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to the Greeks by the name of Rhodopis, literally, the “red faced.”
There was, however, a real Rhodopis, an Ionian woman of infamous celebrity living in the time of the XXVIth dynasty, who had been the favourite of Psammeticus or of Amasis. Many of the tales told of this woman became transferred to the legendary Nitocris, until the evil character of Rhodopis became that of the Egyptian queen, with apparently no better foundation than the chance expression “red faced " occurring in early descriptions of the Queen.
By this transition, Nitocris-Rhodopis becomes the heroine of a Cinderella-like tale, which relates that one day while she was bathing in the river an eagle descended. and, snatching her sandal, flew away with it to Memphis, There the King was holding his court in the open air, when the eagle, passing overhead, dropped the sandal into the King's lap. The monarch picked it up, and so fell in love with the delicacy of its shape, that he sent forth into all the kingdom to search for its owner. At last the messengers arrived at the city of Naucratis, and there found the beautiful woman to whom the sandal belonged. She was taken to the King, who married her, and when she died he caused her to be buried in a great pyramid, i.e., that of Men-kau-Ra.
Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo all note that the Greeks believed this third pyramid to have been “the work of the courtesan Rhodopis.”
Still another tale was founded on the belief that all the tombs and pyramids of Egypt were haunted by the ghosts of those buried in them; probably a survival of the ancient Egyptian belief that the “ka” or “double” of every man revisited his mummied body in the tomb. According to this legend, the uneasy spirit of Queen Rhodopis haunted the place where her body lay. She appeared always as a nude woman of wondrous beauty wandering about the pyramid, where she was seen by many people. It was an unusually bold spirit, and instead of coming at night only, like other ghosts, was to be seen in the blazing light of noon or at sunset. She was bent on destruction, and the unlucky person who saw her fatal smile and approached her was bereft of his senses, and thereafter wandered mad in the desert.
Whether there ever was a beautiful queen of Egypt called Nitocris, whose romantic career and tragic fate gave some foundation to these accounts, has been a debated question. Certain Egyptologists have even held that the name Men-ka-Ra Netaqerti was not that of a queen at all, but of a man who was the last king of the dynasty. No contemporary records of the reign have been found, and the only real evidence of this ruler occurs in the inention of the name Men-ka-Ra Netaqerti in the Abydos table of kings, sculptured some seventeen hundred years after Nitocris is supposed to have reigned, and in the lists of Manetho, composed more than eleven hundred years later. It is reasonable to suppose, however, that both of these lists were founded on earlier records which must have existed in the days of the Egyptian historian as well as at the time of Seti I., under whom the Abydos tablet was sculptured. At present there is no conclusive evidence to prove the existence or non-existence of Queen Nitocris.'
Fragmentary evidences of yet other queens remain who probably lived during this period. Mutilated inscriptions, in which only one syllable can still be read, such as “Per-," " Ankh," etc., testify to other princesses among the vast number of those royal women of Egypt who, whether they played important parts or not in the history of their times, have disappeared from human knowledge, leaving no trace.
A singular absence of monuments of any sort marks the whole of that period which covers the VIIth, VIIIth, IXth, and Xth dynasties. It would seem to have been a
· The subject is fully treated by Hall, Hellenistic Journal, xxiv, 208. time of weak rulers and ineffectual reigns, which in few instances had the vigour to leave an impress on tomb, temple, pyramid, or sculptured stone. Great changes took place in the empire during those unknown years, for whereas the powerful monarchs of the early kingdom had governed the realm from Mena's royal city of Memphis, and reared their monuments in its vicinity, yet when Egypt begins to emerge from the darkness of that unrecorded time, the scene has entirely changed; Memphis has been abandoned, and the feudal lords of Thebes have assumed the crown. From this time on, through the most stirring scenes of its history, Thebes was the capital of the kingdom, and Theban its greatest Pharaohs. More than once the prestige of the lordly city was threatened, but as often it emerged triumphant from temporary eclipse.
