« PreviousContinue »
army was commanded by Amasis, and the fleet by Badres, of the Persian royal race; and they laid siege to Barca in due form. During nine months the city lib. iv. 200. was obstinately defended, the other four cities taking no part in the struggle. The open assaults of the Persians were driven back by the sallies of the besieged; their mines were met with countermines; and the city was at length only taken by treachery and falsehood. The Persians, as though in despair, made a treaty with the citizens; but when the latter opened their gates, the oaths were broken, the army rushed in, put the rebels to death, and gave up the place to Pheretima and the descendants of Battus the Dorian. The Persians would then have attacked Cyrene, but they were recalled by Aryandes; and during their whole march to Egypt they were harassed by the Libyans in the rear, who put all stragglers to the sword.
(*) The quiet of the country was for a short time disturbed by a rebellion against Aryandes, whose government Polyænus, was marked with no little cruelty; and Darius Strategem. thought it necessary to lead an army into Egypt through Arabia to check further mischief. On his arrival in Memphis, he found the people in grief for the death of the god Apis, the sacred bull. There was the same stir through the city and for the same cause as when Cambyses arrived there. But the behaviour of the two kings was by no means the same. Darius, instead of being angry, offered a large sum as a reward to any one who could find a new bull with the right spots. If the sum was as large as one hundred talents of gold, which is the amount mentioned, we must suppose that it was meant also to cover the two costly ceremonies Herodotus, of installing the new god and burying the old one. lib. iii. 139; The feelings of the Egyptians in these matters were lib. ii. 110. not new to Darius; he had been in Memphis before, when he formed part of the body-guard of Cambyses. And now that he was sovereign of the country, he yielded to the scruples of the priests of the temple of Pthah, who thought it wrong that his statue should be set up in front of that of Rameses II., because that great hero was said to have conquered the Scythians, a task which as yet Darius had been unequal to.
(10) It was in the reign of Darius that money was first
Lib. i. 24.
coined in Egypt. The well-known golden Darics had been Herodotus, lately coined by the king in Persia, and the ambition lib. iv. 166. of the satrap Aryandes led him to coin silver in his province. The Aryandean money of Egypt was long highly valued; but it is not now known to us, perhaps only because we do not know how to distinguish it from the silver money of Persia. We find, however, in our cabinets some very early coins having on one side the dolphin and a small fish with a line of waves between them, or a man riding on a sea-monster in place of the dolphin; and on the other side the word "melek" written by means of an owl with the two sceptres of Osiris, and the sun with rays, in place of the hawk and thunderbolt, which are more usual on the later coins (see Figs. 181 and 182). These may possibly be the coins we are in search of. The dolphin, or the man on the sea-monster, may represent Arion, whose statue Herodotus so describes ; and then the whole may be read Melek Ari-antebt, or the satrap Aryandes. The coinage of Aryandes, however, cost him his life; and his crime may have been his thus putting his own name upon them. For this and for some other acts in imitation of royalty, Darius charged him with rebellion and put him to death.
(11) The coins of Cyprus (see Figs. 183 and 184), also of these years, though engraved in good Greek art, show that that island was not beyond the reach of Egyptian opinions. The inscriptions are in Phenician letters, borrowed from the hieroglyphics. They bear on one side the bull Apis accompanied with the hieroglyphic character for life; and over it is the winged sun, sometimes as sculptured by the Egyptians, and sometimes in its more Persian form. On the other side is either the eagle or a flying dove. These coins perhaps belong to the towns of Salamis and Paphos; and the name of Apoi,
the bird, may, with the Egyptian article prefixed, represent the name of that latter city. In Cyprus we find Greek art united with Phenician language and Egyptian letters and superstitions.
(12) After the death of Aryandes, Darius gave the government of Egypt to Amasis (see Fig. 185), who had been before employed as general Excerpta, in the attack upon Barca. Amasis, by his pl. 3, 4. name, and particularly by his titles in the hieroglyphical inscriptions, would seem to have been a native Egyptian, perhaps of the old royal family; Fig. 185. and his appointment is a proof as it was a cause of the mild government under Darius. He bore the title of crowned melek, or satrap, of Upper and Lower Egypt, and called himself the son of the goddess Neith, as the kings of Sais had done ; in the same way that the Theban kings had called themselves sons of Ra, and the Memphitic kings sons of Pthah. Amasis was succeeded in his high office by his son Nephra (see Fig. 186), with the same titles; and Egypt was quietly ruled over by these two meleks till about the twenty-ninth year Fig. 186. of Darius. Thus under these native rulers Egypt was governed with mildness and justice. lib. i. 95. Temples were built, and the public worship of the gods performed as usual; and Darius, from his many new
and wholesome laws, was counted by the Egyptians among their great lawgivers. He is the only one of the Persian kings who received from the priests the ancient religious titles.
