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Straw flip-flops from ancient Egypt

Straw flip-flops from ancient Egypt

Where did this story come from?

The West Asian writer Strabo wrote down this Egyptian version of the Cinderella story. He wrote it in Greek, around the time of Jesus, a few hundred years after the Indian version in the Mahabharata. Had he heard something about the Indian version? We don’t know. This version introduces the shoe, where the older version has a ring.

The Indian Cinderella
The Mahabharata
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So here’s the story:

An eagle over the water

An eagle over the water

Rhodopis was a girl from ancient Greece, who as a child was sold into slavery in Egypt. In Egypt, the other slaves made fun of Rhodopis because she looked different, with her blue eyes and white skin.

Slavery in ancient Egypt
Skin color and racism

Rhodopis (row-DOPP-iss) was very unhappy with no friends and everyone making fun of her all the time.

The eagle takes her sandal

One day, when Rhodopis was taking a bath, an eagle grabbed one of her sandals and flew with it to Memphis, a big city in Egypt, where the Pharaoh was holding court as a judge in an open area. When the eagle got to the Pharaoh, he dropped Rhodopis’ sandal right into the Pharaoh’s lap.

What is a Pharaoh?
Shoes in ancient Egypt

A sign from the gods

Statue of Ptolemy dressed up like an Egyptian

Ptolemy, a Hellenistic Egyptian pharaoh (British Museum)

The Pharaoh thought this must be a sign from the gods, and he thought the sandal must belong to a wonderful girl. He sent his slaves all around Egypt to look for the girl who owned that sandal. When they found Rhodopis in Naucratis, they brought her to Memphis, and she became the Pharaoh’s wife.

Another version of Cinderella from ancient China
Another version of Cinderella from ancient India

More stories from Ancient Egypt:

Tales of Ancient Egypt, by Roger Lancelyn Green

A project with hieroglyphs
Other Ancient Egypt projects
More about ancient Egypt home