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- A Thousand Miles
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- The meaning and origin of the expression: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Social Work. Our own habits of life and thought are so complex that they shut us off from the simplicity of that early world. So it was with the problem of hieroglyphic writing.
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The thing was so obvious that no one could find it out. As long as the world persisted in believing that every hieroglyph was an abstruse symbol, and every hieroglyphic inscription a profound philosophical rebus, the mystery of Egyptian literature remained insoluble. Then at last came Champollion's famous letter to Dacier, showing that the hieroglyphic signs were mainly alphabetic and syllabic, and that the language they spelt was only Coptic after all. If there were not thousands who still conceive that the sun and moon were created, and are kept going, for no other purpose than to lighten the darkness of our little planet; if only the other day a grave gentleman had not written a perfectly serious essay to show that the world is a flat plain, one would scarcely believe that there could still be people who doubt that ancient Egyptian is now read and translated as fluently as ancient Greek.
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Yet an Englishman whom I met in Egypt — an Englishman who had long been resident in Cairo, and who was well acquainted with the great Egyptologists who are attached to the service of the Khedive — assured me of his profound disbelief in the discovery of Champollion.
As I then knew nothing of Egyptian, I could say nothing to controvert this speech. Since that time, however, and while writing this book, I have been led on step by step to the study of hieroglyphic writing, and I now know that Egyptian can be read, for the simple reason that I find myself able to read an Egyptian sentence.
The study of Egyptian literature has advanced of late years with rapid strides. Papyri are found less frequently than they were some thirty or forty years ago; but the translation of those contained in the museums of Europe goes on now more diligently than at any former time. Religious books, variants of the Ritual, moral essays, maxims, private letters, hymns, epic poems, historical chronicles, accounts, deeds of sale, medical, magical and astronomical treatises, geographical records, travels, and even romances and tales, are brought to light, photographed, facsimiled in chromo-lithography, printed in hieroglyphic type, and translated in forms suited both to the learned and to the general reader.
Not all this literature is written, however, on papyrus. The greater proportion of it is carved in stone.
"A Thousand Miles" Will Always Be The Best Part Of 'White Chicks,' Just Ask Terry Crews
Some is painted on wood, written on linen, leather, potsherds, and other substances. So the old mystery of Egypt, which was her literature, has vanished.
The key to the hieroglyphs is the master-key that opens every door. Each year that now passes over our heads sees some old problem solved. Each day brings some long-buried truth to light. Some thirteen years ago, 2 a distinguished American artist painted a very beautiful pictured called The Secret of the Sphinx. In its widest sense, the Secret of the Sphinx would mean, I suppose, the whole uninterpreted and undiscovered past of Egypt.
A Thousand Miles
In its narrower sense, the Secret of the Sphinx was, till quite lately, the hidden significance of the human-headed lion which is one of the typical subjects of Egyptian Art. Thirteen years is a short time to look back upon; yet great things have been done in Egypt, and in Egyptology, since then. Edfu, with its extraordinary wealth of inscriptions, has been laid bare. The whole contents of the Boulak Museum have been recovered from the darkness of the tombs.
The very mystery of the Sphinx has been disclosed; and even within the last eighteen months, M. Chabas announces that he has discovered the date of the pyramid of Mycerinus; so for the first time establishing the chronology of ancient Egypt upon an ascertained foundation. Thus the work goes on; students in their libraries, excavators under Egyptian skies, toiling along different paths towards a common goal. The picture means more to-day than it meant thirteen years ago — means more, even, than the artist intended.
The Sphinx has no secret now, save for the ignorant. Some instinct of the old Egyptian blood tells him that the creature is God-like. He is conscious of a great mystery lying far back in the past. He has, perhaps, a dim, confused notion that the Big Head knows it all, whatever it may be.