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An Account of Egypt
Author: Herodotus

An Account of Egypt

When Cyrus had brought his life to an end, Cambyses received the royal
power in succession, being the son of Cyrus and of Cassandane the
daughter of Pharnaspes, for whose death, which came about before his
own, Cyrus had made great mourning himself and also had proclaimed to
all those over whom he bore rule that they should make mourning for
her: Cambyses, I say, being the son of this woman and of Cyrus,
regarded the Ionians and Aiolians as slaves inherited from his father;
and he proceeded to march an army against Egypt, taking with him as
helpers not only other nations of which he was ruler, but also those
of the Hellenes over whom he had power besides.

Now the Egyptians, before the time when Psammetichos became king over
them, were wont to suppose that they had come into being first of all
men; but since the time when Psammetichos having become king desired
to know what men had come into being first, they suppose that the
Phrygians came into being before themselves, but they themselves
before all other men. Now Psammetichos, when he was not able by
inquiry to find out any means of knowing who had come into being first
of all men, contrived a device of the following kind:--Taking two new-
born children belonging to persons of the common sort he gave them to
a shepherd to bring up at the place where his flocks were, with a
manner of bringing up such as I shall say, charging him namely that no
man should utter any word in their presence, and that they should be
placed by themselves in a room where none might come, and at the
proper time he should bring them she-goats, and when he had satisfied
them with milk he should do for them whatever else was needed. These
things Psammetichos did and gave him this charge wishing to hear what
word the children would let break forth first after they had ceased
from wailings without sense. And accordingly it came to pass; for
after a space of two years had gone by, during which the shepherd went
on acting so, at length, when he opened the door and entered, both
children fell before him in entreaty and uttered the word /bekos/,
stretching forth their hands. At first when he heard this the shepherd
kept silence; but since this word was often repeated, as he visited
them constantly and attended to them, at last he declared the matter
to his master, and at his command he brought the children before his
face. Then Psammetichos having himself also heard it, began to inquire
what nation of men named anything /bekos/, and inquiring he found that
the Phrygians had this name for bread. In this manner and guided by an
indication such as this, the Egyptians were brought to allow that the
Phrygians were a more ancient people than themselves. That so it came
to pass I heard from the priests of that Hephaistos who dwells at
Memphis; but the Hellenes relate, besides many other idle tales, that
Psammetichos cut out the tongues of certain women and then caused the
children to live with these women.

With regard then to the rearing of the children they related so much
as I have said: and I heard also other things at Memphis when I had
speech with the priests of Hephaistos. Moreover I visited both Thebes
and Heliopolis for this very cause, namely because I wished to know
whether the priests at these places would agree in their accounts with
those at Memphis; for the men of Heliopolis are said to be the most
learned in records of the Egyptians. Those of their narrations which I
heard with regard to the gods I am not earnest to relate in full, but
I shall name them only because I consider that all men are equally
ignorant of these matters: and whatever things of them I may record I
shall record only because I am compelled by the course of the story.
But as to those matters which concern men, the priests agreed with one
another in saying that the Egyptians were the first of all men on
earth to find out the course of the year, having divided the seasons
into twelve parts to make up the whole; and this they said they found
out from the stars: and they reckon to this extent more wisely than
the Hellenes, as it seems to me, inasmuch as the Hellenes throw in an
intercalated month every other year, to make the seasons right,
whereas the Egyptians, reckoning the twelve months at thirty days
each, bring in also every year five days beyond number, and thus the
circle of their season is completed and comes round to the same point
whence it set out. They said moreover that the Egyptians were the
first who brought into use appellations for the twelve gods and the
Hellenes took up the use from them; and that they were the first who
assigned altars and images and temples to the gods, and who engraved
figures on stones; and with regard to the greater number of these
things they showed me by actual facts that they had happened so. They
said also that the first man who became king of Egypt was Min; and
that in his time all Egypt except the district of Thebes was a swamp,
and none of the regions were then above water which now lie below the
lake of Moiris, to which lake it is a voyage of seven days up the
river from the sea: and I thought that they said well about the land;
for it is manifest in truth even to a person who has not heard it
beforehand but has only seen, at least if he have understanding, that
the Egypt to which the Hellenes come in ships is a land which has been
won by the Egyptians as an addition, and that it is a gift of the
river: moreover the regions which lie above this lake also for a
distance of three days' sail, about which they did not go on to say
anything of this kind, are nevertheless another instance of the same
thing: for the nature of the land of Egypt is as follows:--First when
you are still approaching it in a ship and are distant a day's run
from the land, if you let down a sounding-line you will bring up mud
and you will find yourself in eleven fathoms. This then so far shows
that there is a silting forward of the land. Then secondly, as to
Egypt itself, the extent of it along the sea is sixty /schoines/,
according to our definition of Egypt as extending from the Gulf of
Plinthine to the Serbonian lake, along which stretches Mount Casion;
from this lake then the sixty /schoines/ are reckoned: for those of
men who are poor in land have their country measured by fathoms, those
who are less poor by furlongs, those who have much land by parasangs,
and those who have land in very great abundance by /schoines/: now the
parasang is equal to thirty furlongs, and each /schoine/, which is an
Egyptian measure, is equal to sixty furlongs. So there would be an
extent of three thousand six hundred furlongs for the coast-land of
Egypt. From thence and as far as Heliopolis inland Egypt is broad, and
the land is all flat and without springs of water and formed of mud:
and the road as one goes inland from the sea to Heliopolis is about
the same in length as that which leads from the altar of the twelve
gods at Athens to Pisa and the temple of Olympian Zeus: reckoning up
you would find the difference very small by which these roads fail of
being equal in length, not more indeed than fifteen furlongs; for the
road from Athens to Pisa wants fifteen furlongs of being fifteen
hundred, while the road to Heliopolis from the sea reaches that number
completely. From Heliopolis however, as you go up, Egypt is narrow;
for on the one side a mountain-range belonging to Arabia stretches
along by the side of it, going in a direction from the North towards
the midday and the South Wind, tending upwards without a break to that
which is called the Erythraian Sea, in which range are the stone-
quarries which were used in cutting stone for the pyramids at Memphis.
On this side then the mountain ends where I have said, and then takes
a turn back; and where it is widest, as I was informed, it is a
journey of two months across from East to West; and the borders of it
which turn towards the East are said to produce frankincense. Such
then is the nature of this mountain-range; and on the side of Egypt
towards Libya another range extends, rocky and enveloped in sand: in
this are the pyramids, and it runs in the same direction as those
parts of the Arabian mountains which go towards the midday. So then, I
say, from Heliopolis the land has no longer a great extent so far as
it belongs to Egypt, and for about four days' sail up the river Egypt
properly so called is narrow: and the space between the mountain-
ranges which have been mentioned is plain-land, but where it is
narrowest it did not seem to me to exceed two hundred furlongs from
the Arabian mountains to those which are called the Libyan. After this
again Egypt is broad. Such is the nature of this land: and from
Heliopolis to Thebes is a voyage up the river of nine days, and the
distance of the journey in furlongs is four thousand eight hundred and
sixty, the number of /schoines/ being eighty-one. If these measures of
Egypt in furlongs be put together, the result is as follows:--I have
already before this shown that the distance along the sea amounts to
three thousand six hundred furlongs, and I will now declare what the
distance is inland from the sea to Thebes, namely six thousand one
hundred and twenty furlongs: and again the distance from Thebes to the
city called Elephantine is one thousand eight hundred furlongs.

