NECTANEBO II (
Manetho 's transcription of Egyptian
Nḫt-Ḥr-(n)-Ḥbyt, "Strong is
Hebit " ), ruled in
360—342 BC ) was the third and last pharaoh of the Thirtieth Dynasty
of Egypt as well as the last native ruler of ancient Egypt .
Under Nectanebo II, Egypt prospered. During his reign, the Egyptian
artists delivered a specific style that left a distinctive mark on the
reliefs of the
Ptolemaic Kingdom . Like his indirect predecessor
Nectanebo I ,
Nectanebo II showed enthusiasm for many of the cults of
the gods within ancient Egyptian religion , and more than a hundred
Egyptian sites bear evidence of his attentions. Nectanebo II,
however, undertook more constructions and restorations than Nectanebo
I , commencing in particular the enormous
Egyptian temple of
For several years,
Nectanebo II was successful in keeping Egypt safe
Achaemenid Empire . However, betrayed by his former servant,
Mentor of Rhodes ,
Nectanebo II was ultimately defeated by the
combined Persian and Greek forces in the
Battle of Pelusium (343 BC) .
The Persians occupied Memphis and then seized the rest of Egypt,
incorporating the country into the Achaemenid Empire. Nectanebo fled
south and preserved his power for some time; his subsequent fate is
* 1 Portraits
* 2 Rise to power
* 3 Reign
* 4 Nectanebo and the Alexander Romance
* 5 Notes
* 6 References
* 7 External links
The greywacke statue of Nectanebo II.
Except for the small-scale greywacke statue in the Metropolitan
Museum of Art , which shows
Nectanebo II standing before the image of
Horus , no other annotated portraits of
Nectanebo II are known. In
the greywacke statue,
Nectanebo II is shown in a nemes and uraeus .
His bent arm with the sword stands for the hieroglyph nakht, the
falcon represents Horus, while the hieroglyph in Nectanebo's right
hand stands for heb. Other portraits attributed to
Nectanebo II (all
featuring the khepresh ) include a quartzite head in the museum of the
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology , a
basalt head in
Alexandria , a granite head acquired by the Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston and a damaged quartzite head.
RISE TO POWER
In 525 BC Egypt was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. Because of
internal struggles for the Persian imperial succession, Egypt managed
to regain independence in 404 BC. In 389 BC,
a treaty with Athens and for three years (from 385 to 383 BC) managed
to withstand Persian aggression. However, following the conclusion of
Peace of Antalcidas in 387 BC between the Achaemenids and the
Greek city-states , Egypt and
Cyprus became the only obstacles to
Persian hegemony in the Mediterranean.
In the beginning of 360 BC, Nectanebo's predecessor Teos started
preparations for war against intruders. In the same year, the Egyptian
army set off, traveling along the coast by land and sea. Nectanebo II
accompanied his uncle Teos in that campaign and was in charge of the
In an attempt to raise finances for the war quickly, Teos imposed
taxes on Egyptians and seized temple property. Egyptians,
particularly the priests, resented those measures but supported
Nectanebo II. Teos asked Spartan military leader
Chabrias to preserve support for him. Agesilaus,
however, said he was sent to aid Egypt and not to wage war against it.
Chabrias returned home with his mercenaries. Teos decided to flee to
the Achaemenid court, where he ultimately died of natural causes.
Nectanebo contended with an unnamed pretender to the throne from the
Mendes , who proclaimed himself pharaoh. The revolt was
probably led by one of the descendants of
Nepherites I , whose family
had ruled the town before. The claimant sent messengers to Agesilaus
in an attempt to persuade
Agesilaus to his side.
loyal to Nectanebo, fearing to become a turncoat. At one of the towns
Nile Delta the troops of Nectanebo and
Agesilaus were besieged
by the usurper, who had gained many sympathisers. Despite the enemy's
numerical superiority, Nectanebo and
Agesilaus were victorious and the
revolt was put down in the fall of 360 BC. Acknowledging Agesilaus,
Nectanebo sent him 220 talents of gold.
Obverse of an
Egyptian gold stater of Nectanebo II.
Religion played an important part in Nectanebo's domestic policy. He
began his reign by officiating over the funeral of an Apis bull in
Memphis . There Nectanebo added a relief decoration to the eastern and
western temples of Apis. Among notable sanctuaries, erected under
Nectanebo II, are a temple of
Khnum in Abu and a temple of
Sekhtam . He also dedicated a diorite naos to Anhur-Shu (a fragment of
it was found in the temples of Tjebnutjer ).
Nectanebo II was
responsible for the increasing popularity of the
Buchis cult. Under
Nectanebo II a decree, forbidding the stone quarrying in the so-called
Mysterious Mountains in Abydos , was issued.
