The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian/Book I
Part 1 - Chapter 1 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - Chapter 2 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - Chapter 3 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24
1What notions they had of the gods—who first instituted divine worship, and what is fabulously related of every one of the deities, (because the subject requires much to be said), we shall distinctly set forth: and whatever we conceive to be pertinent to the present history, we shall discourse of severally and distinctly, that nothing worth observation may be omitted. And we shall here give an accurate account (as far as the antiquity of the matters will admit) of the generation and original of mankind, and of the affairs and transactions of all parts of the known world, drawing down our history from the most ancient times.
2Of the origin, therefore, of men, there are two opinions amongst the most famous and authentic naturalists and historians.
Some of these are of the opinion, that the world had neither beginning nor ever shall have end; and likewise say, that mankind was from eternity, and that there never was a time when we first began to be. Others, on the contrary, conceive both the world to be made, and to be corruptible, and that there was a certain time when men had first a being.
For wherwas all things at the first were jumbled together, heaven and earth were in one mass, and had one and the same form: but afterwards, (they say), when corporeal beings appeared one after another, the world at length presented itself in the order we now see; and that the air was in continual agitation, whose fiery part ascended together to the highest place, its nature (by reason of its levity) tending always upwards; for which reason both the sun, and that vast number of stars, are contained within that orb. That the gross and earthy matter, (clotted together by moisture), by reason of its weight, sunk down below into one place, and continually whirling about; the sea was made of the humid parts; and the muddy earth of the more solid, as yet very moorish and soft, which by degrees at first was made crusty by the heat of the sun; and then, after the face of the earth was parched, and, as it were, fermented, to moisture afterwards, in many places, bubbled up, and appeared as so many pustules wrapt up in thin and slender coats and skins, which may be even seen in standing ponds and marish places; when, after the earth had been pierced with cold, the air grows hot on a sudden, without a gradual alteration. And whereas moisture generates creatures from heat, as from a seminal principle, things so generated, by being inwrapt in the dewy mists of the night, grew and increased, and in the day solidated, and were made hard by the heat of the sun; and when the births included in those ventricles had received their due proportion, then those slender skins, being burst asunder by the heat, the forms of all sorts of living creatures were brought forth into the light, of which those that had most of heat mounted aloft, and were fowl, and birds of the air; but those that were drossy, and had more of earth, were numbered in the order of creeping things, and other creatures altogether used to the earth. Then those beasts that were naturally watery and moist, (called fishes), presently hastened to the place connatural to them; and when the earth afterwards became more dry and solid by the heat of the sun, and the drying winds, it had not power at length to produce any more of the greater living creatures; but each that had an animal life began to increase their kind by mutual copulation. And Euripides, the scholar of Anaxagoras, seems to be of the same opinion concerning the first generation of all things; for in his Menalippe he has these verses:
A mass confus'd, heaven and earth once were
Of one form; but after separation,
Then men, trees, beasts of th'earth, with fowls of th'air
First sprung up in their generation.
But if this power of the earth to produce living creatures at the first origin of all things seem credible to any, the Egyptians do bring testimonies of this energy of the earth, by the same things done there at this day. For they say, that about Thebes in Egypt, after the overflowing of the river Nile, the earth being thereby being covered with mud and slime, many places putrify through the heat of the sun, and thence are bred multitudes of mice. It is certain, therefore, that out of the earth, when it is hardened, and the air changed from its due and natural temperament, animals are generated; by which means it came to pass, that in the first beginning of all things, various living creatures proceeded from the earth. And these are the opinions touching on the original of things.
3But men they say, at first, led a rude and brutish sort of life, and wandered up and down in the fields, and fed upon herbs, and the natural fruits of the trees. Their words were confused, without any certain signification; but by degrees they spoke articulately, and making signs, and giving proper terms to every thing upon occasion. At length their discourse became intelligible to one another: but being dispersed into several parts of the world, they spoke not all the same language, every one using that dialect proper to the place, as his lot fell: upon which account there were various, and all sorts of languages in the world; and these associations of men first planted all the nations of the world.
But forasmuch as what was useful for man's life, was not at the beginning found out, this first race of mankind lived a laborious and troublesome life, as being as yet naked, not inured to houses, nor acquainted with the use of fire, and altogether destitute of delicacies for their food. But not knowing as yet how to house and lay up their food, they had no barns or granaries where to deposit the fruits of the earth; and therefore many, through hunger and cold, perished in the winter: but being at length taught by experience, they fled into caves in the winter, and laid up such fruits as were fit to keep; and coming by degrees to the knowledge of the usefulness of fire, and of other conveniences, they began to invent many arts and other things beneficial for man's life. What shall we say? Necessity was man's instructor, which made him skilful in every thing, being an ingenious creature, assisted (as with so many servants) with hands, speech, and a rational soul, ready to put every thing in execution. But what we have here said concerning the first generation of mankind, and his way of living in old time, may suffice, designing to keep within due bounds.
And now we shall apply ourselves to recount those things that have been done in all the known parts of the world, whereof there is any memorial handed down to us.
4Who were the first kings, we ourselves can neither assert, nor agree with those historians who affirm they know; for it is not possible that the account given of affairs should be so ancient as to be contemporary with the first kings; and if any should admit any such thing, yet it is apparent, that all the historians extant lived long after those times. For the Greeks themselves are not only in the dark concerning the antiquity of nations, but many of the barbarians also, who call themselves natural inhabitants, and boast themselves to be the first of all other men who have found out things beneficial to mankind, and to have committed to writing, things done among them many ages before. And as for us, we determine nothing certainly of the antiquity of particular nations, nor which nation is more ancient than another, or how many years one was before another. But, that we may attain the scope and end we have before designed, we shall distinctly set forth in these chapters, what is reported concerning things done in the several nations, and the antiquity of them.
We shall first speak of the barbarians; not that we judge them more ancient than the Grecians, (as Ephorus affirms), but that we are willing, in the first place, to relate many considerable things of them; that, when we come afterwards to the history of the Greeks, we may not confound their antiquity with the other, which are of a foreign nature to them. And because the gods are fabulously reported to be born in Egypt; and the first observation of the motion of the stars being attributed to them, and that there are many remarkble and famous actions of renowned men recorded to be done amongst them, we shall begin with the affairs of Egypt.
5The Egyptians report, that, at the beginning of the world, the first men were created in Egypt, both by reason of the happy climate of the country, and the nature of the river Nile. For this river being very fruitful, and apt to bring forth many animals, yields, of itself, likewise food and nourishment for the things produced. For it yields the roots of canes, the fruit of the lote-tree, the Egyptian bean, that which they call Corseon, and such like rarities for man's food, always ready at hand.
And that all living creatures were first produced among them, they use this argument—that even at this day, at Thebes, at certain times, such vast mice are bred, that it causes admiration to the beholders; some of which, to the breast and fore-feet, are animated, and begin to move, and the rest of the body (which yet retains the nature of the soil) appears without form. Whence it is manifest, that in the beginning of the world, through the fertileness of the soil, the first men were formed in Egypt, being that in no other part of the world any of these creatures are produced; only in Egypt these supernatural births may be seen.
And that we may sum up all in a word: if in the time of Deuclaion's flood, the greatest part only of all living creatures were destroyed, then of such as were so preserved, it is very probable that those in Egypt, especially, were of the number, whose inhabitants lie under the south pole, and the country for the most part without rain: of, if all that had life generally perished, (as some affirm), and that the earth produced animals anew, yet they say, that notwithstanding this, the chief production of things animated is to be ascribed to this country. For they affirm, that if the showers which fall in any other places were warmed by the same heat that is in Egypt, the air would be of that temperature, as that it would aptly conduce to the generation of animals, as at first, in the beginning of the world. For even at this day, such births may be seen (in the waters that have lain long) over all the watered country of Egypt. For they affirm, that when the river returns into its channel, and the sun dries the mud, living creatures are generated, some perfect, others half formed, wven cleaving to the soil whence they are produced.
6The first generation of men in Egypt, therefore, contemplating the beauty of the superior world, and admiring with astonishment the frame and order of the universe, supposed that there were two chief gods that were eternal, that is to say, the sun and the moon, the first of which they called Osiris, and the other Isis, both names having proper etymologies; for Osiris, in the Greek language, signifies a thing with many eyes, which may be very properly applied to the sun, darting his rays into every corner, and, as it were, with so many eyes, viewing and surveying the whole land and sea; with which agrees the poet—
The sun from's lofty sphere, all sees and hears.
Some, also, of the ancient Greek mythologists call Osiris Dionysius, and surname him Sirius, amongst whom Eumolpus in his Bacchanal verses—
Dionysius darts his fiery rays.
He's called Phanates and Dionysius.
Some likewise set him forth clothed with the spotted skin of a fawn, (called Nebris), from the variety of stars that surround him.
Isis likewise, being interpreted, signifies ancient, that name being ascribed to the moon from eternal generations. They add, likewise, to her, horns, because her aspect is such in her increase, and in her decrease, representing a sickle; and because an ox, among the Egyptians, is offered to her in sacrifice. They fold that these gods govern the whole world, cherishing and increasing all things; and divide the year into three parts, (that is to say, spring, summer, and winter), by an invisible motion, perfecting their constant course in that time: and though they are in their natures very differing one from another, yet they complete the whole year with a most excellent harmony and consent. They say that these gods in their natuures do contribute much to the generation of all things, the one being of a hot and active nature, the other moist and cold, but both having something of the air; and that by these, all things are both brought forth and nourished: and therefore that every particular being in the universe is perfected and completed by the sun and moon, whose qualities, as before decalred, are five; a spirit or quickening efficacy, heat or fire, dryness or earth, moisture or water, and air, of which the world does consist, as a man made up of head, hands, feet, and other parts. These five they reputed for gods; and the people of Egypt, who were the first that spoke articulately, gave names proper to their several natures, according to the language they then spake. And therefore they called the spirit Jupiter, which is such by interpretation, because a quickening influence is derived from this into all living creatures, as from the original principle; and upon that account he is esteemed the common parent of all things. And to this the most famous poet of the Greeks gives testimony, where speaking of this god he says—
Of men and gods the father.
Fire they called by interpretation Vulcan, and him they had in veneration as a great god, as he that greatly contributed to the generation and perfection of all things whatsoever.
The earth, as the common womb of all productions, they called Metera, as the Greeks in process of time, by a small alteration of one letter, and an omission of two letters, called the earth Demetra, which was anciently called Gen Metera, or the mother earth, as Orpheus attests in this verse—
The mother earth, Demeter also called,
Brings forth most richly—
Water or moisture, the ancients called Oceanus; which by interpretation is a nourishing mother, and so taken by some of the Grecians, of which the poet says thus—
The father of the gods the ocean is,
Tethys the mother call'd—
But the Egyptians account their Nile to be Oceanus, at which all the gods were born. For in Egypt only, among all the countries in the world, are many cities built by the ancient gods, as by Jupiter, Sol, Mercury, Apollo, Pan, Elithia, and many others.
To the air they gave the name of Minerva, signifying something proper to the nature thereof, and called her the daughter of Jupiter, and counted a virgin, because the air naturally is not subject to corruption, and is in the highest part of the universe; whence rises the fable that she was the issue of Jupiter's brain: they say she is called also Tritogeneia, or thrice begotten, because she changes her natural qualities thrice in the year, the spring, summer, and winter; and that she was called Galucopis, not that she hath grey eyes, (as some of the Greeks have supposed, for that is a weak conceit), but because the air seems to be of a grey colour, to the view. They report, likewise, that these five gods travel through the wole world, representing themselves to men sometimes in the shapes of sacred living creatures, and sometimes in the form of men, or some other representation. And this is not a fable, but very possible, if it be true, that these generate all things: and the poet who travelled into Egypt, in some part of his works, affirms this appearance as he learnt it from theur priests—
The gods also, like strangers come from far,
In divers shapes within the towns appears,
Viewing men's good and wicked acts—
And these are the stories told by the Egyptians of the heavenly and immortal gods. 7And besides these, they say there are others that are terrestrial, which were begotten of these former gods, and were originally mortal men, but by reason of their wisdom and benificence to all mankind, have obtained immortality, of which some have been kings of Egypt: some of whom, by interpretation, have had the same names with the celestial gods, others have kept their own proper names. For they report that Sol, Saturn, Rhea, Jupiter, (surnamed by some Ammon), Juno, Vulcan, Vesta, and lastly, Mercury, reigned in Egypt; and that Sol was the first king of Egypt, whose name was the same with the celestial planet called Sol.
But there are some priests who affirm Vulcan to be the first of their kings, and that he was advanced to that dignity upon the account of being the first that found out the use of fire, which was so beneficial to all mankind. For a tree in the mountains happening to be set on fire by lightning, the wood next adjoining was presently all in a flame; and Vulcan thereupon coming to the place, was mightily refreshed by the heat of it, being then winter-season; and when the fire began to fail, he added more combustible matter to it, and by that means preserving it, called in other men to enjoy the benefit of that which he himself was the first inventor, as he gave out.
Afterwards they say Saturn reigned, and married his sister Rhea, and that he begat of her Osiris and Isis; but others say, Jupiter and Juno, who for their great virtues, ruled over all the world. 8That of Jupiter and Juno were born five gods, one upon every day of the five Egyptian intercalary days. The names of these gods are Osiris, Isis, Typhon, Apollo, and Venus. That Osiris was interpreted Bacchus, and Isis plainly Ceres. That Osiris married Isis, and after he came to the kingdom, did much, and performed many things for the benefit and advantage of mankind. For he was the first that forbade men eating one another; and at the same time Isis found out the way of making of bread of wheat and barley, which before grew here and there in the fields, amongst other common herbs and grass, and the use of it unknown: and Osiris teaching the way and manner of tillage, and well management of the fruits of the earth, this change of food became grateful; both because it was naturally sweet and delicious, and men where thereby restrained from the mutual butcheries one of another: for an evidence of this first finding out the use of hese fruits, they alledge an ancient custom among them: for even at this day, at the time of harvest, the inhabitants offer the first fruits of the ears of corn, howling and wailing about the handfuls they offer, and invoking this goddess Isis: and this they do in return of due honour to her for that invention at the first. In some cities also, when they celebrate the feast of Isis, in a pompous procession, they carry about vessels of wheat and barley, in memory of the first invention, by the care and industry of this goddess. They say, likewise, that Isis made many laws for the good of human society, whereby men were retrained from lawless force and violence one upon another, out of fear of punishment. And therefore Ceres was called by the ancient Greeks, Themophorus, that is, lawgiver, being the princess that first constituted laws for the better government of her people.
