), a celebrated Greek courtezan, was of Thracian origin.
She was a fellow-slave with the poet Aesop, both of them belonging to the Samian ladmon.
She afterwards became the property of Xanthes, another Samian, who carried her to Naucratis in Egypt, in the reign of Amasis, and at this great sea-port, the Alexandria of ancient times, she carried on the trade of an hetaera for the benefit of her master. While thus employed, Charaxus, the brother of the poetess Sappho, who had come to Naucratis in pursuit of gain as a merchant, fell desperately in love with the fair courtesan, and ransomed her from slavery for a large sum of money.
She was in consequence attacked by Sappho in a poem, who accused her of robbing her brother of his property.
She continued to live at Naucratis after her liberation from slavery, and with the tenth part of her gains she dedicated at Delphi ten iron spits, which were seen by Herodotus.
She is called Rhodopis by Herodotus, but it appears clear that Sappho in her poem spoke of her under the name of Doricha.
It is therefore very probable that Doricha was her real name, and that she received that of Rhodopis, which signifies the "rosy-cheeked," on account of her beauty. (Hdt. 2.134
; Athen. 13.596
b; Suid. s.v. Ῥοδώπιδος ἀνάθημα
;Strab. xvii. p.808
; comp. Ov. Hev.
There was a tale current in Greece that Rhodopis built the third pyramid. Herodotus takes great pains (l.c.
) to show the absurdity of the story, but it still kept its ground, and is related by later writers as an unquestionable fact. (Plin. H.N.
36.12.17; comp. Strab. I. c.
) The origin of this tale, which is unquestionably false, has been explained with great probability by Zoega and Bunsen.
In consequence of the name Rhodopis, the "rosy-cheeked," she was confounded with Nitocris, the beautiful Egyptian queen, and the heroine of many an Egyptian legend, who is said by Julius Africanus and Eusebius to have built the third pyramid. [Comp. NITOCRIS, No. 2.] Another tale about Rhodopis related by Strabo (l.c.
) and Aelian (Ael. VH 13.33
), makes her a queen of Egypt, and thus renders the supposition of her being the same as Nitocris still more probable.
It is said that as Rhodopis was one day bathing at Naucratis, an eagle took up one of her sandals, flew away with it, and dropt it in the lap of the Egyptian king, as he was administering justice at Memphis. Struck by the strange occurrence and the beauty of the sandal, he did not rest till he had found out the fair owner of the beautiful sandal, and as soon as he had discovered her made her his queen. Aelian calls the king Psammitichus; but this deserves no attention, since Strabo relates the tale of the Rhodopis, who was loved by Charaxus, and Aelian probably inserted the name of Psammitichus, simply because no name was given in Strabo or the writer from whom he copied. (Comp. Bunsen, Aegyptens Stelle in der Weligeschicte,
vol. iii. pp. 236-238.)