« PoprzedniaDalej »
Menalaus ; but the Egyptian priests pretended that Paris was driven by adverse winds to Egypt, where Proteus, who was then king, learning the truth, kept Helena and dismissed Paris; that the Greeks would not believe the Trojans, that she was not in their city, till they had taken it; and that then Menelaus sailed to Egypt, where his wife was restored to him. (Herod., 2, 113, seqq.—Wid. Helena.—Keightley's Mythology, i. 492, seqq.)—As regards the reconciliation of Menelaus and Helen, Virgil follows the account which makes the latter to have ingratiated herself into the favour of her first husband by betraying Deiphobus into his hands on the night when Troy was taken. (AEn., 6, 494, seqq.—Compare Quint. Col., 13, 354, seqq.—Dict. Cret., 5, 116.) MeNeNius, I. Agrippa, a celebrated Roman, who obtained the consulship B.C. 501, and who afterward prevailed upon the people, when they had seceded to the Mons Sacer, to return to the city. He related on this occasion the well-known fable of the stomach and the limbs. (Liv., 2, 16.—Id., 2, 32.)—II. Titus, son of the preceding, was chosen consul with C. Horatius, B.C. 475, when he was defeated by the Tusci, and being called to an account by the tribunes for this failure, was sentenced to pay a heavy fine. He died of grief soon after. (Liv., 51, seqq.) MENEs, the first king mentioned as having reigned over Egypt, and who is supposed to have lived above 2000 B.C., about the time fixed by biblical chronoloK. for the foundation of the kingdom of Assyria by Nimrod, and corresponding also with the era of the Chinese emperor Yao, with whom the historical period of China begins. All inquiries concerning the history of nations previous to this epoch are mere speculations unsupported by evidence. The records of the Egyptian priests, as handed down to us by Herodotus, Manetho, Eratosthenes, and others, place the era of Menes several thousand years farther back, reckoning a great number of kings and dynasties after him, with remarks on the gigantic stature of some of the kings, and on their wonderful exploits, and other characteristics of mystical and confused tradition. (Consult Eusebius, Chron. Canon., ed. Maii et Zohrab, Mediol., 1818.) It has been conjectured that several of Manetho's dynasties were not successive, but contemporaneous, reigning over various parts of the country. From the time of Menes, however, something like a chronological series has been made out by Champollion, Wilkinson, and other Egyptian chronologists, partly from the list of Manetho, and partly from the Phonetic inscriptions on the monuments of the country.—Menes, it is said by some (Herod., 2, 99), built the city of Memphis, and, in the rosecution of his work, stopped the course of the K. near it, by constructing a causeway several miles broad, and caused it to run through the mountains. (Vid. Nilus.) Diodorus Siculus, however (1, 50), assigns the foundation of Memphis to Uchoreus. Bishop Clayton contends that Menes was not the first king of Egypt, but that he only transferred the seat of empire from Thebes to Memphis. (Vid. remarks under the article Memphis.) Zoega finds an analogy between the names Menes and Mnevis; to which may be added those of the Indian Menu and the Cretan Minos, to say nothing of the German Mannus. (Zoega, de Obelisc., p. 11.) MENEsthéi Portus, a harbour not far from Gades, on the coast of Spain, in the territory of Bastica. An oracle of Menestheus was said to have been in or near the place. The modern Puerto de Santa Maria is thought to correspond to the ancient spot. (Ukert, Geogr., vol. 2, p. 342.) MENEstheus or MNEstheus, a son of Peteus, and great-grandson of Erechtheus, who so insinuated himself into the favour of the people of Athens, that, during the long absence of Theseus, who was engaged in per
forming his various adventures, he was elected king. The lawful monarch, at his return home, was expelled, and Menestheus established his usurpation by his popular manners and great moderation. As he had been one of Helen's suiters, he went to the Trojan war at the head of the people of Athens, and died on his return in the island of Melos. He was succeeded by Demophoön, the son of Theseus. (Plut., Wit. Thes.) MENINx, or Lotophagitis INsula, an island off the coast of Africa, in the vicinity of the Syrtis Minor, and forming part of its southern side. Its name of Lotophagitis (Aotoshayirut) or Lotophagorum insula (Aaroqāyov viaoc) was given it by the Greeks, from the belief that in this quarter was to be placed Homer's land of the Lotophagi; and, in fact, both the island itself, and also the adjacent country along the coast of the Syrtis, produced abundance of this sweet and tempting fruit. . (Herod., 2, 92–Id., 4, 177—Polyb., 12, 2.