---- MYTH ----
texts related to Mythology
in the Miskatonic University Library
The following is an excerpt from a treatise, published in 1797, in which the Abbot of Tressan researches and sets down the mythologies and legends of Europe and the Middle East.
There is also an Egyptian story which is part of the tradition which produced the magical and alchemical works which have been attributed to the Egyptian god Thoth and his Greek incarnation, Hermes Trimegistus.  "Princess Ahura" from The Magic Book, c. 1100 BCE.  The story can be found at the Ancient History Internet Sourcebook HERE.  A local copy has be stored in case there is difficulty with the link or should the file be moved or removed.  The local link is to the MU Library copy HERE.





Printed for T. Cadell, Jun. and W. Davies, in the Strand,

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The ancients reckoned fuch a number of Mercuries, whofe reployments were fo widely dif-ferent, that to avoid confuftion we muft recur to hiftory.
     From that we learn that the number muft be re-duced to two; the moft ancient of which was the Thaut, or Thot, of the Egyptians, contemporary of Ofiris. The fecond, according to Hefiod, was son to Jupiter and Maia, daughter of Atlas.  We meet with no perfon in antiquity more celebrated that the Mercury of the Egyptians.  He


was the foul council of Ofiris, who, on his departure for the conqueft of India, left him with Ifis, whom he had appointed regent of his domi-nions; confidering him as the man moft capable of affifting her in the difcharge of that office.  To Mercury the Egyptians were indebted for the flourifhing ftate of their arts and commerce.  Engaged in the ftudy of the moft fublime fceinces, by his extenfive knowledge of geometry, he tught the Egyptians how to diftinguifh their lands; whofe limites were frequently deftroyed by the inundations of the Nile.  He was the inesntor by of hieroglyphick characters, which afterwards ferved to perpetuate the memory of their religion and myfteries. 
     Diodorus Siculus agrees with Hefiod as to the confidence repofed in him by the great Ofiris, and adds, that the reformed and reduced to exact rules the Egyptian tongue, fubftituting it for the rude uncertain dialects before made ufe of. 
    He gave names to things which till then had none; firft invented letters, and regulated even the harmony of words and phrafes.
     After haing eftablifhed the rites of facrifice and religious worfhip; he imparted his knowledge of aftronomy to others.  He was the inventor of the lyre, which had originally but three ftrings, bafe, tenor, and treble.  He firft practifed elocu-tion and interpretation, which afterwards procured


him the name Hermes.  To him the Egyptians afcribed the difcovery of the olive.  he likewife eftablifhed the cuftom of wreftling and dancing, which give ftrength to the body, and grace to the motions.
     The number of books which he left are reckoned fourty-two, and nothing could equal the veneration in which they were held by the Egyptians.
     Some authors attribute part of them to the fecond Egyptian Mercury, furnamed Trifmegiftus' but their proofs are very dubious. 
     Thefe celebrated books have long been loft; it is only know that the firft thirty-fix contained the whole of the Egyptian philofophy, and that the laft fix treatd of medicine, furgery, and anatomy.  This is all that is tranfmitted to us of the moft ancient of the Mercuries.
     The fecond Mercury, fon of Jupiter and Maia, acquired great reputation among the Titan Princes. 
     After the death of his father, Italy, Gaul, and Spain, fell to his lot; but he was not abfolute fove-reign of them till the death of his uncle Pluto.
     This prince poffeffing great talents, great ad-drefs, and even great fublety, travelled into Egypt to acquire a knowledge of the fciences and cuftoms of that country.  He there learned magic in particular, which was then much in ufe.
     He was confulted by the Titans his relatioons as


an augur, which gae occafion to the poets to de-fcribe him as interpreter of the will of the gods.
     In this excurfion into Egypt he obtained initia-tion into all their myfteries. The ufe which Jupiter made of his addrefs and eloquence made him regarded as the meffenger of the gods; and his fuccefs in feveral treaties of peace procured him the appelation of God of Peace.  he contri-buted greatly to civilize the manners, and cultivate the minds of people.  he united them by commerce and good laws; but the great defects which accompanied his extraordinary abilities in-volved him in a war with the other chidren of Jupiter, in which he was vanquifhed; and return-ing into Egypt ended his days there.
     This Mercury of the Greeks was generally re-garded as the inventor of the fine arts.
     The Gauls honoured him uner the name of Teutates, and offered to him human victims.


