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´╗┐Title: Custom and Myth
Author: Lang, Andrew, 1844-1912
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1884 Longmans, Green and Co. edition by David Price,


To E. B. Tylor, author of 'Primitive Culture,' these studies of the
oldest stories are dedicated.


Though some of the essays in this volume have appeared in various
serials, the majority of them were written expressly for their present
purpose, and they are now arranged in a designed order.  During some
years of study of Greek, Indian, and savage mythologies, I have become
more and more impressed with a sense of the inadequacy of the prevalent
method of comparative mythology.  That method is based on the belief that
myths are the result of a disease of language, as the pearl is the result
of a disease of the oyster.  It is argued that men at some period, or
periods, spoke in a singular style of coloured and concrete language, and
that their children retained the phrases of this language after losing
hold of the original meaning.  The consequence was the growth of myths
about supposed persons, whose names had originally been mere
'appellations.'  In conformity with this hypothesis the method of
comparative mythology examines the proper names which occur in myths.  The
notion is that these names contain a key to the meaning of the story, and
that, in fact, of the story the names are the germs and the oldest
surviving part.

The objections to this method are so numerous that it is difficult to
state them briefly.  The attempt, however, must be made.  To desert the
path opened by the most eminent scholars is in itself presumptuous; the
least that an innovator can do is to give his reasons for advancing in a
novel direction.  If this were a question of scholarship merely, it would
be simply foolhardy to differ from men like Max Muller, Adalbert Kuhn,
Breal, and many others.  But a revolutionary mythologist is encouraged by
finding that these scholars usually differ from each other.  Examples
will be found chiefly in the essays styled 'The Myth of Cronus,' 'A Far-
travelled Tale,' and 'Cupid and Psyche.'  Why, then, do distinguished
scholars and mythologists reach such different goals?  Clearly because
their method is so precarious.  They all analyse the names in myths; but,
where one scholar decides that the name is originally Sanskrit, another
holds that it is purely Greek, and a third, perhaps, is all for an
Accadian etymology, or a Semitic derivation.  Again, even when scholars
agree as to the original root from which a name springs, they differ as
much as ever as to the meaning of the name in its present place.  The
inference is, that the analysis of names, on which the whole edifice of
philological 'comparative mythology' rests, is a foundation of shifting
sand.  The method is called 'orthodox,' but, among those who practise it,
there is none of the beautiful unanimity of orthodoxy.

These objections are not made by the unscholarly anthropologist alone.
Curtius has especially remarked the difficulties which beset the
'etymological operation' in the case of proper names.  'Peculiarly
dubious and perilous is mythological etymology.  Are we to seek the
sources of the divine names in aspects of nature, or in moral
conceptions; in special Greek geographical conditions, or in natural
circumstances which are everywhere the same: in dawn with her rays, or in
clouds with their floods; are we to seek the origin of the names of
heroes in things historical and human, or in physical phenomena?' {3a}
Professor Tiele, of Leyden, says much the same thing: 'The uncertainties
are great, and there is a constant risk of taking mere jeux d'esprit for
scientific results.' {3b}  Every name has, if we can discover or
conjecture it, a meaning.  That meaning--be it 'large' or 'small,' 'loud'
or 'bright,' 'wise' or 'dark,' 'swift' or 'slow'--is always capable of
being explained as an epithet of the sun, or of the cloud, or of both.
Whatever, then, a name may signify, some scholars will find that it
originally denoted the cloud, if they belong to one school, or the sun or
dawn, if they belong to another faction.  Obviously this process is a
mere jeu d'esprit.  This logic would be admitted in no other science,
and, by similar arguments, any name whatever might be shown to be
appropriate to a solar hero.

The scholarly method has now been applied for many years, and what are
the results?  The ideas attained by the method have been so popularised
that they are actually made to enter into the education of children, and
are published in primers and catechisms of mythology.  But what has a
discreet scholar to say to the whole business?  'The difficult task of
interpreting mythical names has, so far, produced few certain results'--so
writes Otto Schrader. {4} Though Schrader still has hopes of better
things, it is admitted that the present results are highly disputable.  In
England, where one set of these results has become an article of faith,
readers chiefly accept the opinions of a single etymological school, and
thus escape the difficulty of making up their minds when scholars differ.
But differ scholars do, so widely and so often, that scarcely any solid
advantages have been gained in mythology from the philological method.

The method of philological mythology is thus discredited by the disputes
of its adherents.  The system may be called orthodox, but it is an
orthodoxy which alters with every new scholar who enters the sacred
enclosure.  Even were there more harmony, the analysis of names could
throw little light on myths.  In stories the names may well be, and often
demonstrably are, the latest, not the original, feature.  Tales, at first
told of 'Somebody,' get new names attached to them, and obtain a new
local habitation, wherever they wander.  'One of the leading personages
to be met in the traditions of the world is really no more than--Somebody.
There is nothing this wondrous creature cannot achieve; one only
restriction binds him at all--that the name he assumes shall have some
sort of congruity with the office he undertakes, _and even from this he
oftentimes breaks loose_.' {5}  We may be pretty sure that the adventures
of Jason, Perseus, OEdipous, were originally told only of 'Somebody.'  The
names are later additions, and vary in various lands.  A glance at the
essay on 'Cupid and Psyche' will show that a history like theirs is
known, where neither they nor their counterparts in the Veda, Urvasi and
Pururavas, were ever heard of; while the incidents of the Jason legend
are familiar where no Greek word was ever spoken.  Finally, the names in
common use among savages are usually derived from natural phenomena,
often from clouds, sky, sun, dawn.  If, then, a name in a myth can be
proved to mean cloud, sky, sun, or what not (and usually one set of
scholars find clouds, where others see the dawn), we must not instantly
infer that the myth is a nature-myth.  Though, doubtless, the heroes in
it were never real people, the names are as much common names of real
people in the savage state, as Smith and Brown are names of civilised

For all these reasons, but chiefly because of the fact that stories are
usually anonymous at first, that names are added later, and that stories
naturally crystallise round any famous name, heroic, divine, or human,
the process of analysis of names is most precarious and untrustworthy.  A
story is told of Zeus: Zeus means sky, and the story is interpreted by
scholars as a sky myth.  The modern interpreter forgets, first, that to
the myth-maker sky did not at all mean the same thing as it means to him.
Sky meant, not an airy, infinite, radiant vault, but a person, and, most
likely, a savage person.  Secondly, the interpreter forgets that the tale
(say the tale of Zeus, Demeter, and the mutilated Ram) may have been
originally anonymous, and only later attributed to Zeus, as unclaimed
jests are attributed to Sheridan or Talleyrand.  Consequently no heavenly
phenomena will be the basis and explanation of the story.  If one thing
in mythology be certain, it is that myths are always changing masters,
that the old tales are always being told with new names.  Where, for
example, is the value of a philological analysis of the name of Jason?  As
will be seen in the essay 'A Far-travelled Tale,' the analysis of the
name of Jason is fanciful, precarious, disputed, while the essence of his
myth is current in Samoa, Finland, North America, Madagascar, and other
lands, where the name was never heard, and where the characters in the
story have other names or are anonymous.

For these reasons, and others too many to be adduced here, I have
ventured to differ from the current opinion that myths must be
interpreted chiefly by philological analysis of names.  The system
adopted here is explained in the first essay, called 'The Method of
Folklore.'  The name, Folklore, is not a good one, but 'comparative
mythology' is usually claimed exclusively by the philological

The second essay, 'The Bull-Roarer,' is intended to show that certain
peculiarities in the Greek mysteries occur also in the mysteries of
savages, and that on Greek soil they are survivals of savagery.

'The Myth of Cronus' tries to prove that the first part of the legend is
a savage nature-myth, surviving in Greek religion, while the sequel is a
set of ideas common to savages.

'Cupid and Psyche' traces another Aryan myth among savage races, and
attempts to show that the myth may have had its origin in a rule of
barbarous etiquette.

'A Far-travelled Tale' examines a part of the Jason myth.  This myth
appears neither to be an explanation of natural phenomena (like part of
the Myth of Cronus), nor based on a widespread custom (like Cupid and
Psyche.)  The question is asked whether the story may have been diffused
by slow filtration from race to race all over the globe, as there seems
no reason why it should have been invented separately (as a myth
explanatory of natural phenomena or of customs might be) in many
different places.

'Apollo and the Mouse' suggests hypothetically, as a possible explanation
of the tie between the God and the Beast, that Apollo-worship superseded,
but did not eradicate, Totemism.  The suggestion is little more than a

'Star Myths' points out that Greek myths of stars are a survival from the
savage stage of fancy in which such stories are natural.

'Moly and Mandragora' is a study of the Greek, the modern, and the
Hottentot folklore of magical herbs, with a criticism of a scholarly and
philological hypothesis, according to which Moly is the dog-star, and
Circe the moon.

'The Kalevala' is an account of the Finnish national poem; of all poems
that in which the popular, as opposed to the artistic, spirit is
strongest.  The Kalevala is thus a link between Marchen and Volkslieder
on one side, and epic poetry on the other.

'The Divining Rod' is a study of a European and civilised superstition,
which is singular in its comparative lack of copious savage analogues.

'Hottentot Mythology' is a criticism of the philological method, applied
to savage myth.

'Fetichism and the Infinite,' is a review of Mr. Max Muller's theory that
a sense of the Infinite is the germ of religion, and that Fetichism is
secondary, and a corruption.  This essay also contains a defence of the
_evidence_ on which the anthropological method relies.

The remaining essays are studies of the 'History of the Family,' and of
'Savage Art.'

The essay on 'Savage Art' is reprinted, by the kind permission of Messrs.
Cassell & Co., from two numbers (April and May, 1882) of the Magazine of
Art.  I have to thank the editors and publishers of the Contemporary
Review, the Cornhill Magazine, and Fraser's Magazine, for leave to
republish 'The Early History of the Family,' 'The Divining Rod,' and
'Star Myths,' and 'The Kalevala.'  A few sentences in 'The Bull-Roarer,'
and 'Hottentot Mythology,' appeared in essays in the Saturday Review, and
some lines of 'The Method of Folklore' in the Guardian.  To the editors
of those journals also I owe thanks for their courteous permission to
make this use of my old articles.

To Mr. E. B. Tylor and Mr. W. R. S. Ralston I must express my gratitude
for the kindness with which they have always helped me in all

I must apologise for the controversial matter in the volume.  Controversy
is always a thing to be avoided, but, in this particular case, when a
system opposed to the prevalent method has to be advocated, controversy
is unavoidable.  My respect for the learning of my distinguished
adversaries is none the less great because I am not convinced by their
logic, and because my doubts are excited by their differences.

Perhaps, it should be added, that these essays are, so to speak, only
flint-flakes from a neolithic workshop.  This little book merely
skirmishes (to change the metaphor) in front of a much more methodical
attempt to vindicate the anthropological interpretation of myths.  But
lack of leisure and other causes make it probable that my 'Key to All
Mythologies' will go the way of Mr. Casaubon's treatise.


After the heavy rain of a thunderstorm has washed the soil, it sometimes
happens that a child, or a rustic, finds a wedge-shaped piece of metal or
a few triangular flints in a field or near a road.  There was no such
piece of metal, there were no such flints, lying there yesterday, and the
finder is puzzled about the origin of the objects on which he has
lighted.  He carries them home, and the village wisdom determines that
the wedge-shaped piece of metal is a 'thunderbolt,' or that the bits of
flint are 'elf-shots,' the heads of fairy arrows.  Such things are still
treasured in remote nooks of England, and the 'thunderbolt' is applied to
cure certain maladies by its touch.

As for the fairy arrows, we know that even in ancient Etruria they were
looked on as magical, for we sometimes see their points set, as amulets,
in the gold of Etruscan necklaces.  In Perugia the arrowheads are still
sold as charms.  All educated people, of course, have long been aware
that the metal wedge is a celt, or ancient bronze axe-head, and that it
was not fairies, but the forgotten peoples of this island who used the
arrows with the tips of flint.  Thunder is only so far connected with
them that the heavy rains loosen the surface soil, and lay bare its long
hidden secrets.

There is a science, Archaeology, which collects and compares the material
relics of old races, the axes and arrow-heads.  There is a form of study,
Folklore, which collects and compares the similar but immaterial relics
of old races, the surviving superstitions and stories, the ideas which
are in our time but not of it.  Properly speaking, folklore is only
concerned with the legends, customs, beliefs, of the Folk, of the people,
of the classes which have least been altered by education, which have
shared least in progress.  But the student of folklore soon finds that
these unprogressive classes retain many of the beliefs and ways of
savages, just as the Hebridean people use spindle-whorls of stone, and
bake clay pots without the aid of the wheel, like modern South Sea
Islanders, or like their own prehistoric ancestors. {11a}  The student of
folklore is thus led to examine the usages, myths, and ideas of savages,
which are still retained, in rude enough shape, by the European
peasantry.  Lastly, he observes that a few similar customs and ideas
survive in the most conservative elements of the life of educated
peoples, in ritual, ceremonial, and religious traditions and myths.
Though such remains are rare in England, we may note the custom of
leading the dead soldier's horse behind his master to the grave, a relic
of days when the horse would have been sacrificed. {11b}  We may observe
the persistence of the ceremony by which the monarch, at his coronation,
takes his seat on the sacred stone of Scone, probably an ancient fetich
stone.  Not to speak, here, of our own religious traditions, the old vein
of savage rite and belief is found very near the surface of ancient Greek
religion.  It needs but some stress of circumstance, something answering
to the storm shower that reveals the flint arrow-heads, to bring savage
ritual to the surface of classical religion.  In sore need, a human
victim was only too likely to be demanded; while a feast-day, or a
mystery, set the Greeks dancing serpent-dances or bear-dances like Red
Indians, or swimming with sacred pigs, or leaping about in imitation of
wolves, or holding a dog-feast, and offering dog's flesh to the gods.
{12}  Thus the student of folklore soon finds that he must enlarge his
field, and examine, not only popular European story and practice, but
savage ways and ideas, and the myths and usages of the educated classes
in civilised races.  In this extended sense the term 'folklore' will
frequently be used in the following essays.  The idea of the writer is
that mythology cannot fruitfully be studied apart from folklore, while
some knowledge of anthropology is required in both sciences.

The science of Folklore, if we may call it a science, finds everywhere,
close to the surface of civilised life, the remains of ideas as old as
the stone elf-shots, older than the celt of bronze.  In proverbs and
riddles, and nursery tales and superstitions, we detect the relics of a
stage of thought, which is dying out in Europe, but which still exists in
many parts of the world.  Now, just as the flint arrow-heads are
scattered everywhere, in all the continents and isles, and everywhere are
much alike, and bear no very definite marks of the special influence of
race, so it is with the habits and legends investigated by the student of
folklore.  The stone arrow-head buried in a Scottish cairn is like those
which were interred with Algonquin chiefs.  The flints found in Egyptian
soil, or beside the tumulus on the plain of Marathon, nearly resemble the
stones which tip the reed arrow of the modern Samoyed.  Perhaps only a
skilled experience could discern, in a heap of such arrow-heads, the
specimens which are found in America or Africa from those which are
unearthed in Europe.  Even in the products of more advanced industry, we
see early pottery, for example, so closely alike everywhere that, in the
British Museum, Mexican vases have, ere now, been mixed up on the same
shelf with archaic vessels from Greece.  In the same way, if a
superstition or a riddle were offered to a student of folklore, he would
have much difficulty in guessing its _provenance_, and naming the race
from which it was brought.  Suppose you tell a folklorist that, in a
certain country, when anyone sneezes, people say 'Good luck to you,' the
student cannot say a priori what country you refer to, what race you have
in your thoughts.  It may be Florida, as Florida was when first
discovered; it may be Zululand, or West Africa, or ancient Rome, or
Homeric Greece, or Palestine.  In all these, and many other regions, the
sneeze was welcomed as an auspicious omen.  The little superstition is as
widely distributed as the flint arrow-heads.  Just as the object and use
of the arrow-heads became intelligible when we found similar weapons in
actual use among savages, so the salutation to the sneezer becomes
intelligible when we learn that the savage has a good reason for it.  He
thinks the sneeze expels an evil spirit.  Proverbs, again, and riddles
are as universally scattered, and the Wolufs puzzle over the same
devinettes as the Scotch schoolboy or the Breton peasant.  Thus, for
instance, the Wolufs of Senegal ask each other, 'What flies for ever, and
rests never?'--Answer, 'The Wind.'  'Who are the comrades that always
fight, and never hurt each other?'--'The Teeth.'  In France, as we read
in the 'Recueil de Calembours,' the people ask, 'What runs faster than a
horse, crosses water, and is not wet?'--Answer, 'The Sun.'  The Samoans
put the riddle, 'A man who stands between two ravenous fishes?'--Answer,
'The tongue between the teeth.'  Again, 'There are twenty brothers, each
with a hat on his head?'--Answer, 'Fingers and toes, with nails for
hats.'  This is like the French 'un pere a douze fils?'--'l'an.'  A
comparison of M. Rolland's 'Devinettes' with the Woluf conundrums of
Boilat, the Samoan examples in Turner's' Samoa,' and the Scotch enigmas
collected by Chambers, will show the identity of peasant and savage

A few examples, less generally known, may be given to prove that the
beliefs of folklore are not peculiar to any one race or stock of men.  The
first case is remarkable: it occurs in Mexico and Ceylon--nor are we
aware that it is found elsewhere.  In Macmillan's Magazine {15} is
published a paper by Mrs. Edwards, called 'The Mystery of the Pezazi.'
The events described in this narrative occurred on August 28, 1876, in a
bungalow some thirty miles from Badiella.  The narrator occupied a new
house on an estate called Allagalla.  Her native servants soon asserted
that the place was haunted by a Pezazi.  The English visitors saw and
heard nothing extraordinary till a certain night: an abridged account of
what happened then may be given in the words of Mrs. Edwards:--

   Wrapped in dreams, I lay on the night in question tranquilly sleeping,
   but gradually roused to a perception that discordant sounds disturbed
   the serenity of my slumber.  Loth to stir, I still dozed on, the
   sounds, however, becoming, as it seemed, more determined to make
   themselves heard; and I awoke to the consciousness that they proceeded
   from a belt of adjacent jungle, and resembled the noise that would be
   produced by some person felling timber.

   Shutting my ears to the disturbance, I made no sign, until, with an
   expression of impatience, E--- suddenly started up, when I laid a
   detaining grasp upon his arm, murmuring that there was no need to
   think of rising at present--it must be quite early, and the kitchen
   cooly was doubtless cutting fire-wood in good time.  E--- responded,
   in a tone of slight contempt, that no one could be cutting fire-wood
   at that hour, and the sounds were more suggestive of felling jungle;
   and he then inquired how long I had been listening to them.  Now
   thoroughly aroused, I replied that I had heard the sounds for some
   time, at first confusing them with my dreams, but soon sufficiently
   awakening to the fact that they were no mere phantoms of my
   imagination, but a reality.  During our conversation the noises became
   more distinct and loud; blow after blow resounded, as of the axe
   descending upon the tree, followed by the crash of the falling timber.
   Renewed blows announced the repetition of the operations on another
   tree, and continued till several were devastated.

It is unnecessary to tell more of the tale.  In spite of minute
examinations and close search, no solution of the mystery of the noises,
on this or any other occasion, was ever found.  The natives, of course,
attributed the disturbance to the Pezazi, or goblin.  No one, perhaps,
has asserted that the Aztecs were connected by ties of race with the
people of Ceylon.  Yet, when the Spaniards conquered Mexico, and when
Sahagun (one of the earliest missionaries) collected the legends of the
people, he found them, like the Cingalese, strong believers in the mystic
tree-felling.  We translate Sahagun's account of the 'midnight axe':--

   When so any man heareth the sound of strokes in the night, as if one
   were felling trees, he reckons it an evil boding.  And this sound they
   call youaltepuztli (youalli, night; and tepuztli, copper), which
   signifies 'the midnight hatchet.'  This noise cometh about the time of
   the first sleep, when all men slumber soundly, and the night is still.
   The sound of strokes smitten was first noted by the temple-servants,
   called tlamacazque, at the hour when they go in the night to make
   their offering of reeds or of boughs of pine, for so was their custom,
   and this penance they did on the neighbouring hills, and that when the
   night was far spent.  Whenever they heard such a sound as one makes
   when he splits wood with an axe (a noise that may be heard afar off),
   they drew thence an omen of evil, and were afraid, and said that the
   sounds were part of the witchery of Tezeatlipoca, that often thus
   dismayeth men who journey in the night.  Now, when tidings of these
   things came to a certain brave man, one exercised in war, he drew
   near, being guided by the sound, till he came to the very cause of the
   hubbub.  And when he came upon it, with difficulty he caught it, for
   the thing was hard to catch: natheless at last he overtook that which
   ran before him; and behold, it was a man without a heart, and, on
   either side of the chest, two holes that opened and shut, and so made
   the noise.  Then the man put his hand within the breast of the figure
   and grasped the breast and shook it hard, demanding some grace or

As a rule, the grace demanded was power to make captives in war.  The
curious coincidence of the 'midnight axe,' occurring in lands so remote
as Ceylon and Mexico, and the singular attestation by an English lady of
the actual existence of the disturbance, makes this youaltepuztli one of
the quaintest things in the province of the folklorist.  But, whatever
the cause of the noise, or of the beliefs connected with the noise, may
be, no one would explain them as the result of community of _race_
between Cingalese and Aztecs.  Nor would this explanation be offered to
account for the Aztec and English belief that the creaking of furniture
is an omen of death in a house.  Obviously, these opinions are the
expression of a common state of superstitious fancy, not the signs of an
original community of origin.

Let us take another piece of folklore.  All North-country English folk
know the Kernababy.  The custom of the 'Kernababy' is commonly observed
in England, or, at all events, in Scotland, where the writer has seen
many a kernababy.  The last gleanings of the last field are bound up in a
rude imitation of the human shape, and dressed in some tag-rags of
finery.  The usage has fallen into the conservative hands of children,
but of old 'the Maiden' was a regular image of the harvest goddess,
which, with a sickle and sheaves in her arms, attended by a crowd of
reapers, and accompanied with music, followed the last carts home to the
farm. {18}  It is odd enough that the 'Maiden' should exactly translate
[Greek], the old Sicilian name of the daughter of Demeter.  'The Maiden'
has dwindled, then, among us to the rudimentary kernababy; but ancient
Peru had her own Maiden, her Harvest Goddess.  Here it is easy to trace
the natural idea at the basis of the superstitious practice which links
the shores of the Pacific with our own northern coast.  Just as a portion
of the yule-log and of the Christmas bread were kept all the year
through, a kind of nest-egg of plenteous food and fire, so the kernababy,
English or Peruvian, is an earnest that corn will not fail all through
the year, till next harvest comes.  For this reason the kernababy used to
be treasured from autumn's end to autumn's end, though now it commonly
disappears very soon after the harvest home.  It is thus that Acosta
describes, in Grimston's old translation (1604), the Peruvian kernababy
and the Peruvian harvest home:--

   This feast is made comming from the chacra or farme unto the house,
   saying certaine songs, and praying that the Mays (maize) may long
   continue, the which they call Mama cora.

What a chance this word offers to etymologists of the old school: how
promptly they would recognise, in mama mother--[Greek], and in
cora--[Greek], the Mother and the Maiden, the feast of Demeter and
Persephone!  However, the days of that old school of antiquarianism are
numbered.  To return to the Peruvian harvest home:--

   They take a certaine portion of the most fruitefull of the Mays that
   growes in their farmes, the which they put in a certaine granary which
   they do calle Pirua, with certaine ceremonies, watching three nightes;
   they put this Mays in the richest garments they have, and, being thus
   wrapped and dressed, they worship this Pirua, and hold it in great
   veneration, saying it is the Mother of the Mays of their inheritances,
   and that by this means the Mays augments and is preserved.  In this
   moneth they make a particular sacrifice, and the witches demand of
   this Pirua, 'if it hath strength sufficient to continue until the next
   yeare,' and if it answers 'no,' then they carry this Mays to the farme
   to burne, whence they brought it, according to every man's power, then
   they make another Pirua, with the same ceremonies, saying that they
   renue it, to the ende that the seede of the Mays may not perish.

The idea that the maize can speak need not surprise us; the Mexican held
much the same belief, according to Sahagun:--

   It was thought that if some grains of maize fell on the ground, he who
   saw them lying there was bound to lift them, wherein, if he failed, he
   harmed the maize, which plained itself of him to God, saying, 'Lord,
   punish this man, who saw me fallen and raised me not again; punish him
   with famine, that he may learn not to hold me in dishonour.'

Well, in all this affair of the Scotch kernababy, and the Peruvian Mama
cora, we need no explanation beyond the common simple ideas of human
nature.  We are not obliged to hold, either that the Peruvians and Scotch
are akin by blood, nor that, at some forgotten time, they met each other,
and borrowed each other's superstitions.  Again, when we find Odysseus
sacrificing a black sheep to the dead, {20} and when we read that the
Ovahereroes in South Africa also appease with a black sheep the spirits
of the departed, we do not feel it necessary to hint that the Ovahereroes
are of Greek descent, or have borrowed their ritual from the Greeks.  The
connection between the colour black, and mourning for the dead, is
natural and almost universal.

Examples like these might be adduced in any number.  We might show how,
in magic, negroes of Barbadoes make clay effigies of their enemies, and
pierce them, just as Greeks did in Plato's time, or the men of Accad in
remotest antiquity.  We might remark the Australian black putting sharp
bits of quartz in the tracks of an enemy who has gone by, that the enemy
may be lamed; and we might point to Boris Godunof forbidding the same
practice among the Russians.  We might watch Scotch, and Australians, and
Jews, and French, and Aztecs spreading dust round the body of a dead man,
that the footprints of his ghost, or of other ghosts, may be detected
next morning.  We might point to a similar device in a modern novel,
where the presence of a ghost is suspected, as proof of the similar
workings of the Australian mind and of the mind of Mrs. Riddell.  We
shall later turn to ancient Greece, and show how the serpent-dances, the
habit of smearing the body with clay, and other odd rites of the
mysteries, were common to Hellenic religion, and to the religion of
African, Australian, and American tribes.

Now, with regard to all these strange usages, what is the method of
folklore?  The method is, when an apparently irrational and anomalous
custom is found in any country, to look for a country where a similar
practice is found, and where the practice is no longer irrational and
anomalous, but in harmony with the manners and ideas of the people among
whom it prevails.  That Greeks should dance about in their mysteries with
harmless serpents in their hands looks quite unintelligible.  When a wild
tribe of Red Indians does the same thing, as a trial of courage, with
real rattlesnakes, we understand the Red Man's motives, and may
conjecture that similar motives once existed among the ancestors of the
Greeks.  Our method, then, is to compare the seemingly meaningless
customs or manners of civilised races with the similar customs and
manners which exist among the uncivilised and still retain their meaning.
It is not necessary for comparison of this sort that the uncivilised and
the civilised race should be of the same stock, nor need we prove that
they were ever in contact with each other.  Similar conditions of mind
produce similar practices, apart from identity of race, or borrowing of
ideas and manners.

Let us return to the example of the flint arrowheads.  Everywhere
neolithic arrow-heads are pretty much alike.  The cause of the
resemblance is no more than this, that men, with the same needs, the same
materials, and the same rude instruments, everywhere produced the same
kind of arrow-head.  No hypothesis of interchange of ideas nor of
community of race is needed to explain the resemblance of form in the
missiles.  Very early pottery in any region is, for the same causes, like
very early pottery in any other region.  The same sort of similarity was
explained by the same resemblances in human nature, when we touched on
the identity of magical practices and of superstitious beliefs.  This
method is fairly well established and orthodox when we deal with usages
and superstitious beliefs; but may we apply the same method when we deal
with myths?

Here a difficulty occurs.  Mythologists, as a rule, are averse to the
method of folklore.  They think it scientific to compare only the myths
of races which speak languages of the same family, and of races which
have, in historic times, been actually in proved contact with each other.
Thus, most mythologists hold it correct to compare Greek, Slavonic,
Celtic, and Indian stories, because Greeks, Slavs, Celts, and Hindoos all
speak languages of the same family.  Again, they hold it correct to
compare Chaldaean and Greek myths, because the Greeks and the Chaldaeans
were brought into contact through the Phoenicians, and by other
intermediaries, such as the Hittites.  But the same mythologists will vow
that it is unscientific to compare a Maori or a Hottentot or an Eskimo
myth with an Aryan story, because Maoris and Eskimo and Hottentots do not
speak languages akin to that of Greece, nor can we show that the
ancestors of Greeks, Maoris, Hottentots, and Eskimo were ever in contact
with each other in historical times.

Now the peculiarity of the method of folklore is that it will venture to
compare (with due caution and due examination of evidence) the myths of
the most widely severed races.  Holding that myth is a product of the
early human fancy, working on the most rudimentary knowledge of the outer
world, the student of folklore thinks that differences of race do not
much affect the early mythopoeic faculty.  He will not be surprised if
Greeks and Australian blacks are in the same tale.

In each case, he holds, all the circumstances of the case must be
examined and considered.  For instance, when the Australians tell a myth
about the Pleiades very like the Greek myth of the Pleiades, we must ask
a number of questions.  Is the Australian version authentic?  Can the
people who told it have heard it from a European?  If these questions are
answered so as to make it apparent that the Australian Pleiad myth is of
genuine native origin, we need not fly to the conclusion that the
Australians are a lost and forlorn branch of the Aryan race.  Two other
hypotheses present themselves.  First, the human species is of unknown
antiquity.  In the moderate allowance of 250,000 years, there is time for
stories to have wandered all round the world, as the Aggry beads of
Ashanti have probably crossed the continent from Egypt, as the Asiatic
jade (if Asiatic it be) has arrived in Swiss lake-dwellings, as an
African trade-cowry is said to have been found in a Cornish barrow, as an
Indian Ocean shell has been discovered in a prehistoric bone-cave in
Poland.  This slow filtration of tales is not absolutely out of the
question.  Two causes would especially help to transmit myths.  The first
is slavery and slave-stealing, the second is the habit of capturing
brides from alien stocks, and the law which forbids marriage with a woman
of a man's own family.  Slaves and captured brides would bring their
native legends among alien peoples.

But there is another possible way of explaining the resemblance (granting
that it is proved) of the Greek and Australian Pleiad myth.  The object
of both myths is to account for the grouping and other phenomena of the
constellations.  May not similar explanatory stories have occurred to the
ancestors of the Australians, and to the ancestors of the Greeks, however
remote their home, while they were still in the savage condition?  The
best way to investigate this point is to collect all known savage and
civilised stellar myths, and see what points they have in common.  If
they all agree in character, though the Greek tales are full of grace,
while those of the Australians or Brazilians are rude enough, we may
plausibly account for the similarity of myths, as we accounted for the
similarity of flint arrow-heads.  The myths, like the arrow-heads,
resemble each other because they were originally framed to meet the same
needs out of the same material.  In the case of the arrow-heads, the need
was for something hard, heavy, and sharp--the material was flint.  In the
case of the myths, the need was to explain certain phenomena--the
material (so to speak) was an early state of the human mind, to which all
objects seemed equally endowed with human personality, and to which no
metamorphosis appeared impossible.

In the following essays, then, the myths and customs of various peoples
will be compared, even when these peoples talk languages of alien
families, and have never (as far as history shows us) been in actual
contact.  Our method throughout will be to place the usage, or myth,
which is unintelligible when found among a civilised race, beside the
similar myth which is intelligible enough when it is found among savages.
A mean term will be found in the folklore preserved by the
non-progressive classes in a progressive people.  This folklore
represents, in the midst of a civilised race, the savage ideas out of
which civilisation has been evolved.  The conclusion will usually be that
the fact which puzzles us by its presence in civilisation is a relic
surviving from the time when the ancestors of a civilised race were in
the state of savagery.  By this method it is not necessary that 'some
sort of genealogy should be established' between the Australian and the
Greek narrators of a similar myth, nor between the Greek and Australian
possessors of a similar usage.  The hypothesis will be that the myth, or
usage, is common to both races, not because of original community of
stock, not because of contact and borrowing, but because the ancestors of
the Greeks passed through the savage intellectual condition in which we
find the Australians.

The questions may be asked, Has race nothing, then, to do with myth?  Do
peoples never consciously borrow myths from each other?  The answer is,
that race has a great deal to do with the development of myth, if it be
race which confers on a people its national genius, and its capacity of
becoming civilised.  If race does this, then race affects, in the most
powerful manner, the ultimate development of myth.  No one is likely to
confound a Homeric myth with a myth from the Edda, nor either with a myth
from a Brahmana, though in all three cases the substance, the original
set of ideas, may be much the same.  In all three you have
anthropomorphic gods, capable of assuming animal shapes, tricky,
capricious, limited in many undivine ways, yet endowed with magical
powers.  So far the mythical gods of Homer, of the Edda, of any of the
Brahmanas, are on a level with each other, and not much above the gods of
savage mythology.  This stuff of myth is quod semper, quod ubique, quod
ab omnibus, and is the original gift of the savage intellect.  But the
final treatment, the ultimate literary form of the myth, varies in each
race.  Homeric gods, like Red Indian, Thlinkeet, or Australian gods, can
assume the shapes of birds.  But when we read, in Homer, of the arming of
Athene, the hunting of Artemis, the vision of golden Aphrodite, the
apparition of Hermes, like a young man when the flower of youth is
loveliest, then we recognise the effect of race upon myth, the effect of
the Greek genius at work on rude material.  Between the Olympians and a
Thlinkeet god there is all the difference that exists between the Demeter
of Cnidos and an image from Easter Island.  Again, the Scandinavian gods,
when their tricks are laid aside, when Odin is neither assuming the shape
of worm nor of raven, have a martial dignity, a noble enduring spirit of
their own.  Race comes out in that, as it does in the endless sacrifices,
soma drinking, magical austerities, and puerile follies of Vedic and
Brahmanic gods, the deities of a people fallen early into its sacerdotage
and priestly second childhood.  Thus race declares itself in the ultimate
literary form and character of mythology, while the common savage basis
and stuff of myths may be clearly discerned in the horned, and cannibal,
and shape-shifting, and adulterous gods of Greece, of India, of the
North.  They all show their common savage origin, when the poet neglects
Freya's command and tells of what the gods did 'in the morning of Time.'

As to borrowing, we have already shown that in prehistoric times there
must have been much transmission of myth.  The migrations of peoples, the
traffic in slaves, the law of exogamy, which always keeps bringing alien
women into the families--all these things favoured the migration of myth.
But the process lies behind history: we can only guess at it, we can
seldom trace a popular legend on its travels.  In the case of the
cultivated ancient peoples, we know that they themselves believed they
had borrowed their religions from each other.  When the Greeks first
found the Egyptians practising mysteries like their own, they leaped to
the conclusion that their own rites had been imported from Egypt.  We,
who know that both Greek and Egyptian rites had many points in common
with those of Mandans, Zunis, Bushmen, Australians--people quite
unconnected with Egypt--feel less confident about the hypothesis of
borrowing.  We may, indeed, regard Adonis, and Zeus Bagaeus, and
Melicertes, as importations from Phoenicia.  In later times, too, the
Greeks, and still more the Romans, extended a free hospitality to alien
gods and legends, to Serapis, Isis, the wilder Dionysiac revels, and so
forth.  But this habit of borrowing was regarded with disfavour by pious
conservatives, and was probably, in the width of its hospitality at
least, an innovation.  As Tiele remarks, we cannot derive Dionysus from
the Assyrian Daian nisi, 'judge of men,' a name of the solar god Samas,
without ascertaining that the wine-god exercised judicial functions, and
was a god of the sun.  These derivations, 'shocking to common sense,' are
to be distrusted as part of the intoxication of new learning.  Some
Assyrian scholars actually derive Hades from Bit Edi or Bit Hadi--'though,
unluckily,' says Tiele, 'there is no such word in the Assyrian text.'  On
the whole topic Tiele's essay {28} deserves to be consulted.  Granting,
then, that elements in the worship of Dionysus, Aphrodite, and other
gods, may have been imported with the strange AEgypto-Assyrian vases and
jewels of the Sidonians, we still find the same basis of rude savage
ideas.  We may push back a god from Greece to Phoenicia, from Phoenicia
to Accadia, but, at the end of the end, we reach a legend full of myths
like those which Bushmen tell by the camp-fire, Eskimo in their dark
huts, and Australians in the shade of the gunyeh--myths cruel, puerile,
obscene, like the fancies of the savage myth-makers from which they

A Study of the Mysteries.

As the belated traveller makes his way through the monotonous plains of
Australia, through the Bush, with its level expanses and clumps of grey-
blue gum trees, he occasionally hears a singular sound.  Beginning low,
with a kind of sharp tone thrilling through a whirring noise, it grows
louder and louder, till it becomes a sort of fluttering windy roar.  If
the traveller be a new comer, he is probably puzzled to the last degree.
If he be an Englishman, country-bred, he says to himself, 'Why, that is
the bull-roarer.'  If he knows the colony and the ways of the natives, he
knows that the blacks are celebrating their tribal mysteries.  The
roaring noise is made to warn all women to keep out of the way.  Just as
Pentheus was killed (with the approval of Theocritus) because he profaned
the rites of the women-worshippers of Dionysus, so, among the Australian
blacks, men must, at their peril, keep out of the way of female, and
women out of the way of male, celebrations.

The instrument which produces the sounds that warn women to remain afar
is a toy familiar to English country lads.  They call it the bull-roarer.
The common bull-roarer is an inexpensive toy which anyone can make.  I do
not, however, recommend it to families, for two reasons.  In the first
place, it produces a most horrible and unexampled din, which endears it
to the very young, but renders it detested by persons of mature age.  In
the second place, the character of the toy is such that it will almost
infallibly break all that is fragile in the house where it is used, and
will probably put out the eyes of some of the inhabitants.  Having thus,
I trust, said enough to prevent all good boys from inflicting
bull-roarers on their parents, pastors, and masters, I proceed (in the
interests of science) to show how the toy is made.  Nothing can be less
elaborate.  You take a piece of the commonest wooden board, say the lid
of a packing-case, about a sixth of an inch in thickness, and about eight
inches long and three broad, and you sharpen the ends.  When finished,
the toy may be about the shape of a large bay-leaf, or a 'fish' used as a
counter (that is how the New Zealanders make it), or the sides may be
left plain in the centre, and only sharpened towards the extremities, as
in an Australian example lent me by Mr. Tylor.  Then tie a strong piece
of string, about thirty inches long, to one end of the piece of wood and
the bull-roarer (the Australian natives call it turndun, and the Greeks
called it [Greek]) is complete.  Now twist the end of the string tightly
about your finger, and whirl the bull-roarer rapidly round and round.  For
a few moments nothing will happen.  In a very interesting lecture
delivered at the Royal Institution, Mr. Tylor once exhibited a
bull-roarer.  At first it did nothing particular when it was whirled
round, and the audience began to fear that the experiment was like those
chemical ones often exhibited at institutes in the country, which
contribute at most a disagreeable odour to the education of the populace.
But when the bull-roarer warmed to its work, it justified its name,
producing what may best be described as a mighty rushing noise, as if
some supernatural being 'fluttered and buzzed his wings with fearful
roar.'  Grown-up people, of course, are satisfied with a very brief
experience of this din, but boys have always known the bull-roarer in
England as one of the most efficient modes of making the hideous and
unearthly noises in which it is the privilege of youth to delight.

The bull-roarer has, of all toys, the widest diffusion, and the most
extraordinary history.  To study the bull-roarer is to take a lesson in
folklore.  The instrument is found among the most widely severed peoples,
savage and civilised, and is used in the celebration of savage and
civilised mysteries.  There are students who would found on this a
hypothesis that the various races that use the bull-roarer all descend
from the same stock.  But the bull roarer is introduced here for the very
purpose of showing that similar minds, working with simple means towards
similar ends, might evolve the bull-roarer and its mystic uses anywhere.
There is no need for a hypothesis of common origin, or of borrowing, to
account for this widely diffused sacred object.

The bull-roarer has been, and is, a sacred and magical instrument in many
and widely separated lands.  It is found, always as a sacred instrument,
employed in religious mysteries, in New Mexico, in Australia, in New
Zealand, in ancient Greece, and in Africa; while, as we have seen, it is
a peasant-boy's plaything in England.  A number of questions are
naturally suggested by the bull-roarer.  Is it a thing invented once for
all, and carried abroad over the world by wandering races, or handed on
from one people and tribe to another?  Or is the bull-roarer a toy that
might be accidentally hit on in any country where men can sharpen wood
and twist the sinews of animals into string?  Was the thing originally a
toy, and is its religious and mystical nature later; or was it originally
one of the properties of the priest, or medicine-man, which in England
has dwindled to a plaything?  Lastly, was this mystical instrument at
first employed in the rites of a civilised people like the Greeks, and
was it in some way borrowed or inherited by South Africans, Australians,
and New Mexicans?  Or is it a mere savage invention, surviving (like
certain other features of the Greek mysteries) from a distant stage of
savagery?  Our answer to all these questions is that in all probability
the presence of the [Greek], or bull-roarer, in Greek mysteries was a
survival from the time when Greeks were in the social condition of

In the first place, the bull-roarer is associated with mysteries and
initiations.  Now mysteries and initiations are things that tend to
dwindle and to lose their characteristic features as civilisation
advances.  The rites of baptism and confirmation are not secret and
hidden; they are common to both sexes, they are publicly performed, and
religion and morality of the purest sort blend in these ceremonies.  There
are no other initiations or mysteries that civilised modern man is
expected necessarily to pass through.  On the other hand, looking widely
at human history, we find mystic rites and initiations numerous,
stringent, severe, and magical in character, in proportion to the lack of
civilisation in those who practise them.  The less the civilisation, the
more mysterious and the more cruel are the rites.  The more cruel the
rites, the less is the civilisation.  The red-hot poker with which Mr.
Bouncer terrified Mr. Verdant Green at the sham masonic rites would have
been quite in place, a natural instrument of probationary torture, in the
Freemasonry of Australians, Mandans, or Hottentots.  In the mysteries of
Demeter or Bacchus, in the mysteries of a civilised people, the red-hot
poker, or any other instrument of torture, would have been out of place.
But in the Greek mysteries, just as in those of South Africans, Red
Indians, and Australians, the disgusting practice of bedaubing the
neophyte with dirt and clay was preserved.  We have nothing quite like
that in modern initiations.  Except at Sparta, Greeks dropped the
tortures inflicted on boys and girls in the initiations superintended by
the cruel Artemis. {33}  But Greek mysteries retained the daubing with
mud and the use of the bull-roarer.  On the whole, then, and on a general
view of the subject, we prefer to think that the bull-roarer in Greece
was a survival from savage mysteries, not that the bull-roarer in New
Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa is a relic of

Let us next observe a remarkable peculiarity of the turndun, or
Australian bull-roarer.  The bull-roarer in England is a toy.  In
Australia, according to Howitt and Fison, {34} the bull-roarer is
regarded with religious awe.  'When, on lately meeting with two of the
surviving Kurnai, I spoke to them of the turndun, they first looked
cautiously round them to see that no one else was looking, and then
answered me in undertones.'  The chief peculiarity in connection with the
turndun is that women may never look upon it.  The Chepara tribe, who
call it bribbun, have a custom that, 'if seen by a woman, or shown by a
man to a woman, the punishment to both is _death_.'

Among the Kurnai, the sacred mystery of the turndun is preserved by a
legend, which gives a supernatural sanction to secrecy.  When boys go
through the mystic ceremony of initiation they are shown turnduns, or
bull-roarers, and made to listen to their hideous din.  They are then
told that, if ever a woman is allowed to see a turndun, the earth will
open, and water will cover the globe.  The old men point spears at the
boy's eyes, saying: 'If you tell this to any woman you will die, you will
see the ground broken up and like the sea; if you tell this to any woman,
or to any child, you will be killed!'  As in Athens, in Syria, and among
the Mandans, the deluge-tradition of Australia is connected with the
mysteries.  In Gippsland there is a tradition of the deluge.  'Some
children of the Kurnai in playing about found a turndun, which they took
home to the camp and showed the women.  Immediately the earth crumbled
away, and it was all water, and the Kurnai were drowned.'

In consequence of all this mummery the Australian women attach great
sacredness to the very name of the turndun.  They are much less
instructed in their own theology than the men of the tribe.  One woman
believed she had heard Pundjel, the chief supernatural being, descend in
a mighty rushing noise, that is, in the sound of the turndun, when boys
were being 'made men,' or initiated. {35}  On turnduns the Australian
sorcerers can fly up to heaven.  Turnduns carved with imitations of water-
flowers are used by medicine-men in rain-making.  New Zealand also has
her bull-roarers; some of them, carved in relief, are in the Christy
Museum, and one is engraved here.  I have no direct evidence as to the
use of these Maori bull-roarers in the Maori mysteries.  Their
employment, however, may perhaps be provisionally inferred.

One can readily believe that the New Zealand bull-roarer may be whirled
by any man who is repeating a Karakia, or 'charm to raise the wind':--

   Loud wind,
   Lasting wind,
   Violent whistling wind,
   Dig up the calm reposing sky,
      Come, come.

In New Zealand {36a} 'the natives regarded the wind as an indication of
the presence of their god,' a superstition not peculiar to Maori
religion.  The 'cold wind' felt blowing over the hands at spiritualistic
seances is also regarded (by psychical researchers) as an indication of
the presence of supernatural beings.  The windy roaring noise made by the
bull-roarer might readily be considered by savages, either as an
invitation to a god who should present himself in storm, or as a proof of
his being at hand.  We have seen that this view was actually taken by an
Australian woman.  The hymn called 'breath,' or haha, a hymn to the
mystic wind, is pronounced by Maori priests at the moment of the
initiation of young men in the tribal mysteries.  It is a mere
conjecture, and possibly enough capable of disproof, but we have a
suspicion that the use of the mystica vannus Iacchi was a mode of raising
a sacred wind analogous to that employed by whirlers of the turndun.

Servius, the ancient commentator on Virgil, mentions, among other
opinions, this--that the vannus was a sieve, and that it symbolised the
purifying effect of the mysteries.  But it is clear that Servius was only
guessing; and he offers other explanations, among them that the vannus
was a crate to hold offerings, primitias frugum.

We have studied the bull-roarer in Australia, we have caught a glimpse of
it in England.  Its existence on the American continent is proved by
letters from New Mexico, and by a passage in Mr. Frank Cushing's
'Adventures in Zuni.' {37}  In Zuni, too, among a semi-civilised Indian
tribe, or rather a tribe which has left the savage for the barbaric
condition, we find the bull-roarer.  Here, too, the instrument--a 'slat,'
Mr. Gushing calls it--is used as a call to the ceremonial observance of
the tribal ritual.  The Zunis have various 'orders of a more or less
sacred and sacerdotal character.'  Mr. Cushing writes:--

   These orders were engaged in their annual ceremonials, of which little
   was told or shown me; but, at the end of four days, I heard one
   morning a _deep whirring noise_.  Running out, I saw a procession of
   three priests of the bow, in plumed helmets and closely-fitting
   cuirasses, both of thick buckskin--gorgeous and solemn with sacred
   embroideries and war-paint, begirt with bows, arrows, and war-clubs,
   and each distinguished by his badge of degree--coming down one of the
   narrow streets.  The principal priest carried in his arms a wooden
   idol, ferocious in aspect, yet beautiful with its decorations of
   shell, turquoise, and brilliant paint.  It was nearly hidden by
   symbolic slats and prayer-sticks most elaborately plumed.  He was
   preceded by a guardian with drawn bow and arrows, while another
   followed, _twirling the sounding slat_, which had attracted alike my
   attention and that of hundreds of the Indians, who hurriedly flocked
   to the roofs of the adjacent houses, or lined the street, bowing their
   heads in adoration, and scattering sacred prayer-meal on the god and
   his attendant priests.  Slowly they wound their way down the hill,
   across the river, and off toward the mountain of Thunder.  Soon an
   identical procession followed and took its way toward the western
   hills.  I watched them long until they disappeared, and a few hours
   afterward there arose from the top of 'Thunder Mountain' a dense
   column of smoke, simultaneously with another from the more distant
   western mesa of 'U-ha-na-mi,' or 'Mount of the Beloved.'

   Then they told me that for four days I must neither touch nor eat
   flesh or oil of any kind, and for ten days neither throw any refuse
   from my doors, nor permit a spark to leave my house, for 'This was the
   season of the year when the "grandmother of men" (fire) was precious.'

Here then, in Zuni, we have the bull-roarer again, and once more we find
it employed as a summons to the mysteries.  We do not learn, however,
that women in Zuni are forbidden to look upon the bull-roarer.  Finally,
the South African evidence, which is supplied by letters from a
correspondent of Mr. Tylor's, proves that in South Africa, too, the bull-
roarer is employed to call the men to the celebration of secret
functions.  A minute description of the instrument, and of its magical
power to raise a wind, is given in Theal's 'Kaffir Folklore,' p. 209.  The
bull-roarer has not been made a subject of particular research; very
probably later investigations will find it in other parts of the modern
world besides America, Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.  I have myself
been fortunate enough to encounter the bull-roarer on the soil of ancient
Greece and in connection with the Dionysiac mysteries.  Clemens of
Alexandria, and Arnobius, an early Christian father who follows Clemens,
describe certain toys of the child Dionysus which were used in the
mysteries.  Among these are _turbines_, [Greek], and [Greek].  The
ordinary dictionaries interpret all these as whipping-tops, adding that
[Greek] is sometimes 'a magic wheel.'  The ancient scholiast on Clemens,
however, writes: 'The [Greek] is a little piece of wood, to which a
string is fastened, and in the mysteries it is whirled round to make a
roaring noise.' {39}  Here, in short, we have a brief but complete
description of the bull-roarer of the Australian turndun.  No single
point is omitted.  The [Greek], like the turndun, is a small object of
wood, it is tied to a string, when whirled round it produces a roaring
noise, and it is used at initiations.  This is not the end of the matter.

