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Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James, [1954], at

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The Curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery System.

1. The Education of the Egyptian Priests According to Their Orders.

From Diodorus, Herodotus and Clement of Alexandria, we learn that there were six Orders of Egyptian Priests, and that each Order had to master a certain number of the books of Hermes. Clement has described a procession of the Priests, calling them by their Order, and stating their qualifications, as follows:

First comes the Singer Odus, bearing an instrument of music. He has to know by heart two of the books of Hermes; one containing the hymns of the Gods, and the other, the allotment of the king's life. Next comes the Horoscopus, carrying in his hand a horologium or sun-dial, and a palm branch; the symbols of Astronomy. He has to know four of the books of Hermes, which deal with Astronomy.

Next comes the Hierogrammat, with feathers on his head, and a book in his hand, and a rectangular case with writing materials, i.e., the writing ink and the reed. He has to know the hieroglyphics, cosmography, geography, astronomy, the topography of Egypt, the sacred utensils and measures, the temple furniture and the lands.

Next comes the Stolistes, carrying the cubit of justice, and the libation vessels. He has to know the books of Hermes that deal with the slaughter of animals.

Next comes the Prophetes carrying the vessel of water, followed by those who carry the loaves.

The Prophetes is the President of the temple and has to know the ten books which are called hieratic, and contain the laws and doctrines concerning the Gods (secret-theology) and

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the whole education of the Priests. The books of Hermes are 42 in number and are absolutely necessary. 36 of them have to be known by the Orders which precede, and contain the whole philosophy of the Egyptians.

The remaining six books must be known by the Order of Pastophori. These are medical books and deal with physiology, male and female diseases, anatomy, drugs and instruments. The books of Hermes were well known to the ancient world and were known to Clement of Alexandria, who lived at the beginning of the third century A.D.

In addition to the education contained in the 42 Books of Hermes, the Priests gained considerable knowledge from the selection and examination of sacrificial victims, and the strict bodily purity which their priestly office imposed.

In addition to the Hierogrammat and Horoscopus, who were skilled in theology and hieroglyphics, a Priest was also a Judge and an interpreter of the law. This led to a select tribunal, which made the Egyptian Priest the custodian of every kind of literature. We are also told that the Science of Statistics was cultivated to the greatest perfection among the Egyptian Priests.

(Diodorus I, 80; Clement of Alexandria; Stromata 6, 4,

p. 756; John Kendrick's Ancient Egypt Bk. I, p. 378–379; Bk. II, 85–87; Aelian, Var. Hist. 14, 34; Clement of Alexandria: Stromata 6, 4, p 758: John Kendrick's Ancient Egypt Bk. II p. 31–33).

2. The Education of the Egyptian Priests in—A. The Seven Liberal Arts. B. Secret Systems of Languages and Mathematical Symbolism. C. Magic.

A. The education of the Egyptian Priests in the Seven Liberal Arts.

As has already been pointed out, in connection with Plato and the Cardinal Virtues, the Egyptian Mysteries were the centre of organized culture, and the recognized source of education

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in the ancient world. Neophytes were graded according to their moral efficiency and intellectual competence, and had to submit to many years of tests and ordeals, in order that their eligibility for advancement might be determined. Their education included the Seven Liberal Arts, and the virtues. The virtues were not mere abstractions or ethical sentiments; but positive valours and the virility of the soul. Beyond these, the Priests entered upon a course of specialization.

B. The education of the Egyptian Priests consisted also in the specialization in secret systems of language and mathematical symbolism.

(i) It would appear that there were two forms of writing in use among the Egyptians: (a) The demotic, believed to have been introduced by Pharaoh Psammitichus, for trade and commercial purposes; and (b) The hieroglyphics of which there were two forms, i.e., the hieroglyphics proper, and the hieratic a linear form, both of which were used only by the Priests, in order to conceal the secret and mystical meaning of their doctrines. (Clement of Alexandria: Stromata Bk. V. c. 4 p. 657; Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride Bk. II, p. 374; John Kendrick; Ancient Egypt, Bk. II, p. 84; 119, 336, and 245).

(ii) We are also informed that the mystery system of Egypt employed modes of spoken language which could be understood, only by the initiated. These consisted not only of myths and parables; but also of a secret language called Senzar.

(Ancient Mysteries: C. H. Vail, p. 23).

(iii) We also understand that the Egyptians attached numerical values both to letters of words and to geometrical figures, with the same intention as with their use of hieroglyphics, i.e., to conceal their teachings. It is further understood that the Egyptian numerical and geometrical symbolism were contained in the 42 Books of Hermes, whose system was the oldest and most elaborate repository of mathematical symbolism. Here

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again we are reminded of the source of the number philosophy of Pythagoras.

(Ancient Mysteries: C. H. Vail, p. 22–23; Clement of Alexandria: Stromata Book V, c. 7 and 9).

