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"Rhodopis" (Greek: Ῥοδῶπις Rhodôpis) is an ancient tale about a Greek slave girl who marries the pharaoh of Egypt. The story was first recorded by the Greek historian Strabo in the late first century BC or early first century AD and is considered the earliest known variant of the "Cinderella" story.

The Story[]

Long ago in the land of Egypt, land of the green Nile and the blue Mediterranean and the rising sun, there lived a slave girl named Rhodopis. Rhodopis was born in Greece, but had been kidnapped by pirates and sold into Egyptian slavery.

The man who bought her was a kind old man, but he spent most of his time sleeping and never saw how much Rhodopis suffered at the hands of his other servants, who teased her endlessly. Rhodopis had only animals for friends. She had trained the birds to eat from her hand. When she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals and carried it to Memphis. While the king was administering justice in the open air, the eagle, when it arrived above his head, flung the sandal into his lap. The king, stirred both by the beautiful shape of the sandal and by the strangeness of the occurrence, sent men in all directions into the country in quest of the woman who wore the sandal; and when she was found in the city of Naucratis, she was brought up to Memphis, became the wife of the king.

The story has been told in different versions, including the Greek version and the Egyptian version:

Greek version[]

In this version, which dates back to the first century CE, an eagle steals one of Rhodopis's sandals and drops it in the lap of the Egyptian king while he's administering justice. The king is moved by the sandal's beauty and sends men to find the woman who wore it. Rhodopis is eventually found and brought to Memphis, where she marries the king. The name Rhodopis translates to "rosy-cheeked".

Egyptian version[]

In this version, Rhodopis is a young Greek girl who is captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Egypt. She is owned by cruel masters and has no friends or family, but finds happiness in a pair of rose-red slippers given to her by her master. A falcon then steals one of the slippers, which ends up in the hands of the Egyptian prince. The Pharaoh searches for Rhodopis and makes her his queen. In this version, an eagle helps the Pharaoh find Rhodopis.

The story of Rhodopis is based on some true events, as the Pharaoh Amasis did marry a Greek slave girl named Rhodopis in the fifth century B.C. . The Greek geographer Strabo first recorded the tale in his Geographica around 24 AD.