The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol. 1
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With a staff of specialists


The National Alumni





General Introduction

An Outline Narrative of the Great Events CHARLES F. HORNE

Dawn of Civilization (B.C. 5867) G.C.C. MASPERO

Compilation of the Earliest Code (B.C. 2250) HAMMURABI

Theseus Founds Athens (B.C. 1235) PLUTARCH

The Formation of the Castes in India (B.C. 1200) GUSTAVE LE BON W.W. HUNTER

Fall of Troy (B.C. 1184) GEORGE GROTE

Accession of Solomon Building of the Temple at Jerusalem (B.C. 1017) HENRY HART MILMAN

Rise and Fall of Assyria Destruction of Nineveh (B.C. 789) F. LENORMANT AND E. CHEVALLIER

The Foundation of Rome (B.C. 753) BARTHOLD GEORG NIEBUHR

Prince Jimmu Founds Japan's Capital (B.C. 660) SIR EDWARD REED THE "NEHONGI"

The Foundation of Buddhism (B.C. 623) THOMAS W. RHYS-DAVIDS

Pythian Games at Delphi (B.C. 585) GEORGE GROTE

Solon's Early Greek Legislation (B.C. 594) GEORGE GROTE

Conquests of Cyrus the Great (B.C. 550) GEORGE GROTE

Rise of Confucius, the Chinese Sage (B.C. 550) R.K. DOUGLAS

Rome Established as a Republic Institution of Tribunes (B.C. 510-494) HENRY GEORGE LIDDELL

The Battle of Marathon (B.C. 490) SIR EDWARD SHEPHERD CREASY

Invasion of Greece by Persians under Xerxes Defence of Thermopylae (B.C. 480) HERODOTUS

Universal Chronology (B.C. 5867-451) JOHN RUDD



Sphinx, with Great and Second Pyramids of Gizeh (page 12) Frontispiece From an original photograph.

The Rosetta Stone, and Description Facsimile of original in the British Museum.

The Sabine Womennow motherssuing for peace between the combatants (their Roman husbands and their Sabine relatives) Painting by Jacques L. David.




* * * * *

General Introduction

THE GREAT EVENTS BY FAMOUS HISTORIANS is the answer to a problem which has long been agitating the learned world. How shall real history, the ablest and profoundest work of the greatest historians, be rescued from its present oblivion on the dusty shelves of scholars, and made welcome to the homes of the people?

THE NATIONAL ALUMNI, an association of college men, having given this question long and earnest discussion among themselves, sought finally the views of a carefully elaborated list of authorities throughout America and Europe. They consulted the foremost living historians and professors of history, successful writers in other fields, statesmen, university and college presidents, and prominent business men. From this widely gathered consensus of opinions, after much comparison and sifting of ideas, was evolved the following practical, and it would seem incontrovertible, series of plain facts. And these all pointed toward "THE GREAT EVENTS."

In the first place, the entire American public, from top to bottom of the social ladder, are at this moment anxious to read history. Its predominant importance among the varied forms of literature is fully recognized. To understand the past is to understand the future. The successful men in every line of life are those who look ahead, whose keen foresight enables them to probe into the future, not by magic, but by patiently acquired knowledge. To see clearly what the world has done, and why, is to see at least vaguely what the world will do, and when.

Moreover, no man can understand himself unless he understands others; and he cannot do that without some idea of the past, which has produced both him and them. To know his neighbors, he must know something of the country from which they came, the conditions under which they formerly lived. He cannot do his own simple duty by his own country if he does not know through what tribulations that country has passed. He cannot be a good citizen, he cannot even vote honestly, much less intelligently, unless he has read history. Fortunately the point needs little urging. It is almost an impertinence to refer to it. We are all anxious, more than anxious to learn—if only the path of study be made easy.

Can this be accomplished? Can the vanishing pictures of the past be made as simply obvious as mathematics, as fascinating as a breezy novel of adventure? Genius has already answered, yes. Hand to a mere boy Macaulay's sketch of Warren Hastings in India, and the lad will see as easily as if laid out upon a map the host of interwoven and elaborate problems that perplexed the great administrator. Offer to the youngest lass the tale told by Guizot of King Robert of France and his struggle to retain his beloved wife Bertha. Its vivid reality will draw from the girl's heart far deeper and truer tears than the most pathetic romance.

We begin to realize that in very truth History has been one vast stupendous drama, world-embracing in its splendor, majestic, awful, irresistible in the insistence of its pointing finger of fate. It has indeed its comic interludes, a Prussian king befuddling ambassadors in his "Tobacco Parliament"; its pauses of intense and cumulative suspense, Queen Louise pleading to Napoleon for her country's life; but it has also its magnificent pageants, its gorgeous culminating spectacles of wonder. Kings and emperors are but the supernumeraries upon its boards; its hero is the common man, its plot his triumph over ignorance, his struggle upward out of the slime of earth.

Yet the great historians are not being widely read. The ablest and most convincing stories of his own development seem closed against the ordinary man. Why? In the first place, the works of the masters are too voluminous. Grote's unrivalled history of Greece fills ten large and forbidding volumes. Guizot takes thirty-one to tell a portion of the story of France. Freeman won credit in the professorial world by devoting five to the detailing of a single episode, the Norman Conquest. Surely no busy man can gather a general historic knowledge, if he must read such works as these! We are told that the great library of Paris contains over four hundred thousand volumes and pamphlets on French history alone. The output of historic works in all languages approaches ten thousand volumes every year. No scholar, even, can peruse more than the smallest fraction of this enormously increasing mass. Herodotus is forgotten, Livy remains to most of us but a recollection of our school-days, and Thucydides has become an exercise in Greek.

There is yet another difficulty. Even the honest man who tries, who takes down his Grote or Freeman, heroically resolved to struggle through it at all speed, fails often in his purpose. He discovers that the greatest masters nod. Sometimes in their slow advance they come upon a point that rouses their enthusiasm; they become vigorous, passionate, sarcastic, fascinating, they are masters indeed. But the fire soon dies, the inspiration flags, "no man can be always on the heights," and the unhappy reader drowses in the company of his guide.

This leads us then to one clear point. From these justly famous works a selection should be made. Their length should be avoided, their prosy passages eliminated; the one picture, or perhaps the many pictures, which each master has painted better than any rival before or since, that and that alone should be preserved.

Read in this way, history may be sought with genuine pleasure. It is only pedantry has made it dreary, only blindness has left it dull. The story of man is the most wonderful ever conceived. It can be made the most fascinating ever written.

With this idea firmly established in mind, we seek another line of thought. The world grows smaller every day. Russia fights huge battles five thousand miles from her capital. England governs India. Spain and the United States contend for empire in the antipodes. Our rapidly improving means of communication, electric trains, and, it may be, flying machines, cables, and wireless telegraphy, link lands so close together that no man lives to-day the subject of an isolated state. Rather, indeed, do all the kingdoms seem to shrink, to become but districts in one world-including commonwealth.

To tell the story of one nation by itself is thus no longer possible. Great movements of the human race do not stop for imaginary boundary lines thrown across a map. It was not the German students, nor the Parisian mob, nor the Italian peasants who rebelled in 1848; it was the "people of Europe" who arose against their oppressors. To read the history of one's own country only is to get distorted views, to exaggerate our own importance, to remain often in densest ignorance of the real meaning of what we read. The ideas American school-boys get of the Revolution are in many cases simply absurd, until they have been modified by wider reading.

From this it becomes very evident that a good history now must be, not a local, but a world history. The idea of such a work is not new. Diodorus penned one two hundred years before Christ. But even then the tale took forty books; and we have been making history rather rapidly since Diodorus' time. Of the many who have more recently attempted his task, few have improved upon his methods; and the best of these works only shows upon a larger scale the same dreariness that we have found in other masters.

Let us then be frank and admit that no one man can make a thoroughly good world history. No one man could be possessed of the almost infinite learning required; none could have the infinite enthusiasm to delight equally in each separate event, to dwell on all impartially and yet ecstatically. So once more we are forced back upon the same conclusion. We will take what we already have. We will appeal to each master for the event in which he did delight, the one in which we find him at his best.

This also has been attempted before, but perhaps in a manner too lengthy, too exact, too pedantic to be popular. The aim has been to get in everything. Everything great or small has been narrated, and so the real points of value have been lost in the multiplicity of lesser facts, about which no ordinary reader cares or needs to care. After all, what we want to know and remember are the Great Events, the ones which have really changed and influenced humanity. How many of us do really know about them? or even know what they are? or one-twentieth part of them? And until we know, is it not a waste of time to pore over the lesser happenings between?

Yet the connection between these events must somehow be shown. They must not stand as separate, unrelated fragments. If the story of the world is indeed one, it must be shown as one, not even broken by arbitrary division into countries, those temporary political constructions, often separating a single race, lines of imaginary demarcation, varying with the centuries, invisible in earth's yesterday, sure to change if not to perish in her to-morrow. Moreover, such a system of division necessitates endless repetition. Each really important occurrence influences many countries, and so is told of again and again with monotonous iteration and extravagant waste of space.