Of this land then, concerning which I have spoken, it seemed to myself
also, according as the priests said, that the greater part had been
won as an addition by the Egyptians; for it was evident to me that the
space between the aforesaid mountain-ranges, which lie above the city
of Memphis, once was a gulf of the sea, like the regions about Ilion
and Teuthrania and Ephesos and the plain of the Maiander, if it be
permitted to compare small things with great; and small these are in
comparison, for of the rivers which heaped up the soil in those
regions none is worthy to be compared in volume with a single one of
the mouths of the Nile, which has five mouths. Moreover there are
other rivers also, not in size at all equal to the Nile, which have
performed great feats; of which I can mention the names of several,
and especially the Acheloos, which flowing through Acarnania and so
issuing out into the sea has already made half of the Echinades from
islands into mainland. Now there is in the land of Arabia, not far
from Egypt, a gulf of the sea running in from that which is called the
Erythraian Sea, very long and narrow, as I am about to tell. With
respect to the length of the voyage along it, one who set out from the
innermost point to sail out through it into the open sea, would spend
forty days upon the voyage, using oars; and with respect to breadth,
where the gulf is broadest it is half a day's sail across: and there
is in it an ebb and flow of tide every day. Just such another gulf I
suppose that Egypt was, and that the one ran in towards Ethiopia from
the Northern Sea, and the other, the Arabian, of which I am about to
speak, tended from the South towards Syria, the gulfs boring in so as
almost to meet at their extreme points, and passing by one another
with but a small space left between. If then the stream of the Nile
should turn aside into this Arabian gulf, what would hinder that gulf
from being filled up with silt as the river continued to flow, at all
events within a period of twenty thousand years? indeed for my part I
am of the opinion that it would be filled up even within ten thousand
years. How, then, in all the time that has elapsed before I came into
being should not a gulf be filled up even of much greater size than
this by a river so great and so active? As regards Egypt then, I both
believe those who say that things are so, and for myself also I am
strongly of opinion that they are so; because I have observed that
Egypt runs out into the sea further than the adjoining land, and that
shells are found upon the mountains of it, and an efflorescence of
salt forms upon the surface, so that even the pyramids are being eaten
away by it, and moreover that of all the mountains of Egypt, the range
which lies above Memphis is the only one which has sand: besides which
I notice that Egypt resembles neither the land of Arabia, which
borders upon it, nor Libya, nor yet Syria (for they are Syrians who
dwell in the parts of Arabia lying along the sea), but that it has
soil which is black and easily breaks up, seeing that it is in truth
mud and silt brought down from Ethiopia by the river: but the soil of
Libya, we know, is reddish in colour and rather sandy, while that of
Arabia and Syria is somewhat clayey and rocky. The priests also gave
me a strong proof concerning this land as follows, namely that in the
reign of king Moiris, whenever the river reached a height of at least
eight cubits it watered Egypt below Memphis; and not yet nine hundred
years had gone by since the death of Moiris, when I heard these things
from the priests: now however, unless the river rises to sixteen
cubits, or fifteen at the least, it does not go over the land. I think
too that those Egyptians who dwell below the lake of Moiris and
especially in that region which is called the Delta, if that land
continues to grow in height according to this proportion and to
increase similarly in extent, will suffer for all remaining time, from
the Nile not overflowing their land, that same thing which they
themselves said that the Hellenes would at some time suffer: for
hearing that the whole land of the Hellenes has rain and is not
watered by rivers as theirs is, they said that the Hellenes would at
some time be disappointed of a great hope and would suffer the ills of
famine. This saying means that if the god shall not send them rain,
but shall allow drought to prevail for a long time, the Hellenes will
be destroyed by hunger; for they have in fact no other supply of water
to save them except from Zeus alone. This has been rightly said by the
Egyptians with reference to the Hellenes: but now let me tell how
matters are with the Egyptians themselves in their turn. If, in
accordance with what I before said, their land below Memphis (for this
is that which is increasing) shall continue to increase in height
according to the same proportion as in the past time, assuredly those
Egyptians who dwell here will suffer famine, if their land shall not
have rain nor the river be able to go over their fields. It is certain
however that now they gather in fruit from the earth with less labour
than any other men and also with less than the other Egyptians; for
they have no labour in breaking up furrows with a plough nor in hoeing
nor in any other of those labours which other men have about a crop;
but when the river has come up of itself and watered their fields and
after watering has left them again, then each man sows his own field
and turns into it swine, and when he has trodden the seed into the
ground by means of the swine, after that he waits for the harvest, and
when he has threshed the corn by means of the swine, then he gathers
it in.

If we desire to follow the opinions of the Ionians as regards Egypt,
who say that the Delta alone is Egypt, reckoning its sea-coast to be
from the watch-tower called of Perseus to the fish-curing houses of
Pelusion, a distance of forty /schoines/, and counting it to extend
inland as far as the city of Kercasoros, where the Nile divides and
runs to Pelusion and Canobos, while as for the rest of Egypt, they
assign it partly to Libya and partly to Arabia,--if, I say, we should
follow this account, we should thereby declare that in former times
the Egyptians had no land to live in; for, as we have seen, their
Delta at any rate is alluvial, and has appeared (so to speak) lately,
as the Egyptians themselves say and as my opinion is. If then at the
first there was no land for them to live in, why did they waste their
labour to prove that they had come into being before all other men?
They needed not to have made trial of the children to see what
language they would first utter. However I am not of the opinion that
the Egyptians came into being at the same time as that which is called
by the Ionians the Delta, but that they existed always ever since the
human race came into being, and that as their land advanced forwards,
many of them were left in their first abodes and many came down
gradually to the lower parts. At least it is certain that in old times
Thebes had the name of Egypt, and of this the circumference measures
six thousand one hundred and twenty furlongs.

If then we judge aright of these matters, the opinion of the Ionians
about Egypt is not sound: but if the judgment of the Ionians is right,
I declare that neither the Hellenes nor the Ionians themselves know
how to reckon since they say that the whole earth is made up of three
divisions, Europe, Asia, and Libya: for they ought to count in
addition to these the Delta of Egypt, since it belongs neither to Asia
nor to Libya; for at least it cannot be the river Nile by this
reckoning which divides Asia from Libya, but the Nile is cleft at the
point of this Delta so as to flow round it, and the result is that
this land would come between Asia and Libya.

We dismiss then our opinion of the Ionians, and express a judgment of
our own on this matter also, that Egypt is all that land which is
inhabited by Egyptians, just as Kilikia is that which is inhabited by
Kilikians and Assyria that which is inhabited by Assyrians, and we
know of no boundary properly speaking between Asia and Libya except
the borders of Egypt. If however we shall adopt the opinion which is
commonly held by the Hellenes, we shall suppose that the whole of
Egypt, beginning from the Cataract and the city of Elephantine, is
divided into two parts and that it thus partakes of both the names,
since one side will thus belong to Libya and the other to Asia; for
the Nile from the Cataract onwards flows to the sea cutting Egypt
through in the midst; and as far as the city of Kercasoros the Nile
flows in one single stream, but from this city onwards it is parted
into three ways; and one, which is called the Pelusian mouth, turns
towards the East; the second of the ways goes towards the West, and
this is called the Canobic mouth; but that one of the ways which is
straight runs thus,--when the river in its course downwards comes to
the point of the Delta, then it cuts the Delta through the midst and
so issues out to the sea. In this we have a portion of the water of
the river which is not the smallest nor the least famous, and it is
called the Sebennytic mouth. There are also two other mouths which
part off from the Sebennytic and go to the sea, and these are called,
one the Saitic, the other the Mendesian mouth. The Bolbitinitic, and
Bucolic mouths, on the other hand, are not natural but made by
digging. Moreover also the answer given by the Oracle of Ammon bears
witness in support of my opinion that Egypt is of the extent which I
declare it to be in my account; and of this answer I heard after I had
formed my own opinion about Egypt. For those of the city of Marea and
of Apis, dwelling in the parts of Egypt which border on Libya, being
of opinion themselves that they were Libyans and not Egyptians, and
also being burdened by the rules of religious service, because they
desired not to be debarred from the use of cows' flesh, sent to Ammon
saying that they had nought in common with the Egyptians, for they
dwelt outside the Delta and agreed with them in nothing; and they said
they desired that it might be lawful for them to eat everything
without distinction. The god however did not permit them to do so, but
said that that land was Egypt where the Nile came over and watered,
and that those were Egyptians who dwelling below the city of
Elephantine drank of that river. Thus was it answered to them by the
Oracle about this: and the Nile, when it is in flood, goes over not
only the Delta but also of the land which is called Libyan and of that
which is called Arabian sometimes as much as two days' journey on each
side, and at times even more than this or at times less.

As regards the nature of the river, neither from the priests nor yet
from any other man was I able to obtain any knowledge: and I was
desirous especially to learn from them about these matters, namely why
the Nile comes down increasing in volume from the summer solstice
onwards for a hundred days, and then, when it has reached the number
of these days, turns and goes back, failing in its stream, so that
through the whole winter season it continues to be low, and until the
summer solstice returns. Of none of these things was I able to receive
any account from the Egyptians, when I inquired of them what power the
Nile has whereby it is of a nature opposite to that of all other
rivers. And I made inquiry, desiring to know both this which I say and
also why, unlike all other rivers, it does not give rise to any
breezes blowing from it. However some of the Hellenes who desired to
gain distinction for cleverness have given an account of this water in
three different ways: two of these I do not think it worth while even
to speak of except only to indicate their nature; of which the one
says that the Etesian Winds are the cause that makes the river rise,
by preventing the Nile from flowing out into the sea. But often the
Etesian Winds fail and yet the Nile does the same work as it is wont
to do; and moreover, if these were the cause, all the other rivers
also which flow in a direction opposed to the Etesian Winds ought to
have been affected in the same way as the Nile, and even more, in as
much as they are smaller and present to them a feebler flow of
streams: but there are many of these rivers in Syria and many also in
Libya, and they are affected in no such manner as the Nile. The second
way shows more ignorance than that which has been mentioned, and it is
more marvellous to tell; for it says that the river produces these
effects because it flows from the Ocean, and that the Ocean flows
round the whole earth. The third of the ways is much the most
specious, but nevertheless it is the most mistaken of all: for indeed
this way has no more truth in it than the rest, alleging as it does
that the Nile flows from melting snow; whereas it flows out of Libya
through the midst of the Ethiopians, and so comes out into Egypt. How
then should it flow from snow, when it flows from the hottest parts to
those which are cooler? And indeed most of the facts are such as to
convince a man (one at least who is capable of reasoning about such
matters), that it is not at all likely that it flows from snow. The
first and greatest evidence is afforded by the winds, which blow hot
from these regions; the second is that the land is rainless always and
without frost, whereas after snow has fallen rain must necessarily
come within five days, so that if it snowed in those parts rain would
fall there; the third evidence is afforded by the people dwelling
there, who are of a black colour by reason of the burning heat.
Moreover kites and swallows remain there through the year and do not
leave the land; and cranes flying from the cold weather which comes on
in the region of Scythia come regularly to these parts for wintering:
if then it snowed ever so little in that land through which the Nile
flows and in which it has its rise, none of these things would take
place, as necessity compels us to admit. As for him who talked about
the Ocean, he carried his tale into the region of the unknown, and so
he need not be refuted; since I for my part know of no river Ocean
existing, but I think that Homer or one of the poets who were before
him invented the name and introduced it into his verse.

