Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 1


XXII. 1. Now, since many of such [? tombs] are spoken of and pointed out, those who think these [myths] commemorate the awe-inspiring and mighty works and passions of kings and tyrants who, through surpassing virtue and power, put in a claim for the reputation of divinity, and afterwards experienced reverses of fortune,--employ a very easy means of escape from the [true] reason (logos), and not unworthily transfer the ill-omened [element in them] from Gods to men, and they have the following to help them from the narratives related.

2. For instance, the Egyptians tell us that Hermes had a short-armed [*3] body, that Typhon was red-skinned,

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[paragraph continues] Horus white, and Osiris black, as though they were [men] born in the course of nature.

3. Moreover, also, they call Osiris "General" and Kanobus [*1] "Pilot,"--from whom, they say, the star got its name.

And [they say] that the ship which Greeks call Argo is an image of the bark of Osiris, constellated in his honour, and that it sails not far from Orion and Dog, the former of which Egyptians consider the sacred [boat] of Horus and the latter of Isis. [*2]

XXIII. 1. But I am afraid that this is "moving the immoveable," and "warring" not only "against many centuries," according to Simonides, [*3] but "against many nations of men" and races held fast by religious feeling towards these Gods--when people let nothing alone but transfer such mighty names from heaven to earth, and [so] banish and dissolve the sense of worship and faith that has been implanted in nearly all [men] from their first coming into existence, opening up wide entrances for the godless folk, [*4] and reducing the divine [mysteries] to the level of men's doings, and giving a splendid licence to the charlatanries of Evemerus [*5] the Messenian, who of himself composing the counterpleas of a baseless science of myths unworthy of any credit, flooded the civilised world with sheer atheism, listing off level all those who are looked on as gods into names of generals and admirals and kings, who (he is good enough to say)

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existed in bygone days, and are recorded in letters of gold at Panchon, [*1]--which [records] neither any non-Greek nor any Greek has ever come across, but Evemerus alone, when he went his voyage to the Panchoans and Triphyllians, who never have been nor are anywhere on earth.

XXIV. 1. And yet mighty deeds of Semiramis are sung of among Assyrians, and mighty [deeds] of Sesostris in Egypt. And Phrygians even unto this day call splendid and marvellous doings "manic," owing to the fact that Manes, one of their bygone kings, proved himself a good and strong man among them--the one whom some call Mazdes. [*2] Cyrus led Persians and Alexander Macedonians, conquering to almost the ends of the earth; still they have the name and memory of good kings [only].

2. "And if some elated by vast boastfulness," as Plato says, [*3] "concomitant with youth and ignorance, through having their souls inflamed with pride," have accepted titles like gods and dedications of temples, their glory has flourished for a short time [only], and afterwards they have incurred the penalty of vanity and imposture coupled with impiety and indecency: [*4]

Death coming swift on them, like smoke they rose and fell. [*5]

And now like runaway [slaves] that can be lawfully

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taken, torn from the temples and altars, they have naught but their tombs and graves.

3. Wherefore Antigonus the Elder, when a certain Hermodotus, in his poems, proclaimed him "Son of the Sun and God," remarked: "My night-stool boy has not so exalted an opinion of me."

And with reason also did Lysippus, the sculptor, blame Apelles, the painter, for putting a thunderbolt in Alexander's hand when painting his portrait; whereas he himself gave him a spear-head,--from which not even time itself shall take away the glory, for it is true and really his.


^295:3 gali-agkuna--lit., weasel-armed. Now, as we are told further on (lxxiv. 3) that the weasel (galei), or marten, was fabled to conceive through the ear and bring forth through the mouth, this animal was evidently a symbol of mind-conception. "Weasel-armed" may thus symbolise some faculty of the interpretative mind (Hermes).

^296:1 Canopus was fabled to be the pilot of the bark of Osiris; in Greek mythology he was the pilot of the General Menelaos on his return from Troy.

^296:2 Cf. xxi. 2.

^296:3 Bergk, iii. 522.

^296:4 Or "atheists." "An evident allusion to the Christians," says King (in loc.); but we think Plutarch was more impersonal than his commentator.

^296:5 E. flourished in the last quarter of the 4th century B.C.

^297:1 The capital, presumably, of the mythical island of Panchaea, which was supposed to be somewhere on the southern coast of Asia, and to which Evemerus pretended he had sailed on a voyage down the Red Sea.

^297:2 King notes: "The common title of the Sassanean kings was 'Masdesin'--'servant of Ormazd.'"

^297:3 Legg., 716 A.

^297:4 A bold thing to write in an age of Emperor-divinising.

^297:5 Apparently from an otherwise unknown poet. See Bergk, iii. 637.


