So far, Queen Taia succeeded in introducing her religion into Egypt while her husband was alive. At his death she found herself regent for her son, or, at any rate, associated with him upon the throne, and saw that a fresh opportunity for pushing her religious views offered itself. Amenhotep IV. was of a most extraordinary physique and physiognomy. His appearance was rather that of a woman than of a man; he had a slanting forehead, a long aquiline nose, a flexible projecting mouth, and a strongly developed chin. His neck, which is represented as most unusually long, seems scarcely equal to the support of his head; and his spindle shanks seem ill adapted to sustain the weight of his over-corpulent frame. He readily yielded himself to his mother’s influence, and completed her work in the manner which has been already described. As Thebes opposed itself to his reforms, he deserted it, withdrew his court to Tel-el-Amarna, and there raised the temples, palaces, and other monuments, in a “very advanced” style of art, which may be seen at the present day.
[Illustration: HEAD OF AMENHOTEP IV. (KHUENATEN).]
Amenhotep also introduced certain changes into the court ceremonial. He surrounded himself with officials of foreign race, probably kinsmen of his mother, and required from them an open display of submission and servility which Egyptian courts had not witnessed previously. An abject prostration was enforced on all, while the king posed before his courtiers as a benevolent god, who showered down his gifts upon them from a superior sphere, since his greatness did not permit a closer contact. He was himself the “Light of the Solar Disk,” an apaugasma, or “Light proceeding from Light;” it behoved him to imitate the Sun-god, and perpetually bestow his gifts on men, but it behoved them to veil their faces from his radiance and receive his bounty prostrate in the dust beneath him.
The peculiar views of Khuen-Aten, or Amenhotep IV., were maintained by the two or three succeeding kings, who had short and disturbed reigns. After them there arose a king called Horus, or Har-em-hebi, who utterly swept away the “Disk-worshippers,” ruined their new city, obliterated their names, mutilated their monuments, and restored the ancient religion of the Egyptians to its former place as the religion, not only of the people, but of the court. Henceforth, what was called “heresy” ceased to show itself in the land.
BEGINNING OF THE DECLINE OF EGYPT.
The internal troubles connected with the “Disk-worship” had for about forty years distracted the attention of the Egyptians from their Asiatic possessions; and this circumstance had favoured the development of a highly important power in Western Asia. The Hittites, whose motto was “reculer pour mieux sauter,” having withdrawn themselves from Syria during the time of the Egyptian attacks, retaining, perhaps, their