By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Myth, Ritual And Religion, Vol. 2 (of 2)
Author: Lang, Andrew, 1844-1912
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myth, Ritual And Religion, Vol. 2 (of 2)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Volume II.

By Andrew Lang

Longmans, Green, And Co.

39 Paternoster Row, London

New York And Bombay


First printed, August, 1887



     Savage religion mysterious--Why this is so--Australians in
     1688--Sir John Lubbock--Roskoff--Evidence of religion--Mr.
     Manning--Mr. Howitt--Supreme beings--Mr. Tylor's theory of
     borrowing--Reply--Morality sanctioned--Its nature--Satirical
     rite--"Our Father"--Mr. Ridley on a creator--Mr. Langloh
     Parker--Dr. Roth--Conclusion--Australians' religious.

The Science of Anthropology can speak, with some confidence, on
many questions of Mythology. Materials are abundant and practically
undisputed, because, as to their myths, savage races have spoken out
with freedom. Myth represents, now the early scientific, now the early
imaginative and humorous faculty, playing freely round all objects of
thought: even round the Superhuman beings of belief. But, as to
his Religion, the savage by no means speaks out so freely. Religion
represents his serious mood of trust, dependence or apprehension.

In certain cases the ideas about superhuman Makers and judges are veiled
in mysteries, rude sketches of the mysteries of Greece, to which the
white man is but seldom admitted. In other cases the highest religious
conceptions of the people are in a state of obsolescence, are
subordinated to the cult of accessible minor deities, and are rarely
mentioned. While sacrifice or service again is done to the lower objects
of faith (ghosts or gods developed out of ghosts) the Supreme Being, in
a surprising number of instances, is wholly unpropitiated. Having all
things, he needs nothing (at all events gets nothing) at men's hands
except obedience to his laws; being good, he is not feared; or being
obsolescent (superseded, as it seems, by deities who can be bribed) he
has shrunk to the shadow of a name. Of the gods too good and great to
need anything, the Ahone of the Red Men in Virginia, or the Dendid of
the African Dinkas, is an example. Of the obsolescent god, now but a
name, the Atahocan of the Hurons was, while the "Lord in heaven" of the
Zulus is, an instance. Among the relatively supreme beings revealed only
in the mysteries, the gods of many Australian tribes are deserving of

For all these reasons, mystery, absence of sacrifice or idol, and
obsolescence, the Religion of savages is a subject much more obscure
than their mythology. The truth is that anthropological inquiry is not
yet in a position to be dogmatic; has not yet knowledge sufficient for a
theory of the Origins of Religion, and the evolution of belief from its
lowest stages and earliest germs. Nevertheless such a theory has been
framed, and has been already stated.

We formulated the objections to this current hypothesis, and observed
that its defenders must take refuge in denying the evidence as to low
savage religions, or, if the facts be accepted, must account for them
by a theory of degradation, or by a theory of borrowing from Christian
sources. That the Australians are not degenerate we demonstrated, and we
must now give reasons for holding that their religious conceptions are
not borrowed from Europeans.

The Australians, when observed by Dampier on the North-west Coast in
1688, seemed "the miserablest people in the world," without houses,
agriculture, metals, or domesticated animals.* In this condition they
still remain, when not under European influence. Dampier, we saw, noted
peculiarities: "Be it little or much they get, every one has his part,
as well the young and tender as the old and feeble, who are not able to
go abroad, as the strong and lusty". This kind of justice or generosity,
or unselfishness, is still inculcated in the religious mysteries of
some of the race. Generosity is certainly one of the native's leading
features. He is always accustomed to give a share of his food, or of
what he may possess, to his fellows. It may be, of course, objected to
this that in doing so he is only following an old-established custom,
the breaking of which would expose him to harsh treatment and to being
looked on as a churlish fellow. It will, however, be hardly denied that,
as this custom expresses the idea that, in this particular matter, every
one is supposed to act in a kindly way towards certain individuals: the
very existence of such a custom, even if it be only carried out in the
hope of securing at some time a _quid pro quo_, shows that the native is
alive to the fact that an action which benefits some one else is worthy
to be performed....

     * Early Voyages to Australia, pp. 102-111.    Hakluyt

It is with the native a fixed habit to give away part of what he has."*
The authors of this statement do not say that the duty is inculcated, in
Central Australia, under religious sanction, in the tribal mysteries.
This, however, is the case among the Kurnai, and some tribes of Victoria
and New South Wales.** Since Dampier found the duty practised as early
as 1688, it will scarcely be argued that the natives adopted this course
of what should be Christian conduct from their observations of Christian

The second point which impressed Dampier was that men and women, old and
young, all lacked the two front upper teeth. Among many tribes of the
natives of New South Wales and Victoria, the boys still have their front
teeth knocked out, when initiated, but the custom does not prevail (in
ritual) where circumcision and another very painful rite are practised,
as in Central Australia and Central Queensland.

Dampier's evidence shows how little the natives have changed in two
hundred years. Yet evidence of progress may be detected, perhaps, as we
have already shown. But one fact, perhaps of an opposite bearing, must
be noted. A singular painting, in a cave, of a person clothed in a robe
of red, reaching to the feet, with sleeves, and with a kind of halo (or
set of bandages) round the head, remains a mystery, like similar figures
with blue halos or bandages, clothed and girdled. None of the figures
had mouths; otherwise, in Sir George Grey's sketches, they have a
remote air of Cimabue's work.*** These designs were by men familiar
with clothing, whether their own, or that of strangers observed by them,
though in one case an unclothed figure carries a kangaroo. At present
the natives draw with much spirit, when provided with European
materials, as may be seen in Mrs. Langloh Parker's two volumes of
_Australian Legendary Tales_. Their decorative patterns vary in
character in different parts of the continent, but nowhere do they now
execute works like those in the caves discovered by Sir George Grey. The
reader must decide for himself how far these monuments alone warrant
an inference of great degeneration in Australia, or are connected with

     * Spencer and Gillen, Natives of Central Australia, p. 48.

     ** Howitt, Journal Anthrop. Inst., 1885, p. 310.

     *** Grey's Journals of Expeditions  of Discovery in North-
     West and Western Australia, in the years 1837-39, vol i.,
     pp. 200-263. Sir George regarded the pictures as perhaps
     very ancient. The natives "chaffed" him when he asked for
     traditions on the subject.

