Two Victorian Egypts of Herodotus

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By 1830 the famous flashpoints of Napoleonic Egyptomania – the Battle of the Nile and acquisition of the Rosetta Stone – were remembered with pride as evocative tableau in Britain’s national narrative. However, they were recognized as belonging to a previous generation. The visions of Egypt (ancient and modern) that survived them were rarely flattering. Throughout the 1820s and early 1830s, most Britons who wrote about Egypt were dismissive at best and at worst hostile: their Egypt was primarily biblical, the oppressor described in Exodus and the prophets. Whether in art, in diverse articles for the periodical press or in books of ancient history tinged with scripture, evangelical angst often bubbled beneath the surface of Egypt’s representation. Looming up from amongst ‘the wrecks of time’ the fate of biblical Egypt was wielded as a warning against hubris and luxury.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHerodotus in the Long Nineteenth Century
EditorsThomas Harrison, Joseph Skinner
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108562805
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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