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I.30‑41

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Library of History

of
Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. I
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1933

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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I.69‑91

(Vol. I) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

(Book I, continued)

p153 42 1 The First Book of Diodorus being divided because of its length into two volumes, the first contains the preface of the whole treatise and the accounts given by the Egyptians of the genesis of the world and the first forming of the universe; then he tells of the gods who founded cities in Egypt and named them after themselves, of the first men and the earliest manner of life, of the honour paid to the immortals and the building of their temples to them, then of the topography of Egypt and the marvels related about the river Nile, and also of the causes of its flooding and the opinions thereupon of the historians and the philosophers as well as the refutation of each writer.1 2 In this volume we shall discuss the topics which come next in order after the foregoing. We shall begin with the first kings of Egypt and set forth their individual deeds down to King Amasis, after we have first described in summary fashion the most ancient manner of life in Egypt.

43 1 As for their means of living in primitive times, the Egyptians, they say, in the earliest period got p155their food from herbs and the stalks and roots of the plants which grew in the marshes, making trial of each one of them by tasting it, and the first one eaten by them and the most favoured was that called Agrostis,2 because it excelled the others in sweetness and supplied sufficient nutriment for the human body; 2 for they observed that this plant was attractive to the cattle and quickly increased their bulk. Because of this fact the natives, in remembrance of the usefulness of this plant, to this day, when approaching the gods, hold some of it in their hands as they pray to them; for they believe that man is a creature of swamp and marsh, basing this conclusion on the smoothness of his skin and his physical constitution, as well as on the fact that he requires a wet rather than a dry diet. 3 A second way by which the Egyptians subsisted was, they say, by the eating of fish, of which the river provided a great abundance, especially at the time when it receded after its flood and dried up.3 4 They also ate the flesh of some of the pasturing animals, using for clothing the skins of the beasts that were eaten, and their dwellings they built out of reeds. And traces of these customs still remain among the herdsmen of Egypt, all of whom, they say, have no other dwelling up to this time than one of reeds, considering that with this they are well enough provided for. 5 After subsisting in this manner over a long period of time they finally turned to the edible fruits of the earth, among which may be included the bread made from the lotus. The discovery of these p157is attributed by some to Isis,4 but by others to one of their early kings called Menas. 6 The priests, however, have the story that the discoverer of the branches of learning and of the arts was Hermes, but that it was their kings who discovered such things as are necessary for existence; and that this was the reason why the kingship in early times was bestowed, not upon the sons of their former rulers, but upon such as conferred the greatest and most numerous benefits upon the peoples, whether it be that the inhabitants in this way sought to provoke their kings to useful service for the benefit of all, or that they have in very truth received an account to this effect in their sacred writings.

44 1 Some of them give the story that at first gods and heroes ruled Egypt for a little less than eighteen thousand years, the last of the gods to rule being Horus, the son of Isis; and mortals have been kings over their country, they say, for a little less than five thousand years down to the One Hundred and Eightieth Olympiad, the time when we visited Egypt and the king was Ptolemy, who took the name of The New Dionysus.5 2 For most of this period the rule was held by native kings, and for a small part of it by Ethiopians, Persians, and Macedonians.6 Near four Ethiopians held the throne, not consecutively but with intervals between, for a little less than thirty-six years in all; 3 and the Persians, after their king Cambyses had subdued the nation by arms, ruled for one hundred and thirty-five years, including the p159periods of revolt on the part of the Egyptians which they raised because they were unable to endure the harshness of their dominion and their lack of respect for the native gods. 4 Last of all the Macedonians and their dynasty held rule for two hundred and seventy-six years. For the rest of the time all the kings of the land were natives, four hundred and seventy of them being men and five women. About all of them the priests had records which were regularly handed down in their sacred books to each successive priest from early times, giving the stature of each of the former kings, a description of his character, and what he had done during his reign; as for us, however, it would be a long task to write of each of them severally, and superfluous also, seeing that most of the material included is of no profit. 5 Consequently we shall undertake to recount briefly only the most important of the facts which deserve a place in history.

45 1 After the gods the first king of Egypt, according to the priests, was Menas, who taught the people to worship gods and offer sacrifices, and also to supply themselves with tables and couches and to use costly bedding, and, in a word, introduced luxury and an extravagant manner of life. 2 For this reason when, many generations later, Tnephachthus,7 the father of Bocchoris the wise, was king and, while on a campaign in Arabia, ran short of supplies because the country was desert and rough, we are told that he was obliged to go without food for one day and then to live on quite simple fare at the home of some ordinary folk in private station, and that he, enjoying p161the experience exceedingly, denounced luxury and pronounced a curse on the king who had first taught the people their extravagant way of living; and so deeply did he take to heart the change which had taken place in the people's habits of eating, drinking, and sleeping, that he inscribed his curse in hieroglyphs on the temple of Zeus in Thebes; and this, in fact, appears to be the chief reason why the fame of Menas and his honours did not persist into later ages. 3 And it is said that the descendants of this king, fifty-two in number all told, ruled in unbroken succession more than a thousand and forty years, but that in their reigns nothing occurred that was worthy of record.

4 Subsequently, when Busiris became king and his descendants in turn, eight in name, the last of the line, who bore the same name as the first, founded, they say, the city which the Egyptians call Diospolis8 the Great, though the Greeks call it Thebes. Now the circuit of it he made one hundred and forty stades, and he adorned it in marvellous fashion with great buildings and remarkable temples and dedicatory monuments of every other kind; 5 in the same way he caused the houses of private citizens to be constructed in some cases four stories high, in others five, and in general made it the most prosperous city, not only of Egypt, but of the whole world. 6 And since, by reason of the city's pre-eminent wealth and power, its fame has been spread abroad to every p163region, even the poet, we are told, has mentioned it when he says:9

Nay, not for all the wealth

Of Thebes in Egypt, where in ev'ry hall

There lieth treasure vast; a hundred are

Her gates, and warriors by each issue forth

Two hundred, each of them with car and steeds.

7 Some, however, tell us that it was not one hundred "gates" (pulai) which the city had, but rather many great propylaea in front of its temples, and that it was from these that the title "hundred-gated" was given it, that is, "having many gateways." Yet twenty thousand chariots did in truth, we are told, pass out from it to war; for there were once scattered along the river from Memphis to the Thebes which is over against Libya one hundred post-stations,10 each one having accommodation for two hundred horses, whose foundations are pointed out even to this day.

46 1 Not only this king, we have been informed, but also many of the later rulers devoted their attention to the development of the city. For no city under the sun has ever been so adorned by votive offerings, made of silver and gold and ivory, in such number and of such size, by such a multitude of colossal statues, and, finally, by obelisks made of single blocks of stone. 2 Of four temples erected there the oldest11 is a source of wonder for both its beauty and size, having a circuit of thirteen stades, a height of p165forty-five cubits, and walls twenty-four feet thick. 3 In keeping with this magnificence was also the embellishment of the votive offerings within the circuit wall, marvellous for the money spent upon it and exquisitely wrought as to workmanship. 4 Now the buildings of the temple survived down to rather recent times, but the silver and gold and costly works of ivory and rare stone were carried off by the Persians when Cambyses burned the temples of Egypt;12 and it was at this time, they say, that the Persians, by transferring all this wealth to Asia and taking artisans along from Egypt, constructed their famous palaces in Persepolis and Susa and throughout Media. 5 So great was the wealth of Egypt at that period, they declare, that from the remnants left in the course of the sack and after the burning the treasure which was collected little by little was found to be worth more than three hundred talents of gold and no less than two thousand three hundred talents of silver. 6 There are also in this city, they say, remarkable tombs of the early kings and of their successors, which leave to those who aspire to similar magnificence no opportunity to outdo them.

