By Alexander Hislop
When we turn to Egypt we find remarkable evidence of the same thing there also. Justin, as we have already seen, says that "Ninus subdued all nations, as far as Lybia," and consequently Egypt. The statement of Diodorus Siculus is to the same effect, Egypt being one of the countries that, according to him, Ninus brought into subjection to himself. In exact accordance with these historical statements, we find that the name of the third person in the primeval triad of Egypt was Khons. But Khons, in Egyptian, comes from a word that signifies "to chase." Therefore, the name of Khons, the son of Maut, the goddess-mother, who was adorned in such a way as to identify her with Rhea, the great goddess-mother of Chaldea, * properly signifies "The Huntsman," or god of the chase.
* The distinguishing decoration of Maut was the vulture head-dress. Now the name of Rhea, in one of its meanings, signifies a vulture.
As Khons stands in the very same relation to the Egyptian Maut as Ninus does to Rhea, how does this title of "The Huntsman" identify the Egyptian god with Nimrod? Now this very name Khons, brought into contact with the Roman mythology, not only explains the meaning of a name in the Pantheon there, that hitherto has stood greatly in need of explanation, but causes that name, when explained, to reflect light back again on this Egyptian divinity, and to strengthen the conclusion already arrived at. The name to which I refer is the name of the Latin god Consus, who was in one aspect identified with Neptune, but who was also regarded as "the god of hidden counsels," or "the concealer of secrets," who was looked up to as the patron of horsemanship, and was said to have produced the horse. Who could be the "god of hidden counsels," or the "concealer of secrets," but Saturn, the god of the "mysteries," and whose name as used at Rome, signified "The hidden one"? The father of Khons, or Ohonso (as he was also called), that is, Amoun, was, as we are told by Plutarch, known as "The hidden God"; and as father and son in the same triad have ordinarily a correspondence of character, this shows that Khons also must have been known in the very same character of Saturn, "The hidden one." If the Latin Consus, then, thus exactly agreed with the Egyptian Khons, as the god of "mysteries," or "hidden counsels," can there be a doubt that Khons, the Huntsman, also agreed with the same Roman divinity as the supposed producer of the horse? Who so likely to get the credit of producing the horse as the great huntsman of Babel, who no doubt enlisted it in the toils of the chase, and by this means must have been signally aided in his conflicts with the wild beasts of the forest? In this connection, let the reader call to mind that fabulous creature, the Centaur, half-man, half-horse, that figures so much in the mythology of Greece. That imaginary creation, as is generally admitted, was intended to commemorate the man who first taught the art of horsemanship. *
* In illustration of the principle that led to the making of the image of the Centaur, the following passage may be given from PRESCOTT'S Mexico, as showing the feelings of the Mexicans on first seeing a man on horseback: "He [Cortes] ordered his men [who were cavalry] to direct their lances at the faces of their opponents, who, terrified at the monstrous apparition--for they supposed the rider and the horse, which they had never before seen, to be one and the same--were seized with a panic."
But that creation was not the offspring of Greek fancy. Here, as in many other things, the Greeks have only borrowed from an earlier source. The Centaur is found on coins struck in Babylonia ( see Figure 16), * showing that the idea must have originally come from that quarter. The Centaur is found in the Zodiac ( see Figure 17), the antiquity of which goes up to a high period, and which had its origin in Babylon. The Centaur was represented, as we are expressly assured by Berosus, the Babylonian historian, in the temple of Babylon, and his language would seem to show that so also it had been in primeval times. The Greeks did themselves admit this antiquity and derivation of the Centaur; for though Ixion was commonly represented as the father of the Centaurs, yet they also acknowledge that the primitive Centaurus was the same as Kronos, or Saturn, the father of the gods. **
* See Nineveh and Babylon, p. 250, and BRYANT, vol. iii. Plate, p. 245.
But we have seen that Kronos was the first King of Babylon, or Nimrod; consequently, the first Centaur was the same. Now, the way in which the Centaur was represented on the Babylonian coins, and in the Zodiac, viewed in this light, is very striking. The Centaur was the same as the sign Sagittarius, or "The Archer." If the founder of Babylon's glory was "The mighty Hunter," whose name, even in the days of Moses, was a proverb--(Gen 10:9, "Wherefore, it is said, Even as Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord")--when we find the "Archer" with his bow and arrow, in the symbol of the supreme Babylonian divinity, and the "Archer," among the signs of the Zodiac that originated in Babylon, I think we may safely conclude that this Man-horse or Horse-man Archer primarily referred to him, and was intended to perpetuate the memory at once of his fame as a huntsman and his skill as a horse-breaker. (see note below)
Now, when we thus compare the Egyptian Khons, the "Huntsman," with the Latin Consus, the god of horse-races, who "produced the horse," and the Centaur of Babylon, to whom was attributed the honour of being the author of horsemanship, while we see how all the lines converge in Babylon, it will be very clear, I think, whence the primitive Egyptian god Khons has been derived.
