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Nitocris

Nitocris

Nitocris (2184-2181 BCE) is the Greek name for Nitiqret, the last monarch of the 6th Dynasty of Egypt which concluded the period of the Old Kingdom (c. Nitocris is best known from the story told of her by Herodotus (484-425/413 BCE) in his Histories (Book II.100) in which she murders the assassins of her brother at a banquet.

More than Just a Name?

For the past century the historicity of Nitocris has been questioned by scholars, even though her name appears on the Turin King's List of Egyptian monarchs, is also mentioned by Manetho (3rd century BCE) in his list of 6th century Egyptian monarchs and by Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276-194 BCE) in his Theban List of Egyptian Monarchy. Flavius Josephus (37-100 CE) references Herodotus' story in his Antiquities of the Jews (Book VIII.6.2) calling her Nicaule and does not question the authenticity of the tale. Eratosthenes' mention of Nitocris is known through the work of Apollodorus of Athens (c. 180 BCE) which is cited by Syncellus (c. 810 CE) in his Selection of Chronography. Still, because there is no physical evidence of this queen - no inscriptions, no monuments, no tomb - nor any later reference to her, some scholars have claimed her name is simply a scribal error for that of the last king of the 6th Dynasty, Neitiqerty Siptah.

Nitocris is increasingly being recognized as the first Queen Regnant of Egypt & the last monarch of the Old Kingdom.

Recently, however, an increasing number of Egyptologists and scholars have come to accept that Herodotus' account may have some basis in fact and Nitocris is increasingly being recognized as the first Queen Regnant of Egypt and the last monarch of the Old Kingdom. The underlying reason for this new evaluation of Nitocris is unclear but may have to do with the kind of evidence first presented by the Egyptologist Percy E. Newberry (1869-1949 CE) who argued that Nitocris was an actual Egyptian ruler, not just a character in a fable repeated by Herodotus, and that her historicity should be accepted.

Herodotus & Other Accounts

Herodotus' account of Nitocris is often cited as the only evidence of the queen in history. While it is the only source for the story of her revenge, there are, as noted, other sources. Herodotus writes:

After him came three hundred and thirty kings, whose names the priests recited from a papyrus roll. In all these many generations there were eighteen Ethiopian kings, and one queen, native to the country; the rest were all Egyptian men. The name of the queen was the same as that of the Babylonian princess, Nitocris. She, to avenge her brother (he was king of Egypt and was slain by his subjects, who then gave Nitocris the sovereignty) put many of the Egyptians to death by treachery. She built a spacious underground chamber; then, with the pretence of inaugurating it, but with quite another intent in her mind, she gave a great feast, inviting to it those Egyptians whom she knew to have had the most complicity in her brother's murder; and while they feasted, she let the river in upon them by a vast secret channel. This was all that the priests told of her, except that when she had done this she cast herself into a chamber full of hot ashes, to escape vengeance. (Histories, II.100)

Scholars became suspect of this account when no Egyptian sources were found to corroborate it and even more so when it was considered that Herodotus reported a similar event only a few chapters later. In chapter 107 of the same book he relates the story of the Egyptian king Sesostris who returns home from a campaign and stops near Pelusium where he meets his brother, whom he had left in charge of the country while away. A great banquet is held in honor of the king but, while he and his family are inside, his brother orders the building ringed with wood and set on fire. Sesostris escapes only by sacrificing two of his sons to the flames as a human bridge which enables the others to reach safety. The king later deals with his treasonous brother (Histories II.107).

This story also has no known corroboration in Egyptian history and, further, a number of kings have been associated with Sesostris (among them Senusret III, Amenhotep III, and Ramesses II). Sesostris has also been cited by a number of ancient historians as the first to conquer the known world or to have conquered Egypt and so is regarded as a mythical figure, an amalgam of different stories of different Egyptian kings, not historical.

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Manetho simply lists Nitocris' name and credits her as "braver than any man of her time" and of exceptional beauty (Waddell, 54). He also, however, credits her with "building the third pyramid" which has been rejected completely by Egyptologists because it is well established that the third pyramid was built by Menkaure (2532-2503 BCE).

Percy E. Newberry argued that physical evidence for Nitocris in Egypt was available if one knew what one was looking for.

Eratosthenes lists her as ruling for six years from Thebes and notes she was the 22nd ruler since Menes, "a queen, not a king, her name means 'Athena the Victorious'" but gives no further details. Josephus mentions her as Nicaule, cites Herodotus, but does not elaborate on the revenge story. Apollodorus of Athens preserved Eratosthenes' table of Egyptian kings and Syncellus later cited it also without any additional information. This lack of any corroboration of Herodotus' account is how Nitocris came to be regarded as mythical. However, Percy E. Newberry, in 1943 CE, argued that these other sources should be taken more seriously in establishing the historicity of Nitocris and, further, that physical evidence in Egypt was available if one knew what one was looking for.

