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It is sufficient to say this much concerning the Nile. But concerning Egypt, I am going to speak at length, because it has the most wonders, and everywhere presents works beyond description; therefore, I shall say the more concerning Egypt. Just as the Egyptians have a climate peculiar to themselves, and their river is different in its nature from all other rivers, so, too, have they instituted customs and laws contrary for the most part to those of the rest of mankind. Among them, the women Egypt. Just as the Egyptians have a climate peculiar to themselves, and their river is different in its nature from all other rivers, so, too, have they instituted customs and laws contrary for the most part to those of the rest of mankind. Among them, the women buy and sell, the men stay at home and weave; and whereas in weaving all others push the woof upwards, the Egyptians push it downwards. Men carry burdens on their heads, women on their shoulders. Women pass water standing, men sitting. They ease their bowels indoors, and eat out of doors in the streets, explaining that things unseemly but necessary should be done alone in private, things not unseemly should be done openly. No woman is dedicated to the service of any god or goddess; men are dedi
Everywhere else, priests of the gods wear their hair long; in Egypt, they are shaven. For all other men, the rule in mourning for the dead is that those most nearly concerned have their heads shaven; Egyptians are shaven at other times, but after a death they let their hair and beard grow. The Egyptians are the only people who keep their animals with them in the house. Whereas all others live on wheat and barley, it is the greatest disgrace for an Egyptian to live so; they make food from a coa
hands. The Egyptians and those who have learned it from them are the only people who practise circumcision. Every man has two garments, every woman only one.
The rings and sheets of sails are made fast outside the boat elsewhere, but inside it in Egypt. The Greeks write and calculate from left to right; the Egyptians do the opposite; yet they say that their way of writing is towards the right, and the Greek way towards the left. They employ two kinds of writing; one is called sacred, the other
After leading the marked beast to the altar where they will sacrifice it, they kindle a fire; then they pour wine on the altar over the victim and call upon the god; then they cut its throat, and having done so sever the head from the body. They flay the carcass of the victim, then invoke many curses on its head, which they carry away. Where there is a market, and Greek traders in it, the head is taken to the market and sold; where there are no Greeks, it is thrown into the river. The imprecation which they utter over the heads is that whatever ill threatens those who sacrifice, or the whole of Egypt, fall upon that head. In respect of the heads of sacrificed beasts and the libation of wine, the practice of all Egyptians is the same in all sacrifices; and from this ordinance no Egyptian will taste of the head of anything that had life.
Concerning Heracles, I heard it said that he was one of the twelve gods. But nowhere in Egypt could I hear anything about the other Heracles, whom the Greeks know. I have indeed a lot of other evidence that the name of Heracles did not come from Hellas to Egypt, but from Egypt to Hellas (and in Hellas to those Greeks who gave the name Heracles to the son of Amphitryon), besides this: that AmphiEgypt to Hellas (and in Hellas to those Greeks who gave the name Heracles to the son of Amphitryon), besides this: that Amphitryon and Alcmene, the parents of this Heracles, were both Egyptian by descentAs grandchildren of Perseus, for whose Egyptian origin see Hdt. 2.91. ; and that the Egyptians deny knowing the names Poseidon and the Dioscuri, nor are these gods reckoned among the gods of Egypt. Yet if they got the name of any deity from the Greeks, of these not least but in particular would they preserve a recollec
n better known to the Egyptians than the name of Heracles.
But Heracles is a very ancient god in Egypt; as the Egyptians themselves say, the change of the eight gods to the twelve, one of whom they a
And the Greeks say many other ill-considered things, too; among them, this is a silly story which they tell about Heracles: that when he came to Egypt, the Egyptians crowned him and led him out in a procession to sacrifice him to Zeus; and for a while (they say) he followed quietly, but when they started in on him at the altar, he resisted and killed them all. Now it seems to me that by this story the Greeks show themselves altogether ignorant of the character and customs of the Egyptians; for how should they sacrifice men when they are forbidden to sacrifice even beasts, except swine and bulls and bull-calves, if they are unblemished, and geese? And furthermore, as Heracles was alone, and, still, only a man, as they say, how is it natural that he should kill many myriads? In talking so much about this, may I keep the goodwill of gods and heroes!
In fact, the names of nearly all the gods came to Hellas from Egypt. For I am convinced by inquiry that they have come from foreign parts, and I believe that they came chiefly from Egypt. Except the names of Poseidon and the Dioscuri, as I have already said, and Hera, and Hestia, and Themis, and the Graces, and the Nereids, the naEgypt. Except the names of Poseidon and the Dioscuri, as I have already said, and Hera, and Hestia, and Themis, and the Graces, and the Nereids, the names of all the gods have always existed in Egypt. I only say what the Egyptians themselves say. The gods whose names they say they do not know were, as I think, named by the Pelasgians, except Poseidon, the knowledge of whom they learned from the Libyans. Alone of all nations the Libyans have had among them the name of Poseidon froEgypt. I only say what the Egyptians themselves say. The gods whose names they say they do not know were, as I think, named by the Pelasgians, except Poseidon, the knowledge of whom they learned from the Libyans. Alone of all nations the Libyans have had among them the name of Poseidon from the beginning, and they have always honored this god. The Egyptians, however, are not accustomed to pay any honors to heroes.