The Ruins
C. F. [Constantin Francois de] Volney

Part 4 out of 6

effect of his organization, he conceived for them love or aversion;
he desired or dreaded their presence; and fear or hope gave rise to
the first idea of religion.

"Then, judging everything by comparison, and remarking in these
beings a spontaneous movement like his own, he supposed this
movement directed by a will,--an intelligence of the nature of his
own; and hence, by induction, he formed a new reasoning. Having
experienced that certain practices towards his fellow creatures had
the effect to modify their affections and direct their conduct to
his advantage, he resorted to the same practices towards these
powerful beings of the universe. He reasoned thus with himself:
When my fellow creature, stronger than I, is disposed to do me
injury, I abase myself before him, and my prayer has the art to
calm him. I will pray to these powerful beings who strike me. I
will supplicate the intelligences of the winds, of the stars, of
the waters, and they will hear me. I will conjure them to avert
the evil and give me the good that is at their disposal; I will
move them by my tears, I will soften them by offerings, and I shall
be happy.

"Thus simple man, in the infancy of his reason, spoke to the sun
and to the moon; he animated with his own understanding and
passions the great agents of nature; he thought by vain sounds, and
vain actions, to change their inflexible laws. Fatal error! He
prayed the stone to ascend, the water to mount above its level, the
mountains to remove, and substituting a fantastical world for the
real one, he peopled it with imaginary beings, to the terror of his
mind and the torment of his race.

"In this manner the ideas of God and religion have sprung, like all
others, from physical objects; they were produced in the mind of
man from his sensations, from his wants, from the circumstances of
his life, and the progressive state of his knowledge.

"Now, as the ideas of God had their first models in physical
agents, it followed that God was at first varied and manifold, like
the form under which he appeared to act. Every being was a Power,
a Genius; and the first men conceived the universe filled with
innumerable gods.

"Again the ideas of God have been created by the affections of the
human heart; they became necessarily divided into two classes,
according to the sensations of pleasure or pain, love or hatred,
which they inspired.

"The forces of nature, the gods and genii, were divided into
beneficent and malignant, good and evil powers; and hence the
universality of these two characters in all the systems of

"These ideas, analogous to the condition of their inventors, were
for a long time confused and ill-digested. Savage men, wandering
in the woods, beset with wants and destitute of resources, had not
the leisure to combine principles and draw conclusions; affected
with more evils than they found pleasures, their most habitual
sentiment was that of fear, their theology terror; their worship
was confined to a few salutations and offerings to beings whom they
conceived as greedy and ferocious as themselves. In their state of
equality and independence, no man offered himself as mediator
between men and gods as insubordinate and poor as himself. No one
having superfluities to give, there existed no parasite by the name
of priest, no tribute by the name of victim, no empire by the name
of altar. Their dogmas and their morals were the same thing, it
was only self-preservation; and religion, that arbitrary idea,
without influence on the mutual relations of men, was a vain homage
rendered to the visible powers of nature.

"Such was the necessary and original idea of God."

And the orator, addressing himself to the savage nations,

"We appeal to you, men who have received no foreign and factitious
ideas; tell us, have you ever gone beyond what I have described?
And you, learned doctors, we call you to witness; is not this the
unanimous testimony of all ancient monuments?*

* It clearly results, says Plutarch, from the verses of Orpheus and
the sacred books of the Egyptians and Phrygians, that the ancient
theology, not only of the Greeks, but of all nations, was nothing
more than a system of physics, a picture of the operations of
nature, wrapped up in mysterious allegories and enigmatical
symbols, in a manner that the ignorant multitude attended rather to
their apparent than to their hidden meaning, and even in what they
understood of the latter, supposed there to be something more deep
than what they perceived. Fragment of a work of Plutarch now lost,
quoted by Eusebius, Proepar. Evang. lib. 3, ch. 1, p. 83.

The majority of philosophers, says Porphyry, and among others
Haeremon (who lived in Egypt in the first age of Christianity),
imagine there never to have been any other world than the one we
see, and acknowledged no other Gods of all those recognized by the
Egyptians, than such as are commonly called planets, signs of the
Zodiac, and constellations; whose aspects, that is, rising and
setting, are supposed to influence the fortunes of men; to which
they add their divisions of the signs into decans and dispensers of
time, whom they style lords of the ascendant, whose names, virtues
in relieving distempers, rising, setting, and presages of future
events, are the subjects of almanacs (for be it observed, that the
Egyptian priests had almanacs the exact counterpart of Matthew
Lansberg's); for when the priests affirmed that the sun was the
architect of the universe, Chaeremon presently concludes that all
their narratives respecting Isis and Osiris, together with their
other sacred fables, referred in part to the planets, the phases of
the moon, and the revolution of the sun, and in part to the stars
of the daily and nightly hemispheres and the river Nile; in a word,
in all cases to physical and natural existences and never to such
as might be immaterial and incorporeal. . . .

All these philosophers believe that the acts of our will and the
motion of our bodies depend on those of the stars to which they are
subjected, and they refer every thing to the laws of physical
necessity, which they call destiny or Fatum, supposing a chain of
causes and effects which binds, by I know not what connection, all
beings together, from the meanest atom to the supremest power and
primary influence of the Gods; so that, whether in their temples or
in their idols, the only subject of worship is the power of
destiny. Porphyr. Epist. ad Janebonem.

II. Second system: Worship of the Stars, or Sabeism.

"But those same monuments present us likewise a system more
methodical and more complicated--that of the worship of all the
stars; adored sometimes in their proper forms, sometimes under
figurative emblems and symbols; and this worship was the effect of
the knowledge men had acquired in physics, and was derived
immediately from the first causes of the social state; that is,
from the necessities and arts of the first degree, which are among
the elements of society.

"Indeed, as soon as men began to unite in society, it became
necessary for them to multiply the means of subsistence, and
consequently to attend to agriculture: agriculture, to be carried
on with success, requires the observation and knowledge of the
heavens. It was necessary to know the periodical return of the
same operations of nature, and the same phenomena in the skies;
indeed to go so far as to ascertain the duration and succession of
the seasons and the months of the year. It was indispensable to
know, in the first place, the course of the sun, who, in his
zodiacal revolution, shows himself the supreme agent of the whole
creation; then, of the moon, who, by her phases and periods,
regulates and distributes time; then, of the stars, and even of the
planets, which by their appearance and disappearance on the horizon
and nocturnal hemisphere, marked the minutest divisions. Finally,
it was necessary to form a whole system of astronomy,* or a
calendar; and from these works there naturally followed a new
manner of considering these predominant and governing powers.
Having observed that the productions of the earth had a regular and
constant relation with the heavenly bodies; that the rise, growth,
and decline of each plant kept pace with the appearance, elevation,
and declination of the same star or the same group of stars; in
short, that the languor or activity of vegetation seemed to depend
on celestial influences, men drew from thence an idea of action, of
power, in those beings, superior to earthly bodies; and the stars,
dispensing plenty or scarcity, became powers, genii,** gods,
authors of good and evil.

* It continues to be repeated every day, on the indirect authority
of the book of Genesis, that astronomy was the invention of the
children of Noah. It has been gravely said, that while wandering
shepherds in the plains of Shinar, they employed their leisure in
composing a planetary system: as if shepherds had occasion to know
more than the polar star; and if necessity was not the sole motive
of every invention! If the ancient shepherds were so studious and
sagacious, how does it happen that the modern ones are so stupid,
ignorant, and inattentive? And it is a fact that the Arabs of the
desert know not so many as six constellations, and understand not a
word of astronomy.

** It appears that by the word genius, the ancients denoted a
quality, a generative power; for the following words, which are all
of one family, convey this meaning: generare, genos, genesis,
genus, gens.

"As the state of society had already introduced a regular hierarchy
of ranks, employments and conditions, men, continuing to reason by
comparison, carried their new notions into their theology, and
formed a complicated system of divinities by gradation of rank, in
which the sun, as first god,* was a military chief or a political
king: the moon was his wife and queen; the planets were servants,
bearers of commands, messengers; and the multitude of stars were a
nation, an army of heroes, genii, whose office was to govern the
world under the orders of their chiefs. All the individuals had
names, functions, attributes, drawn from their relations and
influences; and even sexes, from the gender of their

* The Sabeans, ancient and modern, says Maimonides, acknowledge a
principal God, the maker and inhabitant of heaven; but on account
of his great distance they conceive him to be inaccessible; and in
imitation of the conduct of people towards their kings, they employ
as mediators with him, the planets and their angels, whom they call
princes and potentates, and whom they suppose to reside in those
luminous bodies as in palaces or tabernacles, etc. More-Nebuchim.

** According as the gender of the object was in the language of the
nation masculine or feminine, the Divinity who bore its name was
male or female. Thus the Cappadocians called the moon God, and the
sun Goddess: a circumstance which gives to the same beings a
perpetual variety in ancient mythology.

"And as the social state had introduced certain usages and
ceremonies, religion, keeping pace with the social state, adopted
similar ones; these ceremonies, at first simple and private, became
public and solemn; the offerings became rich and more numerous, and
the rites more methodical; they assigned certain places for the
assemblies, and began to have chapels and temples; they instituted
officers to administer them, and these became priests and pontiffs:
they established liturgies, and sanctified certain days, and
religion became a civil act, a political tie.

"But in this arrangement, religion did not change its first
principles; the idea of God was always that of physical beings,
operating good or evil, that is, impressing sensations of pleasure
or pain: the dogma was the knowledge of their laws, or their manner
of acting; virtue and sin, the observance or infraction of these
laws; and morality, in its native simplicity, was the judicious
practice of whatever contributes to the preservation of existence,
the well-being of one's self and his fellow creatures.*

* We may add, says Plutarch, that these Egyptian priests always
regarded the preservation of health as a point of the first
importance, and as indispensably necessary to the practice of piety
and the service of the gods. See his account of Isis and Osiris,
towards the end.

"Should it be asked at what epoch this system took its birth, we
shall answer on the testimony of the monuments of astronomy itself;
that its principles appear with certainty to have been established
about seventeen thousand years ago,* and if it be asked to what
people it is to be attributed, we shall answer that the same
monuments, supported by unanimous traditions, attribute it to the
first tribes of Egypt; and when reason finds in that country all
the circumstances which could lead to such a system; when it finds
there a zone of sky, bordering on the tropic, equally free from the
rains of the equator and the fogs of the North;** when it finds
there a central point of the sphere of the ancients, a salubrious
climate, a great, but manageable river, a soil fertile without art
or labor, inundated without morbid exhalations, and placed between
two seas which communicate with the richest countries, it conceives
that the inhabitant of the Nile, addicted to agriculture from the
nature of his soil, to geometry from the annual necessity of
measuring his lands, to commerce from the facility of
communications, to astronomy from the state of his sky, always open
to observation, must have been the first to pass from the savage to
the social state; and consequently to attain the physical and moral
sciences necessary to civilized life.

* The historical orator follows here the opinion of M. Dupuis, who,
in his learned memoirs concerning the Origin of the Constellations
and Origin of all Worship, has assigned many plausible reasons to
prove that Libra was formerly the sign of the vernal, and Aries of
the autumnal equinox; that is, that since the origin of the actual
astronomical system, the precession of the equinoxes has carried
forward by seven signs the primitive order of the zodiac. Now
estimating the precession at about seventy years and a half to a
degree, that is, 2,115 years to each sign; and observing that Aries
was in its fifteenth degree, 1,447 years before Christ, it follows
that the first degree of Libra could not have coincided with the
vernal equinox more lately than 15,194 years before Christ; now, if
you add 1790 years since Christ, it appears that 16,984 years have
elapsed since the origin of the Zodiac. The vernal equinox
coincided with the first degree of Aries, 2,504 years before
Christ, and with the first degree of Taurus 4,619 years before
Christ. Now it is to be observed, that the worship of the Bull is
the principal article in the theological creed of the Egyptians,
Persians, Japanese, etc.; from whence it clearly follows, that some
general revolution took place among these nations at that time.
The chronology of five or six thousand years in Genesis is little
agreeable to this hypothesis; but as the book of Genesis cannot
claim to be considered as a history farther back than Abraham, we
are at liberty to make what arrangements we please in the eternity
that preceded. See on this subject the analysis of Genesis, in the
first volume of New Researches on Ancient History; see also Origin
of Constellatians, by Dupuis, 1781; the Origin of Worship, in 3
vols. 1794, and the Chronological Zodiac, 1806.

** M. Balli, in placing the first astronomers at Selingenakoy, near
the Bailkal paid no attention to this twofold circumstance: it
equally argues against their being placed at Axoum on account of
the rains, and the Zimb fly of which Mr. Bruce speaks.

"It was, then, on the borders of the upper Nile, among a black race
of men, that was organized the complicated system of the worship of
the stars, considered in relation to the productions of the earth
and the labors of agriculture; and this first worship,
characterized by their adoration under their own forms and natural
attributes, was a simple proceeding of the human mind. But in a
short time, the multiplicity of the objects of their relations, and
their reciprocal influence, having complicated the ideas, and the
signs that represented them, there followed a confusion as singular
in its cause as pernicious in its effects.

III. Third system. Worship of Symbols, or Idolatry.

"As soon as this agricultural people began to observe the stars
with attention, they found it necessary to individualize or group
them; and to assign to each a proper name, in order to understand
each other in their designation. A great difficulty must have
presented itself in this business: First, the heavenly bodies,
similar in form, offered no distinguishing characteristics by which
to denominate them; and, secondly, the language in its infancy and
poverty, had no expressions for so many new and metaphysical ideas.
Necessity, the usual stimulus of genius, surmounted everything.
Having remarked that in the annual revolution, the renewal and
periodical appearance of terrestrial productions were constantly
associated with the rising and setting of certain stars, and to
their position as relative to the sun, the fundamental term of all
comparison, the mind by a natural operation connected in thought
these terrestrial and celestial objects, which were connected in
fact; and applying to them a common sign, it gave to the stars, and
their groups, the names of the terrestrial objects to which they

* "The ancients," says Maimonides, "directing all their attention
to agriculture, gave names to the stars derived from their
occupation during the year." More Neb. pars 3.

"Thus the Ethopian of Thebes named stars of inundation, or
Aquarius, those stars under which the Nile began to overflow;*
stars of the ox or the bull, those under which they began to plow;
stars of the lion, those under which that animal, driven from the
desert by thirst, appeared on the banks of the Nile; stars of the
sheaf, or of the harvest virgin, those of the reaping season; stars
of the lamb, stars of the two kids, those under which these
precious animals were brought forth: and thus was resolved the
first part of the difficulty.

* This must have been June.

"Moreover, man having remarked in the beings which surrounded him
certain qualities distinctive and proper to each species, and
having thence derived a name by which to designate them, he found
in the same source an ingenious mode of generalizing his ideas; and
transferring the name already invented to every thing which bore
any resemblance or analogy, he enriched his language with a
perpetual round of metaphors.

"Thus the same Ethiopian having observed that the return of the
inundation always corresponded with the rising of a beautiful star
which appeared towards the source of the Nile, and seemed to warn
the husbandman against the coming waters, he compared this action
to that of the animal who, by his barking, gives notice of danger,
and he called this star the dog, the barker (Sirius). In the same
manner he named the stars of the crab, those where the sun, having
arrived at the tropic, retreated by a slow retrograde motion like
the crab or cancer. He named stars of the wild goat, or Capricorn,
those where the sun, having reached the highest point in his
annuary tract, rests at the summit of the horary gnomon, and
imitates the goat, who delights to climb the summit of the rocks.
He named stars of the balance, or libra, those where the days and
nights, being equal, seemed in equilibrium, like that instrument;
and stars of the scorpion, those where certain periodical winds
bring vapors, burning like the venom of the scorpion. In the same
manner he called by the name of rings and serpents the figured
traces of the orbits of the stars and the planets, and such was the
general mode of naming all the stars and even the planets, taken by
groups or as individuals, according to their relations with
husbandry and terrestrial objects, and according to the analogies
which each nation found between them and the objects of its
particular soil and climate.*

* The ancients had verbs from the substantives crab, goat,
tortoise, as the French have at present the verbs serpenter,
coquetter. The history of all languages is nearly the same.

"From this it appeared that abject and terrestrial beings became
associated with the superior and powerful inhabitants of heaven;
and this association became stronger every day by the mechanism of
language and the constitution of the human mind. Men would say by
a natural metaphor: The bull spreads over the earth the germs of
fecundity (in spring) he restores vegetation and plenty: the lamb
(or ram) delivers the skies from the maleficent powers of winter;
he saves the world from the serpent (emblem of the humid season)
and restores the empire of goodness (summer, joyful season): the
scorpion pours out his poison on the earth, and scatters diseases
and death. The same of all similar effects.

"This language, understood by every one, was attended at first with
no inconvenience; but in the course of time, when the calendar had
been regulated, the people, who had no longer any need of observing
the heavens, lost sight of the original meaning of these
expressions; and the allegories remaining in common use became a
fatal stumbling block to the understanding and to reason.
Habituated to associate to the symbols the ideas of their
archetypes, the mind at last confounded them: then the same
animals, whom fancy had transported to the skies, returned again to
the earth; but being thus returned, clothed in the livery of the
stars, they claimed the stellary attributes, and imposed on their
own authors. Then it was that the people, believing that they saw
their gods among them, could pray to them with more convenience:
they demanded from the ram of their flock the influences which
might be expected from the heavenly ram; they prayed the scorpion
not to pour out his venom upon nature; they revered the crab of the
sea, the scarabeus of the mud, the fish of the river; and by a
series of corrupt but inseparable analogies, they lost themselves
in a labyrinth of well connected absurdities.

"Such was the origin of that ancient whimsical worship of the
animals; such is the train of ideas by which the character of the
divinity became common to the vilest of brutes, and by which was
formed that theological system, extremely comprehensive,
complicated, and learned, which, rising on the borders of the Nile,
propagated from country to country by commerce, war, and conquest,
overspread the whole of the ancient world; and which, modified by
time, circumstances and prejudices, is still seen entire among a
hundred nations, and remains as the essential and secret basis of
the theology of those even who despise and reject it."

Some murmurs at these words being heard from various groups: "Yes!"
continued the orator, "hence arose, for instance, among you,
nations of Africa, the adoration of your fetiches, plants, animals,
pebbles, pieces of wood, before which your ancestors would not have
had the folly to bow, if they had not seen in them talismans
endowed with the virtue of the stars.*

* The ancient astrologers, says the most learned of the Jews
(Maimonides), having sacredly assigned to each planet a color, an
animal, a tree, a metal, a fruit, a plant, formed from them all a
figure or representation of the star, taking care to select for the
purpose a proper moment, a fortunate day, such as the conjunction
of the star, or some other favorable aspect. They conceived that
by their magic ceremonies they could introduce into those figures
or idols the influences of the superior beings after which they
were modeled. These were the idols that the Chaldean-Sabeans
adored; and in the performance of their worship they were obliged
to be dressed in the proper color. The astrologers, by their
practices, thus introduced idolatry, desirous of being regarded as
the dispensers of the favors of heaven; and as agriculture was the
sole employment of the ancients, they succeeded in persuading them
that the rain and other blessings of the seasons were at their
disposal. Thus the whole art of agriculture was exercised by rules
of astrology, and the priests made talismans or charms which were
to drive away locusts, flies, etc. See Maimonides, More Nebuchim,
pars 3, c. 29.

The priests of Egypt, Persia, India, etc., pretended to bind the
Gods to their idols, and to make them come from heaven at their
pleasure. They threatened the sun and moon, if they were
disobedient, to reveal the secret mysteries, to shake the skies,
etc., etc. Euseb. Proecep. Evang. p. 198, and Jamblicus de
Mysteriis Aegypt.

"Here, ye nations of Tartary, is the origin of your marmosets, and
of all that train of animals with which your chamans ornament their
magical robes. This is the origin of those figures of birds and of
snakes which savage nations imprint upon their skins with sacred
and mysterious ceremonies.

"Ye inhabitants of India! in vain you cover yourselves with the
veil of mystery: the hawk of your god Vichenou is but one of the
thousand emblems of the sun in Egypt; and your incarnations of a
god in the fish, the boar, the lion, the tortoise, and all his
monstrous adventures, are only the metamorphoses of the sun, who,
passing through the signs of the twelve animals (or the zodiac),
was supposed to assume their figures, and perform their
astronomical functions.*

* These are the very words of Jamblicus de Symbolis Aegyptiorum, c.
2, sect. 7. The sun was the grand Proteus, the universal

"People of Japan, your bull, which breaks the mundane egg, is only
the bull of the zodiac, which in former times opened the seasons,
the age of creation, the vernal equinox. It is the same bull Apis
which Egypt adored, and which your ancestors, Jewish Rabbins,
worshipped in the golden calf. This is still your bull, followers
of Zoroaster, which, sacrificed in the symbolic mysteries of
Mithra, poured out his blood which fertilized the earth. And ye
Christians, your bull of the Apocalypse, with his wings, symbol of
the air, has no other origin; and your lamb of God, sacrificed,
like the bull of Mithra, for the salvation of the world, is only
the same sun, in the sign of the celestial ram, which, in a later
age, opening the equinox in his turn, was supposed to deliver the
world from evil, that is to say, from the constellation of the
serpent, from that great snake, the parent of winter, the emblem of
the Ahrimanes, or Satan of the Persians, your school masters. Yes,
in vain does your imprudent zeal consign idolaters to the torments
of the Tartarus which they invented; the whole basis of your system
is only the worship of the sun, with whose attributes you have
decorated your principal personage. It is the sun which, under the
name of Horus, was born, like your God, at the winter solstice, in
the arms of the celestial virgin, and who passed a childhood of
obscurity, indigence, and want, answering to the season of cold and
frost. It is he that, under the name of Osiris, persecuted by
Typhon and by the tyrants of the air, was put to death, shut up in
a dark tomb, emblem of the hemisphere of winter, and afterwards,
ascending from the inferior zone towards the zenith of heaven,
arose again from the dead triumphant over the giants and the angels
of destruction.

