« PreviousContinue »
the temple of the sun, having inclosed him in myrrh, and there buries him in the temple. He brings him in this manner: first he moulds an egg of myrrh as large as he is able to carry; then he tries to carry it, and when he has made the experiment, he hollows out the egg, and puts his parent into it, and stops up with some more myrrh the hole through which he had introduced the body, so when his father is put inside the weight is the same as before; then, having covered it over, he carries him to the temple of the sun in Egypt. This, they say, is done by this bird.
74. In the neighborhood of Thebes there are sacred serpents not at all hurtful to men: they are diminutive in size, and carry two horns that grow on the top of the head. When these serpents die they bury them in the temple of Jupiter ; for they say they are sacred to that god. 75. There is a place in Arabia, situated very near the city of Buto, to which I went on hearing of some winged serpents; and when I arrived there, I saw bones and spines of serpents in such quantities as it would be impossible to describe: there were heaps of these spinal bones, some large, some smaller, and others still less; and there were great numbers of them. The place in which these spinal bones lie scattered is of the following description : it is a narrow pass between two mountains into a spacious plain ; this plain is contiguous to the plain of Egypt; it is reported that, at the beginning of spring, winged serpents fly from Arabia toward Egypt; but that ibises, a sort of bird, meet them at the pass, and do not allow the serpents to go by, but kill them : for this service the Arabians say that the ibis is highly reverenced by the Egyptians, and the Egyptians acknowledge that they reverence these birds for this reason. 76. The ibis is of the following description: it is all over a deep black, it has the legs of a crane, its beak is much curved, and it is about the size of the çrex. Such is the form of the black ones that fight with the serpents; but those that are commonly conversant among men (for there are two species) are bare on the head and the whole neck, have white plumage except on the head, the throat, and the tips of the wings and extremity of the tail; in all these parts that I have mentioned they are of a deep black ; in their legs and beak they are like the other kind. The form of the serpent is like that of the
water-snake; but he has wings without feathers, and as like as possible to the wings of a bat. This must suffice for the description of sacred animals.
77. Of the Egyptians, those who inhabit that part of Egypt which is sown with corn, in that they cultivate the memory of past events more than any other men, are the best informed of all with whom I have had intercourse. Their manner of life is this. They purge themselves every month, three days successively, seeking to preserve health by emetics and clysters; for they suppose that all diseases to which men are subject proceed from the food they use. And, indeed, in other respects, the Egyptians, next to the Libyans, are the most healthy people in the world, as I think, on account of the seasons, because they are not liable to change; for men are most subject to disease at periods of change, and, above all others, at the change of the seasons. They feed on bread made into loaves of spelt, which they call cyllestis; and they use wine made of barley, for they have no vines in that country. Some fish they dry in the sun, and eat raw, others salted with brine; and of birds they eat quails, ducks, and smaller birds raw, having first salted them : all other things, whether birds or fishes, that they have, except such as are accounted sacred, they eat either roasted or boiled. 78. At their convivial banquets, among the wealthy classes, when they have finished supper, a man carries round in a coffin the image of a dead body carved in wood, made as like as possible in color and workmanship, and in size generally about one or two cubits in length; and showing this to each of the company, he says, “ Look upon this, then drink and enjoy yourself, for when dead you will be like this.” This practice they have at their drinking parties. 79. They observe their ancient customs, but acquire no
Among other memorable customs, they have one song, Linus, which is sung in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and elsewhere; in different nations it bears a different name, but it agrees so exactly as to be the same which the Greeks sing, under the name of Linus. So that
wonderful things seen in Egypt, this is especially wonderful, whence they got this Linus; for they seem to have sung it from time immemorial. The Linus, in the Egyptian language, is called Maneros; and the Egyptians say that he was the only son of
the first king of Egypt, and that happening to die prematurely, he was honored by the Egyptians in this mourning dirge; and this is the first and only song they have. 80. In this other particular the Egyptians resemble the Lacedæmonians only among all the Grecians: the young men, when they meet their elders, give way and turn aside, and when they approach, rise up
from their seats. In the following custom, however, they do not resemble any nation of the Greeks; instead of addressing one another in the streets, they salute by letting the hand fall down as far as the knee. 81. They wear linen tunics fringed round the legs, which they call calasiris, and over these they throw white woolen mantles; woolen clothes, however, are not carried into the temples, nor are they buried with them, for that is accounted profane. In this respect they agree with the worshipers of Orpheus and Bacchus, who are Egyptians and Pythagoreans; for it is considered profane for one who is initiated in these mysteries to be buried in woolen garments, and a religious reason is given for this custom.
