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Pages of Euterpe

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Till the death of Rhampsinitus, the priests said, Egypt was
excellently governed, and flourished greatly; but after him Cheops
succeeded to the throne, and plunged into all manner of wickedness. He
closed the temples, and forbade the Egyptians to offer sacrifice,
compelling them instead to labour, one and all, in his service. Some
were required to drag blocks of stone down to the Nile from the
quarries in the Arabian range of hills; others received the blocks
after they had been conveyed in boats across the river, and drew
them to the range of hills called the Libyan. A hundred thousand men
laboured constantly, and were relieved every three months by a fresh
lot. It took ten years' oppression of the people to make the
causeway for the conveyance of the stones, a work not much inferior,
in my judgment, to the pyramid itself. This causeway is five
furlongs in length, ten fathoms wide, and in height, at the highest
part, eight fathoms. It is built of polished stone, and is covered
with carvings of animals. To make it took ten years, as I said- or
rather to make the causeway, the works on the mound where the
pyramid stands, and the underground chambers, which Cheops intended as
vaults for his own use: these last were built on a sort of island,
surrounded by water introduced from the Nile by a canal. The pyramid
itself was twenty years in building. It is a square, eight hundred
feet each way, and the height the same, built entirely of polished
stone, fitted together with the utmost care. The stones of which it is
composed are none of them less than thirty feet in length.
The pyramid was built in steps, battlement-wise, as it is
called, or, according to others, altar-wise. After laying the stones
for the base, they raised the remaining stones to their places by
means of machines formed of short wooden planks. The first machine
raised them from the ground to the top of the first step. On this
there was another machine, which received the stone upon its
arrival, and conveyed it to the second step, whence a third machine
advanced it still higher. Either they had as many machines as there
were steps in the pyramid, or possibly they had but a single
machine, which, being easily moved, was transferred from tier to
tier as the stone rose- both accounts are given, and therefore I
mention both. The upper portion of the pyramid was finished first,
then the middle, and finally the part which was lowest and nearest the
ground. There is an inscription in Egyptian characters on the
pyramid which records the quantity of radishes, onions, and garlic
consumed by the labourers who constructed it; and I perfectly well
remember that the interpreter who read the writing to me said that the
money expended in this way was 1600 talents of silver. If this then is
a true record, what a vast sum must have been spent on the iron
tools used in the work, and on the feeding and clothing of the
labourers, considering the length of time the work lasted, which has
already been stated, and the additional time- no small space, I
imagine- which must have been occupied by the quarrying of the stones,
their conveyance, and the formation of the underground apartments.
The wickedness of Cheops reached to such a pitch that, when he had
spent all his treasures and wanted more, he sent his daughter to the
stews, with orders to procure him a certain sum- how much I cannot
say, for I was not told; she procured it, however, and at the same
time, bent on leaving a monument which should perpetuate her own
memory, she required each man to make her a present of a stone towards
the works which she contemplated. With these stones she built the
pyramid which stands midmost of the three that are in front of the
great pyramid, measuring along each side a hundred and fifty feet.
Cheops reigned, the Egyptians said, fifty years, and was succeeded
at his demise by Chephren, his brother.
Chephren imitated the conduct of his predecessor, and, like him,
built a pyramid, which did not, however, equal the dimensions of his
brother's. Of this I am certain, for I measured them both myself. It
has no subterraneous apartments, nor any canal from the Nile to supply
it with water, as the other pyramid has. In that, the Nile water,

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