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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Fragments


(Loeb Classical Library edition, 1940)

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Hermes Trismegistus speaks:

O Aegypte, Aegypte, religionum tuarum solae supererunt fabulae, eaeque incredibiles posteris tuis; solaque supererunt verba lapidibus incisa, tua pia facta narrantibus. ["O Egypt, Egypt, of thy religious rites nought will survive but idle tales which thy children's children will not believe; nought will survive but words graven upon stones that tell of thy piety."]

The Latin Asclepius III.25,
in W. Scott, Hermetica, I 1924, p342.


"Never has there arisen a more complicated problem than that of Manetho."

— Boeckh, Manetho und die Hundssternperiode, 1845, p10.

 p. vii  Introduction

Among the Egyptians who wrote in Greek, Manetho the priest holds a unique place because of his comparatively early date (the third century B.C.) and the interest of his subject-matter — the history and religion of Ancient Egypt. His works in their original form would possess the highest importance and value for us now, if only we could recover them; but until the fortunate discovery of a papyrus,​1 which will transmit the authentic Manetho, we can know his writings only from fragmentary and often distorted quotations preserved chiefly by Josephus and by the Christian chronographers, Africanus and Eusebius, with isolated passages in Plutarch, Theophilus, Aelian, Porphyrius, Diogenes Laertius, Theodoretus, Lydus, Malalas, the Scholia to Plato, and the Etymologicum Magnum.

Like Bêrôssos, who is of slightly earlier date, Manetho testifies to the growth of an international  p. viii spirit in the Alexandrine age: each of these "barbarians" wrote in Greek an account of his native country; and it stirs the imagination to think of their endeavour to bridge the gulf and instruct all Greek-speaking people (that is to say the whole civilized world of their time) in the history of Egypt and Chaldaea. But these two writers stand alone:​2 the Greeks indeed wrote from time to time of the wonders of Egypt (works no longer extant), but it was long before an Egyptian successor of Manetho appeared — Ptolemy of Mendês,​3 probably under Augustus.

The writings of Manetho, however, continued to  p. ix be read with interest; and his Egyptian History was used for special purposes, e.g. by the Jews when they engaged in polemic against Egyptians in order to prove their extreme antiquity. (See further pp. xvi ff.) Manetho's religious writings are known to us mostly through references in Plutarch's treatise On Isis and Osiris.

The Life of Manetho: Traditions and Conjectures

Our knowledge of Manetho is for the most part meagre and uncertain; but three statements of great probability may be made. They concern his native place, his priesthood at Hêliopolis, and his activity in the introduction of the cult of Serapis.

The name Manetho (Μανεθώς, often written Μανέθων) has been explained as meaning "Truth of Thôth", and a certain priest under Dynasty XIX is described as "First Priest of the Truth of Thôth".​4 According to Dr. Černý​5 "Manetho" is from the Coptic ⲙⲁⲛⲉϩⲧⲟ "groom" (ⲙⲁⲛⲉ "herdsman", and ϩⲧⲟ "horse"); but the word does not seem to occur elsewhere as a proper name. In regard to the date of Manetho, Syncellus in one passage​6 gives us the information that he lived later than Bêrôssos: elsewhere​7 he puts Manetho as "almost contemporary with Bêrôssos, or a little later". Bêrôssos, who  p. x was priest of Marduk at Babylon, lived under, and wrote for, Antiochus I, whose reign lasted from 285 to 261 B.C.; and Bêrôssos dedicated his Χαλδαϊκά to this king after he became sole monarch in 281 B.C. The works of Manetho and Bêrôssos may be interpreted as an expression of the rivalry of the two kings, Ptolemy and Antiochus, each seeking to proclaim the great antiquity of his land.

