Aelian, On Animals 10.50
“I have heard it said that in Eryx, where of course the famous temple of Aphrodite is (the pigeons there and their peculiarities I mentioned earlier on), there is a store of gold, and immense store of silver, necklaces, and finger-rings of great price; and that dread of the goddess renders them safe from robbers and untouched; and that men in ancient times always regarded the aforesaid goddess and her treasures with veneration and awe. But I learn that Hamilkar the Carthaginian looted these objects, melted down the silver and gold, and then distributed an infamous largesse to his troops. And for these deeds he suffered the most painful and grievous torments and was punished with crucifixion, while all his accomplices and partners in that unholy sacrilege died violent and terrible deaths. And his native land which till then was so prosperous and which was reputed enviable above most lands, after these sacred objects had been imported, was reduced to slavery … On every day throughout the whole year the people of Eryx and strangers too sacrifice to the goddess. And the largest of the altars is in the open air, and upon it many sacrifices are offered, and all day long and into the night the fire is kept burning. The dawn begins to brighten, and still the altar shows no trace of embers, no ashes, no fragments of half-burnt logs, but is covered with dew and fresh grass which comes up again every night. And the sacrificial victims from every herd come up and stand beside the altar of their own accord; it is the goddess in the first place who leads them on, and in the second place it is the ability to pay, and the wish, on the part of the sacrificer. At any rate should you desire to sacrifice a sheep, lo and behold, there is a sheep standing at the altar, and you must begin the ceremonial washing. But if you are a man of substance and wish to sacrifice one cow or even more than one, then the herdsman will not mulct you by charging too much, nor will you disappoint him, for the goddess sees that the sale-prices are just, and if you pay fairly you will win her favour. If however you want to buy at a cheaper rate than is proper, you will pay down your money in vain – the animal departs and you are unable to sacrifice.
So much then for this peculiarity of animals at Eryx in addition to those which I have mentioned earlier on.” – Aelian, On Animals 10.50