The High Priest

 

 The High Priest Manetho

Manetho was an Egyptian priest, who lived in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus,* and who wrote a history of Egypt in Greek, in which he introduced a list of all the kings who ever reigned on the banks of the Nile, from the most remote period to the conquest of Alexander. This history is lost, but the lists are preserved in the work of Georgius Syncellus, a Byzantine historian of the eighth century, who had borrowed them from the Chronicle of Eusebius and from the Chronography of Julius Africanus. f After what we have already said, we need scarcely again refer to the lists of Manetho to point out of what importance they are for us. It may be that we cannot, strictly speaking, rely implicitly on the accuracy of the figures which mark the duration of the different reigns and dynasties, those figures having been rearranged by the Christian authors who copied them from the original work ; and, moreover, it may be surmised that the names of some kings have been changed or inverted. Be that as it may, if for one moment we suppose the lists of Manetho had been entirely lost, through whom should we have become acquainted with that previous division into dynasties, and how should we even know that it ever existed ? The royal names revealed by the hieroglyphic inscriptions become every day more and more numerous. How should we know in what manner to classify them at all satisfactorily without the lists of Manetho ? Have not these lists the advantage — an advantage never sufficiently appreciated — of showing us at least a road which we may follow ? Among the sources of the history of Egypt, the Royal Papyrus of Turin, if it were complete, could alone rival Manetho in importance.

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