C. The education of the Egyptian Priests consisted also in the specialization in magic.

According to Herodotus, the Egyptian Priests possessed super-natural powers, for they had been trained in the esoteric philosophy of the Greater Mysteries, and were experts in Magic. They had the power of controlling the minds of men (hypnosis), the power of predicting the future (prophecy) and the power over nature, (i.e., the power of Gods) by giving commands in the name of the Divinity and accomplishing great deeds. Herodotus also tells us that the most celebrated Oracles of the ancient world were located in Egypt: Hercules at Canopis; Apollo at Apollinopolis Magna; Minerva at Sais; Diana at Bubastis; Mars at Papremis; and Jupiter at Thebes and Ammonium; and that the Greek Oracles were Egyptian imitations.

Here it might be well to mention that the Egyptian Priests were the first genuine Priests of history, who exercised control over the laws of nature. Here it might also be well to mention that the Egyptian Book of the Dead is a book of magical formulae and instructions, intended to direct the fate of the departed soul. It was the Prayer Book of the Mystery System of Egypt, and the Egyptian Priest received training in post mortem conditions and the methods of their verification. It must also be noted that Magic was applied religion, or primitive scientific method.

(The Egyptian Book of the Dead; Herodotus Bk. II 109, 177; Sandford's Mediterranean World, p. 27; 507; Definition of Magic, Frazier's Golden Bough).

3. A Comparison of the Curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery System with the Lists of Books Attributed to Aristotle.

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A. The Curriculum

The Curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery System consisted of the following subjects:

(i) The Seven Liberal Arts, which formed the foundation training for all Neophytes and included: grammar, Arithmetic, Rhetoric and Dialectic (i.e., the Quadrivium) and Geometry, Astronomy and Music (i.e., the Trivium).

(ii) The Sciences of the 42 Books of Hermes

In addition to the foundation training prescribed for all Neophytes, those who sought Holy Orders, had to be versed in the books of Hermes and according to Clement of Alexandria, their orders and subjects were as follows:—

(a) The Singer or Odus, who must know two books of Hermes dealing with Music i.e., the hymns of the Gods.

(b) The Horoscopus, who must know four books of Hermes dealing with Astronomy.

(c) The Hierogrammat, who must know the hieroglyphics, cosmography, geography, astronomy and the topography of Egypt and Land Surveying.

(d) The Stolistes, who must know the books of Hermes that deal with slaughter of animals and the process of embalming.

(e) The Prophetes, who is the President of the temple, and must know ten books of Hermes dealing with higher esoteric theology and the whole education of priests.

(f) The Pastophori, who must know six books of Hermes, which are medical books, dealing with physiology, the diseases of male and female, anatomy, drugs and instruments.

(iii) The Sciences of the Monuments (Pyramids, Temples, Libraries, Obelisks, Phinxes, Idols);—

Architecture, masonry, carpentry, engineering, sculpture, metallurgy, agriculture, mining and forestry. Art (drawing and painting).

(iv) The Secret Sciences

Numerical symbolism, geometrical symbolism, magic, the book of the Dead, myths and parables.

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(v) The Social Order and Its Protection

The Priests of Egypt were also Lawyers, Judges, officials of government, Business Men and Sailors and Captains. Hence, they must have been trained in Economics, Civics, Law, Government, Statistics, census taking, navigation, ship building, military science, the manufacture of chariots and horse breeding.

If we compare 3A with 3B which immediately follows, we would discover that the curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery System covered a much wider range of scientific subjects than those of Aristotle's list, which it includes.


Note also that The Seven Liberal Arts: The Quadrivium and Trivium originated from the Egyptian Mysteries.

(The Mechanical Triumphs of the Ancient Egyptians by F. M. Barber).

(The Book of the Foundation of Temples by Moret).

(A short history of Mathematics by W. W. R. Ball).

(The Problem of Obelisks by R. Engelbach).

(The Great Pyramid Its Divine Message by D. Davidson).

(History of Mathematics by Florian Cajori).

B. Aristotle's list of books, prepared by himself.

(1) Aristotle is said to have prepared a list of books in the following order (B. D. Alexander's Hist. of Phil. p. 97; Wm. Turner's Hist. of Phil. p. 129).

(i) Theoretic whose purpose was truth, and which included (a) Mathematics (b) Physics and (c) Theology.

(ii) Practical, whose purpose was usefulness, and which included (a) Ethics (b) Economics (c) Politics and

(iii) Poetic or Productive, whose purpose was beauty, and which included (a) Poetry (b) Art and (c) Rhetoric. An examination and comparison of 3 A. with 3 B. show that (a) The Curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery System included all the scientific and philosophic subjects credited to the authorship of Aristotle. (b) The books attributed to Aristotle's

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authorship cannot be dissociated from Egyptian origin, as elsewhere referred to, both through the plunder of the Royal Library of Alexandria and through research carried on at the centre by Aristotle himself. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the writings of Aristotle are disputed by modern scholarship (Wm. Turner's Hist. of Phil. p. 127) and I feel more justified in making the comparison between the curriculum of the Mystery System and the list said to be drawn up by Aristotle himself; rather than with the notorious list of one thousand books, whose subjects are nevertheless included under the curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery System.

(Zeller's Hist. of Phil. p. 173).

Next: Chapter VIII: The Memphite Theology is the Basis of all Important Doctrines in Greek Philosophy