translated by Shlomo Felberbaum

photographs by Shane Solow

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved

Installment 14

Then, after he had ceased from the trench, Necos turned to expeditions and triremes were made, some by the north sea, some in the Arabian gulf by the Red sea, whose slipways are still visible. And those he used in time of his need and the Syrians on foot Necos encountered in Magdolus and prevailed over and after the battle he took Cadytis, a city in Syria that was large. And the clothing, in which he in fact had worked that out, he dedicated to Apollo by sending it to the Branchidae of the Milesians. Then afterward, when he had ruled sixteen years in all, he met with his end and to his son Psammis he handed down the rule.

To that Psammis, who was king of Egypt, came the Eleans’ messengers, because they were boasting that most justly and beautifully they held the contest in Olympia of all human beings and thought that in addition to that not even the wisest of human beings, the Egyptians, could find out besides anything. But when, on having come to Egypt, the Eleans said for what they had come, thereupon that king called together of the Egyptians those said to be wisest. And, after the Egyptians had gone together, they inquired of the Eleans who said quite all that it was fitting for them to do concerning the contest and they, on having related all, asserted they had come to learn subsequently whether the Egyptians were able to find out besides anything more just than that. Then they took counsel and asked the Eleans whether among them their fellow-citizens competed and they asserted both of themselves and all the rest of the Greeks alike to whoever wants it is permitted to compete. So the Egyptians asserted they, if they held it thus, had missed entirely what was just, because there was no way to contrive how they would not favor their townsman, if he competed, and so they acted unjustly to the foreigner, but if indeed they wanted to hold it justly and for that they had come to Egypt, for foreign contestants they bade hold the contest and to none of the Eleans it be allowed to compete. That the Egyptians suggested to the Eleans.

When Psammis six years only had been king of Egypt and advanced with an army against Ethiopia and straightway had met with his end, Apries, the son of Psammis, succeeded, who, after Psammetichus his forefather, proved happiest of the earlier kings, since he had ruled for twenty five years, in which he had driven an army against Sidon and fought with ships the Tyrian. But when for him it had to turn out badly, it turned out from a cause that I will relate at greater length in the Lybian accounts and moderately in the present; for, after Apries had sent off a large expedition against the Cyrenians, he stumbled greatly and the Egyptians, finding fault with that, revolted from him, since they thought Apries with forethought had sent them off to manifest evil, just that their destruction might come about and he himself might rule the remaining Egyptians more safely. So thinking that terrible, those who had returned back home and the friends of those that had perished revolted openly. And, when Apries had learned that by inquiry, he sent against them Amasis to prevent them with speeches. Then after he, on coming, began to restrain the Egyptians from doing that, as he was speaking, one of the Egyptians stood behind and put a helmet on him and, while he was putting it on, asserted with a view to kingdom he put it on. And what was being done came about not in any way unwished for by him, as the event was showing plainly. For, when the revolted had set themselves him as king of the Egyptians, he prepared himself with the intenton that he would drive against Apries. But, after Apries had learned that by inquiry, he sent to Amasis an esteemed man of the Egyptians round himself, whose name was Patarbemis, and enjoined on him to bring Amasis alive to himself. When, on coming, Patarbemis called Amasis, Amasis, since he was in fact sitting down on a horse, rising on it, broke wind and bade him bring that back for Apries. Nonetheless Patarbemis thought right he, at the king’s summoning, should go to him, but he replied to him that he had long been preparing to do that and Apries would not find fault with him, because both he himself would be present and he would bring others. Then Patarbemis on the basis of what was said could not fail to know the thought and, as he was preparing, with haste he went away, since he wanted the quickest way to make clear to the king what was being done. And, when he had come to Apries without bringing Amasis, he granted no speech to him, but was very angry and gave the order to cut off his ears and nose. After the remaining of the Egyptians, who still were well minded toward his affairs, had seen the man most esteemed among them so shamefully treated with indignity, with a pause of quite no time they revolted to the others and gave themselves to Amasis. So, when Apries had learned by inquiry that too, he armed his auxiliaries and drove against the Egyptians, and he had round himself thirty thousand Carian and Ionian men as auxiliaries. Moreover, his royal palace was in the city of Sais, which was large and worth beholding. Then those round Apries went against the Egyptians and those round Amasis against the foreigners. Thus in the city of Momemphis both parties came to be and were to make trial of each other.