It may, however, be fairly urged that the story should vary according to the country for which it is designed. To our individual lives the events happening nearest prove most important. Great though others be, their influence diminishes with their increasing distance in space and time. For the people of North America the story of the world should have the part taken by America written large across the pages.

From all these lines of reasoning arose the present work, which the National Alumni believe has solved the problem. It tells the story of the world, tells it in the most famous words of the most famous writers, makes of it a single, continued story, giving the results of the most recent research. Yet all dry detail has been deliberately eliminated; the tale runs rapidly and brightly. Whatever else may happen, the reader shall not yawn. Only important points are dwelt on, and their relative value is made clear.

Each volume of THE GREAT EVENTS opens with a brief survey of the period with which it deals. The broad world movements of the time are pointed out, their importance is emphasized, their mutual relationship made clear. If the reader finds his interest specially roused in one of these events, and he would learn more of it, he is aided by a directing note, which, in each case, tells him where in the body of the volume the subject is further treated. Turning thither he may plunge at once into the fuller account which he desires, sure that it will be both vivid and authoritative; in short, the best-known treatment of the subject.

Meanwhile the general survey, being thus relieved from the necessity of constant explanation, expansion, and digression, is enabled to flow straight onward with its story, rapidly, simply, entertainingly. Indeed, these opening sketches, written especially for this series, and in a popular style, may be read on from volume to volume, forming a book in themselves, presenting a bird's-eye view of the whole course of earth, an ideal world history which leaves the details to be filled in by the reader at his pleasure. It is thus, we believe, and thus only, that world history can be made plain and popular. The great lessons of history can thus be clearly grasped. And by their light all life takes on a deeper meaning.

The body of each volume, then, contains the Great Events of the period, ranged in chronological order. Of each event there are given one, perhaps two, or even three complete accounts, not chosen hap-hazard, but selected after conference with many scholars, accounts the most accurate and most celebrated in existence, gathered from all languages and all times. Where the event itself is under dispute, the editors do not presume to judge for the reader; they present the authorities upon both sides. The Reformation is thus portrayed from the Catholic as well as the Protestant standpoint. The American Revolution is shown in part as England saw it; and in the American Civil War, and the causes which produced it, the North and the South speak for themselves in the words of their best historians.

To each of these accounts is prefixed a brief introduction, prepared for this work by a specialist in the field of history of which it treats. This introduction serves a double purpose. In the first place, it explains whatever is necessary for the understanding and appreciation of the story that follows. Unfortunately, many a striking bit of historic writing has become antiquated in the present day. Scholars have discovered that it blunders here and there, perhaps is prejudiced, perhaps extravagant. Newer writers, therefore, base a new book upon the old one, not changing much, but paraphrasing it into deadly dullness by their efforts after accuracy. Thanks to our introduction we can revive the more spirited account, and, while pointing out its value to the reader, can warn him of its errors. Thus he secures in briefest form the results of the most recent research.

Another purpose of the introduction is to link each event with the preceding ones in whatever countries it affects. Thus if one chooses he may read by countries after all, and get a completed story of a single nation. That is, he may peruse the account of the battle of Hastings and then turn onward to the making of the Domesday Book, where he will find a few brief lines to cover the intervening space in England's history. From the struggles of Stephen and Matilda he is led to the quarrel of her son, King Henry, with Thomas Becket, and so onward step by step.

Starting with this ground plan of the design in mind, the reader will see that its compilation was a work of enormous labor. This has been undertaken seriously, patiently, and with earnest purpose. The first problem to be confronted was, What were the Great Events that should be told? Almost every writer and teacher of history, every well-known authority, was appealed to; many lists of events were compiled, revised, collated, and compared; and so at last our final list was evolved, fitted to bear the brunt of every criticism.

Then came the heavier problem of what authorities to quote for each event. And here also the editors owe much to the capable aid of many generous, unremunerated advisers. Thus, for instance, they sought and obtained from the Hon. Joseph Chamberlain his advice as to the authorities to be used for the Jameson raid and the Boer war. The account presented may therefore be fairly regarded as England's own authoritative presentment of those events. Several little known and wholly unused Russian sources were pointed out by Professor Rambaud, the French Academician. But this is mentioned only to illustrate the impartiality with which the editors have endeavored to cover all fields. If, under the plea of expressing gratitude to all those who have lent us courteous assistance, we were to spread across these pages the long roll of their distinguished names, it would sound too much like boasting of their condescension.

The work of selecting the accounts has been one of time and careful thought. Many thousands of books have been read and read again. The cardinal points of consideration in the choice have been: (1) Interest, that is, vividness of narration; (2) simplicity, for we aim to reach the people, to make a book fit even for a child; (3) the fame of the author, for everyone is pleased to be thus easily introduced to some long-heard-of celebrity, distantly revered, but dreaded; and (4) accuracy, a point set last because its defects could be so easily remedied by the specialist's introduction to each event.

These considerations have led occasionally to the selection of very ancient documents, the original "sources" of history themselves, as, for instance, Columbus' own story of his voyage, rather than any later account built up on this; Pliny's picture of the destruction of Pompeii, for Pliny was there and saw the heavens rain down fire, and told of it as no man has done since. So, too, we give a literal translation of the earliest known code of laws, antedating those of Moses by more than a thousand years, rather than some modern commentary on them. At other times the same principles have led to the other extreme, and on modern events, where there seemed no wholly satisfactory or standard accounts, we have had them written for us by the specialists best acquainted with the field.

As the work thus grew in hand, it became manifest that it would be, in truth, far more than a mere story of events. With each event was connected the man who embodied it. Often his life was handled quite as fully as the event, and so we had biography. Lands had to be described—geography. Peoples and customs—sociology. Laws and the arguments concerning them—political economy. In short, our history proved a universal cyclopaedia as well.

To give it its full value, therefore, an index became obviously necessary—and no ordinary index. Its aim must be to anticipate every possible question with which a reader might approach the past, and direct him to the answer. Even, it might be, he would want details more elaborate than we give. If so, we must direct him where to find them.

Professional index-makers were therefore summoned to our help, a complete and readable chronology was appended to each volume, and the final volume of the series was turned over to the indexers entirely. We believe their work will prove not the least valuable feature of the whole. Briefly, the Index Volume contains:

1. A complete list of the Great Events of the world's history. Opposite each event are given the date, the name of the author and standard work from which our account is selected, and a number of references to other works and to a short discussion of these in our Bibliography. Thus the reader may pursue an extended course of study on each particular event.

2. A bibliography of the best general histories of ancient, mediaeval, and modern times, and of important political, religious, and educational movements; also a bibliography of the best historical works dealing with each nation, and arranged under the following subdivisions: (a) The general history of the nation; (b) special periods in its career; (c) the descriptions of the people, their civilization and institutions. On each work thus mentioned there is a critical comment with suggestions to readers. This bibliography is designed chiefly for those who desire to pursue more extended courses of reading, and it offers them the experience and guidance of those who have preceded them on their special field.

3. A classified index of famous historic characters. The names are grouped under such headings as "Rulers, Statesmen, and Patriots," "Famous Women," "Military and Naval Commanders," "Philosophers and Teachers," "Religious Leaders," etc. Under each person's name is given a biographical chronology of his career, showing every important event in which he played a part, together with the date of the event, and the volume and page of this series where a full account of it may be found. This plan provides a new and very valuable means of reading the biography of any noted personage, one of the great advantages being that the accounts of the various events in his life are not all in the language of the same author, not written by a man anxious to bring out the importance of his special hero. The writers are mainly interested in the event, and show the hero only in his true and unexaggerated relation to it. Under each name will also be found references to such further authorities on the biography of the personage as may be consulted with profit by those students and scholars who wish to pursue an exhaustive study of his career.

4. A biographical index of the authors represented in the series. This consists of brief sketches of the many writers whose work has been drawn upon for the narratives of Great Events. It is intended for ready reference, and gives only the essential facts. This index serves a double purpose. Suppose, for instance, that a reader is familiar with the name of John Lothrop Motley, but happens not to know whether he is still living, whether he had other occupation than writing, or what offices he held. This index will answer these questions. On the other hand, an admirer of Thomas Jefferson or Theodore Roosevelt may wish to know whether we have taken anything—and, if so, what—from their writings. This index will answer at once.

5. A general index covering every reference in the series to dates, events, persons, and places of historic importance. These are made easily accessible by a careful and elaborate system of cross-references.

6. A separate and complete chronology of each nation of ancient, mediaeval, and modern times, with references to the volume and page where each item is treated, either as an entire article or as part of one; so that the history of any one nation may be read in its logical order and in the language of its best historians.

