Herodotus' Histories, book 2
summary and comments by Jona Lendering

Fourth logos: Egyptian geography (2.1-34)

After the death of king Cyrus, his son Cambyses becomes the new shah of Persia. His plan to conquer Egypt gives Herodotus the opportunity to dedicate three logoi to the ancient kingdom on the boards of the Nile. In the first logos of Book Two, he gives a description of the country, the desert, and the river Nile. He gives a (rather unconvincing) proof that the Egyptian language is the oldest in the world, explains the inundation of the Nile, and tells several stories about the sources of this river

Fifth logos: Egyptian customs and animals (2.35-99)

In the next logos, Herodotus tells us about the customs of the Egyptians. These are often inversions of Greek customs: women attend market and men do the weaving, the priests shave their hair, they knead dough with their feet and clay with their hands. Next, we learn us about the religion and the festivals of the country along the Nile; and Herodotus concludes with a description of the animals that live in Egypt, such as the holy bull Apis, the holy cats, the holy crocodiles, the hippopotamus, the phoenix and the cobra. Then, Herodotus returns to the Egyptian customs, and explains -among other things- how mummies are made.

Sixth logos: Egyptian history (2.100-182)

The third logos is devoted to Egyptian history. It starts with the first pharaoh Min; Herodotus claims that since this legendary king 330 pharaohs have ruled. He does not mention all of them. He gives some attention to the great conqueror Sesostris, tries to find out about Greek contacts with Egypt at the time of the Trojan War, tells a story about a cunning thief who managed to rob the treasury of pharaoh Rhampsinitus (and after all kinds of adventures marries Rhampsinitus' daughter and lives happily ever after), explains how the pyramids were built, knows of a Ethiopian pharaoh Sabacus and describes the history of Egypt under the pharaohs Necho, Psammetichus, Necho II, Psammis, Apries and Amasis.
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