Toby Charles Anderson
re: herodotus
Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:46

Hi Jaap,

Thanks for the lead to Khan regarding Sabacon standing for all Kushite kings.

IMHO, I reject this,
1. firstly as there seems to be too much correlation between the names of Shabako/Shabaqo and Herodotus' Shabacon.
2. Secondly, because Herodotus plainly calls the 'next king' Sethos, instead of a so-called generic name Shabacon. The fact that Herodotus gives us the names of 2 assyrian names tells us neither are some generic name for a KUSHite king.
3. In Herodotus' 'Histories', book 2, para. 100, he states: "In this number of generations there were eighteen Ethiopian kings". Kings, not Sabacon. Similarly, he says elsewhere Egyptian Kings, not Pharaohs.

I agree that the issue is muddied in trying to associate the '50 years' with Sabacon as Herodotus' text suggests. So with the 3 reasons above, rather than generalizing 'Sabacon' to refer to a king of Nubian descent; I suggest, that Herodotus mis-assigned this 50 years, ie. the 50 years should be associated with the king Sethos, not Sabacon.

As I discuss below in the appendix, F.L.Griffith, gives 2 examples in which Herodotus confuses the appellative title with a person's name. He also gives the etymology of the Egytian word for 'high priest', and explains why/how it likely rendered as 'Sethon' by Herodotus.

So, while we don't know the name of the high priest, Herodotus' Sethos was:
1. a high priest of Ptah (false Nubian god)
2. the general of the Nubian Army
3. the next king after Sabacon

If one accepts the idea, after Shabaka's death, that Taharqa, co-reigned in some form (ie. a subservient king or heir or crown prince) with Shabataka; then we can reckon Herodotus' 50 years ending with Taharqa's death in 664bc or preferably, by his defeat by the Assyrian Assurbanipal circa 667 to 665bc. So the 50 years ends somewhere around 667 to 664bc; which means the 50 years started somewhere around 717bc to 714bc. 715bc is my preference for the accession of Shabataka and his crown prince 'Taharqa' who is known to have been a high priest of Ptah and a rebuilder of Ptah's temple at Kawa. Further, Josephus equates Taharqa with Sethon.

While I don't have access to the Kawa Stela inscriptions, both Girard Gertoux and John A Wilson state that the two famous Kawa Stelas indicate that Shabataka appointed Taharqa, at age 20, to an important position. Wilson says Taharqa was made co-regeant, while Gertoux says Taharqa was appointed Shabataka's heir and commander of the army.
[See: Appendix D: Tirharqa, age 20, general at the Battle of Eltekeh (Pelusium)]

So equating Taharqa age 20, worst case to 717bc, he would have died at age 73 in 664bc; or, the 'best case' at age 70.


APPENDIX - F.L.Griffith 'Stories of the high priest'

F.L. Griffith (see: in 'The Sethon of Herodotus' in 'Stories of the high priests of Memphis',
after spending:
1. 2 pages giving the etymology of the Egyptian word for 'High Priest' (sm, sem, stne, stme, stm, stmt, sime, sime, setme (pg 3-5)
2. 2 pages, pg 7-8, listing several Pharaoh's whose names are possible candidates for 'Sethon' (Sety, Zet)

...after this, then makes a powerful argument that Herodotus' Sethon, in my words, is not the actual name of a Nubian King because Herodotus conflated it with the title of an Egyptian High Priest. For, Griffith argues, Herodotus, in the very passage of discussion, conflates the name of the blind man, Anysis, with the name of the place he hails from! (pg.9)

In the "Greek Papyrus in the British Museum I,Pl.73, col.iii, 1. II; cf.p.142 below", says Griffith,

"SeThWN might be for CThWN, the Northern form of CTWN, .... Hence the sentence TON IREA TON HPhAISTON &C., may perhaps be rendered 'that priest of Hephaestus that was called (the) Sethon'; or Herodotus may be supposed to have omitted to note the name of the priest-king, and to have designated him confusedly by his title only, being misled by its use as an appellative. In the section immediately preceding (cap. cxxxvii), he has probably made a blunder of a similar though less excusable kind, by assigning the name Anysis to a king whose burthplace he says was Anysis... But in cap. cxi an exact parallel can be found. Here Ierwn is given as teh name of a king, adn Ierwn can only be Pharaoh,, Pr-'o pero, the appellative title by which the king was addressed and referred to in the original of the tale retold by Herodotus."

  • Herodotus aJaap Titulaer, Sat Aug 10 12:25
    Hi Toby, Yes Khan came to essentially the same conclusion. (This was before the reversal of the order of Shabaka & Shabataka.)... more
    • re: herodotus — Toby Charles Anderson, Mon Aug 12 12:46
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