If however after I have found fault with the opinions proposed, I am
bound to declare an opinion of my own about the matters which are in
doubt, I will tell what to my mind is the reason why the Nile
increases in the summer. In the winter season the Sun, being driven
away from his former path through the heaven by the stormy winds,
comes to the upper parts of Libya. If one would set forth the matter
in the shortest way, all has now been said; for whatever region this
god approaches most and stands directly above, this it may reasonably
be supposed is most in want of water, and its native streams of rivers
are dried up most. However, to set it forth at greater length, thus it
is:--the Sun passing in his course by the upper parts of Libya, does
thus, that is to say, since at all times the air in those parts is
clear and the country is warm, because there are no cold winds, in
passing through it the Sun does just as he was wont to do in the
summer, when going through the midst of the heaven, that is he draws
to himself the water, and having drawn it he drives it away to the
upper parts of the country, and the winds take it up and scattering it
abroad melt it into rain; so it is natural that the winds which blow
from this region, namely the South and South-west Winds, should be
much the most rainy of all the winds. I think however that the Sun
does not send away from himself all the water of the Nile of each
year, but that also he lets some remain behind with himself. Then when
the winter becomes milder, the Sun returns back again to the midst of
the heaven, and from that time onwards he draws equally from all
rivers; but in the meantime they flow in large volume, since water of
rain mingles with them in great quantity, because their country
receives rain then and is filled with torrent streams. In summer
however they are weak, since not only the showers of rain fail them,
but also they are drawn by the Sun. The Nile however, alone of all
rivers, not having rain and being drawn by the Sun, naturally flows
during this time of winter in much less than its proper volume, that
is much less than in summer; for then it is drawn equally with all the
other waters, but in winter it bears the burden alone. Thus I suppose
the Sun to be the cause of these things. He also is the cause in my
opinion that the air in these parts is dry, since he makes it so by
scorching up his path through the heaven: thus summer prevails always
in the upper parts of Libya. If however the station of the seasons had
been changed, and where now in the heaven are placed the North Wind
and winter, there was the station of the South Wind and of the midday,
and where now is placed the South Wind, there was the North, if this
had been so, the Sun being driven from the midst of the heaven by the
winter and the North Wind would go to the upper parts of Europe, just
as now he comes to the upper parts of Libya, and passing in his course
throughout the whole of Europe I suppose he would do to the Ister that
which he now works upon the Nile. As to the breeze, why none blows
from the river, my opinion is that from very hot places it is not
natural that anything should blow, and that a breeze is wont to blow
from something cold.

Let these matters then be as they are and as they were at the first:
but as to the sources of the Nile, not one either of the Egyptians or
of the Libyans or of the Hellenes, who came to speech with me,
professed to know anything, except the scribe of the sacred treasury
of Athene at the city of Sais in Egypt. To me however this man seemed
not to be speaking seriously when he said that he had certain
knowledge of it; and he said as follows, namely that there were two
mountains of which the tops ran up to a sharp point, situated between
the city of Syene, which is in the district of Thebes, and
Elephantine, and the names of the mountains were, of the one Crophi
and of the other Mophi. From the middle between these mountains flowed
(he said) the sources of the Nile, which were fathomless in depth, and
half of the water flowed to Egypt and towards the North Wind, the
other half to Ethiopia and the South Wind. As for the fathomless depth
of the source, he said that Psammetichos king of Egypt came to a trial
of this matter; for he had a rope twisted of many thousand fathoms and
let it down in this place, and it found no bottom. By this the scribe
(if this which he told was really as he said) gave me to understand
that there were certain strong eddies there and a backward flow, and
that since the water dashed against the mountains, therefore the
sounding-line could not come to any bottom when it was let down. From
no other person was I able to learn anything about this matter; but
for the rest I learnt so much as here follows by the most diligent
inquiry; for I went myself as an eye-witness as far as the city of
Elephantine and from that point onwards I gathered knowledge by
report. From the city of Elephantine as one goes up the river there is
country which slopes steeply; so that here one must attach ropes to
the vessel on both sides, as one fastens an ox, and so make one's way
onward; and if the rope break, the vessel is gone at once, carried
away by the violence of the stream. Through this country it is a
voyage of about four days in length, and in this part the Nile is
winding like the river Maiander, and the distance amounts to twelve
/schoines/, which one must traverse in this manner. Then you will come
to a level plain, in which the Nile flows round an island named
Tachompso. (Now in the regions above the Elephantine there dwell
Ethiopians at once succeeding, who also occupy half of the island, and
Egyptians the other half.) Adjoining this island there is a great
lake, round which dwell Ethiopian nomad tribes; and when you have
sailed through this you will come to the stream of the Nile again,
which flows into this lake. After this you will disembark and make a
journey by land of forty days; for in the Nile sharp rocks stand forth
out of the water, and there are many reefs, by which it is not
possible for a vessel to pass. Then after having passed through this
country in the forty days which I have said, you will embark again in
another vessel and sail for twelve days; and after this you will come
to a great city called Meroe. This city is said to be the mother-city
of all the other Ethiopians: and they who dwell in it reverence of the
gods Zeus and Dionysos alone, and these they greatly honour; and they
have an Oracle of Zeus established, and make warlike marches
whensoever the god commands them by prophesyings and to whatsoever
place he commands. Sailing from this city you will come to the
"Deserters" in another period of time equal to that in which you came
from Elephantine to the mother-city of the Ethiopians. Now the name of
these "Deserters" is /Asmach/, and this word signifies, when
translated into the tongue of the Hellenes, "those who stand on the
left hand of the king." These were two hundred and forty thousand
Egyptians of the warrior class, who revolted and went over to these
Ethiopians for the following cause:--In the reign of Psammetichos
garrisons were set, one towards the Ethiopians at the city of
Elephantine, another towards the Arabians and Assyrians at Daphnai of
Pelusion, and another towards Libya at Marea: and even in my own time
the garrisons of the Persians too are ordered in the same manner as
these were in the reign of Psammetichos, for both at Elephantine and
at Daphnai the Persians have outposts. The Egyptians then of whom I
speak had served as outposts for three years and no one relieved them
from their guard; accordingly they took counsel together, and adopting
a common plan they all in a body revolted from Psammetichos and set
out for Ethiopia. Hearing this Psammetichos set forth in pursuit, and
when he came up with them he entreated them much and endeavoured to
persuade them not to desert the gods of their country and their
children and wives: upon which it is said that one of them pointed to
his privy member and said that wherever this was, there would they
have both children and wives. When these came to Ethiopia they gave
themselves over to the king of the Ethiopians; and he rewarded them as
follows:--there were certain of the Ethiopians who had come to be at
variance with him; and he bade them drive these out and dwell in their
land. So since these men settled in the land of the Ethiopians, the
Ethiopians have come to be of milder manners, from having learnt the
customs of the Egyptians.

The Nile then, besides the part of its course which is in Egypt, is
known as far as a four months' journey by river and land: for that is
the number of months which are found by reckoning to be spent in going
from Elephantine to these "Deserters": and the river runs from the
West and the setting of the sun. But what comes after that point no
one can clearly say; for this land is desert by reason of the burning
heat. This much however I heard from men of Kyrene, who told me that
they had been to the Oracle of Ammon, and had come to speech with
Etearchos king of the Ammonians: and it happened that after speaking
of other matters they fell to discourse about the Nile and how no one
knew the sources of it; and Etearchos said that once there came to him
men of the Nasamonians (this is a Libyan race which dwells in the
Syrtis, and also in the land to the East of the Syrtis reaching to no
great distance), and when the Nasamonians came and were asked by him
whether they were able to tell him anything more than he knew about
the desert parts of Libya, they said that there had been among them
certain sons of chief men, who were of unruly disposition; and these
when they grew up to be men had devised various other extravagant
things and also they had told off by lot five of themselves to go to
see the desert parts of Libya and to try whether they could discover
more than those who had previously explored furthest: for in those
parts of Libya which are by the Northern Sea, beginning from Egypt and
going as far as the headland of Soloeis, which is the extreme point of
Libya, Libyans (and of them many races) extend along the whole coast,
except so much as the Hellenes and Phenicians hold; but in the upper
parts, which lie above the sea-coast and above those people whose land
comes down to the sea, Libya is full of wild beasts; and in the parts
above the land of wild beasts it is full of sand, terribly waterless
and utterly desert. These young men then (said they), being sent out
by their companions well furnished with supplies of water and
provisions, went first through the inhabited country, and after they
had passed through this they came to the country of wild beasts, and
after this they passed through the desert, making their journey
towards the West Wind; and having passed through a great tract of sand
in many days, they saw at last trees growing in a level place; and
having come up to them, they were beginning to pluck the fruit which
was upon the trees: but as they began to pluck it, there came upon
them small men, of less stature than men of the common size, and these
seized them and carried them away; and neither could the Nasamonians
understand anything of their speech nor could those who were carrying
them off understand anything of the speech of the Nasamonians; and
they led them (so it was said) through very great swamps, and after
passing through these they came to a city in which all the men were in
size like those who carried them off and in colour of skin black; and
by the city ran a great river, which ran from the West towards the
sunrising, and in it were seen crocodiles. Of the account given by
Etearchos the Ammonian let so much suffice as is here said, except
that, as the men of Kyrene told me, he alleged that the Nasamonians
returned safe home, and that the people to whom they had come were all
wizards. Now this river which ran by the city, Etearchos conjectured
to be the Nile, and moreover reason compels us to think so; for the
Nile flows from Libya and cuts Libya through in the midst, and as I
conjecture, judging of what is not known by that which is evident to
the view, it starts at a distance from its mouth equal to that of the
Ister: for the river Ister begins from the Keltoi and the city of
Pyrene and so runs that it divides Europe in the midst (now the Keltoi
are outside the Pillars of Heracles and border upon the Kynesians, who
dwell furthest towards the sunset of all those who have their dwelling
in Europe): and the Ister ends, having its course through the whole of
Europe, by flowing into the Euxine Sea at the place where the
Milesians have their settlement of Istria. Now the Ister, since it
flows through land which is inhabited, is known by the reports of
many; but of the sources of the Nile no one can give an account, for
the part of Libya through which it flows is uninhabited and desert.
About its course however so much as it was possible to learn by the
most diligent inquiry has been told; and it runs out into Egypt. Now
Egypt lies nearly opposite to the mountain districts of Kilikia; and
from thence to Sinope, which lies upon the Euxine Sea, is a journey in
the same straight line of five days for a man without encumbrance; and
Sinope lies opposite to the place where the Ister runs out into the
sea: thus I think that the Nile passes through the whole of Libya and
is of equal measure with the Ister.

