“Crocodile: A symbol of deity among the ancient Egyptians. According to Plutarch, it is the only aquatic animal that has its eyes covered with a thin transparent membrane, by reason of which it sees and is not seen, as God sees all, Himself not being seen. To this, he adds: ‘The Egyptians worship God symbolically in the crocodile, that being the only animal without a tongue, like the Divine Logos, which standeth not in the need of speech’ (De Iside et Osiride). Achilles Tatius says, ‘The number of its teeth equals the number of days in a year.’ Another tradition is that, during the seven days held sacred to Apis, the crocodile will harm no one.

Crocodile tears’ are hypothetical tears. The tale is that crocodiles moan and sigh like a person in deep distress to lure travelers to the spot and even shed tears over their prey while in the act of devouring it. Shakespeare refers to this in the second part of Henry VI.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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