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THE HISTORY OF HERODOTUS, Volume 1 by Herodotus

Part 3 out of 8

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[51] {elkon stathmon einaton emitalanton kai eti duodeka mneas}. The
{mnea} (mina) is 15.2 oz., and 60 of them go to a talent.

[52] {epi tou proneiou tes gonies}, cp. viii. 122: the use of {epi}
seems to suggest some kind of raised corner-stone upon which the
offerings stood.

[53] The {amphoreus} is about 9 gallons.

[54] Cp. iii. 41.

[55] {perirranteria}.

[56] {kheumata}, which some translate "jugs" or "bowls."

[57] {umin}, as if both Oracles were being addressed together.

[58] i.e. Delphi.

[59] {enephoreeto}, "he filled himself with it."

[60] {Krestona}: Niebuhr would read {Krotona} (Croton or Cortona in
Etruria), partly on the authority of Dionysius: see Stein's note.
Two of the best MSS. are defective in this part of the book.

[61] See ii. 51 and vi. 137.

[62] {auxetai es plethos ton ethneon pollon}: "has increased to a
multitude of its races, which are many." Stein and Abicht both
venture to adopt the conjecture {Pelasgon} for {pollon},
"Pelasgians especially being added to them, and also many other
Barbarian nations."

[62a] {pros de on emoige dokeei}: the MSS. have {emoi te}. Some
Editors read {os de on} (Stein {prosthe de on}) for {pros de on}.
This whole passage is probably in some way corrupt, but it can
hardly be successfully emended.

[63] i.e. as it is of the Hellenic race before it parted from the
Pelasgian and ceased to be Barbarian.

[64] {katekhomenon te kai diespasmenon . . . upo Peisistratou}.
Peisistratos was in part at least the cause of the divisions.

[65] {paralon}.

[66] {uperakrion}.

[67] {toutous}: some read by conjecture {triekosious}, "three
hundred," the number which he actually had according to PolyŠnus,
i. 21.

[68] {doruphoroi}, the usual word for a body-guard.

[69] {perielaunomenos de te stasi}: Stein says "harassed by attacks of
his own party," but the passage to which he refers in ch. 61,
{katallasseto ten ekhthren toisi stasiotesi}, may be referred to
in the quarrel made with his party by Megacles when he joined

[70] More literally, "since from ancient time the Hellenic race had
been marked off from the Barbarians as being more skilful and more
freed from foolish simplicity, (and) since at that time among the
Athenians, who are accounted the first of the Hellenes in ability,
these men devised a trick as follows."

[71] The cubit is reckoned as 24 finger-breadths, i.e. about 18

[72] So Rawlinson.

[73] See v. 70.

[74] {dia endekatou eteos}. Not quite the same as {dia evdeka eteon}
("after an interval of eleven years"); rather "in the eleventh
year" (i.e. "after an interval of ten years").

[75] {thein pompe khreomenos}.

[76] For {'Akarnan} it has been suggested to read {'Akharneus},
because this man is referred to as an Athenian by various writers.
However Acarnanians were celebrated for prophetic power, and he
might be called an Athenian as resident with Peisistratos at

[77] Or "for that part of the land from which the temple could be
seen," but cp. Thuc. iii. 104. In either case the meaning is the

[77a] {enomotias kai triekadas kai sussitia}. The {enomotia} was the
primary division of the Spartan army: of the {triekas} nothing is
known for certain.

[78] {kibdelo}, properly "counterfeit": cp. ch. 75.

[79] {skhoino diametresamenoi}: whether actually, for the purpose of
distributing the work among them, or because the rope which
fastened them together lay on the ground like a measuring-tape, is
left uncertain.

[80] Cp. ix. 70.

[81] {epitarrothos}. Elsewhere (that is in Homer) the word always
means "helper," and Stein translates it so here, "thou shalt be
protector and patron of Tegea" (in the place of Orestes). Mr.
Woods explains it by the parallel of such phrases as {Danaoisi
makhes epitarrothoi}, to mean "thou shalt be a helper (of the
Lacedemonians) in the matter of Tegea," but this perhaps would be
a form of address too personal to the envoy, who is usually
addressed in the second person, but only as representative of
those who sent him. The conjectural reading {epitarrothon exeis},
"thou shalt have him as a helper against Tegea," is tempting.

[82] {agathoergon}.

[83] This was to enable him the better to gain his ends at Tegea.

[84] Cp. ch. 51, note.

[85] See ch. 6.

[86] {euzono andri}: cp. ch. 104 and ii. 34. The word {euzonos} is
used of light-armed troops; Hesychius says, {euzonos, me ekhon

[87] {orgen ouk akros}: this is the reading of all the best MSS., and
it is sufficiently supported by the parallel of v. 124, {psukhen
ouk akros}. Most Editors however have adopted the reading {orgen
akros}, as equivalent to {akrakholos}, "quick-tempered."

[88] It has been suggested by some that this clause is not genuine. It
should not, however, be taken to refer to the battle which was
interrupted by the eclipse, for (1) that did not occur in the
period here spoken of; (2) the next clause is introduced by {de}
(which can hardly here stand for {gar}); (3) when the eclipse
occurred the fighting ceased, therefore it was no more a
{nuktomakhin} than any other battle which is interrupted by
darkness coming on.

[89] See ch. 188. /Nabunita/ was his true name.

[90] See ch. 107 ff.

[91] Not "somewhere near the city of Sinope," for it must have been at
a considerable distance and probably far inland. Sinope itself is
at least fifty miles to the west of the Halys. I take it to mean
that Pteria was nearly due south of Sinope, i.e. that the nearest
road from Pteria to the sea led to Sinope. Pteria no doubt was the
name of a region as well as of a city.

[92] {anastatous epoiese}.

[93] This is the son of the man mentioned in ch. 74.

[94] {us en autou xeinikos}. Stein translates "so much of it as was
mercenary," but it may be doubted if this is possible. Mr. Woods,
"which army of his was a foreign one."

[95] {Metros Dindumenes}, i.e. Kybele: the mountain is Dindymos in

[96] i.e. the whole strip of territory to the West of the peninsula of
Argolis, which includes Thyrea and extends southwards to Malea:
"westwards as far as Malea" would be absurd.

[97] {outos}: a conjectural emendation of {autos}.

[98] {autos}: some MSS. read {o autos}, "this same man."

[99] {aneneikamenon}, nearly equivalent to {anastemaxanta} (cp. Hom.
Il. xix. 314), {mnesamenos d' adinos aneneikato phonesen te}. Some
translate it here, "he recovered himself," cp. ch. 116,

[100] {ubristai}.

[101] {proesousi}: a conjectural emendation of {poiesousi}, adopted in
most of the modern editions.

[102] {touto oneidisai}: or {touton oneidisai}, "to reproach the god
with these things." The best MSS. have {touto}.

[103] {to kai . . . eipe ta eipe Loxias k.t.l.}: various emendations
have been proposed. If any one is to be adopted, the boldest would
perhaps be the best, {to de kai . . . eipe Loxias}.

[104] {oia te kai alle khore}, "such as other lands have."

[105] {stadioi ex kai duo plethra}.

[106] {plethra tria kai deka}.

[107] {Gugaie}.

[108] Or "Tyrrhenia."

[109] Or "Umbrians."

[110] {tes ano 'Asies}, i.e. the parts which are removed from the

[111] i.e. nature would not be likely to supply so many regularly
ascending circles. Stein alters the text so that the sentence runs
thus, "and whereas there are seven circles of all, within the last
is the royal palace," etc.

[112] i.e. "to laugh or to spit is unseemly for those in presence of
the king, and this last for all, whether in the presence of the
king or not." Cp. Xen. Cyrop. i. 2. 16, {aiskhron men gar eti kai
nun esti Persais kai to apoptuein kai to apomuttesthai}, (quoted
by Stein, who however gives a different interpretation).

[113] {tauta de peri eouton esemnune}: the translation given is that
of Mr. Woods.

[114] {allos mentoi eouton eu ekontes}: the translation is partly due
to Mr. Woods.

[115] i.e. East of the Halys: see note on ch. 95.

[116] See iv. 12.

[117] Cp. ch. 72.

[118] {ten katuperthe odon}, i.e. further away from the Euxine

[119] {o theos}.

[120] {khoris men gar phoron}: many Editors substitute {phoron} for
{phoron}, but {phoron} may stand if taken not with {khoris} but
with {to ekastoisi epeballon}.

[121] Cp. ch. 184, "the Assyrian history."

[122] {uperthemenos}, a conjectural emendation of {upothemenos}, cp.
ch. 108 where the MSS. give {uperthemenos}, (the Medicean with
{upo} written above as a correction).

[123] Or "expose me to risk," "stake my safety."

[124] Or "thou wilt suffer the most evil kind of death": cp. ch. 167.

[124a] {tas aggelias pherein}, i.e. to have the office of
{aggeliephoros} (ch. 120) or {esaggeleus} (iii. 84), the
chamberlain through whom communications passed.

[125] {dialabein}. So translated by Mr. Woods.

[126] {es tas anagkas}, "to the necessity," mentioned above.

[127] Or "to celebrate good fortune."

[128] {akreon kheiron te kai podon}: cp. ii. 121 (e), {apotamonta en
to omo ten kheira}.

[129] {esti te o pais kai periesti}. So translated by Mr. Woods.

[130] {erkhe}: a few inferior MSS. have {eikhe}, which is adopted by
several Editors.

[131] {para smikra . . . kekhoreke}, "have come out equal to trifles."

[132] {kuon}: cp. ch. 110.

[133] {su nun}, answering to {se gar theoi eporeousi}: the MSS. and
some Editors read {su nun}.

[134] i.e. of the race of Perses: see vii. 61.

[135] "how his change from a throne to slavery was as compared with
that feast, etc.," i.e. what did he think of it as a retribution.

[136] See ch. 106. The actual duration of the Median supremacy would
be therefore a hundred years.

[136a] This is by some altered to "Alilat," by comparison of iii. 8.

[137] {stemmasi}, i.e. the chaplets wound round with wool which were
worn at Hellenic sacrifices.

[138] {oulesi}.

[138a] Cp. vii. 61.

[139] {sitoisi}: perhaps "plain dishes."

[140] {proskuneei}, i.e. kisses his feet or the ground.

[141] {ton legomenon}, a correction of {to legomeno}. (The Medicean
MS. has {toi legomenoi} like the rest, not {toi legomeno}, as
stated by Stein.)

[142] {ekhomenon, kata ton auton de logon}: the MSS. and most Editors
have {ekhomenon}. {kata ton auton de logon}; "and this same rule
the Persians observe in giving honour." This, however, makes it
difficult (though not impossible) to refer {to ethnos} in the next
clause to the Medes, and it can hardly be referred to the
Persians, who certainly had not the same system of government.
Perhaps however we may translate thus, "for each race extended
forward thus their rule or their deputed authority."

[143] Cp. vii. 194.

[144] {polloi}: omitted, or corrected variously, by Editors. There is,
perhaps, something wrong about the text in the next clause also,
for it seems clear that white doves were not objected to by the
Persians. See Stein's note.

[145] See ch. 95.

[146] These words, "neither those towards the East nor those towards
the West" have perhaps been interpolated as an explanation of {ta
ano} and {ta kato}. As an explanation they can hardly be correct,
but the whole passage is vaguely expressed.

[147] {tropous tesseras paragogeon}.

[148] i.e. the Asiatic Ionians who had formed a separate confederacy.
Some understand it to mean the Milesians, but this would give no
satisfactory connection with what follows.

[149] {pentapolios}.

[150] {exapolios}.

[151] {mesogaioi}. Several of the other cities are at some distance
from the coast, but the region is meant in each case rather than
the city (hence such forms as {Tritaiees}.

[152] {'Elikonio}.

[153] This is condemned as an interpolation by some Editors.

[154] {oreon de ekousan ouk omoios}.

