The Library of History

Page 45

Page 45 whose Shapes they had assum'd) should be fed while they were alive, and how they were to be Buried when they were dead. Another Reason they give is this: The antient Egyptians, they say, being often defeated by the Neighbouring Nations, by reason of the disorder and confusion that was among them in drawing up of their Battalions, found out at last the way of Carrying Standards or Ensigns before their Several Regiments; and therefore they painted the Images of these Beasts, which now they adore, and fixt 'em at the end of a Spear, which the Officers carry'd before them, and by this means every Man perfectly knew the Regiment he belong'd unto; and being that by the Observation of this good Order and Discipline, they were often Victorious, they afcrib'd their Deliverance to these Creatures; and to make to them a grateful Return, it was ordain'd for a Law, that none of these Creatures, whose Representations were formerly thus carry'd, should be kill'd, but religiously and carefully ador'd, as is before related. The Third Reason alledg'd by them, is the Profit and Advantage these Creatures bring to the common support and maintenance of Humane Life. For the Cow is both serviceable to the Plow, and for breeding others for the same use. The Sheep yeans twice a Year, and yields Wool for Cloathing and Ornament, and of her Milk and Cream are made large and pleasant Cheefes. The Dog is useful both for the Guard of the House, and the pleasure of Hunting in the Field, and therefore their God whom they call Anubis, they represent with a Dog's Head, signifying thereby that a Dog was the Guard both to Osiris and Isis. Others say, that when they sought for Osiris, Dogs guided Isis, and by their barking and yelling (as kind and faithful Associates with the Inquisitors) drove away the wild Beasts, and diverted others that were in their way; and therefore in celebrating the Feast of Isis, Dogs lead the way in the Procession. Those that first instituted this Custom, signifying thereby the ancient kindness and good Service of this Creature. The Cat likewise is very serviceable against the Venemous Stings of Serpents, and the deadly Bite of the Asp. The Ichneumenon secretly watches where the Crocodile lays her Eggs, and breaks them in pieces, and that he does with a great deal of eagerness, by natural instinct, without any necessity for his own support; and if this Creature were not thus serviceable, Crocodiles would abound to that degree, that there were no Sailing in Nile: Yea, the Crocodiles themselves are destroy'd by this Creature in a wonderful and incredible manner. For the Ichneumenon rouls himself in the Mud, and then observing the Crocodile sleeping upon the Bank of the River with his Mouth wide open, suddenly whips down through his Throat into his very Bowels, and presently gnaws his way through his Belly, and so escapes himself, with the Death of his Enemy. Among the Birds, the Ibis is serviceable for the destroying of Snakes, Locusts and the Palmer Worm. The Kite is an Enemy to the Scorpions, horn'd Serpents, and other little Creatures, that both bite and sting Men to Death. Others say, that this Bird is Deify'd, because the Augurs make use of the swift flight of these Birds in their Divinations. Others say, that in ancient Time, a Book bound about with a Scarlet Thred (wherein were written all the Rites and Customs of Worshipping of the Gods) was carry'd by a Kite, and brought to the Priests at Thebes: For which Reason the Sacred Scribes wore a red Cap with a Kite's Feather in it.

The Thebans worship the Eagle, because she seems to be a Royal Bird, and to deserve the Adoration due to Jupiter himself. They say, the Goat was accounted amongst the number of the Gods, for the sake of his Genitals, as Priapus is honour'd among the Grecians: For this Creature is exceeding Lustful, and therefore they say that Member (the Instrument of Generation) is to be highly honour'd, as that from which all living Creatures derive their Original. They say that these Privy Parts are not only accounted Sacred among the Egyptians, but among many others, are religiously ador'd in the time of their Solemn Rites of religious Worship, as those Parts that are the Causes of Generation. And the Priests, who succeed in the Office, descended to them from their Fathers in Egypt, are first initiated into the Service of this God. For this Reason the Panes and Satyrs are greatly ador'd among them, and therefore they have Images of them set up in their Temples, with their Privy Parts erected like to the Goat, which they say, is the most lustful Creature in the World. By this Representation they would signify their Gratitude to the Gods, for the Populousness of their Country.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books