), is in reality the name of a peculiar kind of conical shaped stones, which were erected as symbols of gods in remarkable places, and were from time to time anointed with oil, wine, or blood.
The custom of setting up such stones originated, in all probability, in meteors being erected in the places where they had fallen down. (Phot. Bibl. 242
.) Eusebius (Praep. Evang.
1.10) says, that Baetyli were believed to be stones endowed with souls and created by Uranus. Hence Baetylus, when personified, is called a son of Uranus and Ge, and a brother of Ilus and Cronos. Traces of the veneration paid to such stones are found among the Hebrews and Phoenicians, no less than among the Greeks. Photius (l.c.
) says, that Asclepiades ascended mount Libanon, in the neighbourhood of Heliopolis in Syria, and saw many Baetyli there, concerning which he related the most wonderful tales. (Comp. Lucian, Alex.
30; Theophrast. Charact.
16; Clem. Al. Strom. vii. p. 713
.) In Grecian mythology, the stone which was given to Uranus, to swallow instead of the infant Zeus, was called Baetylus (Hesych. s. v.
); and a little above the temple of Delphi, on the left, there was a stone which was anointed with oil every day, and on solemn occasions covered with raw wool : tradition said, that this stone was the same which Uranus had swallowed. (Paus. 9.24.5
; comp. 7.22.3; Tac. Hist. 2.3