Nectanebo II

Nectanebo II

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Nectanebo II was the third and last pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 of the Thirtieth dynasty
Thirtieth dynasty of Egypt
The Thirtieth Dynasty of ancient Egypt followed Nectanebo I's deposition of Nefaarud II, the son of Hakor. This dynasty is often considered part of the Late Period....

, as well as the last native ruler of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Under Nectanebo II Egypt prospered. During his reign the Egyptian artists delivered a specific style that left a distinctive mark on the relief sculpture of the Ptolemaic era
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

. Like his indirect predecessor Nectanebo I, Nectanebo II showed enthusiasm for nearly every Egyptian cult and more than a hundred Egyptian sites bear evidence of his attentions. Nectanebo II, however, undertook more constructions and restorations than Nectanebo I, commencing in particular the enormous temple
Egyptian temple
Egyptian temples were built for the official worship of the gods and commemoration of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and in regions under Egyptian control. These temples were seen as houses for the gods or kings to whom they were dedicated...

 of Isis
Isis
Isis or in original more likely Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic...

 (Iseum
Iseum
An Iseum, also spelled Isaeum, is a sanctuary for the worshippers of the Greco-Roman god Isis. Isis was originally an Egyptian goddess who became hellenised. Many Iseums still exist today. They include the temple of Isis at Pompeii, a dedication at the Egyptian complex at Philae, and a scattering...

).

For several years Nectanebo II was successful in keeping Egypt safe from the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

. Betrayed by his former servant Mentor of Rhodes
Mentor of Rhodes
Mentor of Rhodes was a Greek mercenary who fought both for and against Artaxerxes III of Persia. He is also known as the first husband of Barsine, who later became mistress to Alexander the Great....

, however, Nectanebo II was ultimately defeated by the combined Persian-Greek forces in the Battle of Pelusium. In 342 BC the Persians occupied Memphis and the rest of Egypt, incorporating the country back into the Achaemenid Empire. Nectanebo fled south and preserved his power for some time; his subsequent fate is unknown.

Portraits


Except the small-scale greywacke
Greywacke
Greywacke or Graywacke is a variety of sandstone generally characterized by its hardness, dark color, and poorly sorted angular grains of quartz, feldspar, and small rock fragments or lithic fragments set in a compact, clay-fine matrix. It is a texturally immature sedimentary rock generally found...

 statue in the Metropolitan Museum, which shows Nectanebo II standing before the image of Horus
Horus
Horus is one of the oldest and most significant deities in the Ancient Egyptian religion, who was worshipped from at least the late Predynastic period through to Greco-Roman times. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists...

, no other annotated portraits of Nectanebo II are known. In the greywacke statue, Nectanebo II is shown in a nemes
Nemes
The nemes was the striped headcloth worn by pharaohs in ancient Egypt. It covered the whole crown and back of the head and nape of the neck and had two large flaps which hung down behind the ears and in front of both shoulders. It was sometimes combined with the double crown, as it is on the...

and uraeus
Uraeus
The Uraeus is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian spitting cobra , used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt.The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet, who was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and who...

.
His bent arm with the sword stands for the hieroglyph nakht, the falcon represents Horus, while the hieroglyph in Nectanebo's right hand stands for heb. Other portraits attributed to Nectanebo II (all featuring the khepresh
Khepresh
The Khepresh was an ancient Egyptian royal headdress. It is also known as the blue crown or war crown. New Kingdom pharaohs are often shown wearing it in battle, but it was also frequently worn in ceremonies...

) include a quartzite
Quartzite
Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. Pure quartzite is usually white to gray, though quartzites often occur in various shades of pink...

 head in the museum of the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

, a basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 head in Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, a granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 head, acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and a damaged quartzite head.

Rise to power


In 525 BC Egypt was subjected to the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

. Because of internal struggles for the royal succession in the empire Egypt managed to regain independence in 404 BC. The Persians, however, persevered to reclaim Egypt. In 389 BC, pharaoh Hakor
Hakor
Hakor, or Akoris, was the Pharaoh of Egypt from 393 BC to 380 BC. Hakor overthrew his predecessor Psammuthes and falsely proclaimed himself to be the grandson of Nepherites I, founder of the 29th Dynasty, on his monuments in order to legitimise his kingship...

 negotiated a treaty with Athens
Classical Athens
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was a notable polis of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias...

 and for three years (from 385 to 383 BC) managed to withstand the Persian attempts to reconquer Egypt. However, following the conclusion of the Peace of Antalcidas
Peace of Antalcidas
The Peace of Antalcidas , also known as the King's Peace, was a peace treaty guaranteed by the Persian King Artaxerxes II that ended the Corinthian War in ancient Greece. The treaty's alternate name comes from Antalcidas, the Spartan diplomat who traveled to Susa to negotiate the terms of the...

