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RISE OF THE WESTERN HALF OF THE DELTA. THE KINGS
(1) DURING the sixty years which follow the defeat of Sennacherib's attack upon Tirhakah, the Jewish annals are silent as to any wars between Assyria and Egypt. Of the two nations the Assyrians were the stronger; and whether from foreign conquest, or from other causes, Egypt was sinking in power. After the death of Tirhakah the kingdom fell to pieces; Thebes again lost its rank as the capital of Egypt; and the country was divided into several Herodotus, little monarchies. As many as twelve cities then ii. 147. found themselves the independent capitals of their several districts; and their twelve kings governed quietly without plunging the country into civil war. Memphis, though the largest city in the Delta, was not the governing city. Sethon of Memphis, who had commanded the army in the late reign, was the last of the kings or sovereign priests of that city that is known to us. But indeed of those who governed Memphis during the thousand years since Suphis, the builder of the pyramid, not many of their names have been saved. Manetho mentions none after Queen Nitocris. The kings who followed her when not kings of Thebes were subjects to the kings of Thebes. But though the kings or chief priests of Memphis after her time possessed little more than the title, and their sway may have been for the most part limited to the command over the temple services, yet they continued to add new buildings to their city. The ruins also of sixty pyramids on the range of Libyan hills show that they continued to build tombs for themselves of the same form, though not of the same lasting strength as before; and the brick pyramid of Asychis, which has been destroyed, was even larger than that of Nef-chofo, which has remained because built of stone. The tombs in the neighbourhood of the pyramids are as numerous as those near
Thebes, and equally ornamented with paintings and sculpture, though not in equally good taste. But unfortunately we are very much left in doubt as to the age of these works of art; because the priests and nobles of Memphis never dated their inscriptions by means of a king's name. They had too little love for the Theban kings to count the years by their reigns and the names of their own chief priests or little kings were not important enough to answer the purpose. Herodotus and Diodorus mention some of these kings of Memphis, whose names they learnt during their inquiries in Lower Egypt; and the scanty ruins in the neighbourhood add few or none to the list. The chief names there found are Chofo (see Fig. 19), and Nef-chofo (see Fig. 20), the builders of the pyramids; Chemi (see Fig. 149), called by Diodorus, Chemmis; Chemren (see Fig. 150), called Chephren; Mesaphra (see Fig. 151), perhaps Thothmosis II., called Moris; Mycera (see Fig. 44), perhaps Thothmosis III., called Mycerinus; Rameses, called Rampsinitus; Shishank, called Sesostris; his son Osorchon; Uchora (see Fig. 152), or Uchureus; Bokora (see Fig. 141), or Bocchoris; and Asisa (see Fig. 153), or Asychis. After
pl. 38, 39,
Fig. 149. Fig. 150. Fig. 152. Fig. 153. the time of Sethon the sovereignty of Egypt rested with Sais; and then the high priests of Memphis would of course have less power than when the more distant Thebes was capital of the kingdom. Herodotus did not find that any priest of Memphis after the time of Sethon was counted among the kings.
(2) During these years of confusion after the death of Tirhakah, the chief authority rested in a line of kings which may be traced as unbroken, though removing from Napata at the fourth cataract in Ethiopia, to Sais in the Delta. AMMERES, the successor of Tirhakah, was probably the same person as Amun Aser
(see Fig. 154), whose name we find cut upon two noble lions now in the British Museum. They are of red granite from the quarries of Tombos at the third cataract, carved by the skill of Theban workmen for Amunothph III., perhaps for the temple at Soleb, but carried off by an Ethiopian king to ornament his temple at Napata. Ammeres, though an Ethiopian, reigned at Sais, where Fig. 154. the chief strength of the nation was now to be found. There the Greeks had settled in large numbers, and had enriched the people of that district with their trade, and taught them higher skill in arms. Hence Sais quietly rose over its rival cities to be the capital of Egypt.
(3) STEPHINATHIS, the successor of Ammeres, was Egyptian, as were his successors, and they all continued to reside at Sais. NECHEPSUS, the next king, has left Ep. 409, 20. a name known for his priestly learning; and Plin. lib. ii. astronomical writings bearing his name, though probably much more modern, are quoted by Pliny. They were in the Greek language, which was common in the western half of the Delta, where Greek arts and sciences were becoming known and copied, and were giving that half of the kingdom its superiority over Thebes; for in Upper Egypt the Coptic religion and prejudices so far forbad change as to stop improvement. Nechepsus Manetho. was followed on the throne of Sais by NECHO I. and then by PSAMMETICHUS I., Fig. 155. whose first name was Vaphra (see Fig. 155), and by this time the king of Sais was king of all Egypt.
(4) We do not know by what troops Shishank and the kings of Tanis had formerly overthrown the family of Rameses; but the kings of Sais upheld their power by means of Greek mercenaries who made fighting the trade by which they earned their livelihood. The Nubian gold Herodotus, mines made wages higher in Egypt than in other lib. ii. 152. countries; and Psammetichus had in his pay a large body of Carians and Ionians from the Greek settlements on the coast of Asia Minor. With these he carried on a long war in Syria, and, after a blockade of twenty-nine years, he took the city of Azotus or Ashdod, which had lately been
taken by Tartan the Assyrian general. To these Greek soldiers Psammetichus gave lands near Pelusium; and their settlement bore the name of the Camps. This was a space intrenched on that branch of the river, and within it were not only dwelling-places for themselves, but docks for their ships. It guarded the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile. He also had a standing army of Egyptians encamped on the three frontiers; at Elephantine, against the Ethiopians on the south, at Daphnæ near Pelusium, against the Arabs and Syrians on the east, and at Maræa on the Lake Maræotis, against the Libyans on the west. By his favours to the Greek mercenaries Psammetichus gave great offence to the Egyptian troops; and on his not complying with some of their demands, and refusing to relieve them when their three years' term of service was ended, the whole of the Elephantine guard deserted. They marched through Ethiopia, and settled at Ezar, seventeen days' journey beyond Meroë, in the country now called Abyssinia, where a people calling themselves their descendants were to be found three hundred years afterwards. Psammetichus marched in pursuit of the deserters. He did not himself go beyond Elephantine; but his Greek troops went much further, and they turned back after having passed through places wholly unknown, where the river was called by another name. Some of the soldiers cut an inscription, mentioning this distant march, on the shin of one of the colossal statues in front of the temple of Abou Simbel, at the second cataract; and if we do right in following Herodotus, and giving this event to the reign of Psammetichus I., when it seems rather to belong to Psammetichus II., this is one of the earliest pieces of Greek writing now remaining. The writer made use of the Greek double letters, Ps, Ph, Ch, and Th, and also of the long E, but not of the long O.
Herodotus, lib. ii. 30.
Pliny, lib. vi. 35.
2nd Ser. 23.
lib. i. 103.
(5) In this reign the Medes, the Assyrians, the Jews, indeed all the west of Asia, were startled at hearing that a large army of Scythians was pouring down Herodotus, from Tartary over the cultivated plains of the south. The army of Medes, sent against them by Cyaxares, was wholly routed. No force could check their march. They spread in every direction over the whole country.
One body marched straight towards Egypt. They crossed Mesopotamia. They met with no resistance from Josiah, who then reigned in Judæa. They had passed the fortified cities. But they grew weaker as they moved further; and, when they reached the Egyptian frontier, Psammetichus was able, by gifts and prayers and threats, to turn them towards the coast of Palestine, and they plundered the city of Askalon as they marched northwards. Egypt escaped frightened but unhurt by this band of roving Tartars. They were routed and cut to pieces in their passage through the land of the Philistines, and many of them perished on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. "It shall come to pass," says Ezekiel, writing a few years later about them, "in that day Ch. xxxix. 11.I will give to Gog," or the Scythians, 66 a burialplace in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea. And it shall stop the noses of them that pass by; and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude." We might have thought that distance would have made. this people unknown in the Egyptian wars, but we seem to find them sculptured in the battle-scenes of the great Rameses.
(6) Psammetichus made treaties of peace with the Athenians and other Greek states; he gave to his children a Greek education, and he encouraged the Greeks to settle in Egypt for the purposes of trade. Thus Egypt was no longer the same kingdom that we have seen it at the beginning of this history. It was no longer a kingdom of Coptic warriors, who from their fortresses in the Thebaid held the wealthy traders and husbandmen of the Delta in subjection as vassals. But it was now a kingdom of these very vassals; the valour of Thebes had sunk, the wealth of the Delta had increased, and Greek mercenaries had very much taken the place of the native landholders. Hence arose a jealousy between the Greek and Coptic inhabitants of Egypt. The sovereigns found it dangerous to employ Greeks, and still more dangerous to be without them. They were the cause of frequent rebellions, and more than once of the king's overthrow. But there was evidently no choice. The Egyptian laws and religion forbad change and improvement, while everything around them was changing as the centuries rolled on. Hence, if
Diod. Sic. lib. i. 6, 7.