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There remain, then, their usefulness and their symbolism ; of these two, some of the animals share in the one, and many share in both. It is clear that the Egyptians have honoured the cow, the sheep, and [p. 173] the ichneumon because of their need for these animals and their usefulness. Even so the people of Lemnos hold larks in honour because they seek out the eggs of the locust and destroy them ; and so the people of Thessaly honour storks,1 because, when their land produced many snakes,2 the storks appeared and destroyed them all. For this reason they passed a law that whoever killed a stork should be banished from the country. The Egyptians also honoured the asp, the weasel, and the beetle, since they observed in them certain dim likenesses of the power of the gods, like images of the sun in drops of water. There are still many people who believe and declare that the weasel conceives through its ear and brings forth its young by way of the mouth, and that this is a parallel of the generation of speech. The race of beetles has no female,3 but all the males eject their sperm into a round pellet of material which they roll up by pushing it from the opposite side, just as the sun seems to turn the heavens in the direction opposite to its own course, which is from west to east. They compare the asp to lightning, since it does not grow old and manages to move with ease and suppleness without the use of limbs.

1 Cf. Aristotle, De Mirabilibus Ausc. 23 (832 a 14); Pliny, Natural History, x. 31. 62; Stephanus Byzant. s.v. Θεσσαλία.

2 Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus, ii. 39. 6; Plutarch's source may have been Theophrastus, Frag. 174. 6 (Wimmer, vol. iii. p. 220).

3 Cf. the note on 355 a, supra.

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