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The Peculiarity of the Punishment.
It is to be observed, that God might, if it had been the divine pleasure, have many different ways tainted and polluted the streams. of Egypt. But he thought proper to change it to blood. Now the Egyptians, and especially their priests, were particularly nice and delicate in their outward habit, and rites: and there was nothing, which they abhorred more than blood. They seldom admitted any bloody sacrifices: and with the least stain of gore they would have thought themselves deeply polluted. Their affectation of purity was so great, that they could not bear to come within contact with a foreigner; or even to handle his clothes; but to touch a dead
body was an abomination, and required to be immediately expiated. Martianus Capella mentions, that the priests wore sandals made Porphyry gaл% 75.
Nunquam fas fuit Egyptiis pecudibus, et sanguine, sed precibus et thure solo placare deos. Macrob. 1. 1. c. 7. 150.
-nefas illic fœtum jugulare capellæ. Juv. Sat. 14. 2 See Strabo. 1. 17. p. 1154.-Herodotus says, Oude μαχαιρη ανδρος έλληνος χρησεται, ειδε οβελοισι εδε λέβητι, εδε χρεως καθαρει 6οος τετμήμενες ελληνικη μαχαιρη γεύσεται. Herod. 1. 2. c. 41. p. 123.
of papyrus, to prevent as they walked any such accidental pollution. Calceos præterea ex papyro subligavit, ne quid ejus membra pollueret morticinum. On these accounts the priests were continually making' ablutions. There were four stated times, twice in the day, and as often in the night, at which they were all obliged to bathe themselves. Many accidents caused them to repeat it much oftener. Hence this evil brought upon them must have been severely felt as there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt, ver. 21. Prodigies of this nature were always looked upon as very fearful. fearful. A shower of blood is supposed to have fallen before the death of Sarpedon: and was esteemed ominous, and foreboding. When Dido is to die, Virgil makes the offerings, which she was preparing, change their
3 Vidit, thuricremis cum dona imponeret aris, Horrendum dictu! latices nigrescere sacros, Fusaque in obscænum se vertere vina cruorem.
Though we may well suppose, that no such prodigies really happened, yet the Romans
Λενται δε δις της ημέρης έχασης ψυχρ και δις έκασης νυκτος, Herod. 1. 2. C. 37. p.
* Αιματοεσσας δε ψιαδας κατέχευεν εραζε. Iliad. Π. v. 459. 3 Virg. 1. 4. v. 453.
had a notion of rivers being changed and corrupted in this manner; and also, that it often rained blood: and they esteemed these appearances as portents of great consequence. The Decemviri were always summoned upon such occasions; and the Sibylline books consulted and victims immediately appointed by way of expiation.
The Destruction of the Aquatic Tribes.
It is moreover said, that the fish that were in the river died; and the river stank. ver. 21.
We have many instances to this purpose recorded in
Mantuæ stagnum effusum Mincio amni cruentum visum ; et Romæ in foro Boario sanguine fluxisse. Vol. 2. 1. 24. c. 10. p. 333.
Cruentam fluxisse aquam Albanam. 1. 27. C. 11. P. 628.
Sanguine per biduum pluisset in area Vulcani. 1. 39. c.
Flumen Amiterni cruentum fluxisse. 1. 24. c. 44. p. 392. Aquas Cærites sanguine mistas fluxisse. 1. 22. c. 1. p. 110. Many other instances may be found.
penitus sonuere revulsæ
Tarpeiæ rupes, atque atro sanguine flumen
Manavit Jovis in templis.
Silius Italicus, I. 8. v. 645.
The offensive vapour from the waters must have been a great aggravation of the evil to people of such external purity, as the Egyptians, who abhorred all animal corruption. And what the historian mentions concerning the fish is of consequence: for all the natives of the river were in some degree esteemed sacred. In many parts the people did not feed upon them. The priests, in particular, never tasted fish; and this on account of their imputed sanctity. For they were sometimes looked upon as sacred emblems: at other times worshipped as real deities. One species of fish was stiled Oxurunchus; and there was a city of the name, built in honour of it, and a temple where this fish was publicly worshipped. Nor was the veneration confined to this place, but obtained in many other parts of Egypt. A fish called Phagrus was worshipped at Syene as the Mæotis was at
8 σφι εξεσι πασασθαι. Herod. 1. 2. c. 37.
C. 73. P. 137.
* IXOUNY EX άATONTA. Clemens, 1. 7. p. 850.
3 Οξύρυγχος πολις.—τιμωσι δε τον Οξύρυγχον, και εσιν αὐτοῖς ἱερου
T Ožveux. Strabo, 1. 17. p. 1166.
5 Σέβεσι δε αυτών. Σκηνεται φαγρον τον ιχθειν. Μαιωτην δε, (αλλος
Elephantis. The ・ Lepidotus had the like reverence paid to it: as had also the Eel; being each sacred to the god Nilus. This is ridiculed in a passage, which has been often quoted, from the ancient comedian * Antiphanes who mentions, that an eel by the Egyptians was reverenced equally with their gods. Another 3 comedian says, that they esteemed it as one of their supreme deities: and he, at the same time, exposes their folly with
όντος ιχθυς) οι την Ελεφαντινην οικεντες. Οξύρυγχιται Φερώνυμον της χώρας αυτων όμοιως ιχθυν. Clemens Alexand. Cohort. p· 34. Νομιζεσιν δε και παντων ιχθύων τον καλέμενον Λεπιδωτον όρον ειναι, και την Έγχελυν. Ιρες δι τέτες είναι το Νειλε φασι. Herod. 1. 2. c. 72. p. 137.
2 Και τ' αλλα δεινες φασι της Αιγυπτίες
Είναι, το νόμισαι τ' ισοθεον την Εγχελυν.
Πολυ των θεών γαρ έτι τιμιωτερα
Antiphanes in Lycone apud Athenæum,
1. 7. p. 299.
Ουχ αν δυναίμην συμμαχειν ὑμῖν εγώ,
Anaxandrides Comicus εν Πολισμο