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of eminence, the name of the THEOLOGER.* - The effect of all this was, to produce in the mind of the Egyptian student, a love of the dark and awfulma spirit of refining, and wandering in sublime metaphysical visions, and allegorical reveries. We see much of this turn, in the writings of Plato and his followers; and it. is well known, that he stored his mind, and enlarged his imagination, by travel and study in Egypt. It is particularly said, that in Egypt were preserved the columns, on which Hermes is reported to have inscribed his learning; and that Pythagoras and Plato both read them, and took their philosophy from thence.t
An education in Egypt must also have predisposed a writer to genealogy, historical tradition, the origin of religious rites, and the detail of sacrifices, and pious ceremonies.— They were presented to him perpetually; they were appropriate to the style and manner of the people; they were grateful to the general taste, and interesting to the readers of the day. Accordingly, we find an abundance of such passages, not only in Apollonius, but in Callimachus, Lycophron, and other writers of the Egyptian Greek school.
It was a necessary result, too, from the circumstances of the country, and the character of the people, that the writers of the Egyptian school should have abounded in learning, and been fond of displaying it; for such was the tone and disposition of the people, and the time. All the accounts, which have been transmitted to us of the Egyptians, show, that, from the earliest ages, they pursued, and cultivated, with success, the
* An epitome of the Orphic Cosmogony, was made long ago, by Timotheus the geographer. See Universal
History, Vol. I. octavo edition. it See Ancient Universal History, title Egypt.
various branches of divine and human learning.-Geometry is agreed, on all hands, to have been first found out in Egypt. ---Arithmetic, also, was diligently cultivated; and it appears, from the writings of Diophantus, that a kind of algebra was, in later ages, known in that country. It is generally supposed, that astronomy, also, was an invention of the Egyptians, who, by reason of the constant serenity of the air, and the fatness of the country, might observe the heavenly motions earlier, and with more ease, than other people. To them, too, the science of physic is said to have owed its original; and anatomy was early cultivated by them, to which a knowledge of the custom of embalming contributed. , The Egyptians were also particularly famous, for the science of magic; which was reputed to have been invented by Hermes; and was professed by their priests, and sacred scribes:- Such was the general scientific turn of the nation; and it naturally produced a scholastic turn in its writers, sometimes, perhaps, bordering on pedantry. It produced, in readers, a degree of critical severity, a spirit of refinement, and fastidious accuracy of taste.
In addition to these circumstances, it is to be observed, that there were others, under the Ptolemies, that must have produced an extraordinary degree of refine. ment, in sentiment, language, and style. An unexampled degree of opulence, and refined luxury, a most extensive commerce, and an immense confluence of strangers, from all countries, to the capital-a magnificent court, where invention was perpetually employed, to carry splendour and elegance to a height superior to any thing the world had witnessed before, and which realised all the visions of the most sanguine fancy. A satiety of enjoyments produced a fastidiousness in pleasures. The mere sensual gratifications gave way to
intellectual enjoyments, courtly manners, a more noble and correct style of conversation, and a suitable diction prevailed.--The eye was more sensible of grace and beauty.-The ear was more awake to harmony. The tongue was refined, and attuned, to the most correct expressions, and the most melodious sounds; while, at the same time, the conceptions of the mind were ennobled, and raised above the trite and vulgar, the mean and gross.--Such effects we might naturally, ex. pect;--nor will these expectations be disappointed, in a perusal of the refined productions of the Alexandrine school. I hope the reader will excuse my dwelling so much on these circumstances; as a due consideration of them seemed to me necessary, for a right understanding of the peculiar genius and manner of Apollonius Rhodius. Let us now proceed, to apply the foregoing general observations, in a more particular manner, to the subject before us, by a brief review of the poem of our author.
But, before we commence this examination, it may not be amiss, to observe, that the Alexandrine poets were, in one respect, peculiarly circumstanced, and had an opportunity of drawing inspiration, from the highest and purest sources, from wells of poesy undefiled, even from the sacred scriptures. The translation of the Old Testament, which is commonly known by the name of the Septuagint, was executed, by the commands of Pto. lemy Philadelphus, under the directions of Demetrius Phalereus, as we are informed by Aristeas, who was an officer of the guards to this prince. There were great numbers of Jews resident * in Alexandria; and that
* According to this account, after Ptolemy Philadelphus had finished his fine library, and stored it, with
they were in a high degree of credit and estimation may be collected, from the circumstance, that one of their nation, Aristobulus, was advanced to the honourable and confidential trust of being preceptor to the future sovereign of the country.- Ptolemy Physcon.— Callimachus, and the other Alexandrine. poets, might have had access to the treasures of the sacred scriptures, through the medium of the Greek translation; and thus obtained an acquaintance with the poetical parts of the bible, which, from the sublime images, in which they abound, and the dark predictions, which they contain, are well calculated, to make an impression on the mind, and excite both a poetical spirit, and a certain mystical enthu. siasm.--Milton imbibed much of his poetical sublimity, from the sacred fountains of Hebrew poetry:- In every part of his two great poems, we trace the spirit of divine song. He himself exults in the aid he derived from these sources, and speaks of the inspiration arising from religious sentiment, and an acquaintance with the sacred volumes, in a pure enthusiasm of holy delight.
the most valuable books, he was told the Jews. had one, containing the laws of Moses, and the history of the people; and being desirous of a Greek translation of it, he applied to Eleazar, high-priest of the Jews; and to engage him to comply with this request, promised to set at liberty all the Jews, who had been imprisoned by his father Ptolemy Soter. Eleazar sent an exact copy of the Mosaic books, in letters of gold, and six elders from each tribe, in all seventy-two-who, under the inspection of Demetrius Phalereus, executed the translation, according to some accounts, of the Pentateuch; but, according to the generality of writers, of all the Old Testament.
" Muse, that on the secret top " Of Oreb or of Sinai, didst inspire 6. That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed, « In the beginning, "how the heav'ns and earth “ Rose out of chaos. Or if Sion hill..
s Delight thee more, or Siloa's brook, that flow'd . “ Fast by the oracle of God.”
* Taught by the heavenly muse, to venture down ,'*. The dark descent."
“ Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
" Thou, celestial light, “ Shine inward.”“O for that warning voice, which he who saw, “ Th’apocalypse heard cry in Heav'n aloud.”-" Descend from Heav'n, Urania, by that name, “ If rightly thou art call'd, whose voice divine, * Following, above th’Olympian hill I soar'd, “ Above the flight of Pegaseian wing“ The meaning, not the name, I call for thou. “ Nor of the muses nine, nor on the top
“ Of cold Olympus dwell'st, but heavenly born,” &c. . I could with pleasure multiply instances, for it is a delightful task to quote Milton, but, probably, it is unnecessary to quote any passage to illustrate what is generally known.-Milton, as will be seen hereafter, had a marked predilection for the writings of the Alexandrine school. Their works resembled his, in the hallowed majesty, the pious enthusiasm, the sublime spirit of devotion, the awful solemnity, and mysterious dignity they breathed. They added the fervour of religion to the rapture of poetical imagination. It is probable,