In the part of the Dionysiac mysteries at which the toys of the child
Dionysus were exhibited, and during which (as it seems) the [Greek], or
bull-roarer, was whirred, the performers daubed themselves all over with
clay.  This we learn from a passage in which Demosthenes describes the
youth of his hated adversary, AEschines.  The mother of AEschines, he
says, was a kind of 'wise woman,' and dabbler in mysteries.  AEschines
used to aid her by bedaubing the initiate over with clay and bran. {40a}
The word [Greek], here used by Demosthenes, is explained by Harpocration
as the ritual term for daubing the initiated.  A story was told, as
usual, to explain this rite.  It was said that, when the Titans attacked
Dionysus and tore him to pieces, they painted themselves first with clay,
or gypsum, that they might not be recognised.  Nonnus shows, in several
places, that down to his time the celebrants of the Bacchic mysteries
retained this dirty trick.  Precisely the same trick prevails in the
mysteries of savage peoples.  Mr. Winwood Reade {40b} reports the
evidence of Mongilomba.  When initiated, Mongilomba was 'severely flogged
in the Fetich House' (as young Spartans were flogged before the animated
image of Artemis), and then he was 'plastered over with goat-dung.'  Among
the natives of Victoria, {40c} the 'body of the initiated is bedaubed
with clay, mud, charcoal powder, and filth of every kind.'  The girls are
plastered with charcoal powder and white clay, answering to the Greek
gypsum.  Similar daubings were performed at the mysteries by the Mandans,
as described by Catlin; and the Zunis made raids on Mr. Cushing's black
paint and Chinese ink for like purposes.  On the Congo, Mr. Johnson found
precisely the same ritual in the initiations.  Here, then, not to
multiply examples, we discover two singular features in common between
Greek and savage mysteries.  Both Greeks and savages employ the
bull-roarer, both bedaub the initiated with dirt or with white paint or
chalk.  As to the meaning of the latter very un-Aryan practice, one has
no idea.  It is only certain that war parties of Australian blacks bedaub
themselves with white clay to alarm their enemies in night attacks.  The
Phocians, according to Herodotus (viii. 27), adopted the same 'aisy
stratagem,' as Captain Costigan has it.  Tellies, the medicine-man
([Greek]), chalked some sixty Phocians, whom he sent to make a night
attack on the Thessalians.  The sentinels of the latter were seized with
supernatural horror, and fled, 'and after the sentinels went the army.'
In the same way, in a night attack among the Australian Kurnai, {41a}
'they all rapidly painted themselves with pipe-clay: red ochre is no use,
it cannot frighten an enemy.'  If, then, Greeks in the historic period
kept up Australian tactics, it is probable that the ancient mysteries of
Greece might retain the habit of daubing the initiated which occurs in
savage rites.

'Come now,' as Herodotus would say, 'I will show once more that the
mysteries of the Greeks resemble those of Bushmen.'  In Lucian's Treatise
on Dancing, {41b} we read, 'I pass over the fact that you cannot find a
single ancient mystery in which there is not dancing. . . . To prove this
I will not mention the secret acts of worship, on account of the
uninitiated.  But this much all men know, that most people say of those
who reveal the mysteries, that they "dance them out."'  Here Liddell and
Scott write, rather weakly, 'to dance out, let out, betray, probably of
some dance which burlesqued these ceremonies.'  It is extremely
improbable that, in an age when it was still forbidden to reveal the
[Greek], or secret rites, those rites would be mocked in popular
burlesques.  Lucian obviously intends to say that the matter of the
mysteries was set forth in ballets d'action.  Now this is exactly the
case in the surviving mysteries of the Bushmen.  Shortly after the
rebellion of Langalibalele's tribe, Mr. Orpen, the chief magistrate in
St. John's Territory, made the acquaintance of Qing, one of the last of
an all but exterminated tribe.  Qing 'had never seen a white man, except
fighting,' when he became Mr. Orpen's guide.  He gave a good deal of
information about the myths of his people, but refused to answer certain
questions.  'You are now asking the secrets that are not spoken of.'  Mr.
Orpen asked, 'Do you know the secrets?'  Qing replied, 'No, only the
initiated men of that dance know these things.'  To 'dance' this or that
means, 'to be acquainted with this or that mystery;' the dances were
originally taught by Cagn, the mantis, or grasshopper god.  In many
mysteries, Qing, as a young man, was not initiated.  He could not 'dance
them out.' {42}

There are thus undeniably close resemblances between the Greek mysteries
and those of the lowest contemporary races.

As to the bull-roarer, its recurrence among Greeks, Zunis, Kamilaroi,
Maoris, and South African races, would be regarded, by some students, as
a proof that all these tribes had a common origin, or had borrowed the
instrument from each other.  But this theory is quite unnecessary.  The
bull-roarer is a very simple invention.  Anyone might find out that a bit
of sharpened wood, tied to a string, makes, when whirred, a roaring
noise.  Supposing that discovery made, it is soon turned to practical
use.  All tribes have their mysteries.  All want a signal to summon the
right persons together and warn the wrong persons to keep out of the way.
The church bell does as much for us, so did the shaken seistron for the
Egyptians.  People with neither bells nor seistra find the bull-roarer,
with its mysterious sound, serve their turn.  The hiding of the
instrument from women is natural enough.  It merely makes the alarm and
absence of the curious sex doubly sure.  The stories of supernatural
consequences to follow if a woman sees the turndun lend a sanction.  This
is not a random theory, without basis.  In Brazil, the natives have no
bull-roarer, but they have mysteries, and the presence of the women at
the mysteries of the men is a terrible impiety.  To warn away the women,
the Brazilians make loud 'devil-music' on what are called 'jurupari
pipes.'  Now, just as in Australia, _the women may not see the jurupari
pipes on pain of death_.  When the sound of the jurupari pipes is heard,
as when the turndun is heard in Australia, every woman flees and hides
herself.  The women are always executed if they see the pipes.  Mr.
Alfred Wallace bought a pair of these pipes, but he had to embark them at
a distance from the village where they were procured.  The seller was
afraid that some unknown misfortune would occur if the women of his
village set eyes on the juruparis. {44}

The conclusion from all these facts seems obvious.  The bull-roarer is an
instrument easily invented by savages, and easily adopted into the ritual
of savage mysteries.  If we find the bull-roarer used in the mysteries of
the most civilised of ancient peoples, the most probable explanation is,
that the Greeks retained both the mysteries, the bull-roarer, the habit
of bedaubing the initiate, the torturing of boys, the sacred obscenities,
the antics with serpents, the dances, and the like, from the time when
their ancestors were in the savage condition.  That more refined and
religious ideas were afterwards introduced into the mysteries seems
certain, but the rites were, in many cases, simply savage.  Unintelligible
(except as survivals) when found among Hellenes, they become intelligible
enough among savages, because they correspond to the intellectual
condition and magical fancies of the lower barbarism.  The same sort of
comparison, the same kind of explanation, will account, as we shall see,
for the savage myths as well as for the savage customs which survived
among the Greeks.


In a Maori pah, when a little boy behaves rudely to his parents, he is
sometimes warned that he is 'as bad as cruel Tutenganahau.'  If he asks
who Tutenganahau was, he is told the following story:--

'In the beginning, the Heaven, Rangi, and the Earth, Papa, were the
father and mother of all things.  "In these days the Heaven lay upon the
Earth, and all was darkness.  They had never been separated."  Heaven and
Earth had children, who grew up and lived in this thick night, and they
were unhappy because they could not see.  Between the bodies of their
parents they were imprisoned, and there was no light.  The names of the
children were Tumatuenga, Tane Mahuta, Tutenganahau, and some others.  So
they all consulted as to what should be done with their parents, Rangi
and Papa.  "Shall we slay them, or shall we separate them?"  "Go to,"
said Tumatuenga, "let us slay them."  "No," cried Tane Mahuta, "let us
rather separate them.  Let one go upwards, and become a stranger to us;
let the other remain below, and be a parent to us."  Only Tawhiri Matea
(the wind) had pity on his own father and mother.  Then the fruit-gods,
and the war-god, and the sea-god (for all the children of Papa and Rangi
were gods) tried to rend their parents asunder.  Last rose the forest-
god, cruel Tutenganahau.  He severed the sinews which united Heaven and
Earth, Rangi and Papa.  Then he pushed hard with his head and feet.  Then
wailed Heaven and exclaimed Earth, "Wherefore this murder?  Why this
great sin?  Why destroy us?  Why separate us?"  But Tane pushed and
pushed: Rangi was driven far away into the air.  "_They became visible,
who had hitherto been concealed between the hollows of their parents'
breasts_."  Only the storm-god differed from his brethren: he arose and
followed his father, Rangi, and abode with him in the open spaces of the

This is the Maori story of the severing of the wedded Heaven and Earth.
The cutting of them asunder was the work of Tutenganahau and his
brethren, and the conduct of Tutenganahau is still held up as an example
of filial impiety. {46a}  The story is preserved in sacred hymns of very
great antiquity, and many of the myths are common to the other peoples of
the Pacific. {46b}

Now let us turn from New Zealand to Athens, as she was in the days of
Pericles.  Socrates is sitting in the porch of the King Archon, when
Euthyphro comes up and enters into conversation with the philosopher.
After some talk, Euthyphro says, 'You will think me mad when I tell you
whom I am prosecuting and pursuing!'  'Why, has the fugitive wings?' asks
Socrates.  'Nay, he is not very volatile at his time of life!'  'Who is
he?'  'My father.'  'Good heavens! you don't mean that.  What is he
accused of?'  'Murder, Socrates.'  Then Euthyphro explains the case,
which quaintly illustrates Greek civilisation.  Euthyphro's father had an
agricultural labourer at Naxos.  One day this man, in a drunken passion,
killed a slave.  Euthyphro's father seized the labourer, bound him, threw
him into a ditch, 'and then sent to Athens to ask a diviner what should
be done with him.'  Before the answer of the diviner arrived, the
labourer literally 'died in a ditch' of hunger and cold.  For this
offence, Euthyphro was prosecuting his own father.  Socrates shows that
he disapproves, and Euthyphro thus defends the piety of his own conduct:
'The impious, whoever he may be, ought not to go unpunished.  For do not
men regard Zeus as the best and most righteous of gods?  Yet even they
admit that Zeus bound his own father Cronus, because he wickedly devoured
his sons; and that Cronus, too, had punished his own father, Uranus, for
a similar reason, in a nameless manner.  And yet when _I_ proceed against
_my_ father, people are angry with me.  This is their inconsistent way of
talking, when the gods are concerned, and when I am concerned.'

Here Socrates breaks in.  He 'cannot away with these stories about the
gods,' and so he has just been accused of impiety, the charge for which
he died.  Socrates cannot believe that a god, Cronus, mutilated his
father Uranus, but Euthyphro believes the whole affair: 'I can tell you
many other things about the gods which would quite amaze you.' {48}

* * * * *

We have here a typical example of the way in which mythology puzzled the
early philosophers of Greece.  Socrates was anxious to be pious, and to
respect the most ancient traditions of the gods.  Yet at the very outset
of sacred history he was met by tales of gods who mutilated and bound
their own parents.  Not only were such tales hateful to him, but they
were of positively evil example to people like Euthyphro.  The problem
remained, how did the fathers of the Athenians ever come to tell such

* * * * *

Let us now examine the myth of Cronus, and the explanations which have
been given by scholars.  Near the beginning of things, according to
Hesiod (whose cosmogony was accepted in Greece), Earth gave birth to
Heaven.  Later, Heaven, Uranus, became the husband of Gaea, Earth.  Just
as Rangi and Papa, in New Zealand, had many children, so had Uranus and
Gaea.  As in New Zealand, some of these children were gods of the various
elements.  Among them were Oceanus, the deep, and Hyperion, the sun--as
among the children of Earth and Heaven, in New Zealand, were the Wind and
the Sea.  The youngest child of the Greek Heaven and Earth was 'Cronus of
crooked counsel, who ever hated his mighty sire.'  Now even as the
children of the Maori Heaven and Earth were 'concealed between the
hollows of their parents' breasts,' so the Greek Heaven used to 'hide his
children from the light in the hollows of Earth.'  Both Earth and her
children resented this, and, as in New Zealand, the children conspired
against Heaven, taking Earth, however, into their counsels.  Thereupon
Earth produced iron, and bade her children avenge their wrongs. {49a}  Now
fear fell on all of them, except Cronus, who, like Tutenganahau, was all
for action.  Cronus determined to end the embraces of Heaven and Earth.
But, while the Maori myth conceives of Heaven and Earth as of two beings
which have never been separated before, Hesiod makes Heaven amorously
approach his wife from a distance.  Then Cronus stretched out his hand,
armed with a sickle of iron, or steel, and mutilated Uranus.  Thus were
Heaven and Earth practically divorced.  But as in the Maori myth one of
the children of Heaven clave to his sire, so, in Greek, Oceanus remained
faithful to his father. {49b}

This is the first portion of the Myth of Cronus.  Can it be denied that
the story is well illustrated and explained by the New Zealand parallel,
the myth of the cruelty of Tutenganahau?  By means of this comparison,
the meaning of the myth is made clear enough.  Just as the New Zealanders
had conceived of Heaven and Earth as at one time united, to the prejudice
of their children, so the ancestors of the Greeks had believed in an
ancient union of Heaven and Earth.  Both by Greeks and Maoris, Heaven and
Earth were thought of as living persons, with human parts and passions.
Their union was prejudicial to their children, and so the children
violently separated the parents.  This conduct is regarded as impious,
and as an awful example to be avoided, in Maori pahs.  In Naxos, on the
other hand, Euthyphro deemed that the conduct of Cronus deserved
imitation.  If ever the Maoris had reached a high civilisation, they
would probably have been revolted, like Socrates, by the myth which
survived from their period of savagery.  Mr. Tylor well says, {50a} 'Just
as the adzes of polished jade, and the cloaks of tied flax-fibre, which
these New Zealanders were using but yesterday, are older in their place
in history than the bronze battle-axes and linen mummy-cloths of ancient
Egypt, so the Maori poet's shaping of nature into nature-myth belongs to
a stage of intellectual history which was passing away in Greece five-and-
twenty centuries ago.  The myth-maker's fancy of Heaven and Earth as
father and mother of all things naturally suggested the legend that they
in old days abode together, but have since been torn asunder.'

* * * * *

That this view of Heaven and Earth is natural to early minds, Mr. Tylor
proves by the presence of the myth of the union and violent divorce of
the pair in China. {50b}  Puang-ku is the Chinese Cronus, or
Tutenganahau.  In India, {50c} Dyaus and Prithivi, Heaven and Earth, were
once united, and were severed by Indra, their own child.

This, then, is our interpretation of the exploit of Cronus.  It is an old
surviving nature-myth of the severance of Heaven and Earth, a myth found
in China, India, New Zealand, as well as in Greece.  Of course it is not
pretended that Chinese and Maoris borrowed from Indians and Greeks, or
came originally of the same stock.  Similar phenomena, presenting
themselves to be explained by human minds in a similar stage of fancy and
of ignorance, will account for the parallel myths.

The second part of the myth of Cronus was, like the first, a stumbling-
block to the orthodox in Greece.  Of the second part we offer no
explanation beyond the fact that the incidents in the myth are almost
universally found among savages, and that, therefore, in Greece they are
probably survivals from savagery.  The sequel of the myth appears to
account for nothing, as the first part accounts for the severance of
Heaven and Earth.  In the sequel a world-wide Marchen, or tale, seems to
have been attached to Cronus, or attracted into the cycle of which he is
centre, without any particular reason, beyond the law which makes
detached myths crystallise round any celebrated name.  To look further
is, perhaps, chercher raison ou il n'y en a pas.

The conclusion of the story of Cronus runs thus:--He wedded his sister,
Rhea, and begat children--Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and, lastly,
Zeus.  'And mighty Cronus swallowed down each of them, each that came to
their mother's knees from her holy womb, with this intent, that none
other of the proud children of Uranus should hold kingly sway among the
Immortals.'  Cronus showed a ruling father's usual jealousy of his heirs.
It was a case of Friedrich Wilhelm and Friedrich.  But Cronus (acting in
a way natural in a story perhaps first invented by cannibals) swallowed
his children instead of merely imprisoning them.  Heaven and Earth had
warned him to beware of his heirs, and he could think of no safer plan
than that which he adopted.  When Rhea was about to become the mother of
Zeus, she fled to Crete.  Here Zeus was born, and when Cronus (in pursuit
of his usual policy) asked for the baby, he was presented with a stone
wrapped up in swaddling bands.  After swallowing the stone, Cronus was
easy in his mind; but Zeus grew up, administered a dose to his father,
and compelled him to disgorge.  'The stone came forth first, as he had
swallowed it last.' {52a}   The other children also emerged, all alive
and well.  Zeus fixed the stone at Delphi, where, long after the
Christian era, Pausanias saw it. {52b}  It was not a large stone,
Pausanias tells us, and the Delphians used to anoint it with oil and wrap
it up in wool on feast-days.  All Greek temples had their fetich-stones,
and each stone had its legend.  This was the story of the Delphian stone,
and of the fetichism which survived the early years of Christianity.  A
very pretty story it is.  Savages more frequently smear their
fetich-stones with red paint than daub them with oil, but the latter, as
we learn from Theophrastus's account of the 'superstitious man,' was the
Greek ritual.

* * * * *

This anecdote about Cronus was the stumbling-block of the orthodox Greek,
the jest of the sceptic, and the butt of the early Christian
controversialists.  Found among Bushmen or Australians the narrative
might seem rather wild, but it astonishes us still more when it occurs in
the holy legends of Greece.  Our explanation of its presence there is
simple enough.  Like the erratic blocks in a modern plain, like the flint-
heads in a meadow, the story is a relic of a very distant past.  The
glacial age left the boulders on the plain, the savage tribes of long ago
left the arrowheads, the period of savage fancy left the story of Cronus
and the rites of the fetich-stone.  Similar rites are still notoriously
practised in the South Sea Islands, in Siberia, in India and Africa and
Melanesia, by savages.  And by savages similar tales are still told.

* * * * *

We cannot go much lower than the Bushmen, and among Bushman divine myths
is room for the 'swallowing trick' attributed to Cronus by Hesiod.  The
chief divine character in Bushman myth is the Mantis insect.  His adopted
daughter is the child of Kwai Hemm, a supernatural character, 'the all-
devourer.'  The Mantis gets his adopted daughter to call the swallower to
his aid; but Kwai Hemm swallows the Mantis, the god-insect.  As Zeus made
his own wife change herself into an insect, for the convenience of
swallowing her, there is not much difference between Bushman and early
Greek mythology.  Kwai Hemm is killed by a stratagem, and all the animals
whom he has got outside of, in a long and voracious career, troop forth
from him alive and well, like the swallowed gods from the maw of Cronus.
{54a}  Now, story for story, the Bushman version is much less offensive
than that of Hesiod.  But the Bushman story is just the sort of story we
expect from Bushmen, whereas the Hesiodic story is not at all the kind of
tale we look for from Greeks.  The explanation is, that the Greeks had
advanced out of a savage state of mind and society, but had retained
their old myths, myths evolved in the savage stage, and in harmony with
that condition of fancy.  Among the Kaffirs {54b} we find the same
'swallow-myth.'  The Igongqongqo swallows all and sundry; a woman cuts
the swallower with a knife, and 'people came out, and cattle, and dogs.'
In Australia, a god is swallowed.  As in the myth preserved by
Aristophanes in the 'Birds,' the Australians believe that birds were the
original gods, and the eagle, especially, is a great creative power.  The
Moon was a mischievous being, who walked about the world, doing what evil
he could.  One day he swallowed the eagle-god.  The wives of the eagle
came up, and the Moon asked them where he might find a well.  They
pointed out a well, and, as he drank, they hit the Moon with a stone
tomahawk, and out flew the eagle. {54c}  This is oddly like Grimm's tale
of 'The Wolf and the Kids.'  The wolf swallowed the kids, their mother
cut a hole in the wolf, let out the kids, stuffed the wolf with stones,
and sewed him up again.  The wolf went to the well to drink, the weight
of the stones pulled him in, and he was drowned.  Similar stories are
common among the Red Indians, and Mr. Im Thurn has found them in Guiana.
How savages all over the world got the idea that men and beasts could be
swallowed and disgorged alive, and why they fashioned the idea into a
divine myth, it is hard to say.  Mr. Tylor, in 'Primitive Culture,' {55a}
adds many examples of the narrative.  The Basutos have it; it occurs some
five times in Callaway's 'Zulu Nursery Tales.'  In Greenland the Eskimo
have a shape of the incident, and we have all heard of the escape of

It has been suggested that night, covering up the world, gave the first
idea of the swallowing myth.  Now in some of the stories the night is
obviously conceived of as a big beast which swallows all things.  The
notion that night is an animal is entirely in harmony with savage
metaphysics.  In the opinion of the savage speculator, all things are men
and animals.  'Ils se persuadent que non seulement les hommes et les
autres animaux, mais aussi que toutes les autres choses sont animees,'
says one of the old Jesuit missionaries in Canada. {55b}  'The wind was
formerly a person; he became a bird,' say the Bushmen.

G' oo ka! Kui (a very respectable Bushman, whose name seems a little hard
to pronounce), once saw the wind-person at Haarfontein.  Savages, then,
are persuaded that night, sky, cloud, fire, and so forth, are only the
schein, or sensuous appearance, of things that, in essence, are men or
animals.  A good example is the bringing of Night to Vanua Lava, by Qat,
the 'culture-hero' of Melanesia.  At first it was always day, and people
tired of it.  Qat heard that Night was at the Torres Islands, and he set
forth to get some.  Qong (Night) received Qat well, blackened his
eyebrows, showed him Sleep, and sent him off with fowls to bring Dawn
after the arrival of Night should make Dawn a necessary.  Next day Qat's
brothers saw the sun crawl away west, and presently Night came creeping
up from the sea.  'What is this?' cried the brothers.  'It is Night,'
said Qat; 'sit down, and when you feel something in your eyes, lie down
and keep quiet.'  So they went to sleep.  'When Night had lasted long
enough, Qat took a piece of red obsidian, and cut the darkness, and the
Dawn came out.' {56}

Night is more or less personal in this tale, and solid enough to be cut,
so as to let the Dawn out.  This savage conception of night, as the
swallower and disgorger, might start the notion of other swallowing and
disgorging beings.  Again the Bushmen, and other savage peoples, account
for certain celestial phenomena by saying that 'a big star has swallowed
his daughter, and spit her out again.'  While natural phenomena,
explained on savage principles, might give the data of the swallow-myth,
we must not conclude that all beings to whom the story is attached are,
therefore, the Night.  On this principle Cronus would be the Night, and
so would the wolf in Grimm.  For our purposes it is enough that the feat
of Cronus is a feat congenial to the savage fancy and repugnant to the
civilised Greeks who found themselves in possession of the myth.  Beyond
this, and beyond the inference that the Cronus myth was first evolved by
people to whom it seemed quite natural, that is, by savages, we do not
pretend to go in our interpretation.

* * * * *

To end our examination of the Myth of Cronus, we may compare the
solutions offered by scholars.  As a rule, these solutions are based on
the philological analysis of the names in the story.  It will be seen
that very various and absolutely inconsistent etymologies and meanings of
Cronus are suggested by philologists of the highest authority.  These
contradictions are, unfortunately, rather the rule than the exception in
the etymological interpretation of myths.

* * * * *

The opinion of Mr. Max Muller has always a right to the first hearing
from English inquirers.  Mr. Muller, naturally, examines first the name
of the god whose legend he is investigating.  He writes: 'There is no
such being as Kronos in Sanskrit.  Kronos did not exist till long after
Zeus in Greece.  Zeus was called by the Greeks the son of Time ([Greek]).
This is a very simple and very common form of mythological expression.  It
meant originally, not that time was the origin or source of Zeus, but
[Greek] or [Greek] was used in the sense of "connected with time,
representing time, existing through all time."  Derivatives in -[Greek]
and -[Greek] took, in later times, the more exclusive meaning of
patronymics. . . .  When this (the meaning of [Greek] as equivalent to
Ancient of Days) ceased to be understood, . . . people asked themselves
the question, Why is Zeus called [Greek]?  And the natural and almost
inevitable answer was, Because he is the son, the offspring of a more
ancient god, Kronos.  This may be a very old myth in Greece; but the
misunderstanding which gave rise to it could have happened in Greece
only.  We cannot expect, therefore, a god Kronos in the Veda.'  To expect
Greek in the Veda would certainly be sanguine.  'When this myth of Kronos
had once been started, it would roll on irresistibly.  If Zeus had once a
father called Kronos, Kronos must have a wife.'  It is added, as
confirmation, that 'the name of [Greek] belongs originally to Zeus only,
and not to his later' (in Hesiod elder) 'brothers, Poseidon and Hades.'

Mr. Muller says, in his famous essay on 'Comparative Mythology' {58b}:
'How can we imagine that a few generations before that time' (the age of
Solon) 'the highest notions of the Godhead among the Greeks were
adequately expressed by the story of Uranos maimed by Kronos,--of Kronos
eating his children, swallowing a stone, and vomiting out alive his whole
progeny.  Among the lowest tribes of Africa and America, we hardly find
anything more hideous and revolting.'  We have found a good deal of the
sort in Africa and America, where it seems not out of place.

One objection to Mr. Muller's theory is, that it makes the mystery no
clearer.  When Greeks were so advanced in Hellenism that their own early
language had become obsolete and obscure, they invented the god [Greek],
to account for the patronymic (as they deemed it) [Greek], son of
[Greek].  But why did they tell such savage and revolting stories about
the god they had invented?  Mr. Muller only says the myth 'would roll on
irresistibly.'  But why did the rolling myth gather such very strange
moss?  That is the problem; and, while Mr. Muller's hypothesis accounts
for the existence of a god called [Greek], it does not even attempt to
show how full-blown Greeks came to believe such hideous stories about the

* * * * *

This theory, therefore, is of no practical service.  The theory of
Adalbert Kuhn, one of the most famous of Sanskrit scholars, and author of
'Die Herabkunft des Feuers,' is directly opposed to the ideas of Mr.
Muller.  In Cronus, Mr. Muller recognises a god who could only have come
into being among Greeks, when the Greeks had begun to forget the original
meaning of 'derivatives in -[Greek] and -[Greek].'  Kuhn, on the other
hand, derives [Greek] from the same root as the Sanskrit Krana. {59}
Krana means, it appears, der fur sich schaffende, he who creates for
himself, and Cronus is compared to the Indian Pragapati, about whom even
more abominable stories are told than the myths which circulate to the
prejudice of Cronus.  According to Kuhn, the 'swallow-myth' means that
Cronus, the lord of light and dark powers, swallows the divinities of
light.  But in place of Zeus (that is, according to Kuhn, of the daylight
sky) he swallows a stone, that is, the sun.  When he disgorges the stone
(the sun), he also disgorges the gods of light whom he had swallowed.

I confess that I cannot understand these distinctions between the father
and lord of light and dark (Cronus) and the beings he swallowed.  Nor do
I find it easy to believe that myth-making man took all those
distinctions, or held those views of the Creator.  However, the chief
thing to note is that Mr. Muller's etymology and Kuhn's etymology of
Cronus can hardly both be true, which, as their systems both depend on
etymological analysis, is somewhat discomfiting.

The next etymological theory is the daring speculation of Mr. Brown.  In
'The Great Dionysiak Myth' {60a} Mr. Brown writes: 'I regard Kronos as
the equivalent of Karnos, Karnaios, Karnaivis, the Horned God; Assyrian,
KaRNu; Hebrew, KeReN, horn; Hellenic, KRoNos, or KaRNos.'  Mr. Brown
seems to think that Cronus is 'the ripening power of harvest,' and also
'a wily savage god,' in which opinion one quite agrees with him.  Why the
name of Cronus should mean 'horned,' when he is never represented with
horns, it is hard to say.  But among the various foreign gods in whom the
Greeks recognised their own Cronus, one Hea, 'regarded by Berosos as
Kronos,' seems to have been 'horn-wearing.' {60b}  Horns are lacking in
Seb and Il, if not in Baal Hamon, though Mr. Brown would like to behorn

Let us now turn to Preller. {61a}  According to Preller, Kronos is
connected with [Greek], to fulfil, to bring to completion.  The harvest
month, the month of ripening and fulfilment, was called [Greek] in some
parts of Greece, and the jolly harvest-feast, with its memory of Saturn's
golden days, was named [Greek].  The sickle of Cronus, the sickle of
harvest-time, works in well with this explanation, and we have a kind of
pun in Homer which points in the direction of Preller's derivation from


and in Sophocles ('Tr.' 126)--


Preller illustrates the mutilation of Uranus by the Maori tale of
Tutenganahau.  The child-swallowing he connects with Punic and Phoenician
influence, and Semitic sacrifices of men and children.  Porphyry {61b}
speaks of human sacrifices to Cronus in Rhodes, and the Greeks recognised
Cronus in the Carthaginian god to whom children were offered up.

Hartung {61c} takes Cronus, when he mutilates Uranus, to be the fire of
the sun, scorching the sky of spring.  This, again, is somewhat out of
accord with Schwartz's idea, that Cronus is the storm-god, the
cloud-swallowing deity, his sickle the rainbow, and the blood of Uranus
the lightning. {61d}  According to Prof. Sayce, again, {62a} the blood-
drops of Uranus are rain-drops.  Cronus is the sun-god, piercing the dark
cloud, which is just the reverse of Schwartz's idea.  Prof. Sayce sees
points in common between the legend of Moloch, or of Baal under the name
of Moloch, and the myth of Cronus.  But Moloch, he thinks, is not a god
of Phoenician origin, but a deity borrowed from 'the primitive Accadian
population of Babylonia.'  Mr. Isaac Taylor, again, explains Cronus as
the sky which swallows and reproduces the stars.  The story of the sickle
may be derived from the crescent moon, the 'silver sickle,' or from a
crescent-shaped piece of meteoric iron--for, in this theory, the fetich-
stone of Delphi is a piece of that substance.

* * * * *

It will be observed that any one of these theories, if accepted, is much
more 'minute in detail' than our humble suggestion.  He who adopts any
one of them, knows all about it.  He knows that Cronus is a purely Greek
god, or that he is connected with the Sanskrit Krana, which Tiele, {62b}
unhappily, says is 'a very dubious word.'  Or the mythologist may be
quite confident that Cronus is neither Greek nor, in any sense, Sanskrit,
but Phoenician.  A not less adequate interpretation assigns him
ultimately to Accadia.  While the inquirer who can choose a system and
stick to it knows the exact nationality of Cronus, he is also well
acquainted with his character as a nature-god.  He may be Time, or
perhaps he is the Summer Heat, and a horned god; or he is the harvest-
god, or the god of storm and darkness, or the midnight sky,--the choice
is wide; or he is the lord of dark and light, and his children are the
stars, the clouds, the summer months, the light-powers, or what you will.
The mythologist has only to make his selection.

The system according to which we tried to interpret the myth is less
ondoyant et divers.  We do not even pretend to explain everything.  We do
not guess at the meaning and root of the word Cronus.  We only find
parallels to the myth among savages, whose mental condition is fertile in
such legends.  And we only infer that the myth of Cronus was originally
evolved by persons also in the savage intellectual condition.  The
survival we explain as, in a previous essay, we explained the survival of
the bull-roarer by the conservatism of the religious instinct.


'Once upon a time there lived a king and a queen,' says the old woman in
Apuleius, beginning the tale of Cupid and Psyche with that ancient
formula which has been dear to so many generations of children.  In one
shape or other the tale of Cupid and Psyche, of the woman who is
forbidden to see or to name her husband, of the man with the vanished
fairy bride, is known in most lands, 'even among barbarians.'  According
to the story the mystic prohibition is always broken: the hidden face is
beheld; light is brought into the darkness; the forbidden name is
uttered; the bride is touched with the tabooed metal, iron, and the union
is ended.  Sometimes the pair are re-united, after long searchings and
wanderings; sometimes they are severed for ever.  Such are the central
situations in tales like that of Cupid and Psyche.

In the attempt to discover how the ideas on which this myth is based came
into existence, we may choose one of two methods.  We may confine our
investigations to the Aryan peoples, among whom the story occurs both in
the form of myth and of household tale.  Again, we may look for the
shapes of the legend which hide, like Peau d'Ane in disguise, among the
rude kraals and wigwams, and in the strange and scanty garb of savages.
If among savages we find both narratives like Cupid and Psyche, and also
customs and laws out of which the myth might have arisen, we may
provisionally conclude that similar customs once existed among the
civilised races who possess the tale, and that from these sprang the
early forms of the myth.

In accordance with the method hitherto adopted, we shall prefer the
second plan, and pursue our quest beyond the limits of the Aryan peoples.

The oldest literary shape of the tale of Psyche and her lover is found in
the Rig Veda (x. 95).  The characters of a singular and cynical dialogue
in that poem are named Urvasi and Pururavas.  The former is an Apsaras, a
kind of fairy or sylph, the mistress (and a folle maitresse, too) of
Pururavas, a mortal man. {65}  In the poem Urvasi remarks that when she
dwelt among men she 'ate once a day a small piece of butter, and
therewith well satisfied went away.'  This slightly reminds one of the
common idea that the living may not eat in the land of the dead, and of
Persephone's tasting the pomegranate in Hades.

Of the dialogue in the Rig Veda it may be said, in the words of Mr.
Toots, that 'the language is coarse and the meaning is obscure.'  We only
gather that Urvasi, though she admits her sensual content in the society
of Pururavas, is leaving him 'like the first of the dawns'; that she
'goes home again, hard to be caught, like the winds.'  She gives her
lover some hope, however--that the gods promise immortality even to him,
'the kinsman of Death' as he is.  'Let thine offspring worship the gods
with an oblation; in Heaven shalt thou too have joy of the festival.'

In the Rig Veda, then, we dimly discern a parting between a mortal man
and an immortal bride, and a promise of reconciliation.

The story, of which this Vedic poem is a partial dramatisation, is given
in the Brahmana of the Yajur Veda.  Mr. Max Muller has translated the
passage. {66a}  According to the Brahmana, 'Urvasi, a kind of fairy, fell
in love with Pururavas, and when she met him she said: Embrace me three
times a day, but never against my will, and let me never see you without
your royal garments, _for this is the manner of women_.' {66b}  The
Gandharvas, a spiritual race, kinsmen of Urvasi, thought she had lingered
too long among men.  They therefore plotted some way of parting her from
Pururavas.  Her covenant with her lord declared that she was never to see
him naked.  If that compact were broken she would be compelled to leave
him.  To make Pururavas break this compact the Gandharvas stole a lamb
from beside Urvasi's bed: Pururavas sprang up to rescue the lamb, and, in
a flash of lightning, Urvasi saw him naked, contrary to the _manner of
women_.  She vanished.  He sought her long, and at last came to a lake
where she and her fairy friends were playing _in the shape of birds_.
Urvasi saw Pururavas, revealed herself to him, and, according to the
Brahmana, part of the strange Vedic dialogue was now spoken.  Urvasi
promised to meet him on the last night of the year: a son was to be the
result of the interview.  Next day, her kinsfolk, the Gandharvas, offered
Pururavas the wish of his heart.  He wished to be one of them.  They then
initiated him into the mode of kindling a certain sacred fire, after
which he became immortal and dwelt among the Gandharvas.

It is highly characteristic of the Indian mind that the story should be
thus worked into connection with ritual.  In the same way the Bhagavata
Purana has a long, silly, and rather obscene narrative about the
sacrifice offered by Pururavas, and the new kind of sacred fire.  Much
the same ritual tale is found in the Vishnu Purana (iv. 6, 19).

Before attempting to offer our own theory of the legend, we must examine
the explanations presented by scholars.  The philological method of
dealing with myths is well known.  The hypothesis is that the names in a
myth are 'stubborn things,' and that, as the whole narrative has probably
arisen from forgetfulness of the meaning of language, the secret of a
myth must be sought in analysis of the proper names of the persons.  On
this principle Mr. Max Muller interprets the myth of Urvasi and
Pururavas, their loves, separation, and reunion.  Mr. Muller says that
the story 'expresses the identity of the morning dawn and the evening
twilight.' {68}  To prove this, the names are analysed.  It is Mr.
Muller's object to show that though, even in the Veda, Urvasi and
Pururavas are names of persons, they were originally 'appellations'; and
that Urvasi meant 'dawn,' and Pururavas 'sun.'  Mr. Muller's opinion as
to the etymological sense of the names would be thought decisive,
naturally, by lay readers, if an opposite opinion were not held by that
other great philologist and comparative mythologist, Adalbert Kuhn.
Admitting that 'the etymology of Urvasi is difficult,' Mr. Muller derives
it from 'uru, wide ([Greek]), and a root as = to pervade.'  Now the dawn
is 'widely pervading,' and has, in Sanskrit, the epithet uruki,
'far-going.'  Mr. Muller next assumes that 'Eurykyde,' 'Eurynome,'
'Eurydike,' and other heroic Greek female names, are 'names of the dawn';
but this, it must be said, is merely an assumption of his school.  The
main point of the argument is that Urvasi means 'far-going,' and that
'the far and wide splendour of dawn' is often spoken of in the Veda.
'However, the best proof that Urvasi was the dawn is the legend told of
her and of her love to Pururavas, a story that is true only of the sun
and the dawn' (i. 407).

We shall presently see that a similar story is told of persons in whom
the dawn can scarcely be recognised, so that 'the best proof' is not very

The name of Pururavas, again, is 'an appropriate name for a solar hero.'
. . .  Pururavas meant the same as [Greek], 'endowed with much light,'
for, though rava is generally used of sound, yet the root ru, which means
originally 'to cry,' is also applied to colour, in the sense of a loud or
crying colour, that is, red. {69a}  Violet also, according to Sir G. W.
Cox, {69b} is a loud or crying colour.  'The word ([Greek]), as applied
to colour, is traced by Professor Max Muller to the root i, as denoting a
"crying hue," that is, a loud colour.'  It is interesting to learn that
our Aryan fathers spoke of 'loud colours,' and were so sensitive as to
think violet 'loud.'  Besides, Pururavas calls himself Vasistha, which,
as we know, is a name of the sun; and if he is called Aido, the son of
Ida, the same name is elsewhere given {69c} to Agni, the fire.  'The
conclusion of the argument is that antiquity spoke of the naked sun, and
of the chaste dawn hiding her face when she had seen her husband.  Yet
she says she will come again.  And after the sun has travelled through
the world in search of his beloved, when he comes to the threshold of
Death and is going to end his solitary life, she appears again, in the
gloaming, the same as the dawn, as Eos in Homer, begins and ends the day,
and she carries him away to the golden seats of the Immortals.' {69d}

Kuhn objects to all this explanation, partly on what we think the
inadequate ground that there is no necessary connection between the story
of Urvasi (thus interpreted) and the ritual of sacred fire-lighting.
Connections of that sort were easily invented at random by the compilers
of the Brahmanas in their existing form.  Coming to the analysis of
names, Kuhn finds in Urvasi 'a weakening of Urvanki (uru + anc), like
yuvaca from yuvanka, Latin juvencus . . . the accent is of no decisive
weight.'  Kuhn will not be convinced that Pururavas is the sun, and is
unmoved by the ingenious theory of 'a crying colour,' denoted by his
name, and the inference, supported by such words as rufus, that crying
colours are red, and therefore appropriate names of the red sun.  The
connection between Pururavas and Agni, fire, is what appeals to Kuhn--and,
in short, where Mr. Muller sees a myth of sun and dawn, Kuhn recognises a
fire-myth.  Roth, again (whose own name means _red_), far from thinking
that Urvasi is 'the chaste dawn,' interprets her name as die geile, that
is, 'lecherous, lascivious, lewd, wanton, obscene'; while Pururavas, as
'the Roarer,' suggests 'the Bull in rut.'  In accordance with these views
Roth explains the myth in a fashion of his own. {70a}

Here, then, as Kuhn says, 'we have three essentially different modes of
interpreting the myth,' {70b} all three founded on philological analysis
of the names in the story.  No better example could be given to
illustrate the weakness of the philological method.  In the first place,
that method relies on names as the primitive relics and germs of the
tale, although the tale may occur where the names have never been heard,
and though the names are, presumably, late additions to a story in which
the characters were originally anonymous.  Again, the most illustrious
etymologists differ absolutely about the true sense of the names.  Kuhn
sees fire everywhere, and fire-myths; Mr. Muller sees dawn and
dawn-myths; Schwartz sees storm and storm-myths, and so on.  As the
orthodox teachers are thus at variance, so that there is no safety in
orthodoxy, we may attempt to use our heterodox method.

None of the three scholars whose views we have glanced at--neither Roth,
Kuhn, nor Mr. Muller--lays stress on the saying of Urvasi, 'never let me
see you without your royal garments, _for this is the custom of women_.'
{71}  To our mind, these words contain the gist of the myth.  There must
have been, at some time, a custom which forbade women to see their
husbands without their garments, or the words have no meaning.  If any
custom of this kind existed, a story might well be evolved to give a
sanction to the law.  'You must never see your husband naked: think what
happened to Urvasi--she vanished clean away!'  This is the kind of
warning which might be given.  If the customary prohibition had grown
obsolete, the punishment might well be assigned to a being of another, a
spiritual, race, in which old human ideas lingered, as the neolithic
dread of iron lingers in the Welsh fairies.

Our method will be, to prove the existence of singular rules of
etiquette, corresponding to the etiquette accidentally infringed by
Pururavas.  We shall then investigate stories of the same character as
that of Urvasi and Pururavas, in which the infringement of the etiquette
is chastised.  It will be seen that, in most cases, the bride is of a
peculiar and perhaps supernatural race.  Finally, the tale of Urvasi will
be taken up again, will be shown to conform in character to the other
stories examined, and will be explained as a myth told to illustrate, or
sanction, a nuptial etiquette.

The lives of savages are bound by the most closely-woven fetters of
custom.  The simplest acts are 'tabooed,' a strict code regulates all
intercourse.  Married life, especially, moves in the strangest fetters.
There will be nothing remarkable in the wide distribution of a myth
turning on nuptial etiquette, if this law of nuptial etiquette proves to
be also widely distributed.  That it is widely distributed we now propose
to demonstrate by examples.

The custom of the African people of the kingdom of Futa is, or was, even
stricter than the Vedic _custom of women_--'wives never permit their
husbands to see them unveiled for three years after their marriage.' {72}

In his 'Travels to Timbuctoo' (i. 94), Caillie says that the bridegroom
'is not allowed to see his intended during the day.'  He has a tabooed
hut apart, and 'if he is obliged to come out he covers his face.'  He
'remains with his wife only till daybreak'--like Cupid--and flees, like
Cupid, before the light.  Among the Australians the chief deity, if deity
such a being can be called, Pundjel, 'has a wife whose face he has never
seen,' probably in compliance with some primaeval etiquette or taboo.

Among the Yorubas 'conventional modesty forbids a woman to speak to her
husband, or even to see him, if it can be avoided.' {73b}  Of the
Iroquois Lafitau says: 'Ils n'osent aller dans les cabanes particulieres
ou habitent leurs epouses que durant l'obscurite de la nuit.' {73c}  The
Circassian women live on distant terms with their lords till they become
mothers. {73d}  Similar examples of reserve are reported to be customary
among the Fijians.

In backward parts of Europe a strange custom forbids the bride to speak
to her lord, as if in memory of a time when husband and wife were always
of alien tribes, and, as among the Caribs, spoke different languages.

In the Bulgarian 'Volkslied,' the Sun marries Grozdanka, a mortal girl.
Her mother addresses her thus:--

   Grozdanka, mother's treasure mine,
   For nine long years I nourished thee,
   For nine months see thou do not speak
   To thy first love that marries thee.

M. Dozon, who has collected the Bulgarian songs, says that this custom of
prolonged silence on the part of the bride is very common in Bulgaria,
though it is beginning to yield to a sense of the ludicrous. {74a}  In
Sparta and in Crete, as is well known, the bridegroom was long the victim
of a somewhat similar taboo, and was only permitted to seek the company
of his wife secretly, and in the dark, like the Iroquois described by

Herodotus tells us (i. 146) that some of the old Ionian colonists
'brought no women with them, but took wives of the women of the Carians,
whose fathers they had slain.  Therefore the women made a law for
themselves, and handed it down to their daughters, that they should never
sit at meat with their husbands, and _that none should ever call her
husband by his name_.'  In precisely the same way, in Zululand the wife
may not mention her husband's name, just as in the Welsh fairy tale the
husband may not even know the name of his fairy bride, on pain of losing
her for ever.  These ideas about names, and freakish ways of avoiding the
use of names, mark the childhood of languages, according to Mr. Max
Muller, {74b} and, therefore, the childhood of Society.  The Kaffirs call
this etiquette 'Hlonipa.'  It applies to women as well as men.  A Kaffir
bride is not called by her own name in her husband's village, but is
spoken of as 'mother of so and so,' even before she has borne a child.
The universal superstition about names is at the bottom of this custom.
The Aleutian Islanders, according to Dall, are quite distressed when
obliged to speak to their wives in the presence of others.  The Fijians
did not know where to look when missionaries hinted that a man might live
under the same roof as his wife. {75a}  Among the Turkomans, for six
months, a year, or two years, a husband is only allowed to visit his wife
by stealth.

The number of these instances could probably be increased by a little
research.  Our argument is that the widely distributed myths in which a
husband or a wife transgresses some 'custom'--sees the other's face or
body, or utters the forbidden name--might well have arisen as tales
illustrating the punishment of breaking the rule.  By a very curious
coincidence, a Breton sailor's tale of the 'Cupid and Psyche' class is
confessedly founded on the existence of the rule of nuptial etiquette.

In this story the son of a Boulogne pilot marries the daughter of the
King of Naz--wherever that may be.  In Naz a man is never allowed to see
the face of his wife till she has borne him a child--a modification of
the Futa rule.  The inquisitive French husband unveils his wife, and,
like Psyche in Apuleius, drops wax from a candle on her cheek.  When the
pair return to Naz, the king of that country discovers the offence of the
husband, and, by the aid of his magicians, transforms the Frenchman into
a monster.  Here we have the old formula--the infringement of a 'taboo,'
and the magical punishment--adapted to the ideas of Breton peasantry.  The
essential point of the story, for our purpose, is that the veiling of the
bride is 'the custom of women,' in the mysterious land of Naz.  'C'est
l'usage du pays: les maris ne voient leurs femmes sans voile que
lorsqu'elles sont devenues meres.'  Now our theory of the myth of Urvasi
is simply this: 'the custom of women,' which Pururavas transgresses, is
probably a traditional Aryan law of nuptial etiquette, l'usage du pays,
once prevalent among the people of India.

If our view be correct, then several rules of etiquette, and not one
alone, will be illustrated in the stories which we suppose the rules to
have suggested.  In the case of Urvasi and Pururavas, the rule was, not
to see the husband naked.  In 'Cupid and Psyche,' the husband was not to
be looked upon at all.  In the well-known myth of Melusine, the bride is
not to be seen naked.  Melusine tells her lover that she will only abide
with him dum ipsam nudam non viderit. {76a}  The same taboo occurs in a
Dutch Marchen. {76b}

We have now to examine a singular form of the myth, in which the strange
bride is not a fairy, or spiritual being, but an animal.  In this class
of story the husband is usually forbidden to perform some act which will
recall to the bride the associations of her old animal existence.  The
converse of the tale is the well-known legend of the Forsaken Merman.  The
king of the sea permits his human wife to go to church.  The ancient
sacred associations are revived, and the woman returns no more.

   She will not come though you call all day
   Come away, come away.

Now, in the tales of the animal bride, it is her associations with her
former life among the beasts that are not to be revived, and when they
are reawakened by the commission of some act which she has forbidden, or
the neglect of some precaution which she has enjoined, she, like Urvasi,

* * * * *

The best known example of this variant of the tale is the story of Bheki,
in Sanskrit.  Mr. Max Muller has interpreted the myth in accordance with
his own method. {77}  His difficulty is to account for the belief that a
king might marry a frog.  Our ancestors, he remarks, 'were not idiots,'
how then could they tell such a story?  We might reply that our
ancestors, if we go far enough back, were savages, and that such stories
are the staple of savage myth.  Mr. Muller, however, holds that an
accidental corruption of language reduced Aryan fancy to the savage
level.  He explains the corruption thus: 'We find, in Sanskrit, that
Bheki, the frog, was a beautiful girl, and that one day, when sitting
near a well, she was discovered by a king, who asked her to be his wife.
She consented, _on condition that he should never show her a drop of
water_.  One day, being tired, she asked the king for water; the king
forgot his promise, brought water, and Bheki disappeared.'  This myth,
Mr. Muller holds, 'began with a short saying, such as that "Bheki, the
sun, will die at the sight of water," as we should say that the sun will
set, when it approaches the water from which it rose in the morning.'  But
how did the sun come to be called Bheki, 'the frog'?  Mr. Muller supposes
that this name was given to the sun by some poet or fisherman.  He gives
no evidence for the following statement: 'It can be shown that "frog" was
used as a name for the sun.  Now at sunrise and sunset, when the sun was
squatting on the water, it was called the "frog."'  At what historical
period the Sanskrit-speaking race was settled in seats where the sun rose
and set in water, we do not know, and 'chapter and verse' are needed for
the statement that 'frog' was actually a name of the sun.  Mr. Muller's
argument, however, is that the sun was called 'the frog,' that people
forgot that the frog and sun were identical, and that Frog, or Bheki, was
mistaken for the name of a girl to whom was applied the old saw about
dying at sight of water.  'And so,' says Mr. Muller, 'the change from sun
to frog, and from frog to man, which was at first due to the mere spell
of language, would in our nursery tales be ascribed to miraculous charms
more familiar to a later age.'  As a matter of fact, magical
metamorphoses are infinitely more familiar to the lowest savages than to
people in a 'later age.'  Magic, as Castren observes, 'belongs to the
lowest known stages of civilisation.'  Mr. Muller's theory, however, is
this--that a Sanskrit-speaking people, living where the sun rose out of
and set in some ocean, called the sun, as he touched the water, Bheki,
the frog, and said he would die at the sight of water.  They ceased to
call the sun the frog, or Bheki, but kept the saying, 'Bheki will die at
sight of water.'  Not knowing who or what Bheki might be, they took her
for a frog, who also was a pretty wench.  Lastly, they made the story of
Bheki's distinguished wedding and mysterious disappearance.  For this
interpretation, historical and linguistic evidence is not offered.  When
did a Sanskrit-speaking race live beside a great sea?  How do we know
that 'frog' was used as a name for 'sun'?

* * * * *

We have already given our explanation.  To the savage intellect, man and
beast are on a level, and all savage myth makes men descended from
beasts; while stories of the loves of gods in bestial shape, or the
unions of men and animals, incessantly occur.  'Unnatural' as these
notions seem to us, no ideas are more familiar to savages, and none recur
more frequently in Indo-Aryan, Scandinavian, and Greek mythology.  An
extant tribe in North-West America still claims descent from a frog.  The
wedding of Bheki and the king is a survival, in Sanskrit, of a tale of
this kind.  Lastly, Bheki disappears, when her associations with her old
amphibious life are revived in the manner she had expressly forbidden.

* * * * *

Our interpretation may be supported by an Ojibway parallel.  A hunter
named Otter-heart, camping near a beaver lodge, found a pretty girl
loitering round his fire.  She keeps his wigwam in order, and 'lays his
blanket near the deerskin she had laid for herself.  "Good," he muttered,
"this is my wife."'  She refuses to eat the beavers he has shot, but at
night he hears a noise, 'krch, krch, as if beavers were gnawing wood.'  He
sees, by the glimmer of the fire, his wife nibbling birch twigs.  In
fact, the good little wife is a beaver, as the pretty Indian girl was a
frog.  The pair lived happily till spring came and the snow melted and
the streams ran full.  Then his wife implored the hunter to build her a
bridge over every stream and river, that she might cross dry-footed.
'For,' she said, 'if my feet touch water, this would at once cause thee
great sorrow.'  The hunter did as she bade him, but left unbridged one
tiny runnel.  The wife stumbled into the water, and, as soon as her foot
was wet, she immediately resumed her old shape as a beaver, her son
became a beaverling, and the brooklet, changing to a roaring river, bore
them to the lake.  Once the hunter saw his wife again among her beast
kin.  'To thee I sacrificed all,' she said, 'and I only asked thee to
help me dry-footed over the waters.  Thou didst cruelly neglect this.  Now
I must remain for ever with my people.'

* * * * *

This tale was told to Kohl by 'an old insignificant squaw among the
Ojibways.' {80a}  Here we have a precise parallel to the tale of Bheki,
the frog-bride, and here the reason of the prohibition to touch water is
made perfectly unmistakable.  The touch magically revived the bride's old
animal life with the beavers.  Or was the Indian name for beaver
(temakse) once a name for the sun? {80b}

A curious variant of this widely distributed Marchen of the animal bride
is found in the mythical genealogy of the Raja of Chutia Nagpur, a chief
of the Naga, or snake race.  It is said that Raja Janameja prepared a
yajnya, or great malevolently magical incantation, to destroy all the
people of the serpent race.  To prevent this annihilation, the
supernatural being, Pundarika Nag, took a human form, and became the
husband of the beautiful Parvati, daughter of a Brahman.  But Pundarika
Nag, being a serpent by nature, could not divest himself, even in human
shape, of his forked tongue and venomed breath.  And, just as Urvasi
could not abide with her mortal lover, after he transgressed the
prohibition to appear before her naked, so Pundarika Nag was compelled by
fate to leave his bride, if she asked him any questions about his
disagreeable peculiarities.  She did, at last, ask questions, in
circumstances which made Pundarika believe that he was bound to answer
her.  Now the curse came upon him, he plunged into a pool, like the
beaver, and vanished.  His wife became the mother of the serpent Rajas of
Chutia Nagpur.  Pundarika Nag, in his proper form as a great hooded
snake, guarded his first-born child.  The crest of the house is a hooded
snake with human face. {81a}

Here, then, we have many examples of the disappearance of the bride or
bridegroom in consequence of infringement of various mystic rules.
Sometimes the beloved one is seen when he or she should not be seen.
Sometimes, as in a Maori story, the bride vanishes, merely because she is
in a bad temper. {81b}  Among the Red Men, as in Sanskrit, the taboo on
water is broken, with the usual results.  Now for an example in which the
rule against using _names_ is infringed. {82a}

This formula constantly occurs in the Welsh fairy tales published by
Professor Rhys. {82b}  Thus the heir of Corwrion fell in love with a
fairy: 'They were married on the distinct understanding that the husband
was not to know her name, . . . and was not to strike her with iron, on
pain of her leaving him at once.'  Unluckily the man once tossed her a
bridle, the iron bit touched the wife, and 'she at once flew through the
air, and plunged headlong into Corwrion Lake.'

A number of tales turning on the same incident are published in
'Cymmrodor,' v. I.  In these we have either the taboo on the name, or the
taboo on the touch of iron.  In a widely diffused superstition iron
'drives away devils and ghosts,' according to the Scholiast on the
eleventh book of the 'Odyssey,' and the Oriental Djinn also flee from
iron. {82c}  Just as water is fatal to the Aryan frog-bride and to the
Red Indian beaver-wife, restoring them to their old animal forms, so the
magic touch of iron breaks love between the Welshman and his fairy
mistress, the representative of the stone age.

In many tales of fairy-brides, they are won by a kind of force.  The
lover in the familiar Welsh and German Marchen sees the swan-maidens
throw off their swan plumage and dance naked..  He steals the feather-
garb of one of them, and so compels her to his love.  Finally, she leaves
him, in anger, or because he has broken some taboo.  Far from being
peculiar to Aryan mythology, this legend occurs, as Mr. Farrer has shown,
{83a} in Algonquin and Bornoese tradition.  The Red Indian story told by
Schoolcraft in his 'Algic Researches' is most like the Aryan version, but
has some native peculiarities.  Wampee was a great hunter, who, on the
lonely prairie, once heard strains of music.  Looking up he saw a speck
in the sky: the speck drew nearer and nearer, and proved to be a basket
containing twelve heavenly maidens.  They reached the earth and began to
dance, inflaming the heart of Wampee with love.  But Wampee could not
draw near the fairy girls in his proper form without alarming them.  Like
Zeus in his love adventures, Wampee exercised the medicine-man's power of
metamorphosing himself.  He assumed the form of a mouse, approached
unobserved, and caught one of the dancing maidens.  After living with
Wampee for some time she wearied of earth, and, by virtue of a 'mystic
chain of verse,' she ascended again to her heavenly home.

Now is there any reason to believe that this incident was once part of
the myth of Pururavas and Urvasi?  Was the fairy-love, Urvasi, originally
caught and held by Pururavas among her naked and struggling companions?
Though this does not appear to have been much noticed, it seems to follow
from a speech of Pururavas in the Vedic dialogue {83b} (x. 95, 8, 9).  Mr.
Max Muller translates thus: 'When I, the mortal, threw my arms round
those flighty immortals, they trembled away from me like a trembling doe,
like horses that kick against the cart.' {84a}  Ludwig's rendering suits
our view--that Pururavas is telling how he first caught Urvasi--still
better: 'When I, the mortal, held converse with the immortals who had
laid aside their raiment, like slippery serpents they glided from me,
like horses yoked to the car.'  These words would well express the
adventure of a lover among the naked flying swan-maidens, an adventure
familiar to the Red Men as to Persian legends of the Peris.

To end our comparison of myths like the tale of 'Cupid and Psyche,' we
find an example among the Zulus.  Here {84b} the mystic lover came in
when all was dark, and felt the damsel's face.  After certain rites, 'in
the morning he went away, he speaking continually, the girl not seeing
him.  During all those days he would not allow the girl (sic), when she
said she would light a fire.  Finally, after a magical ceremony, he said,
"Light the fire!" and stood before her revealed, a shining shape.'  This
has a curious resemblance to the myth of Cupid and Psyche; but a more
curious detail remains.  In the Zulu story of Ukcombekcansini, the
friends of a bride break a taboo and kill a tabooed animal.  Instantly,
like Urvasi and her companions in the Yajur Veda, the bride and her
maidens disappear _and are turned into birds_! {84c}  They are afterwards
surprised in human shape, and the bride is restored to her lover.

Here we conclude, having traced parallels to Cupid and Psyche in many non-
Aryan lands.  Our theory of the myth does not rest on etymology.  We have
seen that the most renowned scholars, Max Muller, Kuhn, Roth, all analyse
the names Urvasi and Pururavas in different ways, and extract different
interpretations.  We have found the story where these names were probably
never heard of.  We interpret it as a tale of the intercourse between
mortal men and immortal maids, or between men and metamorphosed animals,
as in India and North America.  We explain the separation of the lovers
as the result of breaking a taboo, or law of etiquette, binding among men
and women, as well as between men and fairies.

* * * * *

The taboos are, to see the beloved unveiled, to utter his or her name, to
touch her with a metal 'terrible to ghosts and spirits,' or to do some
action which will revive the associations of a former life.  We have
shown that rules of nuptial etiquette resembling these in character do
exist, and have existed, even among Greeks--as where the Milesian, like
the Zulu, women made a law not to utter their husbands' names.  Finally,
we think it a reasonable hypothesis that tales on the pattern of 'Cupid
and Psyche' might have been evolved wherever a curious nuptial taboo
required to be sanctioned, or explained, by a myth.  On this hypothesis,
the stories may have been separately invented in different lands; but
there is also a chance that they have been transmitted from people to
people in the unknown past of our scattered and wandering race.  This
theory seems at least as probable as the hypothesis that the meaning of
an Aryan proverbial statement about sun and dawn was forgotten, and was
altered unconsciously into a tale which is found among various non-Aryan
tribes.  That hypothesis again, learned and ingenious as it is, has the
misfortune to be opposed by other scholarly hypotheses not less ingenious
and learned.

* * * * *

As for the sun-frog, we may hope that he has sunk for ever beneath the
western wave.


A modern novelist has boasted that her books are read 'from Tobolsk to
Tangiers.'  This is a wide circulation, but the widest circulation in the
world has probably been achieved by a story whose author, unlike Ouida,
will never be known to fame.  The tale which we are about to examine is,
perhaps, of all myths the most widely diffused, yet there is no ready way
of accounting for its extraordinary popularity.  Any true 'nature-myth,'
any myth which accounts for the processes of nature or the aspects of
natural phenomena, may conceivably have been invented separately,
wherever men in an early state of thought observed the same facts, and
attempted to explain them by telling a story.  Thus we have seen that the
earlier part of the Myth of Cronus is a nature-myth, setting forth the
cause of the separation of Heaven and Earth.  Star-myths again, are
everywhere similar, because men who believed all nature to be animated
and personal, accounted for the grouping of constellations in accordance
with these crude beliefs. {87}  Once more, if a story like that of 'Cupid
and Psyche' be found among the most diverse races, the distribution
becomes intelligible if the myth was invented to illustrate or enforce a
widely prevalent custom.  But in the following story no such explanation
is even provisionally acceptable.

The gist of the tale (which has many different 'openings,' and
conclusions in different places) may be stated thus: A young man is
brought to the home of a hostile animal, a giant, cannibal, wizard, or a
malevolent king.  He is put by his unfriendly host to various severe
trials, in which it is hoped that he will perish.  In each trial he is
assisted by the daughter of his host.  After achieving the adventures, he
elopes with the girl, and is pursued by her father.  The runaway pair
throw various common objects behind them, which are changed into magical
obstacles and check the pursuit of the father.  The myth has various
endings, usually happy, in various places.  Another form of the narrative
is known, in which the visitors to the home of the hostile being are, not
wooers of his daughter, but brothers of his wife. {88}  The incidents of
the flight, in this variant, are still of the same character.  Finally,
when the flight is that of a brother from his sister's malevolent ghost,
in Hades (Japan), or of two sisters from a cannibal mother or step-mother
(Zulu and Samoyed), the events of the flight and the magical aids to
escape remain little altered.  We shall afterwards see that attempts have
been made to interpret one of these narratives as a nature-myth; but the
attempts seem unsuccessful.  We are therefore at a loss to account for
the wide diffusion of this tale, unless it has been transmitted slowly
from people to people, in the immense unknown prehistoric past of the
human race.

* * * * *

Before comparing the various forms of the myth in its first shape--that
which tells of the mortal lover and the giant's or wizard's daughter--let
us give the Scottish version of the story.  This version was written down
for me, many years ago, by an aged lady in Morayshire.  I published it in
the 'Revue Celtique'; but it is probably new to story-comparers, in its
broad Scotch variant.


   There once lived a king and a queen.  They were long married and had
   no bairns; but at last the queen had a bairn, when the king was away
   in far countries.  The queen would not christen the bairn till the
   king came back, and she said, 'We will just call him Nicht Nought
   Nothing until his father comes home.'  But it was long before he came
   home, and the boy had grown a nice little laddie.  At length the king
   was on his way back; but he had a big river to cross, and there was a
   spate, and he could not get over the water.  But a giant came up to
   him, and said, 'If you will give me Nicht Nought Nothing, I will carry
   you over the water on my back.'  The king had never heard that his son
   was called Nicht Nought Nothing, and so he promised him.  When the
   king got home again, he was very happy to see his wife again, and his
   young son.  She told him that she had not given the child any name but
   Nicht Nought Nothing, until he should come home again himself.  The
   poor king was in a terrible case.  He said, 'What have I done?  I
   promised to give the giant who carried me over the river on his back,
   Nicht Nought Nothing.'  The king and the queen were sad and sorry, but
   they said, 'When the giant comes we will give him the hen-wife's
   bairn; he will never know the difference.'  The next day the giant
   came to claim the king's promise, and he sent for the hen-wife's
   bairn; and the giant went away with the bairn on his back.  He
   travelled till he came to a big stone, and there he sat down to rest.
   He said,

   'Hidge, Hodge, on my back, what time of day is it?'  The poor little
   bairn said, 'It is the time that my mother, the hen-wife, takes up the
   eggs for the queen's breakfast.'

   The giant was very angry, and dashed the bairn on the stone and killed

   . . . . .

   The same adventure is repeated with the gardener's son.

   . . . . .

   Then the giant went back to the king's house, and said he would
   destroy them all if they did not give him Nicht Nought Nothing this
   time.  They had to do it; and when he came to the big stone, the giant
   said, 'What time of day is it?'  Nicht Nought Nothing said, 'It is the
   time that my father the king will be sitting down to supper.'  The
   giant said, 'I've got the richt ane noo;' and took Nicht Nought
   Nothing to his own house and brought him up till he was a man.

   The giant had a bonny dochter, and she and the lad grew very fond of
   each other.  The giant said one day to Nicht Nought Nothing, 'I've
   work for you to-morrow.  There is a stable seven miles long and seven
   miles broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years, and you must
   clean it to-morrow, or I will have you for my supper.'

   The giant's dochter went out next morning with the lad's breakfast,
   and found him in a terrible state, for aye as he cleaned out a bit, it
   aye fell in again.  The giant's dochter said she would help him, and
   she cried a' the beasts of the field, and a' the fowls o' the air, and
   in a minute they a' came, and carried awa' everything that was in the
   stable and made a' clean before the giant came home.  He said, 'Shame
   for the wit that helped you; but I have a worse job for you
   to-morrow.'  Then he told Nicht Nought Nothing that there was a loch
   seven miles long, and seven miles deep, and seven miles broad, and he
   must drain it the next day, or else he would have him for his supper.
   Nicht Nought Nothing began early next morning and tried to lave the
   water with his pail, but the loch was never getting any less, and he
   did no ken what to do; but the giant's dochter called on all the fish
   in the sea to come and drink the water, and very soon they drank it
   dry.  When the giant saw the work done he was in a rage, and said,
   'I've a worse job for you to-morrow; there is a tree seven miles high,
   and no branch on it, till you get to the top, and there is a nest, and
   you must bring down the eggs without breaking one, or else I will have
   you for my supper.'  At first the giant's dochter did not know how to
   help Nicht Nought Nothing; but she cut off first her fingers and then
   her toes, and made steps of them, and he clomb the tree, and got all
   the eggs safe till he came to the bottom, and then one was broken.  The
   giant's dochter advised him to run away, and she would follow him.  So
   he travelled till he came to a king's palace, and the king and queen
   took him in and were very kind to him.  The giant's dochter left her
   father's house, and he pursued her and was drowned.  Then she came to
   the king's palace where Nicht Nought Nothing was.  And she went up
   into a tree to watch for him.  The gardener's dochter, going to draw
   water in the well, saw the shadow of the lady in the water, and
   thought it was herself, and said, 'If I'm so bonny, if I'm so brave,
   do you send me to draw water?'  The gardener's wife went out, and she
   said the same thing.  Then the gardener went himself, and brought the
   lady from the tree, and led her in.  And he told her that a stranger
   was to marry the king's dochter, and showed her the man: and it was
   Nicht Nought Nothing asleep in a chair.  And she saw him, and cried to
   him, 'Waken, waken, and speak to me!'  But he would not waken, and
   syne she cried,

   'I cleaned the stable, I laved the loch, and I clamb the tree,
         And all for the love of thee,
         And thou wilt not waken and speak to me.'

   The king and the queen heard this, and came to the bonny young lady,
   and she said,

   'I canna get Nicht Nought Nothing to speak to me for all that I can

   Then were they greatly astonished when she spoke of Nicht Nought
   Nothing, and asked where he was, and she said, 'He that sits there in
   the chair.'  Then they ran to him and kissed him and called him their
   own dear son, and he wakened, and told them all that the giant's
   dochter had done for him, and of all her kindness.  Then they took her
   in their arms and kissed her, and said she should now be their
   dochter, for their son should marry her.

   And they lived happy all their days.

In this variant of the story, which we may use as our text, it is to be
noticed that a lacuna exists.  The narrative of the flight omits to
mention that the runaways threw things behind them which became obstacles
in the giant's way.  One of these objects probably turned into a lake, in
which the giant was drowned. {92}  A common incident is the throwing
behind of a comb, which changes into a thicket.  The formula of leaving
obstacles behind occurs in the Indian collection, the 'Kathasarit sagara'
(vii. xxxix.).  The 'Battle of the Birds,' in Campbell's 'Tales of the
West Highlands,' is a very copious Gaelic variant.  Russian parallels are
'Vasilissa the Wise and the Water King,' and 'The King Bear.' {93a}  The
incident of the flight and the magical obstacles is found in Japanese
mythology. {93b}  The 'ugly woman of Hades' is sent to pursue the hero.
He casts down his black head-dress, and it is instantly turned into
grapes; he fled while she was eating them.  Again, 'he cast down his
multitudinous and close-toothed comb, and it instantly turned into bamboo
sprouts.'  In the Gaelic version, the pursuer is detained by talkative
objects which the pursued leave at home, and this marvel recurs in
Zululand, and is found among the Bushmen.  The Zulu versions are
numerous. {93c}  Oddly enough, in the last variant, the girl performs no
magic feat, but merely throws sesamum on the ground to delay the
cannibals, for cannibals are very fond of sesamum. {93d}

* * * * *

Here, then, we have the remarkable details of the flight, in Zulu,
Gaelic, Norse, Malagasy, {93e} Russian, Italian, Japanese.  Of all
incidents in the myth, the incidents of the flight are most widely known.
But the whole connected series of events--the coming of the wooer; the
love of the hostile being's daughter; the tasks imposed on the wooer; the
aid rendered by the daughter; the flight of the pair; the defeat or
destruction of the hostile being--all these, or most of these, are
extant, in due sequence, among the following races.  The Greeks have the
tale, the people of Madagascar have it, the Lowland Scotch, the Celts,
the Russians, the Italians, the Algonquins, the Finns, and the Samoans
have it.  Now if the story were confined to the Aryan race, we might
account for its diffusion, by supposing it to be the common heritage of
the Indo-European peoples, carried everywhere with them in their
wanderings.  But when the tale is found in Madagascar, North America,
Samoa, and among the Finns, while many scattered incidents occur in even
more widely severed races, such as Zulus, Bushmen, Japanese, Eskimo,
Samoyeds, the Aryan hypothesis becomes inadequate.

To show how closely, all things considered, the Aryan and non-Aryan
possessors of the tale agree, let us first examine the myth of Jason.

* * * * *

The earliest literary reference to the myth of Jason is in the 'Iliad'
(vii. 467, xxiii. 747).  Here we read of Euneos, a son whom Hypsipyle
bore to Jason in Lemnos.  Already, even in the 'Iliad,' the legend of
Argo's voyage has been fitted into certain well-known geographical
localities.  A reference in the 'Odyssey' (xii. 72) has a more antique
ring: we are told that of all barques Argo alone escaped the jaws of the
Rocks Wandering, which clashed together and destroyed ships.  Argo
escaped, it is said, 'because Jason was dear to Hera.'  It is plain, from
various fragmentary notices, that Hesiod was familiar with several of the
adventures in the legend of Jason.  In the 'Theogony' (993-998) Hesiod
mentions the essential facts of the legend: how Jason carried off from
AEetes his daughter, 'after achieving the adventures, many and grievous,'
which were laid upon him.  At what period the home of AEetes was placed
in Colchis, it is not easy to determine.  Mimnermus, a contemporary of
Solon, makes the home of AEetes lie 'on the brink of ocean,' a very vague
description. {95}  Pindar, on the other hand, in the splendid Fourth
Pythian Ode, already knows Colchis as the scene of the loves and flight
of Jason and Medea.

* * * *

'Long were it for me to go by the beaten track,' says Pindar, 'and I know
a certain short path.'  Like Pindar, we may abridge the tale of Jason.  He
seeks the golden fleece in Colchis: AEetes offers it to him as a prize
for success in certain labours.  By the aid of Medea, the daughter of
AEetes, the wizard-king, Jason tames the fire-breathing oxen, yokes them
to the plough, and drives a furrow.  By Medea's help he conquers the
children of the teeth of the dragon, subdues the snake that guards the
fleece of gold, and escapes, but is pursued by AEetes.  To detain AEetes,
Medea throws behind the mangled remains of her own brother, Apsyrtos, and
the Colchians pursue no further than the scene of this bloody deed.  The
savagery of this act survives even in the work of a poet so late as
Apollonius Rhodius (iv. 477), where we read how Jason performed a rite of
savage magic, mutilating the body of Apsyrtos in a manner which was
believed to appease the avenging ghost of the slain.  'Thrice he tasted
the blood, thrice spat it out between his teeth,' a passage which the
Scholiast says contains the description of an archaic custom popular
among murderers.

Beyond Tomi, where a popular etymology fixed the 'cutting up' of
Apsyrtos, we need not follow the fortunes of Jason and Medea.  We have
already seen the wooer come to the hostile being, win his daughter's
love, achieve the adventures by her aid, and flee in her company,
delaying, by a horrible device, the advance of the pursuers.  To these
incidents in the tale we confine our attention.

Many explanations of the Jason myth have been given by Scholars who
thought they recognised elemental phenomena in the characters.  As usual
these explanations differ widely.  Whenever a myth has to be interpreted,
it is certain that one set of Scholars will discover the sun and the
dawn, where another set will see the thunder-cloud and lightning.  The
moon is thrown in at pleasure.  Sir G. W. Cox determines {96} 'that the
name Jason (Iason) must be classed with the many others, Iasion, Iamus,
Iolaus, Iaso, belonging to the same root.'  Well, what is the root?
Apparently the root is 'the root i, as denoting a crying colour, that is,
a loud colour' (ii. 81).  Seemingly (i. 229) violet is a loud colour,
and, wherever you have the root i, you have 'the violet-tinted morning
from which the sun is born.'  Medea is 'the daughter of the sun,' and
most likely, in her 'beneficent aspect,' is the dawn.  But (ii. 81, note)
ios has another meaning, 'which, as a spear, represents the far-darting
ray of the sun'; so that, in one way or another, Jason is connected with
the violet-tinted morning or with the sun's rays.  This is the gist of
the theory of Sir George Cox.

Preller {97a} is another Scholar, with another set of etymologies.  Jason
is derived, he thinks, from [Greek], to heal, because Jason studied
medicine under the Centaur Chiron.  This is the view of the Scholiast on
Apollonius Rhodius (i. 554).  Jason, to Preller's mind, is a form of
Asclepius, 'a spirit of the spring with its soft suns and fertile rains.'
Medea is the moon.  Medea, on the other hand, is a lightning goddess, in
the opinion of Schwartz. {97b}  No philological reason is offered.
Meanwhile, in Sir George Cox's system, the equivalent of Medea, 'in her
beneficent aspect,' is the dawn.

We must suppose, it seems, that either the soft spring rains and the
moon, or the dawn and the sun, or the lightning and the thunder-cloud, in
one arrangement or another, irresistibly suggested, to early Aryan minds,
the picture of a wooer, arriving in a hostile home, winning a maiden's
love, achieving adventures by her aid, fleeing with her from her angry
father and delaying his pursuit by various devices.  Why the spring, the
moon, the lightning, the dawn--any of them or all of them--should have
suggested such a tale, let Scholars determine when they have reconciled
their own differences.  It is more to our purpose to follow the myth
among Samoans, Algonquins, and Finns.  None of these races speak an Aryan
language, and none can have been beguiled into telling the same sort of
tale by a disease of Aryan speech.

Samoa, where we find our story, is the name of a group of volcanic
islands in Central Polynesia.  They are about 3,000 miles from Sidney,
were first observed by Europeans in 1722, and are as far removed as most
spots from direct Aryan influences.  Our position is, however, that in
the shiftings and migrations of peoples, the Jason tale has somehow been
swept, like a piece of drift-wood, on to the coasts of Samoa.  In the
islands, the tale has an epical form, and is chanted in a poem of twenty-
six stanzas.  There is something Greek in the free and happy life of the
Samoans--something Greek, too, in this myth of theirs.  There was once a
youth, Siati, famous for his singing, a young Thamyris of Samoa.  But as,
according to Homer, 'the Muses met Thamyris the Thracian, and made an end
of his singing, for he boasted and said that he would vanquish even the
Muses if he sang against them,' so did the Samoan god of song envy Siati.
The god and the mortal sang a match: the daughter of the god was to be
the mortal's prize if he proved victorious.  Siati won, and he set off,
riding on a shark, as Arion rode the dolphin, to seek the home of the
defeated deity.  At length he reached the shores divine, and thither
strayed Puapae, daughter of the god, looking for her comb which she had
lost.  'Siati,' said she, 'how camest thou hither?'  'I am come to seek
the song-god, and to wed his daughter.'  'My father,' said the maiden,
'is more a god than a man; eat nothing he hands you, never sit on a high
seat, lest death follow.'  So they were united in marriage.  But the god,
like AEetes, was wroth, and began to set Siati upon perilous tasks:
'Build me a house, and let it be finished this very day, else death and
the oven await thee.' {99a}

Siati wept, but the god's daughter had the house built by the evening.
The other adventures were to fight a fierce dog, and to find a ring lost
at sea.  Just as the Scotch giant's daughter cut off her fingers to help
her lover, so the Samoan god's daughter bade Siati cut her body into
pieces and cast her into the sea.  There she became a fish, and recovered
the ring.  They set off to the god's house, but met him pursuing them,
with the help of his other daughter.  'Puapae and Siati threw down the
comb, and it became a bush of thorns in the way to intercept the god and
Puanli,' the other daughter.  Next they threw down a bottle of earth
which became a mountain; 'and then followed their bottle of water, and
that became a sea, and drowned the god and Puanli.' {99b}

This old Samoan song contains nearly the closest savage parallel to the
various household tales which find their heroic and artistic shape in the
Jason saga.  Still more surprising in its resemblances is the Malagasy
version of the narrative.  In the Malagasy story, the conclusion is
almost identical with the winding up of the Scotch fairy tale.  The girl
hides in a tree; her face, seen reflected in a well, is mistaken by women
for their own faces, and the recognition follows in due course. {99c}

Like most Red Indian versions of popular tales, the Algonquin form of the
Jason saga is strongly marked with the peculiarities of the race.  The
story is recognisable, and that is all.

The opening, as usual, differs from other openings.  Two children are
deserted in the wilderness, and grow up to manhood.  One of them loses an
arrow in the water; the elder brother, Panigwun, wades after it.  A
magical canoe flies past: an old magician, who is alone in the canoe,
seizes Panigwun and carries him off.  The canoe fleets along, like the
barques of the Phaeacians, at the will of the magician, and reaches the
isle where, like the Samoan god of song, he dwells with his two
daughters.  'Here, my daughter,' said he, 'is a young man for your
husband.'  But the daughter knew that the proposed husband was but
another victim of the old man's magic arts.  By the daughter's advice,
Panigwun escaped in the magic barque, consoled his brother, and returned
to the island.  Next day the magician, Mishosha, set the young man to
hard tasks and perilous adventures.  He was to gather gulls' eggs; but
the gulls attacked him in dense crowds.  By an incantation he subdued the
birds, and made them carry him home to the island.  Next day he was sent
to gather pebbles, that he might be attacked and eaten by the king of the
fishes.  Once more the young man, like the Finnish Ilmarinen in Pohjola,
subdued the mighty fish, and went back triumphant.  The third adventure,
as in 'Nicht Nought Nothing,' was to climb a tree of extraordinary height
in search of a bird's nest.  Here, again, the youth succeeded, and
finally conspired with the daughters to slay the old magician.  Lastly
the boy turned the magician into a sycamore tree, and won his daughter.
The other daughter was given to the brother who had no share in the
perils. {101}  Here we miss the incident of the flight; and the
magician's daughter, though in love with the hero, does not aid him to
perform the feats.  Perhaps an Algonquin brave would scorn the assistance
of a girl.  In the 'Kalevala,' the old hero, Wainamoinen, and his friend
Ilmarinen, set off to the mysterious and hostile land of Pohjola to win a
bride.  The maiden of Pohjola loses her heart to Ilmarinen, and, by her
aid, he bridles the wolf and bear, ploughs a field of adders with a
plough of gold, and conquers the gigantic pike that swims in the Styx of
Finnish mythology.  After this point the story is interrupted by a long
sequel of popular bridal songs, and, in the wandering course of the
rather aimless epic, the flight and its incidents have been forgotten, or
are neglected.  These incidents recur, however, in the thread of somewhat
different plots.  We have seen that they are found in Japan, among the
Eskimo, among the Bushmen, the Samoyeds, and the Zulus, as well as in
Hungarian, Magyar, Celtic, and other European household tales.

The conclusion appears to be that the central part of the Jason myth is
incapable of being explained, either as a nature-myth, or as a myth
founded on a disease of language.  So many languages could not take the
same malady in the same way; nor can we imagine any series of natural
phenomena that would inevitably suggest this tale to so many diverse

We must suppose, therefore, either that all wits jumped and invented the
same romantic series of situations by accident, or that all men spread
from one centre, where the story was known, or that the story, once
invented, has drifted all round the world.  If the last theory be
approved of, the tale will be like the Indian Ocean shell found lately in
the Polish bone-cave, {102a} or like the Egyptian beads discovered in the
soil of Dahomey.  The story will have been carried hither and thither, in
the remotest times, to the remotest shores, by traders, by slaves, by
captives in war, or by women torn from their own tribe and forcibly
settled as wives among alien peoples.

Stories of this kind are everywhere the natural property of mothers and
grandmothers.  When we remember how widely diffused is the law of
exogamy, which forbids marriage between a man and woman of the same
stock, we are impressed by the number of alien elements which must have
been introduced with alien wives.  Where husband and wife, as often
happened, spoke different languages, the woman would inevitably bring the
hearthside tales of her childhood among a people of strange speech.  By
all these agencies, working through dateless time, we may account for the
diffusion, if we cannot explain the origin, of tales like the central
arrangement of incidents in the career of Jason. {102b}


Why is Apollo, especially the Apollo of the Troad, he who showered the
darts of pestilence among the Greeks, so constantly associated with a
mouse?  The very name, Smintheus, by which his favourite priest calls on
him in the 'Iliad' (i. 39), might be rendered 'Mouse Apollo,' or 'Apollo,
Lord of Mice.'  As we shall see later, mice lived beneath the altar, and
were fed in the holy of holies of the god, and an image of a mouse was
placed beside or upon his sacred tripod.  The ancients were puzzled by
these things, and, as will be shown, accounted for them by
'mouse-stories,' [Greek], so styled by Eustathius, the mediaeval
interpreter of Homer.  Following our usual method, let us ask whether
similar phenomena occur elsewhere, in countries where they are
intelligible.  Did insignificant animals elsewhere receive worship: were
their effigies elsewhere placed in the temples of a purer creed?  We find
answers in the history of Peruvian religion.

After the Spanish conquest of Peru, one of the European adventurers, Don
Garcilasso de la Vega, married an Inca princess.  Their son, also named
Garcilasso, was born about 1540.  His famous book, 'Commentarias Reales,'
contains the most authentic account of the old Peruvian beliefs.
Garcilasso was learned in all the learning of the Europeans, and, as an
Inca on the mother's side, had claims on the loyalty of the defeated
race.  He set himself diligently to collect both their priestly and
popular traditions, and his account of them is the more trustworthy as it
coincides with what we know to have been true in lands with which
Garcilasso had little acquaintance.

* * * * *

To Garcilasso's mind, Peruvian religion seems to be divided into two
periods--the age before, and the age which followed the accession of the
Incas, and their establishment of sun-worship as the creed of the State.
In the earlier period, the pre-Inca period, he tells us 'an Indian was
not accounted honourable unless he was descended from a fountain, river,
or lake, or even from the sea, or from a wild animal, such as a bear,
lion, tiger, eagle, or the bird they call cuntur (condor), or some other
bird of prey.' {104a}  To these worshipful creatures 'men offered what
they usually saw them eat' (i. 53).  But men were not content to adore
large and dangerous animals.  'There was not an animal, how vile and
filthy soever, that they did not worship as a god,' including 'lizards,
toads, and frogs.'  In the midst of these superstitions the Incas
appeared.  Just as the tribes claimed descent from animals, great or
small, so the Incas drew _their_ pedigree from the sun, which they adored
like the gens of the Aurelii in Rome. {104b}  Thus every Indian had his
pacarissa, or, as the North American Indians say, totem, {105a} a natural
object from which he claimed descent, and which, in a certain degree, he
worshipped.  Though sun-worship became the established religion, worship
of the animal pacarissas was still tolerated.  The sun-temples also
contained huacas, or images, of the beasts which the Indians had
venerated. {105b}  In the great temple of Pachacamac, the most spiritual
and abstract god of Peruvian faith, 'they worshipped a she-fox and an
emerald.  The devil also appeared to them, and spoke in the form of a
tiger, very fierce.' {105c}  This toleration of an older and cruder, in
subordination to a purer, faith is a very common feature in religious
evolution.  In Catholic countries, to this day, we may watch, in Holy
Week, the Adonis feast described by Theocritus, {105d} and the procession
and entombment of the old god of spring.

'The Incas had the good policy to collect all the tribal animal gods into
their temples in and round Cuzco, in which the two leading gods were the
Master of Life, and the Sun.'  Did a process of this sort ever occur in
Greek religion, and were older animal gods ever collected into the
temples of such deities as Apollo?

* * * * *

While a great deal of scattered evidence about many animals consecrated
to Greek gods points in this direction, it will be enough, for the
present, to examine the case of the Sacred Mice.  Among races which are
still in the totemistic stage, which still claim descent from animals and
from other objects, a peculiar marriage law generally exists, or can be
shown to have existed.  No man may marry a woman who is descended from
the same ancestral animal, and who bears the same totem-name, and carries
the same badge or family crest, as himself.  A man descended from the
Crane, and whose family name is Crane, cannot marry a woman whose family
name is Crane.  He must marry a woman of the Wolf, or Turtle, or Swan, or
other name, and her children keep her family title, not his.  Thus, if a
Crane man marries a Swan woman, the children are Swans, and none of them
may marry a Swan; they must marry Turtles, Wolves, or what not, and
_their_ children, again, are Turtles, or Wolves.  Thus there is
necessarily an eternal come and go of all the animal names known in a
district.  As civilisation advances these rules grow obsolete.  People
take their names from the father, as among ourselves.  Finally the
dwellers in a given district, having become united into a local tribe,
are apt to drop the various animal titles and to adopt, as the name of
the whole tribe, the name of the chief, or of the predominating family.
Let us imagine a district of some twenty miles in which there are Crane,
Wolf, Turtle, and Swan families.  Long residence together, and common
interests, have welded them into a local tribe.  The chief is of the Wolf
family, and the tribe, sinking family differences and family names, calls
itself 'the Wolves.'  Such tribes were probably, in the beginning, the
inhabitants of the various Egyptian towns which severally worshipped the
wolf, or the sheep, or the crocodile, and abstained religiously (except
on certain sacrificial occasions) from the flesh of the animal that gave
them its name. {107}

* * * * *

It has taken us long to reach the Sacred Mice of Greek religion, but we
are now in a position to approach their august divinity.  We have seen
that the sun-worship superseded, without abolishing, the tribal
pacarissas in Peru, and that the huacas, or images, of the sacred animals
were admitted under the roof of the temple of the Sun.  Now it is
recognised that the temples of the Sminthian Apollo contained images of
sacred mice among other animals, and our argument is that here, perhaps,
we have another example of the Peruvian religious evolution.  Just as, in
Peru, the tribes adored 'vile and filthy' animals, just as the solar
worship of the Incas subordinated these, just as the huacas of the beasts
remained in the temples of the Peruvian Sun; so, we believe, the tribes
along the Mediterranean coasts had, at some very remote prehistoric
period, their animal pacarissas; these were subordinated to the religion
(to some extent solar) of Apollo; and the huacas, or animal idols,
survived in Apollo's temples.

* * * * *

If this theory be correct, we shall probably find the mouse, for example,
revered as a sacred animal in many places.  This would necessarily
follow, if the marriage customs which we have described ever prevailed on
Greek soil, and scattered the mouse-name far and wide. {108a}  Traces of
the Mouse families, and of adoration, if adoration there was of the
mouse, would linger on in the following shapes:--(1) Places would be
named from mice, and mice would be actually held sacred in themselves.
(2) The mouse-name would be given locally to the god who superseded the
mouse.  (3) The figure of the mouse would be associated with the god, and
used as a badge, or a kind of crest, or local mark, in places where the
mouse has been a venerated animal.  (4) Finally, myths would be told to
account for the sacredness of a creature so undignified.

Let us take these considerations in their order:--

(1) If there were local mice tribes, deriving their name from the
worshipful mouse, certain towns settled by these tribes would retain a
reverence for mice.

In Chrysa, a town of the Troad, according to Heraclides Ponticus, mice
were held sacred, the local name for mouse being [Greek].  Many places
bore this mouse-name, according to Strabo. {108b}  This is precisely what
would have occurred had the Mouse totem, and the Mouse stock, been widely
distributed. {108c}  The Scholiast {109a} mentions Sminthus as a place in
the Troad.  Strabo speaks of two places deriving their name from
Sminthus, or mouse, near the Sminthian temple, and others near Larissa.
In Rhodes and Lindus, the mouse place-name recurs, 'and in many other
districts' ([Greek]).  Strabo (x. 486) names Caressus, and Poeessa, in
Ceos, among the other places which had Sminthian temples, and,
presumably, were once centres of tribes named after the mouse.

Here, then, are a number of localities in which the Mouse Apollo was
adored, and where the old mouse-name lingered.  That the mice were
actually held sacred in their proper persons we learn from AElian.  'The
dwellers in Hamaxitus of the Troad worship mice,' says AElian.  'In the
temple of Apollo Smintheus, mice are nourished, and food is offered to
them, at the public expense, and white mice dwell beneath the altar.'
{109b}  In the same way we found that the Peruvians fed their sacred
beasts on what they usually saw them eat.

(2) The second point in our argument has already been sufficiently
demonstrated.  The mouse-name 'Smintheus' was given to Apollo in all the
places mentioned by Strabo, 'and many others.'

(3) The figure of the mouse will be associated with the god, and used as
a badge, or crest, or local mark, in places where the mouse has been a
venerated animal.

The passage already quoted from AElian informs us that there stood 'an
effigy of the mouse beside the tripod of Apollo.'  In Chrysa, according
to Strabo (xiii. 604), the statue of Apollo Smintheus had a mouse beneath
his foot.  The mouse on the tripod of Apollo is represented on a
bas-relief illustrating the plague, and the offerings of the Greeks to
Apollo Smintheus, as described in the first book of the 'Iliad.' {110a}

* * * * *

The mouse is a not uncommon local badge or crest in Greece.  The animals
whose figures are stamped on coins, like the Athenian owl, are the most
ancient marks of cities.  It is a plausible conjecture that, just as the
Iroquois when they signed treaties with the Europeans used their
totems--bear, wolf, and turtle--as seals, {110b} so the animals on
archaic Greek city coins represented crests or badges which, at some far
more remote period, had been totems.

The Argives, according to Pollux, {110c} stamped the mouse on their
coins. {110d}  As there was a temple of Apollo Smintheus in Tenedos, we
naturally hear of a mouse on the coins of the island. {111a}  Golzio has
published one of these mouse coins.  The people of Metapontum stamped
their money with a mouse gnawing an ear of corn.  The people of Cumae
employed a mouse dormant.  Paoli fancied that certain mice on Roman
medals might be connected with the family of Mus, but this is rather
guesswork. {111b}

We have now shown traces, at least, of various ways in which an early
tribal religion of the mouse--the mouse pacarissa, as the Peruvians
said--may have been perpetuated.  When we consider that the superseding
of the mouse by Apollo must have occurred, if it did occur, long before
Homer, we may rather wonder that the mouse left his mark on Greek
religion so long.  We have seen mice revered, a god with a mouse-name,
the mouse-name recurring in many places, the huaca, or idol, of the mouse
preserved in the temples of the god, and the mouse-badge used in several
widely severed localities.  It remains (4) to examine the myths about
mice.  These, in our opinion, were probably told to account for the
presence of the huaca of the mouse in temples, and for the occurrence of
the animal in religion, and his connection with Apollo.

A singular mouse-myth, narrated by Herodotus, is worth examining for
reasons which will appear later, though the events are said to have
happened on Egyptian soil. {111c}  According to Herodotus, one Sethos, a
priest of Hephaestus (Ptah), was king of Egypt.  He had disgraced the
military class, and he found himself without an army when Sennacherib
invaded his country.  Sethos fell asleep in the temple, and the god,
appearing to him in a vision, told him that divine succour would come to
the Egyptians. {112a}  In the night before the battle, field-mice gnawed
the quivers and shield-handles of the foe, who fled on finding themselves
thus disarmed.  'And now,' says Herodotus, 'there standeth a stone image
of this king in the temple of Hephaestus, and in the hand of the image a
mouse, and there is this inscription, "Let whoso looketh on me be

Prof. Sayce {112b} holds that there was no such person as Sethos, but
that the legend 'is evidently Egyptian, not Greek, and the name of
Sennacherib, as well as the fact of the Assyrian attack, is correct.'  The
legend also, though Egyptian, is 'an echo of the biblical account of the
destruction of the Assyrian army,' an account which omits the mice.  'As
to the mice, here,' says Prof. Sayce, 'we have to do again with the Greek
dragomen (sic).  The story of Sethos was attached to the statue of some
deity which was supposed to hold a mouse in its hand.'  It must have been
easy to verify this supposition; but Mr. Sayce adds, 'mice were not
sacred in Egypt, nor were they used as symbols, or found on the
monuments.'  To this remark we may suggest some exceptions.  Apparently
this one mouse _was_ found on the monuments.  Wilkinson (iii. 264) says
mice do occur in the sculptures, but they were not sacred.  Rats,
however, were certainly sacred, and as little distinction is taken, in
myth, between rats and mice as between rabbits and hares.  The rat was
sacred to Ra, the Sun-god, and (like all totems) was not to be eaten.
{113a}  This association of the rat and the Sun cannot but remind us of
Apollo and his mouse.  According to Strabo, a certain city of Egypt did
worship the shrew-mouse.  The Athribitae, or dwellers in Crocodilopolis,
are the people to whom he attributes this cult, which he mentions (xvii.
813) among the other local animal-worships of Egypt. {113b}  Several
porcelain examples of the field-mouse sacred to Horus (commonly called
Apollo by the Greeks) may be seen in the British Museum.

That rats and field-mice were sacred in Egypt, then, we may believe on
the evidence of the Ritual, of Strabo, and of many relics of Egyptian
art.  Herodotus, moreover, is credited when he says that the statue 'had
a mouse on its hand.'  Elsewhere, it is certain that the story of mice
gnawing the bowstrings occurs frequently as an explanation of
mouse-worship.  One of the Trojan 'mouse-stories' ran--That emigrants had
set out in prehistoric times from Crete.  The oracle advised them to
settle 'wherever they were attacked by the children of the soil.'  At
Hamaxitus in the Troad, they were assailed in the night by mice, which
ate all that was edible of their armour and bowstrings.  The colonists
made up their mind that these mice were 'the children of the soil,'
settled there, and adored the mouse Apollo. {114a}  A myth of this sort
may either be a story invented to explain the mouse-name; or a Mouse
tribe, like the Red Indian Wolves, or Crows, may actually have been
settled on the spot, and may even have resisted invasion. {114b}  Another
myth of the Troad accounted for the worship of the mouse Apollo on the
hypothesis that he had once freed the land from mice, like the Pied Piper
of Hamelin, whose pipe (still serviceable) is said to have been found in
his grave by men who were digging a mine. {114c}

Stories like these, stories attributing some great deliverance to the
mouse, or some deliverance from mice to the god, would naturally spring
up among people puzzled by their own worship of the mouse-god or of the
mouse.  We have explained the religious character of mice as the relics
of a past age in which the mouse had been a totem and mouse family names
had been widely diffused.  That there are, and have been, mice totems and
mouse family names among Semitic stocks round the Mediterranean is proved
by Prof. Robertson Smith: {115a} 'Achbor, the mouse, is an Edomite name,
apparently a stock name, as the jerboa and another mouse-name are among
the Arabs.  The same name occurs in Judah.'  Where totemism exists, the
members of each stock either do not eat the ancestral animal at all, or
only eat him on rare sacrificial occasions.  The totem of a hostile stock
may be eaten by way of insult.  In the case of the mouse, Isaiah seems to
refer to one or other of these practices (lxvi.): 'They that sanctify
themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the
midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the _mouse_, shall
be consumed together, saith the Lord.'  This is like the Egyptian
prohibition to eat 'the abominable' (that is, tabooed or forbidden) 'Rat
of Ra.'  If the unclean animals of Israel were originally the totems of
each clan, then the mouse was a totem, {115b} for the chosen people were
forbidden to eat 'the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his
kind.'  That unclean beasts, beasts not to be eaten, were originally
totems, Prof. Robertson Smith infers from Ezekiel (viii. 10, 11), where
'we find seventy of the elders of Israel--that is, the heads of
houses--worshipping in a chamber which had on its walls the figures of
all manner of unclean' (tabooed) 'creeping things, and quadrupeds, _even
all the idols of the House of Israel_.'  Some have too hastily concluded
that the mouse was a sacred animal among the neighbouring Philistines.
After the Philistines had captured the Ark and set it in the house of
Dagon, the people were smitten with disease.  They therefore, in
accordance with a well-known savage magical practice, made five golden
representations of the diseased part, and five golden mice, as 'a
trespass offering to the Lord of Israel,' and so restored the Ark. {116}
Such votive offerings are common still in Catholic countries, and the
mice of gold by no means prove that the Philistines had ever worshipped

* * * * *

Turning to India from the Mediterranean basin, and the Aryan, Semitic,
and Egyptian tribes on its coasts, we find that the mouse was the sacred
animal of Rudra.  'The mouse, Rudra, is thy beast,' says the Yajur Veda,
as rendered by Grohmann in his 'Apollo Smintheus.'  Grohmann recognises
in Rudra a deity with most of the characteristics of Apollo.  In later
Indian mythology, the mouse is an attribute of Ganeca, who, like Apollo
Smintheus, is represented in art with his foot upon a mouse.

Such are the chief appearances of the mouse in ancient religion.  If he
really was a Semitic totem, it may, perhaps, be argued that his
prevalence in connection with Apollo is the result of a Semitic leaven in
Hellenism.  Hellenic invaders may have found Semitic mouse-tribes at
home, and incorporated the alien stock deity with their own
Apollo-worship.  In that case the mouse, while still originally a totem,
would not be an Aryan totem.  But probably the myths and rites of the
mouse, and their diffusion, are more plausibly explained on our theory
than on that of De Gubernatis: 'The Pagan sun-god crushes under his foot
the Mouse of Night.  When the cat's away, the mice may play; the shadows
of night dance when the moon is absent.' {117a}  This is one of the
quaintest pieces of mythological logic.  Obviously, when the cat (the
moon) is away, the mice (the shadows) _cannot_ play: there is no light to
produce a shadow.  As usually chances, the scholars who try to resolve
all the features of myth into physical phenomena do not agree among
themselves about the mouse.  While the mouse is the night, according to
M. de Gubernatis, in Grohmann's opinion the mouse is the lightning.  He
argues that the lightning was originally regarded by the Aryan race as
the 'flashing tooth of a beast,' especially of a mouse.  Afterwards men
came to identify the beast with his teeth, and, behold, the lightning and
the mouse are convertible mythical terms!  Now it is perfectly true that
savages regard many elemental phenomena, from eclipses to the rainbow, as
the result of the action of animals.  The rainbow is a serpent; {117b}
thunder is caused by the thunder-bird, who has actually been shot in
Dacotah, and who is familiar to the Zulus; while rain is the milk of a
heavenly cow--an idea recurring in the 'Zend Avesta.'  But it does not
follow because savages believe in these meteorological beasts that all
the beasts in myth were originally meteorological.  Man raised a serpent
to the skies, perhaps, but his interest in the animal began on earth, not
in the clouds.  It is excessively improbable, and quite unproved, that
any race ever regarded lightning as the flashes of a mouse's teeth.  The
hypothesis is a jeu d'esprit, like the opposite hypothesis about the
mouse of Night.  In these, and all the other current theories of the
Sminthian Apollo, the widely diffused worship of ordinary mice, and such
small deer, has been either wholly neglected, or explained by the first
theory of symbolism that occurred to the conjecture of a civilised
observer.  The facts of savage animal-worship, and their relations to
totemism, seem still unknown to or unappreciated by scholars, with the
exception of Mr. Sayce, who recognises totemism as the origin of the
zoomorphic element in Egyptian religion.

