The Library of History

Page 12

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.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books