Page:Behemoth 1889.djvu/114

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has the manner of his life limited to him by the laws, and does all other things according to the custom of the country, neither rewarding nor punishing any man otherwise than from the beginning is established amongst them by law. Nor use they to put any man to death, though he be condemned to it, but to send some officer to him with a token of death; who seeing the token, goes presently to his house, and kills himself.” And presently after: “But the strangest thing of all is, that which they do concerning the death of their Kings. For the priests that live in Meroe, and spend their time about the worship and honour of their Gods, and are in greatest authority; when they have a mind to it, send a messenger to the King to bid him die, for that the Gods have given such order, and that the commandments of the immortals are not by any means to be neglected by those that are, by nature, mortal; using also other speeches to him, which men of simple judgment, and that have not reason enough to dispute against those unnecessary commands, as being educated in an old and indelible custom, are content to admit of. Therefore in former times the Kings did obey the priests, not as mastered by force and arms, but as having their reason mastered by superstition. But in the time of Ptolemy II., Ergamenes, King of the Æthiopians, having had his breeding in philosophy after the manner of the Greeks, being the first that durst despise their power, took heart as befitted a King; came with soldiers to a place called Abaton, where was then the golden temple of the Æthiopians; killed all the priests, abolished the custom, and rectified the kingdom according to his will.

B. Though they that were killed were damnable impostors, yet the act was cruel.

A. It was so. But were not the priests cruel, to cause their Kings, whom a little before they adored as Gods, to make away themselves? The King killed them, for the safety of his person; they him, out of ambition, or love of change. The King’s act may be coloured with the good of his people; the priests had no pretence against their kings, who were certainly very godly, or else would never have