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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

Georges Cuvier

1. The Earliest Beginning / Les origines

2. The Chinese, Indians, Babylonians, and Egyptians

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ASHURBANIPAL. The last great king of Assyria (born 685, died 627 B.C.), in his chariot. From ancient Nineveh near the present-day city of Mosul, Iraq, and now in the Louvre, Paris. After Perrot (Georges) & Chipiez (Charles), Histoire de l’Art dans l’antiquité, tome II : Chaldée et Assyrie, Paris : Hachette et Cie, 1884, pl. 10.

ASHURBANIPAL. The last great king of Assyria (born 685, died 627 B.C.), in his chariot. From ancient Nineveh near the present-day city of Mosul, Iraq, and now in the Louvre, Paris. After Perrot (Georges) & Chipiez (Charles), Histoire de l’Art dans l’antiquité, tome II : Chaldée et Assyrie, Paris : Hachette et Cie, 1884, pl. 10.

1We saw in the previous meeting that the antiquity of the real world goes back to five or six thousand years. But history proper, true history, goes back no further than Cyrus, that is, 600 years before the birth of Christ. Before that time, we find only fabulous tales and poets for historians.

2Nevertheless, a very long time before that, four famous peoples were already firmly established over vast areas of Asia and Africa. These peoples were the Chinese, the Indians, the Babylonians, and the Egyptians. None of them, it is true, have left us regular annals of the early times of their existence; but from their monuments, it has been possible to ascertain their organization as a society of people to about the 15th century B.C.

3The first of these peoples, the Chinese, have remained in such isolation that even today they are almost unknown to the rest of the world. If they made progress in the sciences, the use of it did not go beyond the ramparts of their empire. Thus, we need not place this people among the number of those furthering the civilizing of the world, and we shall occupy ourselves only with the three other peoples, who communicated their science to the Greeks and who in turn communicated it to us.

  • 1 See Kreutzer [M. de St.-Agy]. [Kreutzer is Georg Friedrich Creuzer (born 10 March 1771; died 6 Feb (...)

4When one compares the history of India, Babylon, and Egypt, one cannot doubt but that there existed continuous communication between them as early as their origin, and that their origins are the same. In all three, in fact, one sees identical metaphysical and religious beliefs, a similar political establishment, the same style of architecture, and symbols for cloaking their beliefs that are clearly analogous. The symbols of the Babylonians are less familiar to us than those of Egypt and India; those of Egypt, handed down to us by the Greeks, and those of India, transmitted in written works, are thoroughly familiar to us.1

5However, I shall not lay much stress on these resemblances. The subject of metaphysics being the same for all men, it might appear quite natural that some peoples arrived independently at the same system of religious philosophy. And again, one might easily imagine these peoples adopting identical symbols, because, in general, symbols are the representation of beings that always and everywhere surround men.

6But identical political establishment is more surprising and cannot have come about except by frequent communication.

  • 2 This caste was for Indians what the Levites were for the Jews [M. de St.-Agy].
  • 3 This caste, called Ratpujes [Rajputs], was altered; it became necessary to go against ancient cust (...)
  • 4 Subdivision was so rigorous that the servant, for example, who swept up garbage, was never the one (...)

7In India, the people were divided into four main castes. The first was the Brahman, the most respected and most powerful. Its members were the trustees of science and the ministers of religion and the law, and to them alone belonged the right to read the sacred books2. The second caste was the warrior class. Its duty was the defense of the country, and it had the privilege of hearing the sacred books read3. The merchants made up the third caste, which contained as many subdivisions as there were types of commerce. Finally, the fourth caste comprised artisans, laborers, and others of low status, and it too contained as much hereditary subdivision as there were occupations and types of work4.

8This social distribution, which could not have been established except by a powerful mind and with the help of extraordinary means, is found also in Egypt and in perfect conformity. The Egyptian priests were like the Brahmans, trustees of science and religion, and like the Brahmans employed a special language the knowledge of which procured for them great respect; their reputation was so widespread that their learning was praised in every country.

9The political establishment of the Babylonians, according to what we know about it, was very like the social organization in India.

10The pyramidal shape of the ancient monuments of these three peoples perhaps proves better than the conformity of their religious and political organizations the ties they had with one another, or their common origin; for nothing is less fixed, nothing is more arbitrary, than the shape of an edifice. It would be impossible to think that the recurrence of this form was the result of the natural development of human faculties.

11True, the slender and graceful architecture of the column, which the Greeks and the Romans borrowed from these three peoples, might have come into being simultaneously in the artificial caverns of Upper Egypt and in the subterranean pagodas of India, because it would have been natural to leave here and there vertical masses to hold up the roof of the excavations hollowed in the rock. But the similarity of edifices that have been built above ground cannot be explained by the use of similar materials, because in Assyria only sunhardened bricks were used for lack of granite or syenite.

  • 5 [Babylon, one of the most famous cities of antiquity (at one time the largest city in the world), (...)

12The monuments made of these bricks were susceptible to erosion by time, and that is why few Babylonian constructions are extant. However, the pyramids of a temple to Venus have recently been discovered in the ruins of Babylon5, and thus a proof has been obtained of early communication between Babylon, India, and Egypt, all of which used the pyramid in architecture.

13And finally, these three peoples resemble each other in their geographical position. They settled in wide and fertile plains near great rivers that favored commercial traffic.

14History shows us India, first, in the rich valley of the river Ganges and on the fair plains of Bengal. Then history shows her people spreading into the valleys of the river Indus; and it is the latter that is most particularly spoken of in our Western world.

15The Babylonians colonized the plains of the Euphrates delta. The Egyptians peopled a rather narrow valley, upon the banks of the Nile; but their country was nonetheless the center of an immense commerce. It was through Egypt that all trade was effected between the northern parts of Africa, Ethiopia, and the eastern provinces of Asia.

16Oddly enough, religion protected the commerce of the three nations: a part of their temples was consecrated for use as a wayside station for caravans and as a depot for merchandise. The inhabitants of the country came there to trade.

17Despite all these elements of progress, these peoples remained at a standstill in the sciences and even became retrograde.

18The reason for this lack of progress in the sciences is especially to be found in the numerous invasions to which these peoples were subjected. The countries they inhabited formed a rich belt around vast plateaus of sand fit only to sustain nomadic or pastoral peoples. Such peoples hardly arrive at the degree of civilization of people who practice agriculture, not to mention people who devote themselves to commerce; but they are singularly qualified for war: they are more vigorous, more muscular, less fastidious about food, and less wedded to their native soil. When an enterprising chief arises among them, they are always ready, led by a taste for pillaging, to launch themselves upon their rich neighbors. In every age, history shows us civilized nations being attacked by nomadic people and even being controlled by them. China was conquered several times by the Tatars; for example, in the 17th century, the chief of the Manchurian Tatars was seated upon the imperial throne and founded a new dynasty that still reigns.

19India was subjected to Mongolian rule. The Mongols came down from the high plains that extend to the north of the Ganges basin and its tributaries.

20Babylon was conquered by the Assyrians, and later by the Persians.

21Egypt was invaded several times by nomadic people from another country. The first occupation, by herdsmen kings, lasted two hundred years, from 1750 to 1550 B.C. In that time, the priestly order lost its influence; it was entirely subdued and the march of science and art was completely halted. But under the dynasty that delivered Egypt from her conquerors, the priests regained their ascendancy.

  • 6 [Cambyses II (fl. 7th century B.C.), Achaemenid king of Persia (reigned 529-522 B.C.), who conquer (...)

