Chapters 1-38: The reign of Cambyses and the Persian campaign against Egypt

Chapter 1

1.1 ejpi; tou'ton dh; #Amasin: It was against this Amasis then... Herodotus thus resumes his account of Cambyses' expedition into Egypt (note the use of the `resumptive particle' dhv). The account began in the first chapter of Book 2, but was at that point interrupted by Herodotus' lengthy digression on Egypt - which as we've noted occupies the remainder of the book. In the last eleven chapters (172-82) Herodotus introduces us to the Egyptian king Amasis, under whose long reign, from 570 to 526 B.C., Egypt was reputed to have enjoyed great peace and prosperity. This is the king who now faces the might of the army of Cambyses.

a[gwn....Aijoleva": Literally: leading both others whom he ruled and, from (among) the Greeks (!Ellhvnwn is a partitive gen.), Ionians and Aeolians.

tw'n is an Ionic relative pronoun (gen. plur.) equivalent to Attic w|n. (Note that except for the nom. case the Ionic relative pronoun always begins with t, and is thus identical in form to the corresponding cases of the definite article.) The gen. is here used after a verb of ruling.

The Ionians and Aeolians were the easternmost of the Greek peoples. Ionia was a region along the central part of the western coast of Asia Minor, roughly between Smyrna (modern Izmir) and Miletus. It also included the islands off the coast in this region. The region received its name from Ionian migrants who had resettled there after coming from mainland Greece around 1000 B.C. It became subject to Persia in 546 B.C., the year in which Cyrus defeated and destroyed the empire of Lydia, until then the dominant power in western Asia Minor. The Aeolians were another group of Greek peoples who established settlements in western Asia Minor and the offshore islands some time during the 11th century B.C. Their settlements lay north of Ionia, between the region called the Troad (where Troy was located) and the Hermus river.

ai[tee #Amasin qugatevra: He asked Amasis for his daughter. ai[tee is the 3rd sing. imperf. indic. of aijtevw, equivalent to Attic h]/tei. Note the two Ionic features of the verb: omission of augment, and the uncontracted vowels. Note also the double accus. after the verb of asking.

ejk boulh'": in accordance with the advice (of)...

o}" memfovmeno"....tw'n ejn !Aijguptivou: Literally: (an Egyptian) who bearing a grudge against Amasis did this (tau'ta looks forward to the action described in the next sentence) - because (Amasis) having torn him away (min ajpospavsa"), out of all the doctors in Egypt, from his wife and children, handed him over (e[kdoton ejpoihvse) to the Persians, when Cyrus having sent to Amasis asked him for an eye-doctor who was the best of those in Egypt:

More freely: The Egyptian was harbouring a grudge against Amasis, for when Cyrus had sent to Amasis asking for the best eye-doctor in Egypt, Amasis had selected this man out of all the doctors in the country, torn him from his wife and children, and handed him over to the Persians. (To satisfy his grudge) this is what he did:

Note the Ionic forms: e[prhxe, min, ijhtrw'n = Attic e[praxe, aujtovn, ijatrw'n respectively.

Egyptian doctors had for many centuries enjoyed an international reputation for their medical skills, as illustrated by Herodotus' comments in 3.129 on the reputation enjoyed by Egyptian doctors in the Persian court of Darius. 700 years earlier, doctors had on several occasions been sent by the pharaoh Ramesses II to the Hittite kingdom to attend to various members of the Hittite royal family. We also learn from Egyptian-Hittite correspondence that Ramesses sent ointments to the Hittite king Hattusili for treatment of a chronic eye disease from with the latter suffered. (This may have been in response to a request not unlike that made by Cyrus.) Particularly because of the prevalence of ophthalmia in Egypt, one would expect that Egyptian doctors had considerable experience in dealing with diseases of the eye.

Herodotus, in 2.84, provides his own comments on the vigorous pursuit of medicine in Egypt.

1.2 ajniw'/to, the 3rd sing. pres. opt. pass. of ajniavw (grieve, distress"), is used in a purpose clause introduced by i{na. So too ajpevcqoito at the end of the sentence. For a summary of purpose clauses, see JACT p. 304.

th'/ dunavmi tw'n Persevwn ajcqovmeno" kai; ajrrwdevwn: Literally: weighed down and fearful (i.e. grievously afraid) because of the power of the Persians...

ajrrwdevwn = Attic ojrrwdw'n, which is the pres. partic. of ojrrwdevw, "shrink from, be fearful".

ei\ce is the 3rd sing. imperf indic. of ejcw, which is used with an infin to mean "be able". oujk reinforces the following negatives ou[te...ou[te...: Amasis was neither able to give (his daughter) nor withhold her.

1.3 !Aprivew (of Apries) illustrates the Ionic gen. sing. ending -ew (= Attic -ou) of 1st decl. masc. nouns ending in -h" (here !Aprivh").

Apries was king of Egypt from 589-570 B.C.

mouvnh = Attic movnh.

ou[noma oiJ = Attic o[noma aujth'/ (her name). oiJ is a possessive dat.

Given that Apries died c. 570 and Cambyses succeeded to the throne of Persia in 530, Nitetis would have been at least 40 when this event allegedly took place.

ajpopevmpei: Note the switch to the pres. tense, often used in Greek for narrating past events, to give greater vividness to the account. In such contexts we use the term "historic present tense". We use this tense in English for the same purpose, but generally in a more colloquial context.

1.4 patrovqen ojnomavzwn: calling her by her father's name

diabeblhmevno"....manqavnei": you do not perceive that you have been duped by Amasis.

manqavnw is here followed by a participial construction, as regularly used with verbs of perceiving; see JACT pp. 170-71, sec. 156.

ejou'san....ejfovneuse: Literally: being in truth (the daughter) of Apries, whom (tovn = Attic o{n) that man (i.e. Amasis) slew, being his master (i.e. when he was Amasis' master), having risen in rebellion with (the rest of the) Egyptians.

ejpanastav" is the aor. partic. of ejpanivstamai, "rise up in revolt".

1.5 aijtivh = Attic aijtiva.