     Mercury, fon to Jupiter and Maia, daughter of Atlas, had the moft active employ-ment of any of the celeftial deities.  The confi-dant and meffenger of the other gods, he was


charged with all their commiffions; upon him depended peace and war; he prefided at their affemblies, heard and infpired their harangues, anfwered them, and in fhort was principal minifter of the gods.
    To exprefs the celerity with whcih he per-formed fo many fuctions, he is reprefented with wings to his head and feet.  The latter are called Talaria.
     To defcribe his talents for negociating peace, his has the caduceam in his hand; (a fpecies of want with two serpents twifted round it.)  This caduceum was the fymbol of peace.  It is faid that mercury one day finding two fnakes which were fighting, feparated them, or rather cecon-ciled them with his wand, and from that time, when negociating peace, he carried this symbol of reconciliation.
     It was in honour of Mercury, that negociators for peace afterwards carried the caduceum, and called themfelves Caduciators.  When Mercury was prprefented with a finple wand, he wa fupofed to be conducting departed fpirits tot he infernal regions.  it was thought he alone had the power of feparating with this wand the foul from the body.  He prefided over tranfmigration, and transfufed into different bodies thofe fouls which had remained their deftined time in the dominions of Pluto.  he was reprefented with a chain of 


gold proceeding from his mouth, which was faftened to the ears of his auditors.  A lively image to defcribe the influence of his eloquence over the mind.
     His ftatues were placed in the highway, to point out the road to travellers.  The Romans fome-times joined thefe ftatues to the back of thofe of the other gods.  Thofe which were plced be-hind Menerva, were called Hermathenea; thofe which were joined to Cupid, Hermerotes, &c.
     He wasc alled [sic] Mercury from mercatura, Commerce; over which he prefided.  But as he was likewife fufpected of counternancing knavery, he was confidered as the god of thieves; and his adventure with Battus proves, that he would occafionally practife this art himfelf.
     One day feeing Apollo attending the flocks of Admetus, he ftole fome of his cattle, but was per-ceived by Battus.
     Mercury, to filence him, and engage him to fecrecy, gave him a fine cow; but fufpecting his fincerity, he went away, and returned foon after under another form; queftioned Battus concerning the theft, and promifed him an ox and a cow if he would difcover the robber.  Tempted by fo dazzling an offer, the unlucky Battus difclofed the fecret, and mercury immediately making him-felf known, changed him into a touch-ftone.  This


able originated in the circumftance of Battus having firft difcovered the properties of that ftone by which metals are tried.
     Mercury was ftyled the three-headed god, from his power in heaven, in earth, and in hell; or according to fome poets, becaufe he had three daughters by Hecate.  He was called Cyllenius from the mountain Cyllenus where he was born; Nomius from being the inventor of laws; Camillus from ferving the gods (this name was after-wards given to thofe who officiated in facrifices) and Vialis, becaufe he prefided over the high-ways; on which occafion his ftatues had neither hands nor feet, being what are now called bufts.
     Mercury was the inventor of weights and meafures, which by facilitating retail trade, increafed the profits of commerce.
     The lyre was alfo of his invention; it was called by the Romans teftudo, tortoife; be-caufe it was originally formed of the fhell of that animal.
     Some poets fay, that he gave it to Apollo in exchange for the caduceus.
     In his facrifices they burnt the tongues of vic-tims in honour of him, as being the god of elo-quence.  They ufed to place his ftatue before their door, in hopes he would defend them from thieves, whofe patron he was fuppofed to be.



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