7 Now the priests said that in their records they find forty-seven tombs of kings; but down to the time of Ptolemy son of Lagus, they say, only fifteen remained, most of which had been destroyed at the time we visited those regions, in the One Hundred and Eightieth Olympiad. 8 Not only do the priests of p167Egypt give these facts from their records, but many also of the Greeks who visited Thebes in the time of Ptolemy son of Lagus and composed histories of Egypt, one of whom was Hecataeus,13 agree with what we have said.

47 1 Ten stades from the first tombs, he says, in which, according to tradition, are buried the concubines of Zeus, stands a monument of the king known as Osymandyas.14 At its entrance there is a pylon, constructed of variegated stone, two plethra in breadth and forty-five cubits high; 2 passing through this one enters a rectangular peristyle, built of stone, four plethra long on each side; it is supported, in place of pillars, by monolithic figures sixteen cubits high, wrought in the ancient manner as to shape;15 and the entire ceiling, which is two fathoms wide, consists of a single stone, which is highly decorated with stars on a blue field. Beyond this peristyle there is yet another entrance and pylon, in every respect like the one mentioned before, save that it is more richly wrought with every manner of relief; 3 beside the entrance are three statues, each of a single block of black stone from Syene, of which one, that p169is seated, is the largest of any in Egypt,16 the foot measuring over seven cubits, while the other two at the knees of this, the one on the right and the other on the left, daughter and mother respectively, are smaller than the one first mentioned. 4 And it is not merely for its size that this work merits approbation, but it is also marvellous by reason of its artistic quality and excellent because of the nature of the stone, since in a block of so great a size there is not a single crack or blemish to be seen. The inscription upon it runs: "King of Kings am I, Osymandyas. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works." 5 There is also another statue of his mother standing alone, a monolith twenty cubits high, and it has three diadems on its head, signifying that she was both daughter and wife and mother of a king.

6 Beyond the pylon, he says, there is a peristyle more remarkable than the former one; in it there are all manner of reliefs depicting the war which the king waged against those Bactrians who had revolted; against these he had made a campaign with four hundred thousand foot-soldiers and twenty thousand cavalry, the whole army having been divided into four divisions, all of which were under the command of sons of the king.17

48 1 On the first wall the king, he says, is represented in the act of besieging a walled city which is surrounded by a river, and of leading the attack against p171opposing troops; he is accompanied by a lion, which is aiding him with terrifying effect. Of those who have explained the scene some have said that in very truth a tame lion which the king kept accompanied him in the perils of battle and put the enemy to rout by his fierce onset; but others have maintained that the king, who was exceedingly brave and desirous of praising himself in a vulgar way, was trying to portray his own bold spirit in the figure of a lion.18 2 On the second wall, he adds, are wrought the captives as they are being led away by the king; they are without their privates and their hands, which apparently signifies that they were effeminate in spirit and had no hands when it came to the dread business of warfare.19 3 The third wall carries every manner of relief and excellent paintings, which portray the king performing a sacrifice of oxen and celebrating a triumph after the war. 4 In the centre of the peristyle there had been constructed of the most beautiful stone an altar, open to the sky, both excellent in its workmanship and marvellous because of its size. 5 By the last wall are two monolithic seated statues, twenty-seven cubits high, beside which are set three entrances from the peristyle; and by way of these entrances one comes into a hall whose roof was supported by pillars, constructed in the style of an Odeum,20 and measuring two plethra on each side. 6 In this hall there are many wooden statues representing parties p173in litigation, whose eyes are fixed upon the judges who decide their cases; and these, in turn, are shown in relief on one of the walls, to the number of thirty and without any hands,21 and in their midst the chief justice, with a figure of Truth hanging from his neck and holding his eyes closed, and at his side a great number of books. And these figures show by their attitude that the judges shall receive no gift and that the chief justice shall have his eyes upon the truth alone.22

49 1 Next to these courts, he says, is an ambulatory crowded with buildings of every kind, in which there are representations of the foods that are sweetest to the taste, of every variety. 2 Here are to be found reliefs in which the king, adorned in colours, is represented as offering to the god the gold and silver which he received each year from the silver and gold mines of all Egypt; and an inscription below gives also the total amount, which, summed up according to its value in silver, is thirty-two million minas. 3 Next comes the sacred library, which bears the inscription "Healing-place of the Soul," and contiguous to this building are statues of all the gods of Egypt, to each of whom the king in like manner makes the offering appropriate to him, as though he were submitting proof before Osiris and his assessors p175in the underworld that to the end of his days he had lived a life of piety and justice towards both men and gods. 4 Next to the library and separated from it by a party wall is an exquisitely constructed hall, which contains a table with couches for twenty and statues of Zeus and Hera as well as of the king; here, it would seem, the body of the king is also buried. 5 In a circle about this building are many chambers which contain excellent paintings of all the animals which are held sacred in Egypt. There is an ascent leading through these chambers to the tomb as a whole. At the top of this ascent there is a circular border of gold crowning the monument, three hundred and sixty-five cubits in circumference and one cubit thick;23 upon this the days of the year are inscribed, one in each cubit of length, and by each day the risings and settings of the stars as nature ordains them and the signs indicating the effects which the Egyptian astrologers hold that they produce.24 This border, they said, had been plundered by Cambyses and the Persians when he conquered Egypt.

6 Such, they say, was the tomb of Osymandyas the king, which is considered far to have excelled all others, not only in the amount of money lavished upon it, but also in the ingenuity shown by the artificers.

50 1 The Thebans say that they are the earliest of all men and the first people among whom philosophy25 p177and the exact science of the stars were discovered, since their country enables them to observe more distinctly than others the rising and settings of the stars. 2 Peculiar to them also is their ordering of the months and years. For they do not reckon the days by the moon, but by the sun, making their month of thirty days, and they add five and a quarter days26 to the twelve months and in this way fill out the cycle of the year. But they do not intercalate months or subtract days, as most of the Greeks do. They appear to have made careful observations of the eclipses both of the sun and of the moon, and predict them, foretelling without error all the events which actually occur.

3 Of the descendants of this king, the eighth, known as Uchoreus, founded Memphis, the most renowned city of Egypt. For he chose the most favourable spot in all the land, where the Nile divides into several branches to form the "Delta," as it is called from its shape; and the result was that the city, excellently situated as it was at the gates of the Delta, continually controlled the commerce passing into upper Egypt. 4 Now he gave the city a circumference of one hundred and fifty stades, and made it p179remarkably strong and adapted to its purpose by works of the following nature. 5 Since the Nile flowed around the city and covered it at the time of inundation, he threw out a huge mound of earth on the south to serve as a barrier against the swelling of the river and also as a citadel against the attacks of enemies by land; and all around the other sides he dug a large and deep lake, which, by taking up the force of the river and occupying all the space about the city except where the mound had been thrown up, gave it remarkable strength. 6 And so happily did the founder of the city reckon upon the suitableness of the site that practically all subsequent kings left Thebes and established both their palaces and official residences here. Consequently from this time Thebes began to wane and Memphis to increase,27 until the time of Alexander the king; for after he had founded the city on the sea which bears his name, all the kings of Egypt after him concentrated their interest on the development of it. 7 Some adorned it with magnificent palaces, some with docks and harbours, and others with further notable dedications and buildings, to such an extent that it is generally reckoned the first or second city of the inhabited world. But a detailed description of this city we shall set forth in the appropriate period.28

51 1 The founder of Memphis, after constructing the mound and the lake, erected a palace, which, while not inferior to those of other nations, yet was p181no match for the grandeur of design and love of the beautiful shown by the kings who preceded him. 2 For the inhabitants of Egypt consider the period of this life to be of no account whatever, but place the greatest value on the time after death when they will be remembered for their virtue, and while they give the name of "lodgings" to the dwellings of the living, thus intimating that we dwell in them but a brief time, they call the tombs of the dead "eternal homes," since the dead spend endless eternity in Hades; consequently they give less thought to the furnishings of their houses, but on the manner of their burials they do not forgo any excess of zeal.

3 The aforementioned city was named, according to some, after the daughter of the king who founded it. They tell the story that she was loved by the river Nile, who had assumed the form of a bull, and gave birth to Egyptus, a man famous among the natives for his virtue, from whom the entire land received its name. 4 For upon succeeding to the throne he showed himself to be a kindly king, just, and, in a word, upright in all matters and so, since he was held by all to merit great approbation because of his goodwill, he received the honour mentioned.

5 Twelve generations after the king just named, Moeris succeeded to the throne of Egypt and built in Memphis itself the north propylaea, which far surpasses the others in magnificence, while ten schoeni29 above the city he excavated a lake which was remarkable for its utility and an undertaking of p183incredible magnitude.30 6 For its circumference, they say, is three thousand six hundred stades and its depth in most parts fifty fathoms; what man, accordingly, in trying to estimate the magnitude of the work, would not reasonably inquire how many myriads of men labouring for how many years were required for its completion? 7 And as for the utility of this lake and its contribution to the welfare of all the inhabitants of Egypt, as well as for the ingenuity of the king, no man may praise them highly enough to do justice to the truth.

52 1 For since the Nile did not rise to a fixed height every year and yet the fruitfulness of the country depended on the constancy of the flood-level, he excavated the lake to receive the excess water, in order that the river might not, by an excessive volume of flow, immoderately flood the land and form marshes and pools, nor, by failing to rise to the proper height, ruin the harvests by the lack of water. 2 He also dug a canal, eighty stades long and three plethra wide,31 from the river to the lake, and by this canal, sometimes turning the river into the lake and sometimes shutting it off again, he furnished the farmers with an opportune supply of water, opening and closing the entrance by a skilful device and yet at considerable expense; for it cost no less than fifty talents if a man wanted to open or close this work. 3 The lake has continued to serve well the needs of the Egyptians down to our time, and bears p185the name of its builder, being called to this day the Lake of Moeris. 4 Now the king in excavating it left a spot in the centre, where he built a tomb and two pyramids, a stade in height, one for himself and the other for his wife, on the tops of which he placed stone statues seated upon thrones, thinking that by these monuments he would leave behind him an imperishable commemoration of his good deeds. 5 The income accruing from the fish taken from the lake he gave to his wife for her unguents and general embellishment, the value of the catch amounting to a talent of silver daily;32 6 for there are twenty-two different kinds of fish in the lake, they say, and they are caught in such abundance that the people engaged in salting them, though exceedingly many, can scarcely keep up with their task.

Now this is the account which the Egyptians give of Moeris.

53 1 Sesoösis,33 they say, who became king seven generations later, performed more renowned and greater deeds than did any of his predecessors. And since, with regard to this king, not only are the Greek writers at variance with one another but also p187among the Egyptians the priests and the poets who sing his praises give conflicting stories, we for our part shall endeavour to give the most probable account and that which most nearly agrees with the monuments still standing in the land. 2 Now at the birth of Sesoösis his father did a thing worthy of a great man and a king: Gathering together from over all Egypt the male children which had been born on the same day and assigning them nurses and guardians, he prescribed the same training and education for them all, on the theory that those who had been reared in the closest companionship and had enjoyed the same frank relationship would be most loyal and as fellow-combatants in the wars most brave. 3 He amply provided for their every need and then trained the youths by unremitting exercises and hardships; for no one of them was allowed to have anything to eat unless he had first run one hundred and eighty stades.34 4 Consequently upon attaining to manhood they were all veritable athletes of robustness of body, and in spirit qualified for leadership and endurance because of the training which they had received in the most excellent pursuits.

5 First of all Sesoösis, his companions also accompanying him, was sent by his father with an army into Arabia, where he was subjected to the laborious training of hunting wild animals and, after hardening himself to the privations of thirst and hunger, conquered the entire nation of the Arabs, which had never been enslaved before his day; 6 and then, on being sent to the regions to the west, he subdued the p189larger part of Libya, though in years still no more than a youth. 7 And when he ascended the throne upon the death of his father, being filled with confidence by reason of his earlier exploits he undertook to conquer the inhabited earth. 8 There are those who say that he was urged to acquire empire over the whole world by his own daughter Athyrtis, who, according to some, was far more intelligent than any of her day and showed her father that the campaign would be an easy one, while according to others she had the gift of prophecy and knew beforehand, by means both of sacrifices and the practice of sleeping in temples,35 as well as from the signs which appear in the heavens, what would take place in the future. 9 Some have also written that, at the birth of Sesoösis, his father had thought that Hephaestus had appeared to him in a dream and told him that the son who had been born would rule over the whole civilized world; 10 and that for this reason, therefore, his father collected the children of the same age as his son and granted them a royal training, thus preparing them beforehand for an attack upon the whole world, and that his son, upon attaining manhood, trusting in the prediction of the god was led to undertake this campaign.

54 1 In preparation for this undertaking he first of all confirmed the goodwill of all the Egyptians towards himself, feeling it to be necessary, if he were to bring his plan to a successful end, that his soldiers on the campaign should be ready to die for their leaders, and that those left behind in their native p191lands should not rise in revolt. 2 He therefore showed kindnesses to everyone by all means at his disposal, winning over some by presents of money, others by gifts of land, and others by remission of penalties, and the entire people he attached to himself by his friendly intercourse and kindly ways; for he set free unharmed everyone who was held for some crime against the king and cancelled the obligations of those who were in prison for debt, there being a great multitude in the gaols. 3 And dividing the entire land into thirty-six parts which the Egyptians call nomes, he set over each a nomarch, who should superintend the collection of the royal revenues and administer all the affairs of his division. 4 He then chose out the strongest of the men and formed an army worthy of the greatness of his undertaking; for he enlisted six hundred thousand foot-soldiers, twenty-four thousand cavalry, and twenty-seven thousand war chariots. 5 In command of the several divisions of his troops he set his companions, who were by this time inured to warfare, had striven for a reputation for valour from their youth, and cherished with a brotherly love both their king and one another, the number of them being over seventeen hundred. 6 And upon all these commanders he bestowed allotments of the best land in Egypt, in order that, enjoying sufficient income and lacking nothing, they might sedulously practise the art of war.

55 1 After he had made ready his army he marched first of all against the Ethiopians who dwell south of Egypt, and after conquering them he forced that people to pay a tribute in ebony, gold and the p193tusks of elephants. 2 Then he sent out a fleet of four hundred ships into the Red Sea,36 being the first Egyptian to build warships, and not only took possession of the islands in those waters, but also subdued the coast of the mainland as far as India, while he himself made his way by land with his army and subdued all Asia. 3 Not only did he, in fact, visit the territory which was afterwards won by Alexander of Macedon, but also certain peoples into whose country Alexander did not cross. 4 For he even passed over the river Ganges and visited all of India as far as the ocean, as well as the tribes of the Scythians as far as the river Tanaïs, which divides Europe from Asia; and it was at this time, they say, that some of the Egyptians, having been left behind near the Lake Maeotis, founded the nation of the Colchi.37 5 And the proof which they offer of the Egyptian origin of this nation is the fact that the Colchi practise circumcision even as the Egyptians do, the custom continuing among the colonists sent out from Egypt as it also did in the case of the Jews.