XXV. [*1] 1. They, therefore, [do] better who believe that the things related about Typhon and Osiris and Isis are passions neither of gods nor of men, but of mighty daimones, who--as Plato and Pythagoras and Xenocrates and Chrysippus say, following the theologers of bygone days--have been born more manful than men, far surpassing us in the strength of their nature, yet not having the divine unmixed and pure, but proportioned with the nature of soul and sense of body, susceptible of pleasure and pain and all the passions, which as innate to such metamorphoses trouble some [of them] more and others less.

2. For the Gigantic and Titanic [Passions] sung of among the Greeks, and certain lawless deeds of Kronos and antagonisms of Python against Apollo, and fleeings of Dionysus, and wanderings of Demeter, in no way fall behind the Osiric and Typhonic [Passions], and others which all may hear unrestrainedly spoken of in myth.

And all these things which, under the veil of mystic

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sacred rites and perfectionings, are carefully kept from being spoken of to, or being allowed to be seen by, the multitude, have a similar reason (logos). [*1]

XXVI. 1. Moreover, we hear Homer also on every occasion calling the good variously "godlike" and "equal to gods," and as "having directions [*2] from gods"; whereas he employs epithets connected with the daimones to both worthy and unworthy in common:

Draw nigh them daimonian! Why so fearest the Argives? [*3]

And again:

But when indeed for the fourth time he charged, a daimon's equal. [*4]


O thou daimonian! what so great ills do Priam now
And Priam's sons to thee, that thou dost hotly rage
Troy's well-built town to rase? [*5]

--as though the daimones possessed a mixed and an unbalanced nature and propensity.

2. For which reason Plato [*6] refers unto the God upon Olympus' height things "right" and "odd," [*7] and to the daimones those that respond to these. [*8]

3. Moreover, Xenocrates [*9] thinks that the nefast days, and all the holy days on which are strikings or beatings or fastings or blasphemies or foul language, have nothing to do with honours paid to gods or to beneficent daimones; but that there are natures in

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the circumambient, [*1] mighty and powerful indeed, but difficult to turn and sullen, who take pleasure in such things, and when they get them turn to nothing worse.

4. The beneficent and good ones, again, Hesiod also calls "holy daimones" and "guardians of men"--"wealth-givers and possessors of this sovereign prerogative." [*2]

5. Plato [*3] again gives to this race the name of hermeneutic and of diaconic [*4] 'twixt Gods and men, speeding up thitherwards men's vows and prayers, and bringing thence prophetic answers hitherwards and gifts of [all] good things.

6. Whereas Empedocles [*5] says that the daimones have to amend whatever faults they make, or discords they may strike:

"For aether's rush doth chase them seawards; sea spews them on land's flat; and earth into the beams of tireless sun; and he casts [them again] into the swirls of aether. One takes them from another, and all abhor [them]" [*6]--until after being thus chastened and purified they regain their natural place and rank.

XXVII. 1. Born from the self-same womb as these and things like them, they say, are the legends about Typhon: how that he wrought dire deeds through envy and ill-will, and after throwing all things into confusion and filling the whole earth and sea as well with ills, he afterwards did make amends.

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2. But the sister-wife [*1] of Osiris who upheld his honour, after she had quenched and laid to rest Typhon's frenzy and fury, did not allow forgetfulness and silence to overtake the struggles and trials he had endured, and her own wanderings and many [deeds] of wisdom, and many [feats] of manliness; but intermingling with the most chaste perfectionings images and under-meanings and copies of the passion she then endured, she hallowed at one and the same time a lesson of religion and a consolation to men and women placed in like circumstances.

3. And she and Osiris, being changed through virtue from good daimones into gods [*2]--as [were] subsequently Heracles and Dionysus--possess the dignities of gods and daimones at one and the same time, fitly combined everywhere indeed but with the greatest power among those above earth and under earth.


^298:1 This chapter is quoted by Eusebius, Praep. Ev., V. v. 1.

^299:1 Sc. to the mysteries of the Egyptians.

^299:2 me'dea--also meaning virilia.

^299:3 Il., xiii. 810.

^299:4 Il., v. 438.

^299:5 Il., iv. 31 f.

^299:6 Legg., 717 A.

^299:7 Pythagorean technical terms.

^299:8 ta antifuna--the meaning seeming to be rather that of "concord" than of "discord."

^299:9 An immediate pupil of Plato's.

^300:1 The air or ether that surrounds the earth.

^300:2 Op. et Dies, 126.

^300:3 Symp., 202 E.

^300:4 That is, "interpretative and ministering."

^300:5 E. flourished 494-434 B.C.

^300:6 Stein, 377 ff.; Karsten, 16 ff.; Fairbanks, p. 204. The quotation appears to me inapposite, for Empedocles seems to be speaking of "any who defile their bodies sinfully" and not of daimones; but perhaps the "received" recombination of the fragments is at fault.

