The Library of History

Page 23

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—

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books