Anecdotes of Painters, Engravers, Sculptors and Architects and Curiosities of Art (Vol. 3 of 3) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 298 pages of information about Anecdotes of Painters, Engravers, Sculptors and Architects and Curiosities of Art (Vol. 3 of 3).

This famous lake, according to Herodotus, with whose account Diodorus Siculus and Mela agree, was entirely an artificial excavation, made by king Moeris, to carry off the overflowing waters of the Nile, and reserve them for the purposes of irrigation.  It was, in the time of Herodotus, 3,600 stadia or 450 miles in circumference, and 300 feet deep, with innumerable canals and reservoirs.  Denon, Belzoni, and other modern travelers, describe it at the present time as a natural basin, thirty or forty miles long, and six broad.  The works, therefore, which Herodotus attributes to King Moeris, must have been the mounds, dams, canals, and sluices which rendered it subservient to the purposes of irrigation.  These, also, would give it the appearance of being entirely the product of human industry.


The Egyptian Sphinx is represented by a human head on the body of a lion; it is always in a recumbent position with the fore paws stretched forward, and a head dress resembling an old-fashioned wig.  The features are like those of the ancient Egyptians, as represented on their monuments.  The colossal Sphinx, near the group of pyramids at Jizeh, which lay half buried in the sand, was uncovered and measured by Caviglia.  It is about 150 feet long, and 63 feet high.  The body is made out of a single stone; but the paws, which are thrown out about fifty feet in front, are constructed of masonry.  The Sphinx of Sais, formed of a block of red granite, twenty-two feet long, is now in the Egyptian Museum in the Louvre.  There has been much speculation among the learned, concerning the signification of these figures.  Winckelmann observes that they have the head of a female, and the body of a male, which has led to the conjecture that they are intended as emblems of the generative powers of nature, which the old mythologies are accustomed to indicate by the mystical union of the two sexes in one individual; they were doubtless of a sacred character, as they guarded the entrance of temples, and often formed long avenues leading up to them.


A labyrinth, with the ancients, was a building containing a great number of chambers and galleries, running into one another in such a manner as to make it very difficult to find the way through the edifice.  The most famous was the Egyptian labyrinth, situated in Central Egypt, above Lake Moeris, not far from Crocodilopolis, in the country now called Fejoom.  Herodotus, who visited and examined this edifice with great attention, affirms that it far surpassed everything he had conceived of it.  It is very uncertain when, by whom, and for what purpose it was built, though in all probability it was for a royal sepulchre.  The building, half above and half below the ground, was one of the finest in the world, and is said to have contained 3,000 apartments.  The arrangements

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