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THEIR NUMBER AND NATURE—THE FEUDAL GODS, LIVING AND DEAD—TRIADS—— THE TEMPLES AND PRIESTHOOD—THE COSMOGONIES OF THE DELTA——THE ENNEADS OF HELIOPOLIS AND HERMOPOLIS.
Multiplicity of the Egyptian gods: the commonalty of the gods, its varieties, human, animal, and intermediate between man and beast; gods of foreign origin, indigenous gods, and the contradictory forms with which they were invested in accordance with various conceptions of their nature.
The Star-gods—The Sun-god as the Eye of the Shy; as a bird, as a calf, and as a man; its barks, voyages round the world, and encounters with the serpent Apopi—The Moon-god and its enemies—The Star-gods: the Haunch of the Ox, the Hippopotamus, the Lion, the five Horus-planets; Sothis Sirius, and Sahû Orion.
The feudal gods and their classes: the Nile-gods, the earth-gods, the sky-gods and the sun-god, the Horus-gods—The equality of feudal gods and goddesses; their persons, alliances, and marriages: their children—The triads and their various developments.
The nature of the gods: the double, the soul, the body, death of men and gods, and their fate after death—The necessity for preserving the body, mummification—Dead gods the gods of the dead—The living gods, their temples and images—The gods of the people, trees, serpents, family fetiches—The theory of prayer and sacrifice: the servants of the temples, the property of the gods, the sacerdotal colleges.
The cosmogonies of the Delta: Sibu and Naît, Osiris and Isis, SU and Nephthys—Heliopolis and its theological schools: Ra, his identification with Horus, his dual nature, and the conception of Atûmû—The Heliopolitan Enneads: formation of the Great Ennead—Thot and the Hermopolitan Ennead: creation by articulate words and by voice alone—Diffusion of the Enneads: their connection with the local triads, the god One and the god Eight—The one and only gods.
The incredible number of religious scenes to be found among the representations on the ancient monuments of Egypt is at first glance very striking. Nearly every illustration in the works of Egyptologists brings before us the figure of some deity receiving with an impassive countenance the prayers and offerings of a worshipper. One would think that the country had been inhabited for the most part by gods, and contained just sufficient men and animals to satisfy the requirements of their worship.
1 The goddess Naprît, Napît; bas-relief from the first chamber of Osiris, on the east side of the great temple of Denderah. Drawn by Faucher-Gudin.
On penetrating into this mysterious world, we are confronted by an actual rabble of gods, each one of whom has always possessed but a limited and almost unconscious existence. They severally represented a function, a moment in the life of man or of the universe; thus Naprît was identified with the ripe ear, or the grain of wheat;[**]
** The word naprît means grain, the grain of wheat. The grain-god is represented in the tomb of Seti I. as a man wearing two full ears of wheat or barley upon his head. He is mentioned in the Hymn to the Nile about the same date, and in two or three other texts of different periods. The goddess Naprît, or Napît, to whom reference is here made, was his duplicate; her head-dress is a sheaf of corn, as in the illustration. *** This goddess, whose name expresses and whose form personifies the brick or stone couch, the child-bed or -chair, upon which women in labour bowed themselves, is sometimes subdivided into two or four secondary divinities. She is mentioned along with Shaît, destiny, and Raninît, suckling. Her part of fairy godmother at the cradle of the new-born child is indicated in the passage of the Westcar Papyrus giving a detailed account of the births of three kings of the fifth dynasty. She is represented in human form, and often wears upon her head two long palm-shoots, curling over at their ends.
Maskhonît appeared by the child's cradle at the very moment of its birth;[*] and Raninît presided over the naming and the nurture of the newly born.[*] Neither Raninît, the fairy godmother, nor Maskhonît exercised over nature as a whole that sovereign authority which we are accustomed to consider the primary attribute of deity. Every day of every year was passed by the one in easing the pangs of women in travail; by the other, in choosing for each baby a name of an auspicious sound, and one which would afterwards serve to exorcise the influences of evil fortune. No sooner were their tasks accomplished in one place than they hastened to another, where approaching birth demanded their presence and their care. From child-bed to child-bed they passed, and if they fulfilled the single offices in which they were accounted adepts, the pious asked nothing more of them. Bands of mysterious cynocephali haunting the Eastern and the Western mountains concentrated the whole of their activity on one passing moment of the day. They danced and chattered in the East for half an hour, to salute the sun at his rising, even as others in the West hailed him on his entrance into night.[**]
* Raninît presides over the child's suckling, but she also gives him his name, and hence, his fortune. She is on the whole the nursing goddess. Sometimes she is represented as a human-headed woman, or as lioness-headed, most frequently with the head of a serpent; she is also the urseus, clothed, and wearing two long plumes on her head, and a simple urous, as represented in the illustration on p. 169. ** This is the subject of a vignette in the Book of the Dead, ch. xvi., where the cynocephali are placed in echelon upon the slopes of the hill on the horizon, right and left of the radiant solar disk, to which they offer worship by gesticulations.
It was the duty of certain genii to open gates in Hades, or to keep the paths daily traversed by the sun.[*] These genii were always at their posts, never free to leave them, and possessed no other faculty than that of punctually fulfilling their appointed offices. Their existence, generally unperceived, was suddenly revealed at the very moment when the specific acts of their lives were on the point of accomplishment. These being completed, the divinities fell back into their state of inertia, and were, so to speak, reabsorbed by their functions until the next occasion.[***]
* Maspero, Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. pp. 34, 35. *** The Egyptians employed a still more forcible expression than our word "absorption" to express this idea. It was said of objects wherein these genii concealed themselves, and whence they issued in order to re-enter them immediately, that these forms ate them, or that they ate their own forms.
2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from Champollion's copies, made from the tombs of Beni-Hassan. To the right is the sha, one of the animals of Sit, and an exact image of the god with his stiff and arrow-like tail. Next comes the safir, the griffin; and, lastly, we have the serpent-headed saza.
Scarcely visible even by glimpses, they were not easily depicted; their real forms being often unknown, these were approximately conjectured from their occupations. The character and costume of an archer, or of a spear-man, were ascribed to such as roamed through Hades, to pierce the dead with arrows or with javelins. Those who prowled around souls to cut their throats and hack them to pieces were represented as women armed with knives, carvers—donît—or else as lacerators—nokit. Some appeared in human form; others as animals—bulls or lions, rams or monkeys, serpents, fish, ibises, hawks; others dwelt in inanimate things, such as trees,[*] sistrums, stakes stuck in the ground;[**] and lastly, many betrayed a mixed origin in their combinations of human and animal forms. These latter would be regarded by us as monsters; to the Egyptians, they were beings, rarer perhaps than the rest, but not the less real, and their like might be encountered in the neighbourhood of Egypt.[***]
* Thus, the sycamores planted on the edge of the desert were supposed to be inhabited by Hâthor, Nûît, Selkît, Nît, or some other goddess. In vignettes representing the deceased as stopping before one of these trees and receiving water and loaves of bread, the bust of the goddess generally appears from amid her sheltering foliage. But occasionally, as on the sarcophagus of Petosiris, the transformation is complete, and the trunk from which the branches spread is the actual body of the god or goddess. Finally, the whole body is often hidden, and only the arm of the goddess to be seen emerging from the midst of the tree, with an overflowing libation vase in her hand. ** The trunk of a tree, disbranched, and then set up in the ground, seems to me the origin of the Osirian emblem called tat or didu. The symbol was afterwards so conventionalized as to represent four columns seen in perspective, one capital overtopping another; it thus became the image of the four pillars which uphold the world. *** The belief in the real existence of fantastic animals was first noted by Maspero, Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. i. pp. 117, 118, 132, and vol. ii. p. 213. Until then, scholars only recognized the sphinx, and other Egyptian monsters, as allegorical combinations by which the priesthood claimed to give visible expression in one and the same being to physical or moral qualities belonging to several different beings. The later theory has now been adopted by Wiedemann, and by most contemporary Egyptologists.
How could men who believed themselves surrounded by sphinxes and griffins of flesh and blood doubt that there were bull-headed and hawk-headed divinities with human busts? The existence of such paradoxical creatures was proved by much authentic testimony; more than one hunter had distinctly seen them as they ran along the furthest planes of the horizon, beyond the herds of gazelles of which he was in chase; and shepherds dreaded them for their flocks as truly as they dreaded the lions, or the great felidse of the desert.[*]
* At Beni-Hassan and in Thebes many of the fantastic animals mentioned in the text, griffins, hierosphinxes, serpent- headed lions, are placed along with animals which might be encountered by local princes hunting in the desert.
This nation of gods, like nations of men, contained foreign elements, the origin of which was known to the Egyptians themselves. They knew that Hâthor, the milch cow, had taken up her abode in their land from very ancient times, and they called her the Lady of Pûanît, after the name of her native country. Bîsû had followed her in course of time, and claimed his share of honours and worship along with her. He first appeared as a leopard; then he became a man clothed in a leopard's skin, but of strange countenance and alarming character, a big-headed dwarf with high cheek-bones, and a wide and open mouth, whence hung an enormous tongue; he was at once jovial and martial, the friend of the dance and of battle.[*]
* The hawk-headed monster with flower-tipped tail was called the saga.
In historic times all nations subjugated by the Pharaohs transferred some of their principal divinities to their conquerors, and the Libyan Shehadidi was enthroned in the valley of the Nile, in the same way as the Semitic Baâlû and his retinue of Astartes, Anitis, Eeshephs, and Kadshûs. These divine colonists fared like all foreigners who have sought to settle on the banks of the Nile: they were promptly assimilated, wrought, moulded, and made into Egyptian deities scarcely distinguishable from those of the old race. This mixed pantheon had its grades of nobles, princes, kings, and each of its members was representative of one of the elements constituting the world, or of one of the forces which regulated its government.
1 Bîsû, pp. 111-184. The tail-piece to the summary of this chapter is a figure of Bîsû, drawn by Faucher-Gudin from an amulet in blue enamelled pottery.
The sky, the earth, the stars, the sun, the Nile, were so many breathing and thinking beings whose lives were daily manifest in the life of the universe.
They were worshipped from one end of the valley to the other, and the whole nation agreed in proclaiming their sovereign power. But when the people began to name them, to define their powers and attributes, to particularize their forms, or the relationships that subsisted among them, this unanimity was at an end. Each principality, each nome, each city, almost every village, conceived and represented them differently. Some said that the sky was the Great Horus, Haroêris, the sparrow-hawk of mottled plumage which hovers in highest air, and whose gaze embraces the whole field of creation. Owing to a punning assonance between his name and the word horû, which designates the human countenance, the two senses were combined, and to the idea of the sparrow-hawk there was added that of a divine face, whose two eyes opened in turn, the right eye being the sun, to give light by day, and the left eye the moon, to illumine the night. The face shone also with a light of its own, the zodiacal light, which appeared unexpectedly, morning or evening, a little before sunrise, and a little after sunset. These luminous beams, radiating from a common centre, hidden in the heights of the firmament, spread into a wide pyramidal sheet of liquid blue, whose base rested upon the earth, but whose apex was slightly inclined towards the zenith. The divine face was symmetrically framed, and attached to earth by four thick locks of hair; these were the pillars which upbore the firmament and prevented its falling into ruin. A no less ancient tradition disregarded as fabulous all tales told of the sparrow-hawk, or of the face, and taught that heaven and earth are wedded gods, Sibû, and Nûît, from whose marriage came forth all that has been, all that is, and all that shall be.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painted coffin of the XXIth dynasty in Leyden.
Most people invested them with human form, and represented the earth-god Sibû as extended beneath Nûît the Starry One; the goddess stretched out her arms, stretched out her slender legs, stretched out her body above the clouds, and her dishevelled head drooped westward. But there were also many who believed that Sibû was concealed under the form of a colossal gander, whose mate once laid the Sun Egg, and perhaps still laid it daily. From the piercing cries wherewith he congratulated her, and announced the good news to all who cared to hear it—after the manner of his kind—he had received the flattering epithet of Ngagu oîrû, the Great Cack-ler. Other versions repudiated the goose in favour of a vigorous bull, the father of gods and men, whose companion was a cow, a large-eyed Hâthor, of beautiful countenance. The head of the good beast rises into the heavens, the mysterious waters which cover the world flow along her spine; the star-covered underside of her body, which we call the firmament, is visible to the inhabitants of earth, and her four legs are the four pillars standing at the four cardinal points of the world.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a stella in the museum of Gîzeh. This is not the goose of Sibû, but the goose of Amon, which was nurtured in the temple of Karnak, and was called Smonû. Pacing it is the cat of Maût, the wife of Amon. Amon, originally an earth-god, was, as we see, confounded with Sibû, and thus naturally appropriated that deity's form of a goose.
The planets, and especially the sun, varied in form and nature according to the prevailing conception of the heavens. The fiery disk Atonû, by which the sun revealed himself to men, was a living god, called Râ, as was also the planet itself.[*] Where the sky was regarded as Horus, Râ formed the right eye of the divine face: when Horus opened his eyelids in the morning, he made the dawn and day; when he closed them in the evening, the dusk and night were at hand.
* The name of Râ has been variously explained. The commonest etymology is that deriving the name from a verb râ, to give, to make to be a person or a thing, so that Râ would thus be the great organizer, the author of all things. Lauth goes so far as to say that "notwithstanding its brevity, Râ is a composite word (r-a, maker—to be)" As a matter of fact, the word is simply the name of the planet applied to the god. It means the sun, and nothing more.
3 Drawn by Boudier, from a XXXth dynasty statue of green basalt in the Gîzeh Museum (Maspero, Guide du Visiteur, p. 345, No. 5243). The statue was also published by Mariette, Monuments divers, pl. 96 A-B, and in the Album photographique du Musée de Boulaq, pl. x.
Where the sky was looked upon as the incarnation of a goddess, Râ was considered as her son,[**] his father being the earth-god, and he was born again with every new dawn, wearing a sidelock, and with his finger to his lips as human children were conventionally represented.
** Several passages from the Pyramid texts prove that the two eyes were very anciently considered as belonging to the face of Nûît, and this conception persisted to the last days of Egyptian paganism. Hence, we must not be surprised if the inscriptions generally represent the god Râ as coming forth from Nûît under the form of a disc, or a scarabaeus, and born of her even as human children are born.
He was also that luminous egg, laid and hatched in the East by the celestial goose, from which the sun breaks forth to fill the world with its rays.[**]
** These are the very expressions used in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of the Dead (Naville's edition, vol. i. pl. xxv. lines 58-61; Lepsius, Todtenbuch, pl. ix. 11. 50, 51).
1 The twelve forms of the sun during the twelve hours of the day, from the ceiling of the Hall of the New Year at Edfu. Drawing by Faucher-Gudin.
Nevertheless, by an anomaly not uncommon in religions, the egg did not always contain the same kind of bird; a lapwing, or a heron, might come out of it,[*] or perhaps, in memory of Horus, one of the beautiful golden sparrow-hawks of Southern Egypt. A Sun-Hawk, hovering in high heaven on outspread wings, at least presented a bold and poetic image; but what can be said for a Sun-Calf? Yet it is under the innocent aspect of a spotted calf, a "sucking calf of pure mouth,"[**] that the Egyptians were pleased to describe the Sun-God when Sibu, the father, was a bull, and Hâthor a heifer.
* The lapwing or the heron, the Egyptian bonû, is generally the Osirian bird. The persistence with which it is associated with Heliopolis and the gods of that city shows that in this also we have a secondary form of Râ. ** The calf is represented in ch. cix. of the Book of the Dead (Naville's edition, pl. cxx.), where the text says (lines 10, 11), "I know that this calf is Harmakhis the Sun, and that it is no other than the Morning Star, daily saluting Râ." The expression "sucking calf of pure mouth" is taken word for word from a formula preserved in the Pyramid texts (Ûnas, 1. 20).
But the prevalent conception was that in which the life of the sun was likened to the life of man. The two deities presiding over the East received the orb upon their hands at its birth, just as midwives receive a new-born child, and cared for it during the first hour of the day and of its life. It soon left them, and proceeded "under the belly of Nûît," growing and strengthening from minute to minute, until at noon it had become a triumphant hero whose splendour is shed abroad over all. But as night comes on his strength forsakes him and his glory is obscured; he is bent and broken down, and heavily drags himself along like an old man leaning upon his stick. At length he passes away beyond the horizon, plunging westward into the mouth of Nûît, and traversing her body by night to be born anew the next morning, again to follow the paths along which he had travelled on the preceding day.
