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A History of Art for Beginners and Students

Before the Temple of Luxor stood Colossi



[Illustration: FIG. 9.--PALM CAPITAL.]

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--PILLAR FROM SEDINGA.]

The whole impression of grandeur made by the Temple of Karnak was increased by the fact that the Temple of Luxor, which is not far away, is also very impressive and beautiful, and was formerly connected with Karnak by an avenue bordered on each side with a row of sphinxes cut out of stone. These were a kind of statue which belonged to Egyptian art, and originated in an Egyptian idea, although a resemblance to it exists in the art of other ancient countries (Fig. 11).

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--THE GREAT SPHINX.]

Before the Temple of Luxor stood Colossi, or enormous statues, of Rameses the Great, who built the temple, and not far distant were two fine obelisks, one of which is now in Paris.

There was much irregularity in the lines and plan of Egyptian palaces and temples. It often happens that the side walls of an apartment or court-yard are not at right angles; the pillars were placed so irregularly and the decorations so little governed by any rule in their arrangement, that it seems as if the Egyptians were intentionally regardless of symmetry and regularity.

The whole effect of the ancient Thebes can scarcely be imagined;

its grandeur was much increased by the fact that its splendid buildings were on both banks of the Nile, which river flowed slowly and majestically by, as if it borrowed a sort of dignity from the splendid piles which it reflected, and which those who sailed upon its bosom regarded with awe and admiration. There are many other places on the Nile where one sees wonderful ruins of ancient edifices, but we have not space to describe or even to name them, and Thebes is the most remarkable of all.

"Thebes, hearing still the Memnon's mystic tones, Where Egypt's earliest monarchs reared their thrones, Favored of Jove! the hundred-gated queen, Though fallen, grand; though desolate, serene; The blood with awe runs coldly through our veins As we approach her far-spread, vast remains. Forests of pillars crown old Nilus' side, Obelisks to heaven high lift their sculptured pride; Rows of dark sphinxes, sweeping far away, Lead to proud fanes and tombs august as they. Colossal chiefs in granite sit around, As wrapped in thought, or sunk in grief profound.

"The mighty columns ranged in long array, The statues fresh as chiselled yesterday, We scarce can think two thousand years have flown Since in proud Thebes a Pharaoh's grandeur shone, But in yon marble court or sphinx-lined street, Some moving pageant half expect to meet, See great Sesostris, come from distant war, Kings linked in chains to drag his ivory car; Or view that bright procession sweeping on, To meet at Memphis far-famed Solomon, When, borne by Love, he crossed the Syrian wild, To wed the Pharaoh's blooming child."

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