previous next
Nor had the crocodile his honor given him without a show of probable reason for it; but it is reported to have been produced by a representation of God, it being the only animal that is without tongue. For the divine discourse hath no need of voice, but ‘marching by still and silent ways, it guides mortal affairs by equal justice.’ 1 Besides, they say he is the only animal that lives in water that hath his eye-sight covered over with a thin and transparent film, descending down from his forehead, so that he sees without being seen himself by others, in which he agrees with the first God. Moreover, in what place soever in the country the female crocodile lays her eggs, that may be certainly concluded to be the utmost extent of the rise of the river Nile for that year. For not being able to lay in the water, and being afraid to lay far from it, they have so exact a knowledge of futurity, that though they enjoy the benefit of the approaching stream at their laying and hatching, they yet preserve their eggs dry and untouched by the water. And they lay sixty in all, and are just as many days a hatching them, and the longest lived of them live as many years; that being the first measure which those that are employed about the heavens make use of. But of those animals that were honored for both reasons, we have already treated of the dog; but now the ibis, besides that he killeth all deadly and poisonous vermin, was also the first that taught men the evacuation of the [p. 133] belly by clysters, she being observed to be after this manner washed and purged by herself. Those also of the priests that are the strictest observers of their sacred rites, when they consecrate water for lustration, use to fetch it from some place where the ibis has been drinking; for she will neither taste nor come near any unwholesome or infectious water. Besides, with her two legs standing at large and her bill, she maketh an equilateral triangle; and the speckledness and mixture of her feathers, where there are black ones about the white, signify the gibbousness of the moon on either side.

1 Euripides, Troad. 887.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1889)
load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1936)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: