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Title: History Of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 1 (of 12)
Author: Maspero, G. (Gaston), 1846-1916
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History Of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 1 (of 12)" ***

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[Illustration: Spines]

[Illustration: Cover]


By G. MASPERO, Honorable Doctor of Civil Laws, and Fellow of Queen's
College, Oxford; Member of the Institute and Professor at the College of

Edited by A. H. SAYCE, Professor of Assyriology, Oxford

Translated by M. L. McCLURE, Member of the Committee of the Egypt
Exploration Fund


Volume I., Part A.




[Illustration: Frontispiece]

[Illustration: Titlepage]


Professor Maspero does not need to be introduced to us. His name is
well known in England and America as that of one of the chief masters of
Egyptian science as well as of ancient Oriental history and archaeology.
Alike as a philologist, a historian, and an archaeologist, he occupies
a foremost place in the annals of modern knowledge and research. He
possesses that quick apprehension and fertility of resource without
which the decipherment of ancient texts is impossible, and he also
possesses a sympathy with the past and a power of realizing it which are
indispensable if we would picture it aright. His intimate acquaintance
with Egypt and its literature, and the opportunities of discovery
afforded him by his position for several years as director of the Bulaq
Museum, give him an unique claim to speak with authority on the history
of the valley of the Nile. In the present work he has been prodigal of
his abundant stores of learning and knowledge, and it may therefore be
regarded as the most complete account of ancient Egypt that has ever yet
been published.

In the case of Babylonia and Assyria he no longer, it is true, speaks
at first hand. But he has thoroughly studied the latest and best
authorities on the subject, and has weighed their statements with the
judgment which comes from an exhaustive acquaintance with a similar
department of knowledge.

Naturally, in progressive studies like those of Egyptology and
Assyriology, a good many theories and conclusions must be tentative and
provisional only. Discovery crowds so quickly on discovery, that the
truth of to-day is often apt to be modified or amplified by the truth
of to-morrow. A single fresh fact may throw a wholly new and unexpected
light upon the results we have already gained, and cause them to assume
a somewhat changed aspect. But this is what must happen in all sciences
in which there is a healthy growth, and archaeological science is no
exception to the rule.

The spelling of ancient Egyptian proper names adopted by Professor
Maspero will perhaps seem strange to many. But it must be remembered
that all our attempts to represent the pronunciation of ancient Egyptian
words can be approximate only; we can never ascertain with certainty how
they were actually sounded. All that can be done is to determine what
pronunciation was assigned to them in the Greek period, and to work
backwards from this, so far as it is possible, to more remote ages.
This is what Professor Maspero has done, and it must be no slight
satisfaction to him to find that on the whole his system of
transliteration is confirmed by the cuneiform tablets of Tel el-Amarna.

The difficulties attaching to the spelling of Assyrian names are
different from those which beset our attempts to reproduce, even
approximately, the names of ancient Egypt. The cuneiform system of
writing was syllabic, each character denoting a syllable, so that we
know what were the vowels in a proper name as well as the consonants.
Moreover, the pronunciation of the consonants resembled that of the
Hebrew consonants, the transliteration of which has long since become
conventional. When, therefore, an Assyrian or Babylonian name is written
phonetically, its correct transliteration is not often a matter
of question. But, unfortunately, the names are not always written
phonetically. The cuneiform script was an inheritance from the
non-Semitic predecessors of the Semites in Babylonia, and in this script
the characters represented words as well as sounds. Not unfrequently
the Semitic Assyrians continued to write a name in the old Sumerian way
instead of spelling it phonetically, the result being that we do not
know how it was pronounced in their own language. The name of the
Chaldæan Noab, for instance, is written with two characters which
ideographically signify "the sun" or "day of life," and of the first of
which the Sumerian values were _ut, babar, khis, tarn,_ and _par_,
while the second had the value of _zi_. Were it not that the Chaldæan
historian Bêrôssos writes the name Xisuthros, we should have no clue to
its Semitic pronunciation.

Professor Maspero's learning and indefatigable industry are well known
to me, but I confess I was not prepared for the exhaustive acquaintance
he shows with Assyriological literature. Nothing seems to have escaped
his notice. Papers and books just published, and half forgotten articles
in obscure periodicals which appeared years ago, have all alike been
used and quoted by him. Naturally, however, there are some points on
which I should be inclined to differ from the conclusions he draws,
or to which he has been led by other Assyriologists. Without being an
Assyriologist himself, it was impossible for him to be acquainted with
that portion of the evidence on certain disputed questions which is only
to be found in still unpublished or untranslated inscriptions.

There are two points which seem to me of sufficient importance
to justify my expression of dissent from his views. These are the
geographical situation of the land of Magan, and the historical
character of the annals of Sargon of Accad. The evidence about Magan is
very clear. Magan is usually associated with the country of Melukhkha,
"the salt" desert, and in _every_ text in which its geographical
position is indicated it is placed in the immediate vicinity of Egypt.
Thus Assur-bani-pal, after stating that he had "gone to the lands of
Magan and Melukhkha," goes on to say that he "directed his road to
Egypt and Kush," and then describes the first of his Egyptian campaigns.
Similar testimony is borne by Esar-haddon. The latter king tells us that
after quitting Egypt he directed his road to the land of Melukhkha, a
desert region in which there were no rivers, and which extended "to the
city of Rapikh" (the modern Raphia) "at the edge of the wadi of Egypt"
(the present Wadi El-Arîsh). After this he received camels from the king
of the Arabs, and made his way to the land and city of Magan. The Tel
el-Amarna tablets enable us to carry the record back to the fifteenth
century b.c. In certain of the tablets now as Berlin (Winckler and Abel,
42 and 45) the Phoenician governor of the Pharaoh asks that help should
be sent him from Melukhkha and Egypt: "The king should hear the words of
his servant, and send ten men of the country of Melukhkha and twenty men
of the country of Egypt to defend the city [of Gebal] for the king." And
again, "I have sent [to] Pharaoh" (literally, "the great house") "for a
garrison of men from the country of Melukhkha, and... the king has
just despatched a garrison [from] the country of Melukhkha." At a still
earlier date we have indications that Melukhkha and Magan denoted the
same region of the world. In an old Babylonian geographical list which
belongs to the early days of Chaldsean history, Magan is described as
"the country of bronze," and Melukhkha as "the country of the _samdu_,"
or "malachite." It was this list which originally led Oppert, Lenormant,
and myself independently to the conviction that Magan was to be looked
for in the Sinaitic Peninsula. Magan included, however, the Midian of
Scripture, and the city of Magan, called Makkan in Semitic Assyrian, is
probably the Makna of classical geography, now represented by the ruins
of Mukna.

As I have always maintained the historical character of the annals of
Sargon of Accad, long before recent discoveries led Professor Hilprecht
and others to adopt the same view, it is as well to state why I
consider them worthy of credit. In themselves the annals contain
nothing improbable; indeed, what might seem the most unlikely portion
of them--that which describes the extension of Sargon's empire to the
shores of the Mediterranean--has been confirmed by the progress of
research. Ammi-satana, a king of the first dynasty of Babylon (about
2200 B.C.), calls himself "king of the country of the Amorites," and
the Tel el-Amarna tablets have revealed to us how deep and long-lasting
Babylonian influence must have been throughout Western Asia. Moreover,
the vase described by Professor Maspero in the present work proves that
the expedition of Naram-Sin against Magan was an historical reality, and
such an expedition was only possible if "the land of the Amorites," the
Syria and Palestine of later days, had been secured in the rear.
But what chiefly led me to the belief that the annals are a document
contemporaneous with the events narrated in them, are two facts which
do not seem to have been sufficiently considered. On the one side, while
the annals of Sargon are given in full, those of his son Naram-Sin break
off abruptly in the early part of his reign. I see no explanation of
this, except that they were composed while Naram-Sin was still on the
throne. On the other side, the campaigns of the two monarchs are coupled
with the astrological phenomena on which the success of the campaigns
was supposed to depend. We know that the Babylonians were given to the
practice and study of astrology from the earliest days of their history;
we know also that even in the time of the later Assyrian monarchy it was
still customary for the general in the field to be accompanied by
the _asipu_, or "prophet," the ashshâph of Dan. ii. 10, on whose
interpretation of the signs of heaven the movements of the army
depended; and in the infancy of Chaldæn history we should accordingly
expect to find the astrological sign recorded along with the event with
which it was bound up. At a subsequent period the sign and the event
were separated from one another in literature, and had the annals of
Sargon been a later compilation, in their case also the separation would
assuredly have been made. That, on the contrary, the annals have the
form which they could have assumed and ought to have assumed only at
the beginning of contemporaneous Babylonian history, is to me a strong
testimony in favour of their genuineness.

It may be added that Babylonian seal-cylinders have been found in
Cyprus, one of which is of the age of Sargon of Accad, its style and
workmanship being the same as that of the cylinder figured in vol. iii.
p. 96, while the other, though of later date, belonged to a person
who describes himself as "the servant of the deified Naram-Sin." Such
cylinders may, of course, have been brought to the island in later
times; but when we remember that a characteristic object of prehistoric
Cypriote art is an imitation of the seal-cylinder of Chaldsea, their
discovery cannot be wholly an accident.

Professor Maspero has brought his facts up to so recent a date that
there is very little to add to what he has written. Since his
manuscript was in type, however, a few additions have been made to our
Assyriological knowledge. A fresh examination of the Babylonian dynastic
tablet has led Professor Delitzsch to make some alterations in the
published account of what Professor Maspero calls the ninth dynasty.
According to Professor Delitzsch, the number of kings composing the
dynasty is stated on the tablet to be twenty-one, and not thirty-one as
was formerly read, and the number of lost lines exactly corresponds with
this figure. The first of the kings reigned thirty-six years, and he
had a predecessor belonging to the previous dynasty whose name has been
lost. There would consequently have been two Elamite usurpers instead of

I would further draw attention to an interesting text, published by
Mr. Strong in the _Babylonian and Oriental Record_, which I believe to
contain the name of a king who belonged to the legendary dynasties of
Chaldæa. This is Samas-natsir, who is coupled with Sargon of Accad and
other early monarchs in one of the lists. The legend, if I interpret it
rightly, states that "Elam shall be altogether given to Samas-natsir;"
and the same prince is further described as building Nippur and Dur-ilu,
as King of Babylon and as conqueror both of a certain Baldakha and of
Khumba-sitir, "the king of the cedar-forest." It will be remembered that
in the Epic of Gil-games, Khumbaba also is stated to have been the lord
of the "cedar-forest."

But of new discoveries and facts there is a constant supply, and it
is impossible for the historian to keep pace with them. Even while the
sheets of his work are passing through the press, the excavator, the
explorer, and the decipherer are adding to our previous stores of
knowledge. In Egypt, Mr. de Morgan's unwearied energy has raised as it
were out of the ground, at Kom Ombo, a vast and splendidly preserved
temple, of whose existence we had hardly dreamed; has discovered
twelfth-dynasty jewellery at Dahshur of the most exquisite workmanship,
and at Meir and Assiut has found in tombs of the sixth dynasty painted
models of the trades and professions of the day, as well as fighting
battalions of soldiers, which, for freshness and lifelike reality,
contrast favourably with the models which come from India to-day. In
Babylonia, the American Expedition, under Mr. Haines, has at Niffer
unearthed monuments of older date than those of Sargon of Accad. Nor
must I forget to mention the lotiform column found by Mr. de Morgan in
a tomb of the Old Empire at Abusir, or the interesting discovery made by
Mr. Arthur Evans of seals and other objects from the prehistoric sites
of Krete and other parts of the AEgean, inscribed with hieroglyphic
characters which reveal a new system of writing that must at one time
have existed by the side of the Hittite hieroglyphs, and may have had
its origin in the influence exercised by Egypt on the peoples of the
Mediterranean in the age of the twelfth dynasty.

In volumes IV., V., and VI. we find ourselves in the full light of an
advanced culture. The nations of the ancient East are no longer each
pursuing an isolated existence, and separately developing the seeds of
civilization and culture on the banks of the Euphrates and the Nile.
Asia and Africa have met in mortal combat. Babylonia has carried its
empire to the frontiers of Egypt, and Egypt itself has been held in
bondage by the Hyksôs strangers from Asia. In return, Egypt has driven
back the wave of invasion to the borders of Mesopotamia, has substituted
an empire of its own in Syria for that of the Babylonians, and has
forced the Babylonian king to treat with its Pharaoh on equal terms.
In the track of war and diplomacy have come trade and commerce; Western
Asia is covered with roads, along which the merchant and the courier
travel incessantly, and the whole civilised world of the Orient is knit
together in a common literary culture and common commercial interests.

The age of isolation has thus been succeeded by an age of intercourse,
partly military and antagonistic, partly literary and peaceful.
Professor Maspero paints for us this age of intercourse, describes
its rise and character, its decline and fall. For the unity of Eastern
civilization was again shattered. The Hittites descended from the ranges
of the Taurus upon the Egyptian province of Northern Syria, and cut off
the Semites of the west from those of the east. The Israelites poured
over the Jordan out of Edom and Moab, and took possession of Canaan,
while Babylonia itself, for so many centuries the ruling power of the
Oriental world, had to make way for its upstart rival Assyria. The old
imperial powers were exhausted and played out, and it needed time before
the new forces which were to take their place could acquire sufficient
strength for their work.

As usual, Professor Maspero has been careful to embody in his history
the very latest discoveries and information. Notice, it will be found,
has been taken even of the _stela_ of Meneptah, recently disinterred by
Professor Pétrie, on which the name of the Israelites is engraved.
At Elephantine, I found, a short time since, on a granite boulder, an
inscription of Khufuânkh--whose sarcophagus of red granite is one of
the most beautiful objects in the Gizeh Museum--which carries back the
history of the island to the age of the pyramid-builders of the fourth
dynasty. The boulder was subsequently concealed under the southern side
of the city-wall, and as fragments of inscribed papyrus coeval with the
sixth dynasty have been discovered in the immediate neighbourhood, on
one of which mention is made of "this domain" of Pepi II., it would seem
that the town of Elephantine must have been founded between the period
of the fourth dynasty and that of the sixth. Manetho is therefore
justified in making the fifth and sixth dynasties of Elephantine origin.

It is in Babylonia, however, that the most startling discoveries have
been made. At Tello, M. de Sarzec has found a library of more than
thirty thousand tablets, all neatly arranged, piled in order one on the
other, and belonging to the age of Gudea (b.c. 2700). Many more tablets
of an early date have been unearthed at Abu-Habba (Sippara) and Jokha
(Isin) by Dr. Scheil, working for the Turkish government. But the most
important finds have been at Niffer, the ancient Nippur, in Northern
Babylonia, where the American expedition has brought to a close its long
work of systematic excavation. Here Mr. Haynes has dug down to the very
foundations of the great temple of El-lil, and the chief historical
results of his labours have been published by Professor Hilprecht (in
_The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania_, vol. i.
pl. 2, 1896).

About midway between the summit and the bottom of the mound, Mr. Haynes
laid bare a pavement constructed of huge bricks stamped with the names
of Sargon of Akkad and his son Naram-Sin. He found also the ancient wall
of the city, which had been built by Naram-Sin, 13.7 metres wide. The
_débris_ of ruined buildings which lies below the pavement of Sargon
is as much as 9.25 metres in depth, while that above it, the topmost
stratum of which brings us down to the Christian era, is only 11 metres
in height. We may form some idea from this of the enormous age to which
the history of Babylonian culture and writing reaches back. In fact,
Professor Hilprecht quotes with approval Mr. Haynes's words: "We must
cease to apply the adjective 'earliest' to the time of Sargon, or to any
age or epoch within a thousand years of his advanced civilization." "The
golden age of Babylonian history seems to include the reign of Sargon
and of Ur-Gur."

Many of the inscriptions which belong to this remote age of human
culture have been published by Professor Hilprecht. Among them is a long
inscription, in 132 lines, engraved on multitudes of large stone
vases presented to the temple of El-lil by a certain Lugal-zaggisi.
Lugal-zaggisi was the son of Ukus, the _patesi_ or high priest of the
"Land of the Bow," as Mesopotamia, with its Bedawin inhabitants, was
called. He not only conquered Babylonia, then known as Kengi, "the land
of canals and reeds," but founded an empire which extended from the
Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. This was centuries before Sargon
of Akkad followed in his footsteps. Erech became the capital of
Lugal-zaggisi's empire, and doubtless received at this time its Sumerian
title of "the city" _par excellence_.

For a long while previously there had been war between Babylonia and the
"Land of the Bow," whose rulers seem to have established themselves
in the city of Kis. At one time we find the Babylonian prince
En-sag(sag)-ana capturing Kis and its king; at another time it is a king
of Kis who makes offerings to the god of Nippur, in gratitude for his
victories. To this period belongs the famous "Stela of the Vultures"
found at Tello, on which is depicted the victory of E-dingir-ana-gin,
the King of Lagas (Tello), over the Semitic hordes of the Land of the
Bow. It may be noted that the recent discoveries have shown how correct
Professor Maspero has been in assigning the kings of Lagas to a period
earlier than that of Sargon of Akkad.

Professor Hilprecht would place E-dingir-ana-gin after Lugal-zaggisi,
and see in the Stela of the Vultures a monument of the revenge taken
by the Sumerian rulers of Lagas for the conquest of the country by the
inhabitants of the north. But it is equally possible that it marks
the successful reaction of Chaldsea against the power established by
Lugal-zaggisi. However this may be, the dynasty of Lagas (to which
Professor Hilprecht has added a new king, En-Khegal) reigned in peace
for some time, and belonged to the same age as the first dynasty of Ur.
This was founded by a certain Lugal-kigubnidudu, whose inscriptions have
been found at Niffer. The dynasty which arose at Ur in later days (cir.
b.c. 2700), under Ur-Gur and Bungi, which has hitherto been known as
"the first dynasty of Ur," is thus dethroned from its position, and
becomes the second. The succeeding dynasty, which also made Ur its
capital, and whose kings, Ine-Sin, Pur-Sin IL, and Gimil-Sin, were
the immediate predecessors of the first dynasty of Babylon (to which
Kharnmurabi belonged), must henceforth be termed the third.

Among the latest acquisitions from Tello are the seals of the _patesi_,
Lugal-usumgal, which finally remove all doubt as to the identity of
"Sargani, king of the city," with the famous Sargon of Akkad. The
historical accuracy of Sargon's annals, moreover, have been fully
vindicated. Not only have the American excavators found the contemporary
monuments of him and his son Naram-Sin, but also tablets dated in the
years of his campaigns against "the land of the Amorites." In short,
Sargon of Akkad, so lately spoken of as "a half-mythical" personage, has
now emerged into the full glare of authentic history.

That the native chronologists had sufficient material for reconstructing
the past history of their country, is also now clear. The early
Babylonian contract-tablets are dated by events which officially
distinguished the several years of a king's reign, and tablets have been
discovered compiled at the close of a reign which give year by year the
events which thus characterised them. One of these tablets, for example,
from the excavations at Niffer, begins with the words: (1) "The year
when Par-Sin (II.) becomes king. (2) The year when Pur-Sin the king
conquers Urbillum," and ends with "the year when Gimil-Sin becomes King
of Ur, and conquers the land of Zabsali" in the Lebanon.

Of special interest to the biblical student are the discoveries made
by Mr. Pinches among some of the Babylonian tablets which have recently
been acquired by the British Museum. Four of them relate to no less a
personage than Kudur-Laghghamar or Chedor-laomer, "King of Elam," as
well as to Eri-Aku or Arioch, King of Larsa, and his son Dur-makh-ilani;
to Tudghula or Tidal, the son of Gazza[ni], and to their war against
Babylon in the time of Khamrnu[rabi]. In one of the texts the question
is asked, "Who is the son of a king's daughter who has sat on the throne
of royalty? Dur-makh-ilani, the son of Eri-Âku, the son of the lady
Kur... has sat on the throne of royalty," from which it may perhaps be
inferred that Eri-Âku was the son of Kudur-Laghghamar's daughter; and in
another we read, "Who is Kudur-Laghghamar, the doer of mischief? He
has gathered together the Umman Manda, has devastated the land of Bel
(Babylonia), and [has marched] at their side." The Umman Manda were the
"Barbarian Hordes" of the Kurdish mountains, on the northern frontier of
Elam, and the name corresponds with that of the Goyyim or "nations" in
the fourteenth chapter of Genesis. We here see Kudur-Laghghamar acting
as their suzerain lord. Unfortunately, all four tablets are in a
shockingly broken condition, and it is therefore difficult to discover
in them a continuous sense, or to determine their precise nature.

They have, however, been supplemented by further discoveries made by
Dr. Scheil at Constantinople. Among the tablets preserved there, he has
found letters from Kharnmurabi to his vassal Sin-idinnam of Larsa,
from which we learn that Sin-idinnam had been dethroned by the Elamites
Kudur-Mabug and Eri-Âku, and had fled for refuge to the court of
Kharnmurabi at Babylon. In the war which subsequently broke out between
Kharnmurabi and Kudur-Laghghamar, the King of Elam (who, it would seem,
exercised suzerainty over Babylonia for seven years), Sin-idinnam
gave material assistance to the Babylonian monarch, and Khammurabi
accordingly bestowed presents upon him as a "recompense for his valour
on the day of the overthrow of Kudur-Laghghamar."

I must also refer to a fine scarab--found in the rubbish-mounds of the
ancient city of Kom Ombos, in Upper Egypt--which bears upon it the
name of Sutkhu-Apopi. It shows us that the author of the story of the
Expulsion of the Hyksôs, in calling the king Ra-Apopi, merely, like an
orthodox Egyptian, substituted the name of the god of Heliopolis for
that of the foreign deity. Equally interesting are the scarabs brought
to light by Professor Flinders Pétrie, on which a hitherto unknown
Ya'aqob-hal or Jacob-el receives the titles of a Pharaoh.

In volumes VII., VIII., and IX., Professor Maspero concludes his
monumental work on the history of the ancient East. The overthrow of the
Persian empire by the Greek soldiers of Alexander marks the beginning of
a new era. Europe at last enters upon the stage of history, and becomes
the heir of the culture and civilisation of the Orient. The culture
which had grown up and developed on the banks of the Euphrates and Nile
passes to the West, and there assumes new features and is inspired with
a new spirit. The East perishes of age and decrepitude; its strength is
outworn, its power to initiate is past. The long ages through which it
had toiled to build up the fabric of civilisation are at an end; fresh
races are needed to carry on the work which it had achieved. Greece
appears upon the scene, and behind Greece looms the colossal figure of
the Roman Empire.

During the past decade, excavation has gone on apace in Egypt and
Babylonia, and discoveries of a startling and unexpected nature have
followed in the wake of excavation. Ages that seemed prehistoric step
suddenly forth into the daydawn of history; personages whom a sceptical
criticism had consigned to the land of myth or fable are clothed once
more with flesh and blood, and events which had been long forgotten
demand to be recorded and described. In Babylonia, for example, the
excavations at Niffer and Tello have shown that Sargon of Akkad, so far
from being a creature of romance, was as much a historical monarch as
Nebuchadrezzar himself; monuments of his reign have been discovered, and
we learn from them that the empire he is said to have founded had a very
real existence. Contracts have been found dated in the years when he was
occupied in conquering Syria and Palestine, and a cadastral survey that
was made for the purposes of taxation mentions a Canaanite who had been
appointed "governor of the land of the Amorites." Even a postal service
had already been established along the high-roads which knit the several
parts of the empire together, and some of the clay seals which franked
the letters are now in the Museum of the Louvre.

At Susa, M. de Morgan, the late director of the Service of Antiquities
in Egypt, has been excavating below the remains of the Achremenian
period, among the ruins of the ancient Elamite capital. Here he
has found numberless historical inscriptions, besides a text in
hieroglyphics which may cast light on the origin of the cuneiform
characters. But the most interesting of his discoveries are two
Babylonian monuments that were carried off by Elamite conquerors from
the cities of Babylonia. One of them is a long inscription of about 1200
lines belonging to Manistusu, one of the early Babylonian kings, whose
name has been met with at Niffer; the other is a monument of Naram-Sin,
the Son of Sargon of Akkad, which it seems was brought as booty to Susa
by Simti-silkhak, the grandfather, perhaps, of Eriaku or Arioch.

In Armenia, also, equally important inscriptions have been found by
Belck and Lehmann. More than two hundred new ones have been added to the
list of Vannic texts. It has been discovered from them that the kingdom
of Biainas or Van was founded by Ispuinis and Menuas, who rebuilt
Yan itself and the other cities which they had previously sacked and
destroyed. The older name of the country was Kumussu, and it may be that
the language spoken in it was allied to that of the Hittites, since a
tablet in hieroglyphics of the Hittite type has been unearthed at Toprak
Kaleh. One of the newly-found inscriptions of Sarduris III. shows that
the name of the Assyrian god, hitherto read Ramman or Rimmon, was
really pronounced Hadad. It describes a war of the Vannic king against
Assur-nirari, son of Hadad-nirari (_A-da-di-ni-ra-ri_) of Assyria, thus
revealing not only the true form of the Assyrian name, but also the
parentage of the last king of the older Assyrian dynasty. From another
inscription, belonging to Rusas II., the son of Argistis, we learn that
campaigns were carried on against the Hittites and the Moschi in the
latter years of Sennacherib's reign, and therefore only just before the
irruption of the Kimmerians into the northern regions of Western Asia.

The two German explorers have also discovered the site and even the
ruins of Muzazir, called Ardinis by the people of Van. They lie on the
hill of Shkenna, near Topsanâ, on the road between Kelishin and Sidek.
In the immediate neighbourhood the travellers succeeded in deciphering
a monument of Rusas I., partly in Vannic, partly in Assyrian, from which
it appears that the Vannic king did not, after all, commit suicide when
the news of the fall of Muzazir was brought to him, as is stated by
Sargon, but that, on the contrary, he "marched against the mountains
of Assyria" and restored the fallen city itself. Urzana, the King of
Muzazir, had fled to him for shelter, and after the departure of the
Assyrian army he was sent back by Rusas to his ancestral domains. The
whole of the district in which Muzazir was situated was termed Lulu, and
was regarded as the southern province of Ararat. In it was Mount Nizir,
on whose summit the ark of the Chaldsean Noah rested, and which is
therefore rightly described in the Book of Genesis as one of "the
mountains of Ararat." It was probably the Rowandiz of to-day.

The discoveries made by Drs. Belck and Lehmann, however, have not been
confined to Vannic texts. At the sources of the Tigris Dr. Lehmann has
found two Assyrian inscriptions of the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser IL,
one dated in his fifteenth and the other in his thirty-first year, and
relating to his campaigns against Aram of Ararat. He has further found
that the two inscriptions previously known to exist at the same spot,
and believed to belong to Tiglath-Ninip and Assur-nazir-pal, are really
those of Shalmaneser II., and refer to the war of his seventh year.

But it is from Egypt that the most revolutionary revelations have
come. At Abydos and Kom el-Ahmar, opposite El-Kab, monuments have been
disinterred of the kings of the first and second dynasties, if not of
even earlier princes; while at Negada, north of Thebes, M. de Morgan has
found a tomb which seems to have been that of Menés himself. A new world
of art has been opened out before us; even the hieroglyphic system of
writing is as yet immature and strange. But the art is already advanced
in many respects; hard stone was cut into vases and bowls, and even
into statuary of considerable artistic excellence; glazed porcelain was
already made, and bronze, or rather copper, was fashioned into weapons
and tools. The writing material, as in Babylonia, was often clay,
over which seal-cylinders of a Babylonian pattern were rolled. Equally
Babylonian are the strange and composite animals engraved on some of the
objects of this early age, as well as the structure of the tombs, which
were built, not of stone, but of crude brick, with their external
walls panelled and pilastered. Professor Hommel's theory, which brings
Egyptian civilisation from Babylonia along with the ancestors of the
historical Egyptians, has thus been largely verified.

But the historical Egyptians were not the first inhabitants of the
valley of the Nile. Not only have palaeolithic implements been found on
the plateau of the desert; the relics of neolithic man have turned up
in extraordinary abundance. When the historical Egyptians arrived with
their copper weapons and their system of writing, the land was already
occupied by a pastoral people, who had attained a high level of
neolithic culture. Their implements of flint are the most beautiful and
delicately finished that have ever been discovered; they were able to
carve vases of great artistic excellence out of the hardest of stone,
and their pottery was of no mean quality. Long after the country had
come into the possession of the historical dynasties, and had even been
united into a single monarchy, their settlements continued to exist
on the outskirts of the desert, and the neolithic culture that
distinguished them passed only gradually away. By degrees, however,
they intermingled with their conquerors from Asia, and thus formed the
Egyptian race of a later day. But they had already made Egypt what it
has been throughout the historical period. Under the direction of the
Asiatic immigrants and of the eugineering science whose first home had
been in the alluvial plain of Babylonia, they accomplished those great
works of irrigation which confined the Nile to its present channel,
which cleared away the jungle and the swamp that had formerly bordered
the desert, and turned them into fertile fields. Theirs were the hands
which carried out the plans of their more intelligent masters, and
cultivated the valley when once it had been reclaimed. The Egypt
of history was the creation of a twofold race: the Egyptians of the
monuments supplied the controlling and directing power; the Egyptians of
the neolithic graves bestowed upon it their labour and their skill.

The period treated of by Professor Maspero in these volumes is one for
which there is an abundance of materials sucli as do not exist for
the earlier portions of his history. The evidence of the monuments is
supplemented by that of the Hebrew and classical writers. But on this
very account it is in some respects more difficult to deal with, and the
conclusions arrived at by the historian are more open to question and
dispute. In some cases conflicting accounts are given of an event which
seem to rest on equally good authority; in other cases, there is a
sudden failure of materials just where the thread of the story becomes
most complicated. Of this the decline and fall of the Assyrian empire
is a prominent example; for our knowledge of it, we have still to depend
chiefly on the untrustworthy legends of the Greeks. Our views must be
coloured more or less by our estimate of Herodotos; those who, like
myself, place little or no confidence in what he tells us about Oriental
affairs will naturally form a very different idea of the death-struggle,
of Assyria from that formed by writers who still see in him the Father
of Oriental History.

Even where the native monuments have come to our aid, they have not
unfrequently introduced difficulties and doubts where none seemed to
exist before, and have made the task of the critical historian harder
than ever. Cyrus and his forefathers, for instance, turn out to have
been kings of Anzan, and not of Persia, thus explaining why it is that
the Neo-Susian language appears by the side of the Persian and the
Babylonian as one of the three official languages of the Persian empire;
but we still have to learn what was the relation of Anzan to Persia on
the one hand, and to Susa on the other, and when it was that Cyrus of
Anzan became also King of Persia. In the Annalistic Tablet, he is called
"King of Persia" for the first time in the ninth year of Nabonidos.

Similar questions arise as to the position and nationality of Astyages.
He is called in the inscriptions, not a Mede, but a Manda--a name which,
as I showed many years ago, meant for the Babylonian a "barbarian" of
Kurdistan. I have myself little doubt that the Manda over whom Astyages
ruled were the Scythians of classical tradition, who, as may be gathered
from a text published by Mr. Strong, had occupied the ancient kingdom of
Ellipi. It is even possible that in the Madyes of Herodotos, we have a
reminiscence of the Manda of the cuneiform inscriptions. That the Greek
writers should have confounded the Madâ or Medes with the Manda or
Barbarians is not surprising; we find even Berossos describing one of
the early dynasties of Babylonia as "Median" where Manda, and not
Madâ, must plainly be meant.

These and similar problems, however, will doubtless be cleared up by the
progress of excavation and research. Perhaps M. de Morgan's excavations
at Susa may throw some light on them, but it is to the work of the
German expedition, which has recently begun the systematic exploration
of the site of Babylon, that we must chiefly look for help. The Babylon
of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadrezzar rose on the ruins of Nineveh, and
the story of downfall of the Assyrian empire must still be lying buried
under its mounds.



In completing the translation of this great work, I have to thank
Professor Maspero for kindly permitting me to appeal to him on various
questions which arose while preparing the translation. His patience and
courtesy have alike been unfailing in every matter submitted for his

I am indebted to Miss Bradbury for kindly supplying, in the midst of
much other literary work for the Egypt Exploration Fund, the translation
of the chapter on the gods, and also of the earlier parts of some of the
first chapters. She has, moreover, helped me in my own share of the work
with many suggestions and hints, which her intimate connection with the
late Miss Amelia B. Edwards fully qualified her to give.

As in the original there is a lack of uniformity in the transcription
and accentuation of Arabic names, I have ventured to alter them in
several cases to the form most familiar to English readers.

The spelling of the ancient Egyptian words has, at Professor Maspero's
request, been retained throughout, with the exception that the French
_ou_ has been invariably represented by û, e.g. Khnoumou by Khnûmû.

By an act of international courtesy, the director of the _Imprimerie
Nationale_ has allowed the beautifully cut hieroglyphic and cuneiform
type used in the original to be employed in the English edition, and
I take advantage of this opportunity to express to him our thanks and
appreciation of his graceful act.

M. L. McClure.


CHAPTER I.--THE NILE AND EGYPT The River and its Influence upon the
Formation of the Country--The Oldest Inhabitants of the Valley and its
First Political Organization

CHAPTER II.--THE GODS OF EGYPT Their Number and their Nature--The Feudal
Gods, Living and Dead--The Triads--Temples and Priests--The Cosmogonies
of the Delta--The Enneads of Heliopolis and of Hermopolis

Râ, Shû, Osiris, Sit, Horus-Thot, and the Invention of Sciences and
Writing-Menes, and the Three First Human Dynasties

[Illustration: 001.jpg PAGE ONE]

[Illustration: 002.jpg PAGE TWO]



_The Delta: its gradual formation, its structure, its canals--The valley
of Egypt--The two arms of the river--The Eastern Nile--The appearance
of its hanks--The hills--The gorge of Gehel Silsileh--The cataracts: the
falls of Aswan--Nubia--The rapids of Wady Halfah--The Takazze--The Blue
Nile and the White Nile.

The sources of the Nile--The Egyptian cosmography--The four pillars
and the four upholding mountains--The celestial Nile the source of the
terrestial Nile--the Southern Sea and the islands of Spirits--The tears
of Isis--The rise of the Nile--The Green Nile and the Bed Nile--The
opening of the dykes---The fall of the Nile--The river at its lowest

The alluvial deposits and the effects of the inundation upon the soil of
Egypt--Paucity of the flora: aquatic plants, the papyrus and the lotus;
the sycamore and the date-palm, the acacias, the dôm-palms--The fauna:
the domestic and wild animals; serpents, the urstus; the hippopotamus
and the crocodile; birds; fish, the fahaka.

The Nile god: his form and its varieties--The goddess Mirit--The
supposed sources of the Nile at Elephantine--The festivals of Gebel
Silsileh-Hymn to the Nile from papyri m the British Museum.

The names of the Nile and Egypt: Bomitu and Qimit--Antiquity of the
Egyptianpeople--Their first horizon--The hypothesis of their Asiatic
origin--The probability of their African origin--The language and its
Semitic affinities--The race and its principal types.

The primitive civilization of Egypt--Its survival into historic
times--The women of Amon--Marriage--Rights of women and
children--Houses--Furniture--Dress--Jewels--Wooden and metal
arms--Primitive life-Fishing and hunting--The lasso and "bolas"--The
domestication of animals--Plants used for food--The lotus--Cereals--The
hoe and the plough.

The conquest of the valley--Dykes--Basins--Irrigation--The princes--The
nomes--The first local principalities--Late organization of the
Delta--Character of its inhabitants--Gradual division of the
principalities and changes of then areas--The god of the city._

[Illustration: 003.jpg CHAPTER ONE]


_The river and its influence upon the formation of the country--The
oldest inhabitants of the valley and its first political organization._

     *  The same expression has been attributed to Hecatseus of
     Miletus. It has often been observed that this phrase seems
     Egyptian   on  the face of it, and it certainly recalls such
     forms of expression as the following, taken from a formula
     frequently found on funerary "All things created by heaven,
     given by earth, _brought by the Nile--from its mysterious
     sources._" Nevertheless, up to the present time, the
     hieroglyphic texts have yielded nothing altogether
     corresponding to the exact terms of the Greek historians--
     _gift_ of the Nile, or its natural _product_.

A long low, level shore, scarcely rising above the sea, a chain of
vaguely defined and ever-shifting lakes and marshes, then the triangular
plain beyond, whose apex is thrust thirty leagues into the land--this,
the Delta of Egypt, has gradually been acquired from the sea, and is
as it were the gift of the Nile. The Mediterranean once reached to the
foot of the sandy plateau on which stand the Pyramids, and formed a
wide gulf where now stretches plain beyond plain of the Delta. The
last undulations of the Arabian hills, from Gebel Mokattam to Gebel
Geneffeh, were its boundaries on the east, while a sinuous and shallow
channel running between Africa and Asia united the Mediterranean to
the Red Sea. Westward, the littoral followed closely the contour of the
Libyan plateau; but a long limestone spur broke away from it at about
31° N., and terminated in Cape Abûkîr. The alluvial deposits first
tilled up the depths of the bay, and then, under the influence of the
currents which swept along its eastern coasts, accumulated behind that
rampart of sand-hills whose remains are still to be seen near Benha.
Thus was formed a miniature Delta, whose structure pretty accurately
corresponded with that of the great Delta of to-day. Here the Nile
divided into three divergent streams, roughly coinciding with the
southern courses of the Rosetta and Damietta branches, and with the
modern canal of Abu Meneggeh. The ceaseless accumulation of mud brought
down by the river soon overpassed the first limits, and steadily
encroached upon the sea until it was carried beyond the shelter
furnished by Cape Abûkîr. Thence it was gathered into the great littoral
current flowing from Africa to Asia, and formed an incurvated coast-line
ending in the headland of Casios, on the Syrian frontier. From that time
Egypt made no further increase towards the north, and her coast remains
practically such as it was thousands of years ago:[*] the interior
alone has suffered change, having been dried up, hardened, and gradually
raised. Its inhabitants thought they could measure the exact length of
time in which this work of creation had been accomplished. According
to the Egyptians, Menés, the first of their mortal kings, had found, so
they said, the valley under water. The sea came in almost as far as the
Fayûm, and, excepting the province of Thebes, the whole country was
a pestilential swamp. Hence, the necessary period for the physical
formation of Egypt would cover some centuries after Menés. This is
no longer considered a sufficient length of time, and some modern
geologists declare that the Nile must have worked at the formation of
its own estuary for at least seventy-four thousand years.[**]

     * Élie de Beaumont, "The great distinction of the Nile Delta
     lies in the almost uniform persistence of its coast-line....
     The present sea-coast of Egypt is little altered from that
     of three thousand years  ago."    The latest observations
     prove it to be sinking and shrinking near Alexandria to rise
     in the neighbourhood of Port Said.

     ** Others, as for example Schweinfurth, are  more  moderate
     in their views, and think "that it must have taken about
     twenty thousand years for that alluvial deposit which now
     forms  the   arable soil of Egypt to have attained to its
     present depth and fertility."

This figure is certainly exaggerated, for the alluvium would gain on
the shallows of the ancient gulf far more rapidly than it gains upon the
depths of the Mediterranean. But even though we reduce the period, we
must still admit that the Egyptians little suspected the true age of
their country. Not only did the Delta long precede the coming of Menés,
but its plan was entirely completed before the first arrival of the
Egyptians. The Greeks, full of the mysterious virtues which they
attributed to numbers, discovered that there were seven principal
branches, and seven mouths of the Nile, and that, as compared with
these, the rest were but false mouths.


As a matter of fact, there were only three chief outlets.    The Canopic
branch flowed westward, and fell into the Mediterranean near Cape
Abûkîr, at the western extremity of the arc described by the coast-line.
The Pelusiac branch followed the length of the Arabian chain, and flowed
forth at the other extremity; and the Sebennytic stream almost bisected
the triangle contained between the Canopic and Pelusiac channels. Two
thousand years ago, these branches separated from the main river at  the
city of Cerkasoros, nearly four  miles north of the site where Cairo now
stands. But after the Pelusiac branch had ceased to exist, the fork of
the river gradually wore away the land from age to age, and is now some
nine miles lower down.[*] These three great waterways are united by a
network of artificial rivers and canals, and by ditches--some natural,
others dug by the hand of man, but all ceaselessly shifting. They silt
up, close, open again, replace each other, and ramify in innumerable
branches over the surface of the soil, spreading life and fertility on
all sides. As the land rises towards the south, this web contracts and
is less confused, while black mould and cultivation alike dwindle, and
the fawn-coloured line of the desert comes into sight. The Libyan and
Arabian hills appear above the plain, draw nearer to each other, and
gradually shut in the horizon until it seems as though they would unite.
And there the Delta ends, and Egypt proper has begun.

It is only a strip of vegetable mould stretching north and south between
regions of drought and desolation, a prolonged oasis on the banks of the
river, made by the Nile, and sustained by the Nile. The whole length of
the land is shut in between two ranges of hills, roughly parallel at a
mean distance of about twelve miles.[**]

     * By the end of the Byzantine period, the fork of the river
     lay at some distance south of Shetnûfi, the present
     Shatanûf, which is the spot where it now is. The Arab
     geographers call the head of the Delta Batn-el-Bagaraji, the
     Cow's Belly. Ampère, in his Voyage en Egypte et en Nubie, p.
     120, says,--"May it not be that this name, denoting the place
     where the most fertile part of Egypt begins, is a
     reminiscence of the Cow Goddess, of Isis, the symbol of
     fecundity, and the personification of Egypt?"

     **De Rozière estimated the mean breadth as being only a
     little over nine miles.

During the earlier ages, the river filled all this intermediate space,
and the sides of the hills, polished, worn, blackened to their very
summits, still bear unmistakable traces of its action. Wasted, and
shrunken within the deeps of its ancient bed, the stream now makes a way
through its own thick deposits of mud. The bulk of its waters keeps
to the east, and constitutes the true Nile, the "Great River" of the
hieroglyphic inscriptions. A second arm flows close to the Libyan
desert, here and there formed into canals, elsewhere left to follow
its own course. From the head of the Delta to the village of Demt it
is called the Bahr-Yûsuf; beyond Derût--up to Gebel Silsileh--it is the
Ibrâhimîyeh, the Sohâgîyeh, the Raiân. But the ancient names are unknown
to us. This Western Nile dries up in winter throughout all its upper
courses: where it continues to flow, it is by scanty accessions from
the main Nile. It also divides north of Henassieh, and by the gorge of
Illahûn sends out a branch which passes beyond the hills into the basin
of the Fayûrn. The true Nile, the Eastern Nile, is less a river than
a sinuous lake encumbered with islets and sandbanks, and its navigable
channel winds capriciously between them, flowing with a strong and
steady current below the steep, black banks cut sheer through the
alluvial earth.


     1  From a drawing by Boudier, after a photograph by
     Insinger, taken in 1884.

There are light groves of the date-palm, groups of acacia trees and
sycamores, square patches of barley or of wheat, fields of beans or of
bersîm,[*] and here and there a long bank of sand which the least breeze
raises into whirling clouds. And over all there broods a great silence,
scarcely broken by the cry of birds, or the song of rowers in a passing

     * Bersîm is a kind of trefoil, the _Trifolium Alexandrinum_
     of LINNÆUS. It is very common in Egypt, and the only plant
     of the kind generally cultivated for fodder.

Something of human life may stir on the banks, but it is softened into
poetry by distance. A half-veiled woman, bearing a bundle of herbs upon
her head, is driving her goats before her. An irregular line of asses or
of laden camels emerges from one hollow of the undulating road only to
disappear within another. A group of peasants, crouched upon the shore,
in the ancient posture of knees to chin, patiently awaits the return of
the ferry-boat.

[Illustration: 010.jpg]

     1  From a drawing by Boudier, after a photograph by
     Insinger, taken in 1886.

A dainty village looks forth smiling from beneath its palm trees. Near
at hand it is all naked filth and ugliness: a cluster of low grey huts
built of mud and laths; two or three taller houses, whitewashed;
an enclosed square shaded by sycamores; a few old men, each seated
peacefully at his own door; a confusion of fowls, children, goats, and
sheep; half a dozen boats made fast ashore. But, as we pass on, the
wretchedness all fades away; meanness of detail is lost in light, and
long before it disappears at a bend of the river, the village is again
clothed with gaiety and serene beauty. Day by day, the landscape repeats
itself. The same groups of trees alternate with the same fields, growing
green or dusty in the sunlight according to the season of the year. With
the same measured flow, the Nile winds beneath its steep banks and about
its scattered islands.

[Illustration: 011.jpg PART OF GEBEL SHÊKH HERÎDI. 1]

     1 From a drawing by Boudier, after a photograph by Insinger,
     taken in 1882.

One village succeeds another, each alike smiling and sordid under its
crown of foliage. The terraces of the Libyan hills, away beyond the
Western Nile, scarcely rise above the horizon, and lie like a white
edging between the green of the plain and the blue of the sky. The
Arabian hills do not form one unbroken line, but a series of mountain
masses with their spurs, now approaching the river, and now withdrawing
to the desert at almost regular intervals. At the entrance to the
valley, rise Gebel Mokattam and Gebel el-Ahmar. Gebel Hemûr-Shemûl and
Gebel Shêkh Embârak next stretch in echelon from north to south, and are
succeeded by Gebel et-Ter, where, according to an old legend, all the
birds of the world are annually assembled.[*]

     * In Makrizi's _Description of Egypt_ we read: "Every year,
     upon a certain day, all the herons (Boukîr, _Ardea bubulcus_
     of Cuvier) assemble at this mountain. One after another,
     each puts his beak into a cleft of the hill until the cleft
     closes upon one of them. And then forthwith all the others
     fly away But the bird which has been caught struggles until
     he dies, and there his body remains until it has fallen into
     dust." The same tale is told by other Arab writers, of which
     a list may be seen in Etienne Quatremère, _Mémoires
     historiques et géographiques sur l'Egypte et quelques
     contrées voisines_, vol. i. pp. 31-33. It faintly recalls
     that ancient tradition of the Cleft at Abydos, whereby souls
     must pass, as human-headed birds, in order to reach the
     other world.

[Illustration: 12.jpg THE HILL OF KASR ES-SAYYAD. 2]

     2  From a drawing by Boudier, after a photograph by
     insinger, taken in 1882.

Then follows Gebel Abûfêda, dreaded by the sailors for its sudden gusts.
Limestone predominates throughout, white or yellowish, broken by veins
of alabaster, or of red and grey sandstones. Its horizontal strata are
so symmetrically laid one above another as to seem more like the walls
of a town than the side of a mountain. But time has often dismantled
their summits and loosened their foundations. Man has broken into their
façades to cut his quarries and his tombs; while the current is secretly
undermining the base, wherein it has made many a breach. As soon as any
margin of mud has collected between cliffs and river, halfah and wild
plants take hold upon it, and date-palms grow there--whence their seed,
no one knows. Presently a hamlet rises at the mouth of the ravine,
among clusters of trees and fields in miniature. Beyond Siût, the light
becomes more glowing, the air drier and more vibrating, and the green of
cultivation loses its brightness. The angular outline of the dom-palni
mingles more and more with that of the common palm and of the heavy
sycamore, and the castor-oil plant increasingly abounds. But all these
changes come about so gradually that they are effected before we notice
them. The plain continues to contract. At Thebes it is still ten miles
wide; at the gorge of Gebelên it has almost disappeared, and at Gebel
Silsileh it has completely vanished. There, it was crossed by a natural
dyke of sandstone, through which the waters have with difficulty scooped
for themselves a passage. From this point, Egypt is nothing but the bed
of the Nile lying between two escarpments of naked rock.

Further on the cultivable land reappears, but narrowed, and changed
almost beyond recognition. Hills, hewn out of solid sandstone, succeed
each other at distances of about two miles, low, crushed, sombre, and
formless. Presently a forest of palm trees, the last on that side,
announces Aswan and Nubia. Five banks of granite, ranged in lines
between latitude 24° and 18° N., cross Nubia from east to west, and from
north-east to south-west, like so many ramparts thrown up between the
Mediterranean and the heart of Africa. The Nile has attacked them from
behind, and made its way over them one after another in rapids which
have been glorified by the name of cataracts.

[Illustration: 014.jpg ENTRANCE TO THE FIRST CATARACT. 1]

     1 View taken from the hills opposite Elephantine, by
     Insinger, in 1884.

Classic writers were pleased to describe the river as hurled into the
gulfs of Syne with so great a roar that the people of the neighbourhood
were deafened by it. Even a colony of Persians, sent thither by
Cambyses, could not bear the noise of the falls, and went forth to seek
a quieter situation. The first cataract is a kind of sloping and sinuous
passage six and a quarter miles in length, descending from the island
of Philae to the port of Aswan, the aspect of its approach relieved and
brightened by the ever green groves of Elephantine. Beyond Elephantine
are cliffs and sandy beaches, chains of blackened "roches moutonnées"
marking out the beds of the currents, and fantastic reefs, sometimes
bare and sometimes veiled by long grasses and climbing plants, in
which thousands of birds have made their nests. There are islets
too, occasionally large enough to have once supported something of a
population, such as Amerade, Salûg, Sehêl. The granite threshold of
Nubia, is broken beyond Sehêl, but its débris, massed m disorder against
the right bank, still seem to dispute the passage of the waters, dashing
turbulently and roaring as they flow along through tortuous channels,
where every streamlet is broken up into small cascades, ihe channel
running by the left bank is always navigable.

[Illustration: 015.jpg ENTRANCE TO NUBIA.]

During the inundation, the rocks and sandbanks of the right side are
completely under water, and their presence is only betrayed by eddies.
But on the river's reaching its lowest point a fall of some six feet is
established, and there big boats, hugging the shore, are hauled up by
means of ropes, or easily drift down with the current.


     1 From a drawing by Boudier, after a photograph by Insinger,
     taken in 1881.

All kinds of granite are found together in this corner of Africa. There
are the pink and red Syenites, porphyritic granite, yellow granite, grey
granite, both black granite and white, and granites veined with black
and veined with white. As soon as these disappear behind us, various
sandstones begin to crop up, allied to the coarsest _calcaire grossier_.
The hill bristle with small split blocks, with peaks half overturned,
with rough and denuded mounds. League beyond league, they stretch in low
ignoble outline. Here and there a valley opens sharply into the desert,
revealing an infinite perspective of summits and escarpments in echelon
one behind another to the furthest plane of the horizon, like motionless
caravans. The now confined river rushes on with a low, deep murmur,
accompanied night and day by the croaking of frogs and the rhythmic
creak of the sâkîeh.[*]

     * The sâkîeh is made of a notch-wheel fixed vertically on a
     horizontal axle, and is actuated by various cog-wheels set
     in continuous motion by oxen or asses.    A long chain of
     earthenware vessels brings up the water either from the
     river itself, or from some little branch  canal, and
     empties it into a system of troughs and reservoirs.
     Thence, it flows forth to be distributed over all the
     neighbouring land.

Jetties of rough stone-work, made in unknown times by an unknown people,
run out like breakwaters into midstream.


From time to time waves of sand are borne over, and drown the narrow
fields of durra and of barley. Scraps of close, aromatic pasturage,
acacias, date-palms, and dôm-palms, together with a few shrivelled
sycamores, are scattered along both banks. The ruins of a crumbling
pylon mark the site of some ancient city, and, overhanging the water,
is a vertical wall of rock honeycombed with tombs. Amid these relics of
another age, miserable huts, scattered hamlets, a town or two surrounded
with little gardens are the only evidence that there is yet life in
Nubia. South of Wâdy Halfah, the second granite bank is broken through,
and the second cataract spreads its rapids over a length of four
leagues: the archipelago numbers more than 350 islets, of which some
sixty have houses upon them and yield harvests to their inhabitants. The
main characteristics of the first two cataracts are repeated with slight
variations in the cases of the three which follow,--at Hannek, at
Guerendid, and El-Hu-mar. It is Egypt still, but a joyless Egypt bereft
of its brightness: impoverished, disfigured, and almost desolate.

[Illustration: 020.jpg ENTRANCE TO THE SECOND CATAKACT. 1]

     1 View taken from the top of the rocks of Abusîr, after a
     photograph by Insinger, in 1881.

There is the same double wall of hills, now closely confining the
valley, and again withdrawing from each other as though to flee into
the desert. Everywhere are moving sheets of sand, steep black banks with
their narrow strips of cultivation, villages which are scarcely visible
on account of the lowness of their huts sycamore ceases at Gebel-Barkal,
date-palms become fewer and finally disappear. The Nile alone has not
changed. And it was at Philse, so it is at Berber. Here, however, on
the right bank, 600 leagues from the sea, is its first affluent, the
Takazze, which intermittently brings to it the waters of Northern
Ethiopia. At Khartum, the single channel in which the river flowed
divides; and two other streams are opened up in a southerly direction,
each of them apparently equal in volume to the main stream. Which is
the true Nile? Is it the Blue Nile, which seems to come down from the
distant mountains? Or is it the White Nile, which has traversed the
immense plains of equatorial Africa. The old Egyptians never knew.
The river kept the secret of its source from them as obstinately as it
withheld it from us until a few years ago. Vainly did their victorious
armies follow the Nile for months together as they pursued the
tribes who dwelt upon its banks, only to find it as wide, as full, as
irresistible in its progress as ever. It was a fresh-water sea, and
sea--_iaûmâ, iôma_--was the name by which they called it.

The Egyptians therefore never sought its source. They imagined the whole
universe to be a large box, nearly rectangular in form, whose greatest
diameter was from south to north, and its least from east to west. The
earth, with its alternate continents and seas, formed the bottom of the
box; it was a narrow, oblong, and slightly concave floor, with Egypt
in its centre. The sky stretched over it like an iron ceiling, flat
according to some, vaulted according to others. Its earthward face was
capriciously sprinkled with lamps hung from strong cables, and which,
extinguished or unperceived by day, were lighted, or became visible to
our eyes, at night.


     2 Section taken at Hermopolis. To the left, is the bark of
     the sun on the celestial river.

Since this ceiling could not remain in mid-air without support, four
columns, or rather four forked trunks of trees, similar to those which
maintained the primitive house, were supposed to uphold it. But it was
doubtless feared lest some tempest should overturn them, for they were
superseded by four lofty peaks, rising at the four cardinal points, and
connected by a continuous chain of mountains. The Egyptians knew little
of the northern peak: the Mediterranean, the "Very Green," interposed
between it and Egypt, and prevented their coming near enough to see it.
The southern peak was named Apit the Horn of the Earth; that on the east
was called Bâkhû, the Mountain of Birth; and the western peak was known
as Manu, sometimes as Onkhit, the Region of Life.

[Illustration: 023.jpg FOOTNOTES WITH GRAPHICS]

Bâkhû was not a fictitious mountain, but the highest of those distant
summits seen from the Nile in looking towards the red Sea. In the same
way, Manu answered to some hill of the Libyan desert, whose summit
closed the horizon. When it was discovered that neither Bâkhû nor Manu
were the limits of the world, the notion of upholding the celestial roof
was not on that account given up. It was only necessary to withdraw the
pillars from sight, and imagine fabulous peaks, invested with familiar
names. These were not supposed to form the actual boundary of
the universe; a great river--analogous to the Ocean-stream of the
Greeks--lay between them and its utmost limits. This river circulated
upon a kind of ledge projecting along the sides of the box a little
below the continuous mountain chain upon which the starry heavens were
sustained. On the north of the ellipse, the river was bordered by a
steep and abrupt bank, which took its rise at the peak of Manu on the
west, and soon rose high enough to form a screen between the river and
the earth. The narrow valley which it hid from view was known as
Da'it from remotest times. Eternal night enfolded that valley in thick
darkness, and filled it with dense air such as no living thing could
breathe. Towards the east the steep bank rapidly declined, and ceased
altogether a little beyond Bâkhû, while the river flowed on between low
and almost level shores from east to south, and then from south to west.
The sun was a disc of fire placed upon a boat. At the same equable rate,
the river carried it round the ramparts of the world. Erom evening until
morning it disappeared within the gorges of Daït; its light did not then
reach us, and it was night. From morning until evening its rays, being
no longer intercepted by any obstacle, were freely shed abroad from one
end of the box to the other, and it was day. The Nile branched off from
the celestial river at its southern bend;[*] hence the south was
the chief cardinal point to the Egyptians, and by that they oriented
themselves, placing sunrise to their left, and sunset to their right.

     * The classic writers themselves knew that, according to
     Egyptian belief, the Nile flowed down from heaven. The
     legend of the Nile having its source in the ocean stream was
     but a Greek transposition of the Egyptian doctrine, which
     represented it as an arm of the celestial river whereon the
     sun sailed round the earth.

Before they passed beyond the defiles of Gebel Silsileh, they thought
that the spot whence the celestial waters left the sky was situate
between Elephantine and Philae, and that they descended in an immense
waterfall whose last leaps were at Syene. It may be that the tales about
the first cataract told by classic writers are but a far-off echo of
this tradition of a barbarous age. Conquests carried into the heart of
Africa forced the Egyptians to recognize their error, but did not weaken
their faith in the supernatural origin of the river. They only placed
its source further south, and surrounded it with greater marvels.
They told how, by going up the stream, sailors at length reached an
undetermined country, a kind of borderland between this world and the
next, a "Land of Shades," whose inhabitants were dwarfs, monsters,
or spirits. Thence they passed into a sea sprinkled with mysterious
islands, like those enchanted archipelagoes which Portuguese and Breton
mariners were wont to see at times when on their voyages, and which
vanished at their approach. These islands were inhabited by serpents
with human voices, sometimes friendly and sometimes cruel to the
shipwrecked. He who went forth from the islands could never more
re-enter them: they were resolved into the waters and lost within the
bosom of the waves. A modern geographer can hardly comprehend such
fancies; those of Greek and Roman times were perfectly familiar with
them. They believed that the Nile communicated with the Red Sea near
Suakin, by means of the Astaboras, and this was certainly the route
which the Egyptians of old had imagined for their navigators. The
supposed communication was gradually transferred farther and farther
south; and we have only to glance over certain maps of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, to see clearly drawn what the Egyptians had
imagined--the centre of Africa as a great lake, whence issued the Congo,
the Zambesi, and the Nile. Arab merchants of the Middle Ages believed
that a resolute man could pass from Alexandria or Cairo to the land of
the Zindjes and the Indian Ocean by rising from river to river.[*]

     * Joinville has given a special chapter to the description
     of the sources and wonders of the Nile, in which he believed
     as firmly as in an article of his creed. As late as the
     beginning of the seventeenth century, Wendelinus devoted
     part of his _Admiranda Nili_ to proving that the river did
     not rise in the earthly Paradise. At Gûrnah, forty years
     ago, Rhind picked up a legend which stated that the Nile
     flows down from the sky.


     1 Facsimile of the map published by Kircher in _OEdipus
     Ægyptiacus_, vol. i. (_Iconismus II_), p. 53.

Many of the legends relating to this subject are lost, while others
have been collected and embellished with fresh features by Jewish and
Christian theologians. The Nile was said to have its source in Paradise,
to traverse burning regions inaccessible to man, and afterwards to fall
into a sea whence it made its way to Egypt. Sometimes it carried down
from its celestial sources branches and fruits unlike any to be found
on earth. The sea mentioned in all these tales is perhaps a less
extravagant invention than we are at first inclined to think. A lake,
nearly as large as the Victoria Nyanza, once covered the marshy plain
where the Bahr el-Abiad unites with the Sobat, and with the Bahr
el-Ghazal. Alluvial deposits have filled up all but its deepest
depression, which is known as Birket Nû; but, in ages preceding our era,
it must still have been vast enough to suggest to Egyptian soldiers and
boatmen the idea of an actual sea, opening into the Indian Ocean.
The mountains, whose outline was vaguely seen far to southward on the
further shores, doubtless contained within them its mysterious source.
There the inundation was made ready, and there it began upon a fixed
day. The celestial Nile had its periodic rise and fall, on which those
of the earthly Nile depended. Every year, towards the middle of June,
Isis, mourning for Osiris, let fall into it one of the tears which she
shed over her brother, and thereupon the river swelled and descended
upon earth. Isis has had no devotees for centuries, and her very name is
unknown to the descendants of her worshippers; but the tradition of her
fertilizing tears has survived her memory. Even to this day, every one
in Egypt, Mussulman or Christian, knows that a divine drop falls from
heaven during the night between the 17th and 18th of June, and forthwith
brings about the rise of the Nile. Swollen by the rains which fall
in February over the region of the Great Lakes, the White Nile rushes
northward, sweeping before it the stagnant sheets of water left by the
inundation of the previous year. On the left, the Bahr el-Ghazâl brings
it the overflow of the ill-defined basin stretching between Darfûr and
the Congo; and the Sobat pours in on the right a tribute from the rivers
which furrow the southern slopes of the Abyssinian mountains. The first
swell passes Khartum by the end of April, and raises the water-level
there by about a foot, then it slowly makes its way through Nubia, and
dies away in Egypt at the beginning of June. Its waters, infected
by half-putrid organic matter from the equatorial swamps, are not
completely freed from it even in the course of this long journey, but
keep a greenish tint as far as the Delta. They are said to be poisonous,
and to give severe pains in the bladder to any who may drink them. I am
bound to say that every June, for five years, I drank this green water
from the Nile itself, without taking any other precaution than the usual
one of filtering it through a porous jar. Neither I, nor the many people
living with me, ever felt the slightest inconvenience from it. Happily,
this _Green Nile_ does not last long, but generally flows away in three
or four days, and is only the forerunner of the real flood. The melting
of the snows and the excessive spring rains having suddenly swollen the
torrents which rise in the central plateau of Abyssinia, the Blue Nile,
into which they flow, rolls so impetuously towards the plain that, when
its waters reach Khartum in the middle of May, they refuse to mingle
with those of the White Nile, and do not lose their peculiar colour
before reaching the neighbourhood of Abu Hamed, three hundred miles
below. From that time the height of the Nile increases rapidly day
by day. The river, constantly reinforced by floods following one upon
another from the Great Lakes and from Abyssinia, rises in furious
bounds, and would become a devastating torrent were its rage not checked
by the Nubian cataracts. Here six basins, one above another, in which
the water collects, check its course, and permit it to flow thence only
as a partially filtered and moderated stream. It is signalled at Syene
towards the 8th of June, at Cairo by the 17th to the 20th, and there its
birth is officially celebrated during the "Night of the Drop." Two
days later it reaches the Delta, just in time to save the country from
drought and sterility. Egypt, burnt up by the Khamsin, a west wind
blowing continuously for fifty days, seems nothing more than an
extension of the desert. The trees are covered and choked by a layer of
grey dust. About the villages, meagre and laboriously watered patches
of vegetables struggle for life, while some show of green still
lingers along the canals and in hollows whence all moisture has not
yet evaporated. The plain lies panting in the sun--naked, dusty, and
ashen--scored with intersecting cracks as far as eye can see. The Nile
is only half its usual width, and holds not more than a twentieth of
the volume of water which is borne down in October. It has at first hard
work to recover its former bed, and attains it by such subtle gradations
that the rise is scarcely noted. It is, however, continually gaining
ground; here a sandbank is covered, there an empty channel is filled,
islets are outlined where there was a continuous beach, a new stream
detaches itself and gains the old shore. The first contact is disastrous
to the banks; their steep sides, disintegrated and cracked by the heat,
no longer offer any resistance to the current, and fall with a crash, in
lengths of a hundred yards and more.

[Illustration: 31.jpg DURING THE INUNDATION]

As the successive floods grow stronger and are more heavily charged with
mud, the whole mass of water becomes turbid and changes colour. In eight
or ten days it has turned from greyish blue to dark red, occasionally of
so intense a colour as to look like newly shed blood. The "Red Nile" is
not unwholesome like the "Green Nile," and the suspended mud to which
it owes its suspicious appearance deprives the water of none of its
freshness and lightness. It reaches its full height towards the 15th
of July; but the dykes which confine it, and the barriers constructed
across the mouths of canals, still prevent it from overflowing. The Nile
must be considered high enough to submerge the land adequately before
it is set free. The ancient Egyptians measured its height by cubits of
twenty-one and a quarter inches. At fourteen cubits, they pronounced it
an excellent Nile; below thirteen, or above fifteen, it was accounted
insufficient or excessive, and in either case meant famine, and perhaps
pestilence at hand. To this day the natives watch its advance with the
same anxious eagerness; and from the 3rd of July, public criers, walking
the streets of Cairo, announce each morning what progress it has made
since evening. More or less authentic traditions assert that the prelude
to the opening of the canals, in the time of the Pharaohs, was
the solemn casting to the waters of a young girl decked as for her
bridal--the "Bride of the Nile." Even after the Arab conquest, the
irruption of the river into the bosom of the land was still considered
as an actual marriage; the contract was drawn up by a cadi, and
witnesses confirmed its consummation with the most fantastic formalities
of Oriental ceremonial. It is generally between the 1st and 16th of July
that it is decided to break through the dykes. When that proceeding has
been solemnly accomplished in state, the flood still takes several days
to fill the canals, and afterwards spreads over the low lands, advancing
little by little to the very edge of the desert. Egypt is then one sheet
of turbid water spreading between two lines of rock and sand, flecked
with green and black spots where there are towns or where the ground
rises, and divided into irregular compartments by raised roads
connecting the villages. In Nubia the river attains its greatest height
towards the end of August; at Cairo and in the Delta not until three
weeks or a month later. For about eight days it remains stationary, and
then begins to fall imperceptibly. Sometimes there is a new freshet
in October, and the river again increases in height. But the rise is
unsustained; once more it falls as rapidly as it rose, and by December
the river has completely retired to the limits of its bed. One after
another, the streams which fed it fail or dwindle. The Tacazze is
lost among the sands before rejoining it, and the Blue Nile, well-nigh
deprived of tributaries, is but scantily maintained by Abyssinian
snows. The White Nile is indebted to the Great Lakes for the greater
persistence of its waters, which feed the river as far as the
Mediterranean, and save the valley from utter drought in winter. But,
even with this resource, the level of the water falls daily, and its
volume is diminished. Long-hidden sandbanks reappear, and are again
linked into continuous line. Islands expand by the rise of shingly
beaches, which gradually reconnect them with each other and with the
shore. Smaller branches of the river cease to flow, and form a mere
network of stagnant pools and muddy ponds, which fast dry up. The main
channel itself is only intermittently navigable; after March boats run
aground in it, and are forced to await the return of the inundation for
their release. From the middle of April to the middle of June, Egypt is
only half alive, awaiting the new Nile.

[Illustration: 034.jpg ASSIOUT]

Those ruddy and heavily charged waters, rising and retiring with almost
mathematical regularity, bring and leave the spoils of the countries
they have traversed: sand from Nubia, whitish clay from the regions
of the Lakes, ferruginous mud, and the various rock-formations of
Abyssinia. These materials are not uniformly disseminated in the
deposits; their precipitation being regulated both by their specific
gravity and the velocity of the current. Flattened stones and rounded
pebbles are left behind at the cataract between Syene and Keneh, while
coarser particles of sand are suspended in the undercurrents and serve
to raise the bed of the river, or are carried out to sea and form the
sandbanks which are slowly rising at the Damietta and Rosetta mouths of
the Nile. The mud and finer particles rise towards the surface, and are
deposited upon the land after the opening of the dykes. Soil which is
entirely dependent on the deposit of a river, and periodically invaded
by it, necessarily maintains but a scanty flora; and though it is well
known that, as a general rule, a flora is rich in proportion to its
distance from the poles and its approach to the equator, it is also
admitted that Egypt offers an exception to this rule. At the most, she
has not more than a thousand species, while, with equal area, England,
for instance, possesses more than fifteen hundred; and of this thousand,
the greater number are not indigenous. Many of them have been brought
From Central Africa by the river: birds and winds have continued
the work, and man himself has contributed his part in making it more
complete. From Asia he has at different times brought wheat barley
the olive, the apple, the white or pink almond, and some twenty
other species now acclimatized on the banks of the Nile. Marsh plants
predominate in the Delta; but the papyrus, and the three varieties of
blue, white, and pink lotus which once flourished there, being no longer
cultivated, have now almost entirely disappeared, and reverted to their
original habitats.


The sycamore and the date-palm, both importations from Central Africa,
have better adapted themselves to their exile, and are now fully
naturalized on Egyptian soil.

[Illustration: 037.jpg FOREST OF DATE PALMS]

The sycamore grows in sand on the edge of the desert as vigorously as
in the midst of a well-watered country. Its roots go deep in search of
water, which infiltrates as far as the gorges of the hills, and they
absorb it freely, even where drought seems to reign supreme. The heavy,
squat, gnarled trunk occasionally attains to colossal dimensions,
without ever growing very high. Its rounded masses of compact foliage
are so wide-spreading that a single tree in the distance may give the
impression of several grouped together; and its shade is dense,
and impenetrable to the sun. A striking contrast to the sycamore
is presented by the date-palm. Its round and slender stem rises
uninterruptedly to a height of thirteen to sixteen yards; its head
is crowned with a cluster of flexible leaves arranged in two or three
tiers, but so scanty, so pitilessly slit, that they fail to keep off the
light, and cast but a slight and unrefreshing shadow. Few trees have so
elegant an appearance, yet few are so monotonously elegant. There are
palm trees to be seen on every hand; isolated, clustered by twos and
threes at the mouths of ravines and about the villages, planted
in regular file along the banks of the river like rows of columns,
symmetrically arranged in plantations,--these are the invariable
background against which other trees are grouped, diversifying the
landscape. The feathery tamarisk[*] and the nabk, the moringa, the
carob, or locust tree several varieties of acacia and mimosa-the sont,
the mimosa habbas, the white acacia, the Acacia Parnesxana--and
the pomegranate tree, increase in number with the distance from the

     * The Egyptian name for the tamarisk, _asari, asri_, is
     identical with that given to it in Semitic languages, both
     ancient and modern.    This would suggest the question
     whether the tamarisk did not originally come from Asia. In
     that case it must have been brought to Egypt from remote
     antiquity, for it figures in the  Pyramid texts.   Bricks of
     Nile mud, and Memphite and Theban tombs have yielded us
     leaves, twigs, and even whole branches of the tamarisk.


     1 From a drawing by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger,
     taken in 1884.

The dry air of the valley is marvellously suited to them, but makes the
tissue of their foliage hard and fibrous, imparting an aerial aspect,
and such faded tints as are unknown to their growth in other climates.
The greater number of these trees do not reproduce themselves
spontaneously, and tend to disappear when neglected. The Acacia Seyal,
formerly abundant by the banks of the river, is now almost entirely
confined to certain valleys of the Theban desert, along with a variety
of the kernelled dôm-palm, of which a poetical description has come
down to us from the Ancient Egyptians. The common dôm-palm bifurcates at
eight or ten yards from the ground; these branches are subdivided, and
terminate in bunches of twenty to thirty palmate and fibrous leaves, six
to eight feet long. At the beginning of this century the tree was
common in Upper Egypt, but it is now becoming scarce, and we are within
measurable distance of the time when its presence will be an exception
north of the first cataract. Willows are decreasing in number, and the
persea, one of the sacred trees of Ancient Egypt, is now only to be
found in gardens. None of the remaining tree species are common enough
to grow in large clusters; and Egypt, reduced to her lofty groves of
date-palms, presents the singular spectacle of a country where there is
no lack of trees, but an almost entire absence of shade.

[Illustration: 41.jpg SHE-ASS AND HER FOAL.]

If Egypt is a land of imported flora, it is also a land of imported
fauna, and all its animal species have been brought from neighbouring
countries. Some of these--as, for example, the horse and the camel--were
only introduced at a comparatively recent period, two thousand to
eighteen hundred years before our era; the camel still later. The
animals--such as the long and short-horned oxen, together with varieties
of goats and dogs--are, like the plants, generally of African origin,
and the ass of Egypt preserves an original purity of form and a vigour
to which the European donkey has long been a stranger. The pig and
the wild boar, the long-eared hare, the hedgehog, the ichneumon, the
moufflon, or maned sheep, innumerable gazelles, including the Egyptian
gazelles, and antelopes with lyre-shaped horns, are as much West Asian
as African, like the carnivors of all sizes, whose prey they are--the
wild cat, the wolf, the jackal, the striped and spotted hyenas, the
leopard, the panther, the hunting leopard, and the lion.

[Illustration: 042.jpg THE URÆUS OF EGYPT. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from pl. iii. of the Reptiles-
     Supplement to the _Description de Ægypte_.

On the other hand, most of the serpents, large and small, are
indigenous. Some are harmless, like the colubers; others are venomous,
such as the soy tale, the cerastes, the haje viper, and the asp. The asp
was worshipped by the Egyptians under the name of uræus. It occasionally
attains to a length of six and a half feet, and when approached will
erect its head and inflate its throat in readiness for darting forward.
The bite is fatal, like that of the cerastes; birds are literally struck
down by the strength of the poison, while the great mammals, and man
himself, almost invariably succumb to it after a longer or shorter
death-struggle. The uræus is rarely found except in the desert or in the
fields; the scorpion crawls everywhere, in desert and city alike, and if
its sting is not always followed by death, it invariably causes terrible
pain. Probably there were once several kinds of gigantic serpent in
Egypt, analogous to the pythons of equatorial Africa. They are still to
be seen in representations of funerary scenes, but not elsewhere; for,
like the elephant, the giraffe, and other animals which now only thrive
far south, they had disappeared at the beginning of historic times.
The hippopotamus long maintained its ground before returning to those
equatorial regions whence it had been brought by the Nile. Common under
the first dynasties, but afterwards withdrawing to the marshes of the
Delta, it there continued to flourish up to the thirteenth century of
our era. The crocodile, which came with it, has, like it also, been
compelled to beat a retreat. Lord of the river throughout all ancient
times, worshipped and protected in some provinces, execrated and
proscribed in others, it might still be seen in the neighbourhood of
Cairo towards the beginning of our century. In 1840, it no longer passed
beyond the neighbourhood of Gebel et-Têr, nor beyond that of Manfalût
in Thirty years later, Mariette asserted that it was steadily retreating
before the guns of tourists, and the disturbance which the regular
passing of steamboats produced in the deep waters. To-day, no one knows
of a single crocodile existing below Aswan, but it continues to infest
Nubia, and the rocks of the first cataract: one of them is occasionally
carried down by the current into Egypt where it is speedily despatched
by the fellâhin, or by some traveller in quest of adventure. The
fertility of the soil, and the vastness of the lakes and marshes,
attract many migratory birds; passerinæ and palmipedes flock thither
from all parts of the Mediterranean. Our European swallows, our
quails, our geese and wild ducks, our herons--to mention only the
most familiar--come here to winter, sheltered from cold and inclement

[Illustration: 044.jpg THE IBIS OF EGYPT.]

Even the non-migratory birds are really, for the most part, strangers
acclimatized by long sojourn. Some of them--the turtledove, the magpie,
the kingfisher, the partridge, and the sparrow-may be classed with our
European species, while others betray their equatorial origin in the
brightness of their colours. White and black ibises, red flamingoes,
pelicans, and cormorants enliven the waters of the river, and animate
the reedy swamps of the Delta in infinite variety. They are to be seen
ranged in long files upon the sand-banks, fishing and basking in the
sun; suddenly the flock is seized with panic, rises heavily, and settles
away further off. In hollows of the hills, eagle and falcon, the merlin,
the bald-headed vulture, the kestrel, the golden sparrow-hawk, find
inaccessible retreats, whence they descend upon the plains like so many
pillaging and well-armed barons. A thousand little chattering birds come
at eventide to perch in flocks upon the frail boughs of tamarisk and

[Illustration: 045.jpg THE MORMYRUS OXYRHYNCHUS.]

Many sea-fish make their way upstream to swim in fresh waters-shad,
mullet, perch, and labrus--and carry their excursions far into the Saïd.
Those species which are not Mediterranean came originally, still come
annually, from the heart of Ethiopia with the of the Nile, including two
kinds of Alestes, the elled turtle, the Bagrus docmac, and the mormyrus.
Some attain to a gigantic size, the Bagrus bayad and the turtle to about
one yard, the latus to three and a half yards in length, while others,
such as the sihlrus (catfish), are noted for their electric properties.
Nature seems to have made the fahâka (the globe-fish) in a fit of
playfulness. It is a long fish from beyond the cataracts, and it is
carried by the Nile the more easily on account of the faculty it has of
filling itself with air, and inflating its body at will.

[Illustration: 046.jpg AHAKA]

When swelled out immoderately, the fahâka overbalances, and drifts along
upside down, its belly to the wind, covered with spikes so that it looks
like a hedgehog. During the inundation, it floats with the current from
one canal to another, and is cast by the retreating waters upon the
muddy fields, where it becomes the prey of birds or of jackals, or
serves as a plaything for children.

[Illustration: 47.jpg TWO FISHERMEN CARRYING A LATUS. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a Medûm painting.    Pétrie,
     _Medûm_, pl. xii.

Everything is dependent upon the river:--the soil, the produce of the
soil, the species of animals it bears, the birds which it feeds: and
hence it was the Egyptians placed the river among their gods. They
personified it as a man with regular features, and a vigorous and
portly body, such as befits the rich of high lineage. His breasts, fully
developed like those of a woman, though less firm, hang heavily upon a
wide bosom where the fat lies in folds. A narrow girdle, whose ends fall
free about the thighs, supports his spacious abdomen, and his attire
is completed by sandals, and a close-fitting head-dress, generally
surmounted with a crown of water-plants. Sometimes water springs from
his breast; sometimes he presents a frog, or libation vases; or holds a
bundle of the cruces ansato, as symbols of life; or bears a flat tray,
full of offerings--bunches of flowers, ears of corn, heaps of fish,
and geese tied together by the feet. The inscriptions call him, "Hâpi,
father of the gods, lord of sustenance, who maketh food to be, and
covereth the two lands of Egypt with his products; who giveth life,
banisheth want, and filleth the granaries to overflowing." He is evolved
into two personages, one being sometimes coloured red, and the other
blue. The former, who wears a cluster of lotus-flowers upon his head,
presides over the Egypt of the south; the latter has a bunch of papyrus
for his head-dress, and watches over the Delta.[**]

     [**]  Wilkinson was the first who suggested that this god,
     when painted red was the Red (that is High) Nile and when
     painted blue, was to be identified with the Low Nile.
     This opinion has since been generally adopted; but to me it
     does not appear so incontrovertible as it has been
     considered. Here, as in other cases, the difference in
     colour is only a means of making the distinction between two
     personages obvious to sight.

Two goddesses, corresponding to the two Hâpis--Mirit Qimâit for Upper,
and Mirit Mîhit for Lower Egypt--personified the banks of the river.
They are often represented as standing with outstretched arms, as though
begging for the water which should make them fertile. The Nile-god had
his chapel in every province, and priests whose right it was to bury all
bodies of men or beasts cast up by the river; for the god had claimed
them, and to his servants they belonged.

[Illustration: 048.jpg THE NILE GOD. 1]

     1 THE NILE GOD: Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after a statue in
     the British Museum. The dedication of this statue took place
     about 880 B.c. The giver was Sheshonqu, high-priest of Amon
     in Thebes, afterwards King of Egypt under the name of
     Sheshhonqû II., and he is represented as standing behind the
     leg of the god.

[Illustration: 049.jpg THE Shrine Of The Nile At Biggeh.1]

     1 Reproduced from a bas-relief in the small temple of
     Philae, built by Rajan and his successors.    The window or
     door of this temple opened upon gen, and by comparing the
     drawing of the Egyptian artist with the view i the end of
     the chamber, it is easy to recognize the original of this
     cliff bouette in the piled-up rocks of the island.    By a
     mistake of the modern copyist's, his drawing faces the wrong

Several towns were dedicated to him: Hâthâpi, Nûit-Hâpi, Nilo-polis.
It was told in the Thebaïd how the god dwelt within a grotto, or shrine
(tophit), in the island of Biggeh, whence he issued at the inundation.
This tradition dates from a time when the cataract was believed to be at
the end of the world, and to bring down the heavenly river upon earth.
Two yawning gulfs (_qorîti_), at the foot of the two granite cliffs
(_monîti_) between which it ran, gave access to this mysterious retreat.
A bas-relief from Philae represents blocks of stone piled one above
another, the vulture of the south and the hawk of the north, each
perched on a summit, wearing a panther skin, with both arms upheld in
adoration. The statue is mutilated: the end of the nose, the beard, and
part of the tray have disappeared, but are restored in the illustration.
The two little birds hanging alongside the geese, together with a bunch
of ears of corn, are fat quails, and the circular chamber wherein Hâpi
crouches concealed, clasping a libation vase in either hand. A single
coil of a serpent outlines the contour of this chamber, and leaves a
narrow passage between its overlapping head and tail through which the
rising waters may overflow at the time appointed, bringing to Egypt "all
things good, and sweet, and pure," whereby gods and men are fed. Towards
the summer solstice, at the very moment when the sacred water from the
gulfs of Syene reached Silsileh, the priests of the place, sometimes the
reigning sovereign, or one of his sons, sacrificed a bull and geese, and
then cast into the waters a sealed roll of papyrus. This was a written
order to do all that might insure to Egypt the benefits of a normal
inundation. When Pharaoh himself deigned to officiate, the memory of
the event was preserved by a stela engraved upon the rocks. Even in his
absence, the festivals of the Nile were among the most solemn and joyous
of the land. According to a tradition transmitted from age to age, the
prosperity or adversity of the year was dependent upon the splendour
and fervour with which they were celebrated. Had the faithful shown the
slightest lukewarmness, the Nile might have refused to obey the command
and failed to spread freely over the surface of the country. Peasants
from a distance, each bringing his own provisions, ate their meals
together for days, and lived in a state of brutal intoxication as long
as this kind of fair lasted. On the great day itself, the priests came
forth in procession from the sanctuary, bearing the statue of the god
along the banks, to the sound of instruments and the chanting of hymns.


     1 From a drawing by Faucher-Gudin, after a photograph by

"I.--Hail to thee, Hâpi!--who appearest in the land and comest--to give
life to Egypt;--thou who dost hide thy coming in darkness--in this very
day whereon thy coming is sung,--wave, which spreadest over the orchards
created by Ra--to give life to all them that are athirst--who refusest
to give drink unto the desert--of the overflow of the waters of heaven;
as soon as thou descendest,--Sibû, the earth-god, is enamoured of
bread,--Napri, the god of grain, presents his offering,--Phtah maketh
every workshop to prosper.

"II.--Lord of the fish! as soon as he passeth the cataract--the
birds no longer descend upon the fields;--creator of corn, maker of
barley,--he prolongeth the existence of temples.--Do his fingers cease
from their labours, or doth he suffer?--then are all the millions of
beings in misery;--doth he wane in heaven? then the gods--themselves,
and all men perish.

"III.--The cattle are driven mad, and all the world--both great and
small, are in torment!--But if, on the contrary, the prayers of men are
heard at his rising--and (for them) he maketh himself Khnûmû,--when
he ariseth, then the earth shouts for joy,--then are all bellies
joyful,--each back is shaken with laughter,--and every tooth grindeth.

"IV.--Bringing food, rich in sustenance,--creator of all good
things,--lord of all seeds of life, pleasant unto his elect,--if his
friendship is secured--he produceth fodder for the cattle,--and he
provideth for the sacrifices of all the gods,--finer than any other
is the incense which cometh from him;--he taketh possession of the
two lands--and the granaries are filled, the storehouses are
prosperous,--and the goods of the poor are multiplied.

"V.--He is at the service of all prayers to answer them,--withholding
nothing. To make boats to be that is his strength.--Stones are not
sculptured for him--nor statues whereon the double crown is placed;--he
is unseen;--no tribute is paid unto him and no offerings are brought
unto him,--he is not charmed by words of mystery;--the place of his
dwelling is unknown, nor can his shrine be found by virtue of magic

"VI.--There is no house large enough for thee,--nor any who may
penetrate within thy heart!--Nevertheless, the generations of thy
children rejoice in thee--for thou dost rule as a king--whose decrees
are established for the whole earth,--who is manifest in presence of the
people of the South and of the North,--by whom the tears are washed from
every eye,--and who is lavish of his bounties.

"VII.--Where sorrow was, there doth break forth joy--and every
heart rejoiceth. Sovkû, the crocodile, the child of Nit, leaps for
gladness;[*]--for the Nine gods who accompany thee have ordered all
things,--the overflow giveth drink unto the fields--and maketh all men
valiant; one man taketh to drink of the labour of another,--without
charge being brought against him.[**]

     * The goddess Nît, the heifer born from the midst of the
     primordial waters, had two crocodiles as her children, which
     are sometimes represented on the monuments as hanging from
     her bosom. Both the part played by these animals, and the
     reason for connecting them with the goddess, are still
     imperfectly understood.

     ** This is an allusion to the quarrels and lawsuits
     resulting from the distribution of the water in years when
     the Nile was poor or bad.    If the inundation is abundant,
     disputes are at an end.

"IX.--If thou dost enter in the midst of songs to go forth in the midst
of gladness,--if they dance with joy when thou comest forth out of the
unknown,--it is that thy heaviness is death and corruption.--And when
thou art implored to give the water of the year,--the people of the
Thebai'd and of the North are seen side by side,--each man with the
tools of his trade,--none tarrieth behind his neighbour;--of all
those who clothed themselves, no man clotheth himself (with festive
garments)--the children of Thot, the god of riches, no longer adorn
themselves with jewels,--nor the Nine gods, but they are in the
night!--As soon as thou hast answered by the rising,--each one anointeth
himself with perfumes.

"X.--Establisher of true riches, desire of men,--here are seductive
words in order that thou mayest reply;--if thou dost answer mankind
by waves of the heavenly Ocean,--Napri, the grain-god, presents his
offering,--all the gods adore (thee),--the birds no longer descend upon
the hills;--though that which thy hand formeth were of gold--or in the
shape of a brick of silver,--it is not lapis-lazuli that we eat,--but
wheat is of more worth than precious stones.

"XI.--They have begun to sing unto thee upon the harp,--they sing
unto thee keeping time with their hands,--and the generations of thy
children rejoice in thee, and they have filled thee with salutations of
praise;--for it is the god of Riches who adorneth the earth,--who maketh
barks to prosper in the sight of man--who rejoiceth the heart of women
with child--who loveth the increase of the flocks.

"XII.--When thou art risen in the city of the Prince,--then is the rich
man filled--the small man (the poor) disdaineth the lotus,--all is solid
and of good quality,--all herbage is for his children.--Doth he forget
to give food?--prosperity forsaketh the dwellings,--and earth falleth
into a wasting sickness."

[Illustration: 055.jpg Libyan Mountains]

The word Nile is of uncertain origin. We have it from the Greeks,
and they took it from a people foreign to Egypt, either from the
Phoenicians, the Khîti, the Libyans, or from people of Asia Minor. When
the Egyptians themselves did not care to treat their river as the god
Hâpi, they called it the sea, or the great river. They had twenty terms
or more by which to designate the different phases which it assumed
according to the seasons, but they would not have understood what was
meant had one spoken to them of the Nile. The name Egypt also is part
of the Hellenic tradition; perhaps it was taken from the temple-name of
Memphis, Hâikûphtah, which barbarian coast tribes of the Mediterranean
must long have had ringing in their ears as that of the most important
and wealthiest town to be found upon the shores of their sea. The
Egyptians called themselves Bomitû, Botû, and their country Qîmit, the
black land. Whence came they? How far off in time are we to carry back
the date of their arrival? The oldest monuments hitherto known scarcely
transport us further than six thousand years, yet they are of an art so
fine, so well determined in its main outlines, and reveal so ingeniously
combined a system of administration, government, and religion, that we
infer a long past of accumulated centuries behind them. It must always
be difficult to estimate exactly the length of time needful for a race
as gifted as were the Ancient Egyptians to rise from barbarism into a
high degree of culture. Nevertheless, I do not think that we shall be
misled in granting them forty or fifty centuries wherein to bring so
complicated an achievement to a successful issue, and in placing their
first appearance at eight or ten thousand years before our era.
Their earliest horizon was a very limited one. Their gaze might wander
westward over the ravine-furrowed plains of the Libyan desert without
reaching that fabled land of Manu where the sun set every evening; but
looking eastward from the valley, they could see the peak of Bâkhû,
which marked the limit of regions accessible to man.

Beyond these regions lay the beginnings of To-nûtri, the land of the
gods, and the breezes passing over it were laden with its perfumes, and
sometimes wafted them to mortals lost in the desert.[*]

     * The  perfumes  and the  odoriferous woods of the Divine
     Land were celebrated in Egypt. A traveller or hunter,
     crossing the desert, "could not but be vividly impressed by
     suddenly becoming aware, in the very midst of the desert, of
     the penetrating scent of the _robul (Puliciaria undulata_,
     Schwbine.), which once followed us throughout a day and two
     nights, in some places without our being able to distinguish
     whence it came; as, for instance, when we were crossing
     tracts of country without any traces of vegetation whatever."

Northward, the world came to an end towards the lagoons of the Delta,
whose inaccessible islands were believed to be the sojourning-place
of souls after death. As regards the south, precise knowledge of it
scarcely went beyond the defiles of Gebel Sil-sileh, where the last
remains of the granite threshold had perhaps not altogether disappeared.
The district beyond Gebel Silsileh, the province of Konûsit, was still
a foreign and almost mythic country, directly connected with heaven by
means of the cataract. Long after the Egyptians had broken through this
restricted circle, the names of those places which had as it were marked
out their frontiers, continued to be associated in their minds with the
idea of the four cardinal points. Bâkhû and Manu were still the most
frequent expressions for the extreme East and West. Nekhabit and Bûto,
the most populous towns in the neighbourhoods of Gebel Silsileh and the
ponds of the Delta, were set over against each other to designate South
and North. It was within these narrow limits that Egyptian civilization
struck root and ripened, as in a closed vessel. What were the people by
whom it was developed, the country whence they came, the races to
which they belonged, is to-day unknown. The majority would place their
cradle-land in Asia,[*] but cannot agree in determining the route which
was followed in the emigration to Africa.

     * The greater number of contemporary Egyptologists, Brugsch,
     Ebers,--Lauth, Lieblein, have rallied to this opinion, in
     the train of E. de Rougé; but the most extreme position has
     been taken up by Hommel, the Assyriologist, who is inclined
     to derive Egyptian civilization entirely from the
     Babylonian. After having summarily announced this thesis in
     his _Geschichte Babyloniens und Assyriens_, p. 12, et seq.,
     he has set it forth at length in a special treatise, _Der
     Babylonische Ursprung der àgyptischen Kultur_, 1892, wherein
     he endeavours to prove that the Heliopolitan myths, and
     hence the whole Egyptian religion, are derived from the
     cults of Eridû, and would make the name of the Egyptian city
     Onû, or Anû, identical with that of _Nûn-H, Nûn_, which is
     borne by the Chaldean.

Some think that the people took the shortest road across the Isthmus
of Suez, others give them longer peregrinations and a more complicated
itinerary. They would have them cross the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb,
and then the Abyssinian mountains, and, spreading northward and keeping
along the Nile, finally settle in the Egypt of to-day. A more minute
examination compels us to recognize that the hypothesis of an Asiatic
origin, however attractive it may seem, is somewhat difficult
to maintain. The bulk of the Egyptian population presents the
characteristics of those white races which have been found established
from all antiquity on the Mediterranean slope of the Libyan continent;
this population is of African origin, and came to Egypt from the West
or South-West. In the valley, perhaps, it may have met with a black race
which it drove back or destroyed; and there, perhaps, too, it afterwards
received an accretion of Asiatic elements, introduced by way of the
isthmus and the marshes of the Delta. But whatever may be the origin
of the ancestors of the Egyptians, they were scarcely settled upon the
banks of the Nile before the country conquered, and assimilated them to
itself, as it has never ceased to do in the case of strangers who have
occupied it. At the time when their history begins for us, all the
inhabitants had long formed but one people, with but one language.

This language seems to be connected with the Semitic tongues by many
of its roots. It forms its personal pronouns, whether isolated or
suffixed, in a similar way. One of the tenses of the conjugation, and
that the simplest and most archaic, is formed with identical affixes.
Without insisting upon resemblances which are open to doubt, it may be
almost affirmed that most of the grammatical processes used in Semitic
languages are to be found in a rudimentary condition in Egyptian. One
would say that the language of the people of Egypt and the languages of
the Semitic races, having once belonged to the same group, had separated
very early, at a time when the vocabulary and the grammatical system
of the group had not as yet taken definite shape. Subject to different
influences, the two families would treat in diverse fashion the elements
common to both. The Semitic dialects continued to develop for centuries,
while the Egyptian language, although earlier cultivated, stopped short
in its growth. "If it is obvious that there was an original connexion
between the language of Egypt and that of Asia, this connexion is
nevertheless sufficiently remote to leave to the Egyptian race a
distinct physiognomy." We recognize it in sculptured and painted
portraits, as well as in thousands of mummied bodies out of subterranean
tombs. The highest type of Egyptian was tall and slender, with a proud
and imperious air in the carriage of his head and in his whole bearing.
He had wide and full shoulders, well-marked and vigorous pectoral
muscles, muscular arms, a long, fine hand, slightly developed hips, and
sinewy legs. The detail of the knee-joint and the muscles of the calf
are strongly marked beneath the skin; the long, thin, and low-arched
feet are flattened out at the extremities owing to the custom of going
barefoot. The head is rather short, the face oval, the forehead somewhat
retreating. The eyes are wide and fully opened, the cheekbones not too
marked, the nose fairly prominent, and either straight or aquiline. The
mouth is long, the lips full, and lightly ridged along their outline;
the teeth small, even, well-set, and remarkably sound; the ears are set
high on the head. At birth the skin is white, but darkens in proportion
to its exposure to the sun. Men are generally painted red in the
pictures, though, as a matter of fact, there must already have been
all the shades which we see among the present population^ from a most
delicate, rose-tinted complexion to that of a smoke-coloured bronze.
Women, who were less exposed to the sun, are generally painted yellow,
the tint paler in proportion as they rise in the social scale. The hair
was inclined to be wavy, and even to curl into little ringlets, but
without ever turning into the wool of the negro.

[Illustration: 059.jpg THE NOBLE TYPE OF EGYPTIAN. 1]

     1 Statue of Rânofir in the Gîzeh Museum (Vth dynasty), after
     a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey.

[Illustration: 060.jpg HEAD OF A TILEBAN MUMMY.]

The beard was scanty, thick only upon the chin. Such was the highest
type; the commoner was squat, dumpy, and heavy. Chest and shoulders seem
to be enlarged at the expense of the pelvis and the hips, to such an
extent as to make the want of proportion between the upper and lower
parts of the body startling and ungraceful. The skull is long, somewhat
retreating, and slightly flattened on the top; the features are coarse,
and as though carved in flesh by great strokes of the blocking-out
chisel. Small frseuated eyes, a short nose, flanked by widely distended
nostrils, round cheeks, a square chin, thick, but not curling lips--this
unattractive and ludicrous physiognomy, sometimes animated by an
expression of cunning which recalls the shrewd face of an old French
peasant, is often lighted up by gleams of gentleness and of melancholy
good-nature. The external characteristics of these two principal types
in the ancient monuments, in all varieties of modifications, may still
be seen among the living. The profile copied from a Theban mummy taken
at hazard from a necropolis of the XVIIIth dynasty, and compared with
the likeness of a modern Luxor peasant, would almost pass for a family
portrait. Wandering Bisharîn have inherited the type of face of a great
noble, the contemporary of Kheops; and any peasant woman of the Delta
may bear upon her shoulders che head of a twelfth-dynasty king. A
citizen of Cairo, gazing with wonder at the statues of Khafra or of Seti
I. in the Gîzeh Museum, is himself, feature for feature, the very image
of those ancient Pharaohs, though removed from them by fifty centuries.

KING. 1]

     1  The face of the woman here given was taken separately,
     and was subsequently attached to the figure of an Egyptian
     woman whom Naville had photographed sitting beside a
     colossal head. The nose of the statue has been restored.

Until quite recently nothing, or all but nothing, had been discovered
which could be attributed to the primitive races of Egypt: even the
flint weapons and implements which had been found in various places
could not be ascribed to them with any degree of certainty, for the
Egyptians continued to use stone long after metal was known to them.
They made stone arrowheads, hammers, and knives, not only in the time of
the Pharaohs, but under the Romans, and during the whole period of
the Middle Ages, and the manufacture of them has not yet entirely died

     **  An entire collection of flint tools--axes, adzes,
     knives, and sickles--mostly with wooden handles, were found
     by Prof. Pétrie in the ruins of Kahun, at the entrance to
     the Fayûm: these go back to the time of the twelfth dynasty,
     more than three thousand years before our era. Mariette had
     previously pointed out to the learned world the fact that a
     Coptic _Reis_, Salîb of Abydos, in charge of the
     excavations, shaved his head with a flint knife, according
     to the custom of his youth (1820-35). I knew the man, who
     died at over eighty years of age in 1887; he was still
     faithful to his flint implement, while his sons and the
     whole population of El Kharbeh were using nothing but steel
     razors. As his scalp was scraped nearly raw by the
     operation, he used to cover his head with fresh leaves to
     cool the inflamed skin.

These objects, and the workshops where they were made, might therefore
be less ancient than the greater part of the inscribed monuments. But if
so far we had found no examples of any work belonging to the first ages,
we met in historic times with certain customs which were out of harmony
with the general civilization of the period. A comparison of these
customs with analogous practices of barbarous nations threw light upon
the former, completed their meaning, and showed us at the same time the
successive stages through which the Egyptian people had to pass before
reaching their highest civilization. We knew, for example, that even
as late as the Cæsars, girls belonging to noble families at Thebes were
consecrated to the service of Amon, and were thus licensed to a life
of immorality, which, however, did not prevent them from making rich
marriages when age obliged them to retire from office. Theban women were
not the only people in the world to whom such licence was granted or
imposed upon them by law; wherever in a civilized country we see a
similar practice, we may recognize in it an ancient custom which in the
course of centuries has degenerated into a religious observance. The
institution of the women of Amon is a legacy from a time when the
practice of polyandry obtained, and marriage did not yet exist. Age and
maternity relieved them from this obligation, and preserved them from
those incestuous connections of which we find examples in other races.
A union of father and daughter, however, was perhaps not wholly
forbidden,[*] and that of brother and sister seems to have been regarded
as perfectly right and natural; the words brother and sister possessing
in Egyptian love-songs the same significance as lover and mistress with

     * E. de Rouge held that Rameses II. married at least two of
     his daughters, Bint Anati and Honittui; Wiedemann admits
     that Psammetichus I. had in the same way taken to wife
     Nitocris, who had been born to him by the Theban princess
     Shapenuapit. The Achæmenidan kings did the same: Artaxerxes
     married two of his own daughters.

Paternity was necessarily doubtful in a community of this kind, and
hence the tie between fathers and children was slight; there being
no family, in the sense in which we understand the word, except as it
centred around the mother.

Maternal descent was, therefore, the only one openly acknowledged, and
the affiliation of the child was indicated by the name of the mother
alone. When the woman ceased to belong to all, and confined herself to
one husband, the man reserved to himself the privilege of taking as many
wives as he wished, or as he was able to keep, beginning with his own
sisters. All wives did not enjoy identical rights: those born of the
same parents as the man, or those of equal rank with himself, preserved
their independence. If the law pronounced him the master, _nibû_, to
whom they owed obedience and fidelity, they were mistresses of the
house, _nîbît pirû_, as well as wives, _himitû_, and the two words of
the title express their condition. Each of them occupied, in fact, her
own house, _pirû_, which she had from her parents or her husband, and of
which she was absolute mistress, _nîbît_. She lived in it and performed
in it without constraint all a woman's duties; feeding the fire,
grinding the corn, occupying herself in cooking and weaving, making
clothing and perfumes, nursing and teaching her children. When her
husband visited her, he was a guest whom she received on an equal
footing. It appears that at the outset these various wives were placed
under the authority of an older woman, whom they looked on as their
mother, and who defended their rights and interests against the master;
but this custom gradually disappeared, and in historic times we read
of it as existing only in the families of the gods. The female singers
consecrated to Amon and other deities, owed obedience to several
superiors, of whom the principal (generally the widow of a king or high
priest) was called _chief-superior of the ladies of the harem of Amon_.
Besides these wives, there were concubines, slaves purchased or born in
the house, prisoners of war, Egyptians of inferior class, who were the
chattels of the man and of whom he could dispose as he wished. All the
children of one father were legitimate, whether their mother were a wife
or merely a concubine, but they did not all enjoy the same advantages;
those among them who were born of a brother or sister united in
legitimate marriage, took precedence of those whose mother was a wife of
inferior rank or a slave. In the family thus constituted, the woman,
to all appearances, played the principal part. Children recognized the
parental relationship in the mother alone. The husband appears to have
entered the house of his wives, rather than the wives to have entered
his, and this appearance of inferiority was so marked that the Greeks
were deceived by it. They affirmed that the woman was supreme in Egypt;
the man at the time of marriage promised obedience to her and entered
into a contract not to raise any objection to her commands.

We had, therefore, good grounds for supposing that the first Egyptians
were semi-savages, like those still living in Africa and America, having
an analogous organization, and similar weapons and tools. A few lived
in the desert, in the oasis of Libya, or in the deep valleys of the Red
Land--Doshirit, To Doshiru--between the Nile and the sea; the poverty
of the country fostering their native savagery. Others, settled on
the Black Land, gradually became civilized, and we have found of late
considerable remains of those of their generations who, if not anterior
to the times of written records, were at least contemporary with the
earliest kings of the first historical dynasty.


Their houses were like those of the fellahs of to-day, low huts of
wattle daubed with puddled clay, or of bricks dried in the sun. They
contained one room, either oblong or square, the door being the only
aperture. Those of the richer class only were large enough to make it
needful to support the roof by means of one or more trunks of trees,
which did duty for columns. Earthen pots, turned by hand, flint knives
and other implements, mats of reeds or plaited straw, two flat stones
for grinding corn, a few pieces of wooden furniture, stools, and
head-rests for use at night, comprised all the contents. Their ordinary
pottery is heavy and almost devoid of ornament, but some of the finer
kinds have been moulded and baked in wickerwork baskets, which have left
a quaint trellis-like impression on the surface of the clay. In many
cases the vases are bicolour, the body being of a fine smooth red,
polished with a stone, while the neck and base are of an intense black,
the surface of which is even more shining than that of the red part.
Sometimes they are ornamented with patterns in white of flowers,
palms, ostriches, gazelles, boats with undulated or broken lines, or
geometrical figures of a very simple nature. More often the ground is
coloured a fine yellow, and the decoration has been traced in red lines.
Jars, saucers, double vases, flat plates, large cups, supports for
amphorae, trays raised on a foot--in short, every kind of form is found
in use at that remote period. The men went about nearly naked, except
the nobles, who wore a panther's skin, sometimes thrown over the
shoulders, sometimes drawn round the waist, and covering the lower part
of the body, the animal's tail touching the heels behind, as we see
later in several representations of the negroes of the Upper Nile. They
smeared their limbs with grease or oil, and they tattooed their faces
and bodies, at least in part; but in later times this practice was
retained by the lower classes only. On the other hand, the custom of
painting the face was never given up. To complete their toilet, it was
necessary to accentuate the arch of the eyebrow with a line of kohl
(antimony powder). A similar black line surrounded and prolonged the
oval of the eye to the middle of the temple, a layer of green coloured
the under lid, and ochre and carmine enlivened the tints of the cheeks
and lips. The hair, plaited, curled, oiled, and plastered with grease,
formed an erection which was as complicated in the case of the man as in
that of the woman.


     1 Wooden statue in the Gîzeh Museum (IVth dynasty), drawn by
     Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Béchard.

     2 Statue of the second prophet of Amon, Aa-nen, in the Turin
     Museum (XVIIIth dynasty).

Should the hair be too short, a black or blue wig, dressed with much
skill, was substituted for it; ostrich feathers waved on the heads
of warriors, and a large lock, flattened behind the right ear,
distinguished the military or religious chiefs from their subordinates.
When the art of weaving became common, a belt and loin-cloth of white
linen replaced the leathern garment. Fastened round the waist, but so
low as to leave the navel uncovered, the loin-cloth frequently reached
to the knee; the hinder part was frequently drawn between the legs and
attached in front to the belt, thus forming a kind of drawers. Tails
of animals and wild beast's skin were henceforth only the insignia of
authority with which priests and princes adorned themselves on great
days and at religious ceremonies. The skin was sometimes carelessly
thrown over the left shoulder and swayed with the movement of the body;
sometimes it was carefully adjusted over one shoulder and under the
other, so as to bring the curve of the chest into prominence. The head
of the animal, skilfully prepared and enlivened by large eyes of enamel,
rested on the shoulder or fell just below the waist of the wearer; the
paws, with the claws attached, hung down over the thighs; the spots of
the skin were manipulated so as to form five-pointed stars. On going
out-of-doors, a large wrap was thrown over all; this covering was either
smooth or hairy, similar to that in which the Nubians and Abyssinians of
the present day envelop themselves. It could be draped in various
ways; transversely over the left shoulder like the fringed shawl of the
Chaldeans, or hanging straight from both shoulders like a mantle.[**]

     ** This costume, to which Egyptologists have not given
     sufficient attention, is frequently represented on the
     monuments. Besides the two statues reproduced above, I may
     cite those of Uahibri and of Thoth-nofir in the Louvre, and
     the Lady Nofrit in the Gîzeh Museum. Thothotpû in his tomb
     wears this mantle. Khnumhotpû and several of his workmen are
     represented in it at Beni-Hasan, as also one of the princes
     of Elephantine in the recently discovered tombs, besides
     many Egyptians of all classes in the tombs  of  Thebes  (a
     good  example  is  in  the tomb  of Harmhabi).    The reason
     why it does not figure more often is, in the first place,
     that the Egyptian artists experienced actual difficulty in
     representing the folds of its drapery, although these were
     simple compared with the complicated arrangement of the
     Roman toga; finally, the wall-paintings mostly portray
     either interior scenes, or agricultural labour, or the work
     of various trades, or episodes of war, or religious
     ceremonies, in all of which the mantle plays no part. Every
     Egyptian peasant, however, possessed his own, and it was in
     constant use in his daily life.

In fact, it did duty as a cloak, sheltering the wearer from the sun
or from the rain, from the heat or from the cold. They never sought to
transform it into a luxurious garment of state, as was the case in later
times with the Roman toga, whose amplitude secured a certain dignity of
carriage, and whose folds, carefully adjusted beforehand, fell around
the body with studied grace. The Egyptian mantle when not required was
thrown aside and folded up. The material being fine and soft it occupied
but a small space and was reduced to a long thin roll; the ends being
then fastened together, it was slung over the shoulder and round the
body like a cavalry cloak.[*]

     * Many draughtsmen, ignorant of what they had to represent,
     have made incorrect copies of the manner in which this cloak
     was worn; but examples of it are numerous, although until
     now attention has not been called to them. The following are
     a few instances taken at random of the way in which it was
     used: Pepi I., fighting against the nomads of Sinai, has the
     cloak, but with the two ends passed through the belt of his
     loin-cloth; at Zawyet el-Maiyitîn, Khunas, killing birds
     with the boomerang from his boat, wears it, but simply
     thrown over the left shoulder, with the two extremities
     hanging free. Khnumhotpû at Beni-Hasan, the Khrihdbi, the
     overseers, or the peasants, all have it rolled and slung
     round them; the Prince of el-Bersheh wears it like a mantle
     in folds over the two shoulders. If it is objected that the
     material could not be reduced to such small dimensions as
     those represented in these drawings of what I believe to be
     the Egyptian cloak, I way cite our cavalry capes, when
     rolled and slung, as an instance of what good packing will
     do in reducing volume.

[Illustration: 070.jpg a dignitary wrapped in his large cloak. 1]

     1 Statue of Khiti in the Gîzeh Museum (XIIth and XIIIth
     dynasties), drawn by Faucher-Gudin.

Travellers, shepherds, all those whose occupations called them to the
fields, carried it as a bundle at the ends of their sticks; once arrived
at the scene of their work, they deposited it in a corner with their
provisions until they required it. The women were at first contented
with a loin-cloth like that of the men; it was enlarged and lengthened
till it reached the ankle below and the bosom above, and became a
tightly fitting garment, with two bands over the shoulders, like braces,
to keep it in place. The feet were not always covered; on certain
occasions, however, sandals of coarse leather, plaited straw, split
reed, or even painted wood, adorned those shapely Egyptian feet, which,
to suit our taste, should be a little shorter.

[Illustration: 072.jpg COSTUME OF EGYPTIAN WOMAN, SPINNING. 1]

     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the spinning-women at
     the Paris Exhibition of 1889. It was restored from the
     paintings in the tomb of Khnumhotpû at Beni-Hasan.

Both men and women loved ornaments, and covered their necks, breasts,
arms, wrists, and ankles with many rows of necklaces and bracelets. The
bracelets were made of elephant ivory, mother-of-pearl, or even flint,
very cleverly perforated. The necklaces were composed of strings of
pierced shells,[**] interspersed with seeds and little pebbles,
either sparkling or of unusual shapes.[***] Subsequently imitations
in terra-cotta replaced the natural shells, and precious stones were
substituted for pebbles, as were also beads of enamel, either round,
pear-shaped, or cylindrical: the necklaces were terminated and a uniform
distance maintained between the rows of beads, by several slips of wood,
bone, ivory, porcelain, or terra-cotta, pierced with holes, through
which ran the threads.

     **  The burying-places of Abydos, especially the most
     ancient, have furnished us with millions of shells, pierced
     and threaded as necklaces; they all belong to the species of
     cowries used as money in Africa at the present day.

     ***  Necklaces of seeds have been found in the tombs of
     Abydos, Thebes, and Gebelên.    Of  these  Schweinfurth
     has  identified,   among others,   the _Cassia absus_,  "a
     weed of the Soudan whose seeds are sold in the drug bazaar
     at Cairo and Alexandria under the name of _shishn_, as a
     remedy, which is in great request among the natives, for
     ophthalmia." For the necklaces of pebbles, cf. Maspeeo,
     Guide du visiteur, pp. 270, 271, No. 4129. A considerable
     number of these pebbles, particularly those of strange
     shape, or presenting a curious combination of colours, must
     have been regarded as amulets or fetishes by their Egyptian
     owners; analogous cases, among other peoples, have been
     pointed out by E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p.

[Illustration: 073.jpg MAN WEARING WIG AND NECKLACES.1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a portrait of Pharaoh Seti I.
     of the XIXth dynasty: the lower part of the necklace has
     been completed.

Weapons, at least among the nobility, were an indispensable part of
costume. Most of them were for hand-to-hand fighting: sticks, clubs,
lances furnished with a sharpened bone or stone point, axes and daggers
of flint,[*] sabres and clubs of bone or wood variously shaped, pointed
or rounded at the end, with blunt or sharp blades,--inoffensive enough
to look at, but, wielded by a vigorous hand, sufficient to break an arm,
crush in the ribs, or smash a skull with all desirable precision.[**]
The plain or triple curved bow was the favourite weapon for attack at
a distance,[***] but in addition to this there were the sling, the
javelin, and a missile almost forgotten nowadays, the boomerang, we have
no proof however, that the Egyptians handled the boomerang[****] with
the skill of the Australians, or that they knew how to throw it so as to
bring it back to its point of departure.[v]

     *  In several museums, notably at Leyden, we find Egyptian
     axes of stone, particularly of serpentine, both rough and

     **  In primitive times the bone of an animal served as a
     club.    This is proved by the shape of the object held in
     the hand in the sign and the hieroglyph which is the
     determinative in writing for all ideas   of violence or
     brute force, comes down to us from a time when the principal
     weapon was the club, or a bone serving as a club.

     ***  For the two principal shapes of the bow, see Lepsius,
     Der Bogen in der Hieroglypliik (Zeitschrift, 1872, pp. 79-
     88). From the earliest times the sign m£ portrays the
     soldier equipped with the bow and bundle of arrows; the
     quiver was of Asiatic origin, and was not adopted until much
     later. In the contemporary texts of the first dynasties, the
     idea of weapons is conveyed by the bow, arrow, and club or

     ****  The boomerang is still used by certain tribes of the
     Nile valley.    It is portrayed in the most ancient tombs,
     and every museum possesses examples, varying in shape.
     Besides the ordinary boomerang, the Egyptians used one which
     ended in a knob, and another of semicircular shape: this
     latter, reproduced in miniature in cornelian or in red
     jasper, served as an amulet, and was placed on the mummy to
     furnish the deceased in the other world with a fighting or
     hunting weapon.

     v  The Australian boomerang is much larger than the Egyptian
     one; it is about a yard in length, two inches in width, and
     three sixteenths of an inch in thickness. For the manner of
     handling it, and what can be done with it, see Lubbock,
     Prehistoric Man, pp. 402, 403.

[Illustration: 074.jpg the boomerang and FIGHTING bow. 2 ]

     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painting in the tomb of
     Khnumhotpû at Beni-Hasan.

[Illustration: 075.jpg VOTIVE AXE. 3]

     3  The blade is of bronze, and is attached to the wooden
     handle by interlacing thongs of leather (Gizeh Museum).
     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-

Such was approximately the most ancient equipment as far as we can
ascertain; but at a very early date copper and iron were known in
Egypt.[**] Long before historic times, the majority of the weapons in
wood were replaced by those of metal,--daggers, sabres, hatchets, which
preserved, however, the shape of the old wooden instruments.

     **  Metals were introduced into Egypt in very ancient times,
     since the class of blacksmiths is associated with the
     worship of Horus of Edfû, and appears in the account of the
     mythical wars of that God. The earliest tools we possess, in
     copper or bronze, date from the IVth dynasty: pieces of iron
     have been found from time to time in the masonry of the
     Great Pyramid. Mons Montélius has again and again contested
     the authenticity of these discoveries, and he thinks that
     iron was not known in Egypt till a much later period.

Those wooden weapons which were retained, were used for hunting, or were
only brought out on solemn occasions when tradition had to be respected.
The war-baton became the commander's wand of authority, and at last
degenerated into the walking-stick of the rich or noble.

[Illustration: 076.jpg KING HOLDING THE BATON. 3]

     3  Bas-relief in the temple of Luxor, from a photograph
     taken by Insinger in 1886.

The club at length represented merely the rank of a chieftain,[*] while
the crook and the wooden-handled mace, with its head of ivory, diorite,
granite, or white stone, the favourite weapons of princes, continued to
the last the most revered insignia of royalty.[**]

Life was passed in comparative ease and pleasure. Of the ponds left in
the open country by the river at its fall, some dried up more or less
quickly during the winter, leaving on the soil an immense quantity
of fish, the possession of which birds and wild beasts disputed with

     *  The wooden club most commonly represented is the usual
     insignia of a nobleman. Several kinds of clubs, somewhat
     difficult for us moderns to distinguish, yet bearing
     different names, formed a part of funereal furniture.

