Rhodope, the Egyptian origin of the story of ‘Cinderella’

Some Arab historians mentioned that, in a chamber of the Pyramid of Micerinos, attached to the main one, the body of a courtesan named Rhodope (or Rhodopis) was found. The story of this woman, whose bones incomprehensibly ended up in the pyramid, is a faithful reproduction of the story of Cinderella.

Rhodope, the Egyptian origin of the story of 'Cinderella'
LEFT: Rhodopis, illustration by Ruth Heller for ‘The Egyptian Cinderella’. 
DER: Ancient Egyptian sandals made from vegetable fiber.

Studies have concluded the burial of this courtesan in Ptolemaic times when the pharaohs of Egypt had Greek influence. And today we know its history through the poet Sappho and his Geographical work  (book 17, 33), written between c. 7 BC and c. AD 24

The poet heard about Rhodope from his brother, a wine merchant in Naucratis. It is said that the maiden was beautiful and that her grave was paid for by her lovers. Obviously, this primitive tomb could not have been the third pyramid of Giza, although its bones finally landed on it.

There is an anecdotal legend regarding the courtesan that 12th-century Arab historians told. One day the beautiful Rhodope was bathing in the Nile River when a falcon snatched a shoe from her. The bird flew and, while flying over the Memphis palace, it fell off, so the footwear ended up at the hands of the Pharaoh, who at that time administered justice in the open air.

Captivated by the perfection of the shoe’s shapes, he decided to find its owner. To do this, he sent emissaries who made all the maidens try on the garment fallen from the sky. Thus he was able to find Rhodope, a Greek slave whom he made her lover.

As you may have noticed, the Cinderella story seems to be from ancient times, like so many other things of greater or lesser importance. The dedication of Isis as a black virgin, the creation of the world with the clay modeled by God or baptism itself, are cultural remains of Egypt that have come down to us.

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