Ancient Egypt eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.
grand temple of Phthah at Memphis, and made sport of the image.  He burnt the statues of the Cabeiri, which he found in another temple.  He scourged the priests of Apis, and massacred in the streets those Egyptians who were keeping the festival.  Altogether, his object was, if the informants of Herodotus are to be believed, to pour contempt and contumely on the Egyptian religion, and to insult the religious feelings of the entire people.

On the other hand, we learn from a contemporary inscription, that Cambyses so far conformed to Egyptian usages as to take a “throne-name,” after the pattern of the ancient Pharaohs; that he cleared the temple of Neith at Sais of the foreigners who had taken possession of it; that he entrusted the care of the temple to an Egyptian officer of high standing; and that he was actually himself initiated into the mysteries of the goddess.  Perhaps we ought not to be greatly surprised at these contradictions.  Cambyses had the iconoclastic spirit strong in him, and, under excitement, took a pleasure in showing his abhorrence of Egyptian superstitions.  But he was not always under excitement—­he enjoyed lucid intervals, during which he was actuated by the spirit of an administrator and a statesman.  Having in many ways greatly exasperated the Egyptians against his rule, he thought it prudent, ere he quitted the country, to soothe the feelings which he had so deeply wounded, and conciliate the priest-class, to which he had given such dire offence.  Hence his politic concessions to public feeling at Sais, his Initiation into the mysteries of Neith, his assumption of a throne-name, and his restoration of the temple of Sais to religious uses.  And the policy of conciliation, which he thus inaugurated, was continued by his successor, Darius.  Darius built, or repaired, the temple of Ammon, in the oasis of El Khargeh, and made many acknowledgments of the deities of Egypt; when an Apis-Bull died early in his reign, he offered a reward of a hundred talents for the discovery of a new Apis; and he proposed to adorn the temple of Ammon at Thebes with a new obelisk.  At the same time, in his administration he carefully considered the interests of Egypt, which he entrusted to a certain Aryandes as satrap; he re-opened the canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, for the encouragement of Egyptian commerce; he kept up the numbers of the Egyptian fleet; in his arrangement of the satrapies, he placed no greater burthen on Egypt than it was well able to bear; and he seems to have honoured Egypt by his occasional presence.  He failed, however, to allay the discontent, and even hatred, which the outrages of Cambyses had aroused; they still remained indelibly impressed on the Egyptian mind; the Persian rule was detested; and in sullen dissatisfaction the entire nation awaited an opportunity of reclaiming its independence and flinging off the accursed yoke.


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Ancient Egypt from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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