Of the Nile then let so much suffice as has been said. Of Egypt
however I shall make my report at length, because it has wonders more
in number than any other land, and works too it has to show as much as
any land, which are beyond expression great: for this reason then more
shall be said concerning it.

The Egyptians in agreement with their climate, which is unlike any
other, and with the river, which shows a nature different from all
other rivers, established for themselves manners and customs in a way
opposite to other men in almost all matters: for among them the women
frequent the market and carry on trade, while the men remain at home
and weave; and whereas others weave pushing the woof upwards, the
Egyptians push it downwards: the men carry their burdens upon their
heads and the women upon their shoulders: the women make water
standing up and the men crouching down: they ease themselves in their
houses and they eat without in the streets, alleging as reason for
this that it is right to do secretly the things that are unseemly
though necessary, but those which are not unseemly, in public: no
woman is a minister either of male or female divinity, but men of all,
both male and female: to support their parents the sons are in no way
compelled, if they do not desire to do so, but the daughters are
forced to do so, be they never so unwilling. The priests of the gods
in other lands wear long hair, but in Egypt they shave their heads:
among other men the custom is that in mourning those whom the matter
concerns most nearly have their hair cut short, but the Egyptians,
when deaths occur, let their hair grow long, both that on the head and
that on the chin, having before been close shaven: other men have
their daily living separated from beasts, but the Egyptians have
theirs together with beasts: other men live on wheat and on barley,
but to any one of the Egyptians who makes his living on these it is a
great reproach; they make their bread of maize, which some call spelt:
they knead dough with their feet and clay with their hands, with which
also they gather up dung: and whereas other men, except such as have
learnt otherwise from the Egyptians, have their members as nature made
them, the Egyptians practice circumcision: as to garments, the men
wear two each and the women but one: and whereas others make fast the
rings and ropes of the sails outside the ship, the Egyptians do this
inside: finally in the writing of characters and reckoning with
pebbles, while the Hellenes carry the hand from the left to the right,
the Egyptians do this from the right to the left; and doing so they
say that they do it themselves rightwise and the Hellenes leftwise:
and they use two kinds of characters for writing, of which the one
kind is called sacred and the other common.

They are religious excessively beyond all other men, and with regard
to this they have customs as follows:--they drink from cups of bronze
and rinse them out every day, and not some only do this but all: they
wear garments of linen always newly washed, and this they make a
special point of practice: they circumcise themselves for the sake of
cleanliness, preferring to be clean rather than comely. The priests
shave themselves all over their body every other day, so that no lice
or any other foul thing may come to be upon them when they minister to
the gods; and the priests wear garments of linen only and sandals of
papyrus, and any other garment they may not take nor other sandals;
these wash themselves in cold water twice in a day and twice again in
the night; and other religious services they perform (one may almost
say) of infinite number. They enjoy also good things not a few, for
they do not consume or spend anything of their own substance, but
there is sacred bread baked for them and they have each great quantity
of flesh of oxen and geese coming in to them each day, and also wine
of grapes is given to them; but it is not permitted to them to taste
of fish: beans moreover the Egyptians do not at all sow in their land,
and those which they grow they neither eat raw nor boil for food; nay
the priests do not endure even to look upon them, thinking this to be
an unclean kind of pulse: and there is not one priest only for each of
the gods but many, and of them one is chief-priest, and whenever a
priest dies his son is appointed to his place.

The males of the ox kind they consider to belong to Epaphos, and on
account of him they test them in the following manner:--If the priest
sees one single black hair upon the beast he counts it not clean for
sacrifice; and one of the priests who is appointed for the purpose
makes investigation of these matters, both when the beast is standing
upright and when it is lying on its back, drawing out its tongue
moreover, to see if it is clean in respect of the appointed signs,
which I shall tell of in another part of the history: he looks also at
the hairs of the tail to see if it has them growing in a natural
manner; and if it be clean in respect of all these things, he marks it
with a piece of papyrus, rolling this round the horns, and then when
he has plastered sealing-earth over it he sets upon it the seal of his
signet-ring, and after that they take the animal away. But for one who
sacrifices a beast not sealed the penalty appointed is death. In this
way then the beast is tested; and their appointed manner of sacrifice
is as follows:--they lead the sealed beast to the altar where they
happen to be sacrificing, and then kindle a fire: after that, having
poured libations of wine over the altar so that it runs down upon the
victim and having called upon the god, they cut its throat, and having
cut its throat they sever the head from the body. The body then of the
beast they flay, but upon the head they make many imprecations first,
and then they who have a market and Hellenes sojourning among them for
trade, these carry it to the market-place and sell it, while they who
have no Hellenes among them cast it away into the river: and this is
the form of imprecations which they utter upon the heads, praying that
if any evil be about to befall either themselves who are offering
sacrifice or the land of Egypt in general, it may come rather upon
this head. Now as regards the heads of the beasts which are sacrificed
and the pouring over them of the wine, all the Egyptians have the same
customs equally for all their sacrifices; and by reason of this custom
none of the Egyptians eat of the head either of this or of any other
kind of animal: but the manner of disembowelling the victims and of
burning them is appointed among them differently for different
sacrifices; I shall speak however of the sacrifices to that goddess
whom they regard as the greatest of all, and to whom they celebrate
the greatest feast.--When they have flayed the bullock and made
imprecation, they take out the whole of its lower entrails but leave
in the body the upper entrails and the fat; and they sever from it the
legs and the end of the loin and the shoulders and the neck: and this
done, they fill the rest of the body of the animal with consecrated
loaves and honey and raisins and figs and frankincense and myrrh and
every other kind of spices, and having filled it with these they offer
it, pouring over it great abundance of oil. They make their sacrifice
after fasting, and while the offerings are being burnt, they all beat
themselves for mourning, and when they have finished beating
themselves they set forth as a feast that which they left unburnt of
the sacrifice. The clean males then of the ox kind, both full-grown
animals and calves, are sacrificed by all the Egyptians; the females
however they may not sacrifice, but these are sacred to Isis; for the
figure of Isis is in the form of a woman with cow's horns, just as the
Hellenes present Io in pictures, and all the Egyptians without
distinction reverence cows far more than any other kind of cattle; for
which reason neither man nor woman of the Egyptian race would kiss a
man who is a Hellene on the mouth, nor will they use a knife or
roasting-spits or a caldron belonging to a Hellene, nor taste the
flesh even of a clean animal if it has been cut with the knife of a
Hellene. And the cattle of this kind which die they bury in the
following manner:--the females they cast into the river, but the males
they bury, each people in the suburb of their town, with one of the
horns, or sometimes both, protruding to mark the place; and when the
bodies have rotted away and the appointed time comes on, then to each
city comes a boat from that which is called the island of Prosopitis
(this is in the Delta, and the extent of its circuit is nine
/schoines/). In this island of Prosopitis is situated, besides many
other cities, that one from which the boats come to take up the bones
of the oxen, and the name of the city is Atarbechis, and in it there
is set up a holy temple of Aphrodite. From this city many go abroad in
various directions, some to one city and others to another, and when
they have dug up the bones of the oxen they carry them off, and coming
together they bury them in one single place. In the same manner as
they bury the oxen they bury also their other cattle when they die;
for about them also they have the same law laid down, and these also
they abstain from killing.

Now all who have a temple set up to the Theban Zeus or who are of the
district of Thebes, these, I say, all sacrifice goats and abstain from
sheep: for not all the Egyptians equally reverence the same gods,
except only Isis and Osiris (who they say is Dionysos), these they all
reverence alike: but they who have a temple of Mendes or belong to the
Mendesian district, these abstain from goats and sacrifice sheep. Now
the men of Thebes and those who after their example abstain from
sheep, say that this custom was established among them for the cause
which follows:--Heracles (they say) had an earnest desire to see Zeus,
and Zeus did not desire to be seen of him; and at last when Heracles
was urgent in entreaty Zeus contrived this device, that is to say, he
flayed a ram and held in front of him the head of the ram which he had
cut off, and he put on over him the fleece and then showed himself to
him. Hence the Egyptians make the image of Zeus with the face of a
ram; and the Ammonians do so also after their example, being settlers
both from the Egyptians and from the Ethiopians, and using a language
which is a medley of both tongues: and in my opinion it is from this
god that the Egyptians call Zeus /Amun/. The Thebans then do not
sacrifice rams but hold them sacred for this reason; on one day
however in the year, on the feast of Zeus, they cut up in the same
manner and flay one single ram and cover with its skin the image of
Zeus, and then they bring up to it another image of Heracles. This
done, all who are in the temple beat themselves in lamentation for the
ram, and then they bury it in a sacred tomb.