The highly personal motive attributed to Cambyses for his expedition against Egypt is a characteristic feature of Herodotus. In fact as Herodotus tells us in 1.153.4, the subjugation of Egypt was already part of the intentions of Cambyses' father and predecessor Cyrus. How & Wells note that Cyrus' lust for conquest as illustrated in 1.153 and Egypt's alliance with Lydia (1.77) were fully sufficient causes for a campaign of conquest. However, the campaign may also have reflected the necessity of gaining control of Egypt to ensure that the coastline of Syria-Palestine remained under Persian rule. (thus Dewald)

Chapter 2

2.1 oijkhieu'ntai (variant readiings include oijkhiou'ntai, oijkeiou'ntai etc.) is the 3rd plur. pres. indic. midd. of oijkhiovw (= Attic oijkeiovw), "make one's own", and in the midd. "claim as one's own".

How & Wells comment that the story that Cambyses was the son of an Egyptian princess (recorded by two writers, Dinon and Lyceas of Naucratis) "is due to the vanity of a conquered nation claiming a share in its conqueror".

Ku'ron ga;r ei\nai... The accus. and infin. construction follows from favmenoi.

2.2 ouj me;n oujde; levlhqe: :Literally: It has not escaped their notice neither (that)...

More freely: They are fully aware that...

Note that the statement with mevn has no balancing dev statement. This is a not uncommon feature of Herodotus' style.

levlhqe is the 3rd sing. perf. indic. act. of lanqavnw, "escape the notice of". The use of the negative ouj with the virtual negative word levlhqe produces a strong affirmative. We use the term litotes to refer to a strong affirmative produced by a combination of two negatives.

eij ga;r....AiJguvptioi: Literally: for if any others also know the customs/laws of the Persians, so (do) Egyptians

To bring out the full sense of these words, we need to translate along the following lines: for no people have a better knowledge of Persian law than the Egyptians

ejpistevatai = Attic ejpivstantai, the 3rd plur. pres. indic. of ejpivstamai. -(e)atai, and -(e)ato are regular 3rd plur. midd. and pass. endings, equivalent to Attic -ntai, -nto.

sfi = Attic aujtoi'".

gnhsivou pareovnto": there being a legitimate (son) (gen. absolute)

Kassandavnh was the wife of Cyrus.

oijkivh/ suggeneve" = Attic oijkiva/ suggenei'". The latter is typical of the Ionic uncontracted endings in the 3rd declension.

Chapter 3

3.1 kai; tau'ta me;n w|de e[cei (So much for that (story)) simply rounds off the Egyptian version of Cambyses' origin before Herodotus moves on to relate another version - which he similarly does not believe (ejmoi; me;n ouj piqanov"). In contrast to Thucydides, who very seldom provides alternative versions of various episodes, or the sources of his information, Herodotus might be criticised for going to the other extreme. Many of his alternative versions are patently false, sometimes ludicrously so. Yet they often have the merit of being entertaining yarns - which may well be the main reason why Herodotus, always conscious of the entertainment value of his composition, has no hesitation in including them. This feature of the history, though it provoked the scorn of Thucydides, was all the more important since Herodotus frequently sought to make himself and his work known through public recitations, for example at Athens and no doubt at Olympia when the games were in progress.

parestew'ta = Attic parestw'ta, the perf. partic. of parivsthmi, "stand beside", used here with the dat. Kassandavnh/.

eujeideva = Attic eujeidh'.

uJperqwmavzousa = Attic uJperqaumavzousa: excessively admiring

3.2 mevntoi indicates agreement with what has just been said, and then begins a statement which seems to conflict with this: (Yes), and yet...

ejou'san (= Attic ou'san) here has concessive force: (though) being the mother of such children...

ejpivkthton ("acquired") is here feminine, referring to Nitetis (the adj. is a two-termination one; i.e. its masc. and fem. forms are identical).

th;n me;n....eijpei'n Kambuvsea: The accus. and infin. constructions are used to indicate that these words are part of the story which Herodotus is relating - which he himself does not believe.

3.3 toigavr toi: Well then,... The enclitic toi strengthens the word toigavr to which it is attached, which frequently begins a speech or narrative.

ejpea;n ejgw; gevnwmai ajnhvr: When I become a man... Temporal clauses referring to fut. time take the subjunct. with a[n. genwvmai is the 1st sing. aor. subjunct. of giv(g)nomai.

Aijguvptiou....a[nw: Literally: I shall make the upper regions (ta; a[nw) of Egypt the lower (regions) and the lower regions the upper (regions). That is to say: I shall turn Egypt upside down. Note the use of the adverbs a[nw and kavtw as virtually equivalent to adjectives.

wJ" here = "about" (as commonly with numerals).

e[tea = Attic e[th ("years"); kou = Attic pou which here means "about, approximately".

ta;" ...genevsqai: the women were amazed.

Chapter 4

4.1 sunhvneike = Attic sunhvnegke, the 3rd sing. aor. indic. act. of sumfevrw. The 3rd sing. is here impersonal, with the meaning "it happened (that)", followed by the infin. genevsqai.

ejpikouvrwn are the Carian and Ionian mercenary troops who fought in Amasis' service, referred to (for example) in 2.152, 154, 163.

gevno", gnwvmhn, and ta; polemikav are all accusatives of respect: (Halicarnassian) by birth, .... (sound) in judgment,....(valiant) in war.

Halicarnassus was in Caria, and thus Phanes was one of the Carian mercenaries who fought for Amasis. How & Wells suggest that Herodotus may have learnt this story as a child, since he too was a Halicarnassian.

Scholars have drawn attention to a large bowl found at Naucratis (the Greek merchant settlement in Egypt) which bears an inscription indicating that it was dedicated by a Phanes, son of Glaucus. This may be the same man as the Phanes who figures here.

4.2 memfovmeno" kouv ti !Amavsi: perhaps having some grudge against Amasis,

ejkdidrhvskei (= Attic ejkdidravskei), "he runs away, escapes" is another example of the use of the historic present tense for vivid narration of a past event.

oi|a can be used to introduce a participial construction indicating cause. Here: Seeing that he was (oi|a ejovnta) ..... ejovnta and the following ejpistavmenon are accus. after metadiwvkei.

lovgou ouj smikrou': of no little account... That is to say, Phanes was held in considerable esteem amongst the mercenary forces. lovgou ouj smikrou' is another example of litotes. The gen. is used to indicate price or value.

ejpistavmenovn....ajtrekevstata: Literally: knowing most exact things with respect to Egypt.