"Ye priests! who murmur at this relation, you wear his emblems all
over your bodies; your tonsure is the disk of the sun; your stole
is his zodiac;* your rosaries are symbols of the stars and planets.
Ye pontiffs and prelates! your mitre, your crozier, your mantle are
those of Osiris; and that cross whose mystery you extol without
comprehending it, is the cross of Serapis, traced by the hands of
Egyptian priests on the plan of the figurative world; which,
passing through the equinoxes and the tropics, became the emblem of
the future life and of the resurrection, because it touched the
gates of ivory and of horn, through which the soul passed to

* "The Arabs," says Herodotus, "shave their heads in a circle and
about the temples, in imitation of Bacchus (that is the sun), who
shaves himself is this manner." Jeremiah speaks also of this
custom. The tuft of hair which the Mahometans preserve, is taken
also from the sun, who was painted by the Egyptians at the winter
solstice, as having but a single hair upon his head. . . .

The robes of the goddess of Syria and of Diana of Ephesus, from
whence are borrowed the dress of the priests; have the twelve
animals of the zodiac painted on them. . . .

Rosaries are found upon all the Indian idols, constructed more than
four thousand years ago, and their use in the East has been
universal from time immemorial. . . .

The crozier is precisely the staff of Bootes or Osiris. (See

All the Lamas wear the mitre or cap in the shape of a cone, which
was an emblem of the sun.

At these words, the doctors of all the groups began to look at each
other with astonishment; but no one breaking silence, the orator

"Three principal causes concur to produce this confusion of ideas:
First, the figurative expressions under which an infant language
was obliged to describe the relations of objects; expressions
which, passing afterwards from a limited to a general sense, and
from a physical to a moral one, caused, by their ambiguities and
synonymes, a great number of mistakes.

"Thus, it being first said that the sun had surmounted, or
finished, twelve animals, it was thought afterwards that he had
killed them, fought them, conquered them; and of this was composed
the historical life of Hercules.*

* See the memoir of Dupuis on the Origin of the Constellations,
before cited.

"It being said that he regulated the periods of rural labor, the
seed time and the harvest, that he distributed the seasons and
occupations, ran through the climates and ruled the earth, etc., he
was taken for a legislative king, a conquering warrior; and they
framed from this the history of Osiris, of Bacchus, and others of
that description.

"Having said that a planet entered into a sign, they made of this
conjunction a marriage, an adultery, an incest.* Having said that
the planet was hid or buried, when it came back to light, and
ascended to its exaltation, they said that it had died, risen
again, was carried into heaven, etc.

* These are the very words of Plutarch in his account of Isis and
Osiris. The Hebrews say, in speaking of the generations of the
Patriarchs, et ingressus est in eam. From this continual equivoke
of ancient language, proceeds every mistake.

"A second cause of confusion was the material figures themselves,
by which men first painted thoughts; and which, under the name of
hieroglyphics, or sacred characters, were the first invention of
the mind. Thus, to give warning of the inundation, and of the
necessity of guarding against it, they painted a boat, the ship
Argo; to express the wind, they painted the wing of a bird; to
designate the season, or the month, they painted the bird of
passage, the insect, or the animal which made its appearance at
that period; to describe the winter, they painted a hog or a
serpent, which delight in humid places, and the combination of
these figures carried the known sense of words and phrases.* But
as this sense could not be fixed with precision, as the number of
these figures and their combinations became excessive, and
overburdened the memory, the immediate consequence was confusion
and false interpretations. Genius afterwards having invented the
more simple art of applying signs to sounds, of which the number is
limited, and painting words, instead of thoughts, alphabetical
writing thus threw into disuetude hieroglyphical painting; and its
signification, falling daily into oblivion, gave rise to a
multitude of illusions, ambiguities, and errors.

* The reader will doubtless see with pleasure some examples of
ancient hieroglyphics.

"The Egyptians (says Hor-appolo) represent eternity by the figures
of the sun and moon. They designate the world by the blue serpent
with yellow scales (stars, it is the Chinese Dragon). If they were
desirous of expressing the year, they drew a picture of Isis, who
is also in their language called Sothis, or dog-star, one of the
first constellations, by the rising of which the year commences;
its inscription at Sais was, It is I that rise in the constellation
of the Dog.

"They also represent the year by a palm tree, and the month by one
of its branches, because it is the nature of this tree to produce a
branch every month. They farther represent it by the fourth part
of an acre of land." The whole acre divided into four denotes the
bissextile period of four years. The abbreviation of this figure
of a field in four divisions, is manifestly the letter ha or het,
the seventh in the Samaritan alphabet; and in general all the
letters of the alphabet are merely astronomical hieroglyphics; and
it is for this reason that the mode of writing is from right to
left, like the march of the stars.--"They denote a prophet by the
image of a dog, because the dog star (Anoubis) by its rising gives
notice of the inundation. Noubi, in Hebrew signifies prophet--They
represent inundation by a lion, because it takes place under that
sign: and hence, says Plutarch, the custom of placing at the gates
of temples figures of lions with water issuing from their mouths.--
They express the idea of God and destiny by a star. They also
represent God, says Porphyry, by a black stone, because his nature
is dark and obscure. All white things express the celestial and
luminous Gods: all circular ones the world, the moon, the sun, the
orbits; all semicircular ones, as bows and crescents are
descriptive of the moon. Fire and the Gods of Olympus they
represent by pyramids and obelisks (the name of the sun, Baal, is
found in this latter word): the sun by a cone (the mitre of
Osiris): the earth, by a cylinder (which revolves): the generative
power of the air by the phalus, and that of the earth by a
triangle, emblem of the female organ. Euseb. Proecep. Evang. p.

"Clay, says Jamblicus de Symbolis, sect. 7, c. 2. denotes matter,
the generative and nutrimental power, every thing which receives
the warmth and fermentation of life."

"A man sitting upon the Lotos or Nenuphar, represents the moving
spirit (the sun) which, in like manner as that plant lives in the
water without any communication with clay, exists equally distinct
from matter, swimming in empty space, resting on itself: it is
round also in all its parts, like the leaves, the flowers, and the
fruit of the Lotos. (Brama has the eyes of the Lotos, says Chasler
Nesdirsen, to denote his intelligence: his eye swims over every
thing, like the flower of the Lotos on the waters.) A man at the
helm of a ship, adds Jamblicus, is descriptive of the sun which
governs all. And Porphyry tells us that the sun is also
represented by a man in a ship resting upon an amphibious crocodile
(emblem of air and water).

"At Elephantine they worshipped the figure of a man in a sitting
posture, painted blue, having the head of a ram, and the horns of a
goat which encompassed a disk; all which represented the sun and
moon's conjunction at the sign of the ram; the blue color denoting
the power of the moon, at the period of junction, to raise water
into the clouds. Euseb. Proecep. Evang. p. 116.

"The hawk is an emblem of the sun and of light, on account of his
rapid flight and his soaring into the highest regions of the air
where light abounds.

A fish is the emblem of aversion, and the Hippopotamus of violence,
because it is said to kill its father and to ravish its mother.
Hence, says Plutarch, the emblematical inscription of the temple of
Sais, where we see painted on the vestibule, 1. A child, 2. An old
man, 3. A hawk, 4. A fish, 5. A hippopotamus: which signify, 1.
Entrance, into life, 2. Departure, 3. God, 4. Hates, 5. Injustice.
See Isis and Osiris.

"The Egyptians, adds he, represent the world by a Scarabeus,
because this insect pushes, in a direction contrary to that in
which it proceeds, a ball containing its eggs, just as the heaven
of the fixed stars causes the revolution of the sun, (the yolk of
an egg) in an opposite direction to its own.

"They represent the world also by the number five, being that of
the elements, which, says Diodorus, are earth, water, air, fire,
and ether, or spiritus. The Indians have the same number of
elements, and according to Macrobius's mystics, they are the
supreme God, or primum mobile, the intelligence, or mens, born of
him, the soul of the world which proceeds from him, the celestial
spheres, and all things terrestrial. Hence, adds Plutarch, the
analogy between the Greek pente, five, and pan all.

"The ass," says he again, "is the emblem of Typhon, because like
that animal he is of a reddish color. Now Typhon signifies
whatever is of a mirey or clayey nature; (and in Hebrew I find the
three words clay, red, and ass to be formed from the same root
hamr. Jamblicus has farther told us that clay was the emblem of
matter and he elsewhere adds, that all evil and corruption
proceeded from matter; which compared with the phrase of Macrobius,
all is perishable, liable to change in the celestial sphere, gives
us the theory, first physical, then moral, of the system of good
and evil of the ancients."

"Finally, a third cause of confusion was the civil organization of
ancient states. When the people began to apply themselves to
agriculture, the formation of a rural calendar, requiring a
continued series of astronomical observations, it became necessary
to appoint certain individuals charged with the functions of
watching the appearance and disappearance of certain stars, to
foretell the return of the inundation, of certain winds, of the
rainy season, the proper time to sow every kind of grain. These
men, on account of their service, were exempt from common labor,
and the society provided for their maintenance. With this
provision, and wholly employed in their observations, they soon
became acquainted with the great phenomena of nature, and even
learned to penetrate the secret of many of her operations. They
discovered the movement of the stars and planets, the coincidence
of their phases and returns with the productions of the earth and
the action of vegetation; the medicinal and nutritive properties of
plants and fruits; the action of the elements, and their reciprocal
affinities. Now, as there was no other method of communicating the
knowledge of these discoveries but the laborious one of oral
instruction, they transmitted it only to their relations and
friends, it followed therefore that all science and instruction
were confined to a few families, who, arrogating it to themselves
as an exclusive privilege, assumed a professional distinction, a
corporation spirit, fatal to the public welfare. This continued
succession of the same researches and the same labors, hastened, it
is true, the progress of knowledge; but by the mystery which
accompanied it, the people were daily plunged in deeper shades, and
became more superstitious and more enslaved. Seeing their fellow
mortals produce certain phenomena, announce, as at pleasure,
eclipses and comets, heal diseases, and handle venomous serpents,
they thought them in alliance with celestial powers; and, to obtain
the blessings and avert the evils which they expected from above,
they took them for mediators and interpreters; and thus became
established in the bosom of every state sacrilegious corporations
of hypocritical and deceitful men, who centered all powers in
themselves; and the priests, being at once astronomers,
theologians, naturalists, physicians, magicians, interpreters of
the gods, oracles of men, and rivals of kings, or their
accomplices, established, under the name of religion, an empire of
mystery and a monopoly of instruction, which to this day have
ruined every nation. . . ."

