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Then Lucius gravely and composedly saying, that perhaps the true reason was obscure and not to be divulged, yet they had liberty to venture upon probable conjectures, Theon the grammarian began thus: To demonstrate that Pythagoras was a Tuscan is a great and no easy task. But it is confessed that he conversed a long time with the wise men of Egypt, and imitated a great many of the rites [p. 423] and institutions of the priests, for instance, that about beans. For Herodotus delivers, that the Egyptians neither set nor eat beans, nay, cannot endure to see them; and we all know, that even now the priests eat no fish; and the stricter sort eat no salt, and refuse all meat that is seasoned with it. Various reasons are given for this; but the only true reason is hatred to the sea, as being a disagreeable, or rather naturally a destructive element to man. For they do not imagine that the Gods, as the Stoics did that the stars, were nourished by it. But, on the contrary, they think that the father and preserver of their country, whom they call the deflux of Osiris, is lost in it; and when they bewail him as born on the left hand, and destroyed in the right-hand parts, they intimate to us the ending and corruption of their Nile by the sea. Therefore they do not believe that its water is wholesome, or that any creature produced or nourished in it can be clean or wholesome food for man, since it breathes not the common air, and feeds not on the same food with him. And the air that nourisheth and preserves all other things is destructive to them, as if their production and life were unnecessary and against Nature; nor should we wonder that they think animals bred in the sea to be disagreeable to their bodies, and not fit to mix with their blood and spirits, since when they meet a pilot they will not speak to him, because he gets his living by the sea.

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