Sacred-Texts Classics Index Next
IN presenting this collection of ANCIENT FRAGMENTS to the world, some explanation of what is comprehended under that title may not be deemed unnecessary. We are accustomed to regard the Hebrew scriptures, and the Greek and Latin writings, as the only certain records of antiquity: yet there have been other languages, in which have been written the annals and the historyies of other nations. Where then are those of Assyria and Babylon, of Persia and Egypt and Phœnicia, of Tyre and Carthage? Of the literature of all these mighty empires, where are even the remains? It will, no doubt, tend to excite some reflections of a melancholy cast, to look on this small volume as an answer. That all such remains are contained in it, I should be unwilling to assert: yet, with some diligence and research, I have not been able to increase its size with other fragments, which I could consider sufficiently authenticated.
It was my wish to have included in this collection all the fragments of the earlier Gentile world, which have reached us through the medium of the Greek language. Of the early historians of Greece the names only of some have come down to us; whilst of others, such as Eupolemus and Histiæus, several very interesting fragments have escaped the general wreck. In the classic ages of their literature, the acquaintance of the Greek historians with antiquity was generally confined and obscure: nor was it till the publication of the Septuagint, that they turned their attention to their own antiquities, and to those of the surrounding nations: and for this reason we meet with more certain notices of ancient history in the later, than in the earlier times of Greece. To have drawn a line then; to have inserted the earlier writers in exclusion of the later, would have been to have omitted the more valuable. To have reprinted the fragments of many authors, such as Nicolaus Damascenus, a writer of Damascus, of the Augustan age, would have introduced, with some matter worthy of attention, much of little interest. To have selected from them all, the passages relating to ancient times and foreign states, would have been a task as useless as laborious, and would have swelled the collection to a series of volumes. I have therefore, for the most part, excluded the native Greek historians—and every writer of the Augustan age and downwards—I have also omitted all fragments which bear about them the stamp of forgery, or are the productions of Hellenistic Jews, or of authors who have had access to the sacred Scriptures, and following the words, throw no additional light upon the subjects; under one or other of which divisions may be classed the Antediluvian books of Enoch, the fragments of Artapanus, the Sibylline Oracles, the Correspondence of Solomon and Hiram king of Tyre, the tragedy of Ezekiel in which Moses figures as the hero, with several compositions of a similar description.
The contents, then, of this volume, are Fragments which have been translated from foreign languages into Greek; or have been quoted or transcribed by Greeks from foreign authors; or have been written in the Greek language by foreigners who have had access to the archives of their own countries. Yet to render the collection more useful, and as it were a manual to the Chronologist and Mythological Antiquarian, I have added by way of Supplement such fragments and extracts as appear to have descended from more ancient sources, though they are now to be found only in the works of Greek or Latin writers. Some of these are merely illustrations of the fragments, or contain detached chronological notices, or such other curious information as may well be deemed worthy of a place. Thus I have endeavoured to comprise, in the volume, all the genuine relics of antiquity which precede the era of Grecian history; and which lie so scattered among the folios, chiefly of the Fathers and the Philosophers of the lower empire, as to be inaccessible to the Antiquarian, unless in the neighbourhood of some large public library.
Miscellaneous as such a collection might be at first supposed, it will be found to resolve itself into two subjects; the early History, and the ancient Theological Systems of the world. In the following pages I have endeavoured to present a sketch of both; not with a view of entering into the details, but rather as a method of connecting the fragments with one another, to facilitate an examination of their contents, by directing the attention successively to those great landmarks which stand prominently forth amidst what might otherwise be deemed a wild, pathless and interminable; and to enable the reader, by following the same order of perusal, to elicit something like a regular continued narrative. In the Scriptures we have a brief but authenticated account of the earliest ages: but among the heathen writers, with the exception of some few very valuable historical fragments, we have little more than a collection of allegories and legendary tales. Upon examination, however, most of these legends, notwithstanding their obscurity, will be found to contain references to those grand primeval events whose memory was retained among every people upon earth: and for the commemoration of which were ordained so many of the ceremonies and mysteries of the ancients.
From such traditions, handed down for ages before they were committed to writing, we might expect but little aid. lndeed in all the researches of the antiquarian, conjecture must very generally supply the place of science. Yet, by pursuing a proper method of investigation, we may approximate to truth, and frequently illustrate circumstances obscurely hinted at in Scripture, and even occasionally fill up the gaps of history, by supplying events which have been omitted by the sacred writers as unconnected with the immediate objects under their consideration.
Persons, Events, and Dates in History, and Systems in Theology, are the objects to be examined and ascertained. And where the subject under investigation can be so divided, that the truth must lie among some few plausible hypothesis, which can be a priori, and at once laid down: by collecting an the evidence that can be had, and examining separately, and excluding soccessively each of these hypothesis which shall be found inconsistent with that evidence, we may conduct the circle of conjecture, in some cases, till but one hypothesis is left; which one must be the truth, and is thus negatively rendered matter of demonstration. In other cases want of evidence may leave room for several different opinions, none of which can really be refuted, though one may often be more plausible than another.
Mr. Faber, in his admirable work on the Pagan Idolatry; has collected and separately examined all the different systems of the Heathen Mythology; and has shown, 'that there is such a singular, minute, and regular accordance among them, not only in what is obvious and natural, but also in what is arbitrary and circumstantial, both in fanciful speculations and in artificial observances,' as to render untenable every other hypothesis than this—'that they must all have originated from some common source.'
Having thus shown their common origin, he enumerates three hypothesis as the only three on which, he conceives, the common origination of the various systems of Paganism can be accounted for:
|1.||Either all nations agreed peaceably to borrow from one, subsequent to their several settlements.|
|2.||Or all nations, subsequent to their several settlements, were compelled by arms to adopt the superstition of one.|
|3.||Or all nations were once assembled together in a single place and in a single community; where they adopted a corrupt form of religion, which they afterwards respectively carried with them into the lands that they colonized.|
After examining at length and shewing the utter impossibility of maintaining either the first or second of these hypothesis, he concludes that the third only can be the truth.1
In the same manner we may ascertain the region from which mankind originally dispersed. Both in ancient and modern times the Greeks have been accused of a kind of plagiarism, which was the prevailing custom of every nation upon earth. Egypt and India, and Prœnicia, no less than Greece, have appropriated to themselves, and assigned within their own territorial limits, the localities of the grand events of primeval history, with the birth and achievements of the Gods and Heroes, the Deluge, the origin of the arts and the civilization of mankind. And their claims have found more able supporters, only because they have not been so obviously liable to refutation. Yet by rejecting each country, whose claims rest upon no better foundation than its own local histories, and retaining those only, whose pretensions are substantiated by the concurrent testimony of the rest; it may be shown, independently of Scripture, that the primitive settlements of mankind were in such places, and attended with such circumstances, as the Scripture instructs us was the case.
Of the transactions previous to the Deluge there are but few and faint memorials among the heathens. One of the most authentic may be found in the remains of the Prœnician History of Sanchoniatho, who is considered to be the most ancient writer of the heathen world. In what age he wrote is uncertain: but his history was composed in the Prœnician language, and its materials collected from the archives of the Prœnician cities. It was translated into Greek by Philo Byblius, and for the preservation of these fragments we are indebted to the care of Eusebius.
The Cosmogony I shall have occasion to refer to hereafter: as one of the most ancient, it is extremely valuable, and as it speaks more plainly than the rest, it affords a key to their interpretation.
The Generations contain many very curious passages. In the first is an allusion to the fall: in the second Genus may be Cain: after which we lose the traces of similarity: at the fifth there is an interruption. But taking up the thread of inquiry, at the end, in Taautus or Thoyth, we may recognize Athothis, the second king of Egypt, the Hermes Trismegistus, who againt appears as the adviser of Cronus. His predecessor Misor then corresponds with Mizraïm, the first king of Egypt, the Menes and Mines of the dynasties. In the preceding generation is Amynus, Amon, or Ham, the same with the Cronus, of what by the historian is supposed to be a different but contemporary line. An ascent higher we find, Agrus, the husbandman, who was worshipped in Phœnicia as the greatest of the gods: he corresponds with Noah, the Ouranus of the other line, whose original name was Epigeus or Autochthon.