6 In the same way he brought all the rest of Asia into subjection as well as most of the Cyclades islands. And after he had crossed into Europe and was on his way through the whole length of Thrace he nearly lost his army through lack of food and the difficult nature of the land. 7 Consequently he fixed the limits of his expedition in Thrace, and set up stelae in many parts of the regions which he had acquired; and these carried the following inscription in the Egyptian p195writing which is called "sacred": "This land the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Sesoösis, subdued with his own arms." 8 And he fashioned the stele with a representation, in case the enemy people were warlike, of the privy parts of a man, but in case they were abject and cowardly, of those of a woman, holding that the quality of the spirit of each people would be set forth most clearly to succeeding generations by the dominant member of the body.38 9 And in some places he also erected a stone statue of himself, armed with bow and arrows and a spear, in height four cubits and four palms, which was indeed his own stature.39 10 He dealt gently with all conquered peoples and, after concluding his campaign in nine years, commanded the nations to bring presents each year to Egypt according to their ability, while he himself, assembling a multitude of captives which has never been surpassed and a mass of other booty, returned to his country, having accomplished the greatest deeds of any king of Egypt to his day. 11 All the temples of Egypt, moreover, he adorned with notable votive offerings and spoils, and honoured with gifts according to his merits every soldier who had distinguished himself for bravery. 12 And in general, as a result of this campaign not only did the army, which had bravely shared in the deeds of the king and had gathered great wealth, make a brilliant homeward journey, but it also came to pass that all Egypt was filled to overflowing with benefits of every kind.

p197 56 1 Sesoösis now relieved his peoples of the labours of war and granted to the comrades who had bravely shared in his deeds a care-free life in the enjoyment of the good things which they had won, while he himself, being ambitious for glory and intent upon everlasting fame, constructed works which were great and marvellous in their conception as well as in the lavishness with which their cost was provided, winning in this way immortal glory for himself and for the Egyptians security combined with ease for all time. 2 For beginning with the gods first, he built in each city of Egypt a temple to the god who was held in special reverence by its inhabitants.40 On these labours he used no Egyptians, but constructed them all by the hands of his captives alone; and for this reason he placed an inscription on every temple that no native had toiled upon it. 3 And it is said that the captives brought from Babylonia revolted from the king, being unable to endure the hardships entailed by his works; and they, seizing a strong position on the banks of the river, maintained a warfare against the Egyptians and ravaged the neighbouring territory, but finally, on being granted an amnesty, they established a colony on the spot, which they also named Babylon after their native land. 4 For a similar reason, they say, the city of Troy likewise, which even to this day exists on the bank of the Nile, received its name:41 for Menelaus, on his voyage from Ilium with a great p199number of captives, crossed over into Egypt; and the Trojans, revolting from him, seized a certain place and maintained a warfare until he granted them safety and freedom, whereupon they founded a city, to which they gave the name of their native land. 5 I am not unaware that regarding the cities named above Ctesias of Cnidus has given a different account, saying that some of those who had come into Egypt with Semiramis founded them, calling them after their native lands.42 6 But on such matters as these it is not easy to set forth the precise truth, and yet the disagreements among historians must be considered worthy of record, in order that the reader may be able to decide upon the truth without prejudice.

57 1 Now Sesoösis threw up many great mounds of earth and moved to them such cities as happened to be situated on ground that was not naturally elevated, in order that at the time of the flooding of the river both the inhabitants and their herds might have a safe place of retreat. 2 And over the entire land from Memphis to the sea he dug frequent canals leading from the river, his purpose being that the people might carry out the harvesting of their crops quickly and easily, and that, through the constant intercourse of the peasants with one another, every district might enjoy both an easy livelihood and a great abundance of all things which minister to man's enjoyment. The greatest result of this work, however, was that he made the country secure and difficult of access against attacks by enemies; 3 for practically all the best part of Egypt, which p201before this time had been easy of passage for horses and carts, has from that time on been very difficult for an enemy to invade by reason of the great number of canals leading from the river. 4 He also fortified with a wall the side of Egypt which faces east, as a defence against inroads from Syria and Arabia; the wall extended through the desert from Pelusium to Heliopolis, and its length was some fifteen hundred stades. 5 Moreover, he also built a ship of cedar wood, which was two hundred and eighty cubits long and plated on the exterior with gold and on the interior with silver. This ship he presented as a votive offering to the god who is held in special reverence in Thebes, as well as two obelisks of hard stone one hundred and twenty cubits high, upon which he inscribed the magnitude of his army, the multitude of his revenues, and the number of the peoples he had subdued; also in Memphis in the temples of Hephaestus he dedicated monolithic statues of himself and of his wife, thirty cubits high,43 and of his sons, twenty cubits high, the occasion of their erection being as follows. 6 When Sesoösis had returned to Egypt after his great campaign and was tarrying at Pelusium, his brother, who was entertaining Sesoösis and his wife and children, plotted against them; for when they had fallen asleep after the drinking he piled great quantities of dry rushes, which he had kept in readiness for some time, around the tent in the night and p203set them afire. 7 When the fire suddenly blazed up, those who had been assigned to wait upon the king came to his aid in a churlish fashion, as would men heavy with wine, but Sesoösis, raising both hands to the heavens with a prayer to the gods for the preservation of his children and wife, dashed out safe through the flames. 8 For this unexpected escape he honoured the rest of the gods with votive offerings, as stated above, and Hephaestus most of all, on the ground that it was by his intervention that he had been saved.

58 1 Although many great deeds have been credited to Sesoösis, his magnificence seems best to have been shown in the treatment which he accorded to the foreign potentates when he went forth from his palace. 2 The kings whom he had allowed to continue their rule over the peoples which he had subdued and all others who had received from him the most important positions of command would present themselves in Egypt at specified times, bringing him gifts, and the king would welcome them and in all other matters show them honour and special preferment; but whenever he intended to visit a temple or city he would remove the horses from his four-horse chariot and in their place yoke the kings and other potentates, taking them four at a time, in this way showing to all men, as he thought, that, having conquered the mightiest of other kings and those most renowned for their excellence, he now had no one who could compete with him for the prize of excellence. 3 This king is thought to have surpassed all former rulers in power and military exploits, and also in the magnitude and number of the votive offerings and public works which he built in Egypt. And after a reign of thirty-three years p205he deliberately took his own life, his eyesight having failed him; and this act won for him the admiration not only of the priests of Egypt but of the other inhabitants as well, for it was thought that he had caused the end of his life to comport with the loftiness of spirit shown in his achievements.

4 So great became the fame of this king and so enduring through the ages that when, many generations later, Egypt fell under the power of the Persians and Darius, the father of Xerxes, was bent upon placing a statue of himself in Memphis before that of Sesoösis, the chief priest opposed it in a speech which he made in an assembly of the priests, to the effect that Darius had not yet surpassed the deeds of Sesoösis; and the king was far from being angered, but, on the contrary, being pleased at his frankness of speech, said that he would strive not to be found behind that ruler in any point when he had attained his years, and asked them to base their judgment upon the deeds of each at the same age, for that was the fairest test of their excellence.

5 As regards Sesoösis, then, we shall rest content with what has been said.

59 1 But his son, succeeding to the throne and assuming his father's appellation, did not accomplish a single thing in war or otherwise worthy of mention, though he did have a singular experience.44 2 He lost his sight, either because he shared in his father's bodily constitution or, as some fictitiously relate, because of his impiety towards the river, since once when caught in a storm upon it he had p207hurled a spear into the rushing current. Forced by this ill fortune to turn to the gods for aid, he strove over a long period to propitiate the deity by numerous sacrifices and honours, but received no consideration. 3 But in the tenth year an oracular command was given to him to do honour to the god in Heliopolis and bathe his face in the urine of a woman who had never known any other man than her husband. Thereupon he began with his own wife and made trial of many, but found not one that was chaste save a certain gardener's wife, whom he married as soon as he was recovered. All the other women he burned alive in a certain village to which the Egyptians because of this incident gave the name Holy Field; 4 and to the god in Heliopolis, out of gratitude for his benefaction, he dedicated, in accordance with the injunction of the oracle, two monolithic obelisks,45 eight cubits wide and one hundred high.

