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Egyptian Slgve 

From the painting by Siefert 

History of Egypt 

From 330 B. C. to the Present Time 

By S. RAPPOPORT, Doctor of Philosophy, Basel ; 
Member of the Ecole Langues Orientales, Paris ; 
Russian, German, French Orientalist and Philologist 


Volume II. 





Connoisseur Enition 

Limited to Two Hundred Copies 
for England and America 

syb. ...IXQ 


Copyright, igo4 
By The Grolier Society 




The Roman Dominion on the Nile — Settlement of the Egyptian Fron- 
tiers — Religious Developments — Rebellions 3 



The Ascendency of the New Religion — The Arian Controversies — The 
Zenith of Monasticism — The Final Struggle of Paganism — The 
Decline of Alexandria 187 



The Rise of Muhammedanism — The Arabic Conquest of Egypt — The 

Ommayad and Abbasid Dynasties 323 



Egyptian Slave Frontispiece 

Ornament from the Moristan of Kilawun 3 

Coin of Augustus 3 

The Nilometer at Elephantine 11 

On the edge of the Desert 16 

A Koptic Maiden 19 

Fragments in stone and wood, painted 23 

Temple at Tefttyra, enlarged by Roman architects 24 

On the Banks of the Nile 27 

Bedouin Tent in the Desert 29 

A Relief from Saqq&ra 89 

Egyptian Threshing Machine 41 

An Egyptian Postman 43 

An Arab Girl 47 

Farming in Egypt 51 

Maltese Coin 57 

Coin of Cossyra ........... 58 

Coin of Nero 59 

Ethiopian Arabs ........... 63 

Egyptian Coin of Galba 68 

Scene in a Sepulchral Chamber 79 

Harpocrates . 80 

Coins of Domitian 81 

Coin of Nerva 82 

Trinity of fsis, Horus, and Nephthys 83 

Coins of Trajan 84 

Egyptian Wig (British Museum) 86 

Antoninian Temple near Sinai 89 

Commemorative Coin of Antinous 95 




Rose-colouied Lotus 97 

Vocal Statue of Amenhdthes ^^ 

Egyptian Oracle 102 

Koptic Charm and Scarabseus 106 

Gnostic Gem 107 

Gems showing ^mbol of Death and the Word lAQ (Javeh) . . • 108 

Hadrian's Egyptian Coins 109 

Coins of Antoninus Pius 112 

Statue of the Nile 115 

Coins of Marcus Aurelius 117 

The Harbour of Alexandria 118 

Alexandrian forms of Writing 120 

A Snake-Charmer 122 

The Sign of NobiUty 123 

Cartouche of Commodus 125 

The Anubis StafE 126 

Canopic Jars 128 

Religious Procession 130 

Shrine 131 

Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, and Demotic -writing 135 

A Native of Aswan 139 

Painting at the entrance to the Fifth Tomb of the Kings to the West, 

Thebes 141 

A Modern Scribe 149 

Symbol of Egypt 151 

A Harem Window 155 

Coin of Zenobia 159 

Coin of Athenodorus 161 

Vender of Metal Ware 165 

Coin of Domitianus with Latin Inscription 165 

Coin of Severina 167 

Coin of Trajan's Second Legion 169 

Symbol of Mithra 179 

Dome Palm of Upper Egypt 184 

An Ancient Egyptian Necklace 187 

The Papyrus Flower 187 

The Island of Rhoda 199 

Houses built on Piles at Punt 207 

Temple of Abu Simbel in Nubia 213 

Coin of Constantius, a. d. 347 220 

A Young Egyptian wearing the Royal Lock 225 

An Egyptian Water-Carrier 231 

Remains of Christian Church in the Temple at Luxor .... 237 



Temple Courtyard, Medinet Abu 243 

Christian Picture at Abii Simbel 248 

Manf aloot, showing the Height of the Nile in Summer .... 250 

Quarries at Toorah on the Nile 257 

Street and Mosque of Mahdjiar 259 

Kamses II. and St. Peter 264 

The Papyrus Plant 267 

Arabs resting in the Desert c . . 271 

Isis as the Dog Star 279 

Street Sprinkler at Alexandria 285 

Illustration from copy of Dioscorides 291 

Fortress near Mount Sinai 302 

Pyramid of Medum 307 

A Modern House in the Delta at Kosetta 313 

Coins of Justinian 316 

Ornament from the Porch of the Sultan Hassan 323 

Ornament from the Mosque of Baxkuk 323 

CoinofAli 325 

Coin of Omar 326 

Old Cairo (Fostat) 329 

A Modern Kopt 333 

Mosque of Amr 335 

Coin of Abu Bekr 387 

Coin of Othman 337 

Coin of Malik 338 

Citadel of Cairo (Fostat) 339 

A Crocodile used as a Talisman 341 

Door of an Arabian House 347 

A Veiled Beauty 349 

Tomb of a Sheikh 351 

Janizary of the Guard .......... 353 

The Mosque of ibn Tulun, Cairo 356 

Sanctuary of the Mosque of ibn Tulun 359 

Mosque of Ahmed ibn Tulun 363 

Coin of Abu Bekr 365 

Mosque Tomb near Sy§nS 371 

Mosque of Hakim 379 

Mustanssir's Gate at Cairo 383 







Augustus remodels the government of Egypt — A new calendar intro- 
duced — Egypt surveyed — Dissension between Jews and Q-reeks at 
Alexandria — Strabo's visit — The Egyptian religion at Rome — Wise 
administration of Tiberius — The rise of the Therapeutce — Lake 
Moeris destroyed — The origin of Chemistry — The fable of the Phoenix 
— Christianity introduced — Fiscal reforms under G-alba — Vespasian 
in Egypt — Fall of Jerusalem — The Nile Canal restored — Hadrian's 
voyage up the Nile — Death of Antinous — Christians and Ghnostics — 
Astrology and Astronomy — Roman roads in Egypt — Commerce and 
Sports — The Growth of Christianity — Severus visits Egypt — The 
massacre of the Alexandrians — Ammonius Saccas and the Alexandrian 
Platonists — The School of Origen — Rise of Controversy — Decline of 
Commerce — Zenobia in Syria — Growing importance of the Arabs — 
Revolt and recapture of Alexandria — Persecution of the Christians- 
under Diocletian — Introduction of the Manichean heresy. 

( 2 ) 

Constantine the Great converted — Privileges of the clergy — Dog- 
matic disputes — Council of Niccea and the first Nicene Creed — Atha- 
nasian and Arian controversies — Founding of Constantinople — Decline 
of Alexandria — Imperial appointments in the Church — Religious 
riots — Triumphs of Athanasius — Persecution by Bishop George 
of Cappadocia — Early mission work — Development of the monastic 
system — Text of the Bible — The monks and military service — Sara- 
cenic encroachments — Theodosius overthrows Paganism — Destruction 
of the Great lAbrary — Pagan and Christian literature — Story of 
Hypatia — The Arabs defeat the Romans — The Koptic New Testa- 
ment — Egypt separated from Rome — The Council of Chalcedon — 
Paganism restored in Upper Egypt — The Henoticon — The writings 
of Hieroeles — Relations with Persia — Inroads of the Arabs — Jus- 
tinian^ s fiscal reforms — Coinage restored — The Persians enter Egypt. 
-The lAfe of Muhammed — Amr conquers Egypt — The legend of 
Omar and the Great Library — The founding of Fostat — The Chris- 
tians taxed — Muhammedan oppression in Egypt — The Ommayad 
and Abbasid dynasties — Caliph Harun er-Rashid — Turkish body- 
guards — Rise of the Tulunite Dynasty — Office of Prince of Princes 
— Reign of Muhammed ellkshid — War with Byzantium — Fatimite 
Caliphs — The Ismailians and Mahdism — Reign of Mustanssir — 
Turkish Rapacity — Ihd of the Fatimite Rule. 




The Roman dominion on the Nile : Settlement of the Egyptian frontiers-. 
Religious developments : Rebellions. 

A UGUSTUS began his reign 
in Egypt in b. c. 30 by 
ordering all tbe statues of An- 
tony, of which there were 
more than fifty ornamenting 
the various public buildings 
of the city, to be broken to pieces; and it is said he 
had the meanness to receive a bribe of one thousand tal- 
ents from Archibus, a friend of Cleopatra, that the 
queen's statues might be left standing. It seems to have 
been part of his kingcraft to give the offices of greatest 
trust to men of low birth, who were at the same time well 



aware that they owed their employments to their seem- 
ing want of ambition. Thus the government of Egypt, 
the greatest and richest of the provinces, was given to 
Cornelius Gallus. 

Before the faU of the republic the senate had given 
the command of the provinces to members of their own 
body only; and therefore Augustus, not wishing to alter 
the law, obtained from the senate for himself aU those 
governments which he meant to give to men of lower 
rank. By this legal fiction, these equestrian prefects 
were answerable for their conduct to nobody but the 
emperor on a petition, and they could not be sued at law 
before the senate for their misdeeds. But he made an 
exception in the case of Egypt. While on the one hand 
in that province he gave to the prefect's edicts the force 
of law, on the other he allowed him to be cited before the 
senate, though appointed by himself. The power thus 
given to the senate they never ventured to use, and the 
prefect of Egypt was never punished or removed but by 
the emperor. Under the prefect was the chief justice 
of the province, who heard himself, or by deputy, all 
causes except those which were reserved for the decision 
of the emperor in person. These last were decided by a 
second judge, or in modem language a chancellor, as 
they were too numerous and too trifling to be taken to 
Rome. Under these judges were numerous freedmen of 
the emperor, and clerks entrusted with affairs of greater 
and less weight. Of the native magistrates the chief 
were the keeper of the records, the police judge, the 
prefect of the night, and the Exegetes, or interpreter 


of the Egyptian law, who was allowed to wear a purple 
robe like a Roman magistrate. But these Egyptian mag- 
istrates were never treated as citizens; they were bar- 
barians, little better than slaves, and only raised to the 
rank of the emperor's freedmen. 

Augustus showed not a little jealousy in the rest of 
the laws by which his new province was to be governed. 
While other conquered cities usually had a senate or 
municipal form of government granted to them, no city 
in Egypt was allowed that privilege, which, by teaching 
the citizens the art of governing themselves and the 
advantages of union, might have made them less at the 
mercy of their masters. He not only gave the command 
of the kingdom to a man below the rank of a senator, 
but ordered that no senator should even be allowed to 
set foot in Egypt without leave from himself; and cen- 
turies later, when the weakness of the country had led 
the emperors to soften some of the other stem laws of 
Augustus, this was still strictly enforced. 

Among other changes then brought in by the Romans 
was the use of a fixed year in aU civil reckonings. The 
Egyptians, for all the common purposes of life, called 
the day of the heliacal rising of the dogstar, about om- 
18th of July, their new year's day, and the husbandman 
marked it with religious ceremonies as the time when the 
Nile began to overflow; while for all civil purposes, and 
dates of kings' reigns, they used a year of three himdred 
and sixty-five days, which, of course, had a movable new 
year's day. But by the orders of Augustus aU public 
deeds were henceforth dated by the new year of three 


hundred and sixty-five days and a quarter, which was 
named, after Julius Caesar, the Julian year. The years 
from B. c. 24 were made to begin on the 29th of August, 
the day on which the movable new year's day then hap- 
pened to fall, and were numbered from the year follow- 
ing the last of Cleopatra, as from the first year of the 
reign of Augustus. But notwithstanding the many ad- 
vantages of the Julian year, which was used throughout 
Europe for sixteen centuries, till its faultiness was 
pointed out by Pope Gregory XTTT., the Egyptian as- 
tronomers and mathematicians distrusted it from the 
first, and chose to stick to their old year, in which there 
could be no mistake about its length. Thus there were 
at the same time three years and three new year's days 
in use in Egypt: one about the 18th of July, used by 
the common people ; one on the 29th of August, used by 
order of the emperor; and one movable, used by the 

By the conquest of Egypt, Augustus was also able to 
extend another of the plans of his late uncle. Julius 
Csesar, whose powerful mind found all sciences within 
its grasp, had ordered a survey to be taken of the whole 
of the Eoman provinces, and the length of all the roads 
to be measured for the use of the tax-gatherers and of 
the army; and Augustus was now able to add Egypt to 
the survey. Polyclitus was employed on this southern 
portion of the empire; and, after thirty-two years from 
its beginning by Julius, the measurement of nearly the 
whole known world was finished and reported to the 


At Alexandria Augustus was visited by Herod, who 
hastened to beg of him those portions of his kingdom 
which Antony had given to Cleopatra. Augustus re- 
ceived him as a friend; gave him back the territory which 
Antony had taken from Mm, and added the province of 
Samaria and the free cities on the coast. He also gave 
to him the body of four hundred Gauls, who formed part 
of the Egyptian army and had been Cleopatra's body- 
guard. He thus removed from Alexandria the last re- 

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mains of the Gallic mercenaries, of whom the Ptolemies 
had usually had a troop in their service. 

Augustus visited the royal burial-place to see the 
body of Alexander, and devoutly added a golden crown 
and a garland of flowers to the other ornaments on the 
sarcophagus of the Macedonian. But he would take no 
pains to please either the Alexandrians or Egyptians; 
he despised them both. When asked if he would not like 
to see the Alexandrian monarchs lying in their mummy- 
eases in the same tomb, he answered: " No, I came to 
see the king, not dead men, " His contempt for Cleopatra 


and her father made him forget the great qualities of 
Ptolemy Soter. So when he was at Memphis he refused 
to humour the national prejudice of two thousand years' 
standing by visiting the bull Apis. Of the former con- 
querors, Cambyses had stabbed the sacred bull, Alex- 
ander had sacrificed to it ; had Augustus had the violent 
temper of either, he would have copied Cambyses. The 
Egyptians always found the treatment of the sacred bull 
a foretaste of what they were themselves to receive from 
their sovereigns. 

The Greeks of Alexandria, who had for some time 
past very unwillingly yielded to the Jews the right of 
citizenship, now urged upon Augustus that it should no 
longer be granted. Augustus, however, had received 
great services from the Jews, and at once refused the 
prayer; and he set up in Alexandria an inscription 
granting to the Jews the fuU privileges of Macedonians, 
which they claimed and had hitherto enjoyed under 
the Ptolemies. They were allowed their own magis- 
trates and courts of justice, with the free exercise of 
their own religion; and soon afterwards, when their 
high priest died, they were allowed as usual to choose 
his successor. The Greek Jews of Alexandria were in- 
deed very important, both from their numbers and their 
learning; they spread over Sjrria and Asia Minor: they 
had a synagogue in Jerusalem in common with the Jews 
of Cyrene and Libya; and we find that one of the chief 
teachers of Christianity after the apostles was ApoUos, 
the Alexandrian, who preached the new religion in 
Ephesus, in Corinth, and in Crete. 


On his return to Rome, Augustus carried with him the 
whole of the royal treasure; and though perhaps there 
might have been less gold and silver than usual in the 
palace of the Ptolemies, still it was so large a sum that 
when, upon the establishment of peace over all the world, 
the rate of interest upon loans fell in Rome, and the price 
of land rose, the change was thought to have been caused 
by the money from Alexandria. At the same time were 
carried away the valuable jewels, furniture, and orna- 
ments, which had been handed down from father to son, 
with the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. These were 
drawn in waggons through the streets of Rome in tri- 
umph; and with them were shown in chains to the 
wondering crowd Alexander Helius and Cleopatra Se- 
lene, the children of Cleopatra and Antony. 

Augustus threatened a severe punishment to the 
Alexandrians in the building of a new capital. Only four 
miles from the Canopic or eastern gate of Alexandria 
he laid out the plan of his new city of Nicopolis, on the 
spot where he had routed Mark Antony's forces. Here 
he began several large temples, and removed to them the 
public sacrifices and the priesthood from the temples of 
Alexandria. But the work was carried no farther, and 
soon abandoned; and the only change made by it in 
Alexandria was that the temple of Serapis and the other 
temples were for a time deserted. 

The rest of the world had long been used to see their 
finest works of art carried away by their conquerors; 
and the Egyptians soon learned that, if any of the monu- 
ments of which they were so justly proud were to be 


left to them, it would only be because they were too heavy 
to be moved by the Roman engineers. Beside many 
other smaller Egyptian works, two of the large obelisks, 
which even now ornament Rome, were carried away by 
Augustus, that of Thutmosis IV., which stands ia the 
Piazza del Popolo, and that of Psammetichus, on Monte 

Cornelius Gallus, the prefect of Egypt, seems either 
to have misunderstood, or soon forgotten, the terms of his 
appointment. He set up statues of himself in the cities 
of Egypt, and, copying the kings of the country, he 
carved his name and deeds upon the pyramids. On this 
Augustus recalled him, and he kiUed himself to avoid 
punishment. The emperor's wish to check the tyranny 
of the prefects and tax-gatherers was strongly marked 
in the case of the champion fightiag-cock. The Alexan- 
drians bred these birds with great care, and eagerly 
watched their battles in the theatre. A powerful cock, 
that had hitherto slain all its rivals and always strutted 
over the table unconquered, had gained a great name in 
the city; and this bird, Eros, a tax-gatherer, roasted and 
ate. Augustus, on hearing of this insult to the people, 
sent for the man, and, on his owning what he had done, 
ordered him to be crucified. Three legions and nine 
cohorts were found force enough to keep this great king- 
dom in quiet obedience to their new masters; and when 
Heroopolis revolted, and afterwards when a rebellion 
broke out in the Thebaid against the Roman tax-gather- 
ers, these risings were easily crushed. The spirit of the 
nation, both of the Greeks and Egyptians, seems to have 



been wlioUy broken; and Petronius, wbo succeeded Cor- 
nelius Gallus, found no difficulty in putting down a rising 
of the Alexandrians. 

The canals, through which the overflowing waters of 
the Nile were carried to the more distant fields, were, 
of course, each year more or less blocked up by the same 
mud which made the fields fruitful; and the clearing 
of these canals was one of the greatest boons that the 
monarch could bestow upon the till- 
ers of the soil. This had often been 
neglected by the less powerful and 
less prudent kings of Egypt, in 
whose reigns the husbandman be- 
lieved that Heaven in its displeasure 
withheld part of the wished-f or over- 
flow; but Petronius employed the 
leisure of his soldiers on this wise 
and benevolent work. In order 
better to understand the rise of the 
Nile, to fix the amount of the land- 
tax, and more fairly to regulate the 
overflow through the canals, the 
Nilometer on the Island of Elephan- 
tine was at this time made. 

It was under ^lius Gallus, the third prefect, that 
Egypt was visited by Strabo, the most careful and judi- 
cious of all the ancient travellers. He had come to study 
mathematics, astronomy, and geography in the museum, 
under the successors of Euclid, Eratosthenes, and Hip- 
parchus. He accompanied the prefect in a march to 



Syene (Aswan), the border town, and he has left us a 
valuable account of the state of the country at that time. 
Alexandria was the chief object that engaged his atten- 
tion. Its two harbours held more ships than were to be 
seen in any other port in the world, and its export trade 
was thought greater than that of all Italy. The docks on 
each side of the causeway, and the ship canal, from the 
harbour of Eunostus to the Mareotic Lake, were full of 
bustle and activity. The palace or citadel on the promon- 
tory of Lochias on one side of the great harbour was as 
striking an object as the lighthouse on the other. The 
temples and palaces covered a space of ground equal to 
more than one-fourth part of the city, and the suburbs 
reached even beyond the Mareotic Lake. Among the 
chief buildings were the Soma, which held the bodies of 
Alexander and of the Ptolemies; the court of justice; 
the museum of philosophy, which had been rebuilt since 
the burning by Caesar's soldiers; the exchange, crowded 
with merchants, the temple of Neptune, and Mark An- 
tony's fortress, called the Timonium, on a point of land 
which jutted into the harbour; the CEesarium, or new 
palace; and the great temple of Serapis, which was on 
the western side of the city, and was the largest and most 
ornamented of all these buildings. Farther off was the 
beautiful gymnasium for wrestlers and boxers, with its 
porticoes of a stadium in length, where the citizens used 
to meet in public assembly. From the top of the temple 
of Pan, which rose like a sugar-loaf in the middle of the 
city, and was mounted by a winding staircase, the whole 
of this remarkable capital might be seen spread out before 


the eye. On the east of the city was the circus, for chariot 
races, and on the west lay the public gardens and pale 
green palm-groves, and the Necropolis ornamenting the 
roadside with tombs for miles along the seashore. Other 
tombs were in the catacombs underground on the same 
side of the city. The banks of the Mareotic Lake were 
fringed with vineyards, which bore the famed wine of the 
same name, and which formed a pleasant contrast with 
the burning whiteness of the desert beyond. The canal 
from the lake to the Nile marked its course through the 
plain by the greater freshness of the green along its 
banks. In the distance were the new buildings of Augus- 
tus' city of Nicopohs. The arts of Grreece and the wealth 
of Egypt had united to adorn the capital of the Ptolemies, 
Heliopolis, the ancient seat of Egyptian learning, had 
never been wholly repaired since its siege by Cambyses, 
and was then almost a deserted city. Its schools were 
€mpty, its teachers silent ; but the houses in which Plato 
and his friend Eudoxus were said to have dwelt and 
studied were pointed out to the traveller, to warm his 
love of knowledge and encourage him in the pursuit of 
virtue. Memphis was the second city in Egypt, while 
Thebes and Abydos, the former capitals, had fallen to 
the size and rank of villages. At Memphis Strabo saw 
the bull-fights in the circus, and was allowed to look at 
the bull Apis through a window of his stable. At Croco- 
dilopolis he saw the sacred crocodile caught on the banks 
of the lake and fed with cakes and wine. Ptolemais, 
which was at first only an encampment of Greek soldiers, 
had risen under the sovereigns to whom it owed its name 


to be the largest city in the Thebaid, and scarcely less 
than Memphis. It was built wholly by the Greeks, and, 
like Alexandria, it was under Greek laws, while the other 
cities in Egypt were under Egyptian laws and magis- 
trates. It was situated between Panopolis and Abydos^ 
but, while the temples of Thebes, which were built so 
many centuries earlier, are still standing in awful gran- 
deur, scarcely a trace of this Greek city can be foimd in 
the villages of El Menshieh and Girgeh (Cerkasoros) , 
which now stand on the spot. Strabo and the Roman 
generals did not forget to visit the broken colossal statue 
of Amenhothes, near Thebes, which sent forth its musical 
sounds every morning, as the sun, rising over the Ara- 
bian hiUs, first shone upon its face; but this inquiring 
traveller could not make up his mind whether the music 
came from the statue, or the base, or the people around 
it. He ended his tour with watching the sunshine at the 
bottom of the astronomical well at Syene, which, on the 
longest day, is exactly under the sun's northern edge, 
and with admiring the skill of the boatmen who shot 
down the cataracts in their wicker boats, for the amuse- 
ment of the Roman generals. 

In the earlier periods of Egj^tian history Ethiopia 
was peopled, or, at least, governed, by a race of men, 
whom, as they spoke the same language and worshipped 
the same gods as their neighbours of Upper Egypt, we 
must call the Kopts. But the Arabs, under the name of 
Troglodytes, and other tribes, had made an early settle- 
ment on the African side of the Red Sea. So numerous 
were they in Upper Egypt that in the time of Strabo 


half the population of the city of Koptos were Arabs; 
they were the camel-drivers and carriers for the Theban 
merchants in the trade across the desert. Some of the 
conquests of Ramses had been over that nation in south- 
ern Ethiopia, and the Arab power must have further 
risen after the defeat of the Ethiopians by Euergetes I. 
Ethiopia in the time of Augustus was held by Arabs; a 
race who thought peace a state of disgraceful idleness, 
and war the only employment worthy of men; and who 
made frequent hasty inroads into Nubia, and sometimes 
into Egypt. They fought for plunder, not for con- 
quest, and usually retreated as quickly as they came, with 
such booty as they laid their hands on. To use words 
which were proverbial while the Nile swarmed with croc- 
odiles, " They did as the dogs do, they drank and ran 
away; " and the Romans found it necessary to place a 
body of troops near the cataracts of Syene to stop their 
marching northward and laying waste the Thebaid. 
While the larger part of the Roman legions was with- 
drawn into Arabia on an imsuccessful quest for treasure, 
a body of thirty thousand of these men, whom we may 
call either Arabs, from their blood and language, or Ethi- 
opians, from their country, marched northward into 
Egypt, and overpowered the three Roman cohorts at 
Elephantine, Syene, and Philse. Badly armed and badly 
trained, they were led on by the generals of Candace, 
Queen of Napata, to the fourth cataract. They were, 
however, easily driven back when Grallus led against 
them an army of ten thousand men, and drove them to 
Ethiopian Pselchis, now remaining as the modem village 



of Dakkeh. There he defeated them again, and took the 
city by storm. From Pselchis he marched across the 
Nubian desert two hundred and fifty miles to Premnis, 
on the northerly bend of the river, and then made himself 
master of Napata, 
the capital. A 
guard was at the 
moment left in the 
country to check 
any future in- 
roads; but the Ro- 
mans made no at- 
tempts to hold it. 

Of the state 
of the Ethiopic 


Arabs under Queen Candace we learn but little from 
this hasty inroad; but some of the tribes must have been 
very far from the barbarians that, from their ignorance 


of the arts of war, the Romans judged them to be. Those 
nearest to the Egyptian frontiers, the Troglodytse and 
Blemmyes, were unsettled, wandering, and plundering; 
but the inhabitants of Meroe were of a more civilised race. 
The Jews had settled in southern Ethiopia in large num- 
bers, and for a long time; Solomon's trade had made 
them acquainted with Adule and Auxum; some of them 
were employed in the highest offices, and must have 
brought with them the arts of civilised life. A few years 
later (Acts Vm. 27) we meet with a Jewish eimuch, the 
treasurer of Queen Candace, travelling with some pomp 
from Ethiopia to the religious festivals at Jerusalem. 
The Egyptian coins of Augustus and his successors 
are all Greek; the conquest of the country by the Romans 
made no change in its language. Though the chief part 
of the population spoke Koptic, it was still a Greek prov- 
ince of the Roman empire; the decrees of the prefects 
of Alexandria and of the upper provinces were written 
in Greek; and every Roman traveller, who, like a school- 
boy, has scratched his name upon the foot of the musical 
statue of Amenhothes, to let the world know the extent 
of his travels, has helped to prove that the Roman gov- 
ernment of the country was carried on in the Greek lan- 
guage. The coins often bear the eagle and thunderbolt 
on one side, while on the other is the emperor's head, 
with his name and titles; and, after a few years, they are 
all dated with the year of the emperor's reign. In the 
earliest he is styled a Son of God, in imitation of the 
Egyptian title of Son of the Sun. After Egypt lost its 
liberty, we no longer find any gold coinage in the 


country; tiiat metal, with everything else that was most 
costly, was carried away to pay the Roman tribute. This 
was chiefly taken in money, except, indeed, the tax on 
grain, which the Egyptian kings had always received in 
kind, and which was still gathered in the same way, and 
each year shipped to Rome, to be distributed among the 
idle poor of that great city. At this time it amounted to 
twenty millions of bushels, which was four times what 
was levied in the reign of Philadelphus. The trade to the 
east was increasing, but as yet not large. About one 
hundred and twenty small vessels sailed every year to 
India from Myos-Hormos, which was now the chief port 
on the Red Sea. 

No change was made in the Egyptian religion by this 
change of masters; and, though the means of the priests 
were lessened, they still carried forward the buildings 
which were in progress, and even began new ones. The 
small temple of Isis, at Tentyra, behind the great temple 
of Hathor, was either built or finished in this reign, and it 
was dedicated to the goddess, and to the honour of the 
emperor as Jupiter Liberator, in a Greek inscription on 
the cornice, in the thirty-first year of the reign, when 
Publius Octavius was prefect of the province. The large 
temple at Talmis, in Nubia, was also then bmlt, though 
not wholly finished; and we find the name of Augustus 
at Philge, on some of the additions to the temple of Isis, 
which had been built in the reign of Philadelphus. In 
the hieroglyphical inscriptions on these temples, Augus- 
tus is called Autocrator Caesar, and is styled Son of the 
Sun, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, with the other 



titles wMch had always been given by the priests to the 
Ptolemies and their own native sovereigns for so many 
centuries. These claims were evidently unknown in 
Rome, where the modesty of Augustus was almost 

The Greeks had at all times been forward in owning 
the Egyptians as their teachers in religion; and in the 
dog Cerberus, the judge Minos, the boat of Charon, and 
the river Styx of their mythology, we see a clear proof 
that it was in Egypt that the Greeks gained their faint 
glimpse of the immortality of the soul, a day of judg- 
ment, and a future state of rewards and punishments; 
and, now that Rome was in close intercourse with Egypt, 
the Romans were equally ready to borrow thence their 
religious ceremonies. They brought to Rome the Egyp- 
tian opinions with the statues of the gods. They ran into 
the new superstition to avoid the painful uneasiness of 
believing nothing, and, though the Romans ridiculed their 
own gods, they believed in those of Egypt. So fashion- 
able was the worship of Isis and Serapis becoming in 
Italy, that Augustus made a law that no Egyptian cere- 
monies should enter the city or even the suburbs of 
Rome. His subjects might copy the luxuries, the follies, 
and the vices of the Alexandrians, but not the gloomy 
devotion of the Egyptians. But the spread of opinions 
was not so checked; even Virgil taught the doctrine of 
the Egyptian millennium, or the resurrection from the 
dead when the thousand years were ended; and the crip- 
ple asking for alms in the streets of Rome would beg in 
the name of the holy Osiris. 

» n\ one • . 





sheared, but not to be flayed." On the death of one of 
the prefects, there was foimd among his property at 
Rome a statue of Menelaus, carved in Ethiopian obsidian, 
which had been used in the religious ceremonies in the 
temple of Heliopolis, and Tiberius returned it to the 
priests of that city as its rightful owners. Another proof 
of the equal justice with which this province was gov- 
erned was to be seen in the buildings then carried on by 
the priests in Upper Egypt. We find the name of Tibe- 
rius carved in hieroglyphics on additions or repairs made 
to the temples at Thebes, at Aphroditopolis, at Berenice, 
on the Red Sea, at Philas, and at the Greek city of Parem- 
bole, in Nubia. The great portico was at this time added 
to the temple at Tentyra, with an inscription dedicating 
it to the goddess in Greek and in hieroglyphics. As a 
building is often the work of years, while sculpture is 
only the work of weeks, so the fashion of the former is 
always far less changing than that of the latter. The 
sculptures on the walls of this beautiful portico are 
crowded and graceless; while, on the other hand, the 
building itself has the same grand simplicity and massive 
strength that we find in the older temples of Upper 

We cannot but admire the zeal of the Egyptians by 
whom this work was then finished. They were treated 
as slaves by their Greek fellow-countrymen; their houses 
were ransacked every third year by military authority 
in search of arms; they could have had no help from 
their Roman masters, who only drained the province of 
its wealth; and the temple had perhaps never been 



heard of by the emperor, who could have been little aware 
that the most lasting monument of his reign was being 
raised in the distant province of Egypt. The priests of 


the other parts of the country sent gifts out of their 
poverty in aid of this pious work; and among the figures 
on the walls we see those of forty cities, from Semneh, at 


the second cataract, to Memphis and Sais, in the Delta, 
each presenting an offering to the god of the temple. 

In the third year of this reign Germanicus C^sar, who, 
much against his wiU, had been sent into the East as 
governor, found time to leave his own province, and to 
snatch a hasty view of the time-honoured buildings of 
Egypt. Descending the river to Thebes, and, while gazing 
on the huge remains of the temples, he asked the priests 
to read to him the hieroglyphical writing on the walls. 
He was told that it recounted the greatness of the country 
in the time of King Ramses, when there were seven hun- 
dred thousand Egyptians of an age to bear arms; and 
that with these troops Ramses had conquered the Lib- 
yans, Ethiopians, Medes, Persians, Bactrians, Scythians, 
Syrians, Armenians, Cappadocians, Bithynians, and Lyc- 
ians. He was also told the tributes laid upon each of 
those nations; the weight of gold and silver, the number 
of chariots and horses, the gifts of ivory and scents for 
the temples, and the quantity of grain which the con- 
quered provinces sent to feed the population of Thebes. 
After listening to the musical statue of Amenhothes, 
Oermanicus went on to Elephantine and Syene ; and, on 
his return, he turned aside to the pyramids and the Lake 
of Moeris, which regulated the overflow of the Nile on 
the neighbouring fields. At Memphis, Germanicus con- 
sulted the sacred bull Apis as to his future fortime, and 
met with an unfavourable answer. The manner of con- 
sulting Apis was for the visitor to hold out some food 
in his hand, and the answer was understood to be favour- 
able if the bull turned his head to eat, but unfavourable 


if he looked another way. When Germanicus accord- 
ingly held out a handful of grain, the well-fed animal 
turned his head sullenly towards the other side of his 
stall; and on the death of this young prince, which shortly 
followed, the Egyptians did not forget to praise the bull's 
foresight. This blameless and seemingly praiseworthy 
visit of Grermanicus did not, however, escape the notice 
of the jealous Tiberius. He had been guilty of gaining 
the love of the people by walking about without guards, 
in a plain Greek dress, and of lowering the price of grain 
in a famine by opening the public granaries; and Tiberius 
sternly reproached him with breaking the known law 
of Augustus, by which no Roman citizen of consular or 
even of equestrian rank might enter Alexandria without 
leave from the emperor. 

There were at this time about a million of Jews in 
Egypt. In Alexandria they seem to have been about one- 
third of the population, as they formed the majority in 
two wards out of the five into which the city was divided. 
They lived under their own elders and Sanhedrim, going 
up at their solemn feasts to worship in their own temple 
at Onion; but, from their mixing with the Greeks, they 
had become less strict than their Hebrew brethren in 
their observance of the traditions. Some few of them, 
however, held themselves in obedience to the Sanhedrim 
in Jerusalem, and looked upon the temple of Jerusalem 
as the only Jewish temple; and these men were in the 
habit of sending an embassy on the stated solemn feasts 
of the nation to offer the appointed sacrifices and prayers 
to Jahveh in the holy city on their behalf. But though 



the decree by Csesar, which declared that the Jews were 
Alexandrian citizens, was engraved on a pillar in the 
city, yet they were by no means treated as such, either 
by the government, or by the Greeks, or by the Egyptians. 
When, during the famine, the public granaries seemed 
unable to supply the whole city with food, even the 
humane Germanicus ordered that the Jews, like the 
Egyptians, should have no share of the gift. They were 


despised even by the Egyptians themselves, who, to insult 
them, said that the wicked god Typhon had two sons, 
Hierosolymus and Judseus, and that from these the Jews 
were descended. 

In the neighbourhood of Alexandria, on a hill near 
the shores of the Lake Mareotis, was a little colony of 
Jews, who, joining their own religion with the mystical 
opinions and gloomy habits of the Egyptians, have left 
us one of the earliest known examples of the monastic 
life. They bore the name of Therapeutse. They had left, 
says Philo, their worldly wealth to their families or 


friends; they had forsaken wives, children, brethren, 
parents, and the society of men, to bury themselves in 
solitude and pass their lives in the contemplation of the 
divine essence. Seized by this heavenly love, they were 
eager to enter upon the next world, as though they were 
already dead to this. Every one, whether man or woman, 
lived alone in his cell or monastery, caring for neither 
food nor raiment, but having his thoughts wholly turned 
to the Law and the Prophets, or to sacred hymns of their 
own composing. They had their God always in their 
thoughts, and even the broken sentences which they 
uttered in their dreams were treasures of religious wis- 
dom. They prayed every morning at sunrise, and then 
spent the day in turning over the sacred volumes, and 
the commentaries, which explained the allegories, or 
pointed out a secondary meaning as hidden beneath the 
surface of even the historical books of the Old Testament. 
At sunset they again prayed, and then tasted their first 
and only meal. Self-denial indeed was the foundation 
of all their virtues. Some made only three meals in the 
week, that their meditations might be more free; while 
others even attempted to prolong their fast to the sixth 
day. During six days of the week they saw nobody, not 
even one another. On the seventh day they met together 
in the synagogue. Here they sat, each according to his 
age; the women separated from the men. Each wore 
a plain, modest robe, which covered the arms and hands, 
and they sat in silence while one of the elders preached. 
As they studied the mystic powers of numbers, they 
thought the number seven was a holy number, and that 



seven times seven made a great week, and hence they 
kept the fiftieth day as a solemn festival. On that day 
they dined together, the men on one side and the women 
on the other. The rushy papyrus formed the couches; 
bread was their only meat, water their drink, salt the 
seasoning, and cresses the delicacy. They would keep no 
slaves, saying that aU men were bom equal. Nobody 
spoke, unless it was to propose a question out of the Old 


Testament, or to answer the question of another. The 
feast ended with a hymn of praise. 

The ascetic Jews of Palestine, the Essenes on the 
banks of the Dead Sea, by no means, according to Philo, 
thus quitted the active duties of life; and it would seem 
that the Therapeutse rather borrowed their customs from 
the country in which they had settled, than from any 
sects of the Jewish nation. Some classes of the Egyptian 
priesthood had always held the same views of their relig- 
ious duties. These Egyptian monks slept on a hard 
bed of palm branches, with a still harder wooden pillow 


for the head; they were plain in their dress, slow in walk- 
ing, spare in diet, and scarcely allowed themselves to 
smile. They washed thrice a day, and prayed as often; 
at sunrise, at noon, and at simset. They often fasted 
from animal food, and at all times refused many meats 
as unclean. They passed their lives alone, either in study 
or wrapped in rehgious thought. They never met one 
another but at set times, and were seldom seen by stran- 
gers. Thus, leaving to others the pleasures, wealth, and 
lesser prizes of this life, they received from them in re- 
turn what most men value higher, namely, honour, fame, 
and power. 

The Romans, like the Greeks, feeling but little par- 
tiality in favour of their own gods, were rarely guilty 
of intolerance against those of others ; and would hardly 
have checked the introduction of a new religion unless 
it made its followers worse citizens. But in Rome, where 
every act of its civil or military authorities was accom- 
panied with a religious rite, any slight towards the gods 
was a slight towards the magistrate; many devout Ro- 
mans had begun to keep holy the seventh day; and Egypt 
was now so closely joined to Italy that the Roman senate 
made a new law against the Egyptian and Jewish super- 
stitions, and, in a. d. 19, banished to Sardinia four thou- 
sand men who were found guilty of being Jews. 

Egypt had lost with its liberties its, gold coinage, and 
it was now made to feel a further proof of being a con- 
quered country in having its silver much alloyed with 
copper. But Tiberius, in the tenth year of his reign, 
altogether stopped the Alexandrian mint, as well as those 


of the other cities which occasionally coined; and after 
this year we find no more coins, but the few with the head 
and name of Augustus Caesar, which seem hardly to have 
been meant for money, but to commemorate on some 
peculiar occasions the emperor's adoption by his step- 
father. The Nubian gold mines were probably by this 
time whoUy deserted; they had been so far worked out 
as to be no longer profitable. For fifteen hundred years, 
ever since Ethiopia was conquered by Thebes, wages and 
prices had been higher in Egypt than in the neighbouring 
countries. But this was now no longer the case. Egypt 
had been getting poorer during the reigns of the latter 
Ptolemies; and by this time it is probable that both 
wages and prices were higher in Rome. 

It seems to have been usual to change the prefect of 
Egypt every few years, and the prefect-elect was often 
sent to Alexandria to wait tni his predecessor's term of 
years had ended. Thus in this reign of twenty-three 
years ^milius Rectus was succeeded by Vetrasius PoUio; 
and on his death Tiberius gave the government to his 
freedman Iberus. During the last five years Egypt was 
under the able but stem government of Flaccus Avillius, 
whose name is carved on the temple of Tentyra with 
that of the emperor. He was a man who united all those 
qualities of prudent forethought, with prompt execution 
and attention to business, which was so necessary in con- 
trolling the irritable Alexandrians, who were liable to be 
fired into rebellion by the smallest spark. Justice was 
administered fairly; the great were not allowed to tyran- 
nise over the poor, nor the people to meet in tumultuous 


mobs; and the legions were regularly paid, so that they 
had no excuse for plundering the Egyptians. 

On the death of Tiberius, in a. d. 37, the old quarrel 
again broke out between Jews and Greeks. The Alex- 
andrians were not slow in learning the feelings of his 
successor, Caius, or Caligula, towards the Jews, nor in. 
turning against them the new law that the emperor's 
statue should be honoured in every temple of the empire. 
They had very unwillingly yielded a half -obedience to the 
law of Augustus that the Jews should stiU be allowed 
the privileges of citizenship; and, as soon as they heard 
that Caligula was to be worshipped in every temple 
of the empire, they denounced the Jews as traitors and 
rebels, who refused so to honour the emperor in their 
synagogues. It happened, unfortimately, that their 
comitryman. King Agrippa, at this time came to Alex- 
andria. He had full leave from the emperor to touch 
there, as being the quickest and most certain way of 
making the voyage from Rome to the seat of his own 
government. Indeed, the Alexandrian voyage had an- 
other merit in the eyes of a Jew; for, whereas wooden 
water-vessels were declared by the Law to be unclean, 
an exception was made by their tradition in favour of the 
larger size of the water-wells in the Alexandrian ships. 
Agrippa had seen Egypt before, on his way to Rome, and 
he meant to make no stay there; but, though he landed 
purposely after dark, and with no pomp or show, he seems 
to have raised the anger of the prefect Flaccus, who felt 
jealous at any man of higher rank than himself coming 
into his province. The Greeks fell into the prefect's 


hmnour, and during the stay of Agrippa in Alexandria 
they lampooned him in songs and ballads, of which the 
raillery was not of the most delicate kind. They mocked 
him by leading about the streets a poor idiot dressed 
up with a paper crown and a reed for a sceptre, in ridicule 
of his rather doubtful right to the style of royalty. 

As these insults towards the emperor's friend passed 
whoUy unchecked by the prefect, the Greeks next as- 
saulted the Jews in the streets and market-place, at- 
tacked their houses, rooted up the groves of trees around 
their synagogues, and tore down the decree by which 
the privileges of citizenship had been confirmed to them. 
The Greeks then proceeded to set up by force a statue 
of the emperor in each Jewish synagogue, as if the new 
decree had included those places of worship among the 
temples, and, not finding statues enough, they made use 
of the statues of the Ptolemies, which they carried away 
from the gymnasium for that purpose. During the last 
reign, under the stern government of Tiberius, Flaccus 
had governed with justice and prudence, but imder Ca- 
ligula he seemed to have lost all judgment in his zeal 
against the Jews. When the riots in the streets could 
no longer be overlooked, instead of defending the injured 
party, he issued a decree in which he styled the Jews 
foreigners; thus at one word robbing them of their priv- 
ileges and condemning them unheard. By this the Greeks 
were hurried forward into further acts of injustice, and 
the Jews of resistance. But the Jews were the weaker 
party: they were overpowered, and aU driven into one 
ward, and four hundred of their houses in the other wards 


were plundered, and the spoil divided as if taken in 
war. They were stoned, and even burnt in the streets, 
if they ventured forth to buy food for their families. 
Flaccus seized and scourged in the theatre thirty-eight 
of their venerable councillors, and, to show them that 
they were no longer citizens, the punishment was inflicted 
by the hands of Egyptian executioners. While the city 
was in this state of riot, the Greeks gave out that the 
Jews were concealing arms; and Flaccus, to give them 
a fresh proof that they had lost the rights of citizenship, 
ordered that their houses should be forcibly entered and 
searched by a centurion and a band of soldiers. 

During their troubles the Jews had not been allowed 
to complain to the emperor, or to send an embassy to 
Rome to make known their grievances. But the Jewish 
King Agrippa, who was on his way from Rome to his 
kingdom, forwarded to Caligula the complaints of his 
countrymen, the Jews, with an account of the rebellious 
state of Alexandria. The riots, it is true, had been wholly 
raised by the prefect's zeal in setting up the emperor's 
statue in the synagogues to be worshipped by the Jews, 
and in carrying into effect the emperor's decree; but, 
as he had not been able to keep his province quiet, it 
was necessary that he should be recalled, and pimished 
for his want of success. To have found it necessary to 
call out the troops was of course a fault in a governor; 
but doubly so at a time and in a province where a suc- 
cessful general might so easily become a formidable rebel. 
Accordingly, a centurion, with a trusty cohort of soldiers, 
was sent from Rome for the recall of the prefect. On 


approaching the flat coast of Egypt, they kept the vessel 
in deep water till sunset, and then entered the harbour 
of Alexandria in the dark. The centurion, on landing, 
met with a freedman of the emperor, from whom he 
learned that the prefect was then at supper, entertain- 
ing a large company of friends. The freedman led the 
cohort quietly into the palace, into the very room where 
Placcus was sitting at table; and the first tidings that 
he heard of. his government being disapproved of in Rome 
was his finding himself a prisoner in his own palace. 
The friends stood motionless with surprise, the centurion 
produced the emperor's order for what he was doing, 
and as no resistance was attempted all passed off quietly; 
Placcus was hurried on board the vessel then at anchor 
in the harbour on the same evening and immediately 
taken to Rome. 

It so happened that on the night that Flaccus was 
seized, the Jews had met together to celebrate their au- 
tumnal feast, the feast of the Tabernacles: not as in 
former years with joy and pomp, but in fear, in grief, 
and in prayer. Their chief men were in prison, their 
nation smarting under its wrongs and in daily fear of 
fresh cruelties; and it was not without alarm that they 
heard the noise of soldiers moving to and fro through 
the city, and the heavy tread of the guards marching 
by torchlight from the camp to the palace. But their 
fear was soon turned into joy when they heard that 
Flaccus, the author of all their wrongs, was already a 
prisoner on board the vessel in the harbour; and they 
gave glory to God, not, says Philo, that their enemy was 


going to be punished, but because their own sufferings 
were at an end. 

The Jews then, having had leave given them by the 
prefect, sent an embassy to Rome, at the head of which 
was Philo, the platonic philosopher, who was to lay their 
grievances before the emperor, and to beg for redress. 
The Greeks also at the same time sent their embassy, 
at the head of which was the learned grammarian Apion, 
who was to accuse the Jews of not worshipping the statue 
of the emperor, and to argue that they had no right to 
the same privileges of citizenship with those who boasted 
of their Macedonian blood. But, as the Jews did not 
deny the charge that was brought against them, Caligula 
would hear nothing that they had to say; and Philo 
withdrew with the remark, " Though the emperor is 
against us, God will be our friend." 

We learn the sad tale of the Jews' suffering under 
Caligula from the pages of their own historian only. 
But though Philo may have felt and written as one of 
the sufferers, his truth is undoubted. He was a man of 
unblemished character, and the writer of greatest learn- 
ing and of the greatest note at that time in Alexandria; 
being also of a great age, he well deserved the honour 
of being sent on the embassy to Caligula. He was in 
religion a Jew, in his philosophy a platonist, and by birth 
an Egyptian: and in his numerous writings we may trace 
the three sources from which he drew his opinions. He 
is always devotional and in earnest, full of pure and lofty 
thoughts, and often eloquent. His fondness for the mys- 
tical properties of numbers, and for finding an allegory 


or secondary meaning in the plainest narrative, seems 
borrowed from the Egyptians. According to the Eastern 
proverb every word in a wise book has seventy-two mean- 
ings; and this mode of interpretation was called into use 
by the necessity which the Jews felt of making the Old 
Testament speak a meaning more agreeable to their 
modem views of religion. In Philo's speculative theol- 
ogy he seems to have borrowed less from Moses than 
from the abstractions of Plato, whose shadowy hints he 
has embodied in a more solid form. He was the first 
Jewish writer that applied to the Deity the mystical 
notion of the Egyptians, that everything perfect was of 
three parts. Philo's writings are valuable as showing 
the steps by which the philosophy of Greece may be 
traced from the writings of Plato to those of Justin 
Martyr and Clemens Alexandrinus. They give us the 
earliest example of how the mystical interpretation of 
the Scriptures was formed into a system, by which every 
text was made to unfold some important philosophic or 
religious truth to the learned student, at the same time 
that to the unlearned reader it conveyed only the simple 
historic fact. 

The Hellenistic Jews, while suffering under severe 
political disabilities, had taken up a high literary position 
in Alexandria, and had forced their opinions into the 
notice of the Greeks. The glowing earnestness of their 
philosophy, now put forward in a platonic dress, and 
their improved style, approaching even classic elegance, 
placed their writings on a lofty eminence far above any- 
thing which the cold,lif eless grammarians of the museum 


were then producing. Apion, who went to Rome to plead 
against Philo, was a native of the Great Oasis, but as 
he was bom of Greek parents, he claimed and received 
the title and privileges of an Alexandrian, which he 
denied to the Jews who were born in the city. He had 
studied under Didymus and ApoUonius and Euphranor, 
and was one of the most laborious of the grammarians 
and editors of Homer. AU his writings are now lost. 
Some of them were attacks upon the Jews and their 
religion, calling in question the truth of the Jewish his- 
tory and the justice of that nation's claim to high an- 
tiquity; and to these attacks we owe Josephus' Answer, 
in which several valuable fragments of history are saved 
by being quoted against the pagans in support of the 
Old Testament. One of his works was his ^gyptiaca, 
an account of what he thought most curious in Egypt. 
But his learned trifling is now lost, and nothing remains 
of it but his account of the meeting between Androclus 
and the lion, which took place in the amphitheatre at 
Rome when Apion was there on his embassy. Androclus 
was a rimaway slave, who, when retaken, was brought to 
Rome to be thrown before an African lion for the amuse- 
ment of the citizens, and as a punishment for his flight. 
But the fierce and hungry beast, instead of tearing him 
to pieces, wagged his tail at him, and licked his feet. 
It seems that the slave, when he fled from his master, 
had gained the friendship of the lion in the Libyan desert, 
first by pulling a thorn out of his foot, and then by living 
three years with him in a cave; and, when both were 
brought in chains to Rome, Androclus found a grateful 


friend in tlie amphitheatre where he thought to have met 
with a cruel death. 

We may for a moment leave our history, to bid a last 
farewell to the family of the Ptolemies. Augustus, after 
leading Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra and Antony, 
through the streets of Rome in his triumph, had given 
her in marriage to the younger Juba, the historian of 
Africa; and about the same time he gave to the husband 
the kingdom of Mauritania,- the inheritance of his father. 
His son Ptolemy succeeded him on the throne, but was 


soon turned out of his kingdom. We trace the last of 
the Ptolemies in his travels through Greece and Asia 
Minor by the inscriptions remaining to his honour. The 
citizens of Xanthus in Lycia set up a monument to him; 
and at Athens his statue was placed beside that of Phil- 
adelphus in the gymnasium of Ptolemy, near the temple 
of Theseus, where he was honoured as of founder's kin. 
He was put to death by Caligula. Drusilla, another 
grandchild of Cleopatra and Antony, married Antonius 
Felix, the procurator of Judaea, after the death of his 


first wife, who was also named Drusilla. These are the 
last notices that we meet with of the royal family of 

As soon as the news of Caligula's death (a. d, 41) 
reached Egypt, the joy of the Jews knew no bounds. 
They at once flew to arms to revenge themselves on the 
Alexandrians, whose streets were again the seat of civil 
war. The governor did what he could to quiet both 
parties, but was not wholly successful till the decree of 
the new emperor reached Alexandria. In this Claudius 
granted to the Jews the full rights of citizenship, which 
they had enjoyed under the Ptolemies, and which had 
been allowed by Augustus; he left them to choose their 
own high priest, to enjoy their own religion without 
hindrance, and he repealed the laws of Caligula under 
which they had been groaning. At this time the Jewish 
alabarch in Egypt was Demetrius, a man of wealth and 
high birth, who had married Mariamne, the daughter of 
the elder Agrippa. 

The government under Claudius was mild and just, 
at least as far as a government could be in which every 
tax-gatherer, every military governor, and every sub- 
prefect was supposed to enrich himself by his appoint- 
ment. Every Roman officer, from the general down to 
the lowest tribune, claimed the right of travelling through 
the country free of expense, and seizing the carts and 
cattle of the villagers to carry him forward to the next 
town, under the pretence of being a courier on the pubhc 
service. But we have a decree of the ninth year of this 
reign, carved on the temple in the Great Oasis, in which 



Cneius Capito, the prefect of Egypt, endeavours to put 
a stop to this injustice. He orders that no traveller shall 
have the privilege of a courier unless he has a proper 
warrant, and that then he shall only claim a free lodging; 
that clerks in the villages shall keep a register of all that 
is taken on account of the public service; and that if 
anybody make an unjust claim he shall pay four times 




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the amount to the informer and six times the amount to 
the emperor. But royal decrees could do little or nothing 
where there were no judges to enforce them; and the 
people of Upper Egypt must have felt this law as a cruel 
insult when they were told that they might take up 
their complaints to Basilides, at Alexandria. The em- 
ployment of the informer is a full acknowledgment of 
the weakness of this absolute government, and that the 
prefect had not the power to enforce his own decrees; 
and, when we compare this law with that of Alexander 










on Ms conquest of the country, we have no difficulty in 
seeing why Egypt rose under the Ptolemies and sunk 
under the selfish policy of Augustus. 

Claudius was somewhat of a scholar and an author; 
he wrote several volumes both in Greek and in Latin. 
The former he might perhaps think would be chiefly 
valued in Alexandria; and when he founded a new col- 
lege in that city, called after himself the Claudian Mu- 
seum, he ordered that on given days every year his his- 
tory of Carthage should be publicly read in one museum, 
and his history of Italy in the other; thus securing dur- 
ing Ms reign an attention to Ms writings which their 
merits alone would not have gained. 

Under the government of Claudius the Egyptians 
were again allowed to coin money; and in Ms first year 
begins that Mstorically important series in which every 
coin is dated with the year of the emperor's reign. The 
coins of the Ptolemies were strictly Greek in their work- 
manship, and the few Egyptian characters that we see 
upon them are so much altered by the classic taste of 
the die-engraver that we hardly know them again. But 
it is far otherwise with the coins of the emperors, which 
are covered with the ornaments, characters, and religious 
ceremonies of the native Egyptians; and, though the 
style of art is often bad, they are scarcely equalled by 
any series of coins whatever in the service they render 
to the historian. 

It was in this reign that the route through Egypt to 
India first became really known to the Greeks and Ro- 
mans. The historian Pliny, who died in 79 a. d., has left 




1— I 





US a contemporary account of these early voyages. '' It 
will not be amiss," he says in his Natural. History, " to 
set forth the whole of the route from Egypt, which has 
been stated to us of late, upon information on which reli- 
ance may be placed and is here published for the first 
time. The subject is one well worthy of our notice, see- 
ing that in no year does India drain our empire of less 
than five hundred and fifty millions of sesterces [or two 
million dollars], giving back her own wares in exchange, 
which are sold among us at fully one hundred times their 
cost price. 

'' Two miles distant from Alexandria is the town of 
Heliopolis. The distance thence to Koptos, up the Mle, 
is three hundred and eight miles; the voyage is per- 
formed, when the Etesian winds are blowing, in twelve 
days. Prom Koptos the journey is made with the aid 
of camels, stations being arranged at intervals for the 
supply of fresh water. The first of these stations is called 
Hydreuma, and is distant twenty-two miles; the second 
is situate on a mountain at a distance of one day's 
journey from the last; the third is at a second Hydreuma, 
distant from Koptos ninety-five miles; the fourth is on a 
mountain; the next to that is another Hydreuma, that 
of Apollo, and is distant from Koptos one hundred and 
eighty-four miles; after which there is another on a 
mountain; there is then another station at a place called 
the New Hydreuma, distant from Koptos two hundred 
and thirty miles; and next to it there is another called 
the Old Hydreuma, where a detachment is always on 
guard, with a caravansary that affords lodging for two 


thousand persons. The last is distant from the New 
Hydreuma seven miles. After leaving it, we come to 
the city of Berenice, situate upon a harbour of the Red 
Sea, and distant from Koptos two hundred and fifty-seven 
miles. The greater part of this distance is generally 
travelled by night, on account of the extreme heat, the 
day being spent at the stations; in consequence of which 
it takes twelve days to perform the whole journey from 
Koptos to Berenice. 

" Passengers generally set sail at midsmnmer before 
the rising of the Dog-star, or else immediately after, 
and in about thirty days arrive at Ocelis in Arabia, or 
else at Cane, in the region which bears frankincense. 
To those who are bound for India, Ocelis is the best place 
for embarkation. If the wind called Hippolus happens 
to be blowing, it is possible to arrive in forty days at 
the nearest mart of India, Muziris by name [the modem 
Mangalore]. This, however, is not a very desirable place 
for disembarkation, on account of the pirates which fre- 
quent its vicim'ty, where they occupy a place, Nitrias; 
nor, in fact, is it very rich in articles of merchandise. 
Besides, the roadstead for shipping is a considerable dis- 
tance from the shore, and the cargoes have to be conveyed 
in boats, either for loading or discharging. At the mo- 
ment that I am writing these pages," continues Pliny, 
" the name of the king of the place is Cselobotras. An- 
other part, and a much more convenient one, is that which 
lies in the territory of the people called Neacyndi, Barace 
by name. Here King Pandian used to reign, dwelling 
at a considerable distance from the mart in the interior. 


at a city known as Modiera. The district from whicli 
pepper is carried down to Barace in boats hollowed out 
of a single tree, is known as Cottonara. None of these 
names of nations, ports, and cities are to be found in 
any of the former writers, from which circumstance it 
would appear that the localities have since changed their 
names. Travellers set sail from India on their return 
to Europe, at the beginning of the Egyptian month Ty- 
bus, which is our December, or, at all events, before the 
sixth day of the Egyptian month Mechir, the same as 
our ides of January: if they do this, they can go and 
return in the same year. They set sail from India with 
a south-east wind, and, upon entering the Red Sea, catch 
the south-west or south." 

The places on the Indian coast which the Egyptian 
merchant vessels then reached are verified from the coins 
found there; and as we know the course of the trade- 
wind by which they arrived, we also know the part of 
Africa where they left the shore and braved the dangers 
of the ocean. A hoard of Roman gold coins of these 
reigns has been dug up in our own days near Calicut, 
under the roots of a banyan-tree. It had been there 
buried by an Alexandrian merchant on his arrival from 
this voyage, and left safe imder the cover of the sacred 
tree to await his return from a second journey. But he 
died before his return, and his secret died with him. 
The products of the Indian trade were chiefly silk, dia- 
monds, and other precious stones, ginger, spices, and 
some scents. The state of Ethiopia was then such that 
no trade came down the Nile to Syene; and the produce 


of southern Africa was brought by coasting vessels to 
Berenice. These products were ivory, rhinoceros teeth, 
hippopotamus skins, tortoise shell, apes, monkeys, and 
slaves, a list which throws a sidelight both on the pur- 
suits of the natives and the tastes of the ultimate 

The Romans in most cases collected the revenues of 
a province by means of a publican or farmer, to whom 
the taxes were let by auction; but such was the impor- 
tance of Egypt that the same jealousy which made them 
think its government too great to be trusted to a man 
of high rank, made them think its revenues too large 
to be trusted to one farmer. The smaller branches of the 
Egyptian revenue were, however, let out as usual, and 
even the collection of the customs of the whole of the 
Red Sea was not thought too much to trust to one citizen. 
Annius Plocamus, who farmed them in this reign, had 
a little fleet under his conunand to collect them with; 
and, tempted either by trade or plunder, his ships were 
sometimes as far out as the south coast of Arabia. On 
one occasion one of his freedmen in the command of a 
vessel was carried by a north wind into the open ocean, 
and after being fifteen days at sea found himself on the 
coast of Ceylon. This island was not then wholly new to 
the geographers of Egypt and Europe. It had been heard 
of by the pilots in the voyage of Alexander the Great; 
Eratosthenes had given it a place in his map; and it 
had often been reached from Africa by the sailors of the 
Red Sea in wickerwork boats made of papyrus; but this 
was the first time it had been visited by a European, 


In the neighbourhood of the above-mentioned road 
from Koptos to Berenice were the porphyritic quarries 
and the emerald mines, which were briskly worked under 
the Emperor Claudius. The mountain was now named 
the Claudian Mountain. 

As this route for trade became known, the geogra- 
phers began to understand the wide space that separates 
India from Africa. Hitherto, notwithstanding a few 
voyages of discovery, it had been the common opinion 
that Persia was in the neighbourhood of Ethiopia. The 
Greeks had thought that the Nile rose in India, in oppo- 
sition to the Jews, who said that it was the river Gihon 
of the garden of Eden, which made a circuit round the 
whole of the land of Cush, or Ethiopia. The names of 
these countries got misused accordingly; and even after 
the mistake was cleared up we sometimes find Ethiopia 
called India. 

The Egyptian chemists were able to produce very 
bright dyes by methods then unknown to Greece or Rome. 
They dipped the cloth first into a liquid of one colour, 
called a mordant, to prepare it, and then into a liquid 
of a second colour; and it came out dyed of a third colour, 
unlike either of the former. The ink with which they 
wrote the name of a deceased person on the mummy- 
cloth, like our own marking-ink, was made with nitrate 
of silver. Their knowledge of chemistry was far greater 
than that of their neighbours, and the science is even 
now named from the country of its birth. The later 
Arabs called it Alchemia, tJie Egyptian art, and hence 
our words alchemy and chemistry. So also Naphtha, 


or rock oil, from the coast of the Red Sea; and Anthra- 
cite, or rock fuel, from the coast of Syria, both bear Egyp- 
tian names. To some Egyptian stones the Romans gave 
their own names; as the black glassy obsidian from 
Nubia they called after Obsidius, who foimd it; the black 
Tiberian marble with white spots, and the Augustan 
marble with regular wavy veins, were both named after 
the emperors. Porphyry was now used for statues for 
the first time, and sometimes to make a kind of patch- 
work figure, in which the clothed parts were of the col- 
oured stone, while the head, hands, and feet were of white 
marble. And it was thought that diamonds were nowhere 
to be found but in the Ethiopian gold mines. 

