The Robbers of Egypt – Heliodorus (3rd Century, A.D.)
Heliodorus was one of the earliest writers of the novel, or romance. Though he lived long after the close of the Golden Age of Greek lit-erature, he is (together with Longus) the initiator of the novel form. But like many novelists (even modern novelists, who are supposed to know better), he interspersed his romance with episodes which are in themselves short stories. The very first chapter of the Ethiopian Romance, which is here reprinted, is such a story.
The Robbers of Egypt – The present version is slightly modified and modernized from the early English translation by Thomas Underdowne. There is no title to the story in the original.
The Robbers of Egypt
At the first smile of day, when the sun was just beginning to shine on the summits of the hills, men whose custom was to live by rapine and violence ran to the top of a cliff and stretched toward that mouth of the Nile which is called Heracleot.
Standing awhile, they viewed the sea underneath them, and when they had looked a good season afar off into the same and could see nothing which could put them in the hope of prey, they cast their eyes toward the neighboring shore, where a ship lay moored, without sailors but full-freighted; which thing they who were afar off might easily conjecture, for the cargo brought the water up to the ship’s third loading-line.
But on the shore every place was full of men newly slain, some quite dead, some half dead, some whose bodies yet panted and plainly declared that there had been a battle fought of late.
The Robbers of Egypt – There could be seen no signs or tokens of any just quarrel, but only some poor confused remnants of an unlucky banquet which had ended so. For the tables were furnished with delicate dishes, some whereof lay in the hands of those that were slain, having served as weapons in the battle so suddenly begun. Other tables covered such as had crept under them to hide themselves, as they thought.