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If, on one side, the Phenicians were separated from the productive Babylonia by the Arabian Desert, on the other side, the western portion of the same desert divided them from the no lees productive valley of the Nile. In those early times which preceded the rise of Greek civilization, their land trade embraced both regions, and they served as the sole agents of international traffic between the two. Conveniently as their towns were situated for maritime commerce with the Nile, Egyptian jealousy had excluded Phenician vessels not less than those of the Greeks from the mouths of that river, until the reign of Psammetichus (672-618 bc); and thus even the merchants of Tyre could then reach Memphis only by means of caravans, employing as their instruments (as I have already observed) the Arabian tribes, alternately plunderers and carriers.

Respecting Egypt, as respecting Assyria, since the works of Hecataeus are unfortunately lost, our earliest information is derived from Herodotus, who visited Egypt about two centuries after the reign of Psammetichus, when it formed part of one of the twenty Persian satrapies. The Egyptian marvels and peculiarities which he recounts, are more numerous as well as more diversified, than the Assyrian; and had the vestiges been effaced as completely in the former as in the latter, his narrative would probably have met with an equal degree of suspicion. But the hard stone, combined with the dry climate of Upper Egypt (where a shower of rain counted as a prodigy), have given such permanence to the monuments in the valley of the Nile, that enough has remained to bear out the father of Grecian history, and to show, that in describing what he professes to have seen, he is a guide perfectly trustworthy. For that which he heard, he appears only in the character of a reporter, and often an incredulous reporter. Yet though this distinction his hearsay and his ocular evidence is not only obvious, but of the most capital moment, it has been too often neglected by those who depreciate him as a witness.

The mysterious river Nile, a god in the eyes of ancient Egyptians, and still preserving both its volume and its usefulness undiminished amidst the general degradation of the country, reached the sea in the time of Herodotus by five natural mouths, besides two others artificially dug. Its Pelusiac branch formed the eastern boundary of Egypt, its Canopic branch (170 miles distant) the western; while the Sebennytic branch was a continuation of the straight line of the upper river: from this latter branched off the Saitic and the Mendesian arms. The overflowings of the Nile are far more fertilizing than those of the Euphrates in Assyria,—partly from their more uniform recurrence both in time and quantity, partly from the rich silt which they bring down and deposit, whereas the Euphrates served only as moisture. The patience of the Egyptians had excavated, in Middle Egypt, the vast reservoir (partly, it seems, natural and pre-existing) called the Lake of Moeris—and in the Delta, a net­work of numerous canals. Yet on the whole the hand of man had been less tasked than in Babylonia; whilst the soil, annually enriched, yielded its abundant produce without either plow or spade to assist the seed cast in by the husbandman. I hat under these circumstances a dense and regularly organized population should have been concentrated in fixed abodes along the valley occupied by this remarkable river, is no matter of wonder. The marked peculiarities of the locality seem to have brought about such a result, in the earliest periods to which human society can be traced. Along the 550 miles of its undivided course from Syene to Memphis, where for the most part the mountains leave only a comparatively narrow strip on each bank—as well as in the broad expanse between Memphis and the Mediterranean—there prevailed a peculiar form of theocratic civilization, from a date which even in the time of Herodotus was immemorially ancient. But if we seek for some measure of this antiquity, earlier than the time when Greeks were first admitted into Egypt in the reign of Psammetichus, we find only the computations of the priests, reaching back for many thousand years, first of government by immediate and present gods, next of human kings. Such computations have been transmitted to us by Herodotus, Manetho, and Diodorus —agreeing in their essential conception of the foretime, with gods in the first part of her series and men in the second, but differing materially in events, names, and epochs. Probably, if we possessed lists from other Egyptian temples, besides those which Manetho drew up at Heliopolis or which Herodotus learned at Memphis, we should find discrepancies from both these two. To compare these lists, and to reconcile them as far as they admit of being reconciled, is interesting as enabling us to understand the Egyptian mind, but conducts to no trustworthy chronological results, and forms no part of the task of an historian of Greece.

