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CONCERNING THE DIVINATION OF THE ARABS

FROM THE SAME1

[APPIAN says, at the end of his twenty-fourth book:] While I was once fleeing from the Jews, during the war that occurred in Egypt, and was passing through Arabia Petræa to a river where a small boat was waiting to convey me to Pelusium, an Arab was conducting me on my journey by night, and as I thought we were nearing the boat, a raven croaked, just before dawn, and the Arab exclaimed, in alarm, "We have lost our way." Again the raven croaked, and he said, "We are lost completely." While I was troubled and was looking around for a guide, but could find none (as it was still very early in the morning and in a hostile country), the Arab heard the bird a third time, and joyfully exclaimed, "We are lost for our own good, and we shall find our road." I smiled at the idea of our finding our lost road and gave myself up to despair, being surrounded by enemies on all sides and unable to turn back on account of those behind me, to escape whom I had come hither. And so, for want of any other resource, I followed, surrendering myself to the oracle. While I was in this condition another river appeared unexpectedly, one very near to Pelusium, and also a trireme bound for that place, in which I embarked and was saved. The small boat that was waiting for me in the other river was captured by the Jews. So remarkable was the good fortune that I enjoyed and so great was my astonishment at the oracle. These men are very religious, they are skilled in the art of divination, they are tillers of the soil, and they understand the use of drugs. It is probable that, finding good land in Egypt (being agriculturists), and a race like themselves devoted to religion, practising divination, and not inexperienced in drugs and astrology, they were pleased to abide there as among people of like habits with themselves.

1 This fragment was first published in the Revue Archæologique, in 1869, by C. Miller, from a manuscript not indicated. It appears from the following note of Mendelssohn (ii. 1) that it was known to the monks of Mount Athos earlier: "As regards the matter related to Grævius by a certain Greek named Jeremiah, concerning various unpublished fragments of Appian, which have been preserved on Mount Athos (see Burmann, ep. syll. vol. iv. p. 69), he seems to have had in mind the fragment of the twenty-fourth book, published by Miller and more lately by Treu."

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