UARDA - VOLUME 1.
UARDA - VOLUME 1.
A ROMANCE OF ANCIENT EGYPT
Translated from the German by Clara Bell
Thou knowest well from what this book arose.
When suffering seized and held me in its clasp
Thy fostering hand released me from its grasp
And from amid the thorns there bloomed a rose.
Air dew and sunshine were bestowed by Thee
And Thine it is; without these lines from me.
In the winter of 1873 I spent some weeks in one of the tombs of the
Necropolis of Thebes in order to study the monuments of that solemn city
of the dead; and during my long rides in the silent desert the germ was
developed whence this book has since grown. The leisure of mind and body
required to write it was given me through a long but not disabling
In the first instance I intended to elucidate this story--like my
"Egyptian Princess"--with numerous and extensive notes placed at the end;
but I was led to give up this plan from finding that it would lead me to
the repetition of much that I had written in the notes to that earlier
The numerous notes to the former novel had a threefold purpose. In the
first place they served to explain the text; in the second they were a
guarantee of the care with which I had striven to depict the
archaeological details in all their individuality from the records of the
monuments and of Classic Authors; and thirdly I hoped to supply the
reader who desired further knowledge of the period with some guide to his
In the present work I shall venture to content myself with the simple
statement that I have introduced nothing as proper to Egypt and to the
period of Rameses that cannot be proved by some authority; the numerous
monuments which have descended to us from the time of the Rameses in
fact enable the enquirer to understand much of the aspect and arrangement
of Egyptian life and to follow it step try step through the details of
religious public and private life even of particular individuals. The
same remark cannot be made in regard to their mental life and here many
an anachronism will slip in many things will appear modern and show the
coloring of the Christian mode of thought.
Every part of this book is intelligible without the aid of notes; but
for the reader who seeks for further enlightenment I have added some
foot-notes and have not neglected to mention such works as afford more
detailed information on the subjects mentioned in the narrative.
The reader who wishes to follow the mind of the author in this work
should not trouble himself with the notes as he reads but merely at the
beginning of each chapter read over the notes which belong to the
foregoing one. Every glance at the foot-notes must necessarily disturb
and injure the development of the tale as a work of art. The story
stands here as it flowed from one fount and was supplied with notes only
after its completion.
A narrative of Herodotus combined with the Epos of Pentaur of which so
many copies have been handed down to us forms the foundation of the
The treason of the Regent related by the Father of history is referable
perhaps to the reign of the third and not of the second Rameses. But it
is by no means certain that the Halicarnassian writer was in this case
misinformed; and in this fiction no history will be inculcated only as a
background shall I offer a sketch of the time of Sesostris from a
picturesque point of view but with the nearest possible approach to
truth. It is true that to this end nothing has been neglected that could
be learnt from the monuments or the papyri; still the book is only a
romance a poetic fiction in which I wish all the facts derived from
history and all the costume drawn from the monuments to be regarded as
incidental and the emotions of the actors in the story as what I attach
But I must be allowed to make one observation. From studying the
conventional mode of execution of ancient Egyptian art--which was
strictly subject to the hieratic laws of type and proportion--we have
accustomed ourselves to imagine the inhabitants of the Nile-valley in the
time of the Pharaohs as tall and haggard men with little distinction of
individual physiognomy and recently a great painter has sought to
represent them under this aspect in a modern picture. This is an error;
the Egyptians in spite of their aversion to foreigners and their strong
attachment to their native soil were one of the most intellectual and
active people of antiquity; and he who would represent them as they
lived and to that end copies the forms which remain painted on the walls
of the temples and sepulchres is the accomplice of those priestly
corrupters of art who compelled the painters and sculptors of the
Pharaonic era to abandon truth to nature in favor of their sacred laws of
He who desires to paint the ancient Egyptians with truth and fidelity
must regard it in some sort as an act of enfranchisement; that is to say
he must release the conventional forms from those fetters which were
peculiar to their art and altogether foreign to their real life. Indeed
works of sculpture remain to us of the time of the first pyramid which
represent men with the truth of nature unfettered by the sacred canon.
We can recall the so-called "Village Judge" of Bulaq the "Scribe" now in
Paris and a few figures in bronze in different museums as well as the
noble and characteristic busts of all epochs which amply prove how great
the variety of individual physiognomy and with that of individual
character was among the Egyptians. Alma Tadelna in London and Gustav
Richter in Berlin have as painters treated Egyptian subjects in a
manner which the poet recognizes and accepts with delight.
