RAMSES III. -- THE THEBAN CITY UNDER THE RAMESSIDES -- MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
Nalthtasit and Ramses III.: the decline of the military spirit in Egypt -- The reorganisation of the army and fleet by Ramses -- The second Libyan invasion -- The Asiatic peoples, the Pulasati, the Zakleala, and the Tyrseni: their incursions into Syria and their defeat -- The campaign of the year XL and the fall of the Libyan kingdom -- Cruising on the Red Sea -- The buildings at Medinet-Habu -- The conspiracy of Pentauirit -- The mummy of Ramses III.
The sons and immediate successors of Ramses III. -- Thebes and the Egyptian population: the transformation of the people and of the great lords: the feudal system from being military becomes religious -- The wealth of precious metals, jewellery, furniture, costume -- Literary education, and the influence of the Semitic language on the Egyptian: romantic stories, the historical novel, fables, caricatures and satires, collections of maxims and moral dialogues, love-poems.
[Illustration: 287.jpg Page Image]
Ramses III. -- The Theban city under the Ramessides -- Manners and customs.
As in a former crisis, Egypt once more owed her salvation to a scion of the old Theban race. A descendant of Seti I. or Ramses II., named Nakhtusit, rallied round him the forces of the southern nomes, and succeeded, though not without difficulty, in dispossessing the Syrian Arisu. |When he arose, he was like Sutkhu, providing for all the necessities of the country which, for feebleness, could not stand, killing the rebels which were in the Delta, purifying the great throne of Egypt; he was regent of the two lands in the place of Tumu, setting himself to reorganise that which had been overthrown, to such good purpose, that each one recognised as brethren those who had been separated from him as by a wall for so long a time, strengthening the temples by pious gifts, so that the traditional rites could be celebrated at the divine cycles.|*
* The exact relationship between Nakhtusit and Ramses II. is not known; he was probably the grandson or great-grandson of that sovereign, though Ed. Meyer thinks he was perhaps the son of Seti II. The name should be read either Nakhitsit, with the singular of the first word composing it, or Nakhitusit, Nakhtusit, with the plural, as in the analogous name of the king of the XXXth dynasty, Nectanebo.
Many were the difficulties that he had to encounter before he could restore to his country that peace and wealth which she had enjoyed under the long reign of Sesostris. It seems probable that his advancing years made him feel unequal to the task, or that he desired to guard against the possibility of disturbances in the event of his sudden death; at all events, he associated with himself on the throne his eldest son Ramses -- not, however, as a Pharaoh who had full rights to the crown, like the coadjutors of the Amenemhaits and Usirtasens, but as a prince invested with extraordinary powers, after the example of the sons of the Pharaohs Thutmosis and Seti I. Ramses recalls with pride, towards the close of his life, how his father |had promoted him to the dignity of heir-presumptive to the throne of Sibu,| and how he had been acclaimed as |the supreme head of Qimit for the administration of the whole earth united together.|* This constituted the rise of a new dynasty on the ruins of the old -- the last, however, which was able to retain the supremacy of Egypt over the Oriental world. We are unable to ascertain how long this double reign lasted.
* The only certain monument that we as yet possess of this double reign is a large stele cut on the rock behind Medinet-Habu.
[Illustration: 289.jpg NAKHTUSIT.]
Nakhtusit, fully occupied by enemies within the country, had no leisure either to build or to restore any monuments;* on his death, as no tomb had been prepared for him, his mummy was buried in that of the usurper Siphtah and the Queen Tausirit.
* Wiedemann attributes to him the construction of one of the doors of the temple of Mut at Karnak; it would appear that there is a confusion in his notes between the prenomen of this sovereign and that of Seti II., who actually did decorate one of the doorways of that temple. Nakhusit must have also worked on the temple of Phtah at Memphis. His cartouche is met with on a statue originally dedicated by a Pharaoh of the XIIth dynasty, discovered at Tell-Nebesheh.
He was soon forgotten, and but few traces of his services survived him; his name was subsequently removed from the official list of the kings, while others not so deserving as he -- as, for instance, Siphtah-Minephtah and Amenmesis -- were honourably inscribed in it. The memory of his son overshadowed his own, and the series of the legitimate kings who formed the XXth dynasty did not include him. Ramses III. took for his hero his namesake, Ramses the Great, and endeavoured to rival him in everything. This spirit of imitation was at times the means of leading him to commit somewhat puerile acts, as, for example, when he copied certain triumphal inscriptions word for word, merely changing the dates and the cartouches,* or when he assumed the prenomen of Usirmari, and distributed among his male children the names and dignities of the sons of Sesostris. We see, moreover, at his court another high priest of Phtah at Memphis bearing the name of Khamoisit, and Maritumu, another supreme pontiff of Ra in Heliopolis. However, this ambition to resemble his ancestor at once instigated him to noble deeds, and gave him the necessary determination to accomplish them.
* Thus the great decree of Phtah-Totunen, carved by Ramses II. in the year XXXV. on the rocks of Abu Simbel, was copied by Ramses III. at Medinet-Habu in the year XII.
He began by restoring order in the administration of affairs; |he established truth, crushed error, purified the temple from all crime,| and made his authority felt not only in the length and breadth of the Nile valley, but in what was still left of the Asiatic provinces. The disturbances of the preceding years had weakened the prestige of Amon-Ra, and the king's supremacy would have been seriously endangered, had any one arisen in Syria of sufficient energy to take advantage of the existing state of affairs. But since the death of Khatusaru, the power of the Khati had considerably declined, and they retained their position merely through their former prestige; they were in as much need of peace, or even more so, than the Egyptians, for the same discords which had harassed the reigns of Seti II. and his successors had doubtless brought trouble to their own sovereigns. They had made no serious efforts to extend their dominion over any of those countries which had been the objects of the cupidity of their forefathers, while the peoples of Kharu and Phoenicia, thrown back on their own resources, had not ventured to take up arms against the Pharaoh. The yoke lay lightly upon them, and in no way hampered their internal liberty; they governed as they liked, they exchanged one prince or chief for another, they waged petty wars as of old, without, as a rule, exposing themselves to interference from the Egyptian troops occupying the country, or from the |royal messengers.| These vassal provinces had probably ceased to pay tribute, or had done so irregularly, during the years of anarchy following the death of Siphtah, but they had taken no concerted action, nor attempted any revolt, so that when Ramses III. ascended the throne he was spared the trouble of reconquering them. He had merely to claim allegiance to have it at once rendered him -- an allegiance which included the populations in the neighbourhood of Qodshu and on the banks of the Nahr el-Kelb. The empire, which had threatened to fall to pieces amid the civil wars, and which would indeed have succumbed had they continued a few years longer, again revived now that an energetic prince had been found to resume the direction of affairs, and to weld together those elements which had been on the point of disintegration.
One state alone appeared to regret the revival of the Imperial power; this was the kingdom of Libya. It had continued to increase in size since the days of Minephtah, and its population had been swelled by the annexation of several strange tribes inhabiting the vast area of the Sahara. One of these, the Mashauasha, acquired the ascendency among these desert races owing to their numbers and valour, and together with the other tribes -- the Sabati, the Kaiakasha, the Shaiu, the Hasa, the Bikana, and the Qahaka* -- formed a confederacy, which now threatened Egypt on the west. This federation was conducted by Didi, Mashaknu, and Maraiu, all children of that Maraiu who had led the first Libyan invasion, and also by Zamaru and Zautmaru, two princes of less important tribes.** Their combined forces had attacked Egypt for the second time during the years of anarchy, and had gained possession one after another of all the towns in the west of the Delta, from the neighbourhood of Memphis to the town of Qarbina: the Canopic branch of the Nile now formed the limit of their dominion, and they often crossed it to devastate the central provinces.***
* This enumeration is furnished by the summary of the campaigns of Ramses III. in The Great Harris Papyrus. The Sabati of this text are probably identical with the people of the Sapudiu or Spudi (Asbytse), mentioned on one of the pylons of Medinet-Habu.
** The relationship is nowhere stated, but it is thought to be probable from the names of Didi and Maraiu, repeated in both series of inscriptions.
*** The town of Qarbina has been identified with the Canopus of the Greeks, and also with the modern Korbani; and the district of Gautu, which adjoined it, with the territory of the modern town of Edko. Spiegel-berg throws doubt on the identification of Qarbu or Qarbina, with Canopus. Revillout prefers to connect Qarbina with Heracleopolis Parva in Lower Egypt.
Nakhtusiti had been unable to drive them out, and Ramses had not ventured on the task immediately after his accession. The military institutions of the country had become totally disorganised after the death of Minephtah, and that part of the community responsible for furnishing the army with recruits had been so weakened by the late troubles, that they were in a worse condition than before the first Libyan invasion. The losses they had suffered since Egypt began its foreign conquests had not been repaired by the introduction of fresh elements, and the hope of spoil was now insufficient to induce members of the upper classes to enter the army. There was no difficulty in filling the ranks from the fellahin, but the middle class and the aristocracy, accustomed to ease and wealth, no longer came forward in large numbers, and disdained the military profession. It was the fashion in the schools to contrast the calling of a scribe with that of a foot-soldier or a charioteer, and to make as merry over the discomforts of a military occupation as it had formerly been the fashion to extol its glory and profitableness. These scholastic exercises represented the future officer dragged as a child to the barracks, |the side-lock over his ear. -- He is beaten and his sides are covered with scars, -- he is beaten and his two eyebrows are marked with wounds, -- he is beaten and his head is broken by a badly aimed blow; he is stretched on the ground| for the slightest fault, |and blows fall on him as on a papyrus, -- and he is broken by the stick.| His education finished, he is sent away to a distance, to Syria or Ethiopia, and fresh troubles overtake him. |His victuals and his supply of water are about his neck like the burden of an ass, -- and his neck and throat suffer like those of an ass, -- so that the joints of his spine are broken. -- He drinks putrid water, keeping perpetual guard the while.| His fatigues soon tell upon his health and vigour: |Should he reach the enemy, -- he is like a bird which trembles. -- Should he return to Egypt, -- he is like a piece of old worm-eaten wood. -- He is sick and must lie down, he is carried on an ass, -- while thieves steal his linen, -- and his slaves escape.| The charioteer is not spared either. He, doubtless, has a moment of vain-glory and of flattered vanity when he receives, according to regulations, a new chariot and two horses, with which he drives at a gallop before his parents and his fellow-villagers; but once having joined his regiment, he is perhaps worse off than the foot-soldier. |He is thrown to the ground among thorns: -- a scorpion wounds him in the foot, and his heel is pierced by its sting. -- When his kit is examined, -- his misery is at its height.| No sooner has the fact been notified that his arms are in a bad condition, or that some article has disappeared, than |he is stretched on the ground -- and overpowered with blows from a stick.| This decline of the warlike spirit in all classes of society had entailed serious modifications in the organisation of both army and navy. The native element no longer predominated in most battalions and on the majority of vessels, as it had done under the XVIIIth dynasty; it still furnished those formidable companies of archers -- the terror of both Africans and Asiatics -- and also the most important part, if not the whole, of the chariotry, but the main body of the infantry was composed almost exclusively of mercenaries, particularly of the Shardana and the Qahaka. Ramses began his reforms by rebuilding the fleet, which, in a country like Egypt, was always an artificial creation, liable to fall into decay, unless a strong and persistent effort were made to keep it in an efficient condition. Shipbuilding had made considerable progress in the last few centuries, perhaps from the impulse received through Phoenicia, and the vessels turned out of the dockyards were far superior to those constructed under Hatshopsitu. The general outlines of the hull remained the same, but the stem and stern were finer, and not so high out of the water; the bow ended, moreover, in a lion's head of metal, which rose above the cut-water. A wooden structure running between the forecastle and quarter-deck protected the rowers during the fight, their heads alone being exposed. The mast had only one curved yard, to which the sail was fastened; this was run up from the deck by halyards when the sailors wanted to make sail, and thus differed from the Egyptian arrangement, where the sail was fastened to a fixed upper yard. At least half of the crews consisted of Libyan prisoners, who were branded with a hot iron like cattle, to prevent desertion; the remaining half was drawn from the Syrian or Asiatic coast, or else were natives of Egypt. In order to bring the army into better condition, Ramses revived the system of classes, which empowered him to compel all Egyptians of unmixed race to take personal service, while he hired mercenaries from Libya, Phoenicia, Asia Minor, and wherever he could get them, and divided them into regular regiments, according to their extraction and the arms that they bore. In the field, the archers always headed the column, to meet the advance of the foe with their arrows; they were followed by the Egyptian lancers -- the Shardana and the Tyrseni with their short spears and heavy bronze swords -- while a corps of veterans, armed with heavy maces, brought up the rear.* In an engagement, these various troops formed three lines of infantry disposed one behind the other -- the light brigade in front to engage the adversary, the swordsmen and lancers who were to come into close quarters with the foe, and the mace-bearers in reserve, ready to advance on any threatened point, or to await the critical moment when their intervention would decide the victory: as in the times of Thutmosis and Ramses II. the chariotry covered the two wings.
* This is the order of march represented during the Syrian campaign, as gathered from the arrangement observed in the pictures at Medinet-Habu.
It was well for Ramses that on ascending the throne he had devoted himself to the task of recruiting the Egyptian army, and of personally and carefully superintending the instruction and equipment of his men; for it was thanks to these precautions that, when the confederated Libyans attacked the country about the Vth year of his reign, he was enabled to repulse them with complete success. |Didi, Mashaknu, Maraiu, together with Zamaru and Zautmaru, had strongly urged them to attack Egypt and to carry fire before them from one end of it to the other.| -- |Their warriors confided to each other in their counsels, and their hearts were full: 'We will be drunk!' and their princes said within their breasts: 'We will fill our hearts with violence!' But their plans were overthrown, thwarted, broken against the heart of the god, and the prayer of their chief, which their lips repeated, was not granted by the god.| They met the Egyptians at a place called |Kamsisu-Khasfi-Timihu| (|Ramses repulses the Timihu|), but their attack was broken by the latter, who were ably led and displayed considerable valour. |They bleated like goats surprised by a bull who stamps its foot, who pushes forward its horn and shakes the mountains, charging whoever seeks to annoy it.| They fled afar, howling with fear, and many of them, in endeavouring to escape their pursuers, perished in the canals. |It is,| said they, |the breaking of our spines which threatens us in the land of Egypt, and its lord destroys our souls for ever and ever. Woe be upon them! for they have seen their dances changed into carnage, Sokhit is behind them, fear weighs upon them. We march no longer upon roads where we can walk, but we run across fields, all the fields! And their soldiers did not even need to measure arms with us in the struggle! Pharaoh alone was our destruction, a fire against us every time that he willed it, and no sooner did we approach than the flame curled round us, and no water could quench it on us.| The victory was a brilliant one; the victors counted 12,535 of the enemy killed,* and many more who surrendered at discretion. The latter were formed into a brigade, and were distributed throughout the valley of the Nile in military settlements. They submitted to their fate with that resignation which we know to have been a characteristic of the vanquished at that date.
* The number of the dead is calculated from that of the hands and phalli brought in by the soldiers after the victory, the heaps of which are represented at Medinet-Habu.
They regarded their defeat as a judgment from God against which there was no appeal; when their fate had been once pronounced, nothing remained to the condemned except to submit to it humbly, and to accommodate themselves to the master to whom they were now bound by a decree from on high. The prisoners of one day became on the next the devoted soldiers of the prince against whom they had formerly fought resolutely, and they were employed against their own tribes, their employers having no fear of their deserting to the other side during the engagement. They were lodged in the barracks at Thebes, or in the provinces under the feudal lords and governors of the Pharaoh, and were encouraged to retain their savage customs and warlike spirit. They intermarried either with the fellahin or with women of their own tribes, and were reinforced at intervals by fresh prisoners or volunteers. Drafted principally into the Delta and the cities of Middle Egypt, they thus ended by constituting a semi-foreign population, destined by nature and training to the calling of arms, and forming a sort of warrior caste, differing widely from the militia of former times, and known for many generations by their national name of Mashauasha. As early as the XIIth dynasty, the Pharaohs had, in a similar way, imported the Mazaiu from Nubia, and had used them as a military police; Ramses III. now resolved to naturalise the Libyans for much the same purpose. His victory did not bear the immediate fruits that we might have expected from his own account of it; the memory of the exploits of Ramses II. haunted him, and, stimulated by the example of his ancestor at Qodshu, he doubtless desired to have the sole credit of the victory over the Libyans. He certainly did overcome their kings, and arrested their invasion; we may go so far as to allow that he wrested from them the provinces which they had occupied on the left bank of the Canopic branch, from Marea to the Natron Lakes, but he did not conquer them, and their power still remained as formidable as ever. He had gained a respite at the point of the sword, but he had not delivered Egypt from their future attacks.
[Illustration: 299.jpg one of the Libyan chiefs VANQUISHED BY RAMSES III.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Champollion.
He might perhaps have been tempted to follow up his success and assume the offensive, had not affairs in Asia at this juncture demanded the whole of his attention. The movement of great masses of European tribes in a southerly and easterly direction was beginning to be felt by the inhabitants of the Balkans, who were forced to set out in a double stream of emigration -- one crossing the Bosphorus and the Propontis towards the centre of Asia Minor, while the other made for what was later known as Greece Proper, by way of the passes over Olympus and Pindus. The nations who had hitherto inhabited these regions, now found themselves thrust forward by the pressure of invading hordes, and were constrained to move towards the south and east by every avenue which presented itself. It was probably the irruption of the Phrygians into the high table-land which gave rise to the general exodus of these various nations -- the Pulasati, the Zakkala, the Shagalasha, the Danauna, and the Uashasha -- some of whom had already made their way into Syria and taken part in campaigns there, while others had as yet never measured strength with the Egyptians. The main body of these migrating tribes chose the overland route, keeping within easy distance of the coast, from Pamphylia as far as the confines of Naharaim.
[Illustration: 300.jpg THE WAGGONS OF THE PULASATI AND THEIR CONFEDERATES]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Champollion.
They were accompanied by their families, who must have been mercilessly jolted in the ox-drawn square waggons with solid wheels in which they travelled. The body of the vehicle was built either of roughly squared planks, or else of something resembling wicker-work. The round axletree was kept in its place by means of a rude pin, and four oxen were harnessed abreast to the whole structure. The children wore no clothes, and had, for the most part, their hair tied into a tuft on the top of their heads; the women affected a closely fitting cap, and were wrapped in large blue or red garments drawn close to the body.* The men's attire varied according to the tribe to which they belonged. The Pulasati undoubtedly held the chief place; they were both soldiers and sailors, and we must recognise in them the foremost of those tribes known to the Greeks of classical times as the Oarians, who infested the coasts of Asia Minor as well as those of Greece and the AEgean islands.**
* These details are taken from the battle-scenes at Medinet- Habu.
** The Pulasati have been connected with the Philistines by Champollion, and subsequently by the early English
Egyptologists, who thought they recognised in them the inhabitants of the Shephelah. Chabas was the first to identify them with the Pelasgi; Unger and Brugsch prefer to attribute to them a Libyan origin, but the latter finally returns to the Pelasgic and Philistine hypothesis. They were without doubt the Philistines, but in their migratory state, before they settled on the coast of Palestine.
[Illustration: 301.jpg PULASATI]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Beato.
Crete was at this time the seat of a maritime empire, whose chiefs were perpetually cruising the seas and harassing the civilized states of the Eastern Mediterranean. These sea-rovers had grown wealthy through piracy, and contact with the merchants of Syria and Egypt had awakened in them a taste for a certain luxury and refinement, of which we find no traces in the remains of their civilization anterior to this period. Some of the symbols in the inscriptions found on their monuments recall certain of the Egyptian characters, while others present an original aspect and seem to be of AEgean origin. We find in them, arranged in juxtaposition, signs representing flowers, birds, fish, quadrupeds of various kinds, members of the human body, and boats and household implements. From the little which is known of this script we are inclined to derive it from a similar source to that which has furnished those we meet with in several parts of Asia Minor and Northern Syria. It would appear that in ancient times, somewhere in the centre of the Peninsula -- but under what influence or during what period we know not -- a syllabary was developed, of which varieties were handed on from tribe to tribe, spreading on the one side to the Hittites, Cilicians, and the peoples on the borders of Syria and Egypt, and on the other to the Trojans, to the people of the Cyclades, and into Crete and Greece. It is easy to distinguish the Pulasati by the felt helmet which they wore fastened under the chin by two straps and surmounted by a crest of feathers. The upper part of their bodies was covered by bands of leather or some thick material, below which hung a simple loin-cloth, while their feet were bare or shod with short sandals. They carried each a round buckler with two handles, and the stout bronze sword common to the northern races, suspended by a cross belt passing over the left shoulder, and were further armed with two daggers and two javelins. They hurled the latter from a short distance while attacking, and then drawing their sword or daggers, fell upon the enemy; we find among them a few chariots of the Hittite type, each manned by a driver and two fighting men. The Tyrseni appear to have been the most numerous after the Pulasati, next to whom came the Zakkala. The latter are thought to have been a branch of the Siculo-Pelasgi whom Greek tradition represents as scattered at this period among the Cyclades and along the coast of the Hellespont;* they wore a casque surmounted with plumes like that of the Pulasati. The Tyrseni may be distinguished by their feathered head-dress, but the Shaga-lasha affected a long ample woollen cap falling on the neck behind, an article of apparel which is still worn by the sailors of the Archipelago; otherwise they were equipped in much the same manner as their allies. The other members of the confederation, the Shardana, the Danauna, and the Nashasha, each furnished an inconsiderable contingent, and, taken all together, formed but a small item of the united force.**
* The Zakkara, or Zakkala, have been identified with the Teucrians by Lauth, Chabas, and Fr. Lenormant, with the Zygritse of Libya by linger and Brugsch, who subsequently returned to the Teucrian hypothesis; W. Max Millier regards them as an Asiatic nation probably of the Lydian family. The identification with the Siculo-Pelasgi of the AEgean Sea was proposed by Maspero.
** The form of the word shows that it is of Asiatic origin, Uasasos, Uassos, which refers us to Caria or Lycia.
Their fleet sailed along the coast and kept within sight of the force on land. The squadrons depicted on the monuments are without doubt those of the two peoples, the Pulasati and Zakkala. Their ships resembled in many respects those of Egypt, except in the fact that they had no cut-water. The bow and stern rose up straight like the neck of a goose or swan; two structures for fighting purposes were erected above the dock, while a rail running round the sides of the vessel protected the bodies of the rowers. An upper yard curved in shape hung from the single mast, which terminated in a top for the look-out during a battle. The upper yard was not made to lower, and the top-men managed the sail in the same manner as the Egyptian sailors. The resemblance between this fleet and that of Ramses is easily explained. The dwellers on the AEgean, owing to the knowledge they had acquired of the Phoenician galleys, which were accustomed to cruise annually in their waters, became experts in shipbuilding.
[Illustration: 304.jpg A SIHAGALASHA CHIEF]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Petrie.
