Amasis was, at this point, king of Egypt (569-525 BC, making him a contemporary of Croesus’s). Lowly born, he suffered somewhat as the stodgy Egyptian aristocrats didn’t like bowing and scraping before him. Eventually he won them over with his general charm and cunning.
For instance, says Herodotus, he had this foot-pan. Amasis’s foot-pan became a common cultural idiom among the Greeks, after H. Aristotle mentions it in passing. The foot-pan was a tub for scrubbing your feet in, going to the bathroom in, vomiting in, washing your dog, whatever you needed a big tub for. This particular one was made of gold, because it was the king’s, but it was still a very lowly and utilitarian piece of furniture.
Amasis had his foot-pan melted down and recast as an idol, which he placed prominently in his palace. Then when he saw his countrymen worshipping it, he’d laugh and point out that they were basically worshipping a vomit/feces container, and was that so much better than giving him the honors appropriate his kingly station?
Amazingly, this won him the admiration of his countrymen, rather than inspiring them to hire assassins.
Also, he was in the habit of getting up early and working hard at being king for several hours: judging disputes, sitting in the high seat, et cetera. But around lunchtime he’d get drunk and take off for the rest of the day to go partying and joking with friends.
“Boss,” his underlings said to him, “you’ve got to start acting more kingly!”
“Listen here,” he told them. “A bowstring that’s kept taut all the time breaks. I work hard and I party hard, and when there’s a crisis I’ll deal with it. But if I focus on the minutiae every minute of the day I’ll make myself crazy.”
Also, he shoplifted for fun.
Back when he was merely a rich aristocrat, sometimes the shopkeepers would prosecute him for the crime, and then sometimes he’d have to go before an oracle to be judged of his guilt (I don’t know why an oracle instead of a secular judge, just go with me here). Sometimes the oracles convicted him and made him pay a fine, and sometimes they left him off the hook for lack of evidence and/or reluctance to prosecute a rich man.
Once he was king, Amasis had all the oracles who had found in his favor rounded up and soundly mocked. If they’d been genuinely in touch with the gods, he said, they’d have known he was guilty. Then he stopped the government from tithing to them, and increased tithes to those oracles who had judged him more harshly.
For serious, Amasis sounds like a pretty good guy. He also ruled Egypt during a time of expanding trade and prosperity, so he was remembered fondly in Herodotus’s time. He was also a patron of the Greek mercenary-colonists, though they’d been on the other side in the civil war, and allotted them space in many cities.
Further, he took a Greek wife named Ladice, a princess of the same Libyan/Greek colony which had given Apries so much trouble. To his chagrin, though, he was impotent whenever he tried to sleep with her. He could sleep with his various concubines no problem, but with Ladice, no, and not for lack of desire. He accused her of witchcraft, and then Ladice denied it and prayed to Aphrodite for intervention. Aphrodite intervened, apparently, because their sex life really took off after that. Hence the massive temple to Aphrodite that Ladice and Amasis had built in Ladice’s hometown.
And now that Herodotus has spent an entire volume of the Histories describing Egypt, he’s ready to pick back up the main narrative, and cover Cyrus’s son Cambyses, king of the Persians, and his invasion of Amasis’s Egypt.
Farewell, Euterpe! Farewell, Muse of Lyric Poetry, Giver of Delight, Rejoicer! We turn our attention now to Thalia! Thalia, the Verdant! Thalia, Muse of Idyll and Comedy! Thalia, whom every growing thing praises! Entwined in ivy and wearing a comic mask, she’s a mash-up of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.