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This is not quite the case : but they do lament for their crops and they do pray to the gods, who are the authors and givers, that they produce and cause to grow afresh other new crops to take the place of those that are undergoing destruction. Hence it is an excellent saying current [p. 165] among philosophers that they that have not learned to interpret rightly the sense of words are wont to bungle their actions.1 For example, there are some among the Greeks who have not learned nor habituated themselves to speak of the bronze, the painted, and the stone effigies as statues of the gods and dedications in their honour, but they call them gods ; and then they have the effrontery to say that Lachares stripped Athena,2 that Dionysius sheared Apollo of the golden locks, and that Jupiter Capitolinus was burned and destroyed in the Civil War,3 and thus they unwittingly take over and accept the vicious opinions that are the concomitants of these names.

This has been to no small degree the experience of the Egyptians in regard to those animals that are held in honour. In these matters the Greeks are correct in saying and believing that the dove is the sacred bird of Aphroditê, that the serpent is sacred to Athena, the raven to Apollo, and the dog to Artemis - as Euripides4 says,

Dog you shall be, pet of bright Hecatê.
But the great majority of the Egyptians, in doing service to the animals themselves and in treating them as gods, have not only filled their sacred offices with ridicule and derision, but this is the least of the evils connected with their silly practices. There is engendered a dangerous belief, which plunges the weak and innocent into sheer superstition, and in the case of the [p. 167] more cynical and bold, goes off into atheistic and brutish reasoning.5 Wherefore it is not inappropriate to rehearse in some detail what seem to be the facts in these matters.

1 Cf. Moralia, 707 f.

2 The gold was removed by him from the chryselephantine statue of Athena in the Parthenon; cf. W. B. Dinsmoor, Amer. Journ. Arch. xxxviii. (1934) p. 97.

3 July 6, 83 b.c., according to Life of Sulla, chap. xxvii. (469 b). The numerous references may be found in Roscher, Lexikon der gr. und röm. Mythologie, ii. 714.

4 Nauck, Trag. Frag. Graec., Euripides, no. 968.

5 See the note on 355 d, supra.

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