They copied the lines of the Phoenician craft, imitated the rigging, and learned to manoeuvre their vessels so well, both on ordinary occasions and in a battle, that they could now oppose to the skilled eastern navigators ships as well fitted out and commanded by captains as experienced as those of Egypt or Asia.
There had been a general movement among all these peoples at the very time when Ramses was repelling the attack of the Libyans; |the isles had quivered, and had vomited forth their people at once.|*
* This campaign is mentioned in the inscription of Medinet- Habu. We find some information about the war in the Great Harris Papyrus, also in the inscription of Medinet-Habu which describes the campaign of the year V., and in other shorter texts of the same temple.
They were subjected to one of those irresistible impulses such as had driven the Shepherds into Egypt; or again, in later times, had carried away the Cimmerians and the Scyths to the pillage of Asia Minor: |no country could hold out against their arms, neither Khati, nor Qodi, nor Carchemish, nor Arvad, nor Alasia, without being brought to nothing.| The ancient kingdoms of Sapalulu and Khatusaru, already tottering, crumbled to pieces under the shock, and were broken up into their primitive elements. The barbarians, unable to carry the towns by assault, and too impatient to resort to a lengthened siege, spread over the valley of the Orontes, burning and devastating the country everywhere. Having reached the frontiers of the empire, in the country of the Amorites, they came to a halt, and constructing an entrenched camp, installed within it their women and the booty they had acquired. Some of their predatory bands, having ravaged the Bekaa, ended by attacking the subjects of the Pharaoh himself, and their chiefs dreamed of an invasion of Egypt. Ramses, informed of their design by the despatches of his officers and vassals, resolved to prevent its accomplishment. He summoned his troops together, both indigenous and mercenary, in his own person looked after their armament and commissariat, and in the VIIIth year of his reign crossed the frontier near Zalu. He advanced by forced marches to meet the enemy, whom he encountered somewhere in Southern Syria, on the borders of the Shephelah,* and after a stubbornly contested campaign obtained the victory. He carried off from the field, in addition to the treasures of the confederate tribes, some of the chariots which had been used for the transport of their families. The survivors made their way hastily to the north-west, in the direction of the sea, in order to receive the support of their navy, but the king followed them step by step.
* No site is given for these battles. E. de Rouge placed the theatre of war in Syria, and his opinion was accepted by Brugsch. Chabas referred it to the mouth of the Nile near Pelusium, and his authority has prevailed up to the present. The remarks of W. Max Mueller have brought me back to the opinion of the earlier Egyptologists; but I differ from him in looking for the locality further south, and not to the mouth of Nahr el-Kelb as the site of the naval battle. It seems to me that the fact that the Zakkala were prisoners at Dor, and the Pulasati in the Shephelah, is enough to assign the campaign to the regions I have mentioned in the text.
It is recorded that he occupied himself with lion-hunting en route after the example of the victors of the XVIIIth dynasty, and that he killed three of these animals in the long grass on one occasion on the banks of some river. He rejoined his ships, probably at Jaffa, and made straight for the enemy. The latter were encamped on the level shore, at the head of a bay wide enough to offer to their ships a commodious space for naval evolutions -- possibly the mouth of the Belos, in the neighbourhood of Magadil. The king drove their foot-soldiers into the water at the same moment that his admirals attacked the combined fleet of the Pulasati and Zakkala.
[Illustration: 307.jpg THE ARMY OP RAMSES III. ON THE MARCH, AND THE LION-HUNT]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Beato.
Some of the AEgean galleys were capsized and sank when the Egyptian vessels rammed them with their sharp stems, and the crews, in endeavouring to escape to land by swimming, were picked off by the arrows of the archers of the guard who were commanded by Ramses and his sons; they perished in the waves, or only escaped through the compassion of the victors. |I had fortified,| said the Pharaoh, |my frontier at Zahi; I had drawn up before these people my generals, my provincial governors, the vassal princes, and the best of my soldiers. The mouths of the river seemed to be a mighty rampart of galleys, barques, and vessels of all kinds, equipped from the bow to the stern with valiant armed men. The infantry, the flower of Egypt, were as lions roaring on the mountains; the charioteers, selected from among the most rapid warriors, had for their captains only officers confident in themselves; the horses quivered in all their limbs, and were burning to trample the nations underfoot. As for me, I was like the warlike Montu: I stood up before them and they saw the vigour of my arms. I, King Ramses, I was as a hero who is conscious of his valour, and who stretches his hands over the people in the day of battle. Those who have violated my frontier will never more garner harvests from this earth: the period of their soul has been fixed for ever. My forces were drawn up before them on the 'Very Green,' a devouring flame approached them at the river mouth, annihilation embraced them on every side. Those who were on the strand I laid low on the seashore, slaughtered like victims of the butcher. I made their vessels to capsize, and their riches fell into the sea.| Those who had not fallen in the fight were caught, as it were, in the cast of a net. A rapid cruiser of the fleet carried the Egyptian standard along the coast as far as the regions of the Orontes and Saros. The land troops, on the other hand, following on the heels of the defeated enemy, pushed through Coele-Syria, and in their first burst of zeal succeeded in reaching the plains of the Euphrates. A century had elapsed since a Pharaoh had planted his standard in this region, and the country must have seemed as novel to the soldiers of Ramses III. as to those of his predecessor Thutmosis.
[Illustration: 308.jpg THE DEFEAT OF THE PEOPLES OF THE SEA]
The Khati were still its masters; and all enfeebled as they were by the ravages of the invading barbarians, were nevertheless not slow in preparing to resist their ancient enemies. The majority of the citadels shut their gates in the face of Ramses, who, wishing to lose no time, did not attempt to besiege them: he treated their territory with the usual severity, devastating their open towns, destroying their harvests, breaking down their fruit trees, and cutting away their forests. He was able, moreover, without arresting his march, to carry by assault several of their fortified towns, Alaza among the number, the destruction of which is represented in the scenes of his victories. The spoils were considerable, and came very opportunely to reward the soldiers or to provide funds for the erection of monuments. The last battalion of troops, however, had hardly recrossed the isthmus when Lotanu became again its own master, and Egyptian rule was once more limited to its traditional provinces of Kharu and Phoenicia. The King of the Khati appears among the prisoners whom the Pharaoh is represented as bringing to his father Amon; Carchemish, Tunipa, Khalabu, Katna, Pabukhu, Arvad, Mitanni, Mannus, Asi, and a score of other famous towns of this period appear in the list of the subjugated nations, recalling the triumphs of Thutmosis III. and Amenothes II. Ramses did not allow himself to be deceived into thinking that his success was final. He accepted the protestations of obedience which were spontaneously offered him, but he undertook no further expedition of importance either to restrain or to provoke his enemies: the restricted rule which satisfied his exemplar Ramses II. ought, he thought, to be sufficient for his own ambition.
Egypt breathed freely once more on the announcement of the victory; henceforward she was |as a bed without anguish.| |Let each woman now go to and fro according to her will,| cried the sovereign, in describing the campaign, |her ornaments upon her, and directing her steps to any place she likes!| And in order to provide still further guarantees of public security, he converted his Asiatic captives, as he previously had his African prisoners, into a bulwark against the barbarians, and a safeguard of the frontier. The war must, doubtless, have decimated Southern Syria; and he planted along its coast what remained of the defeated tribes -- the Philistines in the Shephelah, and the Zakkala on the borders of the great oak forest stretching from Oarmel to Dor.*
* It is in this region that we find henceforward the Hebrews in contact with the Philistines: at the end of the XXIst Egyptian dynasty a scribe makes Dor a town of the Zakkala.
Watch-towers were erected for the supervision of this region, and for rallying-points in case of internal revolts or attacks from without. One of these, the Migdol of Ramses III., was erected, not far from the scene of the decisive battle, on the spot where the spoils had been divided. This living barrier, so to speak, stood between the Nile valley and the dangers which threatened it from Asia, and it was not long before its value was put to the proof. The Libyans, who had been saved from destruction by the diversion created in their favour on the eastern side of the empire, having now recovered their courage, set about collecting their hordes together for a fresh invasion. They returned to the attack in the XIth year of Ramses, under the leadership of Kapur, a prince of the Mashauasha.*
* The second campaign against the Libyans is known to us from the inscriptions of the year XI. at Medinet-Habu.
[Illustration: 313.jpg THE CAPTIVE CHIEFS OF RAMSES III. AT MEDINET-IHABU]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato. The first prisoner on the left is the Prince of the Khati (cf. the cut on p.318 of the present work), the second is the Prince of the Amauru [Amoritos], the third the Prince of the Zakkala, the fourth that of the Shardana, the fifth that of the Shakalasha (see the cut on p.304 of this work), and the sixth that of the Tursha [Tyrseni].
Their soul had said to them for the second time that |they would end their lives in the nomes of Egypt, that they would till its valleys and its plains as their own land.| The issue did not correspond with their intentions. |Death fell upon them within Egypt, for they had hastened with their feet to the furnace which consumes corruption, under the fire of the valour of the king who rages like Baal from the heights of heaven. All his limbs are invested with victorious strength; with his right hand he lays hold of the multitudes, his left extends to those who are against him, like a cloud of arrows directed upon them to destroy them, and his sword cuts like that of Montu. Kapur, who had come to demand homage, blind with fear, threw down his arms, and his troops did the same. He sent up to heaven a suppliant cry, and his son [Mashashalu] arrested his foot and his hand; for, behold, there rises beside him the god who knows what he has in his heart: His Majesty falls upon their heads as a mountain of granite and crushes them, the earth drinks up their blood as if it had been water...; their army was slaughtered, slaughtered their soldiers,| near a fortress situated on the borders of the desert called the |Castle of Usirmari-Miamon.| They were seized, |they were stricken, their arms bound, like geese piled up in the bottom of a boat, under the feet of His Majesty.|* The fugitives were pursued at the sword's point from the Castle of Usirmari-Miamon to the Castle of the Sands, a distance of over thirty miles.**
* The name of the son of Kapur, Mashashalu, Masesyla, which is wanting in this inscription, is supplied from a parallel inscription.
* The Castle of Usirmari-Miamon was |on the mountain of the horn of the world,| which induces me to believe that we must seek its site on the borders of the Libyan desert. The royal title entering into its name being liable to change with every reign, it is possible that we have an earlier reference to this stronghold in a mutilated passage of the Athribis Stele, which relates to the campaigns of Minephtah; it must have commanded one of the most frequented routes leading to the oasis of Amon.
[Illustration: 314.jpg RAMSES III. BINDS THE CHIEFS OF THE LIBYANS]
From a photograph by Beato.
Two thousand and seventy-five Libyans were left upon the ground that day, two thousand and fifty-two perished in other engagements, while two thousand and thirty-two, both male and female, were made prisoners. These were almost irreparable losses for a people of necessarily small numbers, and if we add the number of those who had succumbed in the disaster of six years before, we can readily realise how discouraged the invaders must have been, and how little likely they were to try the fortune of war once more. Their power dwindled and vanished almost as quickly as it had arisen; the provisional cohesion given to their forces by a few ambitious chiefs broke up after their repeated defeats, and the rudiments of an empire which had struck terror into the Pharaohs, resolved itself into its primitive elements, a number of tribes scattered over the desert. They were driven back beyond the Libyan mountains; fortresses* guarded the routes they had previously followed, and they were obliged henceforward to renounce any hope of an invasion en masse, and to content themselves with a few raiding expeditions into the fertile plain of the Delta, where they had formerly found a transitory halting-place. Counter-raids organised by the local troops or by the mercenaries who garrisoned the principal towns in the neighbourhood of Memphis -- Hermopolis and Thinisl -- inflicted punishment upon them when they became too audacious. Their tribes, henceforward, as far as Egypt was concerned, formed a kind of reserve from which the Pharaoh could raise soldiers every year, and draw sufficient materials to bring his army up to fighting strength when internal revolt or an invasion from without called for military activity.
