Childrens Book Review of The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo: Rhodopis and Her Pharaoh Amasis

by DerdriuMarriner

Egypt’s Cinderella story dates back 2,500+ years. It deals with the fable-teller Aesop’s friend, Rhodopis. It draws upon Pharaoh Amasis’s true love for “The Egyptian Cinderella.”

Modern Egypt’s ancient roots can be traced back 5,000+ years.

Egyptian hieroglyphics confirm the history-documenting, story-telling commitments and propensities of its speakers. The location of the ancient world’s most comprehensive library in Alexandria, Egypt, gives evidence of the advanced culture’s commitment to facts.

The preservation of one of the world’s oldest known Cinderella stories is an example of the ancient culture’s respect for aesthetics. Egypt’s Cinderella story juxtaposes fable and fact to introduce fairy tale as history, and vice versa, within Egypt’s folkloric literature.

The Egyptian Cinderella story makes unforgettable impacts in recording the marriage of Pharaoh Amasis (Dynasty XXVI, 570 – 526 B.C.), for love, not by pre-arrangement, with fable-teller Aesop’s friend, Rhodopis of the rose-red slippers.

"The beautiful Rhodope in love with Aesop": engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi (September 21, 1727 – March 7, 1815) after painting by Angelica Kauffmann (October 30, 1741 – November 5, 1807)

private collection of engravings, Saint Petersburg, northwestern Russia
private collection of engravings, Saint Petersburg, northwestern Russia

 

The name Rhodopis calls up images of a blonde-haired, green-eyed beauty whose pale skin reddens the Mediterranean’s bright sunlight. It simultaneously describes ancient Egypt’s original Cinderella, as:

  • A child kidnapped -- from northern Greece or Thrace -- by pirates;
  • A friend of Aesop the fable-teller on Samos;
  • The recipient in a Nile River villa at Naucratis of slippers rose-reddened by iron being mixed into gold.

Rhodopis’s story establishes her:

  • Animal domestication achievements;
  • Graceful dance performances;
  • Impressive interpersonal skills;
  • Industrious work ethic.

The above-mentioned attributes explain Rhodopis’s being contracted prestigiously to:

  • Iadmon, Aesop’s master and richest east Aegean Sea island landowner;
  • Charaxus, brother of lyric poet Sappho (640? – 570? B.C.E.) of the northeast Aegean Sea island of Lesbos.

 

Rhodopis received rose-reddened slippers at a villa at Naucratis.

The ancient Egyptian city and trading post was located on the Nile River's Canopic (westernmost) branch in Lower Egypt's western Nile Delta.
locator map of Naucratis and the Nile Delta
locator map of Naucratis and the Nile Delta

 

Pharaoh Amasis becomes aware of Rhodopis’s existence during a visit to Memphis. He dons the ear-pinching, heavy-weighted, red-and-white crown of the Two Egypts. He endures a meet-and-greet while serving as supreme justice to his people’s complaints. A bird concurrently interrupts Rhodopis’s admiration of slippers gifted by Charaxus. The avian identity traditionally is given as an eagle (Accipitridae family) although a lanner (Falco biarmicus) or peregrine (Falco peregrinus) falcon  -- as the animal manifestation of Horus, god of the reigning pharaoh and of the skies -- may be a possibility with a more explainable, understandable impact upon Amasis’s subsequent decision-making. Whatever the genus, the raptor leaves with one of Rhodopis’s slippers, which then is dropped far away into Amasis’s lap.  

 

fragmentary statue head of Pharaoh Amasis: real-life pharaoh of "The Egyptian Cinderella"

Altes Museum, Museum Island, central Berlin, northeastern Germany
Altes Museum, Museum Island, central Berlin, northeastern Germany

Conclusion

 

Generations of fable-lovers applaud a bird’s successful matchmaking -- vectored by a dainty, exquisite slipper -- of a powerful pharaoh with a powerless beauty of:

  • Lotus-pink skin;
  • Nile-green eyes;
  • Papyrus-colored hair.

