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Irish University Review

The Relations between Greece and Egypt during the VIIth and VIIIth Centuries B.C.: Part II Author(s): Matthew Hanrahan Source: University Review, Vol. 2, No. 7 (Autumn, 1961), pp. 33-45 Published by: Irish University Review Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/11/2013 11:44
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in brief is the history of the part played by these early Greeks in the history of Egypt during the four centuries that preceded the foundation of Alexandria. What was the effect on Greece itself of this contact with the civilisation of the Nile valley? In Egypt the Greeks were not dealing with a primitive people, but with an such civilisation, elsewhere, and, as happened they came under the influence of the more ancient civilisations with which they were in contact. Where they were able to do so, the Greeks imposed their culture and way of life on the native 'Barbarians', but when this was not possible^ they were equally capable of adapting themselves to other customs and ideas. Greek in tercourse with Lydia left its imprint on the civilisation of the Ionian cities, and advanced the Greeks in Italy learned from the Etruscans. With Egypt also the exchange was cultural as well as commercial, for, as Aristode says of Solon1, every ama kai theorian" "to do business and Greek travelled "kat' emporian to see the world." The Greeks in the Delta lived close to Sais2, the and they and the frequent visitors to the of the Saite Renascence, country were able to transmit to Greece a knowledge of Egyptian life and art, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, of Egyptian science and thought from which the Greeks of that age could still benefit. The debt of Greece to Egypt during centre this period has been both exaggerated and undervalued. Today though science may no longer believe in the "Oriental mirage" by which the Hellenes were supposed to have got everything from the East, it cannot, on the other hand, fail to recognise Egyptian influence on 7th and 6th century Greece. There is plenty of evidence to be found in the Greek writers to show to what extent the early Greeks were impressed by Egypt's civilisation. The importance of Egypt in Greek thought can be seen in the number of inquiring travellers who came to study its history, religion, and government. Their writings, devoted were just called "Aiguptiaka") entirely or in part to Egypt (many were This article is in already published 1. Arist. Ath.Pol. XI. 2. The ruins of Sais Rosetta branch of * " continuation of a previous in Vol. 2, No. 5.M lie near Sa-el-Hagar, the Nile. article on the same subject,

about half

a mile




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34 UNIVERSITY REVIEW eagerly read throughout Greece, and were an important factor in the relations them Egypt, which had been so long closed to of the two countries. Through foreign influence, became known to antiquity and was henceforth open to the investigation of the inquiring Greek mind. It was mainly through Naucratis and Daphnae,
were maintained.

and later through Naucratis


that these close


influence on the beginnings of Greek art whether through a foreign intermediary or by direct contact, is now generally acknowledged. When Egypt was still closed to Greece, much of this influence was transmitted by the Phoenicians who then controlled all trade with the Delta. As part of their commerce they brought to Greece from Egypt many objects which served as character of their own art they had communi models, and by the Egyptising cated to the early Greek works a reflection of the art of Egypt. It was only Egyptian at the end of the VHIth century, by the settlement of the Milesians in the was two contact that established between the direct But countries. Delta, two was Greek it centuries3 the art, though during ensuing already coming into possession of much of the technique which enabled it to set out on its own original course, was still passing through a period of initiation, and could still find inspiration in the art of Egypt to which it added the qualities of its own individual genius. Speaking of Egyptian art Jean Caparts says4: "It is of art in Greece and impossible not to be struck by the rapid development Ionia from the moment when Europeans first had an opportunity of seeing the products of Egyptian art." Hall, in his article5 on "Oriental Art and the Saite says: "There can be little doubt that the regular commercial with Egypt established by the Milesians in the VIHth Cent, must have caused a certain rapprochement between the artists of the two countries." We have in the British Museum from the sacred avenue at Branchidae near Miletus, where they flanked the approach to the temple of Didymean Apollo, a series of seated figures which are direct imitations of the colossal Period" connection Egyptian statues. The imitation of the Egyptian style is equally clear in the figures of the lions which were set up along the avenue of the sacred lake at Delos. A statue of Artemis found at Delos, made by a Naxian in the Vllth a of is those ancient wooden statues Cent., reproduction Egyptian ("Xoana the arms close to the body and aiguptiaka") of which Pausanias6 speaks?with 3. The conquest of Cyprus by Amasis, in the middle of the Vlth Cent. (Her. II, 182), was marked by an immediate increase in the Egyptising " character of Cyprian sculpture copied from Saite originals. (Hall. Anc. Hist, of the Near East.") 4. "Egyptian Art" in the "Legacy of Egypt," p. 116.
5. 6. Camb. Paus. stone Anc. VII, were Vol. Ill, History, were 6. "Xoana" pp. 324-5. the primitive says that most wooden statues of the Greek

