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been able, and perhaps on the same charge of excessive goodness, compelled his subjects to labor, unpaid and almost unfed,” upon the pyramids, too vast to be raised or to be begun where the lower classes were mercifully ruled. The more turbulent warriors may have been as much in the way of royal gentleness as the haughtier priests; but the power of the monarchy itself was, at last, the greatest hindrance to its righteous exercise. The king, who was in theory “a mighty lover of truth,” was also in theory incapable of doing wrong.” Nor is the virtue of his having emancipated himself and his caste, if we suppose Sesostris to have done so much, from superstitious dependence upon the priesthood, to be exaggerated. Though born of the warriors, he was admitted by initiation among the priests.” His attendants were young men of the sacerdotal families;” his partners in civil authority were of the same order;” and in every solemn ceremony, as in every magnificent festival, the priests were his ministers and his guides. Their authority, therefore, is not to be undervalued, even when the days of their supreme dominion were passed away. As Joseph spared them in the great famine, so, although richest, both as an order and as individuals, amongst their countrymen, they were always free from charges of money,” or any services besides those they would rather seek than avoid. Their votes were the most important at the election of a king; and when the crown passed from one head to another without election, they were still “the wise counsellors of Pharaoh,” whose opinions were generally consulted, if not always obeyed. Their religious authority was scarcely disturbed amidst the changes which transferred many of their civil powers to other hands. Superstition yet triumphed, while they interpreted the oracles to which the whole nation had recourse, and served before the shrines which not the king himself would have approached alone. The knowledge they had was of sciences and arts as well as mysteries; it was the source of an authority which no revolutions could close to them, or open, without their will, to the rest of their race. At first the parents and afterwards the offspring of Egyptian civilization, they were born to the inheritance of heavenly and of earthly learning, such as had then been reached by mortal minds. Their world of prodigies” has survived them; and it is in the hieroglyphic of the temples or the emblem of the monuments, to which their secrets were confided, that the history of Egypt is still to be sought with unwearied deciphering. Architecture was their peculiar art, and the one through which their power over the masses is, as it was, most plainly apparent; though there were monarchs, and, very likely, warriors also, to imitate their example, and build their own massive piles with the toil of the swarming poor. The palace of the king was built in imitation of the sanctuary, and his statues were fashioned after the divine images with which the temple was adorned.” It was not alone in architecture, however, that the wisdom of the Egyptians was celebrated from century to century” amongst the neighbouring nations. Astronomy and physics, medicine and agriculture, prophecy and history,” were the work and the property of one great class, to which all other ranks were intellectually, even if there were some to escape being politically, inferior. The king, as will be remembered, obtained these privileges by initiation; and many of his caste, as may be conjectured, rose up, through their connection with him as a body, or through their associations amongst the priests as individuals, to nearly the same elevation. Yet the dignity of the priesthood was scarcely the less imposing because their robes were drawn aside before one class at least, by whom their faces and their forms might be seen for what they really were. Liberty, in India monopolized by the priests, was thus, through the activity and the changes of Egypt, extended to the warriors. Yet the other Egyptian castes were so completely subordinate, that it is difficult to procure any clear account of them; but there are details in every history into which the Christian need not desire to penetrate, if they be obscure. Diodorus speaks of three classes, inferior to the priests and the warriors, which he styles shepherds, husbandmen, and artisans;* but Herodotus enumerates five, of cowherds, swineherds, traders, interpreters, and boatmen.” It is probable that the latter division was a modification of the former,” which must have been the earlier one; for there was no need of interpreters until foreigners began to serve the later kings as mercenaries. The other names explain themselves. But in either list there is an omission of slaves as a distinct class; not, certainly, because there were none in Egypt, but perhaps because they were counted with the herdsmen, unless, as is more probable, they were rather left out of the castes altogether, as strangers.” The existence of the inferior castes is undoubtedly to be explained by the early conquests” of which they were especially the victims; while their varieties arose very naturally from the differences of race and soil and occupation amongst the Egyptians who belonged to them. The exuberant valley of the Nile would never be inhabited by the same sort of people who wandered over the neighbouring deserts; while on the mountains of the east there would be found other tribes than those which dwelt upon the plains along the Mediterranean. It is of much greater importance to estimate the distance between the higher and lower classes, and to recount the toils to which the mass of the people were compelled. The great public works, the rivers, the cities, and the hills of stone, required immense numbers of laborers, who would be supplied from herdsmen, or husbandmen, or traders, as they could 59) about A. C. 650. Lastly, the 3’ “Die Ägyptische Kasteneinboatmen were for the Nile, and for theilung ist sehr alt; sie beweist the inundated country when the Nile sichereinefremde Eroberung.” Nieoverflowed. buhr, Vort. Alt. Geschichte, Vol. I.
20 Herodotus (II. 125) gives a curious account, however, of the money expended upon “radishes, leeks, and garlic,” for the laborers; and there is even a hint that they had something besides. Compare the remembrances of the Israelites at Taberah, Numbers, XI. 5. 21 Inscription quoted by Sir Gardner Wilkinson in his work on the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, Vol. I. p. 251, note. 22 Diod. Sic., I. 70. 23 “Previously to his election.” Bunsen, Egypt, etc., Vol. I. p. 19. See Plut., Is. et Osir., IX.
Plutarch, one of our continual companions through ancient history, lived from about A. D. 50 to a good old age. He was a native of Chaeronea in Boeotia, and the author of biographies and treatises that are, most of them, the former especially, invaluable.
24 Diod. Sic., I. 70.
25 Ten priests from each of the three principal cities, making thirty in all, were, with the king, the members of the supreme judicial tribunal. Diod. Sic, I. 75. They were also the depositaries of the sacred laws of Hermes, “the first
germ,” says Bunsen (Vol. I. p. 20),
cise of the priestly influence over
* “Ce monde d'enchantemens.” 30 1 Kings, IV. 30. Acts, VII. Sismondi, Etudes Econ. Polit., 22. 1er Essai. 31 Certain sacred books were par
29 Müller's Ancient Art, Sect. ticularly kept as annals. Diod. Sic., 225. I. 46, 73. Herod., II. 99, 100.
32 I. 74. by uniting the warriors and the hus
33 II. 164.
34 The whole subject, however, is involved in difficulties. “The first caste was the sacerdotal order; the second, the soldiers and peasants, or agricultural class; the third was that of the townsmen ; and the fourth, the plebs or common people.” Such is the account of Sir G. Wilkinson (Anc. Egypt., Vol. I. pp. 237 et seq.), who thus attempts to harmonize the various descriptions of the Egyptian castes
bandmen into one ; for which there is some authority in Diod. Sic., I. 28. Herodotus's division may need a word or two of commentary. The cowherds and swineherds were distinct, because swine were inferior animals. The name for the traders in Greek is kámkot, which answers to our “peddlers,” and was perhaps purposely used to show the small estimation in which their caste was held. The interpreters were introduced under Psammetichus (see p. 35 As Pastoret maintains, Hist. de p. 66. la Lég., I. 220.