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The Origin of Memnon

Ammenemes III of Egypt (reigned 18421797) built his mortuary temple,

Herodotus labyrinth (2.148; Armayor 1985), at Hawaret el-Makta{ in the Fayoum,
southwest of Memphis. In describing it, Strabo gives Ammenemes name, }Imnm-h.t (Ammen mhj, Manetho 609 F 2 [p. 32] FGrHist), as IsmXndhj (17.1.37)
if he really means him, for even Manetho could not sort out all the kings of
that nameand says that IsmXndhj built the structure at Abydos called the
Memnonion (17.1.42). In Black Athena, M. Bernal, advancing the idea of
Egyptian-Greek contact at an early period, argues from these data that the most
plausible candidate for the Memnon of Greek tradition is Sesostris son, successor,
co-regent and fellow campaigner, }Imn m h.t/Amenemh.e II (reigned 19291895).1
This paper weighs Bernals idea, asking if Memnon could have had an Egyptian
model, if he could have been Ammenemes II, and if Amenhotep III is a rival
candidate. Certainly reminiscent of Memnon, as we shall see, are the statue of
I presented a version of this paper entitled Le Origini della figura mitologica di Memnone, re degli
Etiopi, at the Universita` degli studi di Siena on 1 April 1998. I am grateful to Maurizio Bettini
for his gracious invitation and to all of those present, especially Gloria DAmbrosio-Griffith, for
their incisive comments, as well as to two anonymous referees for Classical Antiquity. The views
expressed here are, however, entirely my own. My research has been generously supported by
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and by the Advisory Research
Committee of Queens University.
Abbreviations used in this article follow the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed.; in addition,
ABL refers to Haspels 1936, ABV to Beazley 1956, ANET to Pritchard 1969, ARV 2 to Beazley 1963,
EA to the Tell el-Amarna tablets, which I cite from Mercer 1939, KUB to Staatliche Museen zu
Berlin, Vorderasiatische Abteilung 1921-, and PT to the Pyramid Texts, which I cite from Faulkner
1969. All dates in the text of this paper are before the Year One unless otherwise specified; reigns of
pharaohs are dated after Edwards, Gadd and Hammond 1971 vol. 1.2 pp. 99596 and vol. 2.2 p.
1. Bernal 1987, 1991: vol. 1.19, 64 and vol. 2.268. For Manethos confusion over Ammenemes,
see vol. 2.196.

1998 .
-(p); - (e).

: The Origin of Memnon


Amenhotep called the vocal Memnon, the pharaohs name and his biography. In
this task we will meet three related processes: syncretism, whereby preexisting
figures are conflated; derivation, whereby new figures are modelled on an original
as doublets of each other; and confusion, whereby figures share names or common
attributes. Derivation is the opposite of syncretism; confusion a partial form of it.

Memnon is the main character of Arctinus Aethiopis, a dithyramb of Simonides (539 PMG) and an Aeschylean trilogy (fr. 12730, 27980 TrGF).2
From Proclus summary of the Aethiopis (T 3 Davies = Argumentum pp. 6769
Bernabe) and elsewhere in archaic art and verse we can compile a brief biography.3
Son of the dawn-goddess Eos and the mortal Tithonus (Hes. Theog. 985, cf. Od.
5.1, Hymn. Hom. Ven. 21838)4 and king of the Ethiopians, Memnon helped Troy
after the death of the pro-Trojan Amazon Penthesileia, summoned, in one version,
by Teutamus of Assyria (Ctesias5 apud Diod. Sic. 2.22.1, cf. Pl. Leg. 685c). Very
handsome (Od. 11.522) like his father (Hymn. Hom. Ven. 225, Tyrtaeus fr. 12.5
IEG), he wore bronze armor made by Hephaestus (Hes. loc. cit., Pind. Isth. 5.41).
He killed Antilochus as the latter defended his own father, Nestor, whose chariot
had been disabled by Paris arrows (Od. 4.18788, Pind. Pyth. 6.2845), and
was in turn killed by Achilles (Pind. Ol. 2.83). Eos begged Zeus to spare him
(ARV 2 496.5), but a weighing of fates (yuxostas a) during which the matres
dolorosae Eos and Thetis flanked the scales, each pleading her sons case, determined that he must die (ABL 227.28).6 With Zeus blessing, Eos made him
immortal (Procl. loc. cit.).
The Ethiopians, whom Memnon rules, live and often entertain gods (Il. 1.423
24, 23.205207; Lesky 1959 = 1966: 41021) by the river Ocean on the eastern
edge of earth (Mimnermus fr. 12.9 IEG)Memnon is, after all, son of the Dawn.
Ionians may have invented for symmetry the Odysseys western branch of the
tribe (1.2224);7 traditions in languages of the hamito-semitic family also record
two lands of Cush (Egyptian K|s , Akkadian Kasi), one south of Egypt (EA
49.20, Isaiah 11.11, etc.), one by the Mesopotamian river of paradise, Gihon
(EA 76.15, Genesis 2.13). Hecataeus first clearly put the Ethiopians south of
Egypt (1 F 32627 FGrHist), though already Hesiod links them to the Libyans
(fr. 150.1719 Merkelbach-West) and the Odyssey includes them in Menelaus
2. I believe that the Psychostasia was based on the Aethiopis and not on the Iliad and that
it appeared on the same bill with, but was not identical to, the Memnon. Neither point is certain;
see Mette 1963: 10812, and Taplin 1977: 42223 and 43133.
3. Kossatz-Deissmann 1992. Most important of earlier discussions is Lung 1912.
4. On Tithonus, see Kakrides 1930, King 1986, and Segal 1986.
5. Cf. F. Jacoby, FGrHist 1a.528 commentary ad 49 F 6.
6. Lung 1912: 1419, and Arafat 1990: 14749.
7. S. West ad Od. 1.2324 in Heubeck, West and Hainsworth 1988: 75.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

