Homo Sum — Volume 01

Homo Sum — Volume 01


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The Project Gutenberg EBook Homo Sum, by Georg Ebers, Volume 1. #56 in our series by Georg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: Homo Sum, Volume 1.Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5494] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first postedon June 2, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HOMO SUM, BY GEORG EBERS, V1 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger [NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author'sideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W ...



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The Project Gutenberg EBook Homo Sum, byGeorg Ebers, Volume 1. #56 in our series byGeorg EbersCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: Homo Sum, Volume 1.
Author: Georg EbersRelease Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5494] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on June 2, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK HOMO SUM, BY GEORG EBERS, V1 ***This eBook was produced by David Widger<widger@cecomet.net>[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, orpointers, at the end of the file for those who maywish to sample the author's ideas before makingan entire meal of them. D.W.]
HOMO SUMBy Georg EbersVolume 1.Translated by Clara BellPREFACE.In the course of my labors preparatory to writing ahistory of the Sinaitic peninsula, the study of thefirst centuries of Christianity for a long time claimedmy attention; and in the mass of martyrology, ofascetic writings, and of histories of saints andmonks, which it was necessary to work throughand sift for my strictly limited object, I came upon anarrative (in Cotelerius Ecclesiae GrecaeMonumenta) which seemed to me peculiar andtouching notwithstanding its improbability. Sinai andthe oasis of Pharan which lies at its foot were thescene of action.When, in my journey through Arabia Petraea, I sawthe caves of the anchorites of Sinai with my owneyes and trod their soil with my own feet, that storyrecurred to my mind and did not cease to hauntme while I travelled on farther in the desert.A soul's problem of the most exceptional type
seemed to me to be offered by the simple courseof this little history.An anchorite, falsely accused instead of another,takes his punishment of expulsion on himselfwithout exculpating himself, and his innocencebecomes known only through the confession of thereal culprit.There was a peculiar fascination in imagining whatthe emotions of a soul might be which could lead tosuch apathy, to such an annihilation of allsensibility; and while the very deeds and thoughtsof the strange cave- dweller grew more and morevivid in my mind the figure of Paulus took form, asit were as an example, and soon a crowd of ideasgathered round it, growing at last to a distinctentity, which excited and urged me on till Iventured to give it artistic expression in the form ofa narrative. I was prompted to elaborate thissubject—which had long been shaping itself toperfect conception in my mind as ripe material fora romance—by my readings in Coptic monkishannals, to which I was led by Abel's Coptic studies;and I afterwards received a further stimulus fromthe small but weighty essay by H. Weingarten onthe origin of monasticism, in which I still study theearly centuries of Christianity, especially in Egypt.This is not the place in which to indicate the pointson which I feel myself obliged to differ fromWeingarten. My acute fellow-laborer at Breslauclears away much which does not deserve toremain, but in many parts of his book he seems to
me to sweep with too hard a broom.Easy as it would have been to lay the date of mystory in the beginning of the fortieth year of thefourth century instead of the thirtieth, I haveforborne from doing so because I feel able to provewith certainty that at the time which I have chosenthere were not only heathen recluses in thetemples of Serapis but also Christian anchorites; Ifully agree with him that the beginnings oforganized Christian monasticism can in no case bedated earlier than the year 350.The Paulus of my story must not be confoundedwith the "first hermit," Paulus of Thebes, whomWeingarten has with good reason struck out of thecategory of historical personages. He, with all thefigures in this narrative is a purely fictitious person,the vehicle for an idea, neither more nor less. Iselected no particular model for my hero, and Iclaim for him no attribute but that of his havingbeen possible at the period; least of all did I thinkof Saint Anthony, who is now deprived even of hisdistinguished biographer Athanasius, and who isrepresented as a man of very sound judgment butof so scant an education that he was master onlyof Egyptian.The dogmatic controversies which were alreadykindled at the time of my story I have, on carefulconsideration, avoided mentioning. The dwellers onSinai and in the oasis took an eager part in them ata later date.
