Ancient Mysteries Egypt Plutarch's Isis and Osiris

Plutarch's Isis and Osiris

Plutarch's Isis and Osiris
Catalog # SKU3838
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Plutarch, William Baxter, Philalethes
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Isis & Osiris

The Ancient Religion &
Philosophy of Egypt

Translator: William Baxter

For the greater part of men are ignorant even of this most common and ordinary thing, for what reason priests lay aside their hair and go in linen garments.

Print size, 12 point font



IT becomes wise men, dame Clea, to go to the Gods for all the good things they would enjoy. Much more ought we, when we would aim at that knowledge of them which our nature can arrive at, to pray that they themselves would bestow it upon us; truth being the greatest good that man can receive, and the goodliest blessing that God can give. Other good things he bestows on men as they want them, they being not his own peculiars nor of any use to himself. For the blessedness of the Deity consists not in silver and gold, nor yet his power in lightnings and thunders, but in knowledge and wisdom. And it was the best thing Homer ever said of Gods, when he pronounced thus:

Both of one line, both of one country boast,
But royal Jove's the eldest and knows most;

where he declares Jupiter's prerogative in wisdom and science to be the more honourable, by terming it the elder. I, for my own part, do believe that the felicity of eternal living which the Gods enjoy lies mainly in this, that nothing escapes their cognizance that passes in the sphere of generation, and that, should we set aside wisdom and the knowledge of true beings, immortality itself would not be life, but merely a long time.

2. And therefore the desire of truth, especially in what relates to the Gods, is a sort of grasping after divinity, it using learning and enquiry for a kind of resumption of things sacred, a work doubtless of more religion than any ritual purgation or charge of temples whatever, and especially most acceptable to the Goddess you serve, since she is more eminently wise and speculative, and since knowledge and science (as her very name seems to import) appertain more peculiarly to her than any other thing. For the name of Isis is Greek, and so is that of her adversary Typhon, who, being puffed up5 through ignorance and mistake, pulls in pieces and destroys that holy doctrine, which she on the contrary collects, compiles, and delivers down to such as are regularly advanced unto the deified state; which, by constancy of sober diet, and abstaining from sundry meats and the use of women, both restrains the intemperate and voluptuous part, and habituates them to austere and hard services in the temples, the end of which is the knowledge of the original, supreme, and mental being, which the Goddess would have them enquire for, as near to herself and as dwelling with her. Besides, the very name of her temple most apparently promises the knowledge and acquaintance of true being, for they call it Iseion, as who should say, We shall know true being, if with reason and sanctimony we approach the sacred temples of this Goddess.

3. Moreover, many have reported her the daughter of Hermes, and many of Prometheus; the latter of which they esteem as the author of wit and forecast, and the former of letters and music. For the same reason also they call the former of the Muses at Hermopolis at the same time Isis and Justice, Isis being (as we before said) no other than wisdom, and revealing things divine to such as are truly and justly styled the sacred bearers, and keepers of the sacred robes; and these are such as have in their minds, as in an ark, the sacred doctrine about the Gods, cleansed from superstitious frights and vain curiosities, keeping out of sight all dark and shady colours, and exposing to sight the light and gay ones, to insinuate something of the like kind in our persuasion about the Gods as we have represented to us in the sacred vestments. Wherefore, in that the priests of Isis are dressed up in these when they are dead, it is a token to us that this doctrine goes with them to the other life, and that nothing else can accompany them thither. For as neither the nourishing of beards nor the wearing of mantles can render men philosophers, so neither will linen garments or shaved heads make priests to Isis; but he is a true priest of Isis, who, after he hath received from the laws the representations and actions that refer to the Gods, doth next apply his reason to the enquiry and speculation of the truth contained in them.

Softcover, 5½ x 8½ , 104 pages
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