It was at about this time that Herodotus, the earliest Greek historian, the Father of History, as he has been called, visited Egypt in pursuance of his plan of gathering information for his great work. He was a young man, probably not far from thirty years of age (for he was born between the dates of the battles of Marathon and Thermopylae). He travelled through the land as far as Elephantine, viewing with his observant eyes the wonders with which the “Story of Egypt” has been so much occupied; and he described them with the enthusiasm that we have occasionally noted. He saw the battle-field on which Inarus had just been defeated—the ground strewn with the skulls and other bones of the slain; he made his longest stay at Memphis, then at the acme of its greatness; he visited the quarries on the east of the Nile whence the stone had been dug for the pyramids, and he gazed upon the great monuments themselves, on the opposite side of the stream. We have seen that he visited Lake Moeris, and examined the famous Labyrinth, which he thought even more wonderful than the pyramids themselves. Finally, he sailed away for Tyre, and Egypt was again closed to travellers from Greece.
A second period of tranquillity followed, which covered the space of about half a century. Nothing is known of Egypt during this interval; and it might have been thought that she had grown contented with her lot, and that her aspirations after independence were over. For fifty years she had made no sign. Even the troubled time between the death of Artaxerxes I. and the accession of Darius II. had not tempted her to strike a blow for freedom. But still she was, in reality, irreconcilable. She was biding her time, and preparing herself for a last desperate effort.
In B.C. 406 or 405, towards the close of the reign of Darius Nothus, the third rebellion of Egypt against Persia broke out. A native of Mendes, by name Nepheritis, or more properly Nefaa-rut, raised the banner of independence, and commenced a war, which must have lasted for some years, but which terminated in the expulsion of the Persian garrison, and the reestablishment of the throne of the Pharaohs. It is unfortunate that no ancient authority gives any account of the struggle. We only know that, after a time, the power of Nefaa-rut was established; that Persia left him in undisturbed possession of Egypt, and that he reigned quietly for the space of six years, employing himself in the repair and restoration of the temple of Ammon at Karnak. Nothing that can be called a revival, or renaissance, distinguished his reign; and we must view his success rather as the result of Persian weakness, than of his own energy. His revolt, however, inaugurated a period of independence, which lasted about sixty years, and which threw over the last years of the doomed monarchy a gleam of sunshine, that for a brief space recalled the glories of earlier and happier ages.