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Ivan A. Ladynin (Moscow). The Classical Tradition on Amasis and its Egyptian Literary Prototypes
The paper deals with the Classical tradition on Pharaoh Amasis, basically with famous Herodotus account on him (II. 162182, III. 23, 1016, 2729) but also with some adjacent minor sources (for instance, with an interesting evidence by Plutarchus: Sap. Conv. 6 = Mor. 151ae). A number of symptomatic affinities (Hdt. II. 181 on Amasis marriage to Ladice pairing the Demotic Story of Amasis and a Seaman of P. Bibl. Nat. 215 verso. Col. A; the aforesaid evidence by Plutarchus on Amasis aided by the Greek wiseman Bias competing in wit with an Ethiopian king, the pairing a similar episode of the demotic Second Cycle of Setna Khaemuas, P. dem. BM. 604. 2. 294. 24; Hdt. II. 169 on Amasis advised by his courtsmen to put Apries to death seeming to be an inverse Königsnovelle typical for Egyptian literature) seems to show that the Classical tradition on Amasis was not only of Egyptian inspiration but also backed by a cycle of apologetic stories about him, governed by the laws of Egyptian literary genre and probably shaped in small pieces similar to the Story of Amasis and a Seaman. The initial ideological message of these stories was to position Amasis as a legitimate ritual king, irrelevantly of his non-royal descent (Hdt. II. 172 on the golden wash-basin recast by Amasis into a statue of god being especially tell-tale to this effect, due to its obvious allusion to gold being gods flesh in Egyptian notions and to its possible hint that Amasis royal and divine nature were hidden under a plebeian out-appearance till time came), and at the same time to highlight his favourable human features. Initially those stories were inspired by his .372 partisans confronting the partisans of Apries, who attacked Amasis as usurper and tried to legitimate Cambyses invasion by his fictitious descent from Apries through his daughter and Cambyses alleged mother Nitetis (Hdt. III. 12; Athen. XIII. 560df; see our publication in the previous issue of Ancient World and Archaeology). However, by Herodotus time this confrontation of Apries and Amasis parties must have given way to the common intention and need of Egyptians to shape a positive image of the latest native Pharaoh juxtaposed to the harsh Persian rule under Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I. Besides, Amasis hellenophilia might have been intended to present to Herodotus a favourable account of lasting friendly contacts between Egypt and Greek city-states and to provide for their eventual support to the cause of Egyptian independence (given Herodotus came to Egypt not so long after Inaros defeat and was himself a person of some influence in Pericles team).


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