Newberry's Argument

Percy E. Newberry is nowhere near as well known as he should be. It was Newberry who first brought Howard Carter to Egypt in 1891 CE and set Carter on the path toward discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 CE. Newberry, in fact, would work with Carter on the excavation and evaluation of the contents, being especially knowledgable in botany and able to identify certain organic elements in the tomb.

In The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Volume 29, Newberry presented his case in the article Queen Nitocris of the Sixth Dynasty in which he states how he finds it "remarkable" that his colleagues should consider this woman as either a king or mythical character when a preponderance of evidence exists to establish her authenticity as the first fully attested queen of Egypt (51-52).

Nitocris, according to Newberry, is not only listed on the Turin King's List but the Abydos King's List and, further, her tomb can be identified at Saqqara. He interprets Nitocris' name as "Neith is Excellent" and demonstrates how the name Neith appears on the tomb of one of Pepi II's queens.

He then makes an interesting observation concerning Manetho's repudiated claim that Nitocris built the third pyramid. Newberry points out that the great Egyptologist Flinders Petrie noted some years earlier how Manetho simply says she built the third pyramid and that scholars since have assumed he meant the third at Giza; but this may not be his meaning at all. It is possible, since Manetho gives no location for this "third pyramid", that he was referring to the third at Saqqara, not at Giza. Newberry then points out that the third pyramid at Saqqara is that of Neith (53).

Even if Manetho does mean the third pyramid at Giza, Newberry observes, this still does not mean one should reject his account since the prenomen (given name) of the woman in the tomb of Neith at Saqqara may have been Menkare which could have been easily confused for Menkaure (54). Nitocris, Newberry claims, may have been the wife of Pepi II who lived so long that all his heirs died long before he did. In such a situation, his wife could have stepped in to rule. This interpretation is in keeping with Eratosthenes' report that Nitocris was "a queen, not a king", a line which can also be interpreted as "a wife, in place of her husband".

Support for Herodotus' Account

Newberry's evidence regarding the tomb, and the interpretation of Eratosthenes' line, however, do not support Herodotus' account of a queen avenging herself for her king-brother's murder, however, since Pepi II was not her brother and, besides, lived and reigned upwards of sixty years. Arguments that she was the wife of Merenre I (2287-2278 BCE) also fail in that he was not murdered nor did he die young. Further, Pepi II's wife Neith does not fit the time period for the reign of Nitocris nor is her pyramid tomb at Saqqara the third built; Egyptologists have long held that Neith's tomb was the first constructed and the most elaborate after the king's.

Arguments that she was the sister of Merenre Nemtyemsaf II (2184 BCE), Pepi II's son and successor, have been considered - and are still the most likely - but were rejected when it was thought Nitocris was a fictional character. One could argue that her brother was Neitiqerty Siptah (also given as Netjerkare Siptah), usually listed as the last king of the 6th Dynasty and who did have a short reign. This king's time on the throne, however, corresponds exactly to Nitocris' own; which is why Egyptologists came to believe her name was simply a scribal mistake for his.

The most probable explanation is that Nitocris was the sister of Merenre Nemtyemsaf II, who reigned for only a year after Pepi II, and would have been the last king before Nitocris. Egyptologist Jaromir Malek, among others, contends that the chaos which ensued after Pepi II's death resulted in confused and missing records and that the queen Nitiqret (Nitocris) was the last monarch of the 6th Dynasty:

Pepy II was succeeded by Merenra II (Nemtyemsaf), Queen Nitiqret (2184-2181 BC), and some seventeen or more ephemeral kings who represent Manetho's 7th and 8th Dynasties...Most of these rulers are little more than names for us but several of them are known from the protective decrees issued for the temple of Min at Koptos. (Shaw, 107)

The 6th Dynasty had been disintegrating for some time during the reign of Pepi II and his death "provoked a dynastic crisis more serious than anything Egypt had faced since the foundation of the state" (Wilkinson, 103). The Egyptians kept very careful records of everything they did but those from the end of the 6th Dynasty are confused or non-existent. Egyptologists routinely describe the collapse of the Old Kingdom as a time of great social upheaval and political confusion. Wilkinson, writing on Nitocris and the collapse, notes that, "Neitiqerty Siptah was of uncertain descent and we cannot even be certain about gender: the name suggests a man but later tradition identified Neitiquerty as a reigning queen" and that "after Neitiquerty (who left no monuments or even inscriptions), the throne passed from one weak ruler to another" (103).