Khons, the son of the great goddess-mother, seems to have been generally represented as a full-grown god. The Babylonian divinity was also represented very frequently in Egypt in the very same way as in the land of his nativity--i.e., as a child in his mother's arms. *
* One of the symbols with which Khons was represented, shows that even he was identified with the child-god; "for," says Wilkinson, "at the side of his head fell the plaited lock of Harpocrates, or childhood."
This was the way in which Osiris, "the son, the husband of his mother," was often exhibited, and what we learn of this god, equally as in the case of Khons, shows that in his original he was none other than Nimrod. It is admitted that the secret system of Free Masonry was originally founded on the Mysteries of the Egyptian Isis, the goddess-mother, or wife of Osiris. But what could have led to the union of a Masonic body with these Mysteries, had they not had particular reference to architecture, and had the god who was worshipped in them not been celebrated for his success in perfecting the arts of fortification and building? Now, if such were the case, considering the relation in which, as we have already seen, Egypt stood to Babylon, who would naturally be looked up to there as the great patron of the Masonic art? The strong presumption is, that Nimrod must have been the man. He was the first that gained fame in this way. As the child of the Babylonian goddess-mother, he was worshipped, as we have seen, in the character of Ala mahozim, "The god of fortifications." Osiris, in like manner, the child of the Egyptian Madonna, was equally celebrated as "the strong chief of the buildings." This strong chief of the buildings was originally worshipped in Egypt with every physical characteristic of Nimrod. I have already noticed the fact that Nimrod, as the son of Cush, was a Negro. Now, there was a tradition in Egypt, recorded by Plutarch, that "Osiris was black," which, in a land where the general complexion was dusky, must have implied something more than ordinary in its darkness. Plutarch also states that Horus, the son of Osiris, "was of a fair complexion," and it was in this way, for the most part, that Osiris was represented.
But we have unequivocal evidence that Osiris, the son and husband of the great goddess-queen of Egypt, was also represented as a veritable Negro. In Wilkinson may be found a representation of him ( see figure 18) with the unmistakable features of the genuine Cushite or Negro. Bunsen would have it that this is a mere random importation from some of the barbaric tribes; but the dress in which this Negro god is arrayed tells a different tale. That dress directly connects him with Nimrod. This Negro-featured Osiris is clothed from head to foot in a spotted dress, the upper part being a leopard's skin, the under part also being spotted to correspond with it. Now the name Nimrod * signifies "the subduer of the leopard."
* "Nimr-rod"; from Nimr, a "leopard," and rada or rad "to subdue." According to invariable custom in Hebrew, when two consonants come together as the two rs in Nimr-rod, one of them is sunk. Thus Nin-neveh, "The habitation of Ninus," becomes Nineveh. The name Nimrod is commonly derived from Mered, "to rebel"; but a difficulty has always been found in regard to this derivation, as that would make the name Nimrod properly passive not "the rebel," but "he who was rebelled against." There is no doubt that Nimrod was a rebel, and that his rebellion was celebrated in ancient myths; but his name in that character was not Nimrod, but Merodach, or, as among the Romans, Mars, "the rebel"; or among the Oscans of Italy, Mamers (SMITH), "The causer of rebellion." That the Roman Mars was really, in his original, the Babylonian god, is evident from the name given to the goddess, who was recognised sometimes as his "sister," and sometimes as his "wife"--i.e., Bellona, which, in Chaldee, signifies, "The Lamenter of Bel" (from Bel and onah, to lament). The Egyptian Isis, the sister and wife of Osiris, is in like manner represented, as we have seen, as "lamenting her brother Osiris." (BUNSEN)
This name seems to imply, that as Nimrod had gained fame by subduing the horse, and so making use of it in the chase, so his fame as a huntsman rested mainly on this, that he found out the art of making the leopard aid him in hunting the other wild beasts. A particular kind of tame leopard is used in India at this day for hunting; and of Bagajet I, the Mogul Emperor of India, it is recorded that in his hunting establishment he had not only hounds of various breeds, but leopards also, whose "collars were set with jewels." Upon the words of the prophet Habakkuk 1:8, "swifter than leopards," Kitto has the following remarks:--"The swiftness of the leopard is proverbial in all countries where it is found. This, conjoined with its other qualities, suggested the idea in the East of partially training it, that it might be employed in hunting...Leopards are now rarely kept for hunting in Western Asia, unless by kings and governors; but they are more common in the eastern parts of Asia. Orosius relates that one was sent by the king of Portugal to