60 1 After this king a long line of successors on the throne accomplished no deed worth recording. But Amasis, who became king many generations later, ruled the masses of the people with great harshness; many he punished unjustly, great numbers he deprived of their possessions, and towards all his conduct was without exception contemptuous and arrogant. 2 Now for a time his victims bore up under this, being unable in any way to protect themselves against those of greater power; but when Actisanes,46 the king of the Ethiopians, led an army against Amasis, their hatred seized the opportunity p209and most of the Egyptians revolted. 3 As a consequence, since he was easily overcome, Egypt fell under the rule of the Ethiopians. But Actisanes carried his good fortune as a man should and conducted himself in a kindly manner towards his subjects. 4 For instance, he had his own manner of dealing with thieves, neither putting to death such as were liable to that punishment, nor letting them go with no punishment at all; 5 for after he had gathered together out of the whole land those who were charged with some crime and had held a thoroughly fair examination of their cases, he took all who had been judged guilty, and, cutting off their noses, settled them in a colony on the edge of the desert, founding the city which was called Rhinocolura47 after the lot of its inhabitants.

6 This city, which lies on the border between Egypt and Syria not far from the sea-coast, is wanting in practically everything which is necessary for man's existence; 7 for it is surrounded by land which is full of brine, while within the walls there is but a small supply of water from wells, and this is impure and very bitter to the taste. 8 But he settled them in this country in order that, in case they continued to practise their original manner of life, they might not prey upon innocent people, and also that they might not pass unrecognized as they mingled with the rest of mankind. 9 And yet, despite the fact that they had been cast out into a desert country which lacked practically every useful thing, they contrived a way of living appropriate to the dearth about them, since nature forced them to devise p211every possible means to combat their destitution. 10 For instance, by cutting down reeds in the neighbourhood and splitting them, they made long nets, which they set up along the beach for a distance of many stades and hunted quails; for these are driven in large coveys from the open sea, and in hunting them they caught a sufficient number to provide themselves with food.

61 1 After the death of this king the Egyptians regained the control of their government and placed on the throne a native king, Mendes, whom some call Marrus. 2 So far as war is concerned this ruler did not accomplish anything at all, but he did build himself a tomb known as the Labyrinth,48 which was not so remarkable for its size as it was impossible to imitate in respect to its ingenious design; for a man who enters it cannot easily find his way out, unless he gets a guide who is thoroughly acquainted with the structure. 3 And some say that Daedalus, visiting Egypt and admiring the skill shown in the building, also constructed for Minos, the king of Crete, a labyrinth like the one in Egypt, in which was kept, as the myth relates, the beast called Minotaur. 4 However, the labyrinth in Crete has entirely disappeared, whether it be that some ruler razed it to the ground or that time effaced the work, but the one in Egypt has stood intact in its entire structure down to our lifetime.

62 1 After the death of this king there were no rulers for five generations, and then a man of obscure p213origin was chosen king, whom the Egyptians call Cetes, but who among the Greeks is thought to be that Proteus49 who lived at the time of the war about Ilium. 2 Some tradition records that this Proteus was experienced in the knowledge of the winds and that he would change his body, sometimes into the form of different animals, sometimes into a tree or fire or something else, and it so happens that the account which the priests give of Cetes is in agreement with that tradition. 3 For, according to the priests, from the close association which the king constantly maintained with the astrologers, he had gained experience in such matters, and from a custom which has been passed down among the kings of Egypt has arisen the myths current among the Greeks about the way Proteus changed his shape. 4 For it was a practice among the rulers of Egypt to wear upon their heads the forepart of a lion, or bull, or snake as symbols of their rule; at times also trees or fire, and in some cases they even carried on their heads large bunches of fragrant herbs for incense, these last serving to enhance their comeliness and at the same time to fill all other men with fear and religious awe.50

5 On the death of Proteus his son Remphis51 succeeded to the throne. This ruler spent his whole life looking after the revenues and amassing riches from every source, and because of his niggardly and miserly character spent nothing either on votive offerings to the gods or on benefactions to the inhabitants. p2156 Consequently, since he had been not so much a king as only an efficient steward, in the place of a fame based upon virtue he left a treasure larger than that of any king before him; for according to tradition he amassed some four hundred thousand talents of silver and gold.

63 1 After Remphis died, kings succeeded to the throne for seven generations who were confirmed sluggards and devoted only to indulgence and luxury. Consequently, in the priestly records, no costly building of theirs nor any deed worthy of historical record is handed down in connection with them, except in the case of one ruler, Nileus, from whom the river came to be named the Nile, though formerly called Aegyptus. This ruler constructed a very great number of canals at opportune places and in many ways showed himself eager to increase the usefulness of the Nile, and therefore became the cause of the present appellation of the river.

2 The eighth king, Chemmis52 of Memphis, ruled fifty years and constructed the largest of the three pyramids, which are numbered among the seven wonders of the world. 3 These pyramids, which are situated on the side of Egypt which is towards Libya, are one hundred and twenty stades from Memphis and forty-five from the Nile, and by the immensity of their structures and the skill shown in their execution they fill the beholder with wonder and astonishment. 4 For the largest is in the form of a square and p217has a base length on each side of seven plethra and a height of over six plethra; it also gradually tapers to the top, where each side is six cubits long.53 5 The entire construction is of hard stone, which is difficult to work but lasts for ever; for though no fewer than a thousand years have elapsed, as they say, to our lifetime, or, as some writers have it, more than three thousand four hundred, the stones remain to this day still preserving their original position and the entire structure undecayed. 6 It is said that the stone was conveyed over a great distance from Arabia54 and that the construction was effected by means of mounds, since cranes had not yet been invented at that time; 7 and the most remarkable thing in the account is that, though the constructions were on such a great scale and the country round about them consists of nothing but sand, not a trace remains either of any mound or of the dressing of the stones, so that they do not have the appearance of being the slow handiwork of men but look like a sudden creation, as though they had been made by some god and set down bodily in the surrounding sand. 8 Certain Egyptians would make a marvel out of these things, saying that, inasmuch as the mounds were built of salt and saltpetre, when the river was let in it melted them down and completely effaced them without the intervention of man's hand. 9 However, there is not a p219word of truth in this, but the entire material for the mounds, raised as they were by the labour of many hands, was returned by the same means to the place from which it came; for three hundred and sixty thousand men, as they say, were employed on the undertaking, and the whole structure was scarcely completed in twenty years.55

The Pyramids of Gizeh and the Sphinx.

Diodorus' measurements can be checked, more or less. Although there were several slightly different stadia, 180 meters can be taken as an approximate value, with six plethra to a stade. Assuming Google's scale to be accurate and the text of Diodorus followed by the Loeb editors to have been transmitted without error and not tampered with by modern scholars to conform to what we now know to be the facts — two big if's — his figures are very accurate; maybe slightly low.

[and if you need it, here's help in using the map,
including my own symbols & added information.]

64 1 Upon the death of this king his brother Cephren56 succeeded to the throne and ruled fifty-six years; but some say that it was not the brother of Chemmis, but his son, named Chabryes, who took the throne. 2 All writers, however, agree that it was the next ruler who, emulating the example of his predecessor, built the second pyramid, which was the equal of the one just mentioned in the skill displayed in its execution but far behind it in size, since its base length on each side is only a stade.57 3 And an inscription on the larger pyramid gives the sum of money expended on it, since the writing sets forth that on vegetables and purgatives for the workmen there were paid out over sixteen hundred talents. 4 The smaller bears no inscription but has steps cut into one side. And though the two kings built the pyramids to serve as their tombs, in the event neither of them was buried in them; 5 for the multitudes, because of the hardships which they had endured in the building of them and the many cruel and violent acts of these kings, were filled with anger against those who had caused their sufferings and openly threatened to tear p221their bodies asunder and cast them in despite out of the tombs. 6 Consequently each ruler when dying enjoined upon his kinsmen to bury his body secretly in an unmarked place.58

After these rulers Mycerinus,59 to whom some give the name Mencherinus, a son of the builder of the first pyramid, became king. 7 He undertook the construction of a third pyramid, but died before the entire structure had been completed. The base length of each side he made three plethra, and for fifteen courses he built the walls of black stone60 like that found about Thebes, but the rest of it he filled out with stone like that found in the other pyramids. 8 In size this structure falls behind those mentioned above, but far surpasses them in the skill displayed in its execution and the great cost of the stone; and on the north side of the pyramid is an inscription stating that its builder was Mycerinus. 9 This ruler, they say, out of indignation at the cruelty of his predecessors aspired to live an honourable life and one devoted to the welfare of his subjects; and he continually did many other things which might best help to evoke the goodwill of the people towards himself, and more especially, when he gave audiences, he spent a great amount of money, giving presents to such honest men as he thought had not fared in the courts of law as they deserved.

