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V. Now, the priests are so scrupulous in endeavouring to avoid everything which may tend to the increase of the above-mentioned excrementitious substances, that, on this account, they abstain not only from most sorts of pulse, and from the flesh of sheep and swine, but likewise, in their more solemn purifications, they even exclude salt from their meals. This they do for many reasons, but chiefly because it whets their appetites, and incites them to eat more than they otherwise would. Now, as to salt being accounted impure because, as Aristagoras tells us, many little insects are caught in it whilst it is hardening, and are thereby killed therein-this view is wholly trifling and absurd. From these same motives also they give the Apis Bull his water from a well specially set apart for the purpose, 1 and they prevent him altogether from

p. 205

drinking of the Nile, not indeed that they regard the river as impure, and polluted because of the crocodiles which are in it, as some pretend, for there is nothing which the Egyptians hold in greater veneration than the Nile, but because its waters are observed to be particularly nourishing 1 and fattening. And they strive to prevent fatness in Apis as well as in themselves, for they are anxious that their bodies should sit as light and easy about their souls as possible, and that their mortal part should not oppress and weigh down the divine and immortal.


204:1 It is quite possible that Apis drank from a special well, but the water in it certainly came from the Nile by infiltration. In all the old wells at Memphis the water sinks as the Nile sinks, and rises as it rises.


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