Such, as the National Alumni regard it, are the general character, wide scope, and earnest purpose of THE GREAT EVENTS BY FAMOUS HISTORIANS. Let us end by saying, in the friendly fashion of the old days when bookmakers and their readers were more intimate than now: "Kind reader, if this our performance doth in aught fall short of promise, blame not our good intent, but our unperfect wit."














History, if we define it as the mere transcription of the written records of former generations, can go no farther back than the time such records were first made, no farther than the art of writing. But now that we have come to recognize the great earth itself as a story-book, as a keeper of records buried one beneath the other, confused and half obliterated, yet not wholly beyond our comprehension, now the historian may fairly be allowed to speak of a far earlier day.

For unmeasured and immeasurable centuries man lived on earth a creature so little removed from "the beasts that die," so little superior to them, that he has left no clearer record than they of his presence here. From the dry bones of an extinct mammoth or a plesiosaur, Cuvier reconstructed the entire animal and described its habits and its home. So, too, looking on an ancient, strange, scarce human skull, dug from the deeper strata beneath our feet, anatomists tell us that the owner was a man indeed, but one little better than an ape. A few aeons later this creature leaves among his bones chipped flints that narrow to a point; and the archaeologist, taking up the tale, explains that man has become tool-using, he has become intelligent beyond all the other animals of earth. Physically he is but a mite amid the beast monsters that surround him, but by value of his brain he conquers them. He has begun his career of mastery.

If we delve amid more recent strata, we find the flint weapons have become bronze. Their owner has learned to handle a ductile metal, to draw it from the rocks and fuse it in the fire. Later still he has discovered how to melt the harder and more useful iron. We say roughly, therefore, that man passed through a stone age, a bronze age, and then an iron age.

Somewhere, perhaps in the earliest of these, he began to build rude houses. In the next, he drew pictures. During the latest, his pictures grew into an alphabet of signs, his structures developed into vast and enduring piles of brick or stone. Buildings and inscriptions became his relics, more like to our own, more fully understandable, giving us a sense of closer kinship with his race.


There are three different lines along which we have succeeded in securing some knowledge of these our distant ancestors, three telephones from the past, over which they send to us confused and feeble murmurings, whose fascination makes only more maddening the vagueness of their speech.

First, we have the picture-writings, whether of Central America, of Egypt, of Babylonia, or of other lands. These when translatable bring us nearest of all to the heart of the great past. It is the mind, the thought, the spoken word, of man that is most intimately he; not his face, nor his figure, nor his clothes. Unfortunately, the translation of these writings is no easy task. Those of Central America are still an unsolved riddle. Those of Babylon have been slowly pieced together like a puzzle, a puzzle to which the learned world has given its most able thought. Yet they are not fully understood. In Egypt we have had the luck to stumble on a clew, the Rosetta Stone, which makes the ancient writing fairly clear.[1]

[Footnote 1: See page 1 for an engraving and account of this famous stone. It was found over a century ago and its value was instantly recognized, but many years passed before its secrets were deciphered. It contains an inscription repeated in three forms of writing: the early Egyptian of the hieroglyphics, a later Egyptian (the demotic), and Greek.]

Where this mode of communication fails, we turn to another which carries us even farther into the past. The records which have been less intentionally preserved, not only the buildings themselves, but their decorations, the personal ornaments of men, idols, coins, every imaginable fragment, chance escaped from the maw of time, has its own story for our reading. In Egypt we have found deep-hidden, secret tombs, and, intruding on their many centuries of silence, have reaped rich harvests of knowledge from the garnered wealth. In Babylonia the rank vegetation had covered whole cities underneath green hillocks, and preserved them till our modern curiosity delved them out. To-day, he who wills, may walk amid the halls of Sennacherib, may tread the streets whence Abraham fled, ay, he may gaze upon the handiwork of men who lived perhaps as far before Abraham as we ourselves do after him.

Nor are our means of penetrating the past even thus exhausted. A third chain yet more subtle and more marvellous has been found to link us to an ancestry immeasurably remote. This unbroken chain consists of the words from our own mouths. We speak as our fathers spoke; and they did but follow the generations before. Occasional pronunciations have altered, new words have been added, and old ones forgotten; but some basal sounds of names, some root-thoughts of the heart, have proved as immutable as the superficial elegancies are changeful. "Father" and "mother" mean what they have meant for uncounted ages.

Comparative philology, the science which compares one language with another to note the points of similarity between them, has discovered that many of these root-sounds are alike in almost all the varied tongues of Europe. The resemblance is too common to be the result of coincidence, too deep-seated to be accounted for by mere communication between the nations. We have gotten far beyond the possibility of such explanations; and science says now with positive confidence that there must have been a time when all these nations were but one, that their languages are all but variations of the tongue their distant ancestors once held in common.

Study has progressed beyond this point, can tell us far more intricate and fainter facts. It argues that one by one the various tribes left their common home and became completely separated; and that each root-sound still used by all the nations represents an idea, an object, they already possessed before their dispersal. Thus we can vaguely reconstruct that ancient, aboriginal civilization. We can even guess which tribes first broke away, and where again these wanderers subdivided, and at what stage of progress. Surely a fascinating science this! And in its infancy! If its later development shall justify present promise, it has still strange tales to tell us in the future.


Turn now from this tracing of our means of knowledge, to speak of the facts they tell us. When our humankind first become clearly visible they are already divided into races, which for convenience we speak of as white, yellow, and black. Of these the whites had apparently advanced farthest on the road to civilization; and the white race itself had become divided into at least three varieties, so clearly marked as to have persisted through all the modern centuries of communication and intermarriage. Science is not even able to say positively that these varieties or families had a common origin. She inclines to think so; but when all these later ages have failed to obliterate the marks of difference, what far longer period of separation must have been required to establish them!

These three clearly outlined families of the whites are the Hamites, of whom the Egyptians are the best-known type; the Semites, as represented by ancient Babylonians and modern Jews and Arabs; and the great Aryan or Indo-European family, once called the Japhites, and including Hindus, Persians, Greeks, Latins, the modern Celtic and Germanic races, and even the Slavs or Russians.

The Egyptians, when we first see them, are already well advanced toward civilization.[2] To say that they were the first people to emerge from barbarism is going much further than we dare. Their records are the most ancient that have come clearly down to us; but there may easily have been other social organisms, other races, to whom the chances of time and nature have been less gentle. Cataclysms may have engulfed more than one Atlantis; and few climates are so fitted for the preservation of man's buildings as is the rainless valley of the Nile.

[Footnote 2: See the Dawn of Civilization, page 1.]

Moreover, the Egyptians may not have been the earliest inhabitants even of their own rich valley. We find hints that they were wanderers, invaders, coming from the East, and that with the land they appropriated also the ideas, the inventions, of an earlier negroid race. But whatever they took they added to, they improved on. The idea of futurity, of man's existence beyond the grave, became prominent among them; and in the absence of clearer knowledge we may well take this idea as the groundwork, the starting-point, of all man's later and more striking progress.

Since the Egyptians believed in a future life they strove to preserve the body for it, and built ever stronger and more gigantic tombs. They strove to fit the mind for it, and cultivated virtues, not wholly animal such as physical strength, nor wholly commercial such as cunning. They even carved around the sepulchre of the departed a record of his doings, lest they—and perhaps he too in that next life—forget. There were elements of intellectual growth in all this, conditions to stimulate the mind beyond the body.

And the Egyptians did develop. If one reads the tales, the romances, that have survived from their remoter periods, he finds few emotions higher than childish curiosity or mere animal rage and fear. Amid their latest stories, on the contrary, we encounter touches of sentiment, of pity and self-sacrifice, such as would even now be not unworthy of praise. But, alas! the improvement seems most marked where it was most distant. Perhaps the material prosperity of the land was too great, the conditions of life too easy; there was no stimulus to effort, to endeavor. By about the year 2200 B.C. we find Egypt fallen into the grip of a cold and lifeless formalism. Everything was fixed by law; even pictures must be drawn in a certain way, thoughts must be expressed by stated and unvariable symbols. Advance became well-nigh impossible. Everything lay in the hands of a priestly caste the completeness of whose dominion has perhaps never been matched in history. The leaders lived lives of luxurious pleasure enlightened by scientific study; but the people scarce existed except as automatons. The race was dead; its true life, the vigor of its masses, was exhausted, and the land soon fell an easy prey to every spirited invader.

Meanwhile a rougher, stronger civilization was growing in the river valleys eastward from the Nile. The Semitic tribes, who seem to have had their early seat and centre of dispersion somewhere in this region, were coalescing into nations, Babylonians along the lower Tigris and Euphrates, Assyrians later along the upper rivers, Hebrews under David and Solomon[3] by the Jordan, Phoenicians on the Mediterranean coast.

[Footnote 3: See Accession of Solomon, page 92.]

