A comprehensive narrative of the rise and development of nations as recorded by over two thousand of the great writers of all ages: edited, with the assistance of a distinguished board of advisers and contributors by Henry Smith Williams LLD in twenty-five volumes - Volume 1: Prolegomena; Egypt, Mesopotamia
The History Association London and New York
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Copyright, 1904,1907 By HENRY SMITH WILLIAMS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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Contributors, and Editorial Revisers
The Historians' History of the World is in one sense of the word a compilation, but it is a compilation of unique character. The main bulk of the work is made up of direct quotations from authorities, cited with scrupulous exactness; but so novel is our method of handling this material that the casual reader might scan chapter after chapter without suspecting that the whole is not the work of a single writer. Yet every quotation, whatever its length, is explicitly credited to its source, and the reader who wishes to know the names of the authors and works quoted may constantly satisfy his curiosity without the slightest difficulty. The key to identification of authorities is found in the unobtrusive reference letters (called by the printer “superior letters”), such as b, c, d, which are scattered through the text. These reference letters refer in each case to a “Brief Reference-List” at the end of the book, where, chapter by chapter, author and work are named. Should any work be quoted more than once in a chapter, the same reference letter is used to identify that work in each case.
The reference letters are used in two ways: they are either (1) placed at the end of a sentence, in which case they designate an actual quotation, or (2) they are placed against the name of an author, in which case they designate an authority cited but not necessarily quoted. Each reference letter at the end of a sentence refers to all the matter that precedes it back to the last similarly placed reference letter. The quotation thus designated may be of any length,—a few sentences or many pages. This quotation may contain reference letters of the second type just explained, but, if so, these may be altogether disregarded in determining the limits of the quotation; the context will make it clear that there is no change of authorship. On the other hand, however continuous the narrative may seem, a reference letter at the end of a sentence must always be understood to divide one quotation from another.
All this may seem a trifle complex as told here, but it will be found admirably simple and effective in practice. The reader has but to make the experiment, to find that he can trace the authorship of every line of the work without the slightest difficulty. It may be well to add, however, that the reference letter a is reserved for editorial matter, and that, very exceptionally, this letter is used in combination with another letter, as ab, ac, ad, to give credit for matter that has been editorially adapted, but not quoted verbatim. It is perhaps hardly necessary to explain that direct quotations, such as go to make up the bulk of our work, are often given in an abbreviated form through the omission of matter that is redundant or, for any reason, inadmissible. The necessity for such change is obvious, since otherwise the varied materials could not possibly be made to harmonise or to meet the needs of our space. But, beyond this, no liberty whatever is taken with matter presented as a direct quotation. Where editorial modification is thought necessary, the use of reference letters makes such modification feasible without introducing the slightest ambiguity. We repeat that every line of the work is ascribed to its proper source with the utmost fidelity. Any matter not otherwise accredited—as, for example, various introductions, chronologies, bibliographies, and the like—will be understood to be editorial. Brackets also indicate editorial matter.
Some General Considerations 1
The oriental period, 2. The classical historians, 3. The mediaeval and modern histories, 4.
Materials for the Writing of History .... 5
The Methods of the Historians .... 9
World Histories 13
The Present History 22
Introductory . 32
Cosmogony—Ancient and Modern Ideas as to the Origin of the World 33
COSMOLOGY AND GEOGRAPHY—ANCIENT AND MODERN IDEAS . . 38
The Antiquity of the Earth and of Man . . 40
The Races of Man and the Aryan Question . . .43
On Prehistoric Culture 45
Language, 44. Clothing and housing of prehistoric man, 46. The use of fire, 46. Implements of peace and war, 47. The domestication of animals, 47. Agriculture, 48. Government, 49. The arts of painting, sculpture, and decorative architecture, 50. The art of writing, 50.
Introductory Essay. Egypt as a World Influence. By Dr. Adolf Erman 57
Egyptian History in Outline (4400-332 b.c.) 65
The Egyptian Race and its Origin . . . .77
The country and its inhabitants, 81. Prehistoric Egypt, 88.
The Old Memphis Kingdom (ca. 4400-2700 b.c.) . . .90
The first dynasty, 90. The second dynasty, 92. The third dynasty, 92. The pyramid dynasty, 93. A modern account of the pyramids, 95. The builders of the pyramids, 98. The beautiful Nitocris, 104.
The Old Theban Kingdom (ca. 2700-1635 b.c.) . . .106
The eleventh dynasty, 106. The voyage to Punt, 108. The twelfth dynasty, 110. Monuments of the twelfth dynasty ; a classical view, 113. The ruins of Karnak, 115. The fall of the Theban kingdom, 117. The foreign rule, 118. The Hyksos rule ; the seventeenth dynasty, 121.
The Restoration (ca. 1635-1365 b.c.) . . . .126
Eighteenth dynasty, 126. The Hyksos expulsion : Aahmes and his successors, 127. Tehutimes II ; Queen Hatshepsu, 133. Triumphs of Tehutimes III ; his successors, 136.
The Nineteenth Dynasty (ca. 1365-1285 B.C.) . . . 141
King Seti, 142. Ramses (II) the Great, 144. The war-poem of Pentaur, 148. The kingdom of the Kheta and the nineteenth dynasty, 150. Death of Ramses II, 153.
The Finding of the Royal Mummies .... 155
How came these monarchs here ? 157.
The Period of Decay (Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties: ca. 1285-655 b.c.) 162
Meneptah, 162. From Setnekht to Ramses VIII and Meri-Amen Meri-Tmu, 166. The sorrows of a soldier, 170. Egypt under the dominion of mercenaries, 171. The Ethiopian conquest, 174. Table of contemporaneous dynasties, 179.
The Closing Scenes (Twenty-sixth to Thirty-first Dynasties: 655-322 b.c.) 180
Psamthek, 180. The good king Sabach (Shabak) and Psammetichus, 184. The restoration in Egypt, 185. The Persian conquest and the end of Egyptian autonomy, 188. The atrocities of Cambyses, 191.
Manners and Customs of the Egyptians . . . 196
The position of the king, 198. Weapons of war, 202. Battle methods, 205. Social customs, 208. The Egyptians as seen by Herodotus, 212. Homes- of the people, 216.
The Egyptian Religion 219
Religious festivals and offerings, 222. Gifts and riches of temples, 225. Diodorus on animal worship, 228. A modern account of the worship of Apis, the sacred bull, 232. The methods of embalming the dead, 236.
Egyptian Culture ...... 240
The hieroglyphics, 249. “By what characters, pictures, and images the learned Egyptians expressed the mysteries of their mindes,” 250. The riddle of the sphinx, 251. Literature, 257. The Castaway : a tale of the twelfth dynasty, 260.
CONCLUDING SUMMARY OF EGYPTIAN HISTORY . . . 263
Classical Traditions 267
Another ancient account of the Nile, 273. A Greek view of the origins of Egyptian history, 278.
The Problem of Egyptian Chronology . . 287
Manetho's table of the Egyptian dynasties, 291.
Brief Reference-List of Authorities by Chapters 293
A General Bibliography of Egyptian History 295
Introductory Essay. The Relations of Babylonia with other Semitic Countries. By Joseph Halevy 309
Mesopotamian History in Outline (6000-538 b.c.) 318
Land and People 337
The land, 338. Original peoples of Babylon : the Sumerians, 342. The Semitic Babylonians, 344. The original home of the Babylonian Semite, 347.
Old Babylonian History (ca. 4500-745 b.c.) . . . 349
The beginnings of history, 351. The rulers of Shirpurla, 351. Kings of Kish and Gishban, 356. The first dynasty of Ur, 359. Kings of Agade, 360. The kings of Ur, 363. Accession of a south Arabian dynasty, 363. The Kassite dynasty, 364. Assyrian conquest of Babylon, 364.
The Rise of Assyria (ca. 3000-726 b.c.) . . . . 366
Land and people, 369. Assyrian capitals: Asshur and Nineveh, 371. The rise of Assyria, 372. The first great Assyrian conqueror, 377. The reign and cruelty of Asshurnazirpal, 380. Shalmaneser II and his successors, 387. Tiglathpileser III, 391. Shalmaneser IV, 395.
Four Generations of Assyrian Greatness (722-626 b.c.) . . 397
Sennacherib, 403. Esarhaddon and Asshurbanapal, 416. Esarhaddon's reign, 419. Asshurbanapal's early years, 425. The Brothers' War, 431. The last wars of Asshurbanapal, 434.
The Decline and Fall of Assyria (626-606 b.c.) . . . 438
Last years and fall of the Assyrian Empire, 440.
Renascence and Fall of Babylon (555-538 b.c.) . . . 446
Contemporary chronology, 448. Nabopolassar and Nebuchadrezzar, 449. The followers of Nebuchadrezzar, 453. The reign of Nabonidus, 455.
Manners and Customs of Babylonia-Assyria . . . 460
War methods, 460. Our sources, 461. Assyrian war costumes and war methods, 468. The arts of peace in Babylonia-Assyria, 472. Babylon and its customs described by an eye-witness, 473. A later classical account of Babylon, 479. The commerce of the Babylonians, 484. Ships among the Assyrians, 491. Laws of the Babylonians and Assyrians, 494. Sale of a slave, 496. Sale of a house, 497. The code of Khammurabi, 498. The discovery of the code, 498. Miscellaneous regulations, 501. Regulations concerning slaves, 502. Provisions concerning robbery, 502. Concerning leases and tillage, 503. Concerning canals, 504. Commerce, debt, 504. Domestic legislation, divorce, inheritance, 505. Laws concerning adoption, 509. Laws of recompense, 509. Regulations concerning physicians and veterinary surgeons, 510. Illegal branding of slaves, 510. Regulations concerning builders, 511. Regulations concerning shipping, 511. Regulations concerning the hiring of animals, farming, wages, etc., 511. Regulations concerning the buying of slaves, 513.
The Religion of the Babylonians and Assyrians . . 515
The Assyrian story of the creation, 520. The Babylonian religion, 521. The epic of Gilgamish, 525. Ishtar's descent into Hades, 530.
Babylonian and Assyrian Culture .... 534
Literature and science, 536. Epistolary literature, 539. Art, 543. Assyrian art, 552. Assyrian sculpture and the evolution of art, 558. A classical estimate of Chaldean philosophy and astrology, 563. The Babylonian year, 565. The Babylonian day and its division into hours, 566. Assyrian science, 567.
Classical Traditions 571
The Creation and the Flood, described by Polyhistor, 573. Other classical fragments : of the Chaldean kings, 575. Of the Chaldean kings and the deluge, 576. Of the tower of Babel, 577. Of Abraham, 577. Of Nabonassar, 577. Of the destruction of the Jewish Temple, 577. Of Nebuchadrezzar, 577. Of the Chaldean kings after Nebuchadrezzar, 578. Of the feast of Sacea, 579. A fragment of Megasthenes concerning Nebuchadrezzar, 579. Ninus and Semiramis, 580. Semiramis builds a great city, 584. Semiramis begins a career of conquest, 588. Semiramis invades India, 589. Another view of Semiramis, 593. Reign of Ninyas to Sardanapalus, 594. The destruction of Nineveh, 598.
EXCAVATIONS IN MESOPOTAMIA AND THEIR RESULTS . . . 600
The ruins of Nineveh and M. Botta's first discovery, 600. Layard's discoveries at Nineveh, 604. Later discoveries in Babylonia and Assyria, 610. The results of the excavations, 612. Treasures from Nineveh, 613. The library of a king of Nineveh, 618. How the Assyrian books were read, 623.
Brief Reference-List of Authorities by Chapters 627
A General Bibliography of Mesopotamian History 629
Broadly speaking, the historians of all recorded ages seem to have had the same general aims. They appear always to seek either to glorify something or somebody, or to entertain and instruct their readers. The observed variety in historical compositions arises not from difference in general motive, but from varying interpretations of the relative status of these objects, and from differing judgments as to the manner of thing likely to produce these ends, combined, of course, with varying skill in literary composition, and varying degrees of freedom of action.
As to freedom of selective judgment, the earliest historians whose records are known to us exercised practically none at all. Their task was to glorify the particular monarch who commanded them to write. The records of a Ramses, a Sennacherib, or a Darius tell only of the successful campaigns, in which the opponent is so much as mentioned only in contrast with the prowess of the victor.
With these earliest historians, therefore, the ends of historical composition were met in the simplest way, by reciting the deeds, real or alleged, of a king, as Ramses, Sennacherib, or David; or of the gods, as Osiris, or Ishtar, or Yahveh. As to entertainment and instruction, the reader was expected to be overawed by the recital of mighty deeds, and to draw the conclusion that it would be well for him to do homage to the glorified monarch, human or divine.
A little later, in what may be termed the classical period, the historians had attained to a somewhat freer position and wider vision, and they sought to glorify heroes who were neither gods nor kings, but the representatives of the people in a more popular sense. Thus the Iliad dwells upon the achievements of Achilles and Ajax and Hector rather than upon the deeds of Menelaus and Priam, the opposing kings. Hitherto the deeds of all these heroes would simply have been transferred to the credit of the king. Now the individual of lesser rank is to have a hearing. Moreover, the state itself is now considered apart from its particular ruler. The histories of Herodotus, of Xenophon, of Thucydides, of Polybius, in effect make for the glorification, not of individuals, but of peoples.H.W. — VOL. I. B 1
This shift from the purely egoistic to the altruistic standpoint marks a long step. The writer now has much more clearly in view the idea of entertaining, without frightening, his reader; and he thinks to instruct in matters pertaining to good citizenship and communal morality rather than in deference to kings and gods. In so doing the historian marks the progress of civilisation of the Greek and early Roman periods.
In the mediaeval time there is a strong reaction. To frighten becomes again a method of attacking the consciousness; to glorify the gods and heroes a chief aim. As was the case in the Egyptian and Persian and Indian periods of degeneration, the early monotheism has given way to polytheism. Hagiology largely takes the place of secular history. A constantly growing Company of saints demands attention and veneration. To glorify these, to show the futility of all human action that does not make for such glorification, became again an aim of the historian. But this influence is by no means altogether dominant; and, though there is no such list of historians worthy to be remembered as existed in the classical period, yet such names appear as those of Einhard, the biographer of Charlemagne; De Joinville, the panegyrist of Saint Louis; Villani, Froissart, and Monstrelet, the chroniclers; and Comines, Machiavelli, and Guicciardini.
In the modern period the gods have been more or less disbanded, the heroes modified, even the kings subordinated. We hear much talk of the “philosophy” of history, even of the “science” of history. Common sense and the critical spirit are supposed to hold sway everywhere. Yet, after all, it would be too much to suppose that any historian even of the most modern school has written entirely without prejudice of race, of Station, or of religion. And in any event the same ideals, generally stated, are before the historian of to-day that have actuated his predecessors — to glorify something or somebody, though it be, perhaps, a principle and not a person; and to entertain and instruct his readers.
The earliest historians whose writings have come down to us are the authors of the records on the monuments of Egypt and of Mesopotamia. We shall see later on that these records, made in languages a knowledge of which has only been recovered in the past century, are full of historical interest because of the facts they narrate, and the insight they give us into the life of their times. For the moment, however, we are only concerned with the method of their construction. They are parts of records dating from many centuries before the beginning of the Christian era. Their authors are utterly unknown by name. The narrative is, indeed, in some cases, couched in the first person, but it is not to be supposed from this that the alleged writer — who, of course, is the king whose deeds are glorified— is the actual composer of the narrative. The actual scribes, mere adjuncts of the royal ménage, never dreamed of putting their own names on record beside those of their royal masters. Yet their work has preserved to future generations the names of kings that otherwise would have been absolutely forgotten. For example, Tehutimes III of Egypt and Asshurbarapal of Assyria, two of the most powerful monarchs of antiquity, had ceased to be remembered even by name several centuries before the dawn of our era, and for two thousand years no human being knew that such persons had ever existed. Yet now, thanks to the monuments, their deeds are almost as fully known to us as the deeds of an Alexander or a Caesar.
There is, indeed, one regard in which these most ancient historical records have an advantage over more recent works. They were for the most part graven in stone or stamped in clay that was burned to stonelike hardness, and they have come down to us with the assurances of authenticity which must always be lacking in many compositions of more recent periods. The Babylonian and Assyrian records lay buried with the ruins of cities whose very location had been forgotten for ages. The most recent of these records had been seen by no human eye for more than two thousand years. Their unnamed authors seem thus to speak to us directly across the centuries. However these earliest of historians may have dreamed of immortality for their work, they can hardly have hoped to speak to eager audiences in regions far beyond the limits of their world, twenty-five centuries after the very nation to which they belonged had vanished from the earth, and the language in which they wrote had ceased to be known to men. Yet that unique glory was reserved for them.The Classical Historians
It requires but a glance at the historians of the classical period to see how altered is the point of view from which they write. Here we have no longer men commanded by a monarch, or impelled by religious fervour to glorify a single person or epoch or country to the utter exclusion of everything else. We have bounded from insularity of view to universality. Even the Homeric legends deal with the events of two continents and of several countries. Herodotus and Diodorus make the writing of their histories a life-work. They travel from one country to another, and familiarise themselves with their subject as much as possible at first hand. They mingle with the scholars of many lands, and listen to their recitals of the annals of their respective peoples. They weigh and consider, though in a quite different mental balance from that which an historian uses in our day. They spend thirty, forty, years in composing their books. From them, then, we have, not simple chronicles of a single event, but universal histories. These are in many ways different from the universal histories of our own time; but in their frank, human way of looking out upon the world, they have a charm that is quite their own. In their interest for the general reader, they have perhaps never been excelled. And in their citation of fact and fable they become a storehouse upon which succeeding generations of historians have drawn to this day.
There are other historians of the period no less remarkable, some of them even superior, from some points of view, to these masters. The names of Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius among the Greeks, of Tacitus, Livy, Caesar among the Romans, to go no farther, are as familiar to every cultivated mind of our own day as the names of Gibbon, Macaulay, or Bancroft. Several of these were men who participated in the events they described, and, confining themselves to limited periods, treated these periods in such masterly fashion, with such breadth of view and discriminating judgment, that their verdicts have weight with all succeeding generations of historians. Thucydides, writing in the fifth century B.C., is regarded, even in our critical age, as a matchless writer of history. An oft-repeated tale relates that Macaulay despaired of ever equalling him, though feeling that he might hope to duplicate the work of any other historian. Polybius and Tacitus are mentioned with respect by the most exacting investigators. Clearly, then, this was a culminating epoch in the writing of histories.
We have seen that in the classical period the brief space of half a dozen generations saw a cluster of great histories written. No such intellectual activity in this direction marked the mediaeval period. Now for the space of more than a thousand years there was no work produced that could bear a moment's comparison with the great productions of the earlier periods. One theme was now dominant in the Western world, and the intellects that might have produced histories of broad scope under other circumstances contented themselves with harping on the one string. So we have ecclesiastical records in place of histories.
In due time the reaction came, but it was long before the influence of the dominant spirit was made subordinate to a saner view. Indeed, scarcely before our own generation, since the classical period, have historians been able to cast a clear and unbiased glance across the entire field of history.
Toward the middle of the eighteenth century a school of secular historians with broad views and high aims again arose. Now once more men sought to write world histories not dominated by a single idea. The first great exponents of the movement were Gibbon and Hume in England, Schlozzer and Müller in Germany. They have had a host of followers, of whom the greater number have been Germans.
The attitude of these modern writers is philosophical; they are disposed to recognise in the bald facts of human existence an importance commensurate solely with the lessons they can teach for the betterment of humanity. In this modern view, each fact must be correlated with a multitude of other facts before its true significance can be perceived. Events are, in this view, meaningless unless we know something of the human motives that led to their enactment. The task of the historian is to search for causes, to endeavour to build up from the lessons of history a true philosophy of living. It is really no different a task, as already pointed out, from that which such ancient writers as Polybius had very prominently in view; but there is an emphasis upon this phase of the subject in our time that it did not generally receive in the earlier age. In other words, the philosophy of history of our time is a more conscious philosophy. For a century past the phrase, “philosophy of history,” has been current, and it has been the custom for men who were not primarily historians to discourse on the subject. Latterly, following again the current of the times, we have come to speak even of the “science” of history; indeed, in Germany in particular, history to-day claims unchallenged position as a true science. The word “science” is a very flexible term, yet there are those who deny that it may be properly applied, as yet at any rate, to our aggregation of knowledge of historical facts. The question resolves itself into a matter of definition, the solution of which is not particularly important.
The essential thing is that the modern historical investigator is fully actuated by the spirit of scientific accuracy and impartiality. And since impartiality depends very largely upon breadth of view, it results rather» curiously that the minute investigations of the specialist make indirectly for the comprehensive view of the World Historian. Professor Freeman well expressed the idea when he said :
"My position is that in all our studies of history and language — and the study of language, besides all that it is in other ways, is one most important branch of the study of history — we must cast away all distinctions of ‘ancient’ and ‘modern,’ of ‘dead’ and ‘living,’ and must boldly grapple
with the great fact of the unity of history. As man is the same in all ages, the history of man is one in all ages. No language, no period of history, can be understood in its fullness; none can be clothed with its highest interest and its highest profit, if it be looked at wholly in itself, without reference to its bearing on those other languages, those other periods of history, which join with it to make up the great whole of human, or at least of Aryan and European, being."
Such a position as this, assumed by one of the most minute searchers among modern historians, is highly interesting as illustrative of a reactionary tendency which will probably characterise the historical work of the near future. Hair-splitting analysis having been carried to its limits of refinement, there will probably come a reaction in the direction of a more comprehensive study of historical events in their wider relations. The work of the specialist, after all, is really important only when it furnishes material for wider generalisations. All minute workers in the fields of biology, geology, and the allied sciences, in the first half of the nineteenth century were unconsciously gathering material which, interesting in itself, became of real importance chiefly in so far as it ultimately aided in elucidating the great generalisation of Darwin. Perhaps the minute historians of to-day are in similar position.
The special worker, imbued with enthusiasm for his subject, is apt to forget the real insignificance of his labours. Entire epochs are dominated by the idea of microscopic research, and the workers even come to suppose that microscopic analysis is in itself an end; whereas, rightly considered, it is only the means to an end. We are just passing through such an epoch as regards historical investigation. But, as just suggested, it seems probable that we are approaching a new epoch when the work of the specialist will be subordinated to its true purpose, while at the same time proving its real value as a means to the proper end of historical studies—the comprehension of the world-historical relations of events.
It is obvious that the materials for the writing of history consist for the most part of written records. It is true that all manner of monuments, including the ruins of buried cities, remains of ancient walls and highways, and all other traces of a former civilisation, must be allotted their share as records to guide the investigator in his attempt to reconstruct past conditions. But for anything like a definite presentation of the events of bygone days, it is absolutely essential, as Sir George Cornewall Lewis pointed out in great detail, to have access to contemporary written records, either at first hand, or through the medium of copyists, in case the original records themselves have been destroyed. Lewis reached the conclusion, as the result of his exhaustive examination of the credibility of early Roman history, that a tradition of a past event is hardly transmitted orally from generation to generation with anything like accuracy of detail for more than a century.
Theoretically, then, no accurate history could ever be constructed of events covering a longer period than about four generations before the introduction of writing. In actual practice the scope of the strictly historic view of man's progress is confined to very much narrower limits than this, for the simple reason that the earliest written records that might otherwise serve
to give us glimpses of remote history have very rarely been preserved. The destruction of ancient inscriptions with the lapse of centuries has led to a great deal of difference of opinion as to the time when the art of writing was introduced among various nations. In reference to the Greeks in particular, the dispute has been ardently waged, many scholars contending that the art of writing was little practised in Greece until the sixth century B.C.
Later discoveries, in particular a knowledge of the inscription on the statue of Ramses at Abu Simbel, have made it clear that the earlier estimates were much too conservative, and it now seems probable that the Greeks had been acquainted with the art of writing for several, or perhaps many, centuries before the one previously fixed upon. It is not to be supposed, however, that the practice of the art of writing was universal in that early day. On the other hand, it was doubtless very exceptional indeed for the average individual to be able to write, and such difficulties as the lack of writing material stood in the way of composition until a relatively late period. But whether the art of writing was much or little practised in the early days does not greatly matter so far as the present-day historian is concerned, since practically all specimens of early writing in Greece disappeared in the course of succeeding ages. No fragment of any book proper, no scrap of parchment or papyrus, no single waxen tablet, from the soil of classic Greece has been preserved to us.
The Greek authors are known to us only through the efforts of successive generations of copyists; and, with the exception of a comparatively small number of Egyptian papyri, there is almost nothing in existence representing the literature of classical Greece that is older than the middle ages. There are, to be sure, considerable numbers of monumental inscriptions dating from classical times. These have the highest interest for the archaeologist, but in the aggregate they give but meagre glimpses into the history of antiquity. If we were dependent upon these records for all that we know of Greek history, the entire story of that people might be told, as far as we could ever hope to learn it, in a few pages.
The case is somewhat different with Egypt and with Mesopotamia, since the climate of the former and the resistant character of the writing materials employed by the latter have permitted the modern world to receive direct messages that, under other circumstances, must inevitably have been lost. But even here the historical records are neither so abundant nor so comprehensive in their scope as might have been hoped. History-writing, in anything like a comprehensive meaning of the words, is a relatively modern art. The nearest approach to it among the nations of remote antiquity got no farther than the recording of the personal deeds of individual kings. Such records, indeed, are excellent materials for history, but they hardly constitute history by themselves. The entire lists of Egyptian inscriptions, so far as known, suffice merely to give glimpses of Egyptian history; and if the Mesopotamian records are, in this regard, somewhat more satisfactory, it is only in reference to a comparatively brief period of later Assyrian history that they can be said to have anything like comprehensiveness. As to the other nations of Oriental antiquity, — Indians, Persians, Syrians, the inhabitants of Asia Minor, — the entire sum of the monumental records that have been transmitted to us amounts to nothing more than a scattered series of vague suggestions.
In the classical world Rome is but little better off than Greece in this regard. As to both these countries, we depend for our knowledge almost
exclusively upon the works of historians of a relatively late period. Before Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century B.C., there is almost no consecutive history proper of Greece; and despite all the efforts of archaeologists, records of Roman progress scarcely suffice to push back the prehistoric veil beyond the time of the banishment of the kings. Indeed, even for a century or two after this event transpired, the would-be historian finds himself still on very treacherous ground. The reason for this is that there were no contemporary historians in Rome in this early period; and until such contemporary chroniclers appear, no secure record of history is possible.
Once it became the fashion to write chronicles of events, the custom rapidly spread and took a fixed hold upon the people. From the day of Herodotus there was no dearth of Greek historians, and after Polybius there is an unbroken series of Roman chroniclers.
Had all the writings of these various workers been preserved to us, we should have abundant material for reconstructing the history of the entire later classical epoch in much detail; but, unfortunately, the historian worked with perishable materials. An individual papyrus or parchment roll could hardly be expected on the average to be preserved for more than a few generations, and unless copies had been made of it in the meantime, the record that it contained must inevitably be lost. Such has been the fate of the great mass of historical writings, no less than of productions in other fields of literature.
Many of the fragments of ancient writers have come down to us through rather curious Channels. In the later age of Rome it became the fashion to make anthologies and compilations, and it is through such collections that the majority of classical authors are known. One of the most curious of these anthologies is that made by Athenseus about the beginning of the third century A.D. This author called his work Deipnosophistae, or the Feast of the Learned. He attempted to give it a somewhat artistic form, making it ostensibly a dialogue in which the sayings of a Company of diners were related to a friend who was not present at the banquet. The diners were supposed to have introduced quotations from the classical writers, so that the book is chiefly made up of such quotations. The work has not come down to us quite in its entirety, but, even so, no fewer than eight hundred authors and twenty-five hundred different works are represented in the anthology. Of these authors about seven hundred are known exclusively through the excerpts of Athenaeus.
Two or three centuries later another Greek named Stobaeus compiled a set of extracts from the Greek writers of all accessible periods prior to his own. The number of authors quoted in this anthology is more than five hundred, and here again the major part of them are quite unknown to us except through this single source. Yet another collection of excerpts was made in the latter part of the ninth century by Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, who made excerpts from about 280 authors with whose works he had familiarised himself through miscellaneous reading. In addition to these works of individual Compilers there were two or three anthologies compiled in the Byzantine period, including an important collection of fragments of the Greek poets which is still extant under the title of The Greek Anthology, and the elaborate set of encyclopaedias made under the direction of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. But for such collections as these, supplemented by the biographical notices of such workers as Suidas, and by fragments that have come to us through a few other channels, it would scarcely have been conceived that so many authors had
written in the entire period of Grecian activity, since qnly a fraction of this number are represented by complete works that have come down to us. Such facts as these give an inkling as to the mental activity of the oldtime author, while pointing a useful lesson as to the perishability of human works. In this age of easy multiplying of books through printing, one is prone to forget how precarious must have been the existence of a manuscript of the eider day. It was a long, laborious task to produce an edition of a single copy of any extended work, and each successive duplication was precisely as slow and as difficult as the first. Under these circumstances no doubt a very considerable proportion of books were never duplicated at all, and the circulation of a very large additional number most likely was limited to two or three copies. It was only works which were early recognised as having an unusual intrinsic interest or value that stood any reasonable chance of being copied often enough to insure preservation through many succeeding generations.