^301:1 See the note on "sister-wife" in comment on Mariamne (Hipp., Philos.--Introd.) in chapter on "Myth of Man."--Prolegg., p. 147, n. 7.

^301:2 That is to say, according to this theory the myth represented the degree of initiation by which a man passed from the stage of daimon into the state of god, or from super-man to christ.


4. For they say that Sarapis is no other than Pluto, and Isis Persephassa, as Archemachus of Euboea has said, [*3] and Heracleides of Pontus, when he supposes that the seat of the oracle at Canopus is Pluto's.

XXVIII. 1. And Ptolemy the Saviour [*4] saw in a dream the gigantic statue of Pluto--though he had not previously seen or known what form it was--ordering him to bring it to Alexandria.

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2. And when he did not know and had no idea where [the statue] was set up even after he had described his vision to his friends, there was found a man, a great traveller, by name Sosibius, who said he had seen at Sinope just such a colossus as the King seemed to have seen.

3. He [Ptolemy] accordingly sent Soteles and Dionysius, who, after expending much time and pains, not, however, without the help of God's providence, removed it secretly and brought it away.

4. And when it had been brought [to Alexandria] and set up publicly, the assistants of Timotheus, the interpreter, and of Manethos, the Sebennyte, coming to the conclusion that it was a statue of Pluto--judging by its cerberus and huge serpent--convinced Ptolemy that it was that of no other of the Gods than Sarapis; for it did not come from Sinope with this designation, but after it had been brought to Alexandria it received the Egyptian name for Pluto, namely, Sarapis.

5. And yet people sink into the opinion of Heracleitus the physicist, when he says: "Hades [*1] and Dionysus are the same, for whomsoever they rage and riot."

For those who postulate that Hades means the body, because the soul is as it were deranged and drunken in it, put forward a [too] meagre interpretation.

6. But [it is] better to identify Osiris with Dionysus, and Sarapis [*2] with Osiris, so designated after he had changed his nature. [*3] Wherefore "Sarapis" is common to all, [*4] just as, you know, those who share in the sacred rites know that "Osiris" is.

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XXIX. 1. For it is not worth while paying attention to the Phrygian writings, in which Isis is said to have been the daughter of Charops, [*1] son of Heracles, and Typhon [son] of Aeacus, [*2] [also] son of Heracles.

2. Nor [is it worth while] refraining from disregarding Phylarchus, [*3] when he writes that "it was Dionysus who first brought two oxen from India to Egypt, of which the name of one was Apis, and of the other Osiris; and Sarapis is the name of Him who orders [or adorns] the universe from sairein ['sweep,' 'clean'], which some say [means] 'beautifying' and 'adorning'";--for these [remarks] of Phylarchus are absurd.

3. But still more so are those of them who say that Sarapis is not a god, but that the coffin of Apis [*4] is thus named, and that certain brazen gates at Memphis, called "Gates of Oblivion and Wailing," open with a deep mournful sound, when they bury Apis, and that therefore at every sounding of brass [*5] we are plunged into oblivion.

4. More moderate are they who claim that the

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simultaneous motion of the universe is thus called [sc. Sarapis], from seuesthai and sousthai [*1] ["speed"].

5. But the majority of the priests say that "Osiris" and "Apis" have been woven together into the same [name], explaining and teaching that we should look on the Apis as an en-formed image of the soul of Osiris.

6. If, however, the name of Sarapis is Egyptian, I for my part think it denotes "Good Cheer" and "Delight,"--finding a proof in the fact that Egyptians call the feast "Delights"--Sairei.

And, indeed, Plato says that Hades has been so called as being "sweet" [*2] and gentle to those with him.

7. And with Egyptians both many other of their names are logoi, [*3] and they call subterrene space, to which they think the souls depart after death, Amenthe--the name signifying "the [space] which takes and gives." [*4]

8. But whether this, too, is one of the names that left Hellas long ago and have been brought back again, [*5] we will examine later on; for the present, let us continue with the remaining [points] of the belief we have in hand.


^301:3 Muller, iv. 315.

^301:4 The first Greek King of Egypt, 324-285 B.C.

^302:1 That is, Pluto.

^302:2 Sar-apis--a combination of Osiris and Apis, the soul of Osiris; cf. xxix. 5. In Eg. Asar-Hapi.

^302:3 Presumably from that of a daimon to that of a god.

^302:4 That is, apparently, a common principle in all men.

^303:1 Lit. "Bright- (or Glad-) eyed."

^303:2 Lit., "Wailer."

^303:3 A historian; flourished c. 215 B.C.

^303:4 Apidos soron--another word-play, "sor-apis."

^303:5 exountos . . . xalkw'matos. This has, nevertheless, presumably some mystic meaning. In the myths, cymbals were said to have been used to protect the infant Bacchus, and infant Zeus, and to keep off the Titans--so, presumably, plunging them into oblivion. Compare also 1 Corinth. xiii. 1, where Paul, speaking of the exercise of the "gift of tongues" (glossalaly) without love (agape), uses precisely the same term, when saying: "I am become as sounding brass (xalkos exun) or tinkling cymbal" the latter being, perhaps, a reference to the sistrum, while the former is perhaps a metaphor, derived from the hardness and colour ("red") of brass, or rather bronze or copper, referring to a state of mind which plunges us into oblivion of our better part--namely, spiritual love.

^304:1 A contracted form of the former--from  sqrtsfe or  sqrtsef, with idea of "swiftness." (?) Serapis--sev-a-this--sevesthai.

^304:2 adousion--unknown to the lexicons. I suggest that it may be connected with Edos, from  sqrtsfad of andanu--hence "sweet."

^304:3 Presumably "words of deep meaning"--another technical use of this Proteus-like term.

^304:4 Budge (op. cit., ii. 200) says: "The Egyptian form of the word is Amentet, and the name means 'hidden place.'"

^304:5 How very Greek! Cf. lxi. 4.


XXX. 1. Osiris and Isis have, then, changed from good daimones into gods. While as for the dimmed and shattered power of Typhon, though it is at the last

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gasp and in its final death-throes, they still appease and soothe it with certain feasts of offerings.

2. Yet, again, every now and then at certain festivals they humiliate it dreadfully and treat it most despitefully,--even to rolling red-skinned men in the mud, and driving an ass over a precipice (as the Koptos folk), because Typhon was born with his skin red and ass-like. While the Busiris folk and Lycopolitans do not use trumpets at all, as they sound like an ass [braying].

3. And generally they think that the ass is not clean, but a daimonic animal, on account of its resemblance to that [god]; and making round-cakes for feasts of offerings on both the month of Payni and that of Phaophi, [*1] they stamp on them an "ass tied." [*2]

4. And on the Feast of Offerings of the Sun, they pass the word to the worshippers not to wear on the body things made of gold nor to give food to an ass. [*3]

5. The Pythagorics also seem to consider Typhon a daimonic power; for they say that Typhon was produced on the six-and-fiftieth even measure; and again that the [power [*4]] of the equilateral triangle is that of Hades and Dionysus and Ares; that of the square is that of Rhea and Aphrodite and Demeter and Hestia (that is, Hera); that of the dodecagon, that of Zeus; and that of the fifty-six angled [regular polygon], that of Typhon--as Eudoxus relates. [*5]

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XXXI. 1. And, as Egyptians believe that Typhon was born red-skinned, [*1] they offer in sacrifice even the red ones of the oxen [only] after making the scrutiny so close, that if [the beast] has even a single hair black or white, they consider it ought not to be offered; for if it were sacrificed, it would not be an acceptable offering to the gods, but the contrary, [as are] all those animals which have seized on the souls of impure and unrighteous men in the course of their transformation into bodies other [than human].

2. Wherefore after uttering imprecations on the head of the victim, [*2] and cutting off its head, they used to cast it into the river in olden days, but nowadays they give it to strangers.

3. But as to the one that is to be sacrificed, those of the priests who are called Sealers, set a mark upon it--the seal (as Kastor [*3] relates) having the impression of a man forced down on one knee with his hands drawn round behind him, and a sword sticking in his throat. [*4]

4. And they think that the ass also has the distinction of its resemblance [to Typhon], as has been said, owing to its aversion to being taught and to its wantonness, no less than on account of its skin. [*5]

5. For which cause also since they especially detested

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[paragraph continues] Ochus [*1] of [all] the Persian kings as being blood-polluted and abominable, they gave him the nickname of "Ass."

But he, with the retort: "This Ass, however, will make a fine feast off your Ox"--slaughtered the Apis, as Deinon has told us. [*2]

6. Those, however, who say that Typhon's flight from the fight on an ass lasted seven days, and that after reaching a place of safety he begat sons--Hierosolymus and Judaeus--are instantly convicted of dragging Judaic matters into the myth. [*3]


^305:1 Copt. Paoni and Paopi--corr. roughly with June and October.

^305:2 onon dedemenon. Cf. Matt. xxi. 2: onon dedemenen; cf. also 1. 3, where it is a hippopotamus.

^305:3 That is, presumably, not to weigh down their minds with the superfluity of riches, nor to feed up the stupid and lustful energies of their souls.

^305:4 A "power" in Pythagorean technology is the side of a square (or, perhaps, of any equilateral polygon) in geometry; and in arithmetic the square root, or that which being multiplied into itself produces the square.