Our explanation, whether adequate or not, is not founded on an isolated
case.  If Apollo superseded and absorbed the worship of the mouse, he did
no less for the wolf, the ram, the dolphin, and several other animals
whose images were associated with his own.  The Greek religion was more
refined and anthropomorphic than that of Egypt.  In Egypt the animals
were still adored, and the images of the gods had bestial heads.  In
Greece only a few gods, and chiefly in very archaic statues, had bestial
heads; but beside the other deities the sculptor set the owl, eagle,
wolf, serpent, tortoise, mouse, or whatever creature was the local
favourite of the deity. {118a}  Probably the deity had, in the majority
of cases, superseded the animal and succeeded to his honours.  But the
conservative religious sentiment retained the beast within the courts and
in the suit and service of the anthropomorphic god. {118b}

The process by which the god ousted the beasts may perhaps be observed in
Samoa.  There (as Dr. Turner tells us in his 'Samoa') each family has its
own sacred animal, which it may not eat.  If this law be transgressed,
the malefactor is supernaturally punished in a variety of ways.  But,
while each family has thus its totem, four or five different families
recognise, in owl, crab, lizard, and so on, incarnations of the same god,
say of Tongo.  If Tongo had a temple among these families, we can readily
believe that images of the various beasts in which he was incarnate would
be kept within the consecrated walls.  Savage ideas like these, if they
were ever entertained in Greece, would account for the holy animals of
the different deities.  But it is obvious that the phenomena which we
have been studying may be otherwise explained.  It may be said that the
Sminthian Apollo was only revered as the enemy and opponent of mice.  St.
Gertrude (whose heart was eaten by mice) has the same role in France.
{119}  The worship of Apollo, and the badge of the mouse, would, on this
principle, be diffused by colonies from some centre of the faith.  The
images of mice in Apollo's temples would be nothing more than votive
offerings.  Thus, in the church of a Saxon town, the verger shows a
silver mouse dedicated to Our Lady.  'This is the greatest of our
treasures,' says the verger.  'Our town was overrun with mice till the
ladies of the city offered this mouse of silver.  Instantly all the mice
disappeared.'  'And are you such fools as to believe that the creatures
went away because a silver mouse was dedicated?' asked a Prussian
officer.  'No,' replied the verger, rather neatly; 'or long ago we should
have offered a silver Prussian.'


Artemus Ward used to say that, while there were many things in the
science of astronomy hard to be understood, there was one fact which
entirely puzzled him.  He could partly perceive how we 'weigh the sun,'
and ascertain the component elements of the heavenly bodies, by the aid
of spectrum analysis.  'But what beats me about the stars,' he observed
plaintively, 'is how we come to know their names.'  This question, or
rather the somewhat similar question, 'How did the constellations come by
their very peculiar names?' has puzzled Professor Pritchard and other
astronomers more serious than Artemus Ward.  Why is a group of stars
called the Bear, or the Swan, or the Twins, or named after the Pleiades,
the fair daughters of the Giant Atlas? {121}  These are difficulties that
meet even children when they examine a 'celestial globe.'  There they
find the figure of a bear, traced out with lines in the intervals between
the stars of the constellations, while a very imposing giant is so drawn
that Orion's belt just fits his waist.  But when he comes to look at the
heavens, the infant speculator sees no sort of likeness to a bear in the
stars, nor anything at all resembling a giant in the neighbourhood of
Orion.  The most eccentric modern fancy which can detect what shapes it
will in clouds, is unable to find any likeness to human or animal forms
in the stars, and yet we call a great many of the stars by the names of
men and beasts and gods.  Some resemblance to terrestrial things, it is
true, everyone can behold in the heavens.  Corona, for example, is like a
crown, or, as the Australian black fellows know, it is like a boomerang,
and we can understand why they give it the name of that curious curved
missile.  The Milky Way, again, does resemble a path in the sky; our
English ancestors called it Watling Street--the path of the Watlings,
mythical giants--and Bushmen in Africa and Red Men in North America name
it the 'ashen path,' or 'the path of souls.'  The ashes of the path, of
course, are supposed to be hot and glowing, not dead and black like the
ash-paths of modern running-grounds.  Other and more recent names for
certain constellations are also intelligible.  In Homer's time the Greeks
had two names for the Great Bear; they called it the Bear, or the Wain:
and a certain fanciful likeness to a wain may be made out, though no
resemblance to a bear is manifest.  In the United States the same
constellation is popularly styled the Dipper, and every one may observe
the likeness to a dipper or toddy-ladle.

But these resemblances take us only a little way towards appellations.  We
know that we derive many of the names straight from the Greek; but whence
did the Greeks get them?  Some, it is said, from the Chaldaeans; but
whence did they reach the Chaldaeans?  To this we shall return later,
but, as to early Greek star-lore, Goguet, the author of 'L'Origine des
Lois,' a rather learned but too speculative work of the last century,
makes the following characteristic remarks: 'The Greeks received their
astronomy from Prometheus.  This prince, as far as history teaches us,
made his observations on Mount Caucasus.'  That was the eighteenth
century's method of interpreting mythology.  The myth preserved in the
'Prometheus Bound' of AEschylus tells us that Zeus crucified the Titan on
Mount Caucasus.  The French philosopher, rejecting the supernatural
elements of the tale, makes up his mind that Prometheus was a prince of a
scientific bent, and that he established his observatory on the frosty
Caucasus.  But, even admitting this, why did Prometheus give the stars
animal names?  Goguet easily explains this by a hypothetical account of
the manners of primitive men.  'The earliest peoples,' he says, 'must
have used writing for purposes of astronomical science.  They would be
content to design the constellations of which they wished to speak by the
hieroglyphical symbols of their names; hence the constellations have
insensibly taken the names of the chief symbols.'  Thus, a drawing of a
bear or a swan was the hieroglyphic of the name of a star, or group of
stars.  But whence came the name which was represented by the
hieroglyphic?  That is precisely what our author forgets to tell us.  But
he remarks that the meaning of the hieroglyphic came to be forgotten, and
'the symbols gave rise to all the ridiculous tales about the heavenly
signs.'  This explanation is attained by the process of reasoning in a
vicious circle from hypothetical premises ascertained to be false.  All
the known savages of the world, even those which have scarcely the
elements of picture-writing, call the constellations by the names of men
and animals, and all tell 'ridiculous tales' to account for the names.

As the star-stories told by the Greeks, the ancient Egyptians, and other
civilised people of the old world, exactly correspond in character, and
sometimes even in incident, with the star-stories of modern savages, we
have the choice of three hypotheses to explain this curious coincidence.
Perhaps the star-stories, about nymphs changed into bears, and bears
changed into stars, were invented by the civilised races of old, and
gradually found their way amongst people like the Eskimo, and the
Australians, and Bushmen.  Or it may be insisted that the ancestors of
Australians, Eskimo, and Bushmen were once civilised, like the Greeks and
Egyptians, and invented star-stories, still remembered by their
degenerate descendants.  These are the two forms of the explanation which
will be advanced by persons who believe that the star-stories were
originally the fruit of the civilised imagination.  The third theory
would be, that the 'ridiculous tales' about the stars were originally the
work of the savage imagination, and that the Greeks, Chaldaeans, and
Egyptians, when they became civilised, retained the old myths that their
ancestors had invented when they were savages.  In favour of this theory
it may be said, briefly, that there is no proof that the fathers of
Australians, Eskimo, and Bushmen had ever been civilised, while there is
a great deal of evidence to suggest that the fathers of the Greeks had
once been savages. {125}  And, if we incline to the theory that the star-
myths are the creation of savage fancy, we at once learn why they are, in
all parts of the world, so much alike.  Just as the flint and bone
weapons of rude races resemble each other much more than they resemble
the metal weapons and the artillery of advanced peoples, so the mental
products, the fairy tales, and myths of rude races have everywhere a
strong family resemblance.  They are produced by men in similar mental
conditions of ignorance, curiosity, and credulous fancy, and they are
intended to supply the same needs, partly of amusing narrative, partly of
crude explanation of familiar phenomena.

Now it is time to prove the truth of our assertion that the star-stories
of savage and of civilised races closely resemble each other.  Let us
begin with that well-known group the Pleiades.  The peculiarity of the
Pleiades is that the group consists of seven stars, of which one is so
dim that it seems entirely to disappear, and many persons can only detect
its presence through a telescope.  The Greeks had a myth to account for
the vanishing of the lost Pleiad.  The tale is given in the
'Catasterismoi' (stories of metamorphoses into stars) attributed to
Eratosthenes.  This work was probably written after our era; but the
author derived his information from older treatises now lost.  According
to the Greek myth, then, the seven stars of the Pleiad were seven
maidens, daughters of the Giant Atlas.  Six of them had gods for lovers;
Poseidon admired two of them, Zeus three, and Ares one; but the seventh
had only an earthly wooer, and when all of them were changed into stars,
the maiden with the mortal lover hid her light for shame.

Now let us compare the Australian story.  According to Mr. Dawson
('Australian Aborigines'), a writer who understands the natives well,
'their knowledge of the heavenly bodies greatly exceeds that of most
white people,' and 'is taught by men selected for their intelligence and
information.  The knowledge is important to the aborigines on their night
journeys;' so we may be sure that the natives are careful observers of
the heavens, and are likely to be conservative of their astronomical
myths.  The 'Lost Pleiad' has not escaped them, and this is how they
account for her disappearance.  The Pirt Kopan noot tribe have a
tradition that the Pleiades were a queen and her six attendants.  Long
ago the Crow (our Canopus) fell in love with the queen, who refused to be
his wife.  The Crow found that the queen and her six maidens, like other
Australian gins, were in the habit of hunting for white edible grubs in
the bark of trees.  The Crow at once changed himself into a grub (just as
Jupiter and Indra used to change into swans, horses, ants, or what not)
and hid in the bark of a tree.  The six maidens sought to pick him out
with their wooden hooks, but he broke the points of all the hooks.  Then
came the queen, with her pretty bone hook; he let himself be drawn out,
took the shape of a giant, and ran away with her.  Ever since there have
only been six stars, the six maidens, in the Pleiad.  This story is well
known, by the strictest inquiry, to be current among the blacks of the
West District and in South Australia.

Mr. Tylor, whose opinion is entitled to the highest respect, thinks that
this may be a European myth, told by some settler to a black in the Greek
form, and then spread about among the natives.  He complains that the
story of the loss of the _brightest_ star does not fit the facts of the

We do not know, and how can the Australians know, that the lost star was
once the brightest?  It appears to me that the Australians, remarking the
disappearances of a star, might very naturally suppose that the _Crow_
had selected for his wife that one which had been the most brilliant of
the cluster.  Besides, the wide distribution of the tale among the
natives, and the very great change in the nature of the incidents, seem
to point to a native origin.  Though the main conception--the loss of one
out of seven maidens--is identical in Greek and in Murri, the manner of
the disappearance is eminently Hellenic in the one case, eminently savage
in the other.  However this may be, nothing of course is proved by a
single example.  Let us next examine the stars Castor and Pollux.  Both
in Greece and in Australia these are said once to have been two young
men.  In the 'Catasterismoi,' already spoken of, we read: 'The Twins, or
Dioscouroi.--They were nurtured in Lacedaemon, and were famous for their
brotherly love, wherefore, Zeus, desiring to make their memory immortal,
placed them both among the stars.'  In Australia, according to Mr. Brough
Smyth ('Aborigines of Victoria'), Turree (Castor) and Wanjel (Pollux) are
two young men who pursue Purra and kill him at the commencement of the
great heat.  Coonar toorung (the mirage) is the smoke of the fire by
which they roast him.  In Greece it was not Castor and Pollux, but Orion
who was the great hunter placed among the stars.  Among the Bushmen of
South Africa, Castor and Pollux are not young men, but young women, the
wives of the Eland, the great native antelope.  In Greek star-stories the
Great Bear keeps watch, Homer says, on the hunter Orion for fear of a
sudden attack.  But how did the Bear get its name in Greece?  According
to Hesiod, the oldest Greek poet after Homer, the Bear was once a lady,
daughter of Lycaon, King of Arcadia.  She was a nymph of the train of
chaste Artemis, but yielded to the love of Zeus, and became the
ancestress of all the Arcadians (that is, Bear-folk).  In her bestial
form she was just about to be slain by her own son when Zeus rescued her
by raising her to the stars.  Here we must notice first, that the
Arcadians, like Australians, Red Indians, Bushmen, and many other wild
races, and like the Bedouins, believed themselves to be descended from an
animal.  That the early Egyptians did the same is not improbable; for
names of animals are found among the ancestors in the very oldest
genealogical papyrus, {128} as in the genealogies of the old English
kings.  Next the Arcadians transferred the ancestral bear to the heavens,
and, in doing this, they resembled the Peruvians, of whom Acosta says:
'They adored the star Urchuchilly, feigning it to be a Ram, and
worshipped two others, and say that one of them is a _sheep_, and the
other a lamb . . . others worshipped the star called the Tiger.  _They
were of opinion that there was not any beast or bird upon the earth,
whose shape or image did not shine in the heavens_.'

But to return to our bears.  The Australians have, properly speaking, no
bears, though the animal called the native bear is looked up to by the
aborigines with superstitious regard.  But among the North American
Indians, as the old missionaries Lafitau and Charlevoix observed, 'the
four stars in front of our constellation are a bear; those in the tail
are hunters who pursue him; the small star apart is the pot in which they
mean to cook him.'

It may be held that the Red Men derived their bear from the European
settlers.  But, as we have seen, an exact knowledge of the stars has
always been useful if not essential to savages; and we venture to doubt
whether they would confuse their nomenclature and sacred traditions by
borrowing terms from trappers and squatters.  But, if this is improbable,
it seems almost impossible that all savage races should have borrowed
their whole conception of the heavenly bodies from the myths of Greece.
It is thus that Egede, a missionary of the last century, describes the
Eskimo philosophy of the stars: 'The notions that the Greenlanders have
as to the origin of the heavenly lights--as sun, moon, and stars--are
very nonsensical; in that they pretend they have formerly been as many of
their own ancestors, who, on different accounts, were lifted up to
heaven, and became such glorious celestial bodies.'  Again, he writes:
'Their notions about the stars are that some of them have been men, and
others different sorts, of animals and fishes.'  But every reader of Ovid
knows that this was the very mythical theory of the Greeks and Romans.
The Egyptians, again, worshipped Osiris, Isis, and the rest as
_ancestors_, and there are even modern scholars, like Mr. Loftie in his
'Essay of Scarabs,' who hold Osiris to have been originally a real
historical person.  But the Egyptian priests who showed Plutarch the
grave of Osiris, showed him, too, the stars into which Osiris, Isis, and
Horus had been metamorphosed.  Here, then, we have Greeks, Egyptians, and
Eskimo, all agreed about the origin of the heavenly lights, all of
opinion that 'they have formerly been as many of their own ancestors.'

The Australian general theory is: 'Of the good men and women, after the
deluge, Pundjel (a kind of Zeus, or rather a sort of Prometheus of
Australian mythology) made stars.  Sorcerers (Biraark) can tell which
stars were once good men and women.'  Here the sorcerers have the same
knowledge as the Egyptian priests.  Again, just as among the Arcadians,
'the progenitors of the existing tribes, whether birds, or beasts, or
men, were set in the sky, and made to shine as stars.' {130}

We have already given some Australian examples in the stories of the
Pleiades, and of Castor and Pollux.  We may add the case of the Eagle.  In
Greece the Eagle was the bird of Zeus, who carried off Ganymede to be the
cup-bearer of Olympus.  Among the Australians this same constellation is
called Totyarguil; he was a man who, when bathing, was killed by a
fabulous animal, a kind of kelpie; as Orion, in Greece, was killed by the
Scorpion.  Like Orion, he was placed among the stars.  The Australians
have a constellation named Eagle, but he is our Sinus, or Dog-star.

The Indians of the Amazon are in one tale with the Australians and
Eskimo.  'Dr. Silva de Coutinho informs me,' says Professor Hartt, {131}
'that the Indians of the Amazonas not only give names to many of the
heavenly bodies, but also tell stories about them.  The two stars that
form the shoulders of Orion are said to be an old man and a boy in a
canoe, chasing a peixe boi, by which name is designated a dark spot in
the sky near the above constellation.'  The Indians also know
monkey-stars, crane-stars, and palm-tree stars.

The Bushmen, almost the lowest tribe of South Africa, have the same star-
lore and much the same myths as the Greeks, Australians, Egyptians, and
Eskimo.  According to Dr. Bleek, 'stars, and even the sun and moon, were
once mortals on earth, or even animals or inorganic substances, which
happened to get translated to the skies.  The sun was once a man, whose
arm-pit radiated a limited amount of light round his house.  Some
children threw him into the sky, and there he shines.'  The Homeric hymn
to Helios, in the same way, as Mr. Max Muller observes, 'looks on the sun
as a half-god, almost a hero, who had once lived on earth.'  The pointers
of the Southern Cross were 'two men who were lions,' just as Callisto, in
Arcadia, was a woman who was a bear.  It is not at all rare in those
queer philosophies, as in that of the Scandinavians, to find that the sun
or moon has been a man or woman.  In Australian fable the moon was a man,
the sun a woman of indifferent character, who appears at dawn in a coat
of red kangaroo skins, the present of an admirer.  In an old Mexican text
the moon was a man, across whose face a god threw a rabbit, thus making
the marks in the moon. {132a}

Many separate races seem to recognise the figure of a hare, where we see
'the Man in the Moon.'  In a Buddhist legend, an exemplary and altruistic
hare was translated to the moon.  'To the common people in India the
spots on the moon look like a hare, and Chandras, the god of the moon,
carries a hare: hence the moon is called sasin or sasanka, hare-mark.  The
Mongolians also see in these shadows the figure of a hare.' {132b}  Among
the Eskimo, the moon is a girl, who always flees from her cruel brother,
the sun, because he disfigured her face.  Elsewhere the sun is the girl,
beloved by her own brother, the moon; she blackens her face to avert his
affection.  On the Rio Branco, and among the Tomunda, the moon is a girl
who loved her brother and visited him in the dark.  He detected her
wicked passion by drawing his blackened hand over her face.  The marks
betrayed her, and, as the spots on the moon, remain to this day. {133}

Among the New Zealanders and North American Indians the sun is a great
beast, whom the hunters trapped and thrashed with cudgels.  His blood is
used in some New Zealand incantations; and, according to an Egyptian
myth, was kneaded into clay at the making of man.  But there is no end to
similar sun-myths, in all of which the sun is regarded as a man, or even
as a beast.

To return to the stars--

The Red Indians, as Schoolcraft says, 'hold many of the planets to be
transformed adventurers.'  The Iowas 'believed stars to be a sort of
living creatures.'  One of them came down and talked to a hunter, and
showed him where to find game.  The Gallinomeros of Central California,
according to Mr. Bancroft, believe that the sun and moon were made and
lighted up by the Hawk and the Coyote, who one day flew into each other's
faces in the dark, and were determined to prevent such accidents in the
future.  But the very oddest example of the survival of the notion that
the stars are men or women is found in the 'Pax' of Aristophanes.  Trygaeus
in that comedy has just made an expedition to heaven.  A slave meets him,
and asks him, 'Is not the story true, then, that we become stars when we
die?'  The answer is 'Certainly;' and Trygaeus points out the star into
which Ios of Chios has just been metamorphosed.  Aristophanes is making
fun of some popular Greek superstition.  But that very superstition meets
us in New Zealand.  'Heroes,' says Mr. Taylor, 'were thought to become
stars of greater or less brightness, according to the number of their
victims slain in fight.'  The Aryan race is seldom far behind, when there
are ludicrous notions to be credited or savage tales to be told.  We have
seen that Aristophanes, in Greece, knew the Eskimo doctrine that stars
are souls of the dead.  The Persians had the same belief, {134a} 'all the
unnumbered stars were reckoned ghosts of men.' {134b}  The German
folklore clings to the same belief, 'Stars are souls; when a child dies
God makes a new star.'  Kaegi quotes {134c} the same idea from the Veda,
and from the Satapatha Brahmana the thoroughly Australian notion that
'good men become stars.'  For a truly savage conception, it would be
difficult, in South Africa or on the Amazons, to beat the following story
from the 'Aitareya Brahmana' (iii. 33.) Pragapati, the Master of Life,
conceived an incestuous passion for his own daughter.  Like Zeus, and
Indra, and the Australian wooer in the Pleiad tale, he concealed himself
under the shape of a beast, a roebuck, and approached his own daughter,
who had assumed the form of a doe.  The gods, in anger at the awful
crime, made a monster to punish Pragapati.  The monster sent an arrow
through the god's body; he sprang into heaven, and, like the Arcadian
bear, this Aryan roebuck became a constellation.  He is among the stars
of Orion, and his punisher, also now a star, is, like the Greek Orion, a
hunter.  The daughter of Pragapati, the doe, became another
constellation, and the avenging arrow is also a set of stars in the sky.
What follows, about the origin of the gods called Adityas, is really too
savage to be quoted by a chaste mythologist.

It would be easy to multiply examples of this stage of thought among
Aryans and savages.  But we have probably brought forward enough for our
purpose, and have expressly chosen instances from the most widely
separated peoples.  These instances, it will perhaps be admitted,
suggest, if they do not prove, that the Greeks had received from
tradition precisely the same sort of legends about the heavenly bodies as
are current among Eskimo and Bushmen, New Zealanders and Iowas.  As much,
indeed, might be inferred from our own astronomical nomenclature.  We now
give to newly discovered stars names derived from distinguished people,
as Georgium Sidus, or Herschel; or, again, merely technical appellatives,
as Alpha, Beta, and the rest.  We should never think when 'some new
planet swims into our ken' of calling it Kangaroo, or Rabbit, or after
the name of some hero of romance, as Rob Roy, or Count Fosco.  But the
names of stars which we inherit from Greek mythology--the Bear, the
Pleiads, Castor and Pollux, and so forth--are such as no people in our
mental condition would originally think of bestowing.  When Callimachus
and the courtly astronomers of Alexandria pretended that the golden locks
of Berenice were raised to the heavens, that was a mere piece of flattery
constructed on the inherited model of legends about the crown (Corona) of
Ariadne.  It seems evident enough that the older Greek names of stars are
derived from a time when the ancestors of the Greeks were in the mental
and imaginative condition of Iowas, Kanekas, Bushmen, Murri, and New
Zealanders.  All these, and all other savage peoples, believe in a kind
of equality and intercommunion among all things animate and inanimate.
Stones are supposed in the Pacific Islands to be male and female and to
propagate their species.  Animals are believed to have human or
superhuman intelligence, and speech, if they choose to exercise the gift.
Stars are just on the same footing, and their movements are explained by
the same ready system of universal anthropomorphism.  Stars, fishes,
gods, heroes, men, trees, clouds, and animals, all play their equal part
in the confused dramas of savage thought and savage mythology.  Even in
practical life the change of a sorcerer into an animal is accepted as a
familiar phenomenon, and the power of soaring among the stars is one on
which the Australian Biraark, or the Eskimo Shaman, most plumes himself.
It is not wonderful that things which are held possible in daily practice
should be frequent features of mythology.  Hence the ready invention and
belief of star-legends, which in their turn fix the names of the heavenly
bodies.  Nothing more, except the extreme tenacity of tradition and the
inconvenience of changing a widely accepted name, is needed to account
for the human and animal names of the stars.  The Greeks received from
the dateless past of savage intellect the myths, and the names of the
constellations, and we have taken them, without inquiry, from the Greeks.
Thus it happens that our celestial globes are just as queer menageries as
any globes could be that were illustrated by Australians or American
Indians, by Bushmen or Peruvian aborigines, or Eskimo.  It was savages,
we may be tolerably certain, who first handed to science the names of the
constellations, and provided Greece with the raw material of her
astronomical myths--as Bacon prettily says, that we listen to the harsh
ideas of earlier peoples 'blown softly through the flutes of the

This position has been disputed by Mr. Brown, in a work rather komically
called 'The Law of Kosmic Order.'  Mr. Brown's theory is that the early
Accadians named the zodiacal signs after certain myths and festivals
connected with the months.  Thus the crab is a figure of 'the darkness
power' which seized the Akkadian solar hero, Dumuzi, and 'which is
constantly represented in monstrous and drakontic form.'  The bull,
again, is connected with night and darkness, 'in relation to the horned
moon,' and is, for other reasons, 'a nocturnal potency.'  Few stars, to
tell the truth, are diurnal potencies.  Mr. Brown's explanations appear
to me far-fetched and unconvincing.  But, granting that the zodiacal
signs reached Greece from Chaldaea, Mr. Brown will hardly maintain that
Australians, Melanesians, Iowas, Amazon Indians, Eskimo, and the rest,
borrowed their human and animal stars from 'Akkadia.'  The belief in
animal and human stars is practically universal among savages who have
not attained the 'Akkadian' degree of culture.  The belief, as Mr. Tylor
has shown, {137} is a natural result of savage ideas.  We therefore infer
that the 'Akkadians,' too, probably fell back for star-names on what they
inherited from the savage past.  If the Greeks borrowed certain
star-names from the Akkadians, they also, like the Aryans of India,
retained plenty of savage star-myths of their own, fables derived from
the earliest astronomical guesses of early thought.

The first moment in astronomical science arrives when the savage, looking
at a star, says, like the child in the nursery poem, 'How I wonder what
you are!'  The next moment comes when the savage has made his first rough
practical observations of the movements of the heavenly body.  His third
step is to explain these to himself.  Now science cannot offer any but a
fanciful explanation beyond the sphere of experience.  The experience of
the savage is limited to the narrow world of his tribe, and of the
beasts, birds, and fishes of his district.  His philosophy, therefore,
accounts for all phenomena on the supposition that the laws of the
animate nature he observes are working everywhere.  But his observations,
misguided by his crude magical superstitions, have led him to believe in
a state of equality and kinship between men and animals, and even
inorganic things.  He often worships the very beasts he slays; he
addresses them as if they understood him; he believes himself to be
descended from the animals, and of their kindred.  These confused ideas
he applies to the stars, and recognises in them men like himself, or
beasts like those with which he conceives himself to be in such close
human relations.  There is scarcely a bird or beast but the Red Indian or
the Australian will explain its peculiarities by a myth, like a page from
Ovid's 'Metamorphoses.'  It was once a man or a woman, and has been
changed to bird or beast by a god or a magician.  Men, again, have
originally been beasts, in his philosophy, and are descended from wolves,
frogs or serpents, or monkeys.  The heavenly bodies are traced to
precisely the same sort of origin; and hence, we conclude, come their
strange animal names, and the strange myths about them which appear in
all ancient poetry.  These names, in turn, have curiously affected human
beliefs.  Astrology is based on the opinion that a man's character and
fate are determined by the stars under which he is born.  And the nature
of these stars is deduced from their names, so that the bear should have
been found in the horoscope of Dr. Johnson.  When Giordano Bruno wrote
his satire against religion, the famous 'Spaccio della bestia
trionfante,' he proposed to banish not only the gods but the beasts from
heaven.  He would call the stars, not the Bear, or the Swan, or the
Pleiads, but Truth, Mercy, Justice, and so forth, that men might be born,
not under bestial, but moral influences.  But the beasts have had too
long possession of the stars to be easily dislodged, and the tenure of
the Bear and the Swan will probably last as long as there is a science of
Astronomy.  Their names are not likely again to delude a philosopher into
the opinion of Aristotle that the stars are animated.

This argument had been worked out to the writer's satisfaction when he
chanced to light on Mr. Max Muller's explanation of the name of the Great
Bear.  We have explained that name as only one out of countless similar
appellations which men of every race give to the stars.  These names,
again, we have accounted for as the result of savage philosophy, which
takes no great distinction between man and the things in the world, and
looks on stars, beasts, birds, fishes, flowers, and trees as men and
women in disguise.  Mr. Muller's theory is based on philological
considerations.  He thinks that the name of the Great Bear is the result
of a mistake as to the meaning of words.  There was in Sanskrit, he says,
{140} a root ark, or arch, meaning 'to be bright.'  The stars are called
riksha, that is, bright ones, in the Veda.  'The constellations here
called the Rikshas, in the sense of the "bright ones," would be
homonymous in Sanskrit with the Bears.  Remember also that, apparently
without rhyme or reason, the same constellation is called by Greeks and
Romans the Bear. . . .  There is not the shadow of a likeness with a
bear.  You will now perceive the influence of words on thought, or the
spontaneous growth of mythology.  The name Riksha was applied to the bear
in the sense of the bright fuscous animal, and in that sense it became
most popular in the later Sanskrit, and in Greek and Latin.  The same
name, "in the sense of the bright ones," had been applied by the Vedic
poets to the stars in general, and more particularly to that
constellation which in the northern parts of India was the most
prominent.  The etymological meaning, "the bright stars," was forgotten;
the popular meaning of Riksha (bear) was known to everyone.  And thus it
happened that, when the Greeks had left their central home and settled in
Europe, they retained the name of Arktos for the same unchanging stars;
but, not knowing why those stars had originally received that name, they
ceased to speak of them as arktoi, or many bears, and spoke of them as
the Bear.'

This is a very good example of the philological way of explaining a myth.
If once we admit that ark, or arch, in the sense of 'bright' and of
'bear,' existed, not only in Sanskrit, but in the undivided Aryan tongue,
and that the name Riksha, bear, 'became in that sense most popular in
Greek and Latin,' this theory seems more than plausible.  But the
explanation does not look so well if we examine, not only the Aryan, but
all the known myths and names of the Bear and the other stars.  Professor
Sayce, a distinguished philologist, says we may not compare non-Aryan
with Aryan myths.  We have ventured to do so, however, in this paper, and
have shown that the most widely severed races give the stars animal
names, of which the Bear is one example.  Now, if the philologists wish
to persuade us that it was decaying and half-forgotten language which
caused men to give the names of animals to the stars, they must prove
their case on an immense collection of instances--on Iowa, Kaneka, Murri,
Maori, Brazilian, Peruvian, Mexican, Egyptian, Eskimo, instances.  It
would be the most amazing coincidence in the world if forgetfulness of
the meaning of their own speech compelled tribes of every tongue and race
to recognise men and beasts, cranes, cockatoos, serpents, monkeys, bears,
and so forth, in the heavens.  How came the misunderstood words always to
be misunderstood in the same way?  Does the philological explanation
account for the enormous majority of the phenomena?  If it fails, we may
at least doubt whether it solves the one isolated case of the Great Bear
among the Greeks and Romans.  It must be observed that the philological
explanation of Mr. Muller does not clear up the Arcadian story of their
own descent from a she-bear who is now a star.  Yet similar stories of
the descent of tribes from animals are so widespread that it would be
difficult to name the race or the quarter of the globe where they are not
found.  Are they all derived from misunderstood words meaning 'bright'?
These considerations appear to be a strong argument for comparing not
only Aryan, but all attainable myths.  We shall often find, if we take a
wide view, that the philological explanation which seemed plausible in a
single case is hopelessly narrow when applied to a large collection of
parallel cases in languages of various families.

Finally, in dealing with star myths, we adhere to the hypothesis of Mr.
Tylor: 'From savagery up to civilisation,' Akkadian, Greek, or English,
'there may be traced in the mythology of the stars a course of thought,
changed, indeed, in application, yet never broken in its evident
connection from first to last.  The savage sees individual stars as
animate beings, or combines star-groups into living celestial creatures,
or limbs of them, or objects connected with them; while at the other
extremity of the scale of civilisation the modern astronomer keeps up
just such ancient fancies, turning them to account in useful survival, as
a means of mapping out the celestial globe.'


'I have found out a new cure for rheumatism,' said the lady beside whom
it was my privilege to sit at dinner.  'You carry a potato about in your

Some one has written an amusing account of the behaviour of a man who is
finishing a book.  He takes his ideas everywhere with him and broods over
them, even at dinner, in the pauses of conversation.  But here was a lady
who kindly contributed to my studies and offered me folklore and
survivals in cultivated Kensington.

My mind had strayed from the potato cure to the New Zealand habit of
carrying a baked yam at night to frighten away ghosts, and to the old
English belief that a bit of bread kept in the pocket was sovereign
against evil spirits.  Why should ghosts dread the food of mortals when
it is the custom of most races of mortals to feed ancestral ghosts?  The
human mind works pretty rapidly, and all this had passed through my brain
while I replied, in tones of curiosity: 'A potato!'

'Yes; but it is not every potato that will do.  I heard of the cure in
the country, and when we came up to town, and my husband was complaining
of rheumatism, I told one of the servants to get me a potato for Mr.
Johnson's rheumatism.  "Yes, ma'am," said the man; "but it must be a
_stolen_ potato."  I had forgotten that.  Well, one can't ask one's
servants to steal potatoes.  It is easy in the country, where you can
pick one out of anybody's field.'  'And what did you do?'  I asked.  'Oh,
I drove to Covent Garden and ordered a lot of fruit and flowers.  While
the man was not looking, I stole a potato--a very little one.  I don't
think there was any harm in it.'  'And did Mr. Johnson try the potato
cure?'  'Yes, he carried it in his pocket, and now he is quite well.  I
told the doctor, and he says he knows of the cure, but he dares not
recommend it.'

How oddly superstitions survive!  The central idea of this modern folly
about the potato is that you must pilfer the root.  Let us work the idea
of the healing or magical herb backwards, from Kensington to European
folklore, and thence to classical times, to Homer, and to the Hottentots.
Turning first to Germany, we note the beliefs, not about the potato, but
about another vegetable, the mandrake.  Of all roots, in German
superstition, the Alraun, or mandrake, is the most famous.  The herb was
conceived of, in the savage fashion, as a living human person, a kind of
old witch-wife. {144}

Again, the root has a human shape.  'If a hereditary thief who has
preserved his chastity gets hung,' the broad-leafed, yellow-flowered
mandrake grows up, in his likeness, beneath the gallows from which he is
suspended.  The mandrake, like the moly, the magical herb of the Odyssey,
is 'hard for men to dig.'  He who desires to possess a mandrake must stop
his ears with wax, so that he may not hear the deathly yells which the
plant utters as it is being dragged out of the earth.  Then before
sunrise, on a Friday, the amateur goes out with a dog, 'all black,' makes
three crosses round the mandrake, loosens the soil about the root, ties
the root to the dog's tail, and offers the beast a piece of bread.  The
dog runs at the bread, drags out the mandrake root, and falls dead,
killed by the horrible yell of the plant.  The root is now taken up,
washed with wine, wrapped in silk, laid in a casket, bathed every Friday,
'and clothed in a little new white smock every new moon.'  The mandrake
acts, if thus considerately treated, as a kind of familiar spirit.  'Every
piece of coin put to her over night is found doubled in the morning.'
Gipsy folklore, and the folklore of American children, keep this belief
in doubling deposits.  The gipsies use the notion in what they call 'The
Great Trick.'  Some foolish rustic makes up his money in a parcel which
he gives to the gipsy.  The latter, after various ceremonies performed,
returns the parcel, which is to be buried.  The money will be found
doubled by a certain date.  Of course when the owner unburies the parcel
he finds nothing in it but brass buttons.  In the same way, and with
pious confidence, the American boy buries a marble in a hollow log,
uttering the formula, 'What hasn't come here, _come_! what's here, _stay_
here!' and expects to find all the marbles he has ever lost. {145}  Let
us follow the belief in magical roots into the old Pagan world.

The ancients knew mandragora and the superstitions connected with it very
well.  Dioscorides mentions mandragorus, or antimelon, or dircaea, or
Circaea, and says the Egyptians call it apemoum, and Pythagoras
'anthropomorphon.'  In digging the root, Pliny says, 'there are some
ceremonies observed, first they that goe about this worke, look
especially to this that the wind be not in their face, but blow upon
their backs.  Then with the point of a sword they draw three circles
round about the plant, which don, they dig it up afterwards with their
face unto the west.'  Pliny says nothing of the fetich qualities of the
plant, as credited in modern and mediaeval Germany, but mentions
'sufficient it is with some bodies to cast them into sleep with the smel
of mandrago.'  This is like Shakespeare's 'poppy and mandragora, and all
the drowsy syrups of the world.'  Plato and Demosthenes {146a} also speak
of mandragora as a soporific.  It is more to the purpose of magic that
Columella mentions 'the _half-human_ mandragora.'  Here we touch the
origin of the mandrake superstitions.  The roots have a kind of fantastic
resemblance to the human shape; Pliny describes them as being 'of a
fleshy substance and tender.'  Now it is one of the recognised principles
in magic, that things like each other, however superficially, affect each
other in a mystic way, and possess identical properties.  Thus, in
Melanesia, according to Mr. Codrington, {146b} 'a stone in the shape of a
pig, of a bread-fruit, of a yam, was a most valuable find,' because it
made pigs prolific, and fertilised bread-fruit trees and yam-plots.  In
Scotland, too, 'stones were called by the names of the limbs they
resembled, as "eye-stane," "head-stane."  A patient washed the affected
part of his body, and rubbed it well with the stone corresponding.'
{147a}  In precisely the same way, the mandrake root, being thought to
resemble the human body, was credited with human and superhuman powers.
Josephus mentions {147b} a plant 'not easily caught, which slips away
from them that wish to gather it, and never stands still' till certain
repulsive rites are performed.  These rites cannot well be reported here,
but they are quite familiar to Red Indian and to Bushman magic.  Another
way to dig the plant spoken of by Josephus is by aid of the dog, as in
the German superstition quoted from Grimm.  AElian also recommends the
use of the dog to pluck the herb aglaophotis, which shines at night.
{147c}  When the dog has dragged up the root, and died of terror, his
body is to be buried on the spot with religious honours and secret sacred

So much for mandragora, which, like the healing potato, has to be
acquired stealthily and with peril.  Now let us examine the Homeric herb
moly.  The plant is thus introduced by Homer: In the tenth book of the
'Odyssey,' Circe has turned Odysseus's men into swine.  He sets forth to
rescue them, trusting only to his sword.  The god Hermes meets him, and
offers him 'a charmed herb,' 'this herb of grace' ([Greek]) whereby he
may subdue the magic wiles of Circe.

The plant is described by Homer with some minuteness.  'It was black at
the root, but the flower was like to milk.  "Moly," the gods call it, but
it is hard for mortal men to dig, howbeit with the gods all things are
possible.'  The etymologies given of 'moly' are almost as numerous as the
etymologists.  One derivation, from the old 'Turanian' tongue of Accadia,
will be examined later.  The Scholiast offers the derivation '[Greek], to
make charms of no avail'; but this is exactly like Professor Blackie's
etymological discovery that Erinys is derived from [Greek]: 'he might as
well derive critic from criticise.' {148}  The Scholiast adds that moly
caused death to the person who dragged it out of the ground.  This
identification of moly with mandrake is probably based on Homer's remark
that moly is 'hard to dig.'  The black root and white flower of moly are
quite unlike the yellow flower and white fleshy root ascribed by Pliny to
mandrake.  Only confusion is caused by regarding the two magical herbs as

But why are any herbs or roots magical?  While some scholars, like De
Gubernatis, seek an explanation in supposed myths about clouds and stars,
it is enough for our purpose to observe that herbs really have medicinal
properties, and that untutored people invariably confound medicine with
magic.  A plant or root is thought to possess virtue, not only when
swallowed in powder or decoction, but when carried in the hand.  St.
John's wort and rowan berries, like the Homeric moly, still 'make evil
charms of none avail;'

   Rowan, ash, and red threed
   Keep the devils from their speed,

says the Scotch rhyme.  Any fanciful resemblance of leaf or flower or
root to a portion of the human body, any analogy based on colour, will
give a plant reputation for magical virtues.  This habit of mind survives
from the savage condition.  The Hottentots are great herbalists.  Like
the Greeks, like the Germans, they expect supernatural aid from plants
and roots.  Mr. Hahn, in his 'Tsui Goam, the Supreme Being of the Khoi
Khoi' (p. 82), gives the following examples:--

   Dapper, in his description of Africa, p. 621, tells us:--'Some of them
   wear round the neck roots, which they find far inland, in rivers, and
   being on a journey they light them in a fire or chew them, if they
   must sleep the night out in the field.  They believe that these roots
   keep off the wild animals.  The roots they chew are spit out around
   the spot where they encamp for the night; and in a similar way if they
   set the roots alight, they blow the smoke and ashes about, believing
   that the smell will keep the wild animals off.

   I had often occasion to observe the practice of these superstitious
   ceremonies, especially when we were in a part of the country where we
   heard the roaring of the lions, or had the day previously met with the
   footprints of the king of the beasts.

   The Korannas also have these roots as safeguards with them.  If a
   Commando (a warlike expedition) goes out, every man will put such
   roots in his pockets and in the pouch where he keeps his bullets,
   believing that the arrows or bullets of the enemy have no effect, but
   that his own bullets will surely kill the enemy.  And also before they
   lie down to sleep, they set these roots alight, and murmur, 'My
   grandfather's root, bring sleep on the eyes of the lion and leopard
   and the hyena.  Make them blind, that they cannot find us, and cover
   their noses, that they cannot smell us out.'  Also, if they have
   carried off large booty, or stolen cattle of the enemy, they light
   these roots and say: 'We thank thee, our grandfather's root, that thou
   hast given us cattle to eat.  Let the enemy sleep, and lead him on the
   wrong track, that he may not follow us until we have safely escaped.'

   Another sort of shrub is called abib.  Herdsmen, especially, carry
   pieces of its wood as charms, and if cattle or sheep have gone astray,
   they burn a piece of it in the fire, that the wild animals may not
   destroy them.  And they believe that the cattle remain safe until they
   can be found the next morning.

Schweinfurth found the same belief in magic herbs and roots among the
Bongoes and Niam Niams in 'The Heart of Africa.'  The Bongoes believe,
like the Homeric Greeks, that 'certain roots ward off the evil influences
of spirits.'  Like the German amateurs of the mandrake, they assert that
'there is no other resource for obtaining communication with spirits,
except by means of certain roots' (i. 306).

Our position is that the English magical potato, the German mandrake, the
Greek moly, are all survivals from a condition of mind like that in which
the Hottentots still pray to roots.

Now that we have brought mandragora and moly into connection with the
ordinary magical superstitions of savage peoples, let us see what is made
of the subject by another method.  Mr. R. Brown, the learned and
industrious author of 'The Great Dionysiak Myth,' has investigated the
traditions about the Homeric moly.  He first {151} 'turns to Aryan
philology.'  Many guesses at the etymology of 'moly' have been made.
Curtius suggests [Greek], akin to [Greek], 'soft.'  This does not suit
Mr. Brown, who, to begin with, is persuaded that the herb is not a
magical herb, sans phrase, like those which the Hottentots use, but that
the basis of the myth 'is simply the effect of night upon the world of
day.'  Now, as moly is a name in use among the gods, Mr. Brown thinks 'we
may fairly examine the hypothesis of a foreign origin of the term.'
Anyone who holds that certain Greek gods were borrowed from abroad, may
be allowed to believe that the gods used foreign words, and, as Mr. Brown
points out, there are foreign elements in various Homeric names of
imported articles, peoples, persons, and so forth.  Where, then, is a
foreign word like moly, which might have reached Homer?  By a long
process of research, Mr. Brown finds his word in ancient 'Akkadian.'  From
Professor Sayce he borrows a reference to Apuleius Barbarus, about whose
life nothing is known, and whose date is vague.  Apuleius Barbarus may
have lived about four centuries after our era, and _he_ says that 'wild
rue was called moly by the Cappadocians.'  Rue, like rosemary, and indeed
like most herbs, has its magical repute, and if we supposed that Homer's
moly was rue, there would be some interest in the knowledge.  Rue was
called 'herb of grace' in English, holy water was sprinkled with it, and
the name is a translation of Homer's [Greek].  Perhaps rue was used in
sprinkling, because in pre-Christian times rue had, by itself, power
against sprites and powers of evil.  Our ancestors may have thought it as
well to combine the old charm of rue and the new Christian potency of
holy water.  Thus there would be a distinct analogy between Homeric moly
and English 'herb of grace.'

'Euphrasy and rue' were employed to purge and purify mortal eyes.  Pliny
is very learned about the magical virtues of rue.  Just as the stolen
potato is sovran for rheumatism, so 'rue stolen thriveth the best.'  The
Samoans think that their most valued vegetables were stolen from heaven
by a Samoan visitor. {152a}  It is remarkable that rue, according to
Pliny, is killed by the touch of a woman in the same way as, according to
Josephus, the mandrake is tamed. {152b}  These passages prove that the
classical peoples had the same extraordinary superstitions about women as
the Bushmen and Red Indians.  Indeed Pliny {152c} describes a magical
manner of defending the crops from blight, by aid of women, which is
actually practised in America by the Red Men. {152d}

Here, then, are proofs enough that rue was magical outside of Cappadocia.
But this is not an argument on Mr. Brown's lines.  The Cappadocians
called rue 'moly'; what language, he asks, was spoken by the
Cappadocians?  Prof. Sayce (who knows so many tongues) says that 'we know
next to nothing of the language of the Cappadocians, or of the Moschi who
lived in the same locality.'  But where Prof. Sayce is, the Hittites, if
we may say so respectfully, are not very far off.  In this case he thinks
the Moschi (though he admits we know next to nothing about it) 'seem to
have spoken a language allied to that of the Cappadocians and Hittites.'
That is to say, it is not impossible that the language of the Moschi,
about which next to nothing is known, may have been allied to that of the
Cappadocians, about which we know next to nothing.  All that we do know
in this case is, that four hundred years after Christ the dwellers in
Cappadocia employed a word 'moly,' which had been Greek for at least
twelve hundred years.  But Mr. Brown goes on to quote that one of the
languages of which we know next to nothing, Hittite, was 'probably allied
to Proto-Armenian, and perhaps Lykian, and was above all not Semitic.'  In
any case 'the cuneiform mode of writing was used in Cappadocia at an
early period.'  As even Professor Sayce declines to give more than a
tentative reading of a Cappadocian cuneiform inscription, it seems highly
rash to seek in this direction for an interpretation of a Homeric word
'moly,' used in Cappadocia very many centuries after the tablets were
scratched.  But, on the evidence of the Babylonian character of the
cuneiform writing on Cappadocian tablets, Mr. Brown establishes a
connection between the people of Accadia (who probably introduced the
cuneiform style) and the people of Cappadocia.  The connection amounts to
this.  Twelve hundred years after Homer, the inhabitants of Cappadocia
are said to have called rue 'moly.'  At some unknown period, the
Accadians appear to have influenced the art of writing in Cappadocia.
Apparently Mr. Brown thinks it not too rash to infer that the Cappadocian
use of the word 'moly' is not derived from the Greeks, but from the
Accadians.  Now in Accadian, according to Mr. Brown, mul means 'star.'
'Hence ulu or mulu = [Greek], the mysterious Homerik counter-charm to the
charms of Kirke' (p. 60).  Mr. Brown's theory, therefore, is that moly
originally meant 'star.'  Circe is the moon, Odysseus is the sun, and
'what _watches over_ the solar hero at night when exposed to the hostile
lunar power, but the stars?' especially the dog-star.

The truth is, that Homer's moly, whatever plant he meant by the name, is
only one of the magical herbs in which most peoples believe or have
believed.  Like the Scottish rowan, or like St. John's wort, it is potent
against evil influences.  People have their own simple reasons for
believing in these plants, and have not needed to bring down their
humble, early botany from the clouds and stars.  We have to imagine, on
the other hand (if we follow Mr. Brown), that in some unknown past the
Cappadocians turned the Accadian word for a star into a local name of a
plant, that this word reached Homer, that the supposed old Accadian myth
of the star which watches over the solar hero retained its vitality in
Greek, and leaving the star clung to the herb, that Homer used an 'Akkado-
Kappadokian' myth, and that, many ages after, the Accadian star-name in
its perverted sense of 'rue' survived in Cappadocia.  This structure of
argument is based on tablets which even Prof. Sayce cannot read, and on
possibilities about the alliances of tongues concerning which we 'know
next to nothing.'  A method which leaves on one side the common, natural,
widely-diffused beliefs about the magic virtue of herbs (beliefs which we
have seen at work in Kensington and in Central Africa), to hunt for moly
among stars and undeciphered Kappadokian inscriptions, seems a dubious
method.  We have examined it at full length because it is a specimen of
an erudite, but, as we think, a mistaken way in folklore.  M. Halevy's
warnings against the shifting mythical theories based on sciences so new
as the lore of Assyria and 'Akkadia' are by no means superfluous.
'Akkadian' is rapidly become as ready a key to all locks as 'Aryan' was a
few years ago.


It is difficult to account for the fact that the scientific curiosity
which is just now so busy in examining all the monuments of the primitive
condition of our race, should, in England at least, have almost totally
neglected to popularise the 'Kalevala,' or national poem of the Finns.
Besides its fresh and simple beauty of style, its worth as a storehouse
of every kind of primitive folklore, being as it is the production of an
Urvolk, a nation that has undergone no violent revolution in language or
institutions--the 'Kalevala' has the peculiar interest of occupying a
position between the two kinds of primitive poetry, the ballad and the
epic.  So much difficulty has been introduced into the study of the first
developments of song, by confusing these distinct sorts of composition
under the name of popular poetry, that it may be well, in writing of a
poem which occupies a middle place between epic and ballad, to define
what we mean by each.

The author of our old English 'Art of Poesie' begins his work with a
statement which may serve as a text: 'Poesie,' says Puttenham, writing in
1589, 'is more ancient than the artificiall of the Greeks and Latines,
coming by instinct of nature, and used by the savage and uncivill, who
were before all science and civilitie.  This is proved by certificate of
merchants and travellers, who by late navigations have surveyed the whole
world, and discovered large countries, and strange people, wild and
savage, affirming that the American, the Perusine, and the very
canniball, do sing, and also say, their highest and holiest matters in
certain riming versicles.'  Puttenham is here referring to that instinct
of primitive men, which compels them in all moments of high-wrought
feeling, and on all solemn occasions, to give utterance to a kind of
chant. {157a}  Such a chant is the song of Lamech, when he had 'slain a
man to his wounding.'  So in the Norse sagas, Grettir and Gunnar _sing_
when they have anything particular to say; and so in the Marchen--the
primitive fairy tales of all nations--scraps of verse are introduced
where emphasis is wanted.  This craving for passionate expression takes a
more formal shape in the lays which, among all primitive peoples, as
among the modern Greeks to-day, {157b} are sung at betrothals, funerals,
and departures for distant lands.  These songs have been collected in
Scotland by Scott and Motherwell; their Danish counterparts have been
translated by Mr. Prior.  In Greece, M. Fauriel and Dr. Ulrichs; in
Provence, Damase Arbaud; in Italy, M. Nigra; in Servia, Talvj; in France,
Gerard de Nerval--have done for their separate countries what Scott did
for the Border.  Professor Child, of Harvard, is publishing a beautiful
critical collection of English Volkslieder, with all known variants from
every country.

