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Title: History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 11 (of 12)
Author: Rappoport, S.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 11 (of 12)" ***

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From 330 B.C. to the Present Time

By S. RAPPOPORT, Doctor of Philosophy, Basel; Member of the Ecole
Langues Orientales, Paris; Russian, German, French Orientalist and


Containing over Twelve Hundred Colored Plates and Illustrations



[Illustration: Spines]

[Illustration: Cover]

[Illustration: Frontispiece]

Dam at Aswan

[Illustration: 001.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

[Illustration: 002.jpg PAGE IMAGE]



_Augustus remodels the government of Egypt--A new calendar
introduced--Egypt surveyed--Dissension between Jews and Greeks at
Alexandria--Strabo's visit--The Egyptian religion at Rome--Wise
administration of Tiberius--The rise of the Therapeutæ--Lake
Mæris destroyed--The origin of Chemistry--The fable of the
Phoenix--Christianity introduced--Fiscal reforms under Galba--Vespasian
in Egypt--Fall of Jerusalem--The Nile Canal restored--Hadrian's voyage
up the Nile--Death of Antinous--Christians and Gnostics--Astrology and
Astronomy--Roman roads in Egypt--Commerce and Sports--The Growth
of Christianity--Severus visits Egypt--The massacre of the
Alexandrians--Ammonius Saccas and the Alexandrian Platonists--The
School of Origen--Rise of Controversy--Decline of Commerce--Zenobia
in Syria--Growing importance of the Arabs--Revolt and recapture of
Alexandria--Persecution of the Christians under Diocletian--Introduction
of the Manichean heresy._

_Constantine the Great converted--Privileges of the clergy--Dogmatic
disputes--Council of Nicæa and the first Nicene Creed--Athanasian
and Arian controversies--Founding of Constantinople--Decline
of Alexandria--Imperial appointments in the Church--Religious
riots--Triumphs of Athanasius--Persecution by Bishop George of
Cappadocia--Early mission work--Development of the monastic
system--Text of the Bible--The monks and military service--Saracenic
encroachments--Theodosius overthrows Paganism--Destruction of the Great
Library--Pagan and Christian literature--Story of Hypatia--The Arabs
defeat the Romans--The Koptic New Testament--Egypt separated from
Rome--The Council of Chalcedon--Paganism restored in Upper Egypt--The
Henoticon--The writings of Hierocles--Relations with Persia--Inroads of
the Arabs--Justinian's fiscal reforms--Coinage restored--The Persians
enter Egypt. The Life of Muhammed--Amr conquers Egypt--The legend of
Omar and the Great Library--The founding of Fostât--The Christians
taxed--Muhammedan oppression in Egypt--The Ommayad and Abbasid
dynasties--Caliph Harun er-Rashid--Turkish bodyguards--Rise of the
Tulunite Dynasty--Office of Prince of Princes--Reign of Muhammed
el-Ikshid--War with Byzantium--Fatimite Caliphs--The Ismailians and
Mahdism--Reign of Mustanssir--Turkish Rapacity--End of the Fatimite

[Illustration: 003.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_The Roman dominion on the Nile: Settlement of the Egyptian frontiers:
Religious developments: Rebellions._

Augustus began his reign in Egypt in B.C. 30 by ordering all the statues
of Antony, of which there were more than fifty ornamenting the various
public buildings of the city, to be broken to pieces; and it is said
he had the meanness to receive a bribe of one thousand talents from
Archibus, a friend of Cleopatra, that the queen's statues might be
left standing. It seems to have been part of his kingcraft to give the
offices of greatest trust to men of low birth, who were at the same time
well aware that they owed their employments to their seeming want of
ambition. Thus the government of Egypt, the greatest and richest of the
provinces, was given to Cornelius Gallus.

Before the fall of the republic the senate had given the command of the
provinces to members of their own body only; and therefore Augustus, not
wishing to alter the law, obtained from the senate for himself all those
governments which he meant to give to men of lower rank. By this legal
fiction, these equestrian prefects were answerable for their conduct to
nobody but the emperor on a petition, and they could not be sued at law
before the senate for their misdeeds. But he made an exception in the
case of Egypt. While on the one hand in that province he gave to the
prefect's edicts the force of law, on the other he allowed him to be
cited before the senate, though appointed by himself. The power thus
given to the senate they never ventured to use, and the prefect of Egypt
was never punished or removed but by the emperor. Under the prefect was
the chief justice of the province, who heard himself, or by deputy, all
causes except those which were reserved for the decision of the emperor
in person. These last were decided by a second judge, or in modern
language a chancellor, as they were too numerous and too trifling to be
taken to Rome. Under these judges were numerous freedmen of the emperor,
and clerks entrusted with affairs of greater and less weight. Of the
native magistrates the chief were the keeper of the records, the police
judge, the prefect of the night, and the _Exegetes_, or interpreter of
the Egyptian law, who was allowed to wear a purple robe like a Roman
magistrate. But these Egyptian magistrates were never treated as
citizens; they were barbarians, little better than slaves, and only
raised to the rank of the emperor's freedmen.

Augustus showed not a little jealousy in the rest of the laws by which
his new province was to be governed. While other conquered cities
usually had a senate or municipal form of government granted to them,
no city in Egypt was allowed that privilege, which, by teaching the
citizens the art of governing themselves and the advantages of union,
might have made them less at the mercy of their masters. He not only
gave the command of the kingdom to a man below the rank of a senator,
but ordered that no senator should even be allowed to set foot in Egypt
without leave from himself; and centuries later, when the weakness of
the country had led the emperors to soften some of the other stern laws
of Augustus, this was still strictly enforced.

Among other changes then brought in by the Romans was the use of a fixed
year in all civil reckonings. The Egyptians, for all the common purposes
of life, called the day of the heliacal rising of the dogstar, about our
18th of July, their new year's day, and the husbandman marked it with
religious ceremonies as the time when the Nile began to overflow; while
for all civil purposes, and dates of kings' reigns, they used a year of
three hundred and sixty-five days, which, of course, had a movable
new year's day. But by the orders of Augustus all public deeds were
henceforth dated by the new year of three hundred and sixty-five days
and a quarter, which was named, after Julius Cæsar, the Julian year. The
years from B.C. 24 were made to begin on the 29th of August, the day
on which the movable new year's day then happened to fall, and were
numbered from the year following the last of Cleopatra, as from the
first year of the reign of Augustus. But notwithstanding the many
advantages of the Julian year, which was used throughout Europe for
sixteen centuries, till its faultiness was pointed out by Pope Gregory
XIII., the Egyptian astronomers and mathematicians distrusted it from
the first, and chose to stick to their old year, in which there could
be no mistake about its length. Thus there were at the same time three
years and three new year's days in use in Egypt: one about the 18th
of July, used by the common people; one on the 29th of August, used by
order of the emperor; and one movable, used by the astronomers.

By the conquest of Egypt, Augustus was also able to extend another of
the plans of his late uncle. Julius Cæsar, whose powerful mind found all
sciences within its grasp, had ordered a survey to be taken of the whole
of the Roman provinces, and the length of all the roads to be measured
for the use of the tax-gatherers and of the army; and Augustus was
now able to add Egypt to the survey. Polyclitus was employed on this
southern portion of the empire; and, after thirty-two years from its
beginning by Julius, the measurement of nearly the whole known world was
finished and reported to the senate.

At Alexandria Augustus was visited by Herod, who hastened to beg of
him those portions of his kingdom which Antony had given to Cleopatra.
Augustus received him as a friend; gave him back the territory which
Antony had taken from him, and added the province of Samaria and the
free cities on the coast. He also gave to him the body of four hundred
Gauls, who formed part of the Egyptian army and had been Cleopatra's
bodyguard. He thus removed from Alexandria the last remains of the
Gallic mercenaries, of whom the Ptolemies had usually had a troop in
their service.

[Illustration: 007.jpg PLAN OF ALEXANDRIA]

Augustus visited the royal burial-place to see the body of Alexander,
and devoutly added a golden crown and a garland of flowers to the other
ornaments on the sarcophagus of the Macedonian. But he would take no
pains to please either the Alexandrians or Egyptians; he despised them
both. When asked if he would not like to see the Alexandrian monarchs
lying in their mummy-cases in the same tomb, he answered: "No, I came to
see the king, not dead men," His contempt for Cleopatra and her father
made him forget the great qualities of Ptolemy Soter. So when he was
at Memphis he refused to humour the national prejudice of two thousand
years' standing by visiting the bull Apis. Of the former conquerors,
Cambyses had stabbed the sacred bull, Alexander had sacrificed to it;
had Augustus had the violent temper of either, he would have copied
Cambyses. The Egyptians always found the treatment of the sacred bull a
foretaste of what they were themselves to receive from their sovereigns.

The Greeks of Alexandria, who had for some time past very unwillingly
yielded to the Jews the right of citizenship, now urged upon Augustus
that it should no longer be granted. Augustus, however, had received
great services from the Jews, and at once refused the prayer; and he set
up in Alexandria an inscription granting to the Jews the full privileges
of Macedonians, which they claimed and had hitherto enjoyed under
the Ptolemies. They were allowed their own magistrates and courts
of justice, with the free exercise of their own religion; and soon
afterwards, when their high priest died, they were allowed as usual
to choose his successor. The Greek Jews of Alexandria were indeed very
important, both from their numbers and their learning; they spread over
Syria and Asia Minor: they had a synagogue in Jerusalem in common with
the Jews of Cyrene and Libya; and we find that one of the chief teachers
of Christianity after the apostles was Apollos, the Alexandrian, who
preached the new religion in Ephesus, in Corinth, and in Crete.

On his return to Rome, Augustus carried with him the whole of the royal
treasure; and though perhaps there might have been less gold and silver
than usual in the palace of the Ptolemies, still it was so large a sum
that when, upon the establishment of peace over all the world, the rate
of interest upon loans fell in Rome, and the price of land rose, the
change was thought to have been caused by the money from Alexandria.
At the same time were carried away the valuable jewels, furniture, and
ornaments, which had been handed down from father to son, with the
crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. These were drawn in waggons through the
streets of Rome in triumph; and with them were shown in chains to the
wondering crowd Alexander Helius and Cleopatra Selene, the children of
Cleopatra and Antony.

Augustus threatened a severe punishment to the Alexandrians in the
building of a new capital. Only four miles from the Canopic or eastern
gate of Alexandria he laid out the plan of his new city of Meopolis, on
the spot where he had routed Mark Antony's forces. Here he began
several large temples, and removed to them the public sacrifices and the
priesthood from the temples of Alexandria. But the work was carried
no farther, and soon abandoned; and the only change made by it in
Alexandria was that the temple of Serapis and the other temples were for
a time deserted.

The rest of the world had long been used to see their finest works of
art carried away by their conquerors; and the Egyptians soon learned
that, if any of the monuments of which they were so justly proud were
to be left to them, it would only be because they were too heavy to be
moved by the Roman engineers. Beside many other smaller Egyptian works,
two of the large obelisks, which even now ornament Rome, were carried
away by Augustus, that of Thutmosis IV., which stands in the Piazza del
Popolo, and that of Psammetichus, on Monte Citorio.

Cornelius Gallus, the prefect of Egypt, seems either to have
misunderstood, or soon forgotten, the terms of his appointment. He set
up statues of himself in the cities of Egypt, and, copying the kings
of the country, he carved his name and deeds upon the pyramids. On this
Augustus recalled him, and he killed himself to avoid punishment. The
emperor's wish to check the tyranny of the prefects and tax-gatherers
was strongly marked in the case of the champion fighting-cock. The
Alexandrians bred these birds with great care, and eagerly watched their
battles in the theatre. A powerful cock, that had hitherto slain all
its rivals and always strutted over the table unconquered, had gained a
great name in the city; and this bird, Eros, a tax-gatherer, roasted
and ate. Augustus, on hearing of this insult to the people, sent for the
man, and, on his owning what he had done, ordered him to be crucified.
Three legions and nine cohorts were found force enough to keep this
great kingdom in quiet obedience to their new masters; and when
Heroopolis revolted, and afterwards when a rebellion broke out in the
Thebaid against the Roman tax-gatherers, these risings were easily
crushed. The spirit of the nation, both of the Greeks and Egyptians,
seems to have been wholly broken; and Petronius, who succeeded
Cornelius Gallus, found no difficulty in putting down a rising of the

The canals, through which the overflowing waters of the Nile were
carried to the more distant fields, were, of course, each year more or
less blocked up by the same mud which made the fields fruitful; and the
clearing of these canals was one of the greatest boons that the monarch
could bestow upon the tillers of the soil. This had often been neglected
by the less powerful and less prudent kings of Egypt, in whose reigns
the husbandman believed that Heaven in its displeasure withheld part
of the wished-for overflow; but Petronius employed the leisure of his
soldiers on this wise and benevolent work. In order better to understand
the rise of the Nile, to fix the amount of the land-tax, and more fairly
to regulate the overflow through the canals, the Nilometer on the Island
of Elephantine was at this time made.

[Illustration: 011.jpg THE NILOMETER AT ELEPHANTINE]

It was under Ælius Gallus, the third prefect, that Egypt was visited by
Strabo, the most careful and judicious of all the ancient travellers. He
had come to study mathematics, astronomy, and geography in the museum,
under the successors of Euclid, Eratosthenes, and Hipparchus. He
accompanied the prefect in a march to Syênê (Aswan), the border town,
and he has left us a valuable account of the state of the country at
that time. Alexandria was the chief object that engaged his attention.
Its two harbours held more ships than were to be seen in any other port
in the world, and its export trade was thought greater than that of all
Italy. The docks on each side of the causeway, and the ship canal, from
the harbour of Eunostus to the Mareotic Lake, were full of bustle and
activity. The palace or citadel on the promontory of Lochias on one side
of the great harbour was as striking an object as the lighthouse on the
other. The temples and palaces covered a space of ground equal to more
than one-fourth part of the city, and the suburbs reached even beyond
the Mareotic Lake. Among the chief buildings were the Soma, which held
the bodies of Alexander and of the Ptolemies; the court of justice;
the museum of philosophy, which had been rebuilt since the burning by
Cæsar's soldiers; the exchange, crowded with merchants, the temple of
Neptune, and Mark Antony's fortress, called the Timonium, on a point of
land which jutted into the harbour; the Cæsarium, or new palace; and the
great temple of Serapis, which was on the western side of the city, and
was the largest and most ornamented of all these buildings. Farther off
was the beautiful gymnasium for wrestlers and boxers, with its porticoes
of a stadium in length, where the citizens used to meet in public
assembly. From the top of the temple of Pan, which rose like a
sugar-loaf in the middle of the city, and was mounted by a winding
staircase, the whole of this remarkable capital might be seen spread
out before the eye. On the east of the city was the circus, for
chariot races, and on the west lay the public gardens and pale green
palm-groves, and the Necropolis ornamenting the roadside with tombs for
miles along the seashore. Other tombs were in the catacombs underground
on the same side of the city. The banks of the Mareotic Lake were
fringed with vineyards, which bore the famed wine of the same name,
and which formed a pleasant contrast with the burning whiteness of the
desert beyond. The canal from the lake to the Nile marked its course
through the plain by the greater freshness of the green along its banks.
In the distance were the new buildings of Augustus' city of Nicopolis.
The arts of Greece and the wealth of Egypt had united to adorn the
capital of the Ptolemies. Heliopolis, the ancient seat of Egyptian
learning, had never been wholly repaired since its siege by Cambyses,
and was then almost a deserted city. Its schools were empty, its
teachers silent; but the houses in which Plato and his friend Eudoxus
were said to have dwelt and studied were pointed out to the traveller,
to warm his love of knowledge and encourage him in the pursuit of
virtue. Memphis was the second city in Egypt, while Thebes and Abydos,
the former capitals, had fallen to the size and rank of villages. At
Memphis Strabo saw the bull-fights in the circus, and was allowed to
look at the bull Apis through a window of his stable. At Crocodilopolis
he saw the sacred crocodile caught on the banks of the lake and fed
with cakes and wine. Ptolemais, which was at first only an encampment of
Greek soldiers, had risen under the sovereigns to whom it owed its name
to be the largest city in the Thebaid, and scarcely less than Memphis.
It was built wholly by the Greeks, and, like Alexandria, it was under
Greek laws, while the other cities in Egypt were under Egyptian laws and
magistrates. It was situated between Panopolis and Abydos; but, while
the temples of Thebes, which were built so many centuries earlier, are
still standing in awful grandeur, scarcely a trace of this Greek city
can be found in the villages of El Menshieh and Girgeh (Cerkasoros),
which now stand on the spot. Strabo and the Roman generals did not
forget to visit the broken colossal statue of Amenhôthes, near Thebes,
which sent forth its musical sounds every morning, as the sun, rising
over the Arabian hills, first shone upon its face; but this inquiring
traveller could not make up his mind whether the music came from the
statue, or the base, or the people around it. He ended his tour with
watching the sunshine at the bottom of the astronomical well at Syênê,
which, on the longest day, is exactly under the sun's northern edge, and
with admiring the skill of the boatmen who shot down the cataracts in
their wicker boats, for the amusement of the Roman generals.

In the earlier periods of Egyptian history Ethiopia was peopled, or, at
least, governed, by a race of men, whom, as they spoke the same language
and worshipped the same gods as their neighbours of Upper Egypt, we must
call the Kopts. But the Arabs, under the name of Troglodyte, and other
tribes, had made an early settlement on the African side of the Red Sea.
So numerous were they in Upper Egypt that in the time of Strabo half the
population of the city of Koptos were Arabs; they were the camel-drivers
and carriers for the Theban merchants in the trade across the desert.
Some of the conquests of Ramses had been over that nation in southern
Ethiopia, and the Arab power must have further risen after the defeat of
the Ethiopians by Euergetes I. Ethiopia in the time of Augustus was held
by Arabs; a race who thought peace a state of disgraceful idleness,
and war the only employment worthy of men; and who made frequent hasty
inroads into Nubia, and sometimes into Egypt. They fought for plunder,
not for conquest, and usually retreated as quickly as they came,
with such booty as they laid their hands on. To use words which were
proverbial while the Nile swarmed with crocodiles, "They did as the dogs
do, they drank and ran away;" and the Romans found it necessary to place
a body of troops near the cataracts of Syênê to stop their marching
northward and laying waste the Thebaid. While the larger part of the
Roman legions was withdrawn into Arabia on an unsuccessful quest for
treasure, a body of thirty thousand of these men, whom we may call
either Arabs, from their blood and language, or Ethiopians, from their
country, marched northward into Egypt, and overpowered the three
Roman cohorts at Elephantine, Syênê, and Philas. Badly armed and badly
trained, they were led on by the generals of Candace, Queen of Napata,
to the fourth cataract. They were, however, easily driven back when
Gallus led against them an army of ten thousand men, and drove them to
Ethiopian Pselchis, now remaining as the modern village of Dakkeh. There
he defeated them again, and took the city by storm. From Pselchis he
marched across the Nubian desert two hundred and fifty miles to Premnis,
on the northerly bend of the river, and then made himself master of
Napata, the capital. A guard was at the moment left in the country to
check any future inroads; but the Romans made no attempts to hold it.

[Illustration: 016.jpg ON THE EDGE OF THE DESERT]

Of the state of the Ethiopie Arabs under Queen Candace we learn but
little from this hasty inroad; but some of the tribes must have been
very far from the barbarians that, from their ignorance of the arts
of war, the Romans judged them to be. Those nearest to the Egyptian
frontiers, the Troglodyte and Blemmyes, were unsettled, wandering, and
plundering; but the inhabitants of Meroë were of a more civilised race.
The Jews had settled in southern Ethiopia in large numbers, and for
a long time; Solomon's trade had made them acquainted with Adule and
Auxum; some of them were employed in the highest offices, and must have
brought with them the arts of civilised life. A few years later (Acts
VIII. 27) we meet with a Jewish eunuch, the treasurer of Queen Candace,
travelling with some pomp from Ethiopia to the religious festivals at
Jerusalem. The Egyptian coins of Augustus and his successors are all
Greek; the conquest of the country by the Romans made no change in its
language. Though the chief part of the population spoke Koptic, it was
still a Greek province of the Roman empire; the decrees of the prefects
of Alexandria and of the upper provinces were written in Greek; and
every Roman traveller, who, like a schoolboy, has scratched his name
upon the foot of the musical statue of Amenhôthes, to let the world know
the extent of his travels, has helped to prove that the Roman government
of the country was carried on in the Greek language. The coins often
bear the eagle and thunderbolt on one side, while on the other is the
emperor's head, with his name and titles; and, after a few years, they
are all dated with the year of the emperor's reign. In the earliest he
is styled a Son of God, in imitation of the Egyptian title of Son of the
Sun. After Egypt lost its liberty, we no longer find any gold coinage in
the country; that metal, with everything else that was most costly, was
carried away to pay the Roman tribute. This was chiefly taken in money,
except, indeed, the tax on grain, which the Egyptian kings had always
received in kind, and which was still gathered in the same way, and
each year shipped to Rome, to be distributed among the idle poor of
that great city. At this time it amounted to twenty millions of bushels,
which was four times what was levied in the reign of Philadelphus.
The trade to the east was increasing, but as yet not large. About
one hundred and twenty small vessels sailed every year to India from
MyosHormos, which was now the chief port on the Red Sea.

No change was made in the Egyptian religion by this change of masters;
and, though the means of the priests were lessened, they still carried
forward the buildings which were in progress, and even began new ones.
The small temple of Isis, at Tentyra, behind the great temple of Hâthor,
was either built or finished in this reign, and it was dedicated to the
goddess, and to the honour of the emperor as Jupiter Liberator, in a
Greek inscription on the cornice, in the thirty-first year of the reign,
when Publius Octavius was prefect of the province.

[Illustration: 018.jpg A KOPTIC MAIDEN]

The large temple at Talmis, in Nubia, was also then built, though not
wholly finished; and we find the name of Augustus at Philæ, on some of
the additions to the temple of Isis, which had been built in the reign
of Philadelphus. In the hieroglyphical inscriptions on these temples,
Augustus is called Autocrator Cæsar, and is styled Son of the Sun, King
of Upper and Lower Egypt, with the other titles which had always been
given by the priests to the Ptolemies and their own native sovereigns
for so many centuries. These claims were evidently unknown in Rome,
where the modesty of Augustus was almost proverbial.

The Greeks had at all times been forward in owning the Egyptians as
their teachers in religion; and in the dog Cerberus, the judge Minos,
the boat of Charon, and the river Styx of their mythology, we see a
clear proof that it was in Egypt that the Greeks gained their faint
glimpse of the immortality of the soul, a day of judgment, and a future
state of rewards and punishments; and, now that Rome was in close
intercourse with Egypt, the Romans were equally ready to borrow thence
their religious ceremonies. They brought to Rome the Egyptian opinions
with the statues of the gods. They ran into the new superstition to
avoid the painful uneasiness of believing nothing, and, though the
Romans ridiculed their own gods, they believed in those of Egypt. So
fashionable was the worship of Isis and Serapis becoming in Italy, that
Augustus made a law that no Egyptian ceremonies should enter the city
or even the suburbs of Rome. His subjects might copy the luxuries, the
follies, and the vices of the Alexandrians, but not the gloomy devotion
of the Egyptians. But the spread of opinions was not so checked;
even Virgil taught the doctrine of the Egyptian millennium, or the
resurrection from the dead when the thousand years were ended; and the
cripple asking for alms in the streets of Rome would beg in the name of
the holy Osiris.

Egypt felt no change on the death of Augustus. The province was well
governed during the whole of the reign of Tiberius, and the Alexandrians
completed the beautiful temple to his honour, named the Sebaste, or
Cæsar's Temple. It stood by the side of the harbour, and was surrounded
with a sacred grove. It was ornamented with porticoes, and fitted up
with libraries, paintings, and statues, and was the most lofty building
in the city. In front of this temple they set up two ancient obelisks,
which had been made by Thutmosis III. and carved by Ramses II., and
which, like the other monuments of the Theban kings, have outlived
all the temples and palaces of their Greek and Roman successors. These
obelisks are now generally known as "Cleopatra's Needles." One of them,
in 1878, was taken to London and set up on the Thames Embankment; the
other was soon afterward brought to New York, and is now in Central Park
in that city. It is sixty-seven feet high to its sharpened apex, and
seven feet, seven inches in diameter at its base. On its face are
deeply incised inscriptions in hieroglyphic character, giving the names
Thutmosis III., Ramses II., and Seti II.

[Illustration: 022b.jpg FRAGMENTS IN WOOD PAINTED]

The harsh justice with which Tiberius began his reign was at Rome soon
changed into a cruel tyranny; but in the provinces it was only felt as
a check to the injustice of the prefects. On one occasion, when Æmilius
Rectus sent home from Egypt a larger amount of taxes than was usual,
he hoped that his zeal would be praised by Tiberius. But the emperor's
message to the prefect was as stern as it was humane: "I should wish my
sheep to be sheared, but not to be flayed." On the death of one of
the prefects, there was found among his property at Rome a statue of
Menelaus, carved in Ethiopian obsidian, which had been used in the
religious ceremonies in the temple of Heliopolis, and Tiberius returned
it to the priests of that city as its rightful owners. Another proof of
the equal justice with which this province was governed was to be seen
in the buildings then carried on by the priests in Upper Egypt. We find
the name of Tiberius carved in hieroglyphics on additions or repairs
made to the temples at Thebes, at Aphroditopolis, at Berenicê, on the
Red Sea, at Philæ, and at the Greek city of Parembole, in Nubia. The
great portico was at this time added to the temple at Tentyra, with an
inscription dedicating it to the goddess in Greek and in hieroglyphics.
As a building is often the work of years, while sculpture is only the
work of weeks, so the fashion of the former is always far less changing
than that of the latter. The sculptures on the walls of this beautiful
portico are crowded and graceless; while, on the other hand, the
building itself has the same grand simplicity and massive strength that
we find in the older temples of Upper Egypt.

We cannot but admire the zeal of the Egyptians by whom this work
was then finished. They were treated as slaves by their Greek
fellow-countrymen; their houses were ransacked every third year by
military authority in search of arms; they could have had no help from
their Roman masters, who only drained the province of its wealth; and
the temple had perhaps never been heard of by the emperor, who could
have been little aware that the most lasting monument of his reign was
being raised in the distant province of Egypt.


The priests of the other parts of the country sent gifts out of their
poverty in aid of this pious work; and among the figures on the walls
we see those of forty cities, from Semneh, at the second cataract, to
Memphis and Saïs, in the Delta, each presenting an offering to the god
of the temple.

In the third year of this reign Germanicus Cæsar, who, much against his
will, had been sent into the East as governor, found time to leave his
own province, and to snatch a hasty view of the time-honoured buildings
of Egypt. Descending the river to Thebes, and, while gazing on the
huge remains of the temples, he asked the priests to read to him the
hieroglyphical writing on the walls. He was told that it recounted the
greatness of the country in the time of King Ramses, when there were
seven hundred thousand Egyptians of an age to bear arms; and that
with these troops Ramses had conquered the Libyans, Ethiopians, Medes,
Persians, Bactrians, Scythians, Syrians, Armenians, Cappadocians,
Bithynians, and Lycians. He was also told the tributes laid upon each
of those nations; the weight of gold and silver, the number of chariots
and horses, the gifts of ivory and scents for the temples, and the
quantity of grain which the conquered provinces sent to feed the
population of Thebes. After listening to the musical statue of
Amenhothes, Germanicus went on to Elephantine and Syênê; and, on his
return, he turned aside to the pyramids and the Lake of Mceris, which
regulated the overflow of the Nile on the neighbouring fields. At
Memphis, Germanicus consulted the sacred bull Apis as to his future
fortune, and met with an unfavourable answer. The manner of consulting
Apis was for the visitor to hold out some food in his hand, and the
answer was understood to be favourable if the bull turned his head
to eat, but unfavourable if he looked another way. When Germanicus
accordingly held out a handful of grain, the well-fed animal turned his
head sullenly towards the other side of his stall; and on the death of
this young prince, which shortly followed, the Egyptians did not
forget to praise the bull's foresight. This blameless and seemingly
praiseworthy visit of Germanicus did not, however, escape the notice
of the jealous Tiberius. He had been guilty of gaining the love of the
people by walking about without guards, in a plain Greek dress, and of
lowering the price of grain in a famine by opening the public granaries;
and Tiberius sternly reproached him with breaking the known law of
Augustus, by which no Roman citizen of consular or even of equestrian
rank might enter Alexandria without leave from the emperor.

There were at this time about a million of Jews in Egypt. In Alexandria
they seem to have been about one-third of the population, as they
formed the majority in two wards out of the five into which the city was
divided. They lived under their own elders and Sanhedrim, going up at
their solemn feasts to worship in their own temple at Onion; but, from
their mixing with the Greeks, they had become less strict than their
Hebrew brethren in their observance of the traditions. Some few of them,
however, held themselves in obedience to the Sanhedrim in Jerusalem, and
looked upon the temple of Jerusalem as the only Jewish temple; and these
men were in the habit of sending an embassy on the stated solemn feasts
of the nation to offer the appointed sacrifices and prayers to Jahveh
in the holy city on their behalf. But though the decree by Cæsar, which
declared that the Jews were Alexandrian citizens, was engraved on a
pillar in the city, yet they were by no means treated as such, either by
the government, or by the Greeks, or by the Egyptians.

[Illustration: 027.jpg ON THE BANKS OF THE NILE.]

When, during the famine, the public granaries seemed unable to supply
the whole city with food, even the humane Germanicus ordered that the
Jews, like the Egyptians, should have no share of the gift. They were
despised even by the Egyptians themselves, who, to insult them, said
that the wicked god Typhon had two sons, Hierosolymus and Judæus, and
that from these the Jews were descended.

In the neighbourhood of Alexandria, on a hill near the shores of the
Lake Mareotis, was a little colony of Jews, who, joining their own
religion with the mystical opinions and gloomy habits of the Egyptians,
have left us one of the earliest known examples of the monastic life.
They bore the name of Therapeutæ. They had left, says Philo, their
worldly wealth to their families or friends; they had forsaken wives,
children, brethren, parents, and the society of men, to bury themselves
in solitude and pass their lives in the contemplation of the divine
essence. Seized by this heavenly love, they were eager to enter upon the
next world, as though they were already dead to this. Every one, whether
man or woman, lived alone in his cell or monastery, caring for neither
food nor raiment, but having his thoughts wholly turned to the Law and
the Prophets, or to sacred hymns of their own composing. They had their
God always in their thoughts, and even the broken sentences which they
uttered in their dreams were treasures of religious wisdom. They prayed
every morning at sunrise, and then spent the day in turning over the
sacred volumes, and the commentaries, which explained the allegories,
or pointed out a secondary meaning as hidden beneath the surface of even
the historical books of the Old Testament. At sunset they again prayed,
and then tasted their first and only meal. Selfdenial indeed was the
foundation of all their virtues. Some made only three meals in the week,
that their meditations might be more free; while others even attempted
to prolong their fast to the sixth day. During six days of the week they
saw nobody, not even one another. On the seventh day they met together
in the synagogue. Here they sat, each according to his age; the women
separated from the men. Each wore a plain, modest robe, which covered
the arms and hands, and they sat in silence while one of the elders
preached. As they studied the mystic powers of numbers, they thought the
number seven was a holy number, and that seven times seven made a great
week, and hence they kept the fiftieth day as a solemn festival. On that
day they dined together, the men on one side and the women on the other.
The rushy papyrus formed the couches; bread was their only meat, water
their drink, salt the seasoning, and cresses the delicacy. They would
keep no slaves, saying that all men were born equal. Nobody spoke,
unless it was to propose a question out of the Old Testament, or to
answer the question of another. The feast ended with a hymn of praise.

[Illustration: 029.jpg BEDOUIN TENT IN THE DESERT]

The ascetic Jews of Palestine, the Essenes on the banks of the Dead Sea,
by no means, according to Philo, thus quitted the active duties of life;
and it would seem that the Therapeutas rather borrowed their customs
from the country in which they had settled, than from any sects of the
Jewish nation. Some classes of the Egyptian priesthood had always held
the same views of their religious duties. These Egyptian monks slept on
a hard bed of palm branches, with a still harder wooden pillow for the
head; they were plain in their dress, slow in walking, spare in diet,
and scarcely allowed themselves to smile. They washed thrice a day, and
prayed as often; at sunrise, at noon, and at sunset. They often fasted
from animal food, and at all times refused many meats as unclean.
They passed their lives alone, either in study or wrapped in religious
thought. They never met one another but at set times, and were seldom
seen by strangers. Thus, leaving to others the pleasures, wealth, and
lesser prizes of this life, they received from them in return what most
men value higher, namely, honour, fame, and power.

The Romans, like the Greeks, feeling but little partiality in favour
of their own gods, were rarely guilty of intolerance against those of
others; and would hardly have checked the introduction of a new religion
unless it made its followers worse citizens. But in Rome, where
every act of its civil or military authorities was accompanied with a
religious rite, any slight towards the gods was a slight towards the
magistrate; many devout Romans had begun to keep holy the seventh day;
and Egypt was now so closely joined to Italy that the Roman senate made
a new law against the Egyptian and Jewish superstitions, and, in A.D.
19, banished to Sardinia four thousand men who were found guilty of
being Jews.

Egypt had lost with its liberties its gold coinage, and it was now
made to feel a further proof of being a conquered country in having its
silver much alloyed with copper. But Tiberius, in the tenth year of his
reign, altogether stopped the Alexandrian mint, as well as those of the
other cities which occasionally coined; and after this year we find no
more coins, but the few with the head and name of Augustus Cæsar, which
seem hardly to have been meant for money, but to commemorate on some
peculiar occasions the emperor's adoption by his stepfather. The Nubian
gold mines were probably by this time wholly deserted; they had been so
far worked out as to be no longer profitable. For fifteen hundred years,
ever since Ethiopia was conquered by Thebes, wages and prices had been
higher in Egypt than in the neighbouring countries. But this was now no
longer the case. Egypt had been getting poorer during the reigns of the
latter Ptolemies; and by this time it is probable that both wages and
prices were higher in Rome.

It seems to have been usual to change the prefect of Egypt every few
years, and the prefect-elect was often sent to Alexandria to wait
till his predecessor's term of years had ended. Thus in this reign of
twenty-three years Æmilius Rectus was succeeded by Vetrasius Pollio;
and on his death Tiberius gave the government to his freedman Iberus.
During the last five years Egypt was under the able but stern government
of Flaccus Avillius, whose name is carved on the temple of Tentyra with
that of the emperor. He was a man who united all those qualities of
prudent forethought, with prompt execution and attention to business,
which was so necessary in controlling the irritable Alexandrians, who
were liable to be fired into rebellion by the smallest spark. Justice
was administered fairly; the great were not allowed to tyrannise over
the poor, nor the people to meet in tumultuous mobs; and the legions
were regularly paid, so that they had no excuse for plundering the

On the death of Tiberius, in A.D. 37, the old quarrel again broke out
between Jews and Greeks. The Alexandrians were not slow in learning the
feelings of his successor, Caius, or Caligula, towards the Jews, nor
in turning against them the new law that the emperor's statue should
be honoured in every temple of the empire. They had very unwillingly
yielded a half-obedience to the law of Augustus that the Jews should
still be allowed the privileges of citizenship; and, as soon as they
heard that Caligula was to be worshipped in every temple of the empire,
they denounced the Jews as traitors and rebels, who refused so to honour
the emperor in their synagogues. It happened, unfortunately, that their
countryman, King Agrippa, at this time came to Alexandria. He had full
leave from the emperor to touch there, as being the quickest and most
certain way of making the voyage from Rome to the seat of his own
government. Indeed, the Alexandrian voyage had another merit in the eyes
of a Jew; for, whereas wooden water-vessels were declared by the Law to
be unclean, an exception was made by their tradition in favour of the
larger size of the water-wells in the Alexandrian ships. Agrippa had
seen Egypt before, on his way to Rome, and he meant to make no stay
there; but, though he landed purposely after dark, and with no pomp or
show, he seems to have raised the anger of the prefect Flaccus, who felt
jealous at any man of higher rank than himself coming into his province.
The Greeks fell into the prefect's humour, and during the stay of
Agrippa in Alexandria they lampooned him in songs and ballads, of which
the raillery was not of the most delicate kind. They mocked him by
leading about the streets a poor idiot dressed up with a paper crown and
a reed for a sceptre, in ridicule of his rather doubtful right to the
style of royalty.

As these insults towards the emperor's friend passed wholly unchecked
by the prefect, the Greeks next assaulted the Jews in the streets and
market-place, attacked their houses, rooted up the groves of trees
around their synagogues, and tore down the decree by which the
privileges of citizenship had been confirmed to them. The Greeks then
proceeded to set up by force a statue of the emperor in each Jewish
synagogue, as if the new decree had included those places of worship
among the temples, and, not finding statues enough, they made use of the
statues of the Ptolemies, which they carried away from the gymnasium
for that purpose. During the last reign, under the stern government
of Tiberius, Flaccus had governed with justice and prudence, but under
Caligula he seemed to have lost all judgment in his zeal against the
Jews. When the riots in the streets could no longer be overlooked,
instead of defending the injured party, he issued a decree in which
he styled the Jews foreigners; thus at one word robbing them of their
privileges and condemning them unheard. By this the Greeks were hurried
forward into further acts of injustice, and the Jews of resistance. But
the Jews were the weaker party: they were overpowered, and all driven
into one ward, and four hundred of their houses in the other wards were
plundered, and the spoil divided as if taken in war. They were stoned,
and even burnt in the streets, if they ventured forth to buy food for
their families. Flaccus seized and scourged in the theatre thirty-eight
of their venerable councillors, and, to show them that they were no
longer citizens, the punishment was inflicted by the hands of Egyptian
executioners. While the city was in this state of riot, the Greeks gave
out that the Jews were concealing arms; and Flaccus, to give them a
fresh proof that they had lost the rights of citizenship, ordered that
their houses should be forcibly entered and searched by a centurion and
a band of soldiers.

During their troubles the Jews had not been allowed to complain to the
emperor, or to send an embassy to Rome to make known their grievances.
But the Jewish King Agrippa, who was on his way from Rome to his
kingdom, forwarded to Caligula the complaints of his countrymen, the
Jews, with an account of the rebellious state of Alexandria. The riots,
it is true, had been wholly raised by the prefect's zeal in setting up
the emperor's statue in the synagogues to be worshipped by the Jews, and
in carrying into effect the emperor's decree; but, as he had not been
able to keep his province quiet, it was necessary that he should
be recalled, and punished for his want of success. To have found it
necessary to call out the troops was of course a fault in a governor;
but doubly so at a time and in a province where a successful general
might so easily become a formidable rebel. Accordingly, a centurion,
with a trusty cohort of soldiers, was sent from Rome for the recall
of the prefect. On approaching the flat coast of Egypt, they kept
the vessel in deep water till sunset, and then entered the harbour of
Alexandria in the dark. The centurion, on landing, met with a freedman
of the emperor, from whom he learned that the prefect was then at
supper, entertaining a large company of friends. The freedman led the
cohort quietly into the palace, into the very room where Flaccus was
sitting at table; and the first tidings that he heard of his government
being disapproved of in Rome was his finding himself a prisoner in his
own palace. The friends stood motionless with surprise, the centurion
produced the emperor's order for what he was doing, and as no resistance
was attempted all passed off quietly; Flaccus was hurried on board the
vessel then at anchor in the harbour on the same evening and immediately
taken to Rome.

It so happened that on the night that Flaccus was seized, the Jews
had met together to celebrate their autumnal feast, the feast of the
Tabernacles: not as in former years with joy and pomp, but in fear,
in grief, and in prayer. Their chief men were in prison, their nation
smarting under its wrongs and in daily fear of fresh cruelties; and it
was not without alarm that they heard the noise of soldiers moving to
and fro through the city, and the heavy tread of the guards marching by
torchlight from the camp to the palace. But their fear was soon turned
into joy when they heard that Flaccus, the author of all their wrongs,
was already a prisoner on board the vessel in the harbour; and they
gave glory to God, not, says Philo, that their enemy was going to be
punished, but because their own sufferings were at an end.

The Jews then, having had leave given them by the prefect, sent
an embassy to Rome, at the head of which was Philo, the platonic
philosopher, who was to lay their grievances before the emperor, and to
beg for redress. The Greeks also at the same time sent their embassy,
at the head of which was the learned grammarian Apion, who was to accuse
the Jews of not worshipping the statue of the emperor, and to argue that
they had no right to the same privileges of citizenship with those who
boasted of their Macedonian blood. But, as the Jews did not deny the
charge that was brought against them, Caligula would hear nothing that
they had to say; and Philo withdrew with the remark, "Though the emperor
is against us, God will be our friend."

We learn the sad tale of the Jews' suffering under Caligula from the
pages of their own historian only. But though Philo may have felt and
written as one of the sufferers, his truth is undoubted. He was a man
of unblemished character, and the writer of greatest learning and of the
greatest note at that time in Alexandria; being also of a great age, he
well deserved the honour of being sent on the embassy to Caligula. He
was in religion a Jew, in his philosophy a platonist, and by birth an
Egyptian: and in his numerous writings we may trace the three sources
from which he drew his opinions. He is always devotional and in earnest,
full of pure and lofty thoughts, and often eloquent. His fondness for
the mystical properties of numbers, and for finding an allegory or
secondary meaning in the plainest narrative, seems borrowed from the
Egyptians. According to the Eastern proverb every word in a wise book
has seventy-two meanings; and this mode of interpretation was called
into use by the necessity which the Jews felt of making the Old
Testament speak a meaning more agreeable to their modern views of
religion. In Philo's speculative theology he seems to have borrowed less
from Moses than from the abstractions of Plato, whose shadowy hints he
has embodied in a more solid form. He was the first Jewish writer
that applied to the Deity the mystical notion of the Egyptians, that
everything perfect was of three parts. Philo's writings are valuable as
showing the steps by which the philosophy of Greece may be traced
from the writings of Plato to those of Justin Martyr and Clemens
Alexandrinus. They give us the earliest example of how the mystical
interpretation of the Scriptures was formed into a system, by which
every text was made to unfold some important philosophic or religious
truth to the learned student, at the same time that to the unlearned
reader it conveyed only the simple historic fact.

The Hellenistic Jews, while suffering under severe political
disabilities, had taken up a high literary position in Alexandria, and
had forced their opinions into the notice of the Greeks. The glowing
earnestness of their philosophy, now put forward in a platonic dress,
and heir improved style, approaching even classic elegance, laced their
writings on a lofty eminence far above anything which the cold, lifeless
grammarians of the museum were then producing. Apion, who went to Rome
to plead against Philo, was a native of the Great Oasis, but as he was
born of Greek parents, he claimed and received the title and privileges
of an Alexandrian, which he denied to the Jews who were born in the
city. He had studied under Didymus and Apollonius and Euphranor, and was
one of the most laborious of the grammarians and editors of Homer. All
his writings are now lost. Some of them were attacks upon the Jews and
their religion, calling in question the truth of the Jewish history
and the justice of that nation's claim to high antiquity; and to these
attacks we owe Josephus' _Answer_, in which several valuable fragments
of history are saved by being quoted against the pagans in support of
the Old Testament. One of his works was his _Ægyptiaca_, an account of
what he thought most curious in Egypt. But his learned trifling is now
lost, and nothing remains of it but his account of the meeting between
Androclus and the lion, which took place in the amphitheatre at Rome
when Apion was there on his embassy. Androclus was a runaway slave, who,
when retaken, was brought to Rome to be thrown before an African lion
for the amusement of the citizens, and as a punishment for his flight.
But the fierce and hungry beast, instead of tearing him to pieces,
wagged his tail at him, and licked his feet. It seems that the slave,
when he fled from his master, had gained the friendship of the lion in
the Libyan desert, first by pulling a thorn out of his foot, and then
by living three years with him in a cave; and, when both were brought
in chains to Rome, Androclus found a grateful friend in the amphitheatre
where he thought to have met with a cruel death.

We may for a moment leave our history, to bid a last farewell to the
family of the Ptolemies. Augustus, after leading Selene, the daughter
of Cleopatra and Antony, through the streets of Rome in his triumph, had
given her in marriage to the younger Juba, the historian of Africa; and
about the same time he gave to the husband the kingdom of Mauritania,
the inheritance of his father. His son Ptolemy succeeded him on the
throne, but was soon turned out of his kingdom. We trace the last of
the Ptolemies in his travels through Greece and Asia Minor by the
inscriptions remaining to his honour. The citizens of Xanthus in Lycia
set up a monument to him; and at Athens his statue was placed beside
that of Philadelphus in the gymnasium of Ptolemy, near the temple of
Theseus, where he was honoured as of founder's kin. He was put to death
by Caligula. Drusilla, another grandchild of Cleopatra and Antony,
married Antonius Felix, the procurator of Judæa, after the death of his
first wife, who was also named Drusilla. These are the last notices that
we meet with of the royal family of Egypt.

As soon as the news of Caligula's death (A.D. 41) reached Egypt, the
joy of the Jews knew no bounds. They at once flew to arms to revenge
themselves on the Alexandrians, whose streets were again the seat of
civil war. The governor did what he could to quiet both parties, but
was not wholly successful till the decree of the new emperor reached
Alexandria. In this Claudius granted to the Jews the full rights of
citizenship, which they had enjoyed under the Ptolemies, and which had
been allowed by Augustus; he left them to choose their own high priest,
to enjoy their own religion without hindrance, and he repealed the laws
of Caligula under which they had been groaning. At this time the Jewish
alabarch in Egypt was Demetrius, a man of wealth and high birth, who had
married Mariamne, the daughter of the elder Agrippa.

[Illustration: 041.jpg EGYPTIAN THRESHING-MACHINE]

The government under Claudius was mild and just, at least as far as
a government could be in which every tax-gatherer, every military
governor, and every sub-prefect was supposed to enrich himself by his
appointment. Every Roman officer, from the general down to the lowest
tribune, claimed the right of travelling through the country free of
expense, and seizing the carts and cattle of the villagers to carry him
forward to the next town, under the pretence of being a courier on the
public service. But we have a decree of the ninth year of this reign,
carved on the temple in the Great Oasis, in which Cneius Capito, the
prefect of Egypt, endeavours to put a stop to this injustice. He orders
that no traveller shall have the privilege of a courier unless he has a
proper warrant, and that then he shall only claim a free lodging; that
clerks in the villages shall keep a register of all that is taken on
account of the public service; and that if anybody make an unjust claim
he shall pay four times the amount to the informer and six times the
amount to the emperor. But royal decrees could do little or nothing
where there were no judges to enforce them; and the people of Upper
Egypt must have felt this law as a cruel insult when they were told that
they might take up their complaints to Basilides, at Alexandria. The
employment of the informer is a full acknowledgment of the weakness
of this absolute government, and that the prefect had not the power
to enforce his own decrees; and, when we compare this law with that
of Alexander on his conquest of the country, we have no difficulty in
seeing why Egypt rose under the Ptolemies and sunk under the selfish
policy of Augustus.

Claudius was somewhat of a scholar and an author; he wrote several
volumes both in Greek and in Latin. The former he might perhaps think
would be chiefly valued in Alexandria; and when he founded a new college
in that city, called after himself the Claudian Museum, he ordered that
on given days every year his history of Carthage should be publicly
read in one museum, and his history of Italy in the other; thus securing
during his reign an attention to his writings which their merits alone
would not have gained.

Under the government of Claudius the Egyptians were again allowed to
coin money; and in his first year begins that historically important
series in which every coin is dated with the year of the emperor's
reign. The coins of the Ptolemies were strictly Greek in their
workmanship, and the few Egyptian characters that we see upon them are
so much altered by the classic taste of the die-engraver that we hardly
know them again. But it is far otherwise with the coins of the emperors,
which are covered with the ornaments, characters, and religious
ceremonies of the native Egyptians; and, though the style of art is
often bad, they are scarcely equalled by any series of coins whatever in
the service they render to the historian.

It was in this reign that the route through Egypt to India first became
really known to the Greeks and Romans. The historian Pliny, who died in
79 A.D., has left us a contemporary account of these early voyages. "It
will not be amiss," he says in his _Natural History_, "to set forth the
whole of the route from Egypt, which has been stated to us of late, upon
information on which reliance may be placed and is here published for
the first time. The subject is one well worthy of our notice, seeing
that in no year does India drain our empire of less than five hundred
and fifty millions of sesterces [or two million dollars], giving back
her own wares in exchange, which are sold among us at fully one hundred
times their cost price.

"Two miles distant from Alexandria is the town of Heliopolis. The
distance thence to Koptos, up the Nile, is three hundred and eight
miles; the voyage is performed, when the Etesian winds are blowing, in
twelve days. From Koptos the journey is made with the aid of camels,
stations being arranged at intervals for the supply of fresh water. The
first of these stations is called Hydreuma, and is distant twenty-two
miles; the second is situate on a mountain at a distance of one day's
journey from the last; the third is at a second Hydreuma, distant from
Koptos ninety-five miles; the fourth is on a mountain; the next to that
is another Hydreuma, that of Apollo, and is distant from Koptos one
hundred and eighty-four miles; after which there is another on a
mountain; there is then another station at a place called the New
Hydreuma, distant from Koptos two hundred and thirty miles; and next
to it there is another called the Old Hydreuma, where a detachment
is always on guard, with a caravansary that affords lodging for two
thousand persons. The last is distant from the New Hydreuma seven
miles. After leaving it, we come to the city of Berenicê, situate upon
a harbour of the Red Sea, and distant from Koptos two hundred and
fifty-seven miles. The greater part of this distance is generally
travelled by night, on account of the extreme heat, the day being spent
at the stations; in consequence of which it takes twelve days to perform
the whole journey from Koptos to Berenicê.

"Passengers generally set sail at midsummer before the rising of the
Dog-star, or else immediately after, and in about thirty days arrive
at Ocelis in Arabia, or else at Cane, in the region which bears
frankincense. To those who are bound for India, Ocelis is the best place
for embarkation. If the wind called Hippolus happens to be blowing,
it is possible to arrive in forty days at the nearest mart of India,
Muziris by name [the modern Mangalore]. This, however, is not a very
desirable place for disembarkation, on account of the pirates which
frequent its vicinity, where they occupy a place, Mtrias; nor, in fact,
is it very rich in articles of merchandise. Besides, the roadstead for
shipping is a considerable distance from the shore, and the cargoes
have to be conveyed in boats, either for loading or discharging. At the
moment that I am writing these pages," continues Pliny, "the name of
the king of the place is Cælobotras. Another part, and a much more
convenient one, is that which lies in the territory of the people called
Neacyndi, Barace by name. Here King Pandian used to reign, dwelling at a
considerable distance from the mart in the interior, at a city known
as Modiera. The district from which pepper is carried down to Barace
in boats hollowed out of a single tree, is known as Cottonara. None of
these names of nations, ports, and cities are to be found in any of
the former writers, from which circumstance it would appear that the
localities have since changed their names. Travellers set sail from
India on their return to Europe, at the beginning of the Egyptian month
Tybus, which is our December, or, at all events, before the sixth day of
the Egyptian month Mechir, the same as our ides of January: if they do
this, they can go and return in the same year. They set sail from
India with a south-east wind, and, upon entering the Red Sea, catch the
south-west or south."

The places on the Indian coast which the Egyptian merchant vessels then
reached are verified from the coins found there; and as we know the
course of the trade-wind by which they arrived, we also know the part of
Africa where they left the shore and braved the dangers of the ocean.
A hoard of Roman gold coins of these reigns has been dug up in our own
days near Calicut, under the roots of a banyan-tree. It had been there
buried by an Alexandrian merchant on his arrival from this voyage, and
left safe under the cover of the sacred tree to await his return from a
second journey. But he died before his return, and his secret died with
him. The products of the Indian trade were chiefly silk, diamonds, and
other precious stones, ginger, spices, and some scents. The state of
Ethiopia was then such that no trade came down the Nile to Syênê;
and the produce of southern Africa was brought by coasting vessels to
Berenicê. These products were ivory, rhinoceros teeth, hippopotamus
skins, tortoise shell, apes, monkeys, and slaves, a list which throws
a sidelight both on the pursuits of the natives and the tastes of the
ultimate purchasers.

[Illustration: 047.jpg AN ARAB GIRL]

The Romans in most cases collected the revenues of a province by means
of a publican or farmer, to whom the taxes were let by auction; but such
was the importance of Egypt that the same jealousy which made them think
its government too great to be trusted to a man of high rank, made them
think its revenues too large to be trusted to one farmer. The smaller
branches of the Egyptian revenue were, however, let out as usual, and
even the collection of the customs of the whole of the Red Sea was not
thought too much to trust to one citizen. Annius Plocamus, who farmed
them in this reign, had a little fleet under his command to collect them
with; and, tempted either by trade or plunder, his ships were sometimes
as far out as the south coast of Arabia. On one occasion one of his
freedmen in the command of a vessel was carried by a north wind into
the open ocean, and after being fifteen days at sea found himself on the
coast of Ceylon. This island was not then wholly new to the geographers
of Egypt and Europe. It had been heard of by the pilots in the voyage of
Alexander the Great; Eratosthenes had given it a place in his map; and
it had often been reached from Africa by the sailors of the Red Sea in
wickerwork boats made of papyrus; but this was the first time it had
been visited by a European.

In the neighbourhood of the above-mentioned road from Koptos to Berenicê
were the porphyritic quarries and the emerald mines, which were briskly
worked under the Emperor Claudius. The mountain was now named the
Claudian Mountain.

As this route for trade became known, the geographers began to
understand the wide space that separates India from Africa. Hitherto,
notwithstanding a few voyages of discovery, it had been the common
opinion that Persia was in the neighbourhood of Ethiopia. The Greeks had
thought that the Nile rose in India, in opposition to the Jews, who said
that it was the river Gibon of the garden of Eden, which made a circuit
round the whole of the land of Cush, or Ethiopia. The names of these
countries got misused accordingly; and even after the mistake was
cleared up we sometimes find Ethiopia called India.

The Egyptian chemists were able to produce very bright dyes by methods
then unknown to Greece or Rome. They dipped the cloth first into a
liquid of one colour, called a mordant, to prepare it, and then into
a liquid of a second colour; and it came out dyed of a third colour,
unlike either of the former. The ink with which they wrote the name of
a deceased person on the mummy-cloth, like our own marking-ink, was made
with nitrate of silver. Their knowledge of chemistry was far greater
than that of their neighbours, and the science is even now named from
the country of its birth. The later Arabs called it Alchemia, _the
Egyptian art_, and hence our words alchemy and chemistry. So also
Naphtha, or _rock oil_, from the coast of the Red Sea; and Anthracite,
or _rock fuel_, from the coast of Syria, both bear Egyptian names.
To some Egyptian stones the Romans gave their own names; as the black
glassy obsidian from Nubia they called after Obsidius, who found it;
the black Tiberian marble with white spots, and the Augustan marble with
regular wavy veins, were both named after the emperors. Porphyry was
now used for statues for the first time, and sometimes to make a kind of
patchwork figure, in which the clothed parts were of the coloured stone,
while the head, hands, and feet were of white marble. And it was thought
that diamonds were nowhere to be found but in the Ethiopian gold mines.

Several kinds of wine were made in Egypt; some in the Arsinoïte nome on
the banks of the lake Mceris; and a poor Libyan wine at Antiplme on the
coast, a hundred miles from Alexandria. Wine had also been made in
Upper Egypt in small quantities a very long time, as we learn from the
monuments; but it was produced with difficulty and cost and was not
good; it was not valued by the Greeks. It was poor and thin, and drunk
only by those who were feverish and afraid of anything stronger. That
of Anthylla, to the east of Alexandria, was very much better. But better
still were the thick luscious Tæniotic and the mild delicate Mareotic
wines. This last was first grown at Plinthine, but afterwards on all the
banks of the lake Mareotis. The Mareotic wine was white and sweet and
thin, and very little heating or intoxicating. Horace had carelessly
said of Cleopatra that she was drunk with Mareotic wine; but Lucan, who
better knew its quality, says that the headstrong lady drank wine far
stronger than the Mareotic. Near Sebennytus three kinds of wine were
made; one bitter named Peuce, a second sparkling named Æthalon, and
the third Thasian, from a vine imported from Thasus. But none of these
Egyptian wines was thought equal to those of Greece and Italy. Nor were
they made in quantities large enough or cheap enough for the poor; and
here, as in other countries, the common people for their intoxicating
drink used beer or spirits made from barley.

