Obrázky na stránke

by 17, and 20 feet high. At one end of this apartment stands a sarcophagus of red granite, in which the monarch of the greatest kingdom of the earth is supposed to have been laid.

The second Pyramid-that of Cephrenes-is not very much inferior in size, its base being 684 feet, and its height 456 ; but it is not in such good preservation. Herodotus had asserted that it contained no chambers; but Belzoni effected an entrance to a chamber hewn out of the solid rock. In the sarcophagus he found the bones of an animal, probably the sacred bull of the Egyptians. The third large Pyramid is that of Mycerinus; and there is a fourth of nearly equal size, concerning which little appears to be known.

There can be no doubt that all of them were designed as receptacles for the dead. Around them lie scattered about, as far as the eye can reach, both up and down the bank of the river, and along the edge of the desert for miles beyond the ruined city of Memphis, numberless edifices and tumuli of a monumental character, some of which were once profusely embellished with sculptures, and in which mummies have been found.

In front of the Pyramid of Cephrenes stands the great Sphinx, the hugest marvel of sculpture which the world has ever seen. For centuries this colossal wonder lay almost submerged beneath the sand-drift of the desert. M. Caviglia undertook the laborious task of uncovering it, in the course of which he made some important discoveries, tending to show that there was anciently a temple on the area beneath the stony gaze of the colossal coun-tenance, and an altar, upon which sacrifices were offered. The features are Nubian, or rather ancient Egyptian, and their express" sion is strikingly calm and benignant. “There was something," says Stanley, “stupendous in the sight of that enormous head —its vast projecting wig, its great ears, its open eyes, the red colour still visible on its cheek, the immense projection of the lower part of its face. Yet what must it have been when on its head there was the royal helmet of Egypt; on its chin the royal beard ; when the stone pavement by which man approached the Pyramids ran up between its paws; when immediately under its breast an altar stood, from which the smoke went up into the

gigantic nostrils of that nose now vanished from thie face, never to be conceived again ! All this is known with certainty from the remains which actually exist deep under the sand on which you stand, as you look up from a distance into the broken but still expressive features.”—In regard to the Sphinx we may add, that, so continuous is the drifting of the sands from the desert, nearly all those portions of the figure which modern investigators have at different times laid bare have again been drifted up.



The renowned city of Thebes, the ancient capital of Upper Egypt, stood on both banks of the Nile, which formed its grand thoroughfare. The ruins of this vast city extend about eight miles along the banks, and reach on either side to the mountain ridges that shut in the vale-being not less than twenty-seven miles in circuit. On the east bank are the temples of Karnac and Luxor ; on the west are the palace of Memnon and the sepulchres of the kings.

The grandeur and magnificence of the temple of Karnac is said to be without a parallel in the world. Its gateways were larger than most other temples; they were approached by avenues of sphinxes, one of which was two miles in length. The prodigious portico was supported by one hundred and thirty-four columns, from 26 to 34 feet in circumference; and the dimensions of the edifice were 1,200 feet by 420. The temple itself, however, is small in comparison with the extent and beauty of the surrounding structures, which appear to have filled a space a mile in diameter, the whole of which was consecrated to the worship of the Egyptian gods.

The temple of Luxor is more than a mile above that of Karnac, and is in better preservation. The obelisks are the finest in the world, and the sculptures in the east wing comprise fifteen hundred figures representing a victory of one of the ancient kings.

Among all the wide wilderness of ruins which mark the site of ancient Thebes, there is nothing more striking than the tombs and sepulchres of the kings and people. The mountain gorges on the western bank are one vast burial-ground; and it has been estimated that the pits and tombs contain from eight to ten millions of munimied bodies. The Arabs for a long time used them for fuel, and travellers have borne them off as relics, but their numbers seem yet undiminished. It is remarkable, however, that though the mummies of the people exist in millions, those of the kings and priests have all disappeared ;-which perhaps may be due to the fact that the richer tombs have been from time to time rifled by the Arabs, and the mummies stolen for the sake of their investiture and cerements.

Concerning the royal and priestly sepulchres Stanley says: “The western barrier of the Theban plain is a mass of high limestone cliffs, with two deep gorges; one running up behind the plain, and into the

very heart of the hills, entirely shut in by them; the other running up from the plain, so as to be enclosed within the hills, but having its face open to the city. The former is the valley of the tombs of the kings, the Westminster Abbey of Thebes ; the latter of the tombs of the priests and princes, its Canterbury Cathedral.....

“Nothing that has ever been said about them had prepared me for their extraordinary grandeur. You enter a sculptured portal in the face of these wild cliffs, and find yourself in a long and lofty gallery, opening or narrowing, as the case may be, into successive halls and chambers, all of which are covered with white stucco, and this white stucco brilliant with colours fresh as they were thousands of years ago.... Some of them are, of course, more magnificent than others; but of the chief seven all are of this character. They are, in fact, gorgeous palaces, hewn out of the rock, and painted with all the decorations that could have been seen in palaces. . . . . Every Egyptian potentate, but especially every Egyptian king, seems to have begun his reign by preparing his sepulchre; .... and when

; he died the grave closed over his imperfect work. . .

“Two ideas seem to reign through the various sculptures. First, the endeavour to reproduce, as far as possible, the life of the man, so that the mummy of the dead king might still be encompassed by the old familiar objects : Egypt, with all its peculiarities, was to be perpetuated in the depths of the grave; and truly they have succeeded. This is what makes this valley of tombs like the galleries of a vast inuseum. Nor do the collections of Pompeii at Naples give more knowledge of Greek or Roman life than these do of Egyptian. The kitchen, the dinner, the boating, the dancing,

. the trades, all are there—all fresh from the hands of the painters of the primeval world.

“The other idea is that of conducting the king to the world of Death. The further you advance into the tomb, the deeper you become involved in endless processions of jackal-headed gods, and monstrous forms of genii, good and evil; and the goddess of justice, with her single ostrich feather; and barges carrying mummies, raised aloft over the sacred lake, and mummies themselves ; and, more than all, everlasting convolutions of serpents in every possible form and attitude--human-legged, human-headed, crowned—entwining mummies-enwreathing or embraced by processions-extending down whole galleries, so that meeting the head of a serpent at the top of a staircase, you have to descend to its very end before you reach its tail. arrive at the close of all the vaulted hall, in the centre of which lies the immense granite sarcophagus which ought to contain the body of the king. .... It seems certain that all this


decoration was, on the burial of the king, immediately closed, and meant to be closed for ever; so that what we now see was intended never to be seen by any mortal eyes except those of the king himself when he awoke from his slumbers.....

“To have seen the tombs of Thebes is to have seen the Egyptians as they lived and moved before the eyes of Moses-it is to have seen the utmost display of funereal grandeur which has ever possessed the human mind. To have seen the royal tombs is more than this—it is to have seen the whole religion of Egypt unfolded as it appeared to the greatest powers of Egypt, at the most solemn moments of their lives. And this can be explored only on the spot. .... The mythology of Egypt, even now, strange to say, can be studied only in the caverns of the valley of the kings.” STANLEY.



And thou hast walked about (how strange | I need not ask thee if that hand, when a story!)

armed, In Thebes's streets three thousand years Has any Roman soldier mauled ago,

knuckled; When the Memnonium was in all its For thou wert dead, and buried, and emglory,

balmed, And Time had not begun to overthrow Ere Romulus and Remus had been Those temples, palaces, and piles stupen


Antiquity appears to have begun Of which the very ruins are tremendous. Long after thy primeval race was run.

Speak! for thou long enough hast acted Thou couldst develop, if that withered dummy;

tongue Thou hast a tongue-come, let us hear Might tell us what those sightless orbs its tune:

have seen, Thou’rt standing on thy legs above ground, How the world looked when it was fresh Mummy!

and young, Revisiting the glimpses of the moon- And the great Deluge still had left it Not like thin ghosts or disembodied crea


Or was it then so old, that History's But with thy bones and flesh, and limbs

pages and features.

Contained no record of its early ages?

Tell us—for doubtless thou canst recol. Still silent, incommunicative elf ! lect

Art sworn to secrecy? then keep thy To whom should we assign the Sphinx's

VOWS, fame?

But pr’ythee tell us something of thyself, Was Cheops or Cephrenes architect

Reveal the secrets of thy prison-house! Of either Pyramid that bears his name? Since in the world of spirits thou hast Is Pompey's Pillar really a misnomer?

slumbered, Had Thebes a hundred gates, as sung by What hast thou seen, what strange advenHomer?

tures numbered?

Perhaps thou wert a mason, and forbidden, Since first thy form was in this box extended, By oath, to tell the mysteries of thy We have, above ground, seen some trade :

strange mutations : Then say what secret melody was hidden The Roman empire has begun and ended; In Memnon's statue, which at sunrise New worlds have risen- we have lost old played?

nations; Perhaps thou wert a priest, and hast been And countless kings have into dust been dealing

humbled, In human blood, and horrors past reveal. While not a fragment of thy flesh has ing


Perchance that very hand, now pinioned Didst thou not hear the pother o'er thy flat,

head, Has hob-a-nobbed with Pharaoh glass to When the great Persian conqueror, glass;

Cambyses, Or dropped a halfpenny in Homer's hat, Marched armies o'er thy tomb with thunOr doffed thine own to let Queen Dido dering tread, pass;

O'erthrew Osiris, Orus, Apis, Isis, Or held, by Solomon's own invitation, And shook the Pyramids with fear and A torch at the great Temple's dedica

wonder, tion.

When the gigantic Memnon fell asunder?

« PredošláPokračovať »