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for the children of Israel to be timely warned against such blindness and infatuation. 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. 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 Alpheus. The last had al
* Σέβονται ποταμες μάλιςα. 1. 1. c. 138. p. 69.
2 Ες ποταμον નંદ ούτε εναρεισι, ούτε εμπτυεσι, ου χείρας εναπενίζονται, ουδε αλλον εδινα περίερωσι. 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, ἐς Νυμφόδωρος ἐν τοις Νομιμοις βαρβαρικοις TO πυς JEDELY ισορει η τους Πέρσας, και τις Μηδες, και της Μαγες ; θύειν εν ὑπαιθρῳ τετὸς ὁ Δινων λέγει, θεων αγαλματα μονα το πυρ και ύδως νομίζοντες. Clem. Αlex. Cohort.
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.
Εσι πε και ποταμοις τιμή, ώσπες Αιγυπτίοις προς τον Νείλον ὡς Θετταλοίς προς τον Πηνειον,—ὡς Αιτωλοις προς τον Αχελώον. *. 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 national god: and worshipped it accordingly. The people above Syene stiled the Nile Siris, and Sirius, which was the name of Osiris,
Αλφειῳ και Αρτεμίδι θύουσιν επι ένας βωμε. Pausan. l. 5. p.
Εν Ολυμπια δε ὁ Αλφειος τη Αρτεμίδι συναφίδρυται. Scholia upon first Nem. Ode of Pindar, p. 321.
Φρύγες, δι περι Κελαινας νεμομένοι τιμεσι ποταμες δυο, Μαρσυαν και Μαιανδρον-θυσσι φρυγες τους ποταμοις.
Max. Tyr. Diss. 8.
3 The words of Heliodorus are remarkable..
τον Νείλον Αιγυπτιοι, και Κρειττονων τον Μέγισον αγουσι, αντιμιμον ουρανε τον ποταμον σεμνηγορουντες. Athiop. l. 9. p. 423.
4 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.
Συήνη πολις μέση Αιγυπτε και Αιθιοπίας επι τῷ Νειλῳ, μεθ' ὧν arouasai Zigis • Toraμos. Steph. Byzant.
Zigios & Hλios. Hesych. and Suidas.
Egos Hexos. Orph. Argonautics, v. 118.
Toy Origin Engioy. Diodor. 1. 1. p. 11.
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 banks and that the Nile was particularly the father of Vulcan, Ηφαιςος. Hence there were temples erected to his honour and a city called after his S name, Nilopolis ; in which he was particularly worshipped: and there were festivals and rites, stiled
Σειρ. Σιρος ὁ Ἥλιος, και Σείριος. Suidas.
Οσιρις εσιν ο Νείλος. Euseb. Præp. Evan. 1. 3. c. 11. p. 116.
Πατέρα και Σωτηρα. Plut. Symp. 1. 8. p. 729.
2 Αιγυπτιε Ζευ, Νειλε.
Parmeno Byzant. apud. Athenæum,
Scholiast upon PindarΤον Νείλον αντί τε Διος φησιν, επειδή παρά τοις Αιγυπτίοις τιμαται (ὁ Νείλος) ὡς Θεός.
Νείλον φησιν, ὡς Παρμενών Αιγυπτιε Ζευ, Νειλε.
-ποταμον Νείλον, προς ᾧ και τας των θέων γενέσεις
ὑπαρξαι. 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.
5 Νειλε πολις (ητοι Νειλοπολις) Αιγυπτο,
ποταμε. Steph. Byzant. from Hecatæus.
—Και Ιερον Νειλο
Ανεγνων δε παρά Αριςαινετῳ τῷ ισορικῳ, στις ισορει, ότι ἑορταζεσιν Αιγυπτιοι τῷ Νείλω, ἑορτην πανδημεί πάντες και πασαι. χορουστε συσησαμένοι άδουσι την Νείλον ωδας ὡς τῷ Δις άδουσιν. Nonni Synagoge apud Greg. Nazianz. 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.
* 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 xavos 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
Ωκεανόν τε θεών γενεσιν και μητέρα Τηθυν. Homer. 11. 1. ξ.
* Οι γαρ Αιγυπτιοι νομίζεσιν Ωκεανον είναι των παρ' αυτοίς ποταμον Diod. 1. 1.
ποταμὸν ἀρχαιοτατον μεν όνομα σχειν Ωκεανην, ός εσιν έλληνισι Ωκεανος. Ibid. p. 17. From hence we may learn that the rites imported from Egypt to Greece were of very early date.