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Pages of Euterpe

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any serious employment. He lived in constant feasts and revelries, and
whenever his means failed him, he roamed about and robbed people. On
such occasions the persons from whom he had stolen would bring him, if
he denied the charge, before the nearest oracle; sometimes the
oracle would pronounce him guilty of the theft, at other times it
would acquit him. When afterwards he came to be king, he neglected the
temples of such gods as had declared that he was not a thief, and
neither contributed to their adornment nor frequented them for
sacrifice, since he regarded them as utterly worthless and their
oracles as wholly false: but the gods who had detected his guilt he
considered to be true gods whose oracles did not deceive, and these he
honoured exceedingly.
First of all, therefore, he built the gateway of the temple of
Minerva at Sais, which is an astonishing work, far surpassing all
other buildings of the same kind both in extent and height, and
built with stones of rare size and excellency. In the next place, he
presented to the temple a number of large colossal statues and several
prodigious andro-sphinxes, besides certain stones for the repairs,
of a most extraordinary size. Some of these he got from the quarries
over against Memphis, but the largest were brought from Elephantine,
which is twenty days' voyage from Sais. Of all these wonderful
masses that which I most admire is a chamber made of a single stone,
which was quarried at Elephantine. It took three years to convey
this block from the quarry to Sais; and in the conveyance were
employed no fewer than two thousand labourers, who were all from the
class of boatmen. The length of this chamber on the outside is
twenty-one cubits, its breadth fourteen cubits, and its height, eight.
The measurements inside are the following:- the length, eighteen
cubits and five-sixths; the breadth, twelve cubits; and the height,
five. It lies near the entrance of the temple, where it was left in
consequence of the following circumstance:- it happened that the
architect, just as the stone had reached the spot where it now stands,
heaved a sigh, considering the length of time that the removal had
taken, and feeling wearied with the heavy toil. The sigh was heard
by Amasis who, regarding it as an omen, would not allow the chamber to
be moved forward any farther. Some, however, say that one of the
workmen engaged at the levers was crushed and killed by the mass,
and that this was the reason of its being left where it now stands.
To the other temples of much note Amasis also made magnificent
offerings- at Memphis, for instance, he gave the recumbent colossus in
front of the temple of Vulcan, which is seventy-five feet long. Two
other colossal statues stand on the same base, each twenty feet
high, carved in the stone of Ethiopia, one on either side of the
temple. There is also a stone colossus of the same size at Says,
recumbent like that at Memphis. Amasis finally built the temple of
Isis at Memphis, a vast structure, well worth seeing.
It is said that the reign of Amasis was the most prosperous time
that Egypt ever saw,- the river was more liberal to the land, and
the land brought forth more abundantly for the service of man than had
ever been known before; while the number of inhabited cities was not
less than twenty thousand. It was this king Amasis who established the
law that every Egyptian should appear once a year before the
governor of his canton, and show his means of living; or, failing to
do so, and to prove that he got an honest livelihood, should be put to
death. Solon the Athenian borrowed this law from the Egyptians, and
imposed it on his countrymen, who have observed it ever since. It is
indeed an excellent custom.
Amasis was partial to the Greeks, and among other favours which he
granted them, gave to such as liked to settle in Egypt the city of
Naucratis for their residence. To those who only wished to trade
upon the coast, and did not want to fix their abode in the country, he
granted certain lands where they might set up altars and erect temples
to the gods. Of these temples the grandest and most famous, which is
also the most frequented, is that called "the Hellenium." It was built

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