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year. In the month Mesoré, they offered the first-fruits of their lentils to the god Harpocrates, "calling out at the same time, The tongue is Fortune, the tongue is God;" and the allegorical festival of "the delivery of Isis was celebrated immediately after the Vernal Equinox," to commemorate the beginning of harvest. Some," says Plutarch," assimilate the history of these gods to the various changes which happen in the air, during the several seasons of the year, or to those accidents which are observed in the production of corn, in its sowing and ripening; for,' they observe,' what can the burial of Osiris more aptly signify than the first covering the seed in the ground after it is sown? or his reviving and reappearing, than its first beginning to shoot up? and why is Isis said, upon perceiving herself to be with child, to have hung an amulet about her neck on the 6th of the month Phaophi, soon after sowing time, but in allusion to this allegory? and who is that Harpocrates, whom they tell us she brought forth about the time of the winter tropic, but those weak and slender shootings of the corn, which are yet feeble and imperfect ?'—for which reason it is that the first-fruits of their lentils are dedicated to this god, and they celebrate the feast of his mother's delivery just after the vernal equinox." From this it may be inferred that the festival of the lentils was instituted when the month Mesoré coincided with the end of March; for since they were sown at the end of November, and ripened in about 100 or 110 days, the first-fruits might be gathered in three months and a half, or "just after the vernal equinox," or the last week in March; which would carry back the original institution of the festival to about 2650 years before our era, or some time after the reign of Menes.
"On the 19th day of the first month (Thoth), which was the feast of Hermes, they eat honey and figs, saying to each other, 'how sweet a thing is truth!'". —a satisfactory proof that the month itself, and not the first day alone, was called after and dedicated to Thoth, the Egyptian Hermes; and another festival, answering to the "Thesmophoria of the Athenians," was established to commemorate the period when "the husbandmen began to sow their corn, in the Egyptian month Athyr."
Many of the sacred festivals of the Egyptians were connected with agriculture; but these I have already introduced among their religious ceremonies. The gardeners have also been noticed in mentioning the villas of the Egyptians.*
The huntsmen formed another subdivision of this class.
They were employed in great numbers to attend and assist the amateur sportsmen, during their excursions in pursuit of the wild animals of the country, the scenes of which were chiefly in the deserts of Upper Egypt. They conducted the dogs to the field; they had the management of them in loosing them for the chase, and they secured and brought home the game, after having contributed by their own skill to increase the sport of the chasseur. They also followed the occupation on their own account, making a considerable profit by catching the animals most prized for the table; by the reward they received for destroying the hyæna, and other animals hostile to the husbandman or the shepherd; and by the lucrative chase of the ostrich, which was highly valued for its plumes and eggs, and was sold to the wealthier Egyptians.
Ostrich, with the feathers and eggs.
*Vol. i. p. 296 to 301, and 33 to 45, and 55, 56, 57.
The boatmen of the Nile belonged to the same third class. They were of different grades; some belonging to the private sailing or pleasure boats of the grandees, others to those of burden. They also differed from the sailors of the "long ships" employed at sea, and even from those of the war galleys on the Nile, which acted as guard-boats, and were also used in the expeditions undertaken by the Pharaohs into Ethiopia.* These government boatmen were sometimes employed by the kings in transporting large blocks of stone to ornament the temples; and the immense monolith of granite, brought by Amasis from the first cataract to Saïs, was dragged overland by 2000 boatmen ; but those who carried stones in lighters from the quarries were an inferior order, and ranked among the common boatmen of the Nile. Even among them the office of steersman seems always to have been very important; and as the pilots of the ships of war had a high rank above the "able seamen" of the fleet, so the helmsman in the ordinary boats of the Nile was looked upon as little inferior to the captain, standing in the same relative position as the Mestámel to the Ryïs of the modern Cangia. * See above, vol. i. p. 411, on their sailors and ships of war.
Modern boats of the Nile. On the opposite bank is a whirlwind of sand.
FOURTH CLASS-ARTIFICERS, TRADESMEN OR SHOPKEEPERS, MUSICIANS, BUILDERS, CARPENTERS, BOAT-BUILDERS, MASONS, POTTERS, PUBLIC WEIGHERS AND NOTARIES, POUNDERS -GLASS
GOLD MINES-IRON-BRONZE-CASTING-STONE KNIVES-POUNDING IN MORTARS.
IN the fourth class were included the workers in glass, metals, wood, and leather; the manufacturers of linen and various stuffs; dyers, tanners, carpenters, cabinet-makers, masons; and all who followed handicraft employments, or any kind of trade. The musicians, who gained their livelihood by singing and playing, the leather-cutters and the carvers in stone, and ordinary painters (distinct of course from sculptors and artists) were included in the same class, which was mostly composed of people living in towns. Each craft (as is generally the case in modern Egypt also) had its own quarter of the town, called after it; as the quarter of the goldsmiths, of the leather-cutters, and others; and no one presumed to interfere with the occupation of a different trade from his own. It is even said that every one was obliged by law to follow the very same trade as
his father; at all events, whether allowed in the beginning of his career to choose for himself or no, he was forced to continue in the one he first belonged to, and each vied with his neighbour in improving his own branch.
According to Diodorus, "no tradesman was permitted to meddle in political affairs, or to hold any civil office in the state, lest his thoughts should be distracted by the inconsistency of his pursuits, or by the jealousy and displeasure of the master in whose business he was employed. They feared that, without such a law, constant interruptions would take place, in consequence of the necessity, or the desire, of becoming conspicuous in a public station; that their proper occupations would be neglected, and that many would be led, by vanity and self-sufficiency, to interfere in matters out of their sphere. They also considered that to follow more than one occupation would be detrimental to their own interests and to those of the community; and that when men, from a motive of avarice, are induced to engage in numerous branches of art, the result generally is, that they are unable to excel in any. Such," he adds, "is the case in some countries, where artisans engage in agricultural pursuits, or in commercial speculations, and frequently in two or three different arts at once. Many, again, in those communities which are governed on democratic principles, are in the habit of frequenting popular assemblies, and, dreaming only of their own interests, receive bribes from the leaders of parties, and do incredible mischief to the state. But with the Egyptians, if any artisan meddled with political affairs, or engaged in any other employment than the one to which he had been brought up, a severe punishment was instantly inflicted upon him; and it was with this view that the regulations respecting their public and private occupations were instituted by the early legislators of Egypt."
Many arts and inventions were in common use in Egypt for centuries before they are generally supposed to have been known; and we are now and then as much surprised to find that certain things were old 3000 years ago, as the Egyptians would be if they could hear us talk of them as late discoveries. One of them