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one piece of granite, and were an hundred and eighty feet high. Augustus, according to the report of Pliny, tran? ported one of these obelisks to Rome, and placed it in the campus Martius a. They pretend to have found it in our times *
A remark which we ought not to omit, is, that Sefoftris did not employ any Egyptian in the construction of thcie difficult works of which I have just spoken. He only made the prisoners work whom he had brought from his expeditions d. To the end that posterity should not be ignorant of it, he took care to have ingraved on all these monuments, that no native of the country had ever put his hand to theme.
Of all the works of which I have spoken I see none more worthy of attention than the obelisks. According to Pliny, the idea of that species of monuments is due to the Egyptians. He says, that a king of Heliopolis called Alestres, was the first who caused one to be raised f. We are ignorant at what time this prince lived. Yet I believe him posterior to Sefoftris, and even his succes. sor. In reality, what Pliny reports of the motive which engaged this Mestres to build an obelisk, agrees very much with what other historians have related of the successor of Sefoftris e. I presume then, that Pliny was mistaken, and
b Diod. l. 1. p.67.
* Yet this presents us with a great difficulty. This obelisk, according to the measures they have taken, is oniy about 75 feet, instead of 183 which Diodorus gives to the monuments of Sesoitris. See les mem. de Trev. Mai 1751. p.979. But I doubt, 1. with many critics, whether this obelisk was one of thofe of which Diodorus speaks. We might say, in the 2d pla that supposing it the same work, the ravages of Cambyses might so ruin these ancient monuments, that they must afterwards be diminified by repaising them. This latt reasop appears to me very plausible.
d Herod. l. 2. n. 108.
2 Chron. c. 8. v. 9. fL. 36. lect. 14. p. 735.
% Compare Pliny, loco cit. with Herod. 1. 2. n. 11.; Diod. I. 1. p. 69.; Vidor. orig. 1.18. C. 3!. p, 159.
that we ought to look upon Sesostris as the first who raised obelisks *
But further, it is perhaps neither to one nor the other of these two princes that we ought to attribute the invention of that fort of monument. Diodorus speaks of a pyramidal spire erected by the order of Semiramis on the road to Babylon. It was, says he, of one stone of one hundred and thirty feet; each side of the base, which was squared, was twenty-five". It should be then in Asia, not in Egypt, that obelisks took their rife.
Be that as it will, the Egyptian monarchs appear to have had a great taste for obelisks. I shall not stop to give the names of all the sovereigns who we know have raised them: we may see them in Plinyi. I will only speak here of the obelisks which deserve a particular consideration.
After the two obelisks of Sefoftris, of which I have already spoken, we may place that which his son got raised. It was transported to Rome by order of Caligula. The. vessel which this prince caused to be constructed for this enterprise, was the largest that had then been seen upon the feask. All these obelisks nevertheless did not come near to that which Ramesses raised near the palace of Heliopolis. This prince reigned, according to the calculation of Pliny, at the time of the taking of Troy'. Twenty thousand inen were employed to work at this modiument in The greatest difficulty was to raise it on its base. To make the fact more marvellous, they have not 0znitted to adorn it with a tale. Ramesses apprehended,
* This is also the sentiment of Marsham, p. 369. h L. 2. p. 125. & 126.
L. 36. sect. 14. &c. * Ibid. p. 736. & 1. 16. C. 40. p. 35.
IL.36. fect. 14. p. 735. Marsham, p. 441. makes Ramesses much more modern ; but it is in consequence of an error into which that able chronologist has fallen with relation to Sefoftris, whom he confounds with the Sezac of the scripture. As Marsham acknowledges Ramelles for one of the succeilors of Sefoftris, he ought consequently to have advanced his reign.
** Plin. loco fupra sit. The text of Pliny in Father Hardouin's edition, makes 12,390 men.
that the machines which they had prepared were not capable of raising and supporting so unwieldy a mass. The means which this prince invented to oblige the workmen to use all their skill, were certainly most extraordinary; he caused his son, say they, to be fixed on the top of the obelis. The life of this young prince, and of consequence the lives of the workmen depending upon the success of the enterprise, they took their mealures so justly that they fucceeded according to their wishes n.
We ought to look upon this obelisk as the most remarkable of all those spoken of in history. It is one of the most valuable monuments which now remain of Egyptian antiquity •. It was respected even by Cambyses, at the time when that furious prince put all to fire and sword in Egypt, and who spared neither temples nor those superb monuments, which, entirely ruined as they are at this day, are still the admiration of travellers. After having made himself master of Heliopolis, Cambyses gave up the whole town to the flames; but when he saw the fire gain the obelisk of Ramesses, he ordered it immediately to be extinguished p.
