The Library of History

Page 34

Page 34 A long time after him, one Sabach an Ethiopian came to the Throne, going beyond all his Predecessors in his Worship of the Gods, and kindness to his Subjects. Any Man may judge and have a clear Evidence of his gentle Disposition in this, that when the Laws pronounc'd the severest Judgment (I mean Sentence of Death) he chang'd the Punishment, and made an Edict that the Condemn'd Persons should be kept to work in the Towns in Chains, by whose Labour he rais'd many Mounts, and made many Commodious Canals; conceiving by this means he should not only moderate the severity of the Punishment, but instead of that which was unprofitable, advance the publick Good, by the Service and Labours of the Condemn'd. A Man may likewise judge of his extraordinary Piety from his Dream, and his Abdication of the Government; for the Tutelar God of Thebes, seem'd to speak to him in his Sleep, and told him that he could not long reign happily and prosperously in Egypt, except he cut all the Priests in Pieces, when he pass'd through the midst of them with his Guards and Servants; which Advice being often repeated, he at length sent for the Priests from all parts, and told them that if he staid in Egypt any longer, he found that he should displease God, who never at any time before by Dreams or Visions commanded any such thing. And that he would rather be gone and lose his Life, being pure and innocent, than displease God, or injoy the Crown of Egypt, by staining his Life with the horrid Murder of the Innocent. And so at length giving up the Kingdom into the Hands of the People, he return'd into Ethiopia. Upon this there was an Anarchy for the space of Two Years; but the People falling into Tumults and intestine Broyls and Slaughters one of another, Twelve of the chief Nobility of the Kingdom joyn'd in a Solemn Oath, and then calling a Senate at Memphis, and making some Laws for the better directing and cementing of them in mutual peace and fidelity, they took upon them the Regal Power and Authority. After they had govern'd the Kingdom very amicably for the space of Fifteen Years, (according to the Agreement which they had mutually sworn to observe) they apply'd themselves to the building of a Sepulcher, where they might all lye together; that as in their Life-time they had been equal in their Power and Authority, and had always carried it with love and respect one towards another; so after Death (being all bury'd together in one Place) they might continue the Glory of their Names in one and the same Monument. To this end they made it their business to excel all their Predecessors in the greatness of their Works: For near the Lake of Myris in Lybia, they built a Four-square Monument of Polish'd Marble, every square a Furlong in length, for curious Carvings and other pieces of Art, not to be equall'd by any that should come after them. When you are enter'd within the Wall, there's presented a stately Fabrick, supported round with Pillars, Forty on every side: The Roof was of one intire Stone, whereon was curiously carv'd Racks and Mangers for Horses, and other excellent pieces of Workmanship, and painted and adorn'd with divers sorts of Pictures and Images; where likewise were portray'd the Resemblances of the Kings, the Temples, and the Sacrifices in most beautiful Colours. And such was the Cost and Stateliness of this Sepulcher, begun by these Kings, that (if they had not been dethron'd before it was perfected) none ever after could have exceeded them in the state and magnificence of their Works. But after they had reign'd over Egypt Fifteen Years, all of them but one lost their Sovereignty in the manner following.

Psammeticus Saites, one of the Kings, whose Province was upon the Sea Coasts, traffickt with all sorts of Merchants, and especially with the Phenicians and Grecians; by this means inriching his Province, by vending his own Commodities, and the importation of those that came from Greece, he not only grew very wealthy, but gain'd an interest in the Nations and Princes abroad; upon which account he was envy'd by the rest of the Kings, who for that reason made War upon him. Some antient Historians tell a Story, That these Princes were told by the Oracle, That which of them should first pour Wine out of a brazen Viol to the God ador'd at Memphis, should be sole Lord of all Egypt. Whereupon Psammeticus when the Priest brought out of the Temple Twelve Golden Viols, pluckt off his Helmet, and pour'd out a Wine Offering from thence; which when his Collegues took notice of, they forbore putting him to death, but depos'd him, and banish'd him into the Fenns, bordering upon the Sea-Coasts. Whether therefore it were this, or Envy as is said before, that gave Birth to this Dissention and

Bibliotheca Historica

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