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THE HISTORY OF HERODOTUS, Volume 1 by Herodotus

Part 4 out of 8

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94. Thus it is as regards the fish. And for anointing those of the
Egyptians who dwell in the fens use oil from the castor-berry,[80]
which oil the Egyptians call /kiki/, and thus they do:--they sow along
the banks of the rivers and pools these plants, which in a wild form
grow of themselves in the land of the Hellenes; these are sown in
Egypt and produce berries in great quantity but of an evil smell; and
when they have gathered these, some cut them up and press the oil from
them, others again roast them first and then boil them down and
collect that which runs away from them. The oil is fat and not less
suitable for burning than olive-oil, but it gives forth a disagreeable
smell. 95. Against the gnats, which are very abundant, they have
contrived as follows:--those who dwell above the fen-land are helped
by the towers, to which they ascend when they go to rest; for the
gnats by reason of the winds are not able to fly up high: but those
who dwell in the fen-land have contrived another way instead of the
towers, and this is it:--every man of them has got a casting net, with
which by day he catches fish, but in the night he uses it for this
purpose, that is to say he puts the casting-net round about the bed in
which he sleeps, and then creeps in under it and goes to sleep: and
the gnats, if he sleeps rolled up in a garment or a linen sheet, bite
through these, but through the net they do not even attempt to bite.

96. Their boats with which they carry cargoes are made of the thorny
acacia, of which the form is very like that of the Kyrenian lotos, and
that which exudes from it is gum. From this tree they cut pieces of
wood about two cubits in length and arrange them like bricks,
fastening the boat together by running a great number of long bolts
through the two-cubit pieces; and when they have thus fastened the
boat together, they lay cross-pieces[81] over the top, using no ribs
for the sides; and within they caulk the seams with papyrus. They make
one steering-oar for it, which is passed through the bottom of the
boat; and they have a mast of acacia and sails of papyrus. These boats
cannot sail up the river unless there be a very fresh wind blowing,
but are towed from the shore: down-stream however they travel as
follows:--they have a door-shaped crate made of tamarisk wood and reed
mats sewn together, and also a stone of about two talents weight bored
with a hole; and of these the boatman lets the crate float on in front
of the boat, fastened with a rope, and the stone drag behind by
another rope. The crate then, as the force of the stream presses upon
it, goes on swiftly and draws on the /baris/ (for so these boats are
called), while the stone dragging after it behind and sunk deep in the
water keeps its course straight. These boats they have in great
numbers and some of them carry many thousands of talents' burden.

97. When the Nile comes over the land, the cities alone are seen
rising above the water, resembling more nearly than anything else the
islands in the Egean sea; for the rest of Egypt becomes a sea and the
cities alone rise above water. Accordingly, whenever this happens,
they pass by water not now by the channels of the river but over the
midst of the plain: for example, as one sails up from Naucratis to
Memphis the passage is then close by the pyramids, whereas the usual
passage is not the same even here,[82] but goes by the point of the
Delta and the city of Kercasoros; while if you sail over the plain to
Naucratis from the sea and from Canobos, you will go by Anthylla and
the city called after Archander. 98. Of these Anthylla is a city of
note and is especially assigned to the wife of him who reigns over
Egypt, to supply her with sandals, (this is the case since the time
when Egypt came to be under the Persians): the other city seems to me
to have its name from Archander the son-in-law of Danaos, who was the
son of Phthios, the son of Achaios; for it is called the City of
Archander. There might indeed be another Archander, but in any case
the name is not Egyptian.


99. Hitherto my own observation and judgment and inquiry are the
vouchers for that which I have said; but from this point onwards I am
about to tell the history of Egypt according to that which I heard, to
which will be added also something of that which I have myself seen.

Of Min, who first became king of Egypt, the priests said that on the
one hand he banked off the site of Memphis from the river: for the
whole stream of the river used to flow along by the sandy mountain-
range on the side of Libya, but Min formed by embankments that bend of
the river which lies to the South about a hundred furlongs above
Memphis, and thus he dried up the old stream and conducted the river
so that it flowed in the middle between the mountains: and even now
this bend of the Nile is by the Persians kept under very careful
watch, that it may flow in the channel to which it is confined,[83]
and the bank is repaired every year; for if the river should break
through and overflow in this direction, Memphis would be in danger of
being overwhelmed by flood. When this Min, who first became king, had
made into dry land the part which was dammed off, on the one hand, I
say, he founded in it that city which is now called Memphis; for
Memphis too is in the narrow part of Egypt;[84] and outside the city
he dug round it on the North and West a lake communicating with the
river, for the side towards the East is barred by the Nile itself.
Then secondly he established in the city the temple of Hephaistos a
great work and most worthy of mention. 100. After this man the priests
enumerated to me from a papyrus roll the names of other kings, three
hundred and thirty in number; and in all these generations of men
eighteen were Ethiopians, one was a woman, a native Egyptian, and the
rest were men and of Egyptian race: and the name of the woman who
reigned was the same as that of the Babylonian queen, namely Nitocris.
Of her they said that desiring to take vengeance for her brother, whom
the Egyptians had slain when he was their king and then, after having
slain him, had given his kingdom to her,--desiring, I say, to take
vengeance for him, she destroyed by craft many of the Egyptians. For
she caused to be constructed a very large chamber under ground, and
making as though she would handsel it but in her mind devising other
things, she invited those of the Egyptians whom she knew to have had
most part in the murder, and gave a great banquet. Then while they
were feasting, she let in the river upon them by a secret conduit of
large size. Of her they told no more than this, except that, when this
had been accomplished, she threw herself into a room full of embers,
in order that she might escape vengeance. 101. As for the other kings,
they could tell me of no great works which had been produced by them,
and they said that they had no renown[85] except only the last of
them, Moris: he (they said) produced as a memorial of himself the
gateway of the temple of Hephaistos which is turned towards the North
Wind, and dug a lake, about which I shall set forth afterwards how
many furlongs of circuit it has, and in it built pyramids of the size
which I shall mention at the same time when I speak of the lake
itself. He, they said, produced these works, but of the rest none
produced any.

102. Therefore passing these by I shall make mention of the king who
came after these, whose name was Sesostris. He (the priests said)
first of all set out with ships of war from the Arabian gulf and
subdued those who dwelt by the shores of the Erythraian Sea, until as
he sailed he came to a sea which could no further be navigated by
reason of shoals: then secondly, after he had returned to Egypt,
according to the report of the priests he took a great army[86] and
marched over the continent, subduing every nation which stood in his
way: and those of them whom he found valiant and fighting desperately
for their freedom, in their lands he set up pillars which told by
inscriptions his own name and the name of his country, and how he had
subdued them by his power; but as to those of whose cities he obtained
possession without fighting or with ease, on their pillars he
inscribed words after the same tenor as he did for the nations which
had shown themselves courageous, and in addition he drew upon them the
hidden parts of a woman, desiring to signify by this that the people
were cowards and effeminate. 103. Thus doing he traversed the
continent, until at last he passed over to Europe from Asia and
subdued the Scythians and also the Thracians. These, I am of opinion,
were the furthest[87] people to which the Egyptian army came, for in
their country the pillars are found to have been set up, but in the
land beyond this they are no longer found. From this point he turned
and began to go back; and when he came to the river Phasis, what
happened then I cannot say for certain, whether the king Sesostris
himself divided off a certain portion of his army and left the men
there as settlers in the land, or whether some of his soldiers were
wearied by his distant marches and remained by the river Phasis. 104.
For the people of Colchis are evidently Egyptian, and this I perceived
for myself before I heard it from others. So when I had come to
consider the matter I asked them both; and the Colchians had
remembrance of the Egyptians more than the Egyptians of the Colchians;
but the Egyptians said they believed that the Colchians were a portion
of the army of Sesostris. That this was so I conjectured myself not
only because they are dark-skinned and have curly hair (this of itself
amounts to nothing, for there are other races which are so), but also
still more because the Colchians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians alone of
all the races of men have practised circumcision from the first. The
Phenicians and the Syrians[88] who dwell in Palestine confess
themselves that they have learnt it from the Egyptians, and the
Syrians[89] about the river Thermodon and the river Parthenios, and
the Macronians, who are their neighbours, say that they have learnt it
lately from the Colchians. These are the only races of men who
practise circumcision, and these evidently practise it in the same
manner as the Egyptians. Of the Egyptians themselves however and the
Ethiopians, I am not able to say which learnt from the other, for
undoubtedly it is a most ancient custom; but that the other nations
learnt it by intercourse with the Egyptians, this among others is to
me a strong proof, namely that those of the Phenicians who have
intercourse with Hellas cease to follow the example of the Egyptians
in this matter, and do not circumcise their children. 105. Now let me
tell another thing about the Colchians to show how they resemble the
Egyptians:--they alone work flax in the same fashion as the
Egyptians,[90] and the two nations are like one another in their whole
manner of living and also in their language: now the linen of Colchis
is called by the Hellenes Sardonic, whereas that from Egypt is called
Egyptian. 106. The pillars which Sesostris of Egypt set up in the
various countries are for the most part no longer to be seen extant;
but in Syria Palestine I myself saw them existing with the inscription
upon them which I have mentioned and the emblem. Moreover in Ionia
there are two figures of this man carved upon rocks, one on the road
by which one goes from the land of Ephesos to Phocaia, and the other
on the road from Sardis to Smyrna. In each place there is a figure of
a man cut in the rock, of four cubits and a span in height, holding in
his right hand a spear and in his left a bow and arrows, and the other
equipment which he has is similar to this, for it is both Egyptian and
Ethiopian: and from the one shoulder to the other across the breast
runs an inscription carved in sacred Egyptian characters, saying thus,
"This land with my shoulders I won for myself." But who he is and from
whence, he does not declare in these places, though in other places he
has declared this. Some of those who have seen these carvings
conjecture that the figure is that of Memnon, but herein they are very
far from the truth.

107. As this Egyptian Sesostris was returning and bringing back many
men of the nations whose lands he had subdued, when he came (said the
priests) to Daphnai in the district of Pelusion on his journey home,
his brother to whom Sesostris had entrusted the charge of Egypt
invited him and with him his sons to a feast; and then he piled the
house round with brushwood and set it on fire: and Sesostris when he
discovered this forthwith took counsel with his wife, for he was
bringing with him (they said) his wife also; and she counselled him to
lay out upon the pyre two of his sons, which were six in number, and
so to make a bridge over the burning mass, and that they passing over
their bodies should thus escape. This, they said, Sesostris did, and
two of his sons were burnt to death in this manner, but the rest got
away safe with their father. 108. Then Sesostris, having returned to
Egypt and having taken vengeance on his brother, employed the
multitude which he had brought in of those whose lands he had subdued,
as follows:--these were they who drew the stones which in the reign of
this king were brought to the temple of Hephaistos, being of very
great size; and also these were compelled to dig all the channels
which now are in Egypt; and thus (having no such purpose) they caused
Egypt, which before was all fit for riding and driving, to be no
longer fit for this from thenceforth: for from that time forward
Egypt, though it is plain land, has become all unfit for riding and
driving, and the cause has been these channels, which are many and run
in all directions. But the reason why the king cut up the land was
this, namely because those of the Egyptians who had their cities not
on the river but in the middle of the country, being in want of water
when the river went down from them, found their drink brackish because
they had it from wells. 109. For this reason Egypt was cut up; and
they said that this king distributed the land to all the Egyptians,
giving an equal square portion to each man, and from this he made his
revenue, having appointed them to pay a certain rent every year: and
if the river should take away anything from any man's portion, he
would come to the king and declare that which had happened, and the
king used to send men to examine and to find out by measurement how
much less the piece of land had become, in order that for the future
the man might pay less, in proportion to the rent appointed: and I
think that thus the art of geometry was found out and afterwards came
into Hellas also. For as touching the sun-dial[91] and the gnomon[92]
and the twelve divisions of the day, they were learnt by the Hellenes
from the Babylonians. 110. He moreover alone of all the Egyptian kings
had rule over Ethiopia; and he left as memorials of himself in front
of the temple of Hephaistos two stone statues of thirty cubits each,
representing himself and his wife, and others of twenty cubits each
representing his four sons: and long afterwards the priest of
Hephaistos refused to permit Dareios the Persian to set up a statue of
himself in front of them, saying that deeds had not been done by him
equal to those which were done by Sesostris the Egyptian; for
Sesostris had subdued other nations besides, not fewer than he, and
also the Scythians; but Dareios had not been able to conquer the
Scythians: wherefore it was not just that he should set up a statue in
front of those which Sesostris had dedicated, if he did not surpass
him in his deeds. Which speech, they say, Dareios took in good part.

111. Now after Sesostris had brought his life to an end, his son
Pheros, they told me, received in succession the kingdom, and he made
no warlike expedition, and moreover it chanced to him to become blind
by reason of the following accident:--when the river had come down in
flood rising to a height of eighteen cubits, higher than ever before
that time, and had gone over the fields, a wind fell upon it and the
river became agitated by waves: and this king (they say) moved by
presumptuous folly took a spear and cast it into the midst of the
eddies of the stream; and immediately upon this he had a disease of
the eyes and was by it made blind. For ten years then he was blind,
and in the eleventh year there came to him an oracle from the city of
Buto saying that the time of his punishment had expired, and that he
should see again if he washed his eyes with the water of a woman who
had accompanied with her own husband only and had not knowledge of
other men: and first he made trial of his own wife, and then, as he
continued blind, he went on to try all the women in turn; and when he
had at last regained his sight he gathered together all the women of
whom he had made trial, excepting her by whose means he had regained
his sight, to one city which now is named Erythrabolos,[93] and having
gathered them to this he consumed them all by fire, as well as the
city itself; but as for her by whose means he had regained his sight,
he had her himself to wife. Then after he had escaped the malady of
his eyes he dedicated offerings at each one of the temples which were
of renown, and especially (to mention only that which is most worthy
of mention) he dedicated at the temple of the Sun works which are
worth seeing, namely two obelisks of stone, each of a single block,
measuring in length a hundred cubits each one and in breadth eight

112. After him, they said, there succeeded to the throne a man of
Memphis, whose name in the tongue of the Hellenes was Proteus; for
whom there is now a sacred enclosure at Memphis, very fair and well
ordered, lying on that side of the temple of Hephaistos which faces
the North Wind. Round about this enclosure dwell Phenicians of Tyre,
and this whole region is called the Camp of the Tyrians.[94] Within
the enclosure of Proteus there is a temple called the temple of the
"foreign Aphrodite," which temple I conjecture to be one of Helen the
daughter of Tyndareus, not only because I have heard the tale how
Helen dwelt with Proteus, but also especially because it is called by
the name of the "foreign Aphrodite," for the other temples of
Aphrodite which there are have none of them the addition of the word
"foreign" to the name. 113. And the priests told me, when I inquired,
that the things concerning Helen happened thus:--Alexander having
carried off Helen was sailing away from Sparta to his own land, and
when he had come to the Egean Sea contrary winds drove him from his
course to the Sea of Egypt; and after that, since the blasts did not
cease to blow, he came to Egypt itself, and in Egypt to that which is
now named the Canobic mouth of the Nile and to Taricheiai. Now there
was upon the shore, as still there is now, a temple of Heracles, in
which if any man's slave take refuge and have the sacred marks set
upon him, giving himself over to the god, it is not lawful to lay
hands upon him; and this custom has continued still unchanged from the
beginning down to my own time. Accordingly the attendants of
Alexander, having heard of the custom which existed about the temple,
ran away from him, and sitting down as suppliants of the god, accused
Alexander, because they desired to do him hurt, telling the whole tale
how things were about Helen and about the wrong done to Menelaos; and
this accusation they made not only to the priests but also to the
warden of this river-mouth, whose name was Thonis. 114. Thonis then
having heard their tale sent forthwith a message to Proteus at
Memphis, which said as follows: "There hath come a stranger, a
Teucrian by race, who hath done in Hellas an unholy deed; for he hath
deceived the wife of his own host, and is come hither bringing with
him this woman herself and very much wealth, having been carried out
of his way by winds to thy land.[95] Shall we then allow him to sail
out unharmed, or shall we first take away from him that which he
brought with him?" In reply to this Proteus sent back a messenger who
said thus: "Seize this man, whosoever he may be, who has done impiety
to his own host, and bring him away into my presence, that I may know
what he will find to say." 115. Hearing this, Thonis seized Alexander
and detained his ships, and after that he brought the man himself up
to Memphis and with him Helen and the wealth he had, and also in
addition to them the suppliants. So when all had been conveyed up
thither, Proteus began to ask Alexander who he was and from whence he
was voyaging; and he both recounted to him his descent and told him
the name of his native land, and moreover related of his voyage, from
whence he was sailing. After this Proteus asked him whence he had
taken Helen; and when Alexander went astray in his account and did not
speak the truth, those who had become suppliants convicted him of
falsehood, relating in full the whole tale of the wrong done. At
length Proteus declared to them this sentence, saying, "Were it not
that I count it a matter of great moment not to slay any of those
strangers who being driven from their course by winds have come to my
land hitherto, I should have taken vengeance on thee on behalf of the
man of Hellas, seeing that thou, most base of men, having received
from him hospitality, didst work against him a most impious deed. For
thou didst go in to the wife of thine own host; and even this was not
enough for thee, but thou didst stir her up with desire and hast gone
away with her like a thief. Moreover not even this by itself was
enough for thee, but thou art come hither with plunder taken from the
house of thy host. Now therefore depart, seeing that I have counted it
of great moment not to be a slayer of strangers. This woman indeed and
the wealth which thou hast I will not allow thee to carry away, but I
shall keep them safe for the Hellene who was thy host, until he come
himself and desire to carry them off to his home; to thyself however
and thy fellow-voyagers I proclaim that ye depart from your anchoring
within three days and go from my land to some other; and if not, that
ye will be dealt with as enemies."

116. This the priests said was the manner of Helen's coming to
Proteus; and I suppose that Homer also had heard this story, but since
it was not so suitable to the composition of his poem as the other
which he followed, he dismissed it finally,[96] making it clear at the
same time that he was acquainted with that story also: and according
to the manner in which he described[97] the wanderings of Alexander in
the Iliad (nor did he elsewhere retract that which he had said) it is
clear that when he brought Helen he was carried out of his course,
wandering to various lands, and that he came among other places to
Sidon in Phenicia. Of this the poet has made mention in the "prowess
of Diomede," and the verses run this:[98]

"There she had robes many-coloured, the works of women of Sidon,
Those whom her son himself the god-like of form Alexander
Carried from Sidon, what time the broad sea-path he sailed over
Bringing back Helene home, of a noble father begotten."

And in the Odyssey also he has made mention of it in these verses:[99]

"Such had the daughter of Zeus, such drugs of exquisite cunning,
Good, which to her the wife of Thon, Polydamna, had given,
Dwelling in Egypt, the land where the bountiful meadow produces
Drugs more than all lands else, many good being mixed, many evil."

And thus too Menelaos says to Telemachos:[100]

"Still the gods stayed me in Egypt, to come back hither desiring,
Stayed me from voyaging home, since sacrifice was due I performed not."

In these lines he makes it clear that he knew of the wandering of
Alexander to Egypt, for Syria borders upon Egypt and the Phenicians,
of whom is Sidon, dwell in Syria. 117. By these lines and by this
passage[101] it is also most clearly shown that the "Cyprian Epic" was
not written by Homer but by some other man: for in this it is said
that on the third day after leaving Sparta Alexander came to Ilion
bringing with him Helen, having had a "gently-blowing wind and a
smooth sea," whereas in the Iliad it says that he wandered from his
course when he brought her.

118. Let us now leave Homer and the "Cyprian" Epic; but this I will
say, namely that I asked the priests whether it is but an idle tale
which the Hellenes tell of that which they say happened about Ilion;
and they answered me thus, saying that they had their knowledge by
inquiries from Menelaos himself. After the rape of Helen there came
indeed, they said, to the Teucrian land a large army of Hellenes to
help Menelaos; and when the army had come out of the ships to land and
had pitched its camp there, they sent messengers to Ilion, with whom
went also Menelaos himself; and when these entered within the wall
they demanded back Helen and the wealth which Alexander had stolen
from Menelaos and had taken away; and moreover they demanded
satisfaction for the wrongs done: and the Teucrians told the same tale
then and afterwards, both with oath and without oath, namely that in
deed and in truth they had not Helen nor the wealth for which demand
was made, but that both were in Egypt; and that they could not justly
be compelled to give satisfaction for that which Proteus the king of
Egypt had. The Hellenes however thought that they were being mocked by
them and besieged the city, until at last they took it; and when they
had taken the wall and did not find Helen, but heard the same tale as
before, then they believed the former tale and sent Menelaos himself
to Proteus. 119. And Menelaos having come to Egypt and having sailed
up to Memphis, told the truth of these matters, and not only found
great entertainment, but also received Helen unhurt, and all his own
wealth besides. Then however, after he had been thus dealt with,
Menelaos showed himself ungrateful to the Egyptians; for when he set
forth to sail away, contrary winds detained him, and as this condition
of things lasted long, he devised an impious deed; for he took two
children of natives and made sacrifice of them. After this, when it
was known that he had done so, he became abhorred, and being pursued
he escaped and got away in his ships to Libya; but whither he went
besides after this, the Egyptians were not able to tell. Of these
things they said that they found out part by inquiries, and the rest,
namely that which happened in their own land, they related from sure
and certain knowledge.

120. Thus the priests of the Egyptians told me; and I myself also
agree with the story which was told of Helen, adding this
consideration, namely that if Helen had been in Ilion she would have
been given up to the Hellenes, whether Alexander consented or no; for
Priam assuredly was not so mad, nor yet the others of his house, that
they were desirous to run risk of ruin for themselves and their
children and their city, in order that Alexander might have Helen as
his wife: and even supposing that during the first part of the time
they had been so inclined, yet when many others of the Trojans besides
were losing their lives as often as they fought with the Hellenes, and
of the sons of Priam himself always two or three or even more were
slain when a battle took place (if one may trust at all to the Epic
poets),--when, I say, things were coming thus to pass, I consider that
even if Priam himself had had Helen as his wife, he would have given
her back to the Achaians, if at least by so doing he might be freed
from the evils which oppressed him. Nor even was the kingdom coming to
Alexander next, so that when Priam was old the government was in his
hands; but Hector, who was both older and more of a man than he, would
have received it after the death of Priam; and him it behoved not to
allow his brother to go on with his wrong-doing, considering that
great evils were coming to pass on his account both to himself
privately and in general to the other Trojans. In truth however they
lacked the power to give Helen back; and the Hellenes did not believe
them, though they spoke the truth; because, as I declare my opinion,
the divine power was purposing to cause them utterly to perish, and so
make it evident to men that for great wrongs great also are the
chastisements which come from the gods. And thus have I delivered my
opinion concerning these matters.

121. After Proteus, they told me, Rhampsinitos received in succession
the kingdom, who left as a memorial of himself that gateway to the
temple of Hephaistos which is turned towards the West, and in front of
the gateway he set up two statues, in height five-and-twenty cubits,
of which the one which stands on the North side is called by the
Egyptians Summer and the one on the South side Winter; and to that one
which they call Summer they do reverence and make offerings, while to
the other which is called Winter they do the opposite of these things.
(a) This king, they said, got great wealth of silver, which none of
the kings born after him could surpass or even come near to; and
wishing to store his wealth in safety he caused to be built a chamber
of stone, one of the walls whereof was towards the outside of his
palace: and the builder of this, having a design against it, contrived
as follows, that is, he disposed one of the stones in such a manner
that it could be taken out easily from the wall either by two men or
even by one. So when the chamber was finished, the king stored his
money in it, and after some time the builder, being near the end of
his life, called to him his sons (for he had two) and to them he
related how he had contrived in building the treasury of the king, and
all in forethought for them, that they might have ample means of
living. And when he had clearly set forth to them everything
concerning the taking out of the stone, he gave them the measurements,
saying that if they paid heed to this matter they would be stewards of
the king's treasury. So he ended his life, and his sons made no long
delay in setting to work, but went to the palace by night, and having
found the stone in the wall of the chamber they dealt with it easily
and carried forth for themselves great quantity of the wealth within.
(b) And the king happening to open the chamber, he marvelled when he
saw the vessels falling short of the full amount, and he did not know
on whom he should lay the blame, since the seals were unbroken and the
chamber had been close shut; but when upon his opening the chamber a
second and a third time the money was each time seen to be diminished,
for the thieves did not slacken in their assaults upon it, he did as
follows:--having ordered traps to be made he set these round about the
vessels in which the money was; and when the thieves had come as at
former times and one of them had entered, then so soon as he came near
to one of the vessels he was straightway caught in the trap: and when
he perceived in what evil case he was, straightway calling his brother
he showed him what the matter was, and bade him enter as quickly as
possible and cut off his head, for fear lest being seen and known he
might bring about the destruction of his brother also. And to the
other it seemed that he spoke well, and he was persuaded and did so;
and fitting the stone into its place he departed home bearing with him
the head of his brother. (c) Now when it became day, the king entered
into the chamber and was very greatly amazed, seeing the body of the
thief held in the trap without his head, and the chamber unbroken,
with no way to come in or go out: and being at a loss he hung up the
dead body of the thief upon the wall and set guards there, with charge
if they saw any one weeping or bewailing himself to seize him and
bring him before the king. And when the dead body had been hung up,
the mother was greatly grieved, and speaking with the son who survived
she enjoined him, in whatever way he could, to contrive means by which
he might take down and bring home the body of his dead brother; and if
he should neglect to do this, she earnestly threatened that she would
go and give information to the king that he had the money. (d) So as
the mother dealt hardly with the surviving son, and he though saying
many things to her did not persuade her, he contrived for his purpose
a device as follows:--Providing himself with asses he filled some
skins with wine and laid them upon the asses, and after that he drove
them along: and when he came opposite to those who were guarding the
corpse hung up, he drew towards him two or three of the necks[102] of
the skins and loosened the cords with which they were tied. Then when
the wine was running out, he began to beat his head and cry out
loudly, as if he did not know to which of the asses he should first
turn; and when the guards saw the wine flowing out in streams, they
ran together to the road with drinking vessels in their hands and
collected the wine that was poured out, counting it so much gain; and
he abused them all violently, making as if he were angry, but when the
guards tried to appease him, after a time he feigned to be pacified
and to abate his anger, and at length he drove his asses out of the
road and began to set their loads right. Then more talk arose among
them, and one or two of them made jests at him and brought him to
laugh with them; and in the end he made them a present of one of the
skins in addition to what they had. Upon that they lay down there
without more ado, being minded to drink, and they took him into their
company and invited him to remain with them and join them in their
drinking: so he (as may be supposed) was persuaded and stayed. Then as
they in their drinking bade him welcome in a friendly manner, he made
a present to them also of another of the skins; and so at length
having drunk liberally the guards became completely intoxicated; and
being overcome by sleep they went to bed on the spot where they had
been drinking. He then, as it was now far on in the night, first took
down the body of his brother, and then in mockery shaved the right
cheeks of all the guards; and after that he put the dead body upon the
asses and drove them away home, having accomplished that which was
enjoined him by his mother. (e) Upon this the king, when it was
reported to him that the dead body of the thief had been stolen away,
displayed great anger; and desiring by all means that it should be
found out who it might be who devised these things, did this (so at
least they said, but I do not believe the account),--he caused his own
daughter to sit in the stews, and enjoined her to receive all equally,
and before having commerce with any one to compel him to tell her what
was the most cunning and what the most unholy deed which had been done
by him in all his life-time; and whosoever should relate that which
had happened about the thief, him she must seize and not let him go
out. Then as she was doing that which was enjoined by her father, the
thief, hearing for what purpose this was done and having a desire to
get the better of the king in resource, did thus:--from the body of
one lately dead he cut off the arm at the shoulder and went with it
under his mantle: and having gone in to the daughter of the king, and
being asked that which the others also were asked, he related that he
had done the most unholy deed when he cut off the head of his brother,
who had been caught in a trap in the king's treasure-chamber, and the
most cunning deed in that he made drunk the guards and took down the
dead body of his brother hanging up; and she when she heard it tried
to take hold of him, but the thief held out to her in the darkness the
arm of the corpse, which she grasped and held, thinking that she was
holding the arm of the man himself; but the thief left it in her hands
and departed, escaping through the door. (f) Now when this also was
reported to the king, he was at first amazed at the ready invention
and daring of the fellow, and then afterwards he sent round to all the
cities and made proclamation granting a free pardon to the thief, and
also promising a great reward if he would come into his presence. The
thief accordingly trusting to the proclamation came to the king, and
Rhampsinitos greatly marvelled at him, and gave him this daughter of
his to wife, counting him to be the most knowing of all men; for as
the Egyptians were distinguished from all other men, so was he from
the other Egyptians.

122. After these things they said this king went down alive to that
place which by the Hellenes is called Hades, and there played at dice
with Demeter, and in some throws he overcame her and in others he was
overcome by her; and he came back again having as a gift from her a
handkerchief of gold: and they told me that because of the going down
of Rhampsinitos the Egyptians after he came back celebrated a feast,
which I know of my own knowledge also that they still observe even to
my time; but whether it is for this cause that they keep the feast or
for some other, I am not able to say. However, the priests weave a
robe completely on the very day of the feast, and forthwith they bind
up the eyes of one of them with a fillet, and having led him with the
robe to the way by which one goes to the temple of Demeter, they
depart back again themselves. This priest, they say, with his eyes
bound up is led by two wolves to the temple of Demeter, which is
distant from the city twenty furlongs, and then afterwards the wolves
lead him back again from the temple to the same spot. 123. Now as to
the tales told by the Egyptians, any man may accept them to whom such
things appear credible; as for me, it is to be understood throughout
the whole of the history[103] that I write by hearsay that which is
reported by the people in each place. The Egyptians say that Demeter
and Dionysos are rulers of the world below; and the Egyptians are also
the first who reported the doctrine that the soul of man is immortal,
and that when the body dies, the soul enters into another creature
which chances then to be coming to the birth, and when it has gone the
round of all the creatures of land and sea and of the air, it enters
again into a human body as it comes to the birth; and that it makes
this round in a period of three thousand years. This doctrine certain
Hellenes adopted, some earlier and some later, as if it were of their
own invention, and of these men I know the names but I abstain from
recording them.

124. Down to the time when Rhampsinitos was king, they told me there
was in Egypt nothing but orderly rule, and Egypt prospered greatly;
but after him Cheops became king over them and brought them[104] to
every kind of evil: for he shut up all the temples, and having first
kept them from sacrificing there, he then bade all the Egyptians work
for him. So some were appointed to draw stones from the stone-quarries
in the Arabian mountains to the Nile, and others he ordered to receive
the stones after they had been carried over the river in boats, and to
draw them to those which are called the Libyan mountains; and they
worked by a hundred thousand men at a time, for each three months
continually. Of this oppression there passed ten years while the
causeway was made by which they drew the stones, which causeway they
built, and it is a work not much less, as it appears to me, than the
pyramid; for the length of it is five furlongs[105] and the breadth
ten fathoms and the height, where it is highest, eight fathoms, and it
is made of stone smoothed and with figures carved upon it. For this,
they said, the ten years were spent, and for the underground chambers
on the hill upon which the pyramids stand, which he caused to be made
as sepulchral chambers for himself in an island, having conducted
thither a channel from the Nile. For the making of the pyramid itself
there passed a period of twenty years; and the pyramid is square, each
side measuring eight hundred feet, and the height of it is the same.
It is built of stone smoothed and fitted together in the most perfect
manner, not one of the stones being less than thirty feet in length.
125. This pyramid was made after the manner of steps, which some call
"rows"[106] and others "bases":[107] and when they had first made it
thus, they raised the remaining stones with machines made of short
pieces of timber, raising them first from the ground to the first
stage of the steps, and when the stone got up to this it was placed
upon another machine standing on the first stage, and so from this it
was drawn to the second upon another machine; for as many as were the
courses of the steps, so many machines there were also, or perhaps
they transferred one and the same machine, made so as easily to be
carried, to each stage successively, in order that they might take up
the stones; for let it be told in both ways, according as it is
reported. However that may be, the highest parts of it were finished
first, and afterwards they proceeded to finish that which came next to
them, and lastly they finished the parts of it near the ground and the
lowest ranges. On the pyramid it is declared in Egyptian writing how
much was spent on radishes and onions and leeks for the workmen, and
if I rightly remember that which the interpreter said in reading to me
this inscription, a sum of one thousand six hundred talents of silver
was spent; and if this is so, how much besides is likely to have been
expended upon the iron with which they worked, and upon bread and
clothing for the workmen, seeing that they were building the works for
the time which has been mentioned and were occupied for no small time
besides, as I suppose, in the cutting and bringing of the stones and
in working at the excavation under the ground? 126. Cheops moreover
came, they said, to such a pitch of wickedness, that being in want of
money he caused his own daughter to sit in the stews, and ordered her
to obtain from those who came a certain amount of money (how much it
was they did not tell me); but she not only obtained the sum appointed
by her father, but also she formed a design for herself privately to
leave behind her a memorial, and she requested each man who came in to
her to give her one stone upon her building: and of these stones, they
told me, the pyramid was built which stands in front of the great
pyramid in the middle of the three,[108] each side being one hundred
and fifty feet in length.

127. This Cheops, the Egyptians said, reigned fifty years; and after
he was dead his brother Chephren succeeded to the kingdom. This king
followed the same manner as the other, both in all the rest and also
in that he made a pyramid, not indeed attaining to the measurements of
that which was built by the former (this I know, having myself also
measured it), and moreover[109] there are no underground chambers
beneath nor does a channel come from the Nile flowing to this one as
to the other, in which the water coming through a conduit built for it
flows round an island within, where they say that Cheops himself is
laid: but for a basement he built the first course of Ethiopian stone
of divers colours; and this pyramid he made forty feet lower than the
other as regards size,[110] building it close to the great pyramid.
These stand both upon the same hill, which is about a hundred feet
high. And Chephren they said reigned fifty and six years. 128. Here
then they reckon one hundred and six years, during which they say that
there was nothing but evil for the Egyptians, and the temples were
kept closed and not opened during all that time. These kings the
Egyptians by reason of their hatred of them are not very willing to
name; nay, they even call the pyramids after the name of Philitis[111]
the shepherd, who at that time pastured flocks in those regions. 129.
After him, they said, Mykerinos became king over Egypt, who was the
son of Cheops; and to him his father's deeds were displeasing, and he
both opened the temples and gave liberty to the people, who were
ground down to the last extremity of evil, to return to their own
business and to their sacrifices;: also he gave decisions of their
causes juster than those of all the other kings besides. In regard to
this then they commend this king more than all the other kings who had
arisen in Egypt before him; for he not only gave good decisions, but
also when a man complained of the decision, he gave him recompense
from his own goods and thus satisfied his desire. But while Mykerinos
was acting mercifully to his subjects and practising this conduct
which has been said, calamities befell him, of which the first was
this, namely that his daughter died, the only child whom he had in his
house: and being above measure grieved by that which had befallen him,
and desiring to bury his daughter in a manner more remarkable than
others, he made a cow of wood, which he covered over with gold, and
then within it he buried this daughter who, as I said, had died. 130.
This cow was not covered up in the ground, but it might be seen even
down to my own time in the city of Sas, placed within the royal
palace in a chamber which was greatly adorned; and they offer incense
of all kinds before it every day, and each night a lamp burns beside
it all through the night. Near this cow in another chamber stand
images of the concubines of Mykerinos, as the priests at Sas told me;
for there are in fact colossal wooden statues, in number about twenty,
made with naked bodies; but who they are I am not able to say, except
only that which is reported. 131. Some however tell about this cow and
the colossal statues the following tale, namely that Mykerinos was
enamoured of his own daughter and afterwards ravished her; and upon
this they say that the girl strangled herself for grief, and he buried
her in this cow; and her mother cut off the hands of the maids who had
betrayed the daughter to her father; wherefore now the images of them
have suffered that which the maids suffered in their life. In thus
saying they speak idly, as it seems to me, especially in what they say
about the hands of the statues; for as to this, even we ourselves saw
that their hands had dropped off from lapse of time, and they were to
be seen still lying at their feet even down to my time. 132. The cow
is covered up with a crimson robe, except only the head and the neck,
which are seen, overlaid with gold very thickly; and between the horns
there is the disc of the sun figured in gold. The cow is not standing
up but kneeling, and in size it is equal to a large living cow. Every
year it is carried forth from the chamber, at those times, I say, the
Egyptians beat themselves for that god whom I will not name upon
occasion of such a matter; at these times, I say, they also carry
forth the cow to the light of day, for they say that she asked of her
father Mykerinos, when she was dying, that she might look upon the sun
once in the year.