There are seven kinds of Egyptians and of them one group priests and another warriors is called and another cowherds, another swineherds, another retailers, another interpreters and another pilots. So many are the kinds of Egyptians and names have been assigned to them after their arts. The warriors among them are called Calasiries and Hermotybies and are from the following districts, as indeed by districts all Egypt is divided up. These are the districts of the Hermotybies: the Bousirisian, the Saisian, the Chemmisian, the Papremisian, the island called Prosopitis, half of Nathos. From those districts the Hermotybies are, who amounted, whenever they amounted to the most, to sixteen myriads, and of them no one has learned anything of handicraft, but they are devoted to what is fit for battle. And of the Calasiries are the following other districts: the Theban, the Boubastisian, the Aphthisian, the Tanisian, the Mendesian, the Sebennysian, the Athribisian, the Pharbaithisian, the Thmouisian, the Onouphisian, the Anysian, the Myekphorisian (that district is settled on an island, opposite the city of Boubastis). Those districts then are the Calasiries’, who amounted, whenever they amounted to the most, to twenty five myriads of men. To those too it is not permitted to practise any art, but they practise what is regarding war alone, son inheriting from father. Now, whether the Greeks have learned that too from the Egyptians, I am not able to judge exactly, because I see the Thacians, the Scythians, the Persians, the Lydians and almost all the barbarians of the opinion those who learn the arts and their descendants are further from honor than all the other fellow citizens and those removed from masteries of handicrafts are considered to be noble and especially those devoted to war. Anyhow, all the Greeks have learned that and especially the Lacedaemonians, while the Corinthians least despise the artisans of handicrafts. And the following honors were selected out for those groups alone of the Egyptians besides the priests, twelve selected out fields free of tax for each. The field is a hundred Egyptian cubits every way and the Egyptian cubit is in fact equal to the Samian. That indeed was selected out for all of them, but the following fruits they enjoyed in rotation and in no way the same men: a thousand of the Calasiries and another of the Hermotybies were the lance-bearers each year for the king; to those then besides the fields the following other gifts were given each day, a measure of baked grain, five minae for each, two minae of cow’s meat, four cups of wine. Those gifts were given to those who were lance-bearers on any occasion.

Then, when they, in going together, Apries leading the auxiliaries and Amasis all Egyptians, had come to the city of Momemphis, they engaged in an encounter and the foreigners, although they had fought well, yet, since they were far fewer in multitude, because of that were worsted. And of Apries the following is said to be the thought, that not even any god could make him cease from the kingdom; so safely did it seem to him to be set up. And so then, after he had engaged in an encounter, he was worsted and, captured alive, was brought away to the city of Sais, to what was previously his house, but by then at that time Amasis’ royal palace. Thereupon for a while he was maintained in the royal palace and Amasis treated him well, but finally, as the Egyptians were finding fault in that he did not just acts by maintaining the greatest enemy of them and himself, just then he handed over Apries to the Egyptians. They then strangled and thereafter buried him in his fathers’ burial-places. These are in the shrine of Athena, nearest the hall, for one who goes in on the left side. The Saisians bury all the kings descended from the district there inside, in the shrine. For in fact Amasis’ tomb, although it is farther from the hall than that of Apries’ and his forefathers’, yet that’s also in the court of the shrine, a large stone colonnade and adorned with pillars made in imitation of phoenixes, the trees, and with every other expense. And inside, in the colonnade, two doorways stand and in the doorways is the vault. Moreover, there are also burial-places of him, of whom I think not holy in a matter like the foregoing to tell out the name, in Sais in the shrine of Athena behind the temple, which are next to the whole wall of Athena, and in the precinct stand large stone obelisks and a lake is next to it, ornamented with a stone rim and well worked in a circle, and in size, as it seemed to me, precisely as large as the one in Delos called the wheel-like. And on that lake the shows of his sufferings at night they perform, which the Egyptians call mysteries. Now, about those acts by me, although I know over a greater extent how each of them is, let hushed words be laid. Also about the rite of Demeter, which the Greeks call Thesmophoria, also about that, by me let hushed words be laid, except in so far as of it it is holy to speak. The daughters of Danaus were those who brought away that rite from Egypt and taught the Pelasgian women and afterward, when the whole Peloponnesus had been expelled by the Dorians, the rite utterly perished and those Arcadians who were left behind of the Peloponnesians and were not expelled brought it through to safety alone.

