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MEANING OF THE SPHINX.
reverence than the fanatic saints who invoke him; for mad, idiotic, or other psychologically-diseased persons are very generally looked upon as holy by the Mohammedans, and treated with great respect. It is the demoniacal, incomprehensibly-acting, and therefore fearfully-observed, power of nature that the natural man always reveres when he perceives it, because he is sensible of some connection between it and his intellectual power, without being able to command it; first in the mighty elements, then in the wondrous but obscure law-governed instincts of animals, and at last in the yet more overpowering ecstatical or generally abnormal mental condition of his own race.'
The right answer to the enigma of the Sphinx is Man. But this creature prostrating himself under the Sheikh's horse, or under the invisible Sheîkh called Allah, and ascribing sanctity to the half-witted, is not Man at all. Those hard-worked slaves who escaped into the wilderness, and set up for worship an anthropomorphic Supreme Will, and sought their promised milk and honey in this world alone, carried with them the only force that could rightly answer the Sphinx. Their Allah or Elohim they heard say,—'Why howlest thou to me? Go forward.' Somewhat more significant than his usual jests was that cartoon of Punch which represented the Sphinx with relaxed face smiling recognition on the most eminent of contemporary Israelites returning to the land of his race's ancient bondage, to buy the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal half answers the Sphinx; when man has subdued the Great Desert to'a sea, the solution will be complete, and the Sphinx may cast herself into it.
Far and wide through the Southern world have swarmed the locusts described by Lepsius, and with them have migrated many superstitions. The writer of this well remembers the visit of the so-called 'Seventeen-year locusts,'
to the region of Virginia where he was born, and across many years can hear the terrible never-ceasing roar coming up from the woods, uttering, as all agreed, the ominous word ‘Pharaoh.' On each wing every eye could see the letter W, signifying War. With that modern bit of ancient Egypt in my memory, I find the old Locust-mythology sufficiently impressive.
By an old tradition the Egyptians, as described by Lepsius, connected the locusts with the comet. In the Apocalypse (ix.) a falling star is the token of the descent of the Locust-demon to unlock the pit that his swarms may issue forth for their work of destruction. Their king Abaddon, in Greek Apollyon,-Destroyer,-has had an evolution from being the angel of the two (rabbinical) divisions of Hades to the successive Chiefs of Saracenic hordes. It is interesting to compare the graphic description of a locust-storm in Joel, with its adaptation to an army of human destroyers in the Apocalypse. And again the curious description of these hosts of Abaddon in the latter book, partly repeat the strange notions of the Bedouins concerning the locust,—one of whom, says Niebuhr, 'compared the head of the locust to that of the horse; its breast to that of a lion; its feet to those of a camel ; its body to that of the serpent; its tail to that of the scorpion; its horns (antenna) to the locks of hair of a virgin. The present generation has little reason to deny the appropriateness of the biblical descriptions of Scythian hordes as locusts. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.'
The ancient seeming contest between apparent Good and Evil in Egypt, was represented in the wars of Ra and Set. It is said (Gen. iv. 26), “And to Seth, to him also was born a son; and he called his name Enos; then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.' Aquila reads
this—' Then Seth began to be called by the name of the Lord.' Mr. Baring-Gould remarks on this that Seth was at first regarded by the Egyptians as the deity of light and civilisation, but that they afterwards identified as Typhon, because he was the chief god of the Hyksos or shepherd kings; and in their hatred of these oppressors the name of Seth was everywhere obliterated from their monuments, and he was represented as an ass, or with an ass's head." But the earliest date assigned to the Hyksos dominion in Egypt, B.C. 2000, coincides with that of the Egyptian planisphere in Kircher, where Seth is found identified with Sirius, or the dog-headed Mercury, in Capricorn. This is the Sothiac Period, or Cycle of the Dogstar. He was thus associated with the goat and the winter solstice, to which (B.C. 2000) Capricorn was adjacent. That Seth or Set became the name for the demon of disorder and violence among the Egyptians is, indeed, probably due to his being a chief god, among some tribes Baal himself, among the Asiatics, before the time of the Hyksos. It was already an old story to put their neighbours Light for their own Darkness. The Ass's ears they gave him referred not to his stupidity, but to his hearing everything, as in the case of the Ass of Apuleius, and the ass Nicon of Plutarch, or, indeed, the many examples of the same kind which preceeded the appearance of this much misunderstood animal as the steed of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In Egyptian symbolism those long ears were as much dreaded as devils' horns. From the eyes of Ra all beneficent things, from the eyes of Set all noxious things, were produced. Amen-Ra, as the former was called, slew the son of Set, the great serpent Naka, which in one hymn is perhaps tauntingly said to have 'saved his
1 'Legends of Old Testament Characters,' i. p. 83. · Edip., 1. II. ii. See · Mankind : their Origin and Destiny,' p. 699.
