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But it is to fire and water especially that they offer sacrifice. They throw upon the fire dry wood without the bark, and place fat over it; they then pour oil upon it, and light it below; they do not blow the flame with their breath, but fan it; those who have blown the flame with their breath, or thrown any dead thing or dirt upon the fire, are put to death.

They sacrifice to water by going to a lake, river, or fountain; having dug a pit, they slaughter the victim over it, taking care that none of the pure water near be sprinkled with blood, and thus be polluted. They then lay the flesh in order upon myrtle or laurel branches; the Magi touch it with slender twigs,1 and make incantations, pouring oil mixed with milk and honey, not into the fire, nor into the water, but upon the earth. They continue their incantations for a long time, holding in the hands a bundle of slender myrtle rods.

15 In Cappadocia (for in this country there is a great body of Magi, called Pyræthi,2 and there are many temples dedicated to the Persian deities) the sacrifice is not performed with a knife, but the victim is beaten to death with a log of wood, as with a mallet.

The Persians have also certain large shrines, called Pyrætheia.3 In the middle of these is an altar, on which is a great quantity of ashes, where the Magi maintain an unextinguished fire. They enter daily, and continue their incantation for nearly an hour, holding before the fire a bundle of rods, and wear round their heads high turbans of felt, reaching down on each side so as to cover the lips and the sides of the cheeks. The same customs are observed in the temples of Anaitis and of Omanus. Belonging to these temples are shrines, and a wooden statue of Omanus is carried in procession. These we have seen ourselves.4 Other usages, and such as follow, are related by historians.

1 Roused the sacred fire, as the law bids, Touching the god with consecrated wand. Athenœus xii. 40, p. 850. Bohn's Classical Library.

2 i. e. ‘who kindle fire.’

3 i. e. places where fire s kindled.

4 B. xi. c. viii. § 4.

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