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on the eve of the war, the revolt of the giants, the gods were panic-stricken and came to Egypt, thinking that surely there they could hide from their enemies ; and then one of them in his terror entered into a goat, another into a ram, and others into other beasts or birds; so of course the gods still keep the forms they took then. All this, naturally, is on record in the temples, having been committed to writing more than ten thousand years ago !
Sacrifices are the same there as with us, except that they mourn over the victim, standing about it and beating their breasts after it has been slain. In some cases they even bury it after simply cutting its throat.
And if Apis, the greatest of their gods, dies, who is there who thinks so much of his hair that he does not shave it off and baldly show his mourning on his head, even if he has the purple tress of Nisus ?* But Apis is a god out of the herd, chosen to succeed the former Apis on the ground that he is far more handsome and majestic than the run of cattle '
Actions and beliefs like these on the part of the public seem to me to require, not someone to censure them, but a Heracleitus or a Democritus, the one to laugh at their ignorance, the other to bewail their folly.
1 Nisus, king of Megara, had something in common with Samson, for as long as the purple tress remained where it belonged, his city was safe. Ovid (Metam. 8, 1-151) tells how his daughter robbed him of it, and became Scylla.