African wanderings (Od. 4.84; von Soden 1959). The rival tradition placing
them in Susa (Hdt. 5.54.2, 7.151) is post-Homeric.8 Also first attested after
Homer is their hundred and twenty-year life expectancy (they are makr bioi,
Hdt. 3.23.1, 114).9
The epistyle block from a temple of Athena found by Schliemann in the
Troad proves that Alexander the Great thought Hisarlk the Troy of legend. Signs
of frequent destruction there, including that of Troy VIIa around 1250 (Hiller
1991), suggest that poets based the legend on an actual conflict and its combatants
on real people.10 So an Egyptian pharaoh could have been Memnons model. The
name Ammenemes, or even IsmXndhj, is hardly like Memnon, but this may not
matter. An Egyptian loan-word in Greek must have been transformed twice, first
in Akkadian, the koine of the period,11 and second in Greek itself. The result in
this case was a good warriors name: M mnwn, The Steadfast or Resolute (LSJ
s.v.). Aiding these processes could have been that m nw, poetically reduplicated
as m mnw, resembles by chance Egyptian mn (cf. Coptic moun, mhn), to be firm,
remain, be established.
That said, three things actively point to an Egyptian model. First is the
yuxostas a. Since Zeus weighs Hectors and Achilles fates to decide which
one must die in the Iliad (22.20914), one might think that he did so often, with
Memnon among others. Not so. The Iliadic saga was not the original subject of
Mycenaean bards, who would hardly have told their king a tale in which he is
abused by a lesser provincial, must apologize to him, and is less brave than many of
his underlings (Page 1966: 254).12 Moreover, the deaths of Patroclus, Hector and
Achilles in the Iliad mirror those of Antilochus, Memnon and Achilles, who die in
this order in the Aethiopis; and Nestor is protected in both, by Diomedes in one
(Il. 8.90117), by Antilochus in the other (cf. Pind. Pyth. 6.2845, cf. Schol. 28a
[2.197 Drachmann]). The question of priority imposes itself. O. Gruppe (1906:
vol. 1.67983) showed that, though the Aethiopis received its monumental form at
Arctinus hands, its story was already known to those who sang the wanderings of
Odysseus (e.g. Od. 11.46770 = 24.1518). H. Pestalozzi (1945) further argued
that Patroclus and Hector are not original and were based on Antilochus and
Memnon, an idea taken up with varying enthusiasm by the neoanalysts J. T.
Kakridis, W. Schadewaldt, G. Schoeck and M. M. Willcock, the last of whom
preferred to think of mutual contamination of two coexisting stories.13 M. E.
8. Goossens 1939: 337 n. 8, Snowden 1970: 15155 and 1983: 4649, and Neiman 1980.
9. Last 1923. Herodotus figure for Ethiopian longevity is not impossible: Jeanne Calment
of Arles, France, lived 21 Feb. 1875 4 Aug. 1997.
10. For recent discussions of the historicity of the Trojan War, see Bloedow 1988, Burkert 1995,
and Hood 1995.
11. Connecting the name, for example, with Semitic n{mn, delightful, an epithet of Adonis;
Bernal 1987, 1991: vol. 2.261 mentions this idea, which he attributes to W. R. Smith.
12. On the emergence of the Achilles-story as the central focus of the Iliad, see Lang 1995.
13. Kakridis 1949: 6595, Schadewaldt 1965: 155202, Schoeck 1961, Willcock 1973: 59 and
1983. See also Kullmann 1981 and 1991, Clark 1986, Edwards 1991: 1519, Slatkin 1991: 1011

: The Origin of Memnon


Clark and W. D. Coulson (1978) argued that Sarpedon, whose killing by Patroclus
starts the Iliadic vendettas, was also based on Memnon, each with an aristeia,
a parent who cannot save him, and a nonpartisan insistence on his death. By this
logic, Zeus first weighed Memnons fate, then Achilles and others (cf. Il. 8.69
75, metaphorically 16.658, 19.223, Theog. 157, Aesch. Pers. 346); certainly, by
weighing Hectors and Achilles fates, he discovers nothing not already known,
and the heroes mothers make more natural advocates (cf. Il. 1.493ff.) than the
Olympians Athena and Apollo (22.186, 203). This, in turn, suggests Egypt as the
source for Memnon, for, as Bernal notes, the weighing of two fates (k re) recalls
the weighing of the deceaseds heart (ib = k r) against the feather of Truth in
the Egyptian underworld, after s/he has pronounced the Negative Confession, a
list of forty-two sins that s/he denies having committed in life. A crucial spell
in the Book of the Dead (125, cf. 30B) describes this judgement of words
(wd{ mdww), and depicts it in the accompanying vignette. Though the date in
the reign of the sixth dynasty (ca. 23452181) Menkare that spell 30B claims
for itself is suspect, it is old. A green siltstone heart-scarab belonging to a high
official named Nebankh, who lived during the thirteenth dynasty (ca. 1710), is
inscribed with spell 30B. Tomb-robbers arrested in 1125 admitted stealing the
jewelry from the neck of the mummy of the seventeenth dynasty (ca. 16501567)
Sobkemsaf II; the only object that would have been around his neck is a green
jasper heart-scarab now in the British Museum (EA 7876), which is also inscribed
with spell 30B.14 R. B. Onians argued that the Egyptian motif differs from its
agonistic Greek counterpart, but E. Wust, B. C. Dietrich and E. Vermeule have
stressed the similarities:15 Osiris, judge and saviour of the dead16 presides over one
weighing, Zeus S thr (Pind. Ol. 5.17 etc.), the father of Dike (Hes. Theog. 902),
conducts the other; one sends people to the second death, qXnatoj de teroj,
in the maw of the Eater of the Dead,17 the other to a literal death. The objects
weighed are homonymous (cf. Quint. Smyrn. 11.105106, who assimilates k r to
k r), and k r can perhaps mean not fate but spirit of the dead (cf. the cry that
ends the Anthesteria, Get out, Keres, the Anthesteria is over! [q raze, K rej,
o k t' Anqest ria] Zenobius 4.33 mss. B and V).18 Moreover, Aristophanes
parodies Aeschylus with a judgement not of fates, but of words (Ran. 1367).
(I owe this reference to Frederic Schroeder), and Burgess 1997. Willcocks notion of doublets is
anticipated by Fenik 1968: 237.
14. C. A. R. Andrews, introduction to Faulkner 1985: 15, and Andrews 1994: 5657. I am
grateful to Dr. Andrews for her kind reply to my query on this subject.
15. Wust 1939, Onians 1951: 39798, Dietrich 1964: 11319, Vermeule 1979: 16062.
16. On Osiris as judge of the dead, see Griffiths 1980: 17384; on Osiris as saviour, see ibid.
17. On Zeus and Dike, see Lloyd-Jones 1971; on the Eater of the Dead, see Borges and Guerrero
1969: 8586.
18. Von Leutsch and Schneidewin 1839: vol. 1.93. The addressees of the phrase in its more
common form are, however, KZrej, Carians; see Burkert 1983: 22630. That the original meaning
of k r was fate is argued by Lee 1961.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