22The second invasion of Egypt took place under Cambyses6. The Medes and the Persians committed great ravages there.

23Finally, after the beginning of our era, Egypt underwent conquest by the Saracens, the Turks, and the Arabs.

  • 7 Thus, the latest conquests, by the French, have been favorable for European civilization, and they (...)

24I have not mentioned Alexander’s victories because, far from having been contrary to civilization, they could only have brought elements of progress, since the Greeks were at the time far ahead of the Egyptians in the arts and sciences7.

25Continually interrupted in the Orient by barbarian invasions, the sciences could not be developed there. They did not have conditions favorable for their advance until they penetrated the West, through Greeks who had visited Egypt.

26India did not directly contribute to civilization in general. Although this country is readily encountered after one doubles the Cape of Good Hope, the ancient state and the development of her knowledge have been known to us for only the past twenty years, that is, since we succeeded in explaining her sacred books, which moreover are quite difficult to obtain because of religious interdict.

27However, it is likely that the sciences were born in India. Various considerations support this opinion.

  • 8 [Menes, also spelled Mena, Meni, or Min (fl. c. 2925 B.C.), first king of unified Egypt, who, acco (...)

28For one thing, India is in some parts very elevated. It contains the highest mountains known, those of the Himalayas and Tibet, which permit cultivation at a higher elevation than anywhere else. And so, during the last cataclysm, people could find refuge only in these mountains, for Babylonian lands were much too low and were submerged. Egypt, with an even lower elevation, scarcely yet existed; the whole lower part was nothing but alluvial plains of the Nile, and it was not until the time of Menes8, 2200 to 2400 B.C., that it could have been inhabited. One may verify this by observing the rising of the soil each year and comparing this with the totality of earlier layers, which are distinct one from another. The priests knew well how their country was formed, for they told Herodotus that Egypt was a gift of the Nile.

  • 9 This opinion is held by Monsieur F[riedrich von] Schlegel [born 10 March 1772, Hanover; died 12 Ja (...)
  • 10 [Manetho, also spelled Manethos or Manethon (fl. c. 300 B.C.), native of Sebennytus, Lower Egypt, (...)
  • 11 [Amenophis, also called Akhnaton (sometimes spelled Ikhnaton), Amenhotep IV, or Neferkheperure Ame (...)
  • 12 [Diodorus Siculus, see note 14, below, and Lesson 12, note 26.]
  • 13 [Meroë, city of ancient Cush (Kush) the ruins of which are located on the east bank of the Nile ab (...)
  • 14 The following historical objections have been made to this opinion of Monsieur Cuvier, an opinion, (...)

29Historical traditions that we seem not to have mentioned yet also lead us to regard India as being the first people and the creator of the sciences9. One sees in fragments from the works of Manetho10 that during the reign of Amenophis11, about 1600 B.C., a group of colonists left the banks of the Indus and settled in Ethiopia. Now, Diodorus of Sicily12 and all other historians who have written about the Egyptian religion claim that it came from Ethiopia or Upper Nubia. According to them, it was from this area that the priests who civilized Egypt came and who became the dominate caste. Thebes itself was a colony of Meroë13, the sacerdotal city of the Ethiopians. Thus, civilization must have come from India into Ethiopia and from there into Egypt. One may even follow it from the latter country into Babylon, for the same Diodorus, cited above, states that the Chaldeans, who made up the sacred caste in Babylonia, had their origin in a colony of Egyptian priests14.

30Because the Indians appear to be the first men to cultivate the sciences and because they are still the same as they were in Alexander’s time – despite the conquests to which they were subjected – one might have hoped to find among them abundant information on the origin and development of the sciences. But this hope has not been realized. It is not because these people have not written many books, and over a very long span of time, but rather with them there exists no historical writing. They do not even have lists of their kings and great men. Perhaps this resulted from the policy of the Brahmans, who intended to draw popular attention to their own caste; with this in mind they caused people to neglect to record the deeds of heroes or the great discoveries – both extraneous to their order – that improved the lot of mankind.

31What is certain is that, to this day, it is a point of doctrine among them not to write history. For this they give the reason that none of the events of the miserable era, that is, the present age, deserve to be perpetuated in the memory of men. Therefore, we have for this singular country neither facts nor events that might serve as guides through the dark ages. In the absence of chronicles or annals, we have no means of deriving any ideas about the Indians other than their monuments and various sorts of books, in which we search for some basis for induction, some indirect information.

  • 15 [Alexander the Great (see Lesson 7, below) died in 323 B.C.; Ptolemy I (see Lesson 7, note 18) in (...)

32The monuments give only feeble aid, for they carry no dates. However, we are sure that they came after the time of Alexander or Ptolemy15 because of the silence of the Greeks on the subject. For, had the monuments existed at that time, they doubtless would have been mentioned, their gigantic dimensions being proof that those writers would have noticed them.

33Moreover, the symbols represented on the monuments allow us to a certain point to determine their antiquity. All these symbols are related to present-day religion; therefore, the Indian temples known to us were built after the Vedas. Indian mythology, the result of the corruption of their ancient symbols, also was developed only in books written after the Vedas, since its metaphysic is wholly pantheistic.

34As for these works themselves, which are the oldest that India possesses, we have come to know their age by means of a calendar appended to one of them indicating the position of a vernal equinox. With the indication of this position and the help of the laws governing the precession of the equinoxes, astronomers know that this calendar was developed in about 1500 B.C.

35The Vedas contain moral precepts, prayers, and a pantheistic metaphysic. The Oupavedas, a part of the Vedas, contain various writings about the sciences, medicine, war, architecture, music, and the mechanical arts that were then very little known. These two works, and some very important poems, are written in Sanskrit. This language, which is not used by the people, and is so perfectly regular that it is supposed never to have been spoken, is quite remarkable in that it contains the roots of Greek, Latin, Slavonian, and modern European languages. As a result of this fact, we must again go back to India to find language, the first instrument of the sciences.

36The part of the Vedas that treats of astronomy contains very few rules. Those that the Indians use in calculating the eclipses are set forth in verse, bearing a date long after that assigned to the Vedas. Brahmans, who make up the astronomer caste, are obliged to learn by heart these works in verse.

  • 16 [Jean-Sylvain Bailly (born 15 September 1736, Paris; died 12 November 1793, Paris), French astrono (...)

37Bailly16, as is well known, maintained in the 18th century that long ago Indian astronomy was much more advanced than it is now and even that another people must have preceded the Indians. He based this mainly on the existence of certain astronomical tables that seemed to him to prove that the Brahmans possessed more advanced methods of calculation than seemed possible given the state of mathematics among them at the time. But supposing this were true, all that can be legitimately concluded is that the Indians of ancient times were slightly less ignorant than they are today.

  • 17 [Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre (born 19 September 1749, Amiens; died 19 August 1822, Paris), Frenc (...)
  • 18 [Richard Bentley (born 27 January 1662, Oulton, Yorkshire, England; died 14 July 1742, Cambridge, (...)