10 There are also three more pyramids, each of which is one plethrum long on each side and in general p223construction is like the others save in size; and these pyramids, they say, were built by the three kings named above for their wives.

11 It is generally agreed that these monuments far surpass all other constructions in Egypt, not only in their massiveness and cost but also in the skill displayed by their builders. 12 And they say that the architects of the monuments are more deserving of admiration than the kings who furnished the means for their execution; for in bringing their plans to completion the former called upon their individual souls and their zeal for honour, but the latter only used the wealth which they had inherited and the grievous toil of other men. 13 But with regard to the pyramids there is no complete agreement among either the inhabitants of the country or the historians; for according to some the kings mentioned above were the builders, according to others they were different kings; for instance, it is said that Armaeus built the largest, Amosis the second, and Inaros the third. 14 And this last pyramid, some say, is the tomb of the courtesan Rhodopis,61 for some of the nomarchs62 became her lovers, as the account goes, and out of their passion for her carried the building through to completion as a joint undertaking.

65 1 After the kings mentioned above Bocchoris63 p225succeeded to the throne, a man who was altogether contemptible in personal appearance but in sagacity far surpassed all former kings. 2 Much later Egypt was ruled by Sabaco,64 who was by birth an Ethiopian and yet in piety and uprightness far surpassed his predecessors. 3 A proof of his goodness may be found in his abolition of the severest one of the customary penalties (I refer to the taking of life); 4 for instead of executing the condemned he put them in chains at forced labour for the cities, and by their services constructed many dykes and dug out not a few well-placed canals; for he held that in this way he had reduced for those who were being chastised the severity of their punishment, while for the cities he had procured, in exchange for useless penalties, something of great utility. 5 And the excessiveness of his piety may be inferred from a vision which he had in a dream and his consequent abdication of the throne. 6 For he thought that the god of Thebes told him while he slept that he would not be able to reign over Egypt in happiness or for any great length of time, unless he should cut the bodies of all the priests in twain and accompanied by his retinue pass through the very midst of them.65 7 And when this dream came again and again, he summoned the priests from all over the land and told them that by his presence in the country he was offending the god; p227for were that not the case such a command would not be given to him in his sleep. 8 And so he would rather, he continued, departing pure of all defilement from the land, deliver his life to destiny than offend the Lord, stain his own life by an impious slaughter, and reign over Egypt. And in the end he returned the kingdom to the Egyptians and retired again to Ethiopia.

66 1 There being no head of the government in Egypt for two years, and the masses betaking themselves to tumults and the killing of one another, the twelve most important leaders formed a solemn league among themselves, and after they had met together for counsel in Memphis and had drawn up agreements setting forth their mutual goodwill and loyalty they proclaimed themselves kings. 2 After they had reigned in accordance with their oaths and promises and had maintained their mutual concord for a period of fifteen years, they set about to construct a common tomb for themselves, their thought being that, just as in their lifetime they had cherished a cordial regard for one another and enjoyed equal honours, so also after their death their bodies would all rest in one place and the memorial which they had erected would hold in one embrace the glory of those buried within. 3 Being full of zeal for this undertaking they eagerly strove to surpass all preceding rulers in the magnitude of their structure. For selecting a site at the entrance to Lake Moeris in Libya66 they constructed their tomb of the finest stone, and they made it in form a square but in magnitude a stade in length on each side; and in the carvings and, indeed, in all the workmanship they left nothing wherein p229succeeding rulers could excel them.67 4 For as a man passed through the enclosing wall he found himself in a court surrounded by columns, forty on each side, and the roof of the court consisted of a single stone, which was worked into coffers68 and adorned with excellent paintings. 5 This court also contained memorials of the native district of each king and of the temples and sacrificial rites therein, artistically portrayed in most beautiful paintings. 6 And in general, the kings are said to have made the plan of their tomb on such an expensive and enormous scale that, had they not died before the execution of their purpose, they would have left no possibility for others to surpass them, so far as the construction of monuments is concerned.

7 After these kings had reigned over Egypt for fifteen years it came to pass that the sovereignty devolved upon one man for the following reasons. 8 Psammetichus of Sais, who was one of the twelve kings and in charge of the regions lying along the sea, furnished wares for all merchants and especially for the Phoenicians and the Greeks; 9 and since in this manner he disposed of the products of his own district at a profit and exchanged them for those of other peoples, he was not only possessed of great wealth but also enjoyed friendly relations with peoples and rulers. 10 And this was the reason, they say, why the other kings became envious and opened war against him. Some of the early historians,69 however, tell this fanciful story: The generals had p231received an oracle to the effect that the first one of their number to pour a libation from a bronze bowl to the god in Memphis should rule over all Egypt, and when one of the priests brought out of the temple eleven70 golden bowls, Psammetichus took off his helmet and poured the libation from it. 11 Now his colleagues, although suspecting his act, were not yet ready to put him to death, but drove him instead from public life, with orders that he should spend his days in the marshes along the sea. 12 Whether they fell out for this reason or because of the envy which, as mentioned above, they felt towards him, at any rate Psammetichus, calling mercenaries from Caria and Ionia, overcame the others in a pitched battle near the city called Momemphis, and of the kings who opposed him some were slain in the battle and some were driven out into Libya and were no longer able to dispute with him for the throne.

67 1 After Psammetichus had established his authority over the entire kingdom he built for the god in Memphis the east propylon and the enclosure about the temple, supporting it with colossi71 twelve cubits high in place of pillars; and among the mercenaries he distributed notable gifts over and above their promised pay, gave them the region called The Camps to dwell in, and apportioned to them much land in the region lying a little up the river from the Pelusiac mouth; they being subsequently removed thence by Amasis, who reigned p233many years later, and settled by him in Memphis.72 2 And since Psammetichus had established his rule with the aid of the mercenaries, he henceforth entrusted these before others with the administration of his empire and regularly maintained large mercenary forces. 3 Once in connection with a campaign in Syria, when he was giving the mercenaries a more honourable place in his order of battle by putting them on the right wing and showing the native troops less honour by assigning them the position on the left wing of the phalanx, the Egyptians, angered by this slight and being over two hundred thousand strong, revolted and set out for Ethiopia, having determined to win for themselves a country of their own. 4 The king at first sent some of his generals to make excuse for the dishonour done to them, but since no heed was paid to these he set out in person after them by boat, accompanied by his friends. 5 And when they still continued their march along the Nile and were about to cross the boundary of Egypt, he besought them to change their purpose and reminded them of their temples, their homeland, and of their wives and children. 6 But they, all crying aloud and striking their spears against their shields, declared that so long as they had weapons in their hands they would easily find homelands; and lifting their garments and pointing to their genitals they said that so long as they had those they would never be in want either of wives or of children. 7 After such a display of high courage and of utter disdain for p235what among other men is regarded as of the greatest consequence, they seized the best part of Ethiopia, and after apportioning much land among themselves they made their home there.73

8 Although Psammetichus was greatly grieved over these things, he put in order the affairs of Egypt, looked after the royal revenues, and then formed alliances with both Athens and certain other Greek states. 9 He also regularly treated with kindness any foreigners who sojourned in Egypt of their own free will, and was so great an admirer of the Hellenes that he gave his sons a Greek education; and, speaking generally, he was the first Egyptian king to open to other nations the trading-places throughout the rest74 of Egypt and to offer a large measure of security to strangers from across the seas. 10 For his predecessors in power had consistently closed Egypt to strangers, either killing or enslaving any who touched its shores. 11 Indeed, it was because of the objection to strangers on the part of the people that the impiety of Busiris became a byword among the Greeks, although this impiety was not actually such as it was described, but was made into a fictitious myth because of the exceptional disrespect of the Egyptians for ordinary customs.

68 1 Four generations after Psammetichus, Apries was king for twenty-two years. He made a campaign with strong land and sea forces against Cyprus p237and Phoenicia, took Sidon by storm, and so terrified the other cities of Phoenicia that he secured their submission; he also defeated the Phoenicians and Cyprians in a great sea-battle and returned to Egypt with much booty. 2 After this he sent a strong native force against Cyrenê and Barcê and, when the larger part of it was lost, the survivors became estranged from him; for they felt that he had organized the expedition with a view to its destruction in order that his rule over the rest of the Egyptians might be more secure, and so they revolted. 3 The man sent by the king to treat with them, one Amasis, a prominent Egyptian, paid no attention to the orders given him to effect a reconciliation, but, on the contrary, increased their estrangement, joined their revolt, and was himself chosen king.75 4 When a little later all the rest of the native Egyptians also went over to Amasis, the king was in such straits that he was forced to flee for safety to the mercenaries, who numbered some thirty thousand men. 5 A pitched battle accordingly took place near the village of Maria and the Egyptians prevailed in the struggle; Apries fell alive into the hands of the enemy and was strangled of the death, and Amasis, arranging the affairs of the kingdom in whatever manner seemed to him best, ruled over the Egyptians in accordance with the laws and was held in great favour. 6 He also reduced the cities of Cyprus and adorned many temples with noteworthy votive offerings. After a reign of fifty-five years he ended p239his days at the time when Cambyses, the king of the Persians, attacked Egypt, in the third year of the Sixty-third Olympiad, that in which Parmenides of Camarina won the "stadion."76


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 This sentence as it stands is almost certainly not from the hand of Diodorus. But the following words do not connect well with the end of chapter 41. In Book 17, which is also broken into two Parts, the narrative continues without any such interruption as occurs here.

2 Dog's-tooth grass.

3 This must refer to the drying-up of the pools left by the flood.

4 Cp. chap. 14.

5 Ptolemy XI (80‑51 B.C.), better known as Auletes ("The Piper") and as the father of the famous Cleopatra.

Thayer's Note: For the life and reign of this king, see Bevan, The House of Ptolemy, chapter 12.

6 The Ethiopian Period (Twenty-fifth Dynasty), ca. 715‑663 B.C.; the Persian, 525‑332 B.C.; on the Macedon, 332‑30 B.C., see the Introduction, pp. ix ff.

7 Not identified. Wiedemann conjectedº that he might be Tef‑sucht, of the 23rd Dynasty.

Thayer's Note: For a somewhat different opinion, see Waddell's note to Manetho, III.64.

8 "City of Zeus," the Diospolis Magna of the Romans. The Egyptian name by which it was most commonly known was Nu (or No), "the city."

9 Iliad 9.381‑4, where Achilles replies to Odysseus, rejecting the proffer of gifts from Agamemnon.

10 Stables where relays of horses were kept. Eichstädt would reject the whole of § 7 as spurious, and the words τῶν κατὰ τὴν Λιβύην appear to be unnecessary.

11 This is undoubtedly the Great Temple of Ammon at Karnak, the most imposing of all the monuments of Egypt.

12 Cambyses was in Egypt from 522 to 522 B.C. The account of his excesses against the Egyptian religion and customs, given in great detail by Herodotus (3.16 ff.), is almost certainly much exaggerated (see Gray in The Cambridge Ancient History, 4 pp22‑3, but cp. Hall, ibid. 3 pp311‑12); at any rate they fall toward the end of his stay in the country.

13 Hecataeus of Abdera was an historian of the early third century B.C., author of an Aigyptiaka, from which the following description (47.1‑49.5) of the tomb of Osymandyas (Müller, Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum, 2.389‑91) is drawn. What Diodorus gives here is no more than a paraphrase, not a quotation, of Hecataeus (cp. the Introduction, p. xvii).

14 This is the great sanctuary erected by Ramses II for his mortuary service and known to every visitor at Thebes as the Ramesseum. In chap. 49, where Diodorus is not following Hecataeus, he calls it specifically a "tomb." H. R. Hall (Ancient History of the Near East6, p317) derives the name Osymandyas from User-ma-Ra (or "Uashmuariya" as the Semites wrote it), one of the royal names of Ramses.

15 These were square pillars with engaged statues of Osiris, but they were not monoliths (cp. H. R. Hall, l.c., with illustration).

16 The estimated weight of this colossus of Ramses II is one thousand tons.

17 This is the campaign of Ramses II against the Hittites in 1288 B.C. and the great battle around the city of Kadesh on the upper Orontes. The battle has been fully described by J. H. Breasted, The Battle of Kadesh (Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago, 1904), who estimates the size of the army at little more than 20,000.

18 This sentence is apparently not from Hecataeus. Breasted (l.c., pp44‑5) holds that this lion is purely decorative, though the reliefs of the battle show a tame lion accompanying Ramses on the campaign.

19 The reliefs of the battle show Ramses in his chariot and the severed hands of the slain, not of the captives, being cast before him (Breasted, l.c., p45).

20 i.e. a Music Hall, distinguished, in general, by the ancients from a theatre by its roof and supporting pillars. This is the great hypostyle hall behind the second court (cp. the Plan in Baedeker's Egypt, opp. p301).

21 A word to this effect, which is found in a description of "figures in Thebes" by Plutarch (On Isis and Osiris, 10), must almost certainly have stood in the text, to give a basis for the thought in the next sentence that the judges should not receive gifts; cp. Plutarch, l.c., ὡς ἄδωρον ἅμα τὴν δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἀνέντευκτον οὖσαν ("showing that justice should take no gifts and should be inaccessible to influence").

22 On this Supreme Court see chap. 75.

23 In place of "one cubit thick" one should certainly expect "one cubit wide." In that case the space for the portrayal of each day would be one cubit square.

24 Here ends the account drawn, except for occasional remarks of Diodorus, from Hecataeus.

25 i.e. in the wider sense of study of knowledge.

26 The Egyptians undoubtedly knew the proper length of the year, but their year was one of 365 days and there is no record of the rest ever officially intercalating a day every four years, as, indeed, Diodorus tells us in the next sentence (cp. The Cambridge Ancient History, 1 p168). The distinct contribution of the Egyptians to the calendar was the rejection of the lunar month and the recognition that the length of the divisions of the year should be conventional. It was this conventional month which Julius Caesar introduced into the lunar month calendar of the Romans, practically all ancient writers saying in one way or another that the idea for his calendar came from Egypt (cp. J. H. Breasted, A History of Egypt, pp32‑3).

27 In common with all the Greek writers, Diodorus knew nothing about the chronological development of Egyptian history. The great period of Thebes was to come with the Eighteenth Dynasty, after 1600 B.C., many centuries subsequent to the founding of Memphis.

28 Alexandria is more fully described in Book 17.52.

29 Herodotus (2.6) says that the schoenus was an Egyptian measure, equal to sixty stades or approximately seven miles, but according to Strabo (17.1.24) it varied from thirty to one hundred and twenty stades. At any rate the Fayûm is about sixty miles from the site of ancient Memphis.

30 The reference is to the great depression known as the Fayûm, into which the Nile flowed during the period of inundation. The control of this flow, as described below, was first undertaken by the Pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty, especially by Amenemhet III.

31 i.e. about nine miles long and three hundred feet wide.

32 This practice is better known in the case of the Persian rulers. Villages in Syria had been given the Queen Mother "for her girdle" (cp. the English "pin-money"; Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.4.9), and when Themistocles was received by the Persian king after his exile from Athens three cities of Asia Minor were given him — Magnesia for bread, Lampsacus for wine, and Myus for meat (Thucydides, 1.138.5). Herodotus (2.149) gives the same figure for the income from the catch, but only for the six months when the water "flows from the lake." A daily catch of the value of more than a thousand dollars and a cost of fifty times that sum for opening the locks seem highly improbable.