A first bark, the saktit, awaited him at his birth, and carried him from the Eastern to the Southern extremity of the world. Mâzît, the second bark, received him at noon, and bore him into the land of Manu, which is at the entrance into Hades; other barks, with which we are less familiar, conveyed him by night, from his setting until his rising at morn.[*] Sometimes he was supposed to enter the barks alone, and then they were magic and self-directed, having neither oars, nor sails, nor helm.[**]
* In the formulæ of the Book of Knowing that which is in Hades, the dead sun remains in the bark Saktit during part of the night, and it is only to traverse the fourth and fifth hours that he changes into another. ** Such is the bark of the sun in the other world. Although carrying a complete crew of gods, yet for the most part it progresses at its own will, and without their help. The bark containing the sun alone is represented in many vignettes of the Book of the Dead, and at the head of many stelæ.
Sometimes they were equipped with a full crew, like that of an Egyptian boat—a pilot at the prow to take soundings in the channel and forecast the wind, a pilot astern to steer, a quartermaster in the midst to transmit the orders of the pilot at the prow to the pilot at the stern, and half a dozen sailors to handle poles or oars. Peacefully the bark glided along the celestial river amid the acclamations of the gods who dwelt upon its shores. But, occasionally, Apôpi, a gigantic serpent, like that which hides within the earthly Nile and devours its banks, came forth from the depth of the waters and arose in the path of the god.[*] As soon as they caught sight of it in the distance, the crew flew to arms, and entered upon the struggle against him with prayers and spear-thrusts. Men in their cities saw the sun faint and fail, and sought to succour him in his distress; they cried aloud, they were beside themselves with excitement, beating their breasts, sounding their instruments of music, and striking with all their strength upon every metal vase or utensil in their possession, that their clamour might rise to heaven and terrify the monster. After a time of anguish, Râ emerged from the darkness and again went on his way, while Apôpi sank back into the abyss,[**] paralysed by the magic of the gods, and pierced with many a wound.
* In Upper Egypt there is a widespread belief in the existence of a monstrous serpent, who dwells at the bottom of the river, and is the genius of the Nile. It is he who brings about those falls of earth (batabît) at the decline of the inundation which often destroy the banks and eat whole fields. At such times, offerings of durrah, fowls, and dates are made to him, that his hunger may be appeased, and it is not only the natives who give themselves up to these superstitious practices. Part of the grounds belonging to the Karnak hotel at Luxor having been carried away during the autumn of 1884, the manager, a Greek, made the customary offerings to the serpent of the Nile. ** The character of Apôpi and of his struggle with the sun was, from the first, excellently defined by Champollion as representing the conflict of darkness with light. Occasionally, but very rarely, Apôpi seems to win, and his triumph over Râ furnishes one explanation of a solar eclipse. A similar explanation is common to many races. In one very ancient form of the Egyptian legend, the sun is represented by a wild ass running round the world along the sides of the mountains that uphold the sky, and the serpent which attacks it is called Haiû.
Apart from these temporary eclipses, which no one could foretell, the Sun-King steadily followed his course round the world, according to laws which even his will could not change. Day after day he made his oblique ascent from east to south, thence to descend obliquely towards the west. During the summer months the obliquity of his course diminished, and he came closer to Egypt; during the winter it increased, and he went farther away. This double movement recurred with such regularity from equinox to solstice, and from solstice to equinox, that the day of the god's departure and the day of his return could be confidently predicted. The Egyptians explained this phenomenon according to their conceptions of the nature of the world. The solar bark always kept close to that bank of the celestial river which was nearest to men; and when the river overflowed at the annual inundation, the sun was carried along with it outside the regular bed of the stream, and brought yet closer to Egypt. As the inundation abated, the bark descended and receded, its greatest distance from earth corresponding with the lowest level of the waters. It was again brought back to us by the rising strength of the next flood; and, as this phenomenon was yearly repeated, the periodicity of the sun's oblique movements was regarded as the necessary consequence of the periodic movements of the celestial Nile.
The same stream also carried a whole crowd of gods, whose existence was revealed at night only to the inhabitants of earth. At an interval of twelve hours, and in its own bark, the pale disk of the moon—Yâûhû Aûhû—followed the disk of the sun along the ramparts of the world. The moon, also, appeared in many various forms—here, as a man born of Nûît;[*] there, as a cynocephalus or an ibis;[**] elsewhere, it was the left eye of Horus,[***] guarded by the ibis or cynocephalus. Like Râ, it had its enemies incessantly upon the watch for it: the crocodile, the hippopotamus, and the sow. But it was when at the full, about the 15th of each month, that the lunar eye was in greatest peril.
* He may be seen as a child, or man, bearing the lunar disk upon his head, and pressing the lunar eye to his breast. Passages from the Pyramid text of Unas indicate the relationship subsisting between Thot, Sibû, and Nûît, making Thot the brother of Isis, Sit, and Nephthys. In later times he was considered a son of Râ. ** Even as late as the Græco-Roman period, the temple of Thot at Khmûnû contained a sacred ibis, which was the incarnation of the god, and said to be immortal by the local priesthood. The temple sacristans showed it to Apion the grammarian, who reports the fact, but is very sceptical in the matter. *** The texts quoted by Chabas and Lepsius to show that the sun is the right eye of Horus also prove that his left eye is the moon.
4 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the ceiling of the Ramesseum. On the right, the female hippopotamus bearing the crocodile, and leaning on the Monâît; in the middle, the Haunch, here represented by the whole bull; to the left, Selkit and the Sparrow-hawk, with the Lion, and the Giant fighting the Crocodile.
The sow fell upon it, tore it out of the face of heaven, and cast it, streaming with blood and tears, into the celestial Nile, where it was gradually extinguished, and lost for days; but its twin, the sun, or its guardian, the cyno-cephalus, immediately set forth to find it and to restore it to Horus. No sooner was it replaced, than it slowly recovered, and renewed its radiance; when it was well—ûzaît—the sow again attacked and mutilated it, and the gods rescued and again revived it.
Each month there was a fortnight of youth and of growing splendour, followed by a fortnight's agony and ever-increasing pallor. It was born to die, and died to be born again twelve times in the year, and each of these cycles measured a month for the inhabitants of the world. One invariable accident from time to time disturbed the routine of its existence. Profiting by some distraction of the guardians, the sow greedily swallowed it, and then its light went out suddenly, instead of fading gradually. These eclipses, which alarmed mankind at least as much as did those of the sun, were scarcely more than momentary, the gods compelling the monster to cast up the eye before it had been destroyed.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the rectangular zodiac carved upon the ceiling of the great temple of Denderah (Dùmichen, Resultate, vol. ii. pl. xxxix.).
Every evening the lunar bark issued out of Hades by the door which Râ had passed through in the morning, and as it rose on the horizon, the star-lamps scattered over the firmament appeared one by one, giving light here and there like the camp-fires of a distant army. However many of them there might be, there were as many Indestructibles—Akhîmû Sokû—or Unchanging Ones—Akhîmû Ûrdû—whose charge it was to attend upon them and watch over their maintenance.[**]
** The Akhîmû Sokû and the Akhîmû Ûrdû have been very variously defined by different Egyptologists who have studied them. Chabas considered them to be gods or genii of the constellations of the ecliptic, which mark the apparent course of the sun through the sky. Following the indications given by Dévéria, he also thought them to be the sailors of the solar bark, and perhaps the gods of the twelve hours, divided into two classes: the Akhîmû Sokû being those who are rowing, and the Akhîmû Ûrdû those who are resting. But texts found and cited by Brugsch show that the Akhîmû Sokû are the planets accompanying Râ in the northern sky, while the Akhîmû Ûrdû are his escort in the south. The nomenclature of the stars included in these two classes is furnished by monuments of widely different epochs. The two names should be translated according to the meaning of their component words: Akhîmû Sokû, those who know not destruction, the Indestructibles; and Akhîmû Ûrdû ( Urzii), those who know not the immobility of death, the Imperishables.
They were not scattered at random by the hand which had suspended them, but their distribution had been ordered in accordance with a certain plan, and they were arranged in fixed groups like so many star republics, each being independent of its neighbours. They represented the outlines of bodies of men and animals dimly traced out upon the depths of night, but shining with greater brilliancy in certain important places. The seven stars which we liken to a chariot (Charles's Wain) suggested to the Egyptians the haunch of an ox placed on the northern edge of the horizon.[*]
* The forms of the constellations, and the number of stars composing them in the astronomy of different periods, are known from the astronomical scenes of tombs and temples. The identity of the Haunch with the Chariot, or Great Bear of modern astronomy, was discovered by Lepsius and confirmed by Biot. Mariette pointed out that the Pyramid Arabs applied the name of the Haunch (er-Rigl) to the same group of stars as that thus designated by the ancient Egyptians. Champollion had noted the position of the Haunch in the northern sky, but had not suggested any identification. The Haunch appertained to Sît-Typhon.
Two lesser stars connected the haunch—Maskhaît—with thirteen others, which recalled the silhouette of a female hippopotamus—Rirît—erect upon her hind legs,[*] and jauntily carrying upon her shoulders a monstrous crocodile whose jaws opened threateningly above her head. Eighteen luminaries of varying size and splendour, forming a group hard by the hippopotamus, indicated the outline of a gigantic lion couchant, with stiffened tail, its head turned to the right, and facing the Haunch.[***]
* The connection of Birît, the female hippopotamus, with the Haunch is made quite clear in scenes from Philae and Edfû, representing Isis holding back Typhon by a chain, that he might do no hurt to Sâhii-Osiris. Jollois and Devilliers thought that the hippopotamus was the Great Bear. Biot contested their conclusions, and while holding that the hippopotamus might at least in part present our constellation of the Dragon, thought that it was probably included in the scene only as an ornament, or as an emblem. The present tendency is to identify the hippopotamus with the Dragon and with certain stars not included in the constellations surrounding it. *** The Lion, with its eighteen stars, is represented on the tomb of Seti I.; on the ceiling of the Ramesseum; and on the sarcophagus of Htari.
2 From the astronomic ceiling in the tomb of Seti I. (Lefébure, 4th part, pl. xxxvi.).
The Lion is sometimes shown as having a crocodile's tail. According to Biot the Egyptian Lion has nothing in common with the Greek constellation of that name, nor yet with our own, but was composed of smaller stars, belonging to the Greek constellation of the Cup or to the continuation of the Hydra, so that its head, its body, and its tail would follow the [ ] of the Hydra, between the [ ] and [ ] of that constellation, or the [ ] of the Virgin.
Most of the constellations never left the sky: night after night they were to be found almost in the same places, and always shining with the same even light.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a small bronze in the Gîzeh Museum, published by Mariette, in the Album photographique du Musée de Boulaq, pl. 9. The legs are a modern restoration.
Others borne by a slow movement passed annually beyond the limits of sight for months at a time. Five at least of our planets were known from all antiquity, and their characteristic colours and appearances carefully noted. Sometimes each was thought to be a hawk-headed Horus. Ùapshetatûi, our Jupiter, Kahiri-(Saturn), Sobkû-(Mercury), steered their barks straight ahead like Iâûhû and Râ; but Mars-Doshiri, the red, sailed backwards. As a star Bonu, the bird (Yenus) had a dual personality; in the evening it was Uati, the lonely star which is the first to rise, often before nightfall; in the morning it became Tiûnûtiri, the god who hails the sun before his rising and proclaims the dawn of day.
Sahû and Sopdît, Orion and Sirius, were the rulers of this mysterious world. Sahû consisted of fifteen stars, seven large and eight small, so arranged as to represent a runner darting through space, while the fairest of them shone above his head, and marked him out from afar to the admiration of mortals.
1 Scene from the rectangular zodiac of Denderah, drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph taken with magnesium light by Dûmichen.
With his right hand he flourished the crux ansata, and turning his head towards Sothis as he beckoned her on with his left, seemed as though inviting her to follow him. The goddess, standing sceptre in hand, and crowned with a diadem of tall feathers surmounted by her most radiant star, answered the call of Sahû with a gesture, and quietly embarked in pursuit as though in no anxiety to overtake him. Sometimes she is represented as a cow lying down in her bark, with tree stars along her back, and Sirius flaming from between her horns.[*]
* The identity of the cow with Sothis was discovered by Jollois and Devilliers. It is under this animal form that Sothis is represented in most of the Græco-Roman temples, at Denderah, Edfû, Esneh, Dêr el-Medîneh.
Not content to shine by night only, her bluish rays, suddenly darted forth in full daylight and without any warning, often described upon the sky the mystic lines of the triangle which stood for her name. It was then that she produced those curious phenomena of the zodiacal light which other legends attributed to Horus himself. One, and perhaps the most ancient of the innumerable accounts of this god and goddess, represented Sahû as a wild hunter. A world as vast as ours rested upon the other side of the iron firmament; like ours, it was distributed into seas, and continents divided by rivers and canals, but peopled by races unknown to men. Sahû traversed it during the day, surrounded by genii who presided over the lamps forming his constellation. At his appearing "the stars prepared themselves for battle, the heavenly archers rushed forward, the bones of the gods upon the horizon trembled at the sight of him," for it was no common game that he hunted, but the very gods themselves. One attendant secured the prey with a lasso, as bulls are caught in the pastures, while another examined each capture to decide if it were pure and good for food. This being determined, others bound the divine victim, cut its throat, disembowelled it, cut up its carcass, cast the joints into a pot, and superintended their cooking. Sahû did not devour indifferently all that the fortune of the chase might bring him, but classified his game in accordance with his wants. He ate the great gods at his breakfast in the morning, the lesser gods at his dinner towards noon, and the small ones at his supper; the old were rendered more tender by roasting.
1 Scene on the north wall of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak; drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger, taken in 1882. The king, Seti I., is presenting bouquets of leaves to Amon-Mînû. Behind the god stands Isis (of Coptos), sceptre and crux ansata in hand.
As each god was assimilated by him, its most precious virtues were transfused into himself; by the wisdom of the old was his wisdom strengthened, the youth of the young repaired the daily waste of his own youth, and all their fires, as they penetrated his being, served to maintain the perpetual splendour of his light.
The nome gods who presided over the destinies of Egyptian cities, and formed a true feudal system of divinities, belonged to one or other of these natural categories. In vain do they present themselves under the most shifting aspects and the most deceptive attributes; in vain disguise themselves with the utmost care; a closer examination generally discloses the principal features of their original physiognomies. Osiris of the Delta, Khuûmû of the Cataract, Harshâfitû of Heracleopolis, were each of them, incarnations of the fertilizing and life-sustaining Nile. Wherever there is some important change in the river, there they are more especially installed and worshipped: Khnûmû at the place of its entering into Egypt, and again at the town of Hâûrît, near the point where a great arm branches off from the Eastern stream to flow towards the Libyan hills and form the Bahr-Yûsuf: Harshâfitû at the gorges of the Fayûm, where the Bahr-Yûsuf leaves the valley; and, finally, Osiris at Mendes and at Busiris, towards the mouth of the middle branch, which was held to be the true Nile by the people of the land. Isis of Bûto denoted the black vegetable mould of the valley, the distinctive soil of Egypt annually covered and fertilized by the inundation.[*]
* In the case of Isis, as in that of Osiris, we must mark the original character; and note her characteristics as goddess of the Delta before she had become a multiple and contradictory personality through being confounded with other divinities.
But the earth in general, as distinguished from the sky—the earth with its continents, its seas, its alternation of barren deserts and fertile lands—was represented as a man: Phtah at Memphis, Amon at Thebes, Mînû at Coptos and at Panopolis. Amon seems rather to have symbolized the productive soil, while Mînû reigned over the desert. But these were fine distinctions, not invariably insisted upon, and his worshippers often invested Amon with the most significant attributes of Mînû.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze of the Saïte period, in my own possession.
The Sky-gods, like the Earth-gods, were separated into two groups, the one consisting of women: Hâthor of Denderah, or Nît of Sais; the other composed of men identical with Horus, or derived from him: Anhûri-Shû of Sebennytos and Thinis; Harmerati, Horus of the two eyes, at Pharbaethos; Har-Sapdi, Horus the source of the zodiacal light, in the Wâdy Tumilât; and finally Harhûdîti at Edfû. Râ, the solar disk, was enthroned at Heliopolis, and sun-gods were numerous among the nome deities, but they were sun-gods closely connected with gods representing the sky, and resembled Horus quite as much as Râ. Whether under the name of Horus or of Anhûri, the sky was early identified with its most brilliant luminary, its solar eye, and its divinity was as it were fused into that of the Sun. Horus the Sun, and Râ, the Sun-Cod of Heliopolis, had so permeated each other that none could say where the one began and the other ended. One by one all the functions of Râ had been usurped by Horus, and all the designations of Horus had been appropriated by Râ. The sun was styled Harmakhûîti, the Horus of the two mountains—that is, the Horus who comes forth from the mountain of the east in the morning, and retires at evening into the mountain of the west;[*] or Hartimâ, Horus the Pikeman, that Horus whose lance spears the hippopotamus or the serpent of the celestial river; or Harnûbi, the Golden Horus, the great golden sparrow-hawk with mottled plumage, who puts all other birds to flight; and these titles were indifferently applied to each of the feudal gods who represented the sun.