The early Babylonian civilization may antedate even the Egyptian; but its monuments were less permanent, its rulers less anxious for the future. The "appeal to posterity," the desire for a posthumous fame, seems with them to have been slower of conception. True, the first Babylonian monarchs of whom we have any record, in an era perhaps over five thousand years before Christianity, stamped the royal signet on every brick of their walls and temples. But common-sense suggests that this was less to preserve their fame than to preserve their bricks. Theft is no modern innovation.

They were a mathematical race, these Babylonians. In fact, Semite and mathematician are names that have been closely allied through all the course of history, and one cannot help but wish our Aryan race had somewhere lived through an experience which would produce in them the exactitude in balance and measurement of facts that has distinguished the Arabs and the Jews. The Babylonians founded astronomy and chronology; they recorded the movements of the stars, and divided their year according to the sun and moon. They built a vast and intricate network of canals to fertilize their land; and they arranged the earliest system of legal government, the earliest code of laws, that has come down to us.[4]

[Footnote 4: Compilation of the Earliest Code, page 14.]

The sciences, then, arise more truly here than with the Egyptians. Man here began to take notice, to record and to classify the facts of nature. We may count this the second visible step in his great progress. Never again shall we find him in a childish attitude of idle wonder. Always is his brain alert, striving to understand, self-conscious of its own power over nature.

It may have been wealth and luxury that enfeebled the Babylonians as, it did the Egyptians. At any rate, their empire was overturned by a border colony of their own, the Assyrians, a rough and hardy folk who had maintained themselves for centuries battling against tribes from the surrounding mountains. It was like a return to barbarism when about B.C. 880 the Assyrians swept over the various Semite lands. Loud were the laments of the Hebrews; terrible the tales of cruelty; deep the scorn with which the Babylonians submitted to the rude conquerors. We approach here a clearer historic period; we can trace with plainness the devastating track of war;[5] we can read the boastful triumph of the Assyrian chiefs, can watch them step by step as they adopt the culture and the vices of their new subjects, growing ever more graceful and more enfeebled, until they too are overthrown by a new and hardier race, the Persians, an Aryan folk.

[Footnote 5: See Rise and Fall of Assyria, page 105.]

Before turning to this last and most prominent family of humankind, let us look for a moment at the other, darker races, seen vaguely as they come in contact with the whites. The negroes, set sharply by themselves in Africa, never seem to have created any progressive civilization of their own, never seem to have advanced further than we find the wild tribes in the interior of the country to-day. But the yellow or Turanian races, the Chinese and Japanese, the Turks and the Tartars, did not linger so helplessly behind. The Chinese, at least, established a social world of their own, widely different from that of the whites, in some respects perhaps superior to it. But the fatal weakness of the yellow civilization was that it was not ennobling like the Egyptian, not scientific like the Babylonian, not adventurous and progressive as we shall find the Aryan.

This, of course, is speaking in general terms. Something somewhat ennobling there may be in the contemplations of Confucius;[6] but no man can favorably compare the Chinese character to-day with the European, whether we regard either intensity of feeling, or variety, range, subtlety, and beauty of emotion. So, also, the Chinese made scientific discoveries—but knew not how to apply them or improve them. So also they made conquests—and abandoned them; toiled—and sank back into inertia.

[Footnote 6: See Rise of Confucius, page 270.]

The Japanese present a separate problem, as yet little understood in its earlier stages.[7] As to the Tartars, wild and hardy horsemen roaming over Northern Asia, they kept for ages their independent animal strength and fierceness. They appear and disappear like flashes. They seem to seek no civilization of their own; they threaten again and again to destroy that of all the other races of the globe. Fitly, indeed, was their leader Attila once termed "the Scourge of God."

[Footnote 7: See Prince Jimmu, page 140.]


Of our own progressive Aryan race, we have no monuments nor inscriptions so old as those of the Hamites and the Semites. What comparative philology tells is this: An early, if not the original, home of the Aryans was in Asia, to the eastward of the Semites, probably in the mountain district back of modern Persia. That is, they were not, like the other whites, a people of the marsh lands and river valleys. They lived in a higher, hardier, and more bracing atmosphere. Perhaps it was here that their minds took a freer bent, their spirits caught a bolder tone. Wherever they moved they came as conquerors among other races.

In their primeval home and probably before the year B.C. 3000, they had already acquired a fair degree of civilization. They built houses, ploughed the land, and ground grain into flour for their baking. The family relations were established among them; they had some social organization and simple form of government; they had learned to worship a god, and to see in him a counterpart of their tribal ruler.

From their upland farms they must have looked eastward upon yet higher mountains, rising impenetrable above the snowline; but to north and south and west they might turn to lower regions; and by degrees, perhaps as they grew too numerous for comfort, a few families wandered off along the more inviting routes. Whichever way they started, their adventurous spirit led them on. We find no trace of a single case where hearts failed or strength grew weary and the movement became retrograde, back toward the ancient home. Spreading out, radiating in all directions, it is they who have explored the earth, who have measured it and marked its bounds and penetrated almost to its every corner. It is they who still pant to complete the work so long ago begun.

Before B.C. 2000 one of these exuded swarms had penetrated India, probably by way of the Indus River. In the course of a thousand years or so, the intruders expanded and fought their way slowly from the Indus to the Ganges. The earlier and duskier inhabitants gave way before them or became incorporated in the stronger race. A mighty Aryan or Hindu empire was formed in India and endured there until well within historic times.

Yet its power faded. Life in the hot and languid tropics tends to weaken, not invigorate, the sinews of a race. Then, too, a formal religion, a system of castes[8] as arbitrary as among the Egyptians, laid its paralyzing grip upon the land. About B.C. 600 Buddhism, a new and beautiful religion, sought to revive the despairing people; but they were beyond its help.[9] Their slothful languor had become too deep. From having been perhaps the first and foremost and most civilized of the Aryan tribes, the Hindus sank to be degenerate members of the race. We shall turn to look on them again in a later period; but they will be seen in no favorable light.

[Footnote 8: See The Formation of the Castes, page 52.]

[Footnote 9: See The Foundation of Buddhism, page 160.]

Meanwhile other wanderers from the Aryan home appear to the north and west. Perhaps even the fierce Tartars are an Aryan race, much altered from long dwelling among the yellow peoples. One tribe, the Persians, moved directly west, and became neighbors of the already noted Semitic group. After long wars backward and forward, bringing us well within the range of history, the Persians proved too powerful for the whole Semite group. They helped destroy Assyria,[10] they overthrew the second Babylonian empire which Nebuchadnezzar had built up, and then, pressing on to the conquest of Egypt, they swept the Hamites too from their place of sovereignty.[11]

[Footnote 10: See Destruction of Nineveh, page 105.]

[Footnote 11: See Conquests of Cyrus, page 250.]

How surely do those tropic lands avenge themselves on each new savage horde of invaders from the hardy North. It is not done in a generation, not in a century, perhaps. But drop by drop the vigorous, tingling, Arctic blood is sapped away. Year after year the lazy comfort, the loose pleasure, of the south land fastens its curse upon the mighty warriors. As we watch the Persians, we see their kings go mad, or become effeminate tyrants sending underlings to do their fighting for them. We see the whole race visibly degenerate, until one questions if Marathon[12] were after all so marvellous a victory, and suspects that at whatever point the Persians had begun their advance on Europe they would have been easily hurled back.

[Footnote 12: See The Battle of Marathon, page 322.]

It was in Europe only that the Aryan wanderers found a temperate climate, a region similar to that in which they had been bred. Recent speculation has even suggested that Europe was their primeval home, from which they had strayed toward Asia, and to which they now returned. Certainly it is in Europe that the race has continued to develop. Earliest of these Aryan waves to take possession of their modern heritage, were the Celts, who must have journeyed over the European continent at some dim period too remote even for a guess. Then came the Greeks and Latins, closely allied tribes, representing possibly a single migration, that spread westward along the islands and peninsulas of the Mediterranean. The Teutons may have left Asia before B.C. 1000, for they seem to have reached their German forests by three centuries beyond that time, and these vast migratory movements were very slow. The latest Aryan wave, that of the Slavs, came well within historic times. We almost fancy we can see its movement. Russian statesmen, indeed, have hopes that this is not yet completed. They dream that they, the youngest of the peoples, are yet to dominate the whole.


Of these European Aryans the only branches that come within the limits of our present period, that become noteworthy before B.C. 480, are the Greeks and Latins.

Their languages tell us that they formed but a single tribe long after they became separated from the other peoples of their race. Finally, however, the Latins, journeying onward, lost sight of their friends, and it must have taken many centuries of separation for the two tongues to grow so different as they were when Greeks and Romans, each risen to a mighty nation, met again.

