The Library of History

Page 47

Page 47 give themselves to Gluttony. But others give another Reason; for they say that in the Time of the Ancient Kings, the People being prone to Sedition, and Plotting to Rebel, one of their wise and prudent Princes divided Egypt into several Parts, and appointed the Worship of some Beast or other in every Part, or forbad some sort of Food, that by that means every one Adoring their own Creature, and slighting that which was Worship'd in another Province, the Egyptians might never agree amongst themselves. And this is evident from the Effects; for when one Country despises and contemns the Religious Rites and Customs of their Neighbours, this always begets Heart-burnings among them. But some give this Reason for Deifying of these Creatures: They say, that in the beginning, Men that were of a fierce and beastly Nature herded together and devoured one another; and being in, perpetual War and Discord, the stronger always destroy'd the weaker. In process of time, those that were too weak for the other (taught at length by Experience) got in Bodies together, and had the representations of those Beasts (which were afterwards Worship'd) in their Standards, to which they ran together when they were in a Fright, upon every occasion, and so made up a considerable Force against them that attempted to assault them. This was imitated by the rest, and so the whole Multitude got into a Body; and hence it was that that Creature, which every one suppos'd was the cause of his safety, was honour'd as a God, as justly deserving that Adoration. And therefore at this day the People of Egypt differ in their Religion, every one Worshiping that Beast that their Ancestors did in the beginning. To conclude, they say that the Egyptians, of all other People, are the most grateful for Favours done them, judging Gratitude to be the safest Guard of their Lives, in as much as it is evident, that all are most ready to do good to them with whom are laid up the Treasures of a grateful Mind to make a suitable Return. And for these Reasons the Egyptians seem to honour and adore their Kings no less than as if they were very Gods. For they hold that without a Divine Providence they never could be advanc'd to the Throne; and being they can confer the greatest Rewards at their will and pleasure, they judge them partakers of the Divine Nature. Now tho' we have said perhaps more than is needful of their sacred Creatures, yet with this we have set forth the Laws of the Egyptians, which are very remarkable. But when a Man comes to understand their Rites and Ceremonies in Burying their Dead, he'l be struck with much greater Admiration.

For after the Death of any of them, all the Friends and Kindred of the deceased throw Dirt upon their Heads, and run about through the City; mourning and lamenting till such time as the Body be interr'd, and abstain from Baths, Wine and all pleasant Meats in the mean time; and forbear to cloath themselves with any rich Attire. They have three sorts of Funerals: The Stately and Magnificent, the Moderate, and the Meanest. In the first they spend a Talent of Silver, in the second twenty Minas, in the last they are at very small Charges. They that have the Charge of wrapping up and burying the Body, are such as have been taught the Art by their Ancestors. These give in a Writing to the Family of every thing that is to be laid out in the Funeral, and inquire of them after what Manner they would have the Body interr'd. When every thing is agreed upon, they take up the Body and deliver it to them whose Office it is to take Care of it. Then the Chief among them (who is call'd the Scribe) having the Body laid upon the Ground, marks out how much of the left Side towards the Bowels is to be incis'd and open'd, upon which the Paraschistes (so by them call'd) with an Ethiopian Stone dissects so much of the Flesh as by the Law is justifiable, and having done it, he forthwith runs away might and main, and all there present pursue him with Execrations, and pelt him with Stones, as if he were guilty of some horrid Offence, for they look upon him as an hateful Person, who wounds and offers Violence to the Body in that kind, or does it any Prejudice whatsoever. But as for those whom they call the Taricheutae, they highly honour them, for they are the Priests Companions, and as Sacred Persons are admitted into the Temple. Assoon as they come to the dissected Body, one of the Taricheutae thrusts up his Hand through the Wound, into the Breast of the Dead, and draws out all the Intestins, but the Reins and the Heart. Another cleanses all the Bowels, and washes them in Phaenician Wine mixt with diverse Aromatick Spices. Having at last wash'd the Body, they first anoint it all over with the Oyl of Cedar and other precious Ointments for the space of forty days together; that done, they rub it well with Myrrhe, Cinnamon, and such like things, not only apt and effectual for long Preservation,

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