Second is that Memnon was an ally of Penthesileia, for Egyptians portrayed

the god of the yearly Nile-innundation, H
. {py, as a one-breasted male clad in a
loincloth.19 He recalls the Amazons, Egyptizing in their reversal of sex-roles
(Hdt. 2.35, Soph. OC 33740) and love of the bow, if they cut off their right
breasts to facilitate archery and so were called AmXzonej, breastless (e.g. Diod.
Sic. 2.45.3), though the iconographic tradition shows them now mutilated (e.g.
ABV 401.2), now not.20 The Amazons wore zwst rej (loincloths?), the object
of Heracles ninth labour (Epicharmus fr. 82 Austin, Pind. fr. 172.5 Maehler,
Eur. Her. 40818; Schauenburg 1960). Amazons are a cavalry (Eur. Her. 408):
Hippolyte was an Amazon (Stesichorus 193.2526 PMG = PMGF, with Lobels
conjecture), and Hippolytus son of an Amazon (Eur. Hipp. 10), perhaps Theseus
wife, Hippe (Hes. fr. 147 Merkelbach-West). In sound, these names recall H
. {py or
some variant, such as H
. {py t|-mh.w, inundation of the land of papyrus (i.e., the
delta). Their sense indirectly recalls him, too, for Greece is not watered by flood
as is Egypt, but by springs, created either like Lerna (Apollod. Bibl. 2.1.4, cf.
Aesch. fr. 1315 TrGF) by Poseidon, the horse-god (Bacchyl. 16.99, Ar. Nub.
83, Eq. 551), or like Hippocrene by Pegasus, a horse (Hes. Theog. 6).
Third is Memnons surprising apotheosis.21 This suggests an Egyptian provenance, since all dead pharaohs became immortal, for in Egyptian soteriology
everyone was equated in death with the god Osiris to the extent that Osiris
x means the late x (PT 12, etc.; Griffiths 1970: 3536). The dead kings
soul does not join Osiris in the underworld as mere mortals souls do, but ascends the two skies (PT 541; Davis 1985) to join him forever in his celestial abode, the constellation S|h..22 As proof, the Great Pyramid that Khufu
(= Cheops) built at Giza contains two shafts rising from the Kings Chamber
to the pyramids north and south faces (Edwards 1961: 126). Not for ventilation, as scholars once thought, these were to guide his soul by the north star 23
19. Griffiths 1966. A bas-relief from the Birth Room of the Amun-temple at Luxor (ancient
Thebes) shows H
. {py in the company of the god H
. k|w, the personification of magic, who is holding
Amenhotep III and his k|. On H
. k|w, see Te Velde 19691970.
20. Von Bothmer 1957, Tyrrell 1984, Blok 1995, and Dowden 1997.
21. Numerous stories, such as those of Asclepius and Hippolytus, Orpheus and Eurydice, and
Sisyphus, stress that one cannot evade death. Heracles is unique in the status of hero-god brought
about by his apotheosis (Pind. Nem. 3.22, Hdt. 2.44). The concept of immortality is murky, however:
see Talbert 1975, Levy 1979, Anderson 1981, and Clay 19811982.
22. Faulkner 1966: 15759. Southern and summer stars in pharaonic times, the precession of
the equinoxes has since moved S|h. north in the winter sky.
23. The North Star was Thuban (a Draconis; precession has caused Polaris [a Ursae Minoris]
to replace Thuban as North Star in our day); it was, obviously, one of the circumpolar (or, as the
Egyptians knew them, imperishable ihm-sk as contrasted with the merely unwearying ihmw-wrd )

For the Nile-dwelling Egyptians, the natural vehicle in which for the king to make his ascent
to heaven to join the stars was a boat. The Pyramid Texts speak repeatedly of the celestial ferryman,
. r.f-h. |.f , ancestor of the Greek Charon, who carries the deceased to his new home in his boat named
it flies, it alights (p|s hnis, PT 494). The deceased often carried into the tomb scale-model
boats to aid him on the journey; Tut{ankhamun, for example, had fourteen; see Reisner 1913: xxi ff.

: The Origin of Memnon


to S|h..24
Two things suggest that Mycenaeans had met the Osirian faith, which was
centred at Busiris (Bous rij
p-wsir, Hdt. 2.61.1) in the delta twenty-five
kilometres from Mendes, whose goat-cult was known to Greeks (Pind. fr. 201
Maehler, Hdt. 2.46, Plut. Mor. 989a). First, the tale that Demeter failed to burn
off Demopho(o)ns mortality as she wandered in search of Persephone (Hymn.
Hom. Cer. 23155) recalls Isis failure to immortalize Malcanders son by fire
during her quest for Osiris (Plut. Mor. 357B). A formula for warding off scorpionstings alluding to this was wide-spread in Egypt, which suggests that if the tales
are related, the Egyptian inspired the Greek.25 Second, plebeians join Osiris,
who judges their words as Lord of Amenta. Amenta (}Imntt), hellenized
Am nqhj by Plutarch (Mor. 362D), denotes the westernor sunsetbank of the
Nile, traditional site of graveyards, and then realm of the dead, as Sophocles
describes dying souls flying RktPn pr j sp rou qeo (OT 177). The judge
in Hades, Rhadamanthys (Il. 14.322 etc.), whose pre-Greek origin is shown by
the -nq- phoneme, may come from Egypt with its animal-headed pantheon,26 for
Sosicrates claims (461 F 3 FGrHist) that Rhadamanthys coined oaths sworn by
geese, dogs and rams, rather than by anthropomorphic gods (e.g. Ar. Vesp. 83,
Av. 521, Pl. Ap. 22A1, Grg. 482B5, etc.), and Socrates swears by Dog, the
god of the Egyptians (mP t n k na t n A gupt wn qe n, Grg. ibid.)Homers
owl-faced (glauk pij) Athena and cow-faced (bo pij) Hera may echo these
gods.27 Phonologically, the distance from Lord of Am nqhj to Rhadamanthys
is slight.28
The Greeks were perhaps even dimly aware of Osiris stellar home. They
called S|h. Wr wn in epic (Il. 18.486 = Od. 5.274 = Hes. Erga 615, etc.), and in
lyric War wn (Pind. Nem. 2.12, fr. 72 Maehler, Corinna 654 col. iii 38, 662.2
PMG, Callim. Hymn. 3.265, Catull. 66.94) or Oar wn (v.l. Pind. Nem. 2.12;
vide Athen. 11.80 p. 490F codex E, Eustath. Il. 932.42, Od. 1535.50 codex
Cheops and his successor Chephren had five life-sized boats each, one of which was discovered

disassembled but perfectly preserved south of Cheops pyramid on 26 May 1954; see Cerny
and Nour, Osman, Iskander and Moustafa 1960. The deceased pharaoh, like any ancient mariner,
would take his bearings by the stars (cf. Od. 5.27277); the northern shaft of the great pyramid
provided a sort of astrolabe for Cheops for this purpose.
24. Badawy 1964, and Trimble 1964 = 1992: 38. For a more recent, and more controversial
account of the relations of this pyramid with the constellation Osiris, see Bauval and Gilbert 1994,
which (pp. 23741) reprints Trimbles article, and Krupp 1997. Badawy and Trimbles conclusions
are endorsed by Bruck 1995. I am grateful to Brian S. Rickard for several of these references.
25. Burkert 1987: 20, citing Sander-Hansen 1956: 3543.
26. For a (different) Egyptian origin for Rhadamanthys, see Bernal 1987, 1991: vol. 1.63, 84,
and Morris 1992: 181.
27. On Athena, see Schliemann 1875: 54, 11214, Pottier 1908: 546 = 1937: 45473, Leumann
1950: 149, and Marinatos 1968. On Hera, see Pestalozza 1939, and OBrien 1993: 13442.
28. Lord of Amenta is nb }Imntt (Book of the Dead 30B, etc.); Osiris also absorbs the person of
the originally distinct Khentamenthes; I am unaware that Osiris is ever called * rwd }Imntt controller
of Amenta, but this term would account for the exact form of Rhadamanthys.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

