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Bill Thayer

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Manetho

Manetho was an Egyptian priest who lived in the 3c B.C. and wrote one or more books in Greek to acquaint the Mediterranean world with the history and civilization of his country. His original works have perished; what has survived has been transmitted to us as fragments in about a dozen ancient authors, the most important of whom are Josephus, who quotes long passages of connected discourse, and Eusebius and the Christian chronographer Africanus, who for the most part have preserved dry lists of Egyptian kings, grouped by "Dynasties" and only infrequently relieved by a bit of context.

For many centuries — once the knowledge of hieroglyphics had been lost — the writings of Manetho, mangled as they are, were one of the world's chief sources of information on Egyptian history; only with the 19c decipherment of hieroglyphics and archaeological investigations was Manetho slowly superseded in favor of first-hand knowledge from the papyri and tombs of Egypt themselves.

In the course of my transcription, though, I came to realize how much we owe even now to this ancient author: the entire framework of Egyptian history as we are used to it (the Kingdoms, the Dynasties) is as recorded by Manetho; and he served those 19c archaeologists, and continues to serve archaeologists today, as a guide. And dull as those dry lists of names and numbers are, in the varying corrupted forms preserved to us, chronologists and Biblical students also continue to find them of use.

Editor's Introduction

vii

History of Egypt

Book I

3

Book II

67

Book III

153

Fragments of Other Works

Fr. 76‑81: Sacred Book

189

Fr. 82‑83: Epitome of Physical Doctrines

189

Fr. 84: On Festivals

199

Fr. 85‑86: On Ancient Ritual and Religion

199

Fr. 87: On the Making of Kyphi

203

Fr. 88: Criticisms of Herodotus

205

Appendices

1: Pseudo-Manetho

209

2: Eratosthenes (?) — from Syncellus

213

3: The Old Chronicle

227

4: The Book of Sothis (The Sothic Cycle)

235

Technical Details

Edition Used, Copyright

I transcribed this Web edition from a 1964 reprint of the Loeb Classical Library edition, Greek and Latin texts and facing English translation: Harvard University Press, 1940, translation by W. G. Waddell, Professor of Classics in Fuad el‑Awal University, Cairo, Egypt.

It is in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been in 1967/1968. (Details on the copyright law involved.)

Proofreading

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. I run a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each section; then a second proofreading, detailed and meant to be final: in the table of contents above, the chapters are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe them to be completely errorfree; any red backgrounds would mean that the chapter had not received that second final proofreading. The header bar at the top of each chapter page will remind you with the same color scheme.

The print edition was well proofread; there are few typographical errors. These few errors then, when I could fix them, I did, marking the correction each time with a bullet like this;º or when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

Inconsistencies or errors in punctuation are remarkably few; they have been corrected to the editor's usual style, in slightly brighter blue — barely noticeable on the page when it's a comma for example like this one, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic ‑‑> in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

I did make one small change to the printed text. The editor uses "V/A.D." (e.g.) to mean the 5th century A.D. and so forth. This will be opaque to many, and for my part I found it irritating: I replaced these forms, a total of fifteen times, by the more standard ones found elsewhere onsite: "5c A.D.", etc.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode and made apparent in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this linep57). Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

Local links are also provided for each Fragment, as well as each King in the king lists in those fragments; and a few other links that were required to accommodate the author's own cross-references or for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.



[image ALT: A partial view of two of the Pyramids of Egypt on which ⲙⲁⲛⲉϩⲧⲟ (Coptic for 'Manetho') is superimposed. It serves on this website as the icon for my transcription of the Loeb edition and translation of Manetho.]

We do not know what Manetho looked like. The icon I use to indicate this subsite is his name, or at least a plausible restoration of it rendered in Coptic script, according to one authority (see Introduction, p. ix); the background is a view of the Pyramids, the burial place of some of the kings of Egypt with whom the bulk of Manetho's work is concerned. The sky will also remind the reader of the color scheme I use for pages belonging to the period of the Roman Republic, the time when Manetho lived.


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Site updated: 8 Oct 12