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Pages of Euterpe

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all the hair, or else half, or sometimes a third part, which they then
weigh in a balance against a sum of silver; and whatever sum the
hair weighs is presented to the guardian of the animals, who thereupon
cuts up some fish, and gives it to them for food- such being the stuff
whereon they are fed. When a man has killed one of the sacred animals,
if he did it with malice prepense, he is punished with death; if
unwittingly, he has to pay such a fine as the priests choose to
impose. When an ibis, however, or a hawk is killed, whether it was
done by accident or on purpose, the man must needs die.
The number of domestic animals in Egypt is very great, and would
be still greater were it not for what befalls the cats. As the
females, when they have kittened, no longer seek the company of the
males, these last, to obtain once more their companionship, practise a
curious artifice. They seize the kittens, carry them off, and kill
them, but do not cat them afterwards. Upon this the females, being
deprived of their young, and longing to supply their place, seek the
males once more, since they are particularly fond of their
offspring. On every occasion of a fire in Egypt the strangest
prodigy occurs with the cats. The inhabitants allow the fire to rage
as it pleases, while they stand about at intervals and watch these
animals, which, slipping by the men or else leaping over them, rush
headlong into the flames. When this happens, the Egyptians are in deep
affliction. If a cat dies in a private house by a natural death, all
the inmates of the house shave their eyebrows; on the death of a dog
they shave the head and the whole of the body.
The cats on their decease are taken to the city of Bubastis, where
they are embalmed, after which they are buried in certain sacred
repositories. The dogs are interred in the cities to which they
belong, also in sacred burial-places. The same practice obtains with
respect to the ichneumons; the hawks and shrew-mice, on the
contrary, are conveyed to the city of Buto for burial, and the
ibises to Hermopolis. The bears, which are scarce in Egypt, and the
wolves, which are not much bigger than foxes, they bury wherever
they happen to find them lying.
The following are the peculiarities of the crocodile:- During
the four winter months they eat nothing; they are four-footed, and
live indifferently on land or in the water. The female lays and
hatches her eggs ashore, passing the greater portion of the day on dry
land, but at night retiring to the river, the water of which is warmer
than the night-air and the dew. Of all known animals this is the one
which from the smallest size grows to be the greatest: for the egg
of the crocodile is but little bigger than that of the goose, and
the young crocodile is in proportion to the egg; yet when it is full
grown, the animal measures frequently seventeen cubits and even
more. It has the eyes of a pig, teeth large and tusk-like, of a size
proportioned to its frame; unlike any other animal, it is without a
tongue; it cannot move its under-jaw, and in this respect too it is
singular, being the only animal in the world which moves the upper-jaw
but not the under. It has strong claws and a scaly skin,
impenetrable upon the back. In the water it is blind, but on land it
is very keen of sight. As it lives chiefly in the river, it has the
inside of its mouth constantly covered with leeches; hence it
happens that, while all the other birds and beasts avoid it, with
the trochilus it lives at peace, since it owes much to that bird:
for the crocodile, when he leaves the water and comes out upon the
land, is in the habit of lying with his mouth wide open, facing the
western breeze: at such times the trochilus goes into his mouth and
devours the leeches. This benefits the crocodile, who is pleased,
and takes care not to hurt the trochilus.
The crocodile is esteemed sacred by some of the Egyptians, by
others he is treated as an enemy. Those who live near Thebes, and
those who dwell around Lake Moeris, regard them with especial
veneration. In each of these places they keep one crocodile in
particular, who is taught to be tame and tractable. They adorn his

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