38One might also claim, with Monsieur Delambre17, that the Indians did not invent their formulas, and that they received them from the Arabs. But whatever their origin, these formulas are far from the perfection ascribed to them by Bailly. If the Brahmans are to be believed, they possessed a series of astronomical observations dating from four thousand years before the Christian era, and at that distant time there was a conjunction of all the planets. If this conjunction actually took place, it is possible with mathematics to know exactly its past occurrence. Now, Bentley18 has studied the era of this extraordinary phenomenon and he has come to the conclusion that it did not occur at the time indicated by the Indian tables. Authentic documents, which Bailly could not have consulted in his time, have proved the error of his method and also given the key to the Indian fable. It was noticed that, if in back-calculation one used the faulty formulas of the Indians instead of the correct formulas we use today, one got an erroneous result which gave – for precisely the epoch mentioned by the Indians, namely, for the four thousandth year before our era – the occurrence of a conjunction of all the planets. It was no doubt in order to make us believe in the extreme antiquity of their science that the Brahmans had thus given as an observation a phenomenon that they had calculated only a posteriori.

39From these facts and several others that we owe to the researches of an English scholar, it is clearly seen that ancient India had neither an advanced astronomy nor an exact geometry.

40But about 2,000 years before Christ, a time when one of their colonies was civilized, trade already existed among them; they traded in gemstones, precious metals, plants, and perfumes. We have some proof of their knowledge of natural history. They also had some rough knowledge of chemistry. But their institutions did not permit the development of their knowledge. For example, their religion forbade them to touch cadavers; hence, the horror for killing and even for hides opposed any progress they might make in zoology.

41These obstacles to the development of the sciences exist even today in all their power. Recently a Brahman permitted a book of the Vedas to be given to an Englishman only on the express condition that he not have it bound in morocco leather or calf-skin, that it be bound only in silk. With such prejudices it is impossible to form zoological collections, and the science is suppressed forever.

42Although they were civilized by the Indians, as we have seen, it is thus probable that the Egyptians might have received from them only their social organization, the shape of several of their architectural monuments, and their knowledge of minerals and Indian plants and of customs relative to domestic life.

43But in Egypt much more than in India were united circumstances favorable to the development of the sciences and arts. Her soil, made fertile by the flooding of the Nile, required but little work on the part of agriculture; and during the two months of flooding, the Egyptians, prisoners in their own towns, necessarily were devoted to meditation and study, as well as to pleasures devoid of important results. Thus they made many useful discoveries. To reestablish the boundaries of properties destroyed or changed by the overflowing of the Nile, they invented a land measurement that led by necessity to the study of geometry. Urged by the need to drain or spread the floodwaters, they succeeded in learning the complex art of digging canals. The flooding of the Nile was important for Egypt in that it led the inhabitants to seek a means of knowing in advance the season of its recurrence. The periodic regularity of the movement of the stars furnished them this means; moreover, since the extreme rarity of rain in this country, the perfect clarity of the atmosphere, especially favored the observation of celestial events, astronomy was developed there earlier and more rapidly that anywhere else. For example, the Egyptians were the first to have a solar year of 365 days, and then of 365 ¼ days.

44Architecture was promoted by them in various ways: first, by the numerous quarries of granite, hard sandstone, and calcareous rock that the country possesses; second, by the ease of transport by the Nile River along the whole valley; and finally, by the same-circumstance that hastened the development of astronomy, namely, a dry, pure atmosphere. Thus it is that extant Egyptian monuments are perfectly preserved and very numerous. We shall see later on another reason for their great number.

45Mineralogy commences usually with the exploitation of quarries or the formation of caverns. In Egypt it began more readily than anywhere else because minerals in that region are so close to the surface as to seem to offer themselves to the observer for study. Thus, they were known very early on, and not only their appearance but also their chemical properties.

46Not that chemistry was very advanced in Egypt – far from it – but some processes were known. Through the action of fire, Egyptians knew how to transform minerals into glass; they prepared colors. And one might remark in passing that the name given to this science, once it began to be known in Europe, is the same as its place of origin. Chim, from which we get chimie, is the ancient name of Egypt in the Coptic language; and the word chim itself, if we trace its etymology as far as possible, comes from Cham, one of Noah’s sons, as everyone knows. Thus, chemistry originally signified Egyptian science. But we must not conclude from this that what afterwards was called Egyptian science, the hermetic or secret art of transmuting metals, was known in antiquity. This so-called transmutation was completely unknown; its origin goes no further back than the Middle Ages, a time of musings or practices of all sorts; and the books of Hermes are obviously counterfeit: they were written at Constantinople by Greeks of the Late Roman Empire.

47Of all the sciences whose origins we are seeking, natural history, properly speaking, and anatomy owe the most to Egypt. Indeed, the religion of that country was not the obstacle to their progress that it was in India. Far from being an obstacle, it required that men cultivate the sciences, up to a certain point; for it had adopted most of its symbols from the animal kingdom and had made several individuals from that kingdom the objects of worship.

  • 19 According to [Charles François] Dupuis [born 1742, Trye-Château, France; died 29 September 1809; F (...)

48To explain this difference in religion one may suppose with some probability that the Ethiopian priests, who were of Indian origin, found peoples in Egypt devoted to the superstitions of fetishism, as certain Negroes still are. In order to gain the confidence of these barbarians, the priests adopted their religious beliefs. In fact, otherwise, they would have been exposed to enmity both open and covert, and they were too prudent and too adroit not to avoid this. And so they united the Egyptian divinities with their own, and thus it was that Osiris had the head of a hawk; Isis, an ibis or a cow; Jupiter Ammon, a ram; Saturn, a crocodile; Anubis, a dog; etc.19

49The various animals that partook of divine honors inhabited, as is reasonable, the temples of the gods to which they were allied; to that end, aviaries, fish-ponds, and all other buildings necessary for their protection were constructed within the temple precincts. In these temples, the bull Apis was a special object of singular attention and respect.

  • 20 This opinion on the ability of the Egyptians in the imitative arts is perhaps a bit generous. When (...)

50Because of these religious arrangements, there was always the opportunity to observe the outward characteristics of animals that were sacred, their form, their ways or habits, and they could be drawn with accuracy. Thus, the representations made of them on the walls of monuments are of a satisfactory fidelity.20

  • 21 Monsieur [Étienne] Pariset [5 August 1770, Village des Vosges; died 6 July 1847, Paris], a celebra (...)
  • 22 [Galen of Pergamum, see Lesson 16, below.]

51There is a second difference, more important for the sciences, between the Indian and Egyptian religions. The latter not only prescribed the embalming of sacred animals when they died, but even allowed the embalming of the cadavers of humans and of animals not belonging to the deified species21. Now, this custom necessarily procured knowledge for the men who executed its tasks, about the form and position of the viscera contained in the thorax and abdomen, about the muscles, membranes, and the bony and cartilaginous elements that compose these cavities. In fact, it is in Egypt that anatomy was first developed. It is under this fair sky that the Greeks, who burned their cadavers, and consequently could not attain any notions about anatomy, were instructed in this science that is so important to us today, for there is no good medical treatment possible without it and it is the basis of all our philosophical ideas about animal economy. The Greeks were so ignorant of anatomical science that they did not even know the osteology of man, for Galen22 himself traveled to Egypt expressly to see a human skeleton represented in bronze.

52It would be extremely interesting to study the development of the sciences in this country where they made such rapid progress. But none of the numerous works written by the ancient Egyptians are extant: all are destroyed or lost; and so we have perhaps even less information about the advance of the sciences in Egypt than we have for pursuing their history in India.

  • 23 [Clement’s Stromateis], sixth book, p. 757. The number of books by Hermes, mentioned in the Stroma (...)

53However, we know what subjects were treated in their books. Clement of Alexandria has preserved for us in his Stromateis23 a catalog of the sacred books of Hermes. These books were particularly venerated in Egypt. They were carried in procession at religious ceremonies, and every priest was obliged to know by heart at least the part relative to the ceremonies. They were about theology and philosophy, ritual, the teaching of priests, the priestly discipline, laws, arts, the structure of man, his maladies, therapies, the eyes, and finally women.

