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Wherefore in the study of these matters it is especially necessary that we adopt, as our guide in these mysteries, the reasoning that comes from philosophy, and consider reverently each one of the things that are said and done, so that, to quote Theodorus,1 who said that while he offered the good word with his right hand some of his auditors received it in their left, we may not thus err by accepting in a different spirit the things that the laws have dictated admirably concerning the sacrifices and festivals. The fact that everything is to be referred to reason we may gather from the Egyptians themselves ; for on the nineteenth day of the first month, when they are holding festival in honour of Hermes, they eat honey and a fig; and as they eat they say, ‘A sweet [p. 159] thing is Truth.’ The amulet2 of Isis, which they traditionally assert that she hung about her neck, is interpreted ‘a true voice.’ And Harpocrates is not to be regarded as an imperfect and an infant god, nor some deity or other that protects legumes, but as the representative and corrector of unseasoned, imperfect, and inarticulate reasoning about the gods among mankind. For this reason he keeps his finger on his lips in token of restrained speech or silence. In the month of Mesorê they bring to him an offering of legumes and say, ‘The tongue is luck, the tongue is god.’ Of the plants in Egypt they say that the persea is especially consecrated to the goddess because its fruit resembles a heart and its leaf a tongue. The fact is that nothing of mans usual possessions is more divine than reasoning, especially reasoning about the gods ; and nothing has a greater influence toward happiness. For this reason we give instructions to anyone who comes down to the oracle here to think holy thoughts and to speak words of good omen. But the mass of mankind act ridiculously in their processions and festivals in that they proclaim at the outset the use of words of good omen,3 but later they both say and think the most unhallowed thoughts about the very gods.

1 Cf. Moralia, 467 b.

2 Cf. 377 b, supra.

3 The regular proclamation (εὐφημεῖτε) used by the Greeks at the beginning of any ceremony.

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