Main  Contacts  
Table of contents
THE VALLEY OF THE NILE.
THE PTOLEMIES.
ALEXANDRIA.
CLEOPATRA'S FATHER.
ACCESSION TO THE THRONE.
CLEOPATRA AND Caesar.
THE ALEXANDRINE WAR.
CLEOPATRA A QUEEN.
THE BATTLE OF PHILIPPI.
CLEOPATRA AND ANTONY.
THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM.
THE END OF CLEOPATRA.

CHAPTER III.

 

 

ALEXANDRIA.

 

 

Internal administration of the Ptolemies.--Industry of the people.--Its 

happy effects.--Idleness the parent of vice.--An idle aristocracy 

generally vicious.--Degradation and vice.--Employment a cure for 

both.--Greatness of Alexandria.--Situation of its port.--Warehouses and 

granaries.--Business of the port.--Scenes within the city.--The natives 

protected in their industry.--Public edifices.--The light-house.--Fame 

of the light-house.--Its conspicuous position.--Mode of lighting the 

tower.--Modern method--The architect of the Pharos.--His ingenious 

stratagem.--Ruins of the Pharos.--The Alexandrian library.--Immense 

magnitude of the library.--The Serapion.--The Serapis of Egypt.--The 

Serapis of Greece.--Ptolemy's dream.--Importance of the 

statue.--Ptolemy's proposal to the King of Sinope.--His ultimate 

success.--Mode of obtaining books.--The Jewish Scriptures.--Seclusion of 

the Jews.--Interest felt in their Scriptures.--Jewish slaves in 

Egypt.--Ptolemy's designs.--Ptolemy liberates the slaves.--Their ransom 

paid.--Ptolemy's success.--The Septuagint.--Early copies of the 

Septuagint.--Present copies.--Various other plans of the 

Ptolemies.--Means of raising money.--Heavy taxes.--Poverty of the 

people.--Ancient and modern capitals.--Liberality of the 

Ptolemies.--Splendor and renown of Alexandria.--Her great rival. 

 

 

 

It must not be imagined by the reader that the scenes of vicious 

indulgence, and reckless cruelty and crime, which were exhibited with 

such dreadful frequency, and carried to such an enormous excess in the 

palaces of the Egyptian kings, prevailed to the same extent throughout 

the mass of the community during the period of their reign. The internal 

administration of government, and the institutions by which the 

industrial pursuits of the mass of the people were regulated, and peace 

and order preserved, and justice enforced between man and man, were all 

this time in the hands of men well qualified, on the whole, for the 

trusts committed to their charge, and in a good degree faithful in the 

performance of their duties; and thus the ordinary affairs of 

government, and the general routine of domestic and social life, went 

on, notwithstanding the profligacy of the kings, in a course of very 

tolerable peace, prosperity, and happiness. During every one of the 

three hundred years over which the history of the Ptolemies extends, the 

whole length and breadth of the land of Egypt exhibited, with 

comparatively few interruptions, one wide-spread scene of busy industry. 

The inundations came at their appointed season, and then regularly 

retired. The boundless fields which the waters had fertilized were then 

every where tilled. The lands were plowed; the seed was sown; the canals 

and water-courses, which ramified from the river in every direction over 

the ground, were opened or closed, as the case required, to regulate the 

irrigation. The inhabitants were busy, and, consequently, they were 

virtuous. And as the sky of Egypt is seldom or never darkened by clouds 

and storms, the scene presented to the eye the same unchanging aspect of 

smiling verdure and beauty, day after day, and month after month, until 

the ripened grain was gathered into the store-houses, and the land was 

cleared for another inundation. 

 

We say that the people were virtuous because they were busy; for there 

is no principle of political economy more fully established than that 

vice in the social state is the incident and symptom of idleness. It 

prevails always in those classes of every great population who are 

either released by the possession of fixed and unchangeable wealth from 

the necessity, or excluded by their poverty and degradation from the 

advantage, of useful employment. Wealth that is free, and subject to its 

possessor's control, so that he can, if he will, occupy himself in the 

management of it, while it sometimes may make individuals vicious, does 

not generally corrupt classes of men, for it does not make them idle. 

But wherever the institutions of a country are such as to create an 

aristocratic class, whose incomes depend on entailed estates, or on 

fixed and permanent annuities, so that the capital on which they live 

can not afford them any mental occupation, they are doomed necessarily 

to inaction and idleness. Vicious pleasures and indulgences are, with 

such a class as a whole, the inevitable result; for the innocent 

enjoyments of man are planned and designed by the Author of Nature only 


Page 1 from 8: [1]  2   3   4   5   6   7   8   Forward