(13) In the reign of Darius was built the oldest of the temples which now remain in the Great Oasis. It is dedicated to the god Amun. The Oasis is separated from the valley of the Nile by a desert without water, too wide to be crossed without a camel, which has a stomach that enables it to drink enough to bear a week's journey without need of a second supply. As this beast of burden is never mentioned in the hieroglyphical inscriptions, we may be sure that such a journey was usually performed by friendly Arabs, and not by Egyptians. Here are no springs on the road, at which the traveller and his beast may drink, as between Thebes and the Red Sea; and as well might a merchant attempt to send his goods across the ocean without a ship, as from Abydos to the Oasis without a camel. This animal is called the ship of the desert. The Egyptians had known it even from the time of Abraham, but had no need of its services on the river's bank. They did not busy themselves in journeys across the desert, or we should see it carved on the monuments and painted in the tombs. Nor is it among the foreign animals that ornament the nation's triumphs. The Ababdeh Arab is even to this day Hoskins's the owner of the camels with which the caravans cross the desert on either side of the river. He was of a subject race, and unclean in the sight of an Egyptian; and perhaps the patient camel fell into the same contempt as its master. To the north-west of the Great Oasis are the Western Oasis, the Little Oasis, and the Oasis of Ammon, with here and there a well of water between them. When these islands in the sand were colonised by Egyptians it was from the Thebaid, as we see by the gods to whom their temples were dedicated. These green spots find their moisture by being sunk like basins in the desert; and the traveller looks down into them with delight when his thirsty camel reaches the brink. They lie in an irregular line, along which the water drains through the sand, like a river underground, to the Mediterranean near Cyrene, either from the Nile's overflow in Ethiopia, or from the rains in Darfour. Along the
xvii. 4, 3.
whole of this route some little trade was carried on with Thebes; but that any army, however small, should Ammianus ever have reached Upper Egypt from the Mediter- Marcellinus, ranean through the Oases seems impossible. There was a tradition, however, that at some early 'time the Phenician's had marched from Carthage and sacked Herodotus, Thebes; and the Theban priests told Herodotus lib. ii. 54. that two of their priestesses had once been seized and carried off by the Phenicians of Libya.
Lib. ii. 158.
(14) Under these native meleks the great canal which was to join the Nile and the Red Sea, and which had been begun by Necho II., was again carried forward. It was dug from Bubastis as far as the Lower Bitter Lakes, about forty miles from the present head of the Red Sea; and though not at the time carried further, it had the effect of watering the land through which it flowed, and of making the waters of these little lakes sweet and full of water-fowl and fish. They were then called the Champsi or Crocodile Lakes.
lib. iii. 89.
(15) The tribute levied by Darius on Egypt and Cyrene amounted to only seven hundred talents of silver, Herodotus, or one hundred thousand pounds sterling, besides lib. iii. 91. the crown revenues on the fisheries at the Lake of Moris, and the hundred and twenty thousand measures of corn which were paid to the Persian garrison in the White Wall of Memphis and to their allies in the other fortified cities. There was a Persian saying that Herodotus, Cambyses governed like a lord, and Darius like a tradesman; but, though the army may have admired the former, the suffering people must have preferred the latter, for as long as the tribute was regularly paid, Darius left the Egyptians to the quiet enjoyment of their own laws and religion and of the rest of their wealth. The Ethiopians also, though they had been able to resist the rash invasion by Cambyses, could not now refuse to own themselves the subjects of a king who governed all Egypt quietly and firmly. But it would have been difficult for the Persians to levy any large tribute from so distant a country; and therefore a very small payment was thought enough to make it ap- Lib. iii. 97 pear to the government at Susa as if the valley of the Nile to the south of Syene was an obedient province.
Pliny, lib. vi. 33.