divinities made

during after

the archaic period the Egyptian manner

of Greek

art, when

** xoana






or even brought

from Egypt.

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THE RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND EGYPT 35 the legs giving the impression of being encased in a sheath or wrappings7. in several archaic models of Similar Egyptian influence can be recognised Greek sculpture. In the rich series of statues found at the ancient towns of influence can again be clearly and Idalia in Cyprus8, Egyptian Golgos discerned. The statues represent standing figures, with the arms held straight down and close to the body. The head-dress is the "klaft" or "pschent" of Egypt, and the loin-cloth is the "schenti". The figures of the two scribes, found among the Pre-Persian remains on the Acropolis9, are similarly dressed in unmistakeably Egyptian style. The standing posture, prevalent in Egypt, with the left foot thrust forward, is reproduced in every detail in the standing male figures10 made in every part of the Greek world in the Vlth Cent. The small dancing figures of the God Bes, which were so popular in Egypt during the XXVIth Dynasty, of the Greek vases. were undoubtedly the original of the Satyr or Silen

Technical processes, too, were being borrowed. The knowledge of the two chief plastic materials, marble and bronze, came to Greece from Ionia, and Diodorus11 says it was from Egypt that the statuaries of Chios and Samos and (Rhoecus Theodorus12) borrowed the process of hollow bron2e casting. The delicate technique of Egypt was being transmitted to Europe, and this new process was preparing the way for the freedom and boldness of the later of such great bronze workers as Myron, masterpieces Polyclitus, Lysippus. the in article13 already quoted,. says: "No doubt the Greek tales of Hall, Samian and other artists, who went to Egypt in the Vllth Cent, and learnt technical processes of art there, were founded on fact." Many writers are at pains to emphasise how small a part Egypt could play in the development of later classical Greek art. As one example of a very different opinion, we quote the words of a very distinguished Frenchman, M. Edouard Herriot, describing the impression made upon him by the monuments of the Nile valley. "The admiration which I feel for the sculptures of the is in no way impaired, but I remain in ecstasy before a diorite Parthenon statue of Cephren. In its accuracy of line, its balance of composition and its serene attitude, such a work is as near to us as the celebrated examples of he says:?"It classical art." And speaking of the temple of Dair-el-Bahari in this is no longer possible to deny that the purest classicism flourished Vol. III. PI I. Bulletin de Correspondence hellenigue." at Nicosia Found by Cesnola, and now in the Museum 144, 146. Catalogue of the Acropolis Museum, Vol. I, p. 167. Nos. and Rhodes. The Sunium Kouros, or the Kouroi of Naucratis Diod. I. 98 the works of Theodorus were the famous ring of Polycrates and Among A vase the Lydian the golden vine offered to Darius by Pythius, inscribed with the name of Rhoecus has been found at Naucratis. 13. Camb. Anc. History, Vol. Ill, pp. 324-5. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. "

