페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

to the king and queen, and the wood stands in a temple of Isis and is worshipped by the people of Byblus to this day. And Isis put the coffer in a boat and took the eldest of the king's children with her and sailed away. As soon as they were alone, she opened the chest, and laying her face on the face of her brother she kissed him and wept. But the child came behind her softly and saw what she was about, and she turned and looked at him in anger, and the child could not bear her look and died; but some say that it was not so, but that he fell into the sea and was drowned. It is he whom the Egyptians sing of at their banquets under the name of Maneros. But Isis put the coffer by and went to see her son Horus at Butus, and Typhon found it as he was hunting a boar one night by the light of a full moon." And he knew the body, and rent it into fourteen pieces, and scattered them abroad. But Isis sailed up and down the marshes in a shallop made of papyrus, looking for the pieces; and that is why when people sail in shallops made of papyrus, the crocodiles do not hurt them, for they fear or respect the goddess. And that is the reason, too, why there are many graves of Osiris in Egypt, for she buried each limb as she found it. But others will have it that she buried an image of him in every city pretending it was his body, in order that Osiris might be worshipped in many places, and that if Typhon searched for the real grave he might not be able to find it. However, one of the members of Osiris had been eaten by the fishes, so Isis made an image of it instead, and the image is used by the Egyptians at their festivals to this day. Such is the myth of Osiris as told by Plutarch. A long inscription in the temple at Denderah has preserved a list of the graves of Osiris, and other texts mention the parts of his body which were treasured as holy relics in each of the sanctuaries. Thus his heart was at Athribis, his neck at Letopolis, and his head at Memphis. As often happens in such cases, some of his divine limbs were miraculously multiplied. His head, for instance, was at Abydos as well as at Memphis, and his legs, which were remarkably numerous, would have sufficed for several ordinary mortals.”

* Plutarch, /sis et Osiris, 8, 18.
* A. Wiedemann, Die Religion der alten .429 pter, p. 115.

Of the annual rites with which his death and burial were celebrated in the month Athyr' we unfortunately know very little. The mourning lasted five days,” from the eighth to the twelfth of the month Athyr.” The ceremonies began with the “earth-ploughing,” that is, with the opening of the field labours, when the waters of the Nile are sinking. The other rites included the search for the mangled body of Osiris, the rejoicings at its discovery, and its solemn burial. The burial took place on the eleventh of November, and was accompanied by the recitation of laments from the liturgical books. These laments, of which several copies have been discovered in modern times, were put in the mouth of Isis and Nephthys, sisters of Osiris. “In form and substance,” says Brugsch, “they vividly recall the dirges chanted at the Adonis' rites over the dead god.” “ Next day was the joyous festival of Sokari, that being the name under which the hawk-headed Osiris of Memphis was invoked. The solemn processions of priests which on this day wound round the temples with all the pomp of banners, images, and sacred emblems, were amongst the most stately pageants that ancient Egypt could show. The whole festival ended on the sixteenth of November with a special rite called the erection of the Tatu, Tat, or

* Most Egyptian texts place the death of the god and the mourning for him at the end of the month Choiak, about the time of the winter solstice, when the days are shortest ; and of the ceremony which represented his death and resurrection at this time we possess a full and detailed account in the inscription at Denderah. But apparently this transference of the date is due to a later identification of Osiris with the sun. See A. Wiedemann, Die Religion der alten Aegypsier, pp. I 12 sq., I 15. According to Pausanias (x. 32. 18), Isis mourned for Osiris at the time that the Nile begins to rise, and the Egyptians attributed the rise of the water to the tears of the goddess.

* So Brugsch, op. cit. p. 617. Plutarch, op. cit. 39, says four days beginning with the 17th of the month Athyr.

