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Egyptian obelisk by Hermapion, preserved by Ammianus Marcellinus; unfortunately, however, neither the name of Hermapion's work nor the time in which he lived is known. This extract consists of the Greek translation of six lines of hieroglyphs: three lines are from the south side of the obelisk, one line from the east side, and a second and a third line from the other sides. A comparison of the Greek extract with any inscription of Rameses II on an obelisk shows at once that Hermapion must have had a certain accurate knowledge of hieroglyphs; his translation of the lines, however, does not follow consecutively. The following examples will show that the Greek, in many cases, represents the Egyptian very closely. Λέγει "Ηλιος βασιλεῖ Ῥαμέστῃ· δεδώρημαί σοι ἀνὰ πᾶσαν οἰκουμένην μετὰ χαρᾶς βασιλεύειν, ὃν Ἥλιος φιλεῖ =
Says Rã, I give to thee all lands and foreign
countries with rest of heart, O king of the North and South, Usrmaat-Ra-setep-en-Ra, son of the Sun, Rameses, beloved of Amen
Ra.” Θεογέννητος κτιστὴς τῆς οἰκουμένης = 1 1973 11
'born of the gods, possessor of the two lands" (i.e., the world). Ὁ ἑστὼς ἐπ ̓ ἀληθείας δεσπότης διαδήματος, τὴν Αἴγυπτον δοξάσας κεκτημένος, ὁ ἀγλαοποιήσας Ἡλίου πόλιν
'[the mighty bull], resting upon Law, lord of diadems, protector of Egypt, making splendid Heliopolis with monuments.” Ἥλιος θεὸς μέγας δεσπότης οὐρανοῦ
"Says Rā Harmakhis, the great god, lord
of heaven,” πληρώσας τὸν νεὼν τοῦ φοίνικος ἀγαθῶν, ᾧ οἱ θεοὶ ζωῆς
filling the temple of the bennu (phoenix) with his splendours, may the gods give to him life like the Sun for ever," etc.
The Flaminian obelisk, from which the Egyptian passages given above are taken, was brought from Heliopolis to Rome by Augustus, and placed in the Circus Maximus,2 whence it was dug out; it now stands in the Piazza del Popolo at Rome, where it was
1 Liber XVII, 4.
2 Qui autem notarum textus obelisco incisus est veteri, quem videmus in Circo, etc. Ammianus Marcellinus, XVII, 4, § 17. It seems to be referred to in Pliny, XXXVI, 29.
set up by Pope Sixtus V in 1589.1 This obelisk was originally set up by Seti I, whose inscriptions occupy the middle column of the north, south, and west sides; the other columns of hieroglyphs record the names and titles of Rameses II who, in this case, appropriated the obelisk of his father, just as he did that of Thothmes III. The obelisk was found broken into three pieces, and in order to render it capable of standing up, three palms' length was cut from the base. The texts have been published by Kircher, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, tom. III, p. 213; by Ungarelli, Interpretatio Obeliscorum Urbis, Rome, 1842, p. 65 sqq., plate 2; and by Bonomi, who drew them for a paper on this obelisk by the Rev. G. Tomlinson in Trans. Royal Soc. Lit., Vol. I, Second Series, p. 176 ff. For an account of this obelisk see Zoega, De Origine et Usu Obeliscorum, Rome, 1797, p. 92.
The next Greek writer whose statements on Egyptian hieroglyphs are of value is Clement of Alexandria, who flourished about A.D. 191-220. According to Champollion, un seul auteur grec, a démêlé et signalé, dans l'écriture égyptienne sacrée, les élémens phonétiques, lesquels en sont, pour ainsi dire, le principe vital2 Clément d'Alexandrie s'est, lui seul, occasionnellement attaché à en donner une idée claire; et ce philosophe chrétien était, bien plus que tout autre, en position d'en être bien instruit. Lorsque mes recherches et l'étude constante des monuments égyptiens m'eurent conduit aux résultats précédemment exposés, je dus revenir sur ce passage de Saint Clément d'Alexandrie, que j'ai souvent cité, pour savoir si, à la faveur des notions que j'avais tirées d'un examen soutenu des inscriptions hieroglyphiques, le texte de l'auteur grec ne deviendrait pas plus intelligible qu'il ne l'avait paru jusque-là. J'avoue que ses termes me semblèrent alors si positifs et si clairs, et les idées qu'il renferme si exactement conformes à ma théorie de l'écriture hiéroglyphique, que je dus craindre aussi de me livrer à une illusion et à un entraînement dont tout me commandait de me défier."3 From the above it will be seen what a high value Champollion placed on the statements concerning the hieroglyphs by Clement, and they have, in consequence, formed the subject of various works by eminent authorities. In his Précis (p. 328) Champollion gives the extract from Clement with a Latin translation and remarks by Letronne. Dulaurier in his Examen d'un passage des Stromates de Saint Clément d'Alexandrie, Paris, 1833, again published the passage and gave many explanations of words in it, and commented learnedly upon it. (See also Bunsen's Aegyptens Stelle, Bd. I, p. 240, and Thierbach, Erklärung
1 For a comparative table of obelisks standing in 1840 see Bonomi, "Notes on Obelisks," in Trans. Royal Soc. Lit., Vol. I, Second Series, p. 158.
