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observes that "they forbade the body to be burnt, because they looked upon fire as a savage beast, devouring all that it can lay hold of, and dying itself after it is satiated, together with the object of its prey; and that being forbidden by their laws to suffer any animal to live upon a dead body, they embalmed it as a protection against worms." This at least has more appearance of probability and in the same fear of engendering these originated the prohibition against enveloping a corpse in woollen cloths. * That the bandages were of linen has already been shown t; and the prejudice in favour of that quality of stuff extended even to the wrappers used for enveloping the small wooden figures deposited in the tombs, which were seldom if ever allowed to be of cotton, and apparently in no instance of woollen texture.
Herodotus fails to inform us what became of the intestines after they had been removed from the body of those embalmed according to the first process; but the discoveries made in the tombs clear up this important point, and enable us to correct the improbable account given by Porphyry. The latter writer says‡, "When the bodies of persons of distinction were embalmed, they took out the intestines and put them into a vessel, over which (after some other rites had been performed for the dead) one of the embalmers pronounced an invocation to the Sun in behalf of the deceased.
* Vide Vol. III. p. 114.; and Vol. I. p. 280.
+ Vol. III. p. 115.
The formula, according to Euphantus who translated it from the original into Greek, was as follows:-O thou Sun, our sovereign lord! and all ye Deities who have given life to man! receive me, and grant me an abode with the eternal Gods. During the whole course of my life I have scrupulously worshipped the Gods my fathers taught me to adore; I have ever honoured my parents, who begat this body; I have killed no one; I have not defrauded any, nor have I done an injury to any man; and if I have committed any other fault during my life, either in eating or drinking, it has not been done for myself, but for these things.' So saying, the embalmer pointed to the vessel containing the intestines, which was thrown into the river; the rest of the body, when properly cleansed, being embalmed."
Plutarch* gives a similar account of their "throwing the intestines into the river," as the cause of all the faults committed by man," the rest of the body when cleansed being embalmed;" which is evidently borrowed from the same authority as that of Porphyryt, and given in the same words. But the positive evidence of the tombs, as well as our acquaintance with the religious feelings of the Egyptians, sufficiently prove this to be one of the many idle tales by which the Greeks have shown their ignorance of that people; and no one who considers the respect with which they looked upon
*Plut. Sept. Sap. Conviv., and Orat. 2. de Esu. Carn.
+ Plutarch lived in the time of Trajan; Porphyry died in the reign of Diocletian.
the Nile, the care they took to remove all impurities which might affect their health, and the superstitious prejudice they felt towards every thing appertaining to the human body, could for an instant suppose that they would on any consideration be induced to pollute the stream, or insult the dead by a similar custom.
I have frequently had occasion to remark how erroneous were the opinions of the Greeks respecting Egypt and the Egyptians; and not only have we to censure them for failing to give much interesting information, which they might have acquired after their intercourse with the country became unrestrained, but to regret that the greater part of what they have given us is deficient and inaccurate. To such an extent is this inaccuracy carried, that little they tell us can be received with confidence, unless in some way confirmed by the monuments or other plausible evidence; and many of those things which for a time were considered unquestionably true have proved incorrect, -as the description of Anubis with a dog's head, Amun with that of a ram, and many observations relating to the customs of the Egyptians.
Hence we often find ourselves obliged to undo what has been already done, which is a far more difficult task than merely to ascertain what has hitherto been untouched, and undisguised by the intervention of a coloured medium.
It might appear incredible that errors could have been made on the most common subjects, on things relating to positive customs which daily
occurred before the eyes of those who sought to inquire into them, and are described by Greek writers who visited the country. But when we observe the ignorance of Europeans respecting the customs of modern Egypt, of Europeans, who are a people much less averse to inquire into the manners of other countries, much more exposed to the criticism of their compatriots in giving false information than the ancient Greeks, and to whom the modern inhabitants do not oppose the same impediments in examining their habits as did the ancient Egyptians; — when we recollect the great facilities they enjoy of becoming acquainted with the language and manners, and still find that Italians, French, and others, who have resided ten, twenty, or more years in Egypt, with a perfect knowledge of Arabic, and enjoying opportunities for constant intercourse with the people, are frequently, I may say generally, ignorant of their most ordinary customs, and are often prevented by preconceived notions from forming a right judgment of their habits and opinions;-when, I say, we bear this in mind, and witness so much ignorance in Europeans at the present day, we can readily account for the misconceptions of the Greeks respecting the customs or opinions of the ancient Egyptians.
As far as the invocation of the Sun *, and the
This and the name of the boat of the dead, Baris, "the boat of the Sun," seem to confirm what I have before remarked about the early worship of the Sun in Egypt. Vide suprà, p. 413., and Vol. I. (2d Series) p. 288, 289. 291. &c.
confession pronounced by the priest (rather than the embalmer) on the part of the deceased, the account of Porphyry partakes of the character of truth; though the time when this was done should rather be referred to the ceremony on the sacred lake, or to that of depositing the body in the tomb. The confession indeed is an imperfect portion of that recorded in the sculptures, which has been already mentioned.*
As soon as the intestines had been removed from the body, they were properly cleansed, and embalmed in spices and various substances, and deposited in four vases. These were afterwards placed in the tomb with the coffin, and were supposed to belong to the four Genii of Amenti, whose heads and names they bore. Each contained a separate portion, which, as I have before observed, was appropriated to its particular Deity. The vase with a cover representing the human head of Amset held the stomach and large intestines; that with the cynocephalus head of Hapi contained the small intestines; in that belonging to the jackal-headed Smautf were the lungs and heart; and for the vase of the hawk-headed Kebhnsnof were reserved the gall-bladder and the liver. They differed in size and the materials of which they were made. The most costly were of oriental alabaster, from 10 to 20 inches high, and about one third of that in diameter; each having its inscription, with the name of the particular Deity
* Vide suprà, p. 429.
+ Vide suprà, Vol. I. (2d Series) p. 71.
‡ Vide suprà, p. 454.