Such are the Australians, men without kings or chiefs, and what do we
know of their beliefs?

The most contradictory statements about their religion may be found
in works of science Mr. Huxley declared that "their theology is a mere
belief in the existence, powers and dispositions (usually malignant) of
ghost-like entities who may be propitiated or scared away; but no cult
can be properly said to exist. And in this stage theology is wholly
independent of ethics." This, he adds, is "theology in its simplest

In a similar sense, Sir John Lubbock writes: "The Australians have no
idea of creation, nor do they use prayers; they have no religious forms,
ceremonies or worship. They do not believe in the existence of a Deity,
nor is morality in any way connected with their religion, if it can be
so called."*

     * Lubbock, Origin of Civilisation, p. 158,1870. In 1889, for
     "a deity" "a true Deity".

This remark must be compared with another in the same work (1882, p.
210). "Mr. Ridley, indeed,... states that they have a traditional belief
in one supreme Creator, called Baiamai, but he admits that most of the
witnesses who were examined before the Select Committee appointed by
the Legislative Council of Victoria in 1858 to report on the Aborigines,
gave it as their opinion that the natives had no religious ideas. It
appears, moreover, from a subsequent remark, that Baiamai only possessed
'traces' of the three attributes of the God of the Bible, Eternity,
Omnipotence and Goodness".*

     * Cf. J. A. I., 1872, 257-271.

Mr. Ridley, an accomplished linguist who had lived with wild blacks in
1854-58, in fact, said long ago, that the Australian _Bora_, or Mystery,
"involves the idea of dedication to God ". He asked old Billy Murri
Bundur whether men _worshipped_ Baiame at the Bora? "Of course they do,"
said Billy. Mr. Ridley, to whose evidence we shall return, was not the
only affirmative witness. Archdeacon Gunther had no doubt that Baiame
was equivalent to the Supreme Being, "a remnant of original traditions,"
and it was Mr. Günther, not Mr. Ridley, who spoke of "traces" of
Baiame's eternity, omnipotence and goodness. Mr. Ridley gave similar
reports from evidence collected by the committee of 1858. He found the
higher creeds most prominent in the interior, hundreds of miles from the

Apparently the reply of Gustav Roskoff to Sir John Lubbock (1880) did
not alter that writer's opinion. Roskoff pointed out that Waitz-Gerland,
while denying that Australian beliefs were derived from any higher
culture, denounced the theory that they have no religion as "entirely
false". "Belief in a Good Being is found in South Australia, New South
Wales, and the centre of the south-eastern continent."* The opinion of
Waitz is highly esteemed, and that not merely because, as Mr. Max Müller
has pointed out, he has edited Greek classical works. _Avec du Grec
on nepeut gâter rien_. Mr. Oldfield, in addition to bogles and a
water-spirit, found Biam (Baiame) and Namba-jundi, who admits souls into
his Paradise, while Warnyura torments the bad under earth.** Mr. Eyre,
publishing in 1845, gives Baiame (on the Morrum-bidgee, Biam; on the
Murray, Biam-Vaitch-y) as a source of songs sung at dances, and a cause
of disease. He is deformed, sits cross-legged, or paddles a canoe. On
the Murray he found a creator, Noorele, "all powerful, and of benevolent
character," with three unborn sons, dwelling "up among the clouds".
Souls of dead natives join them in the skies. Nevertheless "the
natives, as far as yet can be ascertained, have no religious belief
or ceremonies"; and, though Noorele is credited with "the origin of
creation," "he made the earth, trees, water, etc.," a deity, or Great
First Cause, "can hardly be said to be acknowledged".***

     * Waitz-Gerland, Anthropologic, vi. 794 et seq.

     ** Oldfield, Translations of Ethnol. Soc., iii. 208.   On
     this evidence I lay no stress.

     *** Eyre, Journals, ii. pp. 355-358.

Such are the consistent statements of Mr. Eyre! Roskoff also cites Mr.
Ridley, Braim, Cunningham, Dawson, and other witnesses, as opposed to
Sir John Lubbock, and he includes Mr. Tylor.* Mr. Tylor, later, found
Baiame, or Pei-a-mei, no earlier in literature than about 1840, in Mr.
Hale's _United States Exploring Expedition?_ Previous to that date,
Baiame, it seems, was unknown to Mr. Threlkeld, whose early works are of
1831-1857. He only speaks of Koin, a kind of goblin, and for lack of a
native name for God, Mr. Threlkeld tried to introduce Jehova-ka-biruê,
and Eloi, but failed. Mr. Tylor, therefore, appears to suppose that the
name, Baiame, and, at all events, his divine qualities, were introduced
by missionaries, apparently between 1831 and 1840.*** To this it must
be replied that Mr. Hale, about 1840, writes that "when the missionaries
first came to Wellington" (Mr. Threlkeld's own district) "Baiame was
worshipped there with songs". "These songs or hymns, _according to
Mr. Threlkeld_, were passed on from a considerable distance. It is
notorious that songs and dances are thus passed on, till they reach
tribes who do not even know the meaning of the words."****

     * Roskoff, Das Religionstoesen der Rohesten Naturvolher, pp.

     ** Ethnology and Philology, p. 110.    1846.

     *** Tylor, The Limits of Savage Religion, J. A. I., vol.
     xxi.    1892.

     **** Roth, Natives of N.-W. Central Queensland, p. 117.

In this way Baiame songs had reached Wellington before the arrival of
the missionaries, and for this fact Mr. Threlkeld (who is supposed not
to have known Baiame) is Mr. Hale's authority. In Mr. Tylor's opinion
(as I understand it) the word Baiame was the missionary translation of
our word "Creator," and derived from _Baia_ "to make". Now, Mr. Ridley
says that Mr. Greenway "discovered" this _baia_ to be the root of
Baiame. But what missionary introduced the word before 1840? Not Mr.
Threlkeld, for he (according to Mr. Tylor), did not know the word, and
he tried Eloi, and Jehova-ka-biru£, while Immanueli was also tried
and also failed* Baiame, known in 1840, does not occur in a missionary
primer before Mr. Ridley's _Gurre Kamilaroi_ (1856), so the missionary
primer did not launch Baiame before the missionaries came to Wellington.
According to Mr. Hale, the Baiame songs were brought by blacks from
a distance (we know how Greek mysteries were also _colportés_ to new
centres), and the yearly rite had, in 1840, been for three years in
abeyance. Moreover, the etymology, _Baia_ "to make" has a competitor
in "Byamee = Big Man".** Thus Baiame, as a divine being, preceded the
missionaries, and is not a word of missionary manufacture, while sacred
words really of missionary manufacture do not find their way into native
tradition. Mr. Hale admits that the ideas about Baiame may "possibly" be
of European origin, though the great reluctance of the blacks to adopt
any opinion from Europeans makes against that theory.***

     *  Ridley, speaking of 1855.    Lang's Queensland, p. 435.