As one considers the field of extant manuscripts, one is led naturally to reflect on the quality of work that was likely thus to insure perpetuity, and the more we consider the subject, limiting the view for our present purpose to historical compositions, the more clear it becomes that the one prime quality that gave a lease of life to the composition of an author was the quality of human interest. In other words, such historical compositions as were works of art, rather than such as depended upon other merits, were the ones which successive generations of copyists reproduced, and which ultimately were enabled to pass the final ordeal imposed by the monks of the middle ages, who made palimpsests of many an author deserving a better fate. The upshot of this process of the survival of the fittest was that all Greek would-be historians prior to Herodotus were allowed to sink into oblivion, causing Herodotus himself to stand out as apparently the absolute creator of a new art. In point of fact, could we know the whole truth, it would doubtless appear that there was no real revolution of method effected by the writings of Herodotus. He surpassed all of his predecessors in such a measure that the future copyist saw no necessity for preserving any work but the one, since this one practically covered the field of all the rest. It is, perhaps, an ill method of phrasing, to say that these copyists saw no reason for preserving those earlier manuscripts. There was no thought in their minds of the preservation of one book and the destruction of another; they merely copied the work which interested them, or which they believed would interest the book-buying public. The disappearance of the works not copied was a mere negative result, about which no one directly concerned himself.
The proof of the value of the work of Herodotus is found in the fact that it has come down to us entire in numerous copies, something that can be said of only three or four other considerable historical compositions of the entire classical period; two others of this select Company being Thucydides and Xenophon, both of whom were contemporaries of Herodotus, though considerably younger, and therefore, properly enough, counted as belonging to the next generation. Of the other Greek historians, the biographical works of Plutarch, the works of Strabo and Pausanius, which are geographical rather than strictly historical, and the Life of Alexander the Great by Arrian, are the sole ones of the large number undoubtedly written that have come down to us intact. A survey of the Roman historians furnishes an even more striking illustration, for here no one of the great historical works has been preserved in its entirety. Livy's monumental work is entire as to the earlier books, which treat of the mythical and half-mythical period of Roman devel-
opment; but the parts of it that treated of later Roman history, concerning which the author could have spoken, and probably did speak, with first-hand knowledge, are almost entirely lost. In other words, the copyists of the middle ages preserved the least valuable portion of Livy, doubtless because they found the hero tales of mythical Rome more interesting than the matter-of- fact recitals of the events of the later republic and the early empire. We can hardly suppose that Livy detailed the events of the later period with less art than characterised his earlier work, but different conditions were imposed upon him. He had now to deal with much fuller records than hitherto, and no doubt he treated many subjects that seemed important to him, simply because they were near at hand, but which another generation found tiresome and not worth the trouble of copying. Thus we see emphasised again the salient point that the interesting story rather than the important historical narrative proved itself most fit for preservation in the estimate of posterity.
Of the other great historians of Rome, Tacitus, Dionysius, Dion Cassius, Polybius, have all fared rather worse than Livy, although a few briefer masterpieces, like the two histories of Sallust and the Gallic Wars of Caesar, and such biographies as the “Lives” of Suetonius and Cornelius Nepos, were able to fight their way through the middle ages and gain the safe shelter of the printing-press without material loss.
But perhaps the most suggestive example of all is furnished by the brief world history of Justin, which, if not quite entire, has been preserved as to its main structure in various manuscripts. This work is an artistic epitome of a large, and in its day authoritative, history of the world, written by Trogus Pompeius. Justin, when a student in Rome in the day of the early Caesars, was led to make an epitome of this work, seemingly as proof to his friends in the provinces that he was not wasting his time. He did his task so well that future generations saw no reason to trouble themselves with the prolixities of the original work, but were content to copy and re-copy the epitome, pointing the moral that brevity, next to artistic excellence, is the surest road to permanent remembrance for the historian, — a lesson which many modern writers have overlooked to their disadvantage.
It is a curious fact, a seeming paradox, that the first two great histories ever written — the histories, namely, of Herodotus and Thucydides — should stand out pre-eminently as types of two utterly different methods of historical writing. Herodotus, “the Father of History,” wrote with the obvious intention to entertain. There is no great logicality of sequence in his use of materials; he simply rambles on from one subject to another with little regard for chronology, but with the obvious intention everywhere to tell all the good stories that he has learned in the course of his journeyings. It would be going much too far to say that there is no method in his collocation of materials, but what method he has is quite generally overshadowed and obscured in the course of presentation. Thus, for example, he is writing the history of the Persian wars, and he has reached that time in the history of Persia when Cambyses comes to the throne and prepares to invade Egypt. The mention of Egypt gives him, as it were, the cue for an utterly
new discourse, which he elaborates to the extent of an entire book, detailing all that he has learned of Egypt itself, its history, its people, and their manners and customs, without, for the most part, referring in any way whatever to Cambyses. He returns to the Persian king ultimately, to be sure, and takes up his story regardless of the digression, and seemingly quite oblivious of any incongruity in the fact of having introduced very much more extraneous matter in reference to Egypt than the entire subject matter proper of the Persian Empire. The method of Herodotus was justified by the results. There is every reason to believe that he was enormously popular in his own time, — as popularity went in those days, — and he has held that popularity throughout all succeeding generations. But it has been said of him often enough that this work is hardly a history in the narrower sense of the word; it is a pleasing collection of tales, in which no very close attempt is made to discriminate between fact and fiction, the prime motive being to entertain the reader. As such, the work of Herodotus Stands at the head of a class which has been represented by here and there a striking example throughout all succeeding times.
Xenophon's Anabasis, detailing the story of Cyrus the Younger and his ten thousand Greek allies, is essentially a history of the same type. It differs radically, to be sure, from Herodotus, in that it holds with the closest consistency to a single narrative, scarcely giving the barest glimpses into any other field than that directly connected with the story of the ten thousand. But it is like Herodotus in the prime essential that its motive is to entertain the reader by the citation of the incidents of a venturesome enterprise. Xenophon does indeed pause at the beginning of the second book long enough to pronounce a eulogy upon the character of Cyrus, — a eulogy that is distinctly the biased estimate of a friend, rather than the calm judgment of a critical historian. But this aside, Xenophon, philosopher though he is, concerns himself not at all with the philosophy of the subject in hand. He quite ignores the immoral features of the rebellion of Cyrus against his brother. Indeed, it seems never to occur to him that this fratricidal enterprise has any reprehensible features, or could be considered in any light other than that of a commendable proceeding of which a throne was the legitimate goal. Doubtless the very fact of this banishment of the philosophical from the work of Xenophon has been one source of its great popularity, for, as every one knows, Xenophon shares with Herodotus the credit of being the most widely read of classical authors. It would be quite aside from the present purpose to emphasise the opinion that the intrinsic merit of Xenophon's work does not fully justify this popularity. It suffices here to note the fact that this famous work of the successor of Herodotus belongs essentially to the same class with the work of the master himself.
Of the Roman historians doubtless the one most similar to Herodotus in general aim was Livy. The author of the most famous history of Rome does not indeed make any such excursions into the history of outlying nations, as did Herodotus, but he details the history of his own people with an eye always to the literary, rather than to the strictly historical, side; transmitting to us in their best form that series of beautiful legends with which all succeeding generations have been obliged to content themselves in lieu of history proper. There is little of philosophical thought, little of search for motives, in such history-writing as this. It is essentially the art of the story-teller applied to the facts and fables of history.
Returning now to Thucydides, we have illustrated, as has been said, an utterly different plan and motive. Thucydides does indeed tell the story
of the Peloponnesian War; tells it, moreover, with such wealth of detail as no other historian of antiquity exceeded, and few approached. But in addition to narrating the plain facts, Thucydides searches always for the motives. He gives us an insight into the causes of events as he conceives them. He is obviously thinking more of this phase of the subject than of the mere recital of the facts themselves. It is the philosophy of history, rather than the story of history, that appeals to him, and that he wishes to make patent to the reader.
Only two or three other writers of the entire classical period whose works have come down to us followed Thucydides with any considerable measure of success in this attempt to write history philosophically; the two most prominent exponents of this method being the Greek Polybius, who told the story of Rome's rise to world power, and Tacitus, the famous author of the Roman Annals and of the earliest history of the German people. These three examples — Thucydides, Polybius, and Tacitus — stand out at once in refutation of a claim which might otherwise be made that philosophical, or, if one prefers, didactic, historical composition is essentially a modern product. But for these exceptions one might be disposed to make a sweeping generalisation to the effect that the old-time history was a collection of tales intended to entertain the reader, and that the strictly modern historical method aims at instruction rather than at entertainment. Such generalisations, however, assuming, as they do, that the entire trend of human thought has fundamentally changed within historical times, are sure to be faulty. Quite possibly it may be true to say that the earliest historians tended as a class to write entertaining narratives rather than philosophical histories; and to say, on the other hand, that nineteenth century historians as a class have reversed the order of motives: but it must not be forgotten that our judgment here is based upon a mere fragment of the entire Output of ancient historians. We have already noticed, in another connection, that the names of some hundreds of Greek writers have been preserved to us solely through a single anthological collection or two ; and now, speaking of the historical works, it must be remembered that a vast number of these have perished altogether. Whole companies of historians are known to us only by name, and there is every reason to suppose that considerable other companies that once existed and wrote works of greater or less importance have not left us even this memento. The scattered fragments of Greek historical works that have come down to us, dissociated from any considerable part of their original context, fill three large volumes of the famous Didot collection of Greek classics, as edited by K. O. Müller; some hundreds of authors being represented.
We have noted that all the predecessors of Herodotus were blotted out, chiefly, perhaps, by the excellence of the work of Herodotus himself. Similarly the entire histories of Alexander the Great, written by his associates and contemporaries and his successors of the ensuing century, have without exception perished utterly.
Doubtless the excellence of the work of Arrian, which summarised and attempted to harmonise the contents of the more important preceding histories of Alexander, was responsible for the final elimination of the latter. One can hardly refer too often to that intellectual gantlet of the middle ages, which all classical literature was called upon to pass, and from which only here and there a work emerged. It is almost pathetic to consider the number of works that made their way heroically almost through this gantlet, only to succumb just before achieving the goal. One knows,
for example, that there was a work of Theopompus on later Grecian affairs, in fifty odd books, which was extant in the ninth century, as proved by the summary of its contents made then by a monk, but of which no single line is in existence to-day. Even the works that have come down to us in a less fragmentary condition have not usually been preserved entire in any single manuscript, but, as presented to us now, are patched together from various fragments, preserved often in widely separated collections. The explanation is that the copying of a manuscript of great length was a somewhat heroic task, and that hence the copyist would often content himself with excerpting a single book from a work which he would gladly have reproduced entire but for the labour involved.
The point of all this in our present connection is that we know the historians of antiquity very imperfectly, and that hence we are almost sure to misjudge them as a class when we attempt generalisations concerning them. In the very nature of the case, the historian who told a good story in a pleasing style stood a far better chance of being perpetuated through the efforts of copyists, than did the philosophical historian, however profound, who put forward his theories at the expense of the narrative proper. Making all due allowance for this, however, it can hardly be in doubt that the last century and a half has seen a remarkable development of the scientific spirit in its application to the work of the historian, and that the average historical work of the nineteenth century is philosophically on a far higher plane than the average historical work of antiquity. If we were to attempt to characterise the most recent phases of historical composition, we should, perhaps, not go far afield in saying that in regard to history-writing, as in regard to many other subjects, this is pre-eminently the age of specialists. In recent years no historical work could hope for any large measure of recognition among historians, unless it were based upon personal investigation of the most remote sources bearing upon the period that could be made accessible. The recent period has been pre-eminently a time of the searching out of obscure or forgotten records; the unburying of old letters and state papers ; the delving into hitherto neglected archives ; and the critical analysis of the conflicting Statements of alleged authorities previously accessible.
The work began prominently—if any intellectual movement may properly be said to have an explicit beginning — with Gibbon and Niebuhr; it was continued by Grote and Mommsen and George Cornewall Lewis and Clinton, and the host of more recent workers, whose specific labours will claim our attention as we proceed. Naturally enough, since each generation of specialists builds upon the labours of all preceding generations, the work has become more and more minute and hair-splitting with each succeeding decade. Gibbon, specialist though he was, covered a period of a thousand years of European history, and left scarcely anything untouched that falls properly within that period. Niebuhr specialised on the few centuries of early Roman history, but his comprehensive view reached out also to Greece and to the Orient, and he was accounted a master over the whole range of ancient history. Mommsen's efforts have followed the Roman Republic and Empire throughout the length and breadth of its wide domains, and over the whole period of its existence, as well as into all the ramifications of its political, commercial, and social life.
But there has been a tendency among most recent workers to confine their attention to a narrower field. Macaulay's History of England attempts the really detailed history of only about seventeen years. Carlyle devotes six large volumes to the History of Frederick the Great, and such authorities as
Freeman and Stubbs and Gardiner and Gairdner gave years of patient research to the investigation of single periods of English history. The obvious result of all this minute and laborious effort is the piling up of a mass of more or less incoördinate details as to the crude facts of history, which only the specialist in each particular field can hope to master, and the remoter bearings of which in their relations to world history are not always clearly appreciable. It is rarely given to the same mind to have a taste or a capacity at once for minute research and for broad and accurate generalisation. Therefore much of the work of the specialist, admirable in its kind, must still be regarded rather as crude material than as a finished product. It is the work of the world historian to attempt to mass this crude material, to visualise it in its relations to other similar masses, and to build with it a unified structure of history, in which each portion shall appear in its proper relations to all the rest.
Let us turn for a moment to the work of the world historians of the past, and glance at the results of their various efforts to weld the individual history of men and of nations into a comprehensive history of mankind.
No historian worthy of the name can narrate the events even of a limited period without at least an inferential reference to the world-historic import of these events. Just in proportion as one fails to take a sweeping general view, the force of his facts is weakened; any narrow period of history, on which the attention is fixed, assumes, for the time being, a disproportionate interest, and is necessarily seen quite out of perspective. It is only when the limited period is considered in reference to other periods that it can be made to assume anything like its proper Status. Something of this has been understood by all writers from the earliest times, and accordingly we find that very few of the ancient authors failed to take at least a sweeping view of contemporaneous events, even when detailing specifically the incidents of a restricted period; and often, as in the case of Herodotus, the space devoted to the history of events not strictly cognate to the main story is quite out of proportion to that reserved for the main story itself. Thus in a certain sense the history of Herodotus is a world history, inasmuch as it deals more or less comprehensively with practically all nations known to the Greeks of that time. Thucydides, as we have seen, confines himself much more closely to a precise text; yet even he devotes an introductory book to a summary of the past history of the Greeks as a preparation for the full understanding of the Peloponnesian War.
But, after all, a somewhat sharp distinction should be drawn between histories such as these, which ostensibly describe the incidents of a particular period, and more comprehensive treatises, which set the explicit task of dealing with the history of all nations in all times.
Of the works of this latter class, — World Histories proper, — the oldest one that has come down to us is at the same time probably the most comprehensive in scope, and the most extensive in point of matter, of any that was written in ancient times. This is the so-called Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian. Diodorus was a Greek, a native of Sicily, who lived during the time of Julius Caesar and of Augustus. He set himself the explicit task of
writing a comprehensive history of the world, and he devoted thirty years to the accomplishment of this task. This history, as originally written, comprised forty books, which treated of the entire history of mankind from the earliest times to the age of Augustus. Diodorus recognised the vagueness of early chronology, and he made no attempt to estimate the exact age of the world, but he computes the time covered by what he considers the historic period proper, in the following terms:
“According to Apollodorus, we have accounted fourscore years from the Trojan War to the return of Heraclides : from thence to the first olympiad, three hundred and twenty-eight years, Computing the times from the Lacedsemonian kings: from the first olympiad to the beginning of the Gallic War (where our history ends) are seven hundred and thirty years : so that our whole work (comprehended in forty books) is an history which takes in the affairs of eleven hundred and thirty-eight years, besides those times that preceded the Trojan War.”
In his preface Diodorus further explains the exact scope of his work and the precise division in the books in the following words:
“Our first six books comprehend the affairs and mythologies of the ages before the Trojan War, of which the three first contain the barbarian, and the next following almost all the Grecian antiquities. In the eleven next after these, we have given an account of what has been done in every place from the time of the Trojan War till the death of Alexander. In the three and twenty books following, we have set forth all other things and affairs, till the beginning of the war the Romans made upon the Gauls; at which time Julius Caesar, the emperor (who upon the account of his great achievements was surnamed Divus), having subdued the warlike nations of the Gauls, enlarged the Roman Empire, as far as to the British Isles; whose first acts fall in with the first year of the hundred and eightieth olympiad, when Herodes was chief magistrate at Athens. But as to the limitations of times contained in the work, we have not bound those things that happened before the Trojan War within any certain limits, because we could not find any foundation whereon to rely with any certainty.”
Of these forty books only fifteen have come down to us intact, namely, the first five, which carry down the history only to the Trojan wars, and books eleven to twenty, which cover the period from the invasion of Greece by Xerxes to the subjugation of Greece by the Romans. The remaining books are represented by considerable fragments, which, however, even in the aggregate, are insignificant in bulk as compared with the fifteen books that are preserved entire.
Considering the time when it was written, this work of Diodorus was really an extraordinary production, though there has been a tendency on the part of the modern critic to dwell rather upon its defects than its merits. It has indeed become quite the fashion to speak of Diodorus as a weakminded, prejudiced person, who gathered together materials for history from all sources indiscriminately, and gave them to the world, true and false together, quite unsifted by criticism. Such an estimate, however, does Diodorus a very great injustice, as the briefest perusal of his work must suffice to demonstrate. Indeed, it is perhaps not saying too much to assert that one would be nearer the truth were he to accept an estimate by Pliny, who affirms that Diodorus was the first of the Greeks who wrote seriously and avoided trifles. That Diodorus did write seriously, his work clearly testifies; that he largely avoided trifles, is shown by the mass of matter which he crowded into a comparatively small space; and that he was far from
using his materials without exercising selective judgment, should be evident to any one who scans these materials themselves. It is quite true that he made many mistakes. He sometimes accepted as fact what was only fable, his chronologies are not always secure, his narratives of events not always photographically accurate. But consider the task he had set himself. He was endeavouring to write a history of the entire world so far as known in his day and generation, including within the scope of his narrative all the leading events of all the nations of the globe as known in that day. No man can perform such a task, even in this day of multiplied records and edited authorities, without making mistakes.
Whoever attempts to write history philosophically is brought, sooner or later, face to face with the fact that all historical records are woven through and through with fiction. To separate the threads of truth from the threads of fable is the task of critical judgment. It will be perfectly clear to any one who considers the case, that in making such selection the historian of any generation must be biased and influenced by the prejudices and preconceptions of his time. From such prejudices and preconceptions Diodorus was, of course, not free. He looked out upon the world with eyes of the first century B.C., not with eyes of the twentieth century A.D. That century, no less than this, — perhaps not more than this, — was an age of faith and superstition; but the faith of that time was not the faith of this time ; the superstitions of the Greek and Roman were not our superstitions. They were a credulous people ; we are a credulous people: but the exact type of their credulity differed in many ways from the type of our credulity.
In judging Diodorus, then, one must judge him as a Roman of the first century B.C., not as a European of the twentieth century A.D. And if we bear this in mind, we shall find, after scanning his pages, that Diodorus was by no means marked among his fellows by simple credulity of the unquestioning type which accepts whatever is told it without subjecting it to criticism. Diodorus, to be sure, tells us fabulous tales as to the origin of the world and the creation of its various peoples; but he explicitly forewarns us that he tells these tales, not as matters of his own belief, but in order to make an historical record of the opinions current among the different nations themselves as to their own origin.
These tales seem to us fabulous, grotesque, absurd; but we have no reason to doubt that many of them seemed equally mythical to Diodorus himself; and modern criticism should not forget that there is one other myth tale of the creation of the world and the origin of a particular race, which, had Diodorus known it, he would doubtless have narrated with the rest, and viewed with the same scepticism which he shows towards the others, as being fabulous, grotesque, and absurd, but which would have been accepted by the critics of all Christendom, in every age prior to our own, as the authentic historical record of the actual creation of the earth, and as the true account of its chosen people.
In a word, modern criticism should bear in mind, when reproaching Diodorus and others like him for their credulity, that the accepted faith of nineteenth-century Europe would have seemed to Diodorus as absurd and fabulous and mythical as any tale which he has to tell us can seem to the twentieth-century critic.
And as to the mistakes of Diodorus in the more strictly historical portions of his narrative, these also must be viewed with a certain toleration by every candid critic when he reflects upon the vast preponderance of those
cases in which the records of Diodorus are worthy of the fullest credence. In considering these matters, it is very easy, indeed, to generate myths that befog our view of the true Status of an ancient author. Thus, for example, it was once traditional to regard Thucydides as the most candid, just, and impartial historian who has ever lived; but it can hardly be in doubt that the real reason why this estimate has grown up about the name of Thucydides is the fact that, as Professor Mahaffy points out, Thucydides is the sole authority for the history of most of the period of which he treats. It has even been admitted by Müller that in the early portion of the first chapter of Thucydides, where he treats on Grecian history in general, and up to the Peloponnesian War, he does not manifest the same impartiality which distinguishes him in the later portions of his narrative. But it is precisely in this earlier chapter that Thucydides deals with events that are recorded by other historians. It is here, and for the most part here alone, that his story can be checked by data from other authors. Could we similarly check the story of the Peloponnesian War in general, it can hardly be in doubt that we should come across at least some discrepancies which would have tended materially to modify the almost idolatrous estimate of Thucydides that came to be, and long continued to be, unquestionably associated with his name.
Making the application of this thought to Diodorus, it is evident at once that the historian of a limited period of antiquity lays himself open to no such range of comparison as he who undertakes to write the history of the entire world. In the very nature of the case, such a writer pits himself against the whole Company of specialists; and, after all, it is hardly surprising, should it be susceptible of proof, that in several, or all, fields there are specialists whose accuracy excels the accuracy of Diodorus in each particular field. Surely the comprehensiveness of his task must count for something in the estimate, and, when all this is taken into consideration, it may fairly be repeated that the general estimate of modern criticism has done but scant justice to the author of the first attempt ever made to write a complete and comprehensive history of the world.
Moreover, it must not be forgotten that in his use of authorities Diodorus sometimes showed a selective judgment that is entitled to the fullest praise. A notable instance is found in his treatment of that period of Grecian history following the Peloponnesian War, when the Spartans and the Thebans were contending for supremacy. It was treated by Xenophon in his Hellenica, and as Xenophon was actual witness of many of the events which he describes, the presumption would be that his authority for the period might be considered incontestable. But in point of fact, Xenophon, philosopher though he was and pupil of Socrates, was not above the influence of personal prejudice. He was a friend of Agesilaus, and his admiration for that hero, as well as his fondness for the Spartans in general, prejudiced his narrative to such an extent that he did very scant justice to the merits of the great Epaminondas. Indeed, were we to trust to Xenophon alone, the world never would have had in later times anything like a just appreciation of the merits of the great Theban, and since Xenophon's account of this period is the only contemporary one that has been preserved, it was a rare chance, indeed, that preserved to posterity a just appreciation of the greatest of the Thebans, whom some critics are wont to consider the greatest of all the Greeks; and it is Diodorus whom we must thank for doing this historic justice to a great man whose merits might otherwise have been obscured by the personal prejudice of a contemporary historian.
Diodorus, in treating this period, chose as his authority, not Xenophon, but Aphorus. Just how he came to this decision is not known; it suffices that the decision was a good one. None but a prejudiced critic can doubt that in many other cases his judgment was equally perspicuous in selecting among divergent accounts the one of greatest verisimilitude.
A part of the relative neg^ct which has fallen to the lot of Diodorus may be ascribed to the manner of his handling. He threw his work into the form of annals, in which a chronological idea was predominant. He gives the history of a nation in a given year, and then turns aside to other nations, to follow the fortunes of each in turn over the same period. Necessarily, under such a treatment, the whole plan lacks continuity. One must break from one subject to another, must turn from Assyria to Egypt, from Greece to Rome, in order to follow the story through constantly broken chapters. Naturally, under such treatment, the reader's interest flags. From a popular standpoint, such a treatment is clearly a mistake.
The plan of Herodotus, which took up the story of each nation, and carried it through a long period uninterruptedly, has many advantages; is infinitely more artistic. It is chiefly due to this treatment, rather than the actual phrasing of his story, that Herodotus has gained so much more universal fame than Diodorus; for in those parts of his history in which he does attempt a continuous narrative, Diodorus shows much skill as a storyteller. In the earlier portion of his work, that portion which, fortunately, has in the main been preserved to us, when dealing with what he regards as the fabulous history of the nations prior to the establishment of a fixed chronology, his narrative runs on continuously, suggesting in many ways that of the Father of History. It was so with his treatment of early Egypt, and with his even more interesting history of ancient Assyria. These parts alone of his work serve to make him one of the most important authors of antiquity whose writings have been preserved to us, and we shall have occasion to draw largely upon him for the history of this period.
What has just been said about the attitude of modern critics toward Diodorus must not be taken to imply that this earliest of great world historians has, on the whole, failed of an appreciative audience. The facts of the case amply refute such a supposition as this. An author writes to be read, and in the last resort the only valid criterion as to the value of his work is found in the preservation or neglect of that work by successive generations of readers.
Tested by this standard, very few of the ancient writers have obtained such a measure of appreciation as has been accorded to Diodorus. Something like three-fourths of what he wrote has been lost, it is true; but in fairly estimating the import of this, one must consider the bulk of what remains. The briefest comparison supplies us with some very interesting data. It appears that, of the entire series of the predecessors of Diodorus, no single historian has left us anything like a comparable bulk of extant matter. Only one predecessor in any field of literature, namely, Aristotle, greatly exceeds him in this regard, and a single other writer, Plato, about equals him. Turning to the contemporaries of Diodorus and to his successors in the use of the Greek language, a similar result is shown. A single writer exceeds him in Output. This is Plutarch, the biographer and philosopher rather than historian proper. No other Greek writer in any field equals Diodorus, though two historians, Dion Cassius and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, are within hailing distance. When one reflects on the actual labour implied by the preservation of any manuscript throughout the longH.W. — VOL. I. C
generations of the middle ages, these data speak volumes for the aggregate judgment passed upon the work of Diodorus by posterity. Of the long list of Greek historians, — a list mounting far into the hundreds, as proved by fragmentary remains, — only three as ancient as Diodorus have fared better than he, these three being Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon. But the entire bulk of the works of these three writers does not so very greatly exceed the bulk of the extant writings of Diodorus. The works of Herodotus and Thucydides together do not comprise more matter than is contained in books eleven to twenty of Diodorus, which are preserved en bloc.
It would, of course, be absurd to imply that the mere bulk of the manuscripts preserved before the age of printing is a test of the value of an ancient author's work; but, on the other hand, bearing in mind always the labour employed in the production of a single copy of a large work, it would be equally absurd to deny that the bulk of manuscripts has a certain bearing upon the value of the matter which they preserve. No doubt many a scribe would be deterred from starting out to copy manuscript by the great bulk of the work, and where he had no great preference, would be influenced by this alone to choose a smaller book. Again, doubtless many a scribe wearied of his task in the case of the more ponderous works, and gave it up after copying a few books. This common-sense explanation no doubt accounts for the fact that quite generally the earlier books rather than the later ones of works that have come down to us in a fragmentary condition are the ones preserved. Had Herodotus and Thucydides written forty books instead of eight or nine, it is very unlikely that even their genius would have sufficed to preserve the entire number. The case of Livy, whose work, despite the beauty of its style, has come down to us so sadly mutilated, sufficiently sustains this supposition. It is nothing against the merit of Diodorus, then, to reflect that half his work is lost; the wonder is rather that so much of it has been preserved.
We have dwelt thus at length upon the work of Diodorus because it is a work that may be taken as in many ways representative of world histories in general. Certainly it was by far the greatest world history produced in antiquity, of the exact merits of which we have any present means of judging. Indeed, there is only one other world history that has come down to us, and this, the work of Justin, is in itself only an abridgment of the writing of another author, Trogus Pompeius. Considering when it was written, this work of Trogus, if we may judge from the abridgment, was an admirable production, and the abridgment itself is of great value in throwing light on some periods that otherwise are not well covered by extant documents. As a whole, however, it is a compendium of history rather than a comprehensive work like that of Diodorus. Of the works of the other world historians of antiquity it is impossible to speak with any measure of certainty. Polybius accredited Aphorus with being the only man who had written a world history before his day. It is known that Aphorus lived in the fifth century b.c., and that he was a fellow-pupil of another historian, Theopompus, in the famous school of Isocrates at Athens ; but his work is only known to us through inadequate fragments and the indirect quotations of other authors. The same is true of the works of Theopompus just referred to, and of Timaeus, another Greek whose writing had something of world historic comprehensiveness. But, even had these works been preserved, it may well be doubted whether any one of them would compare favourably with the great history of Diodorus, which must stand out for all time as the greatest illustration of the writing of world history in antiquity.
Diodorus, as we have seen, brought his work down to the time of the Gallic wars of Caesar. There are references in his writing which imply that he lived well into the time of Augustus. He probably died not long before the beginning of the Christian era.