To the Greeks Egypt was a closed world before the reign of Psammetichus, though after that time it gradually became an important part of their field both of observation and action. The astonishment which the country created in the mind of the earliest Grecian visitors may be learned even from the narrative of Herodotus, who doubtless knew it by report long before he went there. Both the physical and moral features of Egypt stood in strong contrast with Grecian experience. “Not only (says Herodotus) does the climate differ from all other climates, and the river from all oilier rivers, but Egyptian law’s and customs are opposed on almost all points to those of other men.” The Delta was at that time full of large and populous cities, built on artificial elevations of ground and seemingly not much inferior to Memphis itself, which was situated on the left bank of the Nile (opposite to the site of the modern Cairo), a little higher up than the spot where the Delta begins. From the time when the Greeks first became cognizant of Egypt, to the building of Alexandria and the reign of the Ptolemies, Memphis was the first city in Egypt. Yet it seems not to have been always so; there had been an earlier period when Thebes was the seat of Egyptian power, and Upper Egypt of far more consequence than Middle Egypt. Vicinity to the Delta, which must always have contained the largest number of cities and the widest surface of productive territory, probably enabled Memphis to usurp this honor from Thebes; and the predominance of Lower Egypt was still further confirmed when Psammetichus introduced Ionian and Karian troops as his auxiliaries in the government of the country. But the stupendous magnitude of the temples and palaces, the profusion of ornamental sculpture and painting, the immeasurable range of sepulchers hewn in the rocks still remaining as attestations of the grandeur of Thebes—not to mention Ombi, Edfu and Elephantine—show that Upper Egypt was once the place to which the land-tax from the productive Delta was paid, and where the kings and priests who employed it resided. It has been even contended that Thebes itself was originally settled by immigrants from still higher regions of the river; and the remains, yet found along the Nile in Nubia, are analogous, both in style and in grandeur, to those in the Thebais. What is remarkable is, that both the one and the other are strikingly distinguished from the Pyramids, which alone remain to illustrate the site of the ancient Memphis. There are no pyramids either in Upper Egypt or in Nubia: but on the Nile above Nubia, near the Ethiopian Meroe, pyramids in great number, though of inferior dimensions, are again found.

From whence, or in what manner, Egyptian institutions first took their rise, we have no means of determining. Yet there seems little to bear out the supposition of Heeren and other eminent authors, that they were transmitted down the Nile by Ethiopian colonists from Meroe. Herodotus certainly conceived Egyptians and Ethiopians (who in his time jointly occupied the border island of Elephantine, which he had himself visited) as completely distinct from each other, in race and customs not less than in language; the latter being generally of the rudest habits, of great stature, and still greater physical strength—the chief part of them subsisting on meat and milk, and blest with unusual longevity. He knew of Meroe, as the Ethiopian metropolis and a considerable city, fifty-two days’ journey higher up the river than Elephantine. But his informants had given him no idea of analogy between its institutions and those of Egypt. He states that the migration of a large number of the Egyptian military caste, during the reign of Psammetichus, into Ethiopia, had first communicated civilized customs to these southern barbarians. If there be really any connection between the social phenomena of Egypt and those of Meroe, it seems more reasonable to treat the latter as derivative from the former.

The population of Egypt was classified into certain castes or hereditary professions; of which the number was not exactly defined, and is represented differently by different authors. The priests stand clearly marked out, as the order richest, most powerful, and most venerated. Distributed all over the country, they possessed exclusively the means of reading and writing, besides a vast amount of narrative matter treasured up in the memory, the whole stock of medical and physical knowledge then attainable, and those rudiments of geometry (or rather land-measuring) which were so often (ailed into use in a country annually inundated. To each god, and to each temple, throughout Egypt, lands and other propel lies belonged, whereby the numerous bands of priests attached to him were maintained. It seems too that a further portion of the lands of the kingdom was set apart for them in individual property, though on this point no certainty is attainable. Their ascendency, both direct and indirect, over the minds of the people, was immense. They prescribed that minute ritual under which the life of every Egyptian, not excepting the king himself, was passed, and which was for themselves more full of harassing particularities than for any one else. Every day in the year belonged to some particular god; the priests alone knew to which. There were different gods in every Nome, though Isis and Osiris were common to all. The priests of each god constituted a society apart, more or less important, according to the comparative celebrity of the temple. The high priests of Hephaestus, whose dignity was said to have been transmitted from father to son through a series of 341 generations (commemorated by the like number of colossal statues, which Herodotus himself saw), were second in importance only to the king. The property of each temple included troops of dependents and slaves, who were stamped with “holy marks,” and who must have been numerous in order to suffice for the large buildings and their constant visitors.

Next in caste or order, whose native name indicated that they stood on importance to the sacerdotal caste were the military the left hand of the king, while the priests occupied the right. They were classified into Kalasiries and Hermotybii, who occupied lands in eighteen particular Nomes or provinces principally in Lower Egypt. The Kalasiries had once amounted 160,000 men, the Hermotybii to 250,000, when at the maximum of their population; but that highest point had long been passed in the time of Herodotus. To each man of this soldier-caste was assigned a portion of land equal to about 6,1/2 English acres, free from any tax; but what measures were taken to keep the lots of land in suitable harmony with a fluctuating number of holders, we know not. The statement of Herodotus relates to a time long past and gone, and describes what was believed, by the priests with whom he talked, to have been the primitive constitution of their country anterior to the Persian conquest. The like is still more true respecting the statement of Diodorus; who says that the territory of Egypt was divided into three parts—one part belonging to the king, another to the priests, and the remainder to the soldiers. His language seems to intimate that every Nome was so divided, and even that the three portions were equal, though he does not expressly say so. The result of these statements, combined with the history of Joseph in the book of Genesis, seems to be, that the lands of the priests and the soldiers were regarded as privileged property and exempt from all burdens, while the remaining soil was considered as the property of the king, who, however, received from it a fixed proportion, one-fifth of the total produce, leaving the rest in the hands of the cultivators. We are told that Sethos, priest of the god Phtha (or Hephaestus) at Memphis and afterward named King, oppressed the military caste and deprived them of their lands. In revenge for this they withheld from him their aid when Egypt was invaded by Sennacherib. Further, in the reign of Psammetichus, a large number (210,000) of these soldiers migrated into Ethiopia from a feeling of discontent, leaving their wives and children behind them. It was Psammetichus who first introduced Ionian and Karian mercenaries into the country, and began innovations on the ancient Egyptian constitution: so that the disaffection toward him, on the part of the native soldiers, no longer permitted to serve as exclusive guards to the king, is not difficult to explain. The Kalasiries and Hermotybii were interdicted from every description of art or trade. There can be little doubt that under the Persians their lands were made subject to the tribute. This may partly explain the frequent revolts which they maintained, with very considerable bravery, against Hie Persian kings.

Herodotus enumerates five other races (so he calls them) or castes, besides priests and soldiers—herdsmen, swineherds, tradesmen, interpreters, and pilots; an enumeration which perplexes us, inasmuch as it takes no account of the husbandmen, who must always have constituted the majority of the population. It is perhaps for this very reason that they are not comprised in the list—not standing out specially marked or congregated together, like the five above-named, and therefore not seeming to constitute a race apart. The distribution of Diodorus, who specifies (over and above priests and soldiers) husbandmen, herdsmen, and artificers, embraces much more completely the whole population. It seems more the statement of a reflect­ing man, pushing out the principle of hereditary occupations to its consequences; (and the comments which the historian so abundantly interweaves with his narrative show that such was the character of the authorities which he followed;)—while the list given by Herodotus comprises that which struck his observation. It seems that a certain proportion of the soil of the Delta consisted of marsh land, including pieces of habitable ground, but impenetrable to an invading enemy, and favorable only to the growth of papyrus and other aquatic plants. Other portions of the Delta, as well as of the upper valley in parts where it widened to the eastward, were too wet for the culture of grain, though producing the richest herbage, and eminently suitable ;to the race of Egyptian herdsmen, who thus divided the soil with the husbandmen. Herdsmen generally were held reputable; but the race of swineherds were hated and despised, from the extreme antipathy of all other Egyptians to the pig—which animal yet could not be altogether proscribed, because there were certain peculiar occasions on which it was imperative to offer him in sacrifice to Selene or Dionysus. Herodotus acquaints us that the swineherds wore interdicted from all the temples, and that they always intermarried among themselves, other Egyptians disdaining such an alliance—a statement which indirectly intimates that there was no standing objection against intermarriage of the remaining castes with each other. The caste or race of interpreters began only with the reign of Psammetichus, from the admission of Greek settlers, then for the first time tolerated in the country. Though they were half Greeks, the his­torian does not note them as of inferior account, except as compared with the two ascendent castes of soldiers and priests. Moreover the creation of a new caste shows that there was no consecrated or unchangeable total number.

Those whom Herodotus denominates tradesmen are doubtless identical with the artisans specified by Diodorus—the town population generally as distinguished from that of the country. During the three months of the year when Egypt was covered with water, festival days were numerous—the people thronging by hundreds of thousands, in vast barges, to one or other of the many holy places, combining worship and enjoyment. In Egypt weaving was a trade, whereas in Greece it was the domestic occupation of females. Herodotus treats it as one of those reversals of the order of nature which were seen only in Egypt, that the weaver stayed at home plying his web while his wife went to market. The process of embalming bodies was elaborate and universal, giving employment to a large special class of men. The profusion of edifices, obelisks, sculpture and painting, all executed by native workmen, required a large body of trained sculptors, who in the mechanical branch of their business attained a high excellence. Most of the animals in Egypt were objects of religious reverence, and many of them were identified in the closest manner with particular gods. The order of priests included a large number of hereditary feeders and tenders of these sacred animals. Among the sacerdotal order were also found the computers of genealogies, the infinitely subdivided practitioners in the art of healing, etc., who enjoyed good, reputation, and were sent for as surgeons to Cyrus and Darius. The Egyptian city population was thus exceedingly numerous, so that king Sethon, when called upon to resist an invasion without the aid of the military caste, might well be supposed to have formed an army out of “the tradesmen, the artisans, and the market-people.” And Alexandria, at the commence­ment of the dynasty of the Ptolemies, acquired its numerous and active inhabitants at the expense of Memphis and the ancient towns of Lower Egypt.

