After the four months' reign of his son Nepherites II, the kingship passed
into the hands of a general from Sebennytus. Manetho's THIRTIETH
DYNASTY consists of three members, the names of the first and third
being presented to him in so similar a form (Nectanebes and Nectanebos)
that they are best discarded in favor of the etymologically quite distinct
Nekhtnebef and Nekhtharehbe. Of these two, though their relative order
has often been disputed, it is now certain that Nekhtnebef was the earlier.
The multitude of his monuments might leave the impression of unbroken
peace and prosperity. The oldest parts of Philae were built by him. At
Edfu he was remembered as the donor of much land to the temple of
Horus. A great stela at Ashmunen (Hermopolis Magna) records extensive
additions to the temples of the goddess Nehmet'away, of the primeval
Ogdoad, and of the twice-great Thoth himself; and a finely inscribed
inscription from Naucratis commemorates the imposition of a ten (10)
percent duty on imports to that town and on good manufactured in it. The
proceeds to be devoted to the enrichment of the goddess Neith of Sais. But
a very different story emerges from the Greek historians of whom
Diodorus is once again the foremost representative. Artaxerxes II
(404-359 BC) was still reigning in Persia and as determined as ever that
Egypt should be humbled and reduced to her former dependent condition.
However, his preparations for the invasion proceeded only very slowly.
First he insisted on Athens recalling from Egypt the able Chabrias, who
had thereafter to content himself with a military post at home. It was not
until 373 BC that the great Persian host, led by the satrap Pharnabazus and
the commander of his Greek mercenaries Iphicrates, set forth from Acre.
On reaching Pelusium it was realized that an attack from that quarter was
hopeless, but that on or other of the less well-fortified Nile mouths held
out better prospects. And so it turned out, the barrier of the Mendesian
branch was breached, and many Egyptians were killed or captured.
Against the will of Pharnabazus Iphicrates sought to push on to Memphis.
While the antagonism between the two commanders delayed the Persian
effort, Nekhtnebef's forces gathered strength and encircled the besieged
invaders on all sides. The inundation of the Nile now intervened as a
welcome ally. Such parts of the Delta as were not a lake became a swamp
and the Persians were forced to retreat. For the second time Egypt
The next years were marked by rebellions of the satraps everywhere, in
the course of which Nekhtnebef found protection for himself by subsidies
of gold to the various combatants. When he died in 363 BC he was
succeeded by his son Teos, or Tachos as some Greek writers call him,
Nehktnebef's father had borne the same name. The time seemed ripe for a
direct attack on the Persians. The aged Spartan king Agesilaus arrived in
Egypt with 1000 hoplites, where the Athenian Chabrias joined him. In the
attack on Phoenicia which ensued (360 BC) Teos insisted on commanding
his own Egyptians. Agesilaus, enraged a the mirth excited by his odd
appearance and demeanor, lent his support to the young Nekhtharehbe
whom a large party of followers put up as a rival to Teos. The entire
expedition was a fiasco. Nekhtharehbe returned to Egypt as Pharaoh, and
Teos fled to Persia, where he lived and died in exile.
Looked at from the Egyptian angle, the reign of Nekhtharehbe (360-343
BC) might seem an almost exact replica of that of Nekhtnebef. Both kings
ruled for eighteen years and the building activity of both was immense.
But meanwhile world-shaking events were preparing. The accession of
Artaxerxes III Ochus (358 BC) put new life into the tottering Persian
Empire. Order was restored among the satraps of Asia Minor, but the
energy required for the effort precluded the thought of any attack upon
Egypt. By 350 BC, however, Ochus was ready. No details are known, but
this was a complete failure, with the result that revolts against the Persian
domination broke out everywhere. Phoenicia and Cyprus were in the
forefront of the rebels. Long before this Greek soldiers and Greek
commanders were the greatest asset upon which either side could count.
But Egypt was the most important objective on account of the gold and the
corn which she alone could supply in abundance, and a reconquest was an
absolute necessity. First, however, Phoenicia and Palestine had to be
dealt with. Sidon was the center of the revolt and had invited retaliation
by a violently destructive blow against the occupying Persians. In their
dread of what was to come of the Sidonians appealed to Egypt, but
Nekhtharehbe contented himself with sending a limited contingent of
Greek mercenaries under Mentor of Rhodes. Diodorus (xvi. 40-51) tells
the story of the next few years in great detail which can only be
summarized here. Ochus's preparations were on a vast scale, but even
before the arrival of every substantial forces from the Greek cities of the
mainland and of Asia Minor he was able in inflict horrible punishment
upon Sidon, whose treacherous king Tennes conspired with Mentor to
deliver up the city, whereupon the inhabitants burned their ships and many
of them sought voluntary death in the flames of their own homes.
In the autumn of 343 BC the Persian army set forth upon its momentous
campaign against Egypt, the Great King himself at its head. Pelusium was
the first Egyptian town to be attacked and put up a stiff resistance. Ochus
had, however, planned simultaneous entry into the Delta at three different
places, and it was near one of the western Nile mouths that penetration
was achieved. The inundation season was at an end so that the disaster of
thirty years earlier was no longer to be feared. Misfortune attended the
defenders from the start. Sallying forth from the neighboring fortress the
Greek mercenaries under Cleinias of Cos were heavily defeated and he
himself was killed. The terror-stricken Nekhtharehbe, instead of standing
his ground, retreated to Memphis, which he put in readiness for a siege.
But meanwhile Pelusium had been taken, the garrison surrendering under
the promise that those who did so would be well treated. A similar
assurance was given elsewhere and soon Egyptians and Greeks were
vying with one another which of them should be the earliest to avail
themselves of this clemency. The third corps under Mentor and Ochus's
close friend and associate Bagoas had also met with success. The capture
of Bubastis by the combined forces was an important event, after which
the other Delta towns capitulated with all haste. Egypt was now at
Ochus's mercy, and Nekhtharehbe, realizing the situation to be hopeless,
gathered together so much of his belongings as he could and departed
upstream 'to Ethiopia', after which nothing more is heard of him.