In the vision of Ezekiel, God is described as descending upon the combined forms of the eagle, the bull, and the lion, 2 the emblems of the ætherial spirit, the creative and destructive powers, which were all united in the true God, though hypostatically divided in the Syrian trinity. Man was compounded with them, as representing the real image of God, according to the Jewish theology. The cherubim on the ark of the covenant, between which God dwelt, 3 were also compounded of the same form, 4 so that the idea of them must have been present to the prophet's mind, previous to the apparition which furnished him with the description. Even those on the ark of the covenant, though made at the express command of God, do not appear to have been original; for a figure exactly answering to the description of them appears among those curious ruins existing at Chilminar, in Persia, which have been supposed to be those of the palace of Persepolis, burnt by Alexander; but for what reason, it is not easy to conjecture. They do not, certainly, answer to any ancient
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BACCHUS AND MEDALS OF CAMARINA AND SYRACUSE
description extant of that celebrated palace; but, as far as we can judge of them in their present state, appear evidently to have been a temple. 1 But the Persians, as before observed, had no inclosed temples or statues, which they held in such abhorrence, that they tried every means possible to destroy those of the Egyptians; thinking it unworthy of the majesty of the deity to have his all-pervading presence limited to the boundary of an edifice, or likened to an image of stone or metal. Yet, among the ruins at Chilminar, we not only find many statues, which are evidently of ideal beings, 2 but also that remarkable emblem of the deity, which distinguishes almost all the Egyptian temples now extant. 3 The portals are also of the same form as those at Thebes and Philæ; and, except the hieroglyphics which distinguish the latter, are finished and ornamented nearly in the same manner. Unless, therefore, we suppose the Persians to have been so inconsistent as to erect temples in direct contradiction to the first principles of their own religion, and decorate them with symbols
and images, which they held to be impious and abominable, we cannot suppose them to be the authors of these buildings. Neither can we suppose the Parthians, or later Persians, to have been the builders of them; for both the style of workmanship in the figures, and the forms of the letters in the inscriptions, denote a much higher antiquity, as will appear evidently to any one who will take the trouble of comparing the drawings published by Le Bruyn and Niebuhr with the coins of the Arsacidæ and Sassanidæ. Almost all the symbolical figures are to be found repeated upon different Phnician coins; but the letters of the Phnicians, which are said to have come to them from the Assyrians, are much less simple, and evidently belong to an alphabet much further advanced in improvement. Some of the figures are also observable upon the Greek coins, particularly the bull and lion fighting, and the mystic flower, which is the constant device of the Rhodians. The style of workmanship is also exactly the same as that of the very ancient Greek coins of Acanthus, Celendaris, and Lesbos; the lines being very strongly marked, and the hair expressed by round knobs. The wings likewise of the figure, which resembles the Jewish cherubim, are the same as those upon several Greek sculptures now extant; such as the little images of Priapus attached to the ancient bracelets,
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Statue of a Bull in the Pagoda of Tanjore.
the compound figures of the goat and lion upon the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Didymæus, &c. &c. 1 They are likewise joined to the human figure on the medals of Melita and Camarina, 2 as well as upon many ancient sculptures in relief found in Persia. 3 The feathers in these wings are turned upwards like those of an ostrich, 4 to which however they have no resemblance in form, but seem rather like those of a fowl brooding, though more distorted than any I ever observed in nature. Whether this distortion was meant to express lust or incubation, I cannot determine; but the compositions, to which the wings are added, leave little doubt, that it was meant for the one or the other. I am inclined to believe that it was for the latter, as we find on the medals of Melita a figure with four of these wings, who seems by his attitude to be brooding over something. 5 On his head is the cap of liberty, whilst in his right hand he holds the hook or attractor, and in his left the winnow or separator; so that he probably represents the Ερως, or generative spirit brooding over matter, and giving
liberty to its productive powers by the exertion of his own attributes, attraction and separation. On a very ancient Phnician medal brought from Asia by Mr. Pullinger, and published very incorrectly by Mr. Swinton in the Philosophical Transactions of 1760, is a disc or ring surrounded by wings of different forms, of which some of the feathers are distorted in the same manner. 1 The same disc, surrounded by the same kind of wings, incloses the asterisc of the sun over the bull Apis, or Mnevis, on the Isiac Table, 2 where it also appears with many of the other Egyptian symbols, particularly over the heads of Isis and Osiris. 3 It is also placed over the entrances of most of the Egyptian temples described by Pococke and Norden as well as on that represented on the Isiac Table, 4 though with several variations, and without the asterisc. We find it equally without the asterisc, but with little or no variation, on the ruins at Chilmenar, and other supposed Persian antiquities in that neighbourhood: 5 but upon some of the Greek medals the asterisc alone is placed over the bull with
the human face, 1 who is then the same as the Apis or Mnevis of the Egyptians; that is, the image of the generative power of the sun, which is signified by the asterisc on the Greek medals, and by the kneph, or winged disc, on the Oriental monuments. The Greeks however sometimes employed this latter symbol, but contrived, according to their usual practice, to join it to the human figure, as may be seen on a medal of Camarina, published by Prince Torremmuzzi. 2 On other medals of this city the same idea is expressed, without the disc or asterisc, by a winged figure, which appears hovering over a swan, the emblem of the waters, to show the generative power of the sun fructifying that element, or adding the active to the passive powers of production. 3 On the medals of Naples, a winged figure of the same kind is represented crowning the Taurine Bacchus with a wreath of laurel. 4 This antiquarians have called a Victory crowning the Minotaur; but the fabulous monster called the Minotaur was never said to have been victorious, even by the poets who invented it; and whenever the sculptors and painters represented
it, they joined the head of a bull to a human body, as may be seen in the celebrated picture of Theseus, published among the antiquities of Herculaneum, and on the medals of Athens, struck about the time of Severus, when the style of art was totally changed, and the mystic theology extinct. The winged figure, which has been called a Victory, appears mounting in the chariot of the sun, on the medals of queen Philistis, 1 and, on some of those of Syracuse, flying before it in the place where the asterisc appears on others of the same city. 2 I am therefore persuaded, that these are only different modes of representing one idea, and that the winged figure means the same, when placed over the Taurine Bacchus of the Greeks, as the winged disc over the Apis or Mnevis of the Egyptians. The Ægis, or snaky breastplate, and the Medusa's head, are also, as Dr. Stukeley justly observed, 3 Greek modes of representing this winged disc joined with the serpents, as it frequently is, both in the Egyptian sculptures, and those of Chilmenar in Persia. The expressions of rage and violence, which usually characterise the countenance of Medusa, signify the destroying attribute joined with the generative, as both were equally under the direction of
[paragraph continues] Minerva, or divine wisdom. I am inclined to believe, that the large rings, to which the little figures of Priapus are attached, 1 had also the same meaning as the disc; for, if intended merely to suspend them by, they are of an extravagant magnitude, and would not answer their purpose so well as a common loop.
On the Phnician coin above mentioned, this symbol, the winged disc, is placed over a figure sitting, who holds in his hands an arrow, whilst a bow, ready bent, of the ancient Scythian form, lies by him. 2 On his head is a large loose cap, tied under his chin, which I take to be the lion's skin, worn in the same manner as on the heads of Hercules, upon the medals of Alexander; but the work is so small, though executed with extreme nicety and precision, and perfectly preserved, that it is difficult to decide with certainty what it represents, in parts of such minuteness. The bow and arrows, we know, were the ancient arms of Hercules; 3 and continued so, until the Greek poets thought proper to give him the club. 4 He was particularly worshipped at Tyre, the metropolis of Phnicia; 5 and his head appears in the
usual form, on many of the coins of that people. We may hence conclude that he is the person here represented, notwithstanding the difference in the style and composition of the figure, which may be accounted for by the difference of art. The Greeks, animated by the spirit of their ancient poets, and the glowing melody of their language, were grand and poetical in all their compositions; whilst the Phnicians, who spoke a harsh and untuneable dialect, were unacquainted with fine poetry, and consequently with poetical ideas; for words being the types of ideas, and the signs or marks by which men not only communicate them to each other, but arrange and regulate them in their own minds, the genius of a language goes a great way towards forming the character of the people who use it. Poverty of expression will produce poverty of conception; for men will never be able to form sublime ideas, when the language in which they think (for men always think as well as speak in some language) is incapable of expressing them. This may be one reason why the Phnicians never rivalled the Greeks in the perfection of art, although they attained a degree of excellence long before them; for Homer, whenever he has occasion to speak of any fine piece of art, takes care to inform us that it was the work of Sidonians. He also mentions the Phnician merchants