Osiris moreover built Thebes, in Egypt, with an hundred gates, and called it after his mother's name: but in following times, it was caleld Diospolis, and Thebes; of whose first founder not only historians, but the priests of Egypt themselves, are much in doubt. For some say that it was not built by Osiris, but many years after, by a king of Egypt, whose history we shall treat of hereafter, in its proper place. They report, likewise, that he built two magnificent temples, and dedicated them to his parents, Jupiter and Juno; and likewise two golden altars, the greater to the great god Jupiter; the other to his father Jupiter, who had formerly reigned there, whom they call Ammon. That he also erected golden altars to other gods, and instituted their several rites of worship, and appointed priests to have the oversight and care of the holy things. In the time of Osiris and Isis, projectors and ingenious artists were in great honour and esteem; and therefore in Thebes there were then goldsmiths and braziers, who made arms and weapons for the killing of wild beasts, and other instruments for the husbanding of of the ground, and improvement of tillage; besides images of the gods, and altars in gold. They say that Osiris was much given to husbandry, that he was the son of Jupiter, brought up in Nysa, a town of Arabia the happy, near to Egypt, called by the Greeks Dionysius, from his father, and the place of his education. The poet in his hymns makes mention of Nysa, as bordering upon Egypt, where he says—
Far off from Phenice stands the sacred Nyse,
Where streams of Egypt's Nile begin to rise,
On mountains high with pleasant woods adorn'd.
Here near unto Nysa, they say he found out the use of the vine, and there planting it, was the first that drank wine; and taught others how to plant it and use it, and to gather in their vintage, and to keep and preserve it. Above all others he honoured Hermes, one of an admirable ingenuity, and quick investion, in finding out what might be useful to mankind. This Hermes was the first (as they report) that taught how to speak distinctly and articulately, and gave names to many things that had none before. He found out letters, and instituted the worship of the gods; and was the first that observed the motion of the stars, and invented music; and taught the manner of wrestling; and invented arithmetic, and the art of curious graving and cutting of statues. He first found out the harp with three strings, in resemblance of the three seasons of the year, causing three several sounds, the treble, base and mean. The treble to represent the summer; the base, the winter; and the mean, the spring. He was the first that taught the Greeks eloquence; thence he is called Hermes, a speaker or interpreter. To conclude, he was Osiris's sacred scribe, to whom he communicated all his secrets, and was chiefly steered by his advice in every thing. He (not Minerva, as the Greeks affirm) found out the use of the olive-tree, for the making of oil. 9It is moreover reported, that Osiris being a prince of a public spirit, and very ambitious of glory, raised a great army, with which he resolved to go through all parts of the world that were inhabited, and to teach men how to plant vines, and to sow wheat and barley. For he hoped that if he could civilize men, and take them off from their rude and beast-like course of lives, by such a public good and advantage, he should raise a foundation amongst all mankind, for his immorttal praise and honour, which happened accordingly. For not only that age, but posterity ever after honoured those among the chiefest of their gods, that first found out their proper and ordinary food. Having therefore settled his affairs in Egypt, and committed the government of his whole kingdom to his wife Isis, he joined her with Mercury, as her chief counsellor of state, because he far excelled all others in wisdom and prudence. But Hercules, his near kinsman, he left general of all his forces within his dominions, a man admired by all for his valour and strength of body. As to those parts which lay near Phoenicia, and upon the sea-coasts of them, he made Busiris lord lieutenant, and of Ethiopia and Lybia, Anteus.
Then marching out of Egypt, he began his expedition, taking along with him his brother, whom the Greeks called Apollo. This Apollo is reported to have discovered the laurel-tree, which all dedicate especially to this god. To Osiris they attribute the finding out of the ivy-tree, and dedicate it to him, as the Greeks do to Bacchus: and therefore in the Egyptian tongue, they call Ivy, Osiris's plant, which they prefer before the vine in all their sacrifices, because this loses its leaves, and the other always continues fresh and green: which rule the ancients have observed in other plants, that are always green, dedicating myrtle to Venus, laurel to Apollo, and the olive-tree to Pallas.
It is said that two of his sons accompanied their father Osiris in this expedition, one called Anubis, and the other Macedo, both valiant men: both of them wore coats of mail, that were extraordinarily remarkable, covered with the skins of such creatures as resembled them in stoutness and valour. Anubis was covered with a dog's, and Macedo with the skin of a wolf; and for this reason these beasts are religiously adored by the Egyptians. He had likewise for his companion, Pan, whom the Egyptians have in great veneration; for they not only set up images and statues in every temple, but built a city in Tebides after his name, called by the inhabitants Chemmin, which by interpretation is Pan's city. There went along with them likewise, those that were skilful in husbandry, as Maro in the planting of vines, and Triptolemus in sowing of corn, and gathering in the harvest.
All things being now prepared, Osiris having vowed to the gods to let his hair grow till he returned into Egypt, marched through Ethiopia; and for that very reason it is a piece of religion, and practised among the Egyptians at this day, that those that travel abroad, suffer their hair to grow, till they return home. As he passed through Ethiopia, a company of satyrs were presented to him, who (as it is reported) were all hairy down to their loins: for Osiris was a man given to mirth and jollity, and took great pleasure in music and dancing; and therefore carried along with him a train of musicians, of whom nine were virgins, most excellent singers, and expert in many other things, (whom the Greeks call muses), of whom Apollo was the captain; and thence called the Leader of the Muses: upon this account the satyrs, who are naturally inclined to skipping, dancing, and singing, and all other sorts of mirth, were taken in as part of the army: for Osiris was not for war, nor came to fight battles, and to decide controversies by the sword, every country receiving him for his merits and virtues, as a god. In Ethiopia, having instructed the inhabitants in husbandry, and tillage of the ground, and built several stately cities among them, he left there behind him some to be governors of the country, and others to be gatherers of his tribute.
While they were thus employed it is said that the river Nile, about the dog-days, (at which time it uses to be the highest), broke ' down its banks, and overflowed the greatest part of Egypt, and that part especially where Prometheus governed, insomuch as almost all the inhabitants were drowned; so that Prometheus was near unto killing of himself for very grief of heart: and, from the sudden and violent eruption of the waters, the river was called Eagle.
Hercules, who was always for high and difficult enterprises, and ever of a stout spirit, presently made up the breaches, and turned the river into its channel, and kept it within its ancient banks; and therefore some of the Greek poets from this fact have forged a fable, that Hercules killed the eagle that fed upon Prometheus's heart. The most ancient name of this river was Oceames, which in the Greek pronunciation is Oceanus; afterwards called Eagle, upon the violent eruption. Lastly, it was called Egyptus, from the name of a king that there reigned; which the poet attests, who says&,dash;
In th' river of Egypt then I plac'd
The gallica swift.
For near Thonis (as it is called) an ancient mart town of Egypt, this river empties itself into the sea.
The last name which it still retains, it derives from Nileus, a king of those parts.
10Osiris being come to the borders of Ethiopia, raised high banks on either side of the river, lest, in the time of its inundation, it should overflow the country more than was convenient, and make it marish and boggy; and made flood-gates to let in the water by degrees, as far as was necessary. Thence be passed through Arabia, bordering upon the Red sea as far as to India, and the utmost coasts that were inhabited; he built likewise many cities in India, one of which he called Nysa, willing to leave a remembrance of that in Egypt where he was brought up. At this Nysa in India, he planted ivy; which grows and remains here only of all other places in India, or the parts adjacent. He left likewise many other marks of his being in those parts, by which the latter inhabitants are induced to believe, and do affirm that this god was born in India.
He likewise addicted himself much to hunting of elephants; and took care to have statues of himself in every place, as lasting monuments of his expedition. Thence passing to the rest of Asia, he transported his army through the Hellespont into Europe; and in Thrace be killed Lycurgus, king of the barbarians, who opposed him in his designs. Then he ordered Maro (at that time an old man) to take care of the planters in that country, and to build a city, and call it Maronea, after his own name. Macedo, his son, he made king of Macedonia, so calling it after him. To Triptolemus he appointed the culture and tillage of the land in Attica. To conclude, Osiris having travelled through the whole world, by finding out food fit and convenient for man's body, was a benefactor to all mankind. Where vines would not grow, and be fruitful, he taught the inhabitants to make drink of barley, little inferior in strength and pleasant flavour to wine itself. He brought back with him into Egypt the most precious and richest things that every place did afford; and for the many benefits and advantages that he was the author of, by the common consent of all men, he gained the reward of immortality and honour equal to the heavenly deities.
After his death, Isis and Mercury celebrated his funeral with sacrifices and other divine honours, as to one of the gods, and instituted many sacred rites and mystical ceremonies, in memory of the mighty works wrought by this hero, now deified. 11Anciently the Egyptian priests kept the manner of the death of Osiris secret in their own registers among themselves; but in after-times it fell out, that some that could not hold, blurted it out, and so it came abroad. For they say that Osiris, while he governed in Egypt with all justice imaginable, was murdered by his wicked brother Typhon; and that he mangled his dead body into six-and-twenty pieces, and gave to each of his confederates in the treason a piece, by that means to bring them all within the same horrid guilt, and thereby the more to engage them to advance him to the throne, and to defend and preserve him in the possession.
But Isis, the sister and wife likewise of Osiris, with the assistance of her son Orus, revenged his death upon Typhon and his accomplices, and possessed herself of the kingdom of Egypt. lt is said the battle was fought near a river not far off a town now called Antaea in Arabia, so called from Antaeus, whom Hercules slew in the time of Osiris. She found all the pieces of his body, save his privy member; and having a desire to conceal her husband's burial, yet to have him honoured as a God by all the Egyptians, she thus contrived it. She closed all the pieces together, cementing them with wax and aromatic spices, and so brought it to the shape of a man of the bigness of Osiris; then she sent for the priests to her, one by one, and swore them all that they should not discover what she should then intrust them with. Then she told them privately, that they only should have the burial of the king's body; and re- counting the many good works he had done, charged them to bury the body in a proper place among themselves, and to pay unto him all divine honour, as to a God. That they should dedicate to him one of the beasts bred among them, which of them they pleased, and that while it was alive, they should pay it the same veneration as they did before to Osiris himself ; and when it was dead, that they should worship it with the same adoration and worship given to Osiris. But being willing to encourage the priests to these divine offices by profit and advantage, she gave them the third part of the country for the maintenance of the service of the Gods and their attendance at the altars.
In memory, therefore, of Osiris's good deeds, being incited there- unto by the commands of the queen, and in expectation of their own profit and advantage, the priests exactly performed every thing that Isis injoined them; and therefore every order of the priests at this day are of opinion that Osiris is buried among them. And they have those beasts in great veneration, that were so long since thus consecrated; and renew their mournings for Osiris over the graves of those beasts. There are two sacred bulls especially, the one called Apis, and the other Mnevis, that are consecrated to Osiris, and reputed as gods generally by all the Egyptians. For this creature of all others was extraordinarily serviceable to the first inventors of husbandry, both as to the sowing corn, and other advantages concerning tillage, of which all reaped the benefit. 12Lastly, they say that after the death of Osiris, Isis made a vow never to marry any other man, and spent the rest of her days in an exact administration of justice among her subjects. excelling all other princes in her ants of grace and bounty toward her own people ; and tberefore, after her death, she was numbered among the gods, and, as such, had divine honour and veneration, and was buried at Memphis, where they shew her sepulchre at this day in the grove of Vulcan.
Yet there are some that deny that these gods are buried at Memphis; but near the mountains of Ethiopia, and Egypt, in the isle of Nile, lying near to a place called Philias, and upon that account also named the Holy Field. They confirm this by undoubted signs and marks left in this island, as by a sepulchre built and erected to Osiris, religiously reverenced by all the priests of Egypt, wherein are laid up three hundred and threescore bowls, which certain priests appointed for that purpose, fill every day with milk, and call upon the Gods by name, with mourning and lamentation. For that cause none go into the island but priests. The inhabitants of Thebes (which is the most ancient city of Egypt) account it a great oath, and by no means to be violated, if a man swear by Osiris that lies buried at Philas.
The several parts, therefore, of Osiris being found, they report were buried in this manner before related; but his privy-members (they say) were thrown into the river by Typhon, because none of his partners would receive them ; and yet that they were divinely honoured by Isis; for she commanded an image of this very part to be set up in the temples, and to be religiously adored; and in all their ceremonies and sacrifices to this god, she ordered that part to be held in divine veneration and honour. And therefore the Grecians, after they had learned the rites and ceremonies of the feasts of Bacchus, and the orgian solemnities from the Egyptians, in all their mysteries and sacrifices to this god, they adored that member by the name of Phallus.
13From Osiris and Isis, to the reign of Alexander the Great, who built a city after his own name, the Egyptian priests reckon above ten thousand years, or (as some write) little less than three-and-twenty thousand years. They affirm, that those that say this god Osiris was born at Thebes in Boeotia, of Jupiter and Semele, relate that which is false. For they say that Orpheus, after he came into Egypt, was initiated into the sacred mysteries of Bacchus or Dionysius, and being a special friend to the Thebans in Boeotia, and of great esteem among them, to manifest his gratitude, transferred the birth of Bacchus or Osiris over into Greece.
And that the common people, partly out of ignorance, and partly out of a desire they had that this God should be a Grecian, readily received these mysteries and sacred rites among them; and that Orpheus took the occasion following to fix the birth of the god and his rites and ceremonies among the Greeks : as thus, Cadmus (they say) was born at Thebes in Egypt, and amongst other children begat Semele: that she was got with child by one unknown, and was delivered at seven months end of a child very like to Osiris, as the Egyptians describe him. But such births are not used to live, either because it is not the pleasure of the Gods it should be so, or that the law of nature will not admit it. The matter coming to Cadmus's ear, being before warned by the oracle to protect the laws of his country, he wrapt the infant in gold, and instituted sacrifices to be offered to him, as if Osiris had appeared again in this shape; and caused it to be spread abroad, that it was begotten of Jupiter, thereby both to honour Osiris and to cover his daughter's shame. And therefore it is a common report among the Grecians, that Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, was got with child by Jupiter, and by him had Osiris.