 in 387 BC between Persia and the Greek city-states, Egypt and Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 became the only obstacles to Persian hegemony in the Mediterranean. At the beginning of 360 BC, Nectanebo's predecessor Teos
Teos
Teos or Teo was a maritime city of Ionia, on a peninsula between Chytrium and Myonnesus, colonized by Orchomenian Minyans, Ionians, and Boeotians. The city is situated on a low hilly narrow strip of land connecting two larger areas of land . Teos ranked among twelve cities comprising the Ionian...

 started preparations for war against intruders. In the same year, the Egyptian army set off, travelling along the coast by land and sea. Nectanebo II accompanied his uncle Teos in that campaign and was in charge of the machimoi. In an attempt to raise finances for the war quickly, Teos imposed taxes on Egyptians and seized temple property. Egyptians, particularly the priests, resented those measures and supported Nectanebo II. Teos asked Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

n military leader Agesilaus
Agesilaus
Agesilaus was a Greek historian who wrote a work on the early history of Italy, fragments of which are preserved in Plutarch's "Parallel Lives", and in Stobaeus' Florilegium....

 and Athenian general Chabrias
Chabrias
Chabrias was a celebrated Athenian general of the 4th century BC. In 388 BC he defeated the Spartans and Aeginetans under Gorgopas at Aegina and commanded the fleet sent to assist Evagoras, king of Cyprus, against the Persians. In 378, when Athens entered into an alliance with Thebes against...

 to preserve support for him. Agesilaus, however, said he was sent to aid Egypt and not to wage war against it. Chabrias with his mercenaries returned home. Teos decided to flee to the Persian court, where he ultimately died of natural causes.

Nectanebo further contended with an unknown pretender to the throne from the town of Djedet, who proclaimed himself pharaoh. The revolt was probably led by one of the descendants of Nepherites, whose family had ruled the town before. The claimant sent messengers to Agesilaus in an attempt to persuade Agesilaus to his side. Agesilaus remained loyal to Nectanebo, fearing to become a turncoat and betrayer. At one of the towns in the Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

 the troops of Nectanebo and Agesilaus were besieged by the usurper, who had gained many sympathisers. Despite the enemy's numerical superiority, Nectanebo and Agesilaus were victorious and the revolt was put down in the fall of 360 BC. Acknowledging Agesialus, Nectanebo sent him 220 talents of gold.

Reign


Religion played an important part in Nectanebo's domestic policy. He began his reign by officiating over the funeral of an Apis bull in Memphis. There Nectanebo added a relief decoration to the eastern and western temples
Egyptian temple
Egyptian temples were built for the official worship of the gods and commemoration of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and in regions under Egyptian control. These temples were seen as houses for the gods or kings to whom they were dedicated...

 of Apis. Among notable sanctuaries, erected under Nectanebo II, are a temple of Khnum in Abu
Elephantine
Elephantine is an island in the River Nile, located just downstream of the First Cataract at the southern border of Ancient Egypt. This region is referred to as Upper Egypt because the land is higher than that near the Mediterranean coast. The island may have received its name because it was a...

 and a temple of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

 at Sekhtam
Siwa Oasis
The Siwa Oasis is an oasis in Egypt, located between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea in the Libyan Desert, nearly 50 km east of the Libyan border, and 560 km from Cairo....

. He also dedicated a diorite
Diorite
Diorite is a grey to dark grey intermediate intrusive igneous rock composed principally of plagioclase feldspar , biotite, hornblende, and/or pyroxene. It may contain small amounts of quartz, microcline and olivine. Zircon, apatite, sphene, magnetite, ilmenite and sulfides occur as accessory...

 naos
Cella
A cella or naos , is the inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture, or a shop facing the street in domestic Roman architecture...

to Anhur-Shu
Anhur
In early Egyptian mythology, Anhur was originally a god of war who was worshipped in the Egyptian area of Abydos, and particularly in Thinis...

 (a fragment of it was found in the temples of Tjebnutjer
Sebennytos
Sebennytos or Sebennytus or Egyptian: Tjebnutjer Arabic: سمنود Samannud was an ancient city of Lower Egypt, located on the Damietta branch of the Nile in the delta...

). Nectanebo II was responsible for the increasing popularity of the Bakha
Bakha
In Egyptian mythology, Buchis was the manifestation of the a deification of Ka of the war god Menthu, worshipped in the region of Hermonthis...

 cult. Under Nectanebo II a decree, forbidding the stone quarrying in the so-called Mysterious Mountains in Abydos
Abydos, Egypt
Abydos is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt, and also of the eight Upper Nome, of which it was the capital city. It is located about 11 kilometres west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of el-'Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana...

, was issued.

