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toilette; and a century later the taxes of the city of Anthylla were added to find her in sandal-strings.


(31) Amasis had been united by treaties and by friendship with Polycrates the tyrant of Samos, an island on the coast of Asia Minor; and Herodotus gives a lib. iii. 39. curious account of the reasons which led to their quarrel. Amasis, considering the changes which are always happening in this mortal life, became alarmed at the continued prosperity of his friend, who was master of the largest naval force in the Grecian seas; and he wrote him word that he might be sure that some great calamity would soon befall him. To avoid the ruin which might be overhanging, he advised Polycrates to consider what treasure he possessed that would most trouble him by its loss, and to throw it away of his own accord, and to do the same again and again if his good fortune continued. Polycrates was pleased with his advice, and having an emerald seal beautifully engraved by Theodorus and set in gold as a ring, he threw it himself into the sea, hoping that the loss of this jewel might save him from the loss of his life or throne. But within a week of his doing so, a fisherman, having caught a fish of more than usual size, brought it to the palace at Samos, and when the cook cut it open the emerald seal was found in its stomach and delivered to the king. Polycrates then sent word to Egypt that he had regained his ring; and, according to the story, Amasis immediately withdrew from his alliance; he would have no treaty of friendship with a man who had been hitherto so fortunate, for it seemed certain that ruin would soon overtake him and all his friends.

(32) Hitherto Persia and Media beyond the Tigris had been little known to Egypt. They were separated from it not by natural boundaries only, but by the Jews, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians. When Assyria and Babylon were united, they conquered the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; they for a time held the cities of Tyre and Sidon, and the island of Cyprus, and drove back the Egyptian armies behind the shelter of their own desert. The Egyptians had been humbled at feeling themselves checked by an equal, but they were now to find their eastern neighbour their superior. In the course of this reign Cyrus came to the Persian throne, and, joining the kingdom of Media to


the country of his birth, founded the great Persian monarchy, the most powerful kingdom that the world had yet seen under one sceptre, and which threatened to trample down its neighbours on all sides. His armies were everywhere successful, and nations trembled at his approach. The Egyptians had good cause to be alarmed; to humble their power was the aim of his ambition, their wealth was the prize that his soldiers longed for. The coast and havens of Asia Minor were first to be conquered; and the larger part of that country was under the sway of Croesus king of Lydia, the friend of Egypt. As the Persians moved westCyropad. ward against Croesus, Amasis sent a body of troops vi. 3, 20. to help his ally. The Egyptian forces were thought the best soldiers in the great battle in which the Lydians were defeated by Cyrus. These men or some of them may have been Greek in blood and language, as in military skill, though called Egyptian from the land of their adoption. They were drawn up in a square phalanx of ten thousand men the form which was afterwards so celebrated when used by the Macedonians-and they refused Croesus's request to fight otherwise than in their usual ranks, one hundred deep and one hundred wide. When the Cyropæd. Lydians were routed, these allies made honourable vii. 1, 45. terms for themselves, and were allowed to settle in Eolia, at Larissa, and at Cyllene, near Cyme; and these two towns continued for many years to be called Egyptian. The two Egyptian sculptured monuments on the face of Herodotus, the rocks near Ephesus and Smyrna, which Herodotus thought were the work of his favourite hero Sesostris, were probably cut by these soldiers of King Amasis. (33) As each little kingdom fell one by one under the Persian arms, the danger to Egypt became more threatening. Cyprus was next to be conquered, and then, whether the Persian forces moved by land or by sea, no independent state would remain between Egypt and the coming storm. The island of Cyprus had hitherto been under several lib. ii. 182. kings, each holding his own little kingdom; and Amasis had latterly made them do him homage and Xenophon, Cyropæd. pay him tribute. Against Cyprus, Cyrus then sent lib. viii. 6, 8. a large force, and he defeated the Egyptian troops and conquered that island. The Jews, grateful to him for



the permission to return home from captivity and rebuild their temple, saw his troops march with pleasure, and with earnest wishes for their success. The writer of some of the latter chapters in the book of Isaiah, the most spiritual among the Hebrew prophets, assured his Chap. xliii. 3; xiv. 14. countrymen that God had given Egypt and Ethiopia and Nubia to the king of Persia as a ransom for the Jewish captives in Babylon. On his statue in Persepolis, Cyrus boastfully placed a head-dress copied from that of the Egyptian kings, as if he were already master of the valley of the Nile (see Fig. 165). But the successes of the Persians were for a time stopped by their king's

B.C. 529.

death; and it was not until the fourth year of the reign of Cambyses, his unworthy son, that the Persians attacked Egypt, and the prophet's words were fulfilled.


