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The exact meaning of the three names with which this inscription opens is, as probably it was intended to be, an enigma; and “Edipus non Davus must be he who would solve them. But the substance countenances the idea, that the Gnostics made these stones a sort of countersign to insure mutual hospitality; and it surely quadrates with the seven heads of corporal charity inculcated by the Christian school-men:
1. Visito. To visit men in misery.
Cover the naked.
The serpent, Agathodemon, was common upon hundreds of abraxes, as may be seen in Chiflet, Kircher, Spon, Beausobre, Hardouin, Caylus, Montfaucon, Faldner, and other writers. The impression that nine-tenths of them represented invocations to the Devil-as the ABPACAE AANNAI AAIMONON ΔΕΞΊΑΙ ΔΥΝΑΜΕΙΣ ΦΥΔΑΞΑΤΕ ΟΥΛΒΙΑΝ ΠΑΥΛΕΙΝΑΝ ΑΠΟ ΠΑΝΤΟC KAKOI AAIMONOC of Ulpia Paulina—was very general among the hunters after heresy. But they were really in demand on account of the healing and protecting properties, and other occult virtues ascribed to them in superstitious ages; and the following is one of a very general character. One side of the amulet below bears the radiated lion's head and serpent, as on the Cyrenean emerald just described : and on the other we find a right line crossed by three curved ones, above which appears ABPACAE, which in Gnostic notation is equal to three hundred and sixty-five, the annual solar circle. The lower verge has A 2, the alpha and omega of the Revelations, with I prefixed: many suppose this I to be the initial of Jesus; but, as the assumption is not admitted by all, the whole remains mystic.
To return to Egypt: The most remarkable, and probably the most morally influential of their religious institutions, was the authority given to the four genii of Amanti or Amunti,—the givers and receivers. Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and other ancient historians, represent that the early Egyptians were a people holding truth and virtuous conduct in the highest estimation ; and their penal laws mark the high sense of justice entertained by them. This was even carried to the verge of the tomb by mortals, and beyond it by the Amunti. Upon the death of any one, the relations of the defunct had to announce to a certain tribunal the time at which it was desirable to bury him. On this the judges collected a jury, and the court of inquiry was open to all, so that any accusation against the deceased might be urged. Should his career have been a bad one, the rite of sepulture was denied him, which was considered at once a disgrace and a calamity: if, on the contrary, the life of the deceased had been irreproachable, a panegyric was pronounced upon him, and he was permitted to be entombed with due honour, in order to pass the ordeal of the impartial and inexorable Amunti. No one was exempt from this inquiry, from the kings down to the components of the lowest caste: and even those conquerors or judges who, during life, no one dared to murmur at, when dead were submitted to a rigorous examination. Champollion the Younger saw in Biban-el-Moluk the tomb of a king, in which the sculpture had been defaced from one end to the other, except in those parts where were sculptured the images of the queen, his mother, and of his wife, which had been most religiously respected, as well as the hieroglyphical legends relating to them. This was considered to have been the tomb of a king condemned, by the post mortem judgment, as unworthy of the rite of burial. The names of the four genii of the Amunti are,-NETSONOFF or KEBHNSNOF, with the hawk's head, significant of extreme vigilance and promptitude: SMOF or SMAUTF, with the jackal's head, whose chief office appears to have been to superintend the departure of the soul : AMSET, with a human head, the Tetrarcha of Dr. Young: and HAPEE, the Cynocephalus, or well-known Anubis. These are their constant symbolic representations :
The intestines of the dead were dedicated to the Amunti; who, in their offices, strongly remind one of the four beasts, as our translators have so degradingly termed the “living creatures” of the Apocalypse. They may have possibly alluded to the four elements-Fire, Water, Earth, and Air—which, according to the ancient systems of philosophy, form the constituent parts of all bodies, and into which they are resolved by decomposition.
This leads to another symptom of the “fondly longing after immortality," that distinguished the Egyptians, perhaps more than any other people; a principle not less obvious in the extraordinary efforts which they made to preserve their bodies from decay, than in their huge pyramidal mausolæa, extensive catacombs, and mighty obelisks. Hence also the practice of embalming the dead : an art which they carried so nearly to perfection, that St. Athanasius thought the corpses were as durable as brass. By the tenets of their theology, they were believers in immortality, a principle discernible in their creed of transmigrations for a period of three thousand years; after which doomed revolution, the animus returned to the brainless corpse it had quitted. Hence they strangely conceived that they were retaining the body ready for the soul, as long as the frame could be preserved entire and free from corruption, so that their re-union would be facilitated notwithstanding desiccation. It seems there were several modes of effecting this, of which some were equally operose and expensive; and, though antiseptics and aromatics of many kinds appear to have been employed, the wax used among the embalming ingredients, moum in Arabic, has become the general designation of the body embalmed. For the principal operations of the process I must here refer the reader who may be anxious for more particulars on this head, to Mr. Pettigrew's History of Egyptian Mummies, a work published in 1834; where the several steps in the matter are minutely detailed, as well in embalming the human species as their sacred animals. Suflice it here briefly to remark, that, when the mummy was completed, and encased in the cemented layers of cloth now called the cartonage, it was usually placed in a coffin made of sycamore wood, highly decorated by blazonry, representing the face of the defunct, with an abundance of ornaments and attributes. This case was inclosed in another made either of deal, cedar, or sycamore wood; and this generally bore the name of the deceased.
Here is a representation of a mummy coffin and its
case, from that of Otaineb, in the British Museum; and we shall notice a finer one of Dr. Lee's.
In discussion, some highly-valued classical friends have been inclined to buffet my views of the surprising antiquity of the Egyptian monuments; but their arguments were mostly couched “as in duty bound,” and such as astronomers and geologists have from time to time been scourged with. Respecting the remote ages of the Shepherd and Pharaonic kings of Egypt, no reasonable doubt can exist : and yet they were posterior to the original designers of those even still mystic mausolea, the Pyramids of Ghéezeh, which, as old Fuller quaintly observed, “doting with age, have forgotten the names of their founders.” Whether they were built before the age of Osirtasen and the sixteenth dynasty, which was about three thousand six hundred years ago, as Sir Gardner Wilkinson thinks, or before the sacred scheme of hieroglyphics was invented, may be left to ingenious conjecture; but from the material being of hewn stone-probably from Lybia—and other inferences based on late inquiries, we are justified in at once pronouncing that they were built long before the Israelitish bondage. For the argument in hand, we need not cling to Manetho