« EdellinenJatka »
ry, at the opening of the sanctuary of the holy Serapis, the service is performed by rites both of fire and water. And he gives a reason for acting in this manner---' ύδως και πυς σεβοντες μάλιςα των 5οιχείων. It seems, that water and fire were two of the chief objects, which they worshipped. Hence fire and water mingled were no improper judgment, as has been observed before. They thought, that fire was a living animal--- Αιγυπτιοισι δε νενομίσαι πυς το θηρίον είναι εμψυχον. The Egyptians esteemed fire to be a living informed animal. But in general they had a still higher notion of this element, as we learn from Diodorus.---Το δε πυς μεθερμηνευόμενον Ηφαισον ονομασαι, νομίσαντες μεγαν ειναι θεον, και πολλα συμβάλλειν πασιν εις γενεσιν τε και τελειαν αυξησιν. They denominated fire Hephaistos, esteeming it a mighty deity; which contributed largely towards generation,
Porphyry de Abst. 1. 4. p. 373. Περσαι πυρί, και Αιγυπτιοι ύδατι θυεσι. καιτοι μεν άπασι καινον τους Αιγυπτίοις το ύδως. Lucianus in Jove Tragedo, vol. 2. p. 223.
* Herodot. 1. 3. c. 16. p. 202. Fire was esteemed a god by the Persians. Πέρσαι γαρ θεον νομιζεσι είναι το πυς. ibid.
3 L. 1.
4 This opinion was followed by Heraclitus.
Εκ πυρος τα παντα συνεςαναι, και ες τέτο αναλύεσθαίο
and the ultimate perfection of beings. The true Egyptian name seems to have been pea, Phtha, or rather' las, Phthas. It is however expressed Phtha by Jamblichus; who mentions. this elementary deity, as, * dnsgjinos v8s, the divine intellect, by which all things were fashioned. They looked upon him as the chief guardian of their country. 3 Pthas, custodem Ægypti. In respect to the adoration of the element, Diodorus endeavours to apologize for the custom, by saying, that the divine title of Hephaistus, or Vulcan, was given to fire, εις μνήμην και τιμην αθανατον, by way of honour, and to be a perpetual memorial of the great and true benefactor, the god of fire. But unfortunately this learned writer was not apprised, that the real benefactor, the only true God, was antecedently obscured, and at last banished from the hearts of men. In conséquence
Laert. 1. 9. p. 551. also by the Stoics-Omnia vestri, Balbe, solent ad igneam vim referre. Cicero de Nat. Deor. 1. 3. p. 1238.
Φθας, ὁ Ηφαιςος παρά Μεμφιταις. Suidas. The name was in use all over Egypt.
* De Myster. sect. 8. p. 159.
3 Cicero de Nat. Deor. 1. 3. c. 22. p. 1241. It is sometimes expressed wrongly-Opas.
4 L. 5. p. 341. c.
of this he was abridged of the honour due to him, and to him only. For when a blind reverence was paid to the element, as a symbol, and representative, it degenerated quickly into a lower and more vile idolatry: the primary object being lost in its emblem; and the deity supplanted by the substitute.
I have mentioned, that the Egyptians were a people of great learning; who seem to have been superior in science to any nation upon earth. But they prostituted these noble gifts; and, through an affectation of mystery and refinement, they abused the knowledge afforded them: for, by veiling every thing under a type, they at last lost sight of their original intelligence. They at first looked upon light and fire, and the great fountain of light, the sun, merely as proper emblems of the true deity, the god of all purity and brightness. But such was the reverence which they paid to them, that, in process of time, they forgot the hand by which these things were framed; and looked upon the immediate means, and
1 Orpheus composed his chief deity out of visible ele
Πυρ, και ύδως, και γαια, και αιθής, νυξ τε και ημας. Οrphic. Frag. p. 366. edit. Gesner. also Euseb. P. E. 1. 3. c. 9. p. 100. and p. 103. C.
support of life, as the primary efficient cause; to the exclusion of the real creator. What then could be more reasonable and apposite, than for a people, who thus abused their intelligence, and prostituted their faculties; who raised to themselves a god of day, their Osiris; and instead of that intellectual light, the wisdom of the Almighty, substituted a created and inanimate element, as a just object of worship: I say, what could be more apposite, than for people of this cast to be doomed to a judicial and temporary darkness? The judgment bore a strict analogy with the crime: and as it was a just punishment to them; so it was a proper warning to others, not to give way to the like mystery and illusion.
Night adored as a primary Deity.
Nor was this all. As the Egyptians betrayed an undue reverence for the sun, and light so they shewed a like veneration for
night and darkness, and in this they were
Elian mentions a mark upon the sacred steer, öwig a¡vitτεται τις φωτος είναι το σκοτος πρεσβυτερον. By which was intimated, that darkness was prior to day. It is expressed σxevos : which is a blunder of the printer: for the translator evident,
followed by other nations. It is said, that they paid a religious regard to the Mugale, a kind of mole, (supposed to be the mus araneus) on account of its imagined blindness; and, from its state of darkness, they thought it a proper emblem of night. For night was esteemed by them sacred, as being more ancient than day. Την μεν γαρ μυγαλην εκτεθειασθαι λεγεσιν ὑπο Αιγυπτίων τύφμην εσαν, ότι το σκότος το φωτος ἡγεντο πρεσβύτερον. Hesychius mentions a temple of Venus Scotia in Egypt, whose rites we may presume had some reference to night. Αφροδίτης Σκοτίας ἱερον κατ' Αιγυπτον. The Egyptian name of Venus was Athor and one of her principal places of worship was * Athor-Bet, expressed by the
ly read σxoros, as appears from its being rendered tenebra. Ælian de Nat. Animal. Londini 1744. 1. xi. c. x. p. 617.
την νύκτα προτερεύειν. Orpheus apud Eusebium Chron.
I Plutarch Sympos. 1. 4. q. 5. p. 670.
την Αφροδίτην Αιγυπτιοι καλεσιν Αθως. Etymolog. Mag.
↑ Herodotus stiles it Aragaxis, Atarbechis and adds, that it was in the nome Prosopitis—εν δε αυτη Αφροδίτης ἷρον ἅγιον idgural. In this province stood a temple much reverenced, dedicated to Venus. 1. 2. c. 41. p. 123.
What is stiled Beth by some writers, was expressed Bech