A; Scherer 1953: 18889). None of these forms has a tempting Indoeuropean

etymology, in contrast to Orions neighbour, Sirius, home in Egyptian thought
of Osiris sister-wife, Isis, for Se rioj has been related to the stem of se -w,
to shake (hence? to twinkle) and the infix found in Avestan tist-ry-a, star
(e.g. Avesta 8.6, 37).29 Greek abhors hiatus, as proved by the host of means
it evolved to avoid itaphaeresis, contraction, crasis and elisionand even
War wn often undergoes synecphonesis (= synizesis), 30 so the development is
from the lyric to the epic form. The hiatus in the earlier form must mark a
lost semivocalic glide (digamma, cf. e don
* vidon) or voiceless sibilant
(sigma, cf. g neoj
* g nesoj, l ou
* l eso. One possibility entails
the etymologically opaque * Ovar wn, but the other points to * Osor- wn. The
reason is this. There is yet another form of the name: O r wn (Euphorio fr.
101 Powell, Aristomachus apud Hygin. de astr. 2.34, Ov. Fast. 5.535, Nonnus
Dion. 13.99101), accompanied by a tale that says that a certain Hyrieus from
Thebes prayed that he might have a son. Zeus, Hermes and Poseidon visited
him and told him to make a sacrifice that his son might be born. When he
had skinned the sacrificial bull, the gods urinated (=? ejaculated) on the hide
and, on Hermes orders, Hyrieus buried it in the ground. From that place the
promised boy was born, and they called him Orion (Hyriea quendam Thebis voto
petisse, ut filium haberet. penes quem Iovis et Mercurius et Neptunus in hospitio
devenerunt imperaveruntque ei, hostiam deiceret uti filius nasceretur. cuius pelle
bovis detracta dei in eam urinam fecere, iussuque Mercurii terra obruta; unde
supra dictus sit natus, quem Oriona adpellaverunt, Schol. in Germanici Aratea p.
93.13 Breysig = Hes. fr. 148(b) Merkelbach-West, cf. Pind. fr. 73 Maehler).
This story portrays the constellations shape as a rawhide bedding with the
stars Al Nitak, Al Nilam and Mintaka like stains in the genital region (in the
standard view of the constellation they form Orions belt). It also purports to
explain the name with o re n, to make water (cf. Skt. varsati, to rain), itself
a euphemism for me xw, coyly used in this onanistic tale (cf. Anton. Lib.
41.4).31 Just as the epic form of Orions name suggested that he hunted in the
mountains ( n . . . ressi, Od. 11.574), so O r wn likely suggested the tale of
peeing (o re n) on an oxhide rather than vice versa. If so, we can hypothesize
an earlier * Oor wn * Osor wn. * Oor wn may have become Oar wn in lyric
to avoid the unsavouryand sillylink to urine, because Greek (unlike Sanskrit,
for example) prefers variety of vowel-quality,32 or through attraction in Orions

29. Hester 1965: 376, and Chantraine 19681977: vol. 4.994.

30. On hiatus, see Kuhner and Blass 1890: vol. 1.190; on synecphonesis, see West 1982: 12.
31. So Bomer 1958: vol. 2.322 ad Ov. Fast. 5.535.
32. So when one says in French, e.g., Que lon continue, the syntactical value of l is nil; it
serves only to avoid the vulgarity and silliness of quon = con. On variety of vowel-quality, see
Pfister 1948, and Alfonsi 19491950.

: The Origin of Memnon


role as beloved by the pre-Greek33 term for lovers discourse, ar zw; indeed
* ari n would mean one who aims to pillow-talk. As Kron wn (Il. 1.397 etc.)
is to Kr noj, so * Osor wn would be to ^Osoroj, which is attested once in the
simplex as a variant of ^Osirij (OGI 97), and is sometimes found in compounds
(e.g. Pe toJ orX piJ P. Oxy. LV 3779.4, and PetoJ o ronn friJ P. Oxy.
LX 4060.31).34 (Early Greek loan-words typically end in -oj, as A guptoj,
RsXminqoj, lab rinqoj, etc.; Wsir, Coptic ousire or ousiri, would thus have
become * ^Osir-oj, which in turn yielded these forms.) The determinative for
the name S|h., inscribed, for instance, on the north face of the coping-stone from
Ammenemes IIIs pyramid at Dashur, is a man walking with a sceptre, looking
backward and stretching behind him his left hand, which holds the star (Maspero
1902); in other words, the constellation is personified as a giant long of leg and
lengthy of stride (PT 959, cf. Od. 11.572, Job 38.31), and Plutarch tells us
that Orion is the soul of Osiris son, Horus (Mor. 359C, E),35 which would explain
the patronymic.
As for Memnon, if he was pharaoh, he ascended the throne only once his
father had become Osiris in S|h., and Orion, like Cephalus (Hes. Theog. 986)
and Clitus (Od. 15.250), is a doublet of Tithonus, comely and loved by Eosfor
the constellation rises in the east like the dawn (cf. PT 82021)until jealous
Artemis killed him (Od. 5.121). Once dead, he walks the asphodel fields below
(11.572) in a symbol both Egyptian and Indoeuropean for posthumous bliss. 36
Could a Mycenaean really have known such things? Bernal famously holds
Egyptian influence on bronze age Greece to have been early and deep, and I
have argued elsewhere (1993, 1994, 1996, 1997a-c) that Homer supports his
view. Among Mycenaeans, what would those singing the songs that became the
Aethiopis have known? To believe Homer, a stranger arriving in town would, like
Odysseus on Scheria, soon go to the palace. There, not in the streets or stalls of the
market among his fellow itinerant craftsmen (Od. 17.38385),37 would he find

33. Ruijgh 1967: 38687 35859, noting the similarity in Linear B of the syllabogram for wo
( ) and the ideogram for woman ( ), postulates a Minoan word * wo-ar, woman, borrowed by
Mycenaean as * v ar
ar, wife,
ar zw.
34. Dittenberger 1903: vol. 1.17172, who cites the forms OsorZpij, Osoromne ij, and
[Pet]osorbo xij.
35. Griffiths 1970: 372 comments, Orion, however, is usually identified with Osiris and not
with Horus. . . . The nearest suggestion of an affinity between Horus and Orion is [Kees 1943: 426],
citing [Brugsch 18831891: 80] (from the tomb of Sethos I and the pronaos of Denderah), where
Horus is a constellation zwar in der Nahe des Orion. The possible equation of Osiris and Orion
has been suggested by Beaux 1994.
36. In the Egyptian afterlife, the justified live in the sht i|rw, field of reeds, which may have
some connection to the Greek Elysium; see Vermeule 1979: 6982, although Burkert 1961: 20813
proposes an attractive etymology for the name Elysium within Greek itself. For the Indoeuropean
material, see Puhvel 1969 = 1981: 21015.
37. For the bard as itinerant demiourgos, see Burkert 1992: 23.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

a bard, who like later poets (e.g. Pind. Ol. 1.17) enjoyed royal patronage, and
who was the queens protector (Od. 3.26772). (The bards intimacy with her
suggests that he was a eunuch, or, to use a musical term, castrato [cf. Hesych.
Roid j; e no xoj].38 If so, he resembled the spados who held great influence
as harem-officials in Near Eastern courts. D. Page [1972] objects that Homers
bards are blind [cf. Od. 8.64], and so useless as chaperons, but they may have
impaired their otherwise perfect sight while singing to bring themselves closer
to the godsa practice found for instance in Egypt, where written texts give
harpists the standing epithet blind, while some paintings and figurines show
them blindfolded [Manniche 1991: 97107].) Whatever his medical history, and
allowing for aggrandisement in his self-portrait in the Odyssey, the bard was no
mere entertainer, for he prophesied, like the first epic poet, Olen (Boeo fr. 2
Powell), he was remembrancer for the Muses, daughters of Memory (Hes. Theog.
5354) who love to remember (Pind. Nem. 1.12), whose successor, Simonides
was a memory-wizard (Cic. de orat. 2.86 = Simon. 510 PMG), and he advertised
Achaean military might against the treacherous dandies of Troy, and the upper
class against every strident Thersites of the unwashed rabble, and, in short, he
was a cabinet minister or vizier. The bards high standing is clear when Achilles,
who would not dream of sullying his hands with banausic chores, whiles away the
hours of his strike, bard-like, singing the famous deeds of men (Il. 9.18689).
Even if we discount the picture of society that we find in the Iliad and Odyssey
as anachronistic,39 and imagine bards typically living far from the palace, we
must still admit that they met many foreigners. When the Hittite Suppiluliumas
I (reigned 13801340) exiled his wife to the court of Ahhijava (KUB XIV, 2),40
to coordinate the Sea
when Philistine ambassadors came before the king of Danuna
Peoples raids against Syria and Palestine (Albright 1950: 170), or when traders
(or rather pirates, Od. 3.7174) came with Egyptian ivory, ostrich-eggs, scarabs
and mirrors, who knows what perishable goods, and above all news, an interpreter
was needed.41 The only Mycenaean certainly fluent in Akkadian is the bard, for
Greek epic borrows from Akkadian such motifs as the gods division by lot of the
universe (Il. 15.18793 Atra-hasis 1.1118 [cf. Gilgamesh 11.3942 = ANET
p. 93]), the herdsman attacked by his own dogs (Od. 21.36265
6.63 = ANET p. 84), an ox-trotter hurled in insult (Od. 20.299 Gilgamesh 6.159
= ANET p. 85), the link of a magic boat to doves (Od. 12.6165 Gilgamesh
38. Heubeck, West and Hainsworth 1988: 17677. Could Phemius and Demodocus blindness
be a mythic displacement of castration, as in the Oedipus story?
39. Scholars debate whether the epics depict any historical society, and if so, which one. Raaflaub
1997: 628 argues that, since the social background of heroic poetry needed to be modern enough to
be understandable, but archaic enough to be believable, it reflects the social reality of the late ninthand eighth-century Ionia.
40. Gurney 1961: 46, Huxley 1968: 56.
41. An anonymous referee points out to me that an interpreter (ta-ar-ga-ma-an, ancestor
of dragoman) was noted at transactions in Mari centuries earlier, as a translator for Caphtorite
(Cretan?) merchants.

: The Origin of Memnon


11.14654 = ANET pp. 9495), and words such as e ruXguia, wide-wayed to

describe cities (Il. 2.141 etc., cf. rbitim).42 In bronze age Greece, then, those most
aware of foreign affairs were the bards.

As for Ammenemes II as the specific model for Memnon, the period is wrong,
Bernal admits, but one cannot rely on epic chronology: Pyrrhus, conceived while
Achilles was hiding on Scyrus at the wars start could slay Priam by its end, just
ten years later; Nestor never tires of saying that he has seen three generations.
There are, though, two other problems with Bernals idea. First, it relies on a
possible, but entirely unprovable confusion of Ammenemes II and III. Second,
Greek distorted Ammenemes name. Besides Manethos Ammen mhj, Diodorus
gives two forms: M ndhj and MXrroj (1.61.1, cf. Ael. NA 6.7). While Strabos
manuscripts read IsmXndhj (17.1.37), his epitomator reads Ma ndhj (C. Muller,
Geographi graeci minores, vol. 2 p. 632), editors A. Meineke and C. Muller-F.
Dubner emend to ImXndhj, and H. L. Jones suggests further reduction to MXndhj.
The link between Ammenemes III (not to mention his namesake) was Memnon of
the Memnonium of Strabos other Ismandes according to a single word in his text,
which editors judge without apparent bias a scribal error.
Other models for Memnon have been mooted. Humban, master of heaven,
was at some points head of the Elamite pantheon (Hinz 1972: 44). His name
was borne in various forms by several kings including Khumban-numena I, who
reigned in the mid-thirteenth century. A later Khumban-numena (reigned 691
689) appears in the Babylonian Chronicles as Me-na-nu (I iii 1526; Grayson
1975: 80, 221). G. Husing, on the doubtful premise that Susa was the Ethiopians
real home, proposed this king as Memnons model.43 His idea has not won favour.
Sethos I of Egypt (reigned 13181304) built his mortuary temple at Abydos
north of Thebes. This precinct Greeks called a Memnonion (Strabo 17.1.42) and
said that when the Ethiopians learned of Memnons death, they hung wreaths
on its acacia trees (Demetrius 643 F 1 FGrHist = Athen. 15.680b, cf. Plin.
HN 5.60). It was a tourist spot, and in the fifth century they left graffiti there.44
W. Helck (1979: 2) thought that Strabos statement that the Egyptians called
Memnon IsmXndhj (17.1.42) stemmed from a confusion of Sethos with his son,
42. Division of the universe by lot: Schmidt 1981; herdsman attacked by dogs and ox-foot
throwing: Gordon 1952; wide-wayed cities: West 1988: 169. Perhaps relevant is possible Homeric
borrowing from another Semitic tongue, Ugaritic, on which see Ullendorf 19631964, and Brock
1968. West 1997 looks fair to be the definitive study of these relationships for some time to come.
43. Husing 1917: 47, who says that the idea was first proposed by J. Oppert.
44. Perdrizet and Lefebvre 1919, Jeffrey 1961: 355. Sethos prenomen, Mn-m|{t-r{ is almost
identical to that of his predecessor, Amenhotep III, viz. Nb-m|{t-r{, who, as we shall see, was also
connected in antiquity with Memnon. It may be that the Greeks thought they had found Memnon
because they thought they had found Nb-m|{t-r{.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

Ramses II, who finished his tomb. Ramses prenomen, Wsir-m|{t-r{ appears in
the Bogazkoy archive as Ua-as-mu-ua-ri-a (KUB III, 22 verse 1; Edel 1948:
22); Diodorus (1.47.1) gives it as Osumand aj, Shelleys Ozymandias, king of
kings. Ramesside finds on Cyprus (Peltenburg 1986) and LH IIIA 2 - IIIB pottery
in early nineteenth dynasty contexts at Saqqara (ancient Memphis; Hankey and
Aston 1995) show close contact between Ramses Egypt and Greece, so Helck
may be right. Nonetheless, he is forced to suppose a confusion of Sethos and
Ramses, and his case rests only on the tradition of a Memnonion, such as Greeks
found all over the world (cf. Hdt. 5.54.2, 7.151).

All these suggestions are weak one way or another. There remains, though,
a possible Egyptian Ur-Memnon more promising than any discussed so far:
Amenhotep III (reigned 14171379).
C.1. The Vocal Memnon
Amenhotep set up in the Theban necropolis two twenty-metre tall monolithic
self-portraits of quartzose sandstone (Egyptian rwdt, Greek basan thj, Pliny

NH 36.11.58) facing twenty-six degrees south of east,

where the sun rises on
the winter solstice (Lockyear 1894: 78). This orientation on that day per year
when, longest delayed, it was most anxiously awaited, links them to dawn, as
Greeks would have seen, for their temples, too, gave onto the rising sun (Plut.
Vit. Num. 14.4, Lucian De domo 6; Dinsmoor 1939). Like all royal statues, they
would have had an important cult (Helck 1966). The more northerly was broken
in two either by Cambyses II of Persia during his invasion of 525 (Paus. 1.42.3,
Inscription 29 Bernand, etc.) or by an earthquake (Strabo 17.1.46), probably that
of 27 (Hieron. Chron. p. 164 Helm), for quakes are rare in Egypt (Pliny NH
2.82).45 From the part that remained intact about an hour after dawn ( raj a,
ora p(rima) Inscription 3.4, 5.4 Bernand, etc.) on certain days came forth a sound
as though of a slight blow (y foj j ]n plhg j o megXlhj, Strabo loc. cit.),
which one would best compare to the breaking of a guitar- or lyre-string ( n
mXlista e kXsei tij kiqXraj l raj age shj xord j, Paus. loc. cit.). Greeks
called it a statue of Memnon and the whole precinct yet another Memnonium. The
odd noise drew pilgrims and tourists (e.g. Lucian Philopseudes 3334, Toxaris 27,
Tac. Ann. 2.61), who wrote on the statue one hundred and eight Greek and Latin
texts between 20 and 205 of our era. Someone later restored it. A. J. Letronne
thought that it was Septimius Severus when he visited in 170 of our era (cf. S.H.A.
Sev. 17.4), perhaps since the statue, loquacious for Hadrian, did not speak to him
45. The most recent occurred at 3 p.m. local time in Cairo on 12 October 1992, measured 5.3 on
the Richter scale, and claimed at least 340 lives; no damage to ancient monuments was reported
(Manchester Guardian Tues. 13 Oct. 1992 p. 20).

: The Origin of Memnon


(and indeed no inscription marks his visit), and because he hoped to reclaim
the favour of the embattled pagan gods as Stesichorus had done with his palinode
(192 PMG = PMGF; Anonymous 1875). G. W. Bowersock (1984 = 1994: 25366)
noted that the last dated text rules out Septimius as conservator, and puts the lack
of an inscription down to want of available space. He suggests that Zenobia of
Palmyra restored the statue when she conquered Egypt in 272 of the common
era.46 Whoever did it, the repair was disastrous: the noise ceased abruptly, and
the colossi survive to this day in silence.47
As to the noise, Strabo (loc. cit.) suspected fraud, and the motif of living
statues like the figures on Achilles shield, who converse like living mortals
( m leun d' j te zwo broto , Il. 18.539),48 could have inspired someone
to concoct the miracle of a speaking stone (fqegg menoj l qoj, Manetho 609
F 2 [p. 38] FGrHist) based on prior equation of hero and king. E. Salverte
and G. Wilkinson, following Strabo, thought that priests hammered a ringing
stone hidden in the statues lap; yet why not so reward Hadrians wife, Sabina
(cf. Inscription 30 Bernand)? Ancients except Strabo believed the noise a true
miracle. Moderns, though, think it natural. Geological noises exist, for instance,
the song of the sands, the sound of cascading dunes, thought more common
on the moon and Mars than in earthly deserts.49 Rarer but more pertinent is the
sound that air makes passing through pores in solid rock as the temperature rises
at sun-up (MacGillivray 1857: 203204).50 J. Dusaulx suggested two centuries
ago that this explains the Vocal Memnon, and Napoleons scientific commission
and H. Brugsch heard such noises at Karnak.51 If this is right, the statues shape
was crucial. This and its silence after the repair suggest that the noise depended
on the damage, and was not an original property of the statue. As to the damage
itself, scholars tend to write off the first explanation, Cambysian vandalism, as
product of anti-Persian feeling of Greeks or Egyptians, who accused Cambyses
of many crimes, starting with slaying the Apis-bull (Hdt. 3.29). Moreover, had
46. I am grateful to Charles Segal for this reference.
47. Letronne 1833 = 1881: vol. 2.197 with a collection of the Greek and Latin inscriptions,
98236, Hichens 1908: 107119, Wiedemann 1917, Bernand and Bernand 1960, and Gardiner 1961.
48. The inhabitants of Rhodesan important stepping-stone for ideas between Egypt and
Greecewere fabled to have tied their statues feet to keep them from running away (Schol. Pind.
Ol. 7.95a [1.22021 Drachmann]). See Morris 1992: 21537. Emmet Robbins tells me the story
that when Michelangelo finished sculpting his Moses he stood back and so admired its life-likeness
that he struck it with his hammer and said Parla! For talking (unsculpted) rocks, cf. West 1966: 168
ad Hes. Theog. 35. Inscription 19 Bernand compares the phenomenon to the Argo and the oak at
49. Lindsay, Criswell, Criswell, and Criswell 1976, with bibliography. I am grateful to Robert
Dalrymple and Darrel Long for this reference. Curiously in an Egyptological context, similar aeolian
processes fashioned the dreikanters (a species of ventifact) on the Martian surface that are visible
to terrestrial observers as pyramids; see Sagan 1995: 5152.
50. A persistent search and consultation with geologists have failed to disclose more recent
discussion of this curious phenomenon.
51. Brewster 1831: 50811, Brugsch 1879: vol. 1.431, Curzon 1886: 281 = 1923: 11819.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

he wished to destroy the statues, why break only one? The blame rests, then,
with the quake.
Since Greeks explained the noise as Memnon greeting his mother (Philostr.
Imag. 1.7.3, Callistratus Descriptiones 9), some think they first called the statue
Memnon after 27,52 while for others the noise chanced to confirm established
legend (Grimal 1992: 224). If it resulted from the damage, and the damage
occurred in 27 (and we have seen reasons to believe both), the second view is
right, for three papyri in Turins Regio Museo Egizio (nos. 5, 7 and 11) call
the precinct the Memnoneia already in the sixth year of the co-regency of
Cleopatra III and Ptolemy IX Soter II (i.e. 112/1).53 Furthermore, the statue
greeted the dawn from the start, as its orientation shows. (After the nineteenth
dynasty, Hittites drove the Egyptians from the Aegean. Never again until Greeks
founded Naucratis around 610 did they re-encounter Egypt.54 It is no surprise,
then, that we hear of the Vocal Memnon first in Ptolemaic times.)
C.2. The Name Amenhotep
If the noise but confirmed a prior equation, one might guess that the equation
stems from similar names. As to sound, the pharaohs nomen, }Imn-h. tp, Amun is
pleased, is transliterated Am nwfij (Manetho op. cit., Turin Papyrus 6.56, 7.3),
or Am nwq (Balbilla, Inscription 29.3 Bernand)55 and his prenomen, Nb-m|{t-r{,
Ra is the lord of truth, appears in the Amarna tablets twelve times as Mi-immu(-u)-ri-ia (26.8 etc.). The linking of Amenhotep to Memnon might involve
this prenomen, because Greek graffiti in the twentieth dynasty Ramses VIs tomb
call him Memnon, since, as J. Baillet first saw, Ramses shared Amenhoteps
prenomen.56 As to sense, Amenhoteps names were theophorous, containing those
of the gods Amun and Ra, who were different facets of the sun, and, according
to Philostratus, certain Egyptian priests claimed that Memnon was named after
his mother (Rp t j mhtr j ponomXz wn , VA 4). Eos differs from the sun
less than first appears. The Egyptians portrayed the sun as a falcon-headed man
called Horus of the horizon, and as a part of his reformation, Amenhoteps heir,
Akhenaten moved his government in its sixth year north to a new site, modern
Amarna, which he named Akhetaten, horizon of the sun-disk. Its hieroglyph (N
27 in A. Gardiners sign-list) shows that the word horizon in both names means
the place of sunrise. In other words, the sun was most revered at dawn. Conversely,
52. E.g. Courtney 1980: 593 ad Juv. 15.5.
53. Wilcken 19271957: vol. 2, no. 189, 191 and 192 (pp. 19097), quoted by Gardiner 1961:
54. Well, almost never. Coldstream 1977: 79 describes the 8th-century Isis-grave at Eleusis,
so called because it contained a figurine of the Egyptian goddess as well as other objects of Egyptian
55. For variants of the name, see Gardiner 1957: 435 n. 1a.
56. Gardiner 1961: 97. Wiedemann 1917: 6465 mentions Champollions derivation of Memnonium from Egyptian mnw, monuments; mnw is itself a derivative of mn, to be firm, etc.,
discussed above.

: The Origin of Memnon


Greek often uses H j generally for day or daylight, as in Homers line, the
j and the sun (Il. 5.267)
horses of Aeneas. . . are the best of all horses under
and Vergils Aurora goes with the sun in his chariot all the way across the sky
(Aen. 6.535). Eos resembles Amun-Ra all the more for anyone rash enough to
think that Akhenatens rayed sun-disk inspired Homers formula rosy-fingered
dawn, ododXktuloj H j (Griffith 1993).
C.3. Amenhotep as the Model for Memnon
It is hard to imagine that Greeks conflated Amenhotep with a preexisting
Memnon, because their names were, at best, vaguely similar. They might, though,
have modelled Memnon on him. This view was advanced, after a suggestion of
C. Smith, by P. Gilbert.57 Perhaps since Gilbert put his case in an Egyptological
journal, classicists have unwisely ignored it.58
We can state Gilberts four points in light of recent evidence. First, Amenhoteps Aegean contact is proved by nine scarabs and vases found at Mycenae
bearing either his cartouche or that of his wife, Tiy,59 by the twelve Aegean sites
named in his mortuary temple at Kom el-Heitan just west of the colossi, including Messenia (Mdn), Nauplia (Nprj), and even Mycenae (Mwkn), for it would
be perverse to think of the namesake Cretan town (cf. Vell. Pat. 1.1.2, Pliny
HN 4.59) when Amenhoteps cartouche was found on objects at the city in the
Argolid,60 and by LH IIIA 2 - IIIB pottery found in a tomb from his reign at
Gurob, and at Amarna.61 This evidence must be seen in the context of Mycenaean
travel as far afield as Spain (and perhaps even Britain).62 Though he called himself
as part of his Horus name k| nht h{ m w|st, Strong-bull-arising-in-Thebes,
it was with Memphis that Amenhotep had closest ties: as heir-apparent, he was
likely priest at the Ptah-temple there, and as pharaoh he built himself a shrine
next door (Morkot 1990). Ptahs temple gave its name to Memphis, H
. wt-k|-pth.
(Book of the Dead 15.1 etc.), which, on Brugschs palmary hypothesis,63 Greek
borrowed, via Akkadian Hi-ku-(up-)ta-ah (EA 84.37, 139.8), as A guptoj (cf.

57. Smith 1892: 465, and Gilbert 1939: 4849.

58. Gilbert is not mentioned, for example, in Bernals 1987, 1991 discussion. See, however,
Lloyd 1976: vol. 1.121. Goossens 1939 was written primarily as a response to Gilbert.
59. Cf. Pendlebury 1930: 56, and Wace 1932: 198.
60. Kitchen 1966, Faure 1968, and Cline 1987 and 1990.
61. Gurob: Stubbings 1951: 94; Amarna: Merrillees 1973. In general, see recently Hankey
62. On Spain, see Morris 1992: 117. On Britain, see Stone 1958: 99. Evidence for Mycenaeans
in Britain is above all the carving of a dagger on stone 53 of trilithon 2 of Stonehenge in Wessex
discovered by R. J. C. Atkinson in 1953, the closest parallels to this form of dagger being those
from the shaft-graves at Mycenae. Herodotus Tin Islands (kassit ridej, 3.115) may have been
the British Isles; see Rice Holmes 1907: 48398, and Stella 1965: 196 n. 8. Tin, of course, is a
basic ingredient of the bronze that gave its name to the period of Greek culture with which this paper
is concerned.
63. Brugsch 1954: vol. 1.83; quoted with approval (e.g.) by Gardiner 1947: vol. 2.124 and
211, and Bernal 1987, 1991: vol. 1.95, vol. 2.443.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