Many earlier witnesses than the late writer Flavius Vopiscus might be
referred to who show us the Egyptians as an industrious and peaceful
people passionately devoted it is true to all that pertains to the other
world but also enjoying the gifts of life to the fullest extent nay
sometimes to excess.
Real men such as we see around us in actual life not silhouettes
constructed to the old priestly scale such as the monuments show us--real
living men dwelt by the old Nile-stream; and the poet who would represent
them must courageously seize on types out of the daily life of modern men
that surround him without fear of deviating too far from reality and
placing them in their own long past time color them only and clothe them
to correspond with it.
I have discussed the authorities for the conception of love which I have
ascribed to the ancients in the preface to the second edition of "An
With these lines I send Uarda into the world; and in them I add my thanks
to those dear friends in whose beautiful home embowered in green bird-
haunted woods I have so often refreshed my spirit and recovered my
strength where I now write the last words of this book.
Rheinbollerhutte September 22 1876.
TO THE FIFTH GERMAN EDITION.
The earlier editions of "Uarda" were published in such rapid succession
that no extensive changes in the stereotyped text could be made; but from
the first issue I have not ceased to correct it and can now present to
the public this new fifth edition as a "revised" one.
Having felt a constantly increasing affection for "Uarda" during the time
I was writing the friendly and comprehensive attention bestowed upon it
by our greatest critics and the favorable reception it met with in the
various classes of society afforded me the utmost pleasure.
I owe the most sincere gratitude to the honored gentlemen who called my
attention to certain errors and among them will name particularly
Professor Paul Ascherson of Berlin and Dr. C. Rohrbach of Gotha. Both
will find their remarks regarding mistakes in the geographical location
of plants heeded in this new edition.
The notes after mature deliberation have been placed at the foot of the
pages instead of at the end of the book.
So many criticisms concerning the title "Uarda" have recently reached my
ears that rather by way of explanation than apology I will here repeat
what I said in the preface to the third edition.
This title has its own history and the more difficult it would be for me
to defend it the more ready I am to allow an advocate to speak for me
an advocate who bears a name no less distinguished than that of G. E.
Lessing who says:
"Nanine? (by Voltaire 1749). What sort of title is that? What
thoughts does it awake? Neither more nor less than a title should
arouse. A title must not be a bill of fare. The less it betrays of the
contents the better it is. Author and spectator are both satisfied and
the ancients rarely gave their comedies anything but insignificant
This may be the case with "Uarda" whose character is less prominent than
some others it is true but whose sorrows direct the destinies of my
other heroes and heroines.
Why should I conceal the fact? The character of "Uarda" and the present
story have grown out of the memory of a Fellah girl half child half
maiden whom I saw suffer and die in a hut at Abu el Qurnah in the
Necropolis of Thebes.
I still persist in the conviction I have so frequently expressed the
conviction that the fundamental traits of the life of the soul have
undergone very trivial modifications among civilized nations in all times
and ages but will endeavor to explain the contrary opinion held by my
opponents by calling attention to the circumstance that the expression
of these emotions show considerable variations among different peoples
and at different epochs. I believe that Juvenal one of the ancient
writers who best understood human nature was right in saying:
"Nil erit ulterius quod nostris moribus addat
Posteritas: eadem cupient facientque minores."
Leipsic October 15th 1877.
U A R D A.
By the walls of Thebes--the old city of a hundred gates--the Nile spreads
to a broad river; the heights which follow the stream on both sides
here take a more decided outline; solitary almost cone-shaped peaks
stand out sharply from the level background of the many-colored.
limestone hills on which no palm-tree flourishes and in which no humble
desert-plant can strike root. Rocky crevasses and gorges cut more or
less deeply into the mountain range and up to its ridge extends the
desert destructive of all life with sand and stones with rocky cliffs
and reef-like desert hills.
Behind the eastern range the desert spreads to the Red Sea; behind the
western it stretches without limit into infinity. In the belief of the
Egyptians beyond it lay the region of the dead.
Between these two ranges of hills which serve as walls or ramparts to
keep back the desert-sand flows the fresh and bounteous Nile bestowing
blessing and abundance; at once the father and the cradle of millions of
beings. On each shore spreads the wide plain of black and fruitful soil
and in the depths many-shaped creatures in coats of mail or scales
swarm and find subsistence.