^305:5 Eudoxus seems to have been Plutarch's authority for his statements regarding Pythagorean doctrine; cf. vi., lii., lxii. The Typhonic figure might be generated by "sevening" the interior angles of a regular octagon and producing the radii to the circumference of the circumscribed circle, or by "eighting" the interior angles of a regular heptagon.

^306:1 Or "fire-coloured."

^306:2 Compare the Ritual of Azazel (the scape-goat), one of the two goats set apart on the Great Day of Atonement among the Jews (Lev. xvi. 8 ff.).

^306:3 Cf. also Plut., Aetia Romana, x. Castor was a Greek historian who was a contemporary of Cicero and Julius Caesar.

^306:4 The ox was, therefore, the vicarious atonement of the man.

^306:5 It was a red ass, then, which symbolised the Typhonic power.

^307:1 Cf. xi. 4.

^307:2 Muller, ii. 95. Deinon was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, and wrote a history of Persia.

^307:3 This item of ancient scandal would almost seem to have come from the pen of an Apion; it is an interesting specimen of theological controversy in story-form.


XXXII. 1. [*4] The above [data] then afford [us] such and such suggestions. But from another start let us consider the simplest of those who seem to give a more philosophical explanation.

2. These are those who say that, just as the Greeks allegorise time as Kronos, and air as Hera, and the changes of air into fire as the generation of Hephaestus, so, with the Egyptians, Osiris uniting with Isis (earth) is Neilos, and Typhon is the sea, into which Neilos falling vanishes and is dispersed, except such part [of him] as the earth takes up and receives, and so becomes endowed with productiveness by him.

3. And there is a sacred dirge made on Kronos [*5]--and it laments "him who is born in the left-hand and died in the right-hand parts."

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4. For Egyptians think that the eastern [parts] of cosmos are "face," the northern "right hand," and the southern "left hand."

5. The Nile, accordingly, since it flows from the southern [parts] and is consumed by the sea in the northern, is naturally said to have its birth in the left hand and its death in the right hand.

6. Wherefore the priests both pronounce the sea expiate and call salt "Typhon's foam"; and one of the chief prohibitions they have is: "Not to set salt on table." And they do not give greeting to sailors, [*1] because they use the sea, and get their living from it. And for this cause chiefly they accuse fish of being a cause of offence, and write up: "Hate fish!"

7. At anyrate at Sais, in the entrance of the temple of Athena, there used to be chiselled up "babe," "old man," and after that "hawk," then "fish," and last of all "hippopotamus."

8. This meant in symbols: "O ye who are being born and are dying, God hates shamelessness."

9. For "babe" is the symbol of birth, and "old man" of death, and by "hawk" they mean God, and by "fish" hatred--as has been said on account of the sea--and by "hippopotamus" shamelessness, for it is fabled that after it has killed its sire it violates its dam.

10. Moreover, what is said by the Pythagorics, namely, that the sea is the tears of Kronos, would seem to riddle the fact of its not being pure and cognate with itself.

11. Let these things then be stated from outside sources as matters of common information.

XXXIII. 1. But the more wise of the priests call not only the Nile Osiris, and the sea Typhon; but [they

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call] without exception every source and power that moistens, Osiris--considering [him] cause of generation and essence of seed, and Typhon everything dry and fiery, and of a drying nature generally and one hostile to moisture.

2. And for this cause also, as they think he [Typhon] was born with a reddish-yellow body, somewhat pale, they do not by any means readily meet or willingly associate with men that look like this.

3. On the other hand, again, they say in the language of myth that Osiris was born black, because all [Nile] water blackens both earth and garments and clouds when mixed [with them], and [because] moisture in the young makes their hair black, whereas greyness comes on those past their prime, as though it were a turning pale owing to its drying up.

4. The spring, too, is blooming and productive and balmy; but autumn, through lack of moisture, is inimical to plants and baneful to animals.

5. And the ox that is kept at Sun-city which they call Mnevis--sacred to Osiris, while some also consider it sire of Apis--is black [also] and has second honours after Apis.

6. Moreover, they call Egypt, since it is especially black-soiled, just like the black of the eye, Chemia, and liken it to a heart; for it is warm and moist, and is mostly confined in, and adjacent to, the southern part of the civilised world, just like the heart [is] in man's left-hand side.

XXXIV. 1. Moreover, they say that sun and moon do not use chariots for vehicles, but sail round in boats--[thus] riddling their being nourished by and being born in the "Moist."

2. And they think that Homer also, like Thales, set down Water as source and birth of all things, after

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learning [it] from Egyptians; for that Oceanus is Osiris, and Tethys [*1] Isis, as nursing all things and rearing them all up together.

