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George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.
powers she acknowledged as her suzerain.  She had now (about B.C. 650) for above twenty years been fought over by the two chief kingdoms of the earth—­each of them had traversed with huge armies, as many as five or six times, the Nile valley from one extremity to the other; the cities had been half ruined, harvest after harvest destroyed, trees cut down, temples rifled, homesteads burnt, villas plundered.  Thebes, the Hundred-gated, probably for many ages quite the most magnificent city in the world, had become a by-word for desolation (Nahum iii. 8, 9); Memphis, Heliopolis, Tanis, Sais, Mendes, Bubastis, Heracleopolis, Hermopolis; Crocodilopolis, had been taken and retaken repeatedly; the old buildings and monuments had been allowed to fall into decay; no king had been firmly enough established on his throne to undertake the erection of any but insignificant new ones.  Egypt was “fallen, fallen, fallen—­fallen from her high estate;” an apathy, not unlike the stillness of death, brooded over her; literature was silent, art extinct; hope of recovery can scarcely have lingered in many bosoms.  As events proved, the vital spark was not actually fled; but the keenest observer would scarcely have ventured to predict, at any time between B.C. 750 and B.C. 650, such a revival as marked the period between B.C. 650 and B.C. 530.

XXII.

THE CORPSE COMES TO LIFE AGAIN—­PSAMATIK I. AND HIS SON NECO.

When a country has sunk so gradually, so persistently, and for so long a series of years as Egypt had now been sinking, if there is a revival, it must almost necessarily come from without.  The corpse cannot rise without assistance—­the expiring patient cannot cure himself.  All the vital powers being sapped, all the energies having departed, the Valley of the Shadow of Death having been entered, nothing can arrest dissolution but some foreign stock, some blood not yet vitiated, some “saviour” sent by Divine providence from outside the nation (Isa. xix. 20), to recall the expiring life, to revivify the paralyzed frame, to infuse fresh energy into it, and to make it once more live, breathe, act, think, assert itself.  Yet the saviour must not be altogether from without.  He must not be a conqueror, for conquest necessarily weakens and depresses; he must not be too remote in blood, or he will lack the power fully to understand and sympathize with the nation which he is to restore, and without true understanding and true sympathy he can effect nothing; he must not be a stranger to the nation’s recent history, or he will make mistakes that will be irremediable.  What is wanted is a scion of a foreign stock, connected by marriage and otherwise with the nation that he is to regenerate, and well acquainted with its circumstances, character, position, history, virtues, weaknesses.  No entirely new man can answer to these requirements; he must be found, if he is to be found at all, among the principal men of the time, whose lot has for some considerable period been cast in with the State which is to be renovated.

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