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CHAPTER FOURTEENTH. TUAA.
Probably years after Queen Tyi, or Tuaa, wife of Amenophis III and mother of the heretic King Khu-n-aten, was laid in her grave, her grand-daughter and namesake became the consort of the reigning monarch. The Eighteenth Dynasty had passed away and a new race held sway. They seem to have had no hereditary title to the crown, but may have claimed Hyksos ancestry. Might, however, often makes right, and they were a noted and powerful succession of monarchs. After King Horem-hib and Queen Notem-Mut came in Rameses I, of the Nineteenth Dynasty, of whose wife we at present know nothing, though future discoveries may reveal her identity. After a short reign the king was succeeded by his son Seti, or Sety I, called Merenptah or Mereptah, “Son of Ptah,” who strengthened his position by marrying a descendant of the preceding royal line. She brought him as her dower, in addition to whatever else she might have been mistress of, the valuable possession of the true “blue blood,” which she conferred upon her son, Rameses II, “born of Ra,” and thus made his claim to the crown indisputable.
 
Queen Ti, Thy, Tyi, Tui, or Tuaa, as her name is variously spelled, did not have so romantic a love story as did her great ancestress, but neither would it be quite fair to set down her marriage with Set I as purely one of convenience, no matter how much each might have gained by the union. Their opportunities of meeting, since Egyptian women are not so cloistered as other Eastern nations, may have been frequent, and it is possible the connection may have been one of feeling, as well as of state policy. Of her early life, however, we know nothing, nor are we assured of the name of her parents. In marrying her Seti I conformed to the usual but not invariable custom of these monarchs, in uniting themselves with a princess of Egyptian lineage.

The priests acknowledged the new queen as of the blood royal, the true Theban line, hence there could be no dispute as to the rights of her children. Her experiences were different from those of her great predecessor of the name; she did not journey from a far country to meet her husband, in all probability, as did her great-grandmother, nor did she share with him as did her grandmother, in the effort to promulgate a new religion, constantly pictured beside him in all his occupations. She was both the wife and mother of a warrior, and life must of necessity have passed much a part from them.

To us Queen Tuaa is but a shadowy form, chiefly known as the mother of perhaps the greatest king in the long Egyptian line. Some of her traits of character, some of her features, may[207] have descended to this haughty scion of the race, but they are now beyond our power of specification. He did not show her, apparently, the devotion the first Tyi received from her son, and in his attention to his father’s tomb there is no record of any special care of his mother’s, though doubtless it was not neglected. “On the walls of one of the temples,” says one traveler, “the youthful Rameses is being suckled by the goddesses; on the one side by Anek (or Anouka) ‘his divine mother, Lady of Elephantine’; on the other by Hathor, with a similar inscription, the features are so much alike that they probably represent those of his own mother.” As a child even Rameses must have been freed, in great measure, from his mother’s guidance, since, to establish himself more firmly on the throne, Seti made his son co-ruler with himself, and, to some extent, a sharer in the cares of state and knowledge of warfare.

It is said that Queen Tuaa acted as regent for husband or son during a Syrian campaign. She must have been proud of her talented and precious child, but state etiquette doubtless separated her much from him, and there may have been more outlet for motherly care and tenderness among her other children; of these we do not find much record, save one brother, to whom Rameses was greatly attached. This brother was called Khamus. Tuaa is not recorded as having shared her queenly honors or her husband’s affection with other wives, at any rate, she was the legal consort.

[208]

Lady Duff Gordon speaks of Egypt as “the palimpsest in which the Bible is written over Herodotus, and the Koran over that.” At this period it was in the middle stage of this classification. The modern Copt most resembles the ancient Egyptian; the nose and eyes are the same as in the profiles in the tombs and temples. The fellah woman of the present, it is said, walks around the ancient statues in order to have children, and the customs at birth and burial are the same as in ancient times. Of marriage customs of the past less is known, as we have to bear in mind, than of their funeral ceremonies. The genuine Egyptian had a bronze colored skin, recognizing a brother countryman at a glance and despising black, yellow and even white skins; the queen herself, being of ancient race, may have indulged this feeling; certainly it was most apparent in her haughty son.

