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“The irregularity of this colonnade, all of whose intercolumniations are une. qual, and whose columns, more numerous than the caryatid pillars, which form the other gallery, do not correspond with them, might lead us to believe that the Egyptian architects had made it their object in this case, to violate all the rules of symmetry. But this symmetry was not what they had chiefly in view, at least in details ; they sought to produce great effects, and in this ey have rarely failed. The long and fine lines of their architecture principally strike us, and excite the highest degree of astonishment; this we have ourselves experienced in paying our tribute of admiration to this beautiful court, before we perceived the want of symmetry in its parts."
The pylon which forms the bottom of the court, has a gate nine feet in width, whose casing is of granite ornamented with hieroglyphics. The whole front is decorated with religious subjects, and hieroglyphic characters. After having passed the gate of this pylon, a court is entered, which is a true peristyle, hav. ing galleries entirely surrounding it. These are supported on two opposite sides by eight pillars with caryatides, and on the other two, by five large columns. All the ceilings are decorated with stars painted on a blue ground, with the exception of the two centre soffits, which are adorned with falcons with spread wings.
“Nothing adds so much to the effect which this peristyle produces, as the ca. ryatid pillars that adorn it. How, in fact, can we avoid being seized with profound and religious respect, at the view of this council of gods, assembled, as it might seem, to dictate the laws of wisdom and philanthropy, which are seen every where inscribed on the walls of the palace? The Egyptian artists, in thus attaching the statues of deities to pillars, which bear rich ceilings, embellished with golden stars, scattered over a blue ground, appear to have wished to represent the divinity, beneath the azure vault, which he fills with his immensity."
These pillars seem to have given to the Greeks the idea of their caryatides, but in this case the original exceeds the copy in taste. The statues of the Egyptians stand out from massive columns which support the roof, while the Greek caryatides appear borne down by the weight of the architrave with which they are loaded.
These galleries have their walls covered with sculptures, painted of brilliant and lively colours, some of which are extremely interesting ; we shall return to the description of a part of them, after completing that of the edifice itself. Beyond the wall of the farthest gallery, are four small apartments, the proper entrance to which was from the opposite side to the peristyle, and has been closed up; they are now approached by a forcible passage made in the wall. They are richly adorned, and seem to have been the private apartments of the personage who resided in the palace, and held his court in the magnificent peristyle. The gate which leads from the peristyle on the side opposite to the entrance, is shut to its very lintel with rubbish, partly of the additional buildings of the palace, partly of modern dwellings, so that here all further researches were at an end.
The most interesting of the sculptures to which we have referred, as existing upon the walls of the peristyle, represents the VOL. V.NO. 9.
triumph of the hero, whose great actions form the subject of the principal part of the other representations.
“Two ranges of figures, which, in the ceremony that this basso-relievo commemorates, probably marched abreast, are represented one above another. The three figures on the left* of the upper range, are soldiers who bear lances in their right hands, and have bucklers upon their arms ; in their left hands they carry a species of club. Eight figures clothed in long robes, and grouped in pairs, precede them, bearing long palms in their hands; four of them also carry battle-axes; their heads are adorned with plumes, the emblem of victory ; two other figures, one of which carries a quiver, and the other a stem of the lotus with its Aower, are in front, and march preceded by two personages that seem to direct this first column of the procession. Beneath, are eight men, carrying steps that are probably intended to ascend and descend from the triumphal car. Eight persons who precede, have their heads ornamented with plumes, and are clothed in transparent drapery; they carry sacrificial axes, and rods of lotus sur. mounted with feathers. Four figures placed in front, are bare headed, and also carry the lotus and plumes; they are a little bent, and in the attitude of persons penetrated with respect for the august ceremony in which they are engaged. The hero himself, is seated on a throne, place in a sort of palankeen richly adorned, borne upon the shoulders of twelve persons of the military caste, grouped in pairs ; they are clothed in long robes, and crowned with plumes. In the intervals of the three first groupes, appear the heads of