(Chapter 176) Besides the temple of Athena, Herodotus tells us that many other works of Amasis are worth seeing when we go to Egypt. At the temple of Hephaestus (Ptah) in Memphis, there is a huge recumbent stone giant, and two colossal statues on the same base. There is a similar recumbent figure in Sais. Amasis also built the temple of Isis at Memphis, which Herodotus rates as a must-see. We can imagine the wonder that he felt on seeing these gigantic works, and perhaps even what it would have been like to have been with him.
The word for base has many other connotations, as the vocabulary box shows. In the last several sections, we have met several words of this adaptable type. There are also six dative plurals parading in the first sentence, in their Ionic form. There is a very nice example of the men-de pair used with the relative pronoun to describe the pair of statues on each side of the recumbent giant. The word for worth seeing means precisely that, not something else as some translators have decided. I think the two statues were made from the same type of stone, not necessarily from the same block, which would really have no meaning.
In all the other noteworthy temples, Amasis dedicated works whose size makes them worth seeing, for example in Memphis a colossus lying on his back in front of the temple of Hephaestus, of which the length is 75 feet. On the same pedestal are placed two colossi made from the same stone, each 20 feet tall, one on each side of the giant. There are other stone figures of the same type also in Sais, lying in the same way as at Memphis. Amasis is the builder of the temple of Isis in Memphis, which is (i.e., being) large and most worth seeing.
Composed by J. B. Calvert
Last revised 13 July 1999