the Kindred of the Dead, with every Member so whole and intire, that no Part of the Body seems to be alter'd till it come to the very Hairs of the Eye-lids and the Eye-brows, insomuch as the Beauty and Shape of the Face seems just as it was before. By which Means many of the Egyptians laying up the Bodies of their Ancestors in stately Monuments, perfectly see the true Visage and Countenance of those that were buried, many Ages before they themselves were born. So that in viewing the Proportion of every one of their Bodies and the Lineaments of their Faces, they take exceeding great Delight, even as much as if they were still living among them. Moreover, the Friends and nearest Relations of the Dead acquaint the Judges and the rest of their Friends with the Time prefixt for the Funeral of such an one by Name, declaring that such a day he is to pass the Lake. At which Time forty Judges appear and sit together in a Semicircle, in a Place beyond the Lake; where a Ship (before provided by such as have the Care of the Business) is hal'd up to the Shoar, govern'd by a Pilot, whom the Egyptians call Charon. And therefore they say, that Orpheus seeing this Ceremony when he was in Egypt, invented the Fable of Hell, partly imitating them in Egypt, and partly adding something of his own; of which we shall speak particularly hereafter. The Ship being now in the Lake, every one is at Liberty by the Law to accuse the Dead before the Coffin be put aboard; and if any Accuser appears and makes good his Accusation, that he liv'd an ill Life, then the Judges give Sentence, and the Body is debarr'd from being buried after the usual Manner; but if the Informer be convicted of a scandalous and malicious Accusation, he's very severely punish'd. If no Informer appear, or that the Information prove false, all the Kindred of the Deceased leave off Mourning, and begin to set forth his Praises; but say nothing of his Birth (as is the Custom among the Greeks) because they account all in Egypt to be equally noble. But they recount how the deceased was educated from a Child, his Breeding till he came to Man's Estate, his Piety towards the Gods and his Justice towards Men, his Chastity and other Virtues, wherein he excell'd; and they pray and call upon the infernal Deities to receive the deceas'd into the Society of the Just. The common People take it from the other, and approve of all that is said in his Praise with a loud Shout, and set forth likewise his Vertues with the highest Praises and Strains of Commendation, as he that is to live for ever with the just in the Kingdom of JOVE. Then they (that have Tombs of their own) interr the Corps in Places appointed for that Purpose; they that have none of their own, build a small Apartment in their own Houses, and rear up the Coffin to the Sides of the strongest Wall of the Building. Such as are deny'd common Burial, either because they are in Debt, or convicted of some horrid Crime, they bury in their own Houses; and in After-times it often happens that some of their Kindred growing rich, pay off the Debts of the deceas'd, or get him absolv'd, and then bury their Ancestor with State and Splendour. For amongst the Egyptians it's a Sacred Constitution, that they should at their greatest Costs honour their Parents and Ancestors, who are translated to an Eternal Habitation. It's a Custom likewise among them to give the Bodies of their Parents in Pawn to their Creditors, and they that do not presently redeem them, fall under the greatest Disgrace imaginable, and are deny'd Burial after their Deaths. One may justly wonder at the Authors of this excellent Constitution, who both by what we see practis'd among the living, and by the decent Burial of the dead, did (as much as possibly lay within the Power of Men) endeavour to promote Honesty and faithful Dealing one with another. For the Greeks (as to what concern'd the Rewards of the Just and the Punishment of the Impious) had nothing amongst them but invented Fables and Poetical Fictions, which never wrought upon Men for the Amendment of their Lives, but on the contrary, were despis'd and laught at by the lewder Sort. But among the Egyptians, the Punishment of the bad and the Rewards of the good being not told as idle Tales, but every day seen with their own Eyes, all Sorts were warn'd of their Duties, and by this Means was wrought and continu'd a most exact Reformation of Manners and orderly Conversation among them. For those certainly are the best Laws that advance Virtue and Honesty, and instruct Men in a prudent Converse in the World, rather than those that tend only to the heaping up of Wealth, and teach Men to be rich.