The Greeks, or Hellenes as they called themselves, seem to have been only one of a number of kindred tribes who occupied not only the shores of the AEgean, but Thrace, Macedonia, a considerable part of Asia Minor, and other neighboring regions. The Greeks developed in intellect more rapidly than their neighbors, outdistanced them in the race for civilization, forgot these poor relations, and grouped them with the rest of outside mankind under the scornful name "barbarians."

Why it was that the Greeks were thus specially stimulated beyond their brethren we do not know. It has long been one of the commonplaces of history to declare them the result of their environment. It is pointed out that in Greece they lived amid precipitous mountains, where, as hunters, they became strong and venturesome, independent and self-reliant. A sea of islands lay all around; and while an open ocean might only have awed and intimidated them, this ever-luring prospect of shore beyond shore rising in turn on the horizon made them sailors, made them friendly traffickers among themselves. Always meeting new faces, driving new bargains, they became alert, quick-witted, progressive, the foremost race of all the ancient world.

They do not seem to have been a creative folk. They only adapted and carried to a higher point what they learned from the older nations with whom they now came in contact. Phoenicia supplied them with an alphabet, and they began the writing of books. Egypt showed them her records, and, improving on her idea, they became historians. So far as we know, the earliest real "histories" were written in Greece; that is, the earliest accounts of a whole people, an entire series of events, as opposed to the merely individual statements on the Egyptian monuments, the personal, boastful clamor of some king.

Before we reach this period of written history we know that the Greeks had long been civilized. Their own legends scarce reach back farther than the first founding of Athens,[13] which they place about B.C. 1500. Yet recent excavations in Crete have revealed the remains of a civilization which must have antedated that by several centuries.

[Footnote 13: See Theseus Founds Athens, page 45.]

But we grope in darkness! The most ancient Greek book that has come down to us is the Iliad, with its tale of the great war against Troy.[14] Critics will not permit us to call the Iliad a history, because it was not composed, or at least not written down, until some centuries after the events of which it tells. Moreover, it poetizes its theme, doubtless enlarges its pictures, brings gods and goddesses before our eyes, instead of severely excluding everything except what the blind bard perchance could personally vouch for.

[Footnote 14: See Fall of Troy, page 70.]

Still both the Iliad and the Odyssey are good enough history for most of us, in that they give a full, outline of Grecian life and society as Homer knew it. We see the little, petty states, with their chiefs all-powerful, and the people quite ignored. We see the heroes driving to battle in their chariots, guarded by shield and helmet, flourishing sword and spear. We learn what Ulysses did not know of foreign lands.. We hear Achilles' famed lament amid the dead, and note the vague glimmering idea of a future life, which the Greeks had caught perhaps from the Egyptians, perhaps from the suggestive land of dreams.

With the year B.C. 776 we come in contact with a clear marked chronology. The Greeks themselves reckoned from that date by means of olympiads or intervals between the Olympic games. The story becomes clear. The autocratic little city kings, governing almost as they pleased, have everywhere been displaced by oligarchies. The few leading nobles may name one of themselves to bear rule, but the real power lies divided among the class. Then, with the growing prominence of the Pythian games[15] we come upon a new stage of national development. The various cities begin to form alliances, to recognize the fact that they may be made safer and happier by a larger national life. The sense of brotherhood begins to extend beyond the circle of personal acquaintance.

[Footnote 15: See Pythian Games at Delphi, page 181.]

This period was one of lawmaking, of experimenting. The traditions, the simple customs of the old kingly days, were no longer sufficient for the guidance of the larger cities, the more complicated circles of society, which were growing up. It was no longer possible for a man who did not like his tribe to abandon it and wander elsewhere with his family and herds. The land was too fully peopled for that. The dissatisfied could only endure and grumble and rebel. One system of law after another was tried and thrown aside. The class on whom in practice a rule bore most hard, would refuse longer assent to it. There were uprisings, tumults, bloody frays.

Sparta, at this time the most prominent of the Greek cities, evolved a code which made her in some ways the wonder of ancient days. The state was made all-powerful; it took entire possession of the citizen, with the purpose of making him a fighter, a strong defender of himself and of his country. His home life was almost obliterated, or, if you like, the whole city was made one huge family. All men ate in common; youth was severely restrained; its training was all for physical hardihood. Modern socialism, communism, have seldom ventured further in theory than the Spartans went in practice. The result seems to have been the production of a race possessed of tremendous bodily power and courage, but of stunted intellectual growth. The great individual minds of Greece, the thinkers, the creators, did not come from Sparta.

In Athens a different regime was meanwhile developing Hellenes of another type. A realization of how superior the Greeks were to earlier races, of what vast strides man was making in intelligence and social organization, can in no way be better gained than by comparing the law code of the Babylonian Hammurabi with that of Solon in Athens.[16] A period of perhaps sixteen hundred years separates the two, but the difference in their mental power is wider still.

[Footnote 16: See Solon's Legislation, page 203, and Compilation of the Earliest Code, page 14.]

While the Greeks were thus forging rapidly ahead, their ancient kindred, the Latins, were also progressing, though at a rate less dazzling. The true date of Rome's founding we do not know. Her own legends give B.C. 753.[17] But recent excavations on the Palatine hill show that it was already fortified at a much earlier period. Rome, we believe, was originally a frontier fortress erected by the Latins to protect them from the attacks of the non-Aryan races among whom they had intruded. This stronghold became ever more numerously peopled, until it grew into an individual state separate from the other Latin cities.

[Footnote 17: See The Foundation of Rome, page 116.]

The Romans passed through the vicissitudes which we have already noted in Greece as characteristic of the Aryan development. The early war leader became an absolute king, his power tended to become hereditary, but its abuse roused the more powerful citizens to rebellion, and the kingdom vanished in an oligarchy.[18] This last change occurred in Rome about B.C. 510, and it was attended by such disasters that the city sank back into a condition that was almost barbarous when compared with her opulence under the Tarquin kings.

[Footnote 18: See Rome Established as a Republic, page 300.]

It was soon after this that the Persians, ignorant of their own decadence, and dreaming still of world power, resolved to conquer the remaining little states lying scarce known along the boundaries of their empire. They attacked the Greeks, and at Marathon (B.C. 490) and Salamis (B.C. 480) were hurled back and their power broken.[19]

[Footnote 19: See Battle of Marathon, page 322, and Invasion of Greece, page 354.]

This was a world event, one of the great turning points, a decision that could not have been otherwise if man was really to progress. The degenerate, enfeebled, half-Semitized Aryans of Asia were not permitted to crush the higher type which was developing in Europe. The more vigorous bodies and far abler brains of the Greeks enabled them to triumph over all the hordes of their opponents. The few conquered the many; and the following era became one of European progress, not of Asiatic stagnation.



B.C. 5867[20]


It is a far cry to hark back to 11,000 years before Christ, yet borings in the valley of the Nile, whence comes the first recorded history of the human race, have unveiled to the light pottery and other relics of civilization that, at the rate of deposits of the Nile, must have taken at least that number of years to cover.

[Footnote 20: Champollion.]

Nature takes countless thousands of years to form and build up her limestone hills, but buried deep in these we find evidences of a stone age wherein man devised and made himself edged tools and weapons of rudely chipped stone. These shaped, edged implements, we have learned, were made by white-heating a suitable flint or stone and tracing thereon with cold water the pattern desired, just as practised by the Indians of the American continent, and in our day by the manufacturers of ancient (sic) arrow-, spear-, and axe-heads. This shows a civilization that has learned the method of artificially producing fire, and its uses.

Egypt is the monumental land of the earth, as the Egyptians are the monumental people of history. The first human monarch to reign over all Egypt was Menes, the founder of Memphis. As the gate of Africa, Egypt has always held an important position in world-politics. Its ancient wealth and power were enormous. Inclusive of the Soudan, its population is now more than eight millions. Its present importance is indicated by its relations to England. Historians vary in their compilations of Egyptian chronology. The epoch of Menes is fixed by Bunsen at B.C. 3643, by Lepsius at B.C. 3892, and by Poole at B.C. 2717. Before Menes Egypt was divided into independent kingdoms. It has always been a country of mysteries, with the mighty Nile, and its inundations, so little understood by the ancients; its trackless desert; its camels and caravans; its tombs and temples; its obelisks and pyramids, its groups of gods: Ra, Osiris, Isis, Apis, Horus, Hathor—the very names breathe suggestions of mystery, cruelty, pomp, and power. In the sciences and in the industrial arts the ancient Egyptians were highly cultivated. Much Egyptian literature has come down to us, but it is unsystematic and entirely devoid of style, being without lofty ideas or charms. In art, however, Egypt may be placed next to Greece, particularly in architecture.

The age of the Pyramid-builders was a brilliant one. They prove the magnificence of the kings and the vast amount of human labor at their disposal. The regal power at that time was very strong. The reign of Khufu or Cheops is marked by the building of the great pyramid. The pyramids were the tombs of kings, built in the necropolis of Memphis, ten miles above the modern Cairo. Security was the object as well as splendor.

