Cats of Bubastis

by | May 28, 2016 | Books

Just finished reading Herodotus’ The Histories. The best edition, perhaps the ultimate edition, we could find was The Landmark. Unlike most editions, this one is permeated with maps, which guided our imagination as to where in the world were events unfolding.

The climax, in our opinion, is the battle of Thermopylae and the valor of King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans that fought with him. For that story we shall write a separate post.

In the book about Egypt, Herodotus writes about the most mesmerizing animal of all: the cat. Only a cat, big or small, can hypnotize someone to the point of hallucination and poetry. Read this.

Book 2.66
… And whenever a fire breaks out, some divine seizure comes over the cats. The Egyptians stand at intervals and try to keep the cats safe, but if they fail to extinguish the fire, the cats slip between or leap over them and rush into the flames. When this happens, the Egyptians are overcome by intense grief. All those who live in a household where a cat has died a natural death shave their eyebrows…

… when cats die, they are taken to sacred buildings and, after being embalmed, are buried in the city of Boubastis.


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