But far as these Egyptian remains lead us into unknown ages, the symbols they contain appear not to have been invented in that country, but to have been copied from those of some other people, still anterior, who dwelt on the other side of the Erythræan ocean. One of the most obvious of them is the hooded snake, which is a reptile peculiar to
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INDIAN TEMPLE, SHOWING THE LINGAM
the south-eastern parts of Asia, but which I found represented, with great accuracy, upon the obelisc of Rameses, and have also observed frequently repeated on the Isiac Table, and other symbolical works of the Egyptians. It is also distinguishable among the sculptures in the sacred caverns of the island of Elephanta; 1 and appears frequently added, as a characteristic symbol, to many of the idols of the modern Hindoos, whose absurd tales concerning its meaning are related at length by M. Sonnerat; but they are not worth repeating. Probably we should be able to trace the connexion through many more instances, could we obtain accurate drawings of the ruins of Upper Egypt.
By comparing the columns which the Egyptians formed in imitation of the Nelumbo plant, with each other, and observing their different modes of decorating them, we may discover the origin of that order of architecture which the Greeks called Corinthian, from the place of its supposed invention. We first find the plain bell, or seed-vessel, used as a capital, without any further alteration than being a little expanded at bottom, to give it stability. 2 In the next instance, the same seed-vessel is surrounded by the
leaves of some other plant; 1 which is varied in different capitals according to the different meanings intended to be expressed by these additional symbols. The Greeks decorated it in the same manner, with the leaves of the acanthus, and other sorts of foliage; whilst various other symbols of their religion were introduced as ornaments on the entablature, instead of being carved upon the walls of the cell, or shafts of the columns. One of these, which occurs most frequently, is that which the architects call the honeysuckle, but which, as Sir Joseph Banks (to whom I am indebted for all that I have said concerning the Lotus) clearly showed me, must be meant for the young shoots of this plant, viewed horizontally, just when they have burst the seed-vessel, and are upon the point of falling out of it. The ornament is variously composed on different buildings; it being the practice of the Greeks to make vegetable, as well as animal monsters, by combining different symbolical plants together, and blending them into one; whence they are often extremely difficult to be discovered. But the specimen I have given, is so strongly characterised, that it cannot easily be mistaken. 2 It appears on many Greek medals with the animal symbols and personified attributes of the Deity; which first led me
to imagine that it was not a mere ornament, but had some mystic meaning, as almost every decoration employed upon their sacred edifices indisputably had.
The square area, over which the Lotus is spread, in the Indian monument before mentioned, was occasionally floated with water; which, by means of a forcing machine, was first thrown in a spout upon the Lingam. The pouring of water upon the sacred symbols, is a mode of worship very much practised by the Hindoos, particularly in their devotions to the Bull and the Lingam. Its meaning has been already explained, in the instance of the Greek figure of Pan, represented in the act of paying the same kind of worship to the symbol of his own procreative power. 1 The areas of the Greek temples were, in like manner, in some instances, floated with water; of which I shall soon give an example. We also find, not unfrequently, little portable temples, nearly of the same form, and of Greek workmanship: the areas of which were equally floated by means of a fountain in the middle, and which, by the figures in relief that adorn the sides, appear evidently to have been dedicated to the same worship of Priapus, or the Lingam. 2 The square area is likewise impressed upon many
ancient Greek medals, sometimes divided into four, and sometimes into a greater number of compartments. 1 Antiquarians have supposed this to be merely the impression of something put under the coin, to make it receive the stroke of the die more steadily; but, besides that it is very ill adapted to this purpose, we find many coins which appear, evidently, to have received the stroke of the hammer (for striking with a balance is of late date) on the side marked with this square. But what puts the question out of all doubt, is, that impressions of exactly the same kind are found upon the little Talismans, or mystic pastes, taken out of the Egyptian Mummies, which have no impression whatever on the reverse. 2 On a little brass medal of Syracuse, we also find the asterisc of the Sun placed in the centre of the square, in the same manner as the Lingam is on the Indian monument. 3 Why this quadrangular form was adopted, in preference to any other, we have no means of discovering, from any known
