Detailed article on ancient Egyptian history, religion, literary monuments, Coptic Church
Egypt. —This subject will be treated under the following main divisions: I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION; II. Ancient EGYPTIAN HISTORY; III. Ancient EGYPTIAN RELIGION; IV. LITERARY MONUMENTS OF Ancient EGYPT; V. THE COPTIC CHURCH; VI. COPTIC LITERATURE; VII. COPTO-ARABIC LITERATURE.
I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION.—The name Egypt properly applies only to the rather narrow valley of the Nile from the Mediterranean, 31° 35′ N. latitude, to the First Cataract, at Assuan (Syene), 24° 5′ 30″ N. latitude, a stretch of about 680 miles by rail. However, from remote antiquity, as now, Egypt held sway over Nubia, reaching by degrees as far as Napata (Gebel Barkal), 18° 30′ N. latitude, which, under the eighteenth dynasty, was the southernmost city of the empire—another stretch of about 590 miles by rail. Distances by water are somewhat greater owing to the winding course of the river. From Napata the Nile continues for awhile in the southwest direction which it follows from Abu-Hamed, but soon assumes its ordinary sinuous course to the north, describing two great principal curves—one to the west down to Wadi Halfa, just below the second cataract, Soleb being the westernmost point, and then another to the east as far as Assiàt (Lycopolis), Assuan forming its apex, or easternmost point. As far as Edfu Appollinopolis Magna) the valley is rather narrow, rarely as much as two to three miles wide. Indeed “in Lower Nubia the cultivable land area is seldom more than a few hundred yards in width and at not a few points, especially on the west bank, the desert advances clear up to the river brink” (Baedeker, Egypt, 1908, p. 376). The general aspect of the Nubian desert is that of a comparatively low tableland, stony in the north, studded with sandy hills in the south. At Assuan the course of the river is broken by the first cataract, where its waters rush between numberless more or less diminutive islands, the most famous of which is the island of Philae above and Elephantine in front of Assuan. The cataract, however, has lost much of its grandeur since the building of the great dam which now regulates the supply for the irrigation of the country in time of low water. From Assuan to Edfu (about 48 miles) the banks are so high that even in the annual inundation they are above the level of high water, and consequently remain barren. Near Edfu the valley widens out and becomes wider still in the neighborhood of Esneh (Latopolis). At Luxor (part of Thebae) it again narrows for a few miles, but after that it maintains a respectable breadth, averaging between twelve and fifteen miles. At Assuan begin the two high ranges of the Libyan and Arabian deserts, between which the valley extends. The range to the left is somewhat farther from the river, so that most of the towns are built on the western bank.
Near Girgeh (Abydos) begins the Bahr-Yàsef, Joseph‘s Canal. It was formerly a branch of the Nile; it runs parallel to the main stream at a distance of from 5 to 6 miles along the left bank, and empties into the Fayàm (nome of Arsinoe). One hundred and ten miles above Memphis the Libyan mountains bend to the northwest, and then, facing northeast, they draw nearer again to the Nile, thus surrounding a large extent of territory, which of old was known as Te-She, or Lakeland, from the great inland lake frequently mentioned and described by the Greek travellers and geographers under the name of Lake Moeris. It is still called Fayàm, from the Coptic piiom, “the sea”. This lake once occupied almost the entire basin of the Fayàm, but within the historical period its circumference does not seem to have exceeded 140 miles. It lay 73 feet above the sea level, and was very deep, as shown by its last vestige, the Birket-el-Karàn, which lies 144 feet below the same level (Baedeker, op. cit., p. 186 sq.).
A little before reaching Cairo, the Nile flows along the rocky and sandy plateau on which the three best-known pyramids stand. There, too, the two ranges of Arabian and Libyan mountains, which above this point run for many miles close to the river, turn sharply aside in the direction of the northeast and northwest, thus forming a triangle with the Mediterranean shore. The immense alluvial plain thus encompassed was called by the Greeks the Delta, owing to its likeness to the fourth letter of their alphabet. As soon as the river enters this plain its waters divide into several streams which separately wind their way to the sea and make it a garden of incredible fertility. In ancient times there were seven of these branches, five natural and two artificial. Only two are now of importance for navigation, the Damietta (Tamiathis) and the Rosetta branches, both named from the towns near which they discharge into the sea. It is to be remarked that, as a natural result of the incessant struggle between sea and land, the outline of the Delta is even now somewhat indefinite, and was probably much more so in the remote past. The shore is always partly covered with lagoons which move from one place to another. The most extensive of these are now, from east to west, Lake Menzaleh between the ancient Ostium Phatniticum and Ostium Pelusiacum, Lake Borolos (Lacus Buto or Paralus) east and Lake Edkà west of the Rosetta mouth (Ostium Bolbitinum), and Lake Mariàt (Mareotis Lacus) south of the narrow strip of land on which Alexandria stands. Between Lake Menzaleh and the Red Sea, on a line running first south and then south-southeast, are Lake Balah, Lake Timsah, and the Bitter Lakes (Lacus Amari), now traversed by the Suez Canal. Wadi Tumilat connects Lake Timsah with the Delta across the Arabian Desert, and forms the natural entrance to Egypt from the Asiatic side. West of the Delta, in a depression of the Libyan Desert, lies the Wadi Natràn (Vallis Nitria), famous in early Christian times, under the name of Desert of Scete, for its Coptic monasteries, four of which exist to this day.
Geology.—The low Nubian tableland through which the Nile meanders consists of a red sandstone, belonging to the upper cretaceous formation. It has furnished the Egyptians with an excellent building stone which they have exploited from remote antiquity, especially at Gebel Silsileh (Silsilis), 26 miles south of Edfu, where the sandstone beds, in sharp contrast with their former low level, rise in steep banks over-hanging the river, thus offering unusual facilities for quarrying and transporting the stone. Near Edfu the sandstone is replaced by the nummulitic limestones (Eocene) of the Tertiary period, which form the bulk of the Libyan Desert and of a considerable portion of the Arabian Desert as well. The Libyan Desert is a level, or almost level, tableland, averaging 1000 feet above the sea. On the east it is fringed with craggy cliffs overhanging the valley, while its outward border, running aslant to the northwest, offers here and there deep bays in which lie the oases of Khargeh and Dakhleh (Great Oasis), Farafreh (Tringtheos Oasis), and Siweh (Jupiter Ammon). The oasis of Bahriyeh (Small Oasis), northeast of Farafreh, lies, on the contrary, in a depression entirely surrounded by the higher plateau. The Fayàm, in fact, is nothing but such an oasis on a larger scale. The plateau itself is waterless and practically without vegetation. Its strata are gently inclined to the northwest, so that the highest level is in the south, near Luxor, where the oldest (lower Eocene) strata appear, and valleys (Biban-el-Molàk) take the place of the cliffs, undoubtedly for the same reason as in the Arabian Desert (see below).
East of the Nile the limestone formation originally presented much the same appearance as in the Libyan counterpart. This appearance, however, was changed by a high (6000 to 7000 feet) range of crystalline rocks (granite, gneiss, diorite, porphyry, etc.) which sprang up along the Red Sea, lifting and tilting both the lime-stone formation and the sandstone beds (which extend farther north on the eastern than on the western side of the river), thus creating numerous deeply eroded valleys. Some of these run north and south, but most of them slope down to the Nile. The Wadi Hammamat (the Rehenu Valley of the Egyptians) runs almost straight across the desert from Keft (Coptos) on the Nile in the direction of Koseir (Leucos Limèn of the Greeks) on the Red Sea. In spite of this the Arabian Desert still preserves its general appearance of a tableland. The open plains, of course, are almost devoid of vegetation, but numerous plants can be seen in the valley after rain, and they thrive in the sheltered ravines among the hills where springs occur. Near Assuan a spur of the eruptive range just mentioned runs in a western direction to the Nile, extending clear across the bed of the river and thus occasioning the so-called first cataract.
The formation of the present Valley of the Nile, in Egypt proper, dates from the Pliocene times, when it first appeared as a fiord into which the water of the Mediterranean Sea flowed at least as far as Keneh (Caenepolis) and perhaps even as far as Esneh (in the older Miocene times, the valley did not exist at all, the Arabian and Libyan Deserts forming one continuous tableland). Intimately connected with the formation of the valley are the sands and loams occurring to the south of the pyramids of Gizeh, as is shown by numerous Pliocene fossils they contain (Baedeker, Egypt, p. 1). The silicified wood which abounds in the district of Moghara, west of Wadi Natràn (see above), belongs to the Miocene times, as do also the marine limestones of the Plateau of Cyrenaica, north of the Oasis of Siweh, on the eastern edge of the Arabian Desert and on the shore of the Gulf of Suez. The so-called petrified forests near Cairo consist of stems of trees silicified by the action of the siliceous thermal springs which bubbled forth amid the network of lagoons existing in these parts in Oligocene times. Those forest trees are still more common in the Fayàm, where innumerable bones of extinct terrestrial and marine mammals and reptiles have been found in sands of the same geological age (Baedeker, loc. cit.).
Deposits of alabaster are to be found in the neighborhood of El `Amarna, where the alabaster quarries of Hetnub were worked by the Egyptians from the time of the Fourth Dynasty. The cultivated plains of the Delta and the Nile valley consist of recent alluvial deposits, ranging from fine sand to the finest silt laid down by the water of the annual inundation. Under these lie coarser yellowish sands and gravels of Pleistocene age, which here and there reach the surface in the Delta as islands of sandy waste among the rich cultivation of the surrounding country” (Baedeker, Egypt, p. xlix). Gold-bearing quartz and iron ore are plentiful in the eruptive range of the eastern desert both in Nubia and in Egypt, and gold mines were exploited there by the pharaohs. No workings of iron ore have been found (Breasted, “History of the Ancient Egyptians”, 122, 142, 154, 155).
Flora and Agriculture.—Since the remotest antiquity Egypt has been famous for its fertility. The black soil, really a gift of the Nile, annually enriched by a fresh layer of silt, requires but little care in tilling and ploughing. Hence the primitive character of the agricultural implements—the plough, in particular, which is precisely the same now as it was 5000 years ago, a pole to which is fastened a piece of wood bent inward at an acute angle and shod, at least in later periods, with a three-pronged piece of iron. There is no trace of large forests similar to our own having ever covered the valley proper of the Nile in quaternary times, much less the Libyan and Arabian ranges, but the Delta still has, and may have had in the past, large groves of palm trees. So far as we can judge from the paintings of the early tombs, the whole cultivable land was laid out in fields, orchards, or gardens. The fields gave rich crops of wheat, barley, millet (Sorghum vulgare), flax, lentils, peas, and beans. The orchards were stocked with trees which, as a rule, were planted as much for the shade they afforded as for their refreshing fruit. There were palms of two species: the ordinary date-palm and the dàm-palm, the latter growing in Upper Egypt only. Oranges and lemons were peculiar to Lower Egypt, while sycamores, tamarisks, acacias of various kinds, the vine, the pomegranate, and the olive were common; oleanders, roses, carnations, and geraniums were, as they still are, the principal decorative plants. In the kitchen gardens grew cabbages, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic, which the Israelites seem to have regretted no less than the excellent fish (Num., xi, 5) and the fat fleshpots (Ex., xvi, 3) of the land of bondage Reeds of various kinds grew abundantly in the marshes in Lower Egypt especially; the most important reed was the papyrus; its stalks served to make boats (Is., xviii, 2), ropes, sandals, clothes, and baskets. It was in such a basket that Moses was put by his mother and exposed in the flags by the river brink (Ex., ii, 3). But it was especially as a writing material that the papyrus became famous. Its large, fibrous stalks, being first stripped of their rind, were sliced length-wise. Two layers of such slices were disposed at right angles on one another and fastened with a sort of glue under some pressure, and the sheet of paper was ready for use as soon as it dried. When written upon, the sheet was rolled up with the writing inside, and the title of contents was then added on the back end of it. In ancient Egypt the tuft of papyrus was the coat of arms or symbol of the Northern Kingdom. This reed, so common in Egypt up to the first centuries of our era, has now completely disappeared from that country, very likely on account of the high tax which the Roman emperors imposed on its cultivation. It exists still, however, on the upper course of the Nile, and, according to Bruce, the Abyssinians still make boats of its stalks. Among the many other aquatic plants must be mentioned the lotus, a water-lily, of which two species, the Castalia scutifolia (Nymphoea coerulea), with blue flowers, and the Castalia mystica (Nymphoea lotus), with white blossoms, are often found figured on Egyptian monuments, particularly on columns. The flower of the lotus was the emblem of Upper Egypt, as the tuft of papyrus was of Lower Egypt.
The inundation of the Nile is of the utmost importance to Egypt; it is no exaggeration to say that but for its annual recurrence the rich valley would soon become a desert similar to those of Libya and Arabia. The overflow is due principally to the torrents of rain that fall almost uninterruptedly in Abyssinia during the four months of summer and swell the Blue Nile (Astapus), which discharges into the Nile proper, or White Nile, at Khartàm. The rise of the Nile begins in Egypt a few days before the summer solstice, that is between the 10th and 20th of June; but the inundation does not begin until fully two months later. It reaches its maximum height about the autumnal equinox when it begins gradually to subside until the vernal equinox, so that the whole process of inundation lasts about nine months. The maximum height of the water varies in different places, decreasing as the area covered by the inundation increases. The mean difference between the highest and lowest stages of the river is 21 feet at Khartàm, 20 feet at Wadi Halfa, 23 feet at Assuan, 22 feet at Assiàt, and 22 feet at Minieh. Below the last-named point controlling works now prevent the normal rise of the river. (Baedeker, Egypt, p. xlvi.) At Cairo today the average rise is 16 feet. Some twenty-five years ago it used to be 25 feet at Cairo, 24 feet at Rosetta. When stated generally the height of the inundation must be understood as the height of the nilometre on the island of Rôdah, near Cairo (close by the ancient Babylon). Formerly a rise of 18 to 20 feet was poor, 20 to 24 insufficient, 24 to 27 good, 27 and above too much. For seven years, A. H. 457-464 (A.D. 1065-1072) the inundation failed altogether. The long duration of the overflow is due to the fact that it is controlled by artificial means without which it would undoubtedly prove as detrimental as it is beneficial. The only part left to nature is the process of infiltration which is due to the pressure of the water on the banks and is favored by the porous nature of the soil, also by the fact that the subsoil, like the surface of the valley, gently slopes down to the mountains. It is only when this natural process is completed that the river is ready to overflow its banks, and then begins man’s work. The sluices of the canals are opened, and the waters are led first to the higher level lands nearer the banks, then to the lower lands, for in its general configuration the soil to be submerged, as the subsoil, is convex—not concave, as in the case of ordinary rivers. This is brought about by building earthen dykes across the canals and the fields; the dykes are removed when the preceding tract has been sufficiently irrigated. The reverse is done when the river begins to fall, and the waters are kept in the remotest parts of the valley as high as possible above the level of the river, and they are let out slowly, so as to secure irrigation for the low-water months, March to June. This process, however, is not always possible, either because the inundation is insufficient or because the canals and sluices are not kept in good condition. The fellaheen (tillers of the soil) then have to raise the water from the river, the canals, or the numerous wells fed by natural infiltration, so as to water their fields.
Two machines chiefly are used for this purpose: the sakyeh and the shadàf. The sakyeh consists of two cog-wheels working at right angles to one another. The perpendicular wheel carries an endless chain to which are attached leathern, wooden, or clay buckets. As the wheel turns the buckets are dipped in the water and filled, when they are lifted and emptied into a channel which carries the water to the fields. These machines are worked by asses or buffaloes in Egypt and by camels in Nubia. The shadàf is a roughly made pair of gigantic scales in which the trays are replaced by a bucket at one end and a stone on the other, the stone being a little more than the weight of the bucket when filled. A man stands on the bank and, pulling on the rope to which the bucket is attached, submerges the latter, then letting go, the weight of the stone lifts the bucket out, when it can be emptied into the proper channel. In the Lower Delta, where the level of the water in the canals remains nearly the same, they use a wooden wheel called tabàt which raises the water by means of numerous compartments in the hollow felloes. Such methods, however, while absorbing all the energies of the population for most of the year, are far from exhausting the irrigation power supplied by the Nile during inundation, nine-twelfths of the annual outpour being contributed during the three months of maximum rise. It allows one crop only for the irrigated lands, and leaves many districts desert-like for lack of water. The pharaohs of the twelfth dynasty, it seems, tried partly to obviate these defects by using the natural lake of the Fayàm as a reservoir where the surplus of the inundation waters were stored during their highest rise, which allowed them to double the volume of the river below the Fayàm during the three months of low Nile. The immense waterworks necessitated by this undertaking, at the point where the lake was most commonly visited by foreigners, gave the impression that the lake itself was an artificial excavation, as reported by classic geographers and travellers.
This great enterprise was not resumed until the close of the last century, when a series of gigantic dams at different points on the Nile was planned by the Egyptian Government; these, in part at least, have been completed. The Barrage du Nil (about twelve miles below Cairo) was completed in 1890. It extends across the Rosetta and Damietta branches and two of the principal canals of the Delta, thus ensuring constant navigation on the Rosetta branch and perennial irrigation through most of the Delta. The dam of Assiàt, constructed 1898-1902, regulates the amount of water in the Ibrahïmïeh Canal and thus ensures the irrigation of the provinces of Assiàt, Minieh, Beni-Suef (10 miles east of Heracleopolis Magna), and, through Bahr-Yàsef, of the Fayàm. Finally the dam of Assuan, also completed in 1902, below the island of Philae, maintains such a supply of water in the canals of Lower and Middle Egypt that upwards of 500,000 acres have been added to the area of cultivable land in the summer. This dam, the largest structure of the kind in the world, rises 130 feet above the foundation, and dams up the water of the Nile to a height of 83 feet, thus forming a lake of 234,000,000,000 gallons. Its length is 2150 yards; its width 98 feet at the bottom, and 23 feet at the top. The Egyptian Government has lately decided to raise it 23 feet, which will more than double the huge reservoir’s capacity and will afford irrigation for about 930,000 acres of land now lying waste in Upper Egypt (Baedeker, Egypt, p. 365). In addition to these gigantic waterworks, the number and capacity of the canals have been considerably increased, thus allowing the inundation waters to reach farther on the out-skirts of the desert; to this, probably, is due the fact that the average level of high waters is lower than it used to be—25 feet at Assuan instead of 40, although for the region below Minieh this change is also to be explained by the manipulation of the controlling waterworks (Baedeker, Egypt, p. xlvi).
II. Ancient EGYPTIAN HISTORY.—Chronology.—The ancient Egyptians practically had only one kind of year: a vague year consisting of 12 months, each of 30 days, and 5 supplementary days which were intercalated between the 30th day of the last month of the year just elapsed and the first day of the first month of the following year. Technically, those five days did not belong to the year; the Egyptians always said the “year and the five days to be found thereon”. The five extra year days were sacred to Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. They were days of bad omen. The year was divided into three periods, or seasons, of four months each: the inundation (Egyptian Echut, or Echet), the sowing time (Proyet), and the harvest (?†omu). In ancient times months had no special names, they were simply designated by ordinal numbers in each season, as “the first month of the inundation” and so on. Each month (as also the decades and hours), however, had as a patron one of the divinities whose feast occurred during that month, and the patrons, it seems, varied according to time and locality. At a rather late period the names of those patrons passed over to the months themselves, hence the names transmitted to us by the classical writers (see table below). Each month was divided into three decades (the Egyptians do not seem to have ever used, or even known, the week of seven days); each day into 24 hours, 12 hours of actual day time and 12 hours of actual night time. The hours of day and night, consequently, were not always of the same length. The sixth hour of night corresponded to midnight, and the sixth hour of day to noon. There were further subdivisions of time, but their relation to the hour is unknown. The day most likely began with the first day-time hour; some, however, think it began with the first hour of night.
The year began with the first day of Thoth (Inundation I) which, of course, was supposed to coincide with the first rise of the river. The first of Thoth was also supposed to coincide with the day of the heliacal rising of Sirius, which was called New Year’s Day and celebrated as such each year with a great festival. Isis, typified by Sirius, her star, was believed to bring with the inundation a promise of plenty for the new year; this takes us back into the first centuries of the fifth millennium, when the summer solstice, which precedes by a few days only the inundation, actually coincided with the heliacal rising of Sirius. We know, besides, from the classical writers that the latter phenomenon occurred on the 19th or 20th of July (according to the Julian Calendar), which points to Memphis as the home of the Egyptian Calendar. The Egyptians, however, must have perceived in course of time (if they had not foreseen it) that their calendar of 365 days would not, as they evidently believed at first, bring back the seasons every year at their respective natural times. Their year being about one-fourth of a day shorter than the Sirius year, on the fourth anniversary of its adoption, it had retroceded a whole day on the heliacal rising of Sirius; 486 years later, the retrocession was of about 120 days, so that the calendar indicated the opening of the inundation time when in fact the harvest was only beginning; and so on until, after 1461 revolutions of the civil year and 1460 only of Sirius, the first of Thoth fell again on the same clay as the heliacal rising of that star. This period of 1460 Sirius years (1461 Egyptian years) received later the name of Sothic period from Sothis, a Greek form of Sopdet, the Egyptian name of Sirius. Long before the end of the first Sothic period it was found necessary to consider the first of Thoth as a New Year’s Day also, the civil New Year’s Day. As early as the Fourth Dynasty we find the two New Year’s Days recorded side by side in the tombs.
To the common people, who, as usual, were guided by the appearances, the calendar was steady while Sirius and the natural seasons were moving around it. Consequently Sirius’s New Year’s Day—which seems to be all they knew or ever cared to know of the Sirius year—was a movable feast, the date of which was to be announced every year. The fact that they estimated its precession on the calendar at six hours exactly, which was not correct except in 3231 B.C. (see E. Meyer, “Aegyptische Chronologie”, p. 14), tends to show that the date was not obtained from astronomical observation, but in a mechanical way on the supposition that every four years it would fall one day later, this rule having been ascertained astronomically once for all, and considered as correct (E. Meyer, op. cit., p. 19).
The cycle of the Sothic periods has been established in different ways by various scholars, with slight variations in the years of beginning of the several periods (see Ginzel, “Handbuch der mathematischen and technischen Chronologie”, 187 sqq.). According to E. Meyer (op. cit., 28), a new period began:
July 19, A.D. 140-141
July 19, 1321-20 B.C.
July 19, 2781-80 B.C.
July 19, 4241-40 B.C.
These dates have been adopted by Breasted in his chronology (Ancient Records of Egypt, I, sec. 44), which we shall follow in the chronological arrangement of the Egyptian dynasties (see below).
We have no evidence of the Egyptians having ever become aware of the difference between the Sirius year and the solar year, which accounts for the shifting of the summer solstice and, consequently, of the beginning of the inundation from July 25, in 4236 B.C., to June 21, in 139 A.D. (see Ginzel, op. cit., 190). This divergence, however, was too slow, and amounted to so little, even in the course of several centuries, that the Egyptian astronomers might well have over-looked, or at least ignored, it with regard to the calendar. It is still more remarkable that, after noting the retrocession of their vague year, they should not have tried to even it up with the Sirius year. But the astronomers were also priests and, as such, custodians of the religious side of the calendar, which in their eyes could not have been the less important. The simple insertion of an intercalary day would have been sufficient when the two years agreed, but that happened rarely; and the need of a reform was not felt by the contemporary generation. When that need was most acute, as in the middle of a Sothic period, the intercalation was not enough; the reform, to be satisfactory, would have demanded the bringing back of the seasons to their right times (at least in the measure allowed by the shifting of the summer solstice), which could not be done without passing over several months and days (cf. the Gregorian Reform), and consequently almost as many feasts or popular festivals. Indeed, in Ptolemaic times, when, prompted by pressing politico-religious reasons, the priests finally undertook a reform, they were satisfied with the insertion of a sixth epagomene day every four years. This fixed year, known as the Canopic or Tanitic year, began on October 22, 238 B.C. (Julian), the first day of Thoth happening then to coincide with that date. It met with but scant favor and was abandoned under Ptolemy IV (Philopator) in honor of whose predecessor, Ptolemy III, the decree had been issued. A second attempt on the same limited scale, and probably in the same spirit of flattery, was made in the early years of Augustus, in connection with the establishment of the era of Alexandria. The Egyptian year was then brought into harmony with the fixed Julian year, inasmuch as it received every four years an intercalary day. That day was inserted after the 5th epagomene, preceding the Julian intercalary year. The first of Thoth, however, remained where it was when the reform overtook it, viz., on August 29, except after an intercalary year, when it fell on August 30. The first year with an intercalary day, it seems, was 23 B.C. (see Ginzel, op. cit., I, 224-28). This fixed year, which is still in use in the Coptic Church, was first adopted by the Greek and Roman portions of the population, while the Egyptians proper for several centuries clung still to the old vague year.
As we have seen in the beginning of this section, the whole arrangement of the Egyptian year and its relation to the astronomical and climatic phenomena of chief importance to the ancient Egyptians indicate that it must have been established at a time when one of the heliacal risings of Sirius coincided with the beginning of the inundation, which takes place shortly (according to the Coptic Calendar three days) after the summer solstice. This points clearly to the beginning of that Sothic period the first year of which fell on July 19, 4241 B.C., when the summer solstice was on July 25, and the inundation on July 28. At the beginning of the preceding period, July 19, 2781 B.C., the summer solstice had already retroceded to July 13, so that the inundation (July 16) preceded the heliacal rising of Sirius, while at the beginning of the following period, July 19, 5701 B.C., the summer solstice was due only on August 6, and the inundation on August 9, or 21 days after the heliacal rising of Sirius (cf. Ginzel, op. cit., 190; E. Meyer, op. cit., 14 sqq.). The date 2781, as a possible date of the inauguration of the Egyptian calendar, is also excluded by the fact that the intercalary days (proving the use of the shifting year of 360 plus 5 days) are mentioned in the so-called Pyramid Texts, which are far older than the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties, although they occur for the first time on the monuments of these dynasties (E. Meyer, op. cit., 40; Breasted, “Ancient Records of Egypt”, I, 30). The date of the heliacal rising of Sirius varies according to the latitude from which it is observed. The fact that most of the classical writers and the Egyptian documents fix that date at July 19 shows that the Egyptians observed it from the 30th degree of N. latitude, which points to one of the ancient cities of the Southern Delta as the home of the Egyptian year, probably Memphis or Heliopolis (E. Meyer, op. cit., 41; Ginzel, op. cit., I, 186; Breasted, op. cit., I, sec. 45).
