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creature, and belief in the transmigration of human souls into animals, produced effects similar to those in Hindostan. Egyptian priests had a great horror of blood. They never shed it except in sacrifices to the gods, and that only upon very important occasions. Herodotus says: “The Egyptians put no cattle to death ;" and he informs us that vessels were kept to convey away the bones of those that died, and bury them in an island appropriated to that purpose. Why some animals were worshipped, and others not, and why some of the favoured ones should have been the least sagacious or agreeable of beasts, was perhaps known to themselves and the Hindoos, but is likely to remain an unsolved riddle for us. In their complicated system of an eternal relation between all things in the universe, each deity had certain stars, plants and animals, mysteriously allied to him, and under his peculiar protection. Thus the Cow and the Lotus were sacred to Isis; the Bull and the fragrant blossom of the Golden Bean were sacred to Osiris. Each of the genii presiding over the signs of the zodiac had some plants or animals under his especial care. If we understood their system, we might perhaps discover why constellations are represented in the shape of animals, and why the Ram of Amun, the Bull of Osiris, and the Goat of Kham, mark successive signs in the zodiac. In some such way, animals were first introduced into the temple as emblems; and afterward when mystical worship degenerated into lifeless superstition, they adored the emblems as deities. Some of these animals were universally worshipped, others only in particular districts; and some were more sumptuously provided for than others. Public buildings and parks, warm baths, carpets, rich furniture, and beautiful female companions of their own species, were procured for them. They were perfumed with fragrant oils and fed on dainties. To kill or maltreat them was the greatest crime, and when they died, they were embalmed and magnificently buried. Men and women were set apart to take charge of them. The office was hereditary, and considered extremely honourable. When these functionaries passed through villages, with the sacred banners of the animals they served, people bowed to the ground before them. When children recovered from sickness, parents shaved their hair, and gave the weight of it in gold or silver for the support of those animals. Even in time of famine, when driven to eat human flesh, the populace refrained from destroying any of these consecrated creatures. If they accidentally found one dead, they stood lamenting, and proclaiming with a loud voice that they found it so. When Cambyses, the Persian, invaded Egypt, he took advantage of their customs, and protected his army by a vanguard of sacred animals.
Of all creatures the cow was held in the greatest veneration throughout Egypt. On great occasions, they sacrificed unblemished bulls or bullocks to the gods, but never heifers. Whoever killed one, even involuntarily, was punished with instant death.
A Bull called Apis, supposed by some to represent the celestial bull of the zodiac, was inaugurated with many ceremonies, and worshipped by the people as a God. Opposite the temple of Phtha, at Memphis, was a magnificent edifice where he was kept when publicly exhibited. The walls were richly sculptured, and the roof supported by colossal statues. He was generally seen only through the windows, but on some occasions he was led out into the vestibule, where his sacred mother was fed. He had extensive parks for exercise, and the most beautiful cows for companions. His food was carefully regulated, and he drank from a clear fountain, because the water of the Nile was deemed too fattening. He had access to two stables. If he entered one it was a good omen; if the other, it was an evil sign. If he ate readily, it was deemed fortunate for him who offered the food; but if he rejected it, they foreboded calamity. Those who wished to consult his oracle, deposited a coin on his altar, with certain ceremonies; and the first exclamation they heard afterward was deemed a voice from heaven for their guidance. They paid particular attention to the exclamations of little chil
dren, especially if they were playing within the precincts of temples. It was supposed that children who smelled the breath of Apis received the gift of prophecy in a pre-eminent degree. At the annual rising of the Nile, a festival was held in commemoration of his birth. It continued seven days, and brought to Memphis a vast concourse of spectators. He was led through the city by priests in solemn procession, with troops of children singing hymns before him; and as he passed, all the people came out to welcome him. A golden shell was thrown into the Nile, and crocodiles were said to be tame while the feast lasted; probably because they received so much food. Notwithstanding this extreme veneration, Apis was not allowed to survive twenty-five years. If he lived till that age, the priests drowned him in a fountain, and all the people mourned till a new Apis was found. This limitation of his existence is supposed to have reference to some period in their astronomical calculations. He was embalmed, and great sums were lavished on his funeral. In 1816, Belzoni discovered, among tombs excavated in the mountains near Thebes, a huge sarcophagus of purest oriental alabaster, transparent and sonorous, covered with beautiful sculptured ornaments and hieroglyphic inscriptions, within and without. It contained the embalmed body of a bull.