No Greek of later time and no Roman of any period produced a work that supplanted the history of Diodorus, though most of the Byzantine historians produced chronicles, many of which had more or less aspect of world history in epitome. Several of these have been preserved, but no one thinks of comparing them with the work of the older writer. The chronological work of Eusebius, however, deserves a word of Special mention It was a mere epitome of world history, but a relatively comprehensive one, and one which, through the loss of more pretentious works, has come to be of great value to the modern historian. It was written originally in Greek, but the most important copy of it that has come down to us is, curiously enough, an Armenian translation. It is the Latin translation of this Armeman manuscript that is the work usually referred to by modern historians in speaking of Eusebius. The encyclopaedia of history compiled tor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, to which reference has already been made, must also be mentioned as a world history of real importance. It was based almost exclusively upon Greek authors, who were quoted at length, with such abbreviations or modifications as were made necessary in adjusting the various texts to one another. As a means of preserving the work of numerous important Greek historians this collection had the utmost value but unfortunately, it has come down to us in a much mutilated condition. During the Byzantine period the minds of would-be historians of the Western world were so occupied with ecclesiastical quarrels and the chronicles of local princes, that no one thought of world histories in the broader sense. We should be thankful that here and there a monk had interest and energy enough to copy the ancient authors, and thus in part to preserve them Considering the intellectual atmosphere of the time, the wonder is, not that so many of the pagan authors were lost, but rather that any of them were preserved. Yet there were occasional gleams of light, even in the so-called dark age. Such a one of peculiar interest to the English reader is found in the fact that King Alfred translated into Anglo- Saxon the compendious world history of Orosius, a work that otherwise would be but little known to fame, but which, thanks to its brevity of treatment, and to this very unusual distinction of translation into a barbaric tongue, no doubt served a most excellent purpose in giving to the Anglo-Saxons of the ninth century a glimpse of the events of ancient times.
The best guide to the historic point of view of the generations that ushered in what we are accustomed to think of as the modern period is furnished by the History of the World which Sir Walter Raleigh wrote toward the close of his life, late in the sixteenth century. Raleigh was not an historian from choice, but was led to his task as a diversion during the time of his imprisonment. The work as far as he completed it is in five books, the titles of which are instructive. First book, “In treating of the First Ages of the World, from the Creation to Abraham.” Second book, “Of the Times from the Birth of Abraham to the Destruction of the Temple of Solomon.” Third book, “From the Destruction of Jerusalem to the Time of Philip of Macedon.” Fourth book, “From the Reign of Philip of Macedon to the Establishing of that Kingdom in the Race of Antigonus.” Fifth book, "From the Settled Rule of Alexander's Successors in the East,
until the Romans (prevailing over all) made Conquest of Asia and Macedon."
It will appear that Raleigh did not carry his history beyond the early Roman period, yet, even so, it is a very bulky book, comprising more than eight hundred enormous quarto pages, an actual bulk far exceeding the extant portions of Diodorus. Raleigh very generally names his authorities in the margin, but even had he failed to do so, it would be easy to understand the sources on which he must have drawn. Obviously he depended largely upon the Bible for the early history of mankind, and for the rest he had access, no doubt, to the dozen or so of classical authors whose names we have had occasion to mention again and again. Naturally enough, the pages of Raleigh seem archaic to the modern reader, yet passages are not wanting which show the shrewd practical insight of the courtier and statesman As a whole, the work had sufficient interest to be reprinted in 1687, a century after the author's death. Indeed, until this time there was practically no world history in the field in competition with Raleigh s that had been written since classical times. It is a curious commentary on the life of the post-classical times and of the middle ages that between the work of Diodorus, written just before the beginning of the Christian era, and the work altogether similar in scope of Sir Walter Raleigh, written sixteen hundred years later, there was no world history produced that is strictly comparable to either. Nor did the seventeenth century produce any marked change in the Situation as regards the literature of world history.
The true renaissance of history writing came with the eighteenth century About 1730 an English publisher was led to notice the paucity of recent literature in this field, and to project a universal history of the widest scope Such men as Archibald Bower, John Campbell, William Guthrie, George Sale, George Psalmanazar, and John Swinton were associated in the undertaking, and in the course of the following twenty years a long series of volumes dealing with all phases of universal history, except, curiously enough, the history of Great Britain, was brought to a close. A subsequent edition, modified and improved as regards the earlier volumes, and supplemented with an account of English history, was published toward the close of the eighteenth century, the editor being the famous Dr. Tobias Smollett. This work, the first important history of the world produced in modern times, excited great interest. It is odd to reflect in the light of more recent events that the work was translated into various European languages, including German. The production of this work was a notable achievement, but the various parts of the work had widely different degrees ot merit A competent German critic, writing about the middle of the nineteenth century, conceded that the parts of the universal history referring to antiquity were fairly well done, but noted that the treatment of the middle ages was superficial, and the treatment of modern history even worse.
Inasmuch as the history of antiquity has been very largely reconstructed within the past fifty years, it will be obvious that the universal history in question cannot now be regarded with other than an antiquarian interest. Nevertheless, it contains numberless descriptive passages, which are as historically accurate and as interesting to-day as they were when written.
The impulse to historical composition, of which this universal history is a monumental proof, found expression a little later in the great histories of Hume and Robertson and Gibbon. Thanks to these wnters, England was easily in advance of all other countries at the close of the eighteenth century in the matter of historical composition. Indeed, as to world
histories she was first, without a second. Early in the nineteenth century, however, a great world history was produced in Germany. This was the work of Schlosser. In its earliest form this work was completed in 1824 ; it was a strictly technical production. But about twenty years later a pupil of Schlosser, under the direction of the author himself, elaborated a popular edition of the world history, which soon had an enormous circulation in Germany, and which in recurring editions still finds a multitude of readers. This work of Schlosser's would probably have been translated into English were it not that the field had been preoccupied by another great universal history. This was the work which Dr. Lardner edited, and which began to appear in 1830, about a century after the inauguration of that first universal history in English to which we have just referred. Dr. Lardner's work, like its English predecessor, was produced by a Company of specialists; but it differed from the other in that each volume or set of volumes dealing with a period or country was written by a specialist whose authorship was acknowledged on the title-page, whereas the previous work had been altogether anonymous. In other words, it was essentially a collection of monographs, each by a more or less distinguished authority, which, in the aggregate, constituted a history of the world. The work as a whole comprised a large number of volumes. Needless to say the component parts were of varying merit; but as a whole the work was an excellent one, and many of the volumes still have value, though necessarily much of their contents is antiquated.
The production of the popular edition of Schlosser's world history in Germany marked an epoch in this class of literature. Almost contemporaneously with this production several other world histories saw the light in Germany, and from that day to this world histories have come from the German press in unbroken succession. These are varied in scope, from the marvellously compressed and beautifully philosophical work of Rottock in four small volumes, published about 1830, to the gigantic Oncken series, which is just completed. In this list of German world histories the works of Bekker, of Leo, and of Weiss hold conspicuous places, in addition to those just named. But perhaps the most notable of all is the world history of Dr. George Weber. This work of Dr. Weber occupied the author during the best years of his life. It is in eighteen volumes, and occupied about twenty years in passing through the press. We shall have occasion to refer more at length to Dr. Weber's work in another place, as well as to quote from it frequently. Suffice it here that Dr. Weber may justly be called the Diodorus of modern times, his work being certainly the most complete and comprehensive exposition of world history that has ever issued from a single pen.
One other world history of German origin must be mentioned as holding a place beside that of Weber. This is the work of Ranke. It is very different in plan from Weber's, in some ways more philosophical, and often less detailed in its narrative of events. The author, recognised as almost the greatest of German historians, began the work late in life, and brought to bear upon it perhaps as full an equipment of historical knowledge in divers fields as any single man has ever attained. Unfortunately, he did not live to complete his work, which, as it Stands, comes only to the close of the middle ages, and which, therefore, cannot be compared in its entirety with the completed work of Weber.
The most recent of all the great German world histories, the Oncken series, just referred to, is a work built essentially upon the plan of Dr. Lard ner's series of the early part of the century. Each volume of the Oncken series is written virtually as an independent work by an authority, and there
is no close bond between the various component parts of the structure, though doubtless an attempt was made on the part of the editor to have the various authors conform somewhat to the same scheme of treatment. The work comprises about fifty very large octavo volumes, being therefore the bulkiest, as it is the most recent, of world histories.
It is a singular fact that since the publication of Dr. Lardner's series in the first half of the nineteenth century, no satisfactory attempt has been made to bring the entire story of the world's history to the attention of the English reader in a single work. While the presses of Germany have sent out their never ending stream of world histories, the English-speaking world has remained utterly inactive, so that until now there has been no work in English less than half a century old that could pretend to compete with any one of the numerous German productions. Buckle's work would, to some extent, have supplied the deficit had he lived to complete it, yet even his effort was aimed rather at philosophical generalisations regarding human evolution, than at a narrative of historical events. If we attempt to explain this paucity of literature in so fascinating a field as that of world history, the solution is not far to seek : it is found in the very magnitude of the task. This is the age of specialists, and just in proportion as one appreciates the full meaning of Special knowledge of any subject in its modern interpretation, must he feel the hopelessness of attempting to gain more than a general knowledge in a variety of fields. Yet something approaching the knowledge of the specialist should be brought to bear upon each period of history by any one who attempts to write a comprehensive history of the world. It is an appreciation of this fact that has led to the production of such a Symposium as the Oncken series, just referred to, and contrariwise, it is the appreciation of the same fact that has led to the relative neglect of so admirable a work as that of Weber. The modern critic is disposed to feel that the writing of a really comprehensive world history in this age is a task beyond the capacity of any single man. When one considers the vast amount of research work in hitherto unexplored fields that is being carried on in every department of history, it becomes patent that no single mind can hope to cope at first hand with the ever increasing flood of Special literature. In almost every department of history Special bibliographies have been published of late years which are utterly bewildering, even to the specialist, in the wealth of material which they reveal.
To cite but a single instance, the bibliography of early English history, down to about the year 1485, as recently collated by Professor Gross, com prises a large volume of small type. It would be the work of a lifetime for any specialist to deal, even in a cursory way, with each and every one of the works cited in this list; yet this is only one little corner of the field which the world historian must cover. Obviously, then, the world historian, if he attempt personally to construct a narrative of the entire subject, must content himself with a more or less superficial glance at each field ; his reading may indeed be wide, but it cannot by any possibility be exhaustive. Moreover, in the nature of the case, he must often read merely to gather material for the day's task of writing, and no matter what his memory, he
will inevitably forget the greater part of the multitudinous details that he has dealt with. In the case of a man of such wide scholarship and such tenacity of purpose as Dr. Weber, it must be freely admitted that a view of the entire range of world history may be attained, which it would be rank injustice to pronounce really superficial. Yet even such a worker as Weber must have depended very largely upon second-hand epitomes for his facts. He cannot have read at first hand more than a fraction of the authors upon whom he is obliged explicitly or inferentially to pass judgment. In a word, great as is the value of works of the class of which Weber's is the finest example, such works must, in the very nature of the case, be content to be ranked as more or less successful compilations, lacking the authority which the modern critic is unwilling to vouchsafe to anything but strictly original work, — original work, that is, in the sense of work based upon a first-hand examination of the most remote authorities, the only sense in which the word “original” can properly be applied to any form of historical composition.
If we turn from world histories of the one-man type to those produced by a Symposium of specialists, we are met with a quite different, but none the less insistent, series of inherent defects.
In the first place, the intrinsic defect of the one-man treatment is not altogether overcome, since specialism has nowadays been carried to such a stage that few men feel altogether at home outside a comparatively limited period, even of the history of a single nation. If, then, one man is asked to write the entire history of, let us say, the Greeks, he necessarily passes over ground that his Special studies have not covered uniformly, and in certain periods he must feel himself more or less in the position of the general historian. It would, of course, be possible to meet this objection by having a sufficient number of writers, so that each limited period should be covered by a true specialist; but the great difficulty in such a scheme as this is the entire lack of harmony of view that must pertain to such a work.
A glance at the Oncken series will convince any one how very difficult it is to attain even approximately to a true perspective of world history under the symposial plan. Thus one finds in this series, to cite but a single illustration of disproportionate treatment, that various relatively insignificant periods of modern German history are allowed to fill bulky volumes where a true perspective would have relegated them to mere chapters. It is only from a very prejudiced modern standpoint that the history of Frederick II can be thought worth greater space than the entire history of the Greek world. Where such inconsistencies are permitted there is a danger that the alleged world history will become rather the history of a single nation in its relations to other nations, past and present, than an impartial presentation of the history of nations as a whole.
In the present work an attempt has been made to avoid the pitfalls of one-man treatment on the one hand, and of ill-adjusted specialist treatment on the other. We have made sure of presenting Special knowledge by drawing upon the specialists of every field, and letting them present their information in their own words ; but, at the same time, we have attempted to avoid the prejudiced view from which the specialist is least of all men free, by presenting the counter views of various students wherever there is failure of agreement among those best competent to judge.
The authorities on whom historial compositions are necessarily based, and who in other works are merely cited by name, or at most by volume and page reference, are here quoted in detail in their own words wherever practicable,
always with full credit to the author, and with exact reference to the work from which the excerpt is taken. Such authorities are quoted, not merely from histories in English, but from the entire range of historical writings of all ages. It is hoped that few important names are overlooked. The aggregate number of different works thus quoted (not merely cited) will be about one thousand. These quotations vary in length from illuminative paragraphs to excerpts of many pages, averaging perhaps about two thousand words each. Some fifteen hundred of such extensive quotations are made from foreign languages, and by far the greater number of these have been translated from the Originals expressly for the present work, thus representing matter never before accessible to the reader of English. The languages represented in this list of important historical works of foreign origin include practically all the tongues of civilised nations, ancient and modern, — Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Arabic, Syriac, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, and the entire range of European languages from Greek, Latin, and Russian to Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian. From all of these the original words of the various authors have been trans lated into the most literal English consistent with our idiom. It is speaking well within bounds to assert that seldom before has so varied an exposition of cosmopolitan thought been collected in a single work.
But these excerpts are not given as random references crowded into footnotes or appendices; they are woven into the text of the consecutive story of world history so that they themselves constitute the bulk of that story. Thus the history of Germany is mainly told in the words of German writers, that of France in the words of French historians. To avoid the prejudiced national view of history, however, the story of a nation thus told by the native historian is always subject to the corrective views of foreigners. Thus we gain both the sympathetic and the critical points of view. When the authorities are not agreed as to any important fact of history, or where there are important differences of opinion in estimating the influence of a great event or the real status of a famous character, reliance is not placed upon the estimate of a single historian, but counterviews are quoted, even though they may be directly contradictory, each, of course, being ascribed to its proper source.
To give unity to these various views and to weld the entire mass of matter into a consistent and comprehensive history of the world, original editorial passages are everywhere freely introduced as a part of the main narrative, forming indeed the warp of the whole, and serving to elucidate and harmonise the views of the authorities quoted. A feature of the original editorial matter is that it comprises, first and last, critical estimates of the work of important historians of every age, informing the reader as to the status—even to the particular prejudice and bias—of the authority he is asked to consult. Thus the novice is everywhere placed somewhat on a par with the special student in his estimate of the authorities. Where conflicting views are quoted of nominally equal authority, the reader is given data on which to base an intelligent personal opinion as to the probabilities. Moreover, elaborate additional bibliographies of works that may advantageously be consulted are everywhere given, and these in the aggregate constitute such a critical bibliography of the entire range of historical compositions as cannot fail to interest even the general reader.
Our method of introducing critical bibliography, and the critical selection of the excerpts themselves, make it feasible to introduce quotations, not only from the latest authority in any field, but also from the great historians
of the past. Thus in the case of ancient history, the classical authorities themselves are drawn upon wherever available,—Herodotus for the Persian wars, Thucydides for the Peloponnesian wars, Xenophon for later Greek history, Sallust, Caesar, Livy, Dionysius, Dion Cassius, Tacitus, Ammianus, and the rest for Roman history; and so on indefinitely. Herodotus describes the battle of Thermopylae; Arrian tells of the glories of Alexander; Diony sius relates the story of Virginia ; Polybius shows us Hannibal crossing the Alps; Appian pictures the fall of Carthage; Josephus the fall of Jerusalem ; Zosimus the fall of Palmyra. In this way a mass of first-hand matter, much of it hitherto absolutely inaccessible to the reader of English, and much more only to be found in rare and costly editions, is put within the reach of the least scholarly. But — what is most essential — such matter as this is not merely given by itself unsupported. It is supplemented by the verdicts of the latest investigators in the various fields covered. Thus, to cite but a single instance, in the history of early Greece, not merely Herodotus, Thucydides, Diodorus, Pausanias, and other ancient authorities are quoted, but the long range of modern students as well, from Mitford, Thirlwall, and Grote to Curtius, Bezold, Busolt, Geddes, Schliemann, Mahaffy, Bury, and in general the latest investigators in the field of classical archaeology.
Thanks to this System of checking ancient accounts with editorial criticism and other recent expert evidence, it is even practicable to avail ourselves sometimes of the writings of men who are not primarily historians, but who wrote, as so many other great authors have done, most important incidental essays on historical subjects ; thus matter in the highest degree picturesque and interesting is often presented in a manner which the technical historian, however great his scientific authority, is seldom able to imitate.
Another peculiar merit of this system is that it enables us to preserve specimens of the work of a large coterie of historians, whose influence was great and whose writings were formerly Standard, but whose books, as a whole, have been superseded by more recent works. Some of the classical authors are cases in point. A few of these are indeed read by students in Colleges everywhere, but the great bulk of them are as utterly unknown to the average reader as if they had never existed. Who reads Pausanias, or Diodorus, or Polybius, or Appian, or Dion Cassius, or Dionysius, or AElianus, or Arrian, or Quintus Curtius, or Zosimus ? Yet these men are the only original authorities left us in many fields of ancient history. Their works are the sources which moderns can do little more than paraphrase in writing of those times. Surely, then, it is worth while to go to these authors them selves and hear their story at first hand, applying to it the corrective judgment of later criticism, rather than to depend upon the mere paraphrase of some modern compiler.
Much the same argument applies to parts of the work of once famous historians of more recent times : such historians as Hume, Mitford, Thirlwall, and a host of others. Their work, as a whole, can no longer be commended to the student who is to confine himself to a single authority, for in many parts their writings have been superseded ; yet there are other parts of their work that are to-day as valuable as when they were written, and it seems regrettable that a great name should drop from public recognition merely because the sweep of progress has dethroned it from supremacy. It is inevitable that the present should always loom large before mankind, and that egotism should stamp with peculiar force the importance of the Recent. "Each generation abandons the ideas of its predecessors like
stranded ships," says Emerson. Yet it must not be forgotten that posterity often plays strange tricks with reputations. Herodotus was held up to ridicule some centuries after his death by a “False Plutarch,” who is only known now because of his attack upon the master historian, while the work criticised, though for some generations looked on with suspicion, is as fully appreciated, after more than two thousand years, as it can have been in the day when it was written.
Similarly, the judgments of our own age of specialism may be reversed by posterity; and in any event it would be regrettable if a once important his torical work should be quite forgotten. Yet such a fate threatens work of every grade. Müller's collection of the fragments of Greek historians gives mere bits from the writings of more than five hundred authors about whom nothing is known — not even the exact age in which they lived — beyond the fact that they wrote works of which these fragments are the only mementoes. Could any page of manuscript of any one of these authors be recovered, it would to-day be considered worth many times its weight in gold.
Precisely the same process of decay is gradually removing the evidences of the historical labours of the writers of recent generations even now. The multiplication of books by the printing-press makes the process a trifle slower, perhaps; but it is no less sure. A goodly number of works that were famous half a century ago are now absolutely inaccessible to the would-be purchaser: the great book markets of Paris, Berlin, and London cannot secure or supply them. A few copies of these works are still extant in private collections and public libraries, but the fate of these is assured. Libraries are constructed to be burned. Some day a lick of flame will wipe out the last copy of any work issued only in a single edition, and the author will become thenceforth merely a name and a memory; or if, perchance, some latter-day Suidas or Stobseus has quoted a sentence from him, such sentence will be treasured in catalogues of fragments of eighteenth and nineteenth century historians. For many such an author, the present work may perform the function of Suidas or Stobseus, for a long list of these obsolescent writers will be found represented in our pages, — not always preserved for their antiquarian interest indeed, but quoted in regard to events concerning which their authority is still Standard, and because it is believed that, in the cases selected, their treatment has not been excelled by any more recent Performance; sometimes, on the other hand, — but more rarely, — quoted because of the quaintness of their diction, because of the archaic cast of thought through which they reflect the spirit of their times, or because of their sheer whimsicality.
But while emphasising the catholicity of taste that judges matter on its own merits, excluding nothing simply because it is old, it must be emphasised also that in the main such selection leads to the inclusion of a preponderance of recent matter. Each generation builds upon the shoulders of the last, and the work, as a whole, is progressive. So we go not merely to the latest books, but also to the recent numbers of periodicals, the publications of learned societies and the like. And to put the cap-sheaf to modernity, the greatest living experts in each field have contributed original essays and characterisations expounding the latest developments. These contributions, in which master workers summarise the results of years of investigation, will be found not the least valuable part of our work.
Most that has been said thus far has tended to emphasise the variorum or anthological features of our work. But it must be evident that there is another and quite different point of view from which our historical structure
may be considered. This point of view regards our history not as a compilation — an anthology — but as an altogether new and original work. A moment's consideration will show how fully justified we are in referring to this aspect of the subject. For it is obvious to the least attentive consideration that the intrinsic materials which make up the story of history might be never so abundant, never so valuable, without in the least presupposing that the history composed of them will be an artistic or valuable work; any more than an abundant supply of bricks, marble, and mortar necessarily determines the building of a beautiful edifice. The materials are, indeed, prerequisites ; but an intelligent manipulation of the materials is at least equally essential. There must be an architect to plan the structure as a whole, and artists and artisans to select and manipulate the materials in accordance with the plan, or the result will be, not an edifice, but a brick-heap.
Since, then, we have dwelt at some length upon the fundamental materials of our historical structure, it is necessary that we should be equally explicit regarding the shaping of the architectural design — to hold to our figure — in accordance with which the materials have been first selected, and secondly amalgamated with other materials; — each stone not only selected of proper quality and size, but chiselled and polished to fit its proper niche.
The simile of an architect constructing a building, cheap and trite as it is, cannot well be dispensed with if we are to give the reader a vivid picture of our method of construction. It must be understood that whether our result be good or bad, there is nothing fortuitous, nothing haphazard about it. We did not start groping blindly for material, hoping to see an artistic structure form itself out of chaos. Our entire plan was as fully preconceived as the plan of any other architect. First, the kind of structure was determined on : in other words the scope of our subject, — world history; the entire sweep of important human events from the earliest times to the present day. Secondly, the approximate size of the projected structure was determined — its ground surface, its height, its total mass ; or, speaking in the terminology of our specific structure, the number of volumes, the size of each volume, the total mass or number of pages involved.
Next the proportions of the structure, the number of floors and of rooms to each floor; the relative size and dimensions of the various departments; or, in book terms, the proportionate number of volumes or pages to be given to each important department of history : so many volumes to the Old Orient; so many to the Classical World; so many to the Middle Ages ; so many to the important divisions. of modern history.
All this, let it be repeated, was accurately predetermined before a single block of material was explicitly selected for the building. It does not follow that absolutely no changes have ever been made in the original plan — no architect perhaps ever made a building of which this was quite true ; but it is true that the original plan was so carefully thought out, so well considered, that the changes are utterly insignificant in comparison with the unmodified portions of the structure. This point should be emphasised and clearly borne in mind, because upon it depends a large measure of our confidence that we have produced a structure not without artistic and correct proportions. It was the predetermination of the proportions, and this alone, that could control the enthusiasm of unrestrained specialism, and keep to anything like a true historical perspective. Over and over again it has been proved that the Special worker, when he came to focus; upon a given period, was in the position of a microscopist, viewing his wonderfully interesting microcosm. All the rest of the world shut out for
the moment, the little circle of the microscopic field, which may be in reality one hundredth of an inch in diameter, looms before the view at an angle which literally makes it seem to eclipse the world itself.
And so the historical delver, when he finds himself in the midst of the literature on any period whatever — be it a mere historical mole-hill — finds himself surrounded by a heap of literary bricks which shuts out the very mountain ranges of history from his vision. At once he demands — feels that he must have — space for his magnified mole-hill; and it is only the predetermined editorial restrictions that keep him from filling entire volumes with fascinating stories about some petty kingdom which, from the worldhistorical standpoint, is entitled to pages only. It is a conservative estimate of the facts to assert that there is no period of our history for which ten times the amount of material has not been garnered than could possibly be used in extenso. The chart of the architect has lain always open upon the editorial desk, and rule and compass have been ever ready to restrain and check the over-enthusiasm of the worker whose zeal would otherwise lead him to present megaliths where the specification called for, and the plan permitted, only tiny bricks.
As to whether the plans of the architect were intrinsically good ; whether the specification called for bricks where bricks were logically needed, and for megaliths in their proper place — these are questions that will not be entered on here. But a word may be permitted as to the ruling motives which have dominated the conception, and which, it is hoped, have never been lost sight of. These ruling motives are two : first, the hope of attaining a high standard of historical accuracy in the most critical acceptance of the term ; secondly, the desire to retain as much as possible of human interest in the broadest and best sense of the words. To attain the first of these ends it is necessary to be free from prejudice, to have unflagging zeal in collecting testimony, to have scientific and critical acumen in weighing evidence; to attain the second end it is essential that kindred faculties should be applied not to the facts of history but to the literary presentations of these facts, that the good and true story may not be spoiled in the telling.
The desire to be free from all prejudice in the judgment of historical facts is, then, the key-note of all our philosophy of historical criticism; and the desire to retain interest — human interest — is the key-note of our philosophy of historical composition.
To attain either end, what perhaps is most required is catholicity of sympathies. There must be no race prejudice, no national prejudice. There must be no attempt to blacken or whiten historical characters, in correspondence with the personal bias. There must be no Special pleading for or against any form of government, any racial propensity, or any individual deed. In a word, there must be freedom from prejudice in every field,— except indeed that prejudice in favour of the broad principles of right, regarding which all civilised nations of every age have been in Virtual agreement. But the deeds, the motives, the superstitions of all times and of all races must be viewed, so far as such a thing is possible, through the same clear atmosphere of impartiality. As between Egyptian, Assyrian, Hebrew, Hindoo, Persian, Mongul — he who would produce a world history of truly catholic scope should have no inherent prejudice or preconception.
Equally must there be freedom from prejudice regarding various classes of ideas. “Whatever concerns mankind is of interest to me,” must be the editorial motto. Some persons are interested only in military events, in battles, treaties, and the like; others care only for constitutional and
governmental affairs ; yet others think most of literature and of art, or of science. But the editorial spirit of a world history should show a catholicity of taste that is receptive of each and all of these. Xerxes at Thermopylae, and AEschylus writing his tragedy “The Persians”; Alexander mourning for Hephaestion, and Phidias building the Parthenon ; Augustus Caesar disputing the mastery of the world with Antony, and Dionysius telling of the myths of early Rome; Richard of the lion heart prosecuting a Crusade, and Dante vitalising the Italian language ; each and all of these and kindred topics up and down the scroll of history should equally, each in proportion to its relative influence, excite the sympathetic attention of the historian. With the same zeal he should tell of the alleged iniquities of a Messalina or a Catherine de' Medici and of the noble self-abnegation of a Cornelia; of the self-seeking of a Caesar and of the self-abnegation of a Cincinnatus or a St. Louis. With sound common-sense for a guide, he should strive to avoid on the one hand the over-credulity of the untrained mind, and on the other the dogmatic scepticism that so often perverts the judgment of the specialist.
But what then, it may be asked, of the moral of our story — of our drama? Shall we be content to present the bare facts, and leave their philosophical interpretation to chance? To this it may be replied, that in the minds of most of us a profound philosophical idea is one that accords with our own preconception; — other views are superficial, perverse, or obviously mistaken. Hence a wise interpreter of history will be extremely chary of putting forward his own more or less dogmatic interpretations of the events he relates. It does not follow that no opinion can ever be expressed; indeed, a tacit expression of opinion is implied in the selection of almost every excerpt. But witnesses from all sides must be given an impartial hearing in any case where a clear balance of evidence is not attainable; and where the evidence is demonstrative it must be presented with all fairness, and without reservation or innuendo, regardless of its apparent bearing.
Fortunately the study of world history in itself tends to make for precisely such impartiality. He who has attentively followed the story of the rise and fall of nations will have learned that human nature is everywhere at its foundation much the same; that no race, no nation, no individual even is ideally good or totally bad; that the Past has always been a Golden Age for the pessimist, the Future always utopian for the dreamer, and that a broad optimism regarding the Present — a belief that on the whole the conditions of any given time are about as good as the character of the time permits — is, perhaps, the safest philosophy of living.