Here the priests of all the groups interrupted the orator, and with
loud cries accused him of impiety, irreligion, blasphemy; and
endeavored to cut short his discourse; but the legislator observing
that this was only an exposition of historical facts, which, if
false or forged, would be easily refuted; that hitherto the
declaration of every opinion had been free, and without this it
would be impossible to discover the truth, the orator proceeded:

"Now, from all these causes, and from the continual associations of
ill-assorted ideas, arose a mass of disorders in theology, in
morals, and in traditions; first, because the animals represented
the stars, the characters of the animals, their appetites, their
sympathies, their aversions, passed over to the gods, and were
supposed to be their actions; thus, the god Ichneumon made war
against the god Crocodile; the god Wolf liked to eat the god Sheep;
the god Ibis devoured the god Serpent; and the deity became a
strange, capricious, and ferocious being, whose idea deranged the
judgment of man, and corrupted his morals and his reason.

"Again, because in the spirit of their worship every family, every
nation, took for its special patron a star or a constellation, the
affections or antipathies of the symbolic animal were transferred
to its sectaries; and the partisans of the god Dog were enemies to
those of the god Wolf;* those who adored the god Ox had an
abhorrence to those who ate him; and religion became the source of
hatred and hostility,--the senseless cause of frenzy and

* These are properly the words of Plutarch, who relates that those
various worships were given by a king of Egypt to the different
towns to disunite and enslave them, and these kings had been taken
from the cast of priests. See Isis and Osiris.

"Besides, the names of those animal-stars having, for this same
reason of patronage, been conferred on countries, nations,
mountains, and rivers, these objects were taken for gods, and hence
followed a mixture of geographical, historical, and mythological
beings, which confounded all traditions.

"Finally, by the analogy of actions which were ascribed to them,
the god-stars, having been taken for men, for heroes, for kings,
kings and heroes took in their turn the actions of gods for models,
and by imitation became warriors, conquerors, proud, lascivious,
indolent, sanguinary; and religion consecrated the crimes of
despots, and perverted the principles of government.

IV. Fourth system. Worship of two Principles, or Dualism.

"In the mean time, the astronomical priests, enjoying peace and
abundance in their temples, made every day new progress in the
sciences, and the system of the world unfolding gradually to their
view, they raised successively various hypotheses as to its agents
and effects, which became so many theological systems.

"The voyages of the maritime nations and the caravans of the nomads
of Asia and Africa, having given them a knowledge of the earth from
the Fortunate Islands to Serica, and from the Baltic to the sources
of the Nile, the comparison of the phenomena of the various zones
taught them the rotundity of the earth, and gave birth to a new
theory. Having remarked that all the operations of nature during
the annual period were reducible to two principal ones, that of
producing and that of destroying; that on the greater part of the
globe these two operations were performed in the intervals of the
two equinoxes; that is to say, during the six months of summer
every thing was procreating and multiplying, and that during winter
everything languished and almost died; they supposed in Nature two
contrary powers, which were in a continual state of contention and
exertion; and considering the celestial sphere in this view, they
divided the images which they figured upon it into two halves or
hemispheres; so that the constellations which were on the summer
heaven formed a direct and superior empire; and those which were on
the winter heaven composed an antipode and inferior empire.
Therefore, as the constellations of summer accompanied the season
of long, warm, and unclouded days, and that of fruits and harvests,
they were considered as the powers of light, fecundity, and
creation; and, by a transition from a physical to a moral sense,
they became genii, angels of science, of beneficence, of purity and
virtue. And as the constellations of winter were connected with
long nights and polar fogs, they were the genii of darkness, of
destruction, of death; and by transition, angels of ignorance, of
wickedness, of sin and vice. By this arrangement the heaven was
divided into two domains, two factions; and the analogy of human
ideas already opened a vast field to the errors of imagination; but
the mistake and the illusion were determined, if not occasioned by
a particular circumstance. (Observe plate Astrological Heaven of
the Ancients.)

"In the projection of the celestial sphere, as traced by the
astronomical priests,* the zodiac and the constellations, disposed
in circular order, presented their halves in diametrical
opposition; the hemisphere of winter, antipode of that of summer,
was adverse, contrary, opposed to it. By a continual metaphor,
these words acquired a moral sense; and the adverse genii, or
angels, became revolted enemies.** From that moment all the
astronomical history of the constellations was changed into a
political history ; the heavens became a human state, where things
happened as on the earth. Now, as the earthly states, the greater
part despotic, had already their monarchs, and as the sun was
apparently the monarch of the skies, the summer hemisphere (empire
of light) and its constellations (a nation of white angels) had for
king an enlightened God, a creator intelligent and good. And as
every rebel faction must have its chief, the heaven of winter, the
subterranean empire of darkness and woe, and its stars, a nation of
black angels, giants and demons, had for their chief a malignant
genius, whose character was applied by different people to the
constellation which to them was the most remarkable. In Egypt it
was at first the Scorpion, first zodiacal sign after Libra, and for
a long time chief of the winter signs ; then it was the Bear, or
the polar Ass, called Typhon, that is to say, deluge,** on account
of the rains which deluge the earth during the dominion of that
star. At a later period,*** in Persia,**** it was the Serpent, who,
under the name of Abrimanes, formed the basis of the system of
Zoroaster; and it is the same, O Christians and Jews! that has
become your serpent of Eve (the celestial virgin,) and that of the
cross; in both cases it is the emblem of Satan, the enemy and great
adversary of the Ancient of Days, sung by Daniel.

* The ancient priests had three kinds of spheres, which it may be
useful to make known to the reader.

"We read in Eusebius," says Porphyry, "that Zoroaster was the first
who, having fixed upon a cavern pleasantly situated in the
mountains adjacent to Persia, formed the idea of consecrating it to
Mithra (the sun) creator and father of all things: that is to say,
having made in this cavern several geometrical divisions,
representing the seasons and the elements, he imitated on a small
scale the order and disposition of the universe by Mithra. After
Zoroaster, it became a custom to consecrate caverns for the
celebration of mysteries: so that in like manner as temples were
dedicated to the Gods, rural altars to heroes and terrestrial
deities, etc., subterranean abodes to infernal deities, so caverns
and grottoes were consecrated to the world, to the universe, and to
the nymphs: and from hence Pythagoras and Plato borrowed the idea
of calling the earth a cavern, a cave, de Antro Nympharum.

Such was the first projection of the sphere in relief; though the
Persians give the honor of the invention to Zoroaster, it is
doubtless due to the Egyptians; for we may suppose from this
projection being the most simple that it was the most ancient; the
caverns of Thebes, full of similar pictures, tend to strengthen
this opinion.

The following was the second projection: "The prophets or
hierophants," says Bishop Synnesius, "who had been initiated in the
mysteries, do not permit the common workmen to form idols or images
of the Gods; but they descend themselves into the sacred caves,
where they have concealed coffers containing certain spheres upon
which they construct those images secretly and without the
knowledge of the people, who despise simple and natural things and
wish for prodigies and fables." (Syn. in Calvit.) That is, the
ancient priests had armillary spheres like ours; and this passage,
which so well agrees with that of Chaeremon, gives us the key to
all their theological astrology.

Lastly, they had flat models of the nature of Plate V. with the
difference that they were of a very complicated nature, having
every fictitious division of decan and subdecan, with the
hieroglyphic signs of their influence. Kircher has given us a copy
of one of them in his Egyptian Oedipus, and Gybelin a figured
fragment in his book of the calendar (under the name of the
Egyptian Zodiac). The ancient Egyptians, says the astrologer
Julius Firmicus, (Astron. lib. ii. and lib. iv., c. 16), divide
each sign of the Zodiac into three sections; and each section was
under the direction of an imaginary being whom they called decan or
chief of ten; so that there were three decans a month, and thirty-
six a year. Now these decans, who were also called Gods (Theoi),
regulated the destinies of mankind--and they were placed
particularly in certain stars. They afterwards imagined in every
ten three other Gods, whom they called arbiters; so that there were
nine for every month, and these were farther divided into an
infinite number of powers. The Persians and Indians made their
spheres on similar plans; and if a picture thereof were to be drawn
from the description given by Scaliger at the end of Manilius, we
should find in it a complete explanation of their hieroglyphics,
for every article forms one.

** If it was for this reason the Persians always wrote the name of
Ahrimanes inverted thus: ['Ahrimanes' upside down and backwards].

*** Typhon, pronounced Touphon by the Greeks, is precisely the
touphan of the Arabs, which signifies deluge; and these deluges in
mythology are nothing more than winter and the rains, or the
overflowing of the Nile: as their pretended fires which are to
destroy the world, are simply the summer season. And it is for
this reason that Aristotle (De Meteor, lib. I. c. xiv), says, that
the winter of the great cyclic year is a deluge; and its summer a
conflagration. "The Egyptians," says Porphyry, "employ every year
a talisman in remembrance of the world: at the summer solstice they
mark their houses, flocks and trees with red, supposing that on
that day the whole world had been set on fire. It was also at the
same period that they celebrated the pyrric or fire dance." And
this illustrates the origin of purification by fire and by water;
for having denominated the tropic of Cancer the gate of heaven, and
the genial heat of celestial fire, and that of Capricorn the gate
of deluge or of water, it was imagined that the spirit or souls who
passed through these gates in their way to and from heaven, were
roasted or bathed: hence the baptism of Mithra; and the passage
through flames, observed throughout the East long before Moses.

**** That is when the ram became the equinoctial sign, or rather when
the alteration of the skies showed that it was no longer the bull.

"In Syria, it was the hog or wild boar, enemy of Adonis; because in
that country the functions of the Northern Bear were performed by
the animal whose inclination for mire and dirt was emblematic of
winter. And this is the reason, followers of Moses and Mahomet!
that you hold him in horror, in imitation of the priests of Memphis
and Balbec, who detested him as the murderer of their God, the sun.
This likewise, O Indians! is the type of your Chib-en; and it has
been likewise the Pluto of your brethren, the Romans and Greeks; in
like manner, your Brama, God the creator, is only the Persian
Ormuzd, and the Egyptian Osiris, whose very name expresses creative
power, producer of forms. And these gods received a worship
analogous to their attributes, real or imaginary; which worship was
divided into two branches, according to their characters. The good
god receives a worship of love and joy, from which are derived all
religious acts of gaiety, such as festivals, dances, banquets,
offerings of flowers, milk, honey, perfumes; in a word, everything
grateful to the senses and to the soul.* The evil god, on the
contrary, received a worship of fear and pain; whence originated
all religious acts of the gloomy sort,** tears, desolations,
mournings, self-denials, bloody offerings, and cruel sacrifices.

* All the ancient festivals respecting the return and exaltation of
the sun were of this description: hence the hilaria of the Roman
calendar at the period of the passage, Pascha, of the vernal
equinox. The dances were imitations of the march of the planets.
Those of the Dervises still represent it to this day.

** "Sacrifices of blood," says Porphyry, "were only offered to
Demons and evil Genii to avert their wrath. Demons are fond of
blood, humidity, stench." Apud. Euseb. Proep. Ev., p. 173.

"The Egyptians," says Plutarch, "only offer bloody victims to
Typhon. They sacrifice to him a red ox, and the animal immolated
is held in execration and loaded with all the sins of the people."
The goat of Moses. See Isis and Osiris.