Several kinds of wine were made in Egypt; some in 
the Arsinoite nome on the banks of the lake Mceris ; and 
a poor Libyan wine at Antiphrse on the coast, a hundred 
miles from Alexandria. Wine had also been made in 
Upper Egypt in small quantities a very long time, as we 
learn from the monuments; but it was produced with 
difficulty and cost and was not good; it was not valued 
by the G-reeks. It was poor and thin, and drunk only 
by those who were feverish and afraid of anything 
stronger. That of Anthylla, to the east of Alexandria, 
was very much better. But better still were the thick 
luscious Tseniotic and the mild delicate Mareotic wines. 
This last was first grown at Plinthine, but afterwards 
on all the banks of the lake Mareotis. The Mareotic 
wine was white and sweet and thin, and very little heat- 
ing or intoxicating. Horace had carelessly said of Cleo- 
patra that she was drunk with Mareotic wine; but 



Lucan, who better knew its quality, says that the head- 
strong lady drank wine far stronger than the Mareotic. 
Near Sebennytus three kinds of wine were made; one 
bitter named Pence, a second sparkling named ^thalon, 
and the third Thasian, from a vine imported from Thasus. 
But none of these Egyptian wines was thought equal 
to those of Greece and Italy. Nor were they made in 
quantities large enough or cheap enough for the poor; 


and here, as in other countries, the common people for 
their intoxicating drink used beer or spirits made from 
barley. The Egyptian sour wine, however, made very 
good vinegar, and it was then exported for sale in Rome. 
During this half-century that great national work, 
the lake of Moeris, by which thousands of acres had been 
flooded and made fertile, and the watering of the lower 
country regulated, was, through the neglect of the em- 
bankments, at once destroyed. The latest traveller who 
mentions it is Strabo, and the latest geographer Pom- 
ponius Mela. By its means the province of Arsinoe was 


made one of the most fruitful and beautiful spots in 
Egypt. Here only does the olive grow wild. Here the 
vine wiU grow. And by the help of this embanked lake 
the province was made yet more fruitful. But before 
Pliny wrote, the bank had given way, the pent-up waters 
had made for themselves a channel into the lake now 
called Birket el Kurun, and the two small pyramids, 
which had hitherto been surrounded by water, then stood 
on dry ground. Thus was the coimtry slowly goiag to 
ruin by the faults of the government, and ignorance in 
the foreign rulers. But, on the other hand, the beautiful 
temple of Latopolis, which had been begun under the 
Ptolemies, was finished in this reign; and bears the name 
of Claudius with those of some later emperors on its 
portico and walls. 

In the Egyptian language the word for a year is Bait, 
which is also the name of a bird. In hieroglyphics this 
word is spelt by a palm-branch Bai and the letter T, fol- 
lowed sometimes by a circle as a picture of the year. 
Hence arose among a people fond of mystery and allegory 
a mode of speaking of the year under the name of a pahn- 
branch or of a bird; and they formed a fable out of a mere 
confusion of words. The Greeks, who were not slow to 
copy Egyptian mysticism, called this fabulous bird the 
Phcenix from their own name for the palm-tree. The 
end of any long period of time they called the return 
of the phoenix to earth. The Romans borrowed the fable, 
though perhaps without understanding the allegory; and 
in the seventh year of this reign, when the emperor cele- 
brated the secular games at Rome, at the end of the 


eighth century since the city was built, it was said that 
the phoenix had come to Egypt and was thence brought 
to Rome. This was in the consulship of Plautius and 
Vitellius; and it would seem to be only from mistakes 
in the name that Pliny places the event eleven years 
earlier, in the consulship of Plautius and Papinius, and 
that Tacitus places it thirteen years earlier in the con- 
sulship of Pabius and ViteUius. This fable is connected 
with some of the remarkable epochs in Egyptian history. 
The story lost nothing by travelling to a distance. In 
Rome it was said that this wonderful bird was a native 
of Arabia, where it lived for five himdred years, that 
on its death a grub came out of its body which in due 
time became a perfect bird; and that the new phoenix 
brought to Egypt the bones of its parent in the nest of 
spices in which it had died, and laid them on the altar 
in the temple of the sun in Heliopolis. It then returned 
to Arabia to live in its turn for five hundred years, and 
die and give life again to another as before. The Chris- 
tians saw in this story a type of the resurrection; and 
Clement, Bishop of Rome, quotes it as such in his Epistle 
to the Corinthians. 

We find the name of Claudius on several of the tem- 
ples of Upper Egypt, particularly on that of ApoUinopolis 
Magna, and on the portico of the great temples of Lato- 
polis, which were being built in this reign. 

In the beginning of the reign of INero, 55 a. d., an 
Egjrptian Jew, who claimed to be listened to as a prophet, 
raised the minds of his countrymen into a ferment of 
religious zeal by preaching about the sufferings of their 


brethren in Judasa; and he was able to get together a 
body of men, called in reproach the Sicarii, or ruffians, 
whose numbers are variously stated at four thousand 
and thirtj^ thousand, whom he led out of Egypt to free 
the holy city from the bondage of the heathen. But 
Felix, the Roman governor, led against them the garrison 
of Jerusalem, and easily scattered the half -armed rabble. 
By such acts of religious zeal on the part of the Jews 
they were again brought to blows with the Greeks of 
Alexandria. The Macedonians, as the latter stUl called 
themselves, had met in public assembly to send an em- 
bassy to Rome, and some Jews who entered the meeting, 
which as citizens they had a full right to do, were seized 
and ill-treated by them as spies. They would perhaps 
have even been put to death if a large body of their coun- 
trymen had not run to their rescue. The Jews attacked 
the assembled Grreeks with stones and lighted torches, 
and would have burned the amphitheatre and all that 
were in it, if the prefect, Tiberius Alexander, had not 
sent some of the elders of their own nation to calm their 
angry feelings. But, though the mischief was stopped 
for a time, it soon broke out again; and the prefect was 
forced to call out the garrison of two Roman legions and 
five thousand Libyans before he could re-establish peace 
in the city. The Jews were always the greatest sufferers 
in these civil broils; and Josephus says that fifty thou- 
sand of his countrymen were left dead in the streets of 
Alexandria. But this number is very improbable, as 
the prefect was a friend to the Jewish nation, and as 
the Roman legions were not withdrawn to the camp tiU 


they had guarded the Jews in carrying away and burying 
the bodies of their friends. 

It was a natural policy on the part of the emperors 
to change a prefect whenever his province was disturbed 
by rebellion, as we have seen in the case of Placcus, who 
was recalled by Caligula. It was easier to send a new 
governor than to inquire into a wrong or to redress a 
grievance; and accordingly in the next year C Balbillus 
was sent from Rome as prefect of Egypt. He reached 
Alexandria on the sixth day after leaving the Straits of 
Sicily, which was spoken of as the quickest voyage 
known. The Alexandrian ships were better built and 
better manned than any others, and, as a greater number 
of vessels sailed every year between that port and Pute- 
oli on the coast of Italy than between any other two 
places, no voyage was better understood or more quickly 
performed. They were out of sight of land for five hun- 
dred miles between Syracuse and Cyrene. Hence we see 
that the quickest rate of sailing, with a fair wind, was 
at that time about one hundred and fifty miles in the 
twenty-four hours. But these ships had very little power 
of bearing up against the wind; and if it were contrary 
the voyage became tedious. If the captain on sailing 
out of the port of Alexandria foimd the wind westerly, 
and was unable to creep along the African coast to Cy- 
rene, he stood over to the coast of Asia Minor, in hopes 
of there finding a more favourable wind. If a storm 
arose, he ran into the nearest port, perhaps in Crete, 
perhaps in Malta, there to wait the return of fair weather. 
If winter then came on, he had to lie by till spring. Thus 


a vessel laden with Egyptian wheat, leaving Alexandria 
in September, after the harvest had been brought down 
to the coast, would sometimes spend five months on its 
voyage from that port to Puteoli. Such was the case 
with the ship bearing the children of Jove as its figure- 
head, which picked up the Apostle Paul and the historian 
Josephus when they had been wrecked together on the 
island of Malta; and such perhaps would have been the 


case with the ship which they before found on the coast 
of Lycia, had it been able to reach a safe harbour, and 
not been wrecked at Malta. 

The rocky island of Malta, with the largest and safest 
harbour in the Mediterranean, was a natural place for 
ships to touch at between Alexandria and Italy. Its 
population was made up of those races which had sailed 
upon its waters first from Carthage and then from Alex- 
andria; it was a mixture of Phoenicians, Egyptians, and 



Greco-Egyptians. To judge from the skulls turned, up 
in the burial-places, the Egyptians were the most numer- 
ous, and here as elsewhere the Egyptian superstitions 
conquered and put down all the other superstitions. 
While the island was under the Phoenicians, the coins 
had the head of the Sicilian goddess on one side, and 
on the other the Egyptian trinity of Isis, Osiris, and 
Nepthys. When it was under the Greek rule the head 
on the coins received an Egyptian head-dress, and became 
that of the goddess Isis, and on the other side of the 
coin was a winged fig- 
ure of Osiris. It was 
at this time governed by 
a Roman governor. The 
large temple, built with 
barbarian rudeness, and 
ornamented with the 
Phoenician palm-branch, was on somewhat of a Roman 
plan, with a circular end to every room. But it was 
dedicated to the chief god of Egypt, and is even yet 
called by its Greek name Hagia Chem, the temple of 
Chem. The little neighbouring island of Cossyra, be- 
tween Sicily and Carthage, also shows upon its coins 
clear traces of its taste for Egyptian customs. 

The first five years of this reign, the quinquennium 
Neronis, while the emperor was imder the tutorship of 
the philosopher Seneca, became ia Rome proverbial for 
good government, and on the coinage we see marks of 
Egypt being equally well treated. In the third year 
we see on a coin the queen sitting on a throne with 



the word agreement, as if to praise the young emperor's 
good feeling in following the advice of his mother Agrip- 
pina. On another the emperor is styled the young good 
genius, and he is represented by the sacred basilisk 
crowned with the double crown of Egypt. The new pre- 
fect, Balbillus, was an Asiatic Greek, and no doubt re- 
ceived his Roman names of Tiberius Claudius on being 
made a freedman of the late emperor. He governed the 
country mildly and justly; and the grateful inhabitants 
declared that under him the Nile was more than usually 
bountiful, and that its waters always rose to their just 
height. But in the latter part of the reign the Egyptians 
smarted severely under that cruel principle of a despotic 
monarchy that every prefect, every sub-prefect, and 
even every deputy tax-gatherer, might be equally des- 
potic in his own depart- 
ment. On a coin of the thir- 
teenth year of the reign of 
this ruler, we see a ship 
with the word emperor- 
coiN OF cossTBA. hettrev, being that in which 

he then sailed into Grreece, 
or in which the Alexandrians thought that he would 
visit their city. But if they had really hoped for his 
visit as a pleasure, they must have thought it a danger 
escaped when they learned his character; they must have 
been undeceived when the prefect Cscinna Tuscus was 
punished with banishment for venturing to bathe in the 
bath which was meant for the emperor's use if he had 
come on his projected visit. 


During the first century and a half of Roman sway 
in Egypt the school of Alexandria was nearly silent. We 
have a few poems by Leonides of Alexandria, one of 
which is addressed to the Empress Poppaea, as the wife 
of Jupiter, on his presenting a celestial globe to her on 
her birthday. Pamphila wrote a miscellaneous history 
of entertaining stories, and her lively, simple style makes 
us very much regret its loss. Chseremon, a Stoic philos- 
opher, had been, during the last reign, at the head of 
the Alexandrian Library, 
but he was removed to 
Rome as one of the tutors 
to the young Nero. He is 
ridiculed by Martial for 
writing in praise of death, c"nf o^ ^^^o. 

when, from age and poverty, he was less able to enjoy 
life. We still possess a most curious though short ac- 
count by him of the monastic habits of the ancient Egyp- 
tians. He also wrote on hieroglyphics, and a small 
fragment containing his opinion of the meanings of nine- 
teen characters stiU remains to us. But he is not always 
right; he thinks the characters were used allegorically 
for thoughts, not for sounds; and fancies that the priests 
used them to keep secret the real nature of the gods. 

He was succeeded at the museum by his pupil 
Dionysius, who had the charge of the library till 
the reign of Trajan. Dionysius was also employed by 
the prefect as a secretary of state, or, in the language 
of the day, secretary to the embassies, epistles, and an- 
swers. He was the author of the Periegesis, and aimed 


at the rank of a poet by writing a treatise on geography 
in heroic verse. From this work he is named Dionysius 
Periegetes. While careful to remind us that his birth- 
place Alexandria was a Macedonian city, he gives due 
honour to Egypt and the Egyptians. There is no river, 
says he, equal to the Nile for carrying fertility and add- 
ing to the happiness of the land. It divides Asia from 
Libya, falling between rocks at Syene, and then passing 
by the old and famous city of Thebes, where Memnon 
every morning salutes his beloved Aurora as she rises. 
On its banks dwells a rich and glorious race of men, who 
were the first to cultivate the arts of life; the first to 
make trial of the plough and sow their seed in a straight 
furrow; and the first to map the heavens and trace the 
sloping path of the sun. 

According to the traditions of the church, it was in 
this reign that Christianity was first brought into Egypt 
by the Evangelist Mark, the disciple of the Apostle Peter. 
Many were already craving for religious food more real 
than the old superstitions. The Egyptian had been 
shaken in his attachment to the sacred animals by Greek 
ridicule. The Greek had been weakened in his belief 
of old Homer's gods by living with men who had never 
heard of them. Both were dissatisfied with the scheme 
of explaining the actions of their gods by means of alleg- 
ory. The crumbling away of the old opinions left men 
more fitted to receive the new religion from Galilee. 
Mark's preaching converted crowds in Alexandria; but, 
after a short stay, he returned to Rome, in about the 
eleventh year of this reign, leaving Annianus to watch 


over the growing dmrch. Annianus is usually called the 
first bishop of Alexandria; and Eusebius, who lived two 
hundred years later, has given us the names of his suc- 
cessors in an unbroken chain. If we would iaquire 
whether the early converts to Christianity in Alexandria 
were Jews, Greeks, or Egyptians, we have nothing to 
guide us but the names of these bishops. Annianus, or 
Annaniah, as his name was written by the Arabic his- 
torians, was very likely a Jew; indeed, the Evangehst 
Mark would begin by addressing himself to the Jews, 
and woTild leave the care of the infant church to one of 
his own nation. In the platonic Jews, Christianity f oimd 
a soil so exactly suited to its reception that it is only by 
the dates that the Therapeutae of Alexandria and their 
historian Philo are proved not to be Christian; and, again, 
it was in the close union between the platonic Jews and 
the platonists that Christianity found its easiest path 
to the ears and hearts of the pagans. The bishops that 
followed seem to have been Greek converts. Before the 
death of Annaniah, Jerusalem had been destroyed by 
the Roman armies, and the Jews sunk in their own eyes 
and in those of their fellow-citizens throughout the em- 
pire; hence the second bishop of Alexandria was less 
likely to be of Hebrew blood; and it was long before 
any Egyptians aimed at rank in the church. But though 
the spread of Christianity was rapid, both among the 
Greeks and the Egyptians, we must not hope to find any 
early traces of it in the historians. It was at first em- 
braced by the unlearned and the poor, whose deeds and 
opinions are seldom mentioned in history; and we may 


readily believe the scomfiil reproach of the unbelievers, 
that it was chiefly received by the unfortunate, the xui- 
happy, the despised, and the sinful. When the white- 
robed priestesses of Ceres carried the sacred basket 
through the streets of Alexandria, they cried out, " Sin- 
ners away, or keep your eyes to the ground; keep your 
eyes to the ground! " When the crier, standing on the 
steps of the portico in front of the great temple, called 
upon the pagans to come near and join in the celebration 
of their mysteries, he cried out, " All ye who are clean 
of hands and pure of heart, come to the sacrifice ; all ye 
who are guiltless in thought and deed, come to the sac- 
rifice." But many a repentant sinner and humble spirit 
must have drawn back in distrust from a summons which 
to him was so forbidding, and been glad to hear the good 
tidings of mercy offered by Christianity to those who 
labour and are heavy laden, and to the broken-hearted 
who would turn away from their wickedness. While such 
were the chief followers of the gospel, it was not likely 
to be much noticed by the historians; and we must wait 
till it forced its way into the schools and the palace be- 
fore we shall find many traces of the rapidity with which 
it was spreading. 

During these reigns the Ethiopian Arabs kept up 
their irregular warfare against the southern frontier. 
The tribe most dreaded were the Blemmyes, an uncivil- 
ised people, described by the affrighted neighbours as 
having no heads, but with eyes and mouth on the breast; 
and it was under that name that the Arabs spread during 
each century farther and farther into Egypt, separating 


the province from the more cultivated tribes of Upper 
Ethiopia or Meroe. The cities along the banks of the 
Nile in Lower Ethiopia, between Nubia and Meroe, were 
ruined by being in the debatable land between the two 
nations. The early Greek travellers had counted about 
twenty cities on each side of the Nile between Syene and 
Meroe; but when, in a moment of leisure, the Roman 
government proposed to punish and stop the inroads of 
these troublesome neighbours, and sent forward a tribune 
with a guard of soldiers, he reported on his return that 
the whole country was a desert, and that there was 
scarcely a city inhabited on either side of the Nile beyond 
Nubia. But he had not marched very far. The interior 
of Africa was little known; and to seek for the foun- 
tain of the Nile was another name for an impossible 
or chimerical undertaking. 

But Egypt itself was so quiet as not to need the pres- 
ence of so large a Roman force as usual to keep it in 
obedience; and when Vespasian, who commanded Nero's 
armies in Syria, found the Jews more obstinate in their 
rebellion and less easily crushed than he expected, the 
emperor sent the young Titus to Alexandria, to lead to 
his father's assistance all the troops that could be spared. 
Titus led into Palestine through Arabia two legions, the 
Fifth and the Tenth, which were then in Egypt. 

We find a temple of this reign in the oasis of Dakleh, 
or the Western Oasis, which seems to have been a more 
flourishing spot in the time of the Romans than when 
Egypt itself was better governed. It is so far removed 
from the cities in the valley of the Nile that its position, 


and even existence, was long unknown to Europeans, 
and to such liiding-places as tMs many of the Egyptians 
fled, to be farther from the tyranny of the Roman tax- 

Hitherto the Roman empire had descended for just 
one hundred years through five emperors like a fam- 
ily inheritance; but, on the death of Nero, the Julian 
and Claudian families were at an end, and Galba, who 
was raised to the purple by the choice of the soldiers, 
endeavoured to persuade the Romans and their depend- 
ent provinces that they had regained their liberties. 
The Egyptians may have been puzzled by the word free- 
dom, then struck upon the coins by their foreign masters, 
but must have been pleased to find it accompanied with 
a redress of grievances. 

Galba began his reign with the praiseworthy en- 
deavour of repairing the injustice done by his cruel pre- 
decessor. He at once recalled the prefect of Egypt, and 
appointed in his place Tiberius Julius Alexander, an 
Alexandrian, a son of the former prefect of that name; 
and thus Egypt was under the government of a na- 
tive prefect. The peaceable situation of the Great 
Oasis has saved a long Greek inscription of the decree 
which was now issued in redress of the grievances suf- 
fered under Nero. It is a proclamation by Julius 
Demetrius, the commander of the Oasis, quoting the 
decree of Tiberius Julius Alexander, the new prefect of 

The prefect acknowledges that the loud complaints 
with which he was met on entering upon his government 


were well founded, and he promises that the unjust taxes 
shall cease; that nobody shall be forced to act as a pro- 
vincial tax-gatherer; that no debts shall be cancelled 
or sales made void under the plea of money owing to 
the revenue; that no freeman shall be thrown into 
prison for debt, unless it be a debt due to the royal 
revenue, and that no private debt shall be made over 
to the tax-gatherer, to be by bim collected as a public 
debt; that no property settled on the wife at marriage 
shall be seized for taxes due from the husband; and that 
all new charges and claims which had grown up within 
the last five years shall be repealed. In order to dis- 
courage informers, whom the prefects had much em- 
ployed, and by whom the families in Alexandria were 
much harassed, and to whom he laid the great falling 
off in the population of that city, he orders, that if any- 
body should make three charges and fail in proving them, 
he shall forfeit half his property and lose the right of 
bringing an action at law. The land had always paid 
a tax in proportion to the number of acres overflowed 
and manured by the waters of the Mle ; and the husband- 
men had latterly been frightened by the double threat 
of a new measurement of the land, and of making it at 
the same time pay according to the ancient registers 
of the overflow when the canals had been more open and 
more acres flooded; but the prefect promises that there 
shall be no new measurements, and that they shall only be 
taxed according to the actual overflow. In 69 a. d. Galba 
was murdered, after a reign of seven months. Some of his 
coins, however, are dated in the second year of his reign, 



according to the Alexandrian custom of counting the 
years. They called the 29th of August, the first new 
year's day after the sovereign came to the throne, the 
first day of his second year. 

Otho was then acknowledged as emperor by Rome 
and the East, while the hardy legions of Germany 

thought themselves entitled 
to choose for themselves. 
They set up their own 
general, Vitellius. The two 
legions in Egypt sided with 
the four legions in Syria 
under Mucianus, and the three legions which, under Ves- 
pasian, were carrying on the memorable war against the 
Jews; and all took the oaths to Otho. We find no hiero- 
glyphical inscriptions during this short reign of a few 
weeks, but there are many Alexandrian coins to prove 
the truth of the historian; and some of them, like those 
of Galba, bear the unlooked-for word freedom. In the 
few weeks which then passed between the news of Otho's 
death and of Vespasian being raised to the purple in 
Syria, Vitellius was acknowledged in Egypt; and the 
Alexandrian mint struck a few coins in his name with the 
figure of Victory. But as soon as the legions of Egypt 
heard that the Sj^rian army had made choice of another 
emperor, they withdrew their allegiance from Vitellius, 
and promised it to his Syrian rival. 

Vespasian was at Csesarea, in command of the army 
employed in the Jewish war, when the news reached him 
that Otho was dead, and that Vitellius had been raised 


to the purple by the GTerman legions, and acknowledged 
at Eome; and, without wasting more time in refusing 
the honour than was necessary to prove that his soldiers 
were in earnest in offering it, he allowed himself to be 
proclaimed emperor, as the successor of Otho. He woiild 
not, however, then risk a march upon Rome, but he sent 
to Alexandria to tell Tiberius Alexander, the governor 
of Egypt, what he had done; he ordered him to claim 
in his name the allegiance of that great province, and 
added that he should soon be there himself. The two 
Roman legions in Egypt much preferred the choice of the 
Eastern to that of the Western army, and the Alexan- 
drians, who had only just acknowledged Vitellius, readily 
took the oath to be faithful to Vespasian. This made it 
less necessary for him to hasten thither, and he only 
reached Alexandria in time to hear that Vitellius had 
been murdered after a reign of eight months, and that he 
himself had been acknowledged as emperor by Rome and 
the Western legions. His Egyptian coins in the first 
year of his reign, by the word peace, point to the end 
of the civil war. 

When Vespasian entered Alexandria, he was met by 
the philosophers and magistrates in great pomp. The 
philosophers, indeed, in a city where, beside the officers 
of government, talent formed the only aristocracy, were 
a very important body; and Dion, Euphrates, and Apollo- 
nius had been useful in securing for Vespasian the alle- 
giance of the Alexandrians. Dion was an orator, who 
had been professor of rhetoric, but he had given up that 
study for philosophy. His orations, or declamations^ 


gained for him the name of Chrysostom, or golden- 
mouthed. Euphrates, his friend, was a platonist, who 
afterwards married the daughter of the prefect of Syria, 
and removed to Rome. Apollonius of Tyana, the most 
celebrated of these philosophers, was one of the first 
who gained his eminence from the study of Eastern phi- 
losophy, which was then rising in the opinions of the 
Greeks as highly worth their notice. He had been trav- 
elling in the East; and, boasting that he was already 
master of all the fabled wisdom of the Magi of Babylon 
and of the Gymnosophists of India, he was come to Egypt 
to compare this mystic philosophy with that of the her- 
mits of Ethiopia and the Thebaid. Addressing himself 
as a pupil to the priests, he willingly yielded his belief 
to their mystic claims ; and, whether from being deceived 
or as a deceiver, whether as an enthusiast or as a cheat, 
he pretended to have learned all the supernatural knowl- 
edge which they pretended to teach. By the Egyptians 
he was looked upon as the favourite of Heaven; he 
claimed the power of working miracles by his magical 
arts, and of foretelling events by his knowledge of astrol- 
ogy. In the Thebaid he was so far honoured that at the 
bidding of the priests one of the sacred trees spoke to 
him, as had been their custom from of old with favourites, 
and in a clear and rather womanly voice addressed him 
as a teacher from heaven. 

It was to witness such practices as these, and to learn 
the art of deceiving their followers, that the Egyptian 
priests were now consulted by the Greeks. The oracle 
at Delphi was silent, but the oracle of Ammon continued 


to return an answer. The mystic philosophy of the East 
had come into fashion in Alexandria, and the priests were 
more celebrated as magicians than as philosophers. They 
would tell a man's fortune and the year that he was to die 
by examining the lines of his forehead. Some of them 
even undertook, for a siun of money, to raise the dead 
to life, or, rather, to recall for a time to earth the im- 
willing spirits, and make them answer any questions that 
might be put to them. Ventriloquism was an art often 
practised in Egypt, and perhaps invented there. By this 
the priests gained a power over the minds of the listeners, 
and could make them believe that a tree, a statue, or a 
dead body, was speaking to them. 

The Alexandrian men of letters seldom erred by wrap- 
ping themselves up in pride to avoid the fault of mean- 
ness; they usually cringed to the great. ApoUonius was 
wholly at the serAdce of Vespasian, and the emperor 
repaid the philosopher by flattery as well as by more 
solid favours. He kept him always by his side during 
his stay in Egypt; he acknowledged his rank as a prophet, 
and tried to make further use of him in persuading the 
Egyptians of his own divine right to the throne. Ves- 
pasian begged him to make use of his prayers that he 
might obtain from God the empire which he had as yet 
hardly grasped; but ApoUonius, claiming even a higher 
mission from Heaven than Vespasian was granting to 
him, answered, with as much arrogance as flattery, ** I 
have myself already made you emperor." With the in- 
timacy between Vespasian and ApoUonius begins the 
use of gnostic emblems on the Alexandrian coins. The 


imperial pupil was not slow in learning from such a 
master; and the people were as ready to believe in the 
emperor's miracles as in the philosopher's. As Vespa- 
sian was walking through the streets of Alexandria, a 
man well known as having a disease in his eyes threw 
himself at his feet and begged of him to heal his blind- 
ness. He had been told by the god Serapis that he should 
regain his sight if the emperor would but deign to spit 
upon his eyelids. Another man, who had lost the use 
of a hand, had been told by the same god that he should 
be healed if the emperor would but trample on him with 
his feet. Vespasian at first laughed at them and thrust 
them off; but at last he so far yielded to their prayers, 
and to the flattery of his friends, as to have the physicians 
of Alexandria consulted whether it was in his power to 
heal these unfortunate men. The physicians, like good 
courtiers, were not so unwise as to think it impossible; 
besides, it seemed meant by the god as a public proof 
of Vespasian's right to the throne; if he were successful 
the glory would be his, and if he failed the laugh would 
be against the cripples. The two men were therefore 
brought before him, and in the face of the assembled 
citizens he trampled on one and spit on the other; and 
his flatterers declared that he had healed the maimed and 
given sight to the blind. 

Vespasian met with further wonders when he entered 
the temple of Serapis to consult the god as to the state 
and fortunes of the empire. He went into the inner sanc- 
tuary alone, and, to his surprise, there he beheld the old 
Basilides, the freedman of Claudius, one of the chief men 


of Alexandria, whom he knew was then lying danger- 
ously ill, and several days' journey from the city. He 
inquired of the priests whether BasiUdes had been in the 
temple, and was assured that he had not. He then asked 
whether he had been in Alexandria; but nobody had seen 
him therfe. Lastly, on sending messengers, he learned 
that he was on his death-bed eighty nules off. With this 
miracle before his eyes, he could not distrust the answers 
which the priests gave to his questions. 

From Alexandria Vespasian sent back Titus to finish 
the siege of Jerusalem. The Jewish writer Joseph, the 
son of Matthias, or Flavins Josephus, as he called himself 
when he entered the service of the emperor, was then in 
Alexandria. He had been taken prisoner by Vespasian, 
but had gained his freedom by the betrayal of his coun- 
try's cause. He joined the army of Titus and marched 
to the overthrow of Jerusalem. Notwithstanding the 
obstinate and heroic struggles of the Jews, Judaea was 
wholly conquered by the Romans, and Jerusalem and its 
other fortresses either received Roman garrisons or were 
dismantled. The Temple was overthrown in the month 
of September, a. d. 70. Titus made slaves of ninety-seven 
thousand men, many of whom he led with him into Egypt, 
and then sent them to work in the mines. These were 
soon followed by a crowd of other brave Jews, who chose 
rather to quit their homes and live as wanderers in Egypt 
than to own Vespasian as their king. They knew no lord 
but Jahveh; to take the oaths or to pay tribute to Caesar 
was to renounce the faith of their fathers. But they 
found no safety in Egypt. Their Greek brethren turned 


against them, and handed six hundred of them up to 
Lupus, the governor of Egypt, to be punished; and their 
countryman Josephus brands them all with the name of 
Sicarii. They tried to hide themselves in Thebes and 
other cities less under the eyes of the Roman governor. 
They were, however, followed and taken, and the courage 
with which the boys and mere children bore their suffer- 
ings, sooner than acknowledge Vespasian for their king, 
drew forth the praise of even the time-serving Josephus. 

The Greek Jews of Egypt gained nothing by this 
treachery towards their Hebrew brethren; they were 
themselves looked down upon by the Alexandrians, and 
distrusted by the Romans. The emperor ordered Lupus 
to shut up the temple at Onion, near HeliopoUs, in which, 
during the last three hundred years, they had been 
allowed to have an altar, in rivalry to the Temple of 
Jerusalem. Even Josephus, whose betrayal of his coun- 
trymen might have saved him from their enemies, was 
sent with many others in chains to Rome, and was only 
set free on his making himself known to Titus. Indeed, 
when the Hebrew Jews lost their capital and their rank 
as a nation, their brethren felt lowered in the eyes of 
their fellow-citizens, in whatever city they dwelt, and in 
Alexandria they lost all hope of keeping their privileges; 
although the emperor refused to repeal the edict which 
granted them their citizenship, an edict to which they 
always appealed for protection, but often with very little 

The Alexandrians were sadly disappointed in Vespa- 
sian. They had been among the first to acknowledge 


hitn as emperor while his power was yet doubtful, and 
they looked for a sum of money as a largess; but to 
their sorrow he increased the taxes, and re-established 
some which had fallen into disuse. They had a joke 
against him, about his claiming from one of his friends 
the trifling debt of six oboli; and, upon hearing of their 
witticisms, he was so angry that he ordered this sum of 
six oboU to be levied as a poll-tax upon every man in 
the city, and he only remitted the tax at the request of 
his son Titus. He went to Rome, carrying with him the 
nickname of Cybiosactes, the scullion, which the Alexan- 
drians gave him for his stinginess and greediness, and 
which they had before given to Seleucus, who robbed 
the tomb of Alexander the Great, at Alexandria, of its 
famous golden sarcophagus. 

Titus saw the importance of pleasing the people; and 
his wish to humour their ancient prejudices, at the cere- 
mony of consecrating a new bull as Apis, brought some 
blame upon him. He there, as became the occasion, wore 
the state crown, and dazzled the people of Memphis 
with his regal pomp; but, while thus endeavouring to 
strengthen his father's throne, he was by some accused 
of grasping at it for himself. 

The great temple of Kneph, at Latopolis, which had 
been the work of many reigns and perhaps many cen- 
turies, was finished under Vespasian. It is a building 
worthy of the best times of Egyptian architecture. It 
has a grand portico, upheld by four rows of massive col- 
umns, with capitals in the form of papyrus flowers. On 
the ceiling is a zodiac, like that at Tentyra; and, though 


many other kings' names are carved on the walls, that 
of Vespasian is in the dedication over the entrance. 

Of the reign of Titus in Egypt we find no trace be- 
yond his coins struck each year at Alexandria, and his 
name carved on one or two temples which had been built 
in former reigns. 

Of the reign of Domitian (81—96 a. d.) we learn some- 
thing from the poet Juvenal, who then held a military 
post in the province; and he gives us a sad account of 
the state of lawlessness in which the troops lived under 
his commands. All quarrels between soldiers and 
citizens were tried by the officers according to martial 
law; and justice was very far from being even-handed 
between the Roman and the poor Egyptian. No witness 
was bold enough to come forward and say anything 
against a soldier, while everybody was believed who 
spoke on his behalf. Juvenal was at a great age when he 
was sent into Egypt; and he felt that the command of 
a cohort on the very borders of the desert was a cruel 
banishment from the literary society of Rome. His death 
in the camp was hastened by his wish to return home. 
As what Juvenal chiefly aimed at in Ms writings was 
to lash the follies of the age, he, of course, found plenty 
of amusement in the superstitions and sacred animals of 
Egypt. But he sometimes takes a poet's liberty, and 
when he tells us that man's was almost the only flesh that 
they ate without sinning, we need not believe him to the 
letter. He gives a lively picture of a fight which he saw 
between the citizens of two towns. The towns of Ombos 
and Tentyra, though about a hundred miles aipart, had 


a longrstanding quarrel about their gods. At Ombos they 
■worshipped the crocodile and the crocodile-headed god 
Savak, while at Tentyra they worshipped the goddess 
Hathor, and were celebrated for their skill in catching 
and killing crocodiles. So, taking advantage of a feast or 
holiday, they marched out for a fight. The men of 
Ombos were beaten and put to flight; but one of them, 
stumbling as he ran away, was caught and torn to pieces, 
and, as Juvenal adds, eaten by the men of Tentyra. Their 
worship of beasts, birds, and fishes, and even growing 
their gods in the garden, are pleasantly hit off by him; 
they left nothing, said he, without worship, but the god- 
dess of chastity. The mother goddess, Isis, the queen 
of heaven, was the deity to whom they bowed with the 
most tender devotion, and to swear by Isis was their 
favourite oath; and hence the leek, in their own language 
named Isi, was no doubt the vegetable called a god by 
the satiric Juvenal. 

At the same time also the towns of Oxyrrhynchos and 
Oynopolis, in the Heptanomos, had a little civil war about 
the animals which they worshipped. Somebody at Cyn- 
opolis was said to have caught an oxyrrhynchus fish in 
the Nile and eaten it; and so the people of Oxyrrhynchos, 
in revenge, made an attack upon the dogs, the gods of 
Cjmopolis. They caught a number of them, killed them 
in sacrifice to their offended fish-god, and ate them. The 
two parties then flew to arms and fought several battles; 
they sacked one another's cities in turns, and the war was 
not stopped till the Roman troops marched to the spot 
and punished them both. 


But we gain a more agreeable and most likely a mor( 
true notion of the mystical religion and philosophy o: 
the Egyptians in these days from the serious enquiriei 
of Plutarch, who, instead of looking for what he couh 
laugh at, was only too ready to believe that he saw wis 
dom hidden under an allegory in aU their superstitions 
Many of the habits of the priests, such as shaving th( 
whole body, wearing linen instead of cotton, and refusing 
some meats as impure, seem to have arisen from a lov< 
of cleanliness; their religion ordered what was useful 
And it also forbade what was hurtful; so to stir th( 
fire with a sword was displeasing to the gods, becaus( 
it spoilt the temper of the metal. None but the vulga] 
now looked upon the animals and statues as gods; th( 
priests believed that the unseen gods, who acted with on( 
mind and with one providence, were the authors of al 
good; and though these, like the sun and moon, wer( 
called in each coimtry by a different name, yet, like thos( 
luminaries, they were the same over all the world. Out 
ward ceremonies in religion were no longer though' 
enough without a good life; and, as the Greeks said, tha' 
beard and cloak did not make a philosopher, so the Egyp 
tians said that white linen and a tonsure would no' 
make a follower of Isis. All the sacrifices to the gods hat 
a secondary meaning, or, at least, they tried to join j 
moral aim to the outward act; as on the twentieth daj 
of the month, when they ate honey and figs in honour o: 
Thot, they sang " Sweet is truth." The Egyptians, lik( 
most other Eastern polytheists, held the doctrine whicl 
was afterwards called Manicheism; they believed in i 



good and in a wicked god, who governed the world be- 
tween them. Of these the former made himself three- 
fold, because three is a perfect number, and they adopted 
into their religion that curious metaphysical opinion that 
everything divine is formed of three parts; and accord- 
ingly, on the Theban monmnents we often see the gods 
in groups of three. They worshipped Osiris, Isis, and 
Horus under the form of a right-angled triangle, in which 
Horus was the side opposite to the right angle. The 
favourite part of their mythology was the lamentation 
of Isis for the death of her husband Osiris. By another 
change the god Horus, who used to be a crowned king 
of manly stature, was now a child holding a finger to his 
mouth, and thereby marking that he had not yet learned 
to talk. The Romans, who did not understand this Egyp- 
tian symbol for youthfulness, thought that in this char- 
acter he was commanding silence; and they gave the 
name of Harpocrates, Horus the potverful, to a god of 
silence. Horus was also often placed as a child in the 
arms of his mother Isis; and thus by the loving nature 
of the group were awakened the more tender feelings of 
the worshipper. The Egyptians, Like the Greeks, had 
always been loud in declaring that they were beloved 
by their gods; but they received their favours with little 
gratitude, and hardly professed that they felt any love 
towards the gods in return. But after the time of the 
Christian era, we meet with more kindly feelings even 
among the pagans. We find from the Greek names of 
persons that they at least had begun to think their gods 
deserving of love, and in this group of the mother and 


child, such a favourite also in Christian art, we see in 
what direction these more kindly feelings found an en- 
trance into the Egyptian religion. As fast as opinion 
was raising the great god Serapis above his fellows and 
making the wrathful judge into the ruler of the world, 
so fast was the same opinion creating for itself a harbour 
of refuge in the child Horus and its mother. 

The deep earnestness of the Egyptians in the belief 
of their own religion was the chief cause 
of its being adopted by others. The 
Grreeks had borrowed much from it. 
Though in Eome it had been forbidden 
by law, it was much cultivated there in 
private; and the engraved rings on the 
fingers of the wealthy Romans which bore 
the figures of Harpocrates and other 
Egyptian gods easily escaped the notice of the magistrate. 
But the superstitious Domitian, who was in the habit of 
consulting astrologers and Chaldaean fortune-tellers, al- 
lowed the Egyptian worship. He built at Rome a temple 
to Isis, and another to Serapis ; and such was the eager- 
ness of the citizens for pictures of the mother goddess 
with her child in her arms that, according to Juvenal, 
the Roman painters all lived upon the goddess Isis, For 
her temple in the Campus Martins, holy water was even 
brought from the Nile to purify the building and the 
votaries ; and a regular college of priests was maintained 
there by their zeal and at their cost, with a splendour 
worthy of the Roman capital. Domitian, also, was some- 
what of a scholar, and he sent to Alexandria for copies 




of their books, to restore the public library at Rome 
which had been lately burnt; while his garden on the 
banks of the Tiber was richer in the Egyptian winter rose 
than even the gardens of Memphis and Alexandria. 

During this century the coinage continues one of the 
subjects of chief interest to the antiquary. In 92 a. d., 
in the eleventh year of his reign, when Domitian took 
upon himself the tribunitian power at Rome for a second 
period of ten years, the event was celebrated in Alex- 
andria with a triumphal procession and games in the 
hippodrome, of all which we see clear traces on the 
Egyptian coins. 


The coinage is almost the only trace of Nerva (96—98 
A. D.) having reigned in Egypt; but it is at the same 
time enough to prove the mildness of his government. 
The Jews who by their owil law were of old required 
to pay half a shekel, or a didrachm, to the service of 
their temple, had on their conquest been made to pay 
that sum as a yearly tribute to the Ptolemies, and after- 
wards to the emperors. It was a poll-tax levied on every 
Jew throughout the empire. But Nerva had the human- 
ity to relieve them from this insulting tribute, and well 
did he deserve the honour of having it recorded on the 
coins struck in his reign. 



The coinage of the eleventh year of his successor, 
Trajan (98—117 a. d,), is very remarkable for its beauty, 

its technical skill, and variety, even 
more so than that of the eleventh 
year of Domitian, The coins have 
hitherto proclaimed, in a manner un- 
mistakably plain to those who study 
numismatics, the games and con- 
quests of the emperors, the bountiful 
overflow of the Nile, and sometimes 
the worship of Serapis; but we now enter upon the 
most briUiant and most important period of the Egyptian 
coinage, and find a rich variety of fables taken both from 
Egyptian and Greek mythology. The coins of Rome in 
this and the following reigns show the wealth, good taste, 
and learning of the nation, but they are surpassed by 
the coins of Egypt. While history is nearly silent, and 
the buildings and other proofs of Roman good govern- 
ment have perished, the coins alone are quite enough 
to prove the well-being of the people. Among the Egyp- 
tian coins those of Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines 
equal in number those of all the other emperors together, 
while in beauty they far surpass them. They are mostly 
of copper, of a small size, and thick, weighing about one 
hundred and ten grains, and some larger of two hundred 
and twenty grains; the silver coins are less common, 
and of mixed metal. 

Though the Romans, while admiring and copying 
everything that was Greek, affected to look upon the 
Egyptians as savages, who were only known to be human 




beings by their power of speech, stUl the Egyptian phy- 
sicians were held by them in the highest repute. The 
more wealthy Romans often sailed to 
Alexandria for the benefit of their ad- 
vice. Pliny the Elder, however, thought 
that of the invalids who went to Egypt 
for their health more were cured by the 
sea voyage than by the physicians on 
their arrival. One of Cicero's physi- 
cians was an Egyptian. Pliny the 
Yoimger repaid his Egyptian ocuhst, 
Harpocrates, by getting a rescript from the emperor to 
make him a Roman citizen. But the statesman did not 
know under what harsh laws his friend was born, for the 
grant was void in the case of an Egyptian, the emperor's 
rescript was bad as being against the law; and Pliny 
had again to beg the greater favour that the Egyptian 
might first be made a citizen of Alexandria, without 
which the former favour was useless. Thus, even in 
Alexandria, a conquered province governed by the des- 
potic will of a military emperor, there were still some 
laws or principles which the emperor found it not easy 
to break. The courts of justice, those to whom the edicts 
were addressed and by whom they were to be explained 
and carried into effect, claimed a power in some cases 
above the emperor; and the first article in the Roman 
code was that an imperial rescript, by whomsoever or 
howsoever obtained, was void if it was against the law. 
As the lawyers and magistrates formed part of the body 
of citizens, the Alexandrians had so far a share in the 



government of their own affairs ; but this was an advan- 
tage that the Egyptians lost by being under the power 
of the Greek magistrates. 

Trajan always kept in the public granaries of Rome 
a supply of Egyptian grain equal to seven times the 
canon, or yearly gift to the poor citizens; and in this 
prudent course he was followed by all his successors. 


until the store was squandered by the worthless Ela- 
gabalus. One year, when the Mle did not rise to its.usual 
height, and much, of the grain land of the Delta, instead 
of being moistened by its waters and enriched by its mud, 
was left a dry, sandy plain, the granaries of Rome were 
unlocked to feed the city of Alexandria. .The Alexan- 
drians then, saw the unusual sight of ships unloading 
their cargoes of wheat in their harbour, and the Romans 
boasted that they took the Egyptian tribute in grain, 


not because they could not feed themselves, but because 
the Egyptians had nothing else to send them. 

Alexandria under the Romans was still the centre 
of the trading world, not only having its own great trade 
in grain, but being the port through which the trade of 
India and Arabia passed to Europe, and at which the 
Syrian vessels touched in their way to Italy. The har- 
bour was crowded with masts and strange prows and 
imcouth sails, and the quays always busy with loading 
and unloading; while in the streets might be seen men 
of all languages and all dresses, copper-coloured Egyp- 
tians, swarthy Jews, lively, bustling Greeks, and haughty 
Italians, with Asiatics from the neighbouring coasts of 
Syria and Cilicia, and even dark Ethiopians, painted 
Arabs, Bactrians, Scythians, Persians, and Indians, all 
gay with their national costumes. Alexandria was a spot 
in which Europe met Asia, and each wondered at the 
strangeness of the other. 

Of the Alexandrians themselves we receive a very 
unfavourable account from their countryman, Dion 
Chrysostom. "With their wealth, they had those vices 
which usually foUow or cause the loss of national inde- 
pendence. They were eager for nothing but food and 
horse-races. They were grave and quiet in their sacri- 
fices and listless in business, but in the theatre or in the 
stadium men, women, and children were alike heated into 
passion, and overcome with eagerness and warmth of feel- 
ing. A" scurrilous song or a horse-race would so rouse 
them into a quarrel that they could not hear for their 
own noise, nor see for the dust raised by their own bustle 



in the hippodrome; while all those acts, of their rulers, 
which in a more wholesome state of society would have 
called for notice, passed by unheeded. They cared more 
for the tumble of a favourite charioteer than for the 
sinking state of the nation. The ready employment of 


ridicule in the place of argument, of wit instead of graver 
reason, of nicknames as their most powerful weapon, was 
one of the worst points in the Alexandrian character. 
Frankness and manliness are hardly to be looked for 
under a despotic government where men are forbidden 
to speak their minds openly; and the Alexandrians made 


use of such checks upon their rulers as the law allowed 
them. They hved under an absolute monarchy tempered 
only by ridicule. Though their city was four hundred 
years old, they were stiU colonists and without a mother- 
coimtry. They had very little faith in anything great 
or good, whether human or divine. They had few cher- 
ished prejudices, no honoured traditions, sadly little love 
of fame, and they wrote no histories. But in luxury and 
delicacy they set the fashion to their conquerors. The 
wealthy Alexandrian walked about Rome in a scarlet 
robe, in summer fanning himself with gold, and display- 
ing on his fingers rings carefully suited to the season; 
as his hands were too delicate to carry his heavier jewels 
in the warm weather. At the supper tables of the rich, 
the Alexandrian singing boys were much valued; the 
smart young Roman walked along the Via Sacra hum- 
ming an Alexandrian tune; the favourite comic actor, 
the delight of the city, whose jokes set the theatre in a 
roar, was an Alexandrian; the Retiarius, who, with no 
weapon but a net, fought against an armed gladiator 
in the Roman forum, and came off conqueror in twenty- 
six such battles, was an Alexandrian; and no breed of 
fighting-cocks was thought equal to those reared in the 
suburbs of Alexandria. 

In the reign of Augustus the Roman generals had 
been defeated in their attacks on Arabia; but under 
Trajan, when the Romans were masters of all the coim- 
tries which surround Arabia Nabatsea, and when Egypt 
was so far quiet that the legions could be withdrawn 
without danger to the provinces, the Arabs could hold 


out no longer, and the rocky fastness of Petra was forced 
to receive a Roman garrison. The event was as usual 
conunemorated on the coins of Rome; and for the next 
four hundred years that remarkable Arab city formed 
part of the Roman empire; and Europeans now travel- 
ling through the desert from Mount Sinai to Jerusalem 
are agreeably surprised at coming upon temples, carved 
out of the solid rock, ornamented with Corinthian col- 
umns of the age of the Antonines. 

In the twelfth year of this reign, when Lucius Sul- 
picius Simius was prefect, some additions which had 
been made to the temple at Panopolis in the Thebaid 
were dedicated in the name of the emperor; and in the 
nineteenth year, when Marcus Rutilius Lupus was pre- 
fect, a new portico in the oasis of Thebes was in the 
same manner dedicated to Serapis and Isis. A small 
temple, which had been before built at Denderah, near 
the great temple of Yenus, was in the first year of this 
reign dedicated to the Empress Piotina, under the name 
of the great goddess, the Younger Yenus. 

The canal from the Nile near Bubastis to the Bitter 
Lakes, which had been first made by Necho, had been 
either finished or a second time made by Philadelphus; 
and in this reign that great undertaking was again re- 
newed. But the stream of the Nile was deserting the 
Bubastite branch, which was less navigable than for- 
merly; and the engineers now changed the greater part 
of the canal's bed. They thought it wiser to bring water 
from a higher part of the Mle, so that the current in 
the canal might run into the Red Sea instead of out, 



and its waters might still be fresh and useful to agricul- 
ture. It now began at Babylon opposite Memphis and 
entered the Red Sea at a town which, taking its name 
from -the locks, was called Clysmon, about ten miles to 
the south of Arsinoe. 
This latter town was no 
longer a port, having 
been separated from the 
sea by the continual ad- 
vance of the sands. We 
have no knowledge of 
how long the care of the 
imperial prefects kept 
this new canal open and 
in use. It was perhaps 
one of the first of the 
Uoman works that went 
io decay; and, when we 
find the Christian pilgrims sailing along it seven cen- 
turies later, on their way from England to the holy 
sepulchre, it had been again opened by the Muhammedan 
■conquerors of Egypt. 

Writings which some now regard as literary forgeries 
appeared in Alexandria about this time. They prophe- 
sied the re-establishment of the Jews at Jerusalem, and, 
as the wished-for time drew near, all the eastern prov- 
inces of the Roman empire were disturbed by rebellious 
risings of the Jews. Moved by the religious enthusiasm 
which gave birth to the writings, the Jews of Egypt in 
ihe eighteenth year of this reign (116 a. d.) were again 



roused into a quarrel witli their Greek fellow-citizens; 
and in tlie next year, the last of the reign, they rose 
against their Roman governors in open rebellion, and 
they were not put down till the prefect Lupus had 
brought his forces against them. After this the Jews 
of Cyrene marched through the desert into Egypt, under 
the command of Lucuas, to help their brethren; and the 
rebellion took the regular form of a civil war, with all 
its usual horrors. The emperor sent against the Jews 
an army followed by a fleet, which, after numerous skir- 
mishes and battles, routed them with great slaughter, 
and drove numbers of them back into the desert, whence 
they harassed the village as robbers. By these un- 
successful appeals to force, the Jews lost all right to 
those privileges of citizenship which they always claimed, 
and which had been granted by the emperors, though 
usually refused by the Alexandrians. The despair and 
disappointment of the Jews seem in many cases to have 
turned their minds to the Christian view of the Old 
Testament prophecies; henceforth, says Eusebius, the 
Jews embraced the Christian religion more readily and 
in greater numbers. 

In A. D. 122, the sixth year of the reign of Hadrian, 
Egypt was honoured by a visit from the emperor. He 
was led to Egypt at that time by some riots of a character 
more serious than usual, which had arisen between two 
cities, probably Memphis and Heliopolis, about a buU, as 
to whether it was to be Apis or Mnevis. Egypt had been 
for some years without a sacred bull; and when at length 
the priests found one, marked with the mystic spots, the 


iiihabitants of those two cities flew to arms, and the peace 
of the province was disturbed by their religious zeal, each 
claiming the bull as their own. 

Hadrian also undertook a voyage up the Nile from 
Alexandria in order to explore the wonders of Egypt. 
This was the fashion then, for the ancient monuments 
and the banks of this mysterious river offered just as 
many attractions at that time as they have done to all 
nations since the expedition of Napoleon. That animal- 
worship, which had remained unchanged for centuries, 
a riddle of human religion, was bound to excite the curi- 
osity of strangers. In this divinisation of animals lay 
the greatest contempt for human understanding, and it 
was a bitter satire on the apotheosis of kings and em- 
perors. For what was the divinity of Sesostris, of Alex- 
ander, of Augustus, or Hadrian compared with the 
heavenly majesty of the ox Apis, or the holy cats, dogs, 
kites, crocodiles, and god-apes ? Egypt was at this epoch 
already a museiun of the Pharaoh-time and its enbal- 
samed culture. Strange buildings, rare sculptures, hier- 
oglyphics, and pictures still filled the ancient towns, even 
though these had lost their splendour. Memphis and 
Heliopolis, Bubastis, Abydos, Sais, Tanis, and the hun- 
dred-gated Thebes had long fallen into ruin, although still 

The emperor's escort must have been an extraordi- 
nary sight as it steered up the stream on a fleet of daha- 
biehs. The emperor was accompanied by students of the 
museum, interpreters, priests, and astrologers. Amongst 
his followers were Verus and the beautiful Antinous. 


The Empress Sabina also accompanied Mm; she had the 
poetess Julia Balbilla amongst her court, ladies. They 
landed wherever there was anything of interest to be 
seen, and there was more in those days than there is now. 
They admired the great pyramids, the colossal sphinx, 
and the sacred town of Memphis. This city, the ancient 
royal seat of the Pharaohs, and even in Strabo's time the 
secondiown in Egypt, was not yet buried under the sand 
of the desert; its disappearance had, however, already 
begun. Under the Ptolemies it had given much of the 
material of her temples and palaces for the building of 
Alexandria. The great palace of the Pharaohs had long 
been destroyed, but there stiU remained many notable 
monuments, such as the temple of Phtah, the pyramids, 
the necropolis, and the Serapeum, and they retained their 
ancient cult. The town was stiU the chief seat of the 
Egyptian hierarchy and the residence of Apis; for this 
very reason the Roman government had destined it to 
be one of her strong military stations, for here a legion 
was quartered. The emperor could walk through the 
time-worn avenues of sphinxes which led to the wonder- 
ful vaults where the long succession of divine animals 
was buried, each like a Pharaoh, in a magnificent granite 
sarcophagus. Hadrian could admire the beautifully 
sculptured tomb of Di, an Egyptian officer of the fifth 
dynasty, with less trouble than we must experience now; 
for now the palaces, the pictures of the gods, and almost 
all the pyramids are swallowed up in sand. Miserable 
Arab villages, such as Saqqara, have fixed themselves 
in the ruins of Memphis, and from a thick palm grove 


one can look with astonislunent upon the torso gf the 
powerful Ramses II. lying solitary there, the last witness 
to the glory of the temple of Phtah, before which this 
colossus once had its stand. In the neighbourhood of 
Memphis lay Hehopolis, the town of the sun-god, with 
its ancient temple, and a school of Egyptian wisdom, 
in which Plato is supposed to have studied. 

In Heliopolis the worship of the god Ra was pre- 
served, the centre of which was the holy animal Mnevis, 
a rival or comrade of Apis. Cambyses had partly des- 
troyed the temple and even the obelisks which the 
Pharaohs had in the course of centuries erected to the 
sim-god; nowhere in Egypt existed so many of these 
monuments as here and in Thebes. Hadrian saw many 
of them lying half -burnt on the ground just as Strabo 
had done. On the site of Heliopolis, now green with 
wheat-fields, only a single obelisk has remained upright, 
which is considered as the oldest of all, and was erected 
in the twelfth dynasty by Usirtasen I. 

The royal assemblage had arrived in the course of 
their journey at Besa, a place on the right bank of the 
river, opposite Hermopolis, when a strange event oc- 
curred. This was the death of Hadrian's favourite, 
Antinous, a young Greek from Claudiopohs, who had 
been degraded to the position of Ganymede to the em- 
peror on account of his beauty. It is not known where 
the emperor first came across the youth; possibly in 
his native land, Bithynia. Not till he came to Egypt 
did he become his inseparable companion, and this must 
have been a deep offence to his wife. The unfortunate 


queen was delivered in Besa from his hated presence, for 
Antinous was drowned there in the Nile. 

His death was surrounded by mystery. "Was it acci- 
dent? Was he a victim? Hadrian's humanity protects 
him from the suspicion that he sacrificed his victim in 
cold blood, as Tiberius had once sacrificed the beautiful 
Hypatus in Capri. Had the fantastic youth sacrificed 
himself of his own free will to the death divinities in 
order to save the emperor's life? Had the Egyptian 
priests foreseen in the stars some danger threatening 
Hadrian, only to be averted by the death of his favourite? 
Such an idea commended itself to the superstition of 
the time, especially in this land and by the mysterious 
Nile. It corresponded, too, with the emperor's astrolog- 
ical arts. Was Antinous certain when he plunged into 
the waves of the Nile that he would arise from them as 
a god? Hadrian asserts in his memoirs that it was an 
accident, but no one believed him. The divine honours 
which he paid to the dead youth lead us to suppose that 
they formed the reward of a self-sacrifice, which, accord- 
ing to the custom of those times, constituted a highly 
moral action, and was looked upon as heroic devotion. 
At any rate, we will assume that this sacrifice sank into 
the Nile without Hadrian's will. Hadrian mourned for 
Antinous with unspeakable pain and " womanly tears." 
Now he was Achilles by the corpse of Patroklus, or Alex- 
ander by the pyre of the dead Hephaistus. He had the 
youth splendidly buried in Besa. This most extraordi- 
nary intermezzo of all Nile journeys supplied dying 
heathendom with a new god, and art with its last ideal 



form. Ptobablj, also, during tlie burial, far-sighted court- 
iers already saw the star of Antinous shining in Egypt's 
midnight sky, and then Hadrian saw it himself. 

In the mystical land of Egypt, life might still be 
poetical even in the clear daylight of Roman universal 
history in the reign of Hadrian. The death of the young 
Bithynian seems to have occurred in October, 130, The 
emperor continued his journey as soon as he had given 
orders for a splendid town to be erected on the site of 


Besa, in honour of his friend. In November, 130, the 
royal company is to be found amongst the ruins of Thebes. 

Thebes, the oldest town in Egypt, had been first put 
in the shade by Memphis, and then destroyed by Cam- 
byses. Since the time of the Ptolemies, it had been called 
Diospolis, and Ptolemais had taken its place as capital 
of the Thebaid. Already in Strabo's time it was split up. 
It formed on either side of the Nile groups of gigantic 
temples and palaces, monuments, and royal graves sim- 
ilar to those scattered to-day amongst Luxor, Kamak, 
Medinet-Habu, Deir-el-Bahari, and Kuma. 

In Hadrian's time the Rameseum, the so-called grave 
of Osymandias, on the western bank of the NUe, the 


wonderful building of Ramses II., must stiE have been 
in good repair. These pylons, pillars, arcades, and courts, 
these splendid halls with their sculpture-covered walls, 
appear even to have influenced the Roman art in the 
time of the emperors. Their reflex influence has been 
even seen in Trajan's forum, in which the chief thing 
was the emperor's tomb. 

In Alexandria the emperor mixed freely with the 
professors of the museum, asking them questions and 
answering theirs in return; and he dropped his tear of 
pity on the tomb of the great Pompey, in the form of 
a Greek epigram, though with very little point. He laid 
out large sums of money in building and ornamenting 
the city, and the Alexandrians were much pleased with 
his behaviour. Among other honours that they paid him, 
they changed the name of the month December, calling 
it the month Hadrian; but as they were not followed 
by the rest of the empire the name soon went out of use. 
The emperor's patronage of philosophy was rather at 
the cost of the Alexandrian museum, for he enrolled 
among its paid professors men who were teaching from 
school to school in Italy and Asia Minor. Thus Polemon 
of Laodicea, who taught oratory and philosophy at Rome, 
Laodicea, and Smyrna, and had the right of a free pas- 
sage for himself and his servants in any of the public 
ships whenever he chose to move from city to city for 
the purposes of study or teaching, had at the same time 
a salary from the Alexandriarfmuseum. "Dionysius of 
Miletus also received his salary as a professor in the 
museuih while teaching philosophy and mnemonics 



at Miletus and Ephesus. Pancrates, the Alexandrian 
poet, gained Ms salary in the museum by the easy task 
of a little flattery. On Hadrian's return to Alexandria 
from the Thebaid, the poet presented to him a rose-col- 
oured lotus, a flower well known in India, though less 
common in Egypt than either the blue or white lotus, 
and assured him that it had 
sprijng out of the blood of 
the lion slain by his royal 
javelin at a lion-hunt in 
Libya. The emperor was 
pleased with the compli- 
ment, and gave biin a place 
in the museum; and Pan- 
crates in return named the 
plant the lotus of Antinous. 
Pancrates was a warm ad- 


mirer of the mystical opinions of the Egyptians which 
were then coming into note in Alexandria. He was said 
to have lived underground in holy solitude or converse 
with the gods for twenty-three years, and during that 
time to have been taught magic by the goddess Isis, and 
thus to have gained the power of working miracles. He 
learned to call upon the queen of darkness by her Egyp- 
tian name Hecate, and when driving out evil spirits to 
speak to them in the Egyptian language. Whether these 
Greek students of the Eastern mysticism were deceivers 
or deceived, whether they were led by a love of notoriety 
or of knowledge, is in most cases doubtful, but they were 
surroimded by a crowd of credulous admirers, who 


formed a strange contrast witli the sceptics and critics 
of the museum. 

Among the Alexandrian grammarians of this reign 
was Apollonius Dyscolus, so called perhaps from a mo- 
roseness of manner, who wrote largely on rhetoric, on 
the Greek dialects, on accents, prosody, and on other 
branches of grammar. In the few pages that remain 
of his numerous writings, we trace the love of the mar- 
vellous which was then growing among some of the 
philosophers. He teUs us many remarkable stories, which 
he collected rather as a judicious inquirer than as a 
credulous believer; such as of second sight; an account 
of a lad who fell asleep in the field while watching his 
sheep, and then slept for fifty-seven years, and awoke to 
wonder at the strangeness of the changes that had taken 
place in the meanwhile; and of a man who after death 
used from time to time to leave his body, and wander 
over the earth as a spirit, till his wife, tired of his com- 
ing back again so often, put a stop to it by having his 
mummy burnt. He gives us for the first time Eastern 
tales in a Grreek dress, and we thus learn the source from 
which Europe gained much of its literature in the Middle 
Ages. The Alexandrian author of greatest note at this 
time was the historian Appian, who tells us that he had 
spent some years in Rome practising as a lawyer, and 
returned to Egypt on being appointed to a high post in 
the government of his native city. There he wrote his 
Roman history. 

In this reign the Jews, forgetful of what they had just 
suffered under Trajan, again rose against the power of 



Rome; and, when Judgea rebelled against its prefect, 
Tinnius Rufus, a little army of Jews marched out of 
Egypt and Libya, to help their brethren and to free the 
holy land (130 a. d.). But they were everywhere routed 
and put down with resolute slaughter. 

Travellers, on reaching a distant point of a journey. 


or on viewing any remarkable object of their curiosity, 
have at all times been fond of carving or scribbUng their 
names on the spot, to boast of their prowess to after- 
comers; and never had any place been more favoured 
with memorials of this kind than the great statue of 
Amenhothes at Thebes. This colossal statue, fifty-three 
feet high, was famed, as long as the Egyptian priesthood 
lasted, for sending forth musical sounds every morning 
at sunrise, when first touched by the sun's rays; and 


no traveller ever visited Thebes without listening for 
these remarkable notes. The journey through Upper 
Egypt was at this time perfectly open and safe, and the 
legs and feet of the statue are covered with names, and 
inscriptions in prose and verse, of travellers who had 
visited it at sunrise during the reigns of Hadrian and 
the Antonines. From these curious memorials we learn 
that Hadrian visited Thebes a second time with his queen, 
Sabina, in the fifteenth year of his reign. When the 
empress first visited the statue she was disappointed at 
not hearing the musical sounds; but, on her hinting 
threats of the emperor's displeasure, her curiosity was 
gratified on the following morning. This gigantic statue 
of hard gritstone had formerly been broken in half across 
the waist, and the upper part thrown to the ground, 
either by the shock of an earthquake or the ruder shock 
of Persian zeal against the Egyptian religion; and for 
some centuries past the musical notes had issued from the 
broken fragments. Such was its fallen state when the 
Empress Sabina saw it, and when Strabo and Juvenal 
and Pausanias listened to its sounds; and it was not till 
after the reign of Hadrian that it was again raised up- 
right like its companion, as travellers now see it. 

From this second visit, and a longer acquaintance, 
Hadrian seems to have formed a very poor opinion of 
the Egyptians and Egyptian Jews; and the following 
curious letter, written in 134 a. d. to his friend Servianus, 
throws much light upon their religion as worshippers of 
Serapis, at the same time that it proves how numerous 
the Christians had become in Alexandria, even withia 


seventy years of the period during wMcli the evangelist 
Mark is believed to have preached there: 

" Hadrian Augustus to Servianus, the consul, greet- 

" As for Egypt, which you were praising to me, dear- 
est Servianus, I have foiuid its people whoUy light, 
wavering, and flying after every breath of a report. 
Those who worship Serapis are Christians, and those 
who call themselves bishops of Christ are devoted to 
Serapis. There is no ruler of a Jewish synagogue, no 
Samaritan, no presbyter of the Christians, who is not a 
mathematician, an augur, and a soothsayer. The very 
patriarch himself, when he came into Egypt, was by 
some said to worship Serapis, and by others to worship 
Christ. As a race of men, they are seditious, vaia, and 
spiteful; as a body, wealthy and prosperous, of whom, 
nobody lives in idleness. Some blow glass, some make 
paper, and others linen. There is work for the lame and 
work for the blind; even those who have lost the use 
of their hands do not live in idleness. Their one god 
is nothing; Christians, Jews, and aU nations worship 
him. I wish this body of men was better behaved, and 
worthy of their number; for as for that they ought to 
hold the chief place in Egypt. I have granted every- 
thing unto them; I have restored their old privileges,, 
and have made them grateful by adding new ones." 

Among the crowd of gods that had formerly been 
worshipped in Egypt, Serapis had latterly been rising 



above the rest. He was the god of the dead, who in the 
next world was to reward the good and punish the 
wicked; and in the growing worship of this one all- 
seeing judge we cannot but trace the downfall of some 
of the evils of polytheism. A plurality in unity was 
another method now used to explain away the poly- 
theism. The oracle when consulted about the divine 
nature had answered, '' I am Ra, and 
Horus, and Osiris;" or, as the Greeks 
translated it, Apollo, and Lord, and Bac- 
chus ; " I rule the hours and the seasons, 
the wind and the storms, the day and the 
night ; I am king of the stars and myself 
an immortal fire." Hence arose the opin- 
ion which seems to have been given to 
Hadrian, that the Egyptians had only 
one god, and his mistake in thinking that 
the worshippers of Serapis were Chris- 
tians. The emperor, indeed, himself, 
though a polytheist, was very little of an idolater; for, 
though he wished to add Christ to the number of the 
Eoman gods, he on the other hand ordered that the 
temples built in his reign should have no images for 
worship; and in after ages it was common to call all 
temples without statues Hadrian's temples. But there 
were other and stronger reasons for Hadrian's classing 
the Christians with the Egyptian astrologers. A Chris- 
tian heresy was then rising into notice in Egypt in that 
very form, taking its opinions from the philosophy 
on which it was engrafted. Before Christianity was 



preached in Alexandria, there were already three relig- 
ions or forms of philosophy belonging to the three races 
of men who peopled that busy city; first, the Greek 
philosophy, which was chiefly platonism; secondly, the 
mysticism of the Egyptians ; and lastly, the religion of 
the Jews. These were often more or less mixed, as we 
see them all imited in the works of Philo-Judseus; and 
in the writings of the early converts we usually find 
Christianity clothed in one or other of these forms, ac- 
cording to the opinions held by the writers before their 
conversion. The first Christian teachers, the apostolic 
fathers as they are called, because they had been hearers 
of the apostles themselves, were mostly Jews; but among 
the Egyptians and Greeks of Alexandria their religion 
lost much of its purely moral caste, and became, with 
the former, an astrological mysticism, and with the lat- 
ter an abstract speculative theology. It is of the Egyp- 
tian Jews that Hadrian speaks in his letter just quoted; 
many of them had been already converted to Christianity, 
and their religion had taken the form of Gnosticism. 

Gnosticism, or Science, for the name means no more, 
was not then new in Alexandria, nor were its followers 
originally Christians. It was the proud name claimed 
for their opinions by those who studied the Eastern phi- 
losophy of the Magi; and Egypt seems to have been as 
much its native soil as India. The name of Gnostic, says 
Weber, was generally given to those who distinguished 
between belief on authority and gnosis, i. e., between the 
ordinary comprehension and a higher knowledge only 
granted to a few gifted or chosen ones. They were split 


up into different sects, according as they approached 
more nearly the Eastern theosophy or the platonic phi- 
losophy; but in general the Eastern conception, with 
its symbols and unlimited fantasy, remained dominant. 
The '' creed of those who know " never reached actual 
monotheism, the conception of one personal god, who 
created everything according to his own free will and 
rules over everything with unlimited wisdom and love. 
The god of the Gnostics is a dark, mysterious being 
which can only arrive at a consciousness of itself through 
a manifold descending scale of forces, which flow from 
the god himself. The visible world was created out of 
dead and evil matter by Demiurgos, the divine work- 
master, a production and subordinate of the highest god. 
Man, too, is a production of this subordinate creator, 
a production subject to a blind fate, and a prey to those 
powers which rule between heaven and earth, without 
free-will, the only thing which makes the ideas of sin 
and responsibility possible. Matter is the seat of evil, 
and as long as man stands under the influence of this 
matter, he is in the hands of evil and knows no freedom. 
Eedemption can only reach him through those higher 
beings of light, which free man from the power of matter 
and translate him into the kingdom of light. According 
to the Gnostic teaching, Christ is one of these beings of 
light; he is one of the highest who appeared on earth, 
and is transformed into a mj^thical, allegorical being, 
with his human nature, his sufferings and death com- 
pletely suppressed. The redeemed soul is then as a kind 
of angel, or ideal being, brought in triumph into the 


idealistic realm of light as soon as it has purified itself 
to the nature of a spirit, by means of penitence, chas- 
tisements, and finally the death of the physical body. 
Hence the Gnostics attached little importance to the 
means of mercy in the Church, to the Bible, or the sacra- 
ments; they allowed the Church teaching to exist as a 
necessaiy conception for the people, but they placed their 
own teachings far above it as mysterious or secret teach- 
ings. As regards their morals and mode of life, the 
Gnostics generally went to extremes. It was due to 
Gnosticism that art and science found an entrance into 
the Church. It preserved the Church from becoming 
stereotyped in form; but, built up entirely on ideas and 
not on historical facts, it died from its own hoUowness 
and eccentricity. 

We still possess the traces of the Gnostic astrology 
in a number of amulets and engraved gems, with the 
word Abraxas or rather Abrasax and other emblems of 
their superstition, which they kept as charms against 
diseases and evil spirits. The word Abra-sax may be 
translated Hurt me not. To their mystic rites we may 
trace many of the reproaches thrown upon Christianity, 
such as that the Christians worshipped the head of an 
ass, using the animal's Koptic name Eeo, to represent 
the name of lAfl, or Jahveh. To the same source we may 
also trace some of the peculiarities of the Christian 
fathers, such as St. Ambrose calling Jesus " the good 
scarabseus, who roUed up before him the hitherto un- 
shapen mud of our bodies; " a thought which seems to 
have heen borrowed as much from the hieroglyphics as 


from the insect's habits; and perhaps from the Egyptian 

priests in some cases, using the scarabseus to denote the 

god Horus-Ea, and sometimes the word only-hegotten. 

We trace this thought on the Gnostic gems where we see 

a winged griffin rolling before him a 

wheel, the emblem of eternity. He 

sits like a conqueror on horseback, 

tramphng under foot the serpent of 

old, the spirit of sin and death. His 

horse is in the form of a ram, with 

KOPTic CHAHM AND g^j^ caglo's head and the crowned 

asp or basilisk for its tail. Before 

him stands the figure of victory giving him a crown; 

above are written the words Alpha and Omega, and 

below perhaps the word lAfl, Jahveh, 

So far we have seen the form which Christianity at 
first took among the Egyptians; but, as few writiags 
by these Gnostics have come down to our time, we chiefly 
know their opinions from the reproaches of their enemies. 
It was not till the second generation of Gnostic teachers 
were spreading their heresies that the Greek philosophers 
began to embrace Christianity, or the Christians to study 
Greek literature; but as soon as that was the case we 
have an unbroken chain of writings, in which we find 
Christianity more or less mixed with the Alexandrian 
form of platonism. 

The philosopher Justin, after those who had talked 
with the apostles, is the earliest Christian writer whose 
works have reached us. He was a Greek, bom in Sama- 
ria; but he studied many years in Alexandria under 


pJailosopliel's of all opinions. He did not, however, at 
once find in the schools the wisdom he was in search 
for. The Stoic could teach Tiityi nothing about God; the 
Peripatetic wished to be paid for his lessons before he 
gave them; and the Pjrthagorean proposed to begin with 
music and mathematics. Not content with these, Justin 
turned to the platonist, whose purer philosophy seemed 
to add wings to his thoughts, and taught him to mount 
aloft towards true wisdom. While turning over in his 
mind what he had thus learned in the several schools, 
dissatisfied with the philosopher's views, he chanced 
one day to meet with an old man walking on the sea- 
shore near Alexandria, to whom he unbosomed his 
thoughts, and by whom he was converted to Christianity. 
Justin teUs us that there were no people, whether 
Greeks or barbarians, or even 
dwellers in tent and waggons, 
among whom prayers were not 
offered up to the heavenly father 
in the name of the crucified 
Jesus. The Christians met every 
Sunday for public worship, 

1 . 1 1 .,T J- _ GNOSTIC GEM. 

which began with a reading 

from the prophets, or from the memoirs of the apostles 
called the gospels. This was followed by a sermon, a 
prayer, the bread and wine, and a second prayer. Jus- 
tin's quotations prove that he is speaking of the New 
Testament, which within a hundred years of the cruci- 
fixion was read in all the principal cities in which Greek 
was spoken. Justin died as a martyr in 163 a. d. 


The platonic professorship in Alexandria had usually 
been held by an Athenian, and for a short time Athe- 
nagoras of Athens taught that branch of philosophy in 
the museum; but he afterwards embraced the Christian 
religion, and then taught Christianity openly in Alex- 
andria. He enjoys with Justin the honour of being one 
of the first men of learning who were converted, and, 
like Justin, his chief work is an apology for the Chris- 
tians, addressed to the emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Athe- 
nagoras confines himself in his defence to the resurrec- 


tion from the dead and the unity of the Deity, the points 
chiefly attacked by the pagans. 

Hadrian's Egyptian coins are remarkable l)oth for 
number and variety. In the sixth year of the reign we 
see a ship with spread sails, most likely in gratitude 
for the emperor's safe arrival in Egypt. In the eighth 
year we see the head of the favourite Antinous, who had 
been placed among the gods of the country. In the 
eleventh year, when the emperor took up the tribunitial 
power at Rome for a second period of ten years, we find 
a series of coins, each bearing the name of the nome or 
district in which it was coined. This indeed is the most 



remarkable year of tlie most remarkable reign in the 
whole history of coinage; we have numerous coins for 
every year of this reign, and, in this year, for nearly 
every nome in Egypt. Some coins are strongly marked 
with the favourite opinion of the Gnostics as to the 
opposition between good and evil. On one we have the 
war between the serpent of good and the serpent of evil, 


distinguished by their different forms and by the em- 
blems of Isis and Serapis; on others the heads of Isis 
and Serapis, the principles of love and fear; while on a 
third these two are united into a trinity by Horus, who 
is standing on an eagle instead of having an eagle's head, 
as represented on previous coins. 

The beginning of the reign of Antoninus Pius (a. d. 
138) was remarkable as being the end of the Sothic 
period of one thousand four hundred and sixty years; 
the movable new year's day of the calendar had come 


round to the place in the natural year from which it first 
began to move in the reign of Menophres or Thutmosis- 
TTT .; it had come round to the day when the dog-star 
rose heliacally. If the years had been counted from the 
beginning of this great year, there could have been no 
doubt when it came to an end, as from the want of a leap 
year the new year's day must have been always moving 
one day in four years; but no satisfactory reckoning of 
the years had been kept, and, as the end of the period wa& 
only known by observation, there was some little doubt 
about the exact year. Indeed, among the Greek astron- 
omers, Dositheus said the dog-star rises heliacally 
twenty-three days after midsummer, Meton twenty- 
eight days, and Euctemon thirty-one days; they thus, 
left a doubt of thirty-two years as to when the period 
should end, but the statesmen placed it in the first year 
of the reign of Antoninus. This end of the Sothic period 
was called the return to the phoenix, and had been looked 
forward to by the Egyptians for many years, and is weE 
marked on the coins of this reign. The coins for the first 
eight years teem with astronomy. There are several with 
the goddess Isis in a boat, which we know, from the zodiac 
in the Memnonium at Thebes, was meant for the heliacal 
rising of the dog-star. In the second and in the sixth year 
we find on the coins the remarkable word aion, the age or 
period, and an ibis with a glory of rays round its head^ 
meant for the bird phoenix. In the seventh year we see 
Orpheus playing on his lyre while all the animals of the 
forest are listening, thus pointing out the return of the 
golden age. In the eighth year we have the head of 


Serapis circled by the seven planets, and the whole within 
the twelve signs of the zodiac; and on another coin we 
have the sun and moon within the signs of the zodiac. A 
series of twelve coins for the same year teUs us that the 
house of the sun, in the language of the astrologers, is 
in the lion, that of the moon in the crab, the houses of 
Venus in the scales and the bull, those of Mars in the 
scorpion and the ram, those of Jupiter in the archer and 
the fishes, those of Saturn in the sea-goat and aquarius, 
those of Mercury in the virgin and the twins. On the 
coins of the same year we have the eagle and thunder- 
bolt, the sphinx, the bull Apis, the Nile and crocodile, 
Isis nursing the child Horus, the hawk-headed Aroeris, 
and the winged sun. On coins of other years we have a 
camelopard, Horus sitting on the lotus-flower, and a 
sacrifice to Isis, which was celebrated on the last day 
of the year. 

The coins also teU us of the bountiful overflow of 
the Nile, and of the goodness of the harvests that fol- 
lowed; thus, in the ninth, tenth, thirteenth, and seven- 
teenth years, we see the river Nile in the form of an old 
man leaning on a crocodile, pouring corn and fruit out 
of a cornucopia, while a child by his side, with the figures 
16, tells us that in those years the waters of the Nile rose 
at Memphis to the wished-for height of sixteen cubits. 
!Prom these latter coins it would seem that but little 
change had taken place in the soil of the Delta by the 
yearly deposit of mud; Herodotus says that sixteen 
cubits was the wished-for rise of the Nile at Memphis 
when he was there. And we should almost think that 


the seasons were more favourable to the husbandman 
during the reign of an Antonine than of a Caligula, did 
we not set it down to the canals being better cleansed 
by the care of the prefect, and to the mildness of the 
government leaving the people at liberty to enjoy the 
bounties of nature, and at the same time making them 
more grateful in acknowledging them. 

The mystic emblems on the coins are only what we 


might look for from the spread of the Gnostic opinions^ 
and the eagerness with which the Greeks were copying the 
superstitions of the Egyptians ; and, while astrology was 
thus countenanced by the state, of course it was not less 
followed by the people. The poor Jews took to it as a 
trade. In Alexandria the Jewess, half beggar, half for- 
tune-teller, would stop people in the streets and interpret 
dreams by the help of the Bible, or sit under a sacred 
tree like a sibyl, and promise wealth to those who con- 
sulted her, duly proportioned to the size of the coin by 


which she was paid. We find among the Theban ruins 
pieces of papyrus with inscriptions, describing the posi- 
tions of the heavens at particular hours in this reign, for 
the astrologers therewith to calculate the nativities of 
the persons then bom. On one is a complete horoscope, 
containing the places of the sun, moon, and every planet, 
noted down on the zodiac ia degrees and minutes of a 
degree; and with these particulars the mathematician 
Tuidertook to foretell the marriage, fortune, and death 
of the person who had been bom at the instant when the 
heavenly bodies were so situated; and, as the horoscope 
was buried in the tomb with the mummy, we must sup- 
pose that it was thought that the prognostication would 
hold good even in the next world. 

But astrology was not the only end to which mathe- 
matics were then turned. Claudius Ptolemy, the astron- 
omer and geographer, was at that time the ornament of 
the mathematical school of Alexandria. In his writings 
he treats of the earth as the centre of the heavens, and 
the sun, moon, and planets as moving in circles and epi- 
cycles round it. This had been the opinion of some of 
the early astronomers; but since this theory of the 
heavens received the stamp of his authority, it is now 
always called the Ptolemaic system. 

In this reign was made a new survey of all the military 
roads in the Roman empire, called the Itinerary of An- 
toninus. It included the great roads of Egypt, which 
were only six in number. One was from Contra-Pselcis 
in Nubia along the east bank of the Nile, to Babylon 
opposite Memphis, and there turning eastward through 


Heliopolis and the district of the Jews to Clysmon, where 
Trajan's canal entered the Red Sea. A second, from 
Memphis to Pelusium, made use of this for about thirty 
miles, joining it at Babylon, and leaving it at Scenae 
Veteranormn. By these two roads a traveller could go 
from Pelusium to the head of the Red Sea; but there 
was a shorter road through the desert which joined the 
first at Serapion, about fifty miles from Clysmon, instead 
of at Scenae Veteranorum, which was therefore about a 
hundred miles shorter. A fourth was along the west 
bank of the Nile from Hiera Sycaminon in Nubia to Alex- 
andria, leaving the river at Andropolis, about sixty miles 
from the latter city. A fifth was from Palestine to Alex- 
andria, running along the coast of the Mediterranean 
from Raphia to Pelusium, and thence, leaving the coast 
to avoid the flat country, which was under water during 
the inundation; it joined the last at Andropolis. The 
sixth road was from Koptos on the Nile to Berenice on 
the Red Sea. These six were probably the only roads 
under the care of the prefect. Though Syene was the 
boundary of the province of Egypt, the Roman power 
was felt for about one hundred miles into Nubia, and 
we find the names of the emperors on several temples 
between Syene and Hiera Sycaminon. But beyond this, 
though we find inscriptions left by Roman travellers, 
the emperors seem never to have aimed at making mili- 
tary roads, or holding any cities against the inroads of 
the Blemmyes and other Arabs. 

To this survey we must add the valuable geographical 
knowledge given by Arrian in his voyage round the 


shores of tlie Red Sea, wMch has come down to us in an 
interesting document, wherein he mentions the several 
seaports and their distances, with the tribes and cities 
near the coast. The trade of Egypt to India, Ethiopia, 
and Arabia was then most valuable, and carried on with 
great activity; but, as the merchandise was in each case 
carried only for short distances from city to city, the 
traveller could gain but little knowledge of where it came 
from, or even sometimes of where it was going. The 
Egyptians sent coarse linen, glass bottles, brazen vessels, 


brass for money, and iron for weapons of war and hunt- 
ing; and they received back ivory, rhinoceros' teeth, 
Indian steel, Indian ink, silks, slaves, tortoise-shell, 
myrrh, and other scents, with many other Eastern articles 
of high price and little weight. The presents which the 
merchants made to the petty kings of Arabia were chiefly 
horses, mules, and gold and silver vases. Beside this, 
the ports on the Red Sea carried on a brisk trade among 
themselves in grain, expressed oil, wicker boats, and 
sugar. Of sugar, or honey from the cane, this is perhaps 
the earliest mention found in history; but Arrian does 
not speak of the sugar-cane as then new, nor does he tell 


US where it was grown. Had sugar been then seen for 
the first time he would certainly have said so; it must 
have been an article well known in the Indian trade. 
While passing through Egypt on his travels, or while 
living there and holding some post under the prefect, the 
historian Arrian has left us his name and a few lines of 
poetry carved on the foot of the great sphinx near the 

At this time also the travellers continued to carve 
their names and their feelings of wonder on. the foot of 
the musical statue at Thebes and in the deep empty 
tombs of the Theban kings. These inscriptions are full 
of curious information. For example, it has been doubted 
whether the Roman army was provided with medical 
officers. Their writers have not mentioned them. But 
part of the Second Legion was at this time stationed at 
Thebes; and one Asclepiades, while cutting his name in 
a tomb which once held some old Theban, has cleared 
up the doubt for us, by saying that he was physician to 
the Second Legion. 

Antoninus made a hippodrome, or race-course, for 
the amusement of the citizens of Alexandria, and built 
two gates to the city, called the gate of the sun and the 
gate of the moon, the former fronting the harbour and 
the latter fronting the lake Mareotis, and joined by the 
great street which ran across the whole width of the 
city. But this reign was not wholly without trouble; 
there was a rebellion in which the prefect Dinarchus lost 
his life, and for which the Alexandrians were severely 
pimished by the emperor. 


The coins of Marcus Aurelius, the successor of An- 
toninus Pius, have a rich variety of subjects, falling not 
far short of those of the last reign. On those of the fifth 
year, the bountiful overflow of the Nile is gratefully 
acknowledged by the figure of the god holding a cornu- 
copia, and a troop of sixteen children playing round 
him. It had been not unusual in hieroglyphical writing 
to express a thought by means of a figure which in the 
Koptic language had nearly the same sound; and we 
have seen this copied on the coins in the case of a Greek 
word, when the bird phoenix was used for the palm- 


branch phoenix, or the hieroglyphical word year; and a 
striking instance may be noticed in the case of a Latin 
word, as the sixteen children or cupids mean sixteen 
cubits, the wished-for height of the Nile's overflow. The 
statue of the Nile, which had been carried by Vespasian 
to Eome and placed in the temple of Peace, was sur- 
rounded by the same sixteen children. On the coins of 
his twelfth year the sail held up by the goddess Isis is 
blown towards the Pharos lighthouse, as if in that year 
the emperor had been expected in Alexandria. 

We find no coins in the eleventh or fourteenth years 
of this reign, which makes it probable that it was in the 


eleventh year (a. d. 172) that the rebellion of the native 
soldiers took place. These were very likely Arabs who 
had been admitted into the ranks of the legions, but 
having withdrawn to the desert they now harassed the 
towns with their marauding inroads, and a considerable 
time elapsed before they were wholly put down by Avi- 
dius Cassius at the head of the legions. But Cassius 
himself was imable to resist the temptations which 
always beset a successful general, and after this victory 
he allowed himself to be declared emperor by the legions 
of Egypt; and this seems to have been the cause of no 
coins being struck in Alexandria in the fourteenth year 
of the reign. Cassius left his son Maecianus in Alex- 
andria with the title of Pretorian Prefect, while he him- 
self marched into Syria to secure that province. There 
the legions followed the example of their brethren in 
Egypt, and the Syrians were glad to acknowledge a gen- 
eral of the Eastern armies as their sovereign. But on 
Marcus leading an army into Syria he was met with the 
news that the rebels had repented, and had put Cassius 
to death, and he then moved his forces towards Egypt; 
but before his arrival the Egyptian legions had in the 
same manner put Msecianus to death, and all had returned 
to their allegiance. 

When Marcus arrived in Alexandria the citizens were 
agreeably surprised by the mildness of his conduct. He 
at once forgave his enemies; and no offenders were 
put to death for having joined in the rebellion. The 
severest punishment, even to the children of Cassius, 
was banishment from the province, but without restraint, 










and with the forfeiture of less than half their patrimony. 
In Alexandria the emperor laid aside the severity of the 
soldier, and mingled with the people as a fellow-citizen 
in the temples and public places; while with the pro- 
fessors in the museum he was a philosopher, joining them 
in their studies in the schools. 

Rome and Athens at this time alike looked upon Alex- 
andria as the centre of the world's learning. The hbrary 
was then in its greatest glory; the readers were numer- 
ous, and Christianity had as yet raised no doubts about 
the value of its pagan treasures. All the wisdom of 
Greece, written on rolls of brittle papyrus or tough parch- 
ment, was ranged in boxes on the shelves. Of these 
writings the few that have been saved from the wreck 
of time are no doubt some of the best, and they are per- 
haps enough to guide our less simple taste towards the 
unomamented grace of the Greek model. But we often 
fancy those treasures most valuable that are beyond our 
reach, and hence when we run over the names of the 
authors in this library we think perhaps too much of 
those which are now missing. The student in the museum 
could have read the lyric poems of Alcseus and Ster- 
sichorus, which in matter and style were excellent enough 
to be judged not quite so good as Homer; the tender 
lamentations of Simonides; the warm breathings of 
Sappho, the tenth muse; the pithy iambics of Archil- 
ochus, full of noble flights and brave irregularities; the 
comedies of Menander, containing every kind of excel- 
lence; those of Eupolis and Cratinus, which were equal 
to Aristophanes; the histories of Theopompus, which in 


the speeches were as good as Thucydides ; the lively, 
agreeable orations of Hyperides, the accuser of Demos- 
thenes; with the books of travels, chronologies, and 
countless others of less merit for style and genius, but 
which, if they had been saved, would not have left Egypt 
wholly without a history. 

The trade of writing and making copies of the old 
authors employed a great many hands in the neighbour- 
hood of the museiun. Two kinds of handwriting were 
iu use. One was a running hand, with the letters joined 

Kmo MOAoro YMeNocwver^ 

omNescT noN,o|^i|:icii.b^NTclmcliC£Ni 


together in rather a slovenly manner; and the other a 
neat, regular hand, with the letters square and larger, 
written more slowly but read more easily. Those that 
wrote the first were called quick-writers, those that wrote 
the second were called book-writers. If an author was 
not skilled in the use of the pen, he employed a quick- 
writer to write down his words as he delivered them. But 
in order that his work might be published it was handed 
over to the book-writers to be copied out more neatly; 
and numbers of young women, skilled in penmanship, 
were employed in the trade of copying books for sale. 
Por this purpose parchment was coming into use, though 


the old papyrus was still used, as an inexpensive though 
less lasting writing material. 

Athenseus, if we may judge from his writings, was 
then the brightest of the Alexandrian wits and men of 
learning. We learn from his own pages that he was bom 
at Naucratis, and was the friend of Pancrates, who lived 
under Hadrian, and also of Oppian, who died in the reign 
of Caracalla. His DeipnosopMst, or table-talk of the 
philosophers, is a large work full of pleasing anecdotes 
and curious information, gathered from comic writers 
and authors without number that have long since been 
lost. But it is put together with very little skUl. His 
industry and memory are more remarkable than his judg- 
ment or good taste; and the table-talk is too often turned 
towards eating and drinking. His amusing work is a 
picture of society in Alexandria, where everything friv- 
olous was treated as grave, and everything serious was 
laughed at. The wit sinks into scandal, the humour is 
at the cost of morality, and the numerous quotations are 
chosen for their point, not for any lofty thoughts or noble 
feeling. Alexandria was then as much the seat of literary 
wit as it was of dry criticism; and Martial, the lively 
author of the Epigrams, had fifty years before remarked 
that there were few places in the world where he would 
more wish his verses to be repeated than on the banks 
of the Nile. 

Nothing could be lower than the poetic taste in Alex- 
andria at this time. The museum was giving birth to a 
race of poets who, instead of bringing forth thoughts 
out of their own minds, found them in the storehouse 



of the memory only. They wrote their patchwork poems 
by the help of Homer's lines, which they picked from all 
parts of the Ihad and Odyssey and so put together as 
to make them tell a new tale. They called themselves 
Homeric poets. 


Lucian, the author of the Dialogues, was at that time 
secretary to the prefect of Egypt, and this philosopher 
foimd a broad mark for his humour in the religion 
of the Egyptians, their worship of animals and water- 
jars, their love of magic, the general mourning through 
the land on the death of the buU Apis, their funeral 
ceremonies, their placing of their mummies round the 
dinner-table as so many guests, and pawning a father 
or a brother when in want of money. So little had the 
customs changed that the young Egyptians of high birth 


still wore their long hair tied in one lock, and hanging 
over the right ear, as we see on the Theban sculptures fif- 
teen centuries earlier. It was then a mark of royalty, 
but had since been adopted by many families of high 
rank, and continues to be used even in the twentieth 

Before the end of this reign we meet with a strong 
proof of the spread of Christianity in Egypt. The num- 
ber of believers made it necessary for the 
Bishop of Alexandria to appoint three 
bishops under him, to look after the 
churches in three other cities; and ac- 
cordingly Demetrius, who then held that 
office, took upon himself the rank, if not 
the name, of Patriarch of Alexandria. 
A second proof of the spread of Chris- the sign op 
tianity is the pagan philosophers think- nobility. 
ing it necessary to write against it. Celsus, an Epicurean 
of Alexandria, was one of the first to attack it. Origen 
answered the several arguments of Celsus with skill and 
candour. He challenges his readers to a comparison 
between the Christians and pagans in point of morals, 
in Alexandria or in any other city. He argues in the 
most forcible way that Christianity had overcome all 
difficulties, and had spread itself far and wide against 
the power of kings and emperors, and he says that no- 
body but a Christian ever died a martyr to the truth 
of his religion. He makes good use of the Jewish 
prophecies; but he brings forward no proofs in support 
of the truth of the gospel history; they were not wanted, 


as Celsus and the pagans had not considered it necessary 
to call it into question. 

Another proof of the number of Egyptian Christians 
is seen in the literary frauds of which their writers were 
guilty, most likely to satisfy the minds of those pagan 
converts that they had already made rather than from 
a wish to make new believers. About this time was 
written by an unknown Christian author a poem in eight 
books, named the Sibylline Verses which must not be 
mistaken for the pagan fragments of the same name. 
It is written in the form of a prophecy, in the style 
used by the Gnostics, and is full of dark sentences and 
half -expressed hints. 

Another spurious Christian work of about the same 
time is the Clementina, or the Recognitions of Clemens, 
Bishop of Rome. It is an account of the travels of the 
Apostle Peter and his conversation with Simon Magus; 
but the author's knowledge of the Egyptian mythology, 
of the opinions of the Greek philosophers, and of the 
astrological rules by which fortunes are foretold from 
the planets' places, amply prove that he was an Egyp- 
tian or an Alexandrian. No name ranked higher among 
the Christians than that of Clemens Romanus; and this 
is only one out of several cases of Christian authors 
who wished to give weight to their own opinions by 
passing them upon the world as his writings. 

Marcus Aurelius, who died in 181 a. d., had pardoned 
the children of the rebel general Avidius Cassius, but 
Commodus began his reign by putting them to death; 
and, while thus disregarding the example and advice 



of his father, he paid his memory the idle compliment 
of continuing his series of dates on his own coins. But 
ihe Egyptian coinage of Commodus clearly betrays the 
sad change that was gradually taking place in the arts 
of the country; we no longer see the 
former beauty and variety of subjects; 
and the silver, which had before been 
very much mixed with copper, was under 
Commodus hardly to be known from 
brass. Commodus was very partial to 
the Egyptian superstitions, and he commodus. 
adopted the tonsure, and had his head 
«haven like a priest of Isis, that he might more properly 
■carry an Auubis staff in sacred processions, which con- 
tinued to be a featiu-e of the religious activities of the age. 
Upper Egypt had latterly been falling off in popu- 
lation. It had been drained of all its hoarded wealth. 
Its carrying trade through Koptos to the Red Sea was 
much lessened. Any tribute that its temples received 
from the piety of the neighbourhood was small. Nubia 
was a desert; and a few soldiers at Syene were enough 
to guard the poverty of the Thebaid from the inroads 
of the Blemmyes. It was no longer necessary to send 
<!riminals to the Oasis; it was enough to banish them 
to the neighbourhood of Thebes. Hence we learn but 
Tittle of the state of the country. Now and then a trav- 
eller, after measuring the pyramids of Memphis and 
the underground tombs of Thebes, might venture as far 
as the cataracts, and watch the sun at noon on the 
longest day shining to the bottom of the sacred weU at 


Syene, like the orator Aristides and his friend Dion. 
But such travellers were few; the majority of those 
who made this journey have left the fact on record. 

The celebrated museum, which had held the vast 
library of the Ptolemies, had been burnt by the soldiers 
of Julius Caesar in one of their battles with the Egyptian 
army in the streets of Alexandria; but the loss had been 
in part repaired by Mark Antony's gift of the library 
from Pergamus to the temple of Serapis. The new 
library, however, would seem to have been placed in a 
building somewhat separated from the temple, as when 
the temple of Serapis was burnt in the reign of Marcus 
Aurelius, and again when it was in part destroyed by 
fire in the second year of this reign we hear of no loss 
of books; and two hundred years later the 
library of the Serapium, it is said, had risen 
to the number of seven hundred thousand 
volumes. The temple-keeper to the great god 
Serapis, or one of the temple-keepers, at this 
time was Asclepiades, a noted boxer and 
wrestler, who had been made chief of the 
wrestling-ground and had received the high 
rank of the emperor's freedman. He set up 
THE ANUBis a statue to his father Demetrius, an equally 


noted boxer and wrestler, who had been chief 
priest of the wrestling-ground and of the emperor's baths 
in the last reign. Another favourite in the theatre was 
Apolaustus of Memphis, who removed to Rome, where 
he was crowned as conqueror in the games, and as a 
reward made priest to Apollo and emperor's freedman. 


The city of Canopus was still a large mart for mer- 
•chandise, as the shallow but safe entrance to its harbour 
made it a favourite with pilots of the small tradiQg 
vessels, who rather dreaded the rocks at the mouth of 
the harbour of Alexandria. A temple of Serapis which 
had lately been bmlt at Canopus was dedicated to the 
god in the name of the Emperor Commodus; and there 
some of the grosser superstitions of the polytheists fled 
before the spread of Christianity and platonism in Alex- 
andria. The Canopic jars, which held those parts of 
the body that could not be made solid in the mummy, 
and which had the heads of the four lesser gods of the 
dead on their lids, received their name from this city. 
The sculptures on the beautiful temples of Contra-La- 
topolis were also finished in this reign, and the emperor's 
names and titles were carved on the walls in hieroglyph- 
ics, with those of the Ptolemies, under whom the temple 
itself had been built. Commodus may perhaps not have 
heen the- last emperor whose name and praises were 
carved in hieroglyphics; but all the great buildings in 
the Thebaid, which add such value to the early history 
of Egypt, had ceased before his reign. Other buildings 
of a less lasting form were no doubt being built, such 
as the Greek temples at Autinoopolis and Ptolemais, 
which have long since been swept away; but the Egyp- 
tian priests, with their gigantic imdertakings, their noble 
plan of working for after ages rather than for themselves, 
were nearly ruined, and we find no ancient building now 
standing in Egypt that was raised after the time of the 
■dynasty of the Antonines. 



But the poverty of the Egyptians was not the only 
cause why they built no more temples. Though the 
colossal statue of Amenhothes uttered its musical notes, 
every morning at sunrise, still tuneful amid the deso- 
lation with which it was surrounded, and the Nile was- 
still worshipped at midsummer by the husbandman to 
secure its fertilising overflow; nevertheless, the religion 
itself for which the temples had been built was fast 
giving way before the silent spread of Christianity. The- 
religion of the Egyptians, unlike that of the Greeks, was- 


no longer upheld by the magistrate; it rested solely on 
the belief of its followers, and it may have merged into 
Christianity the faster for the greater number of truths 
which were contained in it than in the paganism of other 
nations. The scanty hieroglyphical records tell us little 
of thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Indeed that cumber- 
some mode of writing, which alone was used in religious 
matters, was little fitted for anything beyond the most 
material parts of their mythology. Hence we must not 
believe that the Egyptian polytheism was quite so gross 
as would appear from the sculptures; and indeed we 
there learn that they believed, even at the earliest times, 
in a resurrection from the tomb, a day of judgment, and 
a future state of rewards and punishments. 


The priests made a great boast of their learmng and 
philosophy, and could each repeat by heart those books 
of Thot which belonged to his own order. The singer, 
who walked first in the sacred processions, bearing the 
symbols of music, could repeat the books of hymns and 
the rules for the king's life. The soothsayer, who fol- 
lowed, carrying a; clock and a palm-branch, the emblem 
of the year, could repeat the four astrological books; 
one on the moon's phases, one on the fixed stars, and 
two on their heliacal risings. The scribe, who walked 
next, carrying a book and the flat rule which held the 
ink and pen, was acquainted with the geography of the 
world and of the Nile, and with those books which de- 
scribe the motions of the sun, moon, and planets, and 
the furniture of the temple and consecrated places. The 
master of the robes understood the ten books relating 
to education, to the marks on the sacred heifers, and to 
the worship of the gods, embracing the sacrifices, the 
first-fruits, the hymns, the prayers, the processions, and 
festivals. The prophet or preacher, who walked last, 
carrying in his arms the great water-pot^ was the presi- 
dent of the temple, and learned in the ten books, called 
hieratic, relating to the laws, the gods, the management 
of the temples, and the revenue. Thus, of the forty-two 
chief books of Thot, thirty-six were learned by these 
priests, while the remaining six on the body, its diseases, 
and medicines, were learned by the Pastophori, priests 
who carried the image of the god in a small shrine. 
These books had been written at various times: some 
may have been very old, but some were undoubtedly 



new; they together formed the Egyptian bible. Apol- 
lonius, or Apollonides Horapis, an Egyptian priest, had 
lately published a work on these matters in his own lan- 
guage, named Shomenuthi, the book of the gods. 

But the priests were no longer the earnest, sincere 
teachers as of old; they had invented a system of sec- 
ondary meanings, by which they explained away the 
coarse religion of their statues and sacred animals. 


They had two religions, one for the many and one for 
the few; one, material and visible, for the crowds in 
the outer courtyards, in which the hero was made a god 
and every attribute of deity was made a person; and an- 
other, spiritual and intellectual, for the learned in the 
schools and sacred colleges. Even if we were not told, 
we could have no doubt but the main point of secret 
knowledge among the learned was a disbelief in those 
very doctrines which they were teaching to the vulgar, 
and which they now explained among themselves by 
saying that they had a second meaning. This, perhaps, 


was part of the great secret of the goddess Isis, the 
secret of Abydos, the betrayer of which was more guilty 
than he who should try to stop the haris or sacred barge 
in the procession on the Nile. The worship of gods, 
before whose statues the nation had bowed with unchang- 
ing devotion for at least two thousand years was now 
drawing to a close. Hitherto the priests had 
been able to resist all new opinions. The 
name of Amon-Ra had at one time been cut 
out from the Theban monuments to make 
way for a god from Lower Egypt; but it had 
been cut in again when the storm passed by. 
The Jewish monotheism had left the crowd 
of gods unlessened. The Persian efforts 
had overthrown statues and broken open 
temples, but had not been able to introduce their wor- 
ship of the sun. The Greek conquerors had yielded to 
the Egyptian mind without a struggle; and Alexander 
had humbly begged at the door of the temple to be 
acknowledged as a son of Amon. But in the fulness of 
time these opinions, which seemed as firmly based as the 
monuments which represented them, sunk before a re- 
ligion which set up no new statues, and could command 
no force to break open temples. 

The Egyptian priests, who had been proud of the 
superiority of their own doctrines over the paganism of 
their neighbours, mourned the overthrow of their national 
religion. " Our land," says the author of Hermes Tris- 
megistus, " is the temple of the world; but, as wise men 
should foresee all things, you should know that a time is 


coming when it will seem that the Egyptians have by an 
imf ailing piety served Grod in vain. For when strangers 
shall possess this kingdom religion will be neglected, and 
laws made against piety and divine worship, with pun- 
ishment on those who favour it. Then this holy seat wiU 
be full of idolatry, idols' temples, and dead men's tombs. 
Egypt, Egypt, there shall remain of thy reUgion but 
vague stories which posterity will refuse to believe, 
and words graven in stone recounting thy piety. The 
Scythian, the Indian, or some other barbarous neighbour 
shall dwell in Egypt. The Divinity shall reascend into 
the heaven; and Egypt shall be a desert, widowed of men 
and gods." 

The spread of Christianity among the Egyptians was 
such that their teachers found it necessary to supply 
them with a life of Jesus, written in their own language, 
that they might the more readily explain to them his 
claim to be obeyed, and the nature of his commands. 
The Gospel according to the Egjrptians, for such was the 
name this work bore, has long since been lost, and was 
little quoted by the Alexandrians. It was most likely 
a translation from one of the four gospels, though it had 
some different readings suited to its own church, and 
contained some praise of celibacy not found in the New 
Testament; but it was not valued by the Greeks, and 
was lost on the spread of the Koptic translation of the 
whole New Testament. 

The grave, serious Christians of Upper Egypt were 
very unlike the lively Alexandrians. But though the 
difference arose from peculiarities of national character. 


it was only spoken of as a difference of opinion. The 
Egyptians formed an ascetic sect in the church, who were 
called heretics by the Alexandrians, and named Docetse, 
because they taught that the Saviour was a god, and 
did not really suffer on the cross, but was crucified only 
in appearance. They of necessity used the Gospel ac- 
cording to the Egyptians, which is quoted by Cassianus, 
one of their writers; many of them renounced marriage 
with the other pleasures and duties of social life, and 
placed their chief virtue in painful self-denial; and 
out of them sprang that remarkable class of hermits, 
monks, and fathers of the desert who ia a few centuries 
covered Europe with monasteries. 

It is remarkable that the translation of a gospel into 
Koptic introduced a Greek alphabet into the Koptie 
language. Though for all religious purposes the scribes 
continued to use the ancient hieroglyphics, in which we 
trace the first steps by which pictures are made to rep- 
resent words and syllables rather than letters, yet for 
the common purposes of writing they had long since 
made use of the enchorial or common hand, in which the 
earlier system of writing is improved by the characters 
representing only letters, though sadly too numerous for 
each to have a fixed and well-known force. But, as the 
hieroglyphics were also always used for carved writing 
on all subjects, and the common hand only used on 
papyrus with a reed pen, the latter became wholly an 
indistinct running hand; it lost that beauty and regu- 
larity which the hieroglyphics, like the Greek and Roman 
characters, kept by being carved on stone, and hence 


it would seem arose the want of a new alphabet for the 
New Testament. This was made by merely adding to 
the Greek alphabet six new letters borrowed from the 
hieroglyphics for those somids which the Greeks did not 
use; and the writing was then written from left to right 
like a European language instead of in either direction 
according to the skill or fancy of the scribe. 

It was only upon the ancient hieroglyphics thus fall- 
ing into disuse that the Greeks of Alexandria, almost 
for the first time, had the curiosity to study the prin- 
ciples on which they were written, Clemens Alexan- 
drinus, who thought no branch of knowledge unworthy 
of his attention, gives a slight account of them, nearly 
agreeing with the results of our modern discoveries. 
He mentions the three kinds of writing; first, the Jiiero- 
glypJiic; secondly, the hieratic, which is nearly the same, 
but written with a pen, and less ornamental than the 
carved figures; and thirdly, the demotic, or common 
alphabetic writing. He then divides the hieroglyphic 
into the alphabetic and the symbolic; and lastly, he 
divides the symbolic characters into the imitative, the 
figurative, and those formed like riddles. As instances 
of these last we may quote, for the first, the three zig- 
zag lines which by simple imitation mean " water; " 
for the second, the oval which mean " a name," because 
kings' names were written within ovals; and for the 
third, a cup with three anvils, which mean " Lord of 
Battles," because " cup " and " lord " have nearly the 
same sound net, and " anvils " and '* battles " have 
nearly the same sound meshe. 


In this reign PantaBnus of Athens, a Stoic philosopher, 
held the first place among the Christians of Alexandria. 
He is celebrated for uniting the study of heathen learn- 
ing with a religious zeal which led him to preach Chris- 
tianity in Abyssinia. He introduced a taste for philos- 
ophy among the Christians; and, though Athenagoras 
rather deserves that honour, he was called the founder 
of the catechetical school which gave birth to the series 

SA/VSA/ I I iK^ 

\(WW > " ^t A 


of learned Christian writers that flourished in Alexan- 
dria for the next century. To have been a learned man 
and a Christian, and to have encouraged learning among 
the catechists in his schools may seem deserving of no 
great praise. Was the religion of Jesus to spread igno- 
rance and darkness over the world? But we must re- 
member that a new religion cannot be introduced without 
some danger that learning and science may get forbidden, 
together with the ancient superstitions which had been 
taught in the same schools; we shaU hereafter see that 


in the quarrels between pagans and Christians, and again 
between the several sects of Christians, learning was 
often reproached with being unfavourable to true rehg- 
ion; and then it will be granted that it was no small 
merit to have founded a school in which learning and 
Christianity went hand in hand for nearly two centuries. 
Pantsenus has left no writings of his own, and is best 
known through his pupil or feUow-student, Clemens. 
He is said to have brought with him to Alexandria, from 
the Jewish Christians that he met with on his travels, 
a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel in the original Hebrew, 
a work now unfortunately lost, which, if we possessed 
it, would settle for us the disputed point, whether or 
no it contained all that now bears that Apostle's name 
in the Greek translation. 

The learned, industrious, and pious Clemens, who, to 
distinguish him from Clemens of Rome, is usually called 
Clemens Alexandrinus, succeeded Pantaenus in the cate- 
chetical school, and was at the same time a voluminous 
writer. He was in his philosophy a platonist, though 
sometimes called of the Eclectic school. He has left 
an Address to the Gentiles, a treatise on Christian be- 
haviour called Pedagogus, and eight books of Stromata, 
or collections, which he wrote to describe the perfect 
Christian or Gnostic, to furnish the believer with a model 
for his imitation, and to save him from being led astray 
by the sects of Gnostics " falsely so called." By his 
advice, and by the imitation of Christ, the Christian is 
to step forward from faith, through love, to knowledge; 
from being a slave, he is to become a faithful servant 


and then a son; he is to become at last a god walking 
in the flesh. 

Clemens was not whoUy free from the mysticism 
which was the chief mark of the Gnostic sect. He 
thought much of the sacred power of numbers. Abra- 
ham had three himdred and eighteen servants when he 
rescued Lot, which, when written ia Greek numerals 
thus, IHT formed the sacred sign for the name of Jesus. 
Ten was a perfect number, and is that of the command- 
ments given to Moses. Seven was a glorious nimiber, 
and there are seven Pleiades, seven planets, seven days 
in the week; and the two fishes and five barley loaves, 
with which the multitude were miraculously fed, to- 
gether make the number of years of plenty in Egypt 
under Joseph. Clemens also quotes several lines in 
praise of the seventh day, which he says were from 
Homer, Hesiod, and Callimachus; but here there is rea- 
son to believe that he was deceived by the pious fraud 
of some zealous Jew or Christian, as no such lines are 
now to be found in the pagan poets. 

During the reign of Pertinax, which lasted only three 
months (194 a, d.) , we find no trace of his power in Egypt, 
except the money which the Alexandrians coined in his 
name. It seems to have been the duty of the prefect 
of the mint, as soon as he heard of an emperor's death, 
to lose no time in issuing coins in the name of his suc- 
cessor. It was one of the means to proclaim and secure 
the allegiance of the province for the new emperor. 

During the reign of Commodus, Pescennius Niger 
had been at the head of the legion that was employed in 


Upper Egypt in stopping the inroads of their trouble- 
some neighbours, who already sometimes bore the name 
of Saracens. He was a hardy soldier, and strict in his 
discipline, while he shared the labours of the field and 
of the camp with the men under him. He would not 
allow them the use of wine; and once, when the troops 
that guarded the frontier at Syene (Aswan) sent to ask 
for it, he bluntly answered, '^ You have got the Mle to 
drink, and cannot possibly want more." Once, when a 
cohort had been routed by the Saracens, the men com- 
plained that they could not fight without wine; but he 
would not relax in his discipline. " Those who have 
just now beaten you," said Niger, " drink nothing but 
water." He gained the love and thanks of the people 
of Upper Egypt by thus bridling the lawlessness of the 
troops; and they gave him his statue cut in black basalt, 
in allusion to his name Mger. This statue was placed 
in his Roman villa. 

But on the death of Pertinax, when Septimus Seve- 
rus declared himself emperor in Pannonia, Niger, who 
was then in the province of Syria, did the sa,me. Egypt 
and the Egyptian legions readily and heartily joined his 
party, which made it unnecessary for him to stay in that 
part of the empire; so he marched upon Greece, Thrace, 
and Macedonia. But there, after a few months, he was 
met by the army of his rival, who also sent a second 
army into Egypt; and he was defeated and slain at 
Cyzicus in Mysia, after having been acknowledged as 
emperor in Egypt and Syria for perhaps a year and a 
few months. We find no Alexandrian coins of Mger, 


O ? 




although we camiot allow a shorter space of time to Ms 
reign than one whole year, together with a few months 
of the preceding and following years. Within that time 
Severus had to march upon Rome against his first rival, 
Julian, to pimish the praetorian guards, and afterwards 
to conquer Niger. 

After the death of his rival, when Severus was the 
undisputed master of the empire, and was no longer 
wanted in the other provinces, he f oimd leisure, in a. d. 
196, to visit Egypt; and, like other active-minded travel- 
lers, he examined the pyramids of Memphis and the tem- 
ples at Thebes, and laughed at the worship of Serapis and 
"the Egyptian animals. His visit to Alexandria was 
marked by many new laws. Now that the G-reeks of 
that city, crushed beneath two centuries of foreign rule, 
had lost any remains of courage or of pride that could 
make them feared by their Roman master, he relaxed 
part of the strict policy of Augustus. He gave them a 
senate and a municipal form of government, a privilege 
that had hitherto been refused in distrust to that great 
city, though freely granted in other provinces where 
TebeUion was less dreaded. He also ornamented the city 
w^ith a temple to Rhea, and with a public bath, which 
was named after himself the Bath of Severus. 

Severus made a law, says the pagan historian, for- 
l3idding anybody, under a severe punishment, from be- 
•coming Jew or Christian. But he who gives the blow 
is likely to speak of it more lightly than he who smarts 
imder it; and we learn from the historian of the Church 
-that, in the tenth year of this reign, the Christians 


suffered persecution from their governors and their 
fellow-citizens. Among others who then lost their lives 
for their religion was Leonides, the father of Origen. 
He left seven orphan children, of whom the eldest, that 
justly celebrated writer, was only sixteen years old, but 
was already deeply read in the Scriptures, and in the- 
great writers of Greece. As the property of Leonides. 
was forfeited, his children were left in poverty; but the- 
young Origen was adopted by a wealthy lady, zealous' 
for the new religion, by whose help he was enabled to 
continue his studies under Clemens. In order to read 
the Old Testament in the original, he made himself 
master of Hebrew, which was a study then very unusual 
among the Greeks, whether Jews or Christians. 

In this persecution of the Church aU public worship 
was forbidden to the Christians; and TertuUian of 
Carthage eloquently complains that, while the emperor 
allowed the Egyptians to worship cows, goats, or croco- 
diles, or indeed any animal they chose, he only punished 
those that bowed down before the Creator and Governor 
of the world. Of course, at this time of trouble the cate- 
chetical school was broken up and scattered, so that 
there was no public teaching of Christianity in Alex- 
andria. But Origen ventured to do that privately which 
was forbidden to be done openly; and, when the storm 
had blown over, Demetrius, the bishop, appointed him 
to that office at the head of the school which he had 
already so bravely taken upon himself in the hour of 
danger. Origen could boast of several pupils who added 
their names to the noble list of martyrs who lost their 


lives for Christianity, among whom the best known was 
Plutarch, the brother of Heraclas. Origen afterwards 
removed for a time to Palestine, and fell tinder the dis- 
pleasure of his own bishop for being there ordained a 

In Egypt Severus seems to have dated the years of 
his reign from the death of Niger, though he had reigned 
in Rome since the deaths of Pertinax and Julian. His 
Egyptian coins are either copper, or brass plated with 
a little silver; and after a few reigns even those last 
traces of a silver coinage are lost in this falling country. 
In tracing the history of a word's meaning we often 
throw a light upon the customs of a nation. Thus, in 
Home, gold was so far common that avarice was called 
the love of gold; while in Greece, where sUver was the 
metal most in use, money was called argurion. In the 
same way it is curiously shown that silver was no longer 
used in Egypt by our finding that the brass coin of one 
hundred and ten grains weight, as being the only piece 
of money seen in circulation, was named an argurion. 

The latter years of the reign of Caracalla were spent 
in visiting the provinces of his wide empire; and, after 
he had passed through Thrace and Asia Minor, Egypt 
had the misfortune to be honoured by a visit from its 
emperor. The satirical Alexandrians, who in the midst 
of their own follies and vices were always clever in lash- 
ing those of their rulers, had latterly been turning their 
unseemly jokes against CaracaUa. They had laughed 
at his dressing like Achilles and Alexander the Great, 
while in his person he was below the usual height; and 


they had not forgotten his murder of his brother, and 
his talking of marrying his own mother. Some of these 
dangerous witticisms had reached his ears at Rome, 
and they were not forgotten. But Caracalla never 
showed his displeasure; and, as he passed through An- 
tioch, he gave out that he was going to visit the city 
founded by Alexander the Great, and to consult the 
oracle in the temple of Serapis. 

The Alexandrians in their joy got ready the heca- 
tombs for his sacrifices; and the emperor entered their 
city through rows of torches to the sound of soft music, 
while the air was sweetened with costly scents, and the 
road scattered with flowers. After a few days he sac- 
rificed in the temple of Serapis, and then visited the 
tomb of Alexander, where he took off his scarlet cloak, 
his rings, and his girdle covered with precious stones, 
and dutifully laid them on the sarcophagus of the hero. 
The Alexandrians were delighted with their visitor; and 
crowds flocked into the city to witness the daily and 
nightly shows, little aware of the unforgiving malice that 
was lurking in his mind. 

The emperor then issued a decree that all the youths 
of Alexandria of an age to enter the army should meet 
him in a plain on the outside of the city; they had already 
a Macedonian and a Spartan phalanx, and he was going 
to make an Alexandrian phalanx. Accordingly the plain 
was filled with thousands of young men, who were ranged 
in bodies according to their height, their age, and their 
fitness for bearing arms, while their friends and relations 
came in equal numbers to be witnesses of their honour. 


The emperor moved through their ranks, and was loudly 
greeted with their cheers, while the army which encircled 
the whole plain was gradually closing round the crowd 
and lessening the circle. When the ring was formed, 
Caracalla withdrew with his guards and gave the looked- 
for signal. The soldiers then lowered their spears and 
charged on the unarmed crowd, of whom a part were 
butchered and part driven headlong into the ditches and 
canals; and such was the slaughter that the waters of 
the Nile, which at midsummer are always red with the 
mud from the upper coimtry, were said to have flowed 
coloured to the sea with the blood of the sufferers. Cara- 
calla then returned to Antioch, congratulating himself 
on the revenge that he had taken on the Alexandrians 
for their jokes; not however till he had consecrated in 
the temple of Serapis the sword with which he boasted 
that he had slain his brother Greta. 

Caracalla also punished the Alexandrians by stopping 
the public games and the allowance of grain to the citi- 
zens; and, to lessen the danger of their rebelling, he had 
the fortifications carried between the rest of the city 
and the great palace-quarter, the Bruchium, thus divid- 
ing Alexandria into two fortified cities, with towers on 
the walls between them. Hitherto, under the Romans 
as under the Ptolemies, the Alexandrians had been the 
trusted favourites of their rulers, who made use of them 
to keep the Egyptians in bondage. But under Caracalla 
that policy was changed; the Alexandrians were treated 
as enemies; and we see for the first time Egyptians 
taking their seat in the Roman senate, and the Egyptian 


religion openly cultivated by the emperor, who then 
built a temple in Rome to the goddess Isis. 

On the murder of Caracalla in a. d. 217, Macrinus, 
who was thought to be the author of his death, was ac- 
knowledged as emperor; and though he only reigned 
for about two months, yet, as the Egyptian new year's 
day fell within that time, we find Alexandrian coins for 
the first and second years of his reign. The Egyptians 
pretended that the death of Caracalla had been foretold 
by signs from heaven; that a ball of fire had fallen on the 
temple of Serapis, which destroyed nothing but the 
sword with which Caracalla had slain his brother; and 
that an Egyptian named Serapion, who had been thrown 
into a lion's den for naming Macrinus as the future 
emperor, had escaped unhurt by the wild beasts. 

Macrinus recalled from Alexandria Julian, the pre- 
fect of Egypt, and appointed to that post his friend 
Basilianus, with Marius Secundus, a senator, as second 
in command, who was the first senator that had ever held 
command in Egypt. He was himself at Antioch when 
Bassianus, a Syrian, pretending to be the son of Cara- 
calla, offered himself to the legions as that emperor's 
successor. When the news reached Alexandria that the 
Syrian troops had joined the pretended Antoninus, the 
prefect Basilianus at once put to death the public cou- 
riers that brought the unwelcome tidings. But when, a 
few days afterwards, it was known that Macrinus had 
been defeated and killed, the doubts about his successor 
led to serious struggles between the troops and the Alex- 
andrians. The Alexandrians could have had no love for 


a son of Caracalla; Basilianus and Secundus had before 
declared against bim; but, on the other hand, the choice 
of the soldiers was guided by their brethren in Syria. 
The citizens flew to arms, and day after day was the 
battle fought in the streets of Alexandria between two 
parties, neither of whom was strong enough, even if 
successful, to have any weight in settling the fate of the 
Roman empire. Marius Secimdus lost his life in the 
struggle. The prefect Basilianus fled to Italy to escape 
from his own soldiers; and the province of Egypt then 
followed the example of the rest of the East in acknowl- 
edging the new emperor. 

For four years Rome was disgraced by the sover- 
eignty of Elagabalus, the pretended son of Caracalla, 
and we find his coins each year in Alexandria. He was 
succeeded by the young Alexander, whose amiable vir- 
tues, however, could not gain for bim the respect which 
he lost by the weakness of his government. The Alex- 
andrians, always ready to lampoon their rulers, laughed 
at his wish to be thought a Roman; they called him the 
Syrian, the high priest, and the ruler of the synagogue. 
And well might they think slightly of his government, 
when a prefect of Egypt owed his appointment to the 
emperor's want of power to punish him. Epagathus had 
headed a mutiny of the praetorian guards in Rome, in 
which their general Ulpian was killed; and Alexander, 
afraid to punish the murderers, made the ringleader of 
the rebels prefect of Eg3rpt in order to send him out of 
the way; so little did it then seem necessary to follow the 
cautious policy of Augustus, or to fear a rebellion in that 


province. But after a short time, when Epagathus had 
been forgotten by the Roman legion, he was removed 
to the government of Crete, and then at last punished 
with death. 

In this reign Anunonius Saccas became the founder 
of a new and most important school of philosophy, that 
of the Alexandrian platonists. He is only known to us 
through his pupils, in whose writings we trace the mind 
and system of the teacher. The most celebrated of these 
pupils were Plotinus, Herennius, and Origen, a pagan 
writer, together with Longinus, the great master of the 
'' sublime," who owns him his teacher in elegant hter- 
ature. Ammonius was unequalled in the variety and 
depth of his knowledge, and was by his followers called 
heaven-taught. He aimed at putting an end to the 
triflings and quarrels of the philosophers by showing 
that all the great truths were the same in each system, 
and by pointing out where Plato and Aristotle agreed 
instead of where they differed; or rather by cuUing 
opinions out of both schools of philosophy, and by gath- 
ering together the scattered limbs of Truth, whose lovely 
form had been hewn to pieces and thrown to the four 
winds like the mangled body of Osiris. 

Origen in the tenth year of this reign (a. d. 231) with- 
drew to Csesarea, on finding himself made uncomfortable 
at Alexandria by the displeasure of Demetrius the bishop; 
and he left the care of the Christian school to Heraclas, 
who had been one of his pupils. Origen's opinions met 
with no blame in Csesarea, where Christianity was not 
yet so far removed from its early simplicity as in Egypt. 



The Christians of Syria and Palestine highly prized his 
teaching when it was no longer valued in Alexandria. 
He died at Tyre in the reign of Gallus. 

On the death of Demetrius, Heraclas, who had just 
before succeeded Origen in the charge of the Christian 
school, was chosen Bishop of Alexandria; and Christian- 


ity had by that time so far spread through the cities of 
Upper and Lower Egypt that he found it necessary to 
ordain twenty bishops under him, while three had been 
found enough by his predecessor. From his being the 
head of the bishops, who were all styled fathers, Heraclas 
received the title of Papa, pope or grandfather, the title 
afterwards used by the bishops of Rome. 


Among the presbyters ordained by Heraclas was 
Amtnonius Saccas, the founder of the platonic school; 
but he afterwards forsook the religion of Jesus; and we 
must not mistake him for a second Alexandrian Christian 
of the name of Ammonius, who can hardly have been the 
same person as the former, for he never changed his 
religion, and was the author of the Evangelical Canons, 
a work afterwards continued by Eusebius of Csesarea. 

On the death of the Emperor Alexander, in a. d, 235, 
while Italy was torn to pieces by civil wars and by its 
generals' rival claims for the purple, the Alexandrians 
seem to have taken no part in the struggles, but to have 
acknowledged each emperor as soon as the news reached 
them that he had taken the title. In one year we find 
Alexandrian coins of Maximin and his son Maximus, 
with those of the two Gordians, who for a few weeks 
reigned in Carthage, and in the next year we again have 
coins of Maximin and Maximus, with those of Balbinus 
and Pupienus, and of Gordianus Pius. 

The Persians, taking advantage of the weakness in 
the empire caused by these civil wars, had latterly been 
harassing the eastern frontier; and it soon became the 
duty of the young Gordian to march against them in 
person. Hitherto the Roman armies had usually been 
successful; but unfortunately the Persians, or, rather, 
their Syrian and Arab allies, had latterly risen as much 
as the Romans had fallen off in courage and warlike skill. 
The army of Gordian was routed, and the emperor him- 
self slain, either by traitors or by the enemy. Hereafter 
we shall see the Romans paying the just penalty for 


the example that they had set to the surrouiidiag nations. 
They had taught them that conquest should be a people's 
chief aim, that the great use of strength was to crush 
a neighbour; and it was not long before Egypt and the 
other Eastern provinces suffered under the same treat- 
ment. So little had defeat been expected that the philo- 
sopher Plotinus had left his studies in Alexandria to 
join the army, in hopes of gaining for himself an insight 
into the Eastern philosophy that was so much talked of 
in Egypt. After the rout of the army he with difficulty 
escaped to Antioch, and thence he removed to Rome, 
where he taught the new platonism to scholars of all 
nations, including Serapion, the celebrated 
rhetorician, and Eustochius, the physician, 
from Alexandria. 

