previous next
Of the stars the Egyptians think that the Dog-star is the star of Isis,1 because it is the bringer of water.2 They also hold the Lion in honour, and they [p. 93] adorn the doorways of their shrines with gaping lions' heads,3 because the Nile overflows
When for the first time the Sun comes into conjunction with Leo.4

As they regard the Nile as the effusion of Osiris,5 so they hold and believe the earth to be the body of Isis, not all of it, but so much of it as the Nile covers, fertilizing it and uniting with it.6 From this union they make Horus to be born. The all-conserving and fostering Hora, that is the seasonable tempering of the surrounding air, is Horus, who they say was brought up by Leto in the marshes round about Buto7; for the watery and saturated land best nurtures those exhalations which quench and abate aridity and dryness.

The outmost parts of the land beside the mountains and bordering on the sea the Egyptians call Nephthys. This is why they give to Nephthys the name of ‘Finality,’ 8 and say that she is the wife of Typhon. Whenever, then, the Nile overflows and with abounding waters spreads far away to those who dwell in the outermost regions, they call this the union of Osiris with Nephthys,9 which is proved by the upspringing of the plants. Among these is the melilotus,10 by the wilting and failing of which, as the story goes, Typhon gained knowledge of the wrong done to his bed. So Isis gave birth to Horus in lawful wedlock, but Nephthys bore Anubis clandestinely. However, in the chronological lists of the kings they record that [p. 95] Nephthys, after her marriage to Typhon, was at first barren. If they say this, not about a woman, but about the goddess, they must mean by it the utter barrenness and unproduetivity of the earth resulting from a hard-baked soil.

1 Cf. 359 d, supra, and 376 a, infra.

2 In the Nile.

3 Cf. Moralia, 670 c; Horapollo, Hieroglyphica, i. 21.

4 Aratus, Phaenomena, 151. The Dog-star rises at about the same time.

5 Cf. the note on 365 b, supra.

6 Cf. 363 d, supra.

7 Cf. 357 f, supra.

8 Cf. 355 f, supra, and 375 b, infra.

9 Cf. the note on 356 e, supra.

10 Cf. 356 f, supra.

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