When we think of books of history from the times of antiquity, Most will tell of books like Julius Caesar's first-hand account of The Gallic Wars or Xenophon's Anabasis, Which is called by some as The Persian Expedition or even Herodotus's The Histories, Noted for being one of, If not the first history books ever written, But one, Lesser known example is a book called the Aegyptiaca, This was a book on Egyptian History spanning from their beginnings in the 1st Dynasty to the 31st Dynasty, Which had just ended some years prior to when it was written in the 3rd Century B.C in three books by an Egyptian priest and writer named Manetho, Who is said to have lived in the city of Sebennytos, But the exact details of his life are scarce I'm afraid, Now I said just a moment ago this was a book, Of which i mean't that this once was a book And that's because sadly, It no longer exists in a complete form, But thankfully, By a stroke of luck, A good amount of fragments have come down to us by a few authors epitomes or quoting's, I should also mention, The Aegyptiaca wasn't his only work, Manetho wrote a good number of other works too, And even though I will confess they aren't much worth reviewing or talking about, I shall do so anyway for the sake of preventing arguments.
Now for why I read this and for why i write my thoughts on it, Well...I've always been fascinated with the history of Ancient Egypt along with it's culture and myths, Not to mention lately I've been studying day and night on ancient history and it's side-subjects, And before I get asked that question, No i am not doing this for schooling, I'm only doing it for mere personal pleasure, There are some teens on this earth who prefer knowledge over rubbing one's genitals, So as I was saying, While yes it may not be complete or even have much of its original text surviving, I was still very much interested in giving it a chance considering before the hieroglyphs could be read and translated in the early to mid 19th Century, This book was called upon as one of the best sources of Ancient Egyptian history despite its rather fragmented and broken state, Now with this behind us, What did i think of it in all?
Well...it was an interesting read, That's the first thing I can say, While yes the fragments of the work which do give a good and rather interesting insight into the ways and line of pharaohs in the days of Ancient Egypt, The little that remains is in my mind and in my ways, More of an historical document or even an historical curiosity than a full-fledged history book of any kind, Ancient or modern, However I don't blame the material itself for this, I blame this problem on its sad fragmented state.
And of the fragments for the 3 books of his Aegyptiaca which exist, I have to say I enjoyed the fragments from Josephus in Book II the most, Due to the simple fact of which actual parts of Manetho's writing are shown instead of an epitome telling on what Manetho writes about in that particular section or of that certain Dynasty, However if you remove these precious and vital little fragments which are rich in detail and extremely interesting to read and memorize, Not to mention highly enjoyable, You're left with the ramblings of Titus Flavius Josephus, Who if you don't know, Was a Roman-Jewish writer who lived from 37 A.D to around 100 A.D, And he has to be fully honest, One who bears a resemblance akin to a deeply religious fanatic who may have gone...well a little bit insane, In fact, He even goes as far as saying at the end of Fr. 50 (Which tells about the 17th Dynasty).
"As for the additions which Manetho has made, not from the Egyptian records, but, as he has himself admitted, from anonymous legendary tales, I shall later refute them in detail, and show the improbability of his lying stories."
Yes the myths and stories present in Ancient Egyptian folklore and myths may not be 100% truthful or factual, But at least those said myths of Ancient Egypt make a bit more sense and are actually quite enjoyable to read and learn about, Unlike the Biblical stories which Josephus raves on and on about as being truthful, Some may have, More or less, The same structure, But the contents usually ramble on and in the end, Don't make a lot of sense compared to what we now know, Anyway, The 3 fragments from him in Book II were the ones I enjoyed the most due to the preserved writing of Manetho and the, If I may say so, Cringe-worthy commentary from Josephus on them.
As for the rest of the fragments though...well I'm afraid they're a bit of a different story altogether, While yes it does give on most occasions a list telling of which pharaoh ruled in this dynasty and for how long, Plus telling how many ruled in a particular dynasty, It often seems to be almost like a checklist, In fact it very much is akin to a checklist, Not to mention sometimes it gives that checklist like fragment twice or on one occasion, It gives the list thrice, As for some of the other fragments present in the book, Well they'll just give a short list on how many ruled during that time and how long the period lasted, That's it, No list of pharaohs, No telling of the lengths of their reigns, No tellings of any major events which may have occurred during the time or a pharaoh's rule, Nothing, And that, Even for the fragments of a now lost work is very disappointing and quite lacking.
