When the Chaldeans prostrated themselves before Nebuchadnezzar, they cried: |O King, live forever!| When patrician Rome hailed Nero in the Circus, the acclaim was: |Vivat Imperator!| When the faithful saluted the Caliph, they said: |May thy shadow never grow less.|
Humanity, living in eternal contemplation of the tomb, offers its highest tribute in bespeaking immortality for its great.
But Egypt did not invoke the gift of deathlessness upon the Pharaoh; she declared it. He was an Immortal and died not. Though he more nearly justified the confident declaration of his people, he but proved that there is no sublunar immortality, though in Egypt -- almost.
The Pharaoh lived with a triple purpose: the perpetuity of his empire, of his dynasty, of his individuality. He steeped his body in indestructibility and wrote his name in adamant. He employed the manifold means at the command of his era, and whether his monument were a colossus, a temple or a city, he builded well.
While Europe was yet a vast tract of gloomy forests, and morasses, and plains, while the stone that was to rear Troy was yet scattered on the slopes of Ida, Mena, the first Pharaoh of the first Dynasty, deflected the Nile against the Arabian hills and built Memphis in its bed. So say the writings that are graven in stone. If this be true, this story deals with a quaint but efficient civilization that was already three thousand years old, fourteen centuries before Christ.
An effort has been made to conform to the history of the time as it comes down to us in the form of biblical accounts and the writings of contemporaneous chroniclers. The author has taken liberty with accepted history in the age of Meneptah's first-born and in placing Hebrews in the quarries at Masaarah. The escape of Kenkenes in the Passover is not intended to contradict the biblical statement that not one of the eldest born was spared. Rather, it is offered, as an hypothesis, that the Angel of Death would have passed over any true believer in Jehovah, regardless of his nationality. Furthermore, the author has given the Greek spelling to some names, the Egyptic to others, the purpose being to present those pronunciations most familiar to readers.
For all facts herein set forth, the author is indebted to a multitude of authorities, chiefly to Wilkinson, Birch, Rawlinson, Ebers, and Erman.