Was Queen Tuaa beautiful, good looks being usually thought an important part of the claims of a royal bride to her position, a picture, often flattered, being the only means a royal suitor had to judge of his future wife? Curtis thus describes a beautiful Egyptian: “The Greek Venus was sea born, but our Egyptian is sun born. The brown blood of the sun burns along her veins—the[209] soul of the sun streams shaded from her eyes.” Fascinating are the almond-eyes of Egyptian women, bordered black with the kohl, whose intensity accords with the sumptuous passion that mingles moist and languid with their light; Eastern eyes are full of moonlight. Eastern beauty is a dream of passionate possibility. Was the queen perchance of this temperament: “I am of a silent disposition. I never tell what I see. I spoil not the sweetness of my fruits by vain tattling.” For posterity, at least, she has proved so, for we know little of her.

The chief, if not the only picture of Queen Tuaa, is in the temple of Goornah or El Kurn-neh, which is described as a memorial edifice, like the Medici Chapel in Florence. Begun by Seti I, as a memorial to Rameses I, it was completed by Rameses II. They were handsome men of a Dantesque type, and their mothers and wives probably fair women, the men, especially, different in appearance from the preceding race. Rameses I was the tutelary deity of the shrine. He stands swathed and crowned like Osiris, with the pointed and upturned beard peculiar to the gods, worshipped, in one picture, by his own son, Seti I, and in another by his grandson, Rameses II.

“In Egypt every man,” especially if he were of royal birth, “received, after death, by courtesy, the title of Osiris, because it was hoped he had attained blessedness in the bosom of the god.”

Queen Tuaa stands behind her husband, and Miss Edwards finds in her delicate but slightly angular profile a resemblance to some of the portraits of Queen Elizabeth. In Rameses II she says “the beauty of the race culminates. The artists of the Egyptian Renaissance, always great in profile portraits, are nowhere seen to better advantage than in this series.”

[210]

A statue of the Lady Nai, in the Louvre, may give some idea of the dress of this period, the nineteenth dynasty. She wears a long wig, with a band round her head, a tight garment of linen, not unlike the modern chemise, only narrower, and a strip of linen hanging down in front.

This temple of El Kurneh is at the entrance of the valley of the Tombs of the Kings, and the cutting is called by the Arabs Bab-el-Molook, “gate of the Sultan.” The road is narrow and stony, its desert sands dazzling in the brilliant sunshine, leading to a lonely and sepulchral glen, honeycombed with the tombs of past dignitaries, nobles, priests and monarchs.

Here and there, as we study the history of Egypt, is a link with the Bible story, though nothing very definite has yet been discovered. It is believed by some writers that Moses and Aaron lived in the age of Seti I, and that Moses was brought up with the youthful Rameses II. Others make the time somewhat later, and think that the princess who rescued the deliverer of the Israelites from the water was one of the many daughters of the great Sesostris.

Thebes was probably Queen Tuaa’s principal residence, and the palace saw many partings, since with warriors for husband, sons and grandsons, if the queen survived so long, they must have been frequently absent, and she must needs have passed some anxious hours. But so essentially was war the trade of the monarchs of ancient times, and in the lives of their female relatives so much a matter of course, that it would seem[211] as if the feminine heart must have become somewhat hardened. Doubtless the royal lady looked forward to receiving a victor laden with spoils. We almost seem to hear the burden of the refrain, “Have they not sped, have they not divided the prey, to every man a damsel or two, to Sisera a prey of diverse colors of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?” What matter to the conqueror, or even to his consort, if thousands of lives paid the price?

