Herodotus, The Histories -Extract- Labyrinth of Egypt

It has twelve courts covered in, with gates facing one another, six upon the North side and six upon the South, one after another. and the same wall surrounds them all outside; and there are in it two kinds of chambers, the one kind below the ground and the other above upon these, three thousand in number, of each kind fifteen hundred. The upper set of chambers we ourselves saw, going through them, and we tell of them having looked upon them with our own eyes. The chambers under ground we heard about only; for the Egyptians who had charge of them were not willing on any account to show them, saying that here were the sepulchres of the kings who had first built this labyrinth and of the sacred crocodiles. Accordingly we speak of the chambers below by what we received from hearsay, while those above we saw ourselves and found them to be the works beyond the human. For the passages through the chambers, and the goings this way and that way through the courts, which were admirably adorned, afforded endless matter for marvel, as we went through from a court to the chambers beyond it, and from the chambers to colonnades, and from the colonnades to other rooms, and then from the chambers again to other courts. Over the whole of these is a roof made of stone like the walls; and the walls are covered with figures carved upon them. each court being surrounded with pillars of white stone fitted together most perfectly; and at the end of the labyrinth, by the corner of it, there is a pyramid of 240 feet, upon which large figures are carved, and into this there is an underground way.

A labyrinth, with an underground level and an adjacent pyramid? That’s a megadungeon right here!

Herodotus, The Histories – Extract – The Gate of the Dead Queen

This same queen [Nitocris] also contrived a snare of the following kind: — Over that gate of the city through which the greatest number of people passed she set up for herself a tomb above the very gate itself. And on the tomb she engraved writing which said: « If any of the kings of Babylon who come after me shall be in want of wealth, let him open my tomb and take as much as he desires; but let him not open it for no other cause, if he be not in want; for that will not be the better way. » This tomb was undisturbed until the kingdom came to Dareios; but to Dareios it seemed that it was a monstrous thing not to make any use of this gate, and also, when there was money lying there, not to take it, considering the inscription itself invited him to do so. Now he would not make any use of this gate because the corpse would have been above his head as he drove through. He then, I say, opened the tomb and found not indeed money but the corpse, with writing which said: « If you had not been insatiable for wealth and basely covetous, you would not have opened the resting-place of the dead. »

This is neat. But I can’t help but think that in lieu of this mild disapproval it should have ended with a terrible world-shattering curse!

Herodotus, The Histories – Extract – Babylon, Lady of the Tower

[…] and in the midst of the temple precinct is built a solid tower measuring 606 feet both in length and in breadth, and on this tower another tower has been erected, and another again upon this, and so on up to the number of eight towers. An ascent to these has been built running outside round about all the towers; and when one reaches about the middle of the ascent one finds a stopping-place and seats to rest upon, on which those who ascend sit down and rest: and on the top of the last tower there is a large sanctuary, and in this cell a large couch is laid, well covered, and by it is placed a golden table. No image is there set up nor does any human being spend the night there except only one woman of the natives of the place, whomsoever the god shall choose from all the women, as say the Chaldeans who are the priests of this god.

I wonder, is Babylon’s the original archetype of a « princess » locked in (atop) a tower?

from a russian fairy tale