you probably have heard it or read it before

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tomb of the Finger

"As you go from Megalopolis to Messene," writes Pausanias, "after advancing about seven stades, there stands on the left of the highway a sanctuary of the goddesses. They call the goddesses themselves, as well as the district around the sanctuary, Maniae (Madnesses). In my view this is a surname of the Eumenides; in fact they say that it was here that madness overtook Orestes as punishment for shedding his mother's blood. Not far from the sanctuary is a mound of earth, of no great size, surmounted by a finger made of stone; the name, indeed, of the mound is the Tomb of the Finger. Here it is said, Orestes on losing his wits bit off one finger of one of his hands. Adjoining this is another, called Acé, (Remedies) because in it Orestes was cutred of his malady. Here too there is a sanctuary for the Eumenides. The story is that, when these goddesses were about to put Orestes out of his mind, they appeared to him black; but when he had bitten off his finger they seemed to him again to be white and he recovered his senses at the sight.

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