II MAGIC HEALING IN THE PRE-CHRISTIAN ERA 47
and cult, on the one hand, and the pragmatic function of myth in enforcing belief.
The first^jnagician of whom we have records is ImhflXep^who was chief architect to King Zoser of the third Egyptian Dynasty (c. 2900 B.C.) and is supposed to have built the step pyramid of Saqqara. In later times he became renowned also as a physician, astrologer and author of wise sayings. By the time of the New Kingdom he became a kind of demi-god and seems to have lost his human character, while in the Persian period he was fully apotheosized, being said to have been the son of the divine Ptah of Memphis, born to him by one Khroti-onkh. He was the patron of the learned and all who were masters of the secret arts. The scribe would pour out a few drops as a libation to him before putting his pen in his water jar, the physician also venerated him as his own patron, and he was finally accepted by the people at large as the god of medicine. The Graeco-Egyptians knew him as Asklepios.i^His mother and his wife were also raised to divine rank and are often found in association with him. In the Graeco-Roman period his cult was known in Upper Egypt, in Thebes and Edfu as well as in Philae, where Ptolemy Epiphanes erected a small temple in his honour. Even after his apotheosis Imhotep frequently received, in addition to the epithet, Son of Ptah, indicative of his divine origin, his erstwhile human titles, reciting priest, expert in affairs, but only when the reference was to his achievements as a man in the remote past. For a long time, also, he bore signs of his human origin, being represented as clothed in the ancient garments of man, of antique fashion, without either crown or sceptre or the beard usually worn by deities. Moreover, his cult still retained the forms of the worship of the dead, as they were performed in the