« PreviousContinue »
moreover, when any man complained of his decision, he used to make him some present out of his own treasury and pacify his anger. To this Mycerinus, who was thus beneficent towards his subjects, and who followed these practices, the first beginning of misfortunes was the death of his daughter, who was his only child: whereupon he, being extremely afflicted with the calamity that had befallen him, and wishing to bury her in a more costly manner than usual, caused a hollow wooden image of a cow to be made, and then, having covered it with gold, he put the body of his deceased daughter into it. 130. This cow was not interred in the ground, but even in my time was exposed to view, being in the city of Sais, placed in the royal palace, in a richly furnished chamber ; and they burn near it all kinds of aromatics every day, and a lamp is kept burning by it throughout each night. In another chamber near to this cow are placed the images of Mycerinus's concubines, as the priests of Sais affirmed; and indeed wooden statues, about twenty in number, all formed naked, are placed there; however, as to who they are, I am unable to say, except what was told me. 131. Some people however give the following account of this cow and these statues: that Mycerinus fell in love with his own daughter, and had intercourse with her against her will; but afterwards, they say, that the girl strangled herself through grief, and he entombed her in this cow ; but her mother cut off the hands of the servants who had betrayed her daughter to the father; and that now their images have suffered the same that they did when alive. But these things, as I conjecture, are trifling fables, both in other respects and in what relates to the hands of the statues, for I myself saw that they had lost their hands from age, which were seen lying at their feet even in my time. 132. The cow is in other parts covered with a purple cloth, but shows the head and the neck, covered over with very thick gold; and the orb of the sun imitated in gold is placed between the horns. The cow is not standing up, but kneeling; in size it is equal to a large living cow. It is carried every year out of the chamber. When the Egyptians beat" themselves for the god that is not to be named by me on this occasion, they then carry out the cow to the light; for they say that she, when she was dying, entreated her father Mycerinus to permit her to see the sun once every year. 133. After the loss of his daughter, this second calamity befel this king : an oracle reached him from the city of Buto, importing, “that he had no more than six years to live, and should die in the seventh :” but he, thinking this very hard, sent a reproachful message to the god, complaining, “that his father and uncle, who had shut up the temples, and paid no regard to the gods, and moreover had oppressed men, had lived long; whereas he who was religious must die so soon.” But a second message came to him from the oracle, stating, “that for this very reason his life was shortened, because he had not done what he ought to have done; for it was needful that Egypt should be afflicted during one hundred and fifty years; and the two who were kings before him understood this, but he did not.” When Mycerinus heard this, seeing that this sentence was now pronounced against him, he ordered a great number of lamps to be made, and having lighted them, whenever night came on, he drank and enjoyed himself, never ceasing night or day, roving about the marshes and groves, wherever he could hear of places most suited for pleasure: and he had recourse to this artifice for the purpose of convicting the oracle of falsehood, that by turning the nights into days, he might have twelve years instead of six. 134. This king also left a pyramid much less than that of his father, being on each side twenty feet short of three plethra; it is quadrangular, and built half-way up of Ethiopian stone. Some of the Grecians erroneously say that this pyramid is the work of the courtesan Rhodopis; but they evidently appear to me ignorant who Rhodopis was ; for they would not else have attributed to her the building such a pyramid, on which, so to speak, numberless thousands of talents were expended ; besides, Rhodopis flourished in the reign of Amasis, and not at this time ; for she was very many years later than those kings who left these pyramids. By birth she was a Thracian, servant to Iadmon, son of Hephaestopolis, a Samian, and fellow-servant with Æsop, the writer of fables, for he too belonged to Iadmon, as is clearly proved by this circumstance. When the Delphians frequently made proclamation, in obedience to the oracle, for “any one who would require satisfaction for the death of AEsop,” no one else appeared, but another Iadmon, the grandson of this Iadmon, required it; thus AEsop must have belonged to Iadmon. 135. Rhodopis came to Egypt, under the conduct of Xanthus the Samian ; and having come to gain money by her person, she was ransomed for a large sum by Charaxus of Mitylene, son to Seamandronymus, and brother of Sappho the poetess. Thus Rhodopis was made free, and continued in Egypt, and being very lovely, acquired great riches for a person of her condition, though no way sufficient to erect such a pyramid. For as any one who wishes may to this day see the tenth of her wealth, there is no need to attribute any great wealth to her. For Rhodopis was desirous of leaving a monument to herself in Greece, and, having had such a work made as no one ever yet devised and dedicated in a temple, to offer it at Delphi as a memorial of herself: having therefore made from the tenth of her wealth a great number of iron spits for roasting oxen, as far as the tenth allowed, she sent them to Delphi; which are still piled up behind the altar, which the Chians dedicated opposite the temple itself. The courtesans of Naucratis are generally very lovely: for in the first place this one, of whom this account is given, became so famous that all the Greeks became familiar with the name of Rhodopis; and in the next place, after her, another, whose name was Archidice, became celebrated throughout Greece, though less talked about than the former. As for Charaxus, when, having ransomed Rhodopis, he returned to Mitylene, Sappho gibed him very much in an ode. Now I have done speaking of Rhodopis.
