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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

ioo                          Egyptian Art
sand which surrounds it. At a closer view, four colossal figures .
emerge, whose unchanging posture suggests to the imagination
the idea of eternity.
To grasp the significance of Abu Simbel, one should reach the
innermost part of the sanctuary, in the heart of the mountain,
just as the dawn is breaking. The early sun, rising above the
eastern hills, pierces it like a shaft, lighting the great statues of
the gods, among whom Ramesses II, the builder of this monu-
ment, has secured a place for himself. Suddenly, for a few brief
moments, the huge cave is illuminated. In the entrance chamber
the columns, shaped like figures of Osiris, seem like giants issuing
from the bowels of the earth. The walls, whose whole surface
is now revealed, display their pictures of battles and conquests,
and proclaim the protection of the gods for the Pharaoh whom
they are seen exalting to a real apotheosis. Similar scenes can
be viewed on the pylons of the temples; here, with their varied
colours better preserved than at any other point, they stand
out in all their richness and mysterious force. The impression
thus given is unique; it would be useless to attempt to create
it at other times of the day by the aid of electric lighting. The
most extraordinary feature of Abu Simbel is that the ancient
architects have deliberately, and successfully, sought to honour
the rising sun by this daily victory over the powers of darkness.
§ xi. The Norm
Specialists do wrong to pay so little attention to the remarks
of educated art-lovers evoked by their first, unbiased contact
with the objects which the former have studied so long. Rene
Francis, for example, in his Egyptian Aesthetics, when his eyes
were opened by the bas-reliefs of Seti I at Abydos (Fig. 9),
summed up his impressions in a single term: the Normal, 'that
strange and most seldom met entity, the "Mean", in the Aris-
totelian sense'.
It seems to me that these words convey, with admirable pre-