Thutmose III the Great Pharaoh of Egypt
For twenty-two years Queen Hatshepsut ruled in wisdom and peace; Thutmose III followed with a reign of many wars.
Syria took advantage of Hatshepsut's death to revolt; it did not seem likely to the Syrians that a lad of twenty-two, would be able to maintain the empire created by his father.
But Thutmose set off in the very year of his accession, marched his army through Kantara and Gaza at twenty miles a day, and confronted the rebel forces at Har-Megiddo (i.e., Mt. Megiddo), a little town so strategically placed between the rival Lebanon ranges on the road from Egypt to the Euphrates that it has been the Armageddon of countless wars from that day to General Allenby's.
In the same pass where in 1918 the British defeated the Turks, Thutmose III, 3397 years before, defeated the Syrians and their allies.
Then Thutmose marched victorious through western Asia, subduing, taxing and levying tribute, and returned to Thebes in triumph six months after his departure.
This was the first of fifteen campaigns in which the irresistible Thutmose made Egypt master of the Mediterranean world.
Not only did he conquer, but he organized; everywhere he left doughty garrisons and capable gov¬ernors.
The first man in known history to recognize the importance of sea power, he built a fleet that kept the Near East effectively in leash.
The spoils that he seized became the foundation of Egyptian art in the period of the Empire; the tribute that he drained from Syria gave his people an epicurean ease, and created a new class of artists who filled all Egypt with precious things.
We may vaguely estimate the wealth of the new imperial government when we learn that on one occasion the treasury was able tc measure out nine thousand pounds of gold and silver alloy. Trade flourished in Thebes as never before; the temples groaned with offerings; and at Karnak the lordly Promenade and Festival Hall rose to the greater glory of god and king.
Then the King retired from the battlefield, designed exquisite vases, and gave himself to internal administration.
His vizier or prime minister said of him, as tired secretaries were to say of Napoleon:
"Lo, His Majesty was one who knew what happened; there was nothing of which he was ignorant; he was the god of knowledge in everything; there was no matter that he did not carry out."
He passed away after a rule of thirty-two (some say fifty-four) years, having made Egyptian leadership in the Mediterranean world complete.
"The Zenith of Egypt"
After Thutmose III came another conqueror, Amenhotep II.
Subdued again certain idolaters of liberty in Syria, and returned to Thebes with seven captive kings, still alive, hanging head downward from the prow of the imperial galley; six of them he sacrificed to Amon with his own hand.
Then another Thutmose, who does not count.
In 1412 Amenhotep III began a long reign in which the accumulated wealth of a century of mastery brought Egypt to the acme of her splendor.
A fine bust in the British Museum shows him as a man at once of refinement and of strength, able to hold firmly together the empire bequeathed to him, and yet living in an atmosphere of comfort and elegance that might have been envied by Petronius or the Medici.
Only the exhuming of Tutenkhamon's relics could make us credit the traditions and records of Amenhotep's riches and luxury.
In his reign Thebes was as majestic as any city in history.
Her streets crowded with merchants, her markets filled with the goods of the world, her buildings "surpassing in magnificence all those of ancient or modern capitals,"
Her imposing palaces receiving tribute from an endless chain of vassal states, her massive temples "enriched all over with gold" and adorned with every art, her spacious villas and costly chateaux, her shaded promenades and artificial lakes providing the scene for sumptuous displays of fashion that anticipated Imperial Rome such was Egypt's capital in the days of her glory, in the reign before her fall.
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