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The peculiarity that this beast possesses of protruding a large inflated bladder-like substance from its mouth, when irritated, or over-driven, as I mentioned in the text, is very remarkable, and has but very lately been satisfactorily accounted for. In the “Nuova Giornale de Litterati," No. xvi. Dr. Paolo Savi, Professor of Natural History in the University of Pisa, published a most interesting memoir on this subject. His observations were made upon some of the animals of the Camelus Dromedarius, belonging to the celebrated breed of San Rossore, in that neighbourhood. He has discovered that this “ guttural bladder" is nothing else than an extraordinary development of the uvula, which is usually fourteen or fifteen inches in length, and attached, not to the free margin of the soft palate, as in other mammalia, but to its anterior or adherent edge, and also to the arches of the palate ; so that, hanging like a curtain in front of the velum pendulum palati, it appears to shut up the opening into the fauces. It is united to the posterior or free margin of the soft palate by a kind of frænaculum, divided longitudinally into two portions. There is also a semilunar reduplication of mucous membrane, that can occasionally close the opening of the posterior nares; “this kind of partition is so placed as to cover the larynx by its inclination; and consequently, it forms with that part and the superior wall of the nasal canal, a cul de sac." When the animal wishes to project the sac, it raises the soft palate, and with it, and the semilunar partition, closes the posterior nares, expiring at the same time with great force. The air not finding a ready egress by the mouth, owing to the isthmus faucium being closed by the enlarged and distended uvula, forces it forwards, and inflates it into the form of an elongated bladder, owing to its flaccid sides, &c. being attached to the palatine arches by means of the reduplication of membrane before mentioned. In this manner it is protruded from the side of the mouth, and retracted by the azygos muscle, and some of the fibres of the levatores palati mollis.-See Jamieson's Philos. Journal, Vol. xii. 1825.
My friend, Dr. Houston, informs me, that in the dissection of the mouth and fauces of the camel now in the collection of the College of Surgeons, he was struck with the very great flaccidity of the folds of membrane lining the arches of the palate, uvula, and all the adjacent parts; and says, that the submucus cellular tissue beneath this was particularly lax, allowing the membrane to be drawn out to a great extent. From the appearance that the parts present, it seems to me to partake
more of the nature of erectile tissues; and, in all probability, the whole lining membrane of the jaws, palate, and pharynx, partakes of this flaccid and, under certain circumstances, and at particular seasons, erectile nature.
Since the above was first published, I have had an opportunity of carefully dissecting all these parts along with my venerable friend, Professor Seiler of Dresden, and have satisfied myself of the accuracy of Professor Savi's observations.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE TROCHILUS OF EGYPT.
That the ancient Egyptians paid particular attention to the habits of the lower animals, there can now be little doubt, and that this knowledge of natural history was turned to account in their mythology, there is every reason to believe. Among the many fabulous accounts related of the animals of Egypt, there is a curious story told by Herodotus and Pliny, about a little bird of the plover kind, the Charadrius Spinosus, of Latham, and called by those ancient writers, the Trochilus.
Speaking of the crocodile, the former says, “ Beasts and birds universally avoid it--the Trochilus alone excepted--which, from a sense of gratitude, it treats with kindness. When the crocodile leaves the water, it reclines itself on the sand, and generally towards the west, with its mouth open; the Trochilus, entering its throat, destroys the leeches ; in acknowledgment for which service, it never does the Trochilus injury."Herod. Euterpe, Ixviii.
The recital of Pliny is still more extravagant. The following quaint translation of it may offer an apology for its insertion verbatim :-“When he (the crocodile) hath filled his belly with fishes, he lieth to sleep upon the sands in the shore ; and for that he is a great and greedy devourer, somewhat of the meat sticketh evermore between his teeth. In regard thereof, cometh the wren-a little bird, called there Trochilus, and the king of the birds in Italyand shee, for her victual's sake, hoppeth first about his mouth; falleth to pecking or picking it with her little neb or bill, and so forward to the teeth, which she cleanseth ; and all to make him gape. Then getteth shee within his mouth, which he openeth the wider, by reason that he taketh so great delight in this her scraping and scouring of his teeth and chaws.”—Pliny, B. viii. chap. 25.
Should the crocodile by chance close his mouth, it is again related by other authorities, how the little picktooth expands its wings, which, being provided with spurs, prick the monster, to remind him of the confinement of his benefactor. This little bird is still very common in Egypt, and called by the natives Sicsac. Foolish as this legend way appear, there is some
foundation for it; and although we cannot credit the polite understanding and friendly footing between these animals, yet it is a very remarkable fact, that the great difficulty at present attending the shooting, or near approach to the reptile, is owing to the invariable presence of the Sicsac. As soon as the crocodile comes ashore to sleep, it is sure to be attended by the plover, who remains near it, either seated on the same bank, or wheeling above it in the air; and hence, in all probability, its name of Trochilus, from the Greek word Tooxos. Its note is peculiarly wild and startling, particularly on the approach of man, and by this means it gives warning to the sleeping monster. Its remaining in the vicinity of the crocodile may be to procure food either from its exuvies or the great number of flies and other insects that haunt and annoy it, the moment it appears on land; and this apparent sympathy between them may have given rise to the tales of Herodotus and Pliny.
This creature offers another and still more striking example of the interest taken by the Egyptian priests in zoology. No animal formed a more important part, not only in the mysteries of their religion, but in their hieroglyphic writings, than did this. There is scarcely a monument in that country on which it is not either carved or painted. Seals, rings, necklaces, and amulets, formed of amethyst, green stone, cornelian, agate, and numberless other stones, as well as porcelain and common blue pottery ware, were carved into the form of this insect.
The animals I have figured in the text are a male and female Copris, one of the species of the Scarabeides, and which I am inclined to believe is the insect represented more frequently upon the Egyptian paintings than the Scarabæus Sacer. The male Copris differs from the female by the prominences in the form of horns on the head and corslet of the former. The Scarabæus Sacer is somewhat smaller, and without these horns, and both it and the Ateuchus—another beetle of the Scarabeides, are very common in that country-much more so than the Copris. The best proof, however, that can be offered as to this latter insect being the true mythological or symbolic beetle of the ancients is, that an embalmed Scarabee was found at Thebes, which Latreille pronounced to be the Copris Sabeus of Fabricius.
To enumerate the various surmises and conflicting opinions that have been set forth, accounting for the worship of this animal, would form a volume in itself. Like most of the other animals, it had in all likelihood many mystical meanings, the interpretations of which are to us still a secret. The most generally received opinions are, that it was emblematic
of the sun, and also of the great reproductive power of the universe. It holds a conspicuous place in the representation of the zodiac at Denderah where it is supposed to mean the sign Cancer; or at least that the Greek sign of that creature was derived from it. Clemeus Alexandrinus says“ The oblique course of the heavenly bodies is represented by a snake, but that of the sun by a scarabee ; because, shaping a piece of dung into a circular form, he rolls it backwards, his face being turned in a contrary direction to his course." Plutarch says—“The scarabee depositing his seed in a piece of dung made into a circular form, rolls it backwards, as the sun appears to turn the heavens round in a contrary direction, himself being borne from west to east.” Porphyry gives a like statement. That it does roll its ball backwards I have no doubt, and in that way it may be emblematical of the supposed annual course of the sun, from west to east, contrary to his diurnal course from east to west, as here stated; but I have seen them much more frequently in the position I have described at page 253 of this volume.
As Mr. Mure seems to have collected most of the opinions upon this topic, I here quote the following from his “ Dissertation on the Calendar and Zodiac of Ancient Egypt:"_
Paoni (Cancer). “ The month of the sun by pre-eminence, that is, of the greatest height and brilliancy of the luminary, corresponding to our July; which season, the rapid approach of the Nile to its full tide, and the rise of the dog -star, rendered the most important and joyous of the year; hence its dedication by preference to the splendid orb itself, which influenced and reigned supreme over their calendar, as well as their mythology.
“The sign of this season on the Greek zodiac is a crab; an unmeaning emblem as referred to Egyptian mythology. But on the greater number of Egyptio-Greek astronomical monuments, we find the scarabee, instead of the crab, as the emblem of the solstitial month; and it is hardly necessary to observe, that the scarabee is the symbol of the sun, or On, in his noblest capacity, as Lord of the universe, first source and origin, and continual preserver of the created world. In this respect the scarabee was a representative not only of the solar orb itself, but, by analogy, of certain deities of distinguished rank, whose loftier attributes comprehended those of the brilliant Lord of the physical world; as of Phtha, the Demiurgus or creative power, whom the Greeks identified with their Hephæstus or Vulcan, probably as combining with his other properties that of god of fire. In the ancient astronomical picture on the tomb of the kings, the scarabee, with the red disk of the sun in his claws, occupies a conspicuous place among the zodiacal emblems. The same insect also occurs in an astrological gem of Count Pahlen's collection, accompanying Libra and Scorpio; and we seem to have further curious evidence that it was the original symbol of this division of the ancient Egyptian zodiac, in the circumstance that the cypher of the same division, still in vulgar use, is apparently but
an abbreviated form of the hieroglyphic 'Scarabee;' the hieratic contraction of which contains precisely the same elements, under trifling varieties of arrangement, as the modern sign_namely, two curves or hooks placed transversely. The Greeks, in adopting the zodiac, may either have mistaken the insect for a crab, to which, on some of the monuments, it bears a close enough resemblance; and on the gems of Abraxas, the scarabee, crab, and other shell-fish are frequently confounded; or possibly, as they did not attach the same veneration as the Egyptians to its symbolic character, they may have converted the reptile of the land into the reptile of the sea, as a figure more congenial to their ideas and taste, as a maritime people. There is, however, in one respect, a remarkable enough analogy between the two symbols, which may tend still further to show that the one is the Egyptian original; the other the Greek copy. Classical authors have asserted that the crab was chosen to represent the solstice, because of the correspondence of its proverbially retrogade motion to the sun's course about the tropic; an interpretation which has been adopted by the greater number of modern expositors.” In the ruins of the temple marking the site of the Ombite nome, Hamilton describes a sun as worshipped under the mysterious emblems of the crocodile and the beetle. Dr. Young conceives that the scarabæi represented in the zodiac at Denderah, have more of a mythological than an astronomical interpretation; and this brings us to the second type under which this curious creature was adored-that of reproduction. But in this character it may likewise have reference to that under which we first considered it, for its rolling the ball containing its eggs, where after a time they are hatched, may be symbolic of the vivifying or generative power of the luminary. Another cause assigned for this reproductive symbol is, that it is one of the first animals that appear on the subsidence of the inundation, but the very extraordinary instinct and apparent foresight of the animal in providing for the continuance of the species, and the marvellous care and solicitude it exhibits in the formation of the nidus or womb that it constructs, in which to deposit its eggs, and then to assist in their incubation in the manner I have described, were all no doubt attended to in the days of its deification, and formed the grounds of its sacred character. According to De Peau, it would appear that the scarabæus was held sacred in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa even before Egypt was peopled, if we are able to draw the line of distinction between the date of the inhabiting of these two countries. In the holy cricket of Madagascar, we can perceive traces of the beetle worship of Egypt; and a similar reverence for some of this tribe of insects is evinced by the Hottentots, and other southern Africans.