About Heracles I heard the account given that he was of the number of
the twelve gods; but of the other Heracles whom the Hellenes know I
was not able to hear in any part of Egypt: and moreover to prove that
the Egyptians did not take the name of Heracles from the Hellenes, but
rather the Hellenes from the Egyptians,--that is to say those of the
Hellenes who gave the name Heracles to the son of Amphitryon,--of
that, I say, besides many other evidences there is chiefly this,
namely that the parents of this Heracles, Amphitryon and Alcmene, were
both of Egypt by descent, and also that the Egyptians say that they do
not know the names either of Poseidon or of the Dioscuroi, nor have
these been accepted by them as gods among the other gods; whereas if
they had received from the Hellenes the name of any divinity, they
would naturally have preserved the memory of these most of all,
assuming that in those times as now some of the Hellenes were wont to
make voyages and were seafaring folk, as I suppose and as my judgment
compels me to think; so that the Egyptians would have learnt the names
of these gods even more than that of Heracles. In fact however
Heracles is a very ancient Egyptian god; and (as they say themselves)
it is seventeen thousand years to the beginning of the reign of Amasis
from the time when the twelve gods, of whom they count that Heracles
is one, were begotten of the eight gods. I moreover, desiring to know
something certain of these matters so far as might be, made a voyage
also to Tyre of Phenicia, hearing that in that place there was a holy
temple of Heracles; and I saw that it was richly furnished with many
votive offerings besides, and especially there were in it two pillars,
the one of pure gold and the other of an emerald stone of such size as
to shine by night: and having come to speech with the priests of the
god, I asked them how long a time it was since their temple had been
set up: and these also I found to be at variance with the Hellenes,
for they said that at the same time when Tyre was founded, the temple
of the god also had been set up, and that it was a period of two
thousand three hundred years since their people began to dwell at
Tyre. I saw also at Tyre another temple of Heracles, with the surname
Thasian; and I came to Thasos also and there I found a temple of
Heracles set up by the Phenicians, who had sailed out to seek for
Europa and had colonised Thasos; and these things happened full five
generations of men before Heracles the son of Amphitryon was born in
Hellas. So then my inquiries show clearly that Heracles is an ancient
god, and those of the Hellenes seem to me to act most rightly who have
two temples of Heracles set up, and who sacrifice to the one as an
immortal god and with the title Olympian, and make offerings of the
dead to the other as a hero. Moreover, besides many other stories
which the Hellenes tell without due consideration, this tale is
especially foolish which they tell about Heracles, namely that when he
came to Egypt, the Egyptians put on him wreaths and led him forth in
procession to sacrifice him to Zeus; and he for some time kept quiet,
but when they were beginning the sacrifice of him at the altar, he
betook himself to prowess and slew them all. I for my part am of
opinion that the Hellenes when they tell this tale are altogether
without knowledge of the nature and customs of the Egyptians; for how
should they for whom it is not lawful to sacrifice even beasts, except
swine and the males of oxen and calves (such of them as are clean) and
geese, how should these sacrifice human beings? Besides this, how is
it in nature possible that Heracles, being one person only and
moreover a man (as they assert), should slay many myriads? Having said
so much of these matters, we pray that we may have grace from both the
gods and the heroes for our speech.

Now the reason why those of the Egyptians whom I have mentioned do not
sacrifice goats, female or male, is this:--the Mendesians count Pan to
be one of the eight gods (now these eight gods they say came into
being before the twelve gods), and the painters and image-makers
represent in painting and in sculpture the figure of Pan, just as the
Hellenes do, with goat's face and legs, not supposing him to be really
like this but to resemble the other gods; the cause however why they
represent him in this form I prefer not to say. The Mendesians then
reverence all goats and the males more than the females (and the
goatherds too have greater honour than other herdsmen), but of the
goats one especially is reverenced, and when he dies there is great
mourning in all the Mendesian district: and both the goat and Pan are
called in the Egyptian tongue /Mendes/. Moreover in my lifetime there
happened in that district this marvel, that is to say a he-goat had
intercourse with a woman publicly, and this was so done that all men
might have evidence of it.

The pig is accounted by the Egyptians an abominable animal; and first,
if any of them in passing by touch a pig, he goes into the river and
dips himself forthwith in the water together with his garments; and
then too swineherds, though they may be native Egyptians, unlike all
others, do not enter any of the temples in Egypt, nor is anyone
willing to give his daughter in marriage to one of them or to take a
wife from among them; but the swineherds both give in marriage to one
another and take from one another. Now to the other gods the Egyptians
do not think it right to sacrifice swine; but to the Moon and to
Dionysos alone at the same time and on the same full-moon they
sacrifice swine, and then eat their flesh: and as to the reason why,
when they abominate swine at all their other feasts, they sacrifice
them at this, there is a story told by the Egyptians; and this story I
know, but it is not a seemly one for me to tell. Now the sacrifice of
the swine to the Moon is performed as follows:--when the priest has
slain the victim, he puts together the end of the tail and the spleen
and the caul, and covers them up with the whole of the fat of the
animal which is about the paunch, and then he offers them with fire;
and the rest of the flesh they eat on that day of full moon upon which
they have held sacrifice, but on any day after this they will not
taste of it: the poor however among them by reason of the scantiness
of their means shape pigs of dough and having baked them they offer
these as a sacrifice. Then for Dionysos on the eve of the festival
each one kills a pig by cutting its throat before his own doors, and
after that he gives the pig to the swineherd who sold it to him, to
carry away again; and the rest of the feast of Dionysos is celebrated
by the Egyptians in the same way as by the Hellenes in almost all
things except choral dances, but instead of the /phallos/ they have
invented another contrivance, namely figures of about a cubit in
height worked by strings, which women carry about the villages, with
the privy member made to move and not much less in size than the rest
of the body: and a flute goes before and they follow singing the
praises of Dionysos. As to the reason why the figure has this member
larger than is natural and moves it, though it moves no other part of
the body, about this there is a sacred story told. Now I think that
Melampus the son of Amytheon was not without knowledge of these rites
of sacrifice, but was acquainted with them: for Melampus is he who
first set forth to the Hellenes the name of Dionysos and the manner of
sacrifice and the procession of the /phallos/. Strictly speaking
indeed, he when he made it known did not take in the whole, but those
wise men who came after him made it known more at large. Melampus then
is he who taught of the /phallos/ which is carried in procession for
Dionysos, and from him the Hellenes learnt to do that which they do. I
say then that Melampus being a man of ability contrived for himself an
art of divination, and having learnt from Egypt he taught the Hellenes
many things, and among them those that concern Dionysos, making
changes in some few points of them: for I shall not say that that
which is done in worship of the god in Egypt came accidentally to be
the same with that which is done among the Hellenes, for then these
rites would have been in character with the Hellenic worship and not
lately brought in; nor certainly shall I say that the Egyptians took
from the Hellenes either this or any other customary observance:
matters concerning Dionysos from Cadmos the Tyrian and from those who
came with him from Phenicia to the land which we now call Boeotia.

Moreover the naming of almost all the gods has come to Hellas from
Egypt: for that it has come from the Barbarians I find by inquiry is
true, and I am of opinion that most probably it has come from Egypt,
because, except in the case of Poseidon and the Dioscuroi (in
accordance with that which I have said before), and also of Hera and
Hestia and Themis and the Charites and Nereids, the Egyptians say
themselves: but as for the gods whose names they profess that they do
not know, these I think received their naming from the Pelasgians,
except Poiseidon; but about this god the Hellenes learnt from the
Libyans, for no people except the Libyans have had the name of
Poseidon from the first and have paid honour to this god always. Nor,
it may be added, have the Egyptians any custom of worshipping heroes.
These observances then, and others besides these which I shall
mention, the Hellenes have adopted from the Egyptians; but to make, as
they do the images of Hermes with the /phallos/ they have learnt not
from the Egyptians but from the Pelasgians, the custom having been
received by the Athenians first of all the Hellenes and from these by
the rest; for just at the time when the Athenians were beginning to
rank among the Hellenes, the Pelasgians became dwellers with them in
their land, and from this very cause it was that they began to be
counted as Hellenes. Whosoever has been initiated in the mysteries of
the Cabeiroi, which the Samothrakians perform having received them
from the Pelasgians, that man knows the meaning of my speech; for
these very Pelasgians who became dwellers with the Athenians used to
dwell before that time in Samothrake, and from them the Samothrakians
received their mysteries. So then the Athenians were the first of the
Hellenes who made the images of Hermes with the /phallos/, having
learnt from the Pelasgians; and the Pelasgians told a sacred story
about it, which is set forth in the mysteries in Samothrake. Now the
Pelasgians formerly were wont to make all their sacrifices calling
upon the gods in prayer, as I know from that which I heard at Dodona,
but they gave no title or name to any of them, for they had not yet
heard any, but they called them gods from some such notion as this,
that they had set in order all things and so had the distribution of
everything. Afterwards when much time had elapsed, they learnt from
Egypt the names of the gods, all except Dionysos, for his name they
learnt long afterwards; and after a time the Pelasgians consulted the
Oracle at Dodona about the names, for this prophetic seat is accounted
to be the most ancient of the Oracles which are among the Hellenes,
and at that time it was the only one. So when the Pelasgians asked the
Oracle at Dodona whether they should adopt the names which had come
from the Barbarians, the Oracle in reply bade them make use of the
names. From this time they sacrificed using the names of the gods, and
from the Pelasgians the Hellenes afterwards received them: but when
the several gods had their birth, or whether they all were from the
beginning, and of what form they are, they did not learn till
yesterday, as it were, or the day before: for Hesiod and Homer I
suppose were four hundred years before my time and not more, and these
are they who made a theogony for the Hellenes and gave the titles to
the gods and distributed to them honours and arts, and set forth their
forms: but the poets who are said to have been before these men were
really in my opinion after them. Of these things the first are said by
the priestesses of Dodona, and the latter things, those namely which
have regard to Hesiod and Homer, by myself.