     **  The crook is the sceptre of a prince, a Pharaoh, or a
     god; the white mace has still the value apparently of a
     weapon in the hands of the king who brandishes it over a
     group of prisoners or over an ox which he is sacrificing to
     a divinity. Most museums possess specimens of the stone
     heads of these maces, but until lately their use was not
     known. I had several placed in the Boulak Museum. It already
     possessed a model of one entirely of wood.

     ***  Cf. the description of these pools given by Geoffroy-
     Saint-Hilaire in speaking of the fahaka. Even at the present
     day the jackals come down from the mountains in the night,
     and regale themselves with the fish left on the ground by
     the gradual drying up of these ponds.

[Illustration: 077.jpg FISHING IN THE MARSHES]

Other pools, however, remained till the returning inundation, as so many
_vivaria_ in which the fish were preserved for dwellers on the banks.
Fishing with the harpoon, made either of stone or of metal, with the
line, with a net or with traps, were all methods of fishing known and
used by the Egyptians from early times. Where the ponds failed, the
neighbouring Nile furnished them with inexhaustible supplies. Standing
in light canoes, or rather supported by a plank on bundles of reeds
bound together, they ventured into mid-stream, in spite of the danger
arising from the ever-present hippopotamus; or they penetrated up
the canals amid a thicket of aquatic plants, to bring down with the
boomerang the birds which found covert there.


     1 Tomb of Ti. Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Dûmichen,
     Besultate, vol. ii. pl. x.

The fowl and fish which could not be eaten fresh, were dried, salted,
or smoked, and kept for a rainy day. Like the river, the desert had its
perils and its resources. Only too frequently, the lion, the leopard,
the panther, and other large felidse were met with there.


     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painting by Beni-Hasan,
     Lepsius, Denhm., ii. 136.

     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief of Ptahhotpû.
     The dogs on the upper level are of hyenoid type, those on
     the lower are Abyssinian greyhounds.

The nobles, like the Pharaohs of later times, deemed it as their
privilege or duty to stalk and destroy these animals, pursuing them even
to their dens. The common people preferred attacking the gazelle, the
oryx, the mouflon sheep, the ibex, the wild ox, and the ostrich, but did
not disdain more humble game, such as the porcupine and long-eared hare:
nondescript packs, in which the jackal and the hyena ran side by side
with the wolf-dog and the lithe Abyssinian greyhound, scented and
retrieved for their master the prey which he had pierced with his
arrows. At times a hunter, returning with the dead body of the mother,
would be followed by one of her young; or a gazelle, but slightly
wounded, would be taken to the village and healed of its hurt.

[Illustration: 080.jpg CATCHING ANIMALS WITH THE BOLA. 1]

     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief of Ptahhotpû.
     Above are seen two porcupines, the foremost of which,
     emerging from his hole, has seized a grasshopper.

Such animals by daily contact with man, were gradually tamed, and
formed about his dwelling a motley flock, kept partly for his pleasure
and mostly for his profit, and becoming in case of necessity a ready
stock of provisions.[**]

     **  In the same way, before the advent of Europeans, the
     half-civilized tribes of North America used to keep about
     their huts whole flocks of different animals, which were
     tame, but not domesticated.

Efforts were therefore made to enlarge this flock, and the wish to
procure animals without seriously injuring them, caused the Egyptians
to use the net for birds and the lasso and the _bola_ for
quadrupeds,[*]--weapons less brutal than the arrow and the javelin. The
_bola_ was made by them of a single rounded stone, attached to a strap
about five yards in length. The stone once thrown, the cord twisted
round the legs, muzzle, or neck of the animal pursued, and by the
attachment thus made the pursuer, using all his strength, was enabled to
bring the beast down half strangled. The lasso has no stone attached
to it, but a noose prepared beforehand, and the skill of the hunter
consists in throwing it round the neck of his victim while running.
They caught indifferently, without distinction of size or kind, all
that chance brought within their reach. The daily chase kept up these
half-tamed flocks of gazelles, wild goats, water-bucks, stocks, and
ostriches, and their numbers are reckoned by hundreds on the monuments
of the ancient empire.[**]

     *  Hunting with the bola is constantly represented in the
     paintings both of the Memphite and Theban periods. Wilkinson
     has confounded it with lasso-hunting, and his mistake has
     been reproduced by other Egyptologists. Lasso-hunting is
     seen in Lepsius, Denhn., ii. 96, in Dùmichen, _resultate_,
     vol. i. pl. viii., and particularly in the numerous
     sacrificial scenes where the king is supposed to be
     capturing the bull of the north or south, previous to
     offering it to the god.

     **  As the tombs of the ancient empire show us numerous
     flocks of gazelles, antelopes, and storks, feeding under the
     care of shepherds, Fr. Lenormant concluded that the
     Egyptians of early times had succeeded in domesticating some
     species, nowadays rebels to restraint. It is my belief that
     the animals represented were tamed, but not domesticated,
     and were the result of great hunting expeditions in the
     desert. The facts which Lenormant brought forward to support
     his theory may be used against him. For instance, the fawn
     of the gazelle nourished by its mother does not prove that
     it was bred in captivity; the gazelle may have been caught
     before calving, or just after the birth of its young. The
     fashion of keeping flocks of animals taken from the desert
     died out between the XIIth and XVIIIth dynasties.    At the
     time of the new empire, they had only one or two solitary
     animals as pets for women or children, the mummies of which
     were sometimes buried by the side of their mistresses.

Experience alone taught the hunter to distinguish between those species
from which he could draw profit, and others whose wildness made them
impossible to domesticate. The subjection of the most useful kinds had
not been finished when the historic period opened.

[Illustration: 082.jpg A SWINEHERD AND HIS PIGS. 2]

     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painting in a Theban tomb
     of the XVIIIth dynasty.

The ass, the sheep, and the goat were already domesticated, but the pig
was still out in the marshes in a semi-wild state, under the care of
special herdsmen,[*] and the religious rites preserved the remembrance
of the times in which the ox was so little tamed, that in order to
capture while grazing the animals needed for sacrifice or for slaughter,
it was necessary to use the lasso.[***]

     *  The hatred of the Egyptians for the pig (Herodotus, ii.
     47) is attributed to mythological motives. Lippert thinks
     this antipathy did not exist in Egypt in primitive times. At
     the outset the pig would have been the principal food of the
     people; then, like the dog in other regions, it must have
     been replaced at the table by animals of a higher order--
     gazelles, sheep, goats, oxen--and would have thus fallen
     into contempt. To the excellent reasons given by Lippert
     could be added others drawn from the study of the Egyptian
     myths, to prove that the pig has often been highly esteemed.
     Thus, Isis is represented, down to late times, under the
     form of a sow, and a sow, whether followed or not by her
     young is one of the amulets placed in the tomb with the
     deceased, to secure for him the protection of the goddess.

     ***  Mariette, Abydos (vol. i. pl. 48 b, 53).    To prevent
     the animal from evading the lasso and escaping during the
     sacrifice, its right hind foot was fastened to its left

Europeans are astonished to meet nowadays whole peoples who make use
of herbs and plants whose flavour and properties are nauseating to
us: these are mostly so many legacies from a remote past; for example,
castor-oil, with which the Berbers rub their limbs, and with which the
fellahîn of the Saïd flavour their bread and vegetables, was preferred
before all others by the Egyptians of the Pharaonic age for
anointing the body and for culinary use.[*] They had begun by eating
indiscriminately every kind of fruit which the country produced. Many
of these, when their therapeutic virtues had been learned by experience,
were gradually banished as articles of food, and their use restricted to
medicine; others fell into disuse, and only reappeared at sacrifices, or
at funeral feasts; several varieties continue to be eaten to the
present time--the acid fruits of the nabeca and of the carob tree,
the astringent figs of the sycamore, the insipid pulp of the dam-palm,
besides those which are pleasant to our Western palates, such as the
common fig and the date. The vine flourished, at least in Middle and
Lower Egypt; from time immemorial the art of making wine from it was
known, and even the most ancient monuments enumerate half a dozen famous
brands, red or white.[**]

     *  I have often been obliged, from politeness, when dining
     with the native agents appointed by the European powers at
     Port Saïd, to eat salads and mayonnaise sauces flavoured
     with castor-oil; the taste was not so disagreeable as might
     be at first imagined.

     **  The four kinds of canonical wine, brought respectively
     from the north, south, east, and west of the country, formed
     part of the official repast and of the wine-cellar of the
     deceased from remote antiquity.

Vetches, lupins, beans, chick-peas, lentils, onions, fenugreek,[*] the
bamiâ,[**] the meloukhia,[***] the arum colocasia, all grew wild in the
fields, and the river itself supplied its quota of nourishing plants.

     *  All these species have been found in the tombs and
     identified by savants in archaeological botany--Kunth,
     Unger, Schweinfurth (Loret, _La Flore Pharaonique_, pp. 17,
     40, 42, 43, Nos. 33, 97, 102, 104, 105, 106).

     **  The bamiâ, _Hibiscus esculentus_, L., is a plant of the
     family of the Malvaceae, having a fruit of five divisions,
     covered with prickly hairs, and pontaining round, white,
     soft seeds, slightly sweet, but astringent in taste, and
     very mucilaginous.    It figures on the monuments of
     Pharaonic times.

     ***  The meloukhia, _Corchorus Olitorius_, L., is a plant
     belonging to the Tilliacese, which is chopped up and cooked
     much the same as endive is with us, but which few Europeans
     can eat with pleasure, owing to the mucilage it contains.
     Theophrastus says it was celebrated for its bitterness; it
     was used as food, however, in the Greek town of Alexandria.

[Illustration: 084.jpg THE EGYPTIAN LOTUS. 4]

     4  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from the _Description de
     l'Egypte_, Histoire Naturelle, pl. 61.

Two of the species of lotus which grew in the Nile, the white and the
blue, have seed-vessels similar to those of the poppy: the capsules
contain small grains of the size of millet-seed. The fruit of the pink
lotus "grows on a different stalk from that of the flower, and springs
directly from the root; it resembles a honeycomb in form," or, to take
a more prosaic simile, the rose of a watering-pot. The upper part has
twenty or thirty cavities, "each containing a seed as big as an olive
stone, and pleasant to eat either fresh or dried." This is what the
ancients called the bean of Egypt. "The yearly shoots of the papyrus are
also gathered. After pulling them up in the marshes, the points are cut
off and rejected, the part remaining being about a cubit in length. It
is eaten as a delicacy and is sold in the markets, but those who are
fastidious partake of it only after baking." Twenty different kinds of
grain and fruits, prepared by crushing between two stones, are kneaded
and baked to furnish cakes or bread; these are often mentioned in the
texts as cakes of nabeca, date cakes, and cakes of figs. Lily loaves,
made from the roots and seeds of the lotus, were the delight of the
gourmand, and appear on the tables of the kings of the XIXth dynasty.[*]

     * _Tiû_, which is the most ancient word for bread, appears
     in early times to have been used for every kind of paste,
     whether made with fruits or grain; the more modern word âqû
     applies specially to bread made from cereals. The lily
     loaves are mentioned in the Papyrus Anastasi, No. 4, p. 14.
     1. 1.

Bread and cakes made of cereals formed the habitual food of the people.
Durrah is of African origin; it is the "grain of the South" of the
inscriptions. On the other hand, it is supposed that wheat and six-rowed
barley came from the region of the Euphrates. Egypt was among the first
to procure and cultivate them.[*] The soil there is so kind to man, that
in many places no agricultural toil is required.

     *  The position which wheat and barley occupy in the lists
     of offerings, proves the antiquity of their existence in
     Egypt. Mariette found specimens of barley in the tombs of
     the Ancient Empire at Saqqarah.

[Illustration: 086.jpg THE EGYPTIAN HOE.2]

     2  Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti; drawn by Faucher-Gudin,
     from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.

As soon as the water of the Nile retires, the ground is sown without
previous preparation, and the grain, falling straight into the mud,
grows as vigorously as in the best-ploughed furrows. Where the earth is
hard it is necessary to break it up, but the extreme simplicity of the
instruments with which this was done shows what a feeble resistance it
offered. For a long time the hoe sufficed. It was composed either of a
large stone tied to a wooden handle, or was made of two pieces of wood
of unequal length, united at one of their extremities, and held together
towards the middle by a slack cord: the plough, when first invented was
but a slightly enlarged hoe, drawn by oxen. The cultivation of cereals,
once established on the banks of the Nile, developed, from earliest
times, to such a degree as to supplant all else: hunting, fishing,
the rearing of cattle, occupied but a secondary place compared with
agriculture, and Egypt became, that which she still remains, a vast
granary of wheat. The part of the valley first cultivated was from Gebel
Silsileh to the apex of the Delta.[*]

     *  This was the tradition of all the ancients. Herodotus
     related that, according to the Egyptians, the whole of
     Egypt, with the exception of the Theban nome, was a vast
     swamp previous to the time of Menés. Aristotle adds that the
     Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the area now occupied by the
     Delta, formed one sea. Cf. pp. 3-5 of this volume, on the
     formation of the Delta.

[Illustration: 087.jpg PLOUGHING. 2]

     2  Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti; drawn by Faucher-Gudin,
     from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.

Between the Libyan and Arabian ranges it presents a slightly convex
surface, furrowed lengthways by a depression, in the bottom of which
the Nile is gathered and enclosed when the inundation is over. In the
summer, as soon as the river had risen higher than the top of its
banks, the water rushed by the force of gravity towards the lower lands,
hollowing in its course long channels, some of which never completely
dried up, even when the Nile reached its lowest level.[*] Cultivation
was easy in the neighbourhood of these natural reservoirs, but
everywhere else the movements of the river were rather injurious than
advantageous to man. The inundation scarcely ever covered the higher
ground in the valley, which therefore remained unproductive; it flowed
rapidly over the lands of medium elevation, and moved so sluggishly in
the hollows that they became weedy and stagnant pools.[**]

     * The whole description of the damage which can be done by
     the Nile in places where the inundation is not regulated, is
     borrowed from Linant de Bellefonds, _Mémoire sur les
     principaux travaux d'utilité publique_, p. 3.

     ** This physical configuration of the country explains the
     existence at a very early date of those gigantic serpents
     which I have already mentioned.


In any year the portion not watered by the river was invaded by the
sand: from the lush vegetation of a hot country, there was but one
step to absolute aridity. At the present day an ingeniously established
system of irrigation allows the agriculturist to direct and distribute
the overflow according to his needs. From Gebel Ain to the sea, the Nile
and its principal branches are bordered by long dykes, which closely
follow the windings of the river and furnish sufficiently stable
embankments. Numerous canals lead off to right and left, directed more
or less obliquely towards the confines of the valley; they are divided
at intervals by fresh dykes, starting at the one side from the river,
and ending on the other either at the Bahr Yusuf or at the rising of
the desert. Some of these dykes protect one district only, and consist
merely of a bank of earth; others command a large extent of territory,
and a breach in them would entail the ruin of an entire province. These
latter are sometimes like real ramparts, made of crude brick carefully
cemented; a few, as at Qosheish, have a core of hewn stones, which later
generations have covered with masses of brickwork, and strengthened with
constantly renewed buttresses of earth. They wind across the plain with
many unexpected and apparently aimless turns; on closer examination,
however, it may be seen that this irregularity is not to be attributed
to ignorance or caprice. Experience had taught the Egyptians the art
of picking out, upon the almost imperceptible relief of the soil, the
easiest lines to use against the inundation: of these they have followed
carefully the sinuosities, and if the course of the dykes appears
singular, it is to be ascribed to the natural configuration of the
ground. Subsidiary embankments thrown up between the principal ones,
and parallel to the Nile, separate the higher ground bordering the river
from the low lands on the confines of the valley; they divide the larger
basins into smaller divisions of varying area, in which the irrigation
is regulated by means of special trenches. As long as the Nile
is falling, the dwellers on its banks leave their canals in free
communication with it; but they dam them up towards the end of the
winter, just before the return of the inundation, and do not reopen them
till early in August, when the new flood is at its height. The waters
then flowing in by the trenches are arrested by the nearest transverse
dyke and spread over the fields. When they have stood there long enough
to saturate the ground, the dyke is pierced, and they pour into the next
basin until they are stopped by a second dyke, which in its turn forces
them again to spread out on either side. This operation is renewed from
dyke to dyke, till the valley soon becomes a series of artificial ponds,
ranged one above another, and flowing one into another from Grebel
Silsileh to the apex of the Delta. In autumn, the mouth of each ditch is
dammed up anew, in order to prevent the mass of water from flowing back
into the stream. The transverse dykes, which have been cut in various
places, are also repaired, and the basins become completely landlocked,
separated by narrow causeways. In some places, the water thus imprisoned
is so shallow that it is soon absorbed by the soil; in others, it is so
deep, that after it has been kept in for several weeks, it is necessary
to let it run off into a neighbouring depression, or straight into the
river itself.


     1 Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti;   drawn by Faucher-Gudin,
     from  a photograph by E. Brugsch-Bey.

History has left us no account of the vicissitudes of the struggle in
which the Egyptians were engaged with the Nile, nor of the time expended
in bringing it to a successful issue. Legend attributes the idea of the
system and its partial working out to the god Osiris: then Menés, the
first mortal king, is said to have made the dyke of Qosheish, on which
depends the prosperity of the Delta and Middle Egypt, and the fabulous
Mceris is supposed to have extended the blessings of the irrigation to
the Fayûm. In reality, the regulation of the inundation and the making
of cultivable land are the work of unrecorded generations who peopled
the valley. The kings of the historic period had only to maintain and
develop certain points of what had already been done, and Upper Egypt
is to this day chequered by the network of waterways with which its
earliest inhabitants covered it. The work must have begun simultaneously
at several points, without previous agreement, and, as it were,
instinctively. A dyke protecting a village, a canal draining or watering
some small province, demanded the efforts of but few individuals; then
the dykes would join one another, the canals would be prolonged till
they met others, and the work undertaken by chance would be improved,
and would spread with the concurrence of an ever-increasing population.
What happened at the end of last century, shows us that the system grew
and was developed at the expense of considerable quarrels and bloodshed.
The inhabitants of each district carried out the part of the work most
conducive to their own interest, seizing the supply of water, keeping
it and discharging it at pleasure, without considering whether they
were injuring their neighbours by depriving them of their supply or
by flooding them; hence arose perpetual strife and fighting. It became
imperative that the rights of the weaker should be respected, and that
the system of distribution should be co-ordinated, for the country to
accept a beginning at least of social organization analogous to that
which it acquired later: the Nile thus determined the political as well
as the physical constitution of Egypt.

[Illustration: 092.jpg A GREAT EGYPTIAN LORD, TI, AND HIS WIFE. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Dûmichen,
     _Resultate_, vol. ii. pl. vit

The country was divided among communities, whose members were supposed
to be descended from the same seed (_paît_) and to belong to the
same family (_pâîtû_): the chiefs of them were called _ropâîtû_, the
guardians, or pastors of the family, and in later times their name
became a title applicable to the nobility in general. Families combined
and formed groups of various importance under the authority of a head
chief--_ropâîtû-hâ_. They were, in fact, hereditary lords, dispensing
justice, levying taxes in kind on their subordinates, reserving to
themselves the redistribution of land, leading their men to, battle, and
sacrificing to the gods.[*] The territories over which they exercised
authority formed small states, whose boundaries even now, in some
places, can be pointed out with certainty. The principality of the
Terebinth[**] occupied the very heart of Egypt, where the valley is
widest, and the course of the Nile most advantageously disposed
by nature--a country well suited to be the cradle of an infant
civilization. Siaût (Siût), the capital, is built almost at the foot
of the Libyan range, on a strip of land barely a mile in width, which
separates the river from the hills. A canal surrounds it on three sides,
and makes, as it were, a natural ditch about its walls; during
the inundation it is connected with the mainland only by narrow
causeways--shaded with mimosas--and looking like a raft of verdure
aground in the current.[***]

     *  These prerogatives were still exercised by the princes of
     the nomes under the Middle and New Empires; they only
     enjoyed them then by the good will of the reigning

     **  The Egyptian word for the tree which gives its name to
     this principality is _atf, iatf, iôtf_: it is only by a
     process of elimination that I have come to identify it with
     the _Pistacia Terebinthus_, L., which furnished the
     Egyptians with the scented resin _snûtir_.

     ***  Boudier's drawing, reproduced on p. 31, and taken from
     a photograph by Beato, gives most faithfully the aspect
     presented by the plain and the modern town of Siout during
     the inundation.

[Illustration: 094.jpg NOMES OF MIDDLE EGYPT]

The site is as happy as it is picturesque; not only does the town
command the two arms of the river, opening or closing the waterway at
will, but from time immemorial the most frequented of the routes into
Central Africa has terminated at its gates, bringing to it the commerce
of the Soudan. It held sway, at the outset, over both banks, from range
to range, northward as far as Deyrût, where the true Bahr Yusuf leaves
the Nile, and southward to the neighbourhood of Gebel Sheikh Haridi. The
extent and original number of the other principalities is not so easily

The most important, to the north of Siût, were those of the Hare and the
Oleander. The principality of the Hare never reached the dimensions
of that of its neighbour the Terebinth, but its chief town was Khmûnû,
whose antiquity was so remote, that a universally accepted tradition
made it the scene of the most important acts of creation.[*] That of the
Oleander, on the contrary, was even larger than that of the Terebinth,
and from Hininsû, its chief governor ruled alike over the marshes of the
Fayûm and the plains of Beni-Suef.[**] To the south, Apû on the right
bank governed a district so closely shut in between a bend of the Nile
and two spurs of the range, that its limits have never varied much since
ancient times. Its inhabitants were divided in their employment between
weaving and the culture of cereals. From early times they possessed the
privilege of furnishing clothing to a large part of Egypt, and their
looms, at the present day, still make those checked or striped
"melayahs" which the fellah women wear over their long blue tunics.[***]

     *  Khmûnû, the present Ashmûneîn, is the Hermopolis of the
     Greeks, the town of the god Thot.

     **  Hininsû is the _Heraecleopolis Magna_ of the Greeks, the
     present Henassieh, called also Ahnas-el-Medineh. The
     Egyptian word for the tree which gives its name to this
     principality, is Nârît. Loret has shown that this tree,
     _Nârît_, is the oleander.

     ***  Apû was the Panopolis or Chemmis of the Greeks, the
     town of the god Mîn or ithyphallic Khimû. Its manufactures
     of linen are mentioned by Strabo; the majority of the
     beautiful Coptic woven fabrics and embroideries which have
     been brought to Europe lately, come from the necropolis of
     the Arab period at Apû.

Beyond Apû, Thinis, the Girgeh of the Arabs, situate on both banks of
the river, rivalled Khmûnû in antiquity and Siût in wealth: its plains
still produce the richest harvests and feed the most numerous herds of
sheep and oxen in the Said.

[Illustration: 096.jpg NOMES OF UPPER EGYPT]

As we approach the cataract, information becomes scarcer. Qûbti and Aûnû
of the South, the Coptos and Hermonthis of the Greeks, shared peaceably
the plain occupied later on by Thebes and its temples, and Nekhabît and
Zobû watched over the safety of Egypt. Nekhabît soon lost its position
as a frontier town, and that portion of Nubia lying between Gebel
Silsileh and the rapids of Syene formed a kind of border province, of
which Nubît-Ombos was the principal sanctuary and Abu-Elephantine
the fortress: beyond this were the barbarians, and those inaccessible
regions whence the Nile descended upon our earth.

The organization of the Delta, it would appear, was more slowly brought
about. It must have greatly resembled that of the lowlands of Equatorial
Africa, towards the confluence of the Bahr el Abiad and the Bahr el
Ghazâl. Great tracts of mud, difficult to describe as either solid or
liquid, marshes dotted here and there with sandy islets, bristling with
papyrus reeds, water-lilies, and enormous plants through which the arms
of the Nile sluggishly pushed their ever-shifting course, low-lying
wastes intersected with streams and pools, unfit for cultivation
and scarcely available for pasturing cattle. The population of such
districts, engaged in a ceaseless struggle with nature, always preserved
relatively ruder manners, and a more rugged and savage character,
impatient of all authority. The conquest of this region began from the
outer edge only. A few principalities were established at the apex of
the Delta in localities where the soil had earliest been won from the
river. It appears that one of these divisions embraced the country
south of and between the bifurcation of the Nile: Aûnû of the North,
the Heliopolis of the Greeks, was its capital. In very early times the
principality was divided, and formed three new states, independent of
each other. Those of Aûnû and the Haunch were opposite to each other,
the first on the Arabian, the latter on the Libyan bank of the Nile. The
district of the White Wall marched with that of the Haunch on the north,
and on the south touched the territory of the Oleander. Further down the
river, between the more important branches, the governors of Sai's and
of Bubastis, of Athribis and of Busiris, shared among themselves the
primitive Delta. Two frontier provinces of unequal size, the Arabian on
the east in the Wady Tumilat, and the Libyan on the west to the south of
Lake Mareotis, defended the approaches of the country from the attacks
of Asiatic Bedâwins and of African nomads. The marshes of the interior
and the dunes of the littoral, were not conducive to the development of
any great industry or civilization. They only comprised tracts of thinly
populated country, like the principalities of the Harpoon and of the
Cow, and others whose limits varied from century to century with
the changing course of the river. The work of rendering the marshes
salubrious and of digging canals, which had been so successful in the
Nile Valley, was less efficacious in the Delta, and proceeded more
slowly. Here the embankments were not supported by a mountain chain:
they were continued at random across the marshes, cut at every turn to
admit the waters of a canal or of an arm of the river. The waters left
their usual bed at the least disturbing influence, and made a fresh
course for themselves across country. If the inundation were delayed,
the soft and badly drained soil again became a slough: should it last
but a few weeks longer than usual, the work of several generations was
for a long time undone. The Delta of one epoch rarely presented the same
aspect as that of previous periods, and Northern Egypt never became as
fully mistress of her soil as the Egypt of the south.

[Illustration: 099.jpg NOMES OF LOWER EGYPT]

These first principalities, however small they appear to us, were yet
too large to remain undivided. In those times of slow communication, the
strong attraction which a capital exercised over the provinces under its
authority did not extend over a wide radius. That part of the population
of the Terebinth, living sufficiently near to Siût to come into the town
for a few hours in the morning, returning in the evening to the villages
when business was done, would not feel any desire to withdraw from the
rule of the prince who governed there. On the other hand, those who
lived outside that restricted circle were forced to seek elsewhere some
places of assembly to attend the administration of justice, to sacrifice
in common to the national gods, and to exchange the produce of the
fields and of local manufactures. Those towns which had the good fortune
to become such rallying-points naturally played the part of rivals to
the capital, and their chiefs, with the district whose population, so
to speak, gravitated around them, tended to become independent of the
prince. When they succeeded in doing this, they often preserved for the
new state thus created, the old name, slightly modified by the addition
of an epithet. The primitive territory of Siût was in this way divided
into three distinct communities; two, which remained faithful to the old
emblem of the tree--the Upper Terebinth, with Siût itself in the centre,
and the Lower Terebinth, with Kûsit to the north; the third, in the
south and east, took as their totem the immortal serpent which dwelt in
their mountains, and called themselves the Serpent Mountain, whose
chief town was that of the Sparrow Hawk. The territory of the Oleander
produced by its dismemberment the principality of the Upper Oleander,
that of the Lower Oleander, and that of the Knife. The territory of
the Harpoon in the Delta divided itself into the Western and Eastern
Harpoon. The fission in most cases could not have been accomplished
without struggles; but it did take place, and all the principalities
having a domain of any considerable extent had to submit to it, however
they may have striven to avoid it. This parcelling out was continued as
circumstances afforded opportunity, until the whole of Egypt, except the
half desert districts about the cataract, became but an agglomeration of
petty states nearly equal in power and population.[*]

     * Examples of the subdivision of ancient nomes and the
     creation of fresh nomes are met with long after primitive
     times. We find, for example, the nome of the Western Harpoon
     divided under the Greeks and Romans into two districts--that
     of the Harpoon proper, of which the chief town was Sonti-
     nofir; and that of Ranûnr, with the Onûphis of classical
     geographers for its capital.

The Greeks called them nomes, and we have borrowed the word from them;
the natives named them in several ways, the most ancient term
being "nûît," which may be translated _domain_, and the most common
appellation in recent times being "hospû," which signifies _district_.
The number of the nomes varied considerably in the course of centuries:
the hieroglyphic monuments and classical authors fixed them sometimes at
thirty-six, sometimes at forty, sometimes at forty-four, or even fifty.
The little that we know of their history, up to the present time,
explains the reason of this variation. Ceaselessly quarrelled over by
the princely families who possessed them, the nomes were alternately
humbled and exalted by civil wars, marriages, and conquest, which caused
them continually to pass into fresh hands, either entire or divided. The
Egyptians, whom we are accustomed to consider as a people respecting
the established order of things, and conservative of ancient tradition,
showed themselves as restless and as prone to modify or destroy the work
of the past, as the most inconstant of our modern nations. The distance
of time which separates them from us, and the almost complete absence
of documents, gives them an appearance of immobility, by which we are
liable to be unconsciously deceived; when the monuments still existing
shall have been unearthed, their history will present the same
complexity of incidents, the same agitations, the same instability,
which we suspect or know to have been characteristic of most other
Oriental nations. One thing alone remained stable among them in the
midst of so many revolutions, and which prevented them from losing their
individuality and from coalescing in a common unity. This was the belief
in and the worship of one particular deity. If the little capitals
of the petty states whose origin is lost in a remote past--Edfû and
Denderah, Nekhabît and Bûto, Siûfc, Thinis, Khmûnû, Sais, Bubastis,
Athribis--had only possessed that importance which resulted from the
presence of an ambitious petty prince, or from the wealth of their
inhabitants, they would never have passed safe and sound through the
long centuries of existence which they enjoyed from the opening to the
close of Egyptian history. Fortune raised their chiefs, some even to the
rank of rulers of the world, and in turn abased them: side by side with
the earthly ruler, whose glory was but too often eclipsed, there was
enthroned in each nome a divine ruler, a deity, a god of the domain,
"nûtir nûiti," whose greatness never perished. The princely families
might be exiled or become extinct, the extent of the territory might
diminish or increase, the town might be doubled in size and population
or fall in ruins: the god lived on through all these vicissitudes, and
his presence alone preserved intact the rights of the state over which
he reigned as sovereign. If any disaster befell his worshippers, his
temple was the spot where the survivors of the catastrophe rallied
around him, their religion preventing them from mixing with the
inhabitants of neighbouring towns and from becoming lost among them.
The survivors multiplied with that extraordinary rapidity which is the
characteristic of the Egyptian fellah, and a few years of peace sufficed
to repair losses which apparently were irreparable. Local religion
was the tie which bound together those divers elements of which each
principality was composed, and as long as it remained, the nomes
remained; when it vanished, they disappeared with it.

[Illustration: 105.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

[Illustration: 106.jpg PAGE IMAGE]



_Multiplicity of the Egyptian gods: the commonalty of the gods, its
varieties, human, animal, and intermediate between man and beast; gods
of foreign origin, indigenous gods, and the contradictory forms with
which they were invested in accordance with various conceptions of their

The Star-gods--The Sun-god as the Eye of the Shy; as a bird, as a calf,
and as a man; its barks, voyages round the world, and encounters with
the serpent Apopi--The Moon-god and its enemies--The Star-gods: the
Haunch of the Ox, the Hippopotamus, the Lion, the five Horus-planets;
Sothis Sirius, and Sahû Orion.

The feudal gods and their classes: the Nile-gods, the earth-gods, the
sky-gods and the sun-god, the Horus-gods--The equality of feudal
gods and goddesses; their persons, alliances, and marriages: their
children--The triads and their various developments.

The nature of the gods: the double, the soul, the body, death of men and
gods, and their fate after death--The necessity for preserving the body,
mummification--Dead gods the gods of the dead--The living gods, their
temples and images--The gods of the people, trees, serpents, family
fetiches--The theory of prayer and sacrifice: the servants of the
temples, the property of the gods, the sacerdotal colleges.

The cosmogonies of the Delta: Sibu and Naît, Osiris and Isis, SU and
Nephthys--Heliopolis and its theological schools: Ra, his identification
with Horus, his dual nature, and the conception of Atûmû--The
Heliopolitan Enneads: formation of the Great Ennead--Thot and
the Hermopolitan Ennead: creation by articulate words and by voice
alone--Diffusion of the Enneads: their connection with the local triads,
the god One and the god Eight--The one and only gods._

[Illustration: 107.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


The incredible number of religious scenes to be found among the
representations on the ancient monuments of Egypt is at first glance
very striking. Nearly every illustration in the works of Egyptologists
brings before us the figure of some deity receiving with an impassive
countenance the prayers and offerings of a worshipper. One would think
that the country had been inhabited for the most part by gods, and
contained just sufficient men and animals to satisfy the requirements of
their worship.

[Illustration: 108.jpg THE GODDESS NAPKÎT, STAPÎT.1]

     1  The goddess Naprît, Napît; bas-relief from the first
     chamber of Osiris, on the east side of the great temple of
     Denderah. Drawn by Faucher-Gudin.

On penetrating into this mysterious world, we are confronted by an
actual rabble of gods, each one of whom has always possessed but a
limited and almost unconscious existence. They severally represented a
function, a moment in the life of man or of the universe; thus Naprît
was identified with the ripe ear, or the grain of wheat;[**]

     **  The word _naprît_ means _grain_, the grain of wheat. The
     grain-god is represented in the tomb of Seti I. as a man
     wearing two full ears of wheat or barley upon his head. He
     is mentioned in the _Hymn to the Nile_ about the same date,
     and in two or three other texts of different periods. The
     goddess _Naprît_, or _Napît_, to whom reference is here
     made, was his duplicate; her head-dress is a sheaf of corn,
     as in the illustration.

     *** This goddess, whose name expresses and whose form
     personifies the brick or stone couch, the child-bed or
     -chair, upon which women in labour bowed themselves, is
     sometimes subdivided into two or four secondary divinities.
     She is mentioned along with Shaît, _destiny_, and Raninît,
     _suckling_. Her part of fairy godmother at the cradle of the
     new-born child is indicated in the passage of the Westcar
     Papyrus giving a detailed account of the births of three
     kings of the fifth dynasty. She is represented in human
     form, and often wears upon her head two long palm-shoots,
     curling over at their ends.

Maskhonît appeared by the child's cradle at the very moment of its
birth;[*] and Raninît presided over the naming and the nurture of the
newly born.[*] Neither Raninît, the fairy godmother, nor Maskhonît
exercised over nature as a whole that sovereign authority which we are
accustomed to consider the primary attribute of deity. Every day
of every year was passed by the one in easing the pangs of women in
travail; by the other, in choosing for each baby a name of an auspicious
sound, and one which would afterwards serve to exorcise the influences
of evil fortune. No sooner were their tasks accomplished in one place
than they hastened to another, where approaching birth demanded their
presence and their care. From child-bed to child-bed they passed, and if
they fulfilled the single offices in which they were accounted adepts,
the pious asked nothing more of them. Bands of mysterious cynocephali
haunting the Eastern and the Western mountains concentrated the whole
of their activity on one passing moment of the day. They danced and
chattered in the East for half an hour, to salute the sun at his rising,
even as others in the West hailed him on his entrance into night.[**]

     *  Raninît presides over the child's suckling, but she also
     gives him his name, and hence, his fortune. She is on the
     whole the nursing goddess. Sometimes she is represented as a
     human-headed woman, or as lioness-headed, most frequently
     with the head of a serpent; she is also the urseus, clothed,
     and wearing two long plumes on her head, and a simple urous,
     as represented in the illustration on p. 169.

     **  This is the subject of a vignette in the _Book of the
     Dead_, ch. xvi., where the cynocephali are placed in echelon
     upon the slopes of the hill on the horizon, right and left
     of the radiant solar disk, to which they offer worship by

It was the duty of certain genii to open gates in Hades, or to keep the
paths daily traversed by the sun.[*] These genii were always at their
posts, never free to leave them, and possessed no other faculty than
that of punctually fulfilling their appointed offices. Their existence,
generally unperceived, was suddenly revealed at the very moment when the
specific acts of their lives were on the point of accomplishment. These
being completed, the divinities fell back into their state of inertia,
and were, so to speak, reabsorbed by their functions until the next

     *  Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. pp. 34, 35.

     ***  The Egyptians employed a still more forcible expression
     than our word "absorption" to express this idea. It was said
     of objects wherein these genii concealed themselves, and
     whence they issued in order to re-enter them immediately,
     that these forms _ate_ them, or that they _ate_ their own


     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from Champollion's copies, made
     from the tombs of Beni-Hassan. To the right is the _sha_,
     one of the animals of Sit, and an exact image of the god
     with his stiff and arrow-like tail. Next comes the _safir_,
     the griffin; and, lastly, we have the serpent-headed _saza_.

Scarcely visible even by glimpses, they were not easily depicted; their
real forms being often unknown, these were approximately conjectured
from their occupations. The character and costume of an archer, or of a
spear-man, were ascribed to such as roamed through Hades, to pierce the
dead with arrows or with javelins. Those who prowled around souls to cut
their throats and hack them to pieces were represented as women armed
with knives, carvers--_donît_--or else as lacerators--_nokit_. Some
appeared in human form; others as animals--bulls or lions, rams or
monkeys, serpents, fish, ibises, hawks; others dwelt in inanimate
things, such as trees,[*] sistrums, stakes stuck in the ground;[**] and
lastly, many betrayed a mixed origin in their combinations of human and
animal forms. These latter would be regarded by us as monsters; to the
Egyptians, they were beings, rarer perhaps than the rest, but not the
less real, and their like might be encountered in the neighbourhood of

     *  Thus, the sycamores planted on the edge of the desert
     were supposed to be inhabited by Hâthor, Nûît, Selkît, Nît,
     or some other goddess. In vignettes representing the
     deceased as stopping before one of these trees and receiving
     water and loaves of bread, the bust of the goddess generally
     appears from amid her sheltering foliage. But occasionally,
     as on the sarcophagus of Petosiris, the transformation is
     complete, and the trunk from which the branches spread is
     the actual body of the god or goddess. Finally, the whole
     body is often hidden, and only the arm of the goddess to be
     seen emerging from the midst of the tree, with an
     overflowing libation vase in her hand.

     **  The trunk of a tree, disbranched, and then set up in the
     ground, seems to me the origin of the Osirian emblem called
     _tat_ or _didu_. The symbol was afterwards so
     conventionalized as to represent four columns seen in
     perspective, one capital overtopping another; it thus became
     the image of the four pillars which uphold the world.

     ***  The belief in the real existence of fantastic animals
     was first noted by Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et
     d'Archéologie Égyptiennes_, vol. i. pp. 117, 118, 132, and
     vol.  ii.  p.   213.    Until then,  scholars only
     recognized the sphinx, and other Egyptian monsters, as
     allegorical combinations by which the priesthood claimed to
     give visible expression in one and the same being to
     physical or moral qualities belonging to several different
     beings. The later theory has now been adopted by Wiedemann,
     and by most contemporary Egyptologists.

How could men who believed themselves surrounded by sphinxes and
griffins of flesh and blood doubt that there were bull-headed and
hawk-headed divinities with human busts? The existence of such
paradoxical creatures was proved by much authentic testimony; more
than one hunter had distinctly seen them as they ran along the furthest
planes of the horizon, beyond the herds of gazelles of which he was
in chase; and shepherds dreaded them for their flocks as truly as they
dreaded the lions, or the great felidse of the desert.[*]

     * At Beni-Hassan and in Thebes many of the fantastic animals
     mentioned in the text, griffins, hierosphinxes, serpent-
     headed lions, are placed along with animals which might be
     encountered by local princes hunting in the desert.

This nation of gods, like nations of men, contained foreign elements,
the origin of which was known to the Egyptians themselves. They knew
that Hâthor, the milch cow, had taken up her abode in their land from
very ancient times, and they called her the Lady of Pûanît, after the
name of her native country. Bîsû had followed her in course of time,
and claimed his share of honours and worship along with her. He first
appeared as a leopard; then he became a man clothed in a leopard's skin,
but of strange countenance and alarming character, a big-headed dwarf
with high cheek-bones, and a wide and open mouth, whence hung an
enormous tongue; he was at once jovial and martial, the friend of the
dance and of battle.[*]

     *  The hawk-headed monster with flower-tipped tail was
     called the saga.

In historic times all nations subjugated by the Pharaohs transferred
some of their principal divinities to their conquerors, and the Libyan
Shehadidi was enthroned in the valley of the Nile, in the same way as
the Semitic Baâlû and his retinue of Astartes, Anitis, Eeshephs, and
Kadshûs. These divine colonists fared like all foreigners who
have sought to settle on the banks of the Nile: they were promptly
assimilated, wrought, moulded, and made into Egyptian deities scarcely
distinguishable from those of the old race. This mixed pantheon had
its grades of nobles, princes, kings, and each of its members was
representative of one of the elements constituting the world, or of one
of the forces which regulated its government.


     1  Bîsû, pp. 111-184. The tail-piece to the summary of this
     chapter is a figure of Bîsû, drawn by Faucher-Gudin from an
     amulet in blue enamelled pottery.

The sky, the earth, the stars, the sun, the Nile, were so many breathing
and thinking beings whose lives were daily manifest in the life of the

They were worshipped from one end of the valley to the other, and the
whole nation agreed in proclaiming their sovereign power. But when the
people began to name them, to define their powers and attributes, to
particularize their forms, or the relationships that subsisted among
them, this unanimity was at an end. Each principality, each nome, each
city, almost every village, conceived and represented them differently.
Some said that the sky was the Great Horus, Haroêris, the sparrow-hawk
of mottled plumage which hovers in highest air, and whose gaze embraces
the whole field of creation. Owing to a punning assonance between his
name and the word _horû_, which designates the human countenance, the
two senses were combined, and to the idea of the sparrow-hawk there was
added that of a divine face, whose two eyes opened in turn, the right
eye being the sun, to give light by day, and the left eye the moon, to
illumine the night. The face shone also with a light of its own, the
zodiacal light, which appeared unexpectedly, morning or evening, a
little before sunrise, and a little after sunset. These luminous beams,
radiating from a common centre, hidden in the heights of the firmament,
spread into a wide pyramidal sheet of liquid blue, whose base rested
upon the earth, but whose apex was slightly inclined towards the zenith.
The divine face was symmetrically framed, and attached to earth by four
thick locks of hair; these were the pillars which upbore the firmament
and prevented its falling into ruin. A no less ancient tradition
disregarded as fabulous all tales told of the sparrow-hawk, or of the
face, and taught that heaven and earth are wedded gods, Sibû, and Nûît,
from whose marriage came forth all that has been, all that is, and all
that shall be.

[Illustration: 115.jpg NÛÎT THE STARRY ONE. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painted coffin of the XXIth
     dynasty in Leyden.

Most people invested them with human form, and represented the earth-god
Sibû as extended beneath Nûît the Starry One; the goddess stretched out
her arms, stretched out her slender legs, stretched out her body above
the clouds, and her dishevelled head drooped westward. But there were
also many who believed that Sibû was concealed under the form of a
colossal gander, whose mate once laid the Sun Egg, and perhaps still
laid it daily. From the piercing cries wherewith he congratulated her,
and announced the good news to all who cared to hear it--after the
manner of his kind--he had received the flattering epithet of _Ngagu
oîrû_, the Great Cack-ler. Other versions repudiated the goose in favour
of a vigorous bull, the father of gods and men, whose companion was a
cow, a large-eyed Hâthor, of beautiful countenance. The head of the
good beast rises into the heavens, the mysterious waters which cover
the world flow along her spine; the star-covered underside of her body,
which we call the firmament, is visible to the inhabitants of earth, and
her four legs are the four pillars standing at the four cardinal points
of the world.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a stella in the museum of
     Gîzeh. This is not the goose of Sibû, but the goose of Amon,
     which was nurtured in the temple of Karnak, and was called
     Smonû. Pacing it is the cat of Maût, the wife of Amon. Amon,
     originally an earth-god, was, as we see, confounded with
     Sibû, and thus naturally appropriated that deity's form of a

The planets, and especially the sun, varied in form and nature according
to the prevailing conception of the heavens. The fiery disk _Atonû_, by
which the sun revealed himself to men, was a living god, called Râ, as
was also the planet itself.[*] Where the sky was regarded as Horus, Râ
formed the right eye of the divine face: when Horus opened his eyelids
in the morning, he made the dawn and day; when he closed them in the
evening, the dusk and night were at hand.

     *   The name of Râ has been variously explained. The
     commonest etymology is that deriving the name from a verb
     râ, _to give, to make to be_ a person or a thing, so that Râ
     would thus be the great organizer, the author of all things.
     Lauth goes so far as to say that "notwithstanding its
     brevity, Râ is a composite word (r-a, _maker--to be_)" As a
     matter of fact, the word is simply the name of the
     planet applied to the god.    It means the _sun_, and nothing

[Illustration: 117.jpg THE COW HÂTHOR, THE LADY OP HEAVEN.3]

     3  Drawn by Boudier, from a XXXth dynasty statue of green
     basalt in the Gîzeh Museum (Maspero, _Guide du Visiteur_, p.
     345, No. 5243). The statue was also published by Mariette,
     _Monuments divers_, pl. 96 A-B, and in the _Album
     photographique du Musée de Boulaq_, pl. x.

Where the sky was looked upon as the incarnation of a goddess, Râ was
considered as her son,[**] his father being the earth-god, and he was
born again with every new dawn, wearing a sidelock, and with his finger
to his lips as human children were conventionally represented.

     **  Several passages from the Pyramid texts prove that the
     _two eyes_ were very anciently considered as belonging to
     the face of Nûît, and this conception persisted to the last
     days of Egyptian paganism. Hence, we must not be surprised
     if the inscriptions generally represent the god Râ as coming
     forth from Nûît under the form of a disc, or a scarabaeus,
     and born of her even as human children are born.

He was also that luminous egg, laid and hatched in the East by the
celestial goose, from which the sun breaks forth to fill the world with
its rays.[**]

     **  These are the very expressions used in the seventeenth
     chapter of the _Book of the Dead_ (Naville's edition, vol.
     i. pl. xxv. lines 58-61; Lepsius, _Todtenbuch_, pl. ix. 11.
     50, 51).


     1  The twelve forms of the sun during the twelve hours of
     the day, from the ceiling of the Hall of the New Year at
     Edfu. Drawing by Faucher-Gudin.

Nevertheless, by an anomaly not uncommon in religions, the egg did not
always contain the same kind of bird; a lapwing, or a heron, might
come out of it,[*] or perhaps, in memory of Horus, one of the beautiful
golden sparrow-hawks of Southern Egypt. A Sun-Hawk, hovering in high
heaven on outspread wings, at least presented a bold and poetic image;
but what can be said for a Sun-Calf? Yet it is under the innocent
aspect of a spotted calf, a "sucking calf of pure mouth,"[**] that the
Egyptians were pleased to describe the Sun-God when Sibu, the father,
was a bull, and Hâthor a heifer.

     *  The lapwing or the heron, the Egyptian _bonû_, is
     generally the Osirian bird. The persistence with which it is
     associated with Heliopolis and the gods of that city shows
     that in this also we have a secondary form of Râ.

     **  The calf is represented in ch. cix. of the _Book of the
     Dead_ (Naville's edition, pl. cxx.), where the text says
     (lines 10, 11), "I know that this calf is Harmakhis the Sun,
     and that it is no other than the Morning Star, daily
     saluting Râ." The expression "_sucking calf of pure
     mouth_" is taken word for word from a formula preserved in
     the Pyramid texts (Ûnas, 1. 20).

But the prevalent conception was that in which the life of the sun was
likened to the life of man. The two deities presiding over the East
received the orb upon their hands at its birth, just as midwives receive
a new-born child, and cared for it during the first hour of the day and
of its life. It soon left them, and proceeded "under the belly of Nûît,"
growing and strengthening from minute to minute, until at noon it had
become a triumphant hero whose splendour is shed abroad over all. But as
night comes on his strength forsakes him and his glory is obscured; he
is bent and broken down, and heavily drags himself along like an old
man leaning upon his stick. At length he passes away beyond the horizon,
plunging westward into the mouth of Nûît, and traversing her body by
night to be born anew the next morning, again to follow the paths along
which he had travelled on the preceding day.

A first bark, the _saktit_, awaited him at his birth, and carried him
from the Eastern to the Southern extremity of the world. _Mâzît_, the
second bark, received him at noon, and bore him into the land of Manu,
which is at the entrance into Hades; other barks, with which we are less
familiar, conveyed him by night, from his setting until his rising at
morn.[*] Sometimes he was supposed to enter the barks alone, and then
they were magic and self-directed, having neither oars, nor sails, nor

     *  In the formulæ of the _Book of Knowing that which is in
     Hades_, the dead sun remains in the bark Saktit during part
     of the night, and it is only to traverse the fourth and
     fifth hours that he changes into another.

     **  Such is the bark of the sun in the other world. Although
     carrying a complete crew of gods, yet for the most part it
     progresses at its own will, and without their help. The bark
     containing the sun alone is represented in many vignettes of
     the _Book of the Dead_, and at the head of many stelæ.

Sometimes they were equipped with a full crew, like that of an Egyptian
boat--a pilot at the prow to take soundings in the channel and forecast
the wind, a pilot astern to steer, a quartermaster in the midst to
transmit the orders of the pilot at the prow to the pilot at the stern,
and half a dozen sailors to handle poles or oars. Peacefully the bark
glided along the celestial river amid the acclamations of the gods who
dwelt upon its shores. But, occasionally, Apôpi, a gigantic serpent,
like that which hides within the earthly Nile and devours its banks,
came forth from the depth of the waters and arose in the path of the
god.[*] As soon as they caught sight of it in the distance, the crew
flew to arms, and entered upon the struggle against him with prayers
and spear-thrusts. Men in their cities saw the sun faint and fail,
and sought to succour him in his distress; they cried aloud, they were
beside themselves with excitement, beating their breasts, sounding their
instruments of music, and striking with all their strength upon every
metal vase or utensil in their possession, that their clamour might rise
to heaven and terrify the monster. After a time of anguish, Râ emerged
from the darkness and again went on his way, while Apôpi sank back into
the abyss,[**] paralysed by the magic of the gods, and pierced with many
a wound.

     *  In Upper Egypt there is a widespread belief in the
     existence of a monstrous serpent, who dwells at the bottom
     of the river, and is the genius of the Nile. It is he who
     brings about those falls of earth (_batabît_) at the decline
     of the inundation which often destroy the banks and eat
     whole fields. At such times, offerings of durrah, fowls, and
     dates are made to him, that his hunger may be appeased, and
     it is not only the natives who give themselves up to these
     superstitious practices. Part of the grounds belonging to
     the Karnak hotel at Luxor having been carried away during
     the autumn of 1884, the manager, a Greek, made the customary
     offerings to the serpent of the Nile.

     **  The character of Apôpi and of his struggle with the sun
     was, from the first, excellently defined by Champollion as
     representing the conflict of darkness with light.
     Occasionally, but very rarely, Apôpi seems to win, and his
     triumph over Râ furnishes one explanation of a solar
     eclipse. A similar explanation is common to many races. In
     one very ancient form of the Egyptian legend, the sun is
     represented by a wild ass running round the world along the
     sides of the mountains that uphold the sky, and the serpent
     which attacks it is called _Haiû_.

Apart from these temporary eclipses, which no one could foretell, the
Sun-King steadily followed his course round the world, according to laws
which even his will could not change. Day after day he made his oblique
ascent from east to south, thence to descend obliquely towards the west.
During the summer months the obliquity of his course diminished, and
he came closer to Egypt; during the winter it increased, and he went
farther away. This double movement recurred with such regularity from
equinox to solstice, and from solstice to equinox, that the day of
the god's departure and the day of his return could be confidently
predicted. The Egyptians explained this phenomenon according to their
conceptions of the nature of the world. The solar bark always kept close
to that bank of the celestial river which was nearest to men; and when
the river overflowed at the annual inundation, the sun was carried along
with it outside the regular bed of the stream, and brought yet closer
to Egypt. As the inundation abated, the bark descended and receded, its
greatest distance from earth corresponding with the lowest level of the
waters. It was again brought back to us by the rising strength of the
next flood; and, as this phenomenon was yearly repeated, the periodicity
of the sun's oblique movements was regarded as the necessary consequence
of the periodic movements of the celestial Nile.

The same stream also carried a whole crowd of gods, whose existence was
revealed at night only to the inhabitants of earth. At an interval of
twelve hours, and in its own bark, the pale disk of the moon--_Yâûhû
Aûhû_--followed the disk of the sun along the ramparts of the world.
The moon, also, appeared in many various forms--here, as a man born of
Nûît;[*] there, as a cynocephalus or an ibis;[**] elsewhere, it was the
left eye of Horus,[***] guarded by the ibis or cynocephalus. Like Râ,
it had its enemies incessantly upon the watch for it: the crocodile, the
hippopotamus, and the sow. But it was when at the full, about the 15th
of each month, that the lunar eye was in greatest peril.

     *  He may be seen as a child, or man, bearing the lunar disk
     upon his head, and pressing the lunar eye to his breast.
     Passages from the Pyramid text of Unas indicate the
     relationship subsisting between Thot, Sibû, and Nûît, making
     Thot the brother of Isis, Sit, and Nephthys. In later times
     he was considered a son of Râ.

     **  Even as late as the Græco-Roman period, the temple of
     Thot at Khmûnû contained a sacred ibis, which was the
     incarnation of the god, and said to be immortal by the local
     priesthood. The temple sacristans showed it to Apion the
     grammarian, who reports the fact, but is very sceptical in
     the matter.

     ***  The texts quoted by Chabas and Lepsius to show that the
     sun is the right eye of Horus also prove that his left eye
     is the moon.


     4  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the ceiling of the
     Ramesseum. On the right, the _female hippopotamus_ bearing
     the _crocodile_, and leaning on the _Monâît_; in the middle,
     the _Haunch_, here represented by the whole bull; to the
     left, _Selkit_ and the _Sparrow-hawk_, with the _Lion_, and
     the _Giant fighting the Crocodile_.

The sow fell upon it, tore it out of the face of heaven, and cast it,
streaming with blood and tears, into the celestial Nile, where it was
gradually extinguished, and lost for days; but its twin, the sun, or
its guardian, the cyno-cephalus, immediately set forth to find it and
to restore it to Horus. No sooner was it replaced, than it slowly
recovered, and renewed its radiance; when it was well--_ûzaît_--the sow
again attacked and mutilated it, and the gods rescued and again revived


Each month there was a fortnight of youth and of growing splendour,
followed by a fortnight's agony and ever-increasing pallor. It was born
to die, and died to be born again twelve times in the year, and each
of these cycles measured a month for the inhabitants of the world.
One invariable accident from time to time disturbed the routine of
its existence. Profiting by some distraction of the guardians, the sow
greedily swallowed it, and then its light went out suddenly, instead of
fading gradually. These eclipses, which alarmed mankind at least as much
as did those of the sun, were scarcely more than momentary, the gods
compelling the monster to cast up the eye before it had been destroyed.


     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the rectangular zodiac
     carved upon the ceiling of the great temple of Denderah
     (Dùmichen, _Resultate_, vol. ii. pl. xxxix.).

Every evening the lunar bark issued out of Hades by the door which Râ
had passed through in the morning, and as it rose on the horizon, the
star-lamps scattered over the firmament appeared one by one, giving
light here and there like the camp-fires of a distant army. However
many of them there might be, there were as many Indestructibles--_Akhîmû
Sokû_--or Unchanging Ones--_Akhîmû Ûrdû_--whose charge it was to attend
upon them and watch over their maintenance.[**]

     **  The _Akhîmû Sokû_ and the _Akhîmû Ûrdû_ have been very
     variously defined by different Egyptologists who have
     studied them. Chabas considered them to be gods or genii of
     the constellations of the ecliptic, which mark the apparent
     course of the sun through the sky. Following the indications
     given by Dévéria, he also thought them to be the sailors of
     the solar bark, and perhaps the gods of the twelve hours,
     divided into two classes: the _Akhîmû Sokû_ being those who
     are rowing, and the _Akhîmû Ûrdû_ those who are resting. But
     texts found and cited by Brugsch show that the _Akhîmû Sokû_
     are the planets accompanying Râ in the northern sky, while
     the _Akhîmû Ûrdû_ are his escort in the south. The
     nomenclature of the stars included in these two classes is
     furnished by monuments of widely different epochs. The two
     names should be translated according to the meaning of their
     component words: _Akhîmû Sokû_, those who know not
     destruction, the Indestructibles; and _Akhîmû Ûrdû_ (
     _Urzii_), those who know not the immobility of death, the

They were not scattered at random by the hand which had suspended them,
but their distribution had been ordered in accordance with a certain
plan, and they were arranged in fixed groups like so many star
republics, each being independent of its neighbours. They represented
the outlines of bodies of men and animals dimly traced out upon
the depths of night, but shining with greater brilliancy in certain
important places. The seven stars which we liken to a chariot (Charles's
Wain) suggested to the Egyptians the haunch of an ox placed on the
northern edge of the horizon.[*]

     * The forms of the constellations, and the number of stars
     composing them in the astronomy of different periods, are
     known from the astronomical scenes of tombs and temples. The
     identity of the _Haunch_ with the _Chariot_, or _Great Bear_
     of modern astronomy, was discovered by Lepsius and confirmed
     by Biot. Mariette pointed out that the Pyramid Arabs applied
     the name of the _Haunch (er-Rigl)_ to the same group of
     stars as that thus designated by the ancient Egyptians.
     Champollion had noted the position of the _Haunch_ in the
     northern sky, but had not suggested any identification. The
     _Haunch_ appertained to Sît-Typhon.