The following table exhibits the seasons and the 12 months of the Egyptian year with their Greek names (still in use with slight changes of orthography in the Coptic Calendar) and their respective dates of beginning according to the Julian Calendar, when I Thoth fell on the day of the heliacal rising of Sirius, i.e. at the opening of Sothic periods:
INUNDATION I. Thoth July 19
II. Phaôphi August 18
III. Athyr September 17
IV. Choiac October 17
SOWING I. Tybi November 16
II. Mechir December 16
III. Phamenoth January 15
IV. Pharmouthi February 14
HARVEST I. Pachon March 16
II. Payni April 15
III. Epiphi May 15
IV. Mesôri June 14
The five Epagomene days July 14
The following table shows the correspondence of the present Egyptian (and Coptic) calendar, as reformed under Augustus, with our own calendar, both before and after intercalation:
Thoth August 29 After Intercalation August 30
Phaôphi September 28 ” ” September 29
Athyr October 28 ” ” October 29
Choiac November 27 ” ” November 28
Tybi December 27 ” ” December 28
Mechir January 26 ” ” January 27
Phamenoth 25 Feburary ” ” February 26
Pharmouthi March 27 ” ” March 28
Pachon April 26 ” ” April 27
Payni May 26 ” ” May 27
Epiphi June 25 ” ” June 26
Mesôri July 25 ” ” July 26
Epagomene day August 24 ” ” August 25
Although the Egyptians kept track of the Sirius year, in so far as its beginning was the official New Year’s day, they do not seem to have made use of it for chronological purposes. The same must be said of other methods of reckoning the year which may have been in use among some classes of the population, as, for instance, the natural year based on the recurrence of the natural seasons. It is not uncommonly taken for granted or advanced that the Egyptian vague year of 365 days was preceded by a round year of 360 days, and that the former was obtained by adding 5 days to the latter. Arguments in favor of that view are few and not convincing. A year of 360 days neither lunar nor solar is hardly imaginable (cf. Ginzel, op. cit., 69; E. Meyer, op. cit., 10). It is more likely that, even before the arrangement of 360 plus 5 days, the Egyptian year (originally a lunar year) had become luni-solar, and increased to 365 days, either as a fixed number for every year by means of intercalary days distributed over the whole year (as in the Julian year), or as an average number in a series of years by process of embolism (as for instance in the Hebrew year). Finally it was decided to adopt the far simpler and more rational arrangement of 12 even months followed by 5 intercalary days; the distribution of the days was changed, not their number. This recast of the calendar found expression at a very early period, if not at the time when it took place, in the following fable preserved by Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride, xii), but undoubtedly very ancient, as we may judge from the fact that the divinities mentioned in it belonged to the earliest stages of the Egyptian Pantheon. Rhea (Egyptian Nàt) having had secret intercourse with Kronos (Geb), Hèlios (Re) cast a spell upon her to prevent her from bringing forth during any month of any year. But Hermes (Thoth), who loved her, played dice with the Moon and won from her the 73d part (not 60th as Maspéro, “Histoire ancienne”, p. 87; nor 70th as E. Meyer, op. cit., p. 9; nor 72d, as Ginzel, op. cit., p. 171) of her courses (literally lights, photon), which he added to the (remaining) 360 days. During these five days Nàt brought forth her children (Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys).
The ancient Egyptians never had eras in the usual sense of this word, i.e. epochs from which all successive years are counted regardless of political or other changes in the life of the nation. Instead of eras, during the first five dynasties, they used to name each civil year from some great political or religious event (a usage which had its parallel in Babylonia), as “the Year of the Smiting of the Troglodytes”, “the Year of the Conquest of Nubia“, “the Year of the Defeat of Lower Egypt”, “the Year of the Worship of Horus”; or from some fiscal process recurring periodically, as “the Year of [or after] the Second Occurrence of the Census of all Cattle, Gold”, etc. which was often abbreviated to “the Year of the Second Occurrence of the Census“, or, still more briefly, “the Year of the Second Occurrence”. The census having become annual, each year of any given reign came to be identified as the year of the first (or whatever might be the proper ordinal) census of that reign, a new series thus beginning with each reign. From the Eleventh Dynasty on, the years were always numbered from the first of the current reign, and the second year of the reign was supposed to begin with the first day of Thoth next following the date of the king’s accession, no matter how recent that date might be. The absence of eras in ancient Egypt is all the more remarkable as there were several periods which could easily have been utilized for that purpose, the Sothic period especially. (On other periods—Phoenix, Apis, etc.—mentioned by the classical writers, but not yet found on Egyptian monuments, as also on the so-called Great and Small Years and the supposed Nubti Era, see Ginzel, op. cit., I, sec. 38 and 45.)
In later times several eras were created or adopted in Egypt, the principal of which was the Era of Alexandria. Its epoch, or starting-point, has been conventionally fixed at 30 (or 31) August of the first year of Augustus (Julian, 30 B.C.) although, as we have seen it did not acquire its intercalary character until 26, or even 23, B.C., so that its first years were ordinary Egyptian vague years (for further details see Ginzel, op. cit., I, pp. 224-28). The Philippic, or Macedonian, Era (more generally known as the Era of Alexander) was introduced into Egypt in the third century B.C., after the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.). Up to Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-47 B.C.), Egyptian monuments were dated according to the old Egyptian system, but after that time the Macedonian dates are generally found together with the Egyptian. Macedonian dating was gradually superseded by the use of the fixed eras, yet it is found, sporadically at least, as late as the second century after Christ (Ginzel, op. cit., I, p. 232). The Philippic Era begins on I Thoth, 425 (November 12, 324 B.C., Julian style) of the Era of Nabonassar; like the latter it is based on a vague year on the same pattern, months’ names included, as the old Egyptian year. The Era of Nabonassar begins at noon, February 26, 747 B.C. (Julian style). It is the basis of the famous Canon of Ptolemy. It was used in Egypt especially for astronomical purposes, and it met with great favor with the chronographers on account of the certainty of its starting point and its well established accuracy. The reduction of Nabonassar’s years into the corresponding usual Christian reckoning is rather complicated and requires the use of special tables (see Ginzel, op. cit., I, p. 143 sqq.).
Only a very small portion of the colossal mass of inscriptions, papyri, etc. so far discovered in Egypt has any bearing on, or can be of any assistance in, chronological questions. The astronomical knowledge of the ancient Egyptians does not seem to have gone very far, and, as every one knows, accurate astronomical observations rightly recorded in connection with historical events are the basis of any true chronology of ancient times. It is remarkable that the Egyptian Claudius Ptolemy (second century after Christ) took from the Babylonians and the Greeks all the observations of eclipses he ever used and started his canon (see above) with Babylonian, not with Egyptian, kings. Evidently he held no records of sun observations made in Egypt. Yet, for religious reasons, the Egyptians noted the occurrences of the heliacal risings of Sirius on the various dates of their movable calendar. A few have reached us, and have been of no small assistance in astronomically determining, within four years at least, some of the most important epochs of Egyptian history. The Egyptians also recorded the coincidence of new moons with the days of their calendar. Such data in themselves have no chronological value, as the phases of the moon return to the same positions on the calendar every nineteen years; taken, however, in conjunction with other data, they can help us to determine more precisely the chronology of some events (Breasted, op. cit., I, sec. 46). Moreover, ancient Egypt has bequeathed to us a number of monuments of a more or less chronological character: (I) The calendars of religious feasts [Calendars of Dendera (Tentyris), Edfu, Esneh, all three of which belong to the late period, Calendar of Papyrus Sallier IV] are especially interesting because they illustrate the nature of the Egyptian year (see Ginzel, op. cit., p. 200 sqq.). (2) The lists of selected royal names comprise: the so-called Tables of Sakkara, Nineteenth Dynasty, forty-seven names beginning with the sixth of the First Dynasty; Karnak (part of Thebae), Eighteenth Dynasty, sixty-one names, unfortunately not chronologically arranged; Abydos, Nineteenth Dynasty, seventy-six names beginning with Menes. (3) Two chronological compilations known as the Turin Papyrus, Nineteenth Dynasty, and the Palermo Stone, Fifth Dynasty, from the places where they are now preserved. Unfortunately, the first of these last two monuments is broken into many fragments and otherwise mutilated, while the second is but a fragment of a much larger stone. These two documents (cf. E Meyer, op. cit., pp. 105-205, and Breasted, op. cit., I, pp. 51 sqq.) are, though fragmentary, of the greatest importance, in particular for the early dynasties and the predynastic times. The Turin Papyrus contains, besides the names of the kings chronologically arranged in groups or dynasties, the durationsboth of the individual reigns and of the various dynasties or groups of dynasties, in years, months, and days. On the Palermo Stone each year of a reign is entered separately and is often accompanied with short historical notices.—All these documents combined furnish the chronological frame for the vast amount of historical matter contained in thousands of mural inscriptions and steloe collected and worked out with almost incredible patience by several generations of Egyptologists during the last hundred years.
Of secondary importance are the data furnished by the Greek and Latin writers. Still we must mention here the Aiguptiaka Hupomnemata of the Egyptian priest Manetho of Sebennytus, third century B.C. Of this work we have: (a) Some fragments which, preserved by Josephus (Contra Apion., I, xiv, xv, xx), were used by Eusebius in his “Praeparatio Evangellica” and the first book of his “Chronicon”; (b) an epitome which has reached us in two recensions: one of these recensions (the better of the two) was used by Julius Africanus, and the other by Eusebius in their respective chronicles; both have been preserved by Georgius Syncellus (eighth-ninth century) in his Egloge Chronographias. We have also a Latin translation by St. Jerome and an Armenian version of the Eusebian recension, while fragments of the recension of Julius Africanus are to be found in the so-called “Excerpta Barbara”. Judging from that epitome, the work of Manetho was divided into three parts, the first of which contained the reigns of the gods and demi-gods (omitted in the African recension) and eleven dynasties of human kings; the second, eight dynasties of such kings; the third, twelve (the last one added after Manetho’s death). Besides a few short notices, the epitome contains nothing but names and figures showing the duration of each reign and each dynasty. Those figures are summed up at the end of each book. In the shape it has reached us Manetho’s work is of comparatively little assistance, on account of its chronology, which seems to be hopelessly mixed up, besides being grossly exaggerated; and it must be used with the greatest caution. (For further details on Manetho and his work see the preface of C. Müller in the Didot edition of the second volume of “Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum”, and E. Meyer, op. cit., pp. 69-99.) In the next place should be mentioned a list of so-called Theban kings handed down by Eratosthenes of Cyrene (third century B.C.) and preserved by Syncellus. It seems to be a translation of some Egyptian royal list similar to the Table of Karnak [see C. Müller in the Didot edition of Herodotus (Fragmenta chronographica, p. 182) and E. Meyer, op. cit., pp. 99-103]. Lastly, Herodotus’s Historiai (fifth century B.C.) and Diodorus Siculus’s Bibliotheke (first century B.C.) deserve at least a passing mention. Although their interest lies chiefly in another direction, yet we may glean from them occasional chronological data for the times during which these two writers lived.
We cannot enter here upon even a cursory analysis, much less a discussion, of the various systems of Egyptian chronology. The older systems of Champollion, Lepsius, Lesueur, Brugsch, Mariette were, to a considerable extent, based on theories which have since been proved false, or on an imperfect study and an erroneous interpretation of the chronological material. These scholars, however, paved the way for the present generation of Egyptologists, of the German school especially, who have at last succeeded in placing the chronology of ancient Egypt on a firm basis. The following chronological table up to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty is condensed from the excellent work of Professor J. H. Breasted, “Ancient Records of Egypt”, I, pp. 40-47. The other dynasties up to the Thirtieth are taken from Professor G. Steindorff’s “Outline of the History of Egypt” in Baedeker’s “Egypt” (6th ed., 1908), with the exception of the year 408, the last of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty and first of the Twenty-eighth, which we copy from Maspéro, “Guide to the Cairo Museum” (Cairo, 1903), p. 3:
4241* B.C. Introduction of Calendar
3400 B.C. Accession of Menes and beginning of dynasties
3400-2980 B.C. First and Second Dynasties
2980-2900 B.C. Third Dynasty
2900-2750 B.C. Fourth Dynasty
‚Ä†2750-2625 B.C. Fifth Dynasty
‚Ä†2625-2475 B.C. Sixth Dynasty
2475-2445 B.C. Seventh and Eighth Dynasties
2445-2160 B.C. Nineth and Tenth Dynasties
2160-2000 B.C. Eleventh Dynasty
2000*-1788 B.C. Twelfth Dynasty
‚Ä†1788*-1580 B.C. Thirteenth to Seventeenth Dynasties (including Hyksos times)
‚Ä†1580-1350 B.C. Eighteenth Dynasty
‚Ä†1350-1205 B.C. Nineteenth Dynasty
‚Ä†1205-1200 B.C. Interim
‚Ä†1200-1090 B.C. Twentieth Dynasty
‚Ä†1090-945 B.C. Twenty-first Dynasty
‚Ä†945-745 B.C. Twenty-second Dynasty
‚Ä†745-718 B.C. Twenty-third Dynasty
‚Ä†718-712 B.C. Twenty-fourth Dynasty
‚Ä†712-663 B.C. Twenty-fifth Dynasty
663-525 B.C. Twenty-sixth Dynasty
525-408 B.C. Twenty-seventh Dynasty
408-398 B.C. Twenty-eighth Dynasty
398-378 B.C. Twenty-nineth Dynasty
378-341 B.C. Thirtieth Dynasty
Dates marked with an asterisk in the above table are astronomically computed and correct within three years, while the date 525 is attested by the Canon of Ptolemy. Several dates besides, within the period of the Eighteenth Dynasty and the initial date of Shebataka, second king of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, are also astronomically determined. The dagger sign (+) indicates that the numerical difference between the two following dates is the minimum of duration allowed by the monuments for the corresponding dynasties. The double-dagger (++) on the contrary, indicates the maximum of duration. This is the case only for the period from the Thirteenth to the Seventeenth Dynasties. What this period may lose some day will be the gain of the nine following dynasties, but the extreme dates, 1788 and 663, will not be affected. The duration of 285 years for the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties, indicated by the two extreme dates 2445-2160, is an estimate, in round numbers, based on an average of 16 years for each of their 18 kings. The uncertainty which attaches to that period affects the dates of all the preceding dynasties, which, consequently, may some day have to be shifted as much as a century either way.
Ethnology.—Scholars are at variance as to the origin of the Egyptians. Some, chiefly philologists, suppose that the Egyptians of historical times had come from Western Asia either directly, through the Isthmus of Suez, or, as most will have it, through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb and Ethiopia. Others, principally naturalists, think they came from, or at least through, Libya, while others still place the original home of the Egyptians in Central Africa. The first hypothesis is now the most commonly received. Several considerations tend to make it plausible: the fact, for instance, that wheat and barley, which have been found in the most ancient tombs dating from before the First Dynasty, are originally indigenous to Asia, as well as linen, wine, and the produce of other cultivated plants which are represented among the funeral offerings in the tombs of the earliest dynasties. And the same can be said of the two sacred trees of the Egyptian pantheon, the sycamore and the persea. Finally, the fact that the ancestor of the domesticated Egyptian ass had its home in the wildernesses south of Egypt would show that the Asiatic invaders or settlers came through Ethiopia. This theory tallies with the Biblical narrative, Gen., x, 6, which makes the ancestor of the Egyptians, under the ethnic name of Misraim, the brother of Càsh the Ethiopian, of Phàt (e.g. Puanit, the Poeni of the Latins), and Canaan, all three of whom certainly had their original homes in Asia. What seems more certain is that the Egyptians of historical times belong to the same stock as the Libyans and other races, some of which were absorbed, while others were totally or partly driven away by them. Five at least of these are given in the Bible (Gen., x, 13, 14) under ethnic names as sons of Misraim, i.e. Ludim (according to Maspéro, “Histoire Ancienne des peuples de l’Orient”, Paris, 1908, p. 16, the Rotu or Romitu of the hieroglyphics, i.e. the Egyptians proper), Laabim (the Libyans), Naphtàchim (the inhabitants of No-Phtah, or Memphis), Patràsim (the inhabitants of the To-rèsi, i.e. Upper Egypt), Anamim (the Anàs, who, in prehistoric times, founded On of the North, or Heliopolis, and On of the South, or Herinonthis).
Predynastic History.—At all events, in the predynastic times, when the light of history begins to dawn on Egypt, various races which at different periods had settled in Egypt, had been blended under the moulding influence of the climate of their new home, and turned into a new race, well characterized and easily distinguishable from any other race, Asiatic, European, or African—the Egyptian race. Naturally, a difference of occupation created a certain variety of types within that race. While the tiller of the soil was short and thick-set, the men of the higher classes and the women generally were rather tall and slender, but all were broadshouldered, erect, spare, flatfooted. The head is rather large, the forehead square and rather low, the nose short and fleshy, the lips thick, but not turned up, the mouth rather large, with an undefinable expression of instinctive sadness. This type perpetuated itself through thirty or forty centuries of revolutions, invasions, or pacific immigrations and survives to this day in the peasant class, the fellaheen, who form the bulk of the population and the sinews of the national strength. All agree that, even before the Egyptian race had attained that remarkable degree of ethnological permanence, Egypt, from a merely pastoral region, had become an agricultural country, as a result of the immigration (or invasion) of Asiatic tribes, for, before the dawn of historical times, they had learned to grow wheat and barley, using the plough in their cultivation. Next came the political organization of the country. It was subdivided into a number of small independent States, which became the nomes of pharaonic times, each with its own laws and religion. In course of time some of these States were merged in one another until they formed two large principalities, the Northern Kingdom (To-Mehi) and the Southern Kingdom (To-Rèsi), an arrangement which must have lasted some time, for when the final degree of centralization was reached, and the two countries united under one rule, the king took the title of “Lord of Both Lands”, or “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” (never “King of Kimit”, i.e. of Egypt), and often wore a double crown consisting of the white crown of the South and the red crown of the North; the arms of the United Kingdom were formed by the union of the lotus and the papyrus, the emblems of the two countries.
The capital of the Northern Kingdom was Bàto, under the protection of the serpent goddess of the same name (now Tell-el-Ferhain, 20 miles southwest from Rosetta). Nekheb (the modern el-Kab, a few miles north of Edfu) was the capital of the Southern Kingdom; the vulture-goddess, Nekhabet, was its protecting deity. But at both capitals the hawk-god, Horus, was worshipped as the distinctive patron-deity of both kings. That ancient population of Egypt, referred to in later texts as the “Horus-worshippers”, have recently emerged from the mythical obscurity to which their kings had been relegated before the days of Manetho, who knows them as the nekues, “the shades”, i.e. the deified ancestors. The Palermo Stone has revealed to us the names of six or seven rulers of the Northern Kingdom; and in Upper Egypt, thousands of sepulchres (none of the kings, unfortunately) have recently been excavated. The bodies, unembalmed, lie sidewise, in what is called the “embryonic” posture, surrounded by pottery or stone jars, where remains of food, drink, and ointment can still be discerned, with toilet utensils, flint weapons, and clay models of various objects which the deceased might need in the life hereafter—boats especially, to cross the waters that surround the Elysian Fields. From those early times date, as to the essentials of concept and expression, the Pyramid Texts alluded to in a former section of this article. We have seen, under Chronology, that the institution of the calendar dates from predynastic times (4241 B.C.), and that its original home was in the Northern Kingdom, probably at Memphis or at On (Heliopolis). The computations necessary for that calendar show clearly that we must trace to predynastic times the hieroglyphic system of writing which we find fully developed in the royal tombs of the first two dynasties (Breasted, “Ancient History of the Egyptians”, pp. 35-39).
Dynastic History.—Since Manetho of Sebennytus (see above) it has been customary to arrange the long series of kings who ruled over ancient Egypt, from the beginning of history until the conquest of Alexander the Great, in thirty dynasties, each of which corresponds, or as a rule, seems to correspond, to a break in the succession of legitimate rulers, resulting from internal dissensions or military reverses, the latter almost invariably leading to an invasion and, eventually, the establishment of a foreign dynasty. Manetho’s claim, that his history was compiled from lists of royal ancestry and original documents, is fairly borne out by the monuments—the so-called Tables (royal lists) of Sakkarah, Abydos, Karnak, and especially the famous, but much mutilated, Turin Papyrus and Palermo Stone, as well as annals of individual kings recorded on the walls of temples, tombs, etc.
These thirty dynasties are very unevenly known to us; of a good many we know next to nothing. This is in particular the case for the Seventh and Eighth dynasties (Memphites), the Ninth and Tenth (Heracleopolites), the Eleventh (Theban—contemporary with the Tenth), the Thirteenth (Theban) and the Fourteenth (Xoite—in part simultaneous), the Fifteenth, and Sixteenth (Hyksos), and the Seventeenth Dynasty (Theban—partly contemporary with the Sixteenth). Other dynasties are known to us by their monuments, especially their tombs, which are often extremely rich in information as to the institutions, arts, manners, and customs of Egypt during the life-time of their occupants, but almost totally devoid of historical evidence proper. Such is the case, for instance, for the first five dynasties, of which all we can say is that they must have ruled successively over the whole land of Egypt and that their kings must have been conquerors as well as builders. We know little or nothing of the peoples they battled with, nor can we detect the political reasons which brought about the rise and fall of the several dynasties. Evidently, in some cases the lack of information on some periods, which must have been very momentous ones in the political life of ancient Egypt, should be attributed to the disappearance of monuments of an historical character, or to the fact that such monuments have not yet been discovered; it is very likely, however, that in many cases no historical evidence was ever handed down to posterity. In Egypt, as in Assyria and Babylonia, it was not customary for kings to place their defeats on record, nor did the chieftain or the soldier of fortune who after a period of internal dissensions succeeded in establishing himself as the founder of a new dynasty, care to take posterity into his confidence as to his origin and previous political career. Manetho, who, as a rule, does not seem to have been much better informed than we are, resorts in such cases to traditions, strongly tinted with legend, which were in the keeping of the priests and belonged, very likely, to the same stock as most of those related by Herodotus on matters that could not fall under his personal observation. Such traditions, until confirmed by the monuments, or at any rate purified of their legendary elements by comparison with them, must of course be kept in abeyance. For the present the royal names are almost all that we can regard as certain for several of the dynasties. Such is the case for the first two dynasties, which until about A.D. 1888 were considered by most scholars as entirely mythical. Their tombs, however, have since been discovered at ?õmm-el-Ga`ab, near Abydos, in the territory of the ancient This (Thins), and the names of Menes, Zer, Usaphais, and Miebis have already been found. A good many other kings of Manetho’s list cannot be identified with the owners of the tombs discovered, owing to the fact that, while Manetho gives only the proper names of the kings, the monuments contained, as a rule, nothing but their Horus names (Maspéro, “Histoire Ancienne”, 56 sq.). Monuments of these kings have been discovered in Upper Egypt and at Sakkarah, which shows that they must have ruled over the whole land of Egypt. The various articles found in these early royal tombs point to a high degree of civilization by no means inferior to that of the immediately following dynasties. Religion in general, and the funerary ritual in particular, were already fixed, and the hieroglyphic system of writing had reached its last stage of alphabetic development (Maspéro, loc. cit.; Breasted, “History of Ancient Egyptians”, 40 sqq.).
The history of Egypt can be divided into two large periods, the first of which comprises the first seventeen and the second the other thirteen dynasties. In current literature Dynasties Three to Eleven are often variously referred to as the Old Kingdom (ancien empire), Dynasties Twelve to Seventeen as the Middle Kingdom (moyen empire), Dynasties Eighteen to Twenty as the Empire (nouvel empire). The simpler division which we propose here seems to us more rational.
First Period: First to Seventeenth Dynasty.—During this period Egypt and the Asiatic empires never, so far as we know, came into contact, except possibly in a pacific and commercial way; their armies never met in battle. Some of the ancient Babylonian and Chaldean kings, like Sargon I (third millennium B.C.), may have occasionally extended their raids as far as the Mediterranean Sea, but it does not seem that they ever established their rule in a permanent way. They were fully occupied with the war waged among themselves, or with the Elamites who for centuries contended with Babylonia and Chaldea for supremacy in Western Asia. On their side the kings of Egypt had to secure their own borders (principally the southern) against the neighboring tribes, a necessity which led them, after many centuries of warfare, to the conquest of Nubia. As early as the reign of Pepi I (Sixth Dynasty) Nubia had been brought under control so far as to receive Egyptian colonies. Under the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty, chiefly under Usertasen III (the Sesostris of the Greeks), the conquest was achieved, and the valley of the Upper Nile as far as the Second Cataract was organized into an Egyptian province. The Libyans, also, and the tribes settled between the Nile and the Red Sea had to be repeatedly repelled or conquered. The brief records of such punitive expeditions, which appear on the Palermo Stone, attribute them to dates as early as the first two dynasties. Extensive commercial relations were maintained with the Syrian coast (whither King Snefrà, of the Third Dynasty, sent a fleet to procure cedar logs from Mount Lebanon), with the Upper Nile districts, with Arabia to the south, and with the Somali coast (Punt, Pàanit) to the east. Roads were built for this commerce between Coptos and different points on the Red Sea. The chief of these roads led through Wadi Hammamat (Rohanà or Rehenu Valley), the rich quarries of which were operated by the Egyptians from the time of the Fifth Dynasty; it furnished the niger, or Thebaicus, lapis, a hard dark stone which was used for statues and coffins. In Asia proper the pharaohs of that time sought no extension of territory, with the exception of a few points in the Peninsula of Sinai, where, as early as the First Dynasty, but especially since the time of Snefrà, they operated mines of copper and turquoise. As a rule on the northwest border they kept on the defensive against the raids of the nomadic tribes established in the Syrian desert and, like the modern bedouins, always ready for plunder. On that side the frontier was protected by a wall across the Wadi Tumilat and a line of forts extending from the Nile to the Red Sea. Occasionally the Egyptians resorted to counter-raids on the Syrian territory, as in the case of the Amus and Hiru?ùhaitus under Pepi I, but, the punishment inflicted, they invariably returned to their line of defense.
