Herodotus on Apries (Wahibre)

Apries (Wahibre of the twenty-sixth dynasty towards the end of the Third Intermediate Period) is described by Herodotus as being “more blessed than any other king except the founder of his family, Psammeticus I”. However, it all went horribly wrong when he allegedly tempted fate by stating that only a god could bring his rule to an end.

When Apries launched an attack against Cyrene he was heavily defeated and his subjects held him responsible for the loss of so many Egyptian lives. To his dismay, the returning army and the friends and family of those who had died rose up against him. He sent Amasis (Ahmose II Khenemibre) to calm them down, but instead they crowned Amasis Pharaoh and marched with him against Apries.

Apries sent his messenger Patarbemis to summon Amasis to explain his betrayal, but Amasis told the messenger that he planned to kill his former master and seize the throne. The unfortunate Patarbemis returned alone and his report drove Apries into such a rage that he cut off the messenger’s ears and nose! On seeing this act of barbarism, those who had until then remained loyal promptly abandoned him. The king then sent mercenaries against his people, but there were too few of them and they were too weak to take on the Egyptians and were soundly beaten. Apries was disgraced and Amasis became Pharaoh of Egypt.

While elements of the story may be fanciful, much of it is supported by other sources. Apries sent a force to Libya to aid them against Dorian Greek invaders and returned to a civil revolt. The revolt was led by Amasis, who was victorious and was crowned pharaoh. He had Apries buried with full pharonic honours in Sais.

Herodotus: Pharaohs

Copyright J Hill 2010