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for the children of Israel to be timely warned against such blindness and infatuation. He rodotus says of the Persians, that of all things rivers were held in the highest veneration. They worshipped them, and offered to them sacrifices: nor would they suffer any thing to be thrown into them, that could possibly pollute their waters. 2 The like obtained among
the Medes, Parthians, and the Sarmatians. We read in Homer of the sanctity, in which rivers were held in Greece. Among these more especially were the * Spercheius, Peneüs, Acheloüs, and Alpheüs. The last had al
1. 1. c. 138.
· Σεΐζονται ποταμες μάλιςα.
1 Εξ ποταμον
de ούτε ενέρεισι, ούτε εμπτυσσι, ου χειρας εναπενίζονται, ουδε αλλον εδένα περιορωσία Herod. 1. 1. c. 138. p. 69.
3 The two great objects of worship seem to have been Fire and Water. Τι μοι Σαυροματας καταλέγειν, ὃς Νυμφόδωρος εν τοις Νομιμοις βαρβαρικους το πυξ σε δειν ισορει η τους Πέρσας, και τις Μηδες, και τις Μαγες ; θύειν εν ύπαιθρῳ τέτες ὁ Δίνων λεγεί, θέως αγαλματα μονα το πυρ και ύδως νομιζοντες. Clem. Αlex. Cohort. p. 56.
Parthis-præcipua amnibus veneratio. Justin. 1. 41. c. 3. -Juratur ab illis,
Ignis et unda deus. Sidonius Apollin. carm. 2. p. 245. ♦ To this river Achilles had preserved his fine hair for an offering. Homer. Il. ¥. v. 142.
5 Est πε και ποταμοις τιμή, ώσπες Αιγυπτιος προς τον Νειλο ὡς Θετταλοις προς τον Πηνειον,——-ὡς Αιτωλοις προς τον Αχελωον, και το λο Maximus Tyrius, Diss. 8. p. 79.
tars, and sacrifices offered to him in common with ' Diana. The Phrygians made the like offerings to the Marsyas and Mæander.
But no nation carried their reverence to such an extravagant degree of idolatry, as the Egyptians. They looked upon their river not only as consecrated to a deity; but, if we may believe some authors, as their chief national3 god: and worshipped it accordingly. The people above Syene stiled the Nile Siris, and Sirius, which was the name of Osiris,
Αλφεια και Αρτεμιδι θύουσιν επί ένος βωμε. Pausan. 1. 5.
Εν Ολυμπιᾳ δε ο Αλφειος τη Αρτεμίδι συναφίδρυται. Scholia upon first Nem. Ode of Pindar, p. 321.
Φρυγες, οι περι Κελαινας νεμομενοι τιμεσι ποταμες δυο, Μαρσύαν Μαιανδρον—θυεσι φρυγες τοις ποταμοις. Max. Tyr. Diss. 8.
3 The words of Heliodorus are remarkable..
τον Νείλον Αιγυπτιοι, και Κρειττονων τον Μεγισον αγουσι, αντίμιμον ουρανε τον ποταμον σεμνηγορουντες. Εthiop. 1. 9. p. 423.
They were the Ethiopians.
Σιρις ὑπ Αιθιοπων κικλήσκεται. Dionys. v. 223. Nilus-etiamnum Siris nominatus per aliquot millia. Pliny, 1. v. c. ix. p. 255.
Συηνη πολις μέση Αιγυπτε και Αιθιοπίας επί τῷ Νείλου, μεθ' εα ονόμασαι Σιρίς ὁ ποταμος. Steph. Βyzant.
Zigios & Hλios. Hesych. and Suidas.
Egios Heλos. Orph. Argonautics, v. 118.
and the Sun and upon solemn occasions made invocations to it as their chief' guardian and * protector. They supposed, that it gave birth to all their deities, who were born upon its 3 banks: and that the Nile was particularly the father of Vulcan, 4 Ηφαιςος. Hence there were temples erected to his honour; and a city called after his 5 name, Nilopolis ; in which he was particularly worshipped: and there were festivals and rites, stiled
Σεις. Σιρος ὁ Ηλιος, και Σειριος. Suidas.
