The Library of History

Page 10

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

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books