« PreviousContinue »
the Thebans have not left us a Homer, a Thucydides, or a Livy to place them in the first rank among cities, at any rate their buildings prove that they can have been very little below it. (32) AMUNMAI RAMESES II. (see Fig. 82), the son of the last king, was the monarch under whom Upper Egypt rose Abydos. to its greatest height in arms, in Wilkinson, arts, and in wealth. Manetho calls him Sethos, the king, thus giving him as his proper name the royal title, which is written in hieroglyphics by means of a twig and half-circle. He finished the palace of the Memnonium or Miamunei, at Abydos, so called from his own name, Miamun or Amunmai. He also finished the temple of Osiris in the same city; and on one of the walls he carved that list of his forefathers and predecessors on the throne of Thebes which is now in the British Museum, and is known by the name of the Tablet of Abydos, a monument which has guided us safely in this history through seventeen reigns. He placed a second such list of kings' names in the temple of Pthah at Memphis. He added several large parts to Osirtesen's old temple at Karnak, and particularly he finished the great hall which had been begun by his father (see Fig. 83). Of this the roof is upheld by one hundred and thirty-four gigantic columns, of which the largest are forty-seven feet high. This is called the Hall of Columns. The larger columns have capitals copied from the full-blown papyrus plant, and the smaller columns from the unopened buds of the same plant. In front of the hall he built the large courtyard, with its two large towers which guard its entrance. He added also a new courtyard and two lofty obelisks (see Fig. 84) to Amunothph's temple at Luxor, and he finished his father's temple at Rebek or Quorneh. Thus Thebes had already four large fortified temples or palaces-the three just mentioned and that of Queen Nitocris at Dahr el Bahree; and to these Rameses II. added a new palace, which had been begun by his father, and, like that at Abydos, was by the
Greeks called the Memnonium. Diodorus calls it lib. i. 47.
the tomb of his father Osymundyas or Osirimen
pthah, in whose honour Rameses dedicated it to the god
Amun-Ra. In the first courtyard was a colossal statue of himself, larger than any other in Egypt, which measures twenty-two feet across the shoulders, and in the second yard were two smaller statues, from one of which was taken the colossal head now in the British Museum (see Fig. 2, page 5). The spacious rooms with the columns which once upheld the roofs, against each of which stands a mummy-shaped
Diod. Sic. lib. i. 49.
statue of the king (see Fig. 85), are still gazed on with wonder by our travellers, and were standing in all their glory when Hecatæus travelled in Upper Egypt; and he praises the inscription over the library door which called the books the medicine of the mind. In the Hall of Columns, as in that of the temple of Karnak, the larger columns have capitals copied from the full-blown papyrus plant, and the smaller columns from the unopened buds of the same plant (see Fig. 86). The largest columns in this temple, the Memnonium, are howpl. 58, 59. ever only half the height of the largest in the temple of Karnak. On the ceiling of one of the rooms is carved a zodiac, divided into twelve parts, which
bear the same names as the twelve months. Under each is the figure of the god to whom it was sacred. The place of the
summer solstice is marked by an ape sitting on a boundary stone, to which he is driven by the rising waters (see Fig. 87). A little before this solstice is a star called the Bull's Eye-our Aldebaran-rising heliacally; and the beginnings of the four portions that follow the summer solstice are marked by the risings of the Dogstar (see Fig. 88) and three othersprobably Regulus and Deneb in the Lion, and Spica Virginis. The figures of Typhon for the Great Bear, and of Orion throwing his dart at the Bull (see Fig. 89), were already used in
Fig. 87. mapping out the stars. If this sculpture could be quoted to prove that the moving new-year's day of the civil year was the day of the Dogstar's rising, it would fix the date when it was made; but no such exactness can be seen in it; it rather proves the rudeness of the observations by which the astronomers learned the length of the year. They noted the