-Eustath. ad Hom., Od., 10, 84, p. 1616.) In our editions of Scylax, the island is called Brachion (Bpaxetwv), a manifest interpolation, which has sound its way into the text from the note or gloss of some individual, who wished to convey the information that there were many shallows in the neighbourhood. (Mannert, Geogr., vol. 10, pt. 2, p. 144.)—The island fell into the hands of the Romans during the first Punic war, and then, for the first time, we learn that the true name, and the one used among the natives themselves, was Meninx (Mrsvty;..—Polyb., 1, 39.—Compare Dionys. Perieg., v. 480). From this time forward, Meninx remained the more usual appellation among the geographical writers.-Strabo (834) informs us that the chief city bore the same name with the island. Pliny (5,4) speaks of the city of Meninx towards Af. rica, and of another named Thoar. Ptolemy likewise mentions two cities, Meninx and Gerra, the former of which he places to the northeast, and the latter to the southwest. It is more than probable, that the chief city of the island was not called Meninx, but only received this name from those who traded thither, and that the true appellation was Girba, which was given at a later period to the whole island. (Aurel. Vict, Epit., c. 31. “Creati in insula Meninge, qual nunc Girba dicitur.”) The Arabs still give it the name of Gerbo or Zerbi.—Meninx was famed for its purple dye, obtained from the shellfish along its shores, and Pliny ranks it next in value to the Tyrian. MeNippus, a cynic philosopher, born at Sinope in Asia Minor, but whose family were originally from Gadara, in Palestine. According to an authority cited by Diogenes Laertius, he was at first a slave, but afterward obtained his freedom by purchase, and eventually succeeded, by dint of money, in obtaining citizenship at Thebes. Here he pursued the employment of a money-lender or usurer, and obtained from this circumstance the appellation of 'Huepoćavetotic (“one who lends money at daily interest”). Having been defrauded, and having lost, in consequence, all his property, he hung himself in despair. Menippus was the author of several works, and his satiric style was imitated by Varro. (Wid, remarks on the Menippean Satire, under the article Varro.) Among other productions, he wrote a piece entitled Atoyévov, trpāquo, “The Sale of Diogenes,” and another called Nekvia, “Necromancy.” It is thought by some, that this latter performance suggested to some imitator of Lucian the idea of composing the “Menippus, or Oracle of the Dead,” which is found among the works of the native of Samosata. (Schöll, Hist. Lit. Gr., vol. 2, p. 363.) MENNis, a city of Assyria, in the district of Adiabene, to the south of Arbela. The adjacent country abounded with bitumen. Mannert supposes it to have been near the modern Dus-Churmalu. (Mannert, Geogr., vol. 5, p. 453.) Curtius calls it Memnium (5, 1). Menopôtus, a physician of the empo,:* born at Nicomedia. He was a disciple of Antiochus of Laodicea in Lycia, and lived during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. Sextus Empiricus ranks him among the Sceptics. (Pyrrhon, hypotyp., 1, 222, p. 57.) He banished analogy from the Empiric system, and substituted what was called epilogism. The hatred which he bore towards the dogmatists was so great, that he never designated them by any other but the most derisory epithets, such as Tputantxot, “old-routine-men;” (pluv2.Éovreć, “furious lions ;” (ptuvuòpovo, “ contemptible fools,” &c. (Galen, de subfig. empur., c. 9, p. 65.--Sprengel, Hist. Med., vol. 1, p. 494.) Me Noeceus (three syllables), the father of Jocasta. MeNoetes, I, the pilot of the ship Gyas, at the naval games exhibited by AEneas at the anniversary of his father's death. He was thrown into the sea by h's commander for having so unskilfully steered his vessel as to prevent his obtaining the prize in the contest. He saved himself by swimming to a rock. (Virg., AEn., 5, 161.)—II. An Arcadian, killed by Turnus in the war of AEneas. (Id., 12, 517.) MENOEti Ades. Wid. Menoetius. MeNoetius, a son of Actor and Ægina after her amour with Jupiter. He left his mother and went to Opus, where he had, by Sthenele, Patroclus, often called from him Menactiades. Menoetius was one of the Argonauts. (Apollod., 3, 14.—Hom., Il., 1,307.Hygin, fab., 97.) MeNoN, a Thessalian commander in the expedition of Cyrus the Younger against his brother Artaxerxes. He commanded the left wing in the battle of Cunaxa. He was entrapped along with the other generals after the battle by Tissaphernes, but was not put to death with them. Xenophon states that he lived an entire year after having had some personal punishment inflicted, and then met with an end of his existence. (Anab., 2, 6, 29.) Diodorus states that he was not punished with the other generals, because it was thought that he was inclined to betray the Greeks, and he was therefore allowed to escape unhurt. (Diod. Suc., 14, 27.) Marcellinus, in his life of Thucydides, accuses Xenophon of calumniating Menon, on account of his enmity towards Plato, who was a friend of Menon. (Vit. Thucyd., p. 14, ed. Bip.