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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Egypt and Rome                         291
had been for generations famous and respected in the Greek
world.
It was probably this incident which convinced Alexander of
his divine nature. At any rate when in later times representa-
tions were made of the god Alexander, he was generally por-
trayed with the ram's horns of Amen, and in the legends of Islam
he is still He of the Two Horns. It moreover gave to the Greeks
the oracular sanction necessary for what was to some extent
a new departure in religion; it is worth noting that when in
304 B.C. the Rhodians wished to deify another king of Egypt,
Ptolemy I, they first consulted Zeus Ammon. Egyptian practice
thus perhaps gave the first impetus to a theory which was to
have a long history. Quickly taken up by nearly all the Hellen-
istic monarchies, it was adopted, at first with hesitation but soon
with conviction, by the Roman Empire. When that empire
became Christian it did not die: Constantine and his successors
still called their palace, their laws, even their treasury, sacred,
and did not hesitate to dub as sacrilege any opposition to their
will. Thence, in the modified form of the Divine Right of
Kings, it passed to the Middle Ages and even to modern times.
The chief source of Egypt's wealth was then, as it still is to-
day, the land. The land therefore was systematically exploited
in -the interests of the king. In principle the Crown claimed
ownership over the whole surface of Egypt. A certain propor-
tion was granted on favourable terms to privileged classes or
individuals. The gods were, for instance, allowed to retain, in
return for a quit-rent, their ancient holdings, and were even
given new estates; the king, however, administered their lands
for them, and paid them what he thought fit out of the profits.
The king's friends, his ministers and principal officials, were
allotted lands 'in gift'; but those gifts were probably for life
only. His soldiers also were rewarded with estates; their tenure
also was for life only and was subject to a quit-rent. The rest
of Egypt—and it must have been a very considerable proportion