We have before seen, that, after the conquest of Egypt, Augustus got many obelisks transported to Rome; but he durst not touch this 9. Constantine more hardy undertook the enterprise : After the example of Caligula he made them build a veffel of an extraordinary size, they had even already conducted it by the Nile to Alexandriar; but the death of this prince suspended the execution of his project: it did not take place till the time of Constans his son. The ohelisk being brought to Rome, was placed in the cir-cus with infinite labour and expenses. Afterwards it was thrown down. It was to the care of Pope Sixtus V. that Rome is indebted for the re-establishment of this fa. mous monument. What was most astonishing is, that this obelisk, as well as that of Augustus, was broke in many pieces; yet they found the means of repairing them without impairing their beauty. It was the famous architect Dominique Foptana whom they charged with the care of repairing them. He directed all the operations of that important undertaking. We know that it was not without a great number of machines and singular precautions, they were able to erect them i
It was by means of this immense multitude of workmen, that the ancient people were able to raise in fo short a time the vast edifices whose execution appears to us at this time fo astonishing. - Plin. loco cit. . See Marín. p. 431. P Plin. loco cit. · Ammian. Nlarcell. I. 17. Ç. 4. p. 163. & 161. 1 lbid. Sre Marth. p. 437
The obelisks, without contradiction, are a species of monuments the most singular which now remain to us of antiquity. There have been found persons who, at the fight of these monstrous masses, have ridiculously imagined that nature had no part in them, that they were entirely the effect of art. Some have believed that the Egyptians had the secret of melting marble and stones in the same manner nearly that we run metals. These columns, these obelisks of one piece, and of an extraordinary height, give, fay they, room to think that these pieces have been cast and run into moulds as we run a piece of metal.
Others have thought that the obelisks were a fort of factitious stone composed of different flints pounded, cemented, and afterwards incorporated by means of some gum sufficiently hard to bear the cutting and polishing. They al. ledge in proof of their sentiment, that, in the whole world, we cannot find at this time a quarry where we can see blocks of fuch a size. Further, add they, if one could find them, it would be impossible to draw them out, for example, a piece of the size of the obelisk of Ramesses, and still more impoffible to transport it. They propose likewise other objections which I shall not stop to relate a.
Those who reason thus, lhew plainly that they have not
+ See vita di sisto V. da Greg. Leti, parte 3. 1. 1. p.4. &c. p. 22. &c.; see also Father Kirker, de orig. d erectione obeliscorum.
u See Maillet, description of Egypt, sest. 9. P. 39. & 40.; Shaw's voyage, t. 2. p. 82.; Mem. de Trev. Juill. 1703. p. 1218. & 1219.; Traité de l' opinion, 1.6. p. 608.; Diarium Ital. P. Montfaucon, c. 17. p. 247.
acquired much knowledge in the arts. With respect to the firit, who have imagined that the obelisks had been melted and cast like pieces of metal; they are apparently ignorant that marble and stones are not fusible. There are only sands and flints that are fo. Moreover, could we even fuppose that the Egyptians had had in this particular fome secret unknown to us, are these persons ignorant that the effect of fusion is to vitrify these sort of substances, and by consequence' to change them? Instead of the monuments of marble which we now see, this secret could only have produced monuments of glass.
As to those who believe that the marble of the obelisks was only a species of factitious stone, an assemblage of flints united and incorporated with cement ; the objection is more fpecious, but not more folid. Do they imagine it would be possible to form with mastic, pieces of the size equal to that of the obelisks, and of a hardness capable of resisting the injuries of so many ages as have passed since the erection of those monuments? We know, it is true, of these sorts of compositions able to hear the chisel, and even susceptible of polish. But experience has shewn that we have not yet found the art to make with mastic, a composition sufficiently hard and folid to resist the action of the sun in our climates, and by much greater reason in Egypt. Besides, it is not necessary to have recourse to all those expedients to explain the manner in which the Egyptians have procured themselves the enormous masses which served for the construction of their obelisks.
Pliny informs us, that these people got from the mountains of the Upper Egypt, the granite which they used x. They have even discovered the quarry whence they presume these obelisks were cut. We there remark even at this day the matrices of these famous monuments. In that chain of mountains which bound Egypt on the west, and which run along the Nile towards the desert, we find divers sorts of marbles, and particularly of granite, the same which had been used for the obelisks. We still see in these places, say the traz L. 36. sest. 13. &. 14. p. 735.