The Journal of Hellenic Studies

Research Article

The Orders of Gods in Greece and Egypt (According to Herodotus)

J. Gwyn Griffithsa1

a1 University College, Swansea

Herodotus has several references to the orders or companies of gods in Greece and Egypt, and they involve a comparison and a contrast.

They may be arranged, in translation, as follows:

(1) II, 4, 2. ‘They say that the Egyptians first used the names of the twelve gods, and that the Greeks adopted them from them.’

(2) II, 7, 2 mentions ‘the altar of the twelve gods at Athens’.

(3) II, 43, 2. ‘Concerning Heracles I heard this account, that he was one of the twelve gods.’

(4) II, 43, 4. ‘But to the Egyptians Heracles is an ancient god; and as they say themselves, there were seventeen thousand years to the reign of Amasis since the eight gods produced the twelve, of whom they consider Heracles to be one.’

(5) II, 46, 2. ‘The Mendesians hold Pan to be one of the eight gods, and they say that these eight gods came into existence before the twelve.’

(6) II, 145, 1. ‘Among the Greeks Heracles and Dionysus and Pan are considered to be the youngest of the gods, but among the Egyptians Pan is considered very ancient and one of the eight gods said to be the earliest, while Heracles is one of the second group, and Dionysus one of the third group, who were produced by the twelve.’