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Uarda (Chapter47)

2006-08-22 23:24

  Volume 10. Chapter XLVII.

  The king had left the camp, and had settled in the neighboring city of Rameses' Tanis, with the greater part of his army. The Hebrews, who were settled in immense numbers in the province of Goshen, and whom Ani had attached to his cause by remitting their task-work, were now driven to labor at the palaces and fortifications which Rameses had begun to build.

  At Tanis, too, the treaty of peace was signed and was presented to Rameses inscribed on a silver tablet by Tarthisebu, the representative of the Cheta king, in the name of his lord and master.

  Pentaur followed the king as soon as he had closed his mother's eyes, and accompanied her body to Heliopolis, there to have it embalmed; from thence the mummy was to be sent to Thebes, and solemnly placed in the grave of her ancestors. This duty of children towards their parents, and indeed all care for the dead, was regarded as so sacred by the Egyptians, that neither Pentaur nor Bent-Anat would have thought of being united before it was accomplished.

  On the 21st day of the month Tybi, of the 21st year of the reign of Rameses, the day on which the peace was signed, the poet returned to Tanis, sad at heart, for the old gardener, whom he had regarded and loved as his father, had died before his return home; the good old man had not long survived the false intelligence of the death of the poet, whom he had not only loved but reverenced as a superior being bestowed upon his house as a special grace from the Gods.

  It was not till seven months after the fire at Pelusium that Pentaur's marriage with Bent-Anat was solemnized in the palace of the Pharaohs at Thebes; but time and the sorrows he had suffered had only united their hearts more closely. She felt that though he was the stronger she was the giver and the helper, and realized with delight that like the sun, which when it rises invites a thousand flowers to open and unfold, the glow of her presence raised the poet's oppressed soul to fresh life and beauty. They had given each other up for lost through strife and suffering, and now had found each other again; each knew how precious the other was. To make each other happy, and prove their affection, was now the aim of their lives, and as they each had proved that they prized honor and right-doing above happiness their union was a true marriage, ennobling and purifying their souls. She could share his deepest thoughts and his most difficult undertakings, and if their house were filled with children she would know how to give him the fullest enjoyment of those small blessings which at the same time are the greatest joys of life.

  Pentaur finding himself endowed by the king with superabundant wealth, gave up the inheritance of his fathers to his brother Horus, who was raised to the rank of chief pioneer as a reward for his interposition at the battle of Kadesh; Horus replaced the fallen cedar-trees which had stood at the door of his house by masts of more moderate dimensions.

  The hapless Huni, under whose name Pentaur had been transferred to the mines of Sinai, was released from the quarries of Chennu, and restored to his children enriched by gifts from the poet.

  The Pharaoh fully recognized the splendid talents of his daughter's husband; she to his latest days remained his favorite child, even after he had consolidated the peace by marrying the daughter of the Cheta king, and Pentaur became his most trusted adviser, and responsible for the weightiest affairs in the state.

  Rameses learned from the papers found in Ani's tent, and from other evidence which was only too abundant, that the superior of the House of Seti, and with him the greater part of the priesthood, had for a long time been making common cause with the traitor; in the first instance he determined on the severest, nay bloodiest punishment, but he was persuaded by Pentaur and by his son Chamus to assert and support the principles of his government by milder and yet thorough measures. Rameses desired to be a defender of religion——of the religion which could carry consolation into the life of the lowly and over-burdened, and give their existence a higher and fuller meaning——the religion which to him, as king, appeared the indispensable means of keeping the grand significance of human life ever present to his mind——sacred as the inheritance of his fathers, and useful as the school where the people, who needed leading, might learn to follow and obey.

  But nevertheless no one, not even the priests, the guardians of souls, could be permitted to resist the laws of which he was the bulwark, to which he himself was subject, and which enjoined obedience to his authority; and before he left Tanis he had given Ameni and his followers to understand that he alone was master in Egypt.

  The God Seth, who had been honored by the Semite races since the time of the Hyksos, and whom they called upon under the name of Baal, had from the earliest times never been allowed a temple on the Nile, as being the God of the stranger; but Rameses——in spite of the bold remonstrances of the priestly party who called themselves the 'true believers'——raised a magnificent temple to this God in the city of Tanis to supply the religious needs of the immigrant foreigners. In the same spirit of toleration he would not allow the worship of strange Gods to be interfered with, though on the other hand he was jealous in honoring the Egyptian Gods with unexampled liberality. He caused temples to be erected in most of the great cities of the kingdom, he added to the temple of Ptah at Memphis, and erected immense colossi in front of its pylons in memory of his deliverance from the fire.

  [One of these is still in existence. It lies on the ground among the ruins of ancient Memphis.]

  In the Necropolis of Thebes he had a splendid edifice constructed-which to this day delights the beholder by the symmetry of its proportions in memory of the hour when he escaped death as by a miracle; on its pylon he caused the battle of Kadesh to be represented in beautiful pictures in relief, and there, as well as on the architrave of the great banqueting——hall, he had the history inscribed of the danger he had run when he stood “alone and no man with him!”

  By his order Pentaur rewrote the song he had sung at Pelusium; it is preserved in three temples, and, in fragments, on several papyrus-rolls which can be made to complete each other. It was destined to become the national epic——the Iliad of Egypt.

  Pentaur was commissioned to transfer the school of the House of Seti to the new votive temple, which was called the House of Rameses, and arrange it on a different plan, for the Pharaoh felt that it was requisite to form a new order of priests, and to accustom the ministers of the Gods to subordinate their own designs to the laws of the country, and to the decrees of their guardian and ruler, the king. Pentaur was made the superior of the new college, and its library, which was called “the hospital for the soul,” was without an equal; in this academy, which was the prototype of the later-formed museum and library of Alexandria, sages and poets grew up whose works endured for thousands of years——and fragments of their writings have even come down to us. The most famous are the hymns of Anana, Pentaur's favorite disciple, and the tale of the two Brothers, composed by Gagabu, the grandson of the old Prophet.

  Ameni did not remain in Thebes. Rameses had been informed of the way in which he had turned the death of the ram to account, and the use he had made of the heart, as he had supposed it, of the sacred animal, and he translated him without depriving him of his dignity or revenues to Mendes, the city of the holy rams in the Delta, where, as he observed not without satirical meaning, he would be particularly intimate with these sacred beasts; in Mendes Ameni exerted great influence, and in spite of many differences of opinion which threatened to sever them, he and Pentaur remained fast friends to the day of his death.

  In the first court of the House of Rameses there stands——now broken across the middle——the wonder of the traveller, the grandest colossus in Egypt, made of the hardest granite, and exceeding even the well-known statue of Memnon in the extent of its base. It represents Rameses the Great. Little Scherau, whom Pentaur had educated to be a sculptor, executed it, as well as many other statues of the great sovereign of Egypt.

  A year after the burning of the pavilion at Pelusium Rameri sailed to the land of the Danaids, was married to Uarda, and then remained in his wife's native country, where, after the death of her grandfather, he ruled over many islands of the Mediterranean and became the founder of a great and famous race. Uarda's name was long held in tender remembrance by their subjects, for having grown up in misery she understood the secret of alleviating sorrow and relieving want, and of doing good and giving happiness without humiliating those she benefitted.


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