That is to say: having a thorough knowledge of Egyptian affairs.

spoud;h;n poieuvmeno" (= Attic poiouvmeno"): being eager (+ infin.)

eJlei'n is the aor. infin. act. of aiJrevw, "capture". The aor. partic. of this verb appears below.

ejn Lukivh/: Lycia lay in south west Asia Minor. Its western border adjoined Caria. In this period it had recently been subjected to Persian overlordship, and might therefore be considered by Phanes to provide him with a safe haven from his Egyptian pursuers.

perih'lqe is the 3rd sing. aor. indic. of perievrcomai, which basically means "go round", but can also have, as an extension of this, the sense of "getting round" someone by trickery or deception.

4.3 oJrmhmevnw/ is the dat. sing. masc. of the perf. partic. pass. of oJrmavw, "set in motion, urge on". In the passive, this verb means "hurry, start off eagerly" or simply (as here) "being eager".

ajporevonti....diekpera'/: Literally: (to him) being-at-a-loss (ajporevonti) as to his march (e[lasin), how (o{kw" = Attic o{pw") he was to cross the waterless (land)

More freely: But since Cambyses was in some perplexity as to his route and how he was to cross the waterless region

Although diekpera'/ could be the 3rd sing. pres. indic. of diekperavw, it should here be construed as a deliberative subjunctive, i.e. one that indicates perplexity or uncertainty about what to do (see JACT p. 233, sec. 207, p. 307).

w|de parainevwn....parascei'n: Literally: advising thus: (him) having sent (a messenger) to the king of the Arabians to ask (the king) to provide to him safe passage.

More freely: with this advice - that he should send a messenger to the king of the Arabians with the request that he provide him (Cambyses) with safe passage.

(aujto;n) pevmyanta....devesqai is an accus. and infin. construction following parainevwn.

The Arabians thus referred to are the nomadic peoples living between Egypt and the Euphrates river. Apparently Herodotus assumed that a single king ruled over all these peoples.

Chapter 5

5.1 mouvnh/ tauvth/: By this (place) alone...

ou[rwn = Attic o{rwn (note change of breathing), is gen. after the preposition mevcri. The word is used in reference to a country's borders or a city's limits.

povlio" (gen. sing.) = Attic povlew". Distinguish povlio" from the adj. poliov", "grey, hoary".

Cadytis is generally identified with modern Gaza, though it has also been equated with Jerusalem. The former is much more plausible, particularly since the implication seems to be that it lies in a coastal region.

ejsti + gen. here means "belongs to".

Suvrwn tw'n Palaistivnwn kaleomevnwn: the people called the Palestine Syrians. Herodotus here as in a number of other places distinguishes the Palestine Syrians from the Phoenicians (compare what he says in 7.89). In particular he is referring to the Philistines, who had settled in the region some time after the collapse of many of the Late Bronze Age civilizations in the 12th century B.C.

5.2 Sardivwn is gen. of comparison after ejlavssono". Sardes, or Sardis, was the capital of Lydia in western Asia Minor.

The location of Jenysus is unknown.

How & Wells note that the Serbonian lake lay parallel to the sea on the east coast of Egypt, and that it was greatly feared because of its swampy shores. It is now completely dried up.

o[ro" commonly means "mountain", but here refers to "a sand dune of moderate height which lay at the boundary between Syria and Egypt." (Newmyer) Distinguish o[ro" from o{ro", "boundary".

5.3 ejn th'/: in which. th'/ is the Ionic form of the dat. sing. fem. relative pronoun (= Attic h|/).

tovn Tufw' kekruvfqai is accus. and infin. after lovgo": (in which) the story goes that Typho was hidden.

Typhon was a monster defeated by Zeus (see also 2. 144), and in the tradition recorded by Hesiod (Theogony 868) consigned to Tartarus, the lowest region of the Underworld. In Homer's version, however, he was buried in Arima in Cilicia in south east Asia Minor (Iliad 2.783). In another version his place of confinement was Mt Aetna in Sicily. He also came to be identified with the Egyptian god Set, and this gave rise to the legend of his burial in the Serbonian marsh or lagoon, which lay to the east of the Delta.

ajpo; tauvth" h[dh Ai[gupto": I.e., this marsh marks the beginning of the country of Egypt.

o{son...oJdovn: as much as a three-day journey

Chapter 6

6.1 ejnnenwvkasi (= Attic ejnnenohvkasi) is the 3rd plur. perf. indic. of ejnnoevw, "have in mind, be aware of".

e[rcomai fravswn: I am going to tell of.... e[rcomai + fut. participle is one of the ways of expressing the fut. tense, the so-called "periphrastic future", as an alternative to the more common simple future form - much as in English "I am going to tell" as an alternative to "I shall tell".

prov" is here an adverb meaning "besides, in addition".

di;" tou' e[teo" eJkavstou or di! e[teo" eJkastou'? There is some doubt from the manuscript tradition as to the precise reading of these words, and no clear consensus among modern scholars. If we read the former, the translation would be: twice in each year; if the latter, through each (and every) year. When you read the next few sentences, you might agree that the context probably favours the latter.

keinov" = Attic kenov", "empty". Distinguish from the form kei'no", which is the Ionic and poetic equivalent of the pronoun ejkei'no".

e[sti is here the impersonal 3rd sing. meaning "it is possible", followed by the infin.: it is (not) possible to see...

wJ" lovgw/ eijpei'n: an infin. absolute expression which has no grammatical link with the rest of the sentence. Translate so to speak, .....

6.2 kou' = Attic pou'.

ajnaisimou'tai is the 3rd sing. (used here with the neut. plur. subj. tau'ta) pres. indic. pass. of ajnaisimovw, "use up".

A demarch was a local official subordinate in rank to the nomarch, the governor of one of the administrative districts of Egypt. 

The site of ancient Memphis lies to the south of modern Cairo, near the head of the Nile Delta. It had served as the capital of Egypt under the Pharaohs, and following the Persian conquest of Egypt it became the headquarters of the satrap installed there by the Persian king.

plhvsanta" is the aor. partic. of pivmplhmi, "fill (with)" followed by the gen.

ejpifoitevw literally means "come frequently", and when used of foreign goods "be imported regularly".

ejpi; to;n palaio;n (kevramon): (the pottery is carried to Syria) to (be put back into) the original (stock).

Chapter 7

7.1 ou{tw ....parevlabon Ai[gupton: Thus it was now the Persians who as soon as (ejpeivte tavcista) they gained control of Egypt, prepared this entry into Egypt, in the way indicated (kata; ta; eijrhmevna), having loaded (pots) with water.