temple of Apollo

When Apries had been put down, Amasis became king, who was of the district of Sais, and as for the city from which he was, its name is Siouph. Indeed at the first the Egyptians utterly despised and held Amasis in no great estimation, precisely seeing that he was previously a commoner and of a house of no distinction, but afterwards with wisdom Amasis brought them over to himself, not with senselessness. His were countless other goods and moreover a golden footpan, in which Amasis himself and all his banqueters on each occasion washed themselves off; then, after he had chopped that up, he had an image of a divinity made of it and set it up in the city wherever was most suitable and the Egyptians, going frequently to the image, reverenced it greatly. So, when Amasis had learned what was being done by his townsmen, he called together the Egyptians and made a disclosure by asserting from the footpan the image had been made, into which previously the Egyptians spit, made water and washed off their feet, and then they reverenced it greatly. Hence by then he asserted in speech he himself had fared similarly to the footpan, since previously he was a commoner, but in the present was their king, and to honor and respect himself he bade. In a manner like that he brought the Egyptians over to himself so as to think just to be slaves and he made use of a constitution of affairs like this: in the morning until the filling of the public square eagerly he did the deeds that were brought to him, but from then on he drank and made fun of his symposiasts and was foolish and sportive. Then, vexed by that, his friends warned him with words like this: “O king, not correctly are you chief of yourself in leading yourself on to what’s very much of little moment; for you should sit august on an august throne and through the day do the deeds, and thus the Egyptians would know that by a great man they are ruled and you would be heard of better, but, as it is, you are in no way performing the acts of a king.” And he replied with this to them: “The bows’ possessors, whenever they need to use them, stretch their strings tight and, whenever they complete their use, relax them. For, if indeed all the time they should be strung taut, they would get broken so that at the opportune time they would not be able to use them. Thus indeed also a human being’s constitution; if one should wish to be in a serious state on each and every occasion and not to let oneself go to sport in part, unawares one would either go mad or at least become paralysed. Since I know that, I dispense a part to each.” That reply he gave his friends. And it is said concerning Amasis, even when he was a private person, that he was a lover of drinking and a lover of jesting and in no way a man in a serious state and, whenever the necessities failed him through drinking and enjoying himself, he went round and stole. Then those who asserted he had their money, when he made a denial, led him to a seat of prophecy, wherever each group’s was. Both many times indeed he was convicted by the seats of prophecy and many times acquitted. So, when in fact he had become king, he acted like this: concerning all the gods that acquitted him of being a robber, those shrines of theirs he would neither have a care for nor offer anything for repair of, and he would not resort and sacrifice to them, on the ground that they were worth nothing and possessed deceitful seats of prophecy, but for all those that convicted him of being a robber, on the ground that they were truly gods and furnished undeceitful seats of prophecy, he cared the most. Then on the one hand in Sais for Athena he made to completion foregates of a marvellous kind and far excelled all men with their height and their size, in that they are of such large stones in their size and of what kinds, while on the other hand he dedicated large colossuses and very tall man-sphinxes and conveyed other stones for repair, extraordinary in their size. And he brought back for himself of those some from the stone-quarries that were by Memphis and some, the oversized, from the city of Elephantine that was even twenty days’ sailing distant from Sais. What then not least of them, but most, I marvel at, is this: a building of one stone he conveyed from the city of Elephantine and that he was conveying for three years and two thousand men were assigned to it as transporters and those were all pilots. That chamber’s length on the outside is twenty one cubits, its breadth fourteen and its height eight. Those are the dimensions on the outside of the chamber, but on the inside is the length of eighteen cubits and a pygon, the breadth of twelve cubits and the height of five cubits. It is situated alongside the shrine’s entrance. For they assert they did not drag it inside, into the shrine, for this reason: the master-builder of it, as the chamber was being dragged, let out a groan, seeing that much time had gone by and he was vexed, and Amasis took it to heart and refused to allow him any longer to drag it. And by now some say that a human being was destroyed under it, one of those who moved it by levers, and after that it was not dragged. Further, Amasis dedicated not only in all the other shrines held in account works in their size worth beholding, but moreover also in Memphis the colossus that lies on its back before the temple of Hephaestus, of which seventy five feet are its length, and on the base itself stand two colossuses that are of Ethiopian stone, each being in its size of twenty feet, the one on one side of and the other on the other side of the large. Also there is another stone one of that large a size in Sais too and it is situated according to the same manner as that in Memphis. In short, Amasis was he who built to completion for Isis the shrine in Memphis that is large and most worth beholding.