133. After the misfortune of his daughter it happened, they said,
secondly to this king as follows:--An oracle came to him from the city
of Buto, saying that he was destined to live but six years more, in
the seventh year to end his life: and he being indignant at it sent to
the Oracle a reproach against the god,[112] making complaint in reply
that whereas his father and uncle, who had shut up the temples and had
not only not remembered the gods, but also had been destroyers of men,
had lived for a long time, he himself, who practised piety, was
destined to end his life so soon: and from the Oracle there came a
second message, which said that it was for this very cause that he was
bringing his life to a swift close;[113] for he had not done that
which it was appointed for him to do, since it was destined that Egypt
should suffer evils for a hundred and fifty years, and the two kings
who had risen before him had perceived this, but he had not. Mykerinos
having heard this, and considering that this sentence had been passed
upon him beyond recall, procured many lamps, and whenever night came
on he lighted these and began to drink and take his pleasure, ceasing
neither by day nor by night; and he went about to the fen-country and
to the woods and wherever he heard there were the most suitable places
for enjoyment. This he devised (having a mind to prove that the Oracle
spoke falsely) in order that he might have twelve years of life
instead of six, the nights being turned into days.

134. This king also left behind him a pyramid, much smaller than that
of his father, of a square shape and measuring on each side three
hundred feet lacking twenty, built moreover of Ethiopian stone up to
half the height. This pyramid some of the Hellenes say was built by
the courtesan Rhodopis, not therein speaking rightly: and besides this
it is evident to me that they who speak thus do not even know who
Rhodopis was, for otherwise they would not have attributed to her the
building of a pyramid like this, on which have been spent (so to
speak) innumerable thousands of talents: moreover they do not know
that Rhodopis flourished in the reign of Amasis, and not in this
king's reign; for Rhodopis lived very many years later than the kings
who left behind the pyramids. By descent she was of Thrace, and she
was a slave of Iadmon the son of Hephaistopolis a Samian, and a
fellow-slave of Esop the maker of fables; for he too was once the
slave of Iadmon, as was proved especially in this fact, namely that
when the people of Delphi repeatedly made proclamation in accordance
with an oracle, to find some one who would take up[114] the blood-
money for the death of Esop, no one else appeared, but at length the
grandson of Iadmon, called Iadmon also, took it up; and thus it is
shown that Esop too was the slave of Iadmon. 135. As for Rhodopis, she
came to Egypt brought by Xanthes the Samian, and having come thither
to exercise her calling she was redeemed from slavery for a great sum
by a man of Mytilene, Charaxos son of Scamandronymos and brother of
Sappho the lyric poet. Thus was Rhodopis set free, and she remained in
Egypt and by her beauty won so much liking that she made great gain of
money for one like Rhodopis,[115] though not enough to suffice for the
cost of such a pyramid as this. In truth there is no need to ascribe
to her very great riches, considering that the tithe of her wealth may
still be seen even to this time by any one who desires it: for
Rhodopis wished to leave behind her a memorial of herself in Hellas,
namely to cause a thing to be made such as happens not to have been
thought of or dedicated in a temple by any besides, and to dedicate
this at Delphi as a memorial of herself. Accordingly with the tithe of
her wealth she caused to be made spits of iron of size large enough to
pierce a whole ox, and many in number, going as far therein as her
tithe allowed her, and she sent them to Delphi: these are even at the
present time lying there, heaped all together behind the altar which
the Chians dedicated, and just opposite to the cell of the
temple.[116] Now at Naucratis, as it happens, the courtesans are
rather apt to win credit;[117] for this woman first, about whom the
story to which I refer is told, became so famous that all the Hellenes
without exception come to know the name of Rhodopis, and then after
her one whose name was Archidiche became a subject of song over all
Hellas, though she was less talked of than the other. As for Charaxos,
when after redeeming Rhodopis he returned back to Mytilene, Sappho in
an ode violently abused him.[118] Of Rhodopis then I shall say no

136. After Mykerinos the priests said Asychis became king of Egypt,
and he made for Hephaistos the temple gateway[119] which is towards
the sunrising, by far the most beautiful and the largest of the
gateways; for while they all have figures carved upon them and
innumerable ornaments of building[120] besides, this has them very
much more than the rest. In this king's reign they told me that, as
the circulation of money was very slow, a law was made for the
Egyptians that a man might have that money lent to him which he
needed, by offering as security the dead body of his father; and there
was added moreover to this law another, namely that he who lent the
money should have a claim also to the whole sepulchral chamber
belonging to him who received it, and that the man who offered that
security should be subject to this penalty, if he refused to pay back
the debt, namely that neither the man himself should be allowed to
have burial when he died, either in that family burial-place or in any
other, nor should he be allowed to bury any one of his kinsmen whom he
lost by death. This king desiring to surpass the kings of Egypt who
had arisen before him left as a memorial of himself a pyramid which he
made of bricks, and on it there is an inscription carved in stone and
saying thus: "Despise not me in comparison with the pyramids of stone,
seeing that I excel them as much as Zeus excels the other gods; for
with a pole they struck into the lake, and whatever of the mud
attached itself to the pole, this they gathered up and made bricks,
and in such manner they finished me."

Such were the deeds which this king performed; 137, and after him
reigned a blind man of the city of Anysis, whose name was Anysis. In
his reign the Ethiopians and Sabacos the king of the Ethiopians
marched upon Egypt with a great host of men; so this blind man
departed, flying to the fen-country, and the Ethiopian was king over
Egypt for fifty years, during which he performed deeds as follows:--
whenever any man of the Egyptians committed any transgression, he
would never put him to death, but he gave sentence upon each man
according to the greatness of the wrong-doing, appointing them work at
throwing up an embankment before that city from whence each man came
of those who committed wrong. Thus the cities were made higher still
than before; for they were embanked first by those who dug the
channels in the reign of Sesostris, and then secondly in the reign of
the Ethiopian, and thus they were made very high: and while other
cities in Egypt also stood[121] high, I think in the town at Bubastis
especially the earth was piled up. In this city there is a temple very
well worthy of mention, for though there are other temples which are
larger and built with more cost, none more than this is a pleasure to
the eyes. Now Bubastis in the Hellenic tongue is Artemis, 138, and her
temple is ordered thus:--Except the entrance it is completely
surrounded by water; for channels come in from the Nile, not joining
one another, but each extending as far as the entrance of the temple,
one flowing round on the one side and the other on the other side,
each a hundred feet broad and shaded over with trees; and the gateway
has a height of ten fathoms, and it is adorned with figures six cubits
high, very noteworthy. This temple is in the middle of the city and is
looked down upon from all sides as one goes round, for since the city
has been banked up to a height, while the temple has not been moved
from the place where it was at the first built, it is possible to look
down into it: and round it runs a stone wall with figures carved upon
it, while within it there is a grove of very large trees planted round
a large temple-house, within which is the image of the goddess: and
the breadth and length of the temple is a furlong every way. Opposite
the entrance there is a road paved with stone for about three
furlongs, which leads through the market-place towards the East, with
a breadth of about four hundred feet; and on this side and on that
grow trees of height reaching to heaven: and the road leads to the
temple of Hermes. This temple then is thus ordered.

139. The final deliverance from the Ethiopian came about (they said)
as follows:--he fled away because he had seen in his sleep a vision,
in which it seemed to him that a man came and stood by him and
counselled him to gather together all the priests of Egypt and cut
them asunder in the midst. Having seen this dream, he said that it
seemed to him that the gods were foreshowing him this to furnish an
occasion against him,[122] in order that he might do an impious deed
with respect to religion, and so receive some evil either from the
gods or from men: he would not however do so, but in truth (he said)
the time had expired, during which it had been prophesied to him that
he should rule Egypt before he departed thence. For when he was in
Ethiopia the Oracles which the Ethiopians consult had told him that it
was fated for him to rule Egypt fifty years: since then this time was
now expiring, and the vision of the dream also disturbed him, Sabacos
departed out of Egypt of his own free will.

140. Then when the Ethiopian had gone away out of Egypt, the blind man
came back from the fen-country and began to rule again, having lived
there during fifty years upon an island which he had made by heaping
up ashes and earth: for whenever any of the Egyptians visited him
bringing food, according as it had been appointed to them severally to
do without the knowledge of the Ethiopian, he bade them bring also
some ashes for their gift.[123] This island none was able to find
before Amyrtaios; that is, for more than seven hundred years[124] the
kings who arose before Amyrtaios were not able to find it. Now the
name of this island is Elbo, and its size is ten furlongs each way.

141. After him there came to the throne the priest of Hephaistos,
whose name was Sethos. This man, they said, neglected and held in no
regard the warrior class of the Egyptians, considering that he would
have no need of them; and besides other slights which he put upon
them, he also took from them the yokes of corn-land[125] which had
been given to them as a special gift in the reigns of the former
kings, twelve yokes to each man. After this, Sanacharib king of the
Arabians and of the Assyrians marched a great host against Egypt. Then
the warriors of the Egyptians refused to come to the rescue, and the
priest, being driven into a strait, entered into the sanctuary of the
temple[126] and bewailed to the image of the god the danger which was
impending over him; and as he was thus lamenting, sleep came upon him,
and it seemed to him in his vision that the god came and stood by him
and encouraged him, saying that he should suffer no evil if he went
forth to meet the army of the Arabians; for he himself would send him
helpers. Trusting in these things seen in sleep, he took with him,
they said, those of the Egyptians who were willing to follow him, and
encamped in Pelusion, for by this way the invasion came: and not one
of the warrior class followed him, but shop-keepers and artisans and
men of the market. Then after they came, there swarmed by night upon
their enemies mice of the fields, and ate up their quivers and their
bows, and moreover the handles of their shields, so that on the next
day they fled, and being without defence of arms great numbers fell.
And at the present time this king stands in the temple of Hephaistos
in stone, holding upon his hand a mouse, and by letters inscribed he
says these words: "Let him who looks upon me learn to fear the gods."

142. So far in the story the Egyptians and the priests were they who
made the report, declaring that from the first king down to this
priest of Hephaistos who reigned last, there had been three hundred
and forty-one generations of men, and that in them there had been the
same number of chief-priests and of kings: but three hundred
generations of men are equal to ten thousand years, for a hundred
years is three generations of men; and in the one-and-forty
generations which remain, those I mean which were added to the three
hundred, there are one thousand three hundred and forty years. Thus in
the period of eleven thousand three hundred and forty years they said
that there had arisen no god in human form; nor even before that time
or afterwards among the remaining kings who arose in Egypt, did they
report that anything of that kind had come to pass. In this time they
said that the sun had moved four times from his accustomed place of
rising, and where he now sets he had thence twice had his rising, and
in the place from whence he now rises he had twice had his
setting;[127] and in the meantime nothing in Egypt had been changed
from its usual state, neither that which comes from the earth nor that
which comes to them from the river nor that which concerns diseases or
deaths. 143. And formerly when Hecataios the historian was in Thebes,
and had traced his descent and connected his family with a god in the
sixteenth generation before, the priests of Zeus did for him much the
same as they did for me (though I had not traced my descent). They led
me into the sanctuary of the temple, which is of great size, and they
counted up the number, showing colossal wooden statues in number the
same as they said; for each chief-priest there sets up in his lifetime
an image of himself: accordingly the priests, counting and showing me
these, declared to me that each one of them was a son succeeding his
own father, and they went up through the series of images from the
image of the one who had died last, until they had declared this of
the whole number. And when Hecataios had traced his descent and
connected his family with a god in the sixteenth generation, they
traced a descent in opposition to this, besides their numbering, not
accepting it from him that a man had been born from a god; and they
traced their counter-descent thus, saying that each one of the statues
had been /piromis/ son of /piromis/, until they had declared this of
the whole three hundred and forty-five statues, each one being
surnamed /piromis/; and neither with a god nor a hero did they connect
their descent. Now /piromis/ means in the tongue of Hellas "honourable
and good man." 144. From their declaration then it followed, that they
of whom the images were had been of form like this, and far removed
from being gods: but in the time before these men they said that gods
were the rulers in Egypt, not mingling[128] with men, and that of
these always one had power at a time; and the last of them who was
king over Egypt was Oros the son of Osiris, whom the Hellenes call
Apollo: he was king over Egypt last, having deposed Typhon. Now Osiris
in the tongue of Hellas is Dionysos.