[155] {katastas}: cp. iii. 46.

[156] {ktesamenoi}: Stein reads {stesamenoi} by conjecture: cp. vi.

[157] {phrontizo me ariston e}. The translation is Rawlinson's.

[158] {kephale anamaxas}: cp. Hom. Od. xix. 92.

[159] {es tous Bragkhidas}, i.e. the priests of the temple. The name
of the place {Bragkhidai} is feminine, cp. ch. 92.

[160] {onax}, addressing Apollo.

[161] {exaipee tous strouthous k.t.l.} The verb is one which is
commonly used of the destruction and depopulation of cities, cp.
ch. 176. (Stein.)

[162] {tou de 'Atarneos toutou esti khoros tes Musies}.

[163] {ouk oligoi stadioi}.

[164] {katirosai}, i.e. dedicate it to the king as a token of

[165] i.e. Corsica.

[166] {anaphanenai}: the MSS. have {anaphenai}, which can only be
translated by supplying {ton ponton} from {katepontosan}, "till
the sea produced it again," but this is hardly satisfactory.

[167] {Karkhedonioi}.

[168] {elakhon te auton pollo pleious}. Several Editors suppose that
words have been lost or that the text is corrupt. I understand it
to mean that many more of them fell into the hands of the enemy
than were rescued by their own side. Some translate "divided most
of them by lot"; but this would be {dielakhon}, and the proceeding
would have no object if the prisoners were to be put to death at
once. For {pleious} Stein reads {pleistous}.

[169] {ton Kurnon . . . ktisai eron eonta, all' ou ten neson}.

[170] {bouleuterion}.

[171] {outoi}: the MSS. have {outo}.

[172] {autokhthonas epeirotas}.

[173] Many Editors insert {oi} before {tes khores tes spheteres} and
alter the punctuation accordingly.

[174] Or "all their land came within the isthmus."

[175] {epexiontes}: the MSS. have {upexiontes}, which Mr. Woods
explains to mean "coming forth suddenly."

[176] {epexelthontes}: the MSS. have {upexelthontes}.

[177] {stadion}, and so throughout.

[178] The "royal cubit" appears to have measured about twenty-one

[179] {tous agkhonas}, the walls on the North and South of the city,
called so because built at an angle with the side walls.

[180] {laurai}, "lanes."

[181] {kai autai}, but perhaps the text is not sound.

[182] {thorex}, as opposed to the inner wall, which would be the
{kithon} (cp. vii. 139).

[183] {steinoteron}: Mr. Woods says "of less thickness," the top of
the wall being regarded as a road.

[184] {duo stadion pante}, i.e. 404 yards square.

[185] {tou irou}, i.e. the sacred precincts; cp. {en to temenei

[186] {neos}, the inner house of the temple.

[187] {promantis}.

[188] {ta telea ton probaton}.

[189] "at that time."

[189a] {katapleontes ton Euphreten}: the MSS. have {katapleontes es
ton E}. (It is not true, as stated by Abicht, that the Medicean
MS. omits {es}.)

[190] {oligon ti parateinousa apo tou potamou}.

[191] {ou gar ameinon}, an Epic phrase, cp. iii. 71 and 82.

[192] {eskeuasmenos}, a conjectural emendation of {eskeuasmenoisi},
"with provisions well prepared."

[193] {kateteine skhoinoteneas upodexas diorukhas}. Stein understands
{kateteine ten stratien} (resumed afterwards by {diataxas}, "he
extended his army, having first marked out channels straight by

[194] {proesaxanto}, from {proesago}: it may be however from
{prosatto}, "they had heaped together provisions for themselves

[195] {ten stratien apasan}. Stein thinks that some correction is

[196] {oi d' an perudontes k.t.l.}: the MSS. have {oud' an
perudontes}, "they would not even have allowed them to enter the
city (from the river)," but the negative is awkward referring to
the participle alone, and the admission of the enemy to the river-
bed within the city would have been an essential part of the
scheme, not to be omitted in the description.

[197] The Attic /medimnos/ (= 48 /choinikes/) was rather less than 12

[198] {ton tes Demetros karpon}.

[199] Stein supposes that words have fallen out before {ta gar de alla
dendrea}, chiefly because some mention of the palm-trees might
have been expected here.

[200] {phoinikeious}: some Editors (following Valla) have altered this
to {phoinikeiou} ("casks of palm-wine"), but it is not likely that
palm-wine would have been thus imported, see ch. 193.

[201] {kai o men eso elkei to plektron o de exo otheei}. I take it to
mean that there is one steering-oar on each side, and the "inside"
is the side nearer to the bank of the river. The current would
naturally run faster on the "outside" and consequently would tend
to turn the boat round, and therefore the inside oarsman pulls his
oar constantly towards himself and the outside man pushes his oar
from himself (i.e. backs water), to keep the boat straight.
Various explanations are given. Stein takes {eso, exo} with the
verbs, "one draws the boat towards himself, the other pushes it
from himself." Mr. Woods understands that only one oar is used at
a time and by two men looking different ways, of whom {o men eso}
is he who stands nearest to the side of the boat.

[202] If the talents meant are Euboic, this would be about 170 tons.

[203] {mitresi}: cp. vii. 62.

[204] {os an ai parthenoi ginoiato}, equivalent to {osai aei parthenoi
ginoiato}, which Stein suggests as a correction.

[205] This sentence, "in order that--city," is thought by Stein to be
either interpolated or misplaced.

[206] {katestekee}: some Editors adopt the correction {katesteke}, "is

[207] {iron}, afterwards called {temenos}.

[208] {panta tropon odon}: some MSS. have {odon} for {odon}, and {odon
ekhousi} might perhaps mean "afford a passage." (The reading of
the Medicean MS. is {odon}.)

[209] "I call upon Mylitta against thee"; or perhaps, "I call upon
Mylitta to be favourable to thee."

[210] {aposiosamene te theo}.

[211] {eideos te epammenai eisi kai megatheos}.

[212] {patriai}.

[213] {antion}.

[214] That is perhaps, "if one rows as well as sails," using oars when
the wind is not favourable, cp. ii. 11.

[215] {genomene}, or {ginomene}, "which he met with."

[216] {eonta akharita}: most of the MSS. have {ta eonta akharita},
with which reading the sentence would be, "the sufferings which I
have, have proved bitter lessons of wisdom to me."

[217] {me eie}.

[218] {tou katharou stratou}, perhaps "the effective part," without
the encumbrances, cp. iv. 135.

[219] {alexomenous}.

[220] {sagaris nomizontes ekhein}: cp. iv. 5.

[221] {maskhalisteras}.

[222] {thuousi}.

[223] {nomos}: the conjecture {noos}, "meaning," which is adopted by
many Editors, may be right; but {nomos} seems to mean the
"customary rule" which determines this form of sacrifice, the rule
namely of "swift to the swift."



1. When Cyrus had brought his life to an end, Cambyses received the
royal power in succession, being the son of Cyrus and of Cassandane
the daughter of Pharnaspes, for whose death, which came about before
his own, Cyrus had made great mourning himself and also had proclaimed
to all those over whom he bore rule that they should make mourning for
her: Cambyses, I say, being the son of this woman and of Cyrus,
regarded the Ionians and Aiolians as slaves inherited from his father;
and he proceeded to march an army against Egypt, taking with him as
helpers not only the other nations of which he was the ruler, but also
those of the Hellenes over whom he had power besides.


2. Now the Egyptians, before the time when Psammetichos[1] became king
over them, were wont to suppose that they had come into being first of
all men; but since the time when Psammetichos having become king
desired to know what men had come into being first, they suppose that
the Phrygians came into being before themselves, but they themselves
before all other men. Now Psammetichos, when he was not able by
inquiry to find out any means of knowing who had come into being first
of all men, contrived a device of the following kind:--Taking two new-
born children belonging to persons of the common sort he gave them to
a shepherd to bring up at the place where his flocks were, with a
manner of bringing up such as I shall say, charging him namely that no
man should utter any word in their presence, and that they should be
placed by themselves in a room where none might come, and at the
proper time he should bring to them she-goats, and when he had
satisfied them with milk he should do for them whatever else was
needed. These things Psammetichos did and gave him this charge wishing
to hear what word the children would let break forth first, after they
had ceased from wailings without sense. And accordingly so it came to
pass; for after a space of two years had gone by, during which the
shepherd went on acting so, at length, when he opened the door and
entered, both the children fell before him in entreaty and uttered the
word /bekos/, stretching forth their hands. At first when he heard
this the shepherd kept silence; but since this word was often
repeated, as he visited them constantly and attended to them, at last
he declared the matter to his master, and at his command he brought
the children before his face. Then Psammetichos having himself also
heard it, began to inquire about what nation of men named anything
/bekos/, and inquiring he found that the Phrygians had this name for
bread. In this manner and guided by an indication such as this, the
Egyptians were brought to allow that the Phrygians were a more ancient
people than themselves. 3. That so it came to pass I heard from the
priests of that Hephaistos who dwells at Memphis;[2] but the Hellenes
relate, besides many other idle tales, that Psammetichos cut out the
tongues of certain women, and then caused the children to live with
these women.

With regard then to the rearing of the children they related so much
as I have said: and I heard also other things at Memphis when I had
speech with the priests of Hephaistos. Moreover I visited both Thebes
and Heliopolis[3] for this very cause, namely because I wished to know
whether the priests at these places would agree in their accounts with
those at Memphis; for the men of Heliopolis are said to be the most
learned in records of the Egyptians. Those of their narrations which I
heard with regard to the gods I am not earnest to relate in full, but
I shall name them only,[4] because I consider that all men are equally
ignorant of these matters:[5] and whatever things of them I may
record, I shall record only because I am compelled by the course of
the story. 4. But as to those matters which concern men, the priests
agreed with one another in saying that the Egyptians were the first of
all men on earth to find out the course of the year, having divided
the seasons into twelve parts to make up the whole; and this they said
they found out from the stars: and they reckon to this extent more
wisely than the Hellenes, as it seems to me, inasmuch as the Hellenes
throw in an intercalated month every other year, to make the seasons
right, whereas the Egyptians, reckoning the twelve months at thirty
days each, bring in also every year five days beyond the number, and
thus the circle of their seasons is completed and comes round to the
same point whence it set out. They said moreover that the Egyptians
were the first who brought into use appellations for the twelve gods
and the Hellenes took up the use from them; and that they were the
first who assigned altars and images and temples to the gods, and who
engraved figures on stones; and with regard to the greater number of
these things they showed me by actual facts that they had happened so.
They said also that the first man[6] who became king of Egypt was
Min;[7] and that in his time all Egypt except the district of
Thebes[8] was a swamp, and none of the regions were then above water
which now lie below the lake of Moiris, to which lake it is a voyage
of seven days up the river from the sea: 5, and I thought that they
said well about the land; for it is manifest in truth even to a person
who has not heard it beforehand but has only seen, at least if he have
understanding, that the Egypt to which the Hellenes come in ships is a
land which has been won by the Egyptians as an addition, and that it
is a gift of the river: moreover the regions which lie above this lake
also for a distance of three days' sail, about which they did not go
on to say anything of this kind, are nevertheless another instance of
the same thing: for the nature of the land of Egypt is as follows:--
First when you are still approaching it in a ship and are distant a
day's run from the land, if you let down a sounding-line you will
bring up mud and will find yourself in eleven fathoms. This then so
far shows that there is a silting forward of the land. 6. Then
secondly, as to Egypt itself, the extent of it along the sea is sixty
/schoines/, according to our definition of Egypt as extending from the
Gulf of Plinthine to the Serbonian lake, along which stretches Mount
Casion; from this lake then[9] the sixty /schoines/ are reckoned: for
those of men who are poor in land have their country measured by
fathoms, those who are less poor by furlongs, those who have much land
by parasangs, and those who have land in very great abundance by
/schoines/: now the parasang is equal to thirty furlongs, and each
/schoine/, which is an Egyptian measure, is equal to sixty furlongs.
So there would be an extent of three thousand six hundred furlongs for
the coast-land of Egypt.[10] 7. From thence and as far as Heliopolis
inland Egypt is broad, and the land is all flat and without springs of
water[11] and formed of mud: and the road as one goes inland from the
sea to Heliopolis is about the same in length as that which leads from
the altar of the twelve gods at Athens to Pisa and the temple of
Olympian Zeus: reckoning up you would find the difference very small
by which these roads fail of being equal in length, not more indeed
than fifteen furlongs; for the road from Athens to Pisa wants fifteen
furlongs of being fifteen hundred, while the road to Heliopolis from
the sea reaches that number completely. 8. From Heliopolis however, as
you go up, Egypt is narrow; for on the one side a mountain-range
belonging to Arabia stretches along by the side of it, going in a
direction from North towards the midday and the South Wind, tending
upwards without a break to that which is called the Erythraian Sea, in
which range are the stone-quarries which were used in cutting stone
for the pyramids at Memphis. On this side then the mountain ends where
I have said, and then takes a turn back;[12] and where it is widest,
as I was informed, it is a journey of two months across from East to
West; and the borders of it which turn towards the East are said to
produce frankincense. Such then is the nature of this mountain-range;
and on the side of Egypt towards Libya another range extends, rocky
and enveloped in sand: in this are the pyramids, and it runs in the
same direction as those parts of the Arabian mountains which go
towards the midday. So then, I say, from Heliopolis the land has no
longer a great extent so far as it belongs to Egypt,[13] and for about
four[14] days' sail up the river Egypt properly so called is narrow:
and the space between the mountain-ranges which have been mentioned is
plain-land, but where it is narrowest it did not seem to me to exceed
two hundred furlongs from the Arabian mountains to those which are
called the Libyan. After this again Egypt is broad. 9. Such is the
nature of this land: and from Heliopolis to Thebes is a voyage up the
river of nine days, and the distance of the journey in furlongs is
four thousand eight hundred and sixty, the number of the /schoines/
being eighty-one. If these measures of Egypt in furlongs be put
together the result is as follows:--I have already before this shown
that the distance along the sea amounts to three thousand six hundred
furlongs, and I will now declare what the distance is inland from the
sea to Thebes, namely six thousand one hundred and twenty furlongs:
and again the distance from Thebes to the city called Elephantine is
one thousand eight hundred furlongs.

