صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني




No. III.—[Continued from No. LVI.] To explain how foreign divinities and foreign rites and ceremonies became common in Egypt, it will be necessary to advert for a moment to the history of the Egypto-Greeks.

In the 8th century before the Christian æra, the adventurous colonies of Ionia and Caria had, amidst other commercial, or rather piratical expeditions, undertaken a voyage to Egypt. Their brazen armour,' their courage, and activity were beheld with amazement by the Egyptians. At that time Psammetichus (son of Ecus, who was put to death by Sabbæon the Ethiopian) was one of the twelve lords, who, upon the death of king Sethon, had assumed the government of the country and divided it among them. Possessing chiefly the sea-coast, it appears that he had acquired considerable wealth by commerce, which excited the jealousy of the other petty potentates. In the disputes which ensued, Psammetichus secured the assistance of these wandering Greeks, by whose valor and discipline he ultimately became sole monarch of Egypt, about the year 670 B. C. In consideration of such important services he rewarded his allies with lands upon the Nile, which induced many of them to settle in that country. From this æra a Grecian colony subsisted in Egypt, which maintained an intercourse with their countrymen, and rendered the transactions of that kingdom a part of genuine history. The Greeks upheld the throne of his successors until Apries, the fourth in descent from Psammetichus, having undertaken an expedition against the Greek colony of Cyrene, was dethroned by Amasis, the cotemporary and ally of Creesus. Amasis rivalled the Lydian prince in his partiality for the language and manners of the Greeks. He raised a Cyrenian woman to the honors of his bed. The Greeks who had served his predecessors, and who, in consequence of the Egyptian law, obliging the son to follow the profession of his father, now amounted to near 30,000, he removed to Memphis, his capital, and employed them.

' Herodotus, lib. ii.

years for the

as his body-guard. He encouraged the correspondence of this colony with the mother-country; invited new inhabitants from Greece into Egypt; promoted the commercial intercourse between the two nations; and assigned to the Greek merchants, for their residence the town and district of Naucratis on the Nile, where they enjoyed the free exercise of their religious processions and solemnities, and wbere ihe iudustry of the little island of Ægina in Europe, and the opulence of several Greek cities in Asia, erected temples after the fashion of their respective countries.

Herodotus visited Egypt about the year 450 B. C.; there was therefore an interval of more than 200

exportation of the Gods and religious ceremonies of the Egyptians, and for the importation of foreign deities and rites of worship among the Egypto-Greeks and others whom commerce had induced to settle in that country.

This shows how the borderers of the Nile, according to Herodotus, were familiar with the Gods, and many civil institutious of Greece, during the most florishing period of the Egyptian hierarchy; and how the two systems subsisted and descended together to the Macedonian conquest, and, through the tolerant disposition of the Prolensies, to the time when the sceptre of Egypt passed from their hands to those of the Ronians without ever amalgamating. It was not the natives but the descendants of the Greek colony from Lesser Asia, who had acquired not only a permanent settlement but the exclusive commerce of the country, by whom the Egyptian symbols were mingled with those peculiar to the mythology of their mother-country. Unlike the Egyptians, the Greeks had no scruples respecting objects of adoration : they welcomed those of every nation; and when they could not borrow, they invented.

From these observations it is easy to reconcile the appearance of Egyptian symbols in the Zodiac, in conjunction with those of Greece. As, therefore, the Zodiac consists of an as- · semblage of mythological figures peculiar to Greece and Egypt, and as the Egyptians never adopted foreign deities, it follows that the whole Zodiac was the work of the Greeks; because the mixture of the mythological symbols of different countries was compatible with their religious customs, and incompatible

[ocr errors]

As Libru is decidedly foreign to Egypt, and therefore not against the argument, I have not thought it necessary to notice in the text its exception to the classification there stated.

with those of the Egyptians. And as some of the figures, as has been proved, were not invented until the time of Pindar, it follows that the construction of the Zodiac could not be earlier than the


in which he florished. In the fourth place, the antiquity of the Zodiac is contradicted by the style and condition of the Egyptian temples.

The Ptolemies and Roman emperors successively adorned Egypt with numerous and magnificent edifices, which recent researches have identified with those which subsist at present. Granger, in speaking of the ruins of two palaces which made part of the ruins of ancient Thebes, says of the one, that the columns which supported the roof were of the Corinthian order ; and that the chapiters of the columns of the other were of the Composite.

Of Tentyra Denon says,' “ After having seen all the other Egyptian monuments, this still appeared the most perfect in its execution, and constructed at the happiest period of the arts and sciences.'

Belzoni mentions that in the ancient temple of Gyrshe in Nubia may be seen how the sculpture of primitive ages differs from that of the mere modern school. The colossi in it, indicate that the artist meant to represent men, but this is all; their legs are mere shapeless columns, and their bodies out of all proportion; their es are as ba as the artist could make them from the model of an Ethiopian.