* From the time of Champollion, Harmakhûîti has been identified with the Harmachis of the Greeks, the great Sphinx.
2 A bronze of the Saïte period, from the Posno collection, and now in the Louvre; drawn by Faucher-Gudin. The god is represented as upholding a libation vase with both hands, and pouring the life-giving water upon the king, standing, or prostrate, before him. In performing this ceremony, he was always assisted by another god, generally by Sit, sometimes by Thot or Anubis.
The latter were numerous. Sometimes, as in the case of Harkhobi, Horus of Khobiû,[*] a geographical qualification was appended to the generic term of Horus, while specific names, almost invariably derived from the parts which they were supposed to play, were borne by others. The sky-god worshipped at Thinis in Upper Egypt, at Zarît and at Sebennytos in Lower Egypt, was called Anhuri. When he assumed the attributes of Râ, and took upon himself the solar nature, his name was interpreted as denoting the conqueror of the sky. He was essentially combative. Crowned with a group of upright plumes, his spear raised and ever ready to strike the foe, he advanced along the firmament and triumphantly traversed it day by day.[**] The sun-god who at Medamôfc Taûd and Erment had preceded Amon as ruler of the Theban plain, was also a warrior, and his name of Montû had reference to his method of fighting. He was depicted as brandishing a curved sword and cutting off the heads of his adversaries.[***]
* Harkhobi, Harâmkhobiû is the Horus of the marshes (khobiû) of the Delta, the lesser Horus the son of Isis, who was also made into the son of Osiris. ** The right reading of the name was given as far back as Lepsius. The part played by the god, and the nature of the link connecting him with Shû, have been explained by Maspero. The Greeks transcribed his name Onouris, and identified him with Ares. *** Montû preceded Amon as god of the land between Kûs and Gebelên, and he recovered his old position in the Græco- Roman period after the destruction of Thebes. Most Egyptologists, and finally Brugsch, made him into a secondary form of Amon, which is contrary to what we know of the history of the province. Just as Onû of the south (Erment) preceded Thebes as the most important town in that district, so Montû had been its most honoured god. Heer Wiedemann thinks the name related to that of Amon and derived from it, with the addition of the final tû.
Each of the feudal gods naturally cherished pretensions to universal dominion, and proclaimed himself the suzerain, the father of all the gods, as the local prince was the suzerain, the father of all men; but the effective suzerainty of god or prince really ended where that of his peers ruling over the adjacent nomes began.
The goddesses shared in the exercise of supreme power, and had the same right of inheritance and possession as regards sovereignty that women had in human law.[*] Isis was entitled lady and mistress at Bûto, as Hâthor was at Denderah, and as Nit at Sais, "the firstborn, when as yet there had been no birth." They enjoyed in their cities the same honours as the male gods in theirs; as the latter were kings, so were they queens, and all bowed down before them. The animal gods, whether entirely in the form of beasts, or having human bodies attached to animal heads, shared omnipotence with those in human form. Horus of Hibonû swooped down upon the back of a gazelle like a hunting hawk, Hâthor of Denderah was a cow, Bastit of Bubastis was a cat or a tigress, while Nekhabit of El Kab was a great bald-headed vulture.[**] Hermopolis worshipped the ibis and cynocephalus of Thot; Oxyrrhynchus the mor-myrus fish;[***] and Ombos and the Fayûm a crocodile, under the name of Sobkû,[****] sometimes with the epithet of Azaï, the brigand.[v]
* In attempts at reconstituting Egyptian religions, no adequate weight has hitherto been given to the equality of gods and goddesses, a fact to which attention was first called by Maspeeo (Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. p. 253, et seq.). ** Nekhabît, the goddess of the south, is the vulture, so often represented in scenes of war or sacrifice, who hovers over the head of the Pharaohs. She is also shown as a vulture-headed woman. *** We have this on the testimony of classic writers, Steabo, book xvii. p. 812, De Iside et Csiride, § vii., 1872, Paethey's edition, pp. 9, 30, 128. ^Elianus, Hist, anim., book x. § 46. **** Sobhû, Sovkû is the animal's name, and the exact translation of Sovû would be crocodile-god. Its Greek transcription is [ ]. On account of the assonance of the names he was sometimes confounded with Sivû, Sibû by the Egyptians themselves, and thus obtained the titles of that god. This was especially the case at the time when Sit having been proscribed, Sovkû the crocodile, who was connected with Sit, shared his evil reputation, and endeavoured to disguise his name or true character as much as possible. v Azaï is generally considered to be the Osiris of the Fayûm, but he was only transformed into Osiris, and that by the most daring process of assimilation. His full name defines him as Osiri Azaï hi halt To-sit (Osiris the Brigand, who is in the Fayûm), that is to say, as Sovkû identified with Osiris.
4 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a green enamelled figure in my possession (Saïte period).
We cannot always understand what led the inhabitants of each nome to affect one animal rather than another. Why, towards Græco-Roman times, should they have worshipped the jackal, or even the dog, at Siût?[**] How came Sit to be incarnate in a fennec, or in an imaginary quadruped?[***] Occasionally, however, we can follow the train of thought that determined their choice.
** Uapuaîtû, the guide of the celestial ways, who must not be confounded with Anubis of the Cynopolite nome of Upper Egypt, was originally the feudal god of Siût. He guided human souls to the paradise of the Oasis, and the sun upon its southern path by day, and its northern path by night. *** Champollion, Rosellini, Lepsius, have held that the Typhonian animal was a purely imaginary one, and Wilkinson says that the Egyptians themselves admitted its unreality by representing it along with other fantastic beasts. This would rather tend to show that they believed in its actual existence (cf. p. 112 of this History). Plbyte thinks that it may be a degenerated form of the figure of the ass or oryx.
The habit of certain monkeys in assembling as it were in full court, and chattering noisily a little before sunrise and sunset, would almost justify the as yet uncivilized Egyptians in entrusting cynocephali with the charge of hailing the god morning and evening as he appeared in the east, or passed away in the west.
If Râ was held to be a grasshopper under the Old Empire, it was because he flew far up in the sky like the clouds of locusts driven from Central Africa which suddenly fall upon the fields and ravage them. Most of the Nile-gods, Khnûmû, Osiris, Harshafitû, were incarnate in the form of a ram or of a buck. Does not the masculine vigour and procreative rage of these animals naturally point them out as fitting images of the life-giving Nile and the overflowing of its waters? It is easy to understand how the neighbourhood of a marsh or of a rock-encumbered rapid should have suggested the crocodile as supreme deity to the inhabitants of the Fayûm or of Ombos. The crocodiles there multiplied so rapidly as to constitute a serious danger; there they had the mastery, and could be appeased only by means of prayers and sacrifices. When instinctive terror had been superseded by reflection, and some explanation was offered of the origin of the various cults, the very nature of the animal seemed to justify the veneration with which it was regarded. The crocodile is amphibious; and Sobkû was supposed to be a crocodile, because before the creation the sovereign god plunged recklessly into the dark waters and came forth to form the world, as the crocodile emerges from the river to lay its eggs upon the bank.
Most of the feudal divinities began their lives in solitary grandeur, apart from, and often hostile to, their neighbours. Families were assigned to them later.[*]
* The existence of the Egyptian triads was discovered and defined by Champollion. These triads have long served as the basis upon which modern writers have sought to establish their systems of the Egyptian religion. Brugsch was the first who rightly attempted to replace the triad by the Ennead, in his book Religion und Mythologie der alten Ægypter. The process of forming local triads, as here set forth, was first pointed out by Maspero (Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. p. 269, et seq.).
Each appropriated two companions and formed a trinity, or as it is generally called, a triad. But there were several kinds of triads. In nomes subject to a god, the local deity was frequently content with one wife and one son; but often he was united to two goddesses, who were at once his sisters and his wives according to the national custom.
Thus, Thot of Hermopolis possessed himself of a harem consisting of Seshaît-Safk-hîtâbûi and Hahmâûît. Tûmû divided the homage of the inhabitants of Helio-polis with Nebthôtpît and with Iûsasît. Khnûmû seduced and married the two fairies of the neighbouring cataract—Anûkît the constrainer, who compresses the Nile between its rocks at Philse and at Syene, and Satît the archeress, who shoots forth the current straight and swift as an arrow.[*] Where a goddess reigned over a nome, the triad was completed by two male deities, a divine consort and a divine son. Nît of Sai's had taken for her husband Osiris of Mendes, and borne him a lion's whelp, Ari-hos-nofir.[**]
* Maspero, Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. p. 273, et seq. ** Arihosnofir means the lion whose gaze has a beneficent fascination. He also goes under the name of Tutu, which seems as though it should be translated "the bounding,"—a mere epithet characterizing one gait of the lion-god's.
Hâthor of Denderah had completed her household with Haroêris and a younger Horus, with the epithet of Ahi—he who strikes the sistrum.[*]
* Brugsch explains the name of Ahi as meaning he who causes his waters to rise, and recognizes this personage as being, among other things, a form of the Nile. The interpretation offered by myself is borne out by the many scenes representing the child of Hâthor playing upon the sistrum and the monâît. Moreover, ahi, ahît is an invariable title of the priests and priestesses whose office it is, during religious ceremonies, to strike the sistrum, and that other mystic musical instrument, the sounding whip called monâît.
2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze statuette encrusted with gold, in the Gîzeh Museum. The seat is alabaster, and of modern manufacture.
A triad containing two goddesses produced no legitimate offspring, and was unsatisfactory to a people who regarded the lack of progeny as a curse from heaven; one in which the presence of a son promised to ensure the perpetuity of the race was more in keeping with the idea of a blessed and prosperous family, as that of gods should be. Triads of the former kind were therefore almost everywhere broken up into two new triads, each containing a divine father, a divine mother, and a divine son. Two fruitful households arose from the barren union of Thot with Safkhîtâbûi and Nahmâûît: one composed of Thot, Safkhîtâbûi, and Harnûbi, the golden sparrow-hawk;[***] into the other Nahmâûît and her nursling Nofirhorû entered.
*** This somewhat rare triad, noted by Wilkinson, is sculptured on the wall of a chamber in the Tûrah quarries.
3 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze statuette incrusted with gold, in the Gîzeh Museum.
The persons united with the old feudal divinities in order to form triads were not all of the same class. Goddesses, especially, were made to order, and might often be described as grammatical, so obvious is the linguistic device to which they owe their being. From Râ, Amon, Horus, Sobkû, female Ras, Anions, Horuses, and Sobkûs were derived, by the addition of the regular feminine affix to the primitive masculine names—Râît, Amonît, Horît, Sobkît.[*] In the same way, detached cognomens of divine fathers were embodied in divine sons. Imhotpû, "he who comes in peace," was merely one of the epithets of Phtah before he became incarnate as the third member of the Memphite triad.[**] In other cases, alliances were contracted between divinities of ancient stock, but natives of different nomes, as in the case of Isis of Bûto and the Mendesian Osiris; of Haroêris of Edfu and Hâthor of Denderah.
* Maspero, Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. pp. 7, 8, 256. ** Imhotpû, the Imouthes of the Greeks, and by them identified with Æsculapius, was discovered by Salt, and his name was first translated as he who comes with offering. The translation, he who comes in peace, proposed by E. de Rougé, is now universally adopted. Imhotpû did not take form until the time of the New Empire; his great popularity at Memphis and throughout Egypt dates from the Saïte and Greek periods.
In the same manner Sokhît of Letopolis and Bastît of Bubastis were appropriated as wives to Phtah of Memphis, Nofirtûmû being represented as his son by both unions.[*] These improvised connections were generally determined by considerations of vicinity; the gods of conterminous principalities were married as the children of kings of two adjoining kingdoms are married, to form or to consolidate relations, and to establish bonds of kinship between rival powers whose unremitting hostility would mean the swift ruin of entire peoples.
The system of triads, begun in primitive times and con-, tinned unbrokenly up to the last days of Egyptian polytheism, far from in any way lowering the prestige of the feudal gods, was rather the means of enhancing it in the eyes of the multitude. Powerful lords as the new-comers might be at home, it was only in the strength of an auxiliary title that they could enter a strange city, and then only on condition of submitting to its religious law. Hâthor, supreme at Denderah, shrank into insignificance before Haroêris at Edfû, and there retained only the somewhat subordinate part of a wife in the house of her husband.[**]
* Originally, Nofirtûmû appears to have been the son of cat or lioness-headed goddesses, Bastît and Sokhît, and from them he may have inherited the lion's head with which he is often represented. His name shows him to have been in the first place an incarnation of Atûmû, but he was affiliated to the god Phtah of Memphis when that god became the husband of his mothers, and preceded Imhotpû as the third personage in the oldest Memphite triad. ** Each year, and at a certain time, the goddess came in high state to spend a few days in the great temple of Edfû, with her husband Haroêris.
On the other hand, Haroêris when at Denderah descended from the supreme rank, and was nothing more than the almost useless consort of the lady Hâthor. His name came first in invocations of the triad because of his position therein as husband and father; but this was simply a concession to the propriety of etiquette, and even though named in second place, Hâthor was none the less the real chief of Denderah and of its divine family.[*] Thus, the principal personage in any triad was always the one who had been patron of the nome previous to the introduction of the triad: in some places the father-god, and in others the mother-goddess.
* The part played by Haroêris at Denderah was so inconsiderable that the triad containing him is not to be found in the temple. "In all our four volumes of plates, the triad is not once represented, and this is the more remarkable since at Thebes, at Memphis, at Philse, at the cataracts, at Elephantine, at Edfû, among all the data which one looks to find in temples, the triad is most readily distinguished by the visitor. But we must not therefore conclude that there was no triad in this case. The triad of Edfû consists of Hor-Hut, Hâthor, and Hor-Sam-ta-ui. The triad of Denderah contains Hâthor, Hor-Hut, and Hor-Sam-ta- ui. The difference is obvious. At Edfû, the male principle, as represented by Hor-Hut, takes the first place, whereas the first person at Denderah is Hâthor, who represents the female principle" (Mariette, Dendérah, Texte, pp. 80, 81).
2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a statuette in the Gîzeh Museum (Mariette, Album du Musée de Boulaq, pl. 4).
The son in a divine triad had of himself but limited authority. When Isis and Osiris were his parents, he was generally an infant Horus, naked, or simply adorned with necklaces and bracelets; a thick lock of hair depended from his temple, and his mother squatting on her heels, or else sitting, nursed him upon her knees, offering him her breast.[*] Even in triads where the son was supposed to have attained to man's estate, he held the lowest place, and there was enjoined upon him the same respectful attitude towards his parents as is observed by children of human race in the presence of theirs. He took the lowest place at all solemn receptions, spoke only with his parents' permission, acted only by their command and as the agent of their will. Occasionally he was vouchsafed a character of his own, and filled a definite position, as at Memphis, where Imhotpû was the patron of science.[**]
* For representations of Harpocrates, the child Horus, see Lanzone, Dizionario di Mitologia Egizia, pis. ccxxvii., ccxxviii., and particularly pl. cccx. 2, where there is a scene in which the young god, represented as a sparrow-hawk, is nevertheless sucking the breast of his mother Isis with his beak. ** Hence he is generally represented as seated, or squatting, and attentively reading a papyrus roll, which lies open upon his knees; cf. the illustration on p. 142.
But, generally, he was not considered as having either office or marked individuality; his being was but a feeble reflection of his father's, and possessed neither life nor power except as derived from him. Two such contiguous personalities must needs have been confused, and, as a matter of fact, were so confused as to become at length nothing more than two aspects of the same god, who united in his own person degrees of relationship mutually exclusive of each other in a human family. Father, inasmuch as he was the first member of the triad; son, by virtue of being its third member; identical with himself in both capacities, he was at once his own father, his own son, and the husband of his mother.
Gods, like men, might be resolved into at least two elements, soul and body;[*] but in Egypt, the conception of the soul varied in different times and in different schools. It might be an insect—butterfly, bee, or praying mantis;[**] or a bird—the ordinary sparrow-hawk, the human-headed sparrow-hawk, a heron or a crane—bi, haï—whose wings enabled it to pass rapidly through space;[***] or the black shadow—khaîbît—that is attached to every body, but which death sets free, and which thenceforward leads an independent existence, so that it can move about at will, and go out into the open sunlight.
* In one of the Pyramid texts, Sâhû-Orion, the wild hunter, captures the gods, slaughters and disembowels them, cooks their joints, their haunches, their legs, in his burning cauldrons, and feeds on their souls as well as on their bodies. A god was not limited to a single body and a single soul; we know from several texts that Râ had seven souls and fourteen doubles. ** Mr. Lepage-Renouf supposes that the soul may have been considered as being a butterfly at times, as in Greece. M. Lefébure thinks that it must sometimes have been incarnate as a wasp—I should rather say a bee or a praying mantis. *** The simple sparrow-hawk is chiefly used to denote the soul of a god; the human-headed sparrow-hawk, the heron, or the crane is used indifferently for human or divine souls. It is from Horapollo that we learn this symbolic significance of the sparrow-hawk and the pronunciation of the name of the soul as bai.
4 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Naville's Das Thebanische Todtenbuch, vol. i. pl. civ.
Finally, it might be a kind of light shadow, like a reflection from the surface of calm water, or from a polished mirror, the living and coloured projection of the human figure, a double—ka—reproducing in minutest detail the complete image of the object or the person to whom it belonged.[*]
* The nature of the double has long been misapprehended by Egyptologists, who had even made its name into a kind of pronominal form. That nature was publicly and almost simultaneously announced in 1878, first by Maspero, and directly afterwards by Lepage-Renouf.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Dûmichen, of a scene on the cornice of the front room of Osiris on the terrace of the great temple of Denderah. The soul on the left belongs to Horus, that on the right to Osiris, lord of Amentît. Each bears upon its head the group of tall feathers which is characteristic of figures of Anhûri (cf. p. 103).
The soul, the shadow, the double of a god, was in no way essentially different from the soul, shadow, or double of a man; his body, indeed, was moulded out of a more rarefied substance, and generally invisible, but endowed with the same qualities, and subject to the same imperfections as ours. The gods, therefore, on the whole, were more ethereal, stronger, more powerful, better fitted to command, to enjoy, and to suffer than ordinary men, but they were still men. They had bones,[**] muscles, flesh, blood; they were hungry and ate, they were thirsty and drank; our passions, griefs, joys, infirmities, were also theirs. The sa, a mysterious fluid, circulated throughout their members, and carried with it health, vigour, and life.
** For example, the text of the Destruction of Men, and other documents, teach us that the flesh of the aged sun had become gold, and his bones silver. The blood of Râ is mentioned in the Book of the Dead, as well as the blood of Isis and of other divinities.
They were not all equally charged with it; some had more, others less, their energy being in proportion to the amount which they contained. The better supplied willingly gave of their superfluity to those who lacked it, and all could readily transmit it to mankind, this transfusion being easily accomplished in the temples. The king, or any ordinary man who wished to be thus impregnated, presented himself before the statue of the god, and squatted at its feet with his back towards it. The statue then placed its right hand upon the nape of his neck, and by making passes, caused the fluid to flow from it, and to accumulate in him as in a receiver. This rite was of temporary efficacy only, and required frequent renewal in order that its benefit might be maintained.
1 Drawn by Boudier from a photograph by M. Gay et, taken in 1889, of a scene in the hypostyle hall at Lûxor. This illustration shows the relative positions of prince and god. Anion, after having placed the pschent upon the head of the Pharaoh Amenôthes III., who kneels before him, proceeds to impose the sa.
By using or transmitting it the gods themselves exhausted their sa of life; and the less vigorous replenished themselves from the stronger, while the latter went to draw fresh fulness from a mysterious pond in the northern sky, called the "pond of the Sa."[*] Divine bodies, continually recruited by the influx of this magic fluid, preserved their vigour far beyond the term allotted to the bodies of men and beasts. Age, instead of quickly destroying them, hardened and transformed them into precious metals. Their bones were changed to silver, their flesh to gold; their hair, piled up and painted blue, after the manner of great chiefs, was turned into lapis-lazuli.[**]
* It is thus that in the Tale of the Daughter of the Prince of Bakhtan we find that one of the statues of the Theban Konsû supplies itself with sa from another statue representing one of the most powerful forms of the god. The pond of Sa, whither the gods go to draw the magic fluid, is mentioned in the Pyramid texts. ** Cf. the text of the Destruction of Men (Il. 1, 2) referred to above, where age produces these transformations in the body of the sun. This changing of the bodies of the gods into gold, silver, and precious stones, explains why the alchemists, who were disciples of the Egyptians, often compared the transmutation of metals to the metamorphosis of a genius or of a divinity: they thought by their art to hasten at will that which was the slow work of nature.
This transformation of each into an animated statue did not altogether do away with the ravages of time. Decrepitude was no less irremediable with them than with men, although it came to them more slowly; when the sun had grown old "his mouth trembled, his drivelling ran down to earth, his spittle dropped upon the ground."
None of the feudal gods had escaped this destiny; for them as for mankind the day came when they must leave the city and go forth to the tomb.[*]
* The idea of the inevitable death of the gods is expressed in other places as well as in a passage of the eighth chapter of the Booh of the Dead (Naville's edition), which has not to my knowledge hitherto been noticed: "I am that Osiris in the West, and Osiris knoweth his day in which he shall be no more;" that is to say, the day of his death when he will cease to exist. All the gods, Atûmû, Horus, Râ, Thot, Phtah, Khnûmû, are represented under the forms of mummies, and this implies that they are dead. Moreover, their tombs were pointed out in several places in Egypt.
The ancients long refused to believe that death was natural and inevitable. They thought that life, once began, might go on indefinitely: if no accident stopped it short, why should it cease of itself? And so men did not die in Egypt; they were assassinated. The murderer often belonged to this world, and was easily recognized as another man, an animal, some inanimate object such as a stone loosened from the hillside, a tree which fell upon the passer-by and crushed him. But often too the murderer was of the unseen world, and so was hidden, his presence being betrayed in his malignant attacks only. He was a god, an evil spirit, a disembodied soul who slily insinuated itself into the living man, or fell upon him with irresistible violence—illness being a struggle between the one possessed and the power which possessed him. As soon as the former succumbed he was carried away from his own people, and his place knew him no more. But had all ended for him with the moment in which he had ceased to breathe? As to the body, no one was ignorant of its natural fate. It quickly fell to decay, and a few years sufficed to reduce it to a skeleton. And as for the skeleton, in the lapse of centuries that too was disintegrated and became a mere train of dust, to be blown away by the first breath of wind. The soul might have a longer career and fuller fortunes, but these were believed to be dependent upon those of the body, and commensurate with them. Every advance made in the process of decomposition robbed the soul of some part of itself; its consciousness gradually faded until nothing was left but a vague and hollow form that vanished altogether when the corpse had entirely disappeared. Erom an early date the Egyptians had endeavoured to arrest this gradual destruction of the human organism, and their first effort to this end naturally was directed towards the preservation of the body, since without it the existence of the soul could not be ensured. It was imperative that during that last sleep, which for them was fraught with such terrors, the flesh should neither become decomposed nor turn to dust, that it should be free from offensive odour and secure from predatory worms.
They set to work, therefore, to discover how to preserve it. The oldest burials which have as yet been found prove that these early inhabitants were successful in securing the permanence of the body for a few decades only. When one of them died, his son, or his nearest relative, carefully washed the corpse in water impregnated with an astringent or aromatic substance, such as natron or some solution of fragrant gums, and then fumigated it with burning herbs and perfumes which were destined to overpower, at least temporarily, the odour of death.[*]
* This is to be gathered from the various Pyramid texts relating to the purification by water and to fumigation: the pains taken to secure material cleanliness, described in these formulas, were primarily directed towards the preservation of the bodies subjected to these processes, and further to the perfecting of the souls to which these bodies had been united.
Having taken these precautions, they placed the body in the grave, sometimes entirely naked, sometimes partially covered with its ordinary garments, or sewn up in a closely fitting gazelle skin. The dead man was placed on his left side, lying north and south with his face to the east, in some cases on the bare ground, in others on a mat, a strip of leather or a fleece, in the position of a child in the foetal state. The knees were sharply bent at an angle of 45° with the thighs, while the latter were either at right angles with the body, or drawn up so as almost to touch the elbows. The hands are sometimes extended in front of the face, sometimes the arms are folded and the hands joined on the breast or neck. In some instances the legs are bent upward in such a fashion that they almost lie parallel with the trunk. The deceased could only be made to assume this position by a violent effort, and in many cases the tendons and the flesh had to be cut to facilitate the operation. The dryness of the ground selected for these burial-places retarded the corruption of the flesh for a long time, it is true, but only retarded it, and so did not prevent the soul from being finally destroyed. Seeing decay could not be prevented, it was determined to accelerate the process, by taking the flesh from the bones before interment. The bodies thus treated are often incomplete; the head is missing, or is detached from the neck and laid in another part of the pit, or, on the other hand, the body is not there, and the head only is found in the grave, generally placed apart on a brick, a heap of stones, or a layer of cut flints. The forearms and the hands were subjected to the same treatment as the head. In many cases no trace of them appears, in others they are deposited by the side of the skull or scattered about haphazard. Other mutilations are frequently met with; the ribs are divided and piled up behind the body, the limbs are disjointed or the body is entirely dismembered, and the fragments arranged upon the ground or enclosed together in an earthenware chest.
These precautions were satisfactory in so far as they ensured the better preservation of the more solid parts of the human frame, but the Egyptians felt this result was obtained at too great a sacrifice. The human organism thus deprived of all flesh was not only reduced to half its bulk, but what remained had neither unity, consistency, nor continuity. It was not even a perfect skeleton with its constituent parts in their relative places, but a mere mass of bones with no connecting links. This drawback, it is true, was remedied by the artificial reconstruction in the tomb of the individual thus completely dismembered in the course of the funeral ceremonies. The bones were laid in their natural order; those of the feet at the bottom, then those of the leg, trunk, and arms, and finally the skull itself. But the superstitious fear inspired by the dead man, particularly of one thus harshly handled, and particularly the apprehension that he might revenge himself on his relatives for the treatment to which they had subjected him, often induced them to make this restoration intentionally incomplete. When they had reconstructed the entire skeleton, they refrained from placing the head in position, or else they suppressed one or all of the vertebras of the spine, so that the deceased should be unable to rise and go forth to bite and harass the living. Having taken this precaution, they nevertheless felt a doubt whether the soul could really enjoy life so long as one half only of the body remained, and the other was lost for ever: they therefore sought to discover the means of preserving the fleshy parts in addition to the bony framework of the body. It had been observed that when a corpse had been buried in the desert, its skin, speedily desiccated and hardened, changed into a case of blackish parchment beneath which the flesh slowly wasted away,[*] and the whole frame thus remained intact, at least in appearance, while its integrity ensured that of the soul.
* Such was the appearance of the bodies of Coptic monks of the sixth, eighth, and ninth centuries, which I found in the convent cemeteries of Contra-Syene, Taûd, and Akhmîm, right in the midst of the desert.
An attempt was made by artificial means to reproduce the conservative action of the sand, and, without mutilating the body, to secure at will that incorruptibility without which the persistence of the soul was but a useless prolongation of the death-agony. It was the god Anubis—the jackal lord of sepulture—who was supposed to have made this discovery. He cleansed the body of the viscera, those parts which most rapidly decay, saturated it with salts and aromatic substances, protected it first of all with the hide of a beast, and over this laid thick layers of linen. The victory the god had thus gained over corruption was, however, far from being a complete one. The bath in which the dead man was immersed could not entirely preserve the softer parts of the body: the chief portion of them was dissolved, and what remained after the period of saturation was so desiccated that its bulk was seriously diminished.
When any human being had been submitted to this process, he emerged from it a mere skeleton, over which the skin remained tightly drawn: these shrivelled limbs, sunken chest, grinning features, yellow and blackened skin spotted by the efflorescence of the embalmer's salts, were not the man himself, but rather a caricature of what he had been. As nevertheless he was secure against immediate destruction, the Egyptians described him as furnished with his shape; henceforth he had been purged of all that was evil in him, and he could face with tolerable security whatever awaited him in the future. The art of Anubis, transmitted to the embalmers and employed by them from generation to generation, had, by almost eliminating the corruptible part of the body without destroying its outward appearance, arrested decay, if not for ever, at least for an unlimited period of time. If there were hills at hand, thither the mummied dead were still borne, partly from custom, partly because the dryness of the air and of the soil offered them a further chance of preservation. In districts of the Delta where the hills were so distant as to make it very costly to reach them, advantage was taken of the smallest sandy islet rising above the marshes, and there a cemetery was founded. Where this resource failed, the mummy was fearlessly entrusted to the soil itself, but only after being placed within a sarcophagus of hard stone, whose lid and trough, hermetically fastened together with cement, prevented the penetration of any moisture. Reassured on this point, the soul followed the body to the tomb, and there dwelt with it as in its eternal house, upon the confines of the visible and invisible worlds.
Here the soul kept the distinctive character and appearance which pertained to it "upon the earth:" as it had been a "double" before death, so it remained a double after it, able to perform all functions of animal life after its own fashion. It moved, went, came, spoke, breathed, accepted pious homage, but without pleasure, and as it were mechanically, rather from an instinctive horror of annihilation than from any rational desire for immortality. Unceasing regret for the bright world which it had left disturbed its mournful and inert existence. "O my brother, withhold not thyself from drinking and from eating, from drunkenness, from love, from all enjoyment, from following thy desire by night and by day; put not sorrow within thy heart, for what are the years of a man upon earth? The West is a land of sleep and of heavy shadows, a place wherein its inhabitants, when once installed, slumber on in their mummy-forms, never more waking to see their brethren; never more to recognize their fathers or their mothers, with hearts forgetful of their wives and children. The living water, which earth giveth to all who dwell upon it, is for me but stagnant and dead; that water floweth to all who are on earth, while for me it is but liquid putrefaction, this water that is mine. Since I came into this funereal valley I know not where nor what I am. Give me to drink of running water!... Let me be placed by the edge of the water with my face to the North, that the breeze may caress me and my heart be refreshed from its sorrow." By day the double remained concealed within the tomb. If it went forth by night, it was from no capricious or sentimental desire to revisit the spots where it had led a happier life. Its organs needed nourishment as formerly did those of its body, and of itself it possessed nothing "but hunger for food, thirst for drink."[*] Want and misery drove it from its retreat, and flung it back among the living. It prowled like a marauder about fields and villages, picking up and greedily devouring whatever it might find on the ground—broken meats which had been left or forgotten, house and stable refuse—and, should these meagre resources fail, even the most revolting dung and excrement.[**]
* Teti, 11. 74, 75. "Hateful unto Teti is hunger, and he eateth it not; hateful unto Teti is thirst, nor hath he drunk it." We see that the Egyptians made hunger and thirst into two substances or beings, to be swallowed as food is swallowed, but whose effects were poisonous unless counteracted by the immediate absorption of more satisfying sustenance. ** King Teti, when distinguishing his fate from that of the common dead, stated that he had abundance of food, and hence was not reduced to so pitiful an extremity. "Abhorrent unto Teti is excrement, Teti rejecteth urine, and Teti abhorreth that which is abominable in him; abhorrent unto him is faecal matter and he eateth it not, hateful unto Teti is liquid filth." (Teti, 11. 68, 69). The same doctrine is found in several places in the Book of the Dead.
This ravenous sceptre had not the dim and misty form, the long shroud of floating draperies of our modern phantoms, but a precise and definite shape, naked, or clothed in the garments which it had worn while yet upon earth, and emitting a pale light, to which it owed the name of Luminous—Khû, Khûû.[*] The double did not allow its family to forget it, but used all the means at its disposal to remind them of its existence. It entered their houses and their bodies, terrified them waking and sleeping by its sudden apparitions, struck them down with disease or madness,[**] and would even suck their blood like the modern vampire.
* The name of luminous was at first so explained as to make the light wherewith souls were clothed, into a portion of the divine light. In my opinion the idea is a less abstract one, and shows that, as among many other nations, so with the Egyptians the soul was supposed to appear as a kind of pale flame, or as emitting a glow analogous to the phosphorescent halo which is seen by night about a piece of rotten wood, or putrefying fish. This primitive conception may have subsequently faded, and khû the glorious one, one of the mânes, may have become one of those flattering names by which it was thought necessary to propitiate the dead; it then came to have that significance of resplendent with light which is ordinarily attributed to it. ** The incantations of which the Leyden Papyrus published by Pleyte is full are directed against dead men or dead women who entered into one of the living to give him the migraine, and violent headaches. Another Leyden Papyrus, briefly analyzed by Ohabas, and translated by Maspero, contains the complaint, or rather the formal act of requisition of a husband whom the luminous of his wife returned to torment in his home, without any just cause for such conduct.