[Illustration: 051.jpg FARMING IN EGYPT]

The Egyptian sour wine, however, made very good vinegar, and it was then
exported for sale in Rome. During this half-century that great national
work, the lake of Moeris, by which thousands of acres had been flooded
and made fertile, and the watering of the lower country regulated, was,
through the neglect of the embankments, at once destroyed. The latest
traveller who mentions it is Strabo, and the latest geographer Pomponius
Mela. By its means the province of Arsinoë was made one of the most
fruitful and beautiful spots in Egypt. Here only does the olive grow
wild. Here the vine will grow. And by the help of this embanked lake the
province was made yet more fruitful. But before Pliny wrote, the bank
had given way, the pentup waters had made for themselves a channel into
the lake now called Birket el Kurun, and the two small pyramids, which
had hitherto been surrounded by water, then stood on dry ground. Thus
was the country slowly going to ruin by the faults of the government,
and ignorance in the foreign rulers. But, on the other hand, the
beautiful temple of Latopolis, which had been begun under the Ptolemies,
was finished in this reign; and bears the name of Claudius with those of
some later emperors on its portico and walls.

In the Egyptian language the word for a year is _Bait_, which is also
the name of a bird. In hieroglyphics this word is spelt by a palm-branch
_Bai_ and the letter T, followed sometimes by a circle as a picture of
the year. Hence arose among a people fond of mystery and allegory a mode
of speaking of the year under the name of a palm-branch or of a bird;
and they formed a fable out of a mere confusion of words. The Greeks,
who were not slow to copy Egyptian mysticism, called this fabulous bird
the _Phoenix_ from their own name for the palm-tree. The end of any long
period of time they called the return of the phonix to earth. The Romans
borrowed the fable, though perhaps without understanding the allegory;
and in the seventh year of this reign, when the emperor celebrated the
secular games at Rome, at the end of the eighth century since the city
was built, it was said that the phoenix had come to Egypt and was thence
brought to Rome. This was in the consulship of Plautius and Vitellius;
and it would seem to be only from mistakes in the name that Pliny
places the event eleven years earlier, in the consulship of Plautius
and Papinius, and that Tacitus places it thirteen years earlier in the
consulship of Fabius and Vitellius. This fable is connected with some
of the remarkable epochs in Egyptian history. The story lost nothing by
travelling to a distance. In Rome it was said that this wonderful bird
was a native of Arabia, where it lived for five hundred years, that on
its death a grub came out of its body which in due time became a perfect
bird; and that the new phonix brought to Egypt the bones of its parent
in the nest of spices in which it had died, and laid them on the altar
in the temple of the sun in Heliopolis. It then returned to Arabia to
live in its turn for five hundred years, and die and give life again
to another as before. The Christians saw in this story a type of the
resurrection; and Clement, Bishop of Rome, quotes it as such in his
Epistle to the Corinthians.

We find the name of Claudius on several of the temples of Upper Egypt,
particularly on that of Apollinopolis Magna, and on the portico of the
great temples of Latopolis, which were being built in this reign.

In the beginning of the reign of Nero, 55 A.D., an Egyptian Jew,
who claimed to be listened to as a prophet, raised the minds of his
countrymen into a ferment of religious zeal by preaching about the
sufferings of their brethren in Judæa; and he was able to get together
a body of men, called in reproach the Sicarii, or _ruffians_, whose
numbers are variously stated at four thousand and thirty thousand,
whom he led out of Egypt to free the holy city from the bondage of the
heathen. But Felix, the Roman governor, led against them the garrison of
Jerusalem, and easily scattered the half-armed rabble. By such acts of
religious zeal on the part of the Jews they were again brought to blows
with the Greeks of Alexandria. The Macedonians, as the latter still
called themselves, had met in public assembly to send an embassy to
Rome, and some Jews who entered the meeting, which as citizens they had
a full right to do, were seized and ill-treated by them as spies. They
would perhaps have even been put to death if a large body of their
countrymen had not run to their rescue. The Jews attacked the assembled
Greeks with stones and lighted torches, and would have burned the
amphitheatre and all that were in it, if the prefect, Tiberius
Alexander, had not sent some of the elders of their own nation to calm
their angry feelings. But, though the mischief was stopped for a time,
it soon broke out again; and the prefect was forced to call out the
garrison of two Roman legions and five thousand Libyans before he
could re-establish peace in the city. The Jews were always the greatest
sufferers in these civil broils; and Josephus says that fifty thousand
of his countrymen were left dead in the streets of Alexandria. But this
number is very improbable, as the prefect was a friend to the Jewish
nation, and as the Roman legions were not withdrawn to the camp till
they had guarded the Jews in carrying away and burying the bodies of
their friends.

It was a natural policy on the part of the emperors to change a prefect
whenever his province was disturbed by rebellion, as we have seen in the
case of Flaccus, who was recalled by Caligula. It was easier to send a
new governor than to inquire into a wrong or to redress a grievance; and
accordingly in the next year C. Balbillus was sent from Rome as prefect
of Egypt. He reached Alexandria on the sixth day after leaving the
Straits of Sicily, which was spoken of as the quickest voyage known. The
Alexandrian ships were better built and better manned than any others,
and, as a greater number of vessels sailed every year between that port
and Puteoli on the coast of Italy than between any other two places, no
voyage was better understood or more quickly performed. They were out of
sight of land for five hundred miles between Syracuse and Cyrene. Hence
we see that the quickest rate of sailing, with a fair wind, was at that
time about one hundred and fifty miles in the twenty-four hours. But
these ships had very little power of bearing up against the wind; and
if it were contrary the voyage became tedious. If the captain on sailing
out of the port of Alexandria found the wind westerly, and was unable to
creep along the African coast to Cyrene, he stood over to the coast of
Asia Minor, in hopes of there finding a more favourable wind. If a storm
arose, he ran into the nearest port, perhaps in Crete, perhaps in Malta,
there to wait the return of fair weather. If winter then came on, he had
to lie by till spring. Thus a vessel laden with Egyptian wheat, leaving
Alexandria in September, after the harvest had been brought down to the
coast, would sometimes spend five months on its voyage from that port to
Puteoli. Such was the case with the ship bearing the children of Jove
as its figurehead, which picked up the Apostle Paul and the historian
Josephus when they had been wrecked together on the island of Malta; and
such perhaps would have been the case with the ship which they before
found on the coast of Lycia, had it been able to reach a safe harbour,
and not been wrecked at Malta.

[Illustration: 056.jpg EGYPTIAN THRESHING MACHINE]

The rocky island of Malta, with the largest and safest harbour in
the Mediterranean, was a natural place for ships to touch at between
Alexandria and Italy. Its population was made up of those races which
had sailed upon its waters first from Carthage and then from Alexandria;
it was a mixture of Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Græco-Egyptians. To
judge from the skulls turned up in the burial-places, the Egyptians
were the most numerous, and here as elsewhere the Egyptian superstitions
conquered and put down all the other superstitions. While the island was
under the Phoenicians, the coins had the head of the Sicilian goddess
on one side, and on the other the Egyptian trinity of Isis, Osiris, and
Nepthys. When it was under the Greek rule the head on the coins received
an Egyptian head-dress, and became that of the goddess Isis, and on the
other side of the coin was a winged figure of Osiris. It was at
this time governed by a Roman governor. The large temple, built with
barbarian rudeness, and ornamented with the Phoenician palm-branch, was
on somewhat of a Roman plan, with a circular end to every room. But it
was dedicated to the chief god of Egypt, and is even yet called by its
Greek name Hagia Chem, _the temple of Chem_. The little neighbouring
island of Cossyra, between Sicily and Carthage, also shows upon its
coins clear traces of its taste for Egyptian customs.

[Illustration: 057.jpg MALTESE COIN]

The first five years of this reign, the _quinquennium Neronis_, while
the emperor was under the tutorship of the philosopher Seneca, became in
Rome proverbial for good government, and on the coinage we see marks of
Egypt being equally well treated. In the third year we see on a coin the
queen sitting on a throne with the word _agreement_, as if to praise
the young emperor's good feeling in following the advice of his mother
Agrippina. On another the emperor is styled the young good genius, and
he is represented by the sacred basilisk crowned with the double crown
of Egypt. The new prefect, Balbillus, was an Asiatic Greek, and no doubt
received his Roman names of Tiberius Claudius on being made a freedman
of the late emperor. He governed the country mildly and justly; and
the grateful inhabitants declared that under him the Nile was more than
usually bountiful, and that its waters always rose to their just height.
But in the latter part of the reign the Egyptians smarted severely under
that cruel principle of a despotic monarchy that every prefect, every
sub-prefect, and even every deputy tax-gatherer, might be equally
despotic in his own department.

[Illustration: 058.jpg COIN OF COSSYRA]

On a coin of the thirteenth year of the reign of this ruler, we see a
ship with the word _emperor-bearer_, being that in which he then sailed
into Greece, or in which the Alexandrians thought that he would visit
their city. But if they had really hoped for his visit as a pleasure,
they must have thought it a danger escaped when they learned his
character; they must have been undeceived when the prefect Cæcinna
Tuscus was punished with banishment for venturing to bathe in the bath
which was meant for the emperor's use if he had come on his projected

During the first century and a half of Roman sway in Egypt the school
of Alexandria was nearly silent. We have a few poems by Leonides of
Alexandria, one of which is addressed to the Empress Poppæa, as the wife
of Jupiter, on his presenting a celestial globe to her on her birthday.
Pamphila wrote a miscellaneous history of entertaining stories, and her
lively, simple style makes us very much regret its loss. Chæremon, a
Stoic philosopher, had been, during the last reign, at the head of the
Alexandrian library, but he was removed to Rome as one of the tutors to
the young Nero.

[Illustration: 059.jpg COIN OF NERO]

He is ridiculed by Martial for writing in praise of death, when, from
age and poverty, he was less able to enjoy life. We still possess a
most curious though short account by him of the monastic habits of the
ancient Egyptians. He also wrote on hieroglyphics, and a small fragment
containing his opinion of the meanings of nineteen characters still
remains to us. But he is not always right; he thinks the characters were
used allegorically for thoughts, not for sounds; and fancies that the
priests used them to keep secret the real nature of the gods.

He was succeeded at the museum by his pupil Dionysius, who had the
charge of the library till the reign of Trajan. Dionysius was also
employed by the prefect as a secretary of state, or, in the language of
the day, secretary to the embassies, epistles, and answers. He was the
author of the _Periegesis_, and aimed at the rank of a poet by writing
a treatise on geography in heroic verse. From this work he is named
Dionysius Periegetes. While careful to remind us that his birthplace
Alexandria was a Macedonian city, he gives due honour to Egypt and the
Egyptians. There is no river, says he, equal to the Nile for carrying
fertility and adding to the happiness of the land. It divides Asia from
Libya, falling between rocks at Syênê, and then passing by the old and
famous city of Thebes, where Memnon every morning salutes his beloved
Aurora as she rises. On its banks dwells a rich and glorious race of
men, who were the first to cultivate the arts of life; the first to make
trial of the plough and sow their seed in a straight furrow; and the
first to map the heavens and trace the sloping path of the sun.

According to the traditions of the church, it was in this reign that
Christianity was first brought into Egypt by the Evangelist Mark, the
disciple of the Apostle Peter. Many were already craving for religious
food more real than the old superstitions. The Egyptian had been shaken
in his attachment to the sacred animals by Greek ridicule. The Greek had
been weakened in his belief of old Homer's gods by living with men
who had never heard of them. Both were dissatisfied with the scheme of
explaining the actions of their gods by means of allegory. The crumbling
away of the old opinions left men more fitted to receive the new
religion from Galilee. Mark's preaching converted crowds in Alexandria;
but, after a short stay, he returned to Rome, in about the eleventh
year of this reign, leaving Annianus to watch over the growing church.
Annianus is usually called the first bishop of Alexandria; and Eusebius,
who lived two hundred years later, has given us the names of his
successors in an unbroken chain. If we would inquire whether the early
converts to Christianity in Alexandria were Jews, Greeks, or Egyptians,
we have nothing to guide us but the names of these bishops. Annianus,
or Annaniah, as his name was written by the Arabic historians, was very
likely a Jew; indeed, the Evangelist Mark would begin by addressing
himself to the Jews, and would leave the care of the infant church to
one of his own nation. In the platonic Jews, Christianity found soil
so exactly suited to its reception that it is only by he dates that the
Thérapeute of Alexandria and their historian Philo are proved not to be
Christian; and, again, it was in the close union between the platonic
Jews and the platonists that Christianity found its easiest path to the
ears and hearts of the pagans. The bishops that followed seem to have
been Greek converts. Before the death of Annaniah, Jerusalem had been
destroyed by the Roman armies, and the Jews sunk in their own eyes
and in those of their fellow-citizens throughout the empire; hence the
second bishop of Alexandria was less likely to be of Hebrew blood; and
it was long before any Egyptians aimed at rank in the church. But though
the spread of Christianity was rapid, both among the Greeks and the
Egyptians, we must not hope to find any early traces of it in the
historians. It was at first embraced by the unlearned and the poor,
whose deeds and opinions are seldom mentioned in history; and we may
readily believe the scornful reproach of the unbelievers, that it was
chiefly received by the unfortunate, the unhappy, the despised, and the
sinful. When the white-robed priestesses of Ceres carried the sacred
basket through the streets of Alexandria, they cried out, "Sinners away,
or keep your eyes to the ground; keep your eyes to the ground!" When
the crier, standing on the steps of the portico in front of the great
temple, called upon the pagans to come near and join in the celebration
of their mysteries, he cried out, "All ye who are clean of hands and
pure of heart, come to the sacrifice; all ye who are guiltless in
thought and deed, come to the sacrifice."

But many a repentant sinner and humble spirit must have drawn back in
distrust from a summons which to him was so forbidding, and been glad
to hear the good tidings of mercy offered by Christianity to those who
labour and are heavy laden, and to the broken-hearted who would turn
away from their wickedness. While such were the chief followers of the
gospel, it was not likely to be much noticed by the historians; and we
must wait till it forced its way into the schools and the palace before
we shall find many traces of the rapidity with which it was spreading.

[Illustration: 063.jpg ETHIOPIAN ARABS]

During these reigns the Ethiopian Arabs kept up their irregular warfare
against the southern frontier. The tribe most dreaded were the Blemmyes,
an uncivilised people, described by the affrighted neighbours as having
no heads, but with eyes and mouth on the breast; and it was under that
name that the Arabs spread during each century farther and farther into
Egypt, separating the province from the more cultivated tribes of Upper
Ethiopia or Meroë. The cities along the banks of the Nile in Lower
Ethiopia, between Nubia and Meroë, were ruined by being in the debatable
land between the two nations. The early Greek travellers had counted
about twenty cities on each side of the Nile between Syênê and Meroë;
but when, in a moment of leisure, the Roman government proposed to
punish and stop the inroads of these troublesome neighbours, and sent
forward a tribune with a guard of soldiers, he reported on his return
that the whole country was a desert, and that there was scarcely a
city inhabited on either side of the Nile beyond Nubia. But he had not
marched very far. The interior of Africa was little known; and to seek
for the fountain of the Nile was another name for an impossible or
chimerical undertaking.

But Egypt itself was so quiet as not to need the presence of so large
a Roman force as usual to keep it in obedience; and when Vespasian, who
commanded Nero's armies in Syria, found the Jews more obstinate in their
rebellion and less easily crushed than he expected, the emperor sent the
young Titus to Alexandria, to lead to his father's assistance all the
troops that could be spared. Titus led into Palestine through Arabia two
legions, the Fifth and the Tenth, which were then in Egypt.

We find a temple of this reign in the oasis of Dakleh, or the Western
Oasis, which seems to have been a more flourishing spot in the time
of the Romans than when Egypt itself was better governed. It is so far
removed from the cities in the valley of the Nile that its position, and
even existence, was long unknown to Europeans, and to such hiding-places
as this many of the Egyptians fled, to be farther from the tyranny of
the Roman tax-gatherers.

Hitherto the Roman empire had descended for just one hundred years
through five emperors like a family inheritance; but, on the death of
Nero, the Julian and Claudian families were at an end, and Galba, who
was raised to the purple by the choice of the soldiers, endeavoured to
persuade the Romans and their dependent provinces that they had regained
their liberties. The Egyptians may have been puzzled by the word
_freedom_, then struck upon the coins by their foreign masters, but must
have been pleased to find it accompanied with a redress of grievances.

Galba began his reign with the praiseworthy endeavour of repairing the
injustice done by his cruel predecessor. He at once recalled the prefect
of Egypt, and appointed in his place Tiberius Julius Alexander, an
Alexandrian, a son of the former prefect of that name; and thus Egypt
was under the government of a native prefect. The peaceable situation of
the Great Oasis has saved a long Greek inscription of the decree which
was now issued in redress of the grievances suffered under Nero. It is
a proclamation by Julius Demetrius, the commander of the Oasis, quoting
the decree of Tiberius Julius Alexander, the new prefect of Egypt.

The prefect acknowledges that the loud complaints with which he was met
on entering upon his government were well founded, and he promises that
the unjust taxes shall cease; that nobody shall be forced to act as a
provincial tax-gatherer; that no debts shall be cancelled or sales made
void under the plea of money owing to the revenue; that no freeman shall
be thrown into prison for debt, unless it be a debt due to the
royal revenue, and that no private debt shall be made over to the
tax-gatherer, to be by him collected as a public debt; that no property
settled on the wife at marriage shall be seized for taxes due from the
husband; and that all new charges and claims which had grown up within
the last five years shall be repealed. In order to discourage informers,
whom the prefects had much employed, and by whom the families in
Alexandria were much harassed, and to whom he laid the great falling off
in the population of that city, he orders, that if anybody should
make three charges and fail in proving them, he shall forfeit half his
property and lose the right of bringing an action at law. The land had
always paid a tax in proportion to the number of acres overflowed and
manured by the waters of the Nile; and the husbandmen had latterly been
frightened by the double threat of a new measurement of the land, and of
making it at the same time pay according to the ancient registers of the
overflow when the canals had been more open and more acres flooded; but
the prefect promises that there shall be no new measurements, and that
they shall only be taxed according to the actual overflow. In 69 A.D.
Galba was murdered, after a reign of seven months. Some of his coins,
however, are dated in the second year of his reign, according to the
Alexandrian custom of counting the years. They called the 29th of
August, the first new year's day after the sovereign came to the throne,
the first day of his second year.

Otho was then acknowledged as emperor by Rome and the East, while the
hardy legions of Germany thought themselves entitled to choose for
themselves. They set up their own general, Vitellius. The two legions in
Egypt sided with the four legions in Syria under Mucianus, and the
three legions which, under Vespasian, were carrying on the memorable
war against the Jews; and all took the oaths to Otho. We find no
hieroglyphical inscriptions during this short reign of a few weeks, but
there are many Alexandrian coins to prove the truth of the historian;
and some of them, like those of Galba, bear the unlooked-for word
_freedom_. In the few weeks which then passed between the news of Otho's
death and of Vespasian being raised to the purple in Syria, Vitellius
was acknowledged in Egypt; and the Alexandrian mint struck a few coins
in his name with the figure of Victory. But as soon as the legions of
Egypt heard that the Syrian army had made choice of another emperor,
they withdrew their allegiance from Vitellius, and promised it to his
Syrian rival.

Vespasian was at Cæsarea, in command of the army employed in the Jewish
war, when the news reached him that Otho was dead, and that Vitellius
had been raised to the purple by the German legions, and acknowledged
at Rome; and, without wasting more time in refusing the honour than was
necessary to prove that his soldiers were in earnest in offering it, he
allowed himself to be proclaimed emperor, as the successor of Otho.
He would not, however, then risk a march upon Rome, but he sent to
Alexandria to tell Tiberius Alexander, the governor of Egypt, what he
had done; he ordered him to claim in his name the allegiance of that
great province, and added that he should soon be there himself. The two
Roman legions in Egypt much preferred the choice of the Eastern to
that of the Western army, and the Alexandrians, who had only just
acknowledged Vitellius, readily took the oath to be faithful to
Vespasian. This made it less necessary for him to hasten thither, and he
only reached Alexandria in time to hear that Vitellius had been murdered
after a reign of eight months, and that he himself had been acknowledged
as emperor by Rome and the Western legions. His Egyptian coins in the
first year of his reign, by the word _peace_, point to the end of the
civil war.

When Vespasian entered Alexandria, he was met by the philosophers and
magistrates in great pomp. The philosophers, indeed, in a city where,
beside the officers of government, talent formed the only aristocracy,
were a very important body; and Dion, Euphrates, and Apollonius had been
useful in securing for Vespasian the allegiance of the Alexandrians.
Dion was an orator, who had been professor of rhetoric, but he had given
up that study for philosophy. His orations, or declamations, gained for
him the name of Chrysostom, or _golden-mouthed_. Euphrates, his friend,
was a platonist, who afterwards married the daughter of the prefect of
Syria, and removed to Rome. Apollonius of Tyana, the most celebrated of
these philosophers, was one of the first who gained his eminence from
the study of Eastern philosophy, which was then rising in the opinions
of the Greeks as highly worth their notice. He had been travelling in
the East; and, boasting that he was already master of all the fabled
wisdom of the Magi of Babylon and of the Gymnosophists of India, he was
come to Egypt to compare this mystic philosophy with that of the hermits
of Ethiopia and the Thebaid. Addressing himself as a pupil to the
priests, he willingly yielded his belief to their mystic claims; and,
whether from being deceived or as a deceiver, whether as an enthusiast
or as a cheat, he pretended to have learned all the supernatural
knowledge which they pretended to teach. By the Egyptians he was
looked upon as the favourite of Heaven; he claimed the power of working
miracles by his magical arts, and of foretelling events by his knowledge
of astrology. In the Thebaid he was so far honoured that at the bidding
of the priests one of the sacred trees spoke to him, as had been their
custom from of old with favourites, and in a clear and rather womanly
voice addressed him as a teacher from heaven.

It was to witness such practices as these, and to learn the art of
deceiving their followers, that the Egyptian priests were now consulted
by the Greeks. The oracle at Delphi was silent, but the oracle of Ammon
continued to return an answer. The mystic philosophy of the East had
come into fashion in Alexandria, and the priests were more celebrated as
magicians than as philosophers. They would tell a man's fortune and the
year that he was to die by examining the lines of his forehead. Some of
them even undertook, for a sum of money, to raise the dead to life, or,
rather, to recall for a time to earth the unwilling spirits, and make
them answer any questions that might be put to them. Ventriloquism was
an art often practised in Egypt, and perhaps invented there. By this the
priests gained a power over the minds of the listeners, and could make
them believe that a tree, a statue, or a dead body, was speaking to

The Alexandrian men of letters seldom erred by wrapping themselves up in
pride to avoid the fault of meanness; they usually cringed to the great.
Apollonius was wholly at the service of Vespasian, and the emperor
repaid the philosopher by flattery as well as by more solid favours.
He kept him always by his side during his stay in Egypt; he acknowledged
his rank as a prophet, and tried to make further use of him in
persuading the Egyptians of his own divine right to the throne.
Vespasian begged him to make use of his prayers that he might obtain
from God the empire which he had as yet hardly grasped; but Apollonius,
claiming even a higher mission from Heaven than Vespasian was granting
to him, answered, with as much arrogance as flattery, "I have myself
already made you emperor." With the intimacy between Vespasian and
Apollonius begins the use of gnostic emblems on the Alexandrian coins.
The imperial pupil was not slow in learning from such a master; and
the people were as ready to believe in the emperor's miracles as in
the philosopher's. As Vespasian was walking through the streets of
Alexandria, a man well known as having a disease in his eyes threw
himself at his feet and begged of him to heal his blindness. He had been
told by the god Serapis that he should regain his sight if the emperor
would but deign to spit upon his eyelids. Another man, who had lost the
use of a hand, had been told by the same god that he should be healed if
the emperor would but trample on him with his feet. Vespasian at first
laughed at them and thrust them off; but at last he so far yielded
to their prayers, and to the flattery of his friends, as to have the
physicians of Alexandria consulted whether it was in his power to heal
these unfortunate men. The physicians, like good courtiers, were not so
unwise as to think it impossible; besides, it seemed meant by the god as
a public proof of Vespasian's right to the throne; if he were successful
the glory would be his, and if he failed the laugh would be against the
cripples. The two men were therefore brought before him, and in the face
of the assembled citizens he trampled on one and spit on the other; and
his flatterers declared that he had healed the maimed and given sight to
the blind.

Vespasian met with further wonders when he entered the temple of Serapis
to consult the god as to the state and fortunes of the empire. He went
into the inner sanctuary alone, and, to his surprise, there he beheld
the old Basilides, the freedman of Claudius, one of the chief men of
Alexandria, whom he knew was then lying dangerously ill, and several
days' journey from the city. He inquired of the priests whether
Basilides had been in the temple, and was assured that he had not. He
then asked whether he had been in Alexandria; but nobody had seen him
there. Lastly, on sending messengers, he learned that he was on his
death-bed eighty miles off. With this miracle before his eyes, he could
not distrust the answers which the priests gave to his questions.

From Alexandria Vespasian sent back Titus to finish the siege of
Jerusalem. The Jewish writer Joseph, the son of Matthias, or Flavius
Josephus, as he called himself when he entered the service of the
emperor, was then in Alexandria. He had been taken prisoner by
Vespasian, but had gained his freedom by the betrayal of his country's
cause. He joined the army of Titus and marched to the overthrow of
Jerusalem. Notwithstanding the obstinate and heroic struggles of the
Jews, Judæa was wholly conquered by the Romans, and Jerusalem and its
other fortresses either received Roman garrisons or were dismantled.
The Temple was overthrown in the month of September, A.D. 70. Titus made
slaves of ninety-seven thousand men, many of whom he led with him into
Egypt, and then sent them to work in the mines. These were soon followed
by a crowd of other brave Jews, who chose rather to quit their homes
and live as wanderers in Egypt than to own Vespasian as their king. They
knew no lord but Jahveh; to take the oaths or to pay tribute to Cæsar
was to renounce the faith of their fathers. But they found no safety in
Egypt. Their Greek brethren turned against them, and handed six hundred
of them up to Lupus, the governor of Egypt, to be punished; and their
countryman Josephus brands them all with the name of Sicarii. They tried
to hide themselves in Thebes and other cities less under the eyes of the
Roman governor. They were, however, followed and taken, and the courage
with which the boys and mere children bore their sufferings, sooner than
acknowledge Vespasian for their king, drew forth the praise of even the
time-serving Josephus.

The Greek Jews of Egypt gained nothing by this treachery towards
their Hebrew brethren; they were themselves looked down upon by the
Alexandrians, and distrusted by the Romans. The emperor ordered Lupus to
shut up the temple at Onion, near Heliopolis, in which, during the last
three hundred years, they had been allowed to have an altar, in rivalry
to the Temple of Jerusalem. Even Josephus, whose betrayal of his
countrymen might have saved him from their enemies, was sent with many
others in chains to Rome, and was only set free on his making himself
known to Titus. Indeed, when the Hebrew Jews lost their capital and
their rank as a nation, their brethren felt lowered in the eyes of their
fellow-citizens, in whatever city they dwelt, and in Alexandria they
lost all hope of keeping their privileges; although the emperor refused
to repeal the edict which granted them their citizenship, an edict to
which they always appealed for protection, but often with very little

The Alexandrians were sadly disappointed in Vespasian. They had been
among the first to acknowledge him as emperor while his power was yet
doubtful, and they looked for a sum of money as a largess; but to their
sorrow he increased the taxes, and re-established some which had fallen
into disuse. They had a joke against him, about his claiming from one of
his friends the trifling debt of six oboli; and, upon hearing of their
witticisms, he was so angry that he ordered this sum of six oboli to be
levied as a poll-tax upon every man in the city, and he only remitted
the tax at the request of his son Titus. He went to Rome, carrying with
him the nickname of Cybiosactes, _the scullion_, which the Alexandrians
gave him for his stinginess and greediness, and which they had before
given to Seleucus, who robbed the tomb of Alexander the Great, at
Alexandria, of its famous golden sarcophagus.

Titus saw the importance of pleasing the people; and his wish to humour
their ancient prejudices, at the ceremony of consecrating a new bull
as Apis, brought some blame upon him. He there, as became the occasion,
wore the state crown, and dazzled the people of Memphis with his regal
pomp; but, while thus endeavouring to strengthen his father's throne, he
was by some accused of grasping at it for himself.

The great temple of Kneph, at Latopolis, which had been the work of many
reigns and perhaps many centuries, was finished under Vespasian. It is
a building worthy of the best times of Egyptian architecture. It has a
grand portico, upheld by four rows of massive columns, with capitals in
the form of papyrus flowers. On the ceiling is a zodiac, like that at
Tentyra; and, though many other kings' names are carved on the walls,
that of Vespasian is in the dedication over the entrance.

Of the reign of Titus in Egypt we find no trace beyond his coins struck
each year at Alexandria, and his name carved on one or two temples which
had been built in former reigns.

Of the reign of Domitian (81--96 A.D.) we learn something from the poet
Juvenal, who then held a military post in the province; and he gives
us a sad account of the state of lawlessness in which the troops lived
under his commands. All quarrels between soldiers and citizens were
tried by the officers according to martial law; and justice was very
far from being even-handed between the Roman and the poor Egyptian.
No witness was bold enough to come forward and say anything against a
soldier, while everybody was believed who spoke on his behalf. Juvenal
was at a great age when he was sent into Egypt; and he felt that the
command of a cohort on the very borders of the desert was a cruel
banishment from the literary society of Rome. His death in the camp was
hastened by his wish to return home. As what Juvenal chiefly aimed at
in his writings was to lash the follies of the age, he, of course, found
plenty of amusement in the superstitions and sacred animals of Egypt.
But he sometimes takes a poet's liberty, and when he tells us that man's
was almost the only flesh that they ate without sinning, we need not
believe him to the letter. He gives a lively picture of a fight which he
saw between the citizens of two towns. The towns of Ombos and Tentyra,
though about a hundred miles apart, had a long-standing quarrel
about their gods. At Ombos they worshipped the crocodile and the
crocodile-headed god Savak, while at Tentyra they worshipped the goddess
Hâthor, and were celebrated for their skill in catching and killing
crocodiles. So, taking advantage of a feast or holiday, they marched out
for a fight. The men of Ombos Avere beaten and put to flight; but one of
them, stumbling as he ran away, was caught and torn to pieces, and,
as Juvenal adds, eaten by the men of Tentyra. Their worship of beasts,
birds, and fishes, and even growing their gods in the garden, are
pleasantly hit off by him; they left nothing, said he, without worship,
but the goddess of chastity. The mother goddess, Isis, the queen of
heaven, was the deity to whom they bowed with the most tender devotion,
and to swear by Isis was their favourite oath; and hence the leek, in
their own language named Isi, was no doubt the vegetable called a god by
the satiric Juvenal.

At the same time also the towns of Oxyrrhynchos and Cynopolis, in
the Heptanomos, had a little civil war about the animals which
they worshipped. Somebody at Cynopolis was said to have caught an
oxyrrhynchus fish in the Nile and eaten it; and so the people of
Oxyrrhynchos, in revenge, made an attack upon the dogs, the gods of
Cynopolis. They caught a number of them, killed them in sacrifice to
their offended fish-god, and ate them. The two parties then flew to arms
and fought several battles; they sacked one another's cities in turns,
and the war was not stopped till the Roman troops marched to the spot
and punished them both.

But we gain a more agreeable and most likely a more true notion of the
mystical religion and philosophy of the Egyptians in these days from the
serious enquiries of Plutarch, who, instead of looking for what he could
laugh at, was only too ready to believe that he saw wisdom hidden
under an allegory in all their superstitions. Many of the habits of
the priests, such as shaving the whole body, wearing linen instead of
cotton, and refusing some meats as impure, seem to have arisen from a
love of cleanliness; their religion ordered what was useful. And it
also forbade what was hurtful; so to stir the fire with a sword was
displeasing to the gods, because it spoilt the temper of the metal.
None but the vulgar now looked upon the animals and statues as gods; the
priests believed that the unseen gods, who acted with one mind and with
one providence, were the authors of all good; and though these, like the
sun and moon, were called in each country by a different name, yet, like
those luminaries, they were the same over all the world.

[Illustration: 078b.jpg SCENE IN A SEPUUCHRAL CHAMBER]

Outward ceremonies in religion were no longer thought enough without a
good life; and, as the Greeks said, that beard and cloak did not make a
philosopher, so the Egyptians said that white linen and a tonsure
would not make a follower of Isis. All the sacrifices to the gods had a
secondary meaning, or, at least, they tried to join a moral aim to the
outward act; as on the twentieth day of the month, when they ate honey
and figs in honour of Thot, they sang "Sweet is truth." The Egyptians,
like most other Eastern polytheists, held the doctrine which was
afterwards called Manicheism; they believed in a good and in a wicked
god, who governed the world between them. Of these the former made
himself threefold, because three is a perfect number, and they adopted
into their religion that curious metaphysical opinion that everything
divine is formed of three parts; and accordingly, on the Theban
monuments we often see the gods in groups of three. They worshipped
Osiris, Isis, and Horus under the form of a right-angled triangle, in
which Horus was the side opposite to the right angle. The favourite
part of their mythology was the lamentation of Isis for the death of
her husband Osiris. By another change the god Horus, who used to be a
crowned king of manly stature, was now a child holding a finger to his
mouth, and thereby marking that he had not yet learned to talk. The
Romans, who did not understand this Egyptian symbol for youthfulness,
thought that in this character he was commanding silence; and they gave
the name of Harpocrates, _Horus the powerful_, to a god of silence.
Horus was also often placed as a child in the arms of his mother Isis;
and thus by the loving nature of the group were awakened the more tender
feelings of the worshipper. The Egyptians, like the Greeks, had always
been loud in declaring that they were beloved by their gods; but they
received their favours with little gratitude, and hardly professed that
they felt any love towards the gods in return. But after the time of the
Christian era, we meet with more kindly feelings even among the pagans.
We find from the Greek names of persons that they at least had begun to
think their gods deserving of love, and in this group of the mother and
child, such a favourite also in Christian art, we see in what direction
these more kindly feelings found an entrance into the Egyptian religion.
As fast as opinion was raising the great god Serapis above his fellows
and making the wrathful judge into the ruler of the world, so fast was
the same opinion creating for itself a harbour of refuge in the child
Horus and its mother.

[Illustration: 080.jpg HARPOCRATES]

The deep earnestness of the Egyptians in the belief of their own
religion was the chief cause of its being adopted by others. The Greeks
had borrowed much from it. Though in Rome it had been forbidden by law,
it was much cultivated there in private; and the engraved rings on the
fingers of the wealthy Romans which bore the figures of Harpocrates and
other Egyptian gods easily escaped the notice of the magistrate. But the
superstitious Domitian, who was in the habit of consulting astrologers
and Chaldæan fortune-tellers, allowed the Egyptian worship. He built
at Rome a temple to Isis, and another to Serapis; and such was the
eagerness of the citizens for pictures of the mother goddess with her
child in her arms that, according to Juvenal, the Roman painters all
lived upon the goddess Isis. For her temple in the Campus Martius, holy
water was even brought from the Nile to purify the building and the
votaries; and a regular college of priests was maintained there by their
zeal and at their cost, with a splendour worthy of the Roman capital.
Domitian, also, was somewhat of a scholar, and he sent to Alexandria for
copies of their books, to restore the public library at Rome which had
been lately burnt; while his garden on the banks of the Tiber was
richer in the Egyptian winter rose than even the gardens of Memphis and

During this century the coinage continues one of the subjects of chief
interest to the antiquary. In 92 A.D., in the eleventh year of his
reign, when Domitian took upon himself the tribunitian power at Rome
for a second period of ten years, the event was celebrated in Alexandria
with a triumphal procession and games in the hippodrome, of all which we
see clear traces on the Egyptian coins.

[Illustration: 081.jpg COINS OF DOMITIAN]

The coinage is almost the only trace of Nerva (96--98 A.D.) having
reigned in Egypt; but it is at the same time enough to prove the
mildness of his government. The Jews who by their own law were of old
required to pay half a shekel, or a didrachm, to the service of their
temple, had on their conquest been made to pay that sum as a yearly
tribute to the Ptolemies, and afterwards to the emperors. It was a
poll-tax levied on every Jew throughout the empire. But Nerva had the
humanity to relieve them from this insulting tribute, and well did he
deserve the honour of having it recorded on the coins struck in his

The coinage of the eleventh year of his successor, Trajan (98-117
A.D.), is very remarkable for its beauty, its technical skill, and
variety, even more so than that of the eleventh year of Domitian.

[Illustration: 082.jpg COIN OF NERVA]

The coins have hitherto proclaimed, in a manner unmistakably plain to
those who study numismatics, the games and conquests of the emperors,
the bountiful overflow of the Nile, and sometimes the worship of
Serapis; but we now enter upon the most brilliant and most important
period of the Egyptian coinage, and find a rich variety of fables taken
both from Egyptian and Greek mythology. The coins of Rome in this and
the following reigns show the wealth, good taste, and learning of the
nation, but they are surpassed by the coins of Egypt. While history
is nearly silent, and the buildings and other proofs of Roman good
government have perished, the coins alone are quite enough to prove
the well-being of the people. Among the Egyptian coins those of Trajan,
Hadrian, and the Antonines equal in number those of all the other
emperors together, while in beauty they far surpass them. They are
mostly of copper, of a small size, and thick, weighing about one hundred
and ten grains, and some larger of two hundred and twenty grains; the
silver coins are less common, and of mixed metal.

Though the Romans, while admiring and copying everything that was Greek,
affected to look upon the Egyptians as savages, who were only known to
be human beings by their power of speech, still the Egyptian physicians
were held by them in the highest repute. The more wealthy Romans often
sailed to Alexandria for the benefit of their advice. Pliny the Elder,
however, thought that of the invalids who went to Egypt for their
health more were cured by the sea voyage than by the physicians on their


One of Cicero's physicians was an Egyptian. Pliny the Younger repaid his
Egyptian oculist, Harpocrates, by getting a rescript from the emperor
to make him a Roman citizen. But the statesman did not know under what
harsh laws his friend was born, for the grant was void in the case of an
Egyptian, the emperor's rescript was bad as being against the law; and
Pliny had again to beg the greater favour that the Egyptian might first
be made a citizen of Alexandria, without which the former favour was
useless. Thus, even in Alexandria, a conquered province governed by
the despotic will of a military emperor, there were still some laws or
principles which the emperor found it not easy to break. The courts of
justice, those to whom the edicts were addressed and by whom they were
to be explained and carried into effect, claimed a power in some cases
above the emperor; and the first article in the Roman code was that an
imperial rescript, by whomsoever or howsoever obtained, was void if it
was against the law. As the lawyers and magistrates formed part of the
body of citizens, the Alexandrians had so far a share in the government
of their own affairs; but this was an advantage that the Egyptians lost
by being under the power of the Greek magistrates.

[Illustration: 084.jpg COINS OF TRAJAN]

Trajan always kept in the public granaries of Rome a supply of Egyptian
grain equal to seven times the _canon_, or yearly gift to the poor
citizens; and in this prudent course he was followed by all his
successors, until the store was squandered by the worthless Elagabalus.
One year, when the Nile did not rise to its usual height, and much of
the grain land of the Delta, instead of being moistened by its waters
and enriched by its mud, was left a dry, sandy plain, the granaries of
Rome were unlocked to feed the city of Alexandria. The Alexandrians then
saw the unusual sight of ships unloading their cargoes of wheat in their
harbour, and the Romans boasted that they took the Egyptian tribute
in grain, not because they could not feed themselves, but because the
Egyptians had nothing else to send them.

Alexandria under the Romans was still the centre of the trading world,
not only having its own great trade in grain, but being the port through
which the trade of India and Arabia passed to Europe, and at which the
Syrian vessels touched in their way to Italy. The harbour was crowded
with masts and strange prows and uncouth sails, and the quays always
busy with loading and unloading; while in the streets might be seen men
of all languages and all dresses, copper-coloured Egyptians, swarthy
Jews, lively, bustling Greeks, and haughty Italians, with Asiatics from
the neighbouring coasts of Syria and Cilicia, and even dark Ethiopians,
painted Arabs, Bactrians, Scythians, Persians, and Indians, all gay with
their national costumes. Alexandria was a spot in which Europe met Asia,
and each wondered at the strangeness of the other.

Of the Alexandrians themselves we receive a very unfavourable account
from their countryman, Dion Chrysostom. With their wealth, they
had those vices which usually follow or cause the loss of national
independence. They were eager for nothing but food and horse-races. They
were grave and quiet in their sacrifices and listless in business, but
in the theatre or in the stadium men, women, and children were alike
heated into passion, and overcome with eagerness and warmth of feeling.
A scurrilous song or a horse-race would so rouse them into a quarrel
that they could not hear for their own noise, nor see for the dust
raised by their own bustle in the hippodrome; while all those acts of
their rulers, which in a more wholesome state of society would have
called for notice, passed by unheeded.

[Illustration: 086.jpg EGYPTIAN WIG (BRITISH MUSEUM)]

They cared more for the tumble of a favourite charioteer than for the
sinking state of the nation. The ready employment of ridicule in the
place of argument, of wit instead of graver reason, of nicknames
as their most powerful weapon, was one of the worst points in the
Alexandrian character. Frankness and manliness are hardly to be looked
for under a despotic government where men are forbidden to speak their
minds openly; and the Alexandrians made use of such checks upon their
rulers as the law allowed them. They lived under an absolute monarchy
tempered only by ridicule. Though their city was four hundred years old,
they were still colonists and without a mother-country. They had very
little faith in anything great or good, whether human or divine. They
had few cherished prejudices, no honoured traditions, sadly little love
of fame, and they wrote no histories. But in luxury and delicacy they
set the fashion to their conquerors. The wealthy Alexandrian walked
about Rome in a scarlet robe, in summer fanning himself with gold, and
displaying on his fingers rings carefully suited to the season; as his
hands were too delicate to carry his heavier jewels in the warm weather.
At the supper tables of the rich, the Alexandrian singing boys were
much valued; the smart young Roman walked along the Via Sacra humming
an Alexandrian tune; the favourite comic actor, the delight of the
city, whose jokes set the theatre in a roar, was an Alexandrian; the
Retiarius, who, with no weapon but a net, fought against an armed
gladiator in the Roman forum, and came off conqueror in twenty-six such
battles, was an Alexandrian; and no breed of fighting-cocks was thought
equal to those reared in the suburbs of Alexandria.

In the reign of Augustus the Roman generals had been defeated in their
attacks on Arabia; but under Trajan, when the Romans were masters of all
the countries which surround Arabia Nabatæa, and when Egypt was so
far quiet that the legions could be withdrawn without danger to the
provinces, the Arabs could hold out no longer, and the rocky fastness
of Petra was forced to receive a Roman garrison. The event was as usual
commemorated on the coins of Rome; and for the next four hundred years
that remarkable Arab city formed part of the Roman empire; and Europeans
now travelling through the desert from Mount Sinai to Jerusalem are
agreeably surprised at coming upon temples, carved out of the solid
rock, ornamented with Corinthian columns of the age of the Antonines.

In the twelfth year of this reign, when Lucius Sulpicius Simius was
prefect, some additions which had been made to the temple at Panopolis
in the Thebaid were dedicated in the name of the emperor; and in the
nineteenth year, when Marcus Rutilius Lupus was prefect, a new portico
in the oasis of Thebes was in the same manner dedicated to Serapis and
Isis. A small temple, which had been before built at Denderah, near the
great temple of Venus, was in the first year of this reign dedicated to
the Empress Plotina, under the name of the great goddess, the Younger

The canal from the Nile near Bubastis to the Bitter Lakes, which had
been first made by Necho, had been either finished or a second time
made by Philadelphus; and in this reign that great undertaking was again
renewed. But the stream of the Nile was deserting the Bubastite branch,
which was less navigable than formerly; and the engineers now changed
the greater part of the canal's bed. They thought it wiser to bring
water from a higher part of the Nile, so that the current in the canal
might run into the Red Sea instead of out, and its waters might still
be fresh and useful to agriculture. It now began at Babylon opposite
Memphis and entered the Red Sea at a town which, taking its name from
the locks, was called Clysmon, about ten miles to the south of Arsinoë.
This latter town was no longer a port, having been separated from the
sea by the continual advance of the sands. We have no knowledge of how
long the care of the imperial prefects kept this new canal open and in
use. It was perhaps one of the first of the Roman works that went to
decay; and, when we find the Christian pilgrims sailing along it seven
centuries later, on their way from England to the holy sepulchre, it had
been again opened by the Muhammedan conquerors of Egypt.

[Illustration: 089.jpg ANTONINIAN TEMPLE NEAR SINAI]

Writings which some now regard as literary forgeries appeared in
Alexandria about this time. They prophesied the re-establishment of
the Jews at Jerusalem, and, as the wished-for time drew near, all the
eastern provinces of the Roman empire were disturbed by rebellious
risings of the Jews. Moved by the religious enthusiasm which gave birth
to the writings, the Jews of Egypt in the eighteenth year of this
reign (116 A.D.) were again roused into a quarrel with their Greek
fellow-citizens; and in the next year, the last of the reign, they rose
against their Roman governors in open rebellion, and they were not put
down till the prefect Lupus had brought his forces against them. After
this the Jews of Cyrene marched through the desert into Egypt, under the
command of Lucuas, to help their brethren; and the rebellion took the
regular form of a civil war, with all its usual horrors. The emperor
sent against the Jews an army followed by a fleet, which, after numerous
skirmishes and battles, routed them with great slaughter, and drove
numbers of them back into the desert, whence they harassed the village
as robbers. By these unsuccessful appeals to force, the Jews lost all
right to those privileges of citizenship which they always claimed, and
which had been granted by the emperors, though usually refused by the
Alexandrians. The despair and disappointment of the Jews seem in many
cases to have turned their minds to the Christian view of the Old
Testament prophecies; henceforth, says Eusebius, the Jews embraced the
Christian religion more readily and in greater numbers.

In A.D. 122, the sixth year of the reign of Hadrian, Egypt was honoured
by a visit from the emperor. He was led to Egypt at that time by some
riots of a character more serious than usual, which had arisen between
two cities, probably Memphis and Heliopolis, about a bull, as to whether
it was to be Apis or Mnevis. Egypt had been for some years without a
sacred bull; and when at length the priests found one, marked with the
mystic spots, the inhabitants of those two cities flew to arms, and
the peace of the province was disturbed by their religious zeal, each
claiming the bull as their own.

Hadrian also undertook a voyage up the Nile from Alexandria in order to
explore the wonders of Egypt. This was the fashion then, for the ancient
monuments and the banks of this mysterious river offered just as many
attractions at that time as they have done to all nations since
the expedition of Napoleon. That animal-worship, which had remained
unchanged for centuries, a riddle of human religion, was bound to excite
the curiosity of strangers. In this divinisation of animals lay the
greatest contempt for human understanding, and it was a bitter satire
on the apotheosis of kings and emperors. For what was the divinity
of Sesostris, of Alexander, of Augustus, or Hadrian compared with
the heavenly majesty of the ox Apis, or the holy cats, dogs, kites,
crocodiles, and god-apes? Egypt was at this epoch already a museum of
the Pharaoh-time and its enbalamed culture. Strange buildings, rare
sculptures, hieroglyphics, and pictures still filled the ancient towns,
even though these had lost their splendour. Memphis and Heliopolis,
Bubastis, Abydos, Saïs, Tanis, and the hundred-gated Thebes had long
fallen into ruin, although still inhabited.

The emperor's escort must have been an extraordinary sight as it steered
up the stream on a fleet of dahabiehs. The emperor was accompanied by
students of the museum, interpreters, priests, and astrologers. Amongst
his followers were Verus and the beautiful Antinous.

The Empress Sabina also accompanied him; she had the poetess Julia
Balbilla amongst her court ladies. They landed wherever there was
anything of interest to be seen, and there was more in those days than
there is now. They admired the great pyramids, the colossal sphinx, and
the sacred town of Memphis. This city, the ancient royal seat of the
Pharaohs, and even in Strabo's time the second town in Egypt, was not
yet buried under the sand of the desert; its disappearance had, however,
already begun. Under the Ptolemies it had given much of the material of
her temples and palaces for the building of Alexandria. The great palace
of the Pharaohs had long been destroyed, but there still remained
many notable monuments, such as the temple of Phtah, the pyramids, the
necropolis, and the Serapeum, and they retained their ancient cult.
The town was still the chief seat of the Egyptian hierarchy and the
residence of Apis; for this very reason the Roman government had
destined it to be one of her strong military stations, for here a legion
was quartered. The emperor could walk through the time-worn avenues of
sphinxes which led to the wonderful vaults where the long succession of
divine animals was buried, each like a Pharaoh, in a magnificent granite
sarcophagus. Hadrian could admire the beautifully sculptured tomb of Di,
an Egyptian officer of the fifth dynasty, with less trouble than we
must experience now; for now the palaces, the pictures of the gods,
and almost all the pyramids are swallowed up in sand. Miserable Arab
villages, such as Saqqâra, have fixed themselves in the ruins of
Memphis, and from a thick palm grove one can look with astonishment
upon the torso of the powerful Ramses II. lying solitary there, the last
witness to the glory of the temple of Phtah, before which this colossus
once had its stand. In the neighbourhood of Memphis lay Heliopolis, the
town of the sun-god, with its ancient temple, and a school of Egyptian
wisdom, in which Plato is supposed to have studied.

In Heliopolis the worship of the god Ra was preserved, the centre of
which was the holy animal Mnevis, a rival or comrade of Apis. Cambyses
had partly destroyed the temple and even the obelisks which the Pharaohs
had in the course of centuries erected to the sun-god; nowhere in Egypt
existed so many of these monuments as here and in Thebes. Hadrian saw
many of them lying half-burnt on the ground just as Strabo had done.
On the site of Heliopolis, now green with wheat-fields, only a single
obelisk has remained upright, which is considered as the oldest of all,
and was erected in the twelfth dynasty by Usirtasen I.

The royal assemblage had arrived in the course of their journey at Besa,
a place on the right bank of the river, opposite Hermopolis, when a
strange event occurred. This was the death of Hadrian's favourite,
Antinous, a young Greek from Claudiopolis, who had been degraded to the
position of Ganymede to the emperor on account of his beauty. It is not
known where the emperor first came across the youth; possibly in his
native land, Bithynia. Not till he came to Egypt did he become his
inseparable companion, and this must have been a deep offence to
his wife. The unfortunate queen was delivered in Besa from his hated
presence, for Antinous was drowned there in the Nile.

His death was surrounded by mystery. Was it accident? Was he a victim?
Hadrian's humanity protects him from the suspicion that he sacrificed
his victim in cold blood, as Tiberius had once sacrificed the beautiful
Hypatus in Capri. Had the fantastic youth sacrificed himself of his own
free will to the death divinities in order to save the emperor's life?
Had the Egyptian priests foreseen in the stars some danger threatening
Hadrian, only to be averted by the death of his favourite? Such an idea
commended itself to the superstition of the time, especially in
this land and by the mysterious Nile. It corresponded, too, with the
emperor's astrological arts. Was Antinous certain when he plunged into
the waves of the Nile that he would arise from them as a god? Hadrian
asserts in his memoirs that it was an accident, but no one believed him.
The divine honours which he paid to the dead youth lead us to suppose
that they formed the reward of a self-sacrifice, which, according to the
custom of those times, constituted a highly moral action, and was looked
upon as heroic devotion. At any rate, we will assume that this sacrifice
sank into the Nile without Hadrian's will. Hadrian mourned for Antinous
with unspeakable pain and "womanly tears." Now he was Achilles by the
corpse of Patroklus, or Alexander by the pyre of the dead Hephaistus.
He had the youth splendidly buried in Besa. This most extraordinary
intermezzo of all Nile journeys supplied dying heathendom with a new
god, and art with its last ideal form. Probably, also, during the
burial, far-sighted courtiers already saw the star of Antinous shining
in Egypt's midnight sky, and then Hadrian saw it himself.

In the mystical land of Egypt, life might still be poetical even in the
clear daylight of Roman universal history in the reign of Hadrian. The
death of the young Bithynian seems to have occurred in October, 130.
The emperor continued his journey as soon as he had given orders for
a splendid town to be erected on the site of Besa, in honour of his
friend. In November, 130, the royal company is to be found amongst the
ruins of Thebes.

Thebes, the oldest town in Egypt, had been first put in the shade
by Memphis, and then destroyed by Cambyses. Since the time of the
Ptolemies, it had been called Diospolis, and Ptolemais had taken its
place as capital of the Thebaid. Already in Strabo's time it was split
up. It formed on either side of the Nile groups of gigantic temples and
palaces, monuments, and royal graves similar to those scattered to-day
amongst Luxor, Karnak, Medinet-Habu, Deir-el-Bahari, and Kurna.


In Hadrian's time the Rameseum, the so-called grave of Osymandias, on
the western bank of the Nile, the wonderful building of Ramses II.,
must still have been in good repair. These pylons, pillars, arcades, and
courts, these splendid halls with their sculpture-covered walls, appear
even to have influenced the Roman art in the time of the emperors. Their
reflex influence has been even seen in Trajan's forum, in which the
chief thing was the emperor's tomb.

In Alexandria the emperor mixed freely with the professors of the
museum, asking them questions and answering theirs in return; and he
dropped his tear of pity on the tomb of the great Pompey, in the form of
a Greek epigram, though with very little point. He laid out large sums
of money in building and ornamenting the city, and the Alexandrians were
much pleased with his behaviour. Among other honours that they paid
him, they changed the name of the month December, calling it the month
Hadrian; but as they were not followed by the rest of the empire the
name soon went out of use. The emperor's patronage of philosophy was
rather at the cost of the Alexandrian museum, for he enrolled among its
paid professors men who were teaching from school to school in Italy and
Asia Minor. Thus Polemon of Laodicea, who taught oratory and philosophy
at Rome, Laodicea, and Smyrna, and had the right of a free passage for
himself and his servants in any of the public ships whenever he chose to
move from city to city for the purposes of study or teaching, had at
the same time a salary from the Alexandrian museum. Dionysius of Miletus
also received his salary as a professor in the museum while teaching
philosophy and mnemonicsat Miletus and Ephesus. Pancrates, the
Alexandrian poet, gained his salary in the museum by the easy task of a
little flattery. On Hadrian's return to Alexandria from the Thebaid, the
poet presented to him a rose-coloured lotus, a flower well known in
India, though less common in Egypt than either the blue or white lotus,
and assured him that it had sprung out of the blood of the lion slain by
his royal javelin at a lion-hunt in Libya.

[Illustration: 097.jpg ROSE-COLOURED LOTUS]

The emperor was pleased with the compliment, and gave him a place in the
museum; and Pancrates in return named the plant the lotus of Antinous.
Pancrates was a warm admirer of the mystical opinions of the Egyptians
which were then coming into note in Alexandria. He was said to have
lived underground in holy solitude or converse with the gods for
twenty-three years, and during that time to have been taught magic by
the goddess Isis, and thus to have gained the power of working miracles.
He learned to call upon the queen of darkness by her Egyptian name
Hecate, and when driving out evil spirits to speak to them in the
Egyptian language. Whether these Greek students of the Eastern mysticism
were deceivers or deceived, whether they were led by a love of notoriety
or of knowledge, is in most cases doubtful, but they were surrounded by
a crowd of credulous admirers, who formed a strange contrast with the
sceptics and critics of the museum.

Among the Alexandrian grammarians of this reign was Apollonius Dyscolus,
so called perhaps from a moroseness of manner, who wrote largely on
rhetoric, on the Greek dialects, on accents, prosody, and on other
branches of grammar. In the few pages that remain of his numerous
writings, we trace the love of the marvellous which was then growing
among some of the philosophers. He tells us many remarkable stories,
which he collected rather as a judicious inquirer than as a credulous
believer; such as of second sight; an account of a lad who fell asleep
in the field while watching his sheep, and then slept for fifty-seven
years, and awoke to wonder at the strangeness of the changes that had
taken place in the meanwhile; and of a man who after death used from
time to time to leave his body, and wander over the earth as a spirit,
till his wife, tired of his coming back again so often, put a stop to it
by having his mummy burnt. He gives us for the first time Eastern tales
in a Greek dress, and we thus learn the source from which Europe gained
much of its literature in the Middle Ages. The Alexandrian author of
greatest note at this time was the historian Appian, who tells us that
he had spent some years in Rome practising as a lawyer, and returned to
Egypt on being appointed to a high post in the government of his native
city. There he wrote his Roman history.

In this reign the Jews, forgetful of what they had just suffered under
Trajan, again rose against the power of Rome; and, when Judæa rebelled
against its prefect, Tinnius Rufus, a little army of Jews marched out of
Egypt and Libya, to help their brethren and to free the holy land
(130 A.D.). But they were everywhere routed and put down with resolute

[Illustration: 099.jpg VOCAL STATUE OF AMENHOTHES]

Travellers, on reaching a distant point of a journey, or on viewing any
remarkable object of their curiosity, have at all times been fond of
carving or scribbling their names on the spot, to boast of their
prowess to after-comers; and never had any place been more favoured with
memorials of this kind than the great statue of Amenhôthes at Thebes.
This colossal statue, fifty-three feet high, was famed, as long as
the Egyptian priesthood lasted, for sending forth musical sounds
every morning at sunrise, when first touched by the sun's rays; and no
traveller ever visited Thebes without listening for these remarkable
notes. The journey through Upper Egypt was at this time perfectly open
and safe, and the legs and feet of the statue are covered with names,
and inscriptions in prose and verse, of travellers who had visited it
at sunrise during the reigns of Hadrian and the Antonines. From these
curious memorials we learn that Hadrian visited Thebes a second time
with his queen, Sabina, in the fifteenth year of his reign. When the
empress first visited the statue she was disappointed at not hearing
the musical sounds; but, on her hinting threats of the emperor's
displeasure, her curiosity was gratified on the following morning.
This gigantic statue of hard gritstone had formerly been broken in half
across the waist, and the upper part thrown to the ground, either by the
shock of an earthquake or the ruder shock of Persian zeal against the
Egyptian religion; and for some centuries past the musical notes had
issued from the broken fragments. Such was its fallen state when
the Empress Sabina saw it, and when Strabo and Juvenal and Pausanias
listened to its sounds; and it was not till after the reign of Hadrian
that it was again raised upright like its companion, as travellers now
see it.

[Illustration: 100b..jpg The Slumber Song]

     From the painting by P. Grot. Johann

From this second visit, and a longer acquaintance, Hadrian seems to have
formed a very poor opinion of the Egyptians and Egyptian Jews; and the
following curious letter, written in 134 A.D. to his friend Servianus,
throws much light upon their religion as worshippers of Serapis, at
the same time that it proves how numerous the Christians had become in
Alexandria, even within seventy years of the period during which the
evangelist Mark is believed to have preached there:

"Hadrian Augustus to Servianus, the consul, greeting:

"As for Egypt, which you were praising to me, dearest Servianus, I have
found its people wholly light, wavering, and flying after every breath
of a report. Those who worship Serapis are Christians, and those who
call themselves bishops of Christ are devoted to Serapis. There is
no ruler of a Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no presbyter of the
Christians, who is not a mathematician, an augur, and a soothsayer. The
very patriarch himself, when he came into Egypt, was by some said to
worship Serapis, and by others to worship Christ. As a race of men, they
are seditious, vain, and spiteful; as a body, wealthy and prosperous,
of whom nobody lives in idleness. Some blow glass, some make paper, and
others linen. There is work for the lame and work for the blind; even
those who have lost the use of their hands do not live in idleness.
Their one god is nothing; Christians, Jews, and all nations worship him.
I wish this body of men was better behaved, and worthy of their number;
for as for that they ought to hold the chief place in Egypt. I have
granted everything unto them; I have restored their old privileges, and
have made them grateful by adding new ones."

Among the crowd of gods that had formerly been worshipped in Egypt,
Serapis had latterly been rising above the rest. He was the god of
the dead, who in the next world was to reward the good and punish the
wicked; and in the growing worship of this one all-seeing judge we
cannot but trace the downfall of some of the evils of polytheism. A
plurality in unity was another method now used to explain away the

[Illustration: 102.jpg EGYPTIAN ORACLE]

The oracle when consulted about the divine nature had answered, "I am
Ra, and Horus, and Osiris;" or, as the Greeks translated it, Apollo,
and Lord, and Bacchus; "I rule the hours and the seasons, the wind and
the storms, the day and the night; I am king of the stars and myself an
immortal fire." Hence arose the opinion which seems to have been given
to Hadrian, that the Egyptians had only one god, and his mistake in
thinking that the worshippers of Serapis were Christians. The emperor,
indeed, himself, though a polytheist, was very little of an idolater;
for, though he wished to add Christ to the number of the Roman gods,
he on the other hand ordered that the temples built in his reign should
have no images for worship; and in after ages it was common to call
all temples without statues Hadrian's temples. But there were other and
stronger reasons for Hadrian's classing the Christians with the Egyptian
astrologers. A Christian heresy was then rising into notice in Egypt in
that very form, taking its opinions from the philosophy on which it was
engrafted. Before Christianity was preached in Alexandria, there were
already three religions or forms of philosophy belonging to the three
races of men who peopled that busy city; first, the Greek philosophy;
which was chiefly platonism; secondly, the mysticism of the Egyptians;
and lastly, the religion of the Jews. These were often more or less
mixed, as we see them all united in the works of Philo-Judæ; and in
the writings of the early converts we usually find Christianity clothed
in one or other of these forms, according to the opinions held by the
writers before their conversion. The first Christian teachers, the
apostolic fathers as they are called, because they had been hearers of
the apostles themselves, were mostly Jews; but among the Egyptians and
Greeks of Alexandria their religion lost much of its purely moral caste,
and became, with the former, an astrological mysticism, and with the
latter an abstract speculative theology. It is of the Egyptian Jews that
Hadrian speaks in his letter just quoted; many of them had been already
converted to Christianity, and their religion had taken the form of

Gnosticism, or Science, for the name means no more, was not then new
in Alexandria, nor were its followers originally Christians. It was the
proud name claimed for their opinions by those who studied the Eastern
philosophy of the Magi; and Egypt seems to have been as much its native
soil as India. The name of Gnostic, says Weber, was generally given to
those who distinguished between belief on authority and gnosis, i.e.,
between the ordinary comprehension and a higher knowledge only granted
to a few gifted or chosen ones. They were split up into different sects,
according as they approached more nearly the Eastern theosophy or the
platonic philosophy; but in general the Eastern conception, with its
symbols and unlimited fantasy, remained dominant. The "creed of those
who know" never reached actual monotheism, the conception of one
personal god, who created everything according to his own free will and
rules over everything with unlimited wisdom and love. The god of
the Gnostics is a dark, mysterious being which can only arrive at a
consciousness of itself through a manifold descending scale of forces,
which flow from the god himself. The visible world was created out of
dead and evil matter by Demiurgos, the divine work-master, a production
and subordinate of the highest god. Man, too, is a production of this
subordinate creator, a production subject to a blind fate, and a prey to
those powers which rule between heaven and earth, without free-will,
the only thing which makes the ideas of sin and responsibility possible.
Matter is the seat of evil, and as long as man stands under the
influence of this matter, he is in the hands of evil and knows no
freedom. Redemption can only reach him through those higher beings of
light, which free man from the power of matter and translate him into
the kingdom of light. According to the Gnostic teaching, Christ is
one of these beings of light; he is one of the highest who appeared on
earth, and is transformed into a mythical, allegorical being, with
his human nature, his sufferings and death completely suppressed. The
redeemed soul is then as a kind of angel, or ideal being, brought in
triumph into the idealistic realm of light as soon as it has purified
itself to the nature of a spirit, by means of penitence, chastisements,
and finally the death of the physical body. Hence the Gnostics attached
little importance to the means of mercy in the Church, to the Bible, or
the sacraments; they allowed the Church teaching to exist as a necessary
conception for the people, but they placed their own teachings far above
it as mysterious or secret teachings. As regards their morals and
mode of life, the Gnostics generally went to extremes. It was due to
Gnosticism that art and science found an entrance into the Church. It
preserved the Church from becoming stereotyped in form; but, built up
entirely on ideas and not on historical facts, it died from its own
hollowness and eccentricity.

We still possess the traces of the Gnostic astrology in a number of
amulets and engraved gems, with the word _Abraxas_ or rather _Abrasax_
and other emblems of their superstition, which they kept as charms
against diseases and evil spirits. The word _Abrasax_ may be translated
_Hurt me not_. To their mystic rites we may trace many of the reproaches
thrown upon Christianity, such as that the Christians worshipped the
head of an ass, using the animal's Koptic name _Eeo_, to represent the
name of IAn, or Jahveh. To the same source we may also trace some of
the peculiarities of the Christian fathers, such as St. Ambrose calling
Jesus "the good scarabæus, who rolled up before him the hitherto
un-shapen mud of our bodies;" a thought which seems to have been
borrowed as much from the hieroglyphics as from the insect's habits; and
perhaps from the Egyptian priests in some cases, using the scarabous
to denote the god Horus-Ra, and sometimes the word _only begotten_. We
trace this thought on the Gnostic gems where Ave see a winged griffin
rolling before him a wheel, the emblem of eternity. He sits like a
conqueror on horseback, trampling under foot the serpent of old, the
spirit of sin and death. His horse is in the form of a ram, with an
eagle's head and the crowned asp or basilisk for its tail. Before him
stands the figure of victory giving him a crown; above are written the
words Alpha and Omega, and below perhaps the word [IAH], Jahveh.

So far we have seen the form which Christianity at first took among the
Egyptians; but, as few writings by these Gnostics have come down to
our time, we chiefly know their opinions from the reproaches of their
enemies. It was not till the second generation of Gnostic teachers were
spreading their heresies that the Greek philosophers began to embrace
Christianity, or the Christians to study Greek literature; but as soon
as that was the case we have an unbroken chain of writings, in which
we find Christianity more or less mixed with the Alexandrian form of

[Illustration: 106.jpg KOPTIC CHARM AND SCARABEUS]

The philosopher Justin, after those who had talked with the apostles,
is the earliest Christian writer whose works have reached us. He was a
Greek, born in Samaria; but he studied many years in Alexandria under
philosophers of all opinions. He did not, however, at once find in
the schools the wisdom he was in search for. The Stoic could teach him
nothing about God; the Peripatetic wished to be paid for his lessons
before he gave them; and the Pythagorean proposed to begin with music
and mathematics.

[Illustration: 107.jpg GNOSTIC GEM]

Not content with these, Justin turned to the platonist, whose purer
philosophy seemed to add wings to his thoughts, and taught him to mount
aloft towards true wisdom. While turning over in his mind what he had
thus learned in the several schools, dissatisfied with the philosopher's
views, he chanced one day to meet with an old man walking on the
seashore near Alexandria, to whom he unbosomed his thoughts, and by whom
he was converted to Christianity. Justin tells us that there were no
people, whether Greeks or barbarians, or even dwellers in tent and
waggons, among whom prayers were not offered up to the heavenly father
in the name of the crucified Jesus. The Christians met every Sunday for
public worship, which began with a reading from the prophets, or from
the memoirs of the apostles called the gospels. This was followed by
a sermon, a prayer, the bread and wine, and a second prayer. Justin's
quotations prove that he is speaking of the New Testament, which within
a hundred years of the crucifixion wras read in all the principal cities
in which Greek was spoken. Justin died as a martyr in 163 A.D.

The platonic professorship in Alexandria had usually been held by an
Athenian, and for a short time Athenagoras of Athens taught that branch
of philosophy in the museum; but he afterwards embraced the Christian
religion, and then taught Christianity openly in Alexandria. He enjoys
with Justin the honour of being one of the first men of learning who
were converted, and, like Justin, his chief work is an apology for the
Christians, addressed to the emperor, Marcus Aurelius.


Athenagoras confines himself in his defence to the resurrection from
the dead and the unity of the Deity, the points chiefly attacked by the

Hadrian's Egyptian coins are remarkable both for number and variety. In
the sixth year of the reign we see a ship with spread sails, most likely
in gratitude for the emperor's safe arrival in Egypt. In the eighth year
we see the head of the favourite Antinous, who had been placed among the
gods of the country. In the eleventh year, when the emperor took up the
tribunitial power at Rome for a second period of ten years, we find a
series of coins, each bearing the name of the nome or district in which
it was coined. This indeed is the most remarkable year of the most
remarkable reign in the whole history of coinage; we have numerous coins
for every year of this reign, and, in this year, for nearly every nome
in Egypt. Some coins are strongly marked with the favourite opinion of
the Gnostics as to the opposition between good and evil.

[Illustration: 109.jpg Hadrian's Egyptian coins]

On one we have the war between the serpent of good and the serpent of
evil, distinguished by their different forms and by the emblems of Isis
and Serapis; on others the heads of Isis and Serapis, the principles of
love and fear; while on a third these two are united into a trinity by
Horus, who is standing on an eagle instead of having an eagle's head, as
represented on previous coins.

The beginning of the reign of Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138) was remarkable
as being the end of the Sothic period of one thousand four hundred and
sixty years; the movable new year's day of the calendar had come round
to the place in the natural year from which it first began to move in
the reign of Menophres or Thûtmosis III.; it had come round to the day
when the dog-star rose heliacally. If the years had been counted from
the beginning of this great year, there could have been no doubt when it
came to an end, as from the want of a leap year the new year's day
must have been always moving one day in four years; but no satisfactory
reckoning of the years had been kept, and, as the end of the period was
only known by observation, there was some little doubt about the exact
year. Indeed, among the Greek astronomers, Dositheus said the dog-star
rises heliacally twenty-three days after midsummer, Meton twenty-eight
days, and Euctemon thirty-one days; they thus left a doubt of thirty-two
years as to when the period should end, but the statesmen placed it in
the first year of the reign of Antoninus. This end of the Sothic period
Avas called the return to the phoenix, and had been looked forward to by
the Egyptians for many years, and is well marked on the coins of this
reign. The coins for the first eight years teem with astronomy. There
are several with the goddess Isis in a boat, which we know, from the
zodiac in the Memnonium at Thebes, was meant for the heliacal rising of
the dog-star. In the second and in the sixth year we find on the coins
the remarkable word aion, _the age_ or _period_, and an ibis with a
glory of rays round its head, meant for the bird phoenix. In the seventh
year we see Orpheus playing on his lyre while all the animals of the
forest are listening, thus pointing out the return of the golden age.
In the eighth year we have the head of Serapis circled by the seven
planets, and the whole within the twelve signs of the zodiac; and on
another coin we have the sun and moon within the signs of the zodiac. A
series of twelve coins for the same year tells us that the house of the
sun, in the language of the astrologers, is in the lion, that of the
moon in the crab, the houses of Venus in the scales and the bull, those
of Mars in the scorpion and the ram, those of Jupiter in the archer
and the fishes, those of Saturn in the sea-goat and aquarius, those of
Mercury in the virgin and the twins. On the coins of the same year we
have the eagle and thunderbolt, the sphinx, the bull Apis, the Nile and
crocodile, Isis nursing the child Horus, the hawk-headed Aroëris, and
the winged sun. On coins of other years we have a camelopard, Horus
sitting on the lotus-flower, and a sacrifice to Isis, which was
celebrated on the last day of the year.

The coins also tell us of the bountiful overflow of the Nile, and of
the goodness of the harvests that followed; thus, in the ninth, tenth,
thirteenth, and seventeenth years, we see the river Nile in the form
of an old man leaning on a crocodile, pouring corn and fruit out of a
cornucopia, while a child by his side, with the figures 36, tells
us that in those years the waters of the Nile rose at Memphis to the
wished-for height of sixteen cubits. From these latter coins it would
seem that but little change had taken place in the soil of the Delta by
the yearly deposit of mud; Herodotus says that sixteen cubits was the
wished-for rise of the Nile at Memphis when he was there. And we should
almost think that the seasons were more favourable to the husbandman
during the reign of an Antonine than of a Caligula, did we not set it
down to the canals being better cleansed by the care of the prefect, and
to the mildness of the government leaving the people at liberty to enjoy
the bounties of nature, and at the same time making them more grateful
in acknowledging them.

[Illustration: 112.jpg COINS OF ANTONINUS PIUS.]

The mystic emblems on the coins are only what we might look for from the
spread of the Gnostic opinions, and the eagerness with which the Greeks
were copying the superstitions of the Egyptians; and, while astrology
was thus countenanced by the state, of course it was not less followed
by the people. The poor Jews took to it as a trade. In Alexandria the
Jewess, half beggar, half fortune-teller, would stop people in the
streets and interpret dreams by the help of the Bible, or sit under a
sacred tree like a sibyl, and promise wealth to those who consulted her,
duly proportioned to the size of the coin by which she was paid. We find
among the Theban ruins pieces of papyrus with inscriptions, describing
the positions of the heavens at particular hours in this reign, for the
astrologers therewith to calculate the nativities of the persons then
born. On one is a complete horoscope, containing the places of the sun,
moon, and every planet, noted down on the zodiac in degrees and minutes
of a degree; and with these particulars the mathematician undertook to
foretell the marriage, fortune, and death of the person who had been
born at the instant when the heavenly bodies were so situated; and, as
the horoscope was buried in the tomb with the mummy, we must suppose
that it was thought that the prognostication would hold good even in the
next world.

But astrology was not the only end to which mathematics were then
turned. Claudius Ptolemy, the astronomer and geographer, was at that
time the ornament of the mathematical school of Alexandria. In his
writings he treats of the earth as the centre of the heavens, and the
sun, moon, and planets as moving in circles and epicycles round it. This
had been the opinion of some of the early astronomers; but since this
theory of the heavens received the stamp of his authority, it is now
always called the Ptolemaic system.

In this reign was made a new survey of all the military roads in the
Roman empire, called the _Itinerary of Antoninus_. It included the
great roads of Egypt, which were only six in number. One was from
Contra-Pselcis in Nubia along the east bank of the Nile, to Babylon
opposite Memphis, and there turning eastward through Heliopolis and the
district of the Jews to Clysmon, where Trajan's canal entered the Red
Sea. A second, from Memphis to Pelusium, made use of this for
about thirty miles, joining it at Babylon, and leaving it at Scense
Veteranorum. By these two roads a traveller could go from Pelusium to
the head of the Red Sea; but there was a shorter road through the desert
which joined the first at Serapion, about fifty miles from Clysmon,
instead of at Sceno Veteranorum, which was therefore about a hundred
miles shorter. A fourth was along the west bank of the Nile from Hiera
Sycaminon in Nubia to Alexandria, leaving the river at Andropolis,
about sixty miles from the latter city. A fifth was from Palestine to
Alexandria, running along the coast of the Mediterranean from Raphia to
Pelusium, and thence, leaving the coast to avoid the flat country, which
was under water during the inundation; it joined the last at Andropolis.
The sixth road was from Koptos on the Nile to Berenicê on the Red Sea.
These six were probably the only roads under the care of the prefect.
Though Syênê was the boundary of the province of Egypt, the Roman power
was felt for about one hundred miles into Nubia, and we find the names
of the emperors on several temples between Syênê and Hiera Sycaminon.
But beyond this, though we find inscriptions left by Roman travellers,
the emperors seem never to have aimed at making military roads, or
holding any cities against the inroads of the Blemmyes and other Arabs.

To this survey we must add the valuable geographical knowledge given
by Arrian in his voyage round the shores of the Red Sea, which has come
down to us in an interesting document, wherein he mentions the several
seaports and their distances, with the tribes and cities near the
coast. The trade of Egypt to India, Ethiopia, and Arabia was then most
valuable, and carried on with great activity; but, as the merchandise
was in each case carried only for short distances from city to city, the
traveller could gain but little knowledge of where it came from, or even
sometimes of where it was going.

[Illustration: 115.jpg STATUE OF THE NILE]

The Egyptians sent coarse linen, glass bottles, brazen vessels, brass
for money, and iron for weapons of war and hunting; and they received
back ivory, rhinoceros' teeth, Indian steel, Indian ink, silks, slaves,
tortoise-shell, myrrh, and other scents, with many other Eastern
articles of high price and little weight. The presents which the
merchants made to the petty kings of Arabia were chiefly horses, mules,
and gold and silver vases. Beside this, the ports on the Red Sea carried
on a brisk trade among themselves in grain, expressed oil, wicker
boats, and sugar. Of sugar, or honey from the cane, this is perhaps
the earliest mention found in history; but Arrian does not speak of
the sugar-cane as then new, nor does he tell us where it was grown. Had
sugar been then seen for the first time he would certainly have said
so; it must have been an article well known in the Indian trade. While
passing through Egypt on his travels, or while living there and holding
some post under the prefect, the historian Arrian has left us his name
and a few lines of poetry carved on the foot of the great sphinx near
the pyramids.

At this time also the travellers continued to carve their names and
their feelings of wonder on the foot of the musical statue at Thebes and
in the deep empty tombs of the Theban kings. These inscriptions are full
of curious information. For example, it has been doubted whether the
Roman army was provided with medical officers. Their writers have not
mentioned them. But part of the Second Legion was at this time stationed
at Thebes; and one Asclepiades, while cutting his name in a tomb which
once held some old Theban, has cleared up the doubt for us, by saying
that he was physician to the Second Legion.

Antoninus made a hippodrome, or race-course, for the amusement of the
citizens of Alexandria, and built two gates to the city, called the gate
of the sun and the gate of the moon, the former fronting the harbour and
the latter fronting the lake Mareotis, and joined by the great street
which ran across the whole width of the city. But this reign was not
wholly without trouble; there was a rebellion in which the prefect
Dinarchus lost his life, and for which the Alexandrians were severely
punished by the emperor.

[Illustration: 117.jpg COINS OF MARCUS AURELIUS]

The coins of Marcus Aurelius, the successor of Antoninus Pius, have a
rich variety of subjects, falling not far short of those of the last
reign. On those of the fifth year, the bountiful overflow of the Nile is
gratefully acknowledged by the figure of the god holding a cornucopia,
and a troop of sixteen children playing round him. It had been not
unusual in hieroglyphical writing to express a thought by means of a
figure which in the Koptic language had nearly the same sound; and we
have seen this copied on the coins in the case of a Greek word, when the
bird phoenix was used for the palm-branch phoenix, or the hieroglyphical
word _year_; and a striking instance may be noticed in the case of a
Latin word, as the sixteen children or _cupids_ mean sixteen _cubits_,
the wished-for height of the Nile's overflow. The statue of the Nile,
which had been carried by Vespasian to Rome and placed in the temple of
Peace, was surrounded by the same sixteen children. On the coins of his
twelfth year the sail held up by the goddess Isis is blown towards the
Pharos lighthouse, as if in that year the emperor had been expected in

We find no coins in the eleventh or fourteenth years of this reign,
which makes it probable that it was in the eleventh year (A.D. 172) that
the rebellion of the native soldiers took place. These were very likely
Arabs who had been admitted into the ranks of the legions, but having
withdrawn to the desert they now harassed the towns with their marauding
inroads, and a considerable time elapsed before they were wholly put
down by Avidius Cassius at the head of the legions. But Cassius himself
was unable to resist the temptations which always beset a successful
general, and after this victory he allowed himself to be declared
emperor by the legions of Egypt; and this seems to have been the cause
of no coins being struck in Alexandria in the fourteenth year of the
reign. Cassius left his son Moecianus in Alexandria with the title of
Pretorian Prefect, while he himself marched into Syria to secure that
province. There the legions followed the example of their brethren in
Egypt, and the Syrians were glad to acknowledge a general of the Eastern
armies as their sovereign. But on Marcus leading an army into Syria he
was met with the news that the rebels had repented, and had put Cassius
to death, and he then moved his forces towards Egypt; but before his
arrival the Egyptian legions had in the same manner put Moecianus to
death, and all had returned to their allegiance.

When Marcus arrived in Alexandria the citizens were agreeably surprised
by the mildness of his conduct. He at once forgave his enemies; and
no offenders were put to death for having joined in the rebellion. The
severest punishment, even to the children of Cassius, was banishment
from the province, but without restraint, and with the forfeiture of
less than half their patrimony. In Alexandria the emperor laid aside the
severity of the soldier, and mingled with the people as a fellow-citizen
in the temples and public places; while with the professors in the
museum he was a philosopher, joining them in their studies in the

Borne and Athens at this time alike looked upon Alexandria as the centre
of the world's learning. The library was then in its greatest glory;
the readers were numerous, and Christianity had as yet raised no doubts
about the value of its pagan treasures. All the wisdom of Greece,
written on rolls of brittle papyrus or tough parchment, was ranged in
boxes on the shelves. Of these writings the few that have been saved
from the wreck of time are no doubt some of the best, and they are
perhaps enough to guide our less simple taste towards the unornamented
grace of the Greek model. But we often fancy those treasures most
valuable that are beyond our reach, and hence when we run over the names
of the authors in this library we think perhaps too much of those which
are now missing. The student in the museum could have read the lyric
poems of Alcæus and Stersichorus, which in matter and style were
excellent enough to be judged not quite so good as Homer; the tender
lamentations of Simonides; the warm breathings of Sappho, the tenth
muse; the pithy iambics of Archilochus, full of noble flights and
brave irregularities; the comedies of Menander, containing every kind
of excellence; those of Eupolis and Cratinus, which were equal to
Aristophanes; the histories of Theopompus, which in the speeches were
as good as Thucydides; the lively, agreeable orations of Hyperides, the
accuser of Demosthenes; with the books of travels, chronologies, and
countless others of less merit for style and genius, but which, if they
had been saved, would not have left Egypt wholly without a history.

[Illustration: 120.jpg ALEXANDRIAN FORMS OF WRITING]

The trade of writing and making copies of the old authors employed
a great many hands in the neighbourhood of the museum. Two kinds of
handwriting were in use. One was a running hand, with the letters joined
together in rather a slovenly manner; and the other a neat, regular
hand, with the letters square and larger, written more slowly but read
more easily. Those that wrote the first were called _quick-writers_,
those that wrote the second were called _book-writers_. If an author was
not skilled in the use of the pen, he employed a _quickwriter_ to write
down his words as he delivered them. But in order that his work might be
published it was handed over to the _book-writers_ to be copied out more
neatly; and numbers of young women, skilled in penmanship, were employed
in the trade of copying books for sale. For this purpose parchment
was coming into use, though the old papyrus was still used, as an
inexpensive though less lasting writing material.

Athenæus, if we may judge from Iris writings, was then the brightest of
the Alexandrian wits and men of learning. We learn from his own pages
that he was born at Naucratis, and was the friend of Pancrates, who
lived under Hadrian, and also of Oppian, who died in the reign of
Caracalla. His _Deipnosophist_, or table-talk of the philosophers, is a
large work full of pleasing anecdotes and curious information, gathered
from comic writers and authors without number that have long since been
lost. But it is put together with very little skill. His industry and
memory are more remarkable than his judgment or good taste; and the
table-talk is too often turned towards eating and drinking. His amusing
work is a picture of society in Alexandria, where everything frivolous
was treated as grave, and everything serious was laughed at. The wit
sinks into scandal, the humour is at the cost of morality, and the
numerous quotations are chosen for their point, not for any lofty
thoughts or noble feeling. Alexandria was then as much the seat of
literary wit as it was of dry criticism; and Martial, the lively author
of the _Epigrams_, had fifty years before remarked that there were few
places in the world where he would more wish his verses to be repeated
than on the banks of the Nile.

Nothing could be lower than the poetic taste in Alexandria at this time.
The museum was giving birth to a race of poets who, instead of bringing
forth thoughts out of their own minds, found them in the storehouse of
the memory only. They wrote their patchwork poems by the help of Homer's
lines, which they picked from all parts of the Iliad and Odyssey and
so put together as to make them tell a new tale. They called themselves
Homeric poets.

Lucian, the author of the _Dialogues_, was at that time secretary to the
prefect of Egypt, and this philosopher found a broad mark for his
humour in the religion of the Egyptians, their worship of animals and
water-jars, their love of magic, the general mourning through the land
on the death of the bull Apis, their funeral ceremonies, their placing
of their mummies round the dinner-table as so many guests, and pawning a
father or a brother when in want of money.

[Illustration: 122.jpg A SNAKE-CHARMER]

So little had the customs changed that the young Egyptians of high birth
still wore their long hair tied in one lock, and hanging over the right
ear, as we see on the Theban sculptures fifteen centuries earlier. It
was then a mark of royalty, but had since been adopted by many families
of high rank, and continues to be used even in the twentieth century.

[Illustration: 123.jpg THE SIGN OF NOBILITY]

Before the end of this reign we meet with a strong proof of the spread
of Christianity in Egypt. The number of believers made it necessary for
the Bishop of Alexandria to appoint three bishops under him, to look
after the churches in three other cities; and accordingly Demetrius, who
then held that office, took upon himself the rank, if not the name, of
Patriarch of Alexandria. A second proof of the spread of Christianity
is the pagan philosophers thinking it necessary to write against it.
Celsus, an Epicurean of Alexandria, was one of the first to attack it.
Origen answered the several arguments of Celsus with skill and candour.
He challenges his readers to a comparison between the Christians and
pagans in point of morals, in Alexandria or in any other city. He
argues in the most forcible way that Christianity had overcome all
difficulties, and had spread itself far and wide against the power of
kings and emperors, and he says that nobody but a Christian ever died
a martyr to the truth of his religion. He makes good use of the Jewish
prophecies; but he brings forward no proofs in support of the truth of
the gospel history; they were not wanted, as Celsus and the pagans had
not considered it necessary to call it into question.

Another proof of the number of Egyptian Christians is seen in the
literary frauds of which their writers were guilty, most likely to
satisfy the minds of those pagan converts that they had already made
rather than from a wish to make new believers. About this time was
written by an unknown Christian author a poem in eight books, named the
_Sibylline Verses_ which must not be mistaken for the pagan fragments
of the same name. It is written in the form of a prophecy, in the style
used by the Gnostics, and is full of dark sentences and half-expressed

Another spurious Christian work of about the same time is the
_Clementina_, or the _Recognitions of Clemens_, Bishop of Rome. It is
an account of the travels of the Apostle Peter and his conversation with
Simon Magus; but the author's knowledge of the Egyptian mythology, of
the opinions of the Greek philosophers, and of the astrological rules by
which fortunes are foretold from the planets' places, amply prove that
he was an Egyptian or an Alexandrian. No name ranked higher among the
Christians than that of Clemens Romanus; and this is only one out of
several cases of Christian authors who wished to give weight to their
own opinions by passing them upon the world as his writings.

Marcus Aurelius, who died in 181 A.D., had pardoned the children of the
rebel general Avidius Cassius, but Commodus began his reign by putting
them to death; and, while thus disregarding the example and advice of
his father, he paid his memory the idle compliment of continuing his
series of dates on his own coins. But the Egyptian coinage of Commodus
clearly betrays the sad change that was gradually taking place in the
arts of the country; we no longer see the former beauty and variety of
subjects; and the silver, which had before been very much mixed with
copper, was under Commodus hardly to be known from brass.

[Illustration: 125.jpg CARTOUCHE OF COMMODUS]

Commodus was very partial to the Egyptian superstitions, and he adopted
the tonsure, and had his head shaven like a priest of Isis, that he
might more properly carry an Anubis staff in sacred processions, which
continued to be a feature of the religious activities of the age. Upper
Egypt had latterly been falling off in population. It had been drained
of all its hoarded wealth. Its carrying trade through Koptos to the Red
Sea was much lessened. Any tribute that its temples received from the
piety of the neighbourhood was small. Nubia was a desert; and a few
soldiers at Syênê were enough to guard the poverty of the Thebaid
from the inroads of the Blemmyes. It was no longer necessary to
send criminals to the Oasis; it was enough to banish them to the
neighbourhood of Thebes. Hence we learn but little of the state of
the country. Now and then a traveller, after measuring the pyramids of
Memphis and the underground tombs of Thebes, might venture as far as the
cataracts, and watch the sun at noon on the longest day shining to the
bottom of the sacred well at Syênê, like the orator Aristides and his
friend Dion. But such travellers were few; the majority of those who
made this journey have left the fact on record.

The celebrated museum, which had held the vast library of the Ptolemies,
had been burnt by the soldiers of Julius Cæsar in one of their battles
with the Egyptian army in the streets of Alexandria; but the loss had
been in part repaired by Mark Antony's gift of the library from Pergamus
to the temple of Serapis. The new library, however, would seem to have
been placed in a building somewhat separated from the temple, as when
the temple of Serapis was burnt in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, and
again when it was in part destroyed by fire in the second year of this
reign we hear of no loss of books; and two hundred years later the
library of the Serapium, it is said, had risen to the number of seven
hundred thousand volumes. The temple-keeper to the great god Serapis, or
one of the temple-keepers, at this time was Asclepiades, a noted boxer
and wrestler, who had been made chief of the wrestling-ground and had
received the high rank of the emperor's freedman. He set up a statue to
his father Demetrius, an equally noted boxer and wrestler, who had been
chief priest of the wrestling-ground and of the emperor's baths in the
last reign.

[Illustration: 126.jpg THE ANUBIS STAFF]

Another favourite in the theatre was Apolaustus of Memphis, who removed
to Rome, where he was crowned as conqueror in the games, and as a reward
made priest to Apollo and emperor's freedman.

The city of Canopus was still a large mart for merchandise, as the
shallow but safe entrance to its harbour made it a favourite with pilots
of the small trading vessels, who rather dreaded the rocks at the mouth
of the harbour of Alexandria. A temple of Serapis which had lately been
built at Canopus was dedicated to the god in the name of the Emperor
Commodus; and there some of the grosser superstitions of the polytheists
fled before the spread of Christianity and platonism in Alexandria. The
Canopic jars, which held those parts of the body that could not be made
solid in the mummy, and which had the heads of the four lesser gods
of the dead on their lids, received their name from this city. The
sculptures on the beautiful temples of Contra-Latopolis were also
finished in this reign, and the emperor's names and titles were carved
on the walls in hieroglyphics, with those of the Ptolemies, under whom
the temple itself had been built. Commodus may perhaps not have been
the last emperor whose name and praises were carved in hieroglyphics;
but all the great buildings in the Thebaid, which add such value to the
early history of Egypt, had ceased before his reign. Other buildings of
a less lasting form were no doubt being built, such as the Greek temples
at Antinoopolis and Ptolemais, which have long since been swept away;
but the Egyptian priests, with their gigantic undertakings, their noble
plan of working for after ages rather than for themselves, were nearly
ruined, and we find no ancient building now standing in Egypt that was
raised after the time of the dynasty of the Antonines.

[Illustration: 128.jpg CANOPIC JARS]

But the poverty of the Egyptians was not the only cause why they built
no more temples. Though the colossal statue of Amenhôthes uttered
its musical notes every morning at sunrise, still tuneful amid the
desolation with which it was surrounded, and the Nile was still
worshipped at midsummer by the husbandman to secure its fertilising
overflow; nevertheless, the religion itself for which the temples had
been built was fast giving way before the silent spread of Christianity.
The religion of the Egyptians, unlike that of the Greeks, was no
longer upheld by the magistrate; it rested solely on the belief of its
followers, and it may have merged into Christianity the faster for the
greater number of truths which were contained in it than in the paganism
of other nations. The scanty hieroglyphical records tell us little
of thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Indeed that cumbersome mode of
writing, which alone was used in religious matters, was little fitted
for anything beyond the most material parts of their mythology. Hence
we must not believe that the Egyptian polytheism was quite so gross as
would appear from the sculptures; and indeed we there learn that they
believed, even at the earliest times, in a resurrection from the tomb, a
day of judgment, and a future state of rewards and punishments.

The priests made a great boast of their learning and philosophy, and
could each repeat by heart those books of Thot which belonged to his own
order. The singer, who walked first in the sacred processions, bearing
the symbols of music, could repeat the books of hymns and the rules for
the king's life. The soothsayer, who followed, carrying a clock and a
palm-branch, the emblem of the year, could repeat the four astrological
books; one on the moon's phases, one on the fixed stars, and two on
their heliacal risings. The scribe, who walked next, carrying a book
and the flat rule which held the ink and pen, was acquainted with the
geography of the world and of the Nile, and with those books which
describe the motions of the sun, moon, and planets, and the furniture
of the temple and consecrated places. The master of the robes understood
the ten books relating to education, to the marks on the sacred
heifers, and to the worship of the gods, embracing the sacrifices, the
first-fruits, the hymns, the prayers, the processions, and festivals.
The prophet or preacher, who walked last, carrying in his arms the
great water-pot, was the president of the temple, and learned in the ten
books, called hieratic, relating to the laws, the gods, the management
of the temples, and the revenue. Thus, of the forty-two chief books of
Thot, thirty-six were learned by these priests, while the remaining
six on the body, its diseases, and medicines, were learned by the
Pastophori, priests who carried the image of the god in a small shrine.
These books had been written at various times: some may have been very
old, but some were undoubtedly new; they together formed the Egyptian
bible. Apollonius, or Apollonides Horapis, an Egyptian priest, had
lately published a work on these matters in his own language, named
Shomenuthi, _the book of the gods_.

[Illustration: 130.jpg RELIGIOUS PROCESSION]

But the priests were no longer the earnest, sincere teachers as of
old; they had invented a system of secondary meanings, by which they
explained away the coarse religion of their statues and sacred animals.

They had two religions, one for the many and one for the few; one,
material and visible, for the crowds in the outer courtyards, in which
the hero was made a god and every attribute of deity was made a person;
and another, spiritual and intellectual, for the learned in the schools
and sacred colleges. Even if we were not told, we could have no doubt
but the main point of secret knowledge among the learned was a disbelief
in those very doctrines which they were teaching to the vulgar, and
which they now explained among themselves by saying that they had a
second meaning. This, perhaps, was part of the great secret of the
goddess Isis, the secret of Abydos, the betrayer of which was more
guilty than he who should try to stop the _baris_ or sacred barge in the
procession on the Nile. The worship of gods, before whose statues the
nation had bowed with unchanging devotion for at least two thousand
years was now drawing to a close. Hitherto the priests had been able to
resist all new opinions.

[Illustration: 131.jpg SHRINE]

The name of Amon-Ra had at one time been cut out from the Theban
monuments to make way for a god from Lower Egypt; but it had been cut in
again when the storm passed by. The Jewish monotheism had left the
crowd of gods unlessened. The Persian efforts had overthrown statues and
broken open temples, but had not been able to introduce their worship of
the sun. The Greek conquerors had yielded to the Egyptian mind without
a struggle; and Alexander had humbly begged at the door of the temple
to be acknowledged as a son of Amon. But in the fulness of time
these opinions, which seemed as firmly based as the monuments which
represented them, sunk before a religion which set up no new statues,
and could command no force to break open temples.

The Egyptian priests, who had been proud of the superiority of their own
doctrines over the paganism of their neighbours, mourned the overthrow
of their national religion. "Our land," says the author of Hermes
Trismegistus, "is the temple of the world; but, as wise men should
foresee all things, you should know that a time is coming when it will
seem that the Egyptians have by an unfailing piety served God in
vain. For when strangers shall possess this kingdom religion will
be neglected, and laws made against piety and divine worship, with
punishment on those who favour it. Then this holy seat will be full of
idolatry, idols' temples, and dead men's tombs. O Egypt, Egypt, there
shall remain of thy religion but vague stories which posterity will
refuse to believe, and words graven in stone recounting thy piety. The
Scythian, the Indian, or some other barbarous neighbour shall dwell in
Egypt. The Divinity shall reascend into the heaven; and Egypt shall be a
desert, widowed of men and gods."

The spread of Christianity among the Egyptians was such that their
teachers found it necessary to supply them with a life of Jesus, written
in their own language, that they might the more readily explain to
them his claim to be obeyed, and the nature of his commands. The Gospel
according to the Egyptians, for such was the name this work bore, has
long since been lost, and was little quoted by the Alexandrians. It was
most likely a translation from one of the four gospels, though it had
some different readings suited to its own church, and contained some
praise of celibacy not found in the New Testament; but it was not valued
by the Greeks, and was lost on the spread of the Koptic translation of
the whole New Testament.

The grave, serious Christians of Upper Egypt were very unlike the lively
Alexandrians. But though the difference arose from peculiarities of
national character, it was only spoken of as a difference of opinion.
The Egyptians formed an ascetic sect in the church, who were called
heretics by the Alexandrians, and named Docetas, because they taught
that the Saviour was a god, and did not really suffer on the cross, but
was crucified only _in appearance_. They of necessity used the Gospel
according to the Egyptians, which is quoted by Cassianus, one of their
writers; many of them renounced marriage with, the other pleasures
and duties of social life, and placed their chief virtue in painful
self-denial; and out of them sprang that remarkable class of hermits,
monks, and fathers of the desert who in a few centuries covered Europe
with monasteries.

It is remarkable that the translation of a gospel into Koptic introduced
a Greek alphabet into the Koptic language. Though for all religious
purposes the scribes continued to use the ancient hieroglyphics, in
which we trace the first steps by which pictures are made to represent
words and syllables rather than letters, yet for the common purposes of
writing they had long since made use of the _enchorial_ or common hand,
in which the earlier system of writing is improved by the characters
representing only letters, though sadly too numerous for each to have a
fixed and well-known force. But, as the hieroglyphics were also always
used for carved writing on all subjects, and the common hand only used
on papyrus with a reed pen, the latter became wholly an indistinct
running hand; it lost that beauty and regularity which the
hieroglyphics, like the Greek and Roman characters, kept by being carved
on stone, and hence it would seem arose the want of a new alphabet for
the New Testament. This was made by merely adding to the Greek alphabet
six new letters borrowed from the hieroglyphics for those sounds which
the Greeks did not use; and the writing was then written from left to
right like a European language instead of in either direction according
to the skill or fancy of the scribe.

It was only upon the ancient hieroglyphics thus falling into disuse that
the Greeks of Alexandria, almost for the first time, had the
curiosity to study the principles on which they were written. Clemens
Alexandrinus, who thought no branch of knowledge unworthy of his
attention, gives a slight account of them, nearly agreeing with the
results of our modern discoveries. He mentions the three kinds of
writing; first, the _hieroglyphic_; secondly, the _hieratic_, which is
nearly the same, but written with a pen, and less ornamental than
the carved figures; and thirdly, the _demotic_, or common alphabetic
writing. He then divides the hieroglyphic into the alphabetic and
the symbolic; and lastly, he divides the symbolic characters into the
imitative, the figurative, and those formed like riddles. As instances
of these last we may quote, for the first, the three zigzag lines which
by simple imitation mean "water;" for the second, the oval which mean
"a name," because kings' names were written within ovals; and for the
third, a cup with three anvils, which mean "Lord of Battles," because
"cup" and "lord" have nearly the same sound _neb_, and "anvils" and
"battles" have nearly the same sound _meshe_.

In this reign Pantonus of Athens, a Stoic philosopher, held the first
place among the Christians of Alexandria. He is celebrated for uniting
the study of heathen learning with a religious zeal which led him to
preach Christianity in Abyssinia.


He introduced a taste for philosophy among the Christians; and, though
Athenagoras rather deserves that honour, he was called the founder
of the catechetical school which gave birth to the series of learned
Christian writers that flourished in Alexandria for the next century. To
have been a learned man and a Christian, and to have encouraged learning
among the catechists in his schools may seem deserving of no great
praise. Was the religion of Jesus to spread ignorance and darkness over
the world? But we must remember that a new religion cannot be introduced
without some danger that learning and science may get forbidden,
together with the ancient superstitions which had been taught in the
same schools; we shall hereafter see that in the quarrels between pagans
and Christians, and again between the several sects of Christians,
learning was often reproached with being unfavourable to true religion;
and then it will be granted that it was no small merit to have founded
a school in which learning and Christianity went hand in hand for nearly
two centuries. Pantænus has left no writings of his own, and is best
known through his pupil or fellow-student, Clemens. He is said to have
brought with him to Alexandria, from the Jewish Christians that he met
with on his travels, a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel in the original
Hebrew, a work now unfortunately lost, which, if we possessed it, would
settle for us the disputed point, whether or no it contained all that
now bears that Apostle's name in the Greek translation.

The learned, industrious, and pious Clemens, who, to distinguish him
from Clemens of Rome, is usually called Clemens Alexandrinus, succeeded
Pantænus in the catechetical school, and was at the same time a
voluminous writer. He was in his philosophy a platonist, though
sometimes called of the Eclectic school. He has left an Address to the
Gentiles, a treatise on Christian behaviour called Pedagogus, and eight
books of Stromata, or _collections_, which he wrote to describe the
perfect Christian or Gnostic, to furnish the believer with a model for
his imitation, and to save him from being led astray by the sects of
Gnostics "falsely so called." By his advice, and by the imitation of
Christ, the Christian is to step forward from faith, through love, to
knowledge; from being a slave, he is to become a faithful servant and
then a son; he is to become at last a god walking in the flesh.

Clemens was not wholly free from the mysticism which was the chief mark
of the Gnostic sect. He thought much of the sacred power of numbers.
Abraham had three hundred and eighteen servants when he rescued Lot,
which, when written in Greek numerals thus, IHT formed the sacred sign
for the name of Jesus. Ten was a perfect number, and is that of the
commandments given to Moses. Seven was a glorious number, and there
are seven Pleiades, seven planets, seven days in the week; and the
two fishes and five barley loaves, with which the multitude were
miraculously fed, together make the number of years of plenty in Egypt
under Joseph. Clemens also quotes several lines in praise of the seventh
day, which he says were from Homer, Hesiod, and Callimachus; but here
there is reason to believe that he was deceived by the pious fraud of
some zealous Jew or Christian, as no such lines are now to be found in
the pagan poets.

During the reign of Pertinax, which lasted only three months (194 A.D.),
we find no trace of his power in Egypt, except the money which the
Alexandrians coined in his name. It seems to have been the duty of the
prefect of the mint, as soon as he heard of an emperor's death, to lose
no time in issuing coins in the name of his successor. It was one of the
means to proclaim and secure the allegiance of the province for the new

During the reign of Commodus, Pescennius Niger had been at the head of
the legion that was employed in Upper Egypt in stopping the inroads of
their troublesome neighbours, who already sometimes bore the name of
Saracens. He was a hardy soldier, and strict in his discipline, while he
shared the labours of the field and of the camp with the men under him.
He would not allow them the use of wine; and once, when the troops that
guarded the frontier at Syênê (Aswan) sent to ask for it, he bluntly
answered, "You have got the Nile to drink, and cannot possibly want
more." Once, when a cohort had been routed by the Saracens, the men
complained that they could not fight without wine; but he would not
relax in his discipline. "Those who have just now beaten you," said
Niger, "drink nothing but water." He gained the love and thanks of the
people of Upper Egypt by thus bridling the lawlessness of the troops;
and they gave him his statue cut in black basalt, in allusion to his
name Niger. This statue was placed in his Roman villa.

[Illustration: 138b.jpg A NATIVE OF ASWAN]

But on the death of Pertinax, when Septimus Severus declared himself
emperor in Pannonia, Niger, who was then in the province of Syria, did
the same. Egypt and the Egyptian legions readily and heartily joined
his party, which made it unnecessary for him to stay in that part of
the empire; so he marched upon Greece, Thrace, and Macedonia. But there,
after a few months, he was met by the army of his rival, who also sent
a second army into Egypt; and he was defeated and slain at Cyzicus in
Mysia, after having been acknowledged as emperor in Egypt and Syria for
perhaps a year and a few months.


We find no Alexandrian coins of Niger, although we cannot allow a
shorter space of time to his reign than one whole year, together with
a few months of the preceding and following years. Within that time
Severus had to march upon Rome against his first rival, Julian, to
punish the praetorian guards, and afterwards to conquer Niger.

After the death of his rival, when Severus was the undisputed master of
the empire, and was no longer wanted in the other provinces, he found
leisure, in A.D. 196, to visit Egypt; and, like other active-minded
travellers, he examined the pyramids of Memphis and the temples at
Thebes, and laughed at the worship of Serapis and the Egyptian animals.
His visit to Alexandria wras marked by many new laws. Now that the
Greeks of that city, crushed beneath two centuries of foreign rule, had
lost any remains of courage or of pride that could make them feared by
their Roman master, he relaxed part of the strict policy of Augustus. He
gave them a senate and a municipal form of government, a privilege that
had hitherto been refused in distrust to that great city, though freely
granted in other provinces where rebellion was less dreaded. He also
ornamented the city with a temple to Rhea, and with a public bath, which
was named after himself the Bath of Severus.

Severus made a law, says the pagan historian, forbidding anybody, under
a severe punishment, from becoming Jew or Christian. But he who gives
the blow is likely to speak of it more lightly than he who smarts under
it; and we learn from the historian of the Church that, in the tenth
year of this reign, the Christians suffered persecution from their
governors and their fellow-citizens. Among others who then lost their
lives for their religion was Leonides, the father of Origen. He left
seven orphan children, of whom the eldest, that justly celebrated
writer, was only sixteen years old, but was already deeply read in
the Scriptures, and in the great writers of Greece. As the property of
Leonides was forfeited, his children were left in poverty; but the young
Origen was adopted by a wealthy lady, zealous for the new religion,
by whose help he was enabled to continue his studies under Clemens. In
order to read the Old Testament in the original, he made himself master
of Hebrew, which was a study then very unusual among the Greeks, whether
Jews or Christians.

In this persecution of the Church all public worship was forbidden to
the Christians; and Tertullian of Carthage eloquently complains that,
while the emperor allowed the Egyptians to worship cows, goats, or
crocodiles, or indeed any animal they chose, he only punished those that
bowed down before the Creator and Governor of the world. Of course,
at this time of trouble the catechetical school was broken up and
scattered, so that there was no public teaching of Christianity in
Alexandria. But Origen ventured to do that privately which was forbidden
to be done openly; and, when the storm had blown over, Demetrius, the
bishop, appointed him to that office at the head of the school which he
had already so bravely taken upon himself in the hour of danger. Origen
could boast of several pupils who added their names to the noble list of
martyrs who lost their lives for Christianity, among whom the best known
was Plutarch, the brother of Heraclas. Origen afterwards removed for a
time to Palestine, and fell under the displeasure of his own bishop for
being there ordained a presbyter.

In Egypt Severus seems to have dated the years of his reign from the
death of Niger, though he had reigned in Rome since the deaths of
Pertinax and Julian. His Egyptian coins are either copper, or brass
plated with a little silver; and after a few reigns even those last
traces of a silver coinage are lost in this falling country. In tracing
the history of a word's meaning we often throw a light upon the customs
of a nation. Thus, in Rome, gold was so far common that avarice was
called the love of gold; while in Greece, where silver was the metal
most in use, money was called _argurion_. In the same way it is
curiously shown that silver was no longer used in Egypt by our finding
that the brass coin of one hundred and ten grains weight, as being the
only piece of money seen in circulation, was named an _argurion_.

The latter years of the reign of Caracalla were spent in visiting the
provinces of his wide empire; and, after he had passed through Thrace
and Asia Minor, Egypt had the misfortune to be honoured by a visit from
its emperor. The satirical Alexandrians, who in the midst of their own
follies and vices were always clever in lashing those of their rulers,
had latterly been turning their unseemly jokes against Caracalla. They
had laughed at his dressing like Achilles and Alexander the Great, while
in his person he was below the usual height; and they had not forgotten
his murder of his brother, and his talking of marrying his own mother.
Some of these dangerous witticisms had reached his ears at Rome, and
they were not forgotten. But Caracalla never showed his displeasure;
and, as he passed through Antioch, he gave out that he was going to
visit the city founded by Alexander the Great, and to consult the oracle
in the temple of Serapis.

The Alexandrians in their joy got ready the hecatombs for his
sacrifices; and the emperor entered their city through rows of torches
to the sound of soft music, while the air was sweetened with costly
scents, and the road scattered with flowers. After a few days he
sacrificed in the temple of Serapis, and then visited the tomb of
Alexander, where he took off his scarlet cloak, his rings, and his
girdle covered with precious stones, and dutifully laid them on the
sarcophagus of the hero. The Alexandrians were delighted with their
visitor; and crowds flocked into the city to witness the daily and
nightly shows, little aware of the unforgiving malice that was lurking
in his mind.

The emperor then issued a decree that all the youths of Alexandria of an
age to enter the army should meet him in a plain on the outside of the
city; they had already a Macedonian and a Spartan phalanx, and he was
going to make an Alexandrian phalanx. Accordingly the plain was filled
with thousands of young men, who were ranged in bodies according to
their height, their age, and their fitness for bearing arms, while their
friends and relations came in equal numbers to be witnesses of their

The emperor moved through their ranks, and was loudly greeted with their
cheers, while the army which encircled the whole plain was gradually
closing round the crowd and lessening the circle. When the ring was
formed, Caracalla withdrew with his guards and gave the looked-for
signal. The soldiers then lowered their spears and charged on the
unarmed crowd, of whom a part were butchered and part driven headlong
into the ditches and canals; and such was the slaughter that the waters
of the Nile, which at midsummer are always red with the mud from the
upper country, were said to have flowed coloured to the sea with
the blood of the sufferers. Caracalla then returned to Antioch,
congratulating himself on the revenge that he had taken on the
Alexandrians for their jokes; not however till he had consecrated in the
temple of Serapis the sword with which he boasted that he had slain his
brother Geta.

Caracalla also punished the Alexandrians by stopping the public games
and the allowance of grain to the citizens; and, to lessen the danger of
their rebelling, he had the fortifications carried between the rest
of the city and the great palace-quarter, the Bruchium, thus dividing
Alexandria into two fortified cities, with towers on the walls
between them. Hitherto, under the Romans as under the Ptolemies, the
Alexandrians had been the trusted favourites of their rulers, who made
use of them to keep the Egyptians in bondage. But under Caracalla that
policy was changed; the Alexandrians were treated as enemies; and we see
for the first time Egyptians taking their seat in the Roman senate, and
the Egyptian religion openly cultivated by the emperor, who then built a
temple in Rome to the goddess Isis.

On the murder of Caracalla in A.D. 217, Macrinus, who was thought to be
the author of his death, was acknowledged as emperor; and though he only
reigned for about two months, yet, as the Egyptian new year's day fell
within that time, we find Alexandrian coins for the first and second
years of his reign. The Egyptians pretended that the death of Caracalla
had been foretold by signs from heaven; that a ball of fire had fallen
on the temple of Serapis, which destroyed nothing but the sword with
which Caracalla had slain his brother; and that an Egyptian named
Serapion, who had been thrown into a lion's den for naming Macrinus as
the future emperor, had escaped unhurt by the wild beasts.

Macrinus recalled from Alexandria Julian, the prefect of Egypt, and
appointed to that post his friend Basilianus, with Marius Secundus, a
senator, as second in command, who was the first senator that had ever
held command in Egypt. He was himself at Antioch when Bassianus, a
Syrian, pretending to be the son of Caracalla, offered himself to the
legions as that emperor's successor. When the news reached Alexandria
that the Syrian troops had joined the pretended Antoninus, the prefect
Basilianus at once put to death the public couriers that brought the
unwelcome tidings. But when, a few days afterwards, it was known that
Macrinus had been defeated and killed, the doubts about his successor
led to serious struggles between the troops and the Alexandrians. The
Alexandrians could have had no love for a son of Caracalla; Basilianus
and Secundus had before declared against him; but, on the other hand,
the choice of the soldiers was guided by their brethren in Syria. The
citizens flew to arms, and day after day was the battle fought in the
streets of Alexandria between two parties, neither of whom was strong
enough, even if successful, to have any weight in settling the fate of
the Roman empire. Marius Secundus lost his life in the struggle. The
prefect Basilianus fled to Italy to escape from his own soldiers; and
the province of Egypt then followed the example of the rest of the East
in acknowledging the new emperor.

For four years Rome was disgraced by the sovereignty of Elagabalus,
the pretended son of Caracalla, and we find his coins each year in
Alexandria. He was succeeded by the young Alexander, whose amiable
virtues, however, could not gain for him the respect which he lost
by the weakness of his government. The Alexandrians, always ready to
lampoon their rulers, laughed at his wish to be thought a Roman; they
called him the Syrian, the high priest, and the ruler of the synagogue.
And well might they think slightly of his government, when a prefect of
Egypt owed his appointment to the emperor's want of power to punish him.
Epagathus had headed a mutiny of the prætorian guards in Rome, in which
their general Ulpian was killed; and Alexander, afraid to punish the
murderers, made the ringleader of the rebels prefect of Egypt in order
to send him out of the way; so little did it then seem necessary to
follow the cautious policy of Augustus, or to fear a rebellion in that
province. But after a short time, when Epagathus had been forgotten by
the Roman legion, he was removed to the government of Crete, and then at
last punished with death.

In this reign Ammonius Saccas became the founder of a new and most
important school of philosophy, that of the Alexandrian platonists. He
is only known to us through his pupils, in whose writings we trace the
mind and system of the teacher. The most celebrated of these pupils were
Plotinus, Herennius, and Origen, a pagan writer, together with Longinus,
the great master of the "sublime," who owns him his teacher in elegant
literature. Ammonius was unequalled in the variety and depth of his
knowledge, and was by his followers called heaven-taught. He aimed at
putting an end to the triflings and quarrels of the philosophers by
showing that all the great truths were the same in each system, and
by pointing out where Plato and Aristotle agreed instead of where
they differed; or rather by culling opinions out of both schools of
philosophy, and by gathering together the scattered limbs of Truth,
whose lovely form had been hewn to pieces and thrown to the four winds
like the mangled body of Osiris.

Origen in the tenth year of this reign (A.D. 231) withdrew to Cæsarea,
on finding himself made uncomfortable at Alexandria by the displeasure
of Demetrius the bishop; and he left the care of the Christian school to
Heraclas, who had been one of his pupils. Origen's opinions met with no
blame in Cæsarea, where Christianity was not yet so far removed from its
early simplicity as in Egypt.

The Christians of Syria and Palestine highly prized his teaching when
it was no longer valued in Alexandria. He died at Tyre in the reign of

[Illustration: 149.jpg A MODERN SCRIBE]

On the death of Demetrius, Heraclas, who had just before succeeded
Origen in the charge of the Christian school, was chosen Bishop of
Alexandria; and Christianity had by that time so far spread through the
cities of Upper and Lower Egypt that he found it necessary to ordain
twenty bishops under him, while three had been found enough by his
predecessor. From his being the head of the bishops, who were all styled
fathers, Heraclas received the title of _Papa_, pope or grandfather, the
title afterwards used by the bishops of Rome.

Among the presbyters ordained by Heraclas was Ammonius Saccas, the
founder of the platonic school; but he afterwards forsook the religion
of Jesus; and we must not mistake him for a second Alexandrian Christian
of the name of Ammonius, who can hardly have been the same person as
the former, for he never changed his religion, and was the author of
the _Evangelical Canons_, a work afterwards continued by Eusebius of

On the death of the Emperor Alexander, in A.D. 235, while Italy was
torn to pieces by civil wars and by its generals' rival claims for the
purple, the Alexandrians seem to have taken no part in the struggles,
but to have acknowledged each emperor as soon as the news reached them
that he had taken the title. In one year we find Alexandrian coins of
Maximin and his son Maximus, with those of the two Gordians, who for a
few weeks reigned in Carthage, and in the next year we again have coins
of Maximin and Maximus, with those of Balbinus and Pupienus, and of
Gordianus Pius.

The Persians, taking advantage of the weakness in the empire caused by
these civil wars, had latterly been harassing the eastern frontier; and
it soon became the duty of the young Gordian to march against them
in person. Hitherto the Roman armies had usually been successful; but
unfortunately the Persians, or, rather, their Syrian and Arab allies,
had latterly risen as much as the Romans had fallen off in courage and
warlike skill. The army of Gordian was routed, and the emperor himself
slain, either by traitors or by the enemy. Hereafter we shall see the
Romans paying the just penalty for the example that they had set to
the surrounding nations. They had taught them that conquest should be
a people's chief aim, that the great use of strength was to crush
a neighbour; and it was not long before Egypt and the other Eastern
provinces suffered under the same treatment. So little had defeat
been expected that the philosopher Plotinus had left his studies in
Alexandria to join the army, in hopes of gaining for himself an insight
into the Eastern philosophy that was so much talked of in Egypt. After
the rout of the army he with difficulty escaped to Antioch, and thence
he removed to Rome, where he taught the new platonism to scholars of all
nations, including Serapion, the celebrated rhetorician, and Eustochius,
the physician, from Alexandria.

[Illustration: 151.jpg SYMBOL OF EGYPT]

Philip, who is accused by the historians of being the author of
Gordian's death, succeeded him on the throne in 244; but he is only
known in the history of Egypt by his Alexandrian coins, which we find
with the dates of each of the seven years of his reign, and these seem
to prove that for one year he had been associated with Gordian in the
purple. In the reign of Decius, which began in 249, the Christians of
Egypt were again harassed by the zeal with which the laws against
their religion were put in force. The persecution began by their
fellow-citizens informing against them; but in the next year it was
followed up by the prefect Æmilianus; and several Christians were
summoned before the magistrate and put to death. Many fled for safety
to the desert and to Mount Sinai, where they fell into a danger of a
different kind; they were taken prisoners by the Saracens and carried
away as slaves. Dionysius, the Bishop of Alexandria, himself fled from
the storm, and was then banished to the village of Cephro in the desert.
But his flight was not without some scandal to the Church, as there were
not a few who thought that he was called upon by his rank at least to
await, if not to court, the pains of martyrdom. Indeed, the persecution
was less remarkable for the sufferings of the Christians than for the
numbers who failed in their courage, and renounced Christianity under
the threats of the magistrate. Dionysius, the bishop, who had shown no
courage himself, was willing to pardon their weakness, and after fit
proof of sorrow again to receive them as brethren. But his humanity
offended the zeal of many whose distance from the danger had saved them
from temptation; and it was found necessary to summon a council at Rome
to settle the dispute. In this assembly the moderate party prevailed;
and some who refused to receive back those who had once fallen away from
the faith were themselves turned out of the Church.

Dionysius had succeeded Heraclas in the bishopric, having before
succeeded him as head of the catechetical school. He was the author of
several works, written in defence of the trinitarian opinions, on the
one hand against the Egyptian Gnostics, who said that there were eight,
and even thirty, persons in the Godhead, and, on the other hand, against
the Syrian bishop, Paul of Samosata, on the Euphrates, who said that
Jesus was a man, and that the Word and Holy Spirit were not persons, but
attributes, of God.

But while Dionysius was thus engaged in a controversy with such opposite
opinions, Egypt and Libya were giving birth to a new view of the
trinity. Sabellius, Bishop of Ptolemais, near Cyrene, was putting forth
the opinion that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were only three names
for the one God, and that the creator of the world had himself appeared
upon earth in the form of Jesus. Against this opinion Dionysius again
engaged in controversy, arguing against Sabellius that Jesus was not the
creator, but the first of created beings.

The Christians were thus each generation changing more and more,
sometimes leaning towards Greek polytheism and sometimes towards
Egyptian mysticism. As in each quarrel the most mysterious opinions
were thought the most sacred, each generation added new mysteries to
its religion; and the progress was rapid, from a practical piety, to a
profession of opinions which they did not pretend to understand.

During the reigns of Gallus, of Æmilius Æmilianus, and of Valerian (A.D.
251-260), the Alexandrians coined money in the name of each emperor as
soon as the news reached Egypt that he had made Italy acknowledge his
title. Gallus and his son reigned two years and four months; Æmilianus,
who rebelled in Pannonia, reigned three months; and Valerian reigned
about six years.

Egypt, as a trading country, now suffered severely from the want
of order and quiet government; and in particular since the reign
of Alexander Severus it had been kept in a fever by rebellions,
persecutions, and this unceasing change of rulers. Change brings the
fear of change; and this fear checks trade, throws the labourer out of
employment, and leaves the poor of the cities without wages and without
food. Famine is followed by disease; and Egypt and Alexandria were
visited in the reign of Gallus by a dreadful plague, one of those
scourges that force themselves on the notice of the historian. It was
probably the same disease that in a less frightful form had been not
uncommon in that country and in the lower parts of Syria. The physician
Aretæus describes it under the name of ulcers on the tonsils. It seems
by the letters of Bishop Dionysius that in Alexandria the population had
so much fallen off that the inhabitants between the ages of fourteen
and eighty were not more than those between forty and seventy had been
formerly, as appeared by old records then existing. The misery that the
city had suffered may be measured by its lessened numbers.

During these latter years the eastern half of the empire was chiefly
guarded by Odenathus of Palmyra, the brave and faithful ally of Rome,
under whose wise rule his country for a short time held a rank among the
empires of the world, which it never could have gained but for an union
of many favourable circumstances. The city and little state of Palmyra
is situated about midway between the cities of Damascus and Babylon.
Separated from the rest of the world, between the Roman and the Parthian
empires, Palmyra had long kept its freedom, while each of those great
rival powers rather courted its friendship than aimed at conquering it.
But, as the cause of Rome grew weaker, Odenathus wisely threw his weight
into the lighter scale; and latterly, without aiming at conquest, he
found himself almost the sovereign of those provinces of the Roman
empire which were in danger of being overrun by the Persians. Valerian
himself was conquered, taken prisoner, and put to death by Sapor, King
of Persia; and Gallienus, his son, who was idling away his life in
disgraceful pleasures in the West, wisely gave the title of emperor to
Odenathus, and declared him his colleague on the throne.

[Illustration: 155.jpg A HAREM WINDOW]

No sooner was Valerian taken prisoner than every province of the Roman
empire, feeling the sword powerless in the weak hands of Gallienus,
declared its own general emperor; and when Macrianus, who had been
left in command in Syria, gathered together the scattered forces of the
Eastern army, and made himself emperor of the East, the Egyptians owned
him as their sovereign. As Macrianus found his age too great for the
activity required of a rebel emperor, he made his two sons, Macrianus,
junior, and Quietus, his colleagues; and we find their names on the
coins of Alexandria, dated the first and second years of their reign.
But Macrianus was defeated by Dominitianus at the head of a part of the
army of Aureolus, who had made himself emperor in Illyricum, and he lost
his life, together with one of his sons, while the other soon afterwards
met with the same fate from Odenathus.

After this, Egypt was governed for a short time in the name of
Gallienus; but the fickle Alexandrians soon made a rebel emperor for
themselves. The Roman republic, says the historian, was often in
danger from the headstrong giddiness of the Alexandrians. Any civility
forgotten, a place in the baths not yielded, a heap of rubbish, or even
a pair of old shoes in the streets, was often enough to throw the state
into the greatest danger, and make it necessary to call out the troops
to put down the riots. Thus, one day, one of the prefect's slaves was
beaten by the soldiers, for saying that his shoes were better than
theirs. On this a riotous crowd gathered round the house of Æmilianus to
complain of the conduct of his soldiers. He was attacked with stones and
such weapons as are usually within the reach of a mob. He had no choice
but to call out the troops, who, when they had quieted the city and were
intoxicated with their success, saluted him with the title of emperor;
and hatred of Gallienus made the rest of the Egyptian army agree to
their choice.

This was in the year 265. The new emperor called himself Alexander, and
was even thought to deserve the name. He governed Egypt during his short
reign with great vigour. He led his army through the Thebaid, and drove
back the barbarians with a courage and activity which had latterly been
uncommon in the Egyptian army. Alexandria then sent no tribute to Rome.
"Well! cannot we live without Egyptian linen?" was the forced joke of
Gallienus, when the Romans were in alarm at the loss of the usual supply
of grain. But Æmilianus was soon beaten by Theodotus, the general of
Gallienus, who besieged him in the strong quarter of Alexandria called
the Bruchium, and then took him prisoner and strangled him.

During this siege the ministers of Christianity were able to lessen some
of the horrors of war by persuading the besiegers to allow the useless
mouths to quit the blockaded fortress. Eusebius, afterwards Bishop of
Laodicea, was without the trenches trying to lessen the cruelties of the
siege; and Anatolius, the Christian peripatetic, was within the walls,
endeavouring to persuade the rebels to surrender. Gallienus in gratitude
to his general would have granted him the honour of a proconsular
triumph, to dazzle the eyes of the Alexandrians; but the policy of
Augustus was not wholly forgotten, and the emperor was reminded by
the priests that it was unlawful for the consular fasces to enter

The late Emperor Valerian had begun his reign with mild treatment of
the Christians; but he was overpersuaded by the Alexandrians. He then
allowed the power of the magistrate to be used, in order to check the
Christian religion. But in this weakness of the empire Gallienus could
no longer with safety allow the Christians to be persecuted for their
religion. Both their numbers and their station made it dangerous to
treat them as enemies; and the emperor ordered all persecution to be
stopped. The imperial rescript for that purpose was even addressed to
"Dionysius, Pinna, Demetrius, and the other bishops;" it grants them
full indulgence in the exercise of their religion, and by its very
address almost acknowledges their rank in the state. By this edict of
Gallienus the Christians were put on a better footing than at any time
since their numbers brought them under the notice of the magistrate.

[Illustration: 158b.jpg EGYPTIAN SLAVE]

     From the painting by Siefèrt

When the bishop Dionysius returned to Alexandria, he found the place
sadly ruined by the late siege. The middle of the city was a vast waste.
It was easier, he says, to go from one end of Egypt to the other than to
cross the main street which divided the Bruchium from the western end
of Alexandria. The place was still marked with all the horrors of last
week's battle. Then, as usual, disease and famine followed upon war. Not
a house was without a funeral. Death was everywhere to be seen in its
most ghastly form. Bodies were left un-buried in the streets to be eaten
by the dogs. Men ran away from their sickening friends in fear. As the
sun set they felt in doubt whether they should be alive to see it
rise in the morning. Cowards hid their alarms in noisy amusements and
laughter. Not a few in very despair rushed into riot and vice. But the
Christians clung to one another in brotherly love; they visited the
sick; they laid out and buried their dead; and many of them thereby
caught the disease themselves, and died as martyrs to the strength of
their faith and love.

As long as Odenathus lived, the victories of the Palmyrenes were always
over the enemies of Rome; but on his assassination, together with his
son Herodes, though the armies of Palmyra were still led to battle
with equal courage, its counsels were no longer guided with the same

[Illustraton: 159.jpg COINS OF ZENOBIA]

Zenobia, the widow of Odenathus, seized the command of the army for
herself and her infant sons, Herennius and Timolaus; and her masculine
courage and stern virtues well qualified her for the bold task that she
had undertaken. She threw off the friendship of Rome, and routed the
armies which Gallienus sent against her; and, claiming to be descended
from Cleopatra, she marched upon Egypt, in 268 A.D., to seize the throne
of her ancestors, and to add that kingdom to Syria and Asia Minor, which
she already possessed.

Zenobia's army was led by her general, Zabda, who was joined by an
Egyptian named Timogenes; and, with seventy thousand Palmyrenes,
Syrians, and other barbarians, they routed the Roman army of fifty
thousand Egyptians under Probatus. The unfortunate Roman general put an
end to his own life; but nevertheless the Palmyrenes were unsuccessful,
and Egypt followed the example of Rome, and took the oaths to Claudius.
For three years the coins of Alexandria bear the name of that emperor.

On the death of Claudius, his brother Quintillus assumed the purple in
Europe (A.D. 270); and though he only reigned for seventeen days the
Alexandrian mint found time to engrave new dies and to issue coined
money in his name.

On the death of Claudius, also, the Palmyrenes renewed their attacks
upon Egypt, and this second time with success. The whole kingdom
acknowledged Zenobia as their queen; and in the fourth and fifth years
of her reign in Palmyra we find her name on the Alexandrian coins. The
Greeks, who had been masters of Egypt for six hundred years, either in
their own name or in that of the Roman emperors, were then for the first
time governed by an Asiatic. Palmyra in the desert was then ornamented
with the spoils of Egypt; and travellers yet admire the remains of eight
large columns of red porphyry, each thirty feet high, which stood in
front of the two gates to the great temple. They speak for themselves,
and tell their own history. From their material and form and size we
must suppose that these columns were quarried between Thebes and the Red
Sea, were cut into shape by Egyptian workmen under the guidance of Greek
artists in the service of the Roman emperors; and were thence carried
away by the Syrian queen to the oasis-city in the desert between
Damascus and Babylon.

[Illustration: 161.jpg COIN OF ATHENODORUS]

Zenobia was a handsome woman of a dark complexion, with an aquiline
nose, quick, piercing eyes, and a masculine voice. She had the
commanding qualities of Cleopatra, from whom her flatterers traced her
descent, and she was without her vices. While Syriac was her native
tongue, she was not ignorant of Latin, which she was careful to have
taught to her children; she carried on her government in Greek, and
could speak Koptic with the Egyptians, whose history she had studied
and written upon. In her dress and manners she joined the pomp of the
Persian court to the self-denial and military virtues of a camp. With
these qualities, followed by a success in arms which they seemed to
deserve, the world could not help remarking, that while Gallienus was
wasting his time with fiddlers and players, in idleness that would have
disgraced a woman, Zenobia was governing her half of the empire like a

Zenobia made Antioch and Palmyra the capitals of her empire, and Egypt
became for the time a province of Syria. Her religion like her language
was Syriac. The name of her husband, Odenathus, means sacred to the
goddess Adoneth, and that of her son, Vaballathus, means sacred to the
goddess Baaleth. But as her troops were many of them Saracens or Arabs,
a people nearly the same as the Blemmyes, who already formed part of the
people of Upper Egypt, this conquest gave a new rank to that part of
the population; and had the further result, important in after years,
of causing them to be less quiet in their slavery to the Greeks of

But the sceptre of Rome had lately been grasped by the firmer hand of
Aurelian, and the reign of Zenobia drew to a close. Aurelian at first
granted her the title of his colleague in the empire, and we find
Alexandrian coins with her head on one side and his on the other. But
he lost no time in leading his forces into Syria, and, after routing
Zenobia's army in one or two battles, he took her prisoner at Emessa.
He then led her to Rome, where, after being made the ornament of his
triumph, she was allowed to spend the rest of her days in quiet, having
reigned for four years in Palmyra, though only for a few months in

On the defeat of Zenobia it would seem that Egypt and Syria were
still left under the government of one of her sons, with the title of
colleague of Aurelian. The Alexandrian coins are then dated in the first
year of Aurelian and the fourth of Vaballathus, or, according to the
Greek translation of this name, of Athenodorus, who counted his years
from the death of Odenathus.

The young Herodes, who had been killed with his father Odenathus, was
not the son of Zenobia, but of a former wife, and Zenobia always
acted towards him with the unkindness unfortunately too common in a
stepmother. She had claimed the throne for her infant sons, Herennius
and Timolaus; and we are left in doubt by the historians about
Vaballathus; Vopiscus, who calls him the son of Zenobia, does not tell
us who was his father. We know but little of him beyond his coins; but
from these we learn that, after reigning one year with Aurelian, he
aimed at reigning alone, took the title of Augustus, and dropped the
name of Aurelian from his coins. This step was very likely the cause of
his overthrow and death, which happened in the year 271.

On the overthrow of Zenobia's family, Egypt, which had been so fruitful
in rebels, submitted to the Emperor Aurelian, but it was only for a few
months. The Greeks of Alexandria, now lessened in numbers, were found to
be no longer masters of the kingdom. Former rebellions in Egypt had
been caused by the two Roman legions and the Greek mercenaries sometimes
claiming the right to appoint an emperor to the Roman world; but
Zenobia's conquest had raised the Egyptian and Arab population in
their own opinion, and they were no longer willing to be governed by an
Alexandrian or European master. In 272 A.D. they set up Firmus, a native
of Seleucia, who took the title of emperor; and, resting his power
on that part of the population that had been treated as slaves
or barbarians for six hundred years, he aimed at the conquest of

Firmus was a man of great size and bodily strength, and, of course,
barbarian manners. He had gained great riches by trade with India; and
had a paper trade so profitable that he used to boast that he could feed
an army on papyrus and glue. His house was furnished with glass windows,
a luxury then but little known, and the squares of glass were fastened
into the frames by means of bitumen. His chief strength was in the Arabs
or Blemmyes of Upper Egypt, and in the Saracens who had lately been
fighting against Rome under the standard of Zenobia. Firmus fixed his
government at Koptos and Ptolemais, and held all Upper Egypt; but he
either never conquered Alexandria, or did not hold it for many months,
as for every year that he reigned in the Thebaid we find Alexandrian
coins bearing the name of Aurelian. Firmus was at last conquered by
Aurelian in person, who took him prisoner, and had him tortured and then
put to death. During these troubles Rome had been thrown into alarm at
the thoughts of losing the usual supply of Egyptian grain, as since the
reign of Elagabalus the Roman granaries had never held more than was
wanted for the year; but Aurelian hastened to send word to the Roman
people that the country was again quiet, and that the yearly supplies,
which had been delayed by the wickedness of Firmus, would soon arrive.
Had Firmus raised the Roman legions in rebellion, he would have been
honoured with the title of a rebel emperor; but, as his power rested on
the Egyptians and Arabs, Aurelian only boasted that he had rid the world
of a robber.

[Illustration: 164.jpg STREET VENDORS IN METAL WARE]

Another rebel emperor about this time was Domitius Domitiamis; but we
have no certain knowledge of the year in which he rebelled, nor, indeed,
without the help of the coins should we know in what province of the
whole Roman empire he had assumed the purple. The historian only tells
us that in the reign of Aurelian the general Domitianus was put to
death for aiming at a change. We learn, however, from the coins that he
reigned for part of a first and a second year in Egypt; but the subject
of his reign is not without its difficulties, as we find Alexandrian
coins of Domitianus with Latin inscriptions, and dated in the third year
of his reign. The Latin language had not at this time been used on the
coins of Alexandria; and he could not have held Alexandria for any
one whole year, as the series of Aurelian's coins is not broken. It is
possible that the Latin coins of Domitianus may belong to a second and
later usurper of the same name.

Aurelian had reigned in Rome from the death of Claudius; and,
notwithstanding the four rebels to whom we have given the title of
sovereigns of Egypt, money was coined in Alexandria in his name during
each of those years. His coinage, however, reminds us of the troubled
and fallen state of the country; and from this time forward copper, or,
rather, brass, is the only metal used.

Aurelian left Probus in the command of the Egyptian army, and that
general's skill and activity found full employment in driving back the
barbarians who pressed upon the province on each of the three sides on
which it was open to attack.


His first battles were against the Africans and Marmaridæ, who were
in arms on the side of Cyrene, and he next took the field against the
Palmyrenes and Saracens, who still claimed Egypt in the name of the
family of Zenobia. He employed the leisure of his soldiers in many
useful works; in repairing bridges, temples, and porticoes, and more
particularly in widening the trenches and keeping open the canals, and
in such other works as were of use in raising and forwarding the yearly
supply of grain to Rome. Aurelian increased the amount of the Egyptian
tribute, which was paid in glass, paper, linen, hemp, and grain; the
latter he increased by one-twelfth part, and he placed a larger number
of ships on the voyage to make the supply certain.

The Christians were well treated during this reign, and their patriarch
Nero so far took courage as to build the Church of St. Mary in
Alexandria. This was probably the first church that was built in Egypt
for the public service of Christianity, which for two hundred years had
been preached in private rooms, and very often in secret. The service
was in Greek, as, indeed, it was in all parts of Egypt: for it does
not appear that Christian prayers were publicly read in the Egyptian
language before the quarrel between the two churches made the Kopts
unwilling to use Greek prayers. The liturgy there read was probably very
nearly the same as that afterwards known as the _Liturgy of St. Mark_.
This is among the oldest of the Christian liturgies, and it shows its
country by the prayer that the waters of the river may rise to their
just measure, and that rain may be sent from heaven to the countries
that need it.

We learn from the historians that eight months were allowed to pass
between the death of Aurelian and the choice of a successor; and during
this time the power rested in the hands of his widow. The sway of a
woman was never openly acknowledged in Rome, but the Alexandrians and
Egyptians were used to female rule, and from contemporary coins we learn
that in Egypt the government was carried on in the name of the Empress
Severina. The last coins of Aurelian bear the date of the sixth year of
his reign, and the coins of Severina are dated in the sixth and seventh
years. But after Tacitus was chosen emperor by his colleagues of the
Roman senate, and during his short reign of six months (A.D. 276), his
authority was obeyed by the Egyptian legions under Probus, as is fully
proved by the Alexandrian coins bearing his name, all dated in the first
year of his reign.

[Illustration: 167.jpg COIN OF SEVERINA]

On the death of Tacitus, his brother Florian hoped to succeed to the
imperial power, and was acknowledged in the same year by the senate and
troops of Rome. But when the news reached Egypt it was at once felt by
the legions that Probus, both by his own personal qualities and by the
high state of discipline of the army under his command, and by his
success against the Egyptian rebels, had a better claim to the purple
than any other general. At first the opinion ran round the camp in a
whisper, and at last the army spoke the general wish aloud; they
snatched a purple cloak from a statue in one of the temples to throw
over him, they placed him on an earthen mound as a tribunal, and against
his will saluted him with the title of emperor. The choice of the
Egyptian legions was soon approved of by Asia Minor, Syria, and Italy;
Florian was put to death, and Probus shortly afterwards marched into
Gaul and Germany, to quiet those provinces.

After a year or two, Probus was recalled into Egypt by hearing that the
Blemmyes had risen in arms, and that Upper Egypt was again independent
of the Roman power. Not only Koptos, which had for centuries been an
Arab city, but even Ptolemais, the Greek capital of the Thebaid, was now
peopled by those barbarians, and they had to be reconquered by Probus
as foreign cities, and kept in obedience by Roman garrisons; and on his
return to Rome he thought his victories over the Blemmyes of Upper Egypt
not unworthy of a triumph.

By these unceasing wars, the Egyptian legions had lately been brought
into a high state of discipline, and, confident in their strength, and
in the success with which they had made their late general emperor of
the Roman world, they now attempted to raise up a rival to him in the
person of their present general Saturninus. Saturninus had been made
general of the Eastern frontier by Aurelian, who had given him strict
orders never to enter Egypt. "The Egyptians," says the historian,
meaning, however, the Alexandrians, "are boastful, vain, spiteful,
licentious, fond of change, clever in making songs and epigrams against
their rulers, and much given to soothsaying and augury." Aurelian well
knew that the loyalty of a successful general was not to be trusted in
Egypt, and during his lifetime Saturninus never entered that province.
But after his death, when Probus was called away to the other parts of
the empire, the government of Egypt was added to the other duties of
Saturninus; and no sooner was he seen there, at the head of an army that
seemed strong enough to enforce his wishes, than the fickle Alexandrians
saluted him with the title of emperor and Augustus. But Saturninus was
a wise man, and shunned the dangerous honour; he had hitherto fought
always for his country; he had saved the provinces of Spain, Gaul, and
Africa from the enemy or from rebellion; and he knew the value of his
rank and character too well to fling it away for a bauble. To escape
from further difficulties he withdrew from Egypt, and moved his
headquarters into Palestine. But the treasonable cheers of the
Alexandrians could neither be forgotten by himself nor by his troops;
he had withstood the calls of ambition, but he yielded at last to his
fears; he became a rebel for fear of being thought one, and he declared
himself emperor as the safest mode of escaping punishment. But he
was soon afterwards defeated and strangled, against the will of the
forgiving Probus.

On the death of Probus, in A.D. 283, the empire fell to Carus and his
sons, Numerianus and Carinus, whose names are found on the Alexandrian
coins, but whose short reigns have left no other trace in Egypt.

[Illustration: 169.jpg COIN OF TRAJAN'S SECOND LEGION]

At this time also we find upon the coins the name of Trajan's second
Egyptian legion, which was at all times stationed in Egypt, and which,
acting upon an authority that was usually granted to the Roman legions
in the various provinces, coined money of several kinds for their own

The reign of Diocletian, beginning in A.D. 285, was one of suffering to
the Egyptians; and in the fourth year the people rose against the Roman
government, and gave the title of emperor to Achilleus, their leader
in the rebellion. Galerius, the Roman general, led an army against the
rebels, and marched through the whole of the Thebaid; but, though the
Egyptians were routed whenever they were bold enough to meet the legions
in battle, yet the rebellion was not very easily crushed. The Romans
were scarcely obeyed beyond the spot on which their army was encamped.
In the fourth year of the rebellion, A.D. 292, Diocletian came to Egypt,
and the cities of Koptos and Busiris were besieged by the emperor in
person, and wholly destroyed after a regular siege.

When Diocletian reached the southern limits of Egypt he was able to
judge of the difficulty, and indeed the uselessness, of trying to hold
any part of Ethiopia; and he found that the tribute levied there was
less than the cost of the troops required to collect it. He therefore
made a new treaty with the Nobatæ, as the people between the first and
second cataracts were now called. He gave up to them the whole of Lower
Ethiopia, or the province called Nubia. The valley for seventy miles
above Syênê, which bore the name of the Dodecaschonos, had been held by
Augustus and his successors, and this was now given up to the original
inhabitants. Diocletian strengthened the fortifications on the isle
of Elephantine, to guard what was thenceforth the uttermost point of
defence, and agreed to pay to the Nobatae and Blemmyes a yearly sum of
gold on the latter promising no longer to harass Upper Egypt with their
marauding inroads, and on the former promising to forbid the Blemmyes
from doing so. What remains of the Roman wall built against the inroads
of these troublesome neighbours runs along the edge of the cultivated
land on the east side of the river for some distance to the north of the
cataract. But so much was the strength of the Greek party lessened, and
so deeply rooted among the Egyptians was their hatred of their rulers
and the belief that they should then be able to throw off the yoke,
that soon afterwards Alexandria declared in favour of Achilleus, and
Diocletian was again called to Egypt to regain the capital. Such was
the strength of the rebels that the city could not be taken without
a regular siege. Diocletian surrounded it with a ditch and wall, and
turned aside the canals that supplied the citizens with water. After a
tedious siege of eight months, Alexandria was at last taken by storm in
297, and Achilleus was put to death. A large part of the city was burnt
at the storming, nor would the punishment of the citizens have there
ended, but for Diocletian's humane interpretation of an accident. The
horse on which he sat stumbled as he entered the city with his troops,
and he had the humanity to understand it as a command from heaven that
he should stop the pillage of the city; and the citizens in gratitude
erected near the spot a bronze statue of the horse to which they owed so
much. This statue has long since been lost, but we cannot be mistaken in
the place where it stood. The lofty column in the centre of the temple
of Serapis, now well known by the name of Pompey's Pillar,* once held a
statue on the top, and on the base it still bears the inscription of
the grateful citizens, "To the most honoured emperor, the saviour of
Alexandria, the unconquerable Diocletian."

     * See Volume X., page 317.

This rebellion had lasted more than nine years, and the Egyptians seemed
never in want of money for the purposes of the war. Diocletian was
struck with their riches, and he ordered a careful search to be made
through Egypt for all writings on alchemy, an art which the Egyptians
studied together with magic and astrology. These books he ordered to be
burnt, under a belief that they were the great sources of the riches by
which his own power had been resisted. Want and misery no doubt caused
this rebellion, but the rebellion certainly caused more want and misery.
The navigation of the Nile was stopped, the canals were no longer kept
cleared, the fields were badly tilled, trade and manufactures were
ruined. Since the rebellions against the Persians, Egypt had never
suffered so much. It had been sadly changed by the troubles of the last
sixty years, during which it had been six times in arms against Rome;
and when the rebellion was put down by Diocletian, it was no longer
the same country that it had been under the Antonines. The framework of
society had been shaken, the Greeks had lessened in numbers, and still
more in weight. The fall of the Ptolemies, and the conquest by Rome, did
not make so great a change. The bright days of Egypt as a Greek
kingdom began with the building of Alexandria, and they ended with
the rebellions against Gallienus, Aurelian and Diocletian. The native
Egyptians, both Kopts and Arabs, now rise into more notice, as the Greek
civilisation sinks around them. And soon the upper classes among the
Kopts, to avoid the duty of maintaining a family of children in such
troubled times, rush by thousands into monasteries and convents, and
further lessen the population by their religious vows of celibacy. In
the twelfth year of the reign, that in which Alexandria rebelled and
the siege was begun, the Egyptian coinage for the most part ceased.
Henceforth, though money was often coined in Alexandria as in every
other great city of the empire, the inscriptions were usually in Latin,
and the designs the same as those on the coins of Rome. In taking leave
of this long and valuable series of coins with dates, which has been
our guide in the chronology of these reigns, we must not forget to
acknowledge how much we owe to the labours of the learned Zoega. In
his _Numi Ægypti Imperatorii_, the mere descriptions, almost without a
remark, speak the very words of history.

The reign of Diocletian is chiefly remarkable for the new law which was
then made against the Christians, and for the cruel severity with which
it was put into force. The issuing of this edict in 304 A.D., which was
to root out Christianity from the world, took place in the twentieth
year of the reign, according to the Alexandrians, or in the nineteenth
year after the emperor's first installation as consul, as years were
reckoned in the other parts of the empire. The churches, which since
the reign of Gallienus had been everywhere rising, were ordered to be
destroyed and the Bibles to be burnt, while banishment, slavery, and
death were the punishments threatened against those who obstinately
clung to their religion. In no province of the empire was the
persecution more severe than in Egypt; and many Christians fled to
Syria, where the law, though the same, was more mildly carried into
execution. But the Christians were too numerous to fly and too few
to resist. The ecclesiastical writers present us with a sad tale of
tortures and of death borne by those who refused to renounce their
faith,--a tale which is only made less sad by the doubt how far
the writers' feelings may have misled their judgment, and made them
overstate the numbers.

But we may safely rely upon the account which Eusebius gives us of what
he himself saw in Egypt. Many were put to death on the same day, some
beheaded and some burnt. The executioners were tired, and the hearts of
the pagan judges melted by the unflinching firmness of the Christians.
Many who were eminent for wealth, rank, and learning chose to lay down
their lives rather than throw a few grains of wheat upon the altar, or
comply with any ceremony that was required of them as a religious test.
The judges begged them to think of their wives and children, and pointed
out that they were the cause of their own death; but the Christians were
usually firm, and were beheaded for the refusal to take the test.
Among the most celebrated of the Egyptian martyrs were Peter, Bishop of
Alexandria, with Faustus, Dius, and Ammonius, presbyters under him;
the learned Phileas, Bishop of Thmuis, Hesychius, the editor of the
Septuagint, and the Bishops Pachomius and Theodorus; though the pagans
must have been still more surprised at Philoromus, the receiver-general
of the taxes at Alexandria. This man, after the prefect of Egypt and
the general of the troops, was perhaps the highest Roman officer in the
province. He sat in public as a judge in Alexandria, surrounded by a
guard of soldiers, daily deciding all causes relating to the taxes of
Egypt. He was accused of no crime but that of being a Christian, which
he was earnestly entreated to deny, and was at liberty indirectly to
disprove by joining in some pagan sacrifice. The Bishops of Alexandria
and Thmuis may have been strengthened under their trials by their rank
in the church, by having themselves urged others to do their duty in the
same case, but the receiver-general of the taxes could have had nothing
to encourage him but the strength of his faith and a noble scorn of
falsehood; he was reproached or ridiculed by all around him, but he
refused to deny his religion, and was beheaded as a common criminal.

The ready ministers of this persecution were Culeianus, the prefect of
the Thebaid, and Hierocles, the prefect of Alexandria. The latter
was peculiarly well chosen for the task; he added the zeal of the
theologian to the ready obedience of the soldier. He had written against
the Christians a work named _Philalethes_ (the lover of truth), which we
now know only in the answer by Eusebius of Cæsarea. In this he denounced
the apostles as impostors, and the Christian miracles as trifling; and,
comparing them with the pretended miracles of Apollonius of Tyana,
he pronounced the latter more numerous, more important, and better
authenticated than the former by the evangelists; and he ridiculed
the Christians for calling Jesus a god, while the pagans did not raise
Apollonius higher than a man beloved by the gods.

This persecution under Diocletian was one of the most severe that the
Christians ever underwent from the Romans. It did not, however, wholly
stop the religious services, nor break up the regular government of the
Church. In the catechetical school, Pierius, whom we have before spoken
of as a man of learning, was succeeded by Theognostus and then by
Serapion, whose name reminds us that the Egyptian party was gaining
weight in the Alexandrian church. It can hardly have been for his
superior learning, it may have been because his opinions were becoming
more popular than those of the Greeks, that a professor with an Egyptian
name was placed at the head of the catechetical school. Serapion was
succeeded by Peter, who afterwards gained the bishopric of Alexandria
and a martyr's crown. But these men were little known beyond their
lecture-room. In the twentieth year of the reign, on the death of Peter,
the Bishop of Alexandria, who lost his life as a martyr, the presbyters
of the church met to choose a successor. Among their number was Arius,
whose name afterwards became so famous in ecclesiastical history, and
who had already, even before he was ordained a priest, offended many by
the bold manner in which he stated his religious opinions. But upon him,
if we may believe a partial historian, the majority of votes fell in
the choice of a patriarch of Alexandria, and had he not himself modestly
given way to the more ambitious Alexander, he might perhaps have been
saved from the treatment which he afterwards suffered from his rival.

When, in the year 305, Diocletian and his colleague, Valerius Maximian,
resigned the purple, Egypt with the rest of the East was given to
Galerius, who had also as Cæsar been named Maximian on his Egyptian
coins, while Constantius Chlorus ruled the West. Galerius in 307 granted
some slight indulgence to the Christians without wholly stopping
the persecution. But all favour was again withdrawn from them by his
successor Maximin, who had indeed misgoverned Egypt for some years,
under the title of Cæsar, before the rank of Augustus was granted to
him. He encouraged private informers, he set townsman against townsman;
and, as the wishes of the emperor are quickly understood by all under
him, those who wished for his favour courted it by giving him an excuse
for his cruelties. The cities sent up petitions to him, begging that the
Christians might not be allowed to have churches within their walls. The
history of these reigns indeed is little more than the history of the
persecutions; and when the Alexandrian astronomers, dropping the era of
Augustus, began to date from the first year of Diocletian, the Christian
writers in the same way dated from the Era of the Martyrs.

It can be no matter of surprise to us that, in a persecution which
threatened all classes of society, there should have been many who, when
they were accused of being Christians, wanted the courage to undergo
the pains of martyrdom, and escaped the punishment by joining in a pagan
sacrifice. When the storm was blown over, these men again asked to be
received into the Church, and their conduct gave rise to the very
same quarrel that had divided the Christians in the reign of Decius.
Meletius, a bishop of the Thebaid, was at the head of the party who
would make no allowance for the weakness of their brethren, and who
refused to grant to the repentant the forgiveness that they asked for.
He had himself borne the same trials without bending, he had been
sent as a criminal to work in the Egyptian mines, and had returned to
Alexandria from his banishment, proud of his sufferings and furious
against those who had escaped through cowardice. But the larger part of
the bishops were of a more forgiving nature; they could not all boast of
the same constancy, and the repentant Christians were re-admitted
into communion with the faithful, while the followers of Meletius were
branded with the name of heretics.

In Alexandria, Meletius soon found another and, as it proved, a more
memorable occasion for the display of his zeal. He has the unenviable
honour of being the author of the great Arian quarrel, by accusing of
heresy Arius, at that time a presbyter of the church of Baucala near
Alexandria, and by calling upon Alexander, the bishop, to inquire into
his belief, and to condemn it if found unsound. Arius frankly and openly
acknowledged his opinions: he thought Jesus a created being, and would
speak of him in no higher terms than those used in the New Testament
and Apostles' Creed, and defended his opinions by an appeal to the
Scriptures. But he soon found that his defence was thought weak,
and, without waiting to be condemned, he withdrew before the storm to
Palestine, where he remained till summoned before the council of Nicæa
in the coming reign.

It was during these reigns of trouble, about which history is sadly
silent, when Greek learning was sinking, and after the country had
been for a year or two in the power of the Syrians, that the worship of
Mithra was brought into Alexandria, where superstitious ceremonies and
philosophical subtleties were equally welcome. Mithra was the Persian
god of the sun; and in the system of two gods, one good and the other
wicked, he was the god of goodness.

[Illustration: 179.jpg SYMBOL OF MITHRA]

The chief symbol in his worship was the figure of a young hero in
Phrygian cap and trousers, mounted on a sinking bull, and stabbing it
in sacrifice to the god. In a deserted part of Alexandria, called the
Mithrium, his rites were celebrated among ruins and rubbish; and his
ignorant followers were as ignorantly accused of there slaying their
fellow-citizens on his altars.

It was about the same time that the eastern doctrine of Manicheism was
said to have been brought into Egypt by Papus, and Thomas or Hernias.
This sect, if sect it may be called, owed its origin to a certain
Majus Mani, banished from Persia under the Sassanides; this Mani was
a talented man, highly civilised through his studies and voyages in
distant lands. In his exile he conceived the idea of putting himself
forward as the reformer of the religions of all the peoples he had
visited, and of reducing them all to one universal religion. Banished by
the Christians, to whom he represented himself as the divinely inspired
apostle of Jesus, in whom the Comforter had appeared, he returned to
Persia, taking with him a book of the Gospels adorned by extraordinary
paintings. Here he obtained at first the favour of the king and the
people, till finally, after many changes of fortune, he was pursued by
the magi, and convicted in a solemn disputation of falsifying religion;
he was condemned to the terrible punishment of being flayed alive, after
which his skin was to be stuffed and hung up over the gates of the
royal city. His teaching consisted in a mixture of Persian and
Christian-Gnostic views; its middle final point was the dualism of good
and evil which rules in the world and in the human breast.

According to Mani's creed, there were originally two principles, God in
His kingdom of light, and the demon with his kingdom of darkness, and
these two principles existed independently of each other. The powers
of evil fell into strife with each other, until, hurled away by their
inward confusion, they reached the outermost edge of their own kingdom,
and from there beheld the kingdom of light in all its glory. Now they
ceased their strife among themselves and united to do battle to the
kingdom of light. To meet them, God created the "original man" who,
armed with the five pure elements, light, fire, air, water, and earth,
advanced to meet the hostile powers. He was defeated, though finally
saved; but a part of his light had thus made its way into the realm of
darkness. In order gradually to regain this light, God caused the mother
of life to create the visible world, in which that light lies hidden as
a living power or world-soul awaiting its deliverance from the bonds of
matter. In order to accomplish this redemption, two new beings of light
proceed from God, viz.: Christ and the Holy Ghost, of whom the former,
Christus Mithras, has his abode in the sun and moon, the latter in the
ether diffused around the entire world. Both attract the powers of light
which have sunk into the material world in order to lead them back,
finally, into the everlasting realm of light. To oppose them, however,
the demons created a new being, viz.: man, after the example of the
"original man," and united in him the clearest light and the darkness
peculiar to themselves, in order that the great strife might be renewed
in his breast, and so man became the point of union of all the forces in
the universe, the microcosm in which two principles ever strive for the
mastery. Through the enticements of the material and the illusions
of the demon, the soul of light was held in bondage in spite of its
indwelling capacity for freedom, so that in heathenism and Judaism the
"son of everlasting light," as the soul of the universe, was chained
to matter. In order to accomplish this work of redemption more quickly,
Christ finally leaves his throne at God's right hand, and appears
on earth, truly in human form, but only with an apparent body; his
suffering and death on the cross are but illusions for the multitude,
although historical facts, and they serve at the same time as a symbol
of the light imprisoned in matter, and as a typical expression of
the suffering, poured out over the whole of nature (especially in the
plant-world), of the great physical _weltschmerz_. Christ, through his
teaching and power of attraction, began the deliverance of the light,
so that one can truly say that the salvation of the world proceeds
from rays which stream from the Cross; as, however, his teachings
were conceived by the apostles in a Jewish sense, and the Gospels
were disfigured, Mani appeared as the comforter promised by Christ
to accomplish the victory. In his writings only is the pure truth
preserved. Finally there will be a complete separation of the light from
the darkness, and then the powers of darkness will fall upon each other

The ignorant in all ages of Christianity seem to have held nearly the
same opinion in one form or other, thinking that sin has arisen either
from a wicked being or from the wickedness of the flesh itself. The Jews
alone proclaimed that God created good and God created evil. But we know
of few writers who have ever owned themselves Manicheans, though many
have been reproached as such; their doctrine is now known only in the
works written against it. Of all heresies among the Christians this is
the one most denounced by the ecclesiastical writers, and most severely
threatened by the laws when the law makers became Christian; and of
all the accusations of the angry controversialists this was the most
reproachful. We might almost think that the numerous fathers who have
written against the Manicheans must have had an easy victory when the
enemy never appeared in the field, when their writings were scarcely
answered, or their arguments denied; but perhaps a juster view would
lead us to remark how much the writers, as well as the readers, must
have felt the difficulty of accounting for the origin of evil, since men
have run into such wild opinions to explain it.

Another heresy, which for a time made even as much noise as the last,
was that of Hieracas of Leontopolis. Even in Egypt, where for two
thousand years it had been the custom to make the bodies of the dead
into mummies, to embalm them against the day of resurrection, a custom
which had been usually practised by the Christians, this native Egyptian
ventured to teach that nothing but the soul would rise from the dead,
and that we must look forward to only a spiritual resurrection. Hieracas
was a man of some learning, and, much to the vexation of those who
opposed his arguments, he could repeat nearly the whole Bible by heart.

The Bishop Hesychius, the martyr in the late persecution, was one of
the learned men of the time. He had published a new edition of the
Septuagint Old Testament, and also of the New Testament. This edition
was valued and chiefly used in Egypt, while that by Lucianus,
who suffered in the same persecution, was read in Asia Minor from
Constantinople to Antioch, and the older edition by Origen remained in
use in Palestine. But such was the credit of Alexandria, as the chief
seat of Christian learning, that distant churches sent there for
copies of the Scriptures, foreign translations were mostly made from
Alexandrian copies, and the greater number of Christians even now read
the Bible according to the edition by Hesychius. We must, however, fear
that these editors were by no means judicious in their labours.

[Illustration: 184.jpg DOME PALM OF UPPER EGYPT]

From the text itself we can learn that the early copiers of the Bible
thought those manuscripts most valuable which were most full. Many a
gloss and marginal note got written into the text. Their devotional
feelings blinded their critical judgment; and they never ventured to put
aside a modern addition as spurious. This mistaken view of their
duty had of old guided the Hebrew copiers in Jerusalem; and though in
Alexandria a juster criticism had been applied to the copies of Homer,
it was not thought proper to use the same good sense when making copies
of the Bible. So strong was the habit of grafting the additions into
the text that the Greek translation became more copious than the Hebrew
original, as the Latin soon afterwards became more copious than the

It was about this time, at least after Theodotion's translation of
Daniel had received the sanction of the Alexandrian church, and when the
teachers of Christianity found willing hearers in every city of Egypt,
that the Bible was translated into the language of the country. We have
now parts of several Koptic versions. They are translated closely, and
nearly word by word from the Greek; and, being meant for a people among
whom that language had been spoken for centuries, about one word in five
is Greek. The Thebaic and Bashmuric versions may have been translated
from the edition by Hesychius; but the Koptic version seems older, and
its value to the Biblical critic is very great, as it helps us, with
the quotations in Origen and Clemens, to distinguish the edition of
the sacred text which was then used in Alexandria, and is shown in the
celebrated Vatican manuscript, from the later editions used afterwards
in Constantinople and Italy, when Christian literature flourished in
those countries.

The Emperor Maximin died at Tarsus in A.D. 313, after being defeated by
Licinius, who like himself had been raised to the rank of Augustus by
Galerius, and to whom the empire of Egypt and the East then fell,
while Constantine, the son of Constantius, governed Italy and the West.
Licinius held his empire for ten years against the growing strength of
his colleague and rival; but the ambition of Constantine increased with
his power, and Licinius was at last forced to gather together his army
in Thrace, to defend himself from an attack. His forces consisted of
one hundred and fifty thousand foot, fifteen thousand horse, and three
hundred and fifty triremes, of which Egypt furnished eighty. He was
defeated near Adrianople; and then, upon a promise that his life should
be spared, he surrendered to Constantine at Nicomedia. But the promise
was forgotten and Licinius hanged, and the Roman world was once more
governed by a single emperor. The growing strength of his colleague and
rival; but the ambition of Constantine increased with his power, and
Licinius was at last forced to gather together his army in Thrace, to
defend himself from an attack. His forces consisted of one hundred and
fifty thousand foot, fifteen thousand horse, and three hundred and
fifty triremes, of which Egypt furnished eighty. He was defeated near
Adrianople; and then, upon a promise that his life should be spared, he
surrendered to Constantine at Nicomedia. But the promise was forgotten
and Licinius hanged, and the Roman world was once more governed by a
single emperor.


_The Ascendency of the new religion: The Arian controversies: The
Zenith of monasticism: The final struggle of Paganism: The decline of

Coming under the Roman sway, the Greek world underwent, not only
politically but also intellectually, a complete change. As the
Roman conquest had worn away all political differences and national
divergences, and, by uniting the various races under the rule of the
empire was bringing to its consummation the work begun by the Macedonian
conqueror, it could not fail to influence the train of thought. On the
one hand the political and ideal structure of Greek life was crumbling
and bringing down the support and guiding principle supplied by the
duties of citizenship and the devotion to the commonwealth. Man was
thrown upon himself to find the principles of conduct. The customary
morality and religion had been shaken in their foundations. The
belief in the old gods and the old religion was undermined. Philosophy
endeavoured to occupy the place left vacant by the gradual decay of the
national religion. The individual, seeking for support and spiritual
guidance, found it, or at least imagined he had found it, in philosophy.
The conduct of life became the fundamental problem, and philosophy
assumed a practical aspect. It aimed at finding a complete art of
living. It had a thoroughly ethical stamp, and became more and more a
rival of and opposed to religion. Such were the tendencies of the Stoic
and Epicurean schools. The Roman rule was greatly favourable to such
a development of thought. The Romans were a practical nation, had no
conception of nor appreciation for purely theoretical problems, and
demanded practical lessons and philosophical investigations which would
serve as a guide for life. Thus the political tendency of the time
towards practical wisdom had imparted a new direction to philosophical
thought. Yet, as time went on, a deep feeling of dissatisfaction seized
the ancient world in the midst of all the glories of the Roman rule.
This huge empire could offer to the peoples, which it had welded
into one mighty unit, no compensation for the loss of their national
independence; it offered them no inner worth nor outer fortune. There
was a complete discord running through the entire civilisation of the
Græco-Roman world. The social condition of the empire had brought with
it extreme contrasts in the daily life. The contrasts had become more
pronounced. Abundance and luxury existed side by side with misery
and starvation. Millions were excluded from the very necessaries of
existence. With the sense of injustice and revolt against the
existing inequality of the state of society, the hope for some future
compensation arose. The millions excluded from the worldly possessions
turned longingly to a better world. The thoughts of man were turned
to something beyond terrestrial life, to heaven instead of earth.
Philosophy, too, had failed to give complete satisfaction. Man had
realised his utter inability to find knowledge in himself by his
unaided efforts. He despaired to arrive at it without the help of some
transcendental power and its kind assistance. Salvation was not to be
found in man's own nature, but in a world beyond that of the senses.
Philosophy could not satisfy the cultured man by the presentation of its
ethical ideal of life, could not secure for him the promised happiness.
Philosophy, therefore, turned to religion for help. At Alexandria,
where, in the active work of its museum, all treasures of Grecian
culture were garnered, all religions and forms of worship crowded
together in the great throng of the commercial metropolis to seek a
scientific clarification of the feelings that surged and stormed within
them. The cosmopolitan spirit and broad-mindedness which had brought
nations together under the Egyptian government, which had gathered
scholars from all parts in the library and the museum, was favourable
also to the fusion and reconciliation in the evolution of thought.

If Alexandria was the birthplace of that intellectual movement which has
been described, this was not only the result of the prevailing spirit of
the age, but was due to the influence of ideas; salvation could only be
found in the reconciliation of ideas. The geographical centre of this
movement of fusion and reconciliation was, however, in Alexandria.
After having been the town of the museum and the library, of criticism
and literary erudition, Alexandria became once again the meeting-place
of philosophical schools and religious sects; communication had become
easier, and various fundamentally different inhabitants belonging to
distinct social groups met on the banks of the Nile. Not only goods and
products of the soil were exchanged, but also ideas and thoughts. The
mental horizon was widened, comparisons ensued, and new ideas were
suggested and formed. This mixture of ideas necessarily created a
complex spirit where two currents of thought, of critical scepticism and
superstitious credulity, mixed and mingled. Another powerful factor was
the close contact in which Occidentalism or Greek culture found itself
with Orientalism. Here it was where the Greek and Oriental spirit mixed
and mingled, producing doctrines and religious systems containing germs
of tradition and science, of inspiration and reflection. Images and
formulas, method and ecstasy, were interwoven and intertwined. The
brilliant qualities of the Greek spirit, its sagacity and subtlety of
intelligence, its lucidity and facility of expression, were animated and
vivified by the Oriental spark, and gained new life and vigour. On
the other hand, the contemplative spirit of the Orient, which is
characterised by its aspiration towards the invisible and mysterious,
would never have produced a coherent system or theory had it not been
aided by Greek science. It was the latter that arranged and explained
the Oriental traditions, loosed their tongues, and produced those
religious doctrines and philosophical systems which culminated in
Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism, the Judaism of Philo, and the Polytheism of
Julian the Apostate.

It was the contemplative Oriental mind, with its tendency towards the
supernatural and miraculous, with its mysticism and religion, and Greece
with her subtle scrutinising and investigating spirit, which gave rise
to the peculiar phase of thought prevalent in Alexandria during the
first centuries of our era. It was tinctured with idealistic, mystic,
and yet speculative and scientific colours. Hence the religious spirit
in philosophy and the philosophic tendency in the religious system that
are the characteristic features. "East and West," says Baldwin,* "met
at Alexandria." The co-operative ideas of civilisations, cultures,
and religions of Rome, Greece, Palestine, and the farther East found
themselves in juxtaposition. Hence arose a new problem, developed partly
by Occidental thought, partly by Oriental aspiration. Religion and
philosophy became inextricably mixed, and the resultant doctrines
consequently belong to neither sphere proper, but are rather witnesses
of an attempt at combining both.

     * Baldwin: Dictionary of Philosophy.

These efforts naturally came from two sides. On the one hand, the Jews
tried to accommodate their faith to the results of Western culture, in
which Greek culture predominated. On the other hand, thinkers whose
main impulse came from Greek philosophy attempted to accommodate their
doctrines to the distinctively religious problems which the Eastern
nations had brought with them. From whichever side the consequences be
viewed, they are to be characterised as theosophical rather than purely
philosophical, purely religious, or purely theological.

The reign of Constantine the Great, who became sole ruler of the East
and West in 323, after ten years' joint government with Licinius, is
remarkable for the change which was then wrought in the religion and
philosophy of the empire by the emperor's embracing the Christian
faith. His conversion occurred in 312, and on his coming to the united
sovereignty the Christians were at once released from every punishment
and disability on account of their religion, which was then more than
tolerated; they were put upon a nearly equal footing with the pagans,
and every minister of the Church was released from the burden of
civil and military duties. Whether the emperor's conversion arose from
education, from conviction, or from state policy, we have no means of
knowing; but Christianity did not reach the throne before it was the
religion of a most important class of his subjects, and the Egyptian
Christians soon found themselves numerous enough to call the Greek
Christians heretics, as the Greek Christians had already begun to
designate the Jewish.