Sanchoniatho seems to have been a very diligent inquirer, and intimates at the conclusion that the generations contain the real history of those early times, stripped of the fictions and allegories with which it had been obscured by the son of Thabion, the first hierophant of Prœnicia. That such is the case, we are assured by Philo Byblius, in the remarks on Sanchoniatho with which he prefaces his translation of the work. The passage also informs us that the history thus disguised was handed down to Isiris, the brother of Chna the first Prœnician, apparently alluding to Mizraïm the brother of Canaan.
It is very remarkable that he has placed these characters in the true order of succession, though in all the traditions of the heathens they are generally confounded with one another. It is also remarkable that Sanchoniatho is almost the only heathen writer upon antiquities who makes no direct mention of the deluge, though several obscure allusions to it may be found in the course of the fragment. Were we assured of his silence upon the point in the parts of his work that have been lost, the omission might still be accounted for from his avowed determination to suppress what he considered merely allegorical, for he would find the traditions of the deluge so intimately blended with those relating to the creation, that in endeavouring to disengage the truth from the fable he might easily be induced to suppose that they related to the same event.
For explanation of his fragment upon the mystical sacrifice of the Prœnicians, I must refer to the very curious dissertations by Bryant and Mr. Faber. Sanchoniatho wrote also a history of the serpent, a single fragment of which is preserved by Eusebius.
In the fragments of Berossus again we have perhaps some few traces of the antediluvian world. Like Sanchoniatho, Berossus seems to have composed his work with a serious regard for truth. He was a Babylonian by birth, and flourished in the reign of Alexander the Great, and resided for some years at Athens. As a priest of Belus, he possesscd every advantage which the records of the temple and the learning and traditions of the Chaldæans could afford. He appears to have sketched his history of the earlier times from the representations upon the walls of the temple. From written and traditionary knowledge he must have learned several points too well authenticated. to be called in question; and correcting the one by the other, and at the same time blending them as usual with Mythology, he has produced the strange history before us.
The first fragment preserved by Alexander Polyhistor is extremely valuable, and contains a store of very curious information. The first book of the history apparently opens naturally enough with a description of Babylonia. Then referring to the paintings, the author finds the first series a kind of preface to the rest. All men of every nation appear assembled in Chaldæa: among them is introduced a person age who is represented as their instructor in the arts and sciences, and informing them of the events which had previously taken place. Unconscious that Noah is represented under the character of Oannes, Berossus describes him, from the hieroglyphical delineation, as a being literally compounded of a fish and a man, and as passing the natural, instead of the diluvian night in the ocean, with other circumstances indicative of his character and life.
The instructions of the Patriarch are detailed in the next series of paintings. In the first of which, I conceive, the Chaos is pourtrayed by the confusion of the limbs of every kind of animal: the second represents the creation of the universe: the third the formation of mankind: others again that of animals, and of the heavenly bodies.
The second book appears to have compre- hended the history of the ante-diluvian world: and of this the two succeeding fragments seem to have been extracts. The historian, as usual, has appropriated the history of the world to Chaldæa. He finds nine persons, probably represented as kings, preceding Noah, who is again introduced under the name Xisuthrus, and he supposes that the representation was that of the first dynasty of the Chaldæan kings. From the universal consent of history and tradition he was well assured that Alorus or Orion, the Nimrod of the Scriptures, was the founder of Babylon and the first king: consequently he places him at the top, and Xisuthrus follows as the tenth. The destruction of the records by Nabonasar left him to fill up the intermediate names as he could: and who are inserted, is not easy so to determine.2
Berossus has given also a full and accurate description of the deluge, which is wonderfully consonant with the Mosaic account. We have also a similar account, or it may be an epitome of the same from the Assyrian history of Abydenus, who was a disciple of Aristotle, and a copyist from Berossus. I have given also a small extract from the Fragments of Nicholaus Damascenus, relative to the deluge and the ark, whosc wreck is said by him as well as Berossus, Chrysostom, and other writers, to have remained upon Ararat even at the very time in which they wrote.
Mankind appear to have dwelt some time in Armenia, and the Patriarch allotted to his descendants the different regions of the earth, with commands to separate into distinct communities. His injunctions, however, were disobeyed, and great numbers, perhaps all the human race, started from Armenia in a body, and, according to the Scriptures, journied westward, but according to Berossus, travelled by a circuitous route to the plains of Shinar. By combining the two narratives, we may conclude that they followed the winding course of the Euphrates, till they halted upon those celebrated plains, where the enterprising spirit of Nimrod tempted him to aspire to the dominion of the world, and to found the Tower and City of Babel as the metropolis of his future universal empire.
Upon the Tower of Babel and the events connected with it, will be found some very interesting fragments from Abydenus, from Hestiæus, a very ancient Greek writer, from the Babylonian Sibyl, and from Eupolemus. I have added also a curious extract from the Sibylline oracles. In these fragments are detailed the erection of the Tower, the dispersion of its contrivers, and the confusion of the languages; with the additional circumstances of the violent destruction of the building,3 and the Titanian war, which forms so remarkable an event in all traditions of the heathens.
Previously to the erection of the Tower, men appear very generally to have apostatized from the patriarchal worship. About this time a further deviation from the truth took place; and upon the first and more simple corruption was engrafted an elaborate system of idolatry. Some account of these deviations will be found in the extracts from Epiphanius, Cedrenus, and the Paschal chronicle. What is mentioned under the name of Barbarism, was probably the primeval patriarchal worship. lt was succeeded by a corrupted form of superstition which is known among the ancients under the name of Scuthism, or Scythism, which was most prevalent from the flood to the building of the Tower. The new corruption, at that time introduced by Nimrod, was denominated Ionism,4 or Hellenism: and both are still flourishing in the East under the well-known appellations of Brahmenism and Buddhism; whose priests appear to have continued in an uninterrupted succession from the Brahmanes and Germanes, the philosophical sects of India mentioned by Megasthenes and Clitarchus.
By the introduction of a more degenerate superstition, Nimrod appears to have aimed at the establishment of an universal monarchy in himself and his descendants, of which Babylon was to have been the metropolis, and the Tower, the central temple of their idolatries. All who attended him seem to have entered into the project, so far as he might have thought proper to divulge it, and to have assisted in the erection of the tower and city. But subsequent events shew that the proposed form of government and system of theology, though asquiesced in by the majority, did not command universal approbation. And the whole project was marred by the miraculous interposition of the Almighty.
What concurring circumstances might have operated to the dispersion, we have no clue to in the narrative of Moses. He mentions the miraculous confusion of the languages, and that the Lord scattered the people abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city. But if we may credit the heathen accounts above referred to, with which the Hindoo, and indeed almost every remnant of traditionary lore concur; a schism, most probably both of a political and religious nature, was the result; a bitter war was carried on, or at least a bloody field was fought; from which the Scuths, defeated and excommunicated by their brethren, betook themselves, in haughty independence, to the mountains of Cashgar and the north:5 whilst some violent and supernatural catastrophe, by the overthrow of the Tower, completed the dispersion.
The Scythic nations became very generally Nomade, but sometimes settled in various parts. Of what family they were has been a subject of long and intricate dispute. The ancient chronologists have, almost without exception, supposed them of the race of Japhet, the eldest son of Noah: that they were the sons of Cush has also been insisted on with great learning and ingenuity.6 But if all the nations, or even the upper classes of those nations, which bear the name, be the sons of Cush, one-third of the present human race must be the descendants of that patriarch. Indeed, before the introduction of Ionism, Epiphanius and others appear to have included all mankind under the name of Scuths. The first apostacy might have been introduced by Cush, and its followers have borne his name; which the succeeding heresy of Nimrod could not obliterate.