In after-times, Orpheus, by reason of his excellent art and skill in music, and his knowledge in theology, and institution of sacred rites and sacrifices to the gods, was greatly esteemed among the Grecians, and especially was received and entertained by the Thebans, and by them highly honoured above all others; who being excellently learned an the Egyptian theology, brought down the birth of the ancient Osiris, to a far later time, and to gratify the Cad- means or Thebans, instituted new rites and ceremonies, at which he ordered that it should be declared to all that were admitted to those mysteries that Dionysius or Osiris was begotten of Semele by Jupiter. The people, therefore, partly through ignorance, and partly by being deceived with the dazling lustre of Orpheus's reputation, and with their good opinion of his truth and faithfulness in this matter (especially to have this god reputed a Grecian, being a thing that humoured them) began to use these rites, as is before declared. And with these stories the mythologists and poets have filled all the theatres, and now it is generally received as a truth not in the least to be questioned. To conclude, the priests say, that the Grecians have arrogated to themselves both their Gods and demy-gods (or heroes), and say that divers colonies were transported over to them out of Egypt: for Hercules was an Egyptian, and by his valour made his way into most parts of the world, and set up a pillar in Africa; and of this they endeavour to make proof from the Grecians themselves. For whereas it is owned by all, that Hercules assisted the gods in the giants' war, it is plain that at that time when the Grecians say Hercules was born, the earth had not then strength to produce giants, neither were there any in those days, that is to say, in the age next before the Trojan war; but rather (as the Egyptians affirm) at the first generation and beginning of mankind; from which time the Egyptians account above ten thousand years; but from the Trojan war, not twelve hundred: and according to this computation of the Egyptians, a club and lion's skin may agree well enough with the ancient Hercules; for the use of arms not being at that time found out, men fought with clubs and staves, and covered their bodies with beasts' skins. This ancient Hercules they say was the son of Jupiter, but know not who was his mother: but he who was the son of Alcmena, they affirm was born above ten thousand years after the other, and was called at first Alceus; but afterwards Hercules, not that he had that honourable surname from Juno )as Matris says) but assumed to himself the name out of emulation, desirous to do as great things as the ancient Hercules, and so to inherit as well his fame and glory as his name.
Moreover, the Grecians have a very ancient tradition, which agrees with the Egyptians, that Hercules freed the earth from wild beasts; which cannot possibly be applied to him who flourished about the times of the Trojans, when most parts of the world were free from such annoyances, by improvement of lands and multitudes of populous cities. But the reduction of the world to a more civil course of living, agrees best with the ancient Hercules, when men were as yet vexed and plagued with wild beasts; and especially in Egypt, whose upper part is a wilderness, and full of wild beasts at this very day. And it is but very reasonable to think that Hercules should mind the prosperity and welfare of Egypt, his own country, and free the land from beasts, and so deliver it into the hands of the husbandmen, to be improved by tillage; and that upon this account he was honoured as a God.
They report likewise, that Perseus was born in Egypt, and that the Grecians have transferred from thence the birth of Isis into Argos, inventing a story that she was the same with Io, who was metamorphosed into a bull. And indeed there are great differences and disputes concerning these gods : for some call the same goddess Isis, others call her Ceres; some Thesmophorus, others Luna, others Juno, and some by all these names.
They term Osiris sometimes Serapis, sometimes Dionysius, and sometimes Pluto; then again Ammon; sometimes Jupiter, and often Pan. There are some likewise that say, Serapis ia the same whom the Grecians call Pluto.
14The Egyptians report that Isis found out many medicines for the recovery of men's health, being very expert in the art of physic , and contrived many remedies for that purpose; and therefore even now when she is advanced to an immortal state, she takes pleasure in curing men's bodies; and to these that desire her assistance, in their sleep she clearly manifests her presence, and affords ready and effectual relief to them that stand in need of it.
For clear proof of all this, they say, they have not only the usual fables of the Greeks, but the undoubted evidence of the fact to confirm it; and that almost the whole world bears testimony to this, by the respect and honour they pay to this goddess upon the account of her great fame in curing of diseases: for in sleep she is present with persons, and applies remedies to the sick, and wonderfully cures those that are her votaries. That many that have been given up by the physicians as incurable, have been restored by her; and that many that have been blind and lame, who have sought to her for help, have been perfectly restored to their former sight, and soundness of body.
They say she found out a medicine that would raise the dead to life, with which she not only raised her son Orus, that was killed by the Titans, and found dead in the water, but, by that application, made him immortal. This Orus was the last of the gods that reigned in Egypt, after the translation of Osiris his father. This Orus, they say, by interpretation is Apollo, who being taught by his mother Isis, the art of physic and divination, was very beneficial to mankind in these respects.
The Egyptian priests in their computation of time do reckon above three and twenty thousand years from the reign of Sol, to the passage of Alexander the Great into Asia.
In their fabulous stories they say, that the most ancient of their god's reigned twelve hundred years, and the latter no less than three hundred years a-piece. Whereas this great number of years seems incredible, some have not stuck to affirm that the motion of the sun not being then known, the year was reckoned according to the course of the moon; and therefore the solar year, consisting then but of three hundred days, some of them were sure to live twelve hundred lunary years; and even at this day now that there are twelve months in the year, many live a hundred solar years. The like they say of them that reigned three hundred years: for in their time (they say) the year was made up of four months, every four applicable to each of the three seasons of the solar year, that is to say, spring, summer, and winter; which is the reason that some of the Grecians call years Horas, seasons; and historical annals, Horography.
The Egyptians moreover among their fables report, that in the time of Isis, there were men of vast bodies, whom the Grecians call Giants, and whom they place in their temples in prodigious shapes, who are whipt and scourged by them that sacrifice to Osiris. Some idly give forth, that they sprang from the earth, when at first it gave being to living creatures. Others report, that from many extraordinary things done by men of strong bodies, the fables and stories of giants arose. But In this most agree, that for the war they raised against the gods Jupiter and Osiris, they were all destroyed.
It was a law likewise (they say) in Egypt, against the custom of all other nations, that brothers and sisters might marry one with another, which accordingly was prosperous and successful in the marriage of Isis, who married her brother Osiris, and after his death made a vow never to marry any other man; and after she had revenged her husband's death upon his murderers, she governed the kingdom, and reigned justly all her days; and did good universally to all sorts of people, obliging them with many and extraordinary benefits and advantages. And for her sake it is a custom among them, that they honour a queen, and allow her more power and authority than a king : and in their contracts of marriage authority is given to the wife over her husband, at which time the husbands promise to be obedient to their wives in all things.
15Isis was buried at Memphis, where at this day her shrine is to be seen in the grove of Vulcan: although some affirm, that these gods lie buried in the Isle of Nile, at Philas, as is before said. Neither am I ignorant that some writers say, their sepulchres are at Nysa in Arabia; whence Dionysius is called Nysaeus; there they say is a pillar erected to each of the deities with inscriptions of sacred letters upon them ; in one of which, that belonging to Isis, are these words:
"I am Isis, queen of all this country, the scholar of Mercury: what laws I have made, none ought to disannul. I am the eldest daughter of the youngest god, Saturn. I am the wife and sister of king Osiris. I am she that first found out corn for man's use. I am the mother of king Orus. I am she that arises in the dog star. The city Bubastus was built in memory of me. Farewell, rejoice O Egypt that was my nurse, that brought me up."
Upon Osiris's pillar are these that follow:-
"My father was Saturn, the youngest of all the gods. I am Osiris, that led an army through all the nations, as far as to the deserts of India, and in the countries lying to the north, as far as to the head springs of the river Ister; and to other parts, as far as to the ocean. I am the eldest son of Saturn, a branch of a famous noble stock, cousin german to the day. There is not a place in the world where I have not been; and what I have discovered, I have imparted to all."
So much of the inscriptions on the pillars (they say) may be read; the rest is defaced and worn out through length of time. Thus, therefore, many disagree concerning the sepulchres of these gods, because the priests, who were secretly instructed in the perfect know ledge of these matters, would not suffer them to be spread abroad, out of fear of those punishments that such were liable unto, who revealed the secrets of the gods.
16They report, that afterwards many colonies out of Egypt were dispersed over all parts of the world; that Belus (who was taken to be the son of Neptune and Lybra) led a colony into all province of Babylon. and fixing his seat at the river Euphrates, consecrated priests, and, according to the custom of the Egyptians, freed them from all public taxes and impositions. These priests the Babylonians call Chaldeans, who observe the motions of the stars, in imitation of the priests, naturalists, and astrologers of Egypt. That Danaus likewise took from thence another colony, and planted them in Argos, the most ancient city almost of all Greece. And that the people of Colchos, in Pontus, and the Jews lying between Arabia and Syria, were colonies out of Egypt; and that therefore it is an ancient custom among these nations, to circumcise all their male children after the rites and customs received from the Egyptians. That the Athenians likewise are a colony of the Saits, which came out of Egypt, and are their kindred, they endeavour to prove by these arguments; (that is to say) that they only of all the Greeks call the city Astu, from Astu a city among those people of the Saits: and that for the better government of the commonwealth, they divide their people into the same ranks and degrees as they in Egypt do, to wit, into three orders; the first of which are called Eupatride, employed for the most part in studying the liberal arts and sciences, and are advanced to the highest offices and places of preferment in the state, as the priests of Egypt are. The second order of men are the rustic and country people, who are to be soldiers, and take up arms upon all occasions for the defence of their country, like to those who are called husbandmen in Egypt, who furnish out soldiers there. In the third rank are reckoned tradesmen and artificers, who commonly bore all the necessary and public offices, which agrees exactly with the orders and usage among the Egyptians.
They say likewise, that there were some of the Athenian generals that came out of Egypt. For they affirm, that Peteos the father of Menestheus, who was a captain in the Trojan war, was an Egyptian, and afterwards was king of Athens. That the Athenians had not wit enough to find out the true reason why two natures were ascribed to him; for every man knows that he was called half a beast, that is, half a man, and half a beast; and the true ground was, because he was a member of two several commonwealths, a Grecian and a barbarian. Erechtheus likewise, one of the kings of Athens, they say was an Egyptian, which they prove by these arguments, viz. That whereas there was a great drought (as all confess) almost over all the world, except Egypt only (because of the peculiar property of the place) which destroyed both men and the fruits of the earth together, Erechtheus transported a great quantity of corn to Athens out of Egypt, because they and the Egyptians were of the same kindred; with which kindness the citizens were so affected, that they advanced him to the kingdom. After which, he instituted the festivals, and taught the Egyptian rites and mysteries of Ceres in Eleusina.
They say, moreover, that it is reported upon good ground, that the goddess herself came into Attica at that time when corn and other goodly fruit in her name were transported thither; and that there- fore it seemed as if she had again renewed the invention of seed, as she did at the beginning. Likewise that the Athenians themselves confess, that in the reign of Erechtheus, when the drought had burnt up all the fruits of the earth, Ceres came thither and gave them corn. And that the rites and mysteries of this goddess, were then begun in Eleusina, and that the sacrifices and ancient ceremonies, both of the Athenians and Egyptians, are one and the same: and that they took the original of their Emolpidae from the Egyptian priests, and their heralds from their Pastophori. Further, that only the Grecians swear by the name of Isis, and that in all their manners and customs, they are altogether like the Egyptians. These and many other such like arguments they bring to maintain this colony, more (I think) out of ambition, because of the glory and reknown of that city, than any ground of truth they have for their assertion. To conclude, the Egyptians say, that many parts of the world were planted by their ancestors, by colonies sent from thence, by means of the state and grandeur of their kings, and the vast number of their people. Which reports not being supported with sufficient arguments, nor attested by credible authors, we think them not worthy of any further account. But thus much we thought fit to say of the Egyptian Theology.
And now we shall endeavour to treat distinctly of the country itself, and the river Nile, and other things worthy of remark. 17The land of Egypt almost lies wholly to the south, and is naturally fortified, and the most pleasant country of any of the kingdoms round about it. For on the west it is defended by the deserts of Libya, full of wild beasts, running out a vast way in length; where the passage is both difficult and extremely hazardous, through want of water, and other provision. On the south it is environed with the cataracts of Nile, and the mountains adjoining. For from the country of the Troglodites, and the higher parts of Ethiopia, for the space of five thousand and five hundred furlongs, there is no passing either by land or water, without such a measure of provision as a king himself could only be furnished with. Those parts towards the east, are partly secured by the river, and partly surrounded by the deserts and by the marshes called the Barathra. For there is a lake between Coalo-Syria and Egypt, very narrow, but exceedingly deep, even to a wonder, two hundred furlongs in length, called Serbon: if any through ignorance approach it, they are lost irrecoverably; for the channel being very narrow, like a swaddling-band, and compassed round with vast heaps of sand, great quantities of it are cast into the lake, by the continued southern winds, which so cover the surface of the water, and make it to the view so like unto dry land, that it cannot possibly be distinguished; and therefore many, unacquainted with the nature of the place, by missing their way, have been there swallowed up, together with whole armies. For the sand being trod upon, sinks down and gives way by degrees, and like a malicious cheat, deludes and decoys them that come upon it, till too late, when they see the mischief they are likely to fall into, they begin to support and help one another, but without any possibility either of returning back, or escaping certain ruin; for, sinking into the gulf, they are neither able to swim (the mud preventing all motion of the body) nor in a capacity to wade out, having nothing firm to support them for that purpose; for sand and water being mixed together, the nature of both is thereby so changed, that there is neither fording, nor passing over it by boats. Being brought therefore to this pass, without the least possibility of help to be afforded them, they go together with the sand to the bottom of the gulf, at the very brink of the bog; and so the place, agreeable to its nature, is called Barathrum.
Having spoken of the three boundaries of Egypt, by which it is distinguished from the rest of the continent, we now proceed to the next.
The fourth side is nearly surrounded with a vast sea, without any harbours, being a very long and tedious voyage, and very difficult to find any place of landing. For from Parcetonium in Africa to Joppa in Coelo-Syria, for the space almost of five thousand furlongs, there is not one safe harbour to be found, except Pharus. Then again all along the coasts of Egypt, the sea is full of rocks and sands, not discernible by mariners unacquainted with the places; so that when they look upon themselves as safe, and to have escaped the danger of the seas, and make with great joy to land (wanting skill to steer aright) they are on a sudden and unexpectedly shipwrecked. Others inconsiderately, because they cannot see the land, in regard it lies so low, are carried either into the bogs, or to the deserts. And in this manner is Egypt naturally guarded on every side. It is of a long form or shape; that part that lies along to the sea coast stretches forth Itself in length two thousand furlongs, but to the south it runs almost six thousand furlongs. It was anciently the most populous country in the world, and at this day not inferior to any. It was formerly full of famous towns, and had in it above eighteen thousand cities, as is to be seen registered in their sacred records: and in the time of Ptolemy Lagus, there were reckoned above three thousand, which remain still to this day, Once they say in a general account taken of all the inhabitants, they amounted to seven millions; and at this time are not less than three millions of people. And therefore they say that their kings by the help of such a multitude, left behind them in their great and wonderful works, eternal monuments of their state and grandeur; which we shall by and by distinctly treat of; but at present we shall speak of the nature of the Nile, and of the property of the soil.
