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would be creditable to the professional skill of our own times.
By two o'clock we were ordered down the bank and into the boat in which we were to row to Philæ. It was a smaller craft than the other, but it also had its awning and a useless sail. The men as before had to row, but fortunately they were new men, save only the chantey-leader who had so enlivened the toilsome passage below the dam, and who now bore his part at the oar as enthusiastically as if he had not already pulled six weary miles. His voice knew no failing, and his “Dolly walked in the garden" quite as blithely as before. Taiyah, being a “son of the Sun," remained jaunty and unwilted.
It was long before we could see the particular island which the temples occupy because of certain intervening hillocks emerging from the water. These were of considerable size and in some cases were inhabited. But after a laborious passage among these loftier eminences we saw the island shrine not appearing as an island at all, but as a huge stone temple rising directly from the midst of the waters. It lay a mile or so away across the placid bosom of the river, a tawny structure flanked by colonnades, the columns of which were submerged to about half their height. The ancient pylon reared its mighty bulk nobly from the waste of waters, and behind it in a compact mass of masonry lay the shrine. Of the contour of the island beneath we got no hint, and the old girdle walls were wholly invisible, although the waters were as yet not nearly at their usual level even for the season, and it was still possible, as we shortly discovered, to explore the main portion of the temple dry-shod.
The boat rowed us up to the western portal — a species of side entrance - and we disembarked by means of a friendly plank. Fortunately the main part of the building lay well above the level of the forecourt, which was flooded, and its floor was still dry, although the air of the entire place was damp and cellary.
Despite the impossibility of exploring the courts below, it was still easy to note a departure from the canonical plan in the manner of their erection; for their sides, instead of being inclosed by mere walls with colonnades, were lined by subordinate buildings. That to the west, which seemed the better preserved, was denominated a “birth-house" on a large and magnificent scale. The structure to the east is credited with being an apartment reserved for the uses of the priesthood. The front of the court was filled with an enormous pylon, with the customary truncated towers. The rear was occupied by the main buildings of the temple in which we stood.
Facing the flooded court and directly inside the lofty main portal there was a small open pronaos, or vestibule, which in turn gave access to a hypostyle hall surrounded by the customary chambers and sanctuaries. Nothing in the character of the decorations sufficed to raise them above the rank of those at Edfâ and Dendera, and the carvings on the facing of the pylons without were much the same as those we had seen in the other temples — revealing the king in the act of grasping his enemy by the hair and preparing to dispatch him with a club, much to the approval of such gods and goddesses as stood by.
The temple of Philæ was sacred to Isis, and it is entirely probable that the site had been dedicated to her long before the Ptolemies built the existing shrine; for like all such temples this one dates from their period in Egyptian history and is set down as belonging to the fourth century B.C. — most of it, indeed, from a still later date. Isis, however, did not queen it here alone, for Hathor had her share in the “birth-house" of the court and had a separate temple of her own on the eastern shore of the island.
Despite the dampness of the spot, the coloring of the interior decorations is still easily discernible in the gloom and in its original state must have been brilliant. But by far the finest part of the visit was found in the ascent of the inner pylon, an easy climb, despite some alarming gaps in the ancient flights of steps. From the summit the view was delightful as it stretched away to every side over placid river, shimmering sands, and rosy cliffs. At our feet lay the temple with its watery courts, and just to the east of the building there rose from its bath the exquisite kiosk which they insist on calling “Pharaoh's Bed” — the most delectable thing at Philæ, and the one I had secretly longed most to see.
The pictures give a very fair idea of the elegance and distinction of the kiosk. We were rowed over to it just before it was time to start for home, though all about it lay waters so deep that we could not land. It is one of the few Roman ruins that seem to have a genuine inspiration comparable to that of Hellenic temples, for this is a Roman product of the time of the Empire and from its inscriptions and reliefs is held to be of Trajan's building. Even its present watery setting seems to add to rather than detract from its general charm. I judge that it was submerged only to the height of a man, because all along the edge of the water could be seen the curious grooves in the stone which are so common in the softer structures and which the Professor thinks were caused by the soldiers of old in sharpening their knives.
How Philæ looked before the dam spoiled it may