As regards the Oracles both that among the Hellenes and that in Libya,
the Egyptians tell the following tale. The priests of the Theban Zeus
told me that two women in the service of the temple had been carried
away from Thebes by Phenicians, and that they had heard that one of
them had been sold to go into Libya and the other to the Hellenes; and
these women, they said, were they who first founded the prophetic
seats among the nations which have been named: and when I inquired
whence they knew so perfectly of this tale which they told, they said
in reply that a great search had been made by the priests after these
women, and that they had not been able to find them, but they had
heard afterwards this tale about them which they were telling. This I
heard from the priests at Thebes, and what follows is said by the
prophetesses of Dodona. They say that two black doves flew from Thebes
in Egypt, and came one of them to Libya and the other to their land.
And this latter settled upon an oak-tree and spoke with human voice,
saying that it was necessary that a prophetic seat of Zeus should be
established in that place; and they supposed that that was of the gods
which was announced to them, and made one accordingly: and the dove
which went away to the Libyans, they say, bade the Libyans make an
Oracle of Ammon; and this also is of Zeus. The priestesses of Dodona
told me these things, of whom the eldest was named Promeneia, the next
after her Timarete, and the youngest Nicandra; and the other people of
Dodona who were engaged about the temple gave accounts agreeing with
theirs. I however have an opinion about the matter as follows:--If the
Phenicians did in truth carry away the consecrated women and sold one
of them into Libya and the other into Hellas, I suppose that in the
country now called Hellas, which was formerly called Pelasgia, this
woman was sold into the land of the Thesprotians; and then being a
slave there she set up a sanctuary of Zeus under a real oak-tree; as
indeed it was natural that being an attendant of the sanctuary of Zeus
at Thebes, she should there, in the place to which she had come, have
a memory of him; and after this, when she got understanding of the
Hellenic tongue, she established an Oracle, and she reported, I
suppose, that her sister had been sold in Libya by the same Phenicians
by whom she herself had been sold. Moreover, I think that the women
were called doves by the people of Dodona for the reason that they
were barbarians and because it seemed to them that they uttered voice
like birds; but after a time (they say) the dove spoke with human
voice, that is when the woman began to speak so that they could
understand; but so long as she spoke a Barbarian tongue she seemed to
them to be uttering voice like a bird: for if it had been really a
dove, how could it speak with human voice? And in saying that the dove
was black, they indicate that the woman was Egyptian. The ways of
delivering oracles too at Thebes in Egypt and at Dodona closely
resemble each other, as it happens, and also the method of divination
by victims has come from Egypt.

Moreover, it is true also that the Egyptians were the first of men who
made solemn assemblies and processions and approaches to the temples,
and from them the Hellenes have learnt them, and my evidence for this
is that the Egyptian celebrations of these have been held from a very
ancient time, whereas the Hellenic were introduced but lately. The
Egyptians hold their solemn assemblies not once in the year but often,
especially and with the greatest zeal and devotion at the city of
Bubastis for Artemis, and next at Busiris for Isis; for in this last-
named city there is a very great temple of Isis, and this city stands
in the middle of the Delta of Egypt; now Isis is in the tongue of the
Hellenes Demeter: thirdly, they have a solemn assembly at the city of
Sais for Athene, fourthly at Heliopolis for the Sun (Helios), fifthly
at the city of Buto in honour of Leto, and sixthly at the city of
Papremis for Ares. Now, when they are coming to the city of Bubastis
they do as follows:--they sail men and women together, and a great
multitude of each sex in every boat; and some of the women have
rattles and rattle with them, while some of the men play the flute
during the whole time of the voyage, and the rest, both women and men,
sing and clap their hands; and when as they sail they come opposite to
any city on the way they bring the boat to land, and some of the women
continue to do as I have said, others cry aloud and jeer at the women
in that city, some dance, and some stand up and pull up their
garments. This they do by every city along the river-bank; and when
they come to Bubastis they hold festival celebrating great sacrifices,
and more wine of grapes is consumed upon that festival than during the
whole of the rest of the year. To this place (so say the natives) they
come together year by year even to the number of seventy myriads of
men and women, besides children. Thus it is done here; and how they
celebrate the festival in honour of Isis at the city of Busiris has
been told by me before: for, as I said, they beat themselves in
mourning after the sacrifice, all of them both men and women, very
many myriads of people; but for whom they beat themselves it is not
permitted to me by religion to say: and so many as there are of the
Carians dwelling in Egypt do this even more than the Egyptians
themselves, inasmuch as they cut their foreheads also with knives; and
by this it is manifested that they are strangers and not Egyptians. At
the times when they gather together at the city of Sais for their
sacrifices, on a certain night they all kindle lamps many in number in
the open air round about the houses; now the lamps are saucers full of
salt and oil mixed, and the wick floats by itself on the surface, and
this burns during the whole night; and to the festival is given the
name /Lychnocaia/ (the lighting of lamps). Moreover those of the
Egyptians who have not come to this solemn assembly observe the night
of the festival and themselves also light lamps all of them, and thus
not in Sais alone are they lighted, but over all Egypt: and as to the
reason why light and honour are allotted to this night, about this
there is a sacred story told. To Heliopolis and Buto they go year by
year and do sacrifice only: but at Papremis they do sacrifice and
worship as elsewhere, and besides that, when the sun begins to go down
while some few of the priests are occupied with the image of the god,
the greater number of them stand in the entrance of the temple with
wooden clubs, and other persons to the number of more than a thousand
men with purpose to perform a vow, these also having all of them
staves of wood, stand in a body opposite to those: and the image,
which is in a small shrine of wood covered over with gold, they take
out on the day before to another sacred building. The few then who
have been left about the image, draw a wain with four wheels, which
bears the shrine and the image that is within the shrine, and the
other priests standing in the gateway try to prevent it from entering,
and the men who are under a vow come to the assistance of the god and
strike them, while the others defend themselves. Then there comes to
be a hard fight with staves, and they break one another's heads, and I
am of opinion that many even die of the wounds they receive; the
Egyptians however told me that no one died. This solemn assembly the
people of the place say that they established for the following
reason:--the mother of Ares, they say, used to dwell in this temple,
and Ares, having been brought up away from her, when he grew up came
thither desiring to visit his mother, and the attendants of his
mother's temple, not having seen him before, did not permit him to
pass in, but kept him away; and he brought men to help him from
another city and handled roughly the attendants of the temple, and
entered to visit his mother. Hence, they say, this exchange of blows
has become the custom in honour of Ares upon his festival.

The Egyptians were the first who made it a point of religion not to
lie with women in temples, nor to enter into temples after going away
from women without first bathing: for almost all other men except the
Egyptians and the Hellenes lie with women in temples and enter into a
temple after going away from women without bathing, since they hold
that there is no difference in this respect between men and beasts:
for they say that they see beasts and the various kinds of birds
coupling together both in the temples and in the sacred enclosures of
the gods; if then this were not pleasing to the god, the beasts would
not do so.

Thus do these defend that which they do, which by me is disallowed:
but the Egyptians are excessively careful in their observances, both
in other matters which concern the sacred rites and also in those
which follow:--Egypt, though it borders upon Libya, does not very much
abound in wild animals, but such as they have are one and all
accounted by them sacred, some of them living with men and others not.
But if I should say for what reasons the sacred animals have been thus
dedicated, I should fall into discourse of matters pertaining to the
gods, of which I most desire not to speak; and what I have actually
said touching slightly upon them, I said because I was constrained by
necessity. About these animals there is a custom of this kind:--
persons have been appointed of the Egyptians, both men and women, to
provide the food for each kind of beast separately, and their office
goes down from father to son; and those who dwell in the various
cities perform vows to them thus, that is, when they make a vow to the
god to whom the animal belongs, they shave the head of their children
either the whole or the half or the third part of it, and then set the
hair in the balance against silver, and whatever it weighs, this the
man gives to the person who provides for the animals, and she cuts up
fish of equal value and gives it for food to the animals. Thus food
for their support has been appointed and if any one kill any of these
animals, the penalty, if he do it with his own will, is death, and if
against his will, such penalty as the priests may appoint: but
whosoever shall kill an ibis or a hawk, whether it be with his will or
against his will, must die. Of the animals that live with men there
are great numbers, and would be many more but for the accidents which
befall the cats. For when the females have produced young they are no
longer in the habit of going to the males, and these seeking to be
united with them are not able. To this end then they contrive as
follows,--they either take away by force or remove secretly the young
from the females and kill them (but after killing they do not eat
them), and the females being deprived of their young and desiring
more, therefore come to the males, for it is a creature that is fond
of its young. Moreover when a fire occurs, the cats seem to be
divinely possessed; for while the Egyptians stand at intervals and
look after the cats, not taking any care to extinguish the fire, the
cats slipping through or leaping over the men, jump into the fire; and
when this happens, great mourning comes upon the Egyptians. And in
whatever houses a cat has died by a natural death, all those who dwell
in this house shave their eyebrows only, but those in which a dog has
died shave their whole body and also their head. The cats when they
are dead are carried away to sacred buildings in the city of Bubastis,
where after being embalmed they are buried; but the dogs they bury
each people in their own city in sacred tombs; and the ichneumons are
buried just in the same way as the dogs. The shrewmice however and the
hawks they carry away to the city of Buto, and the ibises to
Hermopolis; the bears (which are not commonly seen) and the wolves,
not much larger in size than foxes, they bury on the spot where they
are found lying.

