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and return to unity, it is not altogether improbable; particularly since the Greek philosophers are known to have derived their notions on this, as on many other subjects, from the dogmas of Egypt.
Herodotus states that several Greeks adopted the doctrine of transmigration and used it as their own, whose names he refrains from mentioning; and it is generally supposed by Diodorus, Diogenes Laertius, Porphyry, and others, that Pythagoras had the merit of first introducing it into Greece.* And if Cicero thinks Pherecydes of Syros, of whom Pythagoras was a disciple, to be the first to assert that the souls of men were immortal, the Egyptian origin of the doctrine is only the more confirmed, since he had also visited and studied under the Egyptian priests.
This metempsychosis, or rather metensomatosis, being the passage of the soul from one animal to another, was termed xuxλos avayans, "the circle (or orbit) of necessity;" and besides the ordinary notion of its passing through different bodies till it returned again in a human shape, some went so far as to suppose that after a certain period all events which had happened were destined to occur again, in the identical order and manner as before. The same men were said to be born again, and to fulfil the same career; and the same causes were thought to produce the same effects, as stated by Virgil.t
This idea of a similarity of causes and effects ap
Diodor. i. 98.; Diog. Laert. viii. 14.; Porph. Vit. Pyth. 19.
"Alter erit tum Tiphys, et altera quæ vehat Argo
Delectos heroas; erunt etiam altera bella,
Atque iterum ad Trojam magnus mittetur Achilles."
pears to be quite consistent with the opinions of the Egyptians, mentioned by Herodotus *; and not only, says the historian, "have the Greek poets adopted many of their doctrines," but the origin of most of the religious speculations of Greece may be traced to the Egyptians; who "have invented more prodigies than all the rest of mankind."
The Egyptian notion that the soul, after its series of migrations, returned to the same human body in which it had formerly lived on earth, is in perfect accordance with the passage of the Roman poet above alluded to, and this is confirmed by Theophrastus, who says, "The Egyptians think that the same soul enters the body of a man, an ox, a dog, a bird, and a fish, until having passed through all of them it returns to that from which it set out." There is even reason to believe that the Egyptians preserved the body in order to keep it in a fit state to receive the soul which once inhabited it, after the lapse of a certain number of years; and the various occupations followed by the Egyptians during the lifetime of the deceased †, which were represented in the sculptures; as well as his arms, the implements he used, or whatever was most precious to him, which were deposited in the tomb with his coffin, might be intended for his benefit at the time of this reunion, which at the least possible period was fixed at 3000 years. On the other hand, from the fact of animals being also embalmed (the preservation of whose bodies was not ascribable to any idea
*Herodot. ii. 82. + Vide suprà, p. 393. and 395.
connected with the soul), the custom might appear rather owing to a sanitary regulation for the benefit of the living, or be attributable to a feeling of respect for the dead, — an affectionate family being anxious to preserve that body, or outward form, by which one they loved had been long known to them.
We are therefore still in uncertainty respecting the actual intentions of the Egyptians, in thus preserving the body, and ornamenting their sepulchres* at so great an expense; nor is there any decided proof that the resurrection of the body was a tenet of their religion. It is, however, highly probable that such was their belief, since no other satisfactory reason can be given for the great care of the body after death. And if many a one, on returning to his tomb, might be expected to feel great disappointment in finding it occupied by another, and execrate in no very measured terms the proprietor who had re-sold it after his death, the offending party would feel secure against any injury from his displeasure, since his return to earth would occur at a different period. For sufficient time always elapsed between the death of two occupants of the same tomb, the 3000 years dating from the demise of each, and not from any fixed epoch.
The doctrine of transmigration was also admitted by the Pharisees; their belief, according to Josephus †, being " that all souls were incorruptible; but that those of good men were only removed into
* Vide also suprà, p. 393. 395. and 397.
† Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 14.
other bodies, and that those of the bad were subject to eternal punishment." The Buddhist and other religions have admitted the same notion of the soul of man passing into the bodies of animals: and even the Druids believed in the migration of the soul, though they confined it to human bodies.*
The judgment scenes, found in the tombs and on the papyri, sometimes represent the deceased conducted by Horus alone, or accompanied by his wife, to the region of Amenti. Cerberus is present as the guardian of the gates, near which the scales of Justice are erected; and Anubis, "the director of the weight," having placed a vase representing the good actions † of the deceased in one scale, and the figure or emblem of Truth in the other ‡, proceeds to ascertain his claims for admission. If on being "weighed " he is "found wanting §," he is rejected; and Osiris, the judge of the dead, inclining his sceptre in token of condemnation, pronounces judgment upon him, and condemns his
Cæs. Bell. Gall. lib. vi. " (Druides, in Galliâ) hoc volunt persuadere, non interire animas, sed ab aliis post mortem transire ad alios, atque hoc maxime ad virtutem excitari putant, metu mortis neglecto."
This symbol is supposed by Champollion to be a human heart. It appears to be a vase containing perhaps the brains and heart, represented within it.
Of the principle of these scales, vide Vol. III. p. 240., and II. 10. The same kind of balance is represented in a Greek subject in the Archæologia of Rome of 1833, Plate 47.; where the ape is seated above, and a figure in the attitude of Osiris sits on a throne holding a barred sceptre, similar to the emblem of Stability in the hand of the judge of Amenti.
Conf. Daniel, v. 27.; and Job, xxxi. 6.
soul to return to earth under the form of a pig, or some other unclean animal.* Placed in a boat, it is removed, under the charge of two monkeys, from the precincts of Amenti, all communication with which is figuratively cut off by a man who hews away the earth with an axe after its passage; and the commencement of a new term of life is indicated by those monkeys, the emblems of Thoth. But if, when the sum of his deeds are recorded. by Thoth, his virtues so far predominate as to entitle him to admission to the mansions of the blessed, Horus, taking in his hand the tablet of Thoth, introduces him to the presence of Osiris ; who, in his palace, attended by Isis and Nepthys, sits on his throne in the midst of the waters, from which rises the lotus, bearing upon its expanded flower the four Genii of Amenti.t
Other representations of this subject differ in some of the details; and in the judgment scene of the royal scribe, whose funeral procession has been described §, the deceased advances alone in an attitude of prayer to receive judgment. On one side of the scales stands Thoth, holding a tablet in his hand; on the other the Goddess of Justice; and Horus, in lieu of Anubis, performs the office of director of the balance, on the top of which sits a Cynocephalus, the emblem of Thoth. Osiris, seated as usual on his throne, holding his crook
Vide Plate 87.
+ Vide Plate 88.
‡ Vide suprà, Vol. I. (2d Series) p. 315. S Suprà, p. 410. Conf. Lucian's description of "Minos on a high throne, with the punishments, avenging spirits, and furies standing near him." Necro