In the midst of this crisis following Pepi II's death, Merenre II seems to have lacked the skills to maintain order. It is possible that Nitocris was seen as a stronger ruler than her brother - whomever he may have been - and so was elevated to the throne after a coup. This is pure speculation, however, since no evidence - other than Herodotus' report - exists. Still, more scholars now accept the account as valid than probably at any other time in the past. Egyptologist Barbara Watterson writes:

The first Queen Regnant of Egypt was Nitocris (c. 2180 BC), of whom nothing much is known except that she came to the throne at a time of political instability on the death of an aged king, Pepi II, who had reigned for over ninety years. Manetho asserted that she was the 'noblest and loveliest of the women of her time, of fair complexion' and, according to Herodotus, she committed suicide after taking vengeance on the men who had murdered her brother in order to put her on the throne. With the death of Nitocris, the Old Kingdom came to an end. (110)

Malek, Watterson, and Wilkinson, all Egyptologists of high standing, make no concession to the old understanding of Nitocris as a mythical figure or the result of an ancient spelling error. Although Newberry's claims regarding the pyramid tomb at Saqqara are questionable, his argument that Nitocris should be accepted because she is included on two king's lists, as well as accepted without question by the scholar Eratosthenes, holds more weight. There are many rulers, as Malek notes, who are "little more than names" from around the same period and whose historicity goes unquestioned. The queen from Herodotus' account is now recognized as an actual historical figure even though scholars are still working with the same information they had 100 years ago.

Conclusion

An interesting detail from the ancient sources is how Manetho lists Nitocris' reign as twelve years total while Eratosthenes gives her reign as six from Thebes (Pritchard, 103). It is possible, following Herodotus' account, that the sister of the king was placed on the throne following a coup at Memphis. She then reigned from the traditional capital while constructing her underground banquet hall at Thebes where she would eventually punish the assassins who had been her supporters. The latter part of her reign, then, would have been from Thebes where she exacted her vengeance and then killed herself.

Female rulers in Egypt were rare but there certainly is precedent from the Early Dynastic Period.

Herodotus claims she committed suicide to escape retribution but, as an Egyptian queen, could have also done so to atone for the sin of murder. An Egyptian monarch was expected to maintain the value of ma'at (balance and harmony) and the killing of a number of nobles at a party one was hosting would have been considered an offense against ma'at and a serious sin. This, of course, is speculative but probable in such a scenario. Although the 7th and 8th Dynasties continued to rule from Memphis, it would be Herakleopolis and Thebes which would emerge as the the two seats of power in the next era and Thebes was already well established and prosperous when Nitocris would have moved there.

It would also not have been surprising for a woman to take the throne. Female rulers in Egypt were rare but there certainly is precedent from the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-c.2613 BCE). The wife of the first king, Narmer (c. 3150 BCE), Neithhotep is thought to have ruled following his death and it is certain that Queen Merneith (c. 2990 BCE) acted as regent for her son Den (c. 2990-2940 BCE), the fifth king of the First Dynasty and may have ruled on her own. According to scholar Francesco Raffaele, "In the reign of the third king of Manetho's 2nd Dynasty, Binothris (Njnetjet), the priest of Sebennytos reports it was decided that the women could eventually reign" (2). Following the time of Nitocris there would be other powerful women such as Sobekneferu (c.1807-1802 BCE) who reigned under her own authority and Queen Ahotep I (c. 1570-1530 BCE) who mobilized the military to put down a rebellion while her son Ahmose I was away on campaign.

Throughout the New Kingdom (c. 1570-1069 BCE) there were many strong women who exerted a powerful influence over Egypt whose names are well known: Hatshepsut, who reigned as pharaoh; Tiye, wife of Amunhotep III; Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaten; and Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II not to mention those who exercised power through the position of God's Wife of Amun into the Third Intermediate and Late periods of the culture and others who did the same as King's Mother. Considering all the evidence at one's disposal, it is probable that there did exist a queen known to the Greeks as Nitocris who tried to maintain order in the chaos of the Old Kingdom collapse and died in that attempt.


Nitocris - History

There are three women in Egyptian history who are clearly identified as pharaoh, Nitocris, Hatshepsut, Cleopatra. Nitocris is the first. Her name appears in a cartouche, which is reserved for pharaohs.

Nitocris is not mentioned in any contemporary sources -- no buildings, no mentions in biographies, no inscriptions -- but she is mentioned in the king lists of Turin, and by Herodotus and Manetho. Since we rely on these sources heavily, it seems reasonable to assume that she did indeed exist, but her role is in question.

