ePub 版


the demigods, described the first man, of whose history they knew any thing, by his name. they had heard of an ancestor who floated so long upon the ocean, that it seemed to be his native element, the first sacrificer and first civiliser of the world, and on that account represented to be half man, half dragon'; but the emblem not being understood, they supposed him to be compounded of a serpent instead ? of a fish. They acknowledged that he was among the first of men, and far beyond their computations of genealogy.* But they were unwilling to admit Boeotia, Egypt, and Crete to that share of property in him which they justly claimed; and so they contended that, like Erichthonius, and the family of Deucalion 4, he was sprung from the earth itself.

There is one other point in the history of Erichthonius which connects him with the deluge, though only indirectly, through the medium of Hindoo fable. Minerva gave him two drops of the Gor



1 Ovid calls him, geminus Cecrops ; and it may be doubtful, whether he alludes to the double form, or the double person, whom he represented. — Metam. 1. ii.

2 Ω Κέκροψ, ήρως άναξ, τα προς ποδών δρακοντίδη. Aristoph. Vespis. The Scholiast observes that he was de qua and Tà xátw oqews εσχηκέναι. .

3 Strabo, 1. ix. Euseb. Chron. 1. i. Plautus in Trinummo.

4 De Tressan notices the statements of various writers, that Cecrops first established the worship of the Gods, and that Deucalion was the first builder of temples in Greece, quite unconscious of the inconsistency which can only be reconciled by owning them to be impersonations of the same character.

5 Κέκροψ αυτόχθων, συμφυές έχων το σώμα, ανδρός και δράκοντος. Apollodorus, l. iii.

gon's blood, one of which was fatal in its touch, the other cured all diseases. These bear so strong a resemblance to the poison and amrita or liquor of immortality, produced much at the expence of the unfortunate serpent Sesha, that it can scarcely be a casual coincidence. But these were two of the jewels obtained by the churning of the ocean, which, undoubtedly, is only another version of the deluge. Such, then, being the history of the father and grandfather of Butes or Budha, may it not be affirmed that the grandson of Noah shines in Bootes, and in Arcturus his principal star? and may not his Hebrew name be an allusion to the gathering together or bursting forth of the waters which had so recently destroyed the earth? If, however, he should be thought a generation too late for that association, what if his father should be intended by Ash, commemorated under the name of Erichthonius the inventor of chariots, and catasterised in Auriga. At least this is the opinion of one who is a great authority in matters of Oriental astronomy. Hyde observes that in the Syriac version lyútho is the word here used, and in the Arabic, Aiyûk, which are only successive corruptions of the ancient Ash, pronounced by the Syrians Ath, or Aïth ; and he produces one of the Talmudists


| Euripid. Ion. 1020.

Primus Erichthonius currus et quatuor ausus
Jungere equos, rapidisque rotis insistere victor.

Virg. Georg. iii. 113.
wy Ash, vel w'y Aish, Syris ac Chaldæis proferendum esset

[ocr errors]

cited by Buxtorf, who asks, what is Ash ? Rabbi Jehudah answered: it is Yûtha. Iyûtho then is the same as Al Aiyuk, which Ulugh Beigh and all the Eastern astronomers allow to be the star Capella ; for the Greeks, always ambitious to dress up, after their own fashion, foreign terms which they did not understand, turned Aiyûk into Aiga a goat, i. e. Capella, to the great inconvenience of Auriga, to whom that large and conspicuous star properly belongs. When, however, we consider the extreme uncertainty of this word's signification ; that some confounded it with Orion', and others with Alde. baran ; that some said it was the tail of the Ram, and others the head of the Bull; it may be reasonably concluded, that a superstitious reverence for the fathers of the human race was more consulted than astronomical accuracy, and the feeling was that which Dryden expresses in his ode on Anne Killigrew :

“ But look aloft, and if thou ken'st from far
Among the Pleiads a new-kindled star,
If any sparkles than the rest more bright,
'Tis she that shines in that propitious light.”

ny Ath, vel n'y Aith, et interposito 1, Ayuth, vel Iyuth, quod prorsus convenit cum Syr. 12oil lyûtho, et hoc cum Arab. Aiyuk, mutato Thau in Kaph.-In Ullugh Beighi Tabulas Stellarum Fixarum Commentarii, p. 28.

1 Isa Bar Ali sic legit. Iyûtho est Al Aiyuk - et dicitur Al Gjauza, i. e. Orion. Bar Bah Cûl, sic explicare conatur ; Al Aiyûk in alio quodam exemplari est Al Debaran. Rabbi Jehudæ testimonium tale est. Quid est Yûtha ? Dicebant ipsi, Cauda Arietis. Dicebant alii, Caput Tauri.Hyde's Syntagma Dissertation., v.i.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

From the same source we may obtain the best in- . formation with respect to the next Asterism in Job, Chesil, which our translators have rendered Orion ; but there is reason to think it was not the cluster of stars now known by that name. Aben Ezra, supposed it to be Cor Scorpionis; but he is quite wrong, says Hyde. Kimchi has given the sense of the more learned Jews, in conjecturing it to be a star of the first magnitude in the rudder of Argo, called Canopus'; which, stripped of its Grecian disguise, is the Egyptian Cneph, or Cnouphis, derived from a Coptic word, signifying golden', and consequently a very appropriate name for a very brilliant star : but Cnouphis, or Canopus, was also a deity worshipped in a human form by the Egyptians. According to Porphyry, they considered him as the Demiurge, from whose mouth the world

1 Scripsit Rabbi Jona, quod Chesil est stella magna, quæ vocatur Arabicè, Soal (pro Soheil). Sic etiam Rabbi Ishak Israel ; Chesil est Soheil.

2 Aristides in oratione, quæ inscribitur AiYÚTTIOS, a Sacerdote quodam Ægyptio se accepisse ait, quod Kávwbos significet Xpureux egapos, Aureum solum ; et D. Salmasius dicit, Xyou6 denotare Aurum apud Coptitas.

issued in the shape of an egg, which immediately disclosed the God Phtha, or Vulcan, i.e. the God who was worshipped in fire. It is observable, that he is not supposed to have been the framer or the father of the world ; but the knowledge of the world, of its past history, its present capabilities, and its future destiny came out of his mouth, and his era was antecedent to the idolatry of fire. At a subsequent period, he became the subject of Ophiolatry, and was represented under the form of a serpent. Yet it was no deification of the natural animal ; for it had the head of a hawk?, and consequently must have been symbolical ; perhaps, however, the bird's head was only a device to express more easily the winged serpent, which, in Hebrew, is Seraph”, and which some suppose to have been the form assumed by the tempter of Eve; for then a more obvious meaning is given to the curse, Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life 4; and the allusion of St. Paul becomes more intelligible, when he says, that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light 5: for the Seraph was fiery and shining. When he is represented in a human form, he still retains his wings; not, however, as they are usually attached to the human body by

[ocr errors]

| Euseb. Præp. Evan. l. iii. 115.

2 Αιγύπτιοι Κνήφ επονομάζουσι προστιθέασι δε αυτώ τερακος κεφαλήν. "Οφις εστίν, ιέρακος έχων μορφών. - Ibid. 1. i. c. 10.

3 In two passages of Isaiah 776 is translated a fiery flying serpent, xiv. 29. and xxx. 6. 4 Gen. iii. 14.

5 2 Cor. xi, 14.

« 上一頁繼續 »