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the Nile Valley was occupied by EGYPT, a monarchy the most ancient, with a history among the most wonderful in the world. While other nations may be watched in their progress from ignorance and rudeness to whatever art they have possessed, Egypt appears in the earliest morning light of history "already skillful, erudite, and strong." Some of her buildings are older than the Migration of Abraham, but the oldest of them show a skill in the quarrying, transporting, carving, and joining of stone. which modern architects admire but can not surpass.
127. FIRST PERIOD. The early Egyptians believed that there had been a time when their ancestors were savages and cannibals, dwelling in caves in those ridges of sandstone which border the Nile Valley on the east; and that their greatest benefactors were Osiris and Isis, who elevated them into a devout and civilized nation, eating bread, drinking wine and beer, and planting the olive. The worship of Osiris and Isis, therefore, became prevalent throughout Egypt, while the several cities and provinces had each its own local divinities. According to Manetho, a native historian of later times,* gods, spirits, demigods, and manes, or the souls of men, were the first rulers of Egypt. This is merely an ancient way of saying that the earliest history of Egypt, as of most other countries, is shrouded in ignorance and fabulous conjecture.
128. Instead of commencing its existence as a united kingdom, Egypt consisted at first of a number of scattered nomes, or petty states, each having for its nucleus a temple and a numerous establishment of priests. Fifty-three of these nomes are mentioned by one historian, thirty-six by another. As one became more powerful, it sometimes swallowed up its neighbors, and grew into a kingdom which embraced a large portion or even the whole of the country.
129. The first mortal king of Mis'raim, the "double land," was Menes, of This. His inheritance was in Upper Egypt, but by his talents and exploits he made himself master of the Lower, and selected there a site for his new capital. For this purpose he drained a marshy tract which at certain seasons had been overflowed by the Nile, made a dyke to confine the river within its regular channel, and on the reclaimed ground built the city of Memphis. Menes may therefore be considered as the founder of the empire.
130. Athothes (Thoth), his son and successor, was skilled in medicine and wrote works on anatomy. Of the six following kings in regular descent who form this dynasty little is known, and it is even possible that they belong rather to tradition than to ascertained history. After the two Thoths came Mnevis, or Uenephes, who bore the name of the Sacred Calf of Heliopolis. He is said, nevertheless, to have been a high-minded, in
* He lived in the reign of Ptolemy I, B. C. 323-283.
telligent man, and the most affable prince on record. He built the pyramid of Kokoʻme, whose site can not now be identified. During his reign there was famine in Egypt.
131. The Third Dynasty reigned at Memphis; its founder was Sesorcheres the Giant. The third king, Sesonchosis, was a wise and peaceful monarch, who advanced the three arts of writing, medicine, and architecture, and was celebrated by a grateful people in hymns and ballads as among their greatest benefactors. He introduced the fashion of building with hewn stones, previous structures having been made either of rough, irregular stones or of brick. He was known to the Greeks as the 'peaceful Sesostris," while the two later monarchs who bore this name were great warriors and conquerors.
132. His son, Sasychis (Mares-sesorcheres), was a celebrated law-giver. He is said to have organized the worship of the gods, and to have invented geometry and astronomy. He also made that singular law by which a debtor might give his father's mummy as security for a debt. If the money was not paid, neither the debtor nor his father could ever rest in the family sepulcher, and this was considered the greatest possible disgrace.
133. The monumental and more certain history begins with the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Dynasties of Manetho, which reigned simultaneously in Lower, Middle, and Upper Egypt. Of these the Fourth Dynasty, reigning at Memphis, was most powerful, the others being in some degree dependent. Proofs of its greatness are found in the vast structures of stone which overspread Middle Egypt between the Libyan Mountains and the Nile; for the Fourth Dynasty may be remembered as that of the pyramid-builders.