The seat of government during that first period was several times shifted from one city to another. Menes, before the union of the two kingdoms, very likely resided at This, in his native nome of Abydos, in Upper Egypt. Having succeeded in bringing Lower Egypt under his rule, he appropriately selected Memphis for the capital of the new kingdom, as being more central. During the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties, Heracleopolis, only a short distance south of Memphis, became the official seat of government, for no special known reason—perhaps simply because the pharaohs of the reigning dynasties had originally been natives and princes of these nomes. They were opposed by the princes of Thebes (Eleventh Dynasty) who finally (Twelfth Dynasty) succeeded in over-throwing them and selected their own city as capital. This radical change had the advantage of bringing Nubia within closer range, and it may have contributed substantially to the conquest of that province; but it weakened the northern border, which was now too far from the center of political life.
The pharaohs of the Thirteenth Dynasty (most of whom were called Sebek-hotep or Nofir-hotep), without abandoning Thebes, seem to have paid more attention than their predecessors to the cities of the Delta, where—at Tanis in particular—they occasionally resided, and it was from Xois (Sakha), a city of Lower Egypt, that the next following (Fourteenth) dynasty arose. It seems that the kings of that dynasty never succeeded in establishing a firm and lasting government. Their rapid succession on the throne and the famous invasion of the Hyksos which Manetho registers at that time, point to internal dissensions and a condition of affairs verging on anarchy. “At this time there came to us a king Timaeos by name. Under this king, God, why I do not know, sent an adverse wind to us, and against all likelihood from the parts of the East people of ignoble race, coming unexpectedly, invaded the country and conquered it easily and without battle.” This testimony contains contradictory elements. It is difficult to imagine how an invasion could result in a conquest unless it took place gradually and consequently not “unexpectedly”. The most probable interpretation of Manetho’s words seems to be: that the invaders came in peaceful quest of new homes, and not all in one body, though in comparatively large numbers at a time; that they first settled, with their flocks, in the rich pasture lands of the Delta, then, little by little, adapted themselves to the political life of the country, some succeeding in occupying important situations in the army or in the administration; that finally one of them, favored by the rivalries of competitors for the vacant throne, seized the reins of government and was recognized as king not only by the men of his own race, but also by quite a considerable party of the natives.
The identity of the Hyksos has been the subject of long discussions. Some, with De Cara, think they were the same as the Hittites, others (Baedeker, “Egypt”, p. lxxix) see in them simple Syrian Bedouins. The opinion which seems most probable and best agrees with the tradition preserved by Manetho, identifies them with the large Canaanitic family once settled in Lower Chaldea, along the Persian Gulf and the Arabian coast. According to Professor Maspéro (op. cit., 194 sqq.), it was the invasion of the lower Euphrates by the Elamites under Kudurnakhunte (2285 B.C.) that forced this family to migrate to the West in search of a new home. The seafaring tribes settled along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea to which they gave their name (Phoenicians, Gk., Phoinikes, Lat., Poeni; Egyptian Puanit, Punt; Bible, Phut). Others settled in the mountainous districts of Palestine (Canaan proper), where they resumed their nomadic life, and gradually developed into an agricultural race. Others, finally, shepherds also, probably prevented from taking a northern direction by the powerful and well-organized nation of the Hittites, turned to Egypt, where they settled as explained above. Manetho assigns to them three dynasties, the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth, of which only the Sixteenth held sway over all Egypt. During the Fifteenth Dynasty the princes of the southern homes, for a time at least, managed to retain a certain independence. They regained it under the Third Hyksos Dynasty, with which they share the honor of being recognized as the Seventeenth Dynasty. The last of them, Amosis, after a war of six years, finally succeeded in driving the intruders out of Egypt, pursuing the remnant of their army as far as Sharhuna (perhaps Sharukhen, Jos., xix, 6) in Southern Syria, where the last battle was fought and won by the Egyptians. From the monuments we know the names of at least four of the Hyksos kings, three of the name of Apophi and one Khian. An alabaster vase bearing the names of the last has been found under a wall of the palace of Cnossos in Crete, and a lion in Bagdad. Their capital seems to have been Avaris on the northeastern border of the Delta. Some think that their rule extended over Palestine and Southern Syria, which would explain the location of their capital. The usage of carrying on official correspondence with the local princes of Syria and Palestine in the Babylonian language and script possibly dates from the period of the Hyksos. Few of the monuments of the Hyksos have been preserved, enough of them, however, to show us that as a rule the Shepherd kings conformed to the ancient culture of Egypt, adopting its language, art, religion (cf. however, Maspéro, op. cit., 203), and political institutions. But they oppressed their Egyptian subjects, and posterity held their memory in abomination.
It is in the Hyksos period that we must place the arrival of the Israelites in Egypt. The migration of the Terachites from Ur in Chaldea may have coincided with, or at all events was posterior to, that of the great Canaanitic family. Although of different stock, the two families had long been thrown together in their former common home and spoke the same language; and this may partly explain the favor which the children of Israel found at the hands of an Egyptian ruler, himself of Canaanitic, or possibly of Semitic, origin. “The scarabs of a Pharaoh who evidently belonged to the Hyksos time give his name as Jacob-her or possibly Jacob-El, and it is not impossible”, remarks Professor Breasted, “that some chief of the Jacob-tribes of Israel for a time gained the leadership in this obscure age” (Hist. of Anc. Egypt, 181).
Second Period: Eighteenth to Thirtieth Dynasty.—The second period is chiefly characterized by the Asiatic victories of the pharaohs with which it opens, and by the repeated invasions of Egyptian territory by Asiatic powers, which was the reaction of those victories. During the first period Egypt could be great at home, within her natural borders along the Nile valley; every page of her history is her own. During the second period her greatness is in proportion to her conquests abroad on another continent; almost every page of her history belongs to the history of the world.
The first ambition of the kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty, inaugurated by Ahmosis (1580-1557 B.C.), was to secure their own borders against the Libyans, who had encroached upon the Delta curing the period of confusion preceding the expulsion of the Hyksos, and, against the Nubians, who had availed themselves of the same opportunity to shake off the yoke of Egyptian domination. The first point was achieved by Amenhotep I, the second by Thotmes I, whose two successive reigns lasted from 1557 to 1501 B.C. Not satisfied with recovering and reorganizing the ancient province of Nubia, Thotmes I pushed more than 400 miles farther south to Napata, below the Fourth Cataract, where the southern frontier of Egypt remained fixed for the next eight hundred years or so. Both Amenhotep I and Thotmes I, and perhaps Ahmosis, too, had already undertaken the conquest of Syria. But it was reserved for Thotmes III (1501-1447 B.C.) to complete it and to organize the conquered territory as a permanent dependency of Egypt. Circumstances were favorable. Both Assyria and Babylonia were in decline, and the powerful Hittites were restricted within their own borders beyond the Cilician Gates in Asia Minor. Nevertheless, the great confederation of the Canaanitic cities (perhaps to be identified with the Hyksos), backed by the Phoenician cities, the State, or States, of Naharin (from the Mediterranean to the bend of the Euphrates), and the Aryan kingdom of Mitanni (between the Euphrates and the Belik), was not an enemy to be despised, and it cost the army and fleet of the pharaoh no less than seventeen campaigns to achieve a permanent victory. The Kings of Assyria and Babylonia, and even the Hittites, sent presents which Thotmes took for tribute; but he does not seem to have invaded their territories; he probably never crossed the Belik nor the Cilician Gates, which mark the limits of the greatest extension of Egyptian control in Asia. The whole region conquered was organized as a simple tributary territory under the supervision of a governor general backed by Egyptian garrisons in the chief cities. The local rulers were otherwise left unmolested except in case of rebellion, when the punishment was prompt and severe in the extreme. Their sons were educated in Egypt, and were generally appointed to succeed them at their death. The administration of this territory, which included also the island of Cyprus, and was, like Nubia, the source of immense wealth to Egypt, gave rise to a considerable correspondence between suzerain and vassals. On the part of the latter it was written on clay tablets in the Babylonian language and characters—at that time the official language and characters of Western Asia. From that correspondence (so-called Tell-Amarna tablets) we learn that under Amenhotep IV (1375-1358 B.C.) the vigilance of the Egyptian court had considerably relaxed; the local dynasties were constantly and vainly asking for Egyptian troops against the encroachments of the Hittites and the Khabiri. This led, towards the end of the dynasty, to a complete loss of the Asiatic territory conquered by Thotmes III.
The Eighteenth Dynasty was an era of great international prosperity. With the single exception of Amenhotep IV, who allowed himself to be drawn into a scheme to reform the Egyptian religion, all its kings were wise and just rulers. They were also great builders, and devoted their vast resources in men—chiefly captives taken in war—in gold, and silver, derived from tribute, to the erection of magnificent temples and temple-like mortuary chapels, all of which they richly endowed. The reform attempted by Amenhotep IV consisted in proclaiming Aton (an old form of Re, or Ra, the sun-god of Heliopolis) the sole god, and in enforcing his worship at the expense of others, particularly that of Amon for which the priesthood of Thebes claimed precedence over the others. He ordered the word god, as applied to the other deities, to be chiselled out wherever it could be found on the temples and other monuments. He changed his own name to Ikhnaton, “ Spirit of Aton”, in honor of the new god, to whom he erected a temple at Thebes called Gem-Aton. Lastly, he changed his residence from Thebes to Akhetaton, “Horizon of Aton” (now El `Amarna), a city which he founded in a like spirit, and he also founded two other cities of the same name, each with a Gem-Aton temple, one in Nubia, at the foot of the Third Cataract (where it was discovered in 1907 by Professor Breasted), and another in Syria, the site of which is still unknown. This reform was violently opposed by the established priesthood, and the land was soon thrown into a state of general confusion verging on anarchy. The temples and cities dedicated to Aton were destroyed and abandoned soon after the royal reformer’s death.
Harmhab (1350-1315 B.C.), the founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty, was principally engaged in bringing the land out of the confusion into which it had fallen during the last years of the preceding dynasty, and restoring the temples of the ancient gods to their former splendor. Seti I (1313-1292) attempted to recover the Asiatic provinces lost by Amenhotep IV, but he does not seem to have pushed his advance farther than the Hauran and the southern slopes of Mount Lebanon. He probably did no more than skirmish with the Hittites, who were now in possession of the valley of the Orontes, and had occupied the strong post of Kadesh on that river; even his conquest of Palestine does not appear to have been permanent. At all events Seti’s son, Ramses II (1292-1225), had to begin all over again. After three years spent in recovering Palestine, Ramses finally succeeded in dislodging the Hittites from the valley of the Orontes. The war nevertheless continued some ten or eleven years longer without great results, the Hittites apparently returning to their former positions as soon as Ramses had retired to Egypt for the winter season; when the Hittites proposed to him a treaty of permanent peace and alliance, he gladly accepted it (1272 B.C.). This treaty, of which we have two Egyptian transcripts and a Hittite copy in the Babylonian language and character, does not stipulate anything with regard to the boundary between the two countries, which was, very likely, about the same as under Seti, save possibly on the coast, where it may have extended to the Nahr-el-Kelb as suggested by the presence of three stelae carved there on the rocks by Ramses. Thirteen years later the Hittite king visited Egypt on the occasion of the marriage of his eldest daughter with the pharaoh. Diplomatic unions of that kind had already taken place during the preceding dynasty. The treaty was faithfully observed by both parties, at least until the second year of Merneptah (1225-1215), the son and successor of Ramses II, when the Hittites seem to have taken part in an invasion of the Delta by the Libyans and various peoples of the northern Mediterranean, their allies.
Neither this, however, nor the disaffection which at the same time was rampant among his Asiatic vassals spurred Merneptah to new conquests. The Hittite war of Ramses II, it seems, had completely exhausted the military enterprise of Egypt. Her armies from that time keep to the defensive. Merneptah was satisfied to bring back Palestine to submission and defeat and drive out the Libyans—among whom the Tehenu tribe was prominent apparently because they were settled on the Egyptian border—and their allies, the Sherden (Sardinians), the Shekelesh (Sicilians?), the Ekwesh (Achaeans?), and the Lycians. But even these were considered great achievements, and the people sang:
The Kings are overthrown, saying: “Salam!”
Not one holds up his head among the nine nations of the bow.
Wasted is Tehenu,
The Hittite land is pacified,
Plundered is the Canaan, with every evil,
Carried off is Askalon,
Seized upon is Gezer,
Yenoam is made as a thing not existing,
Israel is desolated, her seed is not,
Palestine has become a [defenseless] widow for Egypt.
All lands are united, they are pacified,
Every one that is turbulent is bound by King Merneptah.
(Breasted, op. cit., 330; “Ancient Records of Egypt”, III, 603 sqq.) The situation at home was no brighter, and it became worse under Merneptah’s successors, Amenmeses, Memeptah-Siptah, and Seti II, until complete anarchy prevailed. Thrusting aside a host of less daring pretenders, a Syrian named Irisu (or Yerseu), who held an important position as head of one of the nomes, seized the power and for five years ruled the land in tyranny and violence. (Breasted, “Ancient Records of Egypt”, IV, § 398.) Thus ended the Nineteenth Dynasty.
Of Setnakht (1200-1198 B.C.), the founder of the following dynasty, we know little except that he was a strong man who succeeded in restoring order. His son, Ramses III (1198-1167), was confronted by very much the same situation as Merneptah some twenty-five years before, only a great deal more serious. The allies of the Libyans defeated by Merneptah were only the vanguard of a far more dreadful army of invasion. This was now approaching. It was followed at close range by motley hordes of immigrants from the islands and the northern shores of the Mediterranean, the “peoples of the sea”, as the Egyptians called them. Besides those already mentioned we find now the Peleset (Philistines) and the Denyen (Danaoi). Some of the invaders were coming by sea, along the coast, others by land. Ramses III showed himself equal to the occasion. Having defeated a first contingent who had already landed in the Delta and joined the Libyans, he sent a strong fleet to check the advance of the main body of the invaders’ ships and hastened by land, with his army, to Syria, where he expected to find the enemy. Both the land and the naval battles were fought in about the same region, for Ramses, having routed the land forces of the enemy, was in time to cooperate with the Egyptian fleet in defeating that of the invaders. This brilliant campaign stayed the advance of the immigrants who now came straggling along, settling here and there as vassals of Egypt, in Syria and in Palestine, where, later, one of their tribes, the Peleset, or Philistines, offered a stubborn resistance to the invasion of the Hebrews. On the other hand the great Hittite confederation had been very much weakened, if not entirely disintegrated, as a result of the invasion. Ramses III had to repel another invasion of the Libyans, impelled this time by the Meshwesh (the Maxyes of Herodotus), and shortly after he found it necessary to appear again with his army in Northern Palestine, where rebellion had broken out among some of his vassals. The boundary remained, probably, where it was under the Nineteenth Dynasty, including the whole course of the River Leontes (or Litany) and possibly a small portion of the upper Orontes, excluding Kadesh. Ramses III had no further trouble with his Asiatic vassals.
With the successors of Ramses III, nine weak pharaohs of the same name (Ramses IV—XII), national decay sets in. Egypt entirely loses her prestige abroad, particularly in Asia, where Assyria is expanding under Tiglath-Pileser I; at home everything is confusion. Priests, officials, and mercenaries, whose wealth and prerogatives have been steadily growing at the expense of both pharaoh and his people, now fight among themselves for the controlling political influence, the pharaoh being reduced to a mere puppet. Such a state of disorganization prevails everywhere that, in the necropolis of Thebes, in sight of the temple of Amon, where the high-priest is so powerful, the tombs of the pharaohs are desecrated and plundered by a gang of robbers, and the royal mummies despoiled of all their most costly ornaments.
At some period during the Nineteenth Dynasty the pharaohs had their capital at Tanis (San-el-Hagar) in the Delta, Thebes remaining the religious capital of the empire. There Ramses XII resided when a local noble, Nesubenebded, seized the power (1113 B.C.) and established himself as king over the Delta. The weak pharaoh retired to Thebes, where he was soon over-shadowed by Hrihor, the high-priest of Amon, who, when Ramses XII died as ingloriously as he had lived, was finally proclaimed supreme ruler of Egypt by an oracle of Khonsu followed by the approval of Amon (1090). Hrihor’s rule, in fact, never extended over Lower Egypt, and his independence was not even suspected by Manetho who, after Ramses XII, introduces the Twenty-first Dynasty, with Nesubenebded as its founder. The division between the two countries was to continue, save for short intervals, for about four hundred and fifty years. Thebes, however, rarely during that time enjoyed complete independence, and still more rarely ruled over the whole country. Her relations to the Delta were usually those of a vassal to a suzerain. Her influence was particularly felt in Nubia, whither descendants of Hrihor seem to have retired at an early period, eventually founding an independent kingdom at Napata. Confusion and disorder still prevailed all over the land. To save them from further desecration, the royal mummies had to be concealed in an old, and probably unused, tomb of Amenhotep I, near the temple of Deir el-Bahri, where they remained hidden until they were rifled some thirty-five years ago by the Arabs. Most of them are now at the Museum of Cairo. The capital of this dynasty was at Tanis. Its last king, Psibkhenno II, may be the pharaoh mentioned in III Kings, xi, 18; iii, 1; ix, 16 (see below). Assyria was then on the decline and we can best represent to ourselves David and Solomon as at least nominal vassals of Egypt.
Sheshonk (945-924), founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty, was a powerful mercenary prince, or chief of hired troops, of Heracleopolis, where his ancestors, of Libyan origin, had settled early in the Twenty-first Dynasty. In 945 B.C. he proclaimed himself king, establishing his residence at Bubastis, in the Delta. Sheshonk seems to have been an ambitious and energetic ruler. He certainly led a successful campaign in Palestine, perhaps the same mentioned in III Kings, xiv, 25 (cf. II Paralip., xii, 2 sqq.), where it is said that he came to Jerusalem in the fifth year of Roboam, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, although Jerusalem is not among the one hundred and fifty-six Palestinian cities recorded in his inscription. In Solomon‘s time Sheshonk had given hospitality to Jeroboam (III Kings, xi, 40). According to Professor Breasted (Ancient Egyptians, 362), Sheshonk is also to be identified with the pharaoh who gave his daughter as a wife to Solomon (III Kings, iii, 1) and later on conquered Gezer and turned it over to his daughter, Solomon‘s wife, as a dowry (III Kings, ix, 16) while Professor Maspéro (Hist. Anc., 416) refers these episodes and that of Hadad (III Kings, xi, 14 sqq.) to Psibkhenno II, the last king of the Twenty-first Dynasty. During the following reigns of this dynasty history records nothing but endless civil wars between the two principalities of Thebes and Heracleopolis, and feuds between the mercenary lords of the Delta. On the other hand, Assyria was more powerful than ever. Shalmaneser defeated, at Karkar on the Orontes, a Syrian coalition to which one of Sheshonk’s successors—probably Takelot II—had contributed one thousand men (854 B.C.). Under such circumstances Egypt’s influence in Palestine must have dwindled to nothing.
One of the Delta lords, Pedibast, at the death of Sheshonk IV, the last king of the Twenty-second Dynasty, succeeded in establishing a new dynasty, which Manetho places at Tanis, although Pedibast was of Bubastite origin. But neither he himself nor his successors could control the situation. Under his successor, Osorkon III, a dynast of Sais, Tefnakhte undertook to supplant him and the many other dynasts, several of whom were claiming the title and prerogatives of royalty. He had partly succeeded when Piankhi, ruler of the independent kingdom of Napata (see above), overran Egypt as far as the Mediterranean, obliging all the pretenders, Osorkon and Tefnakhte included, to recognize his suzerainty. But as soon as the invaders had withdrawn, Tefnakhte resumed his designs and was eventually successful in subduing Osorkon, who acknowledged himself his vassal. (We must refer to this period the King of Egypt mentioned in IV Kings, xvii, 4, as inciting Osee of Samaria to rebel against Shalmanaser IV.) Tefnakhte’s son Bochoris, however, was regarded as the founder of a new dynasty, his father, probably, having died before Osorkon. Scarcely had he reigned six years when Shabaka, Piankhi’s brother, invaded Egypt in his turn, and so firmly did he intrench himself there that he became the founder of the Twenty-fifth, or Ethiopian, Dynasty. Unfortunately for him and his successors, Assyria, having absorbed all the principal states of Syria and Palestine, and holding the others well under control, was now threatening to invade the territory of Egypt. Shabaka, alive to the danger, formed an alliance with Philistia, Juda, Moab, Edom, and Tyre, against Sennacherib, and sent to Syria an army under the command of his nephew Taharka (cf. IV Kings, xix, 9, where Taharka is called King of Ethiopia). The allies were completely defeated, and Sennacherib was beleaguering Jerusalem, which alone, so far, with Tyre, had resisted him, when, to use the words of the Bible, “an angel of the Lord came, and slew in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty-five thousand. And when he arose early in the morning, he saw all the bodies of the dead. And Sennacherib king of the Assyrians departing went away, and he returned and abode in Ninive” (IV Kings, xix, 35, 36). But the power of Assyria was not broken for all that, although Taharka, who was now reigning, might have believed it when, twenty-seven years later, he succeeded in repelling Esar-haddon, of which repulse he made great display on the pedestal of a statue of his, drawing on the lists left by Ramses II of Asiatic captured cities to swell his own victory. In 670 the Assyrians appeared again, more formidable than ever, defeated Taharka, captured Memphis, and withdrew after having organized at least Lower Egypt into an Assyrian dependency. Among the princes who hastened to do homage to the King of Assyria the first place is given to Necho of Sais, a descendant of Tefnakhte through Bochoris. Taharka had fled to the south, where he raised fresh troops, and marched on Lower Egypt hoping to recover the lost provinces, but with no other result than to bring back the Assyrians, who routed him again and pursued him almost as far as Thebes (668 B.C.). The reigning family of the Delta, who had sided with him, were sent to Nineveh in chains. Necho was one of them, but he knew how to ingratiate himself with Assurbanipal, who restored him to his Kingdom of Sais. Tanutamon, having succeeded his father Taharka (663 B.C.), undertook in his turn the recovery of Lower Egypt, but with no better success. This time Assurbanipal’s army pursued the enemy to Thebes, which was sacked and plundered.
Psamtik, son of Necho, took advantage of the struggle in which his protector, Assurbanipal, had now become involved with Babylonia to free himself from the Assyrian allegiance. He succeeded in suppressing practically all of the mercenary lords and local dynasties, repaired the long-neglected irrigation system, and gave a strong impulse to commerce. The Twenty-sixth Dynasty, which he introduces, was, as a whole, a period of restoration and great internal prosperity. It was also a period of renascence in art, religion, and literature, marked by a return to archaic traditions. Industrial art flourished as never before. The army was reorganized and strengthened with large contingents of Greek mercenaries, the Libyans having lost their efficiency in becoming Egyptianized. Psamtik does not seem to have made much use of the army, but Necho and his successors could not refrain from interfering with the affairs of Asia. The temptation was great. During the long reign of Psamtik I Assyria had been constantly declining. In 609 he was succeeded by his son Necho, and three years later Nineveh was finally captured, and Assyria had come to an end forever. Necho thought this a favorable chance to recover the old Asiatic possessions of Egypt, and marched on Carchemish (cf. II Paralip., xxxv, 20; Jerem., xlvi, 7-9). At Magiddo the King of Juda, Josias, who foolishly persisted in disputing his passage, was routed and mortally wounded (II Para-lip., xxxv, 22). This incident brought Necho to Jerusalem, where he deposed Joahaz, the successor of Josias, and put in his place his brother Eliakim, changing his name to Jehoiakim. As for Joahaz, he took him to Egypt (II Paralip., xxxvi, 1-4; cf. IV Kings, xxiii, 29-34). Hearing of Necho’s conquest, Nabopolassar, to whom that country had fallen in the division of Assyria‘s possessions, sent his son Nebuchadnezzar (Nabuchodonosor) to check his advance. Necho was so completely defeated at Carchemish (605 B.C.) that he did not dare to make another stand, and retreated to Egypt; “And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his own country: for the king of Babylon had taken all that had belonged to the king of Egypt, from the river of Egypt, unto the river Euphrates” (IV Kings, xxiv, 7). Apries (588-569 B.C.), Necho’s second successor, was not more fortunate in a similar attempt. Zedekiah had sent to him for assistance against Nebuchadnezzar (Ezech., xvii, 15), but Apries either retired without fighting (Jerem., xxxvii, 6) or was defeated (Josephus, Antiq. Jud., X, vii, §3), and Jerusalem was captured, and her temple destroyed (587 B.C.). When, however, the remnant of the Jews fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them, Apries received them and allowed them to settle in different cities of the Delta, at Memphis, and in Upper Egypt (Jer., xli, 17-18; xliv, 1).—Such, very likely, was the origin of the Jewish colony established in the island of Elephantine “before Cambyses”, as related in the Judaeo-Aramaic papyri recently discovered there (see below, under Twenty-seventh Dynasty). Later, probably after Tyre had finally surrendered to the Chaldeans (574), Apries successfully carried out a naval expedition against Phoenicia (Masp., Hist. anc., 639; Breasted, Hist. of the Anc. Egypt., 409, places that expedition in 587 B.C.).
The reverses of Necho and Apries in Asia did not affect the prosperity of Egypt during the reign of these two pharaohs, any more than did the rivalry of one of his officials, Amasis, whom Apries had sent to repress a mutiny of the Egyptian native troops, and who was proclaimed king by them. Apries and Amasis reigned together for some time, and when, a conflict having arisen between the two, Apries was defeated and slain, Amasis gave him an honorable burial. Strange to say, Amasis, who had been the champion of the native element as against the Greeks, now favored the latter far more than any of his predecessors. He founded for them the city of Naucratis, in the Delta, as a home and market, and they soon made it the most important commercial center of Egypt. The foreign policy of Amasis, as a rule, was one of prudence; his only conquest was Cyprus, over which, since the days of Thotmes III, Egypt had often exercised suzerainty. He made, however, one fatal mistake: he joined the abortive league formed by Croesus, King of Lydia, against Cyrus, and, although he afterwards carefully avoided crossing the path of the Persian conqueror, the latter’s son, Cambyses, taking the will for the deed, did not fail to resent his past inclinations.