     ** Mrs. Langloh Parker, More Australian Legendary Tales.
     1898. Glossary.

     *** Op. cit., p. 110.

It may be said that, if Baiame was premissionary, his higher attributes
date after Mr. Ridley's labours, abandoned for lack of encouragement
in 1858. In 1840, Mr. Hale found Baiame located in an isle of the
seas, like Circe, living on fish which came to his call. Some native
theologians attributed Creation to his Son, Burambin, the Demiurge, a
common savage form of Gnosticism.

On the nature of Baiame, we have, however, some curious early evidence
of 1844-45. Mr. James Manning, in these years, and earlier, lived "near
the outside boundaries of settlers to the south". A conversation with
Goethe, when the poet was eighty-five, induced him to study the native
beliefs. "No missionaries," he writes, "ever came to the southern
district at any time, and it was not till many years later that they
landed in Sydney on their way to Moreton Bay, to attempt, in vain,
to Christianise the blacks of that locality, before the Queensland
separation from this colony took place." Mr. Manning lost his notes
of 1845, but recovered a copy from a set lent to Lord Audley, and read
them, in November, 1882, to the Royal Society of New South Wales.
The notes are of an extraordinary character, and Mr. Manning, perhaps
unconsciously, exaggerated their Christian analogies, by adopting
Christian terminology. Dean Cowper, however, corroborated Mr. Manning's
general opinion, by referring to evidence of Archdeacon Gunther, who
sent a grammar, with remarks on "Bhaime, or Bhaiame," from Wellington to
Mr. Max Müller. "He received his information, he told me, from some of
the oldest blacks, who, he was satisfied, could not have derived their
ideas from white men, as they had not then had intercourse with them."
Old savages are not apt to be in a hurry to borrow European notions. Mr.
Manning also averred that he obtained his information with the greatest
difficulty. "They required such secrecy on my part, and seemed so afraid
of being heard even in the most secret places, that, in one or two
cases, I have seen them almost tremble in speaking." One native, after
carefully examining doors and windows, "stood in a wooden fireplace, and
spoke in a tone little above a whisper, and confirmed what I had before
heard". Another stipulated that silence must be observed, otherwise
the European hands might question his wife, in which case he would be
obliged to kill her. Mr. Howitt also found that the name of Darumulun
(in religion) is too sacred to be spoken except almost in whispers,
while the total exclusion of women from mysteries and religious
knowledge, on pain of death, is admitted to be universal among the
tribes.* Such secrecy, so widely diffused, is hardly compatible with
humorous imposture by the natives.

There is an element of humour in all things. Mr. Manning, in 1882,
appealed to his friend, Mr. Mann, to give testimony to the excellency
of Black Andy, the native from whom he derived most of his notes, which
were corroborated by other black witnesses. Mr. Mann arose and replied
that "he had never met one aborigine who had any true belief in a
Supreme Being". On cross-examination, they always said that they had got
their information from a missionary or other resident. Black Andy was
not alluded to by Mr. Mann, who regarded all these native religious
ideas as filtrations from European sources. Mr. Palmer, on the other
hand, corroborated Mr. Manning, who repeated the expression of his
convictions.** Such, then, is the perplexed condition of the evidence.

     * Howitt,.7. A. I., xiii. 193.

     ** Mr. Mann told a story of native magic, viewed by himself,
     which might rouse scepticism among persons not familiar with
     what these conjurers can do.

It may be urged that the secrecy and timidity of Mr. Manning's
informants, corresponding with Mr. Howitt's experience, makes for
the affirmative side; that, in 1845, when Mr. Manning made his notes,
missionaries were scarce, and that a native "cross-examined" by the
sceptical and jovial Mr. Mann, would probably not contradict. (Lubbock,
O. of C. p. 4.) Confidence is only won by sympathy, and one inquirer
will get authentic legends and folklore from a Celt, while another of
the ordinary English type will totally fail On this point Mr. Manning
says: "Sceptics should consider how easy it might be for intelligent
men to pass almost a lifetime among the blacks in any quarter of this
continent without securing the confidence even of the best of the
natives around them, through whom they might possibly become acquainted
with their religious secrets, secrets which they dare not reveal to
their own women at all, nor to their adult youths until the latter have
been sworn to reticence under that terrifying ceremony which my notes
describe". In the same way Mrs. Langloh Parker found that an European
neighbour would ask, "but have the blacks any legends?" and we have
cited Mr. Hartt on the difficulty of securing legends on the Amazon,
while Mr. Sproat had to live long among, and become very intimate with,
the tribes of British Columbia, before he could get any information
about their beliefs. Thus, the present writer is disinclined to believe
that the intelligence offered to Mr. Manning with shy secrecy in 1845
was wholly a native copy of recently acquired hints on religion derived
from Europeans, especially as Mr. Howitt, who had lived long among
the Kurnai, and had written copiously on them, knew nothing of their
religion, before, about 1882, he was initiated and admitted to the
knowledge like that of Mr. Manning in 1845 The theory of borrowing is
also checked by the closely analogous savage beliefs reported from North
America before a single missionary had arrived, and from Africa. For the
Australian, African and American ideas have a common point of contact,
not easily to be explained as deduced from Christianity. According,
then, to Mr. Manning, the natives believed in a being called Boyma,
who dwells in heaven, "immovably fixed in a crystal rock, with only the
upper half of a supernatural body visible". Now, about 1880, a native
described Baiame to Mr. Howitt as "a very great old man with a beard,"
and with crystal pillars growing out of his shoulders which prop up a
supernal sky. This vision of Baiame was seen by the native, apparently
as a result of the world-wide practice of crystal-gazing.* Mr. Tylor
suspects "the old man with the beard" as derived from Christian artistic
representations, but old men are notoriously the most venerated objects
among the aborigines. Turning now to Mrs. Langloh Parker's _More
Australian Legendary Tales_ (p. 90), we find Byamee "fixed to the
crystal rock on which he sat in Bullimah" (Paradise). Are we to suppose
that some savage caught at Christian teaching, added this feature of the
crystal rock from "the glassy sea" of the Apocalpyse, or from the
great white throne, and succeeded in securing wide acceptance and long
persistence for a notion borrowed from Europeans? Is it likely that the
chief opponents of Christianity everywhere, the Wirreenuns or sorcerers,
would catch at the idea, introduce it into the conservative ritual of
the Mysteries, and conceal it from women and children who are as open as
adults to missionary influence? Yet from native women and children the
belief is certainly concealed.

