The collection of old coins in this Museum, is, I believe, the finest in the world, and the cabinets of ancient gems and crystals are exceedingly beautiful. Then there is the library of papyri rolls found at Herculaneum, and a perfect model of the city of Pompeii.
Surgery was not very highly developed, but the knife and actual cautery were freely used. Ophthalmic surgery was practiced by specialists, and there are many prescriptions in the papyri for ophthalmia. One department of Egyptian medicine reached a high stage of development, vis., hygiene.
The hieratic characters presented a flowing and abbreviated form of the hieroglyphic, and were used more particularly in the papyri. The great body of Egyptian literature has reached us through this character, the reading of which can only be determined by resolving it into its prototype, hieroglyphics.
In English homes are the friendships of generations and beneath their spreading trees their lives epitomise the lotus eater's religion "There is no joy but calm." Our women know neither the one nor the other. Our social creed and dogma know nothing of friendship, and calm to them is as Greek papyri in a kindergarten.
The present translation is, however, a fresh one made by Mr. Griffith word for word, and shaped as little as possible by myself in editing it. The copy followed is the publication by Birch in "Select Papyri," part ii. pls. ix. to xix. Before considering the details of the story, we should notice an important question about its age and composition.
Bronze figures if good work, inches high squared = shillings: except in bad state, or Osiris, or bad clumsy work, or votive animals. Papyri or parchment, continuous text, 1 pound a square foot, accounts, half or a third. Jewellery, between weight in coin and double that, according to work. Scarabs, common but fair 2s., names 2s.-5s.; up to 5 pounds or 10 pounds if beautiful.
In the great illustrated papyri of the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties we find, however, that notwithstanding the fact that a large number of sins, which the deceased declares he has not committed, are mentioned in the Introduction, the scribes and artists added a series of negative statements, forty-two in number, which they set out in a tabular form.
He had gained the information which he required from the papyri, and it only remained to write it down while it was still fresh in his memory. For a time his pencil travelled rapidly over the paper, but soon the lines became less level, the words more blurred, and finally the pencil tinkled down upon the floor, and the head of the student dropped heavily forward upon his chest.
The pouch hanging from his shoulder held papyri testifying to his past achievements; tablets for memoranda; even pincers for extracting his beard; a comb; all the small objects of which a good Greek, addicted to the scrupulous care of his person, would not deprive himself, but search in it as he might he could find not a single obolus.
For instance, to go back as far as possible, the study and labour expended on Egyptian inscriptions and papyri, which contain nothing but doubtful, because laudatory history, invocations to idols, and similar matters: all these labours are in vain. Take a broom and sweep the papyri away into the dust.