10. Of this land then, concerning which I have spoken, it seemed to
myself also, according as the priests said, that the greater part had
been won as an addition by the Egyptians; for it was evident to me
that the space between the aforesaid mountain-ranges, which lie above
the city of Memphis, once was a gulf of the sea, like the regions
about Ilion and Teuthrania and Ephesos and the plain of the Maiander,
if it be permitted to compare small things with great; and small these
are in comparison, for of the rivers which heaped up the soil in those
regions none is worthy to be compared in volume with a single one of
the mouths of the Nile, which has five mouths.[15] Moreover there are
other rivers also, not in size at all equal to the Nile, which have
performed great feats; of which I can mention the names of several,
and especially the Achelo÷s, which flowing through Acarnania and so
issuing out into the sea has already made half of the Echinades from
islands into mainland. 11. Now there is in the land of Arabia, not far
from Egypt, a gulf of the sea running in from that which is called the
Erythraian Sea, very long and narrow, as I am about to tell. With
respect to the length of the voyage along it, one who set out from the
innermost point to sail out through it into the open sea, would spend
forty days upon the voyage, using oars;[16] and with respect to
breadth, where the gulf is broadest it is half a day's sail across:
and there is in it an ebb and flow of tide every day. Just such
another gulf I suppose that Egypt was, and that the one ran in towards
Ethiopia from the Northern Sea, and the other, the Arabian, of which I
am about to speak,[17] tended from the South towards Syria, the gulfs
boring in so as almost to meet at their extreme points, and passing by
one another with but a small space left between. If then the stream of
the Nile should turn aside into this Arabian gulf, what would hinder
that gulf from being filled up with silt as the river continued to
flow, at all events within a period of twenty thousand years? indeed
for my part I am of opinion that it would be filled up even within ten
thousand years. How, then, in[18] all the time that has elapsed before
I came into being should not a gulf be filled up even of much greater
size than this by a river so great and so active? 12. As regards Egypt
then, I both believe those who say that things are so, and for myself
also I am strongly of opinion that they are so; because I have
observed that Egypt runs out into the sea further than the adjoining
land, and that shells are found upon the mountains of it, and an
efflorescence of salt forms upon the surface, so that even the
pyramids are being eaten away by it, and moreover that of all the
mountains of Egypt, the range which lies above Memphis is the only one
which has sand: besides which I notice that Egypt resembles neither
the land of Arabia, which borders upon it, nor Libya, nor yet Syria
(for they are Syrians who dwell in the parts of Arabia lying along the
sea), but that it has soil which is black and easily breaks up,[19]
seeing that it is in truth mud and silt brought down from Ethiopia by
the river: but the soil of Libya, we know, is reddish in colour and
rather sandy, while that of Arabia and Syria is somewhat clayey and
rocky.[19a] 13. The priests also gave me a strong proof concerning
this land as follows, namely that in the reign of king Moiris,
whenever the river reached a height of at least eight cubits[20] it
watered Egypt below Memphis; and not yet nine hundred years had gone
by since the death of Moiris, when I heard these things from the
priests: now however, unless the river rises to sixteen cubits, or
fifteen at the least, it does not go over the land. I think too that
those Egyptians who dwell below the lake of Moiris and especially in
that region which is called the Delta, if that land continues to grow
in height according to this proportion and to increase similarly in
extent,[21] will suffer for all remaining time, from the Nile not
overflowing their land, that same thing which they themselves said
that the Hellenes would at some time suffer: for hearing that the
whole land of the Hellenes has rain and is not watered by rivers as
theirs is, they said that the Hellenes would at some time be
disappointed of a great hope and would suffer the ills of famine. This
saying means that if the god[22] shall not send them rain, but shall
allow drought to prevail for a long time, the Hellenes will be
destroyed by hunger; for they have in fact no other supply of water to
save them except from Zeus alone. 14. This has been rightly said by
the Egyptians with reference to the Hellenes: but now let me tell how
matters are with the Egyptians themselves in their turn. If, in
accordance with what I before said, their land below Memphis (for this
is that which is increasing) shall continue to increase in height
according to the same proportion as in past time, assuredly those
Egyptians who dwell here will suffer famine, if their land shall not
have rain nor the river be able to go over their fields. It is certain
however that now they gather in fruit from the earth with less labour
than any other men and also with less than the other Egyptians; for
they have no labour in breaking up furrows with a plough nor in hoeing
nor in any other of those labours which other men have about a crop;
but when the river has come up of itself and watered their fields and
after watering has left them again, then each man sows his own field
and turns into it swine, and when he has trodden the seed into the
ground by means of the swine, after that he waits for the harvest; and
when he has threshed the corn by means of the swine, then he gathers
it in.

15. If we desire to follow the opinions of the Ionians as regards
Egypt, who say that the Delta alone is Egypt, reckoning its sea-coast
to be from the watch-tower called of Perseus to the fish-curing houses
of Pelusion, a distance of forty /schoines/, and counting it to extend
inland as far as the city of Kercasoros, where the Nile divides and
runs to Pelusion and Canobos, while as for the rest of Egypt, they
assign it partly to Libya and partly to Arabia,--if, I say, we should
follow this account, we should thereby declare that in former times
the Egyptians had no land to live in; for, as we have seen, their
Delta at any rate is alluvial, and has appeared (so to speak) lately,
as the Egyptians themselves say and as my opinion is. If then at the
first there was no land for them to live in, why did they waste their
labour to prove that they had come into being before all other men?
They needed not to have made trial of the children to see what
language they would first utter. However I am not of opinion that the
Egyptians came into being at the same time as that which is called by
the Ionians the Delta, but that they existed always ever since the
human race came into being, and that as their land advanced forwards,
many of them were left in their first abodes and many came down
gradually to the lower parts. At least it is certain that in old times
Thebes had the name of Egypt, and of this[23] the circumference
measures six thousand one hundred and twenty furlongs. 16. If then we
judge aright of these matters, the opinion of the Ionians about Egypt
is not sound: but if the judgment of the Ionians is right, I declare
that neither the Hellenes nor the Ionians themselves know how to
reckon since they say that the whole earth is made up of three
divisions, Europe, Asia, and Libya: for they ought to count in
addition to these the Delta of Egypt, since it belongs neither to Asia
nor to Libya; for at least it cannot be the river Nile by this
reckoning which divides Asia from Libya,[24] but the Nile is cleft at
the point of this Delta so as to flow round it, and the result is that
this land would come between Asia and Libya.[25]

17. We dismiss then the opinion of the Ionians, and express a judgment
of our own in this matter also, that Egypt is all that land which is
inhabited by Egyptians, just as Kilikia is that which is inhabited by
Kilikians and Assyria that which is inhabited by Assyrians, and we
know of no boundary properly speaking between Asia and Libya except
the borders of Egypt. If however we shall adopt the opinion which is
commonly held by the Hellenes, we shall suppose that the whole of
Egypt, beginning from the Cataract[26] and the city of Elephantine, is
divided into two parts and that it thus partakes of both the names,
since one side will thus belong to Libya and the other to Asia; for
the Nile from the Cataract onwards flows to the sea cutting Egypt
through the midst; and as far as the city of Kercasoros the Nile flows
in one single stream, but from this city onwards it is parted into
three ways; and one, which is called the Pelusian mouth, turns towards
the East; the second of the ways goes towards the West, and this is
called the Canobic mouth; but that one of the ways which is straight
runs thus,--when the river in its course downwards comes to the point
of the Delta, then it cuts the Delta through the midst and so issues
out to the sea. In this we have[27] a portion of the water of the
river which is not the smallest nor the least famous, and it is called
the Sebennytic mouth. There are also two other mouths which part off
from the Sebennytic and go to the sea, and these are called, one the
Sa´tic, the other the Mendesian mouth. The Bolbitinitic and Bucolic
mouths, on the other hand, are not natural but made by digging. 18.
Moreover also the answer given by the Oracle of Ammon bears witness in
support of my opinion that Egypt is of the extent which I declare it
to be in my account; and of this answer I heard after I had formed my
own opinion about Egypt. For those of the city of Marea and of Apis,
dwelling in the parts of Egypt which border on Libya, being of opinion
themselves that they were Libyans and not Egyptians, and also being
burdened by the rules of religious service, because they desired not
to be debarred from the use of cows' flesh, sent to Ammon saying that
they had nought in common with the Egyptians, for they dwelt outside
the Delta and agreed with them in nothing; and they said they desired
that it might be lawful for them to eat everything without
distinction. The god however did not permit them to do so, but said
that that land which was Egypt which the Nile came over and watered,
and that those were Egyptians who dwelling below the city of
Elephantine drank of that river. Thus it was answered to them by the
Oracle about this: 19, and the Nile, when it is in flood, goes over
not only the Delta but also of the land which is called Libyan and of
that which is called Arabian sometimes as much as two days' journey on
each side, and at times even more than this or at times less.

As regards the nature of the river, neither from the priests nor yet
from any other man was I able to obtain any knowledge: and I was
desirous especially to learn from them about these matters, namely why
the Nile comes down increasing in volume from the summer solstice
onwards for a hundred days, and then, when it has reached the number
of these days, turns and goes back, failing in its stream, so that
through the whole winter season it continues to be low, and until the
summer solstice returns. Of none of these things was I able to receive
any account from the Egyptians, when I inquired of them what power the
Nile has whereby it is of a nature opposite to that of other rivers.
And I made inquiry, desiring to know both this which I say and also
why, unlike all other rivers, it does not give rise to any breezes
blowing from it. 20. However some of the Hellenes who desired to gain
distinction for cleverness have given an account of this water in
three different ways: two of these I do not think it worth while even
to speak of except only to indicate their nature; of which the one
says that the Etesian Winds are the cause that makes the river rise,
by preventing the Nile from flowing out into the sea. But often the
Etesian Winds fail and yet the Nile does the same work as it is wont
to do; and moreover, if these were the cause, all the other rivers
also which flow in a direction opposed to the Etesian Winds ought to
have been affected in the same way as the Nile, and even more, in as
much as they are smaller and present to them a feebler flow of stream:
but there are many of these rivers in Syria and many also in Libya,
and they are affected in no such manner as the Nile. 21. The second
way shows more ignorance than that which has been mentioned, and it is
more marvellous to tell;[28] for it says that the river produces these
effects because it flows from the Ocean, and that the Ocean flows
round the whole earth. 22. The third of the ways is much the most
specious, but nevertheless it is the most mistaken of all: for indeed
this way has no more truth in it than the rest, alleging as it does
that the Nile flows from melting snow; whereas it flows out of Libya
through the midst of the Ethiopians, and so comes out into Egypt. How
then should it flow from snow, when it flows from the hottest parts to
those which are cooler? And indeed most of the facts are such as to
convince a man (one at least who is capable of reasoning about such
matters), that it is not at all likely that it flows from snow.[29]
The first and greatest evidence is afforded by the winds, which blow
hot from these regions; the second is that the land is rainless always
and without frost, whereas after snow has fallen rain must necessarily
come within five days, so that if it snowed in those parts rain would
fall there; the third evidence is afforded by the people dwelling
there, who are of a black colour by reason of the burning heat.
Moreover kites and swallows remain there through the year and do not
leave the land; and cranes flying from the cold weather which comes on
in the region of Scythia come regularly to these parts for wintering:
if then it snowed ever so little in that land through which the Nile
flows and in which it has its rise, none of these things would take
place, as necessity compels us to admit. 23. As for him who talked
about the Ocean, he carried his tale into the region of the unknown,
and so he need not be refuted;[30] since I for my part know of no
river Ocean existing, but I think that Homer or one of the poets who
were before him invented the name and introduced it into his verse.

24. If however after I have found fault with the opinions proposed, I
am bound to declare an opinion of my own about the matters which are
in doubt, I will tell what to my mind is the reason why the Nile
increases in the summer. In the winter season the Sun, being driven
away from his former path through the heaven[31] by the stormy winds,
comes to the upper parts of Libya. If one would set forth the matter
in the shortest way, all has now been said; for whatever region this
god approaches most and stands directly above, this it may reasonably
be supposed is most in want of water, and its native streams of rivers
are dried up most. 25. However, to set it forth at greater length,
thus it is:--the Sun passing in his course by the upper parts of
Libya, does thus, that is to say, since at all times the air in those
parts is clear and the country is warm, because there are no cold
winds,[32] in passing through it the Sun does just as he was wont to
do in the summer, when going through the midst of the heaven, that is
he draws to himself the water, and having drawn it he drives it away
to the upper parts of the country, and the winds take it up and
scattering it abroad melt it into rain; so it is natural that the
winds which blow from this region, namely the South and South-west
Winds, should be much the most rainy of all the winds. I think however
that the Sun does not send away from himself all the water of the Nile
of each year, but that he also lets some remain behind with himself.
Then when the winter becomes milder, the Sun returns back again to the
midst of the heaven, and from that time onwards he draws equally from
all rivers; but in the meanwhile they flow in large volume, since
water of rain mingles with them in great quantity, because their
country receives rain then and is filled with torrent streams. In
summer however they are weak, since not only the showers of rain fail
then, but also they are drawn by the Sun. The Nile however, alone of
all rivers, not having rain and being drawn by the Sun, naturally
flows during this time of winter in much less than its proper volume,
that is much less than in summer;[33] for then it is drawn equally
with all the other waters, but in winter it bears the burden alone.
Thus I suppose the Sun to be the cause of these things. 26. He is also
the cause in my opinion that the air in these parts is dry, since he
makes it so by scorching up his path through the heaven:[34] thus
summer prevails always in the upper parts of Libya. If however the
station of the seasons had been changed, and where now in the heaven
are placed the North Wind and winter, there was the station of the
South Wind and of the midday, and where now is placed the South Wind,
there was the North, if this had been so, the Sun being driven from
the midst of the heaven by the winter and the North Wind would go to
the upper parts of Europe, just as now he comes to the upper parts of
Libya, and passing in his course throughout the whole of Europe I
suppose that he would do to the Ister that which he now works upon the
Nile. 27. As to the breeze, why none blows from the river, my opinion
is that from very hot places it is not natural that anything should
blow, and that a breeze is wont to blow from something cold.

28. Let these matters then be as they are and as they were at the
first: but as to the sources of the Nile, not one either of the
Egyptians or of the Libyans or of the Hellenes, who came to speech
with me, professed to know anything, except the scribe of the sacred
treasury of Athene at the city of Sa´s in Egypt. To me however this
man seemed not to be speaking seriously when he said that he had
certain knowledge of it; and he said as follows, namely that there
were two mountains of which the tops ran up to a sharp point, situated
between the city of Syene, which is in the district of Thebes, and
Elephantine, and the names of the mountains were, of the one Crophi
and of the other Mophi. From the middle between these two mountains
flowed (he said) the sources of the Nile, which were fathomless in
depth, and half of the water flowed to Egypt and towards the North
Wind, the other half to Ethiopia and the South Wind. As for the
fathomless depth of the source, he said that Psammetichos king of
Egypt came to a trial of this matter; for he had a rope twisted of
many thousands of fathoms and let it down in this place, and it found
no bottom. By this the scribe (if this which he told me was really as
he said) gave me to understand[35] that there were certain strong
eddies there and a backward flow, and that since the water dashed
against the mountains, therefore the sounding-line could not come to
any bottom when it was let down. 29. From no other person was I able
to learn anything about this matter; but for the rest I learnt so much
as here follows by the most diligent inquiry;[36] for I went myself as
an eye-witness as far as the city of Elephantine and from that point
onwards I gathered knowledge by report. From the city of Elephantine
as one goes up the river there is country which slopes steeply; so
that here one must attach ropes to the vessel on both sides, as one
fastens an ox, and so make one's way onward; and if the rope break,
the vessel is gone at once, carried away by the violence of the
stream. Through this country it is a voyage of about four days in
length, and in this part the Nile is winding like the river Maiander,
and the distance amounts to twelve /schoines/, which one must traverse
in this manner. Then you will come to a level plain, in which the Nile
flows round an island named Tachompso. (Now in the regions above
Elephantine there dwell Ethiopians at once succeeding, who also occupy
half of the island,[37] and Egyptians the other half.) Adjoining this
island there is a great lake, round which dwell Ethiopian nomad
tribes; and when you have sailed through this you will come to the
stream of the Nile again, which flows into this lake. After this you
will disembark and make a journey by land of forty days; for in the
Nile sharp rocks stand forth out of the water, and there are many
reefs, by which it is not possible for a vessel to pass. Then after
having passed through this country in the forty days which I have
said, you will embark again in another vessel and sail for twelve
days; and after this you will come to a great city called Meroe. This
city is said to be the mother-city of all the other Ethiopians: and
they who dwell in it reverence of the gods Zeus and Dionysos alone,
and these they greatly honour; and they have an Oracle of Zeus
established, and make warlike marches whensoever this god commands
them by prophesyings and to whatsoever place he commands. 30. Sailing
from this city you will come to the "Deserters" in another period of
time equal to that in which you came from Elephantine to the mother-
city of the Ethiopians. Now the name of these "Deserters" is /Asmach/,
and this word signifies, when translated into the tongue of the
Hellenes, "those who stand on the left hand of the king." These were
two hundred and forty thousand Egyptians of the warrior class, who
revolted and went over to the Ethiopians for the following cause:--In
the reign of Psammetichos garrisons were set, one towards the
Ethiopians at the city of Elephantine, another towards the Arabians
and Assyrians at Daphnai of Pelusion, and another towards Libya at
Marea: and even in my own time the garrisons of the Persians too are
ordered in the same manner as these were in the reign of Psammetichos,
for both at Elephantine and at Daphnai the Persians have outposts. The
Egyptians then of whom I speak had served as outposts for three years
and no one relieved them from their guard; accordingly they took
counsel together, and adopting a common plan they all in a body
revolted from Psammetichos and set out for Ethiopia. Hearing this
Psammetichos set forth in pursuit, and when he came up with them he
entreated them much and endeavoured to persuade them not to desert the
gods of their country and their children and wives: upon which it is
said that one of them pointed to his privy member and said that
wherever this was, there would they have both children and wives. When
these came to Ethiopia they gave themselves over to the king of the
Ethiopians; and he rewarded them as follows:--there were certain of
the Ethiopians who had come to be at variance with him; and he bade
them drive these out and dwell in their land. So since these men
settled in the land of the Ethiopians, the Ethiopians have come to be
of milder manners, from having learnt the customs of the Egyptians.

31. The Nile then, besides that part of its course which is in Egypt,
is known as far as a four months' journey by river and land: for that
is the number of months which are found by reckoning to be spent in
going from Elephantine to these "Deserters": and the river runs from
the West and the setting of the sun. But what comes after that no one
can clearly say; for this land is desert by reason of the burning
heat. 32. Thus much however I heard from men of Kyrene, who told me
that they had been to the Oracle of Ammon, and had come to speech with
Etearchos king of the Ammonians: and it happened that after speaking
of other matters they fell to discourse about the Nile and how no one
knew the sources of it; and Etearchos said that once there had come to
him men of the Nasamonians (this is a Libyan race which dwells in the
Syrtis, and also in the land to the East of the Syrtis reaching to no
great distance), and when the Nasamonians came and were asked by him
whether they were able to tell him anything more than he knew about
the desert parts of Libya, they said that there had been among them
certain sons of chief men, who were of unruly disposition; and these
when they grew up to be men had devised various other extravagant
things and also they had told off by lot five of themselves to go to
see the desert parts of Libya and to try whether they could discover
more than those who had previously explored furthest: for in those
parts of Libya which are by the Northern Sea, beginning from Egypt and
going as far as the headland of Soloeis, which is the extreme point of
Libya, Libyans (and of them many races) extend along the whole coast,
except so much as the Hellenes and Phenicians hold; but in the upper
parts, which lie above the sea-coast and above those people whose land
comes down to the sea, Libya is full of wild beasts; and in the parts
above the land of wild beasts it is full of sand, terribly waterless
and utterly desert. These young men then (said they), being sent out
by their companions well furnished with supplies of water and
provisions, went first through the inhabited country, and after they
had passed through this they came to the country of wild beasts, and
after this they passed through the desert, making their journey
towards the West Wind; and having passed through a great tract of sand
in many days, they saw at last trees growing in a level place; and
having come up to them, they were beginning to pluck the fruit which
was upon the trees: but as they began to pluck it, there came upon
them small men, of less stature than men of the common size, and these
seized them and carried them away; and neither could the Nasamonians
understand anything of their speech nor could those who were carrying
them off understand anything of the speech of the Nasamonians: and
they led them (so it was said) through very great swamps, and after
passing through these they came to a city in which all the men were in
size like those who carried them off and in colour of skin black; and
by the city ran a great river, which ran from the West towards the
sunrising, and in it were seen crocodiles. 33. Of the account given by
Etearchos the Ammonian let so much suffice as is here said, except
that, as the men of Kyrene told me, he alleged that the Nasamonians
returned safe home, and that the people to whom they had come were all
wizards. Now this river which ran by the city, Etearchos conjectured
to be the Nile, and moreover reason compels us to think so; for the
Nile flows from Libya and cuts Libya through in the midst, and as I
conjecture, judging of what is not known by that which is evident to
the view, it starts at a distance from its mouth equal to that of the
Ister: for the river Ister begins from the Keltoi and the city of
Pyrene and so runs that it divides Europe in the midst (now the Keltoi
are outside the Pillars of Heracles and border upon the Kynesians, who
dwell furthest towards the sunset of all those who have their dwelling
in Europe); and the Ister ends, having its course through the whole of
Europe, by flowing into the Euxine Sea at the place where the
Milesians have their settlement of Istria. 34. Now the Ister, since it
flows through land which is inhabited, is known by the reports of
many; but of the sources of the Nile no one can give an account, for
the part of Libya through which it flows is uninhabited and desert.
About its course however so much as it was possible to learn by the
most diligent inquiry has been told; and it runs out into Egypt. Now
Egypt lies nearly opposite to the mountain districts of Kilikia; and
from thence to Sinope, which lies upon the Euxine Sea, is a journey in
the same straight line of five days for a man without
encumbrance;[37a] and Sinope lies opposite to the place where the
Ister runs out into the sea: thus I think that the Nile passes through
the whole of Libya and is of equal measure with the Ister.


