The Fragments of Manetho

The three books of Manetho’s Aegyptiaca.

The surviving text of Manetho’s Aegyptiaca (The History of Egypt) can only be traced back to The Chronicle by Syncellus, written in the first decade of the 800s AD. The Chronicle was virtually unknown until Manuscript A was discovered around 1600 and selected passages were published by Scaliger in 1606. Five decades later, Jacob Goar published the first complete edition of Syncellus in 1652. Although Manuscript B was discovered shortly afterwards, it remained unpublished until 1829, when Dindorf used this second manuscript to correct the readings in Goar’s edition.

Manuscripts A and B are complete copies and share a common ancestor; although there are some incomplete copies of Syncellus, A and B are the only ones to contain the texts of Manetho. The chronologies of Africanus (Chronography) and Eusebius (Universal History) were preserved by Syncellus more than five centuries later, but as can be expected, incomplete and probably at least partially corrupted.

The second book of Eusebius, the Chronological Canons, revolutionised the study of history. Using the relatively new codex medium, Eusebius divided the two-page spread in vertical columns. He labelled the leftmost section ‘Kings of …’ (whichever kingdom was in power), and the rightmost section ‘Kings of the Egyptians’. When new powers arose, he added an extra column to accommodate them; when they disappeared, the column vanished as well. Each king's name was recorded and listed each year of his reign on successive lines, with space for additional information if needed.

A Latin translation of the chronological canons, known as the Chronicle of Jerome, was produced by Jerome of Stridon around 382. It proved popular, becoming the accepted chronographic standard. There are more than a hundred manuscript copies of it.

There are several fragments of Manetho dispersed throughout Syncellus’ Chronicle, mainly from Africanus and Eusebius. It should be noted that we only know of the lists of Africanus from excerpts quoted by Eusiebius.

Book I

Concerning the dynasties of Egypt after the Flood, according to Africanus1

  1. After the spirits of the dead, the demigods,2 the first royal line is numbered at eight kings.
    The first of them, Menes of This,3 reigned for 62 years
    He was seized by a hippopotamus and perished.
  2. Athothis, his son 57 years
    He built the palace in Memphis. His books on anatomy are in circulation; for he was a physician.
  3. Kenkenes, his son 31 years
  4. Ouenephes, his son 23 years
    During his reign, a great famine gripped Egypt. He erected the pyramids around Kochome.
  5. Ousaphaidos, his son 20 years
  6. Miebidos, his son 26 years
  7. Semempses, his son 18 years
    During his reign, a vast pestilence gripped Egypt.
  8. Bieneches, his son 26 years
  9. Total 253 years4

Eusebios also furnished the details of the First Dynasty in somewhat the same way as Africanus.

Concerning the dynasties of the Egyptians after the Flood, according to Eusebios5

  1. Menes of This and his 17 descendants (but in another version seven6). Herodotos called him Men.7
    He reigned for 60 years
    He launched a foreign campaign and was highly esteemed. He was seized by {a horse} a hippopotamus.8
  2. Athothis, his son, ruled 27 years
    He built the palace in Memphis; he practised medicine and composed books on anatomy.
  3. Kenkenes, his son 39 years
  4. Ouenephes 42 years
    During his reign, famine gripped the land. He also erected the pyramids around Kochome.
  5. Ousaphais 20 years
  6. Niebais 26 years
  7. Semempses 18 years
    During his reign, there were many portents and a vast pestilence.
  8. Oubienthis 26 years
  9. Total years of their reign 252 years9

Book II

Book III


  • W. G. Waddell (ed.), 1940. Manetho. Reprint 1964. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univ. Press.