Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

of the human period has been constructed with a view to such an adaptation. And he thinks he finds traces that in its original state Manetho's chronology was so framed, as to include exactly a certain number of Sothiac periods. That one of these began 1322 1.c. we know, because Censorinus gives us the date of its expiration, namely, 139 A.D., and from the indications of an astronomical ceiling in the Rameseion at Thebes it appears probable that it was then recognised and recorded. Now the last year of Nectanebus II., under whom the monarchy of the Pharaohs finally merges in that of Persia, and Manetho's history ends, falls in the year 339 B.C. This deducted from 1,322 leaves 983 as the number of the years of the Sothiac cycle which had elapsed when the monarchy came to an end. This portion of the chronology could not well be tampered with, since its commencement was fixed; but if the author had assumed as a principle, that the mythic period ended with one Sothiac cycle and the historical began with another, he must make the interval between 1322 B.C. and the commencement of the monarchy under Menes, by hook or by crook, correspond with some number of Sothiac cycles. Three such cycles (1,461 x 3) amount to 4,383, which added to 983, the years of the fourth cycle that had elapsed when the monarchy ceased, gives a total of 5,366.

Now it is obvious to remark, that even had Manetho told us that his mythic history ended and his human history began with a Sothiac period, and had he assigned 5,366 years as the duration of his thirty dynasties from Menes to Nectanebus II., it would be rather a strong measure on the ground of these coincidences to pronounce that he had given us a factitious instead of a true chronology. We will admit, however, that the coincidence would have been suspicious. But, in fact, Manetho does neither of these things. In the fragments of his Dynasties as given by Routh in his Reliquiæ Sacræ 2, 246, which is admitted to be the best collection of them, the account of the human period begins thus: “After manes and demigods the First Dynasty consists of eight kings, the first of whom was Menes the Thinite,” &c. No doubt he had assigned a chronology to the mythic period, which Eusebius has preserved, according to which it comprehended two sums of 13,900 and 11,000 years. It would be useless to inquire how he obtained these numbers; but it is evident that they are not Sothiac periods, singly or collectively.* There is, however, in the collection which Syncellus has brought together, mention of an Old Chronicle (malalov ti XpovoYpapīov) in use among the Egyptians, in which fifteen of Manetho's thirty human dynasties are assigned to the mythic times under the name of Cynic circle, and the whole number of years from Helios the son of Hephaistus to the termination of the monarchy is made 36,526, or twentyfive Sothiac periods. This old chronicle, as it shortens the troublesome duration of the historical period, by giving half of it to the mythic, has been a great favourite with those who are desirous of its reduction. It bears, however, upon its face the marks of a violent accommodation to a system, and a very valuable portion of Lepsius's Einleitung, p. 413-460, is devoted to the proof that this old chronicle and the spurious Sothis, a treatise attributed to Manetho, have been framed by Jewish and Christian chronologers with a view to that very shortening of the time between the Deluge and the commencement of Egyptian history, for which they are quoted as authorities." All, on the contrary,” says Lepsius, to whose opinion we entirely subscribe, “that we know of Africanus from the fragments of his lost work, inspires us with esteem for his judgment, his learning and his fidelity in the use of his materials." Finding, therefore, in Africanus no mention of a chronology adapted to the Sothiac period, we do not believe that such adaptation existed in the genuine work of Manetho.

But had it existed, does Manetho assign such a duration to his human dynasties, that, added to the mythic, they make up a round number of Sothiac periods? The number of years required for this, we have seen, would be 5,366. Manetho, however, gives the sum of his human dynasties at 3,555. We are well aware that this does not at all agree with the summation of the separate reigns of his kings, which will amount, according to the various readings of the numbers, at the lowest to 4,465 years (Boeckh, p. 526). Our author therefore finds it necessary

* Seventeen Sothiac periods are 24,837 years.

on the

to introduce conjectural corrections into Manetho's numbers, and even supposes that Syncellus may have confounded the hundreds and the thousands in his statement of Manetho's sum, which should have been 5,355 instead of 3,555. The changes which he proposes in order to bring the actual summation up to the required amount of 5,366, are not so numerous or so violent as those to which Bunsen has recourse in order to reconcile Eratosthenes with Manetho; and Mr. Grote in his History of Greece (3, 450) regards them as "for the most part justified on

“ reasonable grounds, and where not so justified unimportant in amount.” Lepsius, on the other hand, adheres to the

, number which stands in the text of Syncellus, 3,555, which is irreconcileable with any notion of Sothiac cycles. We could without much difficulty assent to Boeckh's corrections and adopt his view, had we any proof of the use of the cycle as a chronological measure in the mythic part of his history. Boeckh does not indeed rely on the old chronicle and the Sothis as the proof of this use,

but coincidence of the 24,837 years, which according to him Manetho allots to the gods, manes, and demigods, with seventeen Sothiac cycles. This number, however, is not to be made out without additional conjectures; and we need not say how much the uncertainty of an hypothesis, having no external evidence, and resting only on coincidences, is weakened by every instance in which conjecture is resorted to in order to establish the coincidences which serve for its basis. We may observe that Lepsius admits Manetho's chronology before Menes to have been arranged according to Sothiac periods, but denies it of the time after Menes; while Bunsen denies it equally of both.