Strabo says, speaking of Moses, and the Jews, "Circumcision and the
prohibition of certain kinds of meat sprung from superstition."
And I observe, respecting the ceremony of circumcision, that its
object was to take from the symbol of Osiris, (Phallus) the
pretended obstacle to fecundity: an obstacle which bore the seal of
Typhon, "whose nature," says Plutarch, "is made up of all that
hinders, opposes, causes obstruction."

"Hence arose that distinction of terrestrial beings into pure and
impure, sacred and abominable, according as their species were of
the number of the constellations of one of these two gods, and made
part of his domain; and this produced, on the one hand, the
superstitions concerning pollutions and purifications; and, on the
other, the pretended efficacious virtues of amulets and talismans.

"You conceive now," continued the orator, addressing himself to the
Persians, the Indians, the Jews, the Christians, the Mussulmans,
"you conceive the origin of those ideas of battles and rebellions,
which equally abound in all your mythologies. You see what is
meant by white and black angels, your cherubim and seraphim, with
heads of eagles, of lions, or of bulls; your deus, devils, demons,
with horns of goats and tails of serpents; your thrones and
dominions, ranged in seven orders or gradations, like the seven
spheres of the planets; all beings acting the same parts, and
endowed with the same attributes in your Vedas, Bibles, and Zend-
avestas, whether they have for chiefs Ormuzd or Brama, Typhon or
Chiven, Michael or Satan;--whether they appear under the form of
giants with a hundred arms and feet of serpents, or that of gods
metamorphosed into lions, storks, bulls or cats, as they are in the
sacred fables of the Greeks and Egyptians. You perceive the
successive filiation of these ideas, and how, in proportion to
their remoteness from their source, and as the minds of men became
refined, their gross forms have been polished, and rendered less

"But in the same manner as you have seen the system of two opposite
principles or gods arise from that of symbols, interwoven into its
texture, your attention shall now be called to a new system which
has grown out of this, and to which this has served in its turn as
the basis and support.

V. Moral and Mystical Worship, or System of a Future State.

"Indeed, when the vulgar heard speak of a new heaven and another
world, they soon gave a body to these fictions; they erected
therein a real theatre of action, and their notions of astronomy
and geography served to strengthen, if not to originate, this

"On the one hand, the Phoenician navigators who passed the pillars
of Hercules, to fetch the tin of Thule and the amber of the Baltic,
related that at the extremity of the world, the end of the ocean
(the Mediterranean), where the sun sets for the countries of Asia,
were the Fortunate Islands, the abode of eternal spring; and beyond
were the hyperborean regions, placed under the earth (relatively to
the tropics) where reigned an eternal night.* From these stories,
misunderstood, and no doubt confusedly related, the imagination of
the people composed the Elysian fields,** regions of delight,
placed in a world below, having their heaven, their sun, and their
stars; and Tartarus, a place of darkness, humidity, mire, and
frost. Now, as man, inquisitive of that which he knows not, and
desirous of protracting his existence, had already interrogated
himself concerning what was to become of him after his death, as he
had early reasoned on the principle of life which animates his
body, and which leaves it without deforming it, and as he had
imagined airy substances, phantoms, and shades, he fondly believed
that he should continue, in the subterranean world, that life which
it was too painful for him to lose; and these lower regions seemed
commodious for the reception of the beloved objects which he could
not willingly resign.

* Nights of six months duration.

** Aliz, in the Phoenician or Hebrew language signifies dancing and

"On the other hand, the astrological and geological priests told
such stories and made such descriptions of their heavens, as
accorded perfectly well with these fictions. Having, in their
metaphorical language, called the equinoxes and solstices the gates
of heaven, the entrance of the seasons, they explained these
terrestrial phenomena by saying, that through the gate of horn
(first the bull, afterwards the ram) and through the gate of
Cancer, descended the vivifying fires which give life to vegetation
in the spring, and the aqueous spirits which bring, at the
solstice, the inundation of the Nile; that through the gate of
ivory (Libra, formerly Sagittarius, or the bowman) and that of
Capricorn, or the urn, the emanations or influences of the heavens
returned to their source, and reascended to their origin; and the
Milky Way, which passed through the gates of the solstices, seemed
to be placed there to serve them as a road or vehicle.* Besides,
in their atlas, the celestial scene presented a river (the Nile,
designated by the windings of the hydra), a boat, (the ship Argo)
and the dog Sirius, both relative to this river, whose inundation
they foretold. These circumstances, added to the preceding, and
still further explaining them, increased their probability, and to
arrive at Tartarus or Elysium, souls were obliged to cross the
rivers Styx and Acheron in the boat of the ferryman Charon, and to
pass through the gates of horn or ivory, guarded by the dog
Cerberus. Finally, these inventions were applied to a civil use,
and thence received a further consistency.

*See Macrob. Som. Scrip. c. 12.

"Having remarked that in their burning climate the putrefaction of
dead bodies was a cause of pestilential diseases, the Egyptians, in
many of their towns, had adopted the practice of burying their dead
beyond the limits of the inhabited country, in the desert of the
West. To go there, it was necessary to pass the channels of the
river, and consequently to be received into a boat, and pay
something to the ferryman, without which the body, deprived of
sepulture, must have been the prey of wild beasts. This custom
suggested to the civil and religious legislators the means of a
powerful influence on manners; and, addressing uncultivated and
ferocious men with the motives of filial piety and a reverence for
the dead, they established, as a necessary condition, their
undergoing a previous trial, which should decide whether the
deceased merited to be admitted to the rank of the family in the
black city. Such an idea accorded too well with all the others,
not to be incorporated with them: the people soon adopted it; and
hell had its Minos and its Rhadamanthus, with the wand, the bench,
the ushers, and the urn, as in the earthly and civil state. It was
then that God became a moral and political being, a lawgiver to
men, and so much the more to be dreaded, as this supreme
legislator, this final judge, was inaccessible and invisible. Then
it was that this fabulous and mythological world, composed of such
odd materials and disjointed parts, became a place of punishments
and of rewards, where divine justice was supposed to correct what
was vicious and erroneous in the judgment of men. This spiritual
and mystical system acquired the more credit, as it took possession
of man by all his natural inclinations. The oppressed found in it
the hope of indemnity, and the consolation of future vengeance; the
oppressor, expecting by rich offerings to purchase his impunity,
formed out of the errors of the vulgar an additional weapon of
oppression; the chiefs of nations, the kings and priests, found in
this a new instrument of domination by the privilege which they
reserved to themselves of distributing the favors and punishments
of the great judge, according to the merit or demerit of actions,
which they took care to characterize as best suited their system.

"This, then, is the manner in which an invisible and imaginary
world has been introduced into the real and visible one; this is
the origin of those regions of pleasure and pain, of which you
Persians have made your regenerated earth, your city of
resurrection, placed under the equator, with this singular
attribute, that in it the blessed cast no shade.* Of these
materials, Jews and Christians, disciples of the Persians, have you
formed your New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse, your paradise, your
heaven, copied in all its parts from the astrological heaven of
Hermes: and your hell, ye Mussulmans, your bottomless pit,
surmounted by a bridge, your balance for weighing souls and good
works, your last judgment by the angels Monkir and Nekir, are
likewise modeled from the mysterious ceremonies of the cave of
Mithras** and your heaven differs not in the least from that of
Osiris, of Ormuzd, and of Brama.

* There is on this subject a passage in Plutarch, so interesting
and explanatory of the whole of this system, that we shall cite it
entire. Having observed that the theory of good and evil had at
all times occupied the attention of philosophers and theologians,
he adds: "Many suppose there to be two gods of opposite
inclinations, one delighting in good, the other in evil; the first
of these is called particularly by the name of God, the second by
that of Genius or Demon. Zoroaster has denominated them Oromaze
and Ahrimanes, and has said that of whatever falls under the
cognizance of our senses, light is the best representation of the
one, and darkness and ignorance of the other. He adds, that Mithra
is an intermediate being, and it is for this reason the Persians
call Mithra the mediator or intermediator. Each of these Gods has
distinct plants and animals consecrated to him: for example, dogs,
birds and hedge-hogs belong to the good Genius, and all aquatic
animals to the evil one.

"The Persians also say, that Oromaze was born or formed out of the
purest light; Ahrimanes, on the contrary, out of the thickest
darkness: that Oromaze made six gods as good as himself, and
Ahrimanes opposed to them six wicked ones: that Oromaze afterwards
multiplied himself threefold (Hermes trismegistus) and removed to a
distance as remote from the sun as the sun is remote from the earth
that he there formed stars, and, among others, Sirius, which he
placed in the heavens as a guard and sentinel. He made also
twenty-four other Gods, which he inclosed in an egg; but Ahrimanes
created an equal number on his part, who broke the egg, and from
that moment good and evil were mixed (in the universe). But
Ahrimanes is one day to be conquered, and the earth to be made
equal and smooth, that all men may live happy.

"Theopompus adds, from the books of the Magi, that one of these
Gods reigns in turn every three thousand years during which the
other is kept in subjection; that they afterwards contend with
equal weapons during a similar portion of time, but that in the end
the evil Genius will fall (never to rise again). Then men will
become happy, and their bodies cast no shade. The God who mediates
all these things reclines at present in repose, waiting till he
shall be pleased to execute them." See Isis and Osiris.

There is an apparent allegory through the whole of this passage.
The egg is the fixed sphere, the world: the six Gods of Oromaze are
the six signs of summer, those of Ahrimanes the six signs of
winter. The forty-eight other Gods are the forty-eight
constellations of the ancient sphere, divided equally between
Ahrimanes and Oronmze. The office of Sirius, as guard and
sentinel, tells us that the origin of these ideas was Egyptian:
finally, the expression that the earth is to become equal and
smooth, and that the bodies of happy beings are to cast no shade,
proves that the equator was considered as their true paradise.

** In the caves which priests every where constructed, they
celebrated mysteries which consisted (says Origen against Celsus)
in imitating the motion of the stars, the planets and the heavens.
The initiated took the name of constellations, and assumed the
figures of animals. One was a lion, another a raven, and a third a
ram. Hence the use of masks in the first representation of the
drama. See Ant. Devoile, vol. iii., p. 244. "In the mysteries of
Ceres the chief in the procession called himself the creator; the
bearer of the torch was denominated the sun; the person nearest to
the altar, the moon; the herald or deacon, Mercury. In Egypt there
was a festival in which the men and women represented the year, the
age, the seasons, the different parts of the day, and they walked
in precession after Bacchus. Athen. lib. v., ch. 7. In the cave
of Mithra was a ladder with seven steps, representing the seven
spheres of the planets, by means of which souls ascended and
descended. This is precisely the ladder in Jacob's vision, which
shows that at that epoch a the whole system was formed. There is
in the French king's library a superb volume of pictures of the
Indian Gods, in which the ladder is represented with the souls of
men mounting it."

VI. Sixth System. The Animated World, or Worship of the Universe
under diverse Emblems.

"While the nations were wandering in the dark labyrinth of
mythology and fables, the physical priests, pursuing their studies
and enquiries into the order and disposition of the universe, came
to new conclusions, and formed new systems concerning powers and
first causes.

"Long confined to simple appearances, they saw nothing in the
movement of the stars but an unknown play of luminous bodies
rolling round the earth, which they believed the central point of
all the spheres; but as soon as they discovered the rotundity of
our planet, the consequences of this first fact led them to new
considerations; and from induction to induction they rose to the
highest conceptions in astronomy and physics.

"Indeed, after having conceived this luminous idea, that the
terrestrial globe is a little circle inscribed in the greater
circle of the heavens, the theory of concentric circles came
naturally into their hypothesis, to determine the unknown circle of
the terrestrial globe by certain known portions of the celestial
circle; and the measurement of one or more degrees of the meridian
gave with precision the whole circumference. Then, taking for a
compass the known diameter of the earth, some fortunate genius
applied it with a bold hand to the boundless orbits of the heavens;
and man, the inhabitant of a grain of sand, embracing the infinite
distances of the stars, launches into the immensity of space and
the eternity of time: there he is presented with a new order of the
universe of which the atom-globe which he inhabited appeared no
longer to be the centre; this important post was reserved to the
enormous mass of the sun; and that body became the flaming pivot of
eight surrounding spheres, whose movements were henceforth
subjected to precise calculations.

"It was indeed a great effort for the human mind to have undertaken
to determine the disposition and order of the great engines of
nature; but not content with this first effort, it still endeavored
to develop the mechanism, and discover the origin and the
instinctive principle. Hence, engaged in the abstract and
metaphysical nature of motion and its first cause, of the inherent
or incidental properties of matter, its successive forms and its
extension, that is to say, of time and space unbounded, the
physical theologians lost themselves in a chaos of subtile
reasoning and scholastic controversy.*

* Consult the Ancient Astronomy of M. Bailly, and you will find our
assertions respecting the knowledge of the priests amply proved.

"In the first place, the action of the sun on terrestrial bodies,
teaching them to regard his substance as a pure and elementary
fire, they made it the focus and reservoir of an ocean of igneous
and luminous fluid, which, under the name of ether, filled the
universe and nourished all beings. Afterwards, having discovered,
by a physical and attentive analysis, this same fire, or another
perfectly resembling it, in the composition of all bodies, and
having perceived it to be the essential agent of that spontaneous
movement which is called life in animals and vegetation in plants,
they conceived the mechanism and harmony of the universe, as of a
homogeneous whole, of one identical body, whose parts, though
distant, had nevertheless an intimate relation;* and the world was
a living being, animated by the organic circulation of an igneous
and even electrical fluid,** which, by a term of comparison
borrowed first from men and animals, had the sun for a heart and a

* These are the very words of Jamblicus. De Myst. Egypt.

** The more I consider what the ancients understood by ether and
spirit, and what the Indians call akache, the stronger do I find
the analogy between it and the electrial fluid. A luminous fluid,
principle of warmth and motion, pervading the universe, forming the
matter of the stars, having small round particles, which insinuate
themselves into bodies, and fill them by dilating itself, be their
extent what it will. What can more strongly resemble electricity?

*** Natural philosophers, says Macrobius, call the sun the heart of
the world. Som. Scrip. c. 20. The Egyptians, says Plutarch, call
the East the face, the North the right side, and the South the left
side of the world, because there the heart is placed. They
continually compare the universe to a man; and hence the celebrated
microcosm of the Alchymists. We observe, by the bye, that the
Alchymists, Cabalists, Free-masons, Magnetisers, Martinists, and
every other such sort of visionaries, are but the mistaken
disciples of this ancient school: we say mistaken, because, in
spite of their pretensions, the thread of the occult science is

"From this time the physical theologians seem to have divided into
several classes; one class, grounding itself on these principles
resulting from observation; that nothing can be annihilated in the
world; that the elements are indestructible; that they change their
combinations but not their nature; that the life and death of
beings are but the different modifications of the same atoms; that
matter itself possesses properties which give rise to all its modes
of existence; that the world is eternal,* or unlimited in space and
duration; said that the whole universe was God; and, according to
them, God was a being, effect and cause, agent and patient, moving
principle and thing moved, having for laws the invariable
properties that constitute fatality; and this class conveyed their
idea by the emblem of Pan (the great whole); or of Jupiter, with a
forehead of stars, body of planets, and feet of animals; or of the
Orphic Egg,** whose yolk, suspended in the center of a liquid,
surrounded by a vault, represented the globe of the sun, swimming
in ether in the midst of the vault of heaven;*** sometimes by a
great round serpent, representing the heavens where they placed the
moving principle, and for that reason of an azure color, studded
with spots of gold, (the stars) devouring his tail--that is,
folding and unfolding himself eternally, like the revolutions of
the spheres; sometimes by that of a man, having his feet joined
together and tied, to signify immutable existence, wrapped in a
cloak of all colors, like the face of nature, and bearing on his
head a sphere of gold,**** emblem of the sphere of the stars; or by
that of another man, sometimes seated on the flower of the lotos
borne on the abyss of waters, sometimes lying on a pile of twelve
cushions, denoting the twelve celestial signs. And here, Indians,
Japanese, Siamese, Tibetans, and Chinese, is the theology, which,
founded by the Egyptians and transmitted to you, is preserved in
the pictures which you compose of Brama, of Beddou, of Somona-Kodom
of Omito. This, ye Jews and Christians, is likewise the opinion of
which you have preserved a part in your God moving on the face of
the waters, by an allusion to the wind*5 which, at the beginning of
the world, that is, the departure of the sun from the sign of
Cancer, announced the inundation of the Nile, and seemed to prepare
the creation.

* See the Pythagorean, Ocellus Lacunus.

** Vide Oedip. Aegypt. Tome II., page 205.

*** This comparison of the sun with the yolk of an egg refers: 1.
To its round and yellow figure; 2. To its central situation; 3. To
the germ or principle of life contained in the yolk. May not the
oval form of the egg allude to the elipsis of the orbs? I am
inclined to this opinion. The word Orphic offers a farther
observation. Macrobius says (Som. Scrip. c. 14. and c. 20), that
the sun is the brain of the universe, and that it is from analogy
that the skull of a human being is round, like the planet, the seat
of intelligence. Now the word Oerph signifies in Hebrew the brain
and its seat (cervix): Orpheus, then, is the same as Bedou or
Baits; and the Bonzes are those very Orphics which Plutarch
represents as quacks, who ate no meat, vended talismans and little
stones, and deceived individuals, and even governments themselves.
See a learned memoir of Freret sur les Orphiques, Acad. des Inscrp.
vol. 25, in quarto.

**** See Porphyry in Eusebus. Proep. Evang., lib. 3, p. 115.

*5 The Northern or Etesian wind, which commences regularly at the
solstice, with the inundation.

VII. Seventh System. Worship of the SOUL of the WORLD, that is to
say, the Element of Fire, vital Principle of the Universe.

"But others, disgusted at the idea of a being at once effect and
cause, agent and patient, and uniting contrary natures in the same
nature, distinguished the moving principle from the thing moved;
and premising that matter in itself was inert they pretended that
its properties were communicated to it by a distinct agent, of
which itself was only the cover or the case. This agent was called
by some the igneous principle, known to be the author of all
motion; by others it was supposed to be the fluid called ether,
which was thought more active and subtile; and, as in animals the
vital and moving principle was called a soul, a spirit, and as they
reasoned constantly by comparisons, especially those drawn from
human beings, they gave to the moving principle of the universe the
name of soul, intelligence, spirit; and God was the vital spirit,
which extended through all beings and animated the vast body of the
world. And this class conveyed their idea sometimes by Youpiter,*
essence of motion and animation, principle of existence, or rather
existence itself; sometimes by Vulcan or Phtha, elementary
principle of fire; or by the altar of Vesta, placed in the center
of her temple like the sun in the heavens; sometimes by Kneph, a
human figure, dressed in dark blue, having in one hand a sceptre
and a girdle (the zodiac), with a cap of feathers to express the
fugacity of thought, and producing from his mouth the great egg.

* This is the true pronunciation of the Jupiter of the Latins. . . .
Existence itself. This is the signification of the word You.

"Now, as a consequence of this system, every being containing in
itself a portion of the igneous and etherial fluid, common and
universal mover, and this fluid soul of the world being God, it
followed that the souls of all beings were portions of God himself
partaking of all his attributes, that is, being a substance
indivisible, simple, and immortal; and hence the whole system of
the immortality of the soul, which at first was eternity.*

* In the system of the first spiritualists, the soul was not
created with, or at the same time as the body, in order to be
inserted in it: its existence was supposed to be anterior and from
all eternity. Such, in a few words, is the doctrine of Macrobius
on this head. Som. Seip. passim.

"There exists a luminous, igneous, subtile fluid, which under the
name of ether and spiritus, fills the universe. It is the
essential principle and agent of motion and life, it is the Deity.
When an earthly body is to be animated, a small round particle of
this fluid gravitates through the milky way towards the lunar
sphere; where, when it arrives, it unites with a grosser air, and
becomes fit to associate with matter: it then enters and entirely
fills the body, animates it, suffers, grows, increases, and
diminishes with it; lastly, when the body dies, and its gross
elements dissolve, this incorruptible particle takes its leave of
it, and returns to the grand ocean of ether, if not retained by its
union with the lunar air: it is this air or gas, which, retaining
the shape of the body, becomes a phantom or ghost, the perfect
representation of the deceased. The Greeks called this phantom the
image or idol of the soul; the Pythagoreans, its chariot, its
frame; and the Rabbinical school, its vessel, or boat. When a man
had conducted himself well in this world, his whole soul, that is
its chariot and ether, ascended to the moon, where a separation
took place: the chariot lived in the lunar Elysium, and the ether
returned to the fixed sphere, that is, to God: for the fixed
heaven, says Macrobius, was by many called by the name of God (c.
14). If a man had not lived virtuously, the soul remained on earth
to undergo purification, and was to wander to and fro, like the
ghosts of Homer, to whom this doctrine must have been known, since
he wrote after the time of Pherecydes and Pythagoras, who were its
promulgators in Greece. Herodotus upon this occasion says, that
the whole romance of the soul and its transmigrations was invented
by the Egyptians, and propagated in Greece by men, who pretended to
be its authors. I know their names, adds he, but shall not mention
them (lib. 2). Cicero, however, has positively informed us, that
it was Pherecydes, master of Pythagoras. Tuscul. lib. 1, sect. 16.
Now admitting that this system was at that period a novelty, it
accounts for Solomon's treating it as a fable, who lived 130 years
before Pherecydes. "Who knoweth," said he, "the spirit of a man
that it goeth upwards? I said in my heart concerning the estate of
the sons of men, that God might manifest them and that they might
see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the
sons of men, befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as
the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea they have all one breath, so
that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity."
Eccles. c. iii: v. 18.

And such had been the opinion of Moses, as a translator of
Herodotus (M. Archer of the Academy of Inscriptions) justly
observes in note 389 of the second book; where he says also that
the immortality of the soul was not introduced among the Hebrews
till their intercourse with the Assyrians. In other respects, the
whole Pythagorean system, properly analysed, appears to be merely a
system of physics badly understood.

