« PreviousContinue »
course, but by the point of the Delta and the city of Cercasorus ; and in sailing from the sea and Canopus to Naucratis across the plain, you will pass by the city of Anthylla and that called Archandropolis. 98. Of these, Anthylla, which is a city of importance, is assigned to purchase shoes for the wife of the reigning king of Egypt; and this has been so as long as Egypt has been subject to the Persians. The other city appears to me to derive its name from the son-in-law of Danaus, Archander, son of Phthius, and grandson of Achæus ; for it is called Archandropolis. There may indeed have been another Archander; but the name is certainly not Egyptian.
99. Hitherto I have related what I have seen, what I have thought, and what I have learnt by inquiry: but from this point I proceed to give the Egyptian account according to what I heard ; and there is added to it something also of my own observation. The priests informed me, that Menes, who first ruled over Egypt, in the first place protected Memphis by a mound; for the whole river formerly ran close to the sandy mountain on the side of Libya ; but Menes, beginning about a hundred stades above Memphis, filled in the elbow towards the south, dried up the old channel, and conducted the river into a canal, so as to make it flow between the mountains : this bend of the Nile, which flows excluded from its ancient course, is still carefully upheld by the Persians, being made secure every year ;
if the river should break through and overflow in this part, there would be danger lest all Memphis should be flooded. When the part cut off had been made firm land by this Menes, who was first king, he in the first place built on it the city that is now called Memphis ; for Memphis is situate in the narrow part of Egypt; and outside of it he excavated a lake from the river towards the north and the west ; for the Nile itself bounds it towards the east. In the next place, they relate that he built in it the temple of Vulcan, which is vast and well worthy of mention. 100. After this the priests enumerated from a book the names of three hundred and thirty other kings. In so many generations of men, there were eighteen Ethiopians and one native queen, the rest were Egyptians. The name of this woman who reigned, was the same as that of the Babylonian queen, Nitocris : they said that she avenged her brother, ? That is, those of Arabia and Libya.
whom the Egyptians had slain, while reigning over them; and after they had slain him, they then delivered the kingdom to her; and she, to avenge him, destroyed many of the Egyptians by stratagem: for having caused an extensive apartment to be made under ground, she pretended that she was going to consecrate it, but in reality had another design in view : and having invited those of the Egyptians whom she knew to have been principally concerned in the murder, she gave a great banquet, and when they were feasting, she let in the river upon them, through a large concealed channel. This is all they related of her, except that, when she had done this, she threw herself into a room full of ashes in order that she might escape punishment. 101. Of the other kings they did not mention any memorable deeds, nor that they were in any respect renowned, except one, the last of them, Mæris; but he accomplished some memorable works, as the portal of Vulcan's temple, facing the north wind; and dug a lake, (the dimensions of which I shall describe hereafter,) and built pyramids in it, the size of which I shall also mention when I come to speak of the lake itself. He, then, achieved these several works, but none of the others achieved any thing.
102. Having therefore passed them by, I shall proceed to make mention of the king that came after them, whose name was Sesostris. The priests said that he was the first who, setting out in ships of war 3 from the Arabian Gulf, subdued those nations that dwell by the Red Sea ; until sailing onwards, he arrived at a sea which was not navigable on account of the shoals; and afterwards, when he came back to Egypt, according to the report of the priests, he assembled a large army, and marched through the continent, subduing every nation that he fell in with ; and wherever he met with any who were valiant, and who were very ardent in defence of their liberty, he erected columns in their territory, with inscriptions declaring his own name and country, and how he had conquered them by his power : but when he subdued any cities without fighting and easily, he made inscriptions on columns in the same way as among the nations that nad proved themselves valiant; and he had besides engraved on them the secret parts of a woman, wishing to make it known that they were cowardly. 103. Thus doing, he traversed the
3 See Book I. chap. 2, note S.
continent, until, having crossed from Asia into Europe, he subdued the Scythians and Thracians : to these the Egyptian army appears to me to have reached, and no farther; for in their country the columns appear to have been erected, but no where beyond them. From thence, wheeling round, he went back again; and when he arrived at the river Phasis, I am unable after this to say with certainty, whether king Sesostris bimself, having detached a portion of his army, left them there to settle in that country, or whether some of the soldiers, being wearied with his wandering expedition, of their own accord remained by the river Phasis. 104. For the Colchians were evidently Egyptians, and I say this having myself observed it before I heard it from others; and as it was a matter of interest to me I inquired of both people, and the Colchians had more recollection of the Egyptians than the Egyptians had of the Colchians ; yet the Egyptians said that they thought the Colchians were descended from the army of Sesostris ; and I formed my conjecture, not only because they are swarthy and curly-headed, for this amounts to nothing, because others are so likewise, but chiefly from the following circumstances, because the Colchians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians, are the only nations of the world who, from the first, have practised circumcision. For the Phænicians, and the Syrians in Palestine, acknowledge that they learnt the custom from the Egyptians; and the Syrians about Thermodon and the river Parthenius, with their neighbours the Macrones, confess that they very lately learnt the same custom from the Colchians. And these are the only nations that are circumcised, and thus appear evidently to act in the same manner as the Egyptians. But of the Egyptians and Ethiopians, I am unable to say which learnt it from the other, for it is evidently a very ancient custom. And this appears to me a strong proof that the Phænicians learnt this practice through their intercourse with the Egyptians, for all the Phænicians who have any commerce with Greece no longer imitate the Egyptians in this usage, but abstain from circumcising their children. 105. I will now mention 4 another fact respecting the Colchians, how they resemble the Egyptians. They alone and the Egyptians manufacture” linen in the same manner; and the whole way of living, and the language, is similar in both + “Come now, I will also mention.”
