Psamtik went at once from his father’s apartments to the temple of the goddess Neith. At the entrance he asked for the high-priest and was begged by one of the inferior priests to wait, as the great Neithotep was at that moment praying in the holiest sanctuary of the exalted Queen of Heaven.
[The temples of Egypt were so constructed as to intensify the devotion of the worshipper by conducting him onward through a series of halls or chambers gradually diminishing in size. “The way through these temples is clearly indicated, no digression is allowed, no error possible. We wander on through the huge and massive gates of entrance, between the ranks of sacred animals. The worshipper is received into an ample court, but by degrees the walls on either side approach one another, the halls become less lofty, all is gradually tending towards one point. And thus we wander on, the sights and sounds of God’s world without attract us no longer, we see nothing but the sacred representations which encompass us so closely, feel only the solemnity of the temple in which we stand. And the consecrated walls embrace us ever more and more closely, until at last we reach the lonely, resonant chamber occupied by the divinity himself, and entered by no human being save his priest.” Schnaase, Kunstaeschirhtc I. 394.]
After a short time a young priest appeared with the intelligence that his superior awaited the Prince’s visit. Psamtik had seated himself under the shadow of the sacred grove of silver poplars bordering the shores of the consecrated lake, holy to the great Neith. He rose immediately, crossed the temple-court, paved with stone and asphalte, on which the sun’s rays were darting like fiery arrows, and turned into one of the long avenues of Sphinxes which led to the isolated Pylons before the gigantic temple of the goddess. He then passed through the principal gate, ornamented, as were all Egyptian temple-entrances, with the winged sun’s disc. Above its widely-opened folding doors arose on either side, tower-like buildings, slender obelisks and waving flags. The front of the temple, rising from the earth in the form of an obtuse angle, had somewhat the appearance of a fortress, and was covered with colored pictures and inscriptions. Through the porch Psamtik passed on into a lofty entrance-chamber, and from thence into the great hall itself, the ceiling of which was strewn with thousands of golden stars, and supported by four rows of lofty pillars. Their capitals were carved in imitation of the lotus-flower, and these, the shafts of the columns, the walls of this huge hall, and indeed every niche and corner that met the eye were covered with brilliant colors and hieroglyphics. The columns rose to a gigantic height, the eye seemed to wander through immeasurable space, and the air breathed by the worshippers was heavy with the fragrance