Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/74

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EGYPTIAN CIVILIZATION.

irrespective of time or mood, so that grammarians who have introduced these forms into their paradigms call them "Present-Past-Future," first, second or third. They might add, "Indicative-Potential-Conjunctive," and so forth. The Egyptian verb is often accompanied by an auxiliary, and is grammatically subordinate to it; and the combinations formed by these auxiliary words with the verbal notion enable the language to express meanings equivalent to those expressed by our Indo-European tenses and moods. But this is very different from what is meant by paradigm.

I have just spoken of the grammatical subordination of a verb to its auxiliary. This is almost the only kind of grammatical subordination which exists in the language, and the consequence of it is fatal to anything like beauty of construction in the form of the sentences. It seems unfair to judge of the capabilities of a language of which almost the entire literature has perished. How could we judge of the capabilities of the Greek language had all its poetry and oratory been lost, and nothing remained but its inscriptions? Yet enough remains to show what the structure of the Egyptian sentences must necessarily have been; we possess several narratives of considerable length and of different dates, a great many hymns, and the heroic poem of Pentaur, which was considered sufficiently important to be engraved on the walls of at least four temples—Abydos, Luqsor, Karnak and Ipsambul—at one of the