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ral prognostic of future evil among the ancients, but a particular omination concerning the breach of friendship. For salt, as incorruptible, was the symbol of friendship, and, before the other service, was offered unto their guests; which, if it casually fell, was accounted ominous, and their amity of no duration. But whether salt were not only a symbol of friendship with man, but also a figure of amity and reconciliation with God, and was therefore observed in sacrifices, is a higher speculation.
OF BREAKING THE EGG-SHELL.
To break the egg-shell after the meat is out, we are taught in our childhood, and practise it all our lives ; which nevertheless is but a superstitious relic, according to the judgment of Pliny, “Huc pertinet ovorum, ut exsorbuerit quisque, calices protinus frangi, aut eosdem cochlearibus perforari ;” and the intent hereof was to prevent withcraft; for lest witches should draw or prick their names therein, and veneficiously mischief their persons, they broke the shell, as Dalecampius hath observed.
OF THE TRUE LOVER'S KNOT.
The true lover's knot is very much magnified, and still retained in presents of love among us; which, though in all points it doth not make out, had perhaps its original from “Nodus Herculanus,” or that which was called Hercules's knot, resembling the snaky complication in the caduceus or rod of Hermes; and in which form the zone or woollen girdle of the bride was fastened, as Turnebus observeth in his “ Adversaria.”
OF THE CHEEK BURNING OR
When our cheek burneth or ear tingleth, we usually say that somebody is talking of us, which is an ancient conceit, and ranked among superstitious opinions by Pliny. Absentes tinnitu aurium præsentire sermones de se receptum est,” according to that distich noted by Dalecampius.
" Garrula, quid totis resonas mihi noctibus, auris ?
Nescio quem dicis nunc meminisse mei."
Which is a conceit hardly to be made out without the concession of a signifying Genius, or universal Mercury, conducting sounds unto their distant subjects, and teaching us to hear by touch.
OF SPEAKING UNDER THE ROSE.
When we desire to confine our words, we commonly say they are spoken under the rose; which expression is commendable, if the rose, from any natural property, may be the symbol of silence, as Nazianzen seems to imply in these translated verses ;
“ Utque latet rosa verna suo putamine clausa,
Sic os vincla ferat, validisque arctetur habenis,
And is also tolerable, if by desiring a secrecy to words spoke under the rose, we only mean in society and compotation, from the ancient custom in symposiac meetings to wear chaplets of roses about their heads; and so we condemn not the German custom, which over the table describeth a rose in the ceiling.
But more considerable it is, if the original were such as Lemnius and others have recorded, that the rose was the flower of Venus, which Cupid consecrated unto Harpocrates, the god of silence, and was therefore an emblem thereof,
to conceal the pranks of venery; as is declared in this tetrastich :
“ Est rosa flos Veneris, cujus quo facta laterent,
Harpocrati matris, dona dicavit Amor;
Convivæ ut sub eâ dicta tacenda sciant.”
OF SMOKE FOLLOWING THE
That smoke doth follow the fairest, is a usual saying with us and in many.parts of Europe ; whereof although there seem no natural ground, yet is it the continuation of a very ancient opinion, as Petrus Victorius and Casaubon have observed from a passage in Athenæus; wherein a parasite thus describeth himself :
• To every table first I come,
Whence Porridge I am called by some;
OF SITTING CROSS-LEGGED.
To sit cross-legged, or with our fingers pectinated or shut together, is accounted bad, and friends will persuade us from it. The same conceit religiously possessed the ancients, as is observable from Pliny, -"Poplites alternis genibus imponere nefas olim"; and also from Athenæus, that it was an old veneficious practice, and Juno is made in this posture to hinder the delivery of Alcmæna. And therefore, as Pierius observeth, in the medal of Julia Pia, the right hand of Venus was made extended, with the inscription of Venus Genetrix; for the complication or pectination of the fingers was a hieroglyphic of impediment, as in that place he declareth.
OF THE PARING OF NAILS.
The set and statary time of paring of nails and cutting of hair is thought by many a point of consideration ; which is perhaps but the continuation of an ancient superstition. aculous it was unto the Romans to pare their nails upon the Nundinæ, observed every ninth day; and was also feared by others in certain days of the week, according to that of Auso