Page images

portunity, they throw it into the river. They devote the head, by wishing that whatever evil menaces those who sacrifice, or Ægypt in general, it may fall upon that head 75. This ceremony respecting the head of the animal, and this mode of pouring a libation of wine upon the altar, is indiscriminately observed by all the Ægyptians : in consequence of the above, no Ægyptian will on any account eat of the head of a beast. As to the examination of the victims, and their ceremony of burning them, they have different methods, as their different occasions of sacrifice require.

XL. Of that goddess whom they esteem the first of all their deities, and in whose honour their greatest festival is celebrated, I shall now make more particular mention. After the previous ceremony of prayers, they sacrifice an ox; they then strip off the skin, and take out the intestines, leaving the fat and the paunch; they afterwards cut off the legs, the shoulders, the neck, and the extremities of the loin; the rest of the body is


75 Fall upon that head.)-See Levit. ch. xvi. ver. 21.“ And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, putting them upon the head of the goat.”

In imitation of the Ægyptians throwing the head of the ox into the river with imprecations, Mr. Bruce makes the Agens of Geesh perform some unknown ceremonies in a corner with the head of their black heifer.

stuffed with fine bread, honey, raisins, figs, frankincense, and various aromatics; after this process they burn it, pouring upon the flame a large quantity of oil: whilst the victim is burning, the spectators flagellate themselves 76, having fasted before the ceremony; the whole is completed by their feasting on the residue of the sacrifice.

XLI. All the Ægyptians sacrifice bulls without blemish, and calves; the females are sacred to Isis, and may not be used for this purpose. This divinity is represented under the form of a woman, and as the Greeks paint Io, with horns upon her head; for this reason the Ægyptians venerate cows* far beyond all other cattle, nei


76 Flagellate themselves.]--Athenagoras, in his Legat, pro Chris. ridicules this custom of the Ægyptians; Larcher quotes the passage, and adds, that it is somewhat singular that such a ceremony should seem ridiculous to a christian. Flagellation, however inflicted, or voluntary submitted to az a penance, was subsequent to the time of Athenagoras.

It is a maxim, says Mr. Gibbon, of the civil law, that he who cannot pay with his purse must pay with his body. The practice of flagellation was adopted by the monks, as a cheap though painful equivalent. .

This is another sneer of Gibbon's; flagellation was in use not as an equivalent, but as a symptom of self-devotion, ages before monks or Athenagoras were heard of. The sect of the Flagellants is another thing.

The thirteenth century, according to Mosheim, gave birth to the sect of the Flagellants.T.

* The resemblance between many of the Hindoo customs and those of the ancient Ægyptians, is remarkably striking, The Hindoos venerate cows; put none on any account to death, &c. &c,


ther will any man or woman among them kiss a Grecian, nor use a knife, or spit, or any domestic utensil belonging to a Greek??, nor will they eat even the flesh of such beasts as by their law are pure, if it has been cut with a Grecian knife. If any of these cattle die, they thus dispose of their carcases, the females are thrown into the river, the males they bury in the vicinity of the city, and by way of nark, one and sometimes both of the horns are left projecting from the ground : they remain thus a stated time, and till they begin to putrefy, when a vessel appointed for this particular purpose is dispatched from Prosopitis, an island of the Delta, nine schæni in extent, and containing several cities. Atarbechisz, one of


77 Belonging to a Greek.]—That the Ægyptians would not eat with strangers, appears from the following passage in Genesis, chap. xliii. ver. 32. “ And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Ægyptians which did eat with him by themselves, because the Ægyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Ægyptians.” .

78 Atarbechis.]-Atarbec in Ægypt is the temple of Atar or Athar, called Atarbechis by Herodotus: the same is Athyr-bet, and styled Athribites by Strabo.-Bryant.

Atar signifies Venus, and Bec a city, as Balbec the city of the sun, called by the Greeks Heliopolis.

Whoever wishes to be minutely informed concerning the various names and attributes of Venus, the different places where she was worshipped, and indeed every thing which antiquity has handed down concerning this goddess, will do well to consult the Memoire sur Venus, by Larcher, to which the prize of the French Academy was assigned in 1775.-T,

these cities, in which is a temple of Venus, provides the vessels for this purpose, which are sent to the different parts of Ægypt: these collect and transport the bones of the animals, which are all buried in one appointed place. This law and custom extends to whatever cattle may happen to die, as the Ægyptians themselves put none to death.

XLII. Those who worship in the temple of the Theban Jupiter, or belong to the district of Thebes, abstain from sheep, and sacrifice goats. The same deities receive in Ægypt different forms of worship; the ceremonies of Isis and of Osiris, who they say is no other than the Grecian Bacchus?, are alone unvaried; in the temple of Mendes, and in the whole Mendesian district, goats are preserved, and sheep sacrificed. Why the Thebans, and all who are under their influence, abstain from sheep, is thus explained i Jupiter, they say, was long averse to the earnest, solicitations of Hercules to see his person ; but in consequence of his repeated importunity, the god, in compliance, used the following artifice; he cut off the head of a ram, and covering himself with its skin, shewed himself in that form to Her


79 The Grecian Bacchus.]—The Ægyptians maintain, that their god Osiris is no other than the Dionusus of Greece. In like manner the Indi assure us, that it is the same deity who is conversant in their country.--Diodorus Sic. l. iv, 210.


[ocr errors]

cules : from this incident, the Ægyptian statues of Jupiter, represent that divinity with the head of a ram. This custom was borrowed of the Ægyptians by the Ammonians, who are composed partly of Ægyptians, and partly of Æthiopians, and whose dialect is formed promiscuously of both those languages. The Ægyptians call Jupiter, Ammouno, and I should think this was the reason why the above people named themselves Ammonians. From this however it is, that the Thebans esteem the ram as sacred, and, except on the annual festival of Jupiter, never put one to death. Upon this solemnity they kill a ram, and placing its skin on the image of the god, they introduce before it a figure of Hercules; the assembly afterwards beat the ram, and conclude


80 Call Jupiter, Ammoun.]—-Plutarch says, that of all the Ægyptian names which seemed to have any correspondence with the Zeus of Greece, Amoun or Amnion was the most peculiar and adequate : he speaks of many people who were of this opinion.—Bryant. • The following line occurs in the Scholiast to Pindar, Pyth.

Ode 4th, v. 28.

Ζευς Λιβυης Αμμων κερατηφορε κεκλυτε μαντι.

Jupiter was almost as much in fashion amongst the old worshippers of images, as the Virgin amongst the modern: he had temples and different characters almost every where. At Carthage he was called Ammon; in Ægypt, Seraphis; at Athens, the great Jupiter was the Olympian Jupiter; and at Rome, the greatest Jupiter was the Capitolipe.-Spence, Polymetis.---T.

« PreviousContinue »