–Schneider, ad Xen., Anab., loc. cit.) M&Ntor, I. one of the most faithful friends of Ulysses, and the person to whom, before his departure for Troy, he consigned the charge of his domestic affairs. Minerva assumed his form and voice in her exhortation to Teleinachus, not to degenerate from the valour and wisdom of his sire. (Od., 2, 268.) The goddess, under the same form, accompanied him to Pylos. (Od., 3, 21, seqq.)—II. A very eminent engraver on silver, whose country is uncertain. He flourished be. fore the burning of the temple at Ephesus, in B.C. 356, as several of his productions were consumed in this conflagration. (Plin., 32, 12, 55.-Martial, Ep., 3, 41.-Sullig, Dict. Art., s. v.) MERA or MAERA, a dog of Icarius, who by his cries showed Erigone where her murdered father had been thrown. Immediately after this discovery the daughter hung herself in despair, and the dog pined away, and was made a constellation in the heavens, known by the name of Canis. (Ovid, Met, 7, 363.-Hygin., fab., 130.-AElian, H. A., 7, 28.) Mercu Rii ProMontorium, the same with the Hermarum Promontorium. A promontory of Africa, on the coast of Zeugitana, now Cape Bon. Mercurius, I. a celebrated god of antiquity, called Hermes (‘Epuńc) by the Greeks. Homer and Hesiod, however, style him Hermeias ("Fpuetac); and wherever the form "Epusic occurs in these poets, the passage may be regarded as an interpolation. Mercury was the messenger of the gods, and of Jupiter in particular; he was the god of speech, of eloquence; the patron of
orators, of merchants, of all dishonest persons, and particularly thieves, of travellers, and of shepherds. He also presided over highways and crossways, and conducted the souls of the dead to the world below. The Greeks ascribed to their Hermes the invention of the lyre, of letters, of commerce, and of gymnastic cxercises, and they placed his birth either on Mount Cerycius in Boeotia, or on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. In the Iliad he is called the son of Jupiter (24, 333), but his mother is unnoticed. In the later legends, however, he is styled the offspring of Jupiter and Maia. His infancy was intrusted to the Seasons or Horae; but he had hardly been laid in his cradle, when he gave a proof of his skill in abstracting the property of others, by stealing away the oxen of Admetus, which Apollo was tending on the banks of the Amphrysus. He displayed his thievish propensities on other occasions also, by depriving Neptune of his trident, Venus of her girdle, Mars of his sword, Jupiter of his sceptre, and Vulcan of many of the im- . plements of his art. It was his dexterity that recommended him to the notice of the gods, and that procured for him the office of cup-bearer to Jupiter, in which station he was succeeded by Hebe. Jupiter presented him with a winged cap (petasus), winged sandals (talaria), and a short sword (harpe) bent hke a scythe. This last he lent on one occasion to Perseus, to enable him to destroy the Gorgon Medusa. (Vid. Perseus and Gorgones.) By means of his cap and sandals he was enabled to go into whatever part of the universe he pleased with the greatest celerity, and, besides, he was permitted to make himsels invisible, and to assume whatever shape he pleased. He was the ambassador and plenipotentiary of the gods, and was concerned in all alliances and treaties. He was the confidant of Jupiter also in his erotic relations with the fair ones of earth, and was often set to watch and baffle the jealous schemes of Juno. After inventing the lyre, he gave it to Apollo, and received from him in exchange the “golden three-leafed rod,” the giver of wealth and riches. (Vid. Caduceus.) In the wars of the giants against the gods, Mercury showed himself brave, spirited, and active.—He delivered Mars from the long confinement which he had suffered from the Aloidae; he tied Ixion to his wheel in the infernal regions; he destroyed the hundred-eyed Argus; he sold Hercules to Omphale, the queen of Lydia; he conducted Priam to the tent of Achilles, to redeem the body of his son Hector; and he carried the infant Bacchus to the nymphs of Nysa. Mercury had many surnames and epithets. He was called Cyllenius, Caduceator, Argiphontes (or the slayer of Argos), Chthonius (or the god who guides the dead to the world below), Agoneus (or the god who presides over gymnastic exercises), &c. He was father of Autolycus, by Chione; Myrtilius, by Cleobula; Libys, by Libya; Echion and Eurytus, by Antianira; Cephalus, by Creüsa; Prylis, by Issa; Hermaphroditus, by Venus; Eudorus, by Polimela, &c. The Roman merchants yearly celebrated a festival on the the 13th of May, in honour of Mercury, in a temple near the Circus Maximus. A pregnant sow was then sacrificed, and sometimes a calf, and particularly the tongues of animals were offered. After the votaries had sprinkled themselves with lustral water, they offered prayers to the divinity, and entreated him to be favourable to them, and to forgive whatever dishonest means they had employed in the acquisition of gain.