Two lesser stars connected the haunch--_Maskhaît_--with
thirteen others, which recalled the silhouette of a female
hippopotamus--_Rirît_--erect upon her hind legs,[*] and jauntily
carrying upon her shoulders a monstrous crocodile whose jaws opened
threateningly above her head. Eighteen luminaries of varying size and
splendour, forming a group hard by the hippopotamus, indicated the
outline of a gigantic lion couchant, with stiffened tail, its head
turned to the right, and facing the Haunch.[***]

     *  The connection of _Birît_, the female hippopotamus, with
     the Haunch is made quite clear in scenes from Philae and
     Edfû, representing Isis holding back Typhon by a chain, that
     he might do no hurt to Sâhii-Osiris. Jollois and Devilliers
     thought that the hippopotamus was the _Great Bear_. Biot
     contested their conclusions, and while holding that the
     hippopotamus might at least in part present our
     constellation of the Dragon, thought that it was probably
     included in the scene only as an ornament, or as an emblem.
     The present tendency is to identify the hippopotamus with
     the Dragon and with certain stars not included in the
     constellations surrounding it.

     ***  The Lion, with its eighteen stars, is represented on
     the tomb of Seti I.; on the ceiling of the Ramesseum; and on
     the sarcophagus of Htari.


     2  From the astronomic ceiling in the tomb of Seti I.
     (Lefébure, 4th part, pl. xxxvi.).

The Lion is sometimes shown as having a crocodile's tail. According
to Biot the Egyptian Lion has nothing in common with the Greek
constellation of that name, nor yet with our own, but was composed of
smaller stars, belonging to the Greek constellation of the Cup or to
the continuation of the Hydra, so that its head, its body, and its
tail would follow the [ ] of the Hydra, between the [ ] and [ ] of that
constellation, or the [ ] of the Virgin.

Most of the constellations never left the sky: night after night they
were to be found almost in the same places, and always shining with the
same even light.

[Illustration: 128.jpg SAHU-ORION. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a small bronze in the Gîzeh
     Museum, published by Mariette, in the _Album photographique
     du Musée de Boulaq_, pl. 9. The legs are a modern

Others borne by a slow movement passed annually beyond the limits of
sight for months at a time. Five at least of our planets were known
from all antiquity, and their characteristic colours and appearances
carefully noted. Sometimes each was thought to be a hawk-headed Horus.
Ùapshetatûi, our Jupiter, Kahiri-(Saturn), Sobkû-(Mercury), steered
their barks straight ahead like Iâûhû and Râ; but Mars-Doshiri, the
red, sailed backwards. As a star Bonu, the bird (Yenus) had a dual
personality; in the evening it was Uati, the lonely star which is
the first to rise, often before nightfall; in the morning it became
Tiûnûtiri, the god who hails the sun before his rising and proclaims the
dawn of day.

Sahû and Sopdît, Orion and Sirius, were the rulers of this mysterious
world. Sahû consisted of fifteen stars, seven large and eight small,
so arranged as to represent a runner darting through space, while the
fairest of them shone above his head, and marked him out from afar to
the admiration of mortals.


     1 Scene from the rectangular zodiac of Denderah, drawn by
     Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph taken with magnesium light
     by Dûmichen.

With his right hand he flourished the _crux ansata_, and turning his
head towards Sothis as he beckoned her on with his left, seemed as
though inviting her to follow him. The goddess, standing sceptre in
hand, and crowned with a diadem of tall feathers surmounted by her most
radiant star, answered the call of Sahû with a gesture, and quietly
embarked in pursuit as though in no anxiety to overtake him. Sometimes
she is represented as a cow lying down in her bark, with tree stars
along her back, and Sirius flaming from between her horns.[*]

     * The identity of the cow with Sothis was discovered by
     Jollois and Devilliers. It is under this animal form that
     Sothis is represented in most of the Græco-Roman temples,
     at Denderah, Edfû, Esneh, Dêr el-Medîneh.

Not content to shine by night only, her bluish rays, suddenly darted
forth in full daylight and without any warning, often described upon the
sky the mystic lines of the triangle which stood for her name. It was
then that she produced those curious phenomena of the zodiacal light
which other legends attributed to Horus himself. One, and perhaps
the most ancient of the innumerable accounts of this god and goddess,
represented Sahû as a wild hunter. A world as vast as ours rested upon
the other side of the iron firmament; like ours, it was distributed into
seas, and continents divided by rivers and canals, but peopled by races
unknown to men. Sahû traversed it during the day, surrounded by genii
who presided over the lamps forming his constellation. At his appearing
"the stars prepared themselves for battle, the heavenly archers rushed
forward, the bones of the gods upon the horizon trembled at the sight
of him," for it was no common game that he hunted, but the very gods
themselves. One attendant secured the prey with a lasso, as bulls are
caught in the pastures, while another examined each capture to decide if
it were pure and good for food. This being determined, others bound the
divine victim, cut its throat, disembowelled it, cut up its carcass,
cast the joints into a pot, and superintended their cooking. Sahû did
not devour indifferently all that the fortune of the chase might bring
him, but classified his game in accordance with his wants. He ate the
great gods at his breakfast in the morning, the lesser gods at his
dinner towards noon, and the small ones at his supper; the old were
rendered more tender by roasting.


     1 Scene on the north wall of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak;
     drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger, taken in
     1882. The king, Seti I., is presenting bouquets of leaves to
     Amon-Mînû. Behind the god stands Isis (of Coptos), sceptre
     and _crux ansata_ in hand.

As each god was assimilated by him, its most precious virtues were
transfused into himself; by the wisdom of the old was his wisdom
strengthened, the youth of the young repaired the daily waste of his
own youth, and all their fires, as they penetrated his being, served to
maintain the perpetual splendour of his light.

The nome gods who presided over the destinies of Egyptian cities, and
formed a true feudal system of divinities, belonged to one or other of
these natural categories. In vain do they present themselves under
the most shifting aspects and the most deceptive attributes; in vain
disguise themselves with the utmost care; a closer examination generally
discloses the principal features of their original physiognomies. Osiris
of the Delta, Khuûmû of the Cataract, Harshâfitû of Heracleopolis, were
each of them, incarnations of the fertilizing and life-sustaining Nile.
Wherever there is some important change in the river, there they are
more especially installed and worshipped: Khnûmû at the place of its
entering into Egypt, and again at the town of Hâûrît, near the point
where a great arm branches off from the Eastern stream to flow towards
the Libyan hills and form the Bahr-Yûsuf: Harshâfitû at the gorges of
the Fayûm, where the Bahr-Yûsuf leaves the valley; and, finally, Osiris
at Mendes and at Busiris, towards the mouth of the middle branch, which
was held to be the true Nile by the people of the land. Isis of Bûto
denoted the black vegetable mould of the valley, the distinctive soil of
Egypt annually covered and fertilized by the inundation.[*]

     * In the case of Isis, as in that of Osiris, we must mark
     the original character; and note her characteristics as
     goddess of the Delta before she had become a multiple and
     contradictory personality through being confounded with
     other divinities.

But the earth in general, as distinguished from the sky--the earth with
its continents, its seas, its alternation of barren deserts and fertile
lands--was represented as a man: Phtah at Memphis, Amon at Thebes, Mînû
at Coptos and at Panopolis. Amon seems rather to have symbolized the
productive soil, while Mînû reigned over the desert. But these were fine
distinctions, not invariably insisted upon, and his worshippers often
invested Amon with the most significant attributes of Mînû.

[Illustration: 133.jpg ANHÛRI. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze of the Saïte period,
     in my own possession.

The Sky-gods, like the Earth-gods, were separated into two groups, the
one consisting of women: Hâthor of Denderah, or Nît of Sais; the other
composed of men identical with Horus, or derived from him: Anhûri-Shû of
Sebennytos and Thinis; Harmerati, Horus of the two eyes, at Pharbaethos;
Har-Sapdi, Horus the source of the zodiacal light, in the Wâdy Tumilât;
and finally Harhûdîti at Edfû. Râ, the solar disk, was enthroned at
Heliopolis, and sun-gods were numerous among the nome deities, but they
were sun-gods closely connected with gods representing the sky, and
resembled Horus quite as much as Râ. Whether under the name of Horus
or of Anhûri, the sky was early identified with its most brilliant
luminary, its solar eye, and its divinity was as it were fused into that
of the Sun. Horus the Sun, and Râ, the Sun-Cod of Heliopolis, had so
permeated each other that none could say where the one began and the
other ended. One by one all the functions of Râ had been usurped by
Horus, and all the designations of Horus had been appropriated by Râ.
The sun was styled Harmakhûîti, the Horus of the two mountains--that is,
the Horus who comes forth from the mountain of the east in the morning,
and retires at evening into the mountain of the west;[*] or Hartimâ,
Horus the Pikeman, that Horus whose lance spears the hippopotamus or the
serpent of the celestial river; or Harnûbi, the Golden Horus, the great
golden sparrow-hawk with mottled plumage, who puts all other birds
to flight; and these titles were indifferently applied to each of the
feudal gods who represented the sun.

     *  From the time of Champollion, Harmakhûîti has been
     identified with the Harmachis of the Greeks, the great

[Illustration: 134.jpg THE HAWK-HEADED HOKUS.2]

     2  A bronze of the Saïte period, from the Posno collection,
     and now in the Louvre; drawn by Faucher-Gudin. The god is
     represented as upholding a libation vase with both hands,
     and pouring the life-giving water upon the king, standing,
     or prostrate, before him.    In performing this ceremony, he
     was always assisted by another god, generally by Sit,
     sometimes by Thot or Anubis.

The latter were numerous. Sometimes, as in the case of Harkhobi, Horus
of Khobiû,[*] a geographical qualification was appended to the generic
term of Horus, while specific names, almost invariably derived from
the parts which they were supposed to play, were borne by others. The
sky-god worshipped at Thinis in Upper Egypt, at Zarît and at Sebennytos
in Lower Egypt, was called Anhuri. When he assumed the attributes of
Râ, and took upon himself the solar nature, his name was interpreted as
denoting the conqueror of the sky. He was essentially combative. Crowned
with a group of upright plumes, his spear raised and ever ready to
strike the foe, he advanced along the firmament and triumphantly
traversed it day by day.[**] The sun-god who at Medamôfc Taûd and Erment
had preceded Amon as ruler of the Theban plain, was also a warrior,
and his name of Montû had reference to his method of fighting. He was
depicted as brandishing a curved sword and cutting off the heads of his

     *  _Harkhobi, Harâmkhobiû_ is the Horus of the marshes
     (_khobiû_) of the Delta, the lesser Horus the son of Isis,
     who was also made into the son of Osiris.

     **  The right reading of the name was given as far back as
     Lepsius. The part played by the god, and the nature of the
     link connecting him with Shû, have been explained by
     Maspero. The Greeks transcribed his name Onouris, and
     identified him with Ares.

     ***  Montû preceded Amon as god of the land between Kûs and
     Gebelên, and he recovered his old position in the Græco-
     Roman period after the destruction of Thebes. Most
     Egyptologists, and finally Brugsch, made him into a
     secondary form of Amon, which is contrary to what we know of
     the history of the province. Just as Onû of the south
     (Erment) preceded Thebes as the most important town in that
     district, so Montû had been its most honoured god. Heer
     Wiedemann thinks the name related to that of Amon and
     derived from it, with the addition of the final _tû_.

Each of the feudal gods naturally cherished pretensions to universal
dominion, and proclaimed himself the suzerain, the father of all the
gods, as the local prince was the suzerain, the father of all men; but
the effective suzerainty of god or prince really ended where that of his
peers ruling over the adjacent nomes began.


The goddesses shared in the exercise of supreme power, and had the same
right of inheritance and possession as regards sovereignty that women
had in human law.[*] Isis was entitled lady and mistress at Bûto, as
Hâthor was at Denderah, and as Nit at Sais, "the firstborn, when as yet
there had been no birth." They enjoyed in their cities the same honours
as the male gods in theirs; as the latter were kings, so were they
queens, and all bowed down before them. The animal gods, whether
entirely in the form of beasts, or having human bodies attached to
animal heads, shared omnipotence with those in human form. Horus of
Hibonû swooped down upon the back of a gazelle like a hunting hawk,
Hâthor of Denderah was a cow, Bastit of Bubastis was a cat or a tigress,
while Nekhabit of El Kab was a great bald-headed vulture.[**] Hermopolis
worshipped the ibis and cynocephalus of Thot; Oxyrrhynchus the
_mor-myrus_ fish;[***] and Ombos and the Fayûm a crocodile, under the
name of Sobkû,[****] sometimes with the epithet of Azaï, the brigand.[v]

     *  In attempts at reconstituting Egyptian religions, no
     adequate weight has hitherto been given to the equality of
     gods and goddesses, a fact to which attention was first
     called by Maspeeo (_Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. p. 253, et seq.).

     **  Nekhabît, the goddess of the south, is the vulture, so
     often represented in scenes of war or sacrifice, who hovers
     over the head of the Pharaohs. She is also shown as a
     vulture-headed woman.

     ***  We have this on the testimony of classic writers,
     Steabo, book xvii. p. 812, _De Iside et Csiride_, § vii.,
     1872, Paethey's edition, pp. 9, 30, 128. ^Elianus, Hist,
     anim., book x. § 46.

     ****  Sobhû, Sovkû is the animal's name, and the exact
     translation of Sovû would be crocodile-god. Its Greek
     transcription is [ ]. On account of the assonance of the
     names he was sometimes confounded with _Sivû, Sibû_ by the
     Egyptians themselves, and thus obtained the titles of that
     god. This was especially the case at the time when Sit
     having been proscribed, Sovkû the crocodile, who was
     connected with Sit, shared his evil reputation, and
     endeavoured to disguise his name or true character as much
     as possible.

     v  Azaï  is generally considered to be the Osiris of the
     Fayûm, but he was only transformed into Osiris, and that by
     the most daring process of assimilation.    His full name
     defines him as _Osiri Azaï hi halt To-sit (Osiris the
     Brigand, who is in the Fayûm)_, that is to say,  as Sovkû
     identified with Osiris.

[Illustration: 138.jpg THE CAT-HEADED BAST. 4]

     4  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a green enamelled figure in
     my possession (Saïte period).

We cannot always understand what led the inhabitants of each nome to
affect one animal rather than another. Why, towards Græco-Roman times,
should they have worshipped the jackal, or even the dog, at Siût?[**]
How came Sit to be incarnate in a fennec, or in an imaginary
quadruped?[***] Occasionally, however, we can follow the train of
thought that determined their choice.

     ** Uapuaîtû, the _guide of the celestial ways_, who must not
     be confounded with Anubis of the Cynopolite nome of Upper
     Egypt, was originally the feudal god of Siût. He guided
     human souls to the paradise of the Oasis, and the sun upon
     its southern path by day, and its northern path by night.

     ***  Champollion, Rosellini, Lepsius, have held that the
     Typhonian animal was a purely imaginary one, and Wilkinson
     says that the Egyptians themselves admitted its unreality by
     representing it along with other fantastic beasts. This
     would rather tend to show that they believed in its actual
     existence (cf. p. 112 of this History). Plbyte thinks that
     it may be a degenerated form of the figure of the ass or

The habit of certain monkeys in assembling as it were in full court,
and chattering noisily a little before sunrise and sunset, would almost
justify the as yet uncivilized Egyptians in entrusting cynocephali with
the charge of hailing the god morning and evening as he appeared in the
east, or passed away in the west.

[Illustration: 139.jpg TWO IMAGES]

If Râ was held to be a grasshopper under the Old Empire, it was because
he flew far up in the sky like the clouds of locusts driven from Central
Africa which suddenly fall upon the fields and ravage them. Most of the
Nile-gods, Khnûmû, Osiris, Harshafitû, were incarnate in the form of a
ram or of a buck. Does not the masculine vigour and procreative rage
of these animals naturally point them out as fitting images of the
life-giving Nile and the overflowing of its waters? It is easy to
understand how the neighbourhood of a marsh or of a rock-encumbered
rapid should have suggested the crocodile as supreme deity to the
inhabitants of the Fayûm or of Ombos. The crocodiles there multiplied so
rapidly as to constitute a serious danger; there they had the mastery,
and could be appeased only by means of prayers and sacrifices.
When instinctive terror had been superseded by reflection, and some
explanation was offered of the origin of the various cults, the very
nature of the animal seemed to justify the veneration with which it was
regarded. The crocodile is amphibious; and Sobkû was supposed to be
a crocodile, because before the creation the sovereign god plunged
recklessly into the dark waters and came forth to form the world, as the
crocodile emerges from the river to lay its eggs upon the bank.

Most of the feudal divinities began their lives in solitary grandeur,
apart from, and often hostile to, their neighbours. Families were
assigned to them later.[*]

     * The existence of the Egyptian triads was discovered and
     defined by Champollion. These triads have long served as the
     basis upon which modern writers have sought to establish
     their systems of the Egyptian religion. Brugsch was the
     first who rightly attempted to replace the triad by the
     Ennead, in his book Religion und Mythologie der alten
     Ægypter. The process of forming local triads, as here set
     forth, was first pointed out by Maspero (_Études de
     Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. p. 269,
     et seq.).

Each appropriated two companions and formed a trinity, or as it is
generally called, a triad. But there were several kinds of triads. In
nomes subject to a god, the local deity was frequently content with one
wife and one son; but often he was united to two goddesses, who were at
once his sisters and his wives according to the national custom.

[Illustration: 141.jpg NIT OF SAÏS.]

Thus, Thot of Hermopolis possessed himself of a harem consisting of
Seshaît-Safk-hîtâbûi and Hahmâûît. Tûmû divided the homage of the
inhabitants of Helio-polis with Nebthôtpît and with Iûsasît. Khnûmû
seduced and married the two fairies of the neighbouring cataract--Anûkît
the constrainer, who compresses the Nile between its rocks at Philse and
at Syene, and Satît the archeress, who shoots forth the current straight
and swift as an arrow.[*] Where a goddess reigned over a nome, the triad
was completed by two male deities, a divine consort and a divine son.
Nît of Sai's had taken for her husband Osiris of Mendes, and borne him a
lion's whelp, Ari-hos-nofir.[**]

     *  Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. p. 273, et seq.

     **  _Arihosnofir_ means _the lion whose gaze has a
     beneficent fascination_. He also goes under the name of
     _Tutu_, which seems as though it should be translated "_the
     bounding_,"--a mere epithet characterizing one gait of the

Hâthor of Denderah had completed her household with Haroêris and a
younger Horus, with the epithet of Ahi--he who strikes the sistrum.[*]

     *  Brugsch explains the name of Ahi as meaning _he who
     causes his waters to rise_, and recognizes this personage as
     being, among other things, a form of the Nile. The
     interpretation offered by myself is borne out by the many
     scenes representing the child of Hâthor playing upon the
     sistrum and the _monâît_. Moreover, _ahi, ahît_ is an
     invariable title of the priests and priestesses whose office
     it is, during religious ceremonies, to strike the sistrum,
     and that other mystic musical instrument, the sounding whip
     called _monâît_.

[Illustration: 142.jpg IMHOTPÛ. 2]

     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze statuette encrusted
     with gold, in the Gîzeh Museum.    The seat is alabaster,
     and of modern manufacture.

A triad containing two goddesses produced no legitimate offspring, and
was unsatisfactory to a people who regarded the lack of progeny as a
curse from heaven; one in which the presence of a son promised to
ensure the perpetuity of the race was more in keeping with the idea of a
blessed and prosperous family, as that of gods should be. Triads of
the former kind were therefore almost everywhere broken up into two new
triads, each containing a divine father, a divine mother, and a divine
son. Two fruitful households arose from the barren union of Thot
with Safkhîtâbûi and Nahmâûît: one composed of Thot, Safkhîtâbûi, and
Harnûbi, the golden sparrow-hawk;[***] into the other Nahmâûît and her
nursling Nofirhorû entered.

     ***  This somewhat rare triad, noted by Wilkinson, is
     sculptured on the wall of a chamber in the Tûrah quarries.

[Illustration: 143.jpg NOFIRTÛMÛ. 3]

     3  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze statuette incrusted
     with gold, in the Gîzeh Museum.

The persons united with the old feudal divinities in order to form
triads were not all of the same class. Goddesses, especially, were made
to order, and might often be described as grammatical, so obvious is the
linguistic device to which they owe their being. From Râ, Amon, Horus,
Sobkû, female Ras, Anions, Horuses, and Sobkûs were derived, by the
addition of the regular feminine affix to the primitive masculine
names--Râît, Amonît, Horît, Sobkît.[*] In the same way, detached
cognomens of divine fathers were embodied in divine sons. Imhotpû, "he
who comes in peace," was merely one of the epithets of Phtah before he
became incarnate as the third member of the Memphite triad.[**] In other
cases, alliances were contracted between divinities of ancient stock,
but natives of different nomes, as in the case of Isis of Bûto and the
Mendesian Osiris; of Haroêris of Edfu and Hâthor of Denderah.

     *  Maspero,   _Études  de  Mythologie et  d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. pp. 7, 8, 256.

     **  Imhotpû, the Imouthes of the Greeks, and by them
     identified with Æsculapius, was discovered by Salt, and his
     name was first translated as _he who comes with offering_.
     The translation, _he who comes in peace_, proposed by E. de
     Rougé, is now universally adopted. Imhotpû did not take form
     until the time of the New Empire; his great popularity at
     Memphis and throughout Egypt dates from the Saïte and Greek

In the same manner Sokhît of Letopolis and Bastît of Bubastis were
appropriated as wives to Phtah of Memphis, Nofirtûmû being represented
as his son by both unions.[*] These improvised connections were
generally determined by considerations of vicinity; the gods of
conterminous principalities were married as the children of kings of two
adjoining kingdoms are married, to form or to consolidate relations,
and to establish bonds of kinship between rival powers whose unremitting
hostility would mean the swift ruin of entire peoples.

The system of triads, begun in primitive times and con-, tinned
unbrokenly up to the last days of Egyptian polytheism, far from in any
way lowering the prestige of the feudal gods, was rather the means
of enhancing it in the eyes of the multitude. Powerful lords as the
new-comers might be at home, it was only in the strength of an auxiliary
title that they could enter a strange city, and then only on condition
of submitting to its religious law. Hâthor, supreme at Denderah, shrank
into insignificance before Haroêris at Edfû, and there retained only the
somewhat subordinate part of a wife in the house of her husband.[**]

     *  Originally, Nofirtûmû appears to have been the son of cat
     or lioness-headed goddesses, Bastît and Sokhît, and from
     them he may have inherited the lion's head with which he is
     often represented. His name shows him to have been in the
     first place an incarnation of Atûmû, but he was affiliated
     to the god Phtah of Memphis when that god became the husband
     of his mothers, and preceded Imhotpû as the third personage
     in the oldest Memphite triad.

     **  Each year, and at a certain time, the goddess came in
     high state to spend a few days in the great temple of Edfû,
     with her husband Haroêris.

On the other hand, Haroêris when at Denderah descended from the supreme
rank, and was nothing more than the almost useless consort of the lady
Hâthor. His name came first in invocations of the triad because of his
position therein as husband and father; but this was simply a concession
to the propriety of etiquette, and even though named in second place,
Hâthor was none the less the real chief of Denderah and of its divine
family.[*] Thus, the principal personage in any triad was always the
one who had been patron of the nome previous to the introduction of the
triad: in some places the father-god, and in others the mother-goddess.

     *  The part played by Haroêris at Denderah was so
     inconsiderable that the triad containing him is not to be
     found in the temple. "In all our four volumes of plates, the
     triad is not once represented, and this is the more
     remarkable since at Thebes, at Memphis, at Philse, at the
     cataracts, at Elephantine, at Edfû, among all the data which
     one looks to find in temples, the triad is most readily
     distinguished by the visitor. But we must not therefore
     conclude that there was no triad in this case. The triad of
     Edfû consists of Hor-Hut, Hâthor, and Hor-Sam-ta-ui. The
     triad of Denderah contains Hâthor, Hor-Hut, and Hor-Sam-ta-
     ui. The difference is obvious. At Edfû, the male principle,
     as represented by Hor-Hut, takes the first place, whereas
     the first person at Denderah is Hâthor, who represents the
     female principle" (Mariette, _Dendérah_, Texte, pp. 80, 81).

[Illustration: 145.jpg HORUS]

     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a statuette in the Gîzeh
     Museum (Mariette, _Album du Musée de Boulaq_, pl. 4).

The son in a divine triad had of himself but limited authority. When
Isis and Osiris were his parents, he was generally an infant Horus,
naked, or simply adorned with necklaces and bracelets; a thick lock of
hair depended from his temple, and his mother squatting on her heels,
or else sitting, nursed him upon her knees, offering him her breast.[*]
Even in triads where the son was supposed to have attained to man's
estate, he held the lowest place, and there was enjoined upon him the
same respectful attitude towards his parents as is observed by children
of human race in the presence of theirs. He took the lowest place at all
solemn receptions, spoke only with his parents' permission, acted only
by their command and as the agent of their will. Occasionally he was
vouchsafed a character of his own, and filled a definite position, as at
Memphis, where Imhotpû was the patron of science.[**]

     *  For representations of Harpocrates, the child Horus, see
     Lanzone, _Dizionario di Mitologia Egizia_, pis. ccxxvii.,
     ccxxviii., and particularly pl. cccx. 2, where there is a
     scene in which the young god, represented as a sparrow-hawk,
     is nevertheless sucking the breast of his mother Isis with
     his beak.

     **  Hence he is generally represented as seated, or
     squatting, and attentively reading a papyrus roll, which
     lies open upon his knees; cf. the illustration on p. 142.

But, generally, he was not considered as having either office or marked
individuality; his being was but a feeble reflection of his father's,
and possessed neither life nor power except as derived from him. Two
such contiguous personalities must needs have been confused, and, as
a matter of fact, were so confused as to become at length nothing more
than two aspects of the same god, who united in his own person degrees
of relationship mutually exclusive of each other in a human family.
Father, inasmuch as he was the first member of the triad; son, by virtue
of being its third member; identical with himself in both capacities, he
was at once his own father, his own son, and the husband of his mother.

Gods, like men, might be resolved into at least two elements, soul and
body;[*] but in Egypt, the conception of the soul varied in different
times and in different schools. It might be an insect--butterfly,
bee, or praying mantis;[**] or a bird--the ordinary sparrow-hawk, the
human-headed sparrow-hawk, a heron or a crane--bi, haï--whose
wings enabled it to pass rapidly through space;[***] or the black
shadow--khaîbît--that is attached to every body, but which death sets
free, and which thenceforward leads an independent existence, so that it
can move about at will, and go out into the open sunlight.

     *  In one of the Pyramid texts, Sâhû-Orion, the wild hunter,
     captures the gods, slaughters and disembowels them, cooks
     their joints, their haunches, their legs, in his burning
     cauldrons, and feeds on their souls as well as on their
     bodies. A god was not limited to a single body and a single
     soul; we know from several texts that Râ had _seven souls
     and fourteen doubles_.

     **  Mr. Lepage-Renouf supposes that the soul may have been
     considered as being a butterfly at times, as in Greece. M.
     Lefébure thinks that it must sometimes have been incarnate
     as a wasp--I should rather say a bee or a praying mantis.

     ***  The simple sparrow-hawk  is chiefly used to denote the
     soul of a god; the human-headed sparrow-hawk, the heron, or
     the crane  is used indifferently for human or divine souls.
     It is from Horapollo that we learn this symbolic
     significance of the sparrow-hawk and the pronunciation of
     the name of the soul as _bai_.


     4  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Naville's _Das Thebanische
     Todtenbuch, vol. i. pl. civ._

Finally, it might be a kind of light shadow, like a reflection from
the surface of calm water, or from a polished mirror, the living and
coloured projection of the human figure, a double--_ka_--reproducing in
minutest detail the complete image of the object or the person to whom
it belonged.[*]

     *  The nature of the double has long been misapprehended by
     Egyptologists, who had even made its name into a kind of
     pronominal form. That nature was publicly and almost
     simultaneously announced in 1878, first by Maspero, and
     directly afterwards by Lepage-Renouf.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Dûmichen, of
     a scene on the cornice of the front room of Osiris on the
     terrace of the great temple of Denderah. The soul on the
     left belongs to Horus, that on the right to Osiris, lord of
     Amentît. Each bears upon its head the group of tall feathers
     which is characteristic of figures of Anhûri (cf. p. 103).

The soul, the shadow, the double of a god, was in no way essentially
different from the soul, shadow, or double of a man; his body, indeed,
was moulded out of a more rarefied substance, and generally invisible,
but endowed with the same qualities, and subject to the same
imperfections as ours. The gods, therefore, on the whole, were more
ethereal, stronger, more powerful, better fitted to command, to enjoy,
and to suffer than ordinary men, but they were still men. They had
bones,[**] muscles, flesh, blood; they were hungry and ate, they were
thirsty and drank; our passions, griefs, joys, infirmities, were also
theirs. The _sa_, a mysterious fluid, circulated throughout their
members, and carried with it health, vigour, and life.

     **  For example, the text of the _Destruction of Men_, and
     other documents, teach us that the flesh of the aged sun had
     become gold, and his bones silver. The blood of Râ is
     mentioned in the _Book of the Dead_, as well as the blood of
     Isis and of other divinities.

They were not all equally charged with it; some had more, others less,
their energy being in proportion to the amount which they contained. The
better supplied willingly gave of their superfluity to those who lacked
it, and all could readily transmit it to mankind, this transfusion being
easily accomplished in the temples. The king, or any ordinary man who
wished to be thus impregnated, presented himself before the statue of
the god, and squatted at its feet with his back towards it. The statue
then placed its right hand upon the nape of his neck, and by making
passes, caused the fluid to flow from it, and to accumulate in him as
in a receiver. This rite was of temporary efficacy only, and required
frequent renewal in order that its benefit might be maintained.


     1 Drawn by Boudier from a photograph by M. Gay et, taken in
     1889, of a scene in the hypostyle hall at Lûxor. This
     illustration shows the relative positions of prince and god.
     Anion, after having placed the pschent upon the head of the
     Pharaoh Amenôthes III., who kneels before him, proceeds to
     _impose the sa_.

By using or transmitting it the gods themselves exhausted their _sa_ of
life; and the less vigorous replenished themselves from the stronger,
while the latter went to draw fresh fulness from a mysterious pond
in the northern sky, called the "pond of the Sa."[*] Divine bodies,
continually recruited by the influx of this magic fluid, preserved their
vigour far beyond the term allotted to the bodies of men and beasts.
Age, instead of quickly destroying them, hardened and transformed them
into precious metals. Their bones were changed to silver, their flesh to
gold; their hair, piled up and painted blue, after the manner of great
chiefs, was turned into lapis-lazuli.[**]

     *   It is thus that in the _Tale of the Daughter of the
     Prince of Bakhtan_ we find that one of the statues of the
     Theban Konsû supplies itself with _sa_ from another statue
     representing one of the most powerful forms of the god. The
     _pond of Sa_, whither the gods go to draw the magic fluid,
     is mentioned in the Pyramid texts.

     **  Cf. the text of the _Destruction of Men_ (Il. 1, 2)
     referred to above, where age produces these transformations
     in the body of the sun. This changing of the bodies of the
     gods into gold, silver, and precious stones, explains why
     the alchemists, who were disciples of the Egyptians, often
     compared the transmutation of metals to the metamorphosis of
     a genius or of a divinity: they thought by their art to
     hasten at will that which was the slow work of nature.

This transformation of each into an animated statue did not altogether
do away with the ravages of time. Decrepitude was no less irremediable
with them than with men, although it came to them more slowly; when the
sun had grown old "his mouth trembled, his drivelling ran down to earth,
his spittle dropped upon the ground."

None of the feudal gods had escaped this destiny; for them as for
mankind the day came when they must leave the city and go forth to the

     * The idea of the inevitable death of the gods is expressed
     in other places as well as in a passage of the eighth
     chapter of the Booh of the Dead (Naville's edition), which
     has not to my knowledge hitherto been noticed: "I am that
     Osiris in the West, and Osiris knoweth his day in which he
     shall be no more;" that is to say, the day of his death
     when he will cease to exist. All the gods, Atûmû, Horus, Râ,
     Thot, Phtah, Khnûmû, are represented under the forms of
     mummies, and this implies that they are dead.    Moreover,
     their tombs were pointed out in several places in Egypt.

The ancients long refused to believe that death was natural
and inevitable. They thought that life, once began, might go on
indefinitely: if no accident stopped it short, why should it cease of
itself? And so men did not die in Egypt; they were assassinated. The
murderer often belonged to this world, and was easily recognized as
another man, an animal, some inanimate object such as a stone loosened
from the hillside, a tree which fell upon the passer-by and crushed him.
But often too the murderer was of the unseen world, and so was hidden,
his presence being betrayed in his malignant attacks only. He was a god,
an evil spirit, a disembodied soul who slily insinuated itself into the
living man, or fell upon him with irresistible violence--illness being a
struggle between the one possessed and the power which possessed him.
As soon as the former succumbed he was carried away from his own people,
and his place knew him no more. But had all ended for him with the
moment in which he had ceased to breathe? As to the body, no one was
ignorant of its natural fate. It quickly fell to decay, and a few years
sufficed to reduce it to a skeleton. And as for the skeleton, in the
lapse of centuries that too was disintegrated and became a mere train of
dust, to be blown away by the first breath of wind. The soul might
have a longer career and fuller fortunes, but these were believed to
be dependent upon those of the body, and commensurate with them. Every
advance made in the process of decomposition robbed the soul of some
part of itself; its consciousness gradually faded until nothing was left
but a vague and hollow form that vanished altogether when the corpse had
entirely disappeared. Erom an early date the Egyptians had endeavoured
to arrest this gradual destruction of the human organism, and their
first effort to this end naturally was directed towards the preservation
of the body, since without it the existence of the soul could not be
ensured. It was imperative that during that last sleep, which for
them was fraught with such terrors, the flesh should neither become
decomposed nor turn to dust, that it should be free from offensive odour
and secure from predatory worms.

They set to work, therefore, to discover how to preserve it. The oldest
burials which have as yet been found prove that these early inhabitants
were successful in securing the permanence of the body for a few decades
only. When one of them died, his son, or his nearest relative, carefully
washed the corpse in water impregnated with an astringent or aromatic
substance, such as natron or some solution of fragrant gums, and then
fumigated it with burning herbs and perfumes which were destined to
overpower, at least temporarily, the odour of death.[*]

     * This is to be gathered from the various Pyramid texts
     relating to the purification by water and to fumigation: the
     pains taken to secure material cleanliness, described in
     these formulas, were primarily directed towards the
     preservation of the bodies subjected to these processes, and
     further to the perfecting of the souls to which these bodies
     had been united.

Having taken these precautions, they placed the body in the grave,
sometimes entirely naked, sometimes partially covered with its ordinary
garments, or sewn up in a closely fitting gazelle skin. The dead man
was placed on his left side, lying north and south with his face to the
east, in some cases on the bare ground, in others on a mat, a strip of
leather or a fleece, in the position of a child in the foetal state. The
knees were sharply bent at an angle of 45° with the thighs, while the
latter were either at right angles with the body, or drawn up so as
almost to touch the elbows. The hands are sometimes extended in front
of the face, sometimes the arms are folded and the hands joined on the
breast or neck. In some instances the legs are bent upward in such a
fashion that they almost lie parallel with the trunk. The deceased could
only be made to assume this position by a violent effort, and in
many cases the tendons and the flesh had to be cut to facilitate the
operation. The dryness of the ground selected for these burial-places
retarded the corruption of the flesh for a long time, it is true, but
only retarded it, and so did not prevent the soul from being finally
destroyed. Seeing decay could not be prevented, it was determined
to accelerate the process, by taking the flesh from the bones before
interment. The bodies thus treated are often incomplete; the head is
missing, or is detached from the neck and laid in another part of the
pit, or, on the other hand, the body is not there, and the head only is
found in the grave, generally placed apart on a brick, a heap of stones,
or a layer of cut flints. The forearms and the hands were subjected to
the same treatment as the head. In many cases no trace of them appears,
in others they are deposited by the side of the skull or scattered
about haphazard. Other mutilations are frequently met with; the ribs are
divided and piled up behind the body, the limbs are disjointed or the
body is entirely dismembered, and the fragments arranged upon the ground
or enclosed together in an earthenware chest.

These precautions were satisfactory in so far as they ensured the
better preservation of the more solid parts of the human frame, but the
Egyptians felt this result was obtained at too great a sacrifice. The
human organism thus deprived of all flesh was not only reduced to
half its bulk, but what remained had neither unity, consistency, nor
continuity. It was not even a perfect skeleton with its constituent
parts in their relative places, but a mere mass of bones with no
connecting links. This drawback, it is true, was remedied by the
artificial reconstruction in the tomb of the individual thus completely
dismembered in the course of the funeral ceremonies. The bones were laid
in their natural order; those of the feet at the bottom, then those
of the leg, trunk, and arms, and finally the skull itself. But the
superstitious fear inspired by the dead man, particularly of one thus
harshly handled, and particularly the apprehension that he might revenge
himself on his relatives for the treatment to which they had subjected
him, often induced them to make this restoration intentionally
incomplete. When they had reconstructed the entire skeleton, they
refrained from placing the head in position, or else they suppressed
one or all of the vertebras of the spine, so that the deceased should be
unable to rise and go forth to bite and harass the living. Having taken
this precaution, they nevertheless felt a doubt whether the soul could
really enjoy life so long as one half only of the body remained, and the
other was lost for ever: they therefore sought to discover the means
of preserving the fleshy parts in addition to the bony framework of the
body. It had been observed that when a corpse had been buried in the
desert, its skin, speedily desiccated and hardened, changed into a case
of blackish parchment beneath which the flesh slowly wasted away,[*] and
the whole frame thus remained intact, at least in appearance, while its
integrity ensured that of the soul.

     * Such was the appearance of the bodies of Coptic monks of
     the sixth, eighth, and ninth centuries, which I found in the
     convent cemeteries of Contra-Syene, Taûd, and Akhmîm, right
     in the midst of the desert.

An attempt was made by artificial means to reproduce the conservative
action of the sand, and, without mutilating the body, to secure at will
that incorruptibility without which the persistence of the soul was but
a useless prolongation of the death-agony. It was the god Anubis--the
jackal lord of sepulture--who was supposed to have made this discovery.
He cleansed the body of the viscera, those parts which most rapidly
decay, saturated it with salts and aromatic substances, protected it
first of all with the hide of a beast, and over this laid thick layers
of linen. The victory the god had thus gained over corruption was,
however, far from being a complete one. The bath in which the dead man
was immersed could not entirely preserve the softer parts of the body:
the chief portion of them was dissolved, and what remained after the
period of saturation was so desiccated that its bulk was seriously

When any human being had been submitted to this process, he emerged from
it a mere skeleton, over which the skin remained tightly drawn: these
shrivelled limbs, sunken chest, grinning features, yellow and blackened
skin spotted by the efflorescence of the embalmer's salts, were not
the man himself, but rather a caricature of what he had been. As
nevertheless he was secure against immediate destruction, the Egyptians
described him as furnished with his shape; henceforth he had been purged
of all that was evil in him, and he could face with tolerable security
whatever awaited him in the future. The art of Anubis, transmitted to
the embalmers and employed by them from generation to generation,
had, by almost eliminating the corruptible part of the body without
destroying its outward appearance, arrested decay, if not for ever,
at least for an unlimited period of time. If there were hills at hand,
thither the mummied dead were still borne, partly from custom, partly
because the dryness of the air and of the soil offered them a further
chance of preservation. In districts of the Delta where the hills were
so distant as to make it very costly to reach them, advantage was
taken of the smallest sandy islet rising above the marshes, and there
a cemetery was founded. Where this resource failed, the mummy was
fearlessly entrusted to the soil itself, but only after being placed
within a sarcophagus of hard stone, whose lid and trough, hermetically
fastened together with cement, prevented the penetration of any
moisture. Reassured on this point, the soul followed the body to the
tomb, and there dwelt with it as in its eternal house, upon the confines
of the visible and invisible worlds.

Here the soul kept the distinctive character and appearance which
pertained to it "upon the earth:" as it had been a "double" before
death, so it remained a double after it, able to perform all functions
of animal life after its own fashion. It moved, went, came, spoke,
breathed, accepted pious homage, but without pleasure, and as it were
mechanically, rather from an instinctive horror of annihilation than
from any rational desire for immortality. Unceasing regret for the
bright world which it had left disturbed its mournful and inert
existence. "O my brother, withhold not thyself from drinking and from
eating, from drunkenness, from love, from all enjoyment, from following
thy desire by night and by day; put not sorrow within thy heart, for
what are the years of a man upon earth? The West is a land of sleep and
of heavy shadows, a place wherein its inhabitants, when once installed,
slumber on in their mummy-forms, never more waking to see their
brethren; never more to recognize their fathers or their mothers, with
hearts forgetful of their wives and children. The living water, which
earth giveth to all who dwell upon it, is for me but stagnant and dead;
that water floweth to all who are on earth, while for me it is but
liquid putrefaction, this water that is mine. Since I came into this
funereal valley I know not where nor what I am. Give me to drink of
running water!... Let me be placed by the edge of the water with my face
to the North, that the breeze may caress me and my heart be refreshed
from its sorrow." By day the double remained concealed within the tomb.
If it went forth by night, it was from no capricious or sentimental
desire to revisit the spots where it had led a happier life. Its organs
needed nourishment as formerly did those of its body, and of itself it
possessed nothing "but hunger for food, thirst for drink."[*] Want and
misery drove it from its retreat, and flung it back among the living.
It prowled like a marauder about fields and villages, picking up and
greedily devouring whatever it might find on the ground--broken meats
which had been left or forgotten, house and stable refuse--and,
should these meagre resources fail, even the most revolting dung and

     *   _Teti_, 11. 74, 75. "Hateful unto Teti is hunger, and
     he eateth it not; hateful unto Teti is thirst, nor hath he
     drunk it." We see that the Egyptians made hunger and thirst
     into two substances or beings, to be swallowed as food is
     swallowed, but whose effects were poisonous unless
     counteracted by the immediate absorption of more satisfying

     **  King Teti, when distinguishing his fate from that of the
     common dead, stated that he had abundance of food, and hence
     was not reduced to so pitiful an extremity. "Abhorrent unto
     Teti is excrement, Teti rejecteth urine, and Teti abhorreth
     that which is abominable in him; abhorrent unto him is
     faecal matter and he eateth it not, hateful unto Teti is
     liquid filth." (_Teti_, 11. 68, 69_). The same doctrine is
     found in several places in the Book of the Dead_.

This ravenous sceptre had not the dim and misty form, the long shroud
of floating draperies of our modern phantoms, but a precise and definite
shape, naked, or clothed in the garments which it had worn while yet
upon earth, and emitting a pale light, to which it owed the name of
Luminous--_Khû, Khûû_.[*] The double did not allow its family to
forget it, but used all the means at its disposal to remind them of
its existence. It entered their houses and their bodies, terrified them
waking and sleeping by its sudden apparitions, struck them down with
disease or madness,[**] and would even suck their blood like the modern

     *  The name of luminous was at first so explained as to make
     the light wherewith souls were clothed, into a portion of
     the divine light. In my opinion the idea is a less abstract
     one, and shows that, as among many other nations, so with
     the Egyptians the soul was supposed to appear as a kind of
     pale flame, or as emitting a glow analogous to the
     phosphorescent halo which is seen by night about a piece of
     rotten wood, or putrefying fish. This primitive conception
     may have subsequently faded, and _khû the glorious one_, one
     of the _mânes_, may have become one of those flattering
     names by which it was thought necessary to propitiate the
     dead; it then came to have that significance of _resplendent
     with light_ which is ordinarily attributed to it.

     **  The incantations of which the Leyden Papyrus published
     by Pleyte is full are directed against _dead men or dead
     women_ who entered into one of the living to give him the
     _migraine_, and violent headaches. Another Leyden Papyrus,
     briefly analyzed by Ohabas, and translated by Maspero,
     contains the complaint, or rather the formal act of
     requisition of a husband whom the _luminous_ of his wife
     returned to torment in his home, without any just cause for
     such conduct.

One effectual means there was, and one only, of escaping or preventing
these visitations, and this lay in taking to the tomb all the various
provisions of which the double stood in need, and for which it visited
their dwellings. Funerary sacrifices and the regular cultus of the
dead originated in the need experienced for making provision for the
sustenance of the manes after having secured their lasting existence by
the mummification of their bodies.[*]

     *  Several chapters of the _Book of the Dead_ consist of
     directions for giving food to that part of man which
     survives his death, e.g. chap, cv., "_Chapter for providing
     food for the double_" (Naville's edition, pl. cxvii.), and
     chap, cvi., "_Chapter for giving daily abundance unto the
     deceased, in Memphis_" (Naville's edition, pl. cxviii.).


     2  Stela of Antûf I., Prince of Thebes, drawn by Faucher-
     Gudin from a photograph taken by Emil Brugsch-Bey.    Below,
     servants and relations are bringing the victims and cutting
     up the ox at the door of the tomb. In the middle is the dead
     man, seated under his pavilion and receiving the sacrifice:
     an attendant offers him drink, another brings him the haunch
     of an ox a third a basket and two jars; provisions fill the
     whole chamber. Behind Antûf stand two servants, the one
     fanning his master, and the second offering him his staff
     and sandals. The position of the door, which is in the
     lowest row of the scenes, indicates that what is represented
     above it takes place within the tomb.

Gazelles and oxen were brought and sacrificed at the door of the tomb
chapel; the haunches, heart, and breast of each victim being presented
and heaped together upon the ground, that there the dead might find them
when they began to be hungry. Vessels of beer or wine, great jars of
fresh water, purified with natron, or perfumed, were brought to them
that they might drink their fill at pleasure, and by such voluntary
tribute men bought their good will, as in daily life they bought that of
some neighbour too powerful to be opposed.

The gods were spared none of the anguish and none of the perils which
death so plentifully bestows upon men. Their bodies suffered change and
gradually perished until nothing was left of them. Their souls,
like human souls, were only the representatives of their bodies, and
gradually became extinct if means of arresting the natural tendency to
decay were not found in time. Thus, the same necessity that forced men
to seek the kind of sepulture which gave the longest term of existence
to their souls, compelled the gods to the same course. At first, they
were buried in the hills, and one of their oldest titles describes them
as those "who are upon the sand,"[*] safe from putrefaction; afterwards,
when the art of embalming had been discovered, the gods received the
benefit of the new invention and were mummified.

     * In the _Book of Knowing that which is in Hades_, for the
     fourth and fifth hours of the night, we have the description
     of the sandy realm of Sokaris and of the gods _Hiriû Shâîtû-
     senû_, who are on their sand. Elsewhere in the same book we
     have a cynocephalus _upon its sand_, and the gods of the
     eighth hour are also mysterious gods who are on their sand.
     Wherever these personages are represented in the vignettes,
     the Egyptian artist has carefully drawn the ellipse painted
     in yellow and sprinkled with red, which is the conventional
     rendering of sand, and sandy districts.

Each nome possessed the mummy and the tomb of its dead god: at Thinis
there was the mummy and the tomb of Anhuri, the mummy of Osiris at
Mendes, the mummy of Tûmû at Heliopolis.[*] In some of the nomes the
gods did not change their names in altering the mode of their existence:
the deceased Osiris remained Osiris; Nit and Hâthor when dead were still
Nît and Hâthor, at Saïs and at Denderah. But Phtah of Memphis became
Sokaris by dying; Uapûaîtû, the jackal of Siût, was changed into
Anubis;[**] and when his disk had disappeared at evening, Anhûri, the
sunlit sky of Thinis, was Khontamentît, Lord of the West, until the
following day.

     *  The sepulchres of Tûmû, Khopri, Râ, Osiris, and in each
     of them the heap of sand hiding the body, are represented in
     the tomb of Seti I., as also the four rams in which the
     souls of the god are incarnate. The tombs of the gods were
     known even in Roman times.

     **  To my mind, at least, this is an obvious conclusion from
     the monuments of Siût, in which the jackal god is called
     Uapûaîtû, as the living god, lord of the city, and Anûpû,
     master of embalming or of the Oasis, lord of Ra-qrirît,
     inasmuch as he is god of the dead. Ra-qrirît, _the door of
     the stone_, was the name which the people of Siût gave to
     their necropolis and to the infernal domain of their god.

That bliss which we dream of enjoying in the world to come was not
granted to the gods any more than to men. Their bodies were nothing
but inert larvae, "with unmoving heart,"[*] weak and shrivelled limbs,
unable to stand upright were it not that the bandages in which they were
swathed stiffened them into one rigid block. Their hands and heads alone
were free, and were of the green or black shades of putrid flesh.

     *  This is the characteristic epithet for the dead Osiris,
     Urdu Mt, he whose heart is unmoving, he whose heart no
     longer beats, and who has therefore ceased to live.

[Illustration: 164.jpg PHTAH AS A MUMMY. 2]

     2  Drawing by Faucher-Gudin of a bronze statuette of the
     Saïte period, found in the department of Hérault, at the end
     of a gallery in an ancient mine.

Their doubles, like those of men, both dreaded and regretted the light.
All sentiment was extinguished by the hunger from which they suffered,
and gods who were noted for their compassionate kindness when alive,
became pitiless and ferocious tyrants in the tomb. When once men were
bidden to the presence of Sokaris, Khontamentîfc, or even of Osiris,
"mortals come terrifying their hearts with fear of the god, and none
dareth to look him in the face either among gods or men; for him the
great are as the small. He spareth not those who love him; he beareth
away the child from its mother, and the old man who walketh on his way;
full of fear, all creatures make supplication before him, but he turneth
not his face towards them." Only by the unfailing payment of tribute,
and by feeding him as though he were a simple human double, could living
or dead escape the consequences of his furious temper. The living paid
him his dues in pomps and solemn sacrifices, repeated from year to year
at regular intervals; but the dead bought more dearly the protection
which he deigned to extend to them. He did not allow them to receive
directly the prayers, sepulchral meals, or offerings of kindred on
feast-days; all that was addressed to them must first pass through his
hands. When their friends wished to send them wine, water, bread, meat,
vegetables, and fruits, he insisted that these should first be offered
and formally presented to himself; then he was humbly prayed to transmit
them to such or such a double, whose name and parentage were pointed out
to him. He took possession of them, kept part for his own use, and of
his bounty gave the remainder to its destined recipient. Thus death
made no change in the relative positions of the feudal god and his
worshippers. The worshipper who called himself the _amakhû_ of the god
during life was the subject and vassal of his mummied god even in the
tomb;[*] and the god who, while living, reigned over the living, after
his death continued to reign over the dead.

     * The word _amakhû_ is applied to an individual who has
     freely entered the service of king or baron, and taken him
     for his lord: _amakhû khir nibuf_ means _vassal of his
     lord_. In the same way, each chose for himself a god who
     became his patron, and to whom he owed _fealty_, i.e. to
     whom he was _amakhû_--vassal. To the god he owed the service
     of a good vassal--tribute, sacrifices, offerings; and to his
     vassal the god owed in return the service of a suzerain--
     protection, food, reception into his dominions and access to
     his person. A man might be absolutely _nib amahkît_, master
     of fealty, or, relatively to a god, _amakhû khir Osiri_, the
     vassal of Osiris, _amakhû khir Phtah-Sokari_, the vassal of

He dwelt in the city near the prince and in the midst of his subjects:
Râ living in Heliopolis along with the prince of Heliopolis; Haroêris
in Edfû together with the prince of Edfû; Nît in Saïs with the prince of
Sais. Although none of the primitive temples have come down to us,
the name given to them in the language of the time, shows what
they originally were. A temple was considered as the feudal
mansion--hâît,--the house--_pirû, pi_,--of the god, better cared for,
and more respected than the houses of men, but not otherwise differing
from them. It was built on a site slightly raised above the level of
the plain, so as to be safe from the inundation, and where there was no
natural mound, the want was supplied by raising a rectangular platform
of earth. A layer of sand spread uniformly on the sub-soil provided
against settlements or infiltration, and formed a bed for the
foundations of the building.[*]

     * This custom lasted into Græco-Roman times, and was part of
     the ritual for laying the foundations of a temple. After the
     king had dug out the soil on the ground where the temple was
     to stand, he spread over the spot sand mixed with pebbles
     and precious stones, and upon this he laid the first course
     of stone.

This was first of all a single room, circumscribed, gloomy, covered in
by a slightly vaulted roof, and having no opening but the doorway, which
was framed by two tall masts, whence floated streamers to attract from
afar the notice of worshippers; in front of its façade [*] was a court,
fenced in with palisading.

     *  No Egyptian temples of the first period have come down to
     our time, but Herr Erman has very justly remarked that we
     have pictures of them in several of the signs denoting the
     word _temple_ in texts of the Memphite period.

[Illustration: 167.jpg THE SACRED BULL. 2]

     2  A sculptor's model from Tanis, now in the Gîzeh Museum,
     drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-
     Bey. The sacred marks, as given in the illustration, are
     copied from those of similar figures on stelæ of the

Within the temple were pieces of matting, low tables of stone, wood,
or metal, a few utensils for cooking the offerings, a few vessels for
containing the blood, oil, wine, and water with which the god was
every day regaled. As provisions for sacrifice increased, the number of
chambers increased with them, and rooms for flowers, perfumes, stuffs,
precious vessels, and food were grouped around the primitive abode;
until that which had once constituted the whole temple became no more
than its sanctuary. There the god dwelt, not only in spirit but in
body,[*] and the fact that it was incumbent upon him to live in several
cities did not prevent his being present in all of them at once. He
could divide his double, imparting it to as many separate bodies as he
pleased, and these bodies might be human or animal, natural objects
or things manufactured--such as statues of stone, metal, or wood.[**]
Several of the gods were incarnate in rams: Osiris at Mendes, Harshafitû
at Heracleopolis, Khnûmû at Elephantine. Living rams were kept in their
temples, and allowed to gratify any fancy that came into their
animal brains. Other gods entered into bulls: Râ at Heliopolis, and,
subsequently, Phtah at Memphis, Minû at Thebes, and Montû at Hermonthis.
They indicated beforehand by certain marks such beasts as they intended
to animate by. their doubles, and he who had learnt to recognize these
signs was at no loss to find a living god when the time came for
seeking one and presenting it to the adoration of worshippers in the

     *  Thus at Denderah, it is said that the soul of Hâthor
     likes to leave heaven "in the form of a human-headed
     sparrow-hawk of lapis-lazuli, accompanied by her divine
     cycle, to come and unite herself to the statue." "Other
     instances," adds Mariette, "would seem to justify us in
     thinking that the Egyptians accorded a certain kind of life
     to the statues and images which they made, and believed
     (especially in connection with tombs) that the spirit
     haunted images of itself."

     **  Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et l'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. i. p. 77, et seq.; _Archéologie
     Égyptienne_, pp. 106, 107; English edition, pp. 105, 106.
     This notion of actuated statues seemed so strange and so
     unworthy of the wisdom of the Egyptians that Egyptologists
     of the rank of M. de Rougé have taken in an abstract and
     metaphorical sense expressions referring to the automatic
     movements of divine images.

     ***  The bulls of Râ and of Phtah, the Mnevis and the Hapis,
     are known to us from classic writers. The bull of Minû at
     Thebes may be seen in the procession of the god as
     represented on monuments of Ramses II. and Ramses III. Bâkhû
     (called Bakis by the Greeks), the bull of Hermonthis, is
     somewhat rare, and mainly represented upon a few later
     stelæ in the Gîzeh Museum; it is chiefly known from the
     texts. The particular signs distinguishing each of these
     sacred animals have been determined both on the authority of
     ancient writers, and from examination of the figured
     monuments; the arrangement and outlines of some of the black
     markings of the Hapis are clearly shown in the illustration
     on p. 167.

And if the statues had not the same outward appearance of actual life as
the animals, they none the less concealed beneath their rigid exteriors
an intense energy of life which betrayed itself on occasion by gestures
or by words. They thus indicated, in language which their servants could
understand, the will of the gods, or their opinion on the events of the
day; they answered questions put to them in accordance with prescribed
forms, and sometimes they even foretold the future.

[Illustration: 169.jpg OPEN-AIR OFFERINGS TO THE SERPENT. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph taken in the
     tomb of Khopirkerîsonbû. The inscription behind the urseus
     states that it represents _Banûît the August, lady of the
     double granary_.

Each temple held a fairly large number of statues representing so many
embodiments of the local divinity and of the members of his triad. These
latter shared, albeit in a lesser degree, all the honours and all the
prerogatives of the master; they accepted sacrifices, answered prayers,
and, if needful, they prophesied. They occupied either the sanctuary
itself, or one of the halls built about the principal sanctuary, or
one of the isolated chapels which belonged to them, subject to the
suzerainty of the feudal god. The god has his divine court to help him
in the administration of his dominions, just as a prince is aided by his
ministers in the government of his realm.