3. For Greeks also call "emission of seed" ap-oysian and "intercourse" syn-oysian, and "son" (yion) from "water" (ydatos) and "moisten" (ysai); [*2] and [they call] Dionysus Hues, as lord of the Moist Nature, in that he is no other than Osiris.

4. In fact, Hellanicus [*3] seems to have heard Osiris called Hu-siris by the priests; for he persists in thus calling the god, presumably from his nature and power of invention. [*4]


^307:4 This paragraph and the next is quoted by Eusebius, Praep. Ev., III. iii. 11.

^307:5 That is Nile.

^308:1 Lit., "pilots"; but presumably here used in a more general sense.

^310:1 As connected with Te'the, the Nurse of all, and identified by some with the Primal Earth; and so signified by the word-play Tethun and tithen-oymenen ("nursing").

^310:2 The word-play runs: ap-ous-ia, sun-ous-ia, hu-ion, hud-atos, hus-ai.

^310:3 The most eminent of the Greek logographers; fl. 553-504 B.C.

^310:4 eyreseus--probably another word-play, heuresis and husiris.


XXXV. 1. That, however, he is the same as Dionysus--who should know better than thou thyself, O Klea, who art Archi-charila [*5] of the Thyiades at Delphi,

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and wast dedicated to the Osiriaca before thou wert born? [*1]

But if for the sake of others we must quote testimonies, let us leave the things that must not be spoken of in their proper place.

2. The rites, however, which the priests perform in burning the Apis, when they transport its body on a raft, in no way fall short of a Bacchic Orgy. For they put on fawn-skins and carry thyrsuses, [*2] and shout and dance just like those inspired at celebrations of the Mysteries of Dionysus.

3. Wherefore many of the Greeks make Dionysus also bull-formed; while the women of the Eleians invoke him praying "the god with the bull's foot to come" to them.

4. The Argives, moreover, give Dionysus the epithet of "bull-born," and they call him up out of the water with the sound of trumpets, casting a lamb into the abyss for the Gate-keeper. [*3] The trumpets they hide in thyrsi, as Socrates has said in his "[Books] on Rites." [*4]

5. The Titanic [Passions] also and the [Dionysian] Night-rites agree with what we are told about the tearings-in-pieces and revivings and palingeneses of Osiris; and similarly the [stories] of the burials.

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6. For both Egyptians point to tombs of Osiris everywhere, as has been said, [*1] and [also] Delphians believe the relics of Dionysus are deposited with them by the side of the Oracle, and the Holy Ones offer an offering, of which we must not speak, in the fane of Apollo, when the Thyiades awake "Him of the winnowing fan."

7. And that Greeks consider Dionysus to be lord and prince not only of wine, but of every moist nature, Pindar witnesses sufficiently when he sings:

May gladsome Dionysus make the pasturage of trees to grow--
Pure light of autumn. [*2]

8. For which cause also they who give worship to Osiris are forbidden to destroy a cultivated tree or to stop up a water-source.


^310:5 The text reads arxikla--an apparently impossible collection of letters. As no one has so far purged the reading, I would suggest xarilan or arxi-xarilan. Stending (in Roscher, s.v.) reminds us of the myth of the orphan maid Charila, who during a famine begged alms at the gate of the palace of the King of ancient Delphi; the King not only refused her, but drove her away slapping her face with his shoe. Whereupon the little maid for shame hanged herself. After the famine was over the Oracle decreed an atonement for her death. And so every nine years an effigy made to represent Charila was done to death, and then carried off by the leader of the Thyiades (or priestesses of Bacchus), and buried, with a rope round its neck, in a gorge. Cf. Harrison (Jane E.), Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (Cambridge, 1903), p. 106. As Klea was leader of the Thyiades, this office fell to her; it may, therefore, even be that her name is some play on Charila.

^311:1 Lit., "from father and mother."

^311:2 Symbolic wands, generally cane-like or knotted like a bamboo, and sometimes wreathed in ivy and vine leaves, with a pine-cone at top.

^311:3 tui pylaoxui.

^311:4 Muller, iv. 498. This was probably Socrates of Cos, who is known to have been the author of a work entitled Epikle'seis theun (e.g. Dion. Laert., ii. 4), meaning either "Prayers to the Gods," or "Surnames of the Gods."

^312:1 Cf. xx. 5.

^312:2 Bergk, i. 433.


XXXVI. 1. And they call not only the Nile, but also without distinction all that is moist, "Osiris' efflux"; and the water-vase always heads the processions of the priests in honour of the God.

2. And with "rush" [*3] they write "king" and the "southern climate" of the cosmos; and "rush" is interpreted as "watering" and "conception" of all things, and is supposed to resemble in its nature the generative member.

3. And when they keep the feast Pamylia, which is phallic, as has been said, [*4] they bring out and carry round an image having a phallus three times the size of it.

