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´╗┐Title: Myths and myth-makers: Old Tales and Superstitions Interpreted by Comparative Mythology
Author: Fiske, John, 1842-1901
Language: English
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Old Tales and Superstitions Interpreted by Comparative Mythology

By John Fiske

La mythologie, cette science toute nouvelle, qui nous fait suivre
les croyances de nos peres, depuis le berceau du monde jusqu'aux
superstitions de nos campagnes.--EDMOND SCHERER



IN publishing this somewhat rambling and unsystematic series of papers,
in which I have endeavoured to touch briefly upon a great many of the
most important points in the study of mythology, I think it right to
observe that, in order to avoid confusing the reader with intricate
discussions, I have sometimes cut the matter short, expressing myself
with dogmatic definiteness where a sceptical vagueness might perhaps
have seemed more becoming. In treating of popular legends and
superstitions, the paths of inquiry are circuitous enough, and seldom
can we reach a satisfactory conclusion until we have travelled all the
way around Robin Hood's barn and back again. I am sure that the reader
would not have thanked me for obstructing these crooked lanes with the
thorns and brambles of philological and antiquarian discussion, to such
an extent as perhaps to make him despair of ever reaching the high road.
I have not attempted to review, otherwise than incidentally, the works
of Grimm, Muller, Kuhn, Breal, Dasent, and Tylor; nor can I pretend
to have added anything of consequence, save now and then some bit of
explanatory comment, to the results obtained by the labour of these
scholars; but it has rather been my aim to present these results in such
a way as to awaken general interest in them. And accordingly, in dealing
with a subject which depends upon philology almost as much as astronomy
depends upon mathematics, I have omitted philological considerations
wherever it has been possible to do so. Nevertheless, I believe that
nothing has been advanced as established which is not now generally
admitted by scholars, and that nothing has been advanced as probable for
which due evidence cannot be produced. Yet among many points which are
proved, and many others which are probable, there must always remain
many other facts of which we cannot feel sure that our own explanation
is the true one; and the student who endeavours to fathom the primitive
thoughts of mankind, as enshrined in mythology, will do well to bear in
mind the modest words of Jacob Grimm,--himself the greatest scholar and
thinker who has ever dealt with this class of subjects,--"I shall indeed
interpret all that I can, but I cannot interpret all that I should

PETERSHAM, September 6, 1872.












FEW mediaeval heroes are so widely known as William Tell. His exploits
have been celebrated by one of the greatest poets and one of the most
popular musicians of modern times. They are doubtless familiar to
many who have never heard of Stauffacher or Winkelried, who are quite
ignorant of the prowess of Roland, and to whom Arthur and Lancelot, nay,
even Charlemagne, are but empty names.

Nevertheless, in spite of his vast reputation, it is very likely that
no such person as William Tell ever existed, and it is certain that the
story of his shooting the apple from his son's head has no historical
value whatever. In spite of the wrath of unlearned but patriotic Swiss,
especially of those of the cicerone class, this conclusion is forced
upon us as soon as we begin to study the legend in accordance with the
canons of modern historical criticism. It is useless to point to Tell's
lime-tree, standing to-day in the centre of the market-place at Altdorf,
or to quote for our confusion his crossbow preserved in the arsenal at
Zurich, as unimpeachable witnesses to the truth of the story. It is in
vain that we are told, "The bricks are alive to this day to testify to
it; therefore, deny it not." These proofs are not more valid than the
handkerchief of St. Veronica, or the fragments of the true cross. For if
relics are to be received as evidence, we must needs admit the truth of
every miracle narrated by the Bollandists.

The earliest work which makes any allusion to the adventures of William
Tell is the chronicle of the younger Melchior Russ, written in 1482. As
the shooting of the apple was supposed to have taken place in 1296, this
leaves an interval of one hundred and eighty-six years, during which
neither a Tell, nor a William, nor the apple, nor the cruelty of
Gessler, received any mention. It may also be observed, parenthetically,
that the charters of Kussenach, when examined, show that no man by
the name of Gessler ever ruled there. The chroniclers of the fifteenth
century, Faber and Hammerlin, who minutely describe the tyrannical acts
by which the Duke of Austria goaded the Swiss to rebellion, do not
once mention Tell's name, or betray the slightest acquaintance with his
exploits or with his existence. In the Zurich chronicle of 1479 he is
not alluded to. But we have still better negative evidence. John of
Winterthur, one of the best chroniclers of the Middle Ages, was living
at the time of the battle of Morgarten (1315), at which his father was
present. He tells us how, on the evening of that dreadful day, he saw
Duke Leopold himself in his flight from the fatal field, half dead with
fear. He describes, with the loving minuteness of a contemporary, all
the incidents of the Swiss revolution, but nowhere does he say a word
about William Tell. This is sufficiently conclusive. These mediaeval
chroniclers, who never failed to go out of their way after a bit of the
epigrammatic and marvellous, who thought far more of a pointed story
than of historical credibility, would never have kept silent about the
adventures of Tell, if they had known anything about them.

After this, it is not surprising to find that no two authors who
describe the deeds of William Tell agree in the details of topography
and chronology. Such discrepancies never fail to confront us when
we leave the solid ground of history and begin to deal with floating
legends. Yet, if the story be not historical, what could have been
its origin? To answer this question we must considerably expand the

The first author of any celebrity who doubted the story of William Tell
was Guillimann, in his work on Swiss Antiquities, published in 1598.
He calls the story a pure fable, but, nevertheless, eating his words,
concludes by proclaiming his belief in it, because the tale is so
popular! Undoubtedly he acted a wise part; for, in 1760, as we are
told, Uriel Freudenberger was condemned by the canton of Uri to be burnt
alive, for publishing his opinion that the legend of Tell had a Danish
origin. [1]

The bold heretic was substantially right, however, like so many other
heretics, earlier and later. The Danish account of Tell is given as
follows, by Saxo Grammaticus:--

"A certain Palnatoki, for some time among King Harold's body-guard, had
made his bravery odious to very many of his fellow-soldiers by the zeal
with which he surpassed them in the discharge of his duty. This man
once, when talking tipsily over his cups, had boasted that he was so
skilled an archer that he could hit the smallest apple placed a long way
off on a wand at the first shot; which talk, caught up at first by the
ears of backbiters, soon came to the hearing of the king. Now, mark
how the wickedness of the king turned the confidence of the sire to the
peril of the son, by commanding that this dearest pledge of his life
should be placed instead of the wand, with a threat that, unless the
author of this promise could strike off the apple at the first flight of
the arrow, he should pay the penalty of his empty boasting by the loss
of his head. The king's command forced the soldier to perform more
than he had promised, and what he had said, reported, by the tongues of
slanderers, bound him to accomplish what he had NOT said. Yet did not
his sterling courage, though caught in the snare of slander, suffer him
to lay aside his firmness of heart; nay, he accepted the trial the more
readily because it was hard. So Palnatoki warned the boy urgently when
he took his stand to await the coming of the hurtling arrow with calm
ears and unbent head, lest, by a slight turn of his body, he should
defeat the practised skill of the bowman; and, taking further counsel to
prevent his fear, he turned away his face, lest he should be scared at
the sight of the weapon. Then, taking three arrows from the quiver, he
struck the mark given him with the first he fitted to the string.....
But Palnatoki, when asked by the king why he had taken more arrows from
the quiver, when it had been settled that he should only try the fortune
of the bow ONCE, made answer, 'That I might avenge on thee the swerving
of the first by the points of the rest, lest perchance my innocence
might have been punished, while your violence escaped scot-free.'" [2]

This ruthless king is none other than the famous Harold Blue-tooth, and
the occurrence is placed by Saxo in the year 950. But the story appears
not only in Denmark, but in England, in Norway, in Finland and Russia,
and in Persia, and there is some reason for supposing that it was known
in India. In Norway we have the adventures of Pansa the Splay-footed,
and of Hemingr, a vassal of Harold Hardrada, who invaded England in
1066. In Iceland there is the kindred legend of Egil brother of Wayland
Smith, the Norse Vulcan. In England there is the ballad of William of
Cloudeslee, which supplied Scott with many details of the archery scene
in "Ivanhoe." Here, says the dauntless bowman,

     "I have a sonne seven years old;
           Hee is to me full deere;
      I will tye him to a stake--
           All shall see him that bee here--
      And lay an apple upon his head,
           And goe six paces him froe,
      And I myself with a broad arrowe
           Shall cleave the apple in towe."

In the Malleus Maleficarum a similar story is told Puncher, a famous
magician on the Upper Rhine. The great ethnologist Castren dug up the
same legend in Finland. It is common, as Dr. Dasent observes, to the
Turks and Mongolians; "and a legend of the wild Samoyeds, who never
heard of Tell or saw a book in their lives relates it, chapter and
verse, of one of their marksmen." Finally, in the Persian poem of
Farid-Uddin Attar, born in 1119, we read a story of a prince who shoots
an apple from the head of a beloved page. In all these stories, names
and motives of course differ; but all contain the same essential
incidents. It is always an unerring archer who, at the capricious
command of a tyrant, shoots from the head of some one dear to him a
small object, be it an apple, a nut, or a piece of coin. The archer
always provides himself with a second arrow, and, when questioned as to
the use he intended to make of his extra weapon, the invariable reply
is, "To kill thee, tyrant, had I slain my son." Now, when a marvellous
occurrence is said to have happened everywhere, we may feel sure that
it never happened anywhere. Popular fancies propagate themselves
indefinitely, but historical events, especially the striking and
dramatic ones, are rarely repeated. The facts here collected lead
inevitably to the conclusion that the Tell myth was known, in its
general features, to our Aryan ancestors, before ever they left their
primitive dwelling-place in Central Asia.

It may, indeed, be urged that some one of these wonderful marksmen may
really have existed and have performed the feat recorded in the legend;
and that his true story, carried about by hearsay tradition from one
country to another and from age to age, may have formed the theme for
all the variations above mentioned, just as the fables of La Fontaine
were patterned after those of AEsop and Phaedrus, and just as many of
Chaucer's tales were consciously adopted from Boccaccio. No doubt there
has been a good deal of borrowing and lending among the legends of
different peoples, as well as among the words of different languages;
and possibly even some picturesque fragment of early history may have
now and then been carried about the world in this manner. But as the
philologist can with almost unerring certainty distinguish between the
native and the imported words in any Aryan language, by examining their
phonetic peculiarities, so the student of popular traditions, though
working with far less perfect instruments, can safely assert, with
reference to a vast number of legends, that they cannot have been
obtained by any process of conscious borrowing. The difficulties
inseparable from any such hypothesis will become more and more apparent
as we proceed to examine a few other stories current in different
portions of the Aryan domain.

As the Swiss must give up his Tell, so must the Welshman be deprived of
his brave dog Gellert, over whose cruel fate I confess to having shed
more tears than I should regard as well bestowed upon the misfortunes
of many a human hero of romance. Every one knows how the dear old brute
killed the wolf which had come to devour Llewellyn's child, and how the
prince, returning home and finding the cradle upset and the dog's mouth
dripping blood, hastily slew his benefactor, before the cry of the child
from behind the cradle and the sight of the wolf's body had rectified
his error. To this day the visitor to Snowdon is told the touching
story, and shown the place, called Beth-Gellert, [3] where the dog's
grave is still to be seen. Nevertheless, the story occurs in the
fireside lore of nearly every Aryan people. Under the Gellert-form it
started in the Panchatantra, a collection of Sanskrit fables; and it
has even been discovered in a Chinese work which dates from A. D. 668.
Usually the hero is a dog, but sometimes a falcon, an ichneumon, an
insect, or even a man. In Egypt it takes the following comical shape:
"A Wali once smashed a pot full of herbs which a cook had prepared.
The exasperated cook thrashed the well-intentioned but unfortunate Wali
within an inch of his life, and when he returned, exhausted with his
efforts at belabouring the man, to examine the broken pot, he discovered
amongst the herbs a poisonous snake." [4] Now this story of the Wali is
as manifestly identical with the legend of Gellert as the English word
FATHER is with the Latin pater; but as no one would maintain that
the word father is in any sense derived from pater, so it would be
impossible to represent either the Welsh or the Egyptian legend as a
copy of the other. Obviously the conclusion is forced upon us that the
stories, like the words, are related collaterally, having descended from
a common ancestral legend, or having been suggested by one and the same
primeval idea.

Closely connected with the Gellert myth are the stories of Faithful John
and of Rama and Luxman. In the German story, Faithful John accompanies
the prince, his master, on a journey in quest of a beautiful maiden,
whom he wishes to make his bride. As they are carrying her home across
the seas, Faithful John hears some crows, whose language he understands,
foretelling three dangers impending over the prince, from which his
friend can save him only by sacrificing his own life. As soon as they
land, a horse will spring toward the king, which, if he mounts it, will
bear him away from his bride forever; but whoever shoots the horse, and
tells the king the reason, will be turned into stone from toe to knee.
Then, before the wedding a bridal garment will lie before the king,
which, if he puts it on, will burn him like the Nessos-shirt of
Herakles; but whoever throws the shirt into the fire and tells the
king the reason, will be turned into stone from knee to heart. Finally,
during the wedding-festivities, the queen will suddenly fall in a swoon,
and "unless some one takes three drops of blood from her right breast
she will die"; but whoever does so, and tells the king the reason, will
be turned into stone from head to foot. Thus forewarned, Faithful John
saves his master from all these dangers; but the king misinterprets
his motive in bleeding his wife, and orders him to be hanged. On the
scaffold he tells his story, and while the king humbles himself in an
agony of remorse, his noble friend is turned into stone.

In the South Indian tale Luxman accompanies Rama, who is carrying home
his bride. Luxman overhears two owls talking about the perils that await
his master and mistress. First he saves them from being crushed by the
falling limb of a banyan-tree, and then he drags them away from an arch
which immediately after gives way. By and by, as they rest under a tree,
the king falls asleep. A cobra creeps up to the queen, and Luxman kills
it with his sword; but, as the owls had foretold, a drop of the cobra's
blood falls on the queen's forehead. As Luxman licks off the blood,
the king starts up, and, thinking that his vizier is kissing his wife,
upbraids him with his ingratitude, whereupon Luxman, through grief at
this unkind interpretation of his conduct, is turned into stone. [5]

For further illustration we may refer to the Norse tale of the "Giant
who had no Heart in his Body," as related by Dr. Dasent. This burly
magician having turned six brothers with their wives into stone, the
seventh brother--the crafty Boots or many-witted Odysseus of European
folk-lore--sets out to obtain vengeance if not reparation for the evil
done to his kith and kin. On the way he shows the kindness of his nature
by rescuing from destruction a raven, a salmon, and a wolf. The grateful
wolf carries him on his back to the giant's castle, where the lovely
princess whom the monster keeps in irksome bondage promises to act,
in behalf of Boots, the part of Delilah, and to find out, if possible,
where her lord keeps his heart. The giant, like the Jewish hero, finally
succumbs to feminine blandishments. "Far, far away in a lake lies an
island; on that island stands a church; in that church is a well; in
that well swims a duck; in that duck there is an egg; and in that egg
there lies my heart, you darling." Boots, thus instructed, rides on the
wolf's back to the island; the raven flies to the top of the steeple and
gets the church-keys; the salmon dives to the bottom of the well, and
brings up the egg from the place where the duck had dropped it; and
so Boots becomes master of the situation. As he squeezes the egg,
the giant, in mortal terror, begs and prays for his life, which Boots
promises to spare on condition that his brothers and their brides should
be released from their enchantment. But when all has been duly effected,
the treacherous youth squeezes the egg in two, and the giant instantly

The same story has lately been found in Southern India, and is published
in Miss Frere's remarkable collection of tales entitled "Old Deccan
Days." In the Hindu version the seven daughters of a rajah, with
their husbands, are transformed into stone by the great magician
Punchkin,--all save the youngest daughter, whom Punchkin keeps shut up
in a tower until by threats or coaxing he may prevail upon her to marry
him. But the captive princess leaves a son at home in the cradle, who
grows up to manhood unmolested, and finally undertakes the rescue of his
family. After long and weary wanderings he finds his mother shut up in
Punchkin's tower, and persuades her to play the part of the princess
in the Norse legend. The trick is equally successful. "Hundreds of
thousands of miles away there lies a desolate country covered with thick
jungle. In the midst of the jungle grows a circle of palm-trees, and in
the centre of the circle stand six jars full of water, piled one above
another; below the sixth jar is a small cage which contains a little
green parrot; on the life of the parrot depends my life, and if the
parrot is killed I must die." [6] The young prince finds the place
guarded by a host of dragons, but some eaglets whom he has saved from a
devouring serpent in the course of his journey take him on their
crossed wings and carry him to the place where the jars are standing. He
instantly overturns the jars, and seizing the parrot, obtains from the
terrified magician full reparation. As soon as his own friends and a
stately procession of other royal or noble victims have been set at
liberty, he proceeds to pull the parrot to pieces. As the wings and legs
come away, so tumble off the arms and legs of the magician; and finally
as the prince wrings the bird's neck, Punchkin twists his own head round
and dies.

The story is also told in the highlands of Scotland, and some portions
of it will be recognized by the reader as incidents in the Arabian
tale of the Princess Parizade. The union of close correspondence in
conception with manifest independence in the management of the details
of these stories is striking enough, but it is a phenomenon with which
we become quite familiar as we proceed in the study of Aryan popular
literature. The legend of the Master Thief is no less remarkable than
that of Punchkin. In the Scandinavian tale the Thief, wishing to get
possession of a farmer's ox, carefully hangs himself to a tree by the
roadside. The farmer, passing by with his ox, is indeed struck by the
sight of the dangling body, but thinks it none of his business, and
does not stop to interfere. No sooner has he passed than the Thief lets
himself down, and running swiftly along a by-path, hangs himself with
equal precaution to a second tree. This time the farmer is astonished
and puzzled; but when for the third time he meets the same unwonted
spectacle, thinking that three suicides in one morning are too much for
easy credence, he leaves his ox and runs back to see whether the other
two bodies are really where he thought he saw them. While he is framing
hypotheses of witchcraft by which to explain the phenomenon, the Thief
gets away with the ox. In the Hitopadesa the story receives a finer
point. "A Brahman, who had vowed a sacrifice, went to the market to buy
a goat. Three thieves saw him, and wanted to get hold of the goat. They
stationed themselves at intervals on the high road. When the Brahman,
who carried the goat on his back, approached the first thief, the
thief said, 'Brahman, why do you carry a dog on your back?' The Brahman
replied, 'It is not a dog, it is a goat.' A little while after he was
accosted by the second thief, who said, 'Brahman, why do you carry a dog
on your back?' The Brahman felt perplexed, put the goat down, examined
it, took it up again, and walked on. Soon after he was stopped by the
third thief, who said, 'Brahman, why do you carry a dog on your back?'
Then the Brahman was frightened, threw down the goat, and walked home to
perform his ablutions for having touched an unclean animal. The thieves
took the goat and ate it." The adroitness of the Norse King in "The
Three Princesses of Whiteland" shows but poorly in comparison with the
keen psychological insight and cynical sarcasm of these Hindu sharpers.
In the course of his travels this prince met three brothers fighting
on a lonely moor. They had been fighting for a hundred years about the
possession of a hat, a cloak, and a pair of boots, which would make the
wearer invisible, and convey him instantly whithersoever he might wish
to go. The King consents to act as umpire, provided he may once try the
virtue of the magic garments; but once clothed in them, of course he
disappears, leaving the combatants to sit down and suck their thumbs.
Now in the "Sea of Streams of Story," written in the twelfth century by
Somadeva of Cashmere, the Indian King Putraka, wandering in the Vindhya
Mountains, similarly discomfits two brothers who are quarrelling over
a pair of shoes, which are like the sandals of Hermes, and a bowl which
has the same virtue as Aladdin's lamp. "Why don't you run a race for
them?" suggests Putraka; and, as the two blockheads start furiously off,
he quietly picks up the bowl, ties on the shoes, and flies away! [7]

It is unnecessary to cite further illustrations. The tales here quoted
are fair samples of the remarkable correspondence which holds good
through all the various sections of Aryan folk-lore. The hypothesis
of lateral diffusion, as we may call it, manifestly fails to explain
coincidences which are maintained on such an immense scale. It is quite
credible that one nation may have borrowed from another a solitary
legend of an archer who performs the feats of Tell and Palnatoki; but it
is utterly incredible that ten thousand stories, constituting the entire
mass of household mythology throughout a dozen separate nations, should
have been handed from one to another in this way. No one would venture
to suggest that the old grannies of Iceland and Norway, to whom we owe
such stories as the Master Thief and the Princesses of Whiteland, had
ever read Somadeva or heard of the treasures of Rhampsinitos. A large
proportion of the tales with which we are dealing were utterly unknown
to literature until they were taken down by Grimm and Frere and
Castren and Campbell, from the lips of ignorant peasants, nurses, or
house-servants, in Germany and Hindustan, in Siberia and Scotland.
Yet, as Mr. Cox observes, these old men and women, sitting by the
chimney-corner and somewhat timidly recounting to the literary explorer
the stories which they had learned in childhood from their own
nurses and grandmas, "reproduce the most subtle turns of thought and
expression, and an endless series of complicated narratives, in which
the order of incidents and the words of the speakers are preserved
with a fidelity nowhere paralleled in the oral tradition of historical
events. It may safely be said that no series of stories introduced
in the form of translations from other languages could ever thus have
filtered down into the lowest strata of society, and thence have sprung
up again, like Antaios, with greater energy and heightened beauty."
There is indeed no alternative for us but to admit that these fireside
tales have been handed down from parent to child for more than a hundred
generations; that the primitive Aryan cottager, as he took his evening
meal of yava and sipped his fermented mead, listened with his children
to the stories of Boots and Cinderella and the Master Thief, in the days
when the squat Laplander was master of Europe and the dark-skinned Sudra
was as yet unmolested in the Punjab. Only such community of origin
can explain the community in character between the stories told by the
Aryan's descendants, from the jungles of Ceylon to the highlands of

This conclusion essentially modifies our view of the origin and growth
of a legend like that of William Tell. The case of the Tell legend is
radically different from the case of the blindness of Belisarius or
the burning of the Alexandrian library by order of Omar. The latter are
isolated stories or beliefs; the former is one of a family of stories or
beliefs. The latter are untrustworthy traditions of doubtful events; but
in dealing with the former, we are face to face with a MYTH.

What, then, is a myth? The theory of Euhemeros, which was so fashionable
a century ago, in the days of the Abbe Banier, has long since been so
utterly abandoned that to refute it now is but to slay the slain. The
peculiarity of this theory was that it cut away all the extraordinary
features of a given myth, wherein dwelt its inmost significance, and to
the dull and useless residuum accorded the dignity of primeval history.
In this way the myth was lost without compensation, and the student,
in seeking good digestible bread, found but the hardest of pebbles.
Considered merely as a pretty story, the legend of the golden fruit
watched by the dragon in the garden of the Hesperides is not without its
value. But what merit can there be in the gratuitous statement which,
degrading the grand Doric hero to a level with any vulgar fruit-stealer,
makes Herakles break a close with force and arms, and carry off a crop
of oranges which had been guarded by mastiffs? It is still worse when
we come to the more homely folk-lore with which the student of mythology
now has to deal. The theories of Banier, which limped and stumbled
awkwardly enough when it was only a question of Hermes and Minos and
Odin, have fallen never to rise again since the problems of Punchkin
and Cinderella and the Blue Belt have begun to demand solution.
The conclusion has been gradually forced upon the student, that the
marvellous portion of these old stories is no illegitimate extres-cence,
but was rather the pith and centre of the whole, [8] in days when there
was no supernatural, because it had not yet been discovered that there
was such a thing as nature. The religious myths of antiquity and the
fireside legends of ancient and modern times have their common root in
the mental habits of primeval humanity. They are the earliest recorded
utterances of men concerning the visible phenomena of the world into
which they were born.

That prosaic and coldly rational temper with which modern men are wont
to regard natural phenomena was in early times unknown. We have come
to regard all events as taking place regularly, in strict conformity to
law: whatever our official theories may be, we instinctively take this
view of things. But our primitive ancestors knew nothing about laws of
nature, nothing about physical forces, nothing about the relations of
cause and effect, nothing about the necessary regularity of things.
There was a time in the history of mankind when these things had never
been inquired into, and when no generalizations about them had been
framed, tested, or established. There was no conception of an order of
nature, and therefore no distinct conception of a supernatural order of
things. There was no belief in miracles as infractions of natural laws,
but there was a belief in the occurrence of wonderful events too mighty
to have been brought about by ordinary means. There was an unlimited
capacity for believing and fancying, because fancy and belief had not
yet been checked and headed off in various directions by established
rules of experience. Physical science is a very late acquisition of the
human mind, but we are already sufficiently imbued with it to be almost
completely disabled from comprehending the thoughts of our ancestors.
"How Finn cosmogonists could have believed the earth and heaven to be
made out of a severed egg, the upper concave shell representing
heaven, the yolk being earth, and the crystal surrounding fluid the
circumambient ocean, is to us incomprehensible; and yet it remains a
fact that they did so regard them. How the Scandinavians could have
supposed the mountains to be the mouldering bones of a mighty Jotun,
and the earth to be his festering flesh, we cannot conceive; yet such a
theory was solemnly taught and accepted. How the ancient Indians could
regard the rain-clouds as cows with full udders milked by the winds
of heaven is beyond our comprehension, and yet their Veda contains
indisputable testimony to the fact that they were so regarded." We have
only to read Mr. Baring-Gould's book of "Curious Myths," from which
I have just quoted, or to dip into Mr. Thorpe's treatise on "Northern
Mythology," to realize how vast is the difference between our
stand-point and that from which, in the later Middle Ages, our immediate
forefathers regarded things. The frightful superstition of werewolves is
a good instance. In those days it was firmly believed that men could be,
and were in the habit of being, transformed into wolves. It was believed
that women might bring forth snakes or poodle-dogs. It was believed that
if a man had his side pierced in battle, you could cure him by nursing
the sword which inflicted the wound. "As late as 1600 a German writer
would illustrate a thunder-storm destroying a crop of corn by a picture
of a dragon devouring the produce of the field with his flaming tongue
and iron teeth."

Now if such was the condition of the human intellect only three or four
centuries ago, what must it have been in that dark antiquity when not
even the crudest generalizations of Greek or of Oriental science had
been reached? The same mighty power of imagination which now, restrained
and guided by scientific principles, leads us to discoveries and
inventions, must then have wildly run riot in mythologic fictions
whereby to explain the phenomena of nature. Knowing nothing whatever
of physical forces, of the blind steadiness with which a given effect
invariably follows its cause, the men of primeval antiquity could
interpret the actions of nature only after the analogy of their own
actions. The only force they knew was the force of which they were
directly conscious,--the force of will. Accordingly, they imagined all
the outward world to be endowed with volition, and to be directed by it.
They personified everything,--sky, clouds, thunder, sun, moon, ocean,
earthquake, whirlwind. [9] The comparatively enlightened Athenians of
the age of Perikles addressed the sky as a person, and prayed to it to
rain upon their gardens. [10] And for calling the moon a mass of dead
matter, Anaxagoras came near losing his life. To the ancients the moon
was not a lifeless ball of stones and clods: it was the horned huntress,
Artemis, coursing through the upper ether, or bathing herself in the
clear lake; or it was Aphrodite, protectress of lovers, born of the
sea-foam in the East near Cyprus. The clouds were no bodies of vaporized
water: they were cows with swelling udders, driven to the milking by
Hermes, the summer wind; or great sheep with moist fleeces, slain by
the unerring arrows of Bellerophon, the sun; or swan-maidens, flitting
across the firmament, Valkyries hovering over the battle-field to
receive the souls of falling heroes; or, again, they were mighty
mountains piled one above another, in whose cavernous recesses the
divining-wand of the storm-god Thor revealed hidden treasures. The
yellow-haired sun, Phoibos, drove westerly all day in his flaming
chariot; or perhaps, as Meleagros, retired for a while in disgust from
the sight of men; wedded at eventide the violet light (Oinone, Iole),
which he had forsaken in the morning; sank, as Herakles, upon a blazing
funeral-pyre, or, like Agamemnon, perished in a blood-stained bath; or,
as the fish-god, Dagon, swam nightly through the subterranean waters,
to appear eastward again at daybreak. Sometimes Phaethon, his rash,
inexperienced son, would take the reins and drive the solar chariot too
near the earth, causing the fruits to perish, and the grass to wither,
and the wells to dry up. Sometimes, too, the great all-seeing divinity,
in his wrath at the impiety of men, would shoot down his scorching
arrows, causing pestilence to spread over the land. Still other
conceptions clustered around the sun. Now it was the wonderful
treasure-house, into which no one could look and live; and again it
was Ixion himself, bound on the fiery wheel in punishment for violence
offered to Here, the queen of the blue air.

This theory of ancient mythology is not only beautiful and plausible,
it is, in its essential points, demonstrated. It stands on as firm a
foundation as Grimm's law in philology, or the undulatory theory in
molecular physics. It is philology which has here enabled us to read the
primitive thoughts of mankind. A large number of the names of Greek gods
and heroes have no meaning in the Greek language; but these names occur
also in Sanskrit, with plain physical meanings. In the Veda we find
Zeus or Jupiter (Dyaus-pitar) meaning the sky, and Sarameias or Hermes,
meaning the breeze of a summer morning. We find Athene (Ahana), meaning
the light of daybreak; and we are thus enabled to understand why the
Greek described her as sprung from the forehead of Zeus. There too
we find Helena (Sarama), the fickle twilight, whom the Panis, or
night-demons, who serve as the prototypes of the Hellenic Paris, strive
to seduce from her allegiance to the solar monarch. Even Achilleus
(Aharyu) again confronts us, with his captive Briseis (Brisaya's
offspring); and the fierce Kerberos (Carvara) barks on Vedic ground in
strict conformity to the laws of phonetics. [11] Now, when the Hindu
talked about Father Dyaus, or the sleek kine of Siva, he thought of the
personified sky and clouds; he had not outgrown the primitive mental
habits of the race. But the Greek, in whose language these physical
meanings were lost, had long before the Homeric epoch come to regard
Zeus and Hermes, Athene, Helena, Paris, and Achilleus, as mere persons,
and in most cases the originals of his myths were completely forgotten.
In the Vedas the Trojan War is carried on in the sky, between the bright
deities and the demons of night; but the Greek poet, influenced perhaps
by some dim historical tradition, has located the contest on the shore
of the Hellespont, and in his mind the actors, though superhuman, are
still completely anthropomorphic. Of the true origin of his epic story
he knew as little as Euhemeros, or Lord Bacon, or the Abbe Banier.

After these illustrations, we shall run no risk of being misunderstood
when we define a myth as, in its origin, an explanation, by the
uncivilized mind, of some natural phenomenon; not an allegory, not an
esoteric symbol,--for the ingenuity is wasted which strives to detect in
myths the remnants of a refined primeval science,--but an explanation.
Primitive men had no profound science to perpetuate by means of
allegory, nor were they such sorry pedants as to talk in riddles when
plain language would serve their purpose. Their minds, we may be sure,
worked like our own, and when they spoke of the far-darting sun-god,
they meant just what they said, save that where we propound a scientific
theorem, they constructed a myth. [12] A thing is said to be explained
when it is classified with other things with which we are already
acquainted. That is the only kind of explanation of which the highest
science is capable. We explain the origin, progress, and ending of a
thunder-storm, when we classify the phenomena presented by it along with
other more familiar phenomena of vaporization and condensation. But the
primitive man explained the same thing to his own satisfaction when he
had classified it along with the well-known phenomena of human volition,
by constructing a theory of a great black dragon pierced by the unerring
arrows of a heavenly archer. We consider the nature of the stars to
a certain extent explained when they are classified as suns; but the
Mohammedan compiler of the "Mishkat-ul-Ma'sabih" was content to explain
them as missiles useful for stoning the Devil! Now, as soon as the old
Greek, forgetting the source of his conception, began to talk of a human
Oidipous slaying a leonine Sphinx, and as soon as the Mussulman began,
if he ever did, to tell his children how the Devil once got a good
pelting with golden bullets, then both the one and the other were
talking pure mythology.

We are justified, accordingly, in distinguishing between a myth and
a legend. Though the words are etymologically parallel, and though in
ordinary discourse we may use them interchangeably, yet when strict
accuracy is required, it is well to keep them separate. And it is
perhaps needless, save for the sake of completeness, to say that
both are to be distinguished from stories which have been designedly
fabricated. The distinction may occasionally be subtle, but is usually
broad enough. Thus, the story that Philip II. murdered his wife
Elizabeth, is a misrepresentation; but the story that the same Elizabeth
was culpably enamoured of her step-son Don Carlos, is a legend. The
story that Queen Eleanor saved the life of her husband, Edward I., by
sucking a wound made in his arm by a poisoned arrow, is a legend; but
the story that Hercules killed a great robber, Cacus, who had stolen his
cattle, conceals a physical meaning, and is a myth. While a legend is
usually confined to one or two localities, and is told of not more than
one or two persons, it is characteristic of a myth that it is spread,
in one form or another, over a large part of the earth, the leading
incidents remaining constant, while the names and often the motives
vary with each locality. This is partly due to the immense antiquity
of myths, dating as they do from a period when many nations, now widely
separated, had not yet ceased to form one people. Thus many elements of
the myth of the Trojan War are to be found in the Rig-Veda; and the myth
of St. George and the Dragon is found in all the Aryan nations. But we
must not always infer that myths have a common descent, merely because
they resemble each other. We must remember that the proceedings of the
uncultivated mind are more or less alike in all latitudes, and that
the same phenomenon might in various places independently give rise to
similar stories. [13] The myth of Jack and the Beanstalk is found not
only among people of Aryan descent, but also among the Zulus of South
Africa, and again among the American Indians. Whenever we can trace a
story in this way from one end of the world to the other, or through a
whole family of kindred nations, we are pretty safe in assuming that we
are dealing with a true myth, and not with a mere legend.

Applying these considerations to the Tell myth, we at once obtain a
valid explanation of its origin. The conception of infallible skill
in archery, which underlies such a great variety of myths and popular
fairy-tales, is originally derived from the inevitable victory of the
sun over his enemies, the demons of night, winter, and tempest. Arrows
and spears which never miss their mark, swords from whose blow no armour
can protect, are invariably the weapons of solar divinities or heroes.
The shafts of Bellerophon never fail to slay the black demon of the
rain-cloud, and the bolt of Phoibos Chrysaor deals sure destruction
to the serpent of winter. Odysseus, warring against the impious
night-heroes, who have endeavoured throughout ten long years or hours of
darkness to seduce from her allegiance his twilight-bride, the weaver
of the never-finished web of violet clouds,--Odysseus, stripped of
his beggar's raiment and endowed with fresh youth and beauty by the
dawn-goddess, Athene, engages in no doubtful conflict as he raises the
bow which none but himself can bend. Nor is there less virtue in the
spear of Achilleus, in the swords of Perseus and Sigurd, in Roland's
stout blade Durandal, or in the brand Excalibur, with which Sir Bedivere
was so loath to part. All these are solar weapons, and so, too, are
the arrows of Tell and Palnatoki, Egil and Hemingr, and William of
Cloudeslee, whose surname proclaims him an inhabitant of the Phaiakian
land. William Tell, whether of Cloudland or of Altdorf, is the last
reflection of the beneficent divinity of daytime and summer, constrained
for a while to obey the caprice of the powers of cold and darkness, as
Apollo served Laomedon, and Herakles did the bidding of Eurystheus.
His solar character is well preserved, even in the sequel of the Swiss
legend, in which he appears no less skilful as a steersman than as an
archer, and in which, after traversing, like Dagon, the tempestuous sea
of night, he leaps at daybreak in regained freedom upon the land, and
strikes down the oppressor who has held him in bondage.

But the sun, though ever victorious in open contest with his enemies,
is nevertheless not invulnerable. At times he succumbs to treachery,
is bound by the frost-giants, or slain by the demons of darkness. The
poisoned shirt of the cloud-fiend Nessos is fatal even to the mighty
Herakles, and the prowess of Siegfried at last fails to save him from
the craft of Hagen. In Achilleus and Meleagros we see the unhappy solar
hero doomed to toil for the profit of others, and to be cut off by an
untimely death. The more fortunate Odysseus, who lives to a ripe old
age, and triumphs again and again over all the powers of darkness, must
nevertheless yield to the craving desire to visit new cities and look
upon new works of strange men, until at last he is swallowed up in the
western sea. That the unrivalled navigator of the celestial ocean should
disappear beneath the western waves is as intelligible as it is that the
horned Venus or Astarte should rise from the sea in the far east. It is
perhaps less obvious that winter should be so frequently symbolized as a
thorn or sharp instrument. Achilleus dies by an arrow-wound in the
heel; the thigh of Adonis is pierced by the boar's tusk, while Odysseus
escapes with an ugly scar, which afterwards secures his recognition by
his old servant, the dawn-nymph Eurykleia; Sigurd is slain by a thorn,
and Balder by a sharp sprig of mistletoe; and in the myth of the
Sleeping Beauty, the earth-goddess sinks into her long winter sleep when
pricked by the point of the spindle. In her cosmic palace, all is locked
in icy repose, naught thriving save the ivy which defies the cold, until
the kiss of the golden-haired sun-god reawakens life and activity.

The wintry sleep of nature is symbolized in innumerable stories of
spell-bound maidens and fair-featured youths, saints, martyrs, and
heroes. Sometimes it is the sun, sometimes the earth, that is supposed
to slumber. Among the American Indians the sun-god Michabo is said to
sleep through the winter months; and at the time of the falling leaves,
by way of composing himself for his nap, he fills his great pipe and
divinely smokes; the blue clouds, gently floating over the landscape,
fill the air with the haze of Indian summer. In the Greek myth the
shepherd Endymion preserves his freshness in a perennial slumber. The
German Siegfried, pierced by the thorn of winter, is sleeping until
he shall be again called forth to fight. In Switzerland, by the
Vierwald-stattersee, three Tells are awaiting the hour when their
country shall again need to be delivered from the oppressor. Charlemagne
is reposing in the Untersberg, sword in hand, waiting for the coming of
Antichrist; Olger Danske similarly dreams away his time in Avallon; and
in a lofty mountain in Thuringia, the great Emperor Yrederic Barbarossa
slumbers with his knights around him, until the time comes for him to
sally forth and raise Germany to the first rank among the kingdoms of
the world. The same story is told of Olaf Tryggvesson, of Don Sebastian
of Portugal, and of the Moorish King Boabdil. The Seven Sleepers of
Ephesus, having taken refuge in a cave from the persecutions of the
heathen Decius, slept one hundred and sixty-four years, and awoke to
find a Christian emperor on the throne. The monk of Hildesheim, in the
legend so beautifully rendered by Longfellow, doubting how with God
a thousand years ago could be as yesterday, listened three minutes
entranced by the singing of a bird in the forest, and found, on waking
from his revery, that a thousand years had flown. To the same family of
legends belong the notion that St. John is sleeping at Ephesus until the
last days of the world; the myth of the enchanter Merlin, spell-bound by
Vivien; the story of the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, who dozed away
fifty-seven years in a cave; and Rip Van Winkle's nap in the Catskills.

We might go on almost indefinitely citing household tales of wonderful
sleepers; but, on the principle of the association of opposites, we
are here reminded of sundry cases of marvellous life and wakefulness,
illustrated in the Wandering Jew; the dancers of Kolbeck; Joseph of
Arimathaea with the Holy Grail; the Wild Huntsman who to all eternity
chases the red deer; the Captain of the Phantom Ship; the classic
Tithonos; and the Man in the Moon.

The lunar spots have afforded a rich subject for the play of human
fancy. Plutarch wrote a treatise on them, but the myth-makers had been
before him. "Every one," says Mr. Baring-Gould, "knows that the moon
is inhabited by a man with a bundle of sticks on his back, who has been
exiled thither for many centuries, and who is so far off that he is
beyond the reach of death. He has once visited this earth, if the
nursery rhyme is to be credited when it asserts that

     'The Man in the Moon
      Came down too soon
      And asked his way to Norwich';

but whether he ever reached that city the same authority does not
state." Dante calls him Cain; Chaucer has him put up there as a
punishment for theft, and gives him a thorn-bush to carry; Shakespeare
also loads him with the thorns, but by way of compensation gives him a
dog for a companion. Ordinarily, however, his offence is stated to have
been, not stealing, but Sabbath-breaking,--an idea derived from the Old
Testament. Like the man mentioned in the Book of Numbers, he is caught
gathering sticks on the Sabbath; and, as an example to mankind, he is
condemned to stand forever in the moon, with his bundle on his back.
Instead of a dog, one German version places with him a woman, whose
crime was churning butter on Sunday. She carries her butter-tub; and
this brings us to Mother Goose again:--

     "Jack and Jill went up the hill
     To get a pail of water.
     Jack fell down and broke his crown,
     And Jill came tumbling after."

This may read like mere nonsense; but there is a point of view from
which it may be safely said that there is very little absolute nonsense
in the world. The story of Jack and Jill is a venerable one. In
Icelandic mythology we read that Jack and Jill were two children whom
the moon once kidnapped and carried up to heaven. They had been drawing
water in a bucket, which they were carrying by means of a pole placed
across their shoulders; and in this attitude they have stood to the
present day in the moon. Even now this explanation of the moon-spots
is to be heard from the mouths of Swedish peasants. They fall away one
after the other, as the moon wanes, and their water-pail symbolizes the
supposed connection of the moon with rain-storms. Other forms of the
myth occur in Sanskrit.

The moon-goddess, or Aphrodite, of the ancient Germans, was called
Horsel, or Ursula, who figures in Christian mediaeval mythology as a
persecuted saint, attended by a troop of eleven thousand virgins,
who all suffer martyrdom as they journey from England to Cologne. The
meaning of the myth is obvious. In German mythology, England is the
Phaiakian land of clouds and phantoms; the succubus, leaving her lover
before daybreak, excuses herself on the plea that "her mother is calling
her in England." [15] The companions of Ursula are the pure stars, who
leave the cloudland and suffer martyrdom as they approach the regions
of day. In the Christian tradition, Ursula is the pure Artemis; but,
in accordance with her ancient character, she is likewise the sensual
Aphrodite, who haunts the Venusberg; and this brings us to the story of

The Horselberg, or mountain of Venus, lies in Thuringia, between
Eisenach and Gotha. High up on its slope yawns a cavern, the
Horselloch, or cave of Venus within which is heard a muffled roar, as
of subterranean water. From this cave, in old times, the frightened
inhabitants of the neighbouring valley would hear at night wild moans
and cries issuing, mingled with peals of demon-like laughter. Here it
was believed that Venus held her court; "and there were not a few who
declared that they had seen fair forms of female beauty beckoning them
from the mouth of the chasm." [16] Tannhauser was a Frankish knight and
famous minnesinger, who, travelling at twilight past the Horselberg,
"saw a white glimmering figure of matchless beauty standing before him
and beckoning him to her." Leaving his horse, he went up to meet her,
whom he knew to be none other than Venus. He descended to her palace
in the heart of the mountain, and there passed seven years in careless
revelry. Then, stricken with remorse and yearning for another glimpse
of the pure light of day, he called in agony upon the Virgin Mother, who
took compassion on him and released him. He sought a village church, and
to priest after priest confessed his sin, without obtaining absolution,
until finally he had recourse to the Pope. But the holy father,
horrified at the enormity of his misdoing, declared that guilt such as
his could never be remitted sooner should the staff in his hand grow
green and blossom. "Then Tannhauser, full of despair and with his soul
darkened, went away, and returned to the only asylum open to him, the
Venusberg. But lo! three days after he had gone, Pope Urban discovered
that his pastoral staff had put forth buds and had burst into flower.
Then he sent messengers after Tannhauser, and they reached the Horsel
vale to hear that a wayworn man, with haggard brow and bowed head, had
just entered the Horselloch. Since then Tannhauser has not been seen."
(p. 201.)

As Mr. Baring-Gould rightly observes, this sad legend, in its
Christianized form, is doubtless descriptive of the struggle between
the new and the old faiths. The knightly Tannhauser, satiated with
pagan sensuality, turns to Christianity for relief, but, repelled by
the hypocrisy, pride, and lack of sympathy of its ministers, gives up in
despair, and returns to drown his anxieties in his old debauchery.

But this is not the primitive form of the myth, which recurs in the
folk-lore of every people of Aryan descent. Who, indeed, can read it
without being at once reminded of Thomas of Erceldoune (or Horsel-hill),
entranced by the sorceress of the Eilden; of the nightly visits of Numa
to the grove of the nymph Egeria; of Odysseus held captive by the Lady
Kalypso; and, last but not least, of the delightful Arabian tale of
Prince Ahmed and the Peri Banou? On his westward journey, Odysseus is
ensnared and kept in temporary bondage by the amorous nymph of darkness,
Kalypso (kalnptw, to veil or cover). So the zone of the moon-goddess
Aphrodite inveigles all-seeing Zeus to treacherous slumber on Mount
Ida; and by a similar sorcery Tasso's great hero is lulled in unseemly
idleness in Armida's golden paradise, at the western verge of the world.
The disappearance of Tannhauser behind the moonlit cliff, lured by Venus
Ursula, the pale goddess of night, is a precisely parallel circumstance.

But solar and lunar phenomena are by no means the only sources of
popular mythology. Opposite my writing-table hangs a quaint German
picture, illustrating Goethe's ballad of the Erlking, in which the whole
wild pathos of the story is compressed into one supreme moment; we see
the fearful, half-gliding rush of the Erlking, his long, spectral arms
outstretched to grasp the child, the frantic gallop of the horse, the
alarmed father clasping his darling to his bosom in convulsive embrace,
the siren-like elves hovering overhead, to lure the little soul with
their weird harps. There can be no better illustration than is furnished
by this terrible scene of the magic power of mythology to invest the
simplest physical phenomena with the most intense human interest; for
the true significance of the whole picture is contained in the father's
address to his child,

     "Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
      In durren Blattern sauselt der Wind."

The story of the Piper of Hamelin, well known in the version of Robert
Browning, leads to the same conclusion. In 1284 the good people of
Hamelin could obtain no rest, night or day, by reason of the direful
host of rats which infested their town. One day came a strange man in a
bunting-suit, and offered for five hundred guilders to rid the town of
the vermin. The people agreed: whereupon the man took out a pipe and
piped, and instantly all the rats in town, in an army which blackened
the face of the earth, came forth from their haunts, and followed the
piper until he piped them to the river Weser, where they alls jumped
in and were drowned. But as soon as the torment was gone, the townsfolk
refused to pay the piper on the ground that he was evidently a wizard.
He went away, vowing vengeance, and on St. John's day reappeared, and
putting his pipe to his mouth blew a different air. Whereat all the
little, plump, rosy-cheeked, golden-haired children came merrily running
after him, their parents standing aghast, not knowing what to do,
while he led them up a hill in the neighbourhood. A door opened in the
mountain-side, through which he led them in, and they never were seen
again; save one lame boy, who hobbled not fast enough to get in before
the door shut, and who lamented for the rest of his life that he had not
been able to share the rare luck of his comrades. In the street through
which this procession passed no music was ever afterwards allowed to be
played. For a long time the town dated its public documents from this
fearful calamity, and many authorities have treated it as an historical
event. [17] Similar stories are told of other towns in Germany, and,
strange to say, in remote Abyssinia also. Wesleyan peasants in England
believe that angels pipe to children who are about to die; and in
Scandinavia, youths are said to have been enticed away by the songs of
elf-maidens. In Greece, the sirens by their magic lay allured voyagers
to destruction; and Orpheus caused the trees and dumb beasts to follow
him. Here we reach the explanation. For Orpheus is the wind sighing
through untold acres of pine forest. "The piper is no other than the
wind, and the ancients held that in the wind were the souls of the
dead." To this day the English peasantry believe that they hear the wail
of the spirits of unbaptized children, as the gale sweeps past their
cottage doors. The Greek Hermes resulted from the fusion of two deities.
He is the sun and also the wind; and in the latter capacity he bears
away the souls of the dead. So the Norse Odin, who like Hermes fillfils
a double function, is supposed to rush at night over the tree-tops,
"accompanied by the scudding train of brave men's spirits." And readers
of recent French literature cannot fail to remember Erokmann-Chatrian's
terrible story of the wild huntsman Vittikab, and how he sped through
the forest, carrying away a young girl's soul.

Thus, as Tannhauser is the Northern Ulysses, so is Goethe's Erlking none
other than the Piper of Hamelin. And the piper, in turn, is the classic
Hermes or Orpheus, the counterpart of the Finnish Wainamoinen and the
Sanskrit Gunadhya. His wonderful pipe is the horn of Oberon, the lyre of
Apollo (who, like the piper, was a rat-killer), the harp stolen by
Jack when he climbed the bean-stalk to the ogre's castle. [18] And the
father, in Goethe's ballad, is no more than right when he assures his
child that the siren voice which tempts him is but the rustle of the
wind among the dried leaves; for from such a simple class of phenomena
arose this entire family of charming legends.

But why does the piper, who is a leader of souls (Psychopompos), also
draw rats after him? In answering this we shall have occasion to note
that the ancients by no means shared that curious prejudice against the
brute creation which is indulged in by modern anti-Darwinians. In many
countries, rats and mice have been regarded as sacred animals; but in
Germany they were thought to represent the human soul. One story out of
a hundred must suffice to illustrate this. "In Thuringia, at Saalfeld, a
servant-girl fell asleep whilst her companions were shelling nuts. They
observed a little red mouse creep from her mouth and run out of the
window. One of the fellows present shook the sleeper, but could not wake
her, so he moved her to another place. Presently the mouse ran back to
the former place and dashed about, seeking the girl; not finding her,
it vanished; at the same moment the girl died." [19] This completes the
explanation of the piper, and it also furnishes the key to the horrible
story of Bishop Hatto.

This wicked prelate lived on the bank of the Rhine, in the middle of
which stream he possessed a tower, now pointed out to travellers as the
Mouse Tower. In the year 970 there was a dreadful famine, and people
came from far and near craving sustenance out of the Bishop's ample and
well-filled granaries. Well, he told them all to go into the barn, and
when they had got in there, as many as could stand, he set fire to the
barn and burnt them all up, and went home to eat a merry supper. But
when he arose next morning, he heard that an army of rats had eaten all
the corn in his granaries, and was now advancing to storm the palace.
Looking from his window, he saw the roads and fields dark with them,
as they came with fell purpose straight toward his mansion. In frenzied
terror he took his boat and rowed out to the tower in the river. But it
was of no use: down into the water marched the rats, and swam across,
and scaled the walls, and gnawed through the stones, and came swarming
in about the shrieking Bishop, and ate him up, flesh, bones, and all.
Now, bearing in mind what was said above, there can be no doubt that
these rats were the souls of those whom the Bishop had murdered. There
are many versions of the story in different Teutonic countries, and
in some of them the avenging rats or mice issue directly, by a strange
metamorphosis, from the corpses of the victims. St. Gertrude, moreover,
the heathen Holda, was symbolized as a mouse, and was said Go lead an
army of mice; she was the receiver of children's souls. Odin, also, in
his character of a Psychopompos, was followed by a host of rats. [20]

As the souls of the departed are symbolized as rats, so is the
psychopomp himself often figured as a dog. Sarameias, the Vedic
counterpart of Hermes and Odin, sometimes appears invested with canine
attributes; and countless other examples go to show that by the early
Aryan mind the howling wind was conceived as a great dog or wolf. As the
fearful beast was heard speeding by the windows or over the house-top,
the inmates trembled, for none knew but his own soul might forthwith be
required of him. Hence, to this day, among ignorant people, the howling
of a dog under the window is supposed to portend a death in the family.
It is the fleet greyhound of Hermes, come to escort the soul to the
river Styx. [21]

But the wind-god is not always so terrible. Nothing can be more
transparent than the phraseology of the Homeric Hymn, in which Hermes is
described as acquiring the strength of a giant while yet a babe in the
cradle, as sallying out and stealing the cattle (clouds) of Apollo,
and driving them helter-skelter in various directions, then as crawling
through the keyhole, and with a mocking laugh shrinking into his cradle.
He is the Master Thief, who can steal the burgomaster's horse from under
him and his wife's mantle from off her back, the prototype not only of
the crafty architect of Rhampsinitos, but even of the ungrateful slave
who robs Sancho of his mule in the Sierra Morena. He furnishes in part
the conceptions of Boots and Reynard; he is the prototype of Paul Pry
and peeping Tom of Coventry; and in virtue of his ability to contract or
expand himself at pleasure, he is both the Devil in the Norse Tale, [22]
whom the lad persuades to enter a walnut, and the Arabian Efreet, whom
the fisherman releases from the bottle.

The very interesting series of myths and popular superstitions suggested
by the storm-cloud and the lightning must be reserved for a future
occasion. When carefully examined, they will richly illustrate the
conclusion which is the result of the present inquiry, that the
marvellous tales and quaint superstitions current in every Aryan
household have a common origin with the classic legends of gods and
heroes, which formerly were alone thought worthy of the student's
serious attention. These stories--some of them familiar to us in
infancy, others the delight of our maturer years--constitute the debris,
or alluvium, brought down by the stream of tradition from the distant
highlands of ancient mythology.

September, 1870.


IN the course of my last summer's vacation, which was spent at a small
inland village, I came upon an unexpected illustration of the tenacity
with which conceptions descended from prehistoric antiquity have now
and then kept their hold upon life. While sitting one evening under the
trees by the roadside, my attention was called to the unusual conduct of
half a dozen men and boys who were standing opposite. An elderly man
was moving slowly up and down the road, holding with both hands a forked
twig of hazel, shaped like the letter Y inverted. With his palms turned
upward, he held in each hand a branch of the twig in such a way that the
shank pointed upward; but every few moments, as he halted over a certain
spot, the twig would gradually bend downwards until it had assumed the
likeness of a Y in its natural position, where it would remain pointing
to something in the ground beneath. One by one the bystanders proceeded
to try the experiment, but with no variation in the result. Something in
the ground seemed to fascinate the bit of hazel, for it could not pass
over that spot without bending down and pointing to it.

My thoughts reverted at once to Jacques Aymar and Dousterswivel, as
I perceived that these men were engaged in sorcery. During the long
drought more than half the wells in the village had become dry, and here
was an attempt to make good the loss by the aid of the god Thor. These
men were seeking water with a divining-rod. Here, alive before my eyes,
was a superstitious observance, which I had supposed long since dead and
forgotten by all men except students interested in mythology.

As I crossed the road to take part in the ceremony a farmer's boy came
up, stoutly affirming his incredulity,

and offering to show the company how he could carry the rod motionless
across the charmed spot. But when he came to take the weird twig he
trembled with an ill-defined feeling of insecurity as to the soundness
of his conclusions, and when he stood over the supposed rivulet the rod
bent in spite of him,--as was not so very strange. For, with all his
vague scepticism, the honest lad had not, and could not be supposed to
have, the foi scientifique of which Littre speaks. [23]

Hereupon I requested leave to try the rod; but something in my manner
seemed at once to excite the suspicion and scorn of the sorcerer. "Yes,
take it," said he, with uncalled-for vehemence, "but you can't stop it;
there's water below here, and you can't help its bending, if you break
your back trying to hold it." So he gave me the twig, and awaited, with
a smile which was meant to express withering sarcasm, the discomfiture
of the supposed scoffer. But when I proceeded to walk four or five times
across the mysterious place, the rod pointing steadfastly toward the
zenith all the while, our friend became grave and began to philosophize.
"Well," said he, "you see, your temperament is peculiar; the conditions
ain't favourable in your case; there are some people who never can work
these things. But there's water below here, for all that, as you'll
find, if you dig for it; there's nothing like a hazel-rod for finding
out water."

Very true: there are some persons who never can make such things work;
who somehow always encounter "unfavourable conditions" when they wish
to test the marvellous powers of a clairvoyant; who never can make
"Planchette" move in conformity to the requirements of any known
alphabet; who never see ghosts, and never have "presentiments," save
such as are obviously due to association of ideas. The ill-success of
these persons is commonly ascribed to their lack of faith; but, in the
majority of cases, it might be more truly referred to the strength of
their faith,--faith in the constancy of nature, and in the adequacy
of ordinary human experience as interpreted by science. [24] La foi
scientifique is an excellent preventive against that obscure, though not
uncommon, kind of self-deception which enables wooden tripods to write
and tables to tip and hazel-twigs to twist upside-down, without the
conscious intervention of the performer. It was this kind of faith, no
doubt, which caused the discomfiture of Jacques Aymar on his visit to
Paris, [25] and which has in late years prevented persons from obtaining
the handsome prize offered by the French Academy for the first authentic
case of clairvoyance.

But our village friend, though perhaps constructively right in his
philosophizing, was certainly very defective in his acquaintance with
the time-honoured art of rhabdomancy. Had he extended his inquiries so
as to cover the field of Indo-European tradition, he would have learned
that the mountain-ash, the mistletoe, the white and black thorn, the
Hindu asvattha, and several other woods, are quite as efficient as the
hazel for the purpose of detecting water in times of drought; and in due
course of time he would have perceived that the divining-rod itself
is but one among a large class of things to which popular belief has
ascribed, along with other talismanic properties, the power of opening
the ground or cleaving rocks, in order to reveal hidden treasures.
Leaving him in peace, then, with his bit of forked hazel, to seek for
cooling springs in some future thirsty season, let us endeavour to
elucidate the origin of this curious superstition.

The detection of subterranean water is by no means the only use to
which the divining-rod has been put. Among the ancient Frisians it was
regularly used for the detection of criminals; and the reputation of
Jacques Aymar was won by his discovery of the perpetrator of a horrible
murder at Lyons. Throughout Europe it has been used from time immemorial
by miners for ascertaining the position of veins of metal; and in the
days when talents were wrapped in napkins and buried in the field,
instead of being exposed to the risks of financial speculation, the
divining-rod was employed by persons covetous of their neighbours'
wealth. If Boulatruelle had lived in the sixteenth century, he would
have taken a forked stick of hazel when he went to search for the buried
treasures of Jean Valjean. It has also been applied to the cure of
disease, and has been kept in households, like a wizard's charm, to
insure general good-fortune and immunity from disaster.

As we follow the conception further into the elf-land of popular
tradition, we come upon a rod which not only points out the situation of
hidden treasure, but even splits open the ground and reveals the mineral
wealth contained therein. In German legend, "a shepherd, who was driving
his flock over the Ilsenstein, having stopped to rest, leaning on his
staff, the mountain suddenly opened, for there was a springwort in his
staff without his knowing it, and the princess [Ilse] stood before him.
She bade him follow her, and when he was inside the mountain she told
him to take as much gold as he pleased. The shepherd filled all his
pockets, and was going away, when the princess called after him, 'Forget
not the best.' So, thinking she meant that he had not taken enough,
he filled his hat also; but what she meant was his staff with the
springwort, which he had laid against the wall as soon as he stepped
in. But now, just as he was going out at the opening, the rock suddenly
slammed together and cut him in two." [26]

Here the rod derives its marvellous properties from the enclosed
springwort, but in many cases a leaf or flower is itself competent to
open the hillside. The little blue flower, forget-me-not, about which
so many sentimental associations have clustered, owes its name to the
legends told of its talismanic virtues. [27] A man, travelling on a
lonely mountain, picks up a little blue flower and sticks it in his hat.
Forthwith an iron door opens, showing up a lighted passage-way, through
which the man advances into a magnificent hall, where rubies and
diamonds and all other kinds of gems are lying piled in great heaps on
the floor. As he eagerly fills his pockets his hat drops from his head,
and when he turns to go out the little flower calls after him, "Forget
me not!" He turns back and looks around, but is too bewildered with his
good fortune to think of his bare head or of the luck-flower which he
has let fall. He selects several more of the finest jewels he can
find, and again starts to go out; but as he passes through the door the
mountain closes amid the crashing of thunder, and cuts off one of his
heels. Alone, in the gloom of the forest, he searches in vain for the
mysterious door: it has disappeared forever, and the traveller goes on
his way, thankful, let us hope, that he has fared no worse.

Sometimes it is a white lady, like the Princess Ilse, who invites the
finder of the luck-flower to help himself to her treasures, and who
utters the enigmatical warning. The mountain where the event occurred
may be found almost anywhere in Germany, and one just like it stood in
Persia, in the golden prime of Haroun Alraschid. In the story of the
Forty Thieves, the mere name of the plant sesame serves as a talisman to
open and shut the secret door which leads into the robbers' cavern; and
when the avaricious Cassim Baba, absorbed in the contemplation of the
bags of gold and bales of rich merchandise, forgets the magic formula,
he meets no better fate than the shepherd of the Ilsenstein. In the
story of Prince Ahmed, it is an enchanted arrow which guides the young
adventurer through the hillside to the grotto of the Peri Banou. In
the tale of Baba Abdallah, it is an ointment rubbed on the eyelid which
reveals at a single glance all the treasures hidden in the bowels of the

The ancient Romans also had their rock-breaking plant, called Saxifraga,
or "sassafras." And the further we penetrate into this charmed circle
of traditions the more evident does it appear that the power of cleaving
rocks or shattering hard substances enters, as a primitive element, into
the conception of these treasure-showing talismans. Mr. Baring-Gould
has given an excellent account of the rabbinical legends concerning the
wonderful schamir, by the aid of which Solomon was said to have built
his temple. From Asmodeus, prince of the Jann, Benaiah, the son of
Jehoiada, wrested the secret of a worm no bigger than a barley-corn,
which could split the hardest substance. This worm was called schamir.
"If Solomon desired to possess himself of the worm, he must find the
nest of the moor-hen, and cover it with a plate of glass, so that the
mother bird could not get at her young without breaking the glass. She
would seek schamir for the purpose, and the worm must be obtained from
her." As the Jewish king did need the worm in order to hew the stones
for that temple which was to be built without sound of hammer, or axe,
or any tool of iron, [28] he sent Benaiah to obtain it. According to
another account, schamir was a mystic stone which enabled Solomon to
penetrate the earth in search of mineral wealth. Directed by a Jinni,
the wise king covered a raven's eggs with a plate of crystal, and thus
obtained schamir which the bird brought in order to break the plate.

In these traditions, which may possibly be of Aryan descent, due to the
prolonged intercourse between the Jews and the Persians, a new feature
is added to those before enumerated: the rock-splitting talisman is
always found in the possession of a bird. The same feature in the myth
reappears on Aryan soil. The springwort, whose marvellous powers we have
noticed in the case of the Ilsenstein shepherd, is obtained, according
to Pliny, by stopping up the hole in a tree where a woodpecker keeps its
young. The bird flies away, and presently returns with the springwort,
which it applies to the plug, causing it to shoot out with a loud
explosion. The same account is given in German folk-lore. Elsewhere,
as in Iceland, Normandy, and ancient Greece, the bird is an eagle, a
swallow, an ostrich, or a hoopoe.

In the Icelandic and Pomeranian myths the schamir, or "raven-stone,"
also renders its possessor invisible,--a property which it shares with
one of the treasure-finding plants, the fern. [30] In this respect
it resembles the ring of Gyges, as in its divining and rock-splitting
qualities it resembles that other ring which the African magrician gave
to Aladdin, to enable him to descend into the cavern where stood the
wonderful lamp.

According to one North German tradition, the luck-flower also will make
its finder invisible at pleasure. But, as the myth shrewdly adds, it is
absolutely essential that the flower be found by accident: he who seeks
for it never finds it! Thus all cavils are skilfully forestalled,
even if not satisfactorily disposed of. The same kind of reasoning is
favoured by our modern dealers in mystery: somehow the "conditions"
always are askew whenever a scientific observer wishes to test their

In the North of Europe schamir appears strangely and grotesquely
metamorphosed. The hand of a man that has been hanged, when dried and
prepared with certain weird unguents and set on fire, is known as the
Hand of Glory; and as it not only bursts open all safe-locks, but also
lulls to sleep all persons within the circle of its influence, it is of
course invaluable to thieves and burglars. I quote the following story
from Thorpe's "Northern Mythology": "Two fellows once came to Huy, who
pretended to be exceedingly fatigued, and when they had supped would
not retire to a sleeping-room, but begged their host would allow them
to take a nap on the hearth. But the maid-servant, who did not like the
looks of the two guests, remained by the kitchen door and peeped through
a chink, when she saw that one of them drew a thief's hand from his
pocket, the fingers of which, after having rubbed them with an ointment,
he lighted, and they all burned except one. Again they held this finger
to the fire, but still it would not burn, at which they appeared much
surprised, and one said, 'There must surely be some one in the house
who is not yet asleep.' They then hung the hand with its four burning
fingers by the chimney, and went out to call their associates. But the
maid followed them instantly and made the door fast, then ran up stairs,
where the landlord slept, that she might wake him, but was unable,
notwithstanding all her shaking and calling. In the mean time the
thieves had returned and were endeavouring to enter the house by a
window, but the maid cast them down from the ladder. They then took a
different course, and would have forced an entrance, had it not occurred
to the maid that the burning fingers might probably be the cause of her
master's profound sleep. Impressed with this idea she ran to the kitchen
and blew them out, when the master and his men-servants instantly
awoke, and soon drove away the robbers." The same event is said to have
occurred at Stainmore in England; and Torquermada relates of Mexican
thieves that they carry with them the left hand of a woman who has died
in her first childbed, before which talisman all bolts yield and all
opposition is benumbed. In 1831 "some Irish thieves attempted to commit
a robbery on the estate of Mr. Naper, of Loughcrew, county Meath. They
entered the house armed with a dead man's hand with a lighted candle in
it, believing in the superstitious notion that a candle placed in a dead
man's hand will not be seen by any but those by whom it is used; and
also that if a candle in a dead hand be introduced into a house, it will
prevent those who may be asleep from awaking. The inmates, however, were
alarmed, and the robbers fled, leaving the hand behind them." [31]

In the Middle Ages the hand of glory was used, just like the
divining-rod, for the detection of buried treasures.

Here, then, we have a large and motley group of objects--the forked
rod of ash or hazel, the springwort and the luck-flower, leaves,
worms, stones, rings, and dead men's hands--which are for the most part
competent to open the way into cavernous rocks, and which all agree
in pointing out hidden wealth. We find, moreover, that many of these
charmed objects are carried about by birds, and that some of them
possess, in addition to their generic properties, the specific power of
benumbing people's senses. What, now, is the common origin of this whole
group of superstitions? And since mythology has been shown to be the
result of primeval attempts to explain the phenomena of nature, what
natural phenomenon could ever have given rise to so many seemingly
wanton conceptions? Hopeless as the problem may at first sight seem, it
has nevertheless been solved. In his great treatise on "The Descent
of Fire," Dr. Kuhn has shown that all these legends and traditions are
descended from primitive myths explanatory of the lightning and the
storm-cloud. [32]

To us, who are nourished from childhood on the truths revealed by
science, the sky is known to be merely an optical appearance due to the
partial absorption of the solar rays in passing through a thick stratum
of atmospheric air; the clouds are known to be large masses of watery
vapour, which descend in rain-drops when sufficiently condensed; and
the lightning is known to be a flash of light accompanying an electric
discharge. But these conceptions are extremely recondite, and have been
attained only through centuries of philosophizing and after careful
observation and laborious experiment. To the untaught mind of a child or
of an uncivilized man, it seems far more natural and plausible to regard
the sky as a solid dome of blue crystal, the clouds as snowy mountains,
or perhaps even as giants or angels, the lightning as a flashing dart or
a fiery serpent. In point of fact, we find that the conceptions actually
entertained are often far more grotesque than these. I can recollect
once framing the hypothesis that the flaming clouds of sunset were
transient apparitions, vouchsafed us by way of warning, of that burning
Calvinistic hell with which my childish imagination had been unwisely
terrified; [33] and I have known of a four-year-old boy who thought that
the snowy clouds of noonday were the white robes of the angels hung out
to dry in the sun. [34] My little daughter is anxious to know whether
it is necessary to take a balloon in order to get to the place where
God lives, or whether the same end can be accomplished by going to the
horizon and crawling up the sky; [35] the Mohammedan of old was working
at the same problem when he called the rainbow the bridge Es-Sirat, over
which souls must pass on their way to heaven. According to the ancient
Jew, the sky was a solid plate, hammered out by the gods, and spread
over the earth in order to keep up the ocean overhead; [36] but the
plate was full of little windows, which were opened whenever it became
necessary to let the rain come through. [37] With equal plausibility
the Greek represented the rainy sky as a sieve in which the daughters
of Danaos were vainly trying to draw water; while to the Hindu the
rain-clouds were celestial cattle milked by the wind-god. In primitive
Aryan lore, the sky itself was a blue sea, and the clouds were ships
sailing over it; and an English legend tells how one of these ships
once caught its anchor on a gravestone in the churchyard, to the great
astonishment of the people who were coming out of church. Charon's
ferry-boat was one of these vessels, and another was Odin's golden ship,
in which the souls of slain heroes were conveyed to Valhalla. Hence it
was once the Scandinavian practice to bury the dead in boats; and in
Altmark a penny is still placed in the mouth of the corpse, that it may
have the means of paying its fare to the ghostly ferryman. [38] In such
a vessel drifted the Lady of Shalott on her fatal voyage; and of similar
nature was the dusky barge, "dark as a funeral-scarf from stem to
stern," in which Arthur was received by the black-hooded queens. [39]

But the fact that a natural phenomenon was explained in one way did not
hinder it from being explained in a dozen other ways. The fact that the
sun was generally regarded as an all-conquering hero did not prevent
its being called an egg, an apple, or a frog squatting on the waters, or
Ixion's wheel, or the eye of Polyphemos, or the stone of Sisyphos, which
was no sooner pushed to the zenith than it rolled down to the horizon.
So the sky was not only a crystal dome, or a celestial ocean, but it was
also the Aleian land through which Bellerophon wandered, the country of
the Lotos-eaters, or again the realm of the Graiai beyond the twilight;
and finally it was personified and worshipped as Dyaus or Varuna, the
Vedic prototypes of the Greek Zeus and Ouranos. The clouds, too, had
many other representatives besides ships and cows. In a future paper it
will be shown that they were sometimes regarded as angels or houris; at
present it more nearly concerns us to know that they appear, throughout
all Aryan mythology, under the form of birds. It used to be a matter of
hopeless wonder to me that Aladdin's innocent request for a roc's egg
to hang in the dome of his palace should have been regarded as a crime
worthy of punishment by the loss of the wonderful lamp; the obscurest
part of the whole affair being perhaps the Jinni's passionate allusion
to the egg as his master: "Wretch! dost thou command me to bring thee
my master, and hang him up in the midst of this vaulted dome?" But the
incident is to some extent cleared of its mystery when we learn that
the roc's egg is the bright sun, and that the roc itself is the rushing
storm-cloud which, in the tale of Sindbad, haunts the sparkling starry
firmament, symbolized as a valley of diamonds. [40] According to one
Arabic authority, the length of its wings is ten thousand fathoms. But
in European tradition it dwindles from these huge dimensions to the size
of an eagle, a raven, or a woodpecker. Among the birds enumerated by
Kuhn and others as representing the storm-cloud are likewise the wren
or "kinglet" (French roitelet); the owl, sacred to Athene; the cuckoo,
stork, and sparrow; and the red-breasted robin, whose name Robert was
originally an epithet of the lightning-god Thor. In certain parts of
France it is still believed that the robbing of a wren's nest will
render the culprit liable to be struck by lightning. The same belief was
formerly entertained in Teutonic countries with respect to the robin;
and I suppose that from this superstition is descended the prevalent
notion, which I often encountered in childhood, that there is something
peculiarly wicked in killing robins.

Now, as the raven or woodpecker, in the various myths of schamir, is the
dark storm-cloud, so the rock-splitting worm or plant or pebble which
the bird carries in its beak and lets fall to the ground is nothing more
or less than the flash of lightning carried and dropped by the cloud.
"If the cloud was supposed to be a great bird, the lightnings were
regarded as writhing worms or serpents in its beak. These fiery
serpents, elikiai gram-moeidws feromenoi, are believed in to this day by
the Canadian Indians, who call the thunder their hissing." [41]

But these are not the only mythical conceptions which are to be found
wrapped up in the various myths of schamir and the divining-rod. The
persons who told these stories were not weaving ingenious allegories
about thunder-storms; they were telling stories, or giving utterance
to superstitions, of which the original meaning was forgotten. The old
grannies who, along with a stoical indifference to the fate of quails
and partridges, used to impress upon me the wickedness of killing
robins, did not add that I should be struck by lightning if I failed to
heed their admonitions. They had never heard that the robin was the bird
of Thor; they merely rehearsed the remnant of the superstition which
had survived to their own times, while the essential part of it had long
since faded from recollection. The reason for regarding a robin's
life as more sacred than a partridge's had been forgotten; but it left
behind, as was natural, a vague recognition of that mythical sanctity.
The primitive meaning of a myth fades away as inevitably as the
primitive meaning of a word or phrase; and the rabbins who told of a
worm which shatters rocks no more thought of the writhing thunderbolts
than the modern reader thinks of oyster-shells when he sees the word
ostracism, or consciously breathes a prayer as he writes the phrase good
bye. It is only in its callow infancy that the full force of a myth is
felt, and its period of luxuriant development dates from the time when
its physical significance is lost or obscured. It was because the Greek
had forgotten that Zeus meant the bright sky, that he could make him
king over an anthropomorphic Olympos. The Hindu Dyaus, who carried his
significance in his name as plainly as the Greek Helios, never attained
such an exalted position; he yielded to deities of less obvious
pedigree, such as Brahma and Vishnu.

Since, therefore, the myth-tellers recounted merely the wonderful
stories which their own nurses and grandmas had told them, and had no
intention of weaving subtle allegories or wrapping up a physical
truth in mystic emblems, it follows that they were not bound to
avoid incongruities or to preserve a philosophical symmetry in their
narratives. In the great majority of complex myths, no such symmetry is
to be found. A score of different mythical conceptions would get wrought
into the same story, and the attempt to pull them apart and construct a
single harmonious system of conceptions out of the pieces must often end
in ingenious absurdity. If Odysseus is unquestionably the sun, so is the
eye of Polyphemos, which Odysseus puts out. [42] But the Greek poet knew
nothing of the incongruity, for he was thinking only of a superhuman
hero freeing himself from a giant cannibal; he knew nothing of Sanskrit,
or of comparative mythology, and the sources of his myths were as
completely hidden from his view as the sources of the Nile.

We need not be surprised, then, to find that in one version of the
schamir-myth the cloud is the bird which carries the worm, while in
another version the cloud is the rock or mountain which the talisman
cleaves open; nor need we wonder at it, if we find stories in which the
two conceptions are mingled together without regard to an incongruity
which in the mind of the myth-teller no longer exists. [43]

In early Aryan mythology there is nothing by which the clouds are
more frequently represented than by rocks or mountains. Such were the
Symplegades, which, charmed by the harp of the wind-god Orpheus, parted
to make way for the talking ship Argo, with its crew of solar heroes.
[44] Such, too, were the mountains Ossa and Pelion, which the giants
piled up one upon another in their impious assault upon Zeus, the lord
of the bright sky. As Mr. Baring-Gould observes: "The ancient Aryan had
the same name for cloud and mountain. To him the piles of vapour on the
horizon were so like Alpine ranges, that he had but one word whereby to
designate both. [45] These great mountains of heaven were opened by the
lightning. In the sudden flash he beheld the dazzling splendour within,
but only for a moment, and then, with a crash, the celestial rocks
closed again. Believing these vaporous piles to contain resplendent
treasures of which partial glimpse was obtained by mortals in a
momentary gleam, tales were speedily formed, relating the adventures of
some who had succeeded in entering these treasure-mountains."

This sudden flash is the smiting of the cloud-rock by the arrow of
Ahmed, the resistless hammer of Thor, the spear of Odin, the trident
of Poseidon, or the rod of Hermes. The forked streak of light is the
archetype of the divining-rod in its oldest form,--that in which it
not only indicates the hidden treasures, but, like the staff of the
Ilsenstein shepherd, bursts open the enchanted crypt and reveals them
to the astonished wayfarer. Hence the one thing essential to the
divining-rod, from whatever tree it be chosen, is that it shall be

It is not difficult to comprehend the reasons which led the ancients
to speak of the lightning as a worm, serpent, trident, arrow, or forked
wand; but when we inquire why it was sometimes symbolized as a flower or
leaf; or when we seek to ascertain why certain trees, such as the ash,
hazel, white-thorn, and mistletoe, were supposed to be in a certain
sense embodiments of it, we are entering upon a subject too complicated
to be satisfactorily treated within the limits of the present paper. It
has been said that the point of resemblance between a cow and a comet,
that both have tails, was quite enough for the primitive word-maker: it
was certainly enough for the primitive myth-teller. [46] Sometimes the
pinnate shape of a leaf, the forking of a branch, the tri-cleft corolla,
or even the red colour of a flower, seems to have been sufficient to
determine the association of ideas. The Hindu commentators of the Veda
certainly lay great stress on the fact that the palasa, one of their
lightning-trees, is trident-leaved. The mistletoe branch is forked, like
a wish-bone, [47] and so is the stem which bears the forget-me-not or
wild scorpion grass. So too the leaves of the Hindu ficus religiosa
resemble long spear-heads. [48] But in many cases it is impossible
for us to determine with confidence the reasons which may have guided
primitive men in their choice of talismanic plants. In the case of some
of these stories, it would no doubt be wasting ingenuity to attempt to
assign a mythical origin for each point of detail. The ointment of the
dervise, for instance, in the Arabian tale, has probably no special
mythical significance, but was rather suggested by the exigencies of the
story, in an age when the old mythologies were so far disintegrated and
mingled together that any one talisman would serve as well as another
the purposes of the narrator. But the lightning-plants of Indo-European
folk-lore cannot be thus summarily disposed of; for however difficult it
may be for us to perceive any connection between them and the celestial
phenomena which they represent, the myths concerning them are so
numerous and explicit as to render it certain that some such connection
was imagined by the myth-makers. The superstition concerning the hand
of glory is not so hard to interpret. In the mythology of the Finns, the
storm-cloud is a black man with a bright copper hand; and in Hindustan,
Indra Savitar, the deity who slays the demon of the cloud, is
golden-handed. The selection of the hand of a man who has been hanged
is probably due to the superstition which regarded the storm-god Odin
as peculiarly the lord of the gallows. The man who is raised upon the
gallows is placed directly in the track of the wild huntsman, who comes
with his hounds to carry off the victim; and hence the notion, which,
according to Mr. Kelly, is "very common in Germany and not extinct in
England," that every suicide by hanging is followed by a storm.

The paths of comparative mythology are devious, but we have now pursued
them long enough I believe, to have arrived at a tolerably clear
understanding of the original nature of the divining-rod. Its power of
revealing treasures has been sufficiently explained; and its affinity
for water results so obviously from the character of the lightning-myth
as to need no further comment. But its power of detecting criminals
still remains to be accounted for.

In Greek mythology, the being which detects and punishes crime is the
Erinys, the prototype of the Latin Fury, figured by late writers as a
horrible monster with serpent locks. But this is a degradation of the
original conception. The name Erinys did not originally mean Fury, and
it cannot be explained from Greek sources alone. It appears in Sanskrit
as Saranyu, a word which signifies the light of morning creeping over
the sky. And thus we are led to the startling conclusion that, as the
light of morning reveals the evil deeds done under the cover of night,
so the lovely Dawn, or Erinys, came to be regarded under one aspect
as the terrible detector and avenger of iniquity. Yet startling as the
conclusion is, it is based on established laws of phonetic change, and
cannot be gainsaid.

But what has the avenging daybreak to do with the lightning and the
divining-rod? To the modern mind the association is not an obvious one:
in antiquity it was otherwise. Myths of the daybreak and myths of
the lightning often resemble each other so closely that, except by a
delicate philological analysis, it is difficult to distinguish the one
from the other. The reason is obvious. In each case the phenomenon to be
explained is the struggle between the day-god and one of the demons
of darkness. There is essentially no distinction to the mind of the
primitive man between the Panis, who steal Indra's bright cows and
keep them in a dark cavern all night, and the throttling snake Ahi or
Echidna, who imprisons the waters in the stronghold of the thunder-cloud
and covers the earth with a short-lived darkness. And so the poisoned
arrows of Bellerophon, which slay the storm-dragon, differ in no
essential respect from the shafts with which Odysseus slaughters the
night-demons who have for ten long hours beset his mansion. Thus the
divining-rod, representing as it does the weapon of the god of day,
comes legitimately enough by its function of detecting and avenging

But the lightning not only reveals strange treasures and gives water to
the thirsty land and makes plain what is doing under cover of darkness;
it also sometimes kills, benumbs, or paralyzes. Thus the head of the
Gorgon Medusa turns into stone those who look upon it. Thus the ointment
of the dervise, in the tale of Baba Abdallah, not only reveals all the
treasures of the earth, but instantly thereafter blinds the unhappy man
who tests its powers. And thus the hand of glory, which bursts open bars
and bolts, benumbs also those who happen to be near it. Indeed, few of
the favoured mortals who were allowed to visit the caverns opened by
sesame or the luck-flower, escaped without disaster. The monkish tale of
"The Clerk and the Image," in which the primeval mythical features are
curiously distorted, well illustrates this point.

In the city of Rome there formerly stood an image with its right hand
extended and on its forefinger the words "strike here." Many wise men
puzzled in vain over the meaning of the inscription; but at last a
certain priest observed that whenever the sun shone on the figure, the
shadow of the finger was discernible on the ground at a little distance
from the statue. Having marked the spot, he waited until midnight, and
then began to dig. At last his spade struck upon something hard. It
was a trap-door, below which a flight of marble steps descended into a
spacious hall, where many men were sitting in solemn silence amid piles
of gold and diamonds and long rows of enamelled vases. Beyond this he
found another room, a gynaecium filled with beautiful women reclining
on richly embroidered sofas; yet here, too, all was profound silence.
A superb banqueting-hall next met his astonished gaze; then a silent
kitchen; then granaries loaded with forage; then a stable crowded
with motionless horses. The whole place was brilliantly lighted by a
carbuncle which was suspended in one corner of the reception-room; and
opposite stood an archer, with his bow and arrow raised, in the act of
taking aim at the jewel. As the priest passed back through this hall, he
saw a diamond-hilted knife lying on a marble table; and wishing to carry
away something wherewith to accredit his story, he reached out his
hand to take it; but no sooner had he touched it than all was dark. The
archer had shot with his arrow, the bright jewel was shivered into a
thousand pieces, the staircase had fled, and the priest found himself
buried alive. [49]

Usually, however, though the lightning is wont to strike dead, with its
basilisk glance, those who rashly enter its mysterious caverns, it is
regarded rather as a benefactor than as a destroyer. The feelings with
which the myth-making age contemplated the thunder-shower as it
revived the earth paralyzed by a long drought, are shown in the myth of
Oidipous. The Sphinx, whose name signifies "the one who binds," is the
demon who sits on the cloud-rock and imprisons the rain, muttering, dark
sayings which none but the all-knowing sun may understand. The flash
of solar light which causes the monster to fling herself down from the
cliff with a fearful roar, restores the land to prosperity. But besides
this, the association of the thunder-storm with the approach of summer
has produced many myths in which the lightning is symbolized as the
life-renewing wand of the victorious sun-god. Hence the use of the
divining-rod in the cure of disease; and hence the large family of
schamir-myths in which the dead are restored to life by leaves or herbs.
In Grimm's tale of the "Three Snake Leaves," a prince is buried alive
(like Sindbad) with his dead wife, and seeing a snake approaching her
body, he cuts it in three pieces. Presently another snake, crawling from
the corner, saw the other lying dead, and going, away soon returned
with three green leaves in its mouth; then laying the parts of the body
together so as to join, it put one leaf on each wound, and the dead
snake was alive again. The prince, applying the leaves to his wife's
body, restores her also to life." [50] In the Greek story, told by
AElian and Apollodoros, Polyidos is shut up with the corpse of Glaukos,
which he is ordered to restore to life. He kills a dragon which is
approaching the body, but is presently astonished at seeing another
dragon come with a blade of grass and place it upon its dead companion,
which instantly rises from the ground. Polyidos takes the same blade of
grass, and with it resuscitates Glaukos. The same incident occurs in the
Hindu story of Panch Phul Ranee, and in Fouque's "Sir Elidoc," which is
founded on a Breton legend.

We need not wonder, then, at the extraordinary therapeutic
properties which are in all Aryan folk-lore ascribed to the
various lightning-plants. In Sweden sanitary amulets are made of
mistletoe-twigs, and the plant is supposed to be a specific against
epilepsy and an antidote for poisons. In Cornwall children are passed
through holes in ash-trees in order to cure them of hernia. Ash rods are
used in some parts of England for the cure of diseased sheep, cows, and
horses; and in particular they are supposed to neutralize the venom
of serpents. The notion that snakes are afraid of an ash-tree is not
extinct even in the United States. The other day I was told, not by an
old granny, but by a man fairly educated and endowed with a very unusual
amount of good common-sense, that a rattlesnake will sooner go through
fire than creep over ash leaves or into the shadow of an ash-tree.
Exactly the same statement is made by Piny, who adds that if you draw
a circle with an ash rod around the spot of ground on which a snake
is lying, the animal must die of starvation, being as effectually
imprisoned as Ugolino in the dungeon at Pisa. In Cornwall it is believed
that a blow from an ash stick will instantly kill any serpent. The ash
shares this virtue with the hazel and fern. A Swedish peasant will tell
you that snakes may be deprived of their venom by a touch with a hazel
wand; and when an ancient Greek had occasion to make his bed in the
woods, he selected fern leaves if possible, in the belief that the smell
of them would drive away poisonous animals. [51]

But the beneficent character of the lightning appears still more clearly
in another class of myths. To the primitive man the shaft of light
coming down from heaven was typical of the original descent of fire for
the benefit and improvement of the human race. The Sioux Indians account
for the origin of fire by a myth of unmistakable kinship; they say that
"their first ancestor obtained his fire from the sparks which a friendly
panther struck from the rocks as he scampered up a stony hill." [52]
This panther is obviously the counterpart of the Aryan bird which
drops schamir. But the Aryan imagination hit upon a far more remarkable
conception. The ancient Hindus obtained fire by a process similar to
that employed by Count Rumford in his experiments on the generation of
heat by friction. They first wound a couple of cords around a pointed
stick in such a way that the unwinding of the one would wind up the
other, and then, placing the point of the stick against a circular disk
of wood, twirled it rapidly by alternate pulls on the two strings. This
instrument is called a chark, and is still used in South Africa, [53]
in Australia, in Sumatra, and among the Veddahs of Ceylon. The Russians
found it in Kamtchatka; and it was formerly employed in America, from
Labrador to the Straits of Magellan. [54] The Hindus churned milk by
a similar process; [55] and in order to explain the thunder-storm, a
Sanskrit poem tells how "once upon a time the Devas, or gods, and their
opponents, the Asuras, made a truce, and joined together in churning
the ocean to procure amrita, the drink of immortality. They took Mount
Mandara for a churning-stick, and, wrapping the great serpent Sesha
round it for a rope, they made the mountain spin round to and fro, the
Devas pulling at the serpent's tail, and the Asuras at its head." [56]
In this myth the churning-stick, with its flying serpent-cords, is
the lightning, and the armrita, or drink of immortality, is simply the
rain-water, which in Aryan folk-lore possesses the same healing virtues
as the lightning. "In Sclavonic myths it is the water of life which
restores the dead earth, a water brought by a bird from the depths of a
gloomy cave." [57] It is the celestial soma or mead which Indra loves
to drink; it is the ambrosial nectar of the Olympian gods; it is the
charmed water which in the Arabian Nights restores to human shape
the victims of wicked sorcerers; and it is the elixir of life which
mediaeval philosophers tried to discover, and in quest of which Ponce de
Leon traversed the wilds of Florida. [58]

"Jacky's next proceeding was to get some dry sticks and wood, and
prepare a fire, which, to George's astonishment, he lighted thus. He got
a block of wood, in the middle of which he made a hole; then he cut and
pointed a long stick, and inserting the point into the block, worked
it round between his palms for some time and with increasing rapidity.
Presently there came a smell of burning wood, and soon after it burst
into a flame at the point of contact. Jacky cut slices of shark and
roasted them."--Reade, Never too Late to Mend, chap. xxxviii.

The most interesting point in this Hindu myth is the name of the peaked
mountain Mandara, or Manthara, which the gods and devils took for their
churning-stick. The word means "a churning-stick," and it appears also,
with a prefixed preposition, in the name of the fire-drill, pramantha.
Now Kuhn has proved that this name, pramantha, is etymologically
identical with Prometheus, the name of the beneficent Titan, who stole
fire from heaven and bestowed it upon mankind as the richest of boons.
This sublime personage was originally nothing but the celestial drill
which churns fire out of the clouds; but the Greeks had so entirely
forgotten his origin that they interpreted his name as meaning "the one
who thinks beforehand," and accredited him with a brother, Epimetheus,
or "the one who thinks too late." The Greeks had adopted another name,
trypanon, for their fire-drill, and thus the primitive character of
Prometheus became obscured.

I have said above that it was regarded as absolutely essential that
the divining-rod should be forked. To this rule, however, there was one
exception, and if any further evidence be needed to convince the
most sceptical that the divining-rod is nothing but a symbol of
the lightning, that exception will furnish such evidence. For this
exceptional kind of divining-rod was made of a pointed stick rotating
in a block of wood, and it was the presence of hidden water or treasure
which was supposed to excite the rotatory motion.

In the myths relating to Prometheus, the lightning-god appears as the
originator of civilization, sometimes as the creator of the human race,
and always as its friend, [59] suffering in its behalf the most fearful
tortures at the hands of the jealous Zeus. In one story he creates man
by making a clay image and infusing into it a spark of the fire which he
had brought from heaven; in another story he is himself the first man.
In the Peloponnesian myth Phoroneus, who is Prometheus under another
name, is the first man, and his mother was an ash-tree. In Norse
mythology, also, the gods were said to have made the first man out of
the ash-tree Yggdrasil. The association of the heavenly fire with
the life-giving forces of nature is very common in the myths of both
hemispheres, and in view of the facts already cited it need not surprise
us. Hence the Hindu Agni and the Norse Thor were patrons of marriage,
and in Norway, the most lucky day on which to be married is still
supposed to be Thursday, which in old times was the day of the
fire-god. [60] Hence the lightning-plants have divers virtues in
matters pertaining to marriage. The Romans made their wedding torches
of whitethorn; hazel-nuts are still used all over Europe in divinations
relating to the future lover or sweetheart; [61] and under a mistletoe
bough it is allowable for a gentleman to kiss a lady. A vast number of
kindred superstitions are described by Mr. Kelly, to whom I am indebted
for many of these examples. [62]

Thus we reach at last the completed conception of the divining-rod, or
as it is called in this sense the wish-rod, with its kindred talismans,
from Aladdin's lamp and the purse of Bedreddin Hassan, to the Sangreal,
the philosopher's stone, and the goblets of Oberon and Tristram. These
symbols of the reproductive energies of nature, which give to the
possessor every good and perfect gift, illustrate the uncurbed belief in
the power of wish which the ancient man shared with modern children. In
the Norse story of Frodi's quern, the myth assumes a whimsical shape.
The prose Edda tells of a primeval age of gold, when everybody had
whatever he wanted. This was because the giant Frodi had a mill which
ground out peace and plenty and abundance of gold withal, so that it lay
about the roads like pebbles. Through the inexcusable avarice of
Frodi, this wonderful implement was lost to the world. For he kept his
maid-servants working at the mill until they got out of patience, and
began to make it grind out hatred and war. Then came a mighty sea-rover
by night and slew Frodi and carried away the maids and the quern. When
he got well out to sea, he told them to grind out salt, and so they did
with a vengeance. They ground the ship full of salt and sank it, and so
the quern was lost forever, but the sea remains salt unto this day.

Mr. Kelly rightly identifies Frodi with the sun-god Fro or Freyr, and
observes that the magic mill is only another form of the fire-churn, or
chark. According to another version the quern is still grinding away
and keeping the sea salt, and over the place where it lies there is a
prodigious whirlpool or maelstrom which sucks down ships.

In its completed shape, the lightning-wand is the caduceus, or rod of
Hermes. I observed, in the preceding paper, that in the Greek conception
of Hermes there have been fused together the attributes of two deities
who were originally distinct. The Hermes of the Homeric Hymn is a
wind-god; but the later Hermes Agoraios, the patron of gymnasia, the
mutilation of whose statues caused such terrible excitement in Athens
during the Peloponnesian War, is a very different personage. He is
a fire-god, invested with many solar attributes, and represents the
quickening forces of nature. In this capacity the invention of fire was
ascribed to him as well as to Prometheus; he was said to be the friend
of mankind, and was surnamed Ploutodotes, or "the giver of wealth."

The Norse wind-god Odin has in like manner acquired several of the
attributes of Freyr and Thor. [63] His lightning-spear, which is
borrowed from Thor, appears by a comical metamorphosis as a wish-rod
which will administer a sound thrashing to the enemies of its possessor.
Having cut a hazel stick, you have only to lay down an old coat, name
your intended victim, wish he was there, and whack away: he will howl
with pain at every blow. This wonderful cudgel appears in Dasent's tale
of "The Lad who went to the North Wind," with which we may conclude
this discussion. The story is told, with little variation, in Hindustan,
Germany, and Scandinavia.

The North Wind, representing the mischievous Hermes, once blew away a
poor woman's meal. So her boy went to the North Wind and demanded his
rights for the meal his mother had lost. "I have n't got your meal,"
said the Wind, "but here's a tablecloth which will cover itself with an
excellent dinner whenever you tell it to." So the lad took the cloth and
started for home. At nightfall he stopped at an inn, spread his cloth
on the table, and ordered it to cover itself with good things, and so
it did. But the landlord, who thought it would be money in his pocket
to have such a cloth, stole it after the boy had gone to bed, and
substituted another just like it in appearance. Next day the boy went
home in great glee to show off for his mother's astonishment what the
North Wind had given him, but all the dinner he got that day was what
the old woman cooked for him. In his despair he went back to the North
Wind and called him a liar, and again demanded his rights for the meal
he had lost. "I have n't got your meal," said the Wind, "but here's a
ram which will drop money out of its fleece whenever you tell it to." So
the lad travelled home, stopping over night at the same inn, and when he
got home he found himself with a ram which did n't drop coins out of its
fleece. A third time he visited the North Wind, and obtained a bag with
a stick in it which, at the word of command, would jump out of the bag
and lay on until told to stop. Guessing how matters stood as to his
cloth and ram, he turned in at the same tavern, and going to a bench lay
down as if to sleep. The landlord thought that a stick carried about in
a bag must be worth something, and so he stole quietly up to the bag,
meaning to get the stick out and change it. But just as he got within
whacking distance, the boy gave the word, and out jumped the stick
and beat the thief until he promised to give back the ram and the
tablecloth. And so the boy got his rights for the meal which the North
Wind had blown away. October, 1870.


IT is related by Ovid that Lykaon, king of Arkadia, once invited Zeus
to dinner, and served up for him a dish of human flesh, in order to test
the god's omniscience. But the trick miserably failed, and the impious
monarch received the punishment which his crime had merited. He was
transformed into a wolf, that he might henceforth feed upon the viands
with which he had dared to pollute the table of the king of Olympos.
From that time forth, according to Pliny, a noble Arkadian was each
year, on the festival of Zeus Lykaios, led to the margin of a certain
lake. Hanging his clothes upon a tree, he then plunged into the water
and became a wolf. For the space of nine years he roamed about the
adjacent woods, and then, if he had not tasted human flesh during all
this time, he was allowed to swim back to the place where his clothes
were hanging, put them on, and return to his natural form. It is further
related of a certain Demainetos, that, having once been present at
a human sacrifice to Zeus Lykaios, he ate of the flesh, and was
transformed into a wolf for a term of ten years. [64]

These and other similar mythical germs were developed by the mediaeval
imagination into the horrible superstition of werewolves.

A werewolf, or loup-garou [65] was a person who had the power of
transforming himself into a wolf, being endowed, while in the lupine
state, with the intelligence of a man, the ferocity of a wolf, and the
irresistible strength of a demon. The ancients believed in the existence
of such persons; but in the Middle Ages the metamorphosis was supposed
to be a phenomenon of daily occurrence, and even at the present day,
in secluded portions of Europe, the superstition is still cherished
by peasants. The belief, moreover, is supported by a vast amount
of evidence, which can neither be argued nor pooh-poohed into
insignificance. It is the business of the comparative mythologist to
trace the pedigree of the ideas from which such a conception may have
sprung; while to the critical historian belongs the task of ascertaining
and classifying the actual facts which this particular conception was
used to interpret.

The mediaeval belief in werewolves is especially adapted to illustrate
the complicated manner in which divers mythical conceptions and
misunderstood natural occurrences will combine to generate a
long-enduring superstition. Mr. Cox, indeed, would have us believe that
the whole notion arose from an unintentional play upon words; but
the careful survey of the field, which has been taken by Hertz and
Baring-Gould, leads to the conclusion that many other circumstances
have been at work. The delusion, though doubtless purely mythical in its
origin, nevertheless presents in its developed state a curious mixture
of mythical and historical elements.

With regard to the Arkadian legend, taken by itself, Mr. Cox is probably
right. The story seems to belong to that large class of myths which have
been devised in order to explain the meaning of equivocal words whose
true significance has been forgotten. The epithet Lykaios, as applied to
Zeus, had originally no reference to wolves: it means "the bright one,"
and gave rise to lycanthropic legends only because of the similarity
in sound between the names for "wolf" and "brightness." Aryan mythology
furnishes numerous other instances of this confusion. The solar deity,
Phoibos Lykegenes, was originally the "offspring of light"; but popular
etymology made a kind of werewolf of him by interpreting his name as
the "wolf-born." The name of the hero Autolykos means simply the
"self-luminous"; but it was more frequently interpreted as meaning "a
very wolf," in allusion to the supposed character of its possessor.
Bazra, the name of the citadel of Carthage, was the Punic word for
"fortress"; but the Greeks confounded it with byrsa, "a hide," and hence
the story of the ox-hides cut into strips by Dido in order to measure
the area of the place to be fortified. The old theory that the Irish
were Phoenicians had a similar origin. The name Fena, used to designate
the old Scoti or Irish, is the plural of Fion, "fair," seen in the
name of the hero Fion Gall, or "Fingal"; but the monkish chroniclers
identified Fena with phoinix, whence arose the myth; and by a like
misunderstanding of the epithet Miledh, or "warrior," applied to Fion by
the Gaelic bards, there was generated a mythical hero, Milesius, and the
soubriquet "Milesian," colloquially employed in speaking of the Irish.
[66] So the Franks explained the name of the town Daras, in Mesopotamia,
by the story that the Emperor Justinian once addressed the chief
magistrate with the exclamation, daras, "thou shalt give": [67] the
Greek chronicler, Malalas, who spells the name Doras, informs us
with equal complacency that it was the place where Alexander overcame
Codomannus with dorn, "the spear." A certain passage in the Alps is
called Scaletta, from its resemblance to a staircase; but according to a
local tradition it owes its name to the bleaching skeletons of a
company of Moors who were destroyed there in the eighth century, while
attempting to penetrate into Northern Italy. The name of Antwerp denotes
the town built at a "wharf"; but it sounds very much like the Flemish
handt werpen, "hand-throwing": "hence arose the legend of the giant
who cut of the hands of those who passed his castle without paying him
black-mail, and threw them into the Scheldt." [68] In the myth of Bishop
Hatto, related in a previous paper, the Mause-thurm is a corruption of
maut-thurm; it means "customs-tower," and has nothing to do with mice
or rats. Doubtless this etymology was the cause of the floating myth
getting fastened to this particular place; that it did not give rise
to the myth itself is shown by the existence of the same tale in other
places. Somewhere in England there is a place called Chateau Vert; the
peasantry have corrupted it into Shotover, and say that it has
borne that name ever since Little John shot over a high hill in the
neighbourhood. [69] Latium means "the flat land"; but, according to
Virgil, it is the place where Saturn once hid (latuisset) from the wrath
of his usurping son Jupiter. [70]

It was in this way that the constellation of the Great Bear received
its name. The Greek word arktos, answering to the Sanskrit riksha, meant
originally any bright object, and was applied to the bear--for what
reason it would not be easy to state--and to that constellation which
was most conspicuous in the latitude of the early home of the Aryans.
When the Greeks had long forgotten why these stars were called arktoi,
they symbolized them as a Great Bear fixed in the sky. So that, as
Max Muller observes, "the name of the Arctic regions rests on a
misunderstanding of a name framed thousands of years ago in Central
Asia, and the surprise with which many a thoughtful observer has looked
at these seven bright stars, wondering why they were ever called the
Bear, is removed by a reference to the early annals of human speech."
Among the Algonquins the sun-god Michabo was represented as a hare, his
name being compounded of michi, "great," and wabos, "a hare"; yet wabos
also meant "white," so that the god was doubtless originally called
simply "the Great White One." The same naive process has made bears of
the Arkadians, whose name, like that of the Lykians, merely signified
that they were "children of light"; and the metamorphosis of Kallisto,
mother of Arkas, into a bear, and of Lykaon into a wolf, rests
apparently upon no other foundation than an erroneous etymology.
Originally Lykaon was neither man nor wolf; he was but another form of
Phoibos Lykegenes, the light-born sun, and, as Mr. Cox has shown, his
legend is but a variation of that of Tantalos, who in time of drought
offers to Zeus the flesh of his own offspring, the withered fruits, and
is punished for his impiety.

It seems to me, however, that this explanation, though valid as far
as it goes, is inadequate to explain all the features of the werewolf
superstition, or to account for its presence in all Aryan countries and
among many peoples who are not of Aryan origin. There can be no doubt
that the myth-makers transformed Lykaon into a wolf because of his
unlucky name; because what really meant "bright man" seemed to them
to mean "wolf-man"; but it has by no means been proved that a similar
equivocation occurred in the case of all the primitive Aryan werewolves,
nor has it been shown to be probable that among each people the
being with the uncanny name got thus accidentally confounded with the
particular beast most dreaded by that people. Etymology alone does not
explain the fact that while Gaul has been the favourite haunt of the
man-wolf, Scandinavia has been preferred by the man-bear, and Hindustan
by the man-tiger. To account for such a widespread phenomenon we must
seek a more general cause.

Nothing is more strikingly characteristic of primitive thinking than the
close community of nature which it assumes between man and brute. The
doctrine of metempsychosis, which is found in some shape or other all
over the world, implies a fundamental identity between the two; the
Hindu is taught to respect the flocks browsing in the meadow, and will
on no account lift his hand against a cow, for who knows but it may
he his own grandmother? The recent researches of Mr. M`Lennan and Mr.
Herbert Spencer have served to connect this feeling with the primeval
worship of ancestors and with the savage customs of totemism. [71]

The worship of ancestors seems to have been every where the oldest
systematized form of fetichistic religion. The reverence paid to the
chieftain of the tribe while living was continued and exaggerated after
his death The uncivilized man is everywhere incapable of grasping
the idea of death as it is apprehended by civilized people. He cannot
understand that a man should pass away so as to be no longer capable of
communicating with his fellows. The image of his dead chief or comrade
remains in his mind, and the savage's philosophic realism far surpasses
that of the most extravagant mediaeval schoolmen; to him the persistence
of the idea implies the persistence of the reality. The dead man,
accordingly, is not really dead; he has thrown off his body like a husk,
yet still retains his old appearance, and often shows himself to his old
friends, especially after nightfall. He is no doubt possessed of more
extensive powers than before his transformation, [72] and may very
likely have a share in regulating the weather, granting or withholding
rain. Therefore, argues the uncivilized mind, he is to be cajoled and
propitiated more sedulously now than before his strange transformation.

This kind of worship still maintains a languid existence as the state
religion of China, and it still exists as a portion of Brahmanism; but
in the Vedic religion it is to be seen in all its vigour and in all
its naive simplicity. According to the ancient Aryan, the pitris, or
"Fathers" (Lat. patres), live in the sky along with Yama, the great
original Pitri of mankind. This first man came down from heaven in the
lightning, and back to heaven both himself and all his offspring must
have gone. There they distribute light unto men below, and they shine
themselves as stars; and hence the Christianized German peasant, fifty
centuries later, tells his children that the stars are angels' eyes, and
the English cottager impresses it on the youthful mind that it is wicked
to point at the stars, though why he cannot tell. But the Pitris are not
stars only, nor do they content themselves with idly looking down on
the affairs of men, after the fashion of the laissez-faire divinities of
Lucretius. They are, on the contrary, very busy with the weather;
they send rain, thunder, and lightning; and they especially delight
in rushing over the housetops in a great gale of wind, led on by their
chief, the mysterious huntsman, Hermes or Odin.

It has been elsewhere shown that the howling dog, or wish-hound of
Hermes, whose appearance under the windows of a sick person is such
an alarming portent, is merely the tempest personified. Throughout
all Aryan mythology the souls of the dead are supposed to ride on the
night-wind, with their howling dogs, gathering into their throng the
souls of those just dying as they pass by their houses. [73] Sometimes
the whole complex conception is wrapped up in the notion of a single
dog, the messenger of the god of shades, who comes to summon the
departing soul. Sometimes, instead of a dog, we have a great ravening
wolf who comes to devour its victim and extinguish the sunlight of life,
as that old wolf of the tribe of Fenrir devoured little Red Riding-Hood
with her robe of scarlet twilight. [74] Thus we arrive at a true
werewolf myth. The storm-wind, or howling Rakshasa of Hindu folk-lore,
is "a great misshapen giant with red beard and red hair, with pointed
protruding teeth, ready to lacerate and devour human flesh; his body is
covered with coarse, bristling hair, his huge mouth is open, he looks
from side to side as he walks, lusting after the flesh and blood of men,
to satisfy his raging hunger and quench his consuming thirst. Towards
nightfall his strength increases manifold; he can change his shape at
will; he haunts the woods, and roams howling through the jungle." [75]

Now if the storm-wind is a host of Pitris, or one great Pitri who
appears as a fearful giant, and is also a pack of wolves or wish-hounds,
or a single savage dog or wolf, the inference is obvious to the
mythopoeic mind that men may become wolves, at least after death. And to
the uncivilized thinker this inference is strengthened, as Mr. Spencer
has shown, by evidence registered on his own tribal totem or heraldic
emblem. The bears and lions and leopards of heraldry are the degenerate
descendants of the totem of savagery which designated the tribe by a
beast-symbol. To the untutored mind there is everything in a name; and
the descendant of Brown Bear or Yellow Tiger or Silver Hyaena cannot be
pronounced unfaithful to his own style of philosophizing, if he regards
his ancestors, who career about his hut in the darkness of night,
as belonging to whatever order of beasts his totem associations may

Thus we not only see a ray of light thrown on the subject of
metempsychosis, but we get a glimpse of the curious process by which
the intensely realistic mind of antiquity arrived at the notion that
men could be transformed into beasts. For the belief that the soul
can temporarily quit the body during lifetime has been universally
entertained; and from the conception of wolf-like ghosts it was but a
short step to the conception of corporeal werewolves. In the Middle Ages
the phenomena of trance and catalepsy were cited in proof of the theory
that the soul can leave the body and afterwards return to it. Hence it
was very difficult for a person accused of witchcraft to prove an alibi;
for to any amount of evidence showing that the body was innocently
reposing at home and in bed, the rejoinder was obvious that the soul may
nevertheless have been in attendance at the witches' Sabbath or busied
in maiming a neighbour's cattle. According to one mediaeval notion, the
soul of the werewolf quit its human body, which remained in a trance
until its return. [76]

The mythological basis of the werewolf superstition is now, I believe,
sufficiently indicated. The belief, however, did not reach its complete
development, or acquire its most horrible features, until the pagan
habits of thought which had originated it were modified by contact
with Christian theology. To the ancient there was nothing necessarily
diabolical in the transformation of a man into a beast. But
Christianity, which retained such a host of pagan conceptions under such
strange disguises, which degraded the "All-father" Odin into the ogre
of the castle to which Jack climbed on his bean-stalk, and which blended
the beneficent lightning-god Thor and the mischievous Hermes and the
faun-like Pan into the grotesque Teutonic Devil, did not fail to impart
a new and fearful character to the belief in werewolves. Lycanthropy
became regarded as a species of witchcraft; the werewolf was supposed
to have obtained his peculiar powers through the favour or connivance
of the Devil; and hundreds of persons were burned alive or broken on
the wheel for having availed themselves of the privilege of
beast-metamorphosis. The superstition, thus widely extended and greatly
intensified, was confirmed by many singular phenomena which cannot
be omitted from any thorough discussion of the nature and causes of

The first of these phenomena is the Berserker insanity, characteristic
of Scandinavia, but not unknown in other countries. In times when
killing one's enemies often formed a part of the necessary business of
life, persons were frequently found who killed for the mere love of the
thing; with whom slaughter was an end desirable in itself, not merely
a means to a desirable end. What the miser is in an age which worships
mammon, such was the Berserker in an age when the current idea of heaven
was that of a place where people could hack each other to pieces through
all eternity, and when the man who refused a challenge was punished with
confiscation of his estates. With these Northmen, in the ninth century,
the chief business and amusement in life was to set sail for some
pleasant country, like Spain or France, and make all the coasts and
navigable rivers hideous with rapine and massacre. When at home, in the
intervals between their freebooting expeditions, they were liable to
become possessed by a strange homicidal madness, during which they would
array themselves in the skins of wolves or bears, and sally forth by
night to crack the backbones, smash the skulls, and sometimes to drink
with fiendish glee the blood of unwary travellers or loiterers. These
fits of madness were usually followed by periods of utter exhaustion and
nervous depression. [77]

Such, according to the unanimous testimony of historians, was the
celebrated "Berserker rage," not peculiar to the Northland, although
there most conspicuously manifested. Taking now a step in advance, we
find that in comparatively civilized countries there have been many
cases of monstrous homicidal insanity. The two most celebrated cases,
among those collected by Mr. Baring-Gould, are those of the Marechal
de Retz, in 1440, and of Elizabeth, a Hungarian countess, in the
seventeenth century. The Countess Elizabeth enticed young girls into
her palace on divers pretexts, and then coolly murdered them, for the
purpose of bathing in their blood. The spectacle of human suffering
became at last such a delight to her, that she would apply with her
own hands the most excruciating tortures, relishing the shrieks of her
victims as the epicure relishes each sip of his old Chateau Margaux.
In this way she is said to have murdered six hundred and fifty
persons before her evil career was brought to an end; though, when one
recollects the famous men in buckram and the notorious trio of crows,
one is inclined to strike off a cipher, and regard sixty-five as a
sufficiently imposing and far less improbable number. But the case of
the Marechal de Retz is still more frightful. A marshal of France, a
scholarly man, a patriot, and a man of holy life, he became suddenly
possessed by an uncontrollable desire to murder children. During seven
years he continued to inveigle little boys and girls into his castle,
at the rate of about TWO EACH WEEK, (?) and then put them to death in
various ways, that he might witness their agonies and bathe in their
blood; experiencing after each occasion the most dreadful remorse,
but led on by an irresistible craving to repeat the crime. When this
unparalleled iniquity was finally brought to light, the castle was found
to contain bins full of children's bones. The horrible details of the
trial are to be found in the histories of France by Michelet and Martin.

Going a step further, we find cases in which the propensity to murder
has been accompanied by cannibalism. In 1598 a tailor of Chalons was
sentenced by the parliament of Paris to be burned alive for lycanthropy.
"This wretched man had decoyed children into his shop, or attacked them
in the gloaming when they strayed in the woods, had torn them with his
teeth and killed them, after which he seems calmly to have dressed their
flesh as ordinary meat, and to have eaten it with a great relish. The
number of little innocents whom he destroyed is unknown. A whole caskful
of bones was discovered in his house." [78] About 1850 a beggar in the
village of Polomyia, in Galicia, was proved to have killed and eaten
fourteen children. A house had one day caught fire and burnt to the
ground, roasting one of the inmates, who was unable to escape. The
beggar passed by soon after, and, as he was suffering from excessive
hunger, could not resist the temptation of making a meal off the charred
body. From that moment he was tormented by a craving for human flesh.
He met a little orphan girl, about nine years old, and giving her a
pinchbeck ring told her to seek for others like it under a tree in the
neighbouring wood. She was slain, carried to the beggar's hovel, and
eaten. In the course of three years thirteen other children mysteriously
disappeared, but no one knew whom to suspect. At last an innkeeper
missed a pair of ducks, and having no good opinion of this beggar's
honesty, went unexpectedly to his cabin, burst suddenly in at the door,
and to his horror found him in the act of hiding under his cloak a
severed head; a bowl of fresh blood stood under the oven, and pieces of
a thigh were cooking over the fire. [79]

This occurred only about twenty years ago, and the criminal, though
ruled by an insane appetite, is not known to have been subject to any
mental delusion. But there have been a great many similar cases, in
which the homicidal or cannibal craving has been accompanied by genuine
hallucination. Forms of insanity in which the afflicted persons imagine
themselves to be brute animals are not perhaps very common, but they are
not unknown. I once knew a poor demented old man who believed himself
to be a horse, and would stand by the hour together before a manger,
nibbling hay, or deluding himself with the presence of so doing. Many
of the cannibals whose cases are related by Mr. Baring-Gould, in
his chapter of horrors, actually believed themselves to have been
transformed into wolves or other wild animals. Jean Grenier was a boy of
thirteen, partially idiotic, and of strongly marked canine physiognomy;
his jaws were large and projected forward, and his canine teeth were
unnaturally long, so as to protrude beyond the lower lip. He believed
himself to be a werewolf. One evening, meeting half a dozen young girls,
he scared them out of their wits by telling them that as soon as the sun
had set he would turn into a wolf and eat them for supper. A few days
later, one little girl, having gone out at nightfall to look after the
sheep, was attacked by some creature which in her terror she mistook for
a wolf, but which afterwards proved to be none other than Jean Grenier.
She beat him off with her sheep-staff, and fled home. As several
children had mysteriously disappeared from the neighbourhood, Grenier
was at once suspected. Being brought before the parliament of Bordeaux,
he stated that two years ago he had met the Devil one night in the woods
and had signed a compact with him and received from him a wolf-skin.
Since then he had roamed about as a wolf after dark, resuming his human
shape by daylight. He had killed and eaten several children whom he had
found alone in the fields, and on one occasion he had entered a house
while the family were out and taken the baby from its cradle. A careful
investigation proved the truth of these statements, so far as the
cannibalism was concerned. There is no doubt that the missing children
were eaten by Jean Grenier, and there is no doubt that in his own mind
the halfwitted boy was firmly convinced that he was a wolf. Here the
lycanthropy was complete.

In the year 1598, "in a wild and unfrequented spot near Caude, some
countrymen came one day upon the corpse of a boy of fifteen, horribly
mutilated and bespattered with blood. As the men approached, two wolves,
which had been rending the body, bounded away into the thicket. The men
gave chase immediately, following their bloody tracks till they lost
them; when, suddenly crouching among the bushes, his teeth chattering
with fear, they found a man half naked, with long hair and beard, and
with his hands dyed in blood. His nails were long as claws, and were
clotted with fresh gore and shreds of human flesh." [80]

This man, Jacques Roulet, was a poor, half-witted creature under the
dominion of a cannibal appetite. He was employed in tearing to pieces
the corpse of the boy when these countrymen came up. Whether there were
any wolves in the case, except what the excited imaginations of the men
may have conjured up, I will not presume to determine; but it is certain
that Roulet supposed himself to be a wolf, and killed and ate several
persons under the influence of the delusion. He was sentenced to death,
but the parliament of Paris reversed the sentence, and charitably shut
him up in a madhouse.

The annals of the Middle Ages furnish many cases similar to these of
Grenier and Roulet. Their share in maintaining the werewolf superstition
is undeniable; but modern science finds in them nothing that cannot be
readily explained. That stupendous process of breeding, which we call
civilization, has been for long ages strengthening those kindly social
feelings by the possession of which we are chiefly distinguished from
the brutes, leaving our primitive bestial impulses to die for want of
exercise, or checking in every possible way their further expansion by
legislative enactments. But this process, which is transforming us from
savages into civilized men, is a very slow one; and now and then there
occur cases of what physiologists call atavism, or reversion to an
ancestral type of character. Now and then persons are born, in civilized
countries, whose intellectual powers are on a level with those of the
most degraded Australian savage, and these we call idiots. And now and
then persons are born possessed of the bestial appetites and cravings
of primitive man, his fiendish cruelty and his liking for human flesh.
Modern physiology knows how to classify and explain these abnormal
cases, but to the unscientific mediaeval mind they were explicable only
on the hypothesis of a diabolical metamorphosis. And there is nothing
strange in the fact that, in an age when the prevailing habits of
thought rendered the transformation of men into beasts an easily
admissible notion, these monsters of cruelty and depraved appetite
should have been regarded as capable of taking on bestial forms. Nor is
it strange that the hallucination under which these unfortunate wretches
laboured should have taken such a shape as to account to their feeble
intelligence for the existence of the appetites which they were
conscious of not sharing with their neighbours and contemporaries. If
a myth is a piece of unscientific philosophizing, it must sometimes
be applied to the explanation of obscure psychological as well as of
physical phenomena. Where the modern calmly taps his forehead and says,
"Arrested development," the terrified ancient made the sign of the cross
and cried, "Werewolf."

We shall be assisted in this explanation by turning aside for a
moment to examine the wild superstitions about "changelings," which
contributed, along with so many others, to make the lives of our
ancestors anxious and miserable. These superstitions were for the most
part attempts to explain the phenomena of insanity, epilepsy, and other
obscure nervous diseases. A man who has hitherto enjoyed perfect health,
and whose actions have been consistent and rational, suddenly loses all
self-control and seems actuated by a will foreign to himself. Modern
science possesses the key to this phenomenon; but in former times it was
explicable only on the hypothesis that a demon had entered the body
of the lunatic, or else that the fairies had stolen the real man and
substituted for him a diabolical phantom exactly like him in stature and
features. Hence the numerous legends of changelings, some of which
are very curious. In Irish folk-lore we find the story of one Rickard,
surnamed the Rake, from his worthless character. A good-natured, idle
fellow, he spent all his evenings in dancing,--an accomplishment in
which no one in the village could rival him. One night, in the midst of
a lively reel, he fell down in a fit. "He's struck with a fairy-dart,"
exclaimed all the friends, and they carried him home and nursed him; but
his face grew so thin and his manner so morose that by and by all began
to suspect that the true Rickard was gone and a changeling put in his
place. Rickard, with all his accomplishments, was no musician; and so,
in order to put the matter to a crucial test, a bagpipe was left in the
room by the side of his bed. The trick succeeded. One hot summer's day,
when all were supposed to be in the field making hay, some members
of the family secreted in a clothes-press saw the bedroom door open a
little way, and a lean, foxy face, with a pair of deep-sunken eyes, peer
anxiously about the premises. Having satisfied itself that the coast
was clear, the face withdrew, the door was closed, and presently such
ravishing strains of music were heard as never proceeded from a bagpipe
before or since that day. Soon was heard the rustle of innumerable
fairies, come to dance to the changeling's music. Then the "fairy-man"
of the village, who was keeping watch with the family, heated a pair
of tongs red-hot, and with deafening shouts all burst at once into the
sick-chamber. The music had ceased and the room was empty, but in at the
window glared a fiendish face, with such fearful looks of hatred, that
for a moment all stood motionless with terror. But when the fairy-man,
recovering himself, advanced with the hot tongs to pinch its nose, it
vanished with an unearthly yell, and there on the bed was Rickard, safe
and sound, and cured of his epilepsy. [81]

Comparing this legend with numerous others relating to changelings,
and stripping off the fantastic garb of fairy-lore with which popular
imagination has invested them, it seems impossible to doubt that they
have arisen from myths devised for the purpose of explaining the obscure
phenomena of mental disease. If this be so, they afford an excellent
collateral illustration of the belief in werewolves. The same mental
habits which led men to regard the insane or epileptic person as a
changeling, and which allowed them to explain catalepsy as the temporary
departure of a witch's soul from its body, would enable them to
attribute a wolf's nature to the maniac or idiot with cannibal
appetites. And when the myth-forming process had got thus far, it would
not stop short of assigning to the unfortunate wretch a tangible lupine
body; for all ancient mythology teemed with precedents for such a

It remains for us to sum up,--to tie into a bunch the keys which
have helped us to penetrate into the secret causes of the werewolf
superstition. In a previous paper we saw what a host of myths,
fairy-tales, and superstitious observances have sprung from attempts to
interpret one simple natural phenomenon,--the descent of fire from the
clouds. Here, on the other hand, we see what a heterogeneous multitude
of mythical elements may combine to build up in course of time a single
enormous superstition, and we see how curiously fact and fancy have
co-operated in keeping the superstition from falling. In the first place
the worship of dead ancestors with wolf totems originated the notion
of the transformation of men into divine or superhuman wolves; and this
notion was confirmed by the ambiguous explanation of the storm-wind
as the rushing of a troop of dead men's souls or as the howling of
wolf-like monsters. Mediaeval Christianity retained these conceptions,
merely changing the superhuman wolves into evil demons; and finally the
occurrence of cases of Berserker madness and cannibalism, accompanied by
lycanthropic hallucinations, being interpreted as due to such demoniacal
metamorphosis, gave rise to the werewolf superstition of the Middle
Ages. The etymological proceedings, to which Mr. Cox would incontinently
ascribe the origin of the entire superstition, seemed to me to have
played a very subordinate part in the matter. To suppose that Jean
Grenier imagined himself to be a wolf, because the Greek word for wolf
sounded like the word for light, and thus gave rise to the story of a
light-deity who became a wolf, seems to me quite inadmissible. Yet as
far as such verbal equivocations may have prevailed, they doubtless
helped to sustain the delusion.

Thus we need no longer regard our werewolf as an inexplicable creature
of undetermined pedigree. But any account of him would be quite
imperfect which should omit all consideration of the methods by which
his change of form was accomplished. By the ancient Romans the werewolf
was commonly called a "skin-changer" or "turn-coat" (versipellis), and
similar epithets were applied to him in the Middle Ages The mediaeval
theory was that, while the werewolf kept his human form, his hair grew
inwards; when he wished to become a wolf, he simply turned himself
inside out. In many trials on record, the prisoners were closely
interrogated as to how this inversion might be accomplished; but I am
not aware that any one of them ever gave a satisfactory answer. At
the moment of change their memories seem to have become temporarily
befogged. Now and then a poor wretch had his arms and legs cut off,
or was partially flayed, in order that the ingrowing hair might be
detected. [82] Another theory was, that the possessed person had merely
to put on a wolf's skin, in order to assume instantly the lupine form
and character; and in this may perhaps be seen a vague reminiscence of
the alleged fact that Berserkers were in the habit of haunting the woods
by night, clothed in the hides of wolves or bears. [83] Such a wolfskin
was kept by the boy Grenier. Roulet, on the other hand, confessed to
using a magic salve or ointment. A fourth method of becoming a werewolf
was to obtain a girdle, usually made of human skin. Several cases are
related in Thorpe's "Northern Mythology." One hot day in harvest-time
some reapers lay down to sleep in the shade; when one of them, who could
not sleep, saw the man next him arise quietly and gird him with a strap,
whereupon he instantly vanished, and a wolf jumped up from among the
sleepers and ran off across the fields. Another man, who possessed such
a girdle, once went away from home without remembering to lock it
up. His little son climbed up to the cupboard and got it, and as he
proceeded to buckle it around his waist, he became instantly transformed
into a strange-looking beast. Just then his father came in, and seizing
the girdle restored the child to his natural shape. The boy said that no
sooner had he buckled it on than he was tormented with a raging hunger.

Sometimes the werewolf transformation led to unlucky accidents. At
Caseburg, as a man and his wife were making hay, the woman threw down
her pitchfork and went away, telling her husband that if a wild beast
should come to him during her absence he must throw his hat at it.
Presently a she-wolf rushed towards him. The man threw his hat at it,
but a boy came up from another part of the field and stabbed the animal
with his pitchfork, whereupon it vanished, and the woman's dead body lay
at his feet.

A parallel legend shows that this woman wished to have the hat thrown
at her, in order that she might be henceforth free from her liability
to become a werewolf. A man was one night returning with his wife from
a merry-making when he felt the change coming on. Giving his wife the
reins, he jumped from the wagon, telling her to strike with her apron
at any animal which might come to her. In a few moments a wolf ran up to
the side of the vehicle, and, as the woman struck out with her apron, it
bit off a piece and ran away. Presently the man returned with the
piece of apron in his mouth and consoled his terrified wife with the
information that the enchantment had left him forever.

A terrible case at a village in Auvergne has found its way into the
annals of witchcraft. "A gentleman while hunting was suddenly attacked
by a savage wolf of monstrous size. Impenetrable by his shot, the beast
made a spring upon the helpless huntsman, who in the struggle luckily,
or unluckily for the unfortunate lady, contrived to cut off one of its
fore-paws. This trophy he placed in his pocket, and made the best of
his way homewards in safety. On the road he met a friend, to whom he
exhibited a bleeding paw, or rather (as it now appeared) a woman's hand,
upon which was a wedding-ring. His wife's ring was at once recognized by
the other. His suspicions aroused, he immediately went in search of his
wife, who was found sitting by the fire in the kitchen, her arm hidden
beneath her apron, when the husband, seizing her by the arm, found his
terrible suspicions verified. The bleeding stump was there, evidently
just fresh from the wound. She was given into custody, and in the event
was burned at Riom, in presence of thousands of spectators." [84]

Sometimes a werewolf was cured merely by recognizing him while in his
brute shape. A Swedish legend tells of a cottager who, on entering the
forest one day without recollecting to say his Patter Noster, got into
the power of a Troll, who changed him into a wolf. For many years his
wife mourned him as dead. But one Christmas eve the old Troll, disguised
as a beggarwoman, came to the house for alms; and being taken in and
kindly treated, told the woman that her husband might very likely appear
to her in wolf-shape. Going at night to the pantry to lay aside a joint
of meat for tomorrow's dinner, she saw a wolf standing with its paws on
the window-sill, looking wistfully in at her. "Ah, dearest," said she,
"if I knew that thou wert really my husband, I would give thee a bone."
Whereupon the wolf-skin fell off, and her husband stood before her in
the same old clothes which he had on the day that the Troll got hold of

In Denmark it was believed that if a woman were to creep through a
colt's placental membrane stretched between four sticks, she would for
the rest of her life bring forth children without pain or illness; but
all the boys would in such case be werewolves, and all the girls Maras,
or nightmares. In this grotesque superstition appears that curious
kinship between the werewolf and the wife or maiden of supernatural
race, which serves admirably to illustrate the nature of both
conceptions, and the elucidation of which shall occupy us throughout the
remainder of this paper.

It is, perhaps, needless to state that in the personality of the
nightmare, or Mara, there was nothing equine. The Mara was a female
demon, [85] who would come at night and torment men or women by
crouching on their chests or stomachs and stopping their respiration.
The scene is well enough represented in Fuseli's picture, though the
frenzied-looking horse which there accompanies the demon has no place
in the original superstition. A Netherlandish story illustrates the
character of the Mara. Two young men were in love with the same damsel.
One of them, being tormented every night by a Mara, sought advice from
his rival, and it was a treacherous counsel that he got. "Hold a sharp
knife with the point towards your breast, and you'll never see the Mara
again," said this false friend. The lad thanked him, but when he lay
down to rest he thought it as well to be on the safe side, and so held
the knife handle downward. So when the Mara came, instead of forcing the
blade into his breast, she cut herself badly, and fled howling; and let
us hope, though the legend here leaves us in the dark, that this poor
youth, who is said to have been the comelier of the two, revenged
himself on his malicious rival by marrying the young lady.

But the Mara sometimes appeared in less revolting shape, and became the
mistress or even the wife of some mortal man to whom she happened to
take a fancy. In such cases she would vanish on being recognized. There
is a well-told monkish tale of a pious knight who, journeying one day
through the forest, found a beautiful lady stripped naked and tied to a
tree, her back all covered with deep gashes streaming with blood, from a
flogging which some bandits had given her. Of course he took her home
to his castle and married her, and for a while they lived very happily
together, and the fame of the lady's beauty was so great that kings and
emperors held tournaments in honor of her. But this pious knight used
to go to mass every Sunday, and greatly was he scandalized when he found
that his wife would never stay to assist in the Credo, but would always
get up and walk out of church just as the choir struck up. All her
husband's coaxing was of no use; threats and entreaties were alike
powerless even to elicit an explanation of this strange conduct. At last
the good man determined to use force; and so one Sunday, as the lady got
up to go out, according to custom, he seized her by the arm and sternly
commanded her to remain. Her whole frame was suddenly convulsed, and her
dark eyes gleamed with weird, unearthly brilliancy. The services paused
for a moment, and all eyes were turned toward the knight and his
lady. "In God's name, tell me what thou art," shouted the knight; and
instantly, says the chronicler, "the bodily form of the lady melted
away, and was seen no more; whilst, with a cry of anguish and of terror,
an evil spirit of monstrous form rose from the ground, clave the chapel
roof asunder, and disappeared in the air."

In a Danish legend, the Mara betrays her affinity to the Nixies, or
Swan-maidens. A peasant discovered that his sweetheart was in the habit
of coming to him by night as a Mara. He kept strict watch until he
discovered her creeping into the room through a small knot-hole in the
door. Next day he made a peg, and after she had come to him, drove in
the peg so that she was unable to escape. They were married and lived
together many years; but one night it happened that the man, joking with
his wife about the way in which he had secured her, drew the peg from
the knot-hole, that she might see how she had entered his room. As she
peeped through, she became suddenly quite small, passed out, and was
never seen again.

The well-known pathological phenomena of nightmare are sufficient to
account for the mediaeval theory of a fiend who sits upon one's bosom
and hinders respiration; but as we compare these various legends
relating to the Mara, we see that a more recondite explanation is needed
to account for all her peculiarities. Indigestion may interfere with our
breathing, but it does not make beautiful women crawl through keyholes,
nor does it bring wives from the spirit-world. The Mara belongs to an
ancient family, and in passing from the regions of monkish superstition
to those of pure mythology we find that, like her kinsman the werewolf,
she had once seen better days. Christianity made a demon of the Mara,
and adopted the theory that Satan employed these seductive creatures as
agents for ruining human souls. Such is the character of the knight's
wife, in the monkish legend just cited. But in the Danish tale the
Mara appears as one of that large family of supernatural wives who are
permitted to live with mortal men under certain conditions, but who are
compelled to flee away when these conditions are broken, as is always
sure to be the case. The eldest and one of the loveliest of this family
is the Hindu nymph Urvasi, whose love adventures with Pururavas are
narrated in the Puranas, and form the subject of the well-known and
exquisite Sanskrit drama by Kalidasa. Urvasi is allowed to live with
Pururavas so long as she does not see him undressed. But one night her
kinsmen, the Gandharvas, or cloud-demons, vexed at her long absence from
heaven, resolved to get her away from her mortal companion, They stole
a pet lamb which had been tied at the foot of her couch, whereat she
bitterly upbraided her husband. In rage and mortification, Pururavas
sprang up without throwing on his tunic, and grasping his sword sought
the robber. Then the wicked Gandharvas sent a flash of lightning, and
Urvasi, seeing her naked husband, instantly vanished.

The different versions of this legend, which have been elaborately
analyzed by comparative mythologists, leave no doubt that Urvasi is
one of the dawn-nymphs or bright fleecy clouds of early morning, which
vanish as the splendour of the sun is unveiled. We saw, in the preceding
paper, that the ancient Aryans regarded the sky as a sea or great lake,
and that the clouds were explained variously as Phaiakian ships with
bird-like beaks sailing over this lake, or as bright birds of divers
shapes and hues. The light fleecy cirrhi were regarded as mermaids, or
as swans, or as maidens with swan's plumage. In Sanskrit they are called
Apsaras, or "those who move in the water," and the Elves and Maras of
Teutonic mythology have the same significance. Urvasi appears in one
legend as a bird; and a South German prescription for getting rid of
the Mara asserts that if she be wrapped up in the bedclothes and
firmly held, a white dove will forthwith fly from the room, leaving the
bedclothes empty. [86]

In the story of Melusina the cloud-maiden appears as a kind of mermaid,
but in other respects the legend resembles that of Urvasi. Raymond,
Count de la Foret, of Poitou, having by an accident killed his patron
and benefactor during a hunting excursion, fled in terror and despair
into the deep recesses of the forest. All the afternoon and evening he
wandered through the thick dark woods, until at midnight he came upon
a strange scene. All at once "the boughs of the trees became less
interlaced, and the trunks fewer; next moment his horse, crashing
through the shrubs, brought him out on a pleasant glade, white with
rime, and illumined by the new moon; in the midst bubbled up a limpid
fountain, and flowed away over a pebbly-floor with a soothing murmur.
Near the fountain-head sat three maidens in glimmering white dresses,
with long waving golden hair, and faces of inexpressible beauty." [87]
One of them advanced to meet Raymond, and according to all mythological
precedent, they were betrothed before daybreak. In due time the
fountain-nymph [88] became Countess de la Foret, but her husband was
given to understand that all her Saturdays would be passed in strictest
seclusion, upon which he must never dare to intrude, under penalty of
losing her forever. For many years all went well, save that the fair
Melusina's children were, without exception, misshapen or disfigured.
But after a while this strange weekly seclusion got bruited about all
over the neighbourhood, and people shook their heads and looked grave
about it. So many gossiping tales came to the Count's ears, that he
began to grow anxious and suspicious, and at last he determined to know
the worst. He went one Saturday to Melusina's private apartments, and
going through one empty room after another, at last came to a locked
door which opened into a bath; looking through a keyhole, there he
saw the Countess transformed from the waist downwards into a fish,
disporting herself like a mermaid in the water. Of course he could not
keep the secret, but when some time afterwards they quarrelled, must
needs address her as "a vile serpent, contaminator of his honourable
race." So she disappeared through the window, but ever afterward hovered
about her husband's castle of Lusignan, like a Banshee, whenever one of
its lords was about to die.

The well-known story of Undine is similar to that of Melusina, save that
the naiad's desire to obtain a human soul is a conception foreign to
the spirit of the myth, and marks the degradation which Christianity had
inflicted upon the denizens of fairy-land. In one of Dasent's tales the
water-maiden is replaced by a kind of werewolf. A white bear marries a
young girl, but assumes the human shape at night. She is never to look
upon him in his human shape, but how could a young bride be expected
to obey such an injunction as that? She lights a candle while he is
sleeping, and discovers the handsomest prince in the world; unluckily
she drops tallow on his shirt, and that tells the story. But she is more
fortunate than poor Raymond, for after a tiresome journey to the "land
east of the sun and west of the moon," and an arduous washing-match
with a parcel of ugly Trolls, she washes out the spots, and ends her
husband's enchantment. [89]

In the majority of these legends, however, the Apsaras, or cloud-maiden,
has a shirt of swan's feathers which plays the same part as the wolfskin
cape or girdle of the werewolf. If you could get hold of a werewolf's
sack and burn it, a permanent cure was effected. No danger of a relapse,
unless the Devil furnished him with a new wolfskin. So the swan-maiden
kept her human form, as long as she was deprived of her tunic of
feathers. Indo-European folk-lore teems with stories of swan-maidens
forcibly wooed and won by mortals who had stolen their clothes. A man
travelling along the road passes by a lake where several lovely girls
are bathing; their dresses, made of feathers curiously and daintily
woven, lie on the shore. He approaches the place cautiously and steals
one of these dresses. [90] When the girls have finished their bathing,
they all come and get their dresses and swim away as swans; but the one
whose dress is stolen must needs stay on shore and marry the thief. It
is needless to add that they live happily together for many years,
or that finally the good man accidentally leaves the cupboard door
unlocked, whereupon his wife gets back her swan-shirt and flies away
from him, never to return. But it is not always a shirt of feathers. In
one German story, a nobleman hunting deer finds a maiden bathing in a
clear pool in the forest. He runs stealthily up to her and seizes her
necklace, at which she loses the power to flee. They are married, and
she bears seven sons at once, all of whom have gold chains about their
necks, and are able to transform themselves into swans whenever they
like. A Flemish legend tells of three Nixies, or water-sprites, who came
out of the Meuse one autumn evening, and helped the villagers celebrate
the end of the vintage. Such graceful dancers had never been seen in
Flanders, and they could sing as well as they could dance. As the night
was warm, one of them took off her gloves and gave them to her partner
to hold for her. When the clock struck twelve the other two started off
in hot haste, and then there was a hue and cry for gloves. The lad would
keep them as love-tokens, and so the poor Nixie had to go home without
them; but she must have died on the way, for next morning the waters of
the Meuse were blood-red, and those damsels never returned.

In the Faro Islands it is believed that seals cast off their skins every
ninth night, assume human forms, and sing and dance like men and women
until daybreak, when they resume their skins and their seal natures.
Of course a man once found and hid one of these sealskins, and so got
a mermaid for a wife; and of course she recovered the skin and escaped.
[91] On the coasts of Ireland it is supposed to be quite an ordinary
thing for young sea-fairies to get human husbands in this way; the
brazen things even come to shore on purpose, and leave their red caps
lying around for young men to pick up; but it behooves the husband to
keep a strict watch over the red cap, if he would not see his children
left motherless.

This mermaid's cap has contributed its quota to the superstitions of
witchcraft. An Irish story tells how Red James was aroused from sleep
one night by noises in the kitchen. Going down to the door, he saw a
lot of old women drinking punch around the fireplace, and laughing and
joking with his housekeeper. When the punchbowl was empty, they all put
on red caps, and singing

     "By yarrow and rue,
     And my red cap too,
     Hie me over to England,"

they flew up chimney. So Jimmy burst into the room, and seized the
housekeeper's cap, and went along with them. They flew across the sea to
a castle in England, passed through the keyholes from room to room and
into the cellar, where they had a famous carouse. Unluckily Jimmy, being
unused to such good cheer, got drunk, and forgot to put on his cap when
the others did. So next morning the lord's butler found him dead-drunk
on the cellar floor, surrounded by empty casks. He was sentenced to be
hung without any trial worth speaking of; but as he was carted to the
gallows an old woman cried out, "Ach, Jimmy alanna! Would you be afther
dyin' in a strange land without your red birredh?" The lord made no
objections, and so the red cap was brought and put on him. Accordingly
when Jimmy had got to the gallows and was making his last speech for the
edification of the spectators, he unexpectedly and somewhat irrelevantly
exclaimed, "By yarrow and rue," etc., and was off like a rocket,
shooting through the blue air en route for old Ireland. [92]

In another Irish legend an enchanted ass comes into the kitchen of a
great house every night, and washes the dishes and scours the tins,
so that the servants lead an easy life of it. After a while in their
exuberant gratitude they offer him any present for which he may feel
inclined to ask. He desires only "an ould coat, to keep the chill off of
him these could nights"; but as soon as he gets into the coat he resumes
his human form and bids them good by, and thenceforth they may wash
their own dishes and scour their own tins, for all him.

But we are diverging from the subject of swan-maidens, and are in danger
of losing ourselves in that labyrinth of popular fancies which is more
intricate than any that Daidalos ever planned. The significance of
all these sealskins and feather-dresses and mermaid caps and
werewolf-girdles may best be sought in the etymology of words like the
German leichnam, in which the body is described as a garment of flesh
for the soul. [93] In the naive philosophy of primitive thinkers, the
soul, in passing from one visible shape to another, had only to put on
the outward integument of the creature in which it wished to incarnate
itself. With respect to the mode of metamorphosis, there is little
difference between the werewolf and the swan-maiden; and the similarity
is no less striking between the genesis of the two conceptions. The
original werewolf is the night-wind, regarded now as a manlike deity and
now as a howling lupine fiend; and the original swan-maiden is the
light fleecy cloud, regarded either as a woman-like goddess or as a
bird swimming in the sky sea. The one conception has been productive of
little else but horrors; the other has given rise to a great variety
of fanciful creations, from the treacherous mermaid and the fiendish
nightmare to the gentle Undine, the charming Nausikaa, and the stately
Muse of classic antiquity.