     * J. A. I., xvi. p. 49, 60.

Mr. Manning, who prejudices his own case by speaking of Boyma as "the
Almighty," next introduces us to a "Son of God" equal to the father as
touching his omniscience, and otherwise but slightly inferior. Mr.
Eyre had already reported on the unborn sons of Noorele, "there is
no mother". The son of Boyma's name is Grogoragally. He watches over
conduct, and takes the good to Ballima (Bullimah in Mrs. Langloh
Parker), the bad to Oorooma, the place of fire (gumby). Mr. Eyre had
attested similar ideas of future life of the souls with Noorele. (Eyre,
ii. 357.) In Mrs. Langloh Parker's book a Messenger is called "the
All-seeing Spirit," apparently identical with her Wallahgooroonbooan,
whose voice is heard in the noise of the _tundun_, or bull-roarer, used
in the Mysteries.*

     * More Legendary Tales, p. 86.

Grogoragally is unborn of any mother. He is represented by Mr. Manning
as a mediator between Boyma and the race of men. Here our belief is
apt to break down, and most people will think that Black Andy was a
well-instructed Christian catechumen. This occurred to Mr. Manning, who
put it plainly to Andy. He replied that the existence of names in the
native language for the sacred persons and places proved that they were
not of European origin. "White fellow no call budgery place (paradise)
'Ballima,' or other place 'Oorooma,' nor God 'Boyma,' nor Son
'Grogoragally,' only we black fellow think and call them that way in
our own language, before white fellow came into the country." A son or
deputy of the chief divine being is, in fact, found among the Kurnai and
in other tribes. He directs the mysteries. Here, then, Andy is backed by
Mr. Howitt's aboriginal friends. Their deity sanctioned morality "before
the white men came to Melbourne" (1835) and was called "Our Father" at
the same date.* Several old men insisted on this, as a matter of their
own knowledge. They were initiated before the arrival of Europeans.
Archdeacon Gunther received the same statements from old aborigines,
and Mr. Palmer, speaking of other notions of tribes of the North, is
perfectly satisfied that none of their ideas were derived from the
whites.** In any case, Black Andy's intelligence and logic are far
beyond what most persons attribute to his race. If we disbelieve him, it
must be on the score, I think, that he consciously added European ideas
to names of native origin. On the other hand, analogous ideas, not made
so startling as in Mr. Manning's Christian terminology, are found in
many parts of Australia.

     * J. A., xiii. p. 192, 193,

     ** Op. cit., p. 290.

Mr. Manning next cites Moodgeegally, the first man, immortal, a Culture
Hero, and a messenger of Boyma's. There are a kind of rather mediaeval
fiends, Waramolong, who punish the wicked (murderers, liars and breakers
of marriage laws) in Gumby. Women do not go to Ballima, Boyma being
celibate, and women know nothing of all these mysteries; certainly this
secrecy is not an idea of Christian origin. If women get at the secret,
the whole race must be exterminated, men going mad and slaying each
other. This notion we shall see is corroborated. But if missionaries
taught the ideas, women must know all about them already. Mr. Manning's
information was confirmed by a black from 300 miles away, who called
Grogoragally by the name of Boymagela. There are no prayers, except
for the dead at burial: corroborated by Mrs. Langloh Parker's beautiful
Legend of Eerin. "Byamee," the mourners cry, "let in the spirit of Eerin
to Bullimah. Save him from Eleanbah wundah, abode of the wicked. For
Eerin was faithful on earth, faithful to the laws you left us!"* The
creed is taught to boys when initiated, with a hymn which Mr. Manning's
informant dared not to reveal. He said angrily that Mr. Manning already
knew more than any other white man. Now, to invent a hymn could not have
been beyond the powers of this remarkable savage, Black Andy. The "Sons"
of Baiame answer, we have seen, to those ascribed to Noorele, in Mr.
Eyre's book. They also correspond to Daramulun where he is regarded as
the son of Baiame, while the Culture Hero, Moodgeegally, founder of the
Mysteries, answers to Tundun, among the Kurnai.** We have, too, in
Australia, Dawed, a subordinate where Mangarrah is the Maker in the
Larrakeah tribe.***

     * More Australian Tales, p. 96.

     ** Howitt, J. A. /., 1885, p. 313.

     *** J. A. I., Nov., 1894, p. 191.

In some cases, responsibility for evil, pain, and punishment, are
shifted from the good Maker on to the shoulders of his subordinate.
This is the case, in early Virginia, with Okeus, the subordinate of
the Creator, the good Ahone.* We have also, in West Africa, the
unpropitiated Nyankupon, with his active subordinate, who has human
sacrifices, Bobowissi;** and Mulungu, in Central Africa, "possesses many
powerful servants, but is himself kept a good deal behind the scenes of
earthly affairs, like the gods of Epicurus".*** The analogy, as to the
Son, interpreter of the divine will, in Apollo and Zeus (certainly not
of Christian origin!) is worth observing. In the Andaman Islands, Mr.
Mann, after long and minute inquiry from the previously un-contaminated
natives, reports on an only son of Puluga, "a sort of archangel," who
alone is permitted to live with his father, whose orders it is his duty
to make known to the _moro-win_, his sisters, ministers of Puluga, the
angels, that is, inferior ministers of Puluga's will.****