When Apis was dead, the priests went in search of an animal to succeed him. The Sacred Books required that he should be black, with a white triangle on his forehead, & white crescent on his right side, and a bunch like a beetle under his tongue. When such a calf was found, it was said the cow conceived him by a ray from the sun. He was fed four months on milk, in a building facing the rising sun. At the end of the new moon, he was carried to Heliopolis in a richly gilded ship. There he was fed by women forty days. Thence he was conveyed with much pomp to his stately edifice at Memphis. The man from whose herd he was selected was deemed the most fortunate of mortals.
When Cambyses conquered Egypt, having the Persian horror of idols, he defaced the statues of the gods, and stabbed Apis with his sword. Ochus, one of his successors, served up Apis at a banquet, and put an Ass in the temple in his stead; for which outrage an Egyptian assassinated him and threw his body to the cats. Viewed calmly at this distance of time, the spirit manifested by one seems scarcely more commendable than that of the other.
A variety of animals were venerated only in particular districts. Thebans abstained from sheep, because the ram was an emblem of their god Amun. They never put one to death, except on the annual festival of that deity, when they sacrificed a ram with many ceremonies, and placed the skin upon his image. At Mendes, the presiding deity was Kham, God of Generation, who was represented with the head of a she-goat, and the legs of a male; therefore goats were sacred in that region. The god Anubis was represented with a dog's head. Wherever his worship prevailed, the dog was sacred, and they shaved their heads in token of mourning when one died. In some places, apes and monkeys were sacred, being connected with the history of the god Thoth. At Heliopolis, they detested the crocodile and assigned it to Typho, the Destroyer; but in the vicinity of Lake Moeris they worshipped the ugly creature. They kept a crocodile in a tank at the temple, and fed it with portions of the sacrifices. The priests, having rendered it perfectly tame by kind treatment, adorned it with bracelets of gold and necklaces of artificial gems. Worshippers brought offerings of bread and wine. In those districts they deemed it a mark of favour from the deity to be devoured by these monsters. A story is recorded of a woman who brought up a young crocodile, and her countrymen considered her the nurse of a divinity. Her little son played fearlessly with the beast, but when it grew large it devoured the boy. His mother exulted, considering his fate peculiarly blest in being thus incorporated with the household god. In some places small serpents were kept in the temples, fed on honey and flour. It was considered a mark of divine favour to be bitten by any
199 of this species. At Bubastis they worshipped a goddess represented with the head of a cat; and in that region cats were sacred. When one of them died, they shaved their eye-brows in sign of mourning. If a person killed one, even accidentally, a mob gathered round him and tore him to pieces without trial. When they went to foreign wars, they embalmed dogs and cats that died on the way, and brought them home for honourable burial. Belzoni found entire tombs filled with nothing but embalmed cats, carefully folded in red and white linen, the head covered by a mask representing its face.
Each district held to its own worship with the bigotry that everywhere characterizes disputes about religious faith. A civil war arose between two districts, because one ate the fish hat the other worshipped. They did each other much mischief, and were severely punished by the Romans, The inhabitants of Ombos attacked those of Tentyris, because they had killed a crocodile; and the war was car. ried on with all the fury of sectarian zeal. Josephus declares that as early as the time when Abraham was in Egypt “they despised one another's sacred and accustomed rites, and were very angry one with another on that account.” What theological tenets among the priests of different deities were at stake in these contentions cannot now be traced; but the great resemblance existing between their religion and that of Hindostan naturally leads to the conclusion that similar causes were at work to produce similar effects. Doubtless they had their formalists and spiritualists, their atheists and fanatics. It is recorded that the people of Thebais paid divine honours to nothing in mortal form, but adored only Cneph. Plutarch says the inhabitants of that region, on account of their more spiritual worship of One Invisible God, "without beginning or end,” were excused from paying the public taxes levied on other Egyptians for maintenance of the sacred animals. It may readily be conjectured that such sects, like the Vedantins of Hindostan, regarded with pity those minds which had need of images and external symbols. But