The work of M. Lesueur, crowned by the French Insti. tute, will hardly fulfil the expectations of those who may recollect the Essays of M. de Sainte-Croix, Larcher, and Raoul-Rochette, produced by competition for a similar honour. The author is announced in his title-page as the architect of the Hotel de Ville, and is evidently not a literary man by profession, nor familiar with the principles of historical criticism. Had he seen the investigations of Bunsen and Lepsius into the genuineness and authority of the Old Chronicle, we think he would never have assumed it as the groundwork of his system. He says in his Intro

[ocr errors]

duction—" Je me demandai s'il ne serait pas possible de procéder, en matière de chronologie, par une méthode purement mathématique, c'est-à-dire de prendre d'abord pour base les faits incontestables et de marcher ensuite sûrement du connu à l'inconnu, en ne s'appuyant jamais que sur des dates, dont l'exactitude serait complétement demontrée." An excellent mode of procedure; but where are these incontestible facts, these dates whose exactness is completely demonstrated, to be found ? It is the want of them which condemns the Egyptian chronologer to be for ever rolling up the stone of Sisyphus and seeing it roll down again. We may fancy that in astronomical periods we have such facts, because we can ascertain the position of the heavenly bodies with the most perfect exactness for any age however remote; but if we want to connect this infallible record with the history of man, we must avail ourselves of the testimony of man, with all the uncertainty which arises from corruption of MSS., vagueness of tradition, national vanity, and a variety of sources. Sir Isaac Newton could calculate exactly the time at which, allowing for the precession of the Equinoxes, the colures would pass through the middle of the four constellations; but when he wished to fix by this means the date of the Argonautic Expedition, what trustworthy witness could tell him that the Argonauts used the sphere, and a sphere which had the colures in the middle of Aries, Cancer, Chela and Capricorn? It is easily ascertained in what year b.c. Sirius rose heliacally at Memphis on a given day of a given month, but when the chronologer desires to know what king was then on the throne, in what year of his reign, he becomes immediately sensible of the difference between mathematical and historical evidence. He is told that the king who reigned at that time was Menophres, and he consults his lists, but he finds no one bearing that name, and is thrown back upon a conjecture that it has been written by mistake for some name nearly similar; and thus he is left again in uncertainty.

M.Lesueur's Essay is remarkable, as being the first printed in France from a fount of moveable hieroglyphic types. They are executed with great beauty. We presume that the Berlin press has a similar fount, but of outlines only, which has been employed in printing Lepsius's work. Through what a

a

a

series of ages are the thoughts carried back, in thus seeing, side by side, the earliest and the latest efforts of the art which perpetuates and communicates the conceptions of the human mind ! What a contrast between the rapid current of the pen and lightning speed of the compositor's hand, and the slow toil by which the Egyptian sculptor cut on stone the record of his thoughts! The contrast is not less striking between the instantaneous suggestions of a purely alphabetical character, and the dim, ambiguous shadowing forth of meaning, which is inseparable from hieroglyphic writing. We must not, however, despise the art which, imperfect though it was, has been the parent of our own. The Egyptians did well, as the name of its inventors was lost, to deify the Genius of the invention under the name of Thoth; and we only regret that they should have given him such an unattractive symbol as a Cynocephalus, or a figure with the body of a man and the head of an Ibis.

Lepsius dedicates his work to his early friend and steady patron, the Chevalier Bunsen, with a strong expression of esteem and grateful feeling, yet with a manly declaration of dissent from some of Bunsen's opinions as set forth in his Ægyptens Stelle. Their points of agree

nent are more important than their differences. We have already observed that Lepsius admits, while Bunsen denies, the influence of the Sothiac period on Manetho's mythic dynasties. Bunsen has bestowed much pains in bringing Eratosthenes and Manetho into harmony; Lepsius thinks them irreconcileable. Both agree that some of the dynasties of the Old Monarchy are contemporaneous, but they are not agreed which. Bunsen allots between nine and ten centuries to the dominion of the Shepherds; Lepsius reduces it to little more than half. In maintaining the general integrity of Manetho, in the division of the times of the Pharaohs into three monarchies, the Old, the Middle, and the New, in declining to submit Egyptian history to the control of Jewish Chronology, as well as the general spirit of their historical criticism, they entirely agree.

Laying down the principle that the oldest history, in the strict sense, among any people, cannot much precede their oldest contemporary sources, Lepsius begins by examining what were these sources and what was their age among the Egyptians, and comparing them in this

« AnkstesnisTęsti »