As remarked by a great Egyptologist, the whole life of the Egyptian was spent in the contemplation of death; thus the tomb became the concrete thought. The belief of the ancient Egyptian was that so long as his body remained intact so was his immortality; whence arose the embalming of the great, and hence the immense structures of stone to secure the inviolability of the entombed monarch.

The monuments have as yet yielded no account of the events which tended to unite Egypt under the rule of one man; we can only surmise that the feudal principalities had gradually been drawn together into two groups, each of which formed a separate kingdom. Heliopolis became the chief focus in the north, from which civilization radiated over the wet plain and the marshes of the Delta.

Its colleges of priests had collected, condensed, and arranged the principal myths of the local regions; the Ennead to which it gave conception would never have obtained the popularity which we must acknowledge it had, if its princes had not exercised, for at least some period, an actual suzerainty over the neighboring plains. It was around Heliopolis that the kingdom of Lower Egypt was organized; everything there bore traces of Heliopolitan theories—the protocol of the kings, their supposed descent from Ra, and the enthusiastic worship which they offered to the sun.

The Delta, owing to its compact and restricted area, was aptly suited for government from one centre; the Nile valley proper, narrow, tortuous, and stretching like a thin strip on either bank of the river, did not lend itself to so complete a unity. It, too, represented a single kingdom, having the reed and the lotus for its emblems; but its component parts were more loosely united, its religion was less systematized, and it lacked a well-placed city to serve as a political and sacerdotal centre. Hermopolis contained schools of theologians who certainly played an important part in the development of myths and dogmas; but the influence of its rulers was never widely felt.

In the south, Siut disputed their supremacy, and Heracleopolis stopped their road to the north. These three cities thwarted and neutralized one another, and not one of them ever succeeded in obtaining a lasting authority over Upper Egypt. Each of the two kingdoms had its own natural advantages and its system of government, which gave to it a peculiar character, and stamped it, as it were, with a distinct personality down to its latest days. The kingdom of Upper Egypt was more powerful, richer, better populated, and was governed apparently by more active and enterprising rulers. It is to one of the latter, Mini or Menes of Thinis, that tradition ascribes the honor of having fused the two Egypts into a single empire, and of having inaugurated the reign of the human dynasties.

Thinis figured in the historic period as one of the least of Egyptian cities. It barely maintained an existence on the left bank of the Nile, if not on the exact spot now occupied by Girgeh, at least only a short distance from it. The principality of the Osirian Reliquary, of which it was the metropolis, occupied the valley from one mountain to the other, and gradually extended across the desert as far as the Great Theban Oasis. Its inhabitants worshipped a sky-god, Anhuri, or rather two twin gods, Anhuri-shu, who were speedily amalgamated with the solar deities and became a warlike personification of Ra.

Anhuri-shu, like all other solar manifestations, came to be associated with a goddess having the form or head of a lioness—a Sokhit, who took for the occasion the epithet of Mihit, the northern one. Some of the dead from this city are buried on the other side of the Nile, near the modern village of Mesheikh, at the foot of the Arabian chain, whose deep cliffs here approach somewhat near the river: the principal necropolis was at some distance to the east, near the sacred town of Abydos. It would appear that, at the outset, Abydos was the capital of the country, for the entire nome bore the same name as the city, and had adopted for its symbol the representation of the reliquary in which the god reposed.

In very early times Abydos fell into decay, and resigned its political rank to Thinis, but its religious importance remained unimpaired. The city occupied a long and narrow strip between the canal and the first slopes of the Libyan mountains. A brick fortress defended it from the incursions of the Bedouin, and beside it the temple of the god of the dead reared its naked walls. Here Anhuri, having passed from life to death, was worshipped under the name of Khontamentit, the chief of that western region whither souls repair on quitting this earth.

It is impossible to say by what blending of doctrines or by what political combinations this Sun of the Night came to be identified with Osiris of Mendes, since the fusion dates back to a very remote antiquity; it had become an established fact long before the most ancient sacred books were compiled. Osiris Khontamentit grew rapidly in popular favor, and his temple attracted annually an increasing number of pilgrims. The Great Oasis had been considered at first as a sort of mysterious paradise, whither the dead went in search of peace and happiness. It was called Uit, the Sepulchre; this name clung to it after it had become an actual Egyptian province, and the remembrance of its ancient purpose survived in the minds of the people, so that the "cleft," the gorge in the mountain through which the doubles journeyed toward it, never ceased to be regarded as one of the gates of the other world.

At the time of the New Year festivals, spirits flocked thither from all parts of the valley; they there awaited the coming of the dying sun, in order to embark with him and enter safely the dominions of Khontamentit. Abydos, even before the historic period, was the only town, and its god the only god, whose worship, practised by all Egyptians, inspired them all with an equal devotion.

Did this sort of moral conquest give rise, later on, to a belief in a material conquest by the princes of Thinis and Abydos, or is there an historical foundation for the tradition which ascribes to them the establishment of a single monarchy? It is the Thinite Menes, whom the Theban annalists point out as the ancestor of the glorious Pharaohs of the XVIII dynasty: it is he also who is inscribed in the Memphite chronicles, followed by Manetho, at the head of their lists of human kings, and all Egypt for centuries acknowledged him as its first mortal ruler.

It is true that a chief of Thinis may well have borne such a name, and may have accomplished feats which rendered him famous; but on closer examination his pretensions to reality disappear, and his personality is reduced to a cipher.

"This Menes, according to the priests, surrounded Memphis with dikes. For the river formerly followed the sand-hills for some distance on the Libyan side. Menes, having dammed up the reach about a hundred stadia to the south of Memphis, caused the old bed to dry up, and conveyed the river through an artificial channel dug midway between the two mountain ranges.

"Then Menes, the first who was king, having enclosed a space of ground with dikes, founded that town which is still called Memphis: he then made a lake around it to the north and west, fed by the river; the city he bounded on the east by the Nile." The history of Memphis, such as it can be gathered from the monuments, differs considerably from the tradition current in Egypt at the time of Herodotus.

It appears, indeed, that at the outset the site on which it subsequently arose was occupied by a small fortress, Anbu-hazu—the white wall—which was dependent on Heliopolis and in which Phtah possessed a sanctuary. After the "white wall" was separated from the Heliopolitan principality to form a nome by itself it assumed a certain importance, and furnished, so it was said, the dynasties which succeeded the Thinite. Its prosperity dates only, however, from the time when the sovereigns of the V and VI dynasties fixed on it for their residence; one of them, Papi I, there founded for himself and for his "double" after him, a new town, which he called Minnofiru, from his tomb. Minnofiru, which is the correct pronunciation and the origin of Memphis, probably signified "the good refuge," the haven of the good, the burying-place where the blessed dead came to rest beside Osiris.

The people soon forgot the true interpretation, or probably it did not fall in with their taste for romantic tales. They rather despised, as a rule, to discover in the beginnings of history individuals from whom the countries or cities with which they were familiar took their names: if no tradition supplied them with this, they did not experience any scruples in inventing one. The Egyptians of the time of the Ptolemies, who were guided in their philological speculations by the pronunciation in vogue around them, attributed the patronship of their city to a Princess Memphis, a daughter of its founder, the fabulous Uchoreus; those of preceding ages before the name had become altered thought to find in Minnofiru or "Mini Nofir," or "Menes the Good," the reputed founder of the capital of the Delta. Menes the Good, divested of his epithet, is none other than Menes, the first king of all Egypt, and he owes his existence to a popular attempt at etymology.

The legend which identifies the establishment of the kingdom with the construction of the city, must have originated at a time when Memphis was still the residence of the kings and the seat of government, at latest about the end of the Memphite period. It must have been an old tradition at the time of the Theban dynasties, since they admitted unhesitatingly the authenticity of the statements which ascribed to the northern city so marked a superiority over their own country. When the hero was once created and firmly established in his position, there was little difficulty in inventing a story about him which would portray him as a paragon and an ideal sovereign.

He was represented in turn as architect, warrior, and statesman; he had founded Memphis, he had begun the temple of Phtah, written laws and regulated the worship of the gods, particularly that of Hapis, and he had conducted expeditions against the Libyans. When he lost his only son in the flower of his age, the people improvised a hymn of mourning to console him—the "Maneros"—both the words and the tune of which were handed down from generation to generation.

He did not, moreover, disdain the luxuries of the table, for he invented the art of serving a dinner, and the mode of eating it in a reclining posture. One day, while hunting, his dogs, excited by something or other, fell upon him to devour him. He escaped with difficulty and, pursued by them, fled to the shore of Lake Moeris, and was there brought to bay; he was on the point of succumbing to them, when a crocodile took him on his back and carried him across to the other side. In gratitude he built a new town, which he called Crocodilopolis, and assigned to it for its god the crocodile which had saved him; he then erected close to it the famous labyrinth and a pyramid for his tomb.