Philip, who is accused by the historians of 
being the author of G-ordian's death, succeeded 
him on the throne in 244; but he is only 
known in the history of Egypt by his Alex- 
andrian coins, which we find with the dates 
of each of the seven years of his reign, and 
these seem to prove that for one year he had 


EGYPT. ^QQj^ associated with G-ordian in the purple. 
In the reign of Decius, which began in 249, the Chris- 
tians of Egypt were again harassed by the zeal with 
which the laws against their religion were put in force. 
The persecution began by their fellow-citizens informing 
against them; but in the next year it was followed up 
by the prefect ^milianus; and several Christians were 
summoned before the magistrate and put to death. Many 


fled for safety to the desert and to Mount Sinai, where 
they fell into a danger of a different kind; they were 
taken prisoners by the Saracens and carried away as 
slaves. Dionysius, the Bishop of Alexandria, himself 
fled from the storm, and was then banished to the village 
of Cephro in the desert. But his flight was not without 
some scandal to the Church, as there were not a few 
who thought that he was called upon by his rank at least 
to await, if not to court, the pains of martyrdom. Indeed, 
the persecution was less remarkable for the sufferings 
of the Christians than for the numbers who failed in their 
courage, and renounced Christianity under the threats 
of the magistrate. Dionysius, the bishop, who had shown 
no courage himself, was willing to pardon their weakness, 
and after flt proof of sorrow again to receive them as 
brethren. But his humanity offended the zeal of many 
whose distance from the danger had saved them from 
temptation; and it was found necessary to summon a 
council at Rome to settle the dispute. In this assembly 
the moderate party prevailed; and some who refused 
to receive back those who had once fallen away from the 
faith were themselves turned out of the Church. 

Dionysius had succeeded Heraclas in the bishopric, 
having before succeeded him as head of the catechetical 
school. He was the author of several works, written in 
defence of the trinitarian opinions, on the one hand 
against the Egyptian Gnostics, who said that there were 
eight, and even thirty, persons in the Grodhead, and, on 
the other hand, against the Syrian bishop, Paul of Samo- 
sata, on the Euphrates, who said that Jesus was a man. 


and that the Word and Holy Spirit were not persons, but 
attributes, of God. 

But while Dionysius was thus engaged in a contro- 
versy with such opposite opinions, Egypt and Libya were 
giving birth to a new view of the trinity. Sabellius, 
Bishop of Ptolemais, near Cyrene, was putting forth the 
opinion that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were only 
three names for the one God, and that the creator of the 
world had himself appeared upon earth in the form of 
Jesus. Against this opinion Dionysius again engaged in 
controversy, arguing against Sabellius that Jesus was not 
the creator, but the first of created beings. 

The Christians were thus each generation changing 
more and more, sometimes leaning towards Greek poly- 
theism and sometimes towards Egyptian mysticism. As 
in each quarrel the most mysterious opinions were 
thought the most sacred, each generation added new 
mysteries to its religion; and the progress was rapid, 
from a practical piety, to a profession of opinions which 
they did not pretend to understand. 

During the reigns of Gallus, of ^^milius ^milianus, 
and of Valerian (a. d. 251—260), the Alexandrians coined 
money in the name of each emperor as soon as the news 
reached Egypt that he had made Italy acknowledge his 
title. Gallus and his son reigned two years and four 
months; ^milianus, who rebelled in Pannonia, reigned 
three months; and Valerian reigned about six years. 

Egypt, as a trading country, now suffered severely 
from the want of order and quiet government; and in 
particular since the reign of Alexander Severus it had 


been kept in a fever by rebellions, persecutions, and this 
unceasing change of rulers. Change brings the fear of 
change; and this fear checks trade, throws the labourer 
out of employment, and leaves the poor of the cities 
without wages and without food. Famine is followed 
by disease; and Egypt and Alexandria were visited ia 
the reign of Gallus by a dreadful plague, one of those 
scourges that force themselves on the notice of the his- 
torian. It was probably the same disease that in a less 
frightful form had been not uncommon in that country 
and in the lower parts of Syria. The physician Aretseus 
describes it imder the name of ulcers on the tonsils. It 
seems by the letters of Bishop Dionysius that in Alexan- 
dria the population had so much fallen off that the in- 
habitants between the ages of fourteen and eighty were 
not more than those between forty and seventy had been 
formerly, as appeared by old records then existing. The 
misery that the city had suffered may be measured by 
its lessened numbers. 

During these latter years the eastern half of the em- 
pire was chiefly guarded by Odenathus of Palmyra, the 
brave and faithful ally of Rome, under whose wise rule 
his country for a short time held a rank among the em- 
pires of the world, which it never could have gained but 
for an union of many favourable circimastances. The 
city and little state of Pahnyra is situated about mid- 
way between the cities of Damascus and Babylon. Sepa- 
rated from the rest of the world, between the Roman 
and the Parthian empires. Palmyra had long kept its 
freedom, while each of those great rival powers rather 



courted its friendship than aimed at conquering it. But, 
as the cause of Rome grew weaker, Odenathus wisely 
threw his weight into the lighter scale; and latterly, 
without aiming at conquest, he foimd himself almost the 
sovereign of those provinces of the Roman empire which 
were in danger of being overrun by the Persians, Vale- 
rian himself was conquered, taken prisoner, and put to 


death by Sapor, King of Persia; and Gallienus, his son, 
who was idling away his life in disgraceful pleasures 
in the West, wisely gave the title of emperor to Odena- 
thus, and declared him his colleague on the throne. 

No sooner was Valerian taken prisoner than every 
province of the Roman empire, feeling the sword power- 
less in the weak hands of Gallienus, declared its own 
general emperor; and when Macrianus, who had been 


left in command in Syria, gathered together the scattered 
forces of the Eastern army, and made himself emperor 
of the East, the Egyptians owned him as their sovereign. 
As Macrianus found his age too great for the activity 
required of a rebel emperor, he made his two sons, Mac- 
rianus, junior, and Quietus, his colleagues; and we find 
their names on the coins of Alexandria, dated the first 
and second years of their reign. But Macrianus was 
defeated by Dominitianus at the head of a part of the 
army of Aureolus, who had made himself emperor in 
Illyricimi, and he lost his life, together with one of his 
sons, while the other soon afterwards met with the same 
fate from Odenathus. 

After this, Egypt was governed for a short time in 
the name of Grallienus; but the fickle Alexandrians soon 
made a rebel emperor for themselves. The Roman re- 
public, says the historian, was often in danger from the 
headstrong giddiness of the Alexandrians. Any civihty 
forgotten, a place in the baths not yielded, a heap of 
rubbish, or even a pair of old shoes in the streets, was 
often enough to throw the state into the greatest danger, 
and make it necessary to call out the troops to put down 
the riots. Thus, one day, one of the prefect's slaves was 
beaten by the soldiers, for saying that his shoes were 
better than theirs. On this a riotous crowd gathered 
round the house of ^milianus to complain of the conduct 
of his soldiers. He was attacked with stones and such 
weapons as are usually within the reach of a mob. He 
had no choice but to call out the troops, who, when they 
had quieted the city and were intoxicated with their 


success, saluted him with the title of emperor; and hatred 
of Grallienus made the rest of the Egyptian army agree 
to their choice. 

This was in the year 265. The new emperor called 
himself Alexander, and was even thought to deserve the 
name. He governed Egypt during his short reign with 
great vigour. He led Ms army through the Thebaid, and 
drove back the barbarians with a courage and activity 
which had latterly been imcommon in the Egyptian army. 
Alexandria then sent no tribute to Rome. " Well! can- 
not we live without Egyptian hnen'? " was the forced 
joke of Gallienus, when the Romans were in alarm at 
the loss of the usual supply of grain. But ^milianus 
was soon beaten by Theodotus, the general of Gallienus, 
who besieged him in the strong quarter of Alexandria 
called the Bruchium, and then took him prisoner and 
strangled him. 

During this siege the ministers of Christianity were 
able to lessen some of the horrors of war by persuading 
the besiegers to allow the useless mouths to quit the 
blockaded fortress. Eusebius, afterwards Bishop of 
Laodicea, was without the trenches trying to lessen the 
cruelties of the siege; and Anatolius, the Christian peri- 
patetic, was within the walls, endeavouring to persuade 
the rebels to surrender. GalUenus in gratitude to his 
general would have granted him the honour of a pro- 
consular trimnph, to dazzle the eyes of the Alexandrians; 
but the policy of Augustus was not whoUy forgotten, and 
the emperor was reminded by the priests that it was 
unlawful for the consular fasces to enter Alexandria. 


The late Emperor Valerian had begun his reign with 
mild treatment of the Christians; but he was overper- 
suaded by the Alexandrians. He then allowed the power 
of the magistrate to be used, in order to check the Chris- 
tian religion. But in this weakness of the empire Glal- 
lienus could no longer with safety allow the Christians 
to be persecuted for their religion. Both their numbers 
and their station made it dangerous to treat them as 
enemies; and the emperor ordered all persecution to be 
stopped. The imperial rescript for that purpose was 
even addressed to " Dionysius, Pinna, Demetrius, and the 
other bishops; " it grants them full indulgence in the 
exercise of their religion, and by its very address almost 
acknowledges their rank in the state. By this edict of 
Gallienus the Christians were put on a better footing 
than at any time since their numbers brought them under 
the notice of the magistrate. 

When the bishop Dionysius returned to Alexandria, 
he foimd the place sadly ruined by the late siege. The 
middle of the city was a vast waste. It was easier, he 
says, to go from one end of Egypt to the other than to 
cross the main street which divided the Bruchium from 
the western end of Alexandria. The place was still 
marked with all the horrors of last week's battle. Then, 
as usual, disease and famine followed upon war. Not a 
house was without a funeral. Death was everywhere to 
be seen in its most ghastly form. Bodies were left un- 
buried in the streets to be eaten by the dogs. Men ran 
away from their sickening friends in fear. As the sun 
set they felt in doubt whether they should be alive to 


see it rise in the morning. Cowards hid their alarms in 
noisy amusements and laughter. Not a few in very de- 
spair rushed into riot and vice. But the Christians clung 
to one another in brotherly love; they visited the sick; 
they laid out and buried their dead; and many of them 
thereby caught the disease themselves, and died as mar- 
tyrs to the strength of their faith and love. 

As long as Odenathus lived, the victories of the Pal- 
myrenes were always over the enemies of Rome; but on 
his assassination, together with his son Herodes, though 
the armies of Palmyra were still led to battle with equal 
courage, its couasels were no longer guided with the same 
moderation. Zenobia, the widow of Odenathus, seized 
the command of the army for herself and her infant sons, 
Herennius and Timolaus; and her masculine courage and 
stern virtues well qualified her for the bold task that 

she had undertaken. She threw 
off the friendship of Eome, and 
routed the armies which Grallie- 
nus sent against her; and, claim- 
coiN OF ZENOBIA. jj^g j-q ^q dcsceuded from Cleo- 

patra, she marched upon Egypt, in 268 a. d., to seize the 
throne of her ancestors, and to add that kingdom to Syria 
and Asia Minor, which she already possessed. 

Zenobia 's army was led by her general, Zabda, who 
was joined by an Egyptian named Timogenes; and, with 
seventy thousand Palmyrenes, Syrians, and other bar- 
barians, they routed the Roman army of fifty thousand 
Egyptians under Probatus. The unfortunate Roman 
general put an end to his own life; but nevertheless the 


Palmyrenes were unsuccessful, and Egypt followed the 
example of Rome, and took the oaths to Claudius. For 
three years the coins of Alexandria bear the name of that 

On the death of Claudius, his brother QuintiUus 
assmned the purple in Europe (a. d. 270) ; and though 
he only reigned for seventeen days the Alexandrian mint 
found time to engrave new dies and to issue coined money 
in his name. 

On the death of Claudius, also, the Palmyrenes re- 
newed their attacks upon Egypt, and this second time 
with success. The whole kingdom acknowledged Zeno- 
bia as their queen; and in the fourth and fifth years of 
her reign in Palmyra we find her name on the Alexan- 
drian coins. The Greeks, who had been masters of Egypt 
for six hundred years, either in their own name or in 
that of the Roman emperors, were then for the first 
time governed by an Asiatic. Palmyra in the desert was 
then ornamented with the spoils of Egypt; and travellers 
yet admire the remains of eight large columns of red 
porphyry, each thirty feet high, which stood in front of 
the two gates to the great temple. They speak for them- 
selves, and teU their own history. From their material 
and form and size we must suppose that these columns 
were quarried between Thebes and the Red Sea, were 
cut into shape by Egyptian workmen under the guidance 
of Greek artists in the service of the Roman emperors; 
and were thence carried away by the Syrian queen 
to the oasis-city in the desert between Damascus and 


Zenobia was a handsome woman of a dark complex- 
ion, with an aquiline nose, quick, piercing eyes, and a 
masculine voice. She had the commanding qualities of 
Cleopatra^ from whom her flatterers traced her descent, 
and she was without her vices. While Syriac was her 
native tongue, she was not ignorant of Latin, which she 
was careful to have taught to her children; she carried 
on her government in G-reek, and could speak Koptic 
with the Egyptians, whose history she had studied and 
written upon. In her dress and manners she joined the 
pomp of the Persian court to the self-denial and military 
virtues of a camp. With these qualities, followed by 
a success in arms which they seemed to deserve, the world 
could not help remarking, that while Gallienus was wast- 
ing his time with fiddlers and players, in idleness that 
would have disgraced a woman, Zenobia was govern- 
ing her half of the empire like 
a man. 

Zenobia made Antioch and 
Palmyra the capitals of her 
COIN or ATHENODOKus. cmplre, aud Egypt became for 

the time a province of Syria. Her rehgion like her lan- 
guage was Syriac. The name of her husband, Odena- 
thus, means sacred to the goddess Adoneth, and that of 
her son, Vaballathus, means sacred to the goddess Baal- 
eth. But as her troops were many of them Saracens 
or Arabs, a people nearly the same as the Blemmyes, 
who already formed part of the people of Upper Egypt, 
this conquest gave a new rank to that part of the "popu- 
lation; and had the further result, important in after 


years, of causing them to be less quiet in their slavery 
to the Greeks of Alexandria. 

But the sceptre of Rome had lately been grasped by 
the firmer hand of AureUan, and the reign of Zenobia 
drew to a close. Aurelian at first granted her the title 
of his colleague in the empire, and we find Alexandrian 
coins with her head on one side and his on the other. But 
he lost no time in leading his forces into Syria, and, after 
routing Zenobia 's army in one or two battles, he took 
her prisoner at Emessa, He then led her to Rome, where, 
after being made the ornament of his triumph, she was 
allowed to spend the rest of her days in quiet, having 
reigned for four years in Pahnyra, though only for a 
few months in Egypt. 

On the defeat of Zenobia it would seem that Egypt 
and Syria were still left imder the government of one of 
her sons, with the title of colleague of Aurelian. The 
Alexandrian coins are then dated in the first year of 
Aurelian and the fourth of Vaballathus, or, according 
to the Greek translation of this name, of Athenodorus, 
who counted his years from the death of Odenathus. 

The young Herodes, who had been killed with his 
father Odenathus, was not the son of Zenobia, but of a 
former wife, and Zenobia always acted towards him with 
the unkindness unfortunately too common in a step- 
mother. She had claimed the throne for her infant sons, 
Herennius and Timolaus; and we are left in doubt by 
the historians about Vaballathus; Vopiscus, who calls 
him the son of Zenobia, does not tell us who was his 
father. We know but little of him beyond his coins; but 


from these we learn that, after reigning one year with 
Aurelian, he aimed at reigning alone, took the title of 
Augustus, and dropped the name of Aurelian from his 
coins. This step was very likely the cause of his over- 
throw and death, which happened in the year 271. 

On the overthrow of Zenobia's family, Egypt, which 
had been so fruitful in rebels, submitted to the Emperor 
Aurelian, but it was only for a few months. The Grreeks 
of Alexandria, now lessened in numbers, were found to 
be no longer masters of the kingdom. Former rebellions 
in Egypt had been caused by the two Roman legions and 
the Greek mercenaries sometimes claiming the right to 
appoint an emperor to the Roman world; but Zenobia's 
conquest had raised the Egyptian and Arab population 
in their own opinion, and they were no longer willing 
to be governed by an Alexandrian or European master. 
In 272 A. D. they set up Firmus, a native of Seleucia, who 
took the title of emperor; and, resting his power on that 
part of the population that had been treated as slaves 
or barbarians for six hundred years, he aimed at the 
conquest of Alexandria. 

Firmus was a man of great size and bodily strength, 
and, of course, barbarian manners. He had gained great 
riches by trade with India; and had a paper trade so 
profitable that he used to boast that he could feed an army 
on papyrus and glue. His house was furnished with 
glass windows, a luxury then but little known, and the 
squares of glass were fastened into the frames by means 
of bitumen. His chief strength was in the Arabs or 
Blemmyes of Upper Egypt, and in the Saracens who had 


lately been fighting against Rome under the standard of 
Zenobia. Firmus fixed his government at Koptos and 
Ptolemais, and held all Upper Egypt; but he either never 
conquered Alexandria, or did not hold it for many 
months, as for every year that he reigned in the Thebaid 
we find Alexandrian coins bearing the name of Aurehan. 
Firmus was at last conquered by Aurelian in person, 
who took htm prisoner, and had him tortured and then 
put to death. During these troubles Rome had been 
thrown into alarm at the thoughts of losing the usual 
supply of Egyptian grain, as since the reign of Elaga- 
balus the Roman granaries had never held more than was 
wanted for the year; but Aurelian hastened to send 
word to the Roman people that the country was again 
quiet, and that the yearly supplies, which had been de- 
layed by the wickedness of Firmus, would soon arrive. 
Had Firmus raised the Roman legions in rebeUion, he 
would have been honoured with the title of a rebel em- 
peror; but, as his power rested on the Egyptians and 
Arabs, Aurelian only boasted that he had rid the world 
of a robber. 

Another rebel emperor about this time was Domitius 
Domitianus; but we have no certain knowledge of the 
year in which he rebelled, nor, indeed, without the help 
of the coins should we know in what province of the 
whole Roman empire he had assumed the purple. The 
historian only tells us that in the reign of Aurelian the 
general Domitianus was put to death for aiming at a 
change. "We learn, however, from the coins that he 
reigned for part of a first and a second year in Egypt; 

1 "^ ; 

Vender of Metal Ware 

Vender of Metal Ware 


but the subject of Ms reign is not without its difficulties, 
as we find Alexandrian coins of Domitianus with Latin 
inscriptions, and dated in the third year of his reign. 
The Latin language had not at this time been used on 
the coins of Alexandria; and he could not have held 
Alexandria for any one whole year, as the series of Aure- 
lian's coins is not broken. It is possible that the Latin 
coins of Domitianus may belong to a second and later 
usurper of the same name. 

AureUan had reigned in Rome from the death of 
Claudius; and, notwithstanding the four rebels to whom 
we have given the title of sovereigns of Egypt, money was 
coined in Alexandria in his name during each of those 
years. His coinage, however, reminds us of the troubled 
and fallen state of the country; and from this time for- 
ward copper, or, rather, brass, is the only metal used. 

Aurelian left Probus in 
the command of the Egyp- 
tian army, and that gen- 
eral's skiU and activity 
found full employment in 

con, or DOMITIANUS WITH .a™ driviug back the barba- 

iNscBiPTioN. rians who pressed upon 

the province on each of the three sides on which it was 
open to attack. His first battles were against the Afri- 
cans and Marmaridae, who were in arms on the side of 
Cyrene, and he next took the field against the Palmy- 
renes and Saracens, who still claimed Egypt in the name 
of the family of Zenobia. He employed the leisure of 
his soldiers in many useful works; in repairing bridges, 


temples, and porticoes, and more particularly in widening 
the trenches and keeping open the canals, and in such 
other works as were of use in raising and forwarding the 
yearly supply of grain to Rome. Aurelian increased the 
amount of the Egyptian tribute, which was paid in glass, 
paper, linen, hemp, and grain; the latter he increased 
by one-twelfth part, and he placed a larger number of 
ships on the voyage to make the supply certain. 

The Christians were well treated during this reign, 
and their patriarch Nero so far took courage as to build 
the Church of St. Mary in Alexandria. This was prob- 
ably the first church that was built in Egypt for the 
public service of Christianity, which for two hundred 
years had been preached in private rooms, and very often 
in secret. The service was in Greek, as, indeed, it was 
in all parts of Egypt : for it does not appear that Chris- 
tian prayers were publicly read in the Egyptian, language 
before the quarrel between the two churches made the 
Kopts unwilling to use Greek prayers. The liturgy there 
read was probably very nearly the same as that after- 
wards known as the Liturgy of St. Mark. This is among 
the oldest of the Christian liturgies, and it shows its 
country by the prayer that the waters of the river may 
rise to their just measure, and that rain may be sent 
from heaven to the countries that need it. 

We learn from the historians that eight months were 
allowed to pass between the death of Aurelian and the 
choice of a successor; and during this time the power 
rested in the hands of his widow. The sway of a woman 
was never openly acknowledged in Rome, but the 



Alexandrians and Egyptians were used to female rule, 
and from contemporary coins we learn that in Egypt tlie 
government was carried on in the name of the Empress 
Severina. The last coins of Aurelian bear the date of 
the sixth year of his reign, and the coias of Severina are 
dated in the sixth and seventh years. But after Tacitus 
was chosen emperor by his colleagues of the Roman 
senate, and during his short reign of six months (a. d. 
276), his authority was obeyed by the Egyptian legions 
rnider Probus, as is fully proved by the Alexandrian coins 
bearing his name, aU dated in the first year of his reign. 
On the death of Tacitus, his brother Plorian hoped to 
succeed to the imperial power, and was acknowledged 
in the same year by the senate and troops of Rome. 
But when the news reached Egypt it was at once felt 
by the legions that Probus, both by his own personal 
qualities and by the high state of discipline of the army 

under his command, and by 
his success against the Egyp- 
tian rebels, had a better claim 
to the purple than any other 
general. At first the opinion 
ran round the camp in a 
whisper, and at last the army spoke the general wish 
aloud; they snatched a purple cloak from a statue in 
one of the temples to throw over him, they placed him 
on an earthen mound as a tribunal, and against his will 
saluted him with the title of emperor. The choice of the 
Egyptian legions was soon approved of by Asia Minor, 
Syria, and Italy; Florian was put to death, and Probus 



shortly afterwards marched into Gaul and "Germany, to 
quiet those provinces. 

After a year or two, Probus was recalled into Egypt 
by hearing that the Blemmyes had risen in arms, and that 
Upper Egypt was again independent of the Roman 
power. Not only Koptos, which had for centuries been 
an Arab city, but even Ptolemais, the Greek capital of 
the Thebaid, was now peopled by those barbarians, and 
they had to be reconquered by Probus as foreign cities, 
and kept in obedience by Roman garrisons; and on 
his return to Rome he thought his victories over the 
Blemmyes of Upper Egypt not unworthy of a triumph. 

By these unceasing wars, the Egyptian legions had 
lately been brought into a high state of discipline; and, 
confident in their strength, and in the success with which 
they had made their late general emperor of the Roman 
world, they now attempted to raise up a rival to him 
in the person of their present general Saturninus. Sat- 
uminus had been made general of the Eastern frontier 
by Aurelian, who had given him strict orders never to 
enter Egypt. " The Egyptians," says the historian, 
meaning, however, the Alexandrians, '' are boastful, vain, 
spiteful, licentious, fond of change, clever in making 
songs and epigrams against their rulers, and much given 
to soothsaying and augury." Aurelian well knew that 
the loyalty of a successful general was not to be trusted 
in Egypt, and during his lifetime Saturninus never en- 
tered that province. But after his death, when Probus 
was called away to the other parts of the empire, the 
government of Egypt was added to the other duties of 


Satumiiius; and no sooner was he seen there, at the head 
of an army that seemed strong enough to enforce his 
wishes, than the fickle Alexandrians saluted him with 
the title of emperor and Augustus. But Satumiaus was 
a wise man, and shimned the dangerous honour; he had 
hitherto fought always for his country; he had saved 
the provinces of Spain, Graul, and Africa from the enemy 
or from rebellion; and he knew the value of his rank and 
character too well to fling it away for a bauble. To 
escape from further difficulties he withdrew from Egypt, 
and moved his headquarters into Palestine. But the 
treasonable cheers of the Alexandrians could neither be 
forgotten by himself nor by his troops ; he had withstood 
the calls of ambition, but he yielded at last to his fears; 
he became a rebel for fear of being thought one, and he 
declared himself emperor as the safest mode of escaping 
punishment. But he was soon afterwards defeated and 

strangled, against the will of 
the forgiving Probus. 

On the death of Probus, in 
A. D. 283, the empire fell to 
anus and Carinus, whose names are found on the Alex- 
andrian coins, but whose short reigns have left no other 
trace in Egypt. At this time also we find upon the coins 
the name of Trajan's second Egyptian legion, which was 
at all times stationed in Egypt, and which, acting upon 
an authority that was usually granted to the Roman 
legions in the various provinces, coined money of several 
kinds for their own pay. 


The reign of Diocletian, beginning in a. d. 285, was one 
of suffering to tlie Egyptians; and in the fourth year 
the j)eople rose against the Roman government, and gave 
the title of emperor to Achilleus, their leader in the re- 
bellion. Galerius, the Roman general, led an army against 
the rebels, and marched through the whole of the The- 
baid; but, though the Egyptians were routed whenever 
they were bold enough to meet the legions in battle, yet 
the rebellion was not very easily crushed. The Romans 
were scarcely obeyed beyond the spot on which their 
army was encamped. In the fourth year of the rebellion, 
A. D. 292, Diocletian came to Egypt, and the cities of 
Koptos and Busiris were besieged by the emperor in 
person, and wholly destroyed after a regular siege. 

When Diocletian reached the southern limits of Egypt 
he was able to judge of the difficulty, and indeed the 
uselessness, of trying to hold any part of Ethiopia; and 
he found that the tribute levied there was less than the 
cost of the troops required to collect it. He therefore 
made a new treaty with the Nobatse, as the people be- 
tween the first and second cataracts were now called. 
He gave up to them the whole of Lower Ethiopia, or the 
province called Nubia. The valley for seventy miles 
above Syene, which bore the name of the Dodecaschoenos, 
had been held by Augustus and his successors, and this 
was now given up to the original inhabitants. Diocletian 
strengthened the fortifications on the isle of Elephantine, 
to guard what was thenceforth the uttermost point of 
defence, and agreed to pay to the Nobatse and Blemmyes 
a yearly sum of gold on the latter promising no longer 


to harass Upper Egypt with their marauding inroads, 
and on the former promising to forbid the Blemmyes 
from doing so. What remains of the Roman wall built 
against the inroads of these troublesome neighbours rims 
along the edge of the cultivated land on the east side of 
the river for some distance to the north of the cataract. 
But so much was the strength of the Greek party 
lessened, and so deeply rooted among the Egyptians was 
their hatred of their rulers and the belief that they should 
then be able to throw off the yoke, that soon afterwards 
Alexandria declared in favour of Achilleus, and Diocle- 
tian was again called to Egypt to regain the capital. 
Such was the strength of the rebels that the city could 
not be taken without a regular siege. Diocletian sur- 
rounded it with a ditch and wall, and turned aside the 
canals that supplied the citizens with water. After a 
tedious siege of eight months, Alexandria was at last 
taken by storm in 297, and Achilleus was put to death. 
A large part of the city was burnt at the storming, nor 
would the punishment of the citizens have there ended, 
but for Diocletian's humane interpretation of an accident. 
The horse on which he sat stumbled as he entered the 
city with his troops, and he had the humanity to under- 
stand it as a command from heaven that he should stop 
the pillage of the city; and the citizens in gratitude 
erected near the spot a bronze statue of the horse to 
which they owed so much. This statue has long since 
been lost, but we cannot be mistaken in the place where 
it stood. The lofty column in the centre of the temple 
of Serapis, now well known by the name of Pompey's 


Pillar/ once held a statue on the top, and on the base 
it still bears the inscription of the grateful citizens, " To 
the most honoured emperor, the saviour of Alexandria, 
the imconquerable Diocletian." 

This rebellion had lasted more than nine years, and 
the Egyptians seemed never in want of money for the 
purposes of the war. Diocletian was struck with their 
riches, and he ordered a careful search to be made through 
Egypt for all writings on alchemy, an art which the 
Egyptians studied together with magic and astrology. 
These books he ordered to be burnt, under a belief that 
they were the great sources of the riches by which his 
own power had been resisted. Want and misery no doubt 
caused this rebellion, but the rebellion certainly caused 
more want and misery. The navigation of the Nile was 
stopped, the canals were no longer kept cleared, the fields 
were badly tilled, trade and manufactures were ruined. 
Since the rebellions against the Persians, Egypt had 
never suffered so much. It had been sadly changed by 
the troubles of the last sixty years, during which it had 
been six times in arms against Rome; and when the 
rebellion was put down by Diocletian, it was no longer 
the same country that it had been under the Antonines. 
The framework of society had been shaken, the Greeks 
had lessened in nmnbers, and still more in weight. The 
fall of the Ptolemies, and the conquest by Rome, did not 
make so great a change. The bright days of Egypt as 
a Greek kingdom began with the building of Alexandria, 
and they ended with the rebellions against Gallienus, 

iSee Volume X, page 317. 


Anrelian and Diocletian. The native Egyptians, both 
Kopts and Arabs, now rise into more notice, as the Grreek 
civilisation sinks around them. And soon the upper 
classes among the Kopts, to avoid the duty of maintain- 
ing a family of children in such troubled times, rush by 
thousands into monasteries and convents, and further 
lessen the population by their religious vows of celibacy. 

In the twelfth year of the reign, that in which Alex- 
andria rebelled and the siege was begun, the Egyptian 
coinage for the most part ceased. Henceforth, though 
money was often coined in Alexandria as in every other 
great city of the empire, the inscriptions were usually 
in Latin, and the designs the same as those on the coins 
of Rome. In taking leave of this long and valuable series 
of coins with dates, which has been our guide in the 
chronology of these reigns, we must not forget to ac- 
knowledge how much we owe to the labours of the learned 
Zoega. In his Numi ^gypti Imperatorii, the mere de- 
scriptions, almost without a remark, speak the very 
words of history. 

The reign of Diocletian is chiefly remarkable for the 
new law which was then made against the Christians, 
and for the cruel severity with which it was put into 
force. The issuing of this edict in 304 a. d., which was 
to root out Christianity from the world, took place in 
the twentieth year of the reign, according to the Alex- 
andrians, or in the nineteenth year after the emperor's 
first installation as consul, as years were reckoned in 
the other parts of the empire. The churches, which since 
the reign of Gallienus had been everywhere rising, were 


ordered to be destroyed and the Bibles to be biimt, while 
banishment, slavery, and death were the punishments 
threatened against those who obstinately climg to their 
religion. In no province of the empire was the perse- 
cution more severe than in Egypt; and many Christians 
fled to Syria, where the law, though the same, was more 
mildly carried into execution. But the Christians were 
too munerous to fly and too few to resist. The ecclesias- 
tical writers present us with a sad tale of tortures and 
of death borne by those who refused to renounce their 
faith,— a tale which is only made less sad by the doubt 
how far the writers' feelings may have misled their 
judgment, and made them overstate the numbers. 

But We may safely rely upon the account which Euse- 
bius gives us of what he himself saw in Egypt. Many 
were put to death on the same day, some beheaded and 
some burnt. The executioners were tired, and the hearts 
of the pagan judges melted by the unflinching firmness 
of the Christians. Many who were eminent for wealth, 
rank, and learning chose to lay down their lives rather 
than throw a few grains of wheat upon the altar, or com- 
ply with any ceremony that was required of them as a 
religious test. The judges begged them to think of their 
wives and children, and pointed out that they were the 
cause of their own death; but the Christians were usually 
firm, and were beheaded for the refusal to take the test. 
Among the most celebrated of the Egyptian martyrs 
were Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, with Faustus, Dius, 
and Ammonius, presbyters under him; the learned Phi- 
leas, Bishop of Thmuis, Hesychius, the editor of the 


Septuagint, and the Bishops Pachomius and Theodorus; 
though the pagans must have been still more surprised 
at Philoromus, the receiver-general of the taxes at Alex- 
andria. This man, after the prefect of Egypt and the 
general of the troops, was perhaps the highest Roman 
officer in the province. He sat in public as a judge in 
Alexandria, surrounded by a guard of soldiers, daily de- 
ciding all causes relating to the taxes of Egypt. He was 
accused of no crime but that of being a Christian, which 
he was earnestly entreated to deny, and was at liberty 
indirectly to disprove by joining in some pagan sacrifice. 
The Bishops of Alexandria and Thmuis may have been 
strengthened imder their trials by their rank in the 
church, by having themselves urged others to do their 
duty in the same case, but the receiver-general of the 
taxes could have had nothing to encourage him but the 
strength of his faith and a noble scorn of falsehood; he 
was reproached or ridiculed by all around him, but he 
refused to deny his religion, and was beheaded as a 
common criminal. 

The ready ministers of this persecution were Culei- 
anus, the prefect of the Thebaid, and Hierocles, the pre- 
fect of Alexandria. The latter was peculiarly well 
chosen for the task; he added the zeal of the theologian 
to the ready obedience of the soldier. He had written 
against the Christians a work named PMlaletlies (the 
lover of truth), which we now know only in the answer 
by Eusebius of Csesarea. In this he denounced the 
apostles as impostors, and the Christian miracles as 
tr iflin g; and, comparing them with the pretended 


miracles of ApoUonius of Tyana, he pronounced the latter 
more numerous, more important, and better authentiT 
cated than the former by the evangelists; and he ridi- 
culed the Christians for calling Jesus a god, while the 
pagans did not raise ApoUonius higher than a man be- 
loved by the gods. 

This persecution under Diocletian was one of the 
most severe that the Christians ever underwent from 
the Eomans. It did not, however, wholly stop the relig- 
ious services, nor break up the regular government of 
the Church. In the catechetical school, Pierius, whom we 
have before spoken of as a man of learning, was suc- 
ceeded by Theognostus and then by Serapion, whose 
name reminds us that the Egyptian party was gaining 
weight in the Alexandrian church. It can hardly have 
been for his superior learning, it may have been because 
his opinions were becoming more popiilar than those 
of the Greeks, that a professor with an Egyptian name 
was placed at the head of the catechetical school. Se- 
rapion was succeeded by Peter, who afterwards gained 
the bishopric of Alexandria and a martyr's crown. But 
these men were little known beyond their lecture-room. 
In the twentieth year of the reign, on the death of Peter, 
the Bishop of Alexandria, who lost his life as a martyr, 
the presbyters of the church met to choose a successor. 
Among their number was Arius, whose name afterwards 
became so famous in ecclesiastical history, and who had 
already, even before he was ordained a priest, offended 
many by the bold manner in which he stated his religious 
opinions. But upon him, if we may believe a partial 


historian, tlie majority of votes fell in the choice of a 
patriarch of Alexandria, and had he not himself mod- 
estly given way to the more ambitious Alexander, he 
might perhaps have been saved from the treatment which 
he afterwards suffered from his rival. 

When, in the year 305, Diocletian and his colleague, 
Valerius Maximian, resigned the purple, Egypt with the 
rest of the East was given to Galerius, who had also as 
Caesar been named Maximian on his Egyptian coins, 
while Constantius Chlorus ruled the West. Galerius in 
307 granted some slight indulgence to the Christians 
without wholly stopping the persecution. But all favour 
was again withdrawn from them by his successor Max- 
imin, who had indeed misgoverned Egypt for some years, 
under the title of Caesar, before the rank of Augustus 
was granted to him. He encouraged private informers, 
he set townsman against townsman; and, as the wishes 
of the emperor are quickly understood by all under him, 
those who wished for his favour courted it by giving 
him an excuse for his cruelties. The cities sent up petiT 
tions to him, begging that the Christians might not be 
allowed to have churches within their walls. The his- 
tory of these reigns indeed is little more than the history 
of the persecutions; and when the Alexandrian astron- 
omers, dropping the era of Augustus, began to date from 
the first year of Diocletian, the Christian writers in the 
same way dated from the Era of the Martyrs. 

It can be no matter of surprise to us that, in a per- 
secution which threatened all classes of society, there 
should have been many who, when they were accused of 


being Christians, wanted the courage to undergo the 
pains of martyrdom, and escaped the punishment by 
joining in a pagan sacrifice. When the storm was blown 
over, these men again asked to be received into the 
Church, and their conduct gave rise to the very same 
quarrel that had divided the Christians in the reign of 
Decius, Meletius, a bishop of the Thebaid, was at the 
head of the party who would make no allowance for the 
weakness of their brethren, and who refused to grant 
to the repentant the forgiveness that they asked for. He 
had himself borne the same trials without bending, he 
had been sent as a criminal to work in the Egyptian 
mines, and had returned to Alexandria from his banish- 
ment, proud of his sufferings and furious against those 
who had escaped through cowardice. But the larger part 
of the bishops were of a more forgiving nature; they 
could not aU boast of the same constancy, and the re- 
pentant Christians were re-admitted into communion 
with the faithful, while the followers of Meletius were 
branded with the name of heretics. 

In Alexandria, Meletius soon found another and, as 
it proved, a more memorable occasion for the display 
of his zeal. He has the unenviable honour of being the 
author of the great Arian quarrel, by accusing of heresy 
Arius, at that time a presbyter of the church of Baucala 
near Alexandria, and by calling upon Alexander, the 
bishop, to inquire into his belief, and to condemn it if 
found unsound. Arius frankly and openly acknowledged 
his opinions: he thought Jesus a created being, and 
would speak of him in no higher terms than those used 



in the New Testament and Apostles' Creed, and defended 
his opinions by an appeal to the Scriptures. But he soon 
found that his defence was thought weak, and, without 
waiting to be condemned, he withdrew before the storra 
to Palestine, where he remained tiU summoned before 
the council of Nicsea in the coming reign. 

It was during these reigns of trouble, about which 
history is sadly silent, when G-reek learning was sinking, 
and after the country had been for a year or two in the 
power of the Syrians, that the worship of Mithra was 
brought into Alexandria, where superstitious ceremonies 
and philosophical subtleties were equally welcome. 
Mithra was the Persian god of the sun; and in the 
system of two gods, one good and the other wicked, he 

was the god of goodness. 
The chief symbol in his wor- 
ship was the figure of a 
young hero in Phrygian cap 
and trousers, mounted on a 
sinking bull, and stabbing it 
in sacrifice to the god. In 
a deserted part of Alexan- 
dria, called the Mithrium, 
his rites were celebrated 
among ruins and rubbish; 
and his ignorant followers were as ignorantly accused 
of there slaying their feUow-eitizens on his altars. 

It was about the same time that the eastern doctrine 
of Manicheism was said to have been brought into Egypt 
by Papus, and Thomas or Hermas. This sect, if sect 



it may be called, owed its origin to a certain Majus Mani, 
banished from Persia imder the Sassanides; this Mani 
was a talented man, highly civilised through his studies 
and voyages in distant lands. In his exile he conceived 
the idea of putting himself forward as the reformer of 
the religions of all the peoples he had visited, and of 
reducing them all to one universal religion. Banished 
by the Christians, to whom he represented himself as 
the divinely inspired apostle of Jesus, in whom the 
Comforter had appeared, he returned to Persia, taking 
with him a book of the Gospels adorned by extraordinary 
paintings. Here he obtained at first the favour of the 
king and the people, till finally, after many changes of 
fortune, he was pursued by the magi, and convicted in 
a solemn disputation of falsifying religion; he was con- 
demned to the terrible punishment of being flayed alive, 
after which his skin was to be stuffed and hung up over 
the gates of the royal city. His teaching consisted in a 
mixture of Persian and Christian-Gnostic views; its 
middle final point was the dualism of good and evil which 
rules in the world and in the human breast. 

According to Mani's creed, there were originally two 
principles, God in His kingdom of light, and the demon 
with his kingdom of darkness, and these two principles 
existed independently of each other. The powers of 
evil fell into strife with each other, until, hurled away 
by their inward confusion, they reached the outermost 
edge of their own kingdom, and from there beheld the 
kingdom of light in all its glory. Now they ceased their 
strife among themselves and united to do battle to the 


kingdom of light. To meet them, God created the '* orig- 
inal man," who, armed with the five pure elements, light, 
fire, air, water, and earth, advanced to meet the hostile 
powers. He was defeated, though finally saved; but a 
part of his light had thus made its way into the reahn 
of darkness. In order gradually to regain this light, 
God caused the mother of life to create the visible world, 
in which that light lies hidden as a living power or world- 
soul awaiting its deliverance from the bonds of matter. 
In order to accomplish this redemption, two new beings 
of light proceed from God, viz.: Christ and the Holy 
Ghost, of whom the former, Christus Mithras, has his 
abode in the sun and moon, the latter in the ether 
diffused around the entire world. Both attract the pow- 
ers of light which have sunk into the material world in 
order to lead them back, finally, into the everlasting 
reahn of light. To oppose them, however, the demons 
created a new beiag, viz. : man, after the example of the 
*' original man," and united in him the clearest light and 
the darkness peculiar to themselves, in order that the 
great strife might be renewed in his breast, and so man 
became the point of union of all the forces in the uni- 
verse, the microcosm in which two principles ever strive 
for the mastery. Through the enticements of the ma- 
terial and the illusions of the demon, the soul of light was 
held in bondage in spite of its indwelling capacity for 
freedom, so that in heathenism and Judaism the " son 
of everlasting light," as the soul of the universe, was 
chained to matter. In order to accomplish this work 
of redemption more quickly, Christ finally leaves his 


throne at God's right hand, and appears on earth, truly 
in human form, but only with an apparent body; his 
suffering and death on the cross are but illusions for the 
multitude, although historical facts, and they serve at 
the same time as a symbol of the light imprisoned in 
matter, and as a typical expression of the suffering, 
poured out over the whole of nature (especially in the 
plant-world), of the great physical weltschmerz. Christ, 
through his teaching and power of attraction, began the 
deliverance of the light, so that one can truly say that 
the salvation of the world proceeds from rays which 
stream from the Cross; as, however, his teachings were 
conceived by the apostles in a Jewish sense, and the 
Gospels were disfigured, Mani appeared as the comforter 
promised by Christ to accomplish the victory. In his 
writings only is the pure truth preserved. Finally there 
will be a complete separation of the light from the dark- 
ness, and then the powers of darkness will fall upon each 
other again. 

The ignorant in all ages of Christianity seem to have 
held nearly the same opinion in one form or other, think- 
ing that sin has arisen either from a wicked being or 
from the wickedness of the flesh itself. The Jews alone 
proclaimed that God created good and God created evil. 
But we know of few writers who have ever owned them- 
selves Manicheans, though many have been reproached 
as such; their doctrine is now known only in the works 
written against it. Of all heresies among the Christians 
this is the one most denounced by the ecclesiastical 
writers, and most severely threatened by the laws when 


the law makers became Christian; and of all the accu- 
sations of the angry controversialists this was the most 
reproachful. We might almost think that the numerous 
fathers who have written against the Manicheans must 
have had an easy victory when the enemy never appeared 
in the field, when their writings were scarcely answered, 
or their arguments denied; but perhaps a juster view 
would lead us to remark how much the writers, as well 
as the readers, must have felt the difficulty of accounting 
for the origin of evil, since men have run into such wild 
opinions to explain it. 

Another heresy, which for a time made even as much 
noise as the last, was that of Hieraeas of Leontopolis. 
Even in Egypt, where for two thousand years it had been 
the custom to make the bodies of the dead into mummies, 
to embalm them against the day of resurrection, a custom 
which had been usually practised by the Christians, this 
native Egyptian ventured to teach that nothing but the 
soul would rise from the dead, and that we must look 
forward to only a spiritual resurrection. Hieraeas was a 
man of some learning, and, much to the vexation of those 
who opposed his argmnents, he could repeat nearly the 
whole Bible by heart. 

The Bishop Hesychius, the martyr in the late perse- 
cution, was one of the learned men of the time. He 
had published a new edition of the Septuagint Old Tes- 
tament, and also of the New Testament. This edition 
was valued and chiefly used in -Egypt, while that by 
Lucianus, who suffered in the same persecution, was 
read in Asia Minor from Constantinople to Antioch, 



and the older edition by Origen remained in use in 
Palestine. But such was the credit of Alexandria, as 
the chief seat of Christian learning, that distant churches 
sent there for copies of the Scriptures, foreign transla- 
tions were mostly made from Alexandrian copies, and 
the greater number of Christians even now read the 
Bible according to the edition by Hesychius. We must, 
however, fear that these editors were by no means judi- 
cious in their labours. 
From the text itself we 
can learn that the early 
copiers of the Bible 
thought those manu- 
scripts most valuable 
which were most full. 
Many a gloss and mar- 
ginal note got written 
into the text. Their 
devotional feelings 
blinded their critical 
judgment ; and they 
never ventured to put 
aside a modern addi- 
tion as spurious. This 
mistaken view of their 
duty had of old guided 
the Hebrew copiers in 
Jerusalem; and though 
in Alexandria a juster criticism had been applied to the 
copies of Homer, it was not thought proper to use the 







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same good sense wlien making copies of the Bible. So 
strong was the habit of grafting the additions into the 
text that the Greek translation became more copious 
than the Hebrew original, as the Latin soon afterwards 
became more copious than the Greek. 

It was about this time, at least after Theodotion's 
translation of Daniel had received the sanction of the 
Alexandrian church, and when the teachers of Christian- 
ity found willing hearers in every city of Egypt, that the 
Bible was translated into the language of the country. 
We have now parts of several Koptic versions. They 
are translated closely, and nearly word by word from 
the Greek; and, being meant for a people among whom 
that language had been spoken for centuries, about one 
word in five is Greek. The Thebaic and Bashmuric 
versions may have been translated from the edition by 
Hesychius; but the Koptic version seems older, and its 
value to the Biblical critic is very great, as it helps us, 
with the quotations in Origen and Clemens, to distin- 
guish the edition of the sacred text which was then used 
in Alexandria, and is shown in the celebrated Vatican 
manuscript, from the later editions used afterwards in 
Constantinople and Italy, when Christian literature 
flourished in those countries. 

The Emperor Maximin died at Tarsus in a. d. 313, 
after being defeated by Licinius, who like himself had 
l)een raised to the rank of Augustus by Galerius, and to 
whom the empire of Egypt and the East then fell, while 
Constantine, the son of Constantius, governed Italy and 
the West. Licinius held his empire for ten years against 



the growing strength of his colleague and rival; but 
the ambition of Constantine increased with his power, 
and Licinius was at last forced to gather together his 
army m Thrace, to defend himself from an attack. His 
forces consisted of one hundred and fifty thousand foot, 
fifteen thousand horse, and three hundred and fifty 
triremes, of which Egypt furnished eighty. He was 
defeated near Adrianople; and then, upon a promise 
that his life should be spared, he surrendered to Con- 
stantine at Nicomedia. But the promise was forgotten 
and Licinius hanged, and the Roman world was once 
more governed by a single emperor. 




The Ascendency of the new religion : The Aiian controversies : The Zenith 
of monasticism: The final struggle of Paganism: The decline of 


] OMINGr under tlie Eoman sway, 
the Greek world underwent, 
not only politically but also in- 
tellectually, a complete change. 
As the Roman conquest had worn 
away all political differences and 
national divergences, and, by unit- 
ing the various races under the 
rule of the empire was bringing 
to its consummation the work 
begun by the Macedonian con- 
queror, it could not fail to influ- 
ence the train of thought. On 
the one hand the political and ideal structure of Greek 
life was crumbling and bringing down the support and 




guiding principle supplied by the duties of citizenship 
and the devotion to the commonwealth. Man was thrown 
upon himself to find the principles of conduct. The 
customary morality and religion had been shaken in 
their foundations. The belief in the old gods and the 
old religion was undermined. Philosophy endeavoured 
to occupy the place left vacant by the gradual decay of 
the national religion. The individual, seeking for sup- 
port and spiritual guidance, found it, or at least imag- 
ined he had found it, in philosophy. The conduct of 
life became the fundamental problem, and philosophy 
assumed a practical aspect. It aimed at finding a com- 
plete art of living. It had a thoroughly ethical stamp, 
and became more and more a rival of and opposed to 
religion. Such were the tendencies of the Stoic and Epi- 
curean schools. The Roman rule was greatly favourable 
to such a development of thought. The Romans were 
a practical nation, had no conception of nor appreciation 
for purely theoretical problems, and demanded practical 
lessons and philosophical investigations which would 
serve as a guide for life. Thus the political tendency 
of the time towards practical wisdom had imparted a 
new direction to philosophical thought. Yet, as time 
went on, a deep feeling of dissatisfaction seized the 
ancient world in the midst of all the glories of the Roman 
rule. This huge empire could offer to the peoples, which 
it had welded into one mighty unit, no compensation 
for the loss of their national independence; it offered 
them no inner worth nor outer fortune. There was a 
complete discord running through the entire civilisation 


of the Graeco-Roman world. The social condition of the 
empire had brought with it extreme contrasts in the 
daily Ufe. The contrasts had become more pronounced. 
Abundance and luxury existed side by side with misery 
and starvation. Millions were excluded from the very 
necessaries of existence. With the sense of injustice 
and revolt against the existing inequality of the state 
of society, the hope for some future compensation arose. 
The millions excluded from the worldly possessions 
turned longingly to a better world. The thou ghts of 
ma n were turned to something beyond t errestriaLiife^ 
to heaven instea d of e arth. Philosophy, too, had failed 
to give complete satisfaction. Man had reaUsed his 
utter inability to find knowledge in himself by his un- 
aided efforts. He despaired to arrive at it without the 
help of some transcendental power and its kind assist- 
ance. Salvation was not to be found in man's own na- 
ture, but in a world beyond that of the senses. Philoso- 
phy could not satisfy the cultured man by the presenta- 
tion of its ethical ideal of life, could not secure for him 
the promised happiness. Philosophy, therefore, turned 
to religion for help. At Alexandria, where, in the active 
work of its museum, all treasures of Grecian culture were 
garnered, all religions and forms of worship crowded 
together in the great throng of the commercial metrop- 
olis to seek a scientific clarification of the feelings that 
surged and stormed within them. The cosmopolitan 
spirit and broad-mindedness which had brought nations 
together under the Egyptian government, which had 
gathered scholars from all parts in the library and the 


museum, was favourable also to tlie fusion and recon- 
ciliation in the evolution of thought. 

If Alexandria was the birthplace of that intellectual 
movement which has been described, this was not only 
the result of the prevailing spirit of the age, but was 
due to the influence of ideas; salvation could only be 
found in the reconciliation of ideas. The geographical 
centre of this movement of fusion and reconciliation 
was, however, in Alexandria. After having been the 
town of the museum and the library, of criticism and 
Literary erudition, Alexandria became once again the 
meeting-place of philosophical schools and religious 
sects; communication had become easier, and various 
fundamentally different inhabitants belonging to dis- 
tinct social groups met on the banks of the Nile. Not 
only goods and products of the soil were exchanged, 
but also ideas and thoughts. The mental horizon was 
widened, comparisons ensued, and new ideas were sug- 
gested and formed. This mixture of ideas necessarily 
created a complex spirit where two currents of thought, 
of critical scepticism and superstitious credulity, mixed 
and mingled. Another powerful factor was the close 
contact in which Occidentalism or Greek culture found 
itself with Orientalism. Here it was where the' G-reek 
and Oriental spirit mixed and mingled, producing doc- 
trines and religious systems containing germs of tra- 
dition and science, of inspiration and reflection. Images 
and formulas, method and ecstasy, were interwoven and 
intertwined. The brilliant qualities of the Greek spirit, 
its sagacity and subtlety of intelligence, its lucidity and 


facility of expression, were animated and vivified by 
the Oriental spark, and gained new life and vigour. On 
the other hand, the contemplative spirit of the Orient, 
which is characterised by its aspiration towards the in- 
visible and mysterious, would never have produced a 
coherent system or theory had it not been aided by 
Greek science. It was the latter that arranged and 
explained the Oriental traditions, loosed their tongues, 
and produced those religious doctrines and philosophical 
systems which culminated in Gnosticism, Neo-Plato- 
nism, the Judaism of Philo, and the Polytheism of Julian 
the Apostate. 

It was the contemplative Oriental mind, with its 
tendency towards the supernatural and miraculous, with 
its mysticism and religion, and Greece with her subtle 
scrutinising and investigating spirit, which gave rise to 
the peculiar phase of thought prevalent in Alexandria 
during the first centuries of our era. It was tinctured 
with ideahstic, mystic, and yet speculative and scientific 
colours. Hence the religious spirit in philosophy and 
the philosophic tendency in the religious system that 
are the characteristic features. " East and West," says 
Baldwin,^ *' met at Alexandria. The co-operative ideas 
of civilisations, cultures, and religions of Rome, Greece, 
Palestine, and the farther East found themselves in 
juxtaposition. Hence arose a new problem, developed 
partly by Occidental thought, partly by Oriental aspira- 
tion. Religion and philosophy became inextricably 
mixed, and the resultant doctrines consequently belong 

* Baldwin : Dictionary of Philosophy. 


to neither sphere proper, but are rather witnesses of an 
attempt at combining both. These efforts naturally 
came from two sides. On the one hand, the Jews tried 
to accommodate their faith to the results of Western 
culture, in which Greek culture predominated. On the 
other hand, thinkers whose main impulse came from 
Greek philosophy attempted to accommodate their doc- 
trines to the distinctively religious problems which the 
Eastern nations had brought with them. From which- 
ever side the consequences be viewed, they are to be 
characterised as theosophical rather than purely philo- 
sophical, purely religious, or purely theological." 

The reign of Constantine the Great, who became sole 
ruler of the East and West in 323, after ten years' joint 
government with Licinius, is remarkable for the change 
which was then wrought in the religion and philosophy 
of the empire by the emperor's embracing the Christian 
faith. His conversion occurred in 312, and on his coming 
to the united sovereignty the Christians were at once 
released from every punishment and disability on ac- 
count of their religion, which was then more than toler- 
ated; they were put upon a nearly equal footing with 
the pagans, and every minister of the Church was re- 
leased from the burden of civil and military duties. 
Whether the emperor's conversion arose from education, 
from conviction, or from state policy, we have no means 
of knowing; but Christianity did not reach the throne 
before it was the religion of a most important class of 
his subjects, and the Egyptian Christians soon found 
themselves numerous enough to call the Greek Christians 


heretics, as the Greek Christians had already begun to 
designate the Jewish. 

The Greeks of Alexandria had formed rather a school 
of philosophy than a religious sect. Before Alexander's 
conquest the Greek settlers at Naucratis had thought it 
necessary to have their own temples and sacrifices; but 
since the building of Alexandria they had been smitten 
with the love of Eastern mysticism, and content to wor- 
ship in the temples of Serapis and Mithra, and to receive 
instruction from the Egyptian priests. They had sup- 
ported the religion of the conquered Egyptians without 
wholly believing it; and had shaken by their ridicule the 
respect for the very ceremonies which they upheld by 
law. Polytheism among the Greeks had been further 
shaken by the platonists; and Christianity spread in 
about equal proportions among the Greeks and the 
Egyptians. Before the conversi ^n^ of Constantino the 
Eg3rptian c hurch had alreadg^^read into eygry^ city of 
theprovince, and had a regular^ episcopal gover nmen t. 
Till the time of Heraclas and Dionysius, the bishops 
had been always chosen by the votes of the presbyters, 
as the archdeacons were by the deacons. Dionysius in 
his public epistles joins with himself his fellow-presby- 
ters as if he were only the first among equals; but after 
that time some irregularities had crept into the elections, 
and latterly the Church had become more monarchical. 
There was a -patriarch in Alexandria, with a bishop in 
every other large city, each assisted by a body of priests 
and deacons. They had been clad in faith, holiness, hu- 
mility, and charity; but Constantino robed them in 


honour, wealth, and power; and to this many of them 
soon added pride, avarice, and ambition. 

This reign is no less remarkable for the religious 
quarrel which then divided the Christians, which set 
church against church and bishop against bishop, as soon 
as they lost that great bond of union, the fear of the 
pagans. Jesus of Nazareth was acknowledged by Con- 
stantine as a divine person; and, in the attempt then 
made by the Alexandrians to arrive at a more exact 
definition of his nature, while the emperor was willing 
to be guided by the bishops in his theological opinions, 
he was able to instruct them all in the more valuable 
lessons of mutual toleration and forbearance. The fol- 
lowers of early religions held different opinions, but 
distinguished themselves apart only by outward modes 
of worship, such as by sacrifices among the Greeks and 
Romans, and among the Jews and Egyptians by circum- 
cision, and abstinence from certain meats. When Jesus 
of Nazareth introduced his spiritual religion of repent- 
ance and amendment of life, he taught that the test by 
which his disciples were to be known was their love 
to one another. After his death, however, the Christians 
gave more importance to opinions in religion, and towards 
the end of the third century they proposed to dis- 
tinguish their fellow-worshippers in a mode hitherto 
unknown to the world, namely, by the profession of 
belief in certain opinions ; for as yet there was no differ- 
ence in their belief of historic facts. This gave rise to 
numerous metaphysical discussions, particularly among 
the more speculative and mystical. 


At about this time the chief controversy was as to \ 
whether Christ was of the same, or of similar substance 
with God the Father, this being the dispute which divided (, 
Christendom for centuries. This dispute and others not 
quite so metaphysical were brought to the ears of the 
emperor by Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, and Arius, 
the presbyter. The bishop had been enquiriag into the 
belief of the presbyter, and the latter had argued against 
his superior and against the doctrine of the consubstan- 
tiality of the Father and the Son. The emperor's letter 
to the theologians, in this first ecclesiastical quarrel that 
was ever brought before a Christian monarch, is ad- 
dressed to Alexander and Arius, and he therein tells them 
that they are raising useless questions, which it is not 
necessary to settle, and which, though a good exercise 
for the understanding, only breed ill-will, and should 
be kept by each man in his own breast. He regrets 
the religious madness which has seized all Egypt; and 
lastly he orders the bishop not to question the priest 
as to his belief, and orders the priest, if questioned, not 
to return an answer. But this wise letter had no weight 
with the Alexandrian divines. The quarrel gained in ? 
importance from being noticed by the emperor; the civil k 
government of the country was clogged; and Constan- ^ 
tine, after having once interfered, was persuaded to call 
a council of bishops to settle the Christian faith for the 
future. Nicsea in Bithynia was chosen as the spot most 
convenient for Eastern Christendom to meet in; and 
two hundred and fifty bishops, followed by crowds of 
priests, there met in coimcil from Greece, Thrace, Asia 


Minor, Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and Libya, with one or two 
from Western Europe. 

At this synod, held in the year 325, Athanasius, a 
young deacon in the Alexandrian church, came for the 
first time into notice as the champion of Alexander 
against Arius, who was then placed upon his trial. All 
the authority, eloquence, and charity of the emperor were 
needed to queU the tumultuous passions of the assembly. 
It ended its stormy labours by voting what was called 
the Homoousian doctrine, that Jesus was of one substance 
with God. They put forth to the world the celebrated 
creed, named, from the city in which they met, the 
Mcene creed, and they excommunicated Arius and his 
followers, who were then all banished by the emperor. 
The meeting had afterwards less difficulty in coming 
to an agreement about the true time of Easter, and in 
excommunicating the Jews ; and all except the Egyptians 
returned home with a wish that the quarrel should be 
forgotten and forgiven. 

This first attempt among the Christians at settling 
the true faith by putting fetters on the mind, by draw- 
ing up a creed and punishing those that disbelieved it, 
was but the beginning of theological difficulties. These 
in Egypt arose as much from the difference of blood 
and language of the races that inhabited the country 
as from their religious belief; and Constantine must soon 
have seen that if as a theologian he had decided right, 
yet as a statesman he had been helping the Egyptians 
against the friends of his own Greek government in 


After a reasonable delay, Arius addressed to the 
emperor a letter either of explanation or apology, assert- 
ing Ms full belief in Christianity, explaining his faith 
by using the words of the Apostles' Creed, and begging 
to be re-admitted into the Church. The emperor, either 
from a readiness to forgive, or from a change of policy, 
or from an ignorance of the theological controversy, was 
satisfied with the apology, and thereupon wrote a mild 
conciliatory letter to Athanasius, who had in the mean- 
time been made Bishop of Alexandria, expressing his 
wish that forgiveness should at all times be offered to 
the repentant, and ordering him to re-admit Arius to 
his rank in the Church. But the young Athanasius, who 
had gained his favour with the Egyptian clergy, and had 
been raised to his high seat by his zeal shown against 
Arius, refused to obey the commands of the emperor, 
alleging that it was imlawful to re-admit into the Church 
anybody who had once been excommimicated. Constan- 
tino could hardly be expected to listen to this excuse, 
or to overlook this direct refusal to obey his orders. The 
rebellious Athanasius was ordered into the emperor's 
presence at Constantinople, and soon afterwards, in 335, 
called before a councU of bishops at Tyre, where he 
was deposed and banished. At the same council, in 
the thirtieth year of this reign, Arius was re-admitted 
into communion with the Church, and after a few months 
he was allowed to return to Alexandria, to the indignation 
of the popular party in that city, while Athanasius re- 
mained in banishment during the rest of the reign, as 
a punishment for his disobedience. 


This practice of judging and condemning opinions 
gave power in the Church to men who would otherwise 
have been least entitled to weight and influence. Atha- 
nasius rose to his high rank over the heads of the elder 
presbyters by his fitness for the harsher duties then re- 
quired of an archbishop. Theological opinions became 
the watchwords of two contending parties; religion lost 
much of its empire over the heart; and the nuld spirit 
of Christianity gave way to angry quarrels and cruel 

Another remarkable event of this reign was the foun- 
dation of the new city of Constantinople, to which the 
emperor removed the seat of his government. Rome 
lost much by the building of the new capital, although 
the emperors had for some time past ceased to Uve in 
Italy; but Alexandria lost the rank which it had long 
held as the centre of Greek learning and G-reek thought, 
and it felt a blow from which Rome was saved by the 
difference of language. The patriarch of Alexandria 
was no longer the head of Greek Christendom. That 
rank was granted to the bishop of the imperial city; many 
of the philosophers who hung roimd the palace at Con- 
tantinople would otherwise have studied and taught in 
the museum; and the Greeks, by whose superiority 
Egypt had so long been kept in subjection, gradually 
became the weaker party. In the opinion of the his- 
torian, as in the map of the geographer, Alexandria 
had formerly been a Greek state on the borders of Egypt; 
but since the rebellion in the reign of Diocletian it was 
becoming more and more an Egyptian city; and those 



who in religion and politics thought and felt as Egyp- 
tians soon formed the larger half of the Alexandrians. 
The climate of Egypt was hardly fitted for the Greek 
race. Their nnmbers never could have been kept up by 
births alone, and they now began to lessen as the attrac- 
tion to newcomers ceased. The pure Greek names hence- 


forth become less common; and among the monks and 
writers we now meet with those named after the old gods 
of the country. 

Constantino removed an obelisk from Egypt for the 
ornament of his new city, and he brought down another 
from Heliopolis to Alexandria; but he died before the 
second left the country, and it was afterwards taken 
by his son to Rome. These obelisks were covered with 


hieroglypMcs, as usual, and we have a translation said 
to be made from the latter by Hermapion, an Egyptian 
priest. In order to take away its pagan character from 
the religious ceremony with which the yearly rise of the 
Nile was celebrated in Alexandria, Constantine removed 
the sacred cubit from the temple of Serapis to one of the 
Christian churches; and nothwithstanding the gloomy 
forebodings of the people, the Nile rose as usual, and the 
clergy afterwards celebrated the time of its overflow as 
a Christian festival. 