Under the name of Manetho, Suidas seems to distinguish two writers: (1) Manetho of Mendês in Egypt, a chief priest who wrote on the making of kyphi (i.e. Fr. 87): (2) Manetho of Diospolis or Sebennytus. (Works): A Treatise on Physical Doctrines (i.e. Fr. 8283). Apotelesmatica (or Astrological Influences), in hexameter verses, and other astrological works. (See p. xiv, note 3.) Nowhere else is Manetho connected with Mendês; but as Mendês was distant only about 17 miles from Sebennytus across the Damietta arm of the Nile, the attribution is not impossible. Müller suspects confusion with Ptolemy of Mendês, an Egyptian priest (probably in the time of Augustus), who, like Manetho, wrote a work on Egyptian Chronology in three books. In the second note of Suidas Diospolis may be identified, not with Diospolis Magna (the famous Thebes) nor with Diospolis Parva, but with Diospolis Inferior, in the Delta (now Tell el‑Balamûn), the capital of the Diospolite or 17th nome​8 to the north of the Sebennyte nome and contiguous with  p. xi it. Diospolis Inferior lay near Damietta, some 30 miles from Sebennytus. (See Strabo, 17.1.19, and Baedeker, Egypt and the Sûdân, 8th ed. (1929), p185.) We may therefore accept the usual description of Manetho (Fr. 3, 7780: Syncellus, 72.16), and hold that he was a native of Sebennytus (now Samannûd)​9 in the Delta, on the west bank of the Damietta branch of the Nile. Manetho was a priest, and doubtless held office at one time in the temple at Sebennytus; but in the letter (App. I) which he is said to have written to Ptolemy II Philadelphus, he describes himself as "high-priest and scribe of the sacred shrines of Egypt, born at Sebennytus and dwelling at Hêliopolis". Although the letter, as we have it, is not genuine in all its details, this description may have been borrowed from a good source; and while his precise rank as a priest remains in doubt, it is reasonable to believe that Manetho rose to be high-priest in the temple at Hêliopolis.​10 This eminent position agrees with the important part he played in the introduction of the cult of Serapis. As a Heliopolitan priest, Manetho (to quote from Laqueur, Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, R.‑E. XIV., 1061) "was, without doubt, acquainted with  p. xii the sacred tree in the great Hall of Hêliopolis, — the tree on which the goddess Seshat, the Lady of Letters, the Mistress of the Library, wrote down with her own hand the names and deeds of the rulers.​11 He did nothing more than communicate to the Greek world what the goddess had noted down.​12 But he did so with a full sense of the superiority which relied on the sacred records of the Egyptians in opposition to Herodotus whom he was contradicting" (Fr. 43, § 73: Fr. 88). His native town, Sebennytus, was visited as a place of learning by Solon when Ethêmôn was a priest in residence there (see Proclus in Plat. Tim. I.101, 22, Diehl); and the Greek culture of the place must have been a formative influence upon Manetho at an early age.

In the introduction of the statue of Serapis to Alexandria as described by Plutarch (Manetho, Fr. 80), Manetho the Egyptian was associated with the Greek Timotheus as a priestly adviser of King Ptolemy Sôter. It is natural to suppose that the cult of Serapis itself, which was a conflation of  p. xiii Egyptian and Greek ideas intended to be acceptable to both nationalities, had already been organized​13 with the help of the two priests, and the magnificent temple in Rhakôtis, the Egyptian quarter in the west of Alexandria, had doubtless been built. The date is not certain: according to Jerome (Fotheringham, p211, Helm, p129) "Sarapis entered Alexandria" in 286 B.C., while the Armenian Version of the Chronicle of Eusebius says that in 278 B.C. "Sarapis came to Alexandria, and became resident there" (Karst, 200). Perhaps the two statements refer to different stages in the development of the cult: if the former describes the entry of the statue by Bryaxis, the latter may possibly refer to the final establishment of the whole theology. As a proof that the work of Manetho in building up the cult of Serapis must not be belittled, it may suffice to refer to the inscription of the name Μανεθών on the base of a marble bust found in the ruins of the Temple of Serapis at Carthage (Corpus Inscr. Lat. VIII.1007). The name is so uncommon that the probability is that the bust which originally stood on this base represented the Egyptian Manetho, and was erected in his honour because of his effective contribution to the organization of the cult of  p. xiv Serapis.​14 Hence it is not impossible also that the following reference in a papyrus of 241 B.C. may be to Manetho of Sebennytus. It occurs in a document containing correspondence about a Temple Seal (P. Hibeh, I.72, vv. 6, 7, γράφειν Μανεθῶι). The person named was evidently a well-known man in priestly circles: he was probably our Manetho, the writer on Egyptian history and religion, if he lived to a considerable age.15

Manetho's Works

Eight works​16 have been attributed to Manetho: (1) Αἰγυπτιακά, or The History of Egypt, (2) The Book of Sothis, (3) The Sacred Book, (4) An Epitome of Physical Doctrines, (5) On Festivals, (6) On Ancient Ritual and Religion, (7) On the Making of Kyphi [a kind of incense], (8) Criticisms of Herodotus.

Of these, (2) The Book of Sôthis (App. IV and  p. xv pp. xxvii ff.) is certainly not by Manetho; and there is no reason to believe that (8) Criticisms of Herodotus formed a separate work, although we know from Josephus C. Apion. I.73 (Fr. 42), that Manetho did convict Herodotus of error. Six titles remain, but it has long been thought that some of these are "ghost" titles. Fruin (Manetho, p. lxxvii) supposed that Manetho wrote only two works — one on Egyptian history, the other on Egyptian mythology and antiquities. Susemihl (Alex. Lit.‑Gesch. I.609, n. 431) and W. Otto (Priester und Tempel in Hellenistischen Ägypten, II.215, n. 4) modified this extreme view: they recognized three distinct works of Manetho (The History of Egypt, The Sacred Book, and An Epitome of Physical Doctrines), and assumed that the titles On Festivals, On Ancient Ritual and Religion, and On the Making of Kyphi referred to passages in The Sacred Book. In the paucity of our data, no definite judgement seems possible as to whether Manetho wrote six works or only three; but in support of the former theory we may refer to Eusebius (Man. Fr. 76).