Foreign affairs under
Nectanebo II were thwarted by repeated
Achaemenid attempts to reoccupy Egypt. Before the accession of
Nectanebo II to the throne, Persians attempted to reclaim Egypt in
385, 383, and 373 BC. Nectanebo used the peace to build up a new army
and employed Greek mercenaries, which was a usual practice at the
time. In about 351 BC the
Achaemenid Empire embarked on a new attempt
to reclaim Egypt. After a year of fighting, Nectanebo and his allied
generals, Diophantus of Athens and Lamius of
Sparta , managed to
defeat the Achaemenids. Having scored a resounding victory, Nectanebo
II was acclaimed "Nectanebo the divine falcon" by his people and cults
were set up in his name.
In 345/44 BC Nectanebo supported the Phoenician rebellion against the
Achaemenid Empire led by the king of
Sidon , Tennes, and dispatched
military aid in the form of 4000 Greek mercenaries, led by Mentor of
Rhodes. However, having heard of the approach of the forces of
Artaxerxes III , Mentor opened communication with the Persians in
collusion with Tennes. Black siltstone obelisk of Pharaoh
Nectanebo II. According to the vertical inscriptions he set up this
obelisk at the doorway of the sanctuary of
Thoth , the Twice-Great,
Hermopolis . Today, it is located in the
British Museum ,
At the end of 344 BC, ambassadors of
Artaxerxes III arrived in Greece
asking for the Greeks' participation in a campaign against Egypt.
Sparta treated the ambassadors with courtesy, but refrained
from concluding an alliance against Egypt. Other cities, however,
decided to support the Persians: Thebes sent 1000 hoplites and Argos
In the winter of 343 BC, Artaxerxes set off for Egypt. The Egyptian
army, headed by Nectanebo, consisted of 60,000 Egyptians, 20,000 Libu
and as many Greek mercenaries. In addition Nectanebo had a number of
flat-bottomed boats to prevent an enemy from entering the Nile mouths.
The vulnerable points along his Mediterranean sea border and east
boundary were protected by strongholds, fortifications and entrenched
camps. Persian forces were strengthened by Mentor and his men, well
acquainted with the eastern border of Egypt, and by 6000
Nectanebo II was ultimately defeated and, in the summer of 342 BC,
Artaxerxes entered Memphis and installed a satrap . Nectanebo fled
Upper Egypt and finally to
Nubia , where he was granted asylum. He,
however, preserved a degree of power there for some time. With the
Khabash , Nectanebo made a vain attempt to regain the throne.
NECTANEBO AND THE ALEXANDER ROMANCE
There is an apocryphal tale appearing in the pseudo-historical
Alexander romance that details another end for the last native
pharaoh. Soon after
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great 's godhood was confirmed by
Libyan Sibyl of Zeus Ammon at the
Siwa Oasis , a rumor was begun
that Nectanebo II, following defeat in his last battle, did not travel
Nubia but instead to the court of
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon in the guise
of an Egyptian magician . There, while Philip was away on campaign,
Nectanebo convinced Philip's wife
Amun was to come to
her and that they would father a son. Nectanebo, disguising himself as
Amun, slept with
Olympias and from his issue came Alexander.
This myth would hold strong appeal for the Egyptians, who desired
continuity and harbored a strong dislike for foreign rule. In art of
this event, Nectanebo is usually depicted as having dragon-like
features, for example in the Speculum Historiale . Papyrus of
the Dream of Nectanebo, ca. 160–150 BC
In the early Ptolemaic tale of Nectanebo and Petesis, only preserved
in a Greek fragment from the Memphis
Serapeum , the
Pharaoh has a
prophetic dream of
Isis in which the god
Onuris is angry with him
because of his unfinished temple in
Sebennytos . Nectanebo calls in
the best sculptor of the realm, Petesis, to finish the job, but he
bungles his assignment when he gets drunk and chases a beautiful girl
instead. The narrative ends abruptly here, but this is probably the
preface to the fall of Egypt.
Al-Biruni 's A History of India
reproduces the story.
a ^ : According to J. von Beckerath 360–343 BC according to N.
Grimal and 359/58–342/41 BC according to D. Arnold .
* ^ I. A. Ladynin (2009). ""Nectanebos-the-Falcons": Sculpture
Nectanebo II Before the God
Horus and Their Concept".
Vestnik drevnej istorii. Retrieved March 1, 2011.
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Quartzite Head of the Pharaoh
Nectanebo II". Christie\'s . Retrieved March 5, 2011.
* ^ "The God
Horus Protecting King Nectanebo II". David Rumsey Map
Collection/AMICA Library. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
* ^ Grimal, p. 374
* ^ Grimal, p. 377
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* ^ Myśliwiec, p. 171
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* ^ A B C Dandamaev, p. 309
* ^ Dandamaev, p. 310
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* ^ Brosiu