—Mercury is usually represented with a chlamys or cloak neatly arranged on his person, with his petasus or winged cap, and the talaria or winged sandals. In his hand he bears his caduceus or staff, with two serpents twined about it, and which sometimes has wings at its extremity. The more ancient statues of Mercury were nothing more than wooden posts, with a rude head and a pointed beard carved on them. They were set up on the roads and
footpaths, and in the fields and gardens. The Herma, were pillars of stone; and the heads of some other deity at times took the place of that of Hermes; such were the Hermathenae, Hermeracles, and others. The veneration in which these Hermas were held by the Athenians may be inferred from the odium excited against Alcibiades when suspected of having disfigured these images.—Hermes or Mercury may be regarded as in some degree a personification of the Egyptian priesthood. It is in this sense, therefore, that he was regarded as the confidant of the gods, their messenger, the interpreter of their decrees, the genius who presided over science, the conducter of souls; elevated indeed above the human race, but the minister and the agent of celestial natures. He was designated by the name Thot. According to Jablonski (Panth. Ægypt., 5, 5, 2), the word Thot, Theyt, Thayt, or Thoyt, signified in the Egyptian language an assembly, and more particularly one composed of sages and educated persons, the sacerdotal college of a city or temple. Thus the collective priesthood of Egypt, personified and considered as unity, was represented by an imaginary being, to whom was ascribed the invention of language and writing, which he had brought from the skies and imparted to man, as well as the origin of geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, medicine, music, rhythm: the institution of religion, sacred processions, the introduction of gymnastic exercises, and, finally, the less indispensable, though not less valuable, arts of architecture, sculpture, and painting. So many volumes were attributed to him, that no human being could possibly have composed them. (Fabric., Biblioth. Graec., 1, 12, 85–94.) To him was even accorded the honour of discoveries made long subsequent to his appearance on earth. All the successive improvements in astronomy, and, generally speaking, the labours of every age, became his peculiar property, and added to his glory. In this way, the names of individuals were lost in the numerous order of priests, and the merit which each one had acquired by his observations and labours turned to the advantage of the whole sacerdotal association, in being ascribed to its tutelary genius; a genius who, by his double figure, indicated the necessity of a double doctrine, of which the more important part was to be confined exclusively to the #". An individual of this order, therefore, found
is only recompense in the reputation which he obtained for the entire caste. To these leading attributes of Thoth was joined another, that of protector of commerce; and this, in like manner, was intended to express the influence of the priesthood on commercial enterprises. Our limits will not permit any farther development of the various ideas which, besides those already mentioned, were combined in the imaginary character of Hermes: his identity, namely, with Sirius, the star which served as the precursor of the inundation of the Nile, and the terrestrial symbol of which was the gazelle, that flies to the desert on the rising of the stream; his rank in demonology, as the father of spirits and guide of the dead; his quality of incarnate godhead, subject to death; and his cosmogonical alliance with the generative fire, the light, the source of all knowledge, and with water, the principle of all fecundity. It is surprising, however, to observe how strangely the Grecian spirit modified the Egyptian Hermes, to produce the Hermes or Mercury of Hellenic mythology. The Grecian Hermes is quite a different being from the Egyptian. He neither presides over the sciences, over writing, over medicine, nor over astronomy. He has not composed any divine works containing the germe and elements of these several departments of knowledge. The interpreter of the gods in Egypt, he is in Greece only their messenger; and it is by virtue of this latter title that he preserves his wings, which were among the Egyptians merely an astronomical symbol. For the shackles on
