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Euterpe   


rendered that the Egyptians hold the ibis in so much reverence.
The ibis is a bird of a deep-black colour, with legs like a crane;
its beak is strongly hooked, and its size is about that of the
land-rail. This is a description of the black ibis which contends with
the serpents. The commoner sort, for there are two quite distinct
species, has the head and the whole throat bare of feathers; its
general plumage is white, but the head and neck are jet black, as also
are the tips of the wings and the extremity of the tail; in its beak
and legs it resembles the other species. The winged serpent is
shaped like the water-snake. Its wings are not feathered, but resemble
very closely those of the bat. And thus I conclude the subject of
the sacred animals.
With respect to the Egyptians themselves, it is to be remarked
that those who live in the corn country, devoting themselves, as
they do, far more than any other people in the world, to the
preservation of the memory of past actions, are the best skilled in
history of any men that I have ever met. The following is the mode
of life habitual to them:- For three successive days in each month
they purge the body by means of emetics and clysters, which is done
out of a regard for their health, since they have a persuasion that
every disease to which men are liable is occasioned by the
substances whereon they feed. Apart from any such precautions, they
are, I believe, next to the Libyans, the healthiest people in the
world- an effect of their climate, in my opinion, which has no
sudden changes. Diseases almost always attack men when they are
exposed to a change, and never more than during changes of the
weather. They live on bread made of spelt, which they form into loaves
called in their own tongue cyllestis. Their drink is a wine which they
obtain from barley, as they have no vines in their country. Many kinds
of fish they eat raw, either salted or dried in the sun. Quails
also, and ducks and small birds, they eat uncooked, merely first
salting them. All other birds and fishes, excepting those which are
set apart as sacred, are eaten either roasted or boiled.
In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet is ended, a
servant carries round to the several guests a coffin, in which there
is a wooden image of a corpse, carved and painted to resemble nature
as nearly as possible, about a cubit or two cubits in length. As he
shows it to each guest in turn, the servant says, "Gaze here, and
drink and be merry; for when you die, such will you be."
The Egyptians adhere to their own national customs, and adopt no
foreign usages. Many of these customs are worthy of note: among others
their song, the Linus, which is sung under various names not only in
Egypt but in Phoenicia, in Cyprus, and in other places; and which
seems to be exactly the same as that in use among the Greeks, and by
them called Linus. There were very many things in Egypt which filled
me with astonishment, and this was one of them. Whence could the
Egyptians have got the Linus? It appears to have been sung by them
from the very earliest times. For the Linus in Egyptian is called
Maneros; and they told me that Maneros was the only son of their first
king, and that on his untimely death he was honoured by the
Egyptians with these dirgelike strains, and in this way they got their
first and only melody.
There is another custom in which the Egyptians resemble a
particular Greek people, namely the Lacedaemonians. Their young men,
when they meet their elders in the streets, give way to them and
step aside; and if an elder come in where young men are present, these
latter rise from their seats. In a third point they differ entirely
from all the nations of Greece. Instead of speaking to each other when
they meet in the streets, they make an obeisance, sinking the hand
to the knee.
They wear a linen tunic fringed about the legs, and called
calasiris; over this they have a white woollen garment thrown on
afterwards. Nothing of woollen, however, is taken into their temples
or buried with them, as their religion forbids it. Here their practice

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