Cambyses invaded Egypt in 525 B.C., shortly after Psamtik III had succeeded his father. The pharaoh was put to death under cruel circumstances, the tomb of Amasis was violated, his mummy burnt to ashes, and a Persian governor was appointed. Otherwise Cambyses did all he could to conciliate his Egyptian subjects. He assumed the traditional pharaonic titles and ceremonial, and caused himself to be initiated in the mysteries of the goddess Neit. He made good the damages sustained by the temples during the conquest, led an unsuccessful expedition against the oases of the Libyan desert, and was not much happier in a campaign against the independent Kingdom of Napata. Embittered by these reverses, he departed, in later years, from his former conciliatory policy, and committed sacrilegious acts which exasperated the people against him. Darius I (521-486) completed the canal begun by Necho between the Nile and the Red Sea. He reopened the road from Keft (Coptos) to the Red Sea, garrisoned the oases, and otherwise furthered the prosperity and security of Egypt. In his reorganization of the Persian Empire, which he divided into a number of governments under a central administration, Egypt, with Cyrene, Barca, and Lower Nubia, formed the sixth government, or satrapy. This, however, affected only the garrisoned cities and their respective territories. Elsewhere the old feudal organization was left untouched, and from time to time the local princes availed themselves of their semi-independence to rebel.
After the battle of Marathon (487) the Egyptians revolted and expelled the Persians. But in the following year Achemenes, who had just been appointed satrap by his brother Xerxes I (486-465), brought them back to submission. Of a far more serious character was the insurrection which broke out in 463 under Artaxerxes I (465-425), and which was not quelled until its leader, Inaros (of the house of Psamtik), aided by the Athenians, had routed two successive Persian armies (454). Under Darius II the power of the Persians began to decline. The weakness of their administration at that time is attested by the Judaeo-Aramaic papyri recently discovered at Elephantine. From these documents we learn that, while the provincial governor was absent, the commander of the garrison of Syene had been bribed by the Egyptian priests of Chnàb (Chnàm) to plunder and destroy the temple of the Jewish colony of Elephantine. The culprits, it seems, were put to death by the Persian authorities, yet, when the victims applied for a permission to rebuild their temple, their request was granted only on the condition that they should not in future offer up bloody sacrifices—a concession, evidently, to the priests of Chnàb, who probably objected to the slaughtering of the ram, an animal sacred to their god. The little colony, we may well suppose, did not long enjoy its curtailed privileges; it very probably succumbed to Egyptian fanaticism during the two following dynasties (Stähelin, “Israel in Aegypten nach neugefundenen Urkunden”, 14 sqq.).
Finally, in 404 B.C., the last year of Darius II (424-404) and first year of Artaxerxes II (404-362), a certain Amyrtaeos of Saitic birth succeeded in proclaiming Egypt’s independence. His six years of reign constitute the Twenty-eighth Dynasty. The Twenty-ninth Dynasty (Mendesian), comprising the reigns of Nepherites, Achoris, and Psammuthis, who took an active part in the wars of Greece against Artaxerxes II, lasted twenty years. The Thirtieth Dynasty (Sebennytic) began with Nectanebo I (378-361), who successfully repelled the Persians. Tachos (360-359), his successor, attempted to invade the Syrian territory, but, as a result of rivalries and dissensions between himself and his namesake Tachos, whom he had appointed as regent, he was supplanted by Nectanebo II (358-342), a cousin of Tachos the regent, and took refuge with Artaxerxes II, at whose court he died. Nectanebo II was at first successful in repelling the attack of Artaxerxes III (Ochus—362-338); later, however, he was defeated, and the Persians once more became masters of Egypt (341). The king fled to Ethiopia, and the temples were plundered. It was then that Egypt lost forever the right of being governed by rulers of her own.
III. Ancient EGYPTIAN RELIGION.—God and man, those two essential terms of every religion, are but imperfectly reflected in the Egyptian religious monuments. A book similar in scope to our Bible certainly never existed in Egypt, and if their different theological schools, or the priests of some particular theological school, ever agreed on certain truths about God and man, which they consigned to official didactic writings, such writings have not reached us. Nor is the vast body of religious monuments bequeathed to us by ancient Egypt of such a nature as to compensate for this lack of positive and systematic information. The figured and inscribed monuments discovered in the temples, and especially in the tombs, acquaint us with the names and external aspects of numerous deities, with the material side of the funerary rites, from which we may safely conclude that they admitted the dependency of man on superior beings, and a certain survival of man after death. But as to the essence of those gods, their relation to the world and man as expressed by the worship of which they were the objects, the significance and symbolism of the rites of the dead, the nature of the surviving principle in man, the nature and modes of the survival itself as depending on earthly life, and the like, the monuments are either silent about or offer us such contradictory and incongruous notions that we are forced to conclude that the Egyptians never evolved a clear and complete system of religious views. What light can be brought out of this chaos we shall concentrate on two chief points:
The Pantheon, corresponding to the term God; and
(a) The Egyptian Pantheon.—By this word we understand such gods as were officially worshipped in one or more of the various nomes, or in the country at large. We exclude, therefore, the multitude of daemons or spirits which animated almost everything man came in contact with—stones, plants, animals—and the lesser deities which presided over every stage of human life—birth, naming, etc. The worship they received was of an entirely local and private nature, and we know almost nothing of it.
Each nome had its own chief deity or divine lord, male or female, apparently inherited from the ancient tribes. With each deity an animal, as a rule, but sometimes also a tree or mineral, was associated. Thus Osiris of Busiris was associated with a pillar, or the trunk of a tree; Hathor of Denderah, with a sycamore; Osiris of Mendes, with a goat; Set of Tanis, with an ass; Buto of the city of the same name, with a serpent; Bast of Bubastis, with a cat; Atàm, or Tàn, of Heliopolis, with a serpent, a lion, or possibly, later the bull Mnevis; Ptah of Memphis, with the bull Apis; Sovek, in the Fayàm and at Ombos (Kôm Ombo), with a crocodile; Anubis of Assiàt, with a jackal; Thoth of Hermopolis, with an ibis or a baboon; Amon of Thebes, and Chnàm, at the Cataract, with a ram; Horus of el-Kab and Edfu, with a hawk. According to some scholars, this association at first was merely symbolical; it was not till the Nineteenth Dynasty that sacred animals, having gradually come to be considered as incarnations, or at least as dwelling-places, of the various gods, began to be worshipped as gods (Breasted, “Hist. Anc. Egypt.”, 59, 324). But this view, once quite common, is now generally abandoned, and fetishistic animal-worship is now considered as the true basis of the Egyptian religion [cf. Chantepie de la Saussaye, “Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte” (1905), I, 194 sqq.]. In any case the origin of the association of certain animals with certain gods, whether symbolical or not, is unknown; as a rule, the same may be said of the various attributes of the various gods or goddesses. We understand that Thoth, being a lunar god, could have been considered the god of time, computation, letters, and science (although we do not know how, being associated with the ibis or a baboon, he became a lunar god); but we do not see why the ram-god Chnàm should have been represented as a potter, nor why the cow-goddess, Hathor, and the cat-goddess, Bast, were identified with beauty, joy, and love, while the lioness-deity, Sekhmet, was the goddess of war, and Neith was identified both with war and with weaving. The names of the gods, as a rule, give no clue. At an early date the crude primitive fetishism was somewhat mitigated, when the deities were supposed to reside in statues combining human figures with animal heads.
Triads.—In other respects gods and goddesses were imagined to be very much like men and women; they ate, drank, married, begat children, and died. Each nome, besides its chief god or goddess, had at least two secondary deities, the one playing the part of a wife or husband to the chief deity, the other that of a son. Thus, in Thebes the group of Amon, Màt (or Ament), and Chons; in Memphis the group of Ptah, Sekhmet, and Nefertem; etc. Sometimes the triad consisted of one god and two goddesses, as at Elephantine, or even of three male deities. Those groups were probably first obtained by the fusion of several religious centers into one, the number three being suggested by the human family, or possibly by the family triad Osiris, Isis, and Horus, of the Osiris cycle. In some cases the second element was a mere grammatical duplicate of the first, as Ament, wife of Amen (Amon), and was considered as one with it; it was then natural to identify the son with his parents, and so arose the concept of one god in three forms. There was in this a germ of monotheism. It is doubtful, however, whether it would ever have developed beyond the limits of henotheism but for the solar religion which seems to have sprung into existence towards the dawn of the dynastic times, very likely under the influence of the school of Heliopolis. But before we turn to this new phase of the Egyptian religion, we must consider another aspect of the ancient gods which may have furnished the first basis of unification of the various local worships.
The Gods of the Dead.—Gods, being fancied like men, were, like them, subject to death, the great leveller. Each community had the mummy of its god. But in the case of gods, as in that of men, death was not the cessation of all life. With the assistance of magical devices the dead god was simply transferred to another world, where he was still the god of the departed who had been his devotees on earth. Hence two forms of the same god, frequently under two different names which eventually led to the conception of distinct gods of the dead. Such were Chent-Ament, the first of the Westerners (the dead) at Abydos, Sokar (or Seker), probably a form of Ptah, at Memphis. Sometimes, however, the god of the dead retained the name he had before, as Anubis at Assiut, Khonyu at Thebes, and Osiris, wherever he began to be known as such.
Legend of Osiris.—Each of these gods had his own legend. Osiris was the last god who reigned upon the earth, and he was a wise and good king. But his brother Set was a wicked god and killed Osiris, cutting his body into fragments, which he scattered all over the land. Isis, sister and wife of Osiris, collected the fragments, put them together, and embalmed them, with the assistance of her son Horus, Anubis (here, perhaps, a substitute for Set, who does not seem to have been originally conceived as his brother’s slayer), and Nephthys, Set’s wife. Isis then, through her magical art, revives her husband who becomes king of the dead, while Horus defeats Set and reigns on the earth in his father’s place. According to another version, Qeb, father of Osiris, and Set put an end to the strife by dividing the land between the two competitors, giving the South to Horus and the North to Set.
Sidereal and Elemental Gods.—It is generally conceded that some of the local gods had a sidereal or elemental character. Horus, of Edfu and el-Kb (Ilithyaspolis), and Anher, of This, represented one or other aspect of the sun. Thoth of Hermopolis and Khonsu of Thebes were lunar gods. Min, of Akhmim (Chemmis) and Coptos, represented the cultivable land and Set, of Ombos (near Nakadeh), the desert. Hapi was the Nile, Hathor the vault of heaven. In some cases this sidereal or elemental aspect of the local gods may be primitive, especially among the tribes of Asiatic origin; but in other cases it may be of later date and due to the influence of the solar religion of Re, which, as we have already said, came into prominence, if not into existence, during the early dynastic times.
Solar Gods, Re or Ra.—That Re was such a local god representing the sun, is generally taken for granted although by no means proven. We cannot assign him to any locality not furnished with another god of its own. We never find him, like the vast majority of the local gods, associated with a sacred animal, nor is he ever represented with a human figure, except as a substitute for Atàm, or as identified with Horus or some other god. His only representative among men is the pharaoh, who in the earliest dynastic monuments appears as his son. Finally, it is difficult to understand how the kings of the southern kingdom, after having extended their rule to the north, should have given up their own patron god, Horus, for a local deity of the conquered land. It looks as if the worship of Re had been inaugurated some time after the reunion of the two lands, and possibly for political reasons. At all events, the solar religion soon became very popular, and it may be said that to the end it remained the state religion of Egypt. Re, like the other gods, had his legend—or rather myth—excogitated by the theological school of Heliopolis in connection with the cosmogonic system of the same school. He had created the world and was king over the earth. In course of time the mortals rebelled against him because he was too old, whereupon he ordered their destruction by the goddess of war, but on the presentation of 7000 jars of human blood he was satisfied and decided to spare men. Tired of living among them, he took his flight to heaven, where, standing in his sacred bark, he sails on the celestial ocean. The fixed stars and the planets are so many gods who play the parts of pilot, steersman, and oarsmen. Re rises in the east, conquers the old foe (darkness), spreads light, life, wealth, and joy on all sides, and receives everywhere the applause of gods and men; but now he comes to the western horizon, where, behind Abydos, through an enormous crevice, the celestial waters rush down to the lower hemisphere. The sacred bark follows the eternal river and, unretarded, the god passes slowly through the kingdom of night, conquering his foes, solacing his faithful worshippers, only, however, to renew his course over the upper hemisphere, as bright, as vivifying, as beautiful as ever. Soon each phase of the sun’s course received a special name and gradually developed into a distinct god; thus we find Harpochrates (Horus’s Child) representing morning sun; Atàm, the evening sun; Re, the noon sun; while Harmakhuti (Horus on the two horizons—Harmachis, supposed to be represented by the great Sphinx) is both the rising and the setting sun.
Cosmogony and Enneads.—Different cosmogonic systems were excogitated at a very early date (some of them, possibly, before the dynastic times) by the various theological schools, principally by the School of Heliopolis. Unfortunately, none of these systems seem to have been handed down in the primitive form. According to one of the versions of the Heliopolitan cosmogony, the principle of all things is the god Nàn, the primordial ocean, in which Atàm, the god of light, lay hidden and alone until he decided to create the world. He begat all by himself Shu, the atmosphere, and Tefnàt, the dew. In their turn Shu and Tefnàt begat Qeb, the earth, and Nàt, the vault of heaven. These two were lying asleep in mutual embrace in the Nàn, when Shu, stealing between them, raised Nàt on high. The world was formed, and the sun could begin its daily course across the heavens. Qeb and Nàt begat Osiris, the cultivable land and the Nile united in one concept, Set the desert, and the two sisters Isis and Nephthys. To this first ennead, of which Tàm (later supplanted by Re) appears as the head, two others were added, the first of which began with Horns, as son of Osiris and Isis. The three enneads constituted as many dynasties of gods, or demi-gods, who reigned on the earth in predynastic times. We have seen above that the third of these dynasties, called “the shades” (nekues) by Manetho, represents the predynastic kings mentioned on the Palermo Stone. The Heliopolitan Ennead became very popular, and every religious center was now ambitious to have a similar one, the same gods and order being generally retained, except that the local deity invariably appeared at the head of the combination.
It has long been customary to assert that in Egypt human life was compared to the course of the sun, and that Osiris was nothing but the sun considered as dead. It is far more correct, however, to say, with Professor Maspéro [Revue de l’histoire des religions (1887), XV, 307 sqq.], that the course of the sun was compared to that of human life. Osiris is not a sun that has set, but the sun that has set is an Osiris; this is so true that when the sun reappears on the eastern horizon, he is represented as the youth, Horus, son of Osiris.
The great prominence given to Re and Osiris by the Heliopolitan School of theology not only raised the Egyptian belief to a higher plane, but brought about a certain unification of it—a consolidation, so to speak, of the local worships. Naturally, the local gods retained their original external appearance, but they were now clothed with the attributions of the new Heliopolitan deity, Re, and were slowly identified with him. Every god became now a sun-god under some aspect; and in some cases the name of the Heliopolitan god was added to the name of the local god, as Sobek-Re, Chnàm-Re, Ammon-Re. It was a step towards monotheism, or at any rate towards a national henotheism. This tendency must have been encouraged by the pharaohs in their capacity rather of political than of religious rulers of the nation. There could be no perfect and lasting political unity as long as the various nomes retained their individual gods.
It is significant that in the only two periods when the pharaohs seem to have had absolute political control of Egypt—viz. from the Fourth to the Fifth and from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasty—the systems of Re, in the former period, and his Theban form, Ammon-Re, in the latter period, come clearly to the front, while the local religious systems fall into the background. These, however, though they were no more than tolerated, seemed to constitute a menace to political unity. The effort of Amenhotep IV to intro-duce the cult of his only god, Aton (see above, in Dynastic History; Second Period), was perhaps not prompted exclusively by a religious ideal, as is generally believed. A similar attempt in favor of Re and his ennead was perhaps made by the Memphite kings. From Khafre, second king of the fourth dynasty, to the end of the sixth dynasty, the word Re is a part of the name of almost every one of those kings, and the monuments show that during that period numerous temples were erected to the chief of the Heliopolitan Ennead in the neighboring nomes. Such encroachments of the official religion on the local forms of worship may have caused the disturbances which marked the passage from the fifth to the sixth dynasty and the end of the latter. That such disturbances were not of a merely political nature is clear in the light of the well-known facts that the royal tombs and the temples of that period were violated and pillaged, if not destroyed, and that the mortuary statues of several kings, those of Khafre in particular, were found, shattered into fragments, at the bottom of a pit near these pyramids. Evidently, those devout “sons of Re” were not in the odor of sanctity with some of the Egyptian priests, and the imputation of impiety brought against them, as recorded by Herodotus (II, 127, 128; cf. Diodorus Siculus, I, 14), may not have been quite as baseless as is assumed by some modern scholars (Maspéro, Histoire Ancienne, pp. 76 sq.).
If the foregoing sketch of the Egyptian religion is somewhat obscure, or even produces a self-contradictory effect, this may perhaps be attributed to the fact that the extremely remote periods considered (mostly, in fact, prehistoric) are known to us from monuments of later date, where they are reflected in superimposed outlines, comparable to a series of pictures of one person at different stages of life, and in different attitudes and garbs, taken successively on the same photographic plate. The Egyptians were a most conservative people; like other peoples, they were open to new religious concepts, and accepted them, but they never got rid of the older ones, no matter how much the older might conflict with the newer. However, if the writer is not mistaken, two prominent features of their religion are sufficiently clear: first, animal fetishism from beginning to end in a more or less mitigated form; secondly, superposition, during the early Memphite dynasties, of the sun-worship, the sun being considered not as creator, but as organizer of the world, from an eternally pre-existing matter, perhaps the forerunner of the demiurge of the Alexandrine School.
(b) The Future Life.—As early as the predynastic times the Egyptians believed that man was survived in death by a certain principle of life corresponding to our soul. The nature of this principle, and the condi tions on which its survival depended, are illustrated by the monuments of the early dynasties. It was called the ka of the departed, and was imagined as a counterpart of the body it had animated, being of the same sex, remaining throughout its existence of the same age as at the time of death, and having the same needs and wants as the departed had in his lifetime. It endured as long as the body, hence the paramount importance the Egyptians attached to the preservation of the bodies of their dead. They generally buried them in ordinary graves, but always in the dry sand of the desert, where moisture could not affect them; among the higher classes, to whom the privilege of being embalmed was at first restricted, the mummy was sealed in a stone coffin and deposited in a carefully concealed rock-excavation over which a tomb was built. Hence, also, the presence in the tombs of lifelike statues of the deceased to which the ka might cling, should the mummy happen to meet destruction. But the ka could also die of hunger or thirst, and for this reason food and drink were left with the body at the time of the burial, fresh supplies being deposited from time to time on the top of the grave, or at the entrance of the tomb. The ka, or “double”, as this word is generally interpreted, is confined to the grave or tomb, often called “the house of the ka'”. There near the body, it now lives alone in darkness as once, in union with the body, it lived in the sunny world. Toilet articles, weapons against possible enemies, amulets against serpents, are also left in the tomb, together with magic texts and a magic wand which enable it to make use of these necessaries.
Along with the ka, the earliest texts mention other surviving principles of a less material nature, the ba and the khu. Like the ka, the ba resides in the body during man’s life, but after death it is free to wander where it pleases. It was conceived as a bird, and is often represented as such, with a human head. The khu is luminous; it is a spark of the divine intelligence. According to some Egyptologists, it is a mere transformation which the ba undergoes when, in the here-after, it is found to have been pure and just during lifetime; it is then admitted to the society of the gods; according to others, it is a distinct element residing in the ba. Simultaneously with the concepts of the ba and the khu, the Egyptians developed the concept of a common abode for the departed souls, not unlike the Hades of the Greeks. But their views varied very much, both as to the location of that Hades and as to its nature. It is very likely that, originally, every god of the dead had ‘a Hades of his own; but, as those gods were gradually either identified with Osiris or brought into his cycle as secondary infernal deities, the various local concepts of the region of the dead were ultimately merged into the Osirian concept. According to Professor Maspéro, the kingdom of Osiris was first thought to be located in one of the islands of the Northern Delta whither cultivation had not yet extended. But when the sun in its course through the night had become identified with Osiris, the realm of the dead was shifted to the region traversed by the sun during the night, wherever that region might be, whether under the earth, as more commonly accepted, or in the far west, in the desert, on the same plane with the world of the living, or in the northeastern heavens beyond the great sea that surrounds the earth.
As the location, so does the nature of the Osirian Hades seem to have varied with the different schools; and here, unfortunately, as in the case of the Egyptian pantheon, the monuments exhibit different views superimposed on one another. We seem, however, to discern two traditions which we might call the pure Osiris and the re-Osiris traditions. According to the former tradition the aspiration of all the departed is to be identified with Osiris, and live with him in his kingdom of the Earu, or Yalu, fields—such a paradise as the Egyptian peasant could fancy. There ploughing and reaping are carried on as upon the earth, but with hardly any labor, and the land is so well irrigated by the many branches of another Nile that wheat grows seven ells. All men are equal; all have to answer the call for work without distinction of former rank. Kings and grandees, however, can be spared that light burden by having ushebtis (respondents) placed with them in their tombs. These ushebtis were small statuettes with a magic text which enabled them to impersonate the deceased and answer the call for him.
To procure the admission of the deceased into this realm of happiness his family and friends had to perform over him the same rites as were performed over Osiris by Isis, Nephthys, Horus, and Anubis. Those rites consisted mostly of magical formulae and incantations. The mummification of the body was considered an important condition, as Osiris was supposed to have been mummified. It seems, also, that in the beginning at least, the Osirian doctrine demanded a certain dismemberment of the body previous to all further rites, as the body of Osiris had been dismembered by Set. Possibly, also, this took place in the pre-dynastic times, when the bodies of the dead appear to have been intentionally dismembered and then put together again for burial (Chantepie de la Saussaye, op. cit., I, 214). At all events Diodorus narrates that the surgeon who made the first incision on the body previous to the removal of the viscera had to take to flight immediately after having accomplished his duty, while the mob pretended to drive him away with stones (Diodorus Siculus, I, 91), as though he impersonated Set. This custom, however, of dismembering bodies may be older than the Osirian doctrine, and may explain it rather than be explained from it (Chantepie de la Saussaye, op. cit., I, 220). When all the rites had been duly performed the deceased was pronounced Osiris so-and-so—he had been identified with the god Osiris. He could now proceed to the edge of the great river beyond which are the Earu fields. Turn-face, the ferryman, would carry him across, unless the four sons of Horus would bring him a craft to float over, or the hawk of Horus, or the ibis of Thoth, would condescend to transport him on its pinions to his destination. Such were, during the Memphite dynasties, the conditions on which the departed soul obtained eternal felicity; they were based nn ritual rather than on moral purity. It seems, however, that already at that time some texts show the deceased declaring himself, or being pronounced, free of certain sins. In any case, under the twelfth dynasty the deceased was regularly tried before being allowed to pass across the waters. He is represented appearing before Osiris, surrounded by forty-two judges. His heart is weighed on scales by Horus and Anubis, over against a feather, a symbol of justice, while Thoth registers the result of the operation. In the meantime the deceased recites a catalogue of forty-two sins (so-called “negative confession”) of which he is innocent. Between the scales and Osiris there is what seems to be a female hippopotamus, appearing ready to devour the guilty souls; but there was no great danger of falling into her jaws, as the embalmers had been careful to remove the heart and replace it by a stone scarab inscribed with a magical spell which prevented the heart from testifying against the deceased. The concept of retribution implied by the judgment very likely originated with the School of Abydos [see Maspéro, “Revue de l’histoire des religions” (1887), XV, 308 sqq.].
According to another tradition, which is represented along with the foregoing in the Pyramid Texts, the deceased is ultimately identified not with Osiris himself, but with Re identified with Osiris and his son Horus. His destination is the bark of Re on the eastern horizon, whither he is transported by the same ferryman Turn-face. Once on the sacred bark, the deceased may bid defiance to all dangers and enemies, he enjoys absolute and perfect felicity, leaves the kingdom of re-Osiris, and follows re-Horus across the heavens into the region of the living gods. The same concept was resumed by the Theban School. An important variant of this re-Osiris tradition is to be found in two books due to the Theban Ammon-Re School of theology, the “Book of what there is in the Duat” (Hades) and the “Book of the Gates”. In both compositions the course of Re in the region of darkness is divided into twelve sections corresponding to the twelve hours of night, but in the latter book each section is separated by a gate guarded by gigantic serpents. Some of these sections are presided over by the old gods of the dead, Sokar and Osiris, with their faithful subjects. The principal features of these two books is the concept of a retribution which we now meet clearly expressed for the first time. While the innocent soul, after a series of transformations, reaches at last, on the extreme limit of the lower world, the bark of Re, where it joins the happy crowd of the gods, the criminal one is submitted to various tortures and finally annihilated (see, however, below under IV).
IV. LITERARY MONUMENTS OF Ancient EGYPT.—The earliest specimens of Egyptian literature are the so-called Pyramid Texts engraved on the walls of the halls and rooms of the pyramids of Unis (Fifth Dynasty) and Teti II, Pepi I, Mernere, and Pepi II (Sixth Dynasty). They represent two ancient rituals of the dead, the older of which, as is generally conceded, antedates the dynastic times. The texts corresponding to this one are mostly incantations and magic prayers supposed to protect the deceased against serpents and scorpions, hunger and thirst, and old age. The gods are made to transmit to the deceased the offerings deposited in the tomb; nay, these offerings are so placed in his power that he positively eats and digests them, thus assimilating their strength and other desirable qualities. In these last two features Professor Maspéro sees an indication that although the concept of the ba had already been superposed on that of the ka, when that ritual first came into existence, yet anthropophagical sacrifices, if no longer in use, were still fresh in the memory of the Egyptians. This high, probably predynastic, antiquity is confirmed by peculiarities of language and orthography, which in more than one case seem to have puzzled the copyists of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties [Maspéro, in “Revue de l’hist. des religions”, XII (1885), pp. 125 sqq.]. The other ritual represented in the Pyramid Texts is the Book of Funerals, known already in several recensions and published by Professor E. Schiaparelli (Il libro de’ funerali degli Antichi Egiziani, Rome, 1881-2). It is supposed to be the repetition of the rites by which Isis and Horus had animated the mummy of Osiris with the life he had as god of the dead. The principal ceremony consisted in the opening of the mouth and eyes of the mummy, so that the deceased, in his second life, could enjoy the mortuary offerings and guide and express himself in the next world. For the details of this exceedingly interesting ritual we refer the reader to the excellent analysis of Professor Maspéro in the “Revue de l’Histoire des Religions” [XV (1887), 158 sqq.]. These two books were very popular with the Egyptians down to the end of the Ptolemaic times, especially the second one, which is profusely illustrated in the tomb of Seti I.