18The Nile runs from the south towards the north from spring-heads hitherto unknown, for they are in the utmost borders of Ethiopia, where, by reason of the vast deserts, and extremity of heat, there is no coming. It is the greatest of all other rivers, and runs through many countries, and therefore has many large turnings and windings , sometimes making its way to the east and Arabia, and then again to the west and Llbya. For it runs down from the mountains of Ethiopia, till it empties itself into the sea, at least twelve thousand furlongs, accounting the several windings it makes in the way. In its course it makes many islands; amongst many others in Ethiopia, one remarkable for its greatness called Meroes, two-and-twenty furlongs broad. But, in the lower places, its swelling waves grow narrower, and the current divides itself into two channels towards the continents that lie on either side the island. One of the currents bends towards Africa, and is at length swallowed up in a bed of sand of an incredible depth: the other makes its course towards Arabia, on the other side, and falls into deep guts and vast bogs, inhabited round by divers nations; entering at last into Egypt, it keeps no direct course, but turns and winds here and there in some places ten furlongs in breadth, in others less, sometimes running towards the east, then to the west, and sometimes back again to the south. For mountains stand on both sides the river, and take up a large trac of ground; and the river, forcing itself with great violence against strait and narrow precipices, the water is driven back, and flows over the neighbouring fields; and after it has run a considerable way towards the south, it returns at length to its natural course. And though this river is thus remarkable above all others, yet this is especially observable in it, that its stream runs calm and smooth, without any violent surges, or tempestuous waves, except at the cataracts; a place of ten furlongs being so called, running down in a precipice, in a strait and narrow passage amongst steep rocks; the whole is a rugged shelvy gulf, where there lie many great stones, like huge rocks. The water dashing violently against these rocks, is beaten back, and rebounds the contrary way, by which are made wonderful whirlpools, and by the repeated influx, the whole place is covered with froth and foam, to the no small amazement of the beholders: for the river there runs down with as quick and violent a current, as an arrow out of a bow. Sometimes it happens that (these rocks, and the whole gulf being covered with the vast quantity of the waters of the Nile) some ships, driven with contrary winds, are hurried down the cataract, but there is no possibility of sailing up against it, the force of the stream baffling all the art of man. There are many cataracts of this kind, but the greatest is that in the confines of Ethiopia and Egypt.
19How the river Nile makes several islands near Ethiopia (amongst which Meroe is the chief) is before declared. In this island is a famous city of the same name, which Cambyses built, and called it after to name of his mother Meroe. This island is said to be of the shape of a shield, and for greatness exceeding all the rest of the islands in these parts, being three thousand furlongs in length, and a thousand in breadth, having in it many cities, of which Meroe is the noblest. The island is surrounded towards the coasts of Libya with vast heaps of sand, all along close to the river, and towards Arabia run along steep rocky mountains. It is said there are in it mines of gold, silver, iron, and brass, a great number of ebony trees, and all sorts of precious stones. To conclude, there are so many islands made by this river, that it is scarcely credible. For besides those islands in that part of Egypt called Delta, there are (they say) seven hundred, some of which the Ethiopians inhabit, and sow with millet; others are so pestered with serpents, baboons, and all kinds of hurtful beasts, that it is dangerous to come into them.
The river Nile, parting itself into several channels in Egypt, makes that part called Delta, so called from the shape resembling that Greek letter. The two sides of this Delta are fashioned by the two extreme branches of the river; the foot of this letter is the sea, where the seven mouths of the Nile disgorge themselves. For there are seven places called mouths, through which it empties itself into the ocean. The first, lying to the most eastward channel, is at Pelusium, called Pelusiacum; the second Taniticum; the third Mendisium; the fourth Phatuiticum; the fifth Sebenyticum; the sixth Bolbitinum, and the last Canopicum or Herculeum, as some call it. There are some other mouths made by art, of which it is not material to write. At every of the mouths is a city built on either side of the river, defended with strong guards and bridges on each bank. From Pelusaicum as far as to the Arabian gulf, and the Red Sea, is a canal cut out. Necos the son of Psameticus, was the first that began this work, and after him Darius the Persian carried it on, but left it unfinished, being told by some that if he cut it though the isthmus, all Egypt would be drowned, for that the Red Sea lay higher than Egypt. The last attempt was made by Ptolemy the second, who cut a sluice across the isthmus in a more convenient place, which he opened when he had a mind to sail down that way, and then presently after shut up again; which contrivance proved very useful and serviceable. The river which runs through this cut in called Ptolemy, after the name of the maker. Where it falls into the sea, there is a city built called Arsinoe. Delta is is the shape of Sicily: both sides are seven hundred and fifty furlongs in length, amd the foot which lies along the sea-coast, is thirteen hundred furlongs.
This island has in it many dikes and sluices cut by art, and is the most sweet and pleasantest part of Egypt; for being enriched and watered by the river, it produces all sorts of grain and other fruits; and by the yearly overflowing of the river, the face of the ground is still continually renewed, and the inhabitants have an easy way to water it by means of a certain engine, invented by Archimedes the Syracusan, which from its form is called Choelia. And whereas the Nile flows gently over it, it brings along with it much soil, which resting in low and hollow grounds, makes very rich marshes. For in these places grow roots of several tastes and savours, and fruits and herbs of a singular nature and quality, which are very useful both to the poor, and those that are sick; for they do not only afford plentifully in every place things for food, but all other things necessary and useful for the life of man. There grows in great plenty Lotus, of which the Egyptians make bread for the nourishment of man's body. Here is likewise produced in plenty Ciborium, called the Egyptian bean. Here are divers sorts of trees, amongst which those called Persica, whose fruit is of wonderful sweetness: this plant was brought out of Ethiopia by the Persians, when Cambyses conquered these places. The sycamore (or Egyptian fig-tree); some of them bear mulberries, others a fruit like unto figs, and bear all the year long; so that a man may satisfy his hunger at any time. After the falling of the waters of the river, they gather the fruits called Bates, which, for their sweet and delightful taste, are at entertainments served up at last course as delicious desserts.
The Egyptians make a drink of barley, called Zythus, for smell and sweetness of taste not much inferior to wine. They make a liquor like oil for the feeding of their lamps, of the juice of a plant which they call Cici. There are many other plants which grown in Egypt of admirable use, which would be too tedious here to enumerate.
20The river Nile breeds many creatures of several forms and shapes, amongst which, two are especially remarkable, the crocodile and the horse, as they are called: amongst these, the crocodile of the least creature becomes the greatest; for it lays an egg much of the bigness of that of a goose, and after the young is hatched, it grows to the length of sixteen cubits, and lives to the age of a man: it wants a tongue, but has a body naturally armed in a wonderful manner. For its skin is covered all over with scales of an extraordinary hardness; many sharp teeth are ranged on both sides its jaws, and two of them are much bigger than the rest. This monster does not only devour men, but other creatures that come near the river. His bites are sharp and destructive, and with his claws he tears his prey cruelly in pieces, and what wounds he makes, no medicine or application can heal. The Egyptians formerly caught these monsters with hooks, baited with raw flesh; but of later times, they have used to take them with strong nets like fishes: sometimes they strike them on the head with forks of iron, and so kill them. There is an infinite multitude of these creatures in the river and the neighbouring pools, in regard they are great breeders, and are seldom killed: for the crocodile is adored as a god by some of the inhabitants; and for strangers to hunt and destroy them is to no purpose, for their flesh is not eatable. But nature has provided relief against the increase of this destructive monster; for the ichneumon, as it is called (of the bigness of a little dog), running up and down near the water side, breaks all the eggs laid by this beast, wherever he finds them; and that which is most to be admired is, that he does this not for food or any other advantage, hut out of a natural instinct for the mere benefit of mankind.
The beast called the River Horse is five cubits long, four-footed, and cloven-hoofed like to an ox. He has three teeth or tushes on either side his jaw, appearing outwards larger than those of a wild boar; as to his ears, tail, and his neighing, he is like a horse. The whole bulk of his body is not much unlike an elephant; his skin is firmer and thicker almost than any other beast. He lives both on land and in water; in the day time be lies at the bottom of the river, and in the night time comes to land, and feeds upon grass and corn. lf this beast were so fruitful as to bring forth young every year, he would undo the husbandman, and destroy a great part of the corn of Egypt. He is likewise by the help of many hands often caught, being struck with instruments of iron; for, when he is found, they hem him round with their boats, and those on board wound him with forked instruments of iron, cast at him like so many darts; and having strong ropes to the irons, they fix them in him; they let him go till he loses his blood, and be then dies. His flesh is extraordinary hard, and of ill digestion. There is nothing in his inner parts that can be eaten, neither his bowels, nor any other of his entrails.
Besides these before mentioned, the Nile abounds with multitudes of all sorts of fish: not only such as are taken fresh to supply the inhabitants at hand, but an innumerable number likewise which they salt to send abroad. 21To conclude, no river in the world is more beneficial and serviceable to mankind than the Nile.
Its inundation begins at the summer solstice, and increases till the equinoctial in autumn; during which time, he brings in along with him new soil, and waters as well the tilled and improved ground, as that which lies waste and untilled, as long as it pleases the husbandman; for the water flowing gently and by degrees, they easily divert its course, by casting up small banks of earth; and then, by opening a passage for it, as easily turn it over their land again, if they see it needful. It is so very advantageous to the inhabitants, and done with so little pains, that most of the country people turn in their cattle into the sowed ground to eat, and tread down the corn, and four or five months after, they reap it. Some lightly run over the surface of the earth with a plow, after the water is fallen, and gain a mighty crop without any great cost or pains: but husbandry amongst all other nations, is very laborious and chargeable, only the Egyptians gather their fruits with little cost or labour. That part of the country likewise where vines are planted, after this watering by the Nile, yields a most plentiful vintage. The fields that after the inundation are pastured by their flocks, yield them this advantage, that the sheep yean twice in a year, and are shorn as often. 22This increase of the Nile is wonderful to beholders, and altogether incredible to them that only hear the report; for when other rivers about the solstice fall and grower lower all summer long, this begins to increase, and continues to rise every day, till it comes to that height that it overflows almost all Egypt; and on the contrary, in the same manner, in the winter solstice, it falls by degrees till it wholly returns into its proper channel. And in regard the land of Egypt lies low and champaign; the towns, cities, and country villages, that are built upon rising ground, (cast up by art), look like the islands of the Cyclades. Many of the cattle sometimes are by the river intercepted, and so are drowned; but those that fly to the higher grounds are preserved. During the time of the inundation, the cattle are kept in the country towns and small cottages, where they have food and fodder before laid up and prepared for them. But the common people, now at liberty from all employments in the field, indulge themselves in idleness, feasting every day, and giving themselves up to all sorts of sports and pleasures. Yet out of fear of the inundation, a watch-tower is built in Memphis by the kings of Egypt. where those who are employed to take care of this concern, observing to what height the river rises, send letters from one city to another, acquainting them low many cubits and fingers the river rises, and when it begins to decrease; and so the people, coming to understand the fall of the waters, are freed from their fears, and all presently have a foresight what plenty of corn they are like to have; and this observation has been registered from time to time by the Egyptians for many generations.
23There are great controversies concerning the reasons of the overflowing of the Nile, and many, both philosophers and historians, have endeavoured to declare the causes of it, which we shall distinctly relate, neither making too long a digression, nor omitting that which is so much banded and controverted. Of the increase and spring-heads of the Nile, and of its emptying itself at length into the Sea, and other properties peculiar to this river above all others, though it be the greatest in the world, yet some authors have not dared to say the least thing: some who have attempted to give their reasons, have been very wide from the mark. For as for Hellenicus, Cadmus, Hecataeus, and such like ancient authors, they have told little but frothy stories, and mere fables. Herodotus, above all other writers, very industrious, and well acquainted with general history, made it his business to find out the causes of these things; but what he says is, nothwithstanding, very doubtful, and some things seem to be repugnant and contradictory one to another. Thucydides and Xenophon, who have the reputation of faithful historians, never so much as touch upon the description of any place in Egypt. But Ephorus and Theopompus, though they are very earnest in this matter, yet they have not in the least discovered the truth.
But it was through ignorance of the places, and not through negligence, that they were all led into error. For anciently, none of the Grecians, till the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, ever went into Ethiopia, or so much as to the utmost bounds of Egypt. For those places were never frequented by travellers, they were so hazardous, till that king marched with a Grecian army into those parts, and so made a more perfect discovery of the country.
No writer hitherto has pretended that he himself ever saw, or heard of any one else that affirmed, he had seen the spring-heads of the Nile: all therefore, amounting to no more than opinion and conjecture, the priests of Egypt affirm that it comes from the ocean, which flows round the whole earth. But nothing that they say is upoin any solid grounds, and they resolve doubts by things that are more doubtful; and to prove what they say, they bring arguments that have need to be proved themselves.
But the Troglodites (otherwise called Molgii), whom the scorching heat forces to remove from the higher parts into those lower places, say, that there are some signs, whence a man may rationally conclude, that the river Nile rises from streams which run from many fountains or spring-heads, and meet at last in one channel, and therefore to be the most fruitful and richest river of any that is known in the world.
The inhabitants of the Isle of Meroe (who are most to he credited upon this account), are far from inventing so much as any probable arguments; and though they live near to the place in controversy, are so far from giving any certain account of this matter, that they call the Nile, Astapus; which, in the Greek language, signifies water that issues out of a place of darkness; so that they give a name to the river, to denote their ignorance of the place from whence it springs.
But that seems the truest reason to me, that looks to be furthest from fiction and studied contrivance. Yet I am not ignorant, that Herodotus who bounds Libya both on the east and west, with this river, ascribes the exact knowledge of it to the Africans, called Nasamones, and says, that the Nile rises from a certain lake, and runs through a large tract of ground, down all along through Ethiopia: but, neither are the sayings of the Africans in this behalf, (as not altogether agreeable to truth), nor the affirmation of the writer, (who proves not what he says), to be of absolute credit. 24But enough concerning the spring-heads and course of the Nile:—let us now venture to treat of the causes of the risings of this river.
