Simoetha has learnt many spells and charms from an Assyrian, and she tries them all. The distant roar of the waves, the stroke rising from the fire, the dogs howling in the street, the tortured fluttering bird, the old woman, the broken-hearted girl and her awful spells, all join in forming a night scene the effect of which is heightened by the calm cold moonshine. Whence came her love?
The love of the creature to its Creator, of man to God, is the grand and yet gracious gift of Christianity. The love of man and wife has without doubt been purified and transfigured by Christianity; still it is possible that a Greek may have loved as tenderly and longingly as a Christian. The more ardent glow of passion at least cannot be denied to the ancients. And did not their love find vent in the same expressions as our own? Who does not know the charming roundelay:.
If my space allowed I could add much more on this subject, but will permit myself only one remark in conclusion. The foregoing remarks seemed to me due to those who consider a love such as that of Sappho and Bartja to have been impossible among the ancients. Unquestionably it was much rarer then than in these days: indeed I confess to having sketched my pair of lovers in somewhat bright colors.
How seldom I have availed myself of this freedom will be evident from the notes included in each volume.
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They seemed to me necessary, partly in order to explain the names and illustrate the circumstances mentioned in the text, and partly to vindicate the writer in the eyes of the learned. I trust they may not prove discouraging to any, as the text will be found easily readable without reference to the explanations. I returned long since from the journey to the Nile, for which I was preparing while correcting the proof-sheets of the third edition, and on which I can look back with special satisfaction. During my residence in Egypt, in , a lucky accident enabled me to make many new discoveries; among them one treasure of incomparable value, the great hieratic manuscript, which bears my name.
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Its publication has just been completed, and it is now in the library of the Leipzig University. The Papyrus Ebers, the second in size and the best preserved of all the ancient Egyptian manuscripts which have come into our possession, was written in the 16th century B. In this venerable scroll diagnoses are made and remedies suggested for the internal and external diseases of most portions of the human body.
With the drugs prescribed are numbers, according to which they are weighed with weights and measured with hollow measures, and accompanying the prescriptions are noted the pious axioms to be repeated by the physician, while compounding and giving them to the patient. On the second line of the first page of our manuscript, it is stated that it came from Sais.
A large portion of this work is devoted to the visual organs. On the twentieth line of the fifty-fifth page begins the book on the eyes, which fills eight large pages. We were formerly compelled to draw from Greek and Roman authors what we knew about the remedies used for diseases of the eye among the ancient Egyptians. The portion of the Papyrus Ebers just mentioned is now the only Egyptian source from whence we can obtain instruction concerning this important branch of ancient medicine.
Among the characters in the novel the reader will meet an oculist from Sais, who wrote a book upon the diseases of the visual organs. The fate of this valuable work exactly agrees with the course of the narrative. When I succeeded in bringing the manuscript home, I felt like the man who had dreamed of a treasure, and when he went out to ride found it in his path. VII, January , might appropriately be introduced into this preface, but would scarcely be possible without entering more deeply into the ever-disputed question, which will be answered elsewhere, whether the historical romance is ever justifiable.
I wrote it in my sick-room, before entering upon my academic career, and while composing it, found not only comfort and pleasure, but an opportunity to give dead scientific material a living interest for myself and others. Monsieur Soury says romance is the mortal enemy of history; but this sentence may have no more justice than the one with which I think myself justified in replying: Landscape painting is the mortal enemy of botany.
The historical romance must be enjoyed like any other work of art. No one reads it to study history; but many, the author hopes, may be aroused by his work to make investigations of their own, for which the notes point out the way. In Vol. I have found them in all the descriptions of the Nile valley, and afterwards often enjoyed the delicious perfume of the golden yellow flowers in the gardens of Alexandria and Cairo.
I now learn that this very mimosa Acacia farnesiana originates in tropical America, and was undoubtedly unknown in ancient Egypt. The bananas, which I mentioned in Vol. The botanical errors occurring in the last volume I was able to correct. Theophrastus, a native of Asia Minor, gives the first description of a citron, and this proves that he probably saw the so-called paradise-apple, but not our citron, which I am therefore not permitted to mention among the plants cultivated in ancient Lydia.
Palms and birches are both found in Asia Minor; but I permitted them to grow side by side, thereby committing an offense against the geographical possibility of vegetable existence. The birch, in this locality, flourishes in the mountainous region, the palm, according to Griesbach Vegetation of the Earth, Vol.
The latter errors, as I previously mentioned, will be corrected in the new edition. I shall of course owe special thanks to any one who may call my attention to similar mistakes. My sincere thanks are due to Dr. August Steitz of Frankfort on the Main, who has travelled through Egypt and Asia Minor, for a series of admirable notes, which he kindly placed at my disposal. He will find that they have not remained unused.
The Nile had overflowed its bed. The luxuriant corn-fields and blooming gardens on its shores were lost beneath a boundless waste of waters; and only the gigantic temples and palaces of its cities, protected from the force of the water by dikes , and the tops of the tall palm-trees and acacias could be seen above its surface. The branches of the sycamores and plane-trees drooped and floated on the waves, but the boughs of the tall silver poplars strained upward, as if anxious to avoid the watery world beneath.
