Further Reading

Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina

We don't know much about Queen Nitocris and many historians are still arguing about her true origins and the time period during which she ruled. The Greek historian Herodotus is the chief source of information on the elusive queen and while Herodotus is often referred to as "The Father of History," he is also known as "The Father of Lies" in tribute to the complete falsity of some of his history.

The first female ruler of Ancient Egypt is said to have been Queen Nitocris. She was the last ruler of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom Period, just before it fell apart in anarchy during the First Intermediate Period. Perhaps because of her short rule of the "Two Lands" no structures were commissioned by her and she is left unmentioned in many Egyptian records. She is, however, referred to in the Turin King-list, by the Greek traveller Herodotos and by Manetho, which may indeed confirm her existence.
"She was the noblest and loveliest of the women of her time." -Manetho



Legend tells us that her husband, the king, was slain by his nobles a few months after her wedding. Nitocris is said to have pretended to approve of the crime, made friends with the nobles and was permitted by them to retain her husband's throne.



"... the name of the woman who reigned was the same as that of the Babylonian queen, namely Nitocris. Of her they said that desiring to take vengeance for her brother, whom the Egyptians had slain when he was their king and then, after having slain him, had given his kingdom to her,--desiring, I say, to take vengeance for him, she destroyed by craft many of the Egyptians. For she caused to be constructed a very large chamber under ground, and making as though she would handsel it but in her mind devising other things, she invited those of the Egyptians whom she knew to have had most part in the murder, and gave a great banquet. Then while they were feasting, she let in the river upon them by a secret conduit of large size. Of her they told no more than this, except that, when this had been accomplished, she threw herself into a room full of embers, in order that she might escape vengeance."- Herodotus Histories II

[In Fiction] "Then we saw the vast pyramids at the end of the avenue, ghoulish with a dim avatistical menace which I had not seemed to notice in the daytime. Even the smallest of them held a hint of the ghastly - for was it not in this that they had buried Queen Nitocris alive in the Sixth Dynasty; subtle Queen Nitocris, who once invited all her enemies to a feast in a temple below the Nile, and drowned them by opening the water-gates? I recalled that the Arabs whisper things about Nitocris, and shun the Third Pyramid at certain phases of the moon." -H.P. Lovecraft, Imprisoned with the Pharaohs

DANIEL CHAPTER 5 Verse 1 - 13
Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. Now the queen**, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. Though Daniel was one of the chief ministers of state, who did "the king's business" in the palace, (Da 8:27,) yet Belshazzar seems to have known nothing of him. This shews that he was a weak and vicious prince, who minded pleasure more than business, according to the character given him by historians. He appears to have left the care of public affairs to his mother, Nitocris, a lady celebrated for her wisdom, who evidently knew Daniel well, and probably constantly employed him in the government of the kingdom...

**the queen
This was probably Nitocris, the queen-mother, widow of Evil-merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar, and father of Belshazzar.

6th Dynasty | Women & Political Power | More History