Thales, who is reckoned one of the seven wise men of Greece, is of opinion, that the Etesian winds that beat fiercely upon the mouth of the river, give a check and stop to the current, and so hinder it from falling into the sea, upon which the river swelling, and its channel filled with water, at length overflows the country of Egypt, which lies flat and low. Though this seems a plausible reason, yet it may be easily disproved: for if it were true what he says, then all the rivers which run into the sea against the Etesian winds, would overflow in like manner; which being never known in any other part of the world, some other reason, and more agreeable to truth, must of necessity be sought for. Anaxagoras the philosopher, ascribes the cause to the melting of the snow in Ethiopia, whom the poet Euripides (who was his scholar) follows, saying thus—
The pleasant streams of th' river Nile forsakes,
Which flowing from the Negro's parched land,
Swells big when the' melting snow to th' river takes,
Comes falling down, and overflows the strand.
Neither is it any hard task to confute this opinion, since it is apparent to all, that by reason of the parching heats, there is no snow in Ethiopia at that time of the year. For in these countries there is not the least sign either of frost, cold, or any other effect of winter, especially at the time of the overflowing of the Nile; and suppose there be abundance of snow in the higher parts of Ethiopia, yet what is affirmed, is certainly false; for every river that is swelled with snow, fumes up in cold fogs, and thickens the air; but about the Nile only, above all other rivers, neither mists gather, nor are there any cold breezes, nor is the air gross and thick. Herodotus says, that the Nile is such in its own nature, as it seems to be in the time of its increase; for that in winter, when the sun moves to the south, and runs its daily course directly over Africa, it exhales so much water out of the Nile, that it decreases against nature; and in summer, when the sun returns to the north, the rivers of Greece, and the rivers of all other northern countries, fall and decrease; and therefore, that it is not so strange for the Nile about summer time to increase, and in winter to fall and grow lower. But to this it may be answered, that if the sun exhale so much moisture out of the Nile in winter time, it would do the like in other rivers in Africa, and so they must fall as well as the Nile, which no where heppens throughout all Africa; and therefore, this author's reason is frivolous; for the rivers of Greece rise not in the winter, by reason of the remoteness of the sun, but by reason of the great rains that fall at that time.
Democritus the Abderite says, that the northern countries, and not those towards the south, (as Anaxagoras and Euripides say), are subject to snow; for that it is clear and evident to every body, that in the northern parts, drifts and heaps of snow lie congealed at the time of the winter solstice; but in summer, the ice being melted by the heat of the sun, the land becomes very wet, which causes many thick mists to appear upon the hills, from the vapours rising from the earth. These vapours, he says, are driven about by the Etesian winds, till they fall upon the highest mountains, which are, (as he affirms, in Ethiopia), and by the violent impression they make upon the tops of these mountains, great storms and showers of rain are occasioned, which, about the time of the Etesian winds, cause the river to rise. But if any will diligently observe the time and season of the year when this falls out, he may easily answer this argument; for the Nile begins to swell at the time of the summer solstice, when there are no Etesian winds; and after the autumnal equinox, when those winds are past, it falls again. Inasmuch, therefore, as certain experience to the contrary, answers all arguments, be they ever so probable, the man's diligence and ingenuity is to be commended; but his affirmations and opinions are by no means to be relied upon. And I wave this, that it is evident that the Etesian winds come as often from the west, as from the north. For not only the north-east winds, called Aparctie, but those of the north-west, called Argeste, go under the name of the Etesian winds. And whereas he affirms, that the greatest mountains are in Ethiopia, as it wants proof; so likewise, all grounds for credit and belief, as is evident from the thing itself.
Ephorus, who gives the last account of the thing, endeavours to ascertain the reason, but seems not to find out the truth.
The whole land of Egypt (says he) is cast up from the river, and the soil is of a loose and spungy nature, and has in it many large cliffs and hollow places, wherein are abundance of water, which in the winter time is frozen up, and in the summer issues out on every side, like sweat from the pores, which occasions the river Nile to rise. This writer does not only betray his own ignorance of the nature of places in Egypt, that he never saw them himself, but likewise, that he never was rightly informed by any that was acquainted with them. For if the overflowing of the Nile should proceed from Egypt itself, it could not flow above the land of Egypt, where it passes through rock and mountainous places. For, as it takes its course through Ethiopia for above the space of six thousand furlongs, it is at its full height before ever it reach Egypt; and therefore, if the river Nile lie lower than the caverns of congested earth, those clefts and hollow places must be above, towards the superficies of the earth, in which it is impossible so much water should be contained. And if the river lie higher than those spongy caverns, it is not possible that from hollow places, much lower than the river, the water should rise higher than the river. Lastly, who can imagine that waters issuing out of holes and hollow parts of the earth, should raise the river to such a height, as to overflow almost all the land of Egypt? But I let pass this vain imagination of casting up the soil, and lodging of waters in the bowels of the earth, being so easily to be confuted. The river Meander hath cast up a great tract of land in Asia, whereas, at the time of the rising of the Nile, nothing of that kind in the least can be seen.
In the same manner the river Archelous in Arcadia, and Cephesus in Boeotia, which runs down from Phocaea, have cast up great quanities of earth, by both which the writer is convicted of falsity: and indeed no man is to expect any certainty from Ephorus, who may be palpably discerned not to make it his business in many things to declare the truth. The philosophers indeed in Memphis have urged strong reasons for the increase of the Nile, which are hard to be confuted; and though they are improbable, yet many agree to them. For they divide the earth into three parts, one of which is that wherein we inhabit; another quite contrary to these places in the seasons of the year; the third lying between these two, which they say is uninhabitable by reason of the scorching heat of the sun; and therefore, if the Nile should overflow in the winter time, it would be clear and evident, that its source would arise out of our zone, because then we have the most rain: but on the contrary, being that it rises in summer, it is very probably that in the country opposite to us it is winter time, where then there is much rain, and that those floods of water are brought down thence to us: and therefore that none can ever find out the head-springs of the Nile, because the river has its course through the opposite zone; which is uninhabited. And the exceeding sweetness of the water, they say, is the confirmation of this opinion; for passing through the torrid zone, the water is boiled, and therefore this river is sweeter than any other in the world; for heat does naturally dulcorate water. But this reason is easily refuted; for it is plainly impossible that the river should rise to that height, and tome down to us from the opposite zone; especially if it be granted that the earth is round. But if any yet shall be so obstinate as to affirm it is so as the philosophers have said, I must in short say, it is against, and contrary to the laws of nature.
For, as they hold opinions which in the nature of the things can hardly be disproved, and place an inhabitable part of the world between us and them that are opposite to us, they conclude, that by this device, they have made it impossible, and out of the reach of the wit of man to confute them. But it is but just and equal, that those who affirm any thing positively, should prove what they say, either by good authority or strength of reason. How comes it about that only the river Nile should come down to us from the other opposite zone? Have we not other rivers that this may be as well applied to? As to the causes alledged for the sweetness of the water, they are absurd: for if the water be boiled with the parching heat, and thereupon becomes sweet, it would have no productive quality, either of fish or other kinds of creatures and beasts: for all water whose nature is changed by fire, is altogether incapable to breed any living thing; and therefore as the nature of the Nile contradicts this decoction and boiling of the water, we conclude that the causes alledged of its increase are false.
The opinion of Oenopides of Chios is this: the waters (says he) that are under the earth in summer time, are cold, and warm in the winter, as we see by experience in deep wells; for in a sharp winter they are the least cold, but in summer they are the coldest of any other time; and therefore, saith he, there is good reason that the Nile in the winter should grow low add contracted, because the heat in the bowels of the earth exhales much of the water, which cannot be supplied, in regard no rains fall in Egypt. But in summer time, when the waters that lie deep in the earth are no longer exhales, then the channel of the river, according to the order of nature, fills without any obstruction. But to this it may be answered, that many rivers in Africa, whose mouths lie parallel with this river, and run the like course, yet overflow not like the Nile. For on the contrary they rise in winter, and fall in summer, which clearly evinces his falsity, who endeavours with a shew of reason to oppose the truth But to the true cause, Agartharchides of Cnidus comes nearest. For he says, that in the mountainous parts of Ethiopia, there are yearly continual rains from the summer solstice to the equinox in autumn, and therefore there is just cause for the Nile to be low in the winter, which then flows only from its own natural spring-heads, and to overflow in summer through the abundance of rains. And though none hitherto have been able to give a reason for these inundations, yet he says his opinion is not altogether to be rejected; for there are many things that are contrary to the rules of nature, for which none are able to give any substantial reason. That which happens in some parts of Asia, he says, gives some confirmation to his opinion. For in the confines of Scythia, near Mount Caucasus, after the winter is over, he affirms, that abundance of snow falls every year for many days together: and that in the northern parts of India, at certain times, there falls abundance of hail, and of an incredible bigness: and that near the river Hydaspes, in summer time, it rains continually; and the same happens in Ethiopia for many days together; and that this disorder of the air whirling about, occasions many storms of rain in places near adjoining; and that therefore it is no wonder if the mountainous parts of Ethiopia, which lies much higher than Egypt, are soaked with continual rains, wherewith the river being filled, overflows; especially since the natural inhabitants of the place affirm, that thus it is in their country. And though these things now related, are in their nature contrary to those in our own climates, yet we are not for that reason to disbelieve them. For with us the south wind is cloudy and boisterous, whereas in Ethiopia it is calm and clear; and that the north winds in Europe are fierce and violent, but in those regions low and almost insensible.
But however, (after all), though we could heap up variety of arguments against all these authors concerning the inundation of the Nile, yet those which we have before alledged shall suffice, lest we should transgress those bounds of brevity which at the first we proposed to ourselves. Having therefore divided this book, because of the largeness of it, into two parts, (having before determined to keep within moderate bounds), we shall now end the first part of this treatise, and continue, in the other, those things that are further remarkable in Egypt coherent with those before, beginning with the actions of the kings of Egypt, and the ancient way of living among the Egyptians.
1The first book of Diodorus is divided into two parts, by reason of the greatness of it; the first whereof is as a preface to the whole work, and in which an account is given of what the Egyptians say concerning the beginning of the world, of the first creation of the universe, and of those gods that built cities in Egypt, and called them after their own names; of the first men, and their ancient way of living; of the worship of the gods, and the building of temples by the Egyptians. Moreover, of the situation of Egypt, and what strange things are related of the Nile; the causes of its inundation, and the various opinions of philosophers and historians concerning it: wherein likewise is set down the confutations of the several writers. In this we shall handle and go through those matters that have a dependence upon the former.
After we have distinctly set forth the ancient way of living among the Egyptians, we shall then begin with their first kings, and declare the acts of every one of them successively down to Amasis.
2They say the Egyptians in ancient times fed upon nothing but roots and herbs, and colewort leaves, which grew in fens and bogs, having first tried the taste of them: but above all, and most commonly, they fed upon the herb called Agrostis, because it was sweeter than any other, and was very nourishing to men's bodies: and it is very certain, that the cattle much covet it, and grow very fat with it. At this day, therefore, superstitious persons, in memory of its usefulness, when they sacrifice to the gods, they worship them with their hands full of this herb: for they conceive man, from the frame of his nature and frothy constitution, to be a watery creature, something resembling the fenny and marish ground, and that he hath more need of moist than of dry food. They say the Egyptians, afterwards fell to another course of diet, and that was eating of fish, wherewith they were plentifully supplied by the river, especially after the inundation, when it was returned within its former bounds: and they ate likewise the flesh of some cattle, and clothed themselves with their skins. That they made their houses of reeds, of which there are some marks amongst the shepherds of Egypt at this day, who care for no other houses, but such like, which they say, serves their turn well enough. Afterwards, in process of time, after many ages, they fell to those fruits which were made more apt and fit for man's food, amongst which was bread made of Lotus, which invention some attribute to Isis, others to Menis, one of the ancient kings: 3the priests indeed do make Hermes the inventor of all arts and sciences, but say, that their kings found out all things necessary for the support of men's lives; and therefore that kingdoms anciently were not inheritable, but given to such as had been most useful and serviceable to the people, thereby either to induce their kings to be kind and beneficial to all their subjects, or for that, (as most agreeable to the truth), it was a law registered in their sacred records commanding them so to do.
At the first, (as some of them, i. e. the priests have fabulously reported, the gods and demi-gods reigned in Egypt for the space almost of eighteen thousand years, the last of which was Orus, the son of Isis. Afterwards, they say, that men reigned there for the space of fifteen thousand years, to the hundred and eightieth Olympiad, at which time I myself came into Egypt in the reign of Ptolemy, who took upon him the name of Dionysus the younger. Most of their kings were natives of the country. There were a few in the mean time that were Ethiopians, Persians, and Macedonians. Four of them that were Ethiopians, reigned not in a continued line, but at several times, for the space of thirty-six years or thereabouts: from the time that Cambyses conquered the nation, the Persians reigned for the space of a hundred and thirty-five years, reckoning the defections of the Egyptians within the time occasioned by the intolerable cruelty of the governors, and their impiety against the Egyptian gods. Last of all, the Macedonians ruled there for the space of two hundred and seventy-six years. The rest of the princes were Egyptians, to the number of four hundred and seventy men, and five women. The Egyptian priests keep registers in their temples of all their kings successively, from many generations past; to what greatness and majesty every one of them arrived; what were their particular tempers and inclinations, and their actions in their several times. To write particularly of every one of them, as it would be tedious, so it would be altogether superfluous, inasmuch as many things concerning them are insignificant and of no use; and therefore we have limited ourselves to treat only of those matters that are most remarkable and worthy of remembrance.
4After the gods, (they say), Menis was the first king of Egypt. He taught the people the adoration of the gods, and the manner of divine worship; how to adorn their beds and tables with rich cloths and coverings, and was the first that brought in a delicate and sumptuous way of living.
Many ages after, reigned Gnephachthus, father of Bocchoris the wise; who, leading an army into Arabia, through many barren and desert places, his provision failed, so that for the space of one day he was forced to take up with such mean food as the common people, among whom he happened then to be, could supply him with, which he ate so heartily, and relished with so much delight, as for the future he forbade all excess and luxury, and cursed that king who first brought in that sumptuous and luxurious way of living; and this change and alteration of meat, and drink, and bedding, was so delightful to him, that he ordered the curse before mentioned, to be entered in the sacred records in the temple of Jupiter at Thebes; which was the chief reason why the fame and reputation of Menis became to be clouded in future generations.