The pagan philosophers under Constantine had but 
few pupils and met with but little encouragement. Aly- 
pius of Alexandria and his friend lamblichus, however, 
still taught the philosophy of Ammonius and Plotinus. 
The only writings by Alypius now remaining are his 
Introduction to Music; in which he explains the nota- 
tion of the fifteen modes or tones in their respective kinds 
of diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonic. His signs are 
said to be Pythagorean. They are in pairs, of which 
one is thought to represent the note struck on the lyre, 
and the other the tone of the voice to be sung thereto. 
They thus imply accord or harmony. The same signs 
are found in some manuscripts written over the syllables 
of ancient poems; and thereby scholars, learned at once 
in the Grreek language, in the art of deciphering signs, 
and in the science of music, now chant the odes of Pindar 
in strains not dissimilar to modern cathedral psalmody. 

Sopator succeeded lamblichus as professor of pla- 
tonism in Alexandria, with the proud title of successor to 
Plato. For some time he enjoyed the friendship of 


Constantine; but, when religion made a quarrel between 

the friends, the philosopher was put to death by the 

emperor. The pagan accoimt of the quarrel was that, 

when Constantine had killed his son, he applied to Sopa- 

tor to be pimfied from his guilt; and when the platonist 

answered that he knew of no ceremony that could absolve 

a man from such a crime, the emperor applied to the 

Christians for baptism. This story may not be true, and 

the ecclesiastical historian remarks that Constantine had 

professed Christianity several years before the murder 

of his son; but then, as after his conversion he had got 

Sopator to consecrate his new city with a variety of pagan 

ceremonies, he may in the same way have asked him 

to absolve him from the guilt of murder. 

On the death of Constantine, in 337, his three sons, 
without entirely dismembering the empire, divided the 
provinces of the Roman world into three shares. Con- 
stantine II., the eldest son, who succeeded to the throne 
of his father in Constantinople, and Constans, the 
youngest, who dwelt in Rome, divided Europe between 
them; while Constantius, the second son, held Syria, 
Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Egypt, of which possessions 
Antioch on the Orontes was at that time the capital. Thus 
Alexandria was doomed to a further fall. When gov- 
erned by Rome it had still been the first of G-reek cities; 
afterwards, when the seat of the empire was fixed at 
Constantinople, it became the second; but on this divi- 
sion of the Roman world, when the seat of government 
came stiU nearer to Egypt, and Antioch rose as the capital 
of the East, Alexandria fell to be the third among Greek 


cities. Egypt quietly received its political orders from 
Antioch. Its opinions also in some cases followed those 
of the capital, and it is curious to remark that the Alex- 
andrian writers, when dating by the era of the creation, 
were now willing to consider the world ten years less 
old than they used, because it was so thought at Antioch. 
But it was not so with their religious opinions, and as 
long as Antioch and its emperor undertook to govern 
the Egyptian church there was little peace in the 

The three emperors did not take the same side in the 
quarrel which under the name of religion was then un- 
settling the obedience of the Egyptians, and even in some 
degree troubling the rest of the empire. Constantius 
held the Arian opinions of Syria; but Constantine II, and 
Constans openly gave their countenance to the party 
of the rebellious Athanasius, who under their favour 
ventured to return to Alexandria, where, after an absence 
of two years and four months, he was received in the 
warmest manner by his admiring flock. But on the death 
of Constantine II., who was shortly afterwards killed in 
battle by his brother Constans, Constantius felt himself 
more master of his own kingdom; he deposed Athanasius, 
and summoned a council of bishops at Antioch to elect 
a new patriarch of Alexandria. Christian bishops, 
though they had latterly owed their ordination to the 
authority of their equals, had always received their 
bishoprics by the choice of their presbyters or of their 
flocks; and though they were glad to receive the support 
of the emperor, they were not willing to acknowledge 


TiiTYi as their head. Hence, when the council at Antioch 
first elected Ensebius of Emisa into the bishopric of 
Alexandria, he chose to refuse the honour which they 
had only a doubtful right to bestow, rather than to ven- 
ture into the city in the face of his popular rival. The 
council then elected Grregory, whose greater courage and 
ambition led him to accept the of&ce. 

The council of Antioch then made some changes in 
the creed. A few years later, a second council met in 
the same place, and drew up a creed more near to what 
we now call the Athanasian; but it was firmly rejected 
by the Egyptian and Roman churches. G-regory was 
no sooner elected to the bishopric than he issued his 
commands as bishop, though, if he had the courage, he 
had not at the time the power to enter Alexandria. But 
Syrianus, the general of the Egyptian troops, was soon 
afterwards ordered by the emperor to place him on his 
episcopal throne; and he led him into the city, sur- 
rounded by the spears of five thousand soldiers, and 
followed by the small body of Alexandrians that after 
this invasion of their acknowledged rights still caUed 
themselves Arians. Gregory entered Alexandria in the 
evening, meaning to take his seat in the church on the 
next day; but the people in their zeal did not wait quietly 
for the dreaded morning. They ran at once to the church, 
and passed the night there with Athanasius in the great- 
est anxiety. In the morning, when Gregory arrived at 
the church, accompanied with the troops, he found the 
doors barricaded and the building full of men and 
women, denouncing the sacrilege, and threatening 


resistance. But the general gave orders that the church 
should be stormed, and the new bishop carried in by- 
force of arms ; and Athanasius, seeing that all resistance 
was useless, ordered the deacons to give out a psalm, 
and they aU marched out at the opposite door singing. 
After these acts of violence on the part of the troops, 
and of resistance on the part of the people, the whole 
city was thrown into an uproar, and the prefect was 
hardly strong enough to carry on the government; the 
regular supply of grain for the poor citizens of Alexan- 
dria, and for Constantinople, was stopped; and the blame 
of the whole thrown upon Athanasius. He was a second 
time obliged to leave Egypt, and he fled to Rome, where 
he was warmly received by the Emperor Constans and 
the Roman bishop. But the zeal of the Athanasian party 
would not allow Gregory to keep possession of the church 
which he had gained only by force; they soon afterwards 
set fire to it and burned it to the ground, choosing that 
there should be no church at all rather than that it should 
be in the hands of the Arians; and the Arian clergy and 
bishops, though supported by the favour of the emperor 
and the troops of the prefect, were everywhere through- 
out Egypt driven from their churches and monasteries. 
During this quarrel it seems to have been felt by both 
parties that the choice of the people, or at least of the 
clergy, was necessary to make a bishop, and that Gregory 
had very little claim to that rank in Alexandria. Julius, 
the Bishop of Rome, warmly espoused the cause of Atha- 
nasius, and he wrote a letter to the Alexandrian church, 
praising their zeal for their bishop, and ordering them 


-to re-admit Mm to Ms former rank, from wMch he had 
been deposed by the council of Antioch, but to wMch 
he had been restored by the Western bishops. Athanasius 
was also warmly supported by Constans, the emperor 
of the West, who at the same time wrote to his brother 
Constantius, begging Mm to replace the Alexandrian 
bishop, and making the additional tMeat that if he would 
not reinstate him he should be made to do so by force 
of arms. 

Constantius, after taking the advice of Ms own 
bishops, thought it wisest to yield to the wishes or rather 
the commands of Ms brother Constans, and he wrote 
to Athanasius, calling him into his presence in Constan- 
tinople. But the rebellious bishop was not willing to 
trust himself within the reach of his offended sovereign; 
and it was not till after a second and a third letter, press- 
ing him to come and promising Mm Ms safety, that he 
ventured within the limits of the Eastern empire. Strong 
in Ms Mgh character for learning, firmness, and political 
skiU, carrying with him the allegiance of the Egyptian 
nation, which was yielded to Mm much rather than to the 
emperor, and backed by the threats of Constans, Atha- 
nasius was at least a match for Constantius. At Con- 
stantinople the emperor and Ms subject, the Alexandrian 
bishop, made a formal treaty, by which it was agreed 
that, if Constantius would allow the Homoousian clergy 
throughout his domimons to return to their churches, 
Athanasius would in the same way tMoughout Egypt 
restore the Arian clergy; and upon this agreement Atha- 
nasius himself returned to Alexandria. 


Among the followers of Athanasius was that impor- 
tant mixed race with whom the Egyptian civiUsation 
chiefly rested, a race that may be called Koptic, but half 
Greek and half Egyptian in their language and religion 
as in their forefathers. But in feelings they were wholly 
opposed to the Greeks of Alexandria. Never since the 
last Nectanebo was conquered by the Persians, eight 
hundred years earlier, did the Egyptians seem so near 
to throwing off the foreign yoke and rising again as an 
independent nation. But the Greeks, who had taught 
them so much, had not taught them the arts of war; and 
the nation remained enslaved to those who could wield 
the sword. The return of Athanasius, however, was only 
the signal for a fresh uproar, and the Arians complained 
that Egypt was kept in a constant turmoil by his zealous 
activity. Nor were the Arians his only enemies. He 
had offended many others of his clergy by his overbear- 
ing manners, and more particularly by his following in 
the steps of Alexander, the late bishop, in claiming new 
and higher powers for the office of patriarch than had 
ever been yielded to the bishops of Alexandria before 
their spiritual rank had been changed into civil rank 
by the emperor's adoption of their religion. Meletius 
headed a strong party of bishops, priests, and deacons ui 
opposing the new claims of the archiepiscopal see of 
Alexandria. His followers differed in no point of doc- 
trine from the Athanasian party, but as they sided with 
the Arians they were usually called heretics. 

By this time the statesmen and magistrates had 
gained a clear view of the change which had come over 



the political state of the empire, first by tlie spread of 
Christianity, and secondly by the emperor's embracing 
it. By supporting Christianity the emperors gave rank 
in the state to an organised and well-trained body, which 
immediately found itself in possession of all the civil 
power. A bishopric, which a few years before was a 
post of danger, was now a place of great profit, and 
secured to its possessor every worldly advantage of 
wealth, honour, and power. An archbishop ia the cap- 
ital, obeyed by a bishop in every city, with numerous 


priests and deacons under them, was usually of more 
weight than the prefect. "While Athanasius was at the 
height of his popularity in Egypt, and was supported 
by the Emperor of the West, the Emperor Constantius 
was very far from being his master. But on the death 
of Constans, when Constantius became sovereign of the 
whole empire, he once more tried to make Alexandria 
and the Egyptian church obedient to his wishes. He was, 
however, still doubtful how far it was prudent to measure 
his strength against that of the bishop, and he chose 
rather to begin privately with threats before using his 


power openly. He first wrote word to Athanasius, as 
if in answer to a request from the bishop, that he was 
at liberty, if he wished, to visit Italy; but he sent the 
letter by the hands of the notary Diogenes, who added, 
by word of mouth, that the permission was meant for 
a command, and that it was the emperor's pleasure that 
he should immediately quit his bishopric and the prov- 
ince. But this underhand conduct of the emperor only 
showed his own weakness. Athanasius steadily refused 
to obey any unwritten orders, and held his bishopric 
for upwards of two years longer, before Constantius felt 
strong enough to enforce his wishes. Towards the end of 
that time, Syrianus, the general of the Egyptian army, to 
whom this delicate task was entrusted, gathered together 
from other parts of the province a body of five thousand 
chosen men, and with these he marched quietly into Alex- 
andria, to overawe, if possible, the rebellious bishop. He 
gave out no reason for his conduct; but the Arians, who 
were in the secret, openly boasted that it would soon 
be their turn to possess the churches. Syrianus then 
sent for Athanasius, and in the presence of Maximus the 
prefect again delivered to him the command of Con- 
stantius, that he should quit Egypt and retire into 
banishment, and he threatened to carry this command 
into execution by the help of the troops if he met with 
any resistance. Athanasius, without refusing to obey, 
begged to be shown the emperor's orders in writing; but 
this reasonable request was refused. He then entreated 
them even to give him, in their own handwriting, an 
order for his banishment; but this was also refused, and 


the citizens, who were made acquainted with the em- 
peror's wishes and the bishop's firmness, waited in 
dreadful anxiety to see whether the prefect and the gen- 
eral would venture to enforce their orders. The presby- 
tery of the church and the corporation of the city went 
up to Syrianus in solemn procession to beg him either 
to show a written authority for the banishment of their 
bishop, or to write to Constantinople to learn the em- 
peror's pleasure. To this request Syrianus at last yielded, 
and gave his word to the friends of Athanasius that he 
would take no further steps till the return of the messen- 
gers which he then sent to Constantinople. 

But Syrianus had before received his orders, which 
were, if possible, to frighten Athanasius into obedience, 
and, if that could not be done, then to employ force, but 
not to expose the emperor's written commands to the 
danger of being successfully resisted. He therefore only 
waited for an opportunity of carrying them into effect; 
and at midnight, on the ninth of February, a. d. 356, 
twenty-three days after the promise had been given, 
Syrianus, at the head of his troops, armed for the assault, 
surrounded the church where Athanasius and a crowded 
assembly were at prayers. The doors were forcibly and 
suddenly broken open, the armed soldiers rushed forward 
to seize the bishop, and numbers of his faithful friends 
were slain in their efforts to save him. Athanasius, how- 
ever, escaped in the tumult ; but though the general was 
imsuccessful, the bodies of the slain and the arms of the 
soldiers found scattered through the church in the morn- 
ing were full proofs of his unholy attempt. The friends 


of the bishop drew up and signed a public declaration 
describing the outrage, and Syrianus sent to Constan- 
tinople a counter-protest declaring that there had been no 
disturbance in the city, 

Athanasius, with nearly the whole of the nation for 
his friends, easily escaped the vengeance of the emperor; 
and, withdrawing for a third time from public life, he 
passed the remainder of this reign in concealment. He 
did not, however, neglect the interests of his flock. He 
encouraged them with his letters, and even privately 
visited his friends in Alexandria. As the greater part 
of the population was eager to befriend him, he was 
there able to hide himself for six years. Disregarding 
the scandal that might arise from it, he lived in the 
house of a young woman, who concealed him in her cham- 
ber, and waited on him with imtiring zeal. She was 
then in the flower of her youth, only twenty years of age ; 
and fifty years afterwards, in the reign of Theodosius 11., 
when the name of the archbishop ranked with those of 
the apostles, this woman used to boast among the monks 
of Alexandria that in her youth she had for six years 
concealed the great Athanasius. 

But though the general was not wholly successful, 
yet the Athanasian party was for the time crushed. Se- 
bastianus, the new prefect, was sent into Egypt with 
orders to seize Athanasius dead or alive, wherever he 
should be found within the province; and under his 
protection the Arian party in Alexandria again ventured 
to meet in public, and proceeded to choose a bishop. They 
elected to this high position the celebrated George of 


Cappadocia, a man who, while he equalled his more pop- 
ular rival in learning and in ambition, fell far behind 
him in cooLaess of judgment, and in that political skill 
which is as much wanted in the guidance of a religious 
party as in the government of an empire. 

George was born at Epiphania in CiUcia, and was the 
son of a clothier, but his ambition led him into the Church, 
as being at that time the fairest field for the display of 
talent; and he rose from one station to another till he 
reached the high post of Bishop of Alexandria. The 
fickle, irritable Alexandrians needed no such firebrand 
to light up the flames of discontent. George took no 
pains to conceal the fact that he held his bishopric by 
the favour of the emperor and the power of the army 
against the wishes of his flock. To support his authority, 
he opened his doors to informers of the worst descrip- 
tion; anybody who stood in the way of his grasp at 
power was accused of being an enemy to the emperor. 
He proposed to the emperor to lay a house-tax on Alex- 
andria, thereby to repay the expense incurred by Alexan- 
der the Great in building the city; and he made the 
imperial government more unpopular than it had ever 
been since Augustus landed in Egypt. He used the army 
as the means of terrifying the Homoousians into an 
acknowledgment of the Arian opinions. He banished 
fifteen bishops to the Great Oasis, besides others of lower 
rank. He beat, tortured, and put to death; the perse- 
cution was more cruel than any suffered from the pagans, 
except perhaps that in the reign of Diocletian; and thirty 
Egyptian bishops are said to have lost their lives while 


George was patriarch of Alexandria. Most of these 
accusations, however, are from the pens of his enemies. 
At this time the countries at the southern end of the 
Red Sea were becoming a little more known to Alex- 
andria. Meropius, travelling in the reign of Constantine 
for curiosity and the sake of knowledge, had visited 
Auxum, the capital of the Hexumitse, in Abyssinia. His 
companion Frumentius undertook to convert the people 
to Christianity and persuade them to trade with Egypt; 
and, as he found them willing to listen to his argimaents, 
he came home to Alexandria to tell of his success and 
ask for support. Athanasius readily entered into a plan 
for spreading the blessings of Christianity and the power 
of the Alexandrian church. To increase the missionary's 
weight he consecrated him a bishop, and sent him back 
to Auxum to continue his good work. His progress, how- 
ever, was somewhat checked by sectarian jealousy; for, 
when Athanasius was deposed by Constantius, Frumen- 
tius was recalled to receive again his orders and his 
opinions from the new patriarch. Constantius also sent 
an embassy to the Homeritse on the opposite coast of 
Arabia, under Theophilus, a monk and deacon in the 
Church. The Homerit® were of Jewish blood though of 
gentile faith, and were readily converted, if not to Chris- 
tianity, at least to friendship with the emperor. After 
consecrating their churches, Theophilus crossed over to 
the African coast, to the Hexumitae, to carry on the 
work which Frumentius had begun. There he was 
equally successful in the object of his embassy. Both in 
trade and in religion the Hexumitse, who were also of 



Jewish blood, were eager to be connected with the Euro- 
peans, from whom they were cut off by Arabs of a wilder 
race. He found also a little to the south of Auxum a 
settlement of Syrians, who were said to have been placed 
there by Alexander the Great. These tribes spoke the 
language called Bthiopic, a dialect of Arabic which was 


not used in the country which we have hitherto called 
Ethiopia. The Ethiopic version of the Bible was about 
this time made for their use. It was translated out of 
the Greek from the Alexandrian copies, as the Greek 
version was held in such value that it was not thought 
necessary to look to the Hebrew original of the Old 


Testament. But these well-meant efforts did little at 
the time towards making the Hexmnitse Christians. Dis- 
tance and the Blemmyes checked their intercourse with 
Alexandria. It was not tiU two hundred years later that 
they could be said in the slightest sense to be converted to 

Though the origin of monastic life has sometimes been 
claimed for the Essenes on the shores of the Dead Sea, 
yet it was in Egypt that it was framed into a system, and 
became the model for the Christian world. It took its 
rise in the serious and gloomy views of religion which 
always formed part of the Egyptian polytheism, and 
which the Greeks remarked as very imlike their own 
gay and tasteful modes of worship, and which were 
readily engrafted by the Egyptian converts into their 
own Christian belief. In the reigns of Constantine and 
his sons, hundreds of Christians, both men and women, 
quitting the pleasures and trials of the busy world, with- 
drew one by one into the Egyptian desert, where the 
sands are as boundless as the ocean, where the sunshine 
is less cheerful than darkness, to spend their lonely days 
and watchful nights in religious meditation and in prayer. 
They were led by a gloomy view of their duty towards 
Ood, and by a want of fellow-feeling for their neighbour; 
and they seemed to think that pain and misery in this 
world would save them from punishment hereafter. The 
lives of many of these Fathers of the Desert were written 
by the Christians who lived at the same time; but a full 
account of the miracles which were said to have been 
worked in their favour, or by their means, would now 


only call forth a smile of pity, or perhaps even of 

" Prosperity and peace," says Gribbon, " introduced 
the distinction of the vulgar and the ascetic Christians. 
The loose and imperfect practice of religion satisfied the 
conscience of the multitude. The prince or magistrate, 
soldier or merchant, reconciled their fervent zeal, and 
implicit faith, with the exercise of their profession, the 
pursuit of their interest, and the indulgence of their pas- 
sions; but the ascetics, who obeyed and abused the rigid 
precepts of the gospel, were inspired by the severe en- 
thusiasm which represents man as a criminal and Grod 
as a tyrant. They seriously renounced the business and 
the pleasures of the age; abjured the use of wine, of 
flesh, and of marriage, chastised their body, mortified 
their affections, and embraced a life of misery, as the 
price of eternal happiness. The ascetics fled from a pro- 
fane and degenerate world to perpetual solitude, or 
religious society. Like the first Christians of Jerusalem, 
they resigned the use, or the property, of their temporal 
possessions ; established regular communities of the same 
sex and a similar disposition, and assumed the names 
of hermits, monks, or anchorites, expressive of their 
lonely retreat in a natural or artificial desert. They soon 
acquired the respect of the world, which they despised, 
and the loudest applause was bestowed on this divine 
philosophy, which surpassed, without the aid of science 
or reason, the laborious virtues of the G-recian schools. 
The monks might indeed contend with the Stoics in 
the contempt of fortime, of pain, and of death; the 


Pythagorean silence and submission were revived ir 
their servile discipline; and they disdained, as firmly as 
the Cynics themselves, all the forms and decencies of civil 
society. But the votaries of this divine philosophy as- 
pired to imitate a purer and more perfect model. They 
trod in the footsteps of the prophets, who had retired 
to the desert; and they restored the devout and con- 
templative life, which had been instituted by the Esse- 
nians, in Palestine and Egypt. The philosophic eye of 
Pliny had surveyed with astonishment a solitary people 
who dwelt among the palm trees near the Dead Sea; who 
subsisted without money, who were propagated without 
women, and who derived from the disgust and repentance 
of mankind a perpetual supply of voluntary associates. 
" Antony, an illiterate youth of the lower part of The- 
baid, distributed his patrimony, deserted his family and 
native home, and executed his monastic penance with 
original and intrepid fanaticism. After a long and pain- 
ful novitiate among the tombs and in a ruined tower, 
he boldly advanced into the desert three days' journey 
to the eastward of the Mle; discovered a lonely spot, 
which possessed the advantages of shade and water, and 
fixed his last residence on Mount Colzim near the Red 
Sea, where an ancient monastery still preserves the name 
and memory of the saint. The curious devotion of the 
Christians pursued him to the desert; and, when he was 
obliged to appear at Alexandria, in the face of mankind, 
he supported his fame with discretion and dignity. He 
enjoyed the friendship of Athanasius, whose doctrine 
he approved; and the Egyptian peasant respectfully 


declined a respectful invitation from the Emperor Oon- 
stantine. The venerable patriarch (for Antony attained 
the age of 105 years) beheld the ninnerous progeny which 
had been formed by his example and his lessons. The 
prolific colonies of monks multiplied on the sands of 
Libya, upon the rocks of the Thebaid, and in the cities 
of the Nile. To the south of Alexandria, the mountain 
and adjacent desert of Mtria were peopled by five thou- 
sand anchorites; and the traveller may still investigate 
the ruins of fifty monasteries, which were planted in that 
barren soil by the disciples of Antony. In the Upper 
Thebaid, the vacant island of Tabenna was occupied by 
Pachomius and fourteen hundred of his brethren. That 
holy abbot successively founded nine monasteries of men 
and one of women; and the festival of Easter sometimes 
collected fifty thousand religious persons, who followed 
his angelic rules of discipline. The stately and populous 
city of Oxyrrhynchos, the seat of Christian orthodoxy, 
had devoted the temples, the public edifices, and even the 
ramparts, to pious and charitable uses, and the bishop, 
who might preach in twelve churches, computed ten thou- 
sand females and twenty thousand males of the monastic 

The monks borrowed many of their customs from the 
old Egyptian priests, such as shaving the head; and 
Athanasius in his charge to them orders them not to 
adopt the tonsure on the head, nor to shave the beard. 
He forbids their employing magic or incantations to 
assist their prayers. He endeavours to stop their emu- 
lation in fasting, and orders those whose strength of 


body enabled them to fast longest not to boast of it. 
But he orders them not even to speak to a woman, and 
wishes them not to bathe, as being an immodest act. 
The early Christians, as being a sect of Jews, had fol- 
lowed many Jewish customs, such as observing the Sab- 
bath as well as the Lord's day; but latterly the line 
between the two religions had been growing wider, and 
Athanasius orders the monks not to keep holy the Jewish 
Sabbath. After a few years their religious duties were 
clearly laid down for them in several well-drawn codes. 

One of the earliest of these ascetics was Ammon, who 
on the morning of his marriage is said to have persuaded 
his young wife of the superior holiness of a single life, 
and to have agreed with her that they should devote 
themselves apart to the honour of God in the desert. 
But, in thus avoiding the pleasures, the duties, and the 
temptations of the world. Amnion lost many of the vir- 
tues and even the decencies of society; he never washed 
himself, or changed his garments, because he thought 
it wrong for a religious man even to see himself un- 
dressed; and when he had occasion to cross a canal, his 
biographer tells us that attendant angels carried him 
over the water in their arms, lest, while keeping his 
vows, he should be troubled by wet clothes. 

In the religious controversies, whether pagan or 
Christian, Rome had often looked to Egypt for its opin- 
ions ; Constans, when wanting copies of the Greek Scrip- 
tures for Rome, had lately sent to Alexandria, and had 
received the approved text from Athanasius. The two 
countries held nearly the same opinions and had the 


same dislike of the Greeks; so when Jerome visited 
Egypt he found the Church holding, he said, the true 
Roman faith as taught by the apostles. Under Didymus, 
who was then the head of the catechetical school, Jerome 
pursued his studies, having the same religious opinions 
with the Egyptian, and the same dislike to Arianism. 
But no dread of heresy stopped Jerome in his search for 
knowledge and for books. He obtained copies of the 
whole of Origen's works, and read them with the great- 
est admiration. It is true that he finds fault with many 
of his opinions; but no admirer of Origen could speak 
in higher terms of praise of his virtues and his learning, 
of the qualities of his head and of his heart, than Jerome 
uses while he timidly pretends to think that he has done 
wrong in reading his works. 

At this time— the end of the eleventh century after 
the building of the city— the emperor himself did not 
refuse to mark on his Roman coins the happy renewal 
of the years by the old Egyptian astrological fable of 
the return of the phoenix. 

From the treatise of Julius Permicus against the 
pagan superstitions, it woiild seem that the sacred ani- 
mals of the Egyptians were no longer kept in the several 
cities in which they used to be worshipped, and that many 
of the old gods had been gradually dropped from the 
mythology, which was then chiefly confined to the wor- 
ship of Isis and Osiris. The great week of the year was 
the feast of Isis, when the priests joined the goddess in 
her grief for the loss of the good Osiris, who had been 
killed through jealousy by the wicked Typhon. The 


priests shaved their heads, beat their breasts, tore the 
skin off their arms, and opened up the old wounds of 
former years, in grief for the death of Osiris, and in 

honour of the widowed Isis. The 
river NUe was also still wor- 
shipped for the blessings which 
it scatters along its banks, but 
we hear no more of Anaon-Ea, 

COIN 01' C0N8TANTIUS, A. D. 347 

Chem, Horus, Aroeris, and the 
other gods of the Thebaid, whose worship ceased with the 
fall of that part of the country. 

But great changes often take place with very little 
improvement; the fall of idolatry only made way for 
the rise of magic and astrology. Abydos in Upper Egypt 
had latterly gained great renown for the temple of Bisu, 
whose oracle was much consulted, not only by the Egyp- 
tians but by Greek strangers, and by others who sent 
their questions in writing. Some of these letters on 
parchment had been taken from the temple by informers, 
and carried to the emperor, whose ears were never deaf 
to a charge against the pagans. On this accusation num- 
bers of all ranks were dragged out of Egypt, to be tried 
and punished in Syria, with torture and forfeiture of 
goods. Such indeed was the nation's belief in these 
oracles and prophecies that it gave to the priests a greater 
power than it was safe to trust them with. By prophesy- 
ing that a man was to be an emperor, they could make 
him a traitor, and perhaps raise a village in rebellion. 
As the devotedness of their followers made it dangerous 
for the magistrates to punish the mischief-makers, they 


had no choice but to punish those who consulted them. 
Without forbidding the divine oracle to answer, they 
forbade anybody to question it. Parnasius, who had been 
a prefect of Egypt, a man of spotless character, was 
banished for thus illegally seeking a knowledge of the 
future; and Demetrius Cythras, an aged philosopher, 
was put to the rack on a charge of having sacrificed to 
the god, and only released because he persisted through 
his tortures in asserting that he sacrificed ia gratitude 
and not from a wish thus to learn his future fate. 

In the falling state of the empire the towns and vil- 
lages of Egypt found their rulers too weak either to guard 
them or to tyrannise over them, and they sometimes 
formed themselves into small societies, and took means 
for their own defence. The law had so far allowed this 
as in some cases to grant a corporate constitution to a 
city. But in other cases a city kept in its pay a coiu'tier 
or government servant powerful enough to guard it 
against the extortions of the provincial tax-gatherer, or 
would put itself imder the patronage of a neighboiu" rich 
enough and strong enough to guard it. This, however, 
could not be allowed, even if not used as the means of 
throwing off the authority of the provincial government; 
and accordingly at this time we begin to find laws against 
the new crime of patronage. These associations gave a 
place of refuge to criminals, they stopped the worshipper 
in his way to the temple, and the tax-gatherer in collect- 
ing the tribute. But new laws have little weight when 
there is no power to enforce them, and the orders from 
Constantinople were Kttle heeded in Tipper Egypt. 


But this patronage wMcli the emperor wished to put 
down was weak compared to that of the bishops and 
clergy, which the law allowed and even upheld, and which 
was the great check to the tyranny of the civil governor. 
iWMle the emperor at a distance gave orders through 
his prefect, the people looked up to the bishop as their 
head; and hence the power of each was checked by the 
other. The emperors had not yet made the terrors of 
religion a tool in the hands of the magistrate; nor had 
they yet learned from the pontif ex and augurs of pagan 
Rome the secret that civil power is never so strong as 
when based on that of the Church. 

On the death of Constantius, in 361, Julian was at 
once acknowledged as emperor, and the Roman world 
was again, but for the last time, governed by a pagan. 
The Christians had been in power for fifty-five years 
under Constantine and his sons, during which time the 
pagans had been made to feel that their enemies had got 
the upper hand of them. But on the accession of Julian 
their places were again changed; and the Egyptians 
among others crowded to Constantinople to complain of 
injustice done by the Christian prefect and bishop, and 
to pray for a redress of wrongs. They were, however, 
sadly disappointed in their emperor; he put them off 
with an unfeeling joke; he ordered them to meet him 
at Chalcedon on the other side of the straits of Constan- 
tinople, and, instead of following them according to his 
promise, he gave orders that no vessel should bring an 
Egyptian from Chalcedon to the capital; and the Egyp- 
tians, after wasting their time and money, returned 


home in despair. But though their complaints were 
laughed at, they were not overlooked, and the author 
of their grievances was punished; Artemius, the prefect 
of Egypt, was summoned to Chalcedon, and not being 
able to disprove the crimes laid to his charge by the 
Alexandrians, he paid his life as the forfeit for his mis- 
government during the last reign. 

While Artemius was on his trial the pagans of Alex- 
andria remained quiet, and in daily fear of his return 
to power, for after their treatment at Chalcedon they 
by no means felt sm^e of what would be the emperor's 
policy in matters of religion; but they no sooner heard 
of the death of Artemius than they took it as a sign 
that they had full leave to revenge themselves on the 
Christians. The mob rose first against the Bishop 
Oeorge, who had lately been careless or wanton enough 
publicly to declare his regret that any of their temples 
should be allowed to stand; and they seized him in the 
streets and trampled him to death. They next slew 
Dracontius, the prefect of the Alexandrian mint, whom 
they accused of overturning a pagan altar within that 
building. Their anger was then turned against Diodorus, 
who was employed in building a church on a waste spot 
of ground that had once been sacred to the worship of 
Mithra, but had since been given by the Emperor Con- 
stantius to the Christians. In clearing the ground, the 
workmen had turned up a number of human bones that 
had been buried there in former ages, and these had been 
brought forward by the Christians in reproach against 
the pagans as so many proofs of human sacrifices. In his 


Christian zeal, Diodorus also had wounded at the same 
time their pride and superstition by cutting off the single 
lock from the heads of the young Egyptians. This lock 
had in the time of Ramses been the mark of youthful 
royalty; under the Ptolemies the mark of high rank; 
but was now common to all. Diodorus treated it as an 
offence against his religion. For this he was attacked 
and kiUed, with George and Dracontius. The mob car- 
ried the bodies of the three murdered men upon camels to 
the side of the lake, and there burned them, and threw 
the ashes into the water, for fear, as they said, that a 
church should be built over their remains, as had been 
sometimes done, even at that early date, over the bodies 
of martyrs. 

When the news of this outrage against the laws was 
brought to the philosophical emperor, he contented him- 
self with threatening by an imperial edict that if the 
offence were repeated, he would visit it with severe pun- 
ishment. But in every act of Julian we trace the scholar 
and the lover of learning, George had employed his 
wealth in getting together a large library, rich in his- 
torians, rhetoricians, and philosophers of all sects; and, 
on the murder of the bishop, Julian wrote letter after 
letter to Alexandria, to beg the prefect and his friend 
Porphyrins to save these books, and send them to him 
in Cappadocia. He promised freedom to the librarian if 
he gave them up, and torture if he hid them; and fur- 
ther begged that no books in favour of Christianity 
should be destroyed, lest other and better books should 
be lost with them. 



There is too much reason to believe that the friends 
of Athanasius were not displeased at the murder of the 
Bishop George and their Arian fellow-Christians; at 
any rate they made no effort to save them, and the same 
mob that had put to death George as an enemy to pagan- 
ism now joined his rival, Athanasius, in a triumphal 
entry into the city, when, with the other Egyptian 
bishops, he was allowed to return from banishment. 
Athanasius could brook no rival to his power; the civil 
force of the city was completely overpowered by his 
party, and the Arian clergy were forced to hide them- 
selves, as the only means of saving their lives. But, 
while thus in danger from their enemies, the Arians pro- 
ceeded to elect a successor to their murdered bishop, 
and they chose Lucius to that post of honour, but of 
danger. Athanasius, however, in reality and openly 
fiUed the office of bishop; and he summoned a synod at 
Alexandria, at which he re-admitted into the church 
Lucifer and Eusebius, two bishops who had been ban- 
ished to the Thebaid, and he again decreed that the three 
persons in the Trinity were of one substance. 

Though the Emperor Julian thought that George, the 
late bishop, had deserved all that he suffered, as having 
been zealous in favour of Christianity, and forward in 
putting down paganism and in closing the temples, yet 
he was still more opposed to Athanasius. That able 
churchman held his power as a rebel by the help of the 
Egyptian mob, against the wishes of the Greeks of Alex- 
andria and against the orders of the late emperor; and 
Jtdian made an edict, ordering that he should be driven 


out of the city within twenty-four hours of the command 
reaching Alexandria. The prefect of Egypt was at first 
unable, or unwilling, to enforce these orders against the 
wish of the inhabitants; and Athanasius was not driven 
into banishment till Julian wrote word that, if the re- 
bellious bishop were to be found in any part of Egypt 
after a day then named, he would fine the prefect and the 
officers under him one hundred pounds weight of gold. 
Thus Athanasius was for the fourth time banished from 

Though the Christians were out of favour with the 
emperor, and never were employed in any office of trust, 
yet they were too numerous for him to venture on a 
persecution. But Julian allowed them to be ill-treated 
by his prefects, and took no notice of their complaints. 
He made a law, forbidding any Christians being educated 
in pagan literature, believing that ignorance would stop 
the spread of their religion. In the churches of Grreece, 
Asia Minor, and Syria, this was felt as a heavy grievance ; 
but it was less thought of in Egypt. Science and learn- 
ing were less cultivated by the Christians in Alexandria 
since the overthrow of the Arian party; and a little later, 
to charge a writer with Graecizing was the same as saying 
that he wanted orthodoxy. 

Julian was a warm friend to learning and philosophy 
among the pagans. He recalled to Alexandria the physi- 
cian Zeno, who in the last reign had fled from the Geor- 
gian faction, as the Christians were then called. He 
founded in the same city a college for music, and ordered 
the Prefect Ecdicius to look out for some young men 


of skill in tliat science, particularly from among the 
pupils of Dioscorus ; and he allotted them a maintenance 
from the treasury, with rewards for the most skilful. 
At Canopus, a pagan philosopher, Antoninus, the son 
of Eustathius, taking advantage of the turn in public 
opinion, and copying the Christian monks of the The- 
baid, drew round him a crowd of followers by his self- 
denial and painful tortiu-e of the body. The Alexan- 
drians flocked in crowds to his dwelling; and such was 
his character for holiness that his death, in the beginning 
of the reign of Theodosius, was thought by the Egyptians 
to be the cause of the overthrow of paganism. 

But Egyptian paganism, which had slumbered for 
fifty years under the Christian emperors, was not again 
to be awaked to its former life. Though the wars be- 
tween the several cities for the honour of their gods, 
the bull, the crocodile, or the fish, had never ceased, all 
reverence for those gods was dead. The sacred animals, 
in particular the bulls Apis and Mnevis, were again 
waited upon by their priests as of old; but it was a vain 
attempt. Not only was the Egyptian religion over- 
thrown, but the Thebaid, the country of that religion, 
was fallen too low to be raised again. The people of Up- 
per Egypt had lost all heart, not more from the tyranny 
of the Roman government in the north than from the 
attacks and settlement of the Arabs in the south. All 
changes in the country, whether for the better or the 
worse, were laid to the charge of these latter unwelcome 
neighbours; and when the inquiring traveller asked to 
be shown the crocodile, the river-horse, and the other 


animals for which Egypt had once been noted, he was 
told with a sigh that they were seldom to be seen in the 
Delta since the Thebaid had been peopled with the 
Blenunyes. Falsehood, the usual vice of slaves, had 
taken a deep hold on the Egyptian character. A denial 
of their wealth was the means by which they usually 
tried to save it from the Roman tax-gatherer; and an 
Egyptian was ashamed of himself as a coward if he could 
not show a back covered with stripes gained in the at- 
tempt to save his money. Peculiarities of character 
often descend unchanged in a nation for many centuries ; 
and, after fourteen hundred years of the same slavery, 
the same stripes from the lash of the tax-gatherer still 
used to be the boast of the Egyptian peasant. Cyrene 
was already a desert; the only cities of note in Upper 
Egypt were Koptos, Hermopolis, and Antinoopolis; but 
Alexandria was still the queen of cities, though the large 
quarter called the Bruchium had not been rebuilt; and 
the Serapeum, with its library of seven hundred thousand 
volumes, was, after the capitol of Rome, the chief build- 
ing in the world. 

This temple of Serapis was situated on a rising 
ground at the west end of the city, and, though not built 
like a fortification, was sometimes called the citadel of 
Alexandria. It was entered by two roads; that on one 
side was a slope for carriages, and on the other a grand 
flight of a hundred steps from the street, with each step 
wider than that below it. At the top of this flight of 
steps was a portico, in the form of a circular roof, upheld 
by four columns. Through this was the entrance into 


the great courtyard, in the middle of which stood the 
roofless hall or temple, surrounded by columns and porti- 
coes, inside and out. In some of the inner porticoes were 
the bookcases for the library which made Alexandria 


the very temple of science and learning, while other 
porticoes were dedicated to the service of the ancient 
religion. The roofs were ornamented with gilding, the 
capitals of the columns were of copper gilt, and the walls 


were covered witli paintings. In the middle of the inner 
area stood one lofty column, which could be seen by all 
the country roimd, and even from ships some distance 
out at sea. The great statue of Serapis, which had been 
made under the Ptolemies, having perhaps marble feet, 
but for the rest built of wood, clothed with drapery, and 
glittering with gold and silver, stood m one of the cov- 
ered chambers, which had a small window so contrived 
as to let the sun's rays kiss the lips of the statue on the 
appointed occasions. This was one of the tricks em- 
ployed in the sacred mysteries, to dazzle the worshipper 
by the sudden blaze of light which on the proper occa- 
sions was let into the dark room. The temple itself, 
with its fountain, its two obelisks, and its gilt 
ornaments, has long since been destroyed; and the col- 
umn in the centre, under the name of Pompey's Pillar,' 
alone remains to mark the spot where it stood, and is 
one of the few works of Greek art which in size and 
strength vie with the old Egyptian monuments. 

The reign of Julian, instead of raising paganism to 
its former strength, had only shown that its life was 
spent; and under Jovian (a. d. 363—364) the Christians 
were again brought into power. A Christian emperor, 
however, would have been but little welcome to the 
Egyptians if, like Constantius, and even Constantine in 
his latter years, he had leaned to the Arian party; but 
Jovian soon showed his attachment to the Nicene creed, 
and he re-appointed Athanasius to the bishopric of 
Alexandria, But though Athanasius regained his rank, 

See Volume X, page 317. 


yet the Arian bishop Lucius was not deposed. Each 
party in Alexandria had its own bishop; those who 
thought that the Son was of the same substance with the 
Father looked up to Athanasius, while those who gave 
to Jesus the lower rank of being of a similar substance 
to the Creator obeyed Lucius. 

This curious metaphysical proposition was not, how- 
ever, the only cause of the quarrel which divided Egypt 
into such angry parties. The creeds were made use of 
as the watchwords in a political struggle. Blood, lan- 
guage, and geographical boundaries divided the parties; 
and religious opinions seldom cross these unchanging 
and inflexible lines. 

Every Egyptian believed in the Mcene creed and 
the incorruptibility of the body of Jesus, and hated 
the Alexandrian Greeks; while the more refined Greeks 
were as united in explaining away the Mcene creed by 
the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, and in despising 
the ignorant Egyptians. Christianity, which speaks so 
forcibly to the poor, the unlearned, and the slave, had 
educated the Egyptian population, had raised them in 
their own eyes; and, as the popular party gained 
strength, the Arians lost ground in Alexandria. At the 
same time the Greeks were falling off in learning and 
in science, and in all those arts of civilisation which had 
given them the superiority. Like other great political 
changes, this may not have been understood at the time ; 
but in less than a himdred years it was found that the 
Egyptians were no longer the slaves, nor the Greeks the 


On the death of Jovian, when Valentinian divided the 
Roman empire with his brother, he took Italy and the 
West for his own kingdom, and gave to Valens Egypt 
and the Eastern provinces, in which Greek was the lan- 
guage of the government. Each emperor adopted the 
religion of his capital; Valentinian held the Nicene 
faith, and Valens the Arian faith; and unhappy Egypt 
was the only part of the empire whose religion differed 
from that of its rulers. Had the creeds marked the 
limits of the two empires, Egypt would have belonged 
to Rome; but, as geographical boundaries and language 
form yet stronger ties, Egypt was given to Constan- 
tinople, or rather to Antioch, the nearer of the two 
Eastern capitals. 

By Valens, Athanasius was forced for the fifth time 
to fly from Alexandria, to avoid the displeasure which 
his disobedience again drew down upon him. But his 
flock again rose in rebellion in favour of their popular 
bishop; and the emperor was either persuaded or fright- 
ened into allowing him to return to his bishopric, where 
he spent the few remaining years of his life in peace. 
Athanasius died at an advanced age, leaving a name 
more famous than that of any one of the emperors under 
whom he lived. He taught the Christian world that there 
was a power greater than that of kings, namely the 
Church. He was often beaten in the struggle, but every 
victory over him was followed by the defeat of the civil 
power; he was five times banished, but five times he 
returned in triumph. The temporal power of the Church 
was in its infancy; it only rose upon the conversion 


of Constantine, and it was weak compared to wliat it 
became in after ages; but, when the Emperor of Ger- 
many did penance barefoot before Pope HUdebrand, and 
a king of England was whipped at Becket's tomb, we only 
witness the full-grown strength of the infant power that 
was being reared by the Bishop of Alexandria. His 
writings are numerous and wholly controversial, chiefly 
against the Arians. The Athanasian creed seems to have 
been so named only because it was thought to contain 
his opinions, as it is known to be by a later author. 

On the death of Athanasius, the Homoousian party 
chose Peter as his successor in the bishopric, overlooking 
Lucius, the Arian bishop, whose election had been ap- 
proved by the emperors Julian, Jovian, and Valens. But 
as the Egyptian church had lost its great champion, the 
emperor ventured to re-assert his authority. He sent 
Peter to prison, and ordered all the churches to be given 
up to the Arians, threatening with banishment from 
Egypt whoever disobeyed his edict. The persecution 
which the Homoousian party throughout Upper Egypt 
then suffered from the Arians equalled, says the eccle- 
siastical historian, anything that they had before suf- 
fered from the pagans. Every monastery ia Egypt was 
broken open by Lucius at the head of an armed force, 
and the cruelty of the bishop surpassed that of the 
soldiers. The breaking open of the monasteries seems 
to have been for the purpose of making the inmates bear 
their share in the military service of the state, rather 
than for any religious reasons. When Constantine em- 
braced Christianity, he immediately recognised all the 


religious scruples of its professors ; and not only bishops 
and presbyters but all laymen who had entered the 
monastic orders were freed from the duty of serving in 
the army. But under the growing dislike of military 
service, and the difficulty of finding soldiers, when to 
escape from the army many called themselves Christian 
monks, this excuse could no longer be listened to, and 
Valens made a law that monastic vows should not save 
a man from enlistment. But this law was not easily 
carried into force in the monasteries on the borders of 
the desert, which were often well-built and well-guarded 
fortresses; and on Mount Mtria, in particular, many 
monks lost their lives in their resistance to the troops 
that were sent to fetch recruits. 

The monastic institutions of Egypt had already 
reached their full growth. They were acknowledged by 
the laws of the empire as ecclesiastical corporations, 
and allowed to hold property; and by a new law of this 
reign, if a monk or nun died without a will or any known 
kindred, the property went to the monastery as heir 
at law. One of the most celebrated of these monasteries 
was on Tabenna, where Pachomius had gathered round 
him thirteen hundred followers, who owned him as the 
founder of their order, and gave him credit for the gift 
of prophecy. His disciples in the other monasteries of 
Upper Egypt amounted to six thousand more. Anuph 
was at the head of another order of monks, and he boasted 
that he could by prayer obtain from heaven whatever 
he wished. Hor was at the head of another monastery, 
where, though wholly unable to read or write, he spent 


his life in singing psalms, and, as his followers and 
perhaps he himself believed, in working miracles. Sera- 
pion was at the head of a thousand monks in the Ar- 
sinoite nome, who raised their food by their own labour, 
and shared it with their poorer neighbours. Near Nitria, 
a place in the Mareotic nome which gave its name to the 
nitre springs, there were as many as fifty cells ; but those 
who aimed at greater solitude and severer mortification 
withdrew farther into the desert, to Scetis in the same 
nome, a spot already sanctified by the trials and triumphs 
of St. Anthony. Here, in a monastery surrounded by the 
sands, by the side of a lake whose waters are Salter than 
the brine of the ocean, with no grass or trees to rest 
the aching eye, where the dazzling sky is seldom relieved 
with a cloud, where the breezes are too often laden with 
dry dust, these monks cultivated a gloomy religion, with 
hearts painfully attuned to the scenery around them. 
Here dwelt Moses, who in his youth had been a remark- 
able sinner, and in his old age became even more re- 
markable as a saint. It was said that for six years 
he spent every night in prayer, without once closing his 
eyes in sleep; and that one night, when his cell was 
attacked by foiu* robbers, he carried them aU off at once 
on his back to the neighbouring monastery to be pmi- 
ished, because he would himself hurt no man. Benjamin 
also dwelt at Scetis; he consecrated oU to heal the 
diseases of those who washed with it, and during the 
eight months that he was himself dying of a dropsy, he 
touched for their diseases all who came to the door of 
his cell to be healed. Hellas carried fire in his bosom 


without burning his clothes. Elias spent seventy years 
in solitude on the borders of the Arabian desert near 
Antinoopolis. Apelles was a blacksmith near Achoris; 
he was tempted by the devU in. the form of a beautiful 
woman, but he scorched the tempter's face with a red- 
hot iron. Dorotheus, who though a Theban had settled 
near Alexandria, mortified his flesh by trying to Hve 
without sleep. He never willingly lay down to rest, nor 
indeed ever slept till the weakness of the body sunk 
under the efforts of the spirit. Paul, who dwelt at 
Pherma, repeated three hundred prayers every day, and 
kept three hundred pebbles in a bag to help him in his 
reckoning. He was the friend of Anthony, and when 
dying begged to be wrapt in the cloak given him by that 
holy monk, who had himself received it as a present 
from Athanasius. His friends and admirers claimed for 
Paul the honour of being the first Christian hermit, and 
they maintained their improbable opinion by asserting 
that he had been a monk for ninety-seven years, and 
that he had retired to the desert at the age of sixteen, 
when the Church was persecuted in the reign of Valerian. 
All Egypt believed that the monks were the especial 
favourites of Heaven, that they worked miracles, and 
that divine wisdom flowed from their lips without the help 
or hindrance of human learning. They were all Ho- 
moousians, believing that the Son was of one substance 
with the Father; some as trinitarians holding the opinions 
of Athanasius; some as Sabellians believing that Jesus 
was the creator of the world, and that his body therefore 
was not liable to corruption; some as anthropomorphites 


believing God was of human form like Jesus; but aU 
warmly attached to the Mcene creed, denying the two 
natures of Christ, and hating the Arian Greeks of Alex- 
andria and the other cities. Gregory of Nazianzmn 
remarks that Egypt was the most Christ-loving of coun- 
tries, and adds with true simplicity that, wonderful to 
say, after having so lately worshipped bulls, goats, and 
crocodiles, it was now teaching the world the worship 
of the Trinity in the truest form. 

The pagans, who were now no longer able to worship 
publicly as they chose, took care to proclaim their opin- 
ions indirectly in such ways as the law could not reach. 
In the hippodrome, which was the noisiest of the places 
where the people met in public, they made a profession 
of their faith by the choice of which horses they bet on; 
and Christians and pagans alike showed their zeal for 
religion by hooting and clapping of hands. Prayers and 
superstitious ceremonies were used on both sides to add 
to the horses' speed; and the monk Hilarion, the pupil 
of Anthony, gained no little credit for sprinkling holy 
water on the horses of his party, and thus enabling 
Christianity to outnm paganism in the hippodrome at 

During these reigns of weakness and misgovemment, 
it was no doubt a cruel policy rather than humanity that 
led the tax-gatherers to collect the tribute in kind. More 
could be squeezed out of a ruined people by taking what 
they had to give than by requiring it to be paid in copper 
coin. Hence Valens made a law that no tribute through- 
out the empire should be taken in money; and he laid 


a new land-tax upon Egypt, to the amount of a soldier's 
clotMng for every thirty acres. 

The Saracens ^ had for some time past been encroach- 
ing on the Eastern frontiers of the empire, and had only 
been kept back by treaties which proved the weakness 
of the Romans, as the armies of Constantinople were 
still caUed, and which encouraged the barbarians in their 
attacks. On the death of their king, the command over 
the Saracens feU to their Queen Msevia, who broke the 
last treaty, laid waste Palestine and Phoenicia with her 
armies, conquered or gained over the Arabs of Petra, 
and pressed upon the Egyptians at the head of the Red 
Sea. On this, Valens renewed the truce, but on terms 
still more favourable to the invaders. Many of the 
Saracens were Christians, and by an article of the treaty 
they were to have a bishop granted them for their church, 
and for this purpose they sent Moses to Alexandria to 
be ordained. But the Saracens sided with the Egyptians, 
in religion as well as policy, against the Arian Grreeks. 
Hence Moses refused to be ordained by Lucius, the pa- 
triarch of Alexandria, and chose rather to receive his 
appointment from some of the Homoousian bishops who 
were living in banishment in the Thebaid. After this 
advance of the barbarians the interesting city of Petra, 
which since the time of Trajan had been in the power 
or the friendship of Rome or Constantinople, was lost 
to the civilised world. This rocky fastness, which was 

^ The name Saraceni was given by the Greeks and Komans to the nomadic 
Arabs who lived on the borders of the desert. During the Middle Ages, the 
Muhammedans, coming from apparently the same localities, were also called 



ornamented with temples, a triumplial arch, and a 
theatre, and had been a bishop's see, was henceforth 
closed against all travellers; it had no place in the map 
tUl it was discovered by Burckhardt in our own days 
without a human being dwelling in it, with oleanders 
and tamarisks choking up its entrance through the cliff, 
and with brambles trailing their branches over the rock- 
hewn temples. 

The reign of Theodosius, which extended from 379 


to 395, is remarkable for the blow then given to paganism. 
The old religion had been sinking even before Chris- 
tianity had become the religion of the emperors; it had 
been discouraged by Constantine, who had closed many 
of the temples; but Theodosius made a law in the first 
year of his reign that the whole of the empire should 
be Christian, and should receive the trinitarian faith. 
He soon afterwards ordered that Sunday should be kept 
holy, and forbade all work and law-proceedings on that 
day; and he sent Cynegius, the prefect of the palace. 


into Egypt, to see these laws carried into effect in that 

The wishes of the emperor were ably followed up by 
Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria. He cleansed the 
temple of Mithra, and overthrew the statues in the cele- 
brated temple of Serapis, which seemed the very citadel 
of paganism. He also exposed to public ridicule the 
mystic ornaments and statues which a large part of his 
fellow-citizens still regarded as sacred. It was not, how- 
ever, to be supposed that this could be peaceably borne by 
a people so irritable as the Alexandrians. The students 
in the schools of philosophy put themselves at the head 
of the mob to stop the work of destruction, and to re- 
venge themselves upon their assailants, and several 
battles were fought in the streets between the pagans 
and the Christians, in which both parties lost many lives; 
but as the Christians were supported by the power of 
the prefect, the pagans were routed, and many whose 
rank would have made them objects of punishment were 
forced to fly from Alexandria. 

No sooner had the troops under the command of the 
prefect put down the pagan opposition than the work 
of destruction was again carried forward by the zeal 
of the bishop. The temples were broken open, their orna- 
ments destroyed, and the statues of the gods melted 
for the use of the Alexandrian church. One statue of an 
Egyptian god was alone saved from the wreck, and was 
set up in mockery of those who had worshipped it; and 
this ridicule of their religion was a cause of greater 
anger to the pagans than even the destruction of the 


other statues. The great statue of Serapis, which was 
made of wood covered with plates of metal, was knocked 
to pieces by the axes of the soldiers. The head and limbs 
were broken off, and the wooden trunk was burnt 
in the amphitheatre amid the shouts and jeers of the 
bystanders. A conjectured fragment of this statue is 
now in the British Museum. 

In the plunder of the temple of Serapis, the great 
library of more than seven hundred thousand volumes 
was wholly broken up and scattered. Orosius, the 
Spaniard, who visited Alexandria in the next reign, may 
be trusted when he says that he saw in the temple the 
empty shelves, which, within the memory of men 
then living, had been plundered of the books that had 
formerly been got together after the library of the 
Bruchium was burnt by Julius Caesar. In a work of such 
lawless plunder, carried on by ignorant zealots, many of 
these monuments of pagan genius and learning must 
have been wilfully or accidentally destroyed, though the 
larger number may have been carried off by the Chris- 
tians for the other public and private libraries of the 
city. How many other libraries this city of science may 
have possessed we are not told, but there were no doubt 
many. Had Alexandria during the next two centuries 
given birth to poets and orators, their works, the off- 
spring of native genius, might perhaps have been written 
without the help of libraries; but the labours of the 
mathematicians and grammarians prove that the city 
was still well furnished with books, beside those on the 
Christian controversies. 


When the Christians were persecuted by the pagans, 
none but men of unblemished lives and unusual strength 
of mind stood to their religion in the day of trial, and suf- 
fered the penalties of the law; the weak, the ignorant, and 
the vicious readily joined ia the superstitions required 
of them, and, embracing the religion of the stronger 
party, easily escaped punishment. So it was when the 
pagans of Alexandria were persecuted by Theophilus; 
the chief sufferers were the men of learning, in whose 
minds paganism was a pure deism, and who saw nothing 
but ignorance and superstition on the side of their op- 
pressors; who thought their worship of the Trinity only 
a new form of polytheism, and jokingly declared that 
they were not arithmeticians enough to understand it. 
Olympius, who was the priest of Serapis when the temple 
was sacked, and as such the head of the pagans of Alex- 
andria, was a man in every respect the opposite of the 
Bishop Theophilus. He was of a frank, open counte- 
nance and agreeable manners; and though his age might 
have allowed him to speak among his followers in the 
tone of command, he chose rather in his moral lessons 
to use the mild persuasion of an equal; and few hearts 
were so hardened as not to be led into the paths of duty 
by his exhortations. Whereas the furious monks, says 
the indignant pagan, were men only in form, but swine 
in manners. Whoever put on a black coat, and was not 
ashamed to be seen with dirty linen, gained a tyrannical 
power over the minds of the mob, from their belief in 
his holiness; and these men attacked the temples of the 
gods as a propitiation for their own enormous sins. Thus 


each party reproached the other, and often unjustly. 
Among other religious frauds and pretended miracles of 
which the pagan priests were accused, was that of having 
an iron statue of Serapis hanging in the air in a chamber 
of the temple, by means of a loadstone fixed in the ceil- 
ing. The natural difficulties shield them from this charge, 
but other accusations are not so easily rebutted. 

After this attack upon the pagans, their religion was 
no longer openly taught in Alexandria. Some of the 
more zealous professors withdrew from the capital to 
Canopus, about ten miles distant, where the ancient 
priestly learning was still taught, unpersecuted because 
unnoticed; and there, under the pretence of studying 
hieroglyphics, a school was opened for teaching magic 
and other forbidden rites. When the pagan worship 
ceased throughout Egypt, the temples were very much 
used as churches, and in some cases received in their 
ample courtyard a smaller church of Greek architecture, 
as in that of Medinet Abu. In other cases Christian 
ornaments were added to the old walls, as in the rock 
temple of Kneph, opposite to Abu Simbel, where the 
figure of the Saviour with a glory round his head has 
been painted on the ceiling. The Christians, in order 
to remove from before their eyes the memorials of the 
old superstition, covered up the sculpture on the walls 
with mud from the ISTile and white plaster. This coating 
we now take away, at a time when the idolatrous figures 
are no longer dangerous to religion, and we find the 
sculpture and painting fresh as when covered up four- 
teen hundred years ago. 



It would be unreasonable to suppose that the Egyp- 
tians, upon embracing Christianity, at once threw off 
aU of their pagan rites. Among other customs that 
they stiU clung to, was that of making mummies of the 
bodies of the dead. St. Anthony had tried to dissuade 
the Christian converts from that practice; not because 
the mummy-cases were covered with pagan inscriptions. 


but he boldly asserted, what a very little reading would 
have disproved, that every mode of treating a dead body, 
beside burial, was forbidden in the Bible. St. Augustine, 
on the other hand, well understanding that the immortal- 
ity of the soul without the body was little likely to be un- 
derstood or valued by the ignorant, praises the Egyptians 
for that very practice, and says that they were the only 
Christians who really believed in the resurrection from 
the dead. The tapers burnt before the altars were from 


the earliest times used to light up the splendours of the 
Egyptian altars, in the darkness of their temples, and 
had been burnt in still greater numbers in the yearly- 
festival of the candles. The playful 'custom of giving 
away sugared cakes and sweetmeats on the twenty-fifth 
day of Tybi, our twentieth of January, was then changed 
to be kept fourteen days earlier, and it still marks the 
Feast of Epiphany or Twelfth-night. The division of 
the people into clergy and laity, which was unknown to 
Greeks and Romans, was introduced into Christianity 
in the fourth century by the Egyptians. While the rest 
of Christendom were clothed in woollen, linen, the com- 
mon dress of the Egyptians, was universally adopted 
by the clergy as more becoming to the purity of their 
manners. At the same time the clergy copied the Egyp- 
tian priests in the custom of shaving the crown of the 
head bald. 

The new law in favour of trinitarian Christianity was 
enforced with as great strictness against the Arians as 
against the pagans. The bishops and priests of that 
party were everywhere turned out of their churches, 
which were then given up to the Homoousians. Theo- 
dosius smnmoned a council of one hundred and fifty 
bishops at Constantinople, to re-enact the Mcene creed; 
and in the future religious rebellions of the Egyptians 
they always quoted against the Greeks this council of 
Constantinople, with that of Mcsea, as the foundation 
of their faith. By this religious policy, Theodosius did 
much to delay the fall of the empire. He won the friend- 
ship of his Egyptian subjects, as well as of their Saracen 


neighbours, all of whom, as far as they were Christian, 
held to the Mcene creed. Egypt became the safest of 
his provinces; and, when his armies had been recruited 
with so many barbarians that they could no longer be 
trusted, these new levies were marched into Egypt under 
the command of Hormisdas, and an equal number of 
Egyptians were drafted out of the army of Egypt, and 
led into Thessaly. 

When the season came for the overflow of the Nile, 


in the first summer after the destruction of the temples, 
the waters happened to rise more slowly than usual; and 
the Egyptians laid the blame upon the Christian emperor, 
who had forbidden their sacrificing the usual offerings in 
honour of the river-god. The alarm for the loss of their 
crops carried more weight in the religious controversy 
than any arguments that could be brought against pagan 
sacrifices; and the anger of the people soon threatened a 
serious rebellion. Evagrius the prefect, being disturbed 
for the peace of the country, sent to Constantinople 
for orders; but the emperor remained firm; he would 


make no change in the law against paganism, and the 
fears of the Egyptians and Alexandrians were soon put 
an end to by a most plenteous overflow. 

Since the time of Athanasius, and the overthrow of 
the Arian party in Alexandria, the learning of that city 
was wholly in the hands of the pagans, and was chiefly 
mathematical. Diophantus of Alexandria is the earliest 
writer on algebra whose works are now remaining to 
us, and has given his name to the Diophantine problems. 
Pappus wrote a description of the world, and a com- 
mentary on Ptolemy's Almagest, beside a work on geom- 
etry, published under the name of his Mathematical Col- 
lections. Theon, a professor in the museum, wrote on 
the smaller astrolabe— the instrument then used to meas- 
ure the star orbits— and on the rise of the Nile, a 
subject always of interest to the mathematicians of 
Egypt, from its importance to the husbandman. From 
Theon 's astronomical observations we learn that the 
Alexandrian astronomers stiU made use of the old Egyp- 
tian movable year of three hundred and sixty-five days 
only, and without a leap-year. Paul the Alexandrian 
astrologer, on the other hand, uses the Julian year of 
three hundred and sixty-five days and a quarter, and he 
dates from the era of Diocletian. His rules for telling 
the day of the week from the day of the month, and for 
telling on what day of the week each year began, teach 
us that our present mode of dividing time was used in 
Egypt. HorapoUo, the grammarian, was also then a 
teacher in the schools of Alexandria. He wrote in the 
Koptic language a work in explanation of the old 


hieroglypMcs, which has gained a notice far beyond its 
deserts, because it is the only work on the subject that 
has come down to us. 

