Excerpts from The Histories

Herodotus

The Egyptians hold solemn assemblies not once a year, but often. The principal one of these and the most enthusiastically celebrated is that in honor of Artemis at the town of Bubastis, and the next is that in honor of Isis at Busiris … and the sixth of Ares at Papremis. — 2.59.1

At Papremis sacrifice is offered and rites performed just as elsewhere; but when the sun is setting, a few of the priests hover about the image, while most of them go and stand in the entrance to the temple with clubs of wood in their hands; others, more than a thousand men fulfilling vows, who also carry wooden clubs, stand in a mass opposite. The image of the god, in a little gilded wooden shrine, they carry away on the day before this to another sacred building. The few who are left with the image draw a four-wheeled wagon conveying the shrine and the image that is in the shrine; the others stand in the space before the doors and do not let them enter, while the vow-keepers, taking the side of the god, strike them, who defend themselves. A fierce fight with clubs breaks out there, and they are hit on their heads, and many, I expect, even die from their wounds; although the Egyptians said that nobody dies. The natives say that they made this assembly a custom from the following incident: the mother of Ares lived in this temple; Ares had been raised apart from her and came, when he grew up, wishing to visit his mother; but as her attendants kept him out and would not let him pass, never having seen him before, Ares brought men from another town, manhandled the attendants, and went in to his mother. From this, they say, this hitting for Ares became a custom in the festival. — 2.63

 

 

 

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