(Ἡρακλέους πόλις μεγάλη
or ἡ ἄνω
, Ptol. 4.5.7
; Steph. B. sub voce
Strab. xvii. pp. 789, 809, 812; Herculis Oppidum, Plin. Nat. 5.9.9
: Eth. Ἡρακλεοπολίτης
), was the capital of the Nomos Heracleotes in Middle Egypt.
It was situated at the entrance of the valley of the Fyoum (Nomos Arsinoites), on an island formed by the Nile, the Bahr Jusuf,
and a canal. After Memphis and Heliopolis it was probably the most important city south of the Thebaïd. When in the eighth dynasty of kings Memphis apparently lost its pre-eminence, the Aegyptian monarchy passed over, in the first instance, to Heracleopolis, before it was established at Thebes. The Lists of Manetho exhibit two dynasties of Heracleopolite kings, the ixth and xth, each containing nineteen names.
But we know the appellation of the founder of them alone, Achthoes, a ferocious tyrant, who went mad and was destroyed by a crocodile. Centuries afterward the ichneumon was worshipped at Heracleopolis, from which we may infer that the hostility to the crocodile was handed down. (Agatharch. ap. Photium, p. 1339, R.; Aelian, Ael. NA 10.47
It is probable that under these dynasties commenced at least those great works which tradition connected with the name of Moeris, and that the canal and terraces of the Arsinoite nome were their works. The Heracleote nome partook, indeed, of the exuberant fertility of the Fyoum district. Under the Lower empire it formed part of the Roman prefecture of Arcadia. (Not. Dign. Imp.
) Its ruins are inconsiderable; the modern hamlet of Anasieh
covers a portion of them. (Ritter, Erdkunde,
vol. i. p. 789.)