Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

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[FN#266] A rubric in the papyrus of Nes-Menu in the British Museum orders the priestesses of Isis and Nephthys to have "the hair of their bodies shaved off" (No. 10,188, col. 1), but they are also ordered to wear fillets of rams' wool on their heads.

[FN#267] Probably the ram of Amen. Animal sacrifices were invariably bulls and cows.

[FN#268] This saying is by Pythagoras—{greek Para dusian mh`onuxizou}. The saying of Hesiod (Works and Days, 740) is rendered by Goodwin:—

"Not at a feast of Gods from five-branched tree,
With sharp-edged steel to part the green from dry."

V. Now, the priests are so scrupulous in endeavouring to avoid everything which may tend to the increase of the above-mentioned excrementitious substances, that, on this account, they abstain not only from most sorts of pulse, and from the flesh of sheep and swine, but likewise, in their more solemn purifications, they even exclude salt from their meals. This they do for many reasons, but chiefly because it whets their appetites, and incites them to eat more than they otherwise would. Now, as to salt being accounted impure because, as Aristagoras tells us, many little insects are caught in it whilst it is hardening, and are thereby killed therein-this view is wholly trifling and absurd. From these same motives also they give the Apis Bull his water from a well specially set apart for the purpose,[FN#269] and they prevent him altogether from drinking of the Nile, not indeed that they regard the river as impure, and polluted because of the crocodiles which are in it, as some pretend, for there is nothing which the Egyptians hold in greater veneration than the Nile, but because its waters are observed to be particularly nourishing[FN#270] and fattening. And they strive to prevent fatness in Apis as well as in themselves, for they are anxious that their bodies should sit as light and easy about their souls as possible, and that their mortal part should not oppress and weigh down the divine and immortal.

[FN#269] It is quite possible that Apis drank from a special well, but the water in it certainly came from the Nile by infiltration. In all the old wells at Memphis the water sinks as the Nile sinks, and rises as it rises.

[FN#270] On account of the large amount of animal matter contained in it.

VI. The priests of the Sun at Heliopolis[FN#271] never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King.[FN#272] The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly. During their more solemn purifications they abstain from wine wholly, and they give themselves up entirely to study and meditation, and to the hearing and teaching of those divine truths which treat of the divine nature. Even the kings, who are likewise priests, only partake of wine in the measure which is prescribed for them in the sacred books, as we are told by Hecataeus. This custom was only introduced during the reign of Psammetichus, and before that time they drank no wine at all. If they used it at any time in pouring out libations to the gods, it was not because they looked upon it as being acceptable to them for its own sake, but they poured it out over their altars as the blood of their enemies who had in times past fought against them. For they believe the vine to have first sprung out of the earth after it was fattened by the bodies of those who fell in the wars against the gods. And this, they say, is the reason why drinking its juice in great quantities makes men mad and beside themselves, filling them, as it were, with the blood of their own ancestors. These things are thus related by Eudoxus in the second book of his Travels, as he had them from the priests themselves.