This State religion, so complex both in principle and in its outward
manifestations, was nevertheless inadequate to express the exuberant
piety of the populace. There were casual divinities in every nome
whom the people did not love any the less because of their inofficial
character; such as an exceptionally high palm tree in the midst of the
desert, a rock of curious outline, a spring trickling drop by drop from
the mountain to which hunters came to slake their thirst in the hottest
hours of the day, or a great serpent believed to be immortal, which
haunted a field, a grove of trees, a grotto, or a mountain ravine.[*]

     * It was a serpent of this kind which gave its name to the
     hill of Shêikh Harîdî, and the adjacent nome of the Serpent
     Mountain; and though the serpent has now turned Mussulman,
     he still haunts the mountain and preserves his faculty of
     coming to life again every time that he is killed.

The peasants of the district brought it bread, cakes, fruits, and
thought that they could call down the blessing of heaven upon their
fields by gorging the snake with offerings. Everywhere on the confines
of cultivated ground, and even at some distance from the valley, are
fine single sycamores, flourishing as though by miracle amid the sand.


     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a scene in the tomb of
     Khopirkerîsonbû. The sacred sycamore here stands at the end
     of a field of corn, and would seem to extend its protection
     to the harvest.

Their fresh greenness is in sharp contrast with the surrounding
fawn-coloured landscape, and their thick foliage defies the midday sun
even in summer. But, on examining the ground in which they grow, we soon
find that they drink from water which has infiltrated from the Nile, and
whose existence is in nowise betrayed upon the surface of the soil. They
stand as it were with their feet in the river, though no one about them
suspects it. Egyptians of all ranks counted them divine and habitually
worshipped them,[**] making them offerings of figs, grapes, cucumbers,
vegetables, and water in porous jars daily replenished by good and
charitable people.

     **  Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. pp. 224--227. They were represented
     as animated by spirits concealed within them, but which
     could manifest themselves on occasion. At such times the
     head or whole body of the spirit of a tree would emerge from
     its trunk, and when it returned to its hiding-place the
     trunk reabsorbed it, or _ate_ it again, according to the
     Egyptian expression, which I have already had occasion to
     quote above; see p. 110, note 3.

Passers-by drank of the water, and requited the unexpected benefit with
a short prayer. There were several such trees in the Memphite nome, and
in the Letopolite nome from Dashûr to Gîzeh, inhabited, as every one
knew, by detached doubles of Nûît and Hâthor. These combined districts
were known as the "Land of the Sycamore," a name afterwards extended
to the city of Memphis; and their sacred trees are worshipped at the
present day both by Mussulman and Christian fellahîn.[*]

     * The tree at Matarîeh, commonly called the _Tree of the
     Virgin_, seems to me to be the successor of a sacred tree of
     Heliopolis in which a goddess, perhaps Hâthor, was

The most famous among them all, the Sycamore of the South--_nûhît
rîsit_--was regarded as the living body of Hâthor on earth. Side by side
with its human gods and prophetic statues, each nome proudly advanced
one or more sacred animals, one or more magic trees. Each family, and
almost every individual, also possessed gods and fetishes, which had
been pointed out for their worship by some fortuitous meeting with an
animal or an object; by a dream, or by sudden intuition. They had a
place in some corner of the house, or a niche in its walls; lamps were
continually kept burning before them, and small daily offerings
were made to them, over and above what fell to their share on solemn
feast-days. In return, they became the protectors of the household, its
guardians and its counsellors. Appeal was made to them in every exigency
of daily life, and their decisions were no less scrupulously carried out
by their little circle of worshippers, than was the will of the feudal
god by the inhabitants of his principality.


     1 Bas-relief from the temple of Seti I. at Abydos; drawn by
     Boudier, from a photograph by M. Daniel Héron. Seti I.,
     second king of the XIXth dynasty, is throwing the lasso; his
     son, Ramses II., who is still the crown prince, holds the
     bull by the tail to prevent its escaping from the slipknot.

The prince was the great high priest. The whole religion of the nome
rested upon him, and originally he himself performed its ceremonies. Of
these, the chief was sacrifice,--that is to say, a banquet which it was
his duty to prepare and lay before the god with his own hands. He went
out into the fields to lasso the half-wild bull; bound it, cut its
throat, skinned it, burnt part of the carcase in front of his idol
and distributed the rest among his assistants, together with plenty of
cakes, fruits, vegetables, and wine.[*] On the occasion, the god was
present both in body and double, suffering himself to be clothed and
perfumed, eating and drinking of the best that was set on the table
before him, and putting aside some of the provisions for future use.
This was the time to prefer requests to him, while he was gladdened and
disposed to benevolence by good cheer. He was not without suspicion as
to the reason why he was so feasted, but he had laid down his conditions
beforehand, and if they were faithfully observed he willingly yielded
to the means of seduction brought to bear upon him. Moreover, he himself
had arranged the ceremonial in a kind of contract formerly made with his
worshippers and gradually perfected from age to age by the piety of new
generations.[**] Above all things, he insisted on physical cleanliness.
The officiating priest must carefully wash--_ûâbû_--his face, mouth,
hands, and body; and so necessary was this preliminary purification
considered, that from it the professional priest derived his name of
_ûîbû_, the washed, the clean.[***]

     *  This appears from the sacrificial ritual employed in the
     temples up to the last days of Egyptian paganism; cf., for
     instance, the illustration on p. 173, where the king is
     represented as lassoing the bull. That which in historic
     times was but an image, had originally been a reality.

     **  The most striking example of the divine institution of
     religious services is furnished by the inscription relating
     the history of the destruction of men in the reign of Râ,
     where the god, as he is about to make his final ascension
     into heaven, substitutes animal for human sacrifices.

     ***  The idea of physical cleanliness comes out in such
     variants as _ûîbû totûi_, "clean of both hands," found on
     stelae instead of the simple title _ûîbû_. We also know, on
     the evidence of ancient writers, the scrupulous daily care
     which Egyptian priests took of their bodies. It was only as
     a secondary matter that the idea of moral purity entered
     into the conception of a priest.

His costume was the archaic dress, modified according to circumstances.
During certain services, or at certain points in the sacrifices, it was
incumbent upon him to wear sandals, the panther-skin over his shoulder,
and the thick lock of hair falling over his right ear; at other times he
must gird himself with the loin-cloth having a jackal's tail, and take
the shoes from off his feet before proceeding with his office, or attach
a false beard to his chin. The species, hair, and age of the victim, the
way in which it was to be brought and bound, the manner and details of
its slaughter, the order to be followed in opening its body and cutting
it up, were all minutely and unchangeably decreed. And these were but
the least of the divine exactions, and those most easily satisfied. The
formulas accompanying each act of the sacrificial priest contained
a certain number of words whose due sequence and harmonies might not
suffer the slightest modification whatever, even from the god himself,
under penalty of losing their efficacy.[*]

     * The Purification Ritual for officiating priests is
     contained in a papyrus of the Berlin Museum, whose analysis
     and table of chapters has been published by Herr Oscar von
     Lemm, _Das Bitualbuch des Ammonsdienstes_, p. 4, et seq.

They were always recited with the same rhythm, according to a system of
chaunting in which every tone had its virtue, combined with movements
which confirmed the sense and worked with irresistible effect: one
false note, a single discord between the succession of gestures and the
utterance of the sacramental words, any hesitation, any awkwardness in
the accomplishment of a rite, and the sacrifice was vain.

Worship as thus conceived became a legal transaction, in the course of
which the god gave up his liberty in exchange for certain compensations
whose kind and value were fixed by law. By a solemn deed of transfer the
worshipper handed over to the legal representatives of the contracting
divinity such personal or real property as seemed to him fitting payment
for the favour which he asked, or suitable atonement for the wrong which
he had done. If man scrupulously observed the innumerable conditions
with which the transfer was surrounded, the god could not escape the
obligation of fulfilling his petition;[*] but should he omit the least
of them, the offering remained with the temple and went to increase
the endowments in mortmain, while the god was pledged to nothing in

     * This obligation is evident from texts where, as in the
     poem of Pentaûirît, a king who is in danger demands from his
     favourite god the equivalent in protection of the sacrifices
     which he has offered to that divinity, and the gifts
     wherewith he has enriched him. "Have I not made unto thee
     many offerings?" says Ramses II. to Amon. "I have filled
     thy temple with my prisoners, I have built thee a mansion
     for millions of years.... Ah if evil is the lot of them who
     insult thee, good are thy purposes towards those who honour
     thee, O Amon!"

Hence the officiating priest assumed a formidable responsibility
as regarded his fellows: a slip of memory, the slightest accidental
impurity, made him a bad priest, injurious to himself and harmful to
those worshippers who had entrusted him with their interests before the
gods. Since it was vain to expect ritualistic perfections from a prince
constantly troubled with affairs of state, the custom was established
of associating professional priests with him, personages who devoted all
their lives to the study and practice of the thousand formalities whose
sum constituted the local religion. Each temple had its service of
priests, independent of those belonging to neighbouring temples, whose
members, bound to keep their hands always clean and their voices true,
were ranked according to the degrees of a learned hierarchy. At their
head was a sovereign pontiff to direct them in the exercise of their
functions. In some places he was called the first prophet, or rather the
first servant of the god--_hon-nûtir topi_; at Thebes he was the first
prophet of Amon, at Thinis he was the first prophet of Anhûri.[*]

     * This title of _first prophet_ belongs to priests of the
     less important towns, and to secondary divinities. If we
     find it employed in connection with the Theban worship, it
     is because Amon was originally a provincial god, and only
     rose into the first rank with the rise of Thebes and the
     great conquests of the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties.

But generally he bore a title appropriate to the nature of the god whose
servant he was. The chief priest of Râ at Heliopolis, and in all the
cities which adopted the Heliopolitan form of worship, was called _Oîrû
maû_, the master of visions, and he alone besides the sovereign of
the nome, or of Egypt, enjoyed the privilege of penetrating into the
sanctuary, of "entering into heaven and there beholding the god" face
to face. In the same way, the high priest of Anhûri at Sebennytos was
entitled the wise and pure warrior--_ahûîti saû uîbu_--because his god
went armed with a pike, and a soldier god required for his service a
pontiff who should be a soldier like himself.

These great personages did not always strictly seclude themselves
within the limits of the religious domain. The gods accepted, and even
sometimes solicited, from their worshippers, houses, fields, vineyards,
orchards, slaves, and fishponds, the produce of which assured their
livelihood and the support of their temples. There was no Egyptian who
did not cherish the ambition of leaving some such legacy to the patron
god of his city, "for a monument to himself," and as an endowment
for the priests to institute prayers and perpetual sacrifices on his
behalf.[*] In course of time these accumulated gifts at length formed
real sacred fiefs--_hotpû-nûtir_--analogous to the _wakfs_ of Mussulman
Egypt.[**] They were administered by the high priest, who, if necessary,
defended them by force against the greed of princes or kings. Two,
three, or even four classes of prophets or _heiroduli_ under his orders
assisted him in performing the offices of worship, in giving religious
instruction, and in the conduct of affairs. Women did not hold equal
rank with men in the temples of male deities; they there formed a kind
of harem whence the god took his mystic spouses, his concubines, his
maidservants, the female musicians and dancing women whose duty it was
to divert him and to enliven his feasts. But in temples of goddesses
they held the chief rank, and were called _hierodules_, or priestesses,
_hierodules_ of Nit, _hierodules_ of Hâthor, _hierodules_ of

     *  As regards the Saïte period, we are beginning to
     accumulate many stelae recording gifts to a god of land or
     houses, made either by the king or by private individuals.

     **  We know from the _Great Harris Papyrus_ to what the
     fortune of Amon amounted at the end of the reign of Ramses
     III.; its details may be found in Brugsch, _Die
     Ægyptologie_, pp. 271-274. Cf. in Naville, _Bubastis, Eighth
     Memoir of the Egyptian Exploration Fund_, p. 61, a
     calculation as to the quantities of precious metals
     belonging to one of the least of the temples of Bubastis;
     its gold and silver were counted by thousands of pounds.

     *** Mariette remarks  that   priests  play  but   a
     subordinate part in the temple of Hâthor. This fact, which
     surprised him, is adequately explained by remembering that
     Hâthor being a goddess, women take precedence over men in a
     temple dedicated to her. At Sais, the chief priest was a
     man, the Tcharp-haîtû; but the persistence with which women
     of the highest rank, and even queens themselves, took the
     title of prophetess of Nit from the times of the Ancient
     Empire shows that in this city the priestess of the goddess
     was of equal, if not superior, rank to the priest.

The lower offices in the households of the gods, as in princely
households, were held by a troop of servants and artisans: butchers to
cut the throats of the victims, cooks and pastrycooks, confectioners,
weavers, shoemakers, florists, cellarers, water-carriers and
milk-carriers. In fact, it was a state within a state, and the prince
took care to keep its government in his own hands, either by investing
one of his children with the titles and functions of chief pontiff',
or by arrogating them to himself. In that case, he provided against
mistakes which would have annulled the sacrifice by associating with
himself several masters of the ceremonies, who directed him in the
orthodox evolutions before the god and about the victim, indicated the
due order of gestures and the necessary changes of costume, and prompted
him with the words of each invocation from a book or tablet which they
held in their hands.[*]

     * The title of such a personage was _khri-habi_, the man
     with the roll or tablet, because of the papyrus roll, or
     wooden tablet containing the ritual, which he held in his

In addition to its rites and special hierarchy, each of the sacerdotal
colleges thus constituted had a theology in accordance with the nature
and attributes of its god. Its fundamental dogma affirmed the unity of
the nome god, his greatness, his supremacy over all the gods of Egypt
and of foreign lands[*]--whose existence was nevertheless admitted, and
none dreamed of denying their reality or contesting their power.

     *  In the inscriptions all local gods bear the titles of
     _Nûtir ûâ_, only god; Sûton nûtirû, Sûntirû, [ Greek word],
     king of the gods; of _Nûtir âa nib pit_, the great god, lord
     of heaven, which show their pretensions to the sovereignty
     and to the position of creator of the universe.

The latter also boasted of their unity, their greatness, their
supremacy; but whatever they were, the god of the nome was master of
them all--their prince, their ruler, their king. It was he alone who
governed the world, he alone kept it in good order, he alone had created
it. Not that he had evoked it out of nothing; there was as yet no
concept of nothingness, and even to the most subtle and refined of
primitive theologians creation was only a bringing of pre-existent
elements into play.

[Illustration: 180.jpg SHU UPLIFTING THE SKY. 2]

     2  Drawing by Faucher-Gudin of a green enamelled statuette
     in my possession. It was from Shu that the Greeks derived
     their representations, and perhaps their myth of Atlas.

The latent germs of things had always existed, but they had slept for
ages and ages in the bosom of the Nû, of the dark waters. In fulness of
time the god of each nome drew them forth, classified them, marshalled
them according to the bent of his particular nature, and made his
universe out of them by methods peculiarly his own. Nît of Saïs, who was
a weaver, had made the world of warp and woof, as the mother of a family
weaves her children's linen.

Khnûmû, the Nile-God of the cataracts, had gathered up the mud of his
waters and therewith moulded his creatures upon a potter's table. In the
eastern cities of the Delta these procedures were not so simple. There
it was admitted that in the beginning earth and sky were two lovers lost
in the Nû, fast locked in each other's embrace, the god lying beneath
the goddess. On the day of creation a new god, Shu, came forth from the
primaeval waters, slipped between the two, and seizing Nûît with both
hands, lifted her above his head with outstretched arms.[*]

     * This was what the Egyptians called _the upliftings of
     Shû_. The event first took place at Hermopolis, and certain
     legends added that in order to get high enough the god had
     been obliged to make use of a staircase or mound situate in
     this city, and which was famous throughout Egypt.

Though the starry body of the goddess extended in space--her head being
to the west and her loins to the east--her feet and hands hung down to
the earth. These were the four pillars of the firmament under another
form, and four gods of four adjacent principalities were in charge of
them. Osiris, or Horus the sparrow-hawk, presided over the southern, and
Sit over the northern pillar; Thot over that of the west, and Sapdi, the
author of the zodiacal light, over that of the east. They had divided
the world among themselves into four regions, or rather into four
"houses," bounded by those mountains which surround it, and by the
diameters intersecting between the pillars. Each of these houses
belonged to one, and to one only; none of the other three, nor even
the sun himself, might enter it, dwell there, or even pass through
it without having obtained its master's permission. Sibu had not been
satisfied to meet the irruption of Shû by mere passive resistance. He
had tried to struggle, and he is drawn in the posture of a man who has
just awakened out of sleep, and is half turning on his couch before
getting up. One of his legs is stretched out, the other is bent and
partly drawn up as in the act of rising. The lower part of the body is
still unmoved, but he is raising himself with difficulty on his left
elbow, while his head droops and his right arm is lifted towards the
sky. His effort was suddenly arrested. Rendered powerless by a stroke of
the creator, Sibû remained as if petrified in this position, the obvious
irregularities of the earth's surface being due to the painful attitude
in which he was stricken. His sides have since been clothed with
verdure, generations of men and animals have succeeded each other
upon his back, but without bringing any relief to his pain; he suffers
evermore from the violent separation of which he was the victim when
Nûît was torn from him, and his complaint continues to rise to heaven
night and day.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painting on the mummy-case
     of Bûtehamon in the Turin Museum. "Shû, the great god, lord
     of heaven," receives the adoration of two ram-headed souls
     placed upon his right and left.

[Illustration: 183.jpg THE DIDÛ OF OSIRIS. 1]

     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a specimen in blue enamelled
     pottery, now in my possession.

[Illustration: 183b.jpg THE DIDÛ DRESSED. 2]

     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a figure frequently found in
     Theban mummy-cases of XXIst and XXIInd dynasties (Wilkinson,
     _Manners and Customs_. 2nd edit., vol. iii. pl. xxv., No 5).

The aspect of the inundated plains of the Delta, of the river by which
they are furrowed and fertilized, and of the desert sands by which they
are threatened, had suggested to the theologians of Mendes and Bûto an
explanation of the mystery of creation, in which the feudal divinities
of these cities and of several others in their neighbourhood, Osiris,
Sit, and Isis, played the principal parts. Osiris first represented the
wild and fickle Nile of primitive times; afterwards, as those who dwelt
upon his banks learned to regulate his course, they emphasized
the kindlier side of his character and soon transformed him into
a benefactor of humanity, the supremely good being, Ûnnofriû,
Onnophris.[*] He was lord of the principality of Didû, which lay along
the Sebennytic branch of the river between the coast marshes and the
entrance to the Wâdy Tûmilât, but his domain had been divided; and the
two nomes thus formed, namely, the ninth and sixteenth nomes of the
Delta in the Pharaonic lists, remained faithful to him, and here
he reigned without rival, at Busiris as at Mendes. His most famous
idol-form was the Didû, whether naked or clothed, the fetish, formed
of four superimposed columns, which had given its name to the

     *  It has long been a dogma with Egyptologists that Osiris
     came from Abydos. Maspero has shown that from his very
     titles he is obviously a native of the Delta, and more
     especially of Busiris and Mendes.

     **  The Didû has been very variously interpreted. It has
     been taken for a kind of nilometer, for a sculptor's or
     modeller's stand, or a painter's easel for an altar with
     four superimposed tables, or a sort of pedestal bearing four
     door-lintels, for a series of four columns placed one behind
     another, of which the capitals only are visible, one above
     the other, etc. The explanation given in the text is that of
     Reuvens, who recognized the Didû as a symbolic
     representation of the four regions of the world; and of
     Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. p. 359, note 3. According to Egyptian
     theologians, it represented the spine of Osiris, preserved
     as a relic in the town bearing the name of _Didû, Bidît_.


     1 Drawn by Boudier from a statue in green basalt found at
     Sakkarah, and now in the Gîzeh Museum.

They ascribed life to this Didû, and represented it with a somewhat
grotesque face, big cheeks, thick lips, a necklace round its throat, a
long flowing dress which hid the base of the columns beneath its folds,
and two arms bent across the breast, the hands grasping one a whip and
the other a crook, symbols of sovereign authority. This, perhaps, was
the most ancient form of Osiris; but they also represented him as a
man, and supposed him to assume the shapes of rams and bulls,[*] or
even those of water-birds, such as lapwings, herons, and cranes, which
disported themselves about the lakes of that district.[**]

     *  The ram of Mendes is sometimes Osiris, and sometimes the
     soul of Osiris. The ancients took it for a he-goat, and to
     them we are indebted for the record of its exploits.
     According to Manetho, the worship of the sacred ram is not
     older than the time of King Kaiekhos of the second dynasty.
     A Ptolemaic necropolis of sacred rams was discovered by
     Mariette at Tmai el-Amdid, in the ruins of Thmûis, and some
     of their sarcophagi are now in the Gîzeh Museum.

     **  The Bonû, the chief among these birds, is not the
     phoenix, as has so often been asserted. It is a kind of
     heron, either the _Ardea cinerea_, which is common in Egypt,
     or else some similar species.

The goddess whom we are accustomed to regard as inseparable from him,
Isis the cow, or woman with cow's horns, had not always belonged to him.
Originally she was an independent deity, dwelling at Bûto in the
midst of the ponds of Adhû. She had neither husband nor lover, but had
spontaneously conceived and given birth to a son, whom she suckled among
the reeds--a lesser Horus who was called Harsiîsît, Horus the son of
Isis, to distinguish him from Haroêris. At an early period she was
married to her neighbour Osiris, and no marriage could have been better
suited to her nature. For she personified the earth--not the earth in
general, like Sibu, with its unequal distribution of seas and mountains,
deserts and cultivated land; but the black and luxuriant plain of the
Delta, where races of men, plants, and animals increase and multiply
in ever-succeeding generations. To whom did she owe this inexhaustible
productive energy if not to her neighbour Osiris, to the Nile? The Nile
rises, overflows, lingers upon the soil; every year it is wedded to the
earth, and the earth comes forth green and fruitful from its embraces.

[Illustration: 187.jpg ISIS, WEARING THE COW-HORN HEAD-DRESS. 1]

     1 Drawn by Boudier from a green basalt statue in the Gîzeh
     Museum. Prom a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey.

The marriage of the two elements suggested that of the two divinities;
Osiris wedded Isis and adopted the young Horus. But this prolific and
gentle pair were not representative of all the phenomena of nature.
The eastern part of the Delta borders upon the solitudes of Arabia, and
although it contains several rich and fertile provinces, yet most of
these owe their existence to the arduous labour of the inhabitants,
their fertility being dependent on the daily care of man, and on his
regular distribution of the water. The moment he suspends the straggle
or relaxes his watchfulness, the desert reclaims them and overwhelms
them with sterility. Sit was the spirit of the mountain, stone and sand,
the red and arid ground as distinguished from the moist black soil of
the valley. On the body of a lion or of a dog he bore a fantastic head
with a slender curved snout, upright and square-cut ears; his cloven
tail rose stiffly behind him, springing from his loins like a fork. He
also assumed a human form, or retained the animal head only upon a man's
shoulders. He was felt to be cruel and treacherous, always ready to
shrivel up the harvest with his burning breath, and to smother Egypt
beneath a shroud of shifting sand. The contrast between this evil being
and the beneficent couple, Osiris and Isis, was striking. Nevertheless,
the theologians of the Delta soon assigned a common origin to these
rival divinities of Nile and desert, red land and black. Sibû had
begotten them, Nûît had given birth to them one after another when the
demiurge had separated her from her husband; and the days of their birth
were the days of creation.[*]

     * According to one legend which is comparatively old in
     origin, the fous* children of Nûît, and Horus her grandson,
     were born one after another, each on one of the intercalary
     days of the year. This legend was still current in the Greek

At first each of them had kept to his own half of the world. Moreover
Sit, who had begun by living alone, had married, in order that he might
be inferior to Osiris in nothing.

[Illustration: 189.jpg NEPHTHYS, AS A WAILING WOMAN. 1 and THE GOD SÎT,

     1   Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a painted wooden statuette
     in my possession, from a funeral couch found at Akhmîm. On
     her head the goddess bears the hieroglyph for her name; she
     is kneeling at the foot of the funeral couch of Osiris and
     weeps for the dead god.

     2  Bronze statuette of the XXth dynasty, encrusted with
     gold, from the Hoffmann collection: drawn by Faucher-Gudin
     from a photograph taken by Legrain in 1891. About the time
     when the worship of Sît was proscribed, one of the Egyptian
     owners of this little monument had endeavoured to alter its
     character, and to transform it into a statuette of the god
     Khnûmû. He took out the upright ears, replacing them with
     ram's horns, but made no other change. In the drawing I have
     had the later addition of the curved horns removed, and
     restored the upright ears, whose marks may still be seen
     upon the sides of the head-dress.

As a matter of fact, his companion, Nephthys, did not manifest any great
activity, and was scarcely more than an artificial counterpart of the
wife of Osiris, a second Isis who bore no children to her husband;[*]
for the sterile desert brought barrenness to her as to all that it

     *  The impersonal character of Nephthys, her artificial
     origin, and her derivation from Isis, have been pointed out
     by Maspero (_Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. pp. 362-364). The very name of the
     goddess, which means _the lady (nibît)_ of the_ mansion
     (haït)_, confirms this view.

 [Illustration: 190.jpg  PLAN  OF  THE   RUINS   OF  HELIOPOLIS. 2]

     2  Drawn by Thuillier, from the _Description de l'Egypte_
     (Atlas, Ant., vol. v. pl. 26, 1).

Yet she had lost neither the wish nor the power to bring forth, and
sought fertilization from another source. Tradition had it that she had
made Osiris drunken, drawn him to her arms without his knowledge, and
borne him a son; the child of this furtive union was the jackal Anubis.
Thus when a higher Nile overflows lands not usually covered by the
inundation, and lying unproductive for lack of moisture, the soil
eagerly absorbs the water, and the germs which lay concealed in the
ground burst forth into life. The gradual invasion of the domain of
Sît by Osiris marks the beginning of the strife. Sit rebels against the
wrong of which he is the victim, involuntary though it was; he surprises
and treacherously slays his brother, drives Isis into temporary
banishment among her marshes, and reigns over the kingdom of Osiris
as well as over his own. But his triumph is short-lived. Horus, having
grown up, takes arms against him, defeats him in many encounters, and
banishes him in his turn. The creation of the world had brought the
destroying and the life-sustaining gods face to face: the history of the
world is but the story of their rivalries and warfare.

None of these conceptions alone sufficed to explain the whole mechanism
of creation, nor the part which the various gods took in it. The priests
of Heliopolis appropriated them all, modified some of their details
and eliminated others, added several new personages, and thus finally
constructed a complete cosmogony, the elements of which were learnedly
combined so as to correspond severally with the different operations by
which the world had been evoked out of chaos and gradually brought to
its present state. Heliopolis was never directly involved in the great
revolutions of political history; but no city ever originated so many
mystic ideas and consequently exercised so great an influence upon the
development of civilization.[*]

     *  By its inhabitants it was accounted older  than any
     other  city  of Egypt.


     2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Béato of a
     bas-relief in the temple of Seti I. at Abydos. The two gods
     are conducting King Ramses II., here identified with Osiris,
     towards the goddess Hâthor.

It was a small town built on the plain not far from the Nile at the apex
of the Delta, and surrounded by a high wall of mud bricks whose remains
could still be seen at the beginning of the century, but which have now
almost completely disappeared.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin. The open lotus-flower, with a bud
     on either side, stands upon the usual sign for any water-
     basin. Here the sign represents the Nû, that dark watery
     abyss from which the lotus sprang on the morning of
     creation, and whereon it is still supposed to bloom.

One obelisk standing in the midst of the open plain, a few waste mounds
of débris, scattered blocks, and two or three lengths of crumbling wall,
alone mark the place where once the city stood. Ka was worshipped there,
and the Greek name of Heliopolis is but the translation of that which
was given to it by the priests--Pi-ra, City of the Sun. Its principal
temple, the "Mansion of the Prince," rose from about the middle of the
enclosure, and sheltered, together with the god himself, those animals
in which he became incarnate: the bull Mnevis, and sometimes the Phoenix.
According to an old legend, this wondrous bird appeared in Egypt only
once in five hundred years. It is born and lives in the depths of
Arabia, but when its father dies it covers the body with a layer of
myrrh, and flies at utmost speed to the temple of Helio-polis, there to
bury it.[*]

     *  The Phoenix is not the _Bonû_ (cf. p. 186, note 2), but a
     fabulous bird derived from the golden sparrow-hawk, which
     was primarily a form of Haroêris, and of the sun-gods in
     second place only. On the authority of his Heliopolitan
     guides, Herodotus tells us (ii. 83) that in shape and size
     the phoenix resembled the eagle, and this statement alone
     should have sufficed to prevent any attempt at identifying
     it with the Bonû, which is either a heron or a lapwing.


     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a water-colour published by
     Lepsius, _Denkm_., i. 56. The view is taken from the midst
     of the ruins at the foot of the obelisk of Usirtasen.    A
     little stream runs in the foreground, and passes through a
     muddy pool; to right and left are mounds of ruins, which
     were then considerable, but have since been partially razed.
     In the distance Cairo rises against the south-west.

In the beginning, Râ was the sun itself, whose fires appear to be
lighted every morning in the east and to be extinguished at evening
in the west; and to the people such he always remained. Among the
theologians there was considerable difference of opinion on the point.
Some held the disk of the sun to be the body which the god assumes when
presenting himself for the adoration of his worshippers. Others affirmed
that it rather represented his active and radiant soul. Finally, there
were many who defined it as one of his forms of being--_khopriû_--one of
his self-manifestations, without presuming to decide whether it was his
body or his soul which he deigned to reveal to human eyes; but whether
soul or body, all agreed that the sun's disk had existed in the Nû
before creation. But how could it have lain beneath the primordial ocean
without either drying up the waters or being extinguished by them? At
this stage the identification of Râ with Horus and his right eye served
the purpose of the theologians admirably: the god needed only to have
closed his eyelid in order to prevent his fires from coming in contact
with the water.[*]

     * This is clearly implied in the expression so often used by
     the sacred writers of Ancient Egypt in reference to the
     appearance of the sun and his first act at the time of
     creation: "_Thou openest the two eyes_, and earth is flooded
     with rays of light."

He was also said to have shut up his disk within a lotus-bud, whose
folded petals had safely protected it. The flower had opened on the
morning of the first day, and from it the god had sprung suddenly as
a child wearing the solar disk upon his head. But all theories led the
theologians to distinguish two periods, and as it were two beings in
the existence of supreme deity: a pre-mundane sun lying inert within the
bosom of the dark waters, and our living and life-giving sun.


     1 Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger of an
     outer wall of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. Harmakhis grants
     years and festivals to the Pharaoh Seti I., who kneels
     before him, and is presented by the lioness-headed goddess
     Sokhît, here described as a magician--_Oîrît hilcaû_.

One division of the Heliopolitan school retained the use of traditional
terms and images in reference to these Sun-gods. To the first it left
the human form, and the title of Râ, with the abstract sense of creator,
deriving the name from the verb _râ_, which means to give. For
the second it kept the form of the sparrow-hawk and the name of
Harma-khûîti--Horus in the two horizons--which clearly denoted his
function;[*] and it summed up the idea of the sun as a whole in the
single name of Râ-Harmakhûîti, and in a single image in which the
hawk-head of Horus was grafted upon the human body of Râ. The other
divisions of the school invented new names for new conceptions. The sun
existing before the world they called Creator--_Tûmû, Atûmû_ [**]--and
our earthly sun they called _Khopri_--He who is.

     *  Harmakhûîti is Horus, the sky of the two horizons; _i.e._
     the sky of the daytime, and the night sky. When the
     celestial Horus was confounded with Râ, and became the sun
     (cf. p. 133), he naturally also became the sun of the two
     horizons, the sun by day, and the sun by night.

     **  E. de Rouge, _Études sur le Rituel funéraire_, p. 76:
     "His name may be connected with two radicals. Tem is a
     negation; it may be taken to mean _the Inapproachable One,
     the Unknown_ (as in Thebes, where _Aman_ means mystery).
     Atûm is, in fact, described as 'existing alone in the
     abyss,' before the appearance of light. It was in this time
     of darkness that Atûm performed the first act of creation,
     and this allows of our also connecting his name with the
     Coptic tamio, _creare_. Atûm was also the prototype of man
     (in Coptic tme, _homo_), and becomes a perfect 'tûm' after
     his resurrection." Rugsch would rather explain _Tûmû_ as
     meaning _the Perfect One, the Complete_. E. de Rougé's
     philological derivations are no longer admissible; but his
     explanation of the name corresponds so well with the part
     played by the god that I fail to see how that can be

Tûmû was a man crowned and clothed with the insignia of supreme power, a
true king of gods, majestic and impassive as the Pharaohs who succeeded
each other upon the throne of Egypt. The conception of Khopri as a disk
enclosing a scarabæus, or a man with a scarabous upon his head, or a
scarabus-headed mummy, was suggested by the accidental alliteration of
his name and that of Khopirrû, the scarabæus. The difference between
the possible forms of the god was so slight as to be eventually
lost altogether. His names were grouped by twos and threes in every
conceivable way, and the scarabæus of Khopri took its place upon the
head of Râ, while the hawk headpiece was transferred from the shoulders
of Harmakhûîti to those of Tûmû. The complex beings resulting from these
combinations, Râ-Tûmû, Atûmû-Râ, Râ-Tûmû-Khopri, Râ-Harmakhûîti-Tûmû,
Tûm-Harmakhûîti-Khopri, never attained to any pronounced individuality.

[Illustration: 198.jpg KHOPRI, IN HIS BARK]

They were as a rule simple duplicates of the feudal god, names rather
than persons, and though hardly taken for one another indiscriminately,
the distinctions between them had reference to mere details of their
functions and attributes. Hence arose the idea of making these gods into
embodiments of the main phases in the life of the sun during the day
and throughout the year. Râ symbolized the sun of springtime and before
sunrise, Harmakhûîti the summer and the morning sun, Atûmû the sun of
autumn and of afternoon, Khopri that of winter and of night. The people
of Heliopolis accepted the new names and the new forms presented for
their worship, but always subordinated them to their beloved Râ. For
them Râ never ceased to be the god of the nome; while Atûmû remained the
god of the theologians, and was invoked by them, the people preferred
Râ. At Thinis and at Sebennytos Anhûri incurred the same fate as befell
Râ at Heliopolis. After he had been identified with the sun, the similar
identification of Shû inevitably followed. Of old, Anhûri and Shû were
twin gods, incarnations of sky and earth. They were soon but one god in
two persons--the god Anhûri-Shû, of which the one half under the title
of Auhûri represented, like Atûmû, the primordial being; and Shû, the
other half, became, as his name indicates, the creative sun-god who
upholds (_shû_) the sky.

Tûrnû then, rather than Râ, was placed by the Heliopolitan priests at
the head of their cosmogony as supreme creator and governor. Several
versions were current as to how he had passed from inertia into action,
from the personage of Tûmû into that of Râ. According to the version
most widely received, he had suddenly cried across the waters, "Come
unto me!"[*] and immediately the mysterious lotus had unfolded its
petals, and Râ had appeared at the edge of its open cup as a disk,
a newborn child, or a disk-crowned sparrow-hawk; this was probably a
refined form of a ruder and earlier tradition, according to which it
was upon Râ himself that the office had devolved of separating Sibû from
Nûît, for the purpose of constructing the heavens and the earth.

     * It was on this account that the Egyptians named the first
     day of the year the _Day of Come-unto-me!_

But it was doubtless felt that so unseemly an act of intervention was
beneath the dignity even of an inferior form of the suzerain god; Shû
was therefore borrowed for the purpose from the kindred cult of Anhûri,
and at Heliopolis, as at Sebennytos, the office was entrusted to him
of seizing the sky-goddess and raising her with outstretched arms. The
violence suffered by Nûît at the hands of Shû led to a connexion of the
Osirian dogma of Mendes with the solar dogma of Sebennytos, and thus the
tradition describing the creation of the world was completed by another,
explaining its division into deserts and fertile lands. Sîbû, hitherto
concealed beneath the body of his wife, was now exposed to the sun;
Osiris and Sit, Isis and Nephthys, were born, and, falling from the sky,
their mother, on to the earth, their father, they shared the surface of
the latter among themselves. Thus the Heliopolitan doctrine recognized
three principal events in the creation of the universe: the dualization
of the supreme god and the breaking forth of light, the raising of the
sky and the laying bare of the earth, the birth of the Nile and the
allotment of the soil of Egypt, all expressed as the manifestations
of successive deities. Of these deities, the latter ones already
constituted a family of father, mother, and children, like human
families. Learned theologians availed themselves of this example to
effect analogous relationships between the rest of the gods, combining
them all into one line of descent. As Atûmû-Râ could have no fellow, he
stood apart in the first rank, and it was decided that Shû should be
his son, whom he had formed out of himself alone, on the first day of
creation, by the simple intensity of his own virile energy. Shû, reduced
to the position of divine son, had in his turn begotten Sibû and Nûît,
the two deities which he separated. Until then he had not been supposed
to have any wife, and he also might have himself brought his own progeny
into being; but lest a power of spontaneous generation equal to that
of the demiurge should be ascribed to him, he was married, and the wife
found for him was Tafnûît, his twin sister, born in the same way as
he was born. This goddess, invented for the occasion, was never fully
alive, and remained, like Nephthys, a theological entity rather than a
real person. The texts describe her as the pale reflex of her husband.

[Illustration: 201.jpg THE TWIN LIONS, SHÛ AND TAFNÛÎT. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a vignette in the papyrus of
     Ani in the British Museum, published by Lepage-Renouf in the
     _Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology_, vol.
     xi., 1889-90, pp. 26-28. The inscription above the lion on
     the right reads _safu_, "yesterday;" the other, _dûaû_,
     "this morning."

Together with him she upholds the sky, and every morning receives
the newborn sun as it emerges from the mountain of the east; she is a
lioness when Shû is a lion, a woman when he is a man, a lioness-headed
woman if he is a lion-headed man; she is angry when he is angry,
appeased when he is appeased; she has no sanctuary wherein he is not
worshipped. In short, the pair made one being in two bodies, or, to use
the Egyptian expression, "one soul in its two twin bodies."

Hence we see that the Heliopolitans proclaimed the creation to be the
work of the sun-god, Atûmû-Râ, and of the four pairs of deities who were
descended from him. It was really a learned variant of the old doctrine
that the universe was composed of a sky-god, Horus, supported by his
four children and their four pillars: in fact, the four sons of the
Heliopolitan cosmogony, Shû and Sibû, Osiris and Sit, were occasionally
substituted for the four older gods of the "houses" of the world. This
being premised, attention must be given to the important differences
between the two systems. At the outset, instead of appearing
contemporaneously upon the scene, like the four children of Horus, the
four Heliopolitan gods were deduced one from another, and succeeded each
other in the order of their birth. They had not that uniform attribute
of supporter, associating them always with one definite function, but
each of them felt himself endowed with faculties and armed with special
powers required by his condition. Ultimately they took to themselves
goddesses, and thus the total number of beings working in different ways
at the organization of the universe was brought up to nine. Hence they
were called by the collective name of the Ennead, the Nine gods--_paûit
nûtîrû_,[*]--and the god at their head was entitled _Paûîti_, the god of
the Ennead.

     * The first Egyptologists confounded the sign used in
     writing _paûît_ with the sign _kh_, and the word _khet,
     other_. E. de Rougé was the first to determine its phonetic
     value: "it should be read Paû, and designates a body of
     gods." Shortly afterwards Beugsch proved that "the group of
     gods invoked by E. de Rougé must have consisted of nine "--
     of an Ennead. This explanation was not at first admitted
     either by Lepsius or by Mariette, who had proposed a mystic
     interpretation of the word in his _Mémoire sur la mère
     d'Apis_, or by E. de Rougé, or by Chabas. The interpretation
     a _Nine_, an _Ennead_, was not frankly adopted until later,
     and more especially after the discovery of the Pyramid
     texts; to-day, it is the only meaning admitted. Of course
     the Egyptian Ennead has no other connection than that of
     name with the Enneads of the Neo-Platonists.

When creation was completed, its continued existence was ensured by
countless agencies with whose operation the persons of the Ennead were
not at leisure to concern themselves, but had ordained auxiliaries
to preside over each of the functions essential to the regular and
continued working of all things. The theologians of Heliopolis selected
eighteen from among the innumerable divinities of the feudal cults of
Egypt, and of these they formed two secondary Enneads, who were regarded
as the offspring of the Ennead of the creation. The first of the two
secondary Enneads, generally known as the Minor Ennead, recognized
as chief Harsiesis, the son of Osiris. Harsiesis was originally an
earth-god who had avenged the assassination of his father and the
banishment of his mother by Sit; that is, he had restored fulness to the
Nile and fertility to the Delta. When Harsiesis was incorporated into
the solar religions of Heliopolis, his filiation was left undisturbed
as being a natural link between the two Enneads, but his personality
was brought into conformity with the new surroundings into which he was
transplanted. He was identified with Râ through the intervention of the
older Horus, Haroêris-Harmakhis, and the Minor Ennead, like the Great
Ennead, began with a sun-god. This assimilation was not pushed so far
as to invest the younger Horus with the same powers as his fictitious
ancestor: he was the sun of earth, the everyday sun, while Atûmû-Râ was
still the sun pre-mundane and eternal. Our knowledge of the eight other
deities of the Minor Ennead is very imperfect.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Wilkinson's _Manners and
     Customs_, 2nd edit., vol. iii. p. 221, pl. xlviii.

We see only that these were the gods who chiefly protected the sun-god
against its enemies and helped it to follow its regular course. Thus
Harhûditi, the Horus of Edfû, spear in hand, pursues the hippopotami
or serpents which haunt the celestial waters and menace the god. The
progress of the Sun-bark is controlled by the incantations of Thot,
while Uapûaîtû, the dual jackal-god of Siufc, guides, and occasionally
tows it along the sky from south to north. The third Ennead would seem
to have included among its members Anubis the jackal, and the four
funerary genii, the children of Horus--Hapi, Amsît, Tiûmaûtf, Kabhsonûf;
it further appears as though its office was the care and defence of
the dead sun, the sun by night, as the second Ennead had charge of
the living sun. Its functions were so obscure and apparently so
insignificant as compared with those exercised by the other Enneads,
that the theologians did not take the trouble either to represent it
or to enumerate its persons. They invoked it as a whole, after the
two others, in those formulas in which they called into play all the
creative and preservative forces of the universe; but this was rather as
a matter of conscience and from love of precision than out of any true
deference. At the initial impulse of the lord of Heliopolis, the three
combined Enneads started the world and kept it going, and gods whom
they had not incorporated were either enemies to be fought with, or mere

The doctrine of the Heliopolitan Ennead acquired an immediate and a
lasting popularity. It presented such a clear scheme of creation, and
one whose organization was so thoroughly in accordance with the spirit
of tradition, that the various sacerdotal colleges adopted it one after
another, accommodating it to the exigencies of local patriotism. Each
placed its own nome-god at the head of the Ennead as "god of the Nine,"
"god of the first time," creator of heaven and earth, sovereign ruler
of men, and lord of all action. As there was the Ennead of Atûmû at
Heliopolis, so there was that of Anhûri at Thinis and at Sebennytos;
that of Minû at Coptos and at Panopolis; that of Haroêris at Edfû; that
of Sobkhû at Ombos; and, later, that of Phtah at Memphis and of Amon
at Thebes. Nomes which worshipped a goddess had no scruples whatever in
ascribing to her the part played by Atûmû, and in crediting her with the
spontaneous maternity of Shû and Tafnûît.

Illustration: 206.jpg [PLAN OF THE RUINS OP HERMOPOLIS MAGNA. 1]

     1  Plan drawn by Thuillier, from the _Description de l'
     Egypte_, Ant., vol. iv. pl. 50.

Nît was the source and ruler of the Ennead of Saïs, Isis of that of
Bûto, and Hâthor of that of Denderah.[**] Few of the sacerdotal colleges
went beyond the substitution of their own feudal gods for Atûmû.
Provided that the god of each nome held the rank of supreme lord, the
rest mattered little, and the local theologians made no change in the
order of the other agents of creation, their vanity being unhurt even by
the lower offices assigned by the Heliopolitan tradition to such powers
as Osiris, Sibû, and Sit, who were known and worshipped throughout the
whole country.

     **  On the Ennead of Hâthor at Denderah, see Mariette,
     Denderah, p. 80., et seq., of the text. The fact that Nît,
     Isis, and, generally speaking, all the feudal goddesses,
     were the chiefs of their local Enneads, is proved by the
     epithets applied to them, which represent them as having
     independent creative power by virtue of their own unaided
     force and energy, like the god at the head of the
     Heliopolitan Ennead.

The theologians of Hermopolis alone declined to borrow the new system
just as it stood, and in all its parts. Hermopolis had always been one
of the ruling cities of Middle Egypt. Standing alone in the midst of the
land lying between the Eastern and Western Mies, it had established upon
each of the two great arms of the river a port and a custom-house, where
all boats travelling either up or down stream paid toll on passing. Not
only the corn and natural products of the valley and of the Delta, but
also goods from distant parts of Africa brought to Siûfc by Soudanese
caravans, helped to fill the treasury of Hermopolis. Thot, the god of
the city, represented as ibis or baboon, was essentially a moon-god, who
measured time, counted the days, numbered the months, and recorded the
years. Lunar divinities, as we know, are everywhere supposed to exercise
the most varied powers: they command the mysterious forces of the
universe; they know the sounds, words, and gestures by which those
forces are put in motion, and not content with using them for their own
benefit, they also teach to their worshippers the art of employing them.

[Illustration: 208.jpg THE IBIS THOT. 1; and THE CYNOCEPHALOUS THOT. 2]

     1   Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from an enamelled pottery figure
     from Coptos, now in my possession. Neck, feet, and tail are
     in blue enamel, the rest is in green. The little personage
     represented as squatting beneath the beak is Mâit, the
     goddess of truth, and the ally of Thot. The ibis was
     furnished with a ring for suspending it; this has been
     broken off, but traces of it may still be seen at the back
     of the head.

     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a green enamelled pottery
     figure in my possession (Saïte period).

Thot formed no exception to this rule. He was lord of the voice, master
of words and of books, possessor or inventor of those magic writings
which nothing in heaven, on earth, or in Hades can withstand.[***]

     ***  Cf. in the tale of Satni (Maspero, _Contes populaires
     de l'Ancienne Egypte_, 2nd edit., p. 175) the description of
     the book which Thot has himself written with his own hand,
     and which makes its possessor the equal of the gods. "The
     two formulas which are written therein, if thou recitest the
     first thou shalt charm heaven, earth, Hades, the mountains,
     the waters; thou shalt know the birds of the sky and the
     reptiles, how many soever they be; thou shalt see the fish
     of the deep, for a divine power will cause them to rise to
     the surface of the water.    If thou readest the second
     formula, even although thou shouldest be in the tomb, thou
     shalt again take the form which was thine upon earth; thou
     shalt even see the sun rising in heaven, and his cycle of
     gods, and the moon in the form wherein it appeareth."

He had discovered the incantations which evoke and control the gods; he
had transcribed the texts and noted the melodies of these incantations;
he recited them with that true intonation--_mâ khrôû_--which renders
them all-powerful, and every one, whether god or man, to whom he
imparted them, and whose voice he made true--_smâ khrôû_--became like
himself master of the universe. He had accomplished the creation not
by muscular effort to which the rest of the cosmogonical gods primarily
owed their birth, but by means of formulas, or even of the voice alone,
"the first time" when he awoke in the Nû. In fact, the articulate word
and the voice were believed to be the most potent of creative forces,
not remaining immaterial on issuing from the lips, but condensing, so
to speak, into tangible substances; into bodies which were themselves
animated by creative life and energy; into gods and goddesses who lived
or who created in their turn. By a very short phrase Tûmû had called
forth the gods who order all things; for his "Come unto me!" uttered
with a loud voice upon the day of creation, had evoked the sun from
within the lotus. Thot had opened his lips, and the voice which
proceeded from him had become an entity; sound had solidified into
matter, and by a simple emission of voice the four gods who preside over
the four houses of the world had come forth alive from his mouth without
bodily effort on his part, and without spoken evocation. Creation by the
voice is almost as great a refinement of thought as the substitution
of creation by the word for creation by muscular effort. In fact, sound
bears the same relation to words that the whistle of a quartermaster
bears to orders for the navigation of a ship transmitted by a speaking
trumpet; it simplifies speech, reducing it as it were to a pure
abstraction. At first it was believed that the creator had made the
world with a word, then that he had made it by sound; but the further
conception of his having made it by thought does not seem to have
occurred to the theologians. It was narrated at Hermopolis, and the
legend was ultimately universally accepted, even by the Heliopolitans,
that the separation of Nûît and Sibû had taken place at a certain spot
on the site of the city where Sibû had ascended the mound on which
the feudal temple was afterwards built, in order that he might better
sustain the goddess and uphold the sky at the proper height. The
conception of a Creative Council of five gods had so far prevailed at
Hermopolis that from this fact the city had received in remote antiquity
the name of the "House of the Five;" its temple was called the "Abode of
the Five" down to a late period in Egyptian history, and its prince,
who was the hereditary high priest of Thot, reckoned as the first of his
official titles that of "Great One of the House of the Five."

The four couples who had helped Atûmû were identified with the four
auxiliary gods of Thot, and changed the council of Five into a Great
Hermopolitan Ennead, but at the cost of strange metamorphoses. However
artificially they had been grouped about Atûmû, they had all preserved
such distinctive characteristics as prevented their being confounded one
with another. When the universe which they had helped to build up
was finally seen to be the result of various operations demanding a
considerable manifestation of physical energy, each god was required to
preserve the individuality necessary for the production of such effects
as were expected of him. They could not have existed and carried on
their work without conforming to the ordinary conditions of humanity;
being born one of another, they were bound to have paired with living
goddesses as capable of bringing forth their children as they were of
begetting them. On the other hand, the four auxiliary gods of Hermopolis
exercised but one means of action--the voice. Having themselves come
forth from the master's mouth, it was by voice that they created and
perpetuated the world. Apparently they could have done without goddesses
had marriage not been imposed upon them by their identification with the
corresponding gods of the Heliopolitan Ennead; at any rate, their wives
had but a show of life, almost destitute of reality. As these four gods
worked after the manner of their master, Thot, so they also bore his
form and reigned along with him as so many baboons. When associated with
the lord of Hermopolis, the eight divinities of Heliopolis assumed the
character and the appearance of the four Hermopolitan gods in whom they
were merged. They were often represented as eight baboons surrounding
the supreme baboon, or as four pairs of gods and goddesses without
either characteristic attributes or features; or, finally, as four pairs
of gods and goddesses, the gods being, as far as we are able to judge,
the couple Nû-Nûît answers to Shû-Tafnûît; Hahû-Hehît to Sibû and Nûîfc;
Kakû-Kakît to Osiris and Isis; Ninû-Ninît to Sit and Nephthys. There
was seldom any occasion to invoke them separately; they were addressed
collectively as the Eight--_Khmûnû_--and it was on their account that
Hermopolis was named _Khmûnû_, the City of the Eight. Ultimately they
were deprived of the little individual life still left to them, and were
fused into a single being to whom the texts refer as Khomninû, the god

[Illustration: 212.jpg THE HERMOPOLITAN OGDOAD. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a photograph by Béato. Cf.
     Lepsius, Denkm., iv. pl. 66 c. In this illustration I have
     combined! the two extremities of a great scene at Philæ, in
     which the _Eight_, divided into two groups of four, frog-
     headed men, and the goddesses serpent-headed women. Morning
     and evening  do they sing;   and the mysterious hymns
     wherewith they salute the rising and the setting sun ensure
     the continuity of his course.    Their names did not survive
     their  metamorphoses;   each  pair had no longer more than a
     single name, the termination of each name varying according
     as a god or a goddess was intended:--Nu  and Nûît, Hehû and
     Hehît, Kakû and Kakît, Ninû and Ninît, the god One and the
     god Eight, the Monad and the Ogdoad. The latter had scarcely
     more than a theoretical existence, and was generally
     absorbed into the person of the former. Thus the theologians
     of Hermopolis gradually disengaged the unity of their feudal
     god from the multiplicity of the cosmogonie deities.

[Illustration: 213.jpg AMON. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a bronze statuette found at
     Thebes, and now in my possession.

By degrees the Ennead of Thot was thus reduced to two terms: take part
in the adoration of the king. According to a custom common towards the
Græco-Roman period, the sculptor has made the feet of his gods like
jackals' heads; it is a way of realizing the well-known metaphor which
compares a rapid runner to the jackal roaming around Egypt.

As the sacerdotal colleges had adopted the Heliopolitan doctrine, so
they now generally adopted that of Hermopolis: Amon, for instance, being
made to preside indifferently over the eight baboons and over the four
independent couples of the primitive Ennead. In both cases the process
of adaptation was absolutely identical, and would have been attended by
no difficulty whatever, had the divinities to whom it was applied only
been without family; in that case, the one needful change for each city
would have been that of a single name in the Heliopolitan list, thus
leaving the number of the Ennead unaltered. But since these deities had
been turned into triads they could no longer be primarily regarded as
simple units, to be combined with the elements of some one or other of
the Enneads without preliminary arrangement. The two companions whom
each had chosen had to be adopted also, and the single Thot, or single
Atûmû, replaced by the three patrons of the nome, thus changing the
traditional nine into eleven. Happily, the constitution of the triad
lent itself to all these adaptations. We have seen that the father
and the son became one and the same personage, whenever it was thought
desirable. We also know that one of the two parents always so far
predominated as almost to efface the other. Sometimes it was the goddess
who disappeared behind her husband; sometimes it was the god whose
existence merely served to account for the offspring of the goddess, and
whose only title to his position consisted in the fact that he was her
husband. Two personages thus closely connected were not long in blending
into one, and were soon defined as being two faces, the masculine and
feminine aspects of a single being. On the one hand, the father was one
with the son, and on the other he was one with the mother. Hence the
mother was one with the son as with the father, and the three gods of
the triad were resolved into one god in three persons.

[Illustration: 215.jpg THE THEBAN ENNEAD]

     1 This Ennead consists of fourteen members--Montû,
     duplicating Atûmû; the four usual couples; then Horus, the
     son of Isis and Osiris, together with his associate deities,
     Hâthor, Tanu, and Anît.

Thanks to this subterfuge, to put a triad at the head of an Ennead was
nothing more than a roundabout way of placing a single god there: the
three persons only counted as one, and the eleven names only amounted
to the nine canonical divinities. Thus, the Theban Ennead of
Amon-Maut-Khonsû, Shû, Tafnûît, Sibû, Nûît, Osiris, Isis, Sît, and
Nephthys, is, in spite of its apparent irregularity, as correct as the
typical Ennead itself. In such Enneads Isis is duplicated by goddesses
of like nature, such as Hâthor, Selkît, Taninît, and yet remains but
one, while Osiris brings in his son Horus, who gathers about himself
all such gods as play the part of divine son in other triads. The
theologians had various methods of procedure for keeping the number of
persons in an Ennead at nine, no matter how many they might choose to
embrace in it. Supernumeraries were thrown in like the "shadows" at
Roman suppers, whom guests would bring without warning to their host,
and whose presence made not the slightest difference either in the
provision for the feast, or in the arrangements for those who had been
formally invited.

Thus remodelled at all points, the Ennead of Heliopolis was readily
adjustable to sacerdotal caprices, and even profited by the facilities
which, the triad afforded for its natural expansion. In time the
Heliopolitan version of the origin of Shû-Tafnûît must have appeared too
primitively barbarous. Allowing for the licence of the Egyptians during
Pharaonic times, the concept of the spontaneous emission whereby Atûrnû
had produced his twin children was characterized by a superfluity of
coarseness which it was at least unnecessary to employ, since by
placing the god in a triad, this double birth could be duly explained
in conformity with the ordinary laws of life. The solitary Atûrnû of the
more ancient dogma gave place to Atûrnû the husband and father. He had,
indeed, two wives, Iûsâsît and Nebthotpît, but their individualities
were so feebly marked that no one took the trouble to choose between
them; each passed as the mother of Shû and Tafnûîfc. This system of
combination, so puerile in its ingenuity, was fraught with the gravest
consequences to the history of Egyptian religions. Shu having been
transformed into the divine son of the Heliopolitan triad, could
henceforth be assimilated with the divine sons of all those triads which
took the place of Tûmû at the heads of provincial Enneads. Thus we find
that Horus the son of Isis at Bûto, Arihosnofir the son of Nit at Sais,
Khnûmû the son of Hâthor at Esneh, were each in turn identified with
Shû the son of Atûrnû, and lost their individualities in his. Sooner
or later this was bound to result in bringing all the triads closer
together, and in their absorption into one another. Through constant
reiteration of the statement that the divine sons of the triads were
identical with Shû, as being in the second rank of the Ennead, the idea
arose that this was also the case in triads unconnected with Enneads; in
other terms, that the third person in any family of gods was everywhere
and always Shû under a different name. It having been finally admitted
in the sacerdotal colleges that Tûmû and Shû, father and son, were one,
all the divine sons were, therefore, identical with Tûmû, the father
of Shû, and as each divine son was one with his parents, it inevitably
followed that these parents themselves were identical with Tûmû.
Reasoning in this way, the Egyptians naturally tended towards that
conception of the divine oneness to which the theory of the Hermopolitan
Ogdoad was already leading them. In fact, they reached it, and the
monuments show us that in comparatively early times the theologians were
busy uniting in a single person the prerogatives which their ancestors
had ascribed to many different beings. But this conception of deity
towards which their ideas were converging has nothing in common with the
conception of the God of our modern religions and philosophies. No god
of the Egyptians was ever spoken of simply as God. Tûmû was the "one
and only god"--_nûtir ûâû ûâîti_--at Heliopolis; Anhûri-Shû was also the
"one and only god" at Sebennytos and at Thinis. The unity of Atûmû did
not interfere with that of Anhûri-Shû, but each of these gods, although
the "sole" deity in his own domain, ceased to be so in the domain of the
other. The feudal spirit, always alert and jealous, prevented the higher
dogma which was dimly apprehended in the temples from triumphing over
local religions and extending over the whole land. Egypt had as many
"sole" deities as she had large cities, or even important temples; she
never accepted the idea of the sole God, "beside whom there is none

[Illustration: 218.jpg TAILPIECE]

[Illustration: 219.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

[Illustration: 220.jpg PAGE IMAGE]



_The Egyptians claim to Be the most ancient of peoples: traditions
concerning the creation of man and of animals--The Heliopolitan Enneads
the framework of the divine dynasties--Râ, the first King of Egypt, and
his fabulous history: he allows himself to be duped and robbed by Isis,
destroys rebellious men, and ascends into heaven.