Seti I was “a man of blood,” and is spoken of as “a jackal which rushes leaping through the land, a grim lion that frequents the more hidden paths of all regions, a powerful bull with a sharpened pair of horns.” His chariot horses were called “Amon gives him strength.” But if, in Scripture language, he chastised the people “with whips,” Rameses II, his son, “chastised them with scorpions.”

Side by side with his father fought the youthful hero, and we are reminded by them of a similar pair in more modern history, Edward III of England and the Black Prince. Chief among the wars was that against Khita, or Hittites, from which, as Queen Tuaa anticipated, Seti I returned victorious. He came laden with rich booty, silver, gold, blue, green, red and other precious stones. At the frontier the priests, nobles and great men met him with gifts and flowers—conqueror, as he was reported to be, of thirteen peoples and many cities. And we cannot doubt that the palace, too, by Queen Tuaa’s orders, was specially[212] beautified and decorated with plants and flowers in honor of the victor’s return. Booty and prisoners were dedicated to the god Amon, his wife Mut, and his son Khonsu.

Little, perhaps, did Queen Tuaa then imagine that one of her daughters-in-law, a princess of Khita, would be from among the conquered people. But so it proved, when Rameses II formed an alliance with the King of Khita and took his daughter to wife; but Queen Tuaa may not have lived to see the union, since Rameses II in earlier times had probably already provided himself with a wife.

Queen Tuaa must have viewed with interest, as did Queen Mertytefs of the fourth dynasty, the magnificent architectural works of her husband. In one case a temple of the gods, which yet recorded the king’s own power, and in the other the tomb or monument which should keep before the eyes of all future generations the name of its builder. The temple lies largely in ruins, but the older structure has withstood to a much greater degree the ravages of time and the wanton destruction of man.

The city of Thebes was magnificent with temples and palaces, and was built on both sides of the Nile, the flat plain stretched away to the mountains, and against the blue of the cloudless sky rose its towers and pylons, its colossal columns and statues. Clusters or avenues of palms lent a light but grateful shade from the sun’s unveiled brightness, and added a touch of living green to the azure of the firmament and creamy[213] whiteness of some of the buildings. Others were of different colors, giving a jewel-like effect at a distance in the rays of the brilliant sun. In some instances the trade or profession of the owner was pictured on the front walls. The streets were crowded with people; beasts of burden, heavily laden, made their way slowly along. Vendors of all sorts lined the sides of the street, and a hubbub of voices rose constantly. In the grander objects Nature had furnished the model, the mountain summits suggested the form of the pyramid and the caves of the Nile valley the temples.

The temple of Luxor, or El Uksor, was near the river, but faced from it toward that of Karnak, and a long avenue of sphinxes, a mile in extent, connected the two. What one king began, another added to, and a third, perhaps, finished; thus Seti I, and his, in some respects, greater son, are, in their architectural works, constantly associated, together. The sculpture of Siti, however, is considered the finer. The interiors of the temples were often gloomy and dim, but at the summer solstice the sun penetrated to the inner sanctuary of Karnak.

The grandeur of Karnak dwarfs that of Luxor, and the Hypostyle Hall, built by Seti I for the celebration of religious festivals, in which Queen Tuaa may have taken part, is, even in its ruined state, one of the wonders of the world. In recent times some of the columns have fallen. The temple was one hundred and seventy feet in length, three hundred and twenty-nine in width,[214] and supported by one hundred and thirty-four columns, as large in circumference, though not so high, as the Vendome column in Paris. The central lines are seventy feet in height and twelve in diameter, while those on either side are forty in height and nine in diameter. The effect of the great hall with its forest of columns is awe-inspiring; one writer after another describes himself as empty of words and dumb before it. No matter how familiar one may be with the place from descriptions of it, previously read, this remains true, just as the Taj Mahal, in India, is to the eye of each new gazer a dream of beauty. Says one writer: “Karnak is to Egyptian architecture what the Parthenon is to Greek, the Pantheon to Roman, and Notre Dame in Paris to Medieval; but it is far grander than them all.”

