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Mazes and Labyrinths


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Author Topic: Mazes and Labyrinths  (Read 2192 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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« on: March 18, 2009, 03:13:48 pm »

years, of which he spent a considerable number in travelling about over most of the then known world. Those who are fortunate enough to be able to read his works in their original tongue are charmed by their freshness, simplicity, and harmonious rhythm, but those who look to him for accurate information on any but contemporary events or matters with which he was personally acquainted are apt to find a rather too credulous acceptance of the wonderful. No doubt the poetical instinct in Herodotus was stronger than the critical spirit of the true historian, but, so far as the records of his personal observations are concerned, there seems to be no reason to accuse him of gross exaggeration.

The Labyrinth of Egypt he himself visited, as he tells us in his second book, and seems to have been consider-ably impressed by it. After describing how the Egyptians divided the land into twelve parts, or nomes, and set a king over each, he says that they agreed to combine together to leave a memorial of themselves. They then constructed the Labyrinth, just above Lake Moeris, and nearly opposite the city of crocodiles (Crocodilopolis). "I found it," he says, "greater than words could tell, for, although the temple at Ephesus and that at Samos are celebrated works, yet all of the works and buildings of the Greeks put together would certainly be inferior to this labyrinth as regards labour and expense." Even the pyramids, he tells us, were surpassed by the Labyrinth. "It has twelve covered courts, with opposite doors, six courts on the North side and six on the South, all communicating with one another and with one wall surrounding them all. There are two sorts of rooms, one sort above, the other sort below ground, fifteen hundred of each sort, or three thousand in all." He says that he was allowed to pass through the upper rooms only, the lower range being strictly guarded from visitors, as they contained the tombs of the kings who had built the Labyrinth, also the tombs of the sacred crocodiles.

p. 8

The upper rooms he describes as being of super-human size, and the system of passages through the courts, rooms, and colonnades very intricate and bewildering. The roof of the whole affair, he says, is of stone and the walls are covered with carvings. Each of the courts is surrounded by columns of white stone, perfectly joined. Outside the Labyrinth, and at one corner of it, is a pyramid about 240 feet in height, with huge figures carved upon it and approached by an underground passage.

Herodotus expresses even greater admiration, however, for the lake beside the Labyrinth, which he describes as being of vast size and artificially constructed, having two pyramids arising from its bed, each supporting a colossal seated statue. The water for the lake, he says, is brought from the Nile by a canal.

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