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Pages of Euterpe

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them outside. When they write or calculate, instead of going, like the
Greeks, from left to right, they move their hand from right to left;
and they insist, notwithstanding, that it is they who go to the right,
and the Greeks who go to the left. They have two quite different kinds
of writing, one of which is called sacred, the other common.
They are religious to excess, far beyond any other race of men,
and use the following ceremonies:- They drink out of brazen cups,
which they scour every day: there is no exception to this practice.
They wear linen garments, which they are specially careful to have
always fresh washed. They practise circumcision for the sake of
cleanliness, considering it better to be cleanly than comely. The
priests shave their whole body every other day, that no lice or
other impure thing may adhere to them when they are engaged in the
service of the gods. Their dress is entirely of linen, and their shoes
of the papyrus plant: it is not lawful for them to wear either dress
or shoes of any other material. They bathe twice every day in cold
water, and twice each night; besides which they observe, so to
speak, thousands of ceremonies. They enjoy, however, not a few
advantages. They consume none of their own property, and are at no
expense for anything; but every day bread is baked for them of the
sacred corn, and a plentiful supply of beef and of goose's flesh is
assigned to each, and also a portion of wine made from the grape. Fish
they are not allowed to eat; and beans- which none of the Egyptians
ever sow, or eat, if they come up of their own accord, either raw or
boiled- the priests will not even endure to look on, since they
consider it an unclean kind of pulse. Instead of a single priest, each
god has the attendance of a college, at the head of which is a chief
priest; when one of these dies, his son is appointed in his room.
Male kine are reckoned to belong to Epaphus, and are therefore
tested in the following manner:- One of the priests appointed for
the purpose searches to see if there is a single black hair on the
whole body, since in that case the beast is unclean. He examines him
all over, standing on his legs, and again laid upon his back; after
which he takes the tongue out of his mouth, to see if it be clean in
respect of the prescribed marks (what they are I will mention
elsewhere); he also inspects the hairs of the tail, to observe if they
grow naturally. If the animal is pronounced clean in all these various
points, the priest marks him by twisting a piece of papyrus round
his horns, and attaching thereto some sealing-clay, which he then
stamps with his own signet-ring. After this the beast is led away; and
it is forbidden, under the penalty of death, to sacrifice an animal
which has not been marked in this way.
The following is their manner of sacrifice:- They lead the victim,
marked with their signet, to the altar where they are about to offer
it, and setting the wood alight, pour a libation of wine upon the
altar in front of the victim, and at the same time invoke the god.
Then they slay the animal, and cutting off his head, proceed to flay
the body. Next they take the head, and heaping imprecations on it,
if there is a market-place and a body of Greek traders in the city,
they carry it there and sell it instantly; if, however, there are no
Greeks among them, they throw the head into the river. The imprecation
is to this effect:- They pray that if any evil is impending either
over those who sacrifice, or over universal Egypt, it may be made to
fall upon that head. These practices, the imprecations upon the heads,
and the libations of wine, prevail all over Egypt, and extend to
victims of all sorts; and hence the Egyptians will never eat the
head of any animal.
The disembowelling and burning are, however, different in
different sacrifices. I will mention the mode in use with respect to
the goddess whom they regard as the greatest, and honour with the
chiefest festival. When they have flayed their steer they pray, and
when their prayer is ended they take the paunch of the animal out
entire, leaving the intestines and the fat inside the body; they
then cut off the legs, the ends of the loins, the shoulders, and the

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