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(Hdt. III. 12; Athen. XIII. 560df) - VI . . .

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Ivan A. Ladynin (Moscow).
The legend about the Egyptian princess Nitetis (Hdt. III. 12; Athen. XIII. 560df) in the political and historical context of the VI B. C. E.

The Classical traditional interpretation of the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses (525 B. C. E.) disregarding the general favourable attitude to Amasis and his unlucky successor Psammenitos/Psammetichus III, contains a story intended as a sort of apology to Cambyses. According to it, when the Persians demanded that Amasis send them his daughter as a wife or a concubine to their king, he sent them the daughter of his deposed and murdered predecessor Apries, the only survival of his house. This story is obviously a reinterpretation of the anecdote with a rather standard description of Amasis witty wisdom: he did follow the Persian demand and sent them a kings daughter but not his daughter. In due course the lady became a wife to Cambyses (Hdt. III. 1; FGrH. 688. F. 13a = Athen. XIII. 560de) or Cyrus II (Hdt. III. 2; FGrH. 613. F. l = Athen. XIII. 560 sq.), gained the affection of her husband and caused his fierce unveiling Amasis deceit. This story has an obvious Egyptian inspiration, like the stories of Hdt. II. 162182, but, contrary to them, shows no sympathy towards Amasis; strangely enough, it provides a fair pretext for the Persian to justify their aggression toward Egypt and a ground for Cambyses claim of Egyptian throne. It can .42 be assumed that the story was instigated by the partisans of Apries deposed by Amasis with the Babylonian support in 570567 B. C., who considered the latter to be an usurper and formed after Cambyses invasion a group of collaborators (the best example of its member is provided by a well-known hieroglyphic autobiography of Udjahorresnet; the statue Vatican 158). Certainly, this legend was not a part of official ideology (to this effect, it contained too many obvious errors) but just a propagandist fiction providing for a better image of occupants in the masses.


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