Language And Literature Of Egypt. Nothing is positively known of the origin and chronology of the old Egyptian language. Though very distinct, it indicates some affinity to the Semitic languages, but not as great a relationship as exists between Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Assyrian. Besides the analogy in the mode of writing, which omits many vowels and gives the words only in skeleton, there are numerous coincidences in the vocabulary. The Berber, Saho, and Galla languages, which are considered one in origin with Semitic tongues, have also an unmistakable affinity with Egyptian. The Semitic character of the language is specially maintained by Benfey, Ernst Meir, Karl Lottner, F. Muller, De Rouge, Ebers, Brugsch, and Lepsius. Some words, however, are Indo-European, and Pott, Ewald, and Renan have placed Egyptian in that family of languages. Ewald and Renan are of late less positive, and the internal evidence seems sufficient to establish some relationship between Semitic and Egyptian. The history of the development and decay of the language has not yet been traced; only the four distinct graphic systems, hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, and Coptic, can safely be confined within chronological limits. The time of the development of the old and full hieroglyphic writing is unknown.
It was perfectly understood and freely used in the time of the 3d and 4 th dynasties, which renders it probable that the date of its discovery must be placed much earlier than 3000 B. C. The use of this writing was not confined to the sacerdotal classes, as was formerly believed on the authority of the Greeks, but it was employed by all, and for all purposes. Though shorter methods of writing were afterward devised, the hieroglyphic or pictorial representation of the language continued in use for important state documents, inscriptions, and religious compositions, and is found, accompanied by transcriptions in demotic and in Greek, down to the Roman emperor Decius, and, if Lenor-mant's reading is correct, as late as the usurpation of the government of Egypt by Achilles, who was put to death by Diocletian, A. D. 296. The spread of Christianity in Egypt caused a proscription of the hieroglyphics, because they are full of mythological allusions and sensual figures. The wants of a reading and writing nation led at an early period to the use of linear hieroglyphics in long documents, which subsequently developed into a cursive hand, called the hieratic.
The great body of Egyptian literature has reached us through this character, the reading of which can only be determined by resolving it first into its prototype hieroglyphics. It is not possible to fix the time of the first use of hieratic writing; but from the actual preservation of several hieratic papyri of the 11th dynasty, presenting it as a perfectly distinct and well developed mode of writing, it is safe to conclude that it must have come into use long before 2000 B. C. The demotic indicates a rise of the vulgar tongue into literary use, which took place about the beginning of the 7th century B. C, when it was brought into fashion by the great social revolution in the reign of Psammetik (Psammetichus). The oldest demotic papyrus found, now in the Turin museum, dates from the 45th year of his reign, or 620 B. C. The demotic was used to transcribe hieroglyphic and hieratic papyri and inscriptions into the vulgar idiom till the 2d century A. D., and the gradual transition from the obscure and difficult demotic to the more intelligible Coptic alphabet can be easily discerned.
Demotic words were occasionally transcribed in Greek letters, pure Coptic occasionally in the demotic characters, and again demotic in Greek letters, with the sounds not found in Greek preserving their original signs, which was in reality the Coptic alphabet. Coptic is the exclusive character of the Christian Egyptian literature, and marks the last development or final decay of the Egyptian language, which became almost extinct during the last century, and made way for Arabic. (See Coptic Language.) - To understand the varied use of the hieroglyphic signs which make up the language, it is necessary to inquire how this system of writing came to be established. There are traces in Egyptian of a purely pictorial stage, when, as in the North American and Mexican graphic pictures, no attempt was made at recording particular words, but only ideas, which could be read in any language whatever. The great pictures on temple walls and the vignettes in the funeral rituals were probably the original text, expounded subsequently by writing proper, and ultimately preserved as illustrations.
After this period of ideographs, or picturing the thing itself instead of tracing signs to suggest the name of it, the Egyptians learned in very early times to use certain objects symbolically to represent abstract ideas, actions, and relations, like goodness and anger, to adore and to rule; thus an irritated ape stood for anger, a lute for goodness, a man lifting his hands for adoration, and a whip for ruling. When no symbol could be found to convey such abstract ideas, the discovery was probably made that the sound of its name might be depicted by an object of which the name was the same or nearly the same in sound; just as in English the verb "can" might be represented by a can. This system of suggesting an idea by the picture of a different idea which accidentally had the same sound for its name, became the source of great confusion; and this led to the addition of determinative signs expressing the idea of the hieroglyphs which denoted the sound; and the subsequent desire of using consistently a selection of objects for representing names of other objects than themselves gave rise to the syllables and alphabetics. Hieroglyphs are therefore either ideographs or phonetics.