The Scythian nations of Touran and the North were generally addicted to the Scythic superstition; and whenever they rolled back the tide of war upon their ancient rivals; the idols temples and cities were the objects upon which they satiated their revenge. They were esteemed excommunicated, and of the Giant race, Nephelim, Rephaim and Anakim. The Scuths of Iran were also of the Giant race, with Nimrod as their chief. Of the Titanian war there appears to be a double aspect. When the Scuths of Touran are the Giants, the war between them and the Ionim is the subject of the legend; and they are the Giants cast out into Cimmerian darkness, and buried under mountains. The other view presents both parties conjointly before the schism, as the Nephelim, Apostates or Giants, engaged in carrying on the war against Heaven itself. And in these accounts we find more frequent allusions to the Tower and its supernatural overthrow.
The catastrophe at Babel completed the dispersion. On the division of the earth and planting of the nations, there are some very curious notices extant. But whether Nimrod and his immediate adherents survived, and retained possession of Babylon, or transferred their seat of government to Nineveh and founded the great Iranian empire, or whether that empire and city were founded by Assur and the sons of Shem, is still a subject of dispute. We find Nimrod, however, under the well-known title of Alorus, at the head of the two Chaldæan dynasties, mentioned above: but these appear rather to refer to the antediluvian patriarchs than to the proper kings of Chaldæa.
The first dynasty of Chaldæan Kings is placed by almost all chronologists as the first Iranian dynasty, that of Nimrod under the name of Evechius, and his immediate descendants. Evexius is also placed by Polyhistor as the first Chaldæan king. The dynasty of the Arabian kings of Chaldæan is placed by Eusebius, Syncellus and others, as well as by Berossus, next in the order of succession. They have likewise been supposed to be a Scythic nation, which broke in upon the empire from the Scythian settlements of Cashgar, and obtained possession either of the entire empire, or only of the city of Babylon, during the period of its desolation, with the plains of Shinar and the country round the head of the Persian gulf, from whence they were expelled, and discharged themselves upon Palestine as the Palli or Philistines, and upon Egypt as the Hycsos or Shepherd Kings.
Next in succession, according to Eusebius and Syncellus, or perhaps contemporary with the preceding, came the long line of the great dynasty of the Assyrian Kings, who held the empire of the world for ten or twelve centuries, till their dominion was wrested from them by the Medes in the time of Thonus Concolerus, the Sardanapalus of the Greek historians. The different catalogues of the great Assyrian succession that are extant, will be found among the Dynasties. The overthrow of the Assyrian empire was followed by several years of universal anarchy, bloodshed and revolution. And it is ascertained, that it was during this scene of confusion that Jonah was sent upon his mission to stop its progress at Nineveh.
Arbaces, the leader of the Median insurrection, though he succeeded in throwing off the Assyrian yoke, appears to have failed in his attempt to establish his own sovereignty: nor was the Median kingdom fully consolidated till the reign of Deïoces. The catalogues of the Median kings will be found among the Dynasties. Under Phraortes and Cyaxares the Medes extended their dominion over great part of Asia, but under Astyages, who was defeated and captured by Cyrus, the kingdom merged in the Persian empire.
The Babylonians acquired a temporary independence at the fall of the Assyrian empire, but after two or three short reigns they were subdued by Senecherib. Syria also became an independent kingdom, and prospered for a time, till again reduced under the Assyrian yoke. Persia at the same time arose, and alone maintained its independence against the growing power of the Medes and the new Assyrian dynasty, till the successes of Cyrus raised it above them all, and vested the empire of the world in the Persian race.
The Assyrian empire revived under Nabonasar, supposed to be the same with the Salmanasar of the Scriptures. Of this dynasty three several catalogues will be found, the Ecclesiastical and Astronomical canons preserved by Syncellus, and the celebrated canon of Ptolemæus, besides some other notices of the successors of Nabonasar, among the supplemental Chaldæan fragments. The first princes of the line appear to have fixed their residence at Nineveh, and among them we may recognize the Tiglath Pileser, Senecherib, and Esar Haddon of the Scriptures. Their race appears to have terminated in Saracus, another Sardanapalus. Nabopollasar, a successful rebel, began the last line of the Assyrian and Chaldæan monarchs. He transferred the seat of empire to Babylon, and in his reign, his celebrated son, Nebuchadnezzar, extended his conquests over the bordering kingdoms of the north and west, by the reduction of Syria, Phœnicia, Judæa, Egypt, and Arabia; an accurate account of which is transmitted by Berossus. On the death of his father, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded to the throne. Concerning him we have several very interesting fragments from Berossus, and one from Megasthenes. In these are detailed the splendor of his works at Babylon, its celebrated walls, and brazen gates; its temples, palaces, and hanging gardens. The prophesy of Nebuchadnezzar, probably alludes to the public notification of Daniel's interpretation of his vision. His successors, till the overthrow of the empire by Cyrus, are given by Berossus and Megasthenes, and will be found also among the dynasties. Among his four immediate successors we must find Belshazzar, and Darius the Mede. The latter has been generally supposed to be Nabonnedus, though some have endeavoured to identify him with Cyaxares. The conquest of the Median, Chaldæan, and Assyrian dominions by Cyrus, grandson of Astyages, and the nephew of Nebuchadnezzar, brings down the history to the authentic records of Grecian literature. The Persian line, the successors of Cyrus, will be found in several different places, both among the Chaldæan and Egyptian fragments.
The intense interest which Egyptian history has excited, from the discovery of the interpretation of the Hieroglyphics, has induced me to spare no labour or expence in rendering this part of the work as perfect as circumstances would allow.
The Laterculus or Canon of the Kings of Thebes, was compiled from the archives of that city, by Eratosthenes, the librarian of Ptolemæus Philadelphus. It is followed by the Old Egyptian Chronicle, with a Latin version of the same, from the Excerpta Barbara, and another from the Armenian Chronicle of Eusebius: they contain a summary of the dynasties of Egypt. To these succeed the Egyptian dynasties of Manetho, whose introductory letter to king Ptolemæus, given in a subsequent page, explains the nature of his work, and the materials from whence it was compiled. I have placed the six different versions of the Dynasties of Manetho that are extant confronting each other. The Canon of the kings of Egypt from Josephus, I have compiled from the historical fragments of Manetho: and I have thrown it into the form of a Canon to facilitate comparison. I have next given a very important Canon, the first part of which, from Mestraim to the end of the seventeenth dynasty, is preserved by Syncellus only: from the beginning of the eighteenth it is continued also in the fragments of Eusebius: and from hence to the conclusion, four different versions of it will be found. To these are added the Canons of all the kings of Egypt, mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Herodotus. They were originally compiled by Scaliger, but I have corrected them and given them with several very important additions in the original words of the authors, instead of in the words of Scaliger himself. They are followed by the Canon of Theophilus Antiochenus. And after several very important chronological extracts upon the antiquities of Egypt, I have completed the Dynasties, with a Canon of the early Egyptian, Chaldæan, and Assyrian Kings, from the Syriac Chronicle of Bar-hebræus: which I have placed beside each other as they are synchonized by that author, and given them in the English letters corresponding to the Syriac, instead of adopting the Latinized names of the translators.
I have, therefore, comprised in this part of the work, no less than nineteen catalogues of the Egyptian kings, with all the various readings that occur in the different versions of the same. They have been compiled with the greatest care, and I have purposely abstained from all reference to the Hieroglyphics, that I might not be misled by any preconceived opinion.