The lotos floats on the mirror of the waters and among the papyrus reeds
by the shore water-fowl innumerable build their nests. Between the river
and the mountain-range lie fields which after the seed-time are of a
shining blue-green and towards the time of harvest glow like gold. Near
the brooks and water-wheels here and there stands a shady sycamore; and
date-palms carefully tended group themselves in groves. The fruitful
plain watered and manured every year by the inundation lies at the foot
of the sandy desert-hills behind it and stands out like a garden flower-
bed from the gravel-path.
In the fourteenth century before Christ--for to so remote a date we must
direct the thoughts of the reader--impassable limits had been set by the
hand of man in many places in Thebes to the inroads of the water; high
dykes of stone and embankments protected the streets and squares the
temples and the palaces from the overflow.
Canals that could be tightly closed up led from the dykes to the land
within and smaller branch-cuttings to the gardens of Thebes.
On the right the eastern bank of the Nile rose the buildings of the
far-famed residence of the Pharaohs. Close by the river stood the
immense and gaudy Temples of the city of Amon; behind these and at a
short distance from the Eastern hills--indeed at their very foot and
partly even on the soil of the desert--were the palaces of the King and
nobles and the shady streets in which the high narrow houses of the
citizens stood in close rows.
Life was gay and busy in the streets of the capital of the Pharaohs.
The western shore of the Nile showed a quite different scene. Here too
there was no lack of stately buildings or thronging men; but while on the
farther side of the river there was a compact mass of houses and the
citizens went cheerfully and openly about their day's work on this side
there were solitary splendid structures round which little houses and
huts seemed to cling as children cling to the protection of a mother.
And these buildings lay in detached groups.
Any one climbing the hill and looking down would form the notion that
there lay below him a number of neighboring villages each with its
lordly manor house. Looking from the plain up to the precipice of the
western hills hundreds of closed portals could be seen some solitary
others closely ranged in rows; a great number of them towards the foot of
the slope yet more half-way up and a few at a considerable height.
And even more dissimilar were the slow-moving solemn groups in the
roadways on this side and the cheerful confused throng yonder. There
on the eastern shore all were in eager pursuit of labor or recreation
stirred by pleasure or by grief active in deed and speech; here in the
west little was spoken a spell seemed to check the footstep of the
wanderer a pale hand to sadden the bright glance of every eye and to
banish the smile from every lip.
And yet many a gaily-dressed bark stopped at the shore there was no lack
of minstrel bands grand processions passed on to the western heights;
but the Nile boats bore the dead the songs sung here were songs of
lamentation and the processions consisted of mourners following the
We are standing on the soil of the City of the Dead of Thebes.
Nevertheless even here nothing is wanting for return and revival for to
the Egyptian his dead died not. He closed his eyes he bore him to the
Necropolis to the house of the embalmer or Kolchytes and then to the
grave; but he knew that the souls of the departed lived on; that the
justified absorbed into Osiris floated over the Heavens in the vessel of
the Sun; that they appeared on earth in the form they choose to take upon
them and that they might exert influence on the current of the lives of
the survivors. So he took care to give a worthy interment to his dead
above all to have the body embalmed so as to endure long: and had fixed
times to bring fresh offerings for the dead of flesh and fowl with
drink-offerings and sweet-smelling essences and vegetables and flowers.
Neither at the obsequies nor at the offerings might the ministers of the
gods be absent and the silent City of the Dead was regarded as a favored
sanctuary in which to establish schools and dwellings for the learned.
So it came to pass that in the temples and on the site Of the Necropolis
large communities of priests dwelt together and close to the extensive
embalming houses lived numerous Kolchytes who handed down the secrets of
their art from father to son.
Besides these there were other manufactories and shops. In the former
sarcophagi of stone and of wood linen bands for enveloping mummies and
amulets for decorating them were made; in the latter merchants kept
spices and essences flowers fruits vegetables and pastry for sale.
Calves gazelles goats geese and other fowl were fed on enclosed
meadow-plats and the mourners betook themselves thither to select what
they needed from among the beasts pronounced by the priests to be clean
for sacrifice and to have them sealed with the sacred seal. Many bought
only part of a victim at the shambles--the poor could not even do this.
They bought only colored cakes in the shape of beasts which symbolically
took the place of the calves and geese which their means were unable to
procure. In the handsomest shops sat servants of the priests who
received forms written on rolls of papyrus which were filled up in the
writing room of the temple with those sacred verses which the departed
spirit must know and repeat to ward off the evil genius of the deep to
open the gate of the under world and to be held righteous before Osiris
and the forty-two assessors of the subterranean court of justice.
