Herodotus on Cheops (Khufu)

The Westcar Papyrus (written in the Middle Kingdom) depicts Cheops (the Greek name for Khufu) as a cruel ruler, unlike his benevolent father, Sneferu . Herodotus agrees, stating that he closed all of the temples, forbade sacrificial offerings, and forced the people to work for him so that he could build the Great Pyramid.

Herodotus claims that it took ten years to build the causeway, and twenty to build the pyramid and that “machines” were used to lift the heavy blocks of masonry. Unfortunately, he does not go on to explain the nature of the machines. He claimed that an underground sepulchre was constructed within the pyramid, and a tributary of the Nile flowed into the structure. The waters flowed around an island on which the King was buried. This clearly is fanciful as there was no stream, and no evidence of an island burial, in the pyramid.

He repeats the accusation that Khufu forced his daughter into prostitution in order to raise funds for the build. This enterprising young lady supposedly demanded an extra block of stone from each of her “clients” in order to build her own pyramid.

Herodotus advises that his brother Chephren (Khafre) succeeded him. However, it was in fact Djedefre (a son of Khufu) who became the next Pharaoh. Khafre reigned after Djedefre’s short rule, and was also a son of Khufu. Strangely, Herodotus claims that Khufu’s predecessor was Rhampsinitos, a name generally associated with the twentieth dynasty Ramessess III.

Herodotus: Pharaohs

Copyright J Hill 2010