54As one can see, none of these books are about history, and thus we have no annals of Egypt. It seems that we may justifiably conclude that Egyptian priests, like those in India and for the same motives, followed systematically the custom of not recording for the future the remembrance of events they had witnessed or that had occurred in their lifetime.

  • 24 [Eusebius (born c. 260, probably in Palestine; died c. 340, Caesarea), bishop of Caesarea in Pales (...)
  • 25 [For Manetho, see note 10, above. The “temple of Heliopolis” is the cult temple of the sun god Re (...)
  • 26 [Eratosthenes of Cyrene (born c. 276 B.C., Cyrene, Libya; died c. 194, Alexandria, Egypt), Greek s (...)

55Nevertheless, we possess some lists of Egyptian kings, preserved for us by Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea24, by Manetho, keeper of the sacred archives at the temple of Heliopolis25, and by Eratosthenes, second director of the library at Alexandria26. Although these lists do not agree with one another, it can be useful to consult them, if one remembers the changes that Egypt has gone through in its political geography.

56It appears that this country was formerly divided into small independent states, each governed by a prince. The names of these sovereigns, instead of being listed by historians in parallel series, have been written one after another, as if the kings who bore the names had succeeded one another. As a result, the number of Egyptian kings was irreconcilable with what we knew about the length of the reigns, and thus, some authors made Egypt excessively ancient.

57The conquest by the shepherd-kings abolished all the small kings in Egypt, and reunited their states under the rule of one chief.

58After expelling the conquerors, the victorious dynasty was to continue to rule the whole of Egypt. It was only after this reuniting of the separate parts of Egypt into one state that the country became truly powerful and executed those immense works that are still objects of wonder.

  • 27 [Jean-François Champollion (born 23 December 1790, Figeac, France; died 4 March 1832, Paris), Fren (...)

59Monsieur Champollion’s discoveries have placed these facts beyond doubt27. He realized that none of the names of Egyptian princes inscribed on the monuments in hieroglyphics belonged to dynasties earlier than the seventeenth and eighteenth, that is to say, to dynasties earlier than those that, around 1500 B.C., delivered Egypt from domination by the nomadic conquerors.

  • 28 [Louis XII, also called (until 1498) Duc d’Orléans, byname Father of the People (born 27 June 1462 (...)
  • 29 [Charles-Louis de Secondat, see Lesson 7, note 1.]
  • 30 [Henri IV, also called (until 1572) Prince de Béarn, byname Henry of Navarre, or of Bourbon, Frenc (...)
  • 31 [Saint Vincent de Paul (born 24 April 1581, Pouy, now Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, France; died 27 Septe (...)

60One might even claim that the monuments that seem to have been raised to honor these dynasties, since they bear their names, came long afterwards, for the gratitude of men is not always contemporaneous with those who have earned it. The monuments might not have been built until centuries after their death, as in our day for example we erect memorials to Louis XII28, Montesquieu29, Henri IV30, Vincent de Paul31, and other notable persons.

  • 32 [Sesostris I (fl. 20th century B.C.), king of Egypt (reigned 1908-1875 B.C.) who succeeded his fat (...)

61As for the famous pyramids of Egypt, which belong to the infancy of the art and are certainly earlier than architecture with columns and elegant proportions, it is Manetho’s opinion that they were constructed after the reign of Sesostris32, who conquered the shepherd-kings. There is other evidence for this: the emigration of the Jews took place during the last years of the shepherd-kings’ rule, or shortly after their expulsion. Now, nowhere in the Bible are the pyramids mentioned, nor did the Hebrews imitate them.

62It even seems that before the emigration of this people the Egyptians used brick in building their monuments, for the Hebrews complained about the enormous quantity they had to fabricate and the quantity of straw they had to gather in order to fire these bricks. But we no longer find ancient edifices constructed with this material; they have disappeared through the action of time.

  • 33 [Cecrops, see Lesson 1, note 49.]
  • 34 [Danaus, in Greek legend, son of Belus, king of Egypt, and twin brother of Aegyptus. Driven out of (...)

63Neither did the Greek colonies that came from Egypt, with Cecrops33 and Danaus34, have any knowledge of the pyramids, for the Greeks never imitated that form.

  • 35 [See the Iliad, book 9, ff. 381-382 (Prendergast (Guy Lushington), A complete concordance to the I (...)

64Homer was the first who spoke of the gigantic monuments of Egypt. He mentions Thebes, which he calls the city of a Hundred Gates, probably alluding to the enormous propylaea that exist before the numerous temples that this city contains35.

65Like considerations might be useful in determining the dates before which one cannot claim construction for the other monuments in Egypt.

66We shall continue with the history of this country in our next meeting.


1 See Kreutzer [M. de St.-Agy]. [Kreutzer is Georg Friedrich Creuzer (born 10 March 1771; died 6 February 1858), a German philologist and archaeologist, best known for his Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker, besonders der Griechen, von Dr. Friedrich Creuzer, 2nd ed., Leipzig und Darmstadt: Heyer & Leske, 6 vols, 1819-1828 (first published 1810-1812), in which he maintained that the mythology of Homer and Hesiod came from an Eastern source through the Pelasgians (see Lesson 4, note 4), and reflected the symbolism of an ancient revelation.]

2 This caste was for Indians what the Levites were for the Jews [M. de St.-Agy].

3 This caste, called Ratpujes [Rajputs], was altered; it became necessary to go against ancient customs, as often happens, and raise soldiers elsewhere [M. de St.-Agy].

4 Subdivision was so rigorous that the servant, for example, who swept up garbage, was never the one who took it away [M. de St.-Agy].

5 [Babylon, one of the most famous cities of antiquity (at one time the largest city in the world), capital of southern Mesopotamia (Babylonia) from the early second millennium to the early first millennium B.C. and capital of the Neo-Babylonian (Chaldean) Empire in the 7th and6th centuries B.C., when it was at the height of its splendour. Its extensive ruins on the Euphrates River about 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Baghdad lie near the modern town of al-Hillah, Iraq.
The present site, an extensive field of ruins, contains several prominent mounds. The main mounds are (1) Babil, the remains of Nebuchadrezzar’s palace in the northern corner of the outer rampart; (2) Qasr, comprising the palace complex (with a building added in Persian times), the Ishtar Gate, and the Emakh temple; (3) Amran ibn Ali, the ruins of Esagila; (4) Merkez, marking the ancient residential area east of Esagila; (5) Humra, containing rubble removed by Alexander from the ziggurat in preparation for rebuilding, and a theater he built with material from the ziggurat; and (6) Ishin Aswad, where there are two further temples, one of which has been attributed to Venus. An over-life-size basalt lion, probably of Hittite origin and brought to Babylon in antiquity, stands north of the Ishtar Gate.]

6 [Cambyses II (fl. 7th century B.C.), Achaemenid king of Persia (reigned 529-522 B.C.), who conquered Egypt in 525; he was the eldest son of King Cyrus II the Great by Cassandane, daughter of a fellow Achaemenid. During his father’s lifetime Cambyses was in charge of Babylonian affairs. In 538 he performed the ritual duties of a Babylonian king at the important New Year festival, and in 530, before Cyrus set out on his last campaign, he was appointed regent in Babylon. The conquest of Egypt, planned by Cyrus, was the major achievement of Cambyses’s reign.]