A comparison of the collections proves that among all European lands the
primitive 'versicles' of the people are identical in tone, form, and
incident.  It is this kind of early expression of a people's
life--careless, abrupt, brief, as was necessitated by the fact that they
were sung to the accompaniment of the dance--that we call ballads.  These
are distinctly, and in every sense, popular poems, and nothing can cause
greater confusion than to apply the same title, 'popular,' to early epic
poetry.  Ballads are short; a long ballad, as Mr. Matthew Arnold has
said, creeps and halts.  A true epic, on the other hand, is long, and its
tone is grand, noble, and sustained.  Ballads are not artistic; while the
form of the epic, whether we take the hexameter or the rougher laisse of
the French chansons de geste, is full of conscious and admirable art.
Lastly, popular ballads deal with vague characters, acting and living in
vague places; while the characters of an epic are heroes of definite
station, _whose descendants are still in the land_, whose home is a
recognisable place, Ithaca, or Argos.  Now, though these two kinds of
early poetry--the ballad, the song of the people; the epic, the song of
the chiefs of the people, of the ruling race--are distinct in kind, it
does not follow that they have no connection, that the nobler may not
have been developed out of the materials of the lower form of expression.
And the value of the 'Kalevala' is partly this, that it combines the
continuity and unison of the epic with the simplicity and popularity of
the ballad, and so forms a kind of link in the history of the development
of poetry.  This may become clearer as we proceed to explain the literary
history of the Finnish national poem.

Sixty years ago, it may be said, no one was aware that Finland possessed
a national poem at all.  Her people--who claim affinity with the Magyars
of Hungary, but are possibly a back-wave of an earlier tide of
population--had remained untouched by foreign influences since their
conquest by Sweden, and their somewhat lax and wholesale conversion to
Christianity: events which took place gradually between the middle of the
twelfth and the end of the thirteenth centuries.  Under the rule of
Sweden, the Finns were left to their quiet life and undisturbed
imaginings, among the forests and lakes of the region which they aptly
called Pohja, 'the end of things'; while their educated classes took no
very keen interest in the native poetry and mythology of their race.  At
length the annexation of Finland by Russia, in 1809, awakened national
feeling, and stimulated research into the songs and customs which were
the heirlooms of the people.

It was the policy of Russia to encourage, rather than to check, this
return on a distant past; and from the north of Norway to the slopes of
the Altai, ardent explorers sought out the fragments of unwritten early
poetry.  These runes, or Runots, were chiefly sung by old men called
Runoias, to beguile the weariness of the long dark winters.  The custom
was for two champions to engage in a contest of memory, clasping each
other's hands, and reciting in turn till he whose memory first gave in
slackened his hold.  The 'Kalevala' contains an instance of this
practice, where it is said that no one was so hardy as to clasp hands
with Wainamoinen, who is at once the Orpheus and the Prometheus of
Finnish mythology.  These Runoias, or rhapsodists, complain, of course,
of the degeneracy of human memory; they notice how any foreign influence,
in religion or politics, is destructive to the native songs of a race.
{160}  'As for the lays of old time, a thousand have been scattered to
the wind, a thousand buried in the snow; . . . as for those which the
Munks (the Teutonic knights) swept away, and the prayer of the priest
overwhelmed, a thousand tongues were not able to recount them.'  In spite
of the losses thus caused, and in spite of the suspicious character of
the Finns, which often made the task of collection a dangerous one,
enough materials remained to furnish Dr. Lonnrot, the most noted
explorer, with thirty-five Runots, or cantos.  These were published in
1835, but later research produced the fifteen cantos which make up the
symmetrical fifty of the 'Kalevala.'  In the task of arranging and
uniting these, Dr. Lonnrot played the part traditionally ascribed to the
commission of Pisistratus in relation to the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey.'  Dr.
Lonnrot is said to have handled with singular fidelity the materials
which now come before us as one poem, not absolutely without a certain
unity and continuous thread of narrative.  It is this unity (so faint
compared with that of the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey') which gives the
'Kalevala' a claim to the title of epic.

It cannot be doubted that, at whatever period the Homeric poems took
shape in Greece, they were believed to record the feats of the supposed
ancestors of existing families.  Thus, for example, Pisistratus, as a
descendant of the Nelidae, had an interest in securing certain parts, at
least, of the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey' from oblivion.  The same family
pride embellished and preserved the epic poetry of early France.  There
were in France but three heroic houses, or gestes; and three
corresponding cycles of epopees.  Now, in the 'Kalevala,' there is no
trace of the influence of family feeling; it was no one's peculiar care
and pride to watch over the records of the fame of this or that hero.  The
poem begins with a cosmogony as wild as any Indian dream of creation; and
the human characters who move in the story are shadowy inhabitants of no
very definite lands, whom no family claim as their forefathers.  The very
want of this idea of family and aristocratic pride gives the 'Kalevala' a
unique place among epics.  It is emphatically an epic of the people, of
that class whose life contains no element of progress, no break in
continuity; which from age to age preserves, in solitude and close
communion with nature, the earliest beliefs of grey antiquity.  The Greek
epic, on the other hand, has, as M. Preller {161} points out, 'nothing to
do with natural man, but with an ideal world of heroes, with sons of the
gods, with consecrated kings, heroes, elders, _a kind of specific race of
men_.  The people exist only as subsidiary to the great houses, as a mere
background against which stand out the shining figures of heroes; as a
race of beings fresh and rough from the hands of nature, with whom, and
with whose concerns, the great houses and their bards have little
concern.'  This feeling--so universal in Greece, and in the feudal
countries of mediaeval Europe, that there are two kinds of men, the
golden and the brazen race, as Plato would have called them--is absent,
with all its results, in the 'Kalevala.'

Among the Finns we find no trace of an aristocracy; there is scarcely a
mention of kings, or priests; the heroes of the poem are really popular
heroes, fishers, smiths, husbandmen, 'medicine-men,' or wizards;
exaggerated shadows of the people, pursuing on a heroic scale, not war,
but the common daily business of primitive and peaceful men.  In
recording their adventures, the 'Kalevala,' like the shield of Achilles,
reflects all the life of a race, the feasts, the funerals, the rites of
seed-time and harvest of marriage and death, the hymn, and the magical
incantation.  Were this all, the epic would only have the value of an
exhaustive collection of the popular ballads which, as we have seen, are
a poetical record of the intenser moments in the existence of
unsophisticated tribes.  But the 'Kalevala' is distinguished from such a
collection, by presenting the ballads as they are produced by the events
of a continuous narrative, and thus it takes a distinct place between the
aristocratic epics of Greece, or of the Franks, and the scattered songs
which have been collected in Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and

Besides the interest of its unique position as a popular epic, the
'Kalevala' is very valuable, both for its literary beauties and for the
confused mass of folklore which it contains.

Here old cosmogonies, attempts of man to represent to himself the
beginning of things, are mingled with the same wild imaginings as are
found everywhere in the shape of fairy-tales.  We are hurried from an
account of the mystic egg of creation, to a hymn like that of the
Ambarval Brothers, to a strangely familiar scrap of a nursery story, to
an incident which we remember as occurring in almost identical words in a
Scotch ballad.  We are among a people which endows everything with human
characters and life, which is in familiar relations with birds, and
beasts, and even with rocks and plants.  Ravens and wolves and fishes of
the sea, sun, moon, and stars, are kindly or churlish; drops of blood
find speech, man and maid change to snake or swan and resume their forms,
ships have magic powers, like the ships of the Phaeacians.

Then there is the oddest confusion of every stage of religious
development: we find a supreme God, delighting in righteousness; Ukko,
the lord of the vault of air, who stands apart from men, and sends his
son, Wainamoinen, to be their teacher in music and agriculture.

Across this faith comes a religion of petrified abstractions like those
of the Roman Pantheon.  There are gods of colour, a goddess of weaving, a
goddess of man's blood, besides elemental spirits of woods and waters,
and the manes of the dead.  Meanwhile, the working faith of the people is
the belief in magic--generally a sign of the lower culture.  It is
supposed that the knowledge of certain magic words gives power over the
elemental bodies which obey them; it is held that the will of a distant
sorcerer can cross the lakes and plains like the breath of a fantastic
frost, with power to change an enemy to ice or stone.  Traces remain of
the worship of animals: there is a hymn to the bear; a dance like the
bear-dance of the American Indians; and another hymn tells of the birth
and power of the serpent.  Across all, and closing all, comes a hostile
account of the origin of Christianity--the end of joy and music.

How primitive was the condition of the authors of this medley of beliefs
is best proved by the survival of the custom called exogamy. {164a}  This
custom, which is not peculiar to the Finns, but is probably a universal
note of early society, prohibits marriage between members of the same
tribe.  Consequently, the main action, such as it is, of the 'Kalevala'
turns on the efforts made by the men of Kaleva to obtain brides from the
hostile tribe of Pohja. {164b}

Further proof of ancient origin is to be found in what is the great
literary beauty of the poem--its pure spontaneity and simplicity.  It is
the production of an intensely imaginative race, to which song came as
the most natural expression of joy and sorrow, terror or triumph--a class
which lay near to nature's secret, and was not out of sympathy with the
wild kin of woods and waters.

   'These songs,' says the prelude, 'were found by the wayside, and
   gathered in the depths of the copses; blown from the branches of the
   forest, and culled among the plumes of the pine-trees.  These lays
   came to me as I followed the flocks, in a land of meadows honey-sweet,
   and of golden hills. . . .  The cold has spoken to me, and the rain
   has told me her runes; the winds of heaven, the waves of the sea, have
   spoken and sung to me; the wild birds have taught me, the music of
   many waters has been my master.'

The metre in which the epic is chanted resembles, to an English ear, that
of Mr. Longfellow's 'Hiawatha'--there is assonance rather than rhyme; and
a very musical effect is produced by the liquid character of the
language, and by the frequent alliterations.

This rough outline of the main characteristics of the 'Kalevala' we shall
now try to fill up with an abstract of its contents.  The poem is longer
than the 'Iliad,' and much of interest must necessarily be omitted; but
it is only through such an abstract that any idea can be given of the
sort of unity which does prevail amid the most utter discrepancy.

In the first place, what is to be understood by the word 'Kalevala'?  The
affix la signifies 'abode.'  Thus, 'Tuonela' is 'the abode of Tuoni,' the
god of the lower world; and as 'kaleva' means 'heroic,' 'magnificent,'
'Kalevala' is 'The Home of Heroes.'  The poem is the record of the
adventures of the people of Kalevala--of their strife with the men of
Pohjola, the place of the world's end.  We may fancy two old Runoias, or
singers, clasping hands on one of the first nights of the Finnish winter,
and beginning (what probably has never been accomplished) the attempt to
work through the 'Kalevala' before the return of summer.  They commence
ab ovo, or, rather, before the egg.  First is chanted the birth of
Wainamoinen, the benefactor and teacher of men.  He is the son of
Luonnotar, the daughter of Nature, who answers to the first woman of the
Iroquois cosmogony.  Beneath the breath and touch of wind and tide, she
conceived a child; but nine ages of man passed before his birth, while
the mother floated on 'the formless and the multiform waters.'  Then
Ukko, the supreme God, sent an eagle, which laid her eggs in the maiden's
bosom, and from these eggs grew earth and sky, sun and moon, star and
cloud.  Then was Wainamoinen born on the waters, and reached a barren
land, and gazed on the new heavens and the new earth.  There he sowed the
grain that is the bread of man, chanting the hymn used at seed-time,
calling on the mother earth to make the green herb spring, and on Ukko to
send clouds and rain.  So the corn sprang, and the golden cuckoo--which
in Finland plays the part of the popinjay in Scotch ballads, or of the
three golden birds in Greek folksongs--came with his congratulations.  In
regard to the epithet 'golden,' it may be observed that gold and silver,
in the Finnish epic, are lavished on the commonest objects of daily life.

This is a universal note of primitive poetry, and is not a peculiar
Finnish idiom, as M. Leouzon le Duc supposes; nor, as Mr. Tozer seems to
think, in his account of Romaic ballads, a trace of Oriental influence
among the modern Greeks.  It is common to all the ballads of Europe, as
M. Ampere has pointed out, and may be observed in the 'Chanson de
Roland,' and in Homer.

While the corn ripened, Wainamoinen rested from his labours, and took the
task of Orpheus.  'He sang,' says the 'Kalevala,' of the origin of
things, of the mysteries hidden from babes, that none may attain to in
this sad life, in the hours of these perishable days.  The fame of the
Runoia's singing excited jealousy in the breast of one of the men around
him, of whose origin the 'Kalevala' gives no account.  This man,
Joukahainen, provoked him to a trial of song, boasting, like Empedocles,
or like one of the old Celtic bards, that he had been all things.  'When
the earth was made I was there; when space was unrolled I launched the
sun on his way.'  Then was Wainamoinen wroth, and by the force of his
enchantment he rooted Joukahainen to the ground, and suffered him not to
go free without promising him the hand of his sister Aino.  The mother
was delighted; but the girl wept that she must now cover her long locks,
her curls, her glory, and be the wife of 'the old imperturbable
Wainamoinen.'  It is in vain that her mother offers her dainty food and
rich dresses; she flees from home, and wanders till she meets three
maidens bathing, and joins them, and is drowned, singing a sad song: 'Ah,
never may my sister come to bathe in the sea-water, for the drops of the
sea are the drops of my blood.'  This wild idea occurs in the Romaic
ballad, [Greek], where a drop of blood on the lips of the drowned girl
tinges all the waters of the world.  To return to the fate of Aino.  A
swift hare runs (as in the Zulu legend of the Origin of Death) with the
tale of sorrow to the maiden's mother, and from the mother's tears flow
rivers of water, and therein are isles with golden hills where golden
birds make melody.  As for the old, the imperturbable Runoia, he loses
his claim to the latter title, he is filled with sorrow, and searches
through all the elements for his lost bride.  At length he catches a fish
which is unknown to him, who, like Atlas, 'knew the depths of all the
seas.'  The strange fish slips from his hands, a 'tress of hair, of
drowned maiden's hair,' floats for a moment on the foam, and too late he
recognises that 'there was never salmon yet that shone so fair, above the
nets at sea.'  His lost bride has been within his reach, and now is
doubly lost to him.  Suddenly the waves are cloven asunder, and the
mother of Nature and of Wainamoinen appears, to comfort her son, like
Thetis from the deep.  She bids him go and seek, in the land of Pohjola,
a bride alien to his race.  After many a wild adventure, Wainamoinen
reaches Pohjola and is kindly entreated by Loutri, the mother of the
maiden of the land.  But he grows homesick, and complains, almost in
Dante's words, of the bitter bread of exile.  Loutri will only grant him
her daughter's hand on condition that he gives her a sampo.  A sampo is a
mysterious engine that grinds meal, salt, and money.  In fact, it is the
mill in the well-known fairy tale, 'Why the Sea is Salt.' {169}

Wainamoinen cannot fashion this mill himself, he must seek aid at home
from Ilmarinen, the smith who forged 'the iron vault of hollow heaven.'
As the hero returns to Kalevala, he meets the Lady of the Rainbow, seated
on the arch of the sky, weaving the golden thread.  She promises to be
his, if he will accomplish certain tasks, and in the course of those he
wounds himself with an axe.  The wound can only be healed by one who
knows the mystic words that hold the secret of the birth of iron.  The
legend of this evil birth, how iron grew from the milk of a maiden, and
was forged by the primeval smith, Ilmarinen, to be the bane of warlike
men, is communicated by Wainamoinen to an old magician.  The wizard then
solemnly curses the iron, _as a living thing_, and invokes the aid of the
supreme God Ukko, thus bringing together in one prayer the extremes of
early religion.  Then the hero is healed, and gives thanks to the
Creator, 'in whose hands is the end of a matter.'

Returning to Kalevala, Wainamoinen sends Ilmarinen to Pohjola to make the
sampo, 'a mill for corn one day, for salt the next, for money the next.'
The fatal treasure is concealed by Loutri, and is obviously to play the
part of the fairy hoard in the 'Nibelungen Lied.'

With the eleventh canto a new hero, Ahti, or Lemminkainen, and a new
cycle of adventures, is abruptly introduced.  Lemminkainen is a
profligate wanderer, with as many loves as Hercules.  The fact that he is
regarded as a form of the sea-god makes it strange that his most noted
achievement, the seduction of the whole female population of his island,
should correspond with a like feat of Krishna's.  'Sixteen thousand and
one hundred,' says the Vishnu Purana, 'was the number of the maidens; and
into so many forms did the son of Madhu multiply himself, so that every
one of the damsels thought that he had wedded her in her single person.'
Krishna is the sun, of course, and the maidens are the dew-drops; {170}
it is to be hoped that Lemminkainen's connection with sea-water may save
him from the solar hypothesis.  His first regular marriage is unhappy,
and he is slain in trying to capture a bride from the people of Pohjola.
The black waters of the river of forgetfulness sweep him away, and his
comb, which he left with his mother, bursts out bleeding--a frequent
incident in Russian and other fairy tales.  In many household tales, the
hero, before setting out on a journey, erects a stick which will fall
down when he is in distress, or death.  The natives of Australia use this
form of divination in actual practice, tying round the stick some of the
hair of the person whose fate is to be ascertained.  Then, like Demeter
seeking Persephone, the mother questions all the beings of the world, and
their answers show a wonderful poetic sympathy with the silent life of
Nature.  'The moon said, I have sorrows enough of my own, without
thinking of thy child.  My lot is hard, my days are evil.  I am born to
wander companionless in the night, to shine in the season of frost, to
watch through the endless winter, to fade when summer comes as king.'  The
sun is kinder, and reveals the place of the hero's body.  The mother
collects the scattered limbs, the birds bring healing balm from the
heights of heaven, and after a hymn to the goddess of man's blood,
Lemminkainen is made sound and well, as the scattered 'fragments of no
more a man' were united by the spell of Medea, like those of Osiris by
Isis, or of the fair countess by the demon blacksmith in the Russian
Marchen, or of the Carib hero mentioned by Mr. McLennan, {171} or of the
ox in the South African household tale.

With the sixteenth canto we return to Wainamoinen, who, like all epic
heroes, visits the place of the dead, Tuonela.  The maidens who play the
part of Charon are with difficulty induced to ferry over a man bearing no
mark of death by fire or sword or water.  Once among the dead,
Wainamoinen refuses--being wiser than Psyche or Persephone--to taste of
drink.  This 'taboo' is found in Japanese, Melanesian, and Red Indian
accounts of the homes of the dead.  Thus the hero is able to return and
behold the stars.  Arrived in the upper world, he warns men to 'beware of
perverting innocence, of leading astray the pure of heart; they that do
these things shall be punished eternally in the depths of Tuoni.  There
is a place prepared for evil-doers, a bed of stones burning, rocks of
fire, worms and serpents.'  This speech throws but little light on the
question of how far a doctrine of rewards and punishments enters into
primitive ideas of a future state.  The 'Kalevala,' as we possess it, is
necessarily, though faintly, tinged with Christianity; and the peculiar
vices which are here threatened with punishment are not those which would
have been most likely to occur to the early heathen singers of this

Wainamoinen and Ilmarinen now go together to Pohjola, but the fickle
maiden of the land prefers the young forger of the sampo to his elder and
imperturbable companion.  Like a northern Medea, or like the Master-maid
in Dr. Dasent's 'Tales from the Norse,' or like the hero of the Algonquin
tale and the Samoan ballad, she aids her alien lover to accomplish the
tasks assigned to him.  He ploughs with a plough of gold the adder-close,
or field of serpents; he bridles the wolf and the bear of the lower
world, and catches the pike that swim in the waters of forgetfulness.
After this, the parents cannot refuse their consent, the wedding-feast is
prepared, and all the world, except the seduisant Lemminkainen, is bidden
to the banquet.  The narrative now brings in the ballads that are sung at
a Finnish marriage.

First, the son-in-law enters the house of the parents of the bride,
saying, 'Peace abide with you in this illustrious hall.'  The mother
answers, 'Peace be with you even in this lowly hut.'  Then Wainamoinen
began to sing, and no man was so hardy as to clasp hands and contend with
him in song.  Next follow the songs of farewell, the mother telling the
daughter of what she will have to endure in a strange home: 'Thy life was
soft and delicate in thy father's house.  Milk and butter were ready to
thy hand; thou wert as a flower of the field, as a strawberry of the
wood; all care was left to the pines of the forest, all wailing to the
wind in the woods of barren lands.  But now thou goest to another home,
to an alien mother, to doors that grate strangely on their hinges.'  'My
thoughts,' the maiden replies, 'are as a dark night of autumn, as a
cloudy day of winter; my heart is sadder than the autumn night, more
weary than the winter day.'  The maid and the bridegroom are then
lyrically instructed in their duties: the girl is to be long-suffering,
the husband to try five years' gentle treatment before he cuts a willow
wand for his wife's correction.  The bridal party sets out for home, a
new feast is spread, and the bridegroom congratulated on the courage he
must have shown in stealing a girl from a hostile tribe.

While all is merry, the mischievous Lemminkainen sets out, an unbidden
guest, for Pohjola.  On his way he encounters a serpent, which he slays
by the song of serpent-charming.  In this 'mystic chain of verse' the
serpent is not addressed as the gentle reptile, god of southern peoples,
but is spoken of with all hatred and loathing: 'Black creeping thing of
the low lands, monster flecked with the colours of death, thou that hast
on thy skin the stain of the sterile soil, get thee forth from the path
of a hero.'  After slaying the serpent, Lemminkainen reaches Pohjola,
kills one of his hosts, and fixes his head on one of a thousand stakes
for human skulls that stood about the house, as they might round the hut
of a Dyak in Borneo.  He then flees to the isle of Saari, whence he is
driven for his heroic profligacy, and by the hatred of the only girl whom
he has _not_ wronged.  This is a very pretty touch of human nature.

He now meditates a new incursion into Pohjola.  The mother of Pohjola (it
is just worth noticing that the leadership assumed by this woman points
to a state of society when the family was scarcely formed) calls to her
aid 'her child the Frost;' but the frost is put to shame by a hymn of the
invader's, a song against the Cold: 'The serpent was his foster-mother,
the serpent with her barren breasts; the wind of the north rocked his
cradle, and the ice-wind sang him to sleep, in the midst of the wild
marsh-land, where the wells of the waters begin.'  It is a curious
instance of the animism, the vivid power of personifying all the beings
and forces of nature, which marks the 'Kalevala,' that the Cold speaks to
Lemminkainen in human voice, and seeks a reconciliation.

At this part of the epic there is an obvious lacuna.  The story goes to
Kullervo, a luckless man, who serves as shepherd to Ilmarinen.  Thinking
himself ill-treated by the heroic smith's wife, the shepherd changes his
flock into bears and wolves, which devour their mistress.  Then he
returns to his own home, where he learns that his sister has been lost
for many days, and is believed to be dead.  Travelling in search of her
he meets a girl, loves her, and all unwittingly commits an inexpiable
offence.  'Then,' says the 'Kalevala,' 'came up the new dawn, and the
maiden spoke, saying, "What is thy race, bold young man, and who is thy
father?"  Kullervo said, "I am the wretched son of Kalerva; but tell me,
what is thy race, and who is thy father?"  Then said the maiden, "I am
the wretched daughter of Kalerva.  Ah! would God that I had died, then
might I have grown with the green grass, and blossomed with the flowers,
and never known this sorrow."  With this she sprang into the midst of the
foaming waves, and found peace in Tuoni, and rest in the waters of
forgetfulness.'  Then there was no word for Kullervo, but the bitter moan
of the brother in the terrible Scotch ballad of the Bonny Hind, and no
rest but in death by his own sword, where grass grows never on his
sister's tomb.

The epic now draws to a close.  Ilmarinen seeks a new wife in Pohja, and
endeavours with Wainamoinen's help to recover the mystic sampo.  On the
voyage, the Runoia makes a harp out of the bones of a monstrous fish, so
strange a harp that none may play it but himself.  When he played, all
four-footed things came about him, and the white birds dropped down 'like
a storm of snow.'  The maidens of the sun and the moon paused in their
weaving, and the golden thread fell from their hands.  The Ancient One of
the sea-water listened, and the nymphs of the wells forgot to comb their
loose locks with the golden combs.  All men and maidens and little
children wept, amid the silent joy of nature; nay, the great harper wept,
and _of his tears were pearls made_.

In the war with Pohjola the heroes were victorious, but the sampo was
broken in the fight, and lost in the sea, and that, perhaps, is 'why the
sea is salt.'  Fragments were collected, however, and Loutri, furious at
the success of the heroes of Kalevala, sent against them a bear,
destructive as the boar of Calydon.  But Wainamoinen despatched the
monster, and the body was brought home with the bear-dance, and the hymn
of the bear.  'Oh, Otso,' cry the singers, 'be not angry that we come
near thee.  The bear, the honey-footed bear, was born in lands between
sun and moon, and he died not by men's hands, but of his own will.'  The
Finnish savants are probably right, who find here a trace of the beast-
worship which in many lands has placed the bear among the number of the
stars.  Propitiation of the bear is practised by Red Indians, by the
Ainos of Japan, and (in the case of the 'native bear') by Australians.
The Red Indians have a myth to prove that the bear is immortal, does not
die, but, after his apparent death, rises again in another body.  There
is no trace, however, that the Finns claimed, like the Danes, descent
from the bear.  The Lapps, a people of confused belief, worshipped him
along with Thor, Christ, the sun, and the serpent. {176}

But another cult, an alien creed, is approaching Kalevala.  There is no
part of the epic more strange than the closing canto, which tells in the
wildest language, and through the most exaggerated forms of savage
imagination, the tale of the introduction of Christianity.  Marjatta was
a maiden, 'as pure as the dew is, as holy as stars are that live without
stain.'  As she fed her flocks, and listened to the singing of the golden
cuckoo, a berry fell into her bosom.  After many days she bore a child,
and the people despised and rejected her, and she was thrust forth, and
her babe was born in a stable, and cradled in the manger.  Who should
baptize the babe?  The god of the wilderness refused, and Wainamoinen
would have had the young child slain.  Then the infant rebuked the
ancient Demigod, who fled in anger to the sea, and with his magic song he
built a magic barque, and he sat therein, and took the helm in his hand.
The tide bore him out to sea, and he lifted his voice and sang: 'Times go
by, and suns shall rise and set, and then shall men have need of me, and
shall look for the promise of my coming that I may make a new sampo, and
a new harp, and bring back sunlight and moonshine, and the joy that is
banished from the world.'  Then he crossed the waters, and gained the
limits of the sea, and the lower spaces of the sky.

Here the strange poem ends at its strangest moment, with the cry, which
must have been uttered so often, but is heard here alone, of a people
reluctantly deserting the gods that it has fashioned in its own likeness,
for a faith that has not sprung from its needs or fears.  Yet it
cherishes the hope that this tyranny shall pass over: 'they are gods, and
behold they shall die, and the waves be upon them at last.'

As the 'Kalevala,' and as all relics of folklore, all Marchen and ballads
prove, the lower mythology--the elemental beliefs of the people--do
survive beneath a thin covering of Christian conformity.  There are, in
fact, in religion, as in society, two worlds, of which the one does not
know how the other lives.  The class whose literature we inherit, under
whose institutions we live, at whose shrines we worship, has changed as
outworn raiment its manners, its gods, its laws; has looked before and
after, has hoped and forgotten, has advanced from the wilder and grosser
to the purest faith.  Beneath the progressive class, and beneath the
waves of this troublesome world, there exists an order whose primitive
form of human life has been far less changeful, a class which has put on
a mere semblance of new faiths, while half-consciously retaining the
remains of immemorial cults.

Obviously, as M. Fauriel has pointed out in the case of the modern
Greeks, the life of such folk contains no element of progress, admits no
break in continuity.  Conquering armies pass and leave them still reaping
the harvest of field and river; religions appear, and they are baptized
by thousands, but the lower beliefs and dreads that the progressive class
has outgrown remain unchanged.

Thus, to take the instance of modern Greece, the high gods of the divine
race of Achilles and Agamemnon are forgotten, but the descendants of the
Penestae, the villeins of Thessaly, still dread the beings of the popular
creed, the Nereids, the Cyclopes, and the Lamia. {178}

The last lesson we would attempt to gather from the 'Kalevala' is this:
that a comparison of the _thoroughly popular_ beliefs of all countries,
the beliefs cherished by the non-literary classes whose ballads and fairy
tales have only recently been collected, would probably reveal a general
identity, concealed by diversity of name, among the 'lesser people of the
skies,' the elves, fairies, Cyclopes, giants, nereids, brownies, lamiae.
It could then be shown that some of these spirits survive among the lower
beings of the mythology of what the Germans call a cultur-volk like the
Greeks or Romans.  It could also be proved that much of the narrative
element in the classic epics is to be found in a popular or childish form
in primitive fairy tales.  The question would then come to be, Have the
higher mythologies been developed, by artistic poets, out of the
materials of a race which remained comparatively untouched by culture; or
are the lower spirits, and the more simple and puerile forms of myth,
degradations of the inventions of a cultivated class?


There is something remarkable, and not flattering to human sagacity, in
the periodical resurrection of superstitions.  Houses, for example, go on
being 'haunted' in country districts, and no educated man notices the
circumstance.  Then comes a case like that of the Drummer of Tedworth, or
the Cock Lane Ghost, and society is deeply moved, philosophers plunge
into controversy, and he who grubs among the dusty tracts of the past
finds a world of fugitive literature on forgotten bogies.  Chairs move
untouched by human hands, and tables walk about in lonely castles of
Savoy, and no one marks them, till a day comes when the furniture of some
American cottage is similarly afflicted, and then a shoddy new religion
is based on the phenomenon.  The latest revival among old beliefs is
faith in the divining rod.  'Our liberal shepherds give it a _shorter_
name,' and so do our conservative peasants, calling the 'rod of Jacob'
the 'twig.'  To 'work the twig' is rural English for the craft of
Dousterswivel in the 'Antiquary,' and perhaps from this comes our slang
expression to 'twig,' or divine, the hidden meaning of another.  Recent
correspondence in the newspapers has proved that, whatever may be the
truth about the 'twig,' belief in its powers is still very prevalent.
Respectable people are not ashamed to bear signed witness of its
miraculous powers of detecting springs of water and secret mines.  It is
habitually used by the miners in the Mendips, as Mr. Woodward found ten
years ago; and forked hazel divining rods from the Mendips are a
recognised part of ethnological collections.  There are two ways of
investigating the facts or fancies about the rod.  One is to examine it
in its actual operation--a task of considerable labour, which will
doubtless be undertaken by the Society for Psychical Research; the other,
and easier, way is to study the appearances of the divining wand in
history, and that is what we propose to do in this article.

When a superstition or belief is widely spread in Europe, as the faith in
the divining rod certainly is (in Germany rods are hidden under babies'
clothes when they are baptized), we naturally expect to find traces of it
in ancient times and among savages all over the modern world.  We have
already examined, in 'The Bull-Roarer,' a very similar example.  We saw
that there is a magical instrument--a small fish-shaped piece of thin
flat wood tied to a thong--which, when whirled in the air, produces a
strange noise, a compound of roar and buzz.  This instrument is sacred
among the natives of Australia, where it is used to call together the
men, and to frighten away the women from the religious mysteries of the
males.  The same instrument is employed for similar purposes in New
Mexico, and in South Africa and New Zealand--parts of the world very
widely distant from each other, and inhabited by very diverse races.  It
has also been lately discovered that the Greeks used this toy, which they
called [Greek], in the Mysteries of Dionysus, and possibly it may be
identical with the mystica vannus Iacchi (Virgil, 'Georgics,' i. 166).
The conclusion drawn by the ethnologist is that this object, called
turndun by the Australians, is a very early savage invention, probably
discovered and applied to religious purposes in various separate centres,
and retained from the age of savagery in the mystic rites of Greeks and
perhaps of Romans.  Well, do we find anything analogous in the case of
the divining rod?

Future researches may increase our knowledge, but at present little or
nothing is known of the divining rod in classical ages, and not very much
(though that little is significant) among uncivilised races.  It is true
that in all countries rods or wands, the Latin virga, have a magical
power.  Virgil obtained his mediaeval repute as a wizard because his name
was erroneously connected with virgula, the magic wand.  But we do not
actually know that the ancient wand of the enchantress Circe, in Homer,
or the wand of Hermes, was used, like the divining rod, to indicate the
whereabouts of hidden wealth or water.  In the Homeric hymn to Hermes
(line 529), Apollo thus describes the caduceus, or wand of Hermes:
'Thereafter will I give thee a lovely wand of wealth and riches, a golden
wand with three leaves, which shall keep thee ever unharmed.'  In later
art this wand, or caduceus, is usually entwined with serpents; but on one
vase, at least, the wand of Hermes is simply the forked twig of our
rustic miners and water-finders.  The same form is found on an engraved
Etruscan mirror. {183}

Now, was a wand of this form used in classical times to discover hidden
objects of value?  That wands were used by Scythians and Germans in
various methods of casting lots is certain; but that is not the same
thing as the working of the twig.  Cicero speaks of a fabled wand by
which wealth can be procured; but he says nothing of the method of its
use, and possibly was only thinking of the rod of Hermes, as described in
the Homeric hymn already quoted.  There was a Roman play, by Varro,
called 'Virgula Divina'; but it is lost, and throws no light on the
subject.  A passage usually quoted from Seneca has no more to do with the
divining rod than with the telephone.  Pliny is a writer extremely fond
of marvels; yet when he describes the various modes of finding wells of
water, he says nothing about the divining wand.  The isolated texts from
Scripture which are usually referred to clearly indicate wands of a
different sort, if we except Hosea iv. 12, the passage used as motto by
the author of 'Lettres qui decouvrent l'illusion des Philosophes sur la
Baguette' (1696).  This text is translated in our Bible, 'My people ask
counsel at their stocks, _and their staff declareth unto them_!  Now, we
have here no reference to the search for wells and minerals, but to a
form of divination for which the modern twig has ceased to be applied.  In
rural England people use the wand to find water, but not to give advice,
or to detect thieves or murderers; but, as we shall see, the rod has been
very much used for these purposes within the last three centuries.

This brings us to the moral powers of the twig; and here we find some
assistance in our inquiry from the practices of uncivilised races.  In
1719 John Bell was travelling across Asia; he fell in with a Russian
merchant, who told him of a custom common among the Mongols.  The Russian
had lost certain pieces of cloth, which were stolen out of his tent.  The
Kutuchtu Lama ordered the proper steps to be taken to find out the thief.
'One of the Lamas took a bench with four feet, and after turning it in
several directions, at last it pointed directly to the tent where the
stolen goods were concealed.  The Lama now mounted across the bench, and
soon carried it, or, as was commonly believed, it carried him, to the
very tent, where he ordered the damask to be produced.  The demand was
directly complied with; for it is vain in such cases to offer any
excuse.' {184a}  Here we have not a wand, indeed, but a wooden object
which turned in the direction, not of water or minerals, but of human
guilt.  A better instance is given by the Rev. H. Rowley, in his account
of the Mauganja. {184b}  A thief had stolen some corn.  The medicine-man,
or sorcerer, produced two sticks, which he gave to four young men, two
holding each stick.  The medicine-man danced and sang a magical
incantation, while a zebra-tail and a rattle were shaken over the holders
of the sticks.  'After a while, the men with the sticks had spasmodic
twitchings of the arms and legs; these increased nearly to convulsions. .
. .  According to the native idea, _it was the sticks which were
possessed primarily_, and through them the men, _who could hardly hold
them_.  The sticks whirled and dragged the men round and round like mad,
through bush and thorny shrub, and over every obstacle; nothing stopped
them; their bodies were torn and bleeding.  At last they came back to the
assembly, whirled round again, and rushed down the path to fall panting
and exhausted in the hut of one of a chief's wives.  The sticks, rolling
to her very feet, denounced her as a thief.  She denied it; but the
medicine-man answered, "The spirit has declared her guilty; the spirit
never lies."'  The woman, however, was acquitted, after a proxy trial by
ordeal: a cock, used as her proxy, threw up the muavi, or ordeal-poison.

Here the points to be noted are, first, the violent movement of the
sticks, which the men could hardly hold; next, the physical agitation of
the men.  The former point is illustrated by the confession of a civil
engineer writing in the 'Times.'  This gentleman had seen the rod
successfully used for water; he was asked to try it himself, and he
determined that it should not twist in his hands 'if an ocean rolled
under his feet.'  Twist it did, however, in spite of all his efforts to
hold it, when he came above a concealed spring.  Another example is
quoted in the 'Quarterly Review,' vol. xxii. p. 374.  A narrator, in whom
the editor had 'implicit confidence,' mentions how, when a lady held the
twig just over a hidden well, 'the twig turned so quick as to snap,
breaking near her fingers.'  There seems to be no indiscretion in saying,
as the statement has often been printed before, that the lady spoken of
in the 'Quarterly Review' was Lady Milbanke, mother of the wife of Byron.
Dr. Hutton, the geologist, is quoted as a witness of her success in the
search for water with the divining rod.  He says that, in an experiment
at Woolwich, 'the twigs twisted themselves off below her fingers, which
were considerably indented by so forcibly holding the rods between them.'
{186}  Next, the violent excitement of the four young men of the Mauganja
is paralleled by the physical experience of the lady quoted in the
'Quarterly Review.'  'A degree of agitation was visible in her face when
she first made the experiment; she says this agitation was great' when
she began to practise the art, or whatever we are to call it.  Again, in
'Lettres qui decouvrent l'illusion' (p. 93), we read that Jacques Aymar
(who discovered the Lyons murderer in 1692) se sent tout emu--feels
greatly agitated--when he comes on that of which he is in search.  On
page 97 of the same volume, the body of the man who holds the divining
rod is described as 'violently agitated.'  When Aymar entered the room
where the murder, to be described later, was committed, 'his pulse rose
as if he were in a burning fever, and the wand turned rapidly in his
hands' ('Lettres,' p. 107).  But the most singular parallel to the
performance of the African wizard must be quoted from a curious pamphlet
already referred to, a translation of the old French 'Verge de Jacob,'
written, annotated, and published by a Mr. Thomas Welton.  Mr. Welton
seems to have been a believer in mesmerism, animal magnetism, and similar
doctrines, but the coincidence of his story with that of the African
sorcerer is none the less remarkable.  It is a coincidence which must
almost certainly be 'undesigned.'  Mr. Welton's wife was what modern
occult philosophers call a 'Sensitive.'  In 1851, he wished her to try an
experiment with the rod in a garden, and sent a maid-servant to bring 'a
certain stick that stood behind the parlour door.  In great terror she
brought it to the garden, her hand firmly clutched on the stick, nor
could she let it go . . . '  The stick was given to Mrs. Welton, 'and it
drew her with very considerable force to nearly the centre of the garden,
to a bed of poppies, where she stopped.'  Here water was found, and the
gardener, who had given up his lease as there was no well in the garden,
had the lease renewed.

We have thus evidence to show (and much more might be adduced) that the
belief in the divining rod, or in analogous instruments, is not confined
to the European races.  The superstition, or whatever we are to call it,
produces the same effects of physical agitation, and the use of the rod
is accompanied with similar phenomena among Mongols, English people,
Frenchmen, and the natives of Central Africa.  The same coincidences are
found in almost all superstitious practices, and in the effects of these
practices on believers.  The Chinese use a form of planchette, which is
half a divining rod--a branch of the peach tree; and 'spiritualism' is
more than three-quarters of the religion of most savage tribes, a Maori
seance being more impressive than anything the civilised Sludge can offer
his credulous patrons.  From these facts different people draw different
inferences.  Believers say that the wide distribution of their favourite
mysteries is a proof that 'there is something in them.'  The incredulous
look on our modern 'twigs' and turning-tables and ghost stories as mere
'survivals' from the stage of savage culture, or want of culture, when
the fancy of half-starved man was active and his reason uncritical.

The great authority for the modern history of the divining rod is a work
published by M. Chevreuil, in Paris, in 1854.  M. Chevreuil, probably
with truth, regarded the wand as much on a par with the turning-tables,
which, in 1854, attracted a good deal of attention.  He studied the topic
historically, and his book, with a few accessible French tracts and
letters of the seventeenth century, must here be our guide.  A good deal
of M. Chevreuil's learning, it should be said, is reproduced in Mr.
Baring Gould's 'Curious Myths of the Middle Ages,' but the French author
is much more exhaustive in his treatment of the topic.  M. Chevreuil
could find no earlier book on the twig than the 'Testament du Frere Basil
Valentin,' a holy man who flourished (the twig) about 1413; but whose
treatise is possibly apocryphal.  According to Basil Valentin, the twig
was regarded with awe by ignorant labouring men, which is still true.
Paracelsus, though he has a reputation for magical daring, thought the
use of the twig 'uncertain and unlawful'; and Agricola, in his 'De Re
Metallica' (1546) expresses a good deal of scepticism about the use of
the rod in mining.  A traveller of 1554 found that the wand was _not_
used--and this seems to have surprised him--in the mines of Macedonia.
Most of the writers of the sixteenth century accounted for the turning of
the rod by 'sympathy,' which was then as favourite an explanation of
everything as evolution is to-day.  In 1630 the Baron de Beau Soleil of
Bohemia (his name sounds rather Bohemian) came to France with his wife,
and made much use of the rod in the search for water and minerals.  The
Baroness wrote a little volume on the subject, afterwards reprinted in a
great storehouse of this lore, 'La Physique Occulte,' of Vallemont.
Kircher, a Jesuit, made experiments which came to nothing; but Gaspard
Schott, a learned writer, cautiously declined to say that the Devil was
always 'at the bottom of it' when the rod turned successfully.  The
problem of the rod was placed before our own Royal Society by Boyle, in
1666, but the Society was not more successful here than in dealing with
the philosophical difficulty proposed by Charles II.  In 1679 De Saint
Remain, deserting the old hypothesis of secret 'sympathies,' explained
the motion of the rod (supposing it to move) by the action of
corpuscules.  From this time the question became the playing ground of
the Cartesian and other philosophers.  The struggle was between theories
of 'atoms,' magnetism, 'corpuscules,' electric effluvia, and so forth, on
one side, and the immediate action of devils or of conscious imposture,
on the other.  The controversy, comparatively simple as long as the rod
only indicated hidden water or minerals, was complicated by the revival
of the savage belief that the wand could 'smell out' moral offences.  As
long as the twig turned over material objects, you could imagine
sympathies and 'effluvia' at pleasure.  But when the wand twirled over
the scene of a murder, or dragged the expert after the traces of the
culprit, fresh explanations were wanted.  Le Brun wrote to Malebranche on
July 8, 1689, to tell him that the wand only turned over what the holder
had the _intention_ of discovering. {190}  If he were following a
murderer, the wand good-naturedly refused to distract him by turning over
hidden water.  On the other hand, Vallemont says that when a peasant was
using the wand to find water, it turned over a spot in a wood where a
murdered woman was buried, and it conducted the peasant to the murderer's
house.  These events seem inconsistent with Le Brun's theory of
_intention_.  Malebranche replied, in effect, that he had only heard of
the turning of the wand over water and minerals; that it then turned (if
turn it did) by virtue of some such force as electricity; that, if such
force existed, the wand would turn over open water.  But it does not so
turn; and, as physical causes are constant, it follows that the turning
of the rod cannot be the result of a physical cause.  The only other
explanation is an intelligent cause--either the will of an impostor, or
the action of a spirit.  Good spirits would not meddle with such matters;
therefore either the Devil or an impostor causes the motion of the rod,
if it _does_ move at all.  This logic of Malebranche's is not agreeable
to believers in the twig; but there the controversy stood, till, in 1692,
Jacques Aymar, a peasant of Dauphine, by the use of the twig discovered
one of the Lyons murderers.

Though the story of this singular event is pretty well known, it must
here be briefly repeated.  No affair can be better authenticated, and our
version is abridged from the 'Relations' of 'Monsieur le Procureur du
Roi, Monsieur l'Abbe de la Garde, Monsieur Panthot, Doyen des Medecins de
Lyon, et Monsieur Aubert, Avocat celebre.'

On July 5, 1692, a vintner and his wife were found dead in the cellar of
their shop at Lyons.  They had been killed by blows from a hedging-knife,
and their money had been stolen.  The culprits could not be discovered,
and a neighbour took upon him to bring to Lyons a peasant out of
Dauphine, named Jacques Aymar, a man noted for his skill with the
divining rod.  The Lieutenant-Criminel and the Procureur du Roi took
Aymar into the cellar, furnishing him with a rod of the first wood that
came to hand.  According to the Procureur du Roi, the rod did not move
till Aymar reached the very spot where the crime had been committed.  His
pulse then rose, and the wand twisted rapidly.  'Guided by the wand or by
some internal sensation,' Aymar now pursued the track of the assassins,
entered the court of the Archbishop's palace, left the town by the bridge
over the Rhone, and followed the right bank of the river.  He reached a
gardener's house, which he declared the men had entered, and some
children confessed that three men (_whom they described_) had come into
the house one Sunday morning.  Aymar followed the track up the river,
pointed out all the places where the men had landed, and, to make a long
story short, stopped at last at the door of the prison of Beaucaire.  He
was admitted, looked at the prisoners, and picked out as the murderer a
little hunchback (had the children described a hunchback?) who had just
been brought in for a small theft.  The hunchback was taken to Lyons, and
he was recognised, on the way, by the people at all the stages where he
had stopped.  At Lyons he was examined in the usual manner, and confessed
that he had been an accomplice in the crime, and had guarded the door.
Aymar pursued the other culprits to the coast, followed them by sea,
landed where they had landed, and only desisted from his search when they
crossed the frontier.  As for the hunchback, he was broken on the wheel,
being condemned on his own confession.  It does not appear that he was
put to the torture to make him confess.  If this had been done his
admissions would, of course, have been as valueless as those of the
victims in trials for witchcraft.

This is, in brief, the history of the famous Lyons murders.  It must be
added that many experiments were made with Aymar in Paris, and that they
were all failures.  He fell into every trap that was set for him;
detected thieves who were innocent, failed to detect the guilty, and
invented absurd excuses; alleging, for example, that the rod would not
indicate a murderer who had confessed, or who was drunk when he committed
his crime.  These excuses seem to annihilate the wild contemporary theory
of Chauvin and others, that the body of a murderer naturally exhales an
invisible matiere meurtriere--peculiar indestructible atoms, which may be
detected by the expert with the rod.  Something like the same theory, we
believe, has been used to explain the pretended phenomena of haunted
houses.  But the wildest philosophical credulity is staggered by a
matiere meurtriere which is disengaged by the body of a sober, but not by
that of an intoxicated, murderer, which survives tempests in the air, and
endures for many years, but is dissipated the moment the murderer
confesses.  Believers in Aymar have conjectured that his real powers were
destroyed by the excitements of Paris, and that he took to imposture; but
this is an effort of too easy good-nature.  When Vallemont defended Aymar
(1693) in the book called 'La Physique Occulte,' he declared that Aymar
was physically affected to an unpleasant extent by matiere meurtriere,
but was not thus agitated when he used the rod to discover minerals.  We
have seen that, if modern evidence can be trusted, holders of the rod are
occasionally much agitated even when they are only in search of wells.
The story gave rise to a prolonged controversy, and the case remains a
judicial puzzle, but little elucidated by the confession of the
hunchback, who may have been insane, or morbid, or vexed by constant
questioning till he was weary of his life.  He was only nineteen years of

The next use of the rod was very much like that of 'tipping' and turning
tables.  Experts held it (as did Le Pere Menestrier, 1694), questions
were asked, and the wand answered by turning in various directions.  By
way of showing the inconsistency of all philosophies of the wand, it may
be said that one girl found that it turned over concealed gold if she
held gold in her hand, while another found that it indicated the metal so
long as she did _not_ carry gold with her in the quest.  In the search
for water, ecclesiastics were particularly fond of using the rod.  The
Marechal de Boufflers dug many wells, and found no water, on the
indications of a rod in the hands of the Prieur de Dorenic, near Guise.
In 1700 a cure, near Toulouse, used the wand to answer questions, which,
like planchette, it often answered wrong.  The great sourcier, or water-
finder, of the eighteenth century was one Bleton.  He declared that the
rod was a mere index, and that physical sensations of the searcher
communicated themselves to the wand.  This is the reverse of the African
theory, that the stick is inspired, while the men who hold it are only
influenced by the stick.  On the whole, Bleton's idea seems the less
absurd, but Bleton himself often failed when watched with scientific care
by the incredulous.  Paramelle, who wrote on methods of discovering
wells, in 1856, came to the conclusion that the wand turns in the hands
of certain individuals of peculiar temperament, and that it is very much
a matter of chance whether there are, or are not, wells in the places
where it turns.

On the whole, the evidence for the turning of the wand is a shade better
than that for the magical turning of tables.  If there are no phenomena
of this sort at all, it is remarkable that the belief in them is so
widely diffused.  But if the phenomena are purely subjective, owing to
the conscious or unconscious action of nervous patients, then they are
precisely of the sort which the cunning medicine-man observes, and makes
his profit out of, even in the earliest stages of society.  Once
introduced, these practices never die out among the conservative and
unprogressive class of peasants; and, every now and then, they attract
the curiosity of philosophers, or win the belief of the credulous among
the educated classes.  Then comes, as we have lately seen, a revival of
ancient superstition.  For it were as easy to pluck the comet out of the
sky by the tail, as to eradicate superstition from the mind of man.

Perhaps one good word may be said for the divining rod.  Considering the
chances it has enjoyed, the rod has done less mischief than might have
been expected.  It might very well have become, in Europe, as in Asia and
Africa, a kind of ordeal, or method of searching for and trying
malefactors.  Men like Jacques Aymar might have played, on a larger
scale, the part of Hopkins, the witch-finder.  Aymar was, indeed,
employed by some young men to point out, by help of the wand, the houses
of ladies who had been more frail than faithful.  But at the end of the
seventeenth century in France, this research was not regarded with
favour, and put the final touch on the discomfiture of Aymar.  So far as
we know, the hunchback of Lyons was the only victim of the 'twig' who
ever suffered in civilised society.  It is true that, in rural England,
the movements of a Bible, suspended like a pendulum, have been thought to
point out the guilty.  But even that evidence is not held good enough to
go to a jury.


