Page images

Relief with figures of Ptolemy II, Philadelphus, and Queen Arsinoë, about B.C. 260.

[Southern Egyptian Gallery, Bay 25, No. 953.]

in the Fayyûm, and built the famous Pharos, or lighthouse, at Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the world. In his reign the priest Manetho wrote a History of Egypt, of which only the King List is extant, and the famous Greek version of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint, was compiled. He added largely to the Alexandrian Library, which is said at that time to have contained 400,000 works. For stelae, sculptured with reliefs in which Ptolemy II and Queen Arsinoë are represented making offerings to the

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Stele sculptured with a scene representing Ptolemy II, Philadelphus,

making offerings to Åmsu, or Menu, Uatchet, etc., about 1.c. 260. (Southern Egyptian Gallery, Bay 25, No. 954.)

gods, see Bay 25, Nos. 953-955 (see Plate XLVIII); a portion of a royal edict is in Bay 28, No. 956.

Ptolemy III, Euergetes I, B.C. 246, conquered the greater portion of Western Asia. He was a patron of the arts nd learning, and he repaired and rebuilt many of the ancient temples, To commemorate his victories and the benefits

which he conferred on Egypt, the priesthood assembled at Canopus in the ninth year of his reign, and passed a Decree conferring special honours on the king and his queen Berenice. It was ordered that the Decree be cut in the Greek and Egyptian languages on stelae to be set up in the most prominent places in temples of the first, second, and third class throughout Egypt, in order that ali men might read of the king's bounty. The Egyptian version was inscribed in two kinds of writing, viz., in hieroglyphics and in demotic. The Decree also ordered that one day be added to the calendar every fourth year, thus anticipating the leap-year of modern times. For a cast of the Decree of Canopus see Bay 28, No. 957. Ptolemy III began to build the temple of Edfù (see Plate XLIX), B.C. 237, which was finished by Ptolemy XI, B.C. 57. Objects inscribed with his name are not common. (For a gold ring which was made in his reign see Table-case J, Fourth Egyptian Room.)

Ptolemy IV, Philopator I, B.C. 222 or 221, added a hall to the temple which the Nubian king, Ergamenes, built at Dakkah, and dedicated a temple to Homer. He defeated Antiochus the Great at the Battle of Raphia, but did nothing further to break his power. He organized elephant hunts in the Sûdân, and transported the animals by sea to Egypt for military purposes; a Greek inscription set up by Alexandros, general of the elephant hunts of Ptolemy IV, is in Bay 26, No. 958.

Ptolemy V, Epiphanes, B.C. 205, was a great benefactor of the temples of Egypt; and to mark their gratitude to him the priests of all Egypt met in solemn assembly at Memphis in the ninth year of his reign, and passed a Decree ordering that increased honours be paid to the king and his ancestors, that a statue of him be set up in each of the temples, and that a copy of the Decree, inscribed upon a stone stele, in hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek writing, be likewise set up in each temple of the first, second, and third class throughout Egypt. This Decree was duly carried out, for portions of three or four stelae, inscribed with the text of it, have been discovered. Most important of all is the stele which was found by M. Boussard in 1798, which, because it was dug up near Rosetta, is commonly known as the Rosetta Stone (see No. 960, Southern Egyptian Gallery). A special interest attaches to this monument, for from it Thomas Young, in 1816-1818, deduced the values of several letters of the Egyptian alphabet, and succeeded in reading the name of Ptolemy. Next with the help of this text and of an obelisk from Philae, the



View of the Temple of Edfû, taken from the top of the pylon. The temple was begun B.C. 237 and finished B.C. 57,

and its construction occupied 180 years, 3 months, and 14 days.

« PreviousContinue »