the quarterly journal of contemporary narrative verse Spring 1997 THE MASQUE OF TUTANKHAMEN Ronald Gordon Ziegler Ph.D.

c 1985 by Ronald Gordon Ziegler 1. PROLOGUE Throughout the course of human history there has raged ten thousand years, a struggle between two views of man -- one laden with superstition and fear that man is but a creature, the other knowing him as a god -- and the battle has raged wherever man has dared ever to trod. For there are those who have built the world, those who knew Beethoven's sound, those who marched with Alexander, and those who would tear it down; those who would build cities; and those who would tie us to the ground in blood and toil and depravity; the ones who see man bound to limits created by himself, and those who see limits that only stand until they have been surpassed by the creative powers of man. Now, down throughout the ages, each man's been free to choose whether to stand and reach the stars or stoop to the earth and loose. It is what makes a man a man to be the son of God of Paul, of the Golden Soul of Plato or answer Dante's divine call. Their minds are the industry that made each Renaissance to grow, the industrial revolution and the nation-state, and so against them were unleashed the forces of those who would enslave us as peasants in drugs or dispair or some other earthly grave. Leonardo and Ben Franklin stood with the Gupta in the frey alongside the Ch'in and Askia and Ibn Sina in his day; and the Hebrews had direction that the earth should be subdued, and the Christians knew the glory with which man is imbued. And three stood up in Egypt, along the Nile's endless swells, against Isis, Horus, and Osiris and faced the fires of their hell; for alongside dark fair Nefertiti, stood her husband and nephew, and it is from their divine spark that the fire of man burns anew in every age of humankind, in each new generation, in each new rebirth soaring, in each struggling new nation: Ikhanaton and Tutankhamen knew the Gotterfunken well, and paid their lives for ours -- their tale is ours to tell. for thirty four full centuries, their story has remained untold, resting with their immortal souls; and now the bell is tolled and echoes from out their chambers for man to hear and know that man is God upon the earth, that we die if we don't grow, and that we live forever in the work we leave behind, and the cities that we build and the mountains that we climb; for in their lives they lent us the heritage we live still, and in their deaths as their lives we can surely know their will -- in their story we can see what man is, and understand the death of the Ikhanatons and the death of Tutankhamen. 2. THE KINGDOM ON THE NILE "It comes from the rising Nile, the water of life which is in the sky; the water of life which is in the earth, it comes. For thee, the sky burns high, the earth trembles even for thee. Oh, King, thy feet are touched by it, purest of ancient waters. The King is indeed prosperous. The month is born. The gnome lives. The Palace of the King yet stands. The grain grows to gratify the King here forever. Measured are the lands." This is the leif-motif of Egypt engraved among the Pyramid texts -- the voice of subject and ruler from one generation to the next who celebrate thus the Nile -- the Nile makes Egypt -- its life and richness flow of its fertility: Egypt, the King; the Nile, his wife -- since the year of three millennia -- marvelous crafts from the black lands -- whose footprints were emblazoned and still remain on eternal sands. The dominant fact of that history would seem to be the pendulum alternating swings between North and South -- the Delta people who were from the North, accessible to novelty and foreign influence, on the sea; and the long valley of the Nile of the South with rigidity -- both peopled by the same race with Semite and black in the blend. But the Nile River formed so strong a connecting link so as to lend a certain unity to the kingdom fused into one single state though with a shifting axis as a fundamental trait: the Kingdom of the South or of the White Mitre, and the Kingdom of the North, or of the Red Cap. Conquered by the southern sons of Horus at about thirty three hundred B.C., the King wore the Pshent head gear composed of both crowns in unity. A compromise capital city was at the start established near the center of the valley at the ancient city of This. But from the Fourth Dynasty, the Kings took to Memphis which commanded the Valley and Delta -- the conqueror, now vanquished by the new conqueror, the North. Under the Memphite Kingdom which lasted seven centuries, the power of the civilization extended widely -- this Old Kingdom. And its inspired art would bid to raise those artificial mountains in the age of the Pyramids. But the feudal order reappeared as Thebes in the end, won the day as the Middle Kingdom reached its height. The Kings, in order that they might better rule, organized a standing army and a fleet and a regular administration; and having to compete with the aristocracy, sought support of the masses with 'equality.' Kush and Nubia were annexed, and there flourished classical art and poetry. But the crown of the Pharaohs fell as the Delta was vanquished and Egypt floundered in dark ages -- that renaissance was relinquished. 3. PHAROAH As the Nile yearly renews the earth, once again, Egypt arose, and once again, from Thebes it came -- the Eighteenth Dynasty drove in a long crusade, the shepherds out, reconquered the Delta and made Thebes once again the capital, and this new Dynasty bade the national worship of Amen-Re. Through the four Thutmes, the land revived and reconstituted in a manner that was grand. The long reign of Amenhotep III reaped what previous reigns had sown. The Empire was expanded to its height and Egypt's Golden Age was known. Thebes, become the world's capital -- all of Asia and Africa flowed toward the heart of Egypt and the throne of this Pharaoh. By the sword and the grace of Amen, little Thebes had now become the capital of a world which to this city and Pharaoh had succumbed. The people sang "Thebes is the Queen City, mightier than all. By her victory, she has given one single lord to rule over all of the country. There is never fighting near her. At the beginning, water and land existed in her, but for the plough, land has been made of the sand, and so the world came into being. All cities are founded under her name, for men call her 'The City;' all others are in her fame and are under her watch, all cities are in her shade and glorify themselves by Thebes," this is what Amenhotep had laid. But the Pharaohs created something that challenged their authority: faced with the priests of Amen who were growing steadily every day more greedy and arrogant, becoming Mayors of the Palace. In fact, virtual co-ruler with Pharaoh was the High Priest and his pack. These priests of Thebes were guiding the Empire's whole policy even in its pettiest details even before Amenhotep III be- gan his reign. When Thotmes I died, it was only through that priesthood, that his daughter, Queen Matshepsut, was able to obtain recognition as the mistress of the Empire at the expense of one of her brothers, and rule. Amenhotep could easily sense his rule and rebirth threatened -- all powerful priests would allow Pharaoh to be no more than their executive mouthpiece, bow- ing to their authority and whim. He feared too, that in his stead, the High Priest would rule Egypt as Pharaoh himself, instead of his heir -- what would then become of this golden age that was beginning to flourish through the wisdom of this sage? It was thus that a mystical dream and a masterly piece of statesmanship was born combining the lord of the sky with the lord of men in one worship. Emancipation from their dominion could be won through the one godhead as the primary manifestation, the sun; with the Son of Re ruling in his stead. 4. AMENHOTEP IV And Joseph was brought down to Egypt. The Lord was with him and he prospered: and his master's house prospered with him. Joseph found grace in his sight. Pharaoh heard his wisdom and set him over his house and over all in Egypt's land. And Egypt prospered in bounty through the work of Joseph's hand. This Joseph was then, the Hebrew, who knew the Lord God of Abraham: in all the wisdom he worked in Egypt, he brought also the Lord into that land. And the Hebrews came and dwelt there. They first prospered and then were slaves. But they fared well under the Amenhoteps who knew all that the Hebrews gave. Egypt reached to Syria, and Babylon and Assyria became allies: it ruled in Asia Minor and Nubia and Libya, and Chanaan, and by the Red Sea and the Aegean Sea. And the beloved Tia, Queen of Pharaoh, fruitfully bore him a son as heir to rule as the Nile flowed. Amenhotep's adversity to the priesthood increased further as they denounced his marriage to Tia, "that daughter of nothing," and the heir by her of his house, and strove to make him to accept as his successor, Thotmes, his son, by an earlier marriage, who was not the High Priest of Amen. But his heir would be the son of Tia and his will to subdue the priesthood and assert the power of the state to unify and develop as he could the land of Egypt were too much. The priests of Amen would have tried anything to undermine his plans. The Pharaoh was poisoned and died. Now the huge almond eyes of his son came to rule as Pharaoh in his place and pursue the dreams of his father with a passion. His youthful face and body were slim and graceful, and a dreamy gaze held his eyes. Amenhotep IV was King of Egypt. To the priesthood, he was wise. A favorite of his father, the general, Horemhub, stood at his side with the fleets and garrisons behind him -- the young Amenhotep rode the tide. He would free himself and Egypt from the now too heavy yoke of the priests of the gods of Amen with the change he would invoke. Pharaoh would be the intermediary between the godhead and the ruled, becoming the sole director, too, of all the properties of that school of assassins, usurpers, and mystics. He would have Egypt's religion be one of love, brotherhood, and peace throughout the great Empire he now stood at the helm of, to cement together in his grip that over-vast far-reaching nation with sentiment of unanimous worship. He would dethrone a coarse god, artificial, which viewed man as a manipulable beast of burden, with actions sweeping and grand. He would restore the godhead to the heavens in his quest. Man was to be in His image, pursuing the idea of progress. And in the process, he would make the Golden Age of Egypt more great as he cultivated the first great Renaissance and the world's first nation-state. 