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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Fragments


(Loeb Classical Library edition, 1940)

The text is in the public domain.

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 p209  Appendix I

(from Syncellus)

It remains now to make brief extracts concerning the dynasties of Egypt from the works of Manetho Sebennytus. In the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus he was styled high-priest of the pagan temples of Egypt, and wrote from inscriptions in the Sêriadic land,1 traced, he says, in sacred language and holy characters by Thôth,2 the first Hermês, and translated after the Flood . . . in hieroglyphic characters. When the work had been arranged in books by Agathodaemôn, son of the second Hermês3 and father of Tat, in the temple-shrines of Egypt, Manetho dedicated it to the above King Ptolemy II Philadelphus in his Book of Sôthis, using the following words:

 p211  Letter of Manetho of Sebennytus to Ptolemy Philadelphus.

"To the great King Ptolemy Philadelphus Augustus.4 Greeting to my lord Ptolemy from Manetho, high-priest and scribe of the sacred shrines of Egypt, born at Sebennytus and dwelling at Hêliopolis. It is my duty, almighty king, to reflect upon all such matters as you may desire me to investigate. So, as you are making researches concerning the future of the universe, in obedience to your command I shall place before you the Sacred Books which I have studied, written you your forefather, Hermês Trismegistus.5 Farewell, I pray, my lord King."

Such is his account of the translation of the books written by the second Hermês. Thereafter Manetho tells also of five Egyptian tribes which formed thirty dynasties . . .

(Fr. 2, p11, follows directly after this.)

The Editor's Notes:

1 Sêriadic land, i.e. Egypt, cf. Josephus, Ant. I.71. In an inscription the home of Isis is Σειριὰς γῆ, and Isis herself is Νειλῶτις or Σειριάς, the Nile is Σείριος: see Reitzenstein, Poimandres, p183.

2 For the god Thôth inscribing records, see p. xiv n. 1.

3 The second Hermês is Hermês Trismegistus, the teacher.

For a discussion of the whole passage, see W. Scott, Hermetica, III pp492 ff. He pointed out manifest breaches of continuity after χρηματίσας (end of l. 4) and after Αἰγύπτου (end of l. 12). If the intervening 8 lines are cut out (ἐκ τῶν . . . Αἰγύπτου), the sentence runs smoothly; and Scott suggested that these 8 lines originally stood in Manetho's letter after ἃ ἔμαθον. Even with this insertion there still remains a gap before ἱερὰ βιβλία, but apart from that lacuna, the whole becomes intelligible.

Thayer's Note: The note is opaque without the Greek text, q.v., in which — rather than the numbered lines possible on a fixed page of print — I've resorted to color to mark the passage that Scott would move.

4 Augustus, a title of the Roman emperor, was not used in Ptolemaic times.

5 For a curious juxtaposition of Manetho and Hermês Trismegistus, see Wellmann in Hermes, XXXV p367. MS. of Celsus gives a list of medical writers, Egyptian or Greek and Latin: they include (col. 1, ll. 9‑13) Hermês Trismegistus, Manetho (MS. emmanetos), Nechepsô, Cleopatra regina. Here Manetho is followed by Nechepsô, to whom, along with Petosiris (perhaps another name of Nechepsô), works on astrology were attributed in the Second Century B.C.: see W. Kroll and M. Pieper in R.‑E. XVI.2 (1935), s.v. Nechepsô.

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Page updated: 1 Oct 12