145. Among the Hellenes Heracles and Dionysos and Pan are accounted
the latest-born of the gods; but with the Egyptians Pan is a very
ancient god, and he is one of those which are called the eight gods,
while Heracles is of the second rank, who are called the twelve gods,
and Dionysos is of the third rank, namely of those who were born of
the twelve gods. Now as to Heracles I have shown already how many
years old he is according to the Egyptians themselves, reckoning down
to the reign of Amasis, and Pan is said to have existed for yet more
years than these, and Dionysos for the smallest number of years as
compared with the others; and even for this last they reckon down to
the reign of Amasis fifteen thousand years. This the Egyptians say
that they know for a certainty, since they always kept a reckoning and
wrote down the years as they came. Now the Dionysos who is said to
have been born of Semele the daughter of Cadmos, was born about
sixteen hundred years before my time, and Heracles who was the son of
Alcmene, about nine hundred years, and that Pan who was born of
Penelope, for of her and of Hermes Pan is said by the Hellenes to have
been born, came into being later than the wars of Troy, about eight
hundred years before my time. 146. Of these two accounts every man may
adopt that one which he shall find the more credible when he hears it.
I however, for my part, have already declared my opinion about
them.[129] For if these also, like Heracles the son of Amphitryon, had
appeared before all men's eyes and had lived their lives to old age in
Hellas, I mean Dionysos the son of Semele and Pan the son of Penelope,
then one would have said that these also[130] had been born mere men,
having the names of those gods who had come into being long before:
but as it is, with regard to Dionysos the Hellenes say that as soon as
he was born Zeus sewed him up in his thigh and carried him to Nysa,
which is above Egypt in the land of Ethiopia; and as to Pan, they
cannot say whither he went after he was born. Hence it has become
clear to me that the Hellenes learnt the names of these gods later
than those of the other gods, and trace their descent as if their
birth occurred at the time when they first learnt their names.

Thus far then the history is told by the Egyptians themselves; 147,
but I will now recount that which other nations also tell, and the
Egyptians in agreement with the others, of that which happened in this
land: and there will be added to this also something of that which I
have myself seen.

Being set free after the reign of the priest of Hephaistos, the
Egyptians, since they could not live any time without a king, set up
over them twelve kings, having divided all Egypt into twelve parts.
These made intermarriages with one another and reigned, making
agreement that they would not put down one another by force, nor seek
to get an advantage over one another, but would live in perfect
friendship: and the reason why they made these agreements, guarding
them very strongly from violation, was this, namely that an oracle had
been given to them at first when they began to exercise their rule,
that he of them who should pour a libation with a bronze cup in the
temple of Hephaistos, should be king of all Egypt (for they used to
assemble together in all the temples). 148. Moreover they resolved to
join all together and leave a memorial of themselves; and having so
resolved they caused to be made a labyrinth, situated a little above
the lake of Moiris and nearly opposite to that which is called the
City of Crocodiles. This I saw myself, and I found it greater than
words can say. For if one should put together and reckon up all the
buildings and all the great works produced by the Hellenes, they would
prove to be inferior in labour and expense to this labyrinth, though
it is true that both the temple at Ephesos and that at Samos are works
worthy of note. The pyramids also were greater than words can say, and
each one of them is equal to many works of the Hellenes, great as they
may be; but the labyrinth surpasses even the pyramids. It has twelve
courts covered in, with gates facing one another, six upon the North
side and six upon the South, joining on one to another, and the same
wall surrounds them all outside; and there are in it two kinds of
chambers, the one kind below the ground and the other above upon
these, three thousand in number, of each kind fifteen hundred. The
upper set of chambers we ourselves saw, going through them, and we
tell of them having looked upon them with our own eyes; but the
chambers under ground we heard about only; for the Egyptians who had
charge of them were not willing on any account to show them, saying
that here were the sepulchres of the kings who had first built this
labyrinth and of the sacred crocodiles. Accordingly we speak of the
chambers below by what we received from hearsay, while those above we
saw ourselves and found them to be works of more than human greatness.
For the passages through the chambers, and the goings this way and
that way through the courts, which were admirably adorned, afforded
endless matter for marvel, as we went through from a court to the
chambers beyond it, and from the chambers to colonnades, and from the
colonnades to other rooms, and then from the chambers again to other
courts. Over the whole of these is a roof made of stone like the
walls; and the walls are covered with figures carved upon them, each
court being surrounded with pillars of white stone fitted together
most perfectly; and at the end of the labyrinth, by the corner of it,
there is a pyramid of forty fathoms, upon which large figures are
carved, and to this there is a way made under ground.

149. Such is this labyrinth; but a cause for marvel even greater than
this is afforded by the lake, which is called the lake of Moiris,
along the side of which this labyrinth is built. The measure of its
circuit is three thousand six hundred furlongs[131] (being sixty
/schoines/), and this is the same number of furlongs as the extent of
Egypt itself along the sea. The lake lies extended lengthwise from
North to South, and in depth where it is deepest it is fifty fathoms.
That this lake is artificial and formed by digging is self-evident,
for about in the middle of the lake stand two pyramids, each rising
above the water to a height of fifty fathoms, the part which is built
below the water being of just the same height; and upon each is placed
a colossal statue of stone sitting upon a chair. Thus the pyramids are
a hundred fathoms high; and these hundred fathoms are equal to a
furlong of six hundred feet, the fathom being measured as six feet or
four cubits, the feet being four palms each, and the cubits six. The
water in the lake does not come from the place where it is, for the
country there is very deficient in water, but it has been brought
thither from the Nile by a canal: and for six months the water flows
into the lake, and for six months out into the Nile again; and
whenever it flows out, then for the six months it brings into the
royal treasury a talent of silver a day from the fish which are
caught, and twenty pounds[132] when the water comes in. 150. The
natives of the place moreover said that this lake had an outlet under
ground to the Syrtis which is in Libya, turning towards the interior
of the continent upon the Western side and running along by the
mountain which is above Memphis. Now since I did not see anywhere
existing the earth dug out of this excavation (for that was a matter
which drew my attention), I asked those who dwelt nearest to the lake
where the earth was which had been dug out. These told me to what
place it had been carried away; and I readily believed them, for I
knew by report that a similar thing had been done at Nineveh, the city
of the Assyrians. There certain thieves formed a design once to carry
away the wealth of Sardanapallos son of Ninos, the king, which wealth
was very great and was kept in treasure-houses under the earth.
Accordingly they began from their own dwelling, and making estimate of
their direction they dug under ground towards the king's palace; and
the earth which was brought out of the excavation they used to carry
away, when night came on, to the river Tigris which flows by the city
of Nineveh, until at last they accomplished that which they desired.
Similarly, as I heard, the digging of the lake in Egypt was effected,
except that it was done not by night but during the day; for as they
dug the Egyptians carried to the Nile the earth which was dug out; and
the river, when it received it, would naturally bear it away and
disperse it. Thus is this lake said to have been dug out.

151. Now the twelve kings continued to rule justly, but in course of
time it happened thus:--After sacrifice in the temple of Hephaistos
they were about to make libation on the last day of the feast, and the
chief-priest, in bringing out for them the golden cups with which they
had been wont to pour libations, missed his reckoning and brought
eleven only for the twelve kings. Then that one of them who was
standing last in order, namely Psammetichos, since he had no cup took
off from his head his helmet, which was of bronze, and having held it
out to receive the wine he proceeded to make libation: likewise all
the other kings were wont to wear helmets and they happened to have
them then. Now Psammetichos held out his helmet with no treacherous
meaning; but they taking note of that which had been done by
Psammetichos and of the oracle, namely how it had been declared to
them that whosoever of them should make libation with a bronze cup
should be sole king of Egypt, recollecting, I say, the saying of the
Oracle, they did not indeed deem it right to slay Psammetichos, since
they found by examination that he had not done it with any
forethought, but they determined to strip him of almost all his power
and to drive him away into the fen-country, and that from the fen-
country he should not hold any dealings with the rest of Egypt. 152.
This Psammetichos had formerly been a fugitive from the Ethiopian
Sabacos who had killed his father Necos, from him, I say, he had then
been a fugitive in Syria; and when the Ethiopian had departed in
consequence of the vision of the dream, the Egyptians who were of the
district of Sas brought him back to his own country. Then afterwards,
when he was king, it was his fate to be a fugitive a second time on
account of the helmet, being driven by the eleven kings into the fen-
country. So then holding that he had been grievously wronged by them,
he thought how he might take vengeance on those who had driven him
out: and when he had sent to the Oracle of Leto in the city of Buto,
where the Egyptians have their most truthful Oracle, there was given
to him the reply that vengeance would come when men of bronze appeared
from the sea. And he was strongly disposed not to believe that bronze
men would come to help him; but after no long time had passed, certain
Ionians and Carians who had sailed forth for plunder were compelled to
come to shore in Egypt, and they having landed and being clad in
bronze armour, one of the Egyptians, not having before seen men clad
in bronze armour, came to the fen-land and brought a report to
Psammetichos that bronze men had come from the sea and were plundering
the plain. So he, perceiving that the saying of the Oracle was coming
to pass, dealt in a friendly manner with the Ionians and Carians, and
with large promises he persuaded them to take his part. Then when he
had persuaded them, with the help of those Egyptians who favoured his
cause and of these foreign mercenaries he overthrew the kings. 153.
Having thus got power over all Egypt, Psammetichos made for Hephaistos
that gateway of the temple at Memphis which is turned towards the
South Wind; and he built a court for Apis, in which Apis is kept when
he appears, opposite to the gateway of the temple, surrounded all with
pillars and covered with figures; and instead of columns there stand
to support the roof of the court colossal statues twelve cubits high.
Now Apis is in the tongue of the Hellenes Epaphos. 154. To the Ionians
and to the Carians who had helped him Psammetichos granted portions of
land to dwell in, opposite to one another with the river Nile between,
and these were called "Encampments":[133] these portions of land he
gave them, and he paid them besides all that he had promised: moreover
he placed with them Egyptian boys to have them taught the Hellenic
tongue; and from these, who learnt the language thoroughly, are
descended the present class of interpreters in Egypt. Now the Ionians
and Carians occupied these portions of land for a long time, and they
are towards the sea a little below the city of Bubastis, on that which
is called the Pelusian mouth of the Nile. These men king Amasis
afterwards removed from thence and established them at Memphis, making
them into a guard for himself against the Egyptians: and they being
settled in Egypt, we who are Hellenes know by intercourse with them
the certainty of all that which happened in Egypt beginning from king
Psammetichos and afterwards; for these were the first men of foreign
tongue who settled in Egypt: and in the land from which they were
removed there still remained down to my time the sheds where their
ships were drawn up and the ruins of their houses.

Thus then Psammetichos obtained Egypt: 155, and of the Oracle which is
in Egypt I have made mention often before this, and now I will give an
account of it, seeing that it is worthy to be described. This Oracle
which is in Egypt is sacred to Leto, and it is established in a great
city near that mouth of the Nile which is called Sebennytic, as one
sails up the river from the sea; and the name of this city where the
Oracle is found is Buto, as I have said before in mentioning it. In
this Buto there is a temple of Apollo and Artemis; and the temple-
house[134] of Leto, in which the Oracle is, is both great in itself
and has a gateway of the height of ten fathoms: but that which caused
me most to marvel of the things to be seen there, I will now tell.
There is in this sacred enclosure a house[134] of Leto made of one
single stone as regards both height and length, and of which all the
walls are in these two directions equal, each being forty cubits; and
for the covering in of the roof there lies another stone upon the top,
the cornice measuring four cubits.[135] 156. This house[134] then of
all the things that were to be seen by me in that temple is the most
marvellous, and among those which come next is the island called
Chemmis. This is situated in a deep and broad lake by the side of the
temple at Buto, and it is said by the Egyptians that this island is a
floating island. I myself did not see it either floating about or
moved from its place, and I feel surprise at hearing of it, wondering
if it be indeed a floating island. In this island of which I speak
there is a great temple-house[134] of Apollo, and three several altars
are set up within, and there are planted in the island many palm-trees
and other trees, both bearing fruit and not bearing fruit. And the
Egyptians, when they say that it is floating, add this story, namely
that in this island, which formerly was not floating, Leto, being one
of the eight gods who came into existence first, and dwelling in the
city of Buto where she has this Oracle, received Apollo from Isis as a
charge and preserved him, concealing him in the island which is said
now to be a floating island, at that time when Typhon came after him
seeking everywhere and desiring to find the son of Osiris. Now they
say that Apollo and Artemis are children of Dionysos and of Isis, and
that Leto became their nurse and preserver; and in the Egyptian tongue
Apollo is Oros, Demeter is Isis, and Artemis is Bubastis. From this
story and from no other schylus the son of Euphorion took[136] this
which I shall say, wherein he differs from all the preceding poets; he
represented namely that Artemis was the daughter of Demeter. For this
reason then, they say, it became a floating island.

Such is the story which they tell; 157, but as for Psammetichos, he
was king over Egypt for four-and-fifty years, of which for thirty
years save one he was sitting before Azotos, a great city of Syria,
besieging it, until at last he took it: and this Azotos of all cities
about which we have knowledge held out for the longest time under a

158. The son of Psammetichos was Necos, and he became king of Egypt.
This man was the first who attempted the channel leading to the
Erythraian Sea, which Dareios the Persian afterwards completed: the
length of this is a voyage of four days, and in breadth it was so dug
that two triremes could go side by side driven by oars; and the water
is brought into it from the Nile. The channel is conducted a little
above the city of Bubastis by Patumos the Arabian city, and runs into
the Erythraian Sea: and it is dug first along those parts of the plain
of Egypt which lie towards Arabia, just above which run the mountains
which extend opposite Memphis, where are the stone-quarries,--along
the base of these mountains the channel is conducted from West to East
for a great way; and after that it is directed towards a break in the
hills and tends from these mountains towards the noon-day and the
South Wind to the Arabian gulf. Now in the place where the journey is
least and shortest from the Northern to the Southern Sea (which is
also called Erythraian), that is from Mount Casion, which is the
boundary between Egypt and Syria, the distance is exactly[137] a
thousand furlongs to the Arabian gulf; but the channel is much longer,
since it is more winding; and in the reign of Necos there perished
while digging it twelve myriads[137a] of the Egyptians. Now Necos
ceased in the midst of his digging, because the utterance of an Oracle
impeded him, which was to the effect that he was working for the
Barbarian: and the Egyptians call all men Barbarians who do not agree
with them in speech. 159. Thus having ceased from the work of the
channel, Necos betook himself to waging wars, and triremes were built
by him, some for the Northern Sea and others in the Arabian gulf for
the Erythraian Sea; and of these the sheds are still to be seen. These
ships he used when he needed them; and also on land Necos engaged
battle at Magdolos with the Syrians, and conquered them; and after
this he took Cadytis, which is a great city of Syria: and the dress
which he wore when he made these conquests he dedicated to Apollo,
sending it to Branchidai of the Milesians. After this, having reigned
in all sixteen years, he brought his life to an end, and handed on the
kingdom to Psammis his son.

160. While this Psammis was king of Egypt, there came to him men sent
by the Eleians, who boasted that they ordered the contest at Olympia
in the most just and honourable manner possible and thought that not
even the Egyptians, the wisest of men, could find out anything
besides, to be added to their rules. Now when the Eleians came to
Egypt and said that for which they had come, then this king called
together those of the Egyptians who were reputed the wisest, and when
the Egyptians had come together they heard the Eleians tell of all
that which it was their part to do in regard to the contest; and when
they had related everything, they said that they had come to learn in
addition anything which the Egyptians might be able to find out
besides, which was juster than this. They then having consulted
together asked the Eleians whether their own citizens took part in the
contest; and they said that it was permitted to any one who desired
it, both of their own people and of the other Hellenes equally, to
take part in the contest: upon which the Egyptians said that in so
ordering the games they had wholly missed the mark of justice; for it
could not be but that they would take part with the man of their own
State, if he was contending, and so act unfairly to the stranger: but
if they really desired, as they said, to order the games justly, and
if this was the cause for which they had come to Egypt, they advised
them to order the contest so as to be for strangers alone to contend
in, and that no Eleian should be permitted to contend. Such was the
suggestion made by the Egyptians to the Eleians.

161. When Psammis had been king of Egypt for only six years and had
made an expedition to Ethiopia and immediately afterwards had ended
his life, Apries the son of Psammis received the kingdom in
succession. This man came to be the most prosperous of all the kings
up to that time except only his forefather Psammetichos; and he
reigned five-and-twenty years, during which he led an army against
Sidon and fought a sea-fight with the king of Tyre. Since however it
was fated that evil should come upon him, it came by occasion of a
matter which I shall relate at greater length in the Libyan
history,[138] and at present but shortly. Apries having sent a great
expedition against the Kyrenians, met with correspondingly great
disaster; and the Egyptians considering him to blame for this revolted
from him, supposing that Apries had with forethought sent them out to
evident calamity, in order (as they said) that there might be a
slaughter of them, and he might the more securely rule over the other
Egyptians. Being indignant at this, both these men who had returned
from the expedition and also the friends of those who had perished
made revolt openly. 162. Hearing this Apries sent to them Amasis, to
cause them to cease by persuasion; and when he had come and was
seeking to restrain the Egyptians, as he was speaking and telling them
not to do so, one of the Egyptians stood up behind him and put a
helmet[139] upon his head, saying as he did so that he put it on to
crown him king. And to him this that was done was in some degree not
unwelcome, as he proved by his behaviour; for as soon as the revolted
Egyptians had set him up as king, he prepared to march against Apries:
and Apries hearing this sent to Amasis one of the Egyptians who were
about his own person, a man of reputation, whose name was Patarbemis,
enjoining him to bring Amasis alive into his presence. When this
Patarbemis came and summoned Amasis, the latter, who happened to be
sitting on horseback, lifted up his leg and behaved in an unseemly
manner,[140] bidding him take that back to Apries. Nevertheless, they
say, Patarbemis made demand of him that he should go to the king,
seeing that the king had sent to summon him; and he answered him that
he had for some time past been preparing to do so, and that Apries
would have no occasion to find fault with him. Then Patarbemis both
perceiving his intention from that which he said, and also seeing his
preparations, departed in haste, desiring to make known as quickly as
possible to the king the things which were being done: and when he
came back to Apries not bringing Amasis, the king paying no regard to
that which he said,[141] but being moved by violent anger, ordered his
ears and his nose to be cut off. And the rest of the Egyptians who
still remained on his side, when they saw the man of most repute among
them thus suffering shameful outrage, waited no longer but joined the
others in revolt, and delivered themselves over to Amasis. 163. Then
Apries having heard this also, armed his foreign mercenaries and
marched against the Egyptians: now he had about him Carian and Ionian
mercenaries to the number of thirty thousand; and his royal palace was
in the city of Sas, of great size and worthy to be seen. So Apries
and his army were going against the Egyptians, and Amasis and those
with him were going against the mercenaries; and both sides came to
the city of Momemphis and were about to make trial of one another in

164. Now of the Egyptians there are seven classes, and of these one
class is called that of the priests, and another that of the warriors,
while the others are the cowherds, swineherds, shopkeepers,
interpreters, and boatmen. This is the number of the classes of the
Egyptians, and their names are given them from the occupations which
they follow. Of them the warriors are called Calasirians and
Hermotybians, and they are of the following districts,[142]--for all
Egypt is divided into districts. 165. The districts of the
Hermotybians are those of Busiris, Sas, Chemmis, Papremis, the island
called Prosopitis, and the half of Natho,--of these districts are the
Hermotybians, who reached when most numerous the number of sixteen
myriads.[142a] Of these not one has learnt anything of handicraft, but
they are given up to war entirely. 166. Again the districts of the
Calasirians are those of Thebes, Bubastis, Aphthis, Tanis, Mendes,
Sebennytos, Athribis, Pharbaithos, Thmus Onuphis, Anytis, Myecphoris,
--this last is on an island opposite to the city of Bubastis. These
are the districts of the Calasirians; and they reached, when most
numerous, to the number of five-and-twenty myriads[142b] of men; nor
is it lawful for these, any more than for the others, to practise any
craft; but they practise that which has to do with war only, handing
down the tradition from father to son. 167. Now whether the Hellenes
have learnt this also from the Egyptians, I am not able to say for
certain, since I see that the Thracians also and Scythians and
Persians and Lydians and almost all the Barbarians esteem those of
their citizens who learn the arts, and the descendants of them, as
less honourable than the rest; while those who have got free from all
practice of manual arts are accounted noble, and especially those who
are devoted to war: however that may be, the Hellenes have all learnt
this, and especially the Lacedemonians; but the Corinthians least of
all cast slight upon those who practise handicrafts.

168. The following privilege was specially granted to this class and
to none others of the Egyptians except the priests, that is to say,
each man had twelve yokes[143] of land specially granted to him free
from imposts: now the yoke of land measures a hundred Egyptian cubits
every way, and the Egyptian cubit is, as it happens, equal to that of
Samos. This, I say, was a special privilege granted to all, and they
also had certain advantages in turn and not the same men twice; that
is to say, a thousand of the Calasirians and a thousand of the
Hermotybians acted as body-guard to the king during each year;[144]
and these had besides their yokes of land an allowance given them for
each day of five pounds weight[144a] of bread to each man, and two
pounds of beef, and four half-pints[145] of wine. This was the
allowance given to those who were serving as the king's bodyguard for
the time being.

169. So when Apries leading his foreign mercenaries, and Amasis at the
head of the whole body of the Egyptians, in their approach to one
another had come to the city of Momemphis, they engaged battle: and
although the foreign troops fought well, yet being much inferior in
number they were worsted by reason of this. But Apries is said to have
supposed that not even a god would be able to cause him to cease from
his rule, so firmly did he think that it was established. In that
battle then, I say, he was worsted, and being taken alive was brought
away to the city of Sas, to that which had formerly been his own
dwelling but from thenceforth was the palace of Amasis. There for some
time he was kept in the palace, and Amasis dealt well with him; but at
last, since the Egyptians blamed him, saying that he acted not rightly
in keeping alive him who was the greatest foe both to themselves and
to him, therefore he delivered Apries over to the Egyptians; and they
strangled him, and after that buried him in the burial-place of his
fathers: this is in the temple of Athene, close to the sanctuary, on
the left hand as you enter. Now the men of Sas buried all those of
this district who had been kings, within the temple; for the tomb of
Amasis also, though it is further from the sanctuary than that of
Apries and his forefathers, yet this too is within the court of the
temple, and it consists of a colonnade of stone of great size, with
pillars carved to imitate date-palms, and otherwise sumptuously
adorned; and within the colonnade are double-doors, and inside the
doors a sepulchral chamber. 170. Also at Sas there is the burial-
place of him whom I account it not pious to name in connexion with
such a matter, which is in the temple of Athene behind the house of
the goddess,[146] stretching along the whole wall of it; and in the
sacred enclosure stand great obelisks of stone, and near them is a
lake adorned with an edging of stone and fairly made in a circle,
being in size, as it seemed to me, equal to that which is called the
"Round Pool"[147] in Delos. 171. On this lake they perform by night
the show of his sufferings, and this the Egyptians call Mysteries. Of
these things I know more fully in detail how they take place, but I
shall leave this unspoken; and of the mystic rites of Demeter, which
the Hellenes call /thesmophoria/, of these also, although I know, I
shall leave unspoken all except so much as piety permits me to tell.
The daughters of Danaos were they who brought this rite out of Egypt
and taught it to the women of the Pelasgians; then afterwards when all
the inhabitants of Peloponnese were driven out by the Dorians, the
rite was lost, and only those who were left behind of the
Peloponnesians and not driven out, that is to say the Arcadians,
preserved it.

