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Manetho's history?

 
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jonnylamarr
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:34 pm    Post subject: Manetho's history? Reply with quote

Hi I have looked on this forum in the past never post or signed up, so hello guys. I wanted really to know something about Manetho and the names of Pharaohs. Manetho wrote his book in greek, although no originals exist he still seems to be reliable enough through others who quote him. I wondered seeing we have the names of pharaohs in greek from him like setho and thethmosis etc. why is it egyptologists don't know for certain who manetho meant it to be. We are supposed to be able to know greek even today, yet Manetho who wrote in greek seems a mistery when documenting the pharaohs names.

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neseret
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Manetho's history? Reply with quote

jonnylamarr wrote:
Hi I have looked on this forum in the past never post or signed up, so hello guys. I wanted really to know something about Manetho and the names of Pharaohs. Manetho wrote his book in greek, although no originals exist he still seems to be reliable enough through others who quote him. I wondered seeing we have the names of pharaohs in greek from him like setho and thethmosis etc. why is it egyptologists don't know for certain who manetho meant it to be. We are supposed to be able to know greek even today, yet Manetho who wrote in greek seems a mistery when documenting the pharaohs names.


One of the reasons Egyptologists do not trust Manethian histories is a) because the only source we have for Manetho is that of Josephus, who wrote about what Manetho wrote with a specific agenda in mind (i.e., proving the antiquity of the Jews, in his treatise, Contra Apionem, which was a rebuttal to another Greek historian Apion, who stated there was no historical evidence of Jewish antiquity. Secondly, b) Manetho often included timelines in his Aegyptiaca that included mythical figures, repeated kings over several different dynasties (where none existed historically), and often conveyed these names in a Greek format which made it nigh impossible to determine what was real and what was mythical.

Much of ancient concepts and beliefs had been changed so radically by the Ptolemaic Period, when Manetho lived, with massive re-identification of gods incorrectly, attempts to merge them with Greek god concepts, and in reality, a syncretism (reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous) had occurred, which diffused the original meanings of the religious precepts as are explicit in the Old Kingdom through New Kingdom texts.

So, when we refer to Manetho, in asking what "ancient Egyptian" culture was like, his works must be looked at in context of his times, as well as acknowledge that his understanding of the religious concepts were not as "pure" and untainted as they could have been (based on the later texts (called primary sources) that were found by archaeologists). Documents of "historical progression" had not yet been developed (in fact, Manetho is considered a "precursor" to historians such as Herodotus and Diodorus, and their works are also to be viewed with some circumspection, as they took almost any story as true).

In reviewing these late "historical" sources, Donald Redford questioned the Manethian sources as a "true history" since his definition of history meant "...the telling of events involving or affecting human beings (not necessarily, though usually, in narrative form), which took place prior to the time of composition, the chief aim of which is to explain those events for the benefit, predilection, and satisfaction of contemporaries, and not for the enhancement of the writer's personal reputation. The form will be without artifice or metaphor, that is it will not be drama, epic poetry, cult prescription or the like...but myth is still not history-writing in a modern sense." (Redford 1986: XIV). Obviously, Manethian histories, as portrayed by Josephus and some other sources, were found full of artifice and metaphor, and thought to be of mythic quality.

Josephus is thought to have revised Manetho's histories in such a way to force the Egyptian legend of Osarsiph to match the accounts of a Jewish Exodus and to prove, via a polemic against the Egyptians, the Jewish peoples' great antiquity (see Waddell's preface to Manetho, xv-xvi, noting that "The efforts of Jewish apologists account for much rehandling, enlarge and corruption of Manetho's text, and the result may be seen in the treatise of Josephus, Contra Apionem, I [in which the entire Osarsiph legend appears]."

I would suggest the following works which explain the problems of dealing with the histories of Manetho, via Josephus, as credible historical documents. These include:

Redford, D. B. 1986. Pharaonic King-lists, Annals and Day-books: A Contribution to the Study of the Egyptian Sense of History. SSEA Publication IV. L. M. James. Mississauga: Benben Publications.

Verbrugghe, G. P. and J. M. Wickersham. 1996. Berossos and Manetho: Introduced and Translated. Native Traditions in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Waddell, W. G. 1940. Manetho. Harvard: Cambridge.

HTH.
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Katherine Griffis-Greenberg

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Oriental Institute
Oriental Studies
Doctoral Programme [Egyptology]
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Lutz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today I received Naguib Kanawati : Conspiracies in the Egyptian Palace - Unis to Pepy I. - Oxon and New York : Routledge, 2003. - [Transferred to digital printing 2011]. - ISBN 10 : 0-415-27107-X. - ISBN 10: 0-415-61937-8. - 208 p. On page 9 and 10 is an interesting assessment of Manethos work, I think... :


Greetings, Lutz.
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Montuhotep88
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some additional and overall thoughts...

There's a very wide range of opinion on Manetho-- at one extreme, there are those who consider the entire thing pseudepigraphic and Roman in date, and at the other are those who play numbers games to show how well Manetho fits.

I tend a little toward the latter, though not to the extreme. From all appearances (and here I'm strongly influenced by Redford in Pharaonic King-lists...), the compiler did appear to be working with genuine Egyptian historical material of types that very likely would have been available in a large temple library or scriptorium-- albeit historical material that was itself of variable quality; some more reliable, some less. One thing that is quite apparent when comparing the extant fragments of Manetho (as in Waddell) is that there were unquestionably copying errors made.

Gary Greenberg's work is interesting to me... while I think he pitches too hard to the "Manetho was right and all of the errors are the result of bad copyists" (extremely oversimplified summary of Greenberg, perhaps not quite fair to him), I am attracted by his analytical approach toward defining the kinds of errors bad copying would have resulted in, and speculating what a more accurate copy would have looked like.

Two opinions I have acquired along the way: first, we are quite spoiled by Arabic numerals and positional notation (with a zero). I can't imagine regularly working with arithmetic in Roman numerals-- let alone Greek "numerals," which are barely distinguishable from the surrounding text, being all the letters of the alphabet! Ancient Egyptian numerical notation is child's play by comparison... so many ways a poor copyist can mess up the numbers.

Second-- I really don't believe the Manethonian original numbered the dynasties (as in "First Dynasty, Second Dynasty..."). I think they were described in a running text, and the later summarizer who compiled the "Epitome" assigned the numbers (incorrectly in notable cases like the "Seventh Dynasty" and "Twenty-Fourth Dynasty").

It'd be wonderful if some place like Herculaneum yielded a full copy of Manetho (as opposed to the "Epitome") in some readable format... but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one!
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