The legend of Shu and Sibil--The reign of Osiris Onnophris and of Isis:
they civilize Egypt and the world--Osiris, slain by Sit, is entombed by
Isis and avenged by Horus--The wars of Typhon and of Horus: peace, and
the division of Egypt between the two gods.

The Osirian embalmment; the kingdom of Osiris opened to the followers of
Horus--The Book of the Dead--The journeying of the soul in search of the
fields of Ialû--The judgment of the soul, the negative confession--The
privileges and duties of Osirian souls--Confusion between Osirian and
Solar ideas as to the state of the dead: the dead in the hark of the
Sun--The going forth by day--The campaigns of Harmakhis against Sit.

Thot, the inventor: he reveals all sciences to men--Astronomy, stellar
tables; the year, its subdivisions, its defects, influence of
the heavenly bodies and the days upon human destiny--Magic arts;
incantations, amulets---Medicine: the vitalizing spirits, diagnosis,
treatment--Writing: ideographic, syllabic, alphabetic.

The history of Egypt as handed down by tradition: Manetho, the royal
lists, main divisions of Egyptian history--The beginnings of its early
history vague and uncertain: Menés, and the legend of Memphis--The first
three human dynasties, the two Thimie and the Memphite--Character and,
origin of the legends concerning them--The famine stela--The earliest
monuments: the step pyramid of Saqgdrah._

[Illustration: 221.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_The divine dynasties: Râ, Shû, Osiris, Sît, Horus--Thot, and the
invention of sciences and writing--Menés, and the three first human

The building up and diffusion of the doctrine of the Ennead, like the
formation of the land of Egypt, demanded centuries of sustained effort,
centuries of which the inhabitants themselves knew neither the number
nor the authentic history. When questioned as to the remote past of
their race, they proclaimed themselves the most ancient of mankind, in
comparison with whom all other races were but a mob of young children;
and they looked upon nations which denied their pretensions with such
indulgence and pity as we feel for those who doubt a well-known truth.
Their forefathers had appeared upon the banks of the Nile even before
the creator had completed his work, so eager were the gods to behold
their birth. No Egyptian disputed the reality of this right of the
firstborn, which ennobled the whole race; but if they were asked the
name of their divine father, then the harmony was broken, and each
advanced the claims of a different personage.[*] Phtah had modelled man
with his own hands;[**] Khnûmû had formed him on a potter's table.[***]

     * We know the words which Plato puts into the mouth of an
     Egyptian priest: "O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always
     children, and there is no old man who is a Greek! You are
     all young in mind; there is no opinion or tradition of
     knowledge among you which is white with age." Other nations
     disputed their priority--the Phrygians, the Medes, or rather
     the tribe of the Magi among the Medes, the Ethiopians, the
     Scythians. A cycle of legends had gathered about this
     subject, giving an account of the experiments instituted, by
     Psamtik, or other sovereigns, to find out which were right,
     Egyptians or foreigners.

     **  At Philæ and at Denderah, Phtah is represented as piling
     upon his potter's table the plastic clay from which he is
     about to make a human body, and which is somewhat wrongly
     called the egg of the world. It is really the lump of earth
     from which man came forth at his creation.

     ***  At Philas, Khnûmû calls himself "the potter who
     fashions men, the modeller of the gods." He there moulds the
     members of Osiris, the husband of the local Isis, as at
     Erment he forms the body of Harsamtaûi, or rather that of
     Ptolemy Cæsarion, the son of Julius Cæsar and the celebrated
     Cleopatra, identified with Harsamtaûi.

Râ at his first rising, seeing the earth desert and bare, had flooded it
with his rays as with a flood of tears; all living things, vegetable and
animal, and man himself, had sprung pell-mell from his eyes, and were
scattered abroad with the light over the surface of the world.[*]
Sometimes the facts were presented under a less poetic aspect. The mud
of the Nile, heated to excess by the burning sun, fermented and brought
forth the various races of men and animals by spontaneous generation,
having moulded itself into a thousand living forms. Then its procreative
power became weakened to the verge of exhaustion. Yet on the banks of
the river, in the height of summer, smaller animals might still be found
whose condition showed what had once taken place in the case of the
larger kinds. Some appeared as already fully formed, and struggling
to free themselves from the oppressive mud; others, as yet imperfect,
feebly stirred their heads and fore feet, while their hind quarters
were completing their articulation and taking shape within the matrix of

     *  With reference to the substances which proceeded from the
     eye of Râ, see the remarks of Birch, _Sur un papyrus magique
     du Musée Britannique_. By his tears (_romîtû_) Horus, or his
     eye as identified with the sun, had given birth to all men,
     Egyptians (_romîtû, rotû_), Libyans, and Asiatics, excepting
     only the negroes. The latter were born from another part of
     his body by the same means as those employed by Atûmû in the
     creation of Shû and Tafnûît.

     **  The same story is told, but with reference to rats only,
     by Pliny, by Diodorus, by Ælianus, by Macrobius, and by
     other Greek or Latin writers. Even in later times, and in
     Europe, this pretended phenomenon met with a certain degree
     of belief, as may be seen from the curious work of Marcus
     Fredericus Wendelinus, _Archipalatinus, Admiranda Nili_,
     Franco-furti, mdcxxiii., cap. xxi. pp. 157-183. In Egypt all
     the fellahîn believe in the spontaneous generation of rats
     as in an article of their creed. They have spoken to me of
     it at Thebes, at Denderah, and on the plain of Abydos; and
     Major Brown has lately noted the same thing in the Fayûm.
     The variant which he heard from the lips of the notables is
     curious, for it professes to explain why the rats who infest
     the fields in countless bands during the dry season,
     suddenly disappear at the return of the inundation; born of
     the mud and putrid water of the preceding year, to mud they
     return, and as it were dissolve at the touch of the new

It was not Râ alone whose tears were endowed with vitalizing power. All
divinities whether beneficent or malevolent, Sit as well as Osiris or
Isis, could give life by weeping; and the work of their eyes, when once
it had fallen upon earth, flourished and multiplied as vigorously as
that which came from the eyes of Râ.


     1 Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Gayet. The scene is
     taken from bas-reliefs in the temple of Luxor, where the god
     Khnûmû is seen completing his modelling of the future King
     Amenôthes III. and his double, represented as two children
     wearing the side-lock and large necklace. The first holds
     his finger to his lips, while the arms of the second swing
     at his sides.

The individual character of the creator was not without bearing upon
the nature of his creatures; good was the necessary outcome of the
good gods, evil of the evil ones; and herein lay the explanation of
the mingling of things excellent and things execrable, which is found
everywhere throughout the world. Voluntarily or involuntarily, Sit and
his partisans were the cause and origin of all that is harmful. Daily
their eyes shed upon the world those juices by which plants are made
poisonous, as well as malign influences, crime, and madness. Their
saliva, the foam which fell from their mouths during their attacks of
rage, their sweat, their blood itself, were all no less to be feared.
When any drop of it touched the earth, straightway it germinated, and
produced something strange and baleful--a serpent, a scorpion, a plant
of deadly nightshade or of henbane. But, on the other hand, the sun
was all goodness, and persons or things which it cast forth into life
infallibly partook of its benignity. Wine that maketh man glad, the bee
who works for him in the flowers secreting wax and honey, the meat and
herbs which are his food, the stuffs that clothe him, all useful things
which he makes for himself, not only emanated from the Solar Eye
of Horus, but were indeed nothing more than the Eye of Horus under
different aspects, and in his name they were presented in sacrifice. The
devout generally were of opinion that the first Egyptians, the sons and
flock of Râ, came into the world happy and perfect;[*] by degrees their
descendants had fallen from that native felicity into their present

     * In the tomb of Seti I, the words _flock of the Sun, flock
     of Râ_, are those by which the god Horus refers to men.
     Certain expressions used by Egyptian writers are in
     themselves sufficient to show that the first generations of
     men were supposed to have lived in a state of happiness and
     perfection. To the Egyptians _the times of Râ, the times of
     the god_--that is to say, the centuries immediately
     following on the creation---were the ideal age, and no good
     thing had appeared upon earth since then.

Some, on the contrary, affirmed that their ancestors were born as so
many brutes, unprovided with the most essential arts of gentle life.
They knew nothing of articulate speech, and expressed themselves by
cries only, like other animals, until the day when Thot taught them both
speech and writing.

These tales sufficed for popular edification; they provided but meagre
fare for the intelligence of the learned. The latter did not confine
their ambition to the possession of a few incomplete and contradictory
details concerning the beginnings of humanity. They wished to know the
history of its consecutive development from the very first; what manner
of life had been led by their fathers; what chiefs they had obeyed and
the names or adventures of those chiefs; why part of the nations had
left the blessed banks of the Nile and gone to settle in foreign lands;
by what stages and in what length of time those who had not emigrated
rose out of native barbarism into that degree of culture to which the
most ancient monuments bore testimony. No efforts of imagination were
needful for the satisfaction of their curiosity: the old substratum of
indigenous traditions was rich enough, did they but take the trouble
to work it out systematically, and to eliminate its most incongruous
elements. The priests of Heliopolis took this work in hand, as they had
already taken in hand the same task with regard to the myths referring
to the creation; and the Enneads provided them with a ready-made
framework. They changed the gods of the Ennead into so many kings,
determined with minute accuracy the lengths of their reigns, and
compiled their biographies from popular tales. The duality of the feudal
god supplied an admirable expedient for connecting the history of the
world with that of chaos. Tûmû was identified with Nû, and relegated to
the primordial Ocean: Râ was retained, and proclaimed the first king
of the world. He had not established his rule without difficulty. The
"Children of Defeat," beings hostile to order and light, engaged him in
fierce battles; nor did he succeed in organizing his kingdom until
he had conquered them in nocturnal combat at Hermopolis, and even at
Heliopolis itself.[*]

     * The _Children of Defeat_, in Egyptian _Mosû batashû_, or
     _Mosû batashît_, are often confounded with the followers of
     Sit, the enemies of Osiris. From the first they were
     distinct, and represented beings and forces hostile to the
     sun, with the dragon Apôpi at their head. Their defeat at
     Hermopolis corresponded to the moment when Shu, raising the
     sky above the sacred mound in that city, substituted order
     and light for chaos and darkness. This defeat is mentioned
     in chap xvii. of the _Book of the Dead_ (Naville's edition,
     vol. i. pl. xxiii. 1. 3, et seq.), in which connexion E. de
     Rougé first explained its meaning. In the same chapter of
     the _Book of the Dead_ (Naville's edition, vol. i. pis.
     xxiv., xxv., 11. 54-58), reference is also made to the
     battle by night, in Heliopolis, at the close of which Râ
     appeared in the form of a cat or lion, and beheaded the
     great serpent.

Pierced with wounds, Apôpi the serpent sank into the depths of Ocean at
the very moment when the new year began. The secondary members of the
Great Ennead, together with the Sun, formed the first dynasty, which
began with the dawn of the first day, and ended at the coming of Horus,
the son of Isis. The local schools of theology welcomed this method of
writing history as readily as they had welcomed the principle of the
Ennead itself. Some of them retained the Heliopolitan demiurge, and
hastened to associate him with their own; others completely eliminated
him in favour of the feudal divinity,--Amon at Thebes, Thot at
Hermopolis, Phtah at Memphis,--keeping the rest of the dynasty
absolutely unchanged.[*] The gods in no way compromised their prestige
by becoming incarnate and descending to earth. Since they were men of
finer nature, and their qualities, including that of miracle-working,
were human qualities raised to the highest pitch of intensity, it was
not considered derogatory to them personally to have watched over
the infancy and childhood of primeval man. The raillery in which the
Egyptians occasionally indulged with regard to them, the good-humoured
and even ridiculous _rôles_ ascribed to them in certain legends, do not
prove that they were despised, or that zeal for them had cooled. The
greater the respect of believers for the objects of their worship,
the more easily do they tolerate the taking of such liberties, and the
condescension of the members of the Ennead, far from lowering them
in the eyes of generations who came too late to live with them upon
familiar terms, only enhanced the love and reverence in which they were
held. Nothing shows this better than the history of Râ. His world was
ours in the rough; for since Shu was yet nonexistent, and Nuit still
reposed in the arms of Sibû, earth and sky were but one.[**]

     *  Thot is the chief of the Hermopolitan Ennead, and the
     titles ascribed to him by inscriptions maintaining his
     supremacy show that he also was considered to have been the
     first king. One of the Ptolemies said of himself that he
     came "as the Majesty of Thot, because he was the equal of
     Atûmû, hence the equal of Khopri, hence the equal of Râ."
     Atûmû-Khopri-Râ being the first earthly king, it follows
     that the _Majesty of Thot_, with whom Ptolemy identifies
     himself, comparing himself to the three forms of the God Râ,
     is also the first earthly king.

     **  This conception of the primitive Egyptian world is
     clearly implied in the very terms employed by the author of
     The Destruction of Men. Nuit does not rise to form the sky
     until such time as Râ thinks of bringing his reign to an
     end; that is to say, after Egypt had already been in
     existence for many centuries. In chap. xvii. of the Book of
     the Dead (Naville's edition, vol. i. pl. xxiii. 11. 3-5) it
     is stated that the reign of Râ began in the times when the
     upliftings had not yet taken place; that is to say, before
     Shu had separated Nûît from Sibû, and forcibly uplifted her
     above the body of her husband.

Nevertheless in this first attempt at a world there was vegetable,
animal, and human life. Egypt was there, all complete, with her two
chains of mountains, her Nile, her cities, the people of her nomes, and
the nomes themselves. Then the soil was more generous; the harvests,
without the labourer's toil, were higher and more abundant;[*] and when
the Egyptians of Pharaonic times wished to mark their admiration of any
person or thing, they said that the like had never been known since the
time of Râ.

     * This is an ideal in accordance with the picture drawn of
     the fields of Ialû in chap. ex. of the _Book of the Dead_
     (Naville's edition, vol. i. pis. cxxi.~ cxxiii.). As with
     the Paradise of most races, so the place of the Osirian dead
     still possessed privileges which the earth had enjoyed
     during the first years succeeding the creation; that is to
     say, under the direct rule of Râ.

It is an illusion common to all peoples; as their insatiable thirst
for happiness is never assuaged by the present, they fall back upon the
remotest past in search of an age when that supreme felicity which is
only known to them as an ideal was actually enjoyed by their ancestors.
Râ dwelt in Heliopolis, and the most ancient portion of the temple of
the city, that known as the "Mansion of the Prince"--Haït Sarû,--passed
for having been his palace. His court was mainly composed of gods and
goddesses, and they as well as he were visible to men. It contained
also men who filled minor offices about his person, prepared his food,
received the offerings of his subjects, attended to his linen and
household affairs. It was said that the _oîrû maû_--the high priest of
Râ, the _hankistît_--his high priestess, and generally speaking all the
servants of the temple of Heliopolis, were either directly descended
from members of this first household establishment of the god, or had
succeeded to their offices in unbroken succession.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the scenes represented
     upon the architraves of the pronaos at Edfû (Rosellini,
     _Monumenti del Culto_, pl. xxxviii. No. 1).

In the morning he went forth with his divine train, and, amid the
acclamations of the crowd, entered the bark in which he made his
accustomed circuit of the world, returning to his home at the end of
twelve hours after the accomplishment of his journey. He visited each
province in turn, and in each he tarried for an hour, to settle all
disputed matters, as the final judge of appeal. He gave audience to both
small and great, he decided their quarrels and adjudged their lawsuits,
he granted investiture of fiefs from the royal domains to those who
had deserved them, and allotted or confirmed to every family the income
needful for their maintenance. He pitied the sufferings of his people,
and did his utmost to alleviate them; he taught to all comers potent
formulas against reptiles and beasts of prey, charms to cast out evil
spirits, and the best recipes for preventing illness. His incessant
bounties left him at length with only one of his talismans: the name
given to him by his father and mother at his birth, which they had
revealed to him alone, and which he kept concealed within his bosom lest
some sorcerer should get possession of it to use for the furtherance of
his evil spells.

But old age came on, and infirmities followed; the body of Râ grew bent,
"his mouth trembled, his slaver trickled down to earth and his
saliva dropped upon the ground." Isis, who had hitherto been a mere
woman-servant in the household of the Pharaoh, conceived the project of
stealing his secret from him, "that she might possess the world and make
herself a goddess by the name of the august god." Force would have been
unavailing; all enfeebled as he was by reason of his years, none was
strong enough to contend successfully against him. But Isis "was a woman
more knowing in her malice than millions of men, clever among millions
of the gods, equal to millions of spirits, to whom as unto Râ nothing
was unknown either in heaven or upon earth." She contrived a most
ingenious stratagem. When man or god was struck down by illness, the
only chance of curing him lay in knowing his real name, and thereby
adjuring the evil being that tormented him. Isis determined to cast a
terrible malady upon Râ, concealing its cause from him; then to offer
her services as his nurse, and by means of his sufferings to extract
from him the mysterious word indispensable to the success of the
exorcism. She gathered up mud impregnated with the divine saliva, and
moulded of it a sacred serpent which she hid in the dust of the road.
Suddenly bitten as he was setting out upon his daily round, the god
cried out aloud, "his voice ascended into heaven and his Nine called:
'What is it? what is it?' and his gods: 'What is the matter? what is the
matter?' but he could make them no answer so much did his lips tremble,
his limbs shake, and the venom take hold upon his flesh as the Nile
seizeth upon the land which it invadeth." Presently he came to himself,
and succeeded in describing his sensations. "Something painful hath
stung me; my heart perceiveth it, yet my two eyes see it not; my hand
hath not wrought it, nothing that I have made knoweth it what it is, yet
have I never tasted suffering like unto it, and there is no pain that
may overpass it.... Fire it is not, water it is not, yet is my heart in
flames, my flesh trembleth, all my members are full of shiverings born
of breaths of magic. Behold! let there be brought unto me children of
the gods of beneficent words, who know the power of their mouths, and
whose science reacheth unto heaven." They came, these children of the
gods, all with their books of magic. There came Isis with her sorcery,
her mouth full of life-giving breaths, her recipe for the destruction of
pain, her words which pour life into breathless throats, and she said:
"What is it? what is it, O father of the gods? May it not be that a
serpent hath wrought this suffering in thee; that one of thy children
hath lifted up his head against thee? Surely he shall be overthrown by
beneficent incantations, and I will make him to retreat at the sight
of thy rays." On learning the cause of his torment, the Sun-god is
terrified, and begins to lament anew: "I, then, as I went along the
ways, travelling through my double land of Egypt and over my mountains,
that I might look upon that which I have made, I was bitten by a serpent
that I saw not. Fire it is not, water it is not, yet am I colder than
water, I burn more than fire, all my members stream with sweat, I
tremble, mine eye is not steady, no longer can I discern the sky, drops
roll from my face as in the season of summer." Isis proposes her remedy,
and cautiously asks him his ineffable name. But he divines her trick,
and tries to evade it by an enumeration of his titles. He takes the
universe to witness that he is called "Khopri in the morning, Râ at
noon, Tûmû in the evening." The poison did not recede, but steadily
advanced, and the great god was not eased. Then Isis said to Râ: "Thy
name was not spoken in that which thou hast said. Tell it to me and the
poison will depart; for he liveth upon whom a charm is pronounced in his
own name." The poison glowed like fire, it was strong as the burning
of flame, and the Majesty of Râ said, "I grant thee leave that thou
shouldest search within me, O mother Isis! and that my name pass from my
bosom into thy bosom." In truth, the all-powerful name was hidden within
the body of the god, and could only be extracted thence by means of
a surgical operation similar to that practised upon a corpse which
is about to be mummified. Isis undertook it, carried it through
successfully, drove out the poison, and made herself a goddess by virtue
of the name. The cunning of a mere woman had deprived Râ of his last

In course of time men perceived his decrepitude. They took counsel
against him: "Lo! his Majesty waxeth old, his bones are of silver, his
flesh is of gold, his hair of lapis-lazuli." As soon as his Majesty
perceived that which they were saying to each other, his Majesty said to
those who were of his train, "Call together for me my Divine Eye, Shû,
Tafnûît, Sibû, and Nûît, the father and the mother gods who were with
me when I was in the Nû, with the god Nû. Let each bring his cycle along
with him; then, when thou shalt have brought them in secret, thou shalt
take them to the great mansion that they may lend me their counsel and
their consent, coming hither from the Nû into this place where I have
manifested myself." So the family council comes together: the ancestors
of Râ, and his posterity still awaiting amid the primordial waters
the time of their manifestation--his children Shû and Tafnûît, his
grandchildren Sibû and Nûît. They place themselves, according to
etiquette, on either side his throne, prostrate, with their foreheads to
the ground, and thus their conference begins: "O Nû, thou the eldest of
the gods, from whom I took my being, and ye the ancestor-gods, behold!
men who are the emanation of mine eye have taken counsel together
against me! Tell me what ye would do, for I have bidden you here before
I slay them, that I may hear what ye would say thereto." Nû, as the
eldest, has the right to speak first, and demands that the guilty shall
be brought to judgment and formally condemned. "My son Râ, god greater
than the god who made him, older than the gods who created him, sit thou
upon thy throne, and great shall be the terror when thine eye shall
rest upon those who plot together against thee!" But Râ not unreasonably
fears that when men see the solemn pomp of royal justice, they may
suspect the fate that awaits them, and "flee into the desert, their
hearts terrified at that which I have to say to them." The desert was
even then hostile to the tutelary gods of Egypt, and offered an almost
inviolable asylum to their enemies. The conclave admits that the
apprehensions of Râ are well founded, and pronounces in favour of
summary execution; the Divine Eye is to be the executioner. "Let it go
forth that it may smite those who have devised evil against thee, for
there is no Eye more to be feared than thine when it attacketh in the
form of Hâthor." So the Eye takes the form of Hâthor, suddenly falls
upon men, and slays them right and left with great strokes of the knife.
After some hours, Râ, who would chasten but not destroy his children,
commands her to cease from her carnage; but the goddess has tasted
blood, and refuses to obey him. "By thy life," she replies, "when I
slaughter men then is my heart right joyful!"

[Illustration: 236.jpg SOKHÎT, THE LIONESS-HEADED. 1]

     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a bronze statuette of the
     Saïte period in the Gizeh Museum (Mariette, _Album
     photographique du Musée de Boulaq_, pl. 6).

That is why she was afterwards called Sokhît the slayer, and represented
under the form of a fierce lioness. Nightfall stayed her course in the
neighbourhood of Heracleopolis; all the way from Heliopolis she had
trampled through blood. As soon as she had fallen asleep, Râ hastily
took effectual measures to prevent her from beginning her work again on
the morrow. "He said: 'Call on my behalf messengers agile and swift,
who go like the wind.' When these messengers were straightway brought
to him, the Majesty of the god said: 'Let them run to Elephantine and
bring me mandragora in plenty.'"[**]

** The mandragora of Elephantine was used in the manufacture of an
intoxicating and narcotic drink employed either in medicine or in magic.
In a special article, Brugsch has collected particulars preserved by the
texts as to the uses of this plant. It was not as yet credited with
the human form and the peculiar kind of life ascribed to it by western

When they had brought him the mandragora, the Majesty of this great god
summoned the miller which is in Heliopolis that he might bray it; and
the women-servants having crushed grain for the beer, the mandragora,
and also human blood, were mingled with the liquor, and thereof was made
in all seven thousand jars of beer. Râ himself examined this delectable
drink, and finding it to possess the wished-for properties: "'It is
well,' said he; 'therewith shall I save men from the goddess;' then,
addressing those of his train: 'Take these jars in your arms, and carry
them to the place where she has slaughtered men.' Râ, the king, caused
dawn to break at midnight, so that this philtre might be poured down
upon the earth; and the fields were flooded with it to the depth of four
palms, according as it pleased the souls of his Majesty." In the morning
the goddess came, "that she might return to her carnage, but she
found that all was flooded, and her countenance softened; when she had
drunken, it was her heart that softened; she went away drunk, without
further thought of men." There was some fear lest her fury might return
when the fumes of drunkenness were past, and to obviate this danger
Râ instituted a rite, partly with the object of instructing future
generations as to the chastisement which he had inflicted upon the
impious, partly to console Sokhît for her discomfiture. He decreed
that "on New Year's Day there should be brewed for her as many jars of
philtre as there were priestesses of the sun. That was the origin of
all those jars of philtre, in number equal to that of the priestesses,
which, at the feast of Hâthor, all men make from that day forth."

Peace was re-established, but could it last long? Would not men, as
soon as they had recovered from their terror, betake themselves again to
plotting against the god? Besides, Râ now felt nothing but disgust for
our race. The ingratitude of his children had wounded him deeply; he
foresaw ever-renewed rebellions as his feebleness became more marked,
and he shrank from having to order new massacres in which mankind would
perish altogether. "By my life," says he to the gods who accompanied
him, "my heart is too weary for me to remain with mankind, and slay them
until they are no more: annihilation is not of the gifts that I love
to make." And the gods exclaim in surprise: "Breathe not a word of thy
weariness at a time when thou dost triumph at thy pleasure." But Râ does
not yield to their representations; he will leave a kingdom wherein
they murmur against him, and turning towards Nû he says: "My limbs are
decrepit for the first time; I will not go to any place where I can
be reached." It was no easy matter to find him an inaccessible retreat
owing to the imperfect state in which the universe had been left by the
first effort of the demiurge. Nû saw no other way out of the difficulty
than that of setting to work to complete the creation. Ancient tradition
had imagined the separation of earth and sky as an act of violence
exercised by Shu upon Sibû and Nûît. History presented facts after a
less brutal fashion, and Shû became a virtuous son who devoted his time
and strength to upholding Nûît, that he might thereby do his father a
service. Nûît, for her part, showed herself to be a devoted daughter
whom there was no need to treat roughly in order to teach her her duty;
of herself she consented to leave her husband, and place her beloved
ancestor beyond reach. "The Majesty of Nû said: 'Son Shu, do as thy
father Râ shall say; and thou, daughter Nûît, place him upon thy back
and hold him suspended above the earth!' Nûît said: 'And how then, my
father Nû?' Thus spake Nûît, and she did that which Nû commanded her;
she changed herself into a cow, and placed the Majesty of Râ upon her
back. When those men who had not been slain came to give thanks to Râ,
behold! they found him no longer in his palace; but a cow stood there,
and they perceived him upon the back of the cow." They found him so
resolved to depart that they did not try to turn him from his purpose,
but only desired to give him such a proof of their repentance as should
assure them of the complete pardon of their crime. "They said unto him:
'Wait until the morning, O Râ! our lord, and we will strike down thine
enemies who have taken counsel against thee.' So his Majesty returned to
his mansion, descended from the cow, went in along with them, and earth
was plunged into darkness. But when there was light upon earth the next
morning, the men went forth with their bows and their arrows, and began
to shoot at the enemy. Whereupon the Majesty of this god said unto them:
'Your sins are remitted unto you, for sacrifice precludes the execution
of the guilty.' And this was the origin upon earth of sacrifices in
which blood was shed."

Thus it was that when on the point of separating for ever, the god
and men came to an understanding as to the terms of their future
relationship. Men offered to the god the life of those who had offended
him. Human sacrifice was in their eyes the obligatory sacrifice, the
only one which could completely atone for the wrongs committed against
the godhead; man alone was worthy to wash away with his blood the sins
of men.[*] For this one time the god accepted the expiation just as it
was offered to him; then the repugnance which he felt to killing his
children overcame him, he substituted beast for man, and decided that
oxen, gazelles, birds, should henceforth furnish the material for

     * This legend, which seeks to explain the discontinuance of
     human sacrifices among the Egyptians, affords direct proof
     of their existence in primitive times. This is confirmed by
     many facts. We shall see that _ûashbîti_ laid in graves were
     in place of the male or female slaves who were originally
     slaughtered at the tombs of the rich and noble that they
     might go to serve their masters in the next world. Even in
     Thebes, under the XIXth dynasty, certain rock-cut tombs
     contain scenes which might lead us to believe that
     occasionally at least human victims were sent to doubles of
     distinction. During this same period, moreover, the most
     distinguished hostile chiefs taken in war were still put to
     death before the gods. In several towns, as at Eilithyia and
     at Heliopolis, or before certain gods, such as Osiris or
     Kronos-Sibû, human sacrifice lasted until near Roman times.
     But generally speaking it was very rare. Almost everywhere
     cakes of a particular shape, and called [Greek word], or
     else animals, had been substituted for man.

     **  It was asserted that the partisans of Apôpi and of Sît,
     who were the enemies of Râ, Osiris, and the other gods, had
     taken refuge in the bodies of certain animals. Hence, it was
     really human or divine victims which were offered when
     beasts were slaughtered in sacrifice before the altars.

This point settled, he again mounted the cow, who rose, supported on her
four legs as on so many pillars; and her belly, stretched out above the
earth like a ceiling, formed the sky. He busied himself with organizing
the new world which he found on her back; he peopled it with many
beings, chose two districts in which to establish his abode, the Field
of Reeds--_Sokhît Ialû_--and the Field of Rest--_Sokhît Hotpît_--and
suspended the stars which were to give light by night. All this is
related with many plays upon words, intended, according to Oriental
custom, as explanations of the names which the legend assigned to the
different regions of heaven. At sight of a plain whose situation pleased
him, he cried: "The Field rests in the distance!"--and that was
the origin of the Field of Rest. He added: "There will I gather
plants!"--and from this the Field of Reeds took its name. While he gave
himself up to this philological pastime, Nûît, suddenly transported to
unaccustomed heights, grew frightened, and cried for help: "For pity's
sake give me supports to sustain me!" This was the origin of the
support-gods. They came and stationed themselves by each of her four
legs, steadying these with their hands, and keeping constant watch over
them. As this was not enough to reassure the good beast, "Râ said, 'My
son Shû, place thyself beneath my daughter Nûît, and keep watch on both
sides over the supports, who live in the twilight; hold thou her
up above thy head, and be her guardian!'" Shû obeyed; Nûît composed
herself, and the world, now furnished with the sky which it had hitherto
lacked, assumed its present symmetrical form.

Shû and Sibû succeeded Râ, but did not acquire so lasting a popularity
as their great ancestor. Nevertheless they had their annals, fragments
of which have come down to us. Their power also extended over the whole
universe: "The Majesty of Shû was the excellent king of the sky, of the
earth, of Hades, of the water, of the winds, of the inundation, of
the two chains of mountains, of the sea, governing with a true voice
according to the precepts of his father Râ-Harmakhis."


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin.

Only "the children of the serpent Apôpi, the impious ones who haunt
the solitary places and the deserts," disavowed his authority. Like the
Bedawîn of later times, they suddenly streamed in by the isthmus routes,
went up into Egypt under cover of night, slew and pillaged, and then
hastily returned to their fastnesses with the booty which they had
carried off. From sea to sea Ka had fortified the eastern frontier
against them. He had surrounded the principal cities with walls,
embellished them with temples, and placed within them those mysterious
talismans more powerful for defence than a garrison of men. Thus
Aît-nobsû, near the mouth of the Wady-Tûmilât, possessed one of the
rods of the Sun-god, also the living uraeus of his crown whose breath
consumes all that it touches, and, finally, a lock of his hair, which,
being cast into the waters of a lake, was changed into a hawk-headed
crocodile to tear the invader in pieces.[*]

     * Egyptians of all periods never shrank from such marvels.
     One of the tales of the Theban empire tells us of a piece of
     wax which, on being thrown into the water, changed into a
     living crocodile capable of devouring a man. The talismans
     which protected Egypt against invasion are mentioned by the
     Pseudo-Callisthenes, who attributes their invention to
     Nectanebo. Arab historians often refer to them.

The employment of these talismans was dangerous to those unaccustomed
to use them, even to the gods themselves. Scarcely was Sibû enthroned as
the successor of Shu, who, tired of reigning, had reascended into heaven
in a nine days' tempest, before he began his inspection of the eastern
marches, and caused the box in which was kept the uræus of Râ to be
opened. "As soon as the living viper had breathed its breath against the
Majesty of Sibû there was a great disaster--great indeed, for those
who were in the train of the god perished, and his Majesty himself was
burned in that day. When his Majesty had fled to the north of Aît-nobsû,
pursued by the fire of this magic urasus, behold! when he came to the
fields of henna, the pain of his burn was not yet assuaged, and the gods
who were behind him said unto him: 'O Sire! let them take the lock of Râ
which is there, when thy Majesty shall go to see it and its mystery, and
his Majesty shall be healed as soon as it shall be placed upon thee.'
So the Majesty of Sibû caused the magic lock to be brought to
Piarît,--the lock for which was made that great reliquary of hard stone
which is hidden in the secret place of Piarît, in the district of the
divine lock of the Lord Râ,--and behold! this fire departed from the
members of the Majesty of Sibû. And many years afterwards, when this
lock, which had thus belonged to Sibû, was brought back to Piarît
in Aît-nobsû, and cast into the great lake of Piarît whose name is
_Aît-tostesû_, the dwelling of waves, that it might be purified, behold!
this lock became a crocodile: it flew to the water and became Sobkû,
the divine crocodile of Aît-nobsû." In this way the gods of the solar
dynasty from generation to generation multiplied talismans and enriched
the sanctuaries of Egypt with relics.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Griffith. The
     three talismans here represented are two crowns, each in a
     naos, and the burning fiery uræus.

Were there ever duller legends and a more senile phantasy! They did not
spring spontaneously from the lips of the people, but were composed at
leisure by priests desirous of enhancing the antiquity of their cult,
and augmenting the veneration of its adherents in order to increase
its importance. Each city wished it to be understood that its feudal
sanctuary was founded upon the very day of creation, that its privileges
had been extended or confirmed during the course of the first divine
dynasty, and that these pretensions were supported by the presence
of objects in its treasury which had belonged to the oldest of the
king-gods. Such was the origin of tales in which the personage of the
beneficent Pharaoh is often depicted in ridiculous fashion. Did we
possess all the sacred archives, we should frequently find them quoting
as authentic history more than one document as artificial as the
chronicle of Aît-nobsû. When we come to the later members of the Ennead,
there is a change in the character and in the form of these tales.
Doubtless Osiris and Sît did not escape unscathed out of the hands of
the theologians; but even if sacerdotal interference spoiled the legend
concerning them, it did not altogether disfigure it. Here and there
in it is still noticeable a sincerity of feeling and liveliness of
imagination such as are never found in those of Shû and of Sibû.
This arises from the fact that the functions of these gods left them
strangers, or all but strangers, to the current affairs of the world.
Shû was the stay, Sibû the material foundation of the world; and so long
as the one bore the weight of the firmament without bending, and the
other continued to suffer the tread of human generations upon his
back, the devout took no more thought of them than they themselves
took thought of the devout. The life of Osiris, on the other hand, was
intimately mingled with that of the Egyptians, and his most trivial
actions immediately reacted upon their fortunes. They followed the
movements of his waters; they noted the turning-points in his struggles
against drought; they registered his yearly decline, yearly compensated
by his aggressive returns and his intermittent victories over Typhon;
his proceedings and his character were the subject of their minute
study. If his waters almost invariably rose upon the appointed day and
extended over the black earth of the valley, this was no mechanical
function of a being to whom the consequences of his conduct are
indifferent; he acted upon reflection, and in full consciousness of the
service that he rendered. He knew that by spreading the inundation
he prevented the triumph of the desert; he was life, he was
goodness--_Onnofriû_--and Isis, as the partner of his labours, became
like him the type of perfect goodness. But while Osiris developed
for the better, Sit was transformed for the worse, and increased in
wickedness as his brother gained in purity and moral elevation. In
proportion as the person of Sît grew more defined, and stood out more
clearly, the evil within him contrasted more markedly with the innate
goodness of Osiris, and what had been at first an instinctive struggle
between two beings somewhat vaguely defined--the desert and the Nile,
water and drought--was changed into conscious and deadly enmity. No
longer the conflict of two elements, it was war between two gods; one
labouring to produce abundance, while the other strove to do away with
it; one being all goodness and life, while the other was evil and death

A very ancient legend narrates that the birth of Osiris and his brothers
took place during the five additional days at the end of the year; a
subsequent legend explained how Nûît and Sibû had contracted marriage
against the express wish of Râ, and without his knowledge. When he
became aware of it he fell into a violent rage, and cast a spell over
the goddess to prevent her giving birth to her children in any month of
any year whatever. But Thot took pity upon her, and playing at draughts
with the moon won from it in several games one seventy-second part of
its fires, out of which he made five whole days; and as these were not
included in the ordinary calendar, Nûît could then bring forth her five
children, one after another: Osiris, Haroêris, Sit, Isis, and Nephthys.
Osiris was beautiful of face, but with a dull and black complexion; his
height exceeded five and a half yards.[*]

     * As a matter of fact, Osiris is often represented with
     black or green hands and face, as is customary for gods of
     the dead; it was probably this peculiarity which suggested
     the popular idea of his black complexion. A magic papyrus of
     Ramesside times fixes the stature of the god at seven
     cubits, and a phrase in a Ptolemaic inscription places it at
     eight cubits, six palms, three fingers.

He was born at Thebes, in the first of the additional days,
and straightway a mysterious voice announced that the lord of
all--_nibû-r-zarû_--had appeared. The good news was hailed with shouts
of joy, followed by tears and lamentations when it became known with
what evils he was menaced.[*] The echo reached Râ in his far-off
dwelling, and his heart rejoiced, notwithstanding the curse which he
had laid upon Nûît. He commanded the presence of his great-grandchild
in Xoïs, and unhesitatingly acknowledged him as the heir to his throne.
Osiris had married his sister Isis, even, so it was said, while both of
them were still within their mother's womb;[**] and when he became king
he made her queen regent and the partner of all his undertakings.

     * One variant of the legend told that a certain Pamylis of
     Thebes having gone to draw water had heard a voice
     proceeding from the temple of Zeus, which ordered him to
     proclaim aloud to the world the birth of the great king, the
     beneficent Osiris. He had received the child from the hands
     of Kronos, brought it up to youth, and to him the Egyptians
     had consecrated the feast of Pamylies, which resembled the
     Phallophoros festival of the Greeks.

     ** _De Iside et Osiride_, Leemans' edition, § 12, pp. 20,
     21. Haroêris, the Apollo of the Greeks, was supposed to be
     the issue of a marriage consummated before the birth of his
     parents while they were still within the womb of their
     mother Rhea-Nûît. This was a way of connecting the personage
     of Haroêris with the Osirian myths by confounding him with
     the homonymous Harsiêsis, the son of Isis, who became the
     son of Osiris through his mother's marriage with that god.

The Egyptians were as yet but half civilized; they were cannibals, and
though occasionally they lived upon the fruits of the earth, they did
not know how to cultivate them. Osiris taught them the art of making
agricultural implements--the plough and the hoe,--field labour, the
rotation of crops, the harvesting of wheat and barley,[*] and vine

     * Diodoeus even ascribes to him the discovery of barley and
     of wheat; this is consequent upon the identification of Isis
     with Demeter by the Greeks. According to the historian, Leo
     of Pella, the goddess twined herself a crown of ripe ears
     and placed it upon her head one day when she was sacrificing
     to her parents.

Isis weaned them from cannibalism, healed their diseases by means of
medicine or of magic, united women to men in legitimate marriage, and
showed them how to grind grain between two flat stones and to prepare
bread for the household. She invented the loom with the help of her
sister Nephthys, and was the first to weave and bleach linen. There
was no worship of the gods before Osiris established it, appointed the
offerings, regulated the order of ceremonies, and composed the texts and
melodies of the liturgies. He built cities, among them Thebes itself,
according to some; though others declared that he was born there. As he
had been the model of a just and pacific king, so did he desire to be
that of a victorious conqueror of nations; and, placing the regency in
the hands of Isis, he went forth to war against Asia, accompanied by
Thot the ibis and the jackal Anubis. He made little or no use of force
and arms, but he attacked men by gentleness and persuasion, softened
them with songs in which voices were accompanied by instruments, and
taught them also the arts which he had made known to the Egyptians.
No country escaped his beneficent action, and he did not return to the
banks of the Nile until he had traversed and civilized the world from
one horizon to the other.

Sît-Typhon was red-haired and white-skinned, of violent, gloomy, and
jealous temper.[*] Secretly he aspired to the crown, and nothing but the
vigilance of Isis had kept him from rebellion during the absence of his
brother. The rejoicings which celebrated the king's return to Memphis
provided Sit with his opportunity for seizing the throne.

     *  The colour of his hair was compared with that of a red-
     haired ass, and on that account the ass was sacred to him.
     As to his violent and jealous disposition, see the opinion
     of Diodorus Siculus, book i. 21, and the picture drawn by
     Synesius in his pamphlet Ægyptius. It was told how he tore
     his mother's bowels at birth, and made his own way into the
     world through her side.

[Illustration: 250.jpg THE OSMIAN TRIAD HOKUS. OSIRIS, ISIS. 2]

     2  Drawing by Boudier of the gold group in the Louvre
     Museum. The drawing is made from a photograph which belonged
     to M. de Witte, before the monument was acquired by E. de
     Rougé in 1871. The little square pillar of lapis-lazuli,
     upon which Osiris squats, is wrongly set up, and the names
     and titles of King Osorkon, the dedicator of the triad, are
     placed upside down.

He invited Osiris to a banquet along with seventy-two officers whose
support he had ensured, made a wooden chest of cunning workmanship and
ordered that it should be brought in to him, in the midst of the feast.
As all admired its beauty, he sportively promised to present it to any
one among the guests whom it should exactly fit. All of them tried it,
one after another, and all unsuccessfully; but when Osiris lay down
within it, immediately the conspirators shut to the lid, nailed it
firmly down, soldered it together with melted lead, and then threw it
into the Tanitic branch of the Nile, which carried it to the sea. The
news of the crime spread terror on all sides. The gods friendly to
Osiris feared the fate of their master, and hid themselves within the
bodies of animals to escape the malignity of the new king. Isis cut off
her hair, rent her garments, and set out in search of the chest. She
found it aground near the mouth of the river[*] under the shadow of
a gigantic acacia, deposited it in a secluded place where no one ever
came, and then took refuge in Bûto, her own domain and her native
city, whose marshes protected her from the designs of Typhon even as in
historic times they protected more than one Pharaoh from the attacks of
his enemies. There she gave birth to the young Horus, nursed and reared
him in secret among the reeds, far from the machinations of the wicked

     *  At this point the legend of the Saïte and Greek period
     interpolates a whole chapter, telling how the chest was
     carried out to sea and cast upon the Phoenician coast near
     to Byblos. The acacia, a kind of heather or broom in this
     case, grew up enclosing the chest within its trunk. This
     addition to the primitive legend must date from the XVIIIth
     to the XXth dynasties, when Egypt had extensive relations
     with the peoples of Asia. No trace of it whatever has
     hitherto been found upon Egyptian monuments strictly so
     called; not even on the latest.

     **  The opening illustration of this chapter (p. 221) is
     taken from a monument at Phihe, and depicts Isis among the
     reeds. The representation of the goddess as squatting upon a
     mat probably gave rise to the legend of the floating isle of
     Khemmis, which HECATÆUS of Miletus had seen upon the lake of
     Bûto, but whose existence was denied by Herodotus
     notwithstanding the testimony of Hecatæus.

But it happened that Sît, when hunting by moonlight, caught sight of the
chest, opened it, and recognizing the corpse, cut it up into fourteen
pieces, which he scattered abroad at random. Once more Isis set forth on
her woeful pilgrimage. She recovered all the parts of the body excepting
one only, which the oxyrhynchus had greedily devoured;[*] and with the
help of her sister Nephthys, her son Horus, Anubis, and Thot, she joined
together and embalmed them, and made of this collection of his remains
an imperishable mummy, capable of sustaining for ever the soul of a god.
On his coming of age, Horus called together all that were left of the
loyal Egyptians and formed them into an army.[**]

     *  This part of the legend was so thoroughly well known,
     that by the time of the XIXth dynasty it suggested incidents
     in popular literature. When Bitiû, the hero of _The Tale of
     the Two Brothers_, mutilated himself to avoid the suspicion
     of adultery, he cast his bleeding member into the water, and
     _the Oxyrhynchus devoured it_.

     **  Towards the Grecian period there was here interpolated
     an account of how Osiris had returned from the world of the
     dead to arm his son and train him to fight. According to
     this tale he had asked Horus which of all animals seemed to
     him most useful in time of war, and Horus chose the horse
     rather than the lion, because the lion avails for the weak
     or cowardly in need of help, whereas the horse is used for
     the pursuit and destruction of the enemy. Judging from this
     reply that Horus was ready to dare all, Osiris allowed him
     to enter upon the war. The mention of the horse affords
     sufficient proof that this episode is of comparatively late
     origin (cf. p. 41 for the date at which the horse was
     acclimatized in Egypt).

His "Followers"--_Shosûû Horû_--defeated the "Accomplices of
Sît"--_Samiu Sît_--who were now driven in their turn to transform
themselves into gazelles, crocodiles and serpents,--animals which were
henceforth regarded as unclean and Typhonian. For three days the two
chiefs had fought together under the forms of men and of hippopotami,
when Isis, apprehensive as to the issue of the duel, determined to bring
it to an end. "Lo! she caused chains to descend upon them, and made them
to drop upon Horus. Thereupon Horus prayed aloud, saying: 'I am thy son
Horus!' Then Isis spake unto the fetters, saying; 'Break, and unloose
yourselves from my son Horus!' She made other fetters to descend, and
let them fall upon her brother Sit. Forthwith he lifted up his voice and
cried out in pain, and she spake unto the fetters and said unto them:
'Break!' Yea, when Sît prayed unto her many times, saying: 'Wilt thou
not have pity upon the brother of thy son's mother?' then her heart was
filled with compassion, and she cried to the fetters: 'Break, for he is
my eldest brother!' and the fetters unloosed themselves from him, and
the two foes again stood face to face like two men who will not come
to terms." Horus, furious at seeing his mother deprive him of his prey,
turned upon her like a panther of the South. She fled before him on that
day when battle was waged with Sît the Violent, and he cut off her head.
But Thot transformed her by his enchantments and made a cow's head for
her, thereby identifying her with her companion, Hâthor.

[Illustration: 253.jpg ISIS-HATHOR, COW-HEADED. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze statuette of Saïte
     period in the Gîzeh Museum (Mariette, _Album photographique
     du musée de Boulaq_, pl. 5, No. 167).

The war went on, with all its fluctuating fortunes, till the gods at
length decided to summon both rivals before their tribunal. According to
a very ancient tradition, the combatants chose the ruler of a
neighbouring city, Thot, lord of Hermopolis Parva, as the arbitrator of
their quarrel. Sît was the first to plead, and he maintained that Horus
was not the son of Osiris, but a bastard, whom Isis haô conceived after
the death of her husband. Horua triumphantly vindicated the legitimacy
of his birth; and Thot condemned Sît to restore, according to some, the
whole of the inheritance which he had wrongly retained,--according to
others, part of it only. The gods ratified the sentence, and awarded to
the arbitrator the title of _Ûapirahûhûi_: he who judges between two
parties. A legend of more recent origin, and circulated after the
worship of Osiris had spread over all Egypt, affirmed that the case had
remained within the jurisdiction of Sibû, who was father to the one, and
grandfather to the other party. Sibû, however, had pronounced the same
judgment as Thot, and divided the kingdom into halves--_poshûi_; Sît
retained the valley from the neighbourhood of Memphis to the first
cataract, while Horus entered into possession of the Delta. Egypt
henceforth consisted of two distinct kingdoms, of which one, that of the
North, recognized Horus, the son of Isis, as its patron deity; and the
other, that of the South, placed itself under the protection of Sît
Nûbîti, the god of Ombos.[*]

     * Another form of the legend gives the 27th Athyr as the
     date of the judgment, assigning Egypt to Horus, and to Sît
     Nubia, or _Doshirît_, the red land. It must have arisen
     towards the age of the XVIIIth dynasty, at a time when their
     piety no longer allowed the devout to admit that the
     murderer of Osiris could be the legitimate patron of half
     the country. So _the half_ belonging to Sît was then placed
     either in Nubia or in the western desert, which had, indeed,
     been reckoned as his domain from earliest times.

The moiety of Horus, added to that of Sît, formed the kingdom which Sibû
had inherited; but his children failed to keep it together, though it
was afterwards reunited under Pharaohs of human race.

The three gods who preceded Osiris upon the throne had ceased to reign,
but not to live. Râ had taken refuge in heaven, disgusted with his own
creatures; Shû had disappeared in the midst of a tempest; and Sibû had
quietly retired within his palace when the time of his sojourning upon
earth had been fulfilled. Not that there was no death, for death, too,
together with all other things and beings, had come into existence in
the beginning, but while cruelly persecuting both man and beast, had for
a while respected the gods. Osiris was the first among them to be struck
down, and hence to require funeral rites. He also was the first for whom
family piety sought to provide a happy life beyond the tomb. Though he
was king of the living and the dead at Mendes by virtue of the rights of
all the feudal gods in their own principalities, his sovereignty after
death exempted him no more than the meanest of his subjects from that
painful torpor into which all mortals fell on breathing their last. But
popular imagination could not resign itself to his remaining in that
miserable state for ever. What would it have profited him to have
Isis the great Sorceress for his wife, the wise Horus for his son,
two master-magicians--Thot the Ibis and the jackal Anubis--for his
servants, if their skill had not availed to ensure him a less gloomy
and less lamentable after-life than that of men. Anubis had long before
invented the art of mummifying, and his mysterious science had secured
the everlasting existence of the flesh; but at what a price!


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rosellint, _Monumenti
     Civili_, pl. cxxxiv. 2. While Anubis is stretching out his
     hands to lay out the mummy on its couch, the soul is
     hovering above its breast, and holding to its nostrils the
     sceptre, and the wind-filled sail which is the emblem of
     breath and of the new life.

For the breathing, warm, fresh-coloured body, spontaneous in movement
and function, was substituted an immobile, cold and blackish mass, a
sufficient basis for the mechanical continuity of the double, but which
that double could neither raise nor guide; whose weight paralysed and
whose inertness condemned it to vegetate in darkness, without pleasure
and almost without consciousness of existence. Thot, Isis, and Horus
applied themselves in the case of Osiris to ameliorating the discomfort
and constraint entailed by the more primitive embalmment.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painting in the tomb of a
     king in the Theban necropolis.

They did not dispense with the manipulations instituted by Anubis,
but endued them with new power by means of magic. They inscribed the
principal bandages with protective figures and formulas; they decorated
the body with various amulets of specific efficacy for its different
parts; they drew numerous scenes of earthly existence and of the life
beyond the tomb upon the boards of the coffin and upon the walls of
the sepulchral chamber. When the body had been made imperishable, they
sought to restore one by one all the faculties of which their previous
operations had deprived it. The mummy was set up at the entrance to the
vault; the statue representing the living person was placed beside it,
and semblance was made of opening the mouth, eyes, and ears, of loosing
the arms and legs, of restoring breath to the throat and movement to the
heart. The incantations by which these acts were severally accompanied
were so powerful that the god spoke and ate, lived and heard, and could
use his limbs as freely as though he had never been steeped in the bath
of the embalmer. He might have returned to his place among men, and
various legends prove that he did occasionally appear to his faithful
adherents. But, as his ancestors before him, he preferred to leave
their towns and withdraw into his own domain. The cemeteries of the
inhabitants of Busiris and of Mendes were called _Sokhît Ialû_, the
Meadow of Reeds, and _Sokhît Hotpû_, the Meadow of Best. They were
secluded amid the marshes, in small archipelagoes of sandy islets where
the dead bodies, piled together, rested in safety from the inundations.
This was the first kingdom of the dead Osiris, but it was soon placed
elsewhere, as the nature of the surrounding districts and the geography
of the adjacent countries became better known; at first perhaps on the
Phoenician shore beyond the sea, and then in the sky, in the Milky Way,
between the North and the East, but nearer to the North than to the
East. This kingdom was not gloomy and mournful like that of the other
dead gods, Sokaris or Khontamentît, but was lighted by sun and moon;
the heat of the day was tempered by the steady breath of the north wind,
and its crops grew and throve abundantly.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Daniel Héron,
     taken in 1881 in the temple of Seti I. at Abydos.

Thick walls served as fortifications against the attacks of Sit and
evil genii; a palace like that of the Pharaohs stood in the midst
of delightful gardens; and there, among his own people, Osiris led a
tranquil existence, enjoying in succession all the pleasures of earthly
life without any of its pains.

The goodness which had gained him the title of Onnophris while he
sojourned here below, inspired him with the desire and suggested the
means of opening the gates of his paradise to the souls of his former
subjects. Souls did not enter into it unexamined, nor without trial.
Each of them had first to prove that during its earthly life it had
belonged to a friend, or, as the Egyptian texts have it, to a vassal of
Osiris--_amakhû khir Osiri_--one of those who had served Horus in his
exile and had rallied to his banner from the very beginning of the
Typhonian wars.


     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Naville Bas Ægyptische
     Todtenbuch, vol. i. pl. cxxviii. Ai.

These were those followers of Horus--_Shosûû Horû_--so often referred to
in the literature of historic times.[*]

     *  Cf, p. 252. The _Followers of Horns_, i.e. those who had
     followed Horus during the Typhonian wars, are mentioned in a
     Turin fragment of the Canon of the Kings, in which the
     author summarizes the chronology of the divine period. Like
     the reign of Râ, the time in which the followers of Horus
     were supposed to have lived was for the Egyptians of classic
     times the ultimate point beyond which history did not reach.

Horus, their master, having loaded them with favours during life,
decided to extend to them after death the same privileges which he had
conferred upon his father. He convoked around the corpse the gods who
had worked with him at the embalmment of Osiris: Anubis and Thot,
Isis and Nephthys, and his four children--Hâpi, Qabhsonûf, Amsît, and
Tiûmaûtf--to whom he had entrusted the charge of the heart and viscera.
They all performed their functions exactly as before, repeated the same
ceremonies, and recited the same formulas at the same stages of the
operations, and so effectively that the dead man became a real Osiris
under their hands, having a true voice, and henceforth combining the
name of the god with his own.

ARMS. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Guieysse-Lefébure, _Le
     Papyrus de Soutimès_, pl. viii. The outlines of the original
     have unfortunately been restored and enfeebled by the

He had been Sakhomka or Menkaûrî; he became the Osiris Sakhomka, or the
Osiris Menkaûrî, true of voice. Horus and his companions then celebrated
the rites consecrated to the "Opening of the Mouth and the Eyes:"
animated the statue of the deceased, and placed the mummy in the tomb,
where Anubis received it in his arms. Recalled to life and movement, the
double reassumed, one by one, all the functions of being, came and went
and took part in the ceremonies of the worship which was rendered to him
in his tomb. There he might be seen accepting the homage of his
kindred, and clasping to his breast his soul under the form of a great
human-headed bird with features the counterpart of his own. After being
equipped with the formulas and amulets wherewith his prototype, Osiris,
had been furnished, he set forth to seek the "Field of Reeds." The way
was long and arduous, strewn with perils to which he must have succumbed
at the very first stages had he not been carefully warned beforehand and
armed against them.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a facsimile by Dévèria (E. de
     Rougé, _Études sur le Rituel Funéraire_, pl. iv. No. 4).
     Ignorant souls fished for by the cynocephali are here
     represented as fish; but the soul of Nofirûbnû, instructed
     in the protective formulas, preserves its human form.