The ideographs (of which there are about 900) are used in various ways: 1, directly, or representing the object itself intended to be expressed; 2, indirectly, or expressing the idea subjectively; 3, tropically, intended to convey only the quality of the object represented; 4, putting the cause for the effect, as a whip for to rule; 5, putting the effect for the cause, as a fallen man for to kill; 6, putting sacred animals and other symbols for the deities to which they belonged. The determinatives are also a subdivision of ideographs, though some phonetics are occasionally used as such, and form a class of about 200 hieroglyphs. They convey an idea either directly or indirectly connected with the sense of the word to which they are attached. The determinatives generally follow an ideograph, as a lion, where the lion is followed by the hieroglyph of a skin, which is determinative of all animals, and here shows that the lion is to be read lion, not simply r. Certain words have two determinatives, as young troops, where the boy expresses the special nature of the troops, and the three men the determinative conditions or kinds of men. When two determinatives were required, one sometimes preceded and the other followed the phonetic group, or occurred in the second place after a phonetic ; and sometimes a phonetic was used as a determinative of a sound not afterward attached to it. Thus the determinative lion which is the phonetic for r or I is not sounded in (shulc), to repulse. All groups, with the exception of the verb to be, pronouns, and prepositions, are followed by a determinative. Every hieroglyphic word in fact consists of two portions : one or more hieroglyphs expressing its sound, and one hieroglyph expressing its idea. All hieroglyphs used phonetically are sounded as the original name of the object which they represent. The so-called alpha-betics are single syllables composed of two vowels. The syllabic phonetics represent dissyllables, as (aw), sometimes written with its second vowel (u); (fi), sometimes written (fi); and trisyllables, each terminating with a vowel, as (mer), composed of (mu), = (mu), and (ru). Some phonetic hieroglyphs are found in the place of others in groups expressing the same idea, and are called homophones. Some alphabetic and syllabic hieroglyphs have sometimes the hieroglyph nearest approaching to their sound placed before them. Phonetics are used to express entire words, principally of an abstract nature, as the verbs to be and to have, the pronouns, prepositions, adverbs, interjections, and other words often used, as (neb), a lord. They often express an entire word with only the aid of determinatives denoting the genus of the idea. Phonetics were also used to complete or indicate the meaning of certain ideographs and determinatives, and in this case are generally placed after them. In a few instances groups of ideographic hieroglyphs are used for phonetic purposes, and again some phonetics occur as determinatives of other phonetics. The form or which sometimes interchange, was indifferently prefixed to certain nouns, and to some verbs. The following is a list of alphabetics in common use:
The following are some of the principal deities and important places:
Amn, Amen, Jupiter.
Bast, Bubastis, Diana.
Haihar, Athyr, Ve-nus.
Mut, wife of Amen-Ra, Thermontis.
Ra, the Sun.
Teti, Thoth, Mercury.
Khem or Min, Chem. (Ithyphallic god.)
- The Egyptian wrote with a reed and a palette, with two small oval wells of red and black ink, tracing the hieroglyphs in outline and in black, and commencing paragraphs, directions, and repetitions in red. Hieroglyphical papyri, in rolls about 10 inches wide, and often 150 feet long, present one continuous text of vertical lines, without any separation into pages. The hieroglyphs used in sculpture were generally embellished with colors, and cut from a line to an inch deep, the outline being countersunk, and the details elaborately carved on the inner surface. This protected the texts from ordinary injury and the ravages of time. Most of the hieroglyphs are only relieved by a single color, and it is often necessary to consult the polychromatic texts to determine the character of objects that are now unknown or too crudely represented. Of the colors of the monochromes, black was chiefly used during the 4th and several of the subsequent dynasties, in the 19th dynasty, and still later for sculptures in alabaster; blue, the favorite color of the Egyptians, belongs to all times, but chiefly to the 12th and 18th dynasties; green was used in the 13th, and yellow at the close of the 18th and the commencement of the 19th dynasty.
The polychromes imitate, according to Egyptian notions, the color of the objects which they represent: blue, celestial objects, water, liquids, some metals, and edifices; green, trees, vegetable substances, and bronze; red, human flesh, earthenware, and the sun; yellow, light, wood, and some animals; black, hair, and several animals. The order in which the hieroglyphs are written is not uniform. When used in isolated words explanatory of persons and objects represented, they are distributed promiscuously, either in horizontal or vertical groups, or both. More careful inscriptions have them in vertical or horizontal lines, the columns separated by a broad straight line. Except in a few instances, all the animals and other objects belonging to a certain group, or a sentence, face in one direction, and are to be read in the opposite direction. The signs face generally to the right, whether written in vertical or in horizontal columns, and are read accordingly from right to left; but sometimes the reading is from left to right, although the characters face the other way.
Another arrangement is to have half a sentence in vertical and the remainder in horizontal lines, and in some instances the hieroglyphs are without any arrangement whatever, distributed within the limited area of the field of a picture. - The Egyptian language retains always the verbal root of a noun unchanged, the numbers being formed by suffixes and the cases by prefixes. The singular number has the root only; the dual is expressed by repeating it if an ideograph, or by doubling the initial sign of syllabics if a phonetic; and the plural by repeating three times the ideograph, syllabic, or phonetic, or by affixing three vertical bars to a masculine noun, and the half circle and three bars to a feminine. The phonetic mode of forming the plural was to affix (u), to which the three bars were usually added. The indefinite article ua scarcely ever occurs, and the definite article only occasionally. In the singular the masculine article is pa or pui, the feminine ta; in the plural, masculine or feminine, na, naiu, or nn, prefixed to the noun. There are only the masculine and feminine genders. Though the masculine is generally expressed by the verbal root of the noun alone, the single bar, i (ua, one), was sometimes affixed. The verbal root received a (t), and at a later period (ts), when feminine. The genitive case is formed in the singular by prefixing a noun of different signification before another, but this form is only elliptical, and during the old empire it was formed by prefixing (n), or by its homophones and during the 20th and 21st dynasties. The genitive plural is formed at all periods by (nu), following the noun. The dative is formed by or (n) when in the sense of possession, and by (r) in the sense of direction. The accusative is like the nominative, and the vocative and ablative are formed by or (m), and other prepositions.
Simple adjectives are always placed after the noun which they qualify, compound adjectives before; and they form the masculine, feminine, and plural like the noun. The comparative is formed by adding (er), the superlative by making the noun in the genitive precede, or by trebling the adjective, or by affixing (ti). The phonetic names of the numerals are:
hh'a, a thousand.
The general mode of expressing them was by repeating the vertical bar as often as required until 10; after which the characters are as follows:
tens of thou-sands.
hundreds of thousands.
Ordinals are formed by prefixing (meh) or affixing (n) to the cardinals. The prefix or isolated pronouns are placed at the beginning of sentences and before substantives and verbs, and are used emphatically; they are anak, anuh, nuk, I; ntek, net, thou; ntef, su, ntes, his; nen anen, me; nteten, ye; ntesen, natsen, sen, they. The affix pronouns either express relation or form the paradigms of verbs; they are a, my; k, masc, t, fem., thou; f, u, su, masc, s, st, fem., he, him, she, her; n, nu, we, our; ten, ye, your; u, su, st, they, them, their. When the affix pronouns are found combined with the article, the latter indicates the number and gender of the object possessed, and the former those of the possessor. The demonstratives are pen, ten, this; apen, apui, these; ua, one, united with neb, all, to express every one; tennu, each ; ari, another; akh, who or which, interrogative ; ma, the relative who or which. The verb to be, when rendered by pu, is declaratory, and equivalent to the impersonal it is or was, following the nominative case. It is generally omitted after the pronoun anuk, I. When rendered by ar, it is often placed at the commencement of sentences, but also at the close, and either precedes or follows the nominative case.
The substantive verb au is nearly an equivalent of the English verb to be. Auenti and autu express being or having been. Other forms of the verb to be are au and (kheper), the latter generally in the sense of coming into existence or happening. The imperfect is formed by the introduction of (an), between the verbal root and the nominative case, and the infinitive by prefixing r. The active particle enti, being, is often used for the relative form who is and who are, and also for it is and that; it is declined with the articles pa, pui, ta, tui, and t prefixed. The Egyptian verb is conjugated by prefixes, affixes, and auxiliary, abstract, or substantive verbs accompanied by prepositions. The passive form is less frequently used than the active, and chiefly in the past participle. The moods are the indicative, subjunctive, optative, imperative, and infinitive; the tenses are the same as in other languages. The present tense is formed by affixing the noun or pronoun in the nominative case to the verbal root, as mer-a, I love (masc), mer-t, I love (fern.); mer-k, thou lovest (masc), mer-t, thou lovest (fem.); mer-f, he loves; mer-s, she loves; mer-nen, we love; mer-ten, ye love; mer-sen or su, they love. The. distinction between the perfect and the imperfect is not always strictly observed, and both tenses are formed by prefixing (ha), to stand, often accompanied by the affix (n) or (nn), and also by placing between the auxiliary and the verb (her), about, on the point of, or (tu). The perfect tense can also be formed by the usual affix, as (ar), to make, (arna), I made, which are pronouns preceded by ~~, or (n), or by the auxiliary (at*), which serves also to express the future tense. The preposition (r) before the verbal root and after the auxiliary is, however, the usual form of the future, which is the same as the infinitive with the verb to be.
or (tu or ut) forms the past participle.
The simplest mode of forming the imperative is by prefixing the interjections A ! Oh ! or Hai ! to the subject. Am, amma, ma, generally used for the optative, and akhi, equally used for the imperative, and the prepositions (ar, r), placed after the verb and be-lore the subject, have the same force. The regular form of the subjunctive is hardly distinguishable from the infinitive; it has the preposition (n) prefixed to the verb, and is only determined by the context. The optative mood is formed by prefixing (mai). The infinitive is often given by the verbal root alone, but generally by placing the root of one verb before another, with occasionally the preposition (r). A kind of gerund or participle is formed by prefixing or (m), or by (her), in the act of, about, or (r), to, in. The participle is formed by affixing the verbal root to the subject instead of prefixing it, and can be declined by adding the usual terminations; it can also be formed by prefixing (nt), or by affixing the homophones of ta, as (meri), loved. The passive voice is conjugated the same as the active, but giving the verbal root the form of the past participle before the affix pronouns. The forms of tau or ra are supposed to be prefixed to verbs to give them an impulsive or causative sense, which is also effected by prefixing or (s) to nouns and verbs. The prepositions are either simple or compound. The former generally consist of one phonetic character or group; the latter of a preposition united with a noun. Both classes are prefixed to their objects, which include also verbs and sentences. and (n) are used at different periods for the genitive, dative, and ablative cases; they have the sense of by and to; or (an) indicates by means of; (m) and its homophones convey the meaning of in the condition of, as, in, for, throughout, by means of, to, from, with; (r), to, for, with, by, from, over, in, asas, as, etc, and, after an adjective, than; (her), or its fuller form signifies by means of, for, in favor of, against, beyond, in the moment of, and by;or the fuller form(bar), stands for under, at the time of, to, at, for, and with. The compound prepositions are sometimes followed by the prefix form of the genitive. Adverbs of negation are always placed before the verb or adjective to which they belong.
(nen), not, and or (nent), are the principal forms of negation, combined with put or sep; they signify never.
m) is used as a prohibitive negative.
Conjunctions are often omitted; (hua), and, (mak), because, and (khetf), when, are those chiefly used. Prepositions put before the verb have also the force of coniunctions: (en) or (an), for that; (em), inasmuch, etc. The syntax consists chiefly in making the sentences short, rarely exceeding ten words; making the verb agree with the subject in number, but putting the verbal root, if alone, always in the singular; prefixing prepositions and interjections to the noun or verb which they govern; and putting the adverb last. The sentence consists often of two antithetical members, in which a substitution of different pronouns frequently occurs, transitions being abruptly made from different persons among themselves. The following is a portion of an inscription found in the tomb of Amenis in Beni-Hassan, dating from the 12th dynasty :
The order both of the columns and the hieroglyphs is from left to right. Verbally translated it reads as follows:
It may be rendered thus: "I was an excellent and very beloved person, a ruler beloved in his district. I passed many years as the ruler of Sah (Speos Artemidos). All the work of the palace was done by my hand." - The history of the recovery of the Egyptian language, of which not only the vocabulary but also the characters were totally unknown, presents a wonderful process of induction. The earlier Greeks and Romans were so little interested in the speech of other nations, and at the same time such imperfect linguists, that they left no other information concerning the language than that the Egyptians had two or three different kinds of writing, used for different purposes, and that two of them were confined to sacred uses, which is now known to be erroneous. Their other accounts of the Egyptians and their language are with few exceptions entirely wrong. They picked up stories here and there from communicative priests, and these, mixed up without discrimination, passed from one writer to another, no one caring to criticise, compare, or methodize them.
The learned men who in the last century turned their attention to Egyptian writing naturally consulted the works of the ancients, and were consequently led astray. "With the exception of a single passage in Clemens Alexandrinus, which is so obscure that it lends itself to many interpretations, all the ancients agreed in speaking of the hieroglyphic system as ideographic. They even gave the meaning of a few signs which are common in the inscriptions, and seemed to be well informed as to their interpretation. As the hieratic and demotic character appeared more cursive, and better suited to the transcription of long documents, they maintained that by means of them the same language was written in letters representing sounds. The writings of Kircher during the 17th, and of De Guignes and Koch during the I8th century, and later those of Zoega, were based on the opinions of the Greeks and Romans, and failed consequently to throw light on the language. It happened that in 1799 a French engineer officer, M. Broussard, throwing up earthworks at Rosetta (Reshid), discovered a large black slab of stone, somewhat mutilated, with an inscription in hieroglyphics, in demotic, and in Greek. The victory of the English a few days later threw it into the hands of the ambassador Sir William Hamilton, who deposited it in the British museum.
By this accident a text was discovered, of which the Greek version stated that it was an ascription of divine honors to one of the Ptolemies, and that the hieroglyphic and demotic versions were transcriptions of the Greek text. Though the sense of a hieroglyphic inscription was thus ascertained, the difficulty remained of determining the value and sound of each character. It was observed that at about the place corresponding to the name of Ptolemy in the Greek version, there was in the hieroglyphic inscription an oval ring enclosing a group of characters; and as a long series of sitting figures on the temple of Karnak had also such rings placed over them, apparently indicating their names or titles, it was conjectured that this ring was the sign of the proper name. An amusing account of the false conjectures made in deciphering this celebrated inscription, based on the assumption of the Greeks that the hieroglyphic signs were purely ideographic, is given by Birch in Wilkinson's "Egyptians under the Pharaohs." The great discovery that the character was a mixed one, containing partly pictures of objects and partly signs of sounds, was announced by Cham-poll ion in a paper read at Grenoble in 1810, and soon after by Thomas Young. Champol-lion acknowledged that he was led to the dis-covery by the labors of De Sacy and Aker-blad, who had shown that the Greek proper names on the Rosetta stone were transcribed phonetically in the demotic version.
These results were obtained by guessing that a group occurring in almost every line was the conjunction; and that a group repeated 29 times in the demotic version corresponded to king in the Greek, where this word occurred about the same number of times; and for the words Alexander and Alexandria in the 4th and 17th lines of the Greek, were discovered two groups of equally close resemblance in the 2d and 10th lines of the demotic. Young's most important contribution was to assert the ideographic nature of many demotic signs, in opposition to the current belief that hieratic and demotic writing were entirely phonetic. It was thereupon observed that the hieratic and demotic characters were abbreviations of the fuller pictures; and Brugsch, now the highest authority on the language, shows in his Grammaire demotique that demotic contains at least as many ideographic signs as hieratic writing. All these conjectures were at first applied only to the characters inside the rings. But there remained the difficulty of determining the order in which the characters were written, which might be, as in Hebrew, from right to left, or, as in modern systems, from left to right.
This point was soon settled by Cham-pollion. Mr. Bankes brought a little obelisk found in the island of Philae, which was inscribed with a dedication in Hebrew and Greek to a Ptolemy and his sister Cleopatra. This inscription was copied by Cail-liaud in 1816, and commented on by Letronne and Champollion in the French scientific journals in 1822. ' Figs. 1 and 2 are the hieroglyphs for Cleopatra and Ptolemy. There was a ring identical with the ring for Ptolemy in the Rosetta stone, and another for Cleopatra. By a fortunate coincidence these names have several letters in common. Assuming from the analogy of other systems that the objects depicted signified the initial letter of their Coptic names, both groups were spelled out, and Champollion was in possession of 11 phonetic signs of the old Egyptian language. It now became plain that in this case the signs were not syllabic, but alphabetic. Applying them to monuments which appeared to be of the Roman epoch, and attempting to decipher the royal rings upon them, Champollion found an almost complete list of the Roman emperors, each with his title, emperor, added, and this title became a clue to all similar inscriptions.
Some of the opponents of Champollion suggested that the hieroglyphs were only used phonetically in order to transcribe the names of the foreign lords of Egypt; but further researches proved that well known old Egyptian kings, as Psammetichus, Shishak, and Rameses, had their names written in phonetic characters also. These discoveries made it certain that the hieroglyphic inscriptions could only be read by ascertaining the sounds of the old Egyptian language; if the writing were pictorial or symbolical, the sense could have been discovered without knowing a single sound. To discover the sounds, several learned men turned to the modern Egyptian or Coptic language, which was expressly stated by early Christian fathers to be almost the same as the demotic, though written in a different alphabet. Though the Coptic language was almost extinct, there was a school of Coptic priests at Rome during the last century, who could still speak the language of their sacred books; and' from the information they possessed, together with the Coptic version of the Scriptures, a very good knowledge not only of the grammar but also of the vocabulary had been obtained.
Champollion made himself master of the Coptic language, and saw that it retained more or less accurately the old Egyptian names of a large number of objects. He further analyzed grammatical forms, terminations, and inflections, and found the same close correspondence. When he was sent to Egypt to explore the ruins in person, he applied what letters he knew to groups of hieroglyphics, apparently giving the names of numerous pictures of well known objects, engraved in the tombs of Beni Hassan, and found that the Coptic furnished in almost every case a direct clue to the sound of the hieroglyphs. He thereupon easily completed his alphabet from partially read words, agreeing in sense with known names; and so the great discovery was gradually completed, sounds suggesting signs, and signs sounds, each new step verifying and correcting previous inferences as well as suggesting new ones. Two difficulties impeded the progress of the discovery. The first was to understand the proper application of the symbolical hieroglyphs, and when the same sign was to be used in the ideographic and when in the phonetic sense.
Champollion concluded that the written system of 1,000 signs, used at random ideographically or phonetically, must have been a source of confusion to the Egyptians themselves, and that they must have used some means to avoid it. He therefore looked for and found indications added to the pictures, informing the reader how to understand them. But there are some specimens of a sort of writing which Champollion left unexplained, and which he considered symbols used by the priests as a really secret character. This view has been supported by De Rouge and Lauth, but has been denied by Dumichen, who says he has been unable to find in the monuments any systematic secret writing, side by side with the usual hieroglyphics. Birch agrees with this view, and advances the theory that the 22d dynasty, of Assyrian origin, introduced phonetic signs for many ideographs, and so produced these so-called anaglyphs. Brugsch considers them merely a profusion of licenses and individual fancies, which make the interpretation a matter of great labor and ingenuity, but not impossible. The second obstacle, though greater, was readily overcome. It soon became evident that the Egyptians used different signs to signify the same sound.
At the outset, when the names Berenike and Aleksandros were guessed at, it was found that there were different signs for 7c and for s. On comparing the several copies in the European museums of the long and elaborate book of ritual which the old Egyptians placed beside mummies in the coffin, it was found that, though they are identical in sense and character, they contain frequent variations as to single signs, and that in hieratic copies the same sign generally represents these varieties. It was clear that these were different equivalents for the same sounds, or what are called homophones. After the discovery of one of them the rest became quickly known. Lepsius has since established that the most ancient alphabet admitted very few homophones, and De Rouge says that many of them really indicate slight variations of pronunciation, which, like the various sounds of th, were carefully distinguished by some scribes by separate signs. After the discovery of the homophones it only required additional researches to complete the structure of which Ohampollion had laid the foundation and sketched the plan. Hundreds of perfectly distinct documents have since been read by the received principles of interpretation, and a consistent meaning extracted from them.
Though no other corroboration was wanting, it came crowding upon the Egyptologists in the numerous confirmations of historical facts thus deciphered. Lepsius found in 1866, while making researches at Tanis, another trilingual inscription in hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek; and the Egyptian, according to Birch, was read off and explained much easier than a fair Latin scholar could have rendered the same amount of Tacitus, and the translation produced a sense identical with the Greek version. Another test of the correctness of the principles of interpretation laid down by modern Egyptologists was offered a few years ago by Mariette, who copied from the pillars along the line of the Suez canal inscriptions set up in four languages by Darius I., king of Persia, describing how he had undertaken the cutting of the canal, but stopped it when almost completed because he was persuaded that the levels of the Red sea and the Mediterranean varied, and that Egypt would be inundated by opening the canal. The inscription found on several stone pillars was written in hieroglyphics and in the three kinds of cuneiform characters, and it was found that the Persian and Assyrian versions correspond in sense to the hieroglyphic as now interpreted, adding, however, many details intended for the special edification of the Egyptian subjects of the great king.
Champollion's system of interpreting hieroglyphics encountered great opposition at every step of his discovery. Among his most prominent opponents were Klaproth, Palin, Janelli, Williams, Secchi, Seyffarth, and Uhlemann, every one of whom proposed some method of decipherment as much at variance with the methods of the others as with Ohampollion's; with the exception of Uhlemann, who adopted Seyffarth's suggestions. The chief value of their writings consisted in stimulating new researches to correct or establish the rules laid down by Champollion and his followers. The most eminent among these are Sylvestre de Sacy, Niebuhr, Humboldt, Lepsius, Bunsen, Rosellini, Leemans, Wilkinson, Hincks, Brugsch, Birch, De Rouge, Chabas, Le Page Renouf, Lauth, Dumichen, Goodwin, Czermak, Deveria, Eisenlohr, Ebers, Mariette, and Maspero. The researches on the hieratic writing were of necessity closely linked to the study of hieroglyphics. The decipherment of the demotic writing was specially studied by De Sacy, Akerblad, and Young. It was further elucidated by Champollion, Tattam, Sal-volini, Lepsius, De Saulcy, Leemans, and Maspero, and was finally treated by Brugsch in a separate grammar and a hieroglyphic-demo-tio dictionary. - Literature. The literature of Egypt presents a remarkable exception to the literatures of other countries.
It contains no signs of a gradual development of different species of composition at different epochs. The characters were changed, and the, language underwent some modifications, but the literature remained in its principal features the same. Novels or works of amusement predominated in the great epoch of the Rameses, and historical accounts of Egypt under the Ptolemies, just as homilies, church rituals, and other Christian literature invaded Egyptian in its Coptic stage; but the same type and general style appear in every epoch. There is therefore no need of a chronological sketch of Egyptian literature. Its materials are scanty, and many periods of Egyptian history are as yet complete literary blanks. Another misfortune is that even the scanty documents recently obtained are not all accessible; many of them are lying unread in private collections. The magnificent collections of Mr. Harris of Alexandria, and of Mr. Smith, an American resident at Luxor, and doubtless many others, are yet almost entirely unknown. - The religious is the most important branch of the Egyptian literature that has come down to us.
At first sight it seems to proclaim the Egyptians the most polytheistic of men, but a more careful examination leads to the supposition that the various gods were only intended to bring out in symbol and in allegory the various qualities and manifestations of one great God, uncreate, eternal, and omnipotent. Egyptologists strongly combat the commonly received opinion that the doctrine of one God was the belief of the learned only, and that the Egyptian ritual was intended for the vulgar. The most prominent of the theological treatises is the "Book of the Dead," also called the "Funeral Ritual." The earliest known copy is in hieratic writing of the oldest type, and was found in the tomb of a queen of the 11th dynasty, which can hardly be placed later than 3000 13. C. The sense of certain chapters had already become obscure to the writers, who add many notes and rubrics, and sometimes another reading; thus it contains another version of the 64th chapter, ascribed to King Menkera of the 4th dynasty.
The latest copy is of the 2d century A. D., and is a demotic papyrus written in pure Coptic. It consists, in its complete state, of 166 chapters, many of which were added in the days of the new empire, or about 1600 B. C, and perhaps as late as the time of Psammetik. The main body of the work is uniform throughout, and gives a mystical account of the adventures of the soul after death, and directions how by the use of theological knowledge, as being able to recite the names and titles of innumerable gods, the soul could reach the hall of Osiris. Here it was to be judged by Osiris and the 42 assessors, who took cognizance of the 42 mortal sins. It was probably from some confused report of this chapter of the ritual that Diodorus was led to state, what is often repeated in modern books, that the Egyptians held trial over their dead before burial. The soul was sent, after a successful examination, to the abode of the sun, to live in blessedness. Almost every museum in Europe has specimens of the ritual, and many have published facsimiles of it.
A complete translation, by Dr. Birch, may be found in the 5th volume of the 2d edition of Bunsen's "Egypt's Place in Universal History" (London, 1867). The best editions of the whole text are Lep-sius's Todtenbuch (Leipsic, 1842), from a Turin copy in linear hieroglyphics; De Rouge's Ri-tuel funeraire (Paris, 1861-'5), in hieratic; and a collection of the most important texts in Lepsius's Aelteste Texte des altagyptischen Todtenbuchs (Berlin, 1867). The preparation of these books of the dead seems to have been a regular trade with the Egyptian priests. They were written and illustrated in various styles, proportioned to the rank of the deceased or to the price which his relatives chose to pay, and they were placed in the coffin with the dead. As the books were to be sealed up, and I not to be read, or seen again by the relatives, they are often written with the greatest care-lessness, and are full of omissions and gross faults in orthography. They seem to have been kept ready made, for the name of the deceased appears in different ink and handwriting from the rest of the book, and appears to have been inserted in a blank left for the purpose.
The only other kind of composition which can be strictly classed as theological are the treatises describing the metamorphoses of the gods, and the lamentations of Isis, found in the tombs of priests and priestesses; but these books are so replete with allegories that it is almost impossible to discover their meaning. To this class belong also the myths in the Ptolemaic temples, and it is believed that when the immense profusion of pictures found at Edfoo, Esne, Den-derah, and other such temples are collected and deciphered, the obscurities of the ritual will be greatly diminished. They explain such myths as that of the winged disk, or the adventures of Horus in avenging his father Osiris, and possess occasional historical allusions of great value. Some of these texts are given in Brugsch's Die geflugelte Sonnenscheibe(Berlin, 1870), and Na-ville's Textes relatifs au mythe d' Horus (Paris, 1870). The devotional treatises mainly consist of hymns, some of which are addressed to the sun or to the god of Egypt considered as such, and abound in lofty and pure sentiment.
Translations of such hymns are scattered among the archaeological, philological, and oriental reviews; some may be found in Chabas's Papyrus magique Harris (Chalons, 1861) and Mas-pero's Hymne au Kile (Paris, 1868). The ethical treatises are in part in the form of regular moral essays, either in a connected discourse or in disjointed proverbs; partly in an epistolary form, under the garb of a private letter from a teacher to his pupil, but evidently intended for general use; and also in the form of dialogue. The oldest hieratic book which we possess is the moral treatise of Prince Ptah-hotep, and the copy of it, called the Prisse papyrus, may have been prepared as late as the 11th dynasty; but the author speaks of himself as having reached a ripe old age under Assa, the last king of the 15th dynasty. The collection of proverbs in the Leyden papyri, which is of the Ramesid era, and the instructions of a demotic papyrus in the Paris library, dating from the Ptolemies, differ in no fundamental point from the ancient treatise, and do not even show a development. They enumerate and enjoin the same private and social qualities which are now thought to make a man respectable.
Fragments of Ptah-hotep's moral discourse have been translated by Dumichen in Der Aegyptische Felsentempel von Abu-Sim-bel (Berlin, 1869), and by Lauth in his Moses der Ebraer (Munich, 1868). The proverbial precepts of the demotic treatises are given in the Recueil de travaux relatifs d la philologie egyptienne et assyrienne (Paris, 1870). The moral philosophy of one of the Leyden papyri speaks in parables, and explains its truths by the aid of metaphors from common life. A translation of it is given in Leemans's Monuments du musee d'antiquites des Pays-Bas (Leyden, 1839-'64). The instructions conveyed in letters mostly concern particular cases, and recommend special professions; and being all the compositions of literary men, they naturally laud their own occupation as the highest. The Sallier papyri in the British museum furnish the best specimens of these epistolary treatises. There are translations of them by Prof. Goodwin in the "Cambridge Essays" for 1858. - The magical literature has come down to us in many specimens. They are preserved in the papyrus of Mr. Harris, which Chabas has translated, and in the Ramesid papyri and demotic fragments of the Leyden and Paris museums. The principles adopted in the magic ceremonies of the Egyptians were uniform.
There is first a mention of a mythological event, generally relating to some of the conflicts between Osiris and Set, or the good and evil powers in nature; secondly, the conjurer identifies himself with a deity whose powers and attributes he assumes by means of incantation; lastly, injunctions and threats against the objects to be conjured. People in almost every condition of life appear to have sought assistance from magic, and numerous little rolls of papyrus inscribed with magic formulas have been found, which were used as amulets to protect the wearer from sickness or death. - The medical papyri, or prescriptions of the old Egyptians, are described by Brugsch in his Ueber die medizinischen Kenntnisse der alten Aegypter (1853), and in his Notice raisonnee d'un traite medical, etc. (Leipsic, 1863), reprinted from the second volume of his Recueil de monuments (Leipsic, 1859); by Chabas in his Melanges egyptolo-giques (vol. i.); and by Birch in Lepsius's Zeit-schrift for 1871. The most remarkable is the papyrus of Berlin, which states that it was discovered rolled up in a case, under the feet of an Anubis in the town of Sekhem, in the days of Tet (or Thoth), after whose death it was transmitted to King Sent, and was then restored to the feet of the statue.
King Sent belonged to the 2d dynasty, and if the treatise was old in his day, Manetho's statement that the second king of Egypt, the successor of Menes, composed works on anatomy, is more than probable. These data remove the origin of medicine among the Egyptians to a time long previous to 3000 B. C. The contents of this papyrus give a kind of anatomy of the human body, and a number of remedies, which were generally to be taken internally, and consisted of carefully proportioned prescriptions, in which the milk of various animals, honey, salt, and vinegar play a prominent part. There are also directions for the application of raw flesh, lard, and ammonia, and prescriptions of draughts, unguents, and injections. Noticeable is the entire absence of charms and superstitious observances in administering medicines, and the attempts at rational treatment far surpass the medical literature of the early Greeks. Later documents are of inferior scientific value, and they contain a great deal of magic and incantation, although the remedies are prescribed for the most part separately from them. But the documents are so few that we may have recovered accidentally a higher order of treatise from the earlier, and inferior kinds from the later period of Egyptian history.