7 Thus, the latest conquests, by the French, have been favorable for European civilization, and they have perhaps compensated for the ravages that always result from the conflict of men armed for destruction [M. de St.-Agy].

8 [Menes, also spelled Mena, Meni, or Min (fl. c. 2925 B.C.), first king of unified Egypt, who, according to tradition, joined Upper and Lower Egypt in a single, centralized monarchy. Manetho, a 3rd century-B.C. Egyptian historian (see note 10, below), called him Menes; the 5th-century-B.C. Greek historian Herodotus referred to him as Min; and two native-king lists of the nineteenth dynasty (13th century B.C.) call him Meni.]

9 This opinion is held by Monsieur F[riedrich von] Schlegel [born 10 March 1772, Hanover; died 12 January 1829, Dresden, Saxony; German writer and critic, originator of many of the philosophical ideas that inspired the early German Romantic movement; see Schlegel (Friedrich von), The Aesthetic and Miscellaneous Works of Friedrich von Schlegel [tr. from the German by Millington E. J.], London: H. G. Bohn, 1849, xxiii + 533 p. It is also close to that of [Jean-Sylvain] Bailly [see note 16, below], who thought that a people had existed who taught other peoples everything, except its name and the fact that it existed, as [Jean Le Rond] d’Alembert [born 17 November 1717, Paris; died 29 October 1783, Paris; French mathematician, philosopher, scientist, and writer] says in his correspondence with Voltaire, vol. 2 [see Pappas (John Nicholas), Voltaire and d’Alembert, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962, 183 p. (Indiana university Humanities series; 50)]. But in general, scholars think otherwise: Despite Monsieur [Georges] F[rédéric] Cuvier’s [younger brother of Georges Cuvier, born 28 June 1773, Montbéliard; died 24 July 1838, Strasbourg; head keeper of the ménagerie at the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris from 1804 to 1838] interesting work on dog breeds [Cuvier (Frédéric), “Recherches sur les caractères ostéologiques qui distinguent les principales races du chien domestique”, Annales du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, vol. 18, 1811, pp. 333-353], they believe there are several species of human beings. For example, those having nasal bones joined in such a way as to form a single piece, as in the orangutan and the macaque; or those in whom the olecranial depression of the humerus instead of being a simple cavity is perforated, as in the Guanches [indigenous population of the Canary Islands]; or those whose wool-like hair is unchanging under all climatic conditions are considered to form a species distinct from the Caucasian species. Messieurs [Étienne] Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire [born 15 April 1772, Étampes, France; died 19 June 1844, Paris], [Henri Marie Ducrotay] de Blainville [born 1777; died 1850], [Julien-Joseph] Virey [born 1775; died 1846], and other first-order naturalists are of the same opinion, and I say frankly that persons who reject this opinion seem to me less influenced by the facts of science than by considerations alien to it [M. de St.-Agy].

10 [Manetho, also spelled Manethos or Manethon (fl. c. 300 B.C.), native of Sebennytus, Lower Egypt, historian and priest who wrote a history of Egypt in Greek, probably for Ptolemy Ier Soter (see Lesson 7, note 18). Manetho’s history has not survived except for some fragments of narrative in Josephus’s (see Lesson 9, note 42) treatise “Contra Apionem” (Josephus (Flavius), Against Apion [translation and commentary by Barclay John M. G.], Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2007 + lxxi + 430 p.); and tables of dynasties, kings, and lengths of reigns in the works of Sextus Julius Africanus (born c. A. D. 180, Jerusalem; died c. 250; first Christian historian known to produce a universal chronology; see Africanus (Sextus Julius), Chronographiae: the extant fragments/Iulius Africanus [ed. by Wallraff Martin; translation by Adler William (greek-english), Berlin: N. de Gruyter, 2007, lxxxix + 350 p.); Eusebius (see note 24, below); and George the Syncellus (fl. late 8th century, died after 810; Byzantine historian and author of a world chronicle of events from the creation to the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian who reigned 284-305, see George the Syncellus, Georgii Syncelli Ecloga chronographica [ed. by Mosshammer Alden A.; text in greek, foreword in latin], Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1984, xxxvii + 507 p. (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana). The fragments thus preserved showed that Manetho’s work was based on good native sources. These fragments have been of much service to scholars in confirming the succession of kings where the archaeological evidence was inconclusive, and Manetho’s division of the rulers of Egypt into 30 dynasties is still accepted.]

11 [Amenophis, also called Akhnaton (sometimes spelled Ikhnaton), Amenhotep IV, or Neferkheperure Amenhotep (fl. 14th century B.C.), king of Egypt (1353-1336 B.C.) of the eighteenth dynasty, who established a new monotheistic cult of Aton.]

12 [Diodorus Siculus, see note 14, below, and Lesson 12, note 26.]

13 [Meroë, city of ancient Cush (Kush) the ruins of which are located on the east bank of the Nile about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Kabushiyah in the present-day Sudan; Meroë is also the name of the area surrounding the city.]

