Diodorus Siculus

BOOK I - The Library of History

Page 36 Amasis having setl'd his Affairs in Egypt, so as he judg'd most conducing to the publick good, govern'd the Egyptians with all Justice and Moderation, and by this gain'd the good Will of all the People. He conquer'd also the Cities of Cyprus, and adorn'd the Temples of the Gods with many rich Gifts and Offerings. Having reign'd Five and Fifty Years, he died about the time Cambyses King of Persia first invaded Egypt, in the Third Year of the Sixty Third Olympiad, in which Parmenides of Camarina was Victor.


The Customs of the Egyptians: Of their Kings. Of their Hourly Imployment, Sacrifices, Diet, &c. Their Burials. The division of Egypt. Their Trades in Egypt. Courts of Justice. Their Law Proceedings. The several Laws of Egypt. Beasts and Birds ador'd in Egypt, as Lions, Wolves, Cats, the Bird Ibis, Kites, &c. Costs in their Burial of these Creatures. Reasons given of this Adoration.

SInce sufficient hath been said of the Egyptian Kings from the most ancient Times, to the Death of Amasis, (leaving for a while what remains till a more proper time) we shall now give a brief account of those Laws and Customs of the Egyptians that are most to be admir'd, and may especially delight and profit the Reader. For many of the ancient Customs of the Egyptians were not only allow'd by the natural Inhabitants, but were greatly admir'd by the Grecians, so that every Learn'd Man earnestly coveted to travel into Egypt to learn the Knowledge of their Laws and Customs, as things of great weight and moment: And though the Country anciently forbad all reception to Strangers (for the Reasons before alledg'd) yet some of the Ancients, as Orpheus and Homer, and many of latter times, as Pythagoras the Samian, and Solon the Lawgiver, adventur'd to travel thither. And therefore the Egyptians assirm that Letters, Astronomy, Geometry, and many other Arts were first found out by them; and that the best Laws were made and instituted by them. To confirm which, they alledge this as an undeniable Argument, that the Native Kings of Egypt have reign'd there for the space of above Four Thousand and Seven Hundred Years, and that their Country for all that time has been the most prosperous and flourishing Kingdom in the World, which could never have been so, if the Inhabitants had not been civilized, and brought up under good Laws, and Liberal Education in all sorts of Arts and Sciences. But we shall omit what Herodotus and other Writers of the Egyptian History relate, who wilfully pursue and prefer prodigious Stories before Truth, and relate a company of Fictions meerly for Sport and Diversion sake, and shall give an Account of such things as we have carefully perus'd and examin'd recorded in their Books by the Egyptian Priests.

The First Kings of Egypt liv'd not after the way and manner of other Monarchs, to do what they list, without Controul; but in every thing conform'd themselves to their Laws, not only in the publick Administration of the Government, but in their daily private Conversation, and their very Meals and Diet. For among their Attendants, they had neither Slaves for Servants, nor such as were born in their Houses; but the Sons of the chiefest of the Priests (after they attain'd to the Age of Twenty Years) brought up and educated more nobly than any other of the rest of the Egyptians; that having such noble Attendants upon his Person (of the best and highest Rank in the Kingdom) to be always with him night and day, he might not do any thing that was base and blame-worthy. For no Prince is apt to be very wicked, except he have some ready at Hand to incourage him in his Lusts.

There were Hours set apart in the Night as well as the Day, wherein the King was to do something injoyn'd him by the Laws, and not to indulge himself in his Pleasures.

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The Histories of Herodotus written in 440 BC is considered to be the founding work of history in Western literature. His history included stories and fables but he claimed to have traveled extensively and learned about many countries through direct observation.

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