First-time witnesses of the story of Rhodopis and her pharaoh benefit from the user-friendly format of the tale’s telling in The Egyptian Cinderella. The “must-have” modern retelling’s comfortable style and convenient applicability honor the inputs of:

  • Shirley Climo, as author;
  • Ruth Heller, as full-color artist;
  • HarperCollins, as publisher.

It is printed in the United States of America, with an original publishing date of 1989. It offers parents of four- to eight-year-olds and teachers of preschoolers to third-graders ample opportunities for:

  • Cultural enrichment;
  • Educational entertainment;
  • Historical exposures.

 

"The Egyptian Cinderella" (1:02)

Uploaded May 8, 2013, by Christina Phillps to YouTube ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwYWzbC85tU

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

 

Image Credits

 

"The beautiful Rhodope in love with Aesop": engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi (September 21, 1727 – March 7, 1815) after painting by Angelica Kauffmann (October 30, 1741 – November 5, 1807)

private collection of engravings, Saint Petersburg, northwestern Russia: Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Kauffman_Esop_and_Rodope.jpg

Rhodopis received rose-reddened slippers at a villa at Naucratis.
The ancient Egyptian city and trading post was located on the Nile River's Canopic (westernmost) branch in Lower Egypt's western Nile Delta.
locator map of Naucratis and the Nile Delta: ChrisO~enwiki (Prioryman), CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nile_Delta_-_Naucratis.png

fragmentary statue head of Pharaoh Amasis: real-life pharaoh of "The Egyptian Cinderella"
Altes Museum, Museum Island, central Berlin, northeastern Germany: Ben Pirard (Ben Pirard at Dutch Wikipedia), CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Farao_Amasis.JPG

"The Egyptian Cinderella" (1:02)
Uploaded May 8, 2013, by Christina Phillps to YouTube ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwYWzbC85tU

In "The Egyptian Cinderella," Rhodopis' hair is described as having the color of papyrus.
Pith (tissue), visible in cross section of triangle-shaped culm (stem; stalk) of papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus), is used for making papyrus paper.
Cyperus papyrus: Timur V. Voronkov (INSAR), CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Papirus.jpg

 

Sources Consulted

 

Climo, Shirley. 1989. The Egyptian Cinderella. Illustrated by Ruth Heller. New York City, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Brooks, E.S. (Elbridge Streeter). "Cinderella's Ancestor (A Story of the Days of the Pharaoh.) [B.C. 2500.]. Chivalric Days and The Boys and Girls Who Helped to Make Them: 1-22. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1886.

  • Available via PICRYL at: https://picryl.com/media/chivalric-days-and-the-boys-and-girls-who-helped-to-make-them-ba7e43

Brooks, Elbridge S. (Streeter). "Cinderella's Ancestor (Part I)." Pages 46-51. In: Clarence F. Carroll and Sarah C. Brooks, A Reader for the Fifth Grade. New York and Chicago: D. Appleton and Company, 1911.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/carrollbrooksrea05carr/page/46/mode/1up

Brooks, Elbridge S. (Streeter). "Cinderella's Ancestor (Part II)." Pages 51-56. In: Clarence F. Carroll and Sarah C. Brooks, A Reader for the Fifth Grade. New York and Chicago: D. Appleton and Company, 1911.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/carrollbrooksrea05carr/page/51/mode/1up

“The Girl with the Rose Red Slippers.” Ancient Egypt: The Mythology > The Myths. Retrieved December 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.egyptianmyths.net/mythslippers.htm

 

In "The Egyptian Cinderella," Rhodopis' hair is described as having the color of papyrus.

Pith (tissue), visible in cross section of stem of papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus), is used for making papyrus paper.
Pith (tissue), visible in cross section of triangle-shaped culm (stem; stalk) of papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus), is used for making papyrus paper.
Pith (tissue), visible in cross section of triangle-shaped culm (stem; stalk) of papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus), is used for m...
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo ~ illustrated by Ruth Heller

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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/03/2022, DerdriuMarriner
 
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