At a time, when indefatigable research is every day bringing to light new and interesting circumstances, it would be absurd to attempt to give anything but the roughest outline of Egyptian history. I shall merely observe, then, that after the dispersion from Babel, the children of Mizraim went off to Egypt, of which they appear to have continued some time in undisturbed possession. Menes Misor or Mestraim, the Mizraim of the Scriptures, and planter of the nation, is naturally placed as the first sovereign of the united realm, at the head of all the catalogues. And perhaps the dominion of Athothis was equally extensive; for his name occurs in the Laterculus of Eratosthenes, and as the Thoth or Taautus of Sanchoniatho. After him the country seems to have been divided into several independent monarchies, some of whose princes may perhaps be found among the fourteen first dynasties. That the country was so divided, and that the first dynasties were not considered successive by the ancients, we have the authority of Artapanus and Eusebius.
The first historical fragment of Manetho, from Josephus, gives an account of the invasion and expulsion of a race of foreigners, who were styled Hycsos or Shepherd kings; whose princes are identified with the seventeenth dynasty of all the Canons except that given hy Syncellus as the canon of Africanus, in which they are placed as the fifteenth. Of what family they were, whence they came, and to what country they retired, have heen the subjects of almost as many hypotheses as writers; I shall not venture a remark upon a prohlem, of which there is every reason shortly to expect a satisfactory solution. Josephus and the Fathers confound them with the Israelites, who appear rather to he referred to by the second fragment as the lepers, who were so cruelly ill-treated by the Egyptians, and afterwards laid waste the country, assisted by a second invasion of the Shepherds. To these fragments I have subjoined six other very curious notices of the exodus of the Israelites and the final expulsion of the Shepherds; which events appear to have been connected with one another, as well as with the emigration of the Danaan colonies to Greece, not only in time, but hy circumstances of a political nature, and to have occurred during the sovereignty of the eighteenth dynasty. Tacitus has also noticed the exodus, but in terms evidently copied from some of those which I have given: we have but few and scanty notices of the kings of Egypt, even in Diodorus and Herodotus. Its conquest by Nebucchadnezzar is related by Berossus, and after two or three temporary gleams of independence, it sunk at length into a province of the Persian empire, and from that day to the present, according to the denunciation of the prophet, Egypt has been the basest of kingdoms, and under the yoke of strangers.
The Tyrian Annals are fragments which were quoted by Josephus from the lost histories of Dius and Menander. They agree perfectly with the scriptural accounts, and furnish some particulars in addition. The correspondence of Solomon and Hiram, the foundation of Carthage, and the invasion, conquests, and repulse of Salmanasar; the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnessar, and its subsequent government under judges, are historical additions of great interest and importance.
The Periplus of Hanno is an account of the earliest voyage of discovery extant. It was taken from an original and apparently official document which was suspended in the temple of Saturn, at Carthage. Falconer has edited it as a separate work, and gives two dissertations on it; the first, explanatory of its contents; and the second, a refutation of Dodwell's reflections on its authenticity. I have followed Falconer both in his text and translation. With respect to its age, Falconer agrees with Bougainville in referring it to the sixth century before the Christian era.
The Periplus is prefaced by a few lines, reciting a decree of the Carthaginians, relative to the voyage and its objects: and is then continued by the commander, or one of his companions, as a narrative, which commences from the time the fleet had cleared the Straits of Gibraltar. Bougainville has given a chart of the voyage, which may be found, togetherwith the corresponding maps of Ptolemæus and D'Anville, in Falconer's treatise. It may be sufficient, however, to remark that Thymiaterium, the first of the colonies planted by Hanno, occupies a position very nearly, perhaps precisely the same with that of the present commercial city of Mogadore. The promontory of Soloeis corresponds with Cape Bojador, nearly opposite to the Canaries. Caricontichos, Gytte, Acra, Melitta and Arambys are placed between Cape Bojador and the Rio d'Ouro which is supposed to be the Lixus. Cerne is laid down as the island of Arguin under the southem Cape Blanco: the river Chretes perhaps is the St. John, and the next large river mentioned is the Senegal. Cape Palmas and Cape Three Points, are supposed to correspond respectively with the Western and Southern Horns, and some island in the bight of Benin,. with that of Gorillæ. Vossius, however, supposes the Western Horn to be Cape Verd, and the Southem, Cape Palmas, in which case the Sierra Leone will answer to the Ochema Theon the Chariot of the Gods.
The description of the Troglodytæ, as men of a different form or appearance, may imply a change from the Moresco to the Negro race. Some passages, quoted by Falconer from Bruce's travels, explain the extraordinary fires and nightly merriment which alarmed the voyagers, as customs common among many of the negro tribes, and which had repeatedly fallen within the scope of his own observations. The Gorillæ are supposed to be large monkeys or wild men as the name ἄνθρωποι ἄγριοι may in fact import.
The Periplus is followed bya strange account of the African settlements, from the books of Hiempsal king of Numidia, preserved by Sallust.
Of the Indian fragments of Megasthenes, the most remarkable has already been referred to. In the two great divisions of the Philosophical sects, into the Brahmanes and Germanes, we may doubtless recognize the predecessors of the present Brachmans and Buddhists of Hindostan. They are likewise mentioned by Clitarchus as the Brahmanes and Pramnæ. The castes of India are also described at length, and have continued with some variations to the present day. The antiquity of such a division is very great, and perhaps originated at the dispersion, as it prevailed chiefly among the Ionic nations, while the Scythic tribes prided themselves upon their independence, and the nobility of the whole race. Megasthenes is reputed to have been a Persian, and an officer in the army of Alexander in his expedition to India, and was employed upon several negociations of consequence.
I have next given two short notices of some celebrated islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The first, upon the Atlantic island, is quoted by Proclus, from the Ethiopic history of Marcellus, in illustration of the passages of Plato in the Timæus relative to the same. Some have looked upon the relation as worthy of credit, and confirmed by the broken nature of all the islands, which lie scattered between the old and the new world, regarding them as relics of a former tract which has been absorbed. The second fragment from Euemerus may relate to the islands in the Indian Archipelago; though it is highly probable that both may refer only to the White island of the West, so celebrated in the Mythological legends of almost all nations, and in none more than in the antiquities of the British islands.
As I profess not to enter into the details, but merely to provide as it were the raw materials, I shall dwell but little upon Chronology. By far the most authentic record that has come down to us is the Canon of Ptolemæus. It commences from the Chaldæan era of Nabonasar, and is continued to the conclusion of the reign of Antoninus Pius. In calculating its chronology, however, it must be observed, that although it starts from this Chaldæan era, its years are the Sothoic years of Egypt, consisting only of three hundred and sixty-five days, without any intercalation. Among the Chronological fragments at the end of the work will be found the passage of Censorinus, so important in determining the celebrated epochs of ancient history; and likewise an extract from Theon Alexandrinus, from the manuscripts of the King of France, partly cited by Larcher in his translation of Herodotus.7 For the complete extract, I beg leave to return my thanks to Mons. Champollion Figeac, and Mons. Hase librarian to the king. Several useful chronological passages will be found scattered over the work: some also are collected at the end of the Dynasties. I have added also two short notices of the Sarus and Nerus of the Chaldæans.
It is remarkable, that the three great eras of ancient history commence within thirty years of one another, and are commonly fixed.
The first Olympiad, B. C. 777.
The foundation of Rome, B. C. 753.
And the era of Nabonasar, B. C. 747.
The commencement of the reign of Dioclesian is determined by the observed and calculated eclipses to be in the year A. D. 284. The beginning of the great Sothoic period of 1641, Sothoic or vague years, equivalent to 1640 Julian years, is fixed about the year B. C. 1321, or 1325. During this great embolismic period, the first day of the Egyptian year, called Thoth, from the omission of the intercalation of the quarter of a day in each year, recedes through every day of the year, till it arrives at the point whence it originally started, and again coincides with the Heliacal rising of the Dogstar.
Having thus brought down the ancient history of the world as contained in the fragments to the times of Grecian record, I shall endeavour, in like manner, to trace a faint outline of its Theology.
