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Formerly, in all their sacrifices, the Pelasgians called upon gods without giving name or appellation to any (I know this, because I was told at Dodona); for as yet they had not heard of such. They called them godsOn the supposition that qeo/s meant “a disposer,” connected with qesmo/s, ti/qhmi, etc. from the fact that, besides setting everything in order, they maintained all the dispositions. Then, after a long while, first they learned the names of the rest of the gods, which came to them from Egypt, and, much later, the name of Dionysus; and presently they asked the oracle at Dodona about the names; for this place of divination, held to be the most ancient in Hellas, was at that time the only one. When the Pelasgians, then, asked at Dodona whether they should adopt the names that had come from foreign parts, the oracle told them to use the names. From that time onwards they used the names of the gods in their sacrifices; and the Greeks received these later from the Pelasgian
But about the oracles in Hellas, and that one which is in Libya, the Egyptians give the following account. The priests of Zeus of Thebes told me that two priestesses had been carried away from Thebes by Phoenicians; one, they said they had heard was taken away and sold in Libya, the other in Hellas; these women, they said, were the first founders of places of divination in the aforesaid countries. When I asked them how it was that they could speak with such certain knowledge, they said in repestesses had been carried away from Thebes by Phoenicians; one, they said they had heard was taken away and sold in Libya, the other in Hellas; these women, they said, were the first founders of places of divination in the aforesaid countries. When I asked them how it was that they could speak with such certain knowledge, they said in reply that their people had sought diligently for these women, and had never been able to find them, but had learned later the story which they were telling me.
But my own belief about it is this. If the Phoenicians did in fact carry away the sacred women and sell one in Libya and one in Hellas, then, in my opinion, the place where this woman was sold in what is now Hellas, but was formerly called Pelasgia, was Thesprotia; and then, being a slave there, she established a shrine of Zeus under an oak that was growing there; for it was reasonable that, as she had been a handmaid of the temple of Zeus at Thebes , she would remember that temple in the land what is now Hellas, but was formerly called Pelasgia, was Thesprotia; and then, being a slave there, she established a shrine of Zeus under an oak that was growing there; for it was reasonable that, as she had been a handmaid of the temple of Zeus at Thebes , she would remember that temple in the land to which she had come. After this, as soon as she understood the Greek language, she taught divination; and she said that her sister had been sold in Libya by the same Phoenicians who sold her.
So much, then, for the fish. The Egyptians who live around the marshes use an oil drawn from the castor-berry, which they call kiki. They sow this plant, which grows wild in Hellas, on the banks of the rivers and lakes; sown in Egypt, it produces abundant fruit, though malodorous; when they gather this, some bruise and press it, others boil after roasting it, and collect the liquid that comes from it. This is thick and useful as oil for lamps, and gives off a strong smell.
For this reason Egypt was intersected. This king also (they said) divided the country among all the Egyptians by giving each an equal parcel of land, and made this his source of revenue, assessing the payment of a yearly tax. And any man who was robbed by the river of part of his land could come to Sesostris and declare what had happened; then the king would send men to look into it and calculate the part by which the land was diminished, so that thereafter it should pay in proportion to the tax originally imposed. From this, in my opinion, the Greeks learned the art of measuring land; the sunclock and the sundial, and the twelve divisions of the day, came to Hellas from Babylonia and not from Egypt.
When Thonis heard it, he sent this message the quickest way to Proteus at Memphis: “A stranger has come, a Trojan, who has committed an impiety in Hellas. After defrauding his guest-friend, he has come bringing the man's wife and a very great deal of wealth, driven to your country by the wind. Are we to let him sail away untouched, or are we to take away what he has come with?” Proteus sent back this message: “Whoever this is who has acted impiously against his guest-friend, seize him and bring him to me, that I may know what he will s
With regard to these two, Pan and Dionysus, one may follow whatever story one thinks most credible; but I give my own opinion concerning them here. Had Dionysus son of Semele and Pan son of Penelope appeared in Hellas and lived there to old age, like Heracles the son of Amphitryon, it might have been said that they too (like Heracles) were but men, named after the older Pan and Dionysus, the gods of antiquity; but as it is, the Greek story has it that no sooner was Dionysus born than Zeus sewed him up in his thigh and carried him away to Nysa in Ethiopia beyond Egypt; and as for Pan, the Greeks do not know what became of him after his birth. It is therefore plain to me that the Greeks learned the names of these two gods later than the names of all the others, and trace the birth of both to the time when they gained the knowledge.