Oryx a species of antelope held in high estimation among the ancient Egyptians. Sir John G. Wilkinson says: "Among the Egyptians the oryx was the only one of the antelope tribe chosen as an emblem, but it was not sacred; and the same city on whose monuments it was represented in sacred subjects was in the habit of killing it for the table. The head of this animal formed the prow of the mysterious boat of Pthah-Sokari-Osiris, who was worshipped with peculiar honors at Memphis, and who held a conspicuous place among contemporary gods of all the temples of Upper and Lower Egypt. This did not, however, prevent their sacrificing the oryx to the gods, or slaughtering it for their own use, large herds of them being kept by the wealthy Egyptians for this purpose, and the sculptures of Memphis and its vicinity abound, no less than those of the Thebaid, with proofs of this fact. But a particular one may have been set apart and consecrated to the deity, being distinguished by certain marks which the priests fancied they could discern, as in the case of oxen exempted from sacrifice. And if the laws permitted the oryx to be killed without the mark of the pontiffs seal (which was indispensable for oxen previous to their being taken to the altar), the privilege of exemption might be secured to a single animal when kept apart within the inaccessible precincts of the temple. In the zodiacs the oryx was chosen to represent the sign Capricornus. M. Champollion considers it the representative of Seth, and Horapolla gives it an unenviable character as the emblem of impurity. It was even thought to foreknow the rising of the moon, and to be indignant at her presence. Pliny is disposed to give it credit for better behavior towards the dog-star, which, when rising, it looked upon with the appearance of adoration. But the naturalist was misinformed respecting the growth of its hair in imitation of the bull Basis. Such were the fables of old writers; and judging from the important post it held in the boat of Sokari, I am disposed to consider it the emblem of a good rather than of an evil deity, contrary to the opinion of the learned Champollion." SEE ANTELOPE.

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