Page 49 And now its necessary for us to speak of the Legislators of Egypt, who establish'd such Laws as are both unusual elsewhere, and admirable in themselves. After the ancient way of living in Egypt, which was (according to their own Stories) in the Reigns of the Gods and Demigods; they say that Mnevis, a Man of an heroic Spirit and famous in his Generation for a commendable Life, was the first that instituted written Laws, feigning that he receiv'd them from Mercury, and that from them would accrue great Benefit and Advantage to the publick. The same Device Minos us'd among the Grecians in Creet, and Lycurgus among the Lacedemonians; The first pretending he had them from Jupiter, and the other from Apollo. This Contrivance, its said, has been made use of amongst diverse other Nations, who have reapt much Advantage by observing such Laws. For its reported, that among the Aramaspi, Zathrausles pretended he receiv'd his Laws from a good Genius; and that Zamolxis amongst the People call'd the Getes patroniz'd his by Vesta; and among the Jews, that Moses alledg'd the God call'd I AO to be the Author of his. And this they did either because they judg'd such an Invention (which brought about so much Good to Mankind) was wonderfully commendable and of a divine Stamp; or that they concluded the People would be more observant out of a reverend Regard to the Majesty and Authority of those who were said to be the Lawmakers. The second Lawmaker of Egypt, they say, was Sasyches, a very wise and prudent Prince, who added to the former, and made excellent Laws also relating to the Honour and Worship of the Gods. He's reported to have found out Geometry, and to have taught the Art of Astronomy. The third who they cry up is Sesostris, who not only excell'd all the Kings of Egypt in his warlike Atchievments, but fram'd Laws for Military Disciplin among the Egyptians, and put every thing in due Order relating to Military Affairs.
The fourth Lawmaker they say was King Bocchoris; a wise and prudent Man, he establish'd every thing that concern'd the Kings, and prescrib'd exact Rules and Laws for the making of Contracts. He was so wise and of so piercing a Judgment in his Decisions, that many of his Sentences for their Excellency are kept in Memory to this very day. He was (they say) of a very weak Constitution of Body and extraordinary covetous.
After him King Amasis imploy'd himself in the framing of Laws for the Directions of the Nomarchi in their several Governments, which reduc'd all the Provinces of Egypt into due Order. It's said, he was a most wise, just and good Man, for which he was advanc'd to the Throne by the Egyptians, tho' he was not of the Blood-Royal. 'Tis repored, that when the Eleans were about to celebrate the Olympick Games, and sent their Embassadors to him to advise them how they might manage those Sports most justly, he answer'd, That the way to do that was for none of the Eleans to be Parties in the Contest.
Polycrates, the petty King of Samos, entred into a League of Friendship with him: But when he heard how Polycrates opprest his own Subjects, and injur'd Strangers that came into his Country, he sent Embassadors to him to advise to Moderation; but not being able to persuade him, he at length sent a Letter to him to let him know he dissolv'd and renounc'd the League that was betwixt them, saying, He was not willing forthwith to be involv'd in Grief and Sorrow, for that he perfectly foresaw the miserable. Fall that would presently overtake one who govern'd so tyrannically. He was greatly admir'd, they▪ say, by the Grecians both for his kind and gentle Disposition, and for that what he said, shortly after befel Polycrates.
Darius, the Father of Xerxes, is said to be the sixth who made Laws for the Government of the Egyptians. For with Hatred and Abhorrence of the Impiety Cambyses his Predecessor for his prophaning of the Temples in Egypt, he made it his Business to approve his reverend Regard towards the Gods, and his Kindness towards Men; for the familiarly convers'd with the Egyptian Priests, and learnt their Theology, and acquainted himself with the Things and Transactions recorded in their Sacred Registers, whereby he came to understand the Heroic Spirits of the Ancient Kings, and their Kindness towards their Subjects, which caused him to imitate them in the like, and upon that Account he was so highly honour'd amongst them, that while he was alive he gain'd the Title of a GOD, which none of the other Kings ever did; and when he was dead, the People allow'd him all those Ancient Honours due and accustom'd to be done to the former Kings of Egypt after their Deaths. And these are the Men (they say) who compos'd the Laws of Egypt that are so celebrated and cry'd up amongst other People. Page 50 But in After-times (they say) many of their excellent Laws were abrogated by the Macedonians, who came to be Lords and Kings of EGYPT.
Having now given an Account of these Things, it remains we should declare how many wise and learned Men among the Grecians journey'd into Egypt in Ancient Times, to understand the Laws and Sciences of the Country. For the Egyptian Priests out of their Sacred Records relate, that Orpheus, Musaeus, Melampodes, Daedalus, Homer the Poet, Lycurgus the Spartan, Solon the Athenian, Plato the Philosopher, Pythagoras the Samian, Eudoxus the Mathematician, Democritus the Abderite, and Oenopides the Chian, all came to them in Egypt, and they shew certain Marks and Signs of all these being there. Of some by their Pictures, and of others by the Names of Places, or Pieces of Work that have been call'd after their Names. And they bring Arguments from every Trade that is us'd, to prove that every thing wherein the Grecians excel, and for which they are admir'd, was brought over from Egypt into Greece. For they say, that Orpheus brought over most of the Religious Rites and Ceremonies, both as to what concerns the Celebration of the Orgia, and relating to his wandring up and down, and the whole intire Fable of Hell; for that the Ceremonies and Rites of Osiris agree in every thing with those of Bacchus, and that those of Isis and Ceres are one and the same, differing in nothing but the Name. And whereas he introduces the wicked tormented in Hell, the Elysian Fields for the pious and just, and the fictitious Appearances of Ghosts (commonly nois'd abroad) they say he has done nothing but imitated the Egyptian Funerals. And that the feigning of Mercury to be the Conductor of Souls, was deriv'd from the old Egyptian Custom, that he who brought back the dead Body of Apis (when he came to the Place) deliver'd it to him who represented Cerberus, which being communicated by Orpheus to the Greeks, Homer in Imitation of him inserted it in his Poem,
And then he adds,
The Name (they say) of Oceanus here mention'd is attributed to the River Nile, for so the Egyptians in their own Language call it; by the Sun's Portals is meant Heliopolis; the Meadow feign'd to be the Habitation of the dead (they say) is the Place bordering upon the Lake call'd Acherusia, near to Memphis, surrounded with pleasant Ponds and Meadows, with Woods and Groves of Lotus and sweet Canes; and that therefore he feign'd those Places to be inhabited by the dead, because that many of the Egyptian Funerals, and such as were the most considerable were there; the dead Bodies being carry'd over the River and the Lake Acherusia, and there interr'd. And that other Fictions among the Grecians concerning Hell agree with those things that are done in Egypt even at this day. For the Ship which transports the dead Bodies is call'd Baris, and that for the Fare an Half-penny is paid to the Ferryman, who is call'd in their own Country Language, Charon. They say likewise, that near to these Places is the Temple of black Hecates, and the Gates of Cocytus and Lethe, made up with brazen Bars; and besides these, that there is another Gate of Truth, next to which stands the headless Image of Justice. There are many others of these Grecian Fictions remaining still in Egypt, which both in Name and Practice continue there to this day. For in the City of Acanthus, beyond Nile towards Lybia, about an hundred and twenty Furlongs from Memphis stands an Hogshead full of Holes, into which (they say) three hundred Priests every day pour in Water carried out of the River Nile. The Fable likewise of the Ass is acted at a solemn Festival not far from thence, where a Man is twisting a long Rope, and many that follow him are as fast undoing what he had before wrought.
Page 51 The Egyptians further say, That Melampodes brought into Greece the Rites and Solemnities of Bacchus, and the fabulous Story of Saturn and the Titans, and the intire History of the Sufferings of the Gods out of Egypt. And they say that Dedalus imitated the Labyrinth there, which remains to this very Day, built at first by Mendes, or (as some report) by King Marus, many Years before the Reign of Minos. They affirm likewise, that the ancient Statues of Egypt are of the same size and proportion with those set up by Dedalus in Greece; and that the stately Porch of Vulcan in Memphis, was the handy-work of Dedalus, and that he was in such high Esteem among them, that they plac'd his Statue of Wood (made by his own Hands) in the Temple; whom at length for his Ingenuity and excellent Inventions, they honour'd as a God; for in one of the Islands belonging to Memphis, a Temple dedicated to Dedalus is resorted unto by the Inhabitants at this day.
