With the accession of Amenhotep IL, we reach the second stage in the history of the Egyptian Empire-the stage in which, for a few brief years, it remains poised on the summit of its achievement, before it begins the inevitable declension. The one mark which is common to all these monarchies and empires of the ancient world, and which distinguishes them sharply from the more broadly-based, and therefore, generally speaking, more stable empires of later times, is that they rest almost entirely upon character. The forceful character of the founder of the empire builds up the fabric; if his successors can show themselves to be possessed, even in a more
moderate degree, of something of the same energy, the work will remain comparatively stable; but let a weakling or a ruler whose ideas diverge too widely from the general consensus of opinion come to the throne, and the empire dissolves as rapidly as it was created-sometimes the decline is even more tragically rapid. Rarely does an ancient empire maintain itself, once the falling off in energy has definitely declared itself in the ruling line, for the simple reason that the centralisation of all power and authority in the monarch's hands gave no chance for the establishment of a great governing machine, like that which in the case of the Roman Empire maintained the stability of the great fabric for centuries during which the nominal ruler was sometimes merely incompetent, and sometimes very little removed from a raving madman. I t is but seldom that a single governing line maintains its efficiency beyond two or three generations at the same high level which marked its rise to power; and the result is the constant fluctuation which is a characteristic feature of nearly all the great states of the ancient world. The governing machine never gets time to get thoroughly established and going with sufficient momentum to carry it over the obstacles caused by the incompetence of the weak successors of the empire-builders. This feature is manifest in the constant fluctuations of Assyrian power, and notably also in the case of the Hittite Empire, while the one seeming exception to the rule, the six centuries of sluggish Kassite sway in Babylonia, only proves the rule. The Kassites, .faineants as they were, certainly maintained their dynastic rule for six hundred years; but during that time Babylon almost ceased to count as an important factor in the decision of the destiny of the
ancient world. Babylon, besides, had an almost unique tradition, and the nearest approach to a traditional governing machine to be found in the ancient east.