The only Christian writings of this time, that we 
know of, are the paschal letters of Theophilus, Bishop of 
Alexandria, which were much praised by Jerome, and by 
him translated into Latin. They are full of bitter re- 
proaches against Origen and his writings, and they 
charge him with having treated Jesus more cruelly than 
Pilate or the Jews had done. John, the famous monk 
of the Thebaid, was no writer, though believed to have 
the gift of prophecy. He was said to have foretold the 
victory of Theodosius over the rebel Maximus; and, when 
the emperor had got together his troops to march against 
Eugenius, another rebel who had seized the passes of the 
Julian Alps, he sent his trusty eunuch Eutropius to fetch 
the holy Egyptian, or at least to learn from him what 
would be the event of the war. John refused to go to 
Europe, but he told the messenger that Theodosius would 
conquer the rebel, and soon afterwards die; both of which 
came to pass as might easily have been guessed. 

On the death of Theodosius, in 395, the Roman empire 
was again divided. Arcadius, his elder son, ruled Egypt 
and the East, while Honorius, the younger, held the 
West; and the reins of government at once passed from 
the ablest to the weakest hands. But the change was 
little felt in Egypt, which continued to be governed by 
the patriarch Theophilus, without the name but with 
very nearly the power of a prefect. He was a bold and 
wicked man, but as his religious opinions were for the 


Homoousians as against the Arians, and his political feel- 
ings were for the Egyptians as against the Greeks, he 
rallied to his government the chief strength of the prov- 
ince. As the pagans and Arians of Alexandria were no 
longer worthy of his enmity, he fanned into a flame a 
new quarrel which was then breaking out in the Egyptian 
church. The monks of Upper Egypt, who were mostly 
ignorant and unlettered men, were anthropomorphites, 
or believers that God was in outward shape like a man. 
They quoted from the Jewish Scriptures that he made 
man in his own image, in support of their opinion. They 
held that he was of a strictly human form, like Jesus, 
which to them seemed fully asserted in the Mcene creed. 
In this opinion they were opposed by those who were 
better educated, and it suited the policy of Theophilus 
to side with the more ignorant and larger party. He 
branded with the name of Origenists those who argued 
that God was without form, and who quoted the writings 
of Origen in support of their opinion. This naturally 
led to a dispute about Origen's orthodoxy; and that 
admirable writer, who had been praised by all parties 
for two hundred years, and who had been quoted as 
authority as much by Athanasius as by the Arians, was 
declared to be a heretic by a council of bishops. The 
writings of Origen were accordingly forbidden to be 
read, because they contradicted the anthropomorphite 

The quarrel between the Origenists and the anthro- 
pomorphites did not end in words. A proposition in 
theology, or a doubt in metaphysics, was no better cause 


of civil war than the old quarrels about the buU Apis 
or the crocodile ; but a change of religion had not changed 
the national character. The patriarch, finding his part/ 
the stronger, attacked the enemy in their own monas- 
teries; he marched to Mount Nitria at the head of a 
strong body of soldiers, and, enrolling under his banners 
the anthropomorphite monks, attacked Dioscorus and the 
Origenists, set fire to their monasteries, and laid waste 
the place. 

Theophilus next quarrelled with Peter, the chief of the 
Alexandrian presbyters, whom he accused of admitting 
to the sacraments of the church a woman who had not 
renoimced the Manichean heresy; and he then quarrelled 
with Isidorus, who had the charge of the poor of the 
church, because he bore witness that Peter had the 
orders of Theophilus himself for what he did. 

In this century there was a general digging up of 
the bodies of the most celebrated Christians of former 
ages, to heal the diseases and strengthen the faith of the 
living; and Constantinople, which as the capital of the 
empire had been ornamented by the spoils of its subject 
provinces, had latterly been enriching its churches with 
the remains of numerous Christian saints. The tombs 
of Egypt, crowded with mummies that had lain there 
for centuries, could of course furnish relics more easily 
than most countries, and in this reign Constantinople 
received from Alexandria a quantity of bones which were 
supposed to be those of the martyrs slain in the pagan 
persecutions. The archbishop John Chrysostom received 
them gratefully, and, though himself smarting under the 


reproach that he was not orthodox enough, for the super- 
stitious Egyptians, he thanks G-od that Egypt, which 
sent forth its grain to feed its hungry neighbours, could 
also send the bodies of so many martyrs to sanctify their 

We have traced the faU of the G-reek party in Alex- 
andria, in the victories over the Arians during the relig- 
ious quarrels of the last hundred years; and in the 
laws we now read the city's loss of wealth and power. 
The corporation of Alexandria was no longer able to bear 
the expense of cleansing the river and keeping open the 
canals; and four hundred so Z^'^Zi— about twelve hundred 
dollars— were each year set apart from the custom-house 
duties of the city for that useful work. 

The arrival of new settlers in Alexandria had been 
very much checked by the less prosperous state of the 
coimtry since the reign of Diocletian. We still find, 
however, that many of the men of note were not born 
in Egypt. Paulus, the physician, was a native of ^gina. 
He has left a work on diseases and their remedies. The 
chief man of learning was Synesius, a platonic philoso- 
pher whom the patriarch Theophilus persuaded to join 
the Christians. As a platonist he naturally leaned 
towards many of the doctrines of the popular religion, 
but he could not believe in a resurrection; and it was 
not tUl after Theophilus had ordained him Bishop of 
Ptolemais near Cyrene that he acknowledged the truth 
of that doctrine. ]!^or would he then put away or dis- 
own his wife, as the custom of the Church required; in- 
deed, he accepted the bishopric very unwUhngly. He was 


as fond of playful sport as he was of books, and very 
much disliked business. He has left a volume of writ- 
ings, which has saved the names of two prefects of 
Cyrene; the one Anysius, under whose good discipline 
even the barbarians of Hungary behaved like Eoman 
legionaries, and the other Pseonius, who cultivated 
science in this barren spot. To encourage Pseonius in 
his praiseworthy studies he made him a present of an 
astrolabe, to measure the distances of the stars and 
planets, an instrument which was constructed under 
the guidance of Hypatia. 

Trade and industry were checked by the unsettled 
state of the country, and misery and famine were spread- 
ing over the land. The African tribes of Mazices and 
Auxoriani, leaving the desert in hope of plunder, overran 
the province of Libya, and laid waste a large part of the 
Delta. The barbarians and the sands of the desert were 
alike encroaching on the cultivated fields. Nature 
seemed changed. The valley of the Nile was growing 
narrower. Even within the valley the retreating waters 
left behind them harvests less rich, and fever more putrid. 
The quarries were no longer worth working for their 
building stone. The mines yielded no more gold. 

On the death of Arcadius, his son Theodosius was 
only eight years old, but he was quietly acknowledged as 
Emperor of the East in 408, and he left the government 
of Egypt, as heretofore, very much in the hands of the 
patriarch. In the fifth year of his reign Theophilus died; 
and, as might be supposed, a successor was not appointed 
without a struggle for the double honour of Bishop of 



Alexandria and Governor of Egypt. The remains of the 
Greek and Arian party proposed Timotheus, an arch- 
deacon in the church; but the Egyptian party were 
united in favour of Cyril, a young man of learning and 
talent, who had the advantage of being the nephew of 
the late bishop. Whatever were the forms by which the 


election should have been governed, it was in reality 
settled by a battle between the two parties in the streets; 
and though Abundantius, the military prefect, gave the 
weight of his name, if not the strength of his cohort, to 
the party of Timotheus, yet his rival conquered, and 
Cyril was carried into the cathedral with a pomp more 
like a pagan triumph than the modest ordination of a 


Cyril was not less tyrannical in his bishopric than 
his uncle had been before him. His first care was to put a 
stop to all heresy in Alexandria, and his second to banish 
the Jews. The theatre was the spot in which the riots 
between Jews and Christians usually began, and the 
Sabbath was the time, as being the day on which the 
Jews chiefly crowded in to see the dancing. On one 
occasion the quarrel in the theatre ran so high that the 
prefect with his cohort was scarcely able to keep them 
from blows; and the Christians reproached the Jews 
with plotting to burn down the churches. But the Chris- 
tians were themselves guilty of the very crimes of which 
they accused their enemies. The next morning, as soon 
as it was light, Cyril headed the mob in their attacks 
upon the Jewish synagogues; they broke them open and 
plundered them, and in one day drove every Jew out 
of the city. N"o Jew had been allowed to live in Alex- 
andria or any other city without paying a poll-tax, for 
leave to worship his Grod according to the manner of his 
forefathers; but religious zeal is stronger than the love 
of money; the Jews were driven out, and the tax lost 
to the city. 

Orestes, the prefect of Alexandria, had before wished 
to check the power of the bishop; and he in vain tried 
to save the Jews from oppression, and the state from 
the loss of so many good citizens. But it was useless 
to quarrel with the patriarch, who was supported by the 
religious zeal of the whole population. The monks of 
Mount Mtria and of the neighbourhood burned with a 
holy zeal to fight for Cyril, as they had before fought 

Street and Mosque of Mahdjiar 


Street and Mosque of Mahdjiar 


for TheopMlus; and when they heard that a jealotisy 
had sprung up between the civil and ecclesiastical au- 
thorities, more than five hundred of them marched into 
Alexandria to avenge the affronted bishop. They met 
the prefect Orestes as he was passing through the streets 
in his open chariot, and began reproaching him with 
being a pagan and a Grreek. Orestes answered that he 
was a Christian, and he had been baptised at Constanti- 
nople. But this only cleared him of the lesser charge, 
he was certainly a Greek; and one of these Egyptian 
monks taking up a stone threw it at his head, and the 
blow covered his face with blood. They then fled from 
the guards and people who came up to help the wounded 
prefect; but Anamonius, who threw the stone, was taken 
and put to death with torture. The grateful bishop 
buried him in the church with much pomp; he declared 
him to be a martyr and a saint, and gave him the name 
of St. Thaumasius. But the Christians were ashamed 
of the new martyr: and the bishop, who could not with- 
stand the ridicule, soon afterwards withdrew from him 
the title. 

Bad as was this behaviour of the bishop and his 
friends, the most disgraceful tale still remains to be told. 
The beautiful and learned Hypatia, the daughter of 
Theon the mathematician, was at that time the ornament 
of Alexandria and the pride of the pagans. She taught 
philosophy publicly in the platonic school which had 
been founded by Ammonius, and which boasted of Plo- 
tinus as its pupil. She was as modest as she was graceful, 
eloquent, and learned; and though, being a pagan, she 


belonged to neither of the rival Christian parties, yet, 
as she had more hearers among the Greek friends of 
the prefect than among the ignorant followers of the 
bishop, she became an object of jealousy with the Ho- 
moousian party. A body of these Christians, says the 
orthodox historian, attacked this admirable woman in the 
street; they dragged her from her chariot, and hurried 
her off into the church named Caesar's temple, and there 
stripped her and murdered her with some broken tiles. 
She had written commentaries on the mathematical 
works of Diophantus, and on the conic sections of Apollo- 
nius. The story of her life has been related in the nine- 
teenth century by Charles Kingsley in the novel which 
bears her name. 

Arianism took refuge from the Egyptians within the 
camps of the Greek soldiers. One church was dedicated 
to the honour of St. George, the late bishop, within the 
lofty towers of the citadel of Babylon, which was the 
strongest fortress in Egypt; and a second in the city 
of Ptolemais, where a garrison was stationed to collect 
the toll of the Thebaid. St. George became a favourite 
saint with the Greeks in Egypt, and in those spots where 
the Greek soldiers were masters of the churches this 
Arian and unpopular bishop was often painted on the 
walls riding triumphantly on horseback and slaying the 
dragon of Athanasian error. On the other hand, in 
Alexandria, where his rival's politics and opinions held 
the upper hand, the monastery of St. Athanasius was 
built in the most public spot in the city, probably that 
formerly held by the Soma or royal burial-place; and 


in Thebes a cathedral churcli was dedicated to St. Atha- 
nasius within the great courtyard of Medinet-Abu, where 
the small and paltry Greek columns are in strange con- 
trast to the grand architecture of Ramses m. which 
surrounds them. 

In former reigns the Alexandrians had been in the 
habit of sending embassies to Constantinople to complain 
of tyranny or misgovemment, and to beg for a redress 
of grievances, when they thought that justice could be 
there obtained when it was refused in Alexandria. But 
this practice was stopped by Theodosius, who made a 
law that the Alexandrians should never send an embassy 
to Constantinople, unless it were agreed to by a decree 
of the town council, and had the approbation of the 
prefect. The weak and idle emperor would allow no 
appeal from the tyranny of his own governor. 

We may pass over the banishment of John Chrys- 
ostom, Bishop of Constantinople, as having less to do 
with the history of Egypt, though, as in the cases of 
Arius and Nestorius, the chief mover of the attack upon 
him was a bishop of Alexandria, who accused him of 
heresy, because he did not come up to the Egyptian 
standard of orthodoxy. But among the bishops who 
were deposed with Chrysostom was Palladius of Galatia, 
who was sent a prisoner to Syene. As soon as he was 
released from his bonds, instead of being cast down by 
his misfortunes, he proposed to take advantage of the 
place of his banishment, and he set forward on his travels 
through Ethiopia for India, in search of the wisdom of 
the Brahmins. He arrived in safety at Adule, the port 


on the Red Sea in latitude 15°, now known as Zula, where 
he made acquaintance with Moses, the bishop of that city, 
and persuaded him to join him in his distant and difficult 

From Adule the two set sail in one of the vessels 
employed in the Indian trade; but they were unable to 
accomplish their purpose, and Palladius returned to 
Egypt worn out with heat and fatigue, having scarcely 
touched the shores of India. On his return through 
Thebes he met with a traveller who had lately returned 
from the same journey, and who consoled him under 
his disappointment by recounting his own failure in the 
same undertaking. His new friend had himself been a 
merchant in the Indian trade, but had given up business 
because he was not successful in it; and, having taken 
a priest as his companion, had set out on the same voyage 
in search of Eastern wisdom. They had sailed to Adule 
on the Abyssinian shore, and then travelled to Auxum, 
the capital of that country. From that coast they set 
sail for the Indian ocean, and reached a coast which they 
thought was Taprobane or Ceylon. But there they were 
taken prisoners, and, after spending six years in slavery, 
and learning but little of the philosophy that they were 
in search of, were glad to take the first opportunity of 
escaping and returning to Egypt. Palladius had travelled 
in Egypt before he was sent there into banishment, and 
he had spent many years in examining the monasteries 
of the Thebaid and their rules, and he has left a history of 
the lives of many of those holy men and woman, addressed 
to his friend Lausus. 


When Nestorius was deposed from the bishopric of 
Constantinople for refusing to use the words " Mother of 
God " as the title of Jesus' mother, and for falling short 
in other points of what was then thought orthodoxy, he 
was banished to Hibe in the Great Oasis. While he was 
living there, the Great Oasis was overnm by the Blem- 
myes, the Roman garrison was defeated, and those that 
resisted were put to the sword. The Blemmyes pillaged 
the place and then withdrew; and, being themselves at 
war with the Maziees, another tribe of Arabs, they kindly 
sent their prisoners to the Thebaid, lest they should faU 
into the hands of the latter. Nestorius then went to 
Panopolis to show himself to the governor, lest he should 
be accused of running away from his place of banishment, 
and soon afterwards he died of the sufferings brought on 
by these forced and painful journeys through the desert. 

About the same time Egypt was visited by Cassianus, 
a monk of Gaul, in order to study the monastic institu- 
tions of the Thebaid. In his work on that subject he 
has described at length the way of life and the severe 
rules of the Egyptian monks, and has recommended them 
to the imitation of his countrymen. But the natives of 
Italy and the West do not seem to have been contented 
with copying the Theban monks at a distance. Such was 
the fame of the Egyptian monasteries that many zealots 
from Italy flocked there, to place themselves under the 
severe discipKne of those holy men. As these Latin 
monks did not understand either Koptic or Greek, they 
found some difficulty in regulating their lives with the 
wished-for exactness; and the rules of Pachomius, of 



Theodorus, and of Oresiesis, the most celebrated of the 
founders, were actually sent to Jerome at Rome, to be 
by him translated into Latin for the use of these settlers 
in the Thebaid. These Latin monks made St. Peter a 
popular saint in some parts of Egypt; and in the temple 
of Asseboua, in Nubia, when the Christians plastered 
over the figure of one of the old gods, they painted in 
its place the Apostle Peter holding the key in his hand. 

They did not alter the rest 
UU ^-4^ of the sculpture; so that 
Ramses II. is there now seen 
presenting his offering to 
the Christian saint. The 
mixed group gives us proof 
of the nation's decline in art 
rather than of its improve- 
ment in religion. 

Among the monks of 
Egypt there were also some 
men of learning and industry, who in their ceUs in the 
desert had made at least three translations of the New 
Testament into the three dialects of the Koptic language; 
namely, the Sahidic of Upper Egypt, the Bashmuric of 
the Bashmour province of the eastern half of the Delta, 
and the Koptic proper of Memphis and the western half 
of the Delta. To these were afterwards added the Acts 
of the council of Nicsea, the lives of the saints and mar- 
tyrs, the writings of many of the Christian fathers, the 
rituals of the Koptic church, and various treatises on 



Other monks were as busy in making copies of the 
Greek manuscripts of the Old and New Testament; and, 
as each copy must have needed the painful labour of 
months, and often years, their industry and zeal must 
have been great. Most of these manuscripts were on 
papyrus, or on a manufactured papyrus which might be 
called paper, and have long since been lost ; but the three 
most ancient copies on parchment which are the pride 
of the Vatican, the Paris library, and the British Museum, 
are the work of the Alexandrian penmen. 

Copies of the Bible were also made in Alexandria for 
sale in western Europe; and all our oldest manuscripts 
show their origin by the Egyptian form of spelling in 
some of the words. The Beza manuscript at Cambridge, 
and the Clermont manuscript at Paris, which have Greek 
on one side of the page and Latin on the other, were writ- 
ten in Alexandria. The Latin is that more ancient version 
which was in use before the time of Jerome, and which he 
corrected, to form what is now called the Latin Vulgate. 
This old version was made by changing each Greek word 
into its corresponding Latin word, with very little re- 
gard to the different characters of the two languages. It 
was no doubt made by an Alexandrian Greek, who had 
a Very sKght knowledge of Latin. 

Already the papyrus on which books were written 
was, for the most part, a manufactured article and might 
claim the name of paper. In the time of Pliny in the 
first century the sheets had been made in the old way; 
the slips of the plant laid one across the other had been 
held together by their own sticky sap without the help 


of glue. In the reign of Aurelian, in the third century, 
if not earlier, glue had been largely used in the manu- 
facture; and it is probable that at this time, in the fifth 
century, the manufactured article almost deserved the 
name of paper. But this manufactured papyrus was 
much weaker and less lasting than that made after the 
old and more simple fashion. No books written upon it 
remain to us. At a later period, the stronger fibre of 
flax was used in the manufacture, but the date of this 
improvement is also unknown, because at first the paper 
so made, like that made from the papyrus fibre, was 
also too weak to last. It was doubtless an Alexandrian 
improvement. Flax was an Egyptian plant; paper-mak- 
ing was an Egyptian trade; and Theophilus, a Roman 
writer on manufactures, when speaking of paper made 
from fiax, clearly points to its Alexandrian origin, by 
giving it the name of Greek parchment. Between the 
papyrus of the third century, and the strong paper of the 
eleventh century, no books remain to us but those written 
on parchment. 

The monks of Mount Sinai suffered much during these 
reigns of weakness from the marauding attacks of the 
Arabs. These men had no strong monastery; but hun- 
dreds of them lived apart in single cells in the side of the 
mountains round the valley of Feiran, at the foot of 
Mount Serbal, and they had nothing to protect them 
but their poverty. They were not protected by Egypt, 
and they made treaties with the neighbouring Arabs, 
like an independent republic, of which the town of Feiran 
was the capital. The Arabs, from the Jordan to the Eed 



Sea, made robbery the employ- 
ment of their lives, and they 
added much to the voluntary 
sufferings of the monks. Nilus, 
a monk who had left his family 
in Egypt, to spend his life in 
prayer and study on the spot 
where Moses was appointed the 
legislator of Israel, describes 
these attacks upon his brethren, 
and he boasts over the Israelites 
that, notwithstanding their suf- 
ferings, the monks spent their 
whole lives cheerfully in those 
very deserts which Grod's chosen 
people could not even pass 
through without murmuring. 
Nilus has left some letters and 
exhortations. It was then, prob- 
ably, that the numerous inscrip- 
tions were made on the rocks at 
the foot of Mount Serbal, and on 
the path towards its sacred peak, 
which have given to one spot the 
name of Mokatteb, or the val- 
ley of writing. A few of these 
inscriptions are in the Greek 

The Egyptian physicians had 
of old always formed a part of 



the priesthood, and they seem to have done much the 
same after the spread of Christianity. We find some 
monks named Parabalani, who owned the Bishop of Alex- 
andria as their head, and who united the offices of physi- 
cian and nurse in waiting on the sick and dying. As they 
professed poverty they were maintained by the state and 
had other privileges; and hence it was a place much 
sought after, and even by the wealthy. But to lessen this 
abuse it was ordered by an imperial rescript that none 
but poor people who had been rate-payers should be 
Parabalani; and their number was limited, first to five 
hundred, but afterwards, at the request of the bishop, to 
six hundred. A second charitable institution in Alex- 
andria had the care of strangers and the poor, and was 
also managed by one of the priests. 

Alexandria was fast sinking in wealth and popula- 
tion, and several new laws were now made to lessen its 
difficulties. One was to add a hundred and ten bushels 
of grain to the daily alimony of the city, the supply on 
which the riotous citizens were fed in idleness. By a sec- 
ond and a third law the five chief men in the corporation, 
and eveiy man that had filled a ciAdc office for thirty 
years, were freed from all bodily pimishment, and only 
to be fined when convicted of a crime. Theodosius built 
a large church in Alexandria, which was called after his 
name; and the provincial judges were told in a letter 
to the prefect that, if they wished to earn the emperor's 
praise, they must not only restore those btdldings which 
were falling through age and neglect but must also build 
new ones. 


Though the pagan philosophy had been much dis- 
couraged at Alexandria by the destruction of the temples 
and the cessation of the sacrifices, yet the philosophers 
were stUl allowed to teach in the schools. Syrianus was 
at the head of the Platonists, and he wrote largely on 
the Orphic, Pythagorean, and Platonic doctrines. In his 
Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics he aims at show- 
ing how a Pythagorean or a Platonist would successfully 
answer Aristotle's objections. He seems to look upon 
the writings of Plotinus, Porphyry, and lambKchus as 
the true fountains of Platonic wisdom, quite as much as 
the works of the great philosopher who gave his name 
to the sect. Syrianus afterwards removed to Athens, 
to take charge of the Platonic school in that city, and 
Athens became the chief seat of Alexandrian Platonism. 

Olympiodorus was at the same time imdertaking the 
task of formiag a Peripatetic school in Alexandria, in 
opposition to the new Platonism, and he has left some 
of the fruits of his labour in his Commentaries on Aris- 
totle. But the Peripatetic philosophy was no longer 
attractive to the pagans, though after the fall of the cate- 
chetical school it had a strong following of Christian 
disciples. Olympiodorus also wrote a history, but it 
has long since been lost, with other works of a second- 
rate merit. He was a native of the Thebaid, and travelled 
over his country. He described the Grreat Oasis as still 
a highly cultivated spot, where the husbandman watered 
his fields every third day in summer, and every fifth day 
in winter, from weUs of two and three hundred feet in 
depth, and thereby raised two crops of barley, and often 


three of millet, in a year. Olympiodorus also travelled 
beyond Syene into Nubia, with some danger from the 
Blemmyes, but he was not able to see the emerald mines, 
which were worked on Mount Smaragdus in the Arabian 
desert between Koptos and Berenice, and which seem 
to have been the chief object of his journey. 

Proclus came to Alexandria about the end of this 
reign, and studied many years under Olympiodorus, but 
not to the neglect of the platonic philosophy, of which 
he afterwards became such a distinguished ornament and 
support. The other Alexandrians under whom Proclus 
studied were Hero, the mathematician, a devout and 
religious pagan, Leonas, the rhetorician, who introduced 
him to all the chief men of learning, and Orion, the gram- 
marian, who boasted of his descent from the race of 
Theban priests. Thus the pagans still held up their heads 
in the schools. Nor were the ceremonies of their relig- 
ion, though unlawful, wholly stopped. In the twenty- 
eighth year of this reign, when the people were assembled 
in a theatre at Alexandria to celebrate the midnight 
festival of the Nile, a sacrifice which had been forbidden 
by Constantine and the council of Nicsea, the building 
fell beneath the weight of the crowd, and upwards of five 
hundred persons were killed by the fall. 

It will be of some interest to review here the ma- 
chinery of officers and deputies, civil as weU as military, 
by which Egypt was governed under the successors of 
Constantine. The whole of the Eastern empire was placed 
under two prefects, the pretorian prefect of the East 
and the pretorian prefect of Illyricum, who, living at 


Constantinople, like modem secretaries of state, made 
edicts for the government of tlie provinces and heard 
the appeals. Under the prefect of the East were fif- 
teen consular provinces, together with Egypt, which 
was not any longer under one prefect. There was no 
consular governor in Egypt between the prefect at Con- 
stantinople and the six prefects of the smaller provinces. 
These provinces were Upper Libya or Cyrene, Lower 
Libya or the Oasis, the Thebaid, ^gyptiaca or the west- 
ern part of the Delta, Augustanica or the eastern part 
of the Delta, and the Heptanomis, now named Arcadia, 
after the late emperor. Each of these was under an 
Augustal prefect, attended by a Princeps, a Cornicula- 
rius, an Adjutor, and others, and was assisted in civil 
matters by a Commentariensis, a corresponding secre- 
tary, a secretary ah actis, with a crowd of numerarii or 

The military government was imder a count with two 
dukes, with a number of legions, cohorts, troops, and 
wedges of cavalry, stationed in about fifty cities, which, 
if they had looked as well in the field as they do upon 
paper, would have made Theodosius II. as powerful as 
Augustus. But the number of Greek and Roman troops 
was small. The rest were barbarians who held their own 
lives at smaU price, and the lives of the unhappy Egyp- 
tians at still less. The Greeks were only a part of 
the fifth Macedonian legion, and Trajan's second legion, 
which were stationed at Memphis, at Parembole, and 
at Apollinopolis; while from the names of the other 
cohorts we learn that they were Franks, Portuguese, 


Germans, Quadri, Spaniards, Britons, Moors, Vandals, 
Gauls, Sarmati, Assyrians, Galatians, Africans, Numid- 
ians, and others of less known and more remote places. 
Egypt itself f urnislied the Egyptian legion, part of which 
was in Mesopotamia, Diocletian's third legion of The- 
bans, the first Maximinian legion of Thebans which was 
stationed in Thrace, Constantine's second Flavian legion 
of Thebans, Valens' second Felix legion of Thebans, and 
the Julian Alexandrian legion, stationed in Thrace. Be- 
side these, there were several bodies of native militia, 
from Abydos, Syene, and other cities, which were not 
formed into legions. The Egyptian cavalry were a first 
and second Egyptian troop, several bodies of native arch- 
ers mounted, three troops on dromedaries, and a body of 
Diocletian's third legion promoted to the cavalry. These 
Egyptian troops were chiefly Arab settlers in the The- 
baid, for the Kopts had long since lost the use of arms. 
The Kopts were weak enough to be trampled on; but 
the Arabs were worth bribing by admission into the 
legions. The taxes of the province were collected by a 
number of counts of the sacred largesses, who were under 
the orders of an officer of the same title at Constantinople, 
and were helped by a body of counts of the exports and 
imports, prefects of the treasury and of the mints, with 
an army of clerks of all titles and all ranks. From this 
government the Alexandrians were exempt, living under 
their own military prefect and corporation, and, instead 
of paying any taxes beyond the custom-house duties at 
the port, they received a bounty in grain out of the taxes 
of Egypt.' 


Soon after this we find tlie political division of Egypt 
slightly altered. It is then divided into eight govern- 
ments; the Upper Thebaid with eleven cities under a 
duke; the Lower Thebaid with ten cities, including the 
Great Oasis and part of the Heptanomis, under a general; 
Upper Libya or Cyrene under a general; Lower Libya 
or Parsetonium under a general; Arcadia, or the remain- 
der of the Heptanomis, under a general; ^gyptiaca, or 
the western half of the Delta, under an AugustaUan pre- 
fect; the first Augustan government, or the rest of the 
Delta, under a Corrector; and the second Augustan gov- 
ernment, from Bubastis to the Red Sea, under a general. 
We also meet with several military stations named after 
the late emperors: a Maximianopolis and a Dioclesian- 
opolis in the Upper Thebaid; a Theodosianopolis in the 
Lower Thebaid, and a second Theodosianopolis in Ar- 
cadia. But it is not easy to determine what villages were 
meant by these high-sounding names, which were per- 
haps only used in official documents. 

The empire of the East was gradually sinking in 
power during this long and quiet reign of Theodosius II. ; 
but the empire of the West was being hurried to its fall 
by the revolt of the barbarians in every one of its wide- 
spread provinces. Henceforth in the weakness of the 
two countries Egypt and Rome are wholly separated. 
After having influenced one another in politics, in litera- 
ture, and in religion for seven centuries, they were now 
as little known to one another as they were before the 
day when Fabius arrived at Alexandria on an embassy 
from the senate to Ptolemy Philadelphus. 


Theological and political quarrels, \mder the name 
of the Homoousian and Arian controversy, had nearly- 
separated Egypt from the rest of the empire during the 
reigns of Constantius and Valens, but they had been 
healed by the wisdom of the first Theodosius, who gov- 
erned Egypt by means of a popular bishop; and the 
policy which he so wisely began was continued by his 
successors through weakness. But in the reign of Mar- 
cian (450—457) the old quarrel again broke out, and, 
though it was imder a new name, it again took the form 
of a religious controversy. Cyril, the Bishop of Alex- 
andria, died in the last reign; and as he had succeeded 
his imcle, so on his death the bishopric fell to Dioscorus, 
a relation of his own, a man of equal religious violence 
and of less learning, who differed from him only in the 
points of doctrine about which he should quarrel with 
his fellow-Christians. About the same time Eutyches, 
a priest of Constantinople, had been condemned by his 
superiors and expeUed from the Church for denying the 
two natures of Christ, and for maintaining that he was 
truly God, and in no respect a man. This was the opinion 
of the Egyptian church, and therefore Dioscorus, the 
Bishop of Alexandria, who had no right whatever to med- 
dle in the quarrels at Constantinople, yet, acting on the 
forgotten rule that each bishop's power extended over 
all Christendom, undertook of his own authority to ab- 
solve Eutyches from his excommunication, and in return 
to excommunicate the Bishop of Constantinople who had 
condemned him. To settle this quarrel, a general council 
was summoned at Chalcedon; and there six hundred and 


thirty-two bishops met and condenmed the faith of Euty- 
ches, and further explained the Nicene creed, to which 
Eutyches and the Egyptians always appealed. They ex- 
communicated Eutyches and his patron Dioscorus, who 
were banished by the emperor; and they elected Prote- 
rius to the then vacant bishopric of Alexandria. 

In thus condemning the faith of Eutyches, the Greeks 
were excommunicating the whole of Egypt. The Egyp- 
tian belief in the one nature of Christ, which soon after- 
wards took the name of the Jacobite faith from one of 
its popular supporters, might perhaps be distinguished 
by the microscopic eye of the controversialist from the 
faith of Eutyches; but they equally fell under the con- 
demnation of the council of Chalcedon. Egypt was no 
longer divided in its religious opinions. There had been 
a party who, though Egyptian in blood, held the Arian 
and haK- Arian opinions of the Greeks, but that party 
had ceased to exist. Their religion had puUed one way 
and their political feelings another; the latter were found 
the stronger, as being more closely rooted to the soil; 
and their religious opinions had by this time fitted them- 
selves to the geographical boundaries of the country. 
Hence the decrees of the council of Chalcedon were re- 
jected by the whole of Egypt; and the quarrel between 
the Chalcedonian and Jacobite party, like the former 
quarrel between the Athanasians and the Arians, was 
little more than another name for the unwillingness of 
the Egyptians to be governed by Constantinople. 

Proterius, the new bishop, entered Alexandria sup- 
ported by the prefect Elorus at the head of the troops.. 


But this was the signal for a revolt of the Egyptians, 
who overpowered the cohort with darts and stones; and 
the magistrates were driven to save their lives in the 
celebrated temple of Serapis. But they found no safety 
there; the mob surrounded the building and set fire to 
it, and burned alive the Greek magistrates and friends 
of the new bishop; and the city remained in the power 
of the rebellious Egyptians. When the news of this ris- 
ing reached Constantinople the emperor sent to Egypt 
a further force of two thousand men, who stormed Alex- 
andria and sacked it like a conquered city, and estab- 
lished Proterius in the bishopric. As a punishment upon 
the city for its rebellion, the prefect stopped for some 
time the public games and the allowance of grain to the 
citizens, and only restored them after the return to peace 
and good order. 

In the weak state of the empire, the Blemmyes, and 
Nubades, or IsTobatse, had latterly been renewing their 
inroads upon Upper Egypt; they had overpowered the 
Romans, as the Greek and barbarian troops of Constan- 
tinople were always called, and had carried off a large 
booty and a number of prisoners. Maximinus, the impe- 
rial general, then led his forces against them; he defeated 
them, and made them beg for peace. The barbarians 
then proposed, as the terms of their surrender, never to 
enter Egypt while Maximinus commanded the troops in 
the Thebaid; but the conqueror was not contented with 
such an unsatisfactory submission, and would make no 
treaty with them till they had released the Roman pris- 
oners without ransom, paid for the booty that they had 


taken, and given a number of the nobles as hostages. 
On this Maximinus agreed to a truce of a hundred 

The people now called the Nubians, living on both 
sides of the cataract of Syene, declared themselves of 
the true Egyptian race by their religious practices. They 
had an old custom of going each year to the temple of 
Isis on the isle of Elephantine, and of carrying away 
one of the statues with them and re- 
turning it to the temple when they had 
consulted it. But as they were now being 
driven out of the province, they bargained 
with Maximinus for permission to visit 
the temple each year without hindrance 
from the Roman guards. The treaty was 
written on papyrus and nailed up in this 
temple. But friendship in the desert, says the proverb, 
is as weak and wavering as the shade of the acacia tree ; 
this truce was no sooner agreed upon than Maximinus 
fell ill and died; and the Nubades at once broke the 
treaty, regained by force their hostages, who had not yet 
been carried out of the Thebaid, and overran the province 
as they had done before their defeat. 

By this success of the Nubians, Christianity was 
largely driven out of Upper Egypt; and about seventy 
years after the law of Thedosius I., by which paganism 
was supposed to be crushed, the religion of Isis and 
Serapis was again openly professed in the Thebaid, where 
it had perhaps always been cultivated in secret. A cer- 
tain master of the robes in one of the Egyptian temples 



came at tMs time to the temple of Isis in the island of 
Philse, and his votive inscription there declares that he 
was the son of Pachomius, a prophet, and successor by 
direct descent from a yet more famous P'achomius, a 
prophet, who we may easily believe was the Christian 
prophet who gathered together so many followers in the 
island of Tabenna, near Thebes, and there founded an 
order of Christian monks. These Christians now all 
returned to their paganism. Nearly all the remains of 
Christian architecture which we meet with in the The- 
baid were built during the hundred and sixty years be- 
tween the defeat of the Nubians by Diocletian, and their 
victories in the reign of Marcian. 

The Nubians were far more civilised than their neigh- 
bours, the Blemmyes, whom they were usually able to 
drive back into their native deserts. We find an inscrip- 
tion in bad Greek, in the great temple at Talmis, now 
the village of Kalabshe, which was probably written 
about this time. A conqueror of the name of Silco there 
declares that he is king of the Nubians and all the Ethi- 
opians; that in the upper part of his kingdom he is called 
Mars, and in the lower part Lion; that he is as great as 
any king of his day; that he has defeated the Blemmyes 
in battle again and again; and that he has made him- 
self master of the coimtry between Talmis and Primis. 
While such were the neighbours and inhabitants of the 
Thebaid, the fields were only half-tilled, and the desert 
was encroaching on the paths of man. The sand was 
filling up the temples, covering the overthrown statues, 
and blocking up the doors to the tombs; but it was at 


the same time saving, to be dug out in after ages, those 
records which the living no longer valued. 

On the death of the Emperor Marcian, the Alexan- 
drians, taking advantage of the absence of the military 
prefect Dionysius, who was then fighting against the 
Nubades in Upper Egypt, renewed their attack upon the 
Bishop Proterius, and deposed him from his office. To 
fill his place they made choice of a monk named Timo- 
theus ^lurus, who held the Jacobite faith, and, having 
among them two deposed bishops, they got them to or- 
dain him Bishop of Alexandria, and then led him by force 
of arms into the great church which had formerly been 
called Caesar's temple. Upon hearing of the rebellion, 
the prefect returned in haste to Alexandria; but his ap- 
proach was only the signal for greater violence, and the 
enraged people murdered Proterius in the baptistery, 
and hung up his body at the Tetrapylon in mockery. 
This was not a rebellion of the mob. Timotheus was 
supported by the men of chief rank in the city; the 
Honorati who had borne state offices, the PoUtici who 
had borne civic offices, and the Navicularii, or contractors 
for the freight of the Egyptian tribute, were all opposed 
to the emperor's claim to appoint the officer whose duties 
were much more those of prefect of the city than patri- 
arch of Egypt. With such an opposition as this, the 
emperor would do nothing without the greatest caution, 
for he was in danger of losing Egypt altogether. But 
so much were the minds of all men then engrossed in 
ecclesiastical matters that this political struggle wholly 
took the form of a dispute in controversial divinity, and 


the emperor wrote a letter to the chief bishops in Chris- 
tendom to ask their advice in his difficulty. These theo- 
logians were too busily engaged in their controversies 
to take any notice of the danger of Egypt's revolting 
from the empire and joining the Persians; so they 
strongly advised Leo not to depart from the decrees of 
the council of Chalcedon, or to acknowledge as Bishop 
of Alexandria a man who denied the two natures of 
Christ. Accordingly, the emperor again risked breaking 
the slender ties by which he held Egypt; he banished 
the popular bishop, and forced the Alexandrians to re- 
ceive in his place one who held the Chalcedonian faith. 

On the death of Leo, he was succeeded by his grand- 
son, Leo the Younger, who died in 473, after a reign of 
one year, and was succeeded by his father Zeno, the son- 
in-law of the elder Leo. Zeno gave himself up at once 
to debauchery and vice, while the empire was harassed 
on all sides by the barbarians, and the provinces were 
roused into rebellion by the cruelty of the prefects. The 
rebels at last found a head in Basilicus, the brother-in- 
law of Leo. He declared himself of the Jacobite faith, 
which was the faith of the barbarian enemies, of the 
barbarian troops, and of the barbarian allies of the em- 
pire, and, proclaiming himself emperor, made himself 
master of Constantinople without a battle, and drove 
Zeno into banishment in the third year of his reign. 

The first step of Basilicus was to recall from banish- 
ment Timotheus ^lurus, the late Bishop of Alexandria, 
and to restore him to the bishopric (a. d. 477) . He then 
addressed to him and the other recalled bishops a cir- 


cular letter, in which he repeals the decrees of the council 
of Chalcedon, and re-establishes the Nicene creed, declar- 
ing that Jesus was of one substance with the Father, and 
that Mary was the mother of God. The march of Timo- 
theus to the seat of his own government, from Constan- 
tinople whither he had been summoned, was more like 
that of a copqueror than of a preacher of peace. He 
deposed some bishops and restored others, and, as the 
decrees of the council of Chalcedon were the particular 
objects of his hatred, he restored to the city of Ephesus 
the patriarchal power which that synod had taken away 
from it. Basilicus reigned for about two years, when 
he was defeated and put to death by Zeno, who regained 
the throne. 

As soon as Zeno was again master of the empire, he 
re-established the creed of the council of Chalcedon, and 
drove away the Jacobite bishops from their bishoprics. 
Death, however, removed Timotheus ^lurus before the 
emperor's orders were put in force in Alexandria, and 
the Egyptians then chose Peter Mongus as his successor, 
in direct opposition to the orders from Constantinople. 
But the emperor was resolved not to be beaten; the bish- 
opric of Alexandria was so much a civil office that to 
have given up the appointment to the Egyptians would 
have been to allow the people to govern themselves; so 
he banished Peter, and recalled to the head of the Church 
Timotheus Salophaciolus, who had been living at Cano- 
pus ever since his loss of the bishopric. 

But, as the patriarch of Alexandria enjoyed the eccle- 
siastical revenues, and was still in appearance a teacher 


of religion, the Alexandrians, in recollection of the former 
rights of the Church, still claimed the appointment. 
They sent John, a priest of their own faith and dean of 
the church of John the Baptist, as their ambassador 
to Constantinople, not to remonstrate against the late 
acts of the emperor, but to beg that on future occasions 
the Alexandrians might be allowed the old privilege of 
choosing their own bishop. The Emperor Zeno seems 
to have seen through the ambassador's earnestness, and 
he first bound him by an oath not to accept the bishopric 
if he should even be himself chosen to it, and he then 
sent him back with the promise that the Alexandrians 
should be allowed to choose their own patriarch on the 
next vacancy. But imfortunately John's ambition was 
too strong for his oath, and on the death of Timotheus, 
which happened soon afterwards, he spent a large sum 
of money in bribes among the clergy and chief men of 
the city, and thereby got himself chosen patriarch. On 
this, the emperor seems to have thought only of punish- 
ing John, and he at once gave up the struggle with the 
Egyptians. Believing that, of the two patriarchs who 
had been chosen by the people, Peter Mongus, who was 
living in banishment, would be found more dutiful than 
John, who was on the episcopal throne, he banished John 
and recalled Peter; and the latter agreed to the terms 
of an imperial edict which Zeno then put forth, to heal 
the disputes in the Egyptian church, and to recall the 
province to obedience. This celebrated peace-making 
edict, usually called the Henoticon, is addressed to the 
clergy and laity of Alexandria, Egypt, Libya, and the 



Pentapolis, and is an agreement between the emperor 
and the bishops who countersigned it, that neither party 
should ever mention the decrees of the council of Chal- 
cedon, which were the great stumbling-block with the 
J]gyptians. But in all other points the Henoticon is little 


■short of a surrender to the people of the right to choose 
their own creed; it styles Mary the mother of God, and 
allows that the decrees of the council of Nicaea and Con- 
stantinople contain all that is important of the true faith. 
John, when banished by Zeno, like many of the former 


deposed bishops, fled to Rome for comfort and for help. 
There he met with the usual support; and Felix, Bishop 
of Eome, wrote to Constantinople, remonstrating with 
Zeno for dismissing the patriarch. But this was only a 
small part of the emperor's want of success in his at- 
tempt at peace-making; for the crafty Peter, who had 
gained the bishopric by subscribing to the peace-mak- 
ing edict, was no sooner safely seated on his episco- 
pal throne than he denounced the council of Chalcedon 
and its decrees as heretical, and drove out of their mon- 
asteries all those who still adhered to that faith. Nepha- 
lius, one of these monks, wrote to the emperor at Con- 
stantinople in complaint, and Zeno sent Cosmas to the 
bishop to threaten him with his imperial displeasure, 
and to try to re-establish peace in the Church. But the 
arguments of Cosmas were wholly unsuccessful; and 
Zeno then sent an increase of force to Arsenius, the mili- 
tary prefect, who settled the quarrel for the time by 
sending back the most rebellious of the Alexandrians as 
prisoners to Constantinople. 

Soon after this dispute Peter Mongus died, and for- 
tunately he was succeeded in the bishopric by a peace- 
maker. Athanasius, the new bishop, very unlike his 
great predecessor of the same name, did his best to heal 
the angry disputes in the Church, and to reconcile the 
Egyptians to the imperial government. 

Hierocles, the Alexandrian, was at this time teach- 
ing philosophy in his native city, where his zeal and 
eloquence in favour of Platonism drew upon him the 
anger of the Christians and the notice of the government. 


He was sent to Constantinople to be punislied for not 
believing in Christianity, for it does not appear that, 
like the former Hierocles, he ever wrote against it. There 
he bore a public scourging from his Christian torturers, 
with a courage equal to that formerly shown by their 
forefathers when tortured by his. When some of the 
blood from his shoulders flew into his hand, he held it 
out in scorn to the judge, saying with Ulysses, ** Cyclops, 
since human flesh has been thy food, now taste this wine." 
After his pimishment he was banished, but was soon 
allowed to return to Alexandria, and there he again 
taught openly as before. Paganism never wears so fair 
a dress as in the writings of Hierocles; his commentary 
on the Golden Verses of the Pythagoreans is full of the 
loftiest and purest morality, and not less agreeable are 
the fragments that remain of his writings on our duties, 
and his beautiful chapter on the pleasures of a married 
life. In the Facetiae of Hierocles we have one of the 
earliest jest-books that has been saved from the wreck 
of time. It is a curious proof of the fallen state of learn- 
ing; the Sophists had long since made themselves ridic- 
ulous; books alone will not make a man of sense; and 
in the jokes of Hierocles the blunderer is always called a 
man of learning. 

^tius, the Alexandrian physician, has left a large 
work containing a full account of the state of Egyptian 
medicine at this time. He describes the diseases and 
their remedies, quoting the recipes of numerous authors, 
from the King Nechepsus, Galen, Hippocrates, and Dios- 
corides, down to Archbishop Cyril. He is not wholly free 


from superstition, as when making use of a green jasper 
set in a ring; but he observes that the patients recovered 
as soon when the stone was plain as when a dragon was 
engraved upon it according to the recommendation of 
Nechepsus. In Nile water he finds every virtue, and does 
not forget dark paint for the ladies' eyebrows, and Cleo- 
patra-wash for the face. 

Anastasius, the next emperor, succeeding in 491, fol- 
lowed the wise policy which Zeno had entered upon in 
the latter years of his reign, and he strictly adhered to- 
the terms of the peace-making edict. The four patriarchs 
of Alexandria who were chosen during this reign, John,, 
a second John, Dioscorus, and Timotheus, were all of the 
Jacobite faith; and the Egyptians readily believed that 
the emperor was of the same opinion. When called upon 
by the quarrelling theologians, he would neither reject 
nor receive the decrees of the council of Chalcedon, and 
by this wise conduct he governed Egypt without any 
religious rebellion during a long reign. 

The election of Dioscorus, however, the third patri- 
arch of this reign, was not brought about peaceably. He 
was the cousin of a former patriarch, Timotheus ^lurus, 
which, if we view the bishopric as a civil office, might 
be a reason for the emperor's wishing him to have the 
appointment. But it was no good reason with the Alex- 
andrians, who declared that he had not been chosen ac- 
cording to the canons of the apostles; and the magis- 
trates of the city were forced to employ the troqps to lead 
him in safety to his throne. After the first ceremony, 
he went, as was usual at an installation, to St. Mark's 


Church, and there the clergy robed him in the patriarchal 
state robes. The grand procession then moved through 
the streets to the church of St. John, where the new 
bishop went through the communion service. But the 
city was much disturbed during the whole day, and in 
the riot Theodosius, the son of CaUiopus, a man of Au- 
gustalian rank, was killed by the mob. The Alexandrians 
treated the affair as murder, and punished with death 
those who were thought guilty; but the emperor looked 
upon it as a rebellion of the citizens, and the bishop 
was obliged to go on an embassy to Constantinople to 
appease his just anger. 

Anastasius, who had deserved the obedience of the 
Egyptians by his moderation, pardoned their ingratitude 
when they offended; but he was the last Byzantine em- 
peror who governed Egypt with wisdom, and the last 
who failed to enforce the decrees of the coimcil of Chal- 
cedon. It may well be doubted whether any wise con- 
duct on the part of the rulers could have healed the 
quarrel between the two countries, and made the Egyp- 
tians forget the wrongs that they had suffered from the 

In the tenth year of the reign of Anastasius, a. d. 501, 
the Persians, after overrunning a large part of Syria 
and defeating the Roman generals, passed Pelusium and 
entered Egypt. The army of Kobades laid waste the 
whole of the Delta up to the very waUs of Alexandria. 
Eustatius, the military prefect, led out his forces against 
the invaders and fought many battles with doubtful suc- 
cess; but as the capital was safe the Persians were at 


last obliged to retire, leaving the people ruined as much 
by the loss of a harvest as by the sword. Alexandria 
suffered severely from famine and the diseases which 
followed in its train; and history has gratefully recorded 
the name of Urbib, a Christian Jew of great wealth, who 
relieved the starving poor of that city with his boimty. 
Three hundred persons were crushed to death in the 
church of Arcadius on Easter Sunday in the press of the 
crowd to receive his alms. As war brought on disease 
and famine, they also brought on rebellion. The people 
of Alexandria, in want of grain and oil, rose against the 
magistrates, and many lives were lost in the attempt to 
queU the riots. 

In the early part of this history we have seen ambi- 
tious bishops quickly disposed of by banishment to 
the Great Oasis ; and again, as the country became more 
desolate, criminals were sufficiently separated from the 
rest of the empire by being sent to Thebes. Alexandria 
was then the last place in the world in which a pretender 
to the throne would be allowed to live. But Egypt was 
now ruined; and Anastasius began his reign by banish- 
ing, to the fallen Alexandria, Longinus, the brother of 
the late king, and he had him ordained a presbyter, to 
mark him as unfit for the throne. 

Julianus, who was during a part of this reign the 
prefect of Egypt, was also a poet, and he has left us a 
mmaber of short epigrams that form part of the volume 
of Greek Anthology which was published at Constan- 
tinople soon after this time. Christodorus of Thebes 
was another poet who joined with Julianus in praising 



the Emperor Anastasius. He also removed to Constanti- 
nople, tlie seat of patronage; and the fifth book of the 
Greek Anthology contains his epigrams on the winners 
in the horse-race in that city and on the statues which 
stood around the public gymnasium. The poet's song, 
like the traveller's tale, often related the wonders of the 
river Nile. The overflowing waters first manured the 
fields, and then watered the crops, and lastly carried the 


grain to market; and one writer in the Anthology, to 
describe the country life in Egypt, tells the story of a 
sailor, who, to avoid the dangers of the ocean, turned 
husbandman, and was then shipwrecked in his own 

The book-writers at this time sometimes illuminated 
their more valuable parchments with gold and silver 
letters and sometimes employed painters to ornament 
them with small paintings. The beautiful copy of the 


work of Dioscorides on Plants in the library at Vienna 
was made in tMs reign for the Princess Juliana of Con- 
stantinople. In one painting the figure of science or 
invention is holding up a plant, while on one side of her 
is the painter drawing it on his canvas, and on the other 
side is the author describing it in his book. Other paint- 
ings are of the plants and animals mentioned in the book. 
A copy of the Book of Genesis, also in the library at 
Vienna, is of the same class and date. A large part of 
it is written in gold and silver; and it has eighty-eight 
small paintings of various historical subjects. In these 
the story is well told, though the drawing and perspec- 
tive are bad and the figures crowded. But these Alexan- 
drian paintings are better than those made in Rome or 
Constantinople at this time. 

With the spread of Christianity theatrical representa- 
tions had been gradually going out of use. The Greek 
tragedies, as we see in the works of ^schylus, Sophocles, 
and Euripides, those models of pure taste in poetry, are 
founded on the pagan mythology; and in many of them 
the gods are made to walk and talk upon the stage. 
Hence they of necessity fell under the ban of the clergy. 
As the Christians became more powerful the several 
cities of the empire had one by one discontinued these 
popular spectacles, and horse-races usually took their 
place. But the Alexandrians were the last people to 
give up a favourite amusement; and by the end of this 
reign Alexandria was the only city in the empire where 
tragic and comic actors and Eastern dancers were to be 
seen in the theatre. 


The tower or lighthouse on the island of Pharos, the 
work of days more prosperous than these, had latterly 
been sadly neglected with the other buildings of the 
country. For more than seven hundred years, the pilot 
on approaching this flat shore after dark had pointed 
out to his shipmate what seemed a star on the horizon, 
and comforted him with the promise of a safe entrance 
into the haven, and told him of Alexander's tower. But 
the waves breaking against its foot had long since car- 
ried away the outworks, and laid bare the foundations; 
the wall was undermined and its fall seemed close at 
hand. The care of Anastasius, however, surrounded it 
again with piles and buttresses; and this monument of 
wisdom and science, which deserved to last for ever, was 
for a little while longer saved from ruin. An epigram 
in the Anthology informs us that Ammonius was the 
name of the builder who performed this good work, and 
to him and to Neptune the grateful sailors then raised 
their hands in prayer and praise. 

In 518 Justin I. succeeded Anastasius on the throne 
of Constantinople, and in the task of defending the em- 
pire against the Persians. And this task became every 
year more difficult, as the Greek population of his Egyp- 
tian and Asiatic provinces fell off in numbers. For some 
years after the division of the empire under the sons of 
Constantine, Antioch in Syria had been the capital from 
which Alexandria received the emperor's cormnands. 
The two cities became very closely united; and now that 
the Greeks were deserting Antioch, a part of the Syrian 
church began to adopt the more superstitious creed of 


Egypt. Severus, Bishop of Antioch, was successful in 
persuading a large party in the Syrian church to deny 
the humanity of Christ, and to style Mary the mother 
of God. But the chief power in Antioch rested with the 
opposite party. They answered his arguments by threats 
of violence, and he had to leave the city for safety. He 
fled to Alexandria, and with him began the friendship 
between the two churches which lasted for several cen- 
turies. In Alexandria he was received with the honour 
due to his religious zeal. But though in Antioch his 
opinions had been too Egyptian for the Syrians, in Alex- 
andria they were too Syrian for the Egyptians. The 
Egyptians, who said that Jesus had been crucified and 
died only in appearance, always denied that his body 
was liable to corruption. Severus, however, argued that 
it was liable to corruption before the resurrection; and 
this led him into a new controversy, in which Timotheus, 
the Alexandrian bishop, took part against his own more 
superstitious flock, and sided with his friend, the Bishop 
of Antioch. Severus has left us, in the Syriac language, 
the baptismal service as performed in Egypt. The priest 
breathes three times into the basin to make the water 
holy, he makes three crosses on the child's forehead, he 
adjures the demons of wickedness to quit him, he again 
makes three crosses on his forehead with oU, he again 
blows three times into the water in the form of a cross, 
he anoints his whole body with oil, and then plunges 
him in the water. Many other natives of Syria soon fol- 
lowed Severus to Alexandria; so many indeed that as 
Greek literature decayed in that city, Syriac literature 


rose. Many Syrians also came to study the religious 
life in the monasteries of Egypt, and after some time 
the books in the library of the monastery at Mount Mt- 
ria were found to be half Arabic and half Syriac. 

Justin, the new emperor, again lighted up in Alex- 
andria the flames of discord which had been allowed to 
slumber since the publication of Zeno's peace-making 
edict. But in the choice of the bishop he was not able 
to command without a struggle. In the second year of 
his reign, on the death of Titnotheus, the two parties 
again found themselves nearly equal in strength; and 
Alexandria was for several years kept almost in a state 
of civil war between those who thought that the body 
of Jesus had been liable to corruption, and those who 
thought it incorruptible. The former chose G-aianas, 
whom his adversaries called a Manichean; and the latter 
Theodosius, a Jacobite, who had the support of the pre- 
fect; and each of these in his turn was able to drive 
his rival out of Alexandria. 

Those Persian forces which in the last reign overran 
the Delta were chiefly Arabs from the opposite coast of 
the Red Sea. To make an end of these attacks, and to 
engage their attention in another quarter, was the nat- 
ural wish of the statesmen of Constantinople; and for 
this purpose Anastasius had sent an embassy to the 
Homeritse on the southern coast of Arabia, to persuade 
them to attack their northern neighbours. The Homer- 
itse held the strip of coast now called Hadramout. They 
were enriched, though hardly civilised, by being the 
channel along which much of the Eastern trade passed 


from India to the Nile, to avoid the difficiilt navigation 
of the ocean. They were Jewish Arabs, who had little 
in conunon with the Arabs of Yemen, but had frequent 
intercourse with Abyssinia and the merchants of the 
Red Sea. Part of the trade of Solomon and the Tyrians 
was probably to their coast. To this distant and little 
tribe the Emperor of Constantinople now sent a second 
pressing embassy. Julianus, the ambassador, went up 
the Nile from Alexandria, and then crossed the Red Sea, 
or Indian Sea as it was also called, to Arabia. He was 
favourably received by the Homeritse. Arethas, the king, 
gave him an audience in grand barbaric state. He was 
standing in a chariot drawn by four elephants; he wore 
no clothing but a cloth of gold around his loins; his arms 
were laden with costly armlets and bracelets; he held 
a shield and two spears in his hands, and his nobles stood 
around him armed, and singing to his honour. When 
the ambassador delivered the emperor's letter, Arethas 
kissed the seal, and then kissed Julianus himself. He 
accepted the gifts which Justin had sent, and promised 
to move his forces northward against the Persians as 
requested, and also to keep the route open for the trade 
to Alexandria. 

Justinian, the successor of Justin in 527, settled the 
quarrel between the two Alexandrian bishops by sum- 
moning them both to Constantinople, and then sending 
them into banishment. But this had no effect in heal- 
ing the divisions in the Egyptian church; and for the 
next half-century the two parties ranged themselves, in 
their theological or rather political quarrel, under the 


names of their former bishops, and called themselves 
Gaianites and Theodosians. Nor did the measures of 
Justinian tend to lessen the breach between Egypt and 
Constantinople. He appointed Paul to the bishopric, 
and required the Egyptians to receive the decrees of 
the council of Chalcedon. 

After two years Paul was displaced either by the 
emperor or by his flock; and Zoilus was then seated on 
the episcopal throne by the help of the imperial forces. 
He maintained his dangerous post for about six years, 
when the Alexandrians rose in open rebellion, overpow- 
ered the troops, and forced bim to seek safety in 
flight; and the Jacobite party then turned out all the 
bishops who held the Greek faith. 

When Justinian heard that the Jacobites were mas- 
ters of Egypt he appointed Apollinarius to the joint 
office of prefect an,d patriarch of Alexandria, and sent 
him with a large force to take possession of his bishopric. 
Apollinarius marched into Alexandria in full military 
dress at the head of his troops; but when he entered the 
church he laid aside his arms, and putting on the pa- 
triarchal robes began to celebrate the rites of his relig- 
ion. The Alexandrians were by no means overawed by 
the force with which he had entered the city; they pelted 
"him with a shower of stones from every comer of the 
church, and he was forced to withdraw from the build- 
ing in order to save his life. But three days afterwards 
the bells were rung through the city, and the people were 
summoned to meet in the church on the following Sunday, 
to hear the emperor's letter read. When Sunday came 


the whole city flocked to hear and to disobey Jus- 
tinian's orders. Apollinarius began his address by 
threatening his hearers that, if they continued obstinate 
in their opinions, their children should be made orphans 
and their widows given up to the soldiery; and he was 
as before stopped with a shower of stones. But this 
time he was prepared for the attack; this Christian 
bishop had placed his troops in ambush round the church, 
and on a signal given they rushed out on his unarmed 
flock, and by his orders the crowds within and without 
the church were put to rout by the sword, the soldiers 
waded up to their knees in blood, and the city and whole 
country yielded its obedience for the time to bishops 
who held the Greek faith. 

Henceforth the Melchite or royalist patriarchs, who 
were appointed by the emperor and had the authority 
of civil prefects, and were supported by the power of 
the military prefect, are scarcely mentioned by the his- 
torian of the Koptic church. They were too much en- 
gaged in civil affairs to act the part of ministers of 
religion. They collected their revenues principally in 
grain, and carried on a large export trade, transporting 
their stores to those parts of Europe where they would 
bring the best price. On one occasion we hear of a small 
fleet belonging to the church of Alexandria, consisting 
of thirteen ships of about thirty tons burden each, and 
bearing ten thousand bushels of grain, being overtaken 
by a storm on the coast of Italy. The princely income 
of the later patriarchs, raised from the churches of all 
Egypt under the name of the offerings of the pious, some- 


times amounted to two thousand pounds of gold, or four 
hundred thousand dollars. But while these Melchite or 
royalist bishops were enjoying the ecclesiastical revenues, 
and administering the civil affairs of the diocese and of 
the great monasteries, there was a second bishop who 
held the Jacobite faith, and who, having been elected 
by the people according to the ancient forms of the 
Church, equally bore the title of patriarch, and admin- 
istered in his more humble path to the spiritual wants 
of his flock. The Jacobite bishop was always a monk. 
At his ordination he was declared to be elected by the 
popular voice, by the bishops, priests, deacons, monks, 
and all the people of Lower Egypt; and prayers were 
offered up through the intercession of the Mother of 
God, and of the glorious Apostle Mark. The two churches 
no longer used the same prayer-book. The Melchite 
church continued to use the old liturgy, which, as it 
had been read in Alexandria from time immemorial, was 
called the liturgy of St. Mark, altered however to declare 
that the Son was of the same substance with the Father. 
But the Koptic church made use of the newer liturgies 
by their own champions. Bishop CyrU, Basil of Csesarea, 
and Gregory Nazianzen. These three liturgies were all 
in the Koptic language, and more clearly denied the two 
natures of Christ. Of the two churches the Koptic had 
less leamiag, more bigotry, and opinions more removed 
from the teachings of the New Testament; but then the 
Koptic bishop alone had any moral power to lead the 
minds of his flock towards piety and religion. Had the 
emperors been at all times either humane or poUtie 


enough to employ bishops of the same religion as the 
people, they would, perhaps have kept the good-will of 
their subjects; but as it was, the Koptic church, smart- 
ing under its insults, and forgetting the greater evils 
of a foreign conquest, would sometimes look with longing 
eyes to the condition of their neighbours, their brethren 
in faith, the Arabic subjects of Persia. 

The Christianity of the Egyptians was mostly super- 
stition; and as it spread over the land it embraced the 
whole nation within its pale, not so much by purifying 
the pagan opinions as by lowering itself to their level, 
and fitting itself to their corporeal notions of the Creator. 
This was in a large measure induced by the custom of 
using the old temples for Christian churches; the form 
of worship was in part guided by the form of the build- 
ing, and even the old traditions were engrafted on the 
new religion. Thus the traveller Antonius, after visit- 
ing the remarkable places in the Holy Land, came to 
Egypt to search for the chariots of the Egyptians who 
pursued Moses, petrified into rocks at the bottom of the 
Eed Sea, and for the footsteps left in the sands by the 
infant Jesus while he dwelt in Egypt with his parents. 
At Memphis he enquired why one of the doors m the 
great temple of Phtah, then used as a church, was always 
closed, and he was told that it had been rudely shut 
against the infant Jesus five hundred years before, and 
mortal strength had never since been able to open it. 