From Babel, the centre of their abominations, the heathens carried off the same objects of adoration, the same superstitious observances, and the same legendary tales, which, however varied and confused, may without difficulty be identified throughout the world. Among the pastoral tribes, the Scythic doctrines almost universally prevailed; yet in subsequent times they also fell into idolatry: while the Ionic nations carried their additions and corruptions to such a length, that the original and more simple doctrines became obliterated among the vulgar; and were retained only by the philosophers and priests, and sometimes were even re-imported from abroad. The more elaborate corruptions of Ionism appear to have prevailed originally in the Iranian territories only, and to have passed to India and to Egypt, to have spread themselves with civilization over Greece, and subsequently over the whole Roman world. By foreign conquest and other circumstances, the two systems were often amalgamated into one. The more elaborate and corrupted form of Ionism and idolatry would catch the attention of the casual observer as the religion of the land; while the deeper doctrines, which retained much of their primitive simplicity, were wrapped in mystery, and communicated only to the initiated.
Most nations, in process of time, became more attached to particular parts, and retained but fragments of the general system. But it is still in existence, and preserved almost entire, both in its Scythic and Ionic form, as the Buddhism and Brahmenism of Hindostan. By comparing all the varied legends of the west and east in conjunction, we may obtain the following outline of the theology of the ancients.
It recognizes, as the primary elements of all things, two independent principles, of the nature of male and female. And these, in mystic union as the soul and body, constitute the great Hermaphroditic deity, the One, the Universe itself, consisting still of the two separate elements of its composition, modified, though combined in one individual, of which all things were regarded but as parts. From the two, or more frequently from the male, proceeded three sons or Hypostases; which, when examined severally, are each one and the same with the principle from which they sprung: but when viewed conjointly, they constitute a triad, emanating from a fourth yet older divinity, who, by a mysterious act of self-triplication, becomes three, while he yet remains but one, each member of the triad being ultimately resolvable into the monad.8 With this is connected the doctrine of a succession of similar worlds. At the conclusion of each revolving period, the world is dissolved, alternately by flood and fire; and all its varied forms and parts are absorbed into the two primeval principles, which then remain in the loveliness of their existence. After a certain interval their re-union commences, and with it the reconstruction of another world. As before, the first production of this world is the triad, and the same heroes and persons re-appear; and the same events are again transacted, till the time arrives for another dissolution. Such was the system in its original form; it was a foundation of materialism, upon which was raised a superstructure of idolatry.
The most remarkable feature in the heathen theology is the multiplicity of its gods. The easy temper of polytheism, as it has been called, hesitated not to adopt the divinities of the surrounding nations; while the deification, not only of heroes and kings, but of the virtues and vices, with the genii of the woods and waters, mountains and cities, contributed to introduce new and strange inmates into the Pantheon. But if we eject these modern intruders, if we restore to their original seats the imported deities, such as Pan to Arcadia, Dermes to Egypt, Osiris to Memphis, Hercules to Tyre, and Dionysus to India; and if we investigate the origin of each, we shall find every nation, notwithstanding the variety of names, acknowledging the same deities and the same system of theology: and, however humble any of the deities may appear in the Pantheons of Greece and Rome, each, who has any claim to antiquity, will be found ultimately, if not immediately, resolvable into the original God or Goddess, into one or other of the two primeval principles.
In conducting such an investigation, a very singular circumstance presents itself in the manifold character of these deities. Their human or terrestrial appearance, as mere mortals deified is the most obvious; as the sun, moon, elements, and powers of nature, they assume a celestial or physical aspect. And if we turn to the writings of the philosophers, we shall find them sustaining a character more abstract and metaphysical. Yet under all these different forms, the same general system is preserved.
In his terrestrial character, the chief Hero God, under whatever name, is claimed by every nation as its progenitor and founder. And not only is he celebrated as the king of that country in particular, but of the whole world. He is exposed to some alarming danger from the sea, or an evil principle or monster by which the sea is represented. He is nevertheless rescued by some friendly female aid, sometimes concealed in a cavern or in the moon, or preserved in a death-like sleep, borne upon a snake, or floating on an island or a lotus, though more frequently in a boat or ark. At length he awakens from his slumber, subdues his enemy, and lands upon a mountain. He then reorganizes the world, and becomes himself the father primarily of three sons, and through them, of the human race; not unfrequently with some allusions to the dove and rainbow. In fact, in his human character he was the great father of mankind; but he may not only be identified with Noah but with Adam likewise. The one was looked upon as the re-appearance of the other, and both an incarnation of the Deity.
In his immediate celestial character the God is universally held to be the Sun; but the character of the great Goddess is of a more complex description. As the companion of the man, she is the ark; which was regarded not onlyas his consort, but his daughter, as the work of his own hands; and his mother, fromwhose womb he again emerged, as an infant, to a second life; and his preserver during the catastrophe of the deluge. As the companion of the Sun she is either the earth or moon: not that the distinctions between the human and celestial characters are accurately maintained; for they are so strangely blended together, that the adventures applicable to one are frequently, and sometimes purposely, misapplied to the other. Thus, whilst the Man is said to have entered into, been concealed in, and have again issued from the ark, the moon, and the earth, indifferently, the Sun is fabled to have been plunged into the ocean, to have sailed upon a lotus, to have taken refuge in a floating island, and to have dwelt upon a sacred mountain left dry by the retiring flood.9
It has been often remarked, that the Theogonies and Cosmogonies of the heathens were the same. In addition to those naturally constituting a part of the work, I have given the most remarkable of the Hermetic, Orphic, and Pythagorean accounts; which will be found, with the celebrated collection from Damascius, under a separate head. By comparing these with the Cosmogonies of Sanchoniatho, Berossus, and the rest, we may, without much difficulty, arrive at the following conclusion: that the Ether and Chaos, or, in the language of the Philosophers, Mind and Matter, were the two primeval, eternal, and independent principles of the universe; the one regarded as a vivifying and intellectual principle, the other as a watery Chaos, boundless, and without form: both which continued for a time without motion, and in darkness. By a mystic union of the two was forrned the great Hermaphroditic deity, the One, the universal World; of which the Chaotic matter presently became the body, and the Etherial Intellectual principle the soul. As soon as the union had commenced, from the Ether sprung forth the triad, Phanes or Eros, a triple divinity, the most prominent character of which was Light. He was the same with the Soul of the World, and the Intelligible triad so largely insisted upon by the Platonists. The gross chaotic elements of Earth and Water were formed into the terraqueous globe, while the disposing Ether, in the character of Phanes, under some three of the conditions of Light, Air, Heat, Fire, Ether, Flame, or Spirit, composed a physical trinity concentred in the Sun, the soul and ruler of the world. Or, according to the more refined speculations, it consisted of a trinity of mental powers, in which the Understanding, Reason or Intellect, the Soul, Passions, Feelings or Affections, Power, Counsel or Will, are variously combined. Viewed, therefore, either under a physical or metaphysical aspect, it is still a triad subordinate to, and emanating from the more ancient Intellectual Ether, and into which each person of the triad is again resolvable.10
With respect to the Physical triad, by comparing the heathen accounts with similar passages in the Scriptures, though not decisive, yet so preponderating does the evidence appear to me upon this point, that if the school of Hutchinson had not failed to establish their very elegant hypothesis, as to the fact that the Fire, Light, and Spirit or Air, were only three different conditions of one and the same etherial fluid, appearing as Fire at the orb of the Sun, as Light proceeding from it, and as Spirit returning to it, I should not have hesitated to subscribe to the opinion that such was the original trinity of the Gentiles; a triad, nevertheless, subordinate to a monad, which existed in the form of Ether previously to its assuming such conditions.
The Metaphysical speculations of the ancients upon this subject can only be derived by analogical reasoning from contemplation of the microcosm of man. To point out the close analogy preserved in this particular between the Metaphysical and Physical system before explained I would observe, that Man is a being compounded of an Intellectual, and of a Material substance, both of which were canceived by the ancients to have pre-existed, before they became united in the compound individual animal, the Man. When thus united, they appear to have conceived a triad of intellectual powers, the Intellect, the Affections Feelings or Emotions, and the Will or Power of action. But for further illustration of these matters, and for such proof as can be produced, I must refer to the disquisition at the end.
Upon this subject, therefore, I cannot agree with Mr. Faber in supposing that the trinitarian speculations of the Heathens originated in the coincidence of Adam and Noah being each the father of three sons; for of the three distinct analogical systems the Metaphysical, of the Mind with its Faculties, and Matter,—the Physical, of the Ether with its conditions, and the Chaos,—and the Human, of the Patriarch with his three sons, and the universal mother the Ark or Earth,—the last analogy is not only the most imperfect, but according to all historical accounts, Demonolatry was introduced subsequently to the worship of nature and the elements.
From the widely dispersed traditions upon the subject, it is manifest that the circumstances of the creation and the deluge were well known to all mankind previously to the dispersion. And the writings of Moses give to the chosen people, not so much a new revelation as a correct, authenticated and inspired account of circumstances, which had then become partially obscured by time and abused by superstition. The formless watery Chaos and the Etherial substance of the heavens, enfolding and passing over its surface as a mighty wind, are the first principles both of the sacred and profane cosmogonies; but they are reclaimed by Moses as the materials, created by the immediate agency of an Almighty power. The subsequent process of formation so completely corresponds in both systems, that if they were not borrowed the one from the other, (a position which cannot be maintained,) they must each have been ultimately derived from the common source of revelation. Similar considerations upon the traditions of a Trinity, so universal among the nations, and an examination of what that Trinity was composed, forces upon me the conviction, that the trinitarian doctrine, as it is now believed, was one of the original and fundamental tenets of the Patriarchal religion; that the analogy between the Microcosm, as pointed out, and the then current accounts of the creation, became the stumbling block, which set mankind to refine upon the truth; that hence they fell into the errors of attributing eternity to matter, of placing a Monad above the Trinity, with the Pantheistic opinion that the Deity was no other than the universe itself. The doctrine of the succession ofworlds, the Metempsychosis, and Demonolatry would follow naturally enough by an extension of their system from the particular circumstances of the creation to those attendant upon the deluge. By the pride of false philosophy they forsook the truth of revelation, and sunk into materialism, into the worship of the elements, of man and beasts, and into idolatry with all its attendant abominations. 'When they knew God, they glorified him not as God; neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools; and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore, God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts.'11
To reclaim a world so fallen, the great manifestations of the Almighty from time to time have taken place. not only at the most civilized as well as celebrated periods of history, but upon the spots then best calculated for the general dissemination of truth among the heathens. The geographical situation of Palestine, chosen it may be for the seat of universal empire, is the most remarkable upon earth for the facility of communication which it affords with every quarter of the globe. At the time of the Advent, it formed as it were the boundary of the rival empires of Rome and Parthia, subject to Rome. but holding an intimate connexion with its colonial offspring within the Parthian dominions. And its situation was at that time not more excellently adapted for the universal diffusion of the Gospel, both in the East and West, than it was for the general instruction of mankind, in times of old, when it formed so considerable a part of the high road of communication between the empires of Egypt and Assyria. About the time of the eighteenth dynasty, the most brilliant I epoch of Egyptian history, the Exodus of the Israelites was effected: and the fame of the miraculous exploits of Moses and Joshua was wafted with the Danaan colonies to Greece, with the fugitive Canaanites to the West, and carried by the Israelites themselves into the East. During the revolutionary violence consequent upon the downfall of the ancient Assyrian empire, the same merciful Providence kept up a communication with the kingdoms which sprung out of its ruins, by the mission of Jonah to Nineveh, by the connexion of the princes of Samaria with Syria, and by the dispersion of the ten tribes over the territories of the Medes and Assyrians by Salmanasar: and upon the full re-establishment of the empire at Babylon, a knowledge of the truth was diffused far and wide by the captivity of the Jews themselves.
The conversion of Nebuchadnezzar, and the decrees of himself and his successors, both of the Assyrian and Persian line, in favour of the truth, must have been attended with at least some temporary effect upon the religious and philosophical sentiments of the East. And such an effect may be clearly traced in the very general reformation of the systems and superstitions which about this period took place.
Among the Persians, themselves a Scythic people, this reformation appears to have re-animated their zeal and enmity against the temples and idolatry of their Ionian rivals. It may also have led them to convert the two independent principles of Mind and Matter into spiritual agents in opposition to one another, and to have revived the unmingled worship of the Sun and Fire, at first but as an emblem and image of the Supreme, though it soon again degenerated into the Sabaism of old. The reformation may be traced through Assyria, India, China and Egypt, and in those amendments and refinements which were shortly afterwards imported by Pythagoras into Greece.
A summary of the Pythagorean doctrines will be found in the commencement of the celebrated treatise of Timæus Locrus. It may be observed, that the Pythagorean speculations have a tacit reference to the ancient classification of Causes, as the Efficient, the FormaI or Ideal, the Material and the Final. In conformity to this division we find introduced between the two ancient independent principles of Mind and Matter, the world of Forms or abstract Ideas, to which is attributed an eternal subsistence, if not an existence independent of the Mind; whilst the τἀγαϑὸν Good in the abstract, the summum bonum, the great final cause, became the subject of perpetual discussion and inquiry among all succeeding philosophers.
The Forms and Matter were now substituted for the ancient Duad; superior to which was placed the Efficient Cause as the Monad, Deity, or Demiurgus. This Duad was, nevertheless, regarded as two eternal and independent principles, and by their combination the Deity formed the Sensible world, a living animal, composed of soul and body. Subordinate to the duad is the Pythagorean Triad, occupying the same relative situation with respect to the duad as in the more ancient systems. By this introduction of the Ideal world, and the elevation of the deity above the duad, the system lost something of the gross materialism which had hitherto obtained, but it lost, at the same time, all knowledge of the ancient triad, which was now replaced by such triads as were more conformable to the Pythagorean mode, and of which the persons were often subordinate to, or comprehended within each other, as genera and species.
The doctrines of Plato differ only in refinement from the preceding. If we admit the Parmenides and the Timæus to embrace his complete system, God and Matter, two originally independent principles, are held to be, as it were, the extremities of that chain of being which composes the universe. Subordinate to the God, we have the Intelligible world of Ideas or the Forms, commencing, as the latter Platonists insist, with the Intelligible triad: but whether Plato regarded this world of Ideas in the abstract as subsisting only within the mind of the Deity, or whether he attributed to it a distinct existence12 without the Mind, comprehending different orders of divine super-essential beings, may well be questioned. When the Deity or Demiurgus thought proper to compose the world, he looked to this ideal world as the exemplar, in whose likeness he constructed his new work. He impressed the disordered material Chaos with the Forms, and rendered the world a living animal, after the pattern of its ideal prototype, consisting of a soul endued with Intellect, and of a body of which all beings comprehended in it, Gods Men Animals or material species, are but the concrete individuals, of which the abstract ideas unalterably subsist in the intelligible world. Though still supposed to continue in existence, the Deity, as in the more ancient systems, retires as effectually from the stage as did the ancient Ether when superseded by the Phanes. And all the mundane operations are carried on as before, by the Soul of the world.
While the Stoics and other schools retained the ancient doctrines, and looked not further than the world itself, it is true that the Pythagoreans and Plato held a God superior to the world; but it is extremely doubtful whether they entertained a sublimer conception of their great immediate efficient cause, the Soul of the world, or indeed of Soul in general, than the gross materialism of a subtile ether. They discouraged, likewise, the tenet of the succession of worlds; though it was subsequently revived by the later Platonists, by whom the Deity was supposed, at the predestined time, to swallow up the world, first the sensible, then the Ideal, and lastly Phanes the Intelligible triad, and to remain in the solitude of his unity.