In the main, then, we may rest content with the conviction that, however unobtrusive our philosophy, the great lessons of history will not fail to make themselves felt by any attentive reader of these pages. We greatly mistake the purport of the story if it does not on the whole make for broader views, for truer humanitarianism, for higher morals, personal and communal; — in a word, for better citizenship in the fullest and broadest meaning of the term. Indeed, to attain the plane of the best citizenship, historical studies are absolutely essential. No one can have a competent judgment regarding the affairs of his own country without such studies; no one is a fair judge of the political principles of the party he supports or of the one that he opposes, who has not prepared himself by a study of the political Systems of the past. “Had I begun earlier and spent thirty years in reading history,” said Schiller, “I should be far different and a far better man than I am.” Echoing these words, we may say that the outlook for every constitutional government would be brighter if every youth and every man who exercises
or is about to exercise the responsibilities of a voter, and every woman whose advice aids or stimulates a father, brother, husband, or son towards the performance of his civic duties, could spend not thirty years, let us say, but as many weeks in studying the history of nations. Little fear that the student who has got such a start as this would willingly stop there. He would have gained enough of insight to be keenly interested, and it would require no urging to send him on; for the panorama of history, once we gain a little insight into it as it unfolds before us its never ending variety of scenes, can hardly be viewed otherwise than with unflagging interest; unless indeed the view is befogged by the atmosphere through which it is presented. To prevent such befogging, — to present the story through a clear medium, — requires only that the narrative shall be true to the facts in its presentation of topics of real importance. This is what we had in mind when we said that interest—human interest—is the key-note of our philosophy of historical composition. It is the editorial conviction that attention, based upon interest, is the foundation of mental development. A literary work that lacks interest, might, indeed, subserve a useful purpose, but the scope of its influence is curtailed from the outset if the reader must go to it as a task and not as to a recreation. Interest breaks down the barriers between work and play. Interest fixes attention, and fixed attention is the basis of memorising.
Let it freely be asserted, then, that in the selection of material for our work the principle acted on has been that, other things being equal, the best account of any historical event is the most picturesque and entertaining account, for what, after all, does picturesqueness imply, except an approach to the vivid reproduction of the actualities? Written words are intended to be read, and any writer who, like Polybius, despises the literary graces must expect to be despised in turn, or, at least, neglected. Properly presented, the narrative of history should have all the breathless interest of a novel, — for what is so fascinating as a true story from human life ? In the present work an attempt is made to raise history towards the level of fiction in point of interest, without sacrificing anything of scientific accuracy. No account is given here merely because it is picturesque, to the exclusion of a truer narrative; but the preference is always given to the graphic story as against the dull, where the two have equal authority as to matters of fact. Further to enhance the vividness of presentation, pictures are everywhere introduced. There are thousands of these pictures in the aggregate, drawn from the most varied sources, and constituting, it is believed, one of the most remarkable series of historical illustrations ever collected.
All in all, then, one might describe our intention as the desire to dramatise the story of history, — for, again, what is dramatisation but the mimicry of life? Our various books and sections are the settings for the acts and scenes of the play, and it is hoped that, with the aid of the introductions by way of proem, and the pictures to aid the eye, the characters are made to move across the stage before the reader with something like the vividness of living actors. One cannot quite dare promise that there shall be no dull scenes, but it is hoped that, in the main, the play will be found to move lightly on, as with words spoken “trippingly upon the tongue.”
In particular, it is hoped that our dramatisation of history will present the events of the long play in something like a true perspective, the large events looming large in our story, the lesser ones forced into the background. As an aid to this treatment, tables of chronology are everywhere introduced before the curtain rises, if it be permissible to hold to our metaphor. These are virtually the lists of dramatis personae. Even the minor characters will
be named here, though they act only as chorus, or prate a few lines in the play where the chief personages will dominate the Situation as they dominated it in real life, and as they dominate it in the memory of posterity. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon — such figures will loom large in our drama of history; yet it will never be forgotten that the play is not a monologue. The minor actors will be given a fair hearing from first to last.
It follows from this that the main story of our history has to do with the deeds of men of action. But here at the very outset an important question may be raised: do the deeds of men of action then, after all, constitute the great events of history ? An affirmative answer may be given with much confidence. Great men of action carve out the contour of history. High culture can only rise from soil fertilised by material prosperity. The swords of Leonidas, Themistocles, and Pausanias must prune the tree of civilisation before the flower of Periclesian culture can bloom at Athens. There are no names like Livy, Horace, Ovid, and Virgil in the annals of Rome before the conquests and the carnage of Marius, Sulla, and Caesar. But let us hasten to add that the deeds of men of action can never be rightly understood unless they are considered in relation to the intellectual and social surroundings in which these men of action moved. In other words, the civilisation and culture of each succeeding period cannot be ignored. It will be found to be as fully treated here in all its phases as the limitations of space permit. It furnishes the atmosphere everywhere for our picture, or, if you prefer, the setting for our stage.
In a word, then, our work becomes, if its intent has been realised in actuality, a Comprehensive History of Human Progress in all departments of action and of thought, told dramatically and picturesquely, yet authoritatively, in the words of the great historical writers of every age. Recurring to our metaphor, it is the book of a veritable Drama of History; our unity of action being Historic Truth; our unity of time, the Age of Man; our stage, the World.
A COMPLETE world history should, properly speaking, begin with the creation of the world as man's habitat, and should trace every step of human progress from the time when man first appeared on the globe. Unfortunately, the knowledge of to-day does not permit us to follow this theoretical Obligation. We now know that the gaps in the history of human evolution as accessible to us to-day, vastly exceed the recorded chapters ; that, in short, the period with which history proper has, at present, to content itself, is a mere moment in comparison with the vast reaches of time which, in recognition of our ignorance, we term “prehistoric.” But this recognition of limitations of our knowledge is a quite recent growth — no older, indeed, than a half century. Prior to 1859 the people of Christendom rested secure in the supposition that the chronology of man's history was fully known, from the very year of his creation. One has but to turn to the first chapter of Genesis to find in the margin the date 4004 b.c., recorded with all confidence as the year of man's first appearance on the globe. One finds there, too, a brief but comprehensive account of the manner of his appearance, as well as of the creation of the earth itself, his abiding-place. Until about half a century ago, as has just been said, the peoples of our portion of the globe rested secure in the supposition that this record and this date were a part of our definite knowledge of man's history. Therefore, one finds the writers of general histories of the earlier days of the nineteenth century beginning their accounts with the creation of man, b.c. 4004, and coming on down to date with a full and seemingly secure chronology.
Our knowledge of the world and of man's history has come on by leaps and bounds since then, with the curious result that to-day no one thinks of making any reference to the exact date of the beginnings of human history, — unless, indeed, it be to remark that it probably reaches back some hundreds of thousands of years. The historian can speak of dates anterior to 4004 b.c., to be sure. The Egyptologist is disposed to date the building of the Pyramids a füll thousand years earlier than that. And the Assyriologist is learning to speak of the State of civilisation in Chaldea some 6000 or 7000 years b.c. with a certain measure of confidence. But he no longer thinks of these dates as standing anywhere near the beginning of history. He knows that man in that age, in the centres of progress, had attained a high stage of civil isation, and he feels sure that there were some thousands of centuries of earlier time, during which man was slowly climbing through savagery and barbarism, of which we have only the most fragmentary record. He does not pretend to know anything, except by inference, of the "dawnings of
civilisation." Whichever way he turns in the centres of progress, such as China, Egypt, Chaldea, India, he finds the earliest accessible records, covering at best a period of only eight or ten thousand years, giving evidence of a civilisation already far advanced. Of the exact origin of any one of the civilisations with which he deals he knows absolutely nothing. “The Creation of Man,” with its fixed chronology, is a chapter that has vanished from our modern histories.
Nevertheless, it is important to a correct understanding of the development of human thought, as well as of personal interest, to bear in mind the attitude of our predecessors in the field of historical writing, regarding this ever interesting problem of cosmogony. It was not alone the ancient Hebrews who thought that they had solved the problem. Indeed, as we shall see, the Hebrews were rather the purveyors than the originators of the story of cosmogony which they made current; and every other nation, when it had reached a certain stage of mental evolution, appears to have originated or borrowed a set of chronicles which, as adapted to the use of each nation, explained the creation of the earth and its human inhabitants in a way very flattering to the self-love of the nation giving the recital. No one to-day takes any of these recitals seriously, as a matter of course ; but, on the other hand, they possess an abiding interest as historical documents. If for nothing else, they have interest as illustrating the advance of human knowledge during the comparatively brief period since these strange recitals found currency.
No thinking man in any age can have failed to wonder about the origin of the world. The answers that the ancients gave to this ever present question were various, but they all had one quality in common, namely, extreme vagueness. Even after men had attained a relatively high stage of civilisation, their ideas of the natural phenomena about them were so endued with superstition, and so hedged about with ignorance as to the real causes, that their explanations of cause and effect in the natural world belong to the domain of poetry rather than to that of science. If this applies to such phenomena as wind and clouds and rain and lightning, the manifestations of which are constantly observed, it naturally applies with tenfold force to the great mystery of the origin of things. Yet the human mind, childlike in the simplicity of its questionings, demands always an answer, and accepts the answer, if pronounced with a certain authority, in a spirit of childlike faith. The great poets and prophets of every nation of antiquity had supplied, each in his kind, the answers to the riddle of cosmogony, and many of these alleged Solutions have come down to us to give us an insight into the mentality of their time. It is worth while to quote two or three of these in brief epitome, if for nothing else, to show their similar trend, and to emphasise their universal trait of vagueness.
Here is the cosmogonic scheme of the Phoenicians as transmitted to us by the alleged historian Sanchoniathon :
" At the beginning of all things was a dark and windy air, or a breeze of thick air and a turbid Chaos resembling Erebus; and that these wereH.W. — VOL. I. D
unbounded, and for a long series of ages had no limit. But when this wind became enamoured of its own first principles (the Chaos), and an intimate union took place, that connection was called Pothos ; and this was the beginning of the creation of all things. But it (the Chaos) knew not its own production; and from its embrace with the wind was generated Mot ; which some call mud, but others the putrefaction of a watery mixture. And from this sprung all the seed of the creation, and the generation of the universe.
“And there were certain animals without Sensation, from which intelligent animals were produced, and these were called Zophasemin, that is, beholders of the heavens ; and they were formed in the shape of an egg : and from Mot shone forth the sun, and the moon, and the less and the greater stars. And when the air began to send forth life, by its fiery influence on the sea and earth, winds were produced and clouds, and very great defluxions and torrents of the heavenly waters. And when they were thus separated, and carried out of their proper places by the heat of the sun, and all met again in the air, and were dashed against each other, thunder and lightnings were the result: and at the sound of the thunder, the before-mentioned intelligent animals were aroused, and startled by the noise, and moved upon the earth and in the sea, male and female.”
This creation scheme of the Phoenicians has a peculiar interest for the Western world, because of the intimate relations that existed between the Phoenicians and the Jews. For a similar reason the ideas of the Babylonians and the Assyrians, as recorded on the so-called creation tablets exhumed at Nineveh, have fascinated the Bible scholars.
Trending still further to the East, one finds with the Hindus a slightly different cast of thought couched in a no less poetic diction. Thus in one of the sacred books, Brahma, the Eternal Worker, is represented as creating the earth while seeing his own reflection in the ocean of sweat that had fallen from his brow (Réclus).
The Chinese scheme of cosmogony is presented in the form of alleged answers to questions, by Confucius. Here is a characteristic excerpt as translated by M'Clatchie : " At the beginning of Heaven and Earth, before chaos was divided, I think there were only two things, Fire and Water ; and the sediment of the water formed the Earth. When we ascend a height and look down, the host of hills resemble the waves of the sea in appearance ; the Water just flowed like this : I know not at what period it coagulated. At first it was very soft, but afterward it coagulated and became hard. One asked whether it resembled sand thrown up by the tide ? He replied, Just so: the coarsest sediment of the Water became the Earth, and the most pure portion of the Fire became Wind, Thunder, Lightning, Sun, and Stars.
" Being asked : From the commencement of Heaven and Earth to the present time is not 10,000 years ; I know not how it was before that time ? He replied, Before that there was another clear opening (i.e. another Heaven and Earth) like the present one. Being further asked whether Heaven and Earth can perish altogether, he replied, They cannot: but, when mankind totally degenerate, then the whole shall return to Chaos, and Men and things shall all cease to exist; and then the World shall begin again. Some one asked how the first Man was generated ; and he replied by the transmutation of the Air ; the subtle portions of the Light and Darkness and the Five Elements united and produced his form. The Buddhists call this transmuting and generating. At present things are transmuted and generated in abundance like lice.
"Before Chaos was divided the Light-Dark Air was mixed up and dark, and when it divided, the centre formed an enormous and most brilliant opening, and the two E were established. Shaou Kang-tsee considers 129,600 years to be a Yuen (Kalpa) ; then, before this period of 129,600 years there was another opening and spreading out of the World ; and before that again, there was another like the present; so that, Motion and Rest, Light and Darkness, have no beginning. As little things shadow forth great things, this may be illustrated by the revolutions of Day and Night. What Woo-Fung says about the Great Cessation of the entire Air the vast and boundless agitation of all things, the whole expanse of waters changing position, the mountains bursting asunder, the Channels being obliterated, Men and things all Coming to an end, and the ancient vestiges all destroyed — all this refers to the utter destruction of the world by Deluge. We frequently see, on lofty mountains, the shells of the sea-snail and pearl-oyster as it were generated in the middle of stones ; these stones were (part of) the soil of the former world. The sea-snail and pearl-oyster belong to the water; so that that which was below changed and became high ; that which was soft changed and became hard. This is a deep subject, and should be investigated.
“Being asked whether the multitude of things existed before Heaven and Earth divided, he replied : There was merely the idea of each thing Heaven and Earth generate all things, and throughout all time, ancient and modern, cannot be separated from all things.”
It should be remarked as illustrating the difficulties of translating the thought of one language into the words of another, that Mr. F. H. Balfour questions certain of Canon M'Clatchie's renderings. Thus a sentence which M'Clatchie interprets, “In the entire universe where there is no fate there is no air, and where there is no air there is no fate,” Mr. Balfour would read instead of “fate” “mind,” and instead of “air” “matter,” the sentence becoming, “In the entire universe where there is no mind there is no matter, and where there is no matter there is no mind.” Such divergent renderings as this are to be expected in the case of any Oriental language It will not be forgotten how George Smith, one of the first great interpreters of the Assyrian tablets, read the Hebrew story of the Garden of Eden in the vague phrasing of the cuneiform document, where, as Menant quickly demonstrated, the writer of the document had composed a quite different story. This “reading into Homer that which Homer never knew” is much too familiar a subject to require further elucidation; but it is peculiarly desirable to bear it in mind in dealing with the philosophical and religious notions of any alien people.
Turning from the Orient, it is of interest to interrogate the Greek writers as to the creation schemes that were current in classical times. In the histories of Greece and Rome, we shall have occasion to examine these somewhat more in detail. For the present purpose, perhaps, an excerpt from Diodorus, who wrote with a full knowledge both of Greek and Roman ideas at about the beginning of our era, will be sufficiently illuminative.
Diodorus begins his history of the World with a brief account of the current notions as to the creation. He says : " Of the origin, therefore, of men there are two opinions amongst the most famous and authentic naturalists and historians. Some of these are of opinion that the world had neither beginning nor ever shall have end, and likewise say that mankind was from eternity and there never was a time when he first began to be. Others, on the contrary, conceive both the world to be made, and to be corruptible,
and that there was a certain time when men had first a being; for, whereas all things at the first were jumbled together, heaven and earth were S one mass and had one and the same form. But afterward they say when corporeal beings appeared one after another, the world at length presented itself in the order we now see, and that the air was in continual agitation, whose fiery parts ascended together to the highest place, its nature ‘by reason of its levity’ trending always upward, for which reason both the sun and that vast number of stars are contained within that orb; that the gross and earthy matter clotted together by moisture, by reason of its weight sunk down below into which place by continually whirling about. The sea was made of the humid, and the muddy earth of the more solid as yet very soft, which by degrees at first was made crusty by the heat of the sun, and then, after the face of the earth was parched, and, as it were, fermented the moisture afterward in many places bubbled up, as may be seen in standing ponds and marshy places, when, after the earth has been pierced with cold, the air grows hot on a sudden without a gradual alteration, and whereas moisture generates creatures from heat, things so generated by being enrapt in the dewy mists of the night grew and increased, and in the day solidified and were made hard by the heat of the sun, and thus the forms of all sorts of living creatures were brought forth into the light and those that had most heat mounted aloft, and were fowls and birds of the air but those that had more of earth were numbered in the order of creeping things and other creatures altogether suited to the earth. Then those beasts that were naturally watery and moist, called fishes, presently hastened to the place natural to them; and when the earth afterward became more dry and solid by the heat of the sun and the drying winds, it had not power at length to produce any more of the greater living creatures. And Eunpides, the pupil of Anaxagoras, seems to be of the same opinion concerning the first generation of all things, for in his Menilippe he has these verses:
"‘A mass confused Heaven and Earth once were Of one form; but after Separation. Then men, trees, beasts of the earth with fowls of the air First sprang up in a generation.’
“But if this power of the earth to produce living creatures at the first origin of all things seem incredible to any, the Egyptians bring testimonies of this energy of the earth by the same things done there at this day; for they say that about Thebes in Egypt, after the overflowing of the river Nile, the earth thereby being covered by mud and slime, many places putrefy by the heat of the sun, and thence are bred multitudes of mice. It is certain, therefore, that out of the earth when it is hardened, and the air changed from its dew and natural temperament, animals are generated, by which means it came to pass that in the first beginning of all things various living creatures proceeded from the earth. And these are the opinions touching the original of all things.”
It would be difficult to say to what extent this Greek conception of creation had its origin in, or was influenced by, Oriental conception. Certainly the resemblance between this description and the Mosaic accounts, as contained in the first two chapters of Genesis, is noteworthy. Quite probably the ideas of both Hebrews and Greeks had been moulded to some extent in the pattern of Egyptian thought. Be that as it may, it was the scheme of cosmogony expressed in the Hebrew legends that was to become dominant
in post-classical times, and to rule unchallenged in the Western world for more than a thousand years. Indeed, this estimate of the time of real supremacy of the Hebrew thought is much too low; for that thought, though challenged as to some of its features by the science of the Renaissance which ushered in the period of modern history, was none the less to retain its hold upon the thoughts of men, but little abated in force, for another half millennium.
Not till well toward the close of the eighteenth century was an attempt made to substitute a scientific guess at the riddle of creation for the old poetic ones, and yet another century elapsed before the new explanations availed fully to supplant the old ones. It was Laplace, the great French mathematician, who elaborated toward the close of the eighteenth century a so-called nebular hypothesis, which may fairly be considered the first measurably scientific attempt ever made to explain the origin of the world. The hypothesis conceives that, at a time indefinitely remote, the entire solar System and space far beyond it was filled with a “fire mist,” consisting of the material in a gaseous state which now forms the sun and planets. This gaseous body, contracting through loss of heat, and rotating on its axis, left behind from time to time, successive rings of its own substance, that, consolidating, became the planets; the remaining core of substance contract ing finally to constitute the body that we call the sun.
Nineteenth century science elaborated, without essentially modifying, this nebular hypothesis. Elaborate attempts have been made by Dr. Croll and by Sir Norman Lockyer to explain the origin of the “fire mist” itself, from which per hypothesis our solar system and an infinity of like stellar Systems were formed. The meteoritic hypothesis of Lockyer supposes that the primeval fire mist was due to the collision of swarms of meteors; Croll's theory postulates the smashing together of dark stars : but the two theories are essentially identical in their main thought, which is, that previously solidified bodies of the universe are made gaseous through mutual impact, thus affording material for the Operation of those changes outlined in the nebular hypothesis of Laplace. True or false, this hypothesis Stands to-day as the expression of the profoundest cosmogonic scientific guess that modern thought has been able to substitute for the poetic guesses of antiquity.
As to the creation of the living things on the globe, including man, the Oriental idea, which amounted to no explanation at all, but was rather the hiding of utter ignorance behind a screen of positive assertion, has been supplanted in the latter part of the nineteenth century by the scientific explanations of the evolutionists. The theory of evolution, as first formulated in anything like scientific terms, about the close of the eighteenth century, by the eider Darwin, the poet Goethe, and the French philosophical zoologist Lamarck, and as given such amazing fertility by Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection in 1859, has taken full possession of the field as an explanation of the development of man through a series of lower organisms. But it must not be forgotten that this theory, with all of its revolutionary implications, does not as yet explain in clear scientific terms the origin of that lowliest organism which is the first in its series of living beings. It is for the science of the future to take this remaining step. Meantime, the developmental theory of to-day suffices to substitute in precise terms a scientific explanation of the origin of man for the vagaries of the old-time dreamers; and the more daring thinkers feel that the gap between the inorganic world and the lowest of man's ancestors is not an impassable barrier to the application of a theory of universal evolution.
THE vague notions of the ancients as to the origin of the world were inseparably linked with their restricted notions as to the present status of the world itself.
It is curious to reflect how small a portion of the habitable globe was the theatre of all those human activities, the record of which constitutes ancient history. Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria, Greece, and Italy taken as a whole constitute but a small patch of territory encircling the Mediterranean Sea. Persia and India, stretching away to the East, lay vaguely at the confines of the world as conceived even in relatively late classical times. From a very early day, doubtless, there had been intercommunication between India and the West. Nevertheless, the conquest of Alexander was regarded as extending into regions hitherto utterly unknown, and as opening up a new world to Greek thought. Similarly two centuries later, Caesar's invasion of Britain brought regions to the attention of the geographer concerning which only the vaguest notions had been current.
Spain had long been known through the explorations and commercial enterprises of the Phoenicians and Greeks, and when it became a part of Roman territory, it was as familiarly known as Gaul or Britain. But these bounds, India on the east, Britain at the north, Spain in the west, and Upper Egypt toward the equator were the limits of the known world as understood by the classical mind. The vague traditions probably based on fact, as recorded by Herodotus, that a Company of Phoenicians had sailed out of the Red Sea and gone by water about all the southern continent, to reappear from the west by way of the pillars of Hercules — or present Gibraltar, — served to give support to the theory that all the continental mass was encompassed in a universal sea, rather than to extend geographical knowledge in any precise sense.
Considering, then, the limitations of ancient geographical knowledge, it is wonderful how clear, precise, and correct an idea as to the shape, and even in a general way, as to the size, of the earth were attained by the classical geographers. To be sure, the Oriental thinkers applied the same poetical conceptions to cosmology that dominated them in other fields. The Hindu conceived the world as resting on the back of a mammoth elephant, which stood in turn on the back of a tortoise, and was transported thus across a boundless sea of milk. Greek mythology gives us the familiar picture of a human giant, Atlas, supporting the world. But such poetic conceptions as these, whatever their force may once have been with the Greeks, had been supplanted before the close of the classical epoch by ideas of a strictly scientific nature.
Not long after the beginning of the Christian era there lived a Greek named Strabo, whose status as a truly scientific geographer is gladly acknowledged to-day. Strabo's remarks on cosmology may well be quoted here as showing the heights to which the science of geography had attained among the Greeks. Making due allowance for the changed phraseology of another age, these are such things as might be said by a geographer of to-day, yet they were written over two thousand years ago :
" We have treated these subjects at length in the first Book of the Geography. At present we shall make a few remarks on the operations of
nature and of Providence conjointly. On the operations of nature, that all things converge to a point, namely, the centre of the whole, and assume a spherical shape around it. The earth is the densest body and nearer the centre than all others : the less dense and next to it is water : but both land and water are spheres, the first solid, the second hollow, containing this earth within it. On the operations of Providence, that it has exercised a will, is disposed to variety, and is the artificer of innumerable works. In the first rank, as greatly surpassing all the rest is the generation of animals, of which the most excellent are gods and man, for whose sake the rest were formed. To the gods Providence assigned heaven ; and the earth to men: the extreme parts of the world ; for the extreme parts of the sphere are the centre and the circumference. But since water encompasses the earth, and man is not an aquatic, but a land animal, living in the air, and requiring much light, Providence formed many eminences and cavities in the earth, so that these cavities should receive the whole or a great part of the water which covers the land beneath it ; and that the eminences should rise and conceal the water beneath them, except as much as was necessary for the use of the human race and the animals and plants about it.
" But as all things are in constant motion, and undergo great changes (for it is not possible that such things of such a nature, so numerous and vast, could be otherwise regulated in the world), we must not suppose the earth or the water always to continue in this state, so as to retain perpetually the same bulk, without increase or diminution, or that each preserves the same fixed place, particularly as the reciprocal change of one into the other is most consonant to nature from their proximity ; but that much of the land is changed into water, and a great portion of water becomes land, just as we observe great differences in the earth itself. For one kind of earth crumbles easily, another is solid and rocky, and contains iron ; and so of others. There is also a variety in the quality of water; for some waters are saline, others sweet and potable, others medicinal, and either salutary or noxious ; others cold or hot. Is it therefore surprising that some parts of the earth which are now inhabited should formerly have been occupied by sea, and that what are now seas should formerly have been inhabited land ? So also fountains once existing have failed and others have burst forth ; and similarly in the case of rivers and lakes ; again, mountains and plains have been converted reciprocally one into the other. On this subject I have spoken before at length, and now let this be said :
"Geometry and astronomy, as we before remarked, seem absolutely indispensable in this science. This in fact is evident, that without some such assistance, it would be impossible to be accurately acquainted with the configuration of the earth ; its climate, dimensions, and the like information.
" As the size of the earth has been demonstrated by other writers, we shall here take for granted and receive as accurate what they have advanced. We shall also assume that the earth is spheroidal, that its surface is likewise spheroidal, and above all, that bodies have a tendency toward its centre, which later point is clear to the perception of the most average understanding. However, we may show summarily that the earth is spheroidal, from the consideration that all things however distant tend to its centre, and that everybody is attracted toward its centre of gravity; this is more distinctly proved from observations of the sea and sky, for here the evidence of the senses, and common observation is alone requisite. The convexity of the sea is a further proof of this to those who have sailed ; for they cannot perceive lights at a distance when placed at the same level as their eyes, but if
raised on high, they at once become perceptible to vision, though at the same time farther removed. So, when the eye is raised, it sees what before was utterly imperceptible. Homer speaks of this when he says :
“‘Lifted up on the vast wave he quickly beheld afar.’ Sailors, as they approach their destination, behold the shore continually raising itself to their view ; and objects which had at first seemed low, begin to elevate themselves. Our gnomons, also, are, among other things, evidence of the revolution of the heavenly bodies ; and common sense at once shows us, that if the depth of the earth were infinite, such a revolution could not take place.”
It is astounding in the light of present-day knowledge to reflect that such correct and scientific views as to the form of the earth were subordinated, and, at last, almost entirely supplanted, by the curiously faulty conceptions of the Oriental dreamers. A chance phrase of the Hebrew writings refers to the corners of the earth, and this sufficed to promulgate a false conception of cosmology, which dominated the world for a millennium. The old Greek conception never quite died out, as the faith of Columbus showed, but it was so crushed beneath the weight of ecclesiastical authority. that it maintained existence only with here and there a nonconformist to the ideas of his time ; and when Columbus and Magellan had demonstrated the falsity of the Oriental conception, and Copernicus and Galileo had further revolutionised the Hebrew conception, the advocates of the false view fought tooth and nail for a conception which had come to be intimately associated with those religious tenets which, to them, were more sacred than life itself.
Truth prevailed in the end, of course : but it was not till well into the nineteenth century that the chief supporters of the old Hebrew cosmology officially abandoned their position, and admitted that the world is round, and is not the centre of the universe.
GENERALLY speaking, the old time nations rejoiced in their alleged antiquity. Notions as to exact chronology for long periods of time were practically non-existent. A full sense of the value of chronology as the foundation stone of history was only acquired in relatively modern times. The figures that the ancients used in referring to their national existence were very sweeping, and suffered from the same defects of vagueness that characterise their other thoughts.
Herodotus, basing his belief on what he learned in Egypt, ascribed to the Egyptians a national existence of thirteen thousand years. Diodorus extends this period to twenty-three thousand, and some other reports current in classical times increase the figures by yet another ten thousand. Even this is a meagre period compared with the claims made by the Babylonians, who number the years of their own nation in hundreds of thousands; and it is said that the Chinese, in Computing their own history, do not stop short of millions of years.
The Babylonians were the astronomers of antiquity, and doubtless the less scientific Greeks regarded their knowledge of the stars as something quite occult, and were ready to believe almost any chronological statement that the Babylonians put forward. The Romans, indeed, practical people that they always were in the day of their prime, were disposed to look with
more of scepticism upon such claims. Cicero announces himself as distinctly sceptical regarding the allegation that the Babylonian records extend over a period of two hundred and seventy thousand years. His scepticism, however, was probably based rather upon a shrewd common-sense estimate of human affairs than upon any preconception as to the antiquity of man. In a word, the ancients as a class had no fear of time, and most of them had no religious or other preconception that limited their estimate as to the age of a nation or the exact age of the world itself. The latter-day Hebrew was an exception to this rule. He came at last to look upon the vague historical records of his people as sacred books, inspired in their every word, and detailing among other things the exact genealogy of the leaders of his race from the creation to his own time. It is not, indeed, probable that the ancient Hebrew made any great point of the exact period of time compassed by his records, since, as has been said, questions of exact chronology entered but little into the thoughts of man in that day ; but in a more recent time students of Hebrew records have attempted to ascertain the exact age of the earth and the exact period of human existence by aggregating the various disconnected records of the Hebrew scriptures, long after the modern historical method had been applied acutely to all other accessible writings of antiquity.
These writings of the Hebrews were held to constitute a class apart, and were looked to as having an authenticity not to be claimed by any other ancient documents; and while no two scholars of authority, making independent computations, were ever able to agree as to the exact facts connoted by the Hebrew chronology, yet none the less, each prominent investigator clung with full faith to his own estimate, and several of them found schools of followers who battled as eagerly as the masters themselves for the exact dates they believed to be represented by the vague Hebrew estimates. Generally speaking, these estimates ascribe the creation of the world and of man to a period about four thousand years before the Christian era; the year of the Deluge, which was supposed to have engulfed all the inhabitants of the earth except a single family, being variously estimated between the years 3200 and 2300 b.c. That some such figures as these represented the truth regarding the period of man's residence here on the earth came to be accepted throughout Christendom as an article of faith, to question which was a rank heresy.
