Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/507

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499
ANCIENT METHOD OF CHASING THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.

wreaking his vengeance on the craft, he will attack one or other of the crew, and, with a single grasp of his horrid jaws, either terribly mutilates the poor fellow, or, it may be, cuts his body fairly in two!

The chase often lasts a considerable time. So long as the line and the harpoon hold, the animal can not escape, because the "buoy" always marks his whereabout. At length, from loss of blood or exhaustion, Behemoth succumbs to his pursuers.

It is a remarkable fact that almost the same method of securing the hippopotamus as that just described was adopted by the ancient Egyptians.[1]

"The hippopotamus," says Diodorus, "is chased by many persons, each armed with iron javelins. As soon as it makes its appearance at the surface of the water, they surround it with boats, and, closing in on all sides, they wound it with blades furnished with iron barbs, and having hempen ropes fastened to them, in order that, when wounded, it may be let out until its strength fails it from loss of blood."

The many drawings relating to the chase, &c., of the hippopotamus to be found on the sculptures and monuments of Thebes would seem to prove that the ancient Egyptians greatly delighted in this kind of sport. One of these representations is shown on the following page, and has been borrowed from that valuable work, "The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians," by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, who thus explains the very interesting illustration.

"The chasseur is here in the act of throwing the spear at the hippopotamus, which he has already wounded with three other blades, indicated by the ropes he holds in his left hand; and having pulled the animal toward the surface of the wa-

  1. In some parts of ancient Egypt the hippopotamus was worshiped. It is also said to have been a representation of Typho (in connection with the crocodile) and Mars. According to Plutarch, it "was reckoned among the animals emblematic of the Evil Being."