Mycerinus


Mycerinus
(Menkaure) King c.2528-2500 BC.
    Mycerinus (the Graecised but better known name of Menkaure) was the king who built the third pyramid at Giza. Much smaller than the monuments of his father, *Chephren, and his grandfather *Cheops, the pyramid of Mycerinus covers less than half the area of the Great Pyramid. If it had been completed this would have been an impressive monument which incorporated red granite brought from Aswan. However, much was left unfinished, including the task of covering the walls of the associated mortuary temple with stone casing, and *Shepseskaf (Mycerinus' successor) completed the complex in mudbrick and added the Valley Temple. It seems that Mycerinus died prematurely, a detail recorded by *Herodotus, who also related that the king's daughter committed suicide on account of Mycerinus' misdeeds.
    Herodotus compares Mycerinus favourably with his predecessors, *Cheops and *Chephren, and comments on his piety, his kindly and just disposition, and his beneficence as a ruler. Another tale relates how the oracle at Buto (a town in the Delta) prophesied that he had only six years to live, so in order to confound this prediction, he enjoyed life day and night, by the light of a candle, and thus gained another twelve years of pleasure.
    His pyramid complex was excavated by G.A.Reisner. One of the major discoveries was the magnificent royal statuary found in the funerary temple; together with the sculpture from *Chephren's pyramid complex, this provides the most important evidence of royal art during the Old Kingdom. The finest piece from the Mycerinus complex is a superb life-size slate pair-statue of the king and his wife, Queen Khamerernebty II, which is now in the Boston Museum. This statue displays the finest qualities of Old Kingdom sculpture and shows the regal bearing of the king and the supportive attitude of his queen, who places her arm around his waist.
    Archaeologists also discovered a series of smaller slate triads, each representing the king, standing between the goddess Hathor and one of the nome-deities. Egypt was originally divided into forty-two nomes or administrative districts, and although only four of these triads have survived, it is possible that there were originally forty-two of these statue-groups in the temple.
    Mycerinus was the last great ruler of the Fourth Dynasty; his successor (who was probably also his son), *Shepseskaf, broke with tradition and rejected a pyramid in favour of a unique mastaba-tomb.
BIBL. Reisner, G.A. The temples of the Third Pyramid at Giza. Cambridge, Mass. 1931.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
   See Menkaure.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.