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CELTIC TEMPLE AND GREEK MEDALS
Greek or Egyptian sculptures; but from this little Indian temple, we find that the four corners were adapted to four of the subordinate deities, or personified modes of action of the great universal Generator, represented by the symbol in the middle, to which the others are represented as paying their adorations, with gestures of humility and respect. 1
What is the precise meaning of these four symbolical figures, it is scarcely possible for us to discover, from the small fragments of the mystic learning of the ancients which are now extant. That they were however intended as personified attributes, we can have no doubt; for we are taught by the venerable authority of the Bagvat Geeta, that all the subordinate deities were such, or else canonised men, which these figures evidently are not. As for the mythological tales now current in India, they throw the same degree of light upon the subject, as Ovid's Metamorphoses do on the ancient theology of Greece; that is, just enough to bewilder and perplex those who give up their attention to it. The ancient author before cited is deserving of more credit; but he has said very little upon the symbolical worship. His work, nevertheless, clearly proves that its principles were precisely the same as those of the Greeks and
[paragraph continues] Egyptians, among whose remains of art or literature, we may, perhaps, find some probable analogies to aid conjecture. The elephant is, however, a new symbol in the west; the Greeks never having seen one of those animals before the expedition of Alexander, 1 although the use of ivory was familiar among them even in the days of Homer. Upon this Indian monument the head of the elephant is placed upon the body of a man with four hands, two of which are held up as prepared to strike with the instruments they bold, and the other two pointed down as in adoration of the Lingam. This figure is called Gonnis and Pollear by the modern Hindoos; but neither of these names is to be found in the Geeta, where the deity only says, that the learned behold him alike in the reverend Brahman perfected in knowledge, in the ox, and in the elephant. What peculiar attributes the elephant was meant to express, the ancient writer has not told us; but, as the characteristic properties of this animal are strength and sagacity, we may conclude that his image was intended to represent ideas somewhat similar to those which the Greeks represented by that of Minerva, who was worshipped as the goddess of force and wisdom, of war and counsel. The Indian Gonnis is indeed male, and Minerva female;
but this difference of sexes, however important it may be in a physical, is of very little consequence in metaphysical beings, Minerva being, like the other Greek deities, either male or female, or both. 1 On the medals of the Ptolemies, under whom the Indian symbols became familiar to the Greeks through the commerce of Alexandria, we find her repeatedly represented with the elephant's skin upon her head, instead of a helmet; and with a countenance between male and female, such as the artist would naturally give her, when he endeavoured to blend the Greek and Indian symbols, and mould them into one. 2 Minerva is said by the Greek mythologists to have been born without a mother from the head of Jupiter, who was delivered of her by the assistance of Vulcan. This, in plain language, means no more than that she was a pure emanation of the divine mind, operating by means of the universal agent fire, and not, like others of the allegorical personages, sprung from any of the particular operations of the deity upon external matter. Hence she is said to be next in dignity to her father, and to be endowed with all his attributes; 3 for, as wisdom is the most exalted quality of the mind, and the divine mind the perfection of
wisdom, all its attributes are the attributes of wisdom, under whose direction its power is always exerted. Strength and wisdom therefore, when considered as attributes of the deity, are in fact one and the same. The Greek Minerva is usually represented with the spear uplifted in her hand, in the same manner as the Indian Gonnis holds the battle-axe. 1 Both are given to denote the destroying power equally belonging to divine wisdom, as the creative or preserving. The statue of Jupiter at Labranda in Caria held in his hand the battle-axe, instead of thunder; and on the medals of Tenedos and Thyatira, we find it represented alone as the symbol of the deity, in the same manner as the thunder is upon a great variety of other medals. I am the thunderbolt, says the deity in the Bagvat Geeta; 2 and when we find this supposed engine of divine vengeance upon the medals, we must not imagine that it is meant for the weapon of the supreme god, but for the symbol of his destroying attribute. What instrument the Gonnis holds in his other hand, is not easily ascertained, it being a little injured by the carriage. In one of those pointed downwards he holds the Lotus flower, to denote that he has the direction of the passive powers