5. IKANATON As a radiant morning was breaking in the year B.C. 1375, the fourth of his reign as Pharaoh, Amenhotep went out for a drive alone from Thebes, the imperial capital, on his small electrum chariot, drawn by two white Syrian mares; he drove their furied strut madly over the sand until dusk, going down the river all alone, until he reached a deserted, torrid place, half-way on the Nile's right zone between Thebes and Memphis. Among the ruins there yet today, stand a great stone of red granite forty six feet high which will say to the reader: "In the year four, in the fourth month of season two, on this day, the thirteenth one, Amenhotep IV came to this place to declare it as the setting of the City of the Horizon of Aton, His Majesty, ascending, appeared here just as the rays of the rising sun. His Majesty, lifting his arm to the sky, cried, 'East of the Nile, my father Aton, in this place which thou hast chosen, I shall raise thy capital. All races will come there to worship thee for all time. There, a temple, I shall build thee, shaded from the burning sun, where the Great Royal Wife Nefertiti shall come and she will worship thee. There, to rejoice thy heart, the house of Aton shall dwell, in all of its illustrious glory. Not far off, I shall raise up my Pharaoh's Palace and that of his wife. In the sides of the mountain, I shall dig a tomb for my journey to eternal life, and by the side of that of the Royal Wife and of my daughter, Meritaton. And in the sixth year of may reign, all of this shall be done." Fourteen such great stones have been found. They show the growing passion of the King for his god and for leaving Thebes and its uncomfortable, dangerous surroundings. For this daring reform the King sought had above all a great political end, the confirmation of his supremacy against that of the High Priest of Amen. Hosts of workmen swarmed in the red granite quarries of Aswan and labored busily and steadfastly at the building of Akhenaton. In the seventh year of his reign, Pharaoh himself came to the site to encourage the workmen there, and so that he also might pay tribute to Bek, his assistant, who directed building the city and was chief among its sculptors. The great city was almost ready. Amenhotep was twenty one years old, and it was the eighth year of his reign. Nefertiti had just given birth to a little princess by him, again -- Ankhsenpaten, who would one day be the wife of Tutankhamen. And Egypt, amazed, was reduced to obedience by the claims and authority of Pharaoh and his General, as the Royal Family made its way from Thebes to this new city -- this was to be Egypt's new day, and a new dawn for all mankind -- indeed, a genuine revolution. And the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV called his name Ikhanaton. 6. NEFERTITI And the mysterious monarch contracted in the third year of his reign with the daughter of Dushratta, King of Mitanni, through the Queen Tia, for a marriage to her. To the young Pharaoh there came, under the guidance of Mani, the Egyptian ambassador of fame, a sumptuous caravan of camels, numbered in the hundreds of beasts, which for months had been coming over the Euphrates from land to the east, across the Orontes, the Leontes, the Jordan, and then at last, the Nile River, so as to bring, when the time of the journey had passed, Taduhipa, the twelve year old Asiatic girl to her bridegroom into the land of the Pharaoh and into his palace rooms. She brought him beauty beyond compare; and a dowry beyond excess -- one fully worthy of the Arabian nights was brought with this princess. And Amenhotep, madly in love with his wife, devised, having succumbed, her Egyptian name of Nefertiti, meaning 'the Fair One who Comes.' In Egypt, there were many reasons that served as motivation to be wed; to cement alliances and diplomatic ties was foremost in this one, it is said, for the goal of securing stability on the Asian borders was a desire compounded by the weak threads of Empire that had led Amenhotep III to inquire of the King of Mitanni to the east for his daughter's hand for his son in return for gifts and friendship -- and thus the deed was done. More common was the tradition especially so among noble blood of marriage among siblings -- Pharaohs, as others, observed this law of blood. And the race seems to have prospered in this custom of royal 'incest' -- the perfect union of divine blood; a King's sister could want no less. And Egyptian girls enjoyed great liberty to choose the husband they preferred -- perhaps the most feminist land of antiquity: "Their husbands were their slaves," were the words of the Greeks and Romans afterwards, with a proper and righteous contempt. And Kings and those of any rank all had their harems, though exempt from this were the priests of the temple. The consecration of polygamy worked to increase the population and the land and family prosperity though there was but one single wife legally established as such, and who was protected by advantages in life of the property of the house -- her due. A matrilineal and matriarchal land; her brother would be the protector of the offspring of her marriages -- thus was the custom inured. And thus the practical basis for the royal 'incest' -- in that way, the wealth, the lands, the family would be bound to their blood all days. Yet all this did not diminish or enhance, on the other hand, the Pharaoh's love for Nefertiti -- by him, she would stand, and equal in the reign of Pharaoh; indeed, they were as of one mind. Among the great women of history, Nefertiti's beauty has always shined. Continue