I almost forgot to mention one last detail, At the beginning of Book I, There is a rather obvious, And in my view, Strange edit made to the text, In Fr. 2 (from Syncellus), It tells about the creation myths from the Bible, You know with Adam and Eve, That kind of creation myth, Well…i found that quite odd considering in the preceding fragment, Fr. 1 (from Eusebius), It tells of the Egyptian myths on how the first kings were gods, How long the period's lasted and the whole length of the era, Which for a history of Ancient Egypt is something you expect to see in some form or shape or way of telling, Whether its new or, In this case, An older history book, So why this addition and change of the text was made is beyond me, My guess though is that the edit was done similar to what Josephus said on Manetho's telling of their myths, To show that Manetho and the rest of his culture's myths and stories were nothing but lies and falsehoods while their beliefs were the truth.
Now I shall tell of my views and give a description on the remaining fragments of Manetho's other works, Beginning with The Sacred Book, And from the 7 small fragments which are left telling of this work, It appears that it was a book detailing to some extent the history of the Egyptian religion's, And while it did sound interesting, The little that remains wasn't I'm afraid, Next is Epitome of Physical Doctrines, However...i'm afraid I really can't tell you much about this one as all of which is left of this book are 2 short fragments of it, But from these 2 fragments, It appears that this book was similar to the last, In which the subject was Egyptian religions, But other than that, I can't tell much more on it as there isn't any more to describe it on.
Next is his book On Festivals, Of which 3 fragments have come down to us, And by the sounds of what they say, This book detailed rituals done in festivals, And it tells of human sacrifices and animal sacrifices, Not to mention that according to Fr. 84 (from Joannes Lydus), "a solar eclipse exercises a baneful influence upon men in their head and stomach", I'm not sure what this baneful influence exactly is but, Apparently this is what happens, Next is the book On the Making of Kyphi, Which is all but a single fragment detailing how to make Kyphi, But all it gives is an ingredient list, It doesn't actually give a proper recipe for some strange reason, And last but not least, We have the Criticisms of Herodotus, Which from the two fragments which exist of it, The book appears to have been one which, As the title implies, Criticized Herodotus's book, The Histories, But to what extent I don't know, The fragments which exist don't detail it.
Now the remainder of the fragments present in the book are all ones which weren't written by Manetho, As such, I will not be reviewing them because of that fact.
Lastly is the biography, Now as I said at the beginning of this, We really don't know much about Manetho, However this biography details all that is known or at least is assumed about Manetho, And we know of two Manethos, A Manetho of Mendês and a Manetho of Sebennytus, Whether these two are the same individuals or different individuals is not certain, But considering we do know Egyptian priests never really stuck to one city or town, Especially if they were a well known or higher class priest, Then they'd move from place to place and over time have different names according to where they were, If this was the case for Manetho, The two are then the same individual, It also lists that the latter of the two wrote also a good number of astrological works including one called the Apotelesmatica, Which appears to have been a treatise of some kind written as a poem in hexameter, Now for what kind of priest he was isn't certain, Some suggest he might have been been a priest to the sun god Ra, While some suggest also that he was a priest to the afterlife god Anubis, But these are mere guesses and we sadly have no actual telling of what kind of priest he was, One last thing to mention, We also don't know Manetho's real, Egyptian name, Manetho is simply his Greek pseudonym.
Now for how many works of which Manetho is certain to have written is unsure and varies from scholar to scholar, But the usual answer is 7, Which are the ones I have reviewed here prior to the segment you now read, One other work is also attributed to Manetho and that is The Book of Sôthis, But in recent years, It's authorship has been highly debated
and is now no longer considered a work of his,
In all, While yes the fragments of Manetho's work do give some interesting details into the ways of Ancient Egypt and their history, I'm afraid they can't be fully enjoyed normally, At least I couldn't enjoy it normally, And I don't blame the works themselves for this, I blame it on the state of which they now exist by as all but a few are very repetitive, Lack a good amount of detail and have many inconsistencies, In fact if they survived complete or at least mostly complete, I can assure you I would have enjoyed it immensely, But unfortunately, This isn't the case, However I do recommend you do read it merely for the historical value, If you go into it though for the pleasure of reading though, I can guarantee right now you'll be very disappointed.
My final rating of the works is 4.5/10.