* In the Alexandrian year the month Athyr corresponded to November. But as the old Egyptian year was

vague, that is, made no use of intercalation, the astronomical date of each festival varied from year to year, till it had passed through the whole cycle of the astronomical year. From the fact, therefore, that when the calendar became fixed, Athyr fell in November, no inference can be drawn as to the date at which the death of Osiris was originally celebrated. It is thus persectly possible that it may have been originally a harvest festival, though the Egyptian harvest falls, not in November, but in April. Compare Selden, De diis Syris, p. 335 sq.; Parthey on Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 39. * Brugsch, l.c. For a specimen of these lamentations see Brugsch, op. cit. p. 631 sq.; Aecords of the Past, ii. 119 sq). For the annual ceremonies of finding and burying Osiris, see also Firmicus Maternus, De errore profanarum religionum, 2, § 3; Servius on Virgil, Aen. iv. 609.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Ded pillar." This pillar appears from the monuments to have been a column with cross bars at the top, like the yards of a mast, or more exactly like the superposed capitals of a pillar.” On a Theban tomb the king himself, assisted by his relations and a priest, is represented hauling at the ropes by which the pillar is being raised. The pillar was interpreted, at least in later Egyptian theology, as the backbone of Osiris. It might very well be a conventional way of representing a tree stripped of its leaves; and if Osiris was a tree-spirit, the bare trunk and branches of a tree might naturally be described as his backbone. The setting up of the column would thus, as Erman supposes, shadow forth the resurrection of the god, which, as we learn from Plutarch, appears to have been celebrated at his mysteries.” Perhaps a ceremony which, according to . Plutarch, took place on the third day of the festival (the nineteenth day of the month Athyr) may also have referred to the resurrection. He says that on that day the priests carried the sacred ark down to the sea. Within the ark was a golden casket, into which drinking-water was poured. A shout then went up that Osiris was found. Next the priests took some vegetable mould and having kneaded it with water into a paste they fashioned therewith a crescent-shaped figure, which they afterwards dressed in robes and adorned." The general similarity of the myth and ritual of Osiris to those of Adonis and Attis is obvious. In all three cases we see a god whose untimely and violent death is mourned by a loving goddess and annually celebrated by his worshippers. The character of Osiris as a deity of vegetation is brought out by the legend that he was the first to teach men the use of corn, and by the custom of beginning his annual festival with the tillage of the ground. He is said also to have introduced the cultivation of the vine.” In one

* Brugsch, Religion und J/ythologie Maspero, Histoire anciemnedes peuples de

der allen Aeon pter, p. 617 sq.; Erman, Aegypten und aegyptisches Leben im Altertum, p. 377 sq.

* Erman, 1.c.; Wilkinson, ..]/artners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians (London, 1878), iii. 68, 82; Tiele, History of the Egyptian Aeligion, p. 46;

/"Orient classique : les origines, p. 130.
* Plutarch, /sis et Osiris, 35 : éao-
Xoye? §§ kai ruravuká Kai vić rexeia
rots Aeyouévous 'Ooiptóos &aaraguoss wal
rats diva 51%aeat kai tra MYYevealias,
Öootws kai orepi ré's ruqds.
* Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 39.
* Tibullus, i. 7. 33 sqq.

of the chambers dedicated to Osiris in the great temple of Isis at Philae the dead body of Osiris is represented with stalks of corn springing from it, and a priest is depicted watering the stalks from a pitcher which he holds in his hand. The accompanying legend sets forth that “this is the form of him whom one may not name, Osiris of the mysteries, who springs from the returning waters.”.” It would seem impossible to devise a more graphic way of depicting Osiris as a personification of the corn; while the inscription attached to the picture proves that this personification was the kernel of the mysteries of the god, the innermost secret that was only revealed to the initiated. In estimating the mythical character of Osiris very great weight must be given to this monument. The story that his mangled remains were scattered up and down the land may be a mythical way of expressing either the sowing or the winnowing of the grain. The latter interpretation is supported by the tale that Isis placed the severed limbs of Osiris on a corn-sieve.” Or the legend may be a reminiscence of the custom of slaying a human victim as a representative of the corn-spirit and distributing his flesh or scattering his ashes over the fields to fertilise them. We have already seen that in modern Europe the figure of Death is sometimes torn in pieces, and that the fragments are then buried in the fields to make the crops grow well.” Later on we shall meet with examples of human victims treated in the same way. With regard to the ancient Egyptians, we have it on the authority of Manetho that they used to burn red-haired men and scatter their ashes with winnowing-fans." This custom was not, as might perhaps be supposed, a mere way of wreaking their spite on foreigners, amongst whom red hair would probably be commoner than amongst the native Egyptians; for the oxen which were sacrificed had also to be red, a single black or white hair found on a beast would have disqualified it for the sacrifice.” The red hair of the human victims was thus probably essential ; the circumstance

