Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nitocris Queen of Egypt (ca. 2475 B.C.)

Although no archaeological evidence has survived of the reign of Nitocris, the Turin Canon lists her as the last ruler of the Sixth Dynasty and the wife of Merenre II, whom she succeeded. She was the first known queen to exercise political power over Egypt. She is associated with the legendary courtesan Phodopis, mythical builder of the third pyramid of Giza. Herodotus (b. ca. 484 B.C.), who traveled in Egypt after 454 B.C. and received much of his information from word of mouth, tells of an Egyptian queen, Nitocris. To avenge the murder of her brother-king, whom she succeeded, she built a huge underground chamber. As an inaugural ceremony she held a banquet and invited all those responsible for her brother’s death. When the banquet was in full swing, she opened a large concealed conduit and allowed her guests to drown in river water. To escape her punishment, she threw herself into a roomful of ashes. No other source supports Herodotus’s account.

References Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt.Trans. Basil Blackwell Ltd. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997. p. 89. Herodotus. The Histories.Trans.Aubrey de Sélincourt. New York: Penguin Books, 1954. p. 166.

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