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Discussion Literature / TheEgyptianCinderella

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Jul 5th 2015 at 7:51:15 AM •••

I moved this page over from "Rhodopis", which presented it as an Ancient Greek fairy tale first recorded by Strabo. It actually isn't. This is what Strabo writes about Rhodopis in Geographica (source):

[The smallest of the three great pyramids at Gizeh] is said to be the tomb of a courtesan, built by her lovers, and whose name, according to Sappho the poetess, was Doriche. She was the mistress of her brother Charaxus, who traded to the port of Naucratis with wine of Lesbos. Others call her Rhodopis. A story is told of her, that, when she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals from the hands of her female attendant and carried it to Memphis; the eagle soaring over the head of the king, who was administering justice at the time, let the sandal fall into his lap. The king, struck with the shape of the sandal, and the singularity of the accident, sent over the country to discover the woman to whom it belonged. She was found in the city of Naucratis, and brought to the king, who made her his wife. At her death she was honoured with the above-mentioned tomb.

That's the entire fairy tale of Rhodopis as recorded in the 1st century BC. There is a somewhat different account of Rhodopis by Herodotus, but not much either, and Herodotus does not mention the slipper story.

It turns out the summary on this page is actually based on an expanded adaptation of the Ancient Greek tale, called The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo, printed in 1989 and part of a series of illustrated "Cinderella"-type tales. A lot of the details in this version (Rhodopis' blonde hair, the kind old man who owns Rhodopis, the fellow slaves who mock Rhodopis, the animals that befriend her) are only as old as this book. The blog entry given as a source on the page is actually a close paraphrase of Climo's book and definitely not an independent adaptation from Ancient sources, as much as they may claim that.

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