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B.C. 523-332.


(1) As soon as CAMBYSES (see Fig. 179) felt himself master of Egypt, he turned his thoughts towards lib. iii. 17. the conquest of Ethiopia and the oases in B.C. 523. the Libyan desert. He also gave orders for the sailing of an expedition against Carthage. But seamen have always a strong love of country; and his mariners, who were all Phenicians, refused to attack their countrymen who had settled on the coast of Africa; and, as the whole naval power of Fig. 179. the Persians was in their hands, Cambyses had no choice but to give up that last undertaking. His messengers, whom he had sent forward with presents to the king of Ethiopia to require his submission, returned unsuccessful; and therefore, leaving his Greek mercenaries to guard the Delta, he led his Persian forces southward. But he set forward on Herodotus, this expedition more like a madman than a general. lib. iii. 25. He made no provision for the support of his large army, nor thought of the nature of the country into which he was marching, caring as little about the sufferings of his own soldiers as about the ruin of the villages on his route. When he reached Thebes he sent off a body of fifty thousand men westward, with orders to reduce, first the Great Oasis, one hundred and twenty miles to the west of the river, and then the Oasis of Ammon, nearly four hundred miles further, while he himself led the main body of his army forward towards Ethiopia. But before he had passed one fifth of the journey to Meroë his supplies failed him. The river's banks in Nubia are too lofty to be overflowed; hence the country was very barren, and could afford him but little food; and the army had nothing to live upon but the beasts of burden,

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and the roots and herbs at the water's edge. Cambyses then at last turned back, and reached Thebes after the loss of a great part of his army, and after the men had drawn lots for slaying one in ten to support the lives of their companions. From Herodotus's account we need not suppose that Cambyses passed beyond Nubia, or even reached the city of Abou Simbel. But later writers fancied that the Persian army had advanced till it was stopped by the sands of the great Nubian desert; and again, by the time of the geographer Ptolemy, a town on the further side of that desert had gained the name of the Treasury of Cambyses.

(2) The other army of Persians, which was sent against the oases, was even more unfortunate than the main body. They reached the Great Oasis in safety, after a journey of seven days through the Libyan desert. They then marched forward towards the Oasis of Ammon; but nothing more is known of them. They may have been ignorant of the distance, and been in want of water; they may have been betrayed by their guides; or they may have been overtaken by a hurricane from the south, which in the month of May often blows up a cloud of fine sand over the unadvised traveller, covers every trace of his path, blinds his eyes, makes his breathing painful, takes away at the same time his strength and his spirits, dries up his bags of water, and leaves him to perish in the desert. Not a man out of the whole body either returned to the valley of the Nile or reached the Oasis of Ammon; they all perished in the Libyan sands.

Diod. Sic.

(3) Cambyses, on his return northward, carried off from Thebes a large booty of gold, silver, ivory, and precious stones, and among these treasures the golden lib. i. 46. zodiac from the Memnonium. He overthrew the massive walls of the temples, set fire to what would burn, and broke the statues with the zeal of a religious conqueror. He forced open the underground tombs of the Theban kings, to carry off the treasures that had been buried therein; and he afterwards enriched the palaces of Persepolis and Susa, and the temples of the fire worshippers, with the offerings which the piety of fifteen centuries had Pausanias, dedicated to the honour of Amun-Ra. One of the colossal statues of Amunothph III., above fifty feet high, though sitting, was then with a laborious wantonness broken

lib. i. 42.

in half at the waist, the head and shoulders were thrown to the ground, while the remaining part was left in a sitting posture. This statue gained its celebrity by uttering musical notes every morning at sunrise, to the wonder of the surrounding worshippers; and it was to stop this miracle that the Persians broke it. But the zeal of the Egyptian priests was not so easily checked; and when the Persians left the country the broken statue uttered every morning the sounds as before. In looking at the numerous broken statues, we cannot fail to observe that most of them were broken on purpose, either in wantonness or in insult; and when they were of great size and hard stone this could only be done by a blow as from a sledge-hammer. Nor is it less clear that the principal blow was aimed at the beard. From this alone we might learn to which of the enemies of Egypt we owe the destruction of these works of art. The Persians held their own beards in such reverence, that they thought the greatest insult that they could offer to the Egyptians was to break off the beard from the statues of their gods and kings. In Nubia, above the cataract, the beards which remain upon the statues tell us that they were beyond the reach of the Persians.