The larger figures which the Greeks, Egyptians, Mesopotamians and other nations had employed came to be regarded as absurd guesses, which it were a sacrilege to countenance now that the truth was known; and yet, as every one nowadays knows, these larger figures, vague guesses though they were, approach much nearer to the actual truth than the restricted numbers that supplanted them.
The changed point of view with which the modern historian regards the ancient chronology has been attained through a process of scientific development extending over about a century. A truer knowledge of the cosmic scheme did not bring with it as a necessary counterpart the correct conception as to the length of time that this scheme had been in operation.
Laplace, in formulating his nebular hypothesis, had nothing definite to say as to the length of time required for its development, and there was nothing in his computation to throw any light whatever upon the antiquity of the earth as a habitable sphere.
Cuvier, the great contemporary of Laplace, no doubt accepted the nebular hypothesis as a valid explanation of the origin of the world, but he held to
the conception of about six thousand years for the age of man as rigidly as did any Middle Age monk. Cuvier was the first to demonstrate that certain fossil skeletons belonged to no existing species of animal. In other words, he believed that races of great beasts had once inhabited the earth, but no longer have living representatives. This, however, did not suggest to him that the earth had long been peopled, but only went to show, as he believed, that a great catastrophe, as the universal flood was supposed to have been, had actually taken place. It remained for Charles Lyell, the famous English geologist, working along the lines first suggested by another great Englishman, James Hutton, to prove that the successive populations of the earth, whose remains are found in fossil beds, had lived for enormous periods of time, and had supplanted one another on the earth, not through any sudden catastrophe, but by slow processes of the natural development and decay of different kinds of beings.
Following the demonstrations of Lyell there came about a sudden change of belief among geologists as to the age of the earth, until, in our day, the period during which the earth has been inhabited by one kind of creature and another is computed, not by specific thousands, but by vague hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
The last refuge for champions of the old chronology was found in the claim that man himself had been but about six thousand years upon the earth, whatever might be true of his non-human forerunners. But even this claim had presently to be abandoned when the researches of the palaeontologists had been directed to the subject of fossil man.
The researches of Schmerling, of Boucher de Perth, of Lyell himself, and of a host of later workers demonstrated that fossil remains of man were found commingled in embedded strata and in cave bottoms under conditions that demonstrated their extreme antiquity; and in the course of the quarter century after 1865, in which year Lyell had published his epoch-marking work on the antiquity of man, the new idea had made a complete conquest, until now no one any more thinks of disputing the extreme antiquity of man than he thinks of questioning the great age of the earth itself. To be sure, no one pretends any longer to put a precise date upon man's first appearance. The new figures take on something of the vagueness that characterise the estimates of the Babylonians; but it is accepted as clearly proven that the racial age of man is at least to be numbered in tens of thousands of years. The only clues at present accessible that tend to give anything like definiteness to the computations are the researches of Egyptologists and Assyriologists.
In Egypt remains are found, as we shall see, which carry the history of civilisation back to something like 5000 b.c., and in Mesopotamia the latest finds are believed to extend the record by yet another two thousand years. Man then existed in a state of high civilisation at a period antedating the Christian era by about twice the length of time formerly admitted for the age of earth itself.
How much more ancient the remains of barbaric man, as preserved in the oldest caves, may be, it would be but vague guess work and serve no useful purpose, to attempt to estimate. History proper, as usually conceived, is concerned only with the doings of civilised man; and, indeed, in one sense, such a restricted view is absolutely forced upon the historian, for it is only civilised man who is able to produce records that are preserved through the ages in such manner as to tell a connected story to after generations. The arrow-heads and charred sticks of the stone age of man are indeed proofs that this man existed, and that he led his certain manner of life, some clear
intimations as to which are given by these mementoes ; but they point to no path by which. we may hope to follow the precise history of those succeeding generations by which the man of the stone age was connected with, for example, the builder of the Egyptian Pyramids. We can, indeed, trace in general terms the course of human progress. We know that from using rough stone implements chipped into shape, man came finally to acquire the art of polishing stones by friction, thus making more finished implements. We know that later on he learned to smelt metals, marvellous achievement that it was; and when this had been accomplished, we may suppose that he pretty rapidly developed cognate arts that led to higher civilisation.
Reasoning from this knowledge, we speak of the palaeolithic or rough stone age, of the neolithic or polished stone age, of the age of bronze, and finally of the age of iron, as representing great epochs in human progress. But it is only in the vaguest terms that we can connect one of these ages with another, and any attempt at a definite chronology in relation to them utterly fails us. This would not so much matter if we were sure in any given case that we were tracing the history of the same individual race through the successive periods; but, in point of fact, no such unity of race can be predicated. There is every reason to believe that each and every race that ever attained to higher civilisation passed through these various stages, but the familiar examples of the American Indians, who were in the rough stone age when their continent was discovered by Columbus, and of the African and Australian races, who, even now, have advanced no farther, illustrate the fact that different races have passed through these various stages of development in widely separated periods of time, and take away all certainty from any attempts to compute exact chronologies.
The question of races of mankind is one that has given rise to great diversity of opinion among scientists and students of ethnology, and it may as well be admitted at the outset that no very definite conclusions have as yet been arrived at. One set of ethnologists have been disposed to look to physical characters as the basis of a classification ; others have been guided more by language. In the earlier stages of the inquiry the Biblical traditions have entered into the case with prejudicial effect, and with the advances of science this subject as a whole has seemed to grow more confused rather than clearer. For a time there was a certain unanimity in regarding the Egyptians and their allies as Hamites, the Babylonians, Hebrews, Phoenicians, and their allies as Semites, and in bringing all other non-Aryan races into a conglomerate class under the title of Turanians. Latterly, however, the artificial character of such a classification as this has been more and more apparent, and a growing belief tends to consider all the peoples grouped about the Mediterranean as forming a single race, including within that race, as is apparent, members of the old races of Hamites, Semites, and Aryans. Yet another classification would group the peoples of the earth according to their several stages of civilisation. But, without attempting a complete enumeration of all the various Systems that have been suggested, one may summarise them all by repeating that there is no complete uniformity of classification accepted by all authoritative students of the subject.
Here as elsewhere, however, there is a tendency for old Systems and old names to maintain their hold, and notwithstanding the disavowals of the most recent schools of ethnology, the classification into Hamites, Semites, Aryans, and Turanians is doubtless the one that has still the widest vogue. In particular the Aryan race, to which all modern European races belong, has seemed more and more to make good its claims to recognition. Thanks to the relatively new science of comparative philology, it has been shown, and has now come to be familiarly understood, that the languages of the Hindu and the Persian in the far East are based upon the same principles of phonation as the Greek and Latin and their daughter languages, and the language of the great Teutonic race.
It is this affinity of languages that is the one defining feature of the Aryan race. Since historical studies have made it more and more plain that a nation in its wanderings, whether as a conquering or a conquered people, may adopt the language of another nation, it has become clear that a classification of mankind based on ethnic features would have no necessary correspondence with a classification based upon language. The philologists, therefore, who cling to the word “Aryan,” or to the idea which it connotes, have latterly been disposed to urge, as for example Professor Max Müller does in the most strenuous terms, that in contending for an Aryan race they refer solely to a set of people speaking the Aryan language, quite regardless of the physical afinities of these people. And it is in this sense of the word, and this alone, that the dark-skinned race of India is to be considered brother to the fair-skinned Scandinavian ; that, in short, all the nations of modern Europe and the classical nations of antiquity are to be jumbled together in an arbitrary union with the people of far-off Persia and India.
While this classification establishing an Aryan race on the basis of language has the support of all philologists, and, indeed, is susceptible of the readiest verification, there is a growing tendency to frown upon the use of the word “Aryan” itself. The word came into vogue at a time when it was supposed on all hands that the original home of the people to whom it was applied was Central Asia; that this was the cradle of the Aryan race was long accepted quite as a matter of course — hence the general acceptance of the name. But, in the course of the last century, the supposed fact of the Asiatic origin of the Aryans has been placed in dispute, and there is a seemingly growing school of students, who, basing their claims on the evidence of philology, are disposed to believe that the cradle of this race — if race it be— was not Central Asia, but perhaps Western or Northwestern Europe. We must not pause to discuss the evidence for this new view here; suffice it that the evidence seems highly suggestive, if not conclusive.
To many philologists, including some who still hold that the probabilities favour an Asiatic origin of the race, it now seems advisable to adopt a name of less doubtful import, and of late it has become quite usual to substitute for the word “Aryan” the compound word “Indo-European,” or, what is perhaps better, “Indo-Germanic.” Such a word, it is clear, summarises the fact that the Indians in the far East and the Germanic race in the far West have a language that is fundamentally the same, without connoting any theory whatever as to the origin or other relations of these widely scattered peoples. The name thus has an undoubted scientific Status that makes it attractive, but nevertheless it is too cumbersome to be accepted at once as a substitute for the word “Aryan” in ordinary usage. Nor, indeed does there seem to be any good reason why such substitution should be made. Words very generally come in the course of time to have an application which their
original derivation would not at all justify, and there is no more reason for ruling out the word “Aryan,” even should it be proven absolutely that Asia was not the original cradle of the Indo-Germanic race, than there would be for discarding a very large number of words of Greek and Latin derivation that are familiarly employed in the various modern European languages. Indeed, it may be taken for granted that the generality of people to whom the word “Aryan” is familiar have no such preconception aroused in their minds by the word as it conveys to the mind of Special scholars, and in any event where a distinct disavowal is made of any ethnological preconceptions in connection with the word, one is surely justified for convenience sake in continuing to use the word “Aryan” as a synonym for the more complicated term "Indo-Germanic."
It has been said that history proper is usually regarded as having to do solely with the deeds of civilised man, but in point of fact the scope of his tory as written at the present day necessarily falls far short of comprehending the entire history of civilisation. Before the dawn of recorded history man had evolved to a stage in which the greater number of the greatest arts had been attained. That is to say, he was possessed of articulate language. He had learned to clothe and to house himself. He knew the use of fire. He could manufacture implements of war and of peace. He had surrounded himself with domesticated animals. He added to his food supply by practising agriculture. He had established Systems of government. He knew how to embellish his surroundings by the practice of painting and of decorative architecture, and last, and perhaps greatest, he had invented the art of writing, and carried it far toward perfection.
With the development of these arts history proper is not concerned, but this is not because the development of these arts would not constitute true history if its course were known, but simply because of our entire ignorance of all details of the subject.
In order to gain a clearer idea, however, of the status of human culture at the dawn of history proper, it may be worth while to glance in the most cursory way at each of the great inventions and developments upon which the entire structure of civilisation depends.
Perhaps the greatest single step ever made in the history of man s upward progress was taken when the practice of articulate speech began. It would be contrary to all that we know of human evolution to suppose that this development was a sudden one, or that it transformed a non-human into a human species at a sudden vault. It is well known that many of the lower animals are able to communicate with one another in a way that implies at least a vague form of speech, and it has been questioned whether the higher species of apes do not actually articulate in a way strictly comparable to the vocalisation of man. Be that as it may, the clear fact remains that one species of animal did at a very remote time in the past develop the power of vocalisation in the direction of articulate speech to a degree that in course of time broadened the gap between that species and all others, till it became an impassable chasm.
Without language of an explicit kind not even the rudiments of civilisation would be possible. No one perhaps ever epitomised the value of articulate speech in a single phrase more tellingly than does Herder when he says : “The lyre of Amphion has not built cities. No magic wand has transformed deserts into gardens. Language has done it, — that great source of sociality.”
Obviously, then, could we know the history of the evolution of articulate speech it would be one of the very greatest chapters in all human records ; but it is equally obvious that we can never hope to know that history except inferentially. When the dawn of history proper came, man had so long practised speaking that he had developed countless languages so widely divergent from one another that they are easily classified into several great types. From the study of these languages the philologist draws more or less valid inferences as to the later stages of linguistic growth and development. But he gains no inklings whatever as to any of those earlier developments which constituted the origin or the creation of language.
Second. Clothing and Housing of Prehistoric Man.
Nothing is more surprising to the student of antiquity than to find at what seems the very beginning of civilisation such monuments as the Pyramids and the great sculptures of Egypt and Mesopotamia. But a moment's reflection makes it clear that man must have learned to house himself, as well as to clothe himself, before he can have started on that tour of conquest of the world which was so far advanced before the dawn of history. Doubtless the original home of man must have been in a tropical or subtropical climate, and he cannot well have left these pampering regions until he had made a considerable development, almost the first step of which required that he should gain the means of protecting himself from the cold. The idea of such protection once acquired, its elaboration was but a question of time. It is amazing to observe how closely, both as regards attire and building, man had approximated to the modern Standards at the time when he first produced monumental or other records that have come down to us.
Third. The Use of Fire.
Quite as fundamental as the matter of housing and clothing, and even more marvellous, considered as an invention, was the recognition of the uses of fire, and the development of the methods of producing fire at will. It is conceivable that some individual man at a relatively early stage of human progress developed and elaborated this idea, becoming the actual inventor of fire as applied to human uses. If such was really the case, no greater inventor ever lived. But the wildest flight of speculative imagination does not suffice to suggest where or when this man may have lived. It cannot well be doubted, however, that the use of fire must have been well known to the earliest generations of men that attempted to wander far from the tropics. Clothed, housed, and provided with fire, man was able to undertake the conquest of all regions, but without fire he dare not have braved the winters even of the middle latitudes, to say nothing of Arctic regions.
No doubt the earliest method of producing fire practically employed was by friction of dry sticks, much after the manner still in use among certain savage tribes. Obviously the flint and steel, which for so many thousands of years was to be the sole practical means of producing fire among the civilised races, could not have come into vogue until the age of iron. The lucifer match, which was finally to banish flint and steel, was an invention of the nineteenth century.
Fourth. Implements of Peace and War.
A gigantic bound was made when man first learned to use a club habitually, and doubtless the transition from a club to a mechanically pointed spear constituted a journey as long and as hard as the evolution from the spear to the modern repeating rifle. But before the dawn of history there had been evolved from the club the battle-axe of metal, and from the crude spear the metal-pointed javelin, the arrow, the sword, and the dagger ; the bow, too, of which the arrow was the complement, had long been perfected, and from it had evolved various other implements of warfare, culminating in the gigantic battering-ram.
Of implements of a more pacific character, boats of various types furnished means of transportation on the water, and wagons with wheel and axle, acting on precisely the same principle which is still employed, had been perfected, both of these being used in certain of their types for purposes of war as well as in the arts of peace. Manufacture included necessarily the making of materials for clothing from an early stage, and this had advanced from the crude art of dressing skins to the weaving of woollen fabrics and fine linens that would bear comparison with the products of the modern loom. Stones were shaped and bricks made as materials for building. The principle of the pulley was well understood as an aid to human strength; and the potter's wheel, with which various household Utensils were shaped, was absurdly like the ones that are still used for a like purpose. In all of these arts of manufacture, indeed, a degree of perfection had been attained upon which there was to be singularly little advance for some thousands of years. It was not until well toward the close of the eighteenth century that the series of great mechanical advances began with the application of steam to the propulsion of machinery, which has revolutionised manufacture and for the first time made a radical change from the Systems of transportation that were in vogue before the dawn of history; and it was only a few centuries earlier that the invention of gunpowder metamorphosed the methods of war fare that had been in vogue for a like period.
Fifth. The Domestication of Animals.
It is not difficult, if one considers the matter attentively, to imagine how revolutionary must have been the effect of the domestication of animals. Primitive man can at first have had no idea of the possible utility of the animals about him, except as objects of pursuit; but doubtless at a very early stage it became customary for children to tame, or attempt to tame, such animals as wolves, foxes, and cats of various tribes when taken young, much as children of to-day enjoy doing the same thing. This more readily led to the early domestication or half-domestication of such animals as that species of wolf from which the various races of dogs sprang. It is held that the dog was the first animal to become truly domesticated. Obviously this animal could be of advantage to man in the chase, even in very early stages of human evolution; and it is quite possible that a long series of generations may have elapsed before any animal was added to the list of man's companions. But the great step was taken when herbivorous animals, useful not for the chase, but as supplying milk and flesh for food, were made tributary to the use of man. From that day man was no longer a mere hunter and fisher ; he became a herdsman, and in the fact of entering upon a pastoral life, he had placed his foot firmly on the first rung of the ladder of civilisation. An obvious change became necessary in the life of pastoral people. They could still remain nomads, to be sure, but their wanderings were restricted by a new factor. They must go where food could be found
for their herds. Moreover, economic features of vast importance were introduced in the fact that the herds of a people became a natural prey of less civilised peoples of the same region. It became necessary, therefore, to make provision for the protection of the herds, and in so doing an increased feeling of communal unity was necessarily engendered. Hitherto we may suppose that a single family might live by itself without greatly encountering interference from other families. So long as game was abundant, and equally open to the pursuit of all, there would seem to be no reason why one family should systematically interfere with another, except in individual instances where quarrels of a strictly personal nature had arisen. But the pastoral life introduced an element of contention that must necessarily have led to the perpetual danger of warfare, and concomitantly to the growing necessity for such aggregate action on the part of numerous families as constituted the essentials of a primitive government. It is curious to reflect on these two opposite results that must have grown almost directly from the introduction of the custom of domesticating food animals. On the one hand, the growth of the spirit of war between tribes ; on the other, the development of the spirit of tribal unity, the germs of nationality.
Much thought has been given by naturalists to the exact origin of the various races of domesticated animals. Speaking in general terms, it may be said that Asia is the great original home of domesticated animals as a class. Possibly the dog may be the descendant of some European wolf, and he had perhaps become the companion of man before that great hypothetical eastward migration of the Aryans took place, which the modern ethnologist believes to have preceded the Asiatic settlement of that race. The cat also may not unlikely be a descendant of the European wild cat, but the sheep, the cow, the donkey, and the horse, as well as the barnyard fowl, are almost unquestionably of Asiatic origin. Of these the horse was probably the last to be domesticated, since we find that the Egyptians did not employ this animal until a relatively late stage of the historic period, namely, about the twentieth century b.c. This does not mean that the horse was unknown to the Asiatic nations until so late a period, but it suggests a relatively recent use of this animal as compared, for example, with the use of cattle, which had been introduced into Egypt before the beginning of the historic period. No animal of importance and only one bird—the turkey—has been added to the list of domesticated creatures since the dawn of history.
The studies of the philologists make it certain that long periods of time elapsed after man had entered on a pastoral life before he became an agriculturist. The proof of this is found, for example, in the fact that the Greeks and Romans use words obviously of the same derivation for the names of various domesticated animals, while a similar uniformity does not pertain to their names for cultivated cereals or for implements of agriculture. Theoretical considerations of the probable state of pastoral man would lead to the same conclusion, for the gap between the wandering habits of the owners of flocks, whose chief care was to find pasture, and the fixed abode of an agricultural people, is indeed a wide one. To be sure, the earliest agriculturist may not have been a strictly permanent resident of any particular district; he might migrate like the bird with the seasons, and change the region of his abode utterly from year to year, but he must in the nature of the case have remained in one place for several months together, that is to say, from sowing to harvest time; and to people of nomadic instincts this
interference with their desires might be extremely irksome, to say nothing of the work involved in cultivating the soil. But once the advantages of producing a vegetable food supply, according to a preconceived plan, instead of depending upon the precarious supply of nature, were fully understood and appreciated, another great forward movement had been made in the direction of ultimate civilisation. Incidentally it may be added that another incentive had been given one tribe to prey upon another, and conversely another motive for strengthening the bonds of tribal unity.
Agricultural plants, like domesticated animals, are practically all of Asiatic origin. There are, however, three important exceptions, namely, maize among cereals and the two varieties of potato, all of which are indigenous to the Western hemisphere, and hence were necessarily unknown to the civilised nations of antiquity. With these exceptions all the important agricultural plants had been known and cultivated for numberless generations before the opening of the historic period.
We have just seen how the introduction of domesticated animals and agricultural plants must have influenced the communal habits of primitive man in the direction of the establishment of local government. There are reasons to believe that, prior to taking these steps, the most advanced form of human settlement was the tribe or clan consisting of the members of a Single family. The unit of this settlement was the single family itself with a man at its head, who was at once provider, protector, and master. As the various members of a family held together in obedience to the gregarious instinct, which man shares with the greater number of animals, it was natural that some one member of the clan should be looked to as the leader of the whole. In the ordinary course of events, such leader would be the oldest man, the founder of the original family ; but there must have been a constant tendency for younger men of pronounced ability to aspire to the leadership, and to wrest from the patriarch his right of mastery.
Such mastery, however, whether held by right of age, or of superior capacity, must have been in the early day very restricted in scope, for of necessity primitive man depended largely on his own individual efforts both for securing food, and for protection of himself and his immediate family against enemies, and under such circumstances an independence of character must have been developed that implies an unwillingness to submit to the autocratic authority of another. Only when the pastoral and agricultural phases of civilisation had become fully established, would communities assume such numerical proportions as to bring the question of leadership of the clan into perpetual prominence; and no doubt a very long series of internal strifes and revolutionary dissensions must have preceded the final recognition of the fact that no large Community of people can aspire to anything like integrity without the clear recognition of some centralised authority. Under the conditions incident to the early stages of civilisation, where man was subject to the marauding raids of enemies, it was but natural that this centralised authority should be conceded to some man whose recognised prowess in warfare had aroused the respect and admiration of his fellows. Thus arose the System of monarchial government, which we find fully established everywhere among the nations of antiquity when they first emerge out of the obscuration of the prehistoric period. The slow steps of progress by which the rights of the individual came to strike an evener balance, as against the all-absorbing usurpations of the monarch and a small coterie of his adherents, constitute one of the chief elements of the story ofH.W. — VOL. I. E
history that is to be unfolded in our pages. But when the story opens, there is no intimation of this reaction. The monarch is all dominant; his individual subjects seem the mere puppets of his will.
Eighth. The Arts of Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Architecture.
The graven fragments of ivory and of reindeer horn, found in the cave deposits of the stone age, give ample proof that man early developed the desire and the capacity for drawing. Doubtless there was a more or less steady advance upon this art of the cave-dweller throughout succeeding generations, though the records of such progress are for the most part lost. The monuments of Egypt and of Mesopotamia, however, have been preserved to us in sufficient completeness to prove that the graphic arts had reached a really high stage of development before the close of the prehistoric period. It is but fair to add, however, that in this direction the changes of the earlier centuries of the historic period were far greater than were the changes in the practical arts.
As early as the ninth century b.c. the Assyrians had developed the art of sculpture in bas-relief in a way that constituted a marvellous advance upon anything that may reasonably be believed to have been performed by prehistoric man, and only three centuries later came the culminating period of Greek art, which marked the stage of almost revolutionary progress.
Ninth. The Art of Writing.
One other art remains to be mentioned even in the most cursory survey. This is the latest, and in some respects the greatest of them all — the art of writing. In one sense this art is only a development of the art of drawing, but it is a development that has such momentous consequences that it may well be considered as distinct. Moreover, it led to results so important for the historian, and so directly in line of all our future studies, that we shall do well to examine it somewhat more in detail.
All the various phases of prehistoric culture at which we have just glanced have left reminiscences, more or less vague in character, for the guidance of students of later ages; but the materials for history proper only began to be accumulated after man had learned to give tangible expression to his thoughts in written words. No doubt the first steps toward this accomplishment were taken at a very early day. We have seen that the cave-dweller even made graphic though crude pictures, including hunting scenes, that are in effect the same in intent, and up to a certain point the same in result, as if the features of the event were described in words. Doubtless there was no generation after the stone age in which men did not resort, more or less, to the graphic delineation of ideas.
The familiar story that Herodotus tells of the message sent by the Scythians to Darius is significant. It will be recalled that the Scythian messenger brought the body of a bird, a mouse, and a frog, together with a bundle of five arrows. Interrogated as to the meaning of this strange gift, the messenger replied that his instructions were to present the objects and retire. Darius and his officers were much puzzled to interpret the mes sage, Darius himself being disposed to regard it as an admission on the part of the Scythians that they conceded him lord of their territory, the land, water, and air; but one of the officers of the great king gave a different Interpretation, which was presently accepted as the correct one. As he read the message it implied that unless the Persians could learn to fly through the air like birds, or to burrow through the earth like a mouse, or to dive through the water like a frog, they should not be able to escape the arrows of the Scythians. Miss Amelia B. Edwards, in her delightful book on
Egypt, has hazarded some conjectures as to the exact way in which the bird and mouse and frog and arrows were presented to Darius. She believes that they were fastened to a piece of bark, or perhaps to a fragment of hide, in fixed position, so that they became virtually hieroglyphics. The question is interesting, but of no vital importance, since the exact manner of presentation would not in any way alter the intent, but would only bear upon the readiness of its interpretation. The real point of interest lies in the fact of this transmission of ideas by Symbols, which constitutes the essence of the art of writing.
It may be presumed that crude methods of sending messages, not unlike this of the Scythians, were practised more or less independently, and with greater or less degrees of elaboration, by barbaric and half-civilised tribes everywhere. The familiar case of the American Indians, who were wont to send a belt of wampum and an arrow as a declaration of war, is an illustration in point. The gap between such a presentation of tangible objects and the use of crude pictures to replace the objects themselves would not seem, from a civilised Standpoint, to be a very wide one. Yet no doubt it was an enormously difficult gap to cross. Granted the idea, any one could string together the frog, the bird, the mouse, and the arrows, but only here and there a man would possess the artistic skill requisite to make fairly recognisable pictures of these objects. It is true that the cave man of a vastly earlier period had developed a capacity to draw the outlines of such animals as the reindeer and the mammoth with astonishing verisimilitude. Professor Sayce has drawn the conclusion from this that the average man dwelling in the caves of France at that remote epoch could draw as well as the average Frenchman of to-day ; but a moment's consideration will make it clear that the facts in hand by no means warrant so sweeping a conclusion. There is nothing to show, nor is there any reason to believe, that the cave-dweller pictures that have come down to us are the work of average men of that period. On the contrary, it is much more likely that they were the work, not of average men, but of the artistic geniuses of their day, — of the Michelangelos, Raphaels, or if you prefer, the Landseers, the Bonheurs, and Corots of their time.
There is no more reason to suppose that the average cave dweller could have drawn the reindeer hunting scene or the famous picture of the mam moth, than that the average Frenchman of to-day could have painted the Horse Fair. There is no reason then to suppose that the average Scythian could have made himself equally intelligible to Darius by drawing pictures instead of sending actual objects, though quite possibly there were some men among the Scythian hordes who could have done so. The idea of such pictorial ideographs had seemingly not yet come to the Scythians, but that idea had been attained many centuries before by other people of a higher plane of civilisation. At least four thousand years before the age of Darius, the Babylonians, over whose descendants the Persian king was to rule, had invented or developed a picture-writing and elaborated it until it was able to convey, not merely vague generalities, but exquisite shades of meaning. The Egyptians, too, at a period probably at least as remote, had developed what seems an independent System of picture-writing, and brought it to an astonishing degree of perfection.
At least three other Systems of picture-writing in elaborated forms are recognised, namely, that used by the Hittites in Western Asia, that of the Chinese, and that of the Mexican Indians in America. No dates can be fixed as to when these were introduced, neither is it possible to demonstrate
the entire independence of the various systems ; but all of them were developed in prehistoric periods. There seems no reason to doubt that in each case the picture-writing consisted originally of the mere graphic presentation of an object as representing an idea connected with that object itself, precisely as if the Scythians had drawn pictures of the mouse, the bird, the frog, and the arrows in order to convey the message to Darius. Doubtless periods of incalculable length elapsed after the use of such ideograms as this had come into vogue before the next great step was taken, which consisted in using a picture, not merely to represent some idea associated with the object depicted, but to represent a sound. Probably the first steps of this development came about through the attempt to depict the names of men. Since the name of a man is often a combination of syllables, having no independent significance, it was obviously difficult to represent that name in a picture record, and yet, in the nature of the case, the name of the man might often constitute the most important part of the record. Sooner or later the difficulty was met, as the Egyptian hieroglyphics prove to us, by adopting a system of phonetics, in which a certain picture Stands for the sound of each syllable of the name. The pictures selected for such syllabic use were usually chosen because the name of the object presented by the pic ture began with the sound in question. Such a syllabary having been introduced, its obvious utility led presently to its application, not merely to the spelling of proper names, but to general purposes of writing.
One other step remained, namely, to make that final analysis of sounds which reduces the multitude of syllables to about twenty-five elementary sounds, and to recognise that, by supplying a symbol for each one of these sounds, the entire cumbersome structure of ideographs and syllables might be dispensed with. The Egyptians made this analysis before the dawn of history, and had provided themselves with an alphabet; but strangely enough they had not given up, nor did they ever relinquish in subsequent times, the system of ideographs and syllabics that mark the stages of evolution of the alphabet. The Babylonians at the beginning of their historic period had developed a most elaborate system of syllabics, but their writing had not reached the alphabet stage.