Of the crocodile the nature is as follows:--during the four most
wintry months this creature eats nothing: she has four feet and is an
animal belonging to the land and the water both; for she produces and
hatches eggs on the land, and the most part of the day she remains
upon dry land, but the whole of the night in the river, for the water
in truth is warmer than the unclouded open air and the dew. Of all the
mortal creatures of which we have knowledge this grows to the greatest
bulk from the smallest beginning; for the eggs which she produces are
not much larger than those of geese and the newly-hatched young one is
in proportion to the egg, but as he grows he becomes as much as
seventeen cubits long and sometimes yet larger. He has eyes like those
of a pig and teeth large and tusky, in proportion to the size of his
body; but unlike all other beasts he grows no tongue, neither does he
move his lower jaw, but brings the upper jaw towards the lower, being
in this too unlike all other beasts. He has moreover strong claws and
a scaly hide upon his back which cannot be pierced; and he is blind in
the water, but in the air he is of a very keen sight. Since he has his
living in the water he keeps his mouth all full within of leeches; and
whereas all other birds and beasts fly from him, the trochilus is a
creature which is at peace with him, seeing that from her he receives
benefit; for the crocodile having come out of the water to the land
and then having opened his mouth (this he is wont to do generally
towards the West Wind), the trochilus upon that enters into his mouth
and swallows down the leeches, and he being benefited is pleased and
does no harm to the trochilus. Now for some of the Egyptians the
crocodiles are sacred animals, and for others not so, but they treat
them on the contrary as enemies: those however who dwell about Thebes
and about the lake of Moiris hold them to be most sacred, and each of
these two peoples keeps one crocodile selected from the whole number,
which has been trained to tameness, and they put hanging ornaments of
molten stone and of gold into the ears of these and anklets round the
front feet, and they give them food appointed and victims of
sacrifices and treat them as well as possible while they live, and
after they are dead they bury them in sacred tombs, embalming them:
but those who dwell about the city of Elephantine even eat them, not
holding them to be sacred. They are called not crocodiles but
/champsai/, and the Ionians gave them the name of crocodile, comparing
their form to that of the crocodiles (lizards) which appear in their
country in the stone walls. There are many ways in use of catching
them and of various kinds: I shall describe that which to me seems the
most worthy of being told. A man puts the back of a pig upon a hook as
bait, and lets it go into the middle of the river, while he himself
upon the bank of the river has a young live pig, which he beats; and
the crocodile hearing its cries makes for the direction of the sound,
and when he finds the pig's back he swallows it down: then they pull,
and when he is drawn out to land, first of all the hunter forthwith
plasters up his eyes with mud, and having done so he very easily gets
the mastery of him, but if he does not do so he has much trouble.

The river-horse is sacred in the district of Papremis, but for the
other Egyptians he is not sacred; and this is the appearance which he
presents: he is four-footed, cloven-hoofed like an ox, flat-nosed,
with a mane like a horse and showing teeth like tusks, with a tail and
voice like a horse and in size as large as the largest ox; and his
hide is so exceedingly thick that when it has been dried shafts of
javelins are made of it. There are moreover otters in the river, which
they consider to be sacred: and of fish also they esteem that which is
called the /lepidotos/ to be sacred, and also the eel; and these they
say are sacred to the Nile: and of birds the fox-goose.

There is also another sacred bird called the phoenix which I did not
myself see except in painting, for in truth he comes to them very
rarely, at intervals, as the people of Heliopolis say, of five hundred
years; and these say that he comes regularly when his father dies; and
if he be like the painting he is of this size and nature, that is to
say, some of his feathers are of gold colour and others red, and in
outline and size he is as nearly as possible like an eagle. This bird
they say (but I cannot believe the story) contrives as follows:--
setting forth from Arabia he conveys his father, they say, to the
temple of the Sun (Helios) plastered up in myrrh, and buries him in
the temple of the Sun; and he conveys him thus:--he forms first an egg
of myrrh as large as he is able to carry, and then he makes trial of
carrying it, and when he has made trial sufficiently, then he hollows
out the egg and places his father within it and plasters over with
other myrrh that part of the egg where he hollowed it out to put his
father in, and when his father is laid in it, it proves (they say) to
be of the same weight as it was; and after he has plastered it up, he
conveys the whole to Egypt to the temple of the Sun. Thus they say
that this bird does.

There are also about Thebes sacred serpents, not at all harmful to
men, which are small in size and have two horns growing from the top
of the head: these they bury when they die in the temple of Zeus, for
to this god they say that they are sacred. There is a region moreover
in Arabia, situated nearly over against the city of Buto, to which
place I came to inquire about the winged serpents: and when I came
thither I saw bones of serpents and spines in quantity so great that
it is impossible to make report of the number, and there were heaps of
spines, some heaps large and others less large and others smaller
still than these, and these heaps were many in number. This region in
which the spines are scattered upon the ground is of the nature of an
entrance from a narrow mountain pass to a great plain, which plain
adjoins the plain in Egypt; and the story goes that at the beginning
of spring winged serpents from Arabia fly towards Egypt, and the birds
called ibises meet them at the entrance to this country and do not
suffer the serpents to go by but kill them. On account of this deed it
is (say the Arabians) that the ibis has come to be greatly honoured by
the Egyptians, and the Egyptians also agree that it is for this reason
that they honour these birds. The outward form of the ibis is this:--
it is a deep black all over, and has legs like those of a crane and a
very curved beak, and in size it is about equal to a rail: this is the
appearance of the black kind which fight with the serpents, but of
those which most crowd round men's feet (for there are two several
kinds of ibises) the head is bare and also the whole of the throat,
and it is white in feathering except the head and neck and the
extremities of the wings and the rump (in all these parts of which I
have spoken it is a deep black), while in legs and in the form of the
head it resembles the other. As for the serpent its form is like that
of the watersnake; and it has wings not feathered but most nearly
resembling the wings of the bat. Let so much suffice as has been said
now concerning sacred animals.

Of the Egyptians themselves, those who dwell in the part of Egypt
which is sown for crops practise memory more than any other men and
are the most learned in history by far of all those of whom I have had
experience: and their manner of life is as follows:--For three
successive days in each month they purge, hunting after health with
emetics and clysters, and they think that all the diseases which exist
are produced in men by the food on which they live: for the Egyptians
are from other causes also the most healthy of all men next after the
Libyans (in my opinion on account of the seasons, because the seasons
do not change, for by the changes of things generally, and especially
of the seasons, diseases are most apt to be produced in men), and as
to their diet, it is as follows:--they eat bread, making loaves of
maize, which they call /kyllestis/, and they use habitually a wine
made out of barley, for vines they have not in their land. Of their
fish some they dry in the sun and then eat them without cooking,
others they eat cured in brine. Of birds they eat quails and ducks and
small birds without cooking, after first curing them; and everything
else which they have belonging to the class of birds or fishes, except
such as have been set apart by them as sacred, they eat roasted or
boiled. In the entertainments of the rich among them, when they have
finished eating, a man bears round a wooden figure of a dead body in a
coffin, made as like the reality as may be both by painting and
carving, and measuring about a cubit or two cubits each way; and this
he shows to each of those who are drinking together, saying: "When
thou lookest upon this, drink and be merry, for thou shalt be such as
this when thou art dead." Thus they do at their carousals. The customs
which they practise are derived from their fathers and they do not
acquire others in addition; but besides other customary things among
them which are worthy of mention, they have one song, that of Linos,
the same who is sung of both in Phenicia and in Cyprus and elsewhere,
having however a name different according to the various nations. This
song agrees exactly with that which the Hellenes sing calling on the
name of Linos, so that besides many other things about which I wonder
among those matters which concern Egypt, I wonder especially about
this, namely whence they got the song of Linos. It is evident however
that they have sung this song from immemorial time, and in the
Egyptian tongue Linos is called Maneros. The Egyptians told me that he
was the only son of him who first became king of Egypt, and that he
died before his time and was honoured with these lamentations by the
Egyptians, and that this was their first and only song. In another
respect the Egyptians are in agreement with some of the Hellenes,
namely with the Lacedemonians, but not with the rest, that is to say,
the younger of them when they meet the elder give way and move out of
the path, and when their elders approach, they rise out of their seat.
In this which follows however they are not in agreement with any of
the Hellenes,--instead of addressing one another in the roads they do
reverence, lowering their hand down to their knee. They wear tunics of
linen about their legs with fringes, which they call /calasiris/;
above these they have garments of white wool thrown over: woolen
garments however are not taken into the temples, nor are they buried
with them, for this is not permitted by religion. In these points they
are in agreement with the observances called Orphic and Bacchic (which
are really Egyptian), and also with those of the Pythagoreans, for one
who takes part in these mysteries is also forbidden by religious rule
to be buried in woolen garments; and about this there is a sacred
story told.

Besides these things the Egyptians have found out also to what god
each month and each day belongs, and what fortunes a man will meet
with who is born on any particular day, and how he will die, and what
kind of a man he will be: and these inventions were taken up by those
of the Hellenes who occupied themselves about poesy. Portents too have
been found out by them more than by all other men besides; for when a
portent has happened, they observe and write down the event which
comes of it, and if ever afterwards anything resembling this happens,
they believe that the event which comes of it will be similar. Their
divination is ordered thus:--the art is assigned not to any man but to
certain of the gods, for there are in their land Oracles of Heracles,
of Apollo, of Athene, of Artemis, or Ares, and of Zeus, and moreover
that which they hold most in honour of all, namely the Oracle of Leto
which is in the city of Buto. The manner of divination however is not
established among them according to the same fashion everywhere, but
is different in different places. The art of medicine among them is
distributed thus:--each physician is a physician of one disease and of
no more; and the whole country is full of physicians, for some profess
themselves to be physicians of the eyes, others of the head, others of
the teeth, others of the affections of the stomach, and others of the
more obscure ailments.