The demotic papyrus repeats the same technical terms for remedies, but shows a small proportion of honest prescriptions; and love philtres, which turn the love of women toward their husbands and lovers, and not the opposite, as generally told by classical authors, play a great part in it. The Coptic period furnishes a fragment treating of skin diseases, one of the most prevalent and permanent plagues of Egypt. It is a small portion of a large work, as the prescriptions preserved are called the 185th chapter; they consist of potions, baths, and unguents. - The scientific treatises show, especially in a document belonging to the old empire, and now preserved in the Berlin museum, that the Egyptians were acquainted with the true motion of the planets, including that of the earth. Among the Rhind papyri in the British museum, there is one called the geometric papyrus, of which Mr. Birch has published a short description in Lep-sius's Zeitschrift for 1868. The age is given as the 20th dynasty, or about 1100 B. C. The treatise proceeds in regular propositions, stating the questions with "Suppose," and the answers with "Therefore" or "It follows." It is chiefly concerned with mensuration, the measuring of fields, and the estimating of the solid contents of pyramids; its title reads, "Principle of arriving at the Knowledge of Quantities, and of solving all Secrets which are in the Nature of Things." The area to be measured is divided into parallelograms or isosceles triangles, and the lengths of the sides are generally given in the statement of the question. - Epistolary correspondence is, like the solar hymns, one of the best known and most perfectly understood branches of Egyptian literature.
From the Ramesid era, which was undoubtedly the most literary of all, we have about 80 letters on various subjects, from different scribes, of whom the names of 13 are preserved, and they are mere specimens of style and illustrations of manners. There are about 20 letters in different papyri of the Leyden collection, but as some of them seem to have been prepared for transmission, they cannot well be considered as specimens of literature. The most important collection is that in the Sallier and Anastasi papyri of the British museum, and consists of 58 letters, of which a few are duplicates. The collection was made by three scribes, about the time of the Exodus, and their names are Pentaur, Pinebsa, and Enna. - The fictitious writing of the ancient Egyptians is represented by two valuable and tolerably complete relics: "The Tale of the Two Brothers," contained in the document known as the D'Or-biney papyrus of the British museum, and first described by De Rouge, and "The Romance of Setna," recently discovered in the tomb of a Coptic monk by Brugsch, who furnished a translation of it in the Revue archeologique for 1867. The former was written by the scribe Enna, and evidently intended for the amusement or instruction of one of the royal princes, whose name is mentioned in the last chapter.
One of the most striking features of this romance is the low moral tone of the women introduced, and the blunt realism exhibited in their life and language. Other documents of the same period show that the Egyptian ladies held a far higher position than is here implied. Our demotic copy of the " Romance of Setna " was written in the 2d or 3d century B. 0. The story turns upon the danger of acquiring possession of the sacred books without a clear right and great precaution; but the opening of the story and its date and superscription are missing. The epics and biographical sketches, excluding here the sepulchral monuments, which are of greater value to history than to literature, consist of a number of narrations of personal adventure in war or travel, and are distinguished by special efforts at the graces of style. Prominent among them is the epic of Pentaur, on the achievements of Rame-ses II. in his war against the Kheta. This poem, which has been called the Egyptian Iliad, was very popular and widely known, and several copies of it are in existence.
Considering that it is several centuries older than the Greek Iliad, it deserves admiration for the rapid narration of the antecedents and consequents of the great scene in order to preserve it as the most prominent and central picture of the poem. Translations of it are given by Prof. Goodwin in the " Cambridge Essays," and by De Rouge in the Recueil de travaux relatifs a la philologie egyptienne. The biographical sketch of Mohar has been called the Odyssey, by way of contrast with the preceding. The author gives an account of the journey of Mohar, evidently a high official, through Syria and Palestine, gathered from the correspondence or diary which the latter had sent to him. This papyrus, in the Anastasi collection of the British museum, has been translated by Chabas, under the title of Voyage d'un Egyp-tien (Berlin, 1866), by Goodwin, and by Lauth in the appendix of his book Moses der Ebraer; and the last named author endeavors to establish that the person spoken of in the document was Moses himself, while Brugsch and De Rouge believe that the journey is not real, but only intended to furnish an entertaining description of the lands spoken of.
The satirical writings and beast fables of the Egyptians caricature the foibles of all classes, and do not even spare the sacred person of the king. They are often illustrated with satirical pictures in mimicry of the Pharaohs and their courts. One such, known as the satirical papyrus of Turin, has been published with the caricatures in Lepsius's Auswahl. - Besides these numerous specimens of a strictly literary nature, a large amount of judicial documents, as petitions, processes at law, judgments, decrees, and treaties, has also been recovered. In the chronological documents, history is computed after the manner of early nations by a list of kings and priests; and without dwelling upon their historical value, we owe to them the whole of our knowledge of the Egyptian language, as the decipherment of some proper names mentioned in them furnished the first clue to the reading of hieroglyphics.
FIG. 1. - Cleopatra.
Fig. 2. - Ptolemy.