the feet of Saturn serve to explain the wings of Mcrcury. Saturn is represented in this state, because it requires thirty years nearly to complete its revolution round the sun; while Mercury has wings, because this planet accomplishes the same revolution in little less than three months. Again, if, in memory of the directions given by the priests of Ammon to the caravans that traversed the desert, the Egyptian Hermes becomes the protector of commerce, the Greeks managed to deprive this peculiar attribute of all its gravity. With them Hermes or Mercury, by a ludicrous analogy, is made the god of fraud and falsehood. Is this a reaction of the Grecian spirit against the pretensions of a sacerdotal order, and one which preserves, at the same time, a reminiscence of what the Egyptian Hermes was 4–It is worthy of remark, moreover, how, even when all the sacerdotal attributes of this deity have disappeared from the popular belief, they again appear in the mystic portion of the early Greek religion which the Orphic and Homeric hymns have preserved to us. The Hermes of these hymns has nothing in common with the Hermes of the Iliad, or even of the Odyssey. At one time he recalls to our minds all the peculiar qualities of the Egyptian Hermes, at another the strange legends of the Hindoo avatars. The disference between the sacerdotal and the Greek Hermes becomes very perceptible among the Romans. This people first received the sacerdotal Hermes, whose worship had been brought into Etruria by the Pelasgi previous to the time of Homer; and as the earlier Hermes was represented by a column (Jablonski, Panth. Ægypt., 5, 5, 15), he became with them the god Terminus. When, however, the Romans were made acquainted with the twelve great deities of the Athenians, they adopted the Grecian Hermes under the name of Mercury, preserving at the same time the remembrance of their previous traditions. (Compare Constant, de la Religion, vol. 2, p. 122, in notis, ibid., p. 409.-Creuzer's Symbolik, par Guigniaut, vol. 1, pt. 1, p. 453, id., pt. 2, p. 851.)— II. Trismegistus, a celebrated Egyptian priest and philosopher. Manethodistinguishes him from the first Hermes or Thot, and says of him (ap. Syncell., p. 40), that from engraved tables of stone, which had been buried in the earth, he translated the sacred characters written by the first Mercury, and wrote the explanations in books, which were deposited in the Egyptian temples. He calls him the son of Agathodamon, and adds, that to him are ascribed the restoration of the wisdom taught by the first Mercury, and the revival of geometry, arithmetic, and the arts among the Egyptians. The written monuments of the first Her. mes having been lost or neglected in certain civil revolutions or natural calamities, the second Hermes recovered them, and made use of them as means of establishing his authority. (Herod., 2, 82–Marsham, Chron., p. 241. —Clem. Alez., Strom., 5, p. 242.) By an ingenious interpretation of the symbols inscribed upon the ancient columns, he impressed the sacred sanction of antiquity upon his own institutions; and, to perpetuate their influence upon the minds of the people, he committed the columns, with his own interpretations, to the care of the priesthood. Hence he obtained a high degree of respect among the people, and was long revered as the restorer of learning. From the tables of the first Hermes he is said to have written, as commentaries and explanations, an incredible number of books. It has been asserted that he was the author of more than 20,000 volumes, which treated of universal principles, of the nature and orders of celestial beings, of astrology, medicine, and other topics. For an account of his pretended works, consult the article Trismegistus. MeriöNes, son of Molus, a Cretan prince, and of Melphidis. He had been among the suitors of Helen, and was therefore bound to join in the soon cause against Troy. Meriones assisted Idomeneus in the conduct of the Cretan troops, under the character of charioteer, and not only distinguished himself by his valour, but, at the funeral games in honour of Patroclus, he obtained the prize for archery. (Il., 2,651; 4, 254; 5, 59, &c.) MERMNADAE, the name of a dynasty of kings in Lydia, of whom Gyges was the first. The line ended with Croesus. They claimed descent from Hercules. (Vid. Lydia.) MeRöE, according to the ancient writers, an island and state of Ethiopia. Herodotus only mentions the city of Meroë. All other writers, however, describe Meroë as an island, with a city of the same name. It was situated between the Astaboras and Astapus. “The Astaboras,” says Agatharchides, “which flows through Ethiopia, unites its stream with the greater Nile, and thereby forms the