More freely: Thus as soon as they had gained control of Egypt, the Persians then made provision for entry into the country in the manner indicated, by filling pots with water.

savxante" is the aor. partic. of savttw, "load"; here "fill" would be more appropiate.

7.2 tovte dev = "but at that time" (i.e. when the Persian invasion was being planned). tovte dev balances mevn nun in the preceding sentence.

ejovnto"...eJtoivmou is gen. absolute.

kw = Attic pw.

to;n !Aravbion: Supply basileva.

dehqeiv" is the aor. partic. of the deponent verb devomai, "ask", followed by the gen. th'" ajsfaleivh" (which also goes with e[tuce): having asked for safe passage he obtained it.

pivsti", "pledges" is an accus. plur. form (= Attic pivstei"), as also in 8.1.

Chapter 8

8.1 sevbontai....mavlista: Literally: The Arabians respect pledges similarly (o{moia) to those among men (respecting pledges) especially.

More freely: No people show greater respect for pledges than do the Arabians.

tw'n boulomevnwn....eJstewv": Literally: A man different from those wishing to make a pledge, standing between them both

ta; pistav is used here simply as a variant of pivsti". eJstevw" is the Ionic perf. partic. of i{sthmi.

daktuvlou" tou;" megavlou" are the thumbs.

krokuvda is the accus. of krokuv", "piece of wool".

ajleivfei....eJptav: he smears with blood seven stones lying in between.

The number seven has mystical associations in a number of ancient civilizations of the Near and Middle East (Babylonian, Persian, Phoenician, Hebrew etc.) and has well known Biblical associations (e.g. Genesis xxi 29).

"By the mixture of blood the stranger was admitted to fellowship with the tribe, or if an Arab of a different clan, to fellowship with the clan." (How & Wells)

Oujranivhn, "the Heavenly One" is an epithet used of the goddess Aphrodite.

8.2 oJ ta;" pivsti" poihsavmeno": the man who has made the pledge

h]n pro;" ajsto;n poih'tai: if he makes (the pledge) with a fellow-countryman.

dikaieu'si = Attic dikaiou'si, here used of binding oneself to honour a pledge that has been given.

8.3 tw'n tricw'n...fasiv: they say that the cropping of the hair...

tricw'n is the gen. plur. of qrivx, "hair".

kourhvn is a cognate accus. with keivresqai. In its basic sense, a cognate accus. is a noun or substantive which completes the sense of a cognate, or related verb. Compare in English expressions like "fight the good fight".

katavper...kekavrqai: Literally: just as (they say) Dionysus himself to have cut (his hair).

katavper = Attic kaqavper, "just as".

kekavrqai is the perf. infin. midd. of keivrw.

keivrontai peritrovcala: they cut round-about; that is to say, with a circular trim (thus Newmyer).

uJpoxurw'nte" tou;" krotavfou": shaving the temples beneath (the hair).

"It was in cutting the hair on the temples that the Arabs were different from the Greeks." (How & Wells)

Oroltat has been explained as the sun or the star Saturn, or as perhaps a form of the Semitic god Ba¢ al, Alilat as the moon and the evening star.

Chapter 9

9.1 w\n = Attic ou\n, which as Newmyer notes, has here a resumptive function, marking a return to the main narrative.

ajpigmevnoisi = Attic ajfigmevnoi", the dat. plur. masc. of the perf. partic. of ajfiknevomai, "arrive at".

ajskou;" kamhvlwn....pavsa": he filled camel skins with water and loaded them upon live camels

h[lase is the 3rd sing. aor. indic. act. of ejlauvnw, "drive".

J.M. Cook notes that a century and a half before this the Assyrian king Esarhaddon had likewise had the benefit of camel trains crossing beyond Gaza loaded with water-skins.

9.2 rJhqh'nai is the aor. infin. pass. of ejrw'.

The reason Herodotus gives for relating the "less credible" tale - ejpeiv ge dh; levgetai - is in itself scarce justification for doing so. His ulterior motive is quite clearly the story's entertainment value as a colourful, exotic anecdote, irrespective of its historical credibility. Arabia certainly does not have, nor ever did have, such a river as described by Herodotus in the following lines.

tw'/ (= Attic w|/) is the relative pronoun, dat. of possession with ou[noma (= Attic o[noma).

9.3 rJayavmenon....a[nudron: Literally: From this river it is said that the king of the Arabians, having fastened-together (rJayavmenon) a conduit (ojcetovn) of cowhides and other skins, in length sufficient-to-reach (ejxikneuvomenon) the waterless (region), conducted (ajgagei'n - aor. infin. of a[gw, in the accus. and infin. construction after levgetai) water through these, and in the waterless (region) had great reservoirs dug (dexamevna" ojruvxasqai) in order that having received (dekovmenai = Attic decovmenai) they might retain the water.

a[gein min (= Attic aujtovn) is an accus. and infin. construction with levgetai, understood from the beginning of the section.

Chapter 10

10.1 The Pelusian was the easternmost mouth of the Nile.

10.1 Psammenitus, or Psammetichus, is the Greek form of the Egyptian name Psamtik. The man in question is Psamtik III who became king after the death of his father Amasis but reigned for only one year, from 526 to 525. He was the last member of Egypt's 26th Dynasty.

10.2 ejn toi'si: in which period. toi'si is a relative pronoun = Attic oi|".

sunhneivcqh is the 3rd sing. aor. indic. pass. of sumfevrw, which in the passive can have (as here) the meaning "happen, turn out".

ejtavfh is the 3rd sing. aor. indic. pass. of qavptw, "bury".

ejn tw'/ iJrw'/ - the temple of Neith, a goddess worshipped at Sais in the Egyptian Delta, and equated with the Greek goddess Athene. Herodotus tells us in 2.69 that this temple was used by the citizens of Sais (a town in the Delta) to bury all the kings who belonged to their nomos (administrative district).