The Turin canon lists her after Pepi II and (possibly) Merenre II and some other unknown pharaoh. The confusion is a reflection of the disintegration of the Old Kingdom, which led to theFirst Intermediate Period. She may be somehow linked to another king, Neterkare, who may have existed at the same time.

But Manetho is a bit suspect, as he asserts that Nitocris build the "third pyramid" at Giza (the one we attribute to Menkaure/Mycerinos). It's possible that he confused the name of Men-kaw-re with Nitocris' praenomen, Men-ka-re.

It is believed that she came into power when her brother (and possibly husband) Merenre II was murdered. The story is that she invited his murders to a banquet and then flooded the sealed banquet room with the Nile. Then, to avoid the wrath of the other conspirators, she committed suicide (apparently by running into a room of burning embers and flinging herself into the flames) A romanticized story, to say the least, but it has been retold for centuries.


Queen Nitocris (Neterkare or Nitikrty)

Queen Nitocris (Neterkare or Nitiqrty – “The Soul of Re is Divine”) left no archaeological record. She is known to us only from Manetho and Herodotus and she may be the shadowy “nitiqirty” (or “neterkare”) listed in the Turin Canon. If she did rule Ancient Egypt it was most likely at the end of the Old Kingdom and the beginning of the First Intermediate Period.

Herodotus recorded that her husband, Merenre II, was murdered. The Queen took her revenge on the murderers and then took her own life.

Nitocris was the beautiful and virtuous wife and sister of King Metesouphis II (Merenre II), an Old Kingdom monarch who had ascended to the throne at the end of the Sixth Dynasty but who had been savagely murdered by his subjects soon afterwards. Nitocris then became the sole ruler of Ancient Egypt and determined to avenge the death of her beloved husband-brother. She gave orders for the secret construction of a huge underground hall connected to the river Nile by a hidden channel. When this chamber was complete she threw a splendid inaugural banquet, inviting as guests all those whom she held personally responsible for the death of the king. While the unsuspecting guests were feasting she commanded that the secret conduit be opened and. As the Nile waters flooded in, all the traitors were drowned. In order to escape the vengeance of the Egyptian people she then committed suicide by throwing herself into a great chamber filled with hot ashes and suffocating

Manetho described her as “braver than all men of her time, the most beautiful of all women, fair skinned with red cheeks”, but then he also claimed that she built the third pyramid at Giza (due to his misreading of Menkaure as Menkare (her prenomen).

Some commentators have suggested that “she” was in fact a “he”, while others have decided that Nitiqrty or Neterkare never actually existed. It is also possible that Nitiqrty and Neterkare were separate individuals. Without more evidence it is hard to be certain.


Nitocris (fl. 6th c. bce)

Nitocris is said to have been the wife of Labynetus and mother of Labynetus. However, she represents a legendary composite of a queen alleged to have had an Assyrian background, mistakenly thought by Herodotus to have been responsible for major works in northern Mesopotamia and Babylon in the early 6th century bce. Called a woman of great intelligence, Nitocris was credited with planning a strategic defence of Babylonia against the encroachment of her enemy, the Medes (from modern Iran). Chief among her works is said to have been the engineering of the Euphrates River so as to redirect its straight channel into a meandering one, supposedly both to lessen the force of the river's flow and to create obstacles which would limit the river's usefulness as a military highway. Associated with this project was the construction of major reservoirs, intended to trap significant amounts of water from the swiftly flowing stream for local use (in fact, such projects were known on the Euphrates). Also attributed to Nitocris was the construction of the first bridge across the Euphrates which linked the two halves of the city of Babylon split by the river (a bridge with removable planking, which could be taken up at night to limit illicit traffic). A third anecdote associated with Nitocris concerns her tomb, supposedly placed in the fortifications above one of Babylon's most important gates. Herodotus writes that an inscription attached to this tomb read: "If any lord of Babylon is hereafter bereft of funds, he may open this tomb and replenish from its contents as much as he likes. However, he can only do this if he is in dire need. Otherwise, no good will come from violating my rest." It is said that when the Persian king Darius opened the tomb, he was assaulted by another inscription which admonished: "If you had not been excessively greedy and eager to get money by the vilest of means, you would never have violated my tomb."

It is clear that in Herodotus' mind this Nitocris represented the archetype of a worthy monarch, who both served her subjects and represented a moral example with the power to chastise those who did not. However, no such queen is known from Near Eastern records, and the name Nitocris is Egyptian in origin. It is likely that Herodotus misunderstood his sources for Nitocris and probably attributed to this fictitious monarch achievements which should be credited to Nebuchadnezzar II and to Amyntis (his wife from Media), who was probably the inspiration behind the famous "Hanging Gardens of Babylon"—itself a prodigious user of available water.