Of the Nile then let so much suffice as has been said. 35. Of Egypt
however I shall make my report at length, because it has wonders more
in number than any other land, and works too it has to show as much as
any land, which are beyond expression great: for this reason then more
shall be said concerning it.

The Egyptians in agreement with their climate, which is unlike any
other, and with the river, which shows a nature different from all
other rivers, established for themselves manners and customs in a way
opposite to other men in almost all matters: for among them the women
frequent the market and carry on trade, while the men remain at home
and weave; and whereas others weave pushing the woof upwards, the
Egyptians push it downwards: the men carry their burdens upon their
heads and the women upon their shoulders: the women make water
standing up and the men crouching down: they ease themselves in their
houses and they eat without in the streets, alleging as reason for
this that it is right to do secretly the things that are unseemly
though necessary, but those which are not unseemly, in public: no
woman is a minister either of male or female divinity, but men of all,
both male and female: to support their parents the sons are in no way
compelled, if they do not desire to do so, but the daughters are
forced to do so, be they never so unwilling. 36. The priests of the
gods in other lands wear long hair, but in Egypt they shave their
heads: among other men the custom is that in mourning those whom the
matter concerns most nearly have their hair cut short, but the
Egyptians, when deaths occur, let their hair grow long, both that on
the head and that on the chin, having before been close shaven: other
men have their daily living separated from beasts, but the Egyptians
have theirs together with beasts: other men live on wheat and barley,
but to any one of the Egyptians who makes his living on these it is a
great reproach; they make their bread of maize,[38] which some call
spelt;[39] they knead dough with their feet and clay with their hands,
with which also they gather up dung: and whereas other men, except
such as have learnt otherwise from the Egyptians, have their members
as nature made them, the Egyptians practise circumcision: as to
garments, the men wear two each and the women but one: and whereas
others make fast the rings and ropes of the sails outside the ship,
the Egyptians do this inside: finally in the writing of characters and
reckoning with pebbles, while the Hellenes carry the hand from the
left to the right, the Egyptians do this from the right to the left;
and doing so they say that they do it themselves rightwise and the
Hellenes leftwise: and they use two kinds of characters for writing,
of which the one kind is called sacred and the other common.[40]

37. They are religious excessively beyond all other men, and with
regard to this they have customs as follows:--they drink from cups of
bronze and rinse them out every day, and not some only do this but
all: they wear garments of linen always newly washed, and this they
make a special point of practice: they circumcise themselves for the
sake of cleanliness, preferring to be clean rather than comely. The
priests shave themselves all over their body every other day, so that
no lice or any other foul thing may come to be upon them when they
minister to the gods; and the priests wear garments of linen only and
sandals of papyrus, and any other garment they may not take nor other
sandals; these wash themselves in cold water twice in the day and
twice again in the night; and other religious services they perform
(one may almost say) of infinite number.[41] They enjoy also good
things not a few, for they do not consume or spend anything of their
own substance, but there is sacred bread baked for them and they have
each great quantity of flesh of oxen and geese coming in to them each
day, and also wine of grapes is given to them; but it is not permitted
to them to taste of fish: beans moreover the Egyptians do not at all
sow in their land, and those which grow they neither eat raw nor boil
for food; nay the priests do not endure even to look upon them,
thinking this to be an unclean kind of pulse: and there is not one
priest only for each of the gods but many, and of them one is chief-
priest, and whenever a priest dies his son is appointed to his place.

38. The males of the ox kind they consider to belong to Epaphos, and
on account of him they test them in the following manner:--If the
priest sees one single black hair upon the beast he counts it not
clean for sacrifice; and one of the priests who is appointed for the
purpose makes investigation of these matters, both when the beast is
standing upright and when it is lying on its back, drawing out its
tongue moreover, to see if it is clean in respect of the appointed
signs, which I shall tell of in another part of the history:[42] he
looks also at the hairs of the tail to see if it has them growing in
the natural manner: and if it be clean in respect of all these things,
he marks it with a piece of papyrus, rolling this round the horns, and
then when he has plastered sealing-earth over it he sets upon it the
seal of his signet-ring, and after that they take the animal away. But
for one who sacrifices a beast not sealed the penalty appointed is
death. 39. In this way then the beast is tested; and their appointed
manner of sacrifice is as follows:--they lead the sealed beast to the
altar where they happen to be sacrificing and then kindle a fire:
after that, having poured libations of wine over the altar so that it
runs down upon the victim and having called upon the god, they cut its
throat, and having cut its throat they sever the head from the body.
The body then of the beast they flay, but upon the head[43] they make
many imprecations first, and then they who have a market and Hellenes
sojourning among them for trade, these carry it to the market-place
and sell it, while they who have no Hellenes among them cast it away
into the river: and this is the form of imprecation which they utter
upon the heads, praying that if any evil be about to befall either
themselves who are offering sacrifice or the land of Egypt in general,
it may come rather upon this head. Now as regards the heads of the
beasts which are sacrificed and the pouring over them of the wine, all
the Egyptians have the same customs equally for all their sacrifices;
and by reason of this custom none of the Egyptians eat of the head
either of this or of any other kind of animal: 40, but the manner of
disembowelling the victims and of burning them is appointed among them
differently for different sacrifices; I shall speak however of the
sacrifices to that goddess whom they regard as the greatest of all,
and to whom they celebrate the greatest feast.--When they have flayed
the bullock and made imprecation, they take out the whole of its lower
entrails but leave in the body the upper entrails and the fat; and
they sever from it the legs and the end of the loin and the shoulders
and the neck: and this done, they fill the rest of the body of the
animal with consecrated[44] loaves and honey and raisins and figs and
frankincense and myrrh and every other kind of spices, and having
filled it with these they offer it, pouring over it great abundance of
oil. They make their sacrifice after fasting, and while the offerings
are being burnt, they all beat themselves for mourning, and when they
have finished beating themselves they set forth as a feast that which
they left unburnt of the sacrifice. 41. The clean males then of the ox
kind, both full-grown animals and calves, are sacrificed by all the
Egyptians; the females however they may not sacrifice, but these are
sacred to Isis; for the figure of Isis is in the form of a woman with
cow's horns, just as the Hellenes present Io in pictures, and all the
Egyptians without distinction reverence cows far more than any other
kind of cattle; for which reason neither man nor woman of Egyptian
race would kiss a man who is a Hellene on the mouth, nor will they use
a knife or roasting-spits or a caldron belonging to a Hellene, nor
taste of the flesh even of a clean animal if it has been cut with the
knife of a Hellene. And the cattle of this kind which die they bury in
the following manner:--the females they cast into the river, but the
males they bury, each people in the suburb of their town, with one of
the horns, or sometimes both, protruding to mark the place; and when
the bodies have rotted away and the appointed time comes on, then to
each city comes a boat[45] from that which is called the island of
Prosopitis (this is in the Delta, and the extent of its circuit is
nine /schoines/). In this island of Prosopitis is situated, besides
many other cities, that one from which the boats come to take up the
bones of the oxen, and the name of the city is Atarbechis, and in it
there is set up a holy temple of Aphrodite. From this city many go
abroad in various directions, some to one city and others to another,
and when they have dug up the bones of the oxen they carry them off,
and coming together they bury them in one single place. In the same
manner as they bury the oxen they bury also their other cattle when
they die; for about them also they have the same law laid down, and
these also they abstain from killing.

42. Now all who have a temple set up to the Theban Zeus or who are of
the district of Thebes, these, I say, all sacrifice goats and abstain
from sheep: for not all the Egyptians equally reverence the same gods,
except only Isis and Osiris (who they say is Dionysos), these they all
reverence alike: but they who have a temple of Mendes or belong to the
Mendesian district, these abstain from goats and sacrifice sheep. Now
the men of Thebes and those who after their example abstain from
sheep, say that this custom was established among them for the cause
which follows:--Heracles (they say) had an earnest desire to see Zeus,
and Zeus did not desire to be seen of him; and at last when Heracles
was urgent in entreaty Zeus contrived this device, that is to say, he
flayed a ram and held in front of him the head of the ram which he had
cut off, and he put on over him the fleece and then showed himself to
him. Hence the Egyptians make the image of Zeus into the face of a
ram; and the Ammonians do so also after their example, being settlers
both from the Egyptians and from the Ethiopians, and using a language
which is a medley of both tongues: and in my opinion it is from this
god that the Ammonians took the name which they have, for the
Egyptians call Zeus /Amun/. The Thebans then do not sacrifice rams but
hold them sacred for this reason; on one day however in the year, on
the feast of Zeus, they cut up in the same manner and flay one single
ram and cover with its skin the image of Zeus, and then they bring up
to it another image of Heracles. This done, all who are in the temple
beat themselves in lamentation for the ram, and then they bury it in a
sacred tomb.

43. About Heracles I heard the account given that he was of the number
of the twelve gods; but of the other Heracles whom the Hellenes know I
was not able to hear in any part of Egypt: and moreover to prove that
the Egyptians did not take the name of Heracles from the Hellenes, but
rather the Hellenes from the Egyptians,--that is to say those of the
Hellenes who gave the name Heracles to the son of Amphitryon,--of
that, I say, besides many other evidences there is chiefly this,
namely that the parents of this Heracles, Amphitryon and Alcmene, were
both of Egypt by descent,[46] and also that the Egyptians say that
they do not know the names either of Poseidon or of the Dioscuroi, nor
have these been accepted by them as gods among the other gods; whereas
if they had received from the Hellenes the name of any divinity, they
would naturally have preserved the memory of these most of all,
assuming that in those times as now some of the Hellenes were wont to
make voyages[46a] and were sea-faring folk, as I suppose and as my
judgment compels me to think; so that the Egyptians would have learnt
the names of these gods even more than that of Heracles. In fact
however Heracles is a very ancient Egyptian god; and (as they say
themselves) it is seventeen thousand years to the beginning of the
reign of Amasis from the time when the twelve gods, of whom they count
that Heracles is one, were begotten of the eight gods. 44. I moreover,
desiring to know something certain of these matters so far as might
be, made a voyage also to Tyre of Phenicia, hearing that in that place
there was a holy temple of Heracles; and I saw that it was richly
furnished with many votive offerings besides, and especially there
were in it two pillars,[47] the one of pure gold and the other of an
emerald stone of such size as to shine by night:[48] and having come
to speech with the priests of the god, I asked them how long time it
was since their temple had been set up: and these also I found to be
at variance with the Hellenes, for they said that at the same time
when Tyre was founded, the temple of the god also had been set up, and
that it was a period of two thousand three hundred years since their
people began to dwell at Tyre. I saw also at Tyre another temple of
Heracles, with the surname Thasian; and I came to Thasos also and
there I found a temple of Heracles set up by the Phenicians, who had
sailed out to seek for Europa and had colonised Thasos; and these
things happened full five generations of men before Heracles the son
of Amphitryon was born in Hellas. So then my inquiries show clearly
that Heracles is an ancient god, and those of the Hellenes seem to me
to act most rightly who have two temples of Heracles set up, and who
sacrifice to the one as an immortal god and with the title Olympian,
and make offerings of the dead[49] to the other as a hero. 45.
Moreover, besides many other stories which the Hellenes tell without
due consideration, this tale is especially foolish which they tell
about Heracles, namely that when he came to Egypt, the Egyptians put
on him wreaths and led him forth in procession to sacrifice him to
Zeus; and he for some time kept quiet, but when they were beginning
the sacrifice of him at the altar, he betook himself to prowess and
slew them all. I for my part am of opinion that the Hellenes when they
tell this tale are altogether without knowledge of the nature and
customs of the Egyptians; for how should they for whom it is not
lawful to sacrifice even beasts, except swine[50] and the males of
oxen and calves (such of them as are clean) and geese, how should
these sacrifice human beings? Besides this, how is it in nature
possible that Heracles, being one person only and moreover a man (as
they assert), should slay many myriads? Having said so much of these
matters, we pray that we may have grace from both the gods and the
heroes for our speech.