That Mount Sinai to which I desire to transport thereader must not be confounded with the mountainwhich lies at a long day's journey to the south of it.It is this that has borne the name, at any rate sincethe time of Justinian; the celebrated convent of theTransfiguration lies at its foot, and it has beencommonly accepted as the Sinai of Scripture. Inthe description of my journey through ArabiaPetraea I have endeavored to bring fresh proof ofthe view, first introduced by Lepsius, that the giant-mountain, now called Serbal, must be regarded asthe mount on which the law was given—and wasindeed so regarded before the time of Justinian—and not the Sinai of the monks.As regards the stone house of the Senator Petrus,with its windows opening on the street—contrary toeastern custom—I may remark, in anticipation ofwell founded doubts, that to this day wonderfullywell- preserved fire-proof walls stand in the oasis ofPharan, the remains of a pretty large number ofsimilar buildings.But these and such external details hold a quitesecondary place in this study of a soul. While in myearlier romances the scholar was compelled tomake concessions to the poet and the poet to thescholar, in this one I have not attempted toinstruct, nor sought to clothe the outcome of mystudies in forms of flesh and blood; I have aimed atabsolutely nothing but to give artistic expression tothe vivid realization of an idea that had deeplystirred my soul. The simple figures whose inmostbeing I have endeavored to reveal to the reader fill
the canvas of a picture where, in the darkbackground, rolls the flowing ocean of the world'shistory.The Latin title was suggested to me by an oftenused motto which exactly agrees with thefundamental view to which I have been led by mymeditations on the mind and being of man; even ofthose men who deem that they have climbed thevery highest steps of that stair which leads into theHeavens.In the Heautontimorumenos of Terence, Chremesanswers his neighbor Menedemus (Act I, SC. I, v.25) "Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto,"which Donner translates literally:"I am human, nothing that is human can I regardas alien to me."But Cicero and Seneca already used this line as aproverb, and in a sense which far transcends thatwhich it would seem to convey in context with thepassage whence it is taken; and as I coincide withthem, I have transferred it to the title-page of thisbook with this meaning:"I am a man; and I feel that I am above all else aman."Leipzig, November 11, 1877.GEORG EBERS.
HOMO SUM.CHAPTER I.Rocks-naked, hard, red-brown rocks all round; nota bush, not a blade, not a clinging moss such aselsewhere nature has lightly flung on the rockysurface of the heights, as if a breath of her creativelife had softly touched the barren stone. Nothingbut smooth granite, and above it a sky as bare ofcloud as the rocks are of shrubs and herbs.And yet in every cave of the mountain wall theremoves a human life; two small grey birds too floatsoftly in the pure, light air of the desert that glowsin the noonday sun, and then they vanish behind arange of cliffs, which shuts in the deep gorge asthough it were a wall built by man.There it is pleasant enough, for a spring bedewsthe stony soil and there, as wherever any moisturetouches the desert, aromatic plants thrive, andumbrageous bushes grow. When Osiris embracedthe goddess of the desert—so runs the Egyptianmyth—he left his green wreath on her couch.But at the time and in the sphere where our historymoves the old legends are no longer known or areignored. We must carry the reader back to thebeginning of the thirtieth year of the fourth centuryafter the birth of the Saviour, and away to themountains of Sinai on whose sacred ground
solitary anchorites have for some few years beendwelling—men weary of the world, and vowed topenitence, but as yet without connection or ruleamong themselves.Near the spring in the little ravine of which we havespoken grows a many-branched feathery palm, butit does not shelter it from the piercing rays of thesun of those latitudes; it seems only to protect theroots of the tree itself; still the feathered boughsare strong enough to support a small thread-bareblue cloth, which projects like a penthouse,screening the face of a girl who lies dreaming,stretched at full-length on the glowing stones, whilea few yellowish mountain-goats spring from stoneto stone in search of pasture as gaily as thoughthey found the midday heat pleasant andexhilarating. From time to time the girl seizes theherdsman's crook that lies beside her, and calls thegoats with a hissing cry that is audible at aconsiderable distance. A young kid comes dancingup to her. Few beasts can give expression to theirfeelings of delight; but young goats can.The girl puts out her bare slim foot, and playfullypushes back the little kid who attacks her in fun,pushes it again and again each time it skipsforward, and in so doing the shepherdess bendsher toes as gracefully as if she wished somelooker-on to admire their slender form. Once morethe kid springs forward, and this time with its beaddown. Its brow touches the sole of her foot, but asit rubs its little hooked nose tenderly against thegirl's foot, she pushes it back so violently that the