bringing toys and ornaments of dress to sell to the Greeks, and practicing those frauds which merchants and factors are apt to practice upon ignorant people. 1 It is probable that their progress in the fine arts, like that of the Dutch (who are the Phnicians of modern history), never went beyond a strict imitation of nature; which, compared to the more elevated graces of ideal composition, is like a newspaper narrative compared with one of Homer's battles. A figure of Hercules, therefore, executed by a Phnician artist, if compared to one by Phidias or Lysippus, would be like a picture of Moses or David, painted by Teniers, or Gerard Dow, compared to one of the same, painted by Raphael or Annibal Caracci. This is exactly the difference between the figures on the medal now under consideration, and those on the coins of Gelo or Alexander. Of all the personages of the ancient mythology, Hercules is perhaps the most difficult to explain; for physical allegory and fabulous history are so entangled in the accounts we have of him, that it is scarcely possible to separate them. He appears however, like all the other gods, to have been originally a personified attribute of the sun. The eleventh of the Orphic Hymns 2 is addressed to
him as the strength and power of the sun; and Macrobius says that he was thought to be the strength and virtue of the gods, by which they destroyed the giants; and that, according to Varro, the Mars and Hercules of the Romans were the same deity, and worshipped with the same rites. 1 According to Varro then, whose authority is perhaps the greatest that can be cited, Hercules was the destroying attribute represented in a human form, instead of that of a lion, tiger, or hippopotamus. Hence the terrible picture drawn of him by Homer, which always appeared to me to have been taken from some symbolical statue, which the poet not understanding, supposed to be of the Theban hero, who had assumed the title of the deity, and whose fabulous history he was well acquainted with. The description however applies in every particular to the allegorical personage. His attitude, ever fixed in the act of letting fly his arrow, 2 with the figures of lions and bears, battles and murders, which adorn his belt, all unite in representing him as the destructive attribute personified. But how happens it then that he is so frequently represented strangling the lion, the natural emblem of this power? Is this an historical fable belonging to the
Theban hero, or a physical allegory of the destructive power destroying its own force by its own exertions? Or is the single attribute personified taken for the whole power of the deity in this, as in other instances already mentioned? The Orphic Hymn above cited seems to favour this last conjecture; for he is there addressed both as the devourer and generator of all (Παμφαγε, παγγενετωζ). However this may be, we may safely conclude that the Hercules armed with the bow and arrow, as he appears on the present medal, is like the Apollo, the destroying power of the diurnal sun.
On the other side of the medal 1 is a figure, somewhat like the Jupiter on the medals of Alexander and Antiochus, sitting with a beaded sceptre in his right hand, which he rests upon the head of a bull, that projects from the side of the chair. Above, on his right shoulder, is a bird, probably a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, descending from the sun, but, as this part of the medal is less perfect than the rest, the species cannot be clearly discovered. In his left hand be holds a short staff, from the upper side of which springs an ear of corn, and from the lower a bunch of grapes, which being the two most esteemed productions of the earth, were the natural emblems
of general fertilization. This figure is therefore the generator, as that on the other side is the destroyer, whilst the sun, of whose attributes both are personifications, is placed between them. The letters on the side of the generator are quite entire, and, according to the Phnician alphabet published by Mr. Dutens, are equivalent to the Roman ones which compose the words Baal Thrz, of which Mr. Swinton makes Baal Tarz, and translates Jupiter of Tarsus; whence he concludes that this coin was struck at that city. But the first letter of the last word is not a Teth, but a Thau, or aspirated T; and, as the Phnicians had a vowel answering to the Roman A, it is probable they would have inserted it, had they intended it to be sounded: but we have no reason to believe that they had any to express the U or Y, which must therefore be comprehended in the preceding consonant whenever the sound is expressed. Hence I conclude that the word here meant is Thyrz or Thurz, the Thor or Thur of the Celtes and Sarmatians, the Thurra of the Assyrians, the Turan of the Tyrrhenians or Etruscans, the Taurine Bacchus of the Greeks, and the deity whom the Germans carried with them in the shape of a bull, when they invaded Italy; from whom the city of Tyre, as well as Tyrrhenia, or Tuscany, probably took its name. His symbol the bull, to which the name alludes, is represented on the chair or
throne in which he sits; and his sceptre, the emblem of his authority, rests upon it. The other word, Baal, was merely a title in the Phnician language, signifying God, or Lord; 1 and used as an epithet of the sun, as we learn from the name Baal-bec (the city of Baal), which the Greeks rendered Heliopolis (the city of the sun).