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4. For God is source, and every source by the power of generation makes manifold that which comes from it. And "many times" we are accustomed to call "thrice," as, for instance, "thrice-blessed," and "three times as many, endless, bonds" [*1]--unless, indeed, "three fold" was used in its authentic meaning by those of old; for the Moist Nature, as being source and genesis of all, moved from the beginning the first three bodies--earth, air, and fire.

5. For the logos that is superadded to the myth--how that Typhon cast the chief part of Osiris into the river, and Isis could not find it, but after dedicating an object answering to it, and having made it ready, she commanded them to keep the Phallephoria in its honour--comes to this: namely, an instruction that the generative and spermatic [powers] of the God had moisture as their first matter, and by means of moisture were immingled with those things which have been produced to share in genesis.

6. But there is another logos of the Egyptians--that Apophis, as brother of the Sun, made war on Zeus, and that when Osiris fought on his [Zeus'] side and helped him to conquer his foe, Zeus adopted him as his son and called him Dionysus.

7. Moreover, the mythical nature of this logos goes to show that it connects with the truth about nature. For Egyptians call [Cosmic] Breath [*2] Zeus--to which Dry and Fiery is hostile; this [latter] is not the Sun, but it has a certain kinship with him. And Moisture, by quenching the excess of Dryness, increases and strengthens the exhalations by which the Breath nourishes itself and waxes strong.

XXXVII. 1. Moreover, both Greeks consecrate the

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ivy to Dionysus and [also] among Egyptians it is said to be called chen-osiris--the name meaning, they say, "Osiris-plant."

2. Further, Ariston, who wrote Colonies of the Athenians, came across some Letter or other of Alexarchus's, [*1] in which it is related that Dionysus, as son of Osiris and Isis, is not called Osiris but Arsaphes by the Egyptians--([this is] in Ariston's first book)--the name signifying "manliness."

3. Hermaeus also supports this in the first book of his Concerning the Egyptians, for he says that "Osiris" is, when translated, "Strong." [*2]

4. I disregard Mnaseas, [*3] who associated Dionysus and Osiris and Sarapis with Epaphos; [*4] I also disregard Anticleides, [*5] who says that Isis, as daughter of Prometheus, [*6] lived with Dionysus; for the peculiarities which have been stated about the festivals and offerings carry a conviction with them that is clearer than the witnesses [I have produced].

XXXVIII. 1. And of the stars they consider Sirius to be Isis's [*7]--as being a water-bringer. And they honour the Lion, and ornament the doors of the temples with gaping lions' mouths; since Nilus overflows:

When first the Sun doth with the Lion join. [*8]

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2. And as they hold the Nile to be "Osiris's efflux," so too they think earth Isis's body--not all [of it], but what the Nile covers, sowing [her] with seed and mingling with her; and from this intercourse they give birth to Horus.

3. And Horus is the season (ura) and [fair] blend of air that keeps and nourishes all in the atmosphere--who, they say, was nursed by Leto in the marshes round Buto; for the watery and soaked-through earth especially nourishes the exhalations that quench and abate dryness and drought.

4. And they call the extremities of the land, both on the borders and where touching the sea, Nephthys; for which cause they give Nephthys the name of "End," [*1] and say she lives with Typhon.

5. And when the Nile exceeds its boundaries and overflows more than usual, and [so] consorts with the extreme districts, they call it the union of Osiris with Nephthys--proof of which is given by the 'springing up of plants, and especially of the honey-clover, [*2] for it was by its falling [from Osiris] and being left behind that Typhon was made aware of the wrong done to his bed. Hence it is that Isis conceived Horus in lawful wedlock, but Nephthys Anubis clandestinely.

6. In the Successions of the Kings, [*3] however, they record that when Nephthys was married to Typhon, she was at first barren; and if they mean this to apply not to a woman but to their Goddess, they enigmatically refer to the utterly unproductive nature of the land owing to sterility.

XXXIX. 1. The conspiracy and despotism of Typhon, moreover, was the power of drought getting the mastery over and dispersing the moisture which both generates the Nile and increases it.

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2. While his helper, the Aethiopian queen, [*1] riddles southerly winds from Aethiopia. For when these prevail over the Annuals [*2] (which drive the clouds towards Aethiopia), and prevent the rains which swell the Nile from bursting,--Typhon takes possession and scorches; and thus entirely mastering the Nile he forces him out into the sea, contracted into himself through weakness and flowing empty and low.

