BOOK I - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
The first five books
BOOK I
BOOK II
BOOK III
BOOK IV
BOOK V







Page 42 his Country, to be carried to Goal for a Debt by his Creditor (if it should so happen) and that the publick safety should be hazarded to gratify the Covetousness of some Private Men. This Law seems to have been established in Athens by Solon, which he call'd Sisachthy, freeing all the Citizens from being imprison'd by their Creditors for debt. And some do justly blame many of the Law-makers of Greece, that they forbad Arms, Plows and other things absolutely necessary for Labours, to be taken as Pawns, and yet permitted them that should use them to be imprison'd.

16. There's a very remarkable Law among the Egyptians concerning Theft. Those that enter into the List of Thieves, are to give in their Names to one that is their Chief and Head, and whatever they steal, they ingage to bring to him. They that have lost any thing, are to set down in writing every particular, and bring it to him, and set forth the Day, and Hour and Place, when and where they lost their Goods. Every thing being thus readily found out, after the things stolen are valu'd, the true Owner is to pay a Fourth part of the value, and so receives his Goods again. For being it was not possible to restrain all from Thieving, the Law-maker found out a way that all might be restor'd, except a small Proportion for Redemption.

The Egyptian Priests only Marry one Wife, but all others may have as many Wives as they please; and all are bound to bring up as many Children as they can for the further increase of the Inhabitants, which tends much to the Well-being either of a City or Country. None of the Sons are ever reputed Bastards, though they be begotten of a Bond-Maid, for they conceive that the Father only begets the Child, and that the Mother contributes nothing but Place and Nourishment. And they call Trees that bear Fruit Males, and those that bear none Females, contrary to what the Grecians name them. They bring up their Children with very little Cost, and are sparing upon that account to admiration. For they provide for them Broth made of any mean and poor Stuff that may easily be had; and feed those that are of strength able to eat it, with the Pith of Bulrushes rosted in the Embers, and with Roots and Herbs got in the Fenns; sometimes raw, and sometimes boyl'd, and at other times fry'd and boyl'd. Most of their Children go bare-footed and naked, the Climate is so warm and temperate. It costs not the Parent to bring up a Child to Man's Estate, above Twenty Drachma's; which is the chief Reason why Egypt is so Populous, and excels all other Places in magnificent Structures. The Priests instruct the Youth in Two sorts of Learning; that which they call Sacred, and the other which is more common and Ordinary. In Arithmetick and Geometry they keep them a long time: For in regard the River every Year changes the Face of the Soyl, the Neighbouring Inhabitants are at great difference among themselves concerning the Boundaries of their Land, which cannot be easily known but by the help of Geometry. And as for Arithmetick, as it's useful upon other occasions, so its very helpful to the Study of Geometry, and no small advantage to the Students of Astrology; for the Egyptians (as well as some others) are diligent Observers of the Course and Motions of the Stars, and preserve Remarks of every one of them for an incredible number of Years, being us'd to this Study, and to endeavour to outvy one another therein from the most antient Times. They have with great Cost and Care observ'd the Motions of the Planets; their Periodical Motions, and their stated Stops, and the Influences of every one of them, in the Nativity of Living Creatures, and what good or ill they foreshew; and very often they so clearly discover what is to come in the Course of Mens Lives, as if they pointed at the thing with the point of a Needle. They frequently presage both Famine and Plenty; grievous Diseases likely to seize both upon Man and Beast; Earthquakes, Inundations and Comets; and through long Experience they come to the fore-knowledge of such things as are commonly judg'd impossible for the Wit of Man to attain unto. They affirm that the Chaldeans in Babylon are Egyptian Colonies, and that their Astrologers have attain'd to that degree of Reputation, by the Knowledge they have learnt of the Egyptian Priests.

The rest of the common People of Egypt (as we have before declar'd) are train'd up from their very Childhood either by their Parents or Kindred in all manner of Arts and Trades whereby to get their Livelyhood.



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