The introduction of the alphabet to the exclusion of the cruder methods was a feat accomplished within the historic period by the Phoenicians, some details of which we shall have occasion to examine later on. This feat is justly regarded as one of the greatest accomplishments of the entire historic period. But that estimate must not blind us to the fact that the Egyptians and Babylonians, and probably also the Chinese, were in possession of their fully elaborated Systems of writing long before the very beginnings of that historic period of which we are all along speaking. Indeed, as has been said, true history could not begin until individual human deeds began to be recorded in written words.
H. C. BRUGSCH, E. A. WALLIS BUDGE, C. K. J. BUNSEN, J. F. CHABAS, ADOLF ERMAN, K. R. LEPSIUS, A. E. MARIETTE, G. C. C. MASPERO, EDUARD MEYER, W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE, J. GARDNER WILKINSON
CLAUDIUS AELIANUS, WM. BELOE, THE HOLY BIBLE, J. B. BIOT, SAMUEL BIRCH, J. F. CHAMPOLLION, DIODORUS SICULUS, GEORG EBERS, AMELIA B. EDWARDS, ROBERT HARTMANN, A. H. L. HEEREN, HERODOTUS, FLAV1US JOSEPHUS, H. LARCHER, J. P. MAHAFFY, MANETHO, AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS, JOHN MAUNDEVILLE, MELA POMPONIUS, L. MENARD, PAUSANIAS, PETRONIUS, PLINY, PLUTARCH, R. POCOCKE, PETER LE PAGE RENOUF, I. ROSELLINI, E. DE ROUGE, C. SAVARY, F. VON SCHLEGEL, G. SERGI, SOLINUS, STRABO, ISAAC TAYLOR, THE TURIN PAPYRUS AND THE DYNASTIC LISTS OF KARNAK, ABYDOS, AND SAQQARAH, A. WIEDEMANN, HENRY SMITH WILLIAMS, AND THOMAS YOUNG
Copyright, 1904, By HENRY SMITH WILLIAMS. All rights reserved.
Ancient and Modern Egypt
Professor of Egyptology in the University of Berlin ; Director of the Berlin Egyptian Museum; Member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, Berlin, etc.
The countries that laid the foundation of our civilisation are not of those through which traffic passes on its way from- land to land. Neither Babylon nor Egypt lies on one of the natural highways of the world; they lie hidden, encircled by mountains or deserts, and the seas that wash their shores are such as the ordinary seafarer avoids rather than frequents.
But this very seclusion, which to us, with our modern ideas, seems a thing prejudicial to culture, did its part toward furthering the development of mankind in these ancient lands; it assured to their inhabitants a less troublous life than otherwise falls to the lot of nations under primitive conditions. Egypt, more particularly, had no determined adversary, nor any that could meet her on equal terms close at hand. To west of her stretched a desert, leading by interminable wanderings to sparsely populated lands. On the east the desert was less wide indeed, but beyond it lay the Red Sea, and he who crossed it did but reach another desert, the Arabian waste. Southward for hundreds of miles stretched the barren land of Nubia, where even the waterway of the Nile withholds its wonted service, so that the races of the Sudan are likewise shut off from Egypt. And even the route from Palestine to the Nile, which we are apt to think of as so short and easy, involved a march of several days through waterless desert and marshy ground. These neighbour countries, barren as they are, were certainly inhabited, but the dwellers there were poor nomads ; they might conquer Egypt now and again, but they could not permanently injure her civilisation.
Thus the people which dwelt in Egypt could enjoy undisturbed all the good things their country had to bestow. For in this singular river valley it was easier for men to live and thrive than in most other countries of the world. Not that the life was such as is led in those tropic lands where the fruits of earth simply drop into the mouth, and the human race grows enervated in a pleasant indolence ; the dweller in Egypt had to cultivate his fields, to tend his cattle, but if he did so he was bounteously repaid for his labour. Every year the river fertilised his fields that they might bring forth barley and spelt and fodder for his oxen. He became a settled husbandman, a grave and diligent man, who was spared the disquiet and hardships endured by the nomadic tribes. Hence in this place there early developed a civilisation which far surpassed that of other nations, and with which only that of
far-off Babylonia, where somewhat similar local conditions obtained, could in any degree vie. And this civilisation, and the national characteristics of the Egyptian nation which went hand in hand with it, were so strong that they could weather even a grievous storm. For long ago, in the remote antiquity which lies far beyond all tradition, Egypt was once overtaken by the same calamity which was destined to befall her twice within historic times — she was conquered by Arab Bedouins, who lorded it over the country so long that the Egyptians adopted their language, though they altered and adapted it curiously in the process. This transplantation of an Asiatic language to African soil is the lasting, but likewise the only, trace left by this primeval invasion; in all other respects the conquerors were merged into the Egyptian people, to whom they, as barbarians, had nothing to offer. There is nothing in the ideas and reminiscences of later Egyptians to indicate that a Bedouin element had been absorbed into the race ; in spite of their language the aspect they present to us is that of the true children of their singular country, a people to whom the desert and its inhabitants are something alien and incomprehensible. It is the same scene, mutatis mutandis, that was enacted in the full light of history at the rise of Islam ; then, too, the unwarlike land was subdued by the swift onset of the Bedouins, who also imposed their language on it in the days of their rule ; and yet the Egyptian people remains ever the same, and the people who speak Arabic to-day in the valley of the Nile have little in common with the Arabs of the desert.
Long before the period at which our historical knowledge begins, these Egyptian husbandmen had laid the foundations of their civilisation. They still went unclad and delighted to paint their bodies with green pigment; their ruler still wore a lion's tail at his girdle and a strange savage-looking top-knot on his head ; his sceptre was still a staff such as may be cut from the tree ; but these staves already ruled a wide domain full of townships large and small. And in each of these there were already nobles, responsible to the king for the government thereof, looking with reverence toward his " great house," and paying him tribute of their com and cattle. And in the midst of the clay huts in every place stood a large hut, with wattled walls, the entrance adorned with poles ; no other than the sanctuary of their god. Already they carved his image in wood and carried it round the town at festivals. Manifold are the accomplishments which the Egyptians have acquired by this time. They fashion the flint of the desert into knives and weapons of the utmost perfection of workmanship, they make cords, mats, and skiffs out of the rushes from the marshland, they are acquainted with the art of manufacturing tiles and earthen vessels from the clay of the soil. They carve in wood and ivory, and their carvings have already a peculiar character wholly their own. Moreover, they have prepared the way for the greatest of their achievements and have learned to record their ideas by drawing small pictures ; the character is still for the most part pictographic, but even now certain particular pictures are used to denote sounds.
On this primitive period of the Egyptian nation we can only gaze from afar ; we do not meet it face to face until the time when the two kingdoms, into which the country had hitherto been divided, were united for the first time by King Menes ; this may have taken place after the middle of the fourth millennium. The union must have given a strong impulse to the life of the nation, and but a few generations after the days of King Menes the monuments that have come down to us exhibit most of the features characteristic of Egyptian civilisation in the later centuries. The might of
Egypt waxes apace ; a few centuries more—at the period we are in the habit of speaking of as the Old Kingdom—and its development has progressed so far that nothing now seems beyond its strength. The gigantic buildings of the IVth Dynasty, whose great pyramids defy the tooth of time, bear witness to this. How proudly self-conscious must the race have been which strove thus to set up for itself a perpetual memorial! And if this passion for the huge is relinquished in succeeding centuries, it is merely a token of the further development of the nation; it has wearied of the colossal scale, and turns its attention to a greater refinement of life, the grace of which still looks forth upon us from the monuments of the Vth Dynasty.
Thus, even under the Old Kingdom, Egypt is a country in a high state of civilisation; a centralised government, a high level of technical skill, a religion in exuberant development, an art that has reached its zenith, a literature that strives upward to its culminating point,—this it is that we see displayed in its monuments. It is an early blossom, put forth by the human race at a time when other nations were yet wrapped in their winter sleep. In ancient Babylonia alone, where conditions equally favourable prevailed, the nation of the Sumerians reached a similar height. Any one who will compare these two ancient civilisations of Babylonia and Egypt cannot fail to see that they present many similarities of custom ; thus in both the seal is rolled upon the clay, and both date their years according to certain events. The idea that some connection subsisted between them, and that then, as in later times, the products of both countries were dispersed by commerce through the world about them, is one that suggests itself spontaneously. But substantial evidence in support of this conjecture is still lacking and will probably ever remain so.
The great age of the Old Kingdom ends in a collapse, the body politic breaks up into its component parts, and the level of civilisation in the provinces sinks rapidly. But it rises again no less rapidly, when, at the close of the third millennium B.C., Egypt is once more united under a single sovereign.
The Middle Kingdom, as we customarily call this epoch, is a second season of efflorescence ; indeed, it is the time upon which the Egyptians of succeeding generations looked back as the classic period of their literature ; and many centuries later, boys at school were still patiently copying out the wise lessons which the first king of the period imparted to his son, or the adventures of his contemporary, Sinuhe, and thereby learning the elegance of style in which the Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom were such adepts. This, moreover, is the epoch in which, so far as we know, the Egyptian arms were first carried to remoter lands ; at this time Nubia became an Egyptian province, and the gold of its desert thenceforth belonged to the Pharaohs. The memory of this extension of the sway of Egypt survived among the Egyptians of later days, embodied in the semi-mythical figure of the great King Sesostris. When legend reports that this monarch likewise subjugated distant lands to the north, we have now no means of judging how much truth there may be in the tale. But this we can see, that at that time Egypt maintained commercial relations with the countries of the Mediterranean ; for their dainty vases are found in Egyptian rubbish heaps of the period, and may have been imported into the Nile valley then, as later, as vessels for containing delicate foreign oils.
These palmy days of the second period of Egyptian history lasted for barely two hundred years, and then a time of political decadence again set in,
and Egypt for some centuries passes almost out of sight. One thing only do we know of its fortunes during this interval, namely, that it once more fell a prey to barbarian conquerors. The Hyksos — presumably a Bedouin tribe from the Syrio-Arabian desert — long reigned in Egypt as its lords. But the sway of these barbarians was naturally lax, and while the foreign great king abode in his camp on the Delta, Egyptian princes ruled as his vassals in the great cities of Egypt. And when, as was inevitable, the might of the barbarians waned, the might of these dynasts increased, till one of them, who ruled in the little city of Thebes in distant Upper Egypt, rose to such a height of power as to gain the mastery, not only over the other princes, but ultimately over the Hyksos themselves. About the year 1600 b.c. we find Egypt free once more, and under the sceptre of this same upper Egyptian line which has rendered the names of Thebes, its city, and Amen, its god, forever famous. The New Kingdom, the greatest age that the Nile Valley ever saw, has dawned.
The power of the kingdom waxed apace beyond its borders. Tehutimes I and his son, the indefatigable warrior, Tehutimes III, subdued a region that extended northward to northern Syria and southward to the Sudan; Egypt became the neighbour of the kingdom of Mitani [or Mitanni] on the Euphrates, of the rising power of Assyria, of ancient Babylonia. The two ancient civilisations which had been developing for thousands of years in Mesopotamia and the valley of the Nile were thus brought into direct contact, and we shall hardly be wrong in saying that during these centuries a great part of the civilised world whose heirs we are, met together in a common life. A brisk trade must have developed as a result of this new relation of country to country. The countries of the Mediterranean, where the so-called Mycenaean civilisation was then in its prime, had their part in it, as is proved by the discovery of numerous Mycenaean vessels in the tombs and ruins of the New Kingdom, and no less by the productions of Egyptian technical art which have been brought to light from the seats of Mycenaean civilisation.
The effect of these altered relations upon Egypt is easy to see. Vast wealth pours into the country and enables the Pharaohs to erect the gigantic fabric of the Theban temples. But at the very time when the spirit of ancient Egypt finds its most splendid transfiguration in these buildings, it begins to suffer loss and change. The old simple garb no longer beseems the lords of so great an empire ; it must give place to a costlier. The antiquated literary language handed down from days of old is gradually superseded by the vulgar tongue. And if the Egyptians had up to this time looked proudly down upon all other nations as wretched barbarians, they must have found this narrow-min'ded view untenable when once they had met face to face the equally ancient civilisation of Babylonia and the vigorous growth of Syrian and Mediterranean cultures. The sons of Egypt's Asiatic vassals attend her king, their daughters sit in his harem; Syrian mercenaries form one regiment of his bodyguard, foreign captives work on the edifices he builds. His officers, military and civil, have all made some stay on Asiatic soil, and his “letter-scribe” can read and write the cuneiform characters of Babylonia. The commerce which led foreign merchants to Egypt must have acted no less powerfully; they brought in silverware, wood of various kinds, horses and oxen, wine, beer, oil, and unguents, and carried away in return the manifold products of Egyptian industry and Egyptian crafts. In the long result not only does their traditional fear of foreigners pass away, but Asiatic fashions actually come into vogue
among cultured Egyptians. They coquet with foreign Canaanitish phrases, and think it permissible to offer up prayer to Baal [Bel] Astarte, and other gods of alien peoples. Asiatic singing-girls set the lyre of their native land in place of the old Egyptian harp, and many an intellectual possession may have migrated into Egypt with their songs.
It is far harder to gauge in detail the effect of Egyptian supremacy on Asia and Europe. We can see from the discoveries made in these countries what a quantity of small Egyptian wares in glass and faience, silver and bronze, was exported during this period, and we may further conclude that this was the time when the industrial art of Syrio-Phoenicia acquired its Egyptianised style. Similarly we may conjecture that it was then that our civilisation adopted all those things which were undoubtedly invented or perfected on Egyptian soil, and which we meet with even in the very oldest Greek and Etruscan times — the forms of household furniture, of columns, statues, weapons, seals, and many other things which still play their part in our daily life, though we are all unconscious of their Egyptian origin. At that period, when Egypt held the first place in Asia and Europe, a stream of Egyptian influence must have flowed out upon the whole world — a stream of which we still can guess the force only from these traces it has left.
As for the most precious lore that other nations might have learned from the Egyptians, we have no Information concerning it whatever; though it is certain that their intellectual riches, their religion and poetry, their medical and arithmetical skill, can have been no less widely spread abroad than these productions of their technical dexterity. If, for example, our religion tells us of an immortality of the soul more excellent than the melancholy existence of the shades, the conception is one first met with in ancient Egypt; and Egyptian, likewise, is the idea that the fate of the dead is determined by the life led upon earth. These conceptions come to us by way of the Jewish religion. But may not the Jews have obtained them from Egypt, the land that bore its dead so heedfully in mind ? The silent paths by which such thoughts pass from nation to nation are, it is true, beyond all showing. Or, if much in the gnomic poetry of the Hebrews reminds us strikingly of the abundant proverbial literature of Egypt, the idea of seeking its origin in the Nile Valley is one that occurs almost spontaneously. Here, too, of course, we have no proof to offer; connections of the kind can be no more than guessed at.
Thus the first part of the New Kingdom, or what we are in the habit of calling the XVIIIth Dynasty, is one of those periods which are pre-eminent as having advanced the progress of the world. To Egypt herself this co-operation with other nations might have brought a new and loftier development, had she been able really to assimilate the influx of new ideas. But of this the old nation was no longer capable ; it had not vigour enough to shake off the ballast wherewith its thousands of years of existence had laden it.
About 1400 B.C. one of the Pharaohs — it was Amenhotep IV — did indeed make a serious attempt to break with custom and tradition and adapt the faith and thought of his people to the new conditions. He tried to create a new religion, in which only one god should be worshipped — the Sun, a divinity which could be equally adored by all peoples within his kingdom. And it sounds strangely un-Egyptian when the hymns to this new god insist that all men, Syrians, Ethiopians, and Egyptians, are alike dear to him; he has made them to differ in colour and speech, and has placed them in different lands, but he takes thought for all alike.
But this attempt of the fourth Amenhotep came to naught, and the spirit of ancient Egypt triumphed over the abominable heretic. And with this triumph the fate of Egypt was sealed. True, in the next century, under the Sethos and the Ramses she enjoyed a period of external splendour, to which the great temples of Karnak, Luxor, and Medinet Habu still testify. But it was an illusory glory. Egypt was outworn and exhausted; she could no longer maintain her political ascendency, her might falls to pitiable ruin while younger and more vigorous nations in anterior Asia take the place that once was hers. And therewith begins the long and mournful death struggle of the Egyptian nation. The chief authority passes from the hands of the kings to those of the priests, from them to the Commanders of the Syrian mercenaries; and then Egypt falls a prey to the Ethiopian barbarians, with whom the Assyrians next dispute it. For five long centuries the wretched nation is whelmed beneath these miseries, and yet, so far as we can see, they work no change in it; it is, in truth, exhausted utterly.
Once more, after the fall of the Assyrian empire, the political Situation changes in Egypt's favour, and Psamthek I and his successors won back wealth and power for her. But the aged nation had no longer the skill to take wise advantage of propitious fortune; it had no thoughts of its own, nor could it find fitting form for its new splendour. The Egyptians rested content with imitating in whimsical fashion, in all things, the Old Kingdom, the earliest period of their national glory, and the contemporaries of Neku and Apries [Uah-ab-Ra] took pleasure in feigning themselves the subjects of Cheops, in bearing the titles of his court, and writing in a language and orthography which had been in use two thousand years before. Learned antiquarianism is the distinguishing feature of this latest Egyptian development.
The end of the sixth century brought fresh calamities upon the land. Cambyses conquered it, and it became a Persian province. And although, after many a vain attempt at revolt, it shook off the foreign yoke for awhile, about 400 b.c., yet in a few decades it again fell into the hands of the Persians. Since those days Egypt has never had a ruler of her own blood; she has been the hapless spoil of any who chose to take her.
Alexander the Great was the first to whom the country fell, and at his death it became the heritage of his general, Ptolemy. In his family it was handed down, to become at length a province of the Roman Empire in the year 30 b.c. Throughout its length and breadth there is but one spot that thrives during this period, the new port of Alexandria, founded by the great king in the barren west of the Delta; this becomes a metropolis of the Greek world, and its merchants and manufacturers extend their trade by land and sea to every quarter. But this same Alexandria was ever something of an alien in Egypt, and the rest of the country took no part in the busy life that ran its round there; it grew corn and flax and wine and supplied them to the Roman world, it throve, but less for its own profit than that of the empire. Greek culture made its way but slowly there, and even in the great cities of the interior the Greek language and the Greek religion were never strong enough to displace the native idiom and the old faith. They influenced it by degrees, much as the European culture of to-day influences the ancient civilisation of the far East, but even as the Chinese remain Chinese in spite of railroads and the telegraph, so the Egyptians of the Graeco-Roman period clung tenaciously to their own ways. They held fast all points of the national customs they only half understood; above all, they held to their ancient faith. And yet by that time the religion of Egypt was as degenerate
and debased as it could possibly be. As is apt to be the case with antiquated beliefs, its mere singularities had flourished at the expense of its wholesome side; cats, snakes, and crocodiles had now become the most sacred of beings in the eyes of the vulgar, and every kind of superstition was rampant. The depositaries of this religion were the members of a stereotyped hierarchy that had long lost touch with the outer world ; they worshipped their gods according to the old tradition, used the ample wealth of the temples to build them new shrines in the old style, and enjoyed their fat benefices under the benevolent protection of the foreign government.
Thus the Egypt of this later day had long been empty of all vital force ; it continued to exist, but only because the aged nation had lost the power of adapting itself to the new world. And yet this decrepit Egyptian character, with its dead religion, cast a singular spell over the sated spirit of the Roman world. The worship of Isis and Serapis spread far and wide; everywhere Egyptian sorcerers found a willing public for their superstitions. Roman tourists visited the ancient land, gazed in amazement at its wonders, while at home the nobles built themselves villas in the Egyptian style and adorned them with statues from Memphis. Even the most highly educated looked upon Egypt as a holy land, where everything was full of mystery and marvel, and piety and the true worship of the gods had their dwelling place from of old. And even after the fashionable predilection for things Egyptian had passed away, this notion of the mysterious and sacred land of Egypt remained fixed in men's minds, and was handed on from generation to generation. Whenever ancient Egypt is mentioned in later days it suggests ideas of mystery, symbolism, and esoteric wisdom. And so anything to which it is desired to lend an air of mystery claims derivation preferably from Egypt, the secret lodges of the eighteenth century no less than the spiritualists and quacks of our own day. Ancient Egypt has acquired this reputation, and though, now that we know it better, we perceive that it is but little in accordance with her true character, all our researches will not be able to dispel the illusion of two thousand years. In the future, as in the past, the feeling with which the multitude regards the remains of Egyptian antiquity will be one of awestruck reverence. Nevertheless, another feeling would be more appropriate, a feeling of grateful acknowledgment and veneration, such as one of a later generation might feel for the ancestor who had founded his family and endowed it with a large part of its wealth. For though we are seldom able to say with certainty of any one thing in our possession that it is a legacy we have inherited from the Egyptians, yet no one who seriously turns his attention to such subjects can now doubt that a great part of our heritage comes from them. In all the implements which are about us nowadays, in every art and craft which we practise now, a large and important element has descended to us from the Egyptians. And it is no less certain that we owe to them many ideas and opinions of which we can no longer trace the origin, and which have long come to seem to us the natural property of our own minds.
This legacy of ideas, no less than of technical dexterity and artistic form, which the Egyptians have bequeathed to us, constitutes the service they have done to the human race. They cannot vie with the Greeks in intellectual gifts, and they never possessed the force that determines the course of history; but they were able to develop their capabilities earlier than other nations, and thus secured for the world the substantial groundwork of civilisation.
Thirty centuries have passed since ancient Egypt accomplished this, her real mission for the world; since then she has hardly done more than till her
soil in its service. Silently her existence has flowed on, and all the catastrophes which have befallen her since Roman times have not been able to stir her to fresh vigour. Christianity spread in Egypt early, but the philosophic labours accomplished there in connection with it are the work of the educated Hellenistic classes, not of the Egyptians proper. What these last added to Christianity, the anchoretic and monastic life, cannot be counted among its advantages. And when, in the fifth century, the Egyptians broke away from the Catholic Church, the barbarian element to which the nation succumbed thenceforward finally triumphed. The tie that had bound the Egyptians to European civilisation was severed, and the Arab conquest had only to set the seal to this divorce.
This same Arab conquest, which, in the course of centuries, went so far as to rob the ancient nation of its ancient language, and imposed ä new faith upon the great majority of its inhabitants, was powerless to inspire it with new life. Outwardly Egypt has become Arab, but the Egyptians had but a very small share in the intellectual life of the Arab Middle Ages, a share probably not much larger than that which they had taken in Alexandrian culture.
Once again, in our own days, the opportunity of rousing itself afresh is offered to the Egyptian nation. It is once more linked with Europe, and its prosperity has advanced with astounding rapidity. From all sides new influences stream in upon the ancient people, and we would fain indulge in the hope that now at length it might awake to new life. But, unhappily, this hope has but little prospect of fulfilment, and all things will but run again the course they ran long ago in Grseco-Roman days. The foreigner will prosper in Egypt and invest it with a tinge of his own civilisation, the work of European civilisation will inspire an Egyptian here and there with a profound sympathy. But the nation itself will remain untouched, it will rise up no more, it has lived itself out and its intellectual capabilities are exhausted. In time to come, the Egyptian nation will probably do no more for the human race than diligently provide it with cotton and onions, as it does to-day.
UNTIL somewhat recently it has been customary to think of Egyptian history as constituting a single uniform period. Before our generation it was quite impossible for any one to realise the extreme length of time which this history involves ; or if a certain few did realise it, a consensus of opinion among the many forbade the acceptance of their estimate. Now, however, limitations of time are no longer a bugbear to the historian, and we are coming to realise the full import of the fact that when one speaks of historic Egypt he is referring to an epoch at least four thousand years in extent. Prior to the nineteenth century discoveries, the historian had only the most meagre supply of material dealing with any epoch prior to that age of the Trojan War which marked the extreme limits of the historic view in Greece; but now we understand that the men who built the Pyramids in Egypt were at least as far removed from Homer as Homer is removed from us : and it is but the expression of an historical platitude to say that a vast stretch of Egyptian history must lie back of the Pyramids ; for no one any longer supposes that a people recently emerged from barbarism could have created such structures.
Throughout classical times very little was known of the history of Egypt, except what was contained in the fragmentary remains of Manetho and the more lengthy descriptions of Herodotus and Diodorus. There were other references, of course, but for anything like a comprehensive knowledge of the history of the country it would have been necessary to understand the Egyptian language and decipher the hieroglyphics ; and no person throughout classical times had such understanding.
There were practically no additions to the world's knowledge of ancient Egyptian history from classical times till about the beginning of the nineteenth century. The stimulus to the new knowledge that was then acquired came about chiefly through the Egyptian expedition of Napoleon. The French expedition included various scientists who made a concerted effort to study the antiquities, and to transport as many of them as might be to Paris. In the latter regard the expedition failed, as in some more important particulars, through the interference of the British, with the result that some of the most important antiquities, including the since famous Rosetta stone,H.W. — VOL. I. F
found their way to the British Museum. A large amount of material, however, was transported to Paris, and gave occupation to the savants of France for about a generation before the final publication of results in a monumental work.
But before this publication, thanks to the efforts of Thomas Young in England, and Champollion in France, the hieroglyphics had been deciphered, and at last the almost inexhaustible word treasures of Egypt were made available as witnesses for history. Very naturally, a large number of explorers entered the field, and from that day till this there has been no dearth of Egyptologists either in the field of exploration or of interpretation. Prominent among these in the first half of the century were the pupils of Champollion, the Italians, Rossellini and Salvolini. But the most important work, perhaps, was done by the German, Lepsius, who came to be recognised as the foremost Egyptologist of his time, and whose Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien is still one of the most monumental works on the subject. In England, Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson took up the study of Egyptian life in particular, and deduced from the inscriptions of the monuments and from the pictures a comprehensive understanding of Egyptian manners and customs. The various workers at the British Museum, beginning with Birch and continuing with Renouf and with E. A. Wallis Budge, have added an ever increasing complement to our knowledge of Egyptian archaeology.
The country of Champollion has been ably represented in more recent time by Mariette and Maspero ; while in Germany, Dümichen, Meyer, and Wiedemann have worked and written exhaustively, the former with Special reference to archaeology, the two latter with reference to history. But no one else perhaps has given quite such attention to the language of old Egypt as Professor Adolf Erman. The field that Wilkinson occupied earlier in the century has also been entered by Professor Erman, and the most. recent and authoritative studies of Egyptian manners and customs are those that he has deduced from the papyri and the monumental inscriptions. Wilkinson depended largely upon pictorial representations for his information, but Erman has been able to go beyond these to the subtler and sometimes more illuminative written records.
As to the early history of Egypt, no one else has made such exhaustive studies as Professor W. M. Flinders Petrie, whose publications cover a wide ränge, from the most technical to the relatively popular. For a strictly popular presentation of the subject, however, the works of George Ebers, of Baron Bunsen, and of Amelia B. Edwards should be consulted, together with the books of Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson and the works of Professor Adolf Erman.
A more comprehensive account of these writers and their labours, together with reasonably complete bibliographies of the entire subject, will be found at the close of the history of Egypt. The character of the materials with which the Egyptologists have worked in creating a new history of one of the oldest civilisations, will be revealed as we proceed.
The Egyptians of history are probably a fusion of an indigenous white race of northeastern Africa and an intruding people of Asiatic origin. In the Archaic period independent kings ruled in the Delta region (Kings of the Red Crown) and in Upper Egypt (Kings of the White Crown). Under King Menes the two crowns were probably first united, and the Dynastie period begins. According to Egyptian traditions the pre-dynastic ages wereTHE TEMPLE AT KARNAK
filled with dynasties of gods and demigods, who were perhaps primeval chiefs or tribal leaders. Monuments of the pre-dynastic period are earthenware vases, jars, sculptured ivory objects, and flint implements. The dynasties which formed the foundation of all classifications of Egyptian history are based upon the lists of the Egyptian priest Manetho, who wrote a history of Egypt in the time of the Ptolemies. The original work of Manetho has not come down to us, and it is quite impossible to restore it in extenso from the fragmentary excerpts that are preserved. The writings of Josephus and of Eusebius are our chief sources for Manetho's lists, but Josephus copied the lists only in part, and Eusebius seemingly knew them only at second or third hand, when, it is suspected, they had been somewhat perverted in the interests of Hebrew chronology. Nevertheless, the dynasties of Manetho as we now know them probably do not very radically differ from the original lists. Beyond question these are based upon authentic Egyptian documents, but there is a good deal of confusion and much difference of opinion among Egyptologists, as to whether some of the dynasties were not contemporaneous ; and for many periods the lists are only provisional.
It is notable, however, that the somewhat recent discoveries of original Egyptian lists, such as the so-called Turin Papyrus and the dynastic lists of Karnak and Abydos, tend to corroborate the lists of Manetho, and show that he was an historian of very great merit. It is convenient also to regard the grand divisions of Egyptian history noted by Manetho, namely, the Old Memphis Kingdom, comprising the first ten dynasties; the Middle Kingdom or Old Theban Kingdom, comprising the XIth to the XVIIth Dynasties ; and the New Theban Kingdom, comprising the remaining dynasties.1
As to the dates employed in the following chronology, a word of explanation is necessary. Neither Manetho's lists nor any other available sources enable us at present to supply exact dates for the earlier periods of Egyptian history with any precision. Authorities differ as to the early period to the extent of more than three thousand years. Thus Champollion gives the date 5867 b.c. for the beginning of the Ist Dynasty, while Wilkinson supplies for the same event the date 2320 b.c. Later authorities are pretty fully agreed that such a date as that of Wilkinson is much too recent. Meyer fixes upon 3180 b.c. as the minimum date, and no doubt he would very willingly admit that the probable date is much more remote. For our present purpose it has been thought well to adopt an intermediate date, as in some sense striking an average among divergent opinions. The dates of Brugsch, which agree rather closely with those of Mariette and Petrie, have in the main been followed here, with certain modifications made necessary by recent discoveries, chiefly with reference to synchronism with known dates of the Assyrian empire and other countries. It will be understood, therefore, that all the earlier dates of this chronology are accepted as merely approximative, the approximation becoming closer and closer as we com© down the centuries. At the middle of the XVIIIth Dynasty the dates cannot be more than twenty years out of the way, while from the XXIInd onward the probable error is very small indeed, vanishing entirely with the accession of Psamthek I of the XXVIth Dynasty.
