This is the most usual form of the name, which, however, we also find written as Menas, Menis, Meinis, Men, Min, and Mein (Μηνις, Μηνις, Μεῖνις, Μῆν, Μιν̂, μεῖν
). Menes was the first king of Egypt, according to the traditions of the Egyptians themselves. Herodotus records of him that he built Memphis on a piece of ground which he had rescued from the river by turning it from its former course, and erected therein a magnificent temple to Hephaestus (.Pthah). (Comp. Diod. 1.50
; Wess. ad loc.
) Diodorus tells us that he introduced into Egypt the worship of the gods and the practice of sacrifices, as well as a more elegant and luxurious style of living.
As the author of this latter innovation, his memory was dishonoured many generations afterwards by king Tnephachthus, the father of Bocchoris; and Plutarch mentions a pillar at Thebes in Egypt, on which was inscribed an imprecation against Menes, as the introducer of luxury.
There is a legend also, preserved by Diodorus, which relates (in defiance of chronology, unless Mendes is to be substituted for Menas), that he was saved from drowning in the lake of Moeris by a crocodile, in gratitude for which he established the worship of the animal, and built a city near the lake called the City of Crocodiles, erecting there a pyramid to serve as his own tomb.
That he was a conqueror, like other founders of kingdoms, we learn from an extract from Manetho preserved by Eusebius. By Marsham and others he has been identified with the Mizraim of Scripture.
According to some accounts he was killed by a hippopotamus. (Hdt. 2.4
; Diod. 1.43
; Wess. ad loc.;
Plut. De Is. et Osir.
8; Perizon. Orig. Aegypt.
100.5; Shuckford's Connection,
bk. iv.; Bunsen, Aegyptens Stelle in der Weltgeschichte,
vol. ii. pp. 38-45.)