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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 Dodonæan 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 Phonicians, 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,
then is the account I heard from the priests at Thebes ; but the prophetesses at Dodona say, “that two black pigeons flew away from Thebes in Egypt; that one of them went to Libya, and the other to them; that this last, sitting perched on an oak tree, proclaimed in a human voice, that it was fitting an oracle should be erected there to Jupiter; and that the people believed this to be a divine message to them, and did accordingly. They add, that the other pigeon, which flew into Libya, commanded the Libyans to found the oracle of Ammon;" this also belongs to Jupiter. The priestesses of Dodona, of whom the eldest is named Promenia, the second Timarete, and the youngest Nicandra, gave this account ;, and the rest of the Dodonæans, engaged in the service of the temple, agreed with them. 56. My opinion of these things is this : if the Phænicians did really carry off the women employed in the temple, and sold the one of them into Libya and the other into Greece, this last woman, as I think, was sold to some Thesprotians, in that part which is now called Hellas, but was formerly called Pelasgia : then, being reduced to slavery, she erected a temple to Jupiter, under an oak that grew there; nothing being more natural, than that she, who had been an attendant in the temple of Jupiter at Thebes, should retain the memory of it wherever she came. And after this, when she had learned the Greek language, she instituted an oracle ; and she said that her sister in Libya had been sold by the same Phænicians by whom she herself was sold. 57. The women, I conjecture, were called doves by the Dodonæans, because they were barbarians, and they seemed to them to chatter like birds ; but after a time, when the woman spoke intelligibly to them, they presently reported that the dove had spoken with a human voice ; for as long as she used a barbarous language, she appeared to them to chatter like a bird : for how could a dove speak with a human voice? But in saying that the dove was black, they show that the woman was an Egyptian. The manner in which oracles are delivered at Thebes in Egypt, and at Dodona, is very similar ; and the art of divination from victims came likewise from Egypt.
58. The Egyptians were also the first who introduced public festivals, processions, and solemn supplications; and the Greeks learnt them from them : for these rites appear to have been established for a very long time, but those in Greece
have been lately introduced. 59. The Egyptians hold public festivals not only once in a year, but several times : that which is best and most rigidly observed, is in the city of Bubastis, in honour of Diana ; the second, in the city of Busiris, is in honour of Isis; for in this city is the largest temple of Isis, and it is situated in the middle of the Egyptian Delta. Isis is in the Grecian language called Demeter. The third festival is held at Sais, in honour of Minerva ; the fourth, at Heliopolis, in honour of the sun; the fifth, at the city of Buto, in honour of Latona ; the sixth, at the city of Papremis, in honour of Mars. 60. Now, when they are being conveyed to the city Bubastis, they act as follows: for men and women embark together, and great numbers of both sexes in every barge : some of the women have castanets on which they play, and the men play on the flute during the whole voyage ;
the rest of the women and men sing and clap their hands together at the same time. When in the course of their passage they come to any town, they lay their barge near to land, and do as follows:
: some of the women do as I have described ; others shout and scoff at the women of the place ; some dance, and others stand
up and pull up their clothes : this they do at every town by the river-side. When they arrive at Bubastis, they celebrate the feast, offering up great sacrifices ; and more wine is consumed at this festival than in all the rest of the year. What with men and women, besides children, they congregate, as the inhabitants say, to the number of seven hundred thousand. 61. I have already related how they celebrate the festival of Isis in the city of Busiris; and besides, all the men and women, to the number of many myriads, beat themselves after the sacri
but for whom they beat themselves it were impious for me to divulge. · All the Carians that are settled in Egypt do still more than this, in that they cut their foreheads with knives, and thus show themselves to be foreigners and not Egyptians. 62. When they are assembled at the sacrifice, in the city of Sais, they all on a certain night kindle a great number of lamps in the open air, around their houses ; the lamps are flat vessels filled with salt and oil, and the wick floats on the surface, and this burns all night ; and the festival is thence named “the lighting of lamps.” The Egyptians who do not come to this public assembly observe the rite of sacrifice, and all kindle lamps, and this not only in Sais, but throughout
