Ammonians

Body

Nomenclature

Greek Name: Ἀμμώνιοι

Latin Name: Amonii

Toponyms:

Cultural Notes

Ammonian statues of Zeus have a ram's head. They were originally emigrants from Egypt and Ethiopia, and their language is a hybrid of Egyptian and Ethiopian. led by King Etearchus, site of an oracle consulted by the Greeks at Cyrene.

Geographical Notes

A people of Libya; live ten days' journey away from Thebes and ten days' journey from Augila; Africa interior

Citations in Herodotos

King Etearchus and oracle of Ammon: 2.32; a colony from Egypt and Ethiopia:  2.42; on the route from Egypt to N.W. Africa:  4.181;3.17; Cambyses' expedition against them:  3.25,  3.26; ; 10 days journey from Thebe's and worshippers of Zeus: 4.181; ten days' journey from Augila: 4.182

Key Passages in English Translation

[2.42] All that have a temple of Zeus of Thebes or are of the Theban district sacrifice goats, but will not touch sheep. [2] For no gods are worshipped by all Egyptians in common except Isis and Osiris, who they say is Dionysus; these are worshipped by all alike. Those who have a temple of Mendes or are of the Mendesian district sacrifice sheep, but will not touch goats. [3] The Thebans, and those who by the Theban example will not touch sheep, give the following reason for their ordinance: they say that Heracles wanted very much to see Zeus and that Zeus did not want to be seen by him, but that finally, when Heracles prayed, Zeus contrived [4] to show himself displaying the head and wearing the fleece of a ram which he had flayed and beheaded. It is from this that the Egyptian images of Zeus have a ram's head; and in this, the Egyptians are imitated by the Ammonians, who are colonists from Egypt and Ethiopia and speak a language compounded of the tongues of both countries. [5] It was from this, I think, that the Ammonians got their name, too; for the Egyptians call Zeus “Amon”. The Thebans, then, consider rams sacred for this reason, and do not sacrifice them. [6] But one day a year, at the festival of Zeus, they cut in pieces and flay a single ram and put the fleece on the image of Zeus, as in the story; then they bring an image of Heracles near it. Having done this, all that are at the temple mourn for the ram, and then bury it in a sacred coffin.

English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920. Retreived from <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu>

Key Passages in Greek

[2.42] ὅσοι μὲν δὴ Διὸς Θηβαιέος ἵδρυνται ἱρὸν ἤ νομοῦ τοῦ Θηβαίου εἰσί, οὗτοι μέν νυν πάντες ὀίων ἀπεχόμενοι αἶγας θύουσι. [2] θεοὺς γὰρ δὴ οὐ τοὺς αὐτοὺς ἅπαντες ὁμοίως Αἰγύπτιοι σέβονται, πλὴν Ἴσιός τε καὶ Ὀσίριος, τὸν δὴ Διόνυσον εἶναι λέγουσι: τούτους δὲ ὁμοίως ἅπαντες σέβονται. ὅσοι δὲ τοῦ Μένδητος ἔκτηνται ἱρὸν ἢ νομοῦ τοῦ Μενδησίου εἰσί, οὗτοι δὲ αἰγῶν ἀπεχόμενοι ὄις θύουσι. [3] Θηβαῖοι μέν νυν καὶ ὅσοι διὰ τούτους ὀίων ἀπέχονται, διὰ τάδε λέγουσι τὸν νόμον τόνδε σφίσι τεθῆναι. Ἡρακλέα θελῆσαι πάντως ἰδέσθαι τὸν Δία, καὶ τὸν οὐκ ἐθέλειν ὀφθῆναι ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ: τέλος δέ, ἐπείτε λιπαρέειν τὸν Ἡρακλέα, τάδε τὸν Δία μηχανήσασθαι: [4] κριὸν ἐκδείραντα προσχέσθαι τε τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀποταμόντα τοῦ κριοῦ καὶ ἐνδύντα τὸ νάκος οὕτω οἱ ἑωυτὸν ἐπιδέξαι. ἀπὸ τούτου κριοπρόσωπον τοῦ Διὸς τὤγαλμα ποιεῦσι Αἰγύπτιοι, ἀπὸ δὲ Αἰγυπτίων Ἀμμώνιοι, ἐόντες Αἰγυπτίων τε καὶ Αἰθιόπων ἄποικοι καὶ φωνὴν μεταξὺ ἀμφοτέρων νομίζοντες. [5] δοκέειν δέ μοι, καὶ τὸ οὔνομα Ἀμμώνιοι ἀπὸ τοῦδε σφίσι τὴν ἐπωνυμίην ἐποιήσαντο: Ἀμοῦν γὰρ Αἰγύπτιοι καλέουσι τὸν Δία. τοὺς δὲ κριοὺς οὐ θύουσι Θηβαῖοι, ἀλλ᾽ εἰσί σφι ἱροὶ διὰ τοῦτο. [6] μιῇ δὲ ἡμέρῃ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ, ἐν ὁρτῇ τοῦ Διός, κριὸν ἕνα κατακόψαντες καὶ ἀποδείραντες κατὰ τὠυτὸ ἐνδύουσι τὤγαλμα τοῦ Διός, καὶ ἔπειτα ἄλλο ἄγαλμα Ἡρακλέος προσάγουσι πρὸς αὐτό. ταῦτα δὲ ποιήσαντες τύπτονται οἱ περὶ τὸ ἱρὸν ἅπαντες τὸν κριὸν καὶ ἔπειτα ἐν ἱρῇ θήκῃ θάπτουσι αὐτόν.

Other Testimonia

Pausanias, Description of Greece: 3.18.3, 9.16.1

Other Commentary


Perseus Encyclopedia: Ammonians, a people of Libya

W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotos: νότον μέγαν. The modern view is that the simoon is deadly because it dries up the wells, not because it buries with sand. Duncker (vi. 166), however, quotes an instance early in the last century of a caravan, 2,000 strong, perishing in a sand-storm. As the Ammonians are found among the subjects of Darius, probably the expedition succeeded (cf. App. V. 4).

Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898):
(Ἀμμώνιοι). A people of Africa, occupying what is now the Oasis of Siwah. According to Herodotos (ii. 42), the Ammonians were a colony of Egyptians and Ethiopians, speaking a language composed of words taken from both those nations.

Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.

Bibliography

Murray, George William, 1885- .The Western Bedouin (El Mugharba)

Disambiguation

No information available at this time.