172. Apries having thus been overthrown, Amasis became king, being of
the district of Sas, and the name of the city whence he was is Siuph.
Now at the first the Egyptians despised Amasis and held him in no
great regard, because he had been a man of the people and was of no
distinguished family; but afterwards Amasis won them over to himself
by wisdom and not wilfulness. Among innumerable other things of price
which he had, there was a foot-basin of gold in which both Amasis
himself and all his guests were wont always to wash their feet. This
he broke up, and of it he caused to be made the image of a god, and
set it up in the city, where it was most convenient; and the Egyptians
went continually to visit the image and did great reverence to it.
Then Amasis, having learnt that which was done by the men of the city,
called together the Egyptians and made known to them the matter,
saying that the image had been produced from the foot-basin, into
which formerly the Egyptians used to vomit and make water, and in
which they washed their feet, whereas now they did to it great
reverence; and just so, he continued, had he himself now fared, as the
foot-basin; for though formerly he was a man of the people, yet now he
was their king, and he bade them accordingly honour him and have
regard for him. 173. In such manner he won the Egyptians to himself,
so that they consented to be his subjects; and his ordering of affairs
was thus:--In the early morning, and until the time of the filling of
the market he did with a good will the business which was brought
before him; but after this he passed the time in drinking and in
jesting at his boon-companions, and was frivolous and playful. And his
friends being troubled at it admonished him in some such words as
these: "O king, thou dost not rightly govern thyself in thus letting
thyself descend to behaviour so trifling; for thou oughtest rather to
have been sitting throughout the day stately upon a stately throne and
administering thy business; and so the Egyptians would have been
assured that they were ruled by a great man, and thou wouldest have
had a better report: but as it is, thou art acting by no means in a
kingly fashion." And he answered them thus: "They who have bows
stretch them at such time as they wish to use them, and when they have
finished using them they loose them again;[148] for if they were
stretched tight always they would break, so that the men would not be
able to use them when they needed them. So also is the state of man:
if he should always be in earnest and not relax himself for sport at
the due time, he would either go mad or be struck with stupor before
he was aware; and knowing this well, I distribute a portion of the
time to each of the two ways of living." Thus he replied to his
friends. 174. It is said however that Amasis, even when he was in a
private station, was a lover of drinking and of jesting, and not at
all seriously disposed; and whenever his means of livelihood failed
him through his drinking and luxurious living, he would go about and
steal; and they from whom he stole would charge him with having their
property, and when he denied it would bring him before the judgment of
an Oracle, whenever there was one in their place; and many times he
was convicted by the Oracles and many times he was absolved: and then
when finally he became king he did as follows:--as many of the gods as
had absolved him and pronounced him not to be a thief, to their
temples he paid no regard, nor gave anything for the further adornment
of them, nor even visited them to offer sacrifice, considering them to
be worth nothing and to possess lying Oracles; but as many as had
convicted him of being a thief, to these he paid very great regard,
considering them to be truly gods, and to present Oracles which did
not lie. 175. First in Sas he built and completed for Athene a
temple-gateway which is a great marvel, and he far surpassed herein
all who had done the like before, both in regard to height and
greatness, so large are the stones and of such quality. Then secondly
he dedicated great colossal statues and man-headed sphinxes very
large, and for restoration he brought other stones of monstrous size.
Some of these he caused to be brought from the stone-quarries which
are opposite Memphis, others of very great size from the city of
Elephantine, distant a voyage of not less than twenty days from Sas:
and of them all I marvel most at this, namely a monolith chamber which
he brought from the city of Elephantine; and they were three years
engaged in bringing this, and two thousand men were appointed to
convey it, who all were of the class of boatmen. Of this house the
length outside is one-and-twenty cubits, the breadth is fourteen
cubits, and the height eight. These are the measures of the monolith
house outside; but the length inside is eighteen cubits and five-
sixths of a cubit,[149] the breadth twelve cubits, and the height five
cubits. This lies by the side of the entrance to the temple; for
within the temple they did not draw it, because, as it said, while the
house was being drawn along, the chief artificer of it groaned aloud,
seeing that much time had been spent and he was wearied by the work;
and Amasis took it to heart as a warning and did not allow them to
draw it further onwards. Some say on the other hand that a man was
killed by it, of those who were heaving it with levers, and that it
was not drawn in for that reason. 176. Amasis also dedicated in all
the other temples which were of repute, works which are worth seeing
for their size, and among them also at Memphis the colossal statue
which lies on its back in front of the temple of Hephaistos, whose
length is five-and-seventy feet; and on the same base made of the same
stone[150] are set two colossal statues, each of twenty feet in
length, one on this side and the other on that side of the large
statue.[151] There is also another of stone of the same size in Sas,
lying in the same manner as that at Memphis. Moreover Amasis was he
who built and finished for Isis her temple at Memphis, which is of
great size and very worthy to be seen.

177. In the reign of Amasis it is said that Egypt became more
prosperous than at any other time before, both in regard to that which
comes to the land from the river and in regard to that which comes
from the land to its inhabitants, and that at this time the inhabited
towns in it numbered in all twenty thousand. It was Amasis too who
established the law that every year each one of the Egyptians should
declare to the ruler of his district, from what source he got his
livelihood, and if any man did not do this or did not make declaration
of an honest way of living, he should be punished with death. Now
Solon the Athenian received from Egypt this law and had it enacted for
the Athenians, and they have continued to observe it, since it is a
law with which none can find fault.

178. Moreover Amasis became a lover of the Hellenes; and besides other
proofs of friendship which he gave to several among them, he also
granted the city of Naucratis for those of them who came to Egypt to
dwell in; and to those who did not desire to stay, but who made
voyages thither, he granted portions of land to set up altars and make
sacred enclosures for their gods. Their greatest enclosure and that
one which has most name and is most frequented is called the
Hellenion, and this was established by the following cities in common:
--of the Ionians Chios, Teos, Phocaia, Clazomenai, of the Dorians
Rhodes, Cnidos, Halicarnassos, Phaselis, and of the Aiolians Mytilene
alone. To these belongs this enclosure and these are the cities which
appoint superintendents of the port; and all other cities which claim
a share in it, are making a claim without any right.[152] Besides this
the Eginetans established on their own account a sacred enclosure
dedicated to Zeus, the Samians one to Hera, and the Milesians one to
Apollo. 179. Now in old times Naucratis alone was an open trading-
place, and no other place in Egypt: and if any one came to any other
of the Nile mouths, he was compelled to swear that he came not thither
of his own will, and when he had thus sworn his innocence he had to
sail with his ship to the Canobic mouth, or if it were not possible to
sail by reason of contrary winds, then he had to carry his cargo round
the head of the Delta in boats to Naucratis: thus highly was Naucratis
privileged. 180. Moreover when the Amphictyons had let out the
contract for building the temple which now exists at Delphi, agreeing
to pay a sum of three hundred talents, (for the temple which formerly
stood there had been burnt down of itself), it fell to the share of
the people of Delphi to provide the fourth part of the payment; and
accordingly the Delphians went about to various cities and collected
contributions. And when they did this they got from Egypt as much as
from any place, for Amasis gave them a thousand talents' weight of
alum, while the Hellenes who dwelt in Egypt gave them twenty pounds of

181. Also with the people of Kyrene Amasis made an agreement for
friendship and alliance; and he resolved too to marry a wife from
thence, whether because he desired to have a wife of Hellenic race, or
apart from that, on account of friendship for the people of Kyrene:
however that may be, he married, some say the daughter of Battos,
others of Arkesilaos,[154] and others of Critobulos, a man of repute
among the citizens; and her name was Ladike. Now whenever Amasis lay
with her he found himself unable to have intercourse, but with his
other wives he associated as he was wont; and as this happened
repeatedly, Amasis said to his wife, whose name was Ladike: "Woman,
thou hast given me drugs, and thou shalt surely perish[155] more
miserably than any other woman." Then Ladike, when by her denials
Amasis was not at all appeased in his anger against her, made a vow in
her soul to Aphrodite, that if Amasis on that night had intercourse
with her (seeing that this was the remedy for her danger), she would
send an image to be dedicated to her at Kyrene; and after the vow
immediately Amasis had intercourse, and from thenceforth whenever
Amasis came in to her he had intercourse with her; and after this he
became very greatly attached to her. And Ladike paid the vow that she
had made to the goddess; for she had an image made and sent it to
Kyrene, and it was still preserved even to my own time, standing with
its face turned away from the city of the Kyrenians. This Ladike
Cambyses, having conquered Egypt and heard from her who she was, sent
back unharmed to Kyrene.

182. Amasis also dedicated offerings in Hellas, first at Kyrene an
image of Athene covered over with gold and a figure of himself made
like by painting; then in the temple of Athene at Lindson two images
of stone and a corslet of linen worthy to be seen; and also at Samos
two wooden figures of himself dedicated to Hera, which were standing
even to my own time in the great temple, behind the doors. Now at
Samos he dedicated offerings because of the guest-friendship between
himself and Polycrates the son of Aiakes; at Lindos for no guest-
friendship but because the temple of Athene at Lindos is said to have
been founded by the daughters of Danaos, who had touched land there at
the time when they were fleeing from the sons of Aigyptos. These
offerings were dedicated by Amasis; and he was the first of men who
conquered Cyprus and subdued it so that it paid him tribute.


[1] Some write "Psammitichos" with less authority.

[2] {tou en Memphi}: many Editors read {en Memphi}, "I heard at
Memphis from the priests of Hephaistos," but with less authority.

[3] {'Eliou polin} or {'Elioupolin}, cp. {'Elioupolitai} below.

[4] {exo e ta ounamata auton mounon}. Some understand "them" to mean
"the gods"; rather perhaps the meaning is that accounts of such
things will not be related in full, but only touched upon.

[5] {ison peri auton epistasthai}.

[6] {anthropon}, emphatic, for the rulers before him were gods (ch.

[7] {Mina}: others read {Mena}, but the authority of the MSS. is
strong for {Mina} both here and in ch. 99.

[8] {tou Thebaikou nomou}, cp. ch. 164.

[9] {tautes on apo}: some MSS. omit {apo}, "this then is the land for
which the sixty /schoines/ are reckoned."

[10] For the measures of length cp. ch. 149. The furlong ({stadion})
is equal to 100 fathoms ({orguiai}), i.e. 606 feet 9 inches.

[11] Or "without rain": the word {anudros} is altered by some Editors
to {enudros} or {euudros}, "well watered."

[12] I have followed Stein in taking {es ta eiretai} with {legon},
meaning "at the Erythraian Sea," {taute men} being a repetition of
{te men} above. The bend back would make the range double, and
hence partly its great breadth. Others translate, "Here (at the
quarries) the range stops, and bends round to the parts mentioned
(i.e. the Erythraian Sea)."

[13] {os einai Aiguptou}: cp. iv. 81. Others translate, "considering
that it belongs to Egypt" (a country so vast), i.e. "as measures
go in Egypt." In any case {Aiguptos eousa} just below seems to
repeat the same meaning.

[14] Some Editors alter this to "fourteen."

[15] {pentastomou}: some less good MSS. have {eptastomou}, "which has
seven mouths."

[16] See note on i. 203.

[17] {ton erkhomai lexon}: these words are by many Editors marked as
spurious, and they certainly seem to be out of place here.

[18] {kou ge de}: "where then would not a gulf be filled up?"