The Greeks of Alexandria had formed rather a school of philosophy than
a religious sect. Before Alexander's conquest the Greek settlers
at Naucratis had thought it necessary to have their own temples and
sacrifices; but since the building of Alexandria they had been smitten
with the love of Eastern mysticism, and content to worship in the
temples of Serapis and Mithra, and to receive instruction from the
Egyptian priests. They had supported the religion of the conquered
Egyptians without wholly believing it; and had shaken by their ridicule
the respect for the very ceremonies which they upheld by law. Polytheism
among the Greeks had been further shaken by the platonists; and
Christianity spread in about equal proportions among the Greeks and the
Egyptians. Before the conversion of Constantine the Egyptian church
had already spread into every city of the province, and had a regular
episcopal government. Till the time of Heraclas and Dionysius, the
bishops had been always chosen by the votes of the presbyters, as the
archdeacons were by the deacons. Dionysius in his public epistles joins
with himself his fellow-presbyters as if he were only the first among
equals; but after that time some irregularities had crept into the
elections, and latterly the Church had become more monarchical. There
was a patriarch in Alexandria, with a bishop in every other large city,
each assisted by a body of priests and deacons. They had been clad in
faith, holiness, humility, and charity; but Constantine robed them in
honour, wealth, and power; and to this many of them soon added pride,
avarice, and ambition.

This reign is no less remarkable for the religious quarrel which then
divided the Christians, which set church against church and bishop
against bishop, as soon as they lost that great bond of union, the fear
of the pagans. Jesus of Nazareth was acknowledged by Constantine as
a divine person; and, in the attempt then made by the Alexandrians to
arrive at a more exact definition of his nature, while the emperor was
willing to be guided by the bishops in his theological opinions, he
was able to instruct them all in the more valuable lessons of mutual
toleration and forbearance. The followers of early religions held
different opinions, but distinguished themselves apart only by outward
modes of worship, such as by sacrifices among the Greeks and Romans,
and among the Jews and Egyptians by circumcision, and abstinence from
certain meats. When Jesus of Nazareth introduced his spiritual religion
of repentance and amendment of life, he taught that the test by which
his disciples wrere to be known was their love to one another. After
his death, however, the Christians gave more importance to opinions
in religion, and towards the end of the third century they proposed to
distinguish their fellow-worshippers in a mode hitherto unknown to the
world, namely, by the profession of belief in certain opinions; for as
yet there was no difference in their belief of historic facts. This gave
rise to numerous metaphysical discussions, particularly among the more
speculative and mystical.

At about this time the chief controversy was as to whether Christ was
of the _same_, or of _similar_ substance with God the Father, this being
the dispute which divided Christendom for centuries. This dispute and
others not quite so metaphysical were brought to the ears of the emperor
by Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, and Arius, the presbyter. The bishop
had been enquiring into the belief of the presbyter, and the latter
had argued against his superior and against the doctrine of the
_consubstantiality_ of the Father and the Son. The emperor's letter
to the theologians, in this first ecclesiastical quarrel that was ever
brought before a Christian monarch, is addressed to Alexander and Arius,
and he therein tells them that they are raising useless questions, which
it is not necessary to settle, and which, though a good exercise for the
understanding, only breed ill-will, and should be kept by each man in
his own breast. He regrets the religious madness which has seized all
Egypt; and lastly he orders the bishop not to question the priest as
to his belief, and orders the priest, if questioned, not to return an
answer. But this wise letter had no weight with the Alexandrian divines.
The quarrel gained in importance from being noticed by the emperor; the
civil government of the country was clogged; and Constantine, after
having once interfered, was persuaded to call a council of bishops to
settle the Christian faith for the future. Nicæa in Bithynia was chosen
as the spot most convenient for Eastern Christendom to meet in; and two
hundred and fifty bishops, followed by crowds of priests, there met
in council from Greece, Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and
Libya, with one or two from Western Europe.

At this synod, held in the year 325, Athanasius, a young deacon in the
Alexandrian church, came for the first time into notice as the champion
of Alexander against Arius, who was then placed upon his trial. All the
authority, eloquence, and charity of the emperor were needed to quell
the tumultuous passions of the assembly. It ended its stormy labours by
voting what was called the Homoousian doctrine, that Jesus was of one
substance with God. They put forth to the world the celebrated creed,
named, from the city in which they met, the Nicene creed, and they
excommunicated Arius and his followers, who were then all banished by
the emperor. The meeting had afterwards less difficulty in coming to
an agreement about the true time of Easter, and in excommunicating the
Jews; and all except the Egyptians returned home with a wish that the
quarrel should be forgotten and forgiven.

This first attempt among the Christians at settling the true faith by
putting fetters on the mind, by drawing up a creed and punishing those
that disbelieved it, was but the beginning of theological difficulties.
These in Egypt arose as much from the difference of blood and language
of the races that inhabited the country as from their religious belief;
and Constantine must soon have seen that if as a theologian he had
decided right, yet as a statesman he had been helping the Egyptians
against the friends of his own Greek government in Alexandria.

After a reasonable delay, Arius addressed to the emperor a letter either
of explanation or apology, asserting his full belief in Christianity,
explaining his faith by using the words of the Apostles' Creed, and
begging to be re-admitted into the Church. The emperor, either from a
readiness to forgive, or from a change of policy, or from an ignorance
of the theological controversy, was satisfied with the apology, and
thereupon wrote a mild conciliatory letter to Athanasius, who had in
the meantime been made Bishop of Alexandria, expressing his wish
that forgiveness should at all times be offered to the repentant, and
ordering him to re-admit Arius to his rank in the Church. But the young
Athanasius, who had gained his favour with the Egyptian clergy, and had
been raised to his high seat by his zeal shown against Arius, refused
to obey the commands of the emperor, alleging that it was unlawful
to re-admit into the Church anybody who had once been excommunicated.
Constantine could hardly be expected to listen to this excuse, or
to overlook this direct refusal to obey his orders. The rebellious
Athanasius was ordered into the emperor's presence at Constantinople,
and soon afterwards, in 335, called before a council of bishops at Tyre,
where he was deposed and banished. At the same council, in the thirtieth
year of this reign, Arius was re-admitted into communion with the
Church, and after a few months he was allowed to return to Alexandria,
to the indignation of the popular party in that city, while Athanasius
remained in banishment during the rest of the reign, as a punishment for
his disobedience.

This practice of judging and condemning opinions gave power in the
Church to men who would otherwise have been least entitled to weight and
influence. Athanasius rose to his high rank over the heads of the elder
presbyters by his fitness for the harsher duties then required of an
archbishop. Theological opinions became the watchwords of two contending
parties; religion lost much of its empire over the heart; and the
mild spirit of Christianity gave way to angry quarrels and cruel

Another remarkable event of this reign was the foundation of the new
city of Constantinople, to which the emperor removed the seat of his
government. Rome lost much by the building of the new capital, although
the emperors had for some time past ceased to live in Italy; but
Alexandria lost the rank which it had long held as the centre of Greek
learning and Greek thought, and it felt a blow from which Rome was saved
by the difference of language. The patriarch of Alexandria was no longer
the head of Greek Christendom. That rank was granted to the bishop of
the imperial city; many of the philosophers who hung round the palace
at Constantinople would otherwise have studied and taught in the museum;
and the Greeks, by whose superiority Egypt had so long been kept in
subjection, gradually became the weaker party. In the opinion of the
historian, as in the map of the geographer, Alexandria had formerly been
a Greek state on the borders of Egypt; but since the rebellion in the
reign of Diocletian it was becoming more and more an Egyptian city; and
those who in religion and politics thought and felt as Egyptians soon
formed the larger half of the Alexandrians. The climate of Egypt was
hardly fitted for the Greek race. Their numbers never could have been
kept up by births alone, and they now began to lessen as the attraction
to newcomers ceased. The pure Greek names henceforth become less common;
and among the monks and writers we now meet with those named after the
old gods of the country.

[Illustration: 199.jpg THE ISLAND OF RHODHA]

Constantine removed an obelisk from Egypt for the ornament of his new
city, and he brought down another from Heliopolis to Alexandria; but he
died before the second left the country, and it was afterwards taken
by his son to Rome. These obelisks were covered with hieroglyphics,
as usual, and we have a translation said to be made from the latter by
Hermapion, an Egyptian priest. In order to take away its pagan character
from the religious ceremony with which the yearly rise of the Nile wras
celebrated in Alexandria, Constantine removed the sacred cubit from the
temple of Serapis to one of the Christian churches; and nothwithstanding
the gloomy forebodings of the people, the Nile rose as usual, and the
clergy afterwards celebrated the time of its overflow as a Christian

The pagan philosophers under Constantine had but few pupils and met
with but little encouragement. Alypius of Alexandria and his friend
Iamblichus, however, still taught the philosophy of Ammonius
and Plotinus. The only writings by Alypius now remaining are his
_Introduction to Music_; in which he explains the notation of the
fifteen modes or tones in their respective kinds of diatonic, chromatic,
and enharmonic. His signs are said to be Pythagorean. They are in pairs,
of which one is thought to represent the note struck on the lyre, and
the other the tone of the voice to be sung thereto. They thus imply
accord or harmony. The same signs are found in some manuscripts written
over the syllables of ancient poems; and thereby scholars, learned at
once in the Greek language, in the art of deciphering signs, and in the
science of music, now chant the odes of Pindar in strains not dissimilar
to modern cathedral psalmody.

Sopator succeeded Iamblichus as professor of platonism in Alexandria,
with the proud title of successor to Plato, For some time he enjoyed the
friendship of Constantine; but, when religion made a quarrel between
the friends, the philosopher was put to death by the emperor. The pagan
account of the quarrel was that, when Constantine had killed his son, he
applied to Sopator to be purified from his guilt; and when the platonist
answered that he knew of no ceremony that could absolve a man from such
a crime, the emperor applied to the Christians for baptism. This
story may not be true, and the ecclesiastical historian remarks that
Constantine had professed Christianity several years before the murder
of his son; but then, as after his conversion he had got Sopator to
consecrate his new city with a variety of pagan ceremonies, he may in
the same way have asked him to absolve him from the guilt of murder.

On the death of Constantine, in 337, his three sons, without entirely
dismembering the empire, divided the provinces of the Roman world into
three shares. Constantine II., the eldest son, who succeeded to the
throne of his father in Constantinople, and Constans, the youngest,
who dwelt in Rome, divided Europe between them; while Constantius,
the second son, held Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Egypt, of which
possessions Antioch on the Orontes was at that time the capital. Thus
Alexandria was doomed to a further fall. When governed by Rome it had
still been the first of Greek cities; afterwards, when the seat of the
empire was fixed at Constantinople, it became the second; but on this
division of the Roman world, when the seat of government came still
nearer to Egypt, and Antioch rose as the capital of the East, Alexandria
fell to be the third among Greek cities. Egypt quietly received its
political orders from Antioch. Its opinions also in some cases followed
those of the capital, and it is curious to remark that the Alexandrian
writers, when dating by the era of the creation, were now willing to
consider the world ten years less old than they used, because it was so
thought at Antioch. But it was not so with their religious opinions,
and as long as Antioch and its emperor undertook to govern the Egyptian
church there was little peace in the province.

The three emperors did not take the same side in the quarrel which under
the name of religion was then unsettling the obedience of the Egyptians,
and even in some degree troubling the rest of the empire. Constantius
held the Arian opinions of Syria; but Constantine II. and Constans
openly gave their countenance to the party of the rebellious Athanasius,
who under their favour ventured to return to Alexandria, where, after
an absence of two years and four months, he was received in the warmest
manner by his admiring flock. But on the death of Constantine II.,
who was shortly afterwards killed in battle by his brother Constans,
Constantius felt himself more master of his own kingdom; he deposed
Athanasius, and summoned a council of bishops at Antioch to elect a new
patriarch of Alexandria. Christian bishops, though they had latterly
owed their ordination to the authority of their equals, had always
received their bishoprics by the choice of their presbyters or of their
flocks; and though they were glad to receive the support of the emperor,
they were not willing to acknowledge him as their head. Hence, when the
council at Antioch first elected Eusebius of Æmisa into the bishopric of
Alexandria, he chose to refuse the honour which they had only a doubtful
right to bestow, rather than to venture into the city in the face of his
popular rival. The council then elected Gregory, whose greater courage
and ambition led him to accept the office.

The council of Antioch then made some changes in the creed. A few years
later, a second council met in the same place, and drew up a creed more
near to what we now call the Athanasian; but it was firmly rejected by
the Egyptian and Roman churches. Gregory was no sooner elected to the
bishopric than he issued his commands as bishop, though, if he had
the courage, he had not at the time the power to enter Alexandria.
But Syrianus, the general of the Egyptian troops, was soon afterwards
ordered by the emperor to place him on his episcopal throne; and he led
him into the city, surrounded by the spears of five thousand soldiers,
and followed by the small body of Alexandrians that after this invasion
of their acknowledged rights still called themselves Arians. Gregory
entered Alexandria in the evening, meaning to take his seat in the
church on the next day; but the people in their zeal did not wait
quietly for the dreaded morning. They ran at once to the church, and
passed the night there with Athanasius in the greatest anxiety. In
the morning, when Gregory arrived at the church, accompanied with the
troops, he found the doors barricaded and the building full of men and
women, denouncing the sacrilege, and threatening resistance. But the
general gave orders that the church should be stormed, and the new
bishop carried in by force of arms; and Athanasius, seeing that all
resistance was useless, ordered the deacons to give out a psalm, and
they all marched out at the opposite door singing. After these acts of
violence on the part of the troops, and of resistance on the part of the
people, the whole city was thrown into an uproar, and the prefect was
hardly strong enough to carry on the government; the regular supply of
grain for the poor citizens of Alexandria, and for Constantinople, was
stopped; and the blame of the whole thrown upon Athanasius. He was a
second time obliged to leave Egypt, and he fled to Rome, where he was
warmly received by the Emperor Constans and the Roman bishop. But the
zeal of the Athanasian party would not allow Gregory to keep possession
of the church which he had gained only by force; they soon afterwards
set fire to it and burned it to the ground, choosing that there should
be no church at all rather than that it should be in the hands of the
Arians; and the Arian clergy and bishops, though supported by the favour
of the emperor and the troops of the prefect, were everywhere throughout
Egypt driven from their churches and monasteries. During this quarrel it
seems to have been felt by both parties that the choice of the people,
or at least of the clergy, was necessary to make a bishop, and that
Gregory had very little claim to that rank in Alexandria. Julius, the
Bishop of Rome, warmly espoused the cause of Athanasius, and he wrote a
letter to the Alexandrian church, praising their zeal for their bishop,
and ordering them to re-admit him to his former rank, from which he
had been deposed by the council of Antioch, but to which he had been
restored by the Western bishops. Athanasius was also warmly supported
by Constans, the emperor of the West, who at the same time wrote to his
brother Constantius, begging him to replace the Alexandrian bishop,
and making the additional threat that if he would not reinstate him he
should be made to do so by force of arms.

Constantius, after taking the advice of his own bishops, thought it
wisest to yield to the wishes or rather the commands of his brother
Constans, and he wrote to Athanasius, calling him into his presence
in Constantinople. But the rebellious bishop was not willing to trust
himself within the reach of his offended sovereign; and it was not till
after a second and a third letter, pressing him to come and promising
him his safety, that he ventured within the limits of the Eastern
empire. Strong in his high character for learning, firmness, and
political skill, carrying with him the allegiance of the Egyptian
nation, which was yielded to him much rather than to the emperor, and
backed by the threats of Constans, Athanasius was at least a match
for Constantius. At Constantinople the emperor and his subject, the
Alexandrian bishop, made a formal treaty, by which it was agreed
that, if Constantius would allow the Homoousian clergy throughout his
dominions to return to their churches, Athanasius would in the same
way throughout Egypt restore the Arian clergy; and upon this agreement
Athanasius himself returned to Alexandria.

Among the followers of Athanasius was that important mixed race with
whom the Egyptian civilisation chiefly rested, a race that may be called
Koptic, but half Greek and half Egyptian in their language and religion
as in their forefathers. But in feelings they were wholly opposed to the
Greeks of Alexandria. Never since the last Nectanebo was conquered by
the Persians, eight hundred years earlier, did the Egyptians seem so
near to throwing off the foreign yoke and rising again as an independent
nation. But the Greeks, who had taught them so much, had not taught them
the arts of war; and the nation remained enslaved to those who could
wield the sword. The return of Athanasius, however, was only the signal
for a fresh uproar, and the Arians complained that Egypt was kept in a
constant turmoil by his zealous activity. Nor were the Arians his only
enemies. He had offended many others of his clergy by his overbearing
manners, and more particularly by his following in the steps of
Alexander, the late bishop, in claiming new and higher powers for
the office of patriarch than had ever been yielded to the bishops of
Alexandria before their spiritual rank had been changed into civil rank
by the emperor's adoption of their religion. Meletius headed a strong
party of bishops, priests, and deacons in opposing the new claims of the
archiepiscopal see of Alexandria. His followers differed in no point of
doctrine from the Athanasian party, but as they sided with the Arians
they were usually called heretics.

By this time the statesmen and magistrates had gained a clear view of
the change which had come over the political state of the empire, first
by the spread of Christianity, and secondly by the emperor's embracing
it. By supporting Christianity the emperors gave rank in the state to
an organised and well-trained body, which immediately found itself in
possession of all the civil power. A bishopric, which a few years before
was a post of danger, was now a place of great profit, and secured to
its possessor every worldly advantage of wealth, honour, and power.
An archbishop in the capital, obeyed by a bishop in every city, with
numerous priests and deacons under them, was usually of more weight than
the prefect. While Athanasius was at the height of his popularity
in Egypt, and was supported by the Emperor of the West, the Emperor
Constantius was very far from being his master. But on the death of
Constans, when Constantius became sovereign of the whole empire, he once
more tried to make Alexandria and the Egyptian church obedient to
his wishes. He was, however, still doubtful how far it was prudent to
measure his strength against that of the bishop, and he chose rather
to begin privately with threats before using his power openly. He first
wrote word to Athanasius, as if in answer to a request from the bishop,
that he was at liberty, if he wished, to visit Italy; but he sent the
letter by the hands of the notary Diogenes, who added, by word of
mouth, that the permission was meant for a command, and that it was the
emperor's pleasure that he should immediately quit his bishopric and the
province. But this underhand conduct of the emperor only showed his own
weakness. Athanasius steadily refused to obey any unwritten orders, and
held his bishopric for upwards of two years longer, before Constantius
felt strong enough to enforce his wishes. Towards the end of that time,
Syrianus, the general of the Egyptian army, to whom this delicate task
was entrusted, gathered together from other parts of the province a
body of five thousand chosen men, and with these he marched quietly into
Alexandria, to overawe, if possible, the rebellious bishop. He gave
out no reason for his conduct; but the Arians, who were in the secret,
openly boasted that it would soon be their turn to possess the churches.
Syrianus then sent for Athanasius, and in the presence of Maximus the
prefect again delivered to him the command of Constantius, that he
should quit Egypt and retire into banishment, and he threatened to carry
this command into execution by the help of the troops if he met with any
resistance. Athanasius, without refusing to obey, begged to be shown the
emperor's orders in writing; but this reasonable request was refused. He
then entreated them even to give him, in their own handwriting, an order
for his banishment; but this was also refused, and the citizens,
who were made acquainted with the emperor's wishes and the bishop's
firmness, waited in dreadful anxiety to see whether the prefect and the
general would venture to enforce their orders. The presbytery of the
church and the corporation of the city went up to Syrianus in solemn
procession to beg him either to show a written authority for the
banishment of their bishop, or to write to Constantinople to learn the
emperor's pleasure. To this request Syrianus at last yielded, and gave
his word to the friends of Athanasius that he would take no further
steps till the return of the messengers which he then sent to

But Syrianus had before received his orders, which were, if possible, to
frighten Athanasius into obedience, and, if that could not be done, then
to employ force, but not to expose the emperor's written commands to the
danger of being successfully resisted. He therefore only waited for an
opportunity of carrying them into effect; and at midnight, on the ninth
of February, A.D. 356, twenty-three days after the promise had been
given, Syrianus, at the head of his troops, armed for the assault,
surrounded the church where Athanasius and a crowded assembly were at
prayers. The doors were forcibly and suddenly broken open, the armed
soldiers rushed forward to seize the bishop, and numbers of his faithful
friends were slain in their efforts to save him. Athanasius, however,
escaped in the tumult; but though the general was unsuccessful, the
bodies of the slain and the arms of the soldiers found scattered through
the church in the morning were full proofs of his unholy attempt. The
friends of the bishop drew up and signed a public declaration describing
the outrage, and Syrianus sent to Constantinople a counter-protest
declaring that there had been no disturbance in the city.

Athanasius, with nearly the whole of the nation for his friends, easily
escaped the vengeance of the emperor; and, withdrawing for a third time
from public life, he passed the remainder of this reign in concealment.
He did not, however, neglect the interests of his flock. He encouraged
them with his letters, and even privately visited his friends in
Alexandria. As the greater part of the population was eager to befriend
him, he was there able to hide himself for six years. Disregarding
the scandal that might arise from it, he lived in the house of a young
woman, who concealed him in her chamber, and waited on him with untiring
zeal. She was then in the flower of her youth, only twenty years of age;
and fifty years afterwards, in the reign of Theodosius II., when the
name of the archbishop ranked with those of the apostles, this woman
used to boast among the monks of Alexandria that in her youth she had
for six years concealed the great Athanasius.

But though the general was not wholly successful, yet the Athanasian
party was for the time crushed. Sebastianus, the new prefect, was sent
into Egypt with orders to seize Athanasius dead or alive, wherever he
should be found within the province; and under his protection the Arian
party in Alexandria again ventured to meet in public, and proceeded
to choose a bishop. They elected to this high position the celebrated
George of Cappadocia, a man who, while he equalled his more popular
rival in learning and in ambition, fell far behind him in coolness of
judgment, and in that political skill which is as much wanted in the
guidance of a religious party as in the government of an empire.

George was born at Epiphania in Cilicia, and was the son of a clothier,
but his ambition led him into the Church, as being at that time the
fairest field for the display of talent; and he rose from one station
to another till he reached the high post of Bishop of Alexandria. The
fickle, irritable Alexandrians needed no such firebrand to light up the
flames of discontent. George took no pains to conceal the fact that he
held his bishopric by the favour of the emperor and the power of the
army against the wishes of his flock. To support his authority, he
opened his doors to informers of the worst description; anybody who
stood in the way of his grasp at power was accused of being an enemy
to the emperor. He proposed to the emperor to lay a house-tax on
Alexandria, thereby to repay the expense incurred by Alexander the Great
in building the city; and he made the imperial government more unpopular
than it had ever been since Augustus landed in Egypt. He used the army
as the means of terrifying the Homoousians into an acknowledgment of the
Arian opinions. He banished fifteen bishops to the Great Oasis,
besides others of lower rank. He beat, tortured, and put to death; the
persecution was more cruel than any suffered from the pagans, except
perhaps that in the reign of Diocletian; and thirty Egyptian bishops are
said to have lost their lives while George was patriarch of Alexandria.
Most of these accusations, however, are from the pens of his enemies. At
this time the countries at the southern end of the Red Sea were becoming
a little more known to Alexandria. Meropius, travelling in the reign of
Constantine for curiosity and the sake of knowledge, had visited Auxum,
the capital of the Hexumito, in Abyssinia. His companion Frumentius
undertook to convert the people to Christianity and persuade them
to trade with Egypt; and, as he found them willing to listen to his
arguments, he came home to Alexandria to tell of his success and ask
for support. Athanasius readily entered into a plan for spreading the
blessings of Christianity and the power of the Alexandrian church. To
increase the missionary's weight he consecrated him a bishop, and sent
him back to Auxum to continue his good work. His progress, however, was
somewhat checked by sectarian jealousy; for, when Athanasius was deposed
by Constantius, Frumentius was recalled to receive again his orders and
his opinions from the new patriarch. Constantius also sent an embassy to
the Homeritse on the opposite coast of Arabia, under Theophilus, a monk
and deacon in the Church. The Homerito were of Jewish blood though of
gentile faith, and were readily converted, if not to Christianity, at
least to friendship with the emperor. After consecrating their churches,
Theophilus crossed over to the African coast, to the Hexumito, to carry
on the work which Frumentius had begun. There he was equally successful
in the object of his embassy. Both in trade and in religion the
Hexumito, who were also of Jewish blood, were eager to be connected with
the Europeans, from whom they were cut off by Arabs of a wilder race. He
found also a little to the south of Auxum a settlement of Syrians, who
were said to have been placed there by Alexander the Great. These tribes
spoke the language called Ethiopie, a dialect of Arabic which was not
used in the country which we have hitherto called Ethiopia.

[Illustration: 213.jpg TEMPLE OF ABU SIMBEL IN NUBIA]

The Ethiopie version of the Bible was about this time made for their
use. It was translated out of the Greek from the Alexandrian copies,
as the Greek version was held in such value that it was not thought
necessary to look to the Hebrew original of the Old Testament. But these
well-meant efforts did little at the time towards making the Hexumitæ
Christians. Distance and the Blemmyes checked their intercourse with
Alexandria. It was not till two hundred years later that they could be
said in the slightest sense to be converted to Christianity.

Though the origin of monastic life has sometimes been claimed for the
Essenes on the shores of the Dead Sea, yet it was in Egypt that it was
framed into a system, and became the model for the Christian world. It
took its rise in the serious and gloomy views of religion which always
formed part of the Egyptian polytheism, and which the Greeks remarked as
very unlike their own gay and tasteful modes of worship, and which were
readily engrafted by the Egyptian converts into their own Christian
belief. In the reigns of Constantine and his sons, hundreds of
Christians, both men and women, quitting the pleasures and trials of
the busy world, withdrew one by one into the Egyptian desert, where the
sands are as boundless as the ocean, where the sunshine is less cheerful
than darkness, to spend their lonely days and watchful nights in
religious meditation and in prayer. They were led by a gloomy view
of their duty towards God, and by a want of fellow-feeling for their
neighbour; and they seemed to think that pain and misery in this world
would save them from punishment hereafter. The lives of many of these
Fathers of the Desert were written by the Christians who lived at the
same time; but a full account of the miracles which were said to have
been worked in their favour, or by their means, would now only call
forth a smile of pity, or perhaps even of ridicule.

"Prosperity and peace," says Gibbon, "introduced the distinction of the
vulgar and the ascetic Christians. The loose and imperfect practice
of religion satisfied the conscience of the multitude. The prince or
magistrate, soldier or merchant, reconciled their fervent zeal, and
implicit faith, with the exercise of their profession, the pursuit of
their interest, and the indulgence of their passions; but the ascetics,
who obeyed and abused the rigid precepts of the gospel, were inspired
by the severe enthusiasm which represents man as a criminal and God as
a tyrant. They seriously renounced the business and the pleasures of the
age; abjured the use of wine, of flesh, and of marriage, chastised their
body, mortified their affections, and embraced a life of misery, as
the price of eternal happiness. The ascetics fled from a profane and
degenerate world to perpetual solitude, or religious society. Like the
first Christians of Jerusalem, they resigned the use, or the property,
of their temporal possessions; established regular communities of the
same sex and a similar disposition, and assumed the names of hermits,
monks, or anchorites, expressive of their lonely retreat in a natural
or artificial desert. They soon acquired the respect of the world, which
they despised, and the loudest applause was bestowed on this divine
philosophy, which surpassed, without the aid of science or reason, the
laborious virtues of the Grecian schools. The monks might indeed contend
with the Stoics in the contempt of fortune, of pain, and of death;
the Pythagorean silence and submission were revived in their servile
discipline; and they disdained, as firmly as the Cynics themselves,
all the forms and decencies of civil society. But the votaries of this
divine philosophy aspired to imitate a purer and more perfect model.
They trod in the footsteps of the prophets, who had retired to the
desert; and they restored the devout and contemplative life, which
had been instituted by the Essenians, in Palestine and Egypt. The
philosophic eye of Pliny had surveyed with astonishment a solitary
people who dwelt among the palm trees near the Dead Sea; who subsisted
without money, who were propagated without women, and who derived from
the disgust and repentance of mankind a perpetual supply of voluntary
associates. Antony, an illiterate youth of the lower part of The-baid,
distributed his patrimony, deserted his family and native home, and
executed his monastic penance with original and intrepid fanaticism.
After a long and painful novitiate among the tombs and in a ruined
tower, he boldly advanced into the desert three days' journey to the
eastward of the Nile; discovered a lonely spot, which possessed the
advantages of shade and water, and fixed his last residence on Mount
Colzim near the Red Sea, where an ancient monastery still preserves the
name and memory of the saint. The curious devotion of the Christians
pursued him to the desert; and, when he was obliged to appear at
Alexandria, in the face of mankind, he supported his fame with
discretion and dignity. He enjoyed the friendship of Athanasius, whose
doctrine he approved; and the Egyptian peasant respectfully declined
a respectful invitation from the Emperor Constantine. The venerable
patriarch (for Antony attained the age of 105 years) beheld the numerous
progeny which had been formed by his example and his lessons. The
prolific colonies of monks multiplied on the sands of Libya, upon the
rocks of the Thebaid, and in the cities of the Nile. To the south of
Alexandria, the mountain and adjacent desert of Nitria were peopled by
five thousand anchorites; and the traveller may still investigate the
ruins of fifty monasteries, which were planted in that barren soil by
the disciples of Antony. In the Upper Thebaid, the vacant island of
Tabenna was occupied by Pachomius and fourteen hundred of his brethren.
That holy abbot successively founded nine monasteries of men and one
of women; and the festival of Easter sometimes collected fifty thousand
religious persons, who followed his angelic rules of discipline.
The stately and populous city of Oxyrrhynchos, the seat of Christian
orthodoxy, had devoted the temples, the public edifices, and even the
ramparts, to pious and charitable uses, and the bishop, who might preach
in twelve churches, computed ten thousand females and twenty thousand
males of the monastic profession."

The monks borrowed many of their customs from the old Egyptian priests,
such as shaving the head; and Athanasius in his charge to them orders
them not to adopt the tonsure on the head, nor to shave the beard. He
forbids their employing magic or incantations to assist their prayers.
He endeavours to stop their emulation in fasting, and orders those whose
strength of body enabled them to fast longest not to boast of it. But he
orders them not even to speak to a woman, and wishes them not to bathe,
as being an immodest act. The early Christians, as being a sect of Jews,
had followed many Jewish customs, such as observing the Sabbath as well
as the Lord's day; but latterly the line between the two religions had
been growing wider, and Athanasius orders the monks not to keep holy the
Jewish Sabbath. After a few years their religious duties were clearly
laid down for them in several well-drawn codes.

One of the earliest of these ascetics was Amnion, who on the morning of
his marriage is said to have persuaded his young wife of the superior
holiness of a single life, and to have agreed with her that they should
devote themselves apart to the honour of God in the desert. But, in thus
avoiding the pleasures, the duties, and the temptations of the world,
Amnion lost many of the virtues and even the decencies of society; he
never washed himself, or changed his garments, because he thought it
wrong for a religious man even to see himself undressed; and when he had
occasion to cross a canal, his biographer tells us that attendant angels
carried him over the water in their arms, lest, while keeping his vows,
he should be troubled by wet clothes.

In the religious controversies, whether pagan or Christian, Rome had
often looked to Egypt for its opinions; Constans, when wanting copies
of the Greek Scriptures for Rome, had lately sent to Alexandria, and
had received the approved text from Athanasius. The two countries held
nearly the same opinions and had the same dislike of the Greeks; so
when Jerome visited Egypt he found the Church holding, he said, the true
Roman faith as taught by the apostles. Under Didymus, who was then the
head of the catechetical school, Jerome pursued his studies, having
the same religious opinions with the Egyptian, and the same dislike
to Arianism. But no dread of heresy stopped Jerome in his search for
knowledge and for books. He obtained copies of the whole of Origen's
works, and read them with the greatest admiration. It is true that he
finds fault with many of his opinions; but no admirer of Origen could
speak in higher terms of praise of his virtues and his learning, of
the qualities of his head and of his heart, than Jerome uses while he
timidly pretends to think that he has done wrong in reading his works.

At this time--the end of the eleventh century after the building of the
city--the emperor himself did not refuse to mark on his Roman coins the
_happy renewal of the years_ by the old Egyptian astrological fable of
the return of the phoenix.

From the treatise of Julius Fermicus against the pagan superstitions, it
would seem that the sacred animals of the Egyptians were no longer kept
in the several cities in which they used to be worshipped, and that many
of the old gods had been gradually dropped from the mythology, which was
then chiefly confined to the worship of Isis and Osiris. The great week
of the year was the feast of Isis, when the priests joined the goddess
in her grief for the loss of the good Osiris, who had been killed
through jealousy by the wicked Typhon. The priests shaved their heads,
beat their breasts, tore the skin off their arms, and opened up the old
wounds of former years, in grief for the death of Osiris, and in honour
of the widowed Isis. The river Nile was also still worshipped for the
blessings which it scatters along its banks, but we hear no more of
Amon-Ra, Chem, Horus, Aroëris, and the other gods of the Thebaid, whose
worship ceased with the fall of that part of the country.

[Illustration: 220.jpg COIN OF CONSTANTIUS]

But great changes often take place with very little improvement; the
fall of idolatry only made way for the rise of magic and astrology.
Abydos in Upper Egypt had latterly gained great renown for the temple of
Bîsû, whose oracle was much consulted, not only by the Egyptians but by
Greek strangers, and by others who sent their questions in writing.
Some of these letters on parchment had been taken from the temple by
informers, and carried to the emperor, whose ears were never deaf to a
charge against the pagans. On this accusation numbers of all ranks were
dragged out of Egypt, to be tried and punished in Syria, with torture
and forfeiture of goods. Such indeed was the nation's belief in these
oracles and prophecies that it gave to the priests a greater power than
it was safe to trust them with. By prophesying that a man was to be an
emperor, they could make him a traitor, and perhaps raise a village in
rebellion. As the devotedness of their followers made it dangerous for
the magistrates to punish the mischief-makers, they had no choice but to
punish those who consulted them. Without forbidding the divine oracle to
answer, they forbade anybody to question it. Parnasius, who had been
a prefect of Egypt, a man of spotless character, was banished for thus
illegally seeking a knowledge of the future; and Demetrius Cythras, an
aged philosopher, was put to the rack on a charge of having sacrificed
to the god, and only released because he persisted through his tortures
in asserting that he sacrificed in gratitude and not from a wish thus to
learn his future fate.

In the falling state of the empire the towns and villages of Egypt found
their rulers too weak either to guard them or to tyrannise over them,
and they sometimes formed themselves into small societies, and took
means for their own defence. The law had so far allowed this as in some
cases to grant a corporate constitution to a city. But in other cases a
city kept in its pay a courtier or government servant powerful enough to
guard it against the extortions of the provincial tax-gatherer, or would
put itself under the patronage of a neighbour rich enough and strong
enough to guard it. This, however, could not be allowed, even if not
used as the means of throwing off the authority of the provincial
government; and accordingly at this time we begin to find laws against
the new crime of _patronage_. These associations gave a place of refuge
to criminals, they stopped the worshipper in his way to the temple, and
the tax-gatherer in collecting the tribute. But new laws have little
weight when there is no power to enforce them, and the orders from
Constantinople were little heeded in Upper Egypt.

But this _patronage_ which the emperor wished to put down was weak
compared to that of the bishops and clergy, which the law allowed and
even upheld, and which was the great check to the tyranny of the civil
governor. While the emperor at a distance gave orders through his
prefect, the people looked up to the bishop as their head; and hence the
power of each was checked by the other. The emperors had not yet made
the terrors of religion a tool in the hands of the magistrate; nor had
they yet learned from the pontifex and augurs of pagan Rome the secret
that civil power is never so strong as when based on that of the

On the death of Constantius, in 361, Julian was at once acknowledged as
emperor, and the Roman world was again, but for the last time, governed
by a pagan. The Christians had been in power for fifty-five years under
Constantine and his sons, during which time the pagans had been made
to feel that their enemies had got the upper hand of them. But on the
accession of Julian their places were again changed; and the Egyptians
among others crowded to Constantinople to complain of injustice done by
the Christian prefect and bishop, and to pray for a redress of wrongs.
They were, however, sadly disappointed in their emperor; he put them off
with an unfeeling joke; he ordered them to meet him at Chalcedon on the
other side of the straits of Constantinople, and, instead of following
them according to his promise, he gave orders that no vessel should
bring an Egyptian from Chalcedon to the capital; and the Egyptians,
after wasting their time and money, returned home in despair. But though
their complaints were laughed at, they were not overlooked, and the
author of their grievances was punished; Artemius, the prefect of Egypt,
was summoned to Chalcedon, and not being able to disprove the crimes
laid to his charge by the Alexandrians, he paid his life as the forfeit
for his mis-government during the last reign.

While Artemius was on his trial the pagans of Alexandria remained quiet,
and in daily fear of his return to power, for after their treatment
at Chalcedon they by no means felt sure of what would be the emperor's
policy in matters of religion; but they no sooner heard of the death of
Artemius than they took it as a sign that they had full leave to revenge
themselves on the Christians. The mob rose first against the Bishop
George, who had lately been careless or wanton enough publicly to
declare his regret that any of their temples should be allowed to stand;
and they seized him in the streets and trampled him to death. They next
slew Dracontius, the prefect of the Alexandrian mint, whom they accused
of overturning a pagan altar within that building. Their anger was then
turned against Diodorus, who was employed in building a church on a
waste spot of ground that had once been sacred to the worship of Mithra,
but had since been given by the Emperor Constantius to the Christians.
In clearing the ground, the workmen had turned up a number of human
bones that had been buried there in former ages, and these had been
brought forward by the Christians in reproach against the pagans as so
many proofs of human sacrifices. In his Christian zeal, Diodorus also
had wounded at the same time their pride and superstition by cutting off
the single lock from the heads of the young Egyptians. This lock had
in the time of Ramses been the mark of youthful royalty; under the
Ptolemies the mark of high rank; but was now common to all. Diodorus
treated it as an offence against his religion. For this he was attacked
and killed, with George and Dracontius. The mob carried the bodies of
the three murdered men upon camels to the side of the lake, and there
burned them, and threw the ashes into the water, for fear, as they said,
that a church should be built over their remains, as had been sometimes
done, even at that early date, over the bodies of martyrs.


When the news of this outrage against the laws was brought to the
philosophical emperor, he contented himself with threatening by an
imperial edict that if the offence were repeated, he would visit it with
severe punishment. But in every act of Julian we trace the scholar
and the lover of learning. George had employed his wealth in getting
together a large library, rich in historians, rhetoricians, and
philosophers of all sects; and, on the murder of the bishop, Julian
wrote letter after letter to Alexandria, to beg the prefect and
his friend Porphyrius to save these books, and send them to him in
Cappadocia. He promised freedom to the librarian if he gave them up, and
torture if he hid them; and further begged that no books in favour of
Christianity should be destroyed, lest other and better books should be
lost with them.

There is too much reason to believe that the friends of Athanasius
were not displeased at the murder of the Bishop George and their Arian
fellow-Christians; at any rate they made no effort to save them, and the
same mob that had put to death George as an enemy to paganism now joined
his rival, Athanasius, in a triumphal entry into the city, when, with
the other Egyptian bishops, he was allowed to return from banishment.
Athanasius could brook no rival to his power; the civil force of the
city was completely overpowered by his party, and the Arian clergy were
forced to hide themselves, as the only means of saving their lives. But,
while thus in danger from their enemies, the Arians pro-hooded to elect
a successor to their murdered bishop, and they chose Lucius to that post
of honour, but of danger. Athanasius, however, in reality and openly
filled the office of bishop; and he summoned a synod at Alexandria, at
which he re-admitted into the church Lucifer and Eusebius, two bishops
who had been banished to the Thebaid, and he again decreed that the
three persons in the Trinity were of one substance.

Though the Emperor Julian thought that George, the late bishop, had
deserved all that he suffered, as having been zealous in favour of
Christianity, and forward in putting down paganism and in closing
the temples, yet he was still more opposed to Athanasius. That able
churchman held his power as a rebel by the help of the Egyptian mob,
against the wishes of the Greeks of Alexandria and against the orders of
the late emperor; and Julian made an edict, ordering that he should be
driven out of the city within twenty-four hours of the command reaching
Alexandria. The prefect of Egypt was at first unable, or unwilling, to
enforce these orders against the wish of the inhabitants; and Athanasius
was not driven into banishment till Julian wrote word that, if the
rebellious bishop were to be found in any part of Egypt after a day then
named, he would fine the prefect and the officers under him one hundred
pounds weight of gold. Thus Athanasius was for the fourth time banished
from Alexandria.

Though the Christians were out of favour with the emperor, and never
were employed in any office of trust, yet they were too numerous for him
to venture on a persecution. But Julian allowed them to be ill-treated
by his prefects, and took no notice of their complaints. He made a law,
forbidding any Christians being educated in pagan literature, believing
that ignorance would stop the spread of their religion. In the churches
of Greece, Asia Minor, and Syria, this was felt as a heavy grievance;
but it was less thought of in Egypt. Science and learning were less
cultivated by the Christians in Alexandria since the overthrow of the
Arian party; and a little later, to charge a writer with Grascizing was
the same as saying that he wanted orthodoxy.

Julian was a warm friend to learning and philosophy among the pagans.
He recalled to Alexandria the physician Zeno, who in the last reign had
fled from the Georgian faction, as the Christians were then called. He
founded in the same city a college for music, and ordered the Prefect
Ecdicius to look out for some young men of skill in that science,
particularly from among the pupils of Dioscorus; and he allotted them
a maintenance from the treasury, with rewards for the most skilful. At
Canopus, a pagan philosopher, Antoninus, the son of Eustathius, taking
advantage of the turn in public opinion, and copying the Christian monks
of the The-baid, drew round him a crowd of followers by his self-denial
and painful torture of the body. The Alexandrians flocked in crowds to
his dwelling; and such was his character for holiness that his death, in
the beginning of the reign of Theodosius, was thought by the Egyptians
to be the cause of the overthrow of paganism.

But Egyptian paganism, which had slumbered for fifty years under the
Christian emperors, was not again to be awaked to its former life.
Though the wars between the several cities for the honour of their gods,
the bull, the crocodile, or the fish, had never ceased, all reverence
for those gods was dead. The sacred animals, in particular the bulls
Apis and Mnevis, were again waited upon by their priests as of old; but
it was a vain attempt. Not only was the Egyptian religion overthrown,
but the Thebaid, the country of that religion, was fallen too low to
be raised again. The people of Upper Egypt had lost all heart, not more
from the tyranny of the Roman government in the north than from the
attacks and settlement of the Arabs in the south. All changes in the
country, whether for the better or the worse, were laid to the charge
of these latter unwelcome neighbours; and when the inquiring traveller
asked to be shown the crocodile, the river-horse, and the other animals
for which Egypt had once been noted, he was told with a sigh that they
were seldom to be seen in the Delta since the Thebaid had been peopled
with the Blemmyes. Falsehood, the usual vice of slaves, had taken a deep
hold on the Egyptian character. A denial of their wealth was the means
by which they usually tried to save it from the Roman tax-gatherer; and
an Egyptian was ashamed of himself as a coward if he could not show
a back covered with stripes gained in the attempt to save his money.
Peculiarities of character often descend unchanged in a nation for many
centuries; and, after fourteen hundred years of the same slavery, the
same stripes from the lash of the tax-gatherer still used to be the
boast of the Egyptian peasant. Cyrene was already a desert; the only
cities of note in Upper Egypt were Koptos, Hermopolis, and Antinoopolis;
but Alexandria was still the queen of cities, though the large quarter
called the Bruchium had not been rebuilt; and the Serapeum, with its
library of seven hundred thousand volumes, was, after the capitol of
Rome, the chief building in the world.

This temple of Serapis was situated on a rising ground at the west end
of the city, and, though not built like a fortification, was sometimes
called the citadel of Alexandria. It was entered by two roads; that on
one side was a slope for carriages, and on the other a grand flight of a
hundred steps from the street, with each step wider than that below
it. At the top of this flight of steps was a portico, in the form of a
circular roof, upheld by four columns.

[Illustration: 231.jpg AN EGYPTIAN WATER-CARRIER]

Through this was the entrance into the great courtyard, in the middle
of which stood the roofless hall or temple, surrounded by columns and
porticoes, inside and out. In some of the inner porticoes were the
bookcases for the library which made Alexandria the very temple of
science and learning, while other porticoes were dedicated to the
service of the ancient religion. The roofs were ornamented with gilding,
the capitals of the columns were of copper gilt, and the walls were
covered with paintings. In the middle of the inner area stood one lofty
column, which could be seen by all the country round, and even from
ships some distance out at sea. The great statue of Serapis, which had
been made under the Ptolemies, having perhaps marble feet, but for the
rest built of wood, clothed with drapery, and glittering with gold and
silver, stood in one of the covered chambers, which had a small window
so contrived as to let the sun's rays kiss the lips of the statue on the
appointed occasions. This was one of the tricks employed in the sacred
mysteries, to dazzle the worshipper by the sudden blaze of light which
on the proper occasions was let into the dark room. The temple itself,
with its fountain, its two obelisks, and its gilt ornaments, has long
since been destroyed; and the column in the centre, under the name of
Pompey's Pillar, alone remains to mark the spot where it stood, and is
one of the few works of Greek art which in size and strength vie with
the old Egyptian monuments.

The reign of Julian, instead of raising paganism to its former strength,
had only shown that its life was spent; and under Jovian (A.D. 363--364)
the Christians were again brought into power. A Christian emperor,
however, would have been but little welcome to the Egyptians if, like
Constantius, and even Constantine in his latter years, he had leaned
to the Arian party; but Jovian soon showed his attachment to the Nicene
creed, and he re-appointed Athanasius to the bishopric of Alexandria.
But though Athanasius regained his rank, yet the Arian bishop Lucius
was not deposed. Each party in Alexandria had its own bishop; those who
thought that the Son was of the same substance with the Father looked up
to Athanasius, while those who gave to Jesus the lower rank of being of
a similar substance to the Creator obeyed Lucius.

This curious metaphysical proposition was not, however, the only cause
of the quarrel which divided Egypt into such angry parties. The creeds
were made use of as the watchwords in a political struggle. Blood,
language, and geographical boundaries divided the parties; and religious
opinions seldom cross these unchanging and inflexible lines.

Every Egyptian believed in the Nicene creed and the incorruptibility
of the body of Jesus, and hated the Alexandrian Greeks; while the more
refined Greeks were as united in explaining away the Nicene creed by
the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, and in despising the ignorant
Egyptians. Christianity, which speaks so forcibly to the poor, the
unlearned, and the slave, had educated the Egyptian population,
had raised them in their own eyes; and, as the popular party gained
strength, the Arians lost ground in Alexandria. At the same time the
Greeks were falling off: in learning and in science, and in all those
arts of civilisation which had given them the superiority. Like other
great political changes, this may not have been understood at the time;
but in less than a hundred years it was found that the Egyptians were no
longer the slaves, nor the Greeks the masters.

On the death of Jovian, when Valentinian divided the Roman empire with
his brother, he took Italy and the West for his own kingdom, and gave to
Valens Egypt and the Eastern provinces, in which Greek was the language
of the government. Each emperor adopted the religion of his capital;
Valentinian held the Nicene faith, and Valens the Arian faith; and
unhappy Egypt was the only part of the empire whose religion differed
from that of its rulers. Had the creeds marked the limits of the
two empires, Egypt would have belonged to Rome; but, as geographical
boundaries and language form yet stronger ties, Egypt was given to
Constantinople, or rather to Antioch, the nearer of the two Eastern

By Valens, Athanasius was forced for the fifth time to fly from
Alexandria, to avoid the displeasure which his disobedience again drew
down upon him. But his flock again rose in rebellion in favour of their
popular bishop; and the emperor was either persuaded or frightened
into allowing him to return to his bishopric, where he spent the few
remaining years of his life in peace. Athanasius died at an advanced
age, leaving a name more famous than that of any one of the emperors
under whom he lived. He taught the Christian world that there was a
power greater than that of kings, namely the Church. He was often beaten
in the struggle, but every victory over him was followed by the defeat
of the civil power; he was five times banished, but five times he
returned in triumph. The temporal power of the Church was in its
infancy; it only rose upon the conversion of Constantine, and it was
weak compared to what it became in after ages; but, when the Emperor
of Germany did penance barefoot before Pope Hildebrand, and a king of
England was whipped at Becket's tomb, we only witness the full-grown
strength of the infant power that was being reared by the Bishop of
Alexandria. His writings are numerous and wholly controversial, chiefly
against the Arians. The Athanasian creed seems to have been so named
only because it was thought to contain his opinions, as it is known to
be by a later author.

On the death of Athanasius, the Homoousian party chose Peter as his
successor in the bishopric, overlooking Lucius, the Arian bishop, whose
election had been approved by the emperors Julian, Jovian, and Valens.
But as the Egyptian church had lost its great champion, the emperor
ventured to re-assert his authority. He sent Peter to prison, and
ordered all the churches to be given up to the Arians, threatening with
banishment from Egypt whoever disobeyed his edict. The persecution
which the Homoousian party throughout Upper Egypt then suffered from the
Arians equalled, says the ecclesiastical historian, anything that they
had before suffered from the pagans. Every monastery in Egypt was broken
open by Lucius at the head of an armed force, and the cruelty of
the bishop surpassed that of the soldiers. The breaking open of the
monasteries seems to have been for the purpose of making the inmates
bear their share in the military service of the state, rather than
for any religious reasons. When Constantine embraced Christianity, he
immediately recognised all the religious scruples of its professors;
and not only bishops and presbyters but all laymen who had entered the
monastic orders were freed from the duty of serving in the army. But
under the growing dislike of military service, and the difficulty of
finding soldiers, when to escape from the army many called themselves
Christian monks, this excuse could no longer be listened to, and Valens
made a law that monastic vows should not save a man from enlistment.
But this law was not easily carried into force in the monasteries on
the borders of the desert, which were often well-built and well-guarded
fortresses; and on Mount Nitria, in particular, many monks lost
their lives in their resistance to the troops that were sent to fetch


The monastic institutions of Egypt had already reached their
full growth. They were acknowledged by the laws of the empire as
ecclesiastical corporations, and allowed to hold property; and by a new
law of this reign, if a monk or nun died without a will or any known
kindred, the property went to the monastery as heir at law. One of the
most celebrated of these monasteries was on Tabenna, where Pachomius
had gathered round him thirteen hundred followers, who owned him as the
founder of their order, and gave him credit for the gift of prophecy.
His disciples in the other monasteries of Upper Egypt amounted to six
thousand more. Anuph was at the head of another order of monks, and he
boasted that he could by prayer obtain from heaven whatever he wished.
Hor was at the head of another monastery, where, though wholly unable
to read or write, he spent his life in singing psalms, and, as his
followers and perhaps he himself believed, in working miracles.
Sera-pion was at the head of a thousand monks in the Ar-sinoïte nome,
who raised their food by their own labour, and shared it with their
poorer neighbours. Near Nitria, a place in the Mareotic nome which gave
its name to the nitre springs, there were as many as fifty cells; but
those who aimed at greater solitude and severer mortification withdrew
farther into the desert, to Scetis in the same nome, a spot already
sanctified by the trials and triumphs of St. Anthony. Here, in a
monastery surrounded by the sands, by the side of a lake whose waters
are Salter than the brine of the ocean, with no grass or trees to rest
the aching eye, where the dazzling sky is seldom relieved with a
cloud, where the breezes are too often laden with dry dust, these monks
cultivated a gloomy religion, with hearts painfully attuned to the
scenery around them. Here dwelt Moses, who in his youth had been a
remarkable sinner, and in his old age became even more remarkable as a
saint. It was said that for six years he spent every night in prayer,
without once closing his eyes in sleep; and that one night, when his
cell was attacked by four robbers, he carried them all off at once on
his back to the neighbouring monastery to be punished, because he would
himself hurt no man. Benjamin also dwelt at Scetis; he consecrated oil
to heal the diseases of those who washed with it, and during the eight
months that he was himself dying of a dropsy, he touched for their
diseases all who came to the door of his cell to be healed. Hellas
carried fire in his bosom without burning his clothes. Elias spent
seventy years in solitude on the borders of the Arabian desert near
Antinoopolis. Apelles was a blacksmith near Achoris; he was tempted
by the devil in the form of a beautiful woman, but he scorched the
tempter's face with a red-hot iron. Dorotheus, who though a Theban had
settled near Alexandria, mortified his flesh by trying to live without
sleep. He never willingly lay down to rest, nor indeed ever slept till
the weakness of the body sunk under the efforts of the spirit. Paul,
who dwelt at Pherma, repeated three hundred prayers every day, and kept
three hundred pebbles in a bag to help him in his reckoning. He was the
friend of Anthony, and when dying begged to be wrapt in the cloak given
him by that holy monk, who had himself received it as a present from
Athanasius. His friends and admirers claimed for Paul the honour of
being the first Christian hermit, and they maintained their improbable
opinion by asserting that he had been a monk for ninety-seven years, and
that he had retired to the desert at the age of sixteen, when the Church
was persecuted in the reign of Valerian. All Egypt believed that the
monks were the especial favourites of Heaven, that they worked miracles,
and that divine wisdom flowed from their lips without the help or
hindrance of human learning. They were all Homoousians, believing
that the Son was of one substance with the Father; some as trinitarians
holding the opinions of Athanasius; some as Sabellians believing that
Jesus was the creator of the world, and that his body therefore was not
liable to corruption; some as anthropomorphites believing God was of
human form like Jesus; but all warmly attached to the Mcene creed,
denying the two natures of Christ, and hating the Arian Greeks of
Alexandria and the other cities. Gregory of Nazianzum remarks that Egypt
was the most Christ-loving of countries, and adds with true simplicity
that, wonderful to say, after having so lately worshipped bulls, goats,
and crocodiles, it was now teaching the world the worship of the Trinity
in the truest form.

The pagans, who were now no longer able to worship publicly as they
chose, took care to proclaim their opinions indirectly in such ways as
the law could not reach. In the hippodrome, which was the noisiest of
the places where the people met in public, they made a profession of
their faith by the choice of which horses they bet on; and Christians
and pagans alike showed their zeal for religion by hooting and clapping
of hands. Prayers and superstitious ceremonies were used on both
sides to add to the horses' speed; and the monk Hilarion, the pupil of
Anthony, gained no little credit for sprinkling holy water on the horses
of his party, and thus enabling Christianity to outrun paganism in the
hippodrome at Gaza.

During these reigns of weakness and misgovernment, it was no doubt a
cruel policy rather than humanity that led the tax-gatherers to collect
the tribute in kind. More could be squeezed out of a ruined people by
taking what they had to give than by requiring it to be paid in copper
coin. Hence Valons made a law that no tribute throughout the empire
should be taken in money; and he laid a new land-tax upon Egypt, to the
amount of a soldier's clothing for every thirty acres.

The Saracens* had for some time past been encroaching on the Eastern
frontiers of the empire, and had only been kept back by treaties which
proved the weakness of the Romans, as the armies of Constantinople were
still called, and which encouraged the barbarians in their attacks.

     * The name _Saraceni_ was given by the Greeks and Romans to
     the nomadic Arabs who lived on the borders of the desert.
     During the Middle Ages, the Muhammedans, coming from
     apparently the same localities, were also called Saracens.