"Hence, also its transmigrations, known by the name of
metempsychosis, that is, the passage of the vital principle from
one body to another; an idea which arose from the real
transmigration of the material elements. And behold, ye Indians,
ye Boudhists, ye Christians, ye Mussulmans! whence are derived all
your opinions on the spirituality of the soul; behold what was the
source of the dreams of Pythagoras and Plato, your masters, who
were themselves but the echoes of another, the last sect of
visionary philosophers, which we will proceed to examine.

VIII. Eighth system. The WORLD-MACHINE: Worship of the Demi-
Ourgos, or Grand Artificer.

"Hitherto the theologians, employing themselves in examining the
fine and subtile substances of ether or the generating fire, had
not, however, ceased to treat of beings palpable and perceptible to
the senses; and theology continued to be the theory of physical
powers, placed sometimes exclusively in the stars, and sometimes
disseminated through the universe; but at this period, certain
superficial minds, losing the chain of ideas which had directed
them in their profound studies, or ignorant of the facts on which
they were founded, distorted all the conclusions that flowed from
them by the introduction of a strange and novel chimera. They
pretended that this universe, these heavens, these stars, this sun,
differed in no respect from an ordinary machine; and applying to
this first hypothesis a comparison drawn from the works of art,
they raised an edifice of the most whimsical sophisms. A machine,
said they, does not make itself; it has had an anterior workman;
its very existence proves it. The world is a machine; therefore it
had an artificer.*

* All the arguments of the spiritualists are founded on this. See
Macrobius, at the end of the second book, and Plato, with the
comments of Marcilius Ficinus.

"Here, then, is the Demi-Ourgos or grand artificer, constituted God
autocratical and supreme. In vain the ancient philosophy objected
to this by saying that the artificer himself must have had parents
and progenitors; and that they only added another step to the
ladder by taking eternity from the world, and giving it to its
supposed author. The innovators, not content with this first
paradox, passed on to a second; and, applying to their artificer
the theory of the human understanding, they pretended that the
Demi-Ourgos had framed his machine on a plan already existing in
his understanding. Now, as their masters, the naturalists, had
placed in the regions of the fixed stars the great primum mobile,
under the name of intelligence and reason, so their mimics, the
spiritualists, seizing this idea, applied it to their Demi-Ourgos,
and making it a substance distinct and self-existent, they called
it mens or logos (reason or word). And, as they likewise admitted
the existence of the soul of the world, or solar principle, they
found themselves obliged to compose three grades of divine beings,
which were: first, the Demi-Ourgos, or working god; secondly, the
logos, word or reason; thirdly, the spirit or soul (of the world).*
And here, Christians! is the romance on which you have founded your
trinity; here is the system which, born a heretic in the temples of
Egypt, transported a pagan into the schools of Greece and Italy, is
now found to be good, catholic, and orthodox, by the conversion of
its partisans, the disciples of Pythagoras and Plato, to

* These are the real types of the Christian Trinity.

"It is thus that God, after having been, First, The visible and
various action of the meteors and the elements;

"Secondly, The combined powers of the stars, considered in their
relations to terrestrial beings;

Thirdly, These terrestrial beings themselves, by confounding the
symbols with their archetypes;

Fourthly, The double power of nature in its two principal
operations of producing and destroying;

"Fifthly, The animated world, with distinction of agent and
patient, of effect and cause;

"Sixthly, The solar principle, or the element of fire considered as
the only mover;

"Has thus become, finally, in the last resort, a chimerical and
abstract being, a scholastic subtilty, of substance without form, a
body without a figure, a very delirium of the mind, beyond the
power of reason to comprehend. But vainly does it seek in this
last transformation to elude the senses; the seal of its origin is
imprinted upon it too deep to be effaced; and its attributes, all
borrowed from the physical attributes of the universe, such as
immensity, eternity, indivisibility, incomprehensibility; or on the
moral affections of man, such as goodness, justice, majesty; its
names* even, all derived from the physical beings which were its
types, and especially from the sun, from the planets, and from the
world, constantly bring to mind, in spite of its corrupters,
indelible marks of its real nature.

* In our last analysis we found all the names of the Deity to be
derived from some material object in which it was supposed to
reside. We have given a considerable number of instances; let us
add one more relative to our word God. This is known to be the
Deus of the Latins, and the Theos of the Greeks. Now by the
confession of Plato (in Cratylo), of Macrobius (Saturn, lib. 1, c.
24,) and of Plutarch (Isis and Osiris) its root is thein, which
signifies to wander, like planein, that is to say, it is synonymous
with planets; because, add our authors, both the ancient Greeks and
Barbarians particularly worshipped the planets. I know that such
enquiries into etymologies have been much decried: but if, as is
the case, words are the representative signs of ideas, the
genealogy of the one becomes that of the other, and a good
etymological dictionary would be the most perfect history of the
human understanding. It would only be necessary in this enquiry to
observe certain precautions, which have hitherto been neglected,
and particularly to make an exact comparison of the value of the
letters of the different alphabets. But, to continue our subject,
we shall add, that in the Phoenician language, the word thah (with
ain) signifies also to wander, and appears to be the derivation of
thein. If we suppose Deus to be derived from the Greek Zeus, a
proper name of You-piter, having zaw, I live, for its root, its
sense will be precisely that of you, and will mean soul of the
world, igneous principle. (See note p. 143). Div-us, which only
signifies Genius, God of the second order, appears to me to come
from the oriental word div substituted for dib, wolf and chacal,
one of the emblems of the sun. At Thebes, says Macrobius, the sun
was painted under the form of a wolf or chacal, for there are no
wolves in Egypt. The reason of this emblem, doubtless, is that the
chacal, like the cock announces by its cries the sun's rising; and
this reason is confirmed by the analogy of the words lykos, wolf,
and lyke, light of the morning, whence comes lux.

Dius, which is to be understood also of the sun, must be derived
from dih, a hawk. "The Egyptians," says Porphyry (Euseb. Proecep.
Evang. p. 92,) "represent the sun under the emblem of a hawk,
because this bird soars to the highest regions of air where light
abounds." And in reality we continually see at Cairo large flights
of these birds, hovering in the air, from whence they descend not
but to stun us with their shrieks, which are like the monosyllable
dih: and here, as in the preceding example, we find an analogy
between the word dies, day, light, and dius, god, sun.

"Such is the chain of ideas which the human mind had already run
through at an epoch previous to the records of history; and since
their continuity proves that they were the produce of the same
series of studies and labors, we have every reason to place their
origin in Egypt, the cradle of their first elements. This progress
there may have been rapid; because the physical priests had no
other food, in the retirement of the temples, but the enigma of the
universe, always present to their minds; and because in the
political districts into which that country was for a long time
divided, every state had its college of priests, who, being by
turns auxiliaries or rivals, hastened by their disputes the
progress of science and discovery.*

* One of the proofs that all these systems were invented in Egypt,
is that this is the only country where we see a complete body of
doctrine formed from the remotest antiquity.

Clemens Alexandrinus has transmitted to us (Stromat. lib. 6,) a
curious detail of the forty-two volumes which were borne in the
procession of Isis. "The priest," says he, "or chanter, carries
one of the symbolic instruments of music, and two of the books of
Mercury; one containing hymns of the gods, the other the list of
kings. Next to him the horoscope (the regulator of time,) carries
a palm and a dial, symbols of astrology; he must know by heart the
four books of Mercury which treat of astrology: the first on the
order of the planets, the second on the risings of the sun and
moon, and the two last on the rising and aspect of the stars. Then
comes the sacred author, with feathers on his head (like Kneph) and
a book in his hand, together with ink, and a reed to write with,
(as is still the practice among the Arabs). He must be versed in
hieroglyphics, must understand the description of the universe, the
course of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, be acquainted with the
division of Egypt into thirty-six nomes, with the course of the
Nile, with instruments, measures, sacred ornaments, and sacred
places. Next comes the stole bearer, who carries the cubit of
justice, or measure of the Nile, and a cup for the libations; he
bears also in the procession ten volumes on the subject of
sacrifices, hymns, prayers, offerings, ceremonies, festivals.
Lastly arrives the prophet, bearing in his bosom a pitcher, so as
to be exposed to view; he is followed by persons carrying bread (as
at the marriage of Cana.) This prophet, as president of the
mysteries, learns ten other sacred volumes, which treat of the
laws, the gods, and the discipline of the priests. Now there are
in all forty-two volumes, thirty-six of which are studied and got
by heart by these personages, and the remaining six are set apart
to be consulted by the pastophores; they treat of medicine, the
construction of the human body (anatomy), diseases, remedies,
instruments, etc., etc."

We leave the reader to deduce all the consequences of an
Encyclopedia. It is ascribed to Mercury; but Jamblicus tells us
that each book, composed by priests, was dedicated to that god,
who, on account of his title of genius or decan opening the zodiac,
presided over every enterprise. He is the Janus of the Romans, and
the Guianesa of the Indians, and it is remarkable that Yanus and
Guianes are homonymous. In short it appears that these books are
the source of all that has been transmitted to us by the Greeks and
Latins in every science, even in alchymy, necromancy, etc. What is
most to be regretted in their loss is that part which related to
the principles of medicine and diet, in which the Egyptians appear
to have made a considerable progress, and to have delivered many
useful observations.

"There happened early on the borders of the Nile, what has since
been repeated in every country; as soon as a new system was formed
its novelty excited quarrels and schisms; then, gaining credit by
persecution itself, sometimes it effaced antecedent ideas,
sometimes it modified and incorporated them; then, by the
intervention of political revolutions, the aggregation of states
and the mixture of nations confused all opinions; and the filiation
of ideas being lost, theology fell into a chaos, and became a mere
logogriph of old traditions no longer understood. Religion, having
strayed from its object was now nothing more than a political
engine to conduct the credulous vulgar; and it was used for this
purpose, sometimes by men credulous themselves and dupes of their
own visions, and sometimes by bold and energetic spirits in pursuit
of great objects of ambition.

IX. Religion of Moses, or Worship of the Soul of the World (You-

"Such was the legislator of the Hebrews; who, wishing to separate
his nation from all others, and to form a distinct and solitary
empire, conceived the design of establishing its basis on religious
prejudices, and of raising around it a sacred rampart of opinions
and of rites. But in vain did he prescribe the worship of the
symbols which prevailed in lower Egypt and in Phoenicia;* for his
god was nevertheless an Egyptian god, invented by those priests of
whom Moses had been the disciple; and Yahouh,** betrayed by its
very name, essence (of beings), and by its symbol, the burning
bush, is only the soul of the world, the moving principle which the
Greeks soon after adopted under the same denomination in their you-
piter, regenerating being, and under that of Ei, existence,***
which the Thebans consecrated by the name of Kneph, which Sais
worshipped under the emblem of Isis veiled, with this inscription:
I am al that has been, all that is, and all that is to come, and no
mortal has raised my veil; which Pythagoras honored under the name
of Vesta, and which the stoic philosophy defined precisely by
calling it the principle of fire. In vain did Moses wish to blot
from his religion every thing which had relation to the stars; many
traits call them to mind in spite of all he has done. The seven
planetary luminaries of the great candlestick; the twelve stones,
or signs in the Urim of the high priests; the feast of the two
equinoxes, (entrances and gates of the two hemispheres); the
ceremony of the lamb, (the celestial ram then in his fifteenth
degree); lastly, the name even of Osiris preserved in his song,****
and the ark, or coffer, an imitation of the tomb in which that God
was laid, all remain as so many witnesses of the filiation of his
ideas, and of their extraction from the common source.

