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History Of Egypt Chaldaea Syria Babylonia And Assyria V 2 by G. Maspero


The king, the queen, and the royal princes -- Administration under the Pharaohs -- Feudalism and the Egyptian priesthood, the military -- The citizens and country people.

Between the Fayum and the apex of the Delta, the Lybian range expands and forms a vast and slightly undulating table-land, which runs parallel to the Nile for nearly thirty leagues. The Great Sphinx Harmakhis has mounted guard over its northern extremity ever since the time of the Followers of Horus.

Illustration: Drawn by Boudier, from La Description de l'Egypte, A., vol. v. pl.7. vignette, which is also by Boudier, represents a man bewailing the dead, in the attitude adopted at funerals by professional mourners of both sexes; the right fist resting on the ground, while the left hand scatters on the hair the dust which he has just gathered up. The statue is in the Gizeh Museum.

Hewn out of the solid rock at the extreme margin of the mountain-plateau, he seems to raise his head in order that he may be the first to behold across the valley the rising of his father the Sun. Only the general outline of the lion can now be traced in his weather-worn body. The lower portion of the head-dress has fallen, so that the neck appears too slender to support the weight of the head. The cannon-shot of the fanatical Mamelukes has injured both the nose and beard, and the red colouring which gave animation to his features has now almost entirely disappeared. But in spite of this, even in its decay, it still bears a commanding expression of strength and dignity. The eyes look into the far-off distance with an intensity of deep thought, the lips still smile, the whole face is pervaded with calmness and power. The art that could conceive and hew this gigantic statue out of the mountain-side, was an art in its maturity, master of itself and sure of its effects. How many centuries were needed to bring it to this degree of development and perfection!


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Lepsius. The cornerstone at the top of the mastaba, at the extreme left of the hieroglyphic frieze, had been loosened and thrown to the ground by some explorer; the artist has restored it to its original position.

In later times, a chapel of alabaster and rose granite was erected alongside the god; temples were built here and there in the more accessible places, and round these were grouped the tombs of the whole country. The bodies of the common people, usually naked and uncoffined, were thrust under the sand, at a depth of barely three feet from the surface. Those of a better class rested in mean rectangular chambers, hastily built of yellow bricks, and roofed with pointed vaulting. No ornaments or treasures gladdened the deceased in his miserable resting-place; a few vessels, however, of coarse pottery contained the provisions left to nourish him during the period of his second existence.

Some of the wealthy class had their tombs cut out of the mountain-side; but the majority preferred an isolated tomb, a |mastaba,|* comprising a chapel above ground, a shaft, and some subterranean vaults.

* |The Arabic word 'mastaba,' plur. 'masatib,' denotes the stone bench or platform seen in the streets of Egyptian towns in front of each shop. A carpet is spread on the 'mastaba,' and the customer sits upon it to transact his business, usually side by side with the seller. In the necropolis of Saqqara, there is a temple of gigantic proportions in the shape of a 'mastaba.'The inhabitants of the neighbourhood call it 'Mastabat-el-Faraoun,' the seat of Pharaoh, in the belief that anciently one of the Pharaohs sat there to dispense justice. The Memphite tombs of the Ancient Empire, which thickly cover the Saqqara plateau, are more or less miniature copies of the 'Mastabat-el-
Faraoun.'Hence the name of mastabas, which has always been given to this kind of tomb, in the necropolis of Saqqara.|

From a distance these chapels have the appearance of truncated pyramids, varying in size according to the fortune or taste of the owner; there are some which measure 30 to 40 ft. in height, with a facade 160 ft. long, and a depth from back to front of some 80 ft., while others attain only a height of some 10 ft. upon a base of 16 ft. square.*

* The mastaba of Sabu is 175 ft.9 in. long, by about 87 ft.9 in. deep, but two of its sides have lost their facing; that of Ranimait measures 171 ft.3 in. by 84 ft.6 in. on the south front, and 100 ft. on the north front. On the other hand, the mastaba of Papu is only 19 ft.4 in. by 29 ft. long, and that of KMbiuphtah 42 ft.4 in. by 21 ft.8 in.

The walls slope uniformly towards one another, and usually have a smooth surface; sometimes, however, their courses are set back one above the other almost like steps.


Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey, taken in the course of the excavations begun in 1886, with the funds furnished by a public subscription opened by the Journal des Debats.

The brick mastabas were carefully cemented externally, and the layers bound together internally by fine sand poured into the interstices. Stone mastabas, on the contrary, present a regularity in the decoration of their facings alone; in nine cases out of ten the core is built of rough stone blocks, rudely cut into squares, cemented with gravel and dried mud, or thrown together pell-mell without mortar of any kind. The whole building should have been orientated according to rule, the four sides to the four cardinal points, the greatest axis directed north and south; but the masons seldom troubled themselves to find the true north, and the orientation is usually incorrect.*

* Thus the axis of the tomb of Pirsenu is 17 deg. east of the magnetic north. In some cases the divergence is only 1 deg. or 2 deg., more often it is 6 deg., 7 deg., 8 deg., or 9 deg., as can be easily ascertained by consulting the work of Mariette.

The doors face east, sometimes north or south, but never west. One of these is but the semblance of a door, a high narrow niche, contrived so as to face east, and decorated with grooves framing a carefully walled-up entrance; this was for the use of the dead, and it was believed that the ghost entered or left it at will. The door for the use of the living, sometimes preceded by a portico, was almost always characterized by great simplicity. Over it is a cylindrical tympanum, or a smooth flagstone, bearing sometimes merely the name of the dead person, sometimes his titles and descent, sometimes a prayer for his welfare, and an enumeration of the days during which he was entitled to receive the worship due to ancestors. They invoked on his behalf, and almost always precisely in the same words, the |Great God,| the Osiris of Mendes, or else Anubis, dwelling in the Divine Palace, that burial might be granted to him in Amentit, the land of the West, the very great and very good, to him the vassal of the Great God; that he might walk in the ways in which it is good to walk, he the vassal of the Great God; that he might have offerings of bread, cakes, and drink, at the New Year's Feast, at the feast of Thot, on the first day of the year, on the feast of Uagait, at the great fire festival, at the procession of the god Minu, at the feast of offerings, at the monthly and half-monthly festivals, and every day.


Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph of the original monument which is preserved in the Liverpool Museum; cf. Gatty, Catalogue of the Mayer Collection; I. Egyptian
Antiquities, No.294, p.45.

The chapel is usually small, and is almost lost in the great extent of the building.* It generally consists merely of an oblong chamber, approached by a rather short passage.**

* Thus the chapel of the mastaba of Sabu is only 14 ft.4 in. long, by about 3 ft.3 in. deep, and that of the tomb of Phtahshopsisu, 10 ft.4 in. by 3 ft.7 in.

** The mastaba of Tinti has four chambers, as has also that of Assi-onkhu; but these are exceptions, as may be
ascertained by consulting the work of Mariette. Most of those which contain several rooms are ancient one-roomed mastabas, which have been subsequently altered or enlarged; this is the case with the mastabas of Shopsi and of Ankhaftuka. A few, however, were constructed from the outset with all their apartments -- that of Raonkhumai, with six chambers and several niches; that of Khabiuphtah, with three chambers, niches, and doorway ornamented with two pillars; that of Ti, with two chambers, a court surrounded with pillars, a doorway, and long inscribed passages; and that of Phtahhotpu, with seven chambers, besides niches.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Duhichen.

At the far end, and set back into the western wall, is a huge quadrangular stele, at the foot of which is seen the table of offerings, made of alabaster, granite or limestone placed flat upon the ground, and sometimes two little obelisks or two altars, hollowed at the top to receive the gifts mentioned in the inscription on the exterior of the tomb. The general appearance is that of a rather low, narrow doorway, too small to be a practicable entrance. The recess thus formed is almost always left empty; sometimes, however, the piety of relatives placed within it a statue of the deceased. Standing there, with shoulders thrown back, head erect, and smiling face, the statue seems to step forth to lead the double from its dark lodging where it lies embalmed, to those glowing plains where he dwelt in freedom during his earthly life: another moment, crossing the threshold, he must descend the few steps leading into the public hall. On festivals and days of offering, when the priest and family presented the banquet with the customary rites, this great painted figure, in the act of advancing, and seen by the light of flickering torches or smoking lamps, might well appear endued with life. It was as if the dead ancestor himself stepped out of the wall and mysteriously stood before his descendants to claim their homage. The inscription on the lintel repeats once more the name and rank of the dead. Faithful portraits of him and of other members of his family figure in the bas-reliefs on the door-posts.

[Illustration: 010.jpg STELE IN THE FORM OF A DOOR]

The little scene at the far end represents him seated tranquilly at table, with the details of the feast carefully recorded at his side, from the first moment when water is brought to him for ablution, to that when, all culinary skill being exhausted, he has but to return to his dwelling, in a state of beatified satisfaction. The stele represented to the visitor the door leading to the private apartments of the deceased; the fact of its being walled up for ever showing that no living mortal might cross its threshold. The inscription which covered its surface was not a mere epitaph informing future generations who it was that reposed beneath. It perpetuated the name and genealogy of the deceased, and gave him a civil status, without which he could not have preserved his personality in the world beyond; the nameless dead, like a living man without a name, was reckoned as non-existing. Nor was this the only use of the stele; the pictures and prayers inscribed upon it acted as so many talismans for ensuring the continuous existence of the ancestor, whose memory they recalled. They compelled the god therein invoked, whether Osiris or the jackal Anubis, to act as mediator between the living and the departed; they granted to the god the enjoyment of sacrifices and those good things abundantly offered to the deities, and by which they live, on condition that a share of them might first be set aside for the deceased. By the divine favour, the soul or rather the doubles of the bread, meat, and beverages passed into the other world, and there refreshed the human double. It was not, however, necessary that the offering should have a material existence, in order to be effective; the first comer who should repeat aloud the name and the formulas inscribed upon the stone, secured for the unknown occupant, by this means alone, the immediate possession of all the things which he enumerated.

The stele constitutes the essential part of the chapel and tomb. In many cases it was the only inscribed portion, it alone being necessary to ensure the identity and continuous existence of the dead man; often, however, the sides of the chamber and passage were not left bare. When time or the wealth of the owner permitted, they were covered with scenes and writing, expressing at greater length the ideas summarized by the figures and inscriptions of the stele.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin taken from a |squeeze| taken from the tomb of Ti. The domains are represented as women. The name is written before each figure with the designation of the landowner.

Neither pictorial effect nor the caprice of the moment was permitted to guide the artist in the choice of his subjects; all that he drew, pictures or words, bad a magical purpose. Every individual who built for himself an |eternal house,| either attached to it a staff of priests of the double, of inspectors, scribes, and slaves, or else made an agreement with the priests of a neighbouring temple to serve the chapel in perpetuity. Lands taken from his patrimony, which thus became the |Domains of the Eternal House,| rewarded them for their trouble, and supplied them with meats, vegetables, fruits, liquors, linen and vessels for sacrifice.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Dumichen, Besultate, vol. i. pl.13.

In theory, these |liturgies| were perpetuated from year to year, until the end of time; but in practice, after three or four generations, the older ancestors were forsaken for those who had died more recently. Notwithstanding the imprecations and threats of the donor against the priests who should neglect their duty, or against those who should usurp the funeral endowments, sooner or later there came a time when, forsaken by all, the double was in danger of perishing for want of sustenance. In order to ensure that the promised gifts, offered in substance on the day of burial, should be maintained throughout the centuries, the relatives not only depicted them upon the chapel walls, but represented in addition the lands which produced them, and the labour which contributed to their production. On one side we see ploughing, sowing, reaping, the carrying of the corn, the storing of the grain, the fattening of the poultry, and the driving of the cattle. A little further on, workmen of all descriptions are engaged in their several trades: shoemakers ply the awl, glassmakers blow through their tubes, metal founders watch over their smelting-pots, carpenters hew down trees and build a ship; groups of women weave or spin under the eye of a frowning taskmaster, who seems impatient of their chatter. Did the double in his hunger desire meat? He might choose from the pictures on the wall the animal that pleased him best, whether kid, ox, or gazelle; he might follow the course of its life, from its birth in the meadows to the slaughter-house and the kitchen, and might satisfy his hunger with its flesh. The double saw himself represented in the paintings as hunting, and to the hunt he went; he was painted eating and drinking with his wife, and he ate and drank with her; the pictured ploughing, harvesting, and gathering into barns, thus became to him actual realities. In fine, this painted world of men and things represented upon the wall was quickened by the same life which animated the double, upon whom it all depended: the picture of a meal or of a slave was perhaps that which best suited the shade of guest or of master.

Even to-day, when we enter one of these decorated chapels, the idea of death scarcely presents itself: we have rather the impression of being in some old-world house, to which the master may at any moment return. We see him portrayed everywhere upon the walls, followed by his servants, and surrounded by everything which made his earthly life enjoyable. One or two statues of him stand at the end of the room, in constant readiness to undergo the |Opening of the Mouth| and to receive offerings. Should these be accidentally removed, others, secreted in a little chamber hidden in the thickness of the masonry, are there to replace them. These inner chambers have rarely any external outlet, though occasionally they are connected with the chapel by a small opening, so narrow that it will hardly admit of a hand being passed through it. Those who came to repeat prayers and burn incense at this aperture were received by the dead in person. The statues were not mere images, devoid of consciousness. Just as the double of a god could be linked to an idol in the temple sanctuary in order to transform it into a prophetic being, capable of speech and movement, so when the double of a man was attached to the effigy of his earthly body, whether in stone, metal, or wood, a real living person was created and was introduced into the tomb. So strong was this conviction that the belief has lived on through two changes of religion until the present day. The double still haunts the statues with which he was associated in the past. As in former times, he yet strikes with madness or death any who dare to disturb is repose; and one can only be protected from him by breaking, at the moment of discovery, the perfect statues which the vault contains. The double is weakened or killed by the mutilation of these his sustainers.*

* The legends still current about the pyramids of Gizeh furnish some good examples of this kind of superstition. |The guardian of the Eastern pyramid was an idol... who had both eyes open, and was seated on a throne, having a sort of halberd near it, on which, if any one fixed his eye, he heard a fearful noise, which struck terror to his heart, and caused the death of the hearer. There was a spirit appointed to wait on each guardian, who departed not from before him.| The keeping of the other two pyramids was in like manner entrusted to a statue, assisted by a spirit. I have collected a certain number of tales resembling that of Mourtadi in the Etudes de Mythologie et Archeologie Egyptiennes, vol. i. p.77, et seq.

The statues furnish in their modelling a more correct idea of the deceased than his mummy, disfigured as it was by the work of the embalmers; they were also less easily destroyed, and any number could be made at will. Hence arose the really incredible number of statues sometimes hidden away in the same tomb. These sustainers or imperishable bodies of the double were multiplied so as to insure for him a practical immortality; and the care with which they were shut into a secure hiding-place, increased their chances of preservation. All the same, no precaution was neglected that could save a mummy from destruction. The shaft leading to it descended to a mean depth of forty to fifty feet, but sometimes it reached, and even exceeded, a hundred feet. Running horizontally from it is a passage so low as to prevent a man standing upright in it, which leads to the sepulchral chamber properly so called, hewn out of the solid rock and devoid of all ornament; the sarcophagus, whether of fine limestone, rose-granite, or black basalt, does not always bear the name and titles of the deceased. The servants who deposited the body in it placed beside it on the dusty floor the quarters of the ox, previously slaughtered in the chapel, as well as phials of perfume, and large vases of red pottery containing muddy water; after which they walled up the entrance to the passage and filled the shaft with chips of stone intermingled with earth and gravel. The whole, being well watered, soon hardened into a compact mass, which protected the vault and its master from desecration.

During the course of centuries, the ever-increasing number of tombs at length formed an almost uninterrupted chain of burying-places on the table-land. At Gizeh they follow a symmetrical plan, and line the sides of regular roads; at Saqqara they are scattered about on the surface of the ground, in some places sparsely, in others huddled confusedly together. Everywhere the tombs are rich in inscriptions, statues, and painted or sculptured scenes, each revealing some characteristic custom, or some detail of contemporary civilization. From the womb, as it were, of these cemeteries, the Egypt of the Memphite dynasties gradually takes new life, and reappears in the full daylight of history. Nobles and fellahs, soldiers and priests, scribes and craftsmen, -- the whole nation lives anew before us; each with his manners, his dress, his daily round of occupation and pleasures. It is a perfect picture, and although in places the drawing is defaced and the colour dimmed, yet these may be restored with no great difficulty, and with almost absolute certainty. The king stands out boldly in the foreground, and his tall figure towers over all else. He so completely transcends his surroundings, that at first sight one may well ask if he does not represent a god rather than a man; and, as a matter of fact, he is a god to his subjects. They call him |the good god,| |the great god,| and connect him with Ra through the intervening kings, the successors of the gods who ruled the two worlds. His father before him was |Son of Ra,| as was also his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, and so through all his ancestors, until from |son of Ra| to |son of Ra| they at last reached Ra himself. Sometimes an adventurer of unknown antecedents is abruptly inserted in the series, and we might imagine that he would interrupt the succession of the solar line; but on closer examination we always find that either the intruder is connected with the god by a genealogy hitherto unsuspected, or that he is even more closely related to him than his predecessors, inasmuch as Ra, having secretly descended upon the earth, had begotten him by a mortal mother in order to rejuvenate the race.*

* A legend, preserved for us in the Westcar Papyrus (Erman's edition, pl. ix.11.5-11, pl. x.1.5, et seq.), maintains that the first three kings of the Vth dynasty, Usirkaf, Sahuri, and Kakiu, were children born to Ra, lord of Sakhibu, by Ruditdidit, wife of a priest attached to the temple of that town.

If things came to the worst, a marriage with some princess would soon legitimise, if not the usurper himself, at least his descendants, and thus firmly re-establish the succession.

[Illustration: 021.jpg THE BIRTH OF A KING AND HIS DOUBLE]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Gay et. The king is Amenothes III., whose conception and birth are represented in the temple of Luxor, with the same wealth of details that we should have expected, had he been a son of the god Amon and the goddess Mut.

The Pharaohs, therefore, are blood-relations of the Sun-god, some through their father, others through their mother, directly begotten by the God, and their souls as well as their bodies have a supernatural origin; each soul being a double detached from Horus, the successor of Osiris, and the first to reign alone over Egypt. This divine double is infused into the royal infant at birth, in the same manner as the ordinary double is incarnate in common mortals. It always remained concealed, and seemed to lie dormant in those princes whom destiny did not call upon to reign, but it awoke to full self-consciousness in those who ascended the throne at the moment of their accession. From that time to the hour of their death, and beyond it, all that they possessed of ordinary humanity was completely effaced; they were from henceforth only |the sons of Ra,| the Horus, dwelling upon earth, who, during his sojourn here below, renews the blessings of Horus, son of Isis. Their complex nature was revealed at the outset in the form and arrangement of their names. Among the Egyptians the choice of a name was not a matter of indifference; not only did men and beasts, but even inanimate objects, require one or more names, and it may be said that no person or thing in the world could attain to complete existence until the name had been conferred. The most ancient names were often only a short word, which denoted some moral or physical quality, as Titi the Runner, Mini the Lasting, Qonqeni the Crusher, Sondi the Formidable, Uznasit the Flowery-tongued. They consisted also of short sentences, by which the royal child confessed his faith in the power of the gods, and his participation in the acts of the Sun's life -- |Khafri,| his rising is Ra; |Men-kauhoru,| the doubles of Horus last for ever; |Usirkeri,| the double of Ra is omnipotent. Sometimes the sentence is shortened, and the name of the god is understood: as for instance, |Usirkaf,| his double is omnipotent; |Snofmi,| he has made me good; |Khufiii,| he has protected me, are put for the names |Usirkeri,| |Ptahsnofrui,| |Khnumkhufui,| with the suppression of Ra, Phtah, and Khnurnu.