We have seen that the original werewolf, howling in the wintry blast,
is a kind of psychopomp, or leader of departed souls; he is the
wild ancestor of the death-dog, whose voice under the window of a
sick-chamber is even now a sound of ill-omen. The swan-maiden has also
been supposed to summon the dying to her home in the Phaiakian land.
The Valkyries, with their shirts of swan-plumage, who hovered over
Scandinavian battle-fields to receive the souls of falling heroes, were
identical with the Hindu Apsaras; and the Houris of the Mussulman belong
to the same family. Even for the angels,--women with large wings, who
are seen in popular pictures bearing mortals on high towards heaven,--we
can hardly claim a different kinship. Melusina, when she leaves
the castle of Lusignan, becomes a Banshee; and it has been a common
superstition among sailors, that the appearance of a mermaid, with her
comb and looking-glass, foretokens shipwreck, with the loss of all on

October, 1870.


WHEN Maitland blasphemously asserted that God was but "a Bogie of
the nursery," he unwittingly made a remark as suggestive in point of
philology as it was crude and repulsive in its atheism. When examined
with the lenses of linguistic science, the "Bogie" or "Bug-a-boo" or
"Bugbear" of nursery lore turns out to be identical, not only with
the fairy "Puck," whom Shakespeare has immortalized, but also with the
Slavonic "Bog" and the "Baga" of the Cuneiform Inscriptions, both
of which are names for the Supreme Being. If we proceed further, and
inquire after the ancestral form of these epithets,--so strangely
incongruous in their significations,--we shall find it in the Old Aryan
"Bhaga," which reappears unchanged in the Sanskrit of the Vedas, and has
left a memento of itself in the surname of the Phrygian Zeus "Bagaios."
It seems originally to have denoted either the unclouded sun or the sky
of noonday illumined by the solar rays. In Sayana's commentary on the
Rig-Veda, Bhaga is enumerated among the seven (or eight) sons of Aditi,
the boundless Orient; and he is elsewhere described as the lord of life,
the giver of bread, and the bringer of happiness. [94]

Thus the same name which, to the Vedic poet, to the Persian of the time
of Xerxes, and to the modern Russian, suggests the supreme majesty
of deity, is in English associated with an ugly and ludicrous fiend,
closely akin to that grotesque Northern Devil of whom Southey was unable
to think without laughing. Such is the irony of fate toward a deposed
deity. The German name for idol--Abgott, that is, "ex-god," or
"dethroned god"--sums up in a single etymology the history of the
havoc wrought by monotheism among the ancient symbols of deity. In
the hospitable Pantheon of the Greeks and Romans a niche was always
in readiness for every new divinity who could produce respectable
credentials; but the triumph of monotheism converted the stately mansion
into a Pandemonium peopled with fiends. To the monotheist an "ex-god"
was simply a devilish deceiver of mankind whom the true God had
succeeded in vanquishing; and thus the word demon, which to the ancient
meant a divine or semi-divine being, came to be applied to fiends
exclusively. Thus the Teutonic races, who preserved the name of their
highest divinity, Odin,--originally, Guodan,--by which to designate
the God of the Christian, [95] were unable to regard the Bog of ancient
tradition as anything but an "ex-god," or vanquished demon.

The most striking illustration of this process is to be found in the
word devil itself: To a reader unfamiliar with the endless tricks which
language delights in playing, it may seem shocking to be told that the
Gypsies use the word devil as the name of God. [96] This, however, is
not because these people have made the archfiend an object of worship,
but because the Gypsy language, descending directly from the Sanskrit,
has retained in its primitive exalted sense a word which the English
language has received only in its debased and perverted sense. The
Teutonic words devil, teufel, diuval, djofull, djevful, may all
be traced back to the Zend dev, [97] a name in which is implicitly
contained the record of the oldest monotheistic revolution known to
history. The influence of the so-called Zoroastrian reform upon the
long-subsequent development of Christianity will receive further notice
in the course of this paper; for the present it is enough to know that
it furnished for all Christendom the name by which it designates the
author of evil. To the Parsee follower of Zarathustra the name of the
Devil has very nearly the same signification as to the Christian; yet,
as Grimm has shown, it is nothing else than a corruption of deva, the
Sanskrit name for God. When Zarathustra overthrew the primeval Aryan
nature-worship in Bactria, this name met the same evil fate which in
early Christian times overtook the word demon, and from a symbol of
reverence became henceforth a symbol of detestation. [98] But throughout
the rest of the Aryan world it achieved a nobler career, producing the
Greek theos, the Lithuanian diewas, the Latin deus, and hence the modern
French Dieu, all meaning God.

If we trace back this remarkable word to its primitive source in that
once lost but now partially recovered mother-tongue from which all our
Aryan languages are descended, we find a root div or dyu, meaning "to
shine." From the first-mentioned form comes deva, with its numerous
progeny of good and evil appellatives; from the latter is derived the
name of Dyaus, with its brethren, Zeus and Jupiter. In Sanskrit dyu,
as a noun, means "sky" and "day"; and there are many passages in the
Rig-Veda where the character of the god Dyaus, as the personification
of the sky or the brightness of the ethereal heavens, is unmistakably
apparent. This key unlocks for us one of the secrets of Greek mythology.
So long as there was for Zeus no better etymology than that which
assigned it to the root zen, "to live," [99] there was little hope
of understanding the nature of Zeus. But when we learn that Zeus is
identical with Dyaus, the bright sky, we are enabled to understand
Horace's expression, "sub Jove frigido," and the prayer of the
Athenians, "Rain, rain, dear Zeus, on the land of the Athenians, and on
the fields." [100] Such expressions as these were retained by the Greeks
and Romans long after they had forgotten that their supreme deity
was once the sky. Yet even the Brahman, from whose mind the physical
significance of the god's name never wholly disappeared, could speak of
him as Father Dyaus, the great Pitri, or ancestor of gods and men; and
in this reverential name Dyaus pitar may be seen the exact equivalent of
the Roman's Jupiter, or Jove the Father. The same root can be followed
into Old German, where Zio is the god of day; and into Anglo-Saxon,
where Tiwsdaeg, or the day of Zeus, is the ancestral form of Tuesday.

Thus we again reach the same results which were obtained from the
examination of the name Bhaga. These various names for the supreme Aryan
god, which without the help afforded by the Vedas could never have
been interpreted, are seen to have been originally applied to the
sun-illumined firmament. Countless other examples, when similarly
analyzed, show that the earliest Aryan conception of a Divine Power,
nourishing man and sustaining the universe, was suggested by the light
of the mighty Sun; who, as modern science has shown, is the originator
of all life and motion upon the globe, and whom the ancients delighted
to believe the source, not only of "the golden light," [101] but of
everything that is bright, joy-giving, and pure. Nevertheless, in
accepting this conclusion as well established by linguistic science, we
must be on our guard against an error into which writers on mythology
are very liable to fall. Neither sky nor sun nor light of day, neither
Zeus nor Apollo, neither Dyaus nor Indra, was ever worshipped by the
ancient Aryan in anything like a monotheistic sense. To interpret Zeus
or Jupiter as originally the supreme Aryan god, and to regard classic
paganism as one of the degraded remnants of a primeval monotheism, is to
sin against the canons of a sound inductive philosophy. Philology itself
teaches us that this could not have been so. Father Dyaus was originally
the bright sky and nothing more. Although his name became generalized,
in the classic languages, into deus, or God, it is quite certain that in
early days, before the Aryan separation, it had acquired no such exalted
significance. It was only in Greece and Rome--or, we may say, among
the still united Italo-Hellenic tribes--that Jupiter-Zeus attained a
pre-eminence over all other deities. The people of Iran quite
rejected him, the Teutons preferred Thor and Odin, and in India he was
superseded, first by Indra, afterwards by Brahma and Vishnu. We need
not, therefore, look for a single supreme divinity among the old Aryans;
nor may we expect to find any sense, active or dormant, of monotheism in
the primitive intelligence of uncivilized men. [102] The whole fabric
of comparative mythology, as at present constituted, and as described
above, in the first of these papers, rests upon the postulate that the
earliest religion was pure fetichism.

In the unsystematic nature-worship of the old Aryans the gods are
presented to us only as vague powers, with their nature and attributes
dimly defined, and their relations to each other fluctuating and often
contradictory. There is no theogony, no regular subordination of one
deity to another. The same pair of divinities appear now as father and
daughter, now as brother and sister, now as husband and wife; and again
they quite lose their personality, and are represented as mere natural
phenomena. As Muller observes, "The poets of the Veda indulged freely in
theogonic speculations without being frightened by any contradictions.
They knew of Indra as the greatest of gods, they knew of Agni as the god
of gods, they knew of Varuna as the ruler of all; but they were by no
means startled at the idea that their Indra had a mother, or that
their Agni [Latin ignis] was born like a babe from the friction of two
fire-sticks, or that Varuna and his brother Mitra were nursed in the lap
of Aditi." [103] Thus we have seen Bhaga, the daylight, represented
as the offspring, of Aditi, the boundless Orient; but he had several
brothers, and among them were Mitra, the sun, Varuna, the overarching
firmament, and Vivasvat, the vivifying sun. Manifestly we have here
but so many different names for what is at bottom one and the same
conception. The common element which, in Dyaus and Varuna, in Bhaga and
Indra, was made an object of worship, is the brightness, warmth, and
life of day, as contrasted with the darkness, cold, and seeming death
of the night-time. And this common element was personified in as many
different ways as the unrestrained fancy of the ancient worshipper saw
fit to devise. [104]

Thus we begin to see why a few simple objects, like the sun, the sky,
the dawn, and the night, should be represented in mythology by such
a host of gods, goddesses, and heroes. For at one time the Sun is
represented as the conqueror of hydras and dragons who hide away from
men the golden treasures of light and warmth, and at another time he is
represented as a weary voyager traversing the sky-sea amid many perils,
with the steadfast purpose of returning to his western home and
his twilight bride; hence the different conceptions of Herakles,
Bellerophon, and Odysseus. Now he is represented as the son of the Dawn,
and again, with equal propriety, as the son of the Night, and the fickle
lover of the Dawn; hence we have, on the one hand, stories of a virgin
mother who dies in giving birth to a hero, and, on the other hand,
stories of a beautiful maiden who is forsaken and perhaps cruelly slain
by her treacherous lover. Indeed, the Sun's adventures with so many
dawn-maidens have given him quite a bad character, and the legends are
numerous in which he appears as the prototype of Don Juan. Yet again his
separation from the bride of his youth is described as due to no fault
of his own, but to a resistless decree of fate, which hurries him away
as Aineias was compelled to abandon Dido. Or, according to a third
and equally plausible notion, he is a hero of ascetic virtues, and the
dawn-maiden is a wicked enchantress, daughter of the sensual Aphrodite,
who vainly endeavours to seduce him. In the story of Odysseus these
various conceptions are blended together. When enticed by artful women,
[105] he yields for a while to the temptation; but by and by his longing
to see Penelope takes him homeward, albeit with a record which Penelope
might not altogether have liked. Again, though the Sun, "always roaming
with a hungry heart," has seen many cities and customs of strange men,
he is nevertheless confined to a single path,--a circumstance which
seems to have occasioned much speculation in the primeval mind.
Garcilaso de la Vega relates of a certain Peruvian Inca, who seems to
have been an "infidel" with reference to the orthodox mythology of his
day, that he thought the Sun was not such a mighty god after all; for
if he were, he would wander about the heavens at random instead of
going forever, like a horse in a treadmill, along the same course. The
American Indians explained this circumstance by myths which told how the
Sun was once caught and tied with a chain which would only let him swing
a little way to one side or the other. The ancient Aryan developed the
nobler myth of the labours of Herakles, performed in obedience to the
bidding of Eurystheus. Again, the Sun must needs destroy its parents,
the Night and the Dawn; and accordingly his parents, forewarned by
prophecy, expose him in infancy, or order him to be put to death; but
his tragic destiny never fails to be accomplished to the letter.
And again the Sun, who engages in quarrels not his own, is sometimes
represented as retiring moodily from the sight of men, like Achilleus
and Meleagros: he is short-lived and ill-fated, born to do much good
and to be repaid with ingratitude; his life depends on the duration of a
burning brand, and when that is extinguished he must die.

The myth of the great Theban hero, Oidipous, well illustrates the
multiplicity of conceptions which clustered about the daily career of
the solar orb. His father, Laios, had been warned by the Delphic oracle
that he was in danger of death from his own son. The newly born Oidipous
was therefore exposed on the hillside, but, like Romulus and Remus, and
all infants similarly situated in legend, was duly rescued. He was taken
to Corinth, where he grew up to manhood. Journeying once to Thebes, he
got into a quarrel with an old man whom he met on the road, and slew
him, who was none other than his father, Laios. Reaching Thebes, he
found the city harassed by the Sphinx, who afflicted the land with
drought until she should receive an answer to her riddles. Oidipous
destroyed the monster by solving her dark sayings, and as a reward
received the kingdom, with his own mother, Iokaste, as his bride. Then
the Erinyes hastened the discovery of these dark deeds; Iokaste died in
her bridal chamber; and Oidipous, having blinded himself, fled to the
grove of the Eumenides, near Athens, where, amid flashing lightning and
peals of thunder, he died.

Oidipous is the Sun. Like all the solar heroes, from Herakles and
Perseus to Sigurd and William Tell, he performs his marvellous deeds at
the behest of others. His father, Laios, is none other than the
Vedic Dasyu, the night-demon who is sure to be destroyed by his solar
offspring In the evening, Oidipous is united to the Dawn, the mother who
had borne him at daybreak; and here the original story doubtless ended.
In the Vedic hymns we find Indra, the Sun, born of Dahana (Daphne),
the Dawn, whom he afterwards, in the evening twilight, marries. To the
Indian mind the story was here complete; but the Greeks had forgotten
and outgrown the primitive signification of the myth. To them Oidipous
and Iokaste were human, or at least anthropomorphic beings; and a
marriage between them was a fearful crime which called for bitter
expiation. Thus the latter part of the story arose in the effort to
satisfy a moral feeling As the name of Laios denotes the dark night, so,
like Iole, Oinone, and Iamos, the word Iokaste signifies the delicate
violet tints of the morning and evening clouds. Oidipous was exposed,
like Paris upon Ida (a Vedic word meaning "the earth"), because the
sunlight in the morning lies upon the hillside. [106] He is borne on
to the destruction of his father and the incestuous marriage with his
mother by an irresistible Moira, or Fate; the sun cannot but slay the
darkness and hasten to the couch of the violet twilight. [107] The
Sphinx is the storm-demon who sits on the cloud-rock and imprisons the
rain; she is the same as Medusa, Ahi, or Echidna, and Chimaira, and is
akin to the throttling snakes of darkness which the jealous Here sent to
destroy Herakles in his cradle. The idea was not derived from Egypt, but
the Greeks, on finding Egyptian figures resembling their conception of
the Sphinx, called them by the same name. The omniscient Sun comprehends
the sense of her dark mutterings, and destroys her, as Indra slays
Vritra, bringing down rain upon the parched earth. The Erinyes, who
bring to light the crimes of Oidipous, have been explained, in a
previous paper, as the personification of daylight, which reveals the
evil deeds done under the cover of night. The grove of the Erinyes, like
the garden of the Hyperboreans, represents "the fairy network of clouds,
which are the first to receive and the last to lose the light of the sun
in the morning and in the evening; hence, although Oidipous dies in a
thunder-storm, yet the Eumenides are kind to him, and his last hour is
one of deep peace and tranquillity." [108] To the last remains with him
his daughter Antigone, "she who is born opposite," the pale light which
springs up opposite to the setting sun.

These examples show that a story-root may be as prolific of
heterogeneous offspring as a word-root. Just as we find the root spak,
"to look," begetting words so various as sceptic, bishop, speculate,
conspicsuous, species, and spice, we must expect to find a simple
representation of the diurnal course of the sun, like those lyrically
given in the Veda, branching off into stories as diversified as those
of Oidipous, Herakles, Odysseus, and Siegfried. In fact, the types
upon which stories are constructed are wonderfully few. Some clever
playwright--I believe it was Scribe--has said that there are only seven
possible dramatic situations; that is, all the plays in the world may be
classed with some one of seven archetypal dramas. [109] If this be
true, the astonishing complexity of mythology taken in the concrete, as
compared with its extreme simplicity when analyzed, need not surprise

The extreme limits of divergence between stories descended from a common
root are probably reached in the myths of light and darkness with which
the present discussion is mainly concerned The subject will be best
elucidated by taking a single one of these myths and following its
various fortunes through different regions of the Aryan world. The myth
of Hercules and Cacus has been treated by M. Breal in an essay which
is one of the most valuable contributions ever made to the study of
comparative mythology; and while following his footsteps our task will
be an easy one.

The battle between Hercules and Cacus, although one of the oldest of the
traditions common to the whole Indo-European race, appears in Italy as
a purely local legend, and is narrated as such by Virgil, in the eighth
book of the AEneid; by Livy, at the beginning of his history; and
by Propertius and Ovid. Hercules, journeying through Italy after his
victory over Geryon, stops to rest by the bank of the Tiber. While he is
taking his repose, the three-headed monster Cacus, a son of Vulcan and
a formidable brigand, comes and steals his cattle, and drags them
tail-foremost to a secret cavern in the rocks. But the lowing of the
cows arouses Hercules, and he runs toward the cavern where the robber,
already frightened, has taken refuge. Armed with a huge flinty rock, he
breaks open the entrance of the cavern, and confronts the demon within,
who vomits forth flames at him and roars like the thunder in the
storm-cloud. After a short combat, his hideous body falls at the feet
of the invincible hero, who erects on the spot an altar to Jupiter
Inventor, in commemoration of the recovery of his cattle. Ancient Rome
teemed with reminiscences of this event, which Livy regarded as first
in the long series of the exploits of his countrymen. The place where
Hercules pastured his oxen was known long after as the Forum Boarium;
near it the Porta Trigemina preserved the recollection of the monster's
triple head; and in the time of Diodorus Siculus sight-seers were shown
the cavern of Cacus on the slope of the Aventine. Every tenth day
the earlier generations of Romans celebrated the victory with solemn
sacrifices at the Ara Maxima; and on days of triumph the fortunate
general deposited there a tithe of his booty, to be distributed among
the citizens.

In this famous myth, however, the god Hercules did not originally
figure. The Latin Hercules was an essentially peaceful and domestic
deity, watching over households and enclosures, and nearly akin to
Terminus and the Penates. He does not appear to have been a solar
divinity at all. But the purely accidental resemblance of his name to
that of the Greek deity Herakles, [110] and the manifest identity of the
Cacus-myth with the story of the victory of Herakles over Geryon, led
to the substitution of Hercules for the original hero of the legend,
who was none other than Jupiter, called by his Sabine name Sancus. Now
Johannes Lydus informs us that, in Sabine, Sancus signified "the sky,"
a meaning which we have already seen to belong to the name Jupiter. The
same substitution of the Greek hero for the Roman divinity led to the
alteration of the name of the demon overcome by his thunderbolts. The
corrupted title Cacus was supposed to be identical with the Greek word
kakos, meaning "evil" and the corruption was suggested by the epithet of
Herakles, Alexikakos, or "the averter of ill." Originally, however,
the name was Caecius, "he who blinds or darkens," and it corresponds
literally to the name of the Greek demon Kaikias, whom an old proverb,
preserved by Aulus Gellius, describes as a stealer of the clouds. [111]

Thus the significance of the myth becomes apparent. The three-headed
Cacus is seen to be a near kinsman of Geryon's three-headed dog Orthros,
and of the three-headed Kerberos, the hell-hound who guards the dark
regions below the horizon. He is the original werewolf or Rakshasa, the
fiend of the storm who steals the bright cattle of Helios, and hides
them in the black cavernous rock, from which they are afterwards rescued
by the schamir or lightning-stone of the solar hero. The physical
character of the myth is apparent even in the description of Virgil,
which reads wonderfully like a Vedic hymn in celebration of the exploits
of Indra. But when we turn to the Veda itself, we find the correctness
of the interpretation demonstrated again and again, with inexhaustible
prodigality of evidence. Here we encounter again the three-headed
Orthros under the identical title of Vritra, "he who shrouds or
envelops," called also Cushna, "he who parches," Pani, "the robber," and
Ahi, "the strangler." In many hymns of the Rig-Veda the story is told
over and over, like a musical theme arranged with variations. Indra,
the god of light, is a herdsman who tends a herd of bright golden or
violet-coloured cattle. Vritra, a snake-like monster with three heads,
steals them and hides them in a cavern, but Indra slays him as Jupiter
slew Caecius, and the cows are recovered. The language of the myth is
so significant, that the Hindu commentators of the Veda have
themselves given explanations of it similar to those proposed by modern
philologists. To them the legend never became devoid of sense, as the
myth of Geryon appeared to Greek scholars like Apollodoros. [112]

These celestial cattle, with their resplendent coats of purple and gold,
are the clouds lit up by the solar rays; but the demon who steals them
is not always the fiend of the storm, acting in that capacity. They are
stolen every night by Vritra the concealer, and Caecius the darkener,
and Indra is obliged to spend hours in looking for them, sending Sarama,
the inconstant twilight, to negotiate for their recovery. Between
the storm-myth and the myth of night and morning the resemblance is
sometimes so close as to confuse the interpretation of the two. Many
legends which Max Muller explains as myths of the victory of day over
night are explained by Dr. Kuhn as storm-myths; and the disagreement
between two such powerful champions would be a standing reproach to what
is rather prematurely called the SCIENCE of comparative mythology,
were it not easy to show that the difference is merely apparent and
non-essential. It is the old story of the shield with two sides; and a
comparison of the ideas fundamental to these myths will show that there
is no valid ground for disagreement in the interpretation of them. The
myths of schamir and the divining-rod, analyzed in a previous paper,
explain the rending of the thunder-cloud and the procuring of water
without especial reference to any struggle between opposing divinities.
But in the myth of Hercules and Cacus, the fundamental idea is the
victory of the solar god over the robber who steals the light. Now
whether the robber carries off the light in the evening when Indra has
gone to sleep, or boldly rears his black form against the sky during the
daytime, causing darkness to spread over the earth, would make little
difference to the framers of the myth. To a chicken a solar eclipse
is the same thing as nightfall, and he goes to roost accordingly. Why,
then, should the primitive thinker have made a distinction between
the darkening of the sky caused by black clouds and that caused by
the rotation of the earth? He had no more conception of the scientific
explanation of these phenomena than the chicken has of the scientific
explanation of an eclipse. For him it was enough to know that the solar
radiance was stolen, in the one case as in the other, and to suspect
that the same demon was to blame for both robberies.

The Veda itself sustains this view. It is certain that the victory of
Indra over Vritra is essentially the same as his victory over the Panis.
Vritra, the storm-fiend, is himself called one of the Panis; yet the
latter are uniformly represented as night-demons. They steal Indra's
golden cattle and drive them by circuitous paths to a dark hiding-place
near the eastern horizon. Indra sends the dawn-nymph, Sarama, to search
for them, but as she comes within sight of the dark stable, the Panis
try to coax her to stay with them: "Let us make thee our sister, do not
go away again; we will give thee part of the cows, O darling." [113]
According to the text of this hymn, she scorns their solicitations, but
elsewhere the fickle dawn-nymph is said to coquet with the powers of
darkness. She does not care for their cows, but will take a drink of
milk, if they will be so good as to get it for her. Then she goes back
and tells Indra that she cannot find the cows. He kicks her with his
foot, and she runs back to the Panis, followed by the god, who smites
them all with his unerring arrows and recovers the stolen light. From
such a simple beginning as this has been deduced the Greek myth of the
faithlessness of Helen. [114]

These night-demons, the Panis, though not apparently regarded with any
strong feeling of moral condemnation, are nevertheless hated and dreaded
as the authors of calamity. They not only steal the daylight, but they
parch the earth and wither the fruits, and they slay vegetation during
the winter months. As Caecius, the "darkener," became ultimately changed
into Cacus, the "evil one," so the name of Vritra, the "concealer," the
most famous of the Panis, was gradually generalized until it came to
mean "enemy," like the English word fiend, and began to be applied
indiscriminately to any kind of evil spirit. In one place he is called
Adeva, the "enemy of the gods," an epithet exactly equivalent to the
Persian dev.

In the Zendavesta the myth of Hercules and Cacus has given rise to a
vast system of theology. The fiendish Panis are concentrated in Ahriman
or Anro-mainyas, whose name signifies the "spirit of darkness," and
who carries on a perpetual warfare against Ormuzd or Ahuramazda, who
is described by his ordinary surname, Spentomainyas, as the "spirit of
light." The ancient polytheism here gives place to a refined dualism,
not very different from what in many Christian sects has passed current
as monotheism. Ahriman is the archfiend, who struggles with Ormuzd, not
for the possession of a herd of perishable cattle, but for the dominion
of the universe. Ormuzd creates the world pure and beautiful, but
Ahriman comes after him and creates everything that is evil in it. He
not only keeps the earth covered with darkness during half of the day,
and withholds the rain and destroys the crops, but he is the author of
all evil thoughts and the instigator of all wicked actions. Like his
progenitor Vritra and his offspring Satan, he is represented under the
form of a serpent; and the destruction which ultimately awaits these
demons is also in reserve for him. Eventually there is to be a day of
reckoning, when Ahriman will be bound in chains and rendered powerless,
or when, according to another account, he will be converted to
righteousness, as Burns hoped and Origen believed would be the case with

This dualism of the ancient Persians has exerted a powerful influence
upon the development of Christian theology. The very idea of an
archfiend Satan, which Christianity received from Judaism, seems either
to have been suggested by the Persian Ahriman, or at least to have
derived its principal characteristics from that source. There is no
evidence that the Jews, previous to the Babylonish captivity, possessed
the conception of a Devil as the author of all evil. In the earlier
books of the Old Testament Jehovah is represented as dispensing with his
own hand the good and the evil, like the Zeus of the Iliad. [115] The
story of the serpent in Eden--an Aryan story in every particular,
which has crept into the Pentateuch--is not once alluded to in the Old
Testament; and the notion of Satan as the author of evil appears only
in the later books, composed after the Jews had come into close contact
with Persian ideas. [116] In the Book of Job, as Reville observes, Satan
is "still a member of the celestial court, being one of the sons of the
Elohim, but having as his special office the continual accusation of
men, and having become so suspicious by his practice as public accuser,
that he believes in the virtue of no one, and always presupposes
interested motives for the purest manifestations of human piety." In
this way the character of this angel became injured, and he became more
and more an object of dread and dislike to men, until the later Jews
ascribed to him all the attributes of Ahriman, and in this singularly
altered shape he passed into Christian theology. Between the Satan of
the Book of Job and the mediaeval Devil the metamorphosis is as great
as that which degraded the stern Erinys, who brings evil deeds to light,
into the demon-like Fury who torments wrong-doers in Tartarus; and,
making allowance for difference of circumstances, the process of
degradation has been very nearly the same in the two cases.

The mediaeval conception of the Devil is a grotesque compound of
elements derived from all the systems of pagan mythology which
Christianity superseded. He is primarily a rebellious angel, expelled
from heaven along with his followers, like the giants who attempted
to scale Olympos, and like the impious Efreets of Arabian legend who
revolted against the beneficent rule of Solomon. As the serpent prince
of the outer darkness, he retains the old characteristics of Vritra,
Ahi, Typhon, and Echidna. As the black dog which appears behind the
stove in Dr. Faust's study, he is the classic hell-hound Kerberos, the
Vedic Carvara. From the sylvan deity Pan he gets his goat-like body, his
horns and cloven hoofs. Like the wind-god Orpheus, to whose music the
trees bent their heads to listen, he is an unrivalled player on the
bagpipes. Like those other wind-gods the psychopomp Hermes and the wild
huntsman Odin, he is the prince of the powers of the air: his flight
through the midnight sky, attended by his troop of witches mounted on
their brooms, which sometimes break the boughs and sweep the leaves from
the trees, is the same as the furious chase of the Erlking Odin or the
Burckar Vittikab. He is Dionysos, who causes red wine to flow from
the dry wood, alike on the deck of the Tyrrhenian pirate-ship and in
Auerbach's cellar at Leipzig. He is Wayland, the smith, a skilful
worker in metals and a wonderful architect, like the classic fire-god
Hephaistos or Vulcan; and, like Hephaistos, he is lame from the effects
of his fall from heaven. From the lightning-god Thor he obtains his red
beard, his pitchfork, and his power over thunderbolts; and, like that
ancient deity, he is in the habit of beating his wife behind the door
when the rain falls during sunshine. Finally, he takes a hint from
Poseidon and from the swan-maidens, and appears as a water-imp or Nixy
(whence probably his name of Old Nick), and as the Davy (deva) whose
"locker" is situated at the bottom of the sea. [117]

According to the Scotch divines of the seventeenth century, the Devil is
a learned scholar and profound thinker. Having profited by six thousand
years of intense study and meditation, he has all science, philosophy,
and theology at his tongue's end; and, as his skill has increased with
age, he is far more than a match for mortals in cunning. [118] Such,
however, is not the view taken by mediaeval mythology, which usually
represents his stupidity as equalling his malignity. The victory of
Hercules over Cacus is repeated in a hundred mediaeval legends in which
the Devil is overreached and made a laughing-stock. The germ of this
notion may be found in the blinding of Polyphemos by Odysseus, which
is itself a victory of the sun-hero over the night-demon, and which
curiously reappears in a Middle-Age story narrated by Mr. Cox. "The
Devil asks a man who is moulding buttons what he may be doing; and when
the man answers that he is moulding eyes, asks him further whether he
can give him a pair of new eyes. He is told to come again another day;
and when he makes his appearance accordingly, the man tells him that the
operation cannot be performed rightly unless he is first tightly bound
with his back fastened to a bench. While he is thus pinioned he asks the
man's name. The reply is Issi (`himself'). When the lead is melted, the
Devil opens his eyes wide to receive the deadly stream. As soon as he is
blinded, he starts up in agony, bearing away the bench to which he had
been bound; and when some workpeople in the fields ask him who had thus
treated him, his answer is, 'Issi teggi' (`Self did it'). With a laugh
they bid him lie on the bed which he has made: 'selbst gethan, selbst
habe.' The Devil died of his new eyes, and was never seen again."

In his attempts to obtain human souls the Devil is frequently foiled by
the superior cunning of mortals. Once, he agreed to build a house for
a peasant in exchange for the peasant's soul; but if the house were not
finished before cockcrow, the contract was to be null and void. Just as
the Devil was putting on the last tile the man imitated a cockcrow and
waked up all the roosters in the neighbourhood, so that the fiend had
his labour for his pains. A merchant of Louvain once sold himself to
the Devil, who heaped upon him all manner of riches for seven years, and
then came to get him. The merchant "took the Devil in a friendly manner
by the hand and, as it was just evening, said, 'Wife, bring a light
quickly for the gentleman.' 'That is not at all necessary,' said the
Devil; 'I am merely come to fetch you.' 'Yes, yes, that I know very
well,' said the merchant, 'only just grant me the time till this little
candle-end is burnt out, as I have a few letters to sign and to put
on my coat.' 'Very well,' said the Devil, 'but only till the candle is
burnt out.' 'Good,' said the merchant, and going into the next room,
ordered the maid-servant to place a large cask full of water close to a
very deep pit that was dug in the garden. The men-servants also carried,
each of them, a cask to the spot; and when all was done, they were
ordered each to take a shovel, and stand round the pit. The merchant
then returned to the Devil, who seeing that not more than about an inch
of candle remained, said, laughing, 'Now get yourself ready, it will
soon be burnt out.' 'That I see, and am content; but I shall hold you to
your word, and stay till it IS burnt.' 'Of course,' answered the Devil;
'I stick to my word.' 'It is dark in the next room,' continued the
merchant, 'but I must find the great book with clasps, so let me just
take the light for one moment.' 'Certainly,' said the Devil, 'but I'll
go with you.' He did so, and the merchant's trepidation was now on the
increase. When in the next room he said on a sudden, 'Ah, now I know,
the key is in the garden door.' And with these words he ran out with the
light into the garden, and before the Devil could overtake him, threw it
into the pit, and the men and the maids poured water upon it, and then
filled up the hole with earth. Now came the Devil into the garden and
asked, 'Well, did you get the key? and how is it with the candle? where
is it?' 'The candle?' said the merchant. 'Yes, the candle.' 'Ha, ha, ha!
it is not yet burnt out,' answered the merchant, laughing, 'and will not
be burnt out for the next fifty years; it lies there a hundred fathoms
deep in the earth.' When the Devil heard this he screamed awfully, and
went off with a most intolerable stench." [119]

One day a fowler, who was a terrible bungler and could n't hit a bird
at a dozen paces, sold his soul to the Devil in order to become a
Freischutz. The fiend was to come for him in seven years, but must be
always able to name the animal at which he was shooting, otherwise the
compact was to be nullified. After that day the fowler never missed his
aim, and never did a fowler command such wages. When the seven years
were out the fowler told all these things to his wife, and the twain hit
upon an expedient for cheating the Devil. The woman stripped herself,
daubed her whole body with molasses, and rolled herself up in a
feather-bed, cut open for this purpose. Then she hopped and skipped
about the field where her husband stood parleying with Old Nick.
"there's a shot for you, fire away," said the Devil. "Of course I'll
fire, but do you first tell me what kind of a bird it is; else our
agreement is cancelled, Old Boy." There was no help for it; the
Devil had to own himself nonplussed, and off he fled, with a whiff of
brimstone which nearly suffocated the Freischutz and his good woman.

In the legend of Gambrinus, the fiend is still more ingloriously
defeated. Gambrinus was a fiddler, who, being jilted by his sweetheart,
went out into the woods to hang himself. As he was sitting on the bough,
with the cord about his neck, preparatory to taking the fatal plunge,
suddenly a tall man in a green coat appeared before him, and offered
his services. He might become as wealthy as he liked, and make his
sweetheart burst with vexation at her own folly, but in thirty years
he must give up his soul to Beelzebub. The bargain was struck, for
Gambrinus thought thirty years a long time to enjoy one's self in, and
perhaps the Devil might get him in any event; as well be hung for a
sheep as for a lamb. Aided by Satan, he invented chiming-bells and
lager-beer, for both of which achievements his name is held in grateful
remembrance by the Teuton. No sooner had the Holy Roman Emperor quaffed
a gallon or two of the new beverage than he made Gambrinus Duke of
Brabant and Count of Flanders, and then it was the fiddler's turn to
laugh at the discomfiture of his old sweetheart. Gambrinus kept clear of
women, says the legend, and so lived in peace. For thirty years he sat
beneath his belfry with the chimes, meditatively drinking beer with his
nobles and burghers around him. Then Beelzebub sent Jocko, one of his
imps, with orders to bring back Gambrinus before midnight. But Jocko
was, like Swiveller's Marchioness, ignorant of the taste of beer, never
having drunk of it even in a sip, and the Flemish schoppen were too much
for him. He fell into a drunken sleep, and did not wake up until noon
next day, at which he was so mortified that he had not the face to go
back to hell at all. So Gambrinus lived on tranquilly for a century or
two, and drank so much beer that he turned into a beer-barrel. [121]

The character of gullibility attributed to the Devil in these legends
is probably derived from the Trolls, or "night-folk," of Northern
mythology. In most respects the Trolls resemble the Teutonic elves
and fairies, and the Jinn or Efreets of the Arabian Nights; but their
pedigree is less honourable. The fairies, or "White Ladies," were
not originally spirits of darkness, but were nearly akin to the
swan-maidens, dawn-nymphs, and dryads, and though their wrath was to
be dreaded, they were not malignant by nature. Christianity, having no
place for such beings, degraded them into something like imps; the most
charitable theory being that they were angels who had remained neutral
during Satan's rebellion, in punishment for which Michael expelled them
from heaven, but has left their ultimate fate unannounced until the day
of judgment. The Jinn appear to have been similarly degraded on the rise
of Mohammedanism. But the Trolls were always imps of darkness. They are
descended from the Jotuns, or Frost-Giants of Northern paganism, and
they correspond to the Panis, or night-demons of the Veda. In many Norse
tales they are said to burst when they see the risen sun. [122] They eat
human flesh, are ignorant of the simplest arts, and live in the deepest
recesses of the forest or in caverns on the hillside, where the sunlight
never penetrates. Some of these characteristics may very likely have
been suggested by reminiscences of the primeval Lapps, from whom the
Aryan invaders wrested the dominion of Europe. [123] In some legends the
Trolls are represented as an ancient race of beings now superseded by
the human race. "'What sort of an earth-worm is this?' said one Giant to
another, when they met a man as they walked. 'These are the earth-worms
that will one day eat us up, brother,' answered the other; and soon
both Giants left that part of Germany." "'See what pretty playthings,
mother!' cries the Giant's daughter, as she unties her apron, and shows
her a plough, and horses, and a peasant. 'Back with them this instant,'
cries the mother in wrath, 'and put them down as carefully as you can,
for these playthings can do our race great harm, and when these come we
must budge.'" Very naturally the primitive Teuton, possessing already
the conception of night-demons, would apply it to these men of the
woods whom even to this day his uneducated descendants believe to be
sorcerers, able to turn men into wolves. But whatever contributions
historical fact may have added to his character, the Troll is originally
a creation of mythology, like Polyphemos, whom he resembles in his
uncouth person, his cannibal appetite, and his lack of wit. His ready
gullibility is shown in the story of "Boots who ate a Match with the
Troll." Boots, the brother of Cinderella, and the counterpart alike
of Jack the Giant-killer, and of Odysseus, is the youngest of three
brothers who go into a forest to cut wood. The Troll appears and
threatens to kill any one who dares to meddle with his timber. The elder
brothers flee, but Boots puts on a bold face. He pulled a cheese out of
his scrip and squeezed it till the whey began to spurt out. "Hold your
tongue, you dirty Troll," said he, "or I'll squeeze you as I squeeze
this stone." So the Troll grew timid and begged to be spared, [124] and
Boots let him off on condition that he would hew all day with him.
They worked till nightfall, and the Troll's giant strength accomplished
wonders. Then Boots went home with the Troll, having arranged that he
should get the water while his host made the fire. When they reached the
hut there were two enormous iron pails, so heavy that none but a Troll
could lift them, but Boots was not to be frightened. "Bah!" said he. "Do
you suppose I am going to get water in those paltry hand-basins? Hold
on till I go and get the spring itself!" "O dear!" said the Troll, "I'd
rather not; do you make the fire, and I'll get the water." Then when the
soup was made, Boots challenged his new friend to an eating-match; and
tying his scrip in front of him, proceeded to pour soup into it by the
ladleful. By and by the giant threw down his spoon in despair, and owned
himself conquered. "No, no! don't give it up yet," said Boots, "just cut
a hole in your stomach like this, and you can eat forever." And suiting
the action to the words, he ripped open his scrip. So the silly Troll
cut himself open and died, and Boots carried off all his gold and

Once there was a Troll whose name was Wind-and-Weather, and Saint Olaf
hired him to build a church. If the church were completed within a
certain specified time, the Troll was to get possession of Saint Olaf.
The saint then planned such a stupendous edifice that he thought the
giant would be forever building it; but the work went on briskly, and at
the appointed day nothing remained but to finish the point of the spire.
In his consternation Olaf rushed about until he passed by the Troll's
den, when he heard the giantess telling her children that their father,
Wind-and-Weather, was finishing his church, and would be home to-morrow
with Saint Olaf. So the saint ran back to the church and bawled out,
"Hold on, Wind-and-Weather, your spire is crooked!" Then the giant
tumbled down from the roof and broke into a thousand pieces. As in the
cases of the Mara and the werewolf, the enchantment was at an end as
soon as the enchanter was called by name.

These Trolls, like the Arabian Efreets, had an ugly habit of carrying
off beautiful princesses. This is strictly in keeping with their
character as night-demons, or Panis. In the stories of Punchkin and
the Heartless Giant, the night-demon carries off the dawn-maiden after
having turned into stone her solar brethren. But Boots, or Indra, in
search of his kinsfolk, by and by arrives at the Troll's castle, and
then the dawn-nymph, true to her fickle character, cajoles the Giant
and enables Boots to destroy him. In the famous myth which serves as the
basis for the Volsunga Saga and the Nibelungenlied, the dragon Fafnir
steals the Valkyrie Brynhild and keeps her shut up in a castle on the
Glistening Heath, until some champion shall be found powerful enough
to rescue her. The castle is as hard to enter as that of the Sleeping
Beauty; but Sigurd, the Northern Achilleus, riding on his deathless
horse, and wielding his resistless sword Gram, forces his way in, slays
Fafnir, and recovers the Valkyrie.

In the preceding paper the Valkyries were shown to belong to the class
of cloud-maidens; and between the tale of Sigurd and that of Hercules
and Cacus there is no difference, save that the bright sunlit clouds
which are represented in the one as cows are in the other represented
as maidens. In the myth of the Argonauts they reappear as the Golden
Fleece, carried to the far east by Phrixos and Helle, who are themselves
Niblungs, or "Children of the Mist" (Nephele), and there guarded by a
dragon. In all these myths a treasure is stolen by a fiend of darkness,
and recovered by a hero of light, who slays the demon. And--remembering
what Scribe said about the fewness of dramatic types--I believe we are
warranted in asserting that all the stories of lovely women held in
bondage by monsters, and rescued by heroes who perform wonderful tasks,
such as Don Quixote burned to achieve, are derived ultimately from solar
myths, like the myth of Sigurd and Brynhild. I do not mean to say that
the story-tellers who beguiled their time in stringing together the
incidents which make up these legends were conscious of their solar
character. They did not go to work, with malice prepense, to weave
allegories and apologues. The Greeks who first told the story of Perseus
and Andromeda, the Arabians who devised the tale of Codadad and
his brethren, the Flemings who listened over their beer-mugs to
the adventures of Culotte-Verte, were not thinking of sun-gods or
dawn-maidens, or night-demons; and no theory of mythology can be sound
which implies such an extravagance. Most of these stories have lived
on the lips of the common people; and illiterate persons are not in
the habit of allegorizing in the style of mediaeval monks or rabbinical
commentators. But what has been amply demonstrated is, that the sun
and the clouds, the light and the darkness, were once supposed to
be actuated by wills analogous to the human will; that they were
personified and worshipped or propitiated by sacrifice; and that their
doings were described in language which applied so well to the deeds of
human or quasi-human beings that in course of time its primitive purport
faded from recollection. No competent scholar now doubts that the myths
of the Veda and the Edda originated in this way, for philology itself
shows that the names employed in them are the names of the great
phenomena of nature. And when once a few striking stories had thus
arisen,--when once it had been told how Indra smote the Panis, and how
Sigurd rescued Brynhild, and how Odysseus blinded the Kyklops,--then
certain mythic or dramatic types had been called into existence; and to
these types, preserved in the popular imagination, future stories would
inevitably conform. We need, therefore, have no hesitation in admitting
a common origin for the vanquished Panis and the outwitted Troll or
Devil; we may securely compare the legends of St. George and Jack the
Giant-killer with the myth of Indra slaying Vritra; we may see in the
invincible Sigurd the prototype of many a doughty knight-errant of
romance; and we may learn anew the lesson, taught with fresh emphasis by
modern scholarship, that in the deepest sense there is nothing new under
the sun.

I am the more explicit on this point, because it seems to me that the
unguarded language of many students of mythology is liable to give rise
to misapprehensions, and to discredit both the method which they employ
and the results which they have obtained. If we were to give full weight
to the statements which are sometimes made, we should perforce believe
that primitive men had nothing to do but to ponder about the sun and the
clouds, and to worry themselves over the disappearance of daylight. But
there is nothing in the scientific interpretation of myths which obliges
us to go any such length. I do not suppose that any ancient Aryan,
possessed of good digestive powers and endowed with sound common-sense,
ever lay awake half the night wondering whether the sun would come back
again. [125] The child and the savage believe of necessity that the
future will resemble the past, and it is only philosophy which raises
doubts on the subject. [126] The predominance of solar legends in most
systems of mythology is not due to the lack of "that Titanic assurance
with which we say, the sun MUST rise"; [127] nor again to the fact
that the phenomena of day and night are the most striking phenomena in
nature. Eclipses and earthquakes and floods are phenomena of the most
terrible and astounding kind, and they have all generated myths;
yet their contributions to folk-lore are scanty compared with those
furnished by the strife between the day-god and his enemies. The
sun-myths have been so prolific because the dramatic types to which
they have given rise are of surpassing human interest. The dragon who
swallows the sun is no doubt a fearful personage; but the hero who toils
for others, who slays hydra-headed monsters, and dries the tears
of fair-haired damsels, and achieves success in spite of incredible
obstacles, is a being with whom we can all sympathize, and of whom we
never weary of hearing.

With many of these legends which present the myth of light and darkness
in its most attractive form, the reader is already acquainted, and it is
needless to retail stories which have been told over and over again in
books which every one is presumed to have read. I will content myself
with a weird Irish legend, narrated by Mr. Patrick Kennedy, [128]
in which we here and there catch glimpses of the primitive mythical
symbols, as fragments of gold are seen gleaming through the crystal of

Long before the Danes ever came to Ireland, there died at Muskerry a
Sculloge, or country farmer, who by dint of hard work and close economy
had amassed enormous wealth. His only son did not resemble him. When the
young Sculloge looked about the house, the day after his father's
death, and saw the big chests full of gold and silver, and the cupboards
shining with piles of sovereigns, and the old stockings stuffed with
large and small coin, he said to himself, "Bedad, how shall I ever be
able to spend the likes o' that!" And so he drank, and gambled, and
wasted his time in hunting and horse-racing, until after a while he
found the chests empty and the cupboards poverty-stricken, and the
stockings lean and penniless. Then he mortgaged his farm-house and
gambled away all the money he got for it, and then he bethought him that
a few hundred pounds might be raised on his mill. But when he went to
look at it, he found "the dam broken, and scarcely a thimbleful of water
in the mill-race, and the wheel rotten, and the thatch of the house all
gone, and the upper millstone lying flat on the lower one, and a coat
of dust and mould over everything." So he made up his mind to borrow a
horse and take one more hunt to-morrow and then reform his habits.