On the death of their king, the command over the Saracens fell to
their Queen Masvia, who broke the last treaty, laid waste Palestine and
Phoenicia with her armies, conquered or gained over the Arabs of Petra,
and pressed upon the Egyptians at the head of the Red Sea. On this,
Valens renewed the truce, but on terms still more favourable to the
invaders. Many of the Saracens were Christians, and by an article of the
treaty they were to have a bishop granted them for their church, and
for this purpose they sent Moses to Alexandria to be ordained. But
the Saracens sided with the Egyptians, in religion as well as policy,
against the Arian Greeks. Hence Moses refused to be ordained by Lucius,
the patriarch of Alexandria, and chose rather to receive his appointment
from some of the Homoousian bishops who were living in banishment in the
Thebaid. After this advance of the barbarians the interesting city
of Petra, which since the time of Trajan had been in the power or the
friendship of Rome or Constantinople, was lost to the civilised world.
This rocky fastness, which was ornamented with temples, a triumphal
arch, and a theatre, and had been a bishop's see, was henceforth
closed against all travellers; it had no place in the map till it was
discovered by Burckhardt in our own days without a human being dwelling
in it, with oleanders and tamarisks choking up its entrance through
the cliff, and with brambles trailing their branches over the rock-hewn

[Illustration: 243.jpg TEMPLE COURTYARD, MEDINET ABU]

The reign of Theodosius, which extended from 379 to 395, is remarkable
for the blow then given to paganism. The old religion had been sinking
even before Christianity had become the religion of the emperors; it had
been discouraged by Constantine, who had closed many of the temples; but
Theodosius made a law in the first year of his reign that the whole
of the empire should be Christian, and should receive the trinitarian
faith. He soon afterwards ordered that Sunday should be kept holy, and
forbade all work and law-proceedings on that day; and he sent Cynegius,
the prefect of the palace, into Egypt, to see these laws carried into
effect in that province.

The wishes of the emperor were ably followed up by Theophilus, Bishop of
Alexandria. He cleansed the temple of Mithra, and overthrew the statues
in the celebrated temple of Serapis, which seemed the very citadel of
paganism. He also exposed to public ridicule the mystic ornaments and
statues which a large part of his fellow-citizens still regarded as
sacred. It was not, however, to be supposed that this could be peaceably
borne by a people so irritable as the Alexandrians. The students in the
schools of philosophy put themselves at the head of the mob to stop the
work of destruction, and to revenge themselves upon their assailants,
and several battles were fought in the streets between the pagans
and the Christians, in which both parties lost many lives; but as the
Christians were supported by the power of the prefect, the pagans were
routed, and many whose rank would have made them objects of punishment
were forced to fly from Alexandria.

No sooner had the troops under the command of the prefect put down the
pagan opposition than the work of destruction was again carried forward
by the zeal of the bishop. The temples were broken open, their ornaments
destroyed, and the statues of the gods melted for the use of the
Alexandrian church. One statue of an Egyptian god was alone saved from
the wreck, and was set up in mockery of those who had worshipped it;
and this ridicule of their religion was a cause of greater anger to the
pagans than even the destruction of the other statues. The great statue
of Serapis, which was made of wood covered with plates of metal, was
knocked to pieces by the axes of the soldiers. The head and limbs were
broken off, and the wooden trunk was burnt in the amphitheatre amid
the shouts and jeers of the bystanders. A conjectured fragment of this
statue is now in the British Museum.

In the plunder of the temple of Serapis, the great library of more
than seven hundred thousand volumes was wholly broken up and scattered.
Orosius, the Spaniard, who visited Alexandria in the next reign, may be
trusted when he says that he saw in the temple the empty shelves, which,
within the memory of men then living, had been plundered of the books
that had formerly been got together after the library of the Bruchium
was burnt by Julius Cæsar. In a work of such lawless plunder, carried
on by ignorant zealots, many of these monuments of pagan genius and
learning must have been wilfully or accidentally destroyed, though the
larger number may have been carried off by the Christians for the other
public and private libraries of the city. How many other libraries this
city of science may have possessed we are not told, but there were no
doubt many. Had Alexandria during the next two centuries given birth to
poets and orators, their works, the offspring of native genius, might
perhaps have been written without the help of libraries; but the labours
of the mathematicians and grammarians prove that the city was still well
furnished with books, beside those on the Christian controversies.

When the Christians were persecuted by the pagans, none but men of
unblemished lives and unusual strength of mind stood to their religion
in the day of trial, and suffered the penalties of the law; the weak,
the ignorant, and the vicious readily joined in the superstitions
required of them, and, embracing the religion of the stronger party,
easily escaped punishment. So it was when the pagans of Alexandria were
persecuted by Theophilus; the chief sufferers were the men of learning,
in whose minds paganism was a pure deism, and who saw nothing but
ignorance and superstition on the side of their oppressors; who thought
their worship of the Trinity only a new form of polytheism, and jokingly
declared that they were not arithmeticians enough to understand it.
Olympius, who was the priest of Serapis when the temple was sacked, and
as such the head of the pagans of Alexandria, was a man in every
respect the opposite of the Bishop Theophilus. He was of a frank, open
countenance and agreeable manners; and though his age might have allowed
him to speak among his followers in the tone of command, he chose rather
in his moral lessons to use the mild persuasion of an equal; and few
hearts were so hardened as not to be led into the paths of duty by his
exhortations. Whereas the furious monks, says the indignant pagan, were
men only in form, but swine in manners. Whoever put on a black coat, and
was not ashamed to be seen with dirty linen, gained a tyrannical power
over the minds of the mob, from their belief in his holiness; and these
men attacked the temples of the gods as a propitiation for their own
enormous sins. Thus each party reproached the other, and often unjustly.
Among other religious frauds and pretended miracles of which the pagan
priests were accused, was that of having an iron statue of Serapis
hanging in the air in a chamber of the temple, by means of a loadstone
fixed in the ceiling. The natural difficulties shield them from this
charge, but other accusations are not so easily rebutted.

After this attack upon the pagans, their religion was no longer openly
taught in Alexandria. Some of the more zealous professors withdrew
from the capital to Canopus, about ten miles distant, where the ancient
priestly learning was still taught, unpersecuted because unnoticed; and
there, under the pretence of studying hieroglyphics, a school was opened
for teaching magic and other forbidden rites. When the pagan worship
ceased throughout Egypt, the temples were very much used as churches,
and in some cases received in their ample courtyard a smaller church of
Greek architecture, as in that of Medinet Abu. In other cases Christian
ornaments were added to the old walls, as in the rock temple of Kneph,
opposite to Abu Simbel, where the figure of the Saviour with a glory
round his head has been painted on the ceiling. The Christians, in order
to remove from before their eyes the memorials of the old superstition,
covered up the sculpture on the walls with mud from the Nile and white
plaster. This coating we now take away, at a time when the idolatrous
figures are no longer dangerous to religion, and we find the sculpture
and painting fresh as when covered up fourteen hundred years ago.

[Illustration: 248.jpg CHRISTIAN PICTURE AT ABU SIMBE]

It would be unreasonable to suppose that the Egyptians, upon embracing
Christianity, at once threw off all of their pagan rites. Among other
customs that they still clung to, was that of making mummies of the
bodies of the dead. St. Anthony had tried to dissuade the Christian
converts from that practice; not because the mummy-cases were covered
with pagan inscriptions, but he boldly asserted, what a very little
reading would have disproved, that every mode of treating a dead body,
beside burial, was forbidden in the Bible. St. Augustine, on the other
hand, well understanding that the immortality of the soul without the
body was little likely to be understood or valued by the ignorant,
praises the Egyptians for that very practice, and says that they were
the only Christians who really believed in the resurrection from the
dead. The tapers burnt before the altars were from the earliest times
used to light up the splendours of the Egyptian altars, in the darkness
of their temples, and had been burnt in still greater numbers in the
yearly festival of the candles. The playful custom of giving away
sugared cakes and sweetmeats on the twenty-fifth day of Tybi, our
twentieth of January, was then changed to be kept fourteen days earlier,
and it still marks the Feast of Epiphany or Twelfth-night. The division
of the people into clergy and laity, which was unknown to Greeks and
Romans, was introduced into Christianity in the fourth century by the
Egyptians. While the rest of Christendom were clothed in woollen, linen,
the common dress of the Egyptians, was universally adopted by the clergy
as more becoming to the purity of their manners. At the same time the
clergy copied the Egyptian priests in the custom of shaving the crown of
the head bald.

The new law in favour of trinitarian Christianity was enforced with as
great strictness against the Arians as against the pagans. The bishops
and priests of that party wrere everywhere turned out of their churches,
which were then given up to the Homoousians. Theodosius summoned a
council of one hundred and fifty bishops at Constantinople, to re-enact
the Nicene creed; and in the future religious rebellions of the
Egyptians they always quoted against the Greeks this council of
Constantinople, with that of Nicasa, as the foundation of their faith.
By this religious policy, Theodosius did much to delay the fall of the
empire. He won the friendship of his Egyptian subjects, as well as of
their Saracen neighbours, all of whom, as far as they were Christian,
held to the Nicene creed. Egypt became the safest of his provinces; and,
when his armies had been recruited with so many barbarians that they
could no longer be trusted, these new levies wrere marched into Egypt
under the command of Hormisdas, and an equal number of Egyptians were
drafted out of the army of Egypt, and led into Thessaly.

When the season came for the overflow of the Nile, in the first summer
after the destruction of the temples, the waters happened to rise more
slowly than usual; and the Egyptians laid the blame upon the Christian
emperor, who had forbidden their sacrificing the usual offerings in
honour of the river-god.


The alarm for the loss of their crops carried more weight in the
religious controversy than any arguments that could be brought against
pagan sacrifices; and the anger of the people soon threatened a serious
rebellion. Evagrius the prefect, being disturbed for the peace of the
country, sent to Constantinople for orders; but the emperor remained
firm; he would make no change in the law against paganism, and the fears
of the Egyptians and Alexandrians were soon put an end to by a most
plenteous overflow.

Since the time of Athanasius, and the overthrow of the Arian party in
Alexandria, the learning of that city was wholly in the hands of the
pagans, and was chiefly mathematical. Diophantus of Alexandria is the
earliest writer on algebra whose works are now remaining to us, and has
given his name to the Diophantine problems. Pappus wrote a description
of the world, and a commentary on Ptolemy's _Almagest_, beside a work
on geometry, published under the name of his _Mathematical Collections_.
Theon, a professor in the museum, wrote on the smaller astrolabe--the
instrument then used to measure the star orbits--and on the rise of the
Nile, a subject always of interest to the mathematicians of Egypt, from
its importance to the husbandman. From Theon's astronomical observations
we learn that the Alexandrian astronomers still made use of the old
Egyptian movable year of three hundred and sixty-five days only, and
without a leap-year. Paul the Alexandrian astrologer, on the other hand,
uses the Julian year of three hundred and sixty-five days and a quarter,
and he dates from the era of Diocletian. His rules for telling the day
of the week from the day of the month, and for telling on what day of
the week each year began, teach us that our present mode of dividing
time was used in Egypt. Horapollo, the grammarian, was also then a
teacher in the schools of Alexandria. He wrote in the Koptic language a
work in explanation of the old hieroglyphics, which has gained a notice
far beyond its deserts, because it is the only work on the subject that
has come down to us.

The only Christian writings of this time, that we know of, are the
paschal letters of Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, which were much
praised by Jerome, and by him translated into Latin. They are full of
bitter reproaches against Origen and his writings, and they charge him
with having treated Jesus more cruelly than Pilate or the Jews had done.
John, the famous monk of the Thebaid, was no writer, though believed to
have the gift of prophecy. He was said to have foretold the victory
of Theodosius over the rebel Maximus; and, when the emperor had got
together his troops to march against Eugenius, another rebel who
had seized the passes of the Julian Alps, he sent his trusty eunuch
Eutropius to fetch the holy Egyptian, or at least to learn from him what
would be the event of the war. John refused to go to Europe, but he
told the messenger that Theodosius would conquer the rebel, and soon
afterwards die; both of which came to pass as might easily have been

On the death of Theodosius, in 395, the Roman empire was again divided.
Arcadius, his elder son, ruled Egypt and the East, while Honorius, the
younger, held the West; and the reins of government at once passed
from the ablest to the weakest hands. But the change was little felt
in Egypt, which continued to be governed by the patriarch Theophilus,
without the name but with very nearly the power of a prefect. He was
a bold and wicked man, but as his religious opinions were for the
Homoousians as against the Arians, and his political feelings were for
the Egyptians as against the Greeks, he rallied to his government the
chief strength of the province. As the pagans and Arians of Alexandria
were no longer worthy of his enmity, he fanned into a flame a new
quarrel which was then breaking out in the Egyptian church. The monks
of Upper Egypt, who were mostly ignorant and unlettered men, were
anthropomorphites, or believers that God was in outward shape like a
man. They quoted from the Jewish Scriptures that he made man in his own
image, in support of their opinion. They held that he was of a strictly
human form, like Jesus, which to them seemed fully asserted in the
Nicene creed. In this opinion they were opposed by those who were better
educated, and it suited the policy of Theophilus to side with the more
ignorant and larger party. He branded with the name of Origenists those
who argued that God was without form, and who quoted the writings of
Origen in support of their opinion. This naturally led to a dispute
about Origen's orthodoxy; and that admirable writer, who had been
praised by all parties for two hundred years, and who had been quoted as
authority as much by Athanasius as by the Arians, was declared to be a
heretic by a council of bishops. The writings of Origen were accordingly
forbidden to be read, because they contradicted the anthropomorphite

The quarrel between the Origenists and the anthropomorphites did not end
in words. A proposition in theology, or a doubt in metaphysics, was no
better cause of civil war than the old quarrels about the bull Apis or
the crocodile; but a change of religion had not changed the national
character. The patriarch, finding his party the stronger, attacked the
enemy in their own monasteries; he marched to Mount Nitria at the head
of a strong body of soldiers, and, enrolling under his banners the
anthropomorphite monks, attacked Dioscorus and the Origenists, set fire
to their monasteries, and laid waste the place.

Theophilus next quarrelled with Peter, the chief of the Alexandrian
presbyters, whom he accused of admitting to the sacraments of the
church a woman who had not renounced the Manichean heresy; and he then
quarrelled with Isidorus, who had the charge of the poor of the church,
because he bore witness that Peter had the orders of Theophilus himself
for what he did.

In this century there was a general digging up of the bodies of the
most celebrated Christians of former ages, to heal the diseases and
strengthen the faith of the living; and Constantinople, which as the
capital of the empire had been ornamented by the spoils of its subject
provinces, had latterly been enriching its churches with the remains of
numerous Christian saints. The tombs of Egypt, crowded with mummies that
had lain there for centuries, could of course furnish relics more easily
than most countries, and in this reign Constantinople received from
Alexandria a quantity of bones which were supposed to be those of the
martyrs slain in the pagan persecutions. The archbishop John Chrysostom
received them gratefully, and, though himself smarting under the
reproach that he was not orthodox enough for the superstitious
Egyptians, he thanks God that Egypt, which sent forth its grain to feed
its hungry neighbours, could also send the bodies of so many martyrs to
sanctify their churches.

We have traced the fall of the Greek party in Alexandria, in the
victories over the Arians during the religious quarrels of the last
hundred years; and in the laws we now read the city's loss of wealth
and power. The corporation of Alexandria was no longer able to bear the
expense of cleansing the river and keeping open the canals; and four
hundred _solidi_--about twelve hundred dollars--were each year set apart
from the custom-house duties of the city for that useful work.

The arrival of new settlers in Alexandria had been very much checked by
the less prosperous state of the country since the reign of Diocletian.
We still find, however, that many of the men of note were not born in
Egypt. Paulus, the physician, was a native of Ægina. He has left a work
on diseases and their remedies. The chief man of learning was Synesius,
a platonic philosopher whom the patriarch Theophilus persuaded to join
the Christians. As a platonist he naturally leaned towards many of
the doctrines of the popular religion, but he could not believe in a
resurrection; and it was not till after Theophilus had ordained him
Bishop of Ptolemais near Cyrene that he acknowledged the truth of that
doctrine. Nor would he then put away or disown his wife, as the
custom of the Church required; indeed, he accepted the bishopric very
unwillingly. He was as fond of playful sport as he was of books, and
very much disliked business. He has left a volume of writings, which has
saved the names of two prefects of Cyrene; the one Anysius, under
whose good discipline even the barbarians of Hungary behaved like Roman
legionaries, and the other Poonius, who cultivated science in this
barren spot. To encourage Pasonius in his praiseworthy studies he made
him a present of an astrolabe, to measure the distances of the stars
and planets, an instrument which was constructed under the guidance of

Trade and industry were checked by the unsettled state of the country,
and misery and famine were spreading over the land. The African tribes
of Mazices and Auxoriani, leaving the desert in hope of plunder, overran
the province of Libya, and laid waste a large part of the Delta. The
barbarians and the sands of the desert were alike encroaching on the
cultivated fields. Nature seemed changed. The valley of the Nile was
growing narrower. Even within the valley the retreating wraters left
behind them harvests less rich, and fever more putrid. The quarries were
no longer worth working for their building stone. The mines yielded no
more gold.

On the death of Arcadius, his son Theodosius was only eight years old,
but he was quietly acknowledged as Emperor of the East in 408, and he
left the government of Egypt, as heretofore, very much in the hands of
the patriarch. In the fifth year of his reign Theophilus died; and, as
might be supposed, a successor was not appointed without a struggle for
the double honour of Bishop of Alexandria and Governor of Egypt.

[Illustration: 257.jpg QUARRIES AT TOORAH ON THE NILE]

The remains of the Greek and Arian party proposed Timotheus, an
archdeacon in the church; but the Egyptian party were united in favour
of Cyril, a young man of learning and talent, who had the advantage of
being the nephew of the late bishop. Whatever were the forms by which
the election should have been governed, it was in reality settled by a
battle between the two parties in the streets; and though Abundantius,
the military prefect, gave the weight of his name, if not the strength
of his cohort, to the party of Timotheus, yet his rival conquered,
-and Cyril was carried into the cathedral with a pomp more like a pagan
triumph than the modest ordination of a bishop.

Cyril was not less tyrannical in his bishopric than his uncle had
been before him. His first care was to put a stop to all heresy in
Alexandria, and his second to banish the Jews. The theatre was the spot
in which the riots between Jews and Christians usually began, and the
Sabbath was the time, as being the day on which the Jews chiefly crowded
in to see the dancing. On one occasion the quarrel in the theatre ran
so high that the prefect with his cohort was scarcely able to keep them
from blows; and the Christians reproached the Jews with plotting to burn
down the churches. But the Christians were themselves guilty of the very
crimes of which they accused their enemies. The next morning, as soon
as it was light, Cyril headed the mob in their attacks upon the Jewish
synagogues; they broke them open and plundered them, and in one day
drove every Jew out of the city. No Jew had been allowed to live in
Alexandria or any other city without paying a poll-tax, for leave
to worship his God according to the manner of his forefathers; but
religious zeal is stronger than the love of money; the Jews were driven
out, and the tax lost to the city.

[Illustration: 258b.jpg Street and Mosque of Mahdjiar]

Orestes, the prefect of Alexandria, had before wished to check the power
of the bishop; and he in vain tried to save the Jews from oppression,
and the state from the loss of so many good citizens. But it was useless
to quarrel with the patriarch, who was supported by the religious
zeal of the whole population. The monks of Mount Nitria and of the
neighbourhood burned with a holy zeal to fight for Cyril, as they had
before fought for Theophilus; and when they heard that a jealousy had
sprung up between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, more than
five hundred of them marched into Alexandria to avenge the affronted
bishop. They met the prefect Orestes as he was passing through the
streets in his open chariot, and began reproaching him with being a
pagan and a Greek. Orestes answered that he was a Christian, and he had
been baptised at Constantinople. But this only cleared him of the lesser
charge, he was certainly a Greek; and one of these Egyptian monks taking
up a stone threw it at his head, and the blow covered his face with
blood. They then fled from the guards and people who came up to help the
wounded prefect; but Ammonius, who threw the stone, was taken and put
to death with torture. The grateful bishop buried him in the church with
much pomp; he declared him to be a martyr and a saint, and gave him
the name of St. Thaumasius. But the Christians were ashamed of the
new martyr: and the bishop, who could not withstand the ridicule, soon
afterwards withdrew from him the title.

Bad as was this behaviour of the bishop and his friends, the most
disgraceful tale still remains to be told. The beautiful and learned
Hypatia, the daughter of Theon the mathematician, was at that time
the ornament of Alexandria and the pride of the pagans. She taught
philosophy publicly in the platonic school which had been founded by
Ammonius, and which boasted of Plotinus as its pupil. She was as modest
as she wras graceful, eloquent, and learned; and though, being a pagan,
she belonged to neither of the rival Christian parties, yet, as she
had more hearers among the Greek friends of the prefect than among the
ignorant followers of the bishop, she became an object of jealousy with
the Homoousian party. A body of these Christians, says the orthodox
historian, attacked this admirable woman in the street; they dragged
her from her chariot, and hurried her off into the church named Cæsar's
temple, and there stripped her and murdered her with some broken tiles.
She had written commentaries on the mathematical works of Diophantus,
and on the conic sections of Apollonius. The story of her life has been
related in the nineteenth century by Charles Kingsley in the novel which
bears her name.

Arianism took refuge from the Egyptians within the camps of the Greek
soldiers. One church was dedicated to the honour of St. George, the late
bishop, within the lofty towers of the citadel of Babylon, which was
the strongest fortress in Egypt; and a second in the city of Ptolemais,
where a garrison was stationed to collect the toll of the Thebaid. St.
George became a favourite saint with the Greeks in Egypt, and in those
spots where the Greek soldiers were masters of the churches this Arian
and unpopular bishop was often painted on the walls riding triumphantly
on horseback and slaying the dragon of Athanasian error. On the other
hand, in Alexandria, where his rival's politics and opinions held the
upper hand, the monastery of St. Athanasius was built in the most public
spot in the city, probably that formerly held by the Soma or royal
burial-place; and in Thebes a cathedral church was dedicated to St.
Athanasius within the great courtyard of Medinet-Abu, where the
small and paltry Greek columns are in strange contrast to the grand
architecture of Ramses III. which surrounds them.

In former reigns the Alexandrians had been in the habit of sending
embassies to Constantinople to complain of tyranny or misgovernment, and
to beg for a redress of grievances, when they thought that justice could
be there obtained when it was refused in Alexandria. But this practice
was stopped by Theodosius, who made a law that the Alexandrians should
never send an embassy to Constantinople, unless it were agreed to by a
decree of the town council, and had the approbation of the prefect. The
weak and idle emperor would allow no appeal from the tyranny of his own

We may pass over the banishment of John Chrysostom, Bishop of
Constantinople, as having less to do with the history of Egypt, though,
as in the cases of Arius and Nestorius, the chief mover of the attack
upon him was a bishop of Alexandria, who accused him of heresy, because
he did not come up to the Egyptian standard of orthodoxy. But among the
bishops who were deposed with Chrysostom was Palladius of Galatia, who
was sent a prisoner to Syênê. As soon as he was released from his bonds,
instead of being cast down by his misfortunes, he proposed to take
advantage of the place of his banishment, and he set forward on his
travels through Ethiopia for India, in search of the wisdom of the
Brahmins. He arrived in safety at Adule, the port on the Red Sea in
latitude 15°, now known as Zula, where he made acquaintance with Moses,
the bishop of that city, and persuaded him to join him in his distant
and difficult voyage.

From Adule the two set sail in one of the vessels employed in the Indian
trade; but they were unable to accomplish their purpose, and Palladius
returned to Egypt worn out with heat and fatigue, having scarcely
touched the shores of India. On his return through Thebes he met with
a traveller who had lately returned from the same journey, and who
consoled him under his disappointment by recounting his own failure in
the same undertaking. His new friend had himself been a merchant in the
Indian trade, but had given up business because he was not successful in
it; and, having taken a priest as his companion, had set out on the
same voyage in search of Eastern wisdom. They had sailed to Adule on
the Abyssinian shore, and then travelled to Auxum, the capital of that
country. From that coast they set sail for the Indian ocean, and reached
a coast which they thought was Taprobane or Ceylon. But there they were
taken prisoners, and, after spending six years in slavery, and learning
but little of the philosophy that they were in search of, were glad to
take the first opportunity of escaping and returning to Egypt. Palladius
had travelled in Egypt before he was sent there into banishment, and
he had spent many years in examining the monasteries of the Thebaid and
their rules, and he has left a history of the lives of many of those
holy men and woman, addressed to his friend Lausus.

When Nestorius was deposed from the bishopric of Constantinople for
refusing to use the words "Mother of God" as the title of Jesus'
mother, and for falling short in other points of what was then thought
orthodoxy, he was banished to Hibe in the Great Oasis. While he was
living there, the Great Oasis was overrun by the Blemmyes, the Roman
garrison was defeated, and those that resisted were put to the sword.
The Blemmyes pillaged the place and then withdrew; and, being themselves
at war with the Mazices, another tribe of Arabs, they kindly sent their
prisoners to the Thebaid, lest they should fall into the hands of
the latter. Nestorius then went to Panopolis to show himself to the
governor, lest he should be accused of running away from his place of
banishment, and soon afterwards he died of the sufferings brought on by
these forced and painful journeys through the desert.

About the same time Egypt was visited by Cassianus, a monk of Gaul, in
order to study the monastic institutions of the Thebaid. In his work on
that subject he has described at length the way of life and the severe
rules of the Egyptian monks, and has recommended them to the imitation
of his countrymen. But the natives of Italy and the West do not seem
to have been contented with copying the Theban monks at a distance. Such
was the fame of the Egyptian monasteries that many zealots from Italy
flocked there, to place themselves under the severe discipline of those
holy men. As these Latin monks did not understand either Koptic or
Greek, they found some difficulty in regulating their lives with the
wished-for exactness; and the rules of Pachomius, of Theodorus, and of
Oresiesis, the most celebrated of the founders, were actually sent to
Jerome at Rome, to be by him translated into Latin for the use of these
settlers in the Thebaid. These Latin monks made St. Peter a popular
saint in some parts of Egypt; and in the temple of Asseboua, in Nubia,
when the Christians plastered over the figure of one of the old gods,
they painted in its place the Apostle Peter holding the key in his hand.

[Illustration: 264.jpg RAMSES II. AND ST. PETER]

They did not alter the rest of the sculpture; so that Ramses II. is
there now seen presenting his offering to the Christian saint. The mixed
group gives us proof of the nation's decline in art rather than of its
improvement in religion.

Among the monks of Egypt there were also some men of learning and
industry, who in their cells in the desert had made at least three
translations of the New Testament into the three dialects of the Koptic
language; namely, the Sahidic of Upper Egypt, the Bashmuric of the
Bashmour province of the eastern half of the Delta, and the Koptic
proper of Memphis and the western half of the Delta. To these were
afterwards added the Acts of the council of Nicæa, the lives of the
saints and martyrs, the writings of many of the Christian fathers, the
rituals of the Koptic church, and various treatises on religion.

Other monks were as busy in making copies of the Greek manuscripts
of the Old and New Testament; and, as each copy must have needed the
painful labour of months, and often years, their industry and zeal must
have been great. Most of these manuscripts were on papyrus, or on a
manufactured papyrus which might be called paper, and have long since
been lost; but the three most ancient copies on parchment which are the
pride of the Vatican, the Paris library, and the British Museum, are the
work of the Alexandrian penmen.

Copies of the Bible were also made in Alexandria for sale in western
Europe; and all our oldest manuscripts show their origin by the Egyptian
form of spelling in some of the words. The Beza manuscript at Cambridge,
and the Clermont manuscript at Paris, which have Greek on one side of
the page and Latin on the other, were written in Alexandria. The Latin
is that more ancient version which was in use before the time of Jerome,
and which he corrected, to form what is now called the Latin Vulgate.
This old version was made by changing each Greek word into its
corresponding Latin word, with very little regard to the different
characters of the two languages. It was no doubt made by an Alexandrian
Greek, who had a very slight knowledge of Latin.

Already the papyrus on which books were written was, for the most part,
a manufactured article and might claim the name of paper. In the time of
Pliny in the first century the sheets had been made in the old way; the
slips of the plant laid one across the other had been held together by
their own sticky sap without the help of glue. In the reign of Aurelian,
in the third century, if not earlier, glue had been largely used in the
manufacture; and it is probable that at this time, in the fifth century,
the manufactured article almost deserved the name of paper. But this
manufactured papyrus was much weaker and less lasting than that made
after the old and more simple fashion. No books written upon it remain
to us. At a later period, the stronger fibre of flax was used in the
manufacture, but the date of this improvement is also unknown, because
at first the paper so made, like that made from the papyrus fibre, was
also too weak to last. It was doubtless an Alexandrian improvement.
Flax was an Egyptian plant; paper-making was an Egyptian trade; and
Theophilus, a Roman writer on manufactures, when speaking of paper made
from flax, clearly points to its Alexandrian origin, by giving it the
name of Greek parchment. Between the papyrus of the third century, and
the strong paper of the eleventh century, no books remain to us but
those written on parchment.

The monks of Mount Sinai suffered much during these reigns of weakness
from the marauding attacks of the Arabs. These men had no strong
monastery; but hundreds of them lived apart in single cells in the
side of the mountains round the valley of Feiran, at the foot of Mount
Serbal, and they had nothing to protect them but their poverty.
They were not protected by Egypt, and they made treaties with the
neighbouring Arabs, like an independent republic, of which the town of
Feiran was the capital. The Arabs, from the Jordan to the Red Sea,
made robbery the employment of their lives, and they added much to the
voluntary sufferings of the monks.

[Illustration: 267.jpg THE PAPYRUS PLANT]

Nilus, a monk who had left his family in Egypt, to spend his life in
prayer and study on the spot where Moses was appointed the legislator
of Israel, describes these attacks upon his brethren, and he boasts over
the Israelites that, notwithstanding their sufferings, the monks spent
their whole lives cheerfully in those very deserts which God's chosen
people could not even pass through without murmuring. Nilus has left
some letters and exhortations. It was then, probably, that the numerous
inscriptions were made on the rocks at the foot of Mount Serbal, and on
the path towards its sacred peak, which have given to one spot the name
of Mokatteb, or the valley of writing. A few of these inscriptions are
in the Greek language.

The Egyptian physicians had of old always formed a part of the
priesthood, and they seem to have done much the same after the spread
of Christianity. We find some monks named _Parabalani_, who owned
the Bishop of Alexandria as their head, and who united the offices of
physician and nurse in waiting on the sick and dying. As they professed
poverty they were maintained by the state and had other privileges; and
hence it was a place much sought after, and even by the wealthy. But to
lessen this abuse it was ordered by an imperial rescript that none but
poor people who had been rate-payers should be _Parabalani_; and their
number was limited, first to five hundred, but afterwards, at the
request of the bishop, to six hundred. A second charitable institution
in Alexandria had the care of strangers and the poor, and was also
managed by one of the priests.

Alexandria was fast sinking in wealth and population, and several new
laws were now made to lessen its difficulties. One was to add a hundred
and ten bushels of grain to the daily alimony of the city, the supply on
which the riotous citizens were fed in idleness. By a second and a third
law the five chief men in the corporation, and every man that had filled
a civic office for thirty years, were freed from all bodily punishment,
and only to be fined when convicted of a crime. Theodosius built a
large church in Alexandria, which was called after his name; and the
provincial judges were told in a letter to the prefect that, if they
wished to earn the emperor's praise, they must not only restore those
buildings which were falling through age and neglect but must also build
new ones.

Though the pagan philosophy had been much discouraged at Alexandria by
the destruction of the temples and the cessation of the sacrifices, yet
the philosophers were still allowed to teach in the schools. Syrianus
was at the head of the Platonists, and he wrote largely on the Orphic,
Pythagorean, and Platonic doctrines. In his Commentary on Aristotle's
Metaphysics he aims at showing how a Pythagorean or a Platonist would
successfully answer Aristotle's objections. He seems to look upon the
writings of Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus as the true fountains of
Platonic wisdom, quite as much as the works of the great philosopher
who gave his name to the sect. Syrianus afterwards removed to Athens, to
take charge of the Platonic school in that city, and Athens became the
chief seat of Alexandrian Platonism.

Olympiodorus was at the same time undertaking the task of forming a
Peripatetic school in Alexandria, in opposition to the new Platonism,
and he has left some of the fruits of his labour in his Commentaries on
Aristotle. But the Peripatetic philosophy was no longer attractive to
the pagans, though after the fall of the catechetical school it had
a strong following of Christian disciples. Olympiodorus also wrote
a history, but it has long since been lost, with other works of a
second-rate merit. He was a native of the Thebaid, and travelled over
his country. He described the Great Oasis as still a highly cultivated
spot, where the husbandman watered his fields every third day in summer,
and every fifth day in winter, from wells of two and three hundred feet
in depth, and thereby raised two crops of barley, and often three of
millet, in a year. Olympiodorus also travelled beyond Syênê into Nubia,
with some danger from the Blemmyes, but he was not able to see the
emerald mines, which were worked on Mount Smaragdus in the Arabian
desert between Koptos and Berenice, and which seem to have been the
chief object of his journey.

Proclus came to Alexandria about the end of this reign, and studied
many years under Olympiodorus, but not to the neglect of the platonic
philosophy, of which he afterwards became such a distinguished ornament
and support. The other Alexandrians under whom Proclus studied were
Hero, the mathematician, a devout and religious pagan, Leonas, the
rhetorician, who introduced him to all the chief men of learning, and
Orion, the grammarian, who boasted of his descent from the race of
Theban priests. Thus the pagans still held up their heads in the
schools. Nor were the ceremonies of their religion, though unlawful,
wholly stopped. In the twenty-eighth year of this reign, when the people
were assembled in a theatre at Alexandria to celebrate the midnight
festival of the Nile, a sacrifice which had been forbidden by
Constantine and the council of Nicsea, the building fell beneath the
weight of the crowd, and upwards of five hundred persons were killed by
the fall.

[Illustration: 271.jpg ARABS RESTING IN THE DESERT]

It will be of some interest to review here the machinery of officers and
deputies, civil as well as military, by which Egypt was governed under
the successors of Constantine. The whole of the Eastern empire was
placed under two prefects, the pretorian prefect of the East and the
pretorian prefect of Illyricum, who, living at Constantinople, like
modern secretaries of state, made edicts for the government of the
provinces and heard the appeals. Under the prefect of the East were
fifteen consular provinces, together with Egypt, which was not any
longer under one prefect. There was no consular governor in Egypt
between the prefect at Constantinople and the six prefects of the
smaller provinces. These provinces were Upper Libya or Cyrene, Lower
Libya or the Oasis, the Thebaid, Ægyptiaca or the western part of the
Delta, Augustanica or the eastern part of the Delta, and the Heptanomis,
now named Arcadia, after the late emperor. Each of these was under
an Augustal prefect, attended by a _Princeps, a Cornicula-rius,
an Adjutor_, and others, and was assisted in civil matters by a
_Commentariensis_, a corresponding secretary, a secretary _ab actis_,
with a crowd of _numerarii_ or clerks.

The military government was under a count with two dukes, with a number
of legions, cohorts, troops, and wedges of cavalry, stationed in about
fifty cities, which, if they had looked as well in the field as they do
upon paper, would have made Theodosius II. as powerful as Augustus. But
the number of Greek and Roman troops was small. The rest were barbarians
who held their own lives at small price, and the lives of the unhappy
Egyptians at still less. The Greeks were only a part of the fifth
Macedonian legion, and Trajan's second legion, which were stationed at
Memphis, at Parembole, and at Apollinopolis; while from the names of
the other cohorts we learn that they were Franks, Portuguese, Germans,
Quadri, Spaniards, Britons, Moors, Vandals, Gauls, Sarmati, Assyrians,
Galatians, Africans, Numid-ians, and others of less known and more
remote places. Egypt itself furnished the Egyptian legion, part of which
was in Mesopotamia, Diocletian's third legion of Thebans, the first
Maximinian legion of Thebans which was stationed in Thrace, Constantine's
second Flavian legion of Thebans, Valens' second Felix legion of
Thebans, and the Julian Alexandrian legion, stationed in Thrace. Beside
these, there were several bodies of native militia, from Abydos, Syênê,
and other cities, which were not formed into legions. The Egyptian
cavalry were a first and second Egyptian troop, several bodies of native
archers mounted, three troops on dromedaries, and a body of Diocletian's
third legion promoted to the cavalry. These Egyptian troops were chiefly
Arab settlers in the Thebaid, for the Kopts had long since lost the use
of arms. The Kopts were weak enough to be trampled on; but the Arabs
were worth bribing by admission into the legions. The taxes of the
province were collected by a number of counts of the sacred largesses,
who wrere under the orders of an officer of the same title at
Constantinople, and were helped by a body of counts of the exports and
imports, prefects of the treasury and of the mints, with an army
of clerks of all titles and all ranks. From this government the
Alexandrians were exempt, living under their own military prefect and
corporation, and, instead of paying any taxes beyond the custom-house
duties at the port, they received a bounty in grain out of the taxes of

Soon after this we find the political division of Egypt slightly
altered. It is then divided into eight governments; the Upper Thebaid
with eleven cities under a duke; the Lower Thebaid with ten cities,
including the Great Oasis and part of the Heptanomis, under a general;
Upper Libya or Cyrene under a general; Lower Libya or Parastonium under
a general; Arcadia, or the remainder of the Heptanomis, under a general;
Ægyptiaca, or the western half of the Delta, under an Augustalian
prefect; the first Augustan government, or the rest of the Delta, under
a _Corrector_; and the second Augustan government, from Bubastis to the
Red Sea, under a general. We also meet with several military stations
named after the late emperors: a Maximianopolis and a Dioclesianopolis
in the Upper Thebaid; a Theodosianopolis in the Lower Thebaid, and a
second Theodosianopolis in Arcadia. But it is not easy to determine what
villages were meant by these high-sounding names, which were perhaps
only used in official documents.

The empire of the East was gradually sinking in power during this long
and quiet reign of Theodosius II.; but the empire of the West was being
hurried to its fall by the revolt of the barbarians in every one of its
widespread provinces. Henceforth in the weakness of the two countries
Egypt and Rome are wholly separated. After having influenced one another
in politics, in literature, and in religion for seven centuries, they
were now as little known to one another as they were before the day when
Fabius arrived at Alexandria on an embassy from the senate to Ptolemy

Theological and political quarrels, under the name of the Homoousian
and Arian controversy, had nearly separated Egypt from the rest of the
empire during the reigns of Constantius and Valens, but they had been
healed by the wisdom of the first Theodosius, who governed Egypt by
means of a popular bishop; and the policy which he so wisely began
was continued by his successors through weakness. But in the reign of
Marcian (450--457) the old quarrel again broke out, and, though it was
under a new name, it again took the form of a religious controversy.
Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, died in the last reign; and as he had
succeeded his uncle, so on his death the bishopric fell to Dioscorus,
a relation of his own, a man of equal religious violence and of less
learning, who differed from him only in the points of doctrine about
which he should quarrel with his fellow-Christians. About the same
time Eutyches, a priest of Constantinople, had been condemned by his
superiors and expelled from the Church for denying the two natures of
Christ, and for maintaining that he was truly God, and in no respect
a man. This was the opinion of the Egyptian church, and therefore
Dioscorus, the Bishop of Alexandria, who had no right whatever to meddle
in the quarrels at Constantinople, yet, acting on the forgotten rule
that each bishop's power extended over all Christendom, undertook of
his own authority to absolve Eutyches from his excommunication, and in
return to excommunicate the Bishop of Constantinople who had condemned
him. To settle this quarrel, a general council was summoned at
Chalcedon; and there six hundred and thirty-two bishops met and
condemned the faith of Eutyches, and further explained the Nicene creed,
to which Eutyches and the Egyptians always appealed. They excommunicated
Eutyches and his patron Dioscorus, who were banished by the emperor; and
they elected Proterius to the then vacant bishopric of Alexandria.

In thus condemning the faith of Eutyches, the Greeks were
excommunicating the whole of Egypt. The Egyptian belief in the one
nature of Christ, which soon afterwards took the name of the Jacobite
faith from one of its popular supporters, might perhaps be distinguished
by the microscopic eye of the controversialist from the faith of
Eutyches; but they equally fell under the condemnation of the council of
Chalcedon. Egypt was no longer divided in its religious opinions. There
had been a party who, though Egyptian in blood, held the Arian and
half-Arian opinions of the Greeks, but that party had ceased to exist.
Their religion had pulled one way and their political feelings another;
the latter were found the stronger, as being more closely rooted to the
soil; and their religious opinions had by this time fitted themselves
to the geographical boundaries of the country. Hence the decrees of
the council of Chalcedon were rejected by the whole of Egypt; and the
quarrel between the Chalcedonian and Jacobite party, like the former
quarrel between the Athanasians and the Arians, was little more than
another name for the unwillingness of the Egyptians to be governed by

Proterius, the new bishop, entered Alexandria supported by the prefect
Floras at the head of the troops.

But this was the signal for a revolt of the Egyptians, who overpowered
the cohort with darts and stones; and the magistrates were driven to
save their lives in the celebrated temple of Serapis. But they found no
safety there; the mob surrounded the building and set fire to it, and
burned alive the Greek magistrates and friends of the new bishop; and
the city remained in the power of the rebellious Egyptians. When the
news of this rising reached Constantinople the emperor sent to Egypt a
further force of two thousand men, who stormed Alexandria and sacked it
like a conquered city, and established Proterius in the bishopric. As a
punishment upon the city for its rebellion, the prefect stopped for some
time the public games and the allowance of grain to the citizens, and
only restored them after the return to peace and good order.

In the weak state of the empire, the Blemmyes, and Nubades, or Nobatæ,
had latterly been renewing their inroads upon Upper Egypt; they
had overpowered the Romans, as the Greek and barbarian troops of
Constantinople were always called, and had carried off a large booty
and a number of prisoners. Maximinus, the imperial general, then led his
forces against them; he defeated them, and made them beg for peace.
The barbarians then proposed, as the terms of their surrender, never to
enter Egypt while Maximinus commanded the troops in the Thebaid; but the
conqueror was not contented with such an unsatisfactory submission,
and would make no treaty with them till they had released the Roman
prisoners without ransom, paid for the booty that they had taken, and
given a number of the nobles as hostages. On this Maximums agreed to a
truce of a hundred years.

The people now called the Nubians, living on both sides of the cataract
of Syênê, declared themselves of the true Egyptian race by their
religious practices. They had an old custom of going each year to the
temple of Isis on the isle of Elephantine, and of carrying away one
of the statues with them and returning it to the temple when they had
consulted it. But as they were now being driven out of the province,
they bargained with Maximums for permission to visit the temple each
year without hindrance from the Roman guards. The treaty was written on
papyrus and nailed up in this temple. But friendship in the desert, says
the proverb, is as weak and wavering as the shade of the acacia tree;
this truce was no sooner agreed upon than Maximinus fell ill and died;
and the Nubades at once broke the treaty, regained by force their
hostages, who had not yet been carried out of the Thebaid, and overran
the province as they had done before their defeat.

[Illustration: 279.jpg ISIS AS THE DOG-STAR]

By this success of the Nubians, Christianity was largely driven out of
Upper Egypt; and about seventy years after the law of Thedosius L, by
which paganism was supposed to be crushed, the religion of Isis and
Serapis was again openly professed in the Thebaid, where it had perhaps
always been cultivated in secret. A certain master of the robes in one
of the Egyptian temple came at this time to the temple of Isis in the
island of Philæ, and his votive inscription there declares that he was
the son of Pachomius, a prophet, and successor by direct descent from a
yet more famous Pachomius, a prophet, who we may easily believe was the
Christian prophet who gathered together so many followers in the island
of Tabenna, near Thebes, and there founded an order of Christian monks.
These Christians now all returned to their paganism. Nearly all the
remains of Christian architecture which we meet with in the The-baid
were built during the hundred and sixty years between the defeat of the
Nubians by Diocletian, and their victories in the reign of Marcian.

The Nubians were far more civilised than their neighbours, the Blemmyes,
whom they were usually able to drive back into their native deserts. We
find an inscription in bad Greek, in the great temple at Talmis, now
the village of Kalabshe, which was probably written about this time.
A conqueror of the name of Silco there declares that he is king of the
Nubians and all the Ethiopians; that in the upper part of his kingdom he
is called Mars, and in the lower part Lion; that he is as great as any
king of his day; that he has defeated the Blemmyes in battle again and
again; and that he has made himself master of the country between
Talmis and Primis. While such were the neighbours and inhabitants of
the Thebaid, the fields were only half-tilled, and the desert was
encroaching on the paths of man. The sand was filling up the temples,
covering the overthrown statues, and blocking up the doors to the tombs;
but it was at the same time saving, to be dug out in after ages, those
records which the living no longer valued.

On the death of the Emperor Marcian, the Alexandrians, taking advantage
of the absence of the military prefect Dionysius, who was then fighting
against the Nubades in Upper Egypt, renewed their attack upon the Bishop
Proterius, and deposed him from his office. To fill his place they made
choice of a monk named Timotheus Ælurus, who held the Jacobite faith,
and, having among them two deposed bishops, they got them to ordain him
Bishop of Alexandria, and then led him by force of arms into the great
church which had formerly been called Caesar's temple. Upon hearing
of the rebellion, the prefect returned in haste to Alexandria; but
his approach was only the signal for greater violence, and the enraged
people murdered Proterius in the baptistery, and hung up his body at the
Tetrapylon in mockery. This was not a rebellion of the mob. Timotheus
was supported by the men of chief rank in the city; the _Honorati_ who
had borne state offices, the _Politici_ who had borne civic offices,
and the _Navicularii_, or contractors for the freight of the Egyptian
tribute, were all opposed to the emperor's claim to appoint the officer
whose duties were much more those of prefect of the city than patriarch
of Egypt. With such an opposition as this, the emperor would do nothing
without the greatest caution, for he was in danger of losing Egypt
altogether. But so much were the minds of all men then engrossed in
ecclesiastical matters that this political struggle wholly took the form
of a dispute in controversial divinity, and the emperor wrote a
letter to the chief bishops in Christendom to ask their advice in
his difficulty. These theologians were too busily engaged in their
controversies to take any notice of the danger of Egypt's revolting from
the empire and joining the Persians; so they strongly advised Leo not to
depart from the decrees of the council of Chalcedon, or to acknowledge
as Bishop of Alexandria a man who denied the two natures of Christ.
Accordingly, the emperor again risked breaking the slender ties by
which he held Egypt; he banished the popular bishop, and forced the
Alexandrians to receive in his place one who held the Chalcedonian

On the death of Leo, he was succeeded by his grandson, Leo the Younger,
who died in 473, after a reign of one year, and was succeeded by his
father Zeno, the son-in-law of the elder Leo. Zeno gave himself up at
once to debauchery and vice, while the empire was harassed on all sides
by the barbarians, and the provinces were roused into rebellion by the
cruelty of the prefects. The rebels at last found a head in Basilicus,
the brother-in-law of Leo. He declared himself of the Jacobite faith,
which was the faith of the barbarian enemies, of the barbarian troops,
and of the barbarian allies of the empire, and, proclaiming himself
emperor, made himself master of Constantinople without a battle, and
drove Zeno into banishment in the third year of his reign.

The first step of Basilicus was to recall from banishment Timotheus
Ælurus, the late Bishop of Alexandria, and to restore him to the
bishopric (A.D. 477). He then addressed to him and the other recalled
bishops a circular letter, in which he repeals the decrees of the
council of Chalcedon, and re-establishes the Nicene creed, declaring
that Jesus was of one substance with the Father, and that Mary was the
mother of God. The march of Timotheus to the seat of his own government,
from Constantinople whither he had been summoned, was more like that
of a conqueror than of a preacher of peace. He deposed some bishops and
restored others, and, as the decrees of the council of Chalcedon were
the particular objects of his hatred, he restored to the city of Ephesus
the patriarchal power which that synod had taken away from it. Basilicus
reigned for about two years, when he was defeated and put to death by
Zeno, who regained the throne.

As soon as Zeno was again master of the empire, he re-established the
creed of the council of Chalcedon, and drove away the Jacobite bishops
from their bishoprics. Death, however, removed Timotheus Ælurus before
the emperor's orders were put in force in Alexandria, and the Egyptians
then chose Peter Mongus as his successor, in direct opposition to the
orders from Constantinople. But the emperor was resolved not to be
beaten; the bishopric of Alexandria was so much a civil office that to
have given up the appointment to the Egyptians would have been to allow
the people to govern themselves; so he banished Peter, and recalled to
the head of the Church Timotheus Salophaciolus, who had been living at
Canopus ever since his loss of the bishopric.

But, as the patriarch of Alexandria enjoyed the ecclesiastical revenues,
and was still in appearance a teacher of religion, the Alexandrians,
in recollection of the former rights of the Church, still claimed the
appointment. They sent John, a priest of their own faith and dean of the
church of John the Baptist, as their ambassador to Constantinople, not
to remonstrate against the late acts of the emperor, but to beg that on
future occasions the Alexandrians might be allowed the old privilege of
choosing their own bishop. The Emperor Zeno seems to have seen through
the ambassador's earnestness, and he first bound him by an oath not to
accept the bishopric if he should even be himself chosen to it, and
he then sent him back with the promise that the Alexandrians should
be allowed to choose their own patriarch on the next vacancy. But
unfortunately John's ambition was too strong for his oath, and on the
death of Timotheus, which happened soon afterwards, he spent a large
sum of money in bribes among the clergy and chief men of the city, and
thereby got himself chosen patriarch. On this, the emperor seems to have
thought only of punishing John, and he at once gave up the struggle with
the Egyptians. Believing that, of the two patriarchs who had been chosen
by the people, Peter Mongus, who was living in banishment, would be
found more dutiful than John, who was on the episcopal throne, he
banished John and recalled Peter; and the latter agreed to the terms of
an imperial edict which Zeno then put forth, to heal the disputes in
the Egyptian church, and to recall the province to obedience. This
celebrated peace-making edict, usually called the Henoticon, is
addressed to the clergy and laity of Alexandria, Egypt, Libya, and the
Pentapolis, and is an agreement between the emperor and the bishops who
countersigned it, that neither party should ever mention the decrees of
the council of Chalcedon, which were the great stumbling-block with the


But in all other points the Henoticon is little short of a surrender to
the people of the right to choose their own creed; it styles Mary the
mother of God, and allows that the decrees of the council of Nicæa and
Constantinople contain all that is important of the true faith. John,
when banished by Zeno, like many of the former deposed bishops, fled to
Rome for comfort and for help. There he met with the usual support; and
Felix, Bishop of Rome, wrote to Constantinople, remonstrating with Zeno
for dismissing the patriarch. But this was only a small part of the
emperor's want of success in his attempt at peace-making; for the crafty
Peter, who had gained the bishopric by subscribing to the peace-making
edict, was no sooner safely seated on his episcopal throne than he
denounced the council of Chalcedon and its decrees as heretical, and
drove out of their monasteries all those who still adhered to that
faith. Nephalius, one of these monks, wrote to the emperor at
Constantinople in complaint, and Zeno sent Cosmas to the bishop to
threaten him with his imperial displeasure, and to try to re-establish
peace in the Church. But the arguments of Cosmas were wholly
unsuccessful; and Zeno then sent an increase of force to Arsenius, the
military prefect, who settled the quarrel for the time by sending back
the most rebellious of the Alexandrians as prisoners to Constantinople.

Soon after this dispute Peter Mongus died, and fortunately he was
succeeded in the bishopric by a peacemaker. Athanasius, the new bishop,
very unlike his great predecessor of the same name, did his best to heal
the angry disputes in the Church, and to reconcile the Egyptians to the
imperial government.

Hierocles, the Alexandrian, was at this time teaching philosophy in his
native city, where his zeal and eloquence in favour of Platonism drew
upon him the anger of the Christians and the notice of the government.

He was sent to Constantinople to be punished for not believing in
Christianity, for it does not appear that, like the former Hierocles,
he ever wrote against it. There he bore a public scourging from his
Christian torturers, with a courage equal to that formerly shown by
their forefathers when tortured by his. When some of the blood from
his shoulders flew into his hand, he held it out in scorn to the judge,
saying with Ulysses, "Cyclops, since human flesh has been thy food, now
taste this wine." After his punishment he was banished, but was soon
allowed to return to Alexandria, and there he again taught openly as
before. Paganism never wears so fair a dress as in the writings of
Hierocles; his commentary on the Golden Verses of the Pythagoreans is
full of the loftiest and purest morality, and not less agreeable are the
fragments that remain of his writings on our duties, and his beautiful
chapter on the pleasures of a married life. In the Facetiæ of Hierocles
we have one of the earliest jest-books that has been saved from the
wreck of time. It is a curious proof of the fallen state of learning;
the Sophists had long since made themselves ridiculous; books alone will
not make a man of sense; and in the jokes of Hierocles the blunderer is
always called a man of learning.

Ætius, the Alexandrian physician, has left a large work containing
a full account of the state of Egyptian medicine at this time. He
describes the diseases and their remedies, quoting the recipes of
numerous authors, from the King Nechepsus, Galen, Hippocrates, and
Hioscorides, down to Archbishop Cyril. He is not wholly free from
superstition, as when making use of a green jasper set in a ring; but he
observes that the patients recovered as soon when the stone was plain
as when a dragon was engraved upon it according to the recommendation of
Nechepsus. In Nile water he finds every virtue, and does not forget dark
paint for the ladies' eyebrows, and Cleopatra-wash for the face.

Anastasius, the next emperor, succeeding in 491, followed the wise
policy which Zeno had entered upon in the latter years of his reign,
and he strictly adhered to the terms of the peace-making edict. The
four patriarchs of Alexandria who were chosen during this reign, John,
a second John, Dioscorus, and Timotheus, were all of the Jacobite faith;
and the Egyptians readily believed that the emperor was of the same
opinion. When called upon by the quarrelling theologians, he would
neither reject nor receive the decrees of the council of Chalcedon, and
by this wise conduct he governed Egypt without any religious rebellion
during a long reign.

The election of Dioscorus, however, the third patriarch of this
reign, was not brought about peaceably. He was the cousin of a former
patriarch, Timotheus Ælurus, which, if we view the bishopric as a civil
office, might be a reason for the emperor's wishing him to have the
appointment. But it was no good reason with the Alexandrians, who
declared that he had not been chosen according to the canons of the
apostles; and the magistrates of the city were forced to employ the
troops to lead him in safety to his throne. After the first ceremony, he
went, as was usual at an installation, to St. Mark's Church, and
there the clergy robed him in the patriarchal state robes. The grand
procession then moved through the streets to the church of St. John,
where the new bishop went through the communion service. But the city
was much disturbed during the whole day, and in the riot Theodosius, the
son of Calliopus, a man of Augustalian rank, was killed by the mob. The
Alexandrians treated the affair as murder, and punished with death those
who were thought guilty; but the emperor looked upon it as a rebellion
of the citizens, and the bishop was obliged to go on an embassy to
Constantinople to appease his just anger.

Anastasius, who had deserved the obedience of the Egyptians by his
moderation, pardoned their ingratitude when they offended; but he was
the last Byzantine emperor who governed Egypt with wisdom, and the last
who failed to enforce the decrees of the council of Chalcedon. It may
well be doubted whether any wise conduct on the part of the rulers
could have healed the quarrel between the two countries, and made the
Egyptians forget the wrongs that they had suffered from the Greeks.

In the tenth year of the reign of Anastasius, A.D. 501, the Persians,
after overrunning a large part of Syria and defeating the Roman
generals, passed Pelusium and entered Egypt. The army of Kobades
laid waste the whole of the Delta up to the very walls of Alexandria.
Eustatius, the military prefect, led out his forces against the invaders
and fought many battles with doubtful success; but as the capital was
safe the Persians were at last obliged to retire, leaving the people
ruined as much by the loss of a harvest as by the sword. Alexandria
suffered severely from famine and the diseases which followed in
its train; and history has gratefully recorded the name of Urbib, a
Christian Jew of great wealth, who relieved the starving poor of that
city with his bounty. Three hundred persons were crushed to death in the
church of Arcadius on Easter Sunday in the press of the crowd to receive
his alms. As war brought on disease and famine, they also brought on
rebellion. The people of Alexandria, in want of grain and oil, rose
against the magistrates, and many lives were lost in the attempt to
quell the riots.