[Illustration: 023.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

The name having once, as it were, taken possession of a man on his entrance into life, never leaves him either in this world or the next; the prince who had been called Unas or Assi at the moment of his birth, retained this name even after death, so long as his mummy existed, and his double was not annihilated.

{Hieroglyphics indicated by [ -- ], see the page images in the HTML file}

When the Egyptians wished to denote that a person or thing was in a certain place, they inserted their names within the picture of the place in question. Thus the name of Teti is written inside a picture of Teti's castle, the result being the compound hieroglyph [ -- ] Again, when the son of a king became king in his turn, they enclose his ordinary name in the long flat-bottomed frame [ -- ] which we call a cartouche; the elliptical part [ -- ] of which is a kind of plan of the world, a representation of those regions passed over by Ra in his journey, and over which Pharaoh, because he is a son of Ra, exercises his rule. When the names of Teti or Snofrui, following the group [ -- -- ] which respectively express sovereignty over the two halves of Egypt, the South and the North, the whole expression describing exactly the visible person of Pharaoh during his abode among mortals. But this first name chosen for the child did not include the whole man; it left without appropriate designation the double of Horus, which was revealed in the prince at the moment of accession. The double therefore received a special title, which is always constructed on a uniform plan: first the picture [ -- ] hawk-god, who desired to leave to his descendants a portion of his soul, then a simple or compound epithet, specifying that virtue of Horus which the Pharaoh wished particularly to possess -- |Horu nib-maifc,| Horus master of Truth; |Horu miri-toui,| Horus friend of both lands; |Horu nibkhauu,| Horus master of the risings; |Horu maziti,| Horus who crushes his enemies.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an illustration in Arundale- Bonomi-Birch's Gallery of Antiquities from the British Museum, pl.31. The king thus represented is Thutmosis II. of the XVIIIth dynasty; the spear, surmounted by a man's head, which the double holds in his hand, probably recalls the human victims formerly sacrificed at the burial of a chief.

The variable part of these terms is usually written in an oblong rectangle, terminated at the lower end by a number of lines portraying in a summary way the facade of a monument, in the centre of which a bolted door may sometimes be distinguished: this is the representation of the chapel where the double will one day rest, and the closed door is the portal of the tomb.* The stereotyped part of the names and titles, which is represented by the figure of the god, is placed outside the rectangle, sometimes by the side of it, sometimes upon its top: the hawk is, in fact, free by nature, and could nowhere remain imprisoned against his will.

* This is what is usually known as the |Banner Name;| indeed, it was for some time believed that this sign represented a piece of stuff, ornamented at the bottom by embroidery or fringe, and bearing on the upper part the title of a king. Wilkinson thought that this |square title,| as he called it, represented a house. The real meaning of the expression was determined by Professor Flinders Petrie and by myself.

This artless preamble was not enough to satisfy the love of precision which is the essential characteristic of the Egyptians. When they wished to represent the double in his sepulchral chamber, they left out of consideration the period in his existence during which he had presided over the earthly destinies of the sovereign, in order to render them similar to those of Horus, from whom the double proceeded.

[Illustration: 026.jpg Page Image]

They, therefore, withdrew him from the tomb which should have been his lot, and there was substituted for the ordinary sparrow-hawk one of those groups which symbolize sovereignty over the two countries of the Nile -- the coiled urasus of the North, and the vulture of the South, [ -- ]; there was then finally added a second sparrow-hawk, the golden sparrow-hawk, [ -- ], the triumphant sparrow-hawk which had delivered Egypt from Typhon. The soul of Snofrai, which is called, as a surviving double, [ -- ], |Horus master of Truth,| is, as a living double, entitled |[ -- ]| |[ -- ]| the Lord of the Vulture and of the |Urous,| master of Truth, and Horus triumphant.*

* The Ka, or double name, represented in this illustration is that of the Pharaoh Khephren, the builder of the second of the great pyramids at Gizeh; it reads |Horu usir-Haiti,| Horus powerful of heart.

On the other hand, the royal prince, when he put on the diadem, received, from the moment of his advancement to the highest rank, such an increase of dignity, that his birth-name -- even when framed in a cartouche and enhanced with brilliant epithets -- was no longer able to fully represent him. This exaltation of his person was therefore marked by a new designation. As he was the living flesh of the sun, so his surname always makes allusion to some point in his relations with his father, and proclaims the love which he felt for the latter, |Miriri,| or that the latter experienced for him, |Mirniri,| or else it indicates the stability of the doubles of Ra, |Tatkeri,| their goodness, |Nofirkeri,| or some other of their sovereign virtues. Several Pharaohs of the IVth dynasty had already dignified themselves by these surnames; those of the VIth were the first to incorporate them regularly into the royal preamble.

[Illustration: 027.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

There was some hesitation at first as to the position the surname ought to occupy, and it was sometimes placed after the birth-name, as in |Papi Nofirkeri,| sometimes before it, as in [ -- ] |Nofirkeri Papi.| It was finally decided to place it at the beginning, preceded by the group [ -- ] |King of Upper and Lower Egypt,| which expresses in its fullest extent the power granted by the gods to the Pharaoh alone; the other, or birth-name, came after it, accompanied by the words [ -- ]. |Son of the Sun.| There were inscribed, either before or above these two solar names -- which are exclusively applied to the visible and living body of the master -- the two names of the sparrow-hawk, which belonged especially to the soul; first, that of the double in the tomb, and then that of the double while still incarnate. Four terms seemed thus necessary to the Egyptians in order to define accurately the Pharaoh, both in time and in eternity.

Long centuries were needed before this subtle analysis of the royal person, and the learned graduation of the formulas which corresponded to it, could transform the Nome chief, become by conquest suzerain over all other chiefs and king of all Egypt, into a living god here below, the all-powerful son and successor of the gods; but the divine concept of royalty, once implanted in the mind, quickly produced its inevitable consequences. From the moment that the Pharaoh became god upon earth, the gods of heaven, his fathers or his brothers, and the goddesses recognized him as their son, and, according to the ceremonial imposed by custom in such cases, consecrated his adoption by offering him the breast to suck, as they would have done to their own child.


Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger. The original is in the great speos of Silsilis. The king here represented is Harmhabit of the XVIIIth dynasty; cf. Champollion, Monuments de l'Egypt et de la Nubie, pl. cix., No.3; Rosellini, Monumenti Storici, pl. xliv.5; Lepsius, Denkm., iii.121 b.

Ordinary mortals spoke of him only in symbolic words, designating him by some periphrasis: Pharaoh, |Pirui-Aui,| the Double Palace, |Pruiti,| the Sublime Porte, His Majesty,* the Sun of the two lands, Horus master of the palace, or, less ceremoniously, by the indeterminate pronoun |One.|

* The title |Honuf| is translated by the same authors, sometimes as |His Majesty,| sometimes as |His Holiness.| The reasons for translating it |His Majesty,| as was originally proposed by Champollion, and afterwards generally adopted, have been given last of all by E. de Rouge.

The greater number of these terms is always accompanied by a wish addressed to the sovereign for his |life,| |health,| and |strength,| the initial signs of which are written after all his titles. He accepts all this graciously, and even on his own initiative, swears by his own life, or by the favour of Ra, but he forbids his subjects to imitate him: for them it is a sin, punishable in this world and in the next, to adjure the person of the sovereign, except in the case in which a magistrate requires from them a judicial oath.

[Illustration: 029.jpg THE CUCUPHA-HEADED SCEPTRE.]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the engraving in Prisse d'Avennes, Recherches sur les legendes royales et l'epoque du regne de Schai ou Scherai, in the Revue Archeologique, 1st series, vol. ii. p.467. The original is now preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale, to which it was presented by Prisse d'Avennes. It is of glazed earthenware, of very delicate and careful workmanship.

He is approached, moreover, as a god is approached, with downcast eyes, and head or back bent; they |sniff the earth| before him, they veil their faces with both hands to shut out the splendour of his appearance; they chant a devout form of adoration before submitting to him a petition. No one is free from this obligation: his ministers themselves, and the great ones of his kingdom, cannot deliberate with him on matters of state, without inaugurating the proceeding by a sort of solemn service in his honour, and reciting to him at length a eulogy of his divinity. They did not, indeed, openly exalt him above the other gods, but these were rather too numerous to share heaven among them, whilst he alone rules over the |Entire Circuit of the Sun,| and the whole earth, its mountains and plains, are in subjection under his sandalled feet. People, no doubt, might be met with who did not obey him, but these were rebels, adherents of Sit, |Children of Euin,| who, sooner or later, would be overtaken by punishment.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Insinger. The picture represents Khamhait presenting the superintendents of storehouses to Tutankhamon, of the XVIIIth dynasty.

While hoping that his fictitious claim to universal dominion would be realized, the king adopted, in addition to the simple costume of the old chiefs, the long or short petticoat, the jackal's tail, the turned-up sandals, and the insignia of the supreme gods, -- the ankh, the crook, the flail, and the sceptre tipped with the head of a jerboa or a hare, which we misname the cucupha-headed sceptre.* He put on the many-coloured diadems of the gods, the head-dresses covered with feathers, the white and the red crowns either separately or combined so as to form the pshent. The viper or uraeus, in metal or gilded wood, which rose from his forehead, was imbued with a mysterious life, which made it a means of executing his vengeance and accomplishing his secret purposes. It was supposed to vomit flames and to destroy those who should dare to attack its master in battle. The supernatural virtues which it communicated to the crown, made it an enchanted thing which no one could resist. Lastly, Pharaoh had his temples where his enthroned statue, animated by one of his doubles, received worship, prophesied, and fulfilled all the functions of a Divine Being, both during his life, and after he had rejoined in the tomb his ancestors the gods, who existed before him and who now reposed impassively within the depths of their pyramids.**

* This identification, suggested by Champollion, is, from force of custom, still adhered to, in nearly all works on Egyptology. But we know from ancient evidence that the cucupha was a bird, perhaps a hoopoe; the sceptre of the gods, moreover, is really surmounted by the head of a quadruped having a pointed snout and long retreating ears, and belonging to the greyhound, jackal, or jerboa species.

** This method of distinguishing deceased kings is met with as far back as the |Song of the Harpist,| which the Egyptians of the Ramesside period attributed to the founder of the XIth dynasty. The first known instance of a temple raised by an Egyptian king to his double is that of Amenothes III.

Man, as far as his body was concerned, and god in virtue of his soul and its attributes, the Pharaoh, in right of this double nature, acted as a constant mediator between heaven and earth. He alone was fit to transmit the prayers of men to his fathers and his brethren the gods. Just as the head of a family was in his household the priest par excellence of the gods of that family, -- just as the chief of a nome was in his nome the priest par excellence in regard to the gods of the nome, -- so was Pharaoh the priest par excellence of the gods of all Egypt, who were his special deities. He accompanied their images in solemn processions; he poured out before them the wine and mystic milk, recited the formulas in their hearing, seized the bull who was the victim with a lasso and slaughtered it according to the rite consecrated by ancient tradition. Private individuals had recourse to his intercession, when they asked some favour from on high; as, however, it was impossible for every sacrifice to pass actually through his hands, the celebrating priest proclaimed at the beginning of each ceremony that it was the king who made the offering -- Sutni di hotpu -- he and none other, to Osiris, Phtah, and Ka-Harmakhis, so that they might grant to the faithful who implored the object of their desires, and, the declaration being accepted in lieu of the act, the king was thus regarded as really officiating on every occasion for his subjects.*

*I do not agree with Prof. Ed. Meyer, or with Prof. Erman, who imagine that this was the first instance of the practice, and that it had been introduced into Nubia before its adoption on Egyptian soil. Under the Ancient Empire we meet with more than one functionary who styles himself, in some cases during his master's lifetime, in others shortly after his death, |Prophet of Horus who lives in the palace,| or |Prophet of Kheops,| |Prophet of Sondi,| |Prophet of Kheops, of Mykerinos, of Usirkaf,| or |of other sovereigns.|

He thus maintained daily intercourse with the gods, and they, on their part, did not neglect any occasion of communicating with him. They appeared to him in dreams to foretell his future, to command him to restore a monument which was threatened with ruin, to advise him to set out to war, to forbid him risking his life in the thick of the fight.*

* Among other examples, the texts mention the dream in which Thutmosis IV., while still a royal prince, received from Phra-Harmakhis orders to unearth the Great Sphinx, the dream in which Phtah forbids Minephtah to take part in the battle against the peoples of the sea, that by which Tonuatamon, King of Napata, is persuaded to undertake the conquest of Egypt. Herodotus had already made us familiar with the dreams of Sabaco and of the high priest Sethos.

Communication by prophetic dreams was not, however, the method usually selected by the gods: they employed as interpreters of their wishes the priests and the statues in the temples. The king entered the chapel where the statue was kept, and performed in its presence the invocatory rites, and questioned it upon the subject which occupied his mind. The priest replied under direct inspiration from on high, and the dialogue thus entered upon might last a long time. Interminable discourses, whose records cover the walls of the Theban temples, inform us what the Pharaoh said on such occasions, and in what emphatic tones the gods replied. Sometimes the animated statues raised their voices in the darkness of the sanctuary and themselves announced their will; more frequently they were content to indicate it by a gesture. When they were consulted on some particular subject and returned no sign, it was their way of signifying their disapprobation. If, on the other hand, they significantly bowed their head, once or twice, the subject was an acceptable one, and they approved it. No state affair was settled without asking their advice, and without their giving it in one way or another.

The monuments, which throw full light on the supernatural character of the Pharaohs in general, tell us but little of the individual disposition of any king in particular, or of their everyday life. When by chance we come into closer intimacy for a moment with the sovereign, he is revealed to us as being less divine and majestic than we might have been led to believe, had we judged him only by his impassive expression and by the pomp with which he was surrounded in public. Not that he ever quite laid aside his grandeur; even in his home life, in his chamber or his garden, during those hours when he felt himself withdrawn from public gaze, those highest in rank might never forget when they approached him that he was a god. He showed himself to be a kind father, a good-natured husband,* ready to dally with his wives and caress them on the cheek as they offered him a flower, or moved a piece upon the draught-board.

* As a literary example of what the conduct of a king was like in his family circle, we may quote the description of King Minibphtah, in the story of Satni-Khamois. The pictures of the tombs at Tel-el-Amarna show us the intimate terms on which King Khuniaton lived with his wife and daughters, both big and little.

He took an interest in those who waited on him, allowed them certain breaches of etiquette when he was pleased with them, and was indulgent to their little failings. If they had just returned from foreign lands, a little countrified after a lengthy exile from the court, he would break out into pleasantries over their embarrassment and their unfashionable costume, -- kingly pleasantries which excited the forced mirth of the bystanders, but which soon fell flat and had no meaning for those outside the palace. The Pharaoh was fond of laughing and drinking; indeed, if we may believe evil tongues, he took so much at times as to incapacitate him for business. The chase was not always a pleasure to him, hunting in the desert, at least, where the lions evinced a provoking tendency to show as little respect for the divinity of the prince as for his mortal subjects; but, like the chiefs of old, he felt it a duty to his people to destroy wild beasts, and he ended by counting the slain in hundreds, however short his reign might be.*

*Amenothes III. had killed as many as a hundred and two lions during the first ten years of his reign.

A considerable part of his time was taken up in war -- in the east, against the Libyans in the regions of the Oasis; in the Nile Valley to the south of Aswan against the Nubians; on the Isthmus of Suez and in the Sinaitic Peninsula against the Bedouin; frequently also in a civil war against some ambitious noble or some turbulent member of his own family. He travelled frequently from south to north, and from north to south, leaving in every possible place marked traces of his visits -- on the rocks of Elephantine and of the first cataract, on those of Silsilis or of El-Kab, and he appeared to his vassals as Tumu himself arisen among them to repress injustice and disorder. He restored or enlarged the monuments, regulated equitably the assessment of taxes and charges, settled or dismissed the lawsuits between one town and another concerning the appropriation of the water, or the possession of certain territories, distributed fiefs which had fallen vacant, among his faithful servants, and granted pensions to be paid out of the royal revenues.*

* These details are not found on the historical monuments, but are furnished to us by the description given in |The Book of Knowledge of what there is in the other world| of the course of the sun across the domain of the hours of night; the god is there described as a Pharaoh passing through his kingdom, and all that he does for his vassals, the dead, is identical with what Pharaoh was accustomed to do for his subjects, the living.

At length he re-entered Memphis, or one of his usual residences, where fresh labours awaited him. He gave audience daily to all, whether high or low, who were, or believed that they were, wronged by some official, and who came to appeal to the justice of the master against the injustice of his servant. If he quitted the palace when the cause had been heard, to take boat or to go to the temple, he was not left undisturbed, but petitions and supplications assailed him by the way. In addition to this, there were the daily sacrifices, the despatch of current affairs, the ceremonies which demanded the presence of the Pharaoh, and the reception of nobles or foreign envoys. One would think that in the midst of so many occupations he would never feel time hang heavy on his hands. He was, however, a prey to that profound ennui which most Oriental monarchs feel so keenly, and which neither the cares nor the pleasures of ordinary life could dispel. Like the Sultans of the |Arabian Nights,| the Pharaohs were accustomed to have marvellous tales related to them, or they assembled their councillors to ask them to suggest some fresh amusement: a happy thought would sometimes strike one of them, as in the case of him who aroused the interest of Snofrui by recommending him to have his boat manned by young girls barely clad in large-meshed network.

[Illustration: 037.jpg PHARAOH IN HIS HAREM]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin.

All his pastimes were not so playful. The Egyptians by nature were not cruel, and we have very few records either in history or tradition of bloodthirsty Pharaohs; but the life of an ordinary individual was of so little value in their eyes, that they never hesitated to sacrifice it, even for a caprice. A sorcerer had no sooner boasted before Kheops of being able to raise the dead, than the king proposed that he should try the experiment on a prisoner whose head was to be forthwith cut off. The anger of Pharaoh was quickly excited, and once aroused, became an all-consuming fire; the Egyptians were wont to say, in describing its intensity, |His Majesty became as furious as a panther.| The wild beast often revealed itself in the half-civilized man.

The royal family was very numerous. The women were principally chosen from the relatives of court officials of high rank, or from the daughters of the great feudal lords; there were, however, many strangers among them, daughters or sisters of petty Libyan, Nubian, or Asiatic kings; they were brought into Pharaoh's house as hostages for the submission of their respective peoples. They did not all enjoy the same treatment or consideration, and their original position decided their status in the harem, unless the amorous caprice of their master should otherwise decide. Most of them remained merely concubines for life, others were raised to the rank of |royal spouses,| and at least one received the title and privileges of |great spouse,| or queen. This was rarely accorded to a stranger, but almost always to a princess born in the purple, a daughter of Ra, if possible a sister of the Pharaoh, and who, inheriting in the same degree and in equal proportion the flesh and blood of the Sun-god, had, more than others, the right to share the bed and throne of her brother.*

* It would seem that Queen Mirisonkhu, wife of Khephren, was the daughter of Kheops, and consequently her husband's sister.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after Lepsius. The king is Amenothes III. (XVIIIth. dynasty).

She had her own house, and a train of servants and followers as large as those of the king; while the women of inferior rank were more or less shut up in the parts of the palace assigned to them, she came and went at pleasure, and appeared in public with or without her husband. The preamble of official documents in which she is mentioned, solemnly recognizes her as the living follower of Horus, the associate of the Lord of the Vulture and the Uraeus, the very gentle, the very praiseworthy, she who sees her Horus, or Horus and Sit, face to face. Her union with the god-king rendered her a goddess, and entailed upon her the fulfilment of all the duties which a goddess owed to a god. They were varied and important. The woman, indeed, was supposed to combine in herself more completely than a man the qualities necessary for the exercise of magic, whether legitimate or otherwise: she saw and heard that which the eyes and ears of man could not perceive; her voice, being more flexible and piercing, was heard at greater distances; she was by nature mistress of the art of summoning or banishing invisible beings. While Pharaoh was engaged in sacrificing, the queen, by her incantations, protected him from malignant deities, whose interest it was to divert the attention of the celebrant from holy things: she put them to flight by the sound of prayer and sistrum, she poured libations and offered perfumes and flowers. In processions she walked behind her husband, gave audience with him, governed for him while he was engaged in foreign wars, or during his progresses through his kingdom: such was the work of Isis while her brother Osiris was conquering the world. Widowhood did not always entirely disqualify her. If she belonged to the solar race, and the new sovereign was a minor, she acted as regent by hereditary right, and retained the authority for some years longer.*

* The best-known of these queen regencies is that which occurred during the minority of Thutmosis III., about the middle of the XVIIIth dynasty. Queen Tuau also appears to have acted as regent for her son Ramses II. during his first Syrian campaigns.

It occasionally happened that she had no posterity, or that the child of another woman inherited the crown. In that case there was no law or custom to prevent a young and beautiful widow from wedding the son, and thus regaining her rank as Queen by a marriage with the successor of her deceased husband. It was in this manner that, during the earlier part of the IVth dynasty, the Princess Mirtittefsi ingratiated herself successively in the favour of Snofrui and Kheops.* Such a case did not often arise, and a queen who had once quitted the throne had but little chance of again ascending it. Her titles, her duties, her supremacy over the rest of the family, passed to a younger rival: formerly she had been the active companion of the king, she now became only the nominal spouse of the god,** and her office came to an end when the god, of whom she had been the goddess, quitting his body, departed heavenward to rejoin his father the Sun on the far-distant horizon.

Children swarmed in the palace, as in the houses of private individuals: in spite of the number who died in infancy, they were reckoned by tens, sometimes by the hundred, and more than one Pharaoh must have been puzzled to remember exactly the number and names of his offspring.***

* M. de Rouge was the first to bring this fact to light in his Becherches sur les monuments qu'on peut attribuer aux six premieres dynasties de Manethon, pp.36-38. Mirtittefsi also lived in the harem of Khephren, but the title which connects her with this king -- Amahhit, the vassal -- proves that she was then merely a nominal wife; she was probably by that time, as M. de Rouge says, of too advanced an age to remain the favourite of a third Pharaoh.

** The title of |divine spouse| is not, so far as we know at present, met with prior to the XVIIIth dynasty. It was given to the wife of a living monarch, and was retained by her after his death; the divinity to whom it referred was no other than the king himself.

*** This was probably so in the case of the Pharaoh Ramses II., more than one hundred and fifty of whose children, boys and girls, are known to us, and who certainly had others besides of whom we know nothing.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief in the temple of Ibsambul: Nofritari shakes behind Ramses II. two sistra, on which are representations of the head of Hathor.

The origin and rank of their mothers greatly influenced the condition of the children. No doubt the divine blood which they took from a common father raised them all above the vulgar herd but those connected with the solar line on the maternal side occupied a decidedly much higher position than the rest: as long as one of these was living, none of his less nobly-born brothers might aspire to the crown.*

* Proof of this fact is furnished us, in so far as the XVIIIth dynasty is concerned, by the history of the immediate successors of Thutmosis I., the Pharaohs Thutmosis IL, Thutmosis III., Queen Hatshopsitu, Queen Mutnofrit, and Isis, concubine of Thutmosis IL and mother of Thutmosis III.

Those princesses who did not attain to the rank of queen by marriage, were given in early youth to some well-to-do relative, or to some courtier of high descent whom Pharaoh wished to honour; they filled the office of priestesses to the goddesses Nit or Hathor, and bore in their households titles which they transmitted to their children, with such rights to the crown as belonged to them. The most favoured of the princes married an heiress rich in fiefs, settled on her domain, and founded a race of feudal lords. Most of the royal sons remained at court, at first in their father's service and subsequently in that of their brothers' or nephews': the most difficult and best remunerated functions of the administration were assigned to them, the superintendence of public works, the important offices of the priesthood, the command of the army. It could have been no easy matter to manage without friction this multitude of relations and connections, past and present queens, sisters, concubines, uncles, brothers, cousins, nephews, sons and grandsons of kings who crowded the harem and the palace. The women contended among themselves for the affection of the master, on behalf of themselves or their children. The children were jealous of one another, and had often no bond of union except a common hatred for the son whom the chances of birth had destined to be their ruler. As long as he was full of vigour and energy, Pharaoh maintained order in his family; but when his advancing years and failing strength betokened an approaching change in the succession, competition showed itself more openly, and intrigue thickened around him or around his nearest heirs. Sometimes, indeed, he took precautions to prevent an outbreak and its disastrous consequences, by solemnly associating with himself in the royal power the son he had chosen to succeed him: Egypt in this case had to obey two masters, the younger of whom attended to the more active duties of royalty, such as progresses through the country, the conducting of military expeditions, the hunting of wild beasts, and the administration of justice; while the other preferred to confine himself to the role of adviser or benevolent counsellor. Even this precaution, however, was insufficient to prevent disasters. The women of the seraglio, encouraged from without by their relations or friends, plotted secretly for the removal of the irksome sovereign.* Those princes who had been deprived by their father's decision of any legitimate hope of reigning, concealed their discontent to no purpose; they were arrested on the first suspicion of disloyalty, and were massacred wholesale; their only chance of escaping summary execution was either by rebellion** or by taking refuge with some independent tribe of Libya or of the desert of Sinai.

* The passage of the Uni inscription, in which mention is made of a lawsuit carried on against Queen Amitsi, probably refers to some harem conspiracy. The celebrated lawsuit, some details of which are preserved for us in a papyrus of Turin, gives us some information in regard to a conspiracy which was hatched in the harem against Ramses II.

** A passage in the |Instructions of Amenemhait| describes in somewhat obscure terms an attack on the palace by
conspirators, and the wars which followed their undertaking.

[Illustration: 044.jpg The Island and Temple of Philae]

Did we but know the details of the internal history of Egypt, it would appear to us as stormy and as bloody as that of other Oriental empires: intrigues of the harem, conspiracies in the palace, murders of heirs-apparent, divisions and rebellions in the royal family, were the almost inevitable accompaniment of every accession to the Egyptian throne.

The earliest dynasties had their origin in the |White Wall,| but the Pharaohs hardly ever made this town their residence, and it would be incorrect to say that they considered it as their capital; each king chose for himself in the Memphite or Letopolite nome, between the entrance to the Fayuni and the apex of the Delta, a special residence, where he dwelt with his court, and from whence he governed Egypt. Such a multitude as formed his court needed not an ordinary palace, but an entire city. A brick wall, surmounted by battlements, formed a square or rectangular enclosure around it, and was of sufficient thickness and height not only to defy a popular insurrection or the surprises of marauding Bedouin, but to resist for a long time a regular siege. At the extreme end of one of its facades, was a single tall and narrow opening, closed by a wooden door supported on bronze hinges, and surmounted with a row of pointed metal ornaments; this opened into a long narrow passage between the external wall and a partition wall of equal strength; at the end of the passage in the angle was a second door, sometimes leading into a second passage, but more often opening into a large courtyard, where the dwelling-houses were somewhat crowded together: assailants ran the risk of being annihilated in the passage before reaching the centre of the place.* The royal residence could be immediately distinguished by the projecting balconies on its facade, from which, as from a tribune, Pharaoh could watch the evolutions of his guard, the stately approach of foreign envoys, Egyptian nobles seeking audience, or such officials as he desired to reward for their services. They advanced from the far end of the court, stopped before the balcony, and after prostrating themselves stood up, bowed their heads, wrung and twisted their hands, now quickly, now slowly, in a rhythmical manner, and rendered worship to their master, chanting his praises, before receiving the necklaces and jewels of gold which he presented to them by his chamberlains, or which he himself deigned to fling to them.**

* No plan or exact drawing of any of the palaces of the Ancient Empire has come down to us, but, as Erman has very justly pointed out, the signs found in contemporary inscriptions give us a good general idea of them. The doors which lead from one of the hours of the night to another, in the |Book of the Other World,| show us the double passage leading to the courtyard. The hieroglyph [ -- ] gives us the name Uoskhit (literally, the broad [place]) of the courtyard on to which the passage opened, at the end of which the palace and royal judgment-seat (or, in the other world, the tribunal of Osiris, the court of the double truth) were situated.

** The ceremonial of these receptions is not represented on any monuments with which we are at present acquainted, prior to the XVIIIth dynasty.

It is difficult for us to catch a glimpse of the detail of the internal arrangements: we find, however, mention made of large halls |resembling the hall of Atumu in the heavens,| whither the king repaired to deal with state affairs in council, to dispense justice and sometimes also to preside at state banquets. Long rows of tall columns, carved out of rare woods and painted with bright colours, supported the roofs of these chambers, which were entered by doors inlaid with gold and silver, and incrusted with malachite or lapis-lazuli.*

* This is the description of the palace of Amon built by Ramses III. Ramses II. was seated in one of these halls, on a throne of gold, when he deliberated with his councillors in regard to the construction of a cistern in the desert for the miners who were going to the gold-mines of Akiti. The room in which the king stopped, after leaving his
apartments, for the purpose of putting on his ceremonial dress and receiving the homage of his ministers, appears to me to have been called during the Ancient Empire |Pi-dait| -- |The House of Adoration,| the house in which the king was worshipped, as in temples of the Ptolemaic epoch, was that in which the statue of the god, on leaving the sanctuary, was dressed and worshipped by the faithful. Sinuhit, under the XIIth dynasty, was granted an audience in the |Hall of Electrum.|

The private apartments, the |akhonuiti,| were entirely separate, but they communicated with the queen's dwelling and with the harem of the wives of inferior rank. The |royal children| occupied a quarter to themselves, under the care of their tutors; they had their own houses and a train of servants proportionate to their rank, age, and the fortune of their mother's family. The nobles who had appointments at court and the royal domestics lived in the palace itself, but the offices of the different functionaries, the storehouses for their provisions, the dwellings of their employes, formed distinct quarters outside the palace, grouped around narrow courts, and communicating with each other by a labyrinth of lanes or covered passages. The entire building was constructed of wood or bricks, less frequently of roughly dressed stone, badly built, and wanting in solidity. The ancient Pharaohs were no more inclined than the Sultans of later days to occupy palaces in which their predecessors had lived and died. Each king desired to possess a habitation after his own heart, one which would not be haunted by the memory, or perchance the double, of another sovereign. These royal mansions, hastily erected, hastily filled with occupants, were vacated and fell into ruin with no less rapidity: they grew old with their master, or even more rapidly than he, and his disappearance almost always entailed their ruin. In the neighbourhood of Memphis many of these palaces might be seen, which their short-lived masters had built for eternity, an eternity which did not last longer than the lives of their builders.*

Nothing could present a greater variety than the population of these ephemeral cities in the climax of their splendour. We have first the people who immediately surrounded the Pharaoh,** the retainers of the palace and of the harem, whose highly complex degrees of rank are revealed to us on the monuments.*** His person was, as it were, minutely subdivided into departments, each requiring its attendants and their appointed chiefs.

* The song of the harp-player on the tomb of King Antuf contains an allusion to these ruined palaces: |The gods [kings] who were of yore, and who repose in their tombs, mummies and manes, all buried alike in their pyramids, when castles are built they no longer have a place in them; see, thus it is done with them! I have heard the poems in praise of Imhotpu and of Hardidif which are sung in the songs, and yet, see, where are their places to-day? their walls are destroyed, their places no more, as though they have never existed!|

** They are designated by the general terms of Shonitiu, the |people of the circle,| and Qonbitiu, the |people of the corner.| These words are found in religious inscriptions referring to the staff of the temples, and denote the attendants or court of each god; they are used to
distinguish the notables of a town or borough, the sheikhs, who enjoyed the right to superintend local administration and dispense justice.

*** The Egyptian scribes had endeavoured to draw up an hierarchical list of these offices. At present we possess the remains of two lists of this description. One of these, preserved in the |Hood Papyrus| in the British Museum, has been published and translated by Maspero, in Etudes Egyptiennes, vol. ii. pp.1-66; another and more complete copy, discovered in 1890, is in the possession of M. Golenischeff. The other list, also in the British Museum, was published by Prof. Petrie in a memoir of The Egypt Exploration Fund ; in this latter the names and titles are intermingled with various other matter. To these two works may be added the lists of professions and trades to be found passim on the monuments, and which have been commented on by Brugsch.

His toilet alone gave employment to a score of different trades. There were royal barbers, who had the privilege of shaving his head and chin; hairdressers who made, curled, and put on his black or blue wigs and adjusted the diadems to them; there were manicurists who pared and polished his nails, perfumers who prepared the scented oils and pomades for the anointing of his body, the kohl for blackening his eyelids, the rouge for spreading on his lips and cheeks. His wardrobe required a whole troop of shoemakers, belt-makers, and tailors, some of whom had the care of stuffs in the piece, others presided over the body-linen, while others took charge of his garments, comprising long or short, transparent or thick petticoats, fitting tightly to the hips or cut with ample fulness, draped mantles and flowing pelisses. Side by side with these officials, the laundresses plied their trade, which was an important one among a people devoted to white, and in whose estimation want of cleanliness in dress entailed religious impurity. Like the fellahin of the present time, they took their linen daily to wash in the river; they rinsed, starched, smoothed, and pleated it without intermission to supply the incessant demands of Pharaoh and his family.*

* The |royal laundrymen| and their chiefs are mentioned in the Conte des deux freres under the XIXth dynasty, as well as their laundries on the banks of the Nile.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a squeeze taken at Saqqara in 1878 by Mariette

The task of those set over the jewels was no easy one, when we consider the enormous variety of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, and sceptres of rich workmanship which ceremonial costume required for particular times and occasions. The guardianship of the crowns almost approached to the dignity of the priesthood; for was not the uraeus, which ornamented each one, a living goddess? The queen required numerous waiting-women, and the same ample number of attendants were to be encountered in the establishments of the other ladies of the harem. Troops of musicians, singers, dancers, and almehs whiled away the tedious hours, supplemented by buffoons and dwarfs. The great Egyptian lords evinced a curious liking for these unfortunate beings, and amused themselves by getting together the ugliest and most deformed creatures. They are often represented on the tombs beside their masters in company with his pet dog, or a gazelle, or with a monkey which they sometimes hold in leash, or sometimes are engaged in teasing. Sometimes the Pharaoh bestowed his friendship on his dwarfs, and confided to them occupations in his household. One of them, Khnumhotpu, died superintendent of the royal linen. The staff of servants required for supplying the table exceeded all the others in number. It could scarcely be otherwise if we consider that the master had to provide food, not only for his regular servants,* but for all those of his employes and subjects whose business brought them to the royal residence: even those poor wretches who came to complain to him of some more or less imaginary grievance were fed at his expense while awaiting his judicial verdict. Head-cooks, butlers, pantlers, pastrycooks, fishmongers, game or fruit dealers -- if all enumerated, would be endless. The bakers who baked the ordinary bread were not to be confounded with those who manufactured biscuits. The makers of pancakes and dough-nuts took precedence of the cake-bakers, and those who concocted delicate fruit preserves ranked higher than the common dryer of dates.

* Even after death they remained inscribed on the registers of the palace, and had rations served out to them every day as funeral offerings.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey; the original is at Gizeh

If one had held a post in the royal household, however low the occupation, it was something to be proud of all one's life, and after death to boast of in one's epitaph. The chiefs to whom this army of servants rendered obedience at times rose from the ranks; on some occasion their master had noticed them in the crowd, and had transferred them, some by a single promotion, others by slow degrees, to the highest offices of the state. Many among them, however, belonged to old families, and held positions in the palace which their fathers and grandfathers had occupied before them, some were members of the provincial nobility, distant descendants of former royal princes and princesses, more or less nearly related to the reigning sovereign.*

* It was the former who, I believe, formed the class of rokhu suton so often mentioned on the monuments. This title is generally supposed to have been a mark of
relationship with the royal family. M. de Rouge proved long ago that this was not so, and that functionaries might bear this title even though they were not blood relations of the Pharaohs. It seems to me to have been used to indicate a class of courtiers whom the king condescended to |know| (rokhu) directly, without the intermediary of a
chamberlain, the |persons known by the king;| the others were only his |friends| (samiru).

They had been sought out to be the companions of his education and of his pastimes, while he was still living an obscure life in the |House of the Children;| he had grown up with them and had kept them about his person as his |sole friends| and counsellors. He lavished titles and offices upon them by the dozen, according to the confidence he felt in their capacity or to the amount of faithfulness with which he credited them. A few of the most favoured were called |Masters of the Secret of the Royal House;| they knew all the innermost recesses of the palace, all the passwords needed in going from one part of it to another, the place where the royal treasures were kept, and the modes of access to it. Several of them were |Masters of the Secret of all the Royal Words,| and had authority over the high courtiers of the palace, which gave them the power of banishing whom they pleased from the person of the sovereign. Upon others devolved the task of arranging his amusements; they rejoiced the heart of his Majesty by pleasant songs, while the chiefs of the sailors and soldiers kept watch over his safety. To these active services were attached honorary privileges which were highly esteemed, such as the right to retain their sandals in the palace, while the general crowd of courtiers could only enter unshod; that of kissing the knees and not the feet of the |good god,| and that of wearing the panther's skin. Among those who enjoyed these distinctions were the physicians of the king, chaplains, and men of the roll -- |khri-habi.| The latter did not confine themselves to the task of guiding Pharaoh through the intricacies of ritual, nor to that of prompting him with the necessary formulas needed to make the sacrifice efficacious; they were styled |Masters of the Secrets of Heaven,| those who see what is in the firmament, on the earth and in Hades, those who know all the charms of the soothsayers, prophets, or magicians. The laws relating to the government of the seasons and the stars presented no mysteries to them, neither were they ignorant of the months, days, or hours propitious to the undertakings of everyday life or the starting out on an expedition, nor of those times during which any action was dangerous. They drew their inspirations from the books of magic written by Thot, which taught them the art of interpreting dreams or of curing the sick, or of invoking and obliging the gods to assist them, and of arresting or hastening the progress of the sun on the celestial ocean. Some are mentioned as being able to divide the waters at their will, and to cause them to return to their natural place, merely by means of a short formula. An image of a man or animal made by them out of enchanted wax, was imbued with life at their command, and became an irresistible instrument of their wrath. Popular stories reveal them to us at work. |Is it true,| said Kheops to one of them, |that thou canst replace a head which has been cut off?| On his admitting that he could do so, Pharaoh immediately desired to test his power. |Bring me a prisoner from prison and let him be slain.| The magician, at this proposal, exclaimed: |Nay, nay, not a man, sire my master; do not command that this sin should be committed; a fine animal will suffice!| A goose was brought, |its head was cut off and the body was placed on the right side, and the head of the goose on the left side of the hall: he recited what he recited from his book of magic, the goose began to hop forward, the head moved on to it, and, when both were united, the goose began to cackle. A pelican was produced, and underwent the same process. His Majesty then caused a bull to be brought forward, and its head was smitten to the ground: the magician recited what he recited from his book of magic, the bull at once arose, and he replaced on it what had fallen to the earth.| The great lords themselves deigned to become initiated into the occult sciences, and were invested with these formidable powers. A prince who practised magic would enjoy amongst us nowadays but small esteem: in Egypt sorcery was not considered incompatible with royalty, and the magicians of Pharaoh often took Pharaoh himself as their pupil.*

Such were the king's household, the people about his person, and those attached to the service of his family. His capital sheltered a still greater number of officials and functionaries who were charged with the administration of his fortune -- that is to say, what he possessed in Egypt.** In theory it was always supposed that the whole of the soil belonged to him, but that he and his predecessors had diverted and parcelled off such an amount of it for the benefit of their favourites, or for the hereditary lords, that only half of the actual territory remained under his immediate control. He governed most of the nomes of the Delta in person:*** beyond the Fayum, he merely retained isolated lands, enclosed in the middle of feudal principalities and often at considerable distance from each other.

* We know the reputation, extending even to the classical writers of antiquity, of the Pharaohs Nechepso and Nectanebo for their skill in magic. Arab writers have, moreover, collected a number of traditions concerning the marvels which the sorcerers of Egypt were in the habit of
performing; as an instance, I may quote the description given by Makrizi of one of their meetings, which is probably taken from some earlier writer.

** They were frequently distinguished from their provincial or manorial colleagues by the addition of the word khonu to their titles, a term which indicates, in a general manner, the royal residence. They formed what we should nowadays call the departmental staff of the public officers, and might be deputed to act, at least temporarily, in the provinces, or in the service of one of the feudal princes, without thereby losing their status as functionaries of the khonu or central administration.

*** This seems, at any rate, an obvious inference from the almost total absence of feudal titles on the most ancient monuments of the Delta. Erman, who was struck by this fact, attributed it to a different degree of civilization in the two halves of Egypt; I attribute it to a difference in government. Feudal titles naturally predominate in the South, royal administrative titles in the North.

The extent of the royal domain varied with different dynasties, and even from reign to reign: if it sometimes decreased, owing to too frequently repeated concessions,* its losses were generally amply compensated by the confiscation of certain fiefs, or by their lapsing to the crown. The domain was always of sufficient extent to oblige the Pharaoh to confide the larger portion of it to officials of various kinds, and to farm merely a small remainder of the |royal slaves:| in the latter case, he reserved for himself all the profits, but at the expense of all the annoyance and all the outlay; in the former case, he obtained without any risk the annual dues, the amount of which was fixed on the spot, according to the resources of the nome.

* We find, at different periods, persons who call themselves masters of new domains or strongholds -- Pahurnofir, under the IIIrd dynasty; several princes of Hermopolis, under the VIth and VIIth; Khnumhotpu at the begining of the XIIth. In connection with the last named, we shall have occasion, later on, to show in what manner and with what rapidity one of these great new fiefs was formed.

In order to understand the manner in which the government of Egypt was conducted, we should never forget that the world was still ignorant of the use of money, and that gold, silver, and copper, however abundant we may suppose them to have been, were mere articles of exchange, like the most common products of Egyptian soil. Pharaoh was not then, as the State is with us, a treasurer who calculates the total of his receipts and expenses in ready money, banks his revenue in specie occupying but little space, and settles his accounts from the same source. His fiscal receipts were in kind, and it was in kind that he remunerated his servants for their labour: cattle, cereals, fermented drinks, oils, stuffs, common or precious metals, -- |all that the heavens give, all that the earth produces, all that the Nile brings from its mysterious sources,|* -- constituted the coinage in which his subjects paid him their contributions, and which he passed on to his vassals by way of salary.

* This was the most usual formula for the offering on the funerary stelo, and sums up more completely than any other the nature of the tax paid to the gods by the living, and consequently the nature of that paid to the king; here, as elsewhere, the domain of the gods is modelled on that of the Pharaohs.

One room, a few feet square, and, if need be, one safe, would easily contain the entire revenue of one of our modern empires: the largest of our emporiums would not always have sufficed to hold the mass of incongruous objects which represented the returns of a single Egyptian province. As the products in which the tax was paid took various forms, it was necessary to have an infinite variety of special agents and suitable places to receive it; herdsmen and sheds for the oxen, measurers and granaries for the grain, butlers and cellarers for the wine, beer, and oils. The product of the tax, while awaiting redistribution, could only be kept from deteriorating in value by incessant labour, in which a score of different classes of clerks and workmen in the service of the treasury all took part, according to their trades. If the tax were received in oxen, it was led to pasturage, or at times, when a murrain threatened to destroy it, to the slaughter-house and the currier; if it were in corn, it was bolted, ground to flour, and made into bread and pastry; if it were in stuffs, it was washed, ironed, and folded, to be retailed as garments or in the piece. The royal treasury partook of the character of the farm, the warehouse, and the manufactory.

Each of the departments which helped to swell its contents, occupied within the palace enclosure a building, or group of buildings, which was called its |house,| or, as we should say, its storehouse.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph in Lepsius, Denhm., ii.96.

There was the |White Storehouse,| where the stuffs and jewels were kept, and at times the wine; the |Storehouse of the Oxen,| the |Gold Storehouse,| the |Storehouse for Preserved Fruits,| the |Storehouse for Grain,| the |Storehouse for Liquors,| and ten other storehouses of the application of which we are not always sure. In the |Storehouse of Weapons| (or Armoury) were ranged thousands of clubs, maces, pikes, daggers, bows, and bundles of arrows, which Pharaoh distributed to his recruits whenever a war forced him to call out his army, and which were again warehoused after the campaign. The |storehouses| were further subdivided into rooms or store-chambers,* each reserved for its own category of objects.

* Ait, Ai. Lefebure has collected a number of passages in which these storehouses are mentioned, in his notes Sur differents mots et noms Egyptiens. In many of the cases which he quotes, and in which he recognizes an office of the State, I believe reference to be made to a trade: many of the ari ait-afu, |people of the store-chambers for meat,| were probably butchers; many of the ari ait-hiqItu, |people of the store-chamber for beer,| were probably keepers of drink-shops, trading on their own account in the town of Abydos, and not employes attached to the exchequer of Pharaoh or of the ruler of Thinis.

It would be difficult to enumerate the number of store-chambers in the outbuildings of the |Storehouse of Provisions| -- store-chambers for butcher's meat, for fruits, for beer, bread, and wine, in which were deposited as much of each article of food as would be required by the court for some days, or at most for a few weeks. They were brought there from the larger storehouses, the wines from vaults, the oxen from their stalls, the corn from the granaries. The latter were vast brick-built receptacles, ten or more in a row, circular in shape and surmounted by cupolas, but having no communication with each other. They had only two openings, one at the top for pouring in the grain, another on the ground level for drawing it out; a notice posted up outside, often on the shutter which closed the chamber, indicated the character and quantity of the cereals within. For the security and management of these, there were employed troops of porters, store-keepers, accountants, |primates| who superintended the works, record-keepers, and directors. Great nobles coveted the administration of the |storehouses,| and even the sons of kings did not think it derogatory to their dignity to be entitled |Directors of the Granaries,| or |Directors of the Armoury.| There was no law against pluralists, and more than one of them boasts on his tomb of having held simultaneously five or six offices. These storehouses participated like all the other dependencies of the crown, in that duality which characterized the person of the Pharaoh. They would be called in common parlance, the Storehouse or the Double White Storehouse, the Storehouse or the Double Gold Storehouse, the Double Warehouse, the Double Granary.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a scene on the tomb of Amoni at Beni-Hasan. On the right, near the door, is a heap of grain, from which the measurer fills his measure in order to empty it into the sack which one of the porters holds open. In the centre is a train of slaves ascending the stairs which lead to the loft above the granaries; one of them empties his sack into a hole above the granary in the presence of the overseer. The inscriptions in ink on the outer wall of the receptacles, which have already been filled, indicate the number of measures which each one of them contains.

The large towns, as well as the capital, possessed their double storehouses and their store-chambers, into which were gathered the products of the neighbourhood, but where a complete staff of employes was not always required: in such towns we meet with |localities| in which the commodities were housed merely temporarily. The least perishable part of the provincial dues was forwarded by boat to the royal residence,* and swelled the central treasury.

* The boats employed for this purpose formed a flotilla, and their commanders constituted a regularly organized transport corps, who are frequently to be found represented on the monuments of the New Empire, carrying tribute to the residence of the king or of the prince, whose retainers they were.

The remainder was used on the spot for paying workman's wages, and for the needs of the Administration. We see from the inscriptions, that the staffs of officials who administered affairs in the provinces was similar to that in the royal city. Starting from the top, and going down to the bottom of the scale, each functionary supervised those beneath him, while, as a body, they were all responsible for their depot. Any irregularity in the entries entailed the bastinado; peculators were punished by imprisonment, mutilation, or death, according to the gravity of the offence. Those whom illness or old age rendered unfit for work, were pensioned for the remainder of their life.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius, Denkm., iii.95. The illustration is taken from one of the tombs at Tel el- Amarna. The storehouse consists of four blocks, isolated by two avenues planted with trees, which intersect each other in the form of a cross. Behind the entrance gate, in a small courtyard, is a kiosque, in which the master sat for the purpose of receiving the stores or of superintending their distribution; two arms of the cross are lined by porticoes, under which are the entrances to the |chambers| (dit) for the stores, which are filled with jars of wine, linen- chests, dried fish, and other articles.

The writer, or, as we call him, the scribe, was the mainspring of all this machinery. We come across him in all grades of the staff: an insignificant registrar of oxen, a clerk of the Double White Storehouse, ragged, humble, and badly paid, was a scribe just as much as the noble, the priest, or the king's son. Thus the title of scribe was of no value in itself, and did not designate, as one might naturally think, a savant educated in a school of high culture, or a man of the world, versed in the sciences and the literature of his time; El-kab was a scribe who knew how to read, write, and cipher, was fairly proficient in wording the administrative formulas, and could easily apply the elementary rules of book-keeping. There was no public school in which the scribe could be prepared for his future career; but as soon as a child had acquired the first rudiments of letters with some old pedagogue, his father took him with him to his office, or entrusted him to some friend who agreed to undertake his education. The apprentice observed what went on around him, imitated the mode of procedure of the employes, copied in his spare time old papers, letters, bills, flowerily-worded petitions, reports, complimentary addresses to his superiors or to the Pharaoh, all of which his patron examined and corrected, noting on the margin letters or words imperfectly written, improving the style, and recasting or completing the incorrect expressions.* As soon as he could put together a certain number of sentences or figures without a mistake, he was allowed to draw up bills, or to have the sole superintendence of some department of the treasury, his work being gradually increased in amount and difficulty; when he was considered to be sufficiently au courant with the ordinary business, his education was declared to be finished, and a situation was found for him either in the place where he had begun his probation, or in some neighbouring office.**

* We still possess school exercises of the XIXth and XXth dynasties, e.g. the Papyrus Anastasi n IV., and the Anastasi Papyrus n V., in which we find a whole string of pieces of every possible style and description -- business letters, requests for leave of absence, complimentary verses addressed to a superior, all probably a collection of exercises compiled by some professor, and copied by his pupils in order to complete their education as scribes; the master's corrections are made at the top and bottom of the pages in a bold and skilful hand, very different from that of the pupil, though the writing of the latter is generally more legible to our modern eyes (Select Papyri, vol. i. pls. lxxxiii.-cxxi.).

** Evidence of this state of things seems to be furnished by all the biographies of scribes with which we are acquainted, e.g. that of Amten; it is, moreover, what took place regularly throughout the whole of Egypt, down to the latest times, and what probably still occurs in those parts of the country where European ideas have not yet made any deep impression.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a wall-painting on the tomb of Khunas. Two scribes are writing on tablets. Before the scribe in the upper part of the picture we see a palette, with two saucers, on a vessel which serves as an ink-bottle, and a packet of tablets tied together, the whole supported by a bundle of archives. The scribe in the lower part rests his tablet against an ink-bottle, a box for archives being placed before him. Behind them a nakht-khrou announces the delivery of a tablet covered with figures which the third scribe is presenting to the master.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture in the tomb of Shopsisuri. Four registrars of the funerary temple of Usirniri advance in a crawling posture towards the master, the fifth has just risen and holds himself in a stooping attitude, while an usher introduces him and transmits to him an order to send in his accounts.

Thus equipped, the young man ended usually by succeeding his father or his patron: in most of the government administrations, we find whole dynasties of scribes on a small scale, whose members inherited the same post for several centuries. The position was an insignificant one, and the salary poor, but the means of existence were assured, the occupant was exempted from forced labour and from military service, and he exercised a certain authority in the narrow world in which he lived; it sufficed to make him think himself happy, and in fact to be so. |One has only to be a scribe,| said the wise man, |for the scribe takes the lead of all.| Sometimes, however, one of these contented officials, more intelligent or ambitious than his fellows, succeeded in rising above the common mediocrity: his fine handwriting, the happy choice of his sentences, his activity, his obliging manner, his honesty -- perhaps also his discreet dishonesty -- attracted the attention of his superiors and were the cause of his promotion. The son of a peasant or of some poor wretch, who had begun life by keeping a register of the bread and vegetables in some provincial government office, had been often known to crown his long and successful career by exercising a kind of vice-regency over the half of Egypt. His granaries overflowed with corn, his storehouses were always full of gold, fine stuffs, and precious vases, his stalls |multiplied the backs| of his oxen; the sons of his early patrons, having now become in turn his proteges, did not venture to approach him except with bowed head and bended knee.

No doubt the Amten whose tomb was removed to Berlin by Lepsius, and put together piece by piece in the museum, was a parvenu of this kind. He was born rather more than four thousand years before our era under one of the last kings of the IIIrd dynasty, and he lived until the reign of the first king of the IVth dynasty, Snofrui. He probably came from the Nome of the Bull, if not from Xois itself, in the heart of the Delta. His father, the scribe Anupumonkhu, held, in addition to his office, several landed estates, producing large returns; but his mother, Nibsonit, who appears to have been merely a concubine, had no personal fortune, and would have been unable even to give her child an education. Anupumonkhu made himself entirely responsible for the necessary expenses, |giving him all the necessities of life, at a time when he had not as yet either corn, barley, income, house, men or women servants, or troops of asses, pigs, or oxen.| As soon as he was in a condition to provide for himself, his father obtained for him, in his native Nome, the post of chief scribe attached to one of the |localities| which belonged to the Administration of Provisions. On behalf of the Pharaoh, the young man received, registered, and distributed the meat, cakes, fruits, and fresh vegetables which constituted the taxes, all on his own responsibility, except that he had to give an account of them to the |Director of the Storehouse| who was nearest to him. We are not told how long he remained in this occupation; we see merely that he was raised successively to posts of an analogous kind, but of increasing importance. The provincial offices comprised a small staff of employes, consisting always of the same officials: -- a chief, whose ordinary function was |Director of the Storehouse;| a few scribes to keep the accounts, one or two of whom added to his ordinary calling that of keeper of the archives; paid ushers to introduce clients, and, if need be, to bastinado them summarily at the order of the |director;| lastly, the |strong of voice,| the criers, who superintended the incomings and outgoings, and proclaimed the account of them to the scribes to be noted down forthwith. A vigilant and honest crier was a man of great value.


He obliged the taxpayer not only to deliver the exact number of measures prescribed as his quota, but also compelled him to deliver good measure in each case; a dishonest crier, on the contrary, could easily favour cheating, provided that he shared in the spoil. Amten was at once |crier| and |taxer of the colonists| to the civil administrator of the Xoite nome: he announced the names of the peasants and the payments they made, then estimated the amount of the local tax which each, according to his income, had to pay. He distinguished himself so pre-eminently in these delicate duties, that the civil administrator of Xois made him one of his subordinates. He became |Chief of the Ushers,| afterwards |Master Crier,| then |Director of all the King's flax| in the Xoifce nome -- an office which entailed on him the supervision of the culture, cutting, and general preparation of flax for the manufacture which was carried on in Pharaoh's own domain. It was one of the highest offices in the Provincial Administration, and Amten must have congratulated himself on his appointment.

From that moment his career became a great one, and he advanced quickly. Up to that time he had been confined in offices; he now left them to perform more active service. The Pharaohs, extremely jealous of their own authority, usually avoided placing at the head of the nomes in their domain, a single ruler, who would have appeared too much like a prince; they preferred having in each centre of civil administration, governors of the town or province, as well as military commanders who were jealous of one another, supervised one another, counterbalanced one another, and did not remain long enough in office to become dangerous. Amten held all these posts successively in most of the nomes situated in the centre or to the west of the Delta. His first appointment was to the government of the village of Pidosu, an unimportant post in itself, but one which entitled him to a staff of office, and in consequence procured for him one of the greatest indulgences of vanity that an Egyptian could enjoy. The staff was, in fact, a symbol of command which only the nobles, and the officials associated with the nobility, could carry without transgressing custom; the assumption of it, as that of the sword with us, showed every one that the bearer was a member of a privileged class.

[Illustration: 072.jpg STATUE OF AMTEN, FOUND IN HIS TOMB]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius, Denkm., ii.120 a; the original is in the Berlin Museum.

Amten was no sooner ennobled, than his functions began to expand; villages were rapidly added to villages, then towns to towns, including such an important one as Buto, and finally the nomes of the Harpoon, of the Bull, of the Silurus, the western half of the Saite nome, the nome of the Haunch, and a part of the Fayum came within his jurisdiction. The western half of the Saite nome, where he long resided, corresponded with what was called later the Libyan nome. It reached nearly from the apex of the Delta to the sea, and was bounded on one side by the Canopic branch of the Nile, on the other by the Libyan range; a part of the desert as well as the Oases fell under its rule. It included among its population, as did many of the provinces of Upper Egypt, regiments composed of nomad hunters, who were compelled to pay their tribute in living or dead game. Amten was metamorphosed into Chief Huntsman, scoured the mountains with his men, and thereupon became one of the most important personages in the defence of the country. The Pharaohs had built fortified stations, and had from time to time constructed walls at certain points where the roads entered the valley -- at Syene, at Coptos, and at the entrance to the Wady Tumilat. Amten having been proclaimed |Primate of the Western Gate,| that is, governor of the Libyan marches, undertook to protect the frontier against the wandering Bedouin from the other side of Lake Mareotis. His duties as Chief Huntsman had been the best preparation he could have had for this arduous task. They had forced him to make incessant expeditions among the mountains, to explore the gorges and ravines, to be acquainted with the routes marked out by wells which the marauders were obliged to follow in their incursions, and the pathways and passes by which they could descend into the plain of the Delta; in running the game to earth, he had gained all the knowledge needful for repulsing the enemy. Such a combination of capabilities made Amten the most important noble in this part of Egypt. When old age at last prevented him from leading an active life, he accepted, by way of a pension, the governorship of the nome of the Haunch: with civil authority, military command, local priestly functions, and honorary distinctions, he lacked only one thing to make him the equal of the nobles of ancient family, and that was permission to bequeath without restriction his towns and offices to his children.

His private fortune was not as great as we might be led to think. He inherited from his father only one estate, but had acquired twelve others in the nomes of the Delta whither his successive appointments had led him -- namely, in the Saite, Xoite, and Letopolite nomes. He received subsequently, as a reward for his services, two hundred portions of cultivated land, with numerous peasants, both male and female, and an income of one hundred loaves daily, a first charge upon the funeral provision of Queen Hapunimait. He took advantage of this windfall to endow his family suitably. His only son was already provided for, thanks to the munificence of Pharaoh; he had begun his administrative career by holding the same post of scribe, in addition to the office of provision registrar, which his father had held, and over and above these he received by royal grant, four portions of cornland with their population and stock. Amten gave twelve portions to his other children and fifty to his mother Nibsonit, by means of which she lived comfortably in her old age, and left an annuity for maintaining worship at her tomb. He built upon the remainder of the land a magnificent villa, of which he has considerately left us the description. The boundary wall formed a square of 350 feet on each face, and consequently contained a superficies of 122,500 square feet. The well-built dwelling-house, completely furnished with all the necessities of life, was surrounded by ornamental and fruit-bearing trees, -- the common palm, the nebbek, fig trees, and acacias; several ponds, neatly bordered with greenery, afforded a habitat for aquatic birds; trellised vines, according to custom, ran in front of the house, and two plots of ground, planted with vines in full bearing, amply supplied the owner with wine every year.


This plan is taken from a Theban tomb of the XVIIIth dynasty; but it corresponds exactly with the description which Amten has left us of his villa.

It was there, doubtless, that Amten ended his days in peace and quietude of mind. The tableland whereon the Sphinx has watched for so many centuries was then crowned by no pyramids, but mastabas of fine white stone rose here and there from out of the sand: that in which the mummy of Amten was to be enclosed was situated not far from the modern village of Abusir, on the confines of the nome of the Haunch, and almost in sight of the mansion in which his declining years were spent.*

* The site of Amten's manorial mansion is nowhere mentioned in the inscriptions; but the custom of the Egyptians to construct their tombs as near as possible to the places where they resided, leads me to consider it as almost certain that we ought to look for its site in the Memphite plain, in the vicinity of the town of Abusir, but in a northern direction, so as to keep within the territory of the Letopolite nome, where Amten governed in the name of the king.

The number of persons of obscure origin, who in this manner had risen in a few years to the highest honours, and died governors of provinces or ministers of Pharaoh, must have been considerable. Their descendants followed in their fathers' footsteps, until the day came when royal favour or an advantageous marriage secured them the possession of an hereditary fief, and transformed the son or grandson of a prosperous scribe into a feudal lord. It was from people of this class, and from the children of the Pharaoh, that the nobility was mostly recruited. In the Delta, where the authority of the Pharaoh was almost everywhere directly felt, the power of the nobility was weakened and much curtailed; in Middle Egypt it gained ground, and became stronger and stronger in proportion as one advanced southward. The nobles held the principalities of the Gazelle, of the Hare, of the Serpent Mountain, of Akhmim, of Thinis, of Qasr-es-Sayad, of El-Kab, of Aswan, and doubtless others of which we shall some day discover the monuments.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Gayet.

They accepted without difficulty the fiction according to which Pharaoh claimed to be absolute master of the soil, and ceded to his subjects only the usufruct of their fiefs; but apart from the admission of the principle, each lord proclaimed himself sovereign in his own domain, and exercised in it, on a small scale, complete royal authority.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey. The tomb of Api was discovered at Saqqara in 1884. It had been pulled down in ancient times, and a new tomb built on its ruins, about the time of the XIIth dynasty; all that remains of it is now in the museum at Gizeh.

Everything within the limits of this petty state belonged to him -- woods, canals, fields, even the desert-sand: after the example of the Pharaoh, he farmed a part himself, and let out the remainder, either in farms or as fiefs, to those of his followers who had gained his confidence or his friendship. After the example of Pharaoh, also, he was a priest, and exercised priestly functions in relation to all the gods -- that is, not of all Egypt, but of all the deities of the nome. He was an administrator of civil and criminal law, received the complaints of his vassals and serfs at the gate of his palace, and against his decisions there was no appeal. He kept up a flotilla, and raised on his estate a small army, of which he was commander-in-chief by hereditary right. He inhabited a fortified mansion, situated sometimes within the capital of the principality itself, sometimes in its neighbourhood, and in which the arrangements of the royal city were reproduced on a smaller scale.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph in Flinders Petrie's Medum, pl. xxiv.

Side by side with the reception halls was the harem, where the legitimate wife, often a princess of solar rank, played the role of queen, surrounded by concubines, dancers, and slaves. The offices of the various departments were crowded into the enclosure, with their directors, governors, scribes of all ranks, custodians, and workmen, who bore the same titles as the corresponding employes in the departments of the State: their White Storehouse, their Gold Storehouse, their Granary, were at times called the Double White Storehouse, the Double Gold Storehouse, the Double Granary, as were those of the Pharaoh. Amusements at the court of the vassal did not differ from those at that of the sovereign: hunting in the desert and the marshes, fishing, inspection of agricultural works, military exercises, games, songs, dancing, doubtless the recital of long stories, and exhibitions of magic, even down to the contortions of the court buffoon and the grimaces of the dwarfs.

[Illustration: 080.jpg IN A NILE BOAT]

It amused the prince to see one of these wretched favourites leading to him by the paw a cynocephalus larger than himself, while a mischievous monkey slyly pulled a tame and stately ibis by the tail. From time to time the great lord proceeded to inspect his domain: on these occasions he travelled in a kind of sedan chair, supported by two mules yoked together; or he was borne in a palanquin by some thirty men, while fanned by large flabella; or possibly he went up the Nile and the canals in his beautiful painted barge. The life of the Egyptian lords may be aptly described as in every respect an exact reproduction of the life of the Pharaoh on a smaller scale.

Inheritance in a direct or indirect line was the rule, but in every case of transmission the new lord had to receive the investiture of the sovereign either by letter or in person. The duties enforced by the feudal state do not appear to have been onerous. In the first place, there was the regular payment of a tribute, proportionate to the extent and resources of the fief. In the next place, there was military service: the vassal agreed to supply, when called upon, a fixed number of armed men, whom he himself commanded, unless he could offer a reasonable excuse such as illness or senile incapacity.*

* Prince Amoni, of the Gazelle nome, led a body of four hundred men and another body of six hundred, levied in his principality, into Ethiopia under these conditions; the first that he served in the royal army, was as a substitute for his father, who had grown too old. Similarly, under the XVIIIth dynasty, Ahmosis of El-Kab commanded the war-ship, the Calf, in place of his father. The Uni inscription furnishes us with an instance of a general levy of the feudal contingents in the time of the VIth dynasty (1.14, et seq.).

Attendance at court was not obligatory: we notice, however, many nobles about the person of Pharaoh, and there are numerous examples of princes, with whose lives we are familiar, filling offices which appear to have demanded at least a temporary residence in the palace, as, for instance, the charge of the royal wardrobe. When the king travelled, the great vassals were compelled to entertain him and his suite, and to escort him to the frontier of their domain. On the occasion of such visits, the king would often take away with him one of their sons to be brought up with his own children: an act which they on their part considered a great honour, while the king on his had a guarantee of their fidelity in the person of these hostages. Such of these young people as returned to their fathers' roof when their education was finished, were usually most loyal to the reigning dynasty. They often brought back with them some maiden born in the purple, who consented to share their little provincial sovereignty, while in exchange one or more of their sisters entered the harem of the Pharaoh. Marriages made and marred in their turn the fortunes of the great feudal houses. Whether she were a princess or not, each woman received as her dowry a portion of territory, and enlarged by that amount her husband's little state; but the property she brought might, in a few years, be taken by her daughters as portions and enrich other houses. The fief seldom could bear up against such dismemberment; it fell away piecemeal, and by the third or fourth generation had disappeared. Sometimes, however, it gained more than it lost in this matrimonial game, and extended its borders till they encroached on neighbouring nomes or else completely absorbed them. There were always in the course of each reign several great principalities formed, or in the process of formation, whose chiefs might be said to hold in their hands the destinies of the country. Pharaoh himself was obliged to treat them with deference, and he purchased their allegiance by renewed and ever-increasing concessions.

Their ambition was never satisfied; when they were loaded with favours, and did not venture to ask for more for themselves, they impudently demanded them for such of their children as they thought were poorly provided for. Their eldest son |knew not the high favours which came from the king. Other princes were his privy counsellers, his chosen friends, or foremost among his friends!| he had no share in all this. Pharaoh took good care not to reject a petition presented so humbly: he proceeded to lavish appointments, titles, and estates on the son in question; if necessity required it, he would even seek out a wife for him, who might give him, together with her hand, a property equal to that of his father. The majority of these great vassals secretly aspired to the crown: they frequently had reason to believe that they had some right to it, either through their mother or one of their ancestors. Had they combined against the reigning house, they could easily have gained the upper hand, but their mutual jealousies prevented this, and the overthrow of a dynasty to which they owed so much would, for the most part, have profited them but little: as soon as one of them revolted, the remainder took arms in Pharaoh's defence, led his armies and fought his battles. If at times their ambition and greed harassed their suzerain, at least their power was at his service, and their self-interested allegiance was often the means of delaying the downfall of his house.

Two things were specially needful both for them and for Pharaoh in order to maintain or increase their authority -- the protection of the gods, and a military organization which enabled them to mobilize the whole of their forces at the first signal. The celestial world was the faithful image of our own; it had its empires and its feudal organization, the arrangement of which corresponded to that of the terrestrial world. The gods who inhabited it were dependent upon the gifts of mortals, and the resources of each individual deity, and consequently his power, depended on the wealth and number of his worshippers; anything influencing one had an immediate effect on the other. The gods dispensed happiness, health, and vigour;* to those who made them large offerings and instituted pious foundations, they lent their own weapons, and inspired them with needful strength to overcome their enemies. They even came down to assist in battle, and every great encounter of armies involved an invisible struggle among the immortals. The gods of the side which was victorious shared with it in the triumph, and received a tithe of the spoil as the price of their help; the gods of the vanquished were so much the poorer, their priests and their statues were reduced to slavery, and the destruction of their people entailed their own downfall.

* I may here remind my readers of the numberless bas-reliefs and stelae on which the king is represented as making an offering to a god, who replies in some such formula as the following: |I give thee health and strength;| or, |I give thee joy and life for millions of years.|

It was, therefore, to the special interest of every one in Egypt, from the Pharaoh to the humblest of his vassals, to maintain the good will and power of the gods, so that their protection might be effectively ensured in the hour of danger. Pains were taken to embellish their temples with obelisks, colossi, altars, and bas-reliefs; new buildings were added to the old; the parts threatened with ruin were restored or entirely rebuilt; daily gifts were brought of every kind -- animals which were sacrificed on the spot, bread, flowers, fruit, drinks, as well as perfumes, stuffs, vases, jewels, bricks or bars of gold, silver, lapis-lazuli, which were all heaped up in the treasury within the recesses of the crypts.* If a dignitary of high rank wished to perpetuate the remembrance of his honours or his services, and at the same time to procure for his double the benefit of endless prayers and sacrifices, he placed |by special permission|** a statue of himself on a votive stele in the part of the temple reserved for this purpose, -- in a courtyard, chamber, encircling passage, as at Karnak,*** or on the staircase of Osiris as in that leading up to the terrace in the sanctuary of Abydos; he then sealed a formal agreement with the priests, by which the latter engaged to perform a service in his name, in front of this commemorative monument, a stated number of times in the year, on the days fixed by universal observance or by local custom.

* See the |Poem of Pentauirit| for the grounds on which Ramses II. bases his imperative appeal to Araon for help: |Have I not made thee numerous offerings? I have filled thy temple with my prisoners. I have built thee an everlasting temple, and have not spared my wealth in endowing it for thee; I lay the whole world under contribution in order to stock thy domain.... I have built thee whole pylons in stone, and have myself reared the flagstaffs which adorn them; I have brought thee obelisks from Elephantine.|

** The majority of the votive statues were lodged in a temple |by special favour of a king | -- em HOSItu nti KUIr suton -- as a recompense for services rendered. Some only of the stelae bear an inscription to the above effect, no authorization from the king was required for the
consecration of a stele in a temple.

*** It was in the encircling passage of the limestone temple built by the kings of the XIIth dynasty, and now completely destroyed, that all the Karnak votive statues were
discovered. Some of them still rest on the stone ledge on which they were placed by the priests of the god at the moment of consecration.

For this purpose he assigned to them annuities in kind, charges on his patrimonial estates, or in some cases, if he were a great lord, on the revenues of his fief, -- such as a fixed quantity of loaves and drinks for each of the celebrants, a fourth part of the sacrificial victim, a garment, frequently also lands with their cattle, serfs, existing buildings, farming implements and produce, along with the conditions of service with which the lands were burdened. These gifts to the god -- |notir hotpuu| -- were, it appears, effected by agreements analogous to those dealing with property in mortmain in modern Egypt; in each nome they constituted, in addition to the original temporalities of the temple, a considerable domain, constantly enlarged by fresh endowments. The gods had no daughters for whom to provide, nor sons among whom to divide their inheritance; all that fell to them remained theirs for ever, and in the contracts were inserted imprecations threatening with terrible ills, in this world and the next, those who should abstract the smallest portion from them. Such menaces did not always prevent the king or the lords from laying hands on the temple revenues: had this not been the case, Egypt would soon have become a sacerdotal country from one end to the other. Even when reduced by periodic usurpations, the domain of the gods formed, at all periods, about one-third of the whole country.*

* The tradition handed down by Diodorus tells us that the goddess Isis assigned a third of the country to the priests; the whole of Egypt is said to have been divided into three equal parts, the first of which belonged to the priests, the second to the kings, and the third to the warrior class. When we read, in the great Harris Papyrus, the list of the property possessed by the temple of the Theban Amon alone, all over Egypt, under Ramses III., we can readily believe that the tradition of the Greek epoch in no way exaggerated matters.

Its administration was not vested in a single body of Priests, representing the whole of Egypt and recruited or ruled everywhere in the same fashion. There were as many bodies of priests as there were temples, and every temple preserved its independent constitution with which the clergy of the neighbouring temples had nothing to do: the only master they acknowledged was the lord of the territory on which the temple was built, either Pharaoh or one of his nobles. The tradition which made Pharaoh the head of the different worships in Egypt* prevailed everywhere, but Pharaoh soared too far above this world to confine himself to the functions of any one particular order of priests: he officiated before all the gods without being specially the minister of any, and only exerted his supremacy in order to make appointments to important sacerdotal posts in his domain.**

* The only exception to this rule was in the case of the Theban kings of the XXIst dynasty, and even here the exception is more apparent than real. As a matter of fact, these kings, Hrihor and Pinozmu, began by being high priests of Amon before ascending the throne; they were pontiffs who became Pharaohs, not Pharaohs who created themselves pontiffs. Possibly we ought to place Smonkhari of the XIVth dynasty in the same category, if, as Brugsch assures us, his name, Mir-mashau, is identical with the title of the high priest of Osiris at Mendes, thus proving that he was pontiff of Osiris in that town before he became king.

** Among other instances, we have that of the king of the XXIst Tanite dynasty, who appointed Mankhopirri, high priest of the Theban Amon, and that of the last king of the same dynasty, Psusennes IL, who conferred the same office on prince Auputi, son of Sheshonqu. The king's right of nomination harmonized very well with the hereditary transmission of the priestly office through members of the same family, as we shall have occasion to show later on.

He reserved the high priesthood of the Memphite Phtah and that of Ra of Heliopolis either for the princes of his own family or more often for his most faithful servants; they were the docile instruments of his will, through whom he exerted the influence of the gods, and disposed of their property without having the trouble of administrating it. The feudal lords, less removed from mortal affairs than the Pharaoh, did not disdain to combine the priesthood of the temples dependent on them with the general supervision of the different worships practised on their lands. The princes of the Gazelle nome, for instance, bore the title of |Directors of the Prophets of all the Gods,| but were, correctly speaking, prophets of Horus, of Khnumu master of Haoirit, and of Pakhit mistress of the Speos-Artemidos. The religious suzerainty of such princes was the complement of their civil and military power, and their ordinary income was augmented by some portion at least of the revenues which the lands in mortmain furnished annually. The subordinate sacerdotal functions were filled by professional priests whose status varied according to the gods they served and the provinces in which they were located. Although between the mere priest and the chief prophet there were a number of grades to which the majority never attained, still the temples attracted many people from divers sources, who, once established in this calling of life, not only never left it, but never rested until they had introduced into it the members of their families. The offices they filled were not necessarily hereditary, but the children, born and bred in the shelter of the sanctuary, almost always succeeded to the positions of their fathers, and certain families thus continuing in the same occupation for generations, at last came to be established as a sort of sacerdotal nobility.*

* We possess the coffins of the priests of the Theban Montu for nearly thirty generations, viz. from the XXVth dynasty to the time of the Ptolemies. The inscriptions give us their genealogies, as well as their intermarriages, and show us that they belonged almost exclusively to two or three important families who intermarried with one another or took their wives from the families of the priests of Amon.

The sacrifices supplied them with daily meat and drink; the temple buildings provided them with their lodging, and its revenues furnished them with a salary proportionate to their position. They were exempted from the ordinary taxes, from military service, and from forced labour; it is not surprising, therefore, that those who were not actually members of the priestly families strove to have at least a share in their advantages. The servitors, the workmen and the employes who congregated about them and constituted the temple corporation, the scribes attached to the administration of the domains, and to the receipt of offerings, shared de facto if not de jure in the immunity of the priesthood; as a body they formed a separate religious society, side by side, but distinct from, the civil population, and freed from most of the burdens which weighed so heavily on the latter.

The soldiers were far from possessing the wealth and influence of the clergy. Military service in Egypt was not universally compulsory, but rather the profession and privilege of a special class of whose origin but little is known. Perhaps originally it comprised only the descendants of the conquering race, but in historic times it was not exclusively confined to the latter, and recruits were raised everywhere among the fellahs,* the Bedouin of the neighbourhood, the negroes,** the Nubians,*** and even from among the prisoners of war, or adventurers from beyond the sea.****

* This is shown, inter alia, by the real or supposititious letters in which the master-scribe endeavours to deter his pupil from adopting a military career, recommending that of a scribe in preference.

** Uni, under Papi I., recruited his army from among the inhabitants of the whole of Egypt, from Elephantine to Letopolis at the mouth of the Delta, and as far as the Mediterranean, from among the Bedouin of Libya and of the Isthmus, and even from the six negro races of Nubia (Inscription d'Ouni, 11.14-19).

*** The Nubian tribe of the Mazaiu, afterwards known as the Libyan tribe of the Mashauasha, furnished troops to the Egyptian kings and princes for centuries; indeed, the Mazaiu formed such an integral part of the Egyptian armies that their name came to be used in Coptic as a synonym for soldier, under the form |matoi.|

**** Later on we shall come across the Shardana of the Royal Guard under Ramses II. (E. de Rouge, Extrait d'un memoire sur les attaques, p.5); later still, the Ionians, Carians, and Greek mercenaries will be found to play a decisive part in the history of the Saite dynasties.

This motley collection of foreign mercenaries composed ordinarily the body-guard of the king or of his barons, the permanent nucleus round which in times of war the levies of native recruits were rallied. Every Egyptian soldier received from the chief to whom he was attached, a holding of land for the maintenance of himself and his family. In the fifth century B.C. twelve arurae of arable land was estimated as ample pay for each man,* and tradition attributes to the fabulous Sesostris the law which fixed the pay at this rate. The soldiers were not taxed, and were exempt from forced labour during the time that they were away from home on active service; with this exception they were liable to the same charges as the rest of the population. Many among them possessed no other income, and lived the precarious life of the fellah, -- tilling, reaping, drawing water, and pasturing their cattle, -- in the interval between two musters. Others possessed of private fortunes let their holdings out at a moderate rental, which formed an addition to their patrimonial income.**

* Herodotus, ii.168. The arura being equal to 27.82 ares [an are = 100 square metres], the military fief contained 27*82 x 12 = 333.84 ares. [The |arura,| according to F. L. Griffith, was a square of 100 Egyptian cubits, making about 3/5 of an acre, or 2600 square metres. -- Trs.] The chifliks created by Mohammed-Ali, with a view to bringing the abandoned districts into cultivation, allotted to each labourer who offered to reclaim it, a plot of land varying from one to three feddans, i.e. from 4200.83 square metres to 12602.49 square metres, according to the nature of the soil and the necessities of each family. The military fiefs of ancient Egypt were, therefore, nearly three times as great in extent as these abadiyehs, which were considered, in modern Egypt, sufficient to supply the wants of a whole family of peasants; they must, therefore, have secured not merely a bare subsistence, but ample provision for their proprietors.

** Diodorus Siculus says in so many words (i.74) that |the farmers spent their life in cultivating lands which had been let to them at a moderate rent by the king, by the priests, and by the warriors.|

Lest they should forget the conditions upon which they possessed this military holding, and should regard themselves as absolute masters of it, they were seldom left long in possession of the same place: Herodotus asserts that their allotments were taken away-yearly and replaced by others of equal extent. It is difficult to say if this law of perpetual change was always in force; at any rate, it did not prevent the soldiers from forming themselves in time into a kind of aristocracy, which even kings and barons of highest rank could not ignore. They were enrolled in special registers, with the indication of the holding which was temporarily assigned to them. A military scribe kept this register in every royal nome or principality.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a scene in the tomb of Amoni- Amenemhait at Beni-Hasan.

He superintended the redistribution of the lands, the registration of privileges, and in addition to his administrative functions, he had in time of war the command of the troops furnished by his own district; in which case he was assisted by a |lieutenant,| who as opportunity offered acted as his substitute in the office or on the battle-field. Military service was not hereditary, but its advantages, however trifling they may appear to us, seemed in the eyes of the fellahs so great, that for the most part those who were engaged in it had their children also enrolled. While still young the latter were taken to the barracks, where they were taught not only the use of the bow, the battle-axe, the mace, the lance, and the shield, but were all instructed in such exercises as rendered the body supple, and prepared them for manoeuvring, regimental marching, running, jumping, and wrestling either with closed or open hand. They prepared themselves for battle by a regular war-dance, pirouetting, leaping, and brandishing their bows and quivers in the air. Their training being finished, they were incorporated into local companies, and invested with their privileges. When they were required for service, part or the whole of the class was mustered; arms kept in the arsenal were distributed among them, and they were conveyed in boats to the scene of action. The Egyptians were not martial by temperament; they became soldiers rather from interest than inclination.

The power of Pharaoh and his barons rested entirely upon these two classes, the priests and the soldiers; the remainder, the commonalty and the peasantry, were, in their hands, merely an inert mass, to be taxed and subjected to forced labour at will. The slaves were probably regarded as of little importance; the bulk of the people consisted of free families who were at liberty to dispose of themselves and their goods. Every fellah and townsman in the service of the king, or of one of his great nobles, could leave his work and his village when he pleased, could pass from the domain in which he was born into a different one, and could traverse the country from one end to the other, as the Egyptians of to-day still do.

His absence entailed neither loss of goods, nor persecution of the relatives he left behind, and he himself had punishment to fear only when he left the Nile Valley without permission, to reside for some time in a foreign land.* But although this independence and liberty were in accordance with the laws and customs of the land, yet they gave rise to inconveniences from which it was difficult to escape in practical life. Every Egyptian, the King excepted, was obliged, in order to get on in life, to depend on one more powerful than himself, whom he called his master. The feudal lord was proud to recognize Pharaoh as his master, and he himself was master of the soldiers and priests in his own petty state.

* The treaty between Ramses and the Prince of Khiti contains a formal extradition clause in reference to Egyptians or Hittites, who had quitted their native country, of course without the permission of their sovereign. The two
contracting parties expressly stipulate that persons extradited on one side or the other shall not be punished for having emigrated, that their property is not to be confiscated, nor are their families to be held responsible for their flight. From this clause it follows that in ordinary times unauthorized emigration brought upon the culprit corporal punishment and the confiscation of his goods, as well as various penalties on his family. The way in which Sinuhit makes excuses for his flight, the fact of his asking pardon before returning to Egypt, the very terms of the letter in which the king recalls him and assures him of impunity, show us that the laws against emigration were in full force under the XIIth dynasty.

** The expressions which bear witness to this fact are very numerous: Miri nibuf = |He who loves his master;| Aqu haiti ni nibuf = |He who enters into the heart of his master,| etc. They recur so frequently in the texts in the case of persons of all ranks, that it was thought no importance ought to be attached to them. But the constant repetition of the word NIB, |master,| shows that we must alter this view, and give these phrases their full meaning.

From the top to the bottom of the social scale every free man acknowledged a master, who secured to him justice and protection in exchange for his obedience and fealty. The moment an Egyptian tried to withdraw himself from this subjection, the peace of his life was at an end; he became a man without a master, and therefore without a recognized protector.*

* The expression, |a man without a master,| occurs several times in the Berlin Papyrus, No. ii. For instance, the peasant who is the hero of the story, says of the lord Miruitensi, that he is |the rudder of heaven, the guide of the earth, the balance which carries the offerings, the buttress of tottering walls, the support of that which falls, the great master who takes whoever is without a master to lavish on him the goods of his house, a jug of beer and three loaves| each day.

Any one might stop him on the way, steal his cattle, merchandise, or property on the most trivial pretext, and if he attempted to protest, might beat him with almost certain impunity.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the tomb of Khiti at Beni- Hasan. These are soldiers of the nome of Gazelle.

The only resource of the victim was to sit at the gate of the palace, waiting to appeal for justice till the lord or the king should appear. If by chance, after many rebuffs, his humble petition were granted, it was only the beginning of fresh troubles. Even if the justice of the cause were indisputable, the fact that he was a man without home or master inspired his judges with an obstinate mistrust, and delayed the satisfaction of his claims. In vain he followed his judges with his complaints and flatteries, chanting their virtues in every key: |Thou art the father of the unfortunate, the husband of the widow, the brother of the orphan, the clothing of the motherless: enable me to proclaim thy name as a law throughout the land. Good lord, guide without caprice, great without littleness, thou who destroyest falsehood and causest truth to be, come at the words of my mouth; I speak, listen and do justice. O generous one, generous of the generous, destroy the cause of my trouble; here I am, uplift me; judge me, for behold me a suppliant before thee.| If he were an eloquent speaker and the judge were inclined to listen, he was willingly heard, but his cause made no progress, and delays, counted on by his adversary, effected his ruin. The religious law, no doubt, prescribed equitable treatment for all devotees of Osiris, and condemned the slightest departure from justice as one of the gravest sins, even in the case of a great noble, or in that of the king himself; but how could impartiality be shown when the one was the recognized protector, the |master| of the culprit, while the plaintiff was a vagabond, attached to no one, |a man without a master|!

The population of the towns included many privileged persons other than the soldiers, priests, or those engaged in the service of the temples. Those employed in royal or feudal administration, from the |superintendent of the storehouse| to the humblest scribe, though perhaps not entirely exempt from forced labour, had but a small part of it to bear.* These employes constituted a middle class of several grades, and enjoyed a fixed income and regular employment: they were fairly well educated, very self-satisfied, and always ready to declare loudly their superiority over any who were obliged to gain their living by manual labour. Each class of workmen recognized one or more chiefs, -- the shoemakers, their master-shoemakers, the masons, their master-masons, the blacksmiths, their master-blacksmiths, -- who looked after their interests and represented them before the local authorities.**

* This is a fair inference from the indirect testimony of the Letters: the writer, in enumerating the liabilities of the various professions, implies by contrast that the scribe (i.e. the employe in general) is not subject to them, or is subject to a less onerous share of them than others. The beginning and end of the instructions of Khiti would in themselves be sufficient to show us the advantages which the middle classes under the XIIth dynasty believed they could derive from adopting the profession of scribe.

** The stelae of Abydos are very useful to those who desire to study the populations of a small town. They give us the names of the head-men of trades of all kinds; the head-mason Didiu, the master-mason Aa, the master-shoemaker Kahikhonti, the head-smiths Usirtasen-Uati, Hotpu, Hot-purekhsu.

It was said among the Greeks, that even robbers were united in a corporation like the others, and maintained an accredited superior as their representative with the police, to discuss the somewhat delicate questions which the practice of their trade gave occasion to. When the members of the association had stolen any object of value, it was to this superior that the person robbed resorted, in order to regain possession of it: it was he who fixed the amount required for its redemption, and returned it without fail, upon the payment of this sum. Most of the workmen who formed a state corporation, lodged, or at least all of them had their stalls, in the same quarter or street, under the direction of their chief. Besides the poll and the house tax, they were subject to a special toll, a trade licence which they paid in products of their commerce or industry.*

* The registers (for the most part unpublished), which are contained in European museums show us that fishermen paid in fish, gardeners in flowers and vegetables, etc., the taxes or tribute which they owed to their lords. In the great inscription of Abydos the weavers attached to the temple of Seti I. are stated to have paid their tribute in stuffs.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rosellini, Monumenti Civili, pl.2 a.

Their lot was a hard one, if we are to believe the description which ancient writers have handed down to us: |I have never seen a blacksmith on an embassy -- nor a smelter sent on a mission -- but what I have seen is the metal worker at his toil, -- at the mouth of the furnace of his forge, -- his fingers as rugged as the crocodile, -- and stinking more than fish-spawn. -- The artisan of any kind who handles the chisel, -- does not employ so much movement as he who handles the hoe;*

* The literal translation would be, |The artisan of all kinds who handles the chisel is more motionless than he who handles the hoe.| Both here, and in several other passages of this little satiric poem, I have been obliged to paraphrase the text in order to render it intelligible to the modern reader.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rosellini, Monumenti civili, pl. xlviii.2.

-- but for him his fields are the timber, his business is the metal, -- and at night when the other is free, -- he, he works with his hands over and above what he has already done, -- for at night, he works at home by the lamp. -- The stone-cutter who seeks his living by working in all kinds of durable stone, -- when at last he has earned something -- and his two arms are worn out, he stops; -- but if at sunrise he remain sitting, -- his legs are tied to his back.* -- The barber who shaves until the evening, -- when he falls to and eats, it is without sitting down** -- while running from street to street to seek custom; -- if he is constant [at work] his two arms fill his belly -- as the bee eats in proportion to its toil. -- Shall I tell thee of the mason -- how he endures misery? -- Exposed to all the winds -- while he builds without any garment but a belt -- and while the bunch of lotus-flowers [which is fixed] on the [completed] houses -- is still far out of his reach,***

* This is an allusion to the cruel manner in which the Egyptians were accustomed to bind their prisoners, as it were in a bundle, with the legs bent backward along the back and attached to the arms. The working-day commenced then, as now, at sunrise, and lasted till sunset, with a short interval of one or two hours at midday for the workmen's dinner and siesta.

** Literally, |He places himself on his elbow.| The metaphor seems to me to be taken from the practice of the trade itself: the barber keeps his elbow raised when shaving and lowers it when he is eating.

*** This passage is conjecturally translated. I suppose the Egyptian masons had a custom analogous to that of our own, and attached a bunch of lotus to the highest part of a building they had just finished: nothing, however, has come to light to confirm this conjecture.

-- his two arms are worn out with work; his provisions are placed higgledy piggledy amongst his refuse, -- he consumes himself, for he has no other bread than his fingers -- and he becomes wearied all at once. -- He is much and dreadfully exhausted -- for there is [always] a block [to be dragged] in this or that building, -- a block of ten cubits by six, -- there is [always] a block [to be dragged] in this or that month [as far as the] scaffolding poles [to which is fixed] the bunch of lotus-flowers on the [completed] houses. -- When the work is quite finished, -- if he has bread, he returns home, -- and his children have been beaten unmercifully [during his absence]. -- The weaver within doors is worse off there than a woman; -- squatting, his knees against his chest, -- he does not breathe. -- If during the day he slackens weaving, -- he is bound fast as the lotuses of the lake; -- and it is by giving bread to the doorkeeper, that the latter permits him to see the light.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Champollion's Monuments de l'Eypte et de la Nubie. This Picture belongs to the XVIIIth dynasty; but the sandals in it are, however, quite like those to be seen on more ancient monuments.

The dyer, his fingers reeking -- and their smell is that of fish-spawn; -- his two eyes are oppressed with fatigue, -- his hand does not stop, -- and, as he spends his time in cutting out rags -- he has a hatred of garments. -- The shoemaker is very unfortunate; -- he moans ceaselessly, -- his health is the health of the spawning fish, -- and he gnaws the leather. -- The baker makes dough, -- subjects the loaves to the fire; -- while his head is inside the oven, -- his son holds him by the legs; -- if he slips from the hands of his son, -- he falls there into the flames.| These are the miseries inherent to the trades themselves: the levying of the tax added to the catalogue a long sequel of vexations and annoyances, which were renewed several times in the year at regular intervals.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the painted picture in one of the small antechambers of the tomb of Ramses III., at Bab- el-Moluk.

Even at the present day, the fellah does not pay his contributions except under protest and by compulsion, but the determination not to meet obligations except beneath the stick, was proverbial from ancient times: whoever paid his dues before he had received a merciless beating would be overwhelmed with reproaches by his family, and jeered at without pity by his neighbours. The time when the tax fell due, came upon the nomes as a terrible crisis which affected the whole population. For several days there was nothing to be heard but protestations, threats, beating, cries of pain from the tax-payers, and piercing lamentations from women and children. The performance over, calm was re-established, and the good people, binding up their wounds, resumed their round of daily life until the next tax-gathering.

The towns of this period presented nearly the same confined and mysterious appearance as those of the present day.*

* I have had occasion to make |soundings| or excavations at various points in very ancient towns and villages, at Thebes, Abydos and Mataniyeh, and I give here a resume of my observations. Professor Petrie has brought to light and regularly explored several cities of the XIIth and XVIIIth dynasties, situated at the entrance to the Fayum. I have borrowed many points in my description from the various works which he has published on the subject, Kahun, Gurob and Hawara, 1890; and Illahun, Kahun and Gurob, 1891.

[Illustration: 103.jpg THE HOUSE OF A GREAT EGYPTIAN LORD]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a water-colour by Boussac, Le Tombeau d'Anna in the Memoires de la Mission Francaise. The house was situated at Thebes, and belonged to the XVIIIth dynasty. The remains of the houses brought to light by Mariette at Abydos belong to the same type, and date back to the XIIth dynasty. By means of these, Mariette was enabled to reconstruct an ancient Egyptian house at the Paris Exhibition of 1877. The picture of the tomb of Anna reproduces in most respects, we may therefore assume, the appearance of a nobleman's dwelling at all periods. At the side of the main building we see two corn granaries with conical roofs, and a great storehouse for provisions.

They were grouped around one or more temples, each of which was surrounded by its own brick enclosing wall, with its enormous gateways: the gods dwelt there in real castles, or, if this word appears too ambitious, redouts, in which the population could take refuge in cases of sudden attack, and where they could be in safety.


From a plan made and published by Professor Flinders Petrie, Illahun, Kahun and Gurob, pl. xiv.

The towns, which had all been built at one period by some king or prince, were on a tolerably regular ground plan; the streets were paved and fairly wide; they crossed each other at right angles, and were bordered with buildings on the same line of frontage. The cities of ancient origin, which had increased with the chance growth of centuries, presented a totally different aspect.


Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. The monument is the stele of Situ (IVth dynasty), in the Gizeh Museum.

A network of lanes and blind alleys, narrow, dark, damp, and badly built, spread itself out between the houses, apparently at random: here and there was an arm of a canal, all but dried up, or a muddy pool where the cattle came to drink, and from which the women fetched the water for their households; then followed an open space of irregular shape, shaded by acacias or sycamores, where the country-folk of the suburbs held their market on certain days, twice or thrice a month; then came waste ground covered with filth and refuse, over which the dogs of the neighbourhood fought with hawks and vultures. The residence of the prince or royal governor, and the houses of rich private persons, covered a considerable area, and generally presented to the street a long extent of bare walls, crenellated like those of a fortress: the only ornament admitted on them consisted of angular grooves, each surmounted by two open lotus flowers having their stems intertwined.


Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph, taken in 1884, by Emil Brugsch-Bey.

Within these walls domestic life was entirely secluded, and as it were confined to its own resources; the pleasure of watching passers-by was sacrificed to the advantage of not being seen from outside. The entrance alone denoted at times the importance of the great man who concealed himself within the enclosure. Two or three steps led up to the door, which sometimes had a columned portico, ornamented with statues, lending an air of importance to the building. The houses of the citizens were small, and built of brick; they contained, however, some half-dozen rooms, either vaulted, or having flat roofs, and communicating with each other usually by arched doorways.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Professor Petrie, Elahun, Kahun and Gurob, pl. xvi.3.

A few houses boasted of two or three stories; all possessed a terrace, on which the Egyptians of old, like those of to-day, passed most of their time, attending to household cares or gossiping with their neighbours over the party wall or across the street. The hearth was hollowed out in the ground, usually against a wall, and the smoke escaped through a hole in the ceiling: they made their fires of sticks, wood charcoal, and the dung of oxen and asses. In the houses of the rich we meet with state apartments, lighted in the centre by a square opening, and supported by rows of wooden columns; the shafts, which were octagonal, measured ten inches in diameter, and were fixed into flat circular stone bases.

[Illustration: 108a.jpg WOODEN HEAD-REST]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a head-rest in my possession obtained at Gebelen (XIth dynasty): the foot of the head- rest is usually solid, and cut out of a single piece of wood.

[Illustration: 108b.jpg PIGEON ON WHEELS]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Petrie, Hawara, Biahmu, and Arsinoe, pl. xiii.21. The original, of rough wood, is now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

The family crowded themselves together into two or three rooms in winter, and slept on the roof in the open air in summer, in spite of risk from affections of the stomach and eyes; the remainder of the dwelling was used for stables or warehouses. The store-chambers were often built in pairs; they were of brick, carefully limewashed internally, and usually assumed the form of an elongated cone, in imitation of the Government storehouses. For the valuables which constituted the wealth of each household -- wedges of gold or silver, precious stones, ornaments for men or women -- there were places of concealment, in which the possessors attempted to hide them from robbers or from the tax-collectors. But the latter, accustomed to the craft of the citizens, evinced a peculiar aptitude for ferreting out the hoard: they tapped the walls, lifted and pierced the roofs, dug down into the soil below the foundations, and often brought to light, not only the treasure of the owner, but all the surroundings of the grave and human corruption. It was actually the custom, among the lower and middle classes, to bury in the middle of the house children who had died at the breast. The little body was placed in an old tool or linen box, without any attempt at embalming, and its favourite playthings and amulets were buried with it: two or three infants are often found occupying the same coffin. The playthings were of an artless but very varied character; dolls of limestone, enamelled pottery or wood, with movable arms and wigs of artificial hair; pigs, crocodiles, ducks, and pigeons on wheels, pottery boats, miniature sets of household furniture, skin balls filled with hay, marbles, and stone bowls. However, strange it may appear, we have to fancy the small boys of ancient Egypt as playing at bowls like ours, or impudently whipping their tops along the streets without respect for the legs of the passers-by.

[Illustration: 109.jpg APPARATUS FOR STRIKING A LIGHT]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch published in Fl. Petrie, Illahun, Kdhun and Gurob, pl. vii. The bow is represented in the centre; on the left, at the top, is the nut; below it the fire-stick, which was attached to the end of the stock; at the bottom and right, two pieces of wood with round carbonized holes, which took fire from the friction of the rapidly rotating stick.

Some care was employed upon the decoration of the chambers. The rough-casting of mud often preserves its original grey colour; sometimes, however, it was limewashed, and coloured red or yellow, or decorated with pictures of jars, provisions, and the interiors as well as the exteriors of houses.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the facsimile in Petrie's Illahun, Kahun and Gurob, pl. xvi.6.

The bed was not on legs, but consisted of a low framework, like the |angarebs| of the modern Nubians, or of mats which were folded up in the daytime, but upon which they lay in their clothes during the night, the head being supported by a head-rest of pottery, limestone, or wood: the remaining articles of furniture consisted of one or two roughly hewn seats of stone, a few lion-legged chairs or stools, boxes and trunks of varying sizes for linen and implements, kohl, or perfume, pots of ababaster or porcelain, and lastly, the fire-stick with the bow by which it was set in motion, and some roughly made pots and pans of clay or bronze.

[Illustration: 111.jpg WOMAN GRINDING GRAIN]

Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Bechard (cf. Mariette, Alburn photographique du Musee de Boulaq, pl.20; Maspero, Guide du Visiteur, P- 220, Nos.1012, 1013).

Men rarely entered their houses except to eat and sleep; their employments or handicrafts were such as to require them for the most part to work out-of-doors. The middle-class families owned, almost always, one or two slaves -- either purchased or born in the house -- who did all the hard work: they looked after the cattle, watched over the children, acted as cooks, and fetched water from the nearest pool or well. Among the poor the drudgery of the household fell entirely upon the woman. She spun, wove, cut out and mended garments, fetched fresh water and provisions, cooked the dinner, and made the daily bread. She spread some handfuls of grain upon an oblong slab of stone, slightly hollowed on its upper surface, and proceeded to crush them with a smaller stone like a painter's muller, which she moistened from time to time. For an hour and more she laboured with her arms, shoulders, loins, in fact, all her body; but an indifferent result followed from the great exertion. The flour, made to undergo several grindings in this rustic mortar, was coarse, uneven, mixed with bran, or whole grains, which had escaped the pestle, and contaminated with dust and abraded particles of the stone. She kneaded it with a little water, blended with it, as a sort of yeast, a piece of stale dough of the day before, and made from the mass round cakes, about half an inch thick and some four inches in diameter, which she placed upon a flat flint, covering them with hot ashes. The bread, imperfectly raised, often badly cooked, borrowed, from the organic fuel under which it was buried, a special odour, and a taste to which strangers did not readily accustom themselves. The impurities which it contained were sufficient in the long run to ruin the strongest teeth; eating it was an action of grinding rather than chewing, and old men were not unfrequently met with whose teeth had been gradually worn away to the level of the gums, like those of an aged ass or ox.*

* The description of the woman grinding grain and kneading dough is founded on statues in the Gizeh Museum. All the European museums possess numerous specimens of the bread in question, and the effect which it produces in the long run on the teeth of those who habitually used it as an article of diet, has been observed in mummies of the most important personages.

Movement and animation were not lacking at certain hours of the day, particularly during the morning, in the markets and in the neighbourhood of the temples and government buildings: there was but little traffic anywhere else; the streets were silent, and the town dull and sleepy. It woke up completely only three or four times a year, at seasons of solemn assemblies |of heaven and earth:| the houses were then opened and their inhabitants streamed forth, the lively crowd thronging the squares and crossways. To begin with, there was New Year's Day, quickly followed by the Festival of the Bead, the |Uagait.| On the night of the 17th of Thot, the priests kindled before the statues in the sanctuaries and sepulchral chapels, the fire for the use of the gods and doubles during the twelve ensuing months. Almost at the same moment the whole country was lit up from one end to the other: there was scarcely a family, however poor, who did not place in front of their door a new lamp in which burned an oil saturated with salt, and who did not spend the whole night in feasting and gossiping.*

* The night of the 17th Thot -- which, according to our computation, would be the night of the 16th to the 17th -- was, as may be seen from the Great Inscription of Siut, appointed for the ceremony of |lighting the fire| before the statues of the dead and of the gods. As at the |Feast of Lamps|

The festivals of the living gods attracted considerable crowds, who came not only from the nearest nomes, but also from great distances in caravans and in boats laden with merchandise, for religious sentiment did not exclude commercial interests, and the pilgrimage ended in a fair.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture on the tomb of Khnum- hotpu at Beni-Hasan. This is the loom which was
reconstructed in 1889 for the Paris Exhibition, and which is now to be seen in the galleries of the Trocadero.

For several days the people occupied mentioned by Herodotus, the religious ceremony was accompanied by a general illumination which lasted all the night; the object of this, probably, was to facilitate the visit which the souls of the dead were supposed to pay at this time to the family residence themselves solely in prayers, sacrifices, and processions, in which the faithful, clad in white, with palms in their hands, chanted hymns as they escorted the priests on their way. |The gods of heaven exclaim 'Ah! ah! 'in satisfaction, the inhabitants of the earth are full of gladness, the Hathors beat their tabors, the great ladies wave their mystic whips, all those who are gathered together in the town are drunk with wine and crowned with flowers; the tradespeople of the place walk joyously about, their heads scented with perfumed oils, all the children rejoice in honour of the goddess, from the rising to the setting of the sun.|*

* The people of Dendera crudely enough called this the |Feast of Drunkenness.| From what we know of the earlier epochs, we are justified in making this description a general one, and in applying it, as I have done here, to the festivals of other towns besides Dendera.

The nights were as noisy as the days: for a few hours, they made up energetically for long months of torpor and monotonous existence. The god having re-entered the temple and the pilgrims taken their departure, the regular routine was resumed and dragged on its tedious course, interrupted only by the weekly market. At an early hour on that day, the peasant folk came in from the surrounding country in an interminable stream, and installed themselves in some open space, reserved from time immemorial for their use. The sheep, geese, goats, and large-horned cattle were grouped in the centre, awaiting purchasers. Market-gardeners, fishermen, fowlers and gazelle-hunters, potters, and small tradesmen, squatted on the roadsides or against the houses, and offered their wares for the inspection of their customers, heaped up in reed baskets, or piled on low round tables: vegetables and fruits, loaves or cakes baked during the night, meat either raw or cooked in various ways, stuffs, perfumes, ornaments, -- all the necessities and luxuries of daily life. It was a good opportunity for the workpeople, as well as for the townsfolk, to lay in a store of provisions at a cheaper rate than from the ordinary shops; and they took advantage of it, each according to his means.

Business was mostly carried on by barter. The purchasers brought with them some product of their toil -- a new tool, a pair of shoes, a reed mat, pots of unguents or cordials; often, too, rows of cowries and a small box full of rings, each weighing a |tabnu,| made of copper, silver, or even gold, all destined to be bartered for such things as they needed. When it came to be a question of some large animal or of objects of considerable value, the discussions which arose were keen and stormy: it was necessary to be agreed not only as to the amount, but as to the nature of the payment to be made, and to draw up a sort of invoice, or in fact an inventory, in which beds, sticks, honey, oil, pick-axes, and garments, all figure as equivalents for a bull or a she-ass. Smaller retail bargains did not demand so many or such complicated calculations. Two townsfolk stop for a moment in front of a fellah who offers onions and corn in a basket for sale. The first appears to possess no other circulating medium than two necklaces made of glass beads or many-coloured enamelled terra-cotta; the other flourishes about a circular fan with a wooden handle, and one of those triangular contrivances used by cooks for blowing up the fire. |Here is a fine necklace which will suit you,| cries the former, |it is just what you are wanting;| while the other breaks in with: |Here is a fan and a ventilator.| The fellah, however, does not let himself be disconcerted by this double attack, and proceeding methodically, he takes one of the necklaces to examine it at his leisure: |Give it to me to look at, that I may fix the price.| The one asks too much, the other offers too little; after many concessions, they at last come to an agreement, and settle on the number of onions or the quantity of grain which corresponds exactly with the value of the necklace or the fan. A little further on, a customer wishes to get some perfumes in exchange for a pair of sandals, and conscientiously praises his wares: |Here,| says he, |is a strong pair of shoes.| But the merchant has no wish to be shod just then, and demands a row of cowries for his little pots: |You have merely to take a few drops of this to see how delicious it is,| he urges in a persuasive tone. A seated customer has two jars thrust under his nose by a woman -- they probably contain some kind of unguent: |Here is something which smells good enough to tempt you.| Behind this group two men are discussing the relative merits of a bracelet and a bundle of fish-hooks; a woman, with a small box in her hand, is having an argument with a merchant selling necklaces; another woman seeks to obtain a reduction in the price of a fish which is being scraped in front of her. Exchanging commodities for metal necessitated two or three operations not required in ordinary barter. The rings or thin bent strips of metal which formed the |tabnu| and its multiples,* did not always contain the regulation amount of gold or silver, and were often of light weight.

* The rings of gold in the Museum at Leyden, which were used as a basis of exchange, are made on the Chaldaeo-Babylonian pattern, and belong to the Asiatic system.

[Illustration: 118.jpg one of the forms of egyptian scales]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after a sketch by Rosellini

They had to be weighed at every fresh transaction in order to estimate their true value, and the interested parties never missed this excellent opportunity for a heated discussion: after having declared for a quarter of an hour that the scales were out of order, that the weighing had been carelessly performed, and that it should be done over again, they at last came to terms, exhausted with wrangling, and then went their way fairly satisfied with one another.* It sometimes happened that a clever and unscrupulous dealer would alloy the rings, and mix with the precious metal as much of a baser sort as would be possible without danger of detection. The honest merchant who thought he was receiving in payment for some article, say eight tabnu of fine gold, and who had handed to him eight tabnu of some alloy resembling gold, but containing one-third of silver, lost in a single transaction, without suspecting it, almost one-third of his goods. The fear of such counterfeits was instrumental in restraining the use of tabnu for a long time among the people, and restricted the buying and selling in the markets to exchange in natural products or manufactured objects.

* The weighing of rings is often represented on the monuments from the XVIIIth dynasty onwards. I am not acquainted with any instance of this on the bas-reliefs of the Ancient Empire. The giving of false weight is alluded to in the paragraph in the |Negative Confession,| in which the dead man declares that he has not interfered with the beam of the scales (cf. vol. i. p.271) civili, pl. lii.1. As to the construction of the Egyptian scales, and the working of their various parts, see Flinders Petrie's remarks in A Season in Egypt, P- 42, and the drawings which he has brought together on pl. xx. of the same work.

[Illustration: 118b.jpg SCENES IN A BAZAAR]

We must, perhaps, agree with Fr. Lenormant, in his conclusion that the only kind of national metal of exchange in use in Egypt was a copper wire or plate bent thus [ -- ]. this being the sign invariably used in the hieroglyphics in writing the word tabnu.

The present rural population of Egypt scarcely ever live in isolated and scattered farms; they are almost all concentrated in hamlets and villages of considerable extent, divided into quarters often at some distance from each other. The same state of things existed in ancient times, and those who would realize what a village in the past was like, have only to visit any one of the modern market towns scattered at intervals along the valley of the Nile: -- half a dozen fairly built houses, inhabited by the principal people of the place; groups of brick or clay cottages thatched with durra stalks, so low that a man standing upright almost touches the roof with his head; courtyards filled with tall circular mud-built sheds, in which the corn and durra for the household is carefully stored, and wherever we turn, pigeons, ducks, geese, and animals all living higgledly-piggledly with the family. The majority of the peasantry were of the lower class, but they were not everywhere subjected to the same degree of servitude. The slaves, properly so called, came from other countries; they had been bought from foreign merchants, or they had been seized in a raid and had lost their liberty by the fortune of war.* Their master removed them from place to place, sold them, used them as he pleased, pursued them if they succeeded in escaping, and had the right of recapturing them as soon as he received information of their whereabouts. They worked for him under his overseer's orders, receiving no regular wages, and with no hope of recovering their liberty.**

* The first allusion to prisoners of war brought back to Egypt, is found in the biography of Uni. The method in which they were distributed among the officers and soldiers is indicated in several inscriptions of the New Empire, in that of Ahmosis Pannekhabit, in that of Ahmosis si-Abina, where one of the inscriptions contains a list of slaves, some of whom are foreigners, in that of Amenemhabi. We may form some idea of the number of slaves in Egypt from the fact that in thirty years Ramses III. presented 113,433 of them to the temples alone. The |Directors of the Royal Slaves,| at all periods, occupied an important position at the court of the Pharaohs.

** A scene reproduced by Lepsius shows us, about the time of the VIth dynasty, the harvest gathered by the |royal slaves| in concert with the tenants of the dead man. One of the petty princes defeated by the Ethiopian Pionkhi Miamun proclaims himself to be |one of the royal slaves who pay tribute in kind to the royal treasury.| Amten repeatedly mentions slaves of this kind, |sutiu.|

Many chose concubines from their own class, or intermarried with the natives and had families: at the end of two or three generations their descendants became assimilated with the indigenous race, and were neither more nor less than actual serfs attached to the soil, who were made over or exchanged with it.* The landed proprietors, lords, kings, or gods, accommodated this population either in the outbuildings belonging to their residences, or in villages built for the purpose, where everything belonged to them, both houses and people.

* This is the status of serfs, or miritiu, as shown in the texts of every period. They are mentioned along with the fields or cattle attached to a temple or belonging to a noble. Ramses II. granted to the temple of Abydos |an appanage in cultivated lands, in serfs (miritiu), in cattle.| The scribe Anna sees in his tomb |stalls of bulls, of oxen, of calves, of milch cows, as well as serfs, in the mortmain of Amon.| Ptolemy I. returned to the temple at Buto |the domains, the boroughs, the serfs, the tillage, the water supply, the cattle, the geese, the flocks, all the things| which Xerxes had taken away from Kabbisha. The expression passed into the language, as a word used to express the condition of a subject race: |I cause,| said Thutmosis III., |Egypt to be a sovereign (hirit) to whom all the earth is a slave| (miritu).


Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato, taken in 1886.

The condition of the free agricultural labourer was in many respects analogous to that of the modern fellah. Some of them possessed no other property than a mud cabin, just large enough for a man and his wife, and hired themselves out by the day or the year as farm servants. Others were emboldened to lease land from the lord or from a soldier in the neighbourhood. The most fortunate acquired some domain of which they were supposed to receive only the product, the freehold of the property remaining primarily in the hands of the Pharaoh, and secondarily in that of lay or religious feudatories who held it of the sovereign: they could, moreover, bequeath, give, or sell these lands and buy fresh ones without any opposition. They paid, besides the capitation tax, a ground rent proportionate to the extent of their property, and to the kind of land of which it consisted.*

* The capitation tax, the ground rent, and the house duty of the time of the Ptolemies, already existed under the rule of the native Pharaohs. Brugsch has shown that these taxes are mentioned in an inscription of the time of Ameuothes III.

It was not without reason that all the ancients attributed the invention of geometry to the Egyptians. The perpetual encroachments of the Nile and the displacements it occasioned, the facility with which it effaced the boundaries of the fields, and in one summer modified the whole face of a nome, had forced them from early times to measure with the greatest exactitude the ground to which they owed their sustenance. The territory belonging to each town and nome was subjected to repeated surveys made and co-ordinated by the Royal Administration, thus enabling Pharaoh to know the exact area of his estates. The unit of measurement was the arura; that is to say, a square of a hundred cubits, comprising in round numbers twenty-eight ares.* A considerable staff of scribes and surveyors was continually occupied in verifying the old measurements or in making fresh ones, and in recording in the State registers any changes which might have taken place.** Each estate had its boundaries marked out by a line of stelas which frequently bore the name of the tenant at the time, and the date when the landmarks were last fixed.***

* [One |are| equals 100 square metres. -- Tr.]

** We learn from the expressions employed in the great inscription of Beni-Hasan (11.13 -- 58, 131-148) that the cadastral survey had existed from the very earliest times; there are references in it to previous surveys. We find a surveying scene on the tomb of Zosirkerisonbu at Thebes, under the XVIIIth dynasty. Two persons are measuring a field of wheat by means of a cord; a third notes down the result of their work.

*** The great inscription of Beni-Hasan tells us of the stelae which bounded the principality of the Gazelle on the North and South, and of those in the plain which marked the northern boundary of the nome of the Jackal; we also possess three other stelo which were used by Amenothes IV. to indicate the extreme limits of his new city of Khutniaton. In addition to the above stele, we also know of two others belonging to the XIIth dynasty which marked the boundaries of a private estate, and which are reproduced, one on plate 106, the other in the text of Monuments divers, p.30; also the stele of Buhani under Thutmosis IV.

[Illustration: 125.jpg a boundary stele]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph given by Mariette, Monuments divers, pl.47 a. The stele marked the boundary of the estate given to a priest of the Theban Amon by Pharaoh Thutmosis IV. of the XVIIIth dynasty. The original is now in the Museum at Gizeh.

Once set up, the stele received a name which gave it, as it were, a living and independent personality. It sometimes recorded the nature of the soil, its situation, or some characteristic which made it remarkable -- the |Lake of the South,| the |Eastern Meadow,| the |Green Island,| the |Fisher's Pool,| the |Willow Plot,| the |Vineyard,| the |Vine Arbour,| the |Sycamore;| sometimes also it bore the name of the first master or the Pharaoh under whom it had been erected -- the |Nurse-Phtahhotpu,| the |Verdure-Kheops,| the |Meadow-Didifri,| the |Abundance-Sahuri,| |Khafri-Great-among-the Doubles.| Once given, the name clung to it for centuries, and neither sales, nor redistributions, nor revolutions, nor changes of dynasty, could cause it to be forgotten. The officers of the survey inscribed it in their books, together with the name of the proprietor, those of the owners of adjoining lands, and the area and nature of the ground. They noted down, to within a few cubits, the extent of the sand, marshland, pools, canals, groups of palms, gardens or orchards, vineyards and cornfields,* which it contained.

* See in the great inscription of Beni-Hasan the passage in which are enumerated at full length, in a legal document, the constituent parts of the principality of the Gazelle, |its watercourses, its fields, its trees, its sands, from the river to the mountain of the West| (11.46-53).

The cornland in its turn was divided into several classes, according to whether it was regularly inundated, or situated above the highest rise of the water, and consequently dependent on a more or less costly system of artificial irrigation. All this was so much information of which the scribes took advantage in regulating the assessment of the land-tax.

Everything tends to make us believe that this tax represented one-tenth of the gross produce, but the amount of the latter varied. It depended on the annual rise of the Nile, and it followed the course of it with almost mathematical exactitude: if there were too much or too little water, it was immediately lessened, and might even be reduced to nothing in extreme cases. The king in his capital and the great lords in their fiefs had set up nilo-meters, by means of which, in the critical weeks, the height of the rising or subsiding flood was taken daily. Messengers carried the news of it over the country: the people, kept regularly informed of what was happening, soon knew what kind of season to expect, and they could calculate to within very little what they would have to pay. In theory, the collecting of the tax was based on the actual amount of land covered by the water, and the produce of it was constantly varying. In practice it was regulated by taking the average of preceding years, and deducting from that a fixed sum, which was never departed from except in extraordinary circumstances.*

* We know that this was so, in so far as the Roman period is concerned, from a passage in the edict of Tiberius
Alexander. The practice was such a natural one, that I have no hesitation in tracing it back to the time of the Ancient Empire; repeatedly condemned as a piece of bad
administration, it reappeared continually. At Beni-Hasan, the nomarch Amoni boasts that, |when there had been abundant Niles, and the owners of wheat and barley crops had thriven, he had not increased the rate of the land-tax,| which seems to indicate that, so far as he was concerned, he had fixed the tax to pay his dues without difficulty.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture at Beni-Hasan. This picture and those which follow it represent a census in the principality of the Gazelle under the XIIth dynasty as well as the collection of a tax.

The year would have to be a very bad one before the authorities would lower the ordinary rate: the State in ancient times was not more willing to deduct anything from its revenue than the modern State would be.*

* The two decrees of Rosetta and of Canopus, however, mention reductions granted by the Ptolemies after an insufficient rise of the Nile.

