Ancient Egypt eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.

Such a condition of things was, of course, fatal to literature and art.  Art, as has been said, “did not so much decline as disappear.”  After Sheshonk I. no monarch of the line left any building or sculpture of the slightest importance.  The very tombs became unpretentious, and merely repeated antique forms without any of the antique spirit.  Each Apis, indeed, had, in his turn, his arched tomb cut for him in the solid rock of the Serapeum at Memphis, and was laid to rest in a stone sarcophagus, formed of a single block.  A stela, moreover, was in every case inscribed and set up to his memory:  but the stelae were rude memorials, devoid of all artistic taste; the tombs were mere reproductions of old models; and the inscriptions were of the dullest and most prosaic kind.  Here is one, as a specimen:  “In the year 2, the month Mechir, on the first day of the month, under the reign of King Pimai, the god Apis was carried to his rest in the beautiful region of the west, and was laid in the grave, and deposited in his everlasting house and his eternal abode.  He was born in the year 28, in the time of the deceased king, Sheshonk III.  His glory was sought for in all places of Lower Egypt.  He was found after some months in the city of Hashedabot.  He was solemnly introduced into the temple of Phthah, beside his father—­the Memphian god Phthah of the south wall—­by the high-priest in the temple of Phthah, the great prince of the Mashuash, Petise, the son of the high-priest of Memphis and great prince of the Mashuash, Takelut, and of the princess of royal race, Thes-bast-per, in the year 28, in the month of Paophi, on the first day of the month.  The full lifetime of this god amounted to twenty-six years.”  Such is the historical literature of the period.  The only other kind of literature belonging to it which has come down to us, consists of what are called “Magical Texts.”  These are to the following effect:—­“When Horns weeps, the water that falls from his eyes grows into plants producing a sweet perfume.  When Typhon lets fall blood from his nose, it grows into plants changing to cedars, and produces turpentine instead of the water.  When Shu and Tefnut weep much, and water falls from their eyes, it changes into plants that produce incense.  When the Sun weeps a second time, and lets water fall from his eyes, it is changed into working bees; they work in the flowers of each kind, and honey and wax are produced instead of the water.  When the Sun becomes weak, he lets fall the perspiration of his members, and this changes to a liquid.”  Or again—­“To make a magic mixture:  Take two grains of incense, two fumigations, two jars of cedar-oil, two jars of tas, two jars of wine, two jars of spirits of wine.  Apply it at the place of thy heart.  Thou art protected against the accidents of life; thou art protected against a violent death; thou art protected against fire; thou art not ruined on earth, and thou escapest in heaven.”


Project Gutenberg
Ancient Egypt from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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