Idioms and sayings.
“Cat got your tongue?”
This is a curious saying now disappearing from common use. Posed as a query to someone faltering on a reply to a pointed question or accusation.
It’s old – dating back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians and the Temple of Bastet, the cat goddess. Does it send a shiver down your spine as your imagination gets going?
Well, rightly so because, from fragments of information gathered from a variety of sources (and I will admit to a few gaps) I’ve uncovered a horror story.
Search the internet and find the popular explanation as having a connection to the cat o’ nine tails. That wicked whip used to keep sailors in line as an example to the rest of the crew.
Doesn’t compute though does it? The only similarities are two different cats. Do you see a tongue anywhere? Neither do I but the Egyptian description pins it down. Rather nastily I’m afraid:
Long ago in the land of the Nile, the punishment for blasphemy or lying was to have your tongue put out just before dawn.
Knowing a special treat was coming their way the temple cats would gather and when the eye of Ra opened (the sun at dawn) down went the offering (finely chopped probably) to be gobbled up by the Sun-God’s agents of rage and retribution.
Fits together quite convincingly as the more likely explanation.
Next week: Another saying from Egypt, much, much older than the one above. In common use all over the world but very few people are aware of its origins. I won’t give you a preview because you’ll look it up on google so come back next Friday for something that will touch your heart with its exquisite beauty.
If you missed last week’s saying go here for another meaning lost in time.
Lots of pesky critters in Egypt: Scorpions, big spiders, snakes, rodents, you name it but none would venture into a place with a resident cat so they were highly valued and elevated to divine status in appreciation of their service to humanity.
Our furry friends.