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As Mr. Mure seems to have collected most of the opinions upon this topic, I here quote the following from his “Dissertation on the Calendar and Zodiac of Ancient Egypt:”.
Paoni (Cancer.) “The month of the sun by pre-eminence, that is, of the greatest height and brilliancy of the luminary, corresponding to our July; which season, the rapid approach of the Nile to its full tide, and the rise of the dog-star, rendered the most important and joyous of the year; hence, its dedication by preference to the splendid orb itself, which influenced, and reigned supreme over their calendar, as well as their mythology.
“The sign of this season on the Greek zodiac is a crab; an unmeaning emblem as referred to Egyptian mythology. But on the greater number of Egyptio-Greek astronomical monuments, we find the scarabee, instead of the crab, as the emblem of the solsticial month; and it is hardly necessary to observe that the scarabee is the symbol of the Sun, or On, in his noblest capacity, as Lord of the universe, first source and origin, and continual preserver of the created world. In this respect the scarabee was a representative not only of the solar orb itself, but, by analogy, of certain deities of distinguished rank, whose loftier attributes comprehended those of the brilliant Lord of the physical world; as of Phtha, the Demiurgus or creative power, whom the Greeks identified with their Hephæstus or Vulcan, probably as combining with his other properties that of God of fire. In the ancient astronomical picture of the tomb of the kings, the scarabee, with the red disk of the sun in his claws, occupies a conspicuous place among the zodiacal emblems. The same insect also occurs in an astrological gem of Count Pahlens' collection, accompanying Libra and Scorpio ; and we seem to have further curious evidence that it was the original symbol of this division of the ancient Egyptian zodiac, in the circumstance, that the cypher of the same division, still in vulgar use, is apparently but an abbreviated form of the hieroglyphic Scarabee;' the hieratic contraction of which contains precisely the same elements, under trifling varieties of arrangement, as the modern sign-namely, two curves or hooks placed transversely. The Greeks, in adopting the zodiac, may either have mistaken the insect for a crab, to which, on some of the monuments, it bears a close enough resemblance; and on the gems of Abraxas,
the scarabee, crab, and other shell-fish, are frequently confounded; or possibly as they did not attach the same veneration as the Egyptians to its symbolic character, they may have converted the reptile of the land into the reptile of the sea, as a figure more congenial to their ideas and taste, as a maritime people. There is, however, in one respect, a remarkable enough analogy between the two symbols, which may tend still further to show that the one is the Egyptian original; the other the Greek copy. Classical authors have asserted that the crab was chosen to represent the solstice, because of the correspondence of its proverbially retrograde motion to the sun's course about the tropic; an interpretation which has been adopted by the greater number of modern expositors.” In the ruins of the temple marking the site of the Ombite nome, Hamilton describes a sun as worshipped under the mysterious emblems of the crocodile and the beetle. Dr. Young conceives that the scarabæi represented in the zodiac at Denderah, have more of a mythological than an astronomical interpretation; and this brings us to the second type under which this curious creature was adored—that of reproduction, But in this character it may likewise have reference to that under which we first considered it, for its rolling the ball containing its eggs, where after a time they are hatched, may be symbolic of the vivifying or generative power of the luminary. Another cause assigned for this reproductive symbol is, that it is said to be one of the first animals that appear on the subsidence of the inundation; but the very extraordinary instinct and apparent foresight of the animal, in providing for the continuance of the species, and the marvellous care and solicitude that it exhibits in the formation of the nidus or womb that it constructs, in which to deposit its eggs, and then to assist in their incubation in the manner that I have described, were all no doubt attended to in the days of its deification, and formed the grounds of its sacred character. According to De Peau, it would appear that the scarabæus was held sacred in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa even before Egypt was peopled, if we are able to draw the line of distinction between the date of the inhabiting these two countries. In the holy cricket of Madagascar, we can perceive traces of the beetle-worship of Egypt; and a similar reverence for some of this tribe of insects is evinced by the Hottentots, and other southern Africans.
HUMERUS OF A DEFORMED MUMMY.
The drawing beneath represents the left humerus or arm-bone of a most remarkably deformed human subject found in the catacombs of Sackara.
The person from whose thorax I removed the upper extremities, and of one of which this is a bone, appeared to be a man of about twenty-five years of age, and from the adornment of the sarcophagus, and the care exhibited in the bandages and mummy-cloths, was evidently a person above the lower class, and the fore-arms were crossed upon the breast ; but as the body had been very much mutilated by the Arabs and some Frenchmen, before I saw it, I was unable to discover whether the lower extremities were likewise affected. The bone is about six inches long, or not quite double the size of the engraving and so completely different from the natural appearance that it has a very great resemblance to a corresponding bone in some of the lower animals. The trochlea, or inferior articulating surface, is bent so much forward that the radius and ulna could not have been brought into the same line when the arm was extended, as in the normal condition; the radius could have enjoyed but very little flexion or extension, as the articulation surface for it on the humerus is not one-third the natural size-both it and the ulna are much less altered than the humerus, and are also larger. The bones are light, but hard, and it appears to be more the effect of original malformation, than rickets, or any disease subsequent to birth. Both arms,
which are precisely similar in every respect, are in my possession, and the hand of one of them; this latter is small but wellformed. The shaft of this bone is not much altered from its natural line, but around the upper portion of it a number of unusual rugged protuberances are thrown out, and the attachment of the latissimus dorsi muscle is marked by a large projecting elevation. Being an anomalous form of congenital malformation, it may not be uninteresting to the pathologist. Wilkinson gives the figure of a dwarf and a deformed person, from the sculptures at Beni Hassan; the former is remarkable for the shortness of the arms, and is one of the date of Osirtasen; now more than 3500 years ago.
THE SACRED IBIS.
So very much has been written upon the sacred attributes and natural history of this bird, that I have little to add to the description of others ; and to attempt the history of it, either religious, fabulous, or authentic, would form a chapter in itself. Bruce has confirmed the account of Herodotus by establishing the fact that the Abou Hannes of Ethiopia, and the sacred Ibis, are the same. In the museum of the school of medicine at Cairo, I had an opportunity of seeing and comparing both the black and the white ibis with the bones of those found in the mummy-pits at Sackara, and can add my testimony as to their identity; but as far as I have been able to discover, the black ibis is the one found most frequently embalmed. Great heat must have been employed in the preparation of these mummies, as the majority of them are so much roasted, as to crumble to dust on being opened. The black ibis sometimes visits Greece in company with the tantalus. There is one preserved in the collection at Athens that was shot near Napoli di Romania. For a particular description of the embalmed sacred ibis, see Pettigrew on Egyptian Mummies.
END OF VOL. I.
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