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

Previous | Next


second calamity, of which I shall now proceed to give an account. An
oracle reached him from the town of Buto, which said, "Six years
only shalt thou live upon the earth, and in the seventh thou shalt end
thy days." Mycerinus, indignant, sent an angry message to the
oracle, reproaching the god with his injustice- "My father and uncle,"
he said, "though they shut up the temples, took no thought of the
gods, and destroyed multitudes of men, nevertheless enjoyed a long
life; I, who am pious, am to die so soon!" There came in reply a
second message from the oracle- "For this very reason is thy life
brought so quickly to a close- thou hast not done as it behoved
thee. Egypt was fated to suffer affliction one hundred and fifty
years- the two kings who preceded thee upon the throne understood
this- thou hast not understood it." Mycerinus, when this answer
reached him, perceiving that his doom was fixed, had prepared, which
he lighted every day at eventime, and feasted and enjoyed himself
unceasingly both day and night, moving about in the marsh-country
and the woods, and visiting all the places that he heard were
agreeable sojourns. His wish was to prove the oracle false, by turning
the nights into days, and so living twelve years in the space of six.
He too left a pyramid, but much inferior in size to his
father's. It is a square, each side of which falls short of three
plethra by twenty feet, and is built for half its height of the
stone of Ethiopia. Some of the Greeks call it the work of Rhodopis the
courtesan, but they report falsely. It seems to me that these
persons cannot have any real knowledge who Rhodopis was; otherwise
they would scarcely have ascribed to her a work on which uncounted
treasures, so to speak, must have been expended. Rhodopis also lived
during the reign of Amasis, not of Mycerinus, and was thus very many
years later than the time of the kings who built the pyramids. She was
a Thracian by birth, and was the slave of Iadmon, son of
Hephaestopolis, a Samian. Aesop, the fable-writer, was one of her
fellow-slaves. That Aesop belonged to Iadmon is proved by many
facts- among others, by this. When the Delphians, in obedience to
the command of the oracle, made proclamation that if any one claimed
compensation for the murder of Aesop he should receive it, the
person who at last came forward was Iadmon, grandson of the former
Iadmon, and he received the compensation. Aesop therefore must
certainly have been the former Iadmon's slave.
Rhodopis really arrived in Egypt under the conduct of Xantheus the
Samian; she was brought there to exercise her trade, but was
redeemed for a vast sum by Charaxus, a Mytilenaean, the son of
Scamandronymus, and brother of Sappho the poetess. After thus
obtaining her freedom, she remained in Egypt, and, as she was very
beautiful, amassed great wealth, for a person in her condition; not,
however, enough to enable her to erect such a work as this pyramid.
Any one who likes may go and see to what the tenth part of her
wealth amounted, and he will thereby learn that her riches must not be
imagined to have been very wonderfully great. Wishing to leave a
memorial of herself in Greece, she determined to have something made
the like of which was not to be found in any temple, and to offer it
at the shrine at Delphi. So she set apart a tenth of her
possessions, and purchased with the money a quantity of iron spits,
such as are fit for roasting oxen whole, whereof she made a present to
the oracle. They are still to be seen there, lying of a heap, behind
the altar which the Chians dedicated, opposite the sanctuary.
Naucratis seems somehow to be the place where such women are most
attractive. First there was this Rhodopis of whom we have been
speaking, so celebrated a person that her name came to be familiar
to all the Greeks; and, afterwards, there was another, called
Archidice, notorious throughout Greece, though not so much talked of
as her predecessor. Charaxus, after ransoming Rhodopis, returned to
Mytilene, and was often lashed by Sappho in her poetry. But enough has
been said on the subject of this courtesan.
After Mycerinus, the priests said, Asychis ascended the throne. He

Previous | Next
Site Search