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BAS´SARA, BAS´SARIS (βασσάρα, κασσάρα), meant originally a fox

Isis with Basilium. (Wilkinson,
Ancient Egyptians,
iii. p. 233.)

(Tzetz. ad Lycophr. 771; cf. βασσάριον in Hdt. 4.192). In the Egyptian hieroglyphics, the fox is called wasar, Coptic basor (Schwartz, Das alte Aegypten, 971); and Egyptian priests are found represented in

Bassara, dress of a Bacchante. (From a Greek vase in the British Museum.)

what seem to be fox-skins, when officiating (Rosellini, vol. ii. plate lxiv. ; Lepsius, Denkmäler, 2.112, 128). Accordingly, the word probably came from Egypt, was carried by Phoenician [p. 1.294]merchants to Cyrene (Hesych. sub voce βάσσαρις), and hence to Lydia and Thrace (Tzetz. ad Lycophr. 771, 1343), where it appears as the dress of the Bacchanals. It is described as variegated, and reaching down to the feet (Bekk. Anecd. 222, 26; cf. Aesch. Frag. Edon.; Poll. 9.59); but Lenormant supposes that the term βασσάρα was applied to the long robe as fastened in with a fox-skin, wound round the upper part of the body, and that the whole costume got its name from the fox-skin fastening. Bassareus was a name given to the Lydian Dionysus, but there is no genuine Hellenic example of a fox in connexion with Dionysus as it appears on Lydian coins. The name βασσάρα was also given to a kind of shoe (Etym. Magn. s. v.) worn by the Lydian Bassareus and made of fox-skin, as that of the Greek Dionysus was of fawn-skin. (See Lenormant in D. and S.; S. Reinisch in Pauly, and Schultz in Roscher's Ausführl. Lexikon der griech. und röm. Mythologie, s. v.)


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