The Book of the Dead.—Next in antiquity comes the Book of the Dead, the most widely known monument of Egyptian literature. Numerous copies of it are to be found in all the principal museums of Europe. It may be best described as a general illustrated guidebook of the departed soul in Amenti (the Region of the West). There, whatever his belief as to the survival of man in the hereafter, or the location and nature of the region of the dead, the deceased found what he had to do to be admitted, what ordeals he would have to undergo before reaching his destination, what spirits and genii he would have to propitiate, and how to come out of all this victorious. Broadly speaking, the book can be divided into three sections: (I) “Book of the Going Out by Daytime” (cc. i-xvi), a title generally, though wrongly, extended to the whole book; (2) Chapters xvii-cxxiv: fitting the deceased for admission (xvii-xci) to the kingdom of Osiris, his itinerary thereto, whether by water or overland (xciii-cii, cxii-cxix), and his settlement therein (ciii-cx), without further formality than conciliating the ferryman or the guardian genii with certain incantations and magical prayers recited with the right intonation; in case the deceased believed in retribution, before gaining admission he had to repair to the Hall of Justice, there to be tried by Osiris (cxxiii-cxxv); (3) Chapter cxxv to the end: practically another guidebook for the special profit of the followers of the School of Abydos. It begins with the trial, after which it goes over pretty much the same ground as the common guide, with variations peculiar to the doctrine of the school. For further details see the masterly review by Maspéro of Naville’s edition of the Book of the Dead during the Eighteenth to Twentieth Dynasties, in “Revue de l’histoire des religions”, XV (1887), pp. 263-315. The most important chapters, from a theological viewpoint, are perhaps the seventeenth, a compendious summary of what the deceased was supposed to know on the nature of the gods with whom he was to identify himself, and the one hundred and twenty-fifth, where, along with the disclaimer of forty-two offenses, we find also an enumeration of several good works, as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, making offerings to the dead, and sacrificing to the gods. The Book of the Dead naturally received many additions in the course of centuries, as new concepts evolved from the older ones. It would not be correct, however, to conclude that all the chapters not to be found in the older copies are of recent date. Comparison between various copies of known dates shows that, as a rule, they were mere abstracts from the standard copies preserved by the corporations of embalmers, or undertakers, the deceased individual having, as a rule, ordered during his lifetime a copy to be prepared according to his own belief and means. The fact that certain chapters, like lxiv, were assigned by the manuscripts to what seem to us remote dates, such as the reigns of King Khufu (Cheops), of the fourth, or King Usaphais, of the first, dynasty, does not prove that these chapters were thought to be older than the others; the reverse is more likely to be the correct view. The bulk of the chapters were believed by the Egyptians to antedate the human dynastic times, and, as Professor Maspéro remarks, the discovery of the Pyramid Texts, to which the Book of the Dead is closely related, shows that this idea was not altogether futile (op. cit., XV, 299). The Book of the Dead contains several passages in common with the ritual of the dead represented by the Pyramid Texts, and its first fifteen chapters were likewise read at burials, but otherwise it constitutes a distinct type. The Book of the Dead occurs in two recensions: the Theban (Eighteenth to Twentieth Dynasty) and the Saitic (Twenty-sixth Dynasty). The latter, which, naturally, is the longer (165 chapters), was published by Lepsius (Das Todtenbuch der Aegypter, Leipzig, 1842), from a Turin papyrus. The first two translations of the Book of the Dead by Birch (in Bunsen, “Egypt’s Place in Universal History”, V, 66-333) and Pierret (Le Livre des Morts des Anciens Egyptiens, Paris, 1882) are based on that edition. In 1886 E. Naville published a critical edition of the Theban recension, “Das Aegyptische Todtenbuch der XVIII. bis XX. Dynastie”, Berlin, 1886. In 1901 Dr. E. A.W. Budge published a translation of that same recension, but augmented with a considerable number of chapters (in all, 160) from new Theban manuscripts and 16 chapters from the Saitic recension (The Book of the Dead, London, 1901). For further bibliographical details see Budge, “The Papyrus of Ani” (London, 1895, 371 sqq.).
Substitutes for the Book of the Dead.—Other books similar in scope to the Book of the Dead, and often substituted for it in tombs, are: (I) “The Book of the Respirations communicated by Isis to her brother Osiris to restore a new life to his soul and body and renew all his limbs, so that he may reach the horizon with his father Re, and his soul may rise to the heavens in the disk of the moon, and his body shine in the stars of Orion on the bosom of Nut; in order that this may also happen to the Osiris N.” This book has so far been found only with the mummies of the priests and priestesses of Ammon-Re. It not only makes allusion to the formula and acts by means of which the resurrection is effected, but also treats of the life after death (tr. by P. J. Horrack in “Records of the Past”, IV, 119 sqq.). A variation of this book under the title of “Another Chapter of Coming Forth by Day, in order not to let him [the deceased] absorb impurities in the necropolis, but to let him drink truth, eat truth, accomplish all transformations he may please, to restore a new life” etc. (as above) was published by Wiedemann, “Hieratische Texte aus den Museen zu Berlin u. Paris” (Leipzig, 1879). (2) “The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys” (tr. by Horrack, op. cit., II, 117 sqq.). (3) “The Book of the Glorification of Osiris”, a variation of the preceding, published by Pierret from a Louvre papyrus. (4) The “Book of the Wandering of Eternity“, published by Bergmann, “Das Buch vom Durchwandel der Ewigkeit” in “Sitzungsber. d. K.K. Ak. d. Wiss. in Wien”, 1877.
Mythological Compositions.—A different group of funeral books is represented by certain mythological compositions. They consist principally of figures relating to the various diurnal and nocturnal phases of the sun, accompanied with explanatory legends. The oldest of such compositions can be assigned to the Eighteenth Dynasty, and refers to both the daily and nightly courses of the sun, the two being often combined in one picture in two sections. In later times the nocturnal aspect of the sun prevails, and the composition becomes more and more funereal in character and scope, until the diurnal solar symbols disappear almost entirely (see Devéria, “Catalogue” etc., pp. 1-15). Several of the figures are borrowed from the Book of the Dead.
Book of the Duat.—Closely related to these mythological compositions is the “Book of what there is in the Duat” (or Lower Hemisphere, as commonly, though perhaps wrongly, understood. See below, under Astronomy). It consists of a hieroglyphic text with numerous mythological or symbolical illustrations describing the nocturnal navigation of the sun (represented as the ram-headed god Chnàm) on the river Uernes (cf. the Ouranos of the Greeks) during the twelve hours of night, through as many halls. To each hall corresponds one of the successive modifications through which every being was supposed to be brought back from death to a new life. Such modifications are effected by the deities in charge of the various halls, who, in addition, contribute, either by towing or in some other mysterious way, to the progress of the solar bark on the Uernes, typifying that of the regeneration. However, this process of regeneration is not accomplished in Chnàm himself but in the god Sokari, who plays the part of the dead sun. The deceased, who is never mentioned by his name, appears as a mere figurant, or rather an onlooker. All those who take part in the action seem to be permanently settled in the Duat, with no other apparent purpose than to play their own parts on the passage of the solar bark. This is the case even with the damned, who, when the time of retribution comes at the end of the tenth, and during the eleventh, hour, impersonate the enemies of Osiris, and for the time being are submitted to atrocious torments and even annihilated. Whether one is justified, as generally granted, in seeing in this last point a proof that the Egyptians as a people believed in eternal retribution, does not appear quite certain if we consider the highly mystical character of that book, the understanding of which was the privilege of a few initiated. For further details see the introduction to and the analysis of that book by Devéria (“Catalogue” etc., pp. 15-39. See also Jéquier, “Livre de ce qu’il y a dans l’Hades”, Paris, 1894).
Ritual of the Embalming.—To close the above remarks on the funereal literature we must mention the Ritual of Embalming, published by Professor Maspéro (Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits etc., t. XXIV, Paris, 1882).
Liturgies.—The religion of the living, if we may so express ourselves, is far from being as largely represented in Egyptian literature as that of the dead. Yet we have a few important works such as the ritual, or rather the liturgy, of Osiris in his temple at Abydos, of which an illustrated edition has been preserved on the walls of that temple (published by Moret, “Le Rituel du culte divin journalier en Egypte”, 1902), and the liturgy of the Amon-worship contained in a Berlin papyrus (O. v. Lemm, Ritualbuch des Amondienstes, 1882). The Litany of the Sun has been translated by Naville, in “Records of the Past”, VIII, 103 sqq.; also a fragment of the Legend of Re to which we have already alluded (op. cit., VI, 103 sq.) and several hymns to Osiris (op. cit., New Series, IV, 17 sq.), the Nile (op. cit., New Series, III, 46 sqq.), and Amon-Re (in Maspéro, “Histoire ancienne”, pp. 328 sqq.; Grébaut, “Hymne à Ammon-Ra”, Paris, 1875; cf. Stern in “Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache”, 1877, and Brugsch, “Religion u. Mythologie der alten Aegypter”, Leipzig, 1885, pp. 690 sqq.). From the point of view of composition and style these hymns are the most remarkable literary products of ancient Egypt, as they are the most striking specimens of the monotheistic tendencies which developed under the Eighteenth-Twentieth Dynasties as a result of the political supremacy of Thebes. Not less noteworthy are the hymns composed by Amenophis IV in honor of his sole god Aton (see the specimen published by Breasted, “History of the Ancient Egyptians”, pp. 273 sqq.).
Moral.—Several Egyptian literary compositions of a moral nature have reached us. The two oldest are attributed to Kagemme, vizier of King Snefrà, and Ptahhotep, vizier and chief judge under King Isesi, last but one of the fifth dynasty. Both compositions, preserved in a manuscript of the Twelfth Dynasty, consist of apophthegms and proverbs of a rather positive and practical nature, as “A slight failure is enough to make vile a great man” (Kagemme), or “A docile son shall be happy on account of his obedience; he shall grow old and get favor”, or “If you are a wise man, fix your house pleasantly, love your wife, do not quarrel with her, give her food and jewels, because this makes her comely, give her perfumes and pleasures during your life. She is a treasure which must be worthy of its owner” (Ptahhotep). Under the Twelfth Dynasty we have the teaching of Amenemhet I, where the old king warns his son and successor, Usertesen, against placing too much confidence in, and being too intimate with, those around him, exemplifying his teaching from his own experience (translated in “Records of the Past”, II, p. 9 sqq.). Of a much higher order and wider scope are the counsels that Ani, a scribe of the Nineteenth Dynasty, gives to his son Khons-Hotep: “Let thine eye observe the deeds of God; it is he that strikes whatsoever is stricken. Piety to the gods is the highest virtue”; “It is I who gave thee to thy mother, but it is she that bore thee and while she was carrying thee she suffered many pains. When the time of her delivery arrived thou wert born and she carried thee like the veriest yoke, her pap in thy mouth, for three years. Thou didst grow, and thy filthiness never so far disgusted her as to make her cry out: `Oh! what am I doing?’ Thou wert sent to school. She was anxious about thee every day, bringing thee meat and drink from home. Thou didst take a house and wife of thine own, but never forget the pains of childbed thou didst cost to thy mother; give her not cause to complain of thee, lest perchance she lift up her hands to the divinity, and he give ear to her will”; “Keep this in mind whenever thou hast to make a decision: Even as the most aged die thou also shalt lie down among them. There is no exception; even for him whose life is without blame, the same lot awaits him as well. Thy death-messenger will come to thee too, to carry thee away. Discourses will avail thee nothing, for he is coming, yea, he is ready even now. Do not begin to say: `I am still but a child, I whom thou takest off.’ Thou knowest not how thou shalt die. Death comes to the suckling babe; yea, to him who is yet in the womb, as well as to the old, old man. See, I tell thee things for thy good, which thou shalt ponder in thy heart before acting. In them thou shalt find happiness and all evil shall be put far from thee” (tr. of Chabas, “L’Egyptologie”, Paris, 1876-8).
History.—Egyptian historical literature is somewhat illustrated from what we have said of the sources of chronology (see above, II., subsection Chronology). In sharp contrast with the aridity which generally characterizes such documents, the so-called prose-poem of Pentaur stands alone so far. Pentaur is the name of the copyist, not of the author, as was long believed. Its subject is an episode of the famous campaign of Ramses II against the Hittites. When taken by surprise he, with only the household troops and a few officers who happened to be there, bravely charged the van of the enemy who were in pursuit of his defeated army, and so brilliantly successful was he that the rout was turned into a victory. The work displays a good deal of literary skill and is the nearest approach to an epic to be found in Egyptian literature (Breasted, “Hist. of the Anc. Egyptians”, 320; cf. Maspéro, “Hist. Anc.”, 272 sq.). Not less remarkable, perhaps, although less pretentious in point of style are: (I) the long autobiography of Uni, under three successive kings (Teti II, Pepi I, and Mernere) of the sixth dynasty, the longest funerary inscription and the most important historical document of that time (Breasted, “Anc. Rec. of Egypt”, I, 134 sq.); (2) the famous stele of Piankhi (see above, II. under Dynastic History; Second Period) which Professor Breasted calls the clearest and most rational account of a military expedition which has survived from ancient Egypt (Hist. of the Anc. Egyptians, 370); (3) the great Papyrus Harris, a huge roll one hundred and thirty feet long, the longest document from the Early Orient. It contains an enormous inventory of the gifts of Ramses III to the three chief divinities of Egypt, a statement of his achievements abroad, and his benefactions to his people at home (op. cit., 347).
Fiction.—If history proper is not more largely represented in Egyptian literature, it is because its naturally positive and dry character, which the structure of the Egyptian language made it difficult to disguise, was not in harmony with the highly imaginative Egyptian mind. No doubt the Egyptians were proud of their kings; but from one end of the country to the other the waters of the Nile reflected temples and mortuary chapels without number, on the walls of which the achievements of the pharaohs were spread in gorgeous inscriptions and reliefs. That was all the history they needed. It furnished them with historical outlines which their fertile imaginations filled out with stories or tales after their own taste, tales in the style of the “Arabian Nights”, where animals and mummies spoke like ordinary folks, as for instance in the tale of “The Two Brothers”, from the Nineteenth Dynasty (Records of the Past, II, 137 sqq.), and the story of Satni-Khamois from Ptolemaic times (op. cit., IV, 131 sq.). In “The Doomed Prince”, Twentieth Dynasty (op. cit., II, 153 sq.), men fly like birds; in “The Shipwrecked”, Twelfth Dynasty (translated, with all the others, in Maspéro, “Les contes populaires de l’Egypte ancienne”, 3d ed., Paris, 1905), the here is shipwrecked on the Island of the Ka (one of the popular concepts of the Land of the Dead), where a gigantic serpent addresses him with a human voice and treats him with the utmost kindness. In “The Daughter of the Prince of Bakhtan”, Twentieth Dynasty, the prince’s younger daughter is delivered from a demon or spirit by the statue of the god Khonsu for which he had sent to Thebes. Sometimes, however, the action remains within the limits of the natural order, and the interest consists in some extraordinary change of fortune, as in the case of Sinuhit, Twelfth Dynasty, or in some clever stratagem, as in “How Thutiy captured Joppa”, Twentieth Dynasty, and in the story of Rampsinitos (Herod., II, 121), Saitic times. The dramatis personoe of such tales and stories are often persons of royal blood, the pharaoh himself not infrequently playing the principal part; and the names which they bear, as a rule, are real historic names, so that in some cases it is not clear, at first sight, whether one has to deal with history or with fiction. More frequently, however, the names have been selected at random, sometimes from proper names, sometimes from the proenomina, or even from popular nicknames. Moreover, chronology, as is usual in popular fiction, is grossly disregarded. In the story of “Satni-Khamois”, for instance, Menephtah, instead of appearing as the brother of the hero, is alluded to as a remote predecessor of Ramses II (Usirmari of the tale, a proenomen of Ramses II in his youth). This literature of historical fiction was evidently very popular in Egypt at all times and in all classes of society. That it was chiefly from this source that Herodotus collected most of his notices concerning the ancient kings of Egypt is evident from the chronological confusion and the great mixture of names, proenomina, and nicknames which prevail in his writings. See on this all-important point the very interesting introduction of Prof. Maspéro to his “Contes populaires de l’ancienne Egypte” (3d ed., Paris, 1905).
Astronomy.—We have no special treatise on astronomy written by ancient Egyptians in book form. The monuments, however, the temples and tombs especially, give us a fair idea of their astronomical knowledge. On the whole, their notions were rather elementary. They knew the zodiac and the principal constellations, and had special names for Orion (Sahu) and Sirius (Sopdit), the former being sacred to Osiris and the latter to Isis, and for the thirty-six decani which presided over the thirty-six decades of the year. They had compiled tables of the risings and settings of a great many, if not all, of the stars visible to the naked eye. They knew the difference between fixed stars and planets, and the apparently retrograde motion of Mars at certain periods of the year had not escaped their attention. Beyond this they knew probably little or nothing (see Ginzel, “Handbuch der mathematischen u. technischen Chronologie”, I, 153). We have seen above (II., subsection Chronology) how the Egyptians used what they knew of astronomy for the division of time and its computation. They fancied the earth round and flat, surrounded with mountains beyond which flowed a large river which they called Uernes (cf. the Ouranos of the Greeks). At the four cardinal points the mountains rose higher and supported the celestial vaults, which they imagined as solid, although transparent. Over this vault flowed the celestial waters on which the sun, and the moon, and the stars floated in barks. The sun at the end of every day went out through the western mountains, and sailed on the Uernes first northward, then southward to the mountain of the east, where he entered our world again through a large gate. Egyptian mythology saw in the celestial vault an immense cow (Hathor), or a woman, the goddess Nut, whom Shu (the atmosphere) had separated from her husband Qeb, or Sib (the earth), and who brought forth the sun every morning, and swallowed it every evening (Maspéro in “Revue de l’histoire des religions”, XV, 269 sqq.). The many representations of the celestial vault in tombs and on the inner sides of the lids of sarcophagi are purely mythological (op. cit., I, 151).
Mathematics.—Our earliest Egyptian treatise on mathematics is the Rhind Papyrus of the British Museum [ed. Eisenlohr, Ein mathematisches Handbuch der alten Aegypter, 1877; L. Rodet in Jour. de la Soc. Math. de France, VI (1878), 139 sqq.]; it dates back to the Nineteenth Dynasty. It contains: (a) several theorems of plane geometry with rules for measuring solids; (b) a manual of the calculator on a purely arithmetical basis, not algebraic. [Rodet in Jour. Asiatique (1881), XVIII, 184 sq., 390 sq.]. The numerical system was decimal, and contained figures for one and for each power of ten; these figures were repeated as many times as contained in the number to be expressed. With the exception of two-thirds, the only fractions which they could write with one sign were those having 1 as numerator.
Astrology.—Among the documents belonging to this science the most important is a fragmentary astrological calendar (British Museum) written during the Nineteenth Dynasty. It contains a list of the things which it is proper to do or to avoid on each day of the year. The reason why such a day was fas or nefas was ordinarily taken from some mythological tradition. The Greeks and Romans were not ignorant of this science, but the name “Egyptian days” (dies Aegyptiaci), by which they designated it, shows clearly that they borrowed it from Egypt.
Medicine.—The Museum of Berlin preserves a copy of an Egyptian treatise on medicine, said to have been completed by, or at least under, kings of the First and Second Dynasties. There is besides, in the University Library of Leipzig, a papyrus commonly known as the Ebers Papyrus containing a copy (Eighteenth Dynasty) of another treatise attributed to King Cheops of the Fourth Dynasty. From these two documents and others of less importance we may infer that the Egyptians knew little about theoretical medicine, as, for religious reasons, they were not allowed to study anatomy. Practical medicine on the other hand, was so far developed among them that the Egyptian physicians were those most highly esteemed by the Greeks and Romans. The names given to diseases are not always clear, but the description of symptoms is often sufficiently detailed to enable a physician to identify them. Pharmaceutical science was still more advanced. Four kinds of remedies are to be found in the recipes: ointments, potions, plasters, clysters; they were usually taken from vegetables, sometimes from minerals (as sulphate of copper, salt, nitre, memphitic stone); the raw flesh, blood (fresh or dried up), hair, and horn of animals were also used, especially to reduce inflammations. The elements of such remedies were first mashed, boiled, and strained, then diluted in water, beer, infusions of oats, milk, oil, and even human urine. But the Egyptians believed that not all diseases were of natural origin; some were caused by evil spirits who obsessed the patients.
V. THE COPTIC CHURCH, the Church of the Copts or Egyptians, the usual modern name for the Church of Alexandria, though very often arbitrarily restricted to the period beginning with its secession (451) from the Catholic Church under its patriarch Dioscurus (q.v.) when it became a distinctly national church. The word Copt is an adaptation of the Arabic Qibt or Qubt (a corruption of Gr. Aiguptios). The Arab conquerors thus designated the old inhabitants of Egypt (in vast majority followers of Dioscurus) in contradistinction both to themselves and to the Melchites of Greek origin and language who were still in communion with the Catholic Church, but have since drifted within the orbit of the so-called Orthodox, i.e. schismatic Greek, Church. A general article on the Coptic Church will be found under The Church of Alexandria. Special features of importance are treated under the titles Councils of Alexandria; Gnosticism; Monasticism; Persecution; Sacraments; Versions of the Bible. See also Saint Athanasius; Saint Cyril of Alexandria; Dionysius of Alexandria; Saint Mark; Patriarch of Alexandria Theophilus; Clement of Alexandria; Origen and Origenism; Dioscurus; Melchites; Missions. In the present article we shall treat in particular of the origins and constitution of the Coptic Church, especially the question of its episcopate, to the Council of Nicaea (325). We shall close with a short sketch of the present condition of both the Jacobite and the Uniat branches of the Coptic Church, chiefly from the point of view of their organization.
1. Early Christianity in Egypt.—We have no direct evidence of Christianity having existed in Egypt until Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-220) when it had already spread over the land. What we know of the Church of Egypt before that time is exclusively through inferences or unconfirmed traditions preserved principally by Eusebius (see below). Thus we may infer the existence of Christianity in Egypt during the second century from the fact that under Trajan a Greek version of the “Gospel according to the Hebrews” was being circulated there (Duchesne, Histoire Ancienne de l’Eglise, I, 126). We know that this Gospel was the book of the Judaeo-Christians. Its very name points to the existence at the same date of another Christian community, recruited from among the Gentiles. This, presumably, followed another Gospel which Clement of Alexandria calls “the Gospel according to the Egyptians”. (On the Gospel of the Egyptians, see Harnack, Chronologie der altchristlichen Litteratur, I, 1, pp. 612-22; on the Gospel of the Hebrews, ibid., pp. 631-49.) This writer quotes it along with the “Gospel according to the Hebrews”. However, he clearly distinguishes both from the canonical Gospels, which shows that those two apocrypha were then mere relics of the past, or at least were old enough to be entitled to some consideration in spite of their uncanonical character. Some writers, as Bardenhewer (Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, I, 387), think that the “Gospel according to the Egyptians” owed its name to its diffusion among the Egyptians throughout the land, in contradistinction to some other Gospel, canonical or uncanonical, in use in Alexandria. In this case we might conclude furthermore to the existence of a third Christian community, consisting of native Egyptians, as it is difficult to suppose that two Hellenistic communities would have used two different Gospels. But we have no evidence of a native Church having existed at as early a period as suggested by the elimination of the Gospel of the Egyptians from the canon at the time of Clement of Alexandria.
Again, organized Christianity at an early date in Egypt is, indirectly at least, attested by the activity of the Gnostic schools in that country in the third and fourth decades of the second century. Eusebius is authority that “Basilides the heresiarch”, founder of one of these schools, came into prominence in the year 134. Other Egyptian founders of such schools, Valentinus and Carpoerates, belong to the same period. Valentinus had already moved to Rome in 140, under the pontificate of Pope Hyginus (Irenaeus, Adv. her., III, iv, 3), after having preached his doctrines in Egypt, his native country. As Duchesne (op. cit., I, 331) well remarks, one cannot believe that these heretical manifestations represent all the Alexandrine Christianity. These schools, precisely because they are nothing but schools, suppose a Church, “the Great Church“, as Celsus calls it; such aberrations, precisely because labelled with their authors’ names, testify to the existence of the orthodox tradition in the country where they originated. This tradition, from which heresies of such a power of diffusion could separate themselves without putting its very existence in jeopardy, must have been endowed with a vitality which cannot be accounted for without at least half a century of normal growth and an organization under the guidance of strong and vigilant bishops. We may, therefore, safely conclude that as early as the middle decades of the first century there were in Alexandria, and probably in the neighboring nomes, or provinces, Christian communities consisting principally of Hellenistic Jews and of those pious men (phoboumenoi ton Theon) who had embraced the tenets and practices of Judaism without becoming regular proselytes. These communities must have had some numerical importance, for on the one hand the Jews were exceedingly numerous (over one million) in Egypt, and particularly in Alexandria, where they constituted two-fifths of the whole population; and on the other hand the philosophical eclecticism that generally prevailed in Alexandria at that time cooperated in favor of Christian ideas with the great doctrinal tolerance then obtaining throughout Judaism, to the extent, indeed, as Duchesne tersely puts it, that one might think like Philo or like Akiba, believe in the resurrection of the flesh or its final annihilation, expect the Messias or ridicule that hope, philosophize like Ecclesiastes or like the Wisdom of Solomon (op. cit., I, 122). Along with this judaizing Church, whose hopes and expectations were centerd in Jerusalem and the Temple, who accepted Christianity and yet continued to observe the Law, there was another Church, decidedly Gentile—we might say, Christian—in its character and aspirations, as well as in its practices. It is difficult to surmise what the relations of those two Churches to one another were in their details. It is very probable that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Titus, by putting an end to the hopes of many among the judaizing Church, brought them over to the Great Church, which henceforth gained rapidly in numbers and prestige and soon became the only orthodox Christian Church.
