The Library of History

Page 11

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.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books