Foreign affairs under Nectanebo II were thwarted by repeated Persian attempts to reoccupy Egypt. Before the accession of Nectanebo II to the throne, Persians attempted to reclaim Egypt in 385, 383, and 373 BC. Nectanebo used the peace to build up a new army and employed Greek mercenaries, which was a usual practice at the time. In about 351 BC the Persians embarked on a new attempt to reclaim Egypt. After a year of fighting Nectanebo and his allied generals Diophantus of Athens and Lamius of Sparta managed to defeat the Persians. Having scored a resounding victory over the Persians, Nectanebo II was acclaimed as "Nectanebo the divine falcon" by his people and cults were set up in his name. In 345/44 BC Nectanebo supported the Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n rebellion against the Persians, led by the king of Sidon
Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

 Tennes and dispatched a military aid of 4,000 Greek mercenaries, led by Mentor of Rhodes
Mentor of Rhodes
Mentor of Rhodes was a Greek mercenary who fought both for and against Artaxerxes III of Persia. He is also known as the first husband of Barsine, who later became mistress to Alexander the Great....

. However, having heard of the approach of the forces of Artaxerxes III, Mentor opened communication with the Persians in collusion with Tennes.

At the end of 344 BC ambassadors of Artaxerxes III arrived in Greece asking for the Greeks' participation in a campaign against Egypt. Athens and Sparta treated the ambassadors with courtesy, but refrained from concluding an alliance against Egypt. Other cities, however, decided to support the Persians: Thebes
Ancient Thebes (Boeotia)
See Thebes, Greece for the modern city built on the ancient ruins.Ancient Thebes was a Boeotian city-state , situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain...

 sent 1,000 hoplite
Hoplite
A hoplite was a citizen-soldier of the Ancient Greek city-states. Hoplites were primarily armed as spearmen and fought in a phalanx formation. The word "hoplite" derives from "hoplon" , the type of the shield used by the soldiers, although, as a word, "hopla" could also denote weapons held or even...

s
and Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

 3,000. In the winter of 343 BC Artaxerxes set off for Egypt. The Egyptian army, headed by Nectanebo, consisted of 60,000 Egyptians, 20,000 Libyans and as many Greek mercenaries. In addition Nectanebo had a number of flat-bottomed boats to prevent an enemy from entering the Nile mouths. The vulnerable points along his Mediterranean sea border and east boundary were protected by strongholds, fortifications and entrenched camps. Persian forces were strengthened by Mentor and his men, well acquainted with the eastern border of Egypt, and by 6,000 Ionians
Ionians
The Ionians were one of the four major tribes into which the Classical Greeks considered the population of Hellenes to have been divided...

.

Nectanebo II was ultimately defeated and in the summer of 342 BC Artaxerxes had entered Memphis, where the Persians installed a satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

.
Nectanebo fled to Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

 and finally to Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

, where he was granted asylum. He, however, preserved the power for some time. With the help of Chababash Nectanebo made a vain attempt to regain the throne.

Nectanebo and the Alexander Romance



There is an apocryphal tale, appearing in the pseudo-historical Alexander Romance
Alexander Romance
Alexander romance is any of several collections of legends concerning the mythical exploits of Alexander the Great. The earliest version is in Greek, dating to the 3rd century. Several late manuscripts attribute the work to Alexander's court historian Callisthenes, but the historical figure died...

, which details another end for the last Egyptian Pharaoh of Egypt
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

. Soon after Alexander the Great's godhood was confirmed by the Oracle of Zeus Ammon, a rumor was begun that Nectanebo II did not travel to Nubia but instead to the court of Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

 in the guise of an Egyptian magician. There, while Philip was away on campaign, Nectanebo convinced his wife Olympias
Olympias
Olympias was a Greek princess of Epirus, daughter of king Neoptolemus I of Epirus, the fourth wife of the king of Macedonia, Philip II, and mother of Alexander the Great...

 that Amun was to come to her and that they would father a son. Nectanebo, disguising himself as Amun, slept with Olympias and from his issue came Alexander. This myth would hold strong appeal for Egyptians who desired continuity and harbored a strong dislike for foreign rule.

In the early Ptolemaic tale of Nectanebo and Petesis, only preserved in a Greek fragment from the Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

 Serapeum
Serapeum
A serapeum is a temple or other religious institution dedicated to the syncretic Hellenistic-Egyptian god Serapis, who combined aspects of Osiris and Apis in a humanized form that was accepted by the Ptolemaic Greeks of Alexandria...

, the Pharaoh has a prophetic dream of Isis
Isis
Isis or in original more likely Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic...

, in which the god Onuris is angry with him because of his unfinished temple in Sebennytos
Sebennytos
Sebennytos or Sebennytus or Egyptian: Tjebnutjer Arabic: سمنود Samannud was an ancient city of Lower Egypt, located on the Damietta branch of the Nile in the delta...

. Nectanebo calls in the best sculptor of the realm, Petesis, to finish the job, but he bungles his assignment when he gets drunk and chases a beautiful girl instead. The narrative ends abruptly here, but this is probably the preface to the fall of Egypt to the Persians.

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