One effectual means there was, and one only, of escaping or preventing these visitations, and this lay in taking to the tomb all the various provisions of which the double stood in need, and for which it visited their dwellings. Funerary sacrifices and the regular cultus of the dead originated in the need experienced for making provision for the sustenance of the manes after having secured their lasting existence by the mummification of their bodies.[*]
* Several chapters of the Book of the Dead consist of directions for giving food to that part of man which survives his death, e.g. chap, cv., "Chapter for providing food for the double" (Naville's edition, pl. cxvii.), and chap, cvi., "Chapter for giving daily abundance unto the deceased, in Memphis" (Naville's edition, pl. cxviii.).
2 Stela of Antûf I., Prince of Thebes, drawn by Faucher- Gudin from a photograph taken by Emil Brugsch-Bey. Below, servants and relations are bringing the victims and cutting up the ox at the door of the tomb. In the middle is the dead man, seated under his pavilion and receiving the sacrifice: an attendant offers him drink, another brings him the haunch of an ox a third a basket and two jars; provisions fill the whole chamber. Behind Antûf stand two servants, the one fanning his master, and the second offering him his staff and sandals. The position of the door, which is in the lowest row of the scenes, indicates that what is represented above it takes place within the tomb.
Gazelles and oxen were brought and sacrificed at the door of the tomb chapel; the haunches, heart, and breast of each victim being presented and heaped together upon the ground, that there the dead might find them when they began to be hungry. Vessels of beer or wine, great jars of fresh water, purified with natron, or perfumed, were brought to them that they might drink their fill at pleasure, and by such voluntary tribute men bought their good will, as in daily life they bought that of some neighbour too powerful to be opposed.
The gods were spared none of the anguish and none of the perils which death so plentifully bestows upon men. Their bodies suffered change and gradually perished until nothing was left of them. Their souls, like human souls, were only the representatives of their bodies, and gradually became extinct if means of arresting the natural tendency to decay were not found in time. Thus, the same necessity that forced men to seek the kind of sepulture which gave the longest term of existence to their souls, compelled the gods to the same course. At first, they were buried in the hills, and one of their oldest titles describes them as those "who are upon the sand,"[*] safe from putrefaction; afterwards, when the art of embalming had been discovered, the gods received the benefit of the new invention and were mummified.
* In the Book of Knowing that which is in Hades, for the fourth and fifth hours of the night, we have the description of the sandy realm of Sokaris and of the gods Hiriû Shâîtû- senû, who are on their sand. Elsewhere in the same book we have a cynocephalus upon its sand, and the gods of the eighth hour are also mysterious gods who are on their sand. Wherever these personages are represented in the vignettes, the Egyptian artist has carefully drawn the ellipse painted in yellow and sprinkled with red, which is the conventional rendering of sand, and sandy districts.
Each nome possessed the mummy and the tomb of its dead god: at Thinis there was the mummy and the tomb of Anhuri, the mummy of Osiris at Mendes, the mummy of Tûmû at Heliopolis.[*] In some of the nomes the gods did not change their names in altering the mode of their existence: the deceased Osiris remained Osiris; Nit and Hâthor when dead were still Nît and Hâthor, at Saïs and at Denderah. But Phtah of Memphis became Sokaris by dying; Uapûaîtû, the jackal of Siût, was changed into Anubis;[**] and when his disk had disappeared at evening, Anhûri, the sunlit sky of Thinis, was Khontamentît, Lord of the West, until the following day.
* The sepulchres of Tûmû, Khopri, Râ, Osiris, and in each of them the heap of sand hiding the body, are represented in the tomb of Seti I., as also the four rams in which the souls of the god are incarnate. The tombs of the gods were known even in Roman times. ** To my mind, at least, this is an obvious conclusion from the monuments of Siût, in which the jackal god is called Uapûaîtû, as the living god, lord of the city, and Anûpû, master of embalming or of the Oasis, lord of Ra-qrirît, inasmuch as he is god of the dead. Ra-qrirît, the door of the stone, was the name which the people of Siût gave to their necropolis and to the infernal domain of their god.
That bliss which we dream of enjoying in the world to come was not granted to the gods any more than to men. Their bodies were nothing but inert larvae, "with unmoving heart,"[*] weak and shrivelled limbs, unable to stand upright were it not that the bandages in which they were swathed stiffened them into one rigid block. Their hands and heads alone were free, and were of the green or black shades of putrid flesh.
* This is the characteristic epithet for the dead Osiris, Urdu Mt, he whose heart is unmoving, he whose heart no longer beats, and who has therefore ceased to live.
2 Drawing by Faucher-Gudin of a bronze statuette of the Saïte period, found in the department of Hérault, at the end of a gallery in an ancient mine.
Their doubles, like those of men, both dreaded and regretted the light. All sentiment was extinguished by the hunger from which they suffered, and gods who were noted for their compassionate kindness when alive, became pitiless and ferocious tyrants in the tomb. When once men were bidden to the presence of Sokaris, Khontamentîfc, or even of Osiris, "mortals come terrifying their hearts with fear of the god, and none dareth to look him in the face either among gods or men; for him the great are as the small. He spareth not those who love him; he beareth away the child from its mother, and the old man who walketh on his way; full of fear, all creatures make supplication before him, but he turneth not his face towards them." Only by the unfailing payment of tribute, and by feeding him as though he were a simple human double, could living or dead escape the consequences of his furious temper. The living paid him his dues in pomps and solemn sacrifices, repeated from year to year at regular intervals; but the dead bought more dearly the protection which he deigned to extend to them. He did not allow them to receive directly the prayers, sepulchral meals, or offerings of kindred on feast-days; all that was addressed to them must first pass through his hands. When their friends wished to send them wine, water, bread, meat, vegetables, and fruits, he insisted that these should first be offered and formally presented to himself; then he was humbly prayed to transmit them to such or such a double, whose name and parentage were pointed out to him. He took possession of them, kept part for his own use, and of his bounty gave the remainder to its destined recipient. Thus death made no change in the relative positions of the feudal god and his worshippers. The worshipper who called himself the amakhû of the god during life was the subject and vassal of his mummied god even in the tomb;[*] and the god who, while living, reigned over the living, after his death continued to reign over the dead.
* The word amakhû is applied to an individual who has freely entered the service of king or baron, and taken him for his lord: amakhû khir nibuf means vassal of his lord. In the same way, each chose for himself a god who became his patron, and to whom he owed fealty, i.e. to whom he was amakhû—vassal. To the god he owed the service of a good vassal—tribute, sacrifices, offerings; and to his vassal the god owed in return the service of a suzerain— protection, food, reception into his dominions and access to his person. A man might be absolutely nib amahkît, master of fealty, or, relatively to a god, amakhû khir Osiri, the vassal of Osiris, amakhû khir Phtah-Sokari, the vassal of Phtah-Sokaris.
He dwelt in the city near the prince and in the midst of his subjects: Râ living in Heliopolis along with the prince of Heliopolis; Haroêris in Edfû together with the prince of Edfû; Nît in Saïs with the prince of Sais. Although none of the primitive temples have come down to us, the name given to them in the language of the time, shows what they originally were. A temple was considered as the feudal mansion—hâît,—the house—pirû, pi,—of the god, better cared for, and more respected than the houses of men, but not otherwise differing from them. It was built on a site slightly raised above the level of the plain, so as to be safe from the inundation, and where there was no natural mound, the want was supplied by raising a rectangular platform of earth. A layer of sand spread uniformly on the sub-soil provided against settlements or infiltration, and formed a bed for the foundations of the building.[*]
* This custom lasted into Græco-Roman times, and was part of the ritual for laying the foundations of a temple. After the king had dug out the soil on the ground where the temple was to stand, he spread over the spot sand mixed with pebbles and precious stones, and upon this he laid the first course of stone.
This was first of all a single room, circumscribed, gloomy, covered in by a slightly vaulted roof, and having no opening but the doorway, which was framed by two tall masts, whence floated streamers to attract from afar the notice of worshippers; in front of its façade [*] was a court, fenced in with palisading.
* No Egyptian temples of the first period have come down to our time, but Herr Erman has very justly remarked that we have pictures of them in several of the signs denoting the word temple in texts of the Memphite period.
2 A sculptor's model from Tanis, now in the Gîzeh Museum, drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey. The sacred marks, as given in the illustration, are copied from those of similar figures on stelæ of the Serapeum.
Within the temple were pieces of matting, low tables of stone, wood, or metal, a few utensils for cooking the offerings, a few vessels for containing the blood, oil, wine, and water with which the god was every day regaled. As provisions for sacrifice increased, the number of chambers increased with them, and rooms for flowers, perfumes, stuffs, precious vessels, and food were grouped around the primitive abode; until that which had once constituted the whole temple became no more than its sanctuary. There the god dwelt, not only in spirit but in body,[*] and the fact that it was incumbent upon him to live in several cities did not prevent his being present in all of them at once. He could divide his double, imparting it to as many separate bodies as he pleased, and these bodies might be human or animal, natural objects or things manufactured—such as statues of stone, metal, or wood.[**] Several of the gods were incarnate in rams: Osiris at Mendes, Harshafitû at Heracleopolis, Khnûmû at Elephantine. Living rams were kept in their temples, and allowed to gratify any fancy that came into their animal brains. Other gods entered into bulls: Râ at Heliopolis, and, subsequently, Phtah at Memphis, Minû at Thebes, and Montû at Hermonthis. They indicated beforehand by certain marks such beasts as they intended to animate by. their doubles, and he who had learnt to recognize these signs was at no loss to find a living god when the time came for seeking one and presenting it to the adoration of worshippers in the temple.[***]
* Thus at Denderah, it is said that the soul of Hâthor likes to leave heaven "in the form of a human-headed sparrow-hawk of lapis-lazuli, accompanied by her divine cycle, to come and unite herself to the statue." "Other instances," adds Mariette, "would seem to justify us in thinking that the Egyptians accorded a certain kind of life to the statues and images which they made, and believed (especially in connection with tombs) that the spirit haunted images of itself." ** Maspero, Études de Mythologie et l'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. i. p. 77, et seq.; Archéologie Égyptienne, pp. 106, 107; English edition, pp. 105, 106. This notion of actuated statues seemed so strange and so unworthy of the wisdom of the Egyptians that Egyptologists of the rank of M. de Rougé have taken in an abstract and metaphorical sense expressions referring to the automatic movements of divine images. *** The bulls of Râ and of Phtah, the Mnevis and the Hapis, are known to us from classic writers. The bull of Minû at Thebes may be seen in the procession of the god as represented on monuments of Ramses II. and Ramses III. Bâkhû (called Bakis by the Greeks), the bull of Hermonthis, is somewhat rare, and mainly represented upon a few later stelæ in the Gîzeh Museum; it is chiefly known from the texts. The particular signs distinguishing each of these sacred animals have been determined both on the authority of ancient writers, and from examination of the figured monuments; the arrangement and outlines of some of the black markings of the Hapis are clearly shown in the illustration on p. 167.
And if the statues had not the same outward appearance of actual life as the animals, they none the less concealed beneath their rigid exteriors an intense energy of life which betrayed itself on occasion by gestures or by words. They thus indicated, in language which their servants could understand, the will of the gods, or their opinion on the events of the day; they answered questions put to them in accordance with prescribed forms, and sometimes they even foretold the future.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph taken in the tomb of Khopirkerîsonbû. The inscription behind the urseus states that it represents Banûît the August, lady of the double granary.
Each temple held a fairly large number of statues representing so many embodiments of the local divinity and of the members of his triad. These latter shared, albeit in a lesser degree, all the honours and all the prerogatives of the master; they accepted sacrifices, answered prayers, and, if needful, they prophesied. They occupied either the sanctuary itself, or one of the halls built about the principal sanctuary, or one of the isolated chapels which belonged to them, subject to the suzerainty of the feudal god. The god has his divine court to help him in the administration of his dominions, just as a prince is aided by his ministers in the government of his realm.
This State religion, so complex both in principle and in its outward manifestations, was nevertheless inadequate to express the exuberant piety of the populace. There were casual divinities in every nome whom the people did not love any the less because of their inofficial character; such as an exceptionally high palm tree in the midst of the desert, a rock of curious outline, a spring trickling drop by drop from the mountain to which hunters came to slake their thirst in the hottest hours of the day, or a great serpent believed to be immortal, which haunted a field, a grove of trees, a grotto, or a mountain ravine.[*]
* It was a serpent of this kind which gave its name to the hill of Shêikh Harîdî, and the adjacent nome of the Serpent Mountain; and though the serpent has now turned Mussulman, he still haunts the mountain and preserves his faculty of coming to life again every time that he is killed.
The peasants of the district brought it bread, cakes, fruits, and thought that they could call down the blessing of heaven upon their fields by gorging the snake with offerings. Everywhere on the confines of cultivated ground, and even at some distance from the valley, are fine single sycamores, flourishing as though by miracle amid the sand.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a scene in the tomb of Khopirkerîsonbû. The sacred sycamore here stands at the end of a field of corn, and would seem to extend its protection to the harvest.
Their fresh greenness is in sharp contrast with the surrounding fawn-coloured landscape, and their thick foliage defies the midday sun even in summer. But, on examining the ground in which they grow, we soon find that they drink from water which has infiltrated from the Nile, and whose existence is in nowise betrayed upon the surface of the soil. They stand as it were with their feet in the river, though no one about them suspects it. Egyptians of all ranks counted them divine and habitually worshipped them,[**] making them offerings of figs, grapes, cucumbers, vegetables, and water in porous jars daily replenished by good and charitable people.
** Maspero, Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. pp. 224—227. They were represented as animated by spirits concealed within them, but which could manifest themselves on occasion. At such times the head or whole body of the spirit of a tree would emerge from its trunk, and when it returned to its hiding-place the trunk reabsorbed it, or ate it again, according to the Egyptian expression, which I have already had occasion to quote above; see p. 110, note 3.
Passers-by drank of the water, and requited the unexpected benefit with a short prayer. There were several such trees in the Memphite nome, and in the Letopolite nome from Dashûr to Gîzeh, inhabited, as every one knew, by detached doubles of Nûît and Hâthor. These combined districts were known as the "Land of the Sycamore," a name afterwards extended to the city of Memphis; and their sacred trees are worshipped at the present day both by Mussulman and Christian fellahîn.[*]
* The tree at Matarîeh, commonly called the Tree of the Virgin, seems to me to be the successor of a sacred tree of Heliopolis in which a goddess, perhaps Hâthor, was worshipped.
The most famous among them all, the Sycamore of the South—nûhît rîsit—was regarded as the living body of Hâthor on earth. Side by side with its human gods and prophetic statues, each nome proudly advanced one or more sacred animals, one or more magic trees. Each family, and almost every individual, also possessed gods and fetishes, which had been pointed out for their worship by some fortuitous meeting with an animal or an object; by a dream, or by sudden intuition. They had a place in some corner of the house, or a niche in its walls; lamps were continually kept burning before them, and small daily offerings were made to them, over and above what fell to their share on solemn feast-days. In return, they became the protectors of the household, its guardians and its counsellors. Appeal was made to them in every exigency of daily life, and their decisions were no less scrupulously carried out by their little circle of worshippers, than was the will of the feudal god by the inhabitants of his principality.
1 Bas-relief from the temple of Seti I. at Abydos; drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by M. Daniel Héron. Seti I., second king of the XIXth dynasty, is throwing the lasso; his son, Ramses II., who is still the crown prince, holds the bull by the tail to prevent its escaping from the slipknot.