The History of Egypt

The Egyptian History17 of Manetho is preserved in extracts of two kinds. (1) Excerpts from the original work are preserved by Josephus, along with other passages which can only be pseudo-Manethonian.  p. xvi The Jews of the three centuries following the time of Manetho were naturally keenly interested in his History because of the connexion of their ancestors with Egypt — Abraham, Joseph, and Moses the leader of the Exodus; and they sought to base their theories of the origin and antiquity of the Jews securely upon the authentic traditions of Egypt. In Manetho indeed they found an unwelcome statement of the descent of the Jews from lepers; but they were able to identify their ancestors with the Hyksôs, and the Exodus with the expulsion of these invaders. The efforts of Jewish apologists account for much re‑handling, enlargement, and corruption of Manetho's text, and the result may be seen in the treatise of Josephus, Contra ApionemI.

(2) An Epitome of Manetho's history had been made at an early date, — not by Manetho himself, there is reason to believe, — in the form of Lists of Dynasties with short notes on outstanding kings or important events. The remains of this Epitome are preserved by Christian chronographers, especially by Africanus and Eusebius. Their aim was to compare the chronologies of the Oriental nations with the Bible, and for this purpose the Epitome gave an ideal conspectus of the whole History, omitting, as it does, narratives such as the account of the Hyksôs preserved by Josephus. Of the two chronographers, the founder of Christian chronography, Sextus Julius Africanus, whose Chronicle18 came down to  p. xvii A.D. 217 or A.D. 221, transmits the Epitome in a more accurate form; while Eusebius, whose work extends to A.D. 326, is responsible for unwarranted alterations of the original text of Manetho. About A.D. 800 George the Monk, who is known as Syncellus from his religious office (as "attendant" of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople), made use of Manetho's work in various forms in his Ἐκλογὴ Χρονογραφίας, a history of the world from Adam to Diocletian. Syncellus sought to prove that the incarnation took place in Anno Mundi 5500; and in his survey of the thirty‑one Egyptian dynasties which reigned from the Flood to Darius, he relied on the authoritative work of Manetho as transmitted by Africanus and Eusebius, and as handed down in a corrupt form in the Old Chronicle (App. III) and the Book of Sôthis (App. IV) which had been used by the chronographer Panodôrus (c. A.D. 400).

Even from the above brief statement of the transmission of Manetho's text, it will be seen that many problems are involved, and that it is extremely difficult to reach certainty in regard to what is authentic Manetho and what is spurious or corrupt. The problems are discussed in detail by Richard Laqueur in his valuable and exhaustive article in Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, R.‑E. s.v. Manethon; and it may be sufficient here to quote his summary of the results of his researches in regard to Manetho (1) in Josephus, and (2) in the Christian Chronographers.

(1) Manetho in Josephus, Contra Apionem, I (see Fr. 425054).

"(a) Extracts from the genuine Manetho appear in §§ 75‑82, 84‑90, 94‑102A, 232‑249, 251. Of these  p. xviii passages, §§ 75‑82, 94‑102A, 237‑249 are quoted verbatim, the others are given in Indirect Speech.

"(b) A rationalistic critique of the genuine Manetho was written by a Hellenist, and was used by Josephus for his work. The remains of this critique appear in §§ 254‑261, 267‑269, 271‑274, 276‑277. Perhaps §§ 102B‑103 is connected with these.

"(c) The authoritative work of Manetho was further exploited by Jews and Egyptians in the mutual polemic, in the course of which additions to Manetho's works were made: these additions were partly favourable to the Jews (§§ 83, 91), partly hostile to the Jews (§ 250). These passages, like those mentioned in (b), were collected before the time of Josephus into a single treatise, so that one could no longer clearly recognize what had belonged to Manetho and what was based upon additions.

"(d) Josephus originally knew only the genuine Manetho (cf. (a)), and used him throughout as a witness against the aggressors of Judaism. In this it was of importance for Josephus to show that the Hyksôs had come to Egypt from abroad, that their expulsion took place long before the beginning of Greek history, and that they, in their expedition to aid the Lepers, remained untainted by them.

"(e) After Josephus had completed this elaboration, he came later to know the material mentioned in (b) and (c): so far as it was favourable to the Jews or helpful in interpretation, it led only to short expansions of the older presentation; so far, however, as it was hostile to the Jews, Josephus found himself induced to make a radical change in his attitude towards Manetho. He attacked Manetho  p. xix sharply for his alleged statement (§ 250), and at the same time used the polemic mentioned in (b) in order to overthrow Manetho's authority in general.

"(f) From the facts adduced it follows that Manetho's work was already before the time of Josephus the object of numerous literary analyses."​19

Cf. the following summary.

(2) Manetho in the Christian Chronographers.

"(a) Not long after the appearance of Manetho's work, an Epitome was made, giving excerpts from the Dynasty-Lists and increasing these from 30 to 31. The possibility that other additions were made is not excluded.

"(b) The Epitome was remodelled by a Hellenistic Jew in such a way that the Jewish chronology became compatible with that of Manetho.

"(c) A descendant of version (a) is extant in Julius Africanus: a descendant of version (b), in Eusebius."

The Chronicle of Africanus in five books is lost except for what is preserved in the extracts made by Eusebius, and the many fragments contained in the works of Syncellus and Cedrenus, and in the Paschale Chronicon. For Eusebius we have several lines of transmission. The Greek text of Eusebius has come down to us in part, as quoted by Syncellus; but the whole work is known through (1) the Armenian Version, which was composed in the 5c A.D.20  p. xx from a revision of the first Greek text,​21 and is, of course, quite independent of Syncellus; and (2) the Latin Version made by Jerome towards the end of the fourth century.

Possible Sources of the Αἰγυπτιακά

An Egyptian high priest, learned in Greek literature, had an unrivalled opportunity, in early Ptolemaic times, of writing an excellent and accurate history of Egypt. He had open access to records of all kinds — papyri​22 in the temple archives (annals, sacred books containing liturgies and poems), hieroglyphic tablets, wall sculptures, and innumerable inscriptions.​23 These records no one but an Egyptian priest could consult and read; and only a scholar who had assimilated the works of Greek historians could make a judicious and scientific use of the abundant material. It is hardly to be expected,  p. xxi however, that Manetho's History should possess more worth than that of his sources; and the material at his disposal included a certain proportion of unhistorical traditions and popular legends.24

There is no possibility of identifying the particular records from which Manetho compiled his History: the following are the kinds of monuments which he may have consulted and from which we derive a means of controlling his statements.

(1) The Royal List of Abydos, on the wall of a corridor of the Temple of Sethôs I at Abydos, gives in chronological order a series of seventy‑six kings from Mênês to Sethôs I. Dynasties XIII to XVII are lacking. A mutilated duplicate of this list was found in the Temple of Ramessês II at Abydos (now in the British Museum: see Guide, p245): it arranges the kings in three rows, while the more complete list has them in two rows.

(2) The Royal List of Karnak (now in the Louvre) has a list of kings, originally sixty‑one, from Mênês down to Tuthmôsis III, Dynasty XVIII, with many names belonging to the Second Intermediate Period (Dynasties XIII‑XVII).

The Royal Lists of Abydos and Karnak give the tradition of Upper Egypt.

(3) The Royal List of Sakkâra (found in a tomb at Sakkâra, and now in the Cairo Museum) preserves the cartouches of forty-seven (originally fifty-eight) kings previous to, and including, Ramessês II. It begins with Miebis, the sixth king of Dynasty I; and like  p. xxii The Royal List of Abydos, it omits Dynasties XIII‑XVII. Like (4) the Turin Papyrus, the Royal List of Sakkâra gives the tradition of Lower Egypt.

(4) More important than any of the preceding is the Turin Papyrus, written in hieratic on the verso of the papyrus, with accounts of the time of Ramessês II on the recto (which gives the approximate date, c. 1200 B.C.). In its original state the papyrus must have been an artistically beautiful exemplar, as the script is an exceptionally fine one. It contains the names of kings in order, over 300 when complete, with the length of each reign in years, months, and days; and as the definitive edition of the papyrus has not yet been issued, further study is expected to yield additional results.​25 The papyrus begins, like Manetho, with the dynasty of gods, followed by mortal kings also in dynasties. The change of dynasty is noted, and the sum of the reigns is given: also, as in Manetho, several dynasties are added together, e.g. "Sum of the Kings from Mênês to [Unas]" at the end of Dynasty V. The arrangement in the papyrus is very similar to that in the Epitome of Manetho.

(5) The Palermo Stone26 takes us back to a much greater antiquity: it dates from the Fifth Dynasty, c. 2600 B.C., and therefore contains Old Egyptian annals of the kings. The Stone or Stele was originally  p. xxiii a large slab​27 of black diorite, about 7 feet long and over 2 feet high; but only a fragment of the middle of the slab is preserved in the Museum of Palermo, while smaller pieces of this, or of a similar monument, have been identified in the Cairo Museum and in University College, London. Although the text is unfortunately fragmentary, this early document is clearly seen to be more closely related to the genuine Manetho than are the Kings' Lists of later date (1, 2, 3, 4 above).​28 In a space marked off on each side by a year-sign and therefore denoting one year, notable events are given in an upper section of the space and records of the Nile-levels in a lower. A change of reign is denoted by a vertical line prolonging the year-sign above, on each side of which a certain number of months and days is recorded — on one side those belonging to the deceased king, and on the other to his successor. In the earliest Dynasties the years were not numbered, but were named after some important event or events, e.g. "the year of the smiting of the ʾInw," "the year of the sixth time of numbering". Religious and military events were particularly common, just as they are in Manetho. A year-name of King Snefru (Dynasty IV) states that he conquered the Nehesi, and captured 7000 prisoners and 200,000 head of cattle: cf. Manetho, Fr. 7, on the foreign expedition of Mênês. So, too, under  p. xxiv Shepseskaf, the last king of Dynasty IV, the building of a pyramid is recorded, and under Dynasties I, IV, and VI, Manetho makes mention of pyramid-building. It is especially noteworthy that the first line of the Palermo Stone gives a list of kings before Mênês: cf. the Turin Papyrus, as quoted on Fr. 1. (For the Cairo fragments see Sethe, op. cit.).


In regard to Manetho's relation to his Greek predecessors in the field of Egyptian history, we know that he criticized Herodotus, not, as far as we can tell, in a separate work, but merely in passages of his History. In none of the extant fragments does Manetho mention by name Hecataeus of Abdera, but it is interesting to speculate upon Manetho's relation to this Greek historian. The floruit of Hecataeus fell in the time of Alexander and Ptolemy son of Lagus (Gutschmid gives 320 B.C. as an approximate estimate); and it is very doubtful whether he lived to see the reign of Philadelphus, who came to the throne in 285 B.C. (Jacoby in R.‑E. VII.2, 2750). His Aegyptiaca was "a philosophical romance," describing "an ethnographical Utopia": it was no history of Egypt, but a work with a philosophical tendency. Manetho and Hecataeus are quoted together, e.g. by Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, chap. 9, perhaps from an intermediary writer who used the works of both Manetho and Hecataeus. If we assume that Hecataeus wrote his "romance" before Manetho composed his History, perhaps one of the purposes of Manetho was to correct the errors of his predecessor. No  p. xxv criticism of Hecataeus, however, has been attributed to Manetho; and it is natural that similarities are found in their accounts (cf. p131, n. 2). Be that as it may, Hecataeus enjoyed greater popularity among the Greeks than Manetho: they preferred his "romance" to Manetho's more reliable annals. Yet Manetho's Aegyptiaca has no claim to be regarded as a critical history: its value lies in the dynastic skeletons which serve as a framework for the evidence of the monuments, and it has proved in its essentials the accepted scheme of Egyptian chronology.​29 But there were many errors in Manetho's work from the very beginning: all are not due to the perversions of scribes and revisers. Many of the lengths of reigns have been found impossible: in some cases the names and the sequence of kings as given by Manetho have proved untenable in the light of monumental evidence. If one may depend upon the extracts preserved in Josephus, Manetho's work was not an authentic history of Egypt, exact in its details, as the Chaldaïca of Bêrôssos was, at least for later times. Manetho introduced into an already corrupted series of dynastic lists a number of popular traditions written  p. xxvi in the characteristic Egyptian style. No genuine historical sense had been developed among the Egyptians, although Manetho's work does illustrate the influence of Greek culture upon an Egyptian priest. He wrote to correct the errors of Greek historians, especially of Herodotus (see Fr. 88); but from the paucity of information about certain periods, it seems clear that in ancient times, as for us at the present day, there were obscure eras in Egyptian history.​30 Before the Saïte Dynasty (XXVI) there were three outstanding periods — in Dynasties IV‑VI, XI‑XII, and XVIII‑XX, or roughly the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom (sometimes called the Empire); and these are the periods upon which the light falls in all histories.

The significance of Manetho's writings is that for the first time an Egyptian was seeking to instruct foreigners in the history and religion of his native land.

Other Works attributed to Manetho

To judge by the frequency of quotation, the religious treatises of Manetho were much more popular in Greek circles than the History of Egypt was; yet the fragments surviving from these works (Fr. 76‑88) are so meagre that no distinct impression of their nature can be gained. The Sacred Book (Fr. 76‑81)  p. xxvii was doubtless a valuable exposition of the details of Egyptian religion, as well as of the mythological elements of Egyptian theology. It testifies to the importance of the part played by Manetho in support of Ptolemy Sôter's vigorous policy of religious syncretism. It seems probable that the Sacred Book was Manetho's main contribution in aid of this policy: it may have been the result of a definite commission by the king, in order to spread a knowledge of Egyptian religion among the Greeks. That an Egyptian priest should seek to instruct the Greek-speaking world of his time in the history of Egypt and in the religious beliefs of the Egyptians, including festivals, ancient rites and piety in general, and the preparation of kyphi, is not at all surprising: but it seems strange that Manetho should feel called upon, in the third century B.C., to compose an Epitome of Physical Doctrines (Fr. 82, 83) with the apparent object of familiarizing the Greeks with Egyptian science. One may conjecture that his special purpose was to give instruction to students of his own.

The Book of Sôthis (Appendix IV)

The Book of Sôthis31 or The Sôthic Cycle is transmitted through Syncellus alone. In the opinion of Syncellus, this Sôthis-Book was dedicated by Manetho  p. xxviii to Ptolemy Philadelphus (see App. I). The king wished to learn the future of the universe, and Manetho accordingly sent to him "sacred books" based upon inscriptions which had been written down by Thôth, the first Hermês, in hieratic script, had been interpreted after the Flood by Agathodaemôn, son of the second Hermês and father of Tat, and had been deposited in the sanctuaries of the temples of Egypt. The letter which purports to have accompanied the "sacred books" is undoubtedly a forgery; but the Sôthis-Book is significant for the textual transmission of Manetho. According to the LXX the Flood took place in Anno Mundi 2242 (see Frags. 26: App. III, p232). This date must close the prehistoric period in Egypt and in Chaldea: the 11,985 years of the Egyptian gods are therefore regarded as months and reduced to 969 years. Similarly, the 858 years of the demigods are treated as quarter-years or periods of three months, thus becoming 214½ years: total, 969 + 214½ = 1183½ years (Fr. 2). In Chaldean prehistory, by fixing the saros at 3600 days, 120 saroi become 1183 years 6⅚ months. Accordingly, the beginning of Egyptian and Babylonian history is placed at 2242‑1184, or 1058 Anno Mundi: in that year (or in 1000, Fr. 2) falls the coming of the Egregori, who finally by their sins brought on the Flood. The Book of Sôthis begins with the reign of Mestraïm, Anno Mundi 2776 (App. IV, p234: App. III, p232), i.e. 534 years after the Flood, and continues to the year 4986, which gives 2210 years of Egyptian rule — almost the same number as Manetho has in either Book I or Book II of his History of Egypt.

