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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Law                                    207
The finest surviving example is the treaty of Rameses II (1297-
1231 E.G.) with the king of the Hittites, Hattusilis III. Accord-
ing to the Akkadian text of this document it is a treaty of peace
and of alliance, with the obligation to give armed assistance.
Fugitives from one country who came into the territory of the
other country were to be extradited to their home country, but
were not to be punished there. It is interesting to observe that
the religious dogma of the divinity of the Egyptian king, com-
pared with whom a foreign king was only a miserable human
being, prevented the publication of an unexpurgated version
of this treaty. While in the original text both kings call each
other 'Great-king', on a footing of complete equality, in the
Egyptian version which can still be seen in the temple of
Karnak the 'great-god5 Rameses fixes the frontiers of his country
according to his choice, granting the treaty to the 'great prince*
of the Hittites who has come to ask for peace.
The literature of this period depicts the Egyptians as a nation
which takes great interest in legal decisions. Law-suits before
the courts take a larger part in Egyptian literature than in the
literature of other nations. When a fragment relates a 'dispute
for supremacy between the members of the body5 we may see
in it a forerunner of the fable told by Menenius Agrippa when
the Roman Plebs had seceded to the Mons Sacer to show the
rebels that the various social classes in a State supplement each
other as do the members of the human body. Since that time
this comparison of a State with a living organism has con-
tinuously made its appearance in the speeches of statesmen of
every nation.
Another kind of literature is represented by the Wisdom books
or ethical rules of life. They give us a lofty idea of the Egyptian
conception of justice. The 'investiture of the vezir* from the
tomb of Rekhmire*, which formed part of a Law of Court
Ceremonial, is in many parts reminiscent of these 'Teachings*.
When the king tells the vezir: 'if a suppliant approaches thee,