A papyrus placed with the mummy in its coffin contained the needful
topo-graphical directions and passwords, in order that he might
neither stray nor perish by the way. The wiser Egyptians copied out the
principal chapters for themselves, or learned them by heart while yet
in life, in order to be prepared for the life beyond. Those who had not
taken this precaution studied after death the copy with which they were
provided; and since few Egyptians could read, a priest, or relative of
the deceased, preferably his son, recited the prayers in the mummy's
ear, that he might learn them before he was carried away to the
cemetery. If the double obeyed the prescriptions of the "Book of the
Dead" to the letter, he reached his goal without fail.[*] On leaving
the tomb he turned his back on the valley, and staff in hand climbed
the hills which bounded it on the west, plunging boldly into the desert,
where some bird, or even a kindly insect such as a praying mantis, a
grasshopper, or a butterfly, served as his guide. Soon he came to one of
those sycamores which grow in the sand far away from the Nile, and
are regarded as magic trees by the fellahîn. Out of the foliage a
goddess--Nûît, ïïâthor, or Nît--half emerged, and offered him a dish of
fruit, loaves of bread, and a jar of water.

     * Manuscripts of this work represent about nine-tenths of
     the papyri hitherto discovered. They are not all equally
     full; complete copies are still relatively scarce, and most
     of those found with mummies contain nothing but extracts of
     varying length. The book itself was studied by Champollion,
     who called it the _Funerary Ritual_; Lepsius afterwards gave
     it the less definite name of _Book of the Dead_, which seems
     likely to prevail. It has been chiefly known from the
     hieroglyphic copy at Turin, which Lepsius traced and had
     lithographed in 1841, under the title of _Das Todtenbuch der
     Ægypter_. In 1865, E. du Rougé began to publish a hieratic
     copy in the Louvre, but since 1886 there has been a critical
     edition of manuscripts of the Theban period most carefully
     collated by E. Naville, _Das Mgyptische Todtenbuch der XVIII
     bis XX Dynastie_, Berlin, 1886, 2 vols, of plates in folio,
     and 1 vol. of Introduction in 4to. On this edition see
     Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. i. pp. 325-387.

By accepting these gifts he became the guest of the goddess, and could
never more retrace his steps[*] without special permission. Beyond
the sycamore were lands of terror, infested by serpents and ferocious
beasts, furrowed by torrents of boiling water, intersected by ponds and
marshes where gigantic monkeys cast their nets.

     *  Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. pp. 224-227. It was not in Egypt
     alone that the fact of accepting food offered by a god of
     the dead constituted a recognition of suzerainty, and
     prevented the human soul from returning to the world of the
     living. Traces of this belief are found everywhere, in
     modern as in ancient times, and E. B. Tylob, has collected
     numerous examples of the same in Primitive Culture, 2nd
     edit., vol. ii. pp. 47, 51, 52.


     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coloured plate in
     Rosellini, _Monumenti civili._,pl. cxxxiv. 3.

Ignorant souls, or those ill prepared for the struggle, had no easy work
before them when they imprudently entered upon it. Those who were not
overcome by hunger and thirst at the outset were bitten by a urasus, or
horned viper, hidden with evil intent below the sand, and perished in
convulsions from the poison; or crocodiles seized as many of them as
they could lay hold of at the fords of rivers; or cynocephali netted
and devoured them indiscriminately along with the fish into which the
partisans of Typhon were transformed. They came safe and sound out of
one peril only to fall into another, and infallibly succumbed before
they were half through their journey. But, on the other hand, the
double who was equipped and instructed, and armed with the true voice,
confronted each foe with the phylactery and the incantation by which his
enemy was held in check. As soon as he caught sight of one of them he
recited the appropriate chapter from his book, he loudly proclaimed
himself Râ, Tûmû, Horus, or Khopri--that god whose name and attributes
were best fitted to repel the immediate danger--and flames withdrew at
his voice, monsters fled or sank paralysed, the most cruel of genii
drew in their claws and lowered their arms before him. He compelled
crocodiles to turn away their heads; he transfixed serpents with his
lance; he supplied himself at pleasure with all the provisions that he
needed, and gradually ascended the mountains which surround the world,
sometimes alone, and fighting his way step by step, sometimes escorted
by beneficent divinities. Halfway up the slope was the good cow Hâfchor,
the lady of the West, in meadows of tall plants where every evening
she received the sun at his setting. If the dead man knew how to ask
it according to the prescribed rite, she would take him upon her
shoulders[*] and carry him across the accursed countries at full speed.

     *  Coffins of the XXth and XXIst dynasties, with a yellow
     ground, often display this scene. Generally the scene is
     found beneath the feet of the dead, at the lower end of the
     cartonage, and the cow is represented as carrying off at a
     gallop the mummy who is lying on her back.


     2  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Naville (_Das
     Ægyptische Todtenbuch_, vol. i. pl. iii. P b). The commonest
     enemies of the dead were various kinds of serpents.

Having reached the North, he paused at the edge of an immense lake, the
lake of Kha, and saw in the far distance the outline of the Islands of
the Blest. One tradition, so old as to have been almost forgotten in
Rames-side times, told how Thot the ibis there awaited him, and bore
him away on his wings;[***] another, no less ancient but of more lasting
popularity, declared that a ferry-boat plied regularly between the solid
earth and the shores of paradise.

     ***  It is often mentioned in the Pyramid texts, and
     inspired one of the most obscure chapters among them
     (_Teti_, 11. 185-200; cf. _Recueil de Travaux_, vol. v. pp.
     22, 23). It seems that the ibis had to fight with Sit for
     right of passage.

The god who directed it questioned the dead, and the bark itself
proceeded to examine them before they were admitted on board; for it
was a magic bark. "Tell me my name," cried the mast; and the travellers
replied: "He who guides the great goddess on her way is thy name." "Tell
me my name," repeated the braces. "The Spine of the Jackal Ûapûaîtû is
thy name." "Tell me my name," proceeded the mast-head.

SOUL. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a coloured facsimile
     published by Leemans, _Monuments Égyptiens du Musée d'
     Antiquités des Pays-Bas à Leyden_, part iii. pl. xii.

"The Neck of Amsît is thy name." "Tell me my name," asked the sail.
"Nûît is thy name." Each part of the hull and of the rigging spoke
in turn and questioned the applicant regarding its name, this being
generally a mystic phrase by which it was identified either with some
divinity as a whole, or else with some part of his body.

When the double had established his right of passage by the correctness
of his answers, the bark consented to receive him and to carry him to
the further shore. There he was met by the gods and goddesses of the
court of Osiris: by Anubis, by Hathor the lady of the cemetery, by Nît,
by the two Màîts who preside over justice and truth, and by the four
children of Horus stiff-sheathed in their mummy wrappings. They formed
as it were a guard of honour to introduce him and his winged guide into
an immense hall, the ceiling of which rested on light graceful columns
of painted wood.


     1 Drawn  by   Faucher-Gudin,   from  pl.  cxxxvi. Ag of
     Naville's  _Das Thebanische Todtenbuch_.

At the further end of the hall Osiris was seated in mysterious twilight
within a shrine through whose open doors he might be seen wearing a red
necklace over his close-fitting case of white bandaging, his green face
surmounted by the tall white diadem flanked by two plumes, his slender
hands grasping flail and crook, the emblems of his power.


Behind him stood Isis and Nephthys watching over him with uplifted
hands, bare bosoms, and bodies straitly cased in linen. Forty-two jurors
who had died and been restored to life like their lord, and who had
been chosen, one from each of those cities of Egypt which recognized
his authority, squatted right and left, and motionless, clothed in the
wrappings of the dead, silently waited until they were addressed.
The soul first advanced to the foot of the throne, carrying on its
outstretched hands the image of its heart or of its eyes, agents and
accomplices of its sins and virtues. It humbly "smelt the earth," then
arose, and with uplifted hands recited its profession of faith. "Hail
unto you, ye lords of Truth! hail to thee, great god, lord of Truth and
Justice! I have come before thee, my master; I have been brought to see
thy beauties. For I know thee, I know thy name, I know the names of thy
forty-two gods who are with thee in the Hall of the Two Truths, living
on the remains of sinners, gorging themselves with their blood, in that
day when account is rendered before Onnophris, the true of voice. Thy
name which is thine is 'the god whose two twins are the ladies of the
two Truths;' and I, I know you, ye lords of the two Truths, I bring unto
you Truth, I have destroyed sins for you. I have not committed iniquity
against men! I have not oppressed the poor! I have not made defalcations
in the necropolis! I have not laid labour upon any free man beyond that
which he wrought for himself! I have not transgressed, I have not
been weak, I have not defaulted, I have not committed that which is an
abomination to the gods. I have not caused the slave to be ill-treated
of his master! I have not starved any man, I have not made any to
weep, I have not assassinated any man, I have not caused any man to be
treacherously assassinated, and I have not committed treason against
any! I have not in aught diminished the supplies of temples! I have not
spoiled the shrewbread of the gods! I have not taken away the loaves and
the wrappings of the dead! I have done no carnal act within the sacred
enclosure of the temple! I have not blasphemed! I have in nought
curtailed the sacred revenues! I have not pulled down the scale of the
balance! I have not falsified the beam of the balance! I have not taken
away the milk from the mouths of sucklings! I have not lassoed cattle on
their pastures! I have not taken with nets the birds of the gods! I
have not fished in their ponds! I have not turned back the water in its
season! I have not cut off a water-channel in its course! I have not
put out the fire in its time! I have not defrauded the Nine Gods of the
choice part of victims! I have not ejected the oxen of the gods! I have
not turned back the god at his coming forth! I am pure! I am pure! I am
pure! I am pure! Pure as this Great Bonû of Heracleopolis is pure!...
There is no crime against me in this land of the Double Truth! Since I
know the names of the gods who are with thee in the Hall of the Double
Truth, save thou me from them!" He then turned towards the jury and
pleaded his cause before them. They had been severally appointed for
the cognizance of particular sins, and the dead man took each of them by
name to witness that he was innocent of the sin which that one recorded.
His plea ended, he returned to the supreme judge, and repeated, under
what is sometimes a highly mystic form, the ideas which he had already
advanced in the first part of his address. "Hail unto you, ye gods who
are in the Great Hall of the Double Truth, who have no falsehood in
your bosoms, but who live on Truth in Aûnû, and feed your hearts upon it
before the Lord God who dwelleth in his solar disc! Deliver me from
the Typhon who feedeth on entrails, O chiefs! in this hour of supreme
judgment;--grant that the deceased may come unto you, he who hath not
sinned, who hath neither lied, nor done evil, nor committed any crime,
who hath not borne false witness, who hath done nought against himself,
but who liveth on truth, who feedeth on truth. He hath spread joy on all
sides; men speak of that which he hath done, and the gods rejoice in it.
He hath reconciled the god to him by his love; he hath given bread to
the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked; he hath given
a boat to the shipwrecked; he hath offered sacrifices to the gods,
sepulchral meals unto the manes. Deliver him from himself, speak not
against him before the Lord of the Dead, for his mouth is pure, and his
two hands are pure!" In the middle of the Hall, however, his acts were
being weighed by the assessors. Like all objects belonging to the gods,
the balance is magic, and the genius which animates it sometimes shows
its fine and delicate little human head on the top of the upright
stand which forms its body. Everything about the balance recalls its
superhuman origin: a cynocephalus, emblematic of Thot, sits perched on
the upright and watches the beam; the cords which suspend the scales are
made of alternate _cruces ansato and tats_. Truth squats upon one of
the scales; Thot, ibis-headed, places the heart on the other, and always
merciful, bears upon the side of Truth that judgment may be favourably
inclined. He affirms that the heart is light of offence, inscribes
the result of the proceeding upon a wooden tablet, and pronounces the
verdict aloud. "Thus saith Thot, lord of divine discourse, scribe of
the Great Ennead, to his father Osiris, lord of eternity, 'Behold the
deceased in this Hall of the Double Truth, his heart hath been weighed
in the balance in the presence of the great genii, the lords of Hades,
and been found true. No trace of earthly impurity hath been found in
his heart. Now that he leaveth the tribunal true of voice, his heart
is restored to him, as well as his eyes and the material cover of his
heart, to be put back in their places each in its own time, his soul in
heaven, his heart in the other world, as is the custom of the "Followers
of Horus." Henceforth let his body lie in the hands of Anubis, who
presideth over the tombs; let him receive offerings at the cemetery in
the presence of Onno-phris; let him be as one of those favourites who
follow thee; let his soul abide where it will in the necropolis of
his city, he whose voice is true before the Great Ennead.'" In this
"Negative Confession," which the worshippers of Osiris taught to their
dead, all is not equally admirable. The material interests of the temple
were too prominent, and the crime of killing a sacred goose or stealing
a loaf from the bread offerings was considered as abominable as calumny
or murder. But although it contains traces of priestly cupidity, yet
how many of its precepts are untarnished in their purity by any selfish
ulterior motive! In it is all our morality in germ, and with refinements
of delicacy often lacking among peoples of later and more advanced
civilizations. The god does not confine his favour to the prosperous and
the powerful of this world; he bestows it also upon the poor. His will
is that they be fed and clothed, and exempted from tasks beyond their
strength; that they be not oppressed, and that unnecessary tears be
spared them. If this does not amount to the love of our neighbour as our
religions preach it, at least it represents the careful solicitude due
from a good lord to his vassals. His pity extends to slaves; not only
does he command that no one should ill-treat them himself, but he
forbids that their masters should be led to ill-treat them. This
profession of faith, one of the noblest bequeathed us by the old world,
is of very ancient origin. It may be read in scattered fragments upon
the monuments of the first dynasties, and the way in which its ideas are
treated by the compilers of these inscriptions proves that it was not
then regarded as new, but as a text so old and so well known that its
formulas were current in all mouths, and had their prescribed places
in epitaphs.[*] Was it composed in Mendes, the god's own home, or in
Heliopolis, when the theologians of that city appropriated the god of
Mendes and incorporated him in their Ennead? In conception it certainly
belongs to the Osirian priesthood, but it can only have been diffused
over the whole of Egypt after the general adoption of the Heliopolitan
Ennead throughout the cities.

As soon as he was judged, the dead man entered into the possession of
his rights as a pure soul. On high he received from the Universal
Lord all that kings and princes here below bestowed upon their
followers--rations of food,[**] and a house, gardens, and fields to be
held subject to the usual conditions of tenure in Egypt, i.e. taxation,
military service, and the corvée.

     *  For instance, one of the formulas found in Memphite tombs
     states that the deceased had been the friend of his father,
     the beloved of his mother, sweet to those who lived with
     him, gracious to his brethren, loved of his servants, and
     that he had never sought wrongful quarrel with any man;
     briefly, that he spoke and did that which is right here

     **  The formula of the pyramid times is: "Thy thousand of
     oxen, thy thousand of geese, of roast and boiled joints from
     the larder of the gods, of bread, and plenty of the good
     things presented in the hall of Osiris."

If the island was attacked by the partisans of Sit, the Osirian doubles
hastened in a body to repulse them, and fought bravely in its defence.
Of the revenues sent to him by his kindred on certain days and by means
of sacrifices, each gave tithes to the heavenly storehouses. Yet this
was but the least part of the burdens laid upon him by the laws of the
country, which did not suffer him to become enervated by idleness, but
obliged him to labour as in the days when he still dwelt in Egypt.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a vignette in the funerary
     papyrus of Nebhopît in Turin.

He looked after the maintenance of canals and dykes, he tilled the
ground, he sowed, he reaped, he garnered the grain for his lord and for
himself. Yet to those upon whom they were incumbent, these posthumous
obligations, the sequel and continuation of feudal service, at length
seemed too heavy, and theologians exercised their ingenuity to find
means of lightening the burden. They authorized the manes to look to
their servants for the discharge of all manual labour which they ought
to have performed themselves. Barely did a dead man, no matter how
poor, arrive unaccompanied at the eternal cities; he brought with him a
following proportionate to his rank and fortune upon earth.

[Illustration: 276.jpg UASHBÎTI. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a painted limestone statuette
     from the tomb of _Sonnozmû_ at Thebes, dating from the end
     of the XXth dynasty.

At first they were real doubles, those of slaves or vassals killed at
the tomb, and who had departed along with the double of the master to
serve him beyond the grave as they had served him here. A number of
statues and images, magically endued with activity and intelligence,
was afterwards substituted for this retinue of victims. Originally of
so large a size that only the rich or noble could afford them, they were
reduced little by little to the height of a few inches. Some were carved
out of alabaster, granite, diorite, fine limestone, or moulded out
of fine clay and delicately modelled; others had scarcely any human
resemblance. They were endowed with life by means of a formula recited
over them at the time of their manufacture, and afterwards traced upon
their legs. All were possessed of the same faculties. When the god who
called the Osirians to the corvée pronounced the name of the dead man to
whom the figures belonged, they arose and answered for him; hence their
designation of "Respondents "--_Ûashbîti_. Equipped for agricultural
labour, each grasping a hoe and carrying a seed-bag on his shoulder,
they set out to work in their appointed places, contributing the
required number of days of forced labour.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a vignette in No, 4 Papyrus,
     Dublin (Naville, _Das Mgyptische Todtenbuch_, vol. i. pl.
     xxvii. Da). The name of draughts is not altogether accurate;
     a description of the game may be found in Falkner, _Games
     Ancient and Oriental and how to play them_, pp. 9-101.

Up to a certain point they thus compensated for those inequalities of
condition which death itself did not efface among the vassals of Osiris;
for the figures were sold so cheaply that even the poorest could always
afford some for themselves, or bestow a few upon their relations; and
in the Islands of the Blest, fellah, artisan, and slave were indebted to
the Uashbîti for release from their old routine of labour and unending
toil. While the little peasants of stone or glazed ware dutifully toiled
and tilled and sowed, their masters were enjoying all the delights
of the Egyptian paradise in perfect idleness. They sat at ease by the
water-side, inhaling the fresh north breeze, under the shadow of trees
which were always green. They fished with lines among the lotus-plants;
they embarked in their boats, and were towed along by their servants, or
they would sometimes deign to paddle themselves slowly about the canals.


     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the Papyrus of Nebhopît, in
     Turin. This drawing is from part of the same scene as the
     illustration on p. 275.

They went fowling among the reed-beds, or retired within their painted
pavilions to read tales, to play at draughts, to return to their wives
who were for ever young and beautiful.[**]

     **  Gymnastic exercises, hunting, fishing, sailing, are all
     pictured in Theban tombs. The game of draughts is mentioned
     in the title of chap. xvii. of the _Book of the Dead_
     (Naville's edition, vol. i. pl. xxiii. 1. 2), and the
     women's pavilion is represented in the tomb of Rakhmiri That
     the dead were supposed to read tales is proved from the fact
     that broken ostraca bearing long fragments of literary works
     are found in tombs; they were broken to kill them and to
     send on their doubles to the dead man in the next world.

It was but an ameliorated earthly life, divested of all suffering under
the rule and by the favour of the true-voiced Onnophris. The feudal gods
promptly adopted this new mode of life.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Éinil
     Brugsch-Bey. The original was found in the course of M. de
     Morgan's excavations at Mêîr, and is now at Gîzeh. The dead
     man is sitting in the cabin, wrapped in his cloak. As far as
     I know, this is the only boat which has preserved its
     original rigging.    It dates from the XIth or XIIth

Each of their dead bodies, mummified, and afterwards reanimated in
accordance with the Osirian myth, became an Osiris as did that of any
ordinary person. Some carried the assimilation so far as to absorb the
god of Mendes, or to be absorbed in him. At Memphis Phtah-Sokaris
became Phtah-Sokar-Osiris, and at Thinis Khontamentîfc became Osiris
Khontamentît. The sun-god lent himself to this process with comparative
ease because his life is more like a man's life, and hence also more
like that of Osiris, which is the counterpart of a man's life.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a vignette in the Papyrus of
     Nebqadn, in Paris.

Born in the morning, he ages as the day declines, and gently passes away
at evening. From the time of his entering the sky to that of his leaving
it, he reigns above as he reigned here below in the beginning; but when
he has left the sky and sinks into Hades, he becomes as one of the dead,
and is, as they are, subjected to Osirian embalmment. The same dangers
that menace their human souls threaten his soul also; and when he has
vanquished them, not in his own strength, but by the power of amulets
and magical formulas, he enters into the fields of lalû, and ought to
dwell there for ever under the rule of Onuophris. He did nothing of the
kind, however, for daily the sun was to be seen reappearing in the east
twelve hours after it had sunk into the darkness of the west. Was it a
new orb each time, or did the same sun shine every day? In either case
the result was precisely the same; the god came forth from death and
re-entered into life. Having identified the course of the sun-god with
that of man, and Râ with Osiris for a first day and a first night,
it was hard not to push the matter further, and identify them for all
succeeding days and nights, affirming that man and Osiris might, if they
so wished, be born again in the morning, as Râ was, and together with
him. If the Egyptians had found the prospect of quitting the darkness of
the tomb for the bright meadows of Ialû a sensible alleviation of their
lot, with what joy must they have been filled by the conception which
allowed them to substitute the whole realm of the sun for a little
archipelago in an out-of-the-way corner of the universe. Their first
consideration was to obtain entrance into the divine bark, and this
was the object of all the various practices and prayers, whose text,
together with that which already contained the Osirian formulas, ensured
the unfailing protection of Râ to their possessor. The soul desirous of
making use of them went straight from his tomb to the very spot where
the god left earth to descend into Hades. This was somewhere in the
immediate neighbourhood of Abydos, and was reached through a narrow
gorge or "cleft" in the Libyan range, whose "mouth" opened in front
of the temple of Osiris Khontamentît, a little to the north-west of the
city. The soul was supposed to be carried thither by a small flotilla of
boats, manned by figures representing friends or priests, and laden with
food, furniture, and statues. This flotilla was placed within the
vault on the day of the funeral, and was set in motion by means of
incantations recited over it during one of the first nights of the year,
at the annual feast of the dead. The bird or insect which had previously
served as guide to the soul upon its journey now took the helm to show
the fleet the right way, and under this command the boats left Abydos
and mysteriously passed through the "cleft" into that western sea which
is inaccessible to the living, there to await the daily coming of the
dying sun-god.

WEST. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a very small photograph
     published in the Catalogue of the Minutoli Sale.

As soon as his bark appeared at the last bend of the celestial Nile,
the cynocephali, who guarded the entrance into night, began to dance and
gesticulate upon the banks as they intoned their accustomed hymn. The
gods of Abydos mingled their shouts of joy with the chant of the sacred
baboons, the bark lingered for a moment upon the frontiers of day, and
initiated souls seized the occasion to secure their recognition and
their reception on board of it.[*] Once admitted, they took their share
in the management of the boat, and in the battles with hostile deities;
but they were not all endowed with the courage or equipment needful to
withstand the perils and terrors of the voyage. Many stopped short by
the way in one of the regions which it traversed, either in the realm of
Khontamentît, or in that of Sokaris, or in those islands where the good
Osiris welcomed them as though they had duly arrived in the ferry-boat,
or upon the wing of Thot. There they dwelt in colonies under the
suzerainty of local gods, rich, and in need of nothing, but condemned
to live in darkness, excepting for the one brief hour in which the
solar bark passed through their midst, irradiating them with beams of

     *  This description of the embarkation and voyage of the
     soul is composed from indications given in one of the
     vignettes of chap. xvi. of the _Book of the Dead_ (Naville's
     edition, vol. i. pl. xxii.), combined with the text of a
     formula which became common from the times of the XIth and
     XIIth dynasties (Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et
     l'Archéologie Égyptiennes_, vol. i. pp. 14-18, and _Études
     Égyptiennes_, vol. i. pp. 122, 123).

     **  Maspero, _Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie
     Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. pp. 44, 45.

The few persevered, feeling that they had courage to accompany the sun
throughout, and these were indemnified for their sufferings by the most
brilliant fate ever dreamed of by Egyptian souls., Born anew with the
sun-god and appearing with him at the gates of the east, they were
assimilated to him, and shared his privilege of growing old and dying,
only to be ceaselessly rejuvenated and to live again with ever-renewed
splendour. They disembarked where they pleased, and returned at will
into the world. If now and then they felt a wish to revisit all that was
left of their earthly bodies, the human-headed sparrow-hawk descended
the shaft in full flight, alighted upon the funeral couch, and, with
hands softly laid upon the spot where the heart had been wont to beat,
gazed upwards at the impassive mask of the mummy.


      1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Dévèria.

This was but for a moment, since nothing compelled these perfect souls
to be imprisoned within the tomb like the doubles of earlier times,
because they feared the light. They "went forth by day," and dwelt in
those places where they had lived; they walked in their gardens by their
ponds of running water; they perched like so many birds on the branches
of the trees which they had planted, or enjoyed the fresh air under the
shade of their sycamores; they ate and drank at pleasure; they travelled
by hill and dale; they embarked in the boat of Râ, and disembarked
without weariness, and without distaste for the same perpetual round.

This conception, which was developed somewhat late, brought the
Egyptians back to the point from which they had started when first they
began to speculate on the life to come.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-
     Bey, reproducing the miniature sarcophagus of the scribe Râ
     (Maspero, _Guide du Visiteur_, pp. 130, 131, No. 1621).

The soul, after having left the place of its incarnation to which in the
beginning it clung, after having ascended into heaven and there sought
congenial asylum in vain, forsook all havens which it had found above,
and unhesitatingly fell back upon earth, there to lead a peaceful, free,
and happy life in the full light of day, and with the whole valley of
Egypt for a paradise.

The connection, always increasingly intimate between Osiris and Râ,
gradually brought about a blending of the previously separate myths and
beliefs concerning each. The friends and enemies of the one became the
friends and enemies of the other, and from a mixture of the original
conceptions of the two deities, arose new personalities, in which
contradictory elements were blent together, often without true fusion.
The celestial Horuses one by one were identified with Horus, son of
Isis, and their attributes were given to him, as his in the same way
became theirs. Apopi and the monsters--the hippopotamus, the crocodile,
the wild boar--who lay in wait for Râ as he sailed the heavenly ocean,
became one with Sît and his accomplices. Sit still possessed his half
of Egypt, and his primitive brotherly relation to the celestial Horus
remained unbroken, either 'on account of their sharing one temple, as at
Nûbît, or because they were worshipped as one in two neighbouring
nomes, as, for example, at Oxyrrhynchos and at Heracleopolis Magna.
The repulsion with which the slayer of Osiris was regarded did not
everywhere dissociate these two cults: certain small districts persisted
in this double worship down to the latest times of paganism. It was,
after all, a mark of fidelity to the oldest traditions of the race, but
the bulk of the Egyptians, who had forgotten these, invented reasons
taken from the history of the divine dynasties to explain the fact. The
judgment of Thot or of Sibû had not put an end to the machinations of
Sît: as soon as Horus had left the earth, Sît resumed them, and pursued
them, with varying fortune, under the divine kings of the second Ennead.
Now, in the year 363 of Harmakhis, the Typhonians reopened the campaign.
Beaten at first near Edfû, they retreated precipitately northwards,
stopping to give battle wherever their partisans predominated,--at
Zatmîfc in the Theban nome,[*] at Khaîtnûtrît to the north-east of
Denderah, and at Hibonû in the principality of the Gazelle.

     *  Zatmît appears to have been situate at some distance from
     Bayadîyéh, on the spot where the map published by the
     Egyptian Commission marks the ruins of a modern village.
     There was a necropolis of considerable extent there, which
     furnishes the Luxor dealers with antiquities, many of which
     belong to the first Theban empire.


     2  Copied by Faucher-Gudin from the survey-drawings of the
     tomb of Anni by Boussac, member of the _Mission française_
     in Egypt (1891). The inscription over the arbour gives the
     list of the various trees in the garden of Anni during his

Several bloody combats, which took place between Oxyrrhynchos and
Heracleopolis Magna, were the means of driving them finally out of the
Nile Valley; they rallied for the last time in the eastern provinces
of the Delta, were beaten at Zalû, and giving up all hope of success on
land, they embarked at the head of the Gulf of Suez, in order to return
to the Nubian Desert, their habitual refuge in times of distress.
The sea was the special element of Typhon, and upon it they believed
themselves secure. Horus, however, followed them, overtook them near
Shas-hirît, routed them, and on his return to Edfu, celebrated his
victory by a solemn festival. By degrees, as he made himself master
of those localities which owed allegiance to Sit, he took energetic
measures to establish in them the authority of Osiris and of the solar
cycle. In all of them he built, side by side with the sanctuary of the
Typhonian divinities, a temple to himself, in which he was enthroned
under the particular form he was obliged to assume in order to vanquish
his enemies. Metamorphosed into a hawk at the battle of Hibonû, we
next see him springing on to the back of Sit under the guise of a
hippopotamus; in his shrine at Hibonû he is represented as a hawk
perching on the back of a gazelle, emblem of the nome where the struggle
took place. Near to Zalû he became incarnate as a human-headed lion,
crowned with the triple diadem, and having feet armed with claws which
cut like a knife; it was under the form, too, of a lion that he was
worshipped in the temple at Zalû. The correlation of Sit and the
celestial Horus was not, therefore, for these Egyptians of more recent
times a primitive religious fact; it was the consequence, and so to
speak the sanction, of the old hostility between the two gods.

[Illustration: 289.jpg]

Horus had treated his enemy in the same fashion that a victorious
Pharaoh treated the barbarians conquered by his arms: he had constructed
a fortress to keep his foe in check, and his priests formed a sort of
garrison as a precaution against the revolt of the rival priesthood and
the followers of the rival deity. In this manner the battles of the gods
were changed into human struggles, in which, more than once, Egypt was
deluged with blood. The hatred of the followers of Osiris to those of
Typhon was perpetuated with such implacability, that the nomes which had
persisted in adhering to the worship of Sit, became odious to the
rest of the population: the image of their master on the monuments was
mutilated, their names were effaced from the geographical lists, they
were assailed with insulting epithets, and to pursue and slay their
sacred animals was reckoned a pious act. Thus originated those
skirmishes which developed into actual civil wars, and were continued
down to Roman times. The adherents of Typhon only became more confirmed
in their veneration for the accursed god; Christianity alone overcame
their obstinate fidelity to him.[*]

     * This incident in the wars of Horus and Sit is drawn by
     Faucher-Gudin from a bas-relief of the temple of Edfû. On
     the right, Har-Hûdîti, standing up in the solar bark,
     pierces with his lance the head of a crocodile, a partisan
     of Sît, lying in the water below; Harmâkhis, standing behind
     him, is present at the execution. Facing this divine pair,
     is the young Horus, who kills a man, another partisan of
     Sît, while Isis and Har-Hûdîti hold his chains; behind
     Horus, Isis and Thot are leading four other captives bound
     and ready to be sacrificed before Harmâkhis.

The history of the world for Egypt was therefore only the history of the
struggle between the adherents of Osiris and the followers of Sît; an
interminable warfare in which sometimes one and sometimes the other of
the rival parties obtained a passing advantage, without ever gaining a
decisive victory till the end of time. The divine kings of the second
and third Ennead devoted most of the years of their earthly reign
to this end; they were portrayed under the form of the great warrior
Pharaohs, who, from the eighteenth to the twelfth century before our
era, extended their rule from the plains of the Euphrates to the marshes
of Ethiopia. A few peaceful sovereigns are met with here and there in
this line of conquerors--a few sages or legislators, of whom the most
famous was styled Thot, the doubly great, ruler of Hermopolis and of
the Hermopolitan Ennead. A legend of recent origin made him the prime
minister of Horus, son of Isis; a still more ancient tradition would
identify him with the second king of the second dynasty, the immediate
successor of the divine Horuses, and attributes to him a reign of 3226
years. He brought to the throne that inventive spirit and that creative
power which had characterized him from the time when he was only
a feudal deity. Astronomy, divination, magic, medicine, writing,
drawing--in fine, all the arts and sciences emanated from him as from
their first source. He had taught mankind the methodical observation
of the heavens and of the changes that took place in them, the slow
revolutions of the sun, the rapid phases of the moon, the intersecting
movements of the five planets, and the shapes and limits of the
constellations which each night were lit up in the sky. Most of the
latter either remained, or appeared to remain immovable, and seemed
never to pass out of the regions accessible to the human eye. Those
which were situate on the extreme margin of the firmament accomplished
movements there analogous to those of the planets.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a copy by Lepsius, _Denkm._,
     iii. 227, 3.

Every year at fixed times they were seen to sink one after another below
the horizon, to disappear, and rising again after an eclipse of greater
or less duration, to regain insensibly their original positions. The
constellations were reckoned to be thirty-six in number, the thirty-six
_decani_ to whom were attributed mysterious powers, and of whom Sothis
was queen--Sothis transformed into the star of Isis, when Orion (Sâhû),
became the star of Osiris. The nights are so clear and the atmosphere so
transparent in Egypt, that the eye can readily penetrate the depths of
space, and distinctly see points of light which would be invisible
in our foggy climate. The Egyptians did not therefore need special
instruments to ascertain the existence of a considerable number of stars
which we could not see without the help of our telescopes; they could
perceive with the naked eye stars of the fifth magnitude, and note them
upon their catalogues.[*] It entailed, it is true, a long training and
uninterrupted practice to bring their sight up to its maximum keenness;
but from very early times it was a function of the priestly colleges
to found and maintain schools of astronomy. The first observatories
established on the banks of the Nile seem to have belonged to the
temples of the sun; the high priests of Râ--who, to judge from their
title, were alone worthy to behold the sun face to face--were actively
employed from the earliest times in studying the configuration and
preparing maps of the heavens. The priests of other gods were quick to
follow their example: at the opening of the historic period, there was
not a single temple, from one end of the valley to the other, that did
not possess its official astronomers, or, as they were called, "watchers
of the night."[**]

     *   Biot, however, states that stars of the third and fourth
     magnitude "are the smallest which can be seen with the
     naked eye." I believe I am right in affirming that several
     of the fellahîn and Bedawîn attached to the "service des
     Antiquités" can see stars which are usually classed with
     those of the fifth magnitude.

     **   _Urshu_: this word is also used for the soldiers on
     watch during the day upon the walls of a fortress. Birch
     believed he had discovered in the British Museum a catalogue
     of observations made at Thebes by several astronomers upon a
     constellation which answered to the Hyades or the Pleiades;
     it was merely a question in this text of the quantity of
     water supplied regularly to the astronomers of a Theban
     temple for their domestic purposes.

In the evening they went up on to the high terraces above the shrine, or
on to the narrow platforms which terminated the pylons, and fixing
their eyes continuously on the celestial vault above them, followed the
movements of the constellations and carefully noted down the slightest
phenomena which they observed. A portion of the chart of the heavens,
as known to Theban Egypt between the eighteenth and twelfth centuries
before our era, has survived to the present time; parts of it were
carved by the decorators on the ceilings of temples, and especially on
royal tombs. The deceased Pharaohs were identified with Osiris in a more
intimate fashion than their subjects. They represented the god even in
the most trivial details; on earth--where, after having played the part
of the beneficent Onnophris of primitive ages, they underwent the most
complete and elaborate embalming, like Osiris of the lower world; in
Hades--where they embarked side by side with the Sun-Osiris to cross the
night and to be born again at daybreak; in heaven--where they shone with
Orion-Sâhu under the guardianship of Sothis, and, year by year, led the
procession of the stars. The maps of the firmament recalled to them, or
if necessary taught them, this part of their duties: they there saw
the planets and the _decani_ sail past in their boats, and the
constellations follow one another in continuous succession. The lists
annexed to the charts indicated the positions occupied each month by the
principal heavenly bodies--their risings, their culminations, and their
settings. Unfortunately, the workmen employed to execute these pictures
either did not understand much about the subject in hand, or did not
trouble themselves to copy the originals exactly: they omitted many
passages, transposed others, and made endless mistakes, which made it
impossible for us to transfer accurately to a modern map the information
possessed by the ancients.

In directing their eyes to the celestial sphere, Thot had at the same
time revealed to men the art of measuring time, and the knowledge of the
future. As he was the moon-god _par excellence_, he watched with jealous
care over the divine eye which had been entrusted to him by Horus, and
the thirty days during which he was engaged in conducting it through all
the phases of its nocturnal life, were reckoned as a month. Twelve of
these months formed the year, a year of three hundred and sixty days,
during which the earth witnessed the gradual beginning and ending of the
circle of the seasons. The Nile rose, spread over the fields, sank again
into its channel; to the vicissitudes of the inundation succeeded the
work of cultivation; the harvest followed the seedtime: these formed
three distinct divisions of the year, each of nearly equal duration.
Thot made of them the three seasons,--that of the waters, Shaît; that
of vegetation, Pirûît; that of the harvest, Shômû--each comprising
four months, numbered one to four; the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th months of
Shaît; the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th months of Pirûît; the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,
and 4th months of Shômû. The twelve months completed, a new year began,
whose birth was heralded by the rising of Sothis in the early days of
August. The first month of the Egyptian year thus coincided with the
eighth of ours. Thot became its patron, and gave it his name, relegating
each of the others to a special protecting divinity; in this manner
the third month of Shaît fell to Hathor, and was called after her; the
fourth of Pirûît belonged to Ranûît or Ramûît, the lady of harvests, and
derived from her its appellation of Pharmûti. Official documents always
designated the months by the ordinal number attached to them in each
season, but the people gave them by preference the names of their
tutelary deities, and these names, transcribed into Greek, and then into
Arabic, are still used by the Christian inhabitants of Egypt, side by
side with the Mussulman appellations. One patron for each month was,
however, not deemed sufficient: each month was subdivided into three
decades, over which presided as many _decani_, and the days themselves
were assigned to genii appointed to protect them. A number of festivals
were set apart at irregular intervals during the course of the year:
festivals for the new year, festivals for the beginning of the seasons,
months and decades, festivals for the dead, for the supreme gods, and
for local divinities. Every act of civil life was so closely allied to
the religious life, that it could not be performed without a sacrifice
or a festival. A festival celebrated the cutting of the dykes, another
the opening of the canals, a third the reaping of the first sheaf, or
the carrying of the grain; a crop gathered or stored without a festival
to implore the blessing of the gods, would have been an act of sacrilege
and fraught with disaster. The first year of three hundred and sixty
days, regulated by the revolutions of the moon, did not long meet the
needs of the Egyptian people; it did not correspond with the length of
the solar year, for it fell short of it by five and a quarter days, and
this deficit, accumulating from twelvemonth to twelvemonth, caused such
a serious difference between the calendar reckoning and the natural
seasons, that it soon had to be corrected. They intercalated, therefore,
after the twelfth month of each year and before the first day of the
ensuing year, five epagomenal days, which they termed the "five days
over and above the year."[*]

     * There appears to be a tendency among Egyptologists now to
     doubt the existence, under the Ancient Empire, of the five
     epagomenal days, and as a fact they are nowhere to be found
     expressly mentioned; but we know that the five gods of the
     Osirian cycle were born during the epagomenal day (cf. p.
     247 of this History), and the allusions to the Osirian
     legend which are met with in the Pyramid texts, prove that
     the days were added long before the time when those
     inscriptions were cut. As the wording of the texts often
     comes down from prehistoric times, it is most likely that
     the invention of the epagomenal days is anterior to the
     first Thinite and Memphite dynasties.

The legend of Osiris relates that Thot created them in order to permit
Nûît to give birth to all her children. These days constituted, at the
end of the "great year," a "little month," which considerably lessened
the difference between the solar and lunar computation, but did not
entirely do away with it, and the six hours and a few minutes of which
the Egyptians had not taken count gradually became the source of fresh
perplexities. They at length amounted to a whole day, which needed to
be added every four years to the regular three hundred and sixty days,
a fact which was unfortunately overlooked. The difficulty, at first only
slight, which this caused in public life, increased with time, and ended
by disturbing the harmony between the order of the calendar and that of
natural phenomena: at the end of a hundred and twenty years, the legal
year had gained a whole month on the actual year, and the 1st of Thot
anticipated the heliacal rising of Sothis by thirty days, instead of
coinciding with it as it ought. The astronomers of the Græco-Roman
period, after a retrospective examination of all the past history of
their country, discovered a very ingenious theory for obviating this
unfortunate discrepancy. If the omission of six hours annually entailed
the loss of one day every four years, the time would come, after three
hundred and sixty-five times four years, when the deficit would amount
to an entire year, and when, in consequence, fourteen hundred and
sixty whole years would exactly equal fourteen hundred and sixty-one
incomplete years. The agreement of the two years, which had been
disturbed by the force of circumstances, was re-established of itself
after rather more than fourteen and a half centuries: the opening of the
civil year became identical with the beginning of the astronomical
year, and this again coincided with the heliacal rising of Sirius, and
therefore with the official date of the inundation. To the Egyptians of
Pharaonic times, this simple and eminently practical method was unknown:
by means of it hundreds of generations, who suffered endless troubles
from the recurring difference between an uncertain and a fixed year,
might have consoled themselves with the satisfaction of knowing that
a day would come when one of their descendants would, for once in
his life, see both years coincide with mathematical accuracy, and
the seasons appear at their normal times. The Egyptian year might be
compared to a watch which loses a definite number of minutes daily. The
owner does not take the trouble to calculate a cycle in which the total
of minutes lost will bring the watch round to the correct time: he bears
with the irregularity as long as his affairs do not suffer by it; but
when it causes him inconvenience, he alters the hands to the right hour,
and repeats this operation each time he finds it necessary, without
being guided by a fixed rule. In like manner the Egyptian year fell
into hopeless confusion with regard to the seasons, the discrepancy
continually increasing, until the difference became so great, that the
king or the priests had to adjust the two by a process similar to that
employed in the case of the watch.

The days, moreover, had each their special virtues, which it was
necessary for man to know if he wished to profit by the advantages, or
to escape the perils which they possessed for him. There was not one
among them that did not recall some incident of the divine wars, and had
not witnessed a battle between the partisans of Sit and those of Osiris
or Râ; the victories or the disasters which they had chronicled had as
it were stamped them with good or bad luck, and for that reason they
remained for ever auspicious or the reverse. It was on the 17th of Athyr
that Typhon had enticed his brother to come to him, and had murdered him
in the middle of a banquet. Every year, on this day, the tragedy that
had taken place in the earthly abode of the god seemed to be repeated
afresh in the heights of heaven. Just as at the moment of the death of
Osiris, the powers of good were at their weakest, and the sovereignty
of evil everywhere prevailed, so the whole of Nature, abandoned to the
powers of darkness, became inimical to man. Whatever he undertook on
that day issued in failure. If he went out to walk by the river-side,
a crocodile would attack him, as the crocodile sent by Sît had attacked
Osiris. If he set out on a journey, it was a last farewell which he bade
to his family and friends: death would meet him by the way. To escape
this fatality, he must shut himself up at home, and wait in inaction
until the hours of danger had passed and the sun of the ensuing day had
put the evil one to flight.[*]

     * On the 20th of Thot no work was to be done, no oxen
     killed, no stranger received. On the 22nd no fish might be
     eaten, no oil lamp was to be lighted. On the 23rd "put no
     incense on the fire, nor kill big cattle, nor goats, nor
     ducks; eat of no goose, nor of that which has lived." On the
     26th "do absolutely nothing on this day," and the same
     advice is found on the 7th of Paophi, on the 18th, on the
     26th, on the 27th, and more than thirty times in the
     remainder of the Sallier Calendar. On the 30th of Mechir it
     is forbidden to speak aloud to any one.

It was to his interest to know these adverse influences; and who would
have known them all, had not Thot pointed them out and marked them in
his calendars? One of these, long fragments of which have come down to
us, indicated briefly the character of each day, the gods who presided
over it, the perils which accompanied their patronage, or the good
fortune which might be expected of them. The details of it are not
always intelligible to us, as we are still ignorant of many of the
episodes in the life of Osiris. The Egyptians were acquainted with the
matter from childhood, and were guided with sufficient exactitude by
these indications. The hours of the night were all inauspicious; those
of the day were divided into three "seasons" of four hours each, of
which some were lucky, while others were invariably of ill omen. "The
4th of Tybi: _good, good, good_. Whatsoever thou seest on this day will
be fortunate. Whosoever is born on this day, will die more advanced in
years than any of his family; he will attain to a greater age than his
father. The 5th of Tybi: _inimical, inimical, inimical_. This is the day
on which the goddess Sokhîfc, mistress of the double white Palace, burnt
the chiefs when they raised an insurrection, came forth, and manifested
themselves. Offerings of bread to Shû, Phtah, Thot: burn incense to Râ,
and to the gods who are his followers, to Phtah, Thot, Hû-Sû, on this
day. Whatsoever thou seest on this day will be fortunate. The 6th of
Tybi: _good, good, good_. Whatsoever thou seest on this day will be
fortunate. The 7th of Tybi: _inimical, inimical, inimical_. Do not
join thyself to a woman in the presence of the Eye of Horus. Beware of
letting the fire go out which is in thy house. The 8th of Tybi: _good,
good, good_. Whatsoever thou seest with thine eye this day, the Ennead
of the gods will grant to thee: the sick will recover. The 9th of Tybi:
_good, good, good_. The gods cry out for joy at noon this day. Bring
offerings of festal cakes and of fresh bread, which rejoice the heart
of the gods and of the manes. The 10th of Tybi: _inimical, inimical,
mimical_. Do not set fire to weeds on this day: it is the day on
which the god Sap-hôû set fire to the land of Btito. The 11th of Tybi:
_inimical, inimical, inimical_. Do not draw nigh to any flame on this
day, for Râ entered the flames to strike all his enemies, and whosoever
draws nigh to them on this day, it shall not be well with him during his
whole life. The 12th of Tybi: _inimical, inimical, inimical_. See that
thou beholdest not a rat on this day, nor approachest any rat within thy
house: it is the day wherein Sokhît gave forth the decrees." In these
cases a little watchfulness or exercise of memory sufficed to put a
man on his guard against evil omens; but in many circumstances all the
vigilance in the world would not protect him, and the fatality of the
day would overtake him, without his being able to do ought to avert it.
No man can at will place the day of his birth at a favourable time; he
must accept it as it occurs, and yet it exercises a decisive influence
on the manner of his death. According as he enters the world on the 4th,
5th, or 6th of Paophi, he either dies of marsh fever, of love, or of
drunkenness. The child of the 23rd perishes by the jaws of a crocodile:
that of the 27th is bitten and dies by a serpent. On the other hand, the
fortunate man whose birthday falls on the 9th or the 29th lives to an
extreme old age, and passes away peacefully, respected by all.


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from  the tracing by Golbnischeff,
     _Die Metternich-Stele_, pi, iii. 14.

Thot, having pointed out the evil to men, gave to them at the same time
the remedy. The magical arts of which he was the repository, made him
virtual master of the other gods. He knew their mystic names, their
secret weaknesses, the kind of peril they most feared, the ceremonies
which subdued them to his will, the prayers which they could not refuse
to grant under pain of misfortune or death. His wisdom, transmitted to
his worshippers, assured to them the same authority which he exercised
upon those in heaven, on earth, or in the nether world. The magicians
instructed in his school had, like the god, control of the words and
sounds which, emitted at the favourable moment with the "correct voice,"
would evoke the most formidable deities from beyond the confines of the
universe: they could bind and loose at will Osiris, Sit, Anubis, even
Thot himself; they could send them forth, and recall them, or constrain
them to work and fight for them. The extent of their power exposed the
magicians to terrible temptations; they were often led to use it to the
detriment of others, to satisfy their spite, or to gratify their grosser
appetites. Many, moreover, made a gain of their knowledge, putting it at
the service of the ignorant who would pay for it. When they were asked
to plague or get rid of an enemy, they had a hundred different ways of
suddenly surrounding him without his suspecting it: they tormented him
with deceptive or terrifying dreams; they harassed him with apparitions
and mysterious voices; they gave him as a prey to sicknesses, to
wandering spectres, who entered into him and slowly consumed him. They
constrained, even at a distance, the wills of men; they caused women to
be the victims of infatuations, to forsake those they had loved, and
to love those they had previously detested. In order to compose an
irresistible charm, they merely required a little blood from a person, a
few nail-parings, some hair, or a scrap of linen which he had worn,
and which, from contact with his skin, had become impregnated with his
personality. Portions of these were incorporated with the wax of a doll
which they modelled, and clothed to resemble their victim; thenceforward
all the inflictions to which the image was subjected were experienced by
the original; he was consumed with fever when his effigy was exposed
to the fire, he was wounded when the figure was pierced by a knife. The
Pharaohs themselves had no immunity from these spells.[*]

     * Spells were employed against Ramses III., and the evidence
     in the criminal charge brought against the magicians
     explicitly mentions the wax figures and the philters used on
     this occasion.

These machinations were wont to be met by others of the same kind, and
magic, if invoked at the right moment, was often able to annul the ills
which magic had begun. It was not indeed all-powerful against fate: the
man born on the 27th of Paophi would die of a snake-bite, whatever
charm he might use to protect himself. But if the day of his death
were foreordained, at all events the year in which it would occur was
uncertain, and it was easy for the magician to arrange that it should
not take place prematurely. A formula recited opportunely, a sentence
of prayer traced on a papyrus, a little statuette worn about the person,
the smallest amulet blessed and consecrated, put to flight the serpents
who were the instruments of fate. Those curious stelae on which we see
Horus half naked, standing on two crocodiles and brandishing in his
fists creatures which had reputed powers of fascination, were so many
protecting talismans; set up at the entrance to a room or a house, they
kept off the animals represented and brought the evil fate to nought.

[Illustration: 306.jpg THE CHILD HORUS ON THE CROCODILES. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an Alexandrian stele in the
     Gîzeh Museum. The reason for the appearance of so many
     different animals in this stele and  in  others of  the
     same nature, has   been given by Maspero, _Études de
     Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes_, vol. ii. pp. 417-
     419; they were all supposed to possess the evil eye and to
     be able to fascinate their victim before striking him.

Sooner or later destiny would doubtless prevail, and the moment would
come when the fated serpent, eluding all precautions, would succeed in
carrying out the sentence of death. At all events the man would have
lived, perhaps to the verge of old age, perhaps to the years of a
hundred and ten, to which the wisest of the Egyptians hoped to attain,
and which period no man born of mortal mother might exceed. If the
arts of magic could thus suspend the law of destiny, how much more
efficacious were they when combating the influences of secondary
deities, the evil eye, and the spells of man? Thot, who was the patron
of sortilege, presided also over exorcisms, and the criminal acts which
some committed in his name could have reparation made for them by others
in his name. To malicious genii, genii still stronger were opposed; to
harmful amulets, those which were protective; to destructive measures,
vitalizing remedies; and this was not even the most troublesome part
of the magicians' task. Nobody, in fact, among those delivered by
their intervention escaped unhurt from the trials to which, he had
been subjected. The possessing spirits when they quitted their victim
generally left behind them traces of their occupation, in the brain,
heart, lungs, intestines--in fact, in the whole body. The illnesses
to which the human race is prone, were not indeed all brought about by
enchanters relentlessly persecuting their enemies, but they were all
attributed to the presence of an invisible being, whether spectre
or demon, who by some supernatural means had been made to enter the
patient, or who, unbidden, had by malice or necessity taken up his
abode within him. It was needful, after expelling the intruder, to
re-establish the health of the sufferer by means of fresh remedies. The
study of simples and other _materiæ medicæ_ would furnish these; Thot
had revealed himself to man as the first magician, he became in like
manner for them the first physician and the first surgeon.

Egypt is naturally a very salubrious country, and the Egyptians boasted
that they were "the healthiest of all mortals;" but they did not neglect
any precautions to maintain their health. "Every month, for three
successive days, they purged the system by means of emetics or clysters.
The study of medicine with them was divided between specialists; each
physician attending to one kind of illness only. Every place possessed
several doctors; some for diseases of the eyes, others for the head,
or the teeth, or the stomach, or for internal diseases." But the
subdivision was not carried to the extent that Herodotus would make
us believe. It was the custom to make a distinction only between the
physician trained in the priestly schools, and further instructed by
daily practice and the study of books,--the bone-setter attached to
the worship of Sokhit who treated fractures by the intercession of the
goddess,--and the exorcist who professed to cure by the sole virtue of
amulets and magic phrases. The professional doctor treated all kinds
of maladies, but, as with us, there were specialists for certain
affections, who were consulted in preference to general practitioners.
If the number of these specialists was so considerable as to attract
the attention of strangers, it was because the climatic character of
the country necessitated it. Where ophthalmia and affections of the
intestines raged violently, we necessarily find many oculists[*] as well
as doctors for internal maladies. The best instructed, however, knew but
little of anatomy. As with the Christian physicians of the Middle
Ages, religious scruples prevented the Egyptians from cutting open
or dissecting, in the cause of pure science, the dead body which was
identified with that of Osiris. The processes of embalming, which would
have instructed them in anatomy, were not intrusted to doctors; the
horror was so great with which any one was regarded who mutilated the
human form, that the "paraschite," on whom devolved the duty of making
the necessary incisions in the dead, became the object of universal
execration: as soon as he had finished his task, the assistants
assaulted him, throwing stones at him with such violence that he had to
take to his heels to escape with his life.[**]

     *  Affections of the eyes occupy one-fourth of the _Ebers

     **  Diodorus Siculus, i. 91.

The knowledge of what went on within the body was therefore but vague.
Life seemed to be a little air, a breath which was conveyed by the veins
from member to member. "The head contains twenty-two vessels, which draw
the spirits into it and send them thence to all parts of the body. There
are two vessels for the breasts, which communicate heat to the lower
parts. There are two vessels for the thighs, two for the neck, two for
the arms, two for the back of the head, two for the forehead, two for
the eyes, two for the eyelids, two for the right ear by which enter the
breaths of life, and two for the left ear which in like manner admit the
breaths of death."

[Illustration: 310.jpg A DEAD MAN RECEIVING THE BREATH OF LIFE. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Naville, in the
     _Ægyptische Todtenbuch_, vol. i. pl. lxix. The deceased
     carries in this hand a sail inflated by the wind,
     symbolizing the air, and holds it to his nostrils that he
     may inhale the breaths which will fill anew his arteries,
     and bring life to his limbs.

The "breaths" entering by the right ear, are "the good airs, the
delicious airs of the north;" the sea-breeze which tempers the burning
of summer and renews the strength of man, continually weakened by the
heat and threatened with exhaustion. These vital spirits, entering the
veins and arteries by the ear or nose, mingled with the blood, which
carried them to all parts of the body; they sustained the animal, and
were, so to speak, the cause of its movement. The heart, the perpetual
mover--_hâîti_--collected them and redistributed them throughout
the body: it was regarded as "the beginning of all the members," and
whatever part of the living body the physician touched, "whether the
head, the nape of the neck, the hands, the breast, the arms, the legs,
his hand lit upon the heart," and he felt it beating under his fingers.
Under the influence of the good breaths, the vessels were inflated and
worked regularly; under that of the evil, they became inflamed, were
obstructed, were hardened, or gave way, and the physician had to remove
the obstruction, allay the inflammation, and re-establish their vigour
and elasticity. At the moment of death, the vital spirits "withdrew with
the soul; the blood," deprived of air, "became coagulated, the veins
and arteries emptied themselves, and the creature perished" for want of

The majority of the diseases from which the ancient Egyptians suffered,
are those which still attack their successors; ophthalmia, affections
of the stomach, abdomen, and bladder, intestinal worms, varicose veins,
ulcers in the leg, the Nile pimple, and finally the "divine mortal
malady," the _divinus morbus_ of the Latins, epilepsy. Anaemia, from
which at least one-fourth of the present population suffers, was not
less prevalent than at present, if we may judge from the number of
remedies which were used against hematuria, the principal cause of it.
The fertility of the women entailed a number of infirmities or local
affections which the doctors attempted to relieve, not always with

     * With regard to the diseases of women, cf. _Ebers Papyrus_,
     pis. xciii., xcviii., etc. Several of the recipes are
     devoted to the solution of a problem which appears to have
     greatly exercised the mind of the ancients, viz. the
     determination of the sex of a child before its birth.

The science of those days treated externals only, and occupied itself
merely with symptoms easily determined by sight or touch; it never
suspected that troubles which showed themselves in two widely remote
parts of the body might only be different effects of the same illness,
and they classed as distinct maladies those indications which we now
know to be the symptoms of one disease. They were able, however,
to determine fairly well the specific characteristics of ordinary
affections, and sometimes described them in a precise and graphic
fashion. "The abdomen is heavy, the pit of the stomach painful, the
heart burns and palpitates violently. The clothing oppresses the sick
man and he can barely support it. Nocturnal thirsts. His heart is sick,
as that of a man who has eaten of the sycamore gum. The flesh loses
its sensitiveness as that of a man seized with illness. If he seek to
satisfy a want of nature he finds no relief. Say to this, 'There is an
accumulation of humours in the abdomen, which makes the heart sick. I
will act.'" This is the beginning of gastric fever so common in Egypt,
and a modern physician could not better diagnose such a case; the
phraseology would be less flowery, but the analysis of the symptoms
would not differ from that given us by the ancient practitioner. The
medicaments recommended comprise nearly everything which can in some way
or other be swallowed, whether in solid, mucilaginous, or liquid form.
Vegetable remedies are reckoned by the score, from the most modest herb
to the largest tree, such as the sycamore, palm, acacia, and cedar, of
which the sawdust and shavings were supposed to possess both antiseptic
and emollient properties. Among the mineral substances are to be noted
sea-salt, alum, nitre, sulphate of copper, and a score of different
kinds of stones--among the latter the "memphite stone" was distinguished
for its virtues; if applied to parts of the body which were lacerated
or unhealthy, it acted as an anaesthetic and facilitated the success of
surgical operations. Flesh taken from the living subject, the heart, the
liver, the gall, the blood--either dried or liquid--of animals, the hair
and horn of stags, were all customarily used in many cases where the
motive determining their preference above other _materiæ medicæ_ is
unknown to us. Many recipes puzzle us by their originality and by the
barbaric character of the ingredients recommended: "the milk of a woman
who has given birth to a boy," the dung of a lion, a tortoise's brains,
an old book boiled in oil.[*]

     * Ebers Papyrus, pl. lxxviii. 1. 22--lxxix. 1. 1: "To
     relieve a child who is constipated.--An old book. Boil it in
     oil, and apply half to the stomach, to provoke evacuation."
     It must not be forgotten that, the writings being on
     papyrus, the old book in question, once boiled, would have
     an effect analogous to that of our linseed-meal poultices.
     If the physician recommended taking an old one, it was for
     economical reasons merely; the Egyptians of the middle
     classes would always have in their possession a number of
     letters, copy-books, and other worthless waste papers, of
     which they would gladly rid themselves in such a profitable

The medicaments compounded of these incongruous substances were often
very complicated. It was thought that the healing power was increased by
multiplying the curative elements; each ingredient acted upon a specific
region of the body, and after absorption, separated itself from the rest
to bring its influence to bear upon that region. The physician made use
of all the means which we employ to-day to introduce remedies into
the human system, whether pills or potions, poultices, or ointments,
draughts or clysters. Not only did he give the prescriptions, but he
made them up, thus combining the art of the physician with that of the
dispenser. He prescribed the ingredients, pounded them either separately
or together, he macerated them in the proper way, boiled them, reduced
them by heating, and filtered them through linen. Fat served him as the
ordinary vehicle for ointments, and pure water for potions; but he
did not despise other liquids, such as wine, beer (fermented or
un-fermented), vinegar, milk, olive oil, "ben" oil either crude or
refined, even the urine of men and animals: the whole, sweetened with
honey, was taken hot, night and morning. The use of more than one of
these remedies became worldwide; the Greeks borrowed them from the
Egyptians; we have piously accepted them from the Greeks; and our
contemporaries still swallow with resignation many of the abominable
mixtures invented on the banks of the Nile, long before the building of
the Pyramids.

It was Thot who had taught men arithmetic; Thot had revealed to them the
mysteries of geometry and mensuration; Thot had constructed instruments
and promulgated the laws of music; Thot had instituted the art of
drawing, and had codified its unchanging rules. He had been the inventor
or patron of all that was useful or beautiful in the Nile valley,
and the climax of his beneficence was reached by his invention of the
principles of writing, without which humanity would have been liable to
forget his teaching, and to lose the advantage of his discoveries. It
has been sometimes questioned whether writing, instead of having been
a benefit to the Egyptians, did not rather injure them. An old legend
relates that when the god unfolded his discovery to King Thamos, whose
minister he was, the monarch immediately raised an objection to it.


     1 Bas-relief of the temple of Seti I. at Abydos, drawn by
     Boudier; from a photograph by Beato. The god is marking with
     his reed-pen upon the notches of a long frond of palm, the
     duration in millions of years of the reign of Pharaoh upon
     this earth, in accordance with the decree of the gods.

Children and young people, who had hitherto been forced to apply
themselves diligently to learn and retain whatever was taught them, now
that they possessed a means of storing up knowledge without trouble,
would cease to apply themselves, and would neglect to exercise their
memories. Whether Thamos was right or not, the criticism came too late:
"the ingenious art of painting words and of speaking to the eyes" had
once for all been acquired by the Egyptians, and through them by the
greater part of mankind. It was a very complex system, in which were
united most of the methods fitted for giving expression to thought,
namely: those which were limited to the presentment of the idea, and
those which were intended to suggest sounds.

[Illustration: 316.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

At the outset the use was confined to signs intended to awaken the idea
of the object in the mind of the reader by the more or less faithful
picture of the object itself; for example, they depicted the sun by a
centred disc, the moon by a crescent, a lion by a lion in the act of
walking, a man by a small figure in a squatting attitude. As by this
method it was possible to convey only a very restricted number of
entirely materialistic concepts, it became necessary to have recourse
to various artifices in order to make up for the shortcomings of the
ideograms properly so-called. The part was put for the whole, the pupil
in place of the whole eye, the head of the ox instead of the complete
ox. The Egyptians substituted cause for effect and effect for cause, the
instrument for the work accomplished, and the disc of the sun signified
the day; a smoking brazier the fire: the brush, inkpot, and palette of
the scribe denoted writing or written documents. They conceived the
idea of employing some object which presented an actual or supposed
resemblance to the notion to be conveyed; thus, the foreparts of a lion
denoted priority, supremacy, command; the wasp symbolized royalty, and
a tadpole stood for hundreds of thousands. They ventured finally to use
conventionalisms, as for instance when they drew the axe for a god,
or the ostrich-feather for justice; the sign in these cases had only a
conventional connection with the concept assigned to it. At times two or
three of these symbols were associated in order to express conjointly an
idea which would have been inadequately rendered by one of them alone:
a five-pointed star placed under an inverted crescent moon denoted a
month, a calf running before the sign for water indicated thirst.

[Illustration: 317.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

All these artifices combined furnished, however, but a very incomplete
means of seizing and transmitting thought. When the writer had written
out twenty or thirty of these signs and the ideas which they were
supposed to embody, he had before him only the skeleton of a sentence,
from which the flesh and sinews had disappeared; the tone and rhythm of
the words were wanting, as were also the indications of gender, number,
person, and inflection, which distinguish the different parts of speech
and determine the varying relations between them. Besides this, in order
to understand for himself and to guess the meaning of the author, the
reader was obliged to translate the symbols which he deciphered,
by means of words which represented in the spoken language the
pronunciation of each symbol. Whenever he looked at them, they suggested
to him both the idea and the word for the idea, and consequently a sound
or group of sounds; when each of them had thus acquired three or four
invariable associations of sound, he forgot their purely ideographic
value and accustomed himself to consider them merely as notations of

The first experiment in phonetics was a species of rebus, where each of
the signs, divorced from its original sense, served to represent
several words, similar in sound, but differing in meaning in the spoken
language. The same group of articulations, _Naûfir, Nofir_, conveyed in
Egyptian the concrete idea of a lute and the abstract idea of beauty;
the sign expressed at once the lute and beauty.

[Illustration: 318.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

The beetle was called Khopirru, and the verb "to be" was pronounced
_khopirû_: the figure of the beetle & consequently signified both the
insect and the verb, and by further combining with it other signs, the
articulation of each corresponding syllable was given in detail. The
sieve _Miaû_, the mat _pu, pi_, the mouth _ra, rû_, gave the formula
_khaû-pi-rû_, which was equivalent to the sound of _khopirû_, the verb
"to be:" grouped together, they denoted in writing the concept of "to
be" by means of a triple rebus. In this system, each syllable of a
word could be represented by one of several signs, all sounding alike.
One-half of these "syllables" stood for open, the other half for closed
syllables, and the use of the former soon brought about the formation of
a true alphabet. The final vowel in them became detached, and left only
the remaining consonant--for example, _r in rû, h in ha, n in ni, b in
bû_--so that rû, ha, bû, eventually stood for r, h, n, and b only. This
process in the course of time having been applied to a certain number of
syllables, furnished a fairly large alphabet, in which several letters
represented each of the twenty-two chief articulations, which
the scribes considered sufficient for their purposes. The signs
corresponding to one and the same letter were homophones or "equivalents
in sound"--[ ] are homophones, just as [ ] and [ ], because each of
them, in the group to which it belongs, may be indifferently used to
translate to the eye the articulations m or n. One would have thought
that when the Egyptians had arrived thus far, they would have been led,
as a matter of course, to reject the various characters which they had
used each in its turn, in order to retain an alphabet only.

[Illustration: 319.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

But the true spirit of invention, of which they had given proof,
abandoned them here as elsewhere: if the merit of a discovery was often
their due, they were rarely able to bring their invention to perfection.
They kept the ideographic and syllabic signs which they had used at the
outset, and, with the residue of their successive notations, made for
themselves a most complicated system, in which syllables and ideograms
were mingled with letters properly so called. There is a little of
everything in an Egyptian phrase, sometimes even in a word; as, for
instance, in [ ] maszirû, the ear, or [ ] kherôû, the voice; there are
the syllables [ ] kher, the ordinary letters [ ], which complete the
phonetic pronunciation, and finally the ideograms, namely, [ ], which
gives the picture of the ear by the side of the written word for it, and
[ ] which proves that the letters represent a term designating an action
of the mouth. This medley had its advantages; it enabled the Egyptians
to make clear, by the picture of the object, the sense of words which
letters alone might sometimes insufficiently explain. The system
demanded a serious effort of memory and long years of study; indeed,
many people never completely mastered it. The picturesque appearance
of the sentences, in which we see representations of men, animals,
furniture, weapons, and tools grouped together in successive little
pictures, rendered hieroglyphic writing specially suitable for the
decoration of the temples of the gods or the palaces of kings. Mingled
with scenes of worship, sacrifice, battle, or private life, the
inscriptions frame or separate groups of personages, and occupy the
vacant spaces which the sculptor or painter was at a loss to fill;
hieroglyphic writing is pre-eminently a monumental script. For the
ordinary purposes of life it was traced in black or red ink on fragments
of limestone or pottery, or on wooden tablets covered with stucco, and
specially on the fibres of papyrus. The exigencies of haste and the
unskilfulness of scribes soon changed both its appearance and its
elements; the characters when contracted, superimposed and united to
one another with connecting strokes, preserved only the most distant
resemblance to the persons or things which they had originally
represented. This cursive writing, which was somewhat incorrectly
termed hieratic, was used only for public or private documents, for
administrative correspondence, or for the propagation of literary,
scientific, and religious works.

It was thus that tradition was pleased to ascribe to the gods, and
among them to Thot--the doubly great--the invention of all the arts and
sciences which gave to Egypt its glory and prosperity. It was clear,
not only to the vulgar, but to the wisest of the nation, that, had their
ancestors been left merely to their own resources, they would never have
succeeded in raising themselves much above the level of the brutes. The
idea that a discovery of importance to the country could have risen in a
human brain, and, once made known, could have been spread and developed
by the efforts of successive generations, appeared to them impossible
to accept. They believed that every art, every trade, had remained
unaltered from the outset, and if some novelty in its aspect tended to
show them their error, they preferred to imagine a divine intervention,
rather than be undeceived. The mystic writing, inserted as chapter
sixty-four in the _Book of the Dead_, and which subsequently was
supposed to be of decisive moment to the future life of man, was, as
they knew, posterior in date to the other formulas of which this book
was composed; they did not, however, regard it any the less as being of
divine origin. It had been found one day, without any one knowing whence
it came, traced in blue characters on a plaque of alabaster, at the
foot of the statue of Thot, in the sanctuary of Hermopolis. A prince,
Hardiduf, had discovered it in his travels, and regarding it as a
miraculous object, had brought it to his sovereign. This king, according
to some, was Hûsaphaîti of the first dynasty, but by others was believed
to be the pious Mykerinos. In the same way, the book on medicine,
dealing with the diseases of women, was held not to be the work of
a practitioner; it had revealed itself to a priest watching at night
before the Holy of Holies in the temple of Isis at Coptos. "Although the
earth was plunged into darkness, the moon shone upon it and enveloped
it with light. It was sent as a great wonder to the holiness of King
Kheops, the just of speech." The gods had thus exercised a direct
influence upon men until they became entirely civilized, and this work
of culture was apportioned among the three divine dynasties according
to the strength of each. The first, which comprised the most vigorous
divinities, had accomplished the more difficult task of establishing the
world on a solid basis; the second had carried on the education of
the Egyptians; and the third had regulated, in all its minutiae, the
religious constitution of the country. When there was nothing more
demanding supernatural strength or intelligence to establish it, the
gods returned to heaven, and were succeeded on the throne by mortal men.
One tradition maintained dogmatically that the first human king whose
memory it preserved, followed immediately after the last of the gods,
who, in quitting the palace, had made over the crown to man as his heir,
and that the change of nature had not entailed any interruption in the
line of sovereigns. Another tradition would not allow that the contact
between the human and divine series had been so close. Between the
Ennead and Menés, it intercalated one or more lines of Theban or Thinite
kings; but these were of so formless, shadowy, and undefined an aspect,
that they were called Manes, and there was attributed to them at most
only a passive existence, as of persons who had always been in the
condition of the dead, and had never been subjected to the trouble of
passing through life. Menés was the first in order of those who were
actually living. From his time, the Egyptians claimed to possess an
uninterrupted list of the Pharaohs who had ruled over the Nile valley.
As far back as the XVIIIth dynasty this list was written upon papyrus,
and furnished the number of years that each prince occupied the throne,
or the length of his life.[*]

     * The only one of these lists which we possess, the "Turin
     Royal Papyrus," was bought, nearly intact, at Thebes, by
     Drovetti, about 1818, but was accidentally injured by him in
     bringing home. The fragments of it were acquired, together
     with the rest of the collection, by the Piedmontese
     Government in 1820, and placed in the Turin Museum, where
     Champollion saw and drew attention to them in 1824.
     Seyffarth carefully collected and arranged them in the order
     in which they now are; subsequently Lepsius gave a facsimile
     of them in 1840, in his _Auswahl der wichtigsten Urhunden_,
     pls. i.-vi., but this did not include the verso;
     Champollion-Figeac edited in 1847, in the _Revue
     Archéologique_, 1st series, vol. vi., the tracings taken by
     the younger Champollion before Seyffarth's arrangement;
     lastly, Wilkinson published the whole in detail in 1851.
     Since then, the document has been the subject of continuous
     investigation: E. de Rougé has reconstructed, in an almost
     conclusive manner, the pages containing the first six
     dynasties, and Lauth, with less certainty, those which deal
     with the eight following dynasties.

Extracts from it were inscribed in the temples, or even in the tombs
of private persons; and three of these abridged catalogues are still
extant, two coming from the temples of Seti I. and Ramses II. at
Abydos,[*] while the other was discovered in the tomb of a person
of rank named Tunari, at Saqqâra.[**] They divided this interminable
succession of often problematical personages into dynasties, following
in this division, rules of which we are ignorant, and which varied in
the course of ages. In the time of the Ramessides, names in the list
which subsequently under the Lagides formed five groups were made to
constitute one single dynasty.[***]

     *  The first table of Abydos, unfortunately incomplete, was
     discovered in the temple of Ramses II. by Banks, in 1818;
     the copy published by Caillaud and by Salt served as a
     foundation for Champollion's first investigations on the
     history of Egypt. The original, brought to France by Mimaut,
     was acquired by England, and is now in the British Museum.
     The second table, which is complete, all but a few signs,
     was brought to light by Mariette in 1864, in the excavations
     at Abydos, and was immediately noticed and published by
     Dùmichen. The text of it is to be found in Mariette, _La
     Nouvelle Table d'Abydos (Revue Archéologique_, 2nd series,
     vol. xiii.), and _Abydos_, vol. i. pl. 43.

     **  The table of Saqqâra, discovered in 1863, has been
     published by Mariette, _La Table de Saqqâra (Revue
     Archéologique_, 2nd series, vol. x. p. 169, et seq.), and
     reproduced in the _Monuments Divers_, pl. 58.

     ***  The Royal Canon of Turin, which dates from the
     Ramesside period, gives, indeed, the names of these early
     kings without a break, until the list reaches Unas; at this
     point it sums up the number of Pharaohs and the aggregate
     years of their reigns, thus indicating the end of a dynasty.
     In the intervals between the dynasties rubrics are placed,
     pointing out the changes which took place in the order of
     direct succession. The division of the same group of
     sovereigns into five dynasties has been preserved to us by

Manetho of Sebennytos, who wrote a history of Europe for the use of
Alexandrine Greeks, had adopted, on some unknown authority, a division
of thirty-one dynasties from Menés to the Macedonian Conquest, and his
system has prevailed--not, indeed, on account of its excellence, but
because it is the only complete one which has come down to us.[*] All
the families inscribed in his lists ruled in succession.[**]

     *  The best restoration of the system of Manetho is that by
     Lepsius, _Das Konigsbuch der Alten Ægypter_, which should be
     completed and corrected from the memoirs of Lauth, Lieblein,
     Krall, and Unger. A common fault attaches to all these
     memoirs, so remarkable in many respects. They regard the
     work of Manetho, not as representing a more or less
     ingenious system applied to Egyptian history, but as
     furnishing an authentic scheme of this history, in which it
     is necessary to enclose all the royal names which the
     monuments have revealed, and are still daily revealing to

     **  E. de Rougé triumphantly demonstrated, in opposition to
     Bunsen, now nearly fifty years ago, that all Manetho's
     dynasties are successive, and the monuments discovered from
     year to year in Egypt have confirmed his demonstration in
     every detail.

The country was no doubt frequently broken up into a dozen or more
independent states, each possessing its own kings during several
generations; but the annalists had from the outset discarded these
collateral lines, and recognized only one legitimate dynasty, of which
the rest were but vassals. Their theory of legitimacy does not always
agree with actual history, and the particular line of princes which they
rejected as usurpers represented at times the only family possessing
true rights to the crown.[*]

     * It is enough to give two striking examples of this. The
     royal lists of the time of the Ramessides suppress, at the
     end of the XVIIIth dynasty, Amenôthes IV. and several of his
     successors, and give the following sequence--Amenôthes
     III., Harmhabît, Ramses I., without any apparent hiatus;
     Manetho, on the contrary, replaces the kings who were
     omitted, and keeps approximately to the real order between
     Horos (Amenôthes III.) and Armais (Harmhabît). Again, the
     official tradition of the XXth dynasty gives, between Ramses
     II. and Ramses III., the sequence--Mînephtah, Seti IL,
     Nakht-Seti; Manetho, on the other hand, gives Amenemes
     followed by Thûôris, who appear to correspond to the
     Amenmeses and Siphtah of contemporary monuments, but, after
     Mînephtah, he omits Seti II. and Nakhîtou-Seti, the father
     of Ramses III.

In Egypt, as elsewhere, the official chroniclers were often obliged to
accommodate the past to the exigencies of the present, and to manipulate
the annals to suit the reigning party; while obeying their orders the
chroniclers deceived posterity, and it is only by a rare chance that
we can succeed in detecting them in the act of falsification, and can
re-establish the truth.

[Illustration: 325.jpg TABLE OF THE KINGS]

The system of Manetho, in the state in which it has been handed down
to us by epitomizers, has rendered, and continues to render, service to
science; if it is not the actual history of Egypt, it is a sufficiently
faithful substitute to warrant our not neglecting it when we wish to
understand and reconstruct the sequence of events. His dynasties furnish
the necessary framework for most of the events and revolutions, of which
the monuments have preserved us a record. At the outset, the centre to
which the affairs of the country gravitated was in the extreme north
of the valley. The principality which extended from the entrance of the
Fayûm to the apex of the Delta, and subsequently the town of Memphis
itself, imposed their sovereigns upon the remaining nomes, served as an
emporium for commerce and national industries, and received homage and
tribute from neighbouring peoples. About the time of the VIth dynasty
this centre of gravity was displaced, and tended towards the interior;
it was arrested for a short time at Heracleo-polis (IXth and Xth
dynasties), and ended by fixing itself at Thebes (XIth dynasty). From
henceforth Thebes became the capital, and furnished Egypt with her
rulers. With the exception of the XIVth Xoïte dynasty, all the families
occupying the throne from the XIth to the XXth dynasty were Theban. When
the barbarian shepherds invaded Africa from Asia, the Thebaïd became the
last refuge and bulwark of Egyptian nationality; its chiefs struggled
for many centuries against the conquerors before they were able to
deliver the rest of the valley. It was a Theban dynasty, the XVIIIth,
which inaugurated the era of foreign conquest; but after the XIXth, a
movement, the reverse of that which had taken place towards the end of
the first period, brought back the centre of gravity, little by little,
towards the north of the country. From the time of the XXIst dynasty,
Thebes ceased to hold the position of capital: Tanis, Bubastis, Mendes,
Sebennytos, and above all, Sais, disputed the supremacy with each other,
and political life was concentrated in the maritime provinces. Those
of the interior, ruined by Ethiopian and Assyrian invasions, lost their
influence and gradually dwindled away. Thebes became impoverished and
depopulated; it fell into ruins, and soon was nothing more than a resort
for devotees or travellers. The history of Egypt is, therefore, divided
into three periods, each corresponding to the suzerainty of a town or a

I.--Memphite Period, usually called the "Ancient Empire," from the Ist
to the Xth dynasty: kings of Memphite origin ruled over the whole of
Egypt during the greater part of this epoch.

II.--Theban Period, from the XIth to the XXth dynasty. It is divided
into two parts by the invasion of the Shepherds (XVIth dynasty):

a. The first Theban Empire (Middle Empire), from the XIth to the XIVth

b. The new Theban Empire, from the XVIIth to the XXth dynasty.

III.--Saïte Period, from the XXIst to the XXXth dynasty, divided into
two unequal parts by the Persian Conquest:

a. The first Saïte period, from the XXIst to the XXVIth dynasty.

b. The second Saïte period, from the XXVIIIth to the XXXth dynasty.

The Memphites had created the monarchy. The Thebans extended the rule of
Egypt far and wide, and made of her a conquering state: for nearly six
centuries she ruled over the Upper Nile and over Western Asia. Under
the Saïtes she retired gradually within her natural frontiers, and
from having been aggressive became assailed, and suffered herself to be
crushed in turn by all the nations she had once oppressed.[*]

     * The division into Ancient, Middle, and New Empire,
     proposed by Lepsius, has the disadvantage of not taking into
     account the influence which the removal of the seat of the
     dynasties exercised on the history of the country. The
     arrangement which I have here adopted was first put forward
     in the _Revue critique_, 1873, vol. i. pp. 82, 83.

The monuments have as yet yielded no account of the events which tended
to unite the country under the rule of one man; we can only surmise that
the feudal principalities had gradually been drawn together into two
groups, each of which formed a separate kingdom. Heliopolis became the
chief focus in the north, from which civilization radiated over the
rich plains and the marshes of the Delta. Its colleges of priests had
collected, condensed, and arranged the principal myths of the local
religions; the Ennead to which it gave conception would never have
obtained the popularity which we must acknowledge it had, if its princes
had not exercised, for at least some period, an actual suzerainty over
the neighbouring plains. It was around Heliopolis that the kingdom of
Lower Egypt was organized; everything there bore traces of Heliopolitan
theories--the protocol of the kings, their supposed descent from Râ, and
the enthusiastic worship which they offered to the sun. The Delta, owing
to its compact and restricted area, was aptly suited for government from
one centre; the Nile valley proper, narrow, tortuous, and stretching
like a thin strip on either bank of the river, did not lend itself to so
complete a unity. It, too, represented a single kingdom, having the reed
and the lotus for its emblems; but its component parts were more loosely
united, its religion was less systematized, and it lacked a well-placed
city to serve as a political and sacerdotal centre. Hermopolis contained
schools of theologians who certainly played an important part in the
development of myths and dogmas; but the influence of its rulers was
never widely felt. In the south, Siût disputed their supremacy, and
Heracleopolis stopped their road to the north. These three cities
thwarted and neutralized one another, and not one of them ever succeeded
in obtaining a lasting authority over Upper Egypt. Each of the two
kingdoms had its own natural advantages and its system of government,
which gave to it a particular character, and stamped it, as it were,
with a distinct personality down to its latest days. The kingdom
of Upper Egypt was more powerful, richer, better populated, and was
governed apparently by more active and enterprising rulers. It is to
one of the latter, Mini or Menés of Thinis, that tradition ascribes
the honour of having fused the two Egypts into a single empire, and of
having inaugurated the reign of the human dynasties. Thinis figured in
the historic period as one of the least of Egyptian cities. It barely
maintained an existence on the left bank of the Nile, if not on the
exact spot now occupied by Girgeh, at least only a short distance from

     * The site of Thinis is not yet satisfactorily identified.
     It is neither at Kom-es-Sultân, as Mariette thought, nor,
     according to the hypothesis of A. Schmidt, at El-Kherbeh.
     Brugsch has proposed to fix the site at the village of
     Tineh, near Berdis, and is followed in this by Dumichen. The
     present tendency is to identify it either with Girgeh
     itself, or with one of the small neighbouring towns--for
     example, Birbeh--where there are some ancient ruins; this
     was also the opinion of Champollion and of Nester L'hôte. I
     may mention that, in a frequently quoted passage of
     Hellanicos, Zoèga corrects the reading [Greek phrase], which
     would once more give us the name of Thinis: the mention of
     this town as being "situated on the river," would be a fresh
     reason for its identification with Girgeh.

1865 AND 1875.]

The principality of the Osirian Reliquary, of which it was the
metropolis, occupied the valley from one mountain range to the other,
and gradually extended across the desert as far as the Great Theban
Oasis. Its inhabitants worshipped a sky-god, Anhûri, or rather two twin
gods, Anhûri-Shû, who were speedily amalgamated with the solar deities
and became a warlike personification of Râ. Anhûri-Shû, like all the
other solar manifestations, came to be associated with a goddess having
the form or head of a lioness--a Sokhît, who took for the occasion the
epithet of Mîhît, the northern one. Some of the dead from this city
are buried on the other side of the Nile, near the modern village of
Mesheikh, at the foot of the Arabian chain, whose steep cliffs here
approach somewhat near the river: the principal necropolis was at some
distance to the east, near the sacred town of Abydos. It would appear
that, at the outset, Abydos was the capital of the country, for the
entire nome bore the same name as the city, and had adopted for its
symbol the representation of the reliquary in which the god reposed. In
very early times Abydos fell into decay, and resigned its political rank
to Thinis, but its religious importance remained unimpaired. The city
occupied a long and narrow strip of land between the canal and the first
slopes of the Libyan mountains. A brick fortress defended it from the
incursions of the Bedouin, and beside it the temple of the god of the
dead reared its naked walls. Here, Anhûri, having passed from life to
death, was worshipped under the name of Khontamentît, the chief of
that western region whither souls repair on quitting this earth. It is
impossible to say by what blending of doctrines or by what political
combinations this Sun of the Night came to be identified with Osiris of
Mendes, since the fusion dates back to a very remote antiquity; it had
become an established fact long before the most ancient sacred books
were compiled. Osiris Khontamentît grew rapidly in popular favour, and
his temple attracted annually an increasing number of pilgrims. The
Great Oasis had been considered at first as a sort of mysterious
paradise, whither the dead went in search of peace and happiness. It was
called Uîfc, the Sepulchre; this name clung to it after it had become
an actual Egyptian province, and the remembrance of its ancient purpose
survived in the minds of the people, so that the "cleft," or gorge
in the mountain through which the doubles journeyed towards it, never
ceased to be regarded as one of the gates of the other world. At the
time of the New Year festivals, spirits flocked thither from all parts
of the valley; they there awaited the coming of the dying sun, in order
to embark with him and enter safely the dominions of Khontamentît.
Abydos, even before the historic period, was the only town, and its god
the only god, whose worship, practised by all Egyptians, inspired them
all with an equal devotion. The excavations of the last few years have
brought to light some, at all events, of the oldest Pharaohs known to
the Egyptian annalists, namely, those whom they placed in their first
human dynasties; and the locality where the monuments of these
princes were discovered, shows us that these writers were correct in
representing Thinis as playing an important part in the history of the
early ages of their country. If the tomb of Menés--that sovereign
whom we are inclined to look upon as the first king of the official
lists--lies near the village of Nagadeh, not far from Thebes,[*] those
of his immediate successors are close to Thinis, in the cemeteries of
Abydos.[**] They stand at the very foot of the Libyan hills, near the
entrance to the ravine--the "Cleft"--through which the mysterious oasis
was reached, and thither the souls flocked in order that they might
enter by a safe way the land beyond the grave.[***]

     * The objects found during these excavations are now in  the
     Gîzeh Museum.

     **  The credit of having discovered this important
     necropolis, and of having brought to light the earliest
     known monuments of the first dynasties, is entirely due to
     Amélineau. He carried on important work there during four
     years, from 1895 to 1899: unfortunately its success was
     impaired by the theories which he elaborated with regard to
     the new monuments, and by the delay in publishing an account
     of the objects which remained in his possession.

     ***  For the "Cleft," cf. supra, pp. 281, 282, 334.

The mass of pottery, whole and broken, which has accumulated on this
site from the offerings of centuries has obtained for it among the
Fellahin the name of Omm-el-G-aâb--"the mother of pots." The tombs there
lie in serried ranks. They present for the most part a rough model of
the pyramids of the Memphite period--rectangular structures of bricks
without mortar rising slightly above the level of the plain. The funeral
chamber occupies the centre of each, and is partly hollowed out of the
soil, like a shallow well, the sides being bricked. It had a flat timber
roof, covered by a layer of about three feet of sand; the floor also was
of wood, and in several cases the remains of the beams of both ceiling
and pavement have been brought to light. The body of the royal inmate
was laid in the middle of the chamber, surrounded by its funeral
furniture and by a part of the offerings. The remainder was placed in
the little rooms which opened out of the principal vault, sometimes
on the same level, sometimes on one higher than itself; after their
contents had been laid within them, the entrance to these rooms was
generally walled up. Human bodies have been found inside them, probably
those of slaves killed at the funeral that they might wait upon the dead
in his life beyond the grave.[*] The objects placed in these chambers
were mostly offerings, but besides these were coarse stelae bearing the
name of a person, and dictated to "the double of his luminary."[**]
Some of them mention a dwarf[***] or a favourite dog of the sovereign,
who accompanied his master into the tomb. Tablets of ivory or bone
skilfully incised furnish us with scenes representing some of the
ceremonies of the deification of the king in his lifetime and the
sacrifices offered at the time of his burial;[****] in rarer instances
they record his exploits.

     *  El. Petrie, The Royal Tombs of the First Dynasty, part i.
     p. 14.

     **  The "luminous double" or the "double of his luminary" is
     doubtless that luminous spectre which haunted the tombs and
     even the houses of the living during the night, and which I
     have mentioned, supra, p. 160.

     ***  Petrie found the skeletons of two dwarfs, probably the
     very two to whom the two stelae (Nos. 36, 37) in the tomb of
     Semempses were raised. Was one of these dwarfs one of the
     _Danga_ of Puanît who were sought after by the Pharaohs of
     the Memphite dynasties?

     ****  This was the ceremony called by the Egyptians "The
     Festival of the Foundation "--_habu sadu_.

The offerings themselves were such as we meet with in burials of
a subsequent age--bread, cakes, meat, and poultry of various
sorts--indeed, everything we find mentioned in the lists inscribed in
the tombs of the later dynasties, particularly the jars of wine and
liquors, on the clay bungs of which are still legible the impression
of the signet bearing the name of the sovereign for whose use they were
sealed. Besides stuffs and mats, the furniture comprised chairs, beds,
stools, an enormous number of vases, some in coarse pottery for common
use, others in choice stone such as diorite, granite, or rock crystal
very finely worked, on the fragments of all of which may be read cut
in outline the names and preamble of the Pharaoh to whom the object
belonged. The ceremonial of the funerary offering and its significance
was already fully developed at this early period; this can be gathered
by the very nature of the objects buried with the deceased, by their
number, quantity, and by the manner in which they were arranged. Like
their successors in the Egypt of later times, these ancient kings
expected to continue their material existence within the tomb, and
they took precautions that life there should be as comfortable as
circumstances should permit. Access to the tomb was sometimes gained
by a sloping passage or staircase; this made it possible to see if
everything within was in a satisfactory condition. After the dead had
been enclosed in his chamber, and five or six feet of sand had been
spread over the beams which formed its roof, the position of the tomb
was shown merely by a scarcely perceptible rise in the soil of the
necropolis, and its site would soon have been forgotten, if its
easternmost limits had not been marked by two large stelae on which
were carefully engraved one of the appellations of the king--that of his
double, or his Horus name.[*]

     * For the Horus name of the Pharaohs, see vol. ïi., pp. 23-

It was on this spot, upon an altar placed between the two stelæ, that
the commemorative ceremonies were celebrated, and the provisions renewed
on certain days fixed by the religious law. Groups of private tombs
were scattered around,--the resting-places of the chief officers of the
sovereign, the departed Pharaoh being thus surrounded in death by
the same courtiers as those who had attended him during his earthly

The princes, whose names and titles have been revealed to us by the
inscriptions on these tombs, have not by any means been all classified
as yet, the prevailing custom at that period having been to designate
them by their Horus names, but rarely by their proper names, which
latter is the only one which figures in the official lists which we
possess of the Egyptian kings. A few texts, more explicit than the rest,
enable us to identify three of them with the Usaphais, the Miebis, and
the Semempses of Manetho--the fifth, sixth, and seventh kings of
the Ist dynasty.[*] The fact that they are buried in the necropolis of
Abydos apparently justifies the opinion of the Egyptian chroniclers that
they were natives of Thinis. Is the Menés who usually figures at their
head[**] also a Thinite prince?

     *  The credit is due to Sethe of having attributed their
     ordinary names to several of the kings of the Ist dynasty
     with Horus names only which were found by Amélineau, and
     these identifications have been accepted by all
     Egyptologists. Pétrie discovered quite recently on some
     fragments of vases the Horus names of these same princes,
     together with their ordinary names. The Usaphais, the
     Miebis, and the Semempses of Manetho are now satisfactorily
     identified with three of the Pharaohs discovered by
     Amélineau and by Pétrie.

     **  In the time of Seti I. and Ramses II. he heads the list
     of the Table of Abydos. Under Ramses II. his statue was
     carried in procession, preceding all  the  other  royal
     statues.    Finally,   the  "Royal  Papyrus"  of  Turin,
     written in the time of Ramses I., begins the entire series
     of the human Pharaohs with his name.

Several scholars believe that his ordinary name, Mini, is to be read on
an ivory tablet engraved for a sovereign whose Horus name--Ahauîti, the
warlike--is known to us from several documents, and whose tomb also has
been discovered, but at Nagadeh. It is a great rectangular structure
of bricks 165 feet long and 84 broad, the external walls of which were
originally ornamented by deep polygonal grooves, resembling those which
score the façade of Chaldæan buildings, but the Nagadeh tomjb has a
second brick wall which fills up all the hollows left in the first one,
and thus hides the primitive decoration of the monument. The building
contains twenty-one chambers, five of which in the centre apparently
constituted the dwelling of the deceased, while the others, grouped
around these, serve as storehouses from whence he could draw his
provisions at will. Did the king buried within indeed bear the name
of Menés,[*] and if such was the case, how are we to reconcile the
tradition of his Thinite origin with the existence of his far-off tomb
in the neighbourhood of Thebes?

     * The sign _Manu_, which appears on the ivory tablet found
     in this tomb, has been interpreted as a king's name, and
     consequently inferred to be Menés. This reading has been
     disputed on various sides, and the point remains, therefore,
     a contested one until further discovery.

Objects bearing his Horus name have been found at Omm-el-Gaâb, and it is
evident that he belonged to the same age as the sovereigns interred in
this necropolis. If, indeed, Menés was really his personal name, there
is no reason against his being the Menés of tradition, he whom the
Pharaohs of the glorious Theban dynasties regarded as the earliest of
their purely human ancestors. Whether he was really the first king who
reigned over the whole of Egypt, or whether he had been preceded
by other sovereigns whose monuments we may find in some site still
unexplored, is a matter for conjecture. That princes had exercised
authority in various parts of the country is still uncertain, but that
the Egyptian historians did not know them, seems to prove that they had
left no written records of their names. At any rate, a Menés lived who
reigned at the outset of history, and doubtless before long the Nile
valley, when more carefully explored, will yield us monuments recording
his actions and determining his date. The civilization of the Egypt of
his time was ruder than that with which we have hitherto been familiar
on its soil, but even at that early period it was almost as complete.
It had its industries and its arts, of which the cemeteries furnish
us daily with the most varied examples: weaving, modelling in clay,
wood-carving, the incising of ivory, gold, and the hardest stone were
all carried on; the ground was cultivated with hoe and plough; tombs
were built showing us the model of what the houses and palaces must have
been; the country had its army, its administrators, its priests, its
nobles, its writing, and its system of epigraphy differs so little from
that to which we are accustomed in later ages, that we can decipher it
with no great difficulty. Frankly speaking, all that we know at present
of the first of the Pharaohs beyond the mere fact of his existence is
practically _nil_, and the stories related of him by the writers of
classical times are mere legends arranged to suit the fancy of the
compiler. "This Menés, according to the priests, surrounded Memphis with
dykes. For the river formerly followed the sandhills for some distance
on the Libyan side. Menés, having dammed up the reach about a hundred
stadia to the south of Memphis, caused the old bed to dry up, and
conveyed the river through an artificial channel dug midway between the
two mountain ranges. Then Menés, the first who was king, having enclosed
a firm space of ground with dykes, there founded that town which is
still called Memphis; he then made a lake round it, to the north and
west, fed by the river, the city being bounded on the east by the

     * The dyke supposed to have been made by Menés is evidently
     that of Qosheîsh, which now protects the province of Gîzeh,
     and regulates the inundation in its neighbourhood.

The history of Memphis, such as it can be gathered from the monuments,
differs considerably from the tradition current in Egypt at the time of
Herodotus. It appears, indeed, that at the outset, the site on which
it subsequently arose was occupied by a small fortress, Anbû-hazû--the
white wall--which was dependent on Heliopolis, and in which Phtah
possessed a sanctuary. After the "white wall" was separated from the
Heliopolitan principality to form a nome by itself, it assumed a certain
importance, and furnished, so it was said, the dynasties which succeeded
the Thinite. Its prosperity dates only, however, from the time when
the sovereigns of the Vth and VIth dynasties fixed on it for their
residence; one of them, Papi L, there founded for himself and for his
"double" after him, a new town, which he called Minnofîrû, from his
tomb. Minnofîrû, which is the correct pronunciation and the origin of
Memphis, probably signified "the good refuge," the haven of the good,
the burying-place where the blessed dead came to rest beside Osiris. The
people soon forgot the true interpretation, or probably it did not fall
in with their taste for romantic tales. They were rather disposed, as a
rule, to discover in the beginnings of history individuals from whom the
countries or cities with which they were familiar took their names:
if no tradition supplied them with this, they did not experience any
scruple in inventing one. The Egyptians of the time of the Ptolemies,
who were guided in their philological speculations by the pronunciation
in vogue around them, attributed the patronship of their city to a
Princess Memphis, a daughter of its founder, the fabulous Uchoreus;
those of preceding ages before the name had become altered, thought
to find in Minnofîrû a "Mini Nofir," or "Menés the Good," the reputed
founder of the capital of the Delta. Menés the Good, divested of his
epithet, is none other than Menés, the first king, and he owes this
episode in his life to a popular attempt at etymology. The legend which
identifies the establishment of the kingdom with the construction of
the city, must have originated at the time when Memphis was still the
residence of the kings and the seat of government, at latest about the
end of the Memphite period. It must have been an old tradition in the
time of the Theban dynasties, since they admitted unhesitatingly the
authenticity of the statements which ascribed to the northern city so
marked a superiority over their own country.

[Illustration: 343.jpg NECKLACE, BEARING NAME OF MENES. 1]

     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin after Prisse d'Avenues. The gold
     medallions engraved with the name of Menés are ancient, and
     perhaps go back to the XXth dynasty; the setting is entirely
     modern, with the exception of the three oblong pendants of

When once this half-mythical Menés was firmly established in his
position, there was little difficulty in inventing a story which would
portray him as an ideal sovereign. He was represented as architect,
warrior, and statesman; he had begun the temple of Phtah, written laws
and regulated the worship of the gods, particularly that of Hâpis, and
he had conducted expeditions against the Libyans. When he lost his only
son in the flower of his age, the people improvised a hymn of mourning
to console him--the "Maneros"--both the words and the tune of which were
handed down from generation to generation. He did not, moreover, disdain
the luxuries of the table, for he invented the art of serving a dinner,
and the mode of eating it in a reclining posture. One day, while
hunting, his dogs, excited by something or other, fell upon him to
devour him. He escaped with difficulty, and, pursued by them, fled to
the shore of Lake Moeris, and was there brought to bay; he was on the
point of succumbing to them, when a crocodile took him on his back and
carried him across to the other side.[*] In gratitude he built a new
town, which he called Crocodilopolis, and assigned to it for its god the
crocodile which had saved him; he then erected close to it the famous
labyrinth and a pyramid for his tomb. Other traditions show him in a
less favourable light. They accuse him of having, by horrible crimes,
excited against him the anger of the gods, and allege that after a reign
of sixty to sixty-two years, he was killed by a hippopotamus which came
forth from the Nile.[**]

     *  This is an episode from the legend of Osiris: at Phihe,
     in the little building of the Antonines, may be seen a
     representation of a crocodile crossing the Nile, carrying on
     his back the mummy of the god. The same episode is also
     found in the tale of Onus el Ujûd and of Uard f'il-Ikmâm,
     where the crocodile leads the hero to his beautiful prisoner
     in the Island of Philæ. Ebers, _Ægypte_, French trans., vol.
     ii. pp. 415, 416, has shown how this episode in the Arab
     story must have been inspired by the bas-relief at Philæ and
     by the scene which it portrays: the temple is still called
     "Kasr," and the island "Geziret Onus el-Ujûd."

     **  In popular romances, this was the usual end of criminals
     of every kind; we shall see that another king, Akhthoes the
     founder of the IXth dynasty, after committing horrible
     misdeeds, was killed, in the same way as Menés, by a

They also related that the Saïte Tafnakhti, returning from an expedition
against the Arabs, during which he had been obliged to renounce the pomp
and luxuries of royal life, had solemnly cursed him, and had caused his
imprecations to be inscribed upon a stele set up in the temple of Amon
at Thebes. Nevertheless, in the memory that Egypt preserved of its first
Pharaoh, the good outweighed the evil. He was worshipped in Memphis side
by side with Phtah and Ramses II.; his name figured at the head of the
royal lists, and his cult continued till the time of the Ptolemies.

His immediate successors had an actual existence, and their tombs are
there in proof of it. We know where Usaphais, Miebis, and Semempses[*]
were laid to rest, besides more than a dozen other princes whose real
names and whose position in the official lists are still uncertain. The
order of their succession was often a matter of doubt to the Egyptians
themselves, but perhaps the discoveries of the next few years will
enable us to clear up and settle definitely matters which were shrouded
in mystery in the time of the Theban Pharaohs. As a fact, the forms of
such of their names as have been handed down to us by later tradition,
are curt and rugged, indicative of an early state of society, and
harmonizing with the more primitive civilization to which they belong:
Ati the Wrestler, Teti the Runner, Qenqoni the Crusher, are suitable
rulers for a people, the first duty of whose chief was to lead his
followers into battle, and to strike harder than any other man in the
thickest of the fight.[**]

     *  Flinders Pétrie, _The 'Royal Tombs of the First Dynasty_,
     vol. i. p. 56.

     **  The Egyptians were accustomed to explain the meaning of
     the names of their kings to strangers, and the Canon of
     Eratosthenes has preserved several of their derivations, of
     which a certain number, as, for instance, that of Menés from
     aùovioç, the "lasting," are tolerably correct. M. Krall is,
     to my knowledge, the only Egyptologist who has attempted to
     glean from the meaning of these names indications of the
     methods by which the national historians of Egypt
     endeavoured to make up the lists of the earliest dynasties.

Some of the monuments they have left us, seem to show that their reigns
were as much devoted to war as those of the later Pharaohs. The king
whose Horus name was Nârumîr, is seen on a contemporary object which has
come down to us, standing before a heap of beheaded foes; the bodies
are all stretched out on the ground, each with his head placed neatly
between his legs: the king had overcome, apparently in some important
engagement, several thousands of his enemies, and was inspecting the
execution of their leaders. That the foes with whom these early kings
contended were in most cases Egyptian princes of the nomes, is proved by
the list of city names which are inscribed on the fragments of another
document of the same nature, and we gather from them that Dobu (Edfu),
Hasutonu (Cynopolis), Habonu (Hipponon), Hakau (Memphis) and others were
successively taken and dismantled.[*]

     *  Palette resembling the preceding one, and with it
     deposited in the Gîzeh Museum; reproduced by Steindokff, and
     by J. de Morgan. The names of the towns were enclosed within
     the embattled line which was used later on to designate
     foreign countries. The animals which surmount them represent
     the gods of Egypt, the king's protectors; and the king
     himself, identified with these gods, is making a breach in
     the wall with a pick-axe. The names of the towns have not
     been satisfactorily identified: Hat-kau, for instance, may
     not be Memphis, but it appears that there is no doubt with
     regard to Habonu. Cf. Sayce, The Beginnings of the Egyptian
     Monarchy in the Proceedings of the Biblical Archæological
     Society, 1898, vol. xx. pp, 99-101.

On this fragment King Den is represented standing over a prostrate chief
of the Bedouin, striking him with his mace. Sondi, who is classed in the
IInd dynasty, received a continuous worship towards the end of the IIIrd
dynasty. But did all those whose names preceded or followed his on the
lists, really exist as he did? and if they existed, to what extent do
the order and the relation assigned to them agree with the actual truth?
The different lists do not contain the same names in the same positions;
certain Pharaohs are added or suppressed without appreciable reason.
Where Manetho inscribes Kenkenes and Ouenephes, the tables of the time
of Seti I. gave us Ati and Ata; Manetho reckons nine kings to the IInd
dynasty, while they register only five.[*]

     * The impossibility of reconciling the names of the Greek
     with those of the Pharaonic lists has been admitted by most
     of the savants who have discussed the matter, viz. Mariette,
     E. de Rouge, Lieblein, Wiedemann; most of them explain the
     differences by the supposition that, in many cases, one of
     the lists gives the cartouche name, and the other the
     cartouche prenomen of the same king.

The monuments, indeed, show us that Egypt in the past obeyed princes
whom her annalists were unable to classify: for instance, they associate
with Sondi a Pirsenû, who is not mentioned in the annals. We must,
therefore, take the record of all this opening period of history for
what it is--namely, a system invented at a much later date, by means of
various artifices and combinations--to be partially accepted in default
of a better, but without according to it that excessive confidence which
it has hitherto received. The two Thinite dynasties, in direct descent
from the first human king Menés, furnish, like this hero himself, only a
tissue of romantic tales and miraculous legends in the place of history.
A double-headed stork, which had appeared in the first year of Teti,
son of Menés, had foreshadowed to Egypt a long prosperity, but a famine
under Ouenephes, and a terrible plague under Semempses, had depopulated
the country: the laws had been relaxed, great crimes had been committed,
and revolts had broken out. During the reign of Boêthos, a gulf had
opened near Bubastis, and swallowed up many people, then the Nile had
flowed with honey for fifteen days in the time of Nephercheres, and
Sesochris was supposed to have been a giant in stature. A few details
about royal edifices were mixed up with these prodigies. Teti had laid
the foundation of the great palace of Memphis, Ouenephes had built the
pyramids of Ko-komè near Saqqara. Several of the ancient Pharaohs had
published books on theology, or had written treatises on anatomy and
medicine; several had made laws which lasted down to the beginning of
the Christian era. One of them was called Kakôû, the male of males, or
the bull of bulls. They explained his name by the statement that he had
concerned himself about the sacred animals; he had proclaimed as gods,
Hâpis of Memphis, Mnevis of Heliopolis, and the goat of Mendes. After
him, Binôthris had conferred the right of succession upon all the women
of the blood-royal. The accession of the IIIrd dynasty, a Memphite one
according to Manetho, did not at first change the miraculous character
of this history. The Libyans had revolted against Necherophes, and the
two armies were encamped before each other, when one night the disk of
the moon became immeasurably enlarged, to the great alarm of the rebels,
who recognized in this phenomenon a sign of the anger of heaven, and
yielded without fighting. Tosorthros, the successor of Necherophes,
brought the hieroglyphs and the art of stone-cutting to perfection. He
composed, as Teti did, books of medicine, a fact which caused him to
be identified with the healing god Imhotpu. The priests related these
things seriously, and the Greek writers took them down from their lips
with the respect which they offered to everything emanating from the
wise men of Egypt.

What they related of the human kings was not more detailed, as we see,
than their accounts of the gods. Whether the legends dealt with deities
or kings, all that we know took its origin, not in popular imagination,
but in sacerdotal dogma: they were invented long after the times they
dealt with, in the recesses of the temples, with an intention and a
method of which we are enabled to detect flagrant instances on the
monuments. Towards the middle of the third century before our era, the
Greek troops stationed on the southern frontier, in the forts at the
first cataract, developed a particular veneration for Isis of Philæ.
Their devotion spread to the superior officers who came to inspect them,
then to the whole population of the Thebàid, and finally reached the
court of the Macedonian kings. The latter, carried away by force
of example, gave every encouragement to a movement which attracted
worshippers to a common sanctuary, and united in one cult the two races
over which they ruled. They pulled down the meagre building of the
Sa'ite period which had hitherto sufficed for the worship of Isis,
constructed at great cost the temple which still remains almost intact,
and assigned to it considerable possessions in Nubia, which, in
addition to gifts from private individuals, made the goddess the richest
landowner in Southern Egypt. Khnûmû and his two wives, Anûkit and Satît,
who, before Isis, had been the undisputed suzerains of the cataract,
perceived with jealousy their neighbour's prosperity: the civil wars
and invasions of the centuries immediately preceding had ruined their
temples, and their poverty contrasted painfully with the riches of the


     1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of the bas-reliefs of the
     temple of Khnûmû, at Elephantine.    This bas-relief is now

The priests resolved to lay this sad state of affairs before King
Ptolemy, to represent to him the services which they had rendered and
still continued to render to Egypt, and above all to remind him of the
generosity of the ancient Pharaohs, whose example, owing to the poverty
of the times, the recent Pharaohs had been unable to follow.

[Illustration: 351.jpg ANÛKIT]

Doubtless authentic documents were wanting in their archives to support
their pretensions: they therefore inscribed upon a rock, in the island
of Sehel, a long inscription which they attributed to Zosiri of the
IIIrd dynasty. This sovereign had left behind him a vague reputation for
greatness. As early as the XIIth dynasty Usirtasen III. had claimed
him as "his father"--his ancestor--and had erected a statue to him; the
priests knew that, by invoking him, they had a chance of obtaining a
hearing. The inscription which they fabricated, set forth that in
the eighteenth year of Zosiri's reign he had sent to Madîr, lord of
Elephantine, a message couched in these terms: "I am overcome with
sorrow for the throne, and for those who reside in the palace, and my
heart is afflicted and suffers greatly because the Nile has not risen in
my time, for the space of eight years. Corn is scarce, there is a lack
of herbage, and nothing is left to eat: when any one calls upon his
neighbours for help, they take pains not to go. The child weeps, the
young man is uneasy, the hearts of the old men are in despair, their
limbs are bent."

Ptolemies admit the claims which the local priests attempted to deduce
from this romantic tale? and did the god regain possession of the
domains and dues which they declared had been his right? The stele shows
us with what ease the scribes could forge official documents, when
the exigencies of they crouch on the earth, they fold their hands; the
courtiers have no further resources; the shops formerly furnished
with rich wares are now filled only with air, all that was in them has

"My spirit also, mindful of the beginning of things, seeks to call upon
the Saviour who was here where I am, during the centuries of the gods,
upon Thot-Ibis, that great wise one, upon Imhotpû, son of Phtah of
Memphis. Where is the place in which the Nile is born? Who is the god or
goddess concealed there? What is his likeness?"

[Illustration: 353.jpg THE STEP PYRAMID OF SAUARA. 1]

     1  Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Dévèria (1864); in
     the foreground, the tomb of Ti.

The lord of Elephantine brought his reply in person. He described to the
king, who was evidently ignorant of it, the situation of the island and
the rocks of the cataract, the phenomena of the inundation, the gods who
presided over it, and who alone could relieve Egypt from her disastrous
plight. Zosiri repaired to the temple of the principality and offered
the prescribed sacrifices; the god arose, opened his eyes, panted and
cried aloud, "I am Khnûmû who created thee!" and promised him a speedy
return of a high Nile and the cessation of the famine. Pharaoh was
touched by the benevolence which his divine father had shown him; he
forthwith made a decree by which he ceded to the temple all his rights
of suzerainty over the neighbouring nomes within a radius of twenty
miles. Henceforward the entire population, tillers and vinedressers,
fishermen and hunters, had to yield the tithe of their incomes to the
priests; the quarries could not be worked without the consent of Khnûmû,
and the payment of a suitable indemnity into his coffers, and finally,
all metals and precious woods shipped thence for Egypt had to submit to
a toll on behalf of the temple. Did the daily life forced the necessity
upon them; it teaches us at the same time how that fabulous chronicle
was elaborated, whose remains have been preserved for us by classical
writers. Every prodigy, every fact related by Manetho, was taken from
some document analogous to the supposed inscription of Zosiri.[*]

     *  The legend of the yawning gulf at Bubastis must be
     connected with the gifts supposed to have been offered by
     King Boêthos to the temple of that town, to repair the
     losses sustained by the goddess on that occasion; the legend
     of the pestilence and famine is traceable to some relief
     given by a local god, and for which Semempses and Ùenephes
     might have shown their gratitude in the same way as Zosiri.
     The tradition of the successive restorations of Denderah
     accounts for the constructions attributed to Teti I. and to
     Tosorthros; finally, the prête tided discoveries of sacred
     books, dealt with elsewhere, show how Manetho was enabled to
     attribute to his Pharaohs the authorship of works on
     medicine or theology.

The real history of the early centuries, therefore, eludes our
researches, and no contemporary record traces for us those vicissitudes
which Egypt passed through before being consolidated into a single
kingdom, under the rule of one man. Many names, apparently of powerful
and illustrious princes, had survived in the memory of the people;
these were collected, classified, and grouped in a regular manner into
dynasties, but the people were ignorant of any exact facts connected
with the names, and the historians, on their own account, were reduced
to collect apocryphal traditions for their sacred archives. The
monuments of these remote ages, however, cannot have entirely
disappeared: they exist in places where we have not as yet thought of
applying the pick, and chance excavations will some day most certainly
bring them to light. The few which we do possess barely go back beyond
the IIIrd dynasty: namely, the hypogeum of Shiri, priest of Sondi and
Pirsenû; possibly the tomb of Khûîthotpû at Saqqâra; the Great Sphinx
of Gîzeh; a short inscription on the rocks of the Wady Maghâra, which
represents Zosiri (the same king of whom the priests of Khnûmû in the
Greek period made a precedent) working the turquoise or copper mines of
Sinai; and finally the Step-Pyramid where this same Pharaoh rests.[*]

     * The stele of Sehêl has enabled us to verify the fact that
     the preamble [a string of titles] to the inscription of the
     king, buried in the Step-Pyramid, is identical with that of
     King Zosiri: it was, therefore, Zosiri who constructed, or
     arranged for the construction of this monument as his tomb.
     The Step-Pyramid of Saqqâra was opened in 1819, at the
     expense of the Prussian General Minutoli, who was the first
     to give a brief description of the interior, illustrated by
     plans and drawings.

It forms a rectangular mass, incorrectly orientated, with a variation
from the true north of 4° 35', 393 ft. 8 in. long from east to west,
and 352 ft. deep, with a height of 159 ft. 9 in. It is composed of six
cubes, with sloping sides, each being about 13 ft. less in width than
the one below it; that nearest to the ground measures 37 ft. 8 in. in
height, and the uppermost one 29 ft. 9 in. It was entirely constructed
of limestone from the neighbouring mountains. The blocks are small, and
badly cut, the stone courses being concave to offer a better resistance
to downward thrust and to shocks of earthquake. When breaches in the
masonry are examined, it can be seen that the external surface of
the steps has, as it were, a double stone facing, each facing being
carefully dressed. The body of the pyramid is solid, the chambers
being cut in the rock beneath. These chambers have been often enlarged,
restored, and reworked in the course of centuries, and the passages
which connect them form a perfect labyrinth into which it is dangerous
to venture without a guide. The columned porch, the galleries and
halls, all lead to a sort of enormous shaft, at the bottom of which the
architect had contrived a hiding-place, destined, no doubt, to contain
the more precious objects of the funerary furniture. Until the beginning
of this century, the vault had preserved its original lining of glazed
pottery. Three quarters of the wall surface were covered with green
tiles, oblong and slightly convex on the outer side, but flat on the
inner: a square projection pierced with a hole, served to fix them at
the back in a horizontal line by means of flexible wooden rods.


     1  Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the coloured sketch by
     Sogato. M. Stern attributes the decoration of glazed pottery
     to the XXVI '' dynasty, which opinion is shared by
     Borchardt. The yellow and green glazed tiles hearing the
     cartouche of Papi I., show that the Egyptians of the
     Memphite dynasties used glazed facings at that early date;
     we may, therefore, believe, if the tiles of the vault of
     Zosiri are really of the Saïte period, that they replaced a
     decoration of the same kind, which belonged to the time of
     its construction, and of which some fragments still exist
     among the tiles of more recent date.

The three bands which frame one of the doors are inscribed with the
titles of the Pharaoh: the hieroglyphs are raised in either blue, red,
green, or yellow, on a fawn-coloured ground. Other kings had built
temples, palaces, and towns,--as, for instance, King Khâsakhimu, of
whose constructions some traces exist at Hieracônpolis, opposite to
El-Kab, or King Khâsakhmui, who preceded by a few years the Pharaohs of
the IVth dynasty--but the monuments which they raised to be witnesses of
their power or piety to future generations, have, in the course of ages,
disappeared under the tramplings and before the triumphal blasts of many
invading hosts: the pyramid alone has survived, and the most ancient of
the historic monuments of Egypt is a tomb.

[Illustration: 357.jpg TAILPIECE]


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