The records of the empire declared that the first 
Caesars had kept six hundred and forty-five thousand 
men under arms to guard Italy, Africa, Spain, and Egypt, 


a number perhaps much larger than the truth; but Jus- 
tinian could with difficulty maintain one himdred and 
fifty thousand ill-disciplined troops, a force far from large 
enough to hold even those provinces that remained to 
him. During the latter half of his reign the eastern 
frontier of this falling empire was sorely harassed by 
the Persians under their king Chosroes. They overran 
Syria, defeated the army of the empire in a pitched battle, 
and then took Antioch, . By these defeats the military 
roads were stopped; Egypt was cut off from the rest of 
the empire and could be reached from the capital only 
by sea. Hence the emperor was driven to a change in 
his religious policy. He gave over the persecution of 
the Jacobite opinions, and even went so far ia one of 
his decrees as to call the body of Jesus incorruptible, as 
he thought that these were the only means of keepiag 
the allegiance of his subjects or the friendship of his 
Arab neighbours, all of whom, as far as they were Chris- 
tians, held the Jacobite view of the Mcene creed, and 
denied the two natures of Christ. 

As the forces of Constantinople were driven back by 
the victorious armies of the Persians, the emperors had 
lost, among other fortresses, the capital of Arabia Naba- 
tasa, that curious rocky fastness that well deserved the 
name of Petra, and which had been garrisoned by Romans 
from the reign of Trajan till that of Valens. On this loss 
it became necessary to fortify a new frontier post on 
the Egyptian side of the Elanitic Gulf. Justinian then 
built the fortified monastery near Mount Sinai, to guard 
the only pass by which Egypt could be entered without 



the help of a fleet; and when it was found to be com- 
manded by one of the higher points of the mountain he 
beheaded the engineer who built it, and remedied the 
fault, as far as it could be done, by a small fortress on the 
higher ground. This monastery was held by the Egyp- 
tians, and maintained out of the Egyptian taxes. IWhen 
the Egyptians were formerly masters of their own coun- 
try, before the Persian and Greek conquests, they were 
governed by a race of priests, and the temples were their 


only fortresses. The temples of Thebes were the citadels 
of the capital, and the temples of Elephantine guarded 
the frontier. So now, when the military prefect is too 
weak to make himself obeyed, the emperor tries to govern 
through means of the Christian priesthood; and when 
it is necessary for the Egyptians to defend their own 
frontier, he builds a monastery and garrisons it with 

Part of the Egyptian trade to the East was carried on 
through the islands of Ceylon and Socotra; but it was 
chiefly in the hands of uneducated Arabs of Ethiopia, 


-who were little able to communicate to the world much 
knowledge of the countries from which they brought their 
highly valued goods. At Ceylon they met with traders 
from beyond the Ganges and from China, of whom they 
bought the silk which Eiu^opeans had formerly thought 
a product of Arabia. At Ceylon was a Christian church, 
with a priest and a deacon, frequented by the Christians 
from Persia, while the natives of the place were pagans. 
The coias there used were Roman, borne thither by the 
course of trade, which during so many centuries carried 
the gold and silver eastward. The trade was lately turned 
more strongly iato this channel because a war had sprung 
up between the two tribes of Jewish Arabs, the Hex- 
imaitae of Abyssinia on the coast of the Red Sea near 
Adule, and the Homeritae who dwelt in Arabia on the 
opposite coast, at the southern end of the Red Sea. 
The Homeritae had quarrelled with the Alexandrian mer- 
chants in the Indian trade, and had kUled some of them 
as they were passing their mountains from India to the 
country of the Hexumitge. 

Immediately after these murders the HexumitaB found 
the trade injured, and they took up arms to keep the 
passage open for the merchants. Hadad their king 
crossed the Red Sea and conquered his enemies; he put 
to death Damianus, the King of the Homeritse, and made 
a new treaty with the Emperor of Constantinople. The 
HexumitsB promised to become Christians. They sent 
to Alexandria to beg for a priest to baptise them, and 
to ordain their preachers; and Justinian sent John, a 
man of piety and high character, the dean of the church 


of St. John, who returned with the ambassadors and be- 
came bishop of the Hexumitse. 

It was possibly this conquest of the Homeritae by 
Hadad, King of the Hexumitae, which was recorded on 
the monument of Adule, at the foot of the inscription set 
up eight centuries earlier by Ptolemy Euergetes. The 
monument is a throne of white marble. The conqueror, 
whose name had been broken away before the inscription 
was copied, there boasts that he crossed over the Red 
Sea and made the Arabians and Sabaeans pay him tribute. 
On his own continent he defeated the tribes to the north 
of him, and opened the passage from his own country 
to Egypt; he also marched eastward, and conquered the 
tribes on the African incense coast ; and lastly, he crossed 
the Astaborus to the snowy mountains in which that 
branch of the Nile rises, and conquered the tribes between 
that stream and the Astapus. This valuable inscription, 
which teUs us of snowy mountains within the tropics, was 
copied by Cosmas, a merchant of Alexandria, who passed 
through Adule on his way to India. 

Former emperors, Anastasius and Justin, had sent 
several embassies to these nations at the southern end 
of the Red Sea; to the Homeritse, to persuade them to 
attack the Persian forces in Arabia, and to the Hexumitse, 
for the encouragement of trade. Justinian also sent an 
embassy to the Homeritae under Abram; and, as he was 
successful in his object, he entrusted a second embassy 
to Abram 's son. Nonnosus landed at Adule on the 
Abyssinian coast, and then travelled inward for fifteen 
days to Auxum, the capital. This country was then called 


Ethiopia; it had gained the name which before belonged 
to the valley of the Nile between Egypt and Meroe. On 
his way to Auxnm, he saw troops of wild elephants, 
to the number, as he supposed, of five thousand. After 
delivering his message to Elesbaas, then King of Auxum, 
he crossed the Red Sea to Caisus, King of the Homeritae, 
a grandson of that Arethas to whom Justin had sent 
his embassy. Notwithstanding the natural difficulties of 
the journey, and those arising from the tribes through 
which he had to pass, Nonnosus performed his task suc- 
cessfully, and on his return home wrote a history of his 

The advantage gained to the Hexumitae by their inva- 
sion of the HomeritsB was soon lost, probably as soon 
as their forces were withdrawn. The trade through the 
country of the Homeritae was again stopped; and such 
was the difficulty of navigation from the incense coast 
of Africa to the mouths of the Indus, that the loss was 
severely felt at Auxum, Elesbaas therefore undertook 
to repeat the punishment which had been before inflicted 
on his less civilised neighbours, and again to open the 
trade to the merchants from the Nile. It was whUe he 
was preparing his forces for this invasion that Cosmas, 
the Alexandrian traveller, passed through Adule; and 
he copied for the King of Auxum the inscription above 
spoken of, which recorded the victories of his prede- 
cessor over the enemies he was himself preparing to 

The invasion by Elesbaas, or Elesthaeus as he is also 
named, was immediately successful. The Homeritae were 


conquered, their ruler was overthrown; and, to secure 
their future obedience, the conqueror set over these 
Jewish Arabs an Abyssinian Christian for their king. 
Esimaphseus was chosen for that post; and his first duty 
was to convert his new subjects to Christianity. Political 
reasons as well as religious zeal would urge him to this 
undertaking, to make the conquered bear the badge of 
the conqueror. For this purpose he engaged the assist- 
ance of Gregentius, a bishop, who was to employ his 
learning and eloquence in the cause. Accordingly, in the 
palace of Threlletum, in the presence of their new king, 
a pubHc dispute was held between the Christian bishop 
and Herban, a learned Jew. Gregentius has left us an 
account of the controversy, in which he was wholly suc- 
cessful, being helped, perhaps, by the threats and prom- 
ises of the king. The arguments used were not quite the 
same as they would be now. The bishop explained the 
Trinity as the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Mind or 
Father, and resting on the Word or Son, which was then 
the orthodox view of this mysterious doctrine. On the 
other hand, the Jew quoted the Old Testament to show 
that the Lord their God was one Lord. It is related that 
suddenly the Jews present were struck blind. Their 
sight, however, was restored to them on the bishop's 
praying for them; and they were then all thereby con- 
verted and baptised on the spot. The king stood god- 
father to Herban, and rewarded him with a high office 
under his government. 

Esimaphseus did not long remain King of the Ho- 
meritffi. A rebellion soon broke out against him, and he 


was deposed. Elesbaas, King of Auxum, again sent an 
army to recall the Homeritse to their obedience, but this 
time the army joined in the revolt; and Elesbaas then 
made peace with the enemy, in hopes of thus gaining 
the advantages which he was unable to grasp by force 
of arms. From a Ureek inscription on a monument at 
Auxum we learn the name of ^izanas, another king of 


that country, who also called himself, either truly or 
boastfully, king of the opposite coast. He set up the 
monument to record his victories over the Bougsetse, a 
people who dwelt between Auxum and Egypt, and he 
styles himself the invincible Mars, king of kings. King 
of the Hexumitae, of the Ethiopians, of the Sabseans, and 
of the Homeritse. These kings of the Hexumitse orna- 
mented the city of Auxiun with several beautiful and 


lofty obelisks, each made of a single block of granite 
like those in. Egypt. 

Egypt in its mismanaged state seemed to be of little 
value to the empire save as a means of enriching the 
prefect and the tax-gatherers; it yielded very little 
tribute to Constantinople beyond the supply of grain, and 
that by no means regularly. To remedy these abuses 
Justinian made a new law for the government of the 
province, with a view of bringing about a thorough re- 
form. By this edict the districts of Menelaites and 
Mareotis, to the west of Alexandria, were separated from 
the rest of Egypt, and they were given to the prefect 
of Libya, whose seat of government was at Paraetonium, 
because his province was too poor to pay the troops re- 
quired to guard it. The several governments of Upper 
Egypt, of Lower Egypt, of Alexandria, and of the troops 
were then given to one prefect. The two cohorts, the 
Augustalian and the Ducal, into which the two Roman 
legions had gradually dwindled, were henceforth to be 
imited under the name of the Augustalian Cohort, which 
was to contain six hundred men, who were to^ecure the 
obedience and put down any rebellion of the Egyptian 
and barbarian soldiers. The somewhat high pay and priv- 
ileges of this favoured troop were to be increased; and, 
to secure its loyalty and to keep out Egyptians, nobody 
was to be admitted into it till his fitness had been inquired 
into by the emperor's examiners. The first duty of the 
cohort was to collect the supply of grain for Constanti- 
nople and to see it put on board the ships; and as for 
the supply which was promised to the Alexandrians, the 


magistrates were to collect it at their own risk, and by 
means of their own cohort. The grain for Constantinople 
was required to be in that city before the end of August, 
or within four months after the harvest, and the supply 
for Alexandria not more than a month later. The prefect 
was made answerable for the full collection, and whatever 
was wanting of that quantity was to be levied on his 
property and his heirs, at the rate of one soUdus for three 
artabcB of grain, or about three dollars for fifteen bushels; 
while in order to help the collection, the export of grain 
from Egjrpt was forbidden from every port but Alexan- 
dria, except in small quantities. The grain required for 
Alexandria and Constantinople, to be distributed as a 
free gift among the idle citizens, was eight hundred 
thousand artahce, or four millions of bushels, and the cost 
of collecting it was fixed at eighty thousand solidi, or 
about three hundred thousand dollars. The prefect was 
ordered to assist the collectors at the head of his cohort,, 
and if he gave credit for the taxes which he was to collect 
he was to bear the loss himself. If the archbishop in- 
terfered, to give credit and screen an unhappy Egyptian,, 
then he was to bear the loss, and if his property was 
not enough the property of the Church was to make it 
good; but if any other bishop gave credit, not only was 
his property to bear the loss, but he was himself to be 
deposed from his bishopric; and lastly, if any riot or 
rebellion should arise to cause the loss of the Egyptian 
tribute, the tribunes of the Augustalian Cohort were to 
be punished with forfeiture of all property, and the cohort, 
was to be removed to a station beyond the Danube. 


Such was the new law which Justinian, the great 
Roman lawgiver, proposed for the future government of 
Egypt. The Egyptians were treated as slaves, whose 
duty was to raise grain for the use of their masters 
at Constantinople, and their taskmasters at Alexandria. 
They did not even receive from the government the 
usual benefit of protection from their enemies, and they 
felt bound to the emperor by no tie either of love or 
interest. The imperial orders were very little obeyed 
beyond those places where the troops were encamped; 
the Arabs were each year pressing closer upon the 
valley of the Nile, and helping the sands of the desert 
to defeat the labours of the disheartened husbandmen; 
and the Greek language, which had hitherto followed 
and marked the route of commerce from Alexandria 
to Syene, and to the island of Socotra, was now but 
seldom heard in Upper Egypt. The Alexandrians were 
sorely harassed by Hsephsestus, a lawyer, who had risen 
by court favour to the chief post in the city. He made 
monopolies in his own favour of all the necessaries of 
life, and secured his ill-gotten gains by ready loans of 
part of it to Justinian. His zeal for the emperor was 
at the cost of the Alexandrians, and to save the public 
granaries he lessened the supply of grain which the citi- 
zens looked for as a right. The city was sinking fast; 
and the citizens could ill bear this loss, for its population, 
though lessened, was still too large for the fallen state 
of Egypt. 

The grain of the merchants was shipped from Alex- 
andria to the chief ports of Europe, between Constan- 


tinople in the east and Cornwall in the west. Britain had 
been left by the Romans, as too remote for them to hold 
in their weakened condition; and the native Britons were 
then struggling against their Saxon invaders, as ia a 
distant comer of the world, beyond the knowledge of the 
historian. But to that remote country the Alexandrian 
merchants sailed every year with grain to purchase tin, 
enlightening the natives, while they only meant to enrich 
themselves. Under the most favourable circumstances 
they sometimes performed the voyage in twenty days. 
The wheat was sold in Cornwall at the price of a bushel 
for a piece of silver, perhaps worth about twenty cents, 
or for the same weight of tin, as the tin and the silver 
were nearly of equal worth. This was the longest of the 
ancient voyages, being longer than that from the Red 
Sea to the island of Ceylon in the Indian Ocean; and it 
had been regularly performed for at least eight centuries 
without ever teaching the British to venture so far from 
their native shores. 

The suffering and riotous citizens made Alexandria a 
very unpleasant place of abode for the prefect and magis- 
trates. They therefore built palaces and baths for their 
own use, at the public cost, at Taposiris, about a day's 
journey to the west of the city, at a spot yet marked by 
the remains of thirty-six marble columns, and a lofty 
tower, once perhaps a lighthouse. At the same time it 
became necessary to fortify the public granaries against 
the rebellious mob. The grain was brought from the Nile 
by barges on a canal to the village of Chgereum, and thence 
to a part of Alexandria named Phialse, or The Basins, 


where the public granaries stood. In all riots and re- 
bellions this place had been a natural point of attack; 
and often had the starving mob broken open these build- 
ings, and seized the grain that was on its way to Con- 
stantinople. But Justinian surrounded them with a 
strong wall against such attacks for the future, and at 
the same time he rebuilt the aqueduct that had been 
destroyed in one of the sieges of the city. 

In civil smts at law an appeal had always been al- 
lowed from the prefect of the province to the emperor, 
or rather to the prefect of the East at Constantinople; 
but as this was of course expensive, it was found neces- 
sary to forbid it when the sum of money in dispute was 
small. Justinian forbade all Egyptian appeals for sums 
less than ten pounds weight of gold, or about two thou- 
sand five hundred dollars; for smaller sums the judg- 
ment of the prefect was to be final, lest the expense 
should swallow up the amount in dispute. 

In this reign the Alexandrians, for the first time 
within the records of history, felt the shock of an earth- 
quake. Their naturalists had very fairly supposed that 
the loose alluvial nature of the soil of the Delta was the 
reason why earthquakes were unknown in Lower Egypt, 
and believed that it would always save them from a mis- 
fortune which often overthrew cities in other countries, 
Pliny thought that Egypt had been always free from 
earthquakes. But this shock was felt by everybody in the 
city; and Agathias, the Byzantine historian, who, after 
reading law in the university of Beirut, was finishing his 
studies at Alexandria, says that it was strong enough to 



make the inliabitants all run into the street for fear the 
houses should fall upon them. 

The reign of Justinian is remarkable for another blow 
then given to paganism throughout the empire, or at 
least through those parts of the empire where the em- 
peror's laws were obeyed. Under Justinian the pagan 

schools were again and from that 
time forward closed. Isidorus 
the platonist and Salustius the 
Cynic were among the learned 
men of greatest note who then 
withdrew from Alexandria. Isi- 
dorus had been chosen by Marinus 
as his successor in the platonic 
chair at Athens, to fill the high 
post of the platonic successor; but 
he had left the Athenian school 
to Zenodotus, a pupil of Proclus, 
and had removed to Alexandria. 
Salustius the Cynic was a Syrian, 
who had removed with Isidorus 
from Athens to Alexandria. He 
was virtuous in his morals though 
jocular in his manners, and as ready in his witty attacks 
upon the speculative opinions of his brother philosophers 
as upon the vices of the Alexandrians. These learned 
men, with Damascius and others from Athens, were 
kindly received by the Persians, who soon afterwards, 
when they made a treaty of peace with Justinian, gen- 
erously bargained that these men, the last teachers of 



paganism, should be allowed to return home, and pass 
the rest of their days in quiet. 

After the flight of the pagan philosophers, but little 
learning was left in Alexandria. One of the most re- 
markable men in this age of ignorance was Cosmas, an 
Alexandrian merchant, who wished that the world should 
not only be enriched but enlightened by his travels. 
After making many voyages through Ethiopia to India 
for the sake of gain, he gave up trade and became a monk 
and an author. When he writes as a traveller about the 
Christian churches of India and Ceylon, and the inscrip- 
tions which he copied at Adule in Abyssinia, everything 
that he tells us is valuable; but when he reasons as a 
monk, the case is sadly changed. He is of the dogmatical 
school which forbids all inquiry as heretical. He fights 
the battle which has been so often fought before and 
since, and is even still fought so resolutely, the battle 
of religious ignorance against scientific knowledge. He 
sets the words of the Bible against the resTilts of science; 
he denies that the world is a sphere, and quotes the Old 
Testament against the pagan astronomers, to show that 
it is a plane, covered by the firmament as by a roof, above 
which he places the kingdom of heaven. His work is 
named Christian Topography, and he is himself usually 
called Cosmas Indicopleustes, from the country which 
he visited. 

During the latter years of the government of Apolli- 
narius, such was his unpopularity as a spiritual bishop 
that both the rival parties, the Gaianites and the Theodo- 
sians, had been building places of worship for themselves, 


and the more zealous Jacobites had quietly left the 
churches to Apollinarius and the Royalists. But on the 
death of an archdeacon they again came to blows with 
the bishop; and a monk had his beard torn off his chin 
by the Gaianites in the streets of Alexandria. The em- 
peror was obliged to interfere, and he sent the Abbot 
Photinus to Egypt to put down this rebellion, and heal 
the quarrel in the Church. Apollinarius died soon after- 
wards, and Justinian then appointed John to the joint 
office of prefect of the city and patriarch of the Church. 
The new archbishop was accused of being a Manichean; 
but this seems to mean nothing but that he was too much 
of the Egyptian party, and that, though he was the im- 
perial patriarch, and not acknowledged by the Koptic 
church, yet his opinions were disliked by the Greeks. 
On his death, which happened in about three years, they 
chose Peter, who held the Jacobite or Egyptian opinions, 
and whose name is not mentioned in the Greek lists of 
the patriarchs. Peter's death occurred in the same year 
as that of the emperor. 

Under Justinian we again find some small traces of a 
national coinage in Egypt. Ever since the reign of Dio- 
cletian, the old Egyptian coinage had been stopped, and 
the Alexandrians had used money of the same weight, 
and with the same Latin inscriptions, as the rest of the 
empire. But under Justinian, though the inscriptions on 
the coins are still Latin, they have the name of the city 
in Greek letters. Like the coins of Constantinople, they 
have a cross, the emblem of Christianity; but while the 
other coins of the empire have the Greek numeral letters, 



E, I, K, A, or M, to denote the value, meaning 5, 10, 20, 
30, or 40, the coins of Alexandria have the letters 1 B 
for 12, showing that they were on a different system of 
weights from those of Constantinople. On these the head 
of the emperor is in profile. But later in his reign the 
style was changed, the coins were made larger, and the 
head of the emperor had a front face. On these larger 
coins the numeral letters are A T for 33. We thus learn 
that the Alexandrians at this time paid and received 
money rather by weight than by tale, and avoided all 


depreciation of the currency. As the early coins marked 
12 had become lighter by wear, those which were meant 
to be of about three times their value were marked 33. 

Diu-ing the period from 566 to 602 Justin II. reigned 
twelve years, Tiberius reigned four years, and Mauricius, 
his son-in-law, twenty; and under these sovereigns the 
empire gained a little rest from its enemies by a rebelhon 
among the Persians, which at last overthrew their king 
Chosroes. He fled to Mauricius for help, and was by 
him restored to his throne, after which the two kingdoms 
remained at peace to the end of his reign. 

The Emperor Mauricius was murdered by Phocas, 
who, in 602, succeeded him on the throne of Constan- 
tinople. No sooner did the news of his death reach 


Persia than Chosroes, the son of Hormuz, who had mar- 
ried Maria, the daughter of Mauricius, declared the 
treaty with the Romans at an end, and moved his forces 
against the new emperor, the murderer of his father-in- 
law. During the whole of his reign Constantinople was 
kept in a state of alarm and almost of siege by the Per- 
sians; and the crimes and misfortunes of Phocas alike 
prepared his subjects for a revolt. In the seventh year 
Alexandria rebelled in favour of the young Heraclius, 
son of the late prefect of Cyrene; and the patriarch of 
Egypt was slain in the struggle. Soon afterwards Hera- 
clius entered the port of Constantinople with his fleet, 
and Phocas was put to death after an unfortunate reign 
of eight years, in which he had lost every province of 
the empire. 

During the first three years of the reign of Heraclius, 
Theodoras was Bishop of Alexandria; but upon his death 
the wishes of the Alexandrians so strongly pointed to 
John, the son of the prefect of Cyprus, that the emperor, 
yielding to their request, appointed him to the bishopric. 
Alexandria was not a place in which a good man could 
enjoy the pleasures of power without feeling the weight 
of its duties. It was then suffering under all those evils 
which usually befall the capital of a sinking state. It 
had lost much of its trade, and its poorer citizens no 
longer received a free supply of grain. The unsettled 
state of the country was starving the larger cities, and 
ihe population of Alexandria was suffering from want of 
employment. The civil magistrates had removed their 
palace to a distance. But the new bishop seemed formed 


for these unfortunate times, and, though appointed by 
the emperor, he was in every respect worthy of the free 
choice of the citizens. He was foremost in every work of 
benevolence and charity. The five years of his govern- 
ment were spent in lightening the sufferings of the peo- 
ple, and he gained the truly Christian name of John the 
Almsgiver. Beside his private acts of kindness he estab- 
lished throughout the city hospitals for the sick and 
almshouses for the poor and for strangers, and as many 
as seven lying-in hospitals for poor women. John was- 
not less active in outrooting all that he thought heresy. 

The first years of the reign of Heraclius are chiefly 
marked by the successes of the Persians. While Chos- 
roes, their king, was himself attacking Constantinople,^ 
one general was besieging Jerusalem and a second over- 
running Lower Egypt. Crowds fled before the invading 
army to Alexandria as a place of safety, and the famine 
increased as the province of the prefect grew narrower 
and the population more crowded. To add to the dis- 
tress the Mle rose to a less height than usual; the sea- 
sons seemed to assist the enemy in the destruction of 
Egypt. The patriarch John, who had been sending 
money, grain, and Egyptian workmen to assist in the 
pious work of rebuilding the church of Jerusalem which 
the Persians had destroyed, immediately found aU his 
means needed, and far from enough, for the poor of Alex- 
andria. On his appointment to the bishopric he found 
in its treasury eight thousand pounds of gold; he had 
in the course of five years received ten thousand more 
from the offerings of the pious, as his princely ecclesi- 


astical revenue was named; but this large sum of four 
million doUars had aU been spent in deeds of generosity 
or charity, and the bishop had no resource but borrow- 
ing to relieve the misery with which he was surrounded. 
In the fifth year the unbelievers were masters of Jeru- 
salem, and in the eighth they entered Alexandria, and 
soon held aU the Delta; and in that year the grain which 
had hitherto been given to the citizens of Constantiaople 
was sold to them at a small price, and before the end 
of the year the supply from Egypt was whoUy stopped. 

When the Persians entered Egypt, the patrician 
Mcetas, having no forces with which he could withstand 
their advance, and knowing that no succour was to be 
looked for from Constantinople, and finding that the 
Alexandrians were unwiUing to support him, fled with 
the patriarch John the Almsgiver to Cyprus, and left 
the province to the enemy. As John denied that the Son 
of Cod had suffered on the cross, his opinions would seem 
not to have been very unlike those of the Egyptians; 
but as he was appointed to the bishopric by the emperor, 
though at the request of the people, he is not counted 
among the patriarchs of the Koptic church; and one of 
the first acts of the Persians was to appoint Benjamin, 
a Jacobite priest, who already performed the spiritual 
office of Bishop of Alexandria, to the public exercise of 
that duty, and to the enjoyment of the civil dignity and 

The troops with which Chosroes conquered and held 
Egypt were no doubt in part Syrians and Arabs, people 
with whom the fellahs or labouring class of Egyptians 


were closely allied in blood and feelings. Hence arose 
the readiness with which the whole country yielded when 
the Roman forces were defeated. But hence also arose 
the weakness of the Persians, and their speedy loss of 
this conquest when the Arabs rebelled. Their rule, how- 
ever, in Egypt was not quite unmarked in the history 
of these dark ages. 

At this time Thomas, a Syrian bishop, came to Alex- 
andria to correct the Syriac version of the New Testa- 
ment, which had been made about a century before by 
Philoxenus. He compared the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles 
with the G-reek manuscripts in the monastery of St. An- 
thony in the capital; and we still possess the fruits of 
his learned labour, in which he altered the ancient text 
to make it agree with the newer Alexandrian manu- 
scripts. Prom his copy the Philoxenian version is now 
printed. A Syriac manuscript of the New Testament 
written by Alexandrian penmen in the sixth year of 
Heraclius, is now to be seen in the library of the Au- 
gustan friars in Rome. At the same time another Syrian 
scholar, Paul of Tela, in Mesopotamia, was busy in the 
Alexandrian monastery of St. Zacchseus in translating 
the Old Testament into Syriac, from the Septuagint 
Greek; and he closes his labours with begging the reader 
to pray for the soul of his friend Thomas. Such was 
now the reputation of the Alexandrian edition of the 
Bible, that these scholars preferred it both to the orig- 
inal Hebrew of the Old and to the earlier manuscripts 
of the New Testament. Among other works of this time 
were the medical writings of Aaron the physician of 


Alexandria, formerly written in Syriac, and afterwards 
much valued by the Arabs. The Syrian monks in num- 
bers settled in the monastery of Mount Nitria; and in 
that secluded spot there remained a colony of these 
monks for several centuries, kept up by the occasional 
arrival of newcomers from the churches on the eastern 
side of the Euphrates. 

For ten years the Egyptians were governed by the 
Persians, and had a patriarch of their own religion and 
of their own choice; and the building of the Persian 
palace in Alexandria proves how quietly they lived Tinder 
their new masters. But Heraclius was not idle imder his 
misfortunes. The Persians had been weakened by the 
great revolt of the Arabs, who had formed their chief 
strength on the side of Constantinople and Egypt; and 
Heraclius, leading his forces bravely against Chosroes, 
drove him back from Syria and became in his turn the 
invader, and he then recovered Egypt. The Jacobite 
patriarch Benjamin fled with the Persians; and Her- 
aclius appointed George to the bishopric, which was 
declared to have been empty since John the Ahnsgiver 
fled to Cyprus. 

The revolt of the Arabs, which overthrew the power 
of the Persians in their western provinces and for a time 
restored Egypt to Constantinople, was the foundation 
of the mighty empire of the caliphs; and the Hegira, 
or flight of Muhammed, from which the Arabic historians 
coimt their lunar years, took place in 622, the twelfth 
year of Heraclius. The vigour of the Arab arms rapidly 
broke the Persian yoke, and the Moslems then overran 


every province in the neighbourhood. This was soon 
felt by the Eomans, who found the Arabs, even in the 
third year of their freedom, a more formidable enemy 
than the Persians whom they had overthrown; and, after 
a short struggle of only two years, Heraclius was forced 
to pay a tribute to the Moslems for their forbearance 
in not conquering Egypt. For eight years he was willing 
to purchase an inglorious peace by paying tribute to the 
caliph; but when his treasure failed him and the pay- 
ment was discontinued, the Arabs marched against the 
nearest provinces of the empire, offering to the inhabit- 
ants their choice of either paying tribute or receiving 
the Muhammedan religion; and they then began on their 
western frontier that rapid career of conquest which 
they had already begun on the eastern frontier against 
their late masters, the Persians. 




The Rise of Muhammedanism : The Arabic Conquest of Egypt: 
The Ommayad and Abbasid Dynasties. 

T'HE course of history now fol- 
lows the somewhat unevent- 
ful period which introduced 
Arabian rule into the valley of 
the Mle. It is only necessary 
to remind the reader of the strik- 
ing incidents in the life of Mu- 
hammad. He was born at Mecca, 
in Arabia, in July, 571, and spent 
his earliest years in the desert. At the age of twelve he 
travelled with a caravan to Syria, and probably on this 
occasion first came into contact with the Jews and Chris- 
tians. After a few youthful adventures, his poetic and 




religious feelings were awakened by study. He gave him- 
self up to profound meditation upon both the Jewish and 
Christian ideals, and subsequently beholding the arch- 
angel Gabriel in a vision, he proclaimed himself as a 
prophet of God. After preaching his doctrine for three 
years, and gaining a few converts (the first of whom was 
his wife, Khadija), the people of Mecca rose against him 
and he was forced to flee from the city in 614. New 
visions and subsequent conversions of influential Arabs 
strengthened his cause, especially in Medina, whither 
Muhammed was forced to flee a second time from Mecca 
in 622, this second flight being known as the Hegira, from 
which dates the Muhammedan era. In the next year, 
at Medina, he built his first mosque and married Ayesha, 
and in 624 was compelled to defend his pretensions by 
an appeal to arms. He was at first successful, and there- 
upon appointed Friday as a day of public worship, and, 
being embittered against the Jews, ordered that the 
attitude of prayer should no longer be towards Jeru- 
salem, but towards his birthplace, Mecca. In 625 the 
Muhammedans were defeated by the Meccans, but one 
tribe after another submitted to him, and after a series 
of victories Muhammed prepared, in 629, for further 
conquests in Syria, but he died in 632 before they could 
be accomplished. His successors were known as caliphs, 
but from the very first his disciples quarrelled about 
the leadership, some affirming the rights of Ali, who 
had married Muhammed 's daughter, Fatima, and others 
supporting the claims of Abu Bekr, his father-in-law. 
There was also a religious quarrel concerning certain 



oral traditions relating to the Koran, or the Muham- 
medan sacred scriptures. Those who accepted the tradi- 
tion were known as Sunnites, and those who rejected 
it as Shiites, the latter being the supporters of Ali, both 
sects, however, being known as Moslems or Islamites. 
Omar, a Simnite, obtained the leader- 
ship in 634, and proceeded to carry 
out the prophet's ambitious schemes 
of conquest. He subdued succes- 
sively Syria, Palestine, and Phce- 
nicia, and in 639 directed operations 
against Egypt. The general in 
charge of this expedition was Amr, 
who led four thousand men against Pelusium, which 
surrendered after a siege of thirty days. This easy 
victory was crowned by the capture of Alexandria. Amr 
entered the city on December 22, 640, and he seems to 
have been surprised at his own success. He immediately 
wrote to the caliph a letter in which he says: 

" I have conquered the town of the West, and I can- 
not recount all it contains within its walls. It contains 
four thousand baths and twelve thousand venders of 
green vegetables, four thousand Jews who pay tribute, 
and four thousand musicians and mountebanks." 

Amr was anxious to conciliate and gain the affection 
of the new subjects he had added to the caliph's empire, 
and during his short stay in Alexandria received them 
with kindness and personally heard and attended to their 
demands. It is commonly believed that in this period 
the Alexandrian Library was dismantled; but, as we 


have already seen, the books had been destroyed by the 
zeal of contending Christians. The story that attributes 
the destruction of this world-famous institution to the 
Arabian conquerors is so much a part of history, and 
has been so generally accepted as correct, that the tra- 
ditional version should be given here. 

Among the inhabitants of Alexandria whom Amr had 
so well received, says the monkish chronicler, was one 

John the Grammarian, a learned 
Greek, disciple of the Jacobite sect, 
who had been imprisoned by its 
persecutors. Since his disgrace, he 
had given himself up entirely to 
study, and was one of the most 
assiduous readers in the famous 
library. With the change of masters 
he believed the rich treasure would be speedily dispersed, 
and he wished to obtain a portion of it himself. So, 
profiting by the special kindness Amr had shown him, 
and the pleasure he appeared to take in his conversation, 
he ventured to ask for the gift of several of the philo- 
sophic books whose removal would put an end to his 
learned researches. 

At first Amr granted this request without hesitation, 
but in his gratitude John the Grammarian expatiated 
so imwisely on the extreme rarity of the manuscripts 
and their inestimable value, that Amr, on reflection, 
feared he had overstepped his power in granting the 
learned man's request. " I will refer the matter to the 
caliph," he said, and thereupon wrote immediately to 



Omar arid asked the caliph for his commands conceming 
the disposition of the whole of the precious contents of 
the library. 

The caliph's answer came quickly. "If," he wrote, 
" the books contain only what is in the book of God 
(the Koran), it is enough for us, and these books are 
useless. If they contain anything contrary to the holy 
book, they are pernicious. In any case, bum them." 

Amr wished to organise his new government, and, 
having left a sufficient garrison in Alexandria, he gave 
orders to the rest of his army to leave the camp in 
the town and to occupy the interior of Egypt. " Where 
shall we pitch our new camp? " the soldiers asked each 
other, and the answer came from all parts, " Round the 
general's tent." The army, in fact, did camp on the 
banks of the Nile, in the vicinity of the modem Cairo^ 
where Amr had ordered his tent to be left; and round 
this tent, which had become the centre of reunion, the 
soldiers built temporary huts which were soon changed 
into soM, permanent habitations. Spacious houses were 
built for the leaders, and palaces for the generals, and 
this collection of buildings soon became an important 
military town, with strongly marked Muhammedan 
characteristics. It was called Postat (tent) in memory 
of the event, otherwise imimportant, which was the 
origin of its creation. Amr determined' to make his new 
town the capital of Egypt; whilst still preserving the 
name of Fostat, he added that of Misr,— a title always 
borne by the capital of Egypt, and which Memphis had 
hitherto preserved in spite of the rivalry of Alexandria. 


Fostat was then surrounded by fortifications, and 
Amr took up Ms residence there, forming various estab- 
lishments and giving himself up entirely to the organ- 
isation of the vast province whose government the caliph 
had entrusted to him. The personal tax, which was the 
only one, had been determined in a fixed manner by the 
treaty of submission he had concluded with the Kopts; 
and an imimportant ground rent on landed property was 
added in favour of the holy towns of Mecca and Medina, 
as well as to defray some expenses of local admin- 

Egypt was entirely divided into provincial districts, 
all of which had their own governor and administrators 
taken from among the Kopts themselves. The lands 
which had belonged to the imperial government of Con- 
stantinople, and those of the Grreeks who had abandoned 
Egypt or been killed in the war against the Mussulmans, 
were either declared to be the property of the new gov- 
ernment or given out again as fiefs or rewards to the 
chief of&cers of the army. All these lands were leased 
to the Koptic farmers, and the respective rights of the 
new proprietors or tenant farmers and of the peasant 
proprietors were determined by decisive and invariable 
rules. Thus the agricultural population enjoyed under 
the Mussulmans a security and ease which replaced the 
tyrannical annoyances and arbitrary exactions of the 
Christian agents of the treasury of Constantinople; for, 
in fact, little by little, there had disappeared under these 
Greek agents the sound principles of the old adminis- 
tration that had been established by the wise kings of 



ancient Egypt, and which the Ptolemies had scrupulously 
preserved, as did also the first governors under the 

After all these improvements in the internal admin- 
istration, the governor turned his attention to the ques- 
tion of justice, which until that moment had been subject 
to the decision of financial agents, or of the soldiers 
of the Greek government. Amr now created permanent 
and regular tribunals composed of honourable, inde- 
pendent, and enlightened men, who enjoyed public 
respect and esteem. To Amr dates back the first of those 
divans, chosen from the elite of the population, as sureties 
of the fairness of the cadis, which received appeals 
from first judgments to confirm them, or, in the case 
of wrongful decisions, to alter them. The decrees of 
the Arab judges had force only for those Mussulmans 
who formed a part of the occupying army. "Whenever a 
Koptie inhabitant was a party in an action, the Koptic 
authorities had the right to intervene, and the parties 
were judged by their equals in race and religion. 

One striking act of justice succeeded in winning for 
Amr the hearts of all. Despite the terror inspired by 
the religious persecutions which Heraclius had carried on 
with so much energy, one man, the Koptic patriarch 
Benjamin, had bravely kept his faith intact. He belonged 
to the Jacobite sect and abandoned none of its dogmas, 
and in their intolerance the all-powerful Melchites did 
not hesitate to choose him as their chief victim. Ben- 
jamin was dispossessed of his patriarchal throne, his 
liberty and life were threatened, and he only succeeded 


in saving both by taking flight. He lived thus forgotten 
in the various refuges that the desert monasteries 
afforded him, while Heraclius replaced him by an ardent 
supporter of the opinions favoured at court. The whole 
of Egypt was then divided into two churches separated 
from each other by an implacable hatred. At the head of 
the Melchites was the new patriarch, who was followed 
by a few priests and a small number of partisans who 
were more attached to him by fear than by faith. The 
Jacobites, on the other hand, comprised the immense ma- 
jority of the population, who looked upon the patriarch 
as an intruder chosen by the emperor. The church still 
acknowledged as its real head Benjamin, the patriarch 
who had been for thirteen years a wanderer, and whose 
return was ardently desired. This wish found public 
expression as soon as the downfall of the imperial power 
in Egypt permitted its free manifestation. Amr listened 
to the supplications that were addressed to him, and, 
turning out the usurper in his turn, recalled Benjamin 
from his long exile and replaced him on the patriarchal 

But even here Amr's protection of the Koptic religion 
did not end. He opened the door of his Mussulman town, 
and allowed them to live in Fostat and to build churches 
there in the midst of the Mussulman soldiers, even when 
Islamism was still without a temple in the city, or 
a consecrated place worthy of the religion of the 

Amr at length resolved to build in his new capital a 
magnificent mosque in imitation of the one at Mecca. 



Designs were speedily drawn up, the location of the new 
temple being, according to Arab authors, that of an 
ancient pyre consecrated by the Persians, and which had 
been in ruins since the time of the Ptolemies. The 
monuments of Memphis had often been, pillaged by 


Grreek and Roman emperors, and now they were once 
again despoiled to furnish the mosque of Amr with the 
beautiful colonnades of marble and porphyry which 
adorn the walls, and on which, the Arab historians 
assure us, the whole Koran was written in letters of 


Omar died in 644, and under his successor, Othman, 
the Arabian conquests were extended in Northern Africa. 
Othman dying in 656, the claims of Ali were warmly 
supported, but not universally recognised, many looking 
to Muawia as an acceptable candidate for the caliphate. 
This was especially the view of the Syrian Muham- 
medans, and in 661 Muawia I. was elected caliph. He 
promptly transferred the capital from Medina to Damas- 
cus, and became in fact the founder of a dynasty known 
as the Ommayads, the new caliph being a descendant of 
the famous Arabian chieftain Ommayad. Egypt ac- 
knowledged the new authority and remained quiet and 
submissive. It furnished Abd el-Malik, who became 
caliph in 685, not only with rich subsidies and abundant 
provisions, but also with part of his troops. 

The attachment of the Egyptians to their new mas- 
ters wa^ chiefly owing to the gentleness and wisdom of 
Abd el- Aziz ibn Merwan, who administered the country 
after Amr was put to death in 689. He visited all the 
provinces of Egypt, and, arriving at Alexandria, he or- 
dered the building of a bridge over the canal, recognising 
the importance of this communication between the town 
and coimtry. 

Benefiting by the religious liberty that Mussulman 
sovereignship had secured them, the Kopts no longer 
attended to the quarrels of their masters. They only 
occupied themselves in maintaining the quiet peaceful- 
ness they had obtained by regular payment of their 
taxes, and by supplying men and commodities when 
occasion demanded it. During the reign of Abd el-Malik 



in Egypt the only remarkable event there was the elec- 
tion, in 688, of the Jacobite Isaac as patriarch of Alex- 
andria. The Koptic clergy give him no other claim to 
historical remembrance than the formulating of a decree 


ordaining " that the patriarch can only be inaugurated 
on a Sunday." 

Isaac was succeeded by Simon the Syrian, whom the 
Koptic church looks upon as a saint, and for whom is 


claimed the power of reviving the dead. He neverthe- 
less died from the effects of poison given him at the 
altar by some jealous rival. Arab historians relate how 
deputies came to Simon from India to ask for a bishop 
and some priests. The patriarch refused to comply with 
this request, but Abd el-Aziz, thinking that this rela- 
tion with India might prove politically useful, gave the 
order to other and more docUe priests. 

The patriarchal seat was empty for three years after 
the death of Simon. The Kopts next appointed a pa- 
triarch named Alexander, who held the office for a little 
over twenty years. The Koptic writers who recount 
the history of this patriarch mention their discontent 
with the governor Abd el-Aziz. The monks and other 
members of the clergy had grown very numerous in 
Egypt and claimed to be exempt from taxation. Abd 
el- Aziz, whose yearly tax was fixed, thought it unjust 
that the poorest classes of the people should be made 
to pay while the priests, the bishop, and the patriarch, 
all possessing abundance, should be privileged by ex- 
emption. He therefore had a census made of aU the 
monks and put on them a tax of one dinar (about $2.53), 
while he exacted from the patriarch an annual payment 
of three thousand dinars, or about $7,600. This act of 
justice was the cause of many complaints among the 
clergy, but they were soon suppressed and were without 

After more than twenty years of a prosperous gov- 
ernment of Egypt, Abd el-Aziz ibn Merwan died at 
Fostat in the year 708 (a. h. 86) at the very time when, 




with many fresh plans for the future, he had completed 
the building of a large and magnificent palace called 
ed-Dar el-mudahaba (the golden house), and a quarter 
of the town called Suk el-hammam (the pigeon market). 
The Caliph Abd el-Malik felt deeply 
the loss of this brother, whose qual- 
ities he highly appreciated and whom 
he had appointed as his successor. 

He now named as his heir to the 
caliphate Walid, his eldest son, and 
replaced Abd el- Aziz in the govern- 
ment of Egypt with his second son, 
Abd Allah ibn Abd el-Malik. The Kopts hoped to ob- 
tain from the new governor the repeal of the act that 
exacted yearly tribute from the clergy, but Abd Allah 
did not think it fair to grant this unjust discrimination 
against the poorer classes of the Egyptians. Those 
monks who have written the history 
of the patriarchs have therefore 
painted Abd Allah in even blacker 
colours than they did his predeces- 
sor. For the rest, Abd Allah only 
held the reins of government in 
Egypt imtil the death of his father, 
which occurred a few months later. 

Suleiman succeeded his brother Walid I. The new 
caliph vigorously put into execution all the plans his 
brother had formed for the propagation of the religion 
of the Prophet. In the first year of his reign he con- 
quered Tabaristan and Georgia, and sent his brother 




Maslama to lay fresh siege to Constantinople. On his 
accession to the throne Suleiman placed the government 
of Egypt in the hands of Assama ibn Yazid, with the 
title of agent-general of finances. 

The Koptic clerical historians, according to their 
usual habit, portray this governor as stiU worse than 
his predecessors, but in this case the Mussulman au- 
thorities are in agreement in accusing him of the most 
iniquitous extortions and most barbarous massacres. 
The gravest reproach they bring against him is that, 
calling all the monks together, he told thehi that not 

only did he intend to 
maintain the old regula- 
tions of Abd el- Aziz, by 
which they had to pay an 
annual tax of one dinar 
($2.53), but also that they 
would be obliged to receive yearly from his agents an 
iron ring bearing their name and the date of the finan- 
cial transaction, for which ring they were to make per- 
sonal contribution. He forced the wearing of this ring 
continually, and the hand found without this strange 
form of receipt was to be cut off. Several monks who 
endeavoured to evade this strict order were pitilessly 
mutilated, while a number of them, rebelling against 
the payment of the tax, retired into convents, think- 
ing they could safely defraud the treasury. Assama, 
however, sent his soldiers to search these retreats, and 
all the monks found without rings were beheaded or 
put to death by the bastinado. 




Careful about all that related to the Egyptian rev- 
enues, Assama commanded the keeping up of the vari- 
ous Nilometers, which stiU served to regulate the assess- 
ment of the ground tax. In the year 718 he learned 
that the Nilometer established at Helwan, a little below 
Fostat, had fallen in, and hastened to report the fact 


to the caliph. By the orders of this prince the ruined 
Nilometer was abandoned, and a new one built at the 
meridional point of the island now called Rhodha, just 
between Fostat and Gizeh. But of all the financial trans- 
actions of Assama, the one that vexed most the inhab- 
itants of Egypt, and which brought down on him the 
most violent and implacable hatred, was the ordinance 
by which all ascending or descending the Nile were 


obliged to provide themselves with a passport bearing 
a tax. This exorbitant claim was carried out with an 
abusive and arbitrary sternness. A poor widow, the 
Oriental writers say, was travelling up the Nile with 
her son, having with her a correct passport, the payment 
of which had taken nearly all she possessed. The young 
man, while stretched along the boat to drink of the 
river's water, was seized by a crocodile and swallowed, 
together with the passport he carried in his breast. The 
treasury officers insisted that the wretched widow should 
take a fresh one ; and to obtain payment for it she sold 
all she had, even to the very clothes she wore. Such 
intolerable exactions and excesses ended by thoroughly 
rousing the indignant Egyptians. The malcontents as- 
sembled, and a general revolt would have been the result 
but for the news of the death of the Caliph Suleiman 
(717), which gave birth to the hope that justice might 
be obtained from his successor. 

The next caliph was Omar II., a grandson of Merwan 
I., who had been nominated as his successor by Suleiman. 
In his reign the Muhammedans were repulsed from Con- 
stantinople, and the political movement began which 
finally established the Abbasid dynasty at Baghdad. 
Omar dying in the year 720, Yazid II., a son of Abd el- 
Malik, succeeded to the caliphate, and reigned for four 
years, history being for the most part silent as to the 
general condition of Egypt under these two caliphs. 
It is recorded that in the year 720, one of Yazid 's broth- 
ers, by name Muhammed ibn Abd el-Malik, ruled over 
Egypt, The Kopts complained of his rule, and declared 



that during the whole reign of Yazid ibn Abd el-MaUk 

the Christians were persecuted, crosses overthrown, and 

churches destroyed. 

Yazid was succeeded, in 724 a. d., by his brother 

Hisham, surnamed Abu'l-Walid, the fourth son of Abd 

el-Malik to occupy the throne 
[fy^ of Islam, who, having been ap- 
pointed by his brother as his 
successor, took possession of 
f|' the throne on the very day of 
his death. Muhanuned was re- 
placed in Egypt by his cousin, 
Hassan ibn Yusuf, who only 
held office for three years, re- 
signing voluntarily in the year 
730 A. D., or 108 of the Hegira. 
The Caliph Hisham replaced 
him by Hafs ibn Walid, who 
was deposed a year later, and 


in the year 109 of the Hegira 
the caliph appointed in his place Abd el-Malik ibn Rifa, 
who had already governed Egypt during the caliphate 
of Walid I. Hisham made many changes in the gov- 
ernorship of Egypt, and amid a succession of rulers 
appointed Handhala to the post. He had already been 
governor of Egypt under Yazid 11. He administered 
the province for another six years, and, according to the 
Christian historians of the East, pursued the same course 
of intolerance and tyranny that he had adopted when 
he governed Egypt for the first time under Yazid. 


The Caliph Hisham enjoined Handhala to be gentle 
with his subjects and to treat the Christians with kind- 
ness, but far from conforming with these wise and kindly 
intentions, he overwhelmed them with vexations and 
tyrannous acts. He doubled the taxes by a general 
census, subjecting not only men but also their animals 
to an impost. The receipts for the new duty had to be 
stamped with the impression of a lion, and every Chris- 
tian found without one of these documents was deprived 
of one of his hands. 

In the year 746 (a. h. 124) , on being informed of these 
abuses, the caliph deprived him of the government of 
Egypt, and, giving him the administration of Mauritania, 
appointed as his successor Hafs ibn Walid, who, accord- 
ing to some accounts, had previously governed Egypt for 
sixteen years, and who had left pleasanter recollections 
behind him. Hafs, however, now only held office for a 

Nothing of political importance happened in Egypt 
under the long reign of Hisham, the only events noticed 
by the Christian historians being those which relate 
solely to their ecclesiastical history. The 108th year 
of the Hegira saw the death of Alexander, the forty-third 
Koptic Patriarch of Alexandria. Since the conquest of 
Egypt by Omar, for a period of about twenty-four years, 
the patriarchate had been in the hands of the Jacobites; 
all the bishops in Egypt belonged to that sect, and they 
had established Jacobite bishops even in N'ubia, which 
they had converted to their religion. The orthodox Chris- 
tians elected Kosmas as their patriarch. At that time 


the heretics had taken possession of all the churches in 
Egypt, and the patriarch only retained that of Mar-Saba, 
or the Holy Sabbath. Kosmas, by his solicitations, ob- 
tained from Hisham an order to his financial adminis- 
trator in Egypt, Abd Allah ibn es-Sakari, to see that all 
the churches were returned to the sect to which they 

After occupying the patriarchal throne for only fif- 
teen months, Kosmas died. In the 109th year of the 
Hegira (a.d. 727—28) Kosmas was succeeded by the 
patriarch Theodore. He occupied the seat for eleven 
years. His patriarchate was a period of peace and quiet 
for the church of Alexandria, and caused a temporary 
cessation of the quarrels between the Melchites and the 
Jacobites. A vacancy of six years followed his death 
until, in the year 127 of the Hegira (749 a. d.), Ibn KhalU 
was promoted to the office of patriarch, and held his seat 
for twenty-three years. 

Walid II. succeeded to the caliphate in the year 749. 
One of his first acts was to take the government of Egypt 
from Hafs, in spite of the kindness of his rule, the wis- 
dom and moderation of which had gained for him the 
affection of all the provinces which he governed. He 
was replaced by Isa ibn Abi Atta, who soon created a 
universal discontent, as his administrative measures 
were oppressive. 

In the year 750 the Ommayads were supplanted by 
the Abbasids, who transferred the capital from Damascus 
to Baghdad. The first Abbasid caliph was Abu '1- Abbas, 
who claimed descent from Abbas, the uncle of Muham- 


med. The caliph Merwan II., the last of the Onunayads, 
in his flight from his enemies came to Egypt and sent 
troops from Fostat to hold Alexandria. He was now 
pursued to his death by the Abbasid general Salih ibn 
Ali, who took possession of Fostat for the new dynasty 
in 750. The change from the Ommayad to the Abbasid 
caliphs was effected with little difficulty, and Egypt con- 
tinued to be a province of the caKphate and was ruled 
by governors who were mostly Arabs or members of the 
Abbasid family. 

Abu '1- Abbas, after being inaugurated, began his rule 
by recalling all the provincial governors, whom he re- 
placed by his kinsmen and partisans. He entrusted the 
government of Egypt to his paternal uncle, Salih ibn Ali, 
who had obtained the province for him. Salih, however, 
did not rule in person, but was represented by Abu Aun 
Abd el-Malik ibn Yazid, whom he appointed vice-gov- 
ernor. The duties of patriarch of Alexandria were then 
performed by Michel, commonly called Khail by the 
Kopts. This patriarch was of the Jacobite sect and the 
forty-fifth successor of St. Mark : he held the office about 
three years. He in turn was succeeded by the patriarch 
Myna, a native of Semennud (the ancient Sebennytus). 

In the year 754 Abu '1- Abbas died at the age of thirty- 
two, after reigning four years, eight months, and twenty- 
six days, the Arabian historians being always very 
precise in recording the duration of the reign of the 
caliphs. He was the first of the caliphs to appoint a 
vizier, the Onmiayad caliphs employing only secretaries 
during their administration. The successor of Abu'l- 


Abbas was Ms brother Abu Jafar, sumamed El-Man- 
sur. Three years after his accession he took the govern- 
ment of Egypt from his imcle, and in less than seven 
years Egypt passed successively through the hands of 
six different governors. These changes were instigated 
by the mistrustful disposition of the caliph, who saw 
in every man a traitor and conspirator, dismissing on 
the slightest provocation his most devoted adherents, 
some of whom were even put to death by his orders. His 
last choice, Yazid ibn Hatim, governed Egypt for eight 
years, and the caliph bestowed the title of Prince of 
Egypt (Emir Misri) upon him, which title was also 
borne by his successors. 

These continual changes in the government of Egypt 
had not furthered the prosperity and weU-being of the 
inhabitants. Each ruler, certain of speedy dismissal, 
busied himself with his personal affairs to the detriment 
of the country, anxious only to amass by every possible 
means sufficient money to compensate him for his inevi- 
table deposition. Moreover, each governor increased the 
taxation levied by his predecessor. Such was the greed 
and rapacity of these governors that every industry was 
continually subjected to increased taxation; the work- 
ing bricklayer, the vender of vegetables, the camel-driver, 
the gravedigger, all callings, even that of mendicant, 
were taxed, and the lower classes were reduced to eating 
dog's flesh and human remains. At the moment when 
Egypt, unable to support such oppression longer, was 
on the verge of insurrection, the welcome tidings of the 
death of El-Mansur arrived. 


Muhanuned el-Mahdi, son of El-Mansur, succeeded 
his father and was the third caliph of the house of Abbas. 
He was at Baghdad when his father expired near Mecca, 
but, despite his absence, was immediately proclaimed 
caliph. El-Mahdi betrayed in his deeds that same fickle- 
ness which had signalised the caliphate of his father, 
El-Mansur. He appointed a different governor of Egypt 
nearly every year. These many changes resulted prob- 
ably from the political views held by the caliph, or per- 
haps he already perceived the tendency shown by each 
of his provinces to separate itself from the centre of 
Islamism. Perhaps also he already foresaw those di- 
visions which destroyed the empire about half a century 
later. Thus his prudence sought, in allowing but a short 
period of power to each governor, to prevent their 
strengthening themselves sufficiently in their provinces 
to become independent. 

Egypt remained calm and subdued under these con- 
stant changes of government. Syria and the neighbour- 
ing provinces followed suit, and the Caliph el-Mahdi 
profited by this peaceful state of things to attack the 
Emperor of the Greeks. His second son, Harun, under- 
took the continuation of this war, and the young prince 
displayed such talent and bravery that he gained brilliant 
victories, and returned to Baghdad after having cap- 
tured several cities from the Greeks, overthrown their 
generals, and forced Constantinople to pay an annual 
tribute of seventy thousand dinars (about $180,000). 
The Caliph el-Mahdi rewarded Harun by solemnly nam- 
ing him the future successor of his eldest son, Musa 



el-Hadi, whom he had just definitely declared his heir 
to the throne. Shortly after this decision, el-Mahdi died, 
in the year 785, having reigned ten years and two months. 

Musa el-Hadi, his eldest son, succeeded htm, being 
the fourth caliph of the race of Abbasids. On ascending 
the throne, he withdrew the government of Egypt from 
Fadl ibn Salih, appointing 
in his place Ali ibn Sulei- 
man, also a descendant of 
Abbas. El-Hadi plotted 
against the claims of Ha- 
run to the succession, but 
he died before his plans 
had matured, and Harun 
became caliph in the 
year 786. 

The reign of Harun 
er-Rashid was the most 
brilliant epoch of the em- 
pire of Islamism, and his 
glory penetrated from the 
far East to the western 
countries of Europe, 

where his name is still celebrated. Harun seems to have 
been as reluctant as his father and grandfather were 
before him to leave a province too long in the hands of 
a governor, and he even surpassed them in his precau- 
tionary measures. In the year 171 of the Hegira, he 
recalled Ali ibn Suleiman, and gave the government of 
Egypt to Musa ibn Isa, a descendant of the Caliph Ali. 



Thereafter the governors were changed on an average 
of once a year, and their financial duties were separately 
administered. Musa ibn Isa, however, held the appoint- 
ment of Grovernor of Egypt on three separate occasions, 
and of his third period Said ibn Batrik tells the following 
anecdote : 

" While Obaid Allah ibn el-Mahdi was ruling in 
Egypt," he relates, " he sent a beautiful young Koptic 
slave to his brother, the caliph, as a gift. The Egyptian 
odalisk so charmed the caliph that he fell violently in 
love with her. Suddenly, however, the favourite was 
laid prostrate by a malady which the court physicians 
could neither cure nor even diagnose. The girl insisted 
that, being Egyptian, only an Egyptian physician could 
cure her. The caliph instantly ordered his brother to 
send post haste the most skilful doctor in Egypt. This 
proved to be the Melchite patriarch, for in those days 
Koptic priests practised medicine and cultivated other 
sciences. The patriarch set out for Baghdad, restored 
the favourite to health, and in reward received from the 
caliph an imperial diploma, which restored to the ortho- 
dox Christians or Melchites all those privileges of which 
they had been deprived by the Jacobite heretics since 
their union with the conqueror Amr ibn el-Asi." 

If this story be true, one cannot but perceive the plot 
skilfully laid and carried out by the powerful clergy, 
to whom any means, even the sending of a concubine to 
the caliph, seemed legitimate to procure the restoration 
of their supremacy and the humiliation of their adver- 



The year 204 of the Hegira was memorable for the 
death of the Iman Muhammed ibn Idris, sm-named esh- 
Shafi, This celebrated doctor was the founder of one 
of the four orthodox sects which recognised the Moslem 
religion, and whose followers take the name " Shafites " 
from their chief. The 
Iman esh-Shafi died at 
Fostat when but forty- 
three years old. His dog- 
mas are more especially fol- 
lowed in Egypt, where his 
sect is still represented and 
presided over by one of the 
four Imans at the head of 
the famous Mosque Jam el- 
Azar, or mosque of flowers. 

The distance of Egypt 
from Baghdad, the caliph's capital, was the cause of 
the neglect of many of his commands, and upon more 
than one occasion was his authority slighted. Thus it 
happened that for more than five years the government 
of Egypt was in the hands of Abd Allah ibn es-Sari, 
whom the soldiers elected, but whose appointment was 
never confirmed by the caliph. Abd Allah ibn Tahir, the 
son of the successful general, had, in the year a. h. 210, 
settled at Belbeys in Egypt. With a large number of 
partisans, he assumed almost regal privileges. In 211 
A. H. he proceeded to Eostat and there dismissed Abd 
Allah ibn es-Sari and replaced him by Ayad ibn Ibrahim, 
whom he also dismissed the following year, giving the 



governorship to Isa ibn Yazid, surnamed el-Jalud. In 
the year 213, the Caliph el-Mamim ordered Abd Allah 
ibn Tahir to retire, and confided the government of Egypt 
and also that of Syria to his o^vn brother el-Mutasim, 
third son of the Caliph Harun er-Rashid. 

In the year 218 of the Hegira (a, d. 833), Muhammed 
el-Mutasim succeeded his brother el-Mamun. He was 
the first caliph who brought the name of God into his 
surname. On ascending the throne, he assumed the title 
el-Mutasim b'lUah, that is " strengthened by God," and 
his example was followed by all his successors. 

Prom the commencement of this reign, el-Mutasim 
b'lllah was forced to defend himself against insurgents 
and aspirants to the caliphate. In the year 219 of the 
Hegira, Kindi, the Governor of Egypt, died, and the 
caliph named his son, Mudhaffar ibn Kindi, as his suc- 
cessor. Mudhaffar ibn Kindi, dying the following year, 
was succeeded by Musa, son of Abu '1- Abbas, surnamed 
esh-Shirbani by some writers, esh-Shami (the Syrian) 
by others. In the year 224 Musa was recalled and his 
place taken by Malik, surnamed by some el-Hindi (the 
Indian), by others ibn el-Kindi. A year later the caliph 
dismissed Mahk, and sent Ashas to Egypt in his place. 
This was the last governor appointed by el-Mutasim 
b'lllah, for the caliph died of fever in the year 227 of 
the Hegira. 

Oriental historians have noticed that the numeral 
eight affected this caliph in a singular manner. Between 
himself and Abbas, the head of his house, there were 
eight generations; he was bom in the month of Shaban, 



the eighth month of the Mussulman year; he was the 
eighth Abbasidian caliph, and ascended the throne in 
the year 218, aged thirty-eight years and eight months; 
he reigned eight years, eight months, and eight days, 
and died in the forty-eighth year of his age, leaving eight 
sons and eight daughters. He fought in eight battles, 


and on his death eight million dinars and eighty thousand 
dirhems were discovered in his private treasury. It is 
this singular coincidence which gave him the name 

But a sadder fatality exercised its influence over the 
€aliph Mutamma, for from him dates the beginning of 
the decadence of his dynasty, and to him its first cause 


may be ascribed. The fact is, Mutasim was uneducated, 
without ability, and lacking in moral principles; he 
was unable even to write. Endowed with remarkable 
strength and muscles of iron, he was able, so Arab his- 
torians relate, to lift and carry exceptionally heavy 
weights; to this strength was added indomitable courage 
and love of warfare, fine weapons, horses, and warriors. 
This taste led him, even before the death of his father, 
to organise a picked corps, for which he selected the 
finest, handsomest, and strongest of the young Turkish 
slaves taken in war, or sent as tribute to the caliph. 

The vast nation, sometimes called Turks, sometimes 
Tatars, was distributed, according to all Oriental geog- 
raphers, over all the countries of N'orthem Asia, from 
the river Jihun or Oxus to Kathay or China. That the 
Turks and the Arabs, both bent upon a persistent policy 
of conquest, should come into more or less hostile contact 
was inevitable. The struggle was a long one, and during 
the numerous engagements many prisoners were taken 
on both sides. Those Turks who fell into the hands of 
the Arabs were sent to the different provinces of their 
domain, where they became slaves of the chief emirs 
and of the caliphs themselves, where, finding favour in 
the eyes of the caliphs, they were soon transferred to 
their personal retinue. The distrust which the caliphs 
felt for the emirs of their court, whose claims they were 
only able to appease by making vassals of them, caused 
them to commit the grave error of confiding in these alien 
slaves, who, barbaric and illiterate as they were, now 
living in the midst of princes, soon acquired a knowledge 

Janizary of the Guard 

Etching by A. Fabres 

Janizary of the Guard 

Etching by A. Fabres 

TULUN 353 

of Muhanunedanism, the sciences, and, above all, the 
politics of the country. 