two personages who seem to direct the march. Standards are also seen borne by three other persons, whose figures are entirely hidden. The throne is covered with rich stuffs, and the feet of the hero repose luxuriously on cushions; he bears in his hands the attributes of the divinity ; behind him are two protecting genü, that shelter him with their wings; at his side are the emblems of the qualities which distinguish him, the lion that announces his courage, the hawk which is the symbol of his victories, the serpent indicating the extent of his conquests and dominions, the sphinx, which no doubt has relation to his knowledge in all that concerns religion and the gods. Before and behind the bead of the hero, are hieroglyphics, which probably indicate his name and the subject of his triumph. On the base of the palankeen are small figures, clothed in long robes, that carry his arms, his quiver, and his arrows. The palankeen is decorated in its lower part with two small erect figures, and at the top with the Egyptian cornice surmounted by fourteen ubæi with disks on their heads; the two uprights are terminated with Aowers of the lotus. Two priests, placed one above the other, march before him, turning their heads and a part of their bodies to the hero ; they burn perfumes. In front of the lower of the two priests, is seen a personage bearing a portfolio, attached by a shoulder strap to his body; he has drawn from it a volume which he unrols, and seems to proclaim the mighty deeds, and the glory of the triumphing monarch. This personage is preceded by four soldiers clothed in robes and crowned with feathers, they bear badges of office, rods with flowers of lotus surmounted each by a long plume ; they have battle-axes in their left hands. Six soldiers similarly dressed are below them, some carying battle-axes and plumes, others augural staves and stems of the lotus. The procession is on its march to the temple of the great divinity of Thebes, and has in front of the whole, two priests. Four figures marching in an opposite direction, appear to come to meet the hero, in order to receive and conduct him into the temple, to the mysterious place where the chest that contains the image of the divinity reposes."
Within the temple,
“ The hero, in the dress of a sacrificer, offers in one hand a censer in which in. cense is burnt, and holds in the other three vases tied together, with which he
• The description begins on the left, and in the rear of the procession.
It is from these thai Champollion has shown that the king represented is Ramses Meiamoun:
prepares to pour libations upon an altar, on which lie different productions of nature, such as foliage, and the branches and flowers of the lotus.”
“The sacrifice finished, the march continues, but now the statue of the divinity forms itself a part of the procession. Four personages that are recognised as priests by their shaven heads, bear trees in a coffer ; above, two priests bear a great tablet, apparently designed to have inscribed upon it, the victories of the hero, and his august triumph; or perhaps, to perpetuate the memory of the sacrifice he has been just offering.
“The statue of the god is borne on a litter by twenty-four priests; it has been withdrawn from the sacred place in which it was shut up; it is surrounded with all the pomp of religious ceremony, with garlands, branches and Aowers of the lotus, standards, and plumes. A rich drapery, covered with embroidery, envelopes all the priests who bear the litter, so that their heads and feet are alone visi. ble. Two small figures are at the feet of the divinity; one of them, seated on its heels, makes an offering of two vases, in which are probably contained the first fruits of the inundation. In front marches the hero, clothed in other garments, and wearing another head-dress; he holds in his hands the attributes of supreme, power. Above his head hovers a vulture bearing his royal legend. The sacred bull appears himself in the midst of the procession, perhaps that kept at Hounonthis near Thebes; his neck is ornamented with sacred fillets ; he bears on his bead a disk surmounted by two plumes; a priest burns incense before him.”
“The march continues, and a personage who is entirely surrounded with hieroglyphic inscriptions, unrols a volume, and seems to proclaim the actions of the bero. But the scene soon changes, and the hero again becomes a sacrificer ; armed with a sickle, he cuts a bundle of branches and buds of the lotus which a priest presents to him. Another priest follows, and holds a rouleau of papyrus elevated in his hands, on which he seems to read; they are perhaps the prayers prescribed for the occasion. The sacred bull figures again in this scene, which appears entirely devoted to agriculture. This sacrifice appears to be the prelude to another which the triumpher is about to make, after approaching more near to the sanctuary, where the statue of the great divinity of Thebes is deposited ; and in the last scene of this triumphal march, the Egyptian hero presents perfumes to Harpocrates."