island of Meroë by flowing round it. (Huds., Geogr. Min., 1, p. 37.) Strabo is still more precise. “The Nile,” says this geographer, “receives two great rivers, which run from the east out of some lakes, and encompass the great island of Meroë. One is called the Astaboras, which flows on the eastern side; the other the Astapus. Seven hundred stadia above the junction of the Nile and the Astaboras is the city . Meroë, bearing the same name as the island.” (Strab., 786.) A glance at the map, remarks Heeren (Ideen, vol. 4, p. 397; vol. 1, p. 385, Orford transl.), will immediately show where the ancient Meroë may be found. The Astaboras, which flows round it on the eastern side, is the present Atbar or Tacazze; the Astapus, which bounds it on the left, and runs parallel with the Nile, is the Bahr el Abiad, or White River. From these and other statements, Heeren comes to the following conclusions: First : that the ancient island of Meroë is the present province of Atbar, between the river of the same name, or the Tacazze, on the right, and the White stream and the Nile on the left. The point where the island begins is at the junction of the Tacazze and the Nile; in the south it is enclosed by a branch of the above-mentioned river, the Waldubba, and a branch of the Nile, the Bahad, whose sources are nearly in the same district, although they flow in different directions. It lies between 13° and 18° N. lat. In recent times a great part is included in the kingdom of Sennaar, while the southern part belongs to Abyssinia. — Secondly: Meroë was, therefore, an extensive district, surrounded by rivers; whose superficial contents exceeded those of Sicily rather more than one half. It cannot be called an island in the strictest sense of the word, because, although it is very nearly, it is not completely enclosed by rivers; but it was taken for an island of the Nile, because, as Pliny (5, 9) expressly observes, the various rivers which flow round it were all considered as branches of that stream. It becomes, moreover, as we are told by Bruce, a complete island in the rainy season, in consequence of the overflowing of the river.—Thirdly : Upon this island stood the city of the same name. It is impossible, from the statements of Herodotus, to determine precisely its site. Fortunately, other writers give us more assistance. According to Eratosthenes (ap. Strab., l.c.), it lay 700 stadia (about 80 English miles) above the junction of the Tacazze or Astaboras and the Nile. Pliny (6, 29), following the statements of those whom Nero had sent to explore it, reckons 70 milliaria (63 English miles); and adds the important fact, that near it, in the river on the right side going up stream, is the small island Tadu, which serves the city as a port. From this it may be concluded with certainty, that the city of Meroë was not on the Tacazze, as might otherwise be conjectured from the names of those rivers being so unsettled, but on the proper Nile; and its situation, notwithstanding the little difference between Pliny and
Eratosthenes, may be determined with the nicest accuracy by the small island just mentioned, which Bruce has not omitted to note upon his map. The ancient city of Meroë then stood a little below the present Shendy, under 17° N. lat., 54° E. long. Bruce saw its ruins from a distance. What Bruce and Burckhardt, however, only saw at a distance and hastily, has now been carefully examined by later travellers, . especially Caillaud, and placed before our eyes by their drawings. But, although it is probable that the true site of Meroe has here been indicated, yet it is proper to remark, that antiquaries have differed on the subject: some considering the ruins of Mount Berkel, considerably farther down the river, to point to the spot. (Edinb. Review, vol. 41, p. 181.) Mount Berkel is situated in Dar Sheyga, near a village called Merawe, at about 18° 31' N. lat., and the ruins are nearly of equal extent with those near Shendy. The circumstance of the name Merawe has doubtless led partly to this idea, but the argument is rendered null by the fact mentioned by Caillaud, that a place not far from Shendy, covered with remains of ancient buildings, is called El Meraouy, and similar names are by no means uncommon in many of the provinces of the Nile. The ruins at Mount Berkel, according to Caillaud, are probably those of Napata, originally the second city, and latterly the capital, of Ethiopia. (Long's Anc. Geogr., p. 78.) The site of the ancient city of Meroë is still indicated by the remains of a few temples, and of many other edifices of sandstone. The whole extent, according to Caillaud, amounts to nearly 4000 feet. The plain allowed sufficient room for a much larger city, and that the city itself was larger than what is here stated cannot for a moment be doubted.