14 The following historical objections have been made to this opinion of Monsieur Cuvier, an opinion, moreover, that he seems not to hold very firmly. The objections sometimes verge on the false, but they contain ideas on the primitive distribution of societies and their governance conformable to those that I myself would bring up to Monsieur Cuvier, and it is for that reason that I bring them forward here.
Monsieur Cuvier holds that men, at first confined upon the slopes of the Himalayas, must have descended with the beginnings of culture, with laws, institutions, beliefs, which they carried with them wherever they migrated, and thus is explained the astonishing similarity of the social forms of the most ancient nations. But how can we explain the savage conditions under which Greeks, Sicilians, and many other peoples of Europe and Asia lived for so long? We would have to say that colonists from India were able to preserve their civilization only in Ethiopia and everywhere else they sank into the deepest savagery. But that is not likely. When the New World was discovered, there existed in America three or four populous empires; but there were also small tribes the length of the continent, from Cape Horn to the icy regions of the Arctic Pole. This must have happened also in the ancient world. There too the necessities of life must have driven the populations to disperse as soon as global conditions permitted [following the great Flood] and perhaps Spain had inhabitants before any society was regularly established. One fact to be noticed is that wherever ancient sailors traveled they found men already there; even the islands were populated, as they are today in the Southern Ocean; and because of this distribution of humanity, many seats of civilization came into being simultaneously.
This in fact is what happened. Through the night of time a few lights pierce, allowing us to glimpse mankind coming to life and taking social shape in various loci: on one hand, in Bactria [or Bactriana, ancient country of southwest Asia between Hindu Kush and the Oxus river] and Upper Armenia, the Eden of the Aramean races; on the other, upon the two coasts of the Red Sea, at Meroë, Axum [in what is now Ethiopia], Saba [ancient kingdom in southwestern Arabia]. Surely, as Monsieur Cuvier says, communication took place between the peoples, war and trade brought them together; there was mutual borrowing; but they grew up by themselves, and if we must name the elder brothers of civilization, we would say first the Ethiopians, then the Chaldeans. From the north, probably from Bactria, tribes descended into the valleys of the Indus and the Ganges that subjugated India. It is not in one day that they reached the shores of the Ocean, nor was it a day’s work to construct vessels and learn enough about navigation to discover Ethiopia and settle there. Now, from earliest centuries the name of wise Ethiopia resounds and the tower or pyramid of Belus arises. The Egyptian priests did not forget their Ethiopian origins. Why would they not remember that their ancestors had come from India? Monsieur Cuvier relies on a passage, preserved by [George the] Syncellus [fl. late 8th century, died after 810; Byzantine historian and author of a world chronicle of events from the creation to the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305)], in which Manetho [see note 10, above] writes about a colony that left the banks of the Indus and arrived in Egypt during the reign of Amenophis [see note 11, above]. (Here is the exact sense of the passage in Syncellus [translated from the Latin]: The Ethiopians, having set forth from the river Indus, chose a home for themselves above Egypt. We must remember that the ancients called all black or swarthy people Ethiopians, and accordingly an Ethiopia existed between the Persian Gulf and the mouth of the Indus.) This passage is far from confirming his opinion. Under Amenophis, Thebes was in all its splendor, but Thebes was but the creature of Meroë. Certainly, it was not the Indians of Manetho who brought to Ethiopia the institutions, laws, the social organization into castes, which long before had been established and already transported to Thebes. See how old Ethiopia is! From her bosom came Egypt, and Egypt had realms when Abraham visited her.
Diodorus of Sicily [see Lesson 12, note 26] says, if we have properly understood Monsieur Cuvier, that the Chaldeans [see Lesson 1, note 35] came from Ethiopia. All that Diodorus tells us, it seems to me, is that the Chaldeans were descended from the oldest families of Babylon and they lived like the Egyptian priests. In any case, there are better reasons for believing that the Chaldeans were of Ethiopian origin than that the Ethiopians were of Indian origin. Diodorus, agreeing in this matter with the Arab annalists, asserts that Ariaeus, an Arab prince, assisted Ninus [in Greek mythology, Ninus was king of Assyria, said to have conquered in 17 years all of western Asia with the help of Ariaeus, king of Arabia] in the wars that subjected the Babylonians to him, and it is also certain that the Arabs had always traveled the banks of the Euphrates and even ruled there from time to time. Now, the Arabs and the masters of Ethiopia are most likely people of the same family. Judging by the name Habesh, which designated the countries on both shores of the Red Sea, and by Oriental tradition, it must have been Arab tribes that first subjugated the Nubian populations and founded the states of Meroë, Axum, and Arkek. From these states, colonists must have returned to the mother country and there in their turn have set up the celebrated rule of the Homerite [Homeric] kings. At any rate, populations from the north fought with the Arabs over Mesopotamia, and presumably the Chaldeans were descended from one of these peoples. Men from the East found in the country of Shinar [Babylonia] a land where they settled and they built the Tower of Babel: this would hardly pertain to the Ethiopians.
Is the similarity in social organizations, and especially the division of the country into castes, enough to prove that the Indians, Egyptians, and Chaldeans had a common origin? Not in our opinion. However extraordinary the caste system seems to us, it was nevertheless the organization used by most societies in the infancy of civilization. Like the Indians and Egyptians, the nations of Iran and Bactria chose it in the Old World; in America, the Spaniards found three regularly established empires and all three were organized like the old Chaldean society and the present-day society in India. In Mexico, the priests, without being yet entirely separate from the nobility, held sway over the nation, and beneath the ruling class were two others – the laborers, and the lowest the enslaved bearers of burdens, virtual Sudras [the fourth and lowest of the traditional varnas, or social classes, of Hindu India, traditionally artisans and laborers]. In Peru the system was complete: the children of the sun would have been defiled by contact with the children of the earth, and the nobles considered their yanaónas impure.
Africa is still in our day a country of castes. At Ardra, Juida, the Gold Coast, everywhere, one finds a hereditary priesthood and social classes completely separated from each other by inequality of rights and the occupations of the families that compose them. Among the Ashantis, [Thomas Edward] Bowdich [born 20 June 1791, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England; died 10 January 1824, Bathurst, Gambia; British traveler and scientific writer who in 1817 completed peace negotiations with the kingdom of Ashanti (now in Ghana)] was struck by the resemblance between their priestly hierarchy and that of ancient Egypt [see Bowdich (Thomas Edward), Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee [ed. with notes and an introd. by Ward W. E. F.], 3rd ed., [London]: Frank Cass & co, 1966, 512 p.] At Loango in the Congo, the head of the priests is the veritable master of the country; he affirms or nullifies the election of kings, and, amazingly, the high priest is chosen and put to death with ceremonies that recall in detail what we know about the sovereigns of Meroë. In these countries, the division of castes is complete. After the priests, who alone, as in India and ancient Egypt, practice medicine and who own land that they hand down from father to son, come the nobles, then the courtiers and merchants, finally the people, beneath whom are the slaves. Only Vedas [books of knowledge; see Lesson 1, note 28] are lacking to establish and confirm what already exists as fact. In Africa, not even Mohammedanism can save the people from priestly sway. Almost everywhere the marabout-priests [members of a Muslim religious community living in a fortified monastery, serving both religious and military functions] have become a sacred caste; their children succeed them; there are cities inhabited by them alone; and often they govern the states. Events are remembered that raised them to power, or that sometimes led to their downfall. In Bambuk [in Mali], for example, the Manding [or Malinke, a negroid Sudanese people who in 1230 founded the great Mali Empire, which reached the height of its power in the 14th century] marabouts [or murabits, originally, in North Africa, members of a Muslim religious community living in a ribat, a fortified monastery, serving both religious and military functions] fought against the nobility, whom they meant to plunder, but they were defeated and exterminated, and ever since, any priest that enters the country is put to death.
All this has a natural explanation: in the age of ignorance, everything is marveled at, a subject for men’s awe, they see the intervention of the gods everywhere, and soon the soothsayers appear, the tricksters that exploit men’s fears. Sickness, accidents, predictions, are all within their province; they are physicians, priests; they know how to make the good gods favorable and conjure up the bad gods; they are consulted about the future; and in order to impress the people’s imagination, they devise a multitude of bizarre ceremonies, secret formulas, expiations, which they use whenever anyone seeks their aid. Usually full of faith in their own science, they use it as a weapon, as a means of domination; they keep it secret, communicating it only to their children. In this way, a fearsome force remains in the hands of a single class, and as temples are built and embellished, this class, united by a common interest, becomes detached, isolated from the rest of the population, and ceases to mingle with it. At the same time arises a warrior aristocracy that rules the population and ends up completely separate from it. Thus, the three castes. Let a nation so constituted go off to conquer, the conquered will fall into servitude and soon will form a lowest caste, kept down by its masters’ contempt. Thus are born the states of India and Chaldea. Time, the cleverness of the sacerdotal castes, and human pride, always avid for preference and distinctions, have widened the original distance and little by little multiplied the subdivisions, which elsewhere are called the development of arts and industry. New combinations then take place in social hierarchies, and the laws perfect the operation of circumstances.
Nor is there any need of a sacerdotal body in order for such arrangements to take place in society. Successive conquests by different races suffice to produce them. In present-day Khiva [Uzbekistan], the vicissitudes of war have created warrior, trader, and farmer castes. There the Karakalpaks, a subjected people in former times, have become serfs bound to the soil. The Sarty, their former masters, disarmed and despoiled by new conquerors, remained in the towns where they were the only people conducting trade. Finally, the Nobeks, the latest conquerors, and their allies the Turkomans, have reserved for themselves the exclusive right to bear arms. These populations of different origins have never mingled; the Nobeks are profoundly disdainful of the Sarty and their occupations, who in turn disdain the Karakalpaks. If there were a religious caste, which the Moslem religion forbids, Khiva would offer a sample of India.
Therefore, it would not be in a system of social organization, given to so many different peoples by the spread of civilization, that we might look for the proof of Indian origin for the Chaldeans and Egyptians.
Do architectural forms in the three countries offer less equivocal clues? We do not believe so. Like the architecture of India, that of Egypt began in subterranean constructions to which caves in mountains lend themselves, and that suffices to explain their similarity. As for Babylonian architecture, the nature of the materials used must set it apart, and the fact that we know so little about it proves that this must be so. The Tower or temple of Babel was a stepped pyramid like those in Mexico, and certainly nothing in surviving descriptions of the works of Semiramis [or Sammu-ramat, Assyrian queen (fl. late 9th century B.C.) who built Babylon] is reminiscent of Egyptian taste.
There were, however, in India and Egypt some characteristics of a truly surprising similarity. Monsieur Cuvier has indicated them; but might there not also exist between these countries some differences so characteristic that they exclude any idea of family relationship between these peoples? First, in India, no trace of hieroglyphics – the most ancient inscriptions that have been found there are strictly alphabetical – and certainly, it is not to be supposed that the Indians forgot whilst in Ethiopia their native country’s system of writing and dreamed up one more imperfect and less convenient. And then, whereas the Indians burn their dead, the Egyptians embalm theirs and place them in necropolises; a fact all the more important since it is proof of different ideas about the afterlife. And that is not all. At Meroë, the priestesses had a share in all the honors enjoyed by the priestly caste; priestesses mounted the throne, even commanded armies, if one can believe history and the monuments. Now, nothing is more contrary to the principles of India. There, the women are kept in a degrading dependence; and the women who serve in the temples are at the orders of brahmans who do not even choose them from their own caste. In addition there is the difference between languages; neither Chaldea’s nor Egypt’s belongs to a Sanskrit root.
But if we cannot claim that Egypt and Chaldea owe their institutions to India, we shall certainly agree with Monsieur Cuvier on the communications between the peoples of antiquity. Communications were in fact more active and more frequent than is ordinarily supposed. In the shade of the temples at Axum and Meroë flourished a wide commerce, the ramifications of which were spread over the whole ancient world; to Babylon came numerous caravans from every point in Asia and Africa. There the banyans [merchants] of India and the merchants of Ethiopia would meet and exchange ideas and products; from there were exported traditions, myths, civic and political principles of the most distant nations; and yet, if one judges from the known character of the people and from several other indications, the Indians must not have thronged there; they were to await in their own country the visits of Arabian sailors and of traders in the Persian Gulf.
A long discussion like this, on the sole point of Monsieur Cuvier’s historical doctrines that seem to us to be mistaken, well shows the importance we attach to all the opinions of the great professor. May he continue a course that demands so much and so rare knowledge: for, the history of natural sciences, as he treats of it, is also a magnificent history of humanity; intellectual development has always determined the advance of these sciences, and humanity, in exchange for labors consecrated to the sciences, has received the means of action to which are due the marvels of civilization [M. de St.-Agy].