* The Great Harris Papyrus speaks of fortifications erected in the towns of Anhuri-Shu, possibly Thinis, and of Thot, possibly Hermopolis, in order to repel the tribes of the Tihonu who were ceaselessly harassing the frontier.
[Illustration: 318.jpg THE PRINCE OF THE KHATI]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph taken at Medinet- Habu.
The campaign of the XIth year brought to an end the great military expeditions of Ramses III. Henceforward he never took the lead in any more serious military enterprise than that of repressing the Bedawin of Seir for acts of brigandage,* or the Ethiopians for some similar reason. He confined his attention to the maintenance of commercial and industrial relations with manufacturing countries, and with the markets of Asia and Africa. He strengthened the garrisons of Sinai, and encouraged the working of the ancient mines in that region. He sent a colony of quarry-men and of smelters to the land of Atika, in order to work the veins of silver which were alleged to exist there.**
*The Sairu of the Egyptian texts have been identified with the Bedawin of Seir.
** This is the Gebel-Ataka of our day. All this district is imperfectly explored, but we know that it contains mines and quarries some of which were worked as late as in the time of the Mameluk Sultans.
He launched a fleet on the Red Sea, and sent it to the countries of fragrant spices. |The captains of the sailors were there, together with the chiefs of the corvee and accountants, to provide provision| for the people of the Divine Lands |from the innumerable products of Egypt; and these products were counted by myriads. Sailing through the great sea of Qodi, they arrived at Puantt without mishap, and there collected cargoes for their galleys and ships, consisting of all the unknown marvels of Tonutir, as well as considerable quantities of the perfumes of Puatin, which they stowed on board by tens of thousands without number. The sons of the princes of Tonutir came themselves into Qimit with their tributes. They reached the region of Coptos safe and sound, and disembarked there in peace with their riches.| It was somewhere about Sau and Tuau that the merchants and royal officers landed, following the example of the expeditions of the XIIth and XVIIIth dynasties. Here they organised caravans of asses and slaves, which taking the shortest route across the mountain -- that of the valley of Rahanu -- carried the precious commodities to Coptos, whence they were transferred to boats and distributed along the river. The erection of public buildings, which had been interrupted since the time of Minephtah, began again with renewed activity. The captives in the recent victories furnished the requisite labour, while the mines, the voyages to the Somali coast, and the tributes of vassals provided the necessary money. Syria was not lost sight of in this resumption of peaceful occupations. The overthrow of the Khati secured Egyptian rule in this region, and promised a long tranquillity within its borders. One temple at least was erected in the country -- that of Pa-kanana -- where the princes of Kharu were to assemble to offer worship to the Pharaoh, and to pay each one his quota of the general tribute. The Pulasati were employed to protect the caravan routes, and a vast reservoir was erected near Aina to provide a store of water for the irrigation of the neighbouring country. The Delta absorbed the greater part of the royal subsidies; it had suffered so much from the Libyan incursions, that the majority of the towns within it had fallen into a condition as miserable as that in which they were at the time of the expulsion of the Shepherds. Heliopolis, Bubastis, Thmuis, Amu, and Tanis still preserved some remains of the buildings which had already been erected in them by Ramses; he constructed also, at the place at present called Tel el-Yahudiyeh, a royal palace of limestone, granite, and alabaster, of which the type is unique amongst all the structures hitherto discovered. Its walls and columns were not ornamented with the usual sculptures incised in stone, but the whole of the decorations -- scenes as well as inscriptions -- consisted of plaques of enamelled terra-cotta set in cement. The forms of men and animals and the lines of hieroglyphs, standing out in slight relief from a glazed and warm-coloured background, constitute an immense mosaic-work of many hues. The few remains of the work show great purity of design and an extraordinary delicacy of tone.
[Illustration: 320.jpg SIGNS, ARMS AND INSTRUMENTS]
All the knowledge of the Egyptian painters, and all the technical skill of their artificers in ceramic, must have been employed to compose such harmoniously balanced decorations, with their free handling of line and colour, and their thousands of rosettes, squares, stars, and buttons of varicoloured pastes.*
* This temple has been known since the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the Louvre is in possession of some fragments from it which came from Salt's collection; it was rediscovered in 1870, and some portions of it were
transferred by Mariette to the Boulaq Museum. The remainder was destroyed by the fellahin, at the instigation of the enlightened amateurs of Cairo, and fragments of it have passed into various private collections. The decoration has been attributed to Chaldoan influence, but it is a work purely Egyptian, both in style and in technique.
[Illustration: 321.jpg THE COLOSSAL OSIRIAN FIGURES in THE FIRST COURT AT MEDINET-HABU]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Beato.
The difficulties to overcome were so appalling, that when the marvellous work was once accomplished, no subsequent attempt was made to construct a second like it: all the remaining structures of Ramses III., whether at Memphis, in the neighbourhood of Abydos, or at Karnak, were in the conventional style of the Pharaohs. He determined, nevertheless, to give to the exterior of the Memnonium, which he built near Medinet-Habu for the worship of himself, the proportions and appearance of an Asiatic |Migdol,| influenced probably by his remembrance of similar structures which he had seen during his Syrian campaign. The chapel itself is of the ordinary type, with its gigantic pylons, its courts surrounded by columns -- each supporting a colossal Osirian statue -- its hypostyle hall, and its mysterious cells for the deposit of spoils taken from the peoples of the sea and the cities of Asia. His tomb was concealed at a distant spot in the Biban-el-Moluk, and we see depicted on its walls the same scenes that we find in the last resting-place of Seti I. or Ramses II., and in addition to them, in a series of supplementary chambers, the arms of the sovereign, his standards, his treasure, his kitchen, and the preparation of offerings which were to be made to him. His sarcophagus, cut out of an enormous block of granite, was brought for sale to Europe at the beginning of this century, and Cambridge obtained possession of its cover, while the Louvre secured the receptacle itself.
These were years of profound tranquillity. The Pharaoh intended that absolute order should reign throughout his realm, and that justice should be dispensed impartially within it.
[Illustration: 322.jpg THE FIRST PYLON OF THE TEMPLE]
There were to be no more exactions, no more crying iniquities: whoever was discovered oppressing the people, no matter whether he were court official or feudal lord -- was instantly deprived of his functions, and replaced by an administrator of tried integrity. Ramses boasts, moreover, in an idyllic manner, of having planted trees everywhere, and of having built arbours wherein the people might sit in the shade in the open air; while women might go to and fro where they would in security, no one daring to insult them on the way. The Shardanian and Libyan mercenaries were restricted to the castles which they garrisoned, and were subjected to such a severe discipline that no one had any cause of complaint against these armed barbarians settled in the heart of Egypt. |I have,| continues the king, |lifted up every miserable one out of his misfortune, I have granted life to him, I have saved him from the mighty who were oppressing him, and have secured rest for every one in his own town.| The details of the description are exaggerated, but the general import of it is true. Egypt had recovered the peace and prosperity of which it had been deprived for at least half a century, that is, since the death of Minephtah. The king, however, was not in such a happy condition as his people, and court intrigues embittered the later years of his life. One of his sons, whose name is unknown to us, but who is designated in the official records by the nickname of Pentauirit, formed a conspiracy against him. His mother, Tii, who was a woman of secondary rank, took it into her head to secure the crown for him, to the detriment of the children of Queen Isit. An extensive plot was hatched in which scribes, officers of the guard, priests, and officials in high place, both natives and foreigners, were involved. A resort to the supernatural was at first attempted, and the superintendent of the Herds, a certain Panhuibaunu, who was deeply versed in magic, undertook to cast a spell upon the Pharaoh, if he could only procure certain conjuring books of which he was not possessed. These were found to be in the royal library. He managed to introduce himself under cover of the night into the harem, where he manufactured certain waxen figures, of which some were to excite the hate of his wives against their husband, while others would cause him to waste away and finally perish. A traitor betrayed several of the conspirators, who, being subjected to the torture, informed upon others, and these at length brought the matter home to Pentauirit and his immediate accomplices. All were brought before a commission of twelve members, summoned expressly to try the case, and the result was the condemnation and execution of six women and some forty men. The extreme penalty of the Egyptian code was reserved for Pentauirit, and for the most culpable, -- |they died of themselves,| and the meaning of this phrase is indicated, I believe, by the appearance of one of the mummies disinterred at Deir el-Bahari.* The coffin in which it was placed was very plain, painted white and without inscription; the customary removal of entrails had not been effected, but the body was covered with a thick layer of natron, which was applied even to the skin itself and secured by wrappings.
* The translations by Deveria, Lepage-Renouf, and Erman agree in making it a case of judicial suicide: there was left to the condemned a choice of his mode of death, in order to avoid the scandal of a public execution. It is also possible to make it a condemnation to death in person, which did not allow of the substitution of a proxy willing, for a payment to his family, to undergo death in place of the condemned; but, unfortunately, no other text is to be found supporting the existence of such a practice in Egypt.
It makes one's flesh creep to look at it: the hands and feet are tied by strong bands, and are curled up as if under an intolerable pain; the abdomen is drawn up, the stomach projects like a ball, the chest is contracted, the head is thrown back, the face is contorted in a hideous grimace, the retracted lips expose the teeth, and the mouth is open as if to give utterance to a last despairing cry. The conviction is borne in upon us that the man was invested while still alive with the wrappings of the dead. Is this the mummy of Pentauirit, or of some other prince as culpable as he was, and condemned to this frightful punishment? In order to prevent the recurrence of such wicked plots, Pharaoh resolved to share his throne with that one of his sons who had most right to it. In the XXXIInd year of his reign he called together his military and civil chiefs, the generals of the foreign mercenaries, the Shardana, the priests, and the nobles of the court, and presented to them, according to custom, his heir-designate, who was also called Ramses. He placed the double crown upon his brow, and seated him beside himself upon the throne of Horus. This was an occasion for the Pharaoh to bring to remembrance all the great exploits he had performed during his reign -- his triumphs over the Libyans and over the peoples of the sea, and the riches he had lavished upon the gods: at the end of the enumeration he exhorted those who were present to observe the same fidelity towards the son which they had observed towards the father, and to serve the new sovereign as valiantly as they had served himself.
[Illustration: 327.jpg THE MUMMY OF RAMSES III.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a, photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey.