They say, the posterity of Gnephachthus, to the number of fifty- two, reigned for the space of fourteen hundred years; in which time there is found nothing worthy of remark.
Afterwards reigned Busiris, and eight of his posterity after him; the last of which (of the same name with the first) built that great city which the Egyptians call Heliopolis, the Greeks Thebes; it was in circuit a hundred and forty furlongs, adorned with stately public buildings, magnificent temples, and rich donations and revenues to admiration ; and that he built all the private houses, some four, and others five stories high. And to sum up all in a word, made it not only the most beautiful and stateliest city, of Egypt, but of all others in the world. The fame, therefore, of the riches and grandeur of this city was so noised abroad in every place, that the poet Homer takes notice of it in these words:--
...Nor Thebes so much renown'd,
Whose courts with unexhausted wealth abound,
Where through a hundred gates with marble arch,
To battle twenty thousand chariots march.
Although there are some that say it had not a hundred gates; but that there were many large porches to the temples, whence the city was called Hecatompylus, a hundred gates, for many gates: yet that it was certain they had in it twenty thousand chariots of war; for there were a hundred stables all along the river from Memphis to Thebes towards Lybia, each of which were capable to hold two hundred horses, the marks and signs of which are visible at this day: and we have it related, that not only this king, but the suc- ceeding princes from time to time, made it their business to beautify this city ; for that there was no city under the sun so adorned with so many and stately monuments of gold, silver, and ivory, and multitudes of Colossuses and obelisks, cut out of one entire stone. For there were there four temples built, for beauty and greatness to be admired, the most antient of which was in circuit thirteen fur- longs, and five-and-forty cubits high, and had a wall four-and- twenty feet broad. The ornaments of this temple were suitable to its magnificence, both for cost and workmanship. The fabric hath continued to our time, but the silver and the gold, and ornaments of ivory and precious stones were carried away by the Persians, when Cambyses burnt the temples of Egypt. At which time they say those palaces at Persepolis and Susa, and other parts of Media, (famous all the world over), were built by the Persians, who brought over these rich spoils into Asia, and sent for workmen out of Egypt for that purpose. And it is reported, that the riches of Egypt were then so great, that in the rubbish and cinders there were found and gathered up above three hundred talents of gold, and of silver no less than two thousand and three hundred.
There, they say, are the wonderful sepulchres of the antient kings, which, for state and grandeur, far exceed all that posterity can attain unto at this day. The Egyptian priests say that, in their sacred registers, there are entered seven-and-forty of these sepulchres; but in the reign of Ptolemy Lagus, there remained only seventeen, many of which were ruined and destroyed when I myself came into those parts, which was in the hundred-and-eightieth olympiad. 5And these things are not only reports by the Egyptian priests, out of their sacred records, but many of the Grecians, who travelled to Thebes in the time of Ptolemy Lagus, and wrote histories of Egypt , (among whom was Hecateus), agree with what we have related. Of the first sepulchres, (wherein they say the women of Jupiter were buried), that of king Osymandyas was ten furlongs in circuit; at the entrance of which they say, was a portico of various-coloured marble, in length two hundred feet; and in height, five-and-forty cubits: thence going forward, you come into a four-square stone gallery, every square being four hundred feet, supported, instead of pillars, with beasts, each of one entire stone, sixteen cubits high, carved after the antique manner. The roof was entirely of stone; each stone eight cubits broad, with an azure sky, bespangled with stars. Passing out of this peristylion, you enter into another portico, much like the former, but more curiously carved, and with more variety. At the entrance stand three statues, each of one entire stone, the workmanship of Memnon of Sienitas. One of these, made in a sitting posture, is the greatest in all Egypt, the measure of his foot exceeding seven cubits; the other two, much less than the former, reaching but to his knees; the one standing on the right, and the other on the left, being his daughter and mother. This piece is not only commendable for its greatness, but admirable for its cut and workmanship, and the excellency of the stone. In so great a work there is not to be discerned the least flaw, or any other blemish.
Upon it there is this inscription:-- "I am Osymadias, king of kings; if any would know how great I am, and where I lie, let him excel me in any of my works."
There was likewise at this second gate, another statue of his mother, by herself, of one stone, twenty cubits in height; upon her head were placed three crowns, to denote she was both the daughter, wife, and mother of a king. Near to this portico, they say there was another gallery of Piazzo, more remarkable that the former, in which were various sculptures, representing his wars with the Bactrians, who had revolted from him, against whom (it is said) he marched with four hundred thousand foot, and twenty thousand horse; which army he divided into four bodies, and appointed his sons generals of the whole.
In the first wall might be seen the king assaulting a bulwark, environed with the river, and fighting at the head of his men against some that make up against him, assisted by a lion, in a terrible manner; which some affirm, is to be taken for a true and real lion, which the king bred up tame, which went along with him in all his wars, and by his great strength, ever put the enemy to flight. Others make the construction of it, that the king being a man of extraordinary courage and strength, he was willing to trumpet forth his own praises, setting forth the bravery of his own spirit, by the representation of a lion.
In the second wall, was carved the captives dragged after the king, represented without ands and privy members; which was to signify, that they were of effeminate spirits, and had no hands when they came to fight.
The third wall represented all sorts of sculptures, and curious images, in which were set forth the king's sacrificing of oxen, and his triumphs in that war.
In the middle of the peristylion, open to the air at the top, was reared an altar of shining marble, of excellent workmanship, and for largeness to be admired.
In the last wall were two statues, each of one entire stone, seven- and-twenty cubits high: near to which, three passages opened out of the peristylion, into a stately room, supported with pillars like to a theatre for music; every side of the theatre was two hundred feet square. In this, there were many statues of wood, representing the pleaders and spectators, looking upon the judges that gave judgment. Of these, there were thirty carved upon one of the walls. In the middle sat the chief justice, will the image of truth hanging about his neck, with his eyes closed, having many books lying before him. This signified that a judge ought not to take any bribes, but ought only to regard the truth and merits of the cause.
Next adjoining was a gallery full of divers apartments, in which were all sorts of delicate meats, ready dressed up. Near hereunto, is represented the king himself, curiously carved, and painted in glorious colours, offering gold and silver to the gods ; as much as he yearly received out of the gold and silver mines. The sum was there inscribed, (according to the rate of silver), to amount unto thirty-two millions of minas. Next hereunto, was the sacred library, whereon was inscribed these words, viz. The cure of the Mind. Adjoining to this were the images of all the gods of Egypt; to every one of whom the king was making offerings, peculiarly belonging to each of them, that Osiris and all his associates, who were placed at his feet, might understand his piety towards the gods, and his righteousness towards men. Next to the library, was a stately room, wherein were twenty beds to eat upon, richly adorned; in this house, were the images of Jupiter and Juno, together with the kings; and here it is supposed the king's body lies interred. Round the room are many apartments wherein are to be seen in curious painting, all the beasts that are accounted sacred in Egypt. Thence are the scents to the top of the whole monument of the sepulchre, which being mounted, appears a border of gold round the tomb, of three hundred and sixty-five cubits in compass, and a cubit thick; within the division of every cubit, were the several days of the year engraven, with the natural rising and setting of the stars, and their significations, according to the observations of the Egyptian astrologers. This border, they say, was carried away by Cambyses and the Persians, when he conquered Egypt. In this manner they describe the sepulchre of king Osymandyas, which seems far to exceed all others, both for magnificence and curiosity of workmanship.
6The Thebans boast they were the most antient philosophers and astrologers, of any people in the world, and the first that found out exact rules for the improvement both of philosophy and astrology; the situation of their country being such as gave them an advantage over others, more clearly to discern the rising and setting of the stars: and that the months and years are best and most properly ordered, and disposed by them; for they measure their days according to the motion of the sun, and not of the moon ; and account thirty days to every months, and add five days and a quarter to every twelve months; and by this means, they complete the whole year: but they add no intercalary months, nor subtract any days, as it is the custom with many of the Greeks. But these of Thebes seem most accurately to have observed the eclipses of the sun and moon; and from them do so manage their prognostications, that they certainly foretel every particular event.
7The eighth of this king's race, called after the name of his father, Uchoreus, built Memphis, the most famous city of Egypt. For he chose the most convenient place for it in all the country, where the Nile divides itself into several branches, and makes that part of the country called Delta, so named from the shape of the Greek letter Delta, which it resembles. The city being thug conveniently situated at the head of the river, commands all the shipping that sail up it. He built it in circuit a hundred and fifty furlongs, and made it exceeding strong and commodious in this manner: for the Nile flowing round the city, and at the time of its inundation covering all round on the south side, he casts up a mighty rampart of earth, both for a defence to the city against the raging of the river, and as a bulwark against an enemy on land; on every other side, likewise, he dug a broad and deep trench, which received the violent surges of the river, and filled every place round the rampart with water, which fortified the city to admiration.
This place was so commodiously pitched upon by the builder, that most of the kings after him preferred it before Thebes, and removed the court there to this place: from that time, therefore, the magnificence of Thebes began to decrease, and Memphis to increase to the times of Alexander king of Macedon, who built a city called after his own name, near the sea, and planted it with inhabitants, which all the succeeding kings of Egypt still made it their business to en- large : for come beautified it with royal palaces, some with ports and arsenals, and others with magnificent buildings and rich donations, that it is judged by most to be second, if not the first city of the whole world.
But we shall treat of this particularly in its proper time and place. But the builder of Memphis after he had finished the rampart and trench, built palaces not inferior to others built elsewhere; yet much below the state and grandeur of the former kings. For the inhabitants of this country little value the short time of this present life; but put an high esteem upon the name and reputation of a virtuous life after death; and they call the houses of the living, inns, because they stay in them but a little while; but the sepulchres of the dead they call everlasting habitations, because they abide in the graves to infinite generations. Therefore they are not very curious in the building of their houses; but in beautifying their sepulchres they leave nothing undone that can be thought of.
Some have thought that the city of which we have just now spoken, was so called from the daughter of the founder, and tell a fabulous story that the river Nile, in the shape of a bull, fell in love with her, and begat Egyptus, famous among the inhabitants for his admirable virtue, from whom the whole country was called Egypt; for coming to the crown by descent, he was exceeding kind to his subjects, just and diligent in all his affairs, and therefore was judged justly to merit honour and esteem from all, and for his garcious disposition generally applauded.
8After the death of this king, and twelve descents, Meris came to the crown of Egypt, and built a portico in Memphis towards the north, more stately and magnificent than any of the rest. And, a little above the city, he cut a dyke for a pond, bringing it down in length from the city three hundred and twenty-five furlongs, whose use was admirable, and the greatness of the work incredible. They say it was in circuit three thousand and six hundred furlongs; and in many places three hundred feet in depth. Who is he, therefore, that considers the greatness of this work, that may not justly ask the question--How many ten thousand men were employed, and how many years were spent in finishing it? Considering the benefit and advantage, (by this great work), brought to the government, none ever sufficiently could extol it, according to what the truth of the thing deserved. For being that the Nile never kept to a certain and constant height in its inundation, and the fruitfulness of the country ever depended upon its just proportion, he dug this lake to receive such water as was superfluous, that it might neither immoderately overflow the land, and so cause fens and standing ponds, nor by flowing too little, prejudice the fruits of the earth for want of water. To this end he cut a trench along from the river into the lake, four- score furlongs in length, and three hundred feet broad; into this he let the water of tile river sometimes run, and at other times diverted it, and turned it over the fields of the husbandmen, at seasonable times, by means of sluices which he sometimes opened, and at other times shut up, not without great labour and cost; for these sluices could not be opened or shut at a less charge than fifty talents. This lake continues to the benefit of the Egyptians for these purposes to our very days, and is called the lake of Myris or Meris to this day.
The king left a place in the middle of the lake, where be built a sepulchre and two pyramids, one for himself, and another for his queen, a furlong in height; upon the top of which he placed two marble statues seated in a throne, designing, by these monuments, to perpetuate the fame and glory of his name to all succeeding generations. The revenue arising from the fish taken in this lake, he gave to his wife to buy her dresses, which amounted to a talent of silver every day. For there were in it two-and-twenty sorts of fish, and so vast a number were taken, that those who were employed continually to salt them up, (though they were multitudes of people), could hardly perform it. And these are the things which the Egyptians relate of Meris.
9Seven descents after, (they say), Sesostris reigned, who excelled all his ancestors in great and famous actions. But not only the Greek writers differ among themselves about this king, but likewise the Egyptian priests and poets relate various and different stories concerning him. We shall relate such as are most probable and agreeable to those signs and marks that are yet remaining in Egypt to confirm them. After his birth his father performed a noble act, and becoming a king, be caused all throughout Egypt, that were born the same day with his son, to be brought together; and together with his son to be bred up with the same education, and instructed in the same discipline and exercises, conceiving that, by being thus familiarly brought up together, and conversing with one another, they would be always most loving and faithful friends, and the best fellow-soldiers in all the wars. Providing, therefore, every thing for the purpose, he caused the boys to be exercised daily in the schools with hard and difficult labours; as that none should eat till he had run a hundred and fourscore furlongs: and by this means , when they came to be at men's estate, they were fit either to be commanders, or to undertake any brave or noble action, both in respect of the vigour and strength of their bodies, and the excellent endowments of their minds.
Sesostris in the first place being sent with an army into Arabia, by his father, (with whom went his companions that were bred up with him), toiled and troubled himself with the hunting and killing of wild beasts; and then having at last overmastered all his fatigues and wants of water and provision, he conquered all that barbarous nation, which was never before that time subdued. Afterwards, being sent into the western parts, he conquered the greatest part of Libya, being as yet but a youth. Coming to the crown after the death of his father, encouraged by his former successes, he designed to subdue and conquer the whole world. Some report that be was stirred up by his daughter Athyrte to undertake the gaining of the empire of the world; for, being a woman of an extraordinary understanding, she made it out to her father, that the conquest was easy: others encouraged him by their divinations, foretelling his successes by the entrails of the sacrifices, by their dreams in the temples, and prodigies seen in the air.
There are some also that write, that when Sesostris was born, Vulcan appeared to his father in his sleep, and told him that the child then born should be conqueror of the universe; and that that was the reason why his father assembled all of the like age, and bred them up together with his son, to make way for him with more ease to rise to that height of imperial dignity: and that when he was grown to man's estate, fully believing what the god had foretold, he undertook at length this expedition.