the Pope, which excited great astonishment by the way in which it overtook, and the facility with which it killed, deer and wild boars. Le Bruyn mentions a leopard kept by the Pasha who governed Gaza, and the other territories of the ancient Philistines, and which he frequently employed in hunting jackals. But it is in India that the cheetah, or hunting leopard, is most frequently employed, and is seen in the perfection of his power." This custom of taming the leopard, and pressing it into the service of man in this way, is traced up to the earliest times of primitive antiquity. In the works of Sir William Jones, we find it stated from the Persian legends, that Hoshang, the father of Tahmurs, who built Babylon, was the "first who bred dogs and leopards for hunting." As Tahmurs, who built Babylon, could be none other than Nimrod, this legend only attributes to his father what, as his name imports, he got the fame of doing himself.
Now, as the classic god bearing the lion's skin is recognised by that sign as Hercules, the slayer of the Nemean lion, so in like manner, the god clothed in the leopard's skin would naturally be marked out as Nimrod, the "leopard-subduer." That this leopard skin, as appertaining to the Egyptian god, was no occasional thing, we have clearest evidence. Wilkinson tells us, that on all high occasions when the Egyptian high priest was called to officiate, it was indispensable that he should do so wearing, as his robe of office, the leopard's skin ( see figure 19). As it is a universal principle in all idolatries that the high priest wears the insignia of the god he serves, this indicates the importance which the spotted skin must have had attached to it as a symbol of the god himself. The ordinary way in which the favourite Egyptian divinity Osiris was mystically represented was under the form of a young bull or calf--the calf Apis--from which the golden calf of the Israelites was borrowed. There was a reason why that calf should not commonly appear in the appropriate symbols of the god he represented, for that calf represented the divinity in the character of Saturn, "The HIDDEN one," "Apis" being only another name for Saturn. *
The cow of Athor, however, the female divinity corresponding to Apis, is well known as a "spotted cow," (WILKINSON) and it is singular that the Druids of Britain also worshipped "a spotted cow" (DAVIES'S Druids). Rare though it be, however, to find an instance of the deified calf or young bull represented with the spots, there is evidence still in existence, that even it was sometimes so represented. The accompanying figure ( see figure 20) represents that divinity, as copied by Col. Hamilton Smith "from the original collection made by the artists of the French Institute of Cairo." When we find that Osiris, the grand god of Egypt, under different forms, was thus arrayed in a leopard's skin or spotted dress, and that the leopard-skin dress was so indispensable a part of the sacred robes of his high priest, we may be sure that there was a deep meaning in such a costume. And what could that meaning be, but just to identify Osiris with the Babylonian god, who was celebrated as the "Leopard-tamer," and who was worshipped even as he was, as Ninus, the CHILD in his mother's arms?
The ordinary classical derivation of this name gives little satisfaction; for, even though it could be derived from words that signify "Bull-killers" (and the derivation itself is but lame), such a meaning casts no light at all on the history of the Centaurs. Take it as a Chaldee word, and it will be seen at once that the whole history of the primitive Kentaurus entirely agrees with the history of Nimrod, with whom we have already identified him. Kentaurus is evidently derived from Kehn, "a priest," and Tor, "to go round." "Kehn-Tor," therefore, is "Priest of the revolver," that is, of the sun, which, to appearance, makes a daily revolution round the earth. The name for a priest, as written, is just Khn, and the vowel is supplied according to the different dialects of those who pronounce it, so as to make it either Kohn, Kahn, or Kehn. Tor, "the revolver," as applied to the sun, is evidently just another name for the Greek Zen or Zan applied to Jupiter, as identified with the sun, which signifies the "Encircler" or "Encompasser,"--the very word from which comes our own word "Sun," which, in Anglo-Saxon, was Sunna (MALLET, Glossary), and of which we find distinct traces in Egypt in the term snnu (BUNSEN'S Vocab.), as applied to the sun's orbit. The Hebrew Zon or Zawon, to "encircle," from which these words come, in Chaldee becomes Don or Dawon, and thus we penetrate the meaning of the name given by the Boeotians to the "Mighty hunter," Orion. That name was Kandaon, as appears from the following words of the Scholiast on Lycophron, quoted in BRYANT: "Orion, whom the Boeotians call also Kandaon." Kahn-daon, then, and Kehn-tor, were just different names for the same office--the one meaning "Priest of the Encircler," the other, "Priest of the revolver"--titles evidently equivalent to that of Bol-kahn, or "Priest of Baal, or the Sun," which, there can be no doubt, was the distinguishing title of Nimrod.