The joint reign lasted for only four years. Ramses III. was not much over sixty years of age when he died. He was still vigorous and muscular, but he had become stout and heavy. The fatty matter of the body having been dissolved by the natron in the process of embalming, the skin distended during life has gathered up into enormous loose folds, especially about the nape of the neck, under the chin, on the hips, and at the articulations of the limbs. The closely shaven head and cheeks present no trace of hair or beard. The forehead, although neither broad nor high, is better proportioned than that of Ramses II.; the supra-orbital ridges are less accentuated than his, the cheek-bones not so prominent, the nose not so arched, and the chin and jaw less massive. The eyes were perhaps larger, but no opinion can be offered on this point, for the eyelids have been cut away, and the cleared-out cavities have been filled with rags. The ears do not stand out so far from the head as those of Ramses II., but they have been pierced for ear-rings. The mouth, large by nature, has been still further widened in the process of embalming, owing to the awkwardness of the operator, who has cut into the cheeks at the side. The thin lips allow the white and regular teeth to be seen; the first molar on the right has been either broken in half, or has worn away more rapidly than the rest. Ramses III. seems, on the whole, to have been a sort of reduced copy, a little more delicate in make, of Ramses II.; his face shows more subtlety of expression and intelligence, though less nobility than that of the latter, while his figure is not so upright, his shoulders not so broad, and his general muscular vigour less. What has been said of his personality may be extended to his reign; it was evidently and designedly an imitation of the reign of Ramses IL, but fell short of its model owing to the insufficiency of his resources in men and money. If Ramses III. did not succeed in becoming one of the most powerful of the Theban Pharaohs, it was not for lack of energy or ability; the depressed condition of Egypt at the time limited the success of his endeavours and caused them to fall short of his intentions. The work accomplished by him was not on this account less glorious. At his accession Egypt was in a wretched state, invaded on the west, threatened by a flood of barbarians on the east, without an army or a fleet, and with no resources in the treasury. In fifteen years he had disposed of his inconvenient neighbours, organised an army, constructed a fleet, re-established his authority abroad, and settled the administration at home on so firm a basis, that the country owed the peace which it enjoyed for several centuries to the institutions and prestige which he had given it. His associate in the government, Ramses IV., barely survived him. Then followed a series of rois faineants bearing the name of Ramses, but in an order not yet clearly determined. It is generally assumed that Ramses V., brother of Ramses III., succeeded Ramses IV. by supplanting his nephews -- who, however, appear to have soon re-established their claim to the throne, and to have followed each other in rapid succession as Ramses VI., Ramses VIL, Ramses VIII., and Maritumu.* Others endeavour to make out that Ramses V. was the son of Ramses IV., and that the prince called Ramses VI. never succeeded to the throne at all. At any rate, his son, who is styled Ramses VIL, but who is asserted by some to have been a son of Ramses III., is considered to have succeeded Ramses V., and to have become the ancestor from whom the later Ramessides traced their descent.**
* The order of the Ramessides was first made out by Champollion the younger and by Rosellini. Bunsen and Lepsius reckon in it thirteen kings; E. de Rouge puts the number at fifteen or sixteen; Maspero makes the number to be twelve, which was reduced still further by Setho. Erman thinks that Ramses IX. and Ramses X. were also possibly sons of Ramses III.; he consequently declines to recognise King Maritumu as a son of that sovereign, as Brugsch would make out.
* The monuments of these later Ramessides are so rare and so doubtful that I cannot yet see my way to a solution of the questions which they raise.
The short reigns of these Pharaohs were marked by no events which would cast lustre on their names; one might say that they had nothing else to do than to enjoy peacefully the riches accumulated by their forefather. Ramses IV. was anxious to profit by the commercial relations which had been again established between Egypt and Puanit, and, in order to facilitate the transit between Coptos and Kosseir, founded a station, and a temple dedicated to Isis, in the mountain of Bakhni; by this route, we learn, more than eight thousand men had passed under the auspices of the high priest of Amon, Nakh-tu-ramses. This is the only undertaking of public utility which we can attribute to any of these kings. As we see them in their statues and portraits, they are heavy and squat and without refinement, with protruding eyes, thick lips, flattened and commonplace noses, round and expressionless faces. Their work was confined to the engraving of their cartouches on the blank spaces of the temples at Karnak and Medinet-Habu, and the addition of a few stones to the buildings at Memphis, Abydos, and Heliopolis. Whatever energy and means they possessed were expended on the construction of their magnificent tombs.
[Illustration: 331.jpg A RAMSES OF THE XXth DYNASTY]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey. This is the Ramses VI. of the series now generally adopted.
These may still be seen in the Biban el-Moluk, and no visitor can refrain from admiring them for their magnitude and decoration. As to funerary chapels, owing to the shortness of the reigns of these kings, there was not time to construct them, and they therefore made up for this want by appropriating the chapel of their father, which was at Medinet-Habu, and it was here consequently that their worship was maintained. The last of the sons of Ramses III. was succeeded by another and equally ephemeral Ramses; after whom came Ramses X. and Ramses XI., who re-established the tradition of more lasting reigns. There was now no need of expeditions against Kharu or Libya, for these enfeebled countries no longer disputed, from the force of custom, the authority of Egypt. From time to time an embassy from these countries would arrive at Thebes, bringing presents, which were pompously recorded as representing so much tribute.* If it is true that a people which has no history is happy, then Egypt ought to be reckoned as more fortunate under the feebler descendants of Ramses III. than it had ever been under the most famous Pharaohs.
* The mention of a tribute, for instance, in the time of Ramses IV. from the Lotanu.
Thebes continued to be the favourite royal residence. Here in its temple the kings were crowned, and in its palaces they passed the greater part of their lives, and here in its valley of sepulchres they were laid to rest when their reigns and lives were ended. The small city of the beginning of the XVIIIth dynasty had long encroached upon the plain, and was now transformed into an immense town, with magnificent monuments, and a motley population, having absorbed in its extension the villages of Ashiru,* and Madit, and even the southern Apit, which we now call Luxor. But their walls could still be seen, rising up in the middle of modern constructions, a memorial of the heroic ages, when the power of the Theban princes was trembling in the balance, and when conflicts with the neighbouring barons or with the legitimate king were on the point of breaking out at every moment.**
* The village of Ashiru was situated to the south of the temple of Karnak, close to the temple of Mut. Its ruins, containing the statues of Sokhit collected by Amenothes III., extend around the remains marked X in Mariette's plan.
* These are the walls which are generally regarded as marking the sacred enclosure of the temples: an examination of the ruins of Thebes shows us that, during the XXth and XXIst dynasties, brick-built houses lay against these walls both on the inner and outer sides, so that they must have been half hidden by buildings, as are the ancient walls of Paris at the present day.
The inhabitants of Apit retained their walls, which coincided almost exactly with the boundary of Nsittaui, the great sanctuary of Amon; Ashiru sheltered behind its ramparts the temple of Mut, while Apit-risit clustered around a building consecrated by Amenothes III. to his divine father, the lord of Thebes. Within the boundary walls of Thebes extended whole suburbs, more or less densely populated and prosperous, through which ran avenues of sphinxes connecting together the three chief boroughs of which the sovereign city was composed. On every side might have been seen the same collections of low grey huts, separated from each other by some muddy pool where the cattle were wont to drink and the women to draw water; long streets lined with high houses, irregularly shaped open spaces, bazaars, gardens, courtyards, and shabby-looking palaces which, while presenting a plain and unadorned exterior, contained within them the refinements of luxury and the comforts of wealth. The population did not exceed a hundred thousand souls,* reckoning a large proportion of foreigners attracted hither by commerce or held as slaves.
* Letronne, after having shown that we have no authentic ancient document giving us the population, fixes it at 200,000 souls. My estimate, which is, if anything,
exaggerated, is based on the comparison of the area of ancient Thebes and that of such modern towns as Shit, Girgeh and Qina, whose populations are known for the last fifty years from the census.
[Illustration: 334.jpg MAP: THEBES IN THE XXTH DYNASTY]
The court of the Pharaoh drew to the city numerous provincials, who, coming thither to seek their fortune, took up their abode there, planting in the capital of Southern Egypt types from the north and the centre of the country, as well as from Nubia and the Oases; such a continuous infusion of foreign material into the ancient Theban stock gave rise to families of a highly mixed character, in which all the various races of Egypt were blended in the most capricious fashion. In every twenty officers, and in the same number of ordinary officials, about half would be either Syrians, or recently naturalised Nubians, or the descendants of both, and among the citizens such names as Pakhari the Syrian, Palamnani the native of the Lebanon, Pinahsi the negro, Palasiai the Alasian, preserved the indications of foreign origin.* A similar mixture of races was found in other cities, and Memphis, Bubastis, Tanis, and Siut must have presented as striking an aspect in this respect as Thebes.** At Memphis there were regular colonies of Phoenician, Canaanite, and Amorite merchants sufficiently prosperous to have temples there to their national gods, and influential enough to gain adherents to their religion from the indigenous inhabitants. They worshipped Baal, Aniti. Baal-Zaphuna, and Ashtoreth, side by side with Phtah, Nofirtumu, and Sokhit,*** and this condition of things at Memphis was possibly paralleled elsewhere -- as at Tanis and Bubastis.
* Among the forty-three individuals compromised in the conspiracy against Ramses III. whose names have been examined by Deveria, nine are foreigners, chiefly Semites, and were so recognised by the Egyptians themselves -- Adiram, Balmahara, Garapusa, lunini the Libyan, Paiarisalama, possibly the Jerusalemite, Nanaiu, possibly the Ninevite, Palulca the Lycian, Qadendena, and Uarana or Naramu.
** An examination of the stelae of Abydos shows the extent of foreign influence in this city in the middle of the XVIIIth dynasty.
*** These gods are mentioned in the preamble of a letter written on the verso of the Sallier Papyrus. From the mode in which they are introduced we may rightly infer that they had, like the Egyptian gods who are mentioned with them, their chapels at Memphis. A place in Memphis is called |the district called the district of the Khatiu| is an inscription of the IIIth year of Ai, and shows that Hittites were there by the side of Canaanites.
This blending of races was probably not so extensive in the country districts, except in places where mercenaries were employed as garrisons; but Sudanese or Hittite slaves, brought back by the soldiers of the ranks, had introduced Ethiopian and Asiatic elements into many a family of the fellahin.*
* One of the letters in the Great Bologna Papyrus treats of a Syrian slave, employed as a cultivator at Hermopolis, who had run away from his master.
We have only to examine in any of our museums the statues of the Memphite and Theban periods respectively, to see the contrast between the individuals represented in them as far as regards stature and appearance. Some members of the courts of the Ramessides stand out as genuine Semites notwithstanding the disguise of their Egyptian names; and in the times of Kheops and Usirtasen they would have been regarded as barbarians. Many of them exhibit on their faces a blending of the distinctive features of one or other of the predominant Oriental races of the time. Additional evidence of a mixture of races is forthcoming when we examine with an unbiased mind the mummies of the period, and the complexity of the new elements introduced among the people by the political movements of the later centuries is thus strongly confirmed. The new-comers had all been absorbed and assimilated by the country, but the generations which arose from this continual cross-breeding, while representing externally the Egyptians of older epochs, in manners, language, and religion, were at bottom something different, and the difference became the more accentuated as the foreign elements increased. The people were thus gradually divested of the character which had distinguished them before the conquest of Syria; the dispositions and defects imported from without counteracted to such an extent their own native dispositions and defects that all marks of individuality were effaced and nullified. The race tended to become more and more what it long continued to be afterwards, -- a lifeless and inert mass, without individual energy -- endowed, it is true, with patience, endurance, cheerfulness of temperament, and good nature, but with little power of self-government, and thus forced to submit to foreign masters who made use of it and oppressed it without pity.
