previous next


The Ethiopians, emboldened in consequence of a part of the forces in Egypt being drawn off by Ælius Gallus, who was engaged in war with the Arabs, invaded the Thebais, and attacked the garrison, consisting of three cohorts, near Syene; surprised and took Syene, Elephantina, and Philæ, by a sudden inroad; enslaved the inhabitants, and threw down the statues of Cæsar. But Petronius, marching with less than 10,000 infantry and 800 horse against an army of 30,000 men, first compelled them to retreat to Pselchis, an Ethiopian city. He then sent deputies to demand restitution of what they had taken, and the reasons which had induced them to begin the war. On their alleging that they had been ill treated by the nomarchs, he answered, that these were not the sovereigns of the country, but Cæsar. When they desired three days for consideration, and did nothing which they were bound to do, Petronius attacked and compelled them to fight. They soon fled, being badly commanded, and badly armed; for they carried large shields made of raw hides, and hatchets for offensive weapons; some, however, had pikes, and others swords. Part of the insurgents were driven into the city, others fled into the uninhabited country; and such as ventured upon the passage of the river escaped to a neighbouring island, where there were not many crocodiles on account of the current. Among the fugitives, were the generals of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians in our time, a masculine woman, and who had lost an eye. Petronius, pursuing them in rafts and ships, took them all and despatched them immediately to Alexandreia. He then attacked Pselchis1 and took it. If we add the number of those who fell in battle to the number of prisoners, few only could have escaped.

From Pselchis Petronius went to Premnis,2 a strong city, travelling over the hills of sand, beneath which the army of Cambyses was overwhelmed by the setting in of a whirlwind. He took the fortress at the first onset, and afterwards advanced to Napata.3 This was the royal seat of Candace ; and her son was there, but she herself was in a neighbouring stronghold. When she sent ambassadors to treat of peace, and to offer the restitution of the prisoners brought from Syene, and the statues, Petronius attacked and took Napata, from which her son had fled, and then razed it. He made prisoners of the inhabitants, and returned back again with the booty, as he judged any farther advance into the country impracticable on account of the roads. He strengthened, however, the fortifications of Premnis, and having placed a garrison there, with two years' provisions for four hundred men, returned to Alexandreia. Some of the prisoners were publicly sold as booty, and a thousand were sent to Cæsar, who had lately returned from the Cantabrians,4 others died of various diseases.

In the mean time Candace5 attacked the garrison with an army of many thousand men. Petronius came to its assistance, and entering the fortress before the approach of the enemy, secured the place by many expedients. The enemy sent ambassadors, but he ordered them to repair to Cæsar: on their replying, that they did not know who Cæsar was, nor where they were to find him, Petronius appointed persons to conduct them to his presence. They arrived at Samos, where Cæsar was at that time, and from whence he was on the point of proceeding into Syria, having already despatched Tiberius into Armenia. The ambassadors obtained all that they desired, and Cæsar even remitted the tribute which he had imposed.

1 The modem hamlet of Dakkeh occupies a portion of the site of ancient Pselchis.

2 Called Primis by Ptolemy and Pliny. It is placed by the former beyond Napata, and just above Meroë. Hence it is identified with Ibrim.

3 There is great difficulty in determining the true position of Napata, as our author places it much farther north than Pliny; and there is reason for supposing that it is the designation of a royal residence, which might be moveable, rather than of a fixed locality. Ritter brings Napata as far north as Primis and the ruins at Ipsambul, while Mannert, Ukert, and other geographers, believe it to have been Merawe, on the farthest northern point of the region of Meroë. It is, however, generally placed at the east extremity of that great bend of the Nile which skirts the desert of Bahiouda, and near Mount Birkel. Among the ruins which probably cover the site of the ancient Napata are two lions of red granite, one bearing the name of Amuneph Ill., the other Amuntuonch. They were brought to England by Lord Prudhoe, and now stand at the entrance of the Gallery of Antiquities in the British Museum. See Smith's Diet., art. Napata.

4 The inhabitants of Biscay. See b. iii. c. iii. § 8.

5 This name was common to the queens of Ethiopia. Acts viii. 27.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1877)
hide References (4 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: