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(43) The cruel punishment of burning a child to death for the murder of his parent was, from the nature of the crime, not likely to be often carried into execution, and it Plutarch. night have been little known in practice when still De Iside et to be found in the laws. But unfortunately, we have the authority of Manetho, the Egyptian priest, for the fact that some criminals were openly burnt alive in the form of a sacrifice, every year at midsummer, in the city of Idithya. Nations less earnest in their religious feelings shuddered at the inhuman cruelty; but it had probably gone out of use long before the Egyptians were reproached by Virgil Georgic. and Ovid with sacrificing human beings to the Nile lib. iii. 5. to obtain a bounteous overflow. Since that time Ars. Amat. altars have seldom been lighted for human sacrifices but by men who, shame to say, have been struggling for theological opinions, in entire forgetfulness of the humility, mildness, and brotherly kindness for which such opinions are chiefly valuable.
(44) The clothing of the Egyptians was mostly linen, made from flax, which grew abundantly in the Delta; and linen formed an important article of trade. Wool was but little used; they neither wanted its greater warmth, nor is the soil fitted for grazing sheep. A people that ate but little animal food was not likely to wear animal clothing. Some little cotton was brought from India, and it was afterwards grown in Upper Egypt; but the reign of Amasis is the earliest time that we find it mentioned, and then only as a great rarity. Amasis sent to Sparta as his royal gift a breastplate ornamented with lib. iii. 47. gold, and fleeces from trees, as cotton was first called. The cotton may have been placed as wadding under a plate of metal, but more probably this piece of defensive armour was wholly made of strong twisted cords. At any rate, this is the first mention of a material for cloth which is now grown largely in Egypt as well as in Asia and America, and seems likely to become the chief clothing of the world. Another netted or woven breastplate was presented by Amasis to the state of Rhodes, with the magical number of three hundred and sixty-five threads in every cord; lib. xix. 2. and even six centuries after his death it was shown in the temple of Minerva in the city of Lindus as a sacred
Pliny, lib. xix. 2.
relic, though almost pulled to pieces by the fingers of the numerous visitors who had amused themselves with counting.
(45) The ordinary dress of the people was very slight, as befits a warm climate (see Fig. 169). The women wore one single linen garment, which reached from the neck to the ankles. It was very thin, sometimes loose, and sometimes so tight that it only allowed a short step to be taken in walking. The men wore a loose and shorter garment of the same material, though coarser, which reached only to the knees, except in the case of grand persons, when this garment was as long as that of the women. Beneath this outer garment the men wore a yet shorter apron or petticoat tied round the waist. Of these two the outer garment was often so thin that the apron was seen through it; and it was thrown aside when they were engaged in labour; and then the apron was their only piece of dress except the shoes or sandals. Over these ordinary garments a cloak was worn in colder weather, and robes by the king, queen, priests, and officers of state (see Fig. 170). The robe was sometimes made of skin. Nothing was worn upon the head except the marks of royal and priestly rank, such as the striped linen shawl, the crown, and the helmet in time of war. The ordinary dwelling was a small plot of ground enclosed between four walls (see a model, Fig. 171). No roof was needed as a shelter against
rain or cold. The walls and the palm trees which surrounded. the house afforded shade, and the inmates slept under the open sky. In the corner, however, of some of these dwellings was one and sometimes a second small dark covered room to
which the inmates could retire for greater privacy or for greater shelter from wind or sand or cold or sunshine. The mildness and dryness of the climate, which thus allowed the people to sleep in the open air and to move about with little or no clothing, brought on a sad looseness of morals. The corruption perhaps began in Lower Egypt. The sacred tie of marriage was neglected, and the women, not being held in honour, could not teach their children to aim at rectitude. After the loss of domestic virtue the nation could not hope to enjoy either public liberty or real happiness. The seeds of its decay were certainly sown. The priesthood alone held out against the general corruption. The priests were forbidden by law from marrying more than lib. i. 80. one wife. Other men had as many as they chose, and all children were held equally legitimate whatever woman was the mother.
(46) The priesthood was divided into four orders, the Soteno, the Nouto, the Othphto, and the Bachano. The first two wore crowns, and were probably at Inscript. first distinguished as belonging, one to Upper pl. 31, 32. Egypt and the other to Lower Egypt. The Soteno wore the Mitre or tall cap with a ball on the top, known as the crown of Upper Egypt. This was made of linen. The Nouto wore the flat ring or Plate of Gold with a tall piece before and behind. This was known as the crown of Lower Egypt. These two priestly crowns when united form the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt (see Fig. 172); and the king usually bore the double priestly title, perhaps pronounced Sot-Nout, Exodus, meaning Chief and xxviii. 36, 39. Holy. Both the abovementioned crowns, the one of linen and the other of gold, were copied by the Israelites, and worn one over the other by the Jewish high priest in the service of the temple. The Othphto, whose name means Dedicated, were probably those under monastic vows and vows of celibacy, a body of priests whom we find in later days confined within the temple walls, and only allowed to speak to a
Leviticus, viii. 9.