Egypt: Herodotus on Apries

Herodotus on Apries

Psammis reigned over Egypt for only six years; he invaded Ethiopia, and immediately thereafter died, and Apries the son of Psammis reigned in his place.

He was more blessed than any former king, except the first founder of his family, Psammetichus I, during his rule of twenty-five years, during which he sent an army against Sidon3 and engaged the Tyrian4 at sea. But when it was fated that evil should overtake him, that which is alleged as the cause of it was something that I will say a little, and more about it in the Libyan part of this history.

Apries sent a great expedition against Cyrene which suffered a great defeat. The Egyptians blamed him for this and rebelled against him; for they thought that Apries had knowingly sent his men to their doom, so that after their death his rule over the rest of the Egyptians would be strengthened. Bitterly angered by this, those who returned home and the friends of the slain rose against him.

Apries sent Amasis to dissuade them, when he heard of this. Amasis met the Egyptians and he exhorted them to desist; but as he spoke an Egyptian put a helmet on his head from behind, saying it was the token of royalty. This wasn't unwelcome to Amasis and for after being crowned king by the rebelling Egyptians he prepared to march against Apries. When Apries heard of it, he sent against Amasis Egyptian of good reputation named Patarbemis, one of his own court, with the order to bring Amasis live into his presence. When Patarbemis came and summoned Amasis, Amasis, sitting on horseback, raised his leg and farted, telling the messenger to take that back to Apries. But when in spite of this Patarbemis insisted that Amasis obey the king's summons and go to him, Amasis answered that he had for some time been getting ready to do just that, and Apries would not find fault with him, for he would come himself and bring others with him.

Hearing this, Patarbemis could not be mistaken about his intentions; he saw his preparations and departed in a hurry, desiring quickly to make known to the king what was being done. When Apries saw him return without bringing Amasis, he didn't listen to what was being said and in his rage and fury had Patarbemis' ears and nose cut off. The rest of the Egyptians, who were still on his side, seeing this outrage done to the man who was most prominent among them, joined the revolt without delay and offered themselves to Amasis.

Hearing of this, too, Apries armed his mercenaries and marched against the Egyptians; he had a bodyguard of Carians and Ionians, numbering thirty thousand, and his royal palace was in the city of Sais, a great and worthy palace. Apries and his men marched against the Egyptians, and so did Amasis and his against the foreign mercenaries. So they both came to Momemphis6 and were going to make trial of one another in fight....

So when Apries leading his foreign mercenaries, and Amasis at the head of the army of Egyptians, in their approach to one another had reached the city of Momemphis, they engaged in battle: and although the foreign mercenaries fought well, yet being much inferior in number they were defeated because of this. But Apries is said to have supposed that not even a god would be able to cause him to lose his rule, so firmly did he think that it was established. In that battle then, as I said, he was defeated, was taken alive and taken to the city of Sais, which had once been his own dwelling but from then on was to be the palace of Amasis.