Manetho [Manethos and Manethon] is called the Father of Egyptian History, though only fragments of his writing survive. He was a Greco-Egyptian priest born at Sebennytos in the Nile Delta, and lived during the reign of Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II, approximately 300 BCE and a contemporary of Berosus (Chaldean chronologist). He was governor of Egypt from 323-305 BC and was also the priestly advisor to the king. Manetho was greatly responsible for the introduction of the cult of Serapis.

 

 

Manetho divided the kings of Egypt into the dynasties by which we still classify them. His history is known to us because several writers whose works have survived quoted extensively from it. The fragments of his history are found in Josephus (70 CE, late 1st century), Africanus (year 220, early third century CE [A.D.]), Eusebius of Caesarea (early fourth century CE), and Syncellus (about 800 CE). Around five hundred years later, the works of Sextus Julius and Bishop Eusebius were used as a basis for a history of the world, written by George the Monk who was the secretary to the Byzantine Patriarch Tarasius (784-806 AD). All of these writers took only the extracts that they wanted from Manetho's work, so his account exists only in fragments within these later works.

 

 

Manetho divided Egyptian history into dynasties which were essentially ruling houses, of which 30 are recognized and used today, dating from unification around 3100 BCE up until the death of the last native Egyptian ruler Nectanebo II in 343 BCE. Two additional dynasties were then added onto these; the 31st or Second Persian Period, and the 32nd or Macedonian rulers followed by the Ptolemies.

 

 

Important to note, that during this time period (approx. 300 - BCE), it is believed that a number of historians sought to make genealogies of their nations, from creation, until their time period. Each historian wrote to make their nation the predominant one, to supposedly lend credence to their claims. This is understandable since it takes place after the time of Alexander the Great. When he died, his kingdom was divided between his generals. Alexander the Great left no sons as successors.

 

While Alexander was dying, he was asked by his generals, to whom he would leave his empire, “To the strongest,” he said. Once the world heard of his death, revolts against the Macedonian rule, began to break out. Between the Diadochi (Greek for successors), his generals, the empire was divided between Antipater, Perdiccas, Eumenes, Craterus, Antigonus, Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Lysimachus. Antipater took Macedonia and Greece, Lysimachus took Thrace, Antigonus took Asia Minor, Seleucus took Babylonia and Ptolemy took Egypt. Antipater defeated Perdiccas for his regency of Macedonia (321 BCE). Lysimachus fought Antigonus;  Ptolemy and Seleucus fought at Ipsus (301 BCE); and Seleucus defeated Lysimachus at Corupedion (281 BCE).  For years the rulers would wage war with each other, trying to widen their empires. Years later, by the end of the major wars, the power was divided among the descendants of Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Antigonus.

 

Manetho worked under two of these Ptolemey's; Berosus, the Babylonian historian, under Alexander the Great and Antiochus of the Seleucid empire. This is also the time period that Ptolemy II commissioned the Greek Septuagint to be translated from the Hebrew Tanak.