     * William Strachey, Hakluyt Society, chapter vii., date,

     ** Ellis, Religion of the Tshi-speaking Races.

     *** Macdonald, Africana, vol. i. p. 67.

     ****J. A. I., xii. p. 158.

It is for science to determine how far this startling idea of the Son
is a natural result of a desire to preserve the remote and somewhat
inaccessible and otiose dignity of the Supreme Being from the exertion
of activity; and how far it is a savage refraction of missionary
teaching, even where it seems to be anterior to missionary influences,
which, with these races, have been almost a complete failure. The
subject abounds in difficulty, but the sceptic must account for
the marvellously rapid acceptance of the European ideas by the most
conservative savage class, the doctors or sorcerers; for the admission
of the ideas into the most conservative of savage institutions, the
Mysteries; for the extreme reticence about the ideas in presence of the
very Europeans from whom they are said to have been derived; and in
some cases for the concealment of the ideas from the women, who, one
presumes, are as open as the men to missionary teaching. It is very
easy to talk of "borrowing," not so easy to explain these points on the
borrowing theory, above all, when evidence is frequent that the ideas
preceded the arrival of Christian teachers.

On this crucial point, the question of borrowing, I may cite Mr. Mann as
to the Andamanese beliefs. Mr. Mann was for eleven years in the islands,
and for four years superintended our efforts to "reclaim" some natives.
He is well acquainted with the South Andaman dialect, and has made
studies of the other forms of the language. This excellent witness
writes: "It is extremely improbable that their legends were the result
of the teaching of missionaries or others". They have no tradition of
any foreign arrivals, and their reputation (undeserved) as cannibals,
with their ferocity to invaders, "precludes the belief" that any one
ever settled there to convert or instruct them. "Moreover, to regard
with suspicion, as some have done, the genuineness of such legends
argues ignorance of the fact that numerous other tribes, in equally
remote or isolated localities, have, when first discovered, been found
to possess similar traditions on the subject under consideration,"
Further, "I have taken special care not only to obtain my information
on each point from those who are considered by their fellow tribesmen
as authorities, but [also from those] who, from having had little or no
intercourse with other races, were in entire ignorance regarding any
save their own legends," which, "they all agree in stating, were
handed down to them by their first parent, To-mo, and his immediate
descendants".* What Mr. Mann says concerning the unborrowed character
of Andaman beliefs applies, of course, to the yet more remote and
inaccessible natives of Australia.

In what has been, and in what remains to be said, it must be remembered
that the higher religious ideas attributed to the Australians are not
their only ideas in this matter. Examples of their wild myths have
already been offered, they are totemists, too, and fear, though they do
not propitiate, ghosts. Vague spirits unattached are also held in dread,
and inspire sorcerers and poets,** as also does the god Bunjil.***

     * J. A. I., xii. pp. 156, 157.

     ** Ibid.y xvi., pp. 330, 331. On Bunjil.

     *** In Folk-Lore, December, 1898, will be found an essay,
     Mr. Hartland, on my account of Australian gods. Instancing
     many wild or comic myths (some of them unknown to me when I
     wrote 'The Making of Religion'), Mr. Hartland seems to argue
     that these destroy the sacredness of other coexisting native
     beliefs of a higher kind. But, on this theory, what religion
     is sacred?   All have contradictory myths.    See

Turning from early accounts of Australian religion, say from 1835 to
1845, we look at the more recent reports. The best evidence is that
of Mr. Howitt, who, with Mr. Fison, laid the foundations of serious
Australian anthropology in _Kamilaroi and Kurnai_ (1881). In 1881,
Mr. Howitt, though long and intimately familiar with the tribes of
Gippsland, the Yarra, the Upper Murray, the Murumbidgee, and other
districts, had found no trace of belief in a moral Supreme
Being. He was afterwards, however, initiated, or less formally let into
the secret, by two members of Brajerak (wild) black fellows, not of
the same tribe as the Kurnai. The rites of these former aborigines are
called Kuringal. Their supreme being is Daramulun "believed in from the
sea-coast across to the northern boundary claimed by the Wolgal, about
Yass and Gundagai, and from Omeo to at least as far as the Shoalhaven
River.... He was not, as it seems to me, everywhere thought to be a
malevolent being, but he was dreaded as one who could severely punish
the trespasses committed against these tribal ordinances and customs,
whose first institution is ascribed to him.... It was taught also that
Daramulun himself watched the youths from the sky, prompt to punish by
sickness or death the breach of his ordinances." These are often mere
taboos; an old man said: "I could not eat Emu's eggs. _He_ would be
very angry, and perhaps I should die." It will hardly be argued that
the savages have recently borrowed from missionaries this conception of
Daramulun, as the originator and guardian of tribal taboos. Opponents
must admit him as of native evolution in that character at least. The
creed of Daramulun is not communicated to women and children. "It is
said that the women among the Ngarego and Wolgal knew only that a great
being lived beyond the sky, and that he was spoken of by them as Papang
(Father). This seemed to me when I first heard it to bear so suspicious
a resemblance to a belief derived from the white men, that I thought it
necessary to make careful and repeated inquiries. My Ngarego and Wolgal
informants, two of them old men, strenuously maintained that it was so
before the white men came." They themselves only learned the doctrine
when initiated, as boys, by the old men of that distant day. The name
Daramulun, was almost whispered to Mr. Howitt, and phrases were used
such as "He," "the man," "the name I told you of". The same secrecy was
preserved by a Woi-worung man about Bunjil, or Pund-jel, "though he
did not show so much reluctance when repeating to me the 'folk-lore' in
which the 'Great Spirit' of the Kulin plays a part". "He" was used,
or gesture signs were employed by this witness, who told how his
grandfather had warned him that Bunjil watched his conduct from a star,
"he can see you and all you do down here,"--"before the white men came
to Melbourne." (1835).*

     * J. A. I.f xiii, 1884, pp. 192, 193.

Are we to believe that this mystic secrecy is kept up, as regards white
men, about a Being first heard of from white men? And is it credible
that the "old men," the holders of tribal traditions, and the most
conservative of mortals, would borrow a new divinity from "the
white devils," conceal the doctrine from the women (as accessible to
missionary teaching as themselves), adopt the new Being as the founder
of the antique mysteries, and introduce him into the central rite? And
can the natives have done so steadily, ever since about 1840 at least?
To believe all this is to illustrate the credulity of scepticism.

Mr. Howitt adds facts about tribes "from Twofold Bay to Sydney, and as
far west, at least, as Hay". Here, too, Daramulun instituted the rites;
his voice is heard in the noise of the whirling _mudji_ (bull-roarer).
"The muttering of thunder is said to be his voice 'calling to the rain
to fall, and make the grass grow up green'." Such are "the very words of
Umbara, the minstrel of the tribe".*

At the rites, respect for age, for truth, for unprotected women and
married women, and other details of sexual morality, is inculcated
partly in obscene dances. A magic ceremony, resembling mesmeric passes,
and accompanied by the word "Good" (_nga_) is meant to make the boys
acceptable to Daramulun. A temporary image of him is made on raised
earth (to be destroyed after the rites), his attributes are then
explained. "This is the Master (Biamban) who can go anywhere and do
anything."** An old man is buried, and rises again. "This ceremony is
most impressive." "The opportunity is taken of impressing on the mind
of youth, in an indelible manner, those rules of conduct which form the
moral law of the tribe." "There is clearly a belief in a Great Spirit,
or rather an anthropomorphic Supernatural Being, the Master of All,
whose abode is above, the sky, and to whom are attributed powers
of omnipotence and omnipresence, or, at any rate, the power to do
anything and go anywhere.... To his direct ordinance are attributed the
social and moral laws of the community." Mr. Howitt ends, "I venture to
assert that it can no longer be maintained that [the Australians]
have no belief which can be called religious--that is, in the sense of
beliefs which govern tribal and individual morality under a supernatural

     * J. A. I., 1884, p. 446.

     ** Op. cit., p. 453.

     *** J. A. I., 1884, p. 459.

Among the rites is one which "is said to be intended to teach the boys
to speak the straightforward truth, and the kabos (mystagogues) thus
explain it to them ".*

It is, perhaps, unfortunate that Mr. Howitt does not give a full account
of what the morality thus sanctioned includes. Respect for age, for
truth, for unprotected women, and for nature (as regards avoiding
certain unnatural vices) are alone spoken of, in addition to taboos
which have no relation to developed morality. Mr. Palmer, in speaking
of the morality inculcated in the mysteries of the Northern Australians,
adds to the elements of ethics mentioned by Mr. Howitt in the south,
the lesson "not to be quarrelsome". To each lad is given, "by one of the
elders, advice so kindly, fatherly and impressive, as often to soften
the heart, and draw tears from the youth".**

     * J. A. 1., xiii. 444.

     ** Ibid., xlii 296.

So far, the morality religiously sanctioned is such as men are likely
to evolve, and probably no one will maintain that it must have been
borrowed from Europeans. It is argued that the morality is only such as
the tribes would naturally develop, mainly in the interests of the
old (the ruling class) and of social order (Hart-land, _op. cit_. pp.
316-329). What else did any one ever suppose the _mores_ of a people
to be, _plus_ whatever may be allowed for the effects of kindliness,
or love, which certainly exists? I never hinted at morals divinely and
supernormally revealed. All morality had been denied to the Australians.
Yet in the religious rites they are "taught to speak the straightforward
truth"! As regards women, there are parts of Australia where disgusting
laxity prevails, except in cases prohibited by the extremely complex
rules of forbidden degrees. Such parts are Central Australia and
North-west Central Queensland.*

Another point in Mr. Howitt's evidence deserves notice. He at first
wrote "The Supreme Being who is believed in by all the tribes I refer to
here, either as a benevolent or more frequently as a malevolent being,
it seems to me represents the defunct headman ". We have seen that Mr.
Howitt came to regard "malevolence" as merely the punitive aspect of the
"Supreme Being ". As to the theory that such a being represents a dead
headman, no proof is anywhere given that ghosts of headmen are in any
way propitiated. Even "corpse-feeding" was represented to Mr. Dawson
by intelligent old blacks, as "white fellows' gammon".** Mrs. Langloh
Parker writes to me that she, when she began to study the blacks, "had,
I must allow, a prejudice in favour of Mr. Herbert Spencer's theory--it
seemed so rational, but, accepting my savages' evidence, I must discard
it". As to "offerings of food to the dead," Mrs. Langloh Parker found
that nothing was offered except food "which happened to be in the
possession of the corpse," at his decease.

For these reasons it is almost inconceivable that the "Supreme Being"
should "represent a dead headman," as to dead men of any sort no tribute
is paid. Mr. Howitt himself appears to have abandoned the hypothesis
that Daramulun represents a dead headman, for he speaks of him as the
"Great Spirit," or rather an "anthropomorphic Supernatural Being",***

     * Spencer and Gillen, and Roth.

     ** Dawson, Aborigines of Australia.

     *** J. A. I., 1884, p. 458.

A Great Spirit might, conceivably, be developed out of a little spirit,
even out of the ghost of a tribesman. But to the conception of a
"supernatural anthropomorphic being," the idea of "spirit" is not
necessary. Men might imagine such an entity before they had ever dreamed
of a ghost.

Having been initiated into the secrets of one set of tribes, Mr. Howitt
was enabled to procure admission to those of another group of "clans,"
the Kurnai. For twenty-five years the Jeraeil, or mystery, had been
in abeyance, for they are much in contact with Europeans. The old men,
however, declared that they exactly reproduced (with one confessed
addition) the ancestral ceremonies. They were glad to do it, for their
lads "now paid no attention either to the words of the old men, or to
those of the missionaries".*

     *J. A. I.,1885, p. 304.

This is just what usually occurs. When we meet a savage tribe we destroy
the old bases of its morality and substitute nothing new of our own.
"They pay no attention to the words of the missionaries," but loaf,
drink and gamble like station hands "knocking down a cheque ".

Consequently a rite unknown before the arrival of Europeans is now
introduced at the Jeraeil. Swift would have been delighted by this
ceremony. "It was thought that the boys, having lived so much among the
whites, had become selfish and no longer willing to share that which
they obtained by their own exertions, or had given to them, with their
friends." The boys were, therefore, placed in a row, and the initiator
or mystagogue stooped over the first boy, and, muttering some words
which I could not catch, he kneaded the lad's stomach with his hands.
This he did to each one successively, and by it the Kurnai supposed the
"greediness" (------) "of the youth would be expelled".*

     *  Op. cit., pp. 310, 311.