1 Brugsch, Religion und Mythologie * Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 73, cp.

der alten Aegypter, p. 621. 33; Diodorus, i. 88. * Servius on Virgil, Georg. i. 166. * Plutarch, op. cit. 31 ; lierodotus, * Above, p. 95. ii. 38.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

that they were generally foreigners may have been only accidental. If, as I conjecture, these human sacrifices were intended to promote the growth of the crops—and the winnowing of their ashes seems to support this view—redhaired victims were perhaps selected as best fitted to personate the spirit of the golden grain. For when a god is represented by a living person, it is natural that the human representative should be chosen on the ground of his supposed resemblance to the god. Hence the ancient Mexicans, conceiving the maize as a personal being who went through the whole course of life between seed-time and harvest, sacrificed new-born babes when the maize was sown, older children when it had sprouted, and so on till it was fully ripe, when they sacrificed old men." A name for Osiris was the “crop" or “harvest”;” and the ancients sometimes explained him as a personification of the corn.” But Osiris was more than a spirit of the corn; he was also a tree-spirit, and this may well have been his original character, since the worship of trees is naturally older in the history of religion than the worship of the cereals. His character as a tree-spirit was represented very graphically in a ceremony described by Firmicus Maternus.* A pine-tree having been cut down, the centre was hollowed out, and with the wood thus excavated an image of Osiris was made, which

1 Herrera, quoted by Bastian, Culturländer des alten Amerika, ii. 639 ; id., General History of the tast Continent and Islands of America, ii. 379 sq., trans. by Stevens (whose version of the passage is inadequate). Compare Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire des Mations civilisées du Mexique et de FAmérique-Centrale, i. 327, iii. 535. For more instances of the assimilation of the human victim to the corn, see below, pp. 247 sy., 255.

* Lefébure, Le mythe Osirien (Paris, 1874-75), p. 1SS.

3 Firmicus Maternus, De errore profanarum religionum, 2, § 6: “defensores corum volunt addere physican rationem, frugum semina Osirim dicenses esse ; /sim terram, 73'sonem calorem: es quia maturatae fruges calore ad vitam hominum colliguntur

et divisae a terrae consortio separantur
etrursus adpropinquante hieme seminan-
tur, hand volunt esse mortem Osiridis,
cum fruges recondunt, inventionem vero,
cum fruges genitali terrae fomento
conceptae annua rursus coeperint pro-
creatione generari.” Eusebius, Praepar.
Evang. iii. 11, 31 : 5 & "Oorpts trap'
Alyvrrious rhy kāpiriuov raptormat
6&vapur, ov 6pfivots droueixtagovrat els
Yāv dopavišouévny év to a rôpos, kal top'
huav karavaMaxoov my eis rās rooq'ds.
Athenagoras, Supplicatio pro Chris-
tianis, 22, pp. 112, 114, ed. Otto: rā 3e
arouxeta Kai rā uðpta atriov 8eomotovoiv,
ãAMore à AMa &vöuara atross ru64puevot,
row uév ros, airov aropäv "Ocupuy (66ev
qadiv unarukós : émi To dive upéget røy
ue^@v () rāv kapráv čmixex07, at rs,
Ioriča. Eipfixauev, avyxatpouey !).
* Op. cit. 27, § 1.

« 이전계속 »