The Library of History

Page 86

Page 86 It's affirm'd among them, that they were the first that instituted Religious Worship, and pompous Sacrifices, with solemn Assemblies, and other things us'd in the Service, and to the honour of the Gods; and they hold that the Sacrifices of the Ethiopians are the most acceptable to the Gods of any other; and in Testimony hereof, they produce the most ancient Poet, and of greatest Authority amongst the Grecians, who in his Iliads introduces Jupiter with the rest of the Gods travelling into Ethiopia to the Anniversary Sacrifice, and solemn Festival prepar'd for them by the Ethiopians.

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
For Jove and all the Gods are gone to Feast
With pious Ethiopians in the West.

And they say it's very evident, that the Gods reward them for their Piety, for that they were never brought into subjection to any Foreign Prince, but always remain'd a free People, and at perfect Peace among themselves. And although many, and those most Potent Princes likewise, have invaded, yet none have succeeded in their Attempts. For Cambyses making in upon them with mighty Forces, was in danger both to have lost his Life and his whole Army. And Semiramis (who was so famous both for her Skill and Success in Arms,) having but enter'd a little way into Ethiopia, presently saw it was to no purpose to think of conquering that Nation.

Hercules likewise, and Bacchus, who ran through the whole World, forbore only the Ethiopians, being awed by the Piety of that People, and discourag'd with the difficulty of the Attempt.

The Ethiopians likewise say, that the Egyptians are a Colony drawn out from them by Osiris; and that Egypt was formerly no part of the Continent, but a Sea at the beginning of the World; but that afterwards it was by degrees made Land by the River Nile, which brought down Slime and Mud out of Ethiopia. And that that Country was made dry Land, by heaps of Earth forc'd down by the River (they say) is apparent by evident Signs about the Mouths of Nile. For always every Year, may be seen fresh Heaps of Mud cast up at the Mouths of the River by the working of the Sea, and the Land increas'd by it. Moreover they affirm, that most of the Egyptian Laws, are the same with those in Ethiopia, the Colony still observing the Customs of their Ancestors; and that they learnt from the Ethiopians the Custom of Deifying of their Kings, and their Care and Costs in their Burials, and such like things us'd amongst them: Besides the making of Statues, and the Characters of their Letters. For whereas the Egyptians have common and ordinary Characters us'd promiscuously by all the Inhabitants, and likewise those they call Sacred, known only by the Priests, privately taught them by their Parents; yet the Ethiopians use both those sorts without any difference or distinction. The several Colleges of the Priests (they say) observe one and the same Order and Discipline in both the Nations. For as many as are so consecrated for Divine Service, are wholly devoted to Purity and Religion, and in both Countries are shaven alike, and are cloath'd with the like Stoles and Attire, and carry a Scepter like unto a Plow-share, such as their Kings likewise bear; with high crown'd Caps tufted at the Top, wreath'd round with Serpents call'd Asps; by which is seem'd to be signify'd, that those who contrive any thing against the Life of the King, are as sure to dye, as if they were stung with the deadly Bite of the Asp. Many other things they report of their Antiquity, and of a Colony of them heretofore carry'd away into Egypt, of which it's unnecessary further to write.

But lest we should omit things that are antient and remarkable, it's fit something should be said of the Ethiopick Characters, and of those which the Egyptians call Hieroglyphicks.

The Ethiopick Letters represent the Shapes of divers Beasts, Parts and Members of Mens Bodies, and Artificers Tools and Instruments. For by their Writing they do not express any thing by composition of Syllables, but by the signification of Images and Representations, the meaning of them being ingraven and fixt in the Memory by use and exercise. For sometimes they draw the Shape of a

Bibliotheca Historica

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