82. These other things were also invented by the Egyptians. . Each month and day is assigned to some particular god; and according to the day on which each person is born, they determine what will befall him, how he will die, and what kind of person he will be. And these things the Grecian poets have made use of. They have also discovered more prodigies than all the rest of the world; for when any prodigy occurs, they carefully observe and write down the result; and if a similar occurrence should happen afterward, they think the result will be the same. 83. The art of divination is in this condition: it is attributed to no human being, but only to some of the gods; for they have among them an oracle of Hercules, Apollo, Minerva, Diana, Mars, and Jupiter; and that which they honor above all others is the oracle of Latona, in the city of Buto. Their modes of delivering oracles, however, are not all alike, but differ from each other. 84. The art of medicine is thus divided among them: each physician applies himself to one disease only, and not more. All places abound in physicians; some physicians are for the eyes, others for the head, others for the teeth, others for the parts about the belly, and others for internal disorders.
85. Their manner of mourning and burying is as follows. When in a family a man of any consideration dies, all the females of that family besmear their heads and faces with mud, and then leaving the body in the house, they wander about the city, and beat themselves, having their clothes girt up, and exposing their breasts, and all their relations accompany them. On the other hand, the men beat themselves, being girt up,
in like manner. When they have done this, they carry out the body to be embalmed. 86. There are persons who are appointed for this very purpose; they, when the dead body is brought to them, show to the bearers wooden models of corpses, made exactly like by painting. And they show that which they say is the most expensive manner of embalming, the name of which I do not think it right to mention on such an occasion; they then show the second, which is inferior and less expensive; and then the third, which is the cheapest. Having explained them all, they learn from them in what way they wish the body to be prepared; then the relations, when they have agreed on the price, depart; but the embalmers remaining in the work-shops thus proceed to embalm in the most expensive manner. First they draw out the brains through the nostrils with an iron hook, taking part of it out in this manner, the rest by the infusion of drugs. Then with a sharp Ethiopian stone they make an incision in the side, and take out all the bowels; and having cleansed the abdomen and rinsed it with palm-wine, they next sprinkle it with pounded perfumes. Then, having filled the belly with pure myrrh pounded, and cassia, and other perfumes, frankincense excepted, they sew it up again; and when they have done this, they steep it in natrum, leaving it under for seventy days; for a longer time than this it is not lawful to steep it.
At the expiration of the seventy days they wash the corpse, and wrap the whole body in bandages of flaxen cloth, smearing it with gum, which the Egyptians commonly use instead of glue. After this the relations, having taken the body back again, make a wooden case in the shape of a man, and having made it, they inclose the body; and thus, having fastened it up, they store it in a sepulchral chamber, setting it upright against the wall. In this manner they prepare the bodies that are embalmed in the most expensive way. 87. Those who, avoiding great expense, desire the middle way, they prepare in the following manner. When they have charged their syringes with oil made from cedar, they fill the abdomen
of the corpse without making any incision or taking out the bowels, but inject it at the fundament; and having prevented the injection from escaping, they steep the body in natrum for the prescribed number of days, and on the last day they let out from the abdomen the oil of cedar which they had before injected, and it has such power that it brings away the intestines and vitals in a state of dissolution; the natrum dissolves the flesh, and nothing of the body remains but the skin and the bones. When they have done this they return the body without any farther operation. 88. The third method of embalming is this, which is used only for the poorer sort: having thoroughly rinsed the abdomen in syrmaea, they steep it with natrum for the seventy days, and then deliver it to be
89. But the wives of considerable persons, when they die, they do not immediately deliver to be embalmed, nor such women as are very beautiful and of celebrity, but when they have been dead three or four days they then deliver them to the embalmers; and they do this for the following reason, that the embalmers may not abuse the bodies of such women ; for they say that one man was detected in abusing a body that was fresh, and that a fellow-workman informed against him. 90. Should any person, whether Egyptian or stranger, no matter which, be found to have been seized by a crocodile, or drowned in the river, to whatever city the body may be carried, the inhabitants are by law compelled to have the body embalmed, and having adorned it in the handsomest manner, to bury it in the sacred vaults. Nor is it lawful for any one else, whether relations or friends, to touch him; but the priests of the Nile bury the corpse with their own hands, as being something more than human.
91. They avoid using Grecian customs, and, in a word, the customs of all other people whatsoever. All the other Egyptians are particular in this. But there is a large city called Chemmis, situate in the Thebaic district, near Neapolis, in which is a quadrangular temple dedicated to Perseus, the son of Danae; palm-trees grow round it, and the portico
of stone, very spacious, and over it are placed two large stone statues. In this inclosure is a temple, and in it is placed a statue of Perseus. The Chemmitæ affirm that Perseus has frequently appeared to them on earth, and frequently within the temple, and that a sandal worn by him is sometimes