'What makes mythology mythological, in the true sense of the word, is
what is utterly unintelligible, absurd, strange, or miraculous.'  So says
Mr. Max Muller in the January number of the Nineteenth Century for 1882.
Men's attention would never have been surprised into the perpetual study
and questioning of mythology if it had been intelligible and dignified,
and if its report had been in accordance with the reason of civilised and
cultivated races.  What mythologists wish to discover is the origin of
the countless disgusting, amazing, and incongruous legends which occur in
the myths of all known peoples.  According to Mr. Muller--

   There are only two systems possible in which the irrational element in
   mythology can be accounted for.  One school takes the irrational as a
   matter of fact; and if we read that Daphne fled before Phoebus, and
   was changed into a laurel tree, that school would say that there
   probably was a young lady called Aurora, like, for instance, Aurora
   Konigsmark; that a young man called Robin, or possibly a man with red
   hair, pursued her, and that she hid behind a laurel tree that happened
   to be there.  This was the theory of Euhemeros, re-established by the
   famous Abbe Bernier [Mr. Muller doubtless means Banier], and not quite
   extinct even now.  According to another school, the irrational element
   in mythology is inevitable, and due to the influence of language on
   thought, so that many of the legends of gods and heroes may be
   rendered intelligible if only we can discover the original meaning of
   their proper names.  The followers of this school try to show that
   Daphne, the laurel tree, was an old name for the dawn, and that
   Phoibos was one of the many names of the sun, who pursued the dawn
   till she vanished before his rays.  Of these two schools, the former
   has always appealed to the mythologies of savage nations, as showing
   that gods and heroes were originally human beings, worshipped after
   their death as ancestors and as gods, while the latter has confined
   itself chiefly to an etymological analysis of mythological names in
   Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, and other languages, such as had been
   sufficiently studied to admit of a scientific, grammatical, and
   etymological treatment.

This is a long text for our remarks on Hottentot mythology; but it is
necessary to prove that there are not two schools only of mythologists:
that there are inquirers who neither follow the path of the Abbe Banier,
nor of the philologists, but a third way, unknown to, or ignored by Mr.
Muller.  We certainly were quite unaware that Banier and Euhemeros were
very specially concerned, as Mr. Muller thinks, with savage mythology;
but it is by aid of savage myths that the school unknown to Mr. Muller
examines the myths of civilised peoples like the Greeks.  The disciples
of Mr. Muller interpret all the absurdities of Greek myth, the gods who
are beasts on occasion, the stars who were men, the men who become
serpents or deer, the deities who are cannibals and parricides and
adulterers, as the result of the influence of Aryan speech upon Aryan
thought.  Men, in Mr. Muller's opinion, had originally pure ideas about
the gods, and expressed them in language which we should call figurative.
The figures remained, when their meaning was lost; the names were then
supposed to be gods, the nomina became numina, and out of the
inextricable confusion of thought which followed, the belief in cannibal,
bestial, adulterous, and incestuous gods was evolved.  That is Mr.
Muller's hypothesis; with him the evolution, a result of a disease of
language, has been from early comparative purity to later religious
abominations.  Opposed to him is what may be called the school of Mr.
Herbert Spencer: the modern Euhemerism, which recognises an element of
historical truth in myths, as if the characters had been real characters,
and which, in most gods, beholds ancestral ghosts raised to a higher

There remains a third system of mythical interpretation, though Mr.
Muller says only two methods are possible.  The method, in this third
case, is to see whether the irrational features and elements of civilised
Greek myth occur also in the myths of savages who speak languages quite
unlike those from whose diseases Mr. Muller derives the corruption of
religion.  If the same features recur, are they as much in harmony with
the mental habits of savages, such as Bushmen and Hottentots, as they are
out of accord with the mental habits of civilised Greeks?  If this
question can be answered in the affirmative, then it may be provisionally
assumed that the irrational elements of savage myth are the legacy of
savage modes of thought, and have survived in the religion of Greece from
a time when the ancestors of the Greeks were savages.  But inquirers who
use this method do not in the least believe that either Greek or savage
gods were, for the more part, originally real men.  Both Greeks and
savages have worshipped the ghosts of the dead.  Both Greeks and savages
assign to their gods the miraculous powers of transformation and magic,
which savages also attribute to their conjurers or shamans.  The mantle
(if he had a mantle) of the medicine-man has fallen on the god; but Zeus,
or Indra, was not once a real medicine-man.  A number of factors combine
in the conception of Indra, or Zeus, as either god appears in Sanskrit or
Greek literature, of earlier or later date.  Our school does not hold
anything so absurd as that Daphne was a real girl pursued by a young man.
But it has been observed that, among most savage races, metamorphoses
like that of Daphne not only exist in mythology, but are believed to
occur very frequently in actual life.  Men and women are supposed to be
capable of turning into plants (as the bamboo in Sarawak), into animals,
and stones, and stars, and those metamorphoses happen as contemporary
events--for example, in Samoa. {200}

When Mr. Lane was living at Cairo, and translating the 'Arabian Nights,'
he found that the people still believed in metamorphosis.  Any day, just
as in the 'Arabian Nights,' a man might find himself turned by an
enchanter into a pig or a horse.  Similar beliefs, not derived from
language, supply the matter of the senseless incidents in Greek myths.

Savage mythology is also full of metamorphoses.  Therefore the
mythologists whose case we are stating, when they find identical
metamorphoses in the classical mythologies, conjecture that these were
first invented when the ancestors of the Aryans were in the imaginative
condition in which a score of rude races are to-day.  This explanation
they apply to many other irrational elements in mythology.  They do not
say, 'Something like the events narrated in these stories once occurred,'
nor 'A disease of language caused the belief in such events,' but 'These
stories were invented when men were capable of believing in their
occurrence as a not unusual sort of incident'

Philologists attempt to explain the metamorphoses as the result of some
oblivion and confusion of language.  Apollo, they say, was called the
'wolf-god' (Lukeios) by accident: his name really meant the 'god of
light.'  A similar confusion made the 'seven shiners' into the 'seven
bears.' {201}  These explanations are distrusted, partly because the area
to be covered by them is so vast.  There is scarcely a star, tree, or
beast, but it has been a man or woman once, if we believe civilised and
savage myth.  Two or three possible examples of myths originating in
forgetfulness of the meaning of words, even if admitted, do not explain
the incalculable crowd of metamorphoses.  We account for these by saying
that, to the savage mind, which draws no hard and fast line between man
and nature, all such things are possible; possible enough, at least, to
be used as incidents in story.  Again, as has elsewhere been shown, the
laxity of philological reasoning is often quite extraordinary; while,
lastly, philologists of the highest repute flatly contradict each other
about the meaning of the names and roots on which they agree in founding
their theory. {202a}

By way of an example of the philological method as applied to savage
mythology, we choose a book in many ways admirable, Dr. Hahn's 'Tsuni
Goam, the Supreme Being of the Khoi Khoi.' {202b}  This book is sometimes
appealed to as a crushing argument against the mythologists who adopt the
method we have just explained.  Let us see if the blow be so very
crushing.  To put the case in a nutshell, the Hottentots have commonly
been described as a race which worshipped a dead chief, or conjurer--Tsui
Goab his name is, meaning Wounded Knee, a not unlikely name for a savage.
Dr. Hahn, on the other hand, labours to show that the Hottentots
originally worshipped no dead chief, but (as a symbol of the Infinite)
the Red Dawn.  The meaning of the name Red Dawn, he says, was lost; the
words which meant Red Dawn were erroneously supposed to mean Wounded
Knee, and thus arose the adoration and the myths of a dead chief, or
wizard, Tsui Goab, Wounded Knee.  Clearly, if this can be proved, it is
an excellent case for the philological school, an admirable example of a
myth produced by forgetfulness of the meaning of words.  Our own opinion
is that, even if Tsui Goab originally meant Red Dawn, the being, as now
conceived of by his adorers, is bedizened in the trappings of the dead
medicine-man, and is worshipped just as ghosts of the dead are
worshipped.  Thus, whatever his origin, his myth is freely coloured by
the savage fancy and by savage ideas, and we ask no more than this
colouring to explain the wildest Greek myths.  What truly 'primitive'
religion was, we make no pretence to know.  We only say that, whether
Greek religion arose from a pure fountain or not, its stream had flowed
through and been tinged by the soil of savage thought, before it widens
into our view in historical times.  But it will be shown that the logic
which connects Tsui Goab with the Red Dawn is far indeed from being

Tsui Goab is thought by the Hottentots themselves to be a dead man, and
it is admitted that among the Hottentots dead men are adored.  'Cairns
are still objects of worship,' {203a} and Tsui Goab lies beneath several
cairns.  Again, soothsayers are believed in (p. 24), and Tsui Goab is
regarded as a deceased soothsayer.  As early as 1655, a witness quoted by
Hahn saw women worshipping at one of the cairns of Heitsi Eibib, another
supposed ancestral being.  Kolb, the old Dutch traveller, found that the
Hottentots, like the Bushmen, revered the mantis insect.  This creature
they called Gaunab.  They also had some moon myths, practised adoration
of the moon, and danced at dawn.  Thunberg (1792) saw the cairn-worship,
and, on asking its meaning, was told that a Hottentot lay buried there.
{203b}  Thunberg also heard of the worship of the mantis, or grey
grasshopper.  In 1803 Liechtenstein noted the cairn-worship, and was told
that a renowned Hottentot doctor of old times rested under the cairn.
Appleyard's account of 'the name God in Khoi Khoi, or Hottentot,'
deserves quoting in full:--

   Hottentot: Tsoei'koap.
   Namaqua: Tsoei'koap.
   Koranna: Tshu'koab, and the author adds: 'This is the word from which
   the Kafirs have probably derived their u-Tixo, a term which they have
   universally applied, like the Hottentots, to designate the Divine
   Being, since the introduction of Christianity.  Its derivation is
   curious.  It consists of two words, which together mean the "wounded
   knee."  It is said to have been originally applied to a doctor or
   sorcerer of considerable notoriety and skill amongst the Hottentots or
   Namaquas some generations back, in consequence of his having received
   some injury in his knee.  Having been held in high repute for
   extraordinary powers during life, he appeared to be invoked even after
   death, as one who could still relieve and protect; and hence, in
   process of time, he became nearest in idea to their first conceptions
   of God.'

Other missionaries make old Wounded Knee a good sort of being on the
whole, who fights Gaunab, a bad being.  Dr. Moffat heard that 'Tsui Kuap'
was 'a notable warrior,' who once received a wound in the knee.  Sir
James Alexander {204} found that the Namaquas believed their 'great
father' lay below the cairns on which they flung boughs.  This great
father was Heitsi Eibib, and, like other medicine-men, 'he could take
many forms.'  Like Tsui Goab, he died several times and rose again.  Hahn
gives (p. 61) a long account of the Wounded Knee from an old chief, and a
story of the battle between Tsui Goab, who 'lives in a beautiful heaven,'
and Gaunab, who 'lives in a dark heaven.'  As this chief had dwelt among
missionaries very long, we may perhaps discount his remarks on 'heaven'
as borrowed.  Hahn thinks they refer to the red sky in which Tsui Goab
lived, and to the black sky which was the home of Gaunab.  The two
characters in this crude religious dualism thus inhabit light and
darkness respectively.

* * * * *

As far as we have gone, Tsui Goab, like Heitsi Eibib among the Namas, is
a dead sorcerer, whose graves are worshipped, while, with a common
inconsistency, he is also thought of as dwelling in the sky.  Even
Christians often speak of the dead with similar inconsistency.  Tsui
Goab's worship is intelligible enough among a people so credulous that
they took Hahn himself for a conjurer (p. 81), and so given to ancestor-
worship that Hahn has seen them worship their own fathers' graves, and
expect help from men recently dead (pp. 112, 113).  But, while the Khoi
Khoi think that Tsui Goab was once a real man, we need not share their
Euhemerism.  More probably, like Unkulunkulu among the Zulus, Tsui Goab
is an ideal, imaginary ancestral sorcerer and god.  No one man requires
many graves, and Tsui Goab has more than Osiris possessed in Egypt. {205}

If the Egyptians in some immeasurably distant past were once on the level
of Namas and Hottentots, they would worship Osiris at as many barrows as
Heitsi Eibib and Tsui Goab are adored.  In later times the numerous
graves of one being would require explanation, and explanations would be
furnished by the myth that the body of Osiris was torn to pieces and each
fragment buried in a separate tomb.

Again, lame gods occur in Greek, Australian, and Brazilian creeds, and
the very coincidence of Tsui Goab's lameness makes us sceptical about his
claims to be a real dead man.  On the other hand, when Hahn tells us that
epical myths are now sung in the dances in honour of warriors lately
slain (p. 103), and that similar dances and songs were performed in the
past to honour Tsui Goab, this looks more as if Tsui Goab had been an
actual person.  Against this we must set (p. 105) the belief that Tsui
Goab made the first man and woman, and was the Prometheus of the

* * * * *

So far Dr. Hahn has given us facts which entirely fit in with our theory
that an ancestor-worshipping people, believing in metamorphosis and
sorcery, adores a god who is supposed to be a deceased ancestral sorcerer
with the power of magic and metamorphosis.  But now Dr. Hahn offers his
own explanation.  According to the philological method, he will 'study
the names of the persons, until we arrive at the naked root and original
meanings of the words.'  Starting then with Tsui Goab, whom all evidence
declares to be a dead lame conjurer and warrior, Dr. Hahn avers that
'Tsui Goab, originally Tsuni Goam, was the name by which the Red Men
called the Infinite.'  As the Frenchman said of the derivation of jour
from _dies_, we may hint that the Infinite thus transformed into a lame
Hottentot 'bush-doctor' is diablement change en route.  To a dead lame
sorcerer from the Infinite is a fall indeed.  The process of the decline
is thus described.  Tsui Goab is composed of two roots, tsu and goa.  Goa
means 'to go on,' 'to come on.'  In Khoi Khoi goa-b means 'the coming on
one,' the dawn, and goa-b also means 'the knee.'  Dr. Hahn next writes
(making a logical leap of extraordinary width), 'it is now obvious that,
//goab in Tsui Goab cannot be translated with knee,'--why not?--'but we
have to adopt the other metaphorical meaning, the _approaching_ day, i.e.
the dawn.'  Where is the necessity?  In ordinary philology, we should
here demand a number of attested examples of goab, in the sense of dawn,
but in Khoi Khoi we cannot expect such evidence, as there are probably no
texts.  Next, after arbitrarily deciding that all Khoi Khois
misunderstand their own tongue (for that is what the rendering here of
goab by 'dawn' comes to), Dr. Hahn examines tsu, in Tsui.  Tsu means
'sore,' 'wounded,' 'painful,' as in 'wounded knee'--Tsui Goab.  This does
not help Dr Hahn, for 'wounded dawn' means nothing.  But he reflects that
a wound is red, tsu means wounded: therefore tsu means red, therefore
Tsui Goab is the Red Dawn.  Q.E.D.

This kind of reasoning is obviously fallacious.  Dr. Hahn's point could
only be made by bringing forward examples in which tsu is employed to
mean red in Khoi Khoi.  Of this use of the word tsu he does not give one
single instance, though on this point his argument depends.  His
etymology is not strengthened by the fact that Tsui Goab has once been
said to live in the red sky.  A red house is not necessarily tenanted by
a red man.  Still less is the theory supported by the hymn which says
Tsui Goab paints himself with red ochre.  Most idols, from those of the
Samoyeds to the Greek images of Dionysus, are and have been daubed with
red.  By such reasoning is Tsui Goab proved to be the Red Dawn, while his
gifts of prophecy (which he shares with all soothsayers) are accounted
for as attributes of dawn, of the Vedic Saranyu.

Turning from Tsui Goab to his old enemy Gaunab, we learn that his name is
derived from //gau, 'to destroy,' and, according to old Hottentot ideas,
'no one was the destroyer but the night' (p. 126).  There is no apparent
reason why the destroyer should be the night, and the night alone, any
more than why 'a lame broken knee' should be 'red' (p. 126).  Besides (p.
85), Gaunab is elsewhere explained, not as the night, but as the
malevolent ghost which is thought to kill people who die what we call a
'natural' death.  Unburied men change into this sort of vampire, just as
Elpenor, in the Odyssey, threatens, if unburied, to become mischievous.
There is another Gaunab, the mantis insect, which is worshipped by
Hottentots and Bushmen (p. 92).  It appears that the two Gaunabs are
differently pronounced.  However that may be, a race which worships an
insect might well worship a dead medicine-man.

* * * * *

The conclusion, then, to be drawn from an examination of Hottentot
mythology is merely this, that the ideas of a people will be reflected in
their myths.  A people which worships the dead, believes in sorcerers and
in prophets, and in metamorphosis, will have for its god (if he can be
called a god) a being who is looked on as a dead prophet and sorcerer.  He
will be worshipped with such rites as dead men receive; he will be mixed
up in such battles as living men wage, and will be credited with the
skill which living sorcerers claim.  All these things meet in the legend
of Tsui Goab, the so-called 'supreme being' of the Hottentots.  His
connection with the dawn is not supported by convincing argument or
evidence.  The relation of the dawn to the Infinite again rests on
nothing but a theory of Mr. Max Muller's. {209}  His adversary, though
recognised as the night, is elsewhere admitted to have been, originally,
a common vampire.  Finally, the Hottentots, a people not much removed
from savagery, have a mythology full of savage and even disgusting
elements.  And this is just what we expect from Hottentots.  The puzzle
is when we find myths as low as the story of the incest of Heitsi Eibib
among the Greeks.  The reason for this coincidence is that, in Dr. Hahn's
words, 'the same objects and the same phenomena in nature will give rise
to the same ideas, whether social or mythical, among different races of
mankind,' especially when these races are in the same well-defined state
of savage fancy and savage credulity.

Dr. Hahn's book has been regarded as a kind of triumph over inquirers who
believe that ancestor-worship enters into myth, and that the purer
element in myth is the later.  But where is the triumph?  Even on Dr.
Hahn's own showing, ancestor-worship among the Hottentots has swamped the
adoration of the Infinite.  It may be said that Dr. Hahn has at least
proved the adoration of the Infinite to be earlier than ancestor-worship.
But it has been shown that his attempt to establish a middle stage, to
demonstrate that the worshipped ancestor was really the Red Dawn, is not
logical nor convincing.  Even if that middle stage were established, it
is a far cry from the worship of Dawn (supposed by the Australians to be
a woman of bad character in a cloak of red' possum-skin) to the adoration
of the Infinite.  Our own argument has been successful if we have shown
that there are not only two possible schools of mythological
interpretation--the Euhemeristic, led by Mr. Spencer, and the
Philological, led by Mr. Max Muller.  We have seen that it is possible to
explain the legend of Tsui Goab without either believing him to have been
a real historical person (as Mr. Spencer may perhaps believe), or his
myth to have been the result of a 'disease of language' as Mr. Muller
supposes.  We have explained the legend and worship of a supposed dead
conjurer as natural to a race which believes in conjurers and worships
dead men.  Whether he was merely an ideal ancestor and warrior, or
whether an actual man has been invested with what divine qualities Tsui
Goab enjoys, it is impossible to say; but, if he ever lived, he has long
been adorned with ideal qualities and virtues which he never possessed.
The conception of the powerful ancestral ghost has been heightened and
adorned with some novel attributes of power: the conception of the
Infinite has not been degraded, by forgetfulness of language, to the
estate of an ancestral ghost with a game leg.

* * * * *

If this view be correct, myth is the result of thought, far more than of
a disease of language.  The comparative importance of language and
thought was settled long ago, in our sense, by no less a person than
Pragapati, the Sanskrit Master of Life.

'Now a dispute once took place between Mind and Speech, as to which was
the better of the two.  Both Mind and Speech said, "I am excellent!"  Mind
said, "Surely I am better than thou, for thou dost not speak anything
that is not understood by me; and since thou art only an imitator of what
is done by me and a follower in my wake, I am surely better than thou!"
Speech said, "Surely I am better than thou, for what thou knowest I make
known, I communicate."  They went to appeal to Pragapati for his
decision.  He (Pragapati) decided in favour of Mind, saying (to Speech),
"Mind is indeed better than thou, for thou art an imitator of its deeds,
and a follower in its wake; and inferior, surely, is he who imitates his
better's deeds, and follows in his wake."'

So saith the 'Satapatha Brahmana.' {211}


What is the true place of Fetichism, to use a common but unscientific
term, in the history of religious evolution?  Some theorists have made
fetichism, that is to say, the adoration of odds and ends (with which
they have confused the worship of animals, of mountains, and even of the
earth), the first moment in the development of worship.  Others, again,
think that fetichism is 'a corruption of religion, in Africa, as
elsewhere.'  The latter is the opinion of Mr Max Muller, who has stated
it in his 'Hibbert Lectures,' on 'The Origin and Growth of Religion,
especially as illustrated by the Religions of India.'  It seems probable
that there is a middle position between these two extremes.  Students may
hold that we hardly know enough to justify us in talking about the
_origin_ of religion, while at the same time they may believe that
Fetichism is one of the earliest traceable steps by which men climbed to
higher conceptions of the supernatural.  Meanwhile Mr. Max Muller
supports his own theory, that fetichism is a 'parasitical growth,' a
'corruption' of religion, by arguments mainly drawn from historical study
of savage creeds, and from the ancient religious documents of India.

These documents are to English investigators ignorant of Sanskrit 'a book
sealed with seven seals.'  The Vedas are interpreted in very different
ways by different Oriental scholars.  It does not yet appear to be known
whether a certain word in the Vedic funeral service means 'goat' or
'soul'!  Mr. Max Muller's rendering is certain to have the first claim on
English readers, and therefore it is desirable to investigate the
conclusions which he draws from his Vedic studies.  The ordinary
anthropologist must first, however, lodge a protest against the tendency
to look for _primitive_ matter in the Vedas.  They are the elaborate
hymns of a specially trained set of poets and philosophers, living in an
age almost of civilisation.  They can therefore contain little testimony
as to what man, while still 'primitive,' thought about God, the world,
and the soul.  One might as well look for the first germs of religion,
for _primitive_ religion strictly so called, in 'Hymns Ancient and
Modern' as in the Vedas.  It is chiefly, however, by way of deductions
from the Vedas, that Mr. Max Muller arrives at ideas which may be briefly
and broadly stated thus: he inclines to derive religion from man's sense
of the Infinite, as awakened by natural objects calculated to stir that
sense.  Our position is, on the other hand, that the germs of the
religious sense in early man are developed, not so much by the vision of
the Infinite, as by the idea of Power.  Early religions, in short, are
selfish, not disinterested.  The worshipper is not contemplative, so much
as eager to gain something to his advantage.  In fetiches, he ignorantly
recognises something that possesses power of an abnormal sort, and the
train of ideas which leads him to believe in and to treasure fetiches is
one among the earliest springs of religious belief.

Mr. Muller's opinion is the very reverse: he believes that a
contemplative and disinterested emotion in the presence of the Infinite,
or of anything that suggests infinitude or is mistaken for the Infinite,
begets human religion, while of this religion fetichism is a later

* * * * *

In treating of fetichism Mr. Muller is obliged to criticise the system of
De Brosses, who introduced this rather unfortunate term to science, in an
admirable work, 'Le Culte des Dieux Fetiches' (1760).  We call the work
'admirable,' because, considering the contemporary state of knowledge and
speculation, De Brosses's book is brilliant, original, and only now and
then rash or confused.  Mr. Muller says that De Brosses 'holds that all
nations had to begin with fetichism, to be followed afterwards by
polytheism and monotheism.'  This sentence would lead some readers to
suppose that De Brosses, in his speculations, was looking for the origin
of religion; but, in reality, his work is a mere attempt to explain a
certain element in ancient religion and mythology.  De Brosses was well
aware that heathen religions were a complex mass, a concretion of many
materials.  He admits the existence of regard for the spirits of the dead
as one factor, he gives Sabaeism a place as another.  But what chiefly
puzzles him, and what he chiefly tries to explain, is the worship of odds
and ends of rubbish, and the adoration of animals, mountains, trees, the
sun, and so forth.  When he masses all these worships together, and
proposes to call them all Fetichism (a term derived from the Portuguese
word for a talisman), De Brosses is distinctly unscientific.  But De
Brosses is distinctly scientific when he attempts to explain the animal-
worship of Egypt, and the respect paid by Greeks and Romans to shapeless
stones, as survivals of older savage practices.

The position of De Brosses is this: Old mythology and religion are a
tissue of many threads.  Sabaeism, adoration of the dead, mythopoeic
fancy, have their part in the fabric.  Among many African tribes, a form
of theism, Islamite or Christian, or self-developed, is superimposed on a
mass of earlier superstitions.  Among these superstitions, is the worship
of animals and plants, and the cult of rough stones and of odds and ends
of matter.  What is the origin of this element, so prominent in the
religion of Egypt, and present, if less conspicuous, in the most ancient
temples of Greece?  It is the survival, answers De Brosses, of ancient
practices like those of untutored peoples, as Brazilians, Samoyeds,
Negroes, whom the Egyptians and Pelasgians once resembled in lack of

This, briefly stated, is the hypothesis of De Brosses.  If he had
possessed our wider information, he would have known that, among savage
races, the worships of the stars, of the dead, and of plants and animals,
are interlaced by the strange metaphysical processes of wild men.  He
would, perhaps, have kept the supernatural element in magical stones,
feathers, shells, and so on, apart from the triple thread of Sabaeism,
ghost-worship, and totemism, with its later development into the regular
worship of plants and animals.  It must be recognised, however, that De
Brosses was perfectly well aware of the confused and manifold character
of early religion.  He had a clear view of the truth that what the
religious instinct has once grasped, it does not, as a rule, abandon, but
subordinates or disguises, when it reaches higher ideas.  And he avers,
again and again, that men laid hold of the coarser and more material
objects of worship, while they themselves were coarse and dull, and that,
as civilisation advanced, they, as a rule, subordinated and disguised the
ruder factors in their system.  Here it is that Mr. Max Muller differs
from De Brosses.  He holds that the adoration of stones, feathers,
shells, and (as I understand him) the worship of animals are, even among
the races of Africa, a corruption of an earlier and purer religion, a
'parasitical development' of religion.

However, Mr. Max Muller himself held 'for a long time' what he calls 'De
Brosses's theory of fetichism.'  What made him throw the theory
overboard?  It was 'the fact that, while in the earliest accessible
documents of religious thought we look in vain for any very clear traces
of fetichism, they become more and more frequent everywhere in the later
stages of religious development, and are certainly more visible in the
later corruptions of the Indian religion, beginning with the Atharvana,
than in the earliest hymns of the Rig Veda.'  Now, by the earliest
accessible documents of religious thought, Professor Max Muller means the
hymns of the Rig Veda.  These hymns are composed in the most elaborate
metre, by sages of old repute, who, I presume, occupied a position not
unlike that of the singers and seers of Israel.  They lived in an age of
tolerably advanced cultivation.  They had wide geographical knowledge.
They had settled government.  They dwelt in States.  They had wealth of
gold, of grain, and of domesticated animals.  Among the metals, they were
acquainted with that which, in most countries, has been the latest
worked--they used iron poles in their chariots.  How then can the hymns
of the most enlightened singers of a race thus far developed be called
'the earliest religious documents'?  Oldest they may be, the oldest that
are accessible, but that is a very different thing.  How can we possibly
argue that what is absent in these hymns, is absent because it had not
yet come into existence?  Is it not the very office of pii vates et Phoebo
digna locuti to purify religion, to cover up decently its rude shapes, as
the unhewn stone was concealed in the fane of Apollo of Delos?  If the
race whose noblest and oldest extant hymns were pure, exhibits traces of
fetichism in its later documents, may not that as easily result from a
recrudescence as from a corruption?  Professor Max Muller has still,
moreover, to explain how the process of corruption which introduced the
same fetichistic practices among Samoyeds, Brazilians, Kaffirs, and the
people of the Atharvana Veda came to be everywhere identical in its

Here an argument often urged against the anthropological method may be
shortly disposed of.  'You examine savages,' people say, 'but how do you
know that these savages were not once much more cultivated; that their
whole mode of life, religion and all, is not debased and decadent from an
earlier standard?'  Mr. Muller glances at this argument, which, however,
cannot serve his purpose.  Mr. Muller has recognised that savage, or
'nomadic,' languages represent a much earlier state of language than
anything that we find, for example, in the oldest Hebrew or Sanskrit
texts.  'For this reason,' he says, {218} 'the study of what I call
_nomad_ languages, as distinguished from _State_ languages, becomes so
instructive.  We see in them what we can no longer expect to see even in
the most ancient Sanskrit or Hebrew.  We watch the childhood of language
with all its childish freaks.'  Yes, adds the anthropologist, and for
this reason the study of savage religions, as distinguished from State
religions, becomes so instructive.  We see in them what we can no longer
expect to see even in the most ancient Sanskrit or Hebrew faiths.  We
watch the childhood of religion with all its childish freaks.  If this
reasoning be sound when the Kaffir tongue is contrasted with ancient
Sanskrit, it should be sound when the Kaffir faith is compared with the
Vedic faith.  By parity of reasoning, the religious beliefs of peoples as
much less advanced than the Kaffirs as the Kaffirs are less advanced than
the Vedic peoples, should be still nearer the infancy of faith, still
'nearer the beginning.'

We have been occupied, perhaps, too long with De Brosses and our apology
for De Brosses.  Let us now examine, as shortly as possible, Mr. Max
Muller's reasons for denying that fetichism is 'a primitive form of
religion.'  The negative side of his argument being thus disposed of, it
will then be our business to consider (1) his psychological theory of the
subjective element in religion, and (2) his account of the growth of
Indian religion.  The conclusion of the essay will be concerned with
demonstrating that Mr. Max Muller's system assigns little or no place to
the superstitious beliefs without which, in other countries than India,
society could not have come into organised existence.

* * * * *

In his polemic against Fetichism, it is not always very easy to see
against whom Mr. Muller is contending.  It is one thing to say that
fetichism is a 'primitive form of religion,' and quite another to say
that it is 'the very beginning of all religion.'  Occasionally he attacks
the 'Comtian theory,' which, I think, is not now held by many people who
study the history of man, and which I am not concerned to defend.  He
says that the Portuguese navigators who discovered among the negroes 'no
other trace of any religious worship' except what they called the worship
of feiticos, concluded that this was the whole of the religion of the
negroes (p. 61).  Mr. Muller then goes on to prove that 'no religion
consists of fetichism only,' choosing his examples of higher elements in
negro religion from the collections of Waitz.  It is difficult to see
what bearing this has on his argument.  De Brosses (p. 20) shows that
_he_, at least, was well aware that many negro tribes have higher
conceptions of the Deity than any which are implied in fetich-worship.
Even if no tribe in the world is exclusively devoted to fetiches, the
argument makes no progress.  Perhaps no extant tribe is in the way of
using unpolished stone weapons and no others, but it does not follow that
unpolished stone weapons are not primitive.  It is just as easy to
maintain that the purer ideas have, by this time, been reached by aid of
the stepping-stones of the grosser, as that the grosser are the
corruption of the purer.  Mr. Max Muller constantly asserts that the
'human mind advanced by small and timid steps from what is intelligible,
to what is at first sight almost beyond comprehension' (p. 126).  Among
the objects which aided man to take these small and timid steps, he
reckons rivers and trees, which excited, he says, religious awe.  What he
will not suppose is that the earliest small and timid steps were not
unaided by such objects as the fetichist treasures--stones, shells, and
so forth, which suggest no idea of infinity.  Stocks he will admit, but
not, if he can help it, stones, of the sort that negroes and Kanekas and
other tribes use as fetiches.  His reason is, that he does not see how
the scraps of the fetichist can appeal to the feeling of the Infinite,
which feeling is, in his theory, the basis of religion.

After maintaining (what is readily granted) that negroes have a religion
composed of many elements, Mr. Muller tries to discredit the evidence
about the creeds of savages, and discourses on the many minute shades of
progress which exist among tribes too often lumped together as if they
were all in the same condition.  Here he will have all scientific
students of savage life on his side.  It remains true, however, that
certain elements of savage practice, fetichism being one of them, are
practically ubiquitous.  Thus, when Mr. Muller speaks of 'the influence
of public opinion' in biassing the narrative of travellers, we must not
forget that the strongest evidence about savage practice is derived from
the 'undesigned coincidence' of the testimonies of all sorts of men, in
all ages, and all conditions of public opinion.  'Illiterate men,
ignorant of the writings of each other, bring the same reports from
various quarters of the globe,' wrote Millar of Glasgow.  When sailors,
merchants, missionaries, describe, as matters unprecedented and unheard
of, such institutions as polyandry, totemism, and so forth, the evidence
is so strong, because the witnesses are so astonished.  They do not know
that anyone but themselves has ever noticed the curious facts before
their eyes.  And when Mr. Muller tries to make the testimony about savage
faith still more untrustworthy, by talking of the 'absence of recognised
authority among savages,' do not let us forget that custom ([Greek]) is a
recognised authority, and that the punishment of death is inflicted for
transgression of certain rules.  These rules, generally speaking, are of
a religious nature, and the religion to which they testify is of the sort
known (too vaguely) as 'fetichistic.'  Let us keep steadily before our
minds, when people talk of lack of evidence, that we have two of the
strongest sorts of evidence in the world for the kind of religion which
least suits Mr. Muller's argument--(1) the undesigned coincidences of
testimony, (2) the irrefutable witness and sanction of elementary
criminal law.  Mr. Muller's own evidence is that much-disputed work,
where 'all men see what they want to see, as in the clouds,' and where
many see systematised fetichism--the Veda. {222}

The first step in Mr. Max Muller's polemic was the assertion that
Fetichism is nowhere unmixed.  We have seen that the fact is capable of
an interpretation that will suit either side.  Stages of culture overlap
each other.  The second step in his polemic was the effort to damage the
evidence.  We have seen that we have as good evidence as can be desired.
In the third place he asks, What are the antecedents of fetich-worship?
He appears to conceive himself to be arguing with persons (p. 127) who
'have taken for granted that every human being was miraculously endowed
with the concept of what forms the predicate of every fetich, call it
power, spirit, or god.'  If there are reasoners so feeble, they must be
left to the punishment inflicted by Mr. Muller.  On the other hand,
students who regard the growth of the idea of power, which is the
predicate of every fetish, as a slow process, as the result of various
impressions and trains of early half-conscious reasoning, cannot be
disposed of by the charge that they think that 'every human being was
miraculously endowed' with any concept whatever.  They, at least, will
agree with Mr. Max Muller that there are fetiches and fetiches, that to
one reverence is assigned for one reason, to another for another.
Unfortunately, it is less easy to admit that Mr. Max Muller has been
happy in his choice of ancient instances.  He writes (p. 99): 'Sometimes
a stock or a stone was worshipped because it was a forsaken altar or an
ancient place of judgment, sometimes because it marked the place of a
great battle or a murder, or the burial of a king.'  Here he refers to
Pausanias, book i. 28, 5, and viii. 13, 3. {223}  In both of these
passages, Pausanias, it is true, mentions stones--in the first passage
stones on which men stood [Greek], in the second, barrows heaped up in
honour of men who fell in battle.  In neither case, however, do I find
anything to show that the stones were worshipped.  These stones, then,
have no more to do with the argument than the milestones which certainly
exist on the Dover road, but which are not the objects of superstitious
reverence.  No! the fetich-stones of Greece were those which occupied the
holy of holies of the most ancient temples, the mysterious fanes within
dark cedar or cypress groves, to which men were hardly admitted.  They
were the stones and blocks which bore the names of gods, Hera, or Apollo,
names perhaps given, as De Brosses says, to the old fetichistic objects
of worship, _after_ the anthropomorphic gods entered Hellas.  This, at
least is the natural conclusion from the fact that the Apollo and Hera of
untouched wood or stone were confessedly the _oldest_.  Religion,
possessing an old fetich did not run the risk of breaking the run of luck
by discarding it, but wisely retained and renamed it.  Mr. Max Muller
says that the unhewn lump may indicate a higher power of abstraction than
the worship paid to the work of Phidias; but in that case all the savage
adorers of rough stones _may_ be in a stage of more abstract thought than
these contemporaries of Phidias who had such very hard work to make Greek
thought abstract.

Mr Muller founds a very curious argument on what he calls 'the ubiquity
of fetichism.'  Like De Brosses, he compiles (from Pausanias) a list of
the rude stones worshipped by the early Greeks.  He mentions various
examples of fetichistic superstitions in Rome.  He detects the fetichism
of popular Catholicism, and of Russian orthodoxy among the peasants.
Here, he cries, in religions the history of which is known to us,
fetichism is secondary, 'and why should fetiches in Africa, where we do
not know the earlier development of religion, be considered as primary?'
What a singular argument!  According to Pausanias, this fetichism (if
fetichism it is) _was_ primary, in Greece.  The _oldest_ temples, in
their holiest place, held the oldest fetich.  In Rome, it is at least
probable that fetichism, as in Greece, was partly a survival, partly a
new growth from the primal root of human superstitions.  As to
Catholicism, the records of Councils, the invectives of the Church, show
us that, from the beginning, the secondary religion in point of time, the
religion of the Church, laboured vainly to suppress, and had in part to
tolerate, the primary religion of childish superstitions.  The documents
are before the world.  As to the Russians, the history of their
conversion is pretty well known.  Jaroslaf, or Vladimir, or some other
evangelist, had whole villages baptized in groups, and the pagan peasants
naturally kept up their primary semi-savage ways of thought and worship,
under the secondary varnish of orthodoxy.  In all Mr. Max Muller's
examples, then, fetichism turns out to be _primary_ in point of time;
_secondary_ only, as subordinate to some later development of faith, or
to some lately superimposed religion.  Accepting his statement that
fetichism is ubiquitous, we have the most powerful a priori argument that
fetichism is primitive.  As religions become developed they are
differentiated; it only fetichism that you find the same everywhere.  Thus
the bow and arrow have a wide range of distribution: the musket, one not
so wide; the Martini-Henry rifle, a still narrower range: it is the
primitive stone weapons that are ubiquitous, that are found in the soil
of England, Egypt, America, France, Greece, as in the hands of Dieyries
and Admiralty Islanders.  And just as rough stone knives are earlier than
iron ones (though the same race often uses both), so fetichism is more
primitive than higher and purer faiths, though the same race often
combines fetichism and theism.  No one will doubt the truth of this where
weapons are concerned; but Mr. Max Muller will not look at religion in
this way.

Mr. Max Muller's remarks on 'Zoolatry,' as De Brosses calls it, or animal-
worship, require only the briefest comment.  De Brosses, very unluckily,
confused zoolatry with other superstitions under the head of Fetichism.
This was unscientific; but is it scientific of Mr. Max Muller to discuss
animal-worship without any reference to totemism?  The worship of sacred
animals is found, in every part of the globe, to be part of the sanction
of the most stringent and important of all laws, the laws of marriage.  It
is an historical truth that the society of Ashantees, Choctaws,
Australians, is actually constructed by the operation of laws which are
under the sanction of various sacred plants and animals. {226}  There is
scarcely a race so barbarous that these laws are not traceable at work in
its society, nor a people (especially an ancient people) so cultivated
that its laws and religion are not full of strange facts most easily
explained as relics of totemism.  Now note that actual living totemism is
always combined with the rudest ideas of marriage, with almost repulsive
ideas about the family.  Presumably, this rudeness is earlier than
culture, and therefore this form of animal-worship is one of the earliest
religions that we know.  The almost limitless distribution of the
phenomena, their regular development, their gradual disappearance, all
point to the fact that they are all very early and everywhere produced by
similar causes.

Of all these facts, Mr. Max Muller only mentions one--that many races
have called themselves Snakes, and he thinks they might naturally adopt
the snake for ancestor, and finally for god.  He quotes the remark of
Diodorus that 'the snake may either have been made a god because he was
figured on the banners, or may have been figured on the banners because
he was a god'; to which De Brosses, with his usual sense, rejoins--'we
represent saints on our banners because we revere them; we do not revere
them because we represent them on our banners.'

In a discussion about origins, and about the corruption of religion, it
would have been well to account for institutions and beliefs almost
universally distributed.  We know, what De Brosses did not, that zoolatry
is inextricably blent with laws and customs which surely must be early,
if not primitive, because they make the working faith of societies in
which male descent and the modern family are not yet established.  Anyone
who wishes to show that this sort of society is a late corruption, not an
early stage in evolution towards better things, has a difficult task
before him, which, however, he must undertake, before he can prove
zoolatry to be a corruption of religion.

As to the worship of ancestral and embodied human spirits, which (it has
been so plausibly argued) is the first moment in religion, Mr. Max Muller
dismisses it, here, in eleven lines and a half.  An isolated but
important allusion at the close of his lectures will be noticed in its

The end of the polemic against the primitiveness of fetichism deals with
the question, 'Whence comes the supernatural predicate of the fetich?'  If
a negro tells us his fetich is a god, whence got he the idea of 'god'?
Many obvious answers occur.  Mr. Muller says, speaking of the Indians (p.
205): 'The concept of _gods_ was no doubt growing up while men were
assuming a more and more definite attitude towards these semi-tangible
and intangible objects'--trees, rivers, hills, the sky, the sun, and so
on, which he thinks suggested and developed, by aid of a kind of awe, the
religious feeling of the infinite.  We too would say that, among people
who adore fetiches and ghosts, the concept of gods no doubt silently grew
up, as men assumed a more and more definite attitude towards the tangible
and intangible objects they held sacred.  Again, negroes have had the
idea of god imported among them by Christians and Islamites, so that,
even if they did not climb (as De Brosses grants that many of them do) to
purer religious ideas unaided, these ideas are now familiar to them, and
may well be used by them, when they have to explain a fetich to a
European.  Mr. Max Muller explains the origin of religion by a term ('the
Infinite ') which, he admits, the early people would not have
comprehended.  The negro, if he tells a white man that a fetich is a god,
transposes terms in the same unscientific way.  Mr. Muller asks, 'How do
these people, when they have picked up their stone or their shell, pick
up, at the same time, the concepts of a supernatural power, of spirit, of
god, and of worship paid to some unseen being?'  But who says that men
picked up these ideas _at the same time_?  These ideas were evolved by a
long, slow, complicated process.  It is not at all impossible that the
idea of a kind of 'luck' attached to this or that object, was evolved by
dint of meditating on a mere series of lucky accidents.  Such or such a
man, having found such an object, succeeded in hunting, fishing, or war.
By degrees, similar objects might be believed to command success.  Thus
burglars carry bits of coal in their pockets, 'for luck.'  This random
way of connecting causes and effects which have really no inter-relation,
is a common error of early reasoning.  Mr. Max Muller says that 'this
process of reasoning is far more in accordance with modern thought'; if
so, modern thought has little to be proud of.  Herodotus, however,
describes the process of thought as consecrated by custom among the
Egyptians.  But there are many other practical ways in which the idea of
supernatural power is attached to fetiches.  Some fetich-stones have a
superficial resemblance to other objects, and thus (on the magical system
of reasoning) are thought to influence these objects.  Others, again, are
pointed out as worthy of regard in dreams or by the ghosts of the dead.
{230}  To hold these views of the origin of the supernatural predicate of
fetiches is not 'to take for granted that every human being was
miraculously endowed with the concept of what forms the predicate of
every fetich.'

Thus we need not be convinced by Mr. Max Muller that fetichism (though it
necessarily has its antecedents in the human mind) is 'a corruption of
religion.'  It still appears to be one of the most primitive steps
towards the idea of the supernatural.

What, then, is the subjective element of religion in man?  How has he
become capable of conceiving of the supernatural?  What outward objects
first awoke that dormant faculty in his breast?  Mr. Max Muller answers,
that man has 'the faculty of apprehending the infinite'--that by dint of
this faculty he is capable of religion, and that sensible objects,
'tangible, semi-tangible, intangible,' first roused the faculty to
religious activity, at least among the natives of India.  He means,
however, by the 'infinite' which savages apprehend, not our metaphysical
conception of the infinite, but the mere impression that there is
'something beyond.'  'Every thing of which his senses cannot perceive a
limit, is to a primitive savage or to any man in an early stage of
intellectual activity _unlimited_ or _infinite_?  Thus, in all
experience, the idea of 'a beyond' is forced on men.  If Mr. Max Muller
would adhere to this theory, then we should suppose him to mean (what we
hold to be more or less true) that savage religion, like savage science,
is merely a fanciful explanation of what lies beyond the horizon of
experience.  For example, if the Australians mentioned by Mr. Max Muller
believe in a being who created the world, a being whom they do not
worship, and to whom they pay no regard (for, indeed, he has become
'decrepit'), their theory is scientific, not religious.  They have looked
for the causes of things, and are no more religious (in so doing) than
Newton was when he worked out his theory of gravitation.  The term
'infinite' is wrongly applied, because it is a term of advanced thought
used in explanation of the ideas of men who, Mr. Max Muller says, were
incapable of conceiving the meaning of such a concept.  Again, it is
wrongly applied, because it has some modern religious associations, which
are covertly and fallaciously introduced to explain the supposed emotions
of early men.  Thus, Mr. Muller says (p. 177)--he is giving his account
of the material things that awoke the religious faculty--'the mere sight
of the torrent or the stream would have been enough to call forth in the
hearts of the early dwellers on the earth . . . a feeling that they were
surrounded on all sides by powers invisible, infinite, or divine.'  Here,
if I understand Mr. Muller, 'infinite' is used in our modern sense.  The
question is, How did men ever come to believe in powers infinite,
invisible, divine?  If Mr. Muller's words mean anything, they mean that a
dormant feeling that there were such existences lay in the breast of man,
and was wakened into active and conscious life, by the sight of a torrent
or a stream.  How, to use Mr. Muller's own manner, did these people, when
they saw a stream, have mentally, at the same time, 'a feeling of
_infinite_ powers?'  If this is not the expression of a theory of 'innate
religion' (a theory which Mr. Muller disclaims), it is capable of being
mistaken for that doctrine by even a careful reader.  The feeling of
'powers infinite, invisible, divine,' _must_ be in the heart, or the mere
sight of a river could not call it forth.  How did the feeling get into
the heart?  That is the question.  The ordinary anthropologist
distinguishes a multitude of causes, a variety of processes, which shade
into each other and gradually produce the belief in powers invisible,
infinite, and divine.  What tribe is unacquainted with dreams, visions,
magic, the apparitions of the dead?  Add to these the slow action of
thought, the conjectural inferences, the guesses of crude metaphysics,
the theories of isolated men of religious and speculative genius.  By all
these and other forces manifold, that emotion of awe in presence of the
hills, the stars, the sea, is developed.  Mr. Max Muller cuts the matter
shorter.  The early inhabitants of earth saw a river, and the 'mere
sight' of the torrent called forth the feelings which (to us) seem to
demand ages of the operation of causes disregarded by Mr. Muller in his
account of the origin of Indian religion.

The mainspring of Mr. Muller's doctrine is his theory about 'apprehending
the infinite.'  Early religion, or at least that of India, was, in his
view, the extension of an idea of Vastness, a disinterested emotion of
awe. {233a}  Elsewhere, we think, early religion has been a development
of ideas of Force, an interested search, not for something wide and far
and hard to conceive, but for something practically _strong_ for good and
evil.  Mr. Muller (taking no count in this place of fetiches, ghosts,
dreams and magic) explains that the sense of 'wonderment' was wakened by
objects only semi-tangible, trees, which are _taller_ than we are, 'whose
roots are beyond our reach, and which have a kind of life in them.'  'We
are dealing with a quartenary, it may be a tertiary troglodyte,' says Mr.
Muller.  If a tertiary troglodyte was like a modern Andaman Islander, a
Kaneka, a Dieyrie, would he stand and meditate in awe on the fact that a
tree was taller than he, or had 'a kind of life,' 'an unknown and
unknowable, yet undeniable something'? {233b}  Why, this is the sentiment
of modern Germany, and perhaps of the Indian sages of a cultivated
period!  A troglodyte would look for a 'possum in the tree, he would tap
the trunk for honey, he would poke about in the bark after grubs, or he
would worship anything odd in the branches.  Is Mr. Muller not
unconsciously transporting a kind of modern malady of thought into the
midst of people who wanted to find a dinner, and who might worship a tree
if it had a grotesque shape, that, for them, had a magical meaning, or if
boilyas lived in its boughs, but whose practical way of dealing with the
problem of its life was to burn it round the stem, chop the charred wood
with stone axes, and use the bark, branches, and leaves as they happened
to come handy?

Mr. Muller has a long list of semi-tangible objects 'overwhelming and
overawing,' like the tree.  There are mountains, where 'even a stout
heart shivers before the real presence of the _infinite_'; there are
rivers, those instruments of so sudden a religious awakening; there is
earth.  These supply the material for semi-deities.  Then come sky,
stars, dawn, sun, and moon: 'in these we have the germs of what,
hereafter, we shall have to call by the name of deities.'

Before we can transmute, with Mr. Muller, these objects of a somewhat
vague religious regard into a kind of gods, we have to adopt Noire's
philological theories, and study the effects of auxiliary verbs on the
development of personification and of religion.  Noire's philological
theories are still, I presume, under discussion.  They are necessary,
however, to Mr. Muller's doctrine of the development of the vague 'sense
of the infinite' (wakened by fine old trees, and high mountains) into
devas, and of devas (which means 'shining ones') into the Vedic gods.  Our
troglodyte ancestors, and their sweet feeling for the spiritual aspect of
landscape, are thus brought into relation with the Rishis of the Vedas,
the sages and poets of a pleasing civilisation.  The reverence felt for
such comparatively refined or remote things as fire, the sun, wind,
thunder, the dawn, furnished a series of stepping-stones to the Vedic
theology, if theology it can be called.  It is impossible to give each
step in detail; the process must be studied in Mr. Muller's lectures.  Nor
can we discuss the later changes of faith.  As to the processes which
produced the fetichistic 'corruption' (that universal and everywhere
identical form of decay), Mr. Muller does not afford even a hint.  He
only says that, when the Indians found that their old gods were mere
names, 'they built out of the scattered bricks a new altar to the Unknown
God'--a statement which throws no light on the parasitical development of
fetichism.  But his whole theory is deficient if, having called fetichism
a _corruption_, he does not show how corruption arose, how it operated,
and how the disease attacked all religions everywhere.

We have contested, step by step, many of Mr. Muller's propositions.  If
space permitted, it would be interesting to examine the actual attitude
of certain contemporary savages, Bushmen and others, towards the sun.
Contemporary savages may be degraded, they certainly are not primitive,
but their _legends_, at least, are the oldest things they possess.  The
supernatural elements in their ideas about the sun are curiously unlike
those which, according to Mr. Muller, entered into the development of
Aryan religion.

The last remark which has to be made about Mr. Muller's scheme of the
development of Aryan religion is that the religion, as explained by him,
does not apparently aid the growth of society, nor work with it in any
way.  Let us look at a sub-barbaric society--say that of Zululand, of New
Zealand, of the Iroquois League, or at a savage society like that of the
Kanekas, or of those Australian tribes about whom we have very many
interesting and copious accounts.  If we begin with the Australians, we
observe that society is based on certain laws of marriage enforced by
capital punishment.  These laws of marriage forbid the intermixing of
persons belonging to the stock which worships this or that animal, or
plant.  Now this rule, as already observed, _made_ the 'gentile' system
(as Mr. Morgan erroneously calls it) the system which gradually reduces
tribal hostility, by making tribes homogeneous.  The same system (with
the religious sanction of a kind of zoolatry) is in force and has worked
to the same result, in Africa, Asia, America, and Australia, while a host
of minute facts make it a reasonable conclusion that it prevailed in
Europe.  Among these facts certain peculiarities of Greek and Roman and
Hindoo marriage law, Greek, Latin, and English tribal names, and a crowd
of legends are the most prominent. {236}  Mr. Max Muller's doctrine of
the development of Indian religion (while admitting the existence of
Snake or Naga tribes) takes no account of the action of this universal
zoolatry on religion and society.

After marriage and after tribal institutions, look at _rank_.  Is it not
obvious that the religious elements (magic and necromancy) left out of
his reckoning by Mr. Muller are most powerful in developing rank?  Even
among those democratic paupers, the Fuegians, 'the doctor-wizard of each
party has much influence over his companions.'  Among those other
democrats, the Eskimo, a class of wizards, called Angakuts, become 'a
kind of civil magistrates,' because they can cause fine weather, and can
magically detect people who commit offences.  Thus the germs of rank, in
these cases, are sown by the magic which is fetichism in action.  Try the
Zulus: 'the heaven is the chief's,' he can call up clouds and storms,
hence the sanction of his authority.  In New Zealand, every Rangatira has
a supernatural power.  If he touches an article, no one else dares to
appropriate it, for fear of terrible supernatural consequences.  A head
chief is 'tapued an inch thick, and perfectly unapproachable.'  Magical
power abides in and emanates from him.  By this superstition, an
aristocracy is formed, and property (the property, at least, of the
aristocracy) is secured.  Among the Red Indians, as Schoolcraft says,
'priests and jugglers are the persons that make war and have a voice in
the sale of the land.'  Mr. E. W. Robertson says much the same thing
about early Scotland.  If Odin was not a god with the gifts of a medicine-
man, and did not owe his chiefship to his talent for dealing with magic,
he is greatly maligned.  The Irish Brehons also sanctioned legal
decisions by magical devices, afterwards condemned by the Church.  Among
the Zulus, 'the Itongo (spirit) dwells with the great man; he who dreams
is the chief of the village.'  The chief alone can 'read in the vessel of
divination.'  The Kaneka chiefs are medicine-men.

Here then, in widely distant regions, in early European, American,
Melanesian, African societies, we find those factors in religion which
the primitive Aryans are said to have dispensed with, helping to
construct society, rank, property.  Is it necessary to add that the
ancestral spirits still 'rule the present from the past,' and demand
sacrifice, and speak to 'him who dreams,' who, therefore, is a strong
force in society, if not a chief?  Mr. Herbert Spencer, Mr. Tylor, M.
Fustel de Coulanges, a dozen others, have made all this matter of common
notoriety.  As Hearne the traveller says about the Copper River Indians,
'it is almost necessary that they who rule them should profess something
a little supernatural to enable them to deal with the people.'  The few
examples we have given show how widely, and among what untutored races,
the need is felt.  The rudimentary government of early peoples requires,
and, by aid of dreams, necromancy, 'medicine' (i.e. fetiches), tapu, and
so forth, obtains, a supernatural sanction.

Where is the supernatural sanction that consecrated the chiefs of a race
which woke to the sense of the existence of infinite beings, in face of
trees, rivers, the dawn, the sun, and had none of the so-called late and
corrupt fetichism that does such useful social work?

To the student of other early societies, Mr. Muller's theory of the
growth of Aryan religion seems to leave society without cement, and
without the most necessary sanctions.  One man is as good as another,
before a tree, a river, a hill.  The savage organisers of other societies
found out fetiches and ghosts that were 'respecters of persons.'  Zoolatry
is intertwisted with the earliest and most widespread law of prohibited
degrees.  How did the Hindoos dispense with the aid of these
superstitions?  Well, they did not quite dispense with them.  Mr. Max
Muller remarks, almost on his last page (376), that 'in India also . . .
the thoughts and feelings about those whom death had separated from us
for a time, supplied some of the earliest and most important elements of
religion.'  If this was the case, surely the presence of those elements
and their influence should have been indicated along with the remarks
about the awfulness of trees and the suggestiveness of rivers.  Is
nothing said about the spirits of the dead and their cult in the Vedas?
Much is said, of course.  But, were it otherwise, then other elements of
savage religion may also have been neglected there, and it will be
impossible to argue that fetichism did not exist because it is not
mentioned.  It will also be impossible to admit that the 'Hibbert
Lectures' give more than a one-sided account of the Origin of Indian

The perusal of Mr. Max Muller's book deeply impresses one with the
necessity of studying early religions and early societies simultaneously.
If it be true that early Indian religion lacked precisely those
superstitions, so childish, so grotesque, and yet so useful, which we
find at work in contemporary tribes, and which we read of in history, the
discovery is even more remarkable and important than the author of the
'Hibbert Lectures' seems to suppose.  It is scarcely necessary to repeat
that the negative evidence of the Vedas, the religious utterances of
sages, made in a time of what we might call 'heroic culture,' can never
disprove the existence of superstitions which, if current in the former
experience of the race, the hymnists, as Barth observes, would
intentionally ignore.  Our object has been to defend the 'primitiveness
of fetichism.'  By this we do not mean to express any opinion as to
whether fetichism (in the strictest sense of the word) was or was not
earlier than totemism, than the worship of the dead, or than the
involuntary sense of awe and terror with which certain vast phenomena may
have affected the earliest men.  We only claim for the powerful and
ubiquitous practices of fetichism a place _among_ the early elements of
religion, and insist that what is so universal has not yet been shown to
be 'a corruption' of something older and purer.

One remark of Mr. Max Muller's fortifies these opinions.  If fetichism be
indeed one of the earliest factors of faith in the supernatural; if it
be, in its rudest forms, most powerful in proportion to other elements of
faith among the least cultivated races (and _that_ Mr. Muller will
probably allow)--among what class of cultivated peoples will it longest
hold its ground?  Clearly, among the least cultivated, among the
fishermen, the shepherds of lonely districts, the peasants of outlying
lands--in short, among the _people_.  Neglected by sacred poets in the
culminating period of purity in religion, it will linger among the
superstitions of the rustics.  There is no real break in the continuity
of peasant life; the modern folklore is (in many points) the savage
ritual.  Now Mr. Muller, when he was minimising the existence of
fetichism in the Rig Veda (the oldest collection of hymns), admitted its
existence in the Atharvana (p. 60). {241}  On p. 151, we read 'the
Atharva-veda-Sanhita is a later collection, containing, besides a large
number of Rig Veda verses, _some curious relics of popular poetry
connected with charms, imprecations, and other superstitious usages_.'
The italics are mine, and are meant to emphasise this fact:--When we
leave the sages, the Rishis, and look at what is _popular_, look at what
that class believed which of savage practice has everywhere retained so
much, we are at once among the charms and the fetiches!  This is
precisely what one would have expected.  If the history of religion and
of mythology is to be unravelled, we must examine what the unprogressive
classes in Europe have in common with Australians, and Bushmen, and
Andaman Islanders.  It is the function of the people to retain in
folklore these elements of religion, which it is the high duty of the
sage and the poet to purify away in the fire of refining thought.  It is
for this very reason that _ritual_ has (though Mr. Max Muller curiously
says that it seems not to possess) an immense scientific interest.  Ritual
holds on, with the tenacity of superstition, to all that has ever been
practised.  Yet, when Mr. Muller wants to know about _origins_, about
actual ancient _practice_, he deliberately turns to that 'great
collection of ancient poetry' (the Rig Veda) 'which has no special
reference to sacrificial acts,' not to the Brahmanas which are full of

To sum up briefly:--(1) Mr. Muller's arguments against the evidence for,
and the primitiveness of, fetichism seem to demonstrate the opposite of
that which he intends them to prove.  (2) His own evidence for
_primitive_ practice is chosen from the documents of a _cultivated_
society.  (3) His theory deprives that society of the very influences
which have elsewhere helped the Tribe, the Family, Rank, and Priesthoods
to grow up, and to form the backbone of social existence.


What are the original forms of the human family?  Did man begin by being
monogamous or polygamous, but, in either case, the master of his own home
and the assured central point of his family relations?  Or were the
unions of the sexes originally shifting and precarious, so that the
wisest child was not expected to know his own father, and family ties
were reckoned through the mother alone?  Again (setting aside the
question of what was 'primitive' and 'original'), did the needs and
barbarous habits of early men lead to a scarcity of women, and hence to
polyandry (that is, the marriage of one woman to several men), with the
consequent uncertainty about male parentage?  Once more, admitting that
these loose and strange relations of the sexes do prevail, or have
prevailed, among savages, is there any reason to suppose that the
stronger races, the Aryan and Semitic stocks, ever passed through this
stage of savage customs?  These are the main questions debated between
what we may call the 'historical' and the 'anthropological' students of
ancient customs.

When Sir Henry Maine observed, in 1861, that it was difficult to say what
society of men had _not been_, originally, based on the patriarchal
family, he went, of course, outside the domain of history.  What occurred
in the very origin of human society is a question perhaps quite
inscrutable.  Certainly, history cannot furnish the answer.  Here the
anthropologist and physiologist come in with their methods, and even
those, we think, can throw but an uncertain light on the very 'origin' of
institutions, and on strictly primitive man.

For the purposes of this discussion, we shall here re-state the chief
points at issue between the adherents of Sir Henry Maine and of Mr.
M'Lennan, between historical and anthropological inquirers.

1.  Did man _originally_ live in the patriarchal family, or did he live
in more or less modified promiscuity, with uncertainty of blood-ties, and
especially of male parentage?

2.  Did circumstances and customs at some time compel or induce man
(whatever his _original_ condition) to resort to practices which made
paternity uncertain, and so caused kinship to be reckoned through women?

3.  Granting that some races have been thus reduced to matriarchal forms
of the family--that is, to forms in which the woman is the permanent
recognised centre--is there any reason to suppose that the stronger
peoples, like the Aryans and the Semites, ever passed through a stage of
culture in which female, not male, kinship was chiefly recognised,
probably as a result of polyandry, of many husbands to one wife?

On this third question, it will be necessary to produce much evidence of
very different sorts: evidence which, at best, can perhaps only warrant
an inference, or presumption, in favour of one or the other opinion.  For
the moment, the impartial examination of testimony is more important and
practicable than the establishment of any theory.

(1.)  Did man _originally_ live in the patriarchal family, the male being
master of his female mate or mates, and of his children?  On this first
point Sir Henry Maine, in his new volume, {247a} may be said to come as
near proving his case as the nature and matter of the question will
permit.  Bachofen, M'Lennan, and Morgan, all started from a hypothetical
state of more or less modified sexual promiscuity.  Bachofen's evidence
(which may be referred to later) was based on a great mass of legends,
myths, and travellers' tales, chiefly about early Aryan practices.  He
discovered Hetarismus, as he called it, or promiscuity, among Lydians,
Etruscans, Persians, Thracians, Cyrenian nomads, Egyptians, Scythians,
Troglodytes, Nasamones, and so forth.  Mr. M'Lennan's view is, perhaps,
less absolutely stated than Sir Henry Maine supposes.  M'Lennan says
{247b} 'that there has been a stage in the development of the human
races, when there was no such appropriation of women to particular men;
when, in short, marriage, _as it exists among civilised nations_, was not
practised.  Marriage, _in this sense_, was yet undreamt of.'  Mr.
M'Lennan adds (pp. 130, 131), 'as among other gregarious animals, the
unions of the sexes were probably, in the earliest times, loose,
transitory, and, _in some degree_, promiscuous.'

Sir Henry Maine opposes to Mr. M'Lennan's theory the statement of Mr.
Darwin: 'From all we know of the passions of all male quadrupeds,
promiscuous intercourse in a state of Nature is highly improbable.' {248}
On this first question, let us grant to Sir Henry Maine, to Mr. Darwin,
and to common sense that if the very earliest men were extremely animal
in character, their unions while they lasted were probably monogamous or
polygamous.  The sexual jealousy of the male would secure that result, as
it does among many other animals.  Let the first point, then, be scored
to Sir Henry Maine: let it be granted that if man was created perfect, he
lived in the monogamous family before the Fall: and that, if he was
evolved as an animal, the unchecked animal instincts would make for
monogamy or patriarchal polygamy in the strictly primitive family.

(2.)  Did circumstances and customs ever or anywhere compel or induce man
(whatever his original condition) to resort to practices which made
paternity uncertain, and so caused the absence of the patriarchal family,
kinship being reckoned through women?  If this question be answered in
the affirmative, and if the sphere of action of the various causes be
made wide enough, it will not matter much to Mr. M'Lennan's theory
whether the strictly primitive family was patriarchal or not.  If there
occurred a fall from the primitive family, and if that fall was extremely
general, affecting even the Aryan race, Mr. M'Lennan's adherents will be
amply satisfied.  Their object is to show that the family, even in the
Aryan race, was developed through a stage of loose savage connections.  If
that can be shown, they do not care much about primitive man properly so
called.  Sir Henry Maine admits, as a matter of fact, that among certain
races, in certain districts, circumstances have overridden the sexual
jealousy which secures the recognition of male parentage.  Where women
have been few, and where poverty has been great, jealousy has been
suppressed, even in the Venice of the eighteenth century.  Sir H. Maine
says, 'The usage' (that of polyandry--many husbands to a single wife)
'seems to me one which circumstances overpowering morality and decency
might at any time call into existence.  It is known to have arisen in the
native Indian army.'  The question now is, what are the circumstances
that overpower morality and decency, and so produce polyandry, with its
necessary consequences, when it is a recognised institution--the absence
of the patriarchal family, and the recognition of kinship through women?
Any circumstances which cause great scarcity of women will conduce to
those results.  Mr. M'Lennan's opinion was, that the chief cause of
scarcity of women has been the custom of female infanticide--of killing
little girls as bouches inutiles.  Sir Henry Maine admits that 'the cause
assigned by M'Lennan is a vera causa--it is capable of producing the
effects.' {249}  Mr. M'Lennan collected a very large mass of testimony to
prove the wide existence of this cause of paucity of women.  Till that
evidence is published, I can only say that it was sufficient, in Mr.
M'Lennan's opinion, to demonstrate the wide prevalence of the factor
which is the mainspring of his whole system. {250a}  How frightfully
female infanticide has prevailed in India, everyone may read in the
official reports of Col. M'Pherson, and other English authorities.  Mr.
Fison's 'Kamilaroi and Kurnai' contains some notable, though not to my
mind convincing, arguments on the other side.  Sir Henry Maine adduces
another cause of paucity of women: the wanderings of our race, and
expeditions across sea. {250b}  This cause would not, however, be
important enough to alter forms of kinship, where the invaders (like the
early English in Britain) found a population which they could conquer and
whose women they could appropriate.

Apart from any probable inferences that may be drawn from the presumed
practice of female infanticide, actual ascertained facts prove that many
races do not now live, or that recently they did not live, in the
patriarchal or modern family.  They live, or did live, in polyandrous
associations.  The Thibetans, the Nairs, the early inhabitants of Britain
(according to Caesar), and many other races, {251} as well as the
inhabitants of the Marquesas Islands, and the Iroquois (according to
Lafitau), practise, or have practised, polyandry.

We now approach the third and really important problem--(3.)  Is there
any reason to suppose that the stronger peoples, like the Aryans and the
Semites, ever passed through a stage of culture in which female, not
male, kinship was chiefly recognised, probably as a result of polyandry?

Now the nature of the evidence which affords a presumption that Aryans
have all passed through Australian institutions such as polyandry, is of
extremely varied character.  Much of it may undoubtedly be explained
away.  But such strength as the evidence has (which we do not wish to
exaggerate) is derived from its convergence to one point--namely, the
anterior existence of polyandry and the matriarchal family among Aryans
before and after the dawn of real history.

For the sake of distinctness we may here number the heads of the evidence
bearing on this question.  We have--

1.  The evidence of inference from the form of capture in bridal

2.  The evidence from exogamy: the law which forbids marriage between
persons of the same family name.

3.  The evidence from totemism--that is, the derivation of the family
name and crest or badge, from some natural object, plant or animal. {252}
Persons bearing the name may not intermarry, nor, as a rule, may they eat
the object from which they derive their family name and from which they
claim to be descended.

4.  The evidence from the gens of Rome, or [Greek] of ancient Greece, in
connection with Totemism.

5.  The evidence from myth and legend.

6.  The evidence from direct historical statements as to the prevalence
of the matriarchal family, and inheritance through the maternal line.

To take these various testimonies in their order, let us begin with

(1.)  The form of capture in bridal ceremonies.  That this form survived
in Sparta, Crete, in Hindoo law, in the traditions of Ireland, in the
popular rustic customs of Wales, is not denied.

If we hold, with Mr. M'Lennan, that scarcity of women (produced by female
infanticide or otherwise) is the cause of the habit of capturing wives,
we may see, in survivals of this ceremony of capture among Aryans, a
proof of early scarcity of women, and of probable polyandry.  But an
opponent may argue, like Mr. J. A. Farrer in 'Primitive Manners,' that
the ceremony of capture is mainly a concession to maiden modesty among
early races.  Here one may observe that the girls of savage tribes are
notoriously profligate and immodest about illicit connections.  Only
honourable marriage brings a blush to the cheek of these young persons.
This is odd, but, in the present state of the question, we cannot lean on
the evidence of the ceremony of capture.  We cannot demonstrate that it
is derived from a time when paucity of women made capture of brides
necessary.  Thus 'honours are easy' in this first deal.

(2.)  The next indication is very curious, and requires much more
prolonged discussion.  The custom of Exogamy was first noted and named by
Mr. M'Lennan.  Exogamy is the prohibition of marriage within the supposed
blood-kinship, as denoted by the family name.  Such marriage, among many
backward races, is reckoned incestuous, and is punishable by death.
Certain peculiarities in connection with the family name have to be noted
later.  Now, Sir Henry Maine admits that exogamy, as thus defined, exists
among the Hindoos.  'A Hindoo may not marry a woman belonging to the same
gotra, all members of the gotra being theoretically supposed to have
descended from the same ancestor.'  The same rule prevails in China.
'There are in China large bodies of related clansmen, each generally
bearing the same clan-name.  They are exogamous; no man will marry a
woman having the same clan-name with himself.'  It is admitted by Sir
Henry Maine that this wide prohibition of marriage was the early Aryan
rule, while advancing civilisation has gradually permitted marriage
within limits once forbidden.  The Greek Church now (according to Mr.
M'Lennan), and the Catholic Church in the past, forbade intermarriages
'as far as relationship could be known.'  The Hindoo rule appears to go
still farther, and to prohibit marriage as far as the common gotra name
seems merely to indicate relationship.

As to the ancient Romans, Plutarch says: Formerly they did not marry
women connected with them by blood, any more than they now marry aunts or
sisters.  It was long before they would even intermarry with cousins.'
Plutarch also remarks that, in times past, Romans did not marry [Greek],
and if we may render this 'women of the same gens,' the exogamous
prohibition in Rome was as complete as among the Hindoos.  I do not quite
gather from Sir Henry Maine's account of the Slavonic house communities
(pp. 254, 255) whether they dislike _all_ kindred marriages, or only
marriage within the 'greater blood'--that is, within the kinship on the
male side.  He says: 'The South Slavonians bring their wives into the
group, in which they are socially organised, from a considerable distance
outside. . . .  Every marriage which requires an ecclesiastical
dispensation is regarded as disreputable.'

On the whole, wide prohibitions of marriage are archaic: the widest are
savage; the narrowest are modern and civilised.  Thus the Hindoo
prohibition is old, barbarous, and wide.  'The barbarous Aryan,' says Sir
Henry Maine, 'is generally exogamous.  He has a most extensive table of
prohibited degrees.'  Thus exogamy seems to be a survival of barbarism.
The question for us is, Can we call exogamy a survival from a period when
(owing to scarcity of women and polyandry) clear ideas of kinship were
impossible?  If this can be proved, exogamous Aryans either passed
through polyandrous institutions, or borrowed a savage custom derived
from a period when ideas of kinship were obscure.

If we only knew the origin of the prohibition to marry within the family
name all would be plain sailing.  At present several theories of the
origin of exogamy are before the world.  Mr. Morgan, the author of
'Ancient Society,' inclines to trace the prohibition to a great early
physiological discovery, acted on by primitive men by virtue of a contrat
social.  Early man discovered that children of unsound constitutions were
born of nearly related parents.  Mr. Morgan says: 'Primitive men very
early discovered the evils of close interbreeding.'  Elsewhere Mr. Morgan
writes: 'Intermarriage in the gens was prohibited, to secure the benefits
of marrying out with unrelated persons.'  This arrangement was 'a product
of high intelligence,' and Mr. Morgan calls it a 'reform.'

Let us examine this very curious theory.  First: Mr. Morgan supposes
early man to have made a discovery (the evils of the marriage of near
kin) which evades modern physiological science.  Modern science has not
determined that the marriages of kinsfolk are pernicious.  Is it credible
that savages should discover a fact which puzzles science?  It may be
replied that modern care, nursing, and medical art save children of near
marriages from results which were pernicious to the children of early
man.  Secondly: Mr. Morgan supposes that barbarous man (so notoriously
reckless of the morrow as he is), not only made the discovery of the
evils of interbreeding, but acted on it with promptitude and self-denial.
Thirdly: Mr. Morgan seems to require, for the enforcement of the
exogamous law, a contrat social.  The larger communities meet, and divide
themselves into smaller groups, within which wedlock is forbidden.  This
'social pact' is like a return to the ideas of Rousseau.  Fourthly: The
hypothesis credits early men with knowledge and discrimination of near
degrees of kin, which they might well possess if they lived in
patriarchal families.  But it represents that they did not act on their
knowledge.  Instead of prohibiting marriage between parents and children,
cousins, nephews and aunts, uncles and nieces, they prohibited marriage
within the limit of the name of the kin.  This is still the Hindoo rule,
and, if the Romans really might not at one time marry within the gens, it
was the Roman rule.  Now observe, this rule fails to effect the very
purpose for which ex hypothesi it was instituted.  Where the family name
goes by the male side, marriages between cousins are permitted, as in
India and China.  These are the very marriages which some theorists now
denounce as pernicious.  But, if the family name goes by the female side,
marriages between half-brothers and half-sisters are permitted, as in
ancient Athens and among the Hebrews of Abraham's time.  Once more, the
exogamous prohibition excludes, in China, America, Africa, Australia,
persons who are in no way akin (according to our ideas) from
intermarriage.  Thus Mr. Doolittle writes: {256} 'Males and females of
the same surname will never intermarry in China.  Cousins who have not
the same ancestral surname may intermarry.  Though the ancestors of
persons of the same surname have not known each other for thousands of
years, they may not intermarry.'  The Hindoo gotra rule produces the same

For all these reasons, and because of the improbability of the
physiological discovery, and of the moral 'reform' which enforced it; and
again, because the law is not of the sort which people acquainted with
near degrees of kinship would make; and once more, because the law fails
to effect its presumed purpose, while it does attain ends at which it
does not aim--we cannot accept Mr. Morgan's suggestion as to the origin
of exogamy.  Mr. M'Lennan did not live to publish a subtle theory of the
origin of exogamy, which he had elaborated.  In 'Studies in Ancient
History,' he hazarded a conjecture based on female infanticide:--

   'We believe the restrictions on marriage to be connected with the
   practice in early times of female infanticide, which, rendering women
   scarce, led at once to polyandry within the tribe, and the capturing
   of women from without. . . .  Hence the cruel custom which, leaving
   the primitive human hordes with very few young women of their own,
   occasionally with none, and in any case seriously disturbing the
   balance of the sexes within the hordes, forces them to prey upon one
   another for wives.  Usage, induced by necessity, would in time
   establish a prejudice among the tribes observing it, a prejudice
   strong as a principle of religion--as every prejudice relating to
   marriage is apt to be--against marrying women of their own stock.'

Mr. M'Lennan describes his own hypothesis as 'a suggestion thrown out at
what it was worth.' {258}  In his later years, as we have said, he
developed a very subtle and ingenious theory of the origin of exogamy,
still connecting it with scarcity of women, but making use of various
supposed stages and processes in the development of the law.  That
speculation remains unpublished.  To myself, the suggestion given in
'Studies in Ancient History' seems inadequate.  I find it difficult to
conceive that the frequent habit of stealing women should indispose men
to marry the native women they had at hand.  That this indisposition
should grow into a positive law, and the infringement of the law be
regarded as a capital offence, seems still more inconceivable.  My own
impression is, that exogamy may be connected with some early superstition
or idea of which we have lost the touch, and which we can no longer

Thus far, the consideration of exogamy has thrown no clear light on the
main question--the question whether the customs of civilised races
contain relics of female kinship.  On Sir Henry Maine's theory of
exogamy, that Aryan custom is unconnected with female kinship, polyandry,
and scarcity of women.  On Mr. M'Lennan's theory, exogamy is the result
of scarcity of women, and implies polyandry and female kinship.  But
neither theory has seemed satisfactory.  Yet we need not despair of
extracting some evidence from exogamy, and that evidence, on the whole,
is in favour of Mr. M'Lennan's general hypothesis.  (1.) The exogamous
prohibition must have first come into force _when kinship was only
reckoned on one side of the family_.  This is obvious, whether we suppose
it to have arisen in a society which reckoned by male or by female
kinship.  In the former case, the law only prohibits marriage with
persons of the father's, in the second case with persons of the mother's,
family name, and these only it recognises as kindred.  (2.) Our second
point is much more important.  The exogamous prohibition must first have
come into force _when kinship was so little understood that it could best
be denoted by the family name_.  This would be self-evident, if we could
suppose the prohibition to be intended to prevent marriages of relations.
Had the authors of the prohibition been acquainted with the nature of
near kinships, they would simply (as we do) have forbidden marriage
between persons in those degrees.  The very nature of the prohibition, on
the other hand, shows that kinship was understood in a manner all unlike
our modern system.  The limit of kindred was everywhere the family name:
a limit which excludes many real kinsfolk and includes many who are not
kinsfolk at all.  In Australia especially, and in America, India, and
Africa, to a slighter extent, that definition of kindred by the family
name actually includes alligators, smoke, paddy melons, rain, crayfish,
sardines, and what you please. {259}  Will anyone assert, then, that
people among whom the exogamous prohibition arose were organised on the
system of the patriarchal family, which permits the nature of kinship to
be readily understood at a glance?  Is it not plain that the exogamous
prohibition (confessedly Aryan) must have arisen in a stage of culture
when ideas of kindred were confused, included kinship with animals and
plants, and were to us almost, if not quite, unintelligible?  It is even
possible, as Mr. M'Lennan says, {260} 'that the prejudice against
marrying women of the same group may have been established _before the
facts of blood relationship had made any deep impression on the human
mind_.'  How the exogamous prohibition tends to confirm this view will
next be set forth in our consideration of _Totemism_.

The Evidence from Totemism.--Totemism is the name for the custom by which
a stock (scattered through many local tribes) claims descent from and
kindred with some plant, animal, or other natural object.  This object,
of which the effigy is sometimes worn as a badge or crest, members of the
stock refuse to eat.  As a general rule, marriage is prohibited between
members of the stock--between all, that is, who claim descent from the
same object and wear the same badge.  The exogamous limit, therefore, is
denoted by the stock-name and crest, and kinship is kinship in the wolf,
bear, potato, or whatever other object is recognised as the original
ancestor.  Finally, as a general rule, the stock-name is derived through
the mother, and where it is derived through the father there are proofs
that the custom is comparatively modern.  It will be acknowledged that
this sort of kindred, which is traced to a beast, bird, or tree, which is
recognised in every person bearing the same stock-name, which is counted
through females, and which governs marriage customs, is not the sort of
kindred which would naturally arise among people regulated on the
patriarchal or monandrous family system.  Totemism, however, is a
widespread institution prevailing all over the north of the American
continent, also in Peru (according to Garcilasso de la Vega); in Guiana
(the negroes have brought it from the African Gold Coast, where it is in
full force, as it also is among the Bechuanas); in India among Hos,
Garos, Kassos, and Oraons; in the South Sea Islands, where it has left
strong traces in Mangaia; in Siberia, and especially in the great island
continent of Australia.  The Semitic evidences for totemism
(animal-worship, exogamy, descent claimed through females) are given by
Professor Robertson Smith, in the 'Journal of Philology,' ix. 17, 'Animal
Worship and Animal Tribes among the Arabs, and in the Old Testament.'
Many other examples of totemism might be adduced (especially from Egypt),
but we must restrict ourselves to the following questions:--

(1.)  What light is thrown on the original form of the family by
totemism?  (2.) Where we find survivals of totemism among civilised
races, may we conclude that these races (through scarcity of women) had
once been organised on other than the patriarchal model?

As to the first question, we must remember that the origin and
determining causes of totemism are still unknown.  Mr. M'Lennan's theory
of the origin of totemism has never been published.  It may be said
without indiscretion that Mr. M'Lennan thought totemism arose at a period
when ideas of kinship scarcely existed at all.  'Men only thought of
marking one off from another,' as Garcilasso de la Vega says: the totem
was but a badge worn by all the persons who found themselves existing in
close relations; perhaps in the same cave or set of caves.  People united
by contiguity, and by the blind sentiment of kinship not yet brought into
explicit consciousness, might mark themselves by a badge, and might
thence derive a name, and, later, might invent a myth of their descent
from the object which the badge represented.  I do not know whether it
has been observed that the totems are, as a rule, objects which may be
easily drawn or tattooed, and still more easily indicated in
gesture-language.  Some interesting facts will be found in the 'First
Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology,' p. 458 (Washington, 1881).
Here we read how the 'Crow' tribe is indicated in sign-language by 'the
hands held out on each side, striking the air in the manner of flying.'
The Bunaks (another bird tribe) are indicated by an imitation of the cry
of the bird.  In mentioning the Snakes, the hand imitates the crawling
motion of the serpent, and the fingers pointed up behind the ear denote
the Wolves.  Plainly names of the totem sort are well suited to the
convenience of savages, who converse much in gesture-language.  Above
all, the very nature of totemism shows that it took its present shape at
a time when men, animals, and plants were conceived of as physically
akin; when names were handed on through the female line; when exogamy was
the rule of marriage, and when the family theoretically included all
persons bearing the same family name, that is, all who claimed kindred
with the same plant, animal, or object, whether the persons are really
akin or not.  These ideas and customs are not the ideas natural to men
organised in the patriarchal family.

The second question now arises: Can we infer from survivals of totemism
among Aryans that these Aryans had once been organised on the full
totemistic principle, probably with polyandry, and certainly with female
descent?  Where totemism now exists in full force, there we find exogamy
and derivation of the family name through women, the latter custom
indicating uncertainty of male parentage in the past.  Are we to believe
that the same institutions have existed wherever we find survivals of
totemism?  If this be granted, and if the supposed survivals of totemism
among Aryans be accepted as genuine, then the Aryans have distinctly come
through a period of kinship reckoned through women, with all that such an
institution implies.  For indications that the Aryans of Greece and India
have passed through the stage of totemism, the reader may be referred to
Mr. M'Lennan's 'Worship of Plants and Animals' ('Fortnightly Review,'
1869, 1870).  The evidence there adduced is not all of the same value,
and the papers are only a hasty rough sketch based on the first
testimonies that came to hand.  Probably the most important 'survival' of
totemism in Greek legend is the body of stories about the amours of Zeus
in animal form.  Various noble houses traced their origin to Zeus or
Apollo, who, as a bull, tortoise, serpent, swan, or ant, had seduced the
mother of the race.  The mother of the Arcadians became a she-bear, like
the mother of the bear stock of the Iroquois.  As we know plenty of races
all over the world who trace their descent from serpents, tortoises,
swans, and so forth, it is a fair hypothesis that the ancestors of the
Greeks once believed in the same fables.  In later times the swan,
serpent, ant, or tortoise was explained as an avatar of Zeus.  The
process by which an anthropomorphic god or hero succeeds to the exploits
of animals, of theriomorphic gods and heroes, is the most common in
mythology, and is illustrated by actual practice in modern India.  When
the Brahmins convert a pig-worshipping tribe of aboriginals, they tell
their proselytes that the pig was an avatar of Vishnu.  The same process
is found active where the Japanese have influenced the savage Ainos, and
persuaded them that their bear- or dog-father was a manifestation of a
deity.  We know from Plutarch ('Theseus') that, in addition to families
claiming descent from divine animals, one Athenian [Greek], the Ioxidae,
revered an ancestral plant, the asparagus.  A vaguer indication of
totemism may perhaps be detected in the ancient theriomorphic statues of
Greek gods, as the Ram-Zeus and the Horse-headed Demeter, and in the
various animals and plants which were sacred to each god and represented
as his companions.

The hints of totemism among the ancient Irish are interesting.  One hero,
Conaire, was the son of a bird, and before his birth his father (the
bird) told the woman (his mother) that the child must never eat the flesh
of fowls.  'Thy son shall be named Conaire, and that son shall not kill
birds.' {265a}  The hero Cuchullain, being named after the dog, might not
eat the flesh of the dog, and came by his ruin after transgressing this
totemistic taboo.  Races named after animals were common in ancient
Ireland.  The red-deer and the wolves were tribes dwelling near Ossory,
and Professor Rhys, from the frequency of dog names, inclines to believe
in a dog totem in Erin.  According to the ancient Irish 'Wonders of Eri,'
in the 'Book of Glendaloch,' 'the descendants of the wolf are in Ossory,'
and they could still transform themselves into wolves. {265b}  As to our
Anglo-Saxon ancestors, there is little evidence beyond the fact that the
patronymic names of many of the early settlements of Billings, Arlings,
and the rest, are undeniably derived from animals and plants.  The manner
in which those names are scattered locally is precisely like what results
in America, Africa, and Australia from the totemistic organisation.
{265c}  In Italy the ancient custom by which animals were the leaders of
the Ver sacrum or armed migration is well known.  The Piceni had for
their familiar animal or totem (if we may call it so) a woodpecker; the
Hirpini were like the 'descendants of the wolf' in Ossory, and practised
a wolf-dance in which they imitated the actions of the animal.

Such is a summary of the evidence which shows that Aryans had once been
totemists, therefore savages, and therefore, again, had probably been in
a stage when women were scarce and each woman had many husbands.

Evidence from the Gens or [Greek].--There is no more puzzling topic in
the history of the ancient world than the origin and nature of the
community called by the Romans the gens, and by the Greeks the [Greek].
To the present writer it seems that no existing community of men, neither
totem kin, nor clan, nor house community, nor gotra, precisely answers to
the gens or the [Greek].  Our information about these forms of society is
slight and confused.  The most essential thing to notice for the moment
is the fact that both in Greece and Rome the [Greek] and gens were
extremely ancient, so ancient that the [Greek] was decaying in Greece
when history begins, while in Rome we can distinctly see the rapid
decadence and dissolution of the gens.  In the Laws of the Twelve Tables,
the gens is a powerful and respected corporation.  In the time of Cicero
the nature of the gens is a matter but dimly understood.  Tacitus begins
to be confused about the gentile nomenclature.  In the Empire gentile law
fades away.  In Greece, especially at Athens, the early political reforms
transferred power from the [Greek] to a purely local organisation, the
Deme.  The Greek of historical times did not announce his [Greek] in his
name (as the Romans always did), but gave his own name, that of his
father, and that of his deme.  Thus we may infer that in Greek and Roman
society the [Greek] and gens were dying, not growing, organisations.  In
very early times it is probable that foreign gentes were adopted en bloc
into the Roman Commonwealth.  Very probably, too, a great family, on
entering the Roman bond, may have assumed, by a fiction, the character
and name of a gens.  But that Roman society in historical times, or that
Greek society, could evolve a new gens or [Greek] in a normal natural
way, seems excessively improbable.

Keeping in mind the antique and 'obsolescent' character of the gens and
[Greek], let us examine the theories of the origin of these associations.
The Romans themselves knew very little about the matter.  Cicero quotes
the dictum of Scaevola the Pontifex, according to which the gens
consisted of _all persons of the same gentile name_ who were not in any
way disqualified. {267}  Thus, in America, or Australia, or Africa, all
persons bearing the same totem name belong to that totem kin.  Festus
defines members of a gens as persons of the same stock and same family
name.  Varro says (in illustration of the relationships of words and
cases) 'Ab AEmilio homines orti AEmilii sunt gentiles.'  The two former
definitions answer to the conception of a totem kin, which is united by
its family name and belief in identity of origin.  Varro adds the
element, in the Roman gens, of common descent from one male ancestor.
Such was the conception of the gens in historical times.  It was in its
way an association of kinsfolk, real or supposed.  According to the Laws
of the Twelve Tables the gentiles inherited the property of an intestate
man without agnates, and had the custody of lunatics in the same
circumstances.  The gens had its own sacellum or chapel, and its own
sacra or religious rites.  The whole gens occasionally went into mourning
when one of its members was unfortunate.  It would be interesting if it
could be shown that the sacra were usually examples of ancestor-worship,
but the faint indications on the subject scarcely permit us to assert

On the whole, Sir Henry Maine strongly clings to the belief that the gens
commonly had 'a real core of agnatic consanguinity from the very first.'
But he justly recognises the principle of imitation, which induces men to
copy any fashionable institution.  Whatever the real origin of the gens,
many gentes were probably copies based on the fiction of common ancestry.

On Sir Henry Maine's system, then, the gens rather proves the constant
existence of recognised male descents among the peoples where it exists.

The opposite theory of the gens is that to which Mr. M'Lennan inclined.
'The composition and organisation of Greek and Roman tribes and
commonwealths cannot well be explained except on the hypothesis that they
resulted from the joint operation, in early times, of exogamy, and the
system of kinship through females only.' {268}  'The gens', he adds, 'was
composed of all the persons in the tribe bearing the same name and
accounted of the same stock.  Were the gentes really of different stocks,
as their names would imply and as the people believed?  If so, how came
clans of different stocks to be united in the same tribe? . . .  How came
a variety of such groups, of different stocks, to coalesce in a local
tribe?'  These questions, Mr. M'Lennan thought, could not be answered on
the patriarchal hypothesis.  His own theory, or rather his theory as
understood by the present writer, may be stated thus.  In the earliest
times there were homogeneous groups, which became, totem kin.  Let us say
that, in a certain district, there were groups called woodpeckers,
wolves, bears, suns, swine, each with its own little territory.  These
groups were exogamous, and derived the name through the mother.  Thus, in
course of time, when sun men married a wolf girl, and her children were
wolves, there would be wolves in the territory of the suns, and thus each
stock would be scattered through all the localities, just as we see in
Australia and America.  Let us suppose that (as certainly is occurring in
Australia and America) paternal descent comes to be recognised in custom.
This change will not surprise Sir Henry Maine, who admits that a system
of male may alter, under stress of circumstances, to a system of female
descents.  In course of time, and as knowledge and common sense advance,
the old superstition of descent from a woodpecker, a bear, a wolf, the
sun, or what not, becomes untenable.  A human name is assumed by the
group which had called itself the woodpeckers or the wolves, or perhaps
by a local tribe in which several of these stocks are included.  Then a
fictitious human ancestor is adopted, and perhaps even adored.  Thus the
wolves might call themselves Claudii, from their chief's name, and,
giving up belief in descent from a wolf, might look back to a fancied
ancestor named Claudius.  The result of these changes will be that an
exogamous totem kin, with female descent, has become a gens, with male
kinship, and only the faintest trace of exogamy.  An example of somewhat
similar processes must have occurred in the Highland clans after the
introduction of Christianity, when the chief's Christian name became the
patronymic of the people who claimed kinship with him and owned his sway.

Are there any traces at all of totemism in what we know of the Roman
gentes?  Certainly the traces are very slight; perhaps they are only
visible to the eye of the intrepid anthropologist.  I give them for what
they are worth, merely observing that they do tally, as far as they go,
with the totemistic theory.  The reader interested in the subject may
consult the learned Streinnius's 'De Gentibus Romanis,' p. 104 (Aldus,
Venice, 1591).

Among well-known savage totems none is more familiar than the sun.  Men
claim descent from the sun, call themselves by his name, and wear his
effigy as a badge. {270}  Were there suns in Rome?  The Aurelian gens is
thus described on the authority of Festus Pompeius:--'The Aurelii were of
Sabine descent.  The Aurelii were so named from the sun (aurum, urere,
the burning thing), because a place was set apart for them in which to
pay adoration to the sun.'  Here, at least, is an odd coincidence.  Among
other gentile names, the Fabii, Cornelii, Papirii, Pinarii, Cassii, are
possibly connected with plants; while wild etymology may associate
Porcii, Aquilii, and Valerii with swine and eagles.  Pliny ('H. N.'
xviii. 3) gives a fantastic explanation of the vegetable names of Roman
gentes.  We must remember that vegetable names are very common in
American, Indian, African, and Australian totem kin.  Of sun names the
Natchez and the Incas of Peru are familiar examples.  Turning from Rome
to Greece, we find the [Greek] less regarded and more decadent than the
gens.  Yet, according to Grote (iii. 54) the [Greek] had--(l) sacra, 'in
honour of the same god, supposed to be the primitive ancestor.'  (2) A
common burial-place.  (3) Certain rights of succession to property.  (4)
Obligations of mutual help and defence.  (5) Mutual rights and
obligations to intermarry in certain cases.  (6) Occasionally possession
of common property.

Traces of the totem among the Greek [Greek] are, naturally, few.  Almost
all the known [Greek] bore patronymics derived from personal names.  But
it is not without significance that the Attic demes often adopted the
names of obsolescent [Greek], and that those names were, as Mr. Grote
says, often 'derived from the plants and shrubs which grew in their
neighbourhood.'  We have already seen that at least one Attic [Greek],
the Ioxidae, revered the plant from which they derived their lineage.  One
thing is certain, the totem names, and a common explanation of the totem
names in Australia, correspond with the names and Mr. Grote's explanation
of the names of the Attic demes.  'One origin of family names,' says Sir
George Grey (ii. 228), 'frequently ascribed by the natives, is that they
were derived from some vegetable or animal being common in the district
which the family inhabited.'  Some writers attempt to show that the Attic
[Greek] was once exogamous and counted kin on the mother's side, by
quoting the custom which permitted a man to marry his half-sister, the
child of his father but not of his mother.  They infer that this
permission is a survival from the time when a man's _father's_ children
were not reckoned as his kindred, and when kinship was counted through
mothers.  Sir Henry Maine (p. 105) prefers M. Fustel De Coulanges'
theory, that the marriage of half-brothers and sisters on the father's
side was intended to save the portion of the girl to the family estate.
Proof of this may be adduced from examination of all the recorded cases
of such marriages in Athens.  But the reason thus suggested would have
equally justified marriage between brothers and sisters on both sides,
and this was reckoned incest.  A well-known line in Aristophanes shows
how intense was Athenian feeling about the impiety of relations with a
sister uterine.

On the whole, the evidence which we have adduced tends to establish some
links between the ancient [Greek] and gens, and the totem kindreds of
savages.  The indications are not strong, but they all point in one
direction.  Considering the high civilisation of Rome and Greece at the
very dawn of history--considering the strong natural bent of these
peoples toward refinement--it is almost remarkable that even the slight
testimonies we have been considering should have survived.

(5.)  On the evidence from myth and legend we propose to lay little
stress.  But, as legends were not invented by anthropologists to prove a
point, it is odd that the traditions of Athens, as preserved by Varro,
speak of a time when names were derived from the mother, and when
promiscuity prevailed.  Marriage itself was instituted by Cecrops, the
serpent, just as the lizard, in Australia, is credited with this useful
invention. {273a}  Similar legends among non-Aryan races, Chinese and
Egyptian, are very common.

(6.)  There remains the evidence of actual fact and custom among Aryan
peoples.  The Lycians, according to Herodotus, 'have this peculiar
custom, _wherein they resemble no other men_, they derive their names
from their mothers, and not from their fathers, and through mothers
reckon their kin.'  Status also was derived through the mothers. {273b}
The old writer's opinion that the custom (so common in Australia,
America, and Africa) was unique, is itself a proof of his good faith.
Bachofen (p. 390) remarks that several Lycian inscriptions give the names
of mothers only.  Polybius attributes (assigning a fantastic reason) the
same custom of counting kin through mothers to the Locrians. {273c}  The
British and Irish custom of deriving descents through women is well
known, {273d} and a story is told to account for the practice.  The
pedigrees of the British kings show that most did not succeed to their
fathers, and the various records of early Celtic morals go to prove that
no other system of kinship than the maternal would have possessed any
value, so uncertain was fatherhood.  These are but hints of the
prevalence of institutions which survived among Teutonic races in the
importance attached to the relationship of a man's sister's son.  Though
no longer his legal heir, the sister's son was almost closer than any
other kinsman.

We have now summarised and indicated the nature of the evidence which, on
the whole, inclines us to the belief of Mr. M'Lennan rather than of Sir
Henry Maine.  The point to which all the testimony adduced converges, the
explanation which most readily solves all the difficulties, is the
explanation of Mr. M'Lennan.  The Aryan races have very generally passed
through the stage of scarcity of women, polyandry, absence of recognised
male kinship, and recognition of kinship through women.  What Sir Henry
Maine admits as the exception, we are inclined to regard as having, in a
very remote past, been the rule.  No one kind of evidence--neither traces
of marriage by capture, of exogamy, of totemism, of tradition, of noted
fact among Lycians and Picts and Irish--would alone suffice to guide our
opinion in this direction.  But the cumulative force of the testimony
strikes us as not inconsiderable, and it must be remembered that the
testimony has not yet been assiduously collected.

Let us end by showing how this discussion illustrates the method of
Folklore.  We have found anomalies among Aryans.  We have seen the gens
an odd, decaying institution.  We have seen Greek families claim descent
from various animals, said to be Zeus in disguise.  We have found them
tracing kinship and deriving names from the mother.  We have found stocks
with animal and vegetable names.  We have found half-brothers and sisters
marrying.  We have noted prohibition to marry anyone of the same family
name.  All these institutions are odd, anomalous, decaying things among
Aryans, and the more civilised the Aryans the more they decay.  All of
them are living, active things among savages, and, far from being
anomalous, are in precise harmony with savage notions of the world.
Surely, then, where they seem decaying and anomalous, as among Aryans,
these customs and laws are mouldering relics of ideas and practices
natural and inevitable among savages.