In the early part of this history we have seen ambitious bishops quickly
disposed of by banishment to the Great Oasis; and again, as the country
became more desolate, criminals were sufficiently separated from the
rest of the empire by being sent to Thebes. Alexandria was then the last
place in the world in which a pretender to the throne would be allowed
to live. But Egypt was now ruined; and Anastasius began his reign by
banishing, to the fallen Alexandria, Longinus, the brother of the late
king, and he had him ordained a presbyter, to mark him as unfit for the

Julianus, who was during a part of this reign the prefect of Egypt, was
also a poet, and he has left us a number of short epigrams that
form part of the volume of Greek Anthology which was published at
Constantinople soon after this time. Christodorus of Thebes was another
poet who joined with Julianus in praising the Emperor Anastasius. He
also removed to Constantinople, the seat of patronage; and the fifth
book of the Greek Anthology contains his epigrams on the winners in the
horse-race in that city and on the statues which stood around the public


The poet's song, like the traveller's tale, often related the wonders
of the river Nile. The overflowing waters first manured the fields, and
then watered the crops, and lastly carried the grain to market; and one
writer in the Anthology, to describe the country life in Egypt, tells
the story of a sailor, who, to avoid the dangers of the ocean, turned
husbandman, and was then shipwrecked in his own meadows.

The book-writers at this time sometimes illuminated their more valuable
parchments with gold and silver letters and sometimes employed painters
to ornament them with small paintings. The beautiful copy of the work
of Dioscorides on Plants in the library at Vienna was made in this reign
for the Princess Juliana of Constantinople. In one painting the figure
of science or invention is holding up a plant, while on one side of her
is the painter drawing it on his canvas, and on the other side is the
author describing it in his book. Other paintings are of the plants and
animals mentioned in the book. A copy of the Book of Genesis, also in
the library at Vienna, is of the same class and date. A large part of it
is written in gold and silver; and it has eighty-eight small paintings
of various historical subjects. In these the story is well told, though
the drawing and perspective are bad and the figures crowded. But
these Alexandrian paintings are better than those made in Rome or
Constantinople at this time.

With the spread of Christianity theatrical representations had been
gradually going out of use. The Greek tragedies, as we see in the works
of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, those models of pure taste in
poetry, are founded on the pagan mythology; and in many of them the gods
are made to walk and talk upon the stage. Hence they of necessity fell
under the ban of the clergy. As the Christians became more powerful the
several cities of the empire had one by one discontinued these
popular spectacles, and horse-races usually took their place. But the
Alexandrians were the last people to give up a favourite amusement;
and by the end of this reign Alexandria was the only city in the empire
where tragic and comic actors and Eastern dancers were to be seen in the

The tower or lighthouse on the island of Pharos, the work of days more
prosperous than these, had latterly been sadly neglected with the other
buildings of the country. For more than seven hundred years, the
pilot on approaching this flat shore after dark had pointed out to his
shipmate what seemed a star on the horizon, and comforted him with the
promise of a safe entrance into the haven, and told him of Alexander's
tower. But the waves breaking against its foot had long since carried
away the outworks, and laid bare the foundations; the wall was
undermined and its fall seemed close at hand. The care of Anastasius,
however, surrounded it again with piles and buttresses; and this
monument of wisdom and science, which deserved to last for ever, was
for a little while longer saved from ruin. An epigram in the Anthology
informs us that Ammonius was the name of the builder who performed this
good work, and to him and to Neptune the grateful sailors then raised
their hands in prayer and praise.

In 518 Justin I. succeeded Anastasius on the throne of Constantinople,
and in the task of defending the empire against the Persians. And this
task became every year more difficult, as the Greek population of his
Egyptian and Asiatic provinces fell off in numbers. For some years after
the division of the empire under the sons of Constantine, Antioch in
Syria had been the capital from which Alexandria received the emperor's
commands. The two cities became very closely united; and now that the
Greeks were deserting Antioch, a part of the Syrian church began to
adopt the more superstitious creed of Egypt. Severus, Bishop of Antioch,
was successful in persuading a large party in the Syrian church to deny
the humanity of Christ, and to style Mary the mother of God. But the
chief power in Antioch rested with the opposite party. They answered
his arguments by threats of violence, and he had to leave the city for
safety. He fled to Alexandria, and with him began the friendship between
the two churches which lasted for several centuries. In Alexandria he
was received with the honour due to his religious zeal. But though
in Antioch his opinions had been too Egyptian for the Syrians, in
Alexandria they were too Syrian for the Egyptians. The Egyptians, who
said that Jesus had been crucified and died only in appearance, always
denied that his body was liable to corruption. Severus, however, argued
that it was liable to corruption before the resurrection; and this led
him into a new controversy, in which Timotheus, the Alexandrian bishop,
took part against his own more superstitious flock, and sided with
his friend, the Bishop of Antioch. Severus has left us, in the Syriac
language, the baptismal service as performed in Egypt. The priest
breathes three times into the basin to make the water holy, he makes
three crosses on the child's forehead, he adjures the demons of
wickedness to quit him, he again makes three crosses on his forehead
with oil, he again blows three times into the water in the form of a
cross, he anoints his whole body with oil, and then plunges him in the
water. Many other natives of Syria soon followed Severus to Alexandria;
so many indeed that as Greek literature decayed in that city, Syriac
literature rose. Many Syrians also came to study the religious life in
the monasteries of Egypt, and after some time the books in the library
of the monastery at Mount Nit-ria were found to be half Arabic and half

Justin, the new emperor, again lighted up in Alexandria the flames
of discord which had been allowed to slumber since the publication of
Zeno's peace-making edict. But in the choice of the bishop he was not
able to command without a struggle. In the second year of his reign, on
the death of Timotheus, the two parties again found themselves nearly
equal in strength; and Alexandria was for several years kept almost in a
state of civil war between those who thought that the body of Jesus had
been liable to corruption, and those who thought it incorruptible. The
former chose Gaianas, whom his adversaries called a Manichean; and the
latter Theodosius, a Jacobite, who had the support of the prefect; and
each of these in his turn was able to drive his rival out of Alexandria.

Those Persian forces which in the last reign overran the Delta were
chiefly Arabs from the opposite coast of the Red Sea. To make an end of
these attacks, and to engage their attention in another quarter, was the
natural wish of the statesmen of Constantinople; and for this purpose
Anastasius had sent an embassy to the Homeritæ on the southern coast
of Arabia, to persuade them to attack their northern neighbours. The
Homeritæ held the strip of coast now called Hadramout. They were
enriched, though hardly civilised, by being the channel along which
much of the Eastern trade passed from India to the Nile, to avoid the
difficult navigation of the ocean. They were Jewish Arabs, who had
little in common with the Arabs of Yemen, but had frequent intercourse
with Abyssinia and the merchants of the Red Sea. Part of the trade of
Solomon and the Tyrians was probably to their coast. To this distant and
little tribe the Emperor of Constantinople now sent a second pressing
embassy. Julianus, the ambassador, went up the Nile from Alexandria,
and then crossed the Red Sea, or Indian Sea as it was also called, to
Arabia. He was favourably received by the Homeritæ. Arethas, the king,
gave him an audience in grand barbaric state. He was standing in a
chariot drawn by four elephants; he wore no clothing but a cloth of gold
around his loins; his arms were laden with costly armlets and bracelets;
he held a shield and two spears in his hands, and his nobles stood
around him armed, and singing to his honour. When the ambassador
delivered the emperor's letter, Arethas kissed the seal, and then kissed
Julianus himself. He accepted the gifts which Justin had sent, and
promised to move his forces northward against the Persians as requested,
and also to keep the route open for the trade to Alexandria.

Justinian, the successor of Justin in 527, settled the quarrel between
the two Alexandrian bishops by summoning them both to Constantinople,
and then sending them into banishment. But this had no effect in healing
the divisions in the Egyptian church; and for the next half-century the
two parties ranged themselves, in their theological or rather political
quarrel, under the names of their former bishops, and called themselves
Gaianites and Theodosians. Nor did the measures of Justinian tend to
lessen the breach between Egypt and Constantinople. He appointed Paul to
the bishopric, and required the Egyptians to receive the decrees of the
council of Chalcedon.

After two years Paul was displaced either by the emperor or by his
flock; and Zoilus was then seated on the episcopal throne by the help
of the imperial forces. He maintained his dangerous post for about six
years, when the Alexandrians rose in open rebellion, overpowered the
troops, and forced him to seek safety in flight; and the Jacobite party
then turned out all the bishops who held the Greek faith.

When Justinian heard that the Jacobites were masters of Egypt he
appointed Apollinarius to the joint office of prefect and patriarch of
Alexandria, and sent him with a large force to take possession of his
bishopric. Apollinarius marched into Alexandria in full military dress
at the head of his troops; but when he entered the church he laid aside
his arms, and putting on the patriarchal robes began to celebrate the
rites of his religion. The Alexandrians were by no means overawed by the
force with which he had entered the city; they pelted him with a shower
of stones from every corner of the church, and he was forced to withdraw
from the building in order to save his life. But three days afterwards
the bells were rung through the city, and the people were summoned to
meet in the church on the following Sunday, to hear the emperor's letter
read. When Sunday came the whole city flocked to hear and to disobey
Justinian's orders. Apollinarius began his address by threatening his
hearers that, if they continued obstinate in their opinions, their
children should be made orphans and their widows given up to the
soldiery; and he was as before stopped with a shower of stones. But this
time he was prepared for the attack; this Christian bishop had placed
his troops in ambush round the church, and on a signal given they
rushed out on his unarmed flock, and by his orders the crowds within and
without the church were put to rout by the sword, the soldiers waded
up to their knees in blood, and the city and whole country yielded its
obedience for the time to bishops who held the Greek faith.

Henceforth the Melchite or royalist patriarchs, who were appointed by
the emperor and had the authority of civil prefects, and were supported
by the power of the military prefect, are scarcely mentioned by the
historian of the Koptic church. They were too much engaged in civil
affairs to act the part of ministers of religion. They collected their
revenues principally in grain, and carried on a large export trade,
transporting their stores to those parts of Europe where they would
bring the best price. On one occasion we hear of a small fleet belonging
to the church of Alexandria, consisting of thirteen ships of about
thirty tons burden each, and bearing ten thousand bushels of grain,
being overtaken by a storm on the coast of Italy. The princely income
of the later patriarchs, raised from the churches of all Egypt under the
name of the offerings of the pious, sometimes amounted to two thousand
pounds of gold, or four hundred thousand dollars. But while these
Melchite or royalist bishops were enjoying the ecclesiastical revenues,
and administering the civil affairs of the diocese and of the great
monasteries, there was a second bishop who held the Jacobite faith, and
who, having been elected by the people according to the ancient forms of
the Church, equally bore the title of patriarch, and administered in
his more humble path to the spiritual wants of his flock. The Jacobite
bishop was always a monk. At his ordination he was declared to be
elected by the popular voice, by the bishops, priests, deacons, monks,
and all the people of Lower Egypt; and prayers were offered up through
the intercession of the Mother of God, and of the glorious Apostle
Mark. The two churches no longer used the same prayer-book. The Melchite
church continued to use the old liturgy, which, as it had been read in
Alexandria from time immemorial, was called the liturgy of St. Mark,
altered however to declare that the Son was of the same substance with
the Father. But the Koptic church made use of the newer liturgies
by their own champions, Bishop Cyril, Basil of Cæsaræ, and Gregory
Nazianzen. These three liturgies were all in the Koptic language, and
more clearly denied the two natures of Christ. Of the two churches the
Koptic had less learning, more bigotry, and opinions more removed from
the teachings of the New Testament; but then the Koptic bishop alone
had any moral power to lead the minds of his flock towards piety and
religion. Had the emperors been at all times either humane or politic
enough to employ bishops of the same religion as the people, they would
perhaps have kept the good-will of their subjects; but as it was, the
Koptic church, smarting under its insults, and forgetting the greater
evils of a foreign conquest, would sometimes look with longing eyes to
the condition of their neighbours, their brethren in faith, the Arabic
subjects of Persia.

The Christianity of the Egyptians was mostly superstition; and as it
spread over the land it embraced the whole nation within its pale, not
so much by purifying the pagan opinions as by lowering itself to their
level, and fitting itself to their corporeal notions of the Creator.
This was in a large measure induced by the custom of using the old
temples for Christian churches; the form of worship was in part guided
by the form of the building, and even the old traditions were engrafted
on the new religion. Thus the traveller Antonius, after visiting the
remarkable places in the Holy Land, came to Egypt to search for the
chariots of the Egyptians who pursued Moses, petrified into rocks at the
bottom of the Red Sea, and for the footsteps left in the sands by the
infant Jesus while he dwelt in Egypt with his parents. At Memphis he
enquired why one of the doors in the great temple of Phtah, then used
as a church, was always closed, and he was told that it had been rudely
shut against the infant Jesus five hundred years before, and mortal
strength had never since been able to open it.

The records of the empire declared that the first Cæsars had kept six
hundred and forty-five thousand men under arms to guard Italy, Africa,
Spain, and Egypt, a number perhaps much larger than the truth; but
Justinian could with difficulty maintain one hundred and fifty thousand
ill-disciplined troops, a force far from large enough to hold even those
provinces that remained to him. During the latter half of his reign
the eastern frontier of this falling empire was sorely harassed by the
Persians under their king Chosroes. They overran Syria, defeated the
army of the empire in a pitched battle, and then took Antioch. By these
defeats the military roads were stopped; Egypt was cut off from the rest
of the empire and could be reached from the capital only by sea. Hence
the emperor was driven to a change in his religious policy. He gave over
the persecution of the Jacobite opinions, and even went so far in one
of his decrees as to call the body of Jesus incorruptible, as he thought
that these were the only means of keeping the allegiance of his subjects
or the friendship of his Arab neighbours, all of whom, as far as they
were Christians, held the Jacobite view of the Nicene creed, and denied
the two natures of Christ.

As the forces of Constantinople were driven back by the victorious
armies of the Persians, the emperors had lost, among other fortresses,
the capital of Arabia Nabataæ, that curious rocky fastness that well
deserved the name of Petra, and which had been garrisoned by Romans
from the reign of Trajan till that of Valens. On this loss it became
necessary to fortify a new frontier post on the Egyptian side of the
Elanitic Gulf. Justinian then built the fortified monastery near Mount
Sinai, to guard the only pass by which Egypt could be entered without
the help of a fleet; and when it was found to be commanded by one of the
higher points of the mountain he beheaded the engineer who built it, and
remedied the fault, as far as it could be done, by a small fortress
on the higher ground. This monastery was held by the Egyptians, and
maintained out of the Egyptian taxes. When the Egyptians were formerly
masters of their own country, before the Persian and Greek conquests,
they were governed by a race of priests, and the temples were their only

[Illustration: 302.jpg FORTRESS NEAR MOUNT SINAI]

The temples of Thebes were the citadels of the capital, and the temples
of Elephantine guarded the frontier. So now, when the military prefect
is too weak to make himself obeyed, the emperor tries to govern through
means of the Christian priesthood; and when it is necessary for the
Egyptians to defend their own frontier, he builds a monastery and
garrisons it with monks.

Part of the Egyptian trade to the East was carried on through the
islands of Ceylon and Socotra; but it was chiefly in the hands of
uneducated Arabs of Ethiopia, who were little able to communicate to
the world much knowledge of the countries from which they brought their
highly valued goods. At Ceylon they met with traders from beyond the
Ganges and from China, of whom they bought the silk which Europeans had
formerly thought a product of Arabia. At Ceylon was a Christian church,
with a priest and a deacon, frequented by the Christians from Persia,
while the natives of the place were pagans. The coins there used were
Roman, borne thither by the course of trade, which during so many
centuries carried the gold and silver eastward. The trade was lately
turned more strongly into this channel because a war had sprung up
between the two tribes of Jewish Arabs, the Hexumitæ of Abyssinia
on the coast of the Red Sea near Adule, and the Homeritæ who dwelt in
Arabia on the opposite coast, at the southern end of the Red Sea. The
Homeritæ had quarrelled with the Alexandrian merchants in the Indian
trade, and had killed some of them as they were passing their mountains
from India to the country of the Hexumitae.

Immediately after these murders the Hexumitæ found the trade injured,
and they took up arms to keep the passage open for the merchants. Hadad
their king crossed the Red Sea and conquered his enemies; he put to
death Damianus, the King of the Homeritse, and made a new treaty
with the Emperor of Constantinople. The Hexumitæ promised to become
Christians. They sent to Alexandria to beg for a priest to baptise them,
and to ordain their preachers; and Justinian sent John, a man of piety
and high character, the dean of the church of St. John, who returned
with the ambassadors and became bishop of the Hexumitae.

It was possibly this conquest of the Homeritae by Hadad, King of the
Hexumitae, which was recorded on the monument of Adule, at the foot of
the inscription set up eight centuries earlier by Ptolemy Euergetes. The
monument is a throne of white marble. The conqueror, whose name had
been broken away before the inscription was copied, there boasts that
he crossed over the Red Sea and made the Arabians and Sabaaans pay him
tribute. On his own continent he defeated the tribes to the north of
him, and opened the passage from his own country to Egypt; he also
marched eastward, and conquered the tribes on the African incense coast;
and lastly, he crossed the Astaborus to the snowy mountains in which
that branch of the Nile rises, and conquered the tribes between that
stream and the Astapus. This valuable inscription, which tells us of
snowy mountains within the tropics, was copied by Cosmas, a merchant of
Alexandria, who passed through Adule on his way to India.

Former emperors, Anastasius and Justin, had sent several embassies to
these nations at the southern end of the Red Sea; to the Homeritae,
to persuade them to attack the Persian forces in Arabia, and to the
Hexumitae, for the encouragement of trade. Justinian also sent an
embassy to the Homeritae under Abram; and, as he was successful in his
object, he entrusted a second embassy to Abram's son. Nonnosus landed
at Adule on the Abyssinian coast, and then travelled inward for fifteen
days to Auxum, the capital. This country was then called Ethiopia; it
had gained the name which before belonged to the valley of the Nile
between Egypt and Meroë. On his way to Auxum, he saw troops of wild
elephants, to the number, as he supposed, of five thousand. After
delivering his message to Elesbaas, then King of Auxum, he crossed the
Red Sea to Caisus, King of the Homeritæ, a grandson of that Arethas
to whom Justin had sent his embassy. Notwithstanding the natural
difficulties of the journey, and those arising from the tribes through
which he had to pass, Nonnosus performed his task successfully, and on
his return home wrote a history of his embassies.

The advantage gained to the Hexumitæ by their invasion of the Homeritæ
was soon lost, probably as soon as their forces were withdrawn. The
trade through the country of the Homeritae was again stopped; and such
was the difficulty of navigation from the incense coast of Africa to the
mouths of the Indus, that the loss was severely felt at Auxum. Elesbæs
therefore undertook to repeat the punishment which had been before
inflicted on his less civilised neighbours, and again to open the trade
to the merchants from the Nile. It was while he was preparing his forces
for this invasion that Cosmas, the Alexandrian traveller, passed through
Adule; and he copied for the King of Auxum the inscription above spoken
of, which recorded the victories of his predecessor over the enemies he
was himself preparing to attack.

The invasion by Elesbæs, or Elesthæus as he is also named, was
immediately successful. The Homeritæ were conquered, their ruler was
overthrown; and, to secure their future obedience, the conqueror
set over these Jewish Arabs an Abyssinian Christian for their king.
Esimaphæus was chosen for that post; and his first duty was to convert
his new subjects to Christianity. Political reasons as well as religious
zeal would urge him to this undertaking, to make the conquered bear the
badge of the conqueror. For this purpose he engaged the assistance of
Gregentius, a bishop, who was to employ his learning and eloquence in
the cause. Accordingly, in the palace of Threlletum, in the presence of
their new king, a public dispute was held between the Christian bishop
and Herban, a learned Jew. Gregentius has left us an account of the
controversy, in which he was wholly successful, being helped, perhaps,
by the threats and promises of the king. The arguments used were not
quite the same as they would be now. The bishop explained the Trinity as
the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Mind or Father, and resting on
the Word or Son, which was then the orthodox view of this mysterious
doctrine. On the other hand, the Jew quoted the Old Testament to show
that the Lord their God was one Lord. It is related that suddenly the
Jews present were struck blind. Their sight, however, was restored to
them on the bishop's praying for them; and they were then all thereby
converted and baptised on the spot. The king stood godfather to Herban,
and rewarded him with a high office under his government.

[Illustration: 307.jpg PYRAMID OF MEDUM]

Esimaphasus did not long remain King of the Homeritæ. A rebellion
soon broke out against him, and he was deposed. Elesbaas, King of Auxum,
again sent an army to recall the Homeritæ to their obedience, but this
time the army joined in the revolt; and Elesbæ then made peace with
the enemy, in hopes of thus gaining the advantages which he was unable
to grasp by force of arms. From a Greek inscription on a monument at
Auxum we learn the name of Æizanas, another king of that country, who
also called himself, either truly or boastfully, king of the opposite
coast. He set up the monument to record his victories over the Bougoto,
a people who dwelt between Auxum and Egypt, and he styles himself the
invincible Mars, king of kings, King of the Hexumito, of the Ethiopians,
of the Saboans, and of the Homerito. These kings of the Hexumito
ornamented the city of Auxum with several beautiful and lofty obelisks,
each made of a single block of granite like those in Egypt.

Egypt in its mismanaged state seemed to be of little value to the empire
save as a means of enriching the prefect and the tax-gatherers; it
yielded very little tribute to Constantinople beyond the supply of
grain, and that by no means regularly. To remedy these abuses Justinian
made a new law for the government of the province, with a view of
bringing about a thorough reform. By this edict the districts of
Menelaites and Mareotis, to the west of Alexandria, were separated from
the rest of Egypt, and they were given to the prefect of Libya, whose
seat of government was at Parotonium, because his province was too poor
to pay the troops required to guard it. The several governments of Upper
Egypt, of Lower Egypt, of Alexandria, and of the troops were then given
to one prefect. The two cohorts, the Augustalian and the Ducal, into
which the two Boman legions had gradually dwindled, were henceforth to
be united under the name of the Augustalian Cohort, which was to contain
six hundred men, who were to secure the obedience and put down any
rebellion of the Egyptian and barbarian soldiers. The somewhat high
pay and privileges of this favoured troop were to be increased; and, to
secure its loyalty and to keep out Egyptians, nobody was to be admitted
into it till his fitness had been inquired into by the emperor's
examiners. The first duty of the cohort was to collect the supply of
grain for Constantinople and to see it put on board the ships; and as
for the supply which was promised to the Alexandrians, the magistrates
were to collect it at their own risk, and by means of their own cohort.
The grain for Constantinople was required to be in that city before the
end of August, or within four months after the harvest, and the supply
for Alexandria not more than a month later. The prefect was made
answerable for the full collection, and whatever was wanting of that
quantity was to be levied on his property and his heirs, at the rate
of one solidus for three artabo of grain, or about three dollars for
fifteen bushels; while in order to help the collection, the export of
grain from Egypt was forbidden from every port but Alexandria, except in
small quantities. The grain required for Alexandria and Constantinople,
to be distributed as a free gift among the idle citizens, was eight
hundred thousand artabo, or four millions of bushels, and the cost
of collecting it was fixed at eighty thousand solidi, or about three
hundred thousand dollars. The prefect was ordered to assist the
collectors at the head of his cohort, and if he gave credit for the
taxes which he was to collect he was to bear the loss himself. If the
archbishop interfered, to give credit and screen an unhappy Egyptian,
then he was to bear the loss, and if his property was not enough the
property of the Church was to make it good; but if any other bishop gave
credit, not only was his property to bear the loss, but he was himself
to be deposed from his bishopric; and lastly, if any riot or rebellion
should arise to cause the loss of the Egyptian tribute, the tribunes
of the Augustalian Cohort were to be punished with forfeiture of all
property, and the cohort was to be removed to a station beyond the

Such was the new law which Justinian, the great Roman lawgiver, proposed
for the future government of Egypt. The Egyptians were treated as
slaves, whose duty was to raise grain for the use of their masters at
Constantinople, and their taskmasters at Alexandria. They did not even
receive from the government the usual benefit of protection from their
enemies, and they felt bound to the emperor by no tie either of love
or interest. The imperial orders wrere very little obeyed beyond those
places where the troops were encamped; the Arabs were each year pressing
closer upon the valley of the Nile, and helping the sands of the desert
to defeat the labours of the disheartened husbandmen; and the Greek
language, which had hitherto followed and marked the route of commerce
from Alexandria to Syênê, and to the island of Socotra, was now but
seldom heard in Upper Egypt. The Alexandrians were sorely harassed by
Haephasstus, a lawyer, who had risen by court favour to the chief post
in the city. He made monopolies in his own favour of all the necessaries
of life, and secured his ill-gotten gains by ready loans of part of
it to Justinian. His zeal for the emperor was at the cost of the
Alexandrians, and to save the public granaries he lessened the supply
of grain which the citizens looked for as a right. The city was sinking
fast; and the citizens could ill bear this loss, for its population,
though lessened, was still too large for the fallen state of Egypt.

The grain of the merchants was shipped from Alexandria to the chief
ports of Europe, between Constantinople in the east and Cornwall in the
west. Britain had been left by the Romans, as too remote for them to
hold in their weakened condition; and the native Britons were then
struggling against their Saxon invaders, as in a distant corner of the
world, beyond the knowledge of the historian. But to that remote country
the Alexandrian merchants sailed every year with grain to purchase tin,
enlightening the natives, while they only meant to enrich themselves.
Under the most favourable circumstances they sometimes performed the
voyage in twenty days. The wheat was sold in Cornwall at the price of a
bushel for a piece of silver, perhaps worth about twenty cents, or for
the same weight of tin, as the tin and the silver were nearly of equal
worth. This was the longest of the ancient voyages, being longer than
that from the Red Sea to the island of Ceylon in the Indian Ocean; and
it had been regularly performed for at least eight centuries without
ever teaching the British to venture so far from their native shores.

The suffering and riotous citizens made Alexandria a very unpleasant
place of abode for the prefect and magistrates. They therefore built
palaces and baths for their own use, at the public cost, at Taposiris,
about a day's journey to the west of the city, at a spot yet marked
by the remains of thirty-six marble columns, and a lofty tower, once
perhaps a lighthouse. At the same time it became necessary to fortify
the public granaries against the rebellious mob. The grain was brought
from the Nile by barges on a canal to the village of Chaereum, and
thence to a part of Alexandria named Phialæ, or _The Basins_, where the
public granaries stood. In all riots and rebellions this place had been
a natural point of attack; and often had the starving mob broken
open these buildings, and seized the grain that was on its way to
Constantinople. But Justinian surrounded them with a strong wall
against such attacks for the future, and at the same time he rebuilt the
aqueduct that had been destroyed in one of the sieges of the city.

In civil suits at law an appeal had always been allowed from the prefect
of the province to the emperor, or rather to the prefect of the East
at Constantinople; but as this was of course expensive, it was found
necessary to forbid it when the sum of money in dispute was small.
Justinian forbade all Egyptian appeals for sums less than ten pounds
weight of gold, or about two thousand five hundred dollars; for smaller
sums the judgment of the prefect was to be final, lest the expense
should swallow up the amount in dispute.

In this reign the Alexandrians, for the first time within the records
of history, felt the shock of an earthquake. Their naturalists had very
fairly supposed that the loose alluvial nature of the soil of the Delta
was the reason why earthquakes were unknown in Lower Egypt, and believed
that it would always save them from a misfortune which often overthrew
cities in other countries. Pliny thought that Egypt had been always free
from earthquakes. But this shock was felt by everybody in the city;
and Agathias, the Byzantine historian, who, after reading law in the
university of Beirut, was finishing his studies at Alexandria, says that
it was strong enough to make the inhabitants all run into the street for
fear the houses should fall upon them.

The reign of Justinian is remarkable for another blow then given to
paganism throughout the empire, or at least through those parts of the
empire where the emperor's laws were obeyed.


Under Justinian the pagan schools were again and from that time forward
closed. Isidorus the platonist and Salustius the Cynic were among the
learned men of greatest note who then withdrew from Alexandria. Isidorus
had been chosen by Marinus as his successor in the platonic chair at
Athens, to fill the high post of the platonic successor; but he had left
the Athenian school to Zenodotus, a pupil of Proclus, and had removed
to Alexandria. Salustius the Cynic was a Syrian, who had removed with
Isidorus from Athens to Alexandria. He was virtuous in his morals though
jocular in his manners, and as ready in his witty attacks upon the
speculative opinions of his brother philosophers as upon the vices of
the Alexandrians. These learned men, with Damascius and others from
Athens, were kindly received by the Persians, who soon afterwards, when
they made a treaty of peace with Justinian, generously bargained that
these men, the last teachers of paganism, should be allowed to return
home, and pass the rest of their days in quiet.

After the flight of the pagan philosophers, but little learning was left
in Alexandria. One of the most remarkable men in this age of ignorance
was Cosmas, an Alexandrian merchant, who wished that the world should
not only be enriched but enlightened by his travels. After making many
voyages through Ethiopia to India for the sake of gain, he gave up trade
and became a monk and an author. When he writes as a traveller about the
Christian churches of India and Ceylon, and the inscriptions which he
copied at Adule in Abyssinia, everything that he tells us is valuable;
but when he reasons as a monk, the case is sadly changed. He is of the
dogmatical school which forbids all inquiry as heretical. He fights
the battle which has been so often fought before and since, and is even
still fought so resolutely, the battle of religious ignorance against
scientific knowledge. He sets the words of the Bible against the results
of science; he denies that the world is a sphere, and quotes the Old
Testament against the pagan astronomers, to show that it is a plane,
covered by the firmament as by a roof, above which he places the kingdom
of heaven. His work is named _Christian Topography_, and he is himself
usually called Cosmas Indicopleustes, from the country which he visited.

During the latter years of the government of Apollinarius, such was
his unpopularity as a spiritual bishop that both the rival parties, the
Gaianites and the Theodosians, had been building places of worship for
themselves, and the more zealous Jacobites had quietly left the churches
to Apollinarius and the Royalists. But on the death of an archdeacon
they again came to blows with the bishop; and a monk had his beard torn
off his chin by the Gaianites in the streets of Alexandria. The emperor
was obliged to interfere, and he sent the Abbot Photinus to Egypt to put
down this rebellion, and heal the quarrel in the Church. Apollinarius
died soon afterwards, and Justinian then appointed John to the joint
office of prefect of the city and patriarch of the Church. The new
archbishop was accused of being a Manichean; but this seems to mean
nothing but that he was too much of the Egyptian party, and that,
though he was the imperial patriarch, and not acknowledged by the Koptic
church, yet his opinions were disliked by the Greeks. On his death,
which happened in about three years, they chose Peter, who held the
Jacobite or Egyptian opinions, and whose name is not mentioned in the
Greek lists of the patriarchs. Peter's death occurred in the same year
as that of the emperor.

Under Justinian we again find some small traces of a national coinage in
Egypt. Ever since the reign of Diocletian, the old Egyptian coinage had
been stopped, and the Alexandrians had used money of the same weight,
and with the same Latin inscriptions, as the rest of the empire. But
under Justinian, though the inscriptions on the coins are still Latin,
they have the name of the city in Greek letters. Like the coins of
Constantinople, they have a cross, the emblem of Christianity; but while
the other coins of the empire have the Greek numeral letters, E, I, K,
A, or M, to denote the value, meaning 5, 10, 20, 30, or 40, the coins
of Alexandria have the letters 1 B for 12, showing that they were on a
different system of weights from those of Constantinople. On these the
head of the emperor is in profile. But later in his reign the style was
changed, the coins were made larger, and the head of the emperor had a
front face. On these larger coins the numeral letters are [A r] for 33.
We thus learn that the Alexandrians at this time paid and received
money rather by weight than by tale, and avoided all depreciation of the
currency. As the early coins marked 12 had become lighter by wear, those
which were meant to be of about three times their value were marked 33.

During the period from 566 to 602 Justin II. reigned twelve years,
Tiberius reigned four years, and Mauricius, his son-in-law, twenty; and
under these sovereigns the empire gained a little rest from its enemies
by a rebellion among the Persians, which at last overthrew their king
Chosroes. He fled to Mauricius for help, and was by him restored to his
throne, after which the two kingdoms remained at peace to the end of his

[Illustration: 316.jpg COINS OF JUSTINIAN]

The Emperor Mauricius was murdered by Phocas, who, in 602, succeeded
him on the throne of Constantinople. No sooner did the news of his death
reach Persia than Chosroes, the son of Hormuz, who had married Maria,
the daughter of Mauricius, declared the treaty with the Romans at an
end, and moved his forces against the new emperor, the murderer of his
father-in-law. During the whole of his reign Constantinople was kept in
a state of alarm and almost of siege by the Persians; and the crimes and
misfortunes of Phocas alike prepared his subjects for a revolt. In the
seventh year Alexandria rebelled in favour of the young Heraclius, son
of the late prefect of Cyrene; and the patriarch of Egypt was slain
in the struggle. Soon afterwards Heraclius entered the port of
Constantinople with his fleet, and Phocas was put to death after an
unfortunate reign of eight years, in which he had lost every province of
the empire.

During the first three years of the reign of Heraclius, Theodoras was
Bishop of Alexandria; but upon his death the wishes of the Alexandrians
so strongly pointed to John, the son of the prefect of Cyprus, that
the emperor, yielding to their request, appointed him to the bishopric.
Alexandria was not a place in which a good man could enjoy the pleasures
of power without feeling the weight of its duties. It was then suffering
under all those evils which usually befall the capital of a sinking
state. It had lost much of its trade, and its poorer citizens no longer
received a free supply of grain. The unsettled state of the country
was starving the larger cities, and the population of Alexandria was
suffering from want of employment. The civil magistrates had removed
their palace to a distance. But the new bishop seemed formed for these
unfortunate times, and, though appointed by the emperor, he was in every
respect worthy of the free choice of the citizens. He was foremost in
every work of benevolence and charity. The five years of his government
were spent in lightening the sufferings of the people, and he gained the
truly Christian name of John the Almsgiver. Beside his private acts of
kindness he established throughout the city hospitals for the sick and
almshouses for the poor and for strangers, and as many as seven lying-in
hospitals for poor women. John was not less active in outrooting all
that he thought heresy.

The first years of the reign of Heraclius are chiefly marked by the
successes of the Persians. While Chosroes, their king, was himself
attacking Constantinople, one general was besieging Jerusalem and a
second overrunning Lower Egypt. Crowds fled before the invading army
to Alexandria as a place of safety, and the famine increased as the
province of the prefect grew narrower and the population more crowded.
To add to the distress the Nile rose to a less height than usual; the
seasons seemed to assist the enemy in the destruction of Egypt. The
patriarch John, who had been sending money, grain, and Egyptian workmen
to assist in the pious work of rebuilding the church of Jerusalem which
the Persians had destroyed, immediately found all his means needed, and
far from enough, for the poor of Alexandria. On his appointment to the
bishopric he found in its treasury eight thousand pounds of gold; he
had in the course of five years received ten thousand more from the
offerings of the pious, as his princely ecclesiastical revenue was
named; but this large sum of four million dollars had all been spent
in deeds of generosity or charity, and the bishop had no resource but
borrowing to relieve the misery with which he was surrounded. In the
fifth year the unbelievers were masters of Jerusalem, and in the eighth
they entered Alexandria, and soon held all the Delta; and in that
year the grain which had hitherto been given to the citizens of
Constantinople was sold to them at a small price, and before the end of
the year the supply from Egypt was wholly stopped.

When the Persians entered Egypt, the patrician Nicetas, having no
forces with which he could withstand their advance, and knowing that no
succour was to be looked for from Constantinople, and finding that the
Alexandrians were unwilling to support him, fled with the patriarch John
the Almsgiver to Cyprus, and left the province to the enemy. As John
denied that the Son of God had suffered on the cross, his opinions would
seem not to have been very unlike those of the Egyptians; but as he was
appointed to the bishopric by the emperor, though at the request of the
people, he is not counted among the patriarchs of the Koptic church;
and one of the first acts of the Persians was to appoint Benjamin, a
Jacobite priest, who already performed the spiritual office of Bishop of
Alexandria, to the public exercise of that duty, and to the enjoyment of
the civil dignity and revenues.

The troops with which Chosroes conquered and held Egypt were no doubt in
part Syrians and Arabs, people with whom the fellahs or labouring class
of Egyptians were closely allied in blood and feelings. Hence arose the
readiness with which the whole country yielded when the Roman forces
were defeated. But hence also arose the weakness of the Persians, and
their speedy loss of this conquest when the Arabs rebelled. Their rule,
however, in Egypt was not quite unmarked in the history of these dark

At this time Thomas, a Syrian bishop, came to Alexandria to correct the
Syriac version of the New Testament, which had been made about a century
before by Philoxenus. He compared the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles with
the Greek manuscripts in the monastery of St. Anthony in the capital;
and we still possess the fruits of his learned labour, in which he
altered the ancient text to make it agree with the newer Alexandrian
manuscripts. From his copy the Philoxenian version is now printed. A
Syriac manuscript of the New Testament written by Alexandrian penmen
in the sixth year of Heraclius, is now to be seen in the library of the
Augustan friars in Rome. At the same time another Syrian scholar, Paul
of Tela, in Mesopotamia, was busy in the Alexandrian monastery of
St. Zacchæus in translating the Old Testament into Syriac, from the
Septuagint Greek; and he closes his labours with begging the reader to
pray for the soul of his friend Thomas. Such was now the reputation of
the Alexandrian edition of the Bible, that these scholars preferred it
both to the original Hebrew of the Old and to the earlier manuscripts
of the New Testament. Among other works of this time were the medical
writings of Aaron the physician of Alexandria, formerly written in
Syriac, and afterwards much valued by the Arabs. The Syrian monks in
numbers settled in the monastery of Mount Nitria; and in that secluded
spot there remained a colony of these monks for several centuries,
kept up by the occasional arrival of newcomers from the churches on the
eastern side of the Euphrates.

For ten years the Egyptians were governed by the Persians, and had
a patriarch of their own religion and of their own choice; and the
building of the Persian palace in Alexandria proves how quietly they
lived under their new masters. But Heraclius was not idle under his
misfortunes. The Persians had been weakened by the great revolt of the
Arabs, who had formed their chief strength on the side of Constantinople
and Egypt; and Heraclius, leading his forces bravely against Chosroes,
drove him back from Syria and became in his turn the invader, and he
then recovered Egypt. The Jacobite patriarch Benjamin fled with the
Persians; and Heraclius appointed George to the bishopric, which was
declared to have been empty since John the Almsgiver fled to Cyprus.

The revolt of the Arabs, which overthrew the power of the Persians in
their western provinces and for a time restored Egypt to Constantinople,
was the foundation of the mighty empire of the caliphs; and the Hegira,
or flight of Muhammed, from which the Arabic historians count their
lunar years, took place in 622, the twelfth year of Heraclius. The
vigour of the Arab arms rapidly broke the Persian yoke, and the Moslems
then overran every province in the neighbourhood. This was soon felt
by the Romans, who found the Arabs, even in the third year of their
freedom, a more formidable enemy than the Persians whom they had
overthrown; and, after a short struggle of only two years, Heraclius
was forced to pay a tribute to the Moslems for their forbearance in
not conquering Egypt. For eight years he was willing to purchase an
inglorious peace by paying tribute to the caliph; but when his treasure
failed him and the payment was discontinued, the Arabs marched against
the nearest provinces of the empire, offering to the inhabitants their
choice of either paying tribute or receiving the Muhammedan religion;
and they then began on their western frontier that rapid career of
conquest which they had already begun on the eastern frontier against
their late masters, the Persians.

[Illustration: 322.jpg TAILPIECE]


_The Rise of Muhammedanism: The Arabic Conquest of Egypt: The Ommayad
and Abbasid Dynasties._

The course of history now follows the somewhat uneventful period
which introduced Arabian rule into the valley of the Nile. It is only
necessary to remind the reader of the striking incidents in the life of
Muhammed. He was born at Mecca, in Arabia, in July, 571, and spent his
earliest years in the desert. At the age of twelve he travelled with a
caravan to Syria, and probably on this occasion first came into contact
with the Jews and Christians. After a few youthful adventures, his
poetic and religious feelings were awakened by study. He gave himself
up to profound meditation upon both the Jewish and Christian ideals, and
subsequently beholding the archangel Gabriel in a vision, he proclaimed
himself as a prophet of God. After preaching his doctrine for three
years, and gaining a few converts (the first of whom was his wife,
Khadija), the people of Mecca rose against him and he was forced to
flee from the city in 614. New visions and subsequent conversions of
influential Arabs strengthened his cause, especially in Medina, whither
Muhammed was forced to flee a second time from Mecca in 622, this second
flight being known as the Hegira, from which dates the Muhammedan era.
In the next year, at Medina, he built his first mosque and married
Ayesha, and in 624 was compelled to defend his pretensions by an appeal
to arms. He was at first successful, and thereupon appointed Friday as
a day of public worship, and, being embittered against the Jews, ordered
that the attitude of prayer should no longer be towards Jerusalem, but
towards his birthplace, Mecca. In 625 the Muhammedans were defeated by
the Meccans, but one tribe after another submitted to him, and after a
series of victories Muhammed prepared, in 629, for further conquests
in Syria, but he died in 632 before they could be accomplished. His
successors were known as caliphs, but from the very first his disciples
quarrelled about the leadership, some affirming the rights of Ali,
who had married Muhammed's daughter, Fatima, and others supporting
the claims of Abu Bekr, his father-in-law. There was also a religious
quarrel concerning certain oral traditions relating to the Koran, or
the Muhammedan sacred scriptures. Those who accepted the tradition were
known as Sunnites, and those who rejected it as Shiites, the latter
being the supporters of Ali, both sects, however, being known as Moslems
or Islamites. Omar, a Sunnite, obtained the leadership in 634, and
proceeded to carry out the prophet's ambitious schemes of conquest.
He subdued successively Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia, and in 639
directed operations against Egypt. The general in charge of this
expedition was Amr, who led four thousand men against Pelusium, which
surrendered after a siege of thirty days. This easy victory was crowned
by the capture of Alexandria. Amr entered the city on December 22, 640,
and he seems to have been surprised at his own success. He immediately
wrote to the caliph a letter in which he says:

"I have conquered the town of the West, and I cannot recount all it
contains within its walls. It contains four thousand baths and twelve
thousand venders of green vegetables, four thousand Jews who pay
tribute, and four thousand musicians and mountebanks."

Amr was anxious to conciliate and gain the affection of the new subjects
he had added to the caliph's empire, and during his short stay in
Alexandria received them with kindness and personally heard and attended
to their demands. It is commonly believed that in this period the
Alexandrian Library was dismantled; but, as we have already seen, the
books had been destroyed by the zeal of contending Christians. The story
that attributes the destruction of this world-famous institution to
the Arabian conquerors is so much a part of history, and has been so
generally accepted as correct, that the traditional version should be
given here.

Among the inhabitants of Alexandria whom Amr had so well received, says
the monkish chronicler, was one John the Grammarian, a learned
Greek, disciple of the Jacobite sect, who had been imprisoned by its
persecutors. Since his disgrace, he had given himself up entirely to
study, and was one of the most assiduous readers in the famous library.
With the change of masters he believed the rich treasure would be
speedily dispersed, and he wished to obtain a portion of it himself. So,
profiting by the special kindness Amr had shown him, and the pleasure he
appeared to take in his conversation, he ventured to ask for the gift of
several of the philosophic books whose removal would put an end to his
learned researches.

At first Amr granted this request without hesitation, but in his
gratitude John the Grammarian expatiated so unwisely on the extreme
rarity of the manuscripts and their inestimable value, that Amr, on
reflection, feared he had overstepped his power in granting the learned
man's request. "I will refer the matter to the caliph," he said,
and thereupon wrote immediately to Omar and asked the caliph for
his commands concerning the disposition of the whole of the precious
contents of the library.

The caliph's answer came quickly. "If," he wrote, "the books contain
only what is in the book of God (the Koran), it is enough for us, and
these books are useless. If they contain anything contrary to the holy
book, they are pernicious. In any case, burn them."

[Illustration: 327.jpg COIN OF OMAR]

Amr wished to organise his new government, and, having left a sufficient
garrison in Alexandria, he gave orders to the rest of his army to leave
the camp in the town and to occupy the interior of Egypt. "Where shall
we pitch our new camp?" the soldiers asked each other, and the answer
came from all parts, "Round the general's tent." The army, in fact,
did camp on the banks of the Nile, in the vicinity of the modern Cairo,
where Amr had ordered his tent to be left; and round this tent, which
had become the centre of reunion, the soldiers built temporary huts
which were soon changed into solid, permanent habitations. Spacious
houses were built for the leaders, and palaces for the generals, and
this collection of buildings soon became an important military town,
with strongly marked Muhammedan characteristics. It was called Fostât
(tent) in memory of the event, otherwise unimportant, which was the
origin of its creation. Amr determined to make his new town the capital
of Egypt; whilst still preserving the name of Fostât, he added that of
Misr,--a title always borne by the capital of Egypt, and which Memphis
had hitherto preserved in spite of the rivalry of Alexandria.

Fostât was then surrounded by fortifications, and Amr took up his
residence there, forming various establishments and giving himself up
entirely to the organisation of the vast province whose government the
caliph had entrusted to him. The personal tax, which was the only one,
had been determined in a fixed manner by the treaty of submission he
had concluded with the Kopts; and an unimportant ground rent on landed
property was added in favour of the holy towns of Mecca and Medina, as
well as to defray some expenses of local administration.

[Illustration: 329.jpg OLD CAIRO (FOSTAT)]

Egypt was entirely divided into provincial districts, all of which
had their own governor and administrators taken from among the Kopts
themselves. The lands which had belonged to the imperial government of
Constantinople, and those of the Greeks who had abandoned Egypt or been
killed in the war against the Mussulmans, were either declared to be the
property of the new government or given out again as fiefs or rewards
to the chief officers of the army. All these lands were leased to the
Koptic farmers, and the respective rights of the new proprietors
or tenant farmers and of the peasant proprietors were determined by
decisive and invariable rules. Thus the agricultural population enjoyed
under the Mussulmans a security and ease which replaced the tyrannical
annoyances and arbitrary exactions of the Christian agents of the
treasury of Constantinople; for, in fact, little by little, there had
disappeared under these Greek agents the sound principles of the old
administration that had been established by the wise kings of ancient
Egypt, and which the Ptolemies had scrupulously preserved, as did also
the first governors under the Cæsars.

After all these improvements in the internal administration, the
governor turned his attention to the question of justice, which until
that moment had been subject to the decision of financial agents, or
of the soldiers of the Greek government. Amr now created permanent and
regular tribunals composed of honourable, independent, and enlightened
men, who enjoyed public respect and esteem. To Amr dates back the first
of those _divans_, chosen from the élite of the population, as sureties
of the fairness of the _cadis_, which received appeals from first
judgments to confirm them, or, in the case of wrongful decisions, to
alter them. The decrees of the Arab judges had force only for those
Mussulmans who formed a part of the occupying army. Whenever a Koptic
inhabitant was a party in an action, the Koptic authorities had the
right to intervene, and the parties were judged by their equals in race
and religion.

One striking act of justice succeeded in winning for Amr the hearts of
all. Despite the terror inspired by the religious persecutions which
Heraclius had carried on with so much energy, one man, the Koptic
patriarch Benjamin, had bravely kept his faith intact. He belonged
to the Jacobite sect and abandoned none of its dogmas, and in their
intolerance the all-powerful Melchites did not hesitate to choose him as
their chief victim. Benjamin was dispossessed of his patriarchal throne,
his liberty and life were threatened, and he only succeeded in saving
both by taking flight. He lived thus forgotten in the various refuges
that the desert monasteries afforded him, while Heraclius replaced him
by an ardent supporter of the opinions favoured at court. The whole of
Egypt was then divided into two churches separated from each other by an
implacable hatred. At the head of the Melchites was the new patriarch,
who was followed by a few priests and a small number of partisans who
were more attached to him by fear than by faith. The Jacobites, on the
other hand, comprised the immense majority of the population, who looked
upon the patriarch as an intruder chosen by the emperor. The church
still acknowledged as its real head Benjamin, the patriarch who had been
for thirteen years a wanderer, and whose return was ardently desired.
This wish found public expression as soon as the downfall of the
imperial power in Egypt permitted its free manifestation. Amr listened
to the supplications that were addressed to him, and, turning out the
usurper in his turn, recalled Benjamin from his long exile and replaced
him on the patriarchal throne.

But even here Amr's protection of the Koptic religion did not end.
He opened the door of his Mussulman town, and allowed them to live
in Fostât and to build churches there in the midst of the Mussulman
soldiers, even when Islamism was still without a temple in the city, or
a consecrated place worthy of the religion of the conquerors.

Amr at length resolved to build in his new capital a magnificent mosque
in imitation of the one at Mecca. Designs were speedily drawn up, the
location of the new temple being, according to Arab authors, that of an
ancient pyre consecrated by the Persians, and which had been in ruins
since the time of the Ptolemies.

[Illustration: 333.jpg A MODERN KOPT]

The monuments of Memphis had often been pillaged by Greek and Roman
emperors, and now they were once again despoiled to furnish the mosque
of Amr with the beautiful colonnades of marble and porphyry which adorn
the walls, and on which, the Arab historians assure us, the whole Koran
was written in letters of gold.

Omar died in 644, and under his successor, Othman, the Arabian conquests
were extended in Northern Africa. Othman dying in 656, the claims of Ali
were warmly supported, but not universally recognised, many looking to
Muawia as an acceptable candidate for the caliphate. This was especially
the view of the Syrian Muham-medans, and in 661 Muawia I. was elected
caliph. He promptly transferred the capital from Medina to Damascus, and
became in fact the founder of a dynasty known as the Ommayads, the new
caliph being a descendant of the famous Arabian chieftain Ommayad. Egypt
acknowledged the new authority and remained quiet and submissive. It
furnished Abd el-Malik, who became caliph in 685, not only with rich
subsidies and abundant provisions, but also with part of his troops.

The attachment of the Egyptians to their new masters was chiefly owing
to the gentleness and wisdom of Abd el-Aziz ibn Merwan, who administered
the country after Amr was put to death in 689. He visited all the
provinces of Egypt, and, arriving at Alexandria, he ordered the
building of a bridge over the canal, recognising the importance of this
communication between the town and country.

Benefiting by the religious liberty that Mussulman sovereignship had
secured them, the Kopts no longer attended to the quarrels of their
masters. They only occupied themselves in maintaining the quiet
peaceful-ness they had obtained by regular payment of their taxes, and
by supplying men and commodities when occasion demanded it. During the
reign of Abd el-Malik in Egypt the only remarkable event there was the
election, in 688, of the Jacobite Isaac as patriarch of Alexandria. The
Koptic clergy give him no other claim to historical remembrance than
the formulating of a decree ordaining "that the patriarch can only be
inaugurated on a Sunday."

[Illustration: 335.jpg MOSQUE OF AMR]

Isaac was succeeded by Simon the Syrian, whom the Koptic church looks
upon as a saint, and for whom is claimed the power of reviving the dead.
He nevertheless died from the effects of poison given him at the altar
by some jealous rival. Arab historians relate how deputies came to Simon
from India to ask for a bishop and some priests. The patriarch refused
to comply with this request, but Abd el-Aziz, thinking that this
relation with India might prove politically useful, gave the order to
other and more docile priests.

The patriarchal seat was empty for three years after the death of Simon.
The Kopts next appointed a patriarch named Alexander, who held the
office for a little over twenty years. The Koptic writers who recount
the history of this patriarch mention their discontent with the governor
Abd el-Aziz. The monks and other members of the clergy had grown very
numerous in Egypt and claimed to be exempt from taxation. Abd el-Aziz,
whose yearly tax was fixed, thought it unjust that the poorest classes
of the people should be made to pay while the priests, the bishop,
and the patriarch, all possessing abundance, should be privileged by
exemption. He therefore had a census made of all the monks and put
on them a tax of one dinar (about $2.53), while he exacted from the
patriarch an annual payment of three thousand dinars, or about $7,600.
This act of justice was the cause of many complaints among the clergy,
but they were soon suppressed and were without result.

[Illustration: 337a.jpg COIN OF ABU BEKR]

After more than twenty years of a prosperous government of Egypt, Abd
el-Aziz ibn Merwan died at Fostât in the year 708 (a.h. 86) at the very
time when, with many fresh plans for the future, he had completed the
building of a large and magnificent palace called ed-Dar el-mudahaba
(the golden house), and a quarter of the town called Suk el-hammam (the
pigeon market). The Caliph Abd el-Malik felt deeply the loss of this
brother, whose qualities he highly appreciated and whom he had appointed
as his successor.

He now named as his heir to the caliphate Walid, his eldest son, and
replaced Abd el-Aziz in the government of Egypt with his second son,
Abd Allah ibn Abd el-Malik. The Kopts hoped to obtain from the new
governor the repeal of the act that exacted yearly tribute from the
clergy, but Abd Allah did not think it fair to grant this unjust
discrimination against the poorer classes of the Egyptians. Those monks
who have written the history of the patriarchs have therefore painted
Abd Allah in even blacker colours than they did his predecessor. For
the rest, Abd Allah only held the reins of government in Egypt until the
death of his father, which occurred a few months later.

[Illustration: 337b.jpg COIN OF OTHMAN]

Suleiman succeeded his brother Walid I. The new caliph vigorously put
into execution all the plans his brother had formed for the propagation
of the religion of the Prophet. In the first year of his reign he
conquered Tabaristan and Georgia, and sent his brother Maslama to lay
fresh siege to Constantinople. On his accession to the throne Suleiman
placed the government of Egypt in the hands of Assama ibn Yazid, with
the title of agent-general of finances.

The Koptic clerical historians, according to their usual habit, portray
this governor as still worse than his predecessors, but in this case
the Mussulman authorities are in agreement in accusing him of the most
iniquitous extortions and most barbarous massacres. The gravest reproach
they bring against him is that, calling all the monks together, he told
them that not only did he intend to maintain the old regulations of Abd
el-Aziz, by which they had to pay an annual tax of one dinar ($2.53),
but also that they would be obliged to receive yearly from his agents an
iron ring bearing their name and the date of the financial transaction,
for which ring they were to make personal contribution. He forced
the wearing of this ring continually, and the hand found without this
strange form of receipt was to be cut off. Several monks who endeavoured
to evade this strict order were pitilessly mutilated, while a number of
them, rebelling against the payment of the tax, retired into convents,
thinking they could safely defraud the treasury. Assama, however, sent
his soldiers to search these retreats, and all the monks found without
rings were beheaded or put to death by the bastinado.

[Illustration: 338.jpg COIN OF MALIK]

Careful about all that related to the Egyptian revenues, Assama
commanded the keeping up of the various Nilometers, which still served
to regulate the assessment of the ground tax. In the year 718 he learned
that the Nilometer established at Helwan, a little below Fostât, had
fallen in, and hastened to report the fact to the caliph. By the orders
of this prince the ruined Nilometer was abandoned, and a new one built
at the meridional point of the island now called Rhodha, just between
Fostât and Gizeh.

[Illustration: 339.jpg CITADEL OF CAIRO (FOSTAT).]