Οσιρις εσιν ο Νείλος. Euseb. Præp. Evan. 1. 3. c. 11. p. 116.
Plut. Symp. l. 8. p. 729.
Parmeno Byzant. apud. Athenæum,
Πατέρα και Σωτηρα.
* Αιγυπτιε Ζεν, Νειλε.
1. 5. p. 203. Scholiast upon Pindar---Τον Νείλον αντι το Διος φησιν, επειδή παρά τοις Αιγυπτίοις τιμάται (ὁ Νειλος) ὡς Θεός.. -Κρονίδην τον Νείλον φησιν; ὡς Παρμενών-Αιγυπτιε Ζευ, Νειλέ. Pind. Pyth. Ode 4. v. 99. p. 219.
-ποταμον Νείλον, προς ᾧ και τας των θεων γενέσεις ὕπαρξαι. Diod. Sic. 1. 1. p. 12.
4 Diog. Laertius in Prooemio. Vulcanus- Nilo natus. 22. p. 1241. Gronov.
Cicero de Nat. Deor. 1. 3. c.
-Και Ιερον Νείλε
5 Νειλε πολις (ήτοι Νειλόπολις) Αιγυπτό, ποταμε. Steph. Βyzant. from Hecatæus.
Ο Ανεγνων δε παρα Αριςαινετῳ τῷ ἱτορικῷ, όςις ίσορει, ότι ἑορταζει Αιγύπτιοι του Νείλῳ, ἑορτήν πανδήμει πάντες και πασαι. χορουστε συσήσαμενοι ᾄδουσι τῳ Νειλῳ ωδας ὡς τῷ Διί ᾳδουσιν. Nonni Synagoge apud Greg. Νazianz. cont. Jul. edit. Etonens. p. 168,
• Neiloa Sacra, which were observed all over Egypt. As they received so much benefit from their river, they held water in general sacred, as Julius Firmicus has observed:Ægypti incolæ, aquarum beneficia percipientes, aquam colunt, aquis supplicant, aquas superstitiosâ veneratione prosequuntur.
Antiquity of this Worship.
These superstitions, and this veneration for the river prevailed, as we may presume, even in the time of Moses. This may be inferred from the like notions being to be found in the most early ages among the Syrians and Babylonians. The same prevailed in Greece. They were brought over to the last region by colonies from Egypt; and appear to have been of very early date. The ancient Grecians supposed many of their kings and 3 heroes to have been the offspring of rivers: and the Sea, or Oceanus, was esteemed the father of
'Heliodorus Æthiop. 1. 9. p. 424.
2 P. 3. I believe, in many of these instances, it was to the deity, from whom the river had its name, that these rites and honours were directed. Yet the Nile undoubtedly was highly reverenced.
Pelias, Neleus, Achilles.
their gods. This was borrowed from Egypt, for the natives of that country esteemed the Nile to be the ocean, and called it in very ancient times by that name. They pronounced it Oceames, or rather Oceanes-Oxɛavns which by the Greeks was rendered3 xavoçy Oceanus, and from hence they deduced their deities. There was therefore a great propriety in the judgment brought upon this people by Moses. They must have felt the utmost astonishment and horror, when they beheld their sacred stream changed and polluted: and the divinity whom they worshipped so shamefully foiled and debased. And these appearances must have had a salutary effect upon the Israelites; as they were hence warned not to accede to this species of idolatry: but to have it ever in contempt, as well as abhor
Ωκεανον τε θεών γενεσιν και μητέρα Τηθύν. Homer. 11. 1. ξ.
2 'Οι γαρ Αιγύπτιοι νομιζεσιν Ωκεανον είναι τον παρ' αυτοῖς ποταμον Niλoy. Diod. 1. 1. p. 12. 3
ποταμον ἀρχαιότατον μεν όνομα σχειν Ωκέανην, ὃς εςιν ἑλλήνιςι Ωκεανος. Ibid. p. 17. From hence we may learn that the rites imported from Egypt to Greece were of very early date.