(4) On this conquest by the Persians, as we have before Agathar- seen on the conquest by the Ethiopians, the working cides, ap. of the gold mines near the Golden Berenice again Photium. ceased. The criminals and prisoners, the unhappy victims of Egyptian tyranny, labouring in the caverns under a guard of soldiers, must have heard with delight of the Persian success. Their chains fell from their hands as Egypt lost its liberties; the slavery of their masters was their freedom.

(5) When Cambyses returned in disappointment to Memphis he continued in his course of tyranny and in his Herodotus, attacks upon the Egyptian religion. It happened iii. 27. that the bull Apis had been some time dead, and the priests, after a long search, had found a successor with the wished-for spots. It was black, with a square white spot on its forehead, and a second large spot in the form of an eagle on its back; it had double hairs on its tail, and the mark of a scarabæus under its tongue. Accordingly, instead of being put to the plough it was made a god. As we learn from its statues, it had a round plate of gold fixed between its horns

(see Fig. 6). The horns and the plate of metal were meant to represent the new moon, only one day old, when that planet, on a clear evening, appears like a pale round plate, embraced within a pair of horns of light, upon which it rests. To add to the animal's holiness, the priests said that it had no earthly father, but that a ray of light came down from heaven upon the cow its mother, and this was followed in due time by the birth of the god; and that the mother had no second calf. When it was brought to Memphis the whole city put on a face of rejoicing, the people received the lowing animal in their best clothes, and gave themselves up to feasting and every outward appearance of joy. Such was the face of the city when Cambyses returned from the Thebaid, dispirited at the loss of one large army, and at the other's want of success against the Ethiopians. He immediately declared that the people of Memphis were rejoicing at his misfortunes. He ordered the city magistrates into his presence, to ask the cause of the feasting; and when they said that it was for the arrival of the bull Apis, he had them put to death for telling him a falsehood. He then sent for the priests, and when they told him the same story he ordered them to bring this wonderful bull into his presence. When the animal was brought in he struck at it with his dagger, and wounded it in the thigh, and laughing told the priests that it was made of flesh and blood, and was no god. He then had the priests scourged, and ordered the rejoicing of the citizens to be stopped on pain of death. Thus ended this great Egyptian festival; and when the bull shortly after


wards died, it was buried privately without the lib. iii. 37. usual pomp. Cambyses afterwards opened the tombs in the neighbourhood of Memphis, and broke up the mummies. He went into the great temple of Pthah, and made a joke of the dwarf statue of the god, which in this temple was rather a Phenician than an Egyptian deity. He also forced his way into the Phenician temple of the Cabeiri, the punishing gods, which none but the priests ever entered; he laughed at the ceremonies, and burned the statues.

Lib. iii. 30.

(6) The mad and violent conduct of Cambyses was not shown only against the Egyptians. When his messengers had returned from Elephantine before his march towards Meroë, they had brought back from the

Ethiopians a long bow, sent in mockery of the weakness of the Persians; and his brother Smerdis had won the respect of the soldiers by being able to draw it within two fingers' breadth of the full. Cambyses therefore in jealousy sent him back to Persia, and soon afterwards sent a messenger after him to murder him. Then, copying the Egyptian customs, and disregarding the laws of his own country, he married one of his sisters, and then another sister, putting the former to death. The physicians said that much of this violent conduct arose from an epilepsy, which he had laboured under from his birth; but the Egyptians said that his madness was sent from heaven as a punishment for his murder of the bull Apis. Thus men who have the misfortune to be brought up in a false religion fancy that there is one rule of justice for themselves and another for their Maker, and that the decrees of Providence are governed by even less wisdom than they feel in their own breasts. The Egyptians would have punished Cambyses, if they could, for the best of reasons; for crushing their country, for putting their king to death, and for murdering his own brother and sister; but they thought the crime that the gods punished him for was killing the sacred bull.

(7) Thus Cambyses wasted two years in Egypt, till he was recalled by a rebellion of the Magians at home. Lib. iv. 167. He appointed Aryandes prefect of the province, and then returned to Syria. There he soon died, and after an interregnum of a few months was succeeded by DARIUS (see Fig. 180), the mildest of the Persian rulers over the conquered Egyptians.

(8) It was about that time that the Princess Pheretima fled to Egypt from Barca, to beg for help from the Persians. She was the mother of Arcesilaus, king of Barca, which with Cyrene and three other little cities together made the Pentapolis; and when the people of Barca rebelled against the Greek no bles and put her son to death, she fled to 'Egypt for help. She was favourably received by Aryandes, both as an excuse for stretching the Persian power, and also on account of services rendered by her family to Cambyses; and he scnt a large force to avenge her quartel. The Persian

Fig. 180.

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