An Account of Egypt

Part 2 out of 2

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. 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. 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 by 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 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. 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 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.
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. 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.

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. 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 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.

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 to every kind of
evil: for he shut up all the temples, and having first kept them from
sacrifices 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 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 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.
This pyramid was made after the manner of steps which some called
"rows" and others "bases": 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? 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): and 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
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, each side being one hundred and fifty feet
in length.

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 of dealing 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 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, 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. 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 the shepherd, who at
that time pastured flocks in those regions. 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. This cow was not covered
up in the ground, but it might be seen even down to my own time in the
city of Sais, 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 Sais 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. 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. 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 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.

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, 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 came a second message, which
said that it was for this very cause that he was bringing his life to
a swift close; 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 arisen before him
had perceived this, but he had not. Mykerinos having heard this, and
considering that this sentence had 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 of 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.

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 them these 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 by 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 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 showed that
Esop too was the slave of Iadmon. 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, 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. Now at
Naucratis, as it happens, the courtesans are rather apt to win credit;
for this woman first, about whom the story to which I refer is told,
became so famous that all the Hellenes without exception came to know
the name of Rhodopis, and then after her one whose name was Archidiche
became a subject of song all over 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. Of
Rhodopis then I shall say no more.

After Mykerinos the priests said Asychis became king of Egypt, and he
made for Hephaistos the temple gateway 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 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 of the 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 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

Such were the deeds which this king performed: 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 to 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 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 build
with more cost, none more than this is a pleasure to the eyes. Now
Bubastis in the Hellenic tongue is Artemis, 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.

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 in 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, 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.

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. This island none was able to find before
Amyrtaios; that is, for more than seven hundred years 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.

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 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 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 would himself 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."

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 arise 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; 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. 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
his, 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." 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 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.

Among the Hellenes Heracles and Dionysos and Pan are accounted the
lastest-born of the gods; but with the Egyptians Pan is a very ancient
god, and he is one of those which are called 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. 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. 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 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; 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

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). 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 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.

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 (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 when
the water comes in. 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

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. 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
Sais 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, 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. 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. 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"; 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: and of the Oracle which is in
Egypt I have made mention often before this, and now I 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 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 of Leto made of one single stone upon the top, the
cornice measuring four cubits. This house 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
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 AEschylus the son of Euphorion took 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; 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

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 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 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. Thus having ceased from the work of the channel, Necos betook
himself to raging 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

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, 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.

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, 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. 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 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, 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, for he
would both come himself and bring others 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, 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. 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 Sais, 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

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,--for all Egypt is divided into
districts. The districts of the Hermotybians are those of Busiris,
Sais, 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. Of these not one has been
learnt anything of handicraft, but they are given up to war entirely.
Again the districts of the Calasirians are those of Thebes, Bubastis,
Aphthis, Tanis, Mendes, Sebennytos, Athribis, Pharbaithos, Thmuis,
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 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. 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

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 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; and these had besides
their yokes of land an allowance given them for each day of five
pounds weight of bread to each man, and two pounds of beef, and four
half-pints of wine. This was the allowance given to those who were
serving as the king's body-guard for the time being.

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 in 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 Sais, 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 Sais 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. Also at Sais 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, 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" in Delos. 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.

Apries having thus been overthrown, Amasis became king, being of the
district of Sais, 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. In such manner he won the Egyptians to himself, so
that they consented to be his subjects; and his ordering of affairs
was this:--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; 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. 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. First in Sais
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 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 Sais: 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, 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 is 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. 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 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. There is also another of stone of the same size in
Sais, 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.

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.

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. 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. 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 free 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. 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 silver.

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, 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 shall surely perish more miserably than any other."
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 is 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.

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 Lindos 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.


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