* See Chap. 61,
*3. After Mycerinus, the priests said, that Asychis became king of Egypt, and that he built the eastern portico to the temple of Vulcan, which is far the most beautiful and the largest: for all the porticos have sculptured figures, and an infinite variety of architecture, but this most of all. They related, that during his reign, there being a great want of circulation of money, a law was made by the Egyptians, that a man, by giving the dead body of his father in pledge, might borrow money; and it was also added to this law, that the lender should have power over the whole sepulchre of the borrower; and that on any one who gave this pledge, the following punishment should be inflicted, if he afterwards refused to repay the debt, that neither he himself, when he died, should be buried in his family sepulchre, or in any other, nor have the liberty of burying any other of his own dead. This king being desirous of surpassing his predecessors who were kings of Egypt, left a pyramid, as a memorial, made of bricks; on which is an inscription carved on stone, in the following words: “Do not despise me in comparison with the pyramids of stone, for I excel them as much as Jupiter the other gods. For by plunging a pole into a lake, and collecting the mire that stuck to the pole, men made bricks, and in this manner built me.” Such were the works that this king performed. 137. After him, there reigned a blind man of the city of Anysis, whose name was Anysis. During his reign, the Ethiopians, and Sabacon, king of the Ethiopians, invaded Egypt with a large force; whereupon this blind king fled to the fens; and the Ethiopian reigned over Egypt for fifty years, during which time he performed the following actions. When any Egyptian committed any crime, he would not have any of them put to death, but passed sentence upon each according to the magnitude of his offence, enjoining them to heap up mounds against their own city to which each of the offenders belonged: and by this means the cities were made much higher; for first of all they had been raised by those who dug the canals in the time of king Sesostris," and secondly, under the Ethiopian they were made very high. Although other cities in Egypt were carried to a great height, in my opinion, the greatest mounds were thrown up about the city of Bubastis, in which is a temple of Bubastis well worthy of mention ; for though other temples may be larger and more costly, yet none is more pleasing to look at than this. Bubastis, in the Grecian language, answers to Diana. 138. Her sacred precinct is thus situated: all except the entrance is an island ; for two canals from the Nile extend to it, not mingling with each other, but each reaches as far as the entrance of the precinct, one flowing round it on one side, the other on the other. Each is a hundred feet broad, and shaded with trees. The portico is ten orgyae in height, and is adorned with figures six cubits high, that are deserving of notice. This precinct, being in the middle of the city, is visible on every side to a person going round it: for as the city has been mounded up to a considerable height, but the temple has not been moved, it is conspicuous as it was originally built. A wall sculptured with figures runs round it; and within is a grove of lofty trees, planted round a large temple in which the 6 See II. 108.
image is placed. The width and length of the precinct is each way a stade. Along the entrance is a road paved with stone, about three stades in length, leading through the square eastward ; and in width it is about four plethra: on each side of the road grow trees of enormous height: it leads to the temple of Mercury. Such then is the situation of this precinct. 139. They related that the final departure of the Ethiopian occurred in the following manner: that he, having seen a vision of the following kind in his sleep, fled away: it appeared to him that a man, standing by him, advised him to assemble all the priests in Egypt, and to cut them in two down the middle ; but he, having seen this vision, said, that he thought the gods held out this as a pretext to him, in order that he, having been guilty of impiety in reference to sacred things, might draw down some evil on himself from gods or from men ; he would not therefore do so; but as the time was expired during which it was foretold that he should reign over Egypt, he would depart from the country ; for while he was yet in Ethiopia, the oracles which the Ethiopians have recourse to answered, that he was fated to reign over Egypt fifty years. Since, then, this period had elapsed, and the vision of the dream troubled him, Sabacon of his own accord withdrew from Egypt. 140. When therefore the Ethiopian departed from Egypt, the blind king resumed the government, having returned from the fens, where he had lived fifty years, having formed an island of ashes and earth. For when any of the Egyptians came to him bringing provisions, as they were severally ordered unknown to the Ethiopian, he bade them bring some ashes also as a present. No one before Amyrtaeus was able to discover this island; but for more than seven hundred years, the kings who preceded Amyrtaeus were unable to find it out: the name of this island was Elbo ; its size is about ten stades in each direction. 141. After him reigned the priest of Vulcan, whose name was Sethon: he held in no account and despised the military caste of the Egyptians, as not having need of their services; and accordingly, among other indignities, he took away their lands ; to each of whom, under former kings, twelve chosen acres” had been assigned. After this, Senacherib, king of the
7 The arura, here rendered “acre,” was an Egyptian measure, containing a square of 100 Egyptian cubits.