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"By the dog of Eygpt!"

Posted by Che Baraka on June 28, 2005

"By the dog of Eygpt!" is a phase used frequently by Plato in numerous parts of The Republic (Dialogues, Cratylus, Charmides, or Temperance and Allegory of the Cave). He also quotes Socrates' usage of it.

The phase precedes a statement as an emphatic validation of its truth and the speaker's sincerity. It is envoked in the same way we might state: "I swear to God..."; "Honest to God..." or "With God as my witness..." As I interpret it; "by the dog of Eygpt" references the Egyptian principles symbolized by the jackal diety, Anubis.

My questions are:

1. What is the meaning and origin of this phrase?
2. Why do at least two Greek philosophers swear by it?
3. What principles did the diety Anubis represent?
4. Is it the "dog" star Sirius that is referenced, rather then Anubis?