William Greenwalt , Associate Professor of Classical History, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California

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Nitocris (c. 660–584 bce)

Reigned as Thebes' high-priestess for 70 years, linking upper Egypt with lower Egypt. Born around 660 bce died in 584 bce daughter of Nabu-Shezibanni, known as Psammetichus or Psametik adopted by Shepenupet II, in 656.

Nitocris was born around 660 bce, the daughter of Nabu-Shezibanni, known as Psammetichus, a noble from the Egyptian city of Sais. Nitocris, which means "Neith is victorious" (Neith was a warrior goddess of Sais), was a popular name during the period when Egypt was ruled by pharaohs from Sais. When the last great Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627 bce) conquered Egypt in 663 bce, he was helped by Psammetichus, an ambitious aspirant to the Egyptian throne who was in part motivated to cooperate with the Assyrians by the desire to rid Egypt of the declining Nubian dynasty which controlled much of upper (southern) Egypt. When Ashurbanipal left Egypt to devote himself to pressing problems elsewhere, he put Psammetichus in charge of the ancient land as his client-king. Psammetichus assumed the status of pharaoh in 663 bce, thus founding Egypt's 26th ruling dynasty since the unification of upper and lower Egypt around 3000 bce. Psammetichus paid tribute to Ashurbanipal until 651 bce, when it became clear that an accumulation of problems elsewhere made it unlikely that the Assyrian king would ever return to Egypt. Even before this statement of independence, Psammetichus did everything he could to consolidate his control of Egypt as far south as the First Cataract. This he had trouble doing, especially in the extreme south, for Ashurbanipal in the midst of his conquest had flattened the ancient royal city of Thebes, then a stronghold of Nubian rule.

Despite Ashurbanipal's military success, he had not completely eradicated the Nubian influence in Thebes because, at least technically, the local source of political authority was the high-priestess of the area's most important god—the solar deity, Amun. This priestess drew her influence from the fact that she was believed by the local population to be the "wife of Amun." The holder of this office when Psammetichus came to power was Shepenupet II , a woman with Nubian ties. Thus, to assert his authority in the south and effectively reunify Egypt after a period when its traditional northern and southern regions had been politically split, Psammetichus had his daughter Nitocris adopted by Shepenupet II in 656 bce, so that when the latter died, Nitocris became "Amun's wife."

Nitocris was introduced to Thebes with a show of might, although Psammetichus made sure that the local population's religious beliefs were respected. Thus, when Shepenupet II died, Nitocris inherited her priesthood, a position which she held—linking upper Egypt with lower Egypt—until her death in 584 bce, a period of almost 70 years. Her assumption of the religious duties associated with her status as "Amun's wife" anchored her dynasty's political control over Thebes and the south. The link worked so successfully that it became the policy by which the 26th dynasty secured the loyalty of its southern subjects, for in turn, Nitocris adopted Ankhnesneferibre in 595 bce as her daughter and heir. Ankhnesneferibre, the daughter of the reigning pharaoh Psammeticus II, later adopted Nitocris II , the daughter of Amasis, in 570 bce. Nitocris II was the last of her dynasty to reign as Thebes' high-priestess, for she held the post when the Persians dethroned her father and added Egypt to their empire in 526 bce.

William Greenwalt , Associate Professor of Classical History, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California

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Nitocris

Biography, Facts and information about the life of a Pharaoh
The term
pharaoh was the title of an ancient Egyptian king who was considered to be a living god and worshipped as a deity. Nitocris is believed to be the first female Pharaoh of Egypt. The pharaoh was an absolute ruler of Egypt, both the political and religious leader.

  • Nitocris was also known as Nitiqret and Nitokris
  • Egyptian Period / Kingdom: Old Kingdom
  • Dynasty: Nitocris ruled jointly with her husband in the Sixth Egyptian Dynasty
  • Name of Previous Pharaoh: Pepi I (2332BC - 2283 BC)
  • Years of Reign: 2283BC - 2278 BC
  • Succeeded by: Pepi II - 2278BC - 2184 BC
  • Family
    • Husband: She was married to Pharaoh Nemtyemsaf Merenre who reigned from 2283BC - 2278 BC

    Nitocris
    Each section of this Ancient Egyptian website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Pharaohs and of Nitocris. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of the Ancient Egyptian Kings - their life, family, reign, dynasty, important dates and events and accomplishments.