of production; and in the other, a golden ring or disc, which, I shall soon show, was the symbol by which many nations of the East represented the sun. His head is drawn into a conical, or pyramidal form, and surrounded by an ornament which evidently represents flames; the Indians, as well as the Greeks, looking upon fire as the essence of all active power; whence perpetual lamps are kept burning in the holy of holies of all the great pagodas in India, as they were anciently in the temple of Jupiter Ammon, and many others both Greek and Barbarian; 1 and the incarnate god in the Bagvat Geeta says, I am the fire residing in the bodies of all things which have life. 2 Upon the forehead of the Gonnis is a crescent representing the moon, whose power over the waters of the ocean caused her to be regarded as the sovereign of the great nutritive element, and whose mild rays, being accompanied by the refreshing dews and cooling breezes of the night, made her naturally appear to the inhabitants of hot countries as the comforter and restorer of the earth. I am the moon (says the deity in the Bagvat Geeta) whose nature it is to give the quality of taste and relish, and to cherish the herbs and plants of the field. 3 The light of the sun, moon,
and fire, were however all but one, and equally emanations of the supreme being. Know, says the deity in the same ancient dialogue, that the light which proceedeth from the sun, and illuminateth the world, and the light which is in the moon and in the fire, are mine. I pervade all things in nature, and guard them with my beams. 1 In the figure now under consideration a kind of pre-eminence seems to be given to the moon over the sun; proceeding probably from the Hindoos not possessing the true solar system, which must however have been known to the people from whom they learnt to calculate eclipses, which they still continue to do, though upon principles not understood by themselves. They now place the earth in the centre of the universe, as the later Greeks did, among whom we also find the same preference given to the lunar symbol; Jupiter being represented, on a medal of Antiochus VIII., with the crescent upon his head, and the asterisc of the sun in his hand. 2 In a passage of the Bagvat Geeta already cited we find the elephant and bull mentioned together as symbols of the same kind; and on a medal of Seleucus Nicator we find them united by the horns of the one being placed on the head of the other. 3 The later Greeks
also sometimes employed the elephant as the universal symbol of the deity; in which sense he is represented on a medal of Antiochus VI. bearing the torch, the emblem of the universal agent, fire, in his proboscis, and the cornucopia, the result of its exertion, in his tail. 1
On another corner of the little Indian pagoda, is a figure with four heads, all of the same pointed form as that of the Gonnis. This I take to represent Brahma, to whom the Hindoos attribute four mouths, and say that with them he dictated the four Beads, or Veads, the mystic volumes of their religion. 2 The four heads are turned different ways, but exactly resemble each other. The beards have been painted black, and are sharp and pointed, like those of goats, which the Greeks gave to Pan, and his subordinate emanations, the Fauns and Satyrs. Hence I am inclined to believe, that the Brahma of the Indians is the same as the Pan of the Greeks; that is, the creative spirit of the deity transfused through matter, and acting in the four elements represented by the four heads. The Indians indeed admit of a fifth element, as the Greeks did likewise; but this is never classed with the rest, being of an ætherial and more
exalted nature, and belonging peculiarly to the deity. Some call it heaven, some light, and some æther, says Plutarch. 1 The Hindoos now call it Occus, by which they seem to mean pure ætherial light or fire.
105:1 Niebuhr, voyage, vol. ii.
105:2 See Plate XIX. Fig. 6, from Norden.
106:1 See Plate XIX. Fig. 7, from Norden.
106:2 Plate XIX. Fig. 3, from the Ionian Antiquities, Ch. ii. Pl. XIII.
107:1 See Plate V. Fig. 1
107:2 See Plate XIV. from one In the collection of Mr. Townley.
108:1 See Plate XIII. Fig. 1, from one of Selinus, and Fig. 3, from one of Syracuse, belonging to me.
108:2 See Plate XIII. Fig. 2, from one in the collection of Mr. Townley.
108:3 See Plate XIII. Fig. 3. The medal is extremely common, and the quadrangular Impression is observable upon a great number of the more ancient Greek medals, generally with some symbol of the Deity in the centre. See those of Athens, Lyttus, Maronea, &c.
111:1 See Plate XII.
112:1 Pausan. lib. i. c. 12.
113:1 Αρσεν και θηλυς εφυσ. Orph. εις Αθην.
113:2 See Plate XIII. Fig. 5, engraved from one belonging to me.
113:3 Hor. lib. i. Od. 12. Callimach. εις Αθην.
114:1 See Plate XIII. Fig. II, from a medal of Seleucus I. belonging to me.
114:2 Page 86.
115:1 See Plut. de Orac. defect.
115:2 Page 113.
115:3 Page 113.
116:1 See Plut. de Orac. defect.
116:2 Plate XIII. Fig. 10, from one belonging to me.
116:3 See Plate XIII. Fig. 9, and Gesner, Num. Reg. Syr. Tab. VIII. Fig. 23.
117:1 see Plate XIII. Fig. 8, and Gesner, Num. Reg. Syr. Tab. VIII. Fig. 1.
117:2 Bagvat Geeta, Note 41.