The upper classes had degenerated as much as the masses. The feudal nobles who had expelled the Shepherds, and carried the frontiers of the empire to the banks of the Euphrates, seemed to have expended their energies in the effort, and to have almost ceased to exist. As long as Egypt was restricted to the Nile valley, there was no such disproportion between the power of the Pharaoh and that of his feudatories as to prevent the latter from maintaining their privileges beside, and, when occasion arose, even against the monarch. The conquest of Asia, while it compelled them either to take up arms themselves or to send their troops to a distance, accustomed them and their soldiers to a passive obedience. The maintenance of a strict discipline in the army was the first condition of successful campaigning at great distances from the mother country and in the midst of hostile people, and the unquestioning respect which they had to pay to the orders of their general prepared them for abject submission to the will of their sovereign. To their bravery, moveover, they owed not only money and slaves, but also necklaces and bracelets of honour, and distinctions and offices in the Pharaonic administration. The king, in addition, neglected no opportunity for securing their devotion to himself. He gave to them in marriage his sisters, his daughters, his cousins, and any of the princesses whom he was not compelled by law to make his own wives. He selected from their harems nursing-mothers for his own sons, and this choice established between him and them a foster relationship, which was as binding among the Egyptians and other Oriental peoples as one of blood. It was not even necessary for the establishment of this relation that the foster-mother's connexion with the Pharaoh's son should be durable or even effective: the woman had only to offer her breast to the child for a moment, and this symbol was quite enough to make her his nurse -- his true monait. This fictitious fosterage was carried so far, that it was even made use of in the case of youths and persons of mature age. When an Egyptian woman wished to adopt an adult, the law prescribed that she should offer him the breast, and from that moment he became her son. A similar ceremony was prescribed in the case of men who wished to assume the quality of male nurse -- monai -- or even, indeed, of female nurse -- monait -- like that of their wives; according to which they were to place, it would seem, the end of one of their fingers in the mouth of the child.* Once this affinity was established, the fidelity of these feudal lords was established beyond question; and their official duties to the sovereign were not considered as accomplished when they had fulfilled their military obligations, for they continued to serve him in the palace as they had served him on the field. Wherever the necessities of the government called them -- at Memphis, at Ramses, or elsewhere -- they assembled around the Pharaoh; like him they had their palaces at Thebes, and when they died they were anxious to be buried there beside him.**
* These symbolical modes of adoption were first pointed out by Maspero. Legend has given examples of them: as, for instance, where Isis fosters the child of Malkander, King of Byblos, by inserting the tip of her finger in its mouth.
** The tomb of a prince of Tobui, the lesser Aphroditopolis, was discovered at Thebes by Maspero. The rock-out tombs of two Thinite princes were noted in the same necropolis. These two were of the time of Thutmosis III. I have remarked in tombs not yet made public the mention of princes of El-Kab, who played an important part about the person of the Pharaohs down to the beginning of the XXth dynasty.
Many of the old houses had become extinct, while others, owing to marriages, were absorbed into the royal family; the fiefs conceded to the relations or favourites of the Pharaoh continued to exist, indeed, as of old, but the ancient distrustful and turbulent feudality had given place to an aristocracy of courtiers, who lived oftener in attendance on the monarch than on their own estates, and whose authority continued to diminish to the profit of the absolute rule of the king. There would be nothing astonishing in the |count| becoming nothing more than a governor, hereditary or otherwise, in Thebes itself; he could hardly be anything higher in the capital of the empire.* But the same restriction of authority was evidenced in all the provinces: the recruiting of soldiers, the receipt of taxes, most of the offices associated with the civil or military administration, became more and more affairs of the State, and passed from the hands of the feudal lord into those of the functionaries of the Crown. The few barons who still lived on their estates, while they were thus dispossessed of the greater part of their prerogatives, obtained some compensation, on the other hand, on the side of religion. From early times they had been by birth the heads of the local cults, and their protocol had contained, together with those titles which justified their possession of the temporalities of the nome, others which attributed to them spiritual supremacy. The sacred character with which they were invested became more and more prominent in proportion as their political influence became curtailed, and we find scions of the old warlike families or representatives of a new lineage at Thinis, at Akhmim,** in the nome of Baalu, at Hieraconpolis,*** at El-Kab,**** and in every place where we have information from the monuments as to their position, bestowing more concern upon their sacerdotal than on their other duties.
* Rakhmiri and his son Manakhpirsonbu were both |counts |of Thebes under Thutmosis III., and there is nothing to show that there was any other person among them invested with the same functions and belonging to a different family.
** For example, the tomb of Anhurimosu, high priest of Anhuri-Shu and prince of Thinis, under Minephtah, where the sacerdotal character is almost exclusively prominent. The same is the case with the tombs of the princes of Akhmim in the time of Khuniatonu and his successors: the few still existing in 1884-5 have not been published. The stelae belonging to them are at Paris and Berlin.
*** Horimosu, Prince of Hieraconpolis under Thutmosis III., is, above everything else, a prophet of the local Horus.
**** The princes of El-Kab during the XIXth and XXth dynasties were, before everything, priests of Nekhabit, as appears from an examination of their tombs, which, lying in a side valley, far away from the tomb of Pihiri, are rarely visited.
This transfiguration of the functions of the barons, which had been completed under the XIXth and XXth dynasties, corresponded with a more general movement by which the Pharaohs themselves were driven to accentuate their official position as high priests, and to assign to their sons sacerdotal functions in relation to the principal deities. This rekindling of religious fervour would not, doubtless, have restrained military zeal in case of war;* but if it did not tend to suppress entirely individual bravery, it discouraged the taste for arms and for the bold adventures which had characterised the old feudality.
* The sons of Ramses II., Khamoisit and Maritumu, were bravo warriors in spite of their being high priests of Phtah at Memphis, and of Ra at Heliopolis.
The duties of sacrificing, of offering prayer, of celebrating the sacred rites according to the prescribed forms, and rendering due homage to the gods in the manner they demanded, were of such an exactingly scrupulous and complex character that the Pharaohs and the lords of earlier times had to assign them to men specially fitted for, and appointed to, the task; now that they had assumed these absorbing functions themselves, they were obliged to delegate to others an increasingly greater proportion of their civil and military duties. Thus, while the king and his great vassals were devoutly occupying themselves in matters of worship and theology, generals by profession were relieving them of the care of commanding their armies; and as these individuals were frequently the chiefs of Ethiopian, Asiatic, and especially of Libyan bands, military authority, and, with it, predominant influence in the State were quickly passing into the hands of the barbarians. A sort of aristocracy of veterans, notably of Shardana or Mashauasha, entirely devoted to arms, grew up and increased gradually side by side with the ancient noble families, now by preference devoted to the priesthood.*
* This military aristocracy was fully developed in the XXIst and XXIInd dynasties, but it began to take shape after Ramses III. had planted the Shardana and Qahaka in certain towns as garrisons.
The barons, whether of ancient or modern lineage, were possessed of immense wealth, especially those of priestly families. The tribute and spoil of Asia and Africa, when once it had reached Egypt, hardly ever left it: they were distributed among the population in proportion to the position occupied by the recipients in the social scale. The commanders of the troops, the attendants on the king, the administrators of the palace and temples, absorbed the greater part, but the distribution was carried down to the private soldier and his relations in town or country, who received some of the crumbs. When we remember for a moment the four centuries and more during which Egypt had been reaping the fruits of her foreign conquest, we cannot think without amazement of the quantities of gold and other precious metals which must have been brought in divers forms into the valley of the Nile.* Every fresh expedition made additions to these riches, and one is at a loss to know whence in the intervals between two defeats the conquered could procure so much wealth, and why the sources were never exhausted nor became impoverished. This flow of metals had an influence upon commercial transactions, for although trade was still mainly carried on by barter, the mode of operation was becoming changed appreciably. In exchanging commodities, frequent use was now made of rings and ingots of a certain prescribed weight in tabonu; and it became more and more the custom to pay for goods by a certain number of tabonu of gold, silver, or copper, rather than by other commodities: it was the practice even to note down in invoices or in the official receipts, alongside the products or manufactured articles with which payments were made, the value of the same in weighed metal.**
* The quantity of gold in ingots or rings, mentioned in the Annals of Tkutmosis III., represents altogether a weight of nearly a ton and a quarter, or in value some L140,000 of our money. And this is far from being the whole of the metal obtained from the enemy, for a large portion of the inscription has disappeared, and the unrecorded amount might be taken, without much risk of error, at as much as that of which we have evidence -- say, some two and a half tons, which Thutmosis had received or brought back between the years XXIII. and XLII. of his reign -- an estimation rather under than over the reality. These figures, moreover, take no account of the vessels and statues, or of the furniture and arms plated with gold. Silver was not received in such large quantities, but it was of great value, and the like may be said of copper and lead.
* The facts justifying this position were observed and put together for the first time by Chabas: a translation is given in his memoir of a register of the XXth or XXIst dynasty, which gives the price of butcher's meat, both in gold and silver, at this date. Fresh examples have been since collected by Spiegelberg, who has succeeded in drawing up a kind of tariff for the period between the XVIIIth and XXth dynasties.
This custom, although not yet widely extended, placed at the disposal of trade enormous masses of metal, which were preserved in the form of ingots or bricks, except the portion which went to the manufacture of rings, jewellery, or valuable vessels.*
* There are depicted on the monuments bags or heaps of gold dust, ingots in the shape of bricks, rings, and vases, arranged alongside each other.
The general prosperity encouraged a passion for goldsmith's work, and the use of bracelets, necklaces, and chains became common among classes of the people who were not previously accustomed to wear them. There was henceforward no scribe or merchant, however poor he might be, who had not his seal made of gold or silver, or at any rate of copper gilt. The stone was sometimes fixed, but frequently arranged so as to turn round on a pivot; while among people of superior rank it had some emblem or device upon it, such as a scorpion, a sparrow-hawk, a lion, or a cynocephalous monkey. Chains occupied the same position among the ornaments of Egyptian women as rings among men; they were indispensable decorations. Examples of silver chains are known of some five feet in length, while others do not exceed two to three inches. There are specimens in gold of all sizes, single, double, and triple, with large or small links, some thick and heavy, while others are as slight and flexible as the finest Venetian lace. The poorest peasant woman, alike with the lady of the court, could boast of the possession of a chain, and she must have been in dire poverty who had not some other ornament in her jewel-case. The jewellery of Queen Ahhotpu shows to what degree of excellence the work of the Egyptian goldsmiths had attained at the time of the expulsion of the Nyksos: they had not only preserved the good traditions of the best workmen of the XIIth dynasty, but they had perfected the technical details, and had learned to combine form and colour with a greater skill. The pectorals of Prince Khamoisit and the Lord Psaru,now in the Louvre, but which were originally placed in the tomb of the Apis in the time of Ramses II., are splendid examples.
[Illustration: 345.jpg PECTORAL OF RAMSES II.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the jewel in the Louvre.
The most common form of these represents in miniature the front of a temple with a moulded or flat border, surmounted by a curved cornice. In one of them, which was doubtless a present from the king himself, the cartouche, containing the first name of the Pharaoh-Usirmari, appears just below the frieze, and serves as a centre for the design within the frame. The wings of the ram-headed sparrow-hawk, the emblem of Amonra, are so displayed as to support it, while a large urseus and a vulture beneath embracing both the sparrow-hawk and the cartouche with outspread wings give the idea of divine protection. Two didu, each of them filling one of the lower corners, symbolise duration. The framework of the design is made up of divisions marked out in gold, and filled either with coloured enamels or pieces of polished stone. The general effect is one of elegance, refinement, and harmony, the three principal elements of the design becoming enlarged from the top downwards in a deftly adjusted gradation. The dead-gold of the cartouche in the upper centre is set off below by the brightly variegated and slightly undulating band of colours of the sparrow-hawk, while the urseus and vulture, associated together with one pair of wings, envelope the upper portions in a half-circle of enamels, of which the shades pass from red through green to a dull blue, with a freedom of handling and a skill in the manipulation of colour which do honour to the artist. It was not his fault if there is still an element of stiffness in the appearance of the pectoral as a whole, for the form which religious tradition had imposed upon the jewel was so rigid that no artifice could completely get over this defect. It is a type which arose out of the same mental concepts as had given birth to Egyptian architecture and sculpture -- monumental in character, and appearing often as if designed for colossal rather than ordinary beings. The dimensions, too overpowering for the decoration of normal men or women, would find an appropriate place only on the breasts of gigantic statues: the enormous size of the stone figures to which alone they are adapted would relieve them, and show them in their proper proportions. The artists of the second Theban empire tried all they could, however, to get rid of the square framework in which the sacred bird is enclosed, and we find examples among the pectorals in the Louvre of the sparrow-hawk only with curved wings, or of the ram-headed hawk with the wings extended; but in both of them there is displayed the same brilliancy, the same purity of line, as in the square-shaped jewels, while the design, freed from the trammels of the hampering enamelled frame, takes on a more graceful form, and becomes more suitable for personal decoration.