15 [Alexander the Great (see Lesson 7, below) died in 323 B.C.; Ptolemy I (see Lesson 7, note 18) in 282 B.C.]

16 [Jean-Sylvain Bailly (born 15 September 1736, Paris; died 12 November 1793, Paris), French astronomer noted for his computation of an orbit for Halley’s Comet (1759) and for his studies of the four satellites of Jupiter then known. He began his study of Halley’s Comet in 1759. One year later he established an observatory where he could undertake observations of Jupiter’s satellites. He was elected to the Académie des Sciences in 1763. His major works include Essai sur la théorie des satellites de Jupiter, Paris: Nyon, 1766 and “Mémoires sur les inégalités de la lumière des satellites de Jupiter, sur la mesure de leurs diamètres et sur un moyen aussi simple que commode de rendre les observations comparables, en remediant a la diffèrence des vues et des lunettes”. Mémoire de l’Académie des Sciences, 1771, pp. 580-667.]

17 [Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre (born 19 September 1749, Amiens; died 19 August 1822, Paris), French astronomer who prepared tables that plot the location of Uranus. In 1788, with an observatory built for his own use, he observed and computed almost uninterruptedly and published Tables de Jupiter, de Saturne, d’Uranus, Paris: Imprimerie de Poutard, 1789. He was admitted to the Institut de France upon its organization in 1795 and became, in 1803, perpetual secretary to its mathematical section. From 1792 to 1799 he was occupied with the measurement of the arc of the meridian extending from Dunkirk to Barcelona, and published a detailed account of the operations in Base du systeÌme métrique decimal, ou, Mesure de l’arc du méridien compris entre les paralleÌles de Dunkerque et Barcelone, exécutée en 1792 et années suivantes... par MM. Méchain et Delambre. Rédigée par M. Delambre, Paris: Baudouin, 1806-1810, 3 vols. In 1807 he became professor of astronomy at the Collège de France in Paris and was treasurer to the Imperial University from 1808 until its suppression in 1815. Delambre also wrote histories of ancient, medieval, and modern astronomy (1817). His Tables écliptiques des satellites de Jupiter was republished by the Bureau of Longitudes in 1817 (Paris: Veuve Coursier Imprimeur, 132 p.) A large crater on the Moon is named in his honor.]

18 [Richard Bentley (born 27 January 1662, Oulton, Yorkshire, England; died 14 July 1742, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire), British clergyman, one of the great figures in the history of classical scholarship who combined wide learning with critical acuteness. Gifted with a powerful and logical mind, he was able to do much to restore ancient texts and to point the way to new developments in textual criticism and scholarship.]

19 According to [Charles François] Dupuis [born 1742, Trye-Château, France; died 29 September 1809; French author and politician], I think, [in his] Origine de tous les cultes [ou Religion universelle, Paris: H. Agasse, 1795 [An III], 3 vols], the first Christians used analogous methods for abolishing paganism. For example, they are supposed to have added to Hercules’s statue a small statue of Christ, and they called Hercules Christophore, or “Christ-bearer,” and then later made him into Saint Christopher [M. de St.-Agy].

20 This opinion on the ability of the Egyptians in the imitative arts is perhaps a bit generous. When I examine the figures extant on the tombs of Egyptian mummies, the only monuments of this sort that we have, it seems to me that their artists were quite weak in painting; the drawings of these figures seem stiffand heavy. And I have no better opinion of Egyptian sculpture. Their statues, sometimes swaddled to the shoulders and ending in a sheath, to my way of thinking – and I imagine everybody else’s – are merely the products of an art in its infancy. I know that these people, as a consequence of their religious ideas, usually took only still-life as a model; but, again, if they had been clever at imitation, they would have left us less imperfect representations of cadavers; their hieratic art would have been more lifelike. See Vinckelmann [Johann (Joachim) Winckelmann (born 9 December 1717, Stendal, Prussia; died 8 June 1768, Trieste), German archaeologist and art historian (see Winckelmann (Johann Joachim), Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, Dresden: In der Waltherischen Hof-Buchhandlung, 1764-1767, 2 vols; History of the Art of Antiquity [introduction by Potts Alex, translation by Mallgrave Harry Francis], Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2006, 446 p.)], [Désiré] Raoul Rochette [born 9 March 1790, at Saint Amand, Cher; died 3 June 1854, Paris; French archaeologist (Rochette (Désiré-Raoul), Histoire critique de l’établissement des colonies grecques, Paris: Treuttel & Würtz, 1815, 4 vols; Cours d’archéologie, professé par M. Raoul-Rochette, à la BibliotheÌque du roi, tous les mardis; publié par la sténographie, avec l’autorisation et la révision du professeur, Paris: Eugène Renduel, 1828, in-8, 2 f.)], etc. [M. de St.-Agy].