Other traditions show him in a less favorable light. They accuse him of having, by horrible crimes, excited against him the anger of the gods, and allege that after a reign of sixty-two years he was killed by a hippopotamus which came forth from the Nile. They also relate that the Saite Tafnakhti, returning from an expedition against the Arabs, during which he had been obliged to renounce the pomp and luxuries of life, had solemnly cursed him, and had caused his imprecations to be inscribed upon a "stele"[21] set up in the temple of Amon at Thebes. Nevertheless, in the memory that Egypt preserved of its first Pharaoh, the good outweighed the evil. He was worshipped in Memphis, side by side with Phtah and Ramses II.; his name figured at the head of the royal lists, and his cult continued till the time of the Ptolemies.

[Footnote 21: The burned tile showing the impression of the stylus, made on the clay while plastic.—ED.]

His immediate successors have only a semblance of reality, such as he had. The lists give the order of succession, it is true, with the years of their reigns almost to a day, sometimes the length of their lives, but we may well ask whence the chroniclers procured so much precise information. They were in the same position as ourselves with regard to these ancient kings: they knew them by a tradition of a later age, by a fragment papyrus fortuitously preserved in a temple, by accidentally coming across some monument bearing their name, and were reduced, as it were, to put together the few facts which they possessed, or to supply such as were wanting by conjectures, often in a very improbable manner. It is quite possible that they were unable to gather from the memory of the past the names of those individuals of which they made up the first two dynasties. The forms of these names are curt and rugged, and indicative of a rude and savage state, harmonizing with the semi-barbaric period to which they are relegated: Ati the Wrestler, Teti the Runner, Qeunqoni the Crusher, are suitable rulers for a people the first duty of whose chief was to lead his followers into battle, and to strike harder than any other man in the thickest of the fight.

The inscriptions supply us with proofs that some of these princes lived and reigned:—Sondi, who is classed in the II dynasty, received a continuous worship toward the end of the III dynasty. But did all those who preceded him, and those who followed him, exist as he did? And if they existed, do the order and relation agree with actual truth? The different lists do not contain the same names in the same position; certain Pharaohs are added or suppressed without appreciable reason. Where Manetho inscribes Kenkenes and Ouenephes, the tables of the time of Seti I give us Ati and Ata; Manetho reckons nine kings to the II dynasty, while they register only five. The monuments, indeed, show us that Egypt in the past obeyed princes whom her annalists were unable to classify: for instance, they associated with Sondi a Pirsenu, who is not mentioned in the annals. We must, therefore, take the record of all this opening period of history for what it is—namely, a system invented at a much later date, by means of various artifices and combinations—to be partially accepted in default of a better, but without, according to it, that excessive confidence which it has hitherto received. The two Thinite dynasties, in direct descent from the fabulous Menes, furnish, like this hero himself, only a tissue of romantic tales and miraculous legends in the place of history. A double-headed stork, which had appeared in the first year of Teti, son of Menes, had foreshadowed to Egypt a long prosperity, but a famine under Ouenephes, and a terrible plague under Semempses, had depopulated the country; the laws had been relaxed, great crimes had been committed, and revolts had broken out.

During the reign of the Boethos a gulf had opened near Bubastis, and swallowed up many people, then the Nile had flowed with honey for fifteen days in the time of Nephercheres, and Sesochris was supposed to have been a giant in stature. A few details about royal edifices were mixed up with these prodigies. Teti had laid the foundation of the great palace of Memphis, Ouenephes had built the pyramids of Ko-kome near Saqqara. Several of the ancient Pharaohs had published books on theology, or had written treatises on anatomy and medicine; several had made laws called Kakou, the male of males, or the bull of bulls. They explained his name by the statement that he had concerned himself about the sacred animals; he had proclaimed as gods, Hapis of Memphis, Mnevis of Heliopolis, and the goat of Mendes.

After him, Binothris had conferred the right of succession upon all women of the blood-royal. The accession of the III dynasty, a Memphite one according to Manetho, did not at first change the miraculous character of this history. The Libyans had revolted against Necherophes, and the two armies were encamped before each other, when one night the disk of the moon became immeasurably enlarged, to the great alarm of the rebels, who recognized in this phenomenon a sign of the anger of heaven, and yielded without fighting. Tosorthros, the successor of Necherophes, brought the hieroglyphs and the art of stone-cutting to perfection. He composed, as Teti did, books of medicine, a fact which caused him to be identified with the healing god Imhotpu. The priests related these things seriously, and the Greek writers took them down from their lips with the respect which they offered to everything emanating from the wise men of Egypt.

What they related of the human kings was not more detailed, as we see, than their accounts of the gods. Whether the legends dealt with deities or kings, all that we know took its origin, not in popular imagination, but in sacerdotal dogma: they were invented long after the times they dealt with, in the recesses of the temples, with an intention and a method of which we are enabled to detect flagrant instances on the monuments.

Toward the middle of the third century before our era the Greek troops stationed on the southern frontier, in the forts at the first cataract, developed a particular veneration for Isis of Philae. Their devotion spread to the superior officers who came to inspect them, then to the whole population of the Thebaid, and finally reached the court of the Macedonian kings. The latter, carried away by force of example, gave every encouragement to a movement which attracted worshippers to a common sanctuary, and united in one cult two races over which they ruled. They pulled down the meagre building of the Saite period, which had hitherto sufficed for the worship of Isis, constructed at great cost the temple which still remains almost intact, and assigned to it considerable possessions in Nubia, which, in addition to gifts from private individuals, made the goddess the richest land-owner in Southern Egypt. Knumu and his two wives, Anukit and Satit, who, before Isis, had been the undisputed suzerains of the cataract, perceived with jealousy their neighbor's prosperity: the civil wars and invasions of the centuries immediately preceding had ruined their temples, and their poverty contrasted painfully with the riches of the new-comer.

The priests resolved to lay this sad state of affairs before King Ptolemy, to represent to him the services which they had rendered and still continued to render to Egypt, and above all to remind him of the generosity of the ancient Pharaohs, whose example, owing to the poverty of the times, the recent Pharaohs had been unable to follow. Doubtless authentic documents were wanting in their archives to support their pretensions: they therefore inscribed upon a rock, in the island of Sehel, a long inscription which they attributed to Zosiri of the III dynasty. This sovereign had left behind him a vague reputation for greatness. As early as the XII dynasty Usirtasen III had claimed him as "his father"—his ancestor—and had erected a statue to him; the priests knew that, by invoking him, they had a chance of obtaining a hearing.

The inscription which they fabricated set forth that in the eighteenth year of Zosiri's reign he had sent to Madir, lord of Elephantine, a message couched in these terms: "I am overcome with sorrow for the throne, and for those who reside in the palace, and my heart is afflicted and suffers greatly because the Nile has not risen in my time, for the space of eight years. Corn is scarce, there is a lack of herbage, and nothing is left to eat: when any one calls upon his neighbors for help, they take pains not to go. The child weeps, the young man is uneasy, the hearts of the old men are in despair, their limbs are bent, they crouch on the earth, they fold their hands; the courtiers have no further resources; the shops formerly furnished with rich wares are now filled only with air, all that was within them has disappeared. My spirit also, mindful of the beginning of things, seeks to call upon the savior who was here where I am, during the centuries of the gods, upon Thot-Ibis, that great wise one, upon Imhotpu, son of Phtah of Memphis. Where is the place in which the Nile is born? Who is the god or goddess concealed there? What is his likeness?"

The lord of Elephantine brought his reply in person. He described to the king, who was evidently ignorant of it, the situation of the island and the rocks of the cataract, the phenomena of the inundation, the gods who presided over it, and who alone could relieve Egypt from her disastrous plight.

Zosiri repaired to the temple of the principality and offered the prescribed sacrifices; the god arose, opened his eyes, panted, and cried aloud, "I am Khnumu who created thee!" and promised him a speedy return of a high Nile and the cessation of the famine.

Pharaoh was touched by the benevolence which his divine father had shown him; he forthwith made a decree by which he ceded to the temple all his rights of suzerainty over the neighboring nomes within a radius of twenty miles.

Henceforward the entire population, tillers and vinedressers, fishermen and hunters, had to yield the tithe of their income to the priests; the quarries could not be worked without the consent of Khnumu, and the payment of a suitable indemnity into his coffers; finally, metals and precious woods, shipped thence for Egypt, had to submit to a toll on behalf of the temple.

Did the Ptolemies admit the claims which the local priests attempted to deduce from this romantic tale? and did the god regain possession of the domains and dues which they declared had been his right? The stele shows us with what ease the scribes could forge official documents when the exigencies of daily life forced the necessity upon them; it teaches us at the same time how that fabulous chronicle was elaborated, whose remains have been preserved for us by classical writers. Every prodigy, every fact related by Manetho, was taken from some document analogous to the supposed inscription of Zosiri.

