According to currently accepted history, the Persian king, Cambyses conquered Egypt in 525 BC.

According to Herodotus, the pharaoh of Egypt at the time was "Psammetichos", whom modern historians sometimes name "Psamtik III." However, according to the epitome of the Persica by Thotius, it was "Amyrtaeus" that Cambyses defeated, and moreover the actual general was a certain eunuch named Bagapates, not Cambyses himself.

Which account is correct?

  • 2
    The first google hit redirected me to this wikipedia article. Sep 24 '15 at 16:18
  • @MikelUrkia I am familiar with the standard texts and derivatives of those texts such as the Wikipedia page you linked. These texts simply repeat the account of Herodotus and the authors of those texts (and Wikipedia pages) appear to be ignorant of the Persica, so such articles are of no use in resolving the question. Sep 24 '15 at 17:17
  • The comments on "Persica" say that "Amyrtaeus" is just author's fault. BTW. "Persica" is written by Ctesias, not Thotius.
    – Matt
    Sep 24 '15 at 17:31
  • @user4419802 What "comments"? I find no such comments. The Persica does not exist anymore, it is a lost work. The so-called "fragments" of the Persica are not fragments at all, but are an epitome written by Thotius (just one of many mistakes in the Wikipedia article). Sep 24 '15 at 17:38
  • I mean modern comments. "Persica" contradicts with other known sources on that matter, so it's natural to suppose that "Persica" contains an error.
    – Matt
    Sep 24 '15 at 17:43

Herodotus and Ctesias clearly contradict to each other, so there is no obvious answer on this question. Yet Manetho's "king list", as it was cited by Sextus Africanus, contains the name of Psammetichos (Psammecherit) just after Amasis, so Herodotus' version is usually preferred. This argument could be considered as weak, because Sextus Africanus could only see some epitome of Manetho's "Aegyptiaca", yet the situation with Amirtaeus is even worse, as he was mentioned exactly once.

There were several attempts to resolve this contradiction, e.g. by supposing that Amyrtaeus was the name of Psammetichos' son (Herodotus mentioned him several times but didn't say his name), but so far these are only the guesses without any proof.


A History of the Persian Empire

According to the book from Pierre Briant, as revealed on citation 9 on Wikipedia, From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire there is absolutely no debate to be had on who the pharoah of the time was, with that being Psamtik III.

Conquest of Egypt and its surroundings, Wikipedia

By 526 BC, Amasis II had died, and his son Psamtik III had succeeded him, thus weakening Egypt's position.[9] In the meantime, Cambyses had made substantial preparations for his army. He had essentially laid the foundations to the Persian navy, which was crucial to his ambitions to conquer Egypt.

Psamtik III, Photo by Juan R. Lazaro Head of a statue of Psamtik III


Now, according to Clayton 1999, from Wikipedia citation 2, there is absolutely no way Amyrtaeus could have been the pharoah which Cambyses II removed, as they are a completely different time period, and Amyrtaeus is credited with avenging the defeat and removing the Persians from power in Egypt in between 404 BC and 309 BC.


Amyrtaeus or Amyrtaios (both Hellenizations of the original Egyptian name Amenirdisu) of Sais, is the only pharaoh of the Twenty-eighth Dynasty of Egypt1 and is thought to be related to the royal family of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (664–525 BC). He ended the first Persian occupation of Egypt (i.e. the Twenty-seventh Dynasty: 525–404 BC)

Papyrus dating to Amyrtaeus, by Eduard Sachau (1845 - 1930) - Aramaic papyrus from Elephantine, dating to Regnal Year 5 of Amyrtaeus (400 BC).

Britannica encyclopedia

Now, just to be sure, without any ifs or buts or maybes that most recognised reputable sources do recognise Psamtik III as definitely being the pharoah of the time, i shall provide confirmation from the Britannica encyclopedia.

Cambyses II, Britannica encyclopedia

The conquest of Egypt, planned by Cyrus, was the major achievement of Cambyses’ reign. The invasion took place during the reign of Psamtik III.

What pharaoh did Cambyses defeat in the invasion of Egypt? The current understanding that would likely be accepted on most exam papers would be that Psamtik III was most likely the pharoah removed by Cambyses II, and Amyrtaeus was probably the pharoah which reversed this defeat over 100 years later.

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