Monday, March 19, 2007

History Needing Revision

I'm fairly sure this is not how it actually happened:
"The next king, I was told, was a priest of Vulcan, called Sethôs. This monarch despised and neglected the warrior class of the Egyptians, as though he did not need their services. Among other indignities which he offered them, he took from them the lands which they had possessed under all the previous kings, consisting of twelve acres of choice land for each warrior. Afterwards, therefore, when Sanacharib, king of the Arabians and Assyrians, marched his vast army into Egypt, the warriors one and all refused to come to his aid. On this the monarch, greatly distressed, entered into the inner sanctuary, and, before the image of the god, bewailed the fate which impended over him. As he wept he fell asleep, and dreamed that the god came and stood at his side, bidding him be of good cheer, and go boldly forth to meet the Arabian host, which would do him no hurt, as he himself would send those who should help him. Sethôs, then, relying on the dream, collected such of the Egyptians as were willing to follow him, who were none of them warriors, but traders, artisans, and market people; and with these marched to Pelusium, which commands the entrance into Egypt, and there pitched his camp. As the two armies lay here opposite one another, there came in the night, a multitude of field-mice, which devoured all the quivers and bowstrings of the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their shields. Next morning they commenced their fight, and great multitudes fell, as they had no arms with which to defend themselves. There stands to this day in the temple of Vulcan, a stone statue of Sethôs, with a mouse in his hand, and an inscription to this effect - 'Look on me, and learn to reverence the gods.'" --Herodotus, The History, Book 2, Sect. 141


YouNotSneaky! said...

I like the story of the Babylonian auction better.

Robert Vienneau said...

Only some episodes in The History impressed me enough that I recall them. While I remember that much being written on Babylon, I don't recall the auction.

YouNotSneaky! said...

Well you read The History for entertainment, and maybe "history of thought" type of reasons, not actual history.

Babylonian auction was about how marriages were supposedly arranged in ancient Babylon. Men of the village bid on potential brides, with the possibility of negative bids. Whatever revenue was left over was redistributed to the poor. That way rich men would get beautiful brides while poor men got subsidies. He thought this was a more "just" system then that in Greece of the time. Actually the whole description of Babylon in Herodotus pretty much shows he's off his rocker.