21 Monsieur [Étienne] Pariset [5 August 1770, Village des Vosges; died 6 July 1847, Paris], a celebrated physician, especially for his great devotedness, is of opinion that the appearance of the plague in Egypt had no other cause than the cessation of embalming [see Sussman (Georges D.), “Étienne Pariset: A medical career in government under the Restoration”, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, vol. 26, 1971, pp. 52-74]. This supposition has as yet no proof, and does not seem to lend itself to proof [M. de St.-Agy].

22 [Galen of Pergamum, see Lesson 16, below.]

23 [Clement’s Stromateis], sixth book, p. 757. The number of books by Hermes, mentioned in the Stromateis or “Tapestries” [usually translated as “Miscellanies”], is forty-two (Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis: Books 1-3 [translated by Ferguson John], Washington D. C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1991, 354 p.) [M. de St.-Agy]. [Clement is Clement of Alexandria or Titus Flavius Clemens, a Greek Christian theologian, born about A. D. 150, probably in Athens, died about A. D. 212 (see Osborn (Eric Francis), Clement of Alexandria, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005, xviii + 324 p.)]

24 [Eusebius (born c. 260, probably in Palestine; died c. 340, Caesarea), bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and ecclesiastical historian, best known for his History of the Christian Church, completed in 324 or early 325. It is the most important ecclesiastical history of ancient times, and is written in the belief that the old order of things was passing away and with the apologetic purpose of exhibiting the history of Christianity as a proof of its divine origin and efficacy (Eusebius, An Ecclesiastical History to the Twentieth Year of the Reign of Constantine, Being the 324th of the Christian Era [translated by Cruse C. F.; 4th ed. carefully revised, to which is prefixed, the Life of Eusebius, by Valesius; translated by Parker S. E.], London: S. Bagster, 1847, 451 p.)]

25 [For Manetho, see note 10, above. The “temple of Heliopolis” is the cult temple of the sun god Re at Heliopolis, generally thought of as the architectural precursor to Egyptian temples of the Dynastic Period. Heliopolis, one of the most ancient Egyptian cities, capital of the fifteenth nome of Lower Egypt, was more important as a religious rather than as a political center. Its great temple of Re was second in size only to that of Amon at Thebes, and its priesthood wielded great influence, particularly during the fifth dynasty, when the worship of Re became the state cult. In the New Kingdom, the temple of Re-Horakhte became the repository of royal records.]

26 [Eratosthenes of Cyrene (born c. 276 B.C., Cyrene, Libya; died c. 194, Alexandria, Egypt), Greek scientific writer, astronomer, and poet, was the first man known to have calculated the Earth’s circumference (Eratosthenes of Cyrene, Star myths of the Greeks and Romans: A sourcebook containing the Constellations of Pseudo-Eratosthenes and the Poetic astronomy of Hyginus [translation and commentary by Condos Theony], Grand Rapids (Michigan): Phanes Press, 1997, 287 p.) After study in Alexandria and Athens, he settled in Alexandria about 255 B.C. and became director of the great library there. He worked out a calendar that included leap years, and he tried to fix the dates of literary and political events since the siege of Troy. His writings include a poem inspired by astronomy, as well as works on the theatre and on ethics. Afflicted by blindness in his old age, he is said to have committed suicide by voluntary starvation.]

27 [Jean-François Champollion (born 23 December 1790, Figeac, France; died 4 March 1832, Paris), French historian and linguist who founded scientific Egyptology and played a major role in the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Following the modest success of the English physicist Thomas Young [born 13 June 1773, Milverton, Somerset, England; died 10 May 1829, London] in attempting to decipher the Rosetta Stone, which was engraved with a Greek text along with hieroglyphic and demotic translations, Champollion at last began to piece together the puzzle of the hieroglyphics. In 1821-1822 he started publishing papers on the hieroglyphic and hieratic elements of the Rosetta Stone, and he went on to establish an entire list of hieroglyphic signs and their Greek equivalents (see Champollion (Jean-François), Lettre à M. Dacier, Secrétaire Perpétuel de l’Académie Royale Des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Relative à l’Alphabet des Hiéroglyphes Phonétiques Employés par les Égyptiens pour Inscrire leurs Monuments les Tîtres, les Noms et les Surnoms des Souverains Grecs et Romains, Paris: Didot Père & Fils, 1822; Précis du systeÌme hiéroglyphique des anciens égyptiens, ou, Recherches sur les élemens premiers de cette écriture sacrée, sur leurs diverses combinaisons, et sur les rapports de ce systeÌme avec les autres méthodes graphiques égyptienne, Paris: Chez Treuttel & Würtz, 1824).]

28 [Louis XII, also called (until 1498) Duc d’Orléans, byname Father of the People (born 27 June 1462, Blois, France; died 1st January 1515, Paris), king of France from 1498, noted for his disastrous Italian wars and his domestic popularity.]

29 [Charles-Louis de Secondat, see Lesson 7, note 1.]

30 [Henri IV, also called (until 1572) Prince de Béarn, byname Henry of Navarre, or of Bourbon, French Henri de Navarre, or de Bourbon (born 13 December 1553, Pau, Béarn, Navarre, France; died 14 May 1610, Paris), king of Navarre (as Henry III, 1572-1589) and first Bourbon king of France (1589-1610), who, at the end of the Wars of Religion, abjured Protestantism and converted to Roman Catholicism (1593) in order to win Paris and reunify France. With the aid of such ministers as Maximilien de Béthune, Duke de Sully (1560-1641), he brought new prosperity to France.]

31 [Saint Vincent de Paul (born 24 April 1581, Pouy, now Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, France; died 27 September 1660, Paris; canonized 1737; feast day September 27), French saint, founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists, or Vincentians) for preaching missions to the peasantry and for educating and training a pastoral clergy.]

32 [Sesostris I (fl. 20th century B.C.), king of Egypt (reigned 1908-1875 B.C.) who succeeded his father after a ten-year coregency and brought Egypt to a peak of prosperity.]

33 [Cecrops, see Lesson 1, note 49.]

34 [Danaus, in Greek legend, son of Belus, king of Egypt, and twin brother of Aegyptus. Driven out of Egypt by his brother, he fled with his 50 daughters (the Danaïds) to Argos, where he became king. Soon thereafter the 50 sons of Aegyptus arrived in Argos, and Danaus was forced to consent to their marriage with his daughters. Danaus, however, commanded each daughter to slay her husband on the marriage night. They all obeyed except Hypermestra, who spared Lynceus. Being unable to find suitors for the other daughters, Danaus offered them in marriage to the youths of the district. In punishment for their crime the Danaïds were condemned to the endless task of filling with water a vessel that had no bottom. The murder of the sons of Aegyptus by their wives is thought to represent the drying up of the rivers and springs of Argolis in summer.]

35 [See the Iliad, book 9, ff. 381-382 (Prendergast (Guy Lushington), A complete concordance to the Iliad of Homer [completely revised and enlarged by Marzullo Benedetto], Hildesheim (Germany); New York: G. Olms Verlag, 1983, vii + 427 p.)]

Table des illustrations

Titre ASHURBANIPAL. The last great king of Assyria (born 685, died 627 B.C.), in his chariot. From ancient Nineveh near the present-day city of Mosul, Iraq, and now in the Louvre, Paris. After Perrot (Georges) & Chipiez (Charles), Histoire de l’Art dans l’antiquité, tome II : Chaldée et Assyrie, Paris : Hachette et Cie, 1884, pl. 10.
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