May 10, 2012

Coming upon Dendera by Night, 1829 | Luxor - Walking Through Egypt

Coming upon Dendera by Night, 1829
Jean Francois Champollion

Dendera in Night
The moonlight was magnificent, and we were only at a distance of one hour from the temples; could we resist the temptation? I ask this of the coldest of mortals! To eat and to leave immediately was the work of a moment: alone without guides, but armed to the teeth, we set off across the fields, presuming that the temples were in a direct line with our boat. We walked like this, singing the most recent opera marches, for an hour and a half, without finding anything. Finally a man was discovered; we called to him, and he bolted, taking us for Bedouin, for, dressed in the eastern manner and covered with a great white hooded cape, we resembled to the Egyptian man a tribe of Bedouins, whilst a European might have taken us without hesitation for a guerrilla force of Carthusian monks armed with guns, sabres and pistols. The runaway was brought to me I ordered him to lead us to the temples. This poor devil, barely reassured at first, took us along a good route and finished by walking with good grace; thin, dry, black, covered with old rags, this was a walking mummy, but he guided us rather well and we treated him in the same way.

The temples finally appeared to us. I will not try to describe the impression which the great propylon and especially the portico of the great temple made on us. One can measure it easily, but to give an idea of it is impossible. It is grace and majesty brought together in the highest degree.


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