Prose life of Alexander
J.S. Westlake

How Anectanabus fled Egypt to Macedonia

The most learned Egyptians who know the size of the earth, the waves of the sea, and the order of the heavens (betokening the way of the stars and the turning of the skies), have bequeathed these things to the whole world through the highness and the wisdom of magic knowledge. And they tell of a king of that land, by name Anectanabus, great in understanding, and full of love in astrology and mathematics. Now, upon a day it happened that a messenger came, and said unto him that Artaxerxes, king of the Persians, was drawing nigh towards him with a very great force of foes. Yet he did not call out his army, nor get ready his advance. Instead of this, he hurried into his bed-chambers in his palace, and, taking down a brazen shell, which was full of rain-water, and holding in his hand a brazen rod, sought by magic spells to summon the devils. By which wizardry he felt, in the shell itself, the fleets sailing over him amid fearful affray.

Now there were lords of Anectanabus set in sway over his armies to guard the Persian border.

And one hapless man coming to him, besought him: 'O most mighty King Anectanabus, there ariseth against thee Artaxerxes, the king of the Persians, with an untold horde of foes and strange races. For they are Parthians, Medes, Persians, Syrians, Mesopotamians, Brapes, Phares, Argiri, Chaldaeans, Bachiri, Confires, Hircanians, and Agiophii, and many other folks coming from Eastern lands.' On hearing this, Anectanabus said, sighing: 'The trust that I gave to thee, heed thou right well; yet thy prowess hath not been the prowess of a doughty man, but the doings of a cowardly fellow. For worth showeth itself, not in the greatness of the folk, but in the steadfastness of their souls. Dost thou not know one lion putteth manyPage  2 does to flight?' And having said these words, he went into his chamber alone, and made brazen shells, and filled them with rain-water, and held in his hand a palm rod, and gazing into this, began, as hard as he could, to utter spells, and beheld how the Egyptians were being smitten down at the onslaught of the Barbarians' ships.

Forthwith he changed his dress, and shaved his head and beard, and took gold as much as he might bear, and which might be needful to him to busy himself with wizardry. And thus he fled from Egypt, near by Pelusium. And at length, coming into Ethiopia, he put on linen apparel, [and] in the guise of an Egyptian seer went into Macedonia. And there he sate himself, and before all the Greeks, and in their sight was soothsaying. But the Egyptians, when they saw how Anectanabus was not at Court, went to Serapis, who was their greatest god, and besought him that he might give them answer as to Anectanabus their king. And Serapis replied: 'Anectanabus, your king, is gone from Egypt because of Artaxerxes, the king of the Persians, who will subdue you unto his lordship. Nevertheless, when a short time hath flown by, he will come back to shake off his thraldom, and will be avenged on your foes, and yoke them under you.' And as soon as they had got this answer, they made a kingly statue out of a black stone, in honour of Anectanabus. And they wrote on it, at his feet, this saying, that it might be handed down for their offspring to think of. But Anectanabus remained in Macedonia, nor was he known.