samedi 12 février 2011

Bien qu’également destinées à servir de tombeaux, les pyramides égyptiennes devraient, selon Richard Anthony Proctor - XIXe siècle - être considérées d’abord dans leur rapport à la naissance et à la vie des pharaons

Richard Anthony Proctor (1837-1888) était un astronome anglais, connu surtout pour ses travaux sur la planète Mars, dont il établit les premières cartes. L’un des cratères de la planète porte depuis son nom.
Dans la lignée de Piazzi Smyth qui, de toute évidence, l’a inspiré, cet auteur analyse la construction, les structures et la destination de la Grande Pyramide sous l’angle de l’astronomie, ou, plus précisément, de l’astrologie. Dans son ouvrage The Great Pyramid : observatory, tomb and temple, publié en 1883, il n’accorde aucun crédit aux théories considérant ce monument uniquement comme un tombeau pour le seul pharaon bâtisseur ou, a fortiori, comme un gigantesque coffre-fort pour ses trésors.
Selon Richard Anthony Proctor, l’influence de “gens” venus d’Asie - vraisemblablement des Chaldéens - fut déterminante, non pas sur les techniques de construction des pyramides, pour lesquelles les Égyptiens n’avaient rien à apprendre de personne, mais sur la finalité et la fonction première de ces monuments, ladite fonction étant liée à l’observation des astres et à leur incidence sur la personne du pharaon. La Grande Pyramide, précise l’auteur, était un observatoire astronomique construit à des fins non pas purement abstraites ou scientifiques, mais concrètes et immédiates, en rapport direct avec la vie du pharaon.
Certes, la pyramide a servi de tombeau pour abriter les dépouilles du roi et des membres de sa famille. Mais cette fonction finale ne justifie pas à elle seule tout ce qui fut nécessaire à sa construction, en termes de temps, d’énergie dépensée, de monopolisation des forces de travail, de matériaux nécessaires, de conception architecturale, etc.
Ce bref sommaire de l’ouvrage et les quelques extraits qui suivent ne rendent évidemment pas compte de tous les méandres de la théorie de l’auteur.

“While we have abundant reason for believing that in Egypt, even in the days of Cheops and Chephren, extreme importance was attached to the character of the place of burial for distinguished persons, there is nothing in what is known respecting earlier Egyptian ideas to suggest the probability that any monarch would have devoted many years of his subjects' labour, and vast stores of material, to erect a mass of masonry like the Great Pyramid, solely to receive his own body after death. Far less have we any reason for supposing that many monarchs in succession would do this, each having a separate tomb built for him.
It might have been conceivable, had only the Great Pyramid been erected, that the structure had been raised as a mausoleum for all the kings and princes of the dynasty. But it seems utterly incredible that such a building as the Great Pyramid should have been erected for one king's body only (...).
Besides, the first pyramid, the one whose history must be regarded as most significant of the true purpose of these buildings, was not built by an Egyptian holding in great favour the special religious ideas of his people, but by one who had adopted other views, and those not belonging, so far as can be seen, to a people among whom sepulchral rites were held in exceptional regard.

La seule théorie du tombeau ne rend pas compte des caractéristiques des pyramides
A still stronger objection against the exclusively tombic theory resides in the fact that this theory gives no account whatever of the characteristic features of the pyramids themselves. These buildings are all, without exception, built on special astronomical principles. Their square bases are so placed as to have two sides lying east and west, and two lying north and south ; or, in other words, so that their four faces front the four cardinal points. One can imagine no reason why a tomb should have such a position. It is not, indeed, easy to understand why any building at all, except an astronomical observatory, should have such a position.(...)
Similar difficulties oppose the theory that the pyramids were intended to serve solely as astronomical observatories. For, while their original figure, however manifestly astronomical in its relations, was quite unsuited for observatory work, it is manifest that if such had been the purpose of pyramid-building, so soon as the Great Pyramid had once been built, no other would be needed. Certainly none of the pyramids built afterwards could have subserved any astronomical purpose which the first did not subserve, or have subserved nearly so well as the Great Pyramid those purposes which that building may be supposed to have fulfilled as an astronomical observatory.(...)
Let us consider what are the principal points of which the true theory of the pyramids should give an account.

