Page images
PDF
EPUB

BOUBASTA AND AROËRIS.

7

conceal the splendid doorways of the cella, and cover the shafts of the columns *, with all their hieroglyphics and sculptured gods, nearly to the top of the skreen, which, as usual, closed up the exterior intercolumniations. Perhaps, however, the burying of this tasteless adjunct of Egyptian porticoes, with the total overthrow of the lateral walls, may contribute towards giving the whole front of the edifice that classical majestic appearance which distinguishes it from the ordinary temples of the country. On the columns, thirteen of which are still standing, the ornament most frequently repeated is the cobra di capello, in pairs, adorned with the mitre of Isis, and bearing the symbol of the masculo-feminine deity, suspended by the ring from its tail. Among the hieroglyphics, but by no means a prominent figure, is the crocodile on an altar, and the mitred hierosphynx, frequently repeated, alternating with the vulture with outspread wings. On the face of the stone beams which support the roof of the pronaos are gods in boats, with stars beneath their feet, receiving the adoration of their votaries. In some places these figures would appear to have been originally sculptured across the beam and pronaos, — particularly that of Boubasta, who, until

you discover the faintly marked form of the boat on which she stands, appears to be lying on her back. Another bark, crossing this at right angles, contains the figure of Aroëris, who seems to be contemplating the form of the goddess stretched upon the ground, holding an unbent bow in the left hand, and, as I

These columns measure 19 feet 10 inches in circumference; which, in round numbers, may be called 20 feet.

8

SOUKOS OR KRONOS.

imagine, - but the figure is very dim, an arrow in the right, which is pressed upon her breast. If this was her original position, she would appear to be preparing to shoot upwards ; a circumstance which, considering the very peculiar character of the Egyptians, may have had some mysterious signification.

CCCCVIII. The various compartments of the ceiling are covered with figures of the sacred vulture. On all other Egyptian temples which I have seen, the winged globe, with a serpent springing forth from either side, occupies the centre of the cornice, directly over the entrance. But here, the arrangement of the structure being different, we find on the superbly painted cornice two winged globes, mark- . ing the approaches to the two grand doorways, adorned in the usual manner, with frieze, torus, and cornices. On the facade of the cella, we find, among many other gods, the extraordinary figure of Soukos *, Kronos, or Saturn, with the head of the

* This is the orthography of Strabo; but Spanheim, who supposes it to have been an appellation of the crocodile itself, writes Soữxis. “ Varia autem crocodilorum apud Egyptios nomina ; neque unam speciem exstitisse, vel inde liquet, quod sicuti devopirns Hesychio Crocodilus superiori nummo, ut videtur expressus, ita occurrebat mihi nuper apud Damascium in vita Isidori, Σούχις όνομα δε Κροκοδείλου και cioos, Souchis vero nomen et species Crocodili. Unde emendabam Strabonem, cui Sovxoc idem vocatur, et quem apud Arsinoitas cultum docet. Illam enim terminationem in is, Egyptiis familiarem cum aliunde novi, tum ex pleraque locorum ita desinentium apud eos terminatione, Stephano Byzantio frequenter indicata ; unde Strabonis potius quam Photii Codices in ea voce emendandos liquet. At vero haud male ita dictos id genus Crocodilos liceret statuere, quod non in paludibus solum, sed etiam in antris ac speluncis, Diospoliatarum exemplo, ut paulo ante è Stephano videbamus, alerentur, 7D, souccha, certe Hebræis (quibus multa cum Ægyptiorum idiomate communia notarunt eruditi),

GREEK INSCRIPTION.