It was not long before they were able to fiU the most 
responsible positions, and, given their freedom by the 
caliphs, were employed by the government according 
to their abilities. Not only were they given the chief 
positions at court, but the government of the principal 
provinces was entrusted to them. They repaid these 
favours later by the blackest ingratitude, especially 
when the formation of a Turkish guard brought a number 
of their own countrymen under their influence. Ever 
anxious to augment his own body-guard, and finding the 
number of Turks he annually received as tribute insuf- 
ficient, el-Mutasim purchased a great many for the pur- 
pose of training them for that particular service. But 
these youths speedily abused the confidence shown them 
by the caliph, who, perceiving that their insolence was 
daily growing more insupportable to the inhabitants of 
Baghdad, resolved to leave the capital, rebuild the an- 
cient city of Samarrah and again make it the seat of 
the empire. 

At this time the captain of the caliph's guard was 
one Tulun, a freedman, whom fate would seem to have 
reduced to servitude for the purpose of showing that 
a slave might found a dynasty destined to rule over 
Egypt and Syria. Tulun belonged to the Toghus-ghur, 
one of the twenty-four tribes composing the population 
of Turkestan. His family dwelt near Lake Lop, in Little 
Bukhara. He was taken prisoner in battle by ISTuh ibn 
Assad es-Samami, then in command at Bukhara. This 


prince, who was subject to tlie Caliph Mamim, paid an 
annual tribute of slaves, Turkish horses, and other val- 
uables. In the year 815 a. d., Tulun was among the slaves 
sent as tribute to the caliph, who, attracted by his bear- 
ing, enrolled him in Ms own body-guard. 

Before long he had so gained the caliph's confidence 
that Mamun gave him his freedom and the command 
of the guard, at the same time appointing him Emir 
es-sitri, prince of the veil or curtain. This post, which 
was a mark of the greatest esteem, comprised the charge 
of the personal safety of the sovereign, by continually 
keeping watch without the curtain or rich drapery which 
hung before the private apartments, and admitting no 
one without a special order. Tulun spent twenty years 
at the court of el-Mamun and of his successor, Mutasim, 
and became the father of several children, one of which, 
Ahmed ibn Tulun/ known later as Abu 1 'Abbas, was 
the founder of the Tulunide djoiasty in Egypt and Syria. 

Before Ahmed ibn Tulun had reached an age to take 
part in political affairs, two caliphs succeeded Mutasim 
b'lUali. The first was his son Harun abu Jafar, who, 
upon his accession, assumed the surname el-Wathik 
b'lllah (trusting in Grod). Wathik carried on the tra- 

^ Ahmed ibn Tulun was, according to some historians, born at Baghdad in the 
year 220 of the Hegira, in the third year of the reign of el -Mutasim b' Illah. 
Others claim Samarrah as his birthplace. His mother, a young Turkish slave, 
was named Kassimeh, or some say, Hachimeh. Some historians have denied 
that Ahmed was the son of Tulun, one of them, Suyuti, in a manuscript be- 
longing to Marcel, quotes Abu Asakar in confirmation of this assertion, who 
pretends he was told by an old Egyptian that Ahmed was the son of a Turk 
named Mahdi and of Kassimeh, the slave of Tulun. Suyuti adds that Tulun 
adopted the child on account of his good qualities, but this statement is unsup- 
ported and seems contradicted by subsequent events. 


ditional policy of continually changing the governors 
of the provinces, and, dying in the year 847, was suc- 
ceeded by his haK-brother Mutawakkil. In the following 
year the new caKph confided the government of Egypt 
to Anbasa, but dismissed him a few months later in 
favour of his own son el-Muntasir ibn el-Mutawakkil, 
whom two years afterwards the caliph named as his suc- 
cessor to the throne. El-Mimtasir was to be immediately 
succeeded by his two younger brothers, el-Mutazz b'll- 
lah and el-Mujib b'lllah. 

Mutawakkil then proceeded to divide his kingdom, 
giving Africa and all his Eastern possessions, from the 
frontier of Egypt to the eastern boundary of his states, 
to his eldest son. His second son, el-Mutazz, received 
Khorassan, Tabaristan, Persia, Armenia, and Aderbaijan 
as his portion, and to el-Mujib, his third son, he gave 
Damascus, Hemessa, the basin of the Jordan, and Pal- 

These measures, by which the caliph hoped to satisfy 
the ambitions of his sons, did not have the desired effect. 
Despite the immense concessions he had received, el- 
Muntasir, anxious to commence his rule over the whole 
of the Islam empire, secretly conspired against his father 
and meditated taking his life. Finding that in Egypt 
he was too far from the scene of his intrigues, he deputed 
the government of that country to Yazid ibn Abd Allah, 
and returned to his father's court to encourage the mal- 
contents and weave fresh plots. His evU schemes soon 
began to bear fruit, for, in the year 244 of the Hegira, 
Ms agents stirred up the Turkish soldiery at Damascus 



to insurrection on the ground of deferred payment. 
Whereupon the caliph paid them the arrears, and left 
Damascus to retire to Samarrah. 


At length, in the year 861 (a. h. 247), Mutawakkil 
discovered the scarcely concealed treachery of his son, 
and reproved him publicly. Some days later the caliph 
was murdered at night by the captain of his Turkish 
Guard, and Muntasir, who is commonly supposed to have 


instigated tlie crime, was immediately proclaimed as Ms 
successor in the government. 

The most important event in Egypt during the reign 
of Mutawakkil was the falling in of the Nilometer at 
Fostat. This disaster was the result of an earthquake 
of considerable violence, which was felt throughout 
Syria. The caliph ordered the reconstruction of the 
Nilometer, which was accomplished the same year, and 
the Nilometer of the Island of Rhodha was then called 
Magaz el-jedid, or the New Nilometer. 

After reigning scarcely a year, Mimtasir himself suc- 
cumbed, most probably to poison, and his cousin Ahmed 
was elected to the caliphate by the Turkish soldiery, with 
the title of Mustain. During his brief reign the Moslems 
were defeated by the Byzantines at Awasia, and in 866 
the Turkish soldiers revolted against the caliph and 
elected his brother Mutazz in his place. Mustain was, 
however, allowed to retire to Ma'szit. He was permitted 
to take an attendant with him, and his choice fell upon 
Ahmed, the son of Tulun, already mentioned. Ahmed 
served the dethroned prince truly, and had no part in 
the subsequent murder of this imhappy man. 

In the meantime the mother of Ahmed had married 
the influential General Baik-Bey, and when the latter 
was given the rulership of Egypt in the year 868 a. d. 
(254 A. H.), he sent his stepson as proxy, according to 
the custom of the time. On the 23d Ramadhan 254 (15th 
September, 868), Ahmed ibn Tulun arrived at Postat. 
He encountered great difficulties, and discovered that at 
Alexandria and also in other districts there were inde- 


pendent emirs, who were not directly under the ruler. 
Soon after his arrival an insurrection broke out in Upper 
Egypt. Ahmed showed himself born to the place; he 
crushed the uprising and also suppressed a second revolt 
that was threatening. By degrees he cleverly under- 
mined the power of his colleagues, and made his own 
position in Postat secure. 

When Muaf&k was nominated commander-in-chief of 
the West by his brother Mustamid (elected caliph in 870), 
Ahmed managed to secure the good-will of the vizier 
of the caliph and thus to obtain the command in Egypt. 
He kept the regent in Baghdad in a state of compla- 
cency, occasionally sending him tribute; but, as wars 
with the Sinds began to trouble the caliphate, he did not 
think it worth while to trouble himself further about 
Baghdad, and decided to keep his money for himself. 
Muafi&k was not the man to stand this, and prepared 
to attack Ahmed, but the disastrous results of the last 
war had not yet passed away. When the army intended 
for Egypt was camping in Mesopotamia, there was not 
enough money to pay the troops, and the undertaking 
had to be deferred. 

Ahmed had a free hand over the enormous produce 
of Egypt. The compulsory labour of the industrious 
Kopt brought in a yearly income of four million gold 
dinars ($10,120,000), and yet these people felt them- 
selves better off than formerly on account of the greater 
order and peace that existed under his energetic gov- 
ernment. It cannot be denied that Ahmed in the course 
of years became much more extravagant and luxurious, 



but he used Ms large means in some measure for the 
betterment of the country. He gave large sums not only 
for the erection of palaces and barracks, but also for hos- 
pitals and educational advancement. To this day is to 


be seen the mosque of Ibn Tulun, built by him in the 
newer part of Fostat,-a district which was later an- 
nexed to the town of Cairo. 

The numerous wars in which Muaffik was involved 
gave Ahmed the opportunity of extending his power 


beyond the boundaries of Egypt. The ruler of the ca- 
liphate of Damascus died in the year 897, and soon after 
Ahmed marched into Syria, and, with the exception of 
Antioch, which had to be taken by force, the whole coun- 
try fell inta the hands of the mighty emir. The com- 
manders of isolated districts did not feel themselves 
encouraged to offer any resistance, for they had no feel- 
ing of faithfulness for the government, nor had they 
any hope of assistance from Baghdad. 

The trimnphant march of Tulim was hindered in the 
year 879 by bad news from Fostat. One of his sons. 
El- Abbas, had quarrelled with his father, and had 
marched to Barca, with troops which he led afterwards 
to disaster, and had taken with him money to the amount 
of 1,000,000 dinars ($2,530,000). He thought himself 
safe from his enraged father there, but the latter quickly 
returned to Fostat, and the news of the ample prepara- 
tions which he was hastening for the subjection of his 
rebel son caused El- Abbas to place himself still farther 
out of his reach. He suddenly attacked the state of 
Ibrahim II. (the Aghlabite), and caused serious trouble 
with his soldiery in the eastern districts of Tripolis, 
The neighbouring Berbers gave Ibrahim their assistance, 
and Abbas was defeated and retreated to Barca in 880. 
He remained there some time until an army sent by 
Ahmed annihilated his troops and he himself was taken 

The rebellion of his son was the turning-point in 
Ahmed's career: Lulu, his general in Mesopotamia, de- 
serted him for Muaffik, and an endeavour to conquer 


Mecca was frustrated by the unexpected resistance of 
nmnbers of newly arrived pilgrims. Ahmed now caused 
the report to be spread that Muaffik was a conspirator 
against the representatives of the Prophet, thus depriv- 
ing him of his dignity. The emir had also besieged in 
vain at Tarsus his former general Jasman, who had 
become presumptuous on account of his victory over the 
Byzantines. He would eventually have made up for this 


defeat, but an illness overcame him while encamped 
before Tarsus. He obeyed his doctor's orders as little 
as the caliph's, and his malady, aggravated by improper 
diet, caused his death in his fifty-first year at Postat 
in 884, whither he had withdrawn. He left seventeen 
sons,— enough to assure a dynasty of a hundred years. 
Khumarawaih, who inherited the kingdom, had not 
many of his father's characteristics. He was a good- 


natured, pleasure-loving young man, barely twenty years 
old, and with a marked distaste for war. He did, how- 
ever, notwithstanding his peace-loving proclivities, fight 
the caliph's forces near Damascus, and defeat them, 
never having seen a battle before. The emir fled from 
the scene in a panic. 

When Muatadid became caliph in 892, he offered his 
daughter Katr en-Neda (Dewdrop) in marriage to the 
caliph's son. The Arabic historians relate that Khuma- 
rawaih was fearful of assassination, and had his couch 
guarded by a trained Uon, but he was finally put to death 
(a. h. 282), according to some accounts by women, and 
according to others by his eunuchs. The death of Khu- 
marawaih was the virtual downfall of the Tulunid 

The officers of the army then at first made Gaish 
Abu'l-Asakir (one of Khumarawaih's sons) emir; but, 
when this fourteen-year-old boy seemed incapable of 
anything but stupid jokes, they put his brother Harun 
on the throne. Every commanding officer, however, did 
as he liked. Rajib, the commander of the army of de- 
fence, declared himself on the side of the caliph, and 
the Syrian emirs gave themselves up to his general, 
Muhammed ibn Suleiman, without any resistance. At 
the close of the year he was before Postat, and at the 
same time a fleet appeared at Damietta. A quarrel arose 
amongst Harun 's body-guard, in which the unlucky 
prince was killed (904). His uncle Shaiban, a worthy 
son of Ahmed, made a last stand, but was obliged to give 
in to the superior force. 

a u tij T n d r h'^ ^4; . i i\ \o -j • i p - < - i /. 

Mosque of Ahmed ibn Tulun 


-i^f^ii-1 ndi ^s^Ux^ 

Mosque of Ahmed ibn Tulun 



Miihaimned behaved with his Turks in the most out- 
rageous way in Fostat: the plundering was unrestrained, 
and that part of Fostat which Ahmed had built was 
ahnost entirely destroyed. The adherents of the reign- 
ing family were grossly maltreated, many of them killed, 
and others sent to Baghdad. The governors changed in 
rapid succession; disorder, want, and wretchedness ex- 
isted throughout the entire country west of the caliph's 
kingdom. At this period the provinces of the empire 
had already fallen into the hands of the numerous minor 
princes, who, presuming on the caliph's weakness, had 
declared themselves independent sovereigns. Nothing 
remained to the Abbasids but Baghdad, a few neigh- 
bouring provinces, and Egypt. 

Under the Caliphs Muktadir, Kahir, and Eahdi, 
Egypt had an almost constant change of governors. One 
of them, Abu Bekr Muhammed, ultimately became the 
founder of a new dynasty,— the Ikshidite,— destined to 
rule over Egypt and Syria, Abu Bekr Muhammed was 
the son of Takadj, then governor of Damascus. His 
father had been chief emir at the court of the Tulunid 
princes, and, after the fall of this dynasty, remained in 
Egypt, where he occupied a post under the government. 
Intrigues, however, drove him to Syria, whither his 
partisans followed him. He first entered the army of 
the caliph, and, capturing the town of Ramleh, was given 
the governorship of Damascus as reward. His son Abu 
Bekr Muhammed did not go to Egypt to fulfil the duties 
with which he had been invested, and only retained the 
title for one month. He was subsequently reinstated, and 


this time repaired thither. But Ahmed ibn Kighlagh, 
who was then governing Egypt, refused to retire and was 
only defeated after several engagements, when he and 
his followers proceeded to Barca in Africa. 

In the year 328 of the Hegira, the caliph Eadhi be- 
stowed the honour of Emir el-Umara (Prince of Princes) 
upon Muhammed ibn Raik. This officer, discontented 
with the government of Palestine, led an army into Syria 
and expelled Badra, the lieutenant of Muhammed el- 
Ikshid. The latter left Egypt at once, entrusting the 
government of that country to his brother, el-Hassan, 
and brought his forces to Paramah, where the troops of 
Muhammed ibn Raik were already stationed. Thanks 
to the mediation of several emirs, matters were con- 
cluded peacefully, and Muhammed el-Ikhshid returned 
to Postat. Upon his arrival, however, he learnt that 
Muhammed ibn Raik had again left Damascus and was 
preparing to march upon Egypt. 

This intelligence obliged Muhammed el-Ikshid to 
return at once to Syria. He encountered the advance- 
guard of the enemy and promptly led the attack; his 
right wing was scattered, but the centre, commanded by 
himself, remained firm, and Muhanuned ibn Raik re- 
treated towards Damascus. Husain, brother of el-Ikshid, 
lost his life in the combat. Despite the enmity between 
them, Muhammed ibn Raik sent his own son to el-Ikshid, 
charged with messages of condolence for the loss he had 
sustained and bearing proposals of peace. Muhammed el- 
Ikshid received the son of his enemy with much respect, 
and invested him with a mantle of honour. He then 


consented to cede Damascus, in consideration of an an- 
nual tribute of 140,000 pieces of gold, and the restoration 
of all that portion of Palestine between Ramleh and the 
frontiers of Egypt. After having concluded all the ar- 
rangements relative to this treaty, Muhammed el-Ikshid 
returned to Egypt in the year 329 of the Hegira. 

The Caliph Rahdi died in the same year (940 a. p.). 
He was thirty years of age, and had reigned six years, 
ten months, and ten days. His brother, Abu Ishak 
Ibrahim, succeeded him, and 
was henceforth known by the 
name of Muttaki, A year later 
Muhammed el-Ikshid was ac- 
knowledged Prince of Egypt 
by the new caliph. Shortly 
after, he learnt that his former enemy, Muhammed ibn 
Raik had been killed by the Hamdanites; he thereupon 
seized the opportunity to recover those provinces he had 
granted him, and, marching into Syria, captured Damas- 
cus and all the possessions he had relinquished upon the 
conclusion of their treaty. Feeling now that his position 
was secure, he caused his son Kasim to be recognised 
by the emirs and the entire army as his successor. 

The year 332 of the Hegira was a disastrous one in 
Baghdad. The office of Prince of Princes, bestowed 
according to the caprice of the Turkish officers upon 
any of their leaders, was now become a position superior 
even to that of caliph. It was held at this time by a 
Turk named Turun, who so oppressed the caliph Muttaki 
that the latter was forced to fly from his capital and 



retire to Mosul. He then besought help from the Ham- 
danites, who immediately rallied their forces and, ac- 
companied by the caliph, marched upon Baghdad. They 
were, however, completely routed by Turun and obliged 
to retreat. Muttaki showed his gratitude to the two 
princes by conferring a mantle of honour upon them, 
which, for some time past, had been the only gift that 
Islam sovereigns had been able to bestow. 

Leaving Mosul, the caliph proceeded to Rakkah, and 
there was invited by Turun to return to Baghdad. See- 
ing that his adherents, the Hamdanites, were greatly 
discouraged by their recent reverses, Muttaki resolved 
to accept the offer. When Muhammed el-Ikshid heard 
this, he hastened to Rakkah and offered the caliph refuge 
in Egypt. But the caliph refused, agreeing, however,, 
as Muhammed el-Ikshid promised to supply him with 
the necessary funds, not to return to Baghdad and place 
himself in the power of Turun. In spite of his promise,, 
when Turun, fearing that the caliph had found powerful 
friends, came to him, and, casting himself before Muttaki^ 
paid him all the homage due to an Islam sovereign, he 
allowed himself to be overruled, and accompanied Turim 
back to Baghdad. Hardly had the unfortunate caliph 
set foot in his capital when he was murdered, after reign- 
ing four years and eleven months. Turun now pro- 
claimed Abd Allah Abu'l Kasim, son of Muttaki, caliph, 
who, after a short and uneventful reign, was succeeded 
by his uncle, Abu'l Kasim el-Fadhl, who was the last of 
the Abbasid caliphs whom Egjrpt acknowledged as suze- 


After Muttaki's return to Baghdad, Muhammed el- 
Ikshid remained for some time in Damascus, and then 
set out for Egypt. His return was signalised by the war 
with Saif ed-Dowlah, Prince of Hamdan. The campaign 
was of varying success. After a disastrous battle, in 
which the Egyptians lost four thousand men as prisoners, 
Muhammed el-Ikshid left Egypt with a numerous army 
and arrived at Maarrah. Saif ed-Dowlah determined to 
decide the war with one desperate effort, and first se- 
cured the safety of his treasure, his baggage, and his ha- 
rem by sending them to Mesopotamia. Then he marched 
upon el-Ikshid, who had taken his position at Kinesrin. 

Muhammed divided his forces into two corps, plac- 
ing in the vanguard all those who carried lances; he 
himself was in the rear with ten thousand picked men. 
Saif ed-Dowlah charged the vanguard and routed it, but 
the rear stood firm; this resistance saved el-Ikshid from 
total defeat. The two armies separated after a some- 
what indecisive engagement, and Saif ed-Dowlah, who 
could claim no advantage save the capture of his adver- 
saries' baggage, went on to Maubej, where he destroyed 
the bridge, and, entering Mesopotamia, proceeded 
towards Rakkah; but Muhammed el-Ikshid was already 
stationed there, and the hostile armies, separated only 
by the Euphrates, faced one another for several days. 

Negotiations were then opened, and peace was con- 
cluded. The conditions were that Hemessa, Aleppo, 
and Mesopotamia should belong to Saif ed-Dowlah, and 
all the country from Hemessa to the frontiers of Egypt 
remain in the possession of Muhammed el-Ikshid. A 


trench was dug between Djouchna and Lebouah, in those 
places where there were no natural boundaries, to mark 
the separation of the two states. To ratify this solemn 
peace, Saif ed-Dowlah married the daughter of Muham- 
med el-Ikshid; then each prince returned to his own 
province. The treaty was, however, almost immediately 
set aside by the Hamdanites, and el-Ikshid, forced to 
retrace his steps, defeated them in several engagements 
and seized the town of Aleppo. 

Thus we see that the year 334 of the Hegira (a. d. 946) 
was full of important events, to which was soon added 
the death of Muhammed el-Ikshid. He died at Damas- 
cus, in the last month of the year (Dhu'1-Kada), aged 
sixty, and had reigned eleven years, three months, and 
two days. He was buried at Jerusalem. Muhammed 
el-Ikshid was a man possessing many excellent talents, 
and chiefly renowned as an admirable soldier. Brave, 
without being rash, quick to calculate his chances, he 
was able always to seize the advantage. On the other 
hand, however, he was so distrustful and timid in the 
privacy of his palace that he organised a guard of eight 
thousand armed slaves, one thousand of whom kept con- 
stant watch. He never spent the entire night in the 
same apartment or tent, and no one was ever permitted 
to know the place where he slept. 

We are told that this prince could muster four hun- 
dred thousand men; although historians do not definitely 
specify the boundaries of his empire, which, of course, 
varied from time to time, we may nevertheless believe 
that his kingdom, as that of his predecessors, the Tulun- 


ites, extended over Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Meso- 
potamia, as far as the Euphrates, and even included a 
large portion of Arabia. The Christians of the East 
charge him with supporting his immense army at their 
expense, and persecuting and taxing them to such an 
extent that they were forced to sell many possessions 
belonging to their Church before they could pay the 
required sums. 

But, if we may credit a contemporary historian more 
worthy of belief, these expenses were covered by the 
treasure Muhammed el-Ikshid himself discovered. In 
fact, el-Massudi, who died at Cairo in the year 346 of 
the Hegira, relates that el-Ikshid, knowing much treas- 
ure to be buried there, was greatly interested in the 
excavation of the subterraneous tombs of the ancient 
Egyptian kings. ** The prince," he adds, '' was fortu- 
nate enough to come across a portion of those tombs, 
consisting of vast rooms magnificently decorated. There 
he found marvellously wrought figures of old and young 
men, women, and children, having eyes of precious stones 
and faces of gold and silver." 

Muhammed el-Ikshid was succeeded by his son, Abu'l 
Kasim Muhammed, surnamed Ungur. The prince being 
only an infant, Kafur, the favourite minister of the late 
caliph, was appointed regent. This Kafur was a black 
slave purchased by el-Ikshid for the trifling sum of 
twenty pieces of gold. He was intelligent, zealous, and 
faithful, and soon won the confidence of his master. 
Nobility of race in the East appertains only to the de- 
scendants of the Prophet, but merit, which may be found 


in prince and subject alike, often secures the higliest 
positions, and even the throne itself for those of the 
humblest origin. Such was the fate of Kafur. He 
showed taste for the sciences, and encouraged scholars; 
he loaded the poets with benefits, and they sang his 
praises without measure so long as he continued his 
favours, but satirised him with equal vigour as soon as 
his munificence diminished. Invested with supreme au- 
thority, Kafur served the young prince with a devotion 
and fidelity worthy of the highest praise. His first step 
was to dismiss Abu Bekr Muhammed, the receiver of 
the Egyptian tributes, against whom he had received 
well-merited complaints. In his place he appointed a 
native of Mardin, also called Muhammed, of whose hon- 
esty and kindliness he was well aware. He then took his 
pupil to Egypt, which country they reached in the month 
of Safar in the year 335 of the Hegira. 

Saif ed-Dowlah, hearing of the death of Muhammed 
el-Ikshid, and the departure of Ungur, deemed this a 
favourable opportunity to despoil his brother-in-law; 
he therefore marched upon Damascus, which he cap- 
tured; but the faithful Kafur promptly arrived upon 
the scene with a powerful army, and, routing Saif ed- 
Dowlah, who had advanced as far as Ramleh, drove him 
back to Rakkah, and relieved Damascus. The remainder 
of the reign of Ungur passed peacefully, thanks to the 
watchfulness and wise government of Kafur. 

In the year 345 of the Hegira, the King of Nubia 
invaded the Egyptian territories, advancing to Syene, 
which he pillaged and laid waste. Kafur at once des- 



patched his forces overland and along the Nile, and 
simultaneously ordered a detachment embarking from 
the Red Sea to proceed along the southern coast, attack 
the enemy in the rear and completely cut ofe their retreat. 
The Nubians, thus surprised on all sides, were defeated 
and forced to retreat, leaving the fortress of Rym, now 
known as Ibrim, and situated fifty miles from Syene, 


in the hands of the Egyptians. No other events of note 
took place during the lifetime of Ungur, who, having 
reigned fourteen years and ten days, died in the year 
349 of the Hegira, leaving his brother Ali, sumamed 
Abu'l-Hasan, as his successor. 

The reign of Abu'l-Hasan Ali, the second son of 
Muhammed el-Ikshid, lasted but five years. His name, 
as that of his brother Ungur (Abu Hurr), is but little 


known in history. Kafur was also regent during tlie 
reign of Abu'l-Hasan Ali. 

In the year 352 of the Hegira, Egypt was stricken 
with a disastrous famine. The rise of the Nile, which 
the previous year had been but fifteen cubits, was this 
year even less, and suddenly the waters fell without 
irrigating the country. Egypt and the dependent prov- 
inces were thus afflicted for nine consecutive years. Dur- 
ing this time, whilst the people were agitated by fear 
for the future, a rupture took place between Abu'l-Hasan 
Ali and Kafur. This internal disturbance was soon fol- 
lowed by war; and in the year 354 the G-reeks of Con- 
stantinople, led by the Emperor Nicepherous Phocas, 
advanced into Syria. They took Aleppo, then in the 
possession of the Hamdanites, and, encountering Saif 
ed-Dowlah, overthrew him also. The governor of Da- 
mascus, Dalim el-Ukazly, and ten thousand men came 
to the rescue of the Hamdanites, but Phocas beat a re- 
treat on hearing of his approach. 

Abu'l-Hasan Ali died in the year 355 of the Hegira. 
The regent Kafur then ascended the throne, assuming 
the surname el-Ikshid. He acknowledged the paramount 
authority of the Abbasid caliph, Muti, and that poten- 
tate recognised his supreme power in the kingdom of 
Egypt. During the reign of Kafur, which only lasted 
two years and four months, the greater portion of Said 
was seized by the Patimites, already masters of Payum 
and Alexandria, and the conquerors were on the point 
of encroaching still farther, when Kafur died in the year 
357 A. H. Ahmed, sumamed Abu'l Pawaris, the son of 


Abu'l-Hasan Ali, and consequently grandson of Mu- 
hanuned el-Ikshid, succeeded Kafur. 

The prince was only eleven years old, and therefore 
incapable of properly controlling Egypt, Syria, and his 
other domains. Husain, one of his relatives, invaded 
Syria, but in his turn driven back by the Karmates, 
returned to Egypt and strove to depose Ahmed. These 
divisions in the reigning family severed the ties which 
imited the provinces of the Egyptian kingdom. To ter- 
minate the disturbances, the emirs resolved to seek the 
protection of the Fatimites. The latter, anxious to secure 
the long-coveted prize, gladly rendered assistance, and 
Husain was forced to return to Syria, where he took 
possession of Damascus, and the unfortunate Ahmed lost 
the throne of Egypt. 

With him perished the Ikshid dynasty, which, more 
ephemeral even than that of the Tulunid, flourished only 
thirty-four years and twenty-four days. 

The period upon which this history is now about to 
enter is of more than usual interest, for it leads immedi- 
ately to the centuries during which the Arabic forces 
came into contact with the forces of Western Europe. 
The town and the coast of Mauritania were then ruled 
by the Fatimites, a dynasty independent of the Abbasid 
caliphs of Baghdad. The Fatimites belonged to the 
tribes of Koramah, who dwelt in the mountains situated 
near the town of Fez in the extreme west of Africa. 
In the year 269 of the Hegira, they began to extend their 
sway in the western regions of Africa, pursuing their 
conquests farther east. The Fatimite caliph Obaid Allah 


and Ms son Abu'l Kasim cherished designs not only upon 
Egypt, but even aimed at the destruction of the Abbasid 
caliphate, these plans being so far successful as to leave 
the Patimites in secure possession of Alexandria, and 
more or less in power in Fayum. 

The Fatimite caliphs had lofty and pretentious claims 
to the allegiance of the Moslem world. They traced their 
descent from Fatima, a daughter of the Prophet, whom 
Muhanuned himself regarded as one of the four perfect 
women. At the age of fifteen she married Ali, of whom 
she was the only wife, and the partisans of Ali, as we 
have seen, disputed with Omar the right to the leader- 
ship of Islam upon the Prophet's death. Critics are not 
wanting who dispute the family origin of Obaid Allah, 
but his claim appears to have been unhesitatingly ad- 
mitted by his own immediate followers. The Fatimite 
successes in the Mediterranean gave them a substantial 
basis of political power, and doubtless this outward and 
material success was more important to them than their 
claim to both a physical and mythical descent from the 
founder of their religion. 

Some accounts trace the descent of Obaid from Abd 
Allah ibn Maimun el-Kaddah, the founder of the Ismail- 
ian sect, of which the Carmathians were a branch. The 
IsmaUians may be best regarded as one of the several 
sects of Shiites, who originally were simply the parti- 
sans of Ali against Omar, but by degrees they became 
identified as the upholders of the Koran against the 
validity of the oral tradition, and when, later, the whole 
of Persia espoused the cause of Ali, the Shiite belief 


became tinged with all kinds of mysticism. The Ismail- 
ians believed, for instance, in the coming of a Messiah, 
to whom they gave the name Mahdi, and who would one 
day appear on earth to establish the reign of justice, 
and revenge the wrongs done to the family of Ali. The 
Ismailians regarded Obaid himself as the Mahdi, and 
they also believed in incarnations of the " universal 
soul," which in former ages had appeared as the He- 
brew Prophets, but which to the Muhammedan mani- 
fested itself as imans. The iman is properly the leader 
of public worship, but it is not so much an office as a 
seership with mystical attributes. The Muhammedan 
imans so far have numbered eleven, the twelfth, and 
greatest (El-Mahdi), being yet to come. The Ismailians 
also introduced mysticism into the interpretation of the 
Koran, and even taught that its moral precepts were 
not to be taken in a literal sense. Thus the Fatimite 
caKphs founded their authority upon a combination of 
political power and superstition, 

Abu'l Kasim, who ruled at Alexandria, was suc- 
ceeded in 945 by his son, El-Mansur. Under his reign 
the Fatimites were attacked by Abu Yazid, a Berber, 
who gathered around him the Sunnites, and the revo- 
lutionaries succeeded in taking the Fatimite capital 
Kairwan. El-Mansur, however, soon defeated Abu Yazid 
in a decisive battle and rebuilt a new city, Mansuria, 
on the site of the modem Cairo, to commemorate the 
event. Dying in 953, he was succeeded by Muiz ad-Din. 

Muiz came to the throne just at the time when dissen- 
sions as to the succession were undermining the Ikshid 


dynasty. Seizing the opportunity in the year 969, Muiz 
equipped a large and well-armed force, with a formidable 
body of cavalry, the whole under the command of Abu'l- 
Husain Gohar el-Kaid, a native of Greece and a slave 
of his father El-Mansur. This general, on his arrival 
near Alexandria, received a deputation from the inhab- 
itants of Postat charged to negotiate a treaty. Their 
overtures were favourably entertained, and the conquest 
of the coimtry seemed probable without bloodshed. But 
while the conditions were being ratified, the Ikshidites 
prevailed on the people to revoke their offer, and the 
ambassadors, on their return, were themselves compelled 
to seek safety in flight. 

Gohar el-Kaid incurred no delay in pushing his troops 
forward. He forced the passage of the Nile a few miles 
south of El-Gizeh at the head of his troops, and the 
Ikshidites suffered a disastrous defeat. To the honour 
of the African general, it is related that the inhabitants 
of Postat were pardoned and the city was peaceably 
occupied. The submission of the rest of Egypt to Muiz 
was secured by this victory. In the year 359 a. h. Syria 
was also added to his domains, but shortly after was 
overrun by the Carmathians. The troops of Muiz met 
with several reverses, Damascus was taken, and those 
lawless freebooters, joined by the Ikshidites, advanced 
to Ain Shems. In the meanwhile, Gohar had fortified 
Cairo (the new capital which he had founded immedi- 
ately north of Fostat) and taken every precaution to 
repel the invaders; a bloody battle was fought in the 
year 361 before the city walls, without any decisive re- 


suit. Later, however, Gohar obtained a victory over the 
enemy which proved to be a decisive one. 

Muiz subsequently removed his court to his new 
kingdom. In Ramadhan 362, he entered Cairo, bringing 
with him the bodies of his three predecessors and vast 
treasure. Muiz reigned about two years in Egypt, dying 
in the year 365 a. h. He is described as a warlike and 
ambitious prince, but, notwithstanding, he was especially 
distinguished for justice and was fond of learning. He 
showed great favour to the Christians, especially to 
Severus, Bishop of El-Ashmunein, and the patriarch 
Ephrem; and under his orders, and with his assistance, 
the church of the Mu'aUakah, in Old Misr, was rebuilt. 
He executed many useful works (among others render- 
ing navigable the Tanitic branch of the Nile, which is 
still called the canal of Muiz), and occupied himself in 
embellishing Cairo. Gohar, when he foimded that city, 
built the great mosque named El-Azhar, the university 
of Egypt, which to this day is crowded with students 
from all parts of the Moslem world. 

Aziz Abu-Mansur Nizar, on coming to the throne of 
his father, immediately despatched an expedition against 
the Turkish chief El-Eftekeen, who had taken Damascus 
a short time previously. Gohar again commanded the 
army, and pressed the siege of that city so vigorously 
that the enemy called to their aid the Carmathians. 
Before this united army he was forced to retire slowly 
to Ascalon, where he prepared to stand a siege; but, 
being reduced to great straits, he purchased his liberty 
with a large sum of money. On his return from thi« 


disastrous campaign, Aziz took command in person, and, 
meeting the enemy at Ramleli, was victorious after a 
bloody battle; while El-Eftekeen, being betrayed into 
his hands, was with Arab magnanimity received with 
honour and confidence, and ended his days in Egypt in 
affluence. Aziz followed his father's example of lib- 
erality. It is even said that he appointed a Jew his 
vizier in Syria, and a Christian to the same post in Egypt. 
These acts, however, nearly cost him his life, and a pop- 
ular tumult obliged him to disgrace both these officers. 
After a reign of twenty-one years of great internal pros- 
perity, he died (a. h. 386) in a bath at BUbeis, while 
preparing an expedition against the Greeks who were 
ravaging his possessions in Syria. Aziz was distin- 
guished for moderation and mildness, but his son and 
successor rendered himself notorious for very opposite 

Hakim Abu Ali Mansur commenced his reign, ac- 
cording to Moslem historians, with much wisdom, but 
afterwards acquired a reputation for impiety, cruelty, 
and unreasoning extravagance, by which he has been 
rendered odious to posterity. He is said to have had 
at the same time " courage and boldness, cowardice 
and timorousness, a love for learning and vindictiveness 
towards the learned, an inclination to righteousness and 
a disposition to slay the righteous." He also arro- 
gated to himself divinity, and commanded his subjects 
to rise at the mention of his name in the congregational 
prayers, an edict which was obeyed even in the holy 
cities, Mecca and Medina. He is most famous in con- 



nection with the Druses, a sect which he founded and 
which still holds him in veneration and believes in his 
future return to the earth. He had made himself ob- 
noxious to aU classes of his subjects when, in the year 
397 A. H., he nearly lost his throne by foreign invasion. 


Hisham, surnamed Abu-Rekweh, a descendant of the 
house of Ommaya in Spain, took the province of Barca 
with a considerable force and subdued Upper Egypt. 
The caliph, aware of his danger, immediately collected 
his troops from every quarter of the kingdom, and 
marched against the invaders, whom, after severe fighting, 


he defeated and put to flight. Hisham himself was 
taken prisoner, paraded in Cairo with every aggravation 
of cruelty, and put to death. Hakim having thus by 
vigorous measures averted this danger, Egypt continued 
to groan under his tyranny until the year 411 a. h., when 
he fell by domestic treachery. His sister Sitt el- 
Mulk had, in common with the rest of his subjects, 
incurred his displeasure; and, being fearful for her life, 
she secretly and by night concerted measures with the 
emir Saif ed-Dowlah, chief of the guard, who very read- 
ily agreed to her plans. Ten slaves, bribed by five hun- 
dred dinars each ($1,260), having received their instruc- 
tions, went forth on the appointed day to the desert tract 
southward of Cairo, where Hakim, unattended, was in 
the habit of riding, and waylaid him near the village 
of Helwan, where they put him to death. 

Within a week Hakim's son Ali had been raised to 
the caliphate with the title of Dhahir, at the command 
of Sitt el-Mulk. As Dhahir was only eighteen years 
old, and in no way educated for the government, Sitt 
el-Mulk took the reins of government, and was soon 
looked upon as the instigator of Hakim's death. This 
suspicion was strengthened by the fact that his sister 
had the heir to the throne— who was at that time gov- 
ernor of Aleppo— murdered, and also the chief who had 
conspired with her in assassinating Hakim. She sur- 
vived her brother for about four years, but the actual 
ruler was the Vizier Ali el- Jar jar. 

Dhahir 's reign offers many points of interest. Peace 
and contentment reigned in the interior, and Syria 


continued to be tlie chief point of interest to the Egyptian 
politics. Both Lulu and his son Mansur, who received 
princely titles from Hakim, recognised the suzerainty of 
the Fatimites. Later on a disagreement arose between 
Lulu's son and Dhahir. One of the former's slaves con- 
spired against his master, and gave Aleppo into the 
hands of the Fatimites, whose governor maintained him- 
self there till 1023. In this year, however, Aleppo fell 
into the power of the Benu Kilab, who defended the town 
with great success against Romanus in 1030. Not till 
Dhahir 's successor came to the throne in 1036 was Aleppo 
reconquered by the Fatimites, but only to faU, after a 
few years, again into the hands of a Kilabite, whom 
the caliph was obliged to acknowledge as governor until 
he of his own free will exchanged the city for several 
other towns in Syria; but even then the strife about the 
possession of Aleppo was not yet at an end. 

Mustanssir ascended the throne at the age of four 
years. His mother, although black and once a slave, had 
great influence in the choice of the viziers and other 
officials, and even when the caliph became of age, he 
showed very few signs of independence. His reign, 
which lasted sixty years, offers a constant alternation of 
success and defeat. At one time his dominion was lim- 
ited to the capital Cairo, at another time he was recog- 
nised as lord of Africa, Sicily, Arabia, Mesopotamia, 
and even of the Abbassid capital, Baghdad. A few days 
later his dominion was again on the point of being ex- 
tinguished. The min-der of a Turk by the negroes led 
to a war between the Turkish mercenaries and the blacks 


who formed the caliph's body-guard. The latter were 
joined by many of the other slaves, but the Turks were 
supported by the Ketama Berbers and some of the Bed- 
ouin tribes, and also the Hamdanite Nasir ed-Dowlah, 
who had long been in the Egyptian service. The blacks, 
although supported by the caliph's mother, were com- 
pletely defeated, and the caliph was forced to acknowl- 
edge the authority of Nasir ed-Dowlah. He thereupon 
threatened to abdicate, but when he learned that his 
palace with all its treasures would then be given up to 
plimder, he refrained from fulfilling his threat. The 
power of the Hamdanites and the Turks increased with 
every victory over the negroes, who finally could no 
longer maintain themselves at all in Upper Egypt. The 
caliph was treated with contempt, and had to give up 
his numerous treasures, one by one, to satisfy the avarice 
of his troops. Even the graves of his ancestors were 
at last robbed of all they contained, and when, at last, 
everything had been ransacked, even his library, which 
was one of the largest and finest, was not spared. The 
best manuscripts were dispersed, some went to Africa, 
others were destroyed, many were damaged or purposely 
mutilated by the Sunnites, simply because they had been 
written by the Shiites; still others were burnt by the 
Turks as worthless material, and the leather bands which 
held them made into sandals. 

Meanwhile war between Mustanssir and Nasir ed- 
Dowlah continued to be waged in Egypt and Syria, until 
at last the latter became master of Cairo and deprived 
the caliph once more completely of his independence. 



Soon after, a conspiracy with Udeghiz, a Turkish gen- 
eral, at its head, was formed against Nasir ed-Dowlah, 
and he, together with his relations and followers, was 
brutally murdered. Udeghiz behaved in the same way 
as his predecessor had done towards the caliph, and the 
latter appealed to Bedr el-Jemali for help. Bedr pro- 
ceeded to Acre with his best Syrian troops, landed in 
the neighbourhood of Damietta and proceeded towards 
the capital, which he entered without difficulty (January, 
1075). He was appointed general and first vizier, so 
that he now held both the highest military and civil 

In order to strengthen his position, he had all the 
commanders of the troops and the highest officials mur- 
dered at a ball. Under his rule, peace and order were 
at last restored to Egypt, and the income of the state 
was increased under his excellent government. 

Bedr remained at his post till his death, and his son 
El-Af dhal was appointed by Mustanssir to succeed him. 
Upon the death of Mustanssir (1094), his successor 
El-Mustali Abu'l Kasim retained El-Af dhal in office. 
He was afterwards murdered under Emir (Decem- 
ber, 1121) because, according to some, he was not 
a zealous enough Shiite, but, according to others, be- 
cause the caliph wished to gain possession of the enor- 
mous treasures of the vizier and to be absolutely inde- 
pendent. Emir was also murdered (October 1, 1130), 
and was succeeded by his cousin, who ascended the 
throne under the name of Hafiz, and appointed a son of 
El-Afdhal as vizier, who, just as his father had done, 


soon became tlie real ruler, and did not even allow the 
caliph's name to be mentioned in the prayers; where- 
upon he also was murdered at the caliph's instigation. 
After other viziers had met with a similar fate, and 
amongst them a son of the caliph himself, at last Hafiz 
ruled alone. His son and successor, Dhafir (1149—1150), 
also frequently changed his viziers because they one 
and all wished to obtain too much influence. The last 
vizier, Abbas, murdered the caliph (March— April, 1154), 
and placed El-Faiz, the five-year-old son of the dead 
caliph, on the throne, but the chUd died in his eleventh 
year (July, 1160). Salih, then vizier, raised Adid, a de- 
scendant of Alhagiz, to the caliphate and gave him his 
daughter to wife, for which reason he was murdered at 
the desire of the harem. His son Adil maintained him- 
self for a short time, and then El-Dhargham and Shawir 
fought for the post; as the former gained the victory, 
Shawir fled to Syria, called Nureddin to his aid, and 
their army, under Shirkuh and Saladin, put an end in 
1171 to the rule of the Fatimites. 



JElius Gallus, 11 

^milianus, 156, 157 

Abbasids, 343 

Abd AUah ibn Abd el-Malik, 337 

Abd el-Aziz ibn Merwan, 334-337 

Abd el-Malik, calipb, 334 

Abrasax, 105 

Abu Bekr Muhammad, 363 

Abu'l Abbas, caliph, 343, 344 

Abu Jafar (El-Mansur) caliph, 345 

Abu'l-Hasan Ali, caliph, 371 

Abu'l Kasim, caliph, 374, 375 

Abu'l Easim Muhammed Ungur, caliph, 

Abydos, 13 
Abyssinia, 212 
Adule, 304 
^tius, 287 
Agrippa, 32, 34 

Ahmed Abu'l Fawaria, caliph, 372, 373 
Ahmed ibn Tulun (Abu'l Abbas) 354, 

Ahmed Mustain, caliph, 357 
Alchemy, 49, 172 
Alexander the Great, 7, 144 
Alexander, Emperor of Rome, 147 
Alexandria, Description of, 12, 13, 85-87, 
156, 158 

Philosophers of, 69-71 

Centre of learning, 119-122, 190-192, 

Caracalla punishes, 144, 145 

Decline, 198, 201, 244-246, 255, 268, 
277, 317 
Algebra, 251 
Ali, 324, 325 
Alphabet, 133, 134 
Alypius, 200 

AmenhSthes, Statue, 14, 99, 128 
Ammon, Oracle of, 70 
Ammonius Saccas, 148-150 
Amon-Ra, 131 
Amr, 325-334 
Anastasius, Emperor, 288-293 

Androclus, 38 

Animal worship, 77, 91, 220, 229 
Annianus (Annaniah), 61 
Anthracite, 50 
Antinous, 93, 94, 108 
Antioch, 201, 202, 293, 294 
Anthropomorphites, 253 
Antoninus Pius, 109 
Antony, Saint, 216, 217 
Apion, 38 
Apis, 92 

Apis bull, 8, 25, 75, 90 
Apolaustiis, 126 
Apollinarius, Bishop, 314, 315 
Apollonius Dyscolus, 98 
ApoUonins of Tyana, 70-72, 176 
ApoUos, 8 
Appeals, 312 
Appian, 98 
Arabia, 87 

Arabs, Enter Egypt, 14-17, 62 
Persecute Monks, 266, 267 
Muhammedanism among, 321, 322 
Conquer Egypt, 825-331 
Contest with Turks, 352 
Arcadius, Emperor, 252 
Architecture, 75, 76 
Arethas, 296 

Arianism, 178, 179, 195, 260, 276 
Arius, 122, 176, 178 
Army, Roman in Egypt, 273, 274, 300, 

Arrian, 114, 115 
Asceticism, 215 
Asclepiades, 126 
Assama ibn Yazid, 338, 339 
Astrolabe, 256 
Astrology, 105, 112, 113 
Astronomical well, 14 
Astronomy, 110, 251 
Athanasius, Opposes Arius, 196, 197 

Made bishop, 197, 205, 227, 232 

Deposed, 202-204, 210, 228 

Rebels, 208-210, 227, 234 

Fame of, 234, 235, 260 


Athenseus, 121 

Athenagoras of Athens, 108 

Athenodorus (Vaballathus), 161, 162 

Augustus, 3, 5, 18, 21 

Augustalian Cohort, 308 

Aurelian, 162-167 

Auxum, 212 

Avidius Cassius, 118 

Aziz Abu-Mansur Nizar, caliph, 377, 378 


Babylon, Fortress, 260 

Balbilius, 56, 58 

Baptism, 294 

Basilianus, 146, 147 

Basilides, 72, 73 

Beer, 51 

Benjamin, patriarch, 331, 332 

Bible, Editions of, 183 

Copies of, 184 

Versions of, 185, 213 

Manuscripts of, 265, 320 
Birket el Kurun, 52 
Bisti, Temple, 220 

Blemmyes, invade Egypt, 62, 168, 263, 

Diocletian treats with, 170, 171 
Bookmaking, 120, 121 
Books, 291, 292 
Brass money, 143, 166 
Britain, 311 


Caesar, Julius, 6 

Calendar, 110 

Calicut, 45 

Caligula, 32-36 

Cambyses, 93 

Canals, 11, 88, 89 

Candace, 15-17 

Canopic jars, 127 

Canopus, 127 

Caracalla, visits Egypt, 143 

Vengeance on Alexandria, 144-146 
Chseremon, 59 
Charity, 268 
Chemistry, 49 

Ceylon (Taprobane), 46, 262, 303 
Chosroes, 317-319 
Christianity, brought to Egypt, 60 

Spread of, 61, 62, 90, 106-108, 123, 
124, 131, 149 

Hadrian on, 101 

Persecuted, 141-143, 173-178 

Triumph of, 192, 193, 207 
Christodorus, 290 
Christus Mithras, 181 
Chronology, 251 

Church government, 193, 202, 203 
Church of St. Mary, 166 
Claudian Museum, 42 
Claudius, 40, 41 
Claudius Ptolemy, 113 
Clemens Alexandrinus, 131, 136, 137 
Clemens Bomanus, 124 
Clement, Bishop of Rome, 53 
Cleopatra's Needles, 22 
Cock-fighting, 10 
Code, Roman, 83 

Coins, Egyptian, 17, 30, 31, 42, 58, 68, 
69, 76, 81, 108-112, 117, 125, 137, 
143, 150, 151, 163, 165, 167, 173, 315, 

Roman, 45, 68, 66, 117 

Maltese, 57 
College of Music, 228, 229 
Commodus, 124, 125, 127 
Constans, 201, 202, 204, 206 
Constantius, 201, 202, 205-208 
Constantine the Great, 192 
Constantine II., 201, 202 
Constantinople, 198 
Cornelius Gallus, 10 
Cornwall, 311 
Cosmas, 314 
Cossyra, 57 

Council of Antioch, 203 
Council of Constantinople. 249 
Courts, 83, 331 
Creed, 233 

Crocodile worship, 13, 77 
Crocodilopolis, 13 
Cush. See Ethiopia 
Customs, stability of, 122, 123 
Cybiosactes, 75 
Cynopolis, 77 
Cyril, bishop, 267, 258, 276 


Dakleh, oasis of, 66 

Demotic writing, 134, 135 

Dhahir, caliph, 380, 381 

Diocletian, 170-177 

Dion, 69, 70 

Dion Chrysostom, 86 

Dionysius, bishop, 152, 153, 168 

Dionysius of Miletus, 96 

Dionysius Periegetes, 59, 60 

Dioscorus, 288 

Docetse, 133 

Dodecashoenos, 170 

Dogma, 194 

Dog star, 6, 110 

Domitian, 76, 80 

Domitius Domitianus, 164 

Drama, 292 


Druses, 379 
Dyes, 49 


Earthquake, 312 
Ecclesiastical quarrels, 195-198 
El-Abbas, 360 
Elagabalus, 147 
El-Mahdi, 375 
EI-Mamun, caliph, 350 
El-Mansur. See Abu Jafar 
El-Muntasir ibn el-Mutawakkil, caliph, 

El-Mustali Abu'l Kasim, caliph, 385 
Emerald mines, 49 
Emir Misri, 345 
Enchorial writing, 133 
Epiphany, feast of, 249 
Essenes, 29 
Esimaphseus, 306 
Eusebius, 157, 174, 175 
Eutyches, bishop, 276, 277 
Explorations, 262 
Ethiopia (Cush), 14-17, 49, 66 

Fatimites, 373-375 
Firmus, 163, 164 
Flaccus Avilius, 31, 33-36 
Flax, 266 
Fostat, 327, 328 
Fnunentius, 212 


Galba, 66, 67 

Gallienus, 155, 156 

George of Cappadocia, made bishop, 210 

Cruelty, 211 

Death, 223 

Library, 224 

Canonized, 260 
Germanicus, 25, 26 
Gihon, river, 49 
Glass windows, 163 
Gnosticism, 103-106, 152, 153 
Gold mines, 31 
Gordian, 150 
Gospel according to the Egyptians, 132, 

Government, 270, 273, 274 
Grain trade, 84, 85, 308, 309 
Granaries, 311, 312 
Greek alphabet, 133, 134 
Greek Inythology, 21 
Greek world, changes in, 187-192 
Gregentius, 306 
Gregory XIII., Pope, 6 
Gregory, Bishop, 203, 204 


Hadrian visits Egypt, 90 

Ascends Nile, 91-94 

Opinion of Christians, 101 
Hagia Chem, 57 
Hair-dressing, 123, 224 
Hakim Abu All Mansur, caliph, 378-360 
Handhala, 341, 342 
Handwriting, 120 
Harpocrates, 79 
Harun abu Jafal el-Wathik b'lUah, 

caliph, 354 
Harun er-Rashid, caliph, 346, 347 
Hathor, 77 
Hecate. See Isis 
Hegira, 321, 324 
Heliopolis, 13, 93 
Henoticon, 284, 285 
Heraclius, Emperor, 317-321 
Heresies, 180-183 
Hermes Trismegistus, 131 
Herod, 7 

Herodes, 162, 163 
Hesychius, Bishop, 183-185 
Hexumitae, 212-214, 303-305 
Hierachas, 183 
Hieratic writing, 134, 135 
Hierocles, 175, 176, 286, 287 
Hieroglyphics, 25, 52, 59, 117, 128, 133- 

Hippodrome, 116 

Hisham (Abu'l Walid) caliph, 341-343 
Homeric poets, 122 

Homeritae, 212, 213, 295, 296, 303-305 
Homoousian doctrine, 196 
Horse-racing, 241 
Horus, 79, 109 
Horus-Ra, 106 
Hypatia, 259, 260 

Illuminations, 291, 292 

India, 43-45 

Informers, 41 

Ink, 49 

Inscriptions, 8, 18, 22, 23, 66, 67, 116, 

172, 267, 280, 304, 307 
Isis (Hecate), 21, 77, 79, 80, 97, 109, 110, 

146, 220 
Itinerary of Antoninus, 113, 114 

Jacobites, 297-299 
Jahveh, 26, 73, 106 
Jerome, 219 
Jesus, 105, 137 
Jews, privileges, 8, 81 


In Ethiopia, 17 

In Alexandria, 26-30, 40, 54 

Persecuted, 32-37, 73, 74, 258 

Rebellion of, 89, 90 

Hadrian on, 99-101 
John, bishop, 317-319 
John Chrysostom, 261 
John the Grammarian, 326 
Josephus, 56, 73, 74 
Jovian, Emperor, 232 
Julian, 222-232 
Julianus, 290 
Julian year, 6 
Julius Fermicus, 219 
Julius Pollux, 122 
Justin I., 293-296 
Justin II., 316 
Justin, 106, 107 
Justinian, Emperor, 296 
Juvenal, 76 


Kafur el-Ikshid, caliph, 369-372 
Khumarawath, caliph, 361, 362 
Kneph, temple of, 75, 76 
Kopts, 14, 117, 133, 173, 206, 264, 334 
Koran, 325 


Language, Egypt, 17, 133-136 
Latopolis, temple, 52 
Laws, 41, 83, 141, 228, 268, 308 
Leo, Emperor, 281, 282 
Leonides of Alexandria, 59 
Library, Alexandrian, 59, 119, 126, 231, 
245, 325-327 

Rome, 81 

Of George of Cappadocia, 224 ; 

Of Mustanssir, 382 
Licinius, 185, 186 
Lighthouse, 293 
Linen, 249 
Liturgy, 166, 299 
Louginus, 148 
Lotos, 97 
Lucian, 122 


Macrianus, 155, 166 
Macrinus, 146 
Magi, 103 
Magic, 70, 71 
Magistrates, costume, 5 
Mahdi, the, 375 
Malta, 56, 57 
Mangalore. See Muziris 
Mani, 180, 182 
Manicheism, 78, 79, 179-183 
Manuscripts, 266, 266 
Marcus Aurelius, 117-119 

Mark Antony, 2, 126 

Mark, the Evangelist, 60, 61 

Mauricius, Emperor, 316 

Mauritania, 373 

Maximin, 177 

Medicine, 287 

Medinet-Abu, 261 

Melchites, 299 

Meletius, 178, 206 

Memnon, statue, 99, 100 

Memphis, 13, 92 

Merwan II., caliph, 344 

Minerals, 50 

Mining, 31, 49 

Miracles, 70, 72 

Mithra, v^orship of, 179 

Mnevis, 93 

Moeris, lake of, 13, 51, 52 

Monasteries, 236, 236, 239, 240, 263, 264, 

301, 302 
Monastlcism, 28-30, 214-218 
Monks, 263, 263-267, 321, 336, 338 
Mosque, 332, 333, 359 
Muatadid, caliph, 362 
Muavria I., caliph, 334 
Muhammed, 323, 324 
Muhammed el-Ikhshid, 364-369 
Muhammed el-Mahdi, caliph, 346 
Muhammed el-Mutasim b'lUah (Mutam- 

ma), 350-362 
Muhammed ibn Idris (Esh-Shafl) 349 
Muiz ad-Din, caliph, 376-377 
Mummies, 248, 264 
Museum, 126 
Musa el-Hadi, 347 
Musa ibn Isa, 348 
Music, 200 
Musical statue, 128 
Music, college of, 228 
Mustanssir, caliph, 381-385 
Mutamma. See Muhammed el-Mutasim 
Mutawakkil, caliph, 365, 357 
Muttaki, caliph, 365, 366 
Muziris (Mangalore) 44 
Mysticism, 137, 153, 193 

Napata, 16 
Naphtha, 49 

Nasir ed'Dowlah, 382, 385 
Nero, 53 
Nerva, 81 

Nestorius, bishop, 263 
New Year's day, 6, 6 
Nicopolis, 9 

Nile, overflow, 5, 84, 111, 117, 200, 260, 

Source, 49 

Worship, 200 220 ; 60, 91, 256, 291 
Nilometer, 11, 339, 357 


Nilus, a monk, 267 
Nonnosus, 304, 305 
Nobatse (Nubades), 170, 278, 279 
Nubia, 170, 279, 280 


Oasis, Great, 269, 270 

Obaid Allah, caliph, 373-375 

Obelisks, 10, 22, 93, 199, 308 

Odenathus of Palmyra, 154-156 

Olympiodorus, 269, 270 

Olympius, 246 

Omar, 326 

Omar II., caliph, 340 

Ombos, 76, 77 

Ommayad dynasty, 334, 343 

Onion, temple, 74 

Oracle of Ammon, 70 

Oracle of BSsfl, 220 

Orestes, 258, 259 

Orientalism, 190-192 

Origen, 123, 142, 148, 149, 253 

Osiris, 21, 79, 220 

Otho, 68 

Oxyrrhynohos, 77, 217 

Fachomius, 236 

Paganism, decline of, 229, 243, 269, 270, 

Persecution, 246-249 
Paintings, 292 

Palladius of Galatia, 261, 262 
Palmyra, 160 
Famphila, 59 
Pan, temple, 12 
Pancrates, 97 
Panopolis, 88 
Pantsenus, 135, 136 
Paper, 266 

Papyrus, 119, 120, 265, 266 
Papyrus boats, 46 
Farabalani, 268 
Parchment, 119, 120, 266 
Passports, 340 
Pastophori, 129 
Patronage, 221, 222 
Paul, the Apostle, 56 
Paul of Tela, 320 
Pergamus, library of, 126 
Peripatetics, 269 

Persia, 150, 289, 293, 301, 317-321 
Persecution, of Jews, 32-37, 73, 74, 258 

Christians, 142, 151-153, 158, 173-176, 
223, 224 

Pagans, 246-249 
Pertinax, 137 

Pescennius Niger, 137, 138 
Peter Mongus, 286 

Peter, St., 264 

Petra, 88, 301 

Petronius, 11 

Pharos, 293 

Philo, 36, 37, 61 

Philoromus, 176 

Philosophy, 188-192 

Phocas, Emperor, 316 

Phcenix, fable of, 52, 53, 110, 117, 219 

Phtah, 92, 93 

Physicians, 83, 267, 268 

Plague, 154 

Plato, 13 

Platonists, 148 

Pliny, 42-45 

Plotina, 88, 151 

Plutarch, 78 

Poetry, 121, 122 

Polemon of Loadicea, 97 

Poll-tax, 258 

Pompey's Pillar, 171, 172, 232 

Pope, origin of title, 149 

Priests, 129-132 

Probus, 165, 167-169 

Proclus, 270 

Prophecy, 252 

Provinces, 273, 275, 328 

Ptolemaic system, 113 

Ftolemais, 13, 14 

Ptolemies, end of, 39 


Ra, 93 

Rahdi, caliph, 363-365 

Eameseum, 95, 96 

Ramses, 15, 25 

Ramses II., 93, 264 

Religion, 18, 21, 78-80, 103, 122, 128- 

132, 188, 189, 276, 277 
Resurrection of dead, 21, 248 
Revenues, 298, 358 
Rings, 80, 338 
Roads, 113, 114 
Rome, 80, 84, 275 

Sacred well, 125 
Saraceni, 242 
Saracens, 242 
Saturninus, 168, 169 
Savak, 77 
Scarabseus, 106 
Schools, 176, 313 
Sculpture, 127, 128, 247 
Sebaste, temple, 22 
Serapis, 12, 21, 72, 80, 101, 102, 126, 144, 

230, 232, 244, 245 
Serapion, 176, 239 
Serapium, 126 
Severina, 167 


Severus, 141 

Shafltes, 349 

Shiites, 325, 374 

Ships, 55 

Shomenuthi, 130 

Sicarii, 54, 74 

Silver, value of, 143 

Sitt el-Mulk, 380 

Sopator, 200, 201 

Sothic period, 109 

Statues, 99, 171, 172, 244, 245 

Strabo, 11-14 

Sugar, 115, 116 

Suleiman, caliph, 337-340 

Sunnites, 325 

Superstitions, 94, 220, 221, 288, 300 

Surveying, 6 

Synesius, 255, 256 

Syrianus, 208-210, 269 

Tabenna, 236 

Tabernacles, feast of, 35 

Taposiris, 311 

Taprobane. See Ceylon. 

Taxation, 18, 41, 46, 67, 241, 242, 258, 

274, 309, 328, 336, 338, 340, 345 
Temple, of Serapis, 12, 126, 127, 230- 
232, 245 

Sebaste, 22 

Tentyra, 23 

Malta, 57 

Dakleh, 65, 66 

Jerusalem, 73 

Palmyra, 160 

Kneph, 247 

Isis, 280 
Tentyra, 23, 76, 77 
Tertullian, 142 

Testament, New, 132, 264, 265, 320 
Testament, Old, 183-185 
Tiberius, 22, 23, 26 
Tiberius, Julius Alexander, 66 
Titus, 65, 75 
Thebaid, 125 
Thebes, 13, 14, 95 
Theodosius, 243-252 
Theodosius II., Emperor, 256-275 
Theology, 153, 194, 233 
Theophilus, bishop, 244, 246, 252-254 
Theophilus, 212, 213 
Therapeutse, 27, 28, 61 
Thomas, bishop, 320 

Thot, 129 

Thdtmosis III., 110 
Tiberius, 316 

Timotheus ^lurus, 282, 283 
Tombs, 92, 96 
Tonsure, 249 

Trade, with India, 18, 43, 45, 46, 85, 115, 
302 303 

With Rome, 18, 85, 298, 310 

With Arabia, 116 

With Britain, 311 
Trajan, 82 

Treasure of Alexandria, 9 
Tribute, 166, 308, 309 
Trinity, doctrine of, 37, 79 
Troglodytae, 14, 17 
Tulun, 363, 364 
Turks, 352 
Typhon, 27 

Urbib, 290 
Usirtasen I., 93 

Vaballathus. See Athenodorus 
Valens, 234 
Valentinian, 234 
Valerian, 155 
Ventriloquism, 71 
Vespasian, 65, 68-76 
Vitellius, 68 

Vocal statue at Thebes, 99 
Voyages, 43, 44, 55, 56, 311 


Walid I., caliph, 337 
Walid II., caliph, 343 
Window-glass, 163 
Wines, 50, 61 
Writing, 120, 133-136 

Yazid II., caliph, 340 
Year, Egyptian, 6, 6 
Julian, 6 


Zeno, Emperor, 282-284 
Zenobia, 159-162 
Zoega, 173