Hermes and babboon

“When they mean the moon or the inhabited earth, or letters, or anger, or a diver, they draw a babboon. The moon, because this animal has a certain sympathy with the conjunction of this goddess. For when the moon, moving into conjunction with the sun is darkened, then the male babboon does not look nor does he eat; but he is bowed down to earth in grief, as if lamenting for the rape of the moon. And the female does not look either and suffers the same things as the male, and bleeds from her genitals. For this reason up to now babboons have even been fed in the temples, in order that from them can be known the time of the conjunction of the sun and moon. And the inhabited earth, since they say that there were seventy-two inhabited countries of the earth. And the fact that these happen to be fed and cared for in the temples is explained because these are not like other wild beasts who die in one dat. But a part of them dies each day and is honored with the funeral rites in the temples, while the rest of the body remains in its natural condition. And when the seventy-second day is completed, then the whole animal dies. And letters, because here in Egypt a race of babboons exists who know their letters, in accordance with which, when a babboon was first cared for in a temple, the priest handed him a tablet and pen and ink. This was to attempt to find out whether he was of the race which knew its letters and whether he could write. Moreover, the animal is sacred to Hermes, the god of letters. And a priest, because by nature the babboon does not eat fish, nor even “fish-bread”. And it is born circumcised, which operation the priests are accustomed to perform. And anger, because this animal beyond all others is the most irascible and irritable. And a diver, because the other animals which swim appear dirty, but this one alone walks to the place which it has chosen, dives, and does not carry off any mud.” – Horapollo, Hieroglyphika 1.14

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