The prince was the great high priest. The whole religion of the nome rested upon him, and originally he himself performed its ceremonies. Of these, the chief was sacrifice,—that is to say, a banquet which it was his duty to prepare and lay before the god with his own hands. He went out into the fields to lasso the half-wild bull; bound it, cut its throat, skinned it, burnt part of the carcase in front of his idol and distributed the rest among his assistants, together with plenty of cakes, fruits, vegetables, and wine.[*] On the occasion, the god was present both in body and double, suffering himself to be clothed and perfumed, eating and drinking of the best that was set on the table before him, and putting aside some of the provisions for future use. This was the time to prefer requests to him, while he was gladdened and disposed to benevolence by good cheer. He was not without suspicion as to the reason why he was so feasted, but he had laid down his conditions beforehand, and if they were faithfully observed he willingly yielded to the means of seduction brought to bear upon him. Moreover, he himself had arranged the ceremonial in a kind of contract formerly made with his worshippers and gradually perfected from age to age by the piety of new generations.[**] Above all things, he insisted on physical cleanliness. The officiating priest must carefully wash—ûâbû—his face, mouth, hands, and body; and so necessary was this preliminary purification considered, that from it the professional priest derived his name of ûîbû, the washed, the clean.[***]
* This appears from the sacrificial ritual employed in the temples up to the last days of Egyptian paganism; cf., for instance, the illustration on p. 173, where the king is represented as lassoing the bull. That which in historic times was but an image, had originally been a reality. ** The most striking example of the divine institution of religious services is furnished by the inscription relating the history of the destruction of men in the reign of Râ, where the god, as he is about to make his final ascension into heaven, substitutes animal for human sacrifices. *** The idea of physical cleanliness comes out in such variants as ûîbû totûi, "clean of both hands," found on stelae instead of the simple title ûîbû. We also know, on the evidence of ancient writers, the scrupulous daily care which Egyptian priests took of their bodies. It was only as a secondary matter that the idea of moral purity entered into the conception of a priest.
His costume was the archaic dress, modified according to circumstances. During certain services, or at certain points in the sacrifices, it was incumbent upon him to wear sandals, the panther-skin over his shoulder, and the thick lock of hair falling over his right ear; at other times he must gird himself with the loin-cloth having a jackal's tail, and take the shoes from off his feet before proceeding with his office, or attach a false beard to his chin. The species, hair, and age of the victim, the way in which it was to be brought and bound, the manner and details of its slaughter, the order to be followed in opening its body and cutting it up, were all minutely and unchangeably decreed. And these were but the least of the divine exactions, and those most easily satisfied. The formulas accompanying each act of the sacrificial priest contained a certain number of words whose due sequence and harmonies might not suffer the slightest modification whatever, even from the god himself, under penalty of losing their efficacy.[*]
* The Purification Ritual for officiating priests is contained in a papyrus of the Berlin Museum, whose analysis and table of chapters has been published by Herr Oscar von Lemm, Das Bitualbuch des Ammonsdienstes, p. 4, et seq.
They were always recited with the same rhythm, according to a system of chaunting in which every tone had its virtue, combined with movements which confirmed the sense and worked with irresistible effect: one false note, a single discord between the succession of gestures and the utterance of the sacramental words, any hesitation, any awkwardness in the accomplishment of a rite, and the sacrifice was vain.
Worship as thus conceived became a legal transaction, in the course of which the god gave up his liberty in exchange for certain compensations whose kind and value were fixed by law. By a solemn deed of transfer the worshipper handed over to the legal representatives of the contracting divinity such personal or real property as seemed to him fitting payment for the favour which he asked, or suitable atonement for the wrong which he had done. If man scrupulously observed the innumerable conditions with which the transfer was surrounded, the god could not escape the obligation of fulfilling his petition;[*] but should he omit the least of them, the offering remained with the temple and went to increase the endowments in mortmain, while the god was pledged to nothing in exchange.
* This obligation is evident from texts where, as in the poem of Pentaûirît, a king who is in danger demands from his favourite god the equivalent in protection of the sacrifices which he has offered to that divinity, and the gifts wherewith he has enriched him. "Have I not made unto thee many offerings?" says Ramses II. to Amon. "I have filled thy temple with my prisoners, I have built thee a mansion for millions of years.... Ah if evil is the lot of them who insult thee, good are thy purposes towards those who honour thee, O Amon!"
Hence the officiating priest assumed a formidable responsibility as regarded his fellows: a slip of memory, the slightest accidental impurity, made him a bad priest, injurious to himself and harmful to those worshippers who had entrusted him with their interests before the gods. Since it was vain to expect ritualistic perfections from a prince constantly troubled with affairs of state, the custom was established of associating professional priests with him, personages who devoted all their lives to the study and practice of the thousand formalities whose sum constituted the local religion. Each temple had its service of priests, independent of those belonging to neighbouring temples, whose members, bound to keep their hands always clean and their voices true, were ranked according to the degrees of a learned hierarchy. At their head was a sovereign pontiff to direct them in the exercise of their functions. In some places he was called the first prophet, or rather the first servant of the god—hon-nûtir topi; at Thebes he was the first prophet of Amon, at Thinis he was the first prophet of Anhûri.[*]
* This title of first prophet belongs to priests of the less important towns, and to secondary divinities. If we find it employed in connection with the Theban worship, it is because Amon was originally a provincial god, and only rose into the first rank with the rise of Thebes and the great conquests of the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties.
But generally he bore a title appropriate to the nature of the god whose servant he was. The chief priest of Râ at Heliopolis, and in all the cities which adopted the Heliopolitan form of worship, was called Oîrû maû, the master of visions, and he alone besides the sovereign of the nome, or of Egypt, enjoyed the privilege of penetrating into the sanctuary, of "entering into heaven and there beholding the god" face to face. In the same way, the high priest of Anhûri at Sebennytos was entitled the wise and pure warrior—ahûîti saû uîbu—because his god went armed with a pike, and a soldier god required for his service a pontiff who should be a soldier like himself.
These great personages did not always strictly seclude themselves within the limits of the religious domain. The gods accepted, and even sometimes solicited, from their worshippers, houses, fields, vineyards, orchards, slaves, and fishponds, the produce of which assured their livelihood and the support of their temples. There was no Egyptian who did not cherish the ambition of leaving some such legacy to the patron god of his city, "for a monument to himself," and as an endowment for the priests to institute prayers and perpetual sacrifices on his behalf.[*] In course of time these accumulated gifts at length formed real sacred fiefs—hotpû-nûtir—analogous to the wakfs of Mussulman Egypt.[**] They were administered by the high priest, who, if necessary, defended them by force against the greed of princes or kings. Two, three, or even four classes of prophets or heiroduli under his orders assisted him in performing the offices of worship, in giving religious instruction, and in the conduct of affairs. Women did not hold equal rank with men in the temples of male deities; they there formed a kind of harem whence the god took his mystic spouses, his concubines, his maidservants, the female musicians and dancing women whose duty it was to divert him and to enliven his feasts. But in temples of goddesses they held the chief rank, and were called hierodules, or priestesses, hierodules of Nit, hierodules of Hâthor, hierodules of Pakhît.[***]
* As regards the Saïte period, we are beginning to accumulate many stelae recording gifts to a god of land or houses, made either by the king or by private individuals. ** We know from the Great Harris Papyrus to what the fortune of Amon amounted at the end of the reign of Ramses III.; its details may be found in Brugsch, Die Ægyptologie, pp. 271-274. Cf. in Naville, Bubastis, Eighth Memoir of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, p. 61, a calculation as to the quantities of precious metals belonging to one of the least of the temples of Bubastis; its gold and silver were counted by thousands of pounds. *** Mariette remarks that priests play but a subordinate part in the temple of Hâthor. This fact, which surprised him, is adequately explained by remembering that Hâthor being a goddess, women take precedence over men in a temple dedicated to her. At Sais, the chief priest was a man, the Tcharp-haîtû; but the persistence with which women of the highest rank, and even queens themselves, took the title of prophetess of Nit from the times of the Ancient Empire shows that in this city the priestess of the goddess was of equal, if not superior, rank to the priest.
The lower offices in the households of the gods, as in princely households, were held by a troop of servants and artisans: butchers to cut the throats of the victims, cooks and pastrycooks, confectioners, weavers, shoemakers, florists, cellarers, water-carriers and milk-carriers. In fact, it was a state within a state, and the prince took care to keep its government in his own hands, either by investing one of his children with the titles and functions of chief pontiff', or by arrogating them to himself. In that case, he provided against mistakes which would have annulled the sacrifice by associating with himself several masters of the ceremonies, who directed him in the orthodox evolutions before the god and about the victim, indicated the due order of gestures and the necessary changes of costume, and prompted him with the words of each invocation from a book or tablet which they held in their hands.[*]
* The title of such a personage was khri-habi, the man with the roll or tablet, because of the papyrus roll, or wooden tablet containing the ritual, which he held in his hand.
In addition to its rites and special hierarchy, each of the sacerdotal colleges thus constituted had a theology in accordance with the nature and attributes of its god. Its fundamental dogma affirmed the unity of the nome god, his greatness, his supremacy over all the gods of Egypt and of foreign lands[*]—whose existence was nevertheless admitted, and none dreamed of denying their reality or contesting their power.
* In the inscriptions all local gods bear the titles of Nûtir ûâ, only god; Sûton nûtirû, Sûntirû, [ Greek word], king of the gods; of Nûtir âa nib pit, the great god, lord of heaven, which show their pretensions to the sovereignty and to the position of creator of the universe.
The latter also boasted of their unity, their greatness, their supremacy; but whatever they were, the god of the nome was master of them all—their prince, their ruler, their king. It was he alone who governed the world, he alone kept it in good order, he alone had created it. Not that he had evoked it out of nothing; there was as yet no concept of nothingness, and even to the most subtle and refined of primitive theologians creation was only a bringing of pre-existent elements into play.
2 Drawing by Faucher-Gudin of a green enamelled statuette in my possession. It was from Shu that the Greeks derived their representations, and perhaps their myth of Atlas.
The latent germs of things had always existed, but they had slept for ages and ages in the bosom of the Nû, of the dark waters. In fulness of time the god of each nome drew them forth, classified them, marshalled them according to the bent of his particular nature, and made his universe out of them by methods peculiarly his own. Nît of Saïs, who was a weaver, had made the world of warp and woof, as the mother of a family weaves her children's linen.
Khnûmû, the Nile-God of the cataracts, had gathered up the mud of his waters and therewith moulded his creatures upon a potter's table. In the eastern cities of the Delta these procedures were not so simple. There it was admitted that in the beginning earth and sky were two lovers lost in the Nû, fast locked in each other's embrace, the god lying beneath the goddess. On the day of creation a new god, Shu, came forth from the primaeval waters, slipped between the two, and seizing Nûît with both hands, lifted her above his head with outstretched arms.[*]
* This was what the Egyptians called the upliftings of Shû. The event first took place at Hermopolis, and certain legends added that in order to get high enough the god had been obliged to make use of a staircase or mound situate in this city, and which was famous throughout Egypt.
Though the starry body of the goddess extended in space—her head being to the west and her loins to the east—her feet and hands hung down to the earth. These were the four pillars of the firmament under another form, and four gods of four adjacent principalities were in charge of them. Osiris, or Horus the sparrow-hawk, presided over the southern, and Sit over the northern pillar; Thot over that of the west, and Sapdi, the author of the zodiacal light, over that of the east. They had divided the world among themselves into four regions, or rather into four "houses," bounded by those mountains which surround it, and by the diameters intersecting between the pillars. Each of these houses belonged to one, and to one only; none of the other three, nor even the sun himself, might enter it, dwell there, or even pass through it without having obtained its master's permission. Sibu had not been satisfied to meet the irruption of Shû by mere passive resistance. He had tried to struggle, and he is drawn in the posture of a man who has just awakened out of sleep, and is half turning on his couch before getting up. One of his legs is stretched out, the other is bent and partly drawn up as in the act of rising. The lower part of the body is still unmoved, but he is raising himself with difficulty on his left elbow, while his head droops and his right arm is lifted towards the sky. His effort was suddenly arrested. Rendered powerless by a stroke of the creator, Sibû remained as if petrified in this position, the obvious irregularities of the earth's surface being due to the painful attitude in which he was stricken. His sides have since been clothed with verdure, generations of men and animals have succeeded each other upon his back, but without bringing any relief to his pain; he suffers evermore from the violent separation of which he was the victim when Nûît was torn from him, and his complaint continues to rise to heaven night and day.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a painting on the mummy-case of Bûtehamon in the Turin Museum. "Shû, the great god, lord of heaven," receives the adoration of two ram-headed souls placed upon his right and left.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a specimen in blue enamelled pottery, now in my possession.
2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a figure frequently found in Theban mummy-cases of XXIst and XXIInd dynasties (Wilkinson, Manners and Customs. 2nd edit., vol. iii. pl. xxv., No 5).
The aspect of the inundated plains of the Delta, of the river by which they are furrowed and fertilized, and of the desert sands by which they are threatened, had suggested to the theologians of Mendes and Bûto an explanation of the mystery of creation, in which the feudal divinities of these cities and of several others in their neighbourhood, Osiris, Sit, and Isis, played the principal parts. Osiris first represented the wild and fickle Nile of primitive times; afterwards, as those who dwelt upon his banks learned to regulate his course, they emphasized the kindlier side of his character and soon transformed him into a benefactor of humanity, the supremely good being, Ûnnofriû, Onnophris.[*] He was lord of the principality of Didû, which lay along the Sebennytic branch of the river between the coast marshes and the entrance to the Wâdy Tûmilât, but his domain had been divided; and the two nomes thus formed, namely, the ninth and sixteenth nomes of the Delta in the Pharaonic lists, remained faithful to him, and here he reigned without rival, at Busiris as at Mendes. His most famous idol-form was the Didû, whether naked or clothed, the fetish, formed of four superimposed columns, which had given its name to the principality.[**]
* It has long been a dogma with Egyptologists that Osiris came from Abydos. Maspero has shown that from his very titles he is obviously a native of the Delta, and more especially of Busiris and Mendes. ** The Didû has been very variously interpreted. It has been taken for a kind of nilometer, for a sculptor's or modeller's stand, or a painter's easel for an altar with four superimposed tables, or a sort of pedestal bearing four door-lintels, for a series of four columns placed one behind another, of which the capitals only are visible, one above the other, etc. The explanation given in the text is that of Reuvens, who recognized the Didû as a symbolic representation of the four regions of the world; and of Maspero, Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. p. 359, note 3. According to Egyptian theologians, it represented the spine of Osiris, preserved as a relic in the town bearing the name of Didû, Bidît.
1 Drawn by Boudier from a statue in green basalt found at Sakkarah, and now in the Gîzeh Museum.
They ascribed life to this Didû, and represented it with a somewhat grotesque face, big cheeks, thick lips, a necklace round its throat, a long flowing dress which hid the base of the columns beneath its folds, and two arms bent across the breast, the hands grasping one a whip and the other a crook, symbols of sovereign authority. This, perhaps, was the most ancient form of Osiris; but they also represented him as a man, and supposed him to assume the shapes of rams and bulls,[*] or even those of water-birds, such as lapwings, herons, and cranes, which disported themselves about the lakes of that district.[**]
* The ram of Mendes is sometimes Osiris, and sometimes the soul of Osiris. The ancients took it for a he-goat, and to them we are indebted for the record of its exploits. According to Manetho, the worship of the sacred ram is not older than the time of King Kaiekhos of the second dynasty. A Ptolemaic necropolis of sacred rams was discovered by Mariette at Tmai el-Amdid, in the ruins of Thmûis, and some of their sarcophagi are now in the Gîzeh Museum. ** The Bonû, the chief among these birds, is not the phoenix, as has so often been asserted. It is a kind of heron, either the Ardea cinerea, which is common in Egypt, or else some similar species.
The goddess whom we are accustomed to regard as inseparable from him, Isis the cow, or woman with cow's horns, had not always belonged to him. Originally she was an independent deity, dwelling at Bûto in the midst of the ponds of Adhû. She had neither husband nor lover, but had spontaneously conceived and given birth to a son, whom she suckled among the reeds—a lesser Horus who was called Harsiîsît, Horus the son of Isis, to distinguish him from Haroêris. At an early period she was married to her neighbour Osiris, and no marriage could have been better suited to her nature. For she personified the earth—not the earth in general, like Sibu, with its unequal distribution of seas and mountains, deserts and cultivated land; but the black and luxuriant plain of the Delta, where races of men, plants, and animals increase and multiply in ever-succeeding generations. To whom did she owe this inexhaustible productive energy if not to her neighbour Osiris, to the Nile? The Nile rises, overflows, lingers upon the soil; every year it is wedded to the earth, and the earth comes forth green and fruitful from its embraces.
1 Drawn by Boudier from a green basalt statue in the Gîzeh Museum. Prom a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey.
The marriage of the two elements suggested that of the two divinities; Osiris wedded Isis and adopted the young Horus. But this prolific and gentle pair were not representative of all the phenomena of nature. The eastern part of the Delta borders upon the solitudes of Arabia, and although it contains several rich and fertile provinces, yet most of these owe their existence to the arduous labour of the inhabitants, their fertility being dependent on the daily care of man, and on his regular distribution of the water. The moment he suspends the straggle or relaxes his watchfulness, the desert reclaims them and overwhelms them with sterility. Sit was the spirit of the mountain, stone and sand, the red and arid ground as distinguished from the moist black soil of the valley. On the body of a lion or of a dog he bore a fantastic head with a slender curved snout, upright and square-cut ears; his cloven tail rose stiffly behind him, springing from his loins like a fork. He also assumed a human form, or retained the animal head only upon a man's shoulders. He was felt to be cruel and treacherous, always ready to shrivel up the harvest with his burning breath, and to smother Egypt beneath a shroud of shifting sand. The contrast between this evil being and the beneficent couple, Osiris and Isis, was striking. Nevertheless, the theologians of the Delta soon assigned a common origin to these rival divinities of Nile and desert, red land and black. Sibû had begotten them, Nûît had given birth to them one after another when the demiurge had separated her from her husband; and the days of their birth were the days of creation.[*]
* According to one legend which is comparatively old in origin, the fous* children of Nûît, and Horus her grandson, were born one after another, each on one of the intercalary days of the year. This legend was still current in the Greek period.
At first each of them had kept to his own half of the world. Moreover Sit, who had begun by living alone, had married, in order that he might be inferior to Osiris in nothing.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a painted wooden statuette in my possession, from a funeral couch found at Akhmîm. On her head the goddess bears the hieroglyph for her name; she is kneeling at the foot of the funeral couch of Osiris and weeps for the dead god. 2 Bronze statuette of the XXth dynasty, encrusted with gold, from the Hoffmann collection: drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a photograph taken by Legrain in 1891. About the time when the worship of Sît was proscribed, one of the Egyptian owners of this little monument had endeavoured to alter its character, and to transform it into a statuette of the god Khnûmû. He took out the upright ears, replacing them with ram's horns, but made no other change. In the drawing I have had the later addition of the curved horns removed, and restored the upright ears, whose marks may still be seen upon the sides of the head-dress.
As a matter of fact, his companion, Nephthys, did not manifest any great activity, and was scarcely more than an artificial counterpart of the wife of Osiris, a second Isis who bore no children to her husband;[*] for the sterile desert brought barrenness to her as to all that it touched.
* The impersonal character of Nephthys, her artificial origin, and her derivation from Isis, have been pointed out by Maspero (Études de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Égyptiennes, vol. ii. pp. 362-364). The very name of the goddess, which means the lady (nibît) of the mansion (haït), confirms this view. [Illustration: 190.jpg PLAN OF THE RUINS OF HELIOPOLIS. 2] 2 Drawn by Thuillier, from the Description de l'Egypte (Atlas, Ant., vol. v. pl. 26, 1).
Yet she had lost neither the wish nor the power to bring forth, and sought fertilization from another source. Tradition had it that she had made Osiris drunken, drawn him to her arms without his knowledge, and borne him a son; the child of this furtive union was the jackal Anubis. Thus when a higher Nile overflows lands not usually covered by the inundation, and lying unproductive for lack of moisture, the soil eagerly absorbs the water, and the germs which lay concealed in the ground burst forth into life. The gradual invasion of the domain of Sît by Osiris marks the beginning of the strife. Sit rebels against the wrong of which he is the victim, involuntary though it was; he surprises and treacherously slays his brother, drives Isis into temporary banishment among her marshes, and reigns over the kingdom of Osiris as well as over his own. But his triumph is short-lived. Horus, having grown up, takes arms against him, defeats him in many encounters, and banishes him in his turn. The creation of the world had brought the destroying and the life-sustaining gods face to face: the history of the world is but the story of their rivalries and warfare.
None of these conceptions alone sufficed to explain the whole mechanism of creation, nor the part which the various gods took in it. The priests of Heliopolis appropriated them all, modified some of their details and eliminated others, added several new personages, and thus finally constructed a complete cosmogony, the elements of which were learnedly combined so as to correspond severally with the different operations by which the world had been evoked out of chaos and gradually brought to its present state. Heliopolis was never directly involved in the great revolutions of political history; but no city ever originated so many mystic ideas and consequently exercised so great an influence upon the development of civilization.[*]
* By its inhabitants it was accounted older than any other city of Egypt.
2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Béato of a bas-relief in the temple of Seti I. at Abydos. The two gods are conducting King Ramses II., here identified with Osiris, towards the goddess Hâthor.
It was a small town built on the plain not far from the Nile at the apex of the Delta, and surrounded by a high wall of mud bricks whose remains could still be seen at the beginning of the century, but which have now almost completely disappeared.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin. The open lotus-flower, with a bud on either side, stands upon the usual sign for any water- basin. Here the sign represents the Nû, that dark watery abyss from which the lotus sprang on the morning of creation, and whereon it is still supposed to bloom.
One obelisk standing in the midst of the open plain, a few waste mounds of débris, scattered blocks, and two or three lengths of crumbling wall, alone mark the place where once the city stood. Ka was worshipped there, and the Greek name of Heliopolis is but the translation of that which was given to it by the priests—Pi-ra, City of the Sun. Its principal temple, the "Mansion of the Prince," rose from about the middle of the enclosure, and sheltered, together with the god himself, those animals in which he became incarnate: the bull Mnevis, and sometimes the Phoenix. According to an old legend, this wondrous bird appeared in Egypt only once in five hundred years. It is born and lives in the depths of Arabia, but when its father dies it covers the body with a layer of myrrh, and flies at utmost speed to the temple of Helio-polis, there to bury it.[*]
* The Phoenix is not the Bonû (cf. p. 186, note 2), but a fabulous bird derived from the golden sparrow-hawk, which was primarily a form of Haroêris, and of the sun-gods in second place only. On the authority of his Heliopolitan guides, Herodotus tells us (ii. 83) that in shape and size the phoenix resembled the eagle, and this statement alone should have sufficed to prevent any attempt at identifying it with the Bonû, which is either a heron or a lapwing.
2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a water-colour published by Lepsius, Denkm., i. 56. The view is taken from the midst of the ruins at the foot of the obelisk of Usirtasen. A little stream runs in the foreground, and passes through a muddy pool; to right and left are mounds of ruins, which were then considerable, but have since been partially razed. In the distance Cairo rises against the south-west.
In the beginning, Râ was the sun itself, whose fires appear to be lighted every morning in the east and to be extinguished at evening in the west; and to the people such he always remained. Among the theologians there was considerable difference of opinion on the point. Some held the disk of the sun to be the body which the god assumes when presenting himself for the adoration of his worshippers. Others affirmed that it rather represented his active and radiant soul. Finally, there were many who defined it as one of his forms of being—khopriû—one of his self-manifestations, without presuming to decide whether it was his body or his soul which he deigned to reveal to human eyes; but whether soul or body, all agreed that the sun's disk had existed in the Nû before creation. But how could it have lain beneath the primordial ocean without either drying up the waters or being extinguished by them? At this stage the identification of Râ with Horus and his right eye served the purpose of the theologians admirably: the god needed only to have closed his eyelid in order to prevent his fires from coming in contact with the water.[*]
* This is clearly implied in the expression so often used by the sacred writers of Ancient Egypt in reference to the appearance of the sun and his first act at the time of creation: "Thou openest the two eyes, and earth is flooded with rays of light."
He was also said to have shut up his disk within a lotus-bud, whose folded petals had safely protected it. The flower had opened on the morning of the first day, and from it the god had sprung suddenly as a child wearing the solar disk upon his head. But all theories led the theologians to distinguish two periods, and as it were two beings in the existence of supreme deity: a pre-mundane sun lying inert within the bosom of the dark waters, and our living and life-giving sun.
1 Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger of an outer wall of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. Harmakhis grants years and festivals to the Pharaoh Seti I., who kneels before him, and is presented by the lioness-headed goddess Sokhît, here described as a magician—Oîrît hilcaû.
One division of the Heliopolitan school retained the use of traditional terms and images in reference to these Sun-gods. To the first it left the human form, and the title of Râ, with the abstract sense of creator, deriving the name from the verb râ, which means to give. For the second it kept the form of the sparrow-hawk and the name of Harma-khûîti—Horus in the two horizons—which clearly denoted his function;[*] and it summed up the idea of the sun as a whole in the single name of Râ-Harmakhûîti, and in a single image in which the hawk-head of Horus was grafted upon the human body of Râ. The other divisions of the school invented new names for new conceptions. The sun existing before the world they called Creator—Tûmû, Atûmû [**]—and our earthly sun they called Khopri—He who is.
* Harmakhûîti is Horus, the sky of the two horizons; i.e. the sky of the daytime, and the night sky. When the celestial Horus was confounded with Râ, and became the sun (cf. p. 133), he naturally also became the sun of the two horizons, the sun by day, and the sun by night. ** E. de Rouge, Études sur le Rituel funéraire, p. 76: "His name may be connected with two radicals. Tem is a negation; it may be taken to mean the Inapproachable One, the Unknown (as in Thebes, where Aman means mystery). Atûm is, in fact, described as 'existing alone in the abyss,' before the appearance of light. It was in this time of darkness that Atûm performed the first act of creation, and this allows of our also connecting his name with the Coptic tamio, creare. Atûm was also the prototype of man (in Coptic tme, homo), and becomes a perfect 'tûm' after his resurrection." Rugsch would rather explain Tûmû as meaning the Perfect One, the Complete. E. de Rougé's philological derivations are no longer admissible; but his explanation of the name corresponds so well with the part played by the god that I fail to see how that can be challenged.
Tûmû was a man crowned and clothed with the insignia of supreme power, a true king of gods, majestic and impassive as the Pharaohs who succeeded each other upon the throne of Egypt. The conception of Khopri as a disk enclosing a scarabæus, or a man with a scarabous upon his head, or a scarabus-headed mummy, was suggested by the accidental alliteration of his name and that of Khopirrû, the scarabæus. The difference between the possible forms of the god was so slight as to be eventually lost altogether. His names were grouped by twos and threes in every conceivable way, and the scarabæus of Khopri took its place upon the head of Râ, while the hawk headpiece was transferred from the shoulders of Harmakhûîti to those of Tûmû. The complex beings resulting from these combinations, Râ-Tûmû, Atûmû-Râ, Râ-Tûmû-Khopri, Râ-Harmakhûîti-Tûmû, Tûm-Harmakhûîti-Khopri, never attained to any pronounced individuality.
They were as a rule simple duplicates of the feudal god, names rather than persons, and though hardly taken for one another indiscriminately, the distinctions between them had reference to mere details of their functions and attributes. Hence arose the idea of making these gods into embodiments of the main phases in the life of the sun during the day and throughout the year. Râ symbolized the sun of springtime and before sunrise, Harmakhûîti the summer and the morning sun, Atûmû the sun of autumn and of afternoon, Khopri that of winter and of night. The people of Heliopolis accepted the new names and the new forms presented for their worship, but always subordinated them to their beloved Râ. For them Râ never ceased to be the god of the nome; while Atûmû remained the god of the theologians, and was invoked by them, the people preferred Râ. At Thinis and at Sebennytos Anhûri incurred the same fate as befell Râ at Heliopolis. After he had been identified with the sun, the similar identification of Shû inevitably followed. Of old, Anhûri and Shû were twin gods, incarnations of sky and earth. They were soon but one god in two persons—the god Anhûri-Shû, of which the one half under the title of Auhûri represented, like Atûmû, the primordial being; and Shû, the other half, became, as his name indicates, the creative sun-god who upholds (shû) the sky.
Tûrnû then, rather than Râ, was placed by the Heliopolitan priests at the head of their cosmogony as supreme creator and governor. Several versions were current as to how he had passed from inertia into action, from the personage of Tûmû into that of Râ. According to the version most widely received, he had suddenly cried across the waters, "Come unto me!"[*] and immediately the mysterious lotus had unfolded its petals, and Râ had appeared at the edge of its open cup as a disk, a newborn child, or a disk-crowned sparrow-hawk; this was probably a refined form of a ruder and earlier tradition, according to which it was upon Râ himself that the office had devolved of separating Sibû from Nûît, for the purpose of constructing the heavens and the earth.
* It was on this account that the Egyptians named the first day of the year the Day of Come-unto-me!
But it was doubtless felt that so unseemly an act of intervention was beneath the dignity even of an inferior form of the suzerain god; Shû was therefore borrowed for the purpose from the kindred cult of Anhûri, and at Heliopolis, as at Sebennytos, the office was entrusted to him of seizing the sky-goddess and raising her with outstretched arms. The violence suffered by Nûît at the hands of Shû led to a connexion of the Osirian dogma of Mendes with the solar dogma of Sebennytos, and thus the tradition describing the creation of the world was completed by another, explaining its division into deserts and fertile lands. Sîbû, hitherto concealed beneath the body of his wife, was now exposed to the sun; Osiris and Sit, Isis and Nephthys, were born, and, falling from the sky, their mother, on to the earth, their father, they shared the surface of the latter among themselves. Thus the Heliopolitan doctrine recognized three principal events in the creation of the universe: the dualization of the supreme god and the breaking forth of light, the raising of the sky and the laying bare of the earth, the birth of the Nile and the allotment of the soil of Egypt, all expressed as the manifestations of successive deities. Of these deities, the latter ones already constituted a family of father, mother, and children, like human families. Learned theologians availed themselves of this example to effect analogous relationships between the rest of the gods, combining them all into one line of descent. As Atûmû-Râ could have no fellow, he stood apart in the first rank, and it was decided that Shû should be his son, whom he had formed out of himself alone, on the first day of creation, by the simple intensity of his own virile energy. Shû, reduced to the position of divine son, had in his turn begotten Sibû and Nûît, the two deities which he separated. Until then he had not been supposed to have any wife, and he also might have himself brought his own progeny into being; but lest a power of spontaneous generation equal to that of the demiurge should be ascribed to him, he was married, and the wife found for him was Tafnûît, his twin sister, born in the same way as he was born. This goddess, invented for the occasion, was never fully alive, and remained, like Nephthys, a theological entity rather than a real person. The texts describe her as the pale reflex of her husband.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a vignette in the papyrus of Ani in the British Museum, published by Lepage-Renouf in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, vol. xi., 1889-90, pp. 26-28. The inscription above the lion on the right reads safu, "yesterday;" the other, dûaû, "this morning."
Together with him she upholds the sky, and every morning receives the newborn sun as it emerges from the mountain of the east; she is a lioness when Shû is a lion, a woman when he is a man, a lioness-headed woman if he is a lion-headed man; she is angry when he is angry, appeased when he is appeased; she has no sanctuary wherein he is not worshipped. In short, the pair made one being in two bodies, or, to use the Egyptian expression, "one soul in its two twin bodies."
Hence we see that the Heliopolitans proclaimed the creation to be the work of the sun-god, Atûmû-Râ, and of the four pairs of deities who were descended from him. It was really a learned variant of the old doctrine that the universe was composed of a sky-god, Horus, supported by his four children and their four pillars: in fact, the four sons of the Heliopolitan cosmogony, Shû and Sibû, Osiris and Sit, were occasionally substituted for the four older gods of the "houses" of the world. This being premised, attention must be given to the important differences between the two systems. At the outset, instead of appearing contemporaneously upon the scene, like the four children of Horus, the four Heliopolitan gods were deduced one from another, and succeeded each other in the order of their birth. They had not that uniform attribute of supporter, associating them always with one definite function, but each of them felt himself endowed with faculties and armed with special powers required by his condition. Ultimately they took to themselves goddesses, and thus the total number of beings working in different ways at the organization of the universe was brought up to nine. Hence they were called by the collective name of the Ennead, the Nine gods—paûit nûtîrû,[*]—and the god at their head was entitled Paûîti, the god of the Ennead.
* The first Egyptologists confounded the sign used in writing paûît with the sign kh, and the word khet, other. E. de Rougé was the first to determine its phonetic value: "it should be read Paû, and designates a body of gods." Shortly afterwards Beugsch proved that "the group of gods invoked by E. de Rougé must have consisted of nine "— of an Ennead. This explanation was not at first admitted either by Lepsius or by Mariette, who had proposed a mystic interpretation of the word in his Mémoire sur la mère d'Apis, or by E. de Rougé, or by Chabas. The interpretation a Nine, an Ennead, was not frankly adopted until later, and more especially after the discovery of the Pyramid texts; to-day, it is the only meaning admitted. Of course the Egyptian Ennead has no other connection than that of name with the Enneads of the Neo-Platonists.