9

crocodile, emblematic of time, according to the sacerdotal doctrine. He is seated on a throne, with a votary presenting offerings before him, and bears the sceptre, and the ordinary symbol of the gods. His mitre is correctly represented by Champollion, who observes that the temple was erected in the reigns of Ptolemy Philometer, and Ptolemy Euergetes II., to this god, conjointly with Aroëris. But the Greek inscription, or dedication, correctly copied and published by Hamilton, makes no mention of Soukos or Kronos, though he may, perhaps, have been included among the Eurvaio. @tov; nor does he occupy the most prominent position among the bassi relievi. From the serpent on his brow we discover the worshipper who approaches him to be a king, probably one of the Ptolemies. Behind the throne of Soukos is another divinity, bearing on his head the crescent of Siva, with the full moon between its horns, perhaps the Piioh or Ioh of the Egyptians, though wearing the emblems and usurping the attitude of Phthah. Among the hieroglyphics near this group is a figure crouching in a reverential posture before the symbol of life, the mysterious Delta. The figure of Soukos appears twice on the southern and once on the northern doorway. On the front wall of the cella, above the cornice, runs a row of cobra di capellos with their heads surmounted by the globe, and extending the whole length of the pronaos.

antrum et spelunca, unde et Succhæos seu Troglodytas inter militantes Ægyptiorum Regi Chronicorum auctori commemoratos, deducebat in suo Phaleg doctissimus Bochartus.” — De Præstantia et usu Numist. Antiq. p. 150.

[blocks in formation]

CCCCIX. Creeping with difficulty through the great doorway on the left, and crossing a narrow chamber, we observe the facade of another cella, and on the edge of its projecting cornice the Greek inscription mentioned above, the characters of which are two inches and a half in height, and very beautifully formed.

This small temple, apparently the nucleus of the whole ruin, is probably the only part of the edifice of the age of the Ptolemies; the remainder was certainly erected at a subsequent period. One of the stones on the roof measured twentythree feet in length and five in breadth. In the chamber next the adytum, Isis and Osiris-Hierax, or Aroëris, — were they the same? ----are represented on thrones, approached by a devotee, with a very extraordinary mitre, the globe between two feathers resting on twisted horns like the thunderbolts of Jupiter, and on this globe is a figure representing the horse's head and the human eye.

All the chambers are in a very ruinous condition, and nearly filled with sand.

CCCCX. The small temple of Isis, on the edge of the precipice, mentioned by Hamilton, has now been undermined and overthrown by the river ; a fate with which the greater ruin also is menaced, for the whole hill will be gradually caten away by the Nile, that, after flowing towards the east, here makes a sudden bend to regain its northerly direction, and, in sweeping round, rushes with prodigious violence against the opposing bank. I saw one of the capitals which had adorned the portico of this edifice, square like

IBIS-HEADED GODDESS.

11

those of the great temple of Dendera, and containing on each of its four sides the sculptured face of the goddess. A small portion of one of the lateral walls remains, covered with very extraordinary figures; among which is the hippopotamus, with one long pendant breast, like those of the Egyptian women who have nursed many children. The forelegs of the monster, which walks erect, and has a very serious aspect, terminate in human hands, in one of which it bears a remarkable form of the kteis-phallus. To this succeeds another hippopotamus, with a crocodile's head, and a woman's breast and hands. Being female figures, they probably represent Nephthys, the wife of Typhon, who, having intrigued with Osiris, may in Isis's temple have been represented ugly through revenge. The cobra di capello, or uræus, is also found here, with a worshipper before it. This, however, occurs every where ; but near it is a figure, found, I believe, in no other temple---a goddess with the head of an ibis ; representing, perhaps, the sakti, or female energy,

of Thoth Ibiocephalus, who stands beside her. Near this

group

is a small crocodile upon

an altar.

CCCCXI. The worship of the crocodile, that prevailed among the inhabitants of Ombos, Coptos, Tachompso, and of Arsinoe in the Fayoom, formed a part of the Egyptian system of animal worship*,

• In the Sermons of the Rev. Henry Stebbing, equally replete with piety and poetry, there occurs a splendid passage on the spirit of the ancient systems of idolatry, in which the worship of the elements, and

« PreviousContinue »