13. THE ROYAL FAMILY Now came a serious time for the children for the menoi taught the morality -- the Ten Commandments and Law of tradition -- from the Immortal Maxims of the Scribe Ani, and the rules of good behavior for all in every situation into which they might step as youth and for when they were older from the Teachings of the Vizier Ptahhetep, written down a thousand years before. Then the eldest menoi would tell with mirth the tales of the divine origins of all things, and of the first explorers of the earth, of the Elephantine barons into Libya, of the adventures of General Thutii near and far -- as when he took the fortress of Joppa, taking his men in concealed in great jars -- of the old folk-tales and fantastic sea stories, the Adventures of King Cheops and the Magicians, the Salt Merchant, or the Travels of Unamen on the Coasts of Syria, or, once again, those of the seafarers who had ventured to the east and, as well, to the west through the Great Green and its far gates over the stormy sea to the land that rests on the other side of the great world -- for they knew the would was not flat -- of all the strange lands, creatures, and people. Enthralled, the noble children all sat. By now, the close of the day was approaching and the coolness was beginning to come, and it was time for the family to walk, as Aton sank towards the horizon. The Pharaoh and Queen, contrary to custom, would walk through the city. Between them were Tut and the little princesses as the sights of the city streets were seen. No escort accompanied the royal family as they wandered about to their fancy, stopping to talk or visiting artist studios of Bek or perhaps Auta, for she was inspired by the new humanist realism -- her work was done so as to appear alive. Pharaoh had her to paint Nefertiti as the most beautiful woman alive -- the bust by which we can know her, and another in which the Divine Queen sat naked, that all might know the beauty. How traditions must have shaken at that! Or they might visit the great sculptor Thotmes whose art was true and showed emotion, just as the great Pharaoh inspired it -- even those of Pharaoh showed passion! The glass and enamel factory would be another regular stop on their way -- the only one anywhere in the world and the first factory of all days. They would walk among the goldsmiths and the other artisans Pharaoh had brought to his great new Renaissance city, to see what wonders their art had wrought. And then at the hour of the sunset, Ikhanaton would join the high priest at the white limestone temple of Aton and lead a procession of the great and least, anoint himself and his Queen Nefertiti, and to celebrate the rites, he'd go forth, of the communion of children and father at the altar of the one true Lord, singing the hymn to Aton in great passion as all about looked on in silence -- Pharaoh, clad in white and purple gauze vestments, at the perfumed altar dressed in hyacinths. When night had fallen, back at the Palace, with his eyes filled with the divine light, his mind echoing the words of sacred hymns, Tutankhaton fell asleep for the night in his bed close to the little princess. The garden fountain lulled them to dreams filled with the legends of the menoi and other Renaissance-inspired themes. 14. EGYPT BETRAYED "All Egypt is the gift of the Nile," Herodotus had described the land, but just as important as the Nile was, of course, how it was used by man. And during this Eighteenth Dynasty, Egypt reached to unknown heights in development, technology, learning, trade, art, area, and military might, especially so under the Amenhoteps, but that was being undermined by the priests of Amen, the Isis Cult, and their feudal lord allies of the time. Thus had Amenhotep IV become Ikhanaton and changed the name of Amen to Aton, to show that god had a new nature -- the one god for all men upon the earth, the kind creator of the world, who loved mankind, who gave the law of the moral order and who rewarded those who were pure of heart -- for he saw the priests had become so powerful that they interfered in all affairs, they extracted great bounty from the land, and were corrupting minds everywhere. The priests of the Great Ennead, the pantheon of Egyptian priests, sold magical charms to the people -- ethical qualities had become least of their concerns -- they told the people their charms would protect them from the gods no matter what they did, if they would but pay the proper sum. And Pharaoh would break their power -- the rich and easy living of the priests -- as their rich revenues were being destroyed and high appointees now went to the least. The King was becoming too powerful and his new city now was designed not only to promote learning and growth, but to even further undermine the priesthood's magical powers by further uniting the South and North as it was further up the Nile. And the priesthood began to bring forth trouble throughout all of Egypt and stir up opposition to Pharaoh. The bitter struggle led to great disorder -- the higher hypothesis had to go. Amenhotep III and his son Ikhanaton had made it clear it was their intent to reinvoke and inculcate the Ma'at -- ethical harmony for all of remeth, mankind, and that had been the goal of every aspect of their policy. Divide and rule was the imperial maxim, but with Ikhanaton, it was to be to build what we call a nation-state with unite, develop, and rule. The administrative organizational framework of his empire was an ingenious tool for holding the empire together, and he had built the army and such a fleet. And now all of this was being undermined by the priests from their Thebes temple seats. They had instigated a revolt in Syria and for two years, its tribute tax had gone unpaid; there were calls to send in the army, but Pharaoh just kept his hand staid. The government would mediate the conflict as the rule of his reign had been -- but the evil that was at work in Egypt would not let the matter so easily end. The land was becoming disorganized. Against Pharaoh's life was conspiracy. The chief of police, Mahu, discovered it. He made it his chief claim to glory, for when he died, his tomb at Akhetaten was adorned with the incidents of the capture by him of the