For present purposes it is undesirable to give a complete list of the names of Egyptian kings. Fuller details as to monarchs and events will be given elsewhere in our text. But the purposes of our preliminary
[1 For a full discussion of Egyptian chronology, see Appendix B.]
view are better subserved by confining attention to the more important Pharaohs, and to the principal events that give picturesqueness and interest to Egyptian history.
We take up now the synoptical view of the successive dynasties. Such a survey will, it is believed, furnish the reader with the best possible preparation for the full comprehension of the more detailed presentation that is to follow.
Egypt is a long Contree ; but it is streyt, that is to seye narrow ; for they may not enlargen it toward the Desert, for defaute of Watre. And the Contree is sett along upon the Ky vere of Nyle ; be als much as that Ryvere may serve be Flodes or otherwise that whanne it flowethe it may spreden abrood thorghe the Contree ; so is the Contree large of Lengthe. For there it reyneth not but litylle in the Contree ; and for that Cause, they have no Watre, but zif it be of that Flood of that Ryvere. And for als moche as it ne reyeneth not in that Contree, but the Eyr is alwey pure and clear, therefor in that Contree ben the gode Astronomyeres ; for thei fynde there no Cloudes to letten hem. — The voyage and travile of Sir John Maundeville, Kt.
Two theories as to the origin of the Egyptians have been prominent, the one supposing that they came originally from Asia, the other that their racial cradle lay in the upper regions of the Nile, particularly in Ethiopia. Even to-day there is no agreement among Egyptologists as to which of these the ories is correct. Among the earlier students of the subject, Heeren was prominent in pointing out an alleged analogy between the form of skull of the Egyptian and that of the Indian races. He believed in the Indian origin of the Egyptians.
One of the most recent authorities, Professor Flinders Petrie, inclines to the opinion that the Egyptians were of common origin with the Phoenicians, and that they came into the Nile region from the land of Punt, across the Red Sea. Professor Maspero, on the other hand, inclines to the belief in the African origin of the race; and the latest important anthropological theory, as propounded by Professor Sergi, contends for the Ethiopic origin of the entire Mediterranean race, of which the Egyptians are a part. According to this theory, a race whose primitive seat of residence was in the upper regions of the Nile spread gradually to the north, finally invading Asia by way of the Isthmus of Suez, and crossing to the peninsulas of southern Europe by way of Crete and Cyprus and Sicily, and perhaps also, after a long journey to the west along the Mediterranean coast of Africa, by way of the Straits of Gibraltar.
The true scientific status of the matter amounts merely to a confession of almost entire ignorance. The theory of Sergi, just referred to, finds a certain support in the data of cranial measurements, but it would be going
much beyond warrantable conclusions to affirm anything like certainty for the inferences drawn from all the observations as yet available. The historian is obliged, therefore, to fall back upon the simple fact that for a good many thousands of years before the Christian era, a race of people of unknown origin inhabited the Nile Valley, and had attained a very high state of civilisation. Whatever the origin of this people, and however diversified the racial elements of which it was composed, the climatic conditions of Egypt had long since imposed upon the entire population an influence that welded all the diverse elements into a single racial mould, so that, as Professor Maspero points out, at the very dawn of Egyptian history the inhabitants of the entire land of Egypt constituted a single race, speaking one language and showing very little diversity of culture.
It is one of the standing surprises for the Student of antiquity that the most massive structures ever built by man should be found in Egypt, dating from a period so remote as to be almost prehistoric. One finds it hard to
avoid the feeling that there was a race sprung suddenly to a very high plane of civilisation, as if by a sheer leap from barbarism; but, of course, no modern student of the subject considers the matter in this light. It is uniformly accepted that a vast period of time lies back of the Pyramids, in which the Egyptians were slowly working their way upward. Professor Maspero estimates that for at least eight or ten thousand years the people had inhabited this land, all along developing their peculiar civilisation. Of course such an estimate makes no claim to historical accuracy ; it is only a general conclusion based upon what seems a reasonable rate of progress.
The recent explorations in Egypt have endeavoured to penetrate the mysteries of what has hitherto been the prehistoric period, and these efforts have met with a certain measure of success. In the Fayum, Professor Petrie has made excavations that revealed the remains of a much earlier period than that of the first dynasties hitherto recognised. Among other interesting relics, sarcophagi were found containing mummified bodies in a marvellous state of preservation. One of these now exhibited at the British Museum in London shows the body of a man of full proportions lying on his side with knees folded up against his body. Unlike the mummies of the later Egyptian period, this ancient effigy has no wrappings of any kind, but so remarkable are the results of the processes of embalming to which
it has been subjected, that the form of the various members, and the features even, have been preserved with marvellously little shrinkage or distortion. The skin is indeed dry and dark, yet its resemblance to the skin of a living person of a dark-hued race is so striking that one can hardly realise, in looking at it, that the corpse before him is the body of a person who lived perhaps eight or ten thousand years ago.
As to other remains found by the later explorations, among the most interesting and suggestive are flint implements chipped in the manner characteristic of the Palaeolithic or rough stone age. We are guarded, however, against drawing too sweeping inferences from these antiquities by Professor Petrie's assurance that the Egyptians continued to use such chipped flint implements throughout the period from the IVth to the Xth Dynasty. It has been doubted whether any of these stone implements can be regarded as of strictly prehistoric origin, or whether, indeed, any of the antiquities discovered in Egypt evidence an uncivilised stage of racial history. The latest opinion, however, is that the makers of the pottery and flint implements were the aborigines of the country, who were displaced by the invasion of the Egyptians of history.
The most important excavations of the last eight or ten years, carried on by Amelineau, Petrie, and De Morgan have had for their object the collection of remains of this pre-dynastic era.
We are not likely to hear more of the contention that the archaic objects found at Naqada and other places were the work of a “New Race” of invaders that had intruded somewhere in those dark ages between the VIth and XIth Dynasties, for this long and bitter controversy is now replaced by a state of complete agreement among the authorities that the people who could lay claim to the pottery and flint objects were the aborigines living in Egypt when the Egyptians of history invaded the country.
In their possession of the country these aborigines were ousted by the race which gradually loomed upon the historic horizon and to whom it has long been the custom to assign Menes as the first king, treating the preceding periods as the time of the gods and demigods, to whose rule tradition assigns an epoch which varies from 1000 to nearly 40,000 years. But the indications are that within a few years there will be much light thrown on the period preceding King Menes. Just why this king should have been placed at the head of the Ist Dynasty now seems quite clear. He was the first “Lord of the Two Lands” — the united Upper and Lower Egypt.
It must be recognised by any one who would gain a clear idea of national existence, that the character of a race is enormously influenced by the physical and climatic features of its environment. There have been differences of opinion among students of the subject as to the amount of change that may be effected by altered surroundings. But whoever considers the matter in the light of modern ideas, can hardly be much in doubt as to the answer to any question thus raised.
If it be admitted that all the races of mankind sprang originally from a single source, — an hypothesis upon which students of the most diverse habits of thought are agreed, — then in the last analysis it would appear that we must look to such environing conditions as soil and climate for the causes of all the differences that are observed among the different races of the earth to-day. The man inhabiting equatorial regions has a dark skin and certain well-marked traits of character, simply because his ancestors for almost endless generations have been subjected to the influences of a tropical climate; and the light-skinned inhabitant of northern Europe
owes his antagonistic characteristics to the widely different climatic conditions of high latitudes. And what is true of these extreme instances, is no less true of all intermediate races.
In a word, then, the Egyptian would not have been the individual that we know, had he not lived in the valley of the Nile. The Mesopotamian required the environment of the Tigris and Euphrates to develop his typical characteristics, and similarly with the Greek and Roman, and with the members of every other race.
But, in accepting this view, one must not be blinded to the fact that the changes wrought by environment in the character of a race, are of necessity extremely slow. The peculiar traits that give racial distinction to any company of people have not been attained except through many generations of slow alteration; and such is the conservative power of heredity that the characteristics thus slowly stamped upon a race are well-nigh indelible. How pertinacious is their hold is best illustrated in the case of the modern Jews, who retain their racial identity though scattered in all regions of the globe. With this illustration in mind, it cannot be matter for surprise that any race that remains in the same environment, and as a rule does not mingle with other races, shall have retained the same essential characteristics throughout the historic period. That such is really the historic fact regarding any particular race of antiquity, might not at first sight be obvious. It might seem, for example, that the modern Egyptian, who plays so insignificant a part in the world-history of the nineteenth century, must be a very different person indeed from his ancient progenitor, who maintained for many centuries the dominant civilisation of the world.
But it must not be forgotten that national Standards are relative ; in other words, that the status of a people depends, not alone upon the plane of civilisation of that people itself, but quite as much upon the relative plane of civilisation of its neighbours. When the Egyptians sank from power, it was not so much that they lost their inherent capacity for progress, as that other nations outstripped them in the race, and came presently to dominate and subjugate them, and thus to stamp out their ambition. In support of this view, note the fact that the Egyptians again and again, at intervals of many centuries, were able to rouse themselves from a lethargy imposed by their conquerors, and to regain for a time their old position of supremacy. But the best tangible illustration of the fixity of the character of a race is furnished by the modern historians, who have at the same time most profoundly studied the ancient conditions as recorded on the monuments, and, while doing so, have been brought in contact with the present inhabitants of the Nile Valley.
No other scholars of the present generation have made more profound investigations than Professor Petrie and Professor Erman, both of whom have been led to comment on the extraordinary similarity of manner and custom and inherent characteristics between the ancient and the modern Egyptians. Here is Professor Erman'sg verdict:
" The people who inhabited ancient Egypt still survive in their descendants, the modern Egyptians. The vicissitudes of history have changed both language and religion, but invasions and conquests have not been able to alter the features of this ancient people. The hundreds and thousands of Greeks and Arabs who have settled in the country seem to have been absorbed into it; they have modified the race in the great towns, where their numbers were considerable, but in the open country they scarcely produced any effect. The modern fellah resembles his forefather of four thousand
years ago, except that he speaks Arabic, and has become a Mohammedan. In a modern Egyptian village, figures meet one that might have walked out of the pictures in an ancient Egyptian tomb. We must not deny that this resemblance is partly due to another reason besides the continuance of the old race. Each country and condition of life stamps the inhabitants with certain characteristics. The nomad of the desert has the same features, whether he wanders through the Sahara or the interior of Arabia; and the Copt, who has maintained his religion through centuries of oppression, might be mistaken at first sight for a Polish Jew, who has suffered in the same way. The Egyptian soil, therefore, with its ever constant conditions of life, has always stamped the population of the Nile Valley with the same seal.
“As a nation the Egyptians appear to have been intelligent, practical, and very energetic, but lacking poetical imagination; this is exactly what we should expect from peasants living in this country of toilsome agriculture. ‘In his youth the Egyptian peasant is wonderfully docile, sensible, and active; in his riper years, owing to want and care, and the continual work of drawing water, he loses the cheerfulness and elasticity of mind which made him appear so amiable and promising.’ This picture of a race, cheerful by nature, but losing the happy temperament and becoming selfish and hardened, represents also the ancient people.”
But, however freely it may be admitted that soil and climate put their seal upon a race, opinions will always differ as to just how the racial characteristics are to be interpreted. In the case of all Oriental nations the European mind has found such interpretation peculiarly difficult. The Egyptians are no exception to this rule, as we shall see.a
The whole of North Africa is covered by a great desert, bordered only on the northwest by a considerable arable district, which at present forms the states of Morocco, Algiers, and Tunis. Except for this, if we set aside a single strip of coast land in the country between the two Syrtes (Tripolis, Leptis) and in Cyrenaica (Bengari), this whole territory is totally destitute of all higher civilisation. It forms the natural frontier of the Mediterranean world, beyond which not even ancient civilisation ever penetrated. The interior of Africa was practically unknown to the Greek and Roman world.
The formidable desert land, embracing more than three million square miles, contains a series of depressed levels in which Springs are harboured, and Vegetation, especially the date-palm, thrives. These are the oases. Here, and here only, are permanent human settlements possible. At the same time the oases form stations in the wearisome and difficult way through the desert, where the trader who wants to acquire goods in the countries on the other side is exposed not only to the dangers that threaten him from want of water, loss of his way, and sand-storms, but also to the attacks of vagrant robber hordes that traverse the desert in nomadic confusion.
East of the great desert, at a distance of a few days' journey from the Arabian Gulf, lies a straggling fruitful valley, which in some sense may be regarded as an oasis of colossal dimensions. This is Egypt, the valley of the Lower Nile. On both sides it is bounded by desert land. On the west rises the plateau of the Libyan Desert, flat, absolutely barren, covered with impenetrable sand-banks. On the east a rocky highland of solid quartz and chalk rises in a gradual slope, at the back of which the crystalline masses of the so-called Arabian Mountains ascend to a height of about sixH.W. — VOL. I. G
thousand feet. In geological structure the two territorial districts are entirely different, but, although it is true that nomadic hordes can, at a pinch, keep body and soul together in the eastern desert, and that they are not entirely cut off from vegetation, from springs and cisterns in which the rainwater is gathered up from storm and tempest, civilisation is as much sealed to them as it is to the Libyan waste, through which it is impossible to penetrate, and which is habitable only in the oases.
Between the two deserts, occupying a breadth of from fifteen to thirty-three miles, lies the depression forming the valley of Egypt. It forms the bed which the river has dug for itself in the soft chalky soil with untiring activity. Formerly, thousands of years ago, — thousands indeterminate, —it poured through the country in riotous cascades, the traces of which are still clearly recognisable in many spots. Gradually the river cleaned out the whole bed and established a regular surface level. When the historical period begins, the creative career of the river has already long been completed ; from this time forward, the Nile flows in manifold curves and with numerous tributaries through the wrinkled valley, which it floods to a considerable degree only in midsummer, when the Ethiopian snow melts and seeks an outlet. The fertile land extends precisely as far as the waters of the Nile penetrate, or are guided by the hand of man in the flood season; a sharp line of demarcation separates the black fertile land formed of the muddy deposit left by the river, from the gray-yellow of the bordering desert. The breadth of the fertile territory is variable ; on an average it covers eight, rarely more than ten, miles. Only at the mouth of the Nile it expands to the wide marsh lands of the Delta, intersected by numerous swamps and lakes.
Also on the south the border-land of Egypt has a sharp natural line of demarcation. A little above the 24th degree of latitude, at Gebel Silsilis, the sandstone plateau joins right on the river, higher up covering the whole of Nubia. The narrow neck of river at Gebel Silsilis is the southern boundary of fertile Egypt. A significant saga rising from the Arabian name of the mountain range (Silsilis means “the chain”) tells how once upon a time the stream was cut off by a chain that connected the opposite mountains. About eight miles higher up, at Assuan (Syene) a mountain range of granite and syenite opposes the course of the river like a cross-rail. True, the river has broken through the hard stone, but it has not had the power to rub it away, as it has done with the chalk-stone of Egypt; in numerous rapids it forces a passage between neighbouring rocks and innumerable islands raised from its bed. Without doubt, however, the torrent has continued to make its bed deeper here also. We know from old Egyptian accounts of the Nile levels that about four
thousand years ago, at the time of the XIIth Dynasty, the Nile at the fortresses of Semneh and Kumneh, above the second cataract, must have been at least eight metres higher than it is at the present day. This can be explained only by supposing that, since then, the river must have burrowed an equivalent depth in the rocks of the cataract district.
This “First Cataract,” which makes real navigation very nearly an impossibility, —a vessel can be steered through the rapids only with considerable difficulty and danger, — has always formed the southern boundary of Egypt. Above it, the Nile flows in a great curve through the Nubian sandstone plateau. At numerous places its way is blocked by hard stone material, through which it digs a bed in cataracts. The river valley has throughout no more than a breadth of from five to nine miles. The fertile land, which at the time of the old empire was pretty thickly wooded, confines itself, where it does not cease altogether, to a narrow seam on the banks, so that the inhabitants, in order to leave as little as possible of it unutilised, formed their villages on the barren, unfruitful heights above it. The whole stretch of 1000 miles from Khartum to the first cataract contains at the present day only 1125 Square miles of laid-out land. South of the Tropic only, the country on the Red Sea is gradually becoming capable of fertilisation ; for the most part, here it bears the character of the Steppes. Also in the Nile, therefore, Egypt is almost totally shut off from Africa. The campaign of the English against the Mahdi has again given us a vigorous picture of how wearisome and difficult is the connection here ; of the dangers that a tropical sun, a deficiency of habitations, and the difficulties of communication offer to a small army that tries to advance here.
Egypt is the narrowest country in the world ; embracing an expanse of 570 miles in length, it does not contain more than 12,000 Square miles of fertile land, that is to say, it is not larger than the kingdom of Belgium. It is necessary to keep this fact clearly in view, especially as the maps accessible may only too easily convey quite a false impression, because they include the desert land within the boundary line of Egypt, and as a rule do not distinguish it by any sign from the fertile land. The ancient indigenous conception is in complete accordance with the geographical character of the land. Egypt, or Kamit, as the country is termed in the indigenous language (the name certainly signifies “the dark country”), is only the fertile valley of the Nile. Here only do the Egyptians dwell. The oases in the west and the “red country” (Tasherit) in the east, i.e. the naked, reddish, glimmering plateaus of the Arabian Desert, are reckoned as foreign with
consistent regularity, and they are not inhabited by Egyptians. The true state of affairs is quite accurately portrayed in the oracle which decreed, “Egypt is all the country watered by the Nile, and Egyptians are all those who dwell below the town Elephantine and drink Nile water.”
Herodotus defines Egypt accurately as a “bequest of the river”; to the river alone it owes its fertility and its well-being. But for the flowing river, the sand of the Libyan Desert would cover that whole wrinkled valley, which, with the aid of the river, has become one of the most fertile and most thickly populated countries on the earth.
At the time in which our historical information begins, we find the Lower Nile Valley inhabited by a race which, after the precedent of the Greeks, we call Egyptians. Whence the word comes, we know not; we can only say that Aigyptos in the first instance denotes the river — almost without exception in the Odyssey it is thus. The word was then transferred to the country and its inhabitants, and the river received the name of Neilos (Nile), the origin of which is equally obscure. An indigenous name of the population did not exist; the Egyptians denoted themselves, in distinction from foreigners, simply as “men” (rometu). Their country, as we have already mentioned, they called Kamit, “Black Country”; the river was named Ha-pi. Semitic people called Egypt, we know not why, Mior or Musr (Hebrew Mizraim, the termination being a very common one with the names of localities). In its Arabian form, Masr, this word, at the present day, has become the indigenous name of the country and of its capital, which we call Cairo. From the name Egyptians, on the contrary, was developed the modern denotation of the Christian successors of the old indigenous population, the Copts.
Controversy has been abundant and vigorous with regard to the ethnographical place of the Egyptians. While philologists and historians assume a relation with the neighbouring Asiatic races, separating the Egyptians by a sharp line of distinction from the negro race, ethnologists and biologists, Robert Hartmann pre-eminent amongst them, have defined them as genuine children of Africa who stood in indisputable physical relation with the races of the interior of the continent. And certainly in the type of the modern Egyptian there are points of contact with the typical negro, and we shall not here dispute the validity of the possible contention that a gradual transition from the Egyptians to the negroes of the Sudan can be demonstrated, and that in the Nile Valley we never are confronted with an acute ethnological contrast.
We should note, however, that an acute contradiction in races is nowhere on earth perceptible. Everywhere may be found members to bridge over the gap, and the classification which we so much need does not ever start with the intermediate stages, but with the extremes in which the racial type finds its purest illustration.
Moreover, the type of the modern Egyptian cannot straightway determine the question as to the origin of the ancient Egyptian population, even if we do not take into account the difficult problem of how far climate and soil exercise a moderating influence upon a race. The inhabitants of the Lower Nile Valley at the time of the New Kingdom, and from that time forward in the whole course of history, have mingled so extensively with pure African blood, that it would have been a miracle if no assimilation had taken place. It is an undoubted fact that the Turks belong to the peoples resembling the Mongolians; but who will put the modern Osman in the same line with the Chinaman, or fail to recognise the assimilation to
the Armenian, Persian, Semitic, Greek type? The same is true, for example, of the Magyars. A strictly analogous State of things is found in Egypt. It has been proved that, in the skull-formation of the modern Egyptian, the influence of the African element is more clearly discernible than in the days of the ancients. Moreover, a careful comparison leads to the conclusion that in ancient, as in modern Egypt, there are two co-existent types: one resembling the Nubian more closely, who is naturally more strongly represented in Upper Egypt than in Memphis and Cairo; and one sharply distinguished from him whom we may define as the pure Egyptian. Midway between these two Stands a hybrid form, represented in numerous examples and sufficiently accounted for by the intermixture of the two races.
While the Nubian type is closer akin to the pure negro type and is indigenous in Africa, we must regard the purely Egyptian type as foreign to this continent; this directs us toward the assumption that the most ancient home of the Egyptian is to be sought in Asia. The Egyptians have depicted themselves, times out of number, on monuments, and enable us clearly enough to recognise their type.
For the most part, they are powerful, close-knit figures, frequently with vigorous features. Not infrequently, as Erman has sagaciously suggested, the heads have a “clever, witty expression just like what we are accustomed to meet with in cunning old peasants.” We have a recurrence of the same trait in several early Roman portraits. Side by side with this we have finely cut features: for instance, we are reminded of the almost effeminate expression in the head of Ramses II. The Egyptian type is altogether different from the negro type; the structure of the nose, for in stance, is delicate for the most part, and there is no trace of prognathismus, or the protrusion of the lower part of the face.
On the monuments the colour of the skin in male Egyptians, who in ancient days went totally naked but for a loin cloth, is a red-brown. On the other hand, the women, who were clad in a long robe and were not equally exposed to the effects of air and sun, are painted in a lighter brown or yellow. In quite similar fashion the Greeks of old represented men on their vases as red and women as white. We should not forget that the art of depicting the finer shades of colours in paint had not yet been learnt.
Just as the Egyptians are distinguished from the population of the interior of Africa, so they have their nearest kinsmen in the inhabitants of the northern zone of the continent. West of them, on the coast lands on the Mediterranean as well as in the oases of the desert, dwell races which are comprehended by Egyptians under the term Thuhen. Following the precedent of the Greeks, we have transferred to all of them the name of the Libyans, that race which was settled in the territory of Cyrene, where the Greeks first learned of their existence. In Egyptian memorials we find them again under the name of Rebu (we should observe here, once for all, that neither Egyptian speech nor Egyptian writing has an L, and so in foreign words every R may be read as an L). The name Rebu, as the Greek form of the name tells us, was pronounced Lebu [Libu]. To the east of these Libyans proper, in the desert plateau of the country of Marmarica, dwell the Tuhennu, who spread as far as the borders of Egypt, and even also settled in the western portion of the Delta. Further westward, presumably in the neighbourhood of the Syrtes, we find the Mashauasha. The Greeks, especially Herodotus, have preserved for us a great number of other names. All these tribes, to which the dwellers in the oases also belong, are most closely related to one another, and form, together with the inhabitants of
western North Africa, the Numidians and the Moors, a great group of nations, which we denote by the term Libyan or Moorish, or in modern terminology the group of Berber nations. The Libyans are light in colour; on the Egyptian monuments they are represented by a white-gray skin tint.
In the Moors the old type is to some extent still preserved. They are warlike, brave tribes, not without talent. But none of them, it is true, developed a high civilisation, although they adopted certain elements of civilisation from the Egyptians, and later on, in Mauretania, from the Carthaginians. According to the representations on the monuments, the custom of tattooing their arms and legs ruled amongst them ; among the engraved signs we also meet with the symbol of Nit, the patron goddess of Saïs, whose population would appear to have consisted chiefly of Libyans.
As in the west, Libyans and Moors, to judge from their language, are connected with the Egyptians, so this is true in the south of a great number of tribes east of the Nile Valley. These are the ancestors of the modern Bedia tribes (i.e. of the Ababde, the Bischarin, and others, dwelling in the deserts and steppes east of the Upper Nile Valley), and of their relations, the Falaschas, the Gallas, the Somali. Among them the country and people of Cush attained particular pre-eminence in antiquity ; they were the southeastern neighbours of the Egyptians, who had their original settlements in the wastes and steppes of the mountain country east of the Nile. In the course of history they press forward against the negroes of the Nile Valley, the ancestors of the modern Nubians, and finally establish here a powerful empire.
The Hebrews and the Assyrians are accustomed to call this country Cush, and we too are in the habit of using this name Cushite instead of Egyptian. The Greeks call them Ethiopians. In the Christian era this name was adopted by a people living much farther south, the Semitic inhabitants of the great highlands of Habesh (Abyssinia), and this people and its language (Ge-ez) are therefore to-day called Ethiopian. But care must be taken not to transfer this term of modern usage in its modern significance to the circumstances of antiquity. The Ethiopia of antiquity is geographically about coterminous with modern Nubia.
A still more bewildering confusion has been engendered by the term Cushites. In the Old Testament, in the review of the races taking their departure from Noah, the name Cush has been transferred to Babylonia (Gen. x. 8 ; possibly also in the story of the Fall, ii. 13). This is to be explained by the fact that the robber mountain horde of the Kossaeans, or, as they called themselves, the Kasshu, maintained supremacy for centuries in Babylonia; this name was identified by the Hebrew narrator with that denoting the African tribe. Recent experts have derived the most illusory consequences from this misunderstanding. In consequence of it the Cushites have become for them an Asiatic-African aboriginal people of wide extent, appearing everywhere and never at home; and wherever we encounter riddles in the matter handed down to us, or a bold combination has to be made possible, these Cushites are trotted out, only to sink again into nothingness as soon as they have done their work. Conceptions of this character have found their way into ethnographical, philological, and historical works of high merit.
From the abortion that has grown out of the amalgamation of the Babylonian robber and warrior hordes with an African tribe, originally
of quite a low grade of cultivation and the scantiest mental endowment, has been manufactured a people to whom the beginning of all civilisation has been referred, to whose inspiration the great monuments of Egypt, as of Babylonia, are supposed to owe their origin, but whose personality ceases to be tangible anywhere from the moment that positive historical evidence begins.
In the face of this we must again dwell on the fact that the Kossaeans and the Cushites have not the slenderest historical connection with each other. The latter is a very real people that gradually absorbed a certain degree of external civilisation from the Egyptians.
With these East African nationalities on the one side, and the Libyans and Moors on the other, the Egyptians form a great group of nations whose languages are closely related to one another, and whom one may designate as North Africans. The North African languages again, in their grammatical structure as well as in their vocabulary, reveal a kindred spirit, however distant, with that in the language of their eastern Asiatic neighbours, the Semites, i.e. the inhabitants of Arabia, Syria, Assyria, and Babylonia. Especially in the most ancient form of Egyptian handed down to us, in the language of the time of the Pyramids, are we everywhere confronted with this kindred spirit. It is impossible to resist the conclusion that there was a time when the forefathers of the Egyptians and of the rest of the North Africans enjoyed a Community of speech with the Semites.
Such being the case, we are inclined to conclude that the North Africans belong to the so-called Caucasian race of men, and that they reached their later domicile in prehistoric times, after their detachment from the Semites.
If this assumption can claim for itself a high degree of probability, we have not advanced a very great deal toward the understanding of the historical development of Egypt. For these wanderings and migrations belong in any case to times remote — ay, very remote — from all historical evidence, and they provide us with no new disclosures from any direction as to the character and the development of the Egyptians. A further inference has been expressed that the immigrants into Egypt found it occupied by an indigenous population, which they subdued, and that from this population came the bondmen whom we find in ancient Egypt, while the immigrants went to make the lords and the aristocracy.
Possibly this assumption is just; in support of it we may cite the agreement subsisting between the nature of the Egyptian animal worship and the religious conceptions of several of the African peoples. But we must never lose sight of the fact that the Egyptians themselves have no knowledge of any such theory.
If an immigration and an amalgamation of peoples took place, at the time of the Pyramids it had already long been buried in oblivion ; the Egyptians regard themselves as autocthonous, and — with the exception of a part of the population in the lower lands of Nubia, Libya, and Asia — as a single nation, within which there can be no question of a clash of mental conceptions, and within which the proud and the humble, the lord and the bondman, have nothing to distinguish them externally.
