« PreviousContinue »
ground, during a journey of many days, they at length saw some trees growing in a plain; and that they approached and began to gather the fruit that grew on the trees; and while they were gathering, some diminutive men, less than men of middle stature, came up, and having seized them carried them away; and that the Nasamonians did not at all understand their language, nor those who carried them off the language of the Nasamonians. However, they conducted them through vast morasses, and when they had passed these, they came to a city, in which all the inhabitants were of the same size as their conductors, and black in colour: and by the city flowed a great river, running from the west to the east, and that crocodiles were seen in it.” 33. Thus far I have set forth the account of Etearchus the Ammonian ; to which may be added, as the Cyrenaeans assured me, “that he said the Nasamonians all returned safe to their own country, and that the men whom they came to were all necromancers.” Etearchus also conjectured that this river, which flows by their city, is the Nile; and reason so evinces: for the Nile flows from Libya, and intersects it in the middle; and (as I conjecture, inferring things unknown from things known) it sets out from a point corresponding with the Ister. For the Ister, beginning from the Celts, and the city of Pyrene, divides Europe in its course: but the Celts are beyond the pillars of Hercules, and border on the territories of the Cynesians, who lie in the extremity of Europe to the westward; and the Ister terminates by flowing through all Europe into the Euxine Sea, where a Milesian colony is settled in Istria. 34. Now the Ister, as it flows through a well-peopled country, is generally known; but no one is able to speak about the sources of the Nile, because Libya, through which it flows, is uninhabited and desolate. Respecting this stream, therefore, as far as I was able to reach by inquiry, I have already spoken. It however discharges itself into Egypt; and Egypt lies, as near as may be, opposite to the mountains of Cilicia; from whence to Sinope, on the Euxine Sea, is a five days’ journey in a straight line to an active man; and Sinope is opposite to the Ister, where it discharges itself into the sea. So I think that the Nile, traversing the whole of Libya, may be properly compared with the Ister. Such, then, is the account that I am able to give respecting the Nile.
35. I now proceed to give a more particular account of Egypt; it possesses more wonders than any other country, and exhibits works greater than can be described, in comparison with all other regions; therefore more must be said about it. The Egyptians, besides having a climate peculiar to themselves, and a river differing in its nature from all other rivers, have adopted customs and usages in almost every respect different from the rest of mankind. Amongst them the women attend markets and traffic, but the men stay at home and weave. Other nations, in weaving, throw the wool upwards; the Egyptians, downwards. The men carry burdens on their heads; the women, on their shoulders. The women stand up when they make water, but the men sit down. They ease themselves in their houses, but eat out of doors; alleging that, whatever is indecent, though necessary, ought to be done in private ; but what is not indecent, openly. No woman can serve the office for any god or goddess; but men are employed for both offices. Sons are not compelled to support their parents unless they choose, but daughters are compelled to do so, whether they choose or not. 36. In other countries the priests of the gods wear long hair; in Egypt they have it shaved. With other men it is customary in mourning for the nearest relations to have their heads shorn; the Egyptians, on occasions of death, let the hair grow both on the head and face, though till then used to shave. Other men live apart from beasts; but the Egyptians live with them. Others feed on wheat and barley, but it is a very great disgrace for an Egyptian to make food of them ; but they make bread from spelt, which some call zea. They knead the dough with their feet; but mix clay and take up dung with their hands. "Other men leave their private parts as they are formed by nature, except those who have learnt otherwise from them ; but the Egyptians are circumcised. Every man wears two garments; the women, but one. Other men fasten the rings and sheets of their sails outside; but the Egyptians, inside. The Grecians write and cipher, moving the hand from left to right; but the Egyptians, from right to left: and doing so, they say they do it right-ways, and the Greeks left-ways. They have two sorts of letters, one of which is called sacred, the other common. 37. They are of all men the most excessively attentive to
is to be clean than handsome. The priests shave their whole body every third day, that neither lice nor any other impurity may be found upon them when engaged in the service of the ris, gods. The priests wear linen only, and shoes of byblus, and are not permitted to wear any other garments, or other shoes.
