previous next
Not only the Nile, but every form of moisture1 they call simply the effusion of Osiris ; and in their holy rites the water jar in honour of the god heads the procession.2 And by the picture of a rush they represent a king and the southern region of the world,3 and the rush is interpreted to mean the watering and fructifying of all things, and in its nature it seems to bear some resemblance to the generative member. [p. 89] Moreover, when they celebrate the festival of the Pamylia which, as has been said,4 is of a phallic nature, they expose and carry about a statue of which the male member is triple5; for the god is the Source, and every source, by its fecundity, multiplies what proceeds from it; and for ‘many times’ we have a habit of saying ‘thrice,’ as, for example, ‘thrice happy,’ 6 and
Bonds, even thrice as many, unnumbered,7
unless, indeed, the word ‘triple’ is used by the early writers in its strict meaning ; for the nature of moisture, being the source and origin of all things, created out of itself three primal material substances, Earth, Air, and Fire. In fact, the tale that is annexed to the legend to the effect that Typhon cast the male member of Osiris into the river, and Isis could not find it, but constructed and shaped a replica of it, and ordained that it should be honoured and borne in processions,8 plainly comes round to this doctrine, that the creative and germinal power of the god, at the very first, acquired moisture as its substance, and through moisture combined with whatever was by nature capable of participating in generation.

There is another tale current among the Egyptians, that Apopis, brother of the Sun, made Avar upon Zeus, and that because Osiris espoused Zeus's cause and helped him to overthrow his enemy, Zeus adopted Osiris as his son and gave him the name of Dionysus. It may be demonstrated that the legend contained in this tale has some approximation to truth so far as [p. 91] Nature is concerned ; for the Egyptians apply the name ‘Zeus’ to the wind,9 and whatever is dry or fiery is antagonistic to this. This is not the Sun, but it has some kinship with the Sun ; and the moisture, by doing away with the excess of dryness, increases and strengthens the exhalations by which the wind is fostered and made vigorous.

1 Cf. 366 a, 371 b, infra, and 729 b.

2 Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis, vi. 31. 1 (p. 758 Potter).

3 Such a symbol exists on Egyptian monuments.

4 355 e, supra.

5 Cf. 371 f, infra, Herodotus, ii. 48, and Egyptian monuments.

6 Homer, Od. v. 306, and vi. 154. It is interesting that G. H. Palmer translates this ‘most happy.’

7 Ibid. viii. 340.

8 Cf. 358 b, supra.

9 Cf. Diodorus, i. 12. 2.

load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1889)
load focus English (Goodwin, 1874)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: