A Commentary on HerodotusMachine readable text

A Commentary on Herodotus
By W. W. How

Perseus Documents Collection Table of Contents










Funded by The Annenberg CPB/Project


Book 3


Ch. 1

The δή refers back to ii. 1, after the long digression on Egypt.

The personal motive is characteristic of H. (cf. Introd. p. 45); the alliance of Egypt with Lydia (i. 77) and mere lust of conquest (i. 153. 4) were fully sufficient causes for the attack on Egypt.

For the Egyptian doctors cf. 129. 2 (their failure against Democedes) and ii. 84.

Ch. 2

The law that the Persian king should only marry from the families of the Seven (84. 2 n.) may not yet have been passed; but Amasis knew his daughter would be regarded as a sort of captive; the chief wives were always Persian. The story that Cambyses was the son of an Egyptian princess was given by Dinon (fl. circ. 360 B. C.) and Lyceas of Naucratis (F. H. G. ii. 91; iv. 441); that of H. in cap. 1 is even more incredible; a daughter of Apries would have been at least 40 in 529 B. C.; Ctesias (fr. 8, p. 225) for once agrees with H. The story of c. 2 is due to the vanity of a conquered nation (as H. saw), claiming a share in its conqueror (cf. App. IV. 4); but all the variants are probably derived from Egyptians, who wished that their own country should have a share in suggesting its own conquest. The princess is the heroine of Ebers' famous romance, Eine egyptische Knigstochter.

Ch. 4

No doubt the story of Phanes was familiar to H. from his childhood; the name (which is not a common one) is read on a vase found in many fragments (now in the B. M.) by Petrie (Naukratis, 1886; E. E. F., p. 55, pl. 33).

*)arabi/wn basile/a. H. wrongly considers the Arabians as one nation; Cambyses' ally would be simply a powerful chief.

For the dangers of this desert cf. the sufferings of the retreating French in 1799 (Lanfrey, i. 297).

A unique coin found at Halicarnassus and now in the British Museum bears the inscription φαενὸς ἐμὶ σῆμα, I am the sign of Phanes. It is at least as early as 525 B. C., and may have been struck by the mercenary captain to pay his men. But it is more usually connected with Ephesus, and the inscription is then translated I am the sign of the bright one; cf. Head, H. N. p. 571.

Ch. 5 [sect. 1]

For Kadytis cf. ii. 159 n.

The Palestine Syrians are here distinguished by H. from the Phoenicians (so too in ii. 104); their lands also are distinguished in i. 105 (probably), iii. 91. 1, and iv. 39. 2; in ii. 106. 1 he applies the term to include the coast north of Mount Carmel. But the most important reference is vii. 89, where H. distinguishes the Syrians [p. 257] in Palestine from the Phoenicians, and then goes on ( 2) to use Palestine of all the coast land, including Phoenicia, as far as Egypt. He never uses it of Phoenicia alone. Here he means Philistines, who were still powerful in his time (Zech. ix. 5); it is true that he says they were circumcised (ii. 104. 3), but he says (ib.) the same of Phoenicians. Either the neighbouring tribes had begun to copy the Jews in this rite, or H. confuses the Jews and the coast peoples. He cannot have meant by the Palestine Syrians the Jews only, for they were at this time very unimportant.