The Library of History

Page 38

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

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books