134. The name of Soris, the first of the family, has been found upon the northern pyramid of Abousîr. Suphis I, or Shufu, was the Cheops of Herodotus, and is regarded as the builder of the Great Pyramid. His brother, Suphis II, or Nou-shufu, had part in this work. He reigned jointly with Suphis I, and alone, after his death, for three years. These two kings were oppressors of the people and despisers of the gods. They crushed the former by the severe toils involved in their public works, and ordered the temples of the latter to be closed and their worship to
135. Mencheres the Holy, son of Suphis I, had, like his father, a reign of sixty-three years, but differed from him in being a good and humane sovereign. He re-opened the temples which his father had closed, restored religious ceremonies of sacrifice and praise, and put an end to the oppressive labors. He was therefore much venerated by the people, and was the subject of many ballads and hymns. The four remaining kings of the Fourth Dynasty are known to us only by names and dates. The
B. C. 2440.
family included eight kings in all, and the probable aggregate of their reigns is 220 years.
136. The kings of the Second Dynasty ruling Middle Egypt from This or Abydus, and those of the Fifth ruling Upper Egypt from the Isle of Elephantine, were probably related by blood to the powerful sovereigns of Lower Egypt, and the tombs of all three families are found in the neighborhood of Memphis. The structure of the Pyramids shows great advancement in science and the mechanical arts. Each is placed so as exactly to face the cardinal points, and the Great Pyramid is precisely upon the 30th parallel of latitude. The wonderful accuracy of the latter in its astronomical adjustments, has led a few profound scholars of the present day to believe that it could only have been built by Divine revelation; not by the Egyptians, but by a people led from Asia for the purpose, the object being to establish a perfectly trustworthy system of weights and measures.
137. The Arabian copper-mines of the Sinaitic peninsula were worked under the direction of the Pyramid kings. At this period the arts had reached their highest perfection. Drawing, † sculpture, and writing, as well as modes of living and general civilization, were much the same as fifteen centuries later.
138. B. C. 2220. While a sixth royal family succeeded the pyramidbuilders at Memphis, the second and fifth continued to reign at This and Elephantis, while two more arose at Heracleop'olis and Thebes; so that Egypt was now divided into five separate kingdoms, the Theban becoming gradually the most powerful. Thus weakened by division, and perhaps exhausted by the great architectural works which had withdrawn the people from the practice of arms, the country easily became the prey of nomad tribes from the neighboring regions of Syria and Arabia. These were called Hyk'sos, or Shepherd Kings. They entered Lower Egypt from the north-east, and soon became masters of the country from Memphis to the sea.
139. SECOND PERIOD. B. C. 1900-1525. Native dynasties continued for a time to reign in Middle and Upper Egypt; and even in the heart of the Delta a new kingdom sprang up at Xo'is, which maintained itself during the whole time that the Shepherds were in the land. A large number of the enslaved Egyptians continued to cultivate the soil, paying tribute to the conquerors; and, in time, the example of their good order may have mollified the fierce invaders. The latter built themselves a strongly fortified camp, Ava'ris, in the eastern portion of the Delta, near the later city of Pelusium.
*See "Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid," by Prof. Piazzi Smyth. † See ? 187.
140. At the same period with the invasion, a Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty, the Osortasidæ, arose at Thebes, and became one of the most powerful tribes of native rulers. They obtained paramount authority over the kingdoms of Elephantine and Heracleopolis, held the Sinaitic Peninsula, and extended their victorious arms into Arabia and Ethiopia. Sesortasen I ruled all Upper Egypt. Under the second and third sovereigns of that name the kingdom reached its highest prosperity. The third Sesortasen enriched the country by many canals, and left monuments of his power at Sennel, near the southern border of the empire, which still excite the wonder of travelers. The largest edifice and the most useful work in Egypt were executed by his successor, Ammenemes III. The first was the Labyrinth in the Faioom, which Herodotus visited, and declared that it surpassed all human works. It contained three thousand rooms; fifteen hundred of these were under ground, and contained the mummies of kings and of the sacred crocodiles. The walls of the fifteen hundred upper apartments were of solid stone, entirely covered with sculpture. The other work of Ammenemes was the Lake Moëris. This was a natural reservoir formed near a bend of the Nile; but he so improved it by art as to retain and carefully distribute the gifts of the river, and thus insure the fruitfulness of the province.