criminals. But the whole land was being rent. 15. THE KING IS DEAD There was a general revolt against Egypt in much of Asia, stirred up by the priests who played their Hittite card against Pharaoh, and the treachery that they unleashed could not be contained by the army. General Horemheb was at Pharaoh's side. But rebellion was being fueled by dissension as Pharaoh prayed. The things he tried were even beginning to seem to be fruitful, even given the medieval adversity. When a Pharaoh had reigned for three decades, they would hold the Sed jubilee, and though Ikhanaton had been on the throne only eighteen years, he would hold the festival to revitalize his revolution in a stroke that was stunning and bold, to fight the stream of dispair of his people that was threatening to carry away all that had been built up for two decades. Pharaoh was acting without delay. The melancholy overtaking all Egypt might have seen a different tide had Ikhanaton been able to continue, but in his eighteenth year of rule, he died. It was in the year 1362 Before Christ, at least as we now reckon dates. It was not epilepsy, but poison, that dealt Ikhanaton such a cruel fate. By the black paved road from the City, which led to one of the remotest spots in all of Egypt, the Arabian Mountain, Pharaoh's mummy was taken to the plot at the wild gorge where he had promised Aton he would come for his rest. Alone among all Egypt's Pharaohs, he was the only one to suggest the formation of a spiritual idea of just how the next life would be. He would have none of the sumptuousness and earthly pleasures with their vanity in his tomb -- he had seen the others. Passing through the door of the tomb, they went down twenty steps to a corridor with a slight incline, and then to a room down another stair of seventeen steps. There was an antechamber before the Great Hall from which ran off two galleries, one leading to six chambers in all, and the other to three. In the Great Hall, Pharaoh had caused a painting to be set of his great sorrow, the death of his daughter. The Sun-disk of Aton was inset glorified in the paintings of the First Chamber. There, the sarcophagus was set down to enjoy the eternal peace of the one God -- a peace that his mummy never found. His son would move and hide his body in the Valley of the Kings, and then, the priests of Amen later tore off, during the persecution of Aton, the inscription on the head of the coffin: "The magnificent Prince, chosen of all man by Ra, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, living in truth. Lord of the Two Lands, Amenophis, superb son of Aton, the one God whose name shall live for ever and ever." His mummy decayed, but the gifts he had been able to give to Egypt would live eternally. Whatever disasters might have come, he still kept his faith in the one God, and in eternal life. He succumbed but held onto the faith in his dying that he might serve his Maker for all time. Even in the weakened days of his dying, he continued to preach of the divine Lord who had created the universe, and of whom men, the children, must be, through peace, honesty, and reason -- he shall live on eternally. 16. KING TUT Tutankhaton was left alone on the throne, to which his father had raised him in his lifetime, when he was eleven years old -- the land continued torn by the priests of Amen. The first two months of his stewardship were given wholly over to the ceremonies of the embalming of Pharaoh Ikhanaton. The Court was torn by adversity. There were a series of endless quarrels, and all the host of people chosen solely by the grace or Pharaoh and Aton were committed and most definitely opposed to any political or religious changes. At the same time, the practical regency exercised by Horemheb and Ai aimed at moving toward such change steadily. In order to hold the land of Egypt together and preserve the Renaissance that had begun, they would seek compromise and buy time that Ikhanaton's great work not be undone. And amid all these conflicts and intrigue, the frail, gentle, young Pharaoh was torn. Deeply embedded in his young heart and soul were the beliefs to which his father had sworn. Tut would indeed have to balance the memory of his father he bore with the problems of the Empire and the pressures he could not ignore of the priests of Amen and Isis. They could not have failed to scare that poor troubled young mind with details of the Revolution of 2360 where there were seventy Pharaohs in seventy days. The Pharaoh indeed must have died within days of his son Tut's marriage with his third daughter, which bride would make him heir of the dying Pharaoh, growing ever weakened from the poisoning. Tut must have felt the intrigue about him even as he was just arising to the throne as the Pharaoh of Egypt. Would he prove but a tool in the hands of Ai, the rather small-minded man, and Horemheb with a much more grand world-view and record -- a statesman? Still Tut was, in reality, the King, and Egypt had a great administration and army and fleet, and everything that his father had inspired in the nation. Tut made the Prince of Kush the viceroy of Nubia to help secure control of it and its gold fields, a ploy designed to help refill the Treasury, and prevent encroachment from the South. He sent Horemheb to command the army in Asia in an attempt to bring about an end to the rebellion and restore order. But before he left, he carefully arranged for the return of the capital to Thebes. Tutankhaton agreed to change his name now to Tutankhamen and to issue a renunciation decree recanting the condemnation of Amen and the Great Ennead. The heresy of Aton was also officially decried. The departure to Thebes came hastily, as Tut took his harem, and what records he could out of his father's renaissance city. Tutankhamen would try to restore the balance and so thus preserve his father's dream; but what his father had unleashed in Egypt would make that even harder than it seemed. He could decree there was but one god, and that that god was named Amen, but where would that leave the Ennead and the Cult of Isis in the end? And they would never accept the ideas that had given rise to the renaissance, for it was based on a worldview that Isis would look on askance. Continue