    Nitocris

    1 The main source on her is one paragraph in Herodotus’s Histories, which I’ll reproduce here in full: “To avenge her brother (he was king of Egypt and was slain by his subjects who then gave Nitocris the sovereignty) she put many Egyptians to death by guile. She built a spacious underground chamber then, with the pretence of handselling it, but with far other intent in her mind, she gave a great feast, inviting those Egyptians whom she knew to have been most concerned in her brother’s murder and, while they feasted, she let the river in upon them by a great secret channel. This was all that the priests told of her, save that when she had done this, she cast herself into chamber of hot ashes, thereby to escape vengeance.”

    2 The hieroglyphs here are taken from the art for Hatshepsut – I was strapped for time – save for the ones enclosed by an elongated circle on the screen left wall, behind the musicians. That is the ostensible name of Nitocris as written on the Royal Papyrus of Turin – or so it was thought. More on this in a bit.

    3 For a long time the only evidence of Nitocris, outside of Herodotus and Manetho, was from the aforementioned Royal Papyrus of Turin, an extremely tattered listing of Egyptian rulers. For many years – possibly back to Herodotus’s time? – it had been assembled incorrectly, and listed Nitocris at the end of the 6th Dynasty. Using microscopic analysis in 2000, though, historian Kim Ryholt discovered the correct ordering, and that the fragment assumed to refer to Nitocris was, in fact, referring to one of the names of a previously-established male king. As it stands, there’s no architecture or tomb or any other evidence of Nitocris’s reign, aside from ancient Greek texts. Still, great story!

    ↑ 1 The main source on her is one paragraph in Herodotus’s Histories, which I’ll reproduce here in full: “To avenge her brother (he was king of Egypt and was slain by his subjects who then gave Nitocris the sovereignty) she put many Egyptians to death by guile. She built a spacious underground chamber then, with the pretence of handselling it, but with far other intent in her mind, she gave a great feast, inviting those Egyptians whom she knew to have been most concerned in her brother’s murder and, while they feasted, she let the river in upon them by a great secret channel. This was all that the priests told of her, save that when she had done this, she cast herself into chamber of hot ashes, thereby to escape vengeance.”
    ↑ 2 The hieroglyphs here are taken from the art for Hatshepsut – I was strapped for time – save for the ones enclosed by an elongated circle on the screen left wall, behind the musicians. That is the ostensible name of Nitocris as written on the Royal Papyrus of Turin – or so it was thought. More on this in a bit.
    ↑ 3 For a long time the only evidence of Nitocris, outside of Herodotus and Manetho, was from the aforementioned Royal Papyrus of Turin, an extremely tattered listing of Egyptian rulers. For many years – possibly back to Herodotus’s time? – it had been assembled incorrectly, and listed Nitocris at the end of the 6th Dynasty. Using microscopic analysis in 2000, though, historian Kim Ryholt discovered the correct ordering, and that the fragment assumed to refer to Nitocris was, in fact, referring to one of the names of a previously-established male king. As it stands, there’s no architecture or tomb or any other evidence of Nitocris’s reign, aside from ancient Greek texts. Still, great story!

    Art Notes

    Pretty straightforward this time! Nitocris wears a leopard skin, as pharaohs were known to do in the Old Kingdom:


    2. Twosret

    Twosret (also known as Tausret) was a ruler of the kingdom of ancient Egypt and was the last Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty. Twosret is believed to have been the daughter to Takhat and Merenptah and sister to Amenmesse. Historians and archeologists believe that Twosret was the second royal wife to Pharaoh Seti II. Upon the death of Seti II, Twosret became the queen regent to the rightful heir, Siptah, a position she held until the death of Siptah. After the death of Siptah, Twosret ascended to the throne to become pharaoh around 1191 BC. In the later years of Twosret’s reign, Egypt was plagued by civil wars which are believed to have caused her death. Historians believe Twosret died around 1189 BC and her death marked the end of the 19th Dynasty and was succeeded by Setnakhte who marked the beginning of the 20th Dynasty.


    Nitocris - History

    Who is Belshazzar?
    Belshazzar was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. (See Jer. 27:7)

    According to Josephus, c.Ap.I.20, who was quoting from Berosus, it indicates that Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded in the kingdom by his son Evilmerodach, who reigned badly for two years and was put to death by Neriglissor, the husband of his sister, who then reigned for four years. Neriglissor’s son Laborosoarchod, reigned after his father for nine months, but was murdered. His murderers elevated Nabonnedus, one of the conspirators, to the throne. In Nabonnedus’ seventeenth year Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, but Nabonnedus was not killed in Babylon, he had fortified himself in Borsippa, which Cyrus also conquered and sent Nabonnedus to Carmania where he lived out the rest of his life.

