Page images
PDF
EPUB

43. Of this Hercules I have heard this account, that he is one of the twelve gods; but of the other Hercules, who is known to the Grecians, I could never hear in any part of Egypt. And that the Egyptians did not derive the name of Hercules from the Grecians, but rather the Grecians (and especially those who gave the name of Hercules to the son of Amphitryon) from the Egyptians, I have both many other proofs to show, and moreover the following, that the parents of this Hercules, Amphitryon and Alcmene, were boths of Egyptian descent, and because the Egyptians say they do not know the names of Neptune and the Dioscuri, and that they have never been admitted into the number of their gods; yet if they had derived the name of any deity from the Grecians, they would certainly have mentioned these above all others, since even at that time they made voyages, and some of the Grecians were sailors, so that I believe, and am persuaded, that the Egyptians must have learnt the names of these gods, rather than that of Hercules. But Hercules is one of the ancient gods of the Egyptians; and as they say themselves, it was seventeen thousand years before the reign of Amasis, when the number of their gods was increased from eight to twelve, of whom Hercules was accounted one. 44. And being desirous of obtaining certain information from whatever source I could, I sailed to Tyre in Phoenicia, having heard that there was there a temple dedicated to Hercules; and I saw it richly adorned with a great variety of offerings, and in it were two pillars, one of fine gold, the other of emerald stone, both shining exceedingly * at night. Conversing with the priests of this god, I inquired how long this temple had been built, and I found that neither did they agree with the Greeks. For they said that the temple was built at the time when Tyre was founded, and that two thousand three hundred years had elapsed since the foundation of Tyre. In this city I also saw another temple dedicated to Hercules by the name of Thasian; I went therefore to Thasos, and found there a temple of Hercules built by the Phoenicians, who, having set sail in search of Europa, founded Thasos; and this occurred five generations before Hercules the son of Amphitryon appeared in Greece. The researches then that I have made evidently prove, that Hercules is a god of great antiquity, and therefore those Grecians appear to me to have acted most correctly, who have built two kinds of temples sacred to Hercules, and who sacrificed to one as an immortal, under the name of Olympian, and paid honour to the other as a hero. 45. But the Grecians say many other things on this subject inconsiderately; for instance, this is a silly story of theirs which they tell of Hercules: that, “when he arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians, having crowned him with a garland, led him in procession, as designing to sacrifice him to Jupiter, and that for some time he remained quiet, but when they began the preparatory ceremonies upon him at the altar, he set about defending himself and slew every one of them.” Now the Greeks who tell this story appear to me to be utterly ignorant of the character and customs of the Egyptians. For how can they who are forbidden to sacrifice any kind of animal, except swine, and such bulls and calves as are without blemish, and geese, sacrifice human beings P Moreover, since Hercules was but one, and besides a mere man, as they confess, how is it probable that he should slay many thousands? And in thus speaking of them may I meet with indulgence both from gods and heroes. 46. The reason why the Egyptians above mentioned do not sacrifice the goat, either male or female, is as follows: the Mendesians consider Pan one of the eight gods, and they say, that these eight existed prior to the twelve gods. And indeed their painters and sculptors represent Pan with the face and legs of a goat, as the Grecians do: not that they imagine this to be his real form, for they think him like other gods; but why they represent him in this way I had rather not mention. However, the Mendesians pay reverence to all goats, and more to the males than to the females, (and the goatherds who tend them receive greater honour,) and particularly one he-goat, on whose death public mourning is observed throughout the whole Mendesian district. In the language of Egypt, both a goat and Pan are called Mendes; and in my time the following prodigy occurred in this district: a goat had connexion with a woman in open day: this came to the knowledge of all men. 47. The Egyptians consider the pig to be an impure beast, and therefore if a man in passing by a pig should touch him only with his garments, he forthwith goes to the river and plunges in: and in the next place, swineherds, although I

* Méya.0os must be here construed as an adverb: but Baehr thinks that the text is corrupt.