But of all the financial transactions of Assama, the one that vexed most
the inhabitants of Egypt, and which brought down on him the most violent
and implacable hatred, was the ordinance by which all ascending or
descending the Nile were obliged to provide themselves with a passport
bearing a tax. This exorbitant claim was carried out with an abusive
and arbitrary sternness. A poor widow, the Oriental writers say, was
travelling up the Nile with her son, having with her a correct passport,
the payment of which had taken nearly all she possessed. The young man,
while stretched along the boat to drink of the river's water, was seized
by a crocodile and swallowed, together with the passport he carried
in his breast. The treasury officers insisted that the wretched widow
should take a fresh one; and to obtain payment for it she sold all she
had, even to the very clothes she wore. Such intolerable exactions
and excesses ended by thoroughly rousing the indignant Egyptians. The
malcontents assembled, and a general revolt would have been the result
but for the news of the death of the Caliph Suleiman (717), which gave
birth to the hope that justice might be obtained from his successor.

The next caliph was Omar II., a grandson of Merwan I., who had been
nominated as his successor by Suleiman. In his reign the Muhammedans
were repulsed from Constantinople, and the political movement began
which finally established the Abbasid dynasty at Baghdad. Omar dying
in the year 720, Yazid II., a son of Abd el-Malik, succeeded to the
caliphate, and reigned for four years, history being for the most part
silent as to the general condition of Egypt under these two caliphs.
It is recorded that in the year 720, one of Yazid's brothers, by name
Muhammed ibn Abd el-Malik, ruled over Egypt. The Kopts complained of his
rule, and declared that during the whole reign of Yazid ibn Abd el-Malik
the Christians were persecuted, crosses overthrown, and churches

[Illustration: 341.jpg A CROCODILE USED AS A TALISMAN]

Yazid was succeeded, in 724 A.D., by his brother Hisham, surnamed
Abu'l-Walid, the fourth son of Abd el-Malik to occupy the throne of
Islam, who, having been appointed by his brother as his successor, took
possession of the throne on the very day of his death. Muhammed was
replaced in Egypt by his cousin, Hassan ibn Yusuf, who only held office
for three years, resigning voluntarily in the year 730 a.d., or 108 of
the Hegira. The Caliph Hisham replaced him by Hafs ibn Walid, who was
deposed a year later, and in the year 109 of the Hegira the caliph
appointed in his place Abd el-Malik ibn Rifa, who had already governed
Egypt during the caliphate of Walid I. Hisham made many changes in
the governorship of Egypt, and amid a succession of rulers appointed
Handhala to the post. He had already been governor of Egypt under Yazid
II. He administered the province for another six years, and, according
to the Christian historians of the East, pursued the same course of
intolerance and tyranny that he had adopted when he governed Egypt for
the first time under Yazid.

The Caliph Hisham enjoined Handhala to be gentle with his subjects and
to treat the Christians with kindness, but far from conforming with
these wise and kindly intentions, he overwhelmed them with vexations and
tyrannous acts. He doubled the taxes by a general census, subjecting not
only men but also their animals to an impost. The receipts for the
new duty had to be stamped with the impression of a lion, and every
Christian found without one of these documents was deprived of one of
his hands.

In the year 746 (a.h. 124), on being informed of these abuses, the
caliph deprived him of the government of Egypt, and, giving him the
administration of Mauritania, appointed as his successor Hafs ibn Walid,
who, according to some accounts, had previously governed Egypt for
sixteen years, and who had left pleasanter recollections behind him.
Hafs, however, now only held office for a year.

Nothing of political importance happened in Egypt under the long reign
of Hisham, the only events noticed by the Christian historians being
those which relate solely to their ecclesiastical history. The 108th
year of the Hegira saw the death of Alexander, the forty-third Koptic
Patriarch of Alexandria. Since the conquest of Egypt by Omar, for a
period of about twenty-four years, the patriarchate had been in the
hands of the Jacobites; all the bishops in Egypt belonged to that sect,
and they had established Jacobite bishops even in Nubia, which they had
converted to their religion. The orthodox Christians elected Kosmas as
their patriarch. At that time the heretics had taken possession of all
the churches in Egypt, and the patriarch only retained that of Mar-Saba,
or the Holy Sabbath. Kosmas, by his solicitations, obtained from
Hisham an order to his financial administrator in Egypt, Abd Allah ibn
es-Sakari, to see that all the churches were returned to the sect to
which they belonged.

After occupying the patriarchal throne for only fifteen months,
Kosmas died. In the 109th year of the Hegira (a. d. 727-28) Kosmas was
succeeded by the patriarch Theodore. He occupied the seat for eleven
years. His patriarchate was a period of peace and quiet for the church
of Alexandria, and caused a temporary cessation of the quarrels between
the Melchites and the Jacobites. A vacancy of six years followed his
death until, in the year 127 of the Hegira (749 a. d.), Ibn Khalil was
promoted to the office of patriarch, and held his seat for twenty-three

Walid II. succeeded to the caliphate in the year 749. One of his first
acts was to take the government of Egypt from Hafs, in spite of the
kindness of his rule, the wisdom and moderation of which had gained
for him the affection of all the provinces which he governed. He was
replaced by Isa ibn Abi Atta, who soon created a universal discontent,
as his administrative measures were oppressive.

In the year 750 the Ommayads were supplanted by the Abbasids, who
transferred the capital from Damascus to Baghdad. The first Abbasid
caliph was Abu'l-Abbas, who claimed descent from Abbas, the uncle of
Muhammed. The caliph Merwan II., the last of the Ommayads, in his flight
from his enemies came to Egypt and sent troops from Fostât to hold
Alexandria. He was now pursued to his death by the Abbasid general Salih
ibn Ali, who took possession of Postât for the new dynasty in 750. The
change from the Ommayad to the Abbasid caliphs was effected with little
difficulty, and Egypt continued to be a province of the caliphate and
was ruled by governors who were mostly Arabs or members of the Abbasid

Abu'l-Abbas, after being inaugurated, began his rule by recalling all
the provincial governors, whom he replaced by his kinsmen and partisans.
He entrusted the government of Egypt to his paternal uncle, Salih ibn
Ali, who had obtained the province for him. Salih, however, did not rule
in person, but was represented by Abu Aun Abd el-Malik ibn Yazid, whom
he appointed vice-governor. The duties of patriarch of Alexandria were
then performed by Michel, commonly called Khail by the Kopts. This
patriarch was of the Jacobite sect and the forty-fifth successor of St.
Mark: he held the office about three years. He in turn was succeeded by
the patriarch Myna, a native of Semennud (the ancient Sebennytus).

In the year 754 Abu'l-Abbas died at the age of thirty-two, after
reigning four years, eight months, and twenty-six days, the Arabian
historians being always very precise in recording the duration of the
reign of the caliphs. He was the first of the caliphs to appoint a
vizier, the Ommayad caliphs employing only secretaries during their
administration. The successor of Abu'l-Abbas was his brother Abu
Jafar, surnamed El-Man-sur. Three years after his accession he took the
government of Egypt from his uncle, and in less than seven years Egypt
passed successively through the hands of six different governors. These
changes were instigated by the mistrustful disposition of the caliph,
who saw in every man a traitor and conspirator, dismissing on the
slightest provocation his most devoted adherents, some of whom were even
put to death by his orders. His last choice, Yazid ibn Hatim, governed
Egypt for eight years, and the caliph bestowed the title of Prince
of Egypt (Emir Misri) upon him, which title was also borne by his

These continual changes in the government of Egypt had not furthered
the prosperity and well-being of the inhabitants. Each ruler, certain
of speedy dismissal, busied himself with his personal affairs to the
detriment of the country, anxious only to amass by every possible
means sufficient money to compensate him for his inevitable deposition.
Moreover, each governor increased the taxation levied by his
predecessor. Such was the greed and rapacity of these governors that
every industry was continually subjected to increased taxation; the
working bricklayer, the vender of vegetables, the camel-driver, the
gravedigger, all callings, even that of mendicant, were taxed, and the
lower classes were reduced to eating dog's flesh and human remains. At
the moment when Egypt, unable to support such oppression longer, was on
the verge of insurrection, the welcome tidings of the death of El-Mansur

Muhammed el-Mahdi, son of El-Mansur, succeeded his father and was the
third caliph of the house of Abbas. He was at Baghdad when his father
expired near Mecca, but, despite his absence, was immediately proclaimed
caliph. El-Mahdi betrayed in his deeds that same fickleness which
had signalised the caliphate of his father, El-Mansur. He appointed
a different governor of Egypt nearly every year. These many changes
resulted probably from the political views held by the caliph, or
perhaps he already perceived the tendency shown by each of his provinces
to separate itself from the centre of Islamism. Perhaps also he already
foresaw those divisions which destroyed the empire about half a century
later. Thus his prudence sought, in allowing but a short period of power
to each governor, to prevent their strengthening themselves sufficiently
in their provinces to become independent.

Egypt remained calm and subdued under these constant changes of
government. Syria and the neighbouring provinces followed suit, and the
Caliph el-Mahdi profited by this peaceful state of things to attack the
Emperor of the Greeks. His second son, Harun, undertook the continuation
of this war, and the young prince displayed such talent and bravery
that he gained brilliant victories, and returned to Baghdad after having
captured several cities from the Greeks, overthrown their generals,
and forced Constantinople to pay an annual tribute of seventy thousand
dinars (about $180,000). The Caliph el-Mahdi rewarded Harun by solemnly
naming him the future successor of his eldest son, Musa el-Hadi, whom he
had just definitely declared his heir to the throne. Shortly after this
decision, el-Mahdi died, in the year 785, having reigned ten years and
two months.

Musa el-Hadi, his eldest son, succeeded him, being the fourth caliph
of the race of Abbasids. On ascending the throne, he withdrew the
government of Egypt from Fadl ibn Salih, appointing in his place Ali ibn
Suleiman, also a descendant of Abbas. El-Hadi plotted against the claims
of Harun to the succession, but he died before his plans had matured,
and Harun became caliph in the year 786.

The reign of Harun er-Rashid was the most brilliant epoch of the empire
of Islamism, and his glory penetrated from the far East to the western
countries of Europe, where his name is still celebrated.

[Illustration: 347.jpg DOOR OF AN ARABIAN HOUSE.]

Harun seems to have been as reluctant as his father and grandfather were
before him to leave a province too long in the hands of a governor, and
he even surpassed them in his precautionary measures. In the year 171
of the Hegira, he recalled Ali ibn Suleiman, and gave the government of
Egypt to Musa ibn Isa, a descendant of the Caliph Ali.

Thereafter the governors were changed on an average of once a year,
and their financial duties were separately administered. Musa ibn Isa,
however, held the appointment of Governor of Egypt on three separate
occasions, and of his third period Said ibn Batrik tells the following

"While Obaid Allah ibn el-Mahdi was ruling in Egypt," he relates, "he
sent a beautiful young Koptic slave to his brother, the caliph, as a
gift. The Egyptian odalisk so charmed the caliph that he fell violently
in love with her. Suddenly, however, the favourite was laid prostrate
by a malady which the court physicians could neither cure nor even
diagnose. The girl insisted that, being Egyptian, only an Egyptian
physician could cure her. The caliph instantly ordered his brother to
send post haste the most skilful doctor in Egypt. This proved to be the
Melchite patriarch, for in those days Koptic priests practised medicine
and cultivated other sciences. The patriarch set out for Baghdad,
restored the favourite to health, and in reward received from the
caliph an imperial diploma, which restored to the orthodox Christians
or Melchites all those privileges of which they had been deprived by the
Jacobite heretics since their union with the conqueror Amr ibn el-Asi."

If this story be true, one cannot but perceive the plot skilfully laid
and carried out by the powerful clergy, to whom any means, even the
sending of a concubine to the caliph, seemed legitimate to procure the
restoration of their supremacy and the humiliation of their adversaries.

[Illustration: 349.jpg A VEILED BEAUTY]

The year 204 of the Hegira was memorable for the death of the Iman
Muhammed ibn Idris, surnamed esh-Shafi. This celebrated doctor was the
founder of one of the four orthodox sects which recognised the Moslem
religion, and whose followers take the name "Shafites" from their chief.
The Iman esh-Shafi died at Fostât when but forty-three years old. His
dogmas are more especially followed in Egypt, where his sect is still
represented and presided over by one of the four Imans at the head of
the famous Mosque Jam el-Azar, or mosque of flowers.

The distance of Egypt from Baghdad, the caliph's capital, was the cause
of the neglect of many of his commands, and upon more than one occasion
was his authority slighted. Thus it happened that for more than five
years the government of Egypt was in the hands of Abd Allah ibn es-Sari,
whom the soldiers elected, but whose appointment was never confirmed by
the caliph. Abd Allah ibn Tahir, the son of the successful general, had,
in the year a.h. 210, settled at Belbeys in Egypt. With a large number
of partisans, he assumed almost regal privileges. In 211 a.h. he
proceeded to Fostât and there dismissed Abd Allah ibn es-Sari and
replaced him by Ayad ibn Ibrahim, whom he also dismissed the following
year, giving the governorship to Isa ibn Yazid, surnamed el-Jalud. In
the year 213, the Caliph el-Mamun ordered Abd Allah ibn Tahir to retire,
and confided the government of Egypt and also that of Syria to his own
brother el-Mutasim, third son of the Caliph Ilarun er-Rashid.

In the year 218 of the Hegira (a. d. 833), Muhammed el-Mutasim succeeded
his brother el-Mamun. He was the first caliph who brought the name of
God into his surname. On ascending the throne, he assumed the title
el-Mutasim b'lllah, that is "strengthened by God," and his example was
followed by all his successors.

From the commencement of this reign, el-Mutasim b'lllah was forced to
defend himself against insurgents and aspirants to the caliphate. In
the year 219 of the Hegira, Kindi, the Governor of Egypt, died, and the
caliph named his son, Mudhaffar ibn Kindi, as his successor. Mudhaffar
ibn Kindi, dying the following year, was succeeded by Musa, son of
Abu'l-Abbas, surnamed esh-Shirbani by some writers, esh-Shami (the
Syrian) by others. In the year 224 Musa was recalled and his place
taken by Malik, surnamed by some el-Hindi (the Indian), by others ibn
el-Kindi. A year later the caliph dismissed Malik, and sent Ashas to
Egypt in his place. This was the last governor appointed by el-Mutasim
b'lllah, for the caliph died of fever in the year 227 of the Hegira.

Oriental historians have noticed that the numeral eight affected this
caliph in a singular manner. Between himself and Abbas, the head of his
house, there were eight generations; he was born in the month of Shaban,
the eighth month of the Mussulman year; he was the eighth Abbasidian
caliph, and ascended the throne in the year 218, aged thirty-eight years
and eight months; he reigned eight years, eight months, and eight days,
and died in the forty-eighth year of his age, leaving eight sons and
eight daughters. He fought in eight battles, and on his death eight
million dinars and eighty thousand dirhems were discovered in his
private treasury. It is this singular coincidence which gave him the
name Mutamma.

[Illustration: 351.jpg TOMB OF A SHEIKH]

But a sadder fatality exercised its influence over the Caliph Mutamma,
for from him dates the beginning of the decadence of his dynasty, and
to him its first cause may be ascribed. The fact is, Mutasim was
uneducated, without ability, and lacking in moral principles; he was
unable even to write. Endowed with remarkable strength and muscles
of iron, he was able, so Arab historians relate, to lift and carry
exceptionally heavy weights; to this strength was added indomitable
courage and love of warfare, fine weapons, horses, and warriors. This
taste led him, even before the death of his father, to organise a picked
corps, for which he selected the finest, handsomest, and strongest of
the young Turkish slaves taken in war, or sent as tribute to the caliph.

The vast nation, sometimes called Turks, sometimes Tatars, was
distributed, according to all Oriental geographers, over all the
countries of Northern Asia, from the river Jihun or Oxus to Kathay or
China. That the Turks and the Arabs, both bent upon a persistent
policy of conquest, should come into more or less hostile contact
was inevitable. The struggle was a long one, and during the numerous
engagements many prisoners were taken on both sides. Those Turks who
fell into the hands of the Arabs were sent to the different provinces
of their domain, where they became slaves of the chief emirs and of the
caliphs themselves, where, finding favour in the eyes of the caliphs,
they were soon transferred to their personal retinue. The distrust which
the caliphs felt for the emirs of their court, whose claims they were
only able to appease by making vassals of them, caused them to commit
the grave error of confiding in these alien slaves, who, barbaric
and illiterate as they were, now living in the midst of princes, soon
acquired a knowledge of Muhammedanism, the sciences, and, above all, the
politics of the country.

It was not long before they were able to fill the most responsible
positions, and, given their freedom by the caliphs, were employed by the
government according to their abilities. Not only were they given the
chief positions at court, but the government of the principal provinces
was entrusted to them. They repaid these favours later by the blackest
ingratitude, especially when the formation of a Turkish guard brought
a number of their own countrymen under their influence. Ever anxious to
augment his own body-guard, and finding the number of Turks he annually
received as tribute insufficient, el-Mutasim purchased a great many
for the purpose of training them for that particular service. But these
youths speedily abused the confidence shown them by the caliph, who,
perceiving that their insolence was daily growing more insupportable to
the inhabitants of Baghdad, resolved to leave the capital, rebuild the
ancient city of Samarrah and again make it the seat of the empire.

At this time the captain of the caliph's guard was one Tulun, a
freedman, whom fate would seem to have reduced to servitude for the
purpose of showing that a slave might found a dynasty destined to rule
over Egypt and Syria. Tulun belonged to the Toghus-ghur, one of the
twenty-four tribes composing the population of Turkestan. His family
dwelt near Lake Lop, in Little Bukhara. He was taken prisoner in battle
by Nuh ibn Assad es-Samami, then in command at Bukhara. This prince,
who was subject to the Caliph Mamun, paid an annual tribute of slaves,
Turkish horses, and other valuables. In the year 815 a. d., Tulun was
among the slaves sent as tribute to the caliph, who, attracted by his
bearing, enrolled him in his own body-guard.

Before long he had so gained the caliph's confidence that Mamun gave him
his freedom and the command of the guard, at the same time appointing
him Emir es-sitri, prince of the veil or curtain. This post, which was a
mark of the greatest esteem, comprised the charge of the personal safety
of the sovereign, by continually keeping watch without the curtain or
rich drapery which hung before the private apartments, and admitting no
one without a special order. Tulun spent twenty years at the court of
el-Mamun and of his successor, Mutasim, and became the father of several
children, one of which, Ahmed ibn Tulun,* known later as Abu l'Abbas,
was the founder of the Tulunide dynasty in Egypt and Syria.

     * Ahmed ibn Tulun was, according to some historians, born at
     Baghdad in the year 220 of the Hegira, in the third year of
     the reign of el-Mutasim b' Illah. Others claim Samarrah as
     his birthplace. His mother, a young Turkish slave, was named
     Kassimeh, or some say, Hachimeh. Some historians have denied
     that Ahmed was the son of Tulun, one of them, Suyuti, in a
     manuscript belonging to Marcel, quotes Abu Asakar in
     confirmation of this assertion, who pretends he was told by
     an old Egyptian that Ahmed was the son of a Turk named Mahdi
     and of Kassimeh, the slave of Tulun. Suyuti adds that Tulun
     adopted the child on account of his good qualities, but this
     statement is unsupported and seems contradicted by
     subsequent events.

Before Ahmed ibn Tulun had reached an age to take part in political
affairs, two caliphs succeeded Mutasim b'lllah. The first was his son
Harun abu Jafar, who, upon his accession, assumed the surname el-Wathik
b'lllah (trusting in God). Wathik carried on the traditional policy of
continually changing the governors of the provinces, and, dying in the
year 847, was succeeded by his half-brother Mutawakkil. In the following
year the new caliph confided the government of Egypt to Anbasa, but
dismissed him a few months later in favour of his own son el-Muntasir
ibn el-Mutawakkil, whom two years afterwards the caliph named as his
successor to the throne. El-Muntasir was to be immediately succeeded by
his two younger brothers, el-Mutazz b'lllah and el-Mujib b'lllah.

Mutawakkil then proceeded to divide his kingdom, giving Africa and
all his Eastern possessions, from the frontier of Egypt to the eastern
boundary of his states, to his eldest son. His second son, el-Mutazz,
received Khorassan, Tabaristan, Persia, Armenia, and Aderbaijan as his
portion, and to el-Mujib, his third son, he gave Damascus, Hemessa, the
basin of the Jordan, and Palestine.

These measures, by which the caliph hoped to satisfy the ambitions
of his sons, did not have the desired effect. Despite the immense
concessions he had received, el-Muntasir, anxious to commence his rule
over the whole of the Islam empire, secretly conspired against his
father and meditated taking his life. Finding that in Egypt he was too
far from the scene of his intrigues, he deputed the government of that
country to Yazid ibn Abd Allah, and returned to his father's court to
encourage the malcontents and weave fresh plots. His evil schemes soon
began to bear fruit, for, in the year 244 of the Hegira, his agents
stirred up the Turkish soldiery at Damascus to insurrection on the
ground of deferred payment. Whereupon the caliph paid them the arrears,
and left Damascus to retire to Samarrah.

[Illustration: 356.jpg THE MOSQUE OF IBN TULUN, CAIRO.]

At length, in the year 861 (a.h. 247), Mutawakkil discovered the
scarcely concealed treachery of his son, and reproved him publicly.
Some days later the caliph was murdered at night by the captain of his
Turkish Guard, and Muntasir, who is commonly supposed to have
instigated the crime, was immediately proclaimed as his successor in the

The most important event in Egypt during the reign of Mutawakkil was the
falling in of the Nilometer at Fostât. This disaster, was the result of
an earthquake of considerable violence, which was felt throughout
Syria. The caliph ordered the reconstruction of the Nilometer, which was
accomplished the same year, and the Nilometer of the Island of Rhodha
was then called Magaz el-jedid, or the New Nilometer.

After reigning scarcely a year, Muntasir himself succumbed, most
probably to poison, and his cousin Ahmed was elected to the caliphate by
the Turkish soldiery, with the title of Mustain. During his brief reign
the Moslems were defeated by the Byzantines at Awasia, and in 866 the
Turkish soldiers revolted against the caliph and elected his brother
Mutazz in his place. Mustain was, however, allowed to retire to Ma'szit.
He was permitted to take an attendant with him, and his choice fell upon
Ahmed, the son of Tulun, already mentioned. Ahmed served the dethroned
prince truly, and had no part in the subsequent murder of this unhappy

In the meantime the mother of Ahmed had married the influential General
Baik-Bey, and when the latter was given the rulership of Egypt in the
year 868 a. d. (254 a.h.), he sent his stepson as proxy, according to
the custom of the time. On the 23d Ramadhan 254 (15th September, 868),
Ahmed ibn Tulun arrived at Fostât. He encountered great difficulties,
and discovered that at Alexandria and also in other districts there were
independent emirs, who were not directly under the ruler. Soon after his
arrival an insurrection broke out in Upper Egypt. Ahmed showed himself
born to the place; he crushed the uprising and also suppressed a second
revolt that was threatening. By degrees he cleverly undermined the power
of his colleagues, and made his own position in Fostât secure.

When Muaffik was nominated commander-in-chief of the West by his brother
Mustamid (elected caliph in 870), Ahmed managed to secure the good-will
of the vizier of the caliph and thus to obtain the command in Egypt.
He kept the regent in Baghdad in a state of complacency, occasionally
sending him tribute; but, as wars with the Sinds began to trouble the
caliphate, he did not think it worth while to trouble himself further
about Baghdad, and decided to keep his money for himself. Muaffik
was not the man to stand this, and prepared to attack Ahmed, but the
disastrous results of the last war had not yet passed away. When the
army intended for Egypt was camping in Mesopotamia, there was not enough
money to pay the troops, and the undertaking had to be deferred.

Ahmed had a free hand over the enormous produce of Egypt. The compulsory
labour of the industrious Kopt brought in a yearly income of four
million gold dinars ($10,120,000), and yet these people felt themselves
better off than formerly on account of the greater order and peace that
existed under his energetic government. It cannot be denied that Ahmed
in the course of years became much more extravagant and luxurious,
but he used his large means in some measure for the betterment of the
country. He gave large sums not only for the erection of palaces and
barracks, but also for hospitals and educational advancement. To this
day is to be seen the mosque of Ibn Tulun, built by him in the newer
part of Fostât,--a district which was later annexed to the town of


The numerous wars in which Muaffik was involved gave Ahmed the
opportunity of extending his power beyond the boundaries of Egypt. The
ruler of the caliphate of Damascus died in the year 897, and soon after
Ahmed marched into Syria, and, with the exception of Antioch, which
had to be taken by force, the whole country fell into the hands of
the mighty emir. The commanders of isolated districts did not feel
themselves encouraged to offer any resistance, for they had no feeling
of faithfulness for the government, nor had they any hope of assistance
from Baghdad.

The triumphant march of Tulun was hindered in the year 879 by bad news
from Fostât. One of his sons, El-Abbas, had quarrelled with his father,
and had marched to Barca, with troops which he led afterwards to
disaster, and had taken with him money to the amount of 1,000,000 dinars
($2,530,000). He thought himself safe from his enraged father there,
but the latter quickly returned to Fostât, and the news of the ample
preparations which he was hastening for the subjection of his rebel
son caused El-Abbas to place himself still farther out of his reach. He
suddenly attacked the state of Ibrahim II. (the Aghlabite), and caused
serious trouble with his soldiery in the eastern districts of Tripolis.
The neighbouring Berbers gave Ibrahim their assistance, and Abbas was
defeated and retreated to Barca in 880. He remained there some time
until an army sent by Ahmed annihilated his troops and he himself was
taken prisoner.

The rebellion of his son was the turning-point in Ahmed's career: Lulu,
his general in Mesopotamia, deserted him for Muaffik, and an endeavour
to conquer Mecca was frustrated by the unexpected resistance of numbers
of newly arrived pilgrims. Ahmed now caused the report to be spread that
Muaffik was a conspirator against the representatives of the Prophet,
thus depriving him of his dignity.

[Illustration: 361.jpg THE MOSQUE OF IBN TULUN]

The emir had also besieged in vain at Tarsus his former general
Jasman, who had become presumptuous on account of his victory over the
Byzantines. He would eventually have made up for this defeat, but
an illness overcame him while encamped before Tarsus. He obeyed his
doctor's orders as little as the caliph's, and his malady, aggravated
by improper diet, caused his death in his fifty-first year at Fostât in
884, whither he had withdrawn. He left seventeen sons,--enough to assure
a dynasty of a hundred years. Khumarawaih, who inherited the kingdom,
had not many of his father's characteristics. He was a good-natured,
pleasure-loving young man, barely twenty years old, and with a marked
distaste for war. He did, however, notwithstanding his peace-loving
proclivities, fight the caliph's forces near Damascus, and defeat them,
never having seen a battle before. The emir fled from the scene in a

When Muatadid became caliph in 892, he offered his daughter Katr en-Neda
(Dewdrop) in marriage to the caliph's son. The Arabic historians relate
that Khuma-rawaih was fearful of assassination, and had his couch
guarded by a trained lion, but he was finally put to death (a.h. 282),
according to some accounts by women, and according to others by his
eunuchs. The death of Khu-marawaih was the virtual downfall of the
Tulunid dynasty.

The officers of the army then at first made Gaish Abu'l-Asakir (one of
Khumarawaih's sons) emir; but, when this fourteen-year-old boy seemed
incapable of anything but stupid jokes, they put his brother Harun on
the throne. Every commanding officer, however, did as he liked. Rajib,
the commander of the army of defence, declared himself on the side of
the caliph, and the Syrian emirs gave themselves up to his general,
Muhammed ibn Suleiman, without any resistance. At the close of the year
he was before Fostât, and at the same time a fleet appeared at Damietta.
A quarrel arose amongst Harun's body-guard, in which the unlucky prince
was killed (904). His uncle Shaiban, a worthy son of Ahmed, made a last
stand, but was obliged to give in to the superior force.

Muhammed behaved with his Turks in the most outrageous way in Fostât:
the plundering was unrestrained, and that part of Fostât which Ahmed
had built was almost entirely destroyed. The adherents of the reigning
family were grossly maltreated, many of them killed, and others sent to
Baghdad. The governors changed in rapid succession; disorder, want, and
wretchedness existed throughout the entire country west of the caliph's
kingdom. At this period the provinces of the empire had already fallen
into the hands of the numerous minor princes, who, presuming on the
caliph's weakness, had declared themselves independent sovereigns.
Nothing remained to the Abbasids but Baghdad, a few neighbouring
provinces, and Egypt.

Under the Caliphs Muktadir, Kahir, and Rahdi, Egypt had an almost
constant change of governors. One of them, Abu Bekr Muhammed, ultimately
became the founder of a new dynasty,--the Ikshidite,--destined to rule
over Egypt and Syria. Abu Bekr Muhammed was the son of Takadj, then
governor of Damascus. His father had been chief emir at the court of the
Tulunid princes, and, after the fall of this dynasty, remained in Egypt,
where he occupied a post under the government. Intrigues, however, drove
him to Syria, whither his partisans followed him. He first entered the
army of the caliph, and, capturing the town of Ramleh, was given the
governorship of Damascus as reward. His son Abu Bekr Muhammed did not go
to Egypt to fulfil the duties with which he had been invested, and only
retained the title for one month. He was subsequently reinstated,
and this time repaired thither. But Ahmed ibn Kighlagh, who was then
governing Egypt, refused to retire and was only defeated after several
engagements, when he and his followers proceeded to Barca in Africa.

In the year 328 of the Hegira, the caliph Radhi bestowed the honour of
Emir el-Umara (Prince of Princes) upon Muhammed ibn Raik. This officer,
discontented with the government of Palestine, led an army into Syria
and expelled Badra, the lieutenant of Muhammed el-Ikshid. The latter
left Egypt at once, entrusting the government of that country to his
brother, el-Hassan, and brought his forces to Faramah, where the troops
of Muhammed ibn Raik were already stationed. Thanks to the mediation
of several emirs, matters were concluded peacefully, and Muhammed
el-Ikhshid returned to Fostât. Upon his arrival, however, he learnt that
Muhammed ibn Raik had again left Damascus and was preparing to march
upon Egypt.

This intelligence obliged Muhammed el-Ikshid to return at once to Syria.
He encountered the advance-guard of the enemy and promptly led the
attack; his right wing was scattered, but the centre, commanded
by himself, remained firm, and Muhammed ibn Raik retreated towards
Damascus. Husain, brother of el-Ikshid, lost his life in the combat.
Despite the enmity between them, Muhammed ibn Raik sent his own son
to el-Ikshid, charged with messages of condolence for the loss he had
sustained and bearing proposals of peace. Muhammed el-Ikshid received
the son of his enemy with much respect, and invested him with a mantle
of honour. He then consented to cede Damascus, in consideration of an
annual tribute of 140,000 pieces of gold, and the restoration of all
that portion of Palestine between Ramleh and the frontiers of Egypt.
After having concluded all the arrangements relative to this treaty,
Muhammed el-Ikshid returned to Egypt in the year 329 of the Hegira.

[Illustration: 365.jpg COIN OF ABU BEKR.]

The Caliph Rahdi died in the same year (940 a. d.). He was thirty
years of age, and had reigned six years, ten months, and ten days. His
brother, Abu Ishak Ibrahim, succeeded him, and was henceforth known by
the name of Muttaki. A year later Muhammed el-Ikshid was acknowledged
Prince of Egypt by the new caliph. Shortly after, he learnt that his
former enemy, Muhammed ibn Raik had been killed by the Hamdanites;
he thereupon seized the opportunity to recover those provinces he had
granted him, and, marching into Syria, captured Damascus and all the
possessions he had relinquished upon the conclusion of their treaty.
Feeling now that his position was secure, he caused his son Kasim to be
recognised by the emirs and the entire army as his successor.

The year 332 of the Hegira was a disastrous one in Baghdad. The office
of Prince of Princes, bestowed according to the caprice of the Turkish
officers upon any of their leaders, was now become a position superior
even to that of caliph. It was held at this time by a Turk named Turun,
who so oppressed the caliph Muttaki that the latter was forced to fly
from his capital and retire to Mosul. He then besought help from the
Hamdanites, who immediately rallied their forces and, accompanied by the
caliph, marched upon Baghdad. They were, however, completely routed by
Turun and obliged V to retreat. Muttaki showed his gratitude to the two
princes by conferring a mantle of honour upon them, which, for some
time past, had been the only gift that Islam sovereigns had been able to

Leaving Mosul, the caliph proceeded to Rakkah, and there was invited by
Turun to return to Baghdad. Seeing that his adherents, the Hamdanites,
were greatly discouraged by their recent reverses, Muttaki resolved to
accept the offer. When Muhammed el-Ikshid heard this, he hastened to
Rakkah and offered the caliph refuge in Egypt. But the caliph refused,
agreeing, however, as Muhammed el-Ikshid promised to supply him with the
necessary funds, not to return to Baghdad and place himself in the power
of Turun. In spite of his promise, when Turun, fearing that the caliph
had found powerful friends, came to him, and, casting himself before
Muttaki, paid him all the homage due to an Islam sovereign, he allowed
himself to be overruled, and accompanied Turun back to Baghdad. Hardly
had the unfortunate caliph set foot in his capital when he was murdered,
after reigning four years and eleven months. Turun now proclaimed
Abd Allah Abu'l Kasim, son of Muttaki, caliph, who, after a short and
uneventful reign, was succeeded by his uncle, Abu'l Kasim el-Fadhl,
who was the last of the Abbasid caliphs whom Egypt acknowledged as

After Muttaki's return to Baghdad, Muhammed el-Ikshid remained for some
time in Damascus, and then set out for Egypt. His return was signalised
by the war with Saif ed-Dowlah, Prince of Hamdan. The campaign was of
varying success: After a disastrous battle, in which the Egyptians lost
four thousand men as prisoners, Muhammed el-Ikshid left Egypt with
a numerous army and arrived at Maarrah. Saif ed-Dowlah determined to
decide the war with one desperate effort, and first secured the
safety of his treasure, his baggage, and his harem by sending them to
Mesopotamia. Then he marched upon el-Ikshid, who had taken his position
at Kinesrin.

Muhammed divided his forces into two corps, placing in the vanguard all
those who carried lances; he himself was in the rear with ten thousand
picked men. Saif ed-Dowlah charged the vanguard and routed it, but the
rear stood firm; this resistance saved el-Ikshid from total defeat. The
two armies separated after a somewhat indecisive engagement, and
Saif ed-Dowlah, who could claim no advantage save the capture of his
adversaries' baggage, went on to Maubej, where he destroyed the bridge,
and, entering Mesopotamia, proceeded towards Rakkah; but Muhammed
el-Ikshid was already stationed there, and the hostile armies, separated
only by the Euphrates, faced one another for several days.

Negotiations were then opened, and peace was concluded. The conditions
were that Hemessa, Aleppo, and Mesopotamia should belong to Saif
ed-Dowlah, and all the country from Hemessa to the frontiers of Egypt
remain in the possession of Muhammed el-Ikshid. A trench was dug between
Djouchna and Lebouah, in those places where there were no natural
boundaries, to mark the separation of the two states. To ratify this
solemn peace, Saif ed-Dowlah married the daughter of Muhammed el-Ikshid;
then each prince returned to his own province. The treaty was, however,
almost immediately set aside by the Hamdanites, and el-Ikshid, forced to
retrace his steps, defeated them in several engagements and seized the
town of Aleppo.

Thus we see that the year 334 of the Hegira (a. d. 946) was full
of important events, to which was soon added the death of Muhammed
el-Ikshid. He died at Damascus, in the last month of the year
(Dhu'l-Kada), aged sixty, and had reigned eleven years, three months,
and two days. He was buried at Jerusalem. Muhammed el-Ikshid was a man
possessing many excellent talents, and chiefly renowned as an admirable
soldier. Brave, without being rash, quick to calculate his chances, he
was able always to seize the advantage. On the other hand, however,
he was so distrustful and timid in the privacy of his palace that he
organised a guard of eight thousand armed slaves, one thousand of
whom kept constant watch. He never spent the entire night in the same
apartment or tent, and no one was ever permitted to know the place where
he slept.

We are told that this prince could muster four hundred thousand men;
although historians do not definitely specify the boundaries of his
empire, which, of course, varied from time to time, we may nevertheless
believe that his kingdom, as that of his predecessors, the Tulunites,
extended over Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, as far as the
Euphrates, and even included a large portion of Arabia. The Christians
of the East charge him with supporting his immense army at their
expense, and persecuting and taxing them to such an extent that they
were forced to sell many possessions belonging to their Church before
they could pay the required sums.

But, if we may credit a contemporary historian more worthy of belief,
these expenses were covered by the treasure Muhammed el-Ikshid himself
discovered. In fact, el-Massudi, who died at Cairo in the year 346 of
the Hegira, relates that el-Ikshid, knowing much treasure to be buried
there, was greatly interested in the excavation of the subterraneous
tombs of the ancient Egyptian kings. "The prince" he adds, "was
fortunate enough to come across a portion of those tombs, consisting of
vast rooms magnificently decorated. There he found marvellously wrought
figures of old and young men, women, and children, having eyes of
precious stones and faces of gold and silver."

Muhammed el-Ikshid was succeeded by his son, Abu'l Kasim Muhammed,
surnamed Ungur. The prince being only an infant, Kafur, the favourite
minister of the late caliph, was appointed regent. This Kafur was a
black slave purchased by el-Ikshid for the trifling sum of twenty pieces
of gold. He was intelligent, zealous, and faithful, and soon won the
confidence of his master. Nobility of race in the East appertains only
to the descendants of the Prophet, but merit, which may be found in
prince and subject alike, often secures the highest positions, and even
the throne itself for those of the humblest origin. Such was the fate
of Kafur. He showed taste for the sciences, and encouraged scholars;
he loaded the poets with benefits, and they sang his praises without
measure so long as he continued his favours, but satirised him with
equal vigour as soon as his munificence diminished. Invested with
supreme authority, Kafur served the young prince with a devotion and
fidelity worthy of the highest praise. His first step was to dismiss Abu
Bekr Muhammed, the receiver of the Egyptian tributes, against whom he
had received well-merited complaints. In his place he appointed a native
of Mardin, also called Muhammed, of whose honesty and kindliness he was
well aware. He then took his pupil to Egypt, which country they reached
in the month of Safar in the year 335 of the Hegira.

Saif ed-Dowlah, hearing of the death of Muhammed el-Ikshid, and the
departure of Ungur, deemed this a favourable opportunity to despoil his
brother-in-law; he therefore marched upon Damascus, which he captured;
but the faithful Kafur promptly arrived upon the scene with a powerful
army, and, routing Saif ed-Dowlah, who had advanced as far as Ramleh,
drove him back to Rakkah, and relieved Damascus. The remainder of the
reign of Ungur passed peacefully, thanks to the watchfulness and wise
government of Kafur.

In the year 345 of the Hegira, the King of Nubia invaded the Egyptian
territories, advancing to Syene, which he pillaged and laid waste.
Kafur at once despatched his forces overland and along the Nile, and
simultaneously ordered a detachment embarking from the Red Sea to
proceed along the southern coast, attack the enemy in the rear and
completely cut off their retreat. The Nubians, thus surprised on all
sides, were defeated and forced to retreat, leaving the fortress of Rym,
now known as Ibrim, and situated fifty miles from Syênê, in the hands of
the Egyptians. No other events of note took place during the lifetime of
Ungur, who, having reigned fourteen years and ten days, died in the year
349 of the Hegira, leaving his brother Ali, surnamed Abu'l-Hasan, as his

[Illustration: 371.jpg MOSQUE TOMB NEAR SYENE]

The reign of Abu'l-Hasan Ali, the second son of Muhammed el-Ikshid,
lasted but five years. His name, as that of his brother Ungur (Abu
Hurr), is but little known in history. Kafur was also regent during the
reign of Abu'l-Hasan Ali.

In the year 352 of the Hegira, Egypt was stricken with a disastrous
famine. The rise of the Nile, which the previous year had been but
fifteen cubits, was this year even less, and suddenly the waters fell
without irrigating the country. Egypt and the dependent provinces were
thus afflicted for nine consecutive years. During this time, whilst
the people were agitated by fear for the future, a rupture took place
between Abu'l-Hasan Ali and Kafur. This internal disturbance was soon
followed by war; and in the year 354 the Greeks of Constantinople,
led by the Emperor Nicepherous Phocas, advanced into Syria. They took
Aleppo, then in the possession of the Hamdanites, and, encountering
Saif ed-Dowlah, overthrew him also. The governor of Damascus, Dalim
el-Ukazly, and ten thousand men came to the rescue of the Hamdanites,
but Phocas beat a retreat on hearing of his approach.

Abu'l-Hasan Ali died in the year 355 of the Hegira. The regent
Kafur then ascended the throne, assuming the surname el-Ikshid. He
acknowledged the paramount authority of the Abbasid caliph, Muti, and
that potentate recognised his supreme power in the kingdom of Egypt.
During the reign of Kafur, which only lasted two years and four months,
the greater portion of Said was seized by the Fatimites, already
masters of Fayum and Alexandria, and the conquerors were on the point of
encroaching still farther, when Kafur died in the year 357 a.h. Ahmed,
surnamed Abu'l Fawaris, the son of Abu'l-Hasan Ali, and consequently
grandson of Mu-hammed el-Ikshid, succeeded Kafur.

The prince was only eleven years old, and therefore incapable of
properly controlling Egypt, Syria, and his other domains. Husain, one
of his relatives, invaded Syria, but in his turn driven back by the
Karmates, returned to Egypt and strove to depose Ahmed. These divisions
in the reigning family severed the ties which united the provinces of
the Egyptian kingdom. To terminate the disturbances, the emirs resolved
to seek the protection of the Fatimites. The latter, anxious to secure
the long-coveted prize, gladly rendered assistance, and Husain was
forced to return to Syria, where he took possession of Damascus, and the
unfortunate Ahmed lost the throne of Egypt.

With him perished the Ikshid dynasty, which, more ephemeral even than
that of the Tulunid, flourished only thirty-four years and twenty-four

The period upon which this history is now about to enter is of more than
usual interest, for it leads immediately to the centuries during which
the Arabic forces came into contact with the forces of Western Europe.
The town and the coast of Mauritania were then ruled by the Fatimites,
a dynasty independent of the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. The Fatimites
belonged to the tribes of Koramah, who dwelt in the mountains situated
near the town of Fez in the extreme west of Africa. In the year 269 of
the Hegira, they began to extend their sway in the western regions of
Africa, pursuing their conquests farther east. The Fatimite caliph Obaid
Allah and his son Abu'l Kasim cherished designs not only upon Egypt,
but even aimed at the destruction of the Abbasid caliphate, these plans
being so far successful as to leave the Fatimites in secure possession
of Alexandria, and more or less in power in Fayum.

The Fatimite caliphs had lofty and pretentious claims to the allegiance
of the Moslem world. They traced their descent from Fatima, a daughter
of the Prophet, whom Muhammed himself regarded as one of the four
perfect women. At the age of fifteen she married Ali, of whom she was
the only wife, and the partisans of Ali, as we have seen, disputed with
Omar the right to the leadership of Islam upon the Prophet's death.
Critics are not wanting who dispute the family origin of Obaid Allah,
but his claim appears to have been unhesitatingly admitted by his own
immediate followers. The Fatimite successes in the Mediterranean gave
them a substantial basis of political power, and doubtless this outward
and material success was more important to them than their claim to both
a physical and mythical descent from the founder of their religion.

Some accounts trace the descent of Obaid from Abd Allah ibn Maimun
el-Kaddah, the founder of the Ismailian sect, of which the Carmathians
were a branch. The Ismailians may be best regarded as one of the several
sects of Shiites, who originally were simply the partisans of Ali
against Omar, but by degrees they became identified as the upholders of
the Koran against the validity of the oral tradition, and when, later,
the whole of Persia espoused the cause of Ali, the Shiite belief
became tinged with all kinds of mysticism. The Ismailians believed, for
instance, in the coming of a Messiah, to whom they gave the name Mahdi,
and who would one day appear on earth to establish the reign of justice,
and revenge the wrongs done to the family of Ali. The Ismailians
regarded Obaid himself as the Mahdi, and they also believed in
incarnations of the "universal soul," which in former ages had appeared
as the Hebrew Prophets, but which to the Muhammedan manifested itself as
imans. The iman is properly the leader of public worship, but it is not
so much an office as a seership with mystical attributes. The Muhammedan
imans so far have numbered eleven, the twelfth, and greatest (El-Mahdi),
being yet to come. The Ismailians also introduced mysticism into the
interpretation of the Koran, and even taught that its moral precepts
were not to be taken in a literal sense. Thus the Fatimite caliphs
founded their authority upon a combination of political power and

Abu'l Kasim, who ruled at Alexandria, was succeeded in 945 by his son,
El-Mansur. Under his reign the Fatimites were attacked by Abu Yazid, a
Berber, who gathered around him the Sunnites, and the revolutionaries
succeeded in taking the Fatimite capital Kairwan. El-Mansur, however,
soon defeated Abu Yazid in a decisive battle and rebuilt a new city,
Mansuria, on the site of the modern Cairo, to commemorate the event.
Dying in 953, he was succeeded by Muiz ad-Din.

Muiz came to the throne just at the time when dissensions as to the
succession were undermining the Ikshid dynasty. Seizing the opportunity
in the year 969, Muiz equipped a large and well-armed force, with a
formidable body of cavalry, the whole under the command of Abu'l-Husain
Gohar el-Kaid, a native of Greece and a slave of his father El-Mansur.
This general, on his arrival near Alexandria, received a deputation from
the inhabitants of Fostât charged to negotiate a treaty. Their overtures
were favourably entertained, and the conquest of the country seemed
probable without bloodshed. But while the conditions were being
ratified, the Ikshidites prevailed on the people to revoke their offer,
and the ambassadors, on their return, were themselves compelled to seek
safety in flight.

Gohar el-Kaid incurred no delay in pushing his troops forward. He forced
the passage of the Nile a few miles south of El-Gizeh at the head of his
troops, and the Ikshidites suffered a disastrous defeat. To the honour
of the African general, it is related that the inhabitants of Fostât
were pardoned and the city was peaceably occupied. The submission of the
rest of Egypt to Muiz was secured by this victory. In the year 359 a.h.
Syria was also added to his domains, but shortly after was overrun by
the Carmathians. The troops of Muiz met with several reverses, Damascus
was taken, and those lawless freebooters, joined by the Ikshidites,
advanced to Ain Shems. In the meanwhile, Gohar had fortified Cairo (the
new capital which he had founded immediately north of Fostât) and taken
every precaution to repel the invaders; a bloody battle was fought in
the year 361 before the city walls, without any decisive result. Later,
however, Gohar obtained a victory over the enemy which proved to be a
decisive one.

Muiz subsequently removed his court to his new kingdom. In Ramadhan 362,
he entered Cairo, bringing with him the bodies of his three predecessors
and vast treasure. Muiz reigned about two years in Egypt, dying in the
year 365 a.h. He is described as a warlike and ambitious prince, but,
notwithstanding, he was especially distinguished for justice and was
fond of learning. He showed great favour to the Christians, especially
to Severus, Bishop of El-Ashmunein, and the patriarch Ephrem; and under
his orders, and with his assistance, the church of the Mu'allakah,
in Old Misr, was rebuilt. He executed many useful works (among others
rendering navigable the Tanitic branch of the Nile, which is still
called the canal of Muiz), and occupied himself in embellishing Cairo.
Gohar, when he founded that city, built the great mosque named El-Azhar,
the university of Egypt, which to this day is crowded with students from
all parts of the Moslem world.

Aziz Abu-Mansur Nizar, on coming to the throne of his father,
immediately despatched an expedition against the Turkish chief
El-Eftekeen, who had taken Damascus a short time previously. Gohar again
commanded the army, and pressed the siege of that city so vigorously
that the enemy called to their aid the Carmathians. Before this united
army he was forced to retire slowly to Ascalon, where he prepared to
stand a siege; but, being reduced to great straits, he purchased his
liberty with a large sum of money. On his return from this disastrous
campaign, Aziz took command in person, and, meeting the enemy at Ramleh,
was victorious after a bloody battle; while El-Eftekeen, being betrayed
into his hands, was with Arab magnanimity received with honour and
confidence, and ended his days in Egypt in affluence. Aziz followed his
father's example of liberality. It is even said that he appointed a Jew
his vizier in Syria, and a Christian to the same post in Egypt. These
acts, however, nearly cost him his life, and a popular tumult obliged
him to disgrace both these officers. After a reign of twenty-one years
of great internal prosperity, he died (a.h. 386) in a bath at Bilbeis,
while preparing an expedition against the Greeks who were ravaging
his possessions in Syria. Aziz was distinguished for moderation and
mildness, but his son and successor rendered himself notorious for very
opposite qualities.

Hakim Abu Ali Mansur commenced his reign, according to Moslem
historians, with much wisdom, but afterwards acquired a reputation for
impiety, cruelty, and unreasoning extravagance, by which he has been
rendered odious to posterity. He is said to have had at the same time
"courage and boldness, cowardice and timorousness, a love for learning
and vindictiveness towards the learned, an inclination to righteousness
and a disposition to slay the righteous." He also arrogated to himself
divinity, and commanded his subjects to rise at the mention of his name
in the congregational prayers, an edict which was obeyed even in the
holy cities, Mecca and Medina. He is most famous in connection with the
Druses, a sect which he founded and which still holds him in veneration
and believes in his future return to the earth. He had made himself
obnoxious to all classes of his subjects when, in the year 397 a.h., he
nearly lost his throne by foreign invasion.

[Illustration: 379.jpg MOSQUE OF HAKIM]

Hisham, surnamed Abu-Rekweh, a descendant of the house of Ommaya in
Spain, took the province of Barca with a considerable force and subdued
Upper Egypt. The caliph, aware of his danger, immediately collected
his troops from every quarter of the kingdom, and marched against the
invaders, whom, after severe fighting, he defeated and put to flight.
Hisham himself was taken prisoner, paraded in Cairo with every
aggravation of cruelty, and put to death. Hakim having thus by vigorous
measures averted this danger, Egypt continued to groan under his tyranny
until the year 411 a.h., when he fell by domestic treachery. His sister
Sitt el-Mulk had, in common with the rest of his subjects, incurred his
displeasure; and, being fearful for her life, she secretly and by night
concerted measures with the emir Saif ed-Dowlah, chief of the guard,
who very readily agreed to her plans. Ten slaves, bribed by five hundred
dinars each ($1,260), having received their instructions, went forth on
the appointed day to the desert tract southward of Cairo, where Hakim,
unattended, was in the habit of riding, and waylaid him near the village
of Helwan, where they put him to death.

Within a week Hakim's son Ali had been raised to the caliphate with
the title of Dhahir, at the command of Sitt el-Mulk. As Dhahir was only
eighteen years old, and in no way educated for the government, Sitt
el-Mulk took the reins of government, and was soon looked upon as the
instigator of Hakim's death. This suspicion was strengthened by the
fact that his sister had the heir to the throne--who was at that time
governor of Aleppo--murdered, and also the chief who had conspired with
her in assassinating Hakim. She survived her brother for about four
years, but the actual ruler was the Vizier Ali el-Jar jar.

Dhahir's reign offers many points of interest. Peace and contentment
reigned in the interior, and Syria continued to be the chief point of
interest to the Egyptian politics. Both Lulu and his son Mansur, who
received princely titles from Hakim, recognised the suzerainty of the
Fatimites. Later on a disagreement arose between Lulu's son and Dhahir.
One of the former's slaves conspired against his master, and gave Aleppo
into the hands of the Fatimites, whose governor maintained himself there
till 1023. In this year, however, Aleppo fell into the power of the Benu
Kilab, who defended the town with great success against Romanus in
1030. Not till Dhahir's successor came to the throne in 1036 was Aleppo
reconquered by the Fatimites, but only to fall, after a few years, again
into the hands of a Kilabite, whom the caliph was obliged to acknowledge
as governor until he of his own free will exchanged the city for several
other towns in Syria; but even then the strife about the possession of
Aleppo was not yet at an end.

Mustanssir ascended the throne at the age of four years. His mother,
although black and once a slave, had great influence in the choice of
the viziers and other officials, and even when the caliph became of age,
he showed very few signs of independence. His reign, which lasted sixty
years, offers a constant alternation of success and defeat. At one time
his dominion was limited to the capital Cairo, at another time he was
recognised as lord of Africa, Sicily, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and even of
the Abbassid capital, Baghdad. A few days later his dominion was again
on the point of being extinguished. The murder of a Turk by the negroes
led to a war between the Turkish mercenaries and the blacks who formed
the caliph's body-guard. The latter were joined by many of the other
slaves, but the Turks were supported by the Ketama Berbers and some of
the Bedouin tribes, and also the Hamdanite Nasir ed-Dowlah, who had
long been in the Egyptian service. The blacks, although supported by the
caliph's mother, were completely defeated, and the caliph was forced to
acknowledge the authority of Nasir ed-Dowlah. He thereupon threatened
to abdicate, but when he learned that his palace with all its treasures
would then be given up to plunder, he refrained from fulfilling his
threat. The power of the Hamdanites and the Turks increased with
every victory over the negroes, who finally could no longer maintain
themselves at all in Upper Egypt. The caliph was treated with contempt,
and had to give up his numerous treasures, one by one, to satisfy the
avarice of his troops. Even the graves of his ancestors were at last
robbed of all they contained, and when, at last, everything had been
ransacked, even his library, which was one of the largest and finest,
was not spared. The best manuscripts were dispersed, some went to
Africa, others were destroyed, many were damaged or purposely mutilated
by the Sunnites, simply because they had been written by the Shiites;
still others were burnt by the Turks as worthless material, and the
leather bands which held them made into sandals.

[Illustration: 383.jpg MUSTANSSIR'S GATE AT CAIRO]

Meanwhile war between Mustanssir and Nasir ed-Dowlah continued to be
waged in Egypt and Syria, until at last the latter became master of
Cairo and deprived the caliph once more completely of his independence.

Soon after, a conspiracy with Ildeghiz, a Turkish general, at its head,
was formed against Nasir ed-Dowlah, and he, together with his relations
and followers, was brutally murdered. Ildeghiz behaved in the same way
as his predecessor had-done towards the caliph, and the latter appealed
to Bedr el-Jemali for help. Bedr proceeded to Acre with his best Syrian
troops, landed in the neighbourhood of Damietta and proceeded towards
the capital, which he entered without difficulty (January, 1075). He was
appointed general and first vizier, so that he now held both the highest
military and civil authority.

In order to strengthen his position, he had all the commanders of the
troops and the highest officials murdered at a ball. Under his rule,
peace and order were at last restored to Egypt, and the income of the
state was increased under his excellent government.

Bedr remained at his post till his death, and his son El-Afdhal was
appointed by Mustanssir to succeed him. Upon the death of Mustanssir
(1094), his successor El-Mustali Abu'l Kasim retained El-Afdhal in
office. He was afterwards murdered under Emir (December, 1121) because,
according to some, he was not a zealous enough Shiite, but, according
to others, because the caliph wished to gain possession of the enormous
treasures of the vizier and to be absolutely independent. Emir was
also murdered (October 7, 1130), and was succeeded by his cousin, who
ascended the throne under the name of Hafiz, and appointed a son of
El-Afdhal as vizier, who, just as his father had done, soon became the
real ruler, and did not even allow the caliph's name to be mentioned in
the prayers; whereupon he also was murdered at the caliph's instigation.
After other viziers had met with a similar fate, and amongst them a son
of the caliph himself, at last Hafiz ruled alone. His son and successor,
Dhafir (1149-1150), also frequently changed his viziers because they
one and all wished to obtain too much influence. The last vizier,
Abbas, murdered the caliph (March-April, 1154), and placed El-Faiz, the
five-year-old son of the dead caliph, on the throne, but the child died
in his eleventh year (July, 1160). Salih, then vizier, raised Adid, a
descendant of Alhagiz, to the caliphate and gave him his daughter to
wife, for which reason he was murdered at the desire of the harem. His
son Adil maintained himself for a short time, and then El-Dhargham and
Shawir fought for the post; as the former gained the victory, Shawir
fled to Syria, called Nureddin to his aid, and their army, under Shirkuh
and Saladin, put an end in 1171 to the rule of the Fatimites.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 11 (of 12)" ***

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