He farther observes that, “from the good state of preservation, and superiority of the workmanship, the temple of Tentyra is probably of the time of the Ptolemies.” “The circular form of the Zodiac in the inDer apartment,” he adds, “ led me to suppose in some measure, that this temple was built at a later period than the rest, as nothing like it is seen any where else. The eastern wall of the great temple, is richly adorned with figures in intaglio relevalo, which are perfectly finished.. “The temple of Edfu,” he continues, “nay be compared to Tentyra in point of preservation, and is superior in magnitude. The propylæon is the largest and most perfect of any in Egypt, covered on all sides with colossal figures in intaglio relevato. At El Kalabshe are the ruins of a temple evidently of a later date than any other in Nubia; for it appeared to be thrown down by violence, as there was not that decay in its materials, which I have observed in other edifices. There are two columns, and one pedestal, on each of the doors into the pronaos. They are joined by a wall raised nearly half their height; which proves the late period when this temple was erected, as such a wall is clearly seen in all other temples of later date; and I would not hesitate to say, that Tentyra, Philoe, Edfu, and this temple, were erected by the Ptolemies; for

! Vol. ii. ch. 17.

though there is a great similitude in all the Egyptian temples, yet there is a certain elegance in the forms of the more recent, that distinguishes them from the older massy works, whence they appear to me to have been executed by Egyptians under the direction of the Greeks.”

On a MS. map of the course of the Nile, from Essouan to the confines of Dongola, constructed by Colonel Leake, chiefly from the journal of Mr. Burckhardt, we have read, says the reviewer of Light's Travels in Egypt and Nubia, the following note : 1

“The ancient temples above Philoe are of two very different kinds : those excavated in the rock of Gyrshe and Ebsambul, rival some of the grandest works of the Egyptians, and may be supposed at least coeval with the ancient monarchy of Thebes. The temples constructed in masonry, on the other hand, are not to be compared with those of Egypt, either in size or in the costly decorations of sculpture and painting; they are probably the works of a much later age.”

Mr. Davison found the colors in Tentyra, Thebes and Diospolis still fresh and vivid.

In another part of Belzoni's work he says, “I observed the figure of Harpocrates which is described by Mr. Hamilton, seated on a full-blown lotus, with his finger on his lips, on the side wall of the pronaos of the temple of Edfu, as in the minor temple of Tentyra. On the propylæon of the temple of Dakke, are several Egyptian, Coptic, and Greek inscriptions. In the granite quarries 2} hours south-east of Assouan, I found a column lying on the ground with a Latin inscription. Captain Chilia, in uncovering the ground in front of the great Sphinx near the pyramids, found at the bottom of a stair-case of 32 steps, an altar, with a Greek inscription, of the time of the Ptolemies. Forty-five feet from this he found another, with an inscription alluding to the Emperor Septimius Severus; and near to the first step was a stone, with another Greek inscription alluding to Antoninus."

“We thus finit," says Mr. Burckhardt, “ in Nubia specimens of all the different æras of Egyptian architecture, the history of which indeed can only be traced in Nubia; for all the remaining temples in Egypt (thal of Gorne, perhaps, excepted) appear to have been erected in an age when the science of architecture had nearly attained to perfection. If I were to class the Nubian temples according to the probable order of their erection, it would be as follows. 1st. Ebsambul; 2nd. Gyrshe; 311. Derr; 4th. Samne, &c." (Mr. Burckhardt enumerating downwards 10 Tafa, the 14th in his order of succession.)

Such is the information afforded upon this subject by some of the most recent and respectable travellers in that country, from an attentive consideration of which there appears strong evidence against the high antiquity of those magnificent fabrics. The first part of the evidence worthy of particular notice, is the existence

[blocks in formation]

of two of the orders of architecture among the ruins of Thebes ; the Corinthian and the Composite.

The orders of architecture were unknown in ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, India, and China. Their invention is ascribed to the Asiatic Greeks who forished in the vicinity of Phrygia and Lydia. The silence of Homer respecting them in his architectural descriptions, particularly of the palaces of Alcinous and Ulysses, is the argument upon which the opinion is founded that they were not known in his time. Perhaps their earliest

appearance was in the temples of Jupiter at Olympia, and of Diana at Ephesus, raised respectively about the years 630 and 560 B. C. Scopas, of Ephesus, who florished about the year 450 B. C., employed the three Grecian orders in the second temple of Minerva at Tegea in Arcadia. The art of cutting marble, which afterwards furnished Grecian ingenuity with the materials of those inimitable productions which are still the wonder of the world, was unknown at the æra of the Trojan war; for in the description of the palace of Alcinous, which is represented as shining with gold, silver, brass, and amber, there is no mention of that substance.

The Doric, or, as it is emphatically called, the Grecian order was the first-born of architecture, and in its composition seems to bear authentic marks of its legitimate origin in wooden construction transferred to stone. It is probable that the earliest Greek temples were of wood, since so many of them were consumed during the invasion of Xerxes. The temple of Jerusalem was surrounded with columns of cedar; and Vitruvius informs us, that the ancient Tuscan temples were constructed with wooden architraves. Four centuries from the Homeric times we find the Greeks arrived at the bighest excellence in the polite arts. The progress and improvement in architecture appears to have occupied a period of 300 years, beginning from the time when the temple of Jupiter at Olympia, and those of Samos, Priene, Ephesus, and Magnesia, were begun, until the time of Pericles, when the ornamental style of the Greeks attained its utmost beauty and perfection in the Parthenon of Athens. All the varieties and ornaments in architecture, together with the Ionic and Corinthian orders, were invented within this space of time ;whether all this was their own invention, and by what steps they made such progress, is not mentioned; but the following observations may help us considerably in this difficulty.

“While ancient Greece was barassed by intestine dissensions, and its northern frontier exposed to the hostility of neighboring barbarians, the eastern colonies enjoyed profound peace, and Horished in the vicinity

« السابقةمتابعة »