Page images

surpassing them. When the Eleans, having arrived in Egypt, mentioned for what purpose they had come, this king thereupon summoned those who were reputed to be the wisest among the Egyptians; and the Egyptians, having met together,

heard the Eleans relate what was settled for them to do with : regard to the games ; and they, having mentioned every thing,

said, they had come to inquire “whether the Egyptians could invent any thing more equitable.” And they, having consulted together, asked the Eleans whether their own citizens were permitted to enter the lists; they said that they and all other Grecians, who wished, were allowed to contend; but the Egyptians replied, “ that in making such enactments they had totally deviated from the rules of justice, for that they could not contrive so as not to favour a citizen of their own to the prejudice of a stranger. But if they really wished to make just enactments, and had come into Egypt for this purpose, they advised them to establish games for foreign candidates, and to allow no Elean to enter the lists.” Such was the suggestion that the Egyptians made to the Eleans.

161. When Psammis had reigned only six years over Egypt, and made an expedition into Ethiopia, and shortly afterwards died, Apries his son succeeded to the kingdom. He, next to his grandfather Psammitichus, enjoyed greater prosperity than any of the former kings, during a reign of five and twenty years, in which period he marched an army against Sidon, and engaged the Tyrian by sea. But when it was destined for him to meet with adversity, it happened on an occasion, which I shall narrate more fully in my Libyan history, and briefly in this place. For Apries, having sent an army against the Cyrenæans, met with a signal defeat; but the Egyptians, complaining of this, revolted from him, suspecting that Apries had designedly sent them to certain ruin, in order that they might be destroyed, and he might govern the rest of the Egyptians with greater security ; both those that returned and the friends of those who perished, being very indignant at this, openly revolted against him. 162. Apries, having heard of this, sent Amasis to appease them by persuasion. But when he, having come to them, was endeavouring to restrain them, as he was urging them to desist from their enterprise, one of the Egyptians standing behind him placed a

6 See B. IV. chap. 159.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


helmet on his head, and as he put it on said, “that he put it on him to make him king.” And this action was not at all disagreeable to Amasis, as he presently showed. For when the revolters had appointed him king of the Egyptians, he prepared to lead an army against Apries; but Apries, being informed of this, sent to Amasis a considerable person among the Egyptians that adhered to him, whose name was Patarbemis, with orders to bring Amasis alive into his presence. When Patarbemis arrived and summoned Amasis, Amasis, raising his leg, (for he happened to be on horseback,) broke wind and bade him carry that to Apries. Nevertheless Patarbemis begged of him, since the king had sent for him, to go to him; but he answered, “that he had been some time preparing to do so, and that Apries should have no cause of complaint, for that he would not only appear himself, but would bring others with him." Patarbemis, perceiving his design from what was said, and seeing preparations being made, returned in haste, as he wished to inform the king as soon as possible of what was going on: when, however, he came to Apries without bringing Amasis, Apries, taking no time for deliberation, in a transport of passion commanded his ears and nose to be cut off. The rest of the Egyptians, who still adhered to him, seeing one of the most distinguished among them treated in so unworthy a manner, did not delay a moment, but went immediately over to the others and gave themselves to Amasis. 163. When Apries heard of this, he armed his auxiliaries and marched against the Egyptians; but he had with him Carian and Ionian auxiliaries to the number of thirty thousand; and he had a palace in the city of Sais, that was spacious and magnificent. Now Apries' party advanced against the Egyptians, and the party of Amasis against the foreigners. They met near the city Momemphis, and prepared to engage with each other.

164. There are seven classes of Egyptians, and of these some are called priests, others warriors, others herdsmen, others swineherds, others tradesmen, others interpreters, and lastly, pilots; such are the classes of Egyptians; they take their names from the employments they exercise. Their warriors are called Calasiries or Hermotybies, and they are of the following districts, for all Egypt is divided into districts. 165. The following are the districts of the Hermotybies,

Busiris, Sais, Chemmis, Papremis, the island called Prosopitis, and the half of Natho. From these districts are the Hermotybies, being in number, when they are most numerous, a hundred and sixty thousand. None of these learn any mechanical art, but apply themselves wholly to military affairs. 166. These next are the districts of the Calasiries; Thebes, Bubastis, Aphthis, Tanis, Mendes, Sebennys, Athribis, Pharbæthis, Thmuis, Onuphis, Anysis, Mycephoris ; this district is situated in an island opposite the city Bubastis. These are the districts of the Calasiries, being in number, when they are most numerous, two hundred and fifty thousand men: neither are these allowed to practise any art, but they devote themselves to military pursuits alone, the son succeeding to his father. 167. Whether the Greeks learnt this custom from the Egyptians I am unable to determine with certainty, seeing that the Thracians, Scythians, Persians, Lydians, and almost all barbarous nations, hold in less honour than their other citizens, those who learn any art and their descendants, but deem suc to be noble as abstain from handicrafts, and particularly those who devote themselves to war. All the Greeks, moreover, have adopted the same notion, and especially the Lacedæmonians ; but the Corinthians hold handicraftsmen in least disesteem. 168. To these alone of all the Egyptians, besides the priests, the following special privileges are attached; to each twelve chosen acres 7 free from tribute: the acre contains a square of one hundred Egyptian cubits, and the Egyptian cubit is equal to that of Samos: these privileges were attached to them all, but others enjoyed them by turns, and the same persons never more than once. A thousand of the Calasiries, and as many of the Hermotybies, each served for a year as the king's body-guard: to these accordingly was given the following allowance daily, in addition to the acres, to each five minæ in weight of baked bread, two minæ of beef, and four arysters of wine. This was the constant allowance of the body-guard.

169. When therefore Apries, leading his auxiliaries, and Amasis, all the Egyptians, met together at Momemphis, they came to an engagement, and the foreigners fought well, but being far inferior in numbers, were, on that account, defeated.

? See chap. 141, and note there.

Apries is said to have been of opinion that not even a god could deprive him of his kingdom, so securely did he think himself established: now, however, when he came to an engagement he was beaten, and being taken prisoner, he was carried back to Sais, to that which was formerly his own palace, but which now belonged to Amasis : here he was maintained for some time in the royal palace, and Amasis treated him well. But at length the Egyptians complaining that he did not act rightly in preserving a man who was the greatest enemy both to them and to him, he thereupon delivered Apries to the Egyptians; but they strangled him, and afterwards buried him in his ancestral sepulchre; this is in the sacred precinct of Minerva, very near the temple, on the left hand as you enter. The Saitæ used to bring all the kings sprung from this district within the sacred precinct ; however, the tomb of Amasis is further from the temple than that of Apries and his progenitors, but even 8 this is in the court of the sacred precinct, consisting of a large stone chamber, adorned with columns, made in imitation of palm-trees, and with other ornaments ; inside this chamber are placed folding doors, and within the doors is the sepulchre. 170. At Sais also, in the sacred precinct of Minerva, behind the chapel and joining the whole of the wall, is the tomb of one whose name I consider it impious to divulge on such an occasion. And in the enclosure stand large stone obelisks, and there is a lake near, ornamented with a stone margin, formed in a circle, and in size, as appeared to me, much the same as that in Delos, which is called the Circular. 171. In this lake they perform by night the representation of that person's adventures, which they call mysteries. On these matters, however, though accurately acquainted with the particulars of them, I must observe a discreet silence. And respecting the sacred rites of Ceres, which the Greeks call Thesmophoria, although I am acquainted with them, I must observe silence except so far as it is lawful for me to speak of them. The daughters of Danaus were they who introduced these ceremonies from Egypt, and taught them to the Pelasgian women: but afterwards, when almost the whole Peloponnese was depopulated by the Dorians, these rites were lost ; but the Arcadians, who

8 All former translators of Herodotus have misconstrued this passage, by neglecting to give the force of the word μεντοι. .

were the only Peloponnesians left, and not expelled, alone preserved them.

172. Apries being thus dethroned, Amasis, who was of the Saitic district, reigned in his stead ; the name of the city from which he came was Siuph. At first the Egyptians despised, and held him in no great estimation, as having been formerly a private person, and of no illustrious family ; but afterwards he conciliated them by his address, without any arrogance.

He had an infinite number of other treasures, and besides a golden foot-pan, in which Amasis himself, and all his guests, were accustomed to wash their feet. Having then broken this in pieces, he had made from it the statue of a god, and placed it in the most suitable part of the city ; but the Egyptians, flocking to the image, paid it the greatest reverence. But Amasis, informed of their behaviour, called the Egyptians together, and explained the matter to them, saying, "that the statue was made out of the foot-pan in which the Egyptians formerly vomited, made water, and washed their feet, and which they then so greatly reverenced ; now then, he proceeded to say, the same had happened to him as to the footpan; for though he was before but a private person, yet he was now their king ;" he therefore required them to honour and respect him : by this means he won over the Egyptians, so that they thought fit to obey him. 173. He adopted the following method of managing his affairs : early in the morning, until the time of full-market, he assiduously despatched the business brought before him ; after that he drank and jested with his companions, and he talked loosely and sportively. But his friends, offended at this, admonished him, saying, “You do not, O king, control yourself properly, in making yourself too common. For it becomes you, who sit on a venerable throne, to pass the day in transacting public business ; thus the Egyptians would know that they are governed by a great man, and you would be better spoken of. But now you act in a manner not at all becoming a king." But he answered them as follows: “ They who have bows, when they want to use them, bend them ; but when they have done using them, they unbend them ; for if it were kept always bent, it would break, so hat he could not use it when he had need. Such is the condition of man; if he should incessantly attend to serious business, and not give

« PreviousContinue »