The mechanical obedience and fixed habits of the mass of the Egyptian population (not priests or soldiers) was a point which made much impression upon Grecian observers. Solon is said to have introduced at Athens a custom prevalent in Egypt, whereby the Nomarch or chief of each Nome was required to investigate every man’s means of living, and to punish with death those who did not furnish evidence of some recognized occupation. It does not seem that the institution of Caste in Egypt—though insuring unapproachable ascendency to the Priests and much consideration to the Soldiers—was attended with any such profound debasement to the rest as that which falls upon the lowest caste or Sudras in India. No such gulf existed between them as that between the Twice-born and the Once-born in the religion of Brahma. Yet those stupendous works, which form the permanent memorials of the country, remain at the same time as proofs of the oppressive exactions of the kings, and of the reckless caprice with which the lives as well as the contributions of the people were lavised. One hundred and twenty thousand Egyptians were said to have perished in the digging of the canal, which king Nekos began but did not finish, between the Pelusian arm of the Nile and the Red Sea; while the construction of the two great pyramids, attributed to the kings Cheops and Chephren, was described to Herodotus by the priests as a period of exhausting labor and extreme suffering to the whole Egyptian people. And yet the great Labyrinth (said to have been built by the Dodekarchs) appeared to him a more stupendous work than the Pyramids, so that the toil employed upon it cannot have been less destructive. The moving of such vast masses of stone as were seen in the ancient edifices both of Upper and Lower Egypt, with the imperfect mechanical resources then existing, must have tasked the efforts of the people yet more severely than the excavation of the half-finished canal of Nekos. Indeed, the associations with which the Pyramids were connected, in the minds of those with whom Herodotus conversed, were of the most odious character. Such vast works, Aristotle observes, are suitable to princes who desire to consume the strength and break the spirit of their people. With Greek despots, perhaps such an inten­tion may have been sometimes deliberately conceived. But the Egyptian kings may be presumed to have followed chiefly caprice or love of pomp—sometimes views of a permanent benefit to be achieved—as in the canal of Nekos and the vast reservoir of Moeris, with its channel joining the river—when they thus expended the physical strength and even the lives of their subjects.

Sanctity of animal life generally, veneration for particular animals in particular Nomes, and abstinence on religious grounds from certain vegetables, were among the marked features of Egyptian life, and served pre-eminently to impress upon the country that air of singularity which foreigners, like Herodotus, remarked in it. The two specially marked bulls, called Apis at Memphis and Mnevis at Heliopolis, seemed to have enjoyed a sort of national worship. The ibis, the cat, and the dog, were throughout most of the Nomes venerated during life, embalmed like men after death, and if killed, avenged by the severest punishment of the offending party, but the veneration of the crocodile was confined to the neighborhood of Thebes and the lake of Moeris. Such veins of religious sentiment, which distinguished Egypt from Phenicia and Assyria not less than from Greece, were explained by the native priests after their manner to Herodotus; though he declines from pious scruples to communicate what was told to him. They seem remnants continued from a very early stage of Fetichism—and the attempts of different persons, noticed in Diodorus and Plutarch, to account for their origin, partly by legends, partly by theory, will give little satisfaction to any one.

Though Thebes first, and Memphis afterward, were undoubtedly the principal cities of Egypt, yet if the dynasties of Manetho are at all trustworthy, even in their general outline, the Egyptian kings were not taken uniformly either from one or the other. Manetho enumerates on the whole twenty-six different dynasties or families of kings, anterior to the conquest of the country by Cambyses—the Persian kings between Cambyses and Darius Nothus, down to the death of the latter in 405 bc, constituting his twenty-seventh dynasty. Of these twenty-six dynasties, beginning with the year 5702 bc, the first two are Thinites—the third and fourth, Memphites—the fifth, from the island of Elephantine—the sixth, seventh, and eighth, again Memphites—the ninth and tenth, Herakleopolites—the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth, Diospolites or Thebans—the fourteenth, Choites—the fifteenth and sixteenth, Hyksos or Shepherd Kings—the seventeenth, Shepherd Kings, overthrown and succeeded by Diospolites—the eighteenth (bc 1655-1327, in which is included Rameses the great Egyptian conqueror, identified by many authors with Sesostris, 1411 bc)—nineteenth and twentieth, Diospolites— the twenty first, Tanites—the twenty-second, Bubastites—the twenty-third, again Tanites—the twenty-fourth, Saites—the twenty-fifth, Ethiopians, beginning with Sabakon, whom Herodotus also mentions—the twenty-sixth, Saites, including Psammetichus, Nekos, Apries or Uaphris, and Amasis or Amosis. We see by these lists, that according to the manner in which Manetho construed the antiquities of his country, several other cities of Egypt, besides Thebes and Memphis, furnished kings to the whole territory. But we cannot trace any correspondence between the Nomes which furnished kings, and those which Herodotus mentions to have been exclusively occupied by the military caste. Many of the separate Nomes were of considerable substantive importance, and had a marked local character each to itself, religious as well as political; though the whole of Egypt, from Elephantine to Pelusium and Canopus, is said to have always constituted one kingdom, from the earliest times which the native priests could conceive.

We are to consider this kingdom as engaged, long before the time when Greeks were admitted into it, in a standing caravan commerce with Phenicia, Palestine, Arabia, and Assyria. Ancient Egypt having neither vines nor olives, imported both wine and oil; while it also needed especially the frankincense and aromatic products peculiar to Arabia, for its elaborate religious ceremonies. Toward the last quarter of the eighth century bc (a little before Ibe time when the dynasty of the Mermnadae in Lydia was commencing in the person of Gyges), we trace events tending to alter the relation which previously subsisted between these countries, by continued aggressions on the part of the Assyrian monarchs of Nineveh—Shalmaneser and Sennacherib. The former having conquered and led into captivity the ten tribes of Israel, also attacked the Phenician towns on the adjoining coast: Sidon, Palae-Tyrus, and Ake yielded to him, but Tyre itself resisted, and having endured for five years the hardships of a blockade with partial obstruction of its continental aqueducts, was enabled by means of its insular position to maintain independence. It was just at this period that the Grecian establishments in Sicily were forming, and I have already remarked that the pressure of the Assyrians upon Phenicia probably had some effect in determining that contraction of the Phenician occupations in Sicily which really took place (bc 730-720). Respecting Sennacherib, we are informed by the Old Testament that he invaded Judaea—and by Herodotus (who calls him king of the Assyrians and Arabians) that he assailed the pious king Sethos in Egypt: in both cases his army experienced a miraculous repulse and destruction. After this the Assyrians of Nineveh, either torn by intestine dissension, or shaken by the attacks of the Medes, appear no longer active; but about the year 630 bc, the Assyrians or Chaldeans of Babylon manifest a formidable and increasing power. It is, moreover, during this century that the old routine of the Egyptian kings was broken through, and a new policy displayed toward foreigners by Psammetichus—which, while it rendered Egypt more formidable to Judaea and Phenicia, opened to Grecian ships and settlers the hitherto inaccessible Nile.

Herodotus draws a marked distinction between the history of Egypt before Psammetichus and the following period. The former he gives as the narration of the priests, without professing to guarantee it—the latter he evidently believes to be well ascertained. And we find that from Psammetichus downward, Herodotus and Manetho are in tolerable harmony, whereas even for the sovereigns occupying the last fifty years before Psammetichus, there are many and irreconcilable discrepancies between them; but they both agree in stating that Psammetichus reigned fifty-four years.

So important an event, as the first admission of the Greeks into Egypt, was made, by the informants of Herodotus, to turn upon two prophecies. After the death of Sethos (priest of Hephaestos as well as king), who left no son, Egypt became divided among twelve kings, of whom Psammetichus was one. It was under this dodekarchy, according to Herodotus, that the marvelous labyrinth near the Lake of Moeris was constructed. The twelve lived and reigned for some time in perfect harmony. But a prophecy had been made known to them, that the one who should make libations in the temple of Hephaestus out of a brazen goblet, would reign over all Egypt. Now it happened that one day when they all appeared armed in that temple to oiler sacrifice, the high priest brought out by mistake only eleven golden goblets instead of twelve; and Psmmetichus, left without a goblet, made use of his brazen helmet as a substitute. Being thus considered, though unintentionally, to have fulfilled the condition of the prophecy, by making libations in a brazen goblet, he became an object of terror to his eleven colleagues, who united to despoil him of his dignity and drove him into the inaccessible marshes. In this extremity he sent to seek counsel from the oracle of Leto at Buto, and received for answer an assurance that “vengeance would come to him by the hands of brazen men showing themselves from the seaward.” His faith was for the moment shaken by so startling a conception as that of brazen men for his allies. But the prophetic veracity of the priest at Buto was speedily shown, when an astonished attendant came to acquaint him in his lurking-place, that brazen men were ravaging the sea-coast of the Delta. It was a body of Ionian and Carian soldiers who had landed for pillage; and the messenger who came to inform Psammetichus had never before seen men in an entire suit of brazen armor. That prince, satisfied that these were the allies whom the oracle had marked out for him, immediately entered into negotiation with the Ionians and Carians, enlisted them in his service, and by their aid, in conjunction with his other partisans, overpowered the other eleven kings—thus making himself the one ruler of Egypt.

Such was the tale by which the original alliance of an Egyptian king with Grecian mercenaries, and the first introduction of Greeks into Egypt, was accounted for and dignified. What followed is more authentic and more important. Psammetichus provided a settlement and lands for his new allies, on the Pelusiac or eastern branch of the Nile, a little below Bubastis. The Ionians were planted on one side of the river, the Carians on the other; and the place was made to serve as a military position, not only for the defense of the eastern border, but also for the support of the king himself against malcontents at home: it was called the Stratopeda, or the Camps. He took pains, moreover, to facilitate the intercourse between them and the neighboring inhabitants by causing a number of Egyptian children to be domiciled with them, in order to learn the Greek language. Hence sprung the interpreters, who, in the time of Herodotus, constituted a permanent hereditary caste or breed.

