Amasis And The Greeks

(Chapter 178) Amasis opened Egypt to general Mediterranean commerce by appointing the Greeks of Naucratis to manage it. All foreign trade had to enter and leave by this port 70 miles down the Canobic mouth of the Nile, not far from Sais. Not only were Greeks given property to build houses on, but land was given for temples and other sacred structures to be used by visitors as well. Apparently, the show was run by the group of Greeks who had built the Hellenion, who tried to exclude other Greek cities from the market in the eternal quest for monopoly. Herodotus does not say that Amasis founded Naucratis, only that he established the Greeks there and gave them the trade. The name of the city is, obviously, Greek, but it may have had an Egyptian name as well, about which we are not informed.


[Vocabulary] The first sentence of this chapter has given trouble to many translators, who mumble a little and then go on, hoping nobody will notice. Obviously, Amasis did something, and then did something further. In the first thing, we immediately hit e s, and look for an accusative, and find one not far away. Fine, into some others of the Greeks; then the verb: to accept gladly. To accept gladly into some others of the Greeks? This is nonsense, and it is wise to assume our authors did not write nonsense, however mangled the text may be by copyists and correctors. The accusative is the object of the verb, not the case of the preposition, which here is used adverbially, or with an elliptic Egypt, if you prefer. Now the sentence shines out. As usual, we are regaled with participles and infinitives, but nothing the least bit difficult, and meet a couple of idioms on the way.

Having become a friend of the Greeks, Amasis not only welcomed certain Greeks into [Egypt], but moreover to those who arrived in Egypt he gave the city of Naucratis to live in. To those not planning to settle there, he gave for voyagers plots of it to set up altars and precincts to gods. At present, the greatest precinct of these, being the most famous and most used, is called Hellenion. These are the cities having established [it] in common: of Ionian, Chios, Teos, Phocaea and Clazomene; of Dorian, Rhodes, Cnidus, Halicarnassus and Phaselis; of Aeolian, only Mytilene. This precinct belongs to these [cities], and the supervisors of the trading market (emnporium) are supplied by these cities themselves. Any other cities pretending [to rights] are pretending to what is not their business. Separately, Aeginetans on their own set up a precinct of Zeus, Samians another of Hera, and Milesians of Apollo.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Last revised 15 July 1999