Their fashions of mourning and of burial are these:--Whenever any
household has lost a man who is of any regard amongst them, the whole
number of women of that house forthwith plaster over their heads or
even their faces with mud. Then leaving the corpse within the house
they go themselves to and fro about the city and beat themselves, with
their garments bound up by a girdle and their breasts exposed, and
with them go all the women who are related to the dead man, and on the
other side the men beat themselves, they too having their garments
bound up by a girdle; and when they have done this, they then convey
the body to the embalming. In this occupation certain persons employ
themselves regularly and inherit this as a craft. These, whenever a
corpse is conveyed to them, show to those who brought it wooden models
of corpses made like reality by painting, and the best of the ways of
embalming they say is that of him whose name I think it impiety to
mention when speaking of a matter of such a kind; the second which
they show is less good than this and also less expensive; and the
third is the least expensive of all. Having told them about this, they
inquire of them in which way they desire the corpse of their friend to
be prepared. Then they after they have agreed for a certain price
depart out of the way, and the others being left behind in the
buildings embalm according to the best of these ways thus:--First with
the crooked iron tool they draw out the brain through the nostrils,
extracting it partly thus and partly by pouring in drugs; and after
this with a sharp stone of Ethiopia they make a cut along the side and
take out the whole contents of the belly, and when they have cleared
out the cavity and cleansed it with palm-wine they cleanse it again
with spices pounded up: then they fill the belly with pure myrrh
pounded up and with cassia and other spices except frankincense, and
sew it together again. Having so done they keep it for embalming
covered up in natron for seventy days, but for a longer time than this
it is not permitted to embalm it; and when the seventy days are past,
they wash the corpse and roll its whole body up in fine linen cut into
bands, smearing these beneath with gum, which the Egyptians use
generally instead of glue. Then the kinsfolk receive it from them and
have a wooden figure made in the shape of a man, and when they have
had this made they enclose the corpse, and having shut it up within,
they store it then in a sepulchral chamber, setting it to stand
upright against the wall. Thus they deal with the corpses which are
prepared in the most costly way; but for those who desire the middle
way and wish to avoid great cost they prepare the corpse as follows:--
having filled their syringes with the oil which is got from cedar-
wood, with this they forthwith fill the belly of the corpse, and this
they do without having either cut it open or taken out the bowels, but
they inject the oil by the breech, and having stopped the drench from
returning back they keep it then the appointed number of days for
embalming, and on the last of the days they let the cedar oil come out
from the belly, which they before put in; and it has such power that
it brings out with it the bowels and interior organs of the body
dissolved; and the natron dissolves the flesh, so that there is left
of the corpse only the skin and the bones. When they have done this
they give back the corpse at once in that condition without working
upon it any more. The third kind of embalming, by which are prepared
the bodies of those who have less means, is as follows:--they cleanse
out the belly with a purge and then keep the body for embalming during
the seventy days, and at once after that they give it back to the
bringers to carry away. The wives of men of rank when they die are not
given at once to be embalmed, nor such women as are very beautiful or
of greater regard than others, but on the third or fourth day after
their death (and not before) they are delivered to the embalmers. They
do so about this matter in order that the embalmers may not abuse
their women, for they say that one of them was taken once doing so to
the corpse of a woman lately dead, and his fellow-craftsman gave
information. Whenever any one, either of the Egyptians themselves or
of strangers, is found to have been carried off by a crocodile or
brought to his death by the river itself, the people of any city by
which he may have been cast up on land must embalm him and lay him out
in the fairest way they can and bury him in a sacred burial-place, nor
may any of his relations or friends besides touch him, but the priests
of the Nile themselves handle the corpse and bury it as that of one
who was something more than man.

Hellenic usages they will by no means follow, and to speak generally
they follow those of no other men whatever. This rule is observed by
most of the Egyptians; but there is a large city named Chemmis in the
Theban district near Neapolis, and in this city there is a temple of
Perseus the son of Danae which is of a square shape, and round it grow
date-palms: the gateway of the temple is built of stone and of very
great size, and at the entrance of it stand two great statues of
stone. Within this enclosure is a temple-house and in it stands an
image of Perseus. These people of Chemmis say that Perseus is wont
often to appear in their land and often within the temple, and that a
sandal which has been worn by him is found sometimes, being in length
two cubits, and whenever this appears all Egypt prospers. This they
say, and they do in honour of Perseus after Hellenic fashion thus,--
they hold an athletic contest, which includes the whole list of games,
and they offer in prizes cattle and cloaks and skins: and when I
inquired why to them alone Perseus was wont to appear, and wherefore
they were separated from all the other Egyptians in that they held an
athletic contest, they said that Perseus had been born of their city,
for Danaos and Lynkeus were men of Chemmis and had sailed to Hellas,
and from them they traced a descent and came down to Perseus: and they
told me that he had come to Egypt for the reason which the Hellenes
also say, namely to bring from Libya the Gorgon's head, and had then
visited them also and recognised all his kinsfolk, and they said that
he had well learnt the name of Chemmis before he came to Egypt, since
he had heard it from his mother, and that they celebrated an athletic
contest for him by his own command.

All these are customs practised by the Egyptians who dwell above the
fens: and those who are settled in the fenland have the same customs
for the most part as the other Egyptians, both in other matters and
also in that they live each with one wife only, as do the Hellenes;
but for economy in respect of food they have invented these things
besides:--when the river has become full and the plains have been
flooded, there grow in the water great numbers of lilies, which the
Egyptians call /lotos/; these they cut with a sickle and dry in the
sun, and then they pound that which grows in the middle of the lotos
and which is like the head of a poppy, and they make of it loaves
baked with fire. The root also of this lotos is edible and has a
rather sweet taste: it is round in shape and about the size of an
apple. There are other lilies too, in flower resembling roses, which
also grow in the river, and from them the fruit is produced in a
separate vessel springing from the root by the side of the plant
itself, and very nearly resembles a wasp's comb: in this there grow
edible seeds in great numbers of the size of an olive-stone, and they
are eaten either fresh or dried. Besides this they pull up from the
fens the papyrus which grows every year, and the upper parts of it
they cut off and turn to other uses, but that which is left below for
about a cubit in length they eat or sell: and those who desire to have
the papyrus at its very best bake it in an oven heated red-hot, and
then eat it. Some too of these people live on fish alone, which they
dry in the sun after having caught them and taken out the entrails,
and then when they are dry, they use them for food.

Fish which swim in shoals are not much produced in the rivers, but are
bred in the lakes, and they do as follows:--When there comes upon them
the desire to breed, they swim out in shoals towards the sea; and the
males lead the way shedding forth their milt as they go, while the
females, coming after and swallowing it up, from it become
impregnated: and when they have become full of young in the sea they
swim up back again, each shoal to its own haunts. The same however no
longer lead the way as before, but the lead comes now to the females,
and they leading the way in shoals do just as the males did, that is
to say they shed forth their eggs by a few grains at a time, and the
males coming after swallow them up. Now these grains are fish, and
from the grains which survive and are not swallowed, the fish grow
which afterwards are bred up. Now those of the fish which are caught
as they swim out towards the sea are found to be rubbed on the left
side of the head, but those which are caught as they swim up again are
rubbed on the right side. This happens to them because as they swim
down to the sea they keep close to the land on the left side of the
river, and again as they swim up they keep to the same side,
approaching and touching the bank as much as they can, for fear
doubtless of straying from their course by reason of the stream. When
the Nile begins to swell, the hollow places of the land and the
depressions by the side of the river first begin to fill, as the water
soaks through from the river, and so soon as they become full of
water, at once they are all filled with little fishes; and whence
these are in all likelihood produced, I think that I perceive. In the
preceding year, when the Nile goes down, the fish first lay eggs in
the mud and then retire with the last of the retreating waters; and
when the time comes round again, and the water once more comes over
the land, from these eggs forthwith are produced the fishes of which I

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, 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.
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 it is:
--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.

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-cubits pieces; and when they have thus fastened the
boat together, they lay cross-pieces 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 drags 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.

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, 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. 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 by another Archander, but in any case the name is not Egyptian.

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 have 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, 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; 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. 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. 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 except only the last of them, Moiris: 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.

Therefore passing these by I will make mention of the king who came
after these, whose name is 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 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. 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 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.
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 who dwell in Palestine confess themselves
that they have learnt it from the Egyptians, and the Syrians about the
river Thermodon and the river Parthenios, and the Macronians, who are
their neighbors, 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. 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, 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. The pillars which
Sesostris king 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 had 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.

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. Then Sesostris, having returned to Egypt
and having taken vengeance on his brother employed the multitude which
he had brought in of those who whose lands he had subdued, as follows:
--these were they drew the stones which in the reign of this king were
brought to the temple of Hephaistos, being of very good 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. 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
and the gnomon and the twelve divisions of the day, they were learnt
by the Hellenes from the Babylonians. 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.

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 had 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 least 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, 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

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. 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

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; but 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 Menalaos; and this accusation they made not only to
the priests but also to the warden of this river-mouth, whose name was
Thonis. 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. 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." 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 n 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."

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, making it clear at the same time
that he was acquainted with that story also: and according to the
manner in which he described the wanderings of Alexander in the Iliad
(nor did he elsewhere retract that which he had said) 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 thus:

"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:

"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:

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

In these lines he makes it clear that he knew of the wanderings of
Alexander to Egypt, for Syria borders upon Egypt and the Phenicians,
of whom is Sidon, dwell in Syria. By these lines and by this passage
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.

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. 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.

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 certainly
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.

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.
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. 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.