Though the chief purpose of this first foreign settlement in Egypt, between Pelusium and Bubastis, was to create an independent military force, and with it a fleet, for the king—yet it was of course an opening both for communication and traffic, to all Greeks and to all Phenicians, such as had never before been available. And it was speedily followed by the throwing open of the Canopic or westernmost branch of the river for the purposes of trade specially. According to a statement of Strabo, it was in the reign of Psammetichus that the Milesians, with a fleet of thirty ships, made a descent on that part of the coast, first built a tort in the immediate neighborhood, and then presently founded the town of Naucratis on the right bank of the Canopic Nile. There is much that is perplexing in this affirmation of Strabo; but on the whole I am inclined to think that the establishment of the Greek factories and merchants at Naucratis may be considered as dating in the reign of Psammetichus—Naucratis, however, must have been a city of Egyptian origin in which these foreigners were permitted to take up their abode—not a Greek colony, as Strabo would have us believe. The language of Herodotus seems rather to imply that it was king Amasis (between whom and the death of Psammetichus there intervened nearly half a cen­tury) who first allowed Greeks to settle at Naucratis. Yet on comparing what the historian tells us respecting the courtesan Rhodopis and the brother of Sappho, the poetess, it is evident that there must have been both Greek trade and Greek establishments in that town long before Amasis came to the throne. We may consider then, that both the eastern and western mouths of the Nile became open to the Greeks in the days of Psammetichus: the former as leading to the headquarters of the mercenary Greek troops in Egyptian pay—the latter for purposes of trade.

While this event afforded to the Greeks a valuable enlargement, both of their traffic and of their field of observation, it seems to have occasioned an internal revolution in Egypt. The Nome of Bubastis, in which the new military settlement of foreigners was planted, is numbered among those occupied by the Egyptian military caste. Whether their lands w ere in part taken away from them we do not know; but the mere introduction of such foreigners must have appeared an abomination to the strong conservative feeling of ancient Egypt. And Psammetichus treated the native soldiers in a manner which showed of how much less account Egyptian soldiers had become, since the “ brazen helmets ” had got footing in the land. It had hitherto been the practice to distribute such portions of the military, as were on actual service, in three different posts: at Daphne near Pelusium, on the north-eastern frontier—at Marea on the north-western frontier, near the spot where Alexandria was afterward built—and at Elephantine, on the southern or Ethiopian boundary. Psammetichus, having no longer occasion for their ser­vices on the eastern frontier, since the formation of the mercenary camp, accumulated them in greater number and detained them for an unusual time at the two other stations, especially at Elephantine. Here, Herodotus tells us, they remained for three years unrelieved. Diodorus adds that Psammetichus aligned to those native troops who fought conjointly with the mercenaries, the least honorable post in the line. Discontent at length impelled them to emigrate in a body of 210,000 men into Ethiopia, leaving their wives and children behind in Egypt No instances on the part of Psammetichus could induce them to return. This memorable incident, which is said to have given rise to a settlement in the southernmost regions of Ethiopia, called by the Greeks the Automoli (though the emigrant soldiers still call themselves by their old Egyptian name), attests the effect produced by the introduction of the foreign mercenaries in lowering the position of the native military. The number of the emigrants, however, is a point no way to be relied upon. We shall presently see that there were enough of them left behind to renew effectively the struggle for their lost dignity.

It was probably with his Ionian and Kalian troops that Psammetichus carried on those warlike operations in Syria which filled so large a proportion of his long and prosperous reign of fifty four years. He besieged the city of Azotus in Syria for twenty-nine years, until he took it—the longest blockade which Herodotus had ever heard of. Moreover he was in that country when the destroying Scythian Nomads (who had defeated the Median king Cyaxares and possessed themselves of Upper Asia) advanced to invade Egypt; a project which Psammetichus, by large presents, induced them to abandon.

There were, however, yet more powerful enemies, against whom he and his son Nekos (who succeeded him seemingly about 604 bc) had to contend in Syria and the lands adjoining. It is just at this period, during the reigns of Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar (bc 625-561) that the Chaldeans or Assyrians of Babylon appear at the maximum of their power and aggressive disposition; while the Assyrians of Minus or Nineveh lose their substantive position through the taking of that town by Cyaxares (about bc 600)—the greatest height which the Median power ever reached. Between the Egyptian Nekos and his grandson Apries (Pharaoh Necho and Pharaoh Hophra of the Old Testament) on the one side, and the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar on the other, Judea and Phenicia form the intermediate subject of quarrel. The political independence of the Phenician towns is extinguished, never again to be recovered. Al the commencement of his reign, it appears, Nekos was chiefly anxious to extend the Egyptian commerce, for which purpose he undertook two measures, both of astonishing boldness for that age—a canal between the lower part of the eastern or Pelusiac Nile and the inmost corner of the Red Sea—and the circumnavigation of Africa; his great object being to procure a water-communication between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. He began the canal (much about the same time as Nebuchadnezzar executed his canal from Babylon to Teredon) with such reckless determination, that 120,000 Egyptians are said to have perished in the work. But cither from such disastrous proof of difficulty, or (as Herodotus represents) from the terrors of a menacing prophecy which reached him, he was compelled to desist. Next ho accomplished the circumnavigation of Africa, already above alluded to; but in this wav too he found it impracticable to procure any available communication such as he wished. It is plain that in both these enterprises he was acting under Phoenician and Greek instigation; and we mar remark that the point of the Nile, from whence the canid took its departure, was close upon the mercenary camps or Stratopeda. Being unable to connect the two seas together, he built and equipped an armed naval force both upon the one and the other, and entered upon aggressive enterprises, naval as well as military. His army, on marching into Syria, was met at Megiddo (Herodotus says Magdolum) by Josiah, king of Judah, who was himself slain and so completely worsted, that Jerusalem fell into the power of the con­queror, and became tributary to Egypt. It deserves to be noted that Nekos sent the raiment which he had worn on the day of this victory as an offering to the holy temple of Apollo at Branchidae near Miletus—the first recorded instance of a donation from an Egyptian king to a Grecian temple, and a proof that Hellenic affinities were beginning to take effect upon him. Probably we may conclude that a large proportion of his troops were Milesians.