    According to this and other reports there were four kings after Nebuchadnezzar
    -- his son, Evilmerodach,
    --his son-in-law, Neriglissor,
    --his grandson (daughter’s son) Laborosoarchod,
    --and the last king who, to all appearances was not related to Nebuchadnezzar, namely Nabonnedus who was not put to death by Cyrus at the fall of Babylon.

    With these facts in view, historians and critics cast great doubt on this story found in Daniel, as there seemed to be no historical evidence of a king Belshazzar, a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar, who perished in the Babylonian take-over.

    However, in the 20th century archaeologists found a cuneiform table, called the "Persian Verse Account of Nabonidus". Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus. After ruling Babylon for three years (553 B.C.), Nabonidus departed the great city and spent ten years in Tema in Arabia, during this time Nabonidus appointed Belshazzar as the ruler of Babylon. Significantly, when the Persians conquered Babylon, Nabonidus was not there, but Belshazzar was!

    Yet, this still does not link Belshazzar to Nebuchadnezzar-- at least not through his father.

    Several commentators believe the “queen mother” which appears in Daniel 5 is Nitocris. Who is Nitocris? She is actually quite a famous daughter of Nebuchadnezzar and most likely the mother of Belshazzar.

    Herodotus: From The History of the Persian Wars

    I.185 Nitocris, a wiser princess than her predecessor, not only left behind her, as memorials of her occupancy of the throne, the works which I shall presently describe, but also, observing the great power and restless enterprise of the Medes, who had taken so large a number of cities, and among them Nineveh, and expecting to be attacked in her turn, made all possible exertions to increase the defenses of her empire. And first, whereas the river Euphrates, which traverses the city, ran formerly with a straight course to Babylon, she, by certain excavations which she made at some distance up the stream, rendered it so winding that it comes three several times in sight of the same village, a village in Assyria, which is called Ardericea and to this day, they who would go from our sea to Babylon, on descending to the river touch three times, and on three different days, at this very place.

    She also made an embankment along each side of the Euphrates, wonderful both for breadth and height, and dug a basin for a lake a great way above Babylon, close alongside of the stream, which was sunk everywhere to the point where they came to water, and was of such breadth that the whole circuit measured four hundred and twenty furlongs. The soil dug out of this basin was made use of in the embankments along the waterside. When the excavation was finished, she had stones brought, and bordered with them the entire margin of the reservoir. These two things were done, the river made to wind, and the lake excavated, that the stream might be slacker by reason of the number of curves, and the voyage be rendered circuitous, and that at the end of the voyage it might be necessary to skirt the lake and so make a long round. All these works were on that side of Babylon where the passes lay, and the roads into Media were the straightest, and the aim of the queen in making them was to prevent the Medes from holding intercourse with the Babylonians, and so to keep them in ignorance of her affairs.

    I.186: While the soil from the excavation was being thus used for the defense of the city, Nitocris engaged also in another undertaking, a mere by-work compared with those we have already mentioned. The city, as I said, was divided by the river into two distinct portions. Under the former kings, if a man wanted to pass from one of these divisions to the other, he had to cross in a boat which must, it seems to me, have been very troublesome. Accordingly, while she was digging the lake, Nitocris be. thought herself of turning it to a use which should at once remove this inconvenience, and enable her to leave another monument of her reign over Babylon. She gave orders for the hewing of immense blocks of stone, and when they were ready and the basin was excavated, she turned the entire stream of the Euphrates into the cutting, and thus for a time, while the basin was filling, the natural channel of the river was left dry. Forthwith she set to work, and in the first place lined the banks of the stream within the city with quays of burnt brick, and also bricked the landing-places opposite the river-gates, adopting throughout the same fashion of brickwork which had been used in the town wall after which, with the materials which had been prepared, she built, as near the middle of the town as possible, a stone bridge, the blocks whereof were bound together with iron and lead. In the daytime square wooden platforms were laid along from pier to pier, on which the inhabitants crossed the stream but at night they were withdrawn, to prevent people passing from side to side in the dark to commit robberies. When the river had filled the cutting, and the bridge was finished, the Euphrates was turned back again into its ancient bed and thus the basin, transformed suddenly into a lake, was seen to answer the purpose for which it was made, and the inhabitants, by help of the basin, obtained the advantage of a bridge.

    I.188: The expedition of Cyrus was undertaken against the son of this princess, who bore the same name as his father Labynetus, (Nebonitius) and was king

    According to Herodotus, Nitocris completed many of the works started by Nebuchadnezzar . She was credited with great wisdom and she was chief of public affairs, occupying the throne. She fortified the city as the Medes and Persians were advancing, and her son was on the throne when Cyrus ordered the taking of Babylon!

