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Euterpe   


practices whereof I shall speak hereafter, which the Greeks have
borrowed from Egypt. The peculiarity, however, which they observe in
their statues of Mercury they did not derive from the Egyptians, but
from the Pelasgi; from them the Athenians first adopted it, and
afterwards it passed from the Athenians to the other Greeks. For
just at the time when the Athenians were entering into the Hellenic
body, the Pelasgi came to live with them in their country, whence it
was that the latter came first to be regarded as Greeks. Whoever has
been initiated into the mysteries of the Cabiri will understand what I
mean. The Samothracians received these mysteries from the Pelasgi,
who, before they went to live in Attica, were dwellers in
Samothrace, and imparted their religious ceremonies to the
inhabitants. The Athenians, then, who were the first of all the Greeks
to make their statues of Mercury in this way, learnt the practice from
the Pelasgians; and by this people a religious account of the matter
is given, which is explained in the Samothracian mysteries.
In early times the Pelasgi, as I know by information which I got
at Dodona, offered sacrifices of all kinds, and prayed to the gods,
but had no distinct names or appellations for them, since they had
never heard of any. They called them gods (Theoi, disposers),
because they disposed and arranged all things in such a beautiful
order. After a long lapse of time the names of the gods came to Greece
from Egypt, and the Pelasgi learnt them, only as yet they knew nothing
of Bacchus, of whom they first heard at a much later date. Not long
after the arrival of the names they sent to consult the oracle at
Dodona about them. This is the most ancient oracle in Greece, and at
that time there was no other. To their question, "Whether they
should adopt the names that had been imported from the foreigners?"
the oracle replied by recommending their use. Thenceforth in their
sacrifices the Pelasgi made use of the names of the gods, and from
them the names passed afterwards to the Greeks.
Whence the gods severally sprang, whether or no they had all
existed from eternity, what forms they bore- these are questions of
which the Greeks knew nothing until the other day, so to speak. For
Homer and Hesiod were the first to compose Theogonies, and give the
gods their epithets, to allot them their several offices and
occupations, and describe their forms; and they lived but four hundred
years before my time, as I believe. As for the poets who are thought
by some to be earlier than these, they are, in my judgment,
decidedly later writers. In these matters I have the authority of
the priestesses of Dodona for the former portion of my statements;
what I have said of Homer and Hesiod is my own opinion.
The following tale is commonly told in Egypt concerning the oracle
of Dodona in Greece, and that of Ammon in Libya. My informants on
the point were the priests of Jupiter at Thebes. They said "that two
of the sacred women were once carried off from Thebes by the
Phoenicians, and that the story went that one of them was sold into
Libya, and the other into Greece, and these women were the first
founders of the oracles in the two countries." On my inquiring how
they came to know so exactly what became of the women, they
answered, "that diligent search had been made after them at the
time, but that it had not been found possible to discover where they
were; afterwards, however, they received the information which they
had given me."
This was what I heard from the priests at Thebes; at Dodona,
however, the women who deliver the oracles relate the matter as
follows:- "Two black doves flew away from Egyptian Thebes, and while
one directed its flight to Libya, the other came to them. She alighted
on an oak, and sitting there began to speak with a human voice, and
told them that on the spot where she was, there should henceforth be
an oracle of Jove. They understood the announcement to be from heaven,
so they set to work at once and erected the shrine. The dove which
flew to Libya bade the Libyans to establish there the oracle of
Ammon." This likewise is an oracle of Jupiter. The persons from whom I

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