But the victorious career of Nekos was completely checked by the defeat which he experienced at Carchemish (or Circesium) on the Euphrates, from Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, who not only drove him out of Judea and Syria, but also took Jerusalem, and carried away the king and the principal Jews into captivity. Nebuchadnezzar farther attacked the Phenician cities, and the siege of Tyre alone cost him severe toil for thirteen years. After this long and gallant resistance. the Tyrians were forced to submit, and underwent the same fate as the Jews. Their princes and chiefs were dragged captive into the Babylonian territory, and the Phenician cities became numbered among the tributaries of Nebuchadnezzar. So they seem to have remained, until the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus: for we find among those extracts (unhappily very brief) which Josephus has preserved out of the Tyrian annals, that during this interval there were disputes and irregularities in the government of Tyre—judges being for a time substituted in the place of kings; while Merbal and Hirom, two princes of the regal Tyrian line, detained captive in Babylonia, were successively sent down on the special petition of the Tyrians, and reigned al Tyre; the former four years, the latter twenty years, until the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus. The Egyptian king Apries, indeed, son of Psammis and grandson of Nekos, attacked Sidon and Tyre both by land and sea, but seemingly without any result. To the Persian empire, as soon as Cyrus had conquered Babylon, they cheerfully and spontaneously submitted, whereby the restoration of the captive Tyrians to their home was probably conceded to them, like that of the captive Jews.

Nekos in Egypt was succeeded by his son Psammis, and he again, after a reign of six years, by his son Apries; of whose power and prosperity Herodotus speaks in very high general terms, though the few particulars which be recounts are of a contrary tenor. It was not till after a reign of twenty-five years that Apries undertook that expedition against the Greek colonies in Libya—Cyrene and Barka—which proved his ruin. The native Libyan tribes near those cities having sent to surrender themselves to him and entreat his aid against the Greek settlers, Apries dispatched to them a large force composed of native Egyptians; who (as has been before mentioned) were stationed on the north-western frontier of Egypt, and were therefore most available for the march against Cyrene. The Cyreian citizens advanced to oppose them, and a battle ensued in which the Egyptians were completely routed with severe loss. It is affirmed that they were thrown into disorder from want of practical knowledge of Grecian warfare—a remarkable proof of the entire isolation of the Grecian mercenaries (who had now been long in the service of Psammetichus and his successors) from the native Egyptians.

This disastrous reverse provoked a mutiny in Egypt against Apries, the soldiers contending that he had dispatched them on the enterprise with a deliberate view to their destruction, in order to assure his rule over the remaining Egyptians. The malcontents found so much sympathy among the general population, that Amasis, a Saitic Egyptian of low birth but of considerable intelligence, whom Apries had sent to conciliate them, was either persuaded or constrained to become their leader, and prepared to march immediately against the king at Sais. Unbounded and reverential submission to the royal authority was a habit so deeply rooted in the Egyptian mind, that Apries could not believe the resistance to be serious. He sent an officer of consideration named Patarbemis to bring Amasis before him. When Patarbemis returned, bringing back from the rebel nothing better than a contemptuous refusal to appear except at the head of an array, the exasperated king ordered his nose and ears to be cut off. This act of atrocity caused such indignation among the Egyptians round him, that most of them deserted and joined the revolters, who thus became irresistibly formidable in point of numbers. There yet remained to Apries the foreign mercenaries—thirty thousand Ionians and Carians—whom he summoned from their Stratopeda on the Pelusiac Nile to his residence at Sais. This force, the creation of his ancestor Psammetichus and the main reliance of his family, still inspired him with such unabated confidence, that he marched to attack the far superior numbers under Amasis at Momemphis. Though his troops behaved with bravery, the disparity of numbers, combined with the excited feeling of the insurgents, overpowered him: he was defeated and carried prisoner to Sais, where at first Amasis not only spared his life, but treated him with generosity. Such, however, was the antipathy of the Egyptians, that they forced Amasis to surrender his prisoner into their hands, and immediately strangled him.