As he was returning late in the evening from this farewell hunt, passing
through a lonely glen he came upon an old man playing backgammon,
betting on his left hand against his right, and crying and cursing
because the right WOULD win. "Come and bet with me," said he to
Sculloge. "Faith, I have but a sixpence in the world," was the reply;
"but, if you like, I'll wager that on the right." "Done," said the old
man, who was a Druid; "if you win I'll give you a hundred guineas." So
the game was played, and the old man, whose right hand was always the
winner, paid over the guineas and told Sculloge to go to the Devil with

Instead of following this bit of advice, however, the young farmer went
home and began to pay his debts, and next week he went to the glen
and won another game, and made the Druid rebuild his mill. So Sculloge
became prosperous again, and by and by he tried his luck a third time,
and won a game played for a beautiful wife. The Druid sent her to his
house the next morning before he was out of bed, and his servants came
knocking at the door and crying, "Wake up! wake up! Master Sculloge,
there's a young lady here to see you." "Bedad, it's the vanithee [129]
herself," said Sculloge; and getting up in a hurry, he spent three
quarters of an hour in dressing himself. At last he went down stairs,
and there on the sofa was the prettiest lady ever seen in Ireland!
Naturally, Sculloge's heart beat fast and his voice trembled, as he
begged the lady's pardon for this Druidic style of wooing, and besought
her not to feel obliged to stay with him unless she really liked him.
But the young lady, who was a king's daughter from a far country, was
wondrously charmed with the handsome farmer, and so well did they get
along that the priest was sent for without further delay, and they were
married before sundown. Sabina was the vanithee's name; and she warned
her husband to have no more dealings with Lassa Buaicht, the old man of
the glen. So for a while all went happily, and the Druidic bride was as
good as she was beautiful But by and by Sculloge began to think he was
not earning money fast enough. He could not bear to see his wife's white
hands soiled with work, and thought it would be a fine thing if he could
only afford to keep a few more servants, and drive about with Sabina
in an elegant carriage, and see her clothed in silk and adorned with

"I will play one more game and set the stakes high," said Sculloge to
himself one evening, as he sat pondering over these things; and so,
without consulting Sabina, he stole away to the glen, and played a game
for ten thousand guineas. But the evil Druid was now ready to pounce
on his prey, and he did not play as of old. Sculloge broke into a cold
sweat with agony and terror as he saw the left hand win! Then the face
of Lassa Buaicht grew dark and stern, and he laid on Sculloge the curse
which is laid upon the solar hero in misfortune, that he should never
sleep twice under the same roof, or ascend the couch of the dawn-nymph,
his wife, until he should have procured and brought to him the sword of
light. When Sculloge reached home, more dead than alive, he saw that his
wife knew all. Bitterly they wept together, but she told him that with
courage all might be set right. She gave him a Druidic horse, which bore
him swiftly over land and sea, like the enchanted steed of the Arabian
Nights, until he reached the castle of his wife's father who, as
Sculloge now learned, was a good Druid, the brother of the evil Lassa
Buaicht. This good Druid told him that the sword of light was kept by
a third brother, the powerful magician, Fiach O'Duda, who dwelt in an
enchanted castle, which many brave heroes had tried to enter, but
the dark sorcerer had slain them all. Three high walls surrounded
the castle, and many had scaled the first of these, but none had ever
returned alive. But Sculloge was not to be daunted, and, taking from
his father-in-law a black steed, he set out for the fortress of Fiach
O'Duda. Over the first high wall nimbly leaped the magic horse, and
Sculloge called aloud on the Druid to come out and surrender his sword.
Then came out a tall, dark man, with coal-black eyes and hair and
melancholy visage, and made a furious sweep at Sculloge with the flaming
blade. But the Druidic beast sprang back over the wall in the twinkling
of an eye and rescued his rider, leaving, however, his tail behind in
the court-yard. Then Sculloge returned in triumph to his father-in-law's
palace, and the night was spent in feasting and revelry.

Next day Sculloge rode out on a white horse, and when he got to Fiach's
castle, he saw the first wall lying in rubbish. He leaped the second,
and the same scene occurred as the day before, save that the horse
escaped unharmed.

The third day Sculloge went out on foot, with a harp like that of
Orpheus in his hand, and as he swept its strings the grass bent to
listen and the trees bowed their heads. The castle walls all lay in
ruins, and Sculloge made his way unhindered to the upper room, where
Fiach lay in Druidic slumber, lulled by the harp. He seized the sword
of light, which was hung by the chimney sheathed in a dark scabbard, and
making the best of his way back to the good king's palace, mounted his
wife's steed, and scoured over land and sea until he found himself in
the gloomy glen where Lassa Buaicht was still crying and cursing and
betting on his left hand against his right.

"Here, treacherous fiend, take your sword of light!" shouted Sculloge in
tones of thunder; and as he drew it from its sheath the whole valley
was lighted up as with the morning sun, and next moment the head of the
wretched Druid was lying at his feet, and his sweet wife, who had come
to meet him, was laughing and crying in his arms. November, 1870.


THE theory of mythology set forth in the four preceding papers, and
illustrated by the examination of numerous myths relating to the
lightning, the storm-wind, the clouds, and the sunlight, was originally
framed with reference solely to the mythic and legendary lore of the
Aryan world. The phonetic identity of the names of many Western gods and
heroes with the names of those Vedic divinities which are obviously
the personifications of natural phenomena, suggested the theory which
philosophical considerations had already foreshadowed in the works
of Hume and Comte, and which the exhaustive analysis of Greek, Hindu,
Keltic, and Teutonic legends has amply confirmed. Let us now, before
proceeding to the consideration of barbaric folk-lore, briefly
recapitulate the results obtained by modern scholarship working strictly
within the limits of the Aryan domain.

In the first place, it has been proved once for all that the languages
spoken by the Hindus, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Kelts, Slaves, and
Teutons are all descended from a single ancestral language, the Old
Aryan, in the same sense that French, Italian, and Spanish are descended
from the Latin. And from this undisputed fact it is an inevitable
inference that these various races contain, along with other elements,
a race-element in common, due to their Aryan pedigree. That the
Indo-European races are wholly Aryan is very improbable, for in every
case the countries overrun by them were occupied by inferior races,
whose blood must have mingled in varying degrees with that of their
conquerors; but that every Indo-European people is in great part
descended from a common Aryan stock is not open to question.

In the second place, along with a common fund of moral and religious
ideas and of legal and ceremonial observances, we find these kindred
peoples possessed of a common fund of myths, superstitions, proverbs,
popular poetry, and household legends. The Hindu mother amuses her child
with fairy-tales which often correspond, even in minor incidents, with
stories in Scottish or Scandinavian nurseries; and she tells them in
words which are phonetically akin to words in Swedish and Gaelic. No
doubt many of these stories might have been devised in a dozen different
places independently of each other; and no doubt many of them have
been transmitted laterally from one people to another; but a careful
examination shows that such cannot have been the case with the great
majority of legends and beliefs. The agreement between two such stories,
for instance, as those of Faithful John and Rama and Luxman is so
close as to make it incredible that they should have been independently
fabricated, while the points of difference are so important as to make
it extremely improbable that the one was ever copied from the other.
Besides which, the essential identity of such myths as those of Sigurd
and Theseus, or of Helena and Sarama, carries us back historically to a
time when the scattered Indo-European tribes had not yet begun to
hold commercial and intellectual intercourse with each other, and
consequently could not have interchanged their epic materials or their
household stories. We are therefore driven to the conclusion--which,
startling as it may seem, is after all the most natural and plausible
one that can be stated--that the Aryan nations, which have inherited
from a common ancestral stock their languages and their customs, have
inherited also from the same common original their fireside legends.
They have preserved Cinderella and Punchkin just as they have preserved
the words for father and mother, ten and twenty; and the former case,
though more imposing to the imagination, is scientifically no less
intelligible than the latter.

Thirdly, it has been shown that these venerable tales may be grouped in
a few pretty well defined classes; and that the archetypal myth of each
class--the primitive story in conformity to which countless subsequent
tales have been generated--was originally a mere description of physical
phenomena, couched in the poetic diction of an age when everything was
personified, because all natural phenomena were supposed to be due to
the direct workings of a volition like that of which men were conscious
within themselves. Thus we are led to the striking conclusion that
mythology has had a common root, both with science and with religious
philosophy. The myth of Indra conquering Vritra was one of the theorems
of primitive Aryan science; it was a provisional explanation of the
thunder-storm, satisfactory enough until extended observation and
reflection supplied a better one. It also contained the germs of a
theology; for the life-giving solar light furnished an important part
of the primeval conception of deity. And finally, it became the fruitful
parent of countless myths, whether embodied in the stately epics of
Homer and the bards of the Nibelungenlied, or in the humbler legends of
St. George and William Tell and the ubiquitous Boots.

Such is the theory which was suggested half a century ago by the
researches of Jacob Grimm, and which, so far as concerns the mythology
of the Aryan race, is now victorious along the whole line. It remains
for us to test the universality of the general principles upon which it
is founded, by a brief analysis of sundry legends and superstitions
of the barbaric world. Since the fetichistic habit of explaining the
outward phenomena of nature after the analogy of the inward phenomena of
conscious intelligence is not a habit peculiar to our Aryan ancestors,
but is, as psychology shows, the inevitable result of the conditions
under which uncivilized thinking proceeds, we may expect to find the
barbaric mind personifying the powers of nature and making myths about
their operations the whole world over. And we need not be surprised if
we find in the resulting mythologic structures a strong resemblance to
the familiar creations of the Aryan intelligence. In point of fact, we
shall often be called upon to note such resemblance; and it accordingly
behooves us at the outset to inquire how far a similarity between
mythical tales shall be taken as evidence of a common traditional
origin, and how far it may be interpreted as due merely to the similar
workings of the untrained intelligence in all ages and countries.

Analogies drawn from the comparison of languages will here be of service
to us, if used discreetly; otherwise they are likely to bewilder far
more than to enlighten us. A theorem which Max Muller has laid down
for our guidance in this kind of investigation furnishes us with an
excellent example of the tricks which a superficial analogy may play
even with the trained scholar, when temporarily off his guard. Actuated
by a praiseworthy desire to raise the study of myths to something like
the high level of scientific accuracy already attained by the study of
words, Max Muller endeavours to introduce one of the most useful canons
of philology into a department of inquiry where its introduction could
only work the most hopeless confusion. One of the earliest lessons to be
learned by the scientific student of linguistics is the uselessness of
comparing together directly the words contained in derivative languages.
For example, you might set the English twelve side by side with the
Latin duodecim, and then stare at the two words to all eternity without
any hope of reaching a conclusion, good or bad, about either of them:
least of all would you suspect that they are descended from the same
radical. But if you take each word by itself and trace it back to its
primitive shape, explaining every change of every letter as you go, you
will at last reach the old Aryan dvadakan, which is the parent of both
these strangely metamorphosed words. [130] Nor will it do, on the other
hand, to trust to verbal similarity without a historical inquiry into
the origin of such similarity. Even in the same language two words of
quite different origin may get their corners rubbed off till they look
as like one another as two pebbles. The French words souris, a "mouse,"
and souris, a "smile," are spelled exactly alike; but the one comes from
Latin sorex and the other from Latin subridere.

Now Max Muller tells us that this principle, which is indispensable
in the study of words, is equally indispensable in the study of myths.
[131] That is, you must not rashly pronounce the Norse story of the
Heartless Giant identical with the Hindu story of Punchkin, although the
two correspond in every essential incident. In both legends a magician
turns several members of the same family into stone; the youngest member
of the family comes to the rescue, and on the way saves the lives of
sundry grateful beasts; arrived at the magician's castle, he finds
a captive princess ready to accept his love and to play the part of
Delilah to the enchanter. In both stories the enchanter's life
depends on the integrity of something which is elaborately hidden in
a far-distant island, but which the fortunate youth, instructed by
the artful princess and assisted by his menagerie of grateful beasts,
succeeds in obtaining. In both stories the youth uses his advantage
to free all his friends from their enchantment, and then proceeds to
destroy the villain who wrought all this wickedness. Yet, in spite of
this agreement, Max Muller, if I understand him aright, would not have
us infer the identity of the two stories until we have taken each
one separately and ascertained its primitive mythical significance.
Otherwise, for aught we can tell, the resemblance may be purely
accidental, like that of the French words for "mouse" and "smile."

A little reflection, however, will relieve us from this perplexity, and
assure us that the alleged analogy between the comparison of words and
the comparison of stories is utterly superficial. The transformations
of words--which are often astounding enough--depend upon a few
well-established physiological principles of utterance; and since
philology has learned to rely upon these principles, it has become
nearly as sure in its methods and results as one of the so-called "exact
sciences." Folly enough is doubtless committed within its precincts by
writers who venture there without the laborious preparation which this
science, more than almost any other, demands. But the proceedings of
the trained philologist are no more arbitrary than those of the trained
astronomer. And though the former may seem to be straining at a gnat and
swallowing a camel when he coolly tells you that violin and fiddle are
the same word, while English care and Latin cura have nothing to do with
each other, he is nevertheless no more indulging in guess-work than the
astronomer who confesses his ignorance as to the habitability of Venus
while asserting his knowledge of the existence of hydrogen in the
atmosphere of Sirius. To cite one example out of a hundred, every
philologist knows that s may become r, and that the broad a-sound may
dwindle into the closer o-sound; but when you adduce some plausible
etymology based on the assumption that r has changed into s, or o into
a, apart from the demonstrable influence of some adjacent letter, the
philologist will shake his head.

Now in the study of stories there are no such simple rules all cut and
dried for us to go by. There is no uniform psychological principle
which determines that the three-headed snake in one story shall become a
three-headed man in the next. There is no Grimm's Law in mythology which
decides that a Hindu magician shall always correspond to a Norwegian
Troll or a Keltic Druid. The laws of association of ideas are not so
simple in application as the laws of utterance. In short, the study of
myths, though it can be made sufficiently scientific in its methods and
results, does not constitute a science by itself, like philology. It
stands on a footing similar to that occupied by physical geography,
or what the Germans call "earth-knowledge." No one denies that all the
changes going on over the earth's surface conform to physical laws; but
then no one pretends that there is any single proximate principle which
governs all the phenomena of rain-fall, of soil-crumbling, of magnetic
variation, and of the distribution of plants and animals. All these
things are explained by principles obtained from the various sciences
of physics, chemistry, geology, and physiology. And in just the same way
the development and distribution of stories is explained by the help
of divers resources contributed by philology, psychology, and history.
There is therefore no real analogy between the cases cited by Max
Muller. Two unrelated words may be ground into exactly the same shape,
just as a pebble from the North Sea may be undistinguishable from
another pebble on the beach of the Adriatic; but two stories like
those of Punchkin and the Heartless Giant are no more likely to arise
independently of each other than two coral reefs on opposite sides of
the globe are likely to develop into exactly similar islands.

Shall we then say boldly, that close similarity between legends is proof
of kinship, and go our way without further misgivings? Unfortunately
we cannot dispose of the matter in quite so summary a fashion; for it
remains to decide what kind and degree of similarity shall be considered
satisfactory evidence of kinship. And it is just here that doctors may
disagree. Here is the point at which our "science" betrays its weakness
as compared with the sister study of philology. Before we can decide
with confidence in any case, a great mass of evidence must be brought
into court. So long as we remained on Aryan ground, all went smoothly
enough, because all the external evidence was in our favour. We knew
at the outset, that the Aryans inherit a common language and a common
civilization, and therefore we found no difficulty in accepting the
conclusion that they have inherited, among other things, a common stock
of legends. In the barbaric world it is quite otherwise. Philology does
not pronounce in favour of a common origin for all barbaric culture,
such as it is. The notion of a single primitive language, standing in
the same relation to all existing dialects as the relation of old Aryan
to Latin and English, or that of old Semitic to Hebrew and Arabic, was a
notion suited only to the infancy of linguistic science. As the case now
stands, it is certain that all the languages actually existing cannot be
referred to a common ancestor, and it is altogether probable that
there never was any such common ancestor. I am not now referring to the
question of the unity of the human race. That question lies entirely
outside the sphere of philology. The science of language has nothing to
do with skulls or complexions, and no comparison of words can tell us
whether the black men are brethren of the white men, or whether
yellow and red men have a common pedigree: these questions belong to
comparative physiology. But the science of language can and does tell us
that a certain amount of civilization is requisite for the production
of a language sufficiently durable and wide-spread to give birth to
numerous mutually resembling offspring Barbaric languages are neither
widespread nor durable. Among savages each little group of families has
its own dialect, and coins its own expressions at pleasure; and in the
course of two or three generations a dialect gets so strangely altered
as virtually to lose its identity. Even numerals and personal pronouns,
which the Aryan has preserved for fifty centuries, get lost every few
years in Polynesia. Since the time of Captain Cook the Tahitian language
has thrown away five out of its ten simple numerals, and replaced them
by brand-new ones; and on the Amazon you may acquire a fluent command
of some Indian dialect, and then, coming back after twenty years, find
yourself worse off than Rip Van Winkle, and your learning all antiquated
and useless. How absurd, therefore, to suppose that primeval savages
originated a language which has held its own like the old Aryan and
become the prolific mother of the three or four thousand dialects now
in existence! Before a durable language can arise, there must be an
aggregation of numerous tribes into a people, so that there may be
need of communication on a large scale, and so that tradition may be
strengthened. Wherever mankind have associated in nations, permanent
languages have arisen, and their derivative dialects bear the
conspicuous marks of kinship; but where mankind have remained in their
primitive savage isolation, their languages have remained sporadic and
transitory, incapable of organic development, and showing no traces of a
kinship which never existed.

The bearing of these considerations upon the origin and diffusion of
barbaric myths is obvious. The development of a common stock of legends
is, of course, impossible, save where there is a common language; and
thus philology pronounces against the kinship of barbaric myths with
each other and with similar myths of the Aryan and Semitic worlds.
Similar stories told in Greece and Norway are likely to have a common
pedigree, because the persons who have preserved them in recollection
speak a common language and have inherited the same civilization. But
similar stories told in Labrador and South Africa are not likely to
be genealogically related, because it is altogether probable that the
Esquimaux and the Zulu had acquired their present race characteristics
before either of them possessed a language or a culture sufficient
for the production of myths. According to the nature and extent of the
similarity, it must be decided whether such stories have been carried
about from one part of the world to another, or have been independently
originated in many different places.

Here the methods of philology suggest a rule which will often be found
useful. In comparing, the vocabularies of different languages, those
words which directly imitate natural sounds--such as whiz, crash,
crackle--are not admitted as evidence of kinship between the languages
in which they occur. Resemblances between such words are obviously no
proof of a common ancestry; and they are often met with in languages
which have demonstrably had no connection with each other. So in
mythology, where we find two stories of which the primitive character is
perfectly transparent, we need have no difficulty in supposing them to
have originated independently. The myth of Jack and his Beanstalk is
found all over the world; but the idea of a country above the sky, to
which persons might gain access by climbing, is one which could hardly
fail to occur to every barbarian. Among the American tribes, as well
as among the Aryans, the rainbow and the Milky-Way have contributed the
idea of a Bridge of the Dead, over which souls must pass on the way to
the other world. In South Africa, as well as in Germany, the habits of
the fox and of his brother the jackal have given rise to fables in which
brute force is overcome by cunning. In many parts of the world we find
curiously similar stories devised to account for the stumpy tails of the
bear and hyaena, the hairless tail of the rat, and the blindness of
the mole. And in all countries may be found the beliefs that men may be
changed into beasts, or plants, or stones; that the sun is in some way
tethered or constrained to follow a certain course; that the storm-cloud
is a ravenous dragon; and that there are talismans which will
reveal hidden treasures. All these conceptions are so obvious to the
uncivilized intelligence, that stories founded upon them need not
be supposed to have a common origin, unless there turns out to be a
striking similarity among their minor details. On the other hand, the
numerous myths of an all-destroying deluge have doubtless arisen partly
from reminiscences of actually occurring local inundations, and partly
from the fact that the Scriptural account of a deluge has been carried
all over the world by Catholic and Protestant missionaries. [132]

By way of illustrating these principles, let us now cite a few of the
American myths so carefully collected by Dr. Brinton in his admirable
treatise. We shall not find in the mythology of the New World the wealth
of wit and imagination which has so long delighted us in the stories
of Herakles, Perseus, Hermes, Sigurd, and Indra. The mythic lore of
the American Indians is comparatively scanty and prosaic, as befits the
product of a lower grade of culture and a more meagre intellect. Not
only are the personages less characteristically pourtrayed, but there
is a continual tendency to extravagance, the sure index of an inferior
imagination. Nevertheless, after making due allowances for differences
in the artistic method of treatment, there is between the mythologies of
the Old and the New Worlds a fundamental resemblance. We come upon solar
myths and myths of the storm curiously blended with culture-myths, as in
the cases of Hermes, Prometheus, and Kadmos. The American parallels to
these are to be found in the stories of Michabo, Viracocha, Ioskeha, and
Quetzalcoatl. "As elsewhere the world over, so in America, many tribes
had to tell of.... an august character, who taught them what they
knew,--the tillage of the soil, the properties of plants, the art of
picture-writing, the secrets of magic; who founded their institutions
and established their religions; who governed them long with glory
abroad and peace at home; and finally did not die, but, like Frederic
Barbarossa, Charlemagne, King Arthur, and all great heroes, vanished
mysteriously, and still lives somewhere, ready at the right moment to
return to his beloved people and lead them to victory and happiness."
[133] Everyone is familiar with the numerous legends of white-skinned,
full-bearded heroes, like the mild Quetzalcoatl, who in times long
previous to Columbus came from the far East to impart the rudiments of
civilization and religion to the red men. By those who first heard
these stories they were supposed, with naive Euhemerism, to refer to
pre-Columbian visits of Europeans to this continent, like that of the
Northmen in the tenth century. But a scientific study of the subject has
dissipated such notions. These legends are far too numerous, they are
too similar to each other, they are too manifestly symbolical, to admit
of any such interpretation. By comparing them carefully with each other,
and with correlative myths of the Old World, their true character soon
becomes apparent.

One of the most widely famous of these culture-heroes was Manabozho or
Michabo, the Great Hare. With entire unanimity, says Dr. Brinton, the
various branches of the Algonquin race, "the Powhatans of Virginia, the
Lenni Lenape of the Delaware, the warlike hordes of New England, the
Ottawas of the far North, and the Western tribes, perhaps without
exception, spoke of this chimerical beast,' as one of the old
missionaries calls it, as their common ancestor. The totem, or clan,
which bore his name was looked up to with peculiar respect." Not only
was Michabo the ruler and guardian of these numerous tribes,--he was the
founder of their religious rites, the inventor of picture-writing, the
ruler of the weather, the creator and preserver of earth and heaven.
"From a grain of sand brought from the bottom of the primeval ocean he
fashioned the habitable land, and set it floating on the waters till it
grew to such a size that a strong young wolf, running constantly, died
of old age ere he reached its limits." He was also, like Nimrod, a
mighty hunter. "One of his footsteps measured eight leagues, the Great
Lakes were the beaver-dams he built, and when the cataracts impeded his
progress he tore them away with his hands." "Sometimes he was said
to dwell in the skies with his brother, the Snow, or, like many great
spirits, to have built his wigwam in the far North on some floe of ice
in the Arctic Ocean..... But in the oldest accounts of the missionaries
he was alleged to reside toward the East; and in the holy formulae of
the meda craft, when the winds are invoked to the medicine lodge, the
East is summoned in his name, the door opens in that direction, and
there, at the edge of the earth where the sun rises, on the shore of the
infinite ocean that surrounds the land, he has his house, and sends the
luminaries forth on their daily journeys." [134] From such accounts as
this we see that Michabo was no more a wise instructor and legislator
than Minos or Kadmos. Like these heroes, he is a personification of the
solar life-giving power, which daily comes forth from its home in the
east, making the earth to rejoice. The etymology of his name confirms
the otherwise clear indications of the legend itself. It is compounded
of michi, "great," and wabos, which means alike "hare" and "white."
"Dialectic forms in Algonquin for white are wabi, wape, wampi, etc.; for
morning, wapan, wapanch, opah; for east, wapa, wanbun, etc.; for day,
wompan, oppan; for light, oppung." So that Michabo is the Great White
One, the God of the Dawn and the East. And the etymological confusion,
by virtue of which he acquired his soubriquet of the Great Hare, affords
a curious parallel to what has often happened in Aryan and Semitic
mythology, as we saw when discussing the subject of werewolves.

Keeping in mind this solar character of Michabo, let us note how full
of meaning are the myths concerning him. In the first cycle of these
legends, "he is grandson of the Moon, his father is the West Wind,
and his mother, a maiden, dies in giving him birth at the moment of
conception. For the Moon is the goddess of night; the Dawn is her
daughter, who brings forth the Morning, and perishes herself in the act;
and the West, the spirit of darkness, as the East is of light, precedes,
and as it were begets the latter, as the evening does the morning.
Straightway, however, continues the legend, the son sought the unnatural
father to revenge the death of his mother, and then commenced a long and
desperate struggle. It began on the mountains. The West was forced to
give ground. Manabozho drove him across rivers and over mountains and
lakes, and at last he came to the brink of this world. 'Hold,' cried he,
'my son, you know my power, and that it is impossible to kill me.' What
is this but the diurnal combat of light and darkness, carried on from
what time 'the jocund morn stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops,'
across the wide world to the sunset, the struggle that knows no end, for
both the opponents are immortal?" [135]

Even the Veda nowhere affords a more transparent narrative than this.
The Iroquois tradition is very similar. In it appear twin brothers,
[136] born of a virgin mother, daughter of the Moon, who died in giving
them life. Their names, Ioskeha and Tawiskara, signify in the Oneida
dialect the White One and the Dark One. Under the influence of Christian
ideas the contest between the brothers has been made to assume a moral
character, like the strife between Ormuzd and Ahriman. But no such
intention appears in the original myth, and Dr. Brinton has shown that
none of the American tribes had any conception of a Devil. When the
quarrel came to blows, the dark brother was signally discomfited; and
the victorious Ioskeha, returning to his grandmother, "established his
lodge in the far East, on the horders of the Great Ocean, whence the sun
comes. In time he became the father of mankind, and special guardian of
the Iroquois." He caused the earth to bring forth, he stocked the woods
with game, and taught his children the use of fire. "He it was who
watched and watered their crops; 'and, indeed, without his aid,' says
the old missionary, quite out of patience with their puerilities,
'they think they could not boil a pot.'" There was more in it than poor
Brebouf thought, as we are forcibly reminded by recent discoveries in
physical science. Even civilized men would find it difficult to boil a
pot without the aid of solar energy. Call him what we will,--Ioskeha,
Michabo, or Phoibos,--the beneficent Sun is the master and sustainer
of us all; and if we were to relapse into heathenism, like
Erckmann-Chatrian's innkeeper, we could not do better than to select him
as our chief object of worship.

The same principles by which these simple cases are explained furnish
also the key to the more complicated mythology of Mexico and Peru. Like
the deities just discussed, Viracocha, the supreme god of the Quichuas,
rises from the bosom of Lake Titicaca and journeys westward, slaying
with his lightnings the creatures who oppose him, until he finally
disappears in the Western Ocean. Like Aphrodite, he bears in his name
the evidence of his origin, Viracocha signifying "foam of the sea"; and
hence the "White One" (l'aube), the god of light rising white on the
horizon, like the foam on the surface of the waves. The Aymaras spoke
of their original ancestors as white; and to this day, as Dr. Brinton
informs us, the Peruvians call a white man Viracocha. The myth of
Quetzalcoatl is of precisely the same character. All these solar heroes
present in most of their qualities and achievements a striking likeness
to those of the Old World. They combine the attributes of Apollo,
Herakles, and Hermes. Like Herakles, they journey from east to west,
smiting the powers of darkness, storm, and winter with the thunderbolts
of Zeus or the unerring arrows of Phoibos, and sinking in a blaze
of glory on the western verge of the world, where the waves meet the
firmament. Or like Hermes, in a second cycle of legends, they rise with
the soft breezes of a summer morning, driving before them the bright
celestial cattle whose udders are heavy with refreshing rain, fanning
the flames which devour the forests, blustering at the doors of wigwams,
and escaping with weird laughter through vents and crevices. The white
skins and flowing beards of these American heroes may be aptly compared
to the fair faces and long golden locks of their Hellenic compeers.
Yellow hair was in all probability as rare in Greece as a full beard
in Peru or Mexico; but in each case the description suits the solar
character of the hero. One important class of incidents, however is
apparently quite absent from the American legends. We frequently see the
Dawn described as a virgin mother who dies in giving birth to the Day;
but nowhere do we remember seeing her pictured as a lovely or valiant or
crafty maiden, ardently wooed, but speedily forsaken by her solar lover.
Perhaps in no respect is the superior richness and beauty of the Aryan
myths more manifest than in this. Brynhild, Urvasi, Medeia, Ariadne,
Oinone, and countless other kindred heroines, with their brilliant
legends, could not be spared from the mythology of our ancestors
without, leaving it meagre indeed. These were the materials which
Kalidasa, the Attic dramatists, and the bards of the Nibelungen found
ready, awaiting their artistic treatment. But the mythology of the New
World, with all its pretty and agreeable naivete, affords hardly enough,
either of variety in situation or of complexity in motive, for a grand
epic or a genuine tragedy.

But little reflection is needed to assure us that the imagination of the
barbarian, who either carries away his wife by brute force or buys her
from her relatives as he would buy a cow, could never have originated
legends in which maidens are lovingly solicited, or in which their
favour is won by the performance of deeds of valour. These stories
owe their existence to the romantic turn of mind which has always
characterized the Aryan, whose civilization, even in the times before
the dispersion of his race, was sufficiently advanced to allow of his
entertaining such comparatively exalted conceptions of the relations
between men and women. The absence of these myths from barbaric
folk-lore is, therefore, just what might be expected; but it is a fact
which militates against any possible hypothesis of the common origin
of Aryan and barbaric mythology. If there were any genetic relationship
between Sigurd and Ioskeha, between Herakles and Michabo, it would be
hard to tell why Brynhild and Iole should have disappeared entirely
from one whole group of legends, while retained, in some form or
other, throughout the whole of the other group. On the other hand, the
resemblances above noticed between Aryan and American mythology fall
very far short of the resemblances between the stories told in different
parts of the Aryan domain. No barbaric legend, of genuine barbaric
growth, has yet been cited which resembles any Aryan legend as the story
of Punchkin resembles the story of the Heartless Giant. The myths
of Michabo and Viracocha are direct copies, so to speak, of natural
phenomena, just as imitative words are direct copies of natural sounds.
Neither the Redskin nor the Indo-European had any choice as to the main
features of the career of his solar divinity. He must be born of the
Night,--or of the Dawn,--must travel westward, must slay harassing
demons. Eliminating these points of likeness, the resemblance between
the Aryan and barbaric legends is at once at an end. Such an identity
in point of details as that between the wooden horse which enters
Ilion, and the horse which bears Sigurd into the place where Brynhild
is imprisoned, and the Druidic steed which leaps with Sculloge over the
walls of Fiach's enchanted castle, is, I believe, nowhere to be found
after we leave Indo-European territory.

Our conclusion, therefore, must be, that while the legends of the Aryan
and the non-Aryan worlds contain common mythical elements, the legends
themselves are not of common origin. The fact that certain mythical
ideas are possessed alike by different races, shows that in each case
a similar human intelligence has been at work explaining similar
phenomena; but in order to prove a family relationship between the
culture of these different races, we need something more than this.
We need to prove not only a community of mythical ideas, but also a
community between the stories based upon these ideas. We must show not
only that Michabo is like Herakles in those striking features which
the contemplation of solar phenomena would necessarily suggest to
the imagination of the primitive myth-maker, but also that the two
characters are similarly conceived, and that the two careers agree in
seemingly arbitrary points of detail, as is the case in the stories of
Punchkin and the Heartless Giant. The mere fact that solar heroes, all
over the world, travel in a certain path and slay imps of darkness is of
great value as throwing light upon primeval habits of thought, but it
is of no value as evidence for or against an alleged community of
civilization between different races. The same is true of the sacredness
universally attached to certain numbers. Dr. Blinton's opinion that the
sanctity of the number four in nearly all systems of mythology is due to
a primitive worship of the cardinal points, becomes very probable
when we recollect that the similar pre-eminence of seven is almost
demonstrably connected with the adoration of the sun, moon, and
five visible planets, which has left its record in the structure and
nomenclature of the Aryan and Semitic week. [137]

In view of these considerations, the comparison of barbaric myths
with each other and with the legends of the Aryan world becomes doubly
interesting, as illustrating the similarity in the workings of the
untrained intelligence the world over. In our first paper we saw how
the moon-spots have been variously explained by Indo-Europeans, as a
man with a thorn-bush or as two children bearing a bucket of water on a
pole. In Ceylon it is said that as Sakyamuni was one day wandering half
starved in the forest, a pious hare met him, and offered itself to him
to be slain and cooked for dinner; whereupon the holy Buddha set it on
high in the moon, that future generations of men might see it and marvel
at its piety. In the Samoan Islands these dark patches are supposed
to be portions of a woman's figure. A certain woman was once hammering
something with a mallet, when the moon arose, looking so much like a
bread-fruit that the woman asked it to come down and let her child
eat off a piece of it; but the moon, enraged at the insult, gobbled up
woman, mallet, and child, and there, in the moon's belly, you may still
behold them. According to the Hottentots, the Moon once sent the Hare to
inform men that as she died away and rose again, so should men die
and again come to life. But the stupid Hare forgot the purport of the
message, and, coming down to the earth, proclaimed it far and wide that
though the Moon was invariably resuscitated whenever she died, mankind,
on the other hand, should die and go to the Devil. When the silly brute
returned to the lunar country and told what he had done, the Moon was so
angry that she took up an axe and aimed a blow at his head to split it.
But the axe missed and only cut his lip open; and that was the origin
of the "hare-lip." Maddened by the pain and the insult, the Hare flew at
the Moon and almost scratched her eyes out; and to this day she bears on
her face the marks of the Hare's claws. [138]

Again, every reader of the classics knows how Selene cast Endymion into
a profound slumber because he refused her love, and how at sundown she
used to come and stand above him on the Latmian hill, and watch him as
he lay asleep on the marble steps of a temple half hidden among drooping
elm-trees, over which clambered vines heavy with dark blue grapes. This
represents the rising moon looking down on the setting sun; in Labrador
a similar phenomenon has suggested a somewhat different story. Among
the Esquimaux the Sun is a maiden and the Moon is her brother, who
is overcome by a wicked passion for her. Once, as this girl was at a
dancing-party in a friend's hut, some one came up and took hold of her
by the shoulders and shook her, which is (according to the legend) the
Esquimaux manner of declaring one's love. She could not tell who it was
in the dark, and so she dipped her hand in some soot and smeared one of
his cheeks with it. When a light was struck in the hut, she saw, to her
dismay, that it was her brother, and, without waiting to learn any more,
she took to her heels. He started in hot pursuit, and so they ran till
they got to the end of the world,--the jumping-off place,--when they
both jumped into the sky. There the Moon still chases his sister, the
Sun; and every now and then he turns his sooty cheek toward the earth,
when he becomes so dark that you cannot see him. [139]

Another story, which I cite from Mr. Tylor, shows that Malays, as well
as Indo-Europeans, have conceived of the clouds as swan-maidens. In the
island of Celebes it is said that "seven heavenly nymphs came down from
the sky to bathe, and they were seen by Kasimbaha, who thought first
that they were white doves, but in the bath he saw that they were women.
Then he stole one of the thin robes that gave the nymphs their power of
flying, and so he caught Utahagi, the one whose robe he had stolen,
and took her for his wife, and she bore him a son. Now she was called
Utahagi from a single white hair she had, which was endowed with magic
power, and this hair her husband pulled out. As soon as he had done
it, there arose a great storm, and Utahagi went up to heaven. The child
cried for its mother, and Kasimbaha was in great grief, and cast about
how he should follow Utahagi up into the sky." Here we pass to the myth
of Jack and the Beanstalk. "A rat gnawed the thorns off the rattans, and
Kasimbaha clambered up by them with his son upon his back, till he came
to heaven. There a little bird showed him the house of Utahagi, and
after various adventures he took up his abode among the gods." [140]

In Siberia we find a legend of swan-maidens, which also reminds us of
the story of the Heartless Giant. A certain Samojed once went out to
catch foxes, and found seven maidens swimming in a lake surrounded by
gloomy pine-trees, while their feather dresses lay on the shore. He
crept up and stole one of these dresses, and by and by the swan-maiden
came to him shivering with cold and promising to become his wife if he
would only give her back her garment of feathers. The ungallant fellow,
however, did not care for a wife, but a little revenge was not unsuited
to his way of thinking. There were seven robbers who used to prowl about
the neighbourhood, and who, when they got home, finding their hearts
in the way, used to hang them up on some pegs in the tent. One of these
robbers had killed the Samojed's mother; and so he promised to return
the swan-maiden's dress after she should have procured for him these
seven hearts. So she stole the hearts, and the Samojed smashed six of
them, and then woke up the seventh robber, and told him to restore his
mother to life, on pain of instant death, Then the robber produced a
purse containing the old woman's soul, and going to the graveyard shook
it over her bones, and she revived at once. Then the Samojed smashed the
seventh heart, and the robber died; and so the swan-maiden got back her
plumage and flew away rejoicing. [141]

Swan-maidens are also, according to Mr. Baring-Gould, found among the
Minussinian Tartars. But there they appear as foul demons, like the
Greek Harpies, who delight in drinking the blood of men slain in battle.
There are forty of them, who darken the whole firmament in their flight;
but sometimes they all coalesce into one great black storm-fiend, who
rages for blood, like a werewolf.

In South Africa we find the werewolf himself. [142] A certain Hottentot
was once travelling with a Bushwoman and her child, when they perceived
at a distance a troop of wild horses. The man, being hungry, asked the
woman to turn herself into a lioness and catch one of these horses, that
they might eat of it; whereupon the woman set down her child, and taking
off a sort of petticoat made of human skin became instantly transformed
into a lioness, which rushed across the plain, struck down a wild horse
and lapped its blood. The man climbed a tree in terror, and conjured his
companion to resume her natural shape. Then the lioness came back, and
putting on the skirt made of human skin reappeared as a woman, and took
up her child, and the two friends resumed their journey after making a
meal of the horse's flesh. [143]

The werewolf also appears in North America, duly furnished with his
wolf-skin sack; but neither in America nor in Africa is he the genuine
European werewolf, inspired by a diabolic frenzy, and ravening for human
flesh. The barbaric myths testify to the belief that men can be changed
into beasts or have in some cases descended from beast ancestors, but
the application of this belief to the explanation of abnormal cannibal
cravings seems to have been confined to Europe. The werewolf of
the Middle Ages was not merely a transformed man,--he was an insane
cannibal, whose monstrous appetite, due to the machinations of the
Devil, showed its power over his physical organism by changing the shape
of it. The barbaric werewolf is the product of a lower and simpler kind
of thinking. There is no diabolism about him; for barbaric races, while
believing in the existence of hurtful and malicious fiends, have not a
sufficiently vivid sense of moral abnormity to form the conception of
diabolism. And the cannibal craving, which to the mediaeval European was
a phenomenon so strange as to demand a mythological explanation,
would not impress the barbarian as either very exceptional or very

In the folk-lore of the Zulus, one of the most quick-witted and
intelligent of African races, the cannibal possesses many features in
common with the Scandinavian Troll, who also has a liking for human
flesh. As we saw in the preceding paper, the Troll has very likely
derived some of his characteristics from reminiscences of the barbarous
races who preceded the Aryans in Central and Northern Europe. In like
manner the long-haired cannibal of Zulu nursery literature, who is
always represented as belonging to a distinct race, has been supposed to
be explained by the existence of inferior races conquered and displaced
by the Zulus. Nevertheless, as Dr. Callaway observes, neither the
long-haired mountain cannibals of Western Africa, nor the Fulahs,
nor the tribes of Eghedal described by Barth, "can be considered as
answering to the description of long-haired as given in the Zulu legends
of cannibals; neither could they possibly have formed their historical
basis..... It is perfectly clear that the cannibals of the Zulu legends
are not common men; they are magnified into giants and magicians; they
are remarkably swift and enduring; fierce and terrible warriors." Very
probably they may have a mythical origin in modes of thought akin to
those which begot the Panis of the Veda and the Northern Trolls. The
parallelism is perhaps the most remarkable one which can be found in
comparing barbaric with Aryan folk-lore. Like the Panis and Trolls, the
cannibals are represented as the foes of the solar hero Uthlakanyana,
who is almost as great a traveller as Odysseus, and whose presence of
mind amid trying circumstances is not to be surpassed by that of the
incomparable Boots. Uthlakanyana is as precocious as Herakles or Hermes.
He speaks before he is born, and no sooner has he entered the world than
he begins to outwit other people and get possession of their property.
He works bitter ruin for the cannibals, who, with all their strength and
fleetness, are no better endowed with quick wit than the Trolls, whom
Boots invariably victimizes. On one of his journeys, Uthlakanyana fell
in with a cannibal. Their greetings were cordial enough, and they ate a
bit of leopard together, and began to build a house, and killed a couple
of cows, but the cannibal's cow was lean, while Uthlakanyana's was fat.
Then the crafty traveller, fearing that his companion might insist upon
having the fat cow, turned and said, "'Let the house be thatched now
then we can eat our meat. You see the sky, that we shall get wet.' The
cannibal said, 'You are right, child of my sister; you are a man indeed
in saying, let us thatch the house, for we shall get wet.'
Uthlakanyana said, 'Do you do it then; I will go inside, and push the
thatching-needle for you, in the house.' The cannibal went up. His hair
was very, very long. Uthlakanyana went inside and pushed the needle for
him. He thatched in the hair of the cannibal, tying it very tightly; he
knotted it into the thatch constantly, taking it by separate locks and
fastening it firmly, that it might be tightly fastened to the house."
Then the rogue went outside and began to eat of the cow which was
roasted. "The cannibal said, 'What are you about, child of my sister?
Let us just finish the house; afterwards we can do that; we will do it
together.' Uthlakanyana replied, 'Come down then. I cannot go into the
house any more. The thatching is finished.' The cannibal assented. When
he thought he was going to quit the house, he was unable to quit it.
He cried out saying, 'Child of my sister, how have you managed your
thatching?' Uthlakanyana said, 'See to it yourself. I have thatched
well, for I shall not have any dispute. Now I am about to eat in peace;
I no longer dispute with anybody, for I am now alone with my cow.'"
So the cannibal cried and raved and appealed in vain to Uthlakanyana's
sense of justice, until by and by "the sky came with hailstones and
lightning Uthlakanyana took all the meat into the house; he stayed in
the house and lit a fire. It hailed and rained. The cannibal cried on
the top of the house; he was struck with the hailstones, and died there
on the house. It cleared. Uthlakanyana went out and said, 'Uncle, just
come down, and come to me. It has become clear. It no longer rains, and
there is no more hail, neither is there any more lightning. Why are you
silent?' So Uthlakanyana ate his cow alone, until he had finished it. He
then went on his way." [144]

In another Zulu legend, a girl is stolen by cannibals, and shut up
in the rock Itshe-likantunjambili, which, like the rock of the Forty
Thieves, opens and shuts at the command of those who understand its
secret. She gets possession of the secret and escapes, and when the
monsters pursue her she throws on the ground a calabash full of sesame,
which they stop to eat. At last, getting tired of running, she climbs a
tree, and there she finds her brother, who, warned by a dream, has come
out to look for her. They ascend the tree together until they come to a
beautiful country well stocked with fat oxen. They kill an ox, and while
its flesh is roasting they amuse themselves by making a stout thong of
its hide. By and by one of the cannibals, smelling the cooking meat,
comes to the foot of the tree, and looking up discovers the boy and girl
in the sky-country! They invite him up there; to share in their feast,
and throw him an end of the thong by which to climb up. When the
cannibal is dangling midway between earth and heaven, they let go the
rope, and down he falls with a terrible crash. [145]

In this story the enchanted rock opened by a talismanic formula brings
us again into contact with Indo-European folk-lore. And that the
conception has in both cases been suggested by the same natural
phenomenon is rendered probable by another Zulu tale, in which the
cannibal's cave is opened by a swallow which flies in the air. Here we
have the elements of a genuine lightning-myth. We see that among these
African barbarians, as well as among our own forefathers, the clouds
have been conceived as birds carrying the lightning which can cleave
the rocks. In America we find the same notion prevalent. The Dakotahs
explain the thunder as "the sound of the cloud-bird flapping his wings,"
and the Caribs describe the lightning as a poisoned dart which the bird
blows through a hollow reed, after the Carib style of shooting. [146]
On the other hand, the Kamtchatkans know nothing of a cloud-bird, but
explain the lightning as something analogous to the flames of a volcano.
The Kamtchatkans say that when the mountain goblins have got their
stoves well heated up, they throw overboard, with true barbaric
shiftlessness, all the brands not needed for immediate use, which makes
a volcanic eruption. So when it is summer on earth, it is winter in
heaven; and the gods, after heating up their stoves, throw away their
spare kindlingwood, which makes the lightning. [147]

When treating of Indo-European solar myths, we saw the unvarying,
unresting course of the sun variously explained as due to the subjection
of Herakles to Eurystheus, to the anger of Poseidon at Odysseus, or to
the curse laid upon the Wandering Jew. The barbaric mind has worked
at the same problem; but the explanations which it has given are more
childlike and more grotesque. A Polynesian myth tells how the Sun used
to race through the sky so fast that men could not get enough daylight
to hunt game for their subsistence. By and by an inventive genius, named
Maui, conceived the idea of catching the Sun in a noose and making
him go more deliberately. He plaited ropes and made a strong net, and,
arming himself with the jawbone of his ancestress, Muri-ranga-whenua,
called together all his brethren, and they journeyed to the place where
the Sun rises, and there spread the net. When the Sun came up, he stuck
his head and fore-paws into the net, and while the brothers tightened
the ropes so that they cut him and made him scream for mercy, Maui beat
him with the jawbone until he became so weak that ever since he has
only been able to crawl through the sky. According to another Polynesian
myth, there was once a grumbling Radical, who never could be satisfied
with the way in which things are managed on this earth. This bold
Radical set out to build a stone house which should last forever; but
the days were so short and the stones so heavy that he despaired of
ever accomplishing his project. One night, as he lay awake thinking the
matter over, it occurred to him that if he could catch the Sun in a net,
he could have as much daylight as was needful in order to finish his
house. So he borrowed a noose from the god Itu, and, it being autumn,
when the Sun gets sleepy and stupid, he easily caught the luminary. The
Sun cried till his tears made a great freshet which nearly drowned the
island; but it was of no use; there he is tethered to this day.

