AMYRTAEUS (II) (Egyptian Demotic Imn-ir-di-s[w] “The God Ammon has given him”; Aram. ʾmwrtys), King of Egypt, 404-398 B.C., the only member of Manetho’s 29th dynasty (Kienitz, Geschichte, pp. 75-78, 191). Originally from Sais, he was probably the nephew of Amyrtaeus (I), the protagonist together with Inarus of the revolt against Persian rule fifty years before. He was slow to be recognized as king in southern Egypt. Although an Aramaic papyrus from Elephantine is dated in his fifth regnal year (Cowley, Papyri, no. 35), other documents from the same site are dated in Artaxerxes II’s regnal years corresponding to 404-01 B.C. (Kraeling, Papyri, nos. 9, 10, 11, 12).
According to Thucydides (8.85, 99, 10.109) Amyrtaeus allied with the king of the Arabs in order to attack Phoenicia; this was a strategic move to prevent an eventual Persian attack against the Egyptian ex-satrapy. Diodorus (14.19.6) refers to him as the Saiite king “Psammetichus” in describing how Admiral Tamos (an Egyptian by birth and the governor of Cilicia under Cyrus) took refuge in Egypt in 400 B.C. together with his son, the fleet, and great treasures. Amyrtaeus’ name does not appear on monuments or in hieroglyphic texts. The Demotic Chronicle, however, does comment on his reign: “The first lord who will come after the foreigner, that is, the Medians, is the pharaoh Amyrtaeus. Since the law was not followed during his time, . . . the son of the one who held rulership was not (lord) after him . . . Since he ordered that the law was not to be followed, he beheld what (the gods) did to him: They did not let his son succeed him, and they stopped him in his functions while still alive.” Thus he apparently was dethroned and perhaps killed. At any rate his deposition and death are also mentioned in an Aramaic papyrus from Elephantine (Kraeling, Papyri, pp. 283-90, no. l3; B. Porten, Archives from Elephantine, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968, pp. 295-96).
F. K. Kienitz, Die politische Geschichte Aegyptens vom 7. bis zum 4. Jahrhundert vor der Zeitwende, Berlin, 1953.
A. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C., Oxford, 1923.
E. G. Kraeling, The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri, New York, 1953.
On the Demotic Chronicle, see W. Spiegelberg, Die sogenannte demotische Chronik des Pap. 215 der Bibliothèque Nationale zu Paris, Leipzig, 1914.
E. Bresciani, Letteratura e poesia dell’antico Egitto, Torino, 1970, pp. 551ff.
J. H. Johnson, “The Demotic Chronicle,” Enchoria 4, 1974, pp. 1-17.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: August 3, 2011
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Vol. I, Fasc. 9, pp. 998-999