* "At a certain period," says Plutarch (de Iside) "all the
Egyptians have their animal gods painted. The Thebans are the only
people who do not employ painters, because they worship a god whose
form comes not under the senses, and cannot be represented." And
this is the god whom Moses, educated at Heliopolis, adopted; but
the idea was not of his invention.

** Such is the true pronunciation of the Jehovah of the moderns,
who violate, in this respect, every rule of criticism; since it is
evident that the ancients, particularly the eastern Syrians and
Phoenicians, were acquainted neither with the J nor the P which are
of Tartar origin. The subsisting usage of the Arabs, which we have
re-established here, is confirmed by Diodorus, who calls the god of
Moses Iaw, (lib. 1), and Iaw and Yahouh are manifestly the same
word: the identity continues in that of You-piter; but in order to
render it more complete, we shall demonstrate the signification to
be the same.

In Hebrew, that is to say, in one of the dialects of the common
language of lower Asia, Yahouh is the participle of the verb hih,
to exist, to be, and signifies existing: in other words, the
principle of life, the mover or even motion (the universal soul of
beings). Now what is Jupiter? Let us hear the Greeks and Latins
explain their theology. "The Egyptians," says Diodorus, after
Manatho, priest of Memphis, "in giving names to the five elements,
called spirit, or ether, You-piter, on account of the true meaning
of that word: for spirit is the source of life, author of the vital
principle in animals; and for this reason they considered him as
the father, the generator of beings." For the same reason Homer
says, father, and king of men and gods. (Diod. lib. 1, sect 1).

"Theologians," says Macrobius, "consider You-piter as the soul of
the world." Hence the words of Virgil: " Muses let us begin with
You-piter; the world is full of You-piter." (Somn. Scrip., ch.
17). And in the Saturnalia, he says, "Jupiter is the sun himself."
It was this also which made Virgil say, "The spirit nourishes the
life (of beings), and the soul diffused through the vast members
(of the universe), agitates the whole mass, and forms but one
immense body."

"Ioupiter," says the ancient verses of the Orphic sect, which
originated in Egypt; verses collected by Onomacritus in the days of
Pisistratus, "Ioupiter, represented with the thunder in his hand,
is the beginning, origin, end, and middle of all things: a single
and universal power, he governs every thing; heaven, earth, fire,
water, the elements, day, and night. These are what constitute his
immense body: his eyes are the sun and moon: he is space and
eternity: in fine," adds Porphyry. "Jupiter is the world, the
universe, that which constitutes the essence and life of all
beings. Now," continues the same author, "as philosophers differed
in opinion respecting the nature and constituent parts of this god,
and as they could invent no figure that should represent all his
attributes, they painted him in the form of a man. He is in a
sitting posture, in allusion to his immutable essence; the upper
part of his body is uncovered, because it is in the upper regions
of the universe (the stars) that he most conspicuously displays
himself. He is covered from the waist downwards, because
respecting terrestrial things he is more secret and concealed. He
holds a scepter in his left hand, because on the left side is the
heart, and the heart is the seat of the understanding, which, (in
human beings) regulates every action." Euseb. Proeper. Evang., p

The following passage of the geographer and philosopher, Strabo,
removes every doubt as to the identity of the ideas of Moses and
those of the heathen theologians.

"Moses, who was one of the Egyptian priests, taught his followers
that it was an egregious error to represent the Deity under the
form of animals, as the Egyptians did, or in the shape of man, as
was the practice of the Greeks and Africans. That alone is the
Deity, said he, which constitutes heaven, earth, and every living
thing; that which we call the world, the sum of all things, nature;
and no reasonable person will think of representing such a being by
the image of any one of the objects around us. It is for this
reason, that, rejecting every species of images or idols, Moses
wished the Deity to be worshipped without emblems, and according to
his proper nature; and he accordingly ordered a temple worthy of
him to be erected, etc. Geograph. lib. 16, p. 1104, edition of

The theology of Moses has, then, differed in no respect from that
of his followers, that is to say, from that of the Stoics and
Epicureans, who consider the Deity as the soul of the world. This
philosophy appears to have taken birth, or to have been
disseminated when Abraham came into Egypt (200 years before Moses),
since he quitted his system of idols for that of the god Yahouh; so
that we may place its promulgation about the seventeenth or
eighteenth century before Christ; which corresponds with what we
have said before.

As to the history of Moses, Diodorus properly represents it when he
says, lib. 34 and 40, "That the Jews were driven out of Egypt at a
time of dearth, when the country was full of foreigners, and that
Moses, a man of extraordinary prudence seized this opportunity of
establishing his religion in the mountains of Judea." It will seem
paradoxical to assert, that the 600,000 armed men whom he conducted
thither ought to be reduced to 6,000; but I can confirm the
assertion by so many proofs drawn from the books themselves, that
it will be necessary to correct an error which appears to have
arisen from the mistake of the transcribers.

*** This was the monosyllable written on the gates of the temple of
Delphos. Plutarch has made it the subject of a dissertation.

**** These are the literal expressions of the book of Deuteronomy,
chap. XXXII. "The works of Tsour are perfect." Now Tsour has been
translated by the word creator; its proper signification is to give
forms, and this is one of the definitions of Osiris in Plutarch.

X. Religion of Zoroaster.

"Such also was Zoroaster; who, five centuries after Moses, and in
the time of David, revived and moralized among the Medes and
Bactrians, the whole Egyptian system of Osiris and Typhon, under
the names Ormuzd and Ahrimanes; who called the reign of summer,
virtue and good; the reign of winter, sin and evil; the renewal of
nature in spring, creation of the world; the conjunction of the
spheres at secular periods, resurrection; and the Tartarus and
Elysium of the astrologers and geographers were named future life,
hell and paradise. In a word, he did nothing but consecrate the
existing dreams of the mystical system.

XI. Budsoism, or Religion of the Samaneans.

"Such again are the propagators of the dismal doctrine of the
Samaneans; who, on the basis of the Metempsychosis, have erected
the misanthropic system of self-denial, and of privations; who,
laying it down as a principle that the body is only a prison where
the soul lives in an impure confinement, that life is only a dream,
an illusion, and the world only a passage to another country, to a
life without end, placed virtue and perfection in absolute
immobility, in the destruction of all sentiment, in the abnegation
of physical organs, in the annihilation of all our being; whence
resulted fasts, penances, macerations, solitude, contemplations,
and all the practices of the deplorable delirium of the Anchorites.

XII. Brahmism, or Indian System.

"And such, too, were the founders of the Indian System; who,
refining after Zoroaster on the two principles of creation and
destruction, introduced an intermediary principle, that of
preservation, and on their trinity in unity, of Brama, Chiven, and
Vichenou, accumulated the allegories of their ancient traditions,
and the alembicated subtilities of their metaphysics.

"These are the materials which existed in a scattered state for
many centuries in Asia; when a fortuitous concourse of events and
circumstances, on the borders of the Euphrates and the
Mediterranean, served to form them into new combinations.

XIII. Christianity, or the Allegorical Worship of the Sun, under
the cabalistical names of Chrish-en, or Christ, and Ye-sus or

"In constituting a separate nation, Moses strove in vain to defend
it against the invasion of foreign ideas. An invisible
inclination, founded on the affinity of their origin, had
constantly brought back the Hebrews towards the worship of the
neighboring nations; and the commercial and political relations
which necessarily existed between them, strengthened this
propensity from day to day. As long as the constitution of the
state remained entire, the coercive force of the government and the
laws opposed these innovations, and retarded their progress;
nevertheless the high places were full of idols; and the god Sun
had his chariot and horses painted in the palaces of the kings, and
even in the temples of Yahouh; but when the conquests of the
sultans of Nineveh and Babylon had dissolved the bands of civil
power, the people, left to themselves and solicited by their
conquerors, restrained no longer their inclination for profane
opinions, and they were publicly established in Judea. First, the
Assyrian colonies, which came and occupied the lands of the tribes,
filled the kingdom of Samaria with dogmas of the Magi, which very
soon penetrated into the kingdom of Judea. Afterwards, Jerusalem
being subjugated, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Arabs, entering
this defenceless country, introduced their opinions; and the
religion of Moses was doubly mutilated. Besides the priests and
great men, being transported to Babylon and educated in the
sciences of the Chaldeans, imbibed, during a residence of seventy
years, the whole of their theology; and from that moment the dogmas
of the hostile Genius (Satan), the archangel Michael,* the ancient
of days (Ormuzd), the rebel angels, the battles in heaven, the
immortality of the soul, and the resurrection, all unknown to
Moses, or rejected by his total silence respecting them, were
introduced and naturalized among the Jews.

* "The names of the angels and of the months, such as Gabriel,
Michael, Yar, Nisan, etc., came from Babylon with the Jews:" says
expressly the Talmud of Jerusalem. See Beousob. Hist. du Manich.
Vol. II, p. 624, where he proves that the saints of the Almanac are
an imitation of the 365 angels of the Persians; and Jamblicus in
his Egyptian Mysteries, sect. 2, c. 3, speaks of angels,
archangels, seraphims, etc., like a true Christian.

"The emigrants returned to their country with these ideas; and
their innovation at first excited disputes between their partisans
the Pharisees, and their opponents the Saducees, who maintained the
ancient national worship; but the former, aided by the propensities
of the people and their habits already contracted, and supported by
the Persians, their deliverers and masters, gained the ascendant
over the latter; and the Sons of Moses consecrated the theology of

* "The whole philosophy of the gymnosophists," says Diogenes
Laertius on the authority of an ancient writer, "is derived from
that of the Magi, and many assert that of the Jews to have the same
origin." Lib. 1. c. 9. Megasthenes, an historian of repute in the
days of Seleucus Nicanor, and who wrote particularly upon India,
speaking of the philosophy of the ancients respecting natural
things, puts the Brachmans and the Jews precisely on the same

"A fortuitous analogy between two leading ideas was highly
favorable to this coalition, and became the basis of a last system,
not less surprising in the fortune it has had in the world, than in
the causes of its formation.

"After the Assyrians had destroyed the kingdom of Samaria, some
judicious men foresaw the same destiny for Jerusalem, which they
did not fail to predict and publish; and their predictions had the
particular turn of being terminated by prayers for a re-
establishment and regeneration, uttered in the form of prophecies.
The Hierophants, in their enthusiasm, had painted a king as a
deliverer, who was to re-establish the nation in its ancient glory;
the Hebrews were to become once more a powerful, a conquering
nation, and Jerusalem the capital of an empire extended over the
whole earth.

"Events having realized the first part of these predictions, the
ruin of Jerusalem, the people adhered to the second with a firmness
of belief in proportion to their misfortunes; and the afflicted


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