« PreviousContinue »
image is placed. The width and length of the precinct is each way a stade. Along the entrance is a road paved with stone, about three stades in length, leading through the square eastward ; and in width it is about four plethra : on each side of the road grow trees of enormous height: it leads to the temple of Mercury. Such then is the situation of this precinct. 139. They related that the final departure of the Ethiopian occurred in the following manner : that he, having seen a vision of the following kind in his sleep, fled away: it appeared to him that a man, standing by him, advised him to assemble all the priests in Egypt, and to cut them in two down the middle ; but he, having seen this vision, said, that he thought the gods held out this as a pretext to him, in order that he, having been guilty of impiety in reference to sacred things, might draw down some evil on himself from gods or from men ; he would not therefore do so ; but as the time was expired during which it was foretold that he should reign over Egypt, he would depart from the country; for while he was yet in Ethiopia, the oracles which the Ethiopians have recourse to answered, that he was fated to reign over Egypt fifty years. Since, then, this period had elapsed, and the vision of the dream troubled him, Sabacon of his own accord withdrew from Egypt. 140. When therefore the Ethiopian departed from Egypt, the blind king resumed the government, having returned from the fens, where he had lived fifty years, having formed an island of ashes and earth. For when any of the Egyptians came to him bringing provisions, as they were severally ordered unknown to the Ethiopian, he bade them bring some ashes also as a present. No one before Amyrtæus was able to discover this island ; but for more than seven hundred years, the kings who preceded Amyrtæus were unable to find it out: the name of this island was Elbo ; its size is about ten stades in each direction.
141. After him reigned the priest of Vulcan, whose name was Sethon : he held in no account and despised the military caste of the Egyptians, as not having need of their services ; and accordingly, among other indignities, he took away their lands; to each of whom, under former kings, twelve chosen acres i had been assigned. After this, Senacherib, king of the
? The arura, here rendered “acre," was an Egyptian measure, containing a square of 100 Egyptian cubits.
Arabians and Assyrians, marched a large army against Egypt; whereupon the Egyptian warriors refused to assist him ; and the priest, being reduced to a strait, entered the temple, and bewailed before the image the calamities he was in danger of suffering. While he was lamenting, sleep fell upon him, and it appeared to him in a vision, that the god stood by and encouraged him, assuring him that he should suffer nothing disagreeable in meeting the Arabian army, for he would himself send assistants to him. Confiding in this vision, he took with him such of the Egyptians as were willing to follow him, and encamped in Pelusium, for here the entrance into Egypt is ; but none of the military caste followed him, but tradesmen, mechanics, and sutlers. When they arrived there, a number of field mice, pouring in upon their enemies, devoured their quivers and their bows, and moreover, the handles of their shields ; so that on the next day, when they fled bereft of their arms, many of them fell. And to this day, a stone statue of this king stands in the temple of Vulcan, with a mouse in his hand, and an inscription to the following effect: “Whoever looks on me, let him revere the gods."
142. Thus much of the account the Egyptians and the priests related, showing that from the first king to this priest of Vulcan who last reigned, were three hundred forty and one generations of men; and during these generations, there were the same number of chief priests and kings. Now, three hundred generations are equal to ten thousand years, for three generations of men are one hundred years : and the forty-one remaining generations that were over the three hundred, make one thousand three hundred and forty years. Thus, they said, in eleven thousand three hundred and forty years, no god had assumed the form of a man; neither, they said, had any such thing happened before, or afterwards, in the time of the remaining kings of Egypt. During this time, they related, that the sun had four times risen out of his usual quarter, and that he had twice risen where he now sets, and twice set where he now rises; yet, that no change in the things in Egypt was occasioned by this, either with regard to the productions of the earth or the river, or with regard to diseases, or with respect to deaths. 143. In former time, the priests of Jupiter did to Hecatæus the historian, when he was tracing his own genealogy, and connecting his family
with a god in the sixteenth degree, the same as they did to me, though I did not trace my genealogy. Conducting me into the interior of an edifice that was spacious, and showing me wooden colossuses to the number I have mentioned, they reckoned them up; for every high priest places an image of himself there during his lifetime; the priests, therefore, reckoning them and showing them to me, pointed out that each was the son of his own father; going through them all, from the image of him that died last, until they had pointed them all out. But when Hecatæus traced his own genealogy, and connected himself with a god in the sixteenth degree, they controverted his genealogy by computation, not admitting that a man could be born from a god; and they thus controverted his genealogy, saying that each of the colossuses was a Piromis, sprung from a Piromis ; until they pointed out the three hundred and forty-five colossuses, each a Piromis sprung from a Piromis, and they did not connect them with any god or hero. Piromis means, in the Grecian language, “a noble and good man.” 144. They pointed out to me therefore, that all those of whom there were images, were of that character, but were very far from being gods ; that, indeed, before the time of these men, gods had been the rulers of Egypt, and had dwelt amongst men ; and that one of them always had the supreme power, and that Orus, the son of Osiris, whom the Greeks call Apollo, was the last who reigned over it; he, having deposed Typhon, was the last who reigned over Egypt. Now, Osiris in the Grecian language means Bacchus.