    From the story found in Daniel 5, we know she was well acquainted with Nebuchadnezzar, and that she obviously could walk in to the king without being invited and tell the king what to do.

    The Bible simply calls her “the queen” Daniel five also speaks of Belshazzar’s wives being at the party, but this woman exhibited authority that distinctly set her apart as "the queen".

    So let‘s see if these pieces can come together-- we know Neriglissor was married to Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter.

    Then in an entry in Easton’s bible dictionary on Belshazzar we find Belshazzar is the son of Nabonadius by Nitocris widow of Nergal-Sharezer (Neriglissor).

    So--
    Nebuchadnezzar dies, his son Evil-Merodach comes to the throne. Nitocris’s (Nebuchadnezzar daughter)marries Neriglissor. Her husband, Neriglissor usurps the throne using his wife to establish legitimacy. Since Nitocris was such a high profile princess, the people would have known her, and accepted her. But then her husband, Neriglissor, dies and is replaced by their son. There is an uprising and apparently this son is killed.

    Nitocris swings into action and marries the aspiring Nabonidius, securing her position and giving him a legitimate claim to the throne.

    But now is it possible that Belshazzar was an adopted son of Nabonidus? a son of queen Nitocris from her previous marriage? After all Nabonidius only reigned 17 years, which is not a long enough time to produce a son old enough to take over the reign of Babylon after the third year and oversee Babylon for at least 10 of those years.

    Why was the king away from Babylon so much? Could there have been an arrangement made between him and Nitocris which included giving her the reign of Babylon through her son Belshazzar? It is almost as if Nabonidius took the rest of the empire but left the reign of the capital of Babylon itself for the queen and her son.

    It is also most interesting that Herodutus credits Nitocis with building fortifications which the historian Berosus credits to Nabonidius.

    The above probability fit’s the story of Daniel. The queen would have been an extremely important figure, well acquainted with her father, King Nebuchadnezzar, and the main consistent center of power in the years following him. It would explain why she could walk in and tell the king what to do. It would also explain how Daniel was in one sense still considered an advisor in the kingdom (the queen wanted it so) but almost forgotten by the king.


    Read Tennessee Williams’s first published short story. (It’s weird.)

    Today would be Tennessee Williams’s 110 th birthday to celebrate, we’re looking way back to before his storied career, when he was a teenager that knew he wanted to be a writer. When Williams was sixteen, he made his fiction debut in the pages of Weird Tales under his given name, Thomas Lanier Williams. His published story, “The Vengeance of Nitocris,” which you can read in full here, was a piece of historical fiction set in ancient Egypt the story follows Nitocris, sister to an unnamed pharaoh, who takes revenge on the mob of citizens who execute her brother.

    As Francesca M. Hitchcock points out in Mississippi Quarterly, this story was . . . not a hit. Dennis Vannatta in Tennessee Williams: A Study of the Short Fiction evaluates “The Vengeance of Nitocris” as “just about the way one would expect a sixteen-year-old contributor to Weird Tales to write . . . almost uniformly clichéd, strained, and dreadful,” and Donald Spoto, one of Williams’s biographers, noted the story’s “patent lack of poetic diction.”

    So, less than stellar reviews. But Williams stands by the work. Thirty years after the story’s publication, Williams said this in the New York Times:

    I was sixteen when I wrote [“The Vengeance of Nitocris”], but already a confirmed writer, having entered upon this vocation at the age of fourteen, and, if you’re well acquainted with my writings since then, I don’t have to tell you that it set the keynote for most of the work that has followed.

    Bold move to draw New York Times readers’ attention to your juvenilia, but Williams is right. Even if the prose itself wasn’t up to snuff, “The Vengeance of Nitocris” marks the first outing of themes Williams would explore more deeply in his later writing. Nitocris, an arguably mad female protagonist, anticipates Williams’s later antiheroines (most notably Blanche DuBois) psychically bonded brother-sister relationships reappear in much of his work including The Glass Menagerie and critics note that the connection between violence and passion—that we see when the pharaoh is dismembered in “The Vengeance of Nitocris”—shows up again, well . . . everywhere. (We even get another dismembering in Suddenly Last Summer—and for contemporary plays, that’s rare!) There may have been no Glass Menagerie or Streetcar Named Desire or Out Cry/The Two-Character Play without “The Vengeance of Nitocris.”

    In my mind, this arc should be heartening for young writers. Each thing you write readies you to write your next thing. Experiment as much as you want, without fear of embarrassment—how else will you find your voice? Plus, Weird Tales paid Williams $35, the equivalent of more than $500 today. So, you know, all winners here.


    Watch the video: Princesa Nitócris (December 2021).