Search This Blog

Saturday, March 15, 2014

some fayum portraits have semitic names

Greek god—Apollodoros or Hermaios—and appreciating Greek works ofart, might collect them or place them in his house; knowing, also, that even in his native land of Palestine the dead were wrapped in linen and entombed in rock caves, he might be ready and willing to have the body of the dead he had loved treated after the Hellenic-Egyptian manner, and decorated with an image, however severely such a practice might be reprobated by his stricter fellow Jews.

It is, indeed, more difficult to conceive of this as applying to colonists of pure Greek origin. The fusion must have been complete, indeed, before they could accept such a thoroughly Egyptian tradition. In fact, we meet with no mention of any Hellenic mummy of the third century before Christ. But in the second they were frequent. Under Euergetes II Physkon (+ 117) Egypt was closely allied with Cyprus; and when we hear of two stone sarcophagi found in that island, of good Greek workmanship, in the mummy form with faces treated as portraits (Cesnola, Descriptive Atlas V, xci, 589 and 590), we have a right to suppose that the custom of making portrait mummies had been introduced there. If the inscription, now erased, on Cesnola's No. 589 was indeed Phoenician, the portrait mummies found there would have been those of Semitic settlers.

It has already been said that there is a name in Semitic character on the back of No. 7 (Graf collection). Renan and other savants first examined it at the Paris exhibition; but the first to decipher it was Prof. Euting, of Strassburg, who is exceptionally skilled in the ancient Semitic character. In 1891 he specially devoted himself to interpreting the six let-' ters written in black on the back of No. 7, and deciphered them as the name Ba'al 'adar, i. e., Ba'al helps or Ba'al commands.

The character points to a period from 450 to 300 B. c. Besides this name some figures are drawn, also in black, which would seem to be of the same date as the writing. How, then, did this name come to be on the picture? We shall return to this question, and a consideration of the accompanying figures on the back of the panel, after a further examination of the portrait itself.

The youth whose likeness is painted on the front of the panel wears a peculiar lock of hair, such as we see again in several of the pictures, and this led me to an observation of great importance for determining the date—which, indeed, raised much opposition, but which I must, on the whole, adhere to. Even Wilcken, who can not accept my conclusions, regards it " as extremely remarkable" that this side lock may no doubt be identical with the side lock familiar to every student of the monuments as the invariable decoration of princes. But he does not admit that it implies that the youth of No. 7 was of royal blood, "since on the monuments this lock is worn even by the children of ordinary mortals." This is true. But when the lock is worn by a grown man it is without exception an indication of connection with the royal family, or of divine origin, and a close examination of all the monuments confirms the fact. Krmann's reremark that "the sons of kings wore the distinctive lock of infancy all their life through" is absolutely correct. But none but personages connected with the royal family wore it beyond childhood and during manhood. How little Heydemann had mastered the subject, is proved by the fact that the very instances he adduces in evidence of the statement that even the children of ordinary mortals wore the lock, all represent princes or youthful deities.


It has been asserted that this mark of high descent lost its original form under the new empire, and from a plait of hair had degenerated into a broad ribbon, commonly with a fringe. This ribbon is no doubt to be seen on several princes of the later empire, on the son of Ramcses III, for example; but it is so broad and stiff that it would seem to have incased the lock or to have been regarded as a substitute for it. In war, when it was difficult to keep the lock smoothly plaited, kings' sons commonly wear this band or case. And they sometimes wear it in solemn processions, perhaps because they were required to appear, even though unarmed, in a guise suggestive of the war in which they had taken part. But that the princes plaited this lock with care, even under the later kingdom, may be seen in the youthful portrait of Ramcses II in the Louvre (a bas-relief in limestone; see Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire dc l'Art, Tab. I, p. 706). Every strand of the plait is visible, as well as the little tie which fastens it at the end, as in our No. 7 portrait. A diadem crowns the prince's brow, temples, and head, and from it two bands, wider at the bottom, hang down his back. I am of the opinion that if these were pushed forward at the sides they would cover the plaits, and be mistaken for the bands or cases which are erroneously supposed to have taken the place of the locks. These can be seen in pictures all through the new kingdom, to the time of the Ptolemies and the Romans. They were originally an attribute of the infant Horus; and it is, as has been said, perfectly true that they were worn by other children than those of the Pharaohs; but where they are seen on the figure of a grown-up man it represents without exception a god or a member of the royal household. This I take to be an axiom proof against all contention.

The persons represented in Nos. 7 and 60, and who wear this lock, are certainly portraits of grown-up* persons.

It is true that, with the express purpose of proving that the portraits in the Graf collection are of the Roman period, an attempt has been made to show that No. 60 represents a lad of fifteen; but I think that every unprejudiced judge would agree with me that he was about twenty years of age. Most of the friends and acquaintances whose opinion I have asked have thought he might be from nineteen to thirty years old. I must therefore persist in maintaining that the young man represented in No. 7 was closely connected with the Lagides.

Still, it can not but surprise us to find a Ptolemaic

* Including as grown-up a youth, or Ephebos. Where the lock is seen on the offspring of an ordinary mortal it is always on a child of tender years.

prince buried in the " Lake Land." It makes it needful that we should in the first place examine more closely the connections and customs of the Lagides' court, and we shall then find that the peculiarities of No. 7 admit of an explanation which deprives the interment of the youth in the provincial necropolis of its singularity.

Foremost of those who enjoyed personal intimacy with the Ptolemies were the <rvyytv«s, or "relations of the king," a name given to the holders of certain high offices and dignitaries. They were addressed in letters from the king himself as "father " or " brother," according to their age and rank. Their honors seem to have been hereditary, and to have descended to their children, with the intention, doubtless, of constituting a trusted class of nobles to be about the king's person. We may pass over the titles of other dignitaries at court to dwell on that of the younger satellites of the Lagides, among whom we often meet with the fkurlktuu. TralSes, or royal children, forming a corps of cadets or pages brought up at court. Whether those sons of distinguished priests who were selected to attend on Pharaoh, according to Diodoros (I, 70), for their superior education—and they must have been more than twenty years of age—whether these correspond to the muSts is doubtful; and indeed it seems rash to accept Diodoros word for word, especially in this chapter, where he seems to be expressly giving a highly colored picture of a prince after his own heart. And as he wrote after the fall of the Lagides he had nothing to fear from criticism as to details. That young men of rank certainly surrounded the king and attended him is at any rate an established fact. Thus, besides the

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive