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These then are most of the heads of this fabular narration, the more harsh and coarse parts (such as the description of Horus and the beheading of Isis) being taken out. If therefore they say and believe such things as these of the blessed and incorruptible nature (which is [p. 82] the best conception we can have of divinity) as really thus done and happening to it, I need not tell you that you ought to spit and to make clean your mouth (as Aeschylus speaks) at the mentioning of them. For you are sufficiently averse of yourself to such as entertain such wicked and barbarous sentiments concerning the Gods. And yet that these relations are nothing akin to those foppish tales and vain fictions which poets and story-tellers are wont, like spiders, to spin out of their own bowels, without any substantial ground or foundation for them, and then weave and wire-draw them out at their own pleasures, but contain in them certain abstruse questions and rehearsals of events, you yourself are, I suppose, convinced. And as mathematicians do assert the rainbow to be an appearance of the sun so variegated by reflection of its rays in a cloud, so likewise the fable here related is the appearance of some doctrine whose meaning is transferred by reflection to some other matter; as is plainly suggested to us as well by the sacrifices themselves, in which there appears something lamentable and very sad, as by the forms and makes of their temples, which sometimes run out themselves into wings, and into open and airy circs, and at other times again have under ground certain private cells, resembling vaults and tombs. And this is most plainly hinted to us by the opinion received about those of Osiris, because his body is said to be interred in so many different places. Though it may be they will tell you that some one town, such as Abydos or Memphis, is named for the place where his true body lies; and that the most powerful and wealthy among the Egyptians are most ambitious to be buried at Abydos, that so they may be near the body of their God Osiris; and that the Apis is fed at Memphis, because he is the image of Osiris's soul, where also they will have it that his body is interred. Some also interpret the name of this city to signify the haven of good things, and others, [p. 83] the tomb of Osiris. They add, that the little island at Philae is at other times inaccessible and not to be approached to by any man, and that the very birds dare not venture to fly over it nor the fish to touch upon its banks; yet upon a certain set time the priests go over into it, and there perform the accustomed rites for the dead, and crown his tomb, which stands there shaded over by a tree called methida, exceeding any olive in bigness.

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load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1889)
load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1936)
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