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In exhibiting the accounts which these writers have left us, it will be convenient to divide them into two classes — those which relate to prehistoric times, and those which relate to historic times. The time of separation between these has usually been placed at the reign of Menes, the first mortal king, though there is some evidence that Menes himself is a mythological personage.
I. THE PREHISTORIC TIMES OF EGYPT.
The following are among the testimonies of ancient writers on this subject :
From Diogenes Laertius (Int. § 2). “ The Egyptians say that Vulcan was the son of Nilus, and that he was the author of philosophy. ... From his age to that of Alexander, king of the Macedonians, were forty-eight thousand eight hundred and sixty-three years, and, during this time, there were three hundred and seventy-three eclipses of the sun, and eight hundred and thirty-two eclipses of the moon.”
From Diodorus Siculus (I. i. § 14). “ The priests of Egypt, summing up the time from the reign of Helius (the sun).to the passage of Alexander into Asfa, find it more than twenty-three thousand years."
From Herodotus (II. 43). *** « But there was a certain ancient god with the Egyp- . tians, by name Hercules. Seventeen thousand years before the reign of Amasis, the twelve gods were, they affirm, produced from the eight, and, of these twelve, Hercules is one." From Pomponius Mela (Cory's Anc. Fragments,
p. 163). “ The Egyptians, according to their own accounts, are the most ancient of men, and they reckon, in their series of annals, three hundred and thirty kings, who reigned above thirteen thousand years.”
From the “ Old Chronicle.” * · This venerable document is reported to us by George Syncellus, a Greek writer of the ninth century. It professes to give the duration of thirty dynasties of Egyptian kings, covering a period of thirty-six thousand five hundred and twenty-five years. The first fourteen of these belonged to prehistoric times, embracing thirty-four thou: sand two hundred and one years. According to this Chronicle, only the last sixteen of the thirty dynasties belong to historic times, which are made to commence about B. C. 2043.
From Eusebius. This distinguished historian and chronologer devotes d chapter in his “ Chronicon” (book i. ch. 20) to Egyp
* See page 73.
tian chronology, expressly mentioning Manetho * as his authority. He niakes the reigns of the gods, from Vulcan (Hephaistus) to Bytis, to have been thirteen thousand nine hundred years, and those of demigods, manes, heroes, and other kings of the same age, eleven thousand years — in all, twenty-four thousand nine hundred years. He then gives an account of the so-called thirty-one dynasties, beginning with Menes, the first mortal king, who, according to the numbers mentioned, — if the dynasties are regarded as consecutive, - began his reign about B. C. 5500, thus carrying back the full antiquity of the Egyptian people to about 30,500 B. C.
From Julius Africanus. This writer was a learned chronologer of the second century after Christ. He gives us a version of Manetho, which, so far as relates to the mythologic times of Egypt, differs, in essential particulars, from that of Eusebius. He states the reigns of the gods, beginning with Hephaistus, — whose sway was nine thousand years, - to have been eleven thousand nine hundred and eighty-five years, and those of the demigods, heroes, and manes, to have been eight hundred and fifty-three years.f Then follow
* The great differences that appear in the statements of the different writers who, in the matter of Egyptian history and chronology, have professed to take Manetho as authority, are an anomaly in literature.
† There is some doubt how far the details of this account are to be ascribed to Africanus, and how far to later historians and
the thirty-one dynasties, more nearly agreeing with the account of Eusebius. What is worthy of note in this connection is, that these two writers agree in putting the reigns of the gods, demigods, and manes before the socalled thirty-one dynasties, while other accounts, as that of the “Old Chronicle” and Castor, include them within the latter.
This was a heathen writer, who is believed to have flourished in the second century before Christ.* He also expressly mentions Manetho as his authority. According to him, the duration of the reigns of the gods was fifteen hundred and fifty years; then, of the demigods, heroes, and manes, twenty-one thousand years. Thus Egyptian prehistoric times, as measured by this writer, amount to but thirty-six hundred and fifty years, although the numbers he gives in the summing up do not agree with the details. The fragment of his work which has come down to us is, however, so corrupted that his statements are often self-contradictory. Like the preceding authors, he makes Hephaistus, or Vulcan, the first of the gods, and Menes the first of the mortal kings. He enumerates only seventeen dynasties."
chronologers, as Panodorus, Anianus, and Syncellus. The statements of Syncellus are not always definite, so that we can not determine whether he is giving his own language or that of another. There is scarcely room for doubt, however, that the numbers above given are, for the most part, correctly ascribed to Africanus.
* The chronological work of a Castor, supposed to be this authory is referred to by Apollodorus, who died about B. C. 140. - Smith's Dict. Gr. and Rom. Biog., art. Castor.
What, now, is the practical value of this testimony in determining the problem before us? How far does it go to prove the existence of man on earth, at a period antecedent to the date assigned to his creation in the Scriptures? · That these accounts are not to be taken literally is evident upon the face of them. It would be an. insult to the understanding of my readers to assure them that gods, i. e., superhuman beings, demigods (persons half divine and half human), and manes (which are the spirits or ghosts of the dead), did, in fact, reign over men on the earth at any time, or during any period. Yet, strange as it may seem, there have been writers of eminence who have actually made these accounts the basis of their chronology, and taken them into their systems as having some substantial value. How true is the remark, that no persons manifest so much credulity in the acceptance of extravagant and impossible theories, as those who profess themselves incredulous of the statements of the Bible !
The worthlessness of these stories, as an element of chronology, is also shown by the discrepancies