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The crocodile,1 certainly, has acquired honour which is not devoid of a plausible reason, but he is declared to be a living representation of God, since he is the only creature without a tongue ; for the Divine Word has no need of a voice, and [p. 175]
through noiseless ways advancing, guides
By Justice all affairs of mortal men.2
They say that the crocodile is the only animal living in the water which has a thin and transparent membrane extending down from his forehead to cover up his eyes, so that he can see without being seen ; and this prerogative belongs also unto the First God. In whatever part of the land the female crocodile lays her eggs, well she knows that this is destined to mark the limit of the rise of the Nile3; for the females, being unable to lay their eggs in the water and afraid to lay them far from it, have such an accurate perception of the future that they make use of the oncoming river as a guide in laying their eggs and in keeping them warm; and thus they preserve them dry and untouched by the water. They lay sixty eggs4 and hatch them in the same number of days, and those crocodiles that live longest live that number of years : the number sixty is the first of measures for such persons as concern themselves with the heavenly bodies.

Of the animals that are held in honour for both reasons, mention has already been made of the dog.5 The ibis,6 which kills the deadly creeping things, was the first to teach men the use of medicinal purgations when they observed her employing clysters and being purged by herself.7 The most strict of the priests take their lustral water for purification from a place where the ibis has drunk8: for she does not drink [p. 177] water if it is unwholesome or tainted, nor will she approach it. By the spreading of her feet, in their relation to each other and to her bill, she makes an equilateral triangle.9 Moreover the variety and combination of her black feathers with her white picture the moon in its first quarter.

There is no occasion for surprise that the Egyptians were so taken with such slight resemblances ; for the Greeks in their painted and sculptured portrayals of the gods made use of many such. Tor example, in Crete there was a statue of Zeus having no ears ; for it is not fitting for the Ruler and Lord of all to listen to anyone. Beside the statue of Athena Pheidias placed the serpent and in Elis beside the statue of Aphroditê the tortoise,10 to indicate that maidens need watching, and that for married women staying at home and silence is becoming. The trident of Poseidon is a symbol of the Third Region where the sea holds sway, for it. has been assigned to a demesne of less importance than the heavens and the air. For this reason they thus named Amphitritê and the Tritons.11

The Pythagoreans embellished also numbers and figures with the appellations of the gods. The equilateral triangle they called Athena, born from the head and third-born, because it is divided by three perpendiculars drawn from its three angles. The number one they called Apollo12 because of its rejection of plurality13 and because of the singleness of [p. 179] unity. The number two they called ‘Strife,’ and ‘Daring,’ and three they called ‘Justice,’ for, although the doing of injustice and suffering from injustice are caused by deficiency and excess, Justice, by reason of its equality, intervenes between the two. The so-called sacred quaternion, the number thirtysix, was, so it is famed, the mightiest of oaths, and it has been given the name of ‘World’ since it is made up of the first four even numbers and the first four odd numbers added together.

1 Cf. Herodotus, ii. 69.

2 Euripides, Troades, 887-888; cf. Plutarch, Moralia, 1007 c.

3 Ibid. 982 c; Aristotle, Hist. Animalium, v. 33 (558 a 17).

4 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animalium, ii. 33, v. 52.

5 Supra, 355 b and 368 f.

6 Cf. Diodorus, i. 87. 6.

7 Cf. Aelian, De Natura Animalium, ii. 35; Pliny, Natural History, x. 40 (75).

8 Cf. Moralia, 974 c; Aelian, De Natura Animalium, vii. 45.

9 Cf. Moralia, 670 c.

10 Cf. Moralia, 142 d; Pausanias, vi. 25. 2.

11 An effort to derive these names from τρίτος, ‘third.’

12 Cf. the note on 354 f, supra.

13 Cf. 393 b, infra.

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