[Illustration: 347.jpg THE RAM-HEADED SPARROW-HAWK IN THE LOUVRE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a jewel in the Louvre.
The ram's head in the second case excels in the beauty of its workmanship anything to be found elsewhere in the museums of Europe or Egypt. It is of the finest gold, but its value does not depend upon the precious material: the ancient engraver knew how to model it with a bold and free hand, and he has managed to invest it with as much dignity as if he had been carving his subject in heroic size out of a block of granite or limestone. It is not an example of pure industrial art, but of an art for which a designation is lacking. Other examples, although more carefully executed and of more costly materials, do not approach it in value: such, for instance, are the earrings of Ramses XII. at Gizeh, which are made up of an ostentatious combination of disks, filigree-work, chains, beads, and hanging figures of the urseus.
To get an idea of the character of the plate on the royal sideboards, we must have recourse to the sculptures in the temples, or to the paintings on the tombs: the engraved gold or silver centrepieces, dishes, bowls, cups, and amphoras, if valued by weight only, were too precious to escape the avarice of the impoverished generations which followed the era of Theban prosperity. In the fabrication of these we can trace foreign influences, but not to the extent of a predominance over native art: even if the subject to be dealt with by the artist happened to be a Phoenician god or an Asiatic prisoner, he was not content with slavishly copying his model; he translated it and interpreted it, so as to give it an Egyptian character.
The household furniture was in keeping with these precious objects. Beds and armchairs in valuable woods, inlaid with ivory, carved, gilt, painted in subdued and bright colours, upholstered with mattresses and cushions of many-hued Asiatic stuffs, or of home-made materials, fashioned after Chaldaean patterns, were in use among the well-to-do, while people of moderate means had to be content with old-fashioned furniture of the ancient regime.
[Illustration: 348.jpg DECORATED ARMCHAIR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from one of these objects in the tomb of Ramses III.
The Theban dwelling-house was indeed more sumptuously furnished than the earliest Memphite, but we find the same general arrangements in both, which provided, in addition to quarters for the masters, a similar number of rooms intended for the slaves, for granaries, storehouses, and stables. While the outward decoration of life was subject to change, the inward element remained unaltered. Costume was a more complex matter than in former times: the dresses and lower garments were more gauffered, had more embroidery and stripes; the wigs were larger and longer, and rose up in capricious arrangements of curls and plaits.
[Illustration: 349.jpg EGYPTIAN WIG]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by M. de Mertens.
The use of the chariot had now become a matter of daily custom, and the number of domestics, already formidable, was increased by fresh additions in the shape of coachmen, grooms, and saises, who ran before their master to clear a way for the horses through the crowded streets of the city.*
* The pictures at Tel el-Amarna exhibit the king, queen, and princesses driving in their chariots with escorts of soldiers and runners. We often find in the tomb-paintings the chariot and coachman of some dignitary, waiting while their master inspects a field or a workshop, or while he is making a visit to the palace for some reward.
As material, existence became more complex, intellectual life partook of the same movement, and, without deviating much from the lines prescribed for it by the learned and the scribes of the Memphite age, literature had become in the mean time larger, more complicated, more exacting, and more difficult to grapple with and to master. It had its classical authors, whose writings were committed to memory and taught in the schools. These were truly masterpieces, for if some felt that they understood and enjoyed them, others found them almost beyond their comprehension, and complained bitterly of their obscurity. The later writers followed them pretty closely, in taking pains, on the one hand to express fresh ideas in the forms consecrated by approved and ancient usage, or when they failed to find adequate vehicles to convey new thoughts, resorting in their lack of imagination to the foreigner for the requisite expressions. The necessity of knowing at least superficially, something of the dialect and writings of Asia compelled the Egyptian scribes to study to some degree the literature of Phonecia and of Chaldaea.
[Illustration: 350.jpg Page Image with Furniture]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from photographs of the objects in the Museums of Berlin and Gizeh.
From these sources they had borrowed certain formulae and incantation, medical recipes, and devout legends, in which the deities of Assyria and especially Astarte played the chief part. They appropriated in this manner a certain number of words and phrases with which they were accustomed to interlard their discourses and writings. They thought it polite to call a door no longer by the word ro, but the term tira, and to accompany themselves no longer with the harp bordt, but with the same instrument under its new name kinnor, and to make the salam in saluting the sovereign in place of crying before him, aau. They were thorough-going Semiticisers; but one is less offended by their affectation when one considers that the number of captives in the country, and the intermarriages with Canaanite women, had familiarised a portion of the community from childhood with the sounds and ideas of the languages from which the scribes were accustomed to borrow unblushingly. This artifice, if it served to infuse an appearance of originality into their writings, had no influence upon their method of composition. Their poetical ideal remained what it had been in the time of their ancestors, but seeing that we are now unable to determine the characteristic cadence of sentences or the mental attitude which marked each generation of literary men, it is often difficult for us to find out the qualities in their writings which gave them popularity. A complete library of one of the learned in the Ramesside period must have contained a strange mixture of works, embracing, in addition to books of devotion, which were indispensable to those who were solicitous about their souls,* collections of hymns, romances, war and love songs, moral and philosophical treatises, letters, and legal documents.
* There are found in the rubrics of many religious books, for example that dealing with the unseen world, promises of health and prosperity to the soul which, |while still on earth,| had read and learned them. A similar formula appears at the end of several important chapters of the Book of the Dead.
It would have been similar in character to the literary-possessions of an Egyptian of the Memphite period,* but the language in which it was written would not have been so stiff and dry, but would have flowed more easily, and been more sustained and better balanced.
* The composition of these libraries may be gathered from the collections of papyri which have turned up from time to time, and have been sold by the Arabs to Europeans buyers; e.g. the Sallier Collection, the Anastasi Collections, and that of Harris. They have found their way eventually into the British Museum or the Museum at Leyden, and have been published in the Select Papyri of the former, or in the Monuments Egyptiens of the latter.
The great odes to the deities which we find in the Theban papyri are better fitted, perhaps, than the profane compositions of the period, to give us an idea of the advance which Egyptian genius had made in the width and richness of its modes of expression, while still maintaining almost the same dead-level of idea which had characterised it from the outset. Among these, one dedicated to Harmakhis, the sovereign sun, is no longer restricted to a bare enumeration of the acts and virtues of the |Disk,| but ventures to treat of his daily course and his final triumphs in terms which might have been used in describing the victorious campaigns or the apotheosis of a Pharaoh. It begins with his awakening, at the moment when he has torn himself away from the embraces of night. Standing upright in the cabin of the divine bark, |the fair boat of millions of years,| with the coils of the serpent Mihni around him, he glides in silence on the eternal current of the celestial waters, guided and protected by those battalions of secondary deities with whose odd forms the monuments have made us familiar. |Heaven is in delight, the earth is in joy, gods and men are making festival, to render glory to Phra-Harmakhis, when they see him arise in his bark, having overturned his enemies in his own time!| They accompany him from hour to hour, they fight the good fight with him against Apopi, they shout aloud as he inflicts each fresh wound upon the monster: they do not even abandon him when the west has swallowed him up in its darkness.* Some parts of the hymn remind us, in the definiteness of the imagery and in the abundance of detail, of a portion of the poem of Pentauirit, or one of those inscriptions of Ramses III. wherein he celebrates the defeat of hordes of Asiatics or Libyans.
* The remains of Egyptian romantic literature have been collected and translated into French by Maspero, and subsequently into English by Flinders Petrie.
The Egyptians took a delight in listening to stories. They preferred tales which dealt with the marvellous and excited their imagination, introducing speaking animals, gods in disguise, ghosts and magic. One of them tells of a king who was distressed because he had no heir, and had no sooner obtained the favour he desired from the gods, than the Seven Hathors, the mistresses of Fate, destroyed his happiness by predicting that the child would meet with his death by a serpent, a dog, or a crocodile. Efforts were made to provide against such a fatality by shutting him up in a tower; but no sooner had he grown to man's estate, than he procured himself a dog, went off to wander through the world, and married the daughter of the Prince of Naharaim. His fate meets him first under the form of a serpent, which is killed by his wife; he is next assailed by a crocodile, and the dog kills the crocodile, but as the oracles must be fulfilled, the brute turns and despatches his master without further consideration. Another story describes two brothers, Anupu and Bitiu, who live happily together on their farm till the wife of the elder falls in love with the younger, and on his repulsing her advances, she accuses him to her husband of having offered her violence. The virtue of the younger brother would not have availed him much, had not his animals warned him of danger, and had not Phra-Harmakhis surrounded him at the critical moment with a stream teeming with crocodiles. He mutilates himself to prove his innocence, and announces that henceforth he will lead a mysterious existence far from mankind; he will retire to the Valley of the Acacia, place his heart on the topmost flower of the tree, and no one will be able with impunity to steal it from him. The gods, however, who frequent this earth take pity on his loneliness, and create for him a wife of such beauty that the Nile falls in love with her, and steals a lock of her hair, which is carried by its waters down into Egypt. Pharaoh finds the lock, and, intoxicated by its scent, commands his people to go in quest of the owner. Having discovered the lady, Pharaoh marries her, and ascertaining from her who she is, he sends men to cut down the Acacia, but no sooner has the flower touched the earth, than Bitiu droops and dies. The elder brother is made immediately acquainted with the fact by means of various prodigies. The wine poured out to him becomes troubled, his beer leaves a deposit. He seizes his shoes and staff and sets out to find the heart.
After a search of seven years he discovers it, and reviving it in a vase of water, he puts it into the mouth of the corpse, which at once returns to life. Bitiu, from this moment, seeks only to be revenged. He changes himself into the bull Apis, and, on being led to court, he reproaches the queen with the crime she has committed against him. The queen causes his throat to be cut; two drops of his blood fall in front of the gate of the palace, and produce in the night two splendid |Persea| trees, which renew the accusation in a loud voice. The queen has them cut down, but a chip from one of them flies into her mouth, and ere long she gives birth to a child who is none other than a reincarnation of Bitiu. When the child succeeds to the Pharaoh, he assembles his council, reveals himself to them, and punishes with death her who was first his wife and subsequently his mother. The hero moves throughout the tale without exhibiting any surprise at the strange incidents in which he takes part, and, as a matter of fact, they did not seriously outrage the probabilities of contemporary life. In every town sorcerers could be found who knew how to transform themselves into animals or raise the dead to life: we have seen how the accomplices of Pentauirit had recourse to spells in order to gain admission to the royal palace when they desired to rid themselves of Ramses III. The most extravagant romances differed from real life merely in collecting within a dozen pages more miracles than were customarily supposed to take place in the same number of years; it was merely the multiplicity of events, and not the events themselves, that gave to the narrative its romantic and improbable character. The rank of the heroes alone raised the tale out of the region of ordinary life; they are always the sons of kings, Syrian princes, or Pharaohs; sometimes we come across a vague and undefined Pharaoh, who figures under the title of Piruiaui or Pruiti, but more often it is a well-known and illustrious Pharaoh who is mentioned by name. It is related how, one day, Kheops, suffering from ennui within his palace, assembled his sons in the hope of learning from them something which he did not already know. They described to him one after another the prodigies performed by celebrated magicians under Kanibri and Snofrui; and at length Mykerinos assured him that there was a certain Didi, living then not far from Meidum, who was capable of repeating all the marvels done by former wizards. Most of the Egyptian sovereigns were, in the same way, subjects of more or less wonderful legends -- Sesostris, Amenothes III., Thufcmosis III., Amenemhait I., Khiti, Sahuri, Usirkaf, and Kakiu. These stories were put into literary shape by the learned, recited by public story-tellers, and received by the people as authentic history; they finally filtered into the writings of the chroniclers, who, in introducing them into the annals, filled up with their extraordinary details the lacunae of authentic tradition. Sometimes the narrative assumed a briefer form, and became an apologue. In one of them the members of the body were supposed to have combined against the head, and disputed its supremacy before a jury; the parties all pleaded their cause in turn, and judgment was given in due form.*
* This version of the Fable of the Members and the Stomach was discovered upon a schoolboy's tablet at Turin.