Similar stories are met with in North America. A Dog-Rib Indian once
chased a squirrel up a tree until he reached the sky. There he set a
snare for the squirrel and climbed down again. Next day the Sun was
caught in the snare, and night came on at once. That is to say, the sun
was eclipsed. "Something wrong up there," thought the Indian, "I must
have caught the Sun"; and so he sent up ever so many animals to release
the captive. They were all burned to ashes, but at last the mole, going
up and burrowing out through the GROUND OF THE SKY, (!) succeeded in
gnawing asunder the cords of the snare. Just as it thrust its head out
through the opening made in the sky-ground, it received a flash of light
which put its eyes out, and that is why the mole is blind. The Sun got
away, but has ever since travelled more deliberately. [148]

These sun-myths, many more of which are to be found collected in Mr.
Tylor's excellent treatise on "The Early History of Mankind," well
illustrate both the similarity and the diversity of the results obtained
by the primitive mind, in different times and countries, when engaged
upon similar problems. No one would think of referring these stories to
a common traditional origin with the myths of Herakles and Odysseus; yet
both classes of tales were devised to explain the same phenomenon. Both
to the Aryan and to the Polynesian the steadfast but deliberate journey
of the sun through the firmament was a strange circumstance which called
for explanation; but while the meagre intelligence of the barbarian
could only attain to the quaint conception of a man throwing a noose
over the sun's head, the rich imagination of the Indo-European created
the noble picture of Herakles doomed to serve the son of Sthenelos, in
accordance with the resistless decree of fate.

Another world-wide myth, which shows how similar are the mental habits
of uncivilized men, is the myth of the tortoise. The Hindu notion of a
great tortoise that lies beneath the earth and keeps it from falling
is familiar to every reader. According to one account, this tortoise,
swimming in the primeval ocean, bears the earth on his back; but by and
by, when the gods get ready to destroy mankind, the tortoise will grow
weary and sink under his load, and then the earth will be overwhelmed
by a deluge. Another legend tells us that when the gods and demons
took Mount Mandara for a churning-stick and churned the ocean to make
ambrosia, the god Vishnu took on the form of a tortoise and lay at the
bottom of the sea, as a pivot for the whirling mountain to rest upon.
But these versions of the myth are not primitive. In the original
conception the world is itself a gigantic tortoise swimming in a
boundless ocean; the flat surface of the earth is the lower plate which
covers the reptile's belly; the rounded shell which covers his back is
the sky; and the human race lives and moves and has its being inside of
the tortoise. Now, as Mr. Tylor has pointed out, many tribes of Redskins
hold substantially the same theory of the universe. They regard the
tortoise as the symbol of the world, and address it as the mother of
mankind. Once, before the earth was made, the king of heaven quarrelled
with his wife, and gave her such a terrible kick that she fell down into
the sea. Fortunately a tortoise received her on his back, and proceeded
to raise up the earth, upon which the heavenly woman became the mother
of mankind. These first men had white faces, and they used to dig in the
ground to catch badgers. One day a zealous burrower thrust his knife too
far and stabbed the tortoise, which immediately sank into the sea and
drowned all the human race save one man. [149] In Finnish mythology the
world is not a tortoise, but it is an egg, of which the white part is
the ocean, the yolk is the earth, and the arched shell is the sky. In
India this is the mundane egg of Brahma; and it reappears among the
Yorubas as a pair of calabashes put together like oyster-shells, one
making a dome over the other. In Zulu-land the earth is a huge beast
called Usilosimapundu, whose face is a rock, and whose mouth is very
large and broad and red: "in some countries which were on his body it
was winter, and in others it was early harvest." Many broad rivers flow
over his back, and he is covered with forests and hills, as is indicated
in his name, which means "the rugose or knotty-backed beast." In this
group of conceptions may be seen the origin of Sindbad's great fish,
which lay still so long that sand and clay gradually accumulated upon
its back, and at last it became covered with trees. And lastly, passing
from barbaric folk-lore and from the Arabian Nights to the highest level
of Indo-European intelligence, do we not find both Plato and Kepler
amusing themselves with speculations in which the earth figures as a
stupendous animal?


TWELVE years ago, when, in concluding his "Studies on Homer and the
Homeric Age," Mr. Gladstone applied to himself the warning addressed by
Agamemnon to the priest of Apollo,

     "Let not Nemesis catch me by the swift ships."

he would seem to have intended it as a last farewell to classical
studies. Yet, whatever his intentions may have been, they have yielded
to the sweet desire of revisiting familiar ground,--a desire as strong
in the breast of the classical scholar as was the yearning which led
Odysseus to reject the proffered gift of immortality, so that he might
but once more behold the wreathed smoke curling about the roofs of his
native Ithaka. In this new treatise, on the "Youth of the World," Mr.
Gladstone discusses the same questions which were treated in his earlier
work; and the main conclusions reached in the "Studies on Homer"
are here so little modified with reference to the recent progress of
archaeological inquiries, that the book can hardly be said to have had
any other reason for appearing, save the desire of loitering by the
ships of the Argives, and of returning thither as often as possible.

The title selected by Mr. Gladstone for his new work is either a very
appropriate one or a strange misnomer, according to the point of
view from which it is regarded. Such being the case, we might readily
acquiesce in its use, and pass it by without comment, trusting that
the author understood himself when he adopted it, were it not that by
incidental references, and especially by his allusions to the legendary
literature of the Jews, Mr. Gladstone shows that he means more by the
title than it can fairly be made to express. An author who seeks to
determine prehistoric events by references to Kadmos, and Danaos, and
Abraham, is at once liable to the suspicion of holding very inadequate
views as to the character of the epoch which may properly be termed the
"youth of the world." Often in reading Mr. Gladstone we are reminded
of Renan's strange suggestion that an exploration of the Hindu Kush
territory, whence probably came the primitive Aryans, might throw some
new light on the origin of language. Nothing could well be more futile.
The primitive Aryan language has already been partly reconstructed for
us; its grammatical forms and syntactic devices are becoming familiar to
scholars; one great philologist has even composed a tale in it; yet
in studying this long-buried dialect we are not much nearer the first
beginnings of human speech than in studying the Greek of Homer, the
Sanskrit of the Vedas, or the Umbrian of the Igovine Inscriptions. The
Aryan mother-tongue had passed into the last of the three stages of
linguistic growth long before the break-up of the tribal communities
in Aryana-vaedjo, and at that early date presented a less primitive
structure than is to be seen in the Chinese or the Mongolian of our own
times. So the state of society depicted in the Homeric poems, and well
illustrated by Mr. Gladstone, is many degrees less primitive than that
which is revealed to us by the archaeological researches either of
Pictet and Windischmann, or of Tylor, Lubbock, and M'Lennan. We shall
gather evidences of this as we proceed. Meanwhile let us remember that
at least eleven thousand years before the Homeric age men lived in
communities, and manufactured pottery on the banks of the Nile; and let
us not leave wholly out of sight that more distant period, perhaps a
million years ago, when sparse tribes of savage men, contemporaneous
with the mammoths of Siberia and the cave-tigers of Britain, struggled
against the intense cold of the glacial winters.

Nevertheless, though the Homeric age appears to be a late one when
considered with reference to the whole career of the human race, there
is a point of view from which it may be justly regarded as the "youth of
the world." However long man may have existed upon the earth, he becomes
thoroughly and distinctly human in the eyes of the historian only at the
epoch at which he began to create for himself a literature. As far back
as we can trace the progress of the human race continuously by means of
the written word, so far do we feel a true historical interest in its
fortunes, and pursue our studies with a sympathy which the mere lapse of
time is powerless to impair. But the primeval man, whose history never
has been and never will be written, whose career on the earth, dateless
and chartless, can be dimly revealed to us only by palaeontology,
excites in us a very different feeling. Though with the keenest interest
we ransack every nook and corner of the earth's surface for information
about him, we are all the while aware that what we are studying is
human zoology and not history. Our Neanderthal man is a specimen, not a
character. We cannot ask him the Homeric question, what is his name, who
were his parents, and how did he get where we found him. His language
has died with him, and he can render no account of himself. We can only
regard him specifically as Homo Anthropos, a creature of bigger brain
than his congener Homo Pithekos, and of vastly greater promise. But
this, we say, is physical science, and not history.

For the historian, therefore, who studies man in his various social
relations, the youth of the world is the period at which literature
begins. We regard the history of the western world as beginning about
the tenth century before the Christian era, because at that date we find
literature, in Greece and Palestine, beginning to throw direct light
upon the social and intellectual condition of a portion of mankind.
That great empires, rich in historical interest and in materials for
sociological generalizations, had existed for centuries before that
date, in Egypt and Assyria, we do not doubt, since they appear at the
dawn of history with all the marks of great antiquity; but the only
steady historical light thrown upon them shines from the pages of Greek
and Hebrew authors, and these know them only in their latest period. For
information concerning their early careers we must look, not to history,
but to linguistic archaeology, a science which can help us to general
results, but cannot enable us to fix dates, save in the crudest manner.

We mention the tenth century before Christ as the earliest period at
which we can begin to study human society in general and Greek society
in particular, through the medium of literature. But, strictly speaking,
the epoch in question is one which cannot be fixed with accuracy. The
earliest ascertainable date in Greek history is that of the Olympiad
of Koroibos, B. C. 776. There is no doubt that the Homeric poems
were written before this date, and that Homer is therefore strictly
prehistoric. Had this fact been duly realized by those scholars who have
not attempted to deny it, a vast amount of profitless discussion might
have been avoided. Sooner or later, as Grote says, "the lesson must
be learnt, hard and painful though it be, that no imaginable reach of
critical acumen will of itself enable us to discriminate fancy from
reality, in the absence of a tolerable stock of evidence." We do not
know who Homer was; we do not know where or when he lived; and in all
probability we shall never know. The data for settling the question
are not now accessible, and it is not likely that they will ever be
discovered. Even in early antiquity the question was wrapped in an
obscurity as deep as that which shrouds it to-day. The case between the
seven or eight cities which claimed to be the birthplace of the
poet, and which Welcker has so ably discussed, cannot be decided. The
feebleness of the evidence brought into court may be judged from the
fact that the claims of Chios and the story of the poet's blindness rest
alike upon a doubtful allusion in the Hymn to Apollo, which Thukydides
(III. 104) accepted as authentic. The majority of modern critics have
consoled themselves with the vague conclusion that, as between the two
great divisions of the early Greek world, Homer at least belonged to
the Asiatic. But Mr. Gladstone has shown good reasons for doubting this
opinion. He has pointed out several instances in which the poems seem
to betray a closer topographical acquaintance with European than with
Asiatic Greece, and concludes that Athens and Argos have at least as
good a claim to Homer as Chios or Smyrna.

It is far more desirable that we should form an approximate opinion as
to the date of the Homeric poems, than that we should seek to determine
the exact locality in which they originated. Yet the one question is
hardly less obscure than the other. Different writers of antiquity
assigned eight different epochs to Homer, of which the earliest is
separated from the most recent by an interval of four hundred and sixty
years,--a period as long as that which separates the Black Prince from
the Duke of Wellington, or the age of Perikles from the Christian era.
While Theopompos quite preposterously brings him down as late as the
twenty-third Olympiad, Krates removes him to the twelfth century B. C.
The date ordinarily accepted by modern critics is the one assigned by
Herodotos, 880 B. C. Yet Mr. Gladstone shows reasons, which appear to me
convincing, for doubting or rejecting this date.

I refer to the much-abused legend of the Children of Herakles, which
seems capable of yielding an item of trustworthy testimony, provided
it be circumspectly dealt with. I differ from Mr. Gladstone in
not regarding the legend as historical in its present shape. In my
apprehension, Hyllos and Oxylos, as historical personages, have no value
whatever; and I faithfully follow Mr. Grote, in refusing to accept any
date earlier than the Olympiad of Koroibos. The tale of the "Return of
the Herakleids" is undoubtedly as unworthy of credit as the legend
of Hengst and Horsa; yet, like the latter, it doubtless embodies
a historical occurrence. One cannot approve, as scholarlike or
philosophical, the scepticism of Mr. Cox, who can see in the whole
narrative nothing but a solar myth. There certainly was a time when the
Dorian tribes--described in the legend as the allies of the Children of
Herakles--conquered Peloponnesos; and that time was certainly subsequent
to the composition of the Homeric poems. It is incredible that the Iliad
and the Odyssey should ignore the existence of Dorians in Peloponnesos,
if there were Dorians not only dwelling but ruling there at the time
when the poems were written. The poems are very accurate and rigorously
consistent in their use of ethnical appellatives; and their author, in
speaking of Achaians and Argives, is as evidently alluding to peoples
directly known to him, as is Shakespeare when he mentions Danes and
Scotchmen. Now Homer knows Achaians, Argives, and Pelasgians dwelling in
Peloponnesos; and he knows Dorians also, but only as a people inhabiting
Crete. (Odyss. XIX. 175.) With Homer, moreover, the Hellenes are not the
Greeks in general but only a people dwelling in the north, in Thessaly.
When these poems were written, Greece was not known as Hellas, but
as Achaia,--the whole country taking its name from the Achaians,
the dominant race in Peloponnesos. Now at the beginning of the truly
historical period, in the eighth century B. C., all this is changed.
The Greeks as a people are called Hellenes; the Dorians rule in
Peloponnesos, while their lands are tilled by Argive Helots; and the
Achaians appear only as an insignificant people occupying the southern
shore of the Corinthian Gulf. How this change took place we cannot tell.
The explanation of it can never be obtained from history, though some
light may perhaps be thrown upon it by linguistic archaeology. But at
all events it was a great change, and could not have taken place in a
moment. It is fair to suppose that the Helleno-Dorian conquest must have
begun at least a century before the first Olympiad; for otherwise the
geographical limits of the various Greek races would not have been so
completely established as we find them to have been at that date. The
Greeks, indeed, supposed it to have begun at least three centuries
earlier, but it is impossible to collect evidence which will either
refute or establish that opinion. For our purposes it is enough to know
that the conquest could not have taken place later than 900 B. C.; and
if this be the case, the MINIMUM DATE for the composition of the Homeric
poems must be the tenth century before Christ; which is, in fact, the
date assigned by Aristotle. Thus far, and no farther, I believe it
possible to go with safety. Whether the poems were composed in the
tenth, eleventh, or twelfth century cannot be determined. We
are justified only in placing them far enough back to allow the
Helleno-Dorian conquest to intervene between their composition and the
beginning of recorded history. The tenth century B. C. is the latest
date which will account for all the phenomena involved in the case, and
with this result we must be satisfied. Even on this showing, the Iliad
and Odyssey appear as the oldest existing specimens of Aryan literature,
save perhaps the hymns of the Rig-Veda and the sacred books of the

The apparent difficulty of preserving such long poems for three or four
centuries without the aid of writing may seem at first sight to justify
the hypothesis of Wolf, that they are mere collections of ancient
ballads, like those which make up the Mahabharata, preserved in the
memories of a dozen or twenty bards, and first arranged under the orders
of Peisistratos. But on a careful examination this hypothesis is seen to
raise more difficulties than it solves. What was there in the position
of Peisistratos, or of Athens itself in the sixth century B. C., so
authoritative as to compel all Greeks to recognize the recension then
and there made of their revered poet? Besides which the celebrated
ordinance of Solon respecting the rhapsodes at the Panathenaia obliges
us to infer the existence of written manuscripts of Homer previous to
550 B. C. As Mr. Grote well observes, the interference of Peisistratos
"presupposes a certain foreknown and ancient aggregate, the main
lineaments of which were familiar to the Grecian public, although many
of the rhapsodes in their practice may have deviated from it both by
omission and interpolation. In correcting the Athenian recitations
conformably with such understood general type, Peisistratos might hope
both to procure respect for Athens and to constitute a fashion for the
rest of Greece. But this step of 'collecting the torn body of sacred
Homer' is something generically different from the composition of a new
Iliad out of pre-existing songs: the former is as easy, suitable, and
promising as the latter is violent and gratuitous." [151]

As for Wolf's objection, that the Iliad and Odyssey are too long to
have been preserved by memory, it may be met by a simple denial. It is a
strange objection indeed, coming from a man of Wolf's retentive memory.
I do not see how the acquisition of the two poems can be regarded as
such a very arduous task; and if literature were as scanty now as in
Greek antiquity, there are doubtless many scholars who would long since
have had them at their tongues' end. Sir G. C. Lewis, with but little
conscious effort, managed to carry in his head a very considerable
portion of Greek and Latin classic literature; and Niebuhr (who
once restored from recollection a book of accounts which had been
accidentally destroyed) was in the habit of referring to book and
chapter of an ancient author without consulting his notes. Nay, there
is Professor Sophocles, of Harvard University, who, if you suddenly stop
and interrogate him in the street, will tell you just how many times any
given Greek word occurs in Thukydides, or in AEschylos, or in Plato, and
will obligingly rehearse for you the context. If all extant copies of
the Homeric poems were to be gathered together and burnt up to-day,
like Don Quixote's library, or like those Arabic manuscripts of which
Cardinal Ximenes made a bonfire in the streets of Granada, the poems
could very likely be reproduced and orally transmitted for several
generations; and much easier must it have been for the Greeks
to preserve these books, which their imagination invested with a
quasi-sanctity, and which constituted the greater part of the literary
furniture of their minds. In Xenophon's time there were educated
gentlemen at Athens who could repeat both Iliad and Odyssey verbatim.
(Xenoph. Sympos., III. 5.) Besides this, we know that at Chios there was
a company of bards, known as Homerids, whose business it was to recite
these poems from memory; and from the edicts of Solon and the Sikyonian
Kleisthenes (Herod., V. 67), we may infer that the case was the same in
other parts of Greece. Passages from the Iliad used to be sung at the
Pythian festivals, to the accompaniment of the harp (Athenaeus, XIV.
638), and in at least two of the Ionic islands of the AEgaean there were
regular competitive exhibitions by trained young men, at which prizes
were given to the best reciter. The difficulty of preserving the poems,
under such circumstances, becomes very insignificant; and the Wolfian
argument quite vanishes when we reflect that it would have been no
easier to preserve a dozen or twenty short poems than two long ones.
Nay, the coherent, orderly arrangement of the Iliad and Odyssey would
make them even easier to remember than a group of short rhapsodies not
consecutively arranged.

When we come to interrogate the poems themselves, we find in them quite
convincing evidence that they were originally composed for the ear
alone, and without reference to manuscript assistance. They abound in
catchwords, and in verbal repetitions. The "Catalogue of Ships," as Mr.
Gladstone has acutely observed, is arranged in well-defined sections,
in such a way that the end of each section suggests the beginning of
the next one. It resembles the versus memoriales found in old-fashioned
grammars. But the most convincing proof of all is to be found in the
changes which Greek pronunciation went through between the ages of
Homer and Peisistratos. "At the time when these poems were composed, the
digamma (or w) was an effective consonant, and figured as such in the
structure of the verse; at the time when they were committed to writing,
it had ceased to be pronounced, and therefore never found a place in any
of the manuscripts,--insomuch that the Alexandrian critics, though they
knew of its existence in the much later poems of Alkaios and Sappho,
never recognized it in Homer. The hiatus, and the various perplexities
of metre, occasioned by the loss of the digamma, were corrected by
different grammatical stratagems. But the whole history of this lost
letter is very curious, and is rendered intelligible only by the
supposition that the Iliad and Odyssey belonged for a wide space of time
to the memory, the voice, and the ear exclusively." [152]

Many of these facts are of course fully recognized by the Wolfians; but
the inference drawn from them, that the Homeric poems began to exist in
a piecemeal condition, is, as we have seen, unnecessary. These poems may
indeed be compared, in a certain sense, with the early sacred and
epic literature of the Jews, Indians, and Teutons. But if we assign a
plurality of composers to the Psalms and Pentateuch, the Mahabharata,
the Vedas, and the Edda, we do so because of internal evidence furnished
by the books themselves, and not because these books could not have been
preserved by oral tradition. Is there, then, in the Homeric poems any
such internal evidence of dual or plural origin as is furnished by
the interlaced Elohistic and Jehovistic documents of the Pentateuch? A
careful investigation will show that there is not. Any scholar who
has given some attention to the subject can readily distinguish the
Elohistic from the Jehovistic portions of the Pentateuch; and, save in
the case of a few sporadic verses, most Biblical critics coincide in the
separation which they make between the two. But the attempts which have
been made to break up the Iliad and Odyssey have resulted in no such
harmonious agreement. There are as many systems as there are critics,
and naturally enough. For the Iliad and the Odyssey are as much alike
as two peas, and the resemblance which holds between the two holds also
between the different parts of each poem. From the appearance of the
injured Chryses in the Grecian camp down to the intervention of Athene
on the field of contest at Ithaka, we find in each book and in each
paragraph the same style, the same peculiarities of expression, the same
habits of thought, the same quite unique manifestations of the faculty
of observation. Now if the style were commonplace, the observation
slovenly, or the thought trivial, as is wont to be the case in
ballad-literature, this argument from similarity might not carry with it
much conviction. But when we reflect that throughout the whole course
of human history no other works, save the best tragedies of Shakespeare,
have ever been written which for combined keenness of observation,
elevation of thought, and sublimity of style can compare with the
Homeric poems, we must admit that the argument has very great weight
indeed. Let us take, for example, the sixth and twenty-fourth books
of the Iliad. According to the theory of Lachmann, the most eminent
champion of the Wolfian hypothesis, these are by different authors.
Human speech has perhaps never been brought so near to the limit of its
capacity of expressing deep emotion as in the scene between Priam and
Achilleus in the twenty-fourth book; while the interview between Hektor
and Andromache in the sixth similarly wellnigh exhausts the power of
language. Now, the literary critic has a right to ask whether it
is probable that two such passages, agreeing perfectly in turn of
expression, and alike exhibiting the same unapproachable degree of
excellence, could have been produced by two different authors. And the
physiologist--with some inward misgivings suggested by Mr. Galton's
theory that the Greeks surpassed us in genius even as we surpass the
negroes--has a right to ask whether it is in the natural course of
things for two such wonderful poets, strangely agreeing in their
minutest psychological characteristics, to be produced at the same time.
And the difficulty thus raised becomes overwhelming when we reflect that
it is the coexistence of not two only, but at least twenty such geniuses
which the Wolfian hypothesis requires us to account for. That theory
worked very well as long as scholars thoughtlessly assumed that the
Iliad and Odyssey were analogous to ballad poetry. But, except in the
simplicity of the primitive diction, there is no such analogy. The
power and beauty of the Iliad are never so hopelessly lost as when it is
rendered into the style of a modern ballad. One might as well attempt
to preserve the grandeur of the triumphant close of Milton's Lycidas by
turning it into the light Anacreontics of the ode to "Eros stung by a
Bee." The peculiarity of the Homeric poetry, which defies translation,
is its union of the simplicity characteristic of an early age with a
sustained elevation of style, which can be explained only as due to
individual genius.

The same conclusion is forced upon us when we examine the artistic
structure of these poems. With regard to the Odyssey in particular,
Mr. Grote has elaborately shown that its structure is so thoroughly
integral, that no considerable portion could be subtracted without
converting the poem into a more or less admirable fragment. The
Iliad stands in a somewhat different position. There are unmistakable
peculiarities in its structure, which have led even Mr. Grote, who
utterly rejects the Wolfian hypothesis, to regard it as made up of
two poems; although he inclines to the belief that the later poem
was grafted upon the earlier by its own author, by way of further
elucidation and expansion; just as Goethe, in his old age, added a
new part to "Faust." According to Mr. Grote, the Iliad, as originally
conceived, was properly an Achilleis; its design being, as indicated in
the opening lines of the poem, to depict the wrath of Achilleus and
the unutterable woes which it entailed upon the Greeks The plot of
this primitive Achilleis is entirely contained in Books I., VIII., and
XI.-XXII.; and, in Mr. Grote's opinion, the remaining books injure the
symmetry of this plot by unnecessarily prolonging the duration of
the Wrath, while the embassy to Achilleus, in the ninth book, unduly
anticipates the conduct of Agamemnon in the nineteenth, and is
therefore, as a piece of bungling work, to be referred to the hands of
an inferior interpolator. Mr. Grote thinks it probable that these books,
with the exception of the ninth, were subsequently added by the poet,
with a view to enlarging the original Achilleis into a real Iliad,
describing the war of the Greeks against Troy. With reference to this
hypothesis, I gladly admit that Mr. Grote is, of all men now living, the
one best entitled to a reverential hearing on almost any point connected
with Greek antiquity. Nevertheless it seems to me that his theory rests
solely upon imagined difficulties which have no real existence. I doubt
if any scholar, reading the Iliad ever so much, would ever be struck by
these alleged inconsistencies of structure, unless they were suggested
by some a priori theory. And I fear that the Wolfian theory, in spite of
Mr. Grote's emphatic rejection of it, is responsible for some of these
over-refined criticisms. Even as it stands, the Iliad is not an account
of the war against Troy. It begins in the tenth year of the siege, and
it does not continue to the capture of the city. It is simply occupied
with an episode in the war,--with the wrath of Achilleus and its
consequences, according to the plan marked out in the opening lines. The
supposed additions, therefore, though they may have given to the poem
a somewhat wider scope, have not at any rate changed its primitive
character of an Achilleis. To my mind they seem even called for by the
original conception of the consequences of the wrath. To have inserted
the battle at the ships, in which Sarpedon breaks down the wall of the
Greeks, immediately after the occurrences of the first book, would have
been too abrupt altogether. Zeus, after his reluctant promise to Thetis,
must not be expected so suddenly to exhibit such fell determination. And
after the long series of books describing the valorous deeds of Aias,
Diomedes, Agamemnon, Odysseus, and Menelaos, the powerful intervention
of Achilleus appears in far grander proportions than would otherwise
be possible. As for the embassy to Achilleus, in the ninth book, I
am unable to see how the final reconciliation with Agamemnon would be
complete without it. As Mr. Gladstone well observes, what Achilleus
wants is not restitution, but apology; and Agamemnon offers no apology
until the nineteenth book. In his answer to the ambassadors, Achilleus
scornfully rejects the proposals which imply that the mere return of
Briseis will satisfy his righteous resentment, unless it be accompanied
with that public humiliation to which circumstances have not yet
compelled the leader of the Greeks to subject himself. Achilleus is not
to be bought or cajoled. Even the extreme distress of the Greeks in the
thirteenth book does not prevail upon him; nor is there anything in the
poem to show that he ever would have laid aside his wrath, had not the
death of Patroklos supplied him with a new and wholly unforeseen motive.
It seems to me that his entrance into the battle after the death of his
friend would lose half its poetic effect, were it not preceded by some
such scene as that in the ninth book, in which he is represented as deaf
to all ordinary inducements. As for the two concluding books, which Mr.
Grote is inclined to regard as a subsequent addition, not necessitated
by the plan of the poem, I am at a loss to see how the poem can be
considered complete without them. To leave the bodies of Patroklos
and Hektor unburied would be in the highest degree shocking to Greek
religious feelings. Remembering the sentence incurred, in far less
superstitious times, by the generals at Arginusai, it is impossible to
believe that any conclusion which left Patroklos's manes unpropitiated,
and the mutilated corpse of Hektor unransomed, could have satisfied
either the poet or his hearers. For further particulars I must refer
the reader to the excellent criticisms of Mr. Gladstone, and also to the
article on "Greek History and Legend" in the second volume of Mr. Mill's
"Dissertations and Discussions." A careful study of the arguments of
these writers, and, above all, a thorough and independent examination of
the Iliad itself, will, I believe, convince the student that this great
poem is from beginning to end the consistent production of a single

The arguments of those who would attribute the Iliad and Odyssey, taken
as wholes, to two different authors, rest chiefly upon some apparent
discrepancies in the mythology of the two poems; but many of these
difficulties have been completely solved by the recent progress of the
science of comparative mythology. Thus, for example, the fact that,
in the Iliad, Hephaistos is called the husband of Charis, while in the
Odyssey he is called the husband of Aphrodite, has been cited even by
Mr. Grote as evidence that the two poems are not by the same author. It
seems to me that one such discrepancy, in the midst of complete general
agreement, would be much better explained as Cervantes explained his own
inconsistency with reference to the stealing of Sancho's mule, in the
twenty-second chapter of "Don Quixote." But there is no discrepancy.
Aphrodite, though originally the moon-goddess, like the German
Horsel, had before Homer's time acquired many of the attributes of the
dawn-goddess Athene, while her lunar characteristics had been to a
great extent transferred to Artemis and Persephone. In her renovated
character, as goddess of the dawn, Aphrodite became identified with
Charis, who appears in the Rig-Veda as dawn-goddess. In the post-Homeric
mythology, the two were again separated, and Charis, becoming divided in
personality, appears as the Charites, or Graces, who were supposed to be
constant attendants of Aphrodite. But in the Homeric poems the two are
still identical, and either Charis or Aphrodite may be called the wife
of the fire-god, without inconsistency.

Thus to sum up, I believe that Mr. Gladstone is quite right in
maintaining that both the Iliad and Odyssey are, from beginning to end,
with the exception of a few insignificant interpolations, the work of a
single author, whom we have no ground for calling by any other name than
that of Homer. I believe, moreover, that this author lived before the
beginning of authentic history, and that we can determine neither his
age nor his country with precision. We can only decide that he was a
Greek who lived at some time previous to the year 900 B.C.

Here, however, I must begin to part company with Mr. Gladstone, and
shall henceforth unfortunately have frequent occasion to differ from him
on points of fundamental importance. For Mr. Gladstone not only regards
the Homeric age as strictly within the limits of authentic history, but
he even goes much further than this. He would not only fix the date of
Homer positively in the twelfth century B. C., but he regards the
Trojan war as a purely historical event, of which Homer is the authentic
historian and the probable eye-witness. Nay, he even takes the word
of the poet as proof conclusive of the historical character of events
happening several generations before the Troika, according to the
legendary chronology. He not only regards Agamemnon, Achilleus,
and Paris as actual personages, but he ascribes the same reality to
characters like Danaos, Kadmos, and Perseus, and talks of the Pelopid
and Aiolid dynasties, and the empire of Minos, with as much confidence
as if he were dealing with Karlings or Capetians, or with the epoch of
the Crusades.

It is disheartening, at the present day, and after so much has been
finally settled by writers like Grote, Mommsen, and Sir G. C. Lewis,
to come upon such views in the work of a man of scholarship and
intelligence. One begins to wonder how many more times it will be
necessary to prove that dates and events are of no historical value,
unless attested by nearly contemporary evidence. Pausanias and Plutarch
were able men no doubt, and Thukydides was a profound historian; but
what these writers thought of the Herakleid invasion, the age of
Homer, and the war of Troy, can have no great weight with the critical
historian, since even in the time of Thukydides these events were
as completely obscured by lapse of time as they are now. There is no
literary Greek history before the age of Hekataios and Herodotos, three
centuries subsequent to the first recorded Olympiad. A portion of this
period is satisfactorily covered by inscriptions, but even these fail us
before we get within a century of this earliest ascertainable date.
Even the career of the lawgiver Lykourgos, which seems to belong to
the commencement of the eighth century B. C., presents us, from lack of
anything like contemporary records, with many insoluble problems. The
Helleno-Dorian conquest, as we have seen, must have occurred at some
time or other; but it evidently did not occur within two centuries of
the earliest known inscription, and it is therefore folly to imagine
that we can determine its date or ascertain the circumstances which
attended it. Anterior to this event there is but one fact in Greek
antiquity directly known to us,--the existence of the Homeric poems. The
belief that there was a Trojan war rests exclusively upon the contents
of those poems: there is no other independent testimony to it whatever.
But the Homeric poems are of no value as testimony to the truth of the
statements contained in them, unless it can be proved that their author
was either contemporary with the Troika, or else derived his information
from contemporary witnesses. This can never be proved. To assume, as Mr.
Gladstone does, that Homer lived within fifty years after the Troika, is
to make a purely gratuitous assumption. For aught the wisest historian
can tell, the interval may have been five hundred years, or a thousand.
Indeed the Iliad itself expressly declares that it is dealing with an
ancient state of things which no longer exists. It is difficult to see
what else can be meant by the statement that the heroes of the Troika
belong to an order of men no longer seen upon the earth. (Iliad, V.
304.) Most assuredly Achilleus the son of Thetis, and Sarpedon the son
of Zeus, and Helena the daughter of Zeus, are no ordinary mortals, such
as might have been seen and conversed with by the poet's grandfather.
They belong to an inferior order of gods, according to the peculiar
anthropomorphism of the Greeks, in which deity and humanity are so
closely mingled that it is difficult to tell where the one begins and
the other ends. Diomedes, single-handed, vanquishes not only the gentle
Aphrodite, but even the god of battles himself, the terrible Ares.
Nestor quaffs lightly from a goblet which, we are told, not two men
among the poet's contemporaries could by their united exertions raise
and place upon a table. Aias and Hektor and Aineias hurl enormous masses
of rock as easily as an ordinary man would throw a pebble. All this
shows that the poet, in his naive way, conceiving of these heroes as
personages of a remote past, was endeavouring as far as possible to
ascribe to them the attributes of superior beings. If all that were
divine, marvellous, or superhuman were to be left out of the poems, the
supposed historical residue would hardly be worth the trouble of saving.
As Mr. Cox well observes, "It is of the very essence of the narrative
that Paris, who has deserted Oinone, the child of the stream Kebren, and
before whom Here, Athene, and Aphrodite had appeared as claimants
for the golden apple, steals from Sparta the beautiful sister of the
Dioskouroi; that the chiefs are summoned together for no other purpose
than to avenge her woes and wrongs; that Achilleus, the son of the
sea-nymph Thetis, the wielder of invincible weapons and the lord of
undying horses, goes to fight in a quarrel which is not his own; that
his wrath is roused because he is robbed of the maiden Briseis, and that
henceforth he takes no part in the strife until his friend Patroklos has
been slain; that then he puts on the new armour which Thetis brings to
him from the anvil of Hephaistos, and goes forth to win the victory. The
details are throughout of the same nature. Achilleus sees and converses
with Athene; Aphrodite is wounded by Diomedes, and Sleep and Death bear
away the lifeless Sarpedon on their noiseless wings to the far-off
land of light." In view of all this it is evident that Homer was not
describing, like a salaried historiographer, the state of things which
existed in the time of his father or grandfather. To his mind the
occurrences which he described were those of a remote, a wonderful, a
semi-divine past.

This conclusion, which I have thus far supported merely by reference to
the Iliad itself, becomes irresistible as soon as we take into account
the results obtained during the past thirty years by the science of
comparative mythology. As long as our view was restricted to Greece,
it was perhaps excusable that Achilleus and Paris should be taken for
exaggerated copies of actual persons. Since the day when Grimm laid the
foundations of the science of mythology, all this has been changed. It
is now held that Achilleus and Paris and Helena are to be found, not
only in the Iliad, but also in the Rig-Veda, and therefore, as mythical
conceptions, date, not from Homer, but from a period preceding the
dispersion of the Aryan nations. The tale of the Wrath of Achilleus, far
from originating with Homer, far from being recorded by the author of
the Iliad as by an eyewitness, must have been known in its essential
features in Aryana-vaedjo, at that remote epoch when the Indian, the
Greek, and the Teuton were as yet one and the same. For the story has
been retained by the three races alike, in all its principal features;
though the Veda has left it in the sky where it originally belonged,
while the Iliad and the Nibelungenlied have brought it down to earth,
the one locating it in Asia Minor, and the other in Northwestern Europe.

In the Rig-Veda the Panis are the genii of night and winter,
corresponding to the Nibelungs, or "Children of the Mist," in the
Teutonic legend, and to the children of Nephele (cloud) in the Greek
myth of the Golden Fleece. The Panis steal the cattle of the Sun (Indra,
Helios, Herakles), and carry them by an unknown route to a dark cave
eastward. Sarama, the creeping Dawn, is sent by Indra to find and
recover them. The Panis then tamper with Sarama, and try their best to
induce her to betray her solar lord. For a while she is prevailed
upon to dally with them; yet she ultimately returns to give Indra the
information needful in order that he might conquer the Panis, just
as Helena, in the slightly altered version, ultimately returns to her
western home, carrying with her the treasures (ktemata, Iliad, II. 285)
of which Paris had robbed Menelaos. But, before the bright Indra and his
solar heroes can reconquer their treasures they must take captive the
offspring of Brisaya, the violet light of morning. Thus Achilleus,
answering to the solar champion Aharyu, takes captive the daughter of
Brises. But as the sun must always be parted from the morning-light, to
return to it again just before setting, so Achilleus loses Briseis,
and regains her only just before his final struggle. In similar wise
Herakles is parted from Iole ("the violet one"), and Sigurd from
Brynhild. In sullen wrath the hero retires from the conflict, and his
Myrmidons are no longer seen on the battle-field, as the sun hides
behind the dark cloud and his rays no longer appear about him. Yet
toward the evening, as Briseis returns, he appears in his might, clothed
in the dazzling armour wrought for him by the fire-god Hephaistos, and
with his invincible spear slays the great storm-cloud, which during his
absence had wellnigh prevailed over the champions of the daylight. But
his triumph is short-lived; for having trampled on the clouds that had
opposed him, while yet crimsoned with the fierce carnage, the sharp
arrow of the night-demon Paris slays him at the Western Gates. We have
not space to go into further details. In Mr. Cox's "Mythology of the
Aryan Nations," and "Tales of Ancient Greece," the reader will find the
entire contents of the Iliad and Odyssey thus minutely illustrated by
comparison with the Veda, the Edda, and the Lay of the Nibelungs.

Ancient as the Homeric poems undoubtedly are, they are modern in
comparison with the tale of Achilleus and Helena, as here unfolded. The
date of the entrance of the Greeks into Europe will perhaps never be
determined; but I do not see how any competent scholar can well place it
at less than eight hundred or a thousand years before the time of Homer.
Between the two epochs the Greek, Latin, Umbrian, and Keltic lauguages
had time to acquire distinct individualities. Far earlier, therefore,
than the Homeric "juventus mundi" was that "youth of the world," in
which the Aryan forefathers, knowing no abstract terms, and possessing
no philosophy but fetichism, deliberately spoke of the Sun, and the
Dawn, and the Clouds, as persons or as animals. The Veda,
though composed much later than this,--perhaps as late as the
Iliad,--nevertheless preserves the record of the mental life of this
period. The Vedic poet is still dimly aware that Sarama is the fickle
twilight, and the Panis the night-demons who strive to coax her from her
allegiance to the day-god. He keeps the scene of action in the sky. But
the Homeric Greek had long since forgotten that Helena and Paris were
anything more than semi-divine mortals, the daughter of Zeus and the
son of the Zeus-descended Priam. The Hindu understood that Dyaus ("the
bright one") meant the sky, and Sarama ("the creeping one") the dawn,
and spoke significantly when he called the latter the daughter of the
former. But the Greek could not know that Zeus was derived from a root
div, "to shine," or that Helena belonged to a root sar, "to creep."
Phonetic change thus helped him to rise from fetichism to polytheism.
His nature-gods became thoroughly anthropomorphic; and he probably no
more remembered that Achilleus originally signified the sun, than we
remember that the word God, which we use to denote the most vast of
conceptions, originally meant simply the Storm-wind. Indeed, when the
fetichistic tendency led the Greek again to personify the powers of
nature, he had recourse to new names formed from his own language. Thus,
beside Apollo we have Helios; Selene beside Artemis and Persephone; Eos
beside Athene; Gaia beside Demeter. As a further consequence of this
decomposition and new development of the old Aryan mythology, we find,
as might be expected, that the Homeric poems are not always consistent
in their use of their mythic materials. Thus, Paris, the night-demon,
is--to Max Muller's perplexity--invested with many of the attributes of
the bright solar heroes. "Like Perseus, Oidipous, Romulus, and Cyrus, he
is doomed to bring ruin on his parents; like them he is exposed in
his infancy on the hillside, and rescued by a shepherd." All the solar
heroes begin life in this way. Whether, like Apollo, born of the dark
night (Leto), or like Oidipous, of the violet dawn (Iokaste), they are
alike destined to bring destruction on their parents, as the night and
the dawn are both destroyed by the sun. The exposure of the child in
infancy represents the long rays of the morning-sun resting on the
hillside. Then Paris forsakes Oinone ("the wine-coloured one"), but
meets her again at the gloaming when she lays herself by his side amid
the crimson flames of the funeral pyre. Sarpedon also, a solar hero, is
made to fight on the side of the Niblungs or Trojans, attended by his
friend Glaukos ("the brilliant one"). They command the Lykians, or
"children of light"; and with them comes also Memnon, son of the Dawn,
from the fiery land of the Aithiopes, the favourite haunt of Zeus and
the gods of Olympos.

The Iliad-myth must therefore have been current many ages before
the Greeks inhabited Greece, long before there was any Ilion to be
conquered. Nevertheless, this does not forbid the supposition that the
legend, as we have it, may have been formed by the crystallization of
mythical conceptions about a nucleus of genuine tradition. In this view
I am upheld by a most sagacious and accurate scholar, Mr. E. A. Freeman,
who finds in Carlovingian romance an excellent illustration of the
problem before us.

The Charlemagne of romance is a mythical personage. He is supposed to
have been a Frenchman, at a time when neither the French nation nor
the French language can properly be said to have existed; and he is
represented as a doughty crusader, although crusading was not thought of
until long after the Karolingian era. The legendary deeds of Charlemagne
are not conformed to the ordinary rules of geography and chronology.
He is a myth, and, what is more, he is a solar myth,--an avatar, or at
least a representative, of Odin in his solar capacity. If in his case
legend were not controlled and rectified by history, he would be for us
as unreal as Agamemnon.

History, however, tells us that there was an Emperor Karl, German in
race, name, and language, who was one of the two or three greatest men
of action that the world has ever seen, and who in the ninth century
ruled over all Western Europe. To the historic Karl corresponds in many
particulars the mythical Charlemagne. The legend has preserved the fact,
which without the information supplied by history we might perhaps set
down as a fiction, that there was a time when Germany, Gaul, Italy,
and part of Spain formed a single empire. And, as Mr. Freeman has well
observed, the mythical crusades of Charlemagne are good evidence that
there were crusades, although the real Karl had nothing whatever to do
with one.

Now the case of Agamemnon may be much like that of Charlemagne, except
that we no longer have history to help us in rectifying the legend.
The Iliad preserves the tradition of a time when a large portion of
the islands and mainland of Greece were at least partially subject to a
common suzerain; and, as Mr. Freeman has again shrewdly suggested,
the assignment of a place like Mykenai, instead of Athens or Sparta
or Argos, as the seat of the suzerainty, is strong evidence of the
trustworthiness of the tradition. It appears to show that the legend was
constrained by some remembered fact, instead of being guided by general
probability. Charlemagne's seat of government has been transferred in
romance from Aachen to Paris; had it really been at Paris, says Mr.
Freeman, no one would have thought of transferring it to Aachen.
Moreover, the story of Agamemnon, though uncontrolled by historic
records, is here at least supported by archaeologic remains, which prove
Mykenai to have been at some time or other a place of great consequence.
Then, as to the Trojan war, we know that the Greeks several times
crossed the AEgaean and colonized a large part of the seacoast of Asia
Minor. In order to do this it was necessary to oust from their homes
many warlike communities of Lydians and Bithynians, and we may be
sure that this was not done without prolonged fighting. There may very
probably have been now and then a levy en masse in prehistoric Greece,
as there was in mediaeval Europe; and whether the great suzerain at
Mykenai ever attended one or not, legend would be sure to send him on
such an expedition, as it afterwards sent Charlemagne on a crusade.

It is therefore quite possible that Agamemnon and Menelaos may represent
dimly remembered sovereigns or heroes, with their characters and actions
distorted to suit the exigencies of a narrative founded upon a solar
myth. The character of the Nibelungenlied here well illustrates that of
the Iliad. Siegfried and Brunhild, Hagen and Gunther, seem to be mere
personifications of physical phenomena; but Etzel and Dietrich are none
other than Attila and Theodoric surrounded with mythical attributes; and
even the conception of Brunhild has been supposed to contain elements
derived from the traditional recollection of the historical Brunehault.
When, therefore, Achilleus is said, like a true sun-god, to have died by
a wound from a sharp instrument in the only vulnerable part of his body,
we may reply that the legendary Charlemagne conducts himself in many
respects like a solar deity. If Odysseus detained by Kalypso represents
the sun ensnared and held captive by the pale goddess of night, the
legend of Frederic Barbarossa asleep in a Thuringian mountain embodies
a portion of a kindred conception. We know that Charlemagne and Frederic
have been substituted for Odin; we may suspect that with the mythical
impersonations of Achilleus and Odysseus some traditional figures may
be blended. We should remember that in early times the solar-myth was a
sort of type after which all wonderful stories would be patterned, and
that to such a type tradition also would be made to conform.

In suggesting this view, we are not opening the door to Euhemerism.
If there is any one conclusion concerning the Homeric poems which
the labours of a whole generation of scholars may be said to have
satisfactorily established, it is this, that no trustworthy history can
be obtained from either the Iliad or the Odyssey merely by sifting out
the mythical element. Even if the poems contain the faint reminiscence
of an actual event, that event is inextricably wrapped up in mythical
phraseology, so that by no cunning of the scholar can it be construed
into history. In view of this it is quite useless for Mr. Gladstone
to attempt to base historical conclusions upon the fact that Helena is
always called "Argive Helen," or to draw ethnological inferences from
the circumstances that Menelaos, Achilleus, and the rest of the Greek
heroes, have yellow hair, while the Trojans are never so described. The
Argos of the myth is not the city of Peloponnesos, though doubtless
so construed even in Homer's time. It is "the bright land" where Zeus
resides, and the epithet is applied to his wife Here and his daughter
Helena, as well as to the dog of Odysseus, who reappears with Sarameyas
in the Veda. As for yellow hair, there is no evidence that Greeks have
ever commonly possessed it; but no other colour would do for a solar
hero, and it accordingly characterizes the entire company of them,
wherever found, while for the Trojans, or children of night, it is not

A wider acquaintance with the results which have been obtained during
the past thirty years by the comparative study of languages and
mythologies would have led Mr. Gladstone to reconsider many of his views
concerning the Homeric poems, and might perhaps have led him to cut out
half or two thirds of his book as hopelessly antiquated. The chapter on
the divinities of Olympos would certainly have had to be rewritten, and
the ridiculous theory of a primeval revelation abandoned. One can hardly
preserve one's gravity when Mr. Gladstone derives Apollo from the
Hebrew Messiah, and Athene from the Logos. To accredit Homer with an
acquaintance with the doctrine of the Logos, which did not exist until
the time of Philo, and did not receive its authorized Christian form
until the middle of the second century after Christ, is certainly a
strange proceeding. We shall next perhaps be invited to believe that the
authors of the Volsunga Saga obtained the conception of Sigurd from
the "Thirty-Nine Articles." It is true that these deities, Athene and
Apollo, are wiser, purer, and more dignified, on the whole, than any
of the other divinities of the Homeric Olympos. They alone, as Mr.
Gladstone truly observes, are never deceived or frustrated. For all
Hellas, Apollo was the interpreter of futurity, and in the maid Athene
we have perhaps the highest conception of deity to which the Greek mind
had attained in the early times. In the Veda, Athene is nothing but the
dawn; but in the Greek mythology, while the merely sensuous glories of
daybreak are assigned to Eos, Athene becomes the impersonation of the
illuminating and knowledge-giving light of the sky. As the dawn, she
is daughter of Zeus, the sky, and in mythic language springs from his
forehead; but, according to the Greek conception, this imagery signifies
that she shares, more than any other deity, in the boundless wisdom
of Zeus. The knowledge of Apollo, on the other hand, is the peculiar
privilege of the sun, who, from his lofty position, sees everything that
takes place upon the earth. Even the secondary divinity Helios possesses
this prerogative to a certain extent.

