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[21a] for us now to relate both as a payment of our debt of thanks to you and also as a tribute of praise, chanted as it were duly and truly, in honor of the Goddess on this her day of Festival.1

Excellent! But come now, what was this exploit described by Critias, following Solons report, as a thing not verbally recorded, although actually performed by this city long ago?

I will tell you: it is an old tale, and I heard it from a man not young. For indeed at that time, as he said himself, [21b] Critias was already close upon ninety years of age, while I was somewhere about ten; and it chanced to be that day of the Apaturia which is called “Cureotis.”2 The ceremony for boys which was always customary at the feast was held also on that occasion, our fathers arranging contests in recitation. So while many poems of many poets were declaimed, since the poems of Solon were at that time new, many of us children chanted them. And one of our fellow tribesmen—whether he really thought so at the time or whether he was paying a compliment [21c] to Critias—declared that in his opinion Solon was not only the wisest of men in all else, but in poetry also he was of all poets the noblest. Whereat the old man (I remember the scene well) was highly pleased and said with a smile, “If only, Amynander, he had not taken up poetry as a by-play but had worked hard at it like others, and if he had completed the story he brought here from Egypt, instead of being forced to lay it aside owing to the seditions and all the other evils he found here on his return,— [21d] why then, I say, neither Hesiod nor Homer nor any other poet would ever have proved more famous than he.” “And what was the story, Critias?” said the other. “Its subject,” replied Critias, “was a very great exploit, worthy indeed to be accounted the most notable of all exploits, which was performed by this city, although the record of it has not endured until now owing to lapse of time and the destruction of those who wrought it.” “Tell us from the beginning,” said Amynander, “what Solon related and how, and who were the informants who vouched for its truth.” [21e]

“In the Delta of Egypt,” said Critias, “where, at its head, the stream of the Nile parts in two, there is a certain district called the Saitic. The chief city in this district is Sais—the home of King Amasis,3—the founder of which, they say, is a goddess whose Egyptian name is Neith,4 and in Greek, as they assert, Athena. These people profess to be great lovers of Athens and in a measure akin to our people here. And Solon said that when he travelled there he was held in great esteem amongst them; moreover, when he was questioning such of their priests

1 i.e., the Lesser Panathenaea, held early in June, just after the Bendideia.

2 The Apaturia was a feast held in October in honor of Dionysus. On the third day of the feast the children born during the year were registered (hence the name Cureotis: κοῦροι=youths).

3 Amasis (Aahmes) was king of Egypt 569-525 B.C., and a phil-Hellene; Cf. Hdt. ii. 162 ff.

4 Neith is identified by Plutarch with Isis; Cf. Hdt. ii. 28.

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