145. Among the Greeks, the most recent of the gods are thought to be Hercules, Bacchus, and Pan ; but by the Egyptians Pan is esteemed the most ancient, and one of the eight gods called original; but Hercules is among the second, among those called the twelve ; and Bacchus is of the third, who were sprung from the twelve gods. I have already declared how many years the Egyptians say there were from Hercules to the reign of Amasis ; but from Pan a still greater number of years are said to have intervened, and from Bacchus fewest of all; and from him there are computed to have been fifteen thousand years to the reign of Amasis. The Egyptians say they know these things with accuracy, because they always compute and register the years. Now from Bac
3 See chap. 43.
chus, who is said to have been born of Semele the daughter of Cadmus, to my time, is about sixteen hundred years, and from Hercules the son of Alcmena, about nine hundred years ; but from Pan, born of Penelope, (for Pan is said by the Greeks to have sprung from her and Mercury,) is a less number of years than from the siege of Troy, about eight hundred, to my time. 146. Of these two accounts, each person may adopt that which he thinks most credible ; I have therefore declared my own opinion respecting them. For if these deities had been well known, and had grown old in Greece, as Hercules, who was sprung from Amphitryon, and especially Bacchus the son of Semele, and Pan who was borne by Penelope, some one might say, that these later ones, though mere men, bore the names of the gods who were long before them. Now, the Greeks say of Bacchus, that Jupiter sewed him into his thigh as soon as he was born, and carried him to Nyssa, which is above Egypt in Ethiopia ; and concerning Pan, they are unable to say whither he was taken at his birth. It is evident to me, therefore, that the Grecians learnt their names later than those of the other gods ; and from the time when they learnt them they trace their origin, therefore they ascribe their generation to that time, and not higher. These things then the Egyptians themselves relate.
147. What things both other men and the Egyptians agree in saying occurred in this country, I shall now proceed to relate, and shall add to them some things of my own observation. The Egyptians having become free, after the reign of the priest of Vulcan, for they were at no time able to live without a king, established twelve kings, having divided all Egypt into twelve parts. These having contracted intermarriages, reigned, adopting the following regulations : that they would not attempt the subversion of one another, nor one seek to acquire more than another, and that they should maintain the strictest friendship. They made these regulations and strictly upheld them, for the following reason : it had been foretold them by an oracle when they first assumed the government, “ that whoever among them should offer a libation in the temple of Vulcan from a brazen bowl, should be king of all Egypt;" for they used to assemble in all the temples. 148. Now, they determined to leave in common a memorial of themselves; and having so determined, they built a labyrinth, a little above the lake of Mæris, situated
near that called the city of Crocodiles ; this I have myself seen, and found it greater than can be described. For if any one should reckon up the buildings and public works of the Grecians, they would be found to have cost less labour and expense than this labyrinth; though the temple in Ephesus is deserving of mention, and also that in Samos. The pyramids likewise were beyond description, and each of them comparable to many of the great Grecian structures. Yet the labyrinth surpasses even the pyramids. For it has twelve courts enclosed with walls, with doors opposite each other, six facing the north, and six the south, contiguous to one another; and the same exterior wall encloses them. It contains two kinds of rooms, some under ground and some above ground over them, to the number of three thousand, fifteen hundred of each. The rooms above ground I myself went through and saw, and relate from personal inspection. But the underground rooms I only know from report ; for the Egyptians who have charge of the building would, on no account, show me them, saying, that there were the sepulchres of the kings who originally built this labyrinth, and of the sacred crocodiles. I can therefore only relate what I have learnt by hearsay concerning the lower rooms; but the upper ones, which surpass all human works, I myself saw ; for the passages through the corridors, and the windings through the courts, from their great variety, presented a thousand
occasions of wonder, as I passed from a court to the rooms, and from the rooms to halls, and to other corridors from the halls, and to other courts from
The roofs of all these are of stone, as also are the walls ; but the walls are full of sculptured figures. Each court is surrounded with a colonnade of white stone, closely fitted. And adjoining the extremity of the labyrinth is a pyramid, forty orgyæ in height, on which large figures are carved, and a way to it has been made under ground.
149. Although this labyrinth is such as I have described, yet the lake named from Mæris, near which this labyrinth is built, occasions greater wonder : its circumference measures three thousand six hundred stades, or sixty schænes, equal to the sea-coast of Egypt. The lake stretches lengthways, north and south, being in depth in the deepest part fifty orgyæ. That it is made by hand and dry, this circumstance proves, for about the middle of the lake stand two pyramids,