46. Now the reason why those of the Egyptians whom I have mentioned do
not sacrifice goats, female or male, is this:--the Mendesians count
Pan to be one of the eight gods (now these eight gods they say came
into being before the twelve gods), and the painters and image-makers
represent in painting and in sculpture the figure of Pan, just as the
Hellenes do, with goat's face and legs, not supposing him to be really
like this but to resemble the other gods; the cause however why they
represent him in this form I prefer not to say. The Mendesians then
reverence all goats and the males more than the females (and the
goatherds too have greater honour than other herdsmen), but of the
goats one especially is reverenced, and when he dies there is great
mourning in all the Mendesian district: and both the goat and Pan are
called in the Egyptian tongue /Mendes/. Moreover in my lifetime there
happened in that district this marvel, that is to say a he-goat had
intercourse with a woman publicly, and this was so done that all men
might have evidence of it.

47. The pig is accounted by the Egyptians an abominable animal; and
first, if any of them in passing by touch a pig, he goes into the
river and dips himself forthwith in the water together with his
garments; and then too swineherds, though they be native Egyptians,
unlike all others do not enter any of the temples in Egypt, nor is
anyone willing to give his daughter in marriage to one of them or to
take a wife from among them; but the swineherds both give in marriage
to one another and take from one another. Now to the other gods the
Egyptians do not think it right to sacrifice swine; but to the Moon
and to Dionysos alone at the same time and on the same full-moon they
sacrifice swine, and then eat their flesh: and as to the reason why,
when they abominate swine at all their other feasts, they sacrifice
them at this, there is a story told by the Egyptians; and this story I
know, but it is not a seemly one for me to tell. Now the sacrifice of
the swine to the Moon is performed as follows:--when the priest has
slain the victim, he puts together the end of the tail and the spleen
and the caul, and covers them up with the whole of the fat of the
animal which is about the paunch, and then he offers them with fire;
and the rest of the flesh they eat on that day of full moon upon which
they have held the sacrifice, but on any day after this they will not
taste of it: the poor however among them by reason of the scantiness
of their means shape pigs of dough and having baked them they offer
these as a sacrifice. 48. Then for Dionysos on the eve of the festival
each one kills a pig by cutting its throat before his own doors, and
after that he gives the pig to the swineherd who sold it to him, to
carry away again; and the rest of the feast of Dionysos is celebrated
by the Egyptians in the same way as by the Hellenes in almost all
things except choral dances, but instead of the /phallos/ they have
invented another contrivance, namely figures of about a cubit in
height worked by strings, which women carry about the villages, with
the privy member made to move and not much less in size than the rest
of the body: and a flute goes before and they follow singing the
praises of Dionysos. As to the reason why the figure has this member
larger than is natural and moves it, though it moves no other part of
the body, about this there is a sacred story told. 49. Now I think
that Melampus the son of Amytheon was not without knowledge of these
rites of sacrifice, but was acquainted with them: for Melampus is he
who first set forth to the Hellenes the name of Dionysos and the
manner of sacrifice and the procession of the /phallos/. Strictly
speaking indeed, he when he made it known did not take in the whole,
but those wise men who came after him made it known more at large.
Melampus then is he who taught of the /phallos/ which is carried in
procession for Dionysos, and from him the Hellenes learnt to do that
which they do. I say then that Melampus being a man of ability
contrived for himself an art of divination, and having learnt from
Egypt he taught the Hellenes many things, and among them those that
concern Dionysos, making changes in some few points of them: for I
shall not say that that which is done in worship of the god in Egypt
came accidentally to be the same with that which is done among the
Hellenes, for then these rites would have been in character with the
Hellenic worship and not lately brought in; nor certainly shall I say
that the Egyptians took from the Hellenes either this or any other
customary observance: but I think it most probable that Melampus
learnt the matters concerning Dionysos from Cadmos the Tyrian and from
those who came with him from Phenicia to the land which we now call

50. Moreover the naming[51] of almost all the gods has come to Hellas
from Egypt: for that it has come from the Barbarians I find by inquiry
is true, and I am of opinion that most probably it has come from
Egypt, because, except in the case of Poseidon and the Dioscuroi (in
accordance with that which I have said before), and also of Hera and
Hestia and Themis and the Charites and Nere´ds, the Egyptians have had
the names of all the other gods in their country for all time. What I
say here is that which the Egyptians think themselves: but as for the
gods whose names they profess that they do not know, these I think
received their naming from the Pelasgians, except Poseidon; but about
this god the Hellenes learnt from the Libyans, for no people except
the Libyans have had the name of Poseidon from the first and have paid
honour to this god always. Nor, it may be added, have the Egyptians
any custom of worshipping heroes. 51. These observances then, and
others besides these which I shall mention, the Hellenes have adopted
from the Egyptians; but to make, as they do, the images of Hermes with
the /phallos/ they have learnt not from the Egyptians but from the
Pelasgians, the custom having been received by the Athenians first of
all the Hellenes and from these by the rest; for just at the time when
the Athenians were beginning to rank among the Hellenes, the
Pelasgians became dwellers with them in their land, and from this very
cause it was that they began to be counted as Hellenes. Whosoever has
been initiated in the mysteries of the Cabeiroi, which the
Samothrakians perform having received them from the Pelasgians, that
man knows the meaning of my speech; for these very Pelasgians who
became dwellers with the Athenians used to dwell before that time in
Samothrake, and from them the Samothrakians received their mysteries.
So then the Athenians were the first of the Hellenes who made the
images of Hermes with the /phallos/, having learnt from the
Pelasgians; and the Pelasgians told a sacred story about it, which is
set forth in the mysteries in Samothrake. 52. Now the Pelasgians
formerly were wont to make all their sacrifices calling upon the gods
in prayer, as I know from that which I heard at Dodona, but they gave
no title or name to any of them, for they had not yet heard any, but
they called them gods ({theous}) from some such notion as this, that
they had set ({thentes}) in order all things and so had the
distribution of everything. Afterwards, when much time had elapsed,
they learnt from Egypt the names of the gods, all except Dionysos, for
his name they learnt long afterwards; and after a time the Pelasgians
consulted the Oracle at Dodona about the names, for this prophetic
seat is accounted to be the most ancient of the Oracles which are
among the Hellenes, and at that time it was the only one. So when the
Pelasgians asked the Oracle at Dodona whether they should adopt the
names which had come from the Barbarians, the Oracle in reply bade
them make use of the names. From this time they sacrificed using the
names of the gods, and from the Pelasgians the Hellenes afterwards
received them: 53, but whence the several gods had their birth, or
whether they all were from the beginning, and of what form they are,
they did not learn till yesterday, as it were, or the day before: for
Hesiod and Homer I suppose were four hundred years before my time and
not more, and these are they who made a theogony for the Hellenes and
gave the titles to the gods and distributed to them honours and arts,
and set forth their forms: but the poets who are said to have been
before these men were really in my opinion after them. Of these things
the first are said by the priestesses of Dodona, and the latter
things, those namely which have regard to Hesiod and Homer, by myself.

54. As regards the Oracles both that among the Hellenes and that in
Libya, the Egyptians tell the following tale. The priests of the
Theban Zeus told me that two women in the service of the temple had
been carried away from Thebes by Phenicians, and that they had heard
that one of them had been sold to go into Libya and the other to the
Hellenes; and these women, they said, were they who first founded the
prophetic seats among the nations which have been named: and when I
inquired whence they knew so perfectly of this tale which they told,
they said in reply that a great search had been made by the priests
after these women, and that they had not been able to find them, but
they had heard afterwards this tale about them which they were
telling. 55. This I heard from the priests at Thebes, and what follows
is said by the prophetesses[52] of Dodona. They say that two black
doves flew from Thebes to Egypt, and came one of them to Libya and the
other to their land. And this latter settled upon an oak-tree[53] and
spoke with human voice, saying that it was necessary that a prophetic
seat of Zeus should be established in that place; and they supposed
that that was of the gods which was announced to them, and made one
accordingly: and the dove which went away to the Libyans, they say,
bade the Libyans to make an Oracle of Ammon; and this also is of Zeus.
The priestesses of Dodona told me these things, of whom the eldest was
named Promeneia, the next after her Timarete, and the youngest
Nicandra; and the other people of Dodona who were engaged about the
temple gave accounts agreeing with theirs. 56. I however have an
opinion about the matter as follows:--If the Phenicians did in truth
carry away the consecrated women and sold one of them into Libya and
the other into Hellas, I suppose that in the country now called
Hellas, which was formerly called Pelasgia, this woman was sold into
the land of the Thesprotians; and then being a slave there she set up
a sanctuary of Zeus under a real oak-tree;[54] as indeed it was
natural that being an attendant of the sanctuary of Zeus at Thebes,
she should there, in the place to which she had come, have a memory of
him; and after this, when she got understanding of the Hellenic
tongue, she established an Oracle, and she reported, I suppose, that
her sister had been sold in Libya by the same Phenicians by whom she
herself had been sold. 57. Moreover, I think that the women were
called doves by the people of Dodona for the reason that they were
Barbarians and because it seemed to them that they uttered voice like
birds; but after a time (they say) the dove spoke with human voice,
that is when the woman began to speak so that they could understand;
but so long as she spoke a Barbarian tongue she seemed to them to be
uttering voice like a bird: for had it been really a dove, how could
it speak with human voice? And in saying that the dove was black, they
indicate that the woman was Egyptian. The ways of delivering oracles
too at Thebes in Egypt and at Dodona closely resemble one another, as
it happens, and also the method of divination by victims has come from

