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Erythrean Sea. He proceeded yet farther, till he came to a sea, which on account of the number of shoals was not navigable. On his return to Ægypt, as I learned from the same authority, he levied a mighty army, and made a martial progress by land, subduing all the nations whom he met with on his march. Whenever he was opposed by a people who proved themselves brave, and who discovered an ardour for liberty, he erected columns in their country, upon which he inscribed his own name, and that of his nation, and how he had here conquered by the force of his arms; but where he met with little or no opposition, upon similar columns 180 which he erected, he added the private parts of a woman, expressive of the pusillanimity of the people.
CIII. Continuing his progress, he passed over from Asia to Europe*, and subdued the countries
180 Upon similar columns, &c.]-Diodorus Siculus relates the same facts, with this addition, that upon the columns intended to commemorate the bravery of the vanquished, Sesostris added the private parts of a man.—T.
Nous ignorons si les Hermès caracterisés par la nature feminine, et erigés par Sesostris dans les pays qu'il avoit conquis sans resistance, avoient été figurés de la même manière; ou si, pour indiquer le sexe, ils avoient un triangle, par lequel les Ægyptiens avoient coûtume de le désigner.-Winkelmann.
* Grobert, above cited, thinks that Sesostris must undoubtedly have vanquished Italy. Any one, says he, that
of Scythia and Thrace Here I believe he stopped*, for monuments of his victory are discovered thus far, but no farther. On his return, he came to the river Phasis; but I am by no means certain whether he left 182 a detachment of
will be at the trouble of comparing the physiognomy and manners of the people of Calabria with those of the Ægyptians, will easily believe this to have been the fact.
181 Thrace. According to another tradition preserved in Valerius Flaccus, the Getæ, the bravest and most upright of the Thracians, vanquished Sesostris; and it was doubtless to secure his retreat, that he left a detachment of his troops in Colchis.
Colchidos hic ortusque tuens: ut prima Sesostris
Territus, hos Thebas patriumque reducat ad amnem
Among the arguments adduced by Robertson against the probability that Sesostris conquered India, the following is much entitled to attention:
It is remarkable that Herodotus, who inquired with the most persevering diligence into the ancient history of Ægypt, and who received all the information concerning it which the priests of Memphis, Heliopolis, and Thebes, could communicate, although he relates the history of Sesostris at some length, does not mention his conquest of India. That tale, it is probable, was invented in the period between the age of Herodotus and that of Diodorus Siculus, from whom we receive a particular detail of the Indian expedition of Sesostris.Robertson on India, p. 336.
I have little scruple in avowing my belief that almost the whole of the story of Sesostris is fabulous.
182 Whether he left, &c.]—Pliny assures us, though I know not on what authority, that Sesostris was defeated by the Colchians.-Larcher.
his forces as a colony in this district, or whether some of his men, fatigued with their laborious service, remained here of their own accord.
CIV. The Colchians certainly appear to be of Ægyptian origin; which indeed, before I had conversed with any one on the subject, I had always believed. But as I was desirous of being satisfied, I interrogated the people of both countries: the result was, that the Colchians seemed to have better remembrance of the Egyptians, than the Ægyptians had of the Colchians. The Ægyptians were of opinion, that the Colchians were descended from part of the troops of Sesostris. To this I myself was also inclined, because they are black, and have short and curling hair 183; which latter circumstance may not, however, be insisted upon as evidence, because it is common to many other nations. But a second and better argument is, that the inhabitants of Colchos, Egypt, and Ethiopia, are the only people who from time immemorial have used circumcision. The Phoenicians and the Syrians of
183 Short and curling hair.]" That is," says Volney, in his remark on this passage, "that the ancient Ægyptians were real negroes, of the same species with all the natives of Africa; and though, as might be expected, after mixing for so many ages with the Greeks and Romans, they have lost the intensity of their first colour, yet they still retain strong marks of their original conformation."
Palestine 18 acknowledge that they borrowed this custom from Egypt. Those Syrians who live
* The following note from Shaw deserves attention; p. 390. Herodotus, always too credulous with regard to these boasted antiquities of the Egyptians, insists likewise that circumcision was much earlier received by them than by the Syrians of Palestine, i. e. the Hebrews or Israelites; for the Philistines themselves, who were originally Ægyptians, and gave name to the country, were uncircumcised. Now by considering Gen. xlv. ver. 12, in the original text," agreeably to the Hebrew diction and brevity of expression, we may receive one plausible argument why Herodotus may be equally mistaken in this assertion. For the Rabbinical commentators observe upon the sense which we translate, And behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you, that Joseph gave the patriarchs therein three proofs of his being their brother. The first was the token of circumcision, peculiar at that time, as they affirm, to the family of Abraham, which he is supposed to have discovered by unfolding his garment whilst they stood near him, and bidding them regard it. Behold, says he, your eyes see by this token that I am no stranger, but of the lineage of Abraham. And then to shew that he was not descended from Ishmael, he lays down for his second proof the near resemblance of his own features to those of his brother Benjamin, who was born of the same mother. And behold, he continues, the eyes or countenance of my brother Benjamin; how nearly they resemble my own. The third proof was his language, &c. &c. The whole of what follows is exceedingly ingenious and very corroborative of the main argument.
It seems to be implied also, Jeremiah ix. ver. 25, 26, that the Ægyptians were not circumcised at the time when that prophet lived, viz. 630 or 640 years before Christ, which was not 200 years before Herodotus flourished and wrote his history. 184 Syrians of Palestine.]-Mr. Gibbon takes the opportunity of this passage to make it appear, that under the Assyrian
near the rivers Thermodon and Parthenius, and their neighbours the Macrones, confess that they learned it, and that too in modern times, from the Colchians. These are the only people who use circumcision, and who use it precisely like the Ægyptians. As this practice can be traced both in Ægypt and Æthiopia to the remotest antiquity, it is not possible to say who first introduced it. The Egyptians certainly communicated it to the other nations by means of their commercial intercourse. The Phoenicians, who are connected with Greece, do not any longer imitate the Ægyptians in this particular, their male children not being circumcised.
CV. But the Colchians have another mark of resemblance to the Egyptians. Their manufacture of linen 185 is alike, and peculiar to those two
and Persian monarchies, the Jews languished for many ages the most despised portion of their slaves. "Herodotus," says the English historian, "who visited Asia whilst it obeyed the Persian empire, slightly mentions the Jews of Palestine." But this seems to be a partial quotation; for taking into consideration the whole of the context, Herodotus seems precluded from mentioning the Syrians of Palestine in this place otherwise than slightly.-T.
It is indeed certain that Herodotus could know nothing of the Jews, for it is utterly impossible that they should confess that they borrowed the rite of circumcision from the Ægyptians.
185 Manufacture of linen.]—See chapter xxxvii. of this book. T. To which may be added the following remark from Harmer, vol. ii. p. 349.