Lesson of the Footbath

(Chapter 172, part 2 of 2) Seeing the new god, the townspeople came to worship it assiduously, since it could not hurt to be on its right side. Amasis let this go on for a while until most people had made obeisance to the image, and then called the townspeople together and addressed them. He told them that they adored this image that was the same material as the footbath that they previously vomited and urinated in, and washed their feet in, and treated basely. Likewise, he was of humble material, but had been hammered into a Pharoah, so he now was worthy of their honor and respect.



We see the curious phenomenon known as crasis in this selection. This could easily be done in speech, without showing it in writing, but the fact that it appears shows that the text was supposed to agree closely with speech. Among other things, this allows us to observe the disappearance of adjacent vowels that was already well along in Attic speech, providing the joy of contractions to students of Greek, and eventually resulting in the five simple vowel sounds of Demotic Greek. The text of Herodotus does not seem to me to be consistent. Parts are definitely Ionic, other parts show changes that are more like Attic.

The Egyptians, frequenting the image, worshipped greatly. Amasis, learning what the townspeople were doing, calling the Egyptians together spoke out, saying that out of the footbath the image had been made, in which formerly the Egyptians vomited and urinated and washed their feet, but which now they greatly worshipped. Now therefore, he said speaking, he had done similarly as the footbath. For, if he was formerly a common man, he now from that was currently their king. And he bade [them] honor and respect him.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Last revised 8 July 1999