Next to a Hebrew, Mr. Gladstone prefers a Phoenician ancestry for the
Greek divinities. But the same lack of acquaintance with the old Aryan
mythology vitiates all his conclusions. No doubt the Greek mythology is
in some particulars tinged with Phoenician conceptions. Aphrodite was
originally a purely Greek divinity, but in course of time she acquired
some of the attributes of the Semitic Astarte, and was hardly improved
by the change. Adonis is simply a Semitic divinity, imported into
Greece. But the same cannot be proved of Poseidon; [154] far less of
Hermes, who is identical with the Vedic Sarameyas, the rising wind,
the son of Sarama the dawn, the lying, tricksome wind-god, who invented
music, and conducts the souls of dead men to the house of Hades, even
as his counterpart the Norse Odin rushes over the tree-tops leading
the host of the departed. When one sees Iris, the messenger of Zeus,
referred to a Hebrew original, because of Jehovah's promise to Noah, one
is at a loss to understand the relationship between the two conceptions.
Nothing could be more natural to the Greeks than to call the rainbow the
messenger of the sky-god to earth-dwelling men; to call it a token set
in the sky by Jehovah, as the Hebrews did, was a very different thing.
We may admit the very close resemblance between the myth of Bellerophon
and Anteia, and that of Joseph and Zuleikha; but the fact that the Greek
story is explicable from Aryan antecedents, while the Hebrew story is
isolated, might perhaps suggest the inference that the Hebrews were the
borrowers, as they undoubtedly were in the case of the myth of Eden.
Lastly, to conclude that Helios is an Eastern deity, because he reigns
in the East over Thrinakia, is wholly unwarranted. Is not Helios pure
Greek for the sun? and where should his sacred island be placed, if not
in the East? As for his oxen, which wrought such dire destruction to the
comrades of Odysseus, and which seem to Mr. Gladstone so anomalous, they
are those very same unhappy cattle, the clouds, which were stolen by the
storm-demon Cacus and the wind-deity Hermes, and which furnished endless
material for legends to the poets of the Veda.

But the whole subject of comparative mythology seems to be terra
incognita to Mr. Gladstone. He pursues the even tenour of his way in
utter disregard of Grimm, and Kuhn, and Breal, and Dasent, and Burnouf.
He takes no note of the Rig-Veda, nor does he seem to realize that there
was ever a time when the ancestors of the Greeks and Hindus worshipped
the same gods. Two or three times he cites Max Muller, but makes no
use of the copious data which might be gathered from him. The only work
which seems really to have attracted his attention is M. Jacolliot's
very discreditable performance called "The Bible in India." Mr.
Gladstone does not, indeed, unreservedly approve of this book; but
neither does he appear to suspect that it is a disgraceful piece of
charlatanry, written by a man ignorant of the very rudiments of the
subject which he professes to handle.

Mr. Gladstone is equally out of his depth when he comes to treat purely
philological questions. Of the science of philology, as based upon
established laws of phonetic change, he seems to have no knowledge
whatever. He seems to think that two words are sufficiently proved to
be connected when they are seen to resemble each other in spelling or in
sound. Thus he quotes approvingly a derivation of the name Themis from
an assumed verb them, "to speak," whereas it is notoriously derived from
tiqhmi, as statute comes ultimately from stare. His reference of hieros,
"a priest," and geron, "an old man," to the same root, is utterly
baseless; the one is the Sanskrit ishiras, "a powerful man," the other
is the Sanskrit jaran, "an old man." The lists of words on pages 96-100
are disfigured by many such errors; and indeed the whole purpose for
which they are given shows how sadly Mr. Gladstone's philology is in
arrears. The theory of Niebuhr--that the words common to Greek and
Latin, mostly descriptive of peaceful occupations, are Pelasgian--was
serviceable enough in its day, but is now rendered wholly antiquated
by the discovery that such words are Aryan, in the widest sense. The
Pelasgian theory works very smoothly so long as we only compare the
Greek with the Latin words,--as, for instance, sugon with jugum; but
when we add the English yoke and the Sanskrit yugam, it is evident that
we have got far out of the range of the Pelasgoi. But what shall we say
when we find Mr. Gladstone citing the Latin thalamus in support of
this antiquated theory? Doubtless the word thalamus is, or should be,
significative of peaceful occupations; but it is not a Latin word at
all, except by adoption. One might as well cite the word ensemble to
prove the original identity or kinship between English and French.

When Mr. Gladstone, leaving the dangerous ground of pure and applied
philology, confines himself to illustrating the contents of the Homeric
poems, he is always excellent. His chapter on the "Outer Geography" of
the Odyssey is exceedingly interesting; showing as it does how much
may be obtained from the patient and attentive study of even a single
author. Mr. Gladstone's knowledge of the SURFACE of the Iliad and
Odyssey, so to speak, is extensive and accurate. It is when he attempts
to penetrate beneath the surface and survey the treasures hidden in the
bowels of the earth, that he shows himself unprovided with the talisman
of the wise dervise, which alone can unlock those mysteries. But modern
philology is an exacting science: to approach its higher problems
requires an amount of preparation sufficient to terrify at the outset
all but the boldest; and a man who has had to regulate taxation, and
make out financial statements, and lead a political party in a great
nation, may well be excused for ignorance of philology. It is difficult
enough for those who have little else to do but to pore over treatises
on phonetics, and thumb their lexicons, to keep fully abreast with the
latest views in linguistics. In matters of detail one can hardly ever
broach a new hypothesis without misgivings lest somebody, in some weekly
journal published in Germany, may just have anticipated and refuted it.
Yet while Mr. Gladstone may be excused for being unsound in philology,
it is far less excusable that he should sit down to write a book about
Homer, abounding in philological statements, without the slightest
knowledge of what has been achieved in that science for several years
past. In spite of all drawbacks, however, his book shows an abiding
taste for scholarly pursuits, and therefore deserves a certain kind
of praise. I hope,--though just now the idea savours of the
ludicrous,--that the day may some time arrive when OUR Congressmen and
Secretaries of the Treasury will spend their vacations in writing books
about Greek antiquities, or in illustrating the meaning of Homeric

July, 1870.


NO earnest student of human culture can as yet have forgotten or wholly
outlived the feeling of delight awakened by the first perusal of Max
Muller's brilliant "Essay on Comparative Mythology,"--a work in which
the scientific principles of myth-interpretation, though not newly
announced, were at least brought home to the reader with such an amount
of fresh and striking concrete illustration as they had not before
received. Yet it must have occurred to more than one reader that, while
the analyses of myths contained in this noble essay are in the main
sound in principle and correct in detail, nevertheless the author's
theory of the genesis of myth is expressed, and most likely conceived,
in a way that is very suggestive of carelessness and fallacy. There are
obvious reasons for doubting whether the existence of mythology can be
due to any "disease," abnormity, or hypertrophy of metaphor in language;
and the criticism at once arises, that with the myth-makers it was not
so much the character of the expression which originated the thought,
as it was the thought which gave character to the expression. It is not
that the early Aryans were myth-makers because their language abounded
in metaphor; it is that the Aryan mother-tongue abounded in metaphor
because the men and women who spoke it were myth-makers. And they were
myth-makers because they had nothing but the phenomena of human will and
effort with which to compare objective phenomena. Therefore it was that
they spoke of the sun as an unwearied voyager or a matchless archer,
and classified inanimate no less than animate objects as masculine and
feminine. Max Muller's way of stating his theory, both in this Essay
and in his later Lectures, affords one among several instances of the
curious manner in which he combines a marvellous penetration into the
significance of details with a certain looseness of general conception.
[155] The principles of philological interpretation are an indispensable
aid to us in detecting the hidden meaning of many a legend in which the
powers of nature are represented in the guise of living and thinking
persons; but before we can get at the secret of the myth-making tendency
itself, we must leave philology and enter upon a psychological study.
We must inquire into the characteristics of that primitive style of
thinking to which it seemed quite natural that the sun should be an
unerring archer, and the thunder-cloud a black demon or gigantic robber
finding his richly merited doom at the hands of the indignant Lord of

Among recent treatises which have dealt with this interesting problem,
we shall find it advantageous to give especial attention to Mr. Tylor's
"Primitive Culture," [156] one of the few erudite works which are at
once truly great and thoroughly entertaining. The learning displayed
in it would do credit to a German specialist, both for extent and for
minuteness, while the orderly arrangement of the arguments and the
elegant lucidity of the style are such as we are accustomed to expect
from French essay-writers. And what is still more admirable is the
way in which the enthusiasm characteristic of a genial and original
speculator is tempered by the patience and caution of a cool-headed
critic. Patience and caution are nowhere more needed than in writers
who deal with mythology and with primitive religious ideas; but these
qualities are too seldom found in combination with the speculative
boldness which is required when fresh theories are to be framed or new
paths of investigation opened. The state of mind in which the explaining
powers of a favourite theory are fondly contemplated is, to some extent,
antagonistic to the state of mind in which facts are seen, with the
eye of impartial criticism, in all their obstinate and uncompromising
reality. To be able to preserve the balance between the two opposing
tendencies is to give evidence of the most consummate scientific
training. It is from the want of such a balance that the recent great
work of Mr. Cox is at times so unsatisfactory. It may, I fear, seem
ill-natured to say so, but the eagerness with which Mr. Cox waylays
every available illustration of the physical theory of the origin of
myths has now and then the curious effect of weakening the reader's
conviction of the soundness of the theory. For my own part, though by no
means inclined to waver in adherence to a doctrine once adopted on good
grounds, I never felt so much like rebelling against the mythologic
supremacy of the Sun and the Dawn as when reading Mr. Cox's volumes.
That Mr. Tylor, while defending the same fundamental theory, awakens no
such rebellious feelings, is due to his clear perception and realization
of the fact that it is impossible to generalize in a single formula
such many-sided correspondences as those which primitive poetry end
philosophy have discerned between the life of man and the life of
outward nature. Whoso goes roaming up and down the elf-land of popular
fancies, with sole intent to resolve each episode of myth into some
answering physical event, his only criterion being outward resemblance,
cannot be trusted in his conclusions, since wherever he turns for
evidence he is sure to find something that can be made to serve as such.
As Mr. Tylor observes, no household legend or nursery rhyme is safe from
his hermeneutics. "Should he, for instance, demand as his property
the nursery 'Song of Sixpence,' his claim would be easily
established,--obviously the four-and-twenty blackbirds are the
four-and-twenty hours, and the pie that holds them is the underlying
earth covered with the overarching sky,--how true a touch of nature
it is that when the pie is opened, that is, when day breaks, the birds
begin to sing; the King is the Sun, and his counting out his money is
pouring out the sunshine, the golden shower of Danae; the Queen is
the Moon, and her transparent honey the moonlight; the Maid is the
'rosy-fingered' Dawn, who rises before the Sun, her master, and hangs
out the clouds, his clothes, across the sky; the particular blackbird,
who so tragically ends the tale by snipping off her nose, is the hour of
sunrise." In all this interpretation there is no a priori improbability,
save, perhaps, in its unbroken symmetry and completeness. That
some points, at least, of the story are thus derived from antique
interpretations of physical events, is in harmony with all that we know
concerning nursery rhymes. In short, "the time-honoured rhyme really
wants but one thing to prove it a sun-myth, that one thing being a proof
by some argument more valid than analogy." The character of the argument
which is lacking may be illustrated by a reference to the rhyme about
Jack and Jill, explained some time since in the paper on "The Origins of
Folk Lore." If the argument be thought valid which shows these ill-fated
children to be the spots on the moon, it is because the proof consists,
not in the analogy, which is in this case not especially obvious, but
in the fact that in the Edda, and among ignorant Swedish peasants of our
own day, the story of Jack and Jill is actually given as an explanation
of the moon-spots. To the neglect of this distinction between what is
plausible and what is supported by direct evidence, is due much of the
crude speculation which encumbers the study of myths.

It is when Mr. Tylor merges the study of mythology into the wider
inquiry into the characteristic features of the mode of thinking in
which myths originated, that we can best appreciate the practical
value of that union of speculative boldness and critical sobriety which
everywhere distinguishes him. It is pleasant to meet with a writer who
can treat of primitive religious ideas without losing his head over
allegory and symbolism, and who duly realizes the fact that a savage
is not a rabbinical commentator, or a cabalist, or a Rosicrucian, but
a plain man who draws conclusions like ourselves, though with feeble
intelligence and scanty knowledge. The mystic allegory with which such
modern writers as Lord Bacon have invested the myths of antiquity is
no part of their original clothing, but is rather the late product of
a style of reasoning from analogy quite similar to that which we
shall perceive to have guided the myth-makers in their primitive
constructions. The myths and customs and beliefs which, in an advanced
stage of culture, seem meaningless save when characterized by
some quaintly wrought device of symbolic explanation, did not seem
meaningless in the lower culture which gave birth to them. Myths, like
words, survive their primitive meanings. In the early stage the myth is
part and parcel of the current mode of philosophizing; the explanation
which it offers is, for the time, the natural one, the one which would
most readily occur to any one thinking on the theme with which the myth
is concerned. But by and by the mode of philosophizing has changed;
explanations which formerly seemed quite obvious no longer occur to any
one, but the myth has acquired an independent substantive existence, and
continues to be handed down from parents to children as something true,
though no one can tell why it is true: Lastly, the myth itself
gradually fades from remembrance, often leaving behind it some utterly
unintelligible custom or seemingly absurd superstitious notion. For
example,--to recur to an illustration already cited in a previous
paper,--it is still believed here and there by some venerable granny
that it is wicked to kill robins; but he who should attribute the belief
to the old granny's refined sympathy with all sentient existence, would
be making one of the blunders which are always committed by those
who reason a priori about historical matters without following the
historical method. At an earlier date the superstition existed in the
shape of a belief that the killing of a robin portends some calamity;
in a still earlier form the calamity is specified as death; and again,
still earlier, as death by lightning. Another step backward reveals that
the dread sanctity of the robin is owing to the fact that he is the bird
of Thor, the lightning god; and finally we reach that primitive stage
of philosophizing in which the lightning is explained as a red bird
dropping from its beak a worm which cleaveth the rocks. Again, the
belief that some harm is sure to come to him who saves the life of
a drowning man, is unintelligible until it is regarded as a case of
survival in culture. In the older form of the superstition it is held
that the rescuer will sooner or later be drowned himself; and thus we
pass to the fetichistic interpretation of drowning as the seizing of the
unfortunate person by the water-spirit or nixy, who is naturally angry
at being deprived of his victim, and henceforth bears a special grudge
against the bold mortal who has thus dared to frustrate him.

The interpretation of the lightning as a red bird, and of drowning as
the work of a smiling but treacherous fiend, are parts of that primitive
philosophy of nature in which all forces objectively existing are
conceived as identical with the force subjectively known as volition.
It is this philosophy, currently known as fetichism, but treated by Mr.
Tylor under the somewhat more comprehensive name of "animism," which
we must now consider in a few of its most conspicuous exemplifications.
When we have properly characterized some of the processes which the
untrained mind habitually goes through, we shall have incidentally
arrived at a fair solution of the genesis of mythology.

Let us first note the ease with which the barbaric or uncultivated mind
reaches all manner of apparently fanciful conclusions through reckless
reasoning from analogy. It is through the operation of certain laws of
ideal association that all human thinking, that of the highest as well
as that of the lowest minds, is conducted: the discovery of the law of
gravitation, as well as the invention of such a superstition as the
Hand of Glory, is at bottom but a case of association of ideas. The
difference between the scientific and the mythologic inference consists
solely in the number of checks which in the former case combine to
prevent any other than the true conclusion from being framed into a
proposition to which the mind assents. Countless accumulated experiences
have taught the modern that there are many associations of ideas which
do not correspond to any actual connection of cause and effect in the
world of phenomena; and he has learned accordingly to apply to his newly
framed notions the rigid test of verification. Besides which the same
accumulation of experiences has built up an organized structure of ideal
associations into which only the less extravagant newly framed notions
have any chance of fitting. The primitive man, or the modern savage who
is to some extent his counterpart, must reason without the aid of these
multifarious checks. That immense mass of associations which answer to
what are called physical laws, and which in the mind of the civilized
modern have become almost organic, have not been formed in the mind of
the savage; nor has he learned the necessity of experimentally testing
any of his newly framed notions, save perhaps a few of the commonest.
Consequently there is nothing but superficial analogy to guide the
course of his thought hither or thither, and the conclusions at which he
arrives will be determined by associations of ideas occurring apparently
at haphazard. Hence the quaint or grotesque fancies with which European
and barbaric folk-lore is filled, in the framing of which the myth-maker
was but reasoning according to the best methods at his command. To this
simplest class, in which the association of ideas is determined by mere
analogy, belong such cases as that of the Zulu, who chews a piece of
wood in order to soften the heart of the man with whom he is about
to trade for cows, or the Hessian lad who "thinks he may escape the
conscription by carrying a baby-girl's cap in his pocket,--a symbolic
way of repudiating manhood." [157] A similar style of thinking underlies
the mediaeval necromancer's practice of making a waxen image of his
enemy and shooting at it with arrows, in order to bring about the
enemy's death; as also the case of the magic rod, mentioned in a
previous paper, by means of which a sound thrashing can be administered
to an absent foe through the medium of an old coat which is imagined
to cover him. The principle involved here is one which is doubtless
familiar to most children, and is closely akin to that which Irving so
amusingly illustrates in his doughty general who struts through a field
of cabbages or corn-stalks, smiting them to earth with his cane, and
imagining himself a hero of chivalry conquering single-handed a host of
caitiff ruffians. Of like origin are the fancies that the breaking of
a mirror heralds a death in the family,--probably because of the
destruction of the reflected human image; that the "hair of the dog that
bit you" will prevent hydrophobia if laid upon the wound; or that the
tears shed by human victims, sacrificed to mother earth, will bring down
showers upon the land. Mr. Tylor cites Lord Chesterfield's remark, "that
the king had been ill, and that people generally expected the illness
to be fatal, because the oldest lion in the Tower, about the king's age,
had just died. 'So wild and capricious is the human mind,'" observes
the elegant letter-writer. But indeed, as Mr. Tylor justly remarks, "the
thought was neither wild nor capricious; it was simply such an argument
from analogy as the educated world has at length painfully learned to be
worthless, but which, it is not too much to declare, would to this
day carry considerable weight to the minds of four fifths of the human
race." Upon such symbolism are based most of the practices of divination
and the great pseudo-science of astrology. "It is an old story, that
when two brothers were once taken ill together, Hippokrates, the
physician, concluded from the coincidence that they were twins, but
Poseidonios, the astrologer, considered rather that they were born under
the same constellation; we may add that either argument would be thought
reasonable by a savage." So when a Maori fortress is attacked, the
besiegers and besieged look to see if Venus is near the moon. The moon
represents the fortress; and if it appears below the companion planet,
the besiegers will carry the day, otherwise they will be repulsed.
Equally primitive and childlike was Rousseau's train of thought on the
memorable day at Les Charmettes when, being distressed with doubts as to
the safety of his soul, he sought to determine the point by throwing a
stone at a tree. "Hit, sign of salvation; miss, sign of damnation!"
The tree being a large one and very near at hand, the result of the
experiment was reassuring, and the young philosopher walked away without
further misgivings concerning this momentous question. [158]

When the savage, whose highest intellectual efforts result only in
speculations of this childlike character, is confronted with the
phenomena of dreams, it is easy to see what he will make of them.
His practical knowledge of psychology is too limited to admit of his
distinguishing between the solidity of waking experience and what we may
call the unsubstantialness of the dream. He may, indeed, have learned
that the dream is not to be relied on for telling the truth; the Zulu,
for example, has even reached the perverse triumph of critical logic
achieved by our own Aryan ancestors in the saying that "dreams go by
contraries." But the Zulu has not learned, nor had the primeval Aryan
learned, to disregard the utterances of the dream as being purely
subjective phenomena. To the mind as yet untouched by modern culture,
the visions seen and the voices heard in sleep possess as much objective
reality as the gestures and shouts of waking hours. When the savage
relates his dream, he tells how he SAW certain dogs, dead warriors,
or demons last night, the implication being that the things seen were
objects external to himself. As Mr. Spencer observes, "his rude language
fails to state the difference between seeing and dreaming that he saw,
doing and dreaming that he did. From this inadequacy of his language
it not only results that he cannot truly represent this difference to
others, but also that he cannot truly represent it to himself. Hence in
the absence of an alternative interpretation, his belief, and that of
those to whom he tells his adventures, is that his OTHER SELF has been
away and came back when he awoke. And this belief, which we find among
various existing savage tribes, we equally find in the traditions of the
early civilized races." [159]

Let us consider, for a moment, this assumption of the OTHER SELF, for
upon this is based the great mass of crude inference which constitutes
the primitive man's philosophy of nature. The hypothesis of the OTHER
SELF, which serves to account for the savage's wanderings during sleep
in strange lands and among strange people, serves also to account for
the presence in his dreams of parents, comrades, or enemies, known to be
dead and buried. The other self of the dreamer meets and converses with
the other selves of his dead brethren, joins with them in the hunt, or
sits down with them to the wild cannibal banquet. Thus arises the belief
in an ever-present world of souls or ghosts, a belief which the entire
experience of uncivilized man goes to strengthen and expand. The
existence of some tribe or tribes of savages wholly destitute of
religious belief has often been hastily asserted and as often called in
question. But there is no question that, while many savages are unable
to frame a conception so general as that of godhood, on the other hand
no tribe has ever been found so low in the scale of intelligence as
not to have framed the conception of ghosts or spiritual personalities,
capable of being angered, propitiated, or conjured with. Indeed it is
not improbable a priori that the original inference involved in the
notion of the other self may be sufficiently simple and obvious to fall
within the capacity of animals even less intelligent than uncivilized
man. An authentic case is on record of a Skye terrier who, being
accustomed to obtain favours from his master by sitting on his
haunches, will also sit before his pet india-rubber ball placed on the
chimney-piece, evidently beseeching it to jump down and play with him.
[160] Such a fact as this is quite in harmony with Auguste Comte's
suggestion that such intelligent animals as dogs, apes, and elephants
may be capable of forming a few fetichistic notions. The behaviour of
the terrier here rests upon the assumption that the ball is open to the
same sort of entreaty which prevails with the master; which implies, not
that the wistful brute accredits the ball with a soul, but that in his
mind the distinction between life and inanimate existence has never been
thoroughly established. Just this confusion between things living
and things not living is present throughout the whole philosophy of
fetichism; and the confusion between things seen and things dreamed,
which suggests the notion of another self, belongs to this same
twilight stage of intelligence in which primeval man has not yet clearly
demonstrated his immeasurable superiority to the brutes. [161]

The conception of a soul or other self, capable of going away from
the body and returning to it, receives decisive confirmation from the
phenomena of fainting, trance, catalepsy, and ecstasy, [162] which occur
less rarely among savages, owing to their irregular mode of life, than
among civilized men. "Further verification," observes Mr. Spencer, "is
afforded by every epileptic subject, into whose body, during the absence
of the other self, some enemy has entered; for how else does it happen
that the other self on returning denies all knowledge of what his body
has been doing? And this supposition, that the body has been 'possessed'
by some other being, is confirmed by the phenomena of somnambulism and
insanity." Still further, as Mr. Spencer points out, when we recollect
that savages are very generally unwilling to have their portraits taken,
lest a portion of themselves should get carried off and be exposed to
foul play, [163] we must readily admit that the weird reflection of the
person and imitation of the gestures in rivers or still woodland pools
will go far to intensify the belief in the other self. Less frequent but
uniform confirmation is to be found in echoes, which in Europe within
two centuries have been commonly interpreted as the voices of mocking
fiends or wood-nymphs, and which the savage might well regard as the
utterances of his other self.

With the savage's unwillingness to have his portrait taken, lest it fall
into the hands of some enemy who may injure him by conjuring with it,
may be compared the reluctance which he often shows toward telling
his name, or mentioning the name of his friend, or king, or tutelar
ghost-deity. In fetichistic thought, the name is an entity mysteriously
associated with its owner, and it is not well to run the risk of its
getting into hostile hands. Along with this caution goes the similarly
originated fear that the person whose name is spoken may resent such
meddling with his personality. For the latter reason the Dayak will
not allude by name to the small pox, but will call it "the chief" or
"jungle-leaves"; the Laplander speaks of the bear as the "old man with
the fur coat"; in Annam the tiger is called "grandfather" or "Lord";
while in more civilized communities such sayings are current as "talk
of the Devil, and he will appear," with which we may also compare such
expressions as "Eumenides" or "gracious ones" for the Furies, and other
like euphemisms. Indeed, the maxim nil mortuis nisi bonum had most
likely at one time a fetichistic flavour.

In various islands of the Pacific, for both the reasons above specified,
the name of the reigning chief is so rigorously "tabu," that common
words and even syllables resembling that name in sound must be omitted
from the language. In New Zealand, where a chiefs name was Maripi, or
"knife," it became necessary to call knives nekra; and in Tahiti, fetu,
"star," had to be changed into fetia, and tui, "to strike," became tiai,
etc., because the king's name was Tu. Curious freaks are played with the
languages of these islands by this ever-recurring necessity. Among the
Kafirs the women have come to speak a different dialect from the men,
because words resembling the names of their lords or male relatives are
in like manner "tabu." The student of human culture will trace among
such primeval notions the origin of the Jew's unwillingness to pronounce
the name of Jehovah; and hence we may perhaps have before us the
ultimate source of the horror with which the Hebraizing Puritan regards
such forms of light swearing--"Mon Dieu," etc.--as are still tolerated
on the continent of Europe, but have disappeared from good society in
Puritanic England and America. The reader interested in this group of
ideas and customs may consult Tylor, Early History of Mankind, pp.
142, 363; Max Muller, Science of Language, 6th edition, Vol. II. p. 37;
Mackay, Religious Development of the Greeks and Hebrews, Vol. I. p. 146.

Chamisso's well-known tale of Peter Schlemihl belongs to a widely
diffused family of legends, which show that a man's shadow has been
generally regarded not only as an entity, but as a sort of spiritual
attendant of the body, which under certain circumstances it may
permanently forsake. It is in strict accordance with this idea that not
only in the classic languages, but in various barbaric tongues, the
word for "shadow" expresses also the soul or other self. Tasmanians,
Algonquins, Central-Americans, Abipones, Basutos, and Zulus are cited by
Mr. Tylor as thus implicitly asserting the identity of the shadow with
the ghost or phantasm seen in dreams; the Basutos going so far as to
think "that if a man walks on the river-bank, a crocodile may seize his
shadow in the water and draw him in." Among the Algonquins a sick person
is supposed to have his shadow or other self temporarily detached from
his body, and the convalescent is at times "reproached for exposing
himself before his shadow was safely settled down in him." If the sick
man has been plunged into stupor, it is because his other self has
travelled away as far as the brink of the river of death, but not being
allowed to cross has come back and re-entered him. And acting upon a
similar notion the ailing Fiji will sometimes lie down and raise a hue
and cry for his soul to be brought back. Thus, continues Mr. Tylor, "in
various countries the bringing back of lost souls becomes a regular part
of the sorcerer's or priest's profession." [164] On Aryan soil we find
the notion of a temporary departure of the soul surviving to a late date
in the theory that the witch may attend the infernal Sabbath while her
earthly tabernacle is quietly sleeping at home. The primeval conception
reappears, clothed in bitterest sarcasm, in Dante's reference to his
living contemporaries whose souls he met with in the vaults of hell,
while their bodies were still walking about on the earth, inhabited by

The theory which identifies the soul with the shadow, and supposes the
shadow to depart with the sickness and death of the body, would seem
liable to be attended with some difficulties in the way of verification,
even to the dim intelligence of the savage. But the propriety of
identifying soul and breath is borne out by all primeval experience. The
breath, which really quits the body at its decease, has furnished the
chief name for the soul, not only to the Hebrew, the Sanskrit, and the
classic tongues; not only to German and English, where geist, and ghost,
according to Max Muller, have the meaning of "breath," and are akin
to such words as gas, gust, and geyser; but also to numerous barbaric
languages. Among the natives of Nicaragua and California, in Java and in
West Australia, the soul is described as the air or breeze which
passes in and out through the nostrils and mouth; and the Greenlanders,
according to Cranz, reckon two separate souls, the breath and
the shadow. "Among the Seminoles of Florida, when a woman died in
childbirth, the infant was held over her face to receive her parting
spirit, and thus acquire strength and knowledge for its future use.....
Their state of mind is kept up to this day among Tyrolese peasants, who
can still fancy a good man's soul to issue from his mouth at death like
a little white cloud." [165] It is kept up, too, in Lancashire, where a
well-known witch died a few years since; "but before she could 'shuffle
off this mortal coil' she must needs TRANSFER HER FAMILIAR SPIRIT to
some trusty successor. An intimate acquaintance from a neighbouring
township was consequently sent for in all haste, and on her arrival was
immediately closeted with her dying friend. What passed between them has
never fully transpired, but it is confidently affirmed that at the close
of the interview this associate RECEIVED THE WITCH'S LAST BREATH INTO
ceased to exist, but her powers for good or evil were transferred to her
companion; and on passing along the road from Burnley to Blackburn we
can point out a farmhouse at no great distance with whose thrifty matron
no neighbouring farmer will yet dare to quarrel." [166]

Of the theory of embodiment there will be occasion to speak further on.
At present let us not pass over the fact that the other self is not only
conceived as shadow or breath, which can at times quit the body during
life, but is also supposed to become temporarily embodied in the visible
form of some bird or beast. In discussing elsewhere the myth of Bishop
Hatto, we saw that the soul is sometimes represented in the form of a
rat or mouse; and in treating of werewolves we noticed the belief that
the spirits of dead ancestors, borne along in the night-wind, have
taken on the semblance of howling dogs or wolves. "Consistent with these
quaint ideas are ceremonies in vogue in China of bringing home in a cock
(live or artificial) the spirit of a man deceased in a distant place,
and of enticing into a sick man's coat the departing spirit which has
already left his body and so conveying it back." [167] In Castren's
great work on Finnish mythology, we find the story of the giant who
could not be killed because he kept his soul hidden in a twelve-headed
snake which he carried in a bag as he rode on horseback; only when the
secret was discovered and the snake carefully killed, did the giant
yield up his life. In this Finnish legend we have one of the thousand
phases of the story of the "Giant who had no Heart in his Body," but
whose heart was concealed, for safe keeping, in a duck's egg, or in a
pigeon, carefully disposed in some belfry at the world's end a million
miles away, or encased in a wellnigh infinite series of Chinese boxes.
[168] Since, in spite of all these precautions, the poor giant's heart
invariably came to grief, we need not wonder at the Karen superstition
that the soul is in danger when it quits the body on its excursions, as
exemplified in countless Indo-European stories of the accidental killing
of the weird mouse or pigeon which embodies the wandering spirit.
Conversely it is held that the detachment of the other self is fraught
with danger to the self which remains. In the philosophy of "wraiths"
and "fetches," the appearance of a double, like that which troubled
Mistress Affery in her waking dreams of Mr. Flintwinch, has been from
time out of mind a signal of alarm. "In New Zealand it is ominous to see
the figure of an absent person, for if it be shadowy and the face not
visible, his death may erelong be expected, but if the face be seen he
is dead already. A party of Maoris (one of whom told the story) were
seated round a fire in the open air, when there appeared, seen only by
two of them, the figure of a relative, left ill at home; they exclaimed,
the figure vanished, and on the return of the party it appeared that
the sick man had died about the time of the vision." [169] The belief in
wraiths has survived into modern times, and now and then appears in the
records of that remnant of primeval philosophy known as "spiritualism,"
as, for example, in the case of the lady who "thought she saw her own
father look in at the church-window at the moment he was dying in his
own house."

The belief in the "death-fetch," like the doctrine which identifies
soul with shadow, is instructive as showing that in barbaric thought the
other self is supposed to resemble the material self with which it has
customarily been associated. In various savage superstitions the minute
resemblance of soul to body is forcibly stated. The Australian, for
instance, not content with slaying his enemy, cuts off the right thumb
of the corpse, so that the departed soul may be incapacitated from
throwing a spear. Even the half-civilized Chinese prefer crucifixion
to decapitation, that their souls may not wander headless about the
spirit-world. [171] Thus we see how far removed from the Christian
doctrine of souls is the primeval theory of the soul or other self
that figures in dreamland. So grossly materialistic is the primitive
conception that the savage who cherishes it will bore holes in the
coffin of his dead friend, so that the soul may again have a chance, if
it likes, to revisit the body. To this day, among the peasants in some
parts of Northern Europe, when Odin, the spectral hunter, rides by
attended by his furious host, the windows in every sick-room are opened,
in order that the soul, if it chooses to depart, may not be hindered
from joining in the headlong chase. And so, adds Mr. Tylor, after
the Indians of North America had spent a riotous night in singeing an
unfortunate captive to death with firebrands, they would howl like the
fiends they were, and beat the air with brushwood, to drive away the
distressed and revengeful ghost. "With a kindlier feeling, the Congo
negroes abstained for a whole year after a death from sweeping the
house, lest the dust should injure the delicate substance of the ghost";
and even now, "it remains a German peasant saying that it is wrong
to slam a door, lest one should pinch a soul in it." [172] Dante's
experience with the ghosts in hell and purgatory, who were astonished at
his weighing down the boat in which they were carried, is belied by the
sweet German notion "that the dead mother's coming back in the night to
suckle the baby she has left on earth may be known by the hollow pressed
down in the bed where she lay." Almost universally ghosts, however
impervious to thrust of sword or shot of pistol, can eat and drink like
Squire Westerns. And lastly, we have the grotesque conception of souls
sufficiently material to be killed over again, as in the case of the
negro widows who, wishing to marry a second time, will go and duck
themselves in the pond, in order to drown the souls of their departed
husbands, which are supposed to cling about their necks; while,
according to the Fiji theory, the ghost of every dead warrior must go
through a terrible fight with Samu and his brethren, in which, if he
succeeds, he will enter Paradise, but if he fails he will be killed over
again and finally eaten by the dreaded Samu and his unearthly company.

From the conception of souls embodied in beast-forms, as above
illustrated, it is not a wide step to the conception of beast-souls
which, like human souls, survive the death of the tangible body. The
wide-spread superstitions concerning werewolves and swan-maidens, and
the hardly less general belief in metempsychosis, show that primitive
culture has not arrived at the distinction attained by modern philosophy
between the immortal man and the soulless brute. Still more direct
evidence is furnished by sundry savage customs. The Kafir who has
killed an elephant will cry that he did n't mean to do it, and, lest the
elephant's soul should still seek vengeance, he will cut off and bury
the trunk, so that the mighty beast may go crippled to the spirit-land.
In like manner, the Samoyeds, after shooting a bear, will gather about
the body offering excuses and laying the blame on the Russians; and the
American redskin will even put the pipe of peace into the dead animal's
mouth, and beseech him to forgive the deed. In Assam it is believed that
the ghosts of slain animals will become in the next world the property
of the hunter who kills them; and the Kamtchadales expressly declare
that all animals, even flies and bugs, will live after death,--a belief,
which, in our own day, has been indorsed on philosophical grounds by an
eminent living naturalist. [173] The Greenlanders, too, give evidence
of the same belief by supposing that when after an exhausting fever the
patient comes up in unprecedented health and vigour, it is because he
has lost his former soul and had it replaced by that of a young child
or a reindeer. In a recent work in which the crudest fancies of primeval
savagery are thinly disguised in a jargon learned from the superficial
reading of modern books of science, M. Figuier maintains that human
souls are for the most part the surviving souls of deceased animals; in
general, the souls of precocious musical children like Mozart come from
nightingales, while the souls of great architects have passed into them
from beavers, etc., etc. [174]

The practice of begging pardon of the animal one has just slain is in
some parts of the world extended to the case of plants. When the
Talein offers a prayer to the tree which he is about to cut down, it is
obviously because he regards the tree as endowed with a soul or ghost
which in the next life may need to be propitiated. And the doctrine of
transmigration distinctly includes plants along with animals among the
future existences into which the human soul may pass.

As plants, like animals, manifest phenomena of life, though to a much
less conspicuous degree, it is not incomprehensible that the
savage should attribute souls to them. But the primitive process of
anthropomorphisation does not end here. Not only the horse and dog,
the bamboo, and the oak-tree, but even lifeless objects, such as the
hatchet, or bow and arrows, or food and drink of the dead man, possess
other selves which pass into the world of ghosts. Fijis and other
contemporary savages, when questioned, expressly declare that this is
their belief. "If an axe or a chisel is worn out or broken up, away
flies its soul for the service of the gods." The Algonquins told
Charlevoix that since hatchets and kettles have shadows, no less than
men and women, it follows, of course, that these shadows (or souls) must
pass along with human shadows (or souls) into the spirit-land. In this
we see how simple and consistent is the logic which guides the savage,
and how inevitable is the genesis of the great mass of beliefs, to our
minds so arbitrary and grotesque, which prevail throughout the barbaric
world. However absurd the belief that pots and kettles have souls
may seem to us, it is nevertheless the only belief which can be held
consistently by the savage to whom pots and kettles, no less than human
friends or enemies, may appear in his dreams; who sees them followed
by shadows as they are moved about; who hears their voices, dull
or ringing, when they are struck; and who watches their doubles
fantastically dancing in the water as they are carried across the
stream. [175] To minds, even in civilized countries, which are unused to
the severe training of science, no stronger evidence can be alleged
than what is called "the evidence of the senses"; for it is only long
familiarity with science which teaches us that the evidence of the
senses is trustworthy only in so far as it is correctly interpreted by
reason. For the truth of his belief in the ghosts of men and beasts,
trees and axes, the savage has undeniably the evidence of his senses
which have so often seen, heard, and handled these other selves.

The funeral ceremonies of uncultured races freshly illustrate this crude
philosophy, and receive fresh illustration from it. On the primitive
belief in the ghostly survival of persons and objects rests the almost
universal custom of sacrificing the wives, servants, horses, and dogs of
the departed chief of the tribe, as well as of presenting at his shrine
sacred offerings of food, ornaments, weapons, and money. Among the
Kayans the slaves who are killed at their master's tomb are enjoined to
take great care of their master's ghost, to wash and shampoo it, and to
nurse it when sick. Other savages think that "all whom they kill in this
world shall attend them as slaves after death," and for this reason the
thrifty Dayaks of Borneo until lately would not allow their young men to
marry until they had acquired some post mortem property by procuring at
least one human head. It is hardly necessary to do more than allude
to the Fiji custom of strangling all the wives of the deceased at his
funeral, or to the equally well-known Hindu rite of suttee. Though, as
Wilson has shown, the latter rite is not supported by any genuine Vedic
authority, but only by a shameless Brahmanic corruption of the sacred
text, Mr. Tylor is nevertheless quite right in arguing that unless the
horrible custom had received the sanction of a public opinion bequeathed
from pre-Vedic times, the Brahmans would have had no motive for
fraudulently reviving it; and this opinion is virtually established
by the fact of the prevalence of widow sacrifice among Gauls,
Scandinavians, Slaves, and other European Aryans. [176] Though under
English rule the rite has been forcibly suppressed, yet the archaic
sentiments which so long maintained it are not yet extinct. Within the
present year there has appeared in the newspapers a not improbable story
of a beautiful and accomplished Hindu lady who, having become the wife
of a wealthy Englishman, and after living several years in England amid
the influences of modern society, nevertheless went off and privately
burned herself to death soon after her husband's decease.

The reader who thinks it far-fetched to interpret funeral offerings of
food, weapons, ornaments, or money, on the theory of object-souls, will
probably suggest that such offerings may be mere memorials of affection
or esteem for the dead man. Such, indeed, they have come to be in many
countries after surviving the phase of culture in which they originated;
but there is ample evidence to show that at the outset they were
presented in the belief that their ghosts would be eaten or otherwise
employed by the ghost of the dead man. The stout club which is buried
with the dead Fiji sends its soul along with him that he may be able to
defend himself against the hostile ghosts which will lie in ambush for
him on the road to Mbulu, seeking to kill and eat him. Sometimes the
club is afterwards removed from the grave as of no further use, since
its ghost is all that the dead man needs. In like manner, "as the Greeks
gave the dead man the obolus for Charon's toll, and the old Prussians
furnished him with spending money, to buy refreshment on his weary
journey, so to this day German peasants bury a corpse with money in
his mouth or hand," and this is also said to be one of the regular
ceremonies of an Irish wake. Of similar purport were the funeral feasts
and oblations of food in Greece and Italy, the "rice-cakes made with
ghee" destined for the Hindu sojourning in Yama's kingdom, and the meat
and gruel offered by the Chinaman to the manes of his ancestors. "Many
travellers have described the imagination with which the Chinese
make such offerings. It is that the spirits of the dead consume the
impalpable essence of the food, leaving behind its coarse material
substance, wherefore the dutiful sacrificers, having set out sumptuous
feasts for ancestral souls, allow them a proper time to satisfy
their appetite, and then fall to themselves." [177] So in the Homeric
sacrifice to the gods, after the deity has smelled the sweet savour
and consumed the curling steam that rises ghost-like from the roasting
viands, "the assembled warriors devour the remains." [178]

Thus far the course of fetichistic thought which we have traced out,
with Mr. Tylor's aid, is such as is not always obvious to the modern
inquirer without considerable concrete illustration. The remainder
of the process, resulting in that systematic and complete
anthropomorphisation of nature which has given rise to mythology, may
be more succinctly described. Gathering together the conclusions already
obtained, we find that daily or frequent experience of the phenomena
of shadows and dreams has combined with less frequent experience of the
phenomena of trance, ecstasy, and insanity, to generate in the mind of
uncultured man the notion of a twofold existence appertaining alike to
all animate or inanimate objects: as all alike possess material
bodies, so all alike possess ghosts or souls. Now when the theory
of object-souls is expanded into a general doctrine of spirits, the
philosophic scheme of animism is completed. Once habituated to the
conception of souls of knives and tobacco-pipes passing to the land
of ghosts, the savage cannot avoid carrying the interpretation still
further, so that wind and water, fire and storm, are accredited with
indwelling spirits akin by nature to the soul which inhabits the human
frame. That the mighty spirit or demon by whose impelling will the
trees are rooted up and the storm-clouds driven across the sky should
resemble a freed human soul, is a natural inference, since uncultured
man has not attained to the conception of physical force acting in
accordance with uniform methods, and hence all events are to his mind
the manifestations of capricious volition. If the fire burns down his
hut, it is because the fire is a person with a soul, and is angry with
him, and needs to be coaxed into a kindlier mood by means of prayer or
sacrifice. Thus the savage has a priori no alternative but to regard
fire-soul as something akin to human-soul; and in point of fact we find
that savage philosophy makes no distinction between the human ghost
and the elemental demon or deity. This is sufficiently proved by
the universal prevalence of the worship of ancestors. The essential
principle of manes-worship is that the tribal chief or patriarch, who
has governed the community during life, continues also to govern it
after death, assisting it in its warfare with hostile tribes, rewarding
brave warriors, and punishing traitors and cowards. Thus from the
conception of the living king we pass to the notion of what Mr. Spencer
calls "the god-king," and thence to the rudimentary notion of deity.
Among such higher savages as the Zulus, the doctrine of divine ancestors
has been developed to the extent of recognizing a first ancestor, the
Great Father, Unkulunkulu, who made the world. But in the stratum of
savage thought in which barbaric or Aryan folk-lore is for the most part
based, we find no such exalted speculation. The ancestors of the rude
Veddas and of the Guinea negroes, the Hindu pitris (patres, "fathers"),
and the Roman manes have become elemental deities which send rain or
sunshine, health or sickness, plenty or famine, and to which their
living offspring appeal for guidance amid the vicissitudes of life.
[179] The theory of embodiment, already alluded to, shows how thoroughly
the demons which cause disease are identified with human and object
souls. In Australasia it is a dead man's ghost which creeps up into
the liver of the impious wretch who has ventured to pronounce his
name; while conversely in the well-known European theory of demoniacal
possession, it is a fairy from elf-land, or an imp from hell, which
has entered the body of the sufferer. In the close kinship, moreover,
between disease-possession and oracle-possession, where the body of the
Pythia, or the medicine-man, is placed under the direct control of
some great deity, [180] we may see how by insensible transitions
the conception of the human ghost passes into the conception of the
spiritual numen, or divinity.

To pursue this line of inquiry through the countless nymphs and dryads
and nixies of the higher nature-worship up to the Olympian divinities
of classic polytheism, would be to enter upon the history of religious
belief, and in so doing to lose sight of our present purpose, which has
merely been to show by what mental process the myth-maker can speak
of natural objects in language which implies that they are animated
persons. Brief as our account of this process has been, I believe
that enough has been said, not only to reveal the inadequacy of purely
philological solutions (like those contained in Max Muller's famous
Essay) to explain the growth of myths, but also to exhibit the vast
importance for this purpose of the kind of psychological inquiry into
the mental habits of savages which Mr. Tylor has so ably conducted.
Indeed, however lacking we may still be in points of detail, I think we
have already reached a very satisfactory explanation of the genesis of
mythology. Since the essential characteristic of a myth is that it is
an attempt to explain some natural phenomenon by endowing with human
feelings and capacities the senseless factors in the phenomenon, and
since it has here been shown how uncultured man, by the best use he can
make of his rude common sense, must inevitably come, and has invariably
come, to regard all objects as endowed with souls, and all nature as
peopled with supra-human entities shaped after the general pattern of
the human soul, I am inclined to suspect that we have got very near to
the root of the whole matter. We can certainly find no difficulty in
seeing why a water-spout should be described in the "Arabian Nights" as
a living demon: "The sea became troubled before them, and there arose
from it a black pillar, ascending towards the sky, and approaching the
meadow,.... and behold it was a Jinni, of gigantic stature." We can see
why the Moslem camel-driver should find it most natural to regard the
whirling simoom as a malignant Jinni; we may understand how it is that
the Persian sees in bodily shape the scarlet fever as "a blushing maid
with locks of flame and cheeks all rosy red"; and we need not consider
it strange that the primeval Aryan should have regarded the sun as a
voyager, a climber, or an archer, and the clouds as cows driven by the
wind-god Hermes to their milking. The identification of William Tell
with the sun becomes thoroughly intelligible; nor can we be longer
surprised at the conception of the howling night-wind as a ravenous
wolf. When pots and kettles are thought to have souls that live
hereafter, there is no difficulty in understanding how the blue sky can
have been regarded as the sire of gods and men. And thus, as the elves
and bogarts of popular lore are in many cases descended from ancient
divinities of Olympos and Valhalla, so these in turn must acknowledge
their ancestors in the shadowy denizens of the primeval ghost-world.