The priest of Neith at this time was a man called Udjahorresnet, who was also commander of the Egyptian fleet. Some valuable information about the aftermath of the Persian conquest is provided by an autobiographical inscription in hieroglyphs on Udjahorresnet's statue, now in the Vatican. The statue was set up in Neith's temple at Sais probably during the reign of Darius I, i.e. c. 519 B.C. Its inscription is discussed in some detail by A.B. Lloyd, "The Inscription of Udjahorresnet, a Collaborator's Testament", in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 68, 1982, 166-80. Udjahorresnet collaborated with the Persian invaders, and as a result enjoyed substantial advancement in his career under the Persian regime. One of the inscription's underlying elements is its author's attempt to provide some justification for cooperating with his country's invaders.

tafhv ("burial") in the plur. means "burial place". tafh'/si is here the antecedent of the (Ionic) rel. pronoun tav".

10.3 ejpi; Yammhnivtou....Aijguvptou: While Psammenitus, son of Amasis, was ruling Egypt,... Don't be confused by the string of genitives. Yammhnivtou basileuvonto" is gen absolute, used here with epiv to express time; tou' !Amavsio" = "the (son) of Amasis"; !Aiguvptou is gen. after basileuvonto" (verbs of ruling are regularly followed by the gen.).

u{sqhsan is the 3rd plur. aor. indic. pass. of u{w, "rain (upon)".

Qh'bai aiJ Aijguvptiai: Thebes in Egypt. This was the capital of Egypt during the period of the Egyptian New Kingdom, 1570-1085 B.C. The epithet Aijguvptiai is used by Herodotus to distinguish this city from the Greek city of Thebes in Boeotia.

oujdama uJsqei'sai: Literally: in no way having been rained upon. The negative is reinforced by the preceding ou[te.

to; mevcri ejmeu': up to my own time. ejmeu' = Attic ejmou'.

ta; a[nw th'" !Aiguvptou: the upper (parts) of Egypt - i.e. Upper Egypt, that part of Egypt lying south of the Delta. Note the common use of the adverb a[nw as an adjective.

The statement made by Herodotus in this sentence is not in fact true. Upper Egypt did, and does get some rainfall, though admittedly it is very slight and very infrequent. Its occurrence at Thebes, as reported by Herodotus, was remarkable enough for it to be regarded as a divine portent.

yakavdi: with drizzling rain.

Chapter 11

11.1 wJ" sumbalevonte": in order to engage in battle. sumbalevonte" is the (uncontracted) fut. partic. of sumbavllw. For wJ" + fut. partic. to express purpose, see JACT pp. 176-77, sec. 160.

ajllovqroon agrees with stratovn.

11.2 kataleleimmevnoi is the perf.. partic. pass. of kataleivpw.

kata; e{na: one at a time

e[sfazon ej" to;n krhth'ra: they cut their throats over the bowl. This was not simply a punishment for Phanes, but served also as a form of oath-binding for those who took part.

11.3 ejmpiovnte" tou' ai{mato": having drunk of the blood. ejpiovnte" is the aor. partic. of ejmpivnw, "drink up", used here with a partitive gen., as is common with verbs of eating, drinking, and tasting.

pevsontwn....pollw'n: Literally: and many in number having fallen from both camps

pevsontwn is the aor. partic. of pivptw.

ejtravponto is the 3rd plur. aor. indic. midd. of trevpw, which here has the meaning "turn about, flee".

Chapter 12

12.1 tw'n ga;r ojstevwn....pesovntwn: Literally: for the bones having been separately scattered around of-those-of-each-side (eJkatevrwn) having fallen in this battle

perikecumevnwn is the perf. part. pass. of pericevw, "pour around'.

cwri;"...tw'n !Aiguptivwn: Literally: for the bones of the Persians lay separately (in one place), just as they were originally separated (i.e. where the armies had originally taken their separate positions), and (the bones) of the Egyptians (lay) in another place (eJtevrwqi).

We might translate the above more freely thus: The bones of those who had fallen in this battle on each side were separately scattered - the Persian bones lay in one place, the Egyptian bones in another, reflecting the separate positions which the armies had originally taken up.

eij qevloi"....diatetranevei": If you should wish to strike them with only a pebble, you will pierce (them)

diatetranevei" (= Attic diatetranei'") is the 2nd sing. fut. indic. act. of diatetraivnw, "make a hole in".

The conditional sentence refers to fut. time. However, we have a "mixed" fut. condition here. The optative in the "if clause" (the protasis) indicates a future remote or improbable condition (see JACT p. 166, sec. 151). However the fut. indic. in the main clause (the apodosis) has a more vivid sense, underlining the certainty with which a single pebble-blow will pierce a Persian skull.

ou{tw dhv ti: to such a surprising degree (Newmyer).

diarrhvxeia" is the 2nd sing. aor. opt act. of diarrhvgnumi, "break".

12.2 kai; ejmev g! eujpetevw" e[peiqon: A typical example of Herodotean gullibility, too great a willingness to accept without question stories told by the locals? No doubt Herodotus was handed this piece of information during his travels in Egypt. It is not of course the Egyptian custom of shaving the head that is in doubt, and there is in fact evidence to indicate that the ancient Egyptians really did have hard skulls. What Herodotus was perhaps too ready to accept is the explanation given for this alleged physiological phenomenon.

pro;" to;n h{{lion pacuvnetai to; ojstevon: the bone thickens from exposure to the sun.

12.3 twjuto;....ai[tion ejsti: This is also the reason for their not going bald. twjutov = to; aujtov "the same".

12.4 touvtoisi....kefalav": This is the reason why they have strong skulls.

skihtrofevousi: they keep their head covered

pivlou" tiavra": The felt caps are a well known and frequently depicted item of Persian headgear. However, the Persians did not wear their hats all the time, and certainly not when they went to bed, as Herodotus implies in the story he tells in Chapter 69 below.

ei\don....Livbuo": Literally: I also saw other things like these in Papremis, (in the case of) those (Persians) being slain along with Achaemenes, son of Darius, by Inarus the Libyan.

Achaemenes, the Persian commander in Libya, was killed in the course of an uprising in Libya in 459 B.C. The uprising, led by the Libyan Inarus and supported by Athens in a disastrous expedition to Egypt (as recorded by Thucydides, 1.104, 109-10, 112, according to whom the Athenians lost some 250 ships), was ultimately put down by the Persians, and Inarus was taken prisoner. (He was apparently allowed to live for another five years, but was eventually handed over to the Persian queen mother Amytis who had him impaled for killing her son Achaemenes.)

This particular reference by Herodotus enables us to date his visit to Egypt to the period after the Libyan rebellion, i.e. sometime after the mid 450s.

Chapter 13

13.1 kateilhqevntwn is a gen. absolute with aujtw'n understood: they having been driven into Memphis

e[pempe....Pevrshn: Literally: Cambyses sent upriver a ship of Mitylene (the chief city on the island of Lesbos) bearing a herald, a Persian man...

neva is an Ionic accus. sing. = Attic nau'n. In form and accentuation, it is identical to the nom. fem. sing. of nevo", "new".

prokaleovmeno" is the (uncontracted) fut. partic. of prokalevw, "call forth, invite". The fut. partic. is here used to indicate purpose.

13.2 ejkcuqevnte" is the aor. partic. pass. of ejkcevw, "pour forth". In the passive, this verb can be used intransitively (i.e. without a direct object) to mean (as here) "stream forth".

aJleve" = Attic aJlhv", "in a mass".

tou;" a[ndra" kreourghdo;n diaspavsante": having torn the men apart in the manner of a butcher

13.3 parevsthsan is the 3rd plur. aor. indic. of parivsthmi, here used intransitively with the meaning "surrender".

proseceve" Livbue": These are the Libyans west of Egypt. Herodotus has more to say about them in 4.168.

ejtavxanto is the 3rd plur. aor. indic. midd. of tavssw, "arrange, organise".

deivsante"...Livbue": having the same fears as the Libyans

Kurhnai'oi kai; Barkai'oi: the people of Cyrene and Barca. Cyrene, founded as a Greek colony about 630 B.C., lay on the north coast of Africa. Barca was located to the south east of it.

Chapter 14 Dewald comments that this and the following chapter contain the first real anecdote about Cambyses, and the first sign of behaviour that becomes increasingly pathological.

14.1 Kambuvsh"....toiavde: Literally: Cambyses, having deposited Psammenitus, the king of the Egyptians, who had reigned for six months, in the outskirts of the city (proavsteion) as an insult (ejpi; luvmh/), having deposited this man along with other Egyptians, he resolved-to-test (the imperf. diepeira'to + gen.) his spirit (by) doing thus:

kativsa" = Attic kaqivsa", the aor. partic. of kaqivzw, "cause to sit down, set down/deposit".

14.2 steivla" is the aor. partic. of stevllw, which here has the meaning "deck out, array".

ejp! u{dwr: to fetch water

ejstalmevna" is the accus. plur. fem. of the perf. partic. pass. of stevllw.

14.3 parh'/san is the 3rd plur. imperf. indic. of pavreimi, "go by". We might here translate it as "come before".

ajntebovwn te kai; antevklaion: they cried and wept in-response (ajnti-)

kekakwmevna is the perf. partic. pass. of kakovw, "treat badly".

e[kuye ej" th;n gh'n: he bent (his head) towards the ground. By this gesture, he avoided giving any outward sign of grief.

14.4 deuvtera is here the adverb, "next".

oiJ to;n pai'da: his (i.e. Psammenitus') son. oiJ is possessive dat. (to him).

aujcevna" kavlw/ .....ejgkecalinwmevnou": Literally: bound with rope with respect to (their) necks and having been bridled with respect to (their) mouths

More freely: with their necks bound by ropes and with bits in their mouths.

aujcevna" and stovmata are accusatives of respect. ejgkecalinwmevnou" is the perf. partic. pass. of ejgkalinovw, "put the bit in the mouth of".

14.5 h[gonto....ajntapovllusqai: This illustrates a recurring theme in Herodotus: "Initial injustice gives rise to reciprocal violence, which may be called tivsi", or `retribution' if one is theologically inclined, but which Herodotus sees as part of the natural order of the human world." (Dewald) The retribution theme is repeated by way of summary in 15.4 below.

poivnhn tivsonte": in order to make atonement. tivsonte" is the fut. partic., used here to express purpose, of tivnw, "pay (a penalty)".

Mutilhnaivwn is a partitive gen. with toi'si: for those of the Mytilenaeans

ajpolomevnoisi is the dat. plur. of the aor. partic. midd. of ajpovllumi: (for those) having perished.

oiJ basilhvioi dikastaiv: This is a panel of Seven Royal Judges, described by Herodotus in Chapter 31.

uJpe;r ajndro;"....ajntapovllusqai: Since a Mitylenaean trireme had a crew of 200, this meant that some 2000 Egyptians were executed.

14.6 o} de; ijdw'n....qavnaton: Seeing them passing by and perceiving that his son was being led out to death

ijdw'n and maqwvn, as verbs of perceiving, are followed by a participial construction; see JACT pp. 170-71, sec. 156.

tw'n a[llwn....poieuvntwn: A gen. absolute construction, used here with concessive force: Though the other Egyptians sitting with him were weeping and greiving,

deina; poieuvntwn: The phrase deina; poiei'n means (according to the context) "take it amiss, grieve, be indignant".

twjuto;...qugatriv: Literally: he did the same thing (twjutov = to; aujtov) which (tov = the neut. rel. pronoun) also (he did) with regard to (ejpiv) his daughter.

14.7 parelqovntwn....kathmevnou" Aijguptivwn: Literally: These too having passed by, it happened that (sunhvneike w{ste) among his close companions (sumpotevwn, literally "drinking companions; the gen. is partitive) there was a somewhat elderly (ajphlikevsteron) man having been driven from (ejkpeptwkovta) his possessions and having nothing except (eij mhv) how much a poor man (might have), and begging of the army, passed by Psammenitus, son of Amasis, and those of the Egyptians sitting in the outer part of the city.

More freely: When these too had gone on, it happened that a certain man passed before Psammenitus, son of Amasis, and the Egyptians who were sitting in the outer part of the city. This man had been one of Psammenitus' close companions but was now somewhat elderly and had lost all his possessions. He was reduced to poverty, and was begging from the troops.

sunhvneike is the (impersonal) 3rd sing. Ionic aor. indic of sumfevrw. (What is the Attic equivalent?) sunhvneike w{ste is followed by an accus. and infin construction (a[ndra...parievnai).

ajphlikevsteron = Attic ajfhlikevsteron, the comparative of ajfh'lix, "elderly".

oiJ (after sumpotevwn) is a possessive dat. sing. (to him, his).

ejkpeptwkovta is the accus. sing. masc. of the perf. partic. of ejkpivptw, which literally means "fall out of", and by extension "be driven from" one's country or (in this case) one's possessions.

ejplhvxato is the 3rd sing. aor. indic. midd. of plhvssw, "strike".