To this purpose he first made it his chief concern, to gain the love and good will of all the Egyptians, judging it necessary in order to effect what he designed, so far to engage his soldiers, as that they should willingly and readily venture, nay, lose their lives for their generals, and that those whom he should leave behind him, should not contrive or hatch any rebellion in his absence : to this end, therefore, he obliged every one, to the utmost of his power, working upon some by money, others, by giving them lands, and many by free pardons, and upon all by fair words, and affable and courteous behaviour. He pardoned those that were condemned for high treason, and freed all that were in prison for debt, by paying what they owed, of whom there was a vast multitude in the gaols.
He divided the whole country into thirty-six parts; which the Egyptians call Nomi, over every one of which he appointed a governor, who should take care of the king's revenue, and manage all other affairs relating to their several and respective provinces. Out of these he chose the strongest and ablest men and raised an army answerable to the greatness of his design, to the number of six hundred thousand foot, and twenty-four thousand horse, and twenty- seven thousand chariots of war: and over all the several regiments and battalions, he made those who had been brought up with him commanders, being such as had been used to martial exercises, and from their childhood hot and zealous after that which was brave and virtuous, and who were knit together as brothers in love and affection, both to the king and one to another; the number of whom were above seventeen hundred.
Upon these companions of his, he bestowed large estates in lands, in the richest parts of Egypt, that they might not be in the least want of any thing, reserving only their attendance upon him in the wars.
Having therefore rendezvoused his army, he marched first against the Ethiopians, inhabiting the south, and having conquered them, forced them to pay him tribute of ebony, gold, and elephant's teeth.
Then he sent forth a navy of four hundred sail into the Red Sea, and was the first Egyptian that built long ships. By the help of this fleet, he gained all the islands in this sea, and subdued the bordering nations as far as to India. But be himself marching forward with his land army, conquered all Asia: for he not only invaded those nations which Alexander the Macedonian afterwards subdued, but likewise those which he never set foot upon. For he both passed over the river Ganges, and likewise pierced through all India to the main ocean. Then he subdued the Scythians as far as to the river Tanais, which divides Europe from Asia; where they say he left some of his Egyptians at the lake Moeotis, and gave origin to the nations of Colchis; and, to prove that they were originally Egyptians, they bring this argument, that they are circumcised after the manner of the Egyptians, which custom continued in this colony as it did amongst the Jews. In the same manner he brought into his subjection all the rest of Asia, and most of the islands of the Cyclades. Thence passing over into Europe, he was in danger of losing his whole army, through the difficulty of the passages, and want of provisions. And, therefore, putting a stop to his expedition in Thrace, up and down in all his conquests, he erected pillars, whereon were inscribed, in Egyptian letters, called hieroglyphics, these words:-- "Sesostris, king of kings, and lord of lords, subdued this country by his arms."
Among those nations that were stout and warlike, he carved upon those pillars the privy members of a man: amongst them that were cowardly and faint-hearted, the secret parts of a woman; conceiving that the chief and principal member of a man would be a clear evidence to posterity of the courage of every one of them. In some places he set up his own statue, carved in stone, (armed with a bow and a lance), above four cubits and four hands in height, of which stature he himself was.
Having now spent nine years in this expedition, (carrying himself courteously and familiarly towards all his subjects in the mean time), he ordered the nations he had conquered, to bring their presents and tributes every year into Egypt, every one proportionable to their several abilities: and he himself, with the captives and the rest of the spoils, (of which there were a vast quantity), returned into Egypt, far surpassing all the kings before him in the greatness of his actions and achievements. He adorned all the temples of Egypt with rich presents, and the spoils of his enemies. Then he rewarded his soldiers that had served him in the war, every one according to their desert. It is most certain that the army not only returned loaded with riches, and received the glory and honour of their approved valour, but the whole country of Egypt reaped many advantages by this expedition.
10Sesostris having now disbanded his army, gave leave to his companions in arms, and fellow victors, to take their ease, and enjoy the fruits of their conquest. But he himself, fired with an earnest desire of glory, and ambitious to leave behind him eternal monuments of his memory, made many fair and stately works, admirable both for their cost and contrivance, by which he both advanced his own immortal praised, and procured unspeakable advantages to the Egyptians, with perfect peace and security for the time to come. For, beginning first with what concerned the gods, he built a temple in all the cities of Egypt, to that god whom every particular place most adored; and he employed none of the Egyptians in his works; but finished all by the labours of the captives; and therefore he caused an inscription to be made upon all the temples thus-- "None of the natives were put to labour here." It is reported that some of the Babylonian captives, because they were not able to bear the fatigue of the work, rebelled against the king; and having possessed them- selves of a fort near the river, they took up arms against the Egyptians, and wasted the country thereabouts: but at length heaving got a pardon, they chose a place for their habitation, and called it after the name of that in their own country, Babylon. Upon the like occasion, they say, that Troy, situated near the river Nile, was so called: for Menelaus, when he returned from Ilium with many prisoners, arrived in Egypt, where the Trojans, deserting the king, seized upon a certain strong place, and took up arms against the Greeks, till they had gained their liberty, and then built a famous city after the name of their own. But I am not ignorant how Ctesias the Cretan gives a far different account of these cities, when he says, that some of those who came in former times with Semiramis into Egypt, called the cities which they built after the names of those in their own country. But it is no easy matter to know the certain truth of these things: yet it is necessary to observe the different opinions concerning them, that the judicious reader may have an occasion to inquire, in order to pick out the real truth.
Sesostris moreover raised many mounds and banks of earth, to which he removed all the cities that lay low in the plain, that both man and beast might be safe and secure at the time of the inundation of the river. He cut likewise many deep dykes from the river, all along as far as from Memphis to the sea, for the ready and quick conveying of corn and other provisions and merchandize, by short cuts thither, both for the support of trade and commerce, and maintenance of peace and plenty all over the country : and that which was of greatest moment and concern of all, was, that he fortified all parts of the country against incursions of enemies and made it difficult of access ; whereas, before, the greatest part of Egypt lay open and exposed either for chariots or horsemen to enter. But now, by reason of the multitude of canals drawn all along from the river, the entrance was very difficult, and the country not so easily to be invaded. He defended, likewise, the east side of Egypt against the irruptions of the Syrians and Arabians, with a wall drawn from Pelusium through the deserts, as far as to Heliopolis, for the space of a thou- sand and five hundred furlongs. He caused likewise a ship to be made of cedar, two hundred and fourscore cubits in length, gilded over with gold on the outside, and with silver within; and this he dedicated to the god that was most adored by the Thebans. He erected likewise two obelisks of polished marble, a hundred and twenty cubits high, on which were inscribed a description of the large extent of his empire, the great value of his revenue, and the number the nations by him conquered. He placed likewise at Memphis, in the temple of Vulcan, his and his wife's statues, each of one entire stone, thirty cubits in height, and those of his sons, twenty cubits high, upon this occasion. After his return from his great expedition into Egypt, being at Pelusium, his brother at a feast having invited him, together with his wife and children, plotted against his life; for, being all overcome by wine, and gone to rest, he caused a great quantity of dry reeds, (long before prepared for the purpose), to be placed round the king's pavilion in the night, and set them all on fire ; upon which the flame suddenly mounted aloft; and little assistance the king had either from his servants or life-guard, who were all still overloaden with wine : upon which Sesostris with his hands lift up to heaven, calling upon the gods for help for his wife and children, rushed through the flames and escaped; and so being this unexpectedly preserved, he made oblations as to other of the gods, (as is before said), so especially to Vulcan, as he by whose favour he was so remarkably delivered.
Although Sesostris was eminent in many great and worthy actions, yet the most stately and magnificent of all, was that relating to the princes in his progresses. For those kings of the conquered nations, who through his favour still held their kingdoms, and such as had received large principalities of his free gift and donation, came with their presents and tributes into Egypt, at the times appointed, whom he received with all the marks of honour and respect; save that when he went into the temple or the city, his custom was to cause the horses to be unharnessed out of his chariot, and in their room four kings, and other princes to draw it; hereby thinking to make it evident to all, that there were none comparable to him for valour, who had conquered the most potent and famous princes in the world. This king seems to have excelled all others that ever were eminent for power and greatness, both as to his warlike achievements, the number of his gifts and oblations, and his wonderful works in Egypt.
After he had reigned three-and-thirty years, he fell blind, and wilfully put an end to his own life; for which he was admired not only by priests, but by all the rest of the Egyptians; for that as he had before manifested the greatness of his mind by his actions, so now his end was agreeable, (by a voluntary death), to the glory of his life.
The fame and renown of this king continued so fresh down to posterity, that many ages after, when Egypt was conquered by the Persians, and Darius the father of Xerxes would set up his statue at Memphis above that of Sesostris, the chief priest in the debating of the matter in the conclave boldly spoke against it, declaring that Darius had not yet exceeded the noble acts of Sesostris. The king was so far from resenting this, that, on the contrary, he was so pleased and taken with this freedom of speech, that he said he would endeavour, (if he lived as long as the other did), to be nothing inferior to him; and wished them to compare things done proportionably to the time, for that this was the justest examination and trial of valour. And thus much shall suffice to be said of Sesostris.
The Acts of Sesostris the Second. Of Ammosis, Actisanes, Mendes, Proteus or Cetes, Remphis, Chemmis, (the great Pyramids built by him), Cephres, Mycerinus, Bocchoris, Sabach. The Reign of Twelve Kings in Egypt. Psammetichus Saites, one of the Kings, gained the whole; Two Hundred Thousand of his Army forsake him, and settle themselves in Ethiopia. Apries succeeds long after. Amasis rebels, and next succeeds; and Apries is strangled by the People. Amasis the last King, to the Time of the Conquest of Egypt by Cambyses.
THE son of Sesostris succeeded his father in the kingdom, and took upon him the same name, yet performed nothing remarkable by his arms; but the affliction and misery that befell him was observable; for he became blind, as his father did before him, deriving the malady either from his father in his birth, or as a judgment upon him for his impiety against the river, against which, (as it is fabulously reported), he threw his javelin; whereupon, falling under this misfortune, he was forced to apply himself for help to the gods, whom he sought to appease with many offerings and sacrifices for a long time together, yet could find no relief, till, at the end of ten years he was directed by the oracle to go and worship the god of Heliopolis, and wash his face in the urine of a woman that never had known any other man besides her own husband. Hereupon he began with his own wife, and made trial of many others, but found none honest except a gardener's wife, whom he afterwards married when he was recovered. All the adulteresses he caused to be burnt in a little village, which, from this execution, the Egyptians called the' Holy Field, to testify his gratitude to the god of Heliopolis for this great benefit. At the command of the oracle, he erected two obelisks, each of one entire stone, eight cubits in breadth, and a hundred in height, and dedicated them to the deity. After this Sesostris the second, were many successions of kings in Egypt, of whom there is nothing worth remark to be found. But many ages after, Ammosis came to the crown, who carried it tyrannically towards his subjects. For he put many to death against all law and justice, and as many he stripped of all they had, and turned them out of their estates, and carried himself haughtily and proudly in every thing towards all persons he had to deal with. This the poor oppressed people endured for a time, while they had no power to resist those that overpowered them. But as soon as Actisanes king of Ethiopia invaded him, (having now an opportunity to discover their hatred, and to revenge themselves), most of his subjects revolted from him, so that he was easily conquered, and Egypt became subject to the kings of Ethiopia. Actisanes bore his prosperity with great moderation, and carried himself kindly and obligingly towards all his subjects. Against robbers he contrived a notable device, neither putting them that were guilty to death, nor wholly acquitting or discharging them from punishment. For he caused all that were guilty, to be brought together from all parts of the country, and after a just and strict inquiry, and certain knowledge of their guilt, he ordered all their noses to be cut off, and banished them into the utmost parts of the desert; and built a city for them, called, from the cutting off of the noses of the inhabitants, Rhinocorura, which is situated in the confines of Egypt and Syria, in a barren place, destitute of all manner of provision. All the country round about is full of salt and brackish ponds, and the wells within the walls, afford but very little water, and that stinking and very bitter. And he sent them to this place on purpose that they might not for the future do any more hurt, nor lie lurking and unknown among other men. But, being1 banished to such a barren place, void almost of all things necessary for the support of man's life, (men naturally contriving all manner of arts to prevent starving), they wittily found out a way to supply their wants. For they cut up out of the neighbouring fields, reeds, and slit them in several pieces, and made long nets of them, and placed them several furlongs all along upon the shore, with which they catched the quails, (which came flying over the sea in great flocks), and by that means sufficiently provided for themselves. After this king's death, the Egyptians recovered their liberty, and set up a king of their own nation to rule over them, Meudes, (whom some call Marus), who never undertook any warlike design, but made a sepulchre for himself called a labyrinth, not to be admired so much for its greatness, as it was inimitable for its workmanship. For he that went in, could not easily come out again, without a very skilful guide. Some say that Dredalus, who came into Egypt, admired the curiosity of this work, and made a labyrinth for Minos king of Crete, like to this in Egypt, in which they fabulously relate the Minotaur was kept. But that in Crete was either ruined by some of their kings, or came to nothing through length of time, but that in Egypt continued whole and entire to our days. After the death of this Mendes, and five generations spent, (during which time there was an interregnum), the Egyptians chose one Cetes, of an ignoble extraction, to be their king, whom the Grecians call Proteus ; this fell out in the time of the Trojan war. This prince, they say, was a magician, and could transform himself sometimes into the shape of a beast, other times into a tree, or appearance of fire, or any other form and shape whatsoever. And this agrees with the account the priests of Egypt give of him; from his daily converse with the astrologers, they say, he learnt this art. The Greeks raised this story of transformation, from a custom amongst the kings; for the Egyptian princes used to wear upon' their heads, (as badges of their royal authority), the shapes of lions, bulls, and dragons; and sometimes to fix upon their heads sprouts of trees, fire, and strong perfumes of frankincense, and other sweet odours. And with those they both adorned themselves, and struck a. terror and superstitious awe into the hearts of their subjects at one and the same time. After the death of Proteus, his son Remphis succeeded him, who spent all his time in filling his coffers, and heaping up wealth. The poorness of his spirit, and his sordid covetousness was such, that they would not suffer him to part with any thing, either for the worship of the gods, or the good of mankind; and therefore, more like a good steward than a king, instead of a name for valour and noble acts, he left vast heaps of treasure behind him, greater than any of the kings that ever were before him : for it is said he had a treasure of four hundred thousand talents of gold and silver. After this king's death, for seven generations together, there reigned successively a company of kings, who gave themselves up to sloth and idleness, and did nothing but wallow in pleasures and luxury; and therefore there is no record of any great work, or other thing worthy to be remembered that ever any f»f them did, except Nile, who called the river after his own name, which was before called Egyptus. For being that he cut many canals and dykes in convenient places, and used his utmost endeavour to make the river more useful and serviceable, it was therefore called Nile. Chemmis, the eighth king from Remphis, was of Memphis, and reigned fifty years. He built the greatest of the three pyramids, which were accounted amongst the seven wonders of the world. They stand towards Libya, one hundred and twenty furlongs. from Memphis, and forty-five from the Nile. The greatness of these works, and the excessive labour of the workmen seen in them, do even strike the beholders with admiration and astonishment. The greatest being four-square, took up, on every square, seven hundred feet of ground in the basis, and above six hundred feet in height, spiring up narrower by little and little, till it came up to the point, the top of which was six cubits square. It is built of solid marble throughout, of rough work, but of perpetual duration: for though it be now a thousand years since it was built, (some say above three thousand and four hundred)., yet the stones are as firmly jointed, and the whole building as entire and without the least decay, as they were at the first laying an erection. The stone, they say, was brought a long way off, out of Arabia, and that the work was raised by making mounts of earth; cranes and other engines being not known at that time. And that which is most to be admired, is to see such a foundation so imprudently laid, as it seems to be, in a sandy place, where there is not the least sign of any earth cast up, nor marks where any stone was cut and polished; so that the whole pile seems to be reared all at once, and fixed in the midst of heaps of sand by some god, and not built by degrees by the hands of men. Some of the Egyptians tell wonderful things, and invent strange fables concerning these works, affirming that the mounts were made of salt and salt-petre, and that they were melted by the inundation of the river, and being so dissolved, every thing was washed away but the building itself. But this is not the truth of the thing; but the great multitude of hands that raised the mounts, the same carried back the earth to the place whence they dug it; for they say, there were three hundred and sixty thousand men employed in this work, and the whole was scarce completed in twenty years time. When this king was dead, his brother Cephres * succeeded him, and reigned six-and-fifty years: some say it was not his brother, but his son Chabryis that came to the crown: but all agree in this, that the successor, in imitation of his predecessor, erected another pyramid like to the former, both in structure and artificial workmanship, but not near so large, every square of the basis being only a furlong in breadth. Upon the greater pyramid was inscribed the value of the herbs and onions that were spent upon the labourers during the works, which amounted to above sixteen hundred talents. There is nothing written upon the lesser: the entrance and ascent is only on one side, cut by steps into the main stone. Although the kings designed these two for their sepulchres, yet it happened that
- Cephres, Chabreris. Supposed to reign in the name of David, and the beginning
ol Solomon reign, Heir. Chron. 42.