58. Moreover, it is true also that the Egyptians were the first of men
who made solemn assemblies[55] and processions and approaches to the
temples,[56] and from them the Hellenes have learnt them, and my
evidence for this is that the Egyptian celebrations of these have been
held from a very ancient time, whereas the Hellenic were
introduced[57] but lately. 59. The Egyptians hold their solemn
assemblies not once in the year but often, especially and with the
greatest zeal and devotion[58] at the city of Bubastis for Artemis,
and next at Busiris for Isis; for in this last-named city there is a
very great temple of Isis, and this city stands in the middle of the
Delta of Egypt; now Isis is in the tongue of the Hellenes Demeter:
thirdly, they have a solemn assembly at the city of Sa´s for Athene,
fourthly at Heliopolis for the Sun (Helios), fifthly at the city of
Buto in honour of Leto, and sixthly at the city of Papremis for Ares.
60. Now, when they are coming to the city of Bubastis they do as
follows:--they sail men and women together, and a great multitude of
each sex in every boat; and some of the women have rattles and rattle
with them, while some of the men play the flute during the whole time
of the voyage, and the rest, both women and men, sing and clap their
hands; and when as they sail they come opposite to any city on the way
they bring the boat to land, and some of the women continue to do as I
have said, others cry aloud and jeer at the women in that city, some
dance, and some stand up and pull up their garments. This they do by
every city along the river-bank; and when they come to Bubastis they
hold festival celebrating great sacrifices, and more wine of grapes is
consumed upon that festival than during the whole of the rest of the
year. To this place (so say the natives) they come together year by
year[59] even to the number of seventy myriads[59a] of men and women,
besides children. 61. Thus it is done here; and how they celebrate the
festival in honour of Isis at the city of Busiris has been told by me
before:[60] for, as I said, they beat themselves in mourning after the
sacrifice, all of them both men and women, very many myriads of
people; but for whom they beat themselves it is not permitted to me by
religion to say: and so many as there are of the Carians dwelling in
Egypt do this even more than the Egyptians themselves, inasmuch as
they cut their foreheads also with knives; and by this it is
manifested that they are strangers and not Egyptians. 62. At the times
when they gather together at the city of Sa´s for their sacrifices, on
a certain night[61] they all kindle lamps many in number in the open
air round about the houses; now the lamps are saucers full of salt and
oil mixed, and the wick floats by itself on the surface, and this
burns during the whole night; and to the festival is given the name
/Lychnocaia/ (the lighting of the lamps). Moreover those of the
Egyptians who have not come to this solemn assembly observe the night
of the festival and themselves also light lamps all of them, and thus
not in Sa´s alone are they lighted, but over all Egypt: and as to the
reason why light and honour are allotted to this night,[62] about this
there is a sacred story told. 63. To Heliopolis and Buto they go year
by year and do sacrifice only: but at Papremis they do sacrifice and
worship as elsewhere, and besides that, when the sun begins to go
down, while some few of the priests are occupied with the image of the
god, the greater number of them stand in the entrance of the temple
with wooden clubs, and other persons to the number of more than a
thousand men with purpose to perform a vow, these also having all of
them staves of wood, stand in a body opposite to those: and the image,
which is in a small shrine of wood covered over with gold, they take
out on the day before to another sacred building. The few then who
have been left about the image, draw a wain with four wheels, which
bears the shrine and the image that is within the shrine, and the
other priests standing in the gateway try to prevent it from entering,
and the men who are under a vow come to the assistance of the god and
strike them, while the others defend themselves.[63] Then there comes
to be a hard fight with staves, and they break one another's heads,
and I am of opinion that many even die of the wounds they receive; the
Egyptians however told me that no one died. This solemn assembly the
people of the place say that they established for the following
reason:--the mother of Ares, they say, used to dwell in this temple,
and Ares, having been brought up away from her, when he grew up came
thither desiring to visit his mother, and the attendants of his
mother's temple, not having seen him before, did not permit him to
pass in, but kept him away; and he brought men to help him from
another city and handled roughly the attendants of the temple, and
entered to visit his mother. Hence, they say, this exchange of blows
has become the custom in honour of Ares upon his festival.

64. The Egyptians were the first who made it a point of religion not
to lie with women in temples, nor to enter into temples after going
away from women without first bathing: for almost all other men except
the Egyptians and the Hellenes lie with women in temples and enter
into a temple after going away from women without bathing, since they
hold that there is no difference in this respect between men and
beasts: for they say that they see beasts and the various kinds of
birds coupling together both in the temples and in the sacred
enclosures of the gods; if then this were not pleasing to the god, the
beasts would not do so.

65. Thus do these defend that which they do, which by me is
disallowed: but the Egyptians are excessively careful in their
observances, both in other matters which concern the sacred rites and
also in those which follow:--Egypt, though it borders upon Libya,[63a]
does not very much abound in wild animals, but such as they have are
one and all accounted by them sacred, some of them living with men and
others not. But if I should say for what reasons the sacred animals
have been thus dedicated, I should fall into discourse of matters
pertaining to the gods, of which I most desire not to speak; and what
I have actually said touching slightly upon them, I said because I was
constrained by necessity. About these animals there is a custom of
this kind:--persons have been appointed of the Egyptians, both men and
women, to provide the food for each kind of beast separately, and
their office goes down from father to son; and those who dwell in the
various cities perform vows to them thus, that is, when they make a
vow to the god to whom the animal belongs, they shave the head of
their children either the whole or the half or the third part of it,
and then set the hair in the balance against silver, and whatever it
weighs, this the man gives to the person who provides for the animals,
and she cuts up fish of equal value and gives it for food to the
animals. Thus food for their support has been appointed: and if any
one kill any of these animals, the penalty, if he do it with his own
will, is death, and if against his will, such penalty as the priests
may appoint: but whosoever shall kill an ibis or a hawk, whether it be
with his will or against his will, must die. 66. Of the animals that
live with men there are great numbers, and would be many more but for
the accidents which befall the cats. For when the females have
produced young they are no longer in the habit of going to the males,
and these seeking to be united with them are not able. To this end
then they contrive as follows,--they either take away by force or
remove secretly the young from the females and kill them (but after
killing they do not eat them), and the females being deprived of their
young and desiring more, therefore come to the males, for it is a
creature that is fond of its young. Moreover when a fire occurs, the
cats seem to be divinely possessed;[64] for while the Egyptians stand
at intervals and look after the cats, not taking any care to
extinguish the fire, the cats slipping through or leaping over the
men, jump into the fire; and when this happens, great mourning comes
upon the Egyptians. And in whatever houses a cat has died by a natural
death, all those who dwell in this house shave their eyebrows only,
but those in whose houses a dog has died shave their whole body and
also their head. 67. The cats when they are dead are carried away to
sacred buildings in the city of Bubastis, where after being embalmed
they are buried; but the dogs they bury each people in their own city
in sacred tombs; and the ichneumons are buried just in the same way as
the dogs. The shrew-mice however and the hawks they carry away to the
city of Buto, and the ibises to Hermopolis;[65] the bears (which are
not commonly seen) and the wolves, not much larger in size than foxes,
they bury on the spot where they are found lying.

68. Of the crocodile the nature is as follows:--during the four most
wintry months this creature eats nothing: she has four feet and is an
animal belonging to the land and the water both; for she produces and
hatches eggs on the land, and the most part of the day she remains
upon dry land, but the whole of the night in the river, for the water
in truth is warmer than the unclouded open air and the dew. Of all the
mortal creatures of which we have knowledge this grows to the greatest
bulk from the smallest beginning; for the eggs which she produces are
not much larger than those of geese and the newly-hatched young one is
in proportion to the egg, but as he grows he becomes as much as
seventeen cubits long and sometimes yet larger. He has eyes like those
of a pig and teeth large and tusky, in proportion to the size of his
body; but unlike all other beasts he grows no tongue, neither does he
move his lower jaw, but brings the upper jaw towards the lower, being
in this too unlike all other beasts. He has moreover strong claws and
a scaly hide upon his back which cannot be pierced; and he is blind in
the water, but in the air he is of very keen sight. Since he has his
living in the water he keeps his mouth all full within of leeches; and
whereas all other birds and beasts fly from him, the trochilus is a
creature which is at peace with him, seeing that from her he receives
benefit; for the crocodile having come out of the water to the land
and then having opened his mouth (this he is wont to do generally
towards the West Wind), the trochilus upon that enters into his mouth
and swallows down the leeches, and he being benefited is pleased and
does no harm to the trochilus. 69. Now for some of the Egyptians the
crocodiles are sacred animals, and for others not so, but they treat
them on the contrary as enemies: those however who dwell about Thebes
and about the lake of Moiris hold them to be most sacred, and each of
these two peoples keeps one crocodile selected from the whole number,
which has been trained to tameness, and they put hanging ornaments of
molten stone and of gold into the ears of these and anklets round the
front feet, and they give them food appointed and victims of
sacrifices and treat them as well as possible while they live, and
after they are dead they bury them in sacred tombs, embalming them:
but those who dwell about the city of Elephantine even eat them, not
holding them to be sacred. They are called not crocodiles but
/champsai/, and the Ionians gave them the name of crocodile, comparing
their form to that of the crocodiles (lizards) which appear in their
country in the stone walls. 70. There are many ways in use of catching
them and of various kinds: I shall describe that which to me seems the
most worthy of being told. A man puts the back of a pig upon a hook as
bait, and lets it go into the middle of the river, while he himself
upon the bank of the river has a young live pig, which he beats; and
the crocodile hearing its cries makes for the direction of the sound,
and when he finds the pig's back he swallows it down: then they pull,
and when he is drawn out to land, first of all the hunter forthwith
plasters up his eyes with mud, and having so done he very easily gets
the mastery of him, but if he does not do so he has much trouble.

71. The river-horse is sacred in the district of Papremis, but for the
other Egyptians he is not sacred; and this is the appearance which he
presents: he is four-footed, cloven-hoofed like an ox,[66] flat-nosed,
with a mane like a horse and showing teeth like tusks, with a tail and
voice like a horse, and in size as large as the largest ox; and his
hide is so exceedingly thick that when it has been dried shafts of
javelins are made of it. 72. There are moreover otters in the river,
which they consider to be sacred; and of fish also they esteem that
which is called the /lepidotos/ to be sacred, and also the eel; and
these they say are sacred to the Nile: and of birds the fox-goose.

73. There is also another sacred bird called the phťnix which I did
not myself see except in painting, for in truth he comes to them very
rarely, at intervals, as the people of Heliopolis say, of five hundred
years; and these say that he comes regularly when his father dies; and
if he be like the painting, he is of this size and nature, that is to
say, some of his feathers are of gold colour and others red, and in
outline and size he is as nearly as possible like an eagle. This bird
they say (but I cannot believe the story) contrives as follows:--
setting forth from Arabia he conveys his father, they say, to the
temple of the Sun (Helios) plastered up in myrrh, and buries him in
the temple of the Sun; and he conveys him thus:--he forms first an egg
of myrrh as large as he is able to carry, and then he makes trial of
carrying it, and when he has made trial sufficiently, then he hollows
out the egg and places his father within it and plasters over with
other myrrh that part of the egg where he hollowed it out to put his
father in, and when his father is laid in it, it proves (they say) to
be of the same weight as it was; and after he has plastered it up, he
conveys the whole to Egypt to the temple of the Sun. Thus they say
that this bird does.

74. There are also about Thebes sacred serpents, not at all harmful to
men, which are small in size and have two horns growing from the top
of the head: these they bury when they die in the temple of Zeus, for
to this god they say that they are sacred. 75. There is a region
moreover in Arabia, situated nearly over against the city of Buto, to
which place I came to inquire about the winged serpents: and when I
came thither I saw bones of serpents and spines in quantity so great
that it is impossible to make report of the number, and there were
heaps of spines, some heaps large and others less large and others
smaller still than these, and these heaps were many in number. This
region in which the spines are scattered upon the ground is of the
nature of an entrance from a narrow mountain pass to a great plain,
which plain adjoins the plain of Egypt; and the story goes that at the
beginning of spring winged serpents from Arabia fly towards Egypt, and
the birds called ibises meet them at the entrance to this country and
do not suffer the serpents to go by but kill them. On account of this
deed it is (say the Arabians) that the ibis has come to be greatly
honoured by the Egyptians, and the Egyptians also agree that it is for
this reason that they honour these birds. 76. The outward form of the
ibis is this:--it is a deep black all over, and has legs like those of
a crane and a very curved beak, and in size it is about equal to a
rail: this is the appearance of the black kind which fight with the
serpents, but of those which most crowd round men's feet (for there
are two several kinds of ibises) the head is bare and also the whole
of the throat, and it is white in feathering except the head and neck
and the extremities of the wings and the rump (in all these parts of
which I have spoken it is a deep black), while in legs and in the form
of the head it resembles the other. As for the serpent its form is
like that of the watersnake; and it has wings not feathered but most
nearly resembling the wings of the bat. Let so much suffice as has
been said now concerning sacred animals.