The origin of Thebes is lost in antiquity. Diodorus called it the most ancient city in Egypt; other accounts credit Mena himself with its foundation, or make it a colony from Memphis. The mountains here
The mountains here sweep back from the river, and enclose a wide and fertile plain. Thebes lay on both banks of the Nile, and in the records of the time was designated as “The City of the South.” Its god was Amen, and with the rise of the Theban princes to power, their god also increased in importance, until, from being a minor deity, Amen-Ra became the chief god of Egypt.
Monarchs vied with one another in adding to the splendour of their capital: temples and palaces arose on both sides of the river ; obelisks, colossal statues, gardens and long sphinx-bordered avenues, made beautiful the city of Amen. To its sovereigns, Thebes was “the horizon on earth-the eye of the Universal Lord—his heart's throne."'!
The country was divided into nomes or provinces, each one of which was ruled by a prince who held his fief tributary to the Pharaoh, and was bound to aid his sovereign in war. These princes, like the great feudal barons of later
"Karnak, Obelisk of Hatshepsut.
times, occasionally became so powerful as to make and unmake kings, and to wage successful war against the monarch, even to the extent of the usurpation of the double crown by one of their own number. It was thus that some Theban prince at a time anterior to the XIth dynasty, fought his way to the title of “King of the North and South.” This prince was the probable ancestor of the Mentuheteps, a family of kings whose names are prominent at the beginning of the new dynasty.
Theban. About 3000 B.C.
Confused and uncertain as are the records of this time, there still occur among them the names of several queens, some of whom are connected with the known Pharaohs of the age, while others are unplaced. The first of these is
AAM, mother of the king Mentu-hetep II. The history of this monarch is chiefly derived from inscriptions on the rocks of the Wady Hammamet quarries, whither the King sent servants to cut the stone for his sarcophagus. In one of these inscriptions the “Royal Mother Aām” is mentioned The titles with which her name is accompanied suggest that she, like Meri-Ra-ankhnes of the VIth dynasty, may have been queen-regent during the early youth of her son ; also that Men-tu-hetep obtained the crown through her rights.
AĀH, in company with Mentu-hetep III., holds lonely state among the rocks of a valley about four miles from Silsileh in Upper Egypt. This tablet is commemorative of the most important king of the Mentu-hetep line, and represents him as a colossal figure receiving tribute. Behind him stands a queen holding in one hand a staff, and in the
· LEPSIUS, D., ii, 149, f. P.'s H.E., vol. I, 132.
: EISENLOHR, P.S.B.A., 1881, 100 ; P.'s H.E., vol. I, 138 ; P., S., 489.
other a lotus blossom, emblem of royalty. Her legend runs: “The Royal Mother, his beloved Aāh,” which suggests that she may have been a descendant of queens and a royal heiress. She was probably the King's mother, as his queen was AASHAIT, “The Royal Wife-his beloved."
Recent excavations in the Theban hills have brought to light the most ancient temple of Thebes, that of Mentuhetep III. It lies near Hatshepsut's temple at Deir elBahari, and was perhaps the model on which that famous building was planned. In the temple of Mentu-hetep, a curious and unique cemetery was found. The burial vaults surrounded the central platform of the building, and were excavated in the rock from twelve to fifteen feet below the pavement. These tombs had been constructed for several women, all of whom bore the titles, " The Royal Favourite, the only one, the Priestess of Hathor.”
Several of the sarcophagi were intact and beautifully sculptured. The names of these princesses, found on various fragments of their tombs, were Henhenet, Kauit, Sadhe, Kemsit, Nefershushusa, etc., all of whom were priestesses and at the same time attached to the king's harem. Finely sculptured slabs show various attendants making offerings to the souls of these princesses.
The Priestess Sadhe in one scene receives a bowl presented to her with the words—" Beer for thy Ghost.” In each tomb was placed the skeleton of a cow, the animal sacred to the goddess Hathor, whose shrine the royal favourites had served. Other fragments from this temple represent King Mentu-hetep accompanied by his queen, Aashait, whom, from her portrait, the excavators judged to have been a Nubian.
The tombs of other queens of this age are perhaps to be found in the neighbourhood of Mentu-hetep's temple, as, for instance, that of a queen,
1 MM. NAVILLE and HALL.