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Chapter 182 - The leader recounts his journey to Memphis.
182,1. I ask the leader further: “Where did you get this quite valuable education?”
182,2. Oubratouvishar says: “About ten years ago I and my personal man-servant followed the Nile, accompanied by another twenty of our strongest helpers leading a good herd of cattle as anyone travelling in that region must take along a healthy herd as he might otherwise perish on the way. Figs and dates do not grow everywhere, only on good and fertile ground. However there is no shortage of grass along the Nile and the traveller therefore always has a nourishing supply of cows’ milk, which adds flavour to any meal .
182,3. Thus equipped, it was ten years or ten rainy seasons ago, that we tried to make a trip downstream, as I have said. For a few days we made good progress without any problems; but on the third day we began to hear a mighty thundering noise some distance away. We hurried onward and after the length of time it takes to count to a thousand, we came to the first cataract on the Nile. There we had little prospect of further progress. One of our best climbers reached the top of a high rock to investigate the whole area. When he came back down, he described a possible route to me which went some distance away to the left of the Nile but returned to its bank further downstream. I decided to follow this route. There was certainly no lack of rocks and other obstacles on this detour. It was evening, although the heat was still intense, before we finally arrived at an oasis overgrown with an abundance of palms and papyrus trees with a gushing spring at its centre which we and our herds appreciated a great deal. Here we rested for a full day.
182,4. On the second day we broke camp again at the first crack of dawn and continued our journey. By sunrise we had again reached the Nile and had come to a wide road we had never seen before which we than followed and within half a day we were close to the city, which our grandparents had told us so much about. About two-thousand paces outside the city we set up camp. I and my servant did however ride into the city to request permission to camp near the city with our essential herds of cattle.
182,5. When my servant and I reached the city, we were surrounded by a crowd of very brown-skinned people who asked me who I was and where I came from. Others immediately guessed and said: ‘Thot e Noubiez!” (This is a Nubian!), and I replied: ‘Yes, I am a Nubian and I want to gain experience and learn a variety of good and beautiful things from you perfect people!’
182,6. These inquisitive people then send an old man to me, who questioned me in great detail about many things and finally even went with us to our camp. It was only then that he revealed himself completely and told us that he was the high priest of the city and, at the same time, a proconsul appointed by Rome to rule the city and the wide surrounding area. I immediately gave him a gift of seven of the best cows, two bulls and twenty of our sheep with the finest wool.
182,7. This gesture made the old man very well disposed to us and he said to me: ‘Our long established, pure wisdom will be very useful to you! But do not take up any of our totally decadent customs as they are worse than appalling! This city was once the pride of the region, a fact which is still very clearly expressed in its name: Memavise (Greek: Memphis) which means ‘has the highest name’; now this nameless ‘highest’ is only a widespread rubbish heap, as you will soon easily convince yourselves!
182,8. The people who still live here do not have any belief left in a supreme Godhead on the one hand and on the other, they are immersed in the most profound superstition from which they can never be freed. There are only a few of us who still maintain the long-established, truthful recognition that there is a unique, everlasting, true God. The people, blind and stupid, believe in a few thousand gods. They offer god-like reverence even to animals and their corpses and that we have to accept that.
182,9. It is most probable that our ancestors planted the seed in that they paid some animals, because of their usefulness, a kind of respect almost as demi-gods, a policy designed to encourage the people to tend these useful farm and domestic animals in the best way. In so doing, the elders of course only intended to illustrate to their as yet very primitive subjects the variety of ways in which divine love and wisdom are disseminated in nature. In time however this people appeared to become more honourable the more they regressed into the past and becoming enveloped in an aura of divinity. Evil and unscrupulous so-called teachers had an easy task to ascribe some divinity to every event in primordial history in order to immerse their blind underlings as deeply as possible in the darkest superstition.
182,10. Therefore take great care, honest Nubians, and only accept what you will hear from me as being a correct version of the truth. Reject everything you see and hear from the common people as it is worse than very unreliable! You will see them making sacrifices and performing all kinds of empty rituals. Yes, it is true that on great festive occasions you will even see me standing at the front holding shining ornate objects. Do not be deceived by that as only my outer skin is involved with all that. My inner being is and always will be devoted to the one, everlasting, uniquely true God, whose love is my life and whose light is my true knowledge and cognition.
182,11. You and your servant shall come on foot with me to my residence in the city, where I will give you all the necessary instructions as to how you and your companions should conduct yourselves here. I will also show you the best place to camp with your herds in a spot where you as foreigners can stay for a full year without being disturbed by anyone. However, you and your servant will stay with me so that I can instruct you in many things.’
182,12. I said: ‘Noble lord! Will you allow us to bring the gift which you graciously accepted from me and deliver it to you in the city?’
182,13. This truly good proconsul then said in a loving and friendly manner: ‘Not now, but in three days’ time, when you have moved to the new location! However, there you will have to wear shoes on your feet, as is our custom, because at night there are many little insects and worms which creep around on the sandy grass-covered earth, enter your skin beneath the toenails and can in time cause great pain. In my house I will provide you with these as best I can as I have a number of servants, attendants and slaves.’
182,14. My servant and I went with the commander into the large city. After walking some four thousand paces we came to a large open square which was surrounded by impressive large buildings made from dressed square ashlars. A few of these large buildings had already been considerably damaged, but many were still well maintained. One was designed with many columns and inside the widely spaced long colonnades one could see all kinds of gigantic statues. The columns were also decorated with many devices and inscriptions, which the commander often explained to me afterwards. Next to the hall of columns there was an extremely large palace in which there was much lively activity.
182,15. Our host said: ‘See, this is my house; just come in and look at all the things it contains’
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