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no doubt held the bodies after death and embalmment of the

priests who had before dwelt in the upper rooms. On the death of Labaris, or one reign later, Heracleopolis sunk under the power of Thebes; and we find upon the walls of the Labyrinth the name of Amunmai Thori III. of that city, who added largely to the sculptures on that gigantic temple.

(15) Memphis was at the same time the principal capital of the level plains of Lower Egypt, where the river flows sluggishly through several large branches and countless canals, which water its cornfields and divide it into provinces. Sixty or seventy pyramids of various sizes on the edge of the desert remind us of the number and wealth of its kings or chief priests who sleep beneath them. Perhaps the tenth of those Memphite sovereigns whose names are known to us was reigning at the time at which the Hebrew writer placed Abraham's visit to Egypt.

(16) Xois, near the middle of the Delta, and about twenty miles from the sea, was another city whose priests were for a time kings over a small district. A chief priest, surrounded by a numerous priesthood, governed each city in Egypt; in those just mentioned he ruled as king, in the others as magistrate under a neighbouring king. They all alike held their rank by hereditary descent, and their power by the force of opinion founded on religion; and when several cities were united into one monarchy, this independence in the magistrate of each city was naturally a cause of weakness to the sovereign, and of freedom to the people.

Dyn. ii.

(17) Before the fall of This the people of Memphis had already built a temple for the bull Apis (see Fig. 6), where they worshipped it as a god, and maintained Manetho, a college of priests to do it honour. In the same way the people of Heliopolis worshipped the rival bull, Amun-Ehe, called by the Greeks Mnevis, and the people of Mendes a goat, named Mando. One favoured animal of every sacred race received worship in its own city; while for the others the people respectfully stepped aside when they met them in the streets or fields. On the banks of the Nile it was easier, said the Greeks, to find a god than a man. It is not easy to understand the feelings which gave rise to this worship of the cats, dogs, crocodiles,

ibises, serpents, and the rest. In some cases perhaps it was the usefulness of the animal, and in some cases its strangeness. Thus the dog and jackal devoured the carcases

Fig. 6.

which, if left to rot in the streets, might bring disease upon the inhabitants. The cat kept the houses free from much vermin; the ibis broke the crocodile's eggs, and lessened the number of these dangerous animals; the hooded snake (see Fig. 7) may have gained respect because it stood upright on the strong folds of its tail and seemed to wear a crown; the ox ploughed the field, and its flesh was not wanted for food, as the people for the most part lived on vegetables; and it was perhaps worshipped the more zealously to mark their quarrel with their Arab neighbours, who did not know the use of a plough, and who killed and ate the animal by whose labour the Egyptians lived. But the very strangeness of this worship shows the need Fig. 7. that we all feel for some religious belief. While no better were thought of, it was easier to fancy the bull Apis a god, than to believe that this world, with its inhabitants, had no maker, and that our wants are supplied without means more powerful than our own. But, on the other hand, the Egyptians can have had no lofty notion of the wisdom, the power, and the goodness with which the world is governed, when they found the housing and feeding these animals a help to their devotion. They also carved stone statues of men for gods, or as images of unseen gods, and built temples for their dwelling-places, and appointed

priests to take care of them, without, however, neglecting the worship of the animals. The more enlightened city of Thebes alone had no sacred animal. As the people themselves ate but little meat, they did not often offer flesh in sacrifice to their gods.


(18) The buildings were then much the same as those which afterwards rose in such calm and heavy grandeur. Venephres, a king of This, had already built pyramids at Cochome, a town whose site is now unknown; and OSIRTESEN I. (see Fig. 8), a king of Thebes, who reigned over Upper Egypt and the Arabian side of Lower Egypt, had raised those buildings which are now studied by our travellers for the earliest known style of Egyptian architecture. He was the builder of the older and smaller part of the Thebes. Fig. 8. great temple of Thebes, now called the temple of Karnak, on the east bank of the Nile; and his unornamented polygonal columns (see Fig. 9) must be looked upon as the model from which the Doric column of Greece was afterwards copied. In this reign also, or earlier, were begun the tombs of Beni-Hassan, near Antinoopolis (see Fig. 10), which are grottos tunneled into the hills, and in which the older columns are of the same polygonal form. The walls of these dark tombs are covered with coloured drawings, the works of various ages, in which the traveller, by the light of the torch in his hand, sees the trades, manufactures, and games, indeed all the employments of life, painted, as if to teach us the great moral lesson that the habits of this early people were much the same as our own, and that three or four thousand years make less change in manners than we usually fancy.

Fig. 9.

(19) Whether all the buildings that bear the name of Osirtesen were made in his reign may be doubtful; it is possible that some of them may have been set up in his honour by successors of a later age. Among these buildings must be mentioned the obelisk of Heliopolis, a square

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tapering pillar of granite upwards of sixty feet high, dug out of the quarries at Syene (see Fig. 11). It has his name and titles carved in hieroglyphics on each of the four sides. Another tapering granite needle, which may be called an obelisk, stands on the western bank of the Lake of Moris, and also bears his name. It was perhaps of use in raising and lowering the sluice gate by which part of the water of the lake was allowed to escape towards the desert.


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Fig. 10.

It has a round top with a notch in it, on which may have rested and turned a beam to be used as a lever (see Fig. 12). Its front and back are wider than its two sides. Its four faces do not all lean back like a true obelisk, but its face is quite upright, while its back leans more than usual, as if there had been a danger of its being pulled backward. The mechanical purpose for which this stone was cut throws & doubt upon its great age; and as its inscription is nearly the same as that on the obelisk at Heliopolis, the doubt is

carried to that stone. The doubt is further strengthened by the distance to which these blocks of granite were carried by their makers from the quarries of Syene, and by our knowing of no other obelisks earlier than the reign of Thothmosis I.

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Fig. 11.

Fig. 12.

(20) For how many years, or rather thousands of years, this globe had already been the dwelling-place of man, and the arts of life had been growing under his inventive industry, is uncertain; we can hope to know very little of our race and its other discoveries before the invention of letters. But when the earliest remaining buildings were raised, the carved writing, by means of figures of men, animals, plants, and other natural and artificial objects, was far from new. We are left to imagine the number of centuries that must have passed since this mode of writing first came into use, when the characters were used for the objects only. The first great change in the art was to use the figures for the names of the objects, and not for the objects themselves, and thus they got a power of representing a sound or syllable; and then,


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