Fig. 165.

(34) Among the Greek mercenaries in the Egyptian service was a general named Phanes, a man able in lib. iii. 4. council and brave in the field, who, having had a quarrel with Amasis, fled from Egypt about the time that Cambyses was preparing to march. Amasis, though he trusted chiefly to the native troops, saw how useful the deserter might be to the enemy, and he sent a galley in pursuit of him. The Egyptian officer actually overtook him and arrested him in Lycia, but Phanes again contrived to escape, and reached Persia in safety. Phanes not only disclosed to Cambyses the state of Egyptian affairs, but he did him the greatest service by explaining to him the difficulty of crossing the desert, and that the easiest way to enter Egypt was to send an embassy to the Arabs, and from them to obtain a supply of water for his army. But before Cambyses reached Egypt King Amasis was dead, after a reign of forty-four years.

(35) Amasis was one of the most prosperous of the Egyptian kings; and the agreeable recollections of his sway, and of the Nile's generosity during his reign, were strengthened by its being the last to which the nation could look back with unmixed pride. He made many good laws; and many others were called by his name, merely to explain that they existed in the time of

Diod. Sic.

lib. i. 95.


the native sovereigns. Under Amasis the city of Sais had reached its greatest size and beauty. But it never was so large as either Thebes or Memphis, and could hardly be called the capital of the kingdom, although it was the seat of government for two hundred years. Its palace or citade] was dedicated to the goddess Neith, whom the Greeks called Minerva, and it was the largest in Lower Egypt. This was a plot of ground half a mile square, surrounded lib. ii. 170. with a brick wall fifty feet thick. In the middle of this sacred area stood what we must call the temple of Neith, though by the Egyptians the whole area was named the temple. The covered building was entered through a portico, with columns formed like trunks of palm-trees, all built of stones of the greatest size, some brought from Memphis, and some even from Elephantine. It was ornamented with obelisks, colossal statues, and sphinxes. On one side of the temple were the tombs of the unfortunate Hophra, and of his ancestors who had reigned at Sais. Here, for want of natural hills, the embalmed bodies were placed in cells in the city walls, to keep them above the level of the waters when the Nile was at its height. On the other side was the lake, of a round form, lined with stone, on which the sacred mysteries of Isis were celebrated by torchlight. Behind the temple was the tomb of Osiris, for Sais would not yield the honour of being his burial-place to any city in Egypt.

(36) Not less remarkable than this large temple of Neith was a small temple, which, Herodotus was told, was Herodotus, of lib. ii. 175. a single stone, twenty-one cubits long, fourteen wide, and eight high. This great block, if it was a single block, was dug out of the quarries near Elephantine, and two thousand boatmen were employed during three years in floating it down the Nile to Sais. Amasis meant to have placed it within the courtyard of the temple of Neith, and it was brought with great labour to the door, and had not been carried further when Herodotus visited the place. But it was more probably made of a small number of large blocks, of which some are in the British Museum; and we are able to judge of the whole from the parts which we now possess (see Fig. 166). Sais began to fall on the death of Amasis. It suffered with the rest of Egypt under the

Persian conquerors. It afterwards had fifty years more of prosperity when the Persians were driven out, but again fell on their return. It continued, however, to be a town of


Fig. 166.

importance for some centuries longer, even after Alexandria was built, when its deserted temples were robbed to furnish building stones for the new city. It is now only a ruined wall, with a few mounds by the side of the river, over which the wolf and jackal walk at leisure, with here and there a broken granite column, or a block covered with hieroglyphics. It was built in a part of the country where originally there

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Fig. 167.

was not a piece of stone larger than the grain of sand which is blown there from the desert, where not a pebble is to be found by digging; and these mounds now bear the name of Sa-el-Hagar, or Sais the stony (see Fig. 167). At Teletmai, near Mendes in the Delta, is another small temple or



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