2 Précis du Système hiéroglyphique des anciens Égyptiens, Paris, 1824, p. 321. 3 Précis, p. 327.
See also Euvres Choisies, tom. I, pp. 237-254.
auf das Aegyptische Schriftwesen, Erfurt, 1846.) The passage is as follows:
αὐτίκα οἱ παρ ̓ Αἰγυπτίοις παιδευόμενοι πρῶτον μὲν πάντων τὴν Αἰγυπτίων γραμμάτων μέθοδον ἐκμανθάνουσι τὴν ἐπιστολογραφικὴν καλουμένην, δευτέραν δὲ τὴν ἱερατικήν, ᾗ χρῶνται οἱ ἱερογραμματεῖς, ὑστάτην δὲ καὶ τελευταίαν τὴν ἱερογλυφικήν, ἧς ἡ μέν ἐστι διὰ τῶν πρώτων στοιχείων κυριολογική, ἡ δὲ συμβολική. τῆς δὲ συμβολικῆς ἡ μὲν κυριολογεῖται κατὰ μίμησιν, ἡ δ ̓ ὥσπερ τροπικῶς γράφεται, ἡ δὲ ἄντικρυς ἀλληγορεῖται κατά τινας αἰνιγμούς, ἥλιον γοῦν γράψαι βουλόμενοι κύκλον ποιοῦσι, σελήνην δὲ σχῆμα μηνοειδὲς κατὰ τὸ κυριολογούμενον εἶδος, τροπικῶς δὲ κατ' οἰκειότητα μετάγοντες καὶ μετατιθέντες, τὰ δ ̓ ἐξαλλάττοντες, τὰ δὲ πολλαχῶς μετασχηματίζοντες χαράττουσιν. Τοὺς γοῦν τῶν βασιλέων ἐπαίνους θεολογουμένοις μύθοις παραδιδόντες ἀναγράφουσι διὰ τῶν ἀναγλύφων, τοῦ δὲ κατὰ τοὺς αἰνιγμοὺς τρίτου εἴδους δεῖγμα ἔστω τόδε. τὰ μὲν γὰρ τῶν ἄλλων ἄστρων διὰ τὴν πορείαν τὴν λοξὴν ὄφεων σώμασιν ἀπείκαζον, τὸν δὲ ἥλιον τῷ τοῦ κανθάρου, ἐπειδὴ κυκλοτερὲς ἐκ τῆς βοείας ὄνθου σχημα πλασάμενος ἀντιπρόσωπος κυλίνδει. φασὶ δὲ καὶ ἑξάμηνον μὲν ὑπὸ γῆς, θάτερον δὲ τοῦ ἔτους τμῆμα τὸ ζῷον τοῦτο ὑπὲρ γῆς διαιτᾶσθαι, σπερμαίνειν τε εἰς τὴν σφαῖραν καὶ γεννᾶν, καὶ θῆλυν κάνθαρον μὴ γίνεσθαι.
"For example, those that are educated among the Egyptians first of all learn that system of Egyptian characters which is styled EPISTOLOGRAPHIC; secondly, the HIERATIC, which the sacred scribes employ; lastly and finally the HIEROGLYPHIC. The hieroglyphic sometimes speaks plainly by means of the letters of the alphabet, and sometimes uses symbols, and when it uses symbols it sometimes (a) speaks plainly by imitation, and sometimes (b) describes in a figurative way, and sometimes (c) simply says one thing for another in accordance with certain secret rules. Thus (a) if they desire to write sun or moon, they make a circle or a crescent in plain imitation of the form. And when (b) they describe figuratively (by transfer and transposition without violating the natural meaning of words), they completely alter some things and make manifold changes in the form of others. Thus, they hand down the praises of their kings in myths about the gods which they write up in relief. Let this be an example of the third form (c) in accordance with the secret rules. While they represent the stars generally by snakes' bodies, because their course is crooked, they represent the sun by the body of a beetle, for the beetle moulds a ball from cattle dung and rolls it before him. And they say that this animal lives under ground for six months, and above ground for the other portion of the year, and that it deposits its seed in this globe and there engenders offspring, and that no female beetle exists."