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36 UNIVERSITY REVIEW some thousand years before the fifth the banks of the Nile, the glory of Athens." Jean Capart, concluding century B.C. which witnessed his remarks on Egyptian art says: "Our final conclusion may be that Egypt ? reveals to us the knowledge of one of the sources ? perhaps "the" source country on from which

the great river

of beauty

has flowed




There were no barriers to the Greek study of Egyptian art, but it is not so easy to ascertain the extent and accuracy of the knowledge the Greeks were able to acquire of Egyptian scientific, religious, or philosophical teaching. In our of what the knowledge Egyptians spite of the decipherment of the texts, taught and believed is still far from complete. In Egypt the deeper knowledge of religion and the sciences was kept in the shade of the court and the temples, of the applied of Egyptian teaching, especially their knowledge sciences, was not committed to writing. It is unlikely that the Greeks ever learnt any of the written forms of the Egyptian language, but on the other hand, to suppose that the Greeks, having been settled in the country for generations, never learnt more than a few words of the spoken language is and much of the Saite Dynasty the Pharaohs courted the highly improbable. All as the and of the Greeks. goodwill Egyptian independence, friendship and Pharaohs realised, depended on the strength of their Greek mercenaries the help they hoped to receive from the Greek states against the danger from the Pharaohs thus disposed to a policy Assyria and later from Persia. With of closer alliance and friendship with the Greek world, it is probable that the Greeks throughout the period of the Saite Dynasty were given free access to the sources of Egyptian wisdom ? the temples14 and the records kept there to be interpreted by the priests, and we But had the the records by priests. do not know how faithfully they did so. We have to turn to the testimony of the Greek travellers to find how far the Greeks were impressed by what the priests had to tell and how much they were able to learn from the wisdom of Egypt. Herodotus, under the influence of his visit to Egypt is led to meditate on the origins of his own religion and comes to the conclusion that the Greek knowledge of such matters is, "so to speak, of today and yesterday". One of the Egyptian priests says to Solon in the "Timaeus", "You Greeks are mere children." At the time when the early Greek philosophers came to visit the land of the Nile, Egypt had progressed far beyond the rudiments of many of the sciences, particularly had studied the periodicity in mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. They of celestial phenomena, and were able to foretell

14. Temples were the museums of the old world. Herodotus obtained much of his information from the temple of Ptah at Memphis (Her. II. 10.1, 110), and the priests of Heliopolis, most skilled in tradition ("Logiotatoi"), " " were said to have been the teachers of Pythagoras, Solon-, and Plato. and Wells. (How Op. C, p. 157.)

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THE RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND EGYPT 37 were the first people to build up a calendar eclipses with accuracy. They 365 days based on the solar year, and to anticipate the Julian calendar the addition of an extra day every four years. Egypt, was according Aristotle15, the cradle of mathematical teaching, and the Greeks could see of by to

its to the the after Nile task, annually recurring floods, of practical application and the rules of mensuration, accurate land measurement which was the In their knowledge of foundation of the later Greek science of geometry. the Egyptians were far in advance of that of Mediaeval medicine Europe. The practice of embalming required a knowledge of anatomy, and that knowledge was widened as mummification became general. Their anatomical knowledge and treatises became the foundation of later Greek writing on the subject. Much, or all, of this knowledge which Egypt had acquired over many centuries, was available to the Asiatic Greeks in Egypt for more than a century before the earliest of the Ionian schools of philosophy and Thales founded at Miletus in their admiration for the achievement of the science. Yet many writers Ionian Greeks would have us believe that the birth of Ionian and later Greek owed nothing, or very little, to Oriental sources16, and of Egyptian science were rejected or disregarded. But like Ionian philosophy, science, and literature could not emerge full-grown, Venus, from the waves of the sea. It is more reasonable to assign to Greek science the credit of daring to substitute the rule of intellect for religious tradition and bringing into the full light of reason the secrets hitherto kept by science in the West that the discoveries the priests in the shade of the temples. The Greeks themselves were the first to acknowledge the debt they owed to Egypt, and Solon, Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, and many others, according to the Greek historians, are reputed to have visited Egypt. Thales was the first great philosopher of Ionia, and the founder of the school of Miletus. Most writers now believe that he visited Egypt and other countries of the Near East about the beginning of the sixth century. Besides philosophy he was equally famous for his knowledge of geometry, astronomy and meteorology17. Thales is symbolical of the age of transition before Greece of influence. He himself was half-Oriental could dispense with Oriental Cadmaean origin. The chief feature of Thales' teaching, which he bequeated to his disciples was that water was the essential element, the "phusis", or
15. Metaph. a 16. For A. I. 981. of La the "sources" et comparer discussion "


"Early Greek


pp. 27, 38, 92.

origines de Fesprit." p. 8 ss.


17. That his knowledge had also a practical bent is illustrated by the story that he had foreseen, by his meteorological foresight, an exceptional olive harvest, and, with the business instinct of the Asiatic Greek, had bought of manufacture up all the oil presses in order to secure a monopoly (Arist. Pol. L 45).

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38 UNIVERSITY REVIEW primordial substance of the universe, a belief which had always been maintained of Ionia from in Egyptian cosmogony18. "When the natural philosophers nature to into the Heracleitus of Being, they do not seem to do Thales enquire more than restate in another form what the Oriental cosmogonies had already said about the origin of the universe19." the founder of the other great half a century later Pythagoras, called the "Italian" because of Aristotle it was system philosophy by in the Greek colonies of South Italy and Sicily, visited Egypt established to whom he had where he became, like Solon, a personal friend of Amasis, About been introduced by Polycrates20, and met the high-priest Sonchis who initiated two chief doctrines literature. The of the him into ancient Egyptian were were and the that numbers the theory "metempsychosis" Pythagoreans elements of all things. It is perhaps truer to say that Pythagoras, while accepting the belief in metempsychosis, taught his initiated that continuous purifications, to the practice of of which the most effective was the complete dedication science, were the surest means by which the soul could avoid the painful destiny of passing endlessly up and down the scale of life. Fifth century Greek writers, believed that the Greeks such as Herodotus21, borrowed the doctrine of from but this is uncertain. It has been pointed out that Egypt, metempsychosis such a doctrine is inconsistent with the preservation of the body by embalming. Herodotus may have been misled by the Egyptian belief in immortality and that the soul could change its place of abode22. Pythagoras has also been called the "creator of mathematical science," but in his theory of numbers he has carried mathematics visited Egypt where his chief of the country is shown by the numerous observations in several of his works on its laws, customs and religion. as in the "Phaedrus" Socrates, when relating He must have visited Naucratis, the legend of the God Thoth, is represented by Plato as saying: "Akousa toinun peri naukratin". A fragment of a red granite obelisk, found at Kom Ga'ef, mentions a temple of Thoth, and it is possible that the temple to which this stone belonged was that of the God Thoth at Naucratis23. There is no reason to doubt the story of Solon's travels and that, after he had made his famous laws, he set out on his journeyings to let Athens, during his absence, digest the new constitution. According to Plutarch he first visited Egypt where he lived, as he himself says, "Near Nilus' mouth, by fair Canopus*
18. 19. 20. 21. Tannery, Ib. Op. Diog. Her. "L'histoire pp. Laert. II. 123. C. 135-6, VIII. I. de 150-2. 3. la science hellene." p. 7. Arist., Metaph., 1.3.

into the field of metaphysics. All ancient authorities agree that Plato residence was at Heliopolis. His knowledge