That Homer came into Egypt, amongst other Arguments, they endeavour to prove it especially by the Potion Helen gave Telemachus (in the Story of Menelaus) to cause him to forget all his Sorrows past. For the Poet seems to have made an exact Experiment of the Potion Nepenthes, which he says Helen receiv'd from Polymnestes the Wife of Thonus, and brought it from Thebes in Egypt; and indeed in that City even at this Day, the Women use this Medicine with good success: And they say, that in ancient Times, the Medicine for the Cure of Anger and Sorrow, was only to be found among the Diopolitans; Thebes and Diospolis being by them affirm'd to be one and the same City. And that Venus from an ancient Tradition, is call'd by the Inhabitants, Golden Venus; and that there is a Field so call'd, within the Liberties of Memphis: And that Homer deriv'd from Egypt his Story of the Embraces between Jupiter and Juno, and their Travelling into Ethiopia; because the Egyptians every Year carry Jupiter's Tabernacle over the River into Africa, and a few Days after bring it back again, as if the God had return'd out of Ethiopia: And that the Fiction of the Nuptials of these Two Deities was taken from the Solemnization of their Festivals, at which time both their Tabernacles adorn'd with all sorts of Flowers, are carry'd by the Priests to the Top of a Mountain. To these they add, that Lycurgus, Solon, and Plato borrow'd from Egypt many of those Laws which they establish'd in their several Commonwealths. And that Pythagoras learnt his mysterious and sacred Expressions, the Art of Geometry, Arithmetick, and Transmigration of Souls, in Egypt. They are of Opinion likewise, that Democrates was Five Years in Egypt, and in that time much improv'd himself in the Art of Astrology. So they say, thet Oenopides by his familiar Converse with the Priests and Astrologers, amongst other Advantages, gain'd especially the Knowledge of the Periodical Motion of the Sun; and came to know that his Course is contrary to that of the Stars: And that Eudoxus likewise by studying Astrology in Egypt, left many useful Monuments of his Art behind him in Greece, for which his Name was famous. Lastly, they say that the most famous Statuaries of ancient Time liv'd amongst them for some time, as Telecles and Theodorus, the Sons of Rhaecus, who made the Statue of Apollo Pythius in Samos; for its said, that one half of this Statue was made by Telecles in Samos, and the other part was finish'd by Theodorus in Ephesus; and that there was such an exact Symmetry of Parts, that the whole seemed to be the Work of one and the same hand: Which Art (they say) the Grecians were not at all acquainted with, but that it was in frequent use among the Egyptians. For with them the exact Cut of a Statue is not judg'd of by the Eye and Fancy (as it is by the Greeks) but after that they have cut out the Stone, and wrought every part by it self, then they measure the exact proportion of the whole, from the least Stone to the greatest. For they divide the whole Body into One and Twenty Parts, and One Fourth, which makes up the Symmetry and intire proportion. Upon which, after the Workmen have agreed among themselves of the bigness of the Statue, they go away, and every one of them carve their several Parts so exactly, according to their just Proportions, that the singular skill of these Workmen is wonderful and amazing. And thus the Statue in Sainos which (according to the Art and Skill in Egypt) was cut in Two from the Head to the Privities exactly in the middle, yet notwithstanding was equally proportion'd in every part. And they say, that it exactly resembles the Statues in Egypt, having its Hands stretcht out, and its Thighs in a walking Posture. But we have Page 52 now said enough of such things as are remarkable and worthy of memory in Egypt. In the next Book (according to what we purpos'd in the beginning of this) we shall give an account of things done elsewhere, and of other Fables and Srories, beginning with the Actions of the Assyrians in Asia.
The Histories of Herodotus written in 440 BC is considered to be the founding work of history in Western literature. His history included stories and fables but he claimed to have traveled extensively and learned about many countries through direct observation.
The thesis of Stolen Legacy is that the Egyptians created what is wrongly called Greek philosophy. Dr. James argues that the African origin of Greek Philosophy is well known but rarely discussed. Ancient Greek historians such as Herodotus and Diodorus the Sicilian wrote in significant detail about the contributions of Egypt. Egyptian technology and libraries were unmatched and Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato studied there. The contribution of Africa to the intellectual foundation of modern knowledge is tremendous but unacknowledged.
The Library of History by Diodorus the Sicilian is one of the most highly regarded universal histories in antiquities. His work includes the history of Egypt, Asia, Africa, Greece and Europe. His book is a must read for research of ancient history.
Bible Study The King James Bible (kjv), World English Bible (web) and Bible in Basic English (bbe) are all examples of public domain books. The King James Bible (kjv) online uses the content from these books and open source software to enhance Bible study capabilities. The site includes the verse of the day, search tools, christian literature and links to related content. It demonstrates the use of open source to create a valuable service.