all Egypt. A religious reason is given why this night is illuminated and so honoured. 63. Those who assemble at Heliopolis and Buto perform sacrifices only. But in Papremis they offer sacrifices and perform ceremonies, as in other places ; but, when the sun is on the decline, a few priests are occupied about the image, but the greater number stand, with wooden clubs, at the entrance of the temple ; while others accomplishing their vows, amounting to more than a thousand men, each armed in like manner, stand in a body on the opposite side. But the image, placed in a small wooden temple, gilded all over, they carry out to another sacred dwelling: then the few who were left about the image draw a four-wheeled carriage, containing the temple and the image that is in it. But the priests, who stand at the entrance, refuse to give them admittance ; and the votaries, bringing succour to the god, oppose, and then strike, whereupon an obstinate combat with clubs ensues, and they break one another's heads, and, as I conjecture, many die of their wounds; though the Egyptians deny that any one dies. 64. The inhabitants say they instituted this festival on the following occasion : they say, that the mother of Mars dwelt in this temple, and that Mars, who had been educated abroad, when he reached to man's estate, came, and wished to converse with his mother; and that his mother's attendants, as they had never seen him before, did not allow him to pass them, but repelled him ; whereupon he, having collected men from another city, handled the servants roughly, and got access to his mother. In consequence of this, they say that they have instituted this combat on this festival in honour of Mars.
The Egyptians were likewise the first who made it a point of religion that men should abstain from women in the sacred precincts; and not enter unwashed after the use of a woman. For almost all other nations, except the Egyptians and Grecians, have intercourse in sacred places, and enter them unwashed ; thinking mankind to be like other animals : therefore, since they see other animals and birds coupling in the shrines! and temples of the gods, they conclude that if this were displeasing to the god, the brute creatures even would not do it. Now, they who argue thus, act in a manner that I cannot approve. The Egyptians, then, are beyond measure scru
1 See Book I. ch. 199..
pulous in all things concerning religion, and especially in the above-mentioned particulars.
65. Egypt, though bordering on Libya, does not abound in wild beasts ; but all that they have are accounted sacred, as well those that are domesticated as those that are not. But if I should give the reasons why they are consecrated, I must descend in my history to religious matters, which I avoid relating as much as I can; and such as I have touched upon
in the course of my narrative, I have mentioned from necessity. They have a custom relating to animals of the following kind. Superintendents, consisting both of men and women, are appointed to feed every kind separately; and the son succeeds the father in this office. All the inhabitants of the cities perform their vows to the superintendents in the following manner : having made a vow to the god to whom the animal belongs, they shave either the whole heads of their children, or a half
, or a third part of the head, and then weigh the hair in a scale against silver, and whatever the weight may be, they give to the superintendent of the animals ; and she in return cuts up some fish, and gives it as food to the animals : such is the usual mode of feeding them. Should any one kill one of these beasts, if wilfully, death is the punishment ; if by accident, he pays such fine as the priests choose to impose. But whoever kills an ibis or a hawk, whether wilfully or by accident, must necessarily be put to death. 66. Although the domesticated animals are many, they would be much more numerous, were it not for the following accidents which befal the cats. When the females have littered, they no longer seek the company of the males, and they, being desirous of having intercourse with them, are not able to do so; wherefore they have recourse to the following artifice: having taken the young from the females, and carried them away secretly, they kill them ; though when they have killed them, they do not eat them. The females being deprived of their young, and desirous of others, again seek the company of the males ; for this animal is very fond of its young. When a conflagration takes place, a supernatural impulse
seizes on the cats. For the Egyptians, standing at a distance, take care of the cats, and neglect to put out the fire ; but the cats, making their escape, and leaping over the men, throw themselves into the fire ; and when this happens great lament