1. Religion of Meroë.
From the observations of travellers who have carefully examined the ruins of Meroe, we arrive at the important deduction, that this region was once inhabited by a people equally as far advanced in refinement as the Egyptians, and whose style of architecture and religious ceremonies, as portrayed on the remains of that architecture, bear a close resemblance to those of Egypt. All this becomes extremely interesting when we call to mind what is stated by many of the ancient writers, that Meroë was the cradle of the religious and political institutions of Egypt: that here the arts and sciences arose; that here hieroglyphic writing was discovered; and that temples and pyramids $1. already sprung up in this quarter, while Egypt still remained ignorant of their existence. It stands as an incontrovertible fact, remarks Heeren (Ideen, vol. 4, p. 419 ; vol. 1, p.406, Oxford transl.), that, besides the pastoral and hunting tribes, which led a nomade life to the west of the Nile, and still more to the east, as far as the Arabian Gulf, there existed a cultivated people near this stream, in the valley through which it flows, who had fixed abodes, built cities, temples, and sepulchres, and whose remains even now, after the lapse of so many centuries, still excite our astonishment. It may farther be stated as a certainty, that the civilization of this people was, in an especial manner, connected with their religion; that is, with the worship of certain deities. The remains of their foundation prove this too clearly
for any doubt to be entertained on the subject. This religion, upon the whole, is not uncertain. It was the worship of Ammon and his kindred gods. The
circle of these deities was very nearly of the same extent as that of Olympus among the Greeks; it might, possibly, be somewhat larger. It became extended by the appearance of the same deity in different relations, and consequently with changed attributes, especially with different head-ornaments, and also under various forms. Without digressing into a detailed
description of particular deities, we may venture a step farther, adds the same writer, without fear of contradiction, and assert that this worship had its origin in natural religion connected with agriculture. The great works of nature were revered accordingly as they promoted or retarded and hindered this. i. seems natural that the sun and moon, so far as they determined the seasons and the year, the Nile and the earth as sources of fruitfulness, the sandy deserts as the opposers of it, should all be personified. One thing is remarkable, namely, that of all the representations of Nubia yet known, there is not one which, according to our notions, is offensive to decency. But this worship had, besides, as we know with certainty, a second element, oracles. Ammon was the original oracle-god of Africa: if afterward, as was the case in Egypt, other deities delivered oracles, yet they were of his race, of his kindred. Even beyond Egypt we hear of the oracles of Ammon. “The only gods worshipped in Meroë,” says Herodotus (2, 29), “are Zeus and Dionysos” (which he himself explains to be Ammon and Osiris). “They also have an oracle of Ammon, and undertake their expeditions when and how the god commands.” How these oracles were delivered we learn partly from history, partly srom representations on monuments. In the sanctuary stands a ship; upon it many holy vessels; but, above all, in the midst a portable tabernacle, surrounded with curtains, which may be drawn back. In this is an image of the god, set, according to Diodorus (2, 199), in precious stones; nevertheless, according to one account, it could have no human shape. (Curtius, 4, 7. “Umbilico similis.”) This statement of Curtius, however, is incorrect, not only because contradicted by the passage just quoted from Diodorus, but also because we see on one of the common monuments a complete portrait of Ammon.—The ship in the great temples seems to have been very magnificent. Sesostris presented one to the temple of Ammon at Thebes, made of cedar, the inside of cedar and the outside of gold. (Diod, 1, 57.) The same was hung about with silver goblets. When the oracle was to be consulted, it was carried around by a body of priests in procession, and from certain movements, either of the god or of the ship, both of which the priests had well under their command, the omens were gathered, according to which the high-priest then delivered the oracle. This ship is often represented, both upon the Nubian and Egyptian monuments, sometimes standing still, and sometimes carried in procession; but never anywhere except in the innermost sanctuary, which was its resting-place. Upon the Nubian monuments hitherto made known we discover this in two places; at Asseboa and Derar, and on each twice. Those of Asseboa are both standing. In one the tabernacle is veiled, but upon the other it is without a curtain. (Gau, plate xlv., B.) Ammon appears in the same sitting upon a couch; before him an altar with gifts. (Gau, plate xlv., A.) Upon one the king is kneeling before the ship at his devotions; in the other he is coming towards it with an offering of frankincense. In the sanctuary of the rock monument at Derar we also discover it twice. Once in