Animals also had their place in this universal comedy. The passions or the weaknesses of humanity were attributed to them, and the narrator makes the lion, rat, or jackal to utter sentiments from which he draws some short practical moral. La Fontaine had predecessors on the banks of the Nile of whose existence he little dreamed.
[Illustration: 357.jpg THE CAT AND THE JACKAL GO OFF TO THE FIELDS WITH THEIR FLOCKS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius.
As La Fontaine found an illustrator in Granville, so, too, in Egypt the draughtsman brought his reed to the aid of the fabulist, and by his cleverly executed sketches gave greater point to the sarcasm of story than mere words could have conveyed. Where the author had briefly mentioned that the jackal and the cat had cunningly forced their services on the animals whom they wished to devour at their leisure, the artist would depict the jackal and the cat equipped as peasants, with wallets on their backs, and sticks over their shoulders, marching behind a troup of gazelles or a flock of fat geese: it was easy to foretell the fate of their unfortunate charges. Elsewhere it is an ox who brings up before his master a cat who has cheated him, and his proverbial stupidity would incline us to think that he will end by being punished himself for the misdeeds of which he had accused the other. Puss's sly and artful expression, the ass-headed and important-looking judge, with the wand and costume of a high and mighty dignitary, give pungency to the story, and recall the daily scenes at the judgment-seat of the lord of Thebes. In another place we see a donkey, a lion, a crocodile, and a monkey giving an instrumental and vocal concert.
[Illustration: 358.jpg THE CAT BEFORE ITS JUDGE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius.
A lion and a gazelle play a game of chess. A cat of fashion, with a flower in her hair, has a disagreement with a goose: they have come to blows, and the excitable puss, who fears she will come off worst in the struggle, falls backwards in a fright. The draughtsmen having once found vent for their satire, stopped at nothing, and even royalty itself did not escape their attacks. While the writers of the day made fun of the military calling, both in prose and verse, the caricaturists parodied the combats and triumphal scenes of the Ramses or Thutmosis of the day depicted on the walls of the pylons. The Pharaoh of all the rats, perched upon a chariot drawn by dogs, bravely charges an army of cats; standing in the heroic attitude of a conqueror, he pierces them with his darts, while his horses tread the fallen underfoot; his legions meanwhile in advance of him attack a fort defended by tomcats, with the same ardour that the Egyptian battalions would display in assaulting a Syrian stronghold.
[Illustration: 359.jpg A CONCERT OF ANIMALS DEVOTED TO MUSIC]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius.
This treatment of ethics did not prevent the Egyptian writers from giving way to their natural inclinations, and composing large volumes on this subject after the manner of Kaqimni or Phtahhotpu. One of their books, in which the aged Ani inscribes his Instructions to his son, Khonshotpu, is compiled in the form of a dialogue, and contains the usual commonplaces upon virtue, temperance, piety, the respect due to parents from children, or to the great ones of this world from their inferiors. The language in which it is written is ingenious, picturesque, and at times eloquent; the work explains much that is obscure in Egyptian life, and upon which the monuments have thrown no light. |Beware of the woman who goes out surreptitiously in her town, do not follow her or any like her, do not expose thyself to the experience of what it costs a man to face an Ocean of which the bounds are unknown.* The wife whose husband is far from home sends thee letters, and invites thee to come to her daily when she has no witnesses; if she succeeds in entangling thee in her net, it is a crime which is punishable by death as soon as it is known, even if no wicked act has taken place, for men will commit every sort of crime when under this temptation alone.|
* I have been obliged to paraphrase the sentence
considerably to render it intelligible to the modern reader. The Egyptian text says briefly: |Do not know the man who braves the water of the Ocean whose bounds are unknown.|To know the man means here know the state of the man who does an action.
|Be not quarrelsome in breweries, for fear that thou mayest be denounced forthwith for words which have proceeded from thy mouth, and of having spoken that of which thou art no longer conscious. Thou fallest, thy members helpless, and no one holds out a hand to thee, but thy boon-companions around thee say: 'Away with the drunkard!' Thou art wanted for some business, and thou art found rolling on the ground like an infant.| In speaking of what a man owes to his mother, Ani waxes eloquent: |When she bore thee as all have to bear, she had in thee a heavy burden without being able to call on thee to share it. When thou wert born, after thy months were fulfilled, she placed herself under a yoke in earnest, her breast was in thy mouth for three years; in spite of the increasing dirtiness of thy habits, her heart felt no disgust, and she never said: 'What is that I do here?' When thou didst go to school to be instructed in writing, she followed thee every day with bread and beer from thy house. Now thou art a full-grown man, thou hast taken a wife, thou hast provided thyself with a house; bear always in mind the pains of thy birth and the care for thy education that thy mother lavished on thee, that her anger may not rise up against thee, and that she lift not her hands to God, for he will hear her complaint!| The whole of the book does not rise to this level, but we find in it several maxims which appear to be popular proverbs, as for instance: |He who hates idleness will come without being called;| |A good walker comes to his journey's end without needing to hasten;| or, |The ox which goes at the head of the flock and leads the others to pasture is but an animal like his fellows.| Towards the end, the son Khonshotpu, weary of such a lengthy exhortation to wisdom, interrupts his father roughly: |Do not everlastingly speak of thy merits, I have heard enough of thy deeds;| whereupon Ani resignedly restrains himself from further speech, and a final parable gives us the motive of his resignation: |This is the likeness of the man who knows the strength of his arm. The nursling who is in the arms of his mother cares only for being suckled; but no sooner has he found his mouth than he cries: 'Give me bread!'|
It is, perhaps, difficult for us to imagine an Egyptian in love repeating madrigals to his mistress,* for we cannot easily realise that the hard and blackened bodies we see in our museums have once been men and women loving and beloved in their own day.
* The remains of Egyptian amatory literature have been collected, translated, and commentated on by Maspero. They have been preserved in two papyri, one of which is at Turin, the other in the British Museum. The first of these appears to be a sort of dialogue in which the trees of a garden boast one after another of the beauty of a woman, and discourse of the love-scenes which took place under their shadow.
The feeling which they entertained one for another had none of the reticence or delicacy of our love: they went straight to the point, and the language in which, they expressed themselves is sometimes too coarse for our taste. The manners and customs of daily life among the Egyptians tended to blunt in them the feelings of modesty and refinement to which our civilization has accustomed us. Their children went about without clothes, or, at any rate, wore none until the age of puberty. Owing to the climate, both men and women left the upper part of the body more or less uncovered, or wore fabrics of a transparent nature. In the towns, the servants who moved about their masters or his guests had merely a narrow loin-cloth tied round their hips; while in the country, the peasants dispensed with even this covering, and the women tucked up their garments when at work so as to move more freely. The religious teaching and the ceremonies connected with their worship drew the attention of the faithful to the unveiled human form of their gods, and the hieroglyphs themselves contained pictures which shock our sense of propriety. Hence it came about that the young girl who was demanded in marriage had no idea, like the maiden of to-day, of the vague delights of an ideal union. The physical side was impressed upon her mind, and she was well aware of the full meaning of her consent. Her lover, separated from her by her disapproving parents, thus expresses the grief which overwhelms him: |I desire to lie down in my chamber, -- for I am sick on thy account, -- and the neighbours come to visit me. -- Ah! if my sister but came with them, -- she would show the physicians what ailed me, -- for she knows my sickness!| Even while he thus complains, he sees her in his imagination, and his spirit visits the places she frequents: |The villa of my sister, -- (a pool is before the house), -- the door opens suddenly, -- and my sister passes out in wrath. -- Ah! why am I not the porter, -- that she might give me her orders! -- I should at least hear her voice, even were she angry, -- and I, like a little boy, full of fear before her!| Meantime the young girl sighs in vain for |her brother, the beloved of her heart,| and all that charmed her before has now ceased to please her. |I went to prepare my snare, my cage and the covert for my trap -- for all the birds of Puanit alight upon Egypt, redolent with perfume; -- he who flies foremost of the flock is attracted by my worm, bringing odours from Puanit, -- its claws full of incense. -- But my heart is with thee, and desires that we should trap them together, -- I with thee, alone, and that thou shouldest be able to hear the sad cry of my perfumed bird, -- there near to me, close to me, I will make ready my trap, -- O my beautiful friend, thou who goest to the field of the well-beloved!| The latter, however, is slow to appear, the day passes away, the evening comes on: |The cry of the goose resounds -- which is caught by the worm-bait, -- but thy love removes me far from the bird, and I am unable to deliver myself from it; I will carry off my net, and what shall I say to my mother, -- when I shall have returned to her? -- Every day I come back laden with spoil, -- but to-day I have not been able to set my trap, -- for thy love makes me its prisoner!| |The goose flies away, alights, -- it has greeted the barns with its cry; -- the flock of birds increases on the river, but I leave them alone and think only of thy love, -- for my heart is bound to thy heart -- and I cannot tear myself away from thy beauty.| Her mother probably gave her a scolding, but she hardly minds it, and in the retirement of her chamber never wearies of thinking of her brother, and of passionately crying for him: |O my beautiful friend! I yearn to be with thee as thy wife -- and that thou shouldest go whither thou wishest with thine arm upon my arm, -- for then I will repeat to my heart, which is in thy breast, my supplications. -- If my great brother does not come to-night, -- I am as those who lie in the tomb -- for thou, art thou not health and life, -- he who transfers the joys of thy health to my heart which seeks thee?| The hours pass away and he does not come, and already |the voice of the turtle-dove speaks, -- it says: 'Behold, the dawn is here, alas! what is to become of me?' Thou, thou art the bird, thou callest me, -- and I find my brother in his chamber, -- and my heart is rejoiced to see him! -- I will never go away again, my hand will remain in thy hand, -- and when I wander forth, I will go with thee into the most beautiful places, -- happy in that he makes me the foremost of women -- and that he does not break my heart.| We should like to quote the whole of it, but the text is mutilated, and we are unable to fill in the blanks. It is, nevertheless, one of those products of the Egyptian mind which it would have been easy for us to appreciate from beginning to end, without effort and almost without explanation. The passion in it finds expression in such sincere and simple language as to render rhetorical ornament needless, and one can trace in it, therefore, nothing of the artificial colouring which would limit it to a particular place or time. It translates a universal sentiment into the common language of humanity, and the hieroglyphic groups need only to be put into the corresponding words of any modern tongue to bring home to the reader their full force and intensity. We might compare it with those popular songs which are now being collected in our provinces before the peasantry have forgotten them altogether: the artlessness of some of the expressions, the boldness of the imagery, the awkwardness and somewhat abrupt character of some of the passages, communicate to both that wild charm which we miss in the most perfect specimens of our modern love-poets.
END OF VOL. V.