1 Clem. Alex., ed. Dindorf, tom. III, Strom. lib. v, §§ 20, 21, pp. 17, 18.
From the above we see that Clement rightly stated that the Egyptians had three kinds of writing-epistolographic, hieratic and hieroglyphic. The epistolographic is that kind which is now called "demotic," and which in the early days of hieroglyphic decipherment was called " enchorial." The hieratic is the kind commonly found on papyri. The hieroglyphic kind is described as, I. cyriologic, that is to say, by means of figurative phonetic characters, e.g., emsuḥ, "crocodile," and II. symbolic, that is to say, by actual representations of objects, e.g., "goose,' "bee," and so on. The symbolic division is subdivided into , a vase with water flowing from it represented a "libation"; II. tropical, e.g.,, a crescent moon to represent "month," month,", a reed and palette to represent “writing" or "scribe"; and III. enigmatic, e.g., §, a beetle, to represent the "sun." In modern Egyptian Grammars the matter is stated more simply, and we see that hieroglyphic signs are used in two ways: I. Ideographic, II. Phonetic. 'water,” is an instance of the first method, and
three parts: I. cyriologic by imitation, e.g., }, a
is an instance of the second. Ideographic signs are used as determinatives, and are either ideographic or generic. Thus after màu, “ cat,” a cat is placed, and is an ideographic determinative; but, heaven with a star in it, written after gerḥ, is a generic determinative. Phonetic signs are either Alphabetic b, k, or Syllabic, as men, Porphyry the Philosopher, who died about A.D. 305, says of Pythagoras2:
từ khen, etc.
Καὶ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ μὲν τοῖς ἱερεῦσι συνῆν καὶ τὴν σοφίαν ἐξέμαθε, καὶ τὴν Αἰγυπτίων φωνήν, γραμμάτων δὲ τρισσὰς διαφοράς, ἐπιστολογραφικῶν τε καὶ ἱερογλυφικῶν καὶ συμβολικῶν, τῶν μὲν κοινολογουμένων κατὰ μίμησιν, τῶν δὲ ἀλληγορουμένων κατά τινας αἰνιγμούς.
And in Egypt he lived with the priests and learnt their wisdom and the speech of the Egyptians and three sorts of writing, epistolographic and hieroglyphic and symbolic, which sometimes speak in the common way by imitation and sometimes describe one thing by
1 Champollion, Précis, p. 278.
2 Porphyry, De Vita Pythagorae, ed. Didot, § 11, p. 89, at the foot.
another in accordance with certain secret rules." Here it seems that Porphyry copied Clement inaccurately. Thus he omits all mention of the Egyptian writing called “hieratic,” and of the subdivision of hieroglyphic called "cyriologic," and of the second subdivision of the symbolic called "tropic." The following table, based on Letronne, will make the views about hieroglyphic writing held by the Greeks plain :—
and the inscription of Rosetta divide
into two divisions
I. The common,
Egyptian writing II. The
δημοτικά and δημώδη by Herodotus and Clement,
yxopia by the inscription of Rosetta, ἐπιστολογραφικά by Clement of Alexandria and Porphyry.
sacred, 1. Hieratic, or the writing of the priests. divided by a. Cyriologic, by means Clement into 2. Hieroglyphic composed of
of the first letters of the alphabet. b. Sym- (a. Cyriological bolical by imitation. comb. Tropical or prising metaphorical. c. Enigmatical.
The next writer of importance on hieroglyphs is Horapollo, who towards the close of the IVth century of our era composed a work called 'Iepoyλupixá; this book was translated into Greek by one Philip, of whom nothing is known. Wiedemann thinks that it was originally written in Coptic, which, in the Middle Ages, was usually called "Egyptian," and not in ancient Egyptian.1 In this work are given the explanations of a number of ideographs which occur, for the most part, in Ptolemaïc inscriptions; but, like the list of those given by Chaeremon, no phonetic values of the signs are given. Nevertheless the list is of considerable interest. The best edition of Horapollo is that of Conrad Leemans,2 but the text was edited in a handy form, with an English translation and notes by Samuel Sharpe and Dr. Birch, by J. Cory, in 1840.
In more modern times the first writer at any length on hieroglyphs was Athanasius Kircher, the author of some ponderous works3 in which he pretended to have found the key to the hieroglyphic inscriptions, and to translate them. Though a man of
1 Aegyptische Geschichte, p. 151. The sepulchre of Gordian was inscribed in Egyptian. Gordiano sepulchrum milites apud Circeium castrum fecerunt in finibus Persidis, titulum hujus modi addentes et Graecis, et Latinis, et Persicis, et Judaicis, et Aegyptiacis literis, ut ab omnibus legeretur." Erasmus, Hist. Rom. Scriptorum, Basle, 1533, p. 312, at the top.
2 Horapollinis Niloi Hieroglyphica edidit, diversorum codicum recenter collatorum, priorumque editionum varias lectiones et versionem latinam subjunxit, adnotationem, item hieroglyphicorum imagines et indices adjecit C.L. Amstelod., 1835.
3 Obeliscus Pamphilius, Hieroglyphicis involuta Symbolis, detecta e tenebris in lucem asseritur, Rome, 1650, fol. Oedipus Aegyptiacus, hoc est, universalis hieroglyphicae veterum doctrinae, temporum injuria obolitae instauratio. Rome, 1652-54. Tom. I-IV, fol.