What took place within the temples was concealed from view for each was
surrounded by a high enclosing wall with lofty carefully-closed portals
which were only opened when a chorus of priests came out to sing a pious
hymn in the morning to Horus the rising god and in the evening to Tum
the descending god.
[The course of the Sun was compared to that of the life of Man.
He rose as the child Horns grew by midday to the hero Ra who
conquered the Uraeus snake for his diadem and by evening was an old
Man Tum. Light had been born of darkness hence Tum was regarded
as older than Horns and the other gods of light.]
As soon as the evening hymn of the priests was heard the Necropolis was
deserted for the mourners and those who were visiting the graves were
required by this time to return to their boats and to quit the City of
the Dead. Crowds of men who had marched in the processions of the west
bank hastened in disorder to the shore driven on by the body of watchmen
who took it in turns to do this duty and to protect the graves against
robbers. The merchants closed their booths the embalmers and workmen
ended their day's work and retired to their houses the priests returned
to the temples and the inns were filled with guests who had come hither
on long pilgrimages from a distance and who preferred passing the night
in the vicinity of the dead whom they had come to visit to going across
to the bustling noisy city farther shore.
The voices of the singers and of the wailing women were hushed even the
song of the sailors on the numberless ferry boats from the western shore
to Thebes died away its faint echo was now and then borne across on the
evening air and at last all was still.
A cloudless sky spread over the silent City of the Dead now and then
darkened for an instant by the swiftly passing shade of a bat returning
to its home in a cave or cleft of the rock after flying the whole evening
near the Nile to catch flies to drink and so prepare itself for the
next day's sleep. From time to time black forms with long shadows
glided over the still illuminated plain--the jackals who at this hour
frequented the shore to slake their thirst and often fearlessly showed
themselves in troops in the vicinity of the pens of geese and goats.
It was forbidden to hunt these robbers as they were accounted sacred to
the god Anubis the tutelary of sepulchres; and indeed they did little
mischief for they found abundant food in the tombs.
[The jackal-headed god Anubis was the son of Osiris and Nephthys
and the jackal was sacred to him. In the earliest ages even he is
prominent in the nether world. He conducts the mummifying process
preserves the corpse guards the Necropolis and as Hermes
Psychopompos (Hermanubis) opens the way for the souls. According
to Plutarch "He is the watch of the gods as the dog is the watch of
The remnants of the meat offerings from the altars were consumed by them;
to the perfect satisfaction of the devotees who when they found that by
the following day the meat had disappeared believed that it had been
accepted and taken away by the spirits of the underworld.
They also did the duty of trusty watchers for they were a dangerous foe
for any intruder who under the shadow of the night might attempt to
violate a grave.
Thus--on that summer evening of the year 1352 B.C. when we invite the
reader to accompany us to the Necropolis of Thebes--after the priests'
hymn had died away all was still in the City of the Dead.
The soldiers on guard were already returning from their first round when
suddenly on the north side of the Necropolis a dog barked loudly; soon
a second took up the cry a third a fourth. The captain of the watch
called to his men to halt and as the cry of the dogs spread and grew
louder every minute commanded them to march towards the north.
The little troop had reached the high dyke which divided the west bank of
the Nile from a branch canal and looked from thence over the plain as
far as the river and to the north of the Necropolis. Once more the word
to "halt" was given and as the guard perceived the glare of torches in
the direction where the dogs were barking loudest they hurried forward
and came up with the author of the disturbance near the Pylon of the
temple erected by Seti I. the deceased father of the reigning King
[The two pyramidal towers joined by a gateway which formed the
entrance to an Egyptian temple were called the Pylon.]
The moon was up and her pale light flooded the stately structure while
the walls glowed with the ruddy smoky light of the torches which flared
in the hands of black attendants.
A man of sturdy build in sumptuous dress was knocking at the brass-
covered temple door with the metal handle of a whip so violently that
the blows rang far and loud through the night. Near him stood a litter
and a chariot to which were harnessed two fine horses. In the litter
sat a young woman and in the carriage next to the driver was the tall
figure of a lady. Several men of the upper classes and many servants
stood around the litter and the chariot. Few words were exchanged; the
whole attention of the strangely lighted groups seemed concentrated on
the temple-gate. The darkness concealed the features of individuals but
the mingled light of the moon and the torches was enough to reveal to the
gate-keeper who looked down on the party from a tower of the Pylon that