Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 6.19 (Kaibel) and Herodotus 2.151

In this passage Athenaeus quotes Herodotus for the story of Psammetichus’ libation.
By clicking on the name of Herodotus (in yellow), you can see a reference to the passage of the Histories; by clicking on the reference you can highlight the corresponding words in Athenaeus and in Herodotus. In this case there is also a quotation of Pindar with a link to the full text available in Perseus.


Bibliography on the passage:

  • D. Ambaglio, ‘I Deipnosofisti di Ateneo e la tradizione storica frammentaria’, in «Athenaeum» 78.1 (1990), pp. 53-54
  • C. Pelling, ‘Fun with Fragments. Athenaeus and the Historians’, in Athenaeus and his World. Reading Greek Culture in the Roman Empire, ed. by D. Braund and J. Wilkins, Exeter 2000, pp. 184-185
  • D. Lenfant, ‘Les «fragments» d’Hérodote dans les Deipnosophistes’, in Athénée et les fragments d’historiens. Actes du colloque de Strasbourg (16-18 juin 2005), éd. par D. Lenfant, Paris 2007, p. 57


Athenaei Naucratitae Dipnosophistarum Libri XV, rec. G. Kaibel. Vol. II. Lipsiae 1887 pdf_icon


Ath. Deipn. 6.19 (231d-e) (...) Ἡρόδοτός τέ φησι τοὺς Αἰγυπτίων ἱερεῖς χαλκοῖς ποτηρίοις πίνειν, τοῖς τε βασιλεῦσιν αὐτῶν θύουσί ποτε κοινῇ οὐχ εὑρεθῆναι πᾶσι δοθῆναι φιάλας ἀργυρᾶς· Ψαμμήτιχον γοῦν νεώτερον ὄντα τῶν ἄλλων βασιλέων χαλκῇ φιάλῃ σπεῖσαι τῶν ἄλλων ἀργυραῖς σπενδόντων. συληθέντος δ’ οὖν τοῦ Πυθικοῦ ἱεροῦ ὑπὸ τῶν Φωκικῶν τυράννων ἐπέλαμψε παρὰ τοῖς Ἕλλησιν ὁ χρυσός, εἰσεκώμασε δὲ καὶ ὁ ἄργυρος. ὕστερον δὲ τοῦ μεγίστου Ἀλεξάνδρου τοὺς ἐκ τῆς Ἀσίας θησαυροὺς ἀνελομένου ὄντως ἀνέτειλεν ὁ κατὰ Πίνδαρον εὐρυσθενὴς πλοῦτος.
Herodotus I (Books I-II), ed. A.D. Godley. Cambridge, Ma 1926² pdf_icon


Hdt. 2.151
(1) Τῶν δὲ δυώδεκα βασιλέων δικαιοσύνῃ χρεωμένων, ἀνὰ χρόνον ὡς ἔθυσαν ἐν τῷ ἱρῷ τοῦ Ἡφαίστου, τῇ ὑστάτῃ τῆς ὁρτῆς, μελλόντων κατασπείσειν, ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς ἐξήνεικέ σφι φιάλας χρυσέας, τῇσί περ ἐώθεσαν σπένδειν, ἁμαρτὼν τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ, ἕνδεκα δυώδεκα ἐοῦσι. (2) ἐνθαῦτα ὡς οὐκ εἶχε φιάλην ὁ ἔσχατος ἑστεὼς αὐτῶν Ψαμμήτιχος, περιελόμενος τὴν κυνέην ἐοῦσαν χαλκέην ὑπέσχε τε καὶ ἔσπενδε. κυνέας δὲ καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι ἅπαντες ἐφόρεόν τε βασιλέες καὶ ἐτύγχανον τότε ἔχοντες. (3) Ψαμμήτιχος μέν νυν οὐδενὶ δολερῷ νόῳ χρεώμενος ὑπέσχε τὴν κυνέην· οἱ δὲ ἐν φρενὶ λαβόντες τό τε ποιηθὲν ἐκ Ψαμμητίχου καὶ τὸ χρηστήριον, ὅτι ἐκέχρητό σφι τὸν χαλκέῃ σπείσαντα αὐτῶν φιάλῃ τοῦτον βασιλέα ἔσεσθαι μοῦνον Αἰγύπτου, ἀναμνησθέντες τοῦ χρησμοῦ κτεῖναι μὲν οὐκ ἐδικαίωσαν Ψαμμήτιχον, ὡς ἀνεύρισκον βασανίζοντες ἐξ οὐδεμιῆς προνοίης αὐτὸν ποιήσαντα, ἐς δὲ τὰ ἕλεα ἔδοξέ σφι διῶξαι ψιλώσαντας τὰ πλεῖστα τῆς δυνάμιος, ἐκ δὲ τῶν ἑλέων ὁρμώμενον μὴ ἐπιμίσγεσθαι τῇ ἄλλῃ Αἰγύπτῳ.


Ath. Deipn. 6.19 (231d) And so Herodotus says that the priests of the Egyptians drank from bronze cups, and that once, when their kings were offering sacrifice together, not enough silver cups to be given to all could be found; at any rate, Psammetichus, being younger than all the other kings, poured his libation from a bronze cup. Be that as it may, when the Pythian shrine was looted by the Phocian usurpers, gold flamed up everywhere among the Greeks, and silver also came romping in. Later, when the all-highest Alexander brought away for his own uses the treasures of Asia, the sun of ‘wealth, with far-flung might,’ as Pindar has it, verily rose. (trans. Gulick)

Hdt. 2.151 (1) Now the twelve kings dealt justly; and as time went on they came to sacrifice in Hephaestus’ temple. On the last day of the feast, they being about to pour libations, the high priest brought out the golden vessels which they commonly used for this; but he counted wrongly and gave the twelve only eleven. (2) So he who stood last of them, Psammetichus, got no vessel; wherefore taking off his bronze helmet he held it out and poured the libation with it. All the other kings too were wont to wear helmets, and were then helmeted; (3) it was not in guile, then, that Psammetichus held out his head-gear; but the rest marked Psammetichus’ deed, and remembered the oracle which promised the sovereignty of all Egypt to whosoever should pour libations from a vessel of bronze; wherefore, though they deemed Psammetichus not to deserve death (for they proved him and found that he had acted without intent), they resolved to strip him of the most of his power and chase him away into the marshes, and that he was not to concern himself with the rest of Egypt. (trans. Godley)