 p. xxix  Bibliography

Greek text of Manetho in

1. C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, II (1848), pp511‑616.º

2. Manethonis Sebennytae Reliquiae, R. Fruin, 1847.

Greek text of the Epitome in

3. G. F. Unger, Chronologie des Manetho, Berlin, 1867.

Greek text of Kings' Lists summarized in parallel columns:

4. R. Lepsius, Königsbuch der alten Ägypter, Berlin, 1858. [2 volumes: I, II]

Greek text of religious writings in

5. Fontes Historiae Religionis Aegyptiacae, Th. Hopfner, 1922‑25.

Accounts of Manetho and his work

1. Richard Laqueur in Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, R.‑E. XIV. (1928), s.v. Manethon (1).

2. F. Susemihl, Alex. Lit.‑Geschichte, I, 1891, pp608‑616.

3. W. Otto, Priester und Tempel im Hellenist. Aegypten (1908), II pp215 f., 228 f.

Subsidiary Works


ed. Niese, Vol. V, 1889.

ed. Thackeray (L. C. L., Vol. I, 1926).

ed. Reinach and Blum (Budé, 1930).

Arnaldo Momigliano, Rivista di Filologia, 59 (1931), pp485‑503.

Syncellus or George the Monk, in Corpus Scriptorum Historicorum Byzantinorum, W. Dindorf, 129.

Heinrich Gelzer, Sextus Julius Africanus, 1880‑89.

Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, E. H. Gifford, 1903.

Eusebii chronicorum lib. I, A. Schöne, 1875.

Eusebius, Chronica (in Armenian Version):

(a) Latin translation by Zohrab‑Mai, 1818 (in Müller's F. H. G. II).

 p. xxx  (b) Latin translation by Aucher, 1818 (partly quoted in R. Lepsius, Königsbuch — see above).

(c) Latin translation by H. Petermann, in Schöne (above).

(d) German translation by Josef Karst in Eusebius, Werke V. Die Chronik, 1911.

Ed. Meyer, Aegyptische Chronologie, 1904 (Nachträge, 1907: Neue Nachträge, 1907). French translation by Alexandre Moret, 1912.

Ed. Meyer, Geschichte der Altertums5, I.ii, II.1, ii.

James H. Breasted, Ancient Records, 1906.

T. E. Peet, H. R. Hall, J. H. Breasted, in the Cambridge Ancient History, Vols. I‑VI.

A. Von Gutschmid, Kleine Schriften, IV, 1893.

For further works and articles relating to Manetho, see the article by Laqueur, Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, R.‑E.



A = 1711 of Paris (dated A.D. 1021), used by Scaliger and Goar, the first two editors. Editions: Paris, 1652; Venice, 1729.

B = 1764 of Paris — a much better MS. than A.

G signifies readings of Goar.

m signifies conjectures and notes in the margin of Goar's edition.

Eusebius, Chronica (Armenian Version)

G = Codex Hierosolymitanus (see Intro., p. xix n. 2).

Josephus, Contra Apionem, I.

LCodex Laurentianus plut. lxix.22 of eleventh century.

Hafniensis, No. 1570, at Copenhagen, fifteenth century.

Bigotianus, known from readings transmitted by Emericus Bigotius.

Quotations from Eusebius (A.D. 264‑340), sometimes best preserved in the Armenian version.

Lat. = Latin version made by order of Cassiodorus, the minister of Theodoric, c. A.D. 540.

Editio princeps of Greek text (Basel, 1544).

 p. xxxi  List of Abbreviated Titles Used in Reference

Ann. Serv. Antiq.Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte, Le Caire, 1900‑.

Baedeker8Egypt and the Sûdân, by Karl Baedeker (English translation, 8th edition, 1929).

Karst = Joseph Karst's German translation Die Chronik, in Eusebius, Werke, V, 1911.

P. Baden = F. Bilabel, Griechische Papyri (Veröffentlichungen aus den badischen Papyrus-Sammlungen), Heidelberg, 1923‑24.

P. Hibeh = Grenfell and Hunt, The Hibeh Papyri, I, 1906.

P. Mich. Zen. = C. C. Edgar, Zenon Papyri in the University of Michigan Collection, 1931.

P. Oxy. = Grenfell, Hunt, and Bell, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, 1898‑1927.

Petermann = H. Petermann's Latin translation in Schöne (below).

Schöne = Eusebii Chronicorum lib. I, A. Schöne, 1875.

Syncellus = Syncellus or George the Monk, in Corpus Scriptorum Historicorum Byzantinorum, W. Dindorf, 1829.

 p. xxxii  Note

The editor wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the valuable help ungrudgingly given to him in all Egyptological matters by Professor Percy E. Newberry (Liverpool and Cairo) and by Professor Battiscombe Gunn (Oxford); but neither of these Egyptologists must be held responsible for the final form in which their contributions appear, except where their names or initials are appended. Thanks are also due to Professor D. S. Margoliouth (Oxford), who very kindly revised the Latin translation of the Armenian Version of Eusebius, Chronica, by comparing it with the original Armenian as given in Aucher's edition: the footnotes show how much the text here printed has benefited from his revision.

In a work which brings before the mind's eye a long series of the Kings of Egypt, the editor would have liked to refer interested readers to some book containing a collection of portraits of these kings; but it seems that, in spite of the convenience and interest which such a book would possess, no complete series of royal portraits has yet been published.​32 For a certain number of portrait-sketches (25 in all), skilfully created from existing mummies and ancient representations, see Winifred Brunton, Kings and Queens of Ancient Egypt (1924), and Great Ones of Ancient Egypt (1929).

The Author's Notes:

1 F. Bilabel (in P. Baden 4. 1924, No. 59: see also Die Kleine Historiker, Fragm. 11) published a papyrus of the fifth century after Christ containing a list of Persian kings with the years of their reigns (see further Fr. 70, note 1), and holds it to be, not part of the original Epitome, but a version made from it before the time of Africanus. It certainly proves that Egyptians were interested in Greek versions of the Kings' Lists, and much more so, presumably, in the unabridged Manetho. See Fr. 2 for Panodôrus and Annianus, who were monks in Egypt about the date of this papyrus. Cf. also P. Hibeh, I.27, the Calendar of Saïs, translated into Greek in the reign of Ptolemy Sôter, i.e. early in the lifetime of Manetho.

2 Cf. W. W. Tarn on Ptolemy II in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 1928, XIV p254: (Activity at Alexandria had no effect at all on Egyptians) "Ptolemy Sôter had thought for a moment that Egyptians might participate in the intellectual activities of Alexandria: . . . but, though Manetho dedicated his work to Ptolemy II, in this reign all interest in native Egypt was dropped, and a little later Alexandria appears as merely an object of hatred to many Egyptians. (Its destruction is prophesied in the Potter's Oracle.)" (See p123 n. 1).

The complete isolation of Manetho and Bêrôssos is the chief argument of Ernest Havet against the authenticity of these writers (Mémoire sur les écrits qui portent les noms de Bérose et de Manéthon, Paris, 1873). He regards the double tradition as curious and extraordinary — there is no other name to set beside these two Oriental priests; and he suspects the symmetry of the tradition — each wrote three books for a king. Cf. Croiset, Histoire de la Littérature Grecque, V p99; Abridged History of Greek Literature, English translation, p429 (Manetho's works were probably written by a Hellenized Oriental at the end of the second century B.C.); and F. A. Wright, Later Greek Literature, p60.

3 See p. x.

4 W. Spiegelberg, Orient. Literaturz. XXXI 1928, col. 145 ff., XXXII 1929, col. 321 f. Older explanations of the name Manetho were "Gift of Thôth," "Beloved of Thôth," and "Beloved of Neith".

5 In the centenary volume of the Vatican Museum: I owe this reference to the kindness of Dr. Alan H. Gardiner.

6 Manetho, Fr. 3.

7 Syncellus, p26.

8 The Greek word νομός means a division of Egypt, called in Ancient Egyptian sp.t, — a district corresponding roughly to a county in England. Pliny (Hist. Nat. 5, 9) refers to nomes as praefecturae oppidorum.

9 See Baedeker8, p185. Sebennytus was the seat of Dynasty XXX, and therefore a place of great importance shortly before the time of Manetho. In Ancient Egyptian, Sebennytus is Tjeb-nūter, "city of the sacred calf": it is tempting to connect with Sebennytus the worship of the Golden Calf in O. T. Exodus xxxii, 1 Kings xii.28 ff. (P. E. Newberry).

10 See Strabo, 17.1.29 for the "large houses in which the priests had lived". According to Herodotus (II.3.1), "the Heliopolitans are said to be the most learned of the Egyptians".

11 See Erman-Ranke, Ägypten, 1923, pp396 f.; or Erman, Die Religion der Ägypter, 1934, pp56 f.; or the original drawing in Lepsius, Denkmäler, III.169. This illustration shows the goddess, along with Thôth and Atûm, making inscriptions upon the leaves (or fruit) of the venerable tree.

12 It may be added that the Egyptians are surpassed by no nation in their strong and ever-present desire to leave upon stone or papyrus permanent records of their history, their motive being to glorify the ruling king. Cf. Herodotus, II.77.1 (of the Egyptians who live in the cultivated country), "the most diligent of all men in preserving the memory of the past, and far better skilled in chronicles than any others whom I have questioned".

13 The earliest date for Serapis is given by Macrobius, Sat. I.20.16, a questioning of Serapis by Nicocreon of Cyprus, c. 311‑310 B.C. For Dittenberger, O. G. I. S. 16 (an inscription from Halicarnassus on the founding of a temple to Serapis-Isis under (the satrap) Ptolemy Sôter), the date is uncertain, probably c. 308‑306 B.C. Already in Menander's drama, Ἐγχειρίδιον (before 291 B.C. when Menander died), Serapis is a "holy god" (P. Oxy. XV.1803).

14 Cf. Lafaye, Histoire du Culte des Divinités d'Alexandrie (1884), p16 n. 1: "At all events, there is no doubt that the adepts of the Alexandrine cult had great veneration for Manetho, and considered him in some measure as their patriarch".

15 Bouché-Leclercq (Histoire des Lagides, IV p269 n. 4) holds a different opinion: "the reference is not necessarily to the celebrated Manetho, whose very existence is problematical".

16 A work wrongly attributed in antiquity (e.g. by Suidas, see p. x) to Manetho of Sebennytus is Ἀποτελεσματικά, in 6 books, an astrological poem in hexameters on the influence of the stars. See W. Kroll (R.‑E. s.v. Manethon (2)), who with Köchly recognizes in the 6 books 4 sections of different dates from about A.D. 120 to the fourth century after Christ. Books I and V open with dedications to King Ptolemy: cf. Pseudo-Manetho, Appendix I.

17 Or Notes about Egypt. There are two variants of the Greek title: Αἰγυπτιακά (Josephus in Fr. 42), and Αἰγυπτιακὰ ὑπομνήματα (Aegyptiaca monumenta, Eus. in Fr. 1), with a possible third form Αἰγυπτίων ὑπομνήματα (Aegyptiorum monumenta, Eus., p359).

18 For a later miscellaneous work, the Κεστοί, see P. Oxy. III.412 (between A.D. 225 and 265); and Jules Africain, Fragments des Cestes, ed. J.‑R. Vieillefond, Paris, 1932.

19 A further study of the transmission of Manetho in Josephus is made by A. Momigliano, "Intorno al Contro Apione," in Rivista di Filologia, 59 (1931), pp485‑503.

20 The Armenian MS. G (Codex Hierosolymitanus) printed by Aucher (1818) is dated by him between A.D. 1065 and 1306. Karst quotes readings from this and two other Armenian MSS., but the variations are comparatively unimportant.

21 See A. Puech, Hist. de la Litt. grecque chrétienne, III p177.

22 Herodotus (II.100; cf. 142) mentions a papyrus roll (Βύβλος) containing a list of 331 kings. Diodorus (I.44.4) tells of "records (ἀναγραφαί) handed down in the sacred books" (ἐν ταῖς ἱεραῖς βίβλοις), giving each king's stature, character, and deeds, as well as the length of his reign.

23 Cf. the Annals of the Reign of Tuthmôsis III (Breasted, Ancient Records, II §§ 391‑540): this important historical document of 223 lines is inscribed on the walls of a corridor in the Temple of Amon at Karnak, and "demonstrates the injustice of the criticism that the Egyptians were incapable of giving a clear and succinct account of a military campaign".

24 The popular tales introduced kings as the heroes, without regard to chronological order: see G. Maspero, Bibliothèque Egyptologique, vol. VII (1898), pp419 ff.

25 See Sir J. G. Wilkinson, Fragments of the Hieratic Papyrus at Turin, London, 1851: E. Meyer, Aeg. Chron. pp105 ff., and Die Ältere Chronologie Babyloniens, Assyriens, und Ägyptens, revised by Stier (1931), pp55 ff.

26 Plate II. See H. Schäfer, Abhandl. Akad. Berl. 1902: Breasted, Ancient Records, I §§ 76‑167: Sethe, Urkunden des Alten Reichs, pp235‑249; and cf. Petrie, The Making of Egypt, 1939, pp98 f.

27 More plausibly, according to Petrie (The Making of Egypt, 1939, p98), the text of the annals was divided among six slabs each 16 inches wide, both sides being equally visible.

28 Borchardt, in Die Annalen (1917), quoted in Ancient Egypt, 1920, p124, says, "Manetho had really good sources, and his copyists have not altogether spoiled him".

29 Cf. H. R. Hall, Cambridge Ancient History, I p260: "So far as we are able to check Manetho from the contemporary monuments, his division into dynasties is entirely justified. His authorities evidently were good. But unhappily his work has come down to us only in copies of copies; and, although the framework of the dynasties remains, most of his royal names, originally Graecized, have been so mutilated by non‑Egyptian scribes, who did not understand their form, as often to be unrecognizable, and the regnal years given by him have been so corrupted as to be of little value unless confirmed by the Turin Papyrus or the monuments."

30 Cf.  H. R. Hall, Ancient History of the Near East8, p14: "In fact, Manetho did what he could: where the native annals were good and complete, his abstract is good: where they were broken and incomplete, his record is incomplete also and confused. . . ."

31 Sôthis is the Greek form of Sopdet [ 𓇮𓇼𓏏], the Egyptian name for the Dog‑star, Sirius, the heliacal rising of which was noted at an early date: on the great importance of the Sôthic period in Egyptian chronology, see Breasted, Ancient Records, I §§ 40 ff., and H. R. Hall, Encyclopaedia Britannica11, s.v. Chronology. Cf. infra, Appendix III, p226, and Appendix IV, p234.

32 For portraits of some kings, see Petrie, The Making of Egypt, 1939, passim.

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