In Greek mythology, Memnon (Greek: Mέμνων) was an Ethiopian king and son of Tithonus and Eos. As a warrior he was considered to be almost Achilles' equal in skill. During the Trojan War, he brought an army to Troy's defense. The death of Memnon echoes that of Hector, another defender of Troy whom Achilles also killed out of revenge for a fallen comrade, Patroclus. After Memnon's death, Zeus was moved by Eos' tears and granted her immortality. He also returned Memnon to life but only at the the moment the sun rose, so that he could greet his mother. For the rest of the day he would lapse into unconsciousness and wait for the next morning. The story says that there is a statue in one of the Egyptian temples that saluted the rising sun by sounds, which seemed to proceed from its mouth.
Unlike most of the marvels of ancient mythology, there will exist some memorials of this. On the banks of the river Nile, in Egypt, are two colossal statues, one of which is said to be the statue of Memnon. This sound was heard till the fourth century after Christ. Descriptions of this sounding statue, and accounts of the sound heard, are to be found in the works of Pausanias and Strabo, and among modern authors, in those of Pococke and Norden. Pausanias describes how he marveled at a colossal statue in Egypt:
In Egyptian Thebes, on crossing the Nile to the so called Pipes, I saw a statue, still sitting, which gave out a sound. The many call it Memnon, who they say from Aethiopia overran Egypt and as far as Susa. The Thebans, however, say that it is a statue, not of Memnon, but of a native named Phamenoph, and I have heard some say that it is Sesostris. This statue was broken in two by Cambyses, and at the present day from head to middle it is thrown down; but the rest is seated, and every day at the rising of the sun it makes a noise, and the sound one could best liken to that of a harp or lyre when a string has been broken.
In the Theosophical literature we find a reference to this in the Mahatma Letter No. 44
- Jacques Ozanam, Jean Etienne Montucla, Charles Hutton, Recreations in mathematics and natural philosophy (??????), 148
- Pausanias, Description of GreeceTemplate:Fix (Harvard University Press; William Heinmann Ltd. 1918).