It is not difficult to trace in these proceedings the outbreak of a long-suppressed hatred on the part of the Egyptian soldier-caste toward the dynasty of Psammetichus, to whom they owed their comparative degradation, and by whom that stream of Hellenism had been let in upon Egypt which doubtless was not witnessed without great repugnance. It might seem, also, that this dynasty had too little of pure Egyptianism in them to find favor with the priests. At least Herodotus does not mention any religious edifices erected either by Nekos or Psammis or Apries, though he describes much of suck outlay on the part of Psammetichus—who built magnificent Propylaea to the temple of Hephaistos at Memphis and a splendid new chamber or stable for the sacred bull Apis—and more still on the part of Amasis.

Nevertheless Amasis, though he had acquired the crown by this explosion of native antipathy, found the foreign adjuncts so eminently advantageous, that he not only countenanced, but multiplied them. Egypt enjoyed under him a degree of power and consideration such as it neither before possessed, nor afterward retained—for his long reign of forty-four years (570-526 BC) closed just six months before the Persian conquest of the country. As he was eminently phil-Hellenic, the Greek merchants at Naucratis—the permanent settlers as well as the occasional visitors—obtained from him valuable enlargement of their privileges. Besides granting permission to various Grecian towns to erect religious establishments for such of their citizens as visited the place, he also sanctioned the constitution of a formal and organized emporium or factory, invested with commercial privileges, and armed with authority exercised by presiding officers regularly chosen. This factory was connected with, and probably grew out of, a large religious edifice and precinct, built at the joint cost of nine Grecian cities: four of them Ionic,—Chios, Teos, Phocaea, and Klazomenae; four Doric,—Rhodes, Cnidus, Halikarnassus, add Phaselis; and one Aeolic,—Mitylene. By these nine cities the joint temple and factory was kept up, and its presiding magistrates chosen. But its destination, for the convenience of Grecian commerce generally, seems revealed by the imposing title of The Hellenion. Samos, Miletus, and Aegina had each founded a separate temple at Naucratis for the worship of such of their citizens as went there; probably connected (as the Hellenion was) with protection and facilities for commercial purposes. With these three powerful cities had thus constituted each a factory for itself, as guarantee to the merchandise, and as responsible for the conduct of its own citizens separately—the corporation of the Hellenion served both as protection and control to all other Greek merchants. And such was the usefulness, the celebrity, and probably the pecuniary profit, of the corporation, that other Grecian cities set up claims to a share in it, falsely pretending to have contributed to the original foundation.

Naucratis was for a long time the privileged port for Grecian com­merce with Egypt. No Greek merchant was permitted to deliver goods in any other part, or to enter any other of the mouths of the Nile except the Canopic. If forced into any of them by stress of weather, he was compelled to make oath that his arrival was a matter of necessity, and to convey his goods round by sea into the Canopic branch to Naucratis. If the weather still forbade such a proceeding, the merchandise was put into barges and conveyed round to Naucratis by the internal canals of the Delta. Such a monopoly, which made Naucratis in Egypt something like Canton in China, or Nagasaki in Japan, no longer subsisted in the time of Herodotus. But the factory of the Hellenion was in full operation and dignity, and very probably he himself, as a native of one of the contributing cities, Halikarnassus, may have profited by its advantages. At what precise time Naucratis first became licensed for Grecian trade, we cannot directly make out. But there seems reason to believe that it was the port to which the Greek merchants first went, so soon as the general liberty of trading with the country was conceded to them; and this would put the date of such grant at least as far back as the foundation of Cyrene and the voyage of the fortunate Kolaeus, who was on his way with a cargo to Egypt when the storms overtook him—about 630 bc, during the reign of Psammetichus. And in the time of the poetess Sappho and her brother Charaxus, it seems evident that Greeks had been some time established at Naucratis. But Amasis, though his predecessors had permitted such establishment, may doubtless be regarded as having given organization to the factories, and as having placed the Greeks on a more comfortable footing of security than they had ever enjoyed before.

This Egyptian king manifested several other evidences of his phil-Hellenic disposition by donations to Delphi and other Grecian temples. He even married a Grecian wife from the city of Cyrene. Moreover, he was in intimate alliance and relations of hospitality both with Polycrates, despot of Samos, and with Croesus, king of Lydia. He conquered the island of Cyprus, and rendered it tributary to the Egyptian throne. His fleet and army were maintained in good condition, and the foreign mercenaries, the great strength of the dynasty whom he had supplanted, were not only preserved, but even removed from their camp near Pelusium to the chief town, Memphis, where they served as the special guards of Amasis. Egypt enjoyed under him a degree of power abroad and prosperity at home (the river having been abundant in its overflowing), which was the more tenaciously remembered on account of the period of disaster and subjugation immediately following his death. And his contribu­tions, in architecture and sculpture, to the temples of Sais and Memphis were on a scale of vastness surpassing everything before known in Lower Egypt.