2. Chronology of Early Episcopate.—Eusebius, both in his “Chronicle” and his “Ecclesiastical History” (cf. Harnack, “Chronologie der altchristlichen Litteratur”, I, 1, pp. 70-208), registers the names and years of pontificate of ten bishops supposed to have occupied in succession the See of Alexandria prior to the accession of Demetrius (188-9). Those names he took from the now lost “Chronography” of Julius Africanus, who visited Egypt in the early portion of the third century. They are as follows: Anianus, 22 years; Abilius, 13; Cerdo, 11; Primus, 12; Justus, 11; Eumenes, 13; Marcus, 10; Celadion, 14; Agrippinus, 12; Julianus, 10. Dates are also given, each bishop being entered under the year of reign of the Roman Emperor in which his accession took place. Thus Anianus is entered under the eighth year of Nero (A.D. 62-3). It seems certain, however, that these synchronistic indications do not belong to the list as found by Julius Africanus, but were computed by himself, from Demetrius down, on the years of pontificate of the several bishops. The same writer (Harnack, “Chronologie”, I, 1, p. 706) is authority for another tradition preserved also by Eusebius, to the effect that Christianity was first introduced in Egypt by St. Mark the Evangelist in the third year of Claudius (A.D. 43), only one year after St. Peter established his see in Rome, and one year before Evodius had been raised to the See of Antioch. He preached there his Gospel and founded Churches in Alexandria. Little is added by Eusebius, viz. that, according to Clement of Alexandria, Mark had come to Rome with St. Peter (probably after Agrippa’s death in 44), and that, according to Papias, after Peter’s death (probably 64), Mark had written there the Gospel that bears his name (see Harnack, “Chronologie”, I, 1, pp. 652-3). This latter point is confirmed by Irenaeus, op. cit., III, i, 2: “Post vero horum [Petri et Pauli] excessum, Marcus, discipulus et interpres Petri, et ipse quae a Petro nuntiata erant per scripta nobis tradidit.”
Other chronological traditions, often mere variations of those just related, concerning the apostolate and death of St. Mark, have been handed down mostly by the Oriental compilers of chronicles. They are strongly legendary and often conflict with one another and with the Eusebian traditions. In more than one instance they seem to have originated from a misunderstanding of Eusebius’s text, of which we know there was a Coptic translation, or from an effort to harmonize or supplement the traditions reported (but not confirmed) by that writer. Until these Oriental sources have been critically edited and their chronology brought out of its chaotic state, it is impossible to make use of them to any considerable extent. It seems, however, certain (I) that St. Mark died a martyr, though the constant tradition that his martyrdom was on Easter Day and on the 24th or 25th of April seems to be worthless, seeing that from the year 45 to the end of the first century Easter never fell on either of those dates; (2) that, having temporarily left Egypt to go (or to return) to the Pentapolis, St. Mark had appointed Anianus his successor several years prior to his own death. Severus of Nesteraweh, a bishop of the ninth century, says that it was seven years before his martyrdom. It is remarkable that Eusebius, while stating that Anianus succeeded St. Mark in the eighth year of Nero (A.D. 62-3), does not mention Mark’s death (as in the case of St. Peter). Probably he had found no tradition on that point. The fact, however, that he gives Anianus as the first Bishop of Alexandria shows that, in his mind, the two events were not contemporaneous. For if Anianus had taken possession of the see on St. Mark’s death he would have been the second, and not the first, bishop. There is some reason to suspect the correctness of the traditions transmitted by Julius Africanus through Eusebius. The round number of ten bishops for a period of which we otherwise know nothing, the fact that in every case the pontificate consisted of complete years only without extra months and days, the further fact that we find in that short list two pontificates of ten years, two of eleven, two of twelve, two of thirteen, which seems to indicate that the other two originally were fourteen years each—all this might suggest that the list of Julius Africanus is to some extent at least artificial, and based on a uniform number of twelve years for each pontificate, giving a sum total of one hundred and twenty years for the list. One might surmise that the list was originally supposed to start from St. Mark’s death, and that later on the enthronement of Anianus was taken as its beginning, his pontificate being, as a consequence, increased by from four to eight years. Nor is it, perhaps, entirely fortuitous that the different recensions of the “Chronicon” of Eusebius (the Armenian recension, for instance) count so very near 144 years (12 X 12) from St. Mark’s arrival in Egypt to Demetrius. It would not be difficult to find other instances of chronologies of predocumentary times thus artificially rounded out on the basis of the numbers ten and twelve.
We have, perhaps, a relic of an entirely different tradition in a remark to be found in the “Chronicon Orientale” of Peter Ibn Rahib, namely, that after the pontificate of Abilius there was a vacancy of three years, owing to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem under Titus. If we had not the list of Julius Africanus, such a statement might not seem devoid of plausibility. As we have seen before, the first Christian community of Alexandria consisted chiefly of Jews, and we should naturally suppose that its first pastors were chosen from among the Jews. At any rate they were regarded as Jews by the Government. Now it is known that, after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Vespasian adopted measures of extreme rigour against the Jewish population of Egypt, lest they should try to make their temple of Leontopolis the national center of their race, and thus defeat his very purpose in wiping out of existence the Temple of Jerusalem. It was not until A.D. 73, when this obnoxious temple was, in its turn, destroyed, that the persecution ceased, and the Jews were restored to their former privilege of free worship. Supposing that the predecessor of Abilius died A.D. 70, it would appear likely enough that the see should have remained vacant during the time of the persecution.
3. Nature of Early Episcopate.—There is much discussion as to the nature of the early episcopate of Egypt. Tradition seems to point to a collective episcopate consisting of twelve presbyters with a bishop at their head. St. Jerome, in a letter to Evangelus (P.L., XXII, 1194), insisting on the dignity of the priesthood, says: “At Alexandria, from the time of St. Mark the Evangelist to that of the Bishops Heraclas and Dionysius [middle of the third century] the presbyters of Alexandria used to call bishop one they elected from among themselves and raised to a higher standing, just as the army makes an emperor, or the deacons call archdeacon, one from their own body whom they know to be of active habits.” This is confirmed by: (I) A passage of a letter of Severus of Antioch, written from Egypt between 518 and 538. Speaking of a certain Isaias who adduced an ancient canon to prove the validity of his episcopal ordination although performed by a single bishop, Severus says: “It was also customary for the bishop of the city famous for the orthodoxy of its faith, the city of the Alexandrines, to be appointed by priests. Later, however, in agreement with a canon which obtained everywhere, the sacramental institution of their bishop took place by the hands of the bishops.” (2) A passage of the annals of Eutychius, Melchite Patriarch of Alexandria who flourished in the early decades of the tenth century: “St. Mark along with Ananias [Anianus] made twelve priests to be with the patriarch; so that when this should be wanting they might elect one out of the twelve priests and the remaining eleven should lay their hands upon his head and bless him and appoint him patriarch; and should after this choose a man of note and make him priest with them in the place of the one who had been made patriarch from among the twelve priests, in such sort that they should always be twelve. This custom, that the priests of Alexandria should appoint the patriarch from the twelve priests, did not come to an end till the time of Alexander Patriarch of Alexandria, one of the three hundred and eighteen [the Fathers of Nicaea] who forbade the presbyters [in the future] to appoint the patriarch, but decreed that on the death of the patriarch the bishops should convene and appoint the patriarch, and he furthermore decreed that on the death of the patriarch they should elect a man of note from whichsoever place, from among those twelve priests or not … and appoint him” (tr. from the Arabic text ed. Cheikho, in “Corpus Script. Christ. Orientalium; Scriptores Arabici“, Ser. IIIa, torn. VI, 95, 96). Finally, we read in the apophthegms or the Egyptian monk Poemen (Butler, “Lausiac History of Palladius“) that certain heretics came to Poemen and began to scoff at the Archbishop of Alexandria as having ordination (cheirotonian) from priests. The old man did not answer, but he said to the brothers: “Prepare the table, make them eat, and dismiss them in peace.” It is generally supposed that the heretics in question were Arians and really intended to make Poemen believe that the then Archbishop of Alexandria had been ordained by priests, and St. Athanasius is supposed to have been that archbishop. Now, as it is a well-known fact that St. Athanasius was consecrated by bishops, that accusation is considered one of the many calumnies the Arians used to spread against him. If this interpretation be true, the Lausiac text proves nothing for the nature of the early Alexandrian episcopate. But it seems highly improbable that the Arians should have dared to assert what everyone in Egypt in the least familiar with contemporary events, must have known to be false. In fact the Lausiac text is susceptible of a more plausible interpretation, to wit, that the episcopal character of the Archbishop of Alexandria was to be traced to simple presbyters, while in other Churches the Apostolic succession had been transmitted from the very beginning through an uninterrupted line of bishops. In this case the Lausiac would be the oldest witness of the tradition transmitted by Jerome, Severus, and Eutychius, for Poemen flourished in the first half of the fifth century (Dict. Christ. Biogr., s.v.), or even as early as the latter half of the fourth century, if Charles Gore is right in his argument that Rufinus visited that holy hermit in 375 (Journal of Theological Studies, III, 280). Moreover, that the bishops of Alexandria were originally not only elected, but also appointed, by presbyters is, indirectly at least, confirmed by another tradition for which Eutychius is authority, to wit, that, till Demetrius there was no other bishop in Egypt than the Bishop of Alexandria. This was denied by Sollerius (Hist. Chron. Patr. Alex., 8*= 10*) and others, but we shall see in the following section that their reasons are not conclusive (cf. Harnack, “Miss. u. Ausbreitung”, 2d ed., II, 133, n. 3). The tradition that the early Bishops of Alexandria were elected and appointed by a college of presbyters, is therefore, if not certain, at least highly probable. On the other hand it seems almost certain that that custom came to an end much earlier than Eutychius, or even Jerome, would have it. Significant is the fact that they disagree on the terminus ad quem; still more significant that Severus of Antioch is silent on that point. Besides, several passages of the works of Origen and Clement of Alexandria can hardly be understood without supposing that the mode of episcopal election and ordination was then the same as throughout the rest of the Christian world (see Cabrol in his “Dict. d’archéologie chrét.”, s.v. Alexandrie: Election du Patriarche) .
We may not dismiss the question without recalling the use which Presbyterians, since Selden, have made of that tradition to uphold their views on the early organization of the Church. It suffices to say that their theory rests, after all, on the gratuitous assumption (to put it as mildly as possible) that the presbyters who used to elect the Bishop of Alexandria, were priests as understood in the now current meaning of this word. Such is not the tradition; according to Eutychius himself, Selden’s chief authority, the privilege of patriarchal election was vested not in the priests in general, but in a college of twelve priests on whom that power had been conferred by St. Mark. They were in that sense an episcopal college. Later on, when it became necessary to establish resident bishops in the provinces, the appointees may have been selected from the college of presbyters, while still retaining their former quality of members of the episcopal college. So that, little by little, the power of patriarchal election passed into the hands of regular bishops. The transfer would have been gradual and natural; which would explain the incertitude of the witnesses of the tradition as to the time when the old order of things disappeared. Eutychius may have been influenced in his statement by the fourth Nicene canon. As for St. Jerome, he may have meant Demetrius and Heraclas, instead of Heraclas and Dionysius, for he may have been aware of the other tradition handed down by Eutychius, to the effect that those two patriarchs were the first to ordain bishops since St. Mark (see below).
4. The Episcopate in the Provinces.—Delegated Bishops or Itinerant Bishops.—We have said that according to an ancient tradition handed down by Eutychius, the Bishop of Alexandria was for a long time the only bishop in Egypt. Eutychius‘s words are as follows: “From Annianus, who was appointed Patriarch of Alexandria by Mark the Evangelist, until Demetrius, Patriarch of Alexandria (and he was the eleventh patriarch of Alexandria), there was no bishop in the province [sic—read provinces— see below] of Egypt [Arabic, Misr], and the patriarchs his predecessors had appointed no bishop. And when Demetrius became patriarch he appointed three bishops, and he is the first Patriarch of Alexandria who set the bishops over provinces. And when he died Heraclas was made Patriarch of Alexandria, and he appointed twenty bishops” (translated from the edition of L. Cheikho, in “Corp. Script. Christ. Orient: Script. Arabici“, ser. III, tom. VI, I, p. 96). It has been objected against this tradition that the Emperor Hadrian, writing to Servianus on the religious conditions of Egypt (Vopiscus, “Vita Saturnini”, 8), speaks of Christian bishops; but this letter is now generally considered as a forgery of the third century (cf. Harnack, “Mission u. Ausbreitung des Christentums”, 2d ed., II, 133, n. 3), and even if it were genuine it would be necessary to know exactly what Hadrian meant by the word bishop; we shall see that it could be used in a sense rather different from the current meaning. A stronger objection is taken from the “Lives of the Patriarchs of Alexandria” by Severus of Ashmunein, where we read that three of the early patriarchs—Cerdo, Celadion, and Julian—were elected by bishops as well as by the people. It is far from certain, however, that the word bishop in these three cases has its ordinary meaning. In the case of Cerdo the text reads: “When the priests and the bishops, who were representing the patriarch in the towns, heard of his death they were grieved, and they all went to Alexandria and, having taken counsel with the orthodox people”, etc. It seems evident that these “bishops” were nothing but delegated bishops acting in virtue of a special and temporary, not an ordinary and permanent, delegation of powers as ordinary bishops (see below); for in this case delegation, being a matter of course, would not be mentioned. They were not bishops in the ordinary canonical sense of the word. In Celadion’s case the text says: “The bishops who were in Alexandria in those days”—i.e., probably, who were stationed there, resided there, which certainly cannot be understood of ordinary bishops, whose residence would have been in their respective dioceses. There was room for but one such bishop in Alexandria. Still clearer is the passage concerning Julian: “A party of bishops from the synod assembled with the people of Alexandria“, etc. What was that synod? Evidently not a council which happened to be in session, for in that case all certainly would have taken part in the election. Besides, if Celadion’s predecessor had called a synod or council, Severus, or the author from whom he borrowed that meagre biography, would not have failed to swell it with this important event. There seems to be no other solution than to see in that synod a body of presbyters or delegated bishops who were habitually in residence in Alexandria, but some of whom, being on the mission, were not able to take part in the election. There was, therefore, under the early Bishops of Alexandria, a body of men who could be called bishops, and yet had no ordinary jurisdiction, as is evidenced, first, by the express statement in Cerdo’s case and, secondly, by the fact that they usually resided in Alexandria, as stated or implied in the other two cases. Such a body of men the twelve presbyters of Eutychius must have been; so that those three passages, far from contradicting Eutychius‘s testimony, rather confirm it. We find, however, a more direct confirmation of Eutychius‘s statement in another, so far equally misinterpreted, passage of Severus. In the biography of Julian, the immediate predecessor of Demetrius, we read: “After this patriarch, the Bishop of Alexandria did not remain always there, but he used to go out secretly and organize the hierarchy [yausim kahanat, literally, “ordain clergy”], as St. Mark the Evangelist had done.” The same remark is to be found in the “Chronicon Orientale” of Peter Ibn Rahib, with the variation, “No bishop always remained in Alexandria“; and the omission of the last words “as St. Mark” etc. We know that the words yausim kahanat have been so far rendered “ordinationes sacerdotum faciebant” (Renaudot, Hist. Patr. Alexandr., p. 18), “ordained priests” (Evetts, “Hist. of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria” in Graffin-Nau’s “Patrologia Orientalis”, I, 154). There is no doubt, however, that the word kahanat (plur. of kahin) as a rule stands for bishops and deacons as well as for priests. That it really is so in this case is made clear from a comparison among three versions of the same episode of the life of St. Mark. The author of the second biography in Severus’s work says that the Evangelist, seeing that the people of Alexandria were plotting against his life, went out from their city (secretly, adds Severus of Nesteraweh, Barges, op. cit., p. 56) and returned to the Pentapolis, where he remained two years, appointing bishops, priests, and deacons in all its provinces. The Melchite Martyrology of Alexandria, under April 25, says that St. Mark went from Alexandria to Barca (Pentapolis) and beautified the churches of Christ, “instituting bishops and the rest of the clergy [kahanat] of that country”. (It is evident that in the mind of the author of the latter passage kahanat, on the one hand, and “bishops, priests, and deacons”, on the other, are interchangeable.) Finally, in the “Chronicon Orientale”, where the same episode of St. Mark’s life is related, we find simply: “appointing clergy [kahanat] for them”, without special mention of the bishops. And the argument will appear all the more convincing if we notice that the remark of Julian’s biography must have had in view the labors of St. Mark in the Pentapolis, when he added “as St. Mark the Evangelist had done”, for neither the Oriental nor any other sources record a further instance of ordinations performed by St. Mark outside of Alexandria.
Before we dismiss this interesting passage of Julian’s biography, let us call attention to another detail of it. The patriarch is styled simply the Bishop of Alexandria, which shows that the source from which the remark was borrowed must belong to a time when the expressions archbishop and patriarch had not yet come into use. It may, therefore, be considered as absolutely certain that, according to all the Oriental sources, there was from the times of St. Mark to Julian’s death only one diocese in the whole territory of Egypt proper, namely, the Diocese of Alexandria, and only one bishop, the Bishop of Alexandria. That bishop was assisted by a college of presbyters. These were bishops to all intents and purposes, excepting jurisdiction, which they had by delegation only. If Eutychius calls them presbyters, it is because he found that word in the source he was using, possibly the very same in which the author of Julian’s biography found the word bishop used to designate the patriarch. In the “Lives of the Patriarchs” by Severus of Ashmunein, they are called bishops, in agreement with the current use of the time when those biographies were first written down. On so much the Oriental sources agree, and substantially they confirm the traditions preserved by St. Jerome and Severus of Antioch. They disagree as to the number of presbyters created by St. Mark; Makrizi, who probably copied Eutychius, gives the same number (twelve) and does not speak of deacons. Severus’s second biography of St. Mark, Al-Makin, and the “Chronicon Orientale” say three presbyters and seven deacons. According to Severus of Nesteraweh, St. Mark “ordained priests the sons of Anianus, who were but few, and eleven deacons”. It is impossible to reconcile these data. If Eutychius‘s figure, as is very likely, has no historical foundation, it might be based on Mark, iii, 14. The number three in the other sources, if fictitious, might reflect the fourth canon of Nicaea. Although we have no means of determining, even approximately, to what extent Christianity had spread over Egyptian territory during the first two centuries of our era, there is hardly any doubt that the number of communities, as well as the area over which they were scattered, very much exceeded the proportions of an ordinary diocese of the primitive Church. Christianity, says Clement of Alexandria (Strom., VI, xviii, 167), has spread kata ethnos kai komen kai polin pasan, i.e. whole houses and families have embraced the faith, which has found adherents in all classes of society. And this statement is borne out by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., VI, i), who says that in the year 202, during the Severian persecution, Christians were dragged to Alexandria, for trial ap’ Aiguptou kai Thebaidos hapases. It would seem that under ordinary circumstances there must have been a call for an ordinary resident bishop at least in each of the three great provinces of Heptanomis (Middle Egypt), Thebais (Upper Egypt), and Arsinoe (the Fayàm).
But in Egypt, as elsewhere, the Church in its infancy naturally copied the political organization of the country, and Egypt, in that respect, was entirely different from the rest of the Roman Empire. Rome, or rather Augustus, in taking possession of Egypt as his personal spoil, took in almost bodily the old political organization created by the Pharaohs and developed and strengthened by the Ptolemies, simply replacing the king by a prefect in whom, as his representative, all authority, judicial and military, was vested. That organization was characterized by the total absence of municipal institutions; no organized cities, as in the rest of the Roman Empire, no magistrates elected by a senate and governing in its name. The country was divided, as of old, into nomes, each of which was administered by a strategos (formerly, nomarch) under the prefect, though occasionally two nomes were temporarily united under one strategos, or one nome was divided between two strategoi. The strategos appointed all subaltern officials throughout the nome, subject to approval from the prefect, and transmitted to them his orders. In judicial matters they could initiate proceedings, but could deliver judgment only when specially empowered as delegates by the prefect. In each village there was a council of elders who acted as intermediaries for the payment of taxes, and were held responsible to the authorities of the nome for the good order of their fellow villagers; they had, however, no authority except by way of delegation. Alexandria was no exception to that rule; it was not until the reign of Septimius Severus that the city was granted a senate, and even then the citizens were not permitted to elect their own magistrates. The situation was probably the same in other cities which at a still later period secured the privilege of a senate. For convenience’ sake the Ptolemies had grouped the nomes of Upper Egypt into one province governed by an epistrategos; the Romans at first did the same for the nomes of Middle Egypt (including the Arsinoite nome, the modern Fayàm) and the Delta, or Lower Egypt. But this and other later arrangements of the nomes into provinces never affected the political organization of the country. The epistrategoi were the usual delegates for many of the powers nominally exercised by the prefect. They appointed the strategoi and other local officials, subject to confirmation by the prefect. In a general way they acted as intermediaries for the transmission to the authorities of the nome of the orders issued by the prefect (Milne, p. 4-6). In each nome there was a metropolis which was the residence of the strategos and, as such, the political center of the nome. It was a religious center as well, as it contained the chief sanctuary of the special god of the whole nome. The chief priest in charge of that sanctuary naturally ruled in religious matters over all the secondary temples scattered throughout the territory of the nome. There was in Alexandria a “High-Priest of Alexandria and all Egypt”, appointed by the emperor, and probably a Roman, like the prefect upon whom he depended and whose substitute he was in religious matters. He had supreme authority over the priests and control of the temple treasures all over Egypt. In course of time, particularly under Diocletian, several changes took place in that organization; but these changes affected in no way the workings of the administration of the country, which, through a chain extending from the prefect to the last and least subaltern of the smallest village, brought every inhabitant under the control of the imperial prefect.
A more striking example of centralized power can hardly be imagined: one master, supreme in all branches of administration; between him and the people, intermediaries who transmit his orders, but never act except on his behalf, and refer to him all cases of any importance. Such, also, was the organization of the Coptic Church in the first one hundred and twenty years of its existence: one master only, one seat and source of jurisdiction, one judge—the Bishop of Alexandria. It is, therefore, this fullness of jurisdiction rather than the fullness of the priesthood—plenitudo sacerdotii—that is understood by the title of bishop. The presbyters who elect the Bishop of Alexandria, also have the fullness of the priesthood, but they have no jurisdiction of their own. We found them temporarily in charge in the provinces, but they were acting in behalf of the bishop; and for that reason, in the older sources, they are not called bishops. With Demetrius (188-232) a new era opens. The bishops of Alexandria, we have seen, began to leave the city secretly, and ordained bishops, priests, and deacons everywhere, as St. Mark himself had done when he went to the Pentapolis. The word secretly is suggestive of times of persecution (cf. Abraham Ecchellensis, “Eutychius vindicatus”, 126; Renaudot, “Hist. Patriarcharum Alexandrinorum”, I). It would seem that this new departure of Demetrius took place in the very first years of the third century, when the Severian persecution broke out. The dangers then threatening the Christian communities—which by this time had greatly increased in all parts of Egypt—may have been the chief consideration that prompted the bishop to come to the assistance of his flock by giving it permanent pastors (see, however, Harnack, “Mission”, II, 137, note 2, quoting Schwartz). According to the tradition of Eutychius, Demetrius created three bishops; Heraclas (232-48), as many as twenty. The number of bishops so increased, under Dionysius (248-65), Maximus (265-82), Theonas (282-300), Peter Martyr (300-11), Achillas (312), and Alexander (313-326), that the last of these could, in 320, muster nearly one hundred bishops against Arius (Socrates, Hist. Eccl., I, vi), from Egypt, Libya, and the Pentapolis. The Egyptian hierarchy was then fully organized (cf. Harnack, op. cit., II, 142), a fact which explains, and is explained by, the wholesale Christianization of Egypt during the third century. In spite, however, of that astonishing development of the hierarchy, the old institution of itinerant bishops had not yet entirely disappeared. It happened often during the persecutions that bishops were incarcerated pending trial, and therefore were unable to hold ordinations. Their places were then filled by periodeutai, or itinerant bishops ordained for that purpose, and resident in Alexandria when not actively engaged in their sacred functions. It was for having presumed to usurp the functions of such periodeutai, that Meletius, Bishop of Lycopolis (in Upper Egypt) was censured by the Patriarch Alexander, and finally condemned and deprived of his jurisdiction by the Council of Ncaea (see Hefele-Leclercq, Hist. des Conciles, Paris, 1907, I, 488-503, where all the sources are indicated).
The existence of metropolitans (in the canonical sense of the word) in the Church of Egypt is a matter of considerable doubt (see Harnack, op. cit., II, 150, note 3, where reference is made to Schwartz, “Athanasiana”, I, in “Nachricht. d. K. Gesellschaft d. Wiss. zu Göttingen”, 1904, p. 180, and Lübeck, “Reichseintheilung u. kirchliche Hierarchic”, pp. 109 sq., 116 sqq.). If some bishops (which is very likely; see Hefele, “Conciliengeschichte”, I, pp. 391, 392) bore that title, they could not have differed from the ordinary Egyptian bishops in their relations to the Bishop of Alexandria. It is a well-known fact that the Bishop of Alexandria was wont to ordain not only his metropolitans, as did the other patriarchs, but also their suffragans, with the sole proviso that their election should have been sanctioned by their respective metropolitans (Hefele, op. cit., I, p. 393). St. Epiphanius, writing of Meletius, whom he calls archeipiskopos (Haeres., lxix, c. iii), by which he means really metropolitan (Hefele, ibid.), says: “Ille quidem caeteris Aegypti episcopis antecellens, secundum a Petro [Alexandrine] dignitatis locum obtinebat, utpote illius adjutor sed eidem tamen subjectus et ad ipsum de rebus ecclesiasticis referens” [He indeed, being preeminent over all the other bishops of Egypt, held the position next in dignity to that of Peter (of Alexandria), as being his helper, yet subject to him and dependent on him in ecclesiastical affairs]. In what concerns Meletianism St. Epiphanius is not to be implicitly trusted. In this case, however, his testimony is probably correct; his words depict just such a condition of affairs as we should naturally expect from the general analogy of the church-organization with the civil government. The existence of the epistrategoi and the nature of their relations to the prefect of Egypt might well have suggested the appointment of metropolitans with just as limited an independence of the Bishop of Alexandria as St. Epiphanius attributes to Meletius.
