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Euterpe   


into his mind that the gods intended hereby to lead him to commit an
act of sacrilege, which would be sure to draw down upon him some
punishment either at the hands of gods or men. So he resolved not to
do the deed suggested to him, but rather to retire from Egypt, as
the time during which it was fated that he should hold the country had
now (he thought) expired. For before he left Ethiopia he had been told
by the oracles which are venerated there, that he was to reign fifty
years over Egypt. The years were now fled, and the dream had come to
trouble him; he therefore of his own accord withdrew from the land.
As soon as Sabacos was gone, the blind king left the marshes,
and resumed the government. He had lived in the marsh-region the whole
time, having formed for himself an island there by a mixture of
earth and ashes. While he remained, the natives had orders to bring
him food unbeknown to the Ethiopian, and latterly, at his request,
each man had brought him, with the food, a certain quantity of
ashes. Before Amyrtaeus, no one was able to discover the site of
this island, which continued unknown to the kings of Egypt who
preceded him on the throne for the space of seven hundred years and
more. The name which it bears is Elbo. It is about ten furlongs across
in each direction.
The next king, I was told, was a priest of Vulcan, called
Sethos. This monarch despised and neglected the warrior class of the
Egyptians, as though he did not need their services. Among other
indignities which he offered them, he took from them the lands which
they had possessed under all the previous kings, consisting of
twelve acres of choice land for each warrior. Afterwards, therefore,
when Sanacharib, king of the Arabians and Assyrians, marched his
vast army into Egypt, the warriors one and all refused to come to
his aid. On this the monarch, greatly distressed, entered into the
inner sanctuary, and, before the image of the god, bewailed the fate
which impended over him. As he wept he fell asleep, and dreamed that
the god came and stood at his side, bidding him be of good cheer,
and go boldly forth to meet the Arabian host, which would do him no
hurt, as he himself would send those who should help him. Sethos,
then, relying on the dream, collected such of the Egyptians as were
willing to follow him, who were none of them warriors, but traders,
artisans, and market people; and with these marched to Pelusium, which
commands the entrance into Egypt, and there pitched his camp. As the
two armies lay here opposite one another, there came in the night, a
multitude of field-mice, which devoured all the quivers and bowstrings
of the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their
shields. Next morning they commenced their fight, and great multitudes
fell, as they had no arms with which to defend themselves. There
stands to this day in the temple of Vulcan, a stone statue of
Sethos, with a mouse in his hand, and an inscription to this effect-
"Look on me, and learn to reverence the gods."
Thus far I have spoken on the authority of the Egyptians and their
priests. They declare that from their first king to this
last-mentioned monarch, the priest of Vulcan, was a period of three
hundred and forty-one generations; such, at least, they say, was the
number both of their kings, and of their high-priests, during this
interval. Now three hundred generations of men make ten thousand
years, three generations filling up the century; and the remaining
forty-one generations make thirteen hundred and forty years. Thus
the whole number of years is eleven thousand, three hundred and forty;
in which entire space, they said, no god had ever appeared in a
human form; nothing of this kind had happened either under the
former or under the later Egyptian kings. The sun, however, had within
this period of time, on four several occasions, moved from his
wonted course, twice rising where he now sets, and twice setting where
he now rises. Egypt was in no degree affected by these changes; the
productions of the land, and of the river, remained the same; nor
was there anything unusual either in the diseases or the deaths.
When Hecataeus the historian was at Thebes, and, discoursing of

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