22. How and Wells, Op. C. Vol. I. p. 226. " 23. Edgar. Annales," XXII (1922). p. 6.

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THE RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND EGYPT 39 his visit Solon, according to Plato, heard from the Egyptian and Sonchis of Sais, the story of Atlantis, the priests, Psenophis of Heliopolis sunken continent. Atlantis was said to have been an enormous island, equal in size to a continent, situated somewhere in the West beyond the Pillars of Hercules, which we now call Gibraltar. As a result of some mighty earthquake shore"24. During which changed completely a great part of the earth's surface, it was later swallowed up by the sea. Since Plato first gave the story to the world in the It is marked "Timaeus" and "Critias" much has been written about Atlantis. in ancient maps up to the 15th century. The credibility of the story was accepted as late as the 17th and 18th centuries. Even as recently as 1913 a well-known geologist, M. P. Termier, has again taken up the question and come that Atlantis certainly existed, exactly at the place indicated in the "Timaeus"25! While in Egypt Solon also studied Egypt's system of laws, cne of which commanding every inhabitant "to declare annually by what means he maintained himself" he afterwards inserted into the constitution of Athens26. Hecataeus27 was the first to make geography and history a separate branch of human enquiry28. His "profession of faith" has often been quoted, "What I write is what I consider to be true; for the traditions of the Hellenes are extent in ridiculous." The and numerous, and, my opinion, facility of communications of the Persian Empire, of which Ionia was now a part, had as an put the mysterious East within easy reach of Ionian inquiry. Hecataeus, officer in the army of Darius, visited the different regions of the Persian Empire, including Egypt. It is said that he pushed his travels even into Iberia, and his "Voyage round theWorld" ("Ges Periodos" (or) "Periegesis") was the record of his observations. The work which contained an account of his visit to Egypt, is lost except for fragments. Herodotus, the continuator of Hecataeus, is accused of drawing without scruple on his work. It is said that on his travels Herodotus used the "Periegesis" freely as a guide-book, a bulky addition whether of papyrus or of parchment (as it has been to was the of Herodotus. It Hecataeus, luggage remarked)29 according to Arrian30, who coined the phrase "Egypt, the gift of the Nile" ("Doron tou Herodotus He is also criticised for that the Delta potamou").31 by thinking " " 24. Plut, Isis and Osiris," 10. Solon, frs., 19 and 28. Solon," 25-26. 25. "Bulletin de l'lnstitut Oceanographique," June, 1913. T. H. Martin, " fitudes sur le Timee." 26. Her. IL 177. 27. The fragments of his writings are to be found in F.H.G. Vol. I, pp. 1-31.
28. 30. 31. Bury. Anab. Her. "Hist, of Greece," pp. 11-12.

to the conclusion

29. How

and Wells.
V. II. 5. 6.


I. p. 27.

32. Her.

IL 15-16.

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40 UNIVERSITY REVIEW to Hecataeus, Menelaus is Egypt32. In the fragments attributed as to to coming represented Egypt, Canopus, in search of Helen. Ionia was the land of origin of Greek prose, as it was of epic poetry, and the Ionian dialect became the first literary language of all Greece. It seems to us so natural to write in prose that we forget that till the middle of the Vlth Cent, all Greek literary composition was in metrical form. The question might therefore be asked why the Ionian writers abandoned this form to seek another means of expression. At this time, under the impulse of the new knowledge coming from the feist, many changes were taking place. Philosophy and inquiry were taking the place of mythology; geography, history, and were opening new horizons. The mathematics study of the universe and research required a new medium, which would be free from the and restraint of verse, to express new abstract and complex ideas, caprices and it was more than an accident that the first "koine" of the Greek world was created by the Ionians at the beginning of the Vlth Cent, on the borders scientific of the Oriental world, at a period when the first Greek historians, geographers, of and philosophers were coming into closer contact with the civilisations Egypt and all the countries of the Persian Empire33. The discovery of the antiquity of Egyptian and all Eastern religion and civilisation engendered a new spirit of historical research. Tales of travel and geographical description has been called the first had always been very popular in Greece. Homer have would verses34 of The his memory already connected Egypt geographer. with the Heroic Age of Greece. This interest in geography was not confined and geographers ("Periegetai"); to the antiquarian historians ("Logographoi"); we same interest in geographical to find influence the their probably owing detail in the tragic poets of the next century, in such plays as the "Prometheus Vinctus" and "Persae" of Aeschylus. followed in the footsteps of Hecataeus and wrote his great Herodotus35 of the second the in Vth. Cent. The works of Ionian half in work, prose, interest in Egypt and his predecessors had helped to stimulate Herodotus' foreign work has been preserved for us entire, and has been an * 33. Except for papyrus' (one of its Egyptian names was *Apu') which supplied the Greeks with their writing material and made possible the diffusion of their literary works, there seems to have been no detectable influence of the Egyptian language on Greek. "Though we may never learn the manner in which Egyptian influence made its way into Hebrew and Greek literature, it may reasonably be doubted whether the one or the other would have been what it is had it not been for Egypt." (Peet. and of Egypt, Palestine "A Comparative Study of the Literatures lands. His

only was

34. Cf. Iliad. 381 ff.; Ody. IV, 127, 288 ff., 365, 385, 483; XIV 257 ff. travels in Egypt, 35. For a full discussion of the date and extent of Herodotus' " and the value of his history, see How and Wells Commentary," Vol. I. IX and X. Appendices

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THE RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND EGYPT 41 inexhaustible source of information on all kinds of subjects from antiquity to can go back to the native records and our own times. Today the Egyptologists ? sources which were inaccessible to the Greeks of Herodotus' monuments for a fuller picture of Ancient Egypt. Book II is the account of his time ? in the country. earlier chapters to chapter 98 are an account of what he himself saw in Egypt, and, as elsewhere in his history, where he is recording what he himself observed, all our subsequent knowledge has confirmed the accuracy of his of his descriptions, for example, of the ibis, the circum observations. Many cision of children, the rites of embalming and the methods of Pyramid building, have been described as "gems of veracity" by even the most severe of his modern critics36. This early part of his book is still our best evidence for the travels The daily are an account of the history of Egypt to the accession of Psammetichus I. These are valueless in the strict sense of political history. They give us what Maspero37 describes as "the history of Egypt as told in the streets of Memphis," and Maspero goes on to describe this part of the book as "better than a course of history; it is a chapter of literary history; the tales in it are as Egyptian as those preserved in the papyri." But it is with his account of the Saite Dynasty, Chapters 147 seq., that the character of the history changes. Now along with the information from native evidence of the Greeks of sources, he has the independent confirmatory Naucratis who had been so intimately connected with all the fortunes of the information in chronology, names, and dynasty. The accuracy of Herodotus' the broad outlines of all the events of Egyptian history38 during the two 36. Griffith in "Authority the ibis.
" 37. Maspero. Contes

life of Egypt Chapters 99-146

in the Vth Cent.

and Archaeology"
p. 32.


to his




38. Herodotus does not mention, except incidentally, the foreign wars and alliances of the wSai'te The foreign policy of the Saite Kings was Dynasty. determined the desire to by two principal factors; at the beginning, consolidate their recently acquired independence, and to extend Egyptian influence at the expense of the declining power of Assyria; later, by the necessity of combining all the lesser powers of the Eastern Mediterranean
in a common front against the approaching threat from Persia. The

development of Saite policy may be briefly traced in the history of Egypt's foreign relations during the century and a half between the accession of I (664) and the Persian conquest (525). Psammetichus I (664-610) Psammetichus Gyges of Lydia supports Egypt against Assyria. Greek mercenaries in the service of E'gypt. Closer relations between Egypt and the Greek world. Jewish military colony established at Elephantine. Psammetichus invades Syria and captures Ashdod (Azotus).

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42 UNIVERSITY REVIEW centuries which preceded his visit shows to what extent the Greek settlers of new sources of the Vllth and Vlth centuries had opened up to Greece were to of in the and Greek travellers able the knowledge Egypt supply sources with of still reliable Herodotus evidence. remains country independent our chief authority for the history of the early Greeks in Egypt, and, to a of which the native great extent, for the history of the XXVIth Dynasty records and monuments, located in the exposed Delta, have almost entirely saw in the Delta, of the magnificence which Herodotus disappeared. Much especially in the temples and the relief work on the tombs, was the work of which reached its peak of achievement in the reign of in the country, visiting among other places, extensively all of which had and Heliopolis, Naucratis, Sais, Bubastis, Daphnai, Memphis, been or were still centres of Greek residence. the Saite Renascence, Amasis. He travelled to the visit of Charaxos, the brother of the famous Sappho. Among the imports which passed through Naucratis was was one of the chief wine the red wine of Lesbos and Chios. Ch^axos about 570 B.C., probably to merchants of Lesbos and he came to Naucratis A more romantic interest attached make personal contact with his agents in Egypt His visit proved profitable, but seduced by the charms of the beautiful courtsan Doricha, who, according to Herodotus, was also called Rhodopis, he prolonged his stay in the city until his profits had dwindled, and he returned to Lesbos penniless. From a II (610-594) Necho Decline of Assyrian power. Necho invades Palestine and defeats Josiah at Megiddo. Advances as far as the Euphrates, but is defeated by Nebuchadrezzar at Carchemish (604) and is forced to evacuate Palestine.
Necho's Phil-hellenism.

II (594-589) Psammetichus to Nubia. Expedition Graffiti at Abu Simbel. Apries (Hophra) (589-570) Subjugation of Phoenicia. Fall of Jerusalem. Flight of Jews with Jeremiah
Apries' "Egyptian" troops

to Greek


at Daphnai.
are defeated.


reaction Anti-Greek Amasis (570-526)

Relations with Croesus,

in Egypt.
Polycrates, and Cyrene.

Cyrene and Cyprus become tributaries of Egypt. Croesus and fall of Sardis. tries to unite Egyptt, Babyylon, Lydia Amasis
common anti-Persian policy.

and Sparta

in a and

tyrant of Samos, abandons his alliance with Amasis, Polycrates, is attacked by Sparta. III (525) Psammetichus Battle of Pelusium and end of XXVIth Dynasty.

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THE RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND EGYPT ^ lost poem39, lately recovered from the sands of Egypt, we learn that the "scandal" had led to violent quarrels between brother and sister. Doricha erected a statue to the memory of Doricha who But the citizens of Naucratis mentioned of honour the had by the great poetess! being tells us, liked to remember Doricha of Later poets, too, as Athenaeus in IHrd the Cent. B.C. of Alexandria her Naucratis. praises Poseidippos
? beauty:

the binding long, Doricha "Long since your bones have mouldered; Of your curls, long all4the fragrance from your robe has passed away. That you flung round fair Charaxos and caught him in its winding And breast to breast lay drinking, until the dawn was grey, But the white page of Sappho lives on and lives for ever, Proclaiming your name also, your name twice blest, the while, shall remember while ships shall breast her river That Naucratis from seaward to the long lagoons of Nile"40. Standing in Legend and tradition Her have done their utmost to immortalise the name of reputation in Vlth Cent. Greece equalled that of Phryne Rhodopis41. in later times. She had been launched on her career in the Greek and Thais it was world of Egypt by an adventurer of Samos called Xanthus. When necessary to rebuild the temple at Delphi, which had been burnt to the ground, sent subscription lists all over the Greek world. At Naucratis the Ddphians the contribution of the courtesan Rhodopis equalled that of the wealthy Greek merchants and even of the Pharaoh himself. A curious story which attributed the building of the Third Pyramid to a woman called Rhodopis was current time. The story in different forms is found among the Greeks of Herodotus' Greek writers. in various Herodotus, who knew that the Pyramid was in fact

Third whom

ascribed the building of the built by Menkara rejects the story. Manetho called Nitokris Pyramid to an Egyptian queen of the Vlth Dynasty, ton kat' auten, xanthe ten chroian") he describes as ("eumorphatate "more beautiful than any of her attendants and of rosy-cheeked complexion." the daughter of Psammetichus There was another Nitocris, I, the most famous of Thebes. Perhaps the later legend, which transferred of all the high-priestesses to the Pharaoh's harem at Memphis, the activities of Rhodopis from Naucratis also gave her the aristocratic Egyptian name of Nitocris, and what popular It has legend had attributed to Nitocris was now transferred to Rhodopis. also been suggested that the Greek used adjective 'rhodopis' by the face of the Sphinx, whom the Greeks Greeks to describe the "red-painted" assumed to be a woman, was later mistaken for the name of the courtesan 39. Pap. Oxyrh. Vol. I. Nos. 10, 13 (p. 11). " 40. Athenaeus translated by F. L. Lucas. Deipnosophistai," 41. Her. II. 135, 180, IV. 152. Strabo XVIII. I. 33. Athenaeus Diodorus I. 64.



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44 UNIVERSITY REVIEW Rhodopis, and so the Sphinx of Naucratis! The story survived for of the Middle Ages, tells haunted by the ghost of travellers of their senses. Rhodope became a portrait of the 'rosy-cheeked' Doricha

an Arab historian many centuries, and Al Murtadi, us that in his time the Pyramid was believed to be a beautiful woman who, by her beauty, robbed all in "The Princess" refers to her: "The Tennyson that built the Pyramid", and Moore had heard of the legend:

"Fair Rhodope, as story tells The bright unearthly nymph who dwells 'Mid senseless gold and jewels hid The Lady of the Pyramid." If the "Lady of the Pyramid" presents some analogy to the stories of the Lorelei, another story narrated by Strabo and Aelian is perhaps the basis of to Aelian an eagle, according to our oldest fairy tale, 'Cinderella'. According sandals when she was bathing in the Strabo the wind, carried off Rhodopis' and deposited them at the feet of the Pharoah. He was so Nile at Naucratis all over Egypt in struck by their beauty that he immediately sent messengers was at found and Doricha of the and last search owner, brought to Memphis favourite the wife. Pharaoh's where she became The later history of Naucratis can be briefly summarised. Under Alexander the Great a new life was imparted to the old Greek cities, but the foundation took away a great deal of the trade and importance of Naucratis. of Alexandria there are indications of its independence and power at this time. For example, it was strong enough to issue its own autonomous coinage. Two coins for of the period have been found with the inscriptions on one side NAY and on the other ALA, probably for Alexandria. Naucratis, the number of city-states was limited to three, Under the Ptolemies Yet and it was these three only which were Alexandria, Ptolemais, and Naucratis, the governor allowed the full political powers of Greek city-states. Cleomenes, in 331 B.C. was born at Naucratis. left in Egypt by Alexander Ptolemy II bestowed special care on the city and its public monuments. From the Zeno papyri we learn that it was the chief port of call on the inland voyage between and Alexandria and a stopping-place on the route between Pelusium Memphis and the capital. The number of Greek men of letters, citizens of Naucratis age and later during the Roman period shows that it during the Ptolemaic continued to be a centre of leisure and study. Among these were Apollonius the Sophist, Julius Pollux, teacher of the Emperor Commodus, and author of and Athenaeus, the "Onomasticon", author of the "Deipnosophistai". end of the the second it had begun to decline, However, century A.D., by and from the evidence of the remains and other sources we may come to the conclusion that, as a city, it had ceased to exist at the beginning of the Illrd Cent. A.D. The excavations of Petrie and others have identified the

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THE RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND EGYPT 45 foundations of many of its temples and public buildings. They have also been rewarded by a wonderful find of Greek pottery and incised dedications and names of the early inhabitants on which are preserved the handwriting of Naucratis. These are of great interest and value, especially to the study of the early Greek alphabets. As they date from as early as 620 B.C., they are, like the inscription at Abu Simbel, among the earliest Greek inscriptions which we possess, and enable us to trace the history of the Ionic alphabet from its infancy. There are also specimens of the Lesbian dialect and alphabet, and, as these specimens are probably within half a century of Sappho's writing, they supply the most trustworthy evidence we now have of the orthography of Sappho herself. will find little evidence of Naucratis Anyone who today visits Kom-el-Ga'ef and its long history of almost a thousand years. But Naucratis had played its part; it had been for centuries the link between the Nile Valley and the countries who were to become the founders of the later civilisation of Europe, but now Alexandria had taken its place as the centre of exchange between East as Pompeius of Mitylene wrote of Mycenae, and West. With Naucratis, worked his of has but the labours "Time, too, will," archaeologists and the texts monuments of have the and uncovered much of what Time decipherment had overlaid. Part of the wider debt which history owes to the work of Petrie and Champollion is our fuller knowledge of the centuries when Naucratis was the great factory whose eyes Egypt site and commercial centre of the Mediterranean through for centuries looked out on the civilisation of Greece.

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