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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Canda´ce, or, more correctly, Kandake, was the name of that queen of the Ethiopians whose high treasurer was converted to Christianity under the preaching of Philip the Evangelist (). The country over which she ruled was not, as some writers allege, what is known to us as Abyssinia: it was that region in Upper Nubia which was called by the Greeks Meroë, and is supposed to correspond to the present province of Atbara, lying between 13° and 18° north latitude. The city of Meroë stood near the present Assour, about twenty miles north of Shendy; and the extensive and magnificent ruins found not only there, but along the upper valley of the Nile, attest the art and civilization of the ancient Ethiopians. Meroë, from being long the center of commercial intercourse between Africa and the south of Asia, became one of the richest countries upon earth; the 'merchandise' and wealth of Ethiopia () was the theme of the poets both of Palestine and Greece; and since much of that affluence would find its way into the royal coffers, the circumstance gives emphasis to the phrase—'all the treasure' of Queen Candace. It is further interesting to know, from the testimonies of various profane authors, that for some time both before and after the Christian era, Ethiopia Proper was under the rule of female sovereigns, who all bore the appellation of 'Candace,' which was not so much a proper name as a distinctive title, common to every successive queen, like 'Pharaoh' and 'Ptolemy' to the kings of Egypt, and 'Caesar' to the emperors of Rome.

A curious confirmation of the fact of female sovereignty having prevailed in Ethiopia has been remarked on the existing monuments of the country. Thus, on the largest sepulchral pyramid near Assour, the ancient Meroë, a female warrior, with the royal ensigns on her head, drags forward a number of captives as offerings to the gods; on another compartment she is in a warlike habit, about to destroy the same group. Heeren, after describing the monuments at Naga, or Naka, south-east of Shendy, says, 'It is evident that these representations possess many peculiarities, and that they are not pure Egyptian. The most remarkable difference appears in the persons offering. The queens appear with the kings; and not merely as presenting offerings, but as heroines and conquerors. Nothing of this kind has yet been discovered on the Egyptian reliefs, either in Egypt or Nubia. It may therefore with certainty be concluded, that they are subjects peculiar to Ethiopia. It is singular enough, that when Bruce was at Shendy, the government of the district was in the hands of a female called Sittina, i.e. the lady or mistress. Irenæus and Eusebius ascribe to Candace's minister her own conversion to Christianity, and the promulgation of the Gospel throughout her kingdom: and with this agrees the Abyssinian tradition, that he was likewise the apostle of Tagré, that part of Abyssinia which lay nearest to Meroë; it is added that he afterwards preached the Gospel in Arabia Felix, and also in the island of Ceylon, where he suffered martyrdom.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Candace'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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