14.8 aujtou' fuvlakoi: men-set-to-watch over-him (Psammenitus)

ejx ejkeivnou here means by him.

ejp! eJkavsth/ ejxovdw/: Literally: at each marching forth

eijrwvta = Attic ejrwvta.

aujtovn = Psammenitus.

14.9 to;n...proshvkonta: a poor man who is quite unrelated to you

14.10 o} me;n....o} d(ev)...: the messenger....Psammenitus...

ta; me;n oijkhvia...ajnaklaivein: Literally: (My) personal (oijkhvia = Attic oijkei'a) griefs were greater than so as to lament

More freely: My personal sufferings were too great for tears

o}" ejk pollw'n....oujdw'/: Literally: who, having fallen from abundance and good fortune into poverty, arrives at the threshold (oujdw'/) of old age.

tau'ta wJ" ajpeneicqevnta: when these things having been reported. ajpeneicqevnta is the neut. plur. of the (Ionic) aor. partic. pass. of ajpofevrw, which here has the meaning "report".

eu\ dokevein sfi eijrh'sqai: Literally: (these things) seemed to them to have been spoken well, (as it is told by the Egyptians),...

More freely: they considered the words were justly spoken

The infin dokevein (= Attic dokei'n) is due to the fact that it occurs in what is virtually a reported statement, represented by an accus. (implied) and infin. construction..

sfi is the Ionic dat. plur. of sfei''", referring to Cambyses and his retinue. (Occasionally sfi is found as a dat. sing. If that is the case here, then it would refer to Cambyses alone.)

14.11 Though as a parenthetical phrase wJ" levgetai uJp! Aijguptivwn is not grammatically linked with the rest of the sentence, it influences the casting of the sentence into indirect speech, with a series of accus.and infin. expressions (dakruvein Kroi'son, ejselqei'n oi\kton tinav, (Kambuvshn) keleuvein).

Croesus was the last king of the Lydian empire of western Asia Minor, reigning from about 560 to 546 B.C. His reign came to an end with the destruction of his kingdom by Cyrus the Great. Lydia then became part of the Persian empire. In one tradition, Croesus was killed when the Persians occupied his capital Sardis. However in another version, obviously adopted here by Herodotus, he subsequently became a loyal vassal of Cyrus and his son Cambyses.

ejteteuvcee...Ai[gupton: Literally: for this man also had happened having accompanied (= to have accompanied) Cambyses to Egypt.

ejteteuvcee is the 3rd sing. pluperf. indic. (with uncontracted Ionic ending) of tugcavnw, which is used here, as regularly, with a participial construction.

ejpispovmeno" is the aor. partic. midd. of ejfevpw, "go after, follow, accompany, attend upon", followed by the dat.

tovn oiJ pai'da: his (i.e. Psammenitus') son. oiJ is possessive dat.

keleuvein: Understand "his attendants" as the object of this verb. ajnasthvsanta" agrees with this implied object. The infins. swvzein and a[gein are dependent on keleuvein: (Cambyses) ordered (the attendants) to save (Psammenitus' son)....and having taken up him (Psammenitus) from the city-outskirts, to bring (him) before himself (i.e. Cambyses).

eJwutovn = Attic eJautovn.

Chapter 15

15.1 eu|ron is the unaugmented 1st sing. aor. indic. act. of euJrivskw. Augments are frequently omitted with Ionic forms.

metivonte" is the nom. plur. of the partic. of mevteimi, "go after, go to seek". perieovnta is the accus. sing. of the (Ionic uncontracted) partic. of periveimi, which here means "survive, be alive".

katakopevnta is the accus. sing. masc. of the aor. partic. pass. of katakovptw, "cut in pieces, slaughter".

tou' loipou': for the future

diaita'to is the 3rd sing. imperf. indic. pass. (without augment) of diaitavw, which in the passive means "live (a certain kind of life)".

15.2 eij de; kai;....ejpitropeuvein aujth'": If he had also had the sense to mind his own business, he would have won back Egypt to the extent of being governor of it (i.e. on behalf of Cambyses).

hjpisthvqh is the 3rd sing. aor. indic. pass. of ejpivstamai, "know"; with infin, "know how (to)".

poluprhgmonevein (= Attic polupragmonei'n) means "to be meddlesome".

The aor. tenses in the apodosis and protasis of this conditional sentence indicate an unfulfilled condition relating to past time. See JACT p. 179, sec. 162.

ejpitropeuvein, as a verb of ruling/governing, is followed by the gen. aujth'".

w{ste ejpitropeuvein is a result construction; see JACT pp. 228-29, secs. 200-02.

ejwvqasi is the 3rd plur. perf. indic. of e[qw, "be accustomed (to)". The perf. tense is frequently used with the force of a present tense, often indicating a general truth, custom, practice.

tw'n, eij kai;....ajrchvn: Literally: of which (kings), even if they rebel against them, nevertheless they give back their rule to their sons.

tw'n is the Ionic relative pronoun.

ajpostevwsi (= Attic ajpostw'si) is the 3rd plur. 2nd aor. subjunct. of ajfivsthmi. In the passive and 2nd aor., this verb can have the meaning (as here) "rebel against" (+ gen.).

When you are analysing this sentence, you will see that it doesn't quite hang together grammatically, though the sense is clear. The technical term for a sentence which lacks grammatical sequence or coherence is anacoluthon.

15.3 polloi'si....poievein: Literally: From many other (instances) it is possible (ejstiv) to conclude (staqmwvsasqai) that they have become accustomed (nenomivkasi) to do this thus (as indicated).

ejn de; kai;...Pausivri: Literally: including (ejn) especially (kaiv) both (te, balanced by kaiv before tw'/ Amurtaivou Pausivri at the end of the sentence) (the case of) Thannyras, son of Inarus, who regained the power which (thvn, rel. pronoun) his father held (oiJ is possessive dat.), and (the case of Pausiris), son of Amyrtaeus.

Thannyras and Pausiris (their names are not attested in inscriptions) were presumably allocated district governorships in the Delta after the deaths of their fathers. Inarus has been referred to in 12.4 above. Amyrtaeus was ruler of Lower Egypt and a participant in Inarus' rebellion.

kaivtoi...ejrgavsanto: And yet no-one ever did the Persians greater harm than Inarus and Amyrtaeus.