L’influence de “visiteurs”, spécialisés en astrologie, venus de l’Est
In the first place, the history of the pyramids shows that the erection of the first great pyramid was in all probability either suggested to Cheops by wise men who visited Egypt from the East, or else some important information conveyed to him by such visitors caused him to conceive the idea of building the pyramid. In either case we may suppose, as the history indeed suggests, that these learned men, whoever they may have been, remained in Egypt to superintend the erection of the structure. It may be that the architectural work was not under their supervision ; in fact, it seems altogether unlikely that shepherd-rulers would have much to teach the Egyptians in the matter of architecture. But the astronomical peculiarities which form so significant a feature of the Great Pyramid were probably provided for entirely under the instructions of the shepherd chiefs who had exerted so strange an influence upon the mind of King Cheops.

Exigences des “visiteurs” (des “bergers-astronomes”) venus de l’Est : refus de l’idolâtrie, contraire à la pratique de l’astrologie
Next, it seems clear that self-interest must have been the predominant reason in the mind of the Egyptian king for undertaking this stupendous work. It is true that his change of religion implies that some higher cause influenced him. But a ruler who could inflict such grievous burdens on his people, in carrying out his purpose, that for ages afterwards his name was held in utter detestation, cannot have been solely or even chiefly influenced by religious motives. It affords an ample explanation of the behaviour of Cheops, in closing the temples and forsaking the religion of his country, to suppose that the advantages which he hoped to secure by building the pyramid, depended in some way on his adopting this course. The visitors from the East may have refused to give their assistance on any other terms, or may have assured him that the expected benefit could not be obtained if the pyramid were erected by idolaters. It is certain, in any case, that they were opposed to idolatry ; and we have thus some means of inferring who they were and whence they came.(...)
The mere fact that the Great Pyramid was built either directly at the suggestion of these visitors, or because they had persuaded Cheops of the truth of some important doctrine, shows that they must have gained great influence over his mind. Rather we may say that he must have been so convinced of their knowledge and power as to have accepted with unquestioning confidence all that they told him respecting the particular subject over which they seemed to possess so perfect a mastery.
But having formed the opinion, on grounds sufficiently assured, that the strangers who visited Egypt and superintended the building of the Great Pyramid came from the land of the Chaldaeans, it is not very difficult to decide what was the subject respecting which they had such exact information. They were doubtless learned in all the wisdom of their Chaldaean kinsmen. They were masters, in fact, of the astronomy of their day, a science for which the Chaldaeans had shown from the earliest ages the most remarkable aptitude.(...)
We see indeed, in the accurate astronomical adjustment of the Great Pyramid, that the architects must have been skilful astronomers and mathematicians ; and I may note here, in passing, how strongly this circumstance confirms the opinion that the visitors were Chaldaeans.(...)

Les pyramides n’étaient ni de simples observatoires astronomiques, ni d’abord des tombeaux
But not only have we already decided that the pyramids were not intended solely or chiefly to subserve the purpose of astronomical observatories, but it is certain that Cheops would not have been personally much interested in any astronomical information which these visitors might be able to communicate. Unless he saw clearly that something was to be gained from the lore of his visitors, he would not have undertaken to erect any astronomical buildings at their suggestion, even if he had cared enough for their knowledge to pay any attention to them whatever. (...)
But the shepherd-astronomers had knowledge more attractive to offer than a mere series of astronomical discoveries... though the visitors of King Cheops had themselves rejected the Sabaistic polytheism of their kinsmen, they had not rejected the doctine that the stars in their courses affect the fortunes of men. (...)

“Chaque roi devait exiger d’avoir sa propre pyramide à sa naissance”
Now, if these visitors were astrologers, who persuaded Cheops, and were honestly convinced themselves, that they could predict the events of any man's life by the Chaldaean method of casting nativities, we can readily understand many circumstances connected with the pyramids which have hitherto seemed inexplicable. The pyramid built by a king would no longer be regarded as having reference to his death and burial, but to his birth and life, though after his death it might receive his body. Each king would require to have his own nativity-pyramid, built with due symbolical reference to the special celestial influences affecting his fortunes. Every portion of the work would have to be carried out under special conditions, determined according to the mysterious influences ascribed to the different planets and their varying positions. (...)
If the work had been intended only to afford the means of predicting the king's future, the labour would have been regarded by the monarch as well bestowed. But astrology involved much more than the mere prediction of future events. Astrologers claimed the power of ruling the planets, that is, of course, not of ruling the motions of those bodies, but of providing against evil influences or strengthening good influences which they supposed the celestial orbs to exert in particular aspects. Thus we can understand that while the mere basement layers of the pyramid would have served for the process of casting the royal nativity, with due mystic observances, the further progress of building the pyramid would supply the necessary means and indications for ruling the planets most potent in their influence upon the royal career. (...)

