LOTUS

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LOTUS. This name has been applied very vaguely to various species of plants, which have been celebrated in mythology and fabulous tradition. In the ancient Hindoo and Egyptian mythological representations of nature, the lotus (nelumbium speciosum, Lin.), an aquatic plant, was the emblem of the great generative and conceptive powers of the world. Several varieties are found in India under the names of padma, tamara and camala. When Vishnu, says the Hindoo fable, was about to create the world, the god, swimming in the ocean of milk, produced the lotus from his navel. It unfolded its flower, and displayed Brama, the first result of the creative energy. As an aquatic plant, the lotus was the attribute of Ganga, the goddess of the Ganges. In Egypt, it was consecrated to Isis and Osiris, and was an emblem of the creation of the world from water. It was also the symbol of the rise of the Nile and the return of the sun. It is found in bassreliefs and paintings on the Egyptian temples, in all representations of sacrifices, religious ceremonies, &c, and in tombs and whatever is connected with death or another life. With both of these nations, it was regarded with religious veneration, and the precept of Pythagoras to abstain from beans, has been supposed to refer to the fruit of the lotusplant. The rhamnus lotus is a shruo the fruit of which is a small farinaceous berry, of a delicious taste, which is used by the natives of Africa to make a sweet cake. This shrub is found on the northern coast of Africa, and is probably the food of the lotophagi of antiquity. The fables of the ancients concerning them are well known. They were represented as a mild, hospitable race of men, in northern Africa, who lived on the lotus berry (hence their name Awro? and <payuv, to eat), which had the power of making strangers who ate it, forget their native country.