Much as has been said upon the Platonic trinity I must confess that I can find fewer traces of that doctrine in the writings of Plato than of his less refined predecessors, the mythologists. I have given such extracts as appear to me to relate to the subject, together with a fragment of Amelius which expressly mentions the three kings of Plato as identical with the Orphic trinity. Dr. Morgan, in his essay upon the subject, satisfactorily refutes the notion, that Plato regarded the Logos as the second person of the trinity:13 and upon this refutation he denies that Plato held the doctrine at all, more particularly, as from the time of Plato to that of Ammonius Saccas in the third century, no disciple of his school seems to have been aware that such a doctrine was contained in his writings. Perhaps, however, we may trace some obscure allusions to it in the beginning of the second hypothesis of the Parmenides and in the passages which I have given; though in the latter the doctrines appear rather to refer to the Monad and Duad than to the genuine trinity of the ancients. So far from any such doctrine being maintained by the Pythagoreans or in the Academy, we find only such vague allusions as might be expected among philosophers, who reverenced an ancient tradition, and were willing, after they had lost the substance, to find something to which they might attach the shadow.
The error which Dr. Morgan has refuted, took its rise with the fathers of the Church in the second century. They were led into the mistake by the word Logos, used by Plato and St. John, and made the Platonic Trinity to consist of God, the Logos, and the Soul of the world, and this in spite of all the professed followers of Plato, who, however they might vary among themselves, uniformly insisted upon placing the Monad and Duad, or at least a Monad, above their Triad.
In the first century of the Christian era, Philo, an Alexandrian Jew, had attempted to expound the Scripture on Platonic principles; and after the promulgation of the Gospel many of the fathers warmly adopted the same mode of exposition. The different sects of the Gnostics went far beyond the Grecian sage, and sought in the East the doctrines, to which they looked upon the writings of Plato merely as essays, introductory to the sublimer flights of the Oriental mysticism: and they treated his followers with that contempt, against which the vanity of a philosopher is seldom proof; and as long as these schools existed, a bitter enmity prevailed between them. The Gnostics gave at once a real existence to the Ideal world, and continuing the chain of being from the Supreme, through numerous orders of Eons, personified abstract ideas, of which the second and third persons of the Trinity were the first and second Eons, and from thence to the lowest material species, founded that daring heresy which so long disturbed the tranquillity of Christendom: and with this spurious Platonism of the fathers the Arian15 heresy is likewise intimately connected.
But the internal heresies of the Church were not the only ill effects which the misguided zeal of the fathers, in forcing upon Plato the doctrine of the Trinity, brought about. Though it is possible, that by pointing out some crude similarity of doctrine, they might have obtajned some converts by rendering Christianity less unpalatable to the philosophical world of that day, yet the weapon was skilfully turned against them, and with unerring effect, when the Pagans took upon them to assert that nothing new had been revealed in Christianity; since, by the confessions of its very advocates, the system was previously contained in the writings of Plato.
In the third century, Ammonius Saccas, universally acknowledged to have been a man of consummate ability, taught that every sect, Christian, Heretic or Pagan, had received the truth, and retained it in their varied legends. He undertook, therefore, to unfold it from them all, and to reconcile every creed. And from his exertions sprung the celebrated Eclectic school of the later Platonists. Plotinus, Amelius, Olympius, Porphyrius, Jamblichus, Syrianus, and Proclus, were among the celebrated professors who succeeded Ammonius in the Platonic chair, and revived and kept alive the spirit of Paganism, with a bitter enmity to the Gospel, for near three hundred years. The Platonic schools were at length closed by the edict of Justinian; and seven wise men, the last lights of Platonism, Diogenes, Hermias, Eulalius, Priscianus, Damascius, Isidorus and Simplicius retired indignantly from the persecutions of Justinian, to realize the shadowy dreams of the republic of Plato, under the Persian despotism of Chosroes.16
From the writings of these philosophers is collected the bulk of the Oracles of Zoroaster. A few of them were first published by Ludovicus Tiletanus at Paris, with the commentaries of Pletho, to which were subsequently added those of Psellus. Chief part of them, however, were collected by Franciscus Patricius, and published with the Hermetic books at the end of his Nova Philosophia. To the labours of Mr. Taylor we are indebted for the addition of about fifty more, and for the references to the works from whence all were extracted. I have arranged them according to the subjects, which are said to be occultly discussed in the Parmenides of Plato, viz.: Cause or God, the Ideal Intelligible or Intellectual world, Particular Souls, and the Material world. And I have placed under a separate head the Magical and Philosophical precepts and directions. There can be no question but that many of these Oracles are spurious; all those, for instance, which relate to the Intelligible and Intellectual orders, which were confessedly obtained in answers given by dæmons, raised for that purpose by the Theurgists;17 who, as well as all the later Platonists, made pretensions to magic, not only in its refinements, which they were pleased to designate Theurgy, but also in that debased form which we should call common witchcraft. Nevertheless, several of the Oracles seem to be derived from more authentic sources, and, like the spurious Hermetic books which have come down to us, probably contain much of the pure Sabiasm of Persia, and the doctrines of the Oriental philosophy.
I have thus endeavoured to give I fear a very imperfect outline of ancient history and theology. But, as it is intended rather to assist the reader through such an heterogeneous heap of materials, by bringing forward the most prominent parts and connecting them with one another, I trust its errors will be excused, as they may be corrected by the readers better judgrnent from the materials themselves before him. In closing the subject, I beg to offer my sincerest thanks to Isaac Cullimore, Esq., to whose deep and extensive chronological researches, I am indebted for references to several very important passages in the following work, which had escaped my notice.
It is needless to take notice of the numerous forgeries, which have been issued as the productions of the authors of these fragments. There is a complete set, which was composed in Latin by Annius, a monk of Viterbo. But it is a singular circumstance, and one which might be urged with great force against the genuineness of almost the whole collection, that not only the original works have perished, but those also, through whose means these relics have been handed down. With the exception of these fragments, not only have Sanchoniatho, Berossus, and the rest passed into oblivion; but the preservers of their names have followed in the same track, and to a more unusual fate. The fragments of Philo, Abydenus, Polyhistor, Dius, and others, are generally not those of their own works, but extracts from their predecessors.
It is necessary also to advert to the numerous errors which will be found in every sheet. The fragments have been exposed to more than the common risks and accidents, to which all ancient writings have been subject. They have been either copied from the rude annals of antiquity, or sketched from historical paintings or hieroglyphic records, they have been sometimes translated from the sacred into the common language of the place, and again translated into Greek; then passed in citation from hand to hand, and lie widely scattered over the works principally of the fathers, and the writers of the Lower empire. It is matter of surprise then, not that they abound in error and uncertainty, but that so much of them has been preserved.
Several of these fragments are to be found in two or three different authors, each of whom contains a different version of the same, differing, not so much in the outline, and in the general flow of words, as in those technicalities and variations of termination, which were necessary to adapt them to the author's style; and it has been a source of some little perplexity to determine which of these various readings to prefer.
To Eusebius, Syncellus and Josephus, we are largely indebted for these relics of antiquity. For Josephus I have followed Hudson's edition. The Cologne edition of the Præparatio Evangelica of Eusebius is often considered the best: but upon close inspection and comparison I have been induced to prefer the text of Stephanus. With the exception of a mutilated translation into Latin by Hieronymus, Eusebius' Chronicle was lost. Under that title, however, Scaliger compiled a very portly folio, which, with some other Chronicles, contains a collection of all the fragments of the Greek text of Eusebius, that could be found. The recovery of the Armenian translation of this Chronicle is a great acquisition. It is regarded upon the Continent as perfectly authentic; but I am not aware that it has been examined or reviewed in England. To compress as much as possible all unnecessary observations upon the subject of materials, editions and abbreviations, I have given at the end a list of the authors cited, which will answer at once the several purposes of an index to the abbreviations, and to the editions I have used or referred to, as well as to the manuscripts and other sources from which some of those editions have been formed, or which have been consulted in the compilation of the work. I have likewise given it the form of a Chronological index, by adding the times in which the authors referred to flourished, that the reader may judge what degree of credit may be reposed in each.
The matter contained in these fragments is the only merit to which they can pretend. I have chosen what appeared to me the most genuine text, independent of all theory and system, and have given all the various readings of any consequence I have met with. I have retained Mr. Falconer's translation of Hanno's Periplus; and with this exception, and some few of the most obscure of the oracles of Zoroaster, which are due to Mr. Taylor, I must be answerable for the rest. For the many errors in which they must abound, I beg leave to apologize and claim indulgence. The broken and confused state of many of the fragments, preclude the possibility of giving any translation, except upon conjecture. Many, such as the Orphic fragment from Malala, and that from Amelius, have exercised the talent and ingenuity of some of the ablest commentators, none of whom perhaps will be found to agree. In such cases, I have patiently compared their opinions, and endeavoured to investigate the circumstances under which the fragments were written and have been preserved, and what connexion they have with the passages among which they are introduced, and to give, what to the best of my judgment is, the truth.
At the conclusion of this work I have added a disquisition, which was originally designed merely to explain and illustrate what I conceive to have been the ancient Trinity of the Gentiles: but in the progress of inquiry I found it impossible to do justice to the opinion without speaking largely upon ancient and modern science. To compress it, therefore, as much as possible, and to give it something of a connected arrangement, I have thrown it altogether into the form of an inquiry into the Method, Objects and Result of ancient and modern Philosophy. And, as in this work I have endeavoured to bring forward several historical and theological documents, which had, in a manner, retired from public view, I trust that such an inquiry will not be deemed altogether misplaced, and that I shall be excused in an attempt to draw from the same store-house of antiquity some speculations, which have been too generally slighted or overlooked by the Metaphysician and the Philosopher, but which I believe may tend to the advancement of science, even amid the brilliant discoveries of modern times.
With respect to the fragments themselves, the classical reader will find, I fear, but poor amusement in perusing a half barbarous dialect, replete with errors and inconsistencies: to the student of divinity, however, they may not be altogether unacceptable or devoid of interest: and to the inquirer after ancient history and mythology, it must be useful to have collected into one small volume, the scattered relics for which he must otherwise search so widely.
1 To these, perhaps, may be added a fourth, viz. that the superstition became general, partly by peaceful communication, and partly by force of arms: though the fulness of the evidence is such as to render this equally untenable with the others.
2 In the Syriac Chronicle of Bar-Hebræus, the names in the catalogue are given to certain recluses of the line of Seth, called the Sons of God, who lived upon Mount Hermon, and afterwards apostatized and became the fathers of the Giants.
3 Upon the rebuilding of Babylon, the Tower was completed most probably on the original plan. It is described by Herodotus as a pyramid of eight steps, about seven hundred feet high. Its ruins, which are still known upon the spot as the Birs Nembrod, or the tower of Nimrod, are described by Sir R. K. Porter, as a prodigious pile of unburnt bricks cemented with mud and reeds in horizontal layers, still rising to the enormous height of about two hundred and fifty feet.
4 Most probably derived from Ione: for the worship of the great Goddess,or universal Mother, was then introduced, as well as Idolatry. lt signifies also a Dove, which was the standard of the Assyrian Empire.
5 See Faber, Lib. VI. c. 4.
6 The term Scuth, which, with the prefix, is supposed to be the same as Cuth or Cush, the root of the names Chusas Chasas Cassians Cusæans or Chrusæans, Chusdim Chasdim or Chaldæans, Cotti or Goths and many others, appears too general for a patronymic. All the northern nations were Scuthic, the Scuths of Touran. The Scuths of Iran occupied the entire Asiatic Ethiopia, containing the Iranian territories of the Assyrian Empire, extending from the Euphrates to the Indus, and from the Caspian to the Ocean. African Ethiopia or Nubia with the adjoining territories was also Cuthic. There were Indo-Scythæ, Celto-Scythæ, and even Ionic-Scythæ. The Belgæ in Gaul, the Pelasgi in Greece, the Sacas or Saxons, the Pelestim Philistim and Prœnicians, the Sarmans Sarmatians and Germans were Scuths. In short, the term is to be found in every corner of the earth, and may be traced in America and in Lapland, as well as in China and Japan.
7 Vol. ii. p. 556.
8 See Faber at length upon this subject, Pag. Id. Vol. II.
9 See Faber, Pag. Id.
10 See the Inquiry at the end.
11 Romans, i. 21.
12 Existence, according to the ancients, implies essence; whereas the ldeal world was deemed super-essential: but I am compelled to use the words to make myself understood; for the English language has not been sufficiently accommodated to these metaphysical subtleties of the Greeks to supply the requisite terms.
13 The celebrated passage in the Epinomis of Plato Ξυναποτεγῶν χόσμον ὃν ἔταξε λόγος ὁ πὰντων ϑειότατος ὁρατόν, usually rendered, "Perfecting the visible world, which the word, the most divine of all things, made," refers to avery different subject. The inquiry in this part of the dialogue relates to the knowledge of number, without which it is asserted a man cannot have λόγος reason; and if destitute of reason, he cannot attain wisdom. The God, which imparted to man the knowledge of numbers, is the Heaven, for there are eight powers contained in it akin to each other, that of the Sun, of the Moon, &c. to whom, he says, must be assigned equal honour—"For let us not assign to one the honour of the year, to another the honour of the month, and to others none of that portion of time, in which each performs its course in conjunction with the others, accomplishing that visible order which reason, the most divine of all things (or of the Universe.) has established.
The no less celebrated passage from the Philebus, Ὅτι νοῦς ἔστι γενούστης τοῦ πάντων αἰτίου, by which it is supposed that the consubstantiality of the Logos with the first cause is asserted, relates to the human mind, and is the conclusion of an argument which proves, that as ordinary fire is derived from the elemental, and the human body from the elemental body of the world, so is the human mind akin to, or of the same nature with the Divine mind, or Soul of the universe, the cause of all things. These and other less celebrated passages of Plato, when examined in conjunction with this context, afford us, as Dr. Morgan justly observes, no more foundation for supposing that Plato held the doctrine of the Trinity than the following very curious passage, which he produces from Seneca, gives us ground to suppose that it was held by the Stoics: "Id actum est, mihi crede ab illo, quisquis formator universi filit, sive ille Deus est potens omnium, sive incorporalis ratio ingentium operum artifex, sive divinus spiritus per omnia maxima minima, æquali intentione diffusus, sive fatum et immutabilis causarum inter se cohærentium series."14 To the observations from Dr. Morgan's work, I may venture to add that the word Logos, as used by St. John and Plato, has two very distinct significations. By the latter, Reason in general is implied, whereas St. John uses it as a translation of the Hebrew DBR, the Word signifying also a thing or person revealed, and if at all in the sense of reason, which may be implied from the commentaries of the fathers, not for reason in general, but for the particular faculty so called.
14 Consol. ad Helv. c. 8.
15 It is curious to observe the Arian and Orthodox illustrations of Eusebius and Epiphanius. The former illustrates the Trinity by the Heaven, the Sun, and the Spirit; or the Heaven, the Sun, and the Moon, the two latter as the leaders of innumerable host of spirits and stars, evidently derived from the prevailing notions of the Fathers relative to the Platonic trinity; whilst Epiphanius declares, that this great mystery is properly understood as Fire, Light, and Spirit or Air reveal it to us.
16 For the particulars of this philosophical transaction see Gibbon, c. xl.
17 The Theurgists were the two Julians, the father called Chaldæus, the son, Theurgus. They flourished in the reign of Marcus Antoninus, and were the first who delivered the oracles upon the Intelligible and Intellectual orders.