33 Practically all Greek and Latin writers called him Sesostris, and about him stories gathered as about no other ruler in ancient history with the exception of Alexander the Great. "In Greek times Sesostris had long since become but a legendary figure which cannot be identified with any particular king" (J. H. Breasted, A History of Egypt, p189). But certain facts narrated in connection with him were certainly drawn from memories of the reign of Ramses II of the Nineteenth Dynasty.

34 About twenty miles.

35 The ancient practice of incubation, during which the god of the temple would grant a revelation through a dream; cp. p80, n1.

36 Not the present Red Sea, but the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

37 The Tanaïs river and the Lake Maeotis are the Don and the Sea of Azof respectively, but the country of the Colchi is generally placed in the Caucasus.

38 H. R. Hall (The Ancient History of the Near East6, pp161‑2) gives a translation of a stele set up at Semneh by Senusret III of the Twelfth Dynasty, who is often identified with the Sesoösis of Diodorus, and observes that its language, unique in this period for its scorn of the conquered negroes, is strikingly reminiscent of the stelae described in this passage and by Herodotus 2.102.

39 About seven feet; cp. the bed of Og, king of Bashan (Deut. 3.11), which was nine cubits long and four wide; "is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon?"

40 "Few of the great temples of Egypt have not some chamber, hall, colonnade or pylon which bears his (Ramses II) name, in perpetuating which the king stopped at no desecration or destruction of the ancient monuments of the country" (J. H. Breasted, History of Egypt, p443).

41 Strabo (17.1.34) mentions a village of this name near the pyramids.

42 This campaign of Semiramis is described in Book 2.14; on Ctesias cp. the Introduction, pp. xxvi f.

43 The account through here of Sesoösis closely follows that given by Herodotus 2.102 ff. Near Memphis are two colossi of Ramses II, the larger of which was about forty-two feet high, approximately the thirty cubits of Diodorus and of Herodotus 2.110 (Baedeker's Egypt, p141).

44 The following folk story, with some variations, is given in Herodotus 2.111.

45 One of these obelisks still stands, of red granite of Syene and 66 feet high. The largest obelisk in the world, that before the Lateran, is 100 feet high; the 150 feet of Diodorus seems a little too big.

Thayer's Note: For a photo, with good text, of Senusret I's obelisk at Heliopolis (20.2 meters high), see this page at TourEgypt; for the Lateran obelisk (32.2 to 32.5 meters depending on the source), see Obeliscus Constantii in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Photographs of the latter abound online, but usually accompanied by inaccurate text.

46 A. Wiedemann (Ägyptische Geschichte, p582, n1) thinks that Actisanes is no more than a double of the Ethiopian Sabaco of chap. 65.

47 i.e. Nose-clipped.

48 This building is described in chap. 66. The classical authors did not agree on the name of its builder and the Mendes or Marrus of Diodorus is otherwise entirely unknown (cp. A. Wiedemann, Ägyptische Geschichte, p259).

49 Diodorus in his account of Proteus follows Herodotus (2.112 ff.), who, it has been suggested, may have confused an Egyptian title, Proutî, with the familiar "Proteus" (cp. How and Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 1 p223). Cetes, apparently, cannot be identified with any Egyptian ruler.

50 On some of these insignia cp. J. H. Breasted, History of Egypt, p38; the snake was the symbol of the Northern Kingdom, the sacred uraeus.

51 Ramses III, the Rhampsinitus in connection with whom Herodotus (2.121) recounts the famous tale of the thieves.

52 Chemmis is the Cheops of Herodotus (2.124), the Khufu of the monuments. Diodorus makes the same mistake as Herodotus in putting the pyramid-builders of the Fourth Dynasty (c. 3000 B.C.) after Ramses III of the Twentieth Dynasty (c. 1200 B.C.).

53 Including the facing, which has now almost entirely disappeared, the Great Pyramid was originally about 768 feet broad on the base and 482 feet high.

54 The term "Arabia" also designated the region lying between the Nile and the Red Sea, as in Herodotus (2.8) and Strabo (17.1.34). Apparently all the material for the Great Pyramid came from the immediate neighbourhood (cp. Baedeker's Egypt, pp124‑5).

55 The classic description of the building of the pyramids is in Herodotus 2.124‑5.

56 The Chephren of Herodotus (2.127), Khafre of the monuments.

57 i.e. six plethra, while the former was seven.

58 The remains, such as "massive blocks of granite, placed in position after the interment of the mummy to protect the grave from robbers," and other considerations all show that this cannot have been the case (cp. Baedeker's Egypt, pp123, 126).

59 The Menkaure of the monuments.

60 The lower courses of the third pyramid are of red granite, the "Ethiopian stone" of Herodotus 2.134.

61 As regards Rhodopis the theory of H. R. Hall (Journal of Hellenic Studies, 24 (1904), pp208‑13) is attractive: The Sphinx, the cheeks of which were tinted red, was called by the Greeks "Rhodopis" (rosy-cheeked"), and erroneously supposed to be female. Later they took it to be a portrait of the greatest Rhodopis they knew, the rosy-cheeked Doricha (although Athenaeus, 13.596B, denies that her name was Doricha), the famous courtesan of the Milesian colony of Naucratis in the Delta (cp. Herodotus 2.134 ff.). The infatuation for her of Sappho's brother Charaxus invoked Sappho's rebuke; cp. Edmonds, Lyra Graeca, I p205 (L. C. L.).

62 The governors of the provinces (nomes) of Egypt.

63 On Bocchoris cp. chaps. 79 and 94. His Egyptian name was Bokenranef (c. 726-c. 712 B.C.), the second of the two kings of the Twenty-fourth Dynasty (cp. The Cambridge Ancient History, 3.276 f.).

Thayer's Note: See also Manetho, III.64‑67 (24th and 25th Dynasties) and note 15 there.

64 Shabaka (c. 712-c. 700 B.C.), the first king of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty.

65 This story is reminiscent of the belief that one may be preserved from harm by passing between the parts of a sacrificed animal; cp. Genesis, 15.10, 17; Jeremiah, 34.18‑19, and the account in Herodotus (7.39) of the son of Pythius, whose body was cut in two and one half set on the right side of the road and the other on the left, that the Persian army might pass between them on its way to the conquest of Greece.

66 i.e. on the west side of the Nile.

67 This is the Labyrinth which was mentioned before in chap. 61. It was the seat of the central government, and was not built by the "twelve kings," but by Amenemhet III of the Twelfth Dynasty (cp. The Cambridge Ancient History, 1 p309; J. H. Breasted, p194).

68 i.e. ornamental panels were deeply recessed in the stone.

69 The account is given by Herodotus 2.151 f.

70 All former editors retain the reading "twelve" of the MSS.; but the parallel account in Herodotus gives the number as "eleven," thus furnishing the occasion for the use of his helmet by Psammetichus.

71 Here are meant square pillars with an attached statue in front; cp. p167, n3.

72 A similar account is in Herodotus (2.154), who locates (2.30) the Camps more precisely at Daphnae, the modern Tell Defenneh on the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, now a canal. The mercenaries were thus strategically placed at the Syrian entrance into Egypt.

73 This story of the Deserters is given by Herodotus (2.30), but in less detail.

74 This reading of the MSS., which has disturbed some editors, may properly be retained. It is understood from the beginning of the chapter that Psammetichus could allow foreigners to trade only in the regions of which he was governor. Upon becoming king he extends that privilege over "the rest" of Egypt.

75 Amasis (Ahmose II of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty) reigned 569‑526‑5 B.C., the first three years of his reign coinciding with the last three years of Apries.

76 The famous foot-race at Olympia, 606¾ feet long.


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