77. Of the Egyptians themselves, those who dwell in the part of Egypt
which is sown for crops[67] practise memory more than any other men
and are the most learned in history by far of all those of whom I have
had experience: and their manner of life is as follows:--For three
successive days in each month they purge, hunting after health with
emetics and clysters, and they think that all the diseases which exist
are produced in men by the food on which they live; for the Egyptians
are from other causes also the most healthy of all men next after the
Libyans (in my opinion on account of the seasons, because the seasons
do not change, for by the changes of things generally, and especially
of the seasons, diseases are most apt to be produced in men), and as
to their diet, it is as follows:--they eat bread, making loaves of
maize, which they call /kyllestis/, and they use habitually a wine
made out of barley, for vines they have not in their land. Of their
fish some they dry in the sun and then eat them without cooking,
others they eat cured in brine. Of birds they eat quails and ducks and
small birds without cooking, after first curing them; and everything
else which they have belonging to the class of birds or fishes, except
such as have been set apart by them as sacred, they eat roasted or
boiled. 78. In the entertainments of the rich among them, when they
have finished eating, a man bears round a wooden figure of a dead body
in a coffin, made as like the reality as may be both by painting and
carving, and measuring about a cubit or two cubits each way;[68] and
this he shows to each of those who are drinking together, saying:
"When thou lookest upon this, drink and be merry, for thou shalt be
such as this when thou art dead." Thus they do at their carousals. 79.
The customs which they practise are derived from their fathers and
they do not acquire others in addition; but besides other customary
things among them which are worthy of mention, they have one
song,[68a] that of Linos, the same who is sung of both in Phenicia and
in Cyprus and elsewhere, having however a name different according to
the various nations. This song agrees exactly with that which the
Hellenes sing calling on the name of Linos,[69] so that besides many
other things about which I wonder among those matters which concern
Egypt, I wonder especially about this, namely whence they got the song
of Linos.[70] It is evident however that they have sung this song from
immemorial time, and in the Egyptian tongue Linos is called Maneros.
The Egyptians told me that he was the only son of him who first became
king of Egypt, and that he died before his time and was honoured with
these lamentations by the Egyptians, and that this was their first and
only song. 80. In another respect the Egyptians are in agreement with
some of the Hellenes, namely with the Lacedemonians, but not with the
rest, that is to say, the younger of them when they meet the elder
give way and move out of the path, and when their elders approach they
rise out of their seat. In this which follows however they are not in
agreement with any of the Hellenes,--instead of addressing one another
in the roads they do reverence, lowering their hand down to their
knee. 81. They wear tunics of linen about their legs with fringes,
which they call /calasiris/; above these they have garments of white
wool thrown over: woollen garments however are not taken into the
temples, nor are they buried with them, for this is not permitted by
religion. In these points they are in agreement with the observances
called Orphic and Bacchic (which are really Egyptian),[71] and also
with those of the Pythagoreans, for one who takes part in these
mysteries is also forbidden by religious rule to be buried in woollen
garments; and about this there is a sacred story told.

82. Besides these things the Egyptians have found out also to what god
each month and each day belongs, and what fortunes a man will meet
with who is born on any particular day, and how he will die, and what
kind of a man he will be: and these inventions were taken up by those
of the Hellenes who occupied themselves about poesy. Portents too have
been found out by them more than by all other men besides; for when a
portent has happened, they observe and write down the event which
comes of it, and if ever afterwards anything resembling this happens,
they believe that the event which comes of it will be similar. 83.
Their divination is ordered thus:--the art is assigned not to any man,
but to certain of the gods, for there are in their land Oracles of
Heracles, of Apollo, of Athene, of Artemis, of Ares, and of Zeus, and
moreover that which they hold most in honour of all, namely the Oracle
of Leto which is in the city of Buto. The manner of divination however
is not yet established among them according to the same fashion
everywhere, but is different in different places. 84. The art of
medicine among them is distributed thus:--each physician is a
physician of one disease and of no more; and the whole country is full
of physicians, for some profess themselves to be physicians of the
eyes, others of the head, others of the teeth, others of the
affections of the stomach, and others of the more obscure ailments.

85. Their fashions of mourning and of burial are these:--Whenever any
household has lost a man who is of any regard amongst them, the whole
number of women of that house forthwith plaster over their heads or
even their faces with mud. Then leaving the corpse within the house
they go themselves to and fro about the city and beat themselves, with
their garments bound up by a girdle[72] and their breasts exposed, and
with them go all the women who are related to the dead man, and on the
other side the men beat themselves, they too having their garments
bound up by a girdle; and when they have done this, they then convey
the body to the embalming. 86. In this occupation certain persons
employ themselves regularly and inherit this as a craft. These,
whenever a corpse is conveyed to them, show to those who brought it
wooden models of corpses made like reality by painting, and the best
of the ways of embalming they say is that of him whose name I think it
impiety to mention when speaking of a matter of such a kind;[73] the
second which they show is less good than this and also less expensive;
and the third is the least expensive of all. Having told them about
this, they inquire of them in which way they desire the corpse of
their friend to be prepared. Then they after they have agreed for a
certain price depart out of the way, and the others being left behind
in the buildings embalm according to the best of these ways thus:--
First with a crooked iron tool they draw out the brain through the
nostrils, extracting it partly thus and partly by pouring in drugs;
and after this with a sharp stone of Ethiopia they make a cut along
the side and take out the whole contents of the belly, and when they
have cleared out the cavity and cleansed it with palm-wine they
cleanse it again with spices pounded up: then they fill the belly with
pure myrrh pounded up and with cassia and other spices except
frankincense, and sew it together again. Having so done they keep it
for embalming covered up in natron for seventy days, but for a longer
time than this it is not permitted to embalm it; and when the seventy
days are past, they wash the corpse and roll its whole body up in fine
linen[74] cut into bands, smearing these beneath with gum,[75] which
the Egyptians use generally instead of glue. Then the kinsfolk receive
it from them and have a wooden figure made in the shape of a man, and
when they have had this made they enclose the corpse, and having shut
it up within, they store it then in a sepulchral chamber, setting it
to stand upright against the wall. 87. Thus they deal with the corpses
which are prepared in the most costly way; but for those who desire
the middle way and wish to avoid great cost they prepare the corpse as
follows:--having filled their syringes with the oil which is got from
cedar-wood, with this they forthwith fill the belly of the corpse, and
this they do without having either cut it open or taken out the
bowels, but they inject the oil by the breech, and having stopped the
drench from returning back they keep it then the appointed number of
days for embalming, and on the last of the days they let the cedar oil
come out from the belly, which they before put in; and it has such
power that it brings out with it the bowels and interior organs of the
body dissolved; and the natron dissolves the flesh, so that there is
left of the corpse only the skin and the bones. When they have done
this they give back the corpse at once in that condition without
working upon it any more. 88. The third kind of embalming, by which
are prepared the bodies of those who have less means, is as follows:--
they cleanse out the belly with a purge and then keep the body for
embalming during the seventy days, and at once after that they give it
back to the bringers to carry away. 89. The wives of men of rank when
they die are not given at once to be embalmed, nor such women as are
very beautiful or of greater regard than others, but on the third or
fourth day after their death (and not before) they are delivered to
the embalmers. They do so about this matter in order that the
embalmers may not abuse their women, for they say that one of them was
taken once doing so to the corpse of a woman lately dead, and his
fellow-craftsman gave information. 90. Whenever any one, either of the
Egyptians themselves or of strangers, is found to have been carried
off by a crocodile or brought to his death by the river itself, the
people of any city by which he may have been cast up on land must
embalm him and lay him out in the fairest way they can and bury him in
a sacred burial-place, nor may any of his relations or friends besides
touch him, but the priests of the Nile themselves handle the corpse
and bury it as that of one who was something more than man.

91. Hellenic usages they will by no means follow, and to speak
generally they follow those of no other men whatever. This rule is
observed by most of the Egyptians; but there is a large city named
Chemmis in the Theban district near Neapolis, and in this city there
is a temple of Perseus the son of Danae which is of a square shape,
and round it grow date-palms: the gateway of the temple is built of
stone and of very great size, and at the entrance of it stand two
great statues of stone. Within this enclosure is a temple-house[76]
and in it stands an image of Perseus. These people of Chemmis say that
Perseus is wont often to appear in their land and often within the
temple, and that a sandal which has been worn by him is found
sometimes, being in length two cubits, and whenever this appears all
Egypt prospers. This they say, and they do in honour of Perseus after
Hellenic fashion thus,--they hold an athletic contest, which includes
the whole list of games, and they offer in prizes cattle and cloaks
and skins: and when I inquired why to them alone Perseus was wont to
appear, and wherefore they were separated from all the other Egyptians
in that they held an athletic contest, they said that Perseus had been
born of their city, for Danaos and Lynkeus were men of Chemmis and had
sailed to Hellas, and from them they traced a descent and came down to
Perseus: and they told me that he had come to Egypt for the reason
which the Hellenes also say, namely to bring from Libya the Gorgon's
head, and had then visited them also and recognised all his kinsfolk,
and they said that he had well learnt the name of Chemmis before he
came to Egypt, since he had heard it from his mother, and that they
celebrated an athletic contest for him by his own command.

92. All these are customs practised by the Egyptians who dwell above
the fens: and those who are settled in the fen-land have the same
customs for the most part as the other Egyptians, both in other
matters and also in that they live each with one wife only, as do the
Hellenes; but for economy in respect of food they have invented these
things besides:--when the river has become full and the plains have
been flooded, there grow in the water great numbers of lilies, which
the Egyptians call /lotos/; these they cut with a sickle and dry in
the sun, and then they pound that which grows in the middle of the
lotos and which is like the head of a poppy, and they make of it
loaves baked with fire. The root also of this lotos is edible and has
a rather sweet taste:[77] it is round in shape and about the size of
an apple. There are other lilies too, in flower resembling roses,
which also grow in the river, and from them the fruit is produced in a
separate vessel springing from the root by the side of the plant
itself, and very nearly resembles a wasp's comb: in this there grow
edible seeds in great numbers of the size of an olive-stone, and they
are eaten either fresh[78] or dried. Besides this they pull up from
the fens the papyrus which grows every year, and the upper parts of it
they cut off and turn to other uses, but that which is left below for
about a cubit in length they eat or sell: and those who desire to have
the papyrus at its very best bake it in an oven heated red-hot, and
then eat it. Some too of these people live on fish alone, which they
dry in the sun after having caught them and taken out the entrails,
and then when they are dry, they use them for food.

93. Fish which swim in shoals are not much produced in the rivers, but
are bred in the lakes, and they do as follows:--When there comes upon
them the desire to breed, they swim out in shoals towards the sea; and
the males lead the way shedding forth their milt as they go, while the
females, coming after and swallowing it up, from it become
impregnated: and when they have become full of young in the sea they
swim up back again, each shoal to its own haunts. The same however no
longer lead the way as before, but the lead comes now to the females,
and they leading the way in shoals do just as the males did, that is
to say they shed forth their eggs by a few grains at a time,[79] and
the males coming after swallow them up. Now these grains are fish, and
from the grains which survive and are not swallowed, the fish grow
which afterwards are bred up. Now those of the fish which are caught
as they swim out to sea are found to be rubbed on the left side of the
head, but those which are caught as they swim up again are rubbed on
the right side. This happens to them because as they swim down to the
sea they keep close to the land on the left side of the river, and
again as they swim up they keep to the same side, approaching and
touching the bank as much as they can, for fear doubtless of straying
from their course by reason of the stream. When the Nile begins to
swell, the hollow places of the land and the depressions by the side
of the river first begin to fill, as the water soaks through from the
river, and so soon as they become full of water, at once they are all
filled with little fishes; and whence these are in all likelihood
produced, I think that I perceive. In the preceding year, when the
Nile goes down, the fish first lay eggs in the mud and then retire
with the last of the retreating waters; and when the time comes round
again, and the water once more comes over the land, from these eggs
forthwith are produced the fishes of which I speak.

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