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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Political Approach to the Classical World     19
come on 'like swarms of locusts in the springtime*. Further, the
history of the first great civilizations is pictorially illustrated for
us in stone. The great temple reliefs of Egypt, the palace reliefs
of Assyria and Persia, are themselves history books; we are shown
the Babylonian Naram-Sin campaigning with his archers in the
mountains of the Zagros, we see the Pharaoh charging in his
chariot, and the plight of Egypt's enemies in the battle of
Kadesh, when they must escape by swimming the River Orontes,
while the 'wretched ruler of Aleppo' is held upside down on the
farther bank to rid him of the water he has swallowed in
his ducking. Similar lively reliefs from Assyria picture the
army of Ashurnasirpal swimming a river on inflated skins,
or the siege engines of Sennacherib operating against the
walls of the city of Lachish. Classical history was not thus illus-
trated for us until Trajan erected his column in the Forum at
It is from such sources as these that we are to-day in a position
to examine the political legacy which has come down to us from
the ancient world. We shall find that this legacy is a limited one.
The history of the ancient Near East is more concerned with
international relations than with internal politics. In this respect
it stands in marked contrast to that of the Greek states, whose
individual development was the main care of their historians
and political theorists. But such a limitation does not lessen its
importance to the student. The classical woild must be ap-
proached from the East. The Greeks and the Romans were
new-comers in a world already old in time and experience, and
they received and transmitted their inheritance. Their parts
were played on a stage already set by the ancient monarchies,
and our task in this chapter must be to sketch in brief outline
the political development of the Near East through some three
millennia, as we can at present reconstruct it, in order to under-
stand how the civilized world came to have that shape in which
Herodotus and the Greeks of his age knew it, and to gain some