Page images

manner; and the whole way of living, and the language, is similar in both nations; but the Colchian linen is called by the Greeks Sardonic, though that which comes from Egypt is called Egyptian. As to the pillars which Sesostris, King of Egypt, erected in the different countries, most of them are evidently no longer in existence, but in Syrian Palestine I myself saw some still remaining, and the inscriptions before mentioned still on them. There are also in Ionia two images of this king, carved on rocks, one on the way from Ephesia to Phocæa, the other from Sardis to Smyrna. In both places a man is carved, four cubits and a half high, holding a spear in his right hand, and in his left a bow, and the rest of his equipment in unison, for it is partly Egyptian and partly Ethiopian; from one shoulder to the other across the breast extend sacred Egyptian characters engraved, which have the following meaning: “I ACQUIRED THIS REGION BY MY OWN SHOULDERS.” Who or whence he is, he does not here show, but has elsewhere made known. Some who have seen these monuments have conjectured them to be images of Memnon, herein being very far from the truth.

The priests said moreover of this Egyptian Sesostris, that returning and bringing with him many men from the nations whose territories he had subdued, when he arrived at the Pelusian Daphnæ, his brother, to whom he had committed the government of Egypt, invited him to an entertainment, and his sons with him, and caused wood to be piled up round the house, and having caused it to be piled up, set it on fire: but that Sesostris, being informed of this, immediately consulted with his wife, for he took his wife with him; and she advised him to extend two of his six sons across the fire, and form a bridge over the burning mass, and that the rest should step on them and make their escape. Sesostris did so, and two of his sons were in this manner burned to death, but the rest, together with their father, were saved. Sesostris haying returned to Egypt, and taken revenge on his brother, employed the multitude of prisoners whom he brought from the countries he had subdued, in the following works: these were the persons who drew the huge stones which, in the time of this king, were conveyed to the Temple of Vulcan; they, too, were compelled to dig all the canals now seen in Egypt; by their involuntary labour they made Egypt, which before was throughout practicable for horses and carriages, unfit for these purposes; for from that time Egypt, though it was one level plain, became impassable for horses or carriages; and this is caused by the canals, which are numerous and in every direction. But the king intersected the country for this reason: such of the Egyptians as occupied the cities not on the river, but inland, when the river receded, being in want of water, were forced to use a brackish beverage which they drew from wells; and for this reason Egypt was intersected. They said also that this king divided the country among all the Egyptians, giving an equal square allotment to each; and from thence he drew his revenues, having required them to pay a fixed tax every year; but if the river happened to take away a part of any one's allotment, he was to come to him and make known what had happened; whereupon the king sent persons to inspect and measure how much the land was diminished, that in future he might pay a proportionate part of the appointed tax. Hence land-measuring appears to me to have had its beginning, and to have passed over into Greece; for the pole and the sun-dial, and the division of the day into twelve parts, the Greeks_learned from the Babylonians. This king was the only Egyptian that ruled over Ethiopia; and he left as memorials before Vulcan's Temple statues of stone; two of thirty cubits, himself and his wife; and his four sons, each of twenty cubits. A long time afterward, the priest of Vulcan would not suffer Darius the Persian to place his statue before them, saying that deeds had not been achieved by him equal to those of Sesostris the Egyptian: for that Sesostris had subdued other nations, not fewer than Darius had done, and the Scythians besides; but that Darius was not able to conquer the Scythians; wherefore it was not right for one who had not surpassed him in achievements to place his statue before his offerings. They relate, however, that Darius pardoned these observations.

After the death of Sesostris, they said that his son Pheron succeeded to the kingdom; that he undertook no military expedition, and happened to become blind through the following occurrence: The river having risen a very great height for that time, to eighteen cubits, when it overflowed the fields, a storm of wind arose, and the river was tossed about in waves; whereupon they say that the king with great arrogance laid hold of a javelin, and threw it into the midst of the eddies of the river; and that immediately afterward he was seized with a pain in his eyes, and became blind. He continued blind for ten years; but in the eleventh year an oracle reached him from the city of Buto, importing that the time of his punishment was expired, and he should recover his sight by washing his eyes with the urine of a woman who had had intercourse with her own husband only, and had known no other man. He therefore made trial of his own wife first, and afterward, when he did not recover his sight, he made trial of others indifferently; and at length having recovered his sight, he collected the women of whom he had made trial, except the one by washing with whose urine he had recovered his sight, into one city, which is now called Erythrebolus, and when he had assembled them together he had them all burned, together with the city; but the woman, by washing in whose urine he recovered his sight, he took to himself to wife. Having escaped from this calamity in his eyes, he dedicated other offerings throughout all the celebrated temples, and, what is most worthy of mention, he dedicated to the temple of the sun works worthy of admiration, two stone obelisks, each consisting of one stone, and each a hundred cubits in length and eight cubits in breadth.