When creation was completed, its continued existence was ensured by countless agencies with whose operation the persons of the Ennead were not at leisure to concern themselves, but had ordained auxiliaries to preside over each of the functions essential to the regular and continued working of all things. The theologians of Heliopolis selected eighteen from among the innumerable divinities of the feudal cults of Egypt, and of these they formed two secondary Enneads, who were regarded as the offspring of the Ennead of the creation. The first of the two secondary Enneads, generally known as the Minor Ennead, recognized as chief Harsiesis, the son of Osiris. Harsiesis was originally an earth-god who had avenged the assassination of his father and the banishment of his mother by Sit; that is, he had restored fulness to the Nile and fertility to the Delta. When Harsiesis was incorporated into the solar religions of Heliopolis, his filiation was left undisturbed as being a natural link between the two Enneads, but his personality was brought into conformity with the new surroundings into which he was transplanted. He was identified with Râ through the intervention of the older Horus, Haroêris-Harmakhis, and the Minor Ennead, like the Great Ennead, began with a sun-god. This assimilation was not pushed so far as to invest the younger Horus with the same powers as his fictitious ancestor: he was the sun of earth, the everyday sun, while Atûmû-Râ was still the sun pre-mundane and eternal. Our knowledge of the eight other deities of the Minor Ennead is very imperfect.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Wilkinson's Manners and Customs, 2nd edit., vol. iii. p. 221, pl. xlviii.
We see only that these were the gods who chiefly protected the sun-god against its enemies and helped it to follow its regular course. Thus Harhûditi, the Horus of Edfû, spear in hand, pursues the hippopotami or serpents which haunt the celestial waters and menace the god. The progress of the Sun-bark is controlled by the incantations of Thot, while Uapûaîtû, the dual jackal-god of Siufc, guides, and occasionally tows it along the sky from south to north. The third Ennead would seem to have included among its members Anubis the jackal, and the four funerary genii, the children of Horus—Hapi, Amsît, Tiûmaûtf, Kabhsonûf; it further appears as though its office was the care and defence of the dead sun, the sun by night, as the second Ennead had charge of the living sun. Its functions were so obscure and apparently so insignificant as compared with those exercised by the other Enneads, that the theologians did not take the trouble either to represent it or to enumerate its persons. They invoked it as a whole, after the two others, in those formulas in which they called into play all the creative and preservative forces of the universe; but this was rather as a matter of conscience and from love of precision than out of any true deference. At the initial impulse of the lord of Heliopolis, the three combined Enneads started the world and kept it going, and gods whom they had not incorporated were either enemies to be fought with, or mere attendants.
The doctrine of the Heliopolitan Ennead acquired an immediate and a lasting popularity. It presented such a clear scheme of creation, and one whose organization was so thoroughly in accordance with the spirit of tradition, that the various sacerdotal colleges adopted it one after another, accommodating it to the exigencies of local patriotism. Each placed its own nome-god at the head of the Ennead as "god of the Nine," "god of the first time," creator of heaven and earth, sovereign ruler of men, and lord of all action. As there was the Ennead of Atûmû at Heliopolis, so there was that of Anhûri at Thinis and at Sebennytos; that of Minû at Coptos and at Panopolis; that of Haroêris at Edfû; that of Sobkhû at Ombos; and, later, that of Phtah at Memphis and of Amon at Thebes. Nomes which worshipped a goddess had no scruples whatever in ascribing to her the part played by Atûmû, and in crediting her with the spontaneous maternity of Shû and Tafnûît.
1 Plan drawn by Thuillier, from the Description de l' Egypte, Ant., vol. iv. pl. 50.
Nît was the source and ruler of the Ennead of Saïs, Isis of that of Bûto, and Hâthor of that of Denderah.[**] Few of the sacerdotal colleges went beyond the substitution of their own feudal gods for Atûmû. Provided that the god of each nome held the rank of supreme lord, the rest mattered little, and the local theologians made no change in the order of the other agents of creation, their vanity being unhurt even by the lower offices assigned by the Heliopolitan tradition to such powers as Osiris, Sibû, and Sit, who were known and worshipped throughout the whole country.
** On the Ennead of Hâthor at Denderah, see Mariette, Denderah, p. 80., et seq., of the text. The fact that Nît, Isis, and, generally speaking, all the feudal goddesses, were the chiefs of their local Enneads, is proved by the epithets applied to them, which represent them as having independent creative power by virtue of their own unaided force and energy, like the god at the head of the Heliopolitan Ennead.
The theologians of Hermopolis alone declined to borrow the new system just as it stood, and in all its parts. Hermopolis had always been one of the ruling cities of Middle Egypt. Standing alone in the midst of the land lying between the Eastern and Western Mies, it had established upon each of the two great arms of the river a port and a custom-house, where all boats travelling either up or down stream paid toll on passing. Not only the corn and natural products of the valley and of the Delta, but also goods from distant parts of Africa brought to Siûfc by Soudanese caravans, helped to fill the treasury of Hermopolis. Thot, the god of the city, represented as ibis or baboon, was essentially a moon-god, who measured time, counted the days, numbered the months, and recorded the years. Lunar divinities, as we know, are everywhere supposed to exercise the most varied powers: they command the mysterious forces of the universe; they know the sounds, words, and gestures by which those forces are put in motion, and not content with using them for their own benefit, they also teach to their worshippers the art of employing them.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from an enamelled pottery figure from Coptos, now in my possession. Neck, feet, and tail are in blue enamel, the rest is in green. The little personage represented as squatting beneath the beak is Mâit, the goddess of truth, and the ally of Thot. The ibis was furnished with a ring for suspending it; this has been broken off, but traces of it may still be seen at the back of the head. 2 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a green enamelled pottery figure in my possession (Saïte period).
Thot formed no exception to this rule. He was lord of the voice, master of words and of books, possessor or inventor of those magic writings which nothing in heaven, on earth, or in Hades can withstand.[***]
*** Cf. in the tale of Satni (Maspero, Contes populaires de l'Ancienne Egypte, 2nd edit., p. 175) the description of the book which Thot has himself written with his own hand, and which makes its possessor the equal of the gods. "The two formulas which are written therein, if thou recitest the first thou shalt charm heaven, earth, Hades, the mountains, the waters; thou shalt know the birds of the sky and the reptiles, how many soever they be; thou shalt see the fish of the deep, for a divine power will cause them to rise to the surface of the water. If thou readest the second formula, even although thou shouldest be in the tomb, thou shalt again take the form which was thine upon earth; thou shalt even see the sun rising in heaven, and his cycle of gods, and the moon in the form wherein it appeareth."
He had discovered the incantations which evoke and control the gods; he had transcribed the texts and noted the melodies of these incantations; he recited them with that true intonation—mâ khrôû—which renders them all-powerful, and every one, whether god or man, to whom he imparted them, and whose voice he made true—smâ khrôû—became like himself master of the universe. He had accomplished the creation not by muscular effort to which the rest of the cosmogonical gods primarily owed their birth, but by means of formulas, or even of the voice alone, "the first time" when he awoke in the Nû. In fact, the articulate word and the voice were believed to be the most potent of creative forces, not remaining immaterial on issuing from the lips, but condensing, so to speak, into tangible substances; into bodies which were themselves animated by creative life and energy; into gods and goddesses who lived or who created in their turn. By a very short phrase Tûmû had called forth the gods who order all things; for his "Come unto me!" uttered with a loud voice upon the day of creation, had evoked the sun from within the lotus. Thot had opened his lips, and the voice which proceeded from him had become an entity; sound had solidified into matter, and by a simple emission of voice the four gods who preside over the four houses of the world had come forth alive from his mouth without bodily effort on his part, and without spoken evocation. Creation by the voice is almost as great a refinement of thought as the substitution of creation by the word for creation by muscular effort. In fact, sound bears the same relation to words that the whistle of a quartermaster bears to orders for the navigation of a ship transmitted by a speaking trumpet; it simplifies speech, reducing it as it were to a pure abstraction. At first it was believed that the creator had made the world with a word, then that he had made it by sound; but the further conception of his having made it by thought does not seem to have occurred to the theologians. It was narrated at Hermopolis, and the legend was ultimately universally accepted, even by the Heliopolitans, that the separation of Nûît and Sibû had taken place at a certain spot on the site of the city where Sibû had ascended the mound on which the feudal temple was afterwards built, in order that he might better sustain the goddess and uphold the sky at the proper height. The conception of a Creative Council of five gods had so far prevailed at Hermopolis that from this fact the city had received in remote antiquity the name of the "House of the Five;" its temple was called the "Abode of the Five" down to a late period in Egyptian history, and its prince, who was the hereditary high priest of Thot, reckoned as the first of his official titles that of "Great One of the House of the Five."
The four couples who had helped Atûmû were identified with the four auxiliary gods of Thot, and changed the council of Five into a Great Hermopolitan Ennead, but at the cost of strange metamorphoses. However artificially they had been grouped about Atûmû, they had all preserved such distinctive characteristics as prevented their being confounded one with another. When the universe which they had helped to build up was finally seen to be the result of various operations demanding a considerable manifestation of physical energy, each god was required to preserve the individuality necessary for the production of such effects as were expected of him. They could not have existed and carried on their work without conforming to the ordinary conditions of humanity; being born one of another, they were bound to have paired with living goddesses as capable of bringing forth their children as they were of begetting them. On the other hand, the four auxiliary gods of Hermopolis exercised but one means of action—the voice. Having themselves come forth from the master's mouth, it was by voice that they created and perpetuated the world. Apparently they could have done without goddesses had marriage not been imposed upon them by their identification with the corresponding gods of the Heliopolitan Ennead; at any rate, their wives had but a show of life, almost destitute of reality. As these four gods worked after the manner of their master, Thot, so they also bore his form and reigned along with him as so many baboons. When associated with the lord of Hermopolis, the eight divinities of Heliopolis assumed the character and the appearance of the four Hermopolitan gods in whom they were merged. They were often represented as eight baboons surrounding the supreme baboon, or as four pairs of gods and goddesses without either characteristic attributes or features; or, finally, as four pairs of gods and goddesses, the gods being, as far as we are able to judge, the couple Nû-Nûît answers to Shû-Tafnûît; Hahû-Hehît to Sibû and Nûîfc; Kakû-Kakît to Osiris and Isis; Ninû-Ninît to Sit and Nephthys. There was seldom any occasion to invoke them separately; they were addressed collectively as the Eight—Khmûnû—and it was on their account that Hermopolis was named Khmûnû, the City of the Eight. Ultimately they were deprived of the little individual life still left to them, and were fused into a single being to whom the texts refer as Khomninû, the god Eight.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a photograph by Béato. Cf. Lepsius, Denkm., iv. pl. 66 c. In this illustration I have combined! the two extremities of a great scene at Philæ, in which the Eight, divided into two groups of four, frog- headed men, and the goddesses serpent-headed women. Morning and evening do they sing; and the mysterious hymns wherewith they salute the rising and the setting sun ensure the continuity of his course. Their names did not survive their metamorphoses; each pair had no longer more than a single name, the termination of each name varying according as a god or a goddess was intended:—Nu and Nûît, Hehû and Hehît, Kakû and Kakît, Ninû and Ninît, the god One and the god Eight, the Monad and the Ogdoad. The latter had scarcely more than a theoretical existence, and was generally absorbed into the person of the former. Thus the theologians of Hermopolis gradually disengaged the unity of their feudal god from the multiplicity of the cosmogonie deities.
1 Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a bronze statuette found at Thebes, and now in my possession.
By degrees the Ennead of Thot was thus reduced to two terms: take part in the adoration of the king. According to a custom common towards the Græco-Roman period, the sculptor has made the feet of his gods like jackals' heads; it is a way of realizing the well-known metaphor which compares a rapid runner to the jackal roaming around Egypt.
As the sacerdotal colleges had adopted the Heliopolitan doctrine, so they now generally adopted that of Hermopolis: Amon, for instance, being made to preside indifferently over the eight baboons and over the four independent couples of the primitive Ennead. In both cases the process of adaptation was absolutely identical, and would have been attended by no difficulty whatever, had the divinities to whom it was applied only been without family; in that case, the one needful change for each city would have been that of a single name in the Heliopolitan list, thus leaving the number of the Ennead unaltered. But since these deities had been turned into triads they could no longer be primarily regarded as simple units, to be combined with the elements of some one or other of the Enneads without preliminary arrangement. The two companions whom each had chosen had to be adopted also, and the single Thot, or single Atûmû, replaced by the three patrons of the nome, thus changing the traditional nine into eleven. Happily, the constitution of the triad lent itself to all these adaptations. We have seen that the father and the son became one and the same personage, whenever it was thought desirable. We also know that one of the two parents always so far predominated as almost to efface the other. Sometimes it was the goddess who disappeared behind her husband; sometimes it was the god whose existence merely served to account for the offspring of the goddess, and whose only title to his position consisted in the fact that he was her husband. Two personages thus closely connected were not long in blending into one, and were soon defined as being two faces, the masculine and feminine aspects of a single being. On the one hand, the father was one with the son, and on the other he was one with the mother. Hence the mother was one with the son as with the father, and the three gods of the triad were resolved into one god in three persons.
1 This Ennead consists of fourteen members—Montû, duplicating Atûmû; the four usual couples; then Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, together with his associate deities, Hâthor, Tanu, and Anît.
Thanks to this subterfuge, to put a triad at the head of an Ennead was nothing more than a roundabout way of placing a single god there: the three persons only counted as one, and the eleven names only amounted to the nine canonical divinities. Thus, the Theban Ennead of Amon-Maut-Khonsû, Shû, Tafnûît, Sibû, Nûît, Osiris, Isis, Sît, and Nephthys, is, in spite of its apparent irregularity, as correct as the typical Ennead itself. In such Enneads Isis is duplicated by goddesses of like nature, such as Hâthor, Selkît, Taninît, and yet remains but one, while Osiris brings in his son Horus, who gathers about himself all such gods as play the part of divine son in other triads. The theologians had various methods of procedure for keeping the number of persons in an Ennead at nine, no matter how many they might choose to embrace in it. Supernumeraries were thrown in like the "shadows" at Roman suppers, whom guests would bring without warning to their host, and whose presence made not the slightest difference either in the provision for the feast, or in the arrangements for those who had been formally invited.
Thus remodelled at all points, the Ennead of Heliopolis was readily adjustable to sacerdotal caprices, and even profited by the facilities which, the triad afforded for its natural expansion. In time the Heliopolitan version of the origin of Shû-Tafnûît must have appeared too primitively barbarous. Allowing for the licence of the Egyptians during Pharaonic times, the concept of the spontaneous emission whereby Atûrnû had produced his twin children was characterized by a superfluity of coarseness which it was at least unnecessary to employ, since by placing the god in a triad, this double birth could be duly explained in conformity with the ordinary laws of life. The solitary Atûrnû of the more ancient dogma gave place to Atûrnû the husband and father. He had, indeed, two wives, Iûsâsît and Nebthotpît, but their individualities were so feebly marked that no one took the trouble to choose between them; each passed as the mother of Shû and Tafnûîfc. This system of combination, so puerile in its ingenuity, was fraught with the gravest consequences to the history of Egyptian religions. Shu having been transformed into the divine son of the Heliopolitan triad, could henceforth be assimilated with the divine sons of all those triads which took the place of Tûmû at the heads of provincial Enneads. Thus we find that Horus the son of Isis at Bûto, Arihosnofir the son of Nit at Sais, Khnûmû the son of Hâthor at Esneh, were each in turn identified with Shû the son of Atûrnû, and lost their individualities in his. Sooner or later this was bound to result in bringing all the triads closer together, and in their absorption into one another. Through constant reiteration of the statement that the divine sons of the triads were identical with Shû, as being in the second rank of the Ennead, the idea arose that this was also the case in triads unconnected with Enneads; in other terms, that the third person in any family of gods was everywhere and always Shû under a different name. It having been finally admitted in the sacerdotal colleges that Tûmû and Shû, father and son, were one, all the divine sons were, therefore, identical with Tûmû, the father of Shû, and as each divine son was one with his parents, it inevitably followed that these parents themselves were identical with Tûmû. Reasoning in this way, the Egyptians naturally tended towards that conception of the divine oneness to which the theory of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad was already leading them. In fact, they reached it, and the monuments show us that in comparatively early times the theologians were busy uniting in a single person the prerogatives which their ancestors had ascribed to many different beings. But this conception of deity towards which their ideas were converging has nothing in common with the conception of the God of our modern religions and philosophies. No god of the Egyptians was ever spoken of simply as God. Tûmû was the "one and only god"—nûtir ûâû ûâîti—at Heliopolis; Anhûri-Shû was also the "one and only god" at Sebennytos and at Thinis. The unity of Atûmû did not interfere with that of Anhûri-Shû, but each of these gods, although the "sole" deity in his own domain, ceased to be so in the domain of the other. The feudal spirit, always alert and jealous, prevented the higher dogma which was dimly apprehended in the temples from triumphing over local religions and extending over the whole land. Egypt had as many "sole" deities as she had large cities, or even important temples; she never accepted the idea of the sole God, "beside whom there is none other."
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