The real history of the early centuries, therefore, eludes our researches, and no contemporary record traces for us those vicissitudes which Egypt passed through before being consolidated into a single kingdom, under the rule of one man. Many names, apparently of powerful and illustrious princes, had survived in the memory of the people; these were collected, classified, and grouped in a regular manner into dynasties, but the people were ignorant of any exact facts connected with the names, and the historians, on their own account, were reduced to collect apocryphal traditions for their sacred archives.

The monuments of these remote ages, however, cannot have entirely disappeared: they existed in places where we have not as yet thought of applying the pick, and chance excavations will some day most certainly bring them to light. The few which we do possess barely go back beyond the III dynasty: namely, the hypogeum of Shiri, priest of Sondi and Pirsenu; possibly the tomb of Khuithotpu at Saqqara; the Great Sphinx of Gizeh; a short inscription on the rocks of Wady Maghara, which represents Zosiri (the same king of whom the priests of Khnumu in the Greek period made a precedent) working the turquoise or copper mines of Sinai; and finally the step pyramid where this Pharaoh rests. It forms a rectangular mass, incorrectly oriented, with a variation from the true north of 4 deg. 35', 393 ft., 8 in. long from east to west, and 352 ft. deep, with a height of 159 ft. 9 in. It is composed of six cubes, with sloping sides, each being about 13 ft. less in width than the one below it; that nearest to the ground measures 37 ft. 8 in. in height, and the uppermost one 29 ft. 2 in.

It was entirely constructed of limestone from neighboring mountains. The blocks are small and badly cut, the stone courses being concave, to offer a better resistance to downward thrust and to shocks of earthquake. When breaches in the masonry are examined, it can be seen that the external surface of the steps has, as it were, a double stone facing, each facing being carefully dressed. The body of the pyramid is solid, the chambers being cut in the rock beneath. These chambers have often been enlarged, restored, and reworked in the course of centuries, and the passages which connect them form a perfect labyrinth into which it is dangerous to venture without a guide. The columned porch, the galleries and halls, all lead to a sort of enormous shaft, at the bottom of which the architect had contrived a hiding-place, destined, no doubt, to contain the more precious objects of the funerary furniture. Until the beginning of this century the vault had preserved its original lining of glazed pottery. Three quarters of the wall surface was covered with green tiles, oblong and lightly convex on the outer side, but flat on the inner: a square projection pierced with a hole served to fix them at the back in a horizontal line by means of flexible wooden rods. Three bands which frame one of the doors are inscribed with the titles of the Pharaoh. The hieroglyphs are raised in either blue, red, green, or yellow, on a fawn-colored ground.

The towns, palaces, temples, all the buildings which princes and kings had constructed to be witnesses of their power or piety to future generations, have disappeared in the course of ages, under the feet and before the triumphal blasts of many invading hosts: the pyramid alone has survived, and the most ancient of the historic monuments of Egypt is a tomb.


B.C. 2250


The foundation of all law-making in Babylonia from about the middle of the twenty-third century B.C. to the fall of the empire was the code of Hammurabi, the first king of all Babylonia. He expelled invaders from his dominions, cemented the union of north and south Babylonia, made Babylon the capital, and thus consolidated an empire which endured for almost twenty centuries. The code which he compiled is the oldest known in history, older by nearly a thousand years than the Mosaic, and of earlier date than the so-called Laws of Manu. It is one of the most important historical landmarks in existence, a document which gives us knowledge not otherwise furnished of the country and people, the civilization and life of a great centre of human action hitherto almost hidden in obscurity. Hammurabi, who is supposed to be identical with Amraphel, a contemporary of Abraham, is regarded as having certainly contributed through his laws to the Hebrew traditions. The discovery of this code has, therefore, a special value in relation to biblical studies, upon which so many other important side-lights have recently been thrown.

The discovery was made at Susa, Persia, in December and January, 1901-2, by M. de Morgan's French excavating expedition. The monument on which the laws are inscribed, a stele of black diorite nearly eight feet high, has been fully described by Assyriologists, and the inscription transcribed. It has been completely translated by Dr. Hugo Winckler, whose translation (in Die Gesetze Hammurabis, Band IV, Heft 4, of Der Alte Orient) furnishes the basis of the version herewith presented. Following an autobiographic preface, the text of the code contains two hundred and eighty edicts and an epilogue. To readers of the code who are familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures many biblical parallels will occur.

When Anu the Sublime, king of the Anunaki, and Bel [god of the earth], the Lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk [or Merodach, the great god of Babylon] the over-ruling son of Ea [god of the waters], God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it [Babylon], whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash [the sun-god], and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.

Hammurabi, the prince, called of Bel am I, making riches and increase, enriching Nippur and Dur-ilu beyond compare, sublime patron of E-kur [temple of Bel in Nippur, the seat of Bel's worship]; who reestablished Eridu and purified the worship of E-apsu [temple of Ea, at Eridu, the chief seat of Ea's worship]; who conquered the four quarters of the world, made great the name of Babylon, rejoiced the heart of Marduk, his lord who daily pays his devotions in Saggil [Marduk's temple in Babylon]; the royal scion whom Sin made; who enriched Ur [Abraham's birthplace, the seat of the worship of Sin, the moon-god]; the humble, the reverent, who brings wealth to Gish-shir-gal; the white king, heard of Shamash, the mighty, who again laid the foundations of Sippana [seat of worship of Shamash and his wife, Malkat]; who clothed the gravestones of Malkat with green [symbolizing the resurrection of nature]; who made E-babbar [temple of the sun in Sippara] great, which is like the heavens; the warrior who guarded Larsa and renewed E-babbar [temple of the sun in Larsa, biblical Elassar, in Southern Babylonia], with Shamash as his helper; the lord who granted new life to Uruk [biblical Erech], who brought plenteous water to its inhabitants, raised the head of E-anna [temple of Ishtar-Nana at Uruk], and perfected the beauty of Anu and Nana; shield of the land, who reunited the scattered inhabitants of Isin; who richly endowed E-gal-mach [temple of Isin]; the protecting king of the city, brother of the god Zamama [god of Kish]; who firmly founded the farms of Kish, crowned E-me-te-ursag [sister city of Kish] with glory, redoubled the great holy treasures of Nana, managed the temple of Harsag-kalama [temple of Nergal at Cuthah]; the grave of the enemy, whose help brought about the victory; who increased the power of Cuthah; made all glorious in E-shidlam [a temple], the black steer [title of Marduk] who gored the enemy; beloved of the god Nebo, who rejoiced the inhabitants of Borsippa, the Sublime; who is indefatigable for E-zida [temple of Nebo in Babylon]; the divine king of the city; the White, Wise; who broadened the fields of Dilbat, who heaped up the harvests for Urash; the Mighty, the lord to whom come sceptre and crown, with which he clothes himself; the Elect of Ma-ma; who fixed the temple bounds of Kesh, who made rich the holy feasts of Nin-tu [goddess of Kesh]; the provident, solicitous, who provided food and drink for Lagash and Girsu, who provided large sacrificial offerings for the temple of Ningirsu [at Lagash]; who captured the enemy, the Elect of the oracle who fulfilled the prediction of Hallab, who rejoiced the heart of Anunit [whose oracle had predicted victory]; the pure prince, whose prayer is accepted by Adad [god of Hallab, with goddess Anunit]; who satisfied the heart of Adad, the warrior, in Karkar, who restored the vessels for worship in E-ud-gal-gal; the king who granted life to the city of Adab; the guide of E-mach; the princely king of the city, the irresistible warrior, who granted life to the inhabitants of Mashkanshabri, and brought abundance to the temple of Shid-lam; the White, Potent, who penetrated the secret cave of the bandits, saved the inhabitants of Malka from misfortune, and fixed their home fast in wealth; who established pure sacrificial gifts for Ea and Dam-gal-nun-na, who made his kingdom everlastingly great; the princely king of the city, who subjected the districts on the Ud-kib-nun-na Canal [Euphrates?] to the sway of Dagon, his Creator; who spared the inhabitants of Mera and Tutul; the sublime prince, who makes the face of Ninni shine; who presents holy meals to the divinity of Nin-a-zu, who cared for its inhabitants in their need, provided a portion for them in Babylon in peace; the shepherd of the oppressed and of the slaves; whose deeds find favor before Anunit, who provided for Anunit in the temple of Dumash in the suburb of Agade; who recognizes the right, who rules by law; who gave back to the city of Assur its protecting god; who let the name of Istar of Nineveh remain in E-mish-mish; the Sublime, who humbles himself before the great gods; successor of Sumula-il; the mighty son of Sin-muballit; the royal scion of Eternity; the mighty monarch, the sun of Babylon, whose rays shed light over the land of Sumer and Akkad; the king, obeyed by the four quarters of the world; Beloved of Ninni, am I.

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