Linear B a3 -ku-pi-ti-jo KN Db 1105), meaning both Nile (Od. 3.300 etc.) and
Egypt (17.448 etc.).
Second, Memnon was Priams ally, as Amenhotep married to cement military
pacts with eastern sovereigns (marriage and military pacts are linked in Greek epic
in the oath of Tyndareus, Hes. fr. 204.6984 [4046] Merkelbach-West, cf. Il.
9.33739). As well as his great kings wife, the Egyptian Tiy, Amenhotep married Giluhepa, daughter of Suttarna II of Mitanni, an event commemorated in a series of scarabs (Blankenberg-van Delden 1969: 12933), Tadu-Kheba(t), daughter
of Tusratta of Mitanni, and the daughter of Kadasman-Enlil of Babylonia64 (recall
Diodorus claim that Memnon was an Assyrian ally at Troy, for Assyria was still
part of Babylonia). Proof that Amenhotep dominated these alliances is that he
refused to marry his own daughter to Kadasman-Enlil (EA 4.67).
Third, Memnon was son of Eos, as Amenhotep claimed descent from AmunRa. As with any pharaoh, the first name of his royal protocol was the Horus-name
that cast him as Horus, sun-god and first pharaoh, incarnate, and the fifth and last
name, the nomen, included since Djedefre, a pharaoh of the fourth dynasty, the
phrase s|-r{, son of Ra (Gardiner 1957: 7274). But Amenhotep was Amun-Ras
son in a special sense. Bas-reliefs on the west wall of the Birth Room (room
R in Baedekers plan) of the Amun-temple at Luxor show the god coming to
Amenhoteps mother, Mutemuia, disguised as his earthly father Tuthmosis IV
and begetting him.65 The accompanying text reads in part (Campbell 1912: 25):
Saith [Amon-Ra, King of gods] Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands,
Presiding over the Apts66 (Karnak): He hath made his forms (appearance)
like the majesty of this husband, King of Upper and of Lower Egypt,
Ra-men-Kheperu (Thothmes IV), Giver of Life: [he found] her reclining
on her couch in the beauty of her palace; she waked at the odour of the
god;67 she was glad before his majesty; he advanced towards her at once,
he . . . to her, he made her see him in his form of god when he came
upon her;68 she exulted at beholding his beauty; his love went into her

64. Grimal 1992: 223. A fuller list of dynastic marriages involving princesses of Arzawa,
Enisasi and Ammia is given by Schmidt 1993: 159. See also Kitchen 1962 and Schulman 1979.
65. Issleib 1909, Campbell 1912: 149, and Baedeker 1914: 25861.
66. I.e. ipt-swt, most select of places, the sacred name of Karnak.
67. The idea that gods have a special odour was to have a long history in Greek thought (e.g.
Theoc. 7.16, Ap. Rhod. 4.40334, Anacreontea 1.8, 13, Verg. Aen. 1.403404). See Lohmeyer 1919,
Schmid 1923, and Boumoure 1983.
68. The gods appear naked before the dead pharaoh (PT 303, 488). By contrast with the
idea of odour, the notion that gods could appear undisguised to mortals is foreign to Greek, as to
Hebrew thought. When gods walk the earth, they are disguised (Od. 17.48587, Ov. Met. 1.21213,
8.611724, Plaut. Amphitryo, cf. Acts 14.12) and one looks upon them in their true form at ones
peril (e.g. Pind. Ol. 2.25, Eur. Bacch. 612, Exodus 33.1823, Ezek. Ex. 101, Apul. Met. 5.23).
Similarly, they wear clothes (Xenophanes 21 B 14 Diels-Kranz) and cannot be seen naked with
impunity (Eur. Hipp. 86, Apollod. Bibl. 3.4.4) until Praxiteles broke this rule by sculpting the nude
Cnidian Aphrodite (Pliny NH 36.20). See Rose 1956: 65, Dietrich 1983, and Hollis 1990: 34154.

: The Origin of Memnon


members; the odours of the god flooded the palace (?); all his fragrance
was from Punt.
Whether Amenhotep spread this story through shame at his descent (A. Erman
1890 thought that Mutemuia was Mitannian)69 or from blind devotion to his
eponymous Amun is unclear. The only known precedent is the miraculous
conception of Hatsepsut shown in the Amun-temple at Der el Bahri. On the
strength of the story, Amenhotep adopted the sobriquet the Dazzling Sun-Disk,
which was not a standing, but an idiosyncratic title, like Louis XIV of Frances
le Roi-Soleil. No Greek hearing the tale would think of Memnon; what comes
to mind is Zeus tryst with Alcmena disguised as Amphitryon and the birth of
Heracles (Apollod. Bibl. 2.48, Plaut. Amph. passim), a story very rich, as M.
Bettini (1994) has shown, in highly interesting cultural models. But Zeus is no
sun-god, and to keep Amun-Ras solar character while telling the story, a Greek
must have twisted it. We have already seen that Amun-Ra resembled Eos. This
would explain why Memnons divinity is on the distaff side, for H j is feminine,
as is also sometimes the North Semitic word for sun, sms.70 Moreover, the
maternal family, the more important in a heros pedigree and education,71 is the
fitter to be divine.
Fourth, Amenhotep is handsome in his portraits, like Memnon (Od. 11.522)
and unlike Akhenaten, who seems a victim of adiposogenital dystrophy (Frohlichs
syndrome)obese and epicene (Aldred 1968: 134).
One point Gilbert neglects. Amenhoteps real father was Dh.wty-ms, Thoth

has begotten him, hellenized as To qmwsij (Manetho 609 F 2 [p. 39] FGrHist),
a name resembling Tiqwn j. That Tithonus ages but never dies, and suffers
greatly from this misfortune (Hymn. Hom. Ven. 21838) recalls Ethiopian
longevity, changed in Greek fashion to a warning against striving for immortality (cf. m , f la yuxX, b on RqXnaton spe de, Pind. Pyth. 3.6162). Pharaohs
were not long-lived, but, as Mycenaean bards perhaps knew (Burkert 1973),
were fierce archers, often being buried with their bows. The laminated, nonhomogeneous bows of the eighteenth dynasty (MacLeod 1958) are longer than
the simple weapons they replaced, and H. Last mused that in dubbing the Ethiopians makr bioi, ostensibly long-lived, Herodotus was confusing bi j (bow)
and b oj (life).72

69. For her biography, see Pridik 1942.

70. E.g. mar [Sa]mas [s]a ti-ra-am Samas , (the king is the) son of the Sun, whom the Sun
loves, (EA 323.2223), where ti-ra-am is a feminine form of the verb ramu, to love. Cf. wattabo{
lahem hassemes , and the sun set upon them (Judges 19.14) where wattabo{ is third person feminine
imperfect qal of the verb bo.
71. Bremmer 1983, and Robbins 1993: 1112.
72. Last 1923. Makr bioj is first used (in the sense long-lived) in Hdt. 3.23, 114 (cf.
makrob otoj . . . a -/ n, long life, Aesch. Pers. 26263); the meaning long-bowed is first
attested in Et. Mag. 3.23 s.v. bioj.


Volume 17 / No. 2 / October 1998

V. Loret found Amenhoteps half-rotten mummy, and G. E. Smiths autopsy

early in our century showed that he died probably in his forties of natural causes; 73
yet, as Osiris Nb m|{t r{, he became immortal like Memnon. Amenhotep never
waged war in Asia Minor or elsewhere, save for a minor action against the Nubians
at Ibhat in the Sudan; yet his propagandists amplified that one campaign, so that
even Eusebius knew that in his reign Ethiopia was in contact with Egypt (Chron.
53F [vol. 7 p. 38b Helm]).74

In short, Bernal argues well that epic based Memnon on a real person, rightly
seeks him in Egypt, but fails to rule out Amenhotep. In the compound, familiar
ghost that is Memnon, whatever Ammenemes role, folk-memory of Amenhotep
must loom large.
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