August, 1872.


THE following are some of the modern works most likely to be of use to
the reader who is interested in the legend of William Tell.

HISELY, J. J. Dissertatio historiea inauguralis de Oulielmo Tellio, etc.
Groningae, 1824.

IDELER, J. L. Die Sage von dem Schuss des Tell. Berlin, 1836.

HAUSSER, L. Die Sage von Tell aufs Neue kritisch untersucht. Heidelberg,

HISELY, J. J. Recherches critiques sur l'histoire de Guillaume Tell.
Lausanne, 1843.

LIEBENAU, H. Die Tell-Sage zu dem Jahre 1230 historisoh nach neuesten
Quellen. Aarau, 1864.

VISCHER, W. Die Sage von der Befreinng der Waldstatte, etc. Nebst einer
Beilage: das alteste Tellensehauspiel. Leipzig, 1867.

BORDIER, H. L. Le Grutli et Guillaume Tell, ou defense de la tradition
vulgaire sur les origines de la confederation suisse. Geneve et Bale,

The same. La querelle sur les traditions concernant l'origine de la
confederation suisse. Geneve et Bale, 1869.

RILLIET, A. Les origines de la confederation suisse: histoire et
legende. 2eS ed., revue et corrigee. Geneve et Bale, 1869.

The same. Lettre a M. Henri Bordier a propos de sa defense de la
tradition vulgaire sur les origines de la confederation suisse. Geneve
et Bale, 1869.

HUNGERBUHLER, H. Etude critique sur les traditions relatives aux
origines de la confederation suisse. Geneve et Bale, 1869.

MEYER, KARL. Die Tellsage. [In Bartsch, Germanistische Studien, I.
159-170. Wien, 1872.]

See also the articles by M. Scherer, in Le Temps, 18 Feb., 1868; by M.
Reuss, in the Revue critique d'histoire, 1868; by M. de Wiss, in the
Journal de Geneve, 7 July, 1868; also Revue critique, 17 July, 1869;
Journal de Geneve, 24 Oct., 1868; Gazette de Lausanne, feuilleton
litteraire, 2-5 Nov., 1868, "Les origines de la confederation suisse,"
par M. Secretan; Edinburgh Review, Jan., 1869, "The Legend of Tell and


[Footnote 1: See Delepierre, Historical Difficulties, p. 75.]

[Footnote 2: Saxo Grammaticus, Bk. X. p. 166, ed. Frankf. 1576.]

[Footnote 3: According to Mr. Isaac Taylor, the name is really derived
from "St. Celert, a Welsh saint of the fifth century, to whom the church
of Llangeller is consecrated." (Words and Places, p. 339.)]

[Footnote 4: Compare Krilof's story of the Gnat and the Shepherd, in
Mr. Ralston's excellent version, Krilof and his Fables, p. 170. Many
parallel examples are cited by Mr. Baring-Gould, Curious Myths, Vol. I.
pp. 126-136. See also the story of Folliculus,--Swan, Gesta Romanorum,
ad. Wright, Vol. I. p. lxxxii]

[Footnote 5: See Cox, Mythology of the Aryan Nations, Vol. I. pp.

[Footnote 6: The same incident occurs in the Arabian story of
Seyf-el-Mulook and Bedeea-el-Jemal, where the Jinni's soul is enclosed
in the crop of a sparrow, and the sparrow imprisoned in a small box, and
this enclosed in another small box, and this again in seven other boxes,
which are put into seven chests, contained in a coffer of marble, which
is sunk in the ocean that surrounds the world. Seyf-el-Mulook raises
the coffer by the aid of Suleyman's seal-ring, and having extricated the
sparrow, strangles it, whereupon the Jinni's body is converted into
a heap of black ashes, and Seyf-el-Mulook escapes with the maiden
Dolet-Khatoon. See Lane's Arabian Nights, Vol. III. p. 316.]

[Footnote 7: The same incident is repeated in the story of Hassan of
El-Basrah. See Lane's Arabian Nights, Vol. III p. 452.]

[Footnote 8: "Retrancher le merveilleux d'un mythe, c'est le
supprimer."--Breal, Hercule et Cacus, p. 50.]

[Footnote 9: "No distinction between the animate and inanimate is made
in the languages of the Eskimos, the Choctaws, the Muskoghee, and the
Caddo. Only the Iroquois, Cherokee, and the Algonquin-Lenape have it, so
far as is known, and with them it is partial." According to the Fijians,
"vegetables and stones, nay, even tools and weapons, pots and canoes,
have souls that are immortal, and that, like the souls of men, pass on
at last to Mbulu, the abode of departed spirits."--M'Lennan, The Worship
of Animals and Plants, Fortnightly Review, Vol. XII. p, 416.]

[Footnote 10: Marcus Aurelius, V. 7.]

[Footnote 11: Some of these etymologies are attacked by Mr. Mahaffy in
his Prolegomena to Ancient History, p. 49. After long consideration I am
still disposed to follow Max Muller in adopting them, with the possible
exception of Achilleus. With Mr. Mahaffy s suggestion (p. 52) that many
of the Homeric legends may have clustered around some historical basis,
I fully agree; as will appear, further on, from my paper on "Juventus

[Footnote 12: Les facultes qui engendrent la mythologie sont les memes
que celles qui engendront la philosophie, et ce n'est pas sans raison
que l'Inde et la Grece nous presentent le phenomene de la plus riche
mythologie a cote de la plus profonde metaphysique. "La conception de
la multiplicite dans l'univers, c'est le polytheisme chez les peuples
enfants; c'est la science chez les peuples arrives a l'age mur."--Renan,
Hist. des Langues Semitiques, Tom. I. p. 9.]

[Footnote 13: Cases coming under this head are discussed further on, in
my paper on "Myths of the Barbaric World."]

[Footnote 14: A collection of these interesting legends may be found in
Baring-Gould's "Curious Myths of the Middle Ages," of which work this
paper was originally a review.]

[Footnote 15: See Procopius, De Bello Gothico, IV. 20; Villemarque,
Barzas Breiz, I. 136. As a child I was instructed by an old nurse that
Vas Diemen's Land is the home of ghosts and departed spirits.]

[Footnote 16: Baring-Gould, Curious Myths, Vol. I. p. 197.]

[Footnote 17: Hence perhaps the adage, "Always remember to pay the

[Footnote 18: And it reappears as the mysterious lyre of the Gaelic
musician, who

     "Could harp a fish out o' the water,
     Or bluid out of a stane,
     Or milk out of a maiden's breast,
     That bairns had never nane."]

[Footnote 19: Baring-Gould, Curious Myths, Vol. II. p. 159.]

[Footnote 20: Perhaps we may trace back to this source the frantic
terror which Irish servant-girls often manifest at sight of a mouse.]

[Footnote 21: In Persia a dog is brought to the bedside of the person
who is dying, in order that the soul may be sure of a prompt escort. The
same custom exists in India. Breal, Hercule et Cacus, p. 123.]

[Footnote 22: The Devil, who is proverbially "active in a gale of wind,"
is none other than Hermes.]

[Footnote 23: "Il faut que la coeur devienne ancien parmi les aneiennes
choses, et la plenitude de l'histoire ne se devoile qu'a celui qui
descend, ainsi dispose, dans le passe. Mais il faut que l'esprit demeure
moderne, et n'oublie jamais qu'il n'y a pour lui d'autre foi que la foi

[Footnote 24: For an admirable example of scientific self-analysis
tracing one of these illusions to its psychological sources, see
the account of Dr. Lazarus, in Taine, De l'Intelligence, Vol. I. pp.

[Footnote 25: See the story of Aymar in Baring-Gould, Curious Myths,
Vol. I. pp. 57-77. The learned author attributes the discomfiture to
the uncongenial Parisian environment; which is a style of reasoning much
like that of my village sorcerer, I fear.]

[Footnote 26: Kelly, Indo-European Folk-Lore, p. 177.]

[Footnote 27: The story of the luck-flower is well told in verse by Mr.
Baring Gould, in his Silver Store, p. 115, seq.]

[Footnote 28: 1 Kings vi. 7.]

[Footnote 29: Compare the Mussulman account of the building of the
temple, in Baring-Gould, Legends of the Patriarchs and Prophets,
pp. 337, 338. And see the story of Diocletian's ostrich, Swan, Gesta
Romanorum, ed. Wright, Vol I. p. lxiv. See also the pretty story of the
knight unjustly imprisoned, id. p. cii.]

[Footnote 30: "We have the receipt of fern-seed. We walk invisible."
--Shakespeare, Henry IV. See Ralston, Songs of the Russian People, p. 98]

[Footnote 31: Henderson, Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England,
p. 202]

[Footnote 32: Kuhn, Die Herabkunft des Feuers und des Gottertranks.
Berlin, 1859.]

[Footnote 33: "Saga me forwhan byth seo sunne read on aefen? Ic the
secge, forthon heo locath on helle.--Tell me, why is the sun red at
even? I tell thee, because she looketh on hell." Thorpe, Analecta
Anglo-Saxonica, p. 115, apud Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. II. p. 63.
Barbaric thought had partly anticipated my childish theory.]

[Footnote 34: "Still in North Germany does the peasant say of thunder,
that the angels are playing skittles aloft, and of the snow, that they
are shaking up the feather beds in heaven."--Baring-Gould, Book of
Werewolves, p. 172.]

[Footnote 35: "The Polynesians imagine that the sky descends at the
horizon and encloses the earth. Hence they call foreigners papalangi, or
'heaven-bursters,' as having broken in from another world outside."--Max
Muller, Chips, II. 268.]

[Footnote 36: "--And said the gods, let there be a hammered plate in the
midst of the waters, and let it be dividing between waters and waters."
Genesis i. 6.]

[Footnote 37: Genesis vii. 11.]

[Footnote 38: See Kelly, Indo-European Folk-Lore, p 120; who states also
that in Bengal the Garrows burn their dead in a small boat, placed on
top of the funeral-pile. In their character of cows, also, the clouds
were regarded as psychopomps; and hence it is still a popular
superstition that a cow breaking into the yard foretokens a death
in the family.]

[Footnote 39: The sun-god Freyr had a cloud-ship called Skithblathnir,
which is thus described in Dasent's Prose Edda: "She is so great, that
all the AEsir, with their weapons and war-gear, may find room on board
her"; but "when there is no need of faring on the sea in her, she is
made.... with so much craft that Freyr may fold her together like a
cloth, and keep her in his bag." This same virtue was possessed by the
fairy pavilion which the Peri Banou gave to Ahmed; the cloud which is no
bigger than a man's hand may soon overspread the whole heaven, and shade
the Sultan's army from the solar rays.]

[Footnote 40: Euhemerism has done its best with this bird, representing
it as an immense vulture or condor or as a reminiscence of the extinct
dodo. But a Chinese myth, cited by Klaproth, well preserves its true
character when it describes it as "a bird which in flying obscures
the sun, and of whose quills are made water-tuns." See Nouveau Journal
Asiatique, Tom. XII. p. 235. The big bird in the Norse tale of the "Blue
Belt" belongs to the same species.]

[Footnote 41: Baring-Gould, Curious Myths, Vol. II. p. 146. Compare
Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. II. p. 237, seq.]

[Footnote 42: "If Polyphemos's eye be the sun, then Odysseus, the solar
hero, extinguishes himself, a very primitive instance of suicide."
Mahaffy, Prolegomena, p. 57. See also Brown, Poseidon, pp. 39, 40.
This objection would be relevant only in case Homer were supposed to be
constructing an allegory with entire knowledge of its meaning. It has no
validity whatever when we recollect that Homer could have known nothing
of the incongruity.]

[Footnote 43: The Sanskrit myth-teller indeed mixes up his materials in
a way which seems ludicrous to a Western reader. He describes Indra (the
sun-god) as not only cleaving the cloud-mountains with his sword, but
also cutting off their wings and hurling them from the sky. See Burnouf,
Bhagavata Purana, VI. 12, 26.]

[Footnote 44: Mr. Tylor offers a different, and possibly a better,
explanation of the Symplegades as the gates of Night through which
the solar ship, having passed successfully once, may henceforth pass
forever. See the details of the evidence in his Primitive Culture, I.

[Footnote 45: The Sanskrit parvata, a bulging or inflated body, means
both "cloud" and "mountain." "In the Edda, too, the rocks, said to have
been fashioned out of Ymir's bones, are supposed to be intended for
clouds. In Old Norse Klakkr means both cloud and rock; nay, the English
word CLOUD itself has been identified with the Anglo-Saxon clud, rock.
See Justi, Orient und Occident, Vol. II. p. 62." Max Muller, Rig-Veda,
Vol. 1. p. 44.]

[Footnote 46: In accordance with the mediaeval "doctrine of signatures,"
it was maintained "that the hard, stony seeds of the Gromwell must be
good for gravel, and the knotty tubers of scrophularia for scrofulous
glands; while the scaly pappus of scaliosa showed it to be a specific
in leprous diseases, the spotted leaves of pulmonaria that it was a
sovereign remedy for tuberculous lungs, and the growth of saxifrage in
the fissures of rocks that it would disintegrate stone in the bladder."
Prior, Popular Names of British Plants, Introd., p. xiv. See also
Chapiel, La Doctrine des Signatures. Paris, 1866.]

[Footnote 47: Indeed, the wish-bone, or forked clavicle of a fowl,
itself belongs to the same family of talismans as the divining-rod.]

[Footnote 48: The ash, on the other hand, has been from time immemorial
used for spears in many parts of the Aryan domain. The word oesc meant,
in Anglo-Saxon, indifferently "ash-tree," or "spear"; and the same is,
or has been, true of the French fresne and the Greek melia. The root of
oesc appears in the Sanskrit as, "to throw" or "lance," whence asa, "a
bow," and asana, "an arrow." See Pictet, Origines Indo-Europeennes, I.

[Footnote 49: Compare Spenser's story of Sir Guyon, in the "Faery
Queen," where, however, the knight fares better than this poor priest.
Usually these lightning-caverns were like Ixion's treasure-house, into
which none might look and live. This conception is the foundation of
part of the story of Blue-Beard and of the Arabian tale of the third
one-eyed Calender]

[Footnote 50: Cox, Mythology of the Aryan Nations, Vol. 1. p. 161.]

[Footnote 51: Kelly, Indo-European Folk-Lore, pp. 147, 183, 186, 193.]

[Footnote 52: Brinton, Myths of the New World, p. 151.]

[Footnote 53: Callaway, Zulu Nursery Tales, I. 173, Note 12.]

[Footnote 54: Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 238; Primitive
Culture, Vol. II. p. 254; Darwin, Naturalist's Voyage, p. 409.]

[Footnote 55: The production of fire by the drill is often called
churning, e. g. "He took the uvati [chark], and sat down and churned it,
and kindled a fire." Callaway, Zulu Nursery Tales, I. 174.]

[Footnote 56: Kelly, Indo-European Folk-Lore, p. 39. Burnouf, Bhagavata
Purana, VIII. 6, 32.]

[Footnote 57: Baring-Gould, Curious Myths, p. 149.]

[Footnote 58: It is also the regenerating water of baptism, and the
"holy water" of the Roman Catholic.]

[Footnote 59: In the Vedas the rain-god Soma, originally the
personification of the sacrificial ambrosia, is the deity who imparts to
men life, knowledge, and happiness. See Breal, Hercule et Cacus, p. 85.
Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. II. p. 277.]

[Footnote 60: We may, perhaps, see here the reason for making the Greek
fire-god Hephaistos the husband of Aphrodite.]

[Footnote 61: "Our country maidens are well aware that triple leaves
plucked at hazard from the common ash are worn in the breast, for the
purpose of causing prophetic dreams respecting a dilatory lover.
The leaves of the yellow trefoil are supposed to possess similar
virtues."--Harland and Wilkinson, Lancashire Folk-Lore, p. 20.]

[Footnote 62: In Peru, a mighty and far-worshipped deity was Catequil,
the thunder-god,.... "he who in thunder-flash and clap hurls from his
sling the small, round, smooth thunder-stones, treasured in the villages
as fire-fetishes and charms to kindle the flames of love."--Tylor, op.
cit. Vol. II. p. 239]

[Footnote 63: In Polynesia, "the great deity Maui adds a new
complication to his enigmatic solar-celestial character by appearing as
a wind-god."--Tylor, op. cit. Vol. II. p. 242.]

[Footnote 64: Compare Plato, Republic, VIII. 15.]

[Footnote 65: Were-wolf = man-wolf, wer meaning "man." Garou is a
Gallic corruption of werewolf, so that loup-garou is a tautological

[Footnote 66: Meyer, in Bunsen's Philosophy of Universal History, Vol.
I. p. 151.]

[Footnote 67: Aimoin, De Gestis Francorum, II. 5.]

[Footnote 68: Taylor, Words and Places, p. 393.]

[Footnote 69: Very similar to this is the etymological confusion upon
which is based the myth of the "confusion of tongues" in the eleventh
chapter of Genesis. The name "Babel" is really Bab-Il, or "the gate of
God"; but the Hebrew writer erroneously derives the word from the root
balal, "to confuse"; and hence arises the mythical explanation,--that
Babel was a place where human speech became confused. See Rawlinson,
in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. I. p. 149; Renan, Histoire des
Langues Semitiques, Vol. I. p. 32; Donaldson, New Cratylus, p. 74, note;
Colenso on the Pentateuch, Vol. IV. p. 268.]

[Footnote 70: Vilg. AEn. VIII. 322. With Latium compare plat?s, Skr.
prath (to spread out), Eng. flat. Ferrar, Comparative Grammar of Greek,
Latin, and Sanskrit, Vol. I. p. 31.]

[Footnote 71: M`Lennan, "The Worship of Animals and Plants," Fortnightly
Review, N. S. Vol. VI. pp. 407-427, 562-582, Vol. VII. pp 194-216;
Spencer, "The Origin of Animal Worship," Id. Vol. VII. pp. 535-550,
reprinted in his Recent Discussions in Science, etc., pp. 31-56.]

[Footnote 72: Thus is explained the singular conduct of the Hindu, who
slays himself before his enemy's door, in order to acquire greater power
of injuring him. "A certain Brahman, on whose lands a Kshatriya raja had
built a house, ripped himself up in revenge, and became a demon of the
kind called Brahmadasyu, who has been ever since the terror of the whole
country, and is the most common village-deity in Kharakpur. Toward the
close of the last century there were two Brahmans, out of whose house a
man had wrongfully, as they thought, taken forty rupees; whereupon one
of the Brahmans proceeded to cut off his own mother's head, with the
professed view, entertained by both mother and son, that her spirit,
excited by the beating of a large drum during forty days might haunt,
torment, and pursue to death the taker of their money and those
concerned with him." Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. II. p. 103.]

[Footnote 73: Hence, in many parts of Europe, it is still customary to
open the windows when a person dies, in order that the soul may not be
hindered in joining the mystic cavalcade.]

[Footnote 74: The story of little Red Riding-Hood is "mutilated in the
English version, but known more perfectly by old wives in Germany, who
can tell that the lovely little maid in her shining red satin cloak was
swallowed with her grandmother by the wolf, till they both came out safe
and sound when the hunter cut open the sleeping beast." Tylor, Primitive
Culture, I. 307, where also see the kindred Russian story of Vasilissa
the Beautiful. Compare the case of Tom Thumb, who "was swallowed by the
cow and came out unhurt"; the story of Saktideva swallowed by the fish
and cut out again, in Somadeva Bhatta, II. 118-184; and the story
of Jonah swallowed by the whale, in the Old Testament. All these
are different versions of the same myth, and refer to the alternate
swallowing up and casting forth of Day by Night, which is commonly
personified as a wolf, and now and then as a great fish. Compare Grimm's
story of the Wolf and Seven Kids, Tylor, loc. cit., and see Early
History of Mankind, p. 337; Hardy, Manual of Budhism, p. 501.]

[Footnote 75: Baring-Gould, Book of Werewolves, p. 178; Muir, Sanskrit
Texts, II. 435.]

[Footnote 76: In those days even an after-dinner nap seems to have been
thought uncanny. See Dasent, Burnt Njal, I. xxi.]

[Footnote 77: See Dasent, Burnt Njai, Vol. I. p. xxii.; Grettis Saga, by
Magnusson and Morris, chap. xix.; Viga Glum's Saga, by Sir Edmund Head,
p. 13, note, where the Berserkers are said to have maddened themselves
with drugs. Dasent compares them with the Malays, who work themselves
into a frenzy by means of arrack, or hasheesh, and run amuck.]

[Footnote 78: Baring-Gould, Werewolves, p. 81.]

[Footnote 79: Baring-Gould, op. cit. chap. xiv.]

[Footnote 80: Baring-Gould, op. cit. p. 82.]

[Footnote 81: Kennedy, Fictions of the Irish Celts, p. 90.]

[Footnote 82: "En 1541, a Padoue, dit Wier, un homme qui se croyait
change en loup courait la campagne, attaquant et mettant a mort ceux
qu'il rencontrait. Apres bien des difficultes, on parvint s'emparer de
lui. Il dit en confidence a ceux qui l'arreterent: Je suis vraiment
un loup, et si ma peau ne parait pas etre celle d'un loup, c'est parce
qu'elle est retournee et que les poils sont en dedans.--Pour s'assurer
du fait, on coupa le malheureux aux differentes parties du corps, on lui
emporta les bras et les jambes."--Taine, De l'Intelligence, Tom. II.
p. 203. See the account of Slavonic werewolves in Ralston, Songs of the
Russian People, pp. 404-418.]

[Footnote 83: Mr. Cox, whose scepticism on obscure points in history
rather surpasses that of Sir G. C. Lewis, dismisses with a sneer
the subject of the Berserker madness, observing that "the unanimous
testimony of the Norse historians is worth as much and as little as the
convictions of Glanvil and Hale on the reality of witchcraft." I have
not the special knowledge requisite for pronouncing an opinion on this
point, but Mr. Cox's ordinary methods of disposing of such questions
are not such as to make one feel obliged to accept his bare assertion,
unaccompanied by critical arguments. The madness of the bearsarks may,
no doubt, be the same thing us the frenzy of Herakles; but something
more than mere dogmatism is needed to prove it.]

[Footnote 84: Williams, Superstitions of Witchcraft, p. 179. See a
parallel case of a cat-woman, in Thorpe's Northern Mythology, II. 26.
"Certain witches at Thurso for a long time tormented an honest fellow
under the usual form of cats, till one night he put them to flight with
his broadsword, and cut off the leg of one less nimble than the rest;
taking it up, to his amazement he found it to be a woman's leg, and
next morning he discovered the old hag its owner with but one leg
left."--Tylor, Primitive Culture, I. 283.]

[Footnote 85: "The mare in nightmare means spirit, elf, or nymph;
compare Anglo-Saxon wudurmaere (wood-mare) = echo."--Tylor, Primitive
Culture, Vol. II. p. 173.]

[Footnote 86: See Kuhn, Herabkunft des Feuers, p. 91; Weber, Indische
Studien. I. 197; Wolf, Beitrage zur deutschen Mythologie, II. 233-281
Muller, Chips, II. 114-128.]

[Footnote 87: Baring-Gould, Curious Myths, II. 207.]

[Footnote 88: The word nymph itself means "cloud-maiden," as is
illustrated by the kinship between the Greek numph and the Latin nubes.]

[Footnote 89: This is substantially identical with the stories of Beauty
and the Beast, Eros and Psyche, Gandharba Sena, etc.]

[Footnote 90: The feather-dress reappears in the Arabian story of Hasssn
of El-Basrah, who by stealing it secures possession of the Jinniya. See
Lane's Arabian Nights, Vol. III. p. 380. Ralston, Songs of the Russian
People, p. 179.]

[Footnote 91: Thorpe, Northern Mythology, III. 173; Kennedy, Fictions of
the Irish Celts, p. 123.]

[Footnote 92: Kennedy, Fictions of the Irish Celts, p. 168.]

[Footnote 93: Baring-Gould, Book of Werewolves, p. 133.]

[Footnote 94: Muir's Sanskrit Texts, Vol. IV. p. 12; Muller, Rig-Veda
Sanhita, Vol. I. pp. 230-251; Fick, Woerterbuch der Indogermanischen
Grundsprache, p. 124, s v. Bhaga.]

[Footnote 95: In the North American Review, October, 1869, p. 354,
I have collected a number of facts which seem to me to prove beyond
question that the name God is derived from Guodan, the original form of
Odin, the supreme deity of our Pagan forefathers. The case is exactly
parallel to that of the French Dieu, which is descended from the Deus of
the pagan Roman.]

[Footnote 96: See Pott, Die Zigeuner, II. 311; Kuhn, Beitrage, I. 147.
Yet in the worship of dewel by the Gypsies is to be found the element of
diabolism invariably present in barbaric worship. "Dewel, the great
god in heaven (dewa, deus), is rather feared than loved by these
weather-beaten outcasts, for he harms them on their wanderings with his
thunder and lightning, his snow and rain, and his stars interfere with
their dark doings. Therefore they curse him foully when misfortune
falls on them; and when a child dies, they say that Dewel has eaten it."
Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. II. p. 248.]

[Footnote 97: See Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, 939.]

[Footnote 98: The Buddhistic as well as the Zarathustrian reformation
degraded the Vedic gods into demons. "In Buddhism we find these ancient
devas, Indra and the rest, carried about at shows, as servants of
Buddha, as goblins, or fabulous heroes." Max Muller, Chips, I. 25. This
is like the Christian change of Odin into an ogre, and of Thor into the

[Footnote 99: Zeus--Dia--Zhna--di on............ Plato Kratylos, p. 396,
A., with Stallbaum's note. See also Proklos, Comm. ad Timaeum, II. p.
226, Schneider; and compare Pseudo-Aristotle, De Mundo, p. 401, a, 15,
who adopts the etymology. See also Diogenes Laertius, VII. 147.]

[Footnote 100: Marcus Aurelius, v. 7; Hom. Iliad, xii. 25, cf. Petronius
Arbiter, Sat. xliv.]

[Footnote 101: "Il Sol, dell aurea luce eterno forte." Tasso,
Gerusalemme, XV. 47; ef. Dante, Paradiso, X. 28.]

[Footnote 102: The Aryans were, however, doubtless better off than
the tribes of North America. "In no Indian language could the early
missionaries find a word to express the idea of God. Manitou and Oki
meant anything endowed with supernatural powers, from a snake-skin or
a greasy Indian conjurer up to Manabozho and Jouskeha. The priests were
forced to use a circumlocution,--`the great chief of men,' or 'he who
lives in the sky.'" Parkman, Jesuits in North America, p. lxxix. "The
Algonquins used no oaths, for their language supplied none; doubtless
because their mythology had no beings sufficiently distinct to swear
by." Ibid, p. 31.]

[Footnote 103: Muller, Rig-Veda-Sanhita, I. 230.]

[Footnote 104: Compare the remarks of Breal, Hercule et Cacus, p. 13.]

[Footnote 105: It should be borne in mind, however, that one of
the women who tempt Odysseus is not a dawn-maiden, but a goddess of
darkness; Kalypso answers to Venus-Ursula in the myth of Tannhauser.
Kirke, on the other hand, seems to be a dawn-maiden, like Medeia,
whom she resembles. In her the wisdom of the dawn-goddess Athene,
the loftiest of Greek divinities, becomes degraded into the art of an
enchantress. She reappears, in the Arabian Nights, as the wicked Queen
Labe, whose sorcery none of her lovers can baffle, save Beder, king of

[Footnote 106: The Persian Cyrus is an historical personage; but the
story of his perils in infancy belongs to solar mythology as much as
the stories of the magic sleep of Charlemagne and Barbarossa. His
grandfather, Astyages, is purely a mythical creation, his name being
identical with that of the night-demon, Azidahaka, who appears in the
Shah-Nameh as the biting serpent Zohak. See Cox, Mythology of the Aryan
Nations, II. 358.]

[Footnote 107: In mediaeval legend this resistless Moira is transformed
into the curse which prevents the Wandering Jew from resting until the
day of judgment.]

[Footnote 108: Cox, Manual of Mythology, p. 134.]

[Footnote 109: In his interesting appendix to Henderson's Folk Lore of
the Northern Counties of England, Mr. Baring-Gould has made an ingenious
and praiseworthy attempt to reduce the entire existing mass of household
legends to about fifty story-roots; and his list, though both redundant
and defective, is nevertheless, as an empirical classification, very

[Footnote 110: There is nothing in common between the names Hercules and
Herakles. The latter is a compound, formed like Themistokles; the
former is a simple derivative from the root of hercere, "to enclose." If
Herakles had any equivalent in Latin, it would necessarily begin with S,
and not with H, as septa corresponds to epta, sequor to epomai, etc.
It should be noted, however, that Mommsen, in the fourth edition of
his History, abandons this view, and observes: "Auch der griechische
Herakles ist fruh als Herclus, Hercoles, Hercules in Italien einheimisch
und dort in eigenthumlicher Weise aufgefasst worden, wie es scheint
zunachst als Gott des gewagten Gewinns und der ausserordentlichen
Vermogensvermehrung." Romische Geschichte, I. 181. One would gladly
learn Mommsen's reasons for recurring to this apparently less defensible

[Footnote 111: For the relations between Sancus and Herakles, see
Preller, Romische Mythologie, p. 635; Vollmer, Mythologie, p. 970.]

[Footnote 112: Burnouf, Bhagavata-Purana, III. p. lxxxvi; Breal, op.
cit. p. 98.]

[Footnote 113: Max Muller, Science of Language, II 484.]

[Footnote 114: As Max Muller observes, "apart from all mythological
considerations, Sarama in Sanskrit is the same word as Helena in Greek."
Op. cit. p. 490. The names correspond phonetically letter for letter,
as, Surya corresponds to Helios, Sarameyas to Hermeias, and Aharyu to
Achilleus. Muller has plausibly suggested that Paris similarly answers
to the Panis.]

[Footnote 115: "I create evil," Isaiah xiv. 7; "Shall there be evil in
the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Amos iii. 6; cf. Iliad, xxiv.
527, and contrast 2 Samuel xxiv. 1 with 1 Chronicles xxi. 1.]

[Footnote 116: Nor is there any ground for believing that the serpent in
the Eden myth is intended for Satan. The identification is entirely the
work of modern dogmatic theology, and is due, naturally enough, to the
habit, so common alike among theologians and laymen, of reasoning about
the Bible as if it were a single book, and not a collection of
writings of different ages and of very different degrees of historic
authenticity. In a future work, entitled "Aryana Vaedjo," I hope to
examine, at considerable length, this interesting myth of the garden of

[Footnote 117: For further particulars see Cox, Mythology of the Aryan
Nations, Vol. II. pp 358, 366; to which I am indebted for several of the
details here given. Compare Welcker, Griechische Gotterlehre, I. 661,

[Footnote 118: Many amusing passages from Scotch theologians are cited
in Buckle's History of Civilization, Vol. II. p. 368. The same belief
is implied in the quaint monkish tale of "Celestinus and the Miller's
Horse." See Tales from the Gesta Romanorum, p. 134.]

[Footnote 119: Thorpe, Northern Mythology, Vol. 11. p. 258.]

[Footnote 120: Thorpe, Northern Mythology, Vol. II. p. 259. In the Norse
story of "Not a Pin to choose between them," the old woman is in doubt
as to her own identity, on waking up after the butcher has dipped her in
a tar-barrel and rolled her on a heap of feathers; and when Tray barks
at her, her perplexity is as great as the Devil's when fooled by the
Frenschutz. See Dasent, Norse Tales, p. 199.]

[Footnote 121: See Deulin, Contes d'un Buveur de Biere, pp. 3-29.]

[Footnote 122: Dasent, Popular Tales from the Norse, No. III. and No.

[Footnote 123: See Dasent's Introduction, p. cxxxix; Campbell, Tales of
the West Highlands, Vol. IV. p. 344; and Williams, Indian Epic Poetry,
p. 10.]

[Footnote 124: "A Leopard was returning home from hunting on one
occasion, when he lighted on the kraal of a Ram. Now the Leopard had
never seen a Ram before, and accordingly, approaching submissively, he
said, 'Good day, friend! what may your name be?' The other, in his gruff
voice, and striking his breast with his forefoot, said, 'I am a Ram;
who are you?' 'A Leopard,' answered the other, more dead than alive; and
then, taking leave of the Ram, he ran home as fast as he could." Bleek,
Hottentot Fables, p. 24.]

[Footnote 125: I agree, most heartily, with Mr. Mahaffy's remarks,
Prolegomena to Ancient History, p. 69.]

[Footnote 126: Sir George Grey once told some Australian natives about
the countries within the arctic circle where during part of the year the
sun never sets. "Their astonishment now knew no bounds. 'Ah! that must
be another sun, not the same as the one we see here,' said an old man;
and in spite of all my arguments to the contrary, the others adopted
this opinion." Grey's Journals, I. 293, cited in Tylor, Early History of
Mankind, p. 301.]

[Footnote 127: Max Muller, Chips, II. 96.]

[Footnote 128: Fictions of the Irish Celts, pp. 255-270.]

[Footnote 129: A corruption of Gaelic bhan a teaigh, "lady of the

[Footnote 130: For the analysis of twelve, see my essay on "The Genesis
of Language," North American Review, October 1869, p. 320.]

[Footnote 131: Chips from a German Workshop, Vol. II. p. 246.]

[Footnote 132: For various legends of a deluge, see Baring-Gould,
Legends of the Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 85-106.]

[Footnote 133: Brinton, Myths of the New World, p. 160.]

[Footnote 134: Brinton, op. cit. p. 163.]

[Footnote 135: Brinton, op. cit. p. 167.]

[Footnote 136: Corresponding, in various degrees, to the Asvins, the
Dioskouroi, and the brothers True and Untrue of Norse mythology.]

[Footnote 137: See Humboldt's Kosmos, Tom. III. pp. 469-476. A
fetichistic regard for the cardinal points has not always been absent
from the minds of persons instructed in a higher theology as witness a
well-known passage in Irenaeus, and also the custom, well-nigh universal
in Europe, of building Christian churches in a line east and west.]

[Footnote 138: Bleek, Hottentot Fables and Tales, p. 72. Compare the
Fiji story of Ra Vula, the Moon, and Ra Kalavo, the Rat, in Tylor,
Primitive Culture, I. 321.]

[Footnote 139: Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 327.]

[Footnote 140: Tylor, op. cit., p. 346.]

[Footnote 141: Baring-Gould, Curious Myths, II. 299-302.]

[Footnote 142: Speaking of beliefs in the Malay Archipelago, Mr. Wallace
says: "It is universally believed in Lombock that some men have the
power to turn themselves into crocodiles, which they do for the sake
of devouring their enemies, and many strange tales are told of such
transformations." Wallace, Malay Archipelago, Vol. I. p. 251.]

[Footnote 143: Bleek, Hottentot Fables and Tales, p. 58.]

[Footnote 144: Callaway, Zulu Nursery Tales, pp. 27-30.]

[Footnote 145: Callaway, op. cit. pp. 142-152; cf. a similar story in
which the lion is fooled by the jackal. Bleek, op. cit. p. 7. I omit the
sequel of the tale.]

[Footnote 146: Brinton, op. cit. p. 104.]

[Footnote 147: Tylor, op. cit. p. 320.]

[Footnote 148: Tylor, op. cit. pp. 338-343.]

[Footnote 149: Tylor, op. cit. p. 336. November, 1870]

[Footnote 150: Juventus Mundi. The Gods and Men of the Heroic Age.
By the Rt. Hon. William Ewart Gladstone. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.

[Footnote 151: Hist. Greece, Vol. II. p. 208.]

[Footnote 152: Grote, Hist. Greece, Vol. II. p. 198.]

[Footnote 153: For the precise extent to which I would indorse the
theory that the Iliad-myth is an account of the victory of light over
darkness, let me refer to what I have said above on p. 134. I do not
suppose that the struggle between light and darkness was Homer's subject
in the Iliad any more than it was Shakespeare's subject in "Hamlet."
Homer's subject was the wrath of the Greek hero, as Shakespeare's
subject was the vengeance of the Danish prince. Nevertheless, the story
of Hamlet, when traced back to its Norse original, is unmistakably the
story of the quarrel between summer and winter; and the moody prince
is as much a solar hero as Odin himself. See Simrock, Die Quellen des
Shakespeare, I. 127-133. Of course Shakespeare knew nothing of this,
as Homer knew nothing of the origin of his Achilleus. The two stories,
therefore, are not to be taken as sun-myths in their present form.
They are the offspring of other stories which were sun-myths; they
are stories which conform to the sun-myth type after the manner above
illustrated in the paper on Light and Darkness. [Hence there is nothing
unintelligible in the inconsistency--which seems to puzzle Max Muller
(Science of Language, 6th ed. Vol. II. p. 516, note 20)--of investing
Paris with many of the characteristics of the children of light.
Supposing, as we must, that the primitive sense of the Iliad-myth had as
entirely disappeared in the Homeric age, as the primitive sense of the
Hamlet-myth had disappeared in the times of Elizabeth, the fit ground
for wonder is that such inconsistencies are not more numerous.] The
physical theory of myths will be properly presented and comprehended,
only when it is understood that we accept the physical derivation of
such stories as the Iliad-myth in much the same way that we are bound to
accept the physical etymologies of such words as soul, consider, truth,
convince, deliberate, and the like. The late Dr. Gibbs of Yale College,
in his "Philological Studies,"--a little book which I used to read with
delight when a boy,--describes such etymologies as "faded metaphors."
In similar wise, while refraining from characterizing the Iliad or the
tragedy of Hamlet--any more than I would characterize Le Juif Errant by
Sue, or La Maison Forestiere by Erckmann-Chatrian--as nature-myths, I
would at the same time consider these poems well described as embodying
"faded nature-myths."]

[Footnote 154: I have no opinion as to the nationality of the
Earth-shaker, and, regarding the etymology of his name, I believe we can
hardly do better than acknowledge, with Mr. Cox, that it is unknown.
It may well be doubted, however, whether much good is likely to come
of comparisons between Poseidon, Dagon, Oannes, and Noah, or of
distinctions between the children of Shem and the children of Ham. See
Brown's Poseidon; a Link between Semite, Hamite, and Aryan, London,
1872,--a book which is open to several of the criticisms here directed
against Mr. Gladstone's manner of theorizing.]

[Footnote 155: "The expression that the Erinys, Saranyu, the Dawn, finds
out the criminal, was originally quite free from mythology; IT MEANT
It became mythological, however, as soon as the etymological meaning
of Erinys was forgotten, and as soon as the Dawn, a portion of time,
assumed the rank of a personal being."--Science of Language, 6th
edition, II. 615. This paragraph, in which the italicizing is mine,
contains Max Muller's theory in a nutshell. It seems to me wholly at
variance with the facts of history. The facts concerning primitive
culture which are to be cited in this paper will show that the case
is just the other way. Instead of the expression "Erinys finds the
criminal" being originally a metaphor, it was originally a literal
statement of what was believed to be fact. The Dawn (not "a portion of
time,"(!) but the rosy flush of the morning sky) was originally regarded
as a real person. Primitive men, strictly speaking, do not talk in
metaphors; they believe in the literal truth of their similes and
personifications, from which, by survival in culture, our poetic
metaphors are lineally descended. Homer's allusion to a rolling stone as
essumenos or "yearning" (to keep on rolling), is to us a mere figurative
expression; but to the savage it is the description of a fact.]

[Footnote 156: Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of
Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom By Edward B. Tylor. 2
vols. 8vo. London. 1871.]

[Footnote 157: Tylor, op. cit. I. 107.]

[Footnote 158: Rousseau, Confessions, I. vi. For further illustration,
see especially the note on the "doctrine of signatures," supra, p. 55.]

[Footnote 159: Spencer, Recent Discussions in Science, etc., p. 36, "The
Origin of Animal Worship."]

[Footnote 160: See Nature, Vol. VI. p. 262, August 1, 1872. The
circumstances narrated are such as to exclude the supposition that the
sitting up is intended to attract the master's attention. The dog has
frequently been seen trying to soften the heart of the ball, while
observed unawares by his master.]

[Footnote 161: "We would, however, commend to Mr. Fiske's attention
Mr. Mark Twain's dog, who 'couldn't be depended on for a special
providence,' as being nearer to the actual dog of every-day life than
is the Skye terrier mentioned by a certain correspondent of Nature, to
whose letter Mr. Fiske refers. The terrier is held to have had 'a few
fetichistic notions,' because he was found standing up on his hind legs
in front of a mantel-piece, upon which lay an india-rubber ball with
which he wished to play, but which he could not reach, and which, says
the letter-writer, he was evidently beseeching to come down and play
with him. We consider it more reasonable to suppose that a dog who had
been drilled into a belief that standing upon his hind legs was very
pleasing to his master, and who, therefore, had accustomed himself to
stand on his hind legs whenever he desired anything, and whose usual way
of getting what he desired was to induce somebody to get it for him, may
have stood up in front of the mantel-piece rather from force of habit
and eagerness of desire than because he had any fetichistic notions, or
expected the india-rubber ball to listen to his supplications. We admit,
however, to avoid polemical controversy, that in matter of religion the
dog is capable of anything." The Nation, Vol. XV. p. 284, October 1,
1872. To be sure, I do not know for certain what was going on in the
dog's mind; and so, letting both explanations stand, I will only add
another fact of similar import. "The tendency in savages to imagine
that natural objects and agencies are animated by spiritual or living
essences is perhaps illustrated by a little fact which I once noticed:
my dog, a full-grown and very sensible animal, was lying on the lawn
during a hot and still day; but at a little distance a slight breeze
occasionally moved an open parasol, which would have been wholly
disregarded by the dog, had any one stood near it. As it was, every time
that the parasol slightly moved, the dog growled fiercely and barked.
He must, I think, have reasoned to himself, in a rapid and unconscious
manner, that movement without any apparent cause indicated the presence
of some strange living agent, and no stranger had a right to be on his
territory." Darwin, Descent of Man, Vol. 1. p. 64. Without insisting
upon all the details of this explanation, one may readily grant, I
think, that in the dog, as in the savage, there is an undisturbed
association between motion and a living motor agency; and that out of a
multitude of just such associations common to both, the savage, with his
greater generalizing power, frames a truly fetichistic conception.]

[Footnote 162: Note the fetichism wrapped up in the etymologies of these
Greek words. Catalepsy, katalhyis, a seizing of the body by some spirit
or demon, who holds it rigid. Ecstasy, ekstasis, a displacement or
removal of the soul from the body, into which the demon enters and
causes strange laughing, crying, or contortions. It is not metaphor, but
the literal belief ill a ghost-world, which has given rise to such
words as these, and to such expressions as "a man beside himself or

[Footnote 163: Something akin to the savage's belief in the animation
of pictures may be seen in young children. I have often been asked by my
three-year-old boy, whether the dog in a certain picture would bite him
if he were to go near it; and I can remember that, in my own childhood,
when reading a book about insects, which had the formidable likeness of
a spider stamped on the centre of the cover, I was always uneasy lest
my finger should come in contact with the dreaded thing as I held the

[Footnote 164: Tylor, Primitive Culture, I. 394. "The Zulus hold that a
dead body can cast no shadow, because that appurtenance departed from
it at the close of life." Hardwick, Traditions, Superstitions, and
Folk-Lore, p. 123.]

[Footnote 165: Tylor, op. cit. I. 391.]

[Footnote 166: Harland and Wilkinson, Lancashire Folk-Lore, 1867, p.

[Footnote 167: Tylor, op. cit. II. 139.]

[Footnote 168: In Russia the souls of the dead are supposed to be
embodied in pigeons or crows. "Thus when the Deacon Theodore and his
three schismatic brethren were burnt in 1681, the souls of the martyrs,
as the 'Old Believers' affirm, appeared in the air as pigeons. In
Volhynia dead children are supposed to come back in the spring to their
native village under the semblance of swallows and other small birds,
and to seek by soft twittering or song to console their sorrowing
parents." Ralston, Songs of the Russian People, p. 118.]

[Footnote 169: Tylor, op. cit. I. 404.]

[Footnote 171: Tylor, op. cit. I. 407.]

[Footnote 172: Tylor, op. cit. I. 410. In the next stage of survival
this belief will take the shape that it is wrong to slam a door, no
reason being assigned; and in the succeeding stage, when the child asks
why it is naughty to slam a door, he will be told, because it is an
evidence of bad temper. Thus do old-world fancies disappear before the
inroads of the practical sense.]

[Footnote 173: Agassiz, Essay on Classification, pp. 97-99.]

[Footnote 174: Figuier, The To-morrow of Death, p. 247.]

[Footnote 175: Here, as usually, the doctrine of metempsychosis comes
in to complete the proof. "Mr. Darwin saw two Malay women in Keeling
Island, who had a wooden spoon dressed in clothes like a doll; this
spoon had been carried to the grave of a dead man, and becoming inspired
at full moon, in fact lunatic, it danced about convulsively like a table
or a hat at a modern spirit-seance." Tylor, op. cit. II. 139.]

[Footnote 176: Tylor, op. cit. I. 414-422.]

[Footnote 177: Tylor, op. cit. I. 435, 446; II. 30, 36.]

[Footnote 178: According to the Karens, blindness occurs when the SOUL
OF THE EYE is eaten by demons. Id., II. 353.]

[Footnote 179: The following citation is interesting as an illustration
of the directness of descent from heathen manes-worship to Christian
saint-worship: "It is well known that Romulus, mindful of his own
adventurous infancy, became after death a Roman deity, propitious to the
health and safety of young children, so that nurses and mothers would
carry sickly infants to present them in his little round temple at
the foot of the Palatine. In after ages the temple was replaced by
the church of St. Theodorus, and there Dr. Conyers Middleton, who drew
public attention to its curious history, used to look in and see ten
or a dozen women, each with a sick child in her lap, sitting in silent
reverence before the altar of the saint. The ceremony of blessing
children, especially after vaccination, may still be seen there on
Thursday mornings." Op. cit. II. 111.]

[Footnote 180: Want of space prevents me from remarking at length
upon Mr. Tylor's admirable treatment of the phenomena of oracular
inspiration. Attention should be called, however, to the brilliant
explanation of the importance accorded by all religions to the rite of
fasting. Prolonged abstinence from food tends to bring on a mental
state which is favourable to visions. The savage priest or medicine-man
qualifies himself for the performance of his duties by fasting, and
where this is not sufficient, often uses intoxicating drugs; whence
the sacredness of the hasheesh, as also of the Vedic soma-juice. The
practice of fasting among civilized peoples is an instance of survival.]

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