it remonies. On the other hand, they enjoy no slight advantages, .# for they do not consume or expend any of their private
o: property; but sacred food is cooked for them, and a great ... quantity of beef and geese is allowed each of them every day, port and wine from the grape is given them ; but they may not
in taste of fish. Beans the Egyptians do not sow at all in their ": country, neither do they eat those that happen to grow there,
Ties - -
yp- god is performed, not by one, but by many priests, of whom one is chief priest; and, when any one of them dies, his
o son is put in his place. 38. The male kine they deem sacred ... to Epaphus, and to that end prove them in the following
... I manner. If the examiner finds one black hair upon him, he . ... I adjudges him to be unclean; and one of the priests appointed ith for this purpose makes this examination, both when the animal is standing up and lying down ; and he draws out the by tongue, to see if it is pure as to the prescribed marks, which I
shall mention in another part of my history. He also looks
* at the hairs of his tail, whether they grow naturally. If the 198 beast is found pure in all these respects, he marks it by roll
. ing a piece of byblus round the horns, and then having put on it some sealing earth, he impresses it with his signet; and so they drive him away. Any one who sacrifices one that is unmark... ed, is punished with death. In this manner the animal is ys. proved. 39. The established mode of sacrifice is this: having led the victim, properly marked, to the altar where they intend to sacrifice, they kindle a fire. Then having poured
wine upon the altar, near the victim, and having invoked the god, they kill it ; and after they have killed it, they cut off the head; but they flay the body of the animal: then having pronounced many imprecations on the head, they who have a market and Grecian merchants dwelling amongst them, carry it there, and having so done, they usually sell it ; but they who have no Grecians amongst them, throw it into the river: and they pronounce the following imprecations on the head: “If any evil is about to befal either those that now sacrifice, or Egypt in general, may it be averted on this head.” With respect, then, to the heads of beasts that are sacrificed, and to the making libations of wine, all the Egyptians observe the same customs in all sacrifices alike : and from this custom no Egyptian will taste of the head of any animal. 40. But a different mode of disembowelling and burning the victims prevails in different sacrifices. I proceed therefore to speak of the practice with regard to the goddess whom they consider the greatest, and in whose honour they celebrate the most magnificent festival. When they have flayed the bullocks, having first offered up prayers, they take out all the intestines, and leave the vitals with the fat in the carcass: and they then cut off the legs and the extremity of the hip, with the shoulders and neck, and having done this, they fill the body of the bullock with fine bread, honey, raisins, figs, frankincense, myrrh, and other perfumes; and after they have filled it with these, they burn it, pouring on it a great quantity of oil. They sacrifice after they have fasted; and while the sacred things are being burnt, they all beat themselves; and when they have done beating themselves, they spread a banquet of what remains of the victims. 41. All the Egyptians therefore sacrifice the pure male kine and calves, but they are not allowed to sacrifice the females, for they are sacred to Isis; for the image of Isis is made in the form of a woman with the horns of a cow, as the Grecians represent Io; and all Egyptians alike pay a far greater reverence to cows than to any other cattle. So that no Egyptian man or woman will kiss a Grecian on the mouth ; or use the knife, spit, or caldron of a Greek, or taste of the flesh of a pure ox that has been divided by a Grecian knife. They bury the kine that die in the following manner; the females they throw into the river, and the males they severally inter in the suburbs, with one horn, or both, appearing above the ground, for a mark. When it is putrified and the appointed time arrives, a raft comes to each city from the island called Prosopitis; this island is in the Delta, and is nine schoeni in circumference : now in this island Prosopitis there are several cities; but that from which the rafts come to take away the bones of the oxen, is called Atarbechis ; in it a temple of Venus has been erected. From this city then many persons go about to other towns; and having dug up the bones, all carry them away, and bury them in one place ; and they bury all other cattle that die in the same way that they do the oxen; for they do not kill any of them. 42. All those who have a temple erected to Theban Jupiter, or belong to the Theban district, abstain from sheep, and sacrifice goats only. For the Egyptians do not all worship the same gods in the same manner, except Isis and Osiris, who, they say, is Bacchus; but these deities they all worship in the same manner. On the other hand, those who frequent the temple of Mendes, and belong to the Mendesian district, abstain from goats, and sacrifice sheep. Now the Thebans, and such as abstain from sheep after their example, say, that this custom was established among them in the following way: that Hercules was very desirous of seeing Jupiter, but Jupiter was unwilling to be seen by him ; at last, however, as Hercules persisted, Jupiter had recourse to the following contrivance : having flayed a ram, he cut off the head, and held it before himself, and then having put on the fleece, he in that form showed himself to Hercules.” From this circumstance the Egyptians make the image of Jupiter with a ram's face; and from the Egyptians the Ammonians, who are a colony of Egyptians and Ethiopians, and who speak a language between both, have adopted the same practice; and, as I conjecture, the Ammonians from hence derived their name, for the Egyptians call Jupiter, Ammon. The Thebans then do not sacrifice rams, but they are for the above reason accounted sacred by them ; on one day in the year, however, at the festival of Jupiter, they kill and flay one ram, and put it on the image of Jupiter, and then they bring another image of Hercules to it; when they have done this, all who are in the temple beat themselves in mourning for the ram, and then bury him in a sacred vault.