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Nothing that is irrational or fabulous or prompted by superstition, as some believe, has ever been given a place in their rites, but in them are some things that have moral and practical values, and others that are not without their share in the refinements of history or natural science, as, for example, that which has to do with the onion. For the tale that Dictys, the nurseling of Isis, in reaching for a clump of onions, fell into the river and was drowned is extremely incredible. But the priests keep themselves clear of the onion1 and detest it and are careful to avoid it, because it is the only plant that naturally thrives and flourishes in the waning of the moon. It is suitable for neither fasting nor festival, because in the one case it causes thirst and in the other tears for those who partake of it.

In like manner they hold the pig to be an unclean animal,2 because it is reputed to be most inclined to mate in the waning of the moon, and because the bodies of those who drink its milk break out with leprosy and scabrous itching.3 The story which they relate at their only sacrifice and eating of a pig at the time of the full moon, how Typhon, while he was pursuing a boar by the light of the full moon, found the wooden coffin in which lay the body of Osiris, which he rent to pieces and scattered,4 they do not [p. 23] all accept, believing it to be a misrepresentation, even as many other things are.

Moreover, they relate that the ancient Egyptians put from them luxury, lavishness, and self-indulgence, to such a degree that they used to say that there was a pillar standing in the temple at Thebes which had inscribed upon it curses against Meinis,5 their king, who was the first to lead the Egyptians to quit their frugal, thrifty, and simple manner of living. It is said also that Technactis,6 the father of Bocchoris,7 when he was leading his army against the Arabians, because his baggage was slow in arriving, found pleasure in eating such common food as was available, and afterwards slept soundly on a bedding of straw, and thus became fond of frugal living ; as the result, he invoked a curse on Meinis, and, with the approval of the priests, had a pillar set up with the curse inscribed upon it.

1 Cf. Aulus Gellius, xx. 8.

2 Cf. Herodotus, ii. 47.

3 Cf. Moralia, 670 f; Aelian, De Natura Animalium, x. 16; Tacitus, Histories, v. 4.

4 Cf. 358 a, infra.

5 Usually known as Menes. The name is variously written by Greek authors as Min, Minaeus, Meneus, Menas. According to tradition he was the first king of Egypt. His reign is put circa 3500 or 3400 b.c. Cf. Herodotus, ii. 4. In Diodorus, i. 45, is found this same story.

6 Tefnakhte (also spelled Tnephachthos or Tnephachtho by Greek writers), after much fighting, made himself king of Lower Egypt circa 725 b.c.

7 Bekneranef, king of Egypt circa 718-712 b.c., was, according to Greek tradition, a wise and just ruler. An apocryphal story about him may be found in Aelian, De Natura Animalium, xii. 3.

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