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XI. 1. When, therefore, thou hearest the myth-sayings of the Egyptians concerning the Gods—wanderings and

p. 277

dismemberings, and many such passions 1—thou shouldst remember what has been said above, and think none of these things spoken as they [really] are in state and action.

2. For they do not call Hermes “Dog” as a proper name, but they associate the watching and waking from sleep of the animal, 2 who by knowing and not knowing determines friend from foe (as Plato says 3), with the most Logos-like of the Gods.

3. Nor do they think that the sun rises as a new-born babe from a lotus, but so they write “sun-rise,” riddling the re-kindling of the sun from moist [elements]. 4

4. Moreover, they called the most crude and awesome King of the Persians (Ōchus) 5—who killed many and finally cut the throat of Apis and made a hearty meal off him with his friends—“Knife,” 6 and they call him so unto this day in the Catalogue 7 of their kings,—not, of course, signifying his essence by its proper name, 8 but likening the hardness of his mood 9 to an instrument of slaughter.

p. 278

5. So too shalt thou, if thou hearest and receivest the [mysteries] about the Gods from those who interpret the myth purely and according to the love of wisdom, and if thou doest ever and keepest carefully the customs observed by the priests, and if thou thinkest that thou wilt offer neither sacrifice nor act more pleasing to the Gods than the holding a true view concerning them,—thou shalt escape an ill no less than being-without-the-gods, 1 [that is to say] the fearing-of-the-daimones. 2

XII. 1. The myth which is told is—in its very shortest possible [elements], after the purely useless and superfluous have been removed—as follows:


277:1 παθήματα—the technical mystery-term for such experiences, or sensible knowing.

277:2 Or “of the Animal”—the Living One or Animal Itself or World Soul, if Dog is taken to mean the genus or Great Dog.

277:3 Rep., ii. 375 F.

277:4 That is, the ideogram of a new-born child with its finger on its lips seated on the bosom of the lotus signified “sun-rise,” and “sun-rise” within as well as without. The “re-kindling” or “lighting up again” was presumably also a symbol of the “new birth from above.”

277:5 Artaxerxes III.; the priests, however, presumably used this incident to illustrate some more general truth. A similar story is also related of Cambyses (xliv. 8); they also called Ōchus “Ass” (xxxi. 4).

277:6 The sacrificial knife again, as in x. 2.

277:7 Cf. xxxviii. 6.

277:8 Perhaps even meaning by “his name of power.”

277:9 Or “of the turn,” where it might refer to the turn of Egypt’s fate-wheel.

278:1 Or “atheism.”

278:2 Generally rendered “superstition.”

Next: The Mystery-Myth