PRESENT STATE OF THE COPTIC CHURCH.—The Jacobite Church has thirteen dioceses in Egypt: Cairo under the Patriarch of Alexandria, with 23 churches and 35 priests; Alexandria, with a metropolitan, having charge also of the Provinces of Bohaireh and Menufiyeh, 48 churches, 60 priests; the three provinces of Dakalieh, Sharkieh, and Gharbieh, 70 churches, 95 priests; Gizeh and the Fayàm, 25 churches, 40 priests; Beni-Suef, 24 churches, 70 priests; Minieh, 40 churches, 90 priests; Sanabà, 32 churches, 65 priests; Manfalàt, 28 churches, 55 priests; Assiàt (metropolitan see), 25 churches, 66 priests; Abàtig (metropolitan see), 45 churches, 105 priests; Akhmim and Girgeh (metropolitan see), 50 churches, 101 priests; Keneh, 24 churches, 48 priests; Luxor and Esneh (metropolitan see), 24 churches, 48 priests. By way of summary it may be said that the Jacobite Coptic Church has 1 patriarch, 6 metropolitans, 6 bishops, 856 priests, 449 churches, and about 600,000 souls. There are in addition, outside of Egypt, a metropolitan in Jerusalem, a bishop for Nubia and Khartàm, a metropolitan and two bishops in Abyssinia. Some ten years ago the abbots of the monasteries of Moharrak (province of Assiàt), St. Anthony, St. Paul (both in the Arabian Desert), and Baramàs (in the desert of Nitria) were raised to the dignity of bishops.
There are three categories of schools. (a) Church schools, under the patriarch (conservative): 1 ecclesiastical college, 50 pupils; 6 boys’ schools, 1100 pupils; 2 girls’ schools, 350 pupils. (b) Tewfik schools, under the society of the same name (rather liberal and in opposition to the patriarch): 1 boys’ school, 290 pupils; 1 girls’ school, 140 pupils. (c) Private schools: 5 boys’ schools, 300 pupils; 1 girls’ school, 5 pupils.—In all 2235 pupils attend these Jacobite schools.
The Uniat Church.—The Catholic, or Uniat, branch of the Coptic Church dates from 1741, when Benedict XIV, seeing that the patriarch and majority of the bishops could not be depended on to effectuate union with Rome, granted to Amba Athanasius, Coptic Bishop of Jerusalem, jurisdiction over all Christians of the Coptic Rite in Egypt and elsewhere. Athanasius continued to reside in Jerusalem, whence he ministered to his charge in Egypt through his vicar-general, Justus Maraghi. During his administration flourished Raphael Tuki, a native of Girgeh and an alumnus of the Urban (Propaganda) College at Rome. After a few years of fruitful labors in his native land he was recalled to Rome (where he received the title of Bishop of Arsinoe) to superintend the printing of the Coptic liturgical books (Missal, 1746; Psalter, 1749; Breviary, 1750; Pontifical, 1761; Ritual, 1763; Theotokiae, 1764). Athanasius was succeeded (1781) by John Farargi as Vicar Apostolic of the Coptic Nation, with the title of Bishop of Hypsopolis; but he never received episcopal consecration, there being no Catholic bishop of the Coptic Rite to perform it. The same can be said of his successor Matthew Righet, appointed in 1788, and made Bishop of Uthina in 1815; he died in 1822, and was succeeded by Maximus Joed, also made Bishop of Uthina in 1824, and a few months later Patriarch of Alexandria, by decree of Leo XII, who, at the request of the Khedive Mehemet-Ali, had decided to restore the Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria. That decree, however, never went into effect, owing, apparently, to the opposition of Abraham Cashoor, then at Rome, where he had been consecrated Archbishop of Memphis by the pope himself. Maximus died in 1831. His successor was Theodore Abà-Karim, made Bishop of Alia in 1832, and appointed Delegate and Visitator Apostolic of Abyssinia in 1840. He died in 1854, and was succeeded in 1856 by Athanasius Khàzam, Bishop of Maronia, who in turn was succeeded in 1866 by Agapius Bshai, Bishop of Cariopolis, representative of his nation at the Vatican Council in 1869-70. Owing to regrettable differences with his flock, this bishop, more learned and pious than tactful, was recalled to Rome in, or soon after, 1878, and did not return to Egypt until 1887, forty days before his death. During his absence, and after his death, the Church was administered by an Apostolic visitator, Monsignor Anthony Morcos (not a Copt nor a bishop) with the title of pro-vicar Apostolic. His successor was also a simple Apostolic visitator and governed the Uniat Copts until 1895, when the Patriarchate of Alexandria was restored by Leo XIII (Litter. Apost. “Christi Domini”) with a bishop, Cyril Macaire, as Apostolic administrator, and two suffragan sees, Hermopolis (residence at Minieh) and Thebes (residence at Tartah), which were entrusted respectively to Bishops Maximus Sedfaoui and Ignatius Berzi, both consecrated in 1896. In 1899 Bishop Cyril Macaire was promoted to the title and rank of Patriarch of Alexandria, with residence at Cairo, taking the name of Cyril II; he resigned in 1908, and Bishop Sedfaoui was named administrator. The Uniat Coptic Diocese of Alexandria counts (Lower Egypt and Cairo) 2500 souls, 4 churches or chapels, 14 priests (2 married), a petit seminaire with 8 pupils (under the direction of the Jesuits), and 1 school for boys (under the Christian Brothers). In the Diocese of Hermopolis (Middle Egypt) there are 2500 Catholics, 10 priests (4 married), 7 churches or chapels, 12 stations, 9 schools for boys, with 240 pupils, and 1 for girls, with 50 pupils. The Diocese of Thebes (part of Upper Egypt) has 15,250 souls, 31 priests (15 married), 35 churches or chapels, 18 stations, 1 theological seminary (for all three dioceses), with 17 pupils, 21 schools for boys, with 240 pupils, and 5 schools for girls, with 253 pupils. In addition to the above-mentioned clergy and institutions, there are several houses of Latin religious (both men and women) whose members minister to the Catholic Copts.
VI. COPTIC LITERATURE, the literature of Christian Egypt, at first written in the Coptic language and later translated into, or written outright in, Arabic. That literature is almost exclusively religious, or rather (with the exception of the Gnostic writings and a few magical texts) ecclesiastical, either as to its contents (Bible, lectionaries, martyrologies, etc.) or as to its purpose (grammars and vocabularies composed with reference to the ecclesiastical books). Thus defined, however, Coptic literature is by no means the equivalent of literature of the Egyptian Church, as this would include as well the Greek writings of the Fathers of the Church, and other Greek monuments of Egyptian origin. They will be found under the headings of their respective authors; see for instance Alexander; Saint Athanasius; Clement of Alexandria; Saint Cyril of Alexandria; Origen and Origenism; Theophilus of Alexandria. Patriarch of Alexandria. etc.
The Coptic Language is an offspring of the Egyptian, or rather it is that very same language in the various popular forms it had evolved when Egypt as a whole became Christian (third and fourth centuries). Consequently it appears in several dialects: the Sahidic (formerly called Theban), or dialect of Upper Egypt (Arab. Essa’id, “the high”); the Akhmimic, originally in use in the province of Akhmim, afterwards superseded by Sahidic; the Fayàmic, or dialect of the Fayàm; the Middle Egyptian; and the Bohairic (formerly Memphitic), i.e. the dialect of Bohaireh or the Region of the Lake (Mariàt?), a name now applied to the northwestern province of the Delta, of which Damanhàr is the seat of government. From the literary point of view the Sahidic and the Bohairic are by far the most important, although, as we shall see, the most ancient, and in some respects most valuable, Coptic manuscripts are in the Akhmimic dialect. The question of priority between these dialects—if understood of the greater or lesser similarity which they bear to the respective dialects of the ancient Egyptian from which they are derived, or of the time when they first came into use as Christian dialects—cannot, in the opinion of the present writer, be safely decided. All we can say is that we have no Bohairic manuscript or literary monument as old as some Sahidic manuscripts or literary monuments. The Coptic alphabet, some letters of which are peculiar to the one or the other of the dialects, is the Greek alphabet increased by six or seven signs borrowed from the Demotic to express sounds or combinations of sounds unknown to the Greeks. On the other hand, some of the Greek letters, like Œû [theta] and Œ® [psi] never occur except in Greek words. In all Coptic dialects Greek words are of frequent occurrence. Some of these undoubtedly had crept into the popular language even before the introduction of Christianity, but a good many must have been introduced by the translators to express ideas not familiar to the ancient Egyptians, or, as in the case of the particles, to give more suppleness or roundness to the sentence. Almost any Greek verb of common occurrence could be used in Coptic by prefixing to its infinitive auxiliaries, which alone were inflected. Thus, also, abstract substantives could be obtained by joining a Greek adjective to certain Coptic abstract prefixes, as, met-agathos, goodness, kindness. Frequently a Greek word is used along with its Coptic equivalent. Greek words which had, so to speak, acquired a right of citizenship, were often used to trans-late other Greek words such as molis for mogis, pule for thura. The relation of Coptic to Greek, from that point of view, is about the same as that of French or English to Latin, although in lesser proportion.
Scripture and Apocrypha.—Greek being the original language of the Church of Egypt, the first Coptic literary productions were naturally translations from the Greek. Undoubtedly the most important of such translations was that of the Bible into the several dialects spoken by the various native Egyptian communities. For these see Versions of the Bible. The Apocrypha were also translated and widely diffused, judging from the many fragments of manuscripts, especially in Sahidic, which have reached us. Such translations, however, unlike the versions of the Bible, are far from being faithful. The native imagination of the translators invariably leads them to amplify and embellish the Greek original. Among the Apocrypha of the Old Testament we must mention, first, the “Testament of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob“, in Bohairic, published by Prof. I. Guidi in the “Rendiconti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei”, March 18, 1900: “Il testo copto del Testamento di Abramo”; and April 22, 1900: “Il Testamento d’Isaaco e it Testamento di Giacobbe (testo Copto)”; then three Apocalypses of late Jewish origin: one anonymous (in Akhmimic) and the other two attributed to Elias (Akhmimic and Sahidie) and Sophonias (Sahidic). They have been published by G. Steindorff in Gebhardt and Harnack’s “Texte u. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur”, N. S., II; “Die Apokalypse des Elias: Eine unbekannte Apokalypse and Bruchstücke der Sophonias-Apokalypse” (text and translation, Leipzig, 1899). Part of the same texts had already been published and translated by Bouriant, “Les Papyrus d’Akhmïm” in “Mémoires publiés par les membres de la Mission Archéologique Francaise au Caire”, I (1881-4), pp. 261 sqq. and by Stern, “Die koptische Apokalypse des Sophonias” in “Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache”, etc., XXIV (1886), pp. 115 sqq. There is also a Sahidic fragment of an Apocalypse of Moses–Adam published by G. Schmidt and Harnack (“Sitzungsberichte d. Kgl. Preuss. Akad. d. Wiss.”, 1891, p. 1045) and one in Sahidic, too, of the Fourth Book of Esdras, published by Leipoldt and Violet (“Ein sahidisches Bruchstück d. vierten Esrabuches” in “Texte u. Untersuchungen”, N. S. XI, I b.).
The New Testament class is of course much more largely represented. Several apocryphal writings of the Gospel class have been published by F. Robinson, “Coptic Apocryphal Gospels, Translations together with the texts of some of them” etc., Cambridge, 1896 (Texts and Studies, IV, 2). The chief documents reproduced in this work are the “Life of the Virgin” (Sahidic), the “Falling Asleep of Mary” (Bohairic and Sahidic), and the “Death of St. Joseph” (Bohairic and Sahidic). The “Life of the Virgin” is somewhat similar to the “Protevangelium Jacobi”. The “Falling Asleep of Mary” exists also in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Arabic, and the Coptic texts may serve to throw light on the relations of these various recensions and on the origin of the tradition. The only other known text of the “Death of St. Joseph” is an Arabic one, more closely related to the Bohairic than to the Sahidic text. There is also among the papyri preserved at Turin a Sahidic version of the “Acta Pilati”published by Fr. Rossi, “l Papiri Copti del Museo Egizio di Torino” (2 vols., Turin, 1887-92), I, fast. 1, “Il Vangelo di Nicodemo.” Some Sahidic fragments published by Jacoby (“Ein neues Evangelium fragment”, Strasburg, 1900), and assigned by him to the Gospel of the Egyptians, are thought by Zahn to belong to the Gospel of the Twelve [Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, XI (1900), pp. 361-70]. To the Gospel of the Twelve Revillout assigns not only the Strasburg fragments and several of those published both by himself (“Apocryphes coptes du Nouveau Testament, Textes”, Paris, 1876) and Guidi (see below), but also a good many more Paris fragments which he publishes and translates. Other Paris fragments Revillout thinks belong to the Gospel of St. Bartholomew (Les Apocryphes coptes; I, Les Evangiles des douze Apotres et de S. Barthélemy” in Graffin-Nau, “Patrologia Orientalis”, II, 1, Paris, 1907). However, before the publication of Revillout appeared, the Paris texts had been published by Lacau, who found them to belong to five different codices corresponding to as many different writings all referring to the ministry or Passion and Resurrection of Christ. One would be the Gospel of Bartholomew and another the Apocalypse of the same Apostle (“Fragments d’Apocryphes de la Bibliothèque Nationale” in “Mémoires de la Mission frangaise d’archéologie orientale”, Cairo, 1904). According to Leipoldt we have the first evidence of a Coptic recension of the “Protevangelium Jacobi” in a Sahidic folio published by him [Zeitschrift fur Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, VI (1905), pp. 106, 107].
The apocryphal legends of the Apostles are still more numerous in the Coptic literature, where they constitute a group quite distinct and proper to Egypt, which seems to be their original home, although in vast majority translated from Greek originals into the Sahidic dialect. They were always popular, and long before Coptic ceased to be universally understood, some time between the eleventh and fourteenth century, they were translated into Arabic and then from Arabic into Ethiopic. Among the principal are the Preachings of St. James, son of Zebedee, St. Andrew, St. Philip, Sts. Andrew and Paul, and Sts. Andrew and Bartholomew; the Martyrdoms of St. James, son of Zebedee, St. James the Less, St. Peter, St. Paul; also the life by the Pseudo-Prochoros and the metastasis of St. John and a Martyrdom of St. Simon (different from the documents generally known under the names of “Preaching” and “Martyrdom” of that Apostle, and of which short fragments only have been preserved in Coptic). The texts of all these have been published by Professor I. Guidi in his “Frammenti Copti” (Rendiconti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei, III and IV, 1887-88), and “Di alcune pergamene Saidiche” (Rendiconti della R. Ace. dei Lincei, Classe di Scienze morali, storiche e filologiche, II, fasc. 7, 1893), and the translations in the same author’s “Gli atti apocrifi degli Apostoli” (Giornale della Società Asiatica Italiana, vol. II, pp. 1-66, 1888), and in his “Di alcune Pergamene”, just mentioned. The same documents have been to no small extent supplemented from St. Petersburg manuscripts by Oscar v. Lemm, in his “Koptische apocryphe Apostelacten” in “Mélanges Asiatiques tirés du Bulletin de l’Académie impériale de St Pétersbourg”, X, 1 and 2 [Bulletin, N. S., I and III (XXXIII and XXXV), 1890-92].
We close this section with the mention of two documents of more than usual interest: first, seven leaves of papyrus (Berlin P. 8502) of the praxeis Petrou and a considerable portion of the Acta Pauli (Heidelberg Copt. Papyrus I), in their original form (i.e. including the so-called “Acta Pauli et Theclae”). Both of these documents have been published, translated into German, and thoroughly discussed by C. Schmidt [“Die alten Petrusakten”, etc. in “Texte u. Unters.”, N. S., IX (1903); “Acta Pauli”, Leipzig, 1904, 2 vols. (vol. II, photographic reproduction of the Coptic text); 2d edit. (without photographic plates), Leipzig, 1905, 1 vol.].
Patrology.—Ante-Nicene Fathers.—But few Coptic translations from the Ante-Nicene Fathers have been preserved. As Dr. Leipoldt justly remarks, when the native Church of Egypt began to form its literature, the literary productions of the early Church had lost much of their interest. We have, however, two fragments of the letters of Ignatius of Antoch, published by Pitra (Anal. sacra, 255 sqq.) and Lightfoot (Apost. Fathers, II, III, London, 1889, 277 sqq.) and several of the “Shepherd” of Hermas, published by Leipoldt (Sitzungsberichte der K. Gesellsch. d. Wissensch. in Berlin, 1903, pp. 261-68), and Delaporte [Revue de l’Orient Chrétien, X (1905), pp. 424-33; XI (1906), pp. 31-41], and, what is more, two papyrus codices in Akhmimic dialect, one (Berlin) of the fourth, and the other (Strasburg) of the seventh or eighth century, both containing the first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians under its primitive title (Epistle to the Romans). The Berlin codex, which is almost complete, has just been published, with a German translation and an exhaustive commentary, by C. Schmidt (Der 1. Clemensbrief in altkoptischer Ueberlieferung untersucht u. herausgegeben, Leipzig, 1908). Extracts from the commentaries of Hippolytus of Rome, Irenaeus, and Clement of Alexandria are to be found in the famous Bohairic catena (dated A.D. 888) of Lord Zouche’s collection (Parham, 102; published by de Lagarde, “Catenae in Evangelia Aegyptiaca quae supersunt”, Göttingen, 1886). But it is very likely that this manuscript was translated from a Greek catena, and consequently it does not show that the writings of those Fathers existed independently in the Coptic literature. Clement of Alexandria, in any case, and also Origen, were considered as heretics, which would explain their absence from the repertory of the Coptic Church.
Post-Nicene Fathers.—The homilies, sermons, etc., of the Greek Fathers from the Council of Nicaea to that of Chalcedon were well represented in the Coptic literature, as we may judge from what has come down to us in the various dialects. In Bohairic we have over forty complete homilies or sermons of St. John Chrysostom, several of St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Gregory Nazianzen, Theophilus of Alexandria, and St. Ephraem the Syrian, while in Sahidic we find a few complete writings and a very large number of fragments, some quite considerable, of the homiletical works of the same Fathers and of many others, like St. Athanasius, St. Basil, Proclus of Cyzicus, Theodotus of Ancyra, Epiphanius of Cyprus, Amphilochius of Iconium, Severianus of Gabala, Cyril of Jerusalem, Eusebius of Caesarea, and the pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Liberius of Rome and St. Ephraem are also represented by several fragments of sermons. We need not say that these writings are not infrequently spurious, and that they can in no case be held up as models of translation.
The Bohairic part of this great mass of literature is still almost entirely unedited, we might say unexplored. Two sermons of St. Ephraem have been published, one, on the adulterous woman of the Gospel, by Guidi (Bessarione, Ann. VII, vol. IV, Rome, 1903), the other (fragment) on the Transfiguration by Budge (Proceedings of the Soc. of Bibl. Archaeology, IX, 1887, pp. 317 sqq.). Budge published also a large fragment of an encomium on Elijah the Tishbite attributed to St. John Chrysostom (Transactions of the Soc. Bibl. Arch., IX, 1893, pp. 355 ff.), and Amélineau, a sermon of St. Cyril of Alexandria on death (“Monuments pour servir a l’Histoire du Christianisme en Egypte aux IVe et Ve siècles—Mémoires publiés par les Membres de la Mission Archéologique Francaise an Caire, IV, 1888). As for the Sahidic portion, two homilies of St. John Chrysostom, of doubtful genuineness if not altogether spurious, and all the homiletical fragments of the Turin museum, were published and translated into Italian by Fr. Rossi in his “Papiri Coptici del Museo Egizio di Torino” (2 vols., Turin, 1887-92), and quite a number of fragments, often unidentified, were published in the catalogues of the various collections of Coptic manuscripts, principally in the catalogue of the Borgian collection by Zoega (“Catalogus codicum copticorum manuscriptorum”, etc., Rome, 1810; Latin translations generally accompany the texts). Among the Sahidic versions of Greek writings of this class and period we must mention, in view of their importance, first, a fragment of the Anxurotos of St. Epiphanius (J. Leipoldt, “`Epiphanios’ von Salamis `Ancoratus’, in Saidischer Uebersetzung” in “Berichte d. philol.—hist. Klasse d. Gesellsch. d. Wiss. zu Leipzig“, 1902); secondly, several fragments of the lost Festal Letters of S. Athanasius (C. Schmidt, “Der Osterbrief des Athanasius vom Jahre 367” in “Nachrichte d. K. Gesellsch. d. Wiss. zu Göttingen, Philol.—Hist. Kl”, 1898; “Ein Neues Fragment des Osterbriefes des Athanasius vom Jahre 367”, Göttingen, 1901; O. v. Lemm, “Zwei koptische Fragmente aus den Festbriefen des heiligen Athanasius” in “Recueil des travaux rédigés en memoire du jubilé scientifique de M. Daniel Chwolson”, Berlin, 1899).
Post-Chalcedon Fathers.—Only a few of these had the honor of a place in Coptic literature. The separation of the Church of Egypt from the Catholic world was complete after the deposition of her patriarch Dioscurus (451), and, in spite of the efforts of the Byzantine Court to bring back Egypt to unity by forcing orthodox pontiffs on her and by other means of coercion, the native Egyptians stubbornly refused their allegiance to the “intruders”, and from that time on would have nothing to do with the Greek world, the very name of which became an abomination to them. The chief exception was in favor of the works of Severus, the expelled Monophysite Patriarch of Antioch, who had taken refuge and died in Egypt. We have a complete encomium of his on St. Michael, in Bohairic, published by E. A. Wallis Budge (“St. Michael the Archangel: Three Encomiums” etc., London, 1894), several fragments of homilies in Sahidic, and a letter in Bohairic to the Deaconess Anastasia (cf. Wright, “Catalogue of Syriac manuscripts in the British Museum”, No. DCCCCL, 10). We may also mention here a panegyric of St. George, Martyr, by Theodosius, Monophysite Bishop of Jerusalem (d. after 453), published and translated into English by E. A. Wallis Budge, “The Martyrdom and Miracles of St. George of Cappadocia” (Oriental Text Series, I, London 1888). The constant political agitation in which the Monophysite successors of Dioscurus were involved accounts probably for the almost complete absence of their works from Coptic literature in general and in particular from this section. The only homilies or sermons we can record are, first, a sermon on the Assumption of the Virgin (already mentioned among the Apocrypha) and an encomium on St. Michael by Theodosius (the latter published by Budge, “Three Encomiums”, mentioned above), both in Bohairic and probably spurious; also a Sahidic fragment of a discourse pronounced by the same on the 11th of Thoth; secondly, a sermon on the Marriage at Cana, by Benjamin, in Bohairic; thirdly, the first sermon of Mark II on Christ’s Burial, also in Bohairic. Rarer still are the sermons or homilies by other bishops of Egypt. The only two names worthy of mention are those of John, Bishop of Parallou (Burlos), and Rufus of Shotep, both of unknown date; of the former we have one short Sahidic fragment of a discourse on “St. Michael and the blasphematory books of the heretics that are read in the orthodox churches”; of the latter, several important fragments of homilies on the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, also in Sahidic. (See Martyr; Monasticism.)
Church Discipline.—Among the various early collections of Apostolic precepts and church regulations which the Copts incorporated from the Greek into their native literature, we shall mention:
(I) The Didache.—It is true that up to the present this document is not known to be extant in Coptic except in so far as chapters iv-xiv of the Apostolic Church Ordinance (see below) are but a paraphrase of the first four chapters of the Didache as revealed to us by Bryennios. Towards the end of the last century, however, the first part of the Didache (chapters i-x, the so-called “Duae Viae”) was discovered imbedded in Shenàte’s Arabic life published by Amélineau (Monuments pour servir à l’histoire de l’Egypte chrétienne aux IVe et Ve siècles. Vie de Schnoudi”, pp. 289 sqq., in “Memoires publiés par les membres de la Mission archéologique francaise au Caire”, IV, Paris, 1888); and although that insertion is in Arabic, like the rest of the Life, its grammar is so thoroughly Coptic that there can be no doubt that it, also, was translated from a Coptic original. For further detail see Iselin and Hensler, who were first to make the discovery (“Eine bisher unbekannte Version des ersten Teiles der Apostellehre” in “Texte u. Untersuchungen”, XIII, I, 1895), and U. Benigni, who, three years later, quite independently from Iselin and Hensler, had reached the same conclusions [Didache Coptica: `Duarum viarum’ recensio Coptica monastica per arabicam versionem superstes, 2d ed., Rome, 1899 (Reprint from “Bessarione”, 1898)].
(2) The so-called Apostolic Church Ordinance, consisting of thirty canons, and extant both in Bohairic and in Sahidic. The former text was published and translated into English by H. Tattam (The Apostolical Constitutions or Canons of the Apostles, London, 1848, pp. 1-30), and retranslated into Greek by P. Botticher (later P. de Lagarde) in Chr. C. Bunsen’s “Analecta Ante-Nicaena” (London, 1864, II, 451-460); the latter text was edited, without translation, both by P. de Lagarde, in his “Aegyptiaca” (Göttingen, 1883, pp. 239-24g, Canons 0-30), and U. Bouriant, in “Les Canons Apostoliques de Clément de Rome; traduction en dialecte thébain d’après un manuscrit de la bibliothèque du Patriarche Jacobite du Caire” [in “Recueil de’ travaux relatifs à la philologie et a l’archéologie egyptienne et assyrienne”, V (1884), pp. 202-206].
