Anyone who knows the delicious beverage Snapple, knows that under every cap is a Snapple Random Fact. I’ve always loved these because they’re usually fun and sometimes surprising. So the other day, quite randomly, I found a market here in Cairo selling Snapple, so of course I bought a bottle. When I opened it, fact number 889 really surprised me! It read “The original Cinderella was Egyptian and wore fur slippers.”
Seriously? The Disney classic I’d known and loved my entire life wasn’t, in fact, originally Disney? Say it ain’t so! How can this be? I’d never even heard of anything like this before, and I’ve lived in Egypt for 4 years now!
I decided to do some research to see what I could come up with…and it turns out it’s true! I bet most people had no idea of this! Here’s what I learned about the Egyptian Cinderella, through the Greek historian Strabo’s accounts.
Cinderella’s name was actually Rhodopis, meaning “rosy cheeked.” She was actually Greek, not Egyptian, but was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave to a nice old man in Ancient Egypt, who kept her as a servant girl. Because she was beautiful, he other servant girls made fun of her and gave her extra chores to do. Rhodopis could sing and dance, and sometimes after work she would sing and dance for her animal friends (unlike the Disney story where her friends were some mice, a dog, and some birds, Rhodopis’s friends were birds, a monkey, and a hippo!). One time, after napping under a nearby fig tree, the old man woke up to find Rhodopis dancing and was very pleased. Since she was barefoot, he bought her a pair of rose-gilded slippers to wear.
Soon, it was heard that the Pharaoh was holding court in nearby Memphis and everyone was invited. Of course Rhodopis wanted to go and was very excited about all the dancing and food. But much like the Disney classic, the other servant girls gave her so many chores that she couldn’t go. As she stayed behind, she washed clothes in the Nile, and sang a sad song. The hippo got sick of the sad song and jumped back in the water, splashing water on Rhodopis’s slipper.
She put it in the sun to dry off, when Horus swooped down in the form of a falcon and carried off the slipper. He flew over to the Pharaoh and dropped the slipper into his lap. When the Pharaoh saw the beautiful slipper, he proclaimed that he would marry the owner of the slipper because he took it as a sign from Horus.
Much like the classic Disney movie, he searched all over for the owner of the slipper, even sailing the Nile looking for the girl. He found Rhodopis, and they were married!
What do you think? Pretty close to the Disney classic, huh? Pretty cool, I think!
What other cultures do you know of that have a similar story?