Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

374                The Legacy to Modern Egypt
the habits it has engendered remain. Centuries of vice-royalty
have not weakened them. Everything still revolves round the
king; he is still the master without whose consent nothing can
be done. He can still defeat popular leaders, especially if he
plays his ancient part of religious leader. To deserve the title
of cthe pious king' is to win over the masses, and to enjoy a
reverence that is not adoration but readily suggests it. eThe
universal demonstrations of loyalty', writes an Egyptian, 'prove
beyond the least shadow of a doubt that King Faruq is almost
adored by his subjects-----In this connexion it should be borne
in mind that Ancient Egyptians actually worshipped their kings
who were looked upon as symbols of Egypt's greatness and
glory/ It remains the official doctrine that the monarchy is
purified by God, and it is preached on Fridays that he who
disobeys the king disobeys Allah.
As constantly happens in the history of man, a reasoned
system has left behind a deposit of unreasoned (not necessarily
unreasonable) behaviour.
One element in the glamour and power of kingship is the faith
that distant greatness is ever more ready to help the oppressed
than nearer and smaller greatness. The modern proletarian is
just as convinced as his distant forebears that if he could only
reach Pharaoh he would get redress, but the petty powers stand
in the way.
These petty powers were in the nineteenth century recast on
European lines; but Ancient Egypt had fully worked out the
essential features of a bureaucracy. By the Eighteenth Dynasty
it had completed an evolution which has been repeated else-
where. Like the kings of modern France the Pharaohs had
drawn their vassals into their orbit as mere satellites. The great
lords became officials. There has been no solution of continuity.
The nome lords went on under Christianity. 'The Arab con-
quest merely substituted Moslem sheikhs or emirs for pagan and