141. A weaker race succeeded, and the calamities of Lower Egypt were now extended throughout the land. The Hyksos advanced to the southward, and the fugitive kings of Thebes sought refuge in Ethiopia. With the exception of the Xoites, intrenched in the marshes of the Delta, all Egypt became for a time subject to the Shepherds. They burned cities, destroyed temples, and made slaves of all the people whom they did not put to death. Two native dynasties reigned at Memphis, and one at Heracleopolis, but they were tributary to the
142. Some have supposed that the Pyramids were erected by these Shepherd Kings. But the best authorities describe the race as rude, ignorant, and destitute of arts, as compared with the Egyptians, either before or after their invasion; and after the long deluge of barbarism was swept back, we find religion, language, and art- kept, doubtless, and cultivated in seclusion by the learned class-precisely as they were before the interruption. The absence of records during this period would alone prove the lack of learning in the ruling race. Baron Bunsen supposes the Hyksos to have been identical with the Philistines of Palestine. Some of them took refuge in Crete when they were driven out of Egypt, and re-appeared in Palestine from the west about the same time that the Israelites entered it from the east. In any case, a gap of nearly four hundred years occurs in Egyptian history between the old and the new empires, during which the Holy City of Thebes was in the hands of bar
barians, the annals ceased, and the names of the kings, either native or foreign, are for the most part unknown.
143. THIRD PERIOD. B. C. 1525-525. After their long humiliation, the people of Egypt rallied for a great national revolt, under the Theban king Amo ́sis, and drove the invaders, after a hard-fought contest, from their soil. Now came the brightest period of Egyptian history. Amosis was rewarded with the undivided sovereignty, and became the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Memphis was made the imperial capital. Many temples were repaired, as we may learn from memoranda preserved in the quarries of Syene and the Upper Nile. Aahmes, the wife of Amosis, bears the surname Nefru-ari, "the good, glorious woman," and seems to have been held in the highest honor ever ascribed to a queen. She was a Theban princess of Ethiopian blood, and probably had many provinces for her dowry. Amosis died B. C. 1499.
144. For eight hundred years Egypt continued a single, consolidated kingdom. During this time art obtained its highest perfection; the great temple-palaces of Thebes were built; numerous obelisks, "fingers of the sun," pointed heavenward; and the people, who had long groaned under a cruel servitude, enjoyed, under the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties, the protection of a mild and well-organized government.
145. It may be feared that the Egyptians wreaked upon a captive nation within their own borders their resentment against their late oppressors. The Hebrews grew and multiplied in Egypt, and their lives were made bitter with hard bondage. Many of the vast brick constructions of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties may have been erected by the captive Hebrews, who are expressly said to have built the two treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
146. Royal women were treated with higher respect in Egypt than in any other ancient monarchy. Thothmes I, the third king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, was succeeded by his daughter, Mesphra or Amen-set, who reigned as regent for her younger brother, Thothmes II. He died a minor, and she held the same office, or, perhaps, reigned jointly with her next younger brother, Thothmes III; but not with his cordial consent, for when she, too, died, after a regency of twenty-two years, he caused her name and image to be effaced from all the sculptures in which they had appeared together.
147. B. C. 1461-1414. This king, Thothmes III, is distinguished not more for his foreign wars than for the magnificent palaces and temples which he built at Karnac, Thebes, Memphis, Heliopolis, Coptos, and other places. Hardly an ancient city in Egypt or Nubia is unmarked by remains of his edifices. The history of his twelve successive campaigns is recorded in sculpture upon the walls of his palace at Thebes. He drove the Hyksos. from their last stronghold, Avaʼris, where they had been shut up since the days of his father. The two obelisks near Alexandria, which some Roman