feet.' Amen-Ra becomes Horus and Set becomes Typhon The Typhonian myth is very complex, and includes the conflict between the Nile and all its enemies—the crocodiles that lurk in it, the sea that swallows it, the drouth that dries it, the burning heat that brings malaria from it, the floods that render it destructive—and Set was through it evolved to a point where he became identified with Saturn, Sheitan, or Satan. Plutarch, identifying Set with Typho, says that those powers of the universal Soul, which are subject to the influences of passions, and in the material system whatever is noxious, as bad air, irregular seasons, eclipses of the sun and moon, are ascribed to Typho. The name Set, according to him, means 'violent' and 'hostile;' and he was described as "double-headed,' "he who has two countenances,' and 'the Lord of the World.' Not the least significant fact, in a moral sense, is that Set or Typho is represented as the brother of Osiris whom he slew.
Without here going into the question of relationship between Typhaon and Typhoeus, we may feel tolerably certain that the fire-breathing hurricane-monster Typhaon of Homer, and the hundred-headed, fierce-eyed roarer Typhoeus—son of Tartarus, father of Winds and Harpies -represent the same ferocities of Nature. No fitter place was ever assigned him than the African desert, and the story of the gods and goddesses fleeing before Typhon into Egypt, and there transforming themselves into animals, from terror, is a transparent tribute to the dominion over the wilderness of sand exercised by the typhoon in its many moods. The vulture-harpy tearing the dead is his child. He is many-headed; now hot, stifling, tainted; now tempestuous; here sciroc, there hurricane, and often tornado. It may be indeed that as at once coiled in the whirlwind and blistering, he is the fiery serpent to appease
whom Moses lifted the brasen serpent for the worship of Israel. I have often seen snakes hung up by negroes in Virginia, to bring rain in time of drouth. Typhon, as may easily be seen by the accompanying figure (14), is a hungry and thirsty demon. His tongue is lolling out with thirst." His later connection with the underworld is shown in various myths, one of which seems to suggest a popular belief that Typhon is not pleased with the mummies withheld from him, and that he can enjoy his human
AVBU viands only through burials of the dead. In Egypt, after the Coptic Easter Monday—called ShemmenNesseem (smelling the zephyr) —come the fifty-days' hot wind, called Khamseen or Cain wind. After slaying Abel, Cain wandered amid such a wind, tortured with fever and thirst. Then he saw two birds fight in the air ; one having killed the other scratched a hole in the desert sand and buried it. Cain then did the like by his bro- Fig. 14.-TYPHON (Wilkinson). ther's body, when a zephyr sprang up and cooled his fever. But still, say the Alexandrians, the fifty-days' hot Cain wind return annually.
In pictures of the mirage, or in cloud-shapes faintly illumined by the afterglow, the dwellers beside the plains of sand saw, as in phantasmagoria, the gorgeous palaces, the air-castles, and mysterious cities, which make the romance of the desert. Unwilling to believe that such realms of barrenness had ever been created by any good
* Compare Kali, Fig. 18.