In King Amasis’ time Egypt is said quite most then to have been happy, both in respect to what originated from the river for the country and what from the country for the human beings, and the cities in it amounted to in their entirety then two thousand that were settled. And Amasis is the establisher of this law for the Egyptians, that every one of the Egyptians should show forth each year to the district-ruler from what one had one’s livelihood and, if one would not do that and not bring forth to light a just way of living, one should be visited straightly with death. So Solon the Athenian took from Egypt that law and framed it for the Athenians, which they use in each and every occasion, since it is a blameless law. Then, because he had become a philhellene, Amasis showed forth other acts to several of the Greeks and in particular to those who came to Egypt gave the city of Naucratis to settle in and to those of them who wanted not to settle in it and voyaged thither gave places to set up altars and precincts for the gods in. Now, regarding the precinct that is the largest and most named and most useful of them and is called the Greek, these are the cities that set it up jointly: of the Ionians, Chios, Teos, Phocaea and Clazomenae, of the Dorians, Rhodes, Cnidus, Halicarnassus and Phaselis and of the Aeolians, that of the Mytilenians alone. Of those is that precinct and of the chiefs of the mart those cities are the furnishers and all the other cities that pretend to it, although there is no share to them, pretend to it. Separately then the Aeginetans by themselves set up a precinct for Zeus and another the Samians for Hera and the Milesians for Apollo. But anciently Naucratis alone was a mart and no other was in Egypt and, if anyone came to any other of the mouths of the Nile, one had to swear one came unwillingly and, after one had made a denial on oath, with one’s ship and all to sail to the Canobic, or, if at any rate it was impossible to sail against contrary winds, one needed to carry one’s wares in barges round the delta, until one should come to Naucratis. Thus indeed Naucratis was in a position of honor. And when the Amphictyonians had hired themselves to work to completion the temple that is now in Delphi for three hundred talents, since the one that was previously there in that very place accidentally had burned down, to the Delphians indeed it fell to furnish the fourth part of their hire. So the Delphians wandered round the cities and collected gifts and in doing that got not the least portion from Egypt. For Amasis gave them a thousand talents of alum and those Greeks settled in Egypt twenty minae.

With the Cyrenians Amasis made a treaty of friendship and alliance and thought just also to marry from that very place, either because he had conceived a desire for a Greek woman or else maybe for the sake of the Cyrenians’ friendship. So he married then, some say Battus the son of Arcesilaus’ daughter, some say Critobulus an esteemed man among the townsmen’s, whose name was Ladice. Whenever Amasis lay with her, he was unable to have intercourse, but he used all his other wives. And when that became prevalent, Amasis said to her who was called Ladice, “O woman, you drugged me utterly and there is no way to contrive not to perish in the worst way of all women.” Then Ladice, when to her, although she was making denials, Amasis became in no way gentler, vowed in her mind to Aphrodite that, if Amasis had intercourse with her during that night, since that was a remedy for her ill, she would send off an image for her to Cyrene. So after the vow immediately Amasis had intercourse with her. And by then thereafter, whenever he came to her, he had intercourse and loved her very much after that. So Ladice discharged her vow to the goddess; for she had made and sent off an image to Cyrene that was still perserved even to my time, set up outside the Cyrenians’ town. That Ladice, after Cambyses had gained mastery over Egypt and inquired of her who she was, he sent off unharmed to Cyrene.

Amasis dedicated offerings also in Greece, in the first place in Cyrene a gilt image of Athena and a likeness of himself made like by painting, in the second for Athena in Lindos two stone images and a linen breastplate worth beholding and in the third in Samos for Hera two wood likenesses of himself, which were set up in the large temple still even up to my time behind the leaves of the door. Now, in Samos he made a dedication because of the foreign friendship between himself and Polycrates, the son of Aeaces, while in Lindos for no foreign friendship, but because the shrine of Athena in Lindos, it is said, the daughters of Danaus set up, after they had touched there, when they fled from the children of Aegyptus. Those offerings Amasis dedicated and he was the first of human beings to take Cyprus and subject it to tribute payment.

end of Book 2

(to be continued)

Text and photographs Copyright © 1999—2003 Lost Trails
all rights reserved