neither of them were there buried. For the people, being incensed at them by the reason of the toil and labour they were put to, and the cruelty and oppression of their kings, threatened to drag their carcases out of their graves, and pull them by piece-meal, and cast them to the dogs j and therefore both of them upon their beds commanded their servants to bury them in some obscure place. After him reigned Mycerinus, (otherwise called Cherinus), the son of 'him who built the first pyramid. This prince began a third, but died before it was finished; every square of the basis was three hundred feet. The walls for fifteen stories high were of black marble, like that of Thebes, the rest was of the same stone with the other pyramids. Though the other pyramids went beyond this in greatness, yet this far excelled the rest in the curiosity of the structure, and the largeness of the stones. On that side of the pyramid towards the north, was inscribed the name of the founder Mycerinus. This king, they say, detesting the severity of the former kings, carried himself all his days gently and graciously towards all his subjects, and did all that possibly he could to gain their love and good will towards him; besides other things, he expended vast sums of money upon the oracles and worship of the gods; and bestowing large gifts upon honest men, whom he judged to be injured, and to be hardly dealt with in the courts of justice. There are other pyramids, every square of which are two hundred feet in the basis; and in all things like unto the others, except in bigness. It is said that these three last kings built them for their wives. It is not in the least to be doubted, but that these pyramids far excel all the other works throughout Egypt, not only in the greatness and costs of the building, but in the excellency of the workmanship: for the architects, (they say), are much more to be admired than the kings themselves that were at the cost. For those performed all by their own ingenuity, but these did nothing but by the wealth handed to them by descent from their predecessors, and by the toil and labour of other men. Yet, concerning the first builders of these pyramids, there is no consent, either amongst the inhabitants or historians. For some say, they were built by the kings before mentioned, some by others. As that the greatest was built by Armeus, the second by Amasis, and the third by Inarouas. But some say, that this last was the sepulchre of one Rhodopides, a courtezan, and was built in remembrance of her, at the common charge of some of the governors of the provinces, who had amours with her.
Bocchoris*, was the next who succeeded in the kingdom, a very little man for body, and of a mean and contemptible presence; bat its to his wisdom and prudence, far excelling all the kings that ever were before him in Egypt. A long time after him, one Sabach (*t), an Ethiopian, came to the throne, going beyond all his predecessors in his worship of the gods, and 'kindness to his subjects. Any man may judge, and have a clear evidence of his gentle disposition in this, that when the laws pronounced the severest judgment, (I mean sentence of death), he changed the punishment, and made an edict, that the condemned persons should be kept to work in the towns in chains, by whose labour, he raised many mounts, and made many commodious canals, conceiving by this means, he should not only moderate the severity of the punishment, but instead of that which was unprofitable, advance the public good, by the service and labours of the condemned. A man may likewise judge of his extraordinary piety, from his dream, and his abdication of the government; for the tutelar god of Thebes, seemed to speak to him in his sleep, and told him, that he could not long reign happily and prosperously in Egypt, unless he cut all the priests in pieces, when he passed through the midst of them with his guards and servants; which advice being often repeated, be at length sent for the priests from all parts, and told them, that if he staid in Egypt any longer, he found that he should displease God, who never at any time before, by dreams or visions, commanded any such thing. And that he would rather be gone and lose his life, being pure and innocent, than displease God, or enjoy the crown of Egypt, by staining his life with the horrid murder of the innocent. And so at length, giving up the kingdom into the hands of the people, he returned into Ethiopia. Upon this, there was an anarchy for the space of two years; but the people falling into tumults and intestine broils and slaughters one of another, twelve of the chief nobility of the kingdom joined in a solemn oath, and then calling a senate at Memphis, and making some laws, for the better directing and cementing of them in mutual peace and fidelity, they took upon them the regal power and authority, After they had governed the kingdom very amicably for the space of fifteen years, (according to the agreement which they had mutually sworn to observe), they applied themselves to the building of u sepulchre, where they might all lie together; that, as in their life time, they had been equal in their power and au-
• Biocchoris, in the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah, An. Men. 3283. Before Christ, Pod. Helv. Cbton.
- t Subacon, or Subaco, who joined with Hoshes, King of Israel.
thority, and had always carried it with love and respect one towards another; so, after death, (being all buried together in one place), they might continue the glory of their names, in one and the same monument. To this end, they made it their business to excel all their predecessors in the greatness of their works: for near the lake of Meris in Libya, they built a four-square monument of polished marble, every square a furlong in length, for curious carvings, and other pieces of art, not to be equalled by any that should come after them. When you are entered within the wall, there is presented a stately fabric, supported round with pillars, forty on every side. The roof was of one entire stone, whereon was curiously carved, racks and mangers for horses, and other excellent pieces of workmanship; and painted and adorned with divers sorts of pictures and images; where likewise were pourtrayed, the resemblances of the kings, the temples, and the sacrifices, in most beautiful colours. And such was the cost and stateliness of this sepulchre, begun by these kings, that, (if they had not been dethroned before it was perfected), none ever after could have 'exceeded them in the state and magnificence of their works. But after they had reigned over Egypt fifteen years, all of them but one lost their sovereignty in the following manner: Psaummeticus Saites*, one of the kings, whose province was upon the sea coast, trafficked with all sorts of merchants, and especially with the Phoenicians and Grecians; by this means, enriching his province, by vending his own commodities, and the importation of those that came from Greece, he not only grew very wealthy, but gained an interest in the nations and princes abroad; upon which account, he was envied by the rest of the kings, who for that reason made war upon him. Some antient historians tell a story, that these princes were told by the oracle, that which of them should first pour wine out of a brazen phial, to the god adored at Memphis, should be sole lord of all Egypt. Whereupon Psaummeticus, when the priest brought out of the temple twelve golden phials, plucked off his helmet, and poured out a wine-offering from thence; which when his colleagues took notice of, they forebore putting him to death, but deposed him, and banished him into the fens, bordering upon the sea coast. Whether, therefore, it were this, or envy, as it is said before, that gave birth to this dissension and difference amongst them, it is certain Psammeticus hired soldiers out of Arabia, Caria, and Ionia, and, in a field-fight near the city Moniemphis, he got the day. Some of the kings of the other side were slain, and the rest fled into Africa, and were not able further to contend for the kingdom.
- Psaummeticus An. Mun. 3788. Ant. Ch. 669. Twenty-ninth year of Mananeith,
king of Judah. Psammeticus having now gained possession of the whole, built a portico to the east gate of the temple at Memphis, in honour of that god, and incompassed the temple with a wall, supporting it with Colossuses of twelve cubits high, in the room of pillars. He bestow* ed likewise upon his mercenary soldiers many large rewards over and above their pay promised them. He gave them also a place called Stratopedon to inhabit, and divided amongst them by lot a large piece of land, a little above the mouth of Pelusium, whom Amasis, (who reigned many years after), transplanted to Memphis. Being therefore that he had gained the kingdom by the help of his stipendiary soldiers, he intrusted them chiefly in the concerns of the government, and entertained great combers of strangers and foreigners. Afterwards undertaking un expedition into Syria, (to honour the foreigners), he placed them in the right wing of his army; but out of slight and disregard to the natural Egyptians, he drew them up in the left; with which affront the Egyptians were so incensed, that above two hundred thousand of them revolted, and marched away towards Ethiopia, there to settle themselves in new habitations. At first the king sent some of his captives after them, to make an apology for the dishonour done them; but these not being hearkened unto, the king himself, with some of his nobility, followed them by water. But they marched on, and entered Egypt, near the river Nile, where he earnestly entreated them to alter their purpose, and to remember their gods, their country, wives, and children: they all cried out, (beating upon their shields, and shaking their spears), that as long as they had arms in their hands, they could easily gain another country; and then turning aside the flaps of their coats, they shewed their privy members, bawling out, that as long as they were so furnished, they should never want wives or children. Possessed with this resolution and magnanimity of mind, they despised every thing that by all others are highly prized and valued, and settled themselves in a rich and fruitful soil in Ethiopia, dividing the laud amongst themselves by lot. Psammeticus laid this greatly to heart, and made it his business to settle the affairs of Egypt, and to increase his revenues, and entered into league with the Athenians and other Grecians, and was very kind and liberal to all strangers that came into Egypt. He was so taken with the Grecians, that he caused his son to be instructed in the Grecian learning. He was certainly the first of all the kings of Egypt that encouraged foreigners to traffic in his country, giving safe conduct to all strangers that sailed hither. For the former kings allowed no strangers to come into Egypt, and if any did arrive, they either put them to death, or made them slaves: and it was the churlishness of this nation, which caused all that noise among the Greeks, concerning the cruelty and wickedness of Busiris, though all was not true as it was related, but the extraordinary severity of the country gave occasion to the raising of those fables. After Psammeticus, and four generations past, Apries reigned twenty-two years. He invaded, with mighty forces, Cyprus and Phoenicia, and took Sidon by storm; and through fear and terror of him, brought other cities of Phoenicia into subjection. And having routed the Cyprians and Phoenicians in a great sea-fight, he returned into Egypt, loaden with the spoils of his enemies. But afterwards sending an army against Cyrene and Barca, he lost most of them; at which those that escaped, were extraordinarily enraged; and suspecting that he employed them in this expedition on purpose to have them all cut off, that he might reign the more securely over the rest, they all revolted. For Amasis, a nobleman of Egypt, being sent against them by the king, not only slighted the king's commands in endeavouring to make all whole again, but, on the contrary, incited the rebels to a higher degree of rage and indignation against him, and turned rebel himself, and was created king. And not long after, when the rest of the people all went over to him, the king, not knowing what to do, was forced to fly for aid to the stipendiary soldiers, who were about thirty thousand; but being routed in a field-fight, near to a town called Marius, he was there taken prisoner and strangled. Amasis, having settled his affairs in Egypt, so as he judged most conducive to the public good, governed the Egyptians with all justice and moderation, and by this gained the good will of all the people. He conquered also the cities of Cyprus, and adorned the temples of the gods with many rich gifts and offerings. Having reigned fifty-five years, he died about the time Cambyses king of Persia first invaded Egypt, in the third year of the sixty-third olympiad, in which Parmenides of Camarina was victor*.
- Ant. Christ. 523.
- The wiser ancients have here asked this pertinent question—Grant that heat unfolds and draws forth the seminal principle—Who first formed that seminal principle; that is, who inclosed the future full grown form in the seed? The fact of the mice is as ridiculous as it is false.
- This Saturn is judged upon good grounds to be Noah. Boccard, Phaleg. lib. i. c. 1. f. 1. Stilling Orig. Sacr. lib. 5. c. 5. sect. 8.
- These were five days added to the end of every year, to make up their former year, to consist of 365 days. See the reason, Orig. Sacr. 90, 91.
- The same with Cham.
- This Osiris was murdered about the time Jacob, with his whole family, came into Egypt : as by Helvicus Cro, An. Mund. 2239. Vid. Sir Walter Rawl. History, lib. I. part 1. cap. 2 sect. 5. That this Osiris was Misraim, the Son of Cham.
- ln the time of this Orus, Jacob is said to come into Egypt. Sir Walter Rawl. lib. 2 part 1. c. 2. sect. 5. Helvicus says in the time of Osiris, An. Mun. 2239.
- These must be understood lunary years of thirty days, as the Egyptians used to account. Vid. Plut, Numa. Laet. lib. 2. c. 12. p. 118. Orus the son or Osiris, was born An. Mund, 1778. Alexander's Conquest of Egypt, An. Mun. 3661, which is 1889 years after, which makes up 22,996 lunar years, and 15 days, which comes near to this account of Diodorus. Orig. Sacr. c. 5.
- Twenty-seven miles.