Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Herodotus
Pages of Euterpe

Previous | Next


there would be danger of Memphis being completely overwhelmed by the
flood. Min, the first king, having thus, by turning the river, made
the tract where it used to run, dry land, proceeded in the first place
to build the city now called Memphis, which lies in the narrow part of
Egypt; after which he further excavated a lake outside the town, to
the north and west, communicating with the river, which was itself the
eastern boundary. Besides these works, he also, the priests said,
built the temple of Vulcan which stands within the city, a vast
edifice, very worthy of mention.
Next, they read me from a papyrus the names of three hundred and
thirty monarchs, who (they said) were his successors upon the
throne. In this number of generations there were eighteen Ethiopian
kings, and one queen who was a native; all the rest were kings and
Egyptians. The queen bore the same name as the Babylonian princess,
namely, Nitocris. They said that she succeeded her brother; he had
been king of Egypt, and was put to death by his subjects, who then
placed her upon the throne. Bent on avenging his death, she devised
a cunning scheme by which she destroyed a vast number of Egyptians.
She constructed a spacious underground chamber, and, on pretence of
inaugurating it, contrived the following:- Inviting to a banquet those
of the Egyptians whom she knew to have had the chief share in the
murder of her brother, she suddenly, as they were feasting, let the
river in upon them by means of a secret duct of large size. This and
this only did they tell me of her, except that, when she had done as I
have said, she threw herself into an apartment full of ashes, that she
might escape the vengeance whereto she would otherwise have been
The other kings, they said, were personages of no note or
distinction, and left no monuments of any account, with the
exception of the last, who was named Moeris. He left several memorials
of his reign- the northern gateway of the temple of Vulcan, the lake
excavated by his orders, whose dimensions I shall give presently,
and the pyramids built by him in the lake, the size of which will be
stated when I describe the lake itself wherein they stand. Such were
his works: the other kings left absolutely nothing.
Passing over these monarchs, therefore, I shall speak of the
king who reigned next, whose name was Sesostris. He, the priests said,
first of all proceeded in a fleet of ships of war from the Arabian
gulf along the shores of the Erythraean sea, subduing the nations as
he went, until he finally reached a sea which could not be navigated
by reason of the shoals. Hence he returned to Egypt, where, they
told me, he collected a vast armament, and made a progress by land
across the continent, conquering every people which fell in his way.
In the countries where the natives withstood his attack, and fought
gallantly for their liberties, he erected pillars, on which he
inscribed his own name and country, and how that he had here reduced
the inhabitants to subjection by the might of his arms: where, on
the contrary, they submitted readily and without a struggle, he
inscribed on the pillars, in addition to these particulars, an
emblem to mark that they were a nation of women, that is, unwarlike
and effeminate.
In this way he traversed the whole continent of Asia, whence he
passed on into Europe, and made himself master of Scythia and of
Thrace, beyond which countries I do not think that his army extended
its march. For thus far the pillars which he erected are still
visible, but in the remoter regions they are no longer found.
Returning to Egypt from Thrace, he came, on his way, to the banks of
the river Phasis. Here I cannot say with any certainty what took
place. Either he of his own accord detached a body of troops from
his main army and left them to colonise the country, or else a certain
number of his soldiers, wearied with their long wanderings,
deserted, and established themselves on the banks of this stream.
There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race.
Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, I had remarked

Previous | Next
Site Search