Thus does this singular medal show the fundamental principles of the ancient Phnician religion to be the same as those which appear to have prevailed through all the other nations of the northern hemisphere. Fragments of the same system every where occur, variously expressed as they were variously understood, and oftentimes merely preserved without being understood at all; the ancient reverence being continued to the symbols, when their meaning was wholly forgotten. The hypostatical division and essential unity of the deity is one of the most remarkable parts of this system, and the farthest removed from common sense and reason; and yet this is perfectly reasonable and consistent, if considered together with the rest of it: for the emanations and personifications were only figurative abstractions of particular modes of action and existence, of which the primary cause and original essence still continued one and the same.
The three hypostases being thus only one being, each hypostasis is occasionally taken for all; as is the case in the passage of Apuleius before cited, where Isis describes herself as the universal deity. In this character she is represented by a small basaltine figure, of Egyptian sculpture, at Strawberry Hill, which is covered over with symbols of various kinds from top to bottom. 1 That of the bull is placed lowest, to show that the strength or power of the creator is the foundation and support of every other attribute. On her head are towers, to denote the earth; and round her neck is hung a crab-fish, which, from its power of spontaneously detaching from its body, and naturally reproducing, any limbs that are hurt or mutilated, became the symbol of the productive power of the waters; in which sense it appears on great numbers of ancient medals of various cities. 2 The nutritive power is signified by her many breasts, and the destructive by the lions which she bears on her arms. Other attributes are expressed by various
other animal symbols, the precise meaning of which I have not sagacity sufficient to discover.
170:1 Pausan. lib. ii. c. 38.
170:2 Ezek. ch. i. ver. 10, with Lowth's Comm.
170:3 Exod. ch. xxv. ver. 22.
170:4 Spencer de Leg. Ritual Vet. Hebræor, lib. iii. dissert. 6.
173:1 See Le Bruyn, Voyage en Perse, Planche cxxiii.
173:2 See Le Bruyn and Niebuhr.
173:3 See Plate XVIII. Fig. 1 from the Isiac Table, and Plate XIX. Fig 5 from Niebuhr's prints of Chilminar. See also Plate XVIII. Fig. 2 and Plate XIX. Fig. 1 from the Isiac Tables and the Egyptian Portals published by Norden and Pococke, on every one of which this singular emblem occurs.
177:1 See Le Bruyn, Planche cxxiii. Ionian Antiquities, vol. i. c. 3. Plate IX., and Plate II. Fig. 2.
177:2 See Plate XX. Fig. 2, from one of Melita, belonging to me.
177:3 See Le Bruyn, Planche cxxi.
177:4 As those on Figures described by Ezekiel were. See c. i. v. II.
177:5 See Plate XX. Fig. 2, engraved from one belonging to me.
178:1 See Plate IX. Fig. 9, engraved from the original medal, now belonging to me.
178:2 See Plate XIX, Fig. 1, from Pignorius.
178:3 See Plate XVIII. Fig. 2, from Pignorius.
178:4 See Plate XVIII. Fig. 1, from Pignorius.
178:5 See Niebuhr and Le Bruyn, and Plate XIX. Fig. 2, from the former.
179:1 See Plate IV. Fig. 2, and Plate XIX. Fig. 4, from a medal of Cales, belonging to me.
179:2 See Plate XXI. Fig. 2, copied from it.
179:3 See Plate XXI. Fig. 3, from one belonging to me.
179:4 See Plate XIX. Fig. 5. The coins are common in all collections.
180:1 See Plate XXI. Fig. 4, from one belonging to me.
180:2 See Plate XXI. Fig. 5 and 6, from coins belonging to me.
180:3 Abury, p. 93.
181:1 See Plate II. Fig. 1, and Plate III. Fig. 2.
181:2 See Plate IX. Fig. 10 b.
181:3 Homer's Odyss. Λ, ver. 606.
181:4 Strabo, lib. xiv.
181:5 Macrob. Sat. lib. i. c. 20.
183:1 Homer. Odyss. O, ver. 414.
183:2 Ed. Gesner.
184:1 Sat. lib. i. c. 20.
184:2 Αιει Βαλεοντι ἑοικως. Odyss. λ, ver. 607.
185:1 See Plate IX. Fig. 10 a.
187:1 Cleric. Comm. in 2 Reg. c. i. ver. 2.
188:1 A print of one exactly the same Is published by Montfaucon, Antiq. expliq. vol. i. Plate XCIII. Fig. i.
188:2 See those of Agrigentum, Himera, and Cyrene. On a small one of the first-mentioned city, belonging to me, a cross, the abbreviated symbol of the male powers of generation, approaches the mouth of the crab, while the cornucopia issues from It (see Plate XX. Fig. 3): the one represents the cause, and the other the effect of fertilization.