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well known. AEgyptus, they say, was the brother of Danaus; and you remember the attempt made by the fifty daughters of this latter, to murder their husbands, who were all sons of the former. Danaus, who had planned and devised this criminal deed, was obliged to leave the country with his daughters. After much wandering, they arrived at Argos, where the king Pelasgus, or Sthenelus, received them with hospitality. At the death of Pelasgus, Danaus, having taken possession of the throne, gave his name to these people, who were then called Danai, whilst the Egyptians derived their name from his brother Ægyptus. Unfortunately however, for this account of the Greek historians, and even of the poet AEschylus, who has written a tragedy upon it, there is no mention made by the chronological canons of Egypt, of any sovereign who had borne this name of Egyptus, or any thing like it. Manetho indeed, speaking of Sethosis Ramesses, son of Amenophis III., and the chief of the nineteenth dynasty, relates, that Sethosis being on the point of setting out for a distant expedition, entrusted to his brother Armais the government of Egypt. This ferocious man, as soon as he saw himself free from the authority of Sethosis, began to tyrannize over the people, and even to form schemes how to possess himself of the supreme power. Sethosis, however, being informed of the wicked designs of his brother, returned to Egypt, and obliged Armais to leave the country, which he had polluted with his
crimes. He sought an asylum in Greece, where he took the name of Danaus. Such is the account we have from Manetho, which seems to acquire a greater degree of probability from the consideration of the epoch of the arrival of Danaus at Argos being the same with the reign of Sethosis in Egypt. But whether Danaus concealed from the Greeks the real cause of his banishment, or whether they had lost the recollection of the fact, it seems quite established beyond dispute, that the fable of his fifty daughters, whom they lodged in hell, to serve as an example to all criminal wives, is a mere imagination of their own.
The case is a little different in regard to the name of Ægyptus, which they gave to Sethosis, the brother of their Danaus. As they did not know the name of the Egyptian king who had expelled Danaus, they applied or rather extended to him the appellation by which they distinguished the country over which he reigned ; but in process of time their descendants, who knew nothing of the origin of this name, thought that the country itself had received from its king the name of Egypt, Αιγυπτος. .
Be this as it may, this name of Egypt seems a corruption of the Egyptian word Kupt, to which the Greeks added the syllable ai, and the termination os, and made Auyunt, and then Asyuaroç. The signification of this word Kupt, or Gupt, is simply a Copt, that is, an inhabitant of that country, which we now call Egypt, but which, by the Egyptians
themselves, was called Klus, (Kemi), or Kheee, (Keme), a name which we find in the enchorial or demotic text of the Rosetta stone, Kees, that is, Kmi, leaving out the intermediate vowel h ore, always corresponding to that of ALYUTTOC, of the Greek translation. It means black, and it seems that it was so called on account of the black mud which the waters of the Nile left on the land. For this fact we have the authority of Herodotus; and it is even mentioned by Virgil, in the fourth of the Georgics, who says,
Et viridem Ægyptum Nigrâ fecundat arenâ.
If from the etymology and ancient name of this celebrated country, we turn our attention to its extent, and endeavour to establish its limits, we shall find that it was the theatre of long and fatal revolutions. The difficulties which present themselves to an inquiry of this sort, become greater in proportion to the distance of time, and the unfaithfulness of the historical records, mostly written by foreigners, that have reached us. We must therefore, not be astonished at finding this country so very different from what it has been, when under a wise and enlightened legislation. . The people, who had already acquired a very high degree of civilization, assisted to the utmost of their power the efforts of nature, under one of the most favoured climates upon earth. The misfortunes to which this country has been exposed, have terribly changed the appearance of the greatest
portion of its territory. Formerly covered with gigantic monuments, populous cities, superb buildings, and magnificent temples, it now presents the appearance of a vast desert. The alteration is dreadful! The mighty people who once inhabited this land, raised on the banks of the Nile immortal vouchers of their existence; the degenerate people who now dwell in and tyrannize over this land, tread under foot the precious relics of these magnificent monuments, and dare to call those who raised them their ancestors. Egypt, therefore, as it now groans under the tyrannical yoke of the Turks, is very far from resembling Egypt, smiling and flourishing under the enlightened sway of the Pharaohs. Accounts of all sorts have made us acquainted with Egypt as it is ; we must endeavour to obtain some knowledge of Egypt as it formerly WaS. This country, properly speaking, is but a long valley, which runs from the south to the north, following all the while the course of the Nile, for more than four hundred miles. At its latter extremity, towards the Mediterranean, it becomes considerably wider, and offers a free passage to the several branches into which the Nile divides itself. Surrounded almost on all sides by arid deserts and mountains, and on the north by the sea, this country is thus bounded by natural limits, which seem perfectly immutable; but these have seldom been its political boundaries. From time immemorial it seems that Lybia formed one of the provinces of Egypt; and Manetho relates an insurrection of these people against the Pharaoh Nekhérophés, the first king of the third dynasty, who lived 5152 years before Christ. From what I shall have to state in a future Lecture concerning the mode of computing Egyptian chronology, we may date the reign of this prince about the year 2900 before the Christian era; which evidently proves that from almost the very beginning of the Egyptian monarchy Lybia was under the control of the Pharaohs. In fact the ruins which we still discover in the Oasis, and particularly at the village or town of Siouah, seem to confirm the report of the ancient writers. You know that the Oases are portions of land irrigated by rivulets, which produce vegetation, and assist agriculture in this part of the world, so entirely surrounded by a sandy desert. They are separated from the rest of the world, and seem like islands in the middle of a frightful solitude. The only road by which they can be approached is over a long and desolated tract of land, deprived of every particle of verdure, without the least appearance of humidity, and dried up by the burning rays of the sun. Their Egyptian name is owz-2,e (Ouase, or, in the Thebaic dialect, Ouahe) of which the Greeks have made Oasis. Herodotus mentions only one of them; Strabo three, and fixes their situation correctly. The first is called the great, the second the small, and the third the Oasis of Ammon.