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Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

Page: 83

XVII. At the first place where she stopped, and when she believed that she was alone, she opened the chest, and laying her face upon that of her dead husband, she embraced him and wept bitterly. Then, seeing that the little boy had silently stolen up behind her, and had found out the reason of her grief, she turned upon him suddenly, and, in her anger, gave him so fierce and terrible a look that he died of fright immediately. Others say that his death did not happen in this manner, but, as already hinted, that he fell into the sea. Afterwards he received the greatest honour on account of the goddess, for this Maneros, whom the Egyptians so frequently call upon at their banquets, is none other than he. This story is contradicted by those who tell us that the true name of this child was Palaestinus, or Pelusius, and that the city of this name was built by the goddess in memory of him. And they further add that this Maneros is thus honoured by the Egyptians at their feasts because he was the first who invented music. Others again state that Maneros is not the name of any particular person, but a were customary form of complimentary greeting which the Egyptians use towards each other at their more solemn feasts and banquets, meaning no more by it than to wish "that what they were then about might prove fortunate and happy to them." This is the true import of the word. In like manner they say that the human skeleton which is carried about in a box on festal occasions, and shown to the guests, is not designed, as some imagine, to represent the particular misfortunes of Osiris, but rather to remind them of their mortality, and thereby to excite them freely to make use of and to enjoy the good things which are set before them, seeing that they must quickly become such as they there saw. This is the true reason for introducing the skeleton at their banquets. But to proceed with the narrative.

XVIII. When Isis had come to her son Horus, who was being reared at Buto,[FN#305] she deposited the chest in a remote and unfrequented place. One night, however, when Typhon was hunting by the light of the moon, he came upon it by chance, and recognizing the body which was enclosed in it, he tore it into several pieces, fourteen[FN#306] in all, and scattered them in different places up and down the country. When Isis knew what had been done, she set out in search of the scattered portions of her husband's body; and in order to pass more easily through the lower, marshy parts of the country, she made use of a boat made of the papyrus plant. For this reason, they say, either fearing the anger of the goddess, or else venerating the papyrus, the crocodile never injures anyone who travels in this sort of vessel.[FN#307] And this, they say, hath given rise to the report that there are very many different sepulchres of Osiris in Egypt, for wherever Isis found one of the scattered portions of her husband's body, there she buried it. Others, however, contradict this story, and tell us that the variety of sepulchres of Osiris was due rather to the policy of the queen, who, instead of the real body, as she pretended, presented to these cities only an image of her husband. This she did in order to increase the honours which would by these means be paid to his memory, and also to defeat Typhon, who, if he were victorious in his fight against Horus in which he was about to engage, would search for the body of Osiris, and being distracted by the number of sepulchres would despair of ever being able to find the true one. We are told, moreover, that notwithstanding all her efforts, Isis was never able to discover the phallus of Osiris, which, having been thrown into the Nile immediately upon its separation from the rest of the body,[FN#308] had been devoured by the Lepidotus, the Phagrus, and the Oxyrhynchus, fish which above all others, for this reason, the Egyptians have in more especial avoidance. In order, however, to make some amends for the loss, Isis consecrated the phallus made in imitation of it, and instituted a solemn festival to its memory, which is even to this day observed by the Egyptians.


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