“With this act terminates this grand religious and military procession, which may be considered as a faithful representation of all the ceremonies that are observed at the triumph of a warrior king. Sacrifices offered to the gods, began and closed this august act.”
Such are the remains of the palace of Medinet-Abou, and such one of the numerous basso relievos that decorate its walls. In magnificence and extent however, it falls far short of the palace of Karnac, probably the most splendid in material and decoration, ever erected by the hand of man.
The comparison which Messrs. Jollois and Devilliers make between the extent and magnitude of the buildings of Thebes, and those of other countries and ages, is extremely curious, and tends to show how far the most powerful and magnificent of succeeding nations, have been from equaling the architectural grandeur of this ancient people.
“As nothing in nature has an absolute size, and as the mind of man judges of all that the universe affords to his observation by relation alone, it is only by bringing into comparison analogous objects, that we can form a just idea of their extent and importance. It therefore appears to us to be proper, in order to leave nothing to be desired in respect to the knowledge of the monuments of Thebes,
and more particularly of those of Karnac, to institute a parallel between them and edifices that are well known.
“In order to accomplish our object, we shall first compare the monuments of Karnac, with the edifices erected by the Greeks and Romans. These last, which have been better appreciated since the revival of the arts, and have been sought out with eagerness, have become classic, and are in consequence well adapted to mect our views.
“The monuments properly called Grecian, those for instance, which were con. structed under the government of Pericles, at a time when a taste for the arts was so eminent, and when Athens was free and flourishing, cannot enter into com. parison, in point of extent, with those of Egypt. The temple of Theseus, the Propylæa and the Parthenon, are buildings of small extent; the last has about the same dimensions as a single temple, that of the south, at Karnac.
“The monuments of Magna Grecia, whose ruins still exist at Pæstum, and which appear to date from that age of architecture, when the severe taste of the Greeks admitted of no superfluous ornament, are no more comparable in point of dimensions, than those of Athens, to the vast structures of Egypt. · "In the prosperous age of Greece, the Athenians erected temples of exquisite taste, but of small dimensions ; but under the government of the Romans, Athens saw raised within her walls, edifices which added to the merit of purity of design, colossal dimensions. The mention of the temple of Jupiter Olympius, re. calls to our memory one of the greatest buildings of the Romans ; it is however no longer known but in the descriptions of Pausanias and Vitruvius. If we are to believe their testimony, it was in the midst of a vast enclosure : it was there. fore one of the monuments which might best compare with those of Egypt.
“If from Athens we pass to Palmyra and Balbec, we there find ruins of monuments so magnificent, that they might have been considered as the most difficult effort of human power, before the ancient capital of Egypt became as well known as it now is. Who is there who has not been seized with admiration in reading the stories of travellers, in relation to the wonders which these cities, once so flourishing, but now so desolate, contain? Who is there who has not learnt with astonishment, that at Palmyra, in a place enveloped an all sides by the desert, there still exist ruins of such magnificence, as the imagination can hardly conceive? The great temple of the Sun is situated in an enclosure, two hundred and forty-six metres* in length, and two hundred and twenty-onet metres in breadth; three hundred and sixty-four columns, upwards of four feet in diameter, and forty-eight feet in height, supported its long galleries, and vast porticoes. The temple itself, now in ruins, occupies a space of seventyt metres by forty-two. The portico and peristyle are formed of forty-one columns, all of white marble, and more than fifty feet in height. The colossal dimensions of these edifices are not what most excites our wonder ; but we admire still more, the sculptures with which the friezes, the cornices, and the soffits, are covered; the rich ornaments which decorate the casings of the windows and the doors. In point of taste, of purity of design, and elegance of proportions, Thebes has no sculptures to oppose to those of Palmyra ; but is far superior in the extent of the sculptured surface of its numerous monuments. The palace of Karnac, without counting the buildings immediately connected with it, is three hundred and fifty-eight metres! in length, and one hundred and ten in breadth, so that in point of size, it is far be. yond the temple of the Sun ; but besides, how great is the difference in the manner in which the surrounding spaces are occupied ! The temple of the Sun stands alone and isolated in the middle of its enclosure, while the walls that surround the palace of Karnac, contain a series of contiguous buildings, that scarcely leave any void within their immense circuit.
“Palmyra is especially remarkable for its long avenues of columns, of a single
1230 English feet.
120 English yards.
form vast porticoes, adorned with a quantity of statues and monumental inscrip. tions. The least number at which all these columns can be reckoned, is fourteen hundred and fifty, but no more than one hundred and twenty-nine remain upright. To all this magnificence, Karnac can oppose its numerous avenues of sphinges : placed in one continuous line, they would occupy a length of twenty nine hundred and twenty-five* metres, and one of them has itself an extent of two thousandt metres. They must have comprised at least sixteen hundred sphinges, of which two hundred still remain. These colossi contain vastly more matter, and have required far more labour than all the columns of the vast por. ticoes of Palmyra.
“ It is true, that Palmyra still proudly shows other imposing ruins, and nume. rous columns, among which, are some of a single portion of granite ; but Karnac also, which is but a portion of Thebes, comprises besides the palace, the remains of temples, of magnificent gates, and more than forty monolith statues. Palmyra has two triumphal columns, sixty feet in height: but the great columns of Karnac are ten feet higber, and are in numbers sufficient to form an avenue. What farther reasons should we have to allow the superiority of Thebes, if instead of considering no more than a portion of this celebrated city, we should enumerate the monuments which it encloses in its whole extent ! In fact, there are not less than eight monolith obelisks, of which, four are entire, and are all of prodigious height ; seventeen pylons of colossal dimensions ; seven hundred and Fifty columns almost perfect, some of which have a greater diameter than that of Trajan. There are besides, still to be seen at Thebes, seventy-seven monolith statues, the least of which is larger than life, and the largest is fifty-four feet in height.
• The circuit of the ruins of Palmyra is five thousand seven hundred and seventy-twof metres. This is nearly the same with that of the ruins of Karnac. But, as we have already said, Karnac was no inore than a part of the city of Thebes, whose whole circumference could not have been less than fourteen or fifteen thousand metres."'S
We pass by the comparison between the tombs of Palmyra and those of Thebes, as well as the parallel with Balbec.
“In order to complete the rapid parallel which we have undertaken to make, it remains to compare the monuments of ancient Rome with those of Thebes. Probably no city in the world was ever embellished with a greater number of noble edifices. It still contains the remains of many temples, among which may be cited those of Jupiter Stator, of Jupiter Tonans, of Antonimes and Faustina, of the Sun and Moon; however, no one of these monuments can do more than enter in comparison in extent with the temple of the South at Karnac. Rome contains edifices of another character, of colossal dimensions: it has its Pantheon, its Colisæum, and its theatres. But it is particularly in the baths built by the emperors, that there shines a magnificence truly extraordinary: a single hall of the Thermæ of Dioclesian, is fifty-eight and a half metres in length, and twenty-fourg in breadth. Great, however, as are these dimensions, they are far beneath those of the hypostyle hall of Karnac, which is one hundred and four** metres in length, and fifty-twoft in breadth.
" If we examine the modern city of Rome, ainong the numerous edifices with which it is filled, one surpasses all the rest in grandeur and magnificence; this is the basilic of St. Peters, whose cupola, suspended in the air, is one hundred and thirty-seven feet in height, an elevation almost equal to that of the great pyramid of Memphis. This church bas in length, two hundred and eighteen metres,# and one hundred and fifty-five metres$$ in breadth. Two galleries, arranged in the figure of a horse shoe, serve as avennes to this majestic edifice, and add con. siderably to its extent, which, including them, is four-hundred and ninety-seven | metres. But this is thirty-seven metres less than the space comprised between
A mile and five-sixths.
† Nearly a mile and a quarter. More than three miles and a half.
$ About nine miles. 180 feet. 975 feet.
tt 159 'feet. #1 238 English "yards $ 170 English yards. || 543 English yards.