So far from unselfishness being a doctrine borrowed by the Kurnai from
Christians, and introduced into their rites, it is (as we saw in
the case of the Arunta of Central Australia) part of the traditional
morality--"the good old ancestral virtues," says Mr. Howitt--of the
tribes. A special ceremony is needed before unselfishness can be
inspired among blacks who have lived much among adherents of the Gospel.

Thus "one satiric touch" seems to demonstrate that the native ethics are
not of missionary origin.

After overcoming the scruples of the old men by proving that he really
was initiated in the Kuringal, Mr. Howitt was admitted to the central
rite of the Kurnai "showing the Grandfather". The essence of it is that
the _mystae_ have their heads shrouded in blankets. These are snatched
off, the initiator points solemnly to the sky with his throwing
stick (which propels the spears) and then points to the Tundun, or
bull-roarer. This object (------) was also used in the Mysteries of
ancient Greece, and is still familiar in the rites of savages in all
quarters of the world.

"The ancestral beliefs" are then solemnly revealed. It seems desirable
to quote freely the "condensed" version of Mr. Howitt. "Long ago there
was a great Being called Mungan-ngaur." Here a note adds that Mungan
means "Father," and "ngaur" means "Our".

"He has no other name among the Kurnai. In other tribes the Great
Supreme Being, besides being called 'father,' has a name, for example
Bunjil, Baiame, Daramulun." "This Being lived on the earth, and taught
the Kurnai... all the arts they know. He also gave them the names they
bear. Mungan-gnaur had a son" (the Sonship doctrine already noticed by
Mr. Manning) "named Tundun (the bull-roarer), who was married, and who
is the direct ancestor--the Weintwin or father's father--of the Kurnai.
Mungan-ngaur instituted the Jeraeil (mysteries) which was conducted by
Tundun, who made the instruments" (a large and a small bull-roarer, as
also in Queensland) "which bear the name of himself and his wife.

"Some tribal traitor impiously revealed the secrets of the Jeraeil to
women, and thereby brought down the anger of Mungan upon the Kurnai. He
sent fire which filled the wide space between earth and sky. Men went
mad, and speared one another, fathers killing their children, husbands
their wives, and brethren each other." This corroborates Black Andy.
"Then the sea rushed over the land, and nearly all mankind were drowned.
Those who survived became the ancestors of the Kurnai.... Tundun and his
wife became porpoises" (as Apollo in the Homeric hymn became a dolphin),
"Mungan left the earth, and ascended to the sky, where he still

     * Op. cit., pp. 313, 314.

Here the Son is credited with none of the mediatorial attributes in Mr.
Manning's version, but universal massacre, as a consequence of revealing
the esoteric doctrine, is common to both accounts.

Morals are later inculcated.

1. "To listen to and obey the old men.

2. "To share everything they have with their friends.

3. "To live peaceably with their friends.

4. "Not to interfere with girls or married women.

5. "To obey the food restrictions until they are released from them by
the old men." [As at Eleusis.]

These doctrines, and the whole belief in Mungan-ngaur, "the Kurnai
carefully concealed from me," says Mr. Howitt, "until I learned them
at the Jeraeil".* Mr. Howitt now admits, in so many words, that
Mungan-ngaur "is rather the beneficent father, and the kindly though
severe headman of the whole tribe.... than the malevolent wizard".... He
considers it "perhaps indicative of great antiquity, that this identical
belief forms part of the central mysteries of a tribe so isolated as the
Kurnai, as well as of those of the tribes which had free communication
one with another".

As the morals sanctioned by Mungan-ngaur are simply the extant tribal
morals (of which unselfishness is a part, as in Central Australia),
there seems no reason to attribute them to missionaries--who are quite
unheeded. This part of the evidence may close with a statement of Mr.
Howitt's: "Beyond the vaulted sky lies the mysterious home of that great
and powerful Being who is Bunjil, Baiame, or Dara-mulun in different
tribal languages, but who in all is known by a name, the equivalent of
the only one used by the Kurnai, which is Mungan-ngaur, Our Father".**

     * Op. cit. 321, note 3

     ** J. A. I., xvi. 64.

Other affirmative evidence might be adduced. Mr. Ridley, who wrote
primers in the Kamilaroi language as early as in 1856 (using Baiame for
God), says: "In every part of Australia where I have conversed with the
aborigines, they have a traditional belief in one Supreme Creator,"
and he wonders, as he well may, at the statement to the contrary in the
_Encyclopedia Britannica_, which rests solely on the authority, of Dr.
Lang, in Queensland. Of names for the Supreme Being, Mr. Ridley gives
Baiame, Anamba; in Queensland, Mumbal (Thunder) and, at Twofold Bay,
"Dhu-rumbulum, which signifies, in the Namoi, a sacred staff, originally
given by Baiame, and is used as the title of Deity".*

By "staff" Mr. Ridley appears to indicate the Tundun, or bull-roarer.
This I venture to infer from Mr. Matthews' account of the Wiradthuri
(New South Wales) with whom Dhuramoolan is an extinct bugbear, not
answering to Tundun among the Kurnai, who is subordinate, as son, to
Mungan-ngaur, and is associated with the mystic bull-roarer, as is
Gayandi, the voice of the Messenger of Baiame, among Mrs. Langloh
Parker's informants.** In one tribe, Dara-mulun used to carry off and
eat the initiated boys, till he was stopped and destroyed by Baiame.
This myth can hardly exist, one may suppose, among such tribes as
consider Daramulun to preside over the mysteries.

     * J. A. I., ii. (1872), 268, 270.