The payment of taxes was exacted in wheat, durra, beans, and field produce, which were stored in the granaries of the nome. It would seem that the previous deduction of one-tenth of the gross amount of the harvest could not be a heavy burden, and that the wretched fellah ought to have been in a position on land at a permanent figure, based on the average of good and bad harvests.

It was not so, however, and the same writers who have given us such a lamentable picture of the condition of the workmen in the towns, have painted for us in even darker colours the miseries which overwhelmed the country people. |Dost thou not recall the picture of the farmer, when the tenth of his grain is levied? Worms have destroyed half of the wheat, and the hippopotami have eaten the rest; there are swarms of rats in the fields, the grasshoppers alight there, the cattle devour, the little birds pilfer, and if the farmer lose sight for an instant of what remains upon the ground, it is carried off by robbers;* the thongs, moreover, which bind the iron and the hoe are worn out, and the team has died at the plough. It is then that the scribe steps out of the boat at the landing-place to levy the tithe, and there come the keepers of the doors of the granary with cudgels and the negroes with ribs of palm-leaves, who come crying: 'Come now, corn!' There is none, and they throw the cultivator full length upon the ground; bound, dragged to the canal, they fling him in head first;** his wife is bound with him, his children are put into chains; the neighbours, in the mean time, leave him and fly to save their grain.|

* This last danger survives even to the present day. During part of the year the fellahin spend the night in their fields; if they did not see to it, their neighbours would not hesitate to come and cut their wheat before the harvest, or root up their vegetables while still immature.

** The same kind of torture is mentioned in the decree of Harmhabi, in which the lawless soldiery are represented as |running from house to house, dealing blows right and left with their sticks, ducking the fellahin head downwards in the water, and not leaving one of them with a whole skin.| This treatment was still resorted to in Egypt not long ago, in order to extract money from those taxpayers whom beatings had failed to bring to reason.

One might be tempted to declare that the picture is too dark a one to be true, did one not know from other sources of the brutal ways of filling the treasury which Egypt has retained even to the present day. In the same way as in the town, the stick facilitated the operations of the tax-collector in the country: it quickly opened the granaries of the rich, it revealed resources to the poor of which he had been ignorant, and it only failed in the case of those who had really nothing to give. Those who were insolvent were not let off even when they had been more than half killed: they and their families were sent to prison, and they had to work out in forced labour the amount which they had failed to pay in current merchandise.*

* This is evident from a passage in the Sallier Papyrus n deg. I, quoted above, in which we see the taxpayer in fetters, dragged out to clean the canals, his whole family, wife and children, accompanying him in bonds.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture on the tomb of Khiti at Beni-Hasan (cf. Champollion, Monuments de l'Egypte, pl. cccxc.4; Rosellini, Monumenti civili, pl. cxxiv. b).

The collection of the taxes was usually terminated by a rapid revision of the survey. The scribe once more recorded the dimensions and character of the domain lands in order to determine afresh the amount of the tax which should be imposed upon them. It often happened, indeed, that, owing to some freak of the Nile, a tract of ground which had been fertile enough the preceding year would be buried under a gravel bed, or transformed into a marsh. The owners who thus suffered were allowed an equivalent deduction; as for the farmers, no deductions of the burden were permitted in their case, but a tract equalling in value that of the part they had lost was granted to them out of the royal or seignorial domain, and their property was thus made up to its original worth.

[Illustration: 131.jpg LEVYING THE TAX: THE BASTINADO]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture on the tomb of Khiti at Beni-Hasan.

What the collection of the taxes had begun was almost always brought to a climax by the corvees. However numerous the royal and seignorial slaves might have been, they were insufficient for the cultivation of all the lands of the domains, and a part of Egypt must always have lain fallow, had not the number of workers been augmented by the addition of those who were in the position of freemen.

This excess of cultivable land was subdivided into portions of equal dimensions, which were distributed among the inhabitants of neighbouring villages by the officers of a |regent| nominated for that purpose. Those dispensed from agricultural service were -- the destitute, soldiers on service and their families, certain employes of the public works, and servitors of the temple;* all other country-folk without exception had to submit to it, and one or more portions were allotted to each, according to his capabilities.** Orders issued at fixed periods called them together, themselves, their servants and their beasts of burden, to dig, sow, keep watch in the fields while the harvest was proceeding, to cut and carry the crops, the whole work being done at their own expense and to the detriment of their own interests.***

* That the scribes, i.e. the employes of the royal or princely government, were exempt from enforced labour, is manifest from the contrast drawn by the letter-writers of the Sallier and Anastasi Papyri between themselves and the peasants, or persons belonging to other professions who were liable to it. The circular of Dorion defines the classes of soldiers who were either temporarily or permanently exempt under the Greek kings.

** Several fragments of the Turin papyri contain memoranda of enforced labour performed on behalf of the temples, and of lists of persons liable to be called on for such labour.

*** All these details are set forth in the Ptolemaic period, in the letter to Dorion which refers to a royal edict. As Signor Lumbroso has well remarked, the Ptolemies merely copied exactly the misdeeds of the old native governments. Indeed, we come across frequent allusions to the enforced labour of men and beasts in inscriptions of the Middle Empire at Beni-Hasan or at Siut; many of the pictures on the Memphite tombs show bands of such labourers at work in the fields of the great landowners or of the king.

[Illustration: 132.jpg COLLOSAL STATUE OF A KING]

As a sort of indemnity, a few allotments were left uncultivated for their benefit; to these they sent their flocks after the subsidence of the inundation, for the pasturage on them was so rich that the sheep were doubly productive in wool and offspring. This was a mere apology for a wage: the forced labour for the irrigation brought them no compensation. The dykes which separate the basins, and the network of canals for distributing the water and irrigating the land, demand continual attention: every year some need strengthening, others re-excavating or cleaning out. The men employed in this work pass whole days standing in the water, scraping up the mud with both hands in order to fill the baskets of platted leaves, which boys and girls lift on to their heads and carry to the top of the bank: the semi-liquid contents ooze through the basket, trickle over their faces and soon coat their bodies with a black shining mess, disgusting even to look at. Sheikhs preside over the work, and urge it on with abuse and blows. When the gangs of workmen had toiled all day, with only an interval of two hours about noon for a siesta and a meagre pittance of food, the poor wretches slept on the spot, in the open air, huddled one against another and but ill protected by their rags from the chilly nights. The task was so hard a one, that malefactors, bankrupts, and prisoners of war were condemned to it; it wore out so many hands that the free peasantry were scarcely ever exempt. Having returned to their homes, they were not called until the next year to any established or periodic corvee, but many an irregular one came and surprised them in the midst of their work, and forced them to abandon all else to attend to the affairs of king or lord. Was a new chamber to be added to some neighbouring temple, were materials wanted to strengthen or rebuild some piece of wall which had been undermined by the inundation, orders were issued to the engineers to go and fetch a stated quantity of limestone or sandstone, and the peasants were commanded to assemble at the nearest quarry to cut the blocks from it, and if needful to ship and convey them to their destination. Or perhaps the sovereign had caused a gigantic statue of himself to be carved, and a few hundred men were requisitioned to haul it to the place where he wished it to be set up. The undertaking ended in a gala, and doubtless in a distribution of food and drink: the unfortunate creatures who had been got together to execute the work could not always have felt fitly compensated for the precious time they had lost, by one day of drunkenness and rejoicing.


We may ask if all these corvees were equally legal? Even if some of them were illegal, the peasant on whom they fell could not have found the means to escape from them, nor could he have demanded legal reparation for the injury which they caused him. Justice, in Egypt and in the whole Oriental world, necessarily emanates from political authority, and is only one branch of the administration amongst others, in the hands of the lord and his representatives. Professional magistrates were unknown -- men brought up to the study of law, whose duty it was to ensure the observance of it, apart from any other calling -- but the same men who commanded armies, offered sacrifices, and assessed or received taxes, investigated the disputes of ordinary citizens, or settled the differences which arose between them and the representatives of the lords or of the Pharaoh. In every town and village, those who held by birth or favour the position of governor were ex-officio invested with the right of administering justice. For a certain number of days in the month, they sat at the gate of the town or of the building which served as their residence, and all those in the town or neighbourhood possessed of any title, position, or property, the superior priesthood of the temples, scribes who had advanced or grown old in office, those in command of the militia or the police, the heads of divisions or corporations, the |qonbitiu,| the |people of the angle,| might if they thought fit take their place beside them, and help them to decide ordinary lawsuits. The police were mostly recruited from foreigners and negroes, or Bedouin belonging to the Nubian tribe of the Mazaiu. The litigants appeared at the tribunal, and waited under the superintendence of the police until their turn came to speak: the majority of the questions were decided in a few minutes by a judgment by which there was no appeal; only the more serious cases necessitated a cross-examination and prolonged discussion. All else was carried on before this patriarchal jury as in our own courts of justice, except that the inevitable stick too often elucidated the truth and cut short discussions: the depositions of the witnesses, the speeches on both sides, the examination of the documents, could not proceed without the frequent taking of oaths |by the life of the king| or |by the favour of the gods,| in which the truth often suffered severely. Penalties were varied somewhat -- the bastinado, imprisonment, additional days of work for the corvee, and, for grave offences, forced labour in the Ethiopian mines, the loss of nose and ears, and finally, death by strangulation, by beheading,* by empalement, and at the stake.

* The only known instance of an execution by hanging is that of Pharaoh's chief baker, in Gen. xl.19, 22, xli.13; but in a tomb at Thebes we see two human victims executed by strangulation. The Egyptian hell contains men who have been decapitated, and the block on which the damned were beheaded is frequently mentioned in the texts.

Criminals of high rank obtained permission to carry out on themselves the sentence passed upon them, and thus avoided by suicide the shame of public execution. Before tribunals thus constituted, the fellah who came to appeal against the exactions of which he was the victim had little chance of obtaining a hearing: had not the scribe who had overtaxed him, or who had imposed a fresh corvee upon him, the right to appear among the Judges to whom he addressed himself? Nothing, indeed, prevented him from appealing from the latter to his feudal lord, and from him to Pharaoh, but such an appeal would be for him a mere delusion. When he had left his village and presented his petition, he had many delays to encounter before a solution could be arrived at; and if the adverse party were at all in favour at court, or could command any influence, the sovereign decision would confirm, even if it did not aggravate, the sentence of the previous judges. In the mean while the peasants' land remained uncultivated, his wife and children bewailed their wretchedness, and the last resources of the family were consumed in proceedings and delays: it would have been better for him at the outset to have made up his mind to submit without resistance to a fate from which he could not escape.

In spite of taxes, requisitions, and forced labour, the fellahin came off fairly well, when the chief to whom they belonged proved a kind master, and did not add the exactions of his own personal caprice to those of the State. The inscriptions which princes caused to be devoted to their own glorification, are so many enthusiastic panegyrics dealing only with their uprightness and kindness towards the poor and lowly. Every one of them represents himself as faultless: |the staff of support to the aged, the foster father of the children, the counsellor of the unfortunate, the refuge in which those who suffer from the cold in Thebes may warm themselves, the bread of the afflicted which never failed in the city of the South.| Their solicitude embraced everybody and everything: |I have caused no child of tender age to mourn; I have despoiled no widow; I have driven away no tiller of the soil; I have taken no workmen away from their foreman for the public works; none have been unfortunate about me, nor starving in my time. When years of scarcity arose, as I had cultivated all the lands of the nome of the Gazelle to its northern and southern boundaries, causing its inhabitants to live, and creating provisions, none who were hungry were found there, for I gave to the widow as well as to the woman who had a husband, and I made no distinction between high and low in all that I gave. If, on the contrary, there were high Niles, the possessors of lands became rich in all things, for I did not raise the rate of the tax upon the fields.| The canals engrossed all the prince's attention; he cleaned them out, enlarged them, and dug fresh ones, which were the means of bringing fertility and plenty into the most remote corners of his property. His serfs had a constant supply of clean water at their door, and were no longer content with such food as durra; they ate wheaten bread daily. His vigilance and severity were such that the brigands dared no longer appear within reach of his arm, and his soldiers kept strict discipline: |When night fell, whoever slept by the roadside blessed me, and was [in safety] as a man in his own house; the fear of my police protected him, the cattle remained in the fields as in the stable; the thief was as the abomination of the god, and he no more fell upon the vassal, so that the latter no more complained, but paid exactly the dues of his domain, for love| of the master who had procured for him this freedom from care. This theme might be pursued at length, for the composers of epitaphs varied it with remarkable cleverness and versatility of imagination. The very zeal which they display in describing the lord's virtues betrays how precarious was the condition of his subjects. There was nothing to hinder the unjust prince or the prevaricating officer from ruining and ill-treating as he chose the people who were under his authority. He had only to give an order, and the corvee fell upon the proprietors of a village, carried off their slaves and obliged them to leave their lands uncultivated; should they declare that they were incapable of paying the contributions laid on them, the prison opened for them and their families. If a dyke were cut, or the course of a channel altered, the nome was deprived of water: prompt and inevitable ruin came upon the unfortunate inhabitants, and their property, confiscated by the treasury in payment of the tax, passed for a small consideration into the hands of the scribe or of the dishonest administrator. Two or three years of neglect were almost enough to destroy a system of irrigation: the canals became filled with mud, the banks crumbled, the inundation either failed to reach the ground, or spread over it too quickly and lay upon it too long. Famine soon followed with its attendant sicknesses: men and animals died by the hundred, and it was the work of nearly a whole generation to restore prosperity to the district.

The lot of the fellah of old was, as we have seen, as hard as that of the fellah of to-day. He himself felt the bitterness of it, and complained at times, or rather the scribes complained for him, when with selfish complacency they contrasted their calling with his. He had to toil the whole year round, -- digging, sowing, working the shadouf from morning to night for weeks, hastening at the first requisition to the corvee, paying a heavy and cruel tax, -- all without even the certainty of enjoying what remained to him in peace, or of seeing his wife and children profit by it. So great, however, was the elasticity of his temperament that his misery was not sufficient to depress him: those monuments upon which his life is portrayed in all its minutias, represent him as animated with inexhaustible cheerfulness. The summer months ended, the ground again becomes visible, the river retires into its bed, the time of sowing is at hand: the peasant takes his team and his implements with him and goes off to the fields. In many places, the soil, softened by the water, offers no resistance, and the hoe easily turns it up; elsewhere it is hard, and only yields to the plough. While one of the farm-servants, almost bent double, leans his whole weight on the handles to force the ploughshare deep into the soil, his comrade drives the oxen and encourages them by his songs: these are only two or three short sentences, set to an unvarying chant, and with the time beaten on the back of the nearest animal. Now and again he turns round towards his comrade and encourages him: |Lean hard!| -- |Hold fast!|


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph.

The sower follows behind and throws handfuls of grain into the furrow: a flock of sheep or goats brings up the rear, and as they walk, they tread the seed into the ground. The herdsmen crack their whips and sing some country song at the top of their voices, -- based on the complaint of some fellah seized by the corvee to clean out a canal. |The digger is in the water with the fish, -- he talks to the silurus, and exchanges greetings with the oxyrrhynchus: -- West! your digger is a digger from the West!|*

* The silurus is the electrical fish of the Nile. The text ironically hints that the digger, up to his waist in water, engaged in dredging the dykes or repairing a bank swept away by an inundation, is liable at any moment to salute, i.e. to meet with a silurus or an oxyrrhynchus ready to attack him; he is doomed to death, and this fact the couplet expresses by the words, |West! your digger is a digger from the West.| The West was the region of the tombs; and the digger, owing to the dangers of his calling, was on his way thither.


All this takes place under the vigilant eye of the master: as soon as his attention is relaxed, the work slackens, quarrels arise, and the spirit of idleness and theft gains the ascendency. Two men have unharnessed their team. One of them quickly milks one of the cows, the other holds the animal and impatiently awaits his turn: |Be quick, while the farmer is not there.| They run the risk of a beating for a potful of milk. The weeks pass, the corn has ripened, the harvest begins. The fellahin, armed with a short sickle, cut or rather saw the stalks, a handful at a time. As they advance in line, a flute-player plays them captivating tunes, a man joins in with his voice marking the rhythm by clapping his hands, the foreman throwing in now and then a few words of exhortation: |What lad among you, when the season is over, can say: 'It is I who say it, to thee and to my comrades, you are all of you but idlers!' -- Who among you can say: 'An active lad for the job am I!'| A servant moves among the gang with a tall jar of beer, offering it to those who wish for it. |Is it not good!| says he; and the one who drinks answers politely: |'Tis true, the master's beer is better than a cake of durra!| The sheaves once bound, are carried to the singing of fresh songs addressed to the donkeys who bear them: |Those who quit the ranks will be tied, those who roll on the ground will be beaten, -- Geeho! then.| And thus threatened, the ass trots forward. Even when a tragic element enters the scene, and the bastinado is represented, the sculptor, catching the bantering spirit of the people among whom he lives, manages to insinuate a vein of comedy. A peasant, summarily condemned for some misdeed, lies flat upon the ground with bared back: two friends take hold of his arms, and two others his legs, to keep him in the proper position. His wife or his son intercedes for him to the man with the stick: |For mercy's sake strike on the ground!| And as a fact, the bastinado was commonly rather a mere form of chastisement than an actual punishment: the blows, dealt with apparent ferocity, missed their aim and fell upon the earth; the culprit howled loudly, but was let off with only a few bruises.

An Arab writer of the Middle Ages remarks, not without irony, that the Egyptians were perhaps the only people in the world who never kept any stores of provisions by them, but each one went daily to the market to buy the pittance for his family. The improvidence which he laments over in his contemporaries had been handed down from their most remote ancestors. Workmen, fellahin, employes, small townsfolk, all lived from hand to mouth in the Egypt of the Pharaohs. Pay-days were almost everywhere days of rejoicing and extra eating: no one spared either the grain, oil, or beer of the treasury, and copious feasting continued unsparingly, as long as anything was left of their wages. As their resources were almost always exhausted before the day of distribution once more came round, beggary succeeded to fulness of living, and a part of the population was literally starving for several days. This almost constant alternation of abundance and dearth had a reactionary influence on daily work: there were scarcely any seignorial workshops or undertakings which did not come to a standstill every month on account of the exhaustion of the workmen, and help had to be provided for the starving in order to avoid popular seditions. Their improvidence, like their cheerfulness, was perhaps an innate trait in the national character: it was certainly fostered and developed by the system of government adopted by Egypt from the earliest times. What incentive was there for a man of the people to calculate his resources and to lay up for the future, when he knew that his wife, his children, his cattle, his goods, all that belonged to him, and himself to boot, might be carried off at any moment, without his having the right or the power to resent it? He was born, he lived, and he died in the possession of a master.


Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey. The picture is taken from the tomb of Ti.

The lands or houses which his father had left him, were his merely on sufferance, and he enjoyed them only by permission of his lord. Those which he acquired by his own labour went to swell his master's domain. If he married and had sons, they were but servants for the master from the moment they were brought into the world. Whatever he might enjoy to-day, would his master allow him possession of it to-morrow? Even life in the world beyond did not offer him much more security or liberty: he only entered it in his master's service and to do his bidding; he existed in it on tolerance, as he had lived upon this earth, and he found there no rest or freedom unless he provided himself abundantly with |respondents| and charmed statuettes. He therefore concentrated his mind and energies on the present moment, to make the most of it as of almost the only thing which belonged to him: he left to his master the task of anticipating and providing for the future. In truth, his masters were often changed; now the lord of one town, now that of another; now a Pharaoh of the Memphite or Theban dynasties, now a stranger installed by chance upon the throne of Horns. The condition of the people never changed; the burden which crushed them was never lightened, and whatever hand happened to hold the stick, it never fell the less heavily upon their backs.

[Illustration: 148.jpg TAILPIECE]

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