[19] {katarregnumenen}: some Editors read {katerregmenen} ("broken up
by cracks") from {katerregnumenen}, which is given by many MSS.

[19a] Or possibly "with rock below," in which case perhaps
{upopsammoteren} would mean "rather sandy underneath."

[20] We do not know whether these measurements are in the larger
Egyptian cubit of 21 inches or the smaller (equal to the ordinary
Hellenic cubit) of 18 inches, cp. i. 178.

[21] {kai to omoion apodido es auxesin}, "and to yield the like return
as regards increased extent." (Mr. Woods); but the clause may be
only a repetition of the preceding one.

[22] i.e. Zeus.

[23] i.e. of the district of Thebes, the Thebas.

[24] {te Libue}.

[25] The meaning seems to be this: "The Ionians say that Egypt is the
Delta, and at the same time they divide the world into three
parts, Europe, Asia, and Libya, the last two being divided from
one another by the Nile. Thus they have left out Egypt altogether;
and either they must add the Delta as a fourth part of the world,
or they must give up the Nile as a boundary. If the name Egypt be
extended, as it is by the other Hellenes, to the upper course of
the Nile, it is then possible to retain the Nile as a boundary,
saying that half of Egypt belongs to Asia and half to Libya, and
disregarding the Delta (ch. 17). This also would be an error of
reckoning, but less serious than to omit Egypt together." The
reasoning is obscure because it alludes to theories (of Hecataios
and other writers) which are presumed to be already known to the

[26] {Katadoupon}, i.e. the first cataract.

[27] "and it gives us here, etc." ({parekhomenos}).

[28] {logo de eipein thoumasiotere}. Or perhaps, "and it is more
marvellous, so to speak."

[29] {ton ta polla esti andri ke k.t.l.} I take {ton} to refer to the
nature of the country, as mentioned above; but the use of {os} can
hardly be paralleled, and the passage probably requires
correction. Some Editors read {ton tekmeria polla esti k.t.l.}
"wherein there are many evidences to prove, etc." Stein omits
{ton} and alters the punctuation, so that the clauses run thus,
"when it flows from the hottest parts to those which for the most
part are cooler? For a man who is capable of reasoning about such
matters the first and greatest evidence to prove that it is not
likely to flow from snow, is afforded by the winds, etc."

[30] {ouk ekhei elegkhon}, "cannot be refuted" (because we cannot
argue with him), cp. Thuc. iii. 53, {ta de pseude elegkhon ekhei}.
Some translate, "does not prove his case."

[31] {tes arkhaies diexodou}, "his original (normal) course."

[32] {ouk eonton anemon psukhron}: the best MSS. read {kai anemon
psukhron} ("and there are cold winds"), which Stein retains,
explaining that the cold North winds would assist evaporation.

[33] {autos eoutou peei pollo upodeesteros e tou thereos}.

[34] {diakaion ten diexodon auto}, i.e. {to reri}. Some Editors read
{autou} (with inferior MSS.) or alter the word to {eoutou}.

[35] "set forth, so far as I understood."

[36] {epi makrotaton}, "carrying the inquiry as far as possible," cp.
ch. 34.

[37] I have little doubt that this means the island of Elephantine;
for at this point only would such a mixture of races be found. To
this the writer here goes back parenthetically, and then resumes
the account of the journey upwards from Tachompso. This view is
confirmed by the fact that Strabo relates the same thing with
regard to the island of Philai just above Elephantine.

[37a] Cp. i. 72, note 86.

[38] {oleureon}.

[39] {zeias}.

[40] i.e. the hieratic and the demotic characters.

[41] {murias, os eipein logo}.

[42] Referring apparently to iii. 28, where the marks of Apis are
given. Perhaps no animal could be sacrificed which had any of
these marks.

[43] {kephale keine}, "that head," cp. {koilien keinen} in the next

[44] {katharon}.

[45] {baris}, cp. ch. 96.

[46] Or, "descended from Aigyptos."

[46a] Or, "assuming that in those days as now, they were wont to make
voyages, and that some of the Hellenes were seafaring folk."

[47] {stelai}, "upright blocks."

[48] {lampontos tas nuktas megathos}: some Editors alter {megathos} to
{megalos} or {mega phos}.

[49] {enagizousi}.

[50] {uon}: some Editors read {oion} "sheep," on the authority of one

[51] {ta ounamata}, which means here rather the forms of
personification than the actual names.

[52] {ai pramanteis}.

[53] {phegon}.

[54] {upo phego pephukuie}, i.e. the oak-tree of the legend was a real
growing tree, though the dove was symbolical.

[55] {panegurias}.

[56] {prosagogas}, with the idea of bringing offerings or introducing

[57] {epoiethesan}, "were first celebrated."

[58] So B.R.

[59] {sumphoiteousi}.

[59a] i.e. 700,000.

[60] See ch. 40.

[61] {tesi thusiesi, en tini nukti}: some MSS. give {en te nukti}:
hence several Editors read {tes thusies en te nukti}, "on the
night of the sacrifice."

[62] Or, "for what end this night is held solemn by lighting of lamps"
(B.R.), making {phos kai timen} one idea.

[63] {alexomenous}: this, which is adopted by most Editors, is the
reading of some less good MSS.; the rest have {alexomenoi},
"strike them and defend themselves."

[63a] {eousa e Aiguptos k.t.l.}: the MSS. have {eousa de Aiguptos}:
Stein reads {eousa gar Aiguptos}.

[64] {theia pregmata katalambanei tous aielourous}, which may mean
only, "a marvellous thing happens to the cats."

[65] {es 'Ermeo polin}.

[66] {dikhelon, oplai boos}, "he is cloven-footed, and his foot is
that of an ox." The words {oplai boos} are marked as spurious by

[67] i.e. above the marshes, cp. ch. 92.

[68] {pante}, which by some is translated "taken all together," "at
most." Perhaps there is some corruption of text, and the writer
meant to say that it measured two cubits by one cubit.

[68a] The reading of the Medicean MS. is {en esti}, not {enesti} as
hitherto reported.

[69] Or, "calling the song Linos."

[70] {ton Linon okothen elabon}: the MSS. have {to ounoma} after
{elabon}, but this is omitted by almost all Editors except Stein,
who justifies it by a reference to ch. 50, and understands it to
mean "the person of Linos." No doubt the song and the person are
here spoken off indiscriminately, but this explanation would
require the reading {tou Linou}, as indeed Stein partly admits by
suggesting the alteration.

[71] The words "and Bacchic (which are really Egyptian)," are omitted
by several of the best MSS.

[72] {epezosmenai}.

[73] In connexion with death apparently, cp. ch. 132, 170. Osiris is

[74] {sindonos bussines}.

[75] {to kommi}.

[76] {nros}.

[77] Or, "a pleasant sweet taste."

[78] {apala}, "soft."

[79] {kat oligous ton kegkhron}.

[80] {apo ton sillikuprion tou karpou}.

[81] {zuga}, to tie the sides and serve as a partial deck.

[82] {esti de oud' outos}: a few MSS. have {ouk} instead of {oud'},
and most Editors follow them. The meaning however seems to be that
even here the course in time of flood is different, and much more
in the lower parts.

[83] {os apergmenos ree}: the MSS. mostly have {os apergmenos reei},
in place of which I have adopted the correction of Stein. Most
other Editors read {os apergmenos peei} (following a few inferior
MSS.), "the bend of the Nile which flows thus confined."

[84] Not therefore in the Delta, to which in ch. 15 was assigned a
later origin than this.

[85] {kat' ouden einai lamprotetos}: Stein reads {kai} for {kat'},
thus making the whole chapter parenthetical, with {ou gar elegon}
answered by {parameipsamenos on}, a conjecture which is ingenious
but not quite convincing.

[86] {stratien pollen labon}: most of the MSS. have {ton} after
{pollen}, which perhaps indicates that some words are lost.

[87] {kai prosotata}: many MSS. have {kai ou prosotata}, which is
defended by some Editors in the sense of a comparative, "and not

[88] {Suroi} in the better MSS.; see note in i.6.

[89] {Surioi}.

[90] {kata tauta}: the better MSS. have {kai kata tauta}, which might
be taken with what follows, punctuating after {ergazontai} (as in
the Medicean MS.): "they and the Egyptians alone of all nations
work flax; and so likewise they resemble one another in their
whole manner of living."

[91] {polon}, i.e. the concave sun-dial, in shape like the vault of

[92] The gnomon would be an upright staff or an obelisk for
observation of the length of the shadow.

[93] i.e. Red Clod.

[94] {Turion stratopedon}, i.e. "the Tyrian quarter" of the town: cp.
ch. 154.

[95] {ten sen}, or {tauten}, "this land."

[96] {es o meteke auton}, "until at last he dismissed it"; but the
construction is very irregular, and there is probably some
corruption of text. Stein reads {ekon} by conjecture for {es o}.

[97] {delon de kata per epoiese}: a conjectural emendation of {delon
de' kata gar epoiese}, which some editors retain, translating
thus, "and this is clear; for according to the manner in which
Homer described the wanderings of Alexander, etc., it is clear
how, etc."

[98] Il. vi. 289. The sixth book is not ordinarily included in the
{Diomedeos aristeia}.

[99] Od. iv. 227. These references to the Odyssey are by some thought
to be interpolations, because they refer only to the visit of
Menelaos to Egypt after the fall of Troy; but Herodotus is arguing
that Homer, while rejecting the legend of Helen's stay in Egypt
during the war, yet has traces of it left in this later visit to
Egypt of Menelaos and Helen, as well as in the visit of Paris and
Helen to Sidon.

[100] Od. iv. 351.

[101] {kai tode to khorion}: probably {to khorion} ought to be struck
out: "this also is evident."

[102] {podeonas}, being the feet of the animals whose skins they were.

[103] Cp. vii. 152.

[104] {elasai}, which may be intransitive, "rushed into every kind of

[105] {stadioi}.

[106] {krossas}.

[107] {bomidas}.

[108] i.e. the three small pyramids just to the East of the great

[109] {oute gar k.t.l.}, "for there are no underground chambers," etc.
Something which was in the mind of the writer has been omitted
either by himself or his copyists, "and inferior to it also in
other respects, for," etc. unless, as Stein supposes, we have here
a later addition thrown in without regard to the connexion.

[110] {touto megathos}, "as regards attaining the same size," but
probably the text is corrupt. Stein reads {to megathos} in his
later editions.

[111] Or, "Philition."

[112] {to theo}, the goddess Leto, cp. i. 105.

[113] {suntakhunein auton ton bion}: some MSS. and Editors read {auto}
for {auton}, "that heaven was shortening his life."

[114] More literally, "bidding him take up the blood-money, who
would." The people of Delphi are said to have put Esop to death
and to have been ordered by the Oracle to make compensation.

[115] {os an einai 'Podopin}: so the MSS. Some Editors read
{'Podopios}, others {'Podopi}.

[116] {antion de autout tou neou}.

[117] {epaphroditoi ginesthai}.

[118] {katekertomese min}: Athenus says that Sappho attacked the
mistress of Charaxos; but here {min} can hardly refer to any one
but Charaxos himself, who doubtless would be included in the same

[119] {propulaia}.

[120] "innumerable sights of buildings."

[121] {tassomenon}, "posted," like an army; but the text is probably
unsound: so also in the next line, where the better MSS. have {men
Boubasti poli}, others {e en Boubasti polis}. Stein reads {e en
Boubasti poli}, "the earth at the city of Bubastis." Perhaps {e en
Boubasti polis} might mean the town as opposed to the temple, as
Mr. Woods suggests.

[122] Cp. ch. 161, {egeneto apo prophasios, ton k.t.l.} Perhaps
however {prophasin} is here from {prophaino} (cp. Soph. Trach.
662), and it means merely "that the gods were foreshowing him this
in order that," etc. So Stein.

[123] i.e. for their customary gift or tribute to him as king.

[124] The chronology is inconsistent, and some propose, without
authority, to read "three hundred years."

[125] {tas arouras}, cp. ch. 168, where the {aroura} is defined as a
hundred Egyptian units square, about three-quarters of an acre.

[126] {es to megaron}.

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