XXII

[FIRST EXPLANATION OF THE STORY.]

XXII. Now as to those who, from many things of this kind, some of which are proclaimed openly, and others are darkly hinted at in their religious institutions, would conclude that the whole story h no other than a mere commemoration of the various actions of

p. 233

their kings and other great men, who, by reason of their excellent virtue and the mightiness of their power, added to their other titles the honour of divinity, though they afterwards fell into many and grievous calamities, those, I say, who would in this manner account for the various scenes above-mentioned, must be owned indeed to make use of a very plausible method of eluding such difficulties as may arise about this subject, and ingeniously enough to transfer the most shocking parts of it from the divine to the human nature. Moreover, it must be admitted that such a solution is not entirely destitute of any appearance of historical evidence for its support. For when the Egyptians themselves tell us that Hermes had one hand shorter than another, that Typhon was of red complexion, Horus fair, and Osiris black, does not this show that they were of the human species, and subject to the same accidents as all other men? 1 Nay, they go farther, and even declare the particular work in which each was engaged whilst alive. Thus they say that Osiris was a general, that Canopus, from whom the star took its name, was a pilot, and that the ship which the Greeks call Argo, being made in imitation of the ship of Osiris, was, in honour of him, turned into a constellation and placed near Orion and the Dog-star, the former being sacred to Horus and the latter to Isis.


Footnotes

232:1 In Egyptian, Pa-Asar-neb-Tetu, "the house of Osiris, the lord of Tetu." In the temple of Neb-Sekert, the backbone of the god was preserved, according to one text, but another says it was his jaws(?) and interior.

232:2 This view represents a late tradition, or at all events one which sprang up after the decay of Abydos.

233:1 Red is the colour attributed to all fiends in the Egyptian texts. One of the forms of Horus is described as being "blue-eyed," and the colour of the face of Osiris is often green, and sometimes black.






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