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feast. When they have flayed the bullock and made im-
precation, 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 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.



EGYPT 25

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 ap-
pointed time comes on, then to each city comes a boat from
that which is called the island of Prosopitis (this is in the
Delta, and the extent of its curcuit 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 to-
gether 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 kill-
ing.

Now all who have a temple set up to the Theban Zeus
or who are of the district of Thebes, these, I say, all sacri-
fice goats and abstain from sheep: for not all the Egyp-
tians 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



26 HERODOTUS

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 with 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.

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 Hera-
cles, Amphitryon and Alcmene, were both of Egypt by
descent, 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 pre-
served the- memory of these most of all, assuming that in
those times as now some of the Hellenes were wont to
make voyages and were seafaring folk, as I suppose and as



EGYPT 27

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. 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 fur-
nished with many votive offerings besides, and especially
there were in it two pillars, the one of pure gold and the
other of an emerald stone of such size as to shine by night:
and having come to speech with the priests of the god, I
asked them how long a 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 to the other
as a hero. 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



28 HERODOTUS

that the Hellenes when they tell this tale are altogether
without knowledge of the nature and customs of the Egyp-
tians; for how should they for whom it is not lawful to
sacrifice even beasts, except swine 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.

Xow 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 be-
fore 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 Mende-
sian 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.

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 swine-
herds, 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. Xow
to the other gods the Egyptians do not think it right to



EGYPT 29

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 per-
formed 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 how-
ever among them by reason of the scantiness of their means
shape pigs of dough and having baked them they offer these
as a sacrifice. 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 an-
other 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. 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 pro-
cession for Dionysos, and from him the Hellenes learnt to



30 HERODOTUS

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, mak-
ing 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 Boeotia.

Moreover the naming of almost all the gods has come
to Hellas from Egypt : for that it has come from the Bar-
barians 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 Nereids, 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 say 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. Xor, it may be added, have the Egyptians any
custom of worshipping heroes. 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 cus-
tom 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



EGYPT 31

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. Now
the Pelasgians formerly were wont to make all their sacri-
fices 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 (Oeous) from some such notion as this, that they
had set (0c>r?) in order all things and so had the distribu-
tion 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 after-
wards ; and after a time the Pelasgians consulted the Oracle
at Dodona about the names, for this prophetic seat is ac-
counted 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: 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



32 HERODOTUS

are said by the priestesses of Dodona, and the latter things,
those namely which have regard to Hesiod and Homer, by
myself.

As regards the Oracles both that amqng 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.
This I heard from the priests at Thebes, and what follows
is said by the prophetesses of Dodona. They say that two
black doves flew from Thebes in Egypt, and came one of
them to Libya and the other to their land. And this latter
settled upon an oak-tree 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 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. 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 Thespro-
tians ; and then being a slave there she set up a sanctuary
of Zeus under a real oak-tree ; 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
HC xxxin (1)



EGYPT 33

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.
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 if it had 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 deliver-
ing 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 Egypt.

Moreover, it is true also that the Egyptians were the first
of men who made solemn assemblies and processions and
approaches to the temples, 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 but lately. The
Egyptians hold their solemn assemblies not once in the year
but often, especially and with the greatest zeal and devotion
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 Sals 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. 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,

hc xxxni (2)



34 HERODOTUS

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) the)- come together year by year even
to the number of seventy myriads of men and women, be-
sides children. 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 : 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.
At the times when they gather together at the city of Sais
for their sacrifices, on a certain night 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 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 Sais alone are they lighted, but over all
Egypt : and as to the reason why light and honour are
allotted to this night, about this there is a sacred story told.
To Heliopolis and Buto they go year by year and do sacrifice
only: but at Papremis they do sacrifice and worship as else-
where, 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 per-
form a vow. these also having all of them staves of wood,
stand in a body opposite to those : and the image, which is



EGYPT 35

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 gate-
way 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. 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



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