Historical presentation demands that we should treat the Egyptians throughout as one people, whatever may be the number of different tribes that settled in the Nile Valley in prehistoric time.b
The earliest stage of man that is known in Egypt is the Palaeolithic; this was contemporary with a rainy climate, which enabled at least some Vegetation to grow on the high desert, for the great bulk of the worked flints are found five to fifteen hundred feet above the Nile, on a tableland which is now entirely barren desert. Water-worn palaeoliths are found in the beds of the stream courses, now entirely dried up, and flaked flints of a rather later style occur in the deep beds of Nile gravels, which are twenty or thirty feet above the highest level of the present river. This type of work, however, lasted on to the age of the existing conditions, for perfectly sharp and fresh palaeoliths are found on the desert as low down as the present high Nile.
The date of the change of climate is roughly shown by the depth of the Nile deposits. It is well known by a scale extending over about three thousand years, that in different parts of Egypt the rise of the Nile bed has been on an average about four inches per century, owing to the annual de posits of mud during the inundation. And in various borings that have been made, the depth of the Nile mud is only about twenty-five or thirty feet. Hence an age of about eight or nine thousand years for the cultivable land may be taken as a minimum, probably to be somewhat extended by slighter deposit in the earlier time.
The continuous history extends to about 5000 b.c., and the prehistoric age of continuous culture known to us covers probably two thousand years more ; hence our continuous knowledge probably extends back to about 7000 b.c., or to about the time when the change of climate took place. At that time we find a race of European type starting on a continuous career, but with remains of a steatopygous race of “Bushman” (Koranna) type known and represented in modelled figures. We can hardly avoid the conclusion that this steatopygous race was that of Palaeolithic man in Egypt, especially as that equivalence is also known in the French cave remains. It is noticeable that all the figures known of this race — in France, Malta, and Egypt — are women, suggesting that the men were exterminated by the newer people, but the women were kept as slaves, and hence were familiar to the pioneers of the European race. These Palaeolithic women were broadly built, with deep lumbar curve, great masses of fat on the hips and thighs, with hair along the lower jaw and over most of the body.
The fresh race which entered Egypt was of European type — slender, fair-skinned, with long, wavy brown hair. The skull was closely like that of the ancient and modern Algerians of the interior; and as one of the earliest classes of their pottery is similar in material and decoration to the present Kabyle pottery, we may consider them a branch of Algerians. They seem to have entered the country as soon as the Nile deposits rendered it habitable by an agricultural people. They already made well-formed pottery by hand, knew copper as a rarity, and were clad in goatskins. Entering a fertile country, and mixing probably with the arlier race, they made rapid advance in all their products, and in a few generations they had an able civilisation. Their work in flint was fine and bold, with more delicate handiwork than that of any other people except their descendants; their stone vases were cut in the hardest materials with exquisite regularity; their carving of ivory and slate was better than anything which followed for over a thousand years; and they had a large number of signs in use, which were probably the first stages of our alphabet.
After some centuries of this culture a change appears, at the same point of time in every kind of work. A difference of people seems probable, but no great change of race, as the type is unaltered. The later people show some Eastern affinities ; and it seems as if a part of the earlier Libyan people had entered Syria or North Arabia and had afterward flowed back through Egypt, modified by their Semitic contact. It is perhaps to this influx that the Semitic element in the Egyptian language is due.
This later prehistoric people brought in new kinds of pottery and more commerce, which provided gold, silver, and various foreign stones; they also elaborated the art of flint-working to its highest pitch of regularity and beauty, and they generally extended the use of copper, and developed the principal tools to full size. But they show even less artistic feeling than the earlier branch, for all figure-carving quickly decayed, both in ivory and in stone. The use of amulets was brought in, and also forehead pendants of shell. And the signs which were already in use almost entirely disappeared.
This prehistoric civilisation was much decayed when it was overcome by a new influx of people, who founded the dynastic rule. These came apparently from the Red Sea, as they entered Egypt in the reign of Coptos, and not either from the north or from the Upper Nile. They were a highly artistic people, as the earliest works attributable to them — the Min sculptures at Coptos — show better drawing than any work by the older inhabitants ; and they rapidly advanced in art to the noble works of the Ist Dynasty. They also brought in the hieroglyphic system, which was developed along with their art. It seems probable that they came up from the Land of Punt, at the south of the Red Sea, and they may have been a branch of the Punic race in its migration from the Persian Gulf round by sea to the Mediterranean. They rapidly subdued the various tribes which were in Egypt, and at least five different types of man are shown on the monuments of their earliest kings.d Of these there were two distinct lines, the kings of Upper and the kings of Lower Egypt. The Palermo stone gives us the names of seven independent kings of Lower Egypt who ruled before the time of Menes—Seker, Tesau, Tau, Thesh, Neheb, Uat'-nar, and Mekha, while within the past few years the names of three pre-dynastic kings of Upper Egypt have been revealed — Te, Re, and Ka. To discover when and where these early monarchs reigned is probably the most interesting and important problem engaging the Egyptologist to-day.a
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|Total 253 (L. 263) 252 or 253 (L. 258)|
The first human king who, according to Greek authors as well as according to the Egyptian lists of kings, ruled over the Nile Valley was Menes, called Mena in Egyptian. His family came from Teni, a spot in Middle Egypt, the Greek This [or Thinis] in Abydos, a place which formed a certain religious centre of the kingdom down to a late period. Menes himself, it is true, soon quitted the place and built his residence on another more favourably situated spot, the place where the fruitful plains of the Delta began. This new capital is Memphis, the city that flourished down to the latest periods of Egyptian history as a royal residence and a commercial centre. The foundation of the place is to-day exposed to the flooding of the Nile ; this was already the case in ancient days, and the king was forced to protect the ground from this danger by a powerful dam. The dike which he constructed is in the neighbourhood of the place called Cocheiche. And this dike to this day secures the whole province of Gizeh from the floods.
This danger of flooding is less to be apprehended from the Nile itself than from the natural canal, called Bahr Yusuf [“River of Joseph”], which skirts the Libyan Desert. Thus the topographical conditions of this place have hardly varied at all from the time of Menes. The ruined site of ancient Memphis is now traced by only a few monuments, and the excavations here have been very unproductive, while even in the days of the Arabs the remnants of the town aroused the highest admiration in Arabian authors. At all events the name has remained, and to this day the great mound at Mitraheni is called Tel-el-Monf, the mound of Monf. The ancient Egyp-
tian name was Men-nefer, “the good place,” the sacred name Ha-kha-Ptah, “the house of the divine person of Ptah,” just as Ptah has remained for all time the chief god of the city. From this name, with but little right, it has been sought to derive the Greek name of the country of Egypt.
The acts, which for the rest are ascribed to Menes, are just those with which the first prince of a country is usually accredited. According to the Greeks he founded in Memphis the great temple of Ptah, the very first temple in Egypt; he regulated the service in the temple and the honouring of the god ; he further was responsible for the introduction of the cult of Apis. Finally, he even discovered the alphabet, according to Anticlides, fifteen years (it would probably be more reasonable to read it 15,000) before Phoroneus, the architect of Argos.
Diodorus obliges us with the additional information that King Menes once was pursued by his own dogs, that he fled into Lake Moeris and was carried to the opposite shore on the back of a crocodile. In gratitude for, and in memory of, his marvellous deliverance he founded, so goes the tale, the town of Crocodilopolis, and introduced the veneration of crocodiles, to whom he surrendered the use of the lake. For himself he raised here a memorial pyramid and founded the famous Labyrinth. As for his character, according to the legend, he was a luxurious prince, who dis covered the art of dressing a meal, and taught his subjects to eat in a reclining posture. In conflict with this is the account of Manetho, which depicts him as the first warrior-prince, and makes him fight the Libyans. According to Manetho he met his death through being swallowed by a hippopotamus. According to a widely spread but quite unauthentic story, he had in earlier life lost his only son Maneros, and the nation had composed a dirge on the subject entitled “Maneros,” of which text and melody are supposed to have survived for long.
Down to a late period Menes was honoured as a god in Egypt. In this capacity he appears on the Tablet of Abydos as the first of the kings ; his statue is carried round in a procession in the Ramesseum, and even in the time of the Ptolemies, a priest of the statues of Nectanebo I, by the name of Un-nefer, was entrusted with his worship. His name lasted in Egypt even longer than his worship ; it was borne by one of the most important Coptic saints, who lived at the beginning of the fourth century and to whom a church in old Cairo is yet dedicated.
Teta : Styled Athothis I by Eratosthenes, he is supposed to have ruled for fifty-nine years. According to Manetho, he constructed the royal castle of Memphis and wrote a work on anatomy, being particularly occupied with medicine. The latter supposition is rendered more complete to a certain extent by the account, due to the Ebers papyrus, that a method for making the hair grow described accurately therein, was supposed to have been dis covered by our king's mother, Shesh. For the rest we have no information of his period, except that in the reign of the son of Menes a double-headed crane revealed itself ; this was supposed to be a sign of long prosperity for Egypt. We may possibly explain this legend from the circumstance that the names of the two successors of Menes are formed with the names of the crane-headed or ibis-headed god, Tehuti.
Ata: A great plague broke out in his reign. Hesep-ti: [Within the past few years the correct reading of this name has been shown to be Sem-ti. His Horus name is Ten.] Sem-en-ptah: [This name is also read Semsu.] According to Manetho there was a great pestilence in this reign.
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[There is a king whose Horus name is read Hotep-Sekhemui, and who is placed by some authorities early in the IInd Dynasty, but as yet we do not even know his name as king of United Egypt.] Ka-ka-u. [Under this king the worship of the Apis bulls was instituted.] Baneter-en. This is the Biophis of Eusebius. Of high importance for the whole of Egyptian history is the observation of Manetho that this king declared female succession to be legitimate. In the course of the history of Egypt we shall indeed frequently have occasion to note what immense weight this people attached to female succession, and how it is this which in innumerable instances gives the colour of legitimacy to the assumption of the throne by a sovereign or a dynasty. John of Antioch makes the Nile flow with honey for eleven days in the reign of Binothris, while Manetho postpones this miracle until the reign of Nefercheres.
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|Note. — T' is to be pronounced tch or z. Total 214|
Unfortunately we cannot as yet positively identify Necherophes on the tablets and monuments. A new arrangement, and one that has much in its
favour, is to connect him with Neb-ka or Neb-ka-Ra (No. 4, in Wiedemann's table). This would join Seker-nefer-ka with Sesochris (No. 8, IInd Dynasty) with the additional support that “ochris” is plainly the Greek equivalent of “Seker”; and T'efa with Cheneres, although the latter assumption is admittedly the merest guesswork. This brings T'er-sa (or Zeser, as it is more often spelled) opposite Tosorthros. We know that Zeser built the step-pyramid of Saqqarah and Manetho says that Tosorthros “built a house of hewn stones.” He is the most important sovereign of the dynasty. Manetho further credits him with bringing the art of writing to perfection ; he is also supposed to have been a physician, and for this reason the divine AEsculapius of the Greeks. From Tosertasis to the end of the dynasty there are differences of opinion in regard to order or identification, and consequently we are still at sea with regard to Tyreïs, Mesochris, and Soüphis.
The IVth Dynasty has a peculiar and unique interest for the casual observer of Egyptian history, because it was the time when the world-famous pyramids were erected, the pyramids which were accounted among the wonders of the world in classical antiquity, and the name of which has stood almost as a synonym of Egypt for all succeeding generations. If one were to list the wonders of the world in our day, the legitimate number would swell far beyond the classical estimate of seven; but it may be doubted if among them all there would be any more justly accounted wonderful than these same pyramids. Even if constructed to-day, they would be accounted marvellous structures; and, dating as they do from remotest antiquity, when the devices of the modern mechanic were yet undreamed of, they seem almost miraculous. Nothing that any other land can show at all rivals or duplicates them; they are unique, like Egypt herself.
What adds to the unique interest of the pyramids is the fact that we know almost nothing of their builders, except what these structures themselves relate. The pyramids epitomise the history of an epoch. They are the standing witness that Egypt in that epoch was inhabited by a highly civilised people. But practically all that we know of this people is that they were the builders of the pyramids. Even that is much, however, and we shall advantageously dwell at length upon these monuments, viewing them from as many Standpoints as possible — through the eyes of Diodorus on the one hand, and of the most recent European explorers on the other.a
Diodorus, voicing the traditions of his time, gives the following entertaining account of these marvels:1
[1 Here and in subsequent excerpts from Diodorus we use a seventeenth-century translation.]
"Chemmis [Khufu or Cheops], the Eighth King from Remphis, was of Memphis, and reign'd Fifty Years. He built the greatest of the Three Pyramids, which were accounted amongst the Seven Wonders of the World. They stand towards Lybia a Hundred and Twenty Furlongs from Memphis, arid Five and Forty from Nile. The Greatness of these Works, and the excessive Labour of the Workmen seen in them, do even strike the Beholders with Admiration and Astonishment. The greatest being Four-square, took up on every Square Seven Hundred Foot of Ground in the Basis, and above Six Hundred Foot in height, spiring up narrower by little and little, till it come up to the Point, the Top of which was Six Cubits Square. It's built of solid Marble throughout, of rough Work, but of perpetual Duration: For though it be now a Thousand Years since it was built (some say above Three Thousand and Four Hundred) yet the Stones are as firmly joynted, and the whole Building as intire and without the least decay, as they were at the first laying and Erection. The Stone, they say, was brought a long way off, out of Arabia, and that the Work was rais'd by making Mounts of Earth ; Cranes and other Engines being not known at that time. And that which is most to be admir'd at, is to see such a Foundation so imprudently laid, as it seems to be, in a Sandy Place, where there's not the least Sign of any Earth cast up, nor Marks where any Stone was cut and polish'd ; so that the whole Pile seems to be rear'd all at once, and fixt in the midst of Heaps of Sand by some God, and not built by degrees by the Hands of Men. Some of the Egyptians tell wonderful things, and invent strange Fables concerning these Works, affirming that the Mounts were made of Salt and Salt- Peter, and that they were melted by the Inundation of the River, and being so dissolv'd, everything was washt away but the Building itself. But this is not the Truth of the thing; but the great Multitude of Hands that rais'd the Mounts, the same carry'd back the Earth to the Place whence they dug it, for they say there were Three Hundred and Sixty Thousand Men imploy'd in this Work, and the Whole was scarce compleated in Twenty Years time.
"When this King was dead, his Brother Cephres [Khaf-Ra] succeeded him, and reign'd Six and Fifty Years: Some say it was not his Brother, but his Son Chabryis that came to the Crown : But all agree in this, that the Successor, in imitation of his Predecessor, erected another Pyramid like to the former, both in Structure and Artificial Workmanship, but not near so large, every Square of the Basis being only a Furlong in Breadth.
"Upon the greater Pyramid was inscrib'd the value of the Herbs and Onions that were spent upon the Labourers during the Works, which amounted to above Sixteen Hundred Talents.
"There's nothing writ upon the lesser: The Entrance and Ascent is only on one side, cut by steps into the main Stone. Although the Kings design'd these Two for their Sepulchers, yet it hapen'd that neither of them were there buri'd. For the People, being incens'd at them by reason of the Toyl and Labour they were put to, and the cruelty and oppression of their Kings, threatened to drag their Carkasses out of their Graves, and pull them by piece-meal, and cast them to the Dogs ; and therefore both of them upon their Beds commanded their Servants to bury them in some obscure place.
"After him reign'd Mycerinus [Mencheres] (otherwise call'd Cherinus) the Son of him who built the first Pyramid. This Prince began a Third, but died before it was finish'd; every Square of the Basis was Three Hun dred Foot. The Walls for fifteen Stories high were Black Marble like that of Thebes, the rest was of the same Stone with the other Pyramids. Though
the other Pyramids went beyond this in greatness, yet this far excell'd the rest in the Curiosity of the Structure and the largeness of the Stones. On that side of the Pyramid towards the North, was inscrib'd the Name of the Founder Mecerinus. This King, they say, detesting the severity of the former Kings, carried himself all his Days gently and graciously towards all his Subjects, and did all that possibly he could to gain their Love and Good Will towards him; besides other things, he expended vast Sums of Money upon the Oracles and Worship of the Gods; and bestowing large Gifts upon honest Men whom he judg'd to be injur'd, and to be hardly dealt with in the Courts of Justice.
"There are other Pyramids, every Square of which are Two Hundred Foot in the Basis; and in all things like unto the other, except in bigness. It's said that these Three last Kings built them for their Wives.
"It is not in the least doubted, but that these Pyramids far excel all the other Works throughout all Egypt, not only in the Greatness and Costs of the Building, but in the Excellency of the Workmanship: For the Architects (they say) are much more to be admir'd than the Kings themselves that were at the Cost. For those perform'd all by their own Ingenuity, but these did nothing but by the Wealth handed to them by descent from their Predecessors, and by the Toyl and Labour of other Men.e
The Egyptians of the Theban period were compelled to form their opinions of the Pharaohs of the Memphite dynasties in the same way as we do, less by the positive evidence of their acts than by the size and number of their monuments: they measured the magnificence of Cheops [Khufu] by the dimensions of his pyramid, and all nations having followed this example, Cheops has continued to be one of the three or four names of former times which sound familiar to our ears. The hills of Gizeh in his time terminated in a bare, wind-swept tableland. A few solitary mastabas were scattered here and there on its surface, similar to those whose ruins still crown the hill of Dahshur.
The Sphinx, buried even in ancient times to its shoulders, raised its head halfway down the eastern slope, at its southern angle ; beside him the temple of Osiris, lord of the Necropolis, was fast disappearing under the sand ; and still farther back, old abandoned tombs honeycombed the rock.
Cheops [Khufu] chose a site for his pyramid on the northern edge of the plateau, whence a view of the city of the White Wall, at the same time of the holy city of Heliopolis, could be obtained. A small mound which commanded this prospect was roughly squared, and incorporated into the masonry; the rest of the site was levelled to receive the first course of stones.
The pyramid when completed had a height of 476 feet on a base 764 feet Square ; but the decaying influence of time has reduced these dimensions to 450 and 730 feet respectively. It possessed, up to the Arab conquest, its polished facing, coloured by age, and so subtly jointed that one would have said that it was a single slab from top to bottom. The work of facing the pyramid began at the top ; that of the point was first placed in position, then the courses were successively covered until the bottom was reached.
In the interior every device had been employed to conceal the exact position of the sarcophagus, and to discourage the excavators whom chance or persistent search might have put upon the right track. Their first difficulty would be to discover the entrance under the limestone casing. It lay hidden
almost in the middle of the northern face, on the level of the eighteenth course, at about forty-five feet above the ground. A movable flagstone, working on a stone pivot, disguised it so effectively that no one except the priests and custodians could have distinguished this stone from its neighbours. When it was tilted up, a yawning passage was revealed, three and a half feet in height, with a breadth of four feet. The passage is an inclined plane, extending partly through the masonry and partly through the solid rock for a distance of 318 feet; it passes through an unfinished chamber and ends in cul-de-sac 59 feet farther on.
The Great Pyramid was called Khut, “the Horizon,” in which Khufu had to be swallowed up, as his father, the Sun, was engulfed every evening in the horizon of the west. It contained only the chambers of the deceased, without a word of inscription, and we should not know to whom it belonged, if the masons, during its construction, had not daubed here and there in red paint among their private marks the name of the king and the date of his reign. Worship was rendered to this Pharaoh in a temple constructed a little in front of the eastern side of the pyramid, but of which nothing remains but a mass of ruins.
Pharaoh had no need to wait until he was mummified before he became a god; religious rites in his honour were established on his ascension; and many of the individuals who made up his court attached themselves to his double long before his double had become disembodied. They served him faithfully during their life, to repose finally in his shadow in the little pyramids and mastabas which clustered around him. Of Dadef-Ra (or Tatf-Ra), his immediate successor, we can probably say that he reigned eight years.
[This is according to the Abydos and Saqqarah lists, but his chronological position is still uncertain. The inscription of Mertitefs, one of Sneferu's queens, mentions that she was later a favourite of Khufu, and even in her old age, of Khaf-Ra. This, if true, would leave no space for Dadef-Ra between these reigns, so he was either a co-regent or successor. In the XXVIth Dynasty his priests give, in several instances, the succession as Khufu, Khaf-Ra, Dadef-Ra. Professor Petrie identifies him with the Rhatoises of Manetho, and so makes him the third successor of Khufu, but Professor Maspero, in his reading “Dadef-Ra,” distinctly dissents from any such recognition. It is possible that this king is the same person as the Prince Hortotef, son of Khufu, who, as the hero of a famous tale, is one of the best-known characters of early Egyptian literature.]
But Khaf-Ra (or Khephren), the next son, who succeeded to the throne, erected temples and a gigantic pyramid, like his father. He placed it some 394 feet to the southwest of that of Cheops (Khufu); and called it Ur, “the Great.” It is, however, smaller than its neighbour, and attains a height of only 443 feet, but at a distance the difference in height disappears, and many travellers have thus been led to attribute the same elevation to the two.
The internal arrangements of the pyramid are of the simplest character; they consist of a granite-built passage carefully concealed in the north face, running at first at an angle of 25°, and then horizontally, until stopped by a granite barrier at a point which indicates a change of direction; a second passage, which begins on the outside, at a distance of some yards in advance of the base of the pyramid, and proceeds, after passing through an unfinished chamber, to rejoin the first; finally, a chamber hollowed in the rock, but surmounted by a pointed roof of fine limestone slabs. The sarcophagus was of granite, and, like that of Khufu, bore neither the name of a king nor the representation of a god.
Of Khaf-Ra's sons, Men-kau-Ra (the Mycerinus of the Greeks), who was his successor, could scarcely dream of excelling his father and grandfather ; his pyramid, “"the Supreme” (Her), barely attained an elevation of 216 feet, and was exceeded in height by those which were built at a later date. Up to one-fourth of its height it was faced with syenite, and the remainder, up to the summit, with limestone. For lack of time, doubtless, the dressing of the granite was not completed, but the limestone received all the polish it was capable of taking. The enclosing wall was extended to the north so as to meet, and be of one width with, that of the Second Pyramid. The temple was connected with the plain by a long and almost straight causeway, which ran for the greater part of its course upon an embankment raised above the neighbouring ground.
The arrangement of the interior of the pyramid is somewhat complicated, and bears witness to changes brought about unexpectedly in the course of construction. The original central mass probably did not exceed 180 feet in breadth at the base, with a vertical height of 154 feet. It contained a sloping passage cut into the hill itself, and an oblong low-roofed cell devoid of ornament. The main bulk of the work had been already completed, and the casing not yet begun, when it was decided to modify the proportions of the whole. Men-kau-Ra was not, it appears, the eldest son and appointed heir of Khaf-Ra ; while still a mere prince he was preparing for himself a pyramid similar to those which lie near “the Horizon,” when the deaths of his father and brother called him to the throne.
What was sufficient for him as a child, was no longer suitable for him as a Pharaoh ; the mass of the structure was increased to its present dimensions, and a new inclined passage was effected in it, at the end of which a hall panelled with granite gave access to a kind of antechamber. The latter communicated by a horizontal corridor with the first vault, which was deepened for the occasion ; the old entrance, now no longer of use, was roughly filled up.
Men-kau-Ra did not find his last resting-place in this upper level of the interior of the pyramid : a narrow passage, hidden behind the slabbing of the second chamber, descended into a secret crypt, lined with granite and covered with a barrel-vaulted roof. The sarcophagus was a single block of blue-black basalt, polished, and carved into the form of a house, with a facade having three doors and three openings in the form of Windows, the whole framed in a rounded moulding and surmounted by a projecting cornice such as we are accustomed to see on the temples. The mummy-case of cedar-wood had a man's head, and was shaped to the form of the human body ; it was neither painted nor gilt, but an inscription in two columns, cut on its front, contained the name of the Pharaoh, and a prayer on his behalf.
The example given by Khufu, Khaf-Ra, and Men-kau-Ra was by no means lost in later times. From the beginning of the IVth to the end of the XIVth Dynasty — during more than fifteen hundred years — the construction of pyramids was a common state affair, provided for by the administration.
Not only did the Pharaohs build them for themselves, but the princes and princesses belonging to the family of the Pharaohs constructed theirs, each one according to his resources ; three of these secondary mausoleums are ranged opposite the eastern side of “the Horizon,” three opposite the southern face of “the Supreme,” and everywhere else — near Abusir, at Saqqarah, at Dahshur, or in the Fayum — the majority of the royal pyra mids attracted around them a more or less numerous cortege of pyramids of princely foundation often debased in shape and faulty in proportion.fH.W. — VOL. I. H
Sneferu is the first ruler of Egypt of whose deeds we know something. A relief with an inscription in Wady Magharah on the peninsula of Sinai represents him as slaying the robber-like tribes of the desert, the Mentu, with a club. According to the inscriptions of the XIIth Dynasty in Sarbut-el-Hadim, it appears that he was considered as founder of the Egyptian dominion in the peninsula of Sinai. His memory was honoured for many years ; his worship was often mentioned, and in literary works his bountiful reign was also called to mind. He was probably buried in the Great Pyramid, which has the appearance of terraces, at Medum, the opening of which was begun a short while ago. In one of the neighbouring tombs a statue was found of its architect, Henka, and probably the remaining tombs at Medum belong to this epoch.
Sneferu's successor Khufu, the Cheops of Herodotus, was the builder of the largest pyramid. The construction of temples was also attributed to him (the temple of the “Lady of the Pyramids,” Isis, in Gizeh, and the planning of the temple of Denderah), and the town of Menat Khufu bears his name. He also fought in the peninsula of Sinai. In front of the immense sepulchre of the king, his wives or other relatives are buried in three small pyramids, and around them in mastabas the nobles of his court. What the Greeks relate concerning the oppression of Egypt by Khufu and Khaf-Ra and of their ungodliness, whilst Men-kau-Ra as the builder of the small Pyramid is looked on as a righteous and just ruler, are their own words which they place in the mouth of the Egyptians ; such a conception is remote from the truth, and the picture which we gain from the tombs of the period is throughout bright and cheerful. Certainly every contemporary was proud of having taken part in this giant construction.
After the short reign of Tatf-Ra followed Khaf-Ra, the builder of the second pyramid of Gizeh, to which time probably dates back the enigmatically immense construction of granite and alabaster to the south of the Great Sphinx; the fragments of nine statues of the king were found in it. His next followers were Men-kau-Ra, the Mycerinus of Herodotus, the builder of the third pyramid at Gizeh, and Shepses-ka-f, of whom we learn something definite through the biography of Ptah-Shepses, buried in Saqqarah. He had formerly been brought up at the court of Men-kau-Ra with the children of the king; he grew up under Shepses-ka-f, who gave him his eldest daughter to wife, loaded him with honours, and appointed him as secretary to all constructions which he planned to build.
The circumstance, that there is no mention of warlike expeditions either in this biography or in other monuments of this epoch, but that peaceful undertakings, journeys, and festivals, and above all, the constructions of the king, are continually quoted, is an important sign of the character of the times
Manetho now makes three kings follow for thirty-eight years, who are nowhere mentioned in the inscriptions, and then begins a new dynasty (the Vth), with Usercheres, which sprang from Elephantine. But in the monuments it is stated that Shepses-ka-f was immediately followed by Uskaf (or Userka- f) [Usercheres]. At the most, only short Interregnums can have intervened, and Prince Sechem-ka-Ra lived under five kings, Khaf-Ra, Menkau- Ra, Shepses-ka-f, Uskaf, and Sahu-Ra, whose reigns occupied about a century. It is very probable that a new family came to the throne either in a peaceful or violent manner ; in the Turin papyrus the portion which prob ably contained Uskaf's reign has completely fallen out.
We learn very little of Uskaf or Usercheres. His successor Sahu-Ra, on the contrary, is one of the most renowned rulers of the time. He also fought in Wady Magharah. The next kings cannot be placed in their order with certainty. The Turin papyrus allows eight reigns, mostly short, to follow, and at the fifth introduces a gap; the lists of Abydos and Saqqarah have only given us three names. Only Nefer-ar-ka-Ra and especially An, the first king who gave himself a title (User-en-Ra), were at all important. Then followed Men-kau-hor (reign of eight years), Assa, with the name of Tat-ka-Ra (twenty-eight years), and Unas (thirty years), of whom the first and second, like An, left monuments commemorative of their victories on the peninsula of Sinai.
The first epoch of Egyptian history closes with the reign of Unas. Al most three hundred years had passed since Sneferu had builtuphis pyramid and celebrated his victory in Wady Magharah. Throughout the whole period
Memphis was the central point of the kingdom, and its necropolis almost the only source of our instruction. After the death of Unas — it is not known whether he died in peace or was overthrown by a revolution — a new race ascended the throne and the centre of Egyptian life begins gradually to shift itself. The Turin papyrus rightly makes the first principal division here, and gives the sum of all the reigns from Menes to Unas; but the figures are unfortunately lost to us.
Here follows a table of kings in which the lists of Manetho for the IIIrd, IVth, and Vth Dynasties are compared with the lists of the Turin papyrus, the Abydos tablet, the Saqqarah tablet, and the wall list of Karnak.b It will be recalled that these lists, taken together, furnish us with the chief information at present accessible as to the true sequence of the early Egyptian rulers. Notwithstanding its somewhat forbidding appearance at first glance, this tablet will repay careful study. It illustrates the way in which the different lists must be pieced together in an attempt to form a complete record. It shows, also, how widely the Hellenised names of Manetho's list differ from the Egyptian Originals ; suggesting the extent to which surmise must sometimes enter into identification. Indeed, it would be hard to tell which were the greater misfortune : the disappearance of Manetho's history, or the accident by which the Turin papyrus was broken into scores of little pieces only to be restored in an unscientific and almost worthless condition by Seyffarth.a