     ** Ibid., xxv. 298.

Living in contact with the Baiame-worshipping Kamilaroi, the Wiradthuri
appear to make a jest of the power of Daramulun, who (we have learned)
is said to have died, while his "spirit" dwells on high.* Mr. Green way
also finds Turramulan to be subordinate to Baiame, who "sees all, and
knows all, if not directly, through Turramulan, who presides at the
Bora.... Turramulan is mediator in all the operations of Baiame upon
man, and in all man's transactions with Baiame. Turramulan means "leg on
one side only," "one-legged". Here the mediatorial aspect corroborates
Mr. Manning's information.** I would suggest, _periculo meo_, that
there may have been some syncretism, a Baiame-worshipping tribe adopting
Daramulun as a subordinate and mediator; or Baiame may have ousted
Daramulun, as Zeus did Cronos.

Mr. Ridley goes on to observe that about eighteen years ago (that is, in
1854) he asked intelligent blacks "if they knew Baiame". The answer was:
"Kamil zaia zummi Baiame, zaia winuzgulda," "I have not seen Baiame,
I have heard or perceived him". The same identical answer was given in
1872 "by a man to whom I had never before spoken". "If asked who made
the sky, the earth, the animals and man, they always answer 'Baiame'."
Varieties of opinion as to a future life exist. All go to Baiame, or
only the good (the bad dying eternally), or they change into birds!***

     * J. A. I., xii. 194.

     ** Ibid., vii. 242.

     *** Ibid., ii. 269.

Turning to North-west Central Queensland we find Dr. Roth (who knows
the language and is partly initiated) giving Mul-ka-ri as "a benevolent,
omnipresent, supernatural being. Anything incomprehensible." He offers
a sentence: "Mulkari tikkara ena" = "Lord (who dwellest) among the sky".
Again: "Mulkari is the supernatural power who makes everything which the
blacks cannot otherwise account for; he is a good, beneficent person,
and never kills any one". He initiates medicine men. His home is in the
skies. He once lived on earth, and there was a culture-hero, inventing
magic and spells. That Mulkari is an ancestral ghost as well as a
beneficent Maker I deem unlikely, as no honours are paid to the dead.
"Not in any way to refer to the dead appears to be an universal
rule among all these tribes."* Mulkari has a malignant opposite or

Nothing is said by Dr. Roth as to inculcation of these doctrines at the
Mysteries, nor do Messrs. Spencer and Gillen allude to any such being
in their accounts of Central Australian rites, if we except the
"self-existing" "out of nothing" Ungambikula, sky-dwellers.

One rite "is supposed to make the men who pass through it more kindly,"
we are not told why.** We have also an allusion to "the great spirit
Twangirika," whose voice (the women are told) is heard in the noise of
the bull-roarer.***

     * Roth, pp. 14, 36, 116, 153,158, 165.

     ** Spencer and Gillen, p. 369.

     *** Ibid., p. 246.

"The belief is fundamentally the same as that found in all Australian
tribes," write the authors, in a note citing Tundun and Daramulun. But
they do not tell us whether the Arunta belief includes the sanction, by
Twangirika, of morality. If it does not, have the Central Australians
never developed the idea, or have they lost it? They have had quite as
much experience of white men (or rather much more) than the believers in
Baiame or Bunjil, "before the white men came to Melbourne," and, if one
set of tribes borrowed ideas from whites, why did not the other?

The evidence here collected is not exhaustive. We might refer to
Pirnmeheal, a good being, whom the blacks loved before they were taught
by missionaries to fear him.*

     * Dawson, The Australian Aborigines.

Mr. Dawson took all conceivable pains to get authentic information,
and to ascertain whether the belief in Pirnmeheal was pre-European. He
thinks it was original. The idea of "god-borrowing" is repudiated by
Manning, Gunther, Ridley, Green-way, Palmer, Mrs. Langloh Parker
and others, speaking for trained observers and (in several cases) for
linguists, studying the natives on the spot, since 1845. It is thought
highly improbable by Mr. Hale (1840). It is rejected by Waitz-Gerland,
speaking for studious science in Europe. Mr. Howitt, beginning with
distrust, seems now to regard the beliefs described as of native origin.
On the other hand we have Mr. Mann, who has been cited, and the great
authority of Mr. E. B. Tylor, who, however, has still to reply to the
arguments in favour of the native origin of the beliefs which I have
ventured to offer. Such arguments are the occurrence of Baiame before
the arrival of missionaries; the secrecy, as regards Europeans, about
ideas derived (Mr. Tylor thinks) from Europeans; the ignorance of the
women on these heads; the notorious conservatism of the "doctors"
who promulgate the creed as to ritual and dogma, and the other
considerations which have been fully stated. In the meanwhile I venture
to think, subject to correction, that, while Black Andy may have
exaggerated, or Mr. Manning may have coloured his evidence by Christian
terminology, and while mythical accretions on a religious belief are
numerous, yet the lowest known human race has attained a religious
conception very far above what savages are usually credited with, and
has not done so by way of the "ghost-theory" of the anthropologists. In
this creed sacrifice and ghost-worship are absent.*

It has seemed worth while to devote space and attention to the
Australian beliefs, because the vast continent contains the most
archaic and backward of existing races. We may not yet have a sufficient
collection of facts microscopically criticised, but the evidence here
presented seems deserving of attention. About the still more archaic
but extinct Tasmanians and their religion, evidence is too scanty, too
casual, and too conflicting for our purpose.**

     *  These Australian gods are confusing.

     1.  Daramulun is supreme among the Coast Murring. J. A. I.,
     ziv. 432-459.

     2.  Baiame is supreme, Daramulun is an extinct bugbear,
     among the Wiradthuri.   J. A. I., xxv. 298.

     3.  Baiame is supreme, Daramulun is "mediator," among the
     Kamilaroi. J. A. I., vii. 242.

     ** See Ling Roth's _Tasmanians_.


     Bushmen gods--Cagn, the grasshopper?--Hottentot gods--"Wounded
     knee," a dead sorcerer--Melanesian gods--Qat and the spider
     --Aht and Maori beasts-gods and men-gods--Samoan form of
     animal-gods--One god incarnate in many animal shapes--One
     for each clan--They punish the eating of certain animals.

Passing from Australia to Africa, we find few races less advanced than
the Bushmen (_Sa-n_, "settlers," in Nama). Whatever view may be taken of
the past history of the Bushmen of South Africa, it is certain that at
present they are a race on a very low level of development. "Even the
Hottentots," according to Dr. Bleek, "exceed the Bushmen in civilisation
and political organisation".*

     * See Waitz, Anthrop. Nat. Volk, ii