Seti’s battles and Seti’s victories have passed away, but Seti’s temple stands, eternal almost as the mountains. Walls and columns were decorated with sculptures, begun by the father, finished by the son, those of Seti on the north, of Rameses on the south wall. Those of Seti are the finer, and represent the king in his chariot doing battle with his enemies, while on the columns both monarchs are presenting offerings to the gods. The statues and the sacred lakes, which formed part of the temple adjuncts, correspond in size. At the present time this great temple is spoken of as the greatest ruin in the world, the crowning triumph of Egyptian art.

The winged disk, symbolizing the victory of Horus over Typhon, was, by command of the[215] god Thoth, placed over all entrances. At the gate of the temple of Karnak was a representation of the coronation of Rameses I, father of a celebrated son and more celebrated grandson. The winter of 1897-8 saw the discovery of the tomb of Osiris, and the god kings Horus and Set, remains from the time of Seti I.

The name of the architect of the magnificent Hypostile Hall is preserved, and the Glyptohek in Munich possesses a statute of this Michael Angelo of his time, as Miss Edwards calls him. An old man with a beard, in a loose robe, sitting upon the ground, lost in meditation. High priest and first prophet of Amon under Seti, he became, under Rameses, the chief architect of the Thebaid, and royally commissioned to embellish the temples. He was called Bak-en-Khonsu.

The oldest map in existence is said to be that of a gold mine worked by Seti I, which furnished perhaps some of the means for his great architectural undertakings, but which was worked to still better advantage by his son.

Seti I reigned about twenty-seven years, was buried with great honors, and his memory was kept fresh by the devotion of his son; but Queen Ti, or Tuaa, though described on the monuments as “royal wife, royal mother, and heiress and sharer of the throne,” seems to fade out of sight, perhaps dying before him, and the profile on the wall remains to us the strongest image of her.

Seven hundred ushebti were said to have been buried with Seti, images of slaves who were to accompany and wait upon him in the land of[216] Amenti. A curious little dialogue between master and servants is preserved. The deceased says, “O ye figures, be ye ever watchful to work, to plough, to sow the fields, to water the canals and to carry sand from the east and from the west.” The figures reply, “Here am I when thou callest.”

Seti’s name is given as “Ra-user-Kheperu-meri-Amen Seb-Ra-Seti-Mer-en-ptah,” His tomb was discovered by Belzoni in 1817, and is one of the most beautiful ever found, the sarcophagus, in which the body was originally placed, being of the finest alabaster, delicately sculptured both outside and within. This was eventually purchased by an Englishman and rests in the Sloan Museum. Seti is spoken of as the “justified,” and hence had successfully passed the great tribunal to which all the departed were subjected.

But the grave afforded no permanent resting-place for the great monarch, warrior and builder. His mummy, his veritable self, with that of his son and many other kings and queens, is in the museum at Gizeh. Even from these withered remains we can judge that Seti was an unusually handsome man. The Louvre contains a full-length portrait of Seti I, cut out bodily from the walls of the sepulchre in the Tombs of the Kings. Placed in a tomb, from which he was removed to that of Queen Ansera, for fear of robbers, it was eventually broken into, and after other like journeys and removals he is now the object of the curious or interested gaze of the passing traveler. The mummy is said to be one of the finest[217] ever found, and clearly shows his claim to beauty, even preserving to a certain degree the expression of his face.

There is a figure of Seti I in the British Museum, and smaller memorials of him in other collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of New York. Of one of the paintings in his tomb, Lady Duff Gordon says: “The face of the goddess of the Western shore Amenti. Athar or Hecate is ravishing, and she welcomes the king to her regions; death was never painted so lovely.” Was it possible that with the artist’s conception of the goddess might mingle a memory of the dead Queen Tuaa, with whom her royal spouse had now joined company; we can but surmise.

Turn we next to the consideration of the wives of that much married man, Rameses II.


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