Once seated on the throne by the help of his little puppet-show, Horemheb showed himself a firm and capable ruler-precisely the type of man Egypt needed. On the whole, justice has scarcely been done by the historians of Egypt to his work of reconstruction. Placed as he is between the strangely attractive failure of Akhenaten, and the grandiose achievements of Ramses I I., he figures rather as a dull interlude between two bright chapters. This, however, is scarcely fair to a king who, if he was not a man of genius, and though he was certainly a reactionary, was at all events a good, honest business man, who knew what his country needed, and did his utmost to give it to her. Picking up the pieces after a great catastrophe is not work in which anyone can win much glory j but it is highly necessary, if the stage is to be cleared for the efforts of the star-performers who are shortly to appear. It was the dull but conscientious H oremheb who prepared the way for the briHiant

Of far greater importance and worth was the second 428

part of his work. This was the re-establishment of law and order throughout the land, and, what was of not less moment, the supervising of the custodians of law and order. The East has always been the happy huntingground of official corruption, and in a succession of reigns, either weak or occupied with other matters to too great an extent to attend to the administration of justice, things had got into a deplorable condition, and corruption was universal. The local officials and tax-collectors pillaged the common people mercilessly, and what they spared was taken by the bands of soldiers, who should have enforced local order, but who, in the existing laxity of all things, robbed the peasants of the little that was left to them. Horemheb personally investigated these abuses, and when his investigation was complete, made known his will with regard to them with a plainness and thoroughness which left nothing to be desired. The unjust local official or tax-farmer had his nose slit, so that everybody could see the kind of man they were dealing with j then he was banished to Zaru, the frontier-town of the north-east, a sentence equivalent to the old Roman one of the mines, or the Russian Siberian exile. The pilfering soldier was sharply taught that looting was no longer to be tolerated: "As for any citizen of the army concerning whom one shall hear, saying, 'He goeth about stealing hides' j beginning with this day the law shall be executed against him by beating him with a hundred blows, opening five wounds, and taking away the hides which he took."