The Egyptian Cinderella Story Debunked


Kelly Macquire
by Study of Antiquity and the Middle Ages
published on 24 November 2020

The story of Cinderella is one of the most popular in the world. In the west, it has enjoyed a continuous following since its revision and publication by Charles Perrault in 1697 CE but the tale of the young heroine, unjustly forced into servitude, who becomes elevated to royalty was told for centuries before in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) in the story of Yeh Shen. In this story the evil step-mother and step-sister kill the animal friends of Yeh Shen but in the end are destroyed and the girl wins the hand of the king.

The story was re-worked in the 17th century CE in Italy, prior to Perrault's version, by the poet Giambattista Basile (1566-1632 CE). The posthumous publication of Basile's now famous children's book, Il Pentamerone, in 1634 CE included the story La Gatta Cenerentola (The Cat Cinderella) which is recognized as the first European appearance of the story in print although, like Basile's other tales, it was already known in Italy. The story was afterwards re-worked and published in other forms in Germany, Russia, and other countries.

A number of modern-day authors, however, in print and online, claim that the story originated in ancient Egypt and provide a version which they attribute to the Greek historian Strabo (65 BCE-23 CE). All of these writers repeat essentially the same version of the tale - which is nothing like Strabo's - but is given authenticity by their citation of him as their source. These writers even go so far as to cite "facts" from ancient history which support their claims that the folk tale is based on actual events and some cite Herodotus or other ancient sources to give their claims more weight.

In reality, the tale they continue to present as the "Egyptian Cinderella" has no Egyptian origin and, in its present version, appears nowhere in ancient literature. Strabo's version of the so-called "Egyptian Cinderella" has almost none of the elements of the popular modern-day version.

Music Attribution:"Sands of Mystery" Trey VanZandt (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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APA Style

Ages, S. o. A. a. t. M. (2020, November 24). The Egyptian Cinderella Story Debunked. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

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Ages, Study of Antiquity and the Middle. "The Egyptian Cinderella Story Debunked." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified November 24, 2020.

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Ages, Study of Antiquity and the Middle. "The Egyptian Cinderella Story Debunked." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 24 Nov 2020. Web. 18 May 2024.