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After the 6th cent, the Aksumite empire disap- peared from history, and was successively followed by those of Tigre in the north, Amhara in the centre, and Shoa in the south. These and many other old pagan notions are still rife beneath the thin lacquer of Abyssinian Chris- tianity. Aksum soon became a great centre of Himyaritic culture, which was further developed under Hellenic influences about 450, when Christianity was introduced by AFRICA 161 the apostle Frumentius from Alexandria. supra), which was at that time the current, as it is still the liturgical, language of the country ; and this tongue has preserved some early Christian docu- ments, the Greek or Syriac originals of which have been lost. This term Geez, properly Aga'zi, has reference to Aksum, capital of the Aksumite empire, founded probably about the beginning of the Christian era by the Himyaritic Semites, who had already crossed over from South Arabia, and have since then been politically dominant in Abyssinia. But education is in a rudimentary state, and the only art still cultivated is painting, which was introduced in Byzantine times, and is employed exclusively for the decora- tion of the churches. Like the mosques in Muhamma- dan lands, the churches and monasteries are the schools of the country, and over these the debtura have complete control.
While sharing largely in the objective theories of the beautiful, they supplemented them by a study of impression or aesthetic pleasure. — Derived from a root signifying to bum, .(Ether is a term appropriated in Greek litera- ture to the blue vault of the upper firmament, as contrasted with aer, which is applied to mist and vapour. The Phoenicians, founders of Carthage, Leptis, Utica, and numerous other settlements on the north coast, have long been extinct.
These literati, although laymen, enjoy special ecclesiastical privileges, and thus serve to check the action both of the Abuna and of the religious orders, which are very numerous, and own a large part of the land.