5 See chap. 35.
nations; but the Colchian linen is called by the Greeks Sardonic, though that which comes from Egypt is called Egyptian. 106. As to the pillars which Sesostris king of Egypt erected in the different countries, most of them are evidently no longer in existence, but in Syrian Palestine I myself saw some still remaining, and the inscriptions before mentioned still on them, and the private parts of a woman.
There are also in Ionia two images of this king, carved on rocks, one on the way from Ephesia to Phocæa, the other from Sardis to Smyrna. In both places a man is carved, four cubits and a half high, holding a spear in his right hand, and in his left a bow, and the rest of his equipment in unison, for it is partly Egyptian and partly Ethiopian; from one shoulder to the other across the breast extend sacred Egyptian characters engraved, which have the following meaning: “I ACQUIRED THIS REGION BY MY OWN SHOULDERS.” Who or whence he is, he does not here show, but has elsewhere made known. Some, however, who have seen these monuments have conjectured them to be images of Memnon, herein being very far from the truth.
107. The priests said moreover of this Egyptian Sesostris, that returning and bringing with him many men from the nations whose territories he had subdued, when he arrived at the Pelusian Daphnæ, his brother, to whom he had committed the government of Egypt, invited him to an entertainment, and his sons with him, and caused wood to be piled up round the house, and having caused to be piled up, set it on fire: but that Sesostris, being informed of this, immediately consulted with his wife, for he took his wife with him; and she advised him to extend two of his six sons across the fire, and form a bridge over the burning mass, and that the rest should step on them and make their escape. Sesostris did so, and two of his sons were in this manner burnt to death, but the rest, together with their father, were saved. 108. Sesostris having returned to Egypt, and taken revenge on his brother, employed the multitude of prisoners whom he brought from the countries he had subdued, in the following works : these were the persons who drew the huge stones which, in the time of this king, were conveyed to the temple of Vulcan; they, too, were compelled to dig all the canals now seen in Egypt; by their involuntary labour they made Egypt, which before was throughout practicable for horses and carriages,
unfit for these purposes ; for from that time Egypt, though it was one level plain, became impassable for horses or carriages ; and this is caused by the canals, which are numerous and in every direction. But the king intersected the country for this reason : such of the Egyptians as occupied the cities not on the river, but inland, when the river receded, being in want of water, were forced to use a brackish beverage which they drew from wells ; and for this reason Egypt was intersected. 109. They said also that this king divided the country amongst all the Egyptians, giving an equal square allotment to each ; and from thence he drew his revenues, having required them to pay a fixed tax every year ; but if the river happened to take away a part of any one's allotment, he was to come to him and make known what had happened ; whereupon the king sent persons to inspect and measure how much the land was diminished, that in future he might pay a proportionate part of the appointed tax. Hence land-measuring appears to me to have had its beginning, and to have passed over into Greece: for the pole 7 and the sun-dial, and the division of the day into twelve parts, the Greeks learnt from the Babylonians. 110. This king then was the only Egyptian that ruled over Ethiopia ; and he left as memorials before Vulcan's temple, statues of stone ; two of thirty cubits, himself and his wife ; and his four sons, each of twenty cubits. A long time after, the priest of Vulcan would not suffer Darius the Persian to place his statue before them, saying, “that deeds had not been achieved by him equal to those of Sesostris the Egyptian : for that Sesostris had subdued other nations, not fewer than Darius had done, and the Scythians besides ; but that Darius was not able to conquer the Scythians ; wherefore it was not right for one who had not surpassed him in achievements to place his statue before his offerings." They relate, however, that Darius pardoned these observations.
111. After the death of Sesostris, they said that his son Pheron succeeded to the kingdom ; that he undertook no military expedition, and happened to become blind through the following occurrence : the river having risen a very great
6 Literally, “ using it from wells."
7 IIólos here means “a concave dial,” shaped like the vault of heaven.--See Baehr.