Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/19

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4
LECTURE I.

an ibis or a dog to save you? For when men have sinned against the gods whom all acknowledge, whom will the altar of a cat repel by its terrors?"[1] Classical scholars are familiar with the Satire commonly attributed to Juvenal: "Who does not know what kinds of monsters demented Egypt worships? One part adores the crocodile, another quakes before the ibis gorged with serpents. The golden image of a sacred long-tailed ape glitters where the magic chords resound from mutilated Memnon, and ancient Thebes lies in ruin, with her hundred gates. There whole towns venerate cats, here a river fish, there a dog, but no one Diana. It is impiety to violate and break with the teeth the leek and onion. O holy races, to whom such deities as these are born in their gardens!"[2]

It is not wonderful that, with such evidence before them, many writers should at the present day speak of the Egyptian religion as one of the lowest and grossest forms of nature-worship, as consisting in what is commonly called African fetishism, or at least as being based upon it.


How far can such Evidence be relied upon?

Yet the external aspect of a religion as presented to strangers is not often one that is to be trusted. "We

  1. These comedians are quoted in Athen.: Deipnos. vii. p. 299.
  2. Juvenal, Sat. xv. 1. Mr. Lewis's translation.