rocession, borne by a number of priests (Gau, plate i., C.); the tabernacle is veiled, the king meets it, bringing frankincense: the other time at rest. (Ibid., plate lii.) These processions are not only seen upon the great Egyptian temples at Philae, Elephantis, and Thebes, but also in the great Oasis. (Description de l'Egypte, pl. xiii., xxxvii., lxix.). These oracles were certainly the main support of this religion; and if we connect with them the local features of the countries, it will at once throw a strong light upon its origin. Fertility is here, as well as in Egypt, confined to the borders of the Nile. At a very short distance
otherwise than that crowds of men should congregate on the borders of the stream where the dhourra, almost the only corn here cultivated, would grow! And if they could satisfy their first cravings with the produce of this scanty space, was not the rise of a natural religion, referring to it, just what might be expected Add to all this, however, another circumstance highly important. Meroë was, besides, the chief mart for the trade of these regions. It was the grand emporium of the caravan trade between Ethiopia, the north of Africa, and Egypt, as well as of Arabia Felix and even India. (Heeren, Ideen, vol. 4, p. 423; vol. 1, p. 411, Orford transl.)
2. Government and General History of Meroë.
Meroë, according to the accounts of the ancient writers, was a city which had its settled constitution and laws, its ruler and government. But the form of this state was one which we too often find among the kingdoms of these southern regions; it was a hierarchy: the government was in the hands of a race or caste of priests, who chose from among themselves a king. Diodorus's account of them, which is the most extensive and accurate that we have, is here given. “The laws of the Ethiopians,” says he, speaking of Meroë (3, 5), “differ in many respects from those of other nations, but in none so much as in the election of their kings, which is thus managed. The priests select the most distinguished of their own order, and upon whichever of these the god (Jupiter Ammon) fixes, as he is carried in procession, he is acknowledged king by the people; who then fall down and adore him as a god, because he is placed over the government by the choice of the gods. The person thus selected immediately enjoys all the prerogatives which are conceded to him by the laws, in respect to his mode of life; but he can neither reward nor punish any one beyond what the usages of their forefathers and the laws allow. It is a custom among them to inflict upon no subject the sentence of death, even though É. should be legally condemned to that punishment; but they send to the malesactor one of the servants of justice, who bears the symbol of death. When the criminal sees this, he goes immediately to his own house, and deprives himself of life. . The Greek custom of escaping punishment by flight into a neighbouring country is not there permitted. It is said that the mother of one who would have attempted this strangled him with her own girdle, in order to save her family from that greater ignominy. But the most remarkable of all their institutions is that which relates to the death of the king. The priests at Meroë, for example, who attend to the service of the gods, and hold the highest rank, send a messenger to the king with an order to die. They make known to him that the gods command this, and that mortals should not withdraw from their decrees; and perhaps added such reasons as could not be controverted by weak understandings, prejudiced by custom, and unable to oppose anything thereto.” Thus far, Diodorus. The government continued in this original state till the period of the second Ptolemy, and its catastrophe is not less remarkable than its foundation. By its increased intercourse with Egypt, the light of Grecian philosophy penetrated into the interior of Africa. Ergamenes, at that time king of Meroë, tired of being priestridden, fell upon the priests in their sanctuary, Put them to death, and became effectually a sovereign. (Diodorus, 3, 6.)—Of the history of this state previous to the revolution just mentioned, but very scanty information has been preserved; but yet enough to show its high antiquity and its early aggrandizement. Pliny tells us (6, 35) that “Ethiopia was ruined by its wars with Egypt, which it sometimes subdued and sometimes served; it was powerful and illustrious even
from it the desert begins. How could it, then, be as sar back as the Trojan war, when Memnon reigned.