They said that a native of Memphis succeeded him in the kingdom, whose name in the Grecian language is Proteus : there is to this day an inclosure sacred to him at Memphis, which is very beautiful and richly adorned, situated to the south side of the Temple of Vulcan. Tyrian Phænicians dwell round this inclosure, and the whole tract is called the Tyrian camp. In this inclosure of Proteus is a temple which is called after the foreign Venus: and I conjecture that this is the Temple of Helen, the daughter of Tyndarus, both because I have heard that Helen lived with Proteus, and also because it is named from the foreign Venus: for of all the other temples of Venus, none is anywhere called by the name of foreign. When I inquired about Helen, the priests told me that the case was thus: That when Paris had carried Helen off from Sparta, he sailed away to his own country, and when he was in the Ægean, violent winds drove him out of his course into the Egyptian Sea, and from thence, for the gale did not abate, he came to Egypt, and in Egypt to that which is now called the Canopic mouth of the Nile, and to Taricheæ. On that shore stood a Temple of Hercules, which remains to this day; in which, if the slave of any person whatsoever takes refuge and has sacred marks impressed on him, so devoting himself to the god, it is not lawful to lay hands on him. This custom continues the same to my time, as it was from the first. The attendants of Paris, therefore, when informed of the custom that prevailed respecting the temple, revolted from him, and sitting as suppliants of the god, accused Paris with a view to injure him, relating the whole account how things stood with regard to Helen, and his injustice toward Menelaus. These accusations were made to the priests, and the governor of that mouth, whose name was Thonis. Thonis having heard this, immediately sent a message to Proteus at Memphis, to the following effect: “A stranger of Trojan race has arrived, after having committed a nefarious deed in Greece; for, having beguiled the wife of his own host, he has brought her with him, and very great treasures, having been driven by winds to this land. Whether, then, shall we allow him to depart unmolested, or shall we seize what he has brought with him? Proteus sent back a messenger with the following answer:

Seize this man, whoever he may be, that has acted so wickedly toward his host, and bring him to me, that I may know what he will say for himself." Thonis having received this message, seized Paris, and detained his ships; and then sent him up to Memphis with Helen and his treasures, and besides the suppliants also. When all were carried up, Proteus asked Paris who he was, and whence he had sailed; and he gave him an account of his family, and told him the name of his country, and moreover described his voyage, and from whence he had set sail. Then Proteus asked him whence he got Helen; and when Paris prevaricated in his account, and did not speak the truth, they who had become suppliants accused him, relating the whole account of his crime. At last Proteus pronounced this judgment, saying: “If I did not think it of great moment not to put any stranger to death who, being prevented by the winds from pursuing his course, has come to my territory, I would take vengeance on you on behalf of the Grecian, you basest of men, who, after you had met with hospitable treatment, have committed the most nefarious deed: you seduced the wife of your host, and this did not content you, but having excited her passions, you have taken her away by stealth. Nor even did this content you, but you have also robbed the house of your host, and come hither with the spoils : now, therefore, since I deem it of great moment not to put a stranger to death, I will not suffer you to carry away this woman or this treasure, but I will keep them for your Grecian host until he please to come himself and take them away; as for you and your shipmates, I bid you depart out of my territory to some other within three days; if not, you shall be treated as enemies."

The priests gave this account of the arrival of Helen at the court of Proteus. And Homer appears to me to have heard this relation; but it was not equally suited to epic poetry as the other which he has made use of, wherefore he has re

jected it, though he has plainly shown that he was acquainted with this account also. And this is evident, since he has described in the “Iliad” (and has nowhere else retraced his steps) the wanderings of Paris, how, while he was carrying off Helen, he was driven out of his course, and wandered to other places, and how he arrived at Sidon of Phænicia : and he has mentioned it in the exploits of Diomede, his verses are as follows: “Where were the variegated robes, works of Sidonian women, which godlike Paris himself brought from Sidon, sailing over the wide sea, along the course by which he conveyed high-born Helen." 1 He mentions it also in the “Odyssey," in the following lines: “Such well-chosen drugs had the daughter of Jove, of excellent quality, which Polydamna gave her, the Egyptian wife of Thonis, where the fruitful earth produces many drugs, many excellent when mixed, and many noxious.”2 Menelaus also says the following to Telemachus: “The gods detained me in Egypt, though anxious to return hither because I did not offer perfect hecatombs to them." 3 He shows in these verses that he was acquainted with the wandering of Paris in Egypt; for Syria borders on Egypt; and the Phænicians, to whom Sidon belongs, inhabit Syria. From these verses, and this first passage especially, it is clear that Homer was not the author of the Cyprian verses, but some other person. For in the Cyprian verses it is said that Paris reached Ilium from Sparta on the third day, when he carried off Helen, having met with a favourable wind and a smooth sea; whereas Homer in the “ Iliad ” says that he wandered far while taking her with him. And now I take my leave of Homer and the Cyprian verses.

When I asked the priests whether the Greeks tell an idle story about the Trojan war, or not, they gave me the following answer, saying that they knew it by inquiry from Menelaus himself: That after the rape of Helen, a vast army of Grecians came to the land of Teucria to assist Menelaus; and that when the army had landed and pitched their camp, they sent ambassadors to Ilium, and that Menelaus himself went with them: when they reached the walls, they demanded the restitution of Helen, and the treasures that Paris had stolen from him, and satisfaction for the injuries done: that the Trojans told the same story then and ever after, both when put to the oath and when not swearing, that they had neither Helen nor the treasures about which they were accused, but that they were all in Egypt; and that they could not with justice be answerable for what Proteus, the Egyptian king, Iliad, vi: 289.

Odyssey, iv: 227. * Odyssey, iv: 351,

« PreviousContinue »