Herodotus on Proteus

Herodotus specifically mentions that Proteus came from Memphis (1st nome of Lower Egypt), implying that his predecessors did not. As a result, it is generally thought that he was a pharaoh of a new dynasty, possibly the twentieth dynasty (towards the end of the New Kingdom). Homer confirms that the pharaoh at the time of the Trojan war was Polybus, whom Herodotus clearly considered to be Proteus. He alleges that Helen and Alexander (Paris) were on the run from Menelaus and they were forced to harbour in Egypt due to a storm. The pharaoh decides that he could not condemn a traveller driven to his shores by the weather, and so he agreed not to hand Alexander over to Menelaus.

However, Pharaoh did not condone Alexander´s shameful behaviour, and so he decreed that Helen (and her treasure) must stay in Egypt until her husband can come to collect her. He further alleges that Menelaus and his pals were unaware of this and they descended on Ilion (Troy) to demand the return of Helen and the treasure. When the Trojan´s claimed they had neither, they launched their attack. He suggests that Helen must have been in Egypt because if she had been in Troy she would have been handed over to her husband, and alleges that Proteus built a temple to "the foreign Aphrodite" within his enclosure proving that she lived there.


Herodotus: Pharaohs

Min
Cheops
Chephren
Mykerinos
Asychis
Nitocris
Moiris
Sesostris
Pheros
Proteus
Rhampsinitos
Anysis
Sethon
Psammis
Apries
Amasis
Cambyses
Darius
copyright J Hill 2010
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