As the title of Centaurus thus exactly agrees with the known position of Nimrod, so the history of the father of the Centaurs does the same. We have seen already that, though Ixion was, by the Greeks, made the father of that mythical race, even they themselves admitted that the Centaurs had a much higher origin, and consequently that Ixion, which seems to be a Grecian name, had taken the place of an earlier name, according to that propensity particularly noticed by Salverte, which has often led mankind "to apply to personages known in one time and one country, myths which they have borrowed from another country and an earlier epoch" (Des Sciences). Let this only be admitted to be the case here--let only the name of Ixion be removed, and it will be seen that all that is said of the father of the Centaurs, or Horsemen-archers, applies exactly to Nimrod, as represented by the different myths that refer to the first progenitor of these Centaurs. First, then, Centaurus is represented as having been taken up to heaven (DYMOCK "Ixion"), that is, as having been highly exalted through special favour of heaven; then, in that state of exaltation, he is said to have fallen in love with Nephele, who passed under the name of Juno, the "Queen of Heaven." The story here is intentionally confused, to mystify the vulgar, and the order of events seems changed, which can easily be accounted for. As Nephele in Greek signifies "a cloud," so the offspring of Centaurus are said to have been produced by a "cloud." But Nephele, in the language of the country where the fable was originally framed, signified "A fallen woman," and it is from that "fallen woman," therefore, that the Centaurs are really said to have sprung. Now, the story of Nimrod, as Ninus, is, that he fell in love with Semiramis when she was another man's wife, and took her for his own wife, whereby she became doubly fallen--fallen as a woman *-- and fallen from the primitive faith in which she must have been brought up; and it is well known that this "fallen woman" was, under the name of Juno, or the Dove, after her death, worshipped among the Babylonians.
* Nephele was used, even in Greece, as the name of a woman, the degraded wife of Athamas being so called. (SMITH'S Class. Dict., "Athamas")
Centaurus, for his presumption and pride, was smitten with lightning by the supreme God, and cast down to hell (DYMOCK, "Ixion"). This, then, is just another version of the story of Phaethon, Aesculapius, and Orpheus, who were all smitten in like manner and for a similar cause. In the infernal world, the father of the Centaurs is represented as tied by serpents to a wheel which perpetually revolves, and thus makes his punishment eternal (DYMOCK). In the serpents there is evidently reference to one of the two emblems of the fire-worship of Nimrod. If he introduced the worship of the serpent, as I have endeavoured to show, there was poetical justice in making the serpent an instrument of his punishment. Then the revolving wheel very clearly points to the name Centaurus itself, as denoting the "Priest of the revolving sun." To the worship of the sun in the character of the "Revolver," there was a very distinct allusion not only in the circle which, among the Pagans, was the emblem of the sun-god, and the blazing wheel with which he was so frequently represented (WILSON'S Parsi Religion), but in the circular dances of the Bacchanalians. Hence the phrase, "Bassaridum rotator Evan"--"The wheeling Evan of the Bacchantes" (STATIUS, Sylv.). Hence, also, the circular dances of the Druids as referred to in the following quotation from a Druidic song: "Ruddy was the sea beach whilst the circular revolution was performed by the attendants and the white bands in graceful extravagance" (DAVIES'S Druids). That this circular dance among the Pagan idolaters really had reference to the circuit of the sun, we find from the distinct statement of Lucian in his treatise On Dancing, where, speaking of the circular dance of the ancient Eastern nations, he says, with express reference to the sun-god, "it consisted in a dance imitating this god." We see then, here, a very specific reason for the circular dance of the Bacchae, and for the ever-revolving wheel of the great Centaurus in the infernal regions.