Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/129

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115
THE KISS OF RESPECT

hands whereby the heathen were wont to salute the heavenly bodies.

When the prophet Hosea laments over the idolatry of the children of Israel, he says that they make molten images of calves and kiss them.

Even in remote classical times a similar homage was paid to the gods; people kissed the hands, knees, and feet, even the mouths, of their idols. Cicero informs us, in one of his speeches against Verres, that the lips and beard of the famous statue of Hercules at Agrigentum were worn away by the kisses of devotees.

Bayle tells us, in reference to this passage, that a physician was asked one day why it was that a bronze face could, in this manner, be worn away through being kissed, whereas, on the other hand, kisses did not leave the slightest trace on the countenance of the most fashionable courtesan. His answer was that the reason, he supposed, was that statues were kissed for centuries, but that the woman in question was only kissed for a very few years, viz., so long as her beauty lasted. This explanation was, however, considered unsatisfactory, and the physician's attention was