« PreviousContinue »
spect differs from the rest of the deities: the real motive which they assign for this custom I do not choose to relate. The veneration of the Mendesians for these animals, and for the males in particular 85, is equally great and universal : this is also extended to goat-herds. There is one he-goat more particularly honoured than the rest, whose death is seriously lamented by the whole district of the Mendesians. In the Ægyptian language the word Mendes is used in common for Pan and for a goat. It happened in this country, within my remembrance, and was indeed universally notorious, that a goat had indecent and public communication with a woman.
XLVII. The Ægyptians regard the hog as an unclean animal 8%, and if they casually touch one
85 Males in particular.]—The Ægyptians venerated the he-goat as a deity, for the same reason that the Greeks do Priapus. This animal has a strong propensity to venery, and the member which is the instrument of generation they esteem honourable, because from it, animals derive their existence.—Diodorus Sic. lib. i. 98.
86 Unclean animal.]—The abhorrence of the Jews to the flesh of swine'is generally supposed to have been imitated from the Ægyptians; they differed in this, the Jews would never eat it, the Ægyptians occasionally did. The motives assigned by Plutarch for the prejudice of both these nations in this particular instance, is curious enough: “ The milk of the sow,” says he, “ occasioned leprosies, which was the reason why the Ægyptians entertained so great an aversion for this animal.” Vol. I.
they immediately plunge themselves, clothes and all, into the water. This prejudice operates to the exclusion of all swine-herds, although natives of Ægypt, from the temples: with people of this description, a connection by marriage is studiously avoided, and they are reduced to the necessity of intermarrying among those of their own profession. The only deities to whom the Ægyptians offer swine, are Bacchus and Luna; to these they sacrifice them when the moon is at the full, after which they eat the flesh. Why they offer swine at this particular time, and at no other, the Ægyptians have a tradition among themselves, which delicacy forbids me to explain. The following is the mode in which they sacrifice this animal to Luna : as soon as it is killed, they cut off the extremity of the tail, which, with the spleen and the fat, they enclose in the cawl, and burn; upon the remainder, which at any other time they would disdain, they feast at the full moon, when the sacrifice is performed. They who are poor make figures of swine with meal, which having first baked, they offer on the altar.
· The same author in another place explains in this manner the dislike of the Jews to swine. The religion, the ceremonies, and feasts of the Jews, were, as he pretends, the same as those practised in Greece with respect to Bacchus. Bacchus and Adonis are the same divinities; and the Jews abstain from swine's fiesh, because Adonis was slain by a boar.
It is no less worth remarking, that Plutarch explains the derivation of Levites from Lysios, Avolos, a name of Bacchus. -T.
· XLVIII. On the day of the feast of Bacchus, at the hour of supper, every person, before the door of his house, offers a hog in sacrifice. The swine-herd of whom they purchased it, is afterwards at liberty to take it away. Except this sacrifice of the swine, the Ægyptians celebrate the feast of Bacchus * in the same manner as the Greeks. Instead of the phalli", they have con
* Bacchus and Osiris were the same, or in other words the Bacchus of the Greeks was the Osiris of the Ægyptians. What Clement of Alexandria and Arnobius relate of the origin of this mysterious and abominable custom, cannot be communicated in terms of delicacy. Plutarch however assigns a reason very different for the introduction of these phalli, from that which is represented by the above writers. See his tract on Isis and Osiris.
6 Isis having collected all the limbs of Osiris, could not find the distinguishing member of his sex. It had been thrown into the Nile and the Lepidotus, the phagrus and the oxyrinchus devoured it, for which reason the Ægyptians held these fish in great abomination. They consecrated the phallus as a representative of this, and the Ægyptians to this day hold a festival in its honour.”
Gesner calls this fish pagrus. Ælian relates that it precedes and indicates the approaching inundation of the Nile.
Oxyrinchus seems to be a term given to any fish with a sharp snout. From the anecdote quoted from Plutarch, we. may conclude them both to be carnivorous.
87 Phalli.]---Macrobius explains the consecration of the phallus into an emblem of the power of generation, whose prolific virtue is thereby invoked to impregnate the universe; for which reason that ceremony is for the most part performed in the spring, when the whole world receives a kind of regeneration from the gods. Macrobius, Saturnal. lib. i.7. -See also on this subject Lucian de Dea Syria; Apuleius; в в 2
trived certain figures of about a cubit in length; the private members of which are made to move. These the women carry about the streets and villages, and the member which distinguishes the sex, being almost as large as the rest of the body, with these, and preceded by a piper, they sing in a long procession, the praises of Bacchus. Why this member is so disproportionably large, and why they give a motion to it alone, they assign a sacred and mysterious reason.
XLIX. I am of opinion, that Melampus 85, son of Amytheon, was acquainted with this ceremony. Melampus first taught the Greeks the name and the sacrifice of Bacchus, and introduced the procession of the phalli 89; the mys
Letters on Mythology. See also Voyage du Jeune Anacharsis, vol. iii. 138.-T.
Mention is made in Athenæus of a phallus, carried in a Bacchanal procession, of gold, and one hundred and twenty cubits long. It was moreover adorned with garlands, which were twined round it to its vertex, where was a golden star six cubits in circumference. --See Athenæus, book v. chap.5.
88 Melampus.]—So called because, being exposed when a child by his mother Rhodope, his whole person was covered, excepting his feet; these the rays of the sun turned black. He was a famous soothsayer: he was also, according to Pausanias, a physician, and had a temple and statues, and solema games instituted in his honour.-T.
89 Of the phalli.]-In what manner these were carried in processions, may be seen in the Acharnenses of Aristophanes.
i O Earloos tev pannor opbor Sncatw. See also the Scholiast on this passage.--T.
terious purport of which he did not sufficiently explain; but since his time it has received from different sages sufficient illustration. It is unquestionable, that the use of the phalli in the sacrifice of Bacchus, with the other ceremonies which the Greeks now know and practise, were first taught them by Melampus. I therefore, without hesitation, pronounce him to have been a man of wisdom, and of skill in the art of divination. Instructed by the Ægyptians 90 in various ceremonies, and particularly in those which relate to Bacchus, with some few trifling changes, he brought them into Greece. I can by no means impute to accident, the resemblance which exists in the rites of Bacchus in Ægypt, and in
Grandpre, in his Voyage in the Indian Ocean, relates, that in passing opposite to the coast of Travancore, he sent his buat on shore for information. They returned and brought with them an idol taken out of a niche in a bank. This the sailors made use of as a tiller to the rudder: on examination it proved to be a phallus. The boat's crew steered with this phallus, the size of which may be conjectured from this circunstance.
90 Instructed by the Ægyptians.]-As Ægypt was then famous for the sciences and arts, the Greeks, who were beginning to emerge from barbarisın, travelled thither to obtain knowledge, which they might afterwards communicate to their countrymen. With this view the following illustrious characters visited this country: 5 Orpheus, Musæus, Melampus, Dædalus, Homer, Lycurgus the Spartan, Solon of Athens, Plato the philosopher, Pythagoras of Samos, Eudoxus, Democritus of Abdera, Ænopis of Chios, &c. &c.”Larcher,
в в $