'Avoid Coleridge, he is _useless_,' says Mr. Ruskin.  Why should the
poetry of Coleridge be useful?  The question may interest the critic, but
we are only concerned with Mr. Ruskin here, for one reason.  His
disparagement of Coleridge as 'useless' is a survival of the belief that
art should be 'useful.'  This is the savage's view of art.  He imitates
nature, in dance, song, or in plastic art, for a definite practical
purpose.  His dances are magical dances, his images are made for a
magical purpose, his songs are incantations.  Thus the theory that art is
a disinterested expression of the imitative faculty is scarcely warranted
by the little we know of art's beginnings.  We shall adopt,
provisionally, the hypothesis that the earliest art with which we are
acquainted is that of savages contemporary or extinct.  Some philosophers
may tell us that all known savages are only degraded descendants of early
civilised men who have, unluckily and inexplicably, left no relics of
their civilisation.  But we shall argue on the opposite theory, that the
art of Australians, for example, is really earlier in kind, more
backward, nearer the rude beginnings of things, than the art of people
who have attained to some skill in pottery, like the New Caledonians.
These, again, are much more backward, in a state really much earlier,
than the old races of Mexico and Peru; while they, in turn, show but a
few traces of advance towards the art of Egypt; and the art of Egypt, at
least after the times of the Ancient Empire, is scarcely advancing in the
direction of the flawless art of Greece.  We shall be able to show how
savage art, as of the Australians, develops into barbarous art, as of the
New Zealanders; while the arts of strange civilisations, like those of
Peru and Mexico, advance one step further; and how, again, in the early
art of Greece, in the Greek art of ages prior to Pericles, there are
remains of barbaric forms which are gradually softened into beauty.  But
there are necessarily breaks and solutions of continuity in the path of

One of the oldest problems has already risen before us in connection with
the question stated--is art the gratification of the imitative faculty?
Now, among the lowest, the most untutored, the worst equipped savages of
contemporary races, art is rather decorative on the whole than imitative.
The patterns on Australian shields and clubs, the scars which they raise
on their own flesh by way of tattooing, are very rarely imitations of any
objects in nature.  The Australians, like the Red Indians, like many
African and some aboriginal Indian races, Peruvians, and others,
distinguish their families by the names of various plants and animals,
from which each family boasts its descent.  Thus you have a family called
Kangaroos, descended, as they fancy, from the kangaroo; another from the
cockatoo, another from the black snake, and so forth.  Now, in many
quarters of the globe, this custom and this superstition, combined with
the imitative faculty in man, has produced a form of art representing the
objects from which the families claim descent.  This art is a sort of
rude heraldry--probably the origin of heraldry.  Thus, if a Red Indian
(say a Delaware) is of the family of the Turtle, he blazons a turtle on
his shield or coat, probably tattoos or paints his breast with a figure
of a turtle, and always has a turtle, _reversed_, designed on the pillar
above his grave when he dies, just as, in our mediaeval chronicles, the
leopards of an English king are reversed on his scutcheon opposite the
record of his death.  But the Australians, to the best of my knowledge,
though they are much governed by belief in descent from animals, do not
usually blazon their crest on their flesh, nor on the trees near the
place where the dead are buried.  They have not arrived at this pitch of
imitative art, though they have invented or inherited a kind of runes
which they notch on sticks, and in which they convey to each other secret
messages.  The natives of the Upper Darling, however, do carve their
family crests on their shields.  In place of using imitative art, the
Murri are said, I am not quite sure with what truth, to indicate the
distinction of families by arrangements of patterns, lines and dots,
tattooed on the breast and arms, and carved on the bark of trees near
places of burial.  In any case, the absence of the rude imitative art of
heraldry among a race which possesses all the social conditions that
produce this art is a fact worth noticing, and itself proves that the
native art of one of the most backward races we know is not essentially

[Fig. 1.  An Australian Shield: 278.jpg]

Anyone who will look through a collection of Australian weapons and
utensils will be brought to this conclusion.  The shields and the clubs
are elaborately worked, but almost always without any representation of
plants, animals, or the human figure.  As a rule the decorations take the
simple shape of the 'herring-bone' pattern, or such other patterns as can
be produced without the aid of spirals, or curves, or circles.  There is
a natural and necessary cause of this choice of decoration.  The
Australians, working on hard wood, with tools made of flint, or broken
glass, or sharp shell, cannot easily produce any curved lines.  Everyone
who, when a boy, carved his name on the bark of a tree, remembers the
difficulty he had with S and G, while he got on easily with letters like
M and A, which consist of straight or inclined lines.  The savage artist
has the same difficulty with his rude tools in producing anything like
satisfactory curves or spirals.  We engrave above (Fig. 1) a shield on
which an Australian has succeeded, with obvious difficulty, in producing
concentric ovals of irregular shape.  It may be that the artist would
have produced perfect circles if he could.  His failure is exactly like
that of a youthful carver of inscriptions coming to grief over his G's
and S's.  Here, however (Fig. 2), we have three shields which, like the
ancient Celtic pipkin (the tallest of the three figures in Fig. 3), show
the earliest known form of savage decorative art--the forms which survive
under the names of 'chevron' and 'herring-bone.'  These can be scratched
on clay with the nails, or a sharp stick, and this primeval way of
decorating pottery made without the wheel survives, with other relics of
savage art, in the western isles of Scotland.  The Australian had not
even learned to make rude clay pipkins, but he decorated his shields as
the old Celts and modern old Scotch women decorated their clay pots, with
the herring-bone arrangement of incised lines.  In the matter of colour
the Australians prefer white clay and red ochre, which they rub into the
chinks in the woodwork of their shields.  When they are determined on an
ambush, they paint themselves all over with white, justly conceiving that
their sudden apparition in this guise will strike terror into the boldest
hearts.  But arrangements in black and white of this sort scarcely
deserve the name of even rudimentary art.

[Fig. 2.  Shields: 280.jpg]

[Fig. 3.  Savage Ornamentation: 282.jpg]

The Australians sometimes introduce crude decorative attempts at
designing the human figure, as in the pointed shield opposite (Fig. 2,
a), which, with the other Australian designs, are from Mr. Brough Smyth's
'Aborigines of Victoria.'  But these ambitious efforts usually end in
failure.  Though the Australians chiefly confine themselves to decorative
art, there are numbers of wall-paintings, so to speak, in the caves of
the country which prove that they, like the Bushmen, could design the
human figure in action when they pleased.  Their usual preference for the
employment of patterns appears to me to be the result of the nature of
their materials.  In modern art our mechanical advantages and facilities
are so great that we are always carrying the method and manner of one art
over the frontier of another.  Our poetry aims at producing the effects
of music; our prose at producing the effects of poetry.  Our sculpture
tries to vie with painting in the representation of action, or with lace-
making in the production of reticulated surfaces, and so forth.  But the
savage, in his art, has sense enough to confine himself to the sort of
work for which his materials are fitted.  Set him in the bush with no
implements and materials but a bit of broken shell and a lump of hard
wood, and he confines himself to decorative scratches.  Place the black
in the large cave which Pundjel, the Australian Zeus, inhabited when on
earth (as Zeus inhabited the cave in Crete), and give the black plenty of
red and white ochre and charcoal, and he will paint the human figure in
action on the rocky walls.  Later, we will return to the cave-paintings
of the Australians and the Bushmen in South Africa.  At present we must
trace purely decorative art a little further.  But we must remember that
there was once a race apparently in much the same social condition as the
Australians, but far more advanced and ingenious in art.  The earliest
men of the European Continent, about whom we know much, the men whose
bones and whose weapons are found beneath the gravel-drift, the men who
were contemporary with the rhinoceros, mammoth, and cave-bear, were not
further advanced in material civilisation than the Australians.  They
used weapons of bone, of unpolished stone, and probably of hard wood.  But
the remnants of their art, the scraps of mammoth or reindeer bone in our
museums, prove that they had a most spirited style of sketching from the
life.  In a collection of drawings on bone (probably designed with a
flint or a shell), drawings by palaeolithic man, in the British Museum, I
have only observed one purely decorative attempt.  Even in this the
decoration resembles an effort to use the outlines of foliage for
ornamental purposes.  In almost all the other cases the palaeolithic
artist has not decorated his bits of bone in the usual savage manner, but
has treated his bone as an artist treats his sketch-book, and has
scratched outlines of beasts and fishes with his sharp shell as an artist
uses his point.  These ancient bones, in short, are the sketch-books of
European savages, whose untaught skill was far greater than that of the
Australians, or even of the Eskimo.  When brought into contact with
Europeans, the Australian and Eskimo very quickly, even without regular
teaching, learn to draw with some spirit and skill.  In the Australian
stele, or grave-pillar, which we have engraved (Fig. 4), the shapeless
figures below the men and animals are the dead, and the boilyas or
ghosts.  Observe the patterns in the interstices.  The artist had lived
with Europeans.  In their original conditions, however, the Australians
have not attained to such free, artist-like, and unhampered use of their
rude materials as the mysterious European artists who drew the mammoth
that walked abroad amongst them.

[Fig. 4.  An Australian Stele: 283.jpg]

We have engraved one solitary Australian attempt at drawing curved lines.
The New Zealanders, a race far more highly endowed, and, when Europeans
arrived amongst them, already far more civilised than the Australians,
had, like the Australians, no metal implements.  But their stone weapons
were harder and keener, and with these they engraved the various spirals
and coils on hard wood, of which we give examples here.  It is sometimes
said that New Zealand culture and art have filtered from some Asiatic
source, and that in the coils and spirals designed, as in our engravings,
on the face of the Maori chief, or on his wooden furniture, there may be
found debased Asiatic influences. {286}  This is one of the questions
which we can hardly deal with here.  Perhaps its solution requires more
of knowledge, anthropological and linguistic, than is at present within
the reach of any student.  Assuredly the races of the earth have wandered
far, and have been wonderfully intermixed, and have left the traces of
their passage here and there on sculptured stones, and in the keeping of
the ghosts that haunt ancient grave-steads.  But when two pieces of
artistic work, one civilised, one savage, resemble each other, it is
always dangerous to suppose that the resemblance bears witness to
relationship or contact between the races, or to influences imported by
one from the other.  New Zealand work may be Asiatic in origin, and
debased by the effect of centuries of lower civilisation and ruder
implements.  Or Asiatic ornament may be a form of art improved out of
ruder forms, like those to which the New Zealanders have already
attained.  One is sometimes almost tempted to regard the favourite Maori
spiral as an imitation of the form, not unlike that of a bishop's crozier
at the top, taken by the great native ferns.  Examples of resemblance, to
be accounted for by the development of a crude early idea, may be traced
most easily in the early pottery of Greece.  No one says that the Greeks
borrowed from the civilised people of America.  Only a few enthusiasts
say that the civilised peoples of America, especially the Peruvians, are
Aryan by race.  Yet the remains of Peruvian palaces are often by no means
dissimilar in style from the 'Pelasgic' and 'Cyclopean' buildings of
gigantic stones which remain on such ancient Hellenic sites as Argos and
Mycenae.  The probability is that men living in similar social
conditions, and using similar implements, have unconsciously and
unintentionally arrived at like results.

[Fig 5.  a, A Maori Design; b, Tattoo on a Maori's face: 285.jpg]

Few people who are interested in the question can afford to visit Peru
and Mycenae and study the architecture for themselves.  But anyone who is
interested in the strange identity of the human mind everywhere, and in
the necessary forms of early art, can go to the British Museum and
examine the American and early Greek pottery.  Compare the Greek key
pattern and the wave pattern on Greek and Mexican vases, and compare the
bird-faces, or human faces very like those of birds, with the similar
faces on the clay pots which Dr. Schliemann dug up at Troy.  The latter
are engraved in his book on Troy.  Compare the so-called 'cuttle-fish'
from a Peruvian jar with the same figure on the early Greek vases, most
of which are to be found in the last of the classical vase-rooms
upstairs.  Once more, compare the little clay 'whorls' of the Mexican and
Peruvian room with those which Dr. Schliemann found so numerous at
Hissarlik.  The conviction becomes irresistible that all these objects,
in shape, in purpose, in character of decoration, are the same, because
the mind and the materials of men, in their early stages of civilisation
especially, are the same everywhere.  You might introduce old Greek bits
of clay-work, figures or vases, into a Peruvian collection, or might
foist Mexican objects among the clay treasures of Hissarlik, and the
wisest archaeologist would be deceived.  The Greek fret pattern
especially seems to be one of the earliest that men learnt to draw.  The
svastika, as it is called, the cross with lines at right angles to each
limb, is found everywhere--in India, Greece, Scotland, Peru--as a natural
bit of ornament.  The allegorising fancy of the Indians gave it a mystic
meaning, and the learned have built I know not what worlds of religious
theories on this 'pre-Christian cross,' which is probably a piece of
hasty decorative work, with no original mystic meaning at all. {289}
Ornaments of this sort were transferred from wood or bone to clay, almost
as soon as people learned that early art, the potter's, to which the
Australians have not attained, though it was familiar to the not distant
people of New Caledonia.  The style of spirals and curves, again, once
acquired (as it was by the New Zealanders), became the favourite of some
races, especially of the Celtic.  Any one who will study either the
ornaments of Mycenae, or those of any old Scotch or Irish collection,
will readily recognise in that art the development of a system of
ornament like that of the Maoris.  Classical Greece, on the other hand,
followed more in the track of the ancient system of straight and slanted
lines, and we do not find in the later Greek art that love of interlacing
coils and spirals which is so remarkable among the Celts, and which is
very manifest in the ornaments of the Mycaenean hoards--that is, perhaps,
of the ancient Greek heroic age.  The causes of these differences in the
development of ornament, the causes that made Celtic genius follow one
track, and pursue to its aesthetic limits one early motif, while
classical art went on a severer line, it is, perhaps, impossible at
present to ascertain.  But it is plain enough that later art has done
little more than develop ideas of ornament already familiar to untutored

[Fig. 6.  From a Maori's Face: 287.jpg]

It has been shown that the art which aims at decoration is better adapted
to both the purposes and materials of savages than the art which aims at
representation.  As a rule, the materials of the lower savages are their
own bodies (which they naturally desire to make beautiful for ever by
tattooing), and the hard substances of which they fashion their tools and
weapons.  These hard substances, when worked on with cutting instruments
of stone or shell, are most easily adorned with straight cut lines, and
spirals are therefore found to be, on the whole, a comparatively late
form of ornament.

[Fig. 7.  Bushman Dog: 290.jpg]

We have now to discuss the efforts of the savage to represent.  Here,
again, we have to consider the purpose which animates him, and the
materials which are at his service.  His pictures have a practical
purpose, and do not spring from what we are apt, perhaps too hastily, to
consider the innate love of imitation for its own sake.  In modern art,
in modern times, no doubt the desire to imitate nature, by painting or
sculpture, has become almost an innate impulse, an in-born instinct.  But
there must be some 'reason why' for this; and it does not seem at all
unlikely that we inherit the love, the disinterested love, of imitative
art from very remote ancestors, whose habits of imitation had a direct,
interested, and practical purpose.  The member of Parliament who mimics
the crowing of a cock during debate, or the street boy who beguiles his
leisure by barking like a dog, has a disinterested pleasure in the
exercise of his skill; but advanced thinkers seem pretty well agreed that
the first men who imitated the voices of dogs, and cocks, and other
animals, did not do so merely for fun, but with the practical purpose of
indicating to their companions the approach of these creatures.  Such
were the rude beginnings of human language: and whether that theory be
correct or not, there are certainly practical reasons which impel the
savage to attempt imitative art.  I doubt if there are many savage races
which do not use representative art for the purposes of writing--that is,
to communicate information to persons whom they cannot reach by the
voice, and to assist the memory, which, in a savage, is perhaps not very
strong.  To take examples.  A savage man meets a savage maid.  She does
not speak his language, nor he hers.  How are they to know whether,
according to the marriage laws of their race, they are lawful mates for
each other?  This important question is settled by an inspection of their
tattooed marks.  If a Thlinkeet man of the Swan stock meets an Iroquois
maid of the Swan stock they cannot speak to each other, and the 'gesture
language' is cumbrous.  But if both are tattooed with the swan, then the
man knows that this daughter of the swan is not for him.  He could no
more marry her than Helen of Troy could have married Castor, the tamer of
horses.  Both are children of the Swan, as were Helen and Castor, and
must regard each other as brother and sister.  The case of the Thlinkeet
man and the Iroquois maid is extremely unlikely to occur; but I give it
as an example of the practical use among savages, of representative art.

[Fig. 8.  Red Indian Picture-Writing - The Legend of Manabozho: 293.jpg]

Among the uses of art for conveying intelligence we notice that even the
Australians have what the Greeks would have called the [Greek], a staff
on which inscriptions, legible to the Aborigines, are engraven.  I
believe, however, that the Australian [Greek] is not usually marked with
picture-writing, but with notches--even more difficult to decipher.  As
an example of Red Indian picture-writing we publish a scroll from Kohl's
book on the natives of North America.  This rude work of art, though the
reader may think little of it, is really a document as important in its
way as the Chaldaean clay tablets inscribed with the record of the
Deluge.  The coarsely-drawn figures recall, to the artist's mind, much of
the myth of Manabozho, the Prometheus and the Deucalion, the Cain and the
Noah of the dwellers by the great lake.  Manabozho was a great chief, who
had two wives that quarrelled.  The two stumpy half-figures (4) represent
the wives; the mound between them is the displeasure of Manabozho.
Further on (5) you see him caught up between two trees--an unpleasant
fix, from which the wolves and squirrels refused to extricate him.  The
kind of pyramid with a figure at top (8) is a mountain, on which when the
flood came, Manabozho placed his grandmother to be out of the water's
way.  The somewhat similar object is Manabozho himself, on the top of his
mountain.  The animals you next behold (10) were sent out by Manabozho to
ascertain how the deluge was faring, and to carry messages to his
grandmother.  This scroll was drawn, probably on birch bark, by a Red Man
of literary attainments, who gave it to Kohl (in its lower right-hand
corner (11) he has pictured the event), that he might never forget the
story of the Manabozhian deluge.  The Red Indians have always, as far as
European knowledge goes, been in the habit of using this picture-writing
for the purpose of retaining their legends, poems, and incantations.  It
is unnecessary to say that the picture-writing of Mexico and the
hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt are derived from the same savage
processes.  I must observe that the hasty indications of the figure used
in picture-writing are by no means to be regarded as measures of the Red
Men's skill in art.  They can draw much better than the artist who
recorded the Manabozhian legend, when they please.

In addition to picture-writing, Religion has fostered savage
representative art.  If a man worships a lizard or a bear, he finds it
convenient to have an amulet or idol representing a bear or a lizard.  If
one adores a lizard or a bear, one is likely to think that prayer and
acts of worship addressed to an image of the animal will please the
animal himself, and make him propitious.  Thus the art of making little
portable figures of various worshipful beings is fostered, and the craft
of working in wood or ivory is born.  As a rule, the savage is satisfied
with excessively rude representations of his gods.  Objects of this
kind--rude hewn blocks of stone and wood--were the most sacred effigies
of the gods in Greece, and were kept in the dimmest recesses of the
temple.  No Demeter wrought by the craft of Phidias would have appeared
so holy to the Phigalians as the strange old figure of the goddess with
the head of a mare.  The earliest Greek sacred sculptures that remain are
scarcely, if at all, more advanced in art than the idols of the naked
Admiralty Islanders.  But this is anticipating; in the meantime it may be
said that among the sources of savage representative art are the need of
something like writing, and ideas suggested by nascent religion.

[Fig. 9.  Bushman Wall-Painting: 295.jpg]

The singular wall-picture (Fig. 9) from a cave in South Africa, which we
copy from the 'Cape Monthly Magazine,' probably represents a magical
ceremony.  Bushmen are tempting a great water animal--a rhinoceros, or
something of that sort--to run across the land, for the purpose of
producing rain.  The connection of ideas is scarcely apparent to
civilised minds, but it is not more indistinct than the connection
between carrying a bit of the rope with which a man has been hanged and
success at cards--a common French superstition.  The Bushman
cave-pictures, like those of Australia, are painted in black, red, and
white.  Savages, like the Assyrians and the early Greeks, and like
children, draw animals much better than the human figure.  The Bushman
dog in our little engraving (Fig. 7) is all alive--almost as full of life
as the dog which accompanies the centaur Chiron, in that beautiful vase
in the British Museum which represents the fostering of Achilles.  The
Bushman wall-paintings, like those of Australia, seem to prove that
savage art is capable of considerable freedom, when supplied with fitting
materials.  Men seem to draw better when they have pigments and a flat
surface of rock to work upon, than when they are scratching on hard wood
with a sharp edge of a broken shell.  Though the thing has little to do
with art, it may be worth mentioning, as a matter of curiosity, that the
labyrinthine Australian caves are decorated, here and there, with the
mark of a red hand.  The same mysterious, or at least unexplained, red
hand is impressed on the walls of the ruined palaces and temples of
Yucatan--the work of a vanished people.

[Fig. 10.  Palaelithic art: 297.jpg]

There is one singular fact in the history of savage art which reminds us
that savages, like civilised men, have various degrees of culture and
various artistic capacities.  The oldest inhabitants of Europe who have
left any traces of their lives and handiwork must have been savages.
Their tools and weapons were not even formed of polished stone, but of
rough-hewn flint.  The people who used tools of this sort must
necessarily have enjoyed but a scanty mechanical equipment, and the life
they lived in caves from which they had to drive the cave-bear, and among
snows where they stalked the reindeer and the mammoth, must have been
very rough.  These earliest known Europeans, 'palaeolithic men,' as they
called, from their use of the ancient unpolished stone weapons, appear to
have inhabited the countries now known as France and England, before the
great Age of Ice.  This makes their date one of incalculable antiquity;
they are removed from us by a 'dark backward and abysm of time.'  The
whole Age of Ice, the dateless period of the polishers of stone weapons,
the arrival of men using weapons of bronze, the time which sufficed to
change the climate and fauna and flora of Western Europe, lie between us
and palaeolithic man.  Yet in him we must recognise a skill more akin to
the spirit of modern art than is found in any other savage race.
Palaeolithic man, like other savages, decorated his weapons; but, as I
have already said, he did not usually decorate them in the common savage
manner with ornamental patterns.  He scratched on bits of bone spirited
representations of all the animals whose remains are found mixed with his
own.  He designed the large-headed horse of that period, and science
inclines to believe that he drew the breed correctly.  His sketches of
the mammoth, the reindeer, the bear, and of many fishes, may be seen in
the British Museum, or engraved in such works as Professor Boyd Dawkins's
'Early Man in Britain.'  The object from which our next illustration
(Fig. 12) was engraved represents a deer, and was a knife-handle.  Eyes
at all trained in art can readily observe the wonderful spirit and
freedom of these ancient sketches.  They are the rapid characteristic
work of true artists who know instinctively what to select and what to

[Fig 12.  Palaeolithic art - a knife-handle: 299.jpg]

Some learned men, Mr. Boyd Dawkins among them, believe that the Eskimo,
that stunted hunting and fishing race of the Western Arctic circle, are
descendants of the palaeolithic sketchers, and retain their artistic
qualities.  Other inquirers, with Mr. Geikie and Dr. Wilson, do not
believe in this pedigree of the Eskimo.  I speak not with authority, but
the submission of ignorance, and as one who has no right to an opinion
about these deep matters of geology and ethnology.  But to me, Mr.
Geikie's arguments appear distinctly the more convincing, and I cannot
think it demonstrated that the Eskimo are descended from our old
palaeolithic artists.  But if Mr. Boyd Dawkins is right, if the Eskimo
derive their lineage from the artists of the Dordogne, then the Eskimo
are sadly degenerated.  In Mr. Dawkins's 'Early Man' is an Eskimo drawing
of a reindeer hunt, and a palaeolithic sketch of a reindeer; these (by
permission of the author and Messrs. Macmillan) we reproduce.  Look at
the vigour and life of the ancient drawing--the feathering hair on the
deer's breast, his head, his horns, the very grasses at his feet, are
touched with the graver of a true artist (Fig. 14).  The design is like a
hasty memorandum of Leech's.  Then compare the stiff formality of the
modern Eskimo drawing (Fig. 13).  It is rather like a record, a piece of
picture-writing, than a free sketch, a rapid representation of what is
most characteristic in nature.  Clearly, if the Eskimo come from
palaeolithic man, they are a degenerate race as far as art is concerned.
Yet, as may be seen in Dr. Rink's books, the Eskimo show considerable
skill when they have become acquainted with European methods and models,
and they have at any rate a greater natural gift for design than the Red
Indians, of whose sacred art the Thunderbird brooding over page 298 is a
fair example.  The Red Men believe in big birds which produce thunder.
Quahteaht, the Adam of Vancouver's Island, married one, and this (Fig.
11) is she.

[Fig. 11.  Red Indian art - the Thunderbird: 298.jpg]

[Fig. 13.  Eskimo Drawing - A Reindeer hunt: 300.jpg]

[Fig. 14.  Palaeolithic sketch - a reindeer: 301.jpg]

We have tried to show how savage decorative art supplied the first ideas
of patterns which were developed in various ways by the decorative art of
advancing civilisation.  The same progress might be detected in
representative art.  Books, like the guide-book to ancient Greece which
Pausanias wrote before the glory had quite departed, prove that the Greek
temples were museums in which the development of art might be clearly
traced.  Furthest back in the series of images of gods came things like
that large stone which was given to Cronus when he wished to swallow his
infant child Zeus, and which he afterwards vomited up with his living
progeny.  This fetich-stone was preserved at Delphi.  Next came wild
bulks of beast-headed gods, like the horse-headed Demeter of Phigalia,
and it seems possible enough that there was an Artemis with the head of a
she-bear.  Gradually the bestial characteristics dropped, and there
appeared such rude anthropomorphic images of Apollo--more like South Sea
idols than the archer prince--as are now preserved in Athens.  Next we
have the stage of semi-savage realism, which is represented by the
metopes of Selinus in Sicily, now in the British Museum, and by not a few
gems and pieces of gold work.  Greek temples have fallen, and the statues
of the gods exist only in scattered fragments.  But in the representative
collection of casts belonging to the Cambridge Archaeological Museum, one
may trace the career of Greek art backwards from Phidias to the rude

'Savage realism' is the result of a desire to represent an object as it
is known to be, and not as it appears.  Thus Catlin, among the Red
Indians, found that the people refused to be drawn in profile.  They knew
they had two eyes, and in profile they seemed only to have one.  Look at
the Selinus marbles, and you will observe that figures, of which the body
is seen in profile, have the full face turned to the spectator.  Again,
the savage knows that an animal has two sides; both, he thinks, should be
represented, but he cannot foreshorten, and he finds the profile view
easiest to draw.  To satisfy his need of realism he draws a beast's head
full-face, and gives to the one head two bodies drawn in profile.
Examples of this are frequent in very archaic Greek gems and gold work,
and Mr. A. S. Murray suggests (as I understand him) that the attitude of
the two famous lions, which guarded vainly Agamemnon's gate at Mycenae,
is derived from the archaic double-bodied and single-headed beast of
savage realism.  Very good examples of these oddities may be found in the
'Journal of the Hellenic Society,' 1881, pl. xv.  Here are double-bodied
and single headed birds, monsters, and sphinxes.  We engrave (Fig. 15)
three Greek gems from the islands as examples of savagery in early Greek
art.  In the oblong gem the archers are rather below the Red Indian
standard of design.  The hunter figured in the first gem is almost up to
the Bushman mark.  In his dress ethnologists will recognise an
arrangement now common among the natives of New Caledonia.  In the third
gem the woman between two swans may be Leda, or she may represent Leto in
Delos.  Observe the amazing rudeness of the design, and note the modern
waist and crinoline.  The artists who engraved these gems on hard stone
had, of necessity, much better tools than any savages possess, but their
art was truly savage.  To discover how Greek art climbed in a couple of
centuries from this coarse and childish work to the grace of the AEgina
marbles, and thence to the absolute freedom and perfect unapproachable
beauty of the work of Phidias, is one of the most singular problems in
the history of art.  Greece learned something, no doubt, from her early
knowledge of the arts the priests of Assyria and Egypt had elaborated in
the valleys of the Euphrates and the Nile.  That might account for a
swift progress from savage to formal and hieratic art; but whence sprang
the inspiration which led her so swiftly on to art that is perfectly
free, natural, and god-like?  It is a mystery of race, and of a divine
gift.  'The heavenly gods have given it to mortals.'

[Fig. 15.  Archaic Greek Gems: 303.jpg]


{3a}  Compare De Cara: Essame Critico, xx. i.

{3b}  Revue de l'Hist. des Rel. ii. 136.

{4}  Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte, p. 431.

{5}  Prim. Cult. i. 394.

{11a}  A study of the contemporary stone age in Scotland will be found in
Mitchell's Past and Present.

{11b}  About twenty years ago, the widow of an Irish farmer, in Derry,
killed her deceased husband's horse.  When remonstrated with by her
landlord, she said, 'Would you have my man go about on foot in the next
world?'  She was quite in the savage intellectual stage.

{12}  At the solemn festival suppers, ordained for the honour of the
gods, they forget not to serve up certain dishes of young whelp's flesh.
(Pliny, H. N. xxix. 4.)

{15}  Nov. 1880.

{18}  'Ah, once again may I plant the great fan on her corn-heap, while
she stands smiling by, Demeter of the threshing floor, with sheaves and
poppies in her hands' (Theocritus, vii. 155-157).

{20}  Odyssey, xi. 32.

{28}  Rev. de l'Hist. des Rel., vol. ii.

{33}  Pausanias, iii. 15.  When the boys were being cruelly scourged, the
priestess of Artemis Orthia held an ancient barbaric wooden image of the
goddess in her hands.  If the boys were spared, the image grew heavy; the
more they were tortured, the lighter grew the image.  In Samoa the image
(shark's teeth) of the god Taema is consulted before battle.  'If it felt
heavy, that was a bad omen; if light, the sign was good'--the god was
pleased (Turner's Samoa, p. 55).

[Bull-roarer: 35.jpg]

{34}  Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 268.

{35}  Fison, Journal Anthrop. Soc., Nov. 1883.

{36a}  Taylor's New Zealand, p. 181.

{36b}  This is not the view of le Pere Lafitau, a learned Jesuit
missionary in North America, who wrote (1724) a work on savage manners,
compared with the manners of heathen antiquity.  Lafitau, who was greatly
struck with the resemblances between Greek and Iroquois or Carib
initiations, takes Servius's other explanation of the mystica vannus, 'an
osier vessel containing rural offerings of first fruits.'  This exactly
answers, says Lafitau, to the Carib Matoutou, on which they offer sacred
cassava cakes.

{37}  The Century Magazine, May 1883.

{39}  [Greek].  Lobeck, Aglaophamus (i. p. 700).

{40a}  De Corona, p. 313.

{40b}  Savage Africa.  Captain Smith, the lover of Pocahontas, mentions
the custom in his work on Virginia, pp. 245-248.

{40c}  Brough Smyth, i. 60, using evidence of Howitt, Taplin, Thomas, and

{41a}  Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 214.

{41b}  [Greek], c. 15.

{42}  Cape Monthly Magazine, July 1874.

{44}  Wallace, Travels on the Amazon, p. 349.

{46a}  New Zealand, Taylor, pp. 119-121.  Die heilige Sage der
Polynesier, Bastian, pp. 36-39.

{46b}  A crowd of similar myths, in one of which a serpent severs Heaven
and Earth, are printed in Turner's Samoa.

{48}  The translation used is Jowett's.

{49a}  Theog., 166.

{49b}  Apollodorus, i. 15.

{50a}  Primitive Culture, i. 325.

{50b}  Pauthier, Livres sacres de l'Orient, p. 19.

{50c}  Muir's Sanskrit Texts, v. 23.  Aitareya Brahmana.

{52a}  Hesiod, Theog., 497.

{52b}  Paus. x. 24.

{54a}  Bleek, Bushman Folklore, pp. 6-8.

{54b}  Theal, Kaffir Folklore, pp. 161-167.

{54c}  Brough Smith, i. 432-433.

{55a}  i. 338.

{55b}  Rel. de la Nouvelle-France (1636), p. 114.

{56}  Codrington, in Journal Anthrop. Inst. Feb. 1881.  There is a Breton
Marchen of a land where people had to 'bring the Dawn' daily with carts
and horses.  A boy, whose sole property was a cock, sold it to the people
of this country for a large sum, and now the cock brings the dawn, with a
great saving of trouble and expense.  The Marchen is a survival of the
state of mind of the Solomon Islanders.

{58a}  Selected Essays, i. 460.

{58b}  Ibid. i. 311.

{59}  Ueber Entwicklungsstufen der Mythenbildung (1874), p. 148.

{60a}  ii. 127.

{60b}  G. D. M., ii. 127, 129.

{61a}  Gr. My., i. 144.

{61b}  De Abst., ii. 202, 197.

{61c}  Rel. und Myth., ii. 3.

{61d}  Ursprung der Myth., pp. 133, 135, 139, 149.

{62a}  Contemporary Review, Sept. 1883.

{62b}  Rev. de l'Hist. rel. i. 179.

{65}  That Pururavas is regarded as a mortal man, in relations with some
sort of spiritual mistress, appears from the poem itself (v. 8, 9, 18).
The human character of Pururavas also appears in R. V. i. 31, 4.

{66a}  Selected Essays, i. 408.

{66b}  The Apsaras is an ideally beautiful fairy woman, something
'between the high gods and the lower grotesque beings,' with 'lotus eyes'
and other agreeable characteristics.  A list of Apsaras known by name is
given in Meyer's Gandharven-Kentauren, p. 28.  They are often regarded as
cloud-maidens by mythologists.

{68}  Selected Essays, i. p. 405.

{69a}  Cf. ruber, rufus, O. H. G. rot, rudhira, [Greek]; also Sanskrit,
ravi, sun.

{69b}  Myth. Ar. Nat., ii. 81.

{69c}  R. V. iii. 29, 3.

{69d}  The passage alluded to in Homer does not mean that dawn 'ends' the
day, but 'when the fair-tressed Dawn brought the full light of the third
day' (Od., v. 390).

{70a}  Liebrecht (Zur Volkskunde, 241) is reminded by Pururavas (in
Roth's sense of der Bruller) of loud-thundering Zeus, [Greek].

{70b}  Herabkunft des Fetters, p. 86-89.

{71}  Liebrecht (Zur Volkskunde, p. 241) notices the reference to the
'custom of women.'  But he thinks the clause a mere makeshift, introduced
late to account for a prohibition of which the real meaning had been
forgotten.  The improbability of this view is indicated by the frequency
of similar prohibitions in actual custom.

{72}  Astley, Collection of Voyages, ii. 24.  This is given by Bluet and
Moore on the evidence of one Job Ben Solomon, a native of Bunda in Futa.
'Though Job had a daughter by his last wife, yet he never saw her without
her veil, as having been married to her only two years.'  Excellently as
this prohibition suits my theory, yet I confess I do not like Job's

{73a}  Brough Smyth, i. 423.

{73b}  Bowen, Central Africa, p. 303.

{73c}  Lafitau, i. 576.

{73d}  Lubbock, Origin of Civilisation (1875), p. 75.

{74a}  Chansons Pop. Bulg., p. 172.

{74b}  Lectures on Language, Second Series, p. 41.

{75a}  J. A. Farrer, Primitive Manners, p. 202, quoting Seemann.

{75b}  Sebillot, Contes Pop. de la Haute-Bretagne, p. 183.

{76a}  Gervase of Tilbury.

{76b}  Kuhn, Herabkunft, p. 92.

{77}  Chips, ii. 251.

{80a}  Kitchi Gami, p. 105.

{80b}  The sun-frog occurs seven times in Sir G. W: Cox's Mythology of
the Aryan Peoples, and is used as an example to prove that animals in
myth are usually the sun, like Bheki, 'the sun-frog.'

{81a}  Dalton's Ethnol. of Bengal, pp. 165, 166.

{81b}  Taylor, New Zealand, p. 143.

{82a}  Liebrecht gives a Hindoo example, Zur Volkskunde, p. 239.

{82b}  Cymmrodor, iv. pt. 2.

{82c}  Prim. Cult., i. 140.

{83a}  Primitive Manners, p. 256.

{83b}  See Meyer, Gandharven-Kentauren, Benfey, Pantsch., i. 263.

{84a}  Selected Essays, i. 411.

{84b}  Callaway, p. 63.

{84c}  Ibid., p. 119.

{87}  Primitive Culture, i. 357: 'The savage sees individual stars as
animate beings, or combines star-groups into living celestial creatures,
or limbs of them, or objects connected with them.'

{88}  This formula occurs among Bushmen and Eskimo (Bleek and Rink).

{92}  The events of the flight are recorded correctly in the Gaelic
variant 'The Battle of the Birds.'  (Campbell, Tales of the West
Highlands, vol. i. p. 25.)

{93a}  Ralston, Russian Folk Tales, 132; Kohler, Orient und Occident, ii.
107, 114.

{93b}  Ko ti ki, p. 36.

{93c}  Callaway, pp. 51, 53, 64, 145, 228.

{93d}  See also 'Petrosinella' in the Pentamerone, and 'The Mastermaid'
in Dasent's Tales from the Norse.

{93e}  Folk-Lore Journal, August 1883.

{95}  Poetae Minores Gr. ii.

{96}  Mythol. Ar., ii. 150.

{97a}  Gr. My., ii. 318.

{97b}  Sonne, Mond und Sterne, pp. 213, 229.

{99a}  This proves that the tale belongs to the pre-Christian cannibal

{99b}  Turner's Samoa, p. 102.  In this tale only the names of the
daughters are translated; they mean 'white fish' and 'dark fish.'

{99c}  Folk-Lore Journal, August 1883.

{101}  Schoolcraft, Algic Researches, ii. 94-104.

{102a}  Nature, March 14, 1884.

{102b}  The earlier part of the Jason cycle is analysed in the author's
preface to Grimm's Marchen (Bell & Sons).

{104a}  Comm. Real. i. 75.

{104b}  See Early History of the Family, infra.

{105a}  The names Totem and Totemism have been in use at least since
1792, among writers on the North American tribes.  Prof. Max Muller
(Academy, Jan. 1884) says the word should be, not Totem, but Ote or Otem.
Long, an interpreter among the Indians, introduced the word Totamism in

{105b}  Christoval de Moluna (1570), p. 5.

{105c}  Cieza de Leon, p. 183.

{105d}  Idyll xv.

{107}  Sayce, Herodotos, p. 344; Herodotus, ii. 42; Wilkinson's Ancient
Egyptians (1878, ii. 475, note 2); Plutarch, De Is. et Os., 71, 72;
Athenaeus, vii. 299; Strabo, xvii. 813.

{108a}  The Mouse, according to Dalton, is still a totem among the Oraons
of Bengal.  A man of the Mouse 'motherhood,' as the totem kindred is
locally styled, may not eat mice (esteemed a delicacy), nor marry a girl
who is a Mouse.

{108b}  xiii. 604.  Casaub. 1620.

{108c}  There were Sminthiac feasts at Rhodes, Gela, Lesbos, and Crete
(De Witte, Revue Numismatique, N.S. iii. 3-11).

{109a}  Iliad, i. 39.

{109b}  AElian, H. A. xii. 5.

{110a}  The bas-relief is published in Paoli's Della Religione de'
Gentili, Naples, 1771, p. 9; also by Fabretti, Ad Cal. Oper. de Colum.
Trajan. p. 315.  Paoli's book was written after the discovery in
Neapolitan territory of a small bronze image, hieratic in character,
representing a man with a mouse on his hand.  Paoli's engraving of this
work of art, unluckily, does not enable us to determine its date or
_provenance_.  The book is a mine of mouse-lore.

{110b}  Colden, History of the Five Nations, p. 15 (1727).

{110c}  Onomast., ix. 6, segm. 84, p. 1066.

{110d}  De Witte says Pollux was mistaken here.  In the Revue
Numismatique, N.S. iii., De Witte publishes coins of Alexandria, the more
ancient Hamaxitus, in the Troad.  The Sminthian Apollo is represented
with his bow, and the mouse on his hand.  Other coins show the god with
the mouse at his foot, or show us the lyre of Apollo supported by mice.  A
bronze coin in the British Museum gives Apollo with the mouse beside his

{111a}  Spanheim, ad Fl. Joseph., vi. I, p. 312.

{111b}  Della Rel., p. 174.

{111c}  Herodotus, ii. 141.

{112a}  Liebrecht (Zur Volkskunde, p. 13, quoting Journal Asiatique, 1st
series, 3, 307) finds the same myth in Chinese annals.  It is not a god,
however, but the king of the rats, who appears to the distressed monarch
in his dream.  Rats then gnaw the bowstrings of his enemies.  The
invaders were Turks, the rescued prince a king of Khotan.  The king
raised a temple, and offered sacrifice--to the rats?

{112b}  Herodotos, p. 204.

{113a}  Wilkinson, iii. 294, quoting the Ritual xxxiii.: 'Thou devourest
the abominable rat of Ra, or the sun.'

{113b}  Mr. Loftie has kindly shown me a green mouse containing the
throne-name of Thothmes III.  The animals thus used as substitutes for
scarabs were also sacred, as the fish, rhinoceros, fly, all represented
in Mr. Loftie's collection.  See his Essay of Scarabs, p. 27.  It may be
admitted that, in a country where Cats were gods, the religion of the
Mouse must have been struggling and oppressed.

[Illustration: 113.jpg]

{114a}  Strabo, xiii. 604.

{114b}  Eustathius on Iliad, i. 39.

{114c}  A Strange and True Relation of the Prodigious Multitude of Mice,

{115a}  Journal of Philol., xvii. p. 96.

{115b}  Leviticus xi. 29.

{116}  Samuel i. 5, 6.

{117a}  Zool. Myth, ii. 68.

{117b}  Melusine, N.S. i.

{118a}  De Iside et Osiride, lxxvi.

{118b}  This hypothesis does not maintain that totemism prevailed in
Greece during historic times.  Though Plutarch mentions an Athenian
[Greek], the Ioxidae, which claimed descent from and revered asparagus,
it is probable that genuine totemism had died out of Greece many hundreds
of years before even Homer's time.  But this view is not inconsistent
with the existence of survivals in religion and ritual.

{119}  Rolland, Faune populaire.

{121}  The attempt is not to explain the origin of each separate name but
only of the general habit of giving animal or human names stars.

{125}  Mr. Herbert Spencer believes that the Australians were once more
civilised than at present.  But there has never been found a trace of
pottery on the Australian continent, which says little for their
civilisation in the past.

{128}  Brugsch, History of Egypt, i. 32.

{130}  Brough Smith.

{131}  Amazonian Tortoise Myths, p. 39.

{132a}  Sahagun, vii. 3.

{132b}  Grimm, D. M., Engl. transl., p. 716.

{133}  Hartt, op. cit., p. 40.

{134a}  Kaegi, Der Rig Veda, p. 217.

{134b}  Mainjo-i-Khard, 49, 22, ed. West.

{134c}  Op. cit. p. 98.

{137}  Prim. Cult., i. 357.

{140}  Lectures on Language, pp. 359, 362.

{144}  Grimm, D. M., Engl., Trans. p. 1202.

{145}  Tom Sawyer, p. 87.

{146a}  Rep. vi. 488.  Dem. 10, 6.

{146b}  Journal Anthrop. Inst., Feb. 1881.

{147a}  Gregor, Folklore of North-east Counties, p, 40.

{147b}  Wars of Jews, vii. 6, 3.

{147c}  Var. Hist., 14, 27.

{148}  Max Muller, Selected Essays, ii. 622.

{151}  Myth of Kirke, p. 80.

{152a}  Turner's Samoa.

{152b}  Josephus, loc. cit.  For this, and many other references, I am
indebted to Schwartz's Prahistorisch-anthropologische Studien.  In most
magic herbs the learned author recognises thunder and lightning--a theory
no less plausible than Mr. Brown's.

{152c}  Lib. xxviii.

{152d}  Schoolcraft.

{157a}  Talvj, Charakteristik der Volkslieder, p. 3.

{157b}  Fauriel, Chants de la Grece moderne.

{160}  Thus Scotland scarcely produced any ballads, properly speaking,
after the Reformation.  The Kirk suppressed the dances to whose motion
the ballad was sung in Scotland, as in Greece, Provence, and France.

{161}  L. Preller's Ausgewahlte Aufsatze.  Greek ideas on the origin of
Man.  It is curious that the myth of a gold, a silver, and a copper race
occurs in South America.  See Brasseur de Bourbourg's Notes on the Popol

{164a}  See essay on Early History of the Family.

{164b}  This constant struggle may be, and of course by one school of
comparative mythologists will be, represented as the strife between light
and darkness, the sun's rays, and the clouds of night, and so on.  M.
Castren has well pointed out that the struggle has really an historical
meaning.  Even if the myth be an elementary one, its constructors must
have been in the exogamous stage of society.

{169}  Sampo _may_ be derived from a Thibetan word, meaning 'fountain of
good,' or it may possibly be connected with the Swedish Stamp, a hand-
mill.  The talisman is made of all the quaint odds and ends that the
Fetichist treasures: swan's feathers, flocks of wool, and so on.

{170}  Sir G. W. Cox's Popular Romances of the Middle Ages, p. 19.

{171}  Fortnightly Review, 1869: 'The Worship of Plants and Animals.'

{176}  Mr. McLennan in the Fortnightly Review, February 1870.

{178}  M. Schmidt, Volksleben der Neugriechen, finds comparatively few
traces of the worship of Zeus, and these mainly in proverbial

{183}  Preller, Ausgewahlte Aufsatze, p. 154.

{184a}  Tylor, Prim. Cult., ii. 156.  Pinkerton, vii. 357.

{184b}  Universities Mission to Central Africa, p. 217.  Prim. Cult,, ii.
156, 157.

{186}  Quoted in 'Jacob's Rod': London, n.d., a translation of La Verge
de Jacob, Lyon, 1693.

{190}  Lettres sur la Baguette, pp. 106-112.

{200}  Turner's Samoa, pp, 77, 119.

{201}  Cox, Mythol. of Aryan Races, passim.

{202a}  See examples in 'A Far-travelled Tale,' 'Cupid and Psyche,' and
'The Myth of Cronus.'

{202b}  Trubner, 1881.

{203a}  Hahn, p. 23.

{203b}  Ibid., p. 45.

{204}  Expedition, i. 166.

{205}  Herodotus, ii.

{209}  See Fetichism and the Infinite.

{211}  Sacred Books of the East, xii. 130, 131,

{218}  Lectures on Language.  Second series, p. 41.

{222}  A defence of the evidence for our knowledge of savage faiths,
practices, and ideas will be found in Primitive Culture, i. 9-11.

{223}  A third reference to Pausanias I have been unable to verify.  There
are several references to Greek fetich-stones in Theophrastus's account
of the Superstitious Man.  A number of Greek sacred stones named by
Pausanias may be worth noticing.  In Boeotia (ix. 16), the people
believed that Alcmene, mother of Heracles, was changed into a stone.  The
Thespians worshipped, under the name of Eros, an unwrought stone,
[Greek], 'their most ancient sacred object' (ix. 27).  The people of
Orchomenos 'paid extreme regard to certain stones,' said to have fallen
from heaven, 'or to certain figures made of stone that descended from the
sky' (ix. 38).  Near Chaeronea, Rhea was said to have deceived Cronus, by
offering him, in place of Zeus, a stone wrapped in swaddling bands.  This
stone, which Cronus vomited forth after having swallowed it, was seen by
Pausanias at Delphi (ix. 41).  By the roadside, near the city of the
Panopeans, lay the stones out of which Prometheus made men (x. 4).  The
stone swallowed in place of Zeus by his father lay at the exit from the
Delphian temple, and was anointed (compare the action of Jacob, Gen.
xxviii. 18) with oil every day.  The Phocians worshipped thirty squared
stones, each named after a god (vii. xxii.).  '_Among all the Greeks rude
stones were worshipped before the images of the gods_.'  Among the
Troezenians a sacred stone lay in front of the temple, whereon the
Troezenian elders sat, and purified Orestes from the murder of his
mother.  In Attica there was a conical stone worshipped as Apollo (i.
xliv.).  Near Argos was a stone called Zeus Cappotas, on which Orestes
was said to have sat down, and so recovered peace of mind.  Such are
examples of the sacred stones, the oldest worshipful objects, of Greece.

{226}  See essays on 'Apollo and the Mouse' and 'The Early History of the

{230}  Here I may mention a case illustrating the motives of the fetich-
worshipper.  My friend, Mr. J. J. Atkinson, who has for many years
studied the manners of the people of New Caledonia, asked a native _why_
he treasured a certain fetich-stone.  The man replied that, in one of the
vigils which are practised beside the corpses of deceased friends, he saw
a lizard.  The lizard is a totem, a worshipful animal in New Caledonia.
The native put out his hand to touch it, when it disappeared and left a
stone in its place.  This stone he therefore held sacred in the highest
degree.  Here then a fetich-stone was indicated as such by a spirit in
form of a lizard.

{233a}  Much the same theory is propounded in Mr. Muller's lectures on
'The Science of Religion.'

{233b}  The idea is expressed in a well known parody of Wordsworth, about
the tree which

   'Will grow ten times as tall as me
   And live ten times as long.'

{236}  See Essay on 'The Early History of the Family.'

{241}  Bergaigne's La Religion Vedique may be consulted for Vedic

{247a}  Early Law and Custom.

{247b}  Studies in Ancient History, p. 127.

{248}  Descent of Man, ii. 362.

{249}  Early Law and Custom, p. 210.

{250a}  Here I would like to point out that Mr. M'Lennan's theory was not
so hard and fast as his manner (that of a very assured believer in his
own ideas) may lead some inquirers to suppose.  Sir Henry Maine writes,
that both Mr. Morgan and Mr. M'Lennan 'seem to me to think that human
society went everywhere through the same series of changes, and Mr.
M'Lennan, at any rate, expresses himself as if all those stages could be
clearly discriminated from one another, and the close of one and the
commencement of another announced with the distinctness of the clock-bell
telling the end of the hour.'  On the other hand, I remember Mr.
M'Lennan's saying that, in his opinion, 'all manner of arrangements
probably went on simultaneously in different places.'  In Studies in
Ancient History, p. 127, he expressly guards against the tendency 'to
assume that the progress of the various races of men from savagery has
been a uniform progress: that all the stages which any of them has gone
through have been passed in their order by all.'  Still more to the point
is his remark on polyandry among the very early Greeks and other Aryans;
'it is quite consistent with my view that in all these quarters (Persia,
Sparta, Troy, Lycia, Attica, Crete, &c.) monandry, and even the patria
potestas, may have prevailed at points.'

{250b}  Early Law and Custom, p. 212.

{251}  Studies in Ancient History, pp. 140-147.

{252}  Totem is the word generally given by travellers and interpreters
for the family crests of the Red Indians.  Cf. p. 105.

{256}  Domestic Manners of the Chinese, i. 99.

{258}  Fortnightly Review, June 1, 1877.

{259}  Kamilaroi and Kurnai.  Natives call these objects their kin, 'of
one flesh' with them.

{260}  Studies, p. 11.

{265a}  O'Curry, Manners of Ancient Irish, l. ccclxx., quoting Trin.
Coll. Dublin MS.

{265b}  See also Elton's Origins of English History, pp. 299-301.

{265c}  Kemble's Saxons in England, p. 258.  Politics of Aristotle,
Bolland and Lang, p. 99. {265d}

{265d}  Mr. Grant Allen kindly supplied me some time ago with a list of
animal and vegetable names preserved in the titles of ancient English
village settlements.  Among them are: ash, birch, bear (as among the
Iroquois), oak, buck, fir, fern, sun, wolf, thorn, goat, horse, salmon
(the trout is a totem in America), swan (familiar in Australia), and

{267}  'Gentiles sunt qui inter se eodem nomine sunt.  Qui ab ingeniis
oriundi sunt.  Quorum majorum nemo servitutem servivit.  Qui capite non
sunt deminuti.'

{268}  Studies in Ancient History, p. 212.

{270}  Fortnightly Review, October 1869: 'Archaeologia Americana,' ii.

{273a}  Suidas, 3102.

{273b}  Herod., i. 173.

{273c}  Cf. Bachofen, p. 309.

{273d}  Compare the Irish Nennius, p. 127.

{276}  The illustrations in this article are for the most part copied, by
permission of Messrs. Cassell & Co., from the Magazine of Art, in which
the essay appeared.

{286}  Part of the pattern (Fig. 5, b) recurs on the New Zealand Bull-
roarer, engraved in the essay on the Bull-roarer.

[Bull-roarer: 35.jpg]

{289}  See Schliemann's Troja, wherein is much learning and fancy about
the Aryan Svastika.

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