This is a dialog between Thoth, the Lord of
Knowledge & Wisdom
and his Son Imhotep , the great Egyptian
Architect and Doctor
AND since we are brought to speak of the relationship and of the resemblance
between men and Gods, behold, O Imhotep, the power and capacity of man! Even as
the Ruler and Father, or to give Him the loftiest name-- God is the creator of
the firmamental Gods, so is man the creator of the Gods who dwell in temples,
pleased with human proximity, and not only themselves illumined, but
illuminating. And this both profits man and strengthens the Gods. Do you marvel,
Imhotep? Do you lack faith as do many?
I am confounded, O Thoth Twice Great; but yielding myself willingly to your
words, I judge man to be happy in that he has obtained such felicity.
Horus, he deserves admiration, being the greatest of all the Gods! For the
race of the Gods is formed of the purest part of Nature, without admixture of
other elements, and their visible signs are, as it were, only heads. But the
Gods which mankind makes, possess two natures--one divine, which is the first
and by far the purest, the other belonging to humanity, which is the matter of
which these Gods are composed, so that they have not only heads, but entire
bodies, with all their limbs. Thus mankind, remembering its nature and its
origin, persists in this matter, in the imitation of Deity, for even as the
Father and Lord has made the eternal Gods after the similitude of Himself, so
also has humanity made its Gods in its own image.
Do you speak of the statues, Thoth Twice Great ?
Yes, of the statues, Imhotep. See how wanting you
art in faith! Of what else should I speak but of the statues, so full of life,
of feeling, and of aspiration, which do so many wonderful things; the prophetic
statues which predict the future by bestowing dreams and by all manner of other
ways; which strike us with maladies, or heal our pains according to our deserts?
Are you not aware, O Imhotep, that Egypt is the image of heaven, or rather, that
it is the projection below of the order of things above? If the truth must be
told, this land is indeed the temple of the world. Nevertheless--since sages
ought to foresee all things--there is one thing you must know; a time will come
when it will seem that the Egyptians have adored the Gods so piously in vain,
and that all their holy invocations have been barren and unheeded. Divinity will
quit the earth and return to heaven, forsaking Egypt, its ancient abode, and
leaving the land widowed of religion and bereft of the presence of the Gods.
Strangers will fill the earth, and not only will sacred things be neglected,
but--more dreadful still--religion, piety, and the adoration of the Gods will be
forbidden and punished by the laws. Then, this earth, hallowed by so many
shrines and temples, will be filled with sepulchers and with the dead. O Egypt!
Egypt! there will remain of your religions only vague legends which posterity
will refuse to believe; only words graven upon stones will witness to your
devotion! The Scythian, the Indian, or some other neighboring barbarian will
possess Egypt! Divinity will return to heaven; humanity, thus abandoned, will
wholly perish, and Egypt will be left deserted, forsaken of men and of Gods!
To you I cry, O most sacred River, to you I
announce the coming doom! waves of blood, polluting your divine waters, shall
overflow your banks; the number of the dead shall surpass that of the living;
and if, indeed, a few inhabitants of the land remain, Egyptians by speech, they
will in manners be aliens! You weepest, O Imhotep! But yet sadder things than
these will come to pass. Egypt will fall into apostacy, the worst of all evils.
Egypt, once the holy land beloved of the Gods and full of devotion for their
worship, will become the instrument of perversion, the school of impiety, the
type of all violence. Then, filled with disgust for everything, man will no
longer feel either admiration or love for the world. He will turn away from this
beautiful work, the most perfect alike in the present, the past, and the future.
Nor will the languor and weariness of souls permit anything to remain save
disdain of the whole universe, this immutable work of God, this glorious and
perfect edifice, this manifold synthesis of forms and images, wherein the will
of the Lord, lavish of marvels, has united all things in a harmonious and single
whole, worthier for ever of veneration, of praise and love! Then darkness will
be preferred to light, and death will be deemed better than life, nor will any
man lift his eyes to heaven.
In those days the religious man will be thought mad;
the impious man will be hailed as a sage; savage men will be deemed valiant; the
evil-hearted will be applauded as the best of men. The Soul, and all that
belongs thereto--whether born mortal or able to attain eternal life--all those
things which I have herein expounded to you, will be but matters for ridicule,
and will be esteemed foolishness. There will even be peril of death, believe me,
for those who are faithful to religion and intelligence. New rights will be
instituted, new laws, nor will there be left one holy word, one sacred belief,
religious and worthier of heaven and of celestial things. O lamentable
separation between the Gods and men! Then there will remain only evil demons who
will mingle themselves with the miserable human race, their hand will be upon it
impelling to all kinds of wicked enterprise; to war, to rapine, to falsehood, to
everything contrary to the nature of the soul. The earth will no longer be in
equilibrium, the sea will no longer be navigable, in the heavens the regular
course of the stars will be troubled. Every holy voice will be condemned to
silence; the fruits of the earth will become corrupt, and she will be no more
fertile; the very air will sink into lugubrious torpor. Such will be the old age
of the world; irreligion and disorder, lawlessness, and the confusion of good
When all these things shall be accomplished, O
Imhotep, then the Lord and Father, the sovereign God who rules the wide world,
beholding the evil ways and actions of men, will arrest these misfortunes by the
exercise of His divine will and goodness. And, in order to put an end to error
and to the general corruption, He will drown the world with a deluge or consume
it by fire, or destroy it by wars and epidemics, and thereafter He will restore
to it its primitive beauty; so that once more it shall appear worthier of
admiration and worship, and again a chorus of praise and of blessing shall
celebrate Him Who has created and redeemed so beautiful a work. This re-birth of
the world, this restoration of all good things, this holy and sacred
re-habilitation of Nature will take place when the time shall come which is
appointed by the divine and ever-eternal will of God, without beginning and
always the same.
Indeed, Thoth Thoth Twice Great , the nature of God
is Will reflected; that is, absolute goodness and wisdom.
O Imhotep, Will is the result of reflection, and to
will is itself an act of willing. For He Who is the fullness of all things and
Who possesses all that He will, wills nothing by caprice. But everything He
wills is good, and He has all that He wills; all that is good He thinks and
wills. Such is God, and the World is the image of His righteousness.
Is the world then good, O Thoth Twice Great ?
Yes, the world is good, Imhotep, as I will inform
you. Even as God accords to all beings and to all orders in the world benefits
of divers kinds, such as thought, soul, and life, so likewise the world itself
divides and distributes good things among mortals, changing seasons, the fruits
of the earth, birth, increase, maturity, and other similar gifts. And thus God
is above the summit of heaven, yet everywhere present and beholding all things.
For beyond the heavens is a sphere without stars, transcending all corporeal
things. Between heaven and earth he reigns who is the dispenser of life, and
whom we call Amen . Over the earth and the sea he reigns who nourishes all
mortal creatures, the plants and fruit-bearing trees, and whose name is Amon
Sarapis. And those to whom it shall be given to dominate the earth shall be sent
forth and established at the extremity of Egypt, in a city built towards the
west, whither, by sea and by land, shall flow all the race of mortals.
But where are they now, Thoth Twice Great ?
They are established in a great city, upon the
mountains. Enough of this.