« ZurückWeiter »
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 particularIy the father of Vulcan, και Ηφαισος. Hence there were temples erected to his honour'; and a city called after his name, Nilopolis; in which he was particularly worshipped: and there were festivals and rites, stiled
Σειρ. Σιρος ο Ηλιος, και Σειριος. Suidas.
Πατέρα και Σωτηρα. Ρlut. Symp. 1. 8. p. 729.
Αιγυπτιε Ζευ, Νειλε. Parmeno Byzant. apud. Athenaeum, 1. 5. p. 203. Scholiast
upon Pindar-Τον Νειλον αντι το Διος φησιν, επειδη σαρα τοις Αιγυπτιοις τιμαται ( Νειλος) ως Θεος. Κρανιδην τον Νειλον φησιν, ως Παρμενων-----Αιγυπτιε Ζεν, Νειλε. Ρind. Pyth. Ode 4. ν. 99.
ποταμον Νειλον, προς και και τας των θεων γενεσις υπαρξαι, Diod. Sic. 1. 1. p. 12.
4 Diog. Laertius in Procemio.
Vulcanus- Nilo natus. Cicero de Nat. Deor. 1. 3. Co 22. p. 1241. Gronoν. 5 Νειλε πολις (ητοι Νείλεπολις) Αιγυπτε,
-Και Ιερον Νειλα ποταμ8. Steph. Byzant. from Hecateus. Ανεγνων
σαρα Αρισαινέτω τω ισορικα, οσις ισορει, ότι εορταζεσιν Αιγυπτιοι τω Νει., εορτην πανδημει σαντες και πασαι. συνησμενοι αδoυσι το Νειλο ωδας ως το Διι αδουσιν. Νonni Synagoge apud Greg. Nazianz. cont. Jul. edit. Etonens. p. 168, 169.
1 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.
3. 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
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 dejty, 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-Nxeauns, which by the Greeks was rendered 'Sneavos, 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 abhorrence.
Ωκεανον το θεων γενεσιν και μητερα Τηθύν. Ηomer. 11. 1. ξ. V. 201.
2 'O. γας Αιγυπτιοι νομιζεσιν Ωκεανον εισαι τον παρ' αυτους ποταμού Nenor. Diod. l. 1.
12. Toy ds
σοταμον αρχαιοτατον μεν ονομα σχειν Ωκεανην, ος εςιν ελ. nueso Sexsavos. Ibid. p. 17. From hence we may learn that the rites imported from Egypt to Greece were of very early date.
The Peculiarity of the Punishment.
It is to be observed, that God might, if it had been the divine pleasure, have many different
ways tainted and polluted the streams of Egypt. But he thought proper to change it to blood. Now the Egyptians, and especially their priests, were particularly nice and delicate in their outward habit, and rites : and there was nothing, which they abhorred more than blood. They seldom admitted any bloody sacrifices: and with the least stain of gore they would have thought themselves deeply polluted. Their affectation of purity was so great, that they could not bear to come within contact with a foreigner; or even to handle his clothes; but to touch a dead body was an abomination, and required to be immediately expiated.
Martianus Capella mentions, that the priests wore sandals made
Porphyry περι αποχης. p. 168. Nunquam fas fuit Ægyptiis pecudibus, et sanguine, sed precibus et thure solo placare deos. Macrob. 1. 1. c. 7. p.
-nefas illic foetum jugulare capellæ. Juv. Sat. 14. • See Strabo. 1. 17. p. 1154.--Herodotus says, Oude μαχαιρη ανδρος ελληνος χρησεται, εδε οβελoισι εδε λέβητι, εδε κρεως καθαρα Gooς τετμημενα ελληνικη μαχαιρη γευσεται.
Herod. l. 2. c. 41. p. 123.
of papyrus, to prevent as they walked any such accidental pollution. Calceos præterea ex papyro subligavit, ne quid ejus membra pollueret morticinum. On these accounts the priests were continually making' ablutions. There were four stated times, twice in the day, and as often in the night, at which they were all obliged to bathe themselves. Many accidents caused them to repeat it much oftener. Hence this evil brought upon them must have been severely felt; as there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt, ver. 21. Prodigies of this nature were always looked upon as
A shower of blood is supposed to have fallen before the death of * Sarpedon: and was esteemed ominous, and foreboding. When Dido is to die, Virgil makes the offerings, which she was preparing, change their nature:
3 Vidit, thuricremis cum dona imponeret aris, Horrendum dictu ! latices nigrescere sacros, Fusaque in obscænum se vertere vina cruorem.
Though we may well suppose, that no such prodigies really happened, yet the Romans
Λενται δε δις της ημερης έκασής ψυκρα, και δις, έκασης νυκτος. Herod. l. 2. c. 37. p.
2 Αιματοεσσας δε ψιαδας κατεχευεν εραζε. Ιliad. Π. ν. 459. 3 Virg. l. 4. v. 453.