native Egyptians, are the only men who are not allowed to enter any of their temples; neither will any man give his daughter in marriage to one of them, nor take a wife from among them; but the swineherds intermarry among themselves. The Egyptians therefore do not think it right to sacrifice swine to any other deities; but to the moon and Bacchus they do sacrifice them, at the same time, that is, at the same full moon, and then they eat of the flesh. A tradition is related by the Egyptians in relation to this matter, giving an account why they abhor swine on all other festivals, and sacrifice them in that ; but it is more becoming for me, though I know it, not to mention it. This sacrifice of pigs to the moon is performed in the following manner: when the sacrificer has slain the victim, he puts together the tip of the tail, with the spleen and the caul, and then covers them with the fat found about the belly of the animal; and next he consumes them with fire: the rest of the flesh they eat during the full moon in which they offer the sacrifices; but in no other day would any one even taste it. The poor amongst them, through want of means, form pigs of dough, and having baked them, offer them in sacrifice. 48. On the eve of the festival of Bacchus, every one slays a pig before his door, and then restores it to the swineherd that sold it, that he may carry it away. The rest of this festival to Bacchus, except as regards the pigs, the Egyptians celebrate much in the same manner as the Greeks do, but only, instead of phalli, they have invented certain images, as much as a cubit in height, moved by strings, which women carry about the villages, and which have the member nodding, in size not much less than the rest of the body; a pipe leads the way, and the women follow, singing the praises of Bacchus. But why it has the member so large, and moves no other part of the body, is accounted for by a sacred story. 49. Now Melampus, son of Amytheon, appears to me not to have been ignorant of this sacrifice, but perfectly well acquainted with it; for Melampus is the person who first introduced among the Greeks the name and sacrifices of Bacchus, and the procession of the phallus; he did not, however, fully explain every particular, but other learned persons who lived after him revealed them more accurately. Melampus, then, is the person who introduced the procession of the phallus in honour of Bacchus, and from him the Greeks having learnt it, do as they do. For my part I think that Melampus, being a wise man, both acquired the art of divination, and having learnt many other things in Egypt, introduced them among the Greeks, and particularly the worship of Bacchus, changing only some few particulars; for I cannot admit that the ceremonies adopted in Egypt in honour of this god, and those among the Greeks, coincide by chance; in that case they would be conformable to Grecian customs, and not have been lately introduced; neither can I admit that the Egyptians borrowed either this or any other usage from the Greeks. But I am of opinion that Melampus obtained his information respecting the ceremonies of Bacchus, chiefly from Cadmus the Tyrian, and those who accompanied him from Phoenicia to the country now called Boeotia. 50. And indeed the names of almost all the gods came from Egypt into Greece; for that they came from barbarians I find on inquiry to be the case; and I think they chiefly proceeded from Egypt. For with the exception of Neptune and, the Dioscuri, as I before mentioned, and Juno, Vesta, Themis, the Graces, and the Nereids, the names of all the others have always existed among the Egyptians: in this I repeat what the Egyptians themselves affirm; but the gods whose names they say they are not acquainted with, I think, derived their. names from the Pelasgians, with the exception of Neptune; this god they learned from the Libyans, for no people, except the Libyans, originally possessed the name of Neptune, and they have always worshipped him. Moreover the Egyptians pay no religious honour to heroes. 51. These, and other customs besides, which I shall hereafter mention, the Grecians received from the Egyptians. The practice of making the images of Mercury with the member erect, they did not learn from the Egyptians, but from the Pelasgians: the Athenians were the first of all the Greeks who adopted this practice, and others from them; for the Pelasgians dwelt in the same country as the Athenians, who were already ranked among Greeks, whence they also began to be reckoned as Grecians. Whoever is initiated in the mysteries of the Cabiri, which the Samothracians have adopted from the Pelasgians, knows what I mean. For these Pelasgians dwelt in the same country as the Athenians formerly inhabited, Samothrace, and from them the Samothracians learnt the mysteries

the Athenians therefore were the first of the Grecians who, having learnt the practice from the Pelasgians, made the images of Mercury with the member erect; but the Pelasgians assign a certain sacred reason for this, which is explained in the mysteries of Samothrace. 52. Formerly the Pelasgians sacrificed all sorts of victims to the gods with prayer, as I was informed at Dodona, but they gave no surname or name to any of them, for they had not yet heard of them; but they called them gods, because they had set in order and ruled over all things. Then, in course of time, they learnt the names of the other gods that were brought from Egypt, and after some time, that of Bacchus. Concerning the names they consulted the oracle of Dodona, for this oracle is accounted the most ancient of those that are in Greece, and was then the only one. When therefore the Pelasgians inquired at Dodona “whether they should receive the names that came from barbarians,” the oracle answered, “that they should.” From that time therefore they adopted the names of the gods in their sacrifices, and the Grecians afterwards received them from the Pelasgians. 53. Whence each of the gods sprung, whether they existed always, and of what form they were, was, so to speak, unknown till yesterday. For I am of opinion that Hesiod and Homer lived four hundred years before my time, and not more, and these were they who framed a theogony for the Greeks, and gave names to the gods, and assigned to them honours and arts, and declared their several

forms. But the poets, said to have been before them, in my .

opinion, were after them. The first part of the above statement is derived from the Dodonaean priestesses; but the latter, that relates to Hesiod and Homer, I say on my own authority.

54. Concerning the two oracles, one in Greece, the other in Libya, the Egyptians give the following account. The priests of the Theban Jupiter say, “that two women, employed in the temple, were carried away from Thebes by certain Phoenicians, and that one of them was discovered to have been sold into Libya, the other to the Greeks; and that these two women were the first who established oracles in the nations above mentioned.” When I inquired how they knew this for a certainty, they answered, “that they made diligent search for these women, and were never able to find them ; but had afterwards heard the account they gave of them.” 55. This,

« PreviousContinue »