!Inavrw and !Amurtaivou are gens. of comparison.

ejrgavsanto is used with a direct object Pevrsa" and an internal accus. kakav.

15.4 nu'n de;......ejteleuvthse. See note on 14.5.

ajpistav"...h{lw: Literally: for he was captured (while) causing the Egyptians to revolt.

ajpistav" (= Attic ajfistav") is the pres. partic. of ajfivsthmi, here used with the meaning "cause to revolt".

h{lw is the 3rd sing. aor. of aJlivskomai, here with the meaning "be captured".

ejpavisto": "heard of, discovered".

ai|ma...paracrh'ma: having drunk bull's blood, he immediately died.

pivwn is the aor. part. of pivnw.

This allegedly was the way the Athenian commander Themistocles died (as recorded by Plutarch in his Life of Themistocles, Chapter 31). The blood was believed in antiquity to coagulate in the drinker's throat and thus choke him.

Chapter 16

16.1 ejkevleue: The object of this verb has to be understood, both here and in the next sentence - something like "attendants". In translation it might be better to convert the following infins. which are dependent on ejkevleue from active to passive: He gave orders for Amasis' corpse to be carried out......and to be flogged (mastigou'n), and also for its hair to be pulled out (ajpotivllein) and (for the corpse) to be prodded with goads (kentrou'n) and abused (lumaivnesqai) in all other ways.

A little more freely: He gave orders for Amasis' corpse to be carried out, and for every kind of abuse to be inflicted upon it, such as flogging, tearing out its hair, and prodding it with goads.

trivca" ajpotivleein: "This is evidently a Greek statement, and not derived from Egyptian priests. There was no hair to pluck out, the head and the body of the kings and priests being shaved." (Rawlinson)

ta\lla pavnta is an internal accus. with lumaivnesqai.

16.2 oJ ga;r dh; nekro;"....dieceveto: Literally: for the corpse, since being mummified, resisted (ill treatment) and did not fall apart

a{te, basically the accus. neut. plur. of o{ste, is used as an adverb meaning "since, seeing that" followed by a participle.

As Newmyer comments, mummified bodies were in fact quite brittle.

katakau'sai is the aor. infin. of katakaivw, "burn up"

ejntellovmeno" oujk o{sia: giving a sacrilegious command.

In the Classical tradition, Cambyses stands accused of gross impety towards Egyptian cults. However in his autobiographical inscription, Udjahorresnet, priest of Neith in the temple where Amasis was buried, absolves Cambyses of sacrilegious conduct. It may be argued that this was simply a reflection of his pro-Persian sympathies and his own self-interest (see the note on 10.2 above). None the less, as Lloyd points out, contemporary Egyptian texts confirm the stance taken by Udjahorresnet in his inscription. In Lloyd's view, the Classical tradition "probably reflects little more than hostile priestly propaganda generated by the restrictive fiscal measures applied by Cambyses to certain Egyptian temples.... Cambyses made a genuine attempt to reconcile the Egyptians to Persian rule by adopting the traditional role of Pharaoh with all its implications" (reference as in 10.2, p. 173). J.M. Cook takes a similar line, maintaining that Cambyses did his utmost to conform to Egyptian traditions as his father had done with Babylon (The Persian Empire, p. 48).

Pevrsai...pu'r: Herodotus has already alluded to this deification of fire in 1.131.

16.3 to; w\n katakaivein...estiv: Literally: Therefore the burning-up-of (to; katakaivein) corpses is customary (ejn novmw/ ejstiv) in no way to neither (people - i.e. the Persians and the Egyptians). The double negatives, as regularly in Greek, reinforce rather than cancel out each other.

Pevrsh/si: dat. in apposition to oujdetevroisi

di! o{ per ei[rhtai: for indeed the reason stated

!Aiguptivoisi is dat. of agent with nenovmistai.

tav (rel. pronoun after pavnta) per a[n lavbh/: whatever it takes hold of

plhsqe;n de;....katesqiomevnw/: Literally: and having been sated (plhvsqen - aor. partic. pass. neut. of plevw; followed by the gen.) with food, dies along with (sunapoqnhvskein + dat.) what it has fed on.

16.4 Distinguish ou[koun (not therefore) from oujkou'n (therefore).

dia; tau'ta tariceuvousi: and for this reason they mummify it. It was important to preserve the body from decay or despoliation in order to ensure that the deceased could survive and enjoy life in the next world, which contained all the material appurtenances of this world.

katabrwqh'/ is the 3rd sing. aor. subjunct. pass. of katabibrwvskw, "devour". The subjunct. is used in a purpose clause introduced by i{na mhv.

oujdetevroisi nomizovmena: contrary to the customs/beliefs of each people.

16.5 ajlla; a[llo"....!Amavsi: but another Egyptian, having the same build as Amasis

Note that hJlikivh (= Attic hJlikiva) here means "build, physical stature", not (as more commonly) "age".

tw'/ lumainovmenoi....lumaivnesqai: Literally: insulting whom (tw'/ is rel. pronoun, dat. after lumainovmenoi) the Persians thought (themselves) to be insulting Amasis.

16.6 puqovmeno"....givnesqai: Literally: (they say that) Amasis having learnt from an oracle things about to happen concerning himself having died

puqovmeno" is followed by the partic. mevllonta, as is regular in an indirect statement after a verb of knowing or perceiving; see JACT pp. 170-71, sec. 156.

givnesqai = Attic givgnesqai. A variant reading is gevnesqai.

ajkeovmeno" ta; ejpiferovmena: Literally: warding off (= so as to ward off) his impending fate

tou'ton to;n mastigwqevnta: this man, the one who had been flogged

ejwuto;n....qei'nai: Literally: and ordered his son to place him (i.e. Amasis himself, as indicated by the reflexive pronoun ejwutovn = Attic ejautovn) in the innermost part (ejn mucw'/) of the tomb as much as possible.

aiJ ejntolai; au|tai....genevsqai: Literally: These commands relating (e[cousai) to both the burial place and the man do not seem to me to have existed to-begin-with (ajrchvn is here adverbial).

a[llw"....semnou'n: but the Egyptians (seem to me) merely (the meaning here of a[llw") to be dignifying it.

That is to say, they invented the story of a second man to avoid the humiliation of a story which told of extreme indignities suffered by one of their kings after death. To try to bring out something of the sense of this we might translate, with a little licence: but it seems to me that the Egyptians are merely trying to save face.