The full-moon had risen; her soft light fell on the Libyan range of mountains vanishing on the western horizon, and in the north the shimmer of the Mediterranean could faintly be discerned. Blue and white lotus-flowers floated on the clear water, bats of all kinds darted softly through the still air, heavy with the scent of acacia-blossom and jasmine; the wild pigeons and other birds were at roost in the tops of the trees, while the pelicans, storks and cranes squatted in groups on the shore under the shelter of the papyrus-reeds and Nile-beans.
The pelicans and storks remained motionless, their long bills hidden beneath their wings, but the cranes were startled by the mere beat of an oar, stretching their necks, and peering anxiously into the distance, if they heard but the song of the boatmen. The air was perfectly motionless, and the unbroken reflection of the moon, lying like a silver shield on the surface of the water, proved that, wildly as the Nile leaps over the cataracts, and rushes past the gigantic temples of Upper Egypt, yet on approaching the sea by different arms, he can abandon his impetuous course, and flow along in sober tranquillity.
On this moonlight night in the year B. On the raised deck at the stern of this boat an Egyptian was sitting to guide the long pole-rudder, and the half-naked boatmen within were singing as they rowed. In the open cabin, which was something like a wooden summer-house, sat two men, reclining on low cushions. They were evidently not Egyptians; their Greek descent could be perceived even by the moonlight.
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The elder was an unusually tall and powerful man of more than sixty; thick grey curls, showing very little attempt at arrangement, hung down over his short, firm throat; he wore a simple, homely cloak, and kept his eyes gloomily fixed on the water. His companion, on the contrary, a man perhaps twenty years younger, of a slender and delicate build, was seldom still.
Sometimes he gazed into the heavens, sometimes made a remark to the steersman, disposed his beautiful purple chlanis in fresh folds, or busied himself in the arrangement of his scented brown curls, or his carefully curled beard. The boat had left Naukratis, at that time the only Hellenic port in Egypt, about half an hour before.
During their journey, the grey-haired, moody man had not spoken one word, and the other had left him to his meditations. That pleasant house to the left yonder, in the garden of palms which you can see rising above the waters, is the dwelling of my friend Rhodopis.
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It was built by her husband Charaxus, and all her friends, not excepting the king himself, vie with one another in adding new beauties to it year by year. A useless effort! Let them adorn that house with all the treasures in the world, the woman who lives within will still remain its best ornament!
The old man sat up, threw a passing glance at the building, smoothed the thick grey beard which clothed his cheeks and chin, but left the lips free,—[The Spartans were not in the habit of wearing a beard on the upper lip. How long have the Athenians been wont to extol old women? When you have seen her and her lovely grandchild, and heard your favorite melodies sung by her well-practised choir of slave-girls, I think you will thank me for having brought you hither. Truly, the bread of exile is not less distasteful to my palate than to yours, but, in the society afforded by this house, it loses some of its bitterness, and when the dear melodies of Hellas, so perfectly sung, fall on my ear, my native land rises before me as in a vision, I see its pine and olive groves, its cold, emerald green rivers, its blue sea, the shimmer of its towns, its snowy mountain-tops and marble temples, and a half-sweet, half-bitter tear steals down my cheek as the music ceases, and I awake to remember that I am in Egypt, in this monotonous, hot, eccentric country, which, the gods be praised, I am soon about to quit.
But, Aristomachus, would you then avoid the few Oases in the desert, because you must afterwards return to its sands and drought? Would you fly from one happy hour, because days of sadness await you later? But stop, here we are! Show a cheerful countenance, my friend, for it becomes us not to enter the temple of the Charites with sad hearts. As Phanes uttered these words, they landed at the garden wall, washed by the Nile. The Athenian bounded lightly from the boat, the Spartan following with a heavier, firmer tread.
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Aristomachus had a wooden leg, but his step was so firm, even when compared with that of the light-footed Phanes, that it might have been thought to be his own limb. The garden of Rhodopis was as full of sound, and scent and blossom as a night in fairy-land. It was one labyrinth of acanthus shrubs, yellow mimosa, the snowy gelder-rose, jasmine and lilac, red roses and laburnums, overshadowed by tall palm-trees, acacias and balsam trees.
Large bats hovered softly on their delicate wings over the whole, and sounds of mirth and song echoed from the river. This garden had been laid out by an Egyptian, and the builders of the Pyramids had already been celebrated for ages for their skill in horticulture. They well understood how to mark out neat flower-beds, plant groups of trees and shrubs in regular order, water the whole by aqueducts and fountains, arrange arbors and summerhouses, and even inclose the walks with artistically clipped hedges, and breed goldfish in stone basins.
How long has that white ensign waved for guests in vain?
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Rhodopis is not at home now, but she must return shortly. The evening being so fine, she determined on taking a pleasure-trip on the Nile with her guests. They started at sunset, two hours ago, and the evening meal is already prepared; they cannot remain away much longer. I pray you, Phanes, to have patience and follow me into the house. Rhodopis would not easily forgive me, if I allowed such valued guests to depart. So long as we were on the Nile, I would not intrude my tale upon you; that ancient river has a wonderful power of compelling to silence and quiet contemplation.
Even my usually quick tongue was paralyzed like yours, when I took my first night-journey on the Nile. Who would wish to avoid the power of his spells?
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