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Euterpe   

The Second Book, Entitled
EUTERPE


On the death of Cyrus, Cambyses his son by Cassandane daughter
of Pharnaspes took the kingdom. Cassandane had died in the lifetime of
Cyrus, who had made a great mourning for her at her death, and had
commanded all the subjects of his empire to observe the like.
Cambyses, the son of this lady and of Cyrus, regarding the Ionian
and Aeolian Greeks as vassals of his father, took them with him in his
expedition against Egypt among the other nations which owned his sway.
Now the Egyptians, before the reign of their king Psammetichus,
believed themselves to be the most ancient of mankind. Since
Psammetichus, however, made an attempt to discover who were actually
the primitive race, they have been of opinion that while they
surpass all other nations, the Phrygians surpass them in antiquity.
This king, finding it impossible to make out by dint of inquiry what
men were the most ancient, contrived the following method of
discovery:- He took two children of the common sort, and gave them
over to a herdsman to bring up at his folds, strictly charging him
to let no one utter a word in their presence, but to keep them in a
sequestered cottage, and from time to time introduce goats to their
apartment, see that they got their fill of milk, and in all other
respects look after them. His object herein was to know, after the
indistinct babblings of infancy were over, what word they would
first articulate. It happened as he had anticipated. The herdsman
obeyed his orders for two years, and at the end of that time, on his
one day opening the door of their room and going in, the children both
ran up to him with outstretched arms, and distinctly said "Becos."
When this first happened the herdsman took no notice; but afterwards
when he observed, on coming often to see after them, that the word was
constantly in their mouths, he informed his lord, and by his command
brought the children into his presence. Psammetichus then himself
heard them say the word, upon which he proceeded to make inquiry
what people there was who called anything "becos," and hereupon he
learnt that "becos" was the Phrygian name for bread. In
consideration of this circumstance the Egyptians yielded their claims,
and admitted the greater antiquity of the Phrygians.
That these were the real facts I learnt at Memphis from the
priests of Vulcan. The Greeks, among other foolish tales, relate
that Psammetichus had the children brought up by women whose tongues
he had previously cut out; but the priests said their bringing up
was such as I have stated above. I got much other information also
from conversation with these priests while I was at Memphis, and I
even went to Heliopolis and to Thebes, expressly to try whether the
priests of those places would agree in their accounts with the priests
at Memphis. The Heliopolitans have the reputation of being the best
skilled in history of all the Egyptians. What they told me
concerning their religion it is not my intention to repeat, except the
names of their deities, which I believe all men know equally. If I
relate anything else concerning these matters, it will only be when
compelled to do so by the course of my narrative.
Now with regard to mere human matters, the accounts which they
gave, and in which all agreed, were the following. The Egyptians, they
said, were the first to discover the solar year, and to portion out
its course into twelve parts. They obtained this knowledge from the
stars. (To my mind they contrive their year much more cleverly than
the Greeks, for these last every other year intercalate a whole month,
but the Egyptians, dividing the year into twelve months of thirty days
each, add every year a space of five days besides, whereby the circuit
of the seasons is made to return with uniformity.) The Egyptians, they
went on to affirm, first brought into use the names of the twelve
gods, which the Greeks adopted from them; and first erected altars,
images, and temples to the gods; and also first engraved upon stone
the figures of animals. In most of these cases they proved to me

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