Le plus grand degré de probabilité de la “théorie astrologique”
It must be admitted that the strongest evidence in favour of the astrological theory of the pyramids is to be found in the circumstance that all other theories seem untenable. The pyramids were undoubtedly erected for some purpose which was regarded by their builders as most important. This purpose certainly related to the personal fortunes of the kingly builders. It was worth an enormous outlay of money, labour, and material. This purpose was such, furthermore, that each king required to have his own pyramid. It was in some way associated with astronomy, for the pyramids are built with most accurate reference to celestial aspects. It also had its mathematical and mystical bearings, seeing that the pyramids exhibit mathematical and symbolical peculiarities not belonging to their essentially structural requirements. And lastly, the erection of the pyramids was in some way connected with the arrival of certain learned persons from Palestine, and presumably of Chaldaean origin. All these circumstances accord well with the theory I have advanced ; while only some of them, and these not the most characteristic, accord with any of the other theories. Moreover, no fact known respecting the pyramids or their builders is inconsistent with the astrological theory. On the whole, then, if it cannot be regarded as demonstrated (in its general bearing, of course, for we cannot expect any theory about the pyramids to be established in minute details), the astrological theory may fairly be described as having a greater degree of probability in its favour than any hitherto advanced.(...)

Même si la pyramide peut être considérée comme un tombeau, sa finalité astronomique est en rapport avec la vie du pharaon bâtisseur

 I must confess that the exclusively tombic theory of the Great Pyramid (at least) had always seemed to me utterly incredible, even before I advanced what seems to me the only reasonable interpretation of its erection. One may admit that the singular taste of the Egyptian kings for monstrous tombs was carried to a preposterous extent, but not to an extent quite so preposterous as the exclusively tombic theory would require. Of course, when we see that the details of the great edifice indicate unmistakably an astronomical object, which was regarded as of such importance as to justify the extremest care, our opinion is strengthened that the pyramid was not solely meant for a tomb. For this would bring in another absurdity, scarcely less than that involved in the exclusively tombic theory of structures so vast, if even they were nonastronomical, this, namely, that the Egyptian kings thought the celestial bodies and their movements so especially related to them, that their long home must be astronomically posited with a degree of care far surpassing that which has ever been given to an astronomical observatory. Common sense compels us to believe that whether the Great Pyramid was meant for a tomb or not, its astronomical character was given to it for some purpose relating to the living king who had it built.(...)

Un “gigantesque horoscope”
Now, it is not reasonable to suppose King Cheops' purpose was simply scientific. We may fairly take it for granted that the king who expended such vast sums and sacrificed so many lives to build for himself a tomb, was not a man taking a disinterested interest in science, or even ready to help the priests of his day to regulate religious ceremonials by astronomical observations conducted with reference only to general religious relations. To put the matter plainly, the builder of the Great Pyramid must have thought of himself first ; next, of his dynasty ; then, perhaps, of the priesthood (though always with reference to the bearing of religious ceremonies on the welfare of himself and his dynasty) ; lastly, of his people, as part of his wealth and power. For abstract science he cared not, as may be well assured, a single jot.
I do not wish to suggest that Cheops was wickedly selfish. I have no doubt he was thoroughly persuaded that he was carrying out the purpose of his existence in expending much treasure and many lives on his own well-being (both before and after death). But there can be no doubt this was the real object of his expenditure of time, and wealth, and human life on the great structure which bears his name.(...)
There is, so far as I can see, no other theory of the Great Pyramid which even comes near to giving a common-sense interpretation of the combined astronomical and sepulchral character of this wonderful structure. If it is certain, on the one hand, that the building was built astronomically, and was meant for astronomical observation, it is equally certain that it was meant for a tomb, that it was dosed in very soon after the king died for whom it was built, that, in fine, its astronomical value related to himself alone. As an astrological edifice, a gigantic horoscope for him and for him only, we can understand its purport, much though we may marvel at the vast expenditure of care, labour, and treasure at which it was erected.
Granted full faith in astrology (and we know there was such faith), it was worth while to build even such a structure as the Great Pyramid ; just as, granted the ideas of Egyptians about burial, we can understand the erection of so mighty a mass for a tomb, and all save its special astronomical character. Of no other theory, I venture to say, than that which combines these two strange but most marked characteristics of the Egyptian mind, can this be said.”

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