(3) The Egyptian Church Ordinance, consisting ofthirty-two canons and extant, likewise, both in Bohairic and in Sahidic. The Bohairic was published and translated into English by H. Tattam (op. cit., pp. 31-92), and retranslated into Greek by P. Bötticher (in Bunsen’s “Analecta”, pp. 461-477). The Sahidic was published by de Lagarde, Aegyptiaca” (pp. 248-266, can. 31-62) and Bouriant (op. et loc. cit., pp. 206-216). A translation into German by G. Steindorff, from the edition of de Lagarde, is found in Achelis, “Die Kanones Hippolyti” (Leipzig, 1891, in “Texte u. Untersuchungen”, VI, 4, pp. 39 sqq.).
(4) An epitomized recension of sections 1-46 of the Eighth Book of the Apostolic Constitutions; also both in Bohairic (published and translated into English by H. Tattam, op. cit., pp. 93-172) and in Sahidic (published by de Lagarde, “Aegyptiaca”, pp. 266-291, canons 63-78, and Bouriant, op. cit., VI, pp. 97-109; examined and translated into German from the Lagarde edition, by Leipoldt, “Saïdische Auszüge”, etc., in “Texte u. Untersuchungen”, new series, I b, Leipzig, 1894). According to Leipoldt (op. cit., pp. 6-9), this abstract, in which the liturgical sections are either curtailed or entirely omitted, has much in common with the “Constitutiones per Hippolytum” not only in the choice of the selection, as already shown by Achelis, but also in point of style; the Coptic document is beyond doubt of Egyptian origin. Besides the above Bohairic and Sahidic texts, there is a fragment (de Lagarde, can. 72-78, 24) of another Sahidic text which, according to Leipoldt (who first published it and translated it into German, op. cit.), belongs to an older recension. The text published by de Lagarde and Bouriant is derived from an older recension, with corrections from the Greek Apostolic Constitutions as they were when the “Constitutiones per Hippolytum” were taken from them. On this theory of Leipoldt’s, however, see Funk, “Das achte Buch der apostolischen Konstitutionen in der Koptischen Ueberlieferung” in “Theologische Quartalschrift”, 1904, pp. 429-447).
The above three documents, (2), (3), (4), form one collection of 78 canons, under the following title: “These are the Canons of our holy Fathers the Apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which they established in the Churches”. As a whole they are known, since de Lagarde’s edition, as “Canones Ecclesiastici”. The Bohairic manuscript (Berlin, or. 4° 519) used by Tattam was translated, and the Sahidic one (library of the Jacobite Coptic patriarch) used by Bouriant was copied on the manuscript (British Museum or. 1320 dated A.D. 1006) reproduced by de Lagarde. Bouriant’s edition is faulty. A complete edition of the Canones Ecclesiastici and Canons of the Apostles (see below), with the Ethiopic and Arabic parallel texts and an English translation, is due to G. Horner (The Statutes of the Apostles or Canones Ecclesiastici, London, 1904). The author gives variant readings from several manuscripts for each version, and in a long introduction he examines the mutual relationships of the various texts.
(5) Canones Apostolorum.—A recension of Book VIII, 47, of the Apostolic Constitutions entitled: “The Canons of the Church which the Apostles gave through Clèmès [Clement]”. These canons are usually called Canones Apostolorum, with de Lagarde, by whom a Sahidic recension was first published (op. cit., pp. 201-238; published also by Bouriant, op. cit., VI, pp. 109-115). This recension contains 71 canons. A Bohairic recension of 85 canons, as in the Greek, was published and translated into English by H. Tattam (op. cit., pp. 173-214); published also by de Lagarde along with the Sahidic text (op. et loc. cit.).
(6) Canones Hippolyti.—A Sahidic fragment of the Paris collection (B. N. Copte 129 14 if. 71-78) contains a series of canons under the title of “Canons of the Church which Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome, wrote”. So far as the present writer knows, these canons have not yet been the object of a critical study; nor does it seem that they were ever published.
(7) The Canons of Athanasius, or rather the Coptic writing which underlies the Copto-Arabic collection of 107 canons bearing that name, are undoubtedly one of the oldest collections of church regulations and very likely rightly attributed by the tradition to St. Athanasius of Alexandria, and, in that case, perhaps to be identified with the “Commandments of Christ” which the Chronicle of John of Nikiu attributes to this Father of the Church and the “Canons of Apa Athanasius” mentioned in the catalogue of the library of a Theban monastery, which catalogue dates from about A.D. 600. The Sahidic text, unfortunately not complete, was published and translated (along with the Arabic text by Riedel) by Crum from a British Museum papyrus (sixth or seventh century) and two fragments of a manuscript on parchment (tenth century) preserved in the Borgian Collection (Naples) and the Rainer collection (Vienna), in Riedel and Crum’s “Canons of Athanasius of Alexandria“, London, 1904. To this work we are indebted for the information contained in this brief notice. Although this interesting document is a pure Egyptian production, there is but little doubt that it was originally written in Greek.
(8) The Canons of St. Basil, preserved in a Turin papyrus broken into many hopelessly disconnected fragments, which Fr. Rossi published and translated although he could not determine to what writing they belonged (I Papiri Copti del Museo Egizio di Torino, II fast. IV). Of late those fragments were identified by Crum, who, despairing of establishing their original order, arranged them for convenience according to the Arabic recension published by Riedel (Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien, Leipzig, 1900, p. 231) and translated them into English [“Coptic Version of the Canons of St. Basil” in “Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology”, XXVI (1904), pp. 81-92].
History.—Among the historical productions of Coptic literature, none of which can be highly commended, we shall mention:
(I) An Ecclesiastical History in twelve books, extending from a period we cannot determine, to the reestablishment of Timothy Aelurus as patriarch of Egypt. If we suppose that in this, as often in similar works, the author continued his narrative until his own times, it would seem almost certain that he wrote it in Greek. At all events the prominence given to the affairs of the Church of Alexandria shows him an Egyptian, as from his tone it is clear that he professed Monophysitism. Like so many other Coptic literary productions, the Ecclesiastical History reached us in the shape of fragments only. They are all in Sahidic, and once belonged to two different copies of the same work, or perhaps to two copies of two works very similar in scope and method. Both copies (or works) contain a number of passages translated (more frequently paraphrased, sometimes abridged) from the “Ecclesiastical History” of Eusebius. On the other side the Coptic work was heavily laid under contribution by Severus of Ashmunein in his “History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria“. Some of the fragments were published by Zoega in “Catalogus Codicum Copticorum”, with a Latin translation, some by O. v. Lemm, “Koptische Fragmente zur Patriarchengeschichte Alexandriens” (“Memoires de l’Acad. Imp. de S. Petersb.”, VIP ser., XXXVI, 11, St. Petersburg, 1888; and “Bulletin de l’Acad. Imp. de S. Petersb.”, 1896, IV, p. 237, in both cases with German translation; the others by Crum, “Eusebius and Coptic Church Histories” in “Proceedings of the Soc. of Bibl. Archaeology”, XXIV, 1902, with English translation).
(2) The Acts and Canons of the Council of Nicaea, preserved in Sahidic fragments in the Turin and Borgian collections. They have been published, translated into French, and discussed at length by E. Revillout, “Le Concile de Nicee d’apres les textes coptes et les diverses collections canoniques, I, textes, traductions et dissertation critique”, Paris, 1881 (Journal Asiatique, 1873-75); vol. II, “Dissertation critique (suite et fin)”, Paris, 1899. The author believes in the genuineness of this collection; see, however, the two excellent reviews of Vol. II by Batiffol (Revue de l’histoire des religions, XII, 1900, pp. 248-252) and Duchesne (Bulletin critique, 1900, I, pp. 330-335).
(3) The Acts of the Council of Ephesus, of which we have considerable fragments of a Sahidic text in the Borgian and Paris collections. The fragments of the former collection were published by Zoega, “Catalogus”, pp. 272-280, with a Latin translation; those of the latter collection by Bouriant, “Actes du concile d’Ephese: texte Copte publie et traduit” (“Memoires publies par la Mission archeol, francaise au Caire”, VIII, Paris, 1892). The Paris fragments have also been translated into German and thoroughly discussed by Kraaz, with the help of C. Schmidt, “Koptische Acten zum Ephesinischer Konzil vom Jahre 431” (Texte u. Untersuchungen, new series, XI, 2, Leipzig, 1904). Kraaz thinks that this recension is the work of an Egyptian and, in substance, a good representative of the Greek documents already known. These fragments contain, however, additional information not entirely devoid of historical value.
(4) The so-called “Memoirs of Dioscurus”, a Monophysitical counterpart of the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon. It is in the shape of a Bohairic panegyric of Macarius, Bishop of Tkhou, delivered by Dioscurus during his exile at Gangree in presence of the Egyptian delegates who had come to announce to him the death of Macarius. The publication of that curious document with French translation and commentary was begun by Revillout under the title of “Récits de Dioscore exile à Gangres sur le concile de Chalcédoine” (Revue Egyptologique, I, pp. 187-189, and II, pp. 21-25, Paris, 1880, 1882), published and translated into French by E. Amélineau, “Monuments pour servir” (Mémoires publiés, etc., IV, Paris, 1888), pp. 92-164. As against Revillout, Amélineau asserts the spuriousness of these Acts. Almost immediately after the latter’s publication, Krall published and translated some Sahidic fragments which exhibited a better recension of the same document, and show that in this, as in other cases, the Bohairic text was translated from the Sahidic. In disagreement with Amélineau, Krall thinks it more probable that the Memoirs of Dioscurus were originally written in Greek, and sees no reason to doubt their genuineness (“Koptische Beiträge zur Ägyptischen Kirchengeschichte “in “Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer”, IV, p. 67, Vienna, 1888). In 1903 Crum published copies by A. des Rivieres of ten leaves of a papyrus codex, once a part of the Harris collection, now lost. Three of those leaves belonged to the panegyric of Macarius, while the others were part of a life of Dioscurus, of which a Syriac recension was published by Nau (“Histoire de Dioscore, patriarche d’Alexandrie écrite par son disciple Théophiste” in “Journal Asiatique”, Serie X, t. I, pp. 5-108, 241-310). Nau thinks that the Syriac and Coptic recensions of the life are independent of each other, which points to a Greek original for that document and probably also for the panegyric (Notes sur quelques fragments coptes relatifs a Dioscore, ibid., t. II, pp. 181-4).
(5) A correspondence in Bohairic between Peter Mongus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople. It includes the Henoticon which Zeno issued at the suggestion of Acacius. It was published in a French translation by E. Revillout, “Le premier schisme de Constantinople” [Revue des questions historiques, XXII (1877), Paris, pp. 83-134], and by Amélineau, “Lettres de Pierre Monge et d’Acace” (Monuments pour servir, etc.; Mémoires publiés par les Membres de la Mission Archéologique francaise au Caire, IV, pp. 196-228). This correspondence is obviously spurious.
(6) On another document possibly of greater historical interest, but too short or too badly preserved to be of any practical use, see Crum, “A Coptic Palimpsest” in “Proceed. of the Soc. of Bibl. Arch“, XIX (1897), pp. 310-22 (Justinian times; name of Zoilus occurs). Two Sahidic fragments of the lives of a certain Samuel, superior of a monastery, and Patriarch Benjamin, both of whom lived at the time of the Arabic conquest, furnished E. Amélineau with the basis of a new solution of the problem as to the identity of the Makaukas [“Fragments coptes pour servir à l’hist. de la conquète de l’Egypte par les Arabes” in “Journal Asiatique”, VIII Série., t. XII, pp. 361-410. Cf. A. J. Butler, “On the Identity of Al Mukaukis” in “Proceedings Soc. of Bibl. Arch.”, XXIII (1901), pp. 275 sqq.].
There is also quite a number of Sahidic fragments of lives or encomiums of patriarchs and bishops, etc. which either have not yet been examined or have proved to contain none of the historical information often to be found in documents of their nature.
Liturgy.—The Coptic liturgy was derived from the ancient Alexandrine liturgy by the simple way of translation. The fact that in all the principal Coptic liturgical books most of the parts recited by the deacon (Diakonika), the responses by the people, and several prayers by the priest appear in Greek, even to this day, bears sufficient witness to the correctness of this statement. The change of language did not take place everywhere at the same time. At any rate it was gradual. The vernacular Coptic appeared first in the side column, or on the opposite page, as an explanation of the Greek text, which was no longer sufficiently intelligible to the people. In course of time the Greek disappeared entirely, with exception of the Diakonika and corresponding responses, which, on account of their shortness and frequent recurrence, continued to be familiar to the people. The most ancient relics of Coptic liturgy are all in the Sahidic dialect, a fact which by itself, perhaps, would not be a sufficient reason for asserting that in the north of Egypt Bohairic was not used as a liturgical language as early as the Sahidic in Upper Egypt; although, for reasons which time and space do not allow us to discuss, this seems quite probable. For several centuries Bohairic, which was the liturgical language adopted by the Jacobite patriarchs when they gave up Greek, has been the sole sacred idiom all over Egypt. The substitution of the Northern dialect for the Southern one probably took place by degrees and was not completed until about the fourteenth century, when Sahidic ceased to be generally understood by the faithful. It was not a mere substitution of language, but one of recension as well, as evidenced by the remains of the Sahidic liturgy.
The literature of the Coptic Liturgy, as now in force, comprises the following books: Euchologium’ (Arabic, KhulƒÅgï).—Like the Euchologion to mega of the Greeks, it is a combination of the Euchologion with the leitourgikon. It includes, therefore, not only the Liturgy proper, or Mass, with the Diaconicum (which contains the part of the deacon and responses of the people), but also all the various liturgical matter pertaining to the Pontifical and Ritual. It contains in addition the services of the morning and of the evening incense, performed at Vespers, Matins, and Prime. The Mass consists of (I) the Ordo Communis (Prothesis and Mass of the Catechumens), which never varies; (2) the Mass of the Faithful or Anaphora, of which there are three varieties: St. Basil’s for ordinary days; St. Cyril’s (a recension of the Alexandrine Anaphora of St. Mark) for the month of Choiac (Advent) and Lent, and St. Gregory Nazianzen’s for feast days.
The Euchologium was edited by Raphael Tuki in three books under both Coptic and Arabic titles, which we translate as follows: (I) “Book of the three Anaphoras, namely, those of St. Basil, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. Cyril, with the other holy prayers”, Rome, Propaganda, 1736, pp. 282, 389—Contents: Evening Incense, and Morning Incense with the proprium temporis thereto; Mass, including the three Anaphoras; Prayers Before and After Meals, Blessing of the Water, and the Ordo Renovationis Calicis. (2) “Book containing all the holy prayers”, ibid., 1761-2, 2 vols.—Contents: I, Ordinations, Blessing of Religious Habit, Enthronization of Bishops, Consecration of myron (Holy Chrism) and Churches (676 pages); II, Consecration of Altars and Sacred Vessels, Blessing of Church Vestments, Sacred Pictures, Relics, Consecration of Churches (if rebuilt) and Baptismal Fonts; Blessing of the Boards used for the Heikel (Holy of holies); Reconciliation of the same if replaced because decayed or if desecrated; Special Services for the Epiphany, Maundy Thursday, Pentecost, the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul; Reconciliation of persons guilty of apostasy and other special crimes; Blessing of the Oil, Water, and Loaf for one bitten by a mad dog, etc., etc. (515 pages). (3) “Book of the Service of the Holy Mysteries, Funerals of the Dead, Canticles, and one month of the Katameros” (this last item, a reduction of the work of the same name described hereunder, is printed here for convenience). The three books just described are generally referred to as “Missale Copto-Arabice”, “Pontificale Copto-Arabice”, and “Rituale Copto-Arabice”, although these designations do not appear on the title pages nor elsewhere in the books. Neither does the name of the editor (Tuki) appear.
The Missale has been edited anew with a slightly different arrangement, both in Coptic and Arabic, under the title: “Euchologium of the Alexandrine Church“, Cairo, Catholic Press of St. Mark, Era of the Martyrs 1614 (A.D. 1898). Another Egyptian edition (Jacobite?) of the Missale (Cairo, 1887) is mentioned by Brightman (Liturgies Eastern and Western, I, p. lxvii), and a Jacobite “genuine” edition of the “Euchologium [complete?] from manuscript sources” (Cairo, 1902), by Crum (Realencyklopädie fur protestantische Theologie, 3d edition, XII, p. 810). The Missal edited by Tuki does not differ from the oldest manuscript of the Vatican Library (thirteenth cent.), except that the names of Dioscurus, Severus of Antioch, and Jacobus Baradus have been expunged from the diptychs, and that of the pope added to them, the mention of Chalcedon introduced after that of Ephesus, and the Filioque inserted in the Creed. As for his Pontifical and Ritual, they certainly contain everything that is essential and common to the majority of good codices. Naturally the latter vary both in the arrangement and in the selection of prayers according to their origin and date of compilation. Tuki’s Ordo Communis, and St. Basil’s Anaphora, with rubrics in Latin only, were reprinted by J. A. Assemani, “Missale Alexandrinum”, pars II, pp. 1-90, in “Codex Liturgicus”, VII (Rome, 1754). John, Marquess of Bute, published also an edition of the Morning Incense, Ordo Communis (from Tuki’s text with some additions), and St. Basil’s Anaphora (from Tuki’s?): “The Coptic Morning Service for the Lord’s Day” (London, 1882), pp. 35 sqq. (See Brightman, op. et loc. cit.)
There has been no complete translation. The Ordo Communis and the three Anaphoras have been translated into (I) Latin, (a) from an Arabic (Vienna?) manuscript by Victor Scialach,” Liturgiae Basilii Magni, Gregorii Theologi, Cyrilli Alexandrini ex Arabico conversae” (Vienna, 1604—reprinted in “Magna Bibliotheca Patrum”, Paris, 1654, t. VI); (b) from a Paris Coptic manuscript by Renaudot, “Liturgiarum Orientalcum Collectio” (2 vols., Paris; Frankfort, 1847), I; (2) English, (a) from “an old manuscript”, by Malan, “Original Documents of the Coptic Church; V, the Divine Euchologion ” (London, 1875); (b) from a manuscript now in the library of Lord Crawford, by Rodwell, “The Liturgies of St. Basil, St. Gregory and St. Cyril from a Coptic manuscript of the thirteenth century” (London, 1870). The Ordo Communis and St. Basil’s Anaphora in Latin, by Assemani, from Tuki’s Arabic (op. et loc. cit.); in English from Renaudot’s Latin, by Neale, “History of the Eastern Church” (London, 1850), introduction, pp. 381 sqq., 532 sqq. The Ordo Communis and St. Cyril’s Anaphora (from Bodleian manuscripts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries), by Brightman (op. cit., pp. 144-188). Morning Incense, Ordo Communis, and St. Basil’s Anaphora, by John, Marquess of Bute (op. cit.).
Horarium (Arab. Agbiah, Egbieh), corresponding to our Breviary, edited by R. Tuki under the following title (Coptic and Arabic): “A Book of the seven prayers of the day and of the night” (Rome, 1750), generally referred to as “Diurnum Alexandrinum Copto-Arabicum” [Morning (Prime), Terce, Sext, None, Evening (Vespers), Sleep (Complin), Prayer of the veil (extra-canonical?), Midnight (Matins)]. This book is intended for private recitation and gives but an imperfect idea of the office as performed in the monasteries or even in the churches where a numerous clergy is in attendance.
Katameros (Gr. Kata meros, Arab. Kutmarus) contains the portions of the Psalms, Acts, Catholic Epistles, St. Paul’s Epistles, and the Gospels which are read at the canonical Hours and Mass. It is divided into three volumes: (I) from Thoth to Mechir; (II) from the beginning of Lent to Pentecost inclusive; (III) from Pachon to the Epagomene days which the Copts called the “little month” or in Arabic, the “forgotten days”. The Katameros for the two weeks from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday has been published under the Coptic and Arabic title of “Book of the Holy Pasch according to the rite of the Alexandrine Church” (Catholic Press of St. Mark, Cairo, 1899). This portion of the Katameros contains numerous lessons from the Old Testament (see Versions of the Bible). Its arrangement is attributed to Gabriel Ibn Tureik, seventieth patriarch (d. 1145). Mai (Scriptorum veterum nova collectio, IV, Rome, 1831, pp. 15-34) gives a table of the Gospels for feasts and fasts and for Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays of the year. Malan (Original Documents of the Coptic Church, IV, London, 1874) gives the Sunday Gospels and versicles for Vespers, Matins, and Mass for the year. De Lagarde tabulated all the lessons and Psalms from Athyr to Mechir, and from Epiphi to the “little month”, also those for Lent and the Ninevites’ fast, for the Sundays of Eastertide, and for the principal feasts (Abhandlungen d. histor-philol. Klasse d. Kgl. Gesellsch. d. Wiss. zu Göttingen, XXIV, 1879).
The Psalmodia.—This is a collection of poetical compositions in honor of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, the saints and the angels, sung during the various services, especially at Vespers, Matins, and Prime. They form two distinct systems, one of which, called Theotokia, is most elaborate, and, as its name indicates, deals exclusively with the Mother of God. The other, the Doxologia, extends to all saints. A compendium of this book has been published by Tuki, under the Coptic and Arabic title “Book of the Theotokia and Katataxis of the month of Choiac” (Rome, 1746), 344 pp. The book is the subject of an interesting study by Mallon, “Les Théotokies ou office de la Sainte Vierge clans le rite copte” in “Revue de l’Orient Chrétien” (1904), IX, pp. 17-31.
Of the Sahidic recension (or recensions) of the Egyptian Liturgy we have fragments from the various books, which books seem to have been the same as in the Bohairic recension. The most interesting of those relics belong to the Liturgy proper or Mass, to the Anaphoras principally. Of these the Churches of Upper Egypt apparently had a large number, for we have portions of those of St. Cyril, St. Gregory, St. Matthew, St. James, St. John of Bosra, and of several others not yet identified. Some have been published and translated by Giorgi (Lat. tr.), Krall (Ger. tr.), and Hyvernat (Lat. tr. only). For the titles of the publications and further information on nature of fragments published, see Brightman, “Liturgies Eastern and Western” (Oxford, 1896), I, pp. lxviii-lxix. There are also important relics of the Diaconicum, probably enough to reconstruct that book entirely (one fragment published by Giorgi, “Fragmentum Evangelii Sti. Joannis” etc., Rome, 1789, a very large number of fragments of the Katameros, lectionaries, and not a few hymns (some of them popular rather than liturgical) which of late have aroused the interest of students of Coptic poetry [see Junker, “Koptische Poesie des 10. Jahrhunderts” in “Oriens Christianus” (1906), VI, pp. 319-410; with literature on the subject complete and up-to-date]. The fragments in British Museum and Leiden Collections have been published in full in the catalogues of Crum (pp. 144-161, 969-978) and Pleyte-Boeser. A complete edition and translation of the Sahidic liturgy is being prepared (1909) by the writer of this article for the “Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium”.
VII. COPTO-ARABIC LITERATURE.—Long before Coptic became extinct as a spoken idiom it had ceased to be a literary language. The change seems to have taken place about the tenth century. The old Coptic literature continued for some centuries to be copied for the benefit of a few, but at the same time the work of translating it into Arabic was being carried on on a large scale and must have been completed early in the thirteenth century, at the latest. John of Semenàd, who about 1240 composed a Coptic lexicon of the liturgical language, is highly praised by one of his successors, Abà Ishaq Ibn al-`Assal, for having realized the uselessness of composing, as used to be done before, dictionaries extending to the whole literature. This remark would hardly be intelligible if the translating of the non-liturgical part of Coptic literature had not then been completed, much less if it had not yet begun. Those early translations include not only the works already reviewed in the preceding section of this article, but a good many more now lost in the Coptic version or translated anew from the Greek or the Syriac originals. Among the latter are quite a number of Nestorian writers, expurgated when necessary. But the glory of the Copto-Arabic literature lies in its original writings. We have already mentioned (see above, V.) the three historians of the Coptic Church, Severus of Ashmànein, Eutychius, and Al-Makïn. The authors of new Canons are: Christodulos, sixty-sixth patriarch, 1047-77; Cyrillus II, sixty-seventh patriarch, 1078-92; Macarius, sixty-ninth patriarch, 1103-29; Gabriel Ibn Tureik, seventieth patriarch, 1131-45; Cyrillus III Ibn Laqlaq, seventy-fifth patriarch, 1235-43, and Michael, Metropolitan of Damietta, twelfth century.—Collectors of Canons: Abà Solh Ibn Bana, eleventh cent., Macarius, fourteenth cent. (if not to be identified with the Simeon Ibn Maqara, mentioned by Abà ‘l-Barakat).—Compilers of Nomo-Canons: Michael of Damietta, twelfth cent., Abà ‘l-Fadail Ibn al-`Assal, thirteenth cent., etc. (see Riedel, “Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien”, Leipzig, 1900).—Hagiographers are represented by Peter, Bishop of Melig, twelfth and thirteenth cent., credited by Abà ‘l-Barakat with the composition of the Sinaksari or martyrology, and Michael, also Bishop of Melig, fifteenth cent., to whom the same book is also attributed (probably because he revised and completed the work of his predecessor).—Severus of Ashmfinein, Peter of Melig, Abà Ishaq Ibn al-‘Assal and his brother Abà ‘l-Fadail Ibmi al-‘Assal are the chief representatives of theology, as Severus of Ashmànein and Abà ‘l-Farag Ibn al-‘Assal, thirteenth cent., are of Scriptural studies, and John Abu Zakariah Ibn Saba and Gabriel V, eighty-eighth patriarch (fifteenth century), of liturgy; John’s treatise “Gauharat an-nafisah” (Precious Gem) has been published (Cairo, 1902).—For the grammarians and lexicographers, several of whom have already been mentioned in one connection or another, see the excellent study of A. Mallon, S.J., “Une école de savants Egyptiens au moyen age” in “Melanges de la faculte Orientale de l’universite Saint Joseph“, I, pp. 109-131, II, pp. 213-264. There remains to mention the great ecclesiastical encyclopedia of the Coptic Church, the “Lamp of Darkness and Illumination of the Church Service” of Shams al-Riasah Abà ‘l-Barakat Ibn Kibr (1273-1363). This stupendous work sums up, so to speak, the four centuries of literary activity we have just reviewed. (See Riedel, op. cit., pp. 15-80.)