3. For the fabled shutting-up of Osiris into the coffin is, perhaps, nothing but a riddle of the occultation and disappearance of water. Wherefore they say that Osiris disappeared in the month of Athyr, [*3]--when, the Annuals ceasing entirely, the Nile sinks, and the land is denuded, and, night lengthening, darkness increases, and the power of the light wanes and is mastered, and the priests perform both other melancholy rites, and, covering a cow made entirely of gold [*4] with a black coat of fine linen as a mask of mourning for the Goddess--for they look on the "cow" as an image of Isis and as the earth--they exhibit it for four days from the seventeenth consecutively.

4. For the things mourned for are four: first, the Nile failing and sinking; second, the northern winds being completely extinguished by the southern gaining the mastery; third, the day becoming less than the night; and, finally, the denudation of the earth, together with the stripping of the trees which shed their leaves at that time.

5. And on the nineteenth, at night they go down to the sea; and the keepers and priests carry out the

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sacred chest, having within it a small golden vessel, into which they take and pour fresh water; and shouts are raised by the assistants as though Osiris were found.

6. Afterwards they knead productive soil with the water, and mixing with it sweet spices and fragrant incense, they mould it into a little moon-shaped image of very costly stuffs. And they dress it up and deck it out,--showing that they consider these Gods the essence of earth and water.

XL 1. And when again Isis recovers Osiris and makes Horus grow, strengthened with exhalations and moist clouds,--Typhon is indeed mastered, but not destroyed.

2. For the Mistress and Goddess of the earth did not allow the nature which is the opposite of moisture to be destroyed entirely, but she slackened and weakened it, wishing that the blend should continue; for it was not possible the cosmos should be perfect, had the fiery [principle] ceased and disappeared.

3. And if these things are not said contrary to probability, it is probable also that one need not reject that logos also,--how that Typhon of old got possession of the share of Osiris; for Egypt was [once] sea. [*1]

4. For which cause many [spots] in its mines and mountains are found even to this day to contain shells; and all springs and all wells--and there are great numbers of them--have brackish and bitter water, as though it were the stale residue of the old-time sea collecting together into them.

5. But Horus in time got the better of Typhon,--that, is, a good season of rains setting in, the Nile driving out the sea made the plain reappear by filling it up again with its deposits,--a fact, indeed, to which our

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senses bear witness; for we see even now that as the river brings down fresh mud, and advances the land little by little, the deep water gradually diminishes, and the sea recedes through its bottom being heightened by the deposits.

6. Moreover, [we see] Pharos, which Homer [*1] knew as a day's sail distant from Egypt, now part [and parcel] of it; not that the [island] itself has sailed to land, [*2] or extended itself shorewards, but because the intervening sea has been forced back by the river's reshaping of and adding to the mainland.

7. These [explanations], moreover, resemble the theological dogmas laid down by the Stoics,--for they also say that the generative and nutritive Breath [or Spirit] is Dionysus; the percussive and separative, Heracles; the receptive, Ammon [Zeus]; that which extends through earth and fruits, Demeter and Kore; and that [which extends] through sea, Poseidon. [*3]


^312:3 thruon--confounded by King (in loc.) with thrion, "fig leaf" (perhaps connected with tris, from the three lobes of the leaf); the "rush" is presumably the papyrus.

^312:4 Cf. xii.

^313:1 Bernardakis gives the references as Il., vi. 154 and viii. 340, but I am unable to verify them.

^313:2 Or "Spirit" (pneuma).

^314:1 Ariston and Alexarchus and Hermaeus (cf. xlii. 7) seem to be otherwise unknown to fame.

^314:2 ombrimos = obrimos--strong, virile, manly. Cf. the Eleusinian sacred name Brimos for Iacchos.

^314:3 Flourished latter half of 3rd century B.C.

^314:4 Son of Zeus and Io, born in the Nile, after the long wanderings of his mother. He is fabled by the Greeks to have been subsequently King of Egypt and to have built Memphis. Herodotus (ii. 153; iii. 27, 28) says that Epaphos = Apis.

^314:5 A Greek writer subsequent to the time of Alexander the Great.

^314:6 Cf. iii. 1.

^314:7 But cf. lxi. 5.

^314:8 Aratus, Phoenom., 351.

^315:1 Cf. xii. 6.

^315:2 Cf. xiv. 6.

^315:3 Cf. xi. 4.

^316:1 Aso; cf. xiii. 3.

^316:2 The "Etesian" winds, which, in Egypt blew from the N.W. during the whole summer.

^316:3 Copt. Hathor--corr. roughly with November.

^316:4 Cf. "the golden calf" incident of the Exodus story.

^317:1 Another proof of the common persuasion that there had been a Flood in Egypt.

^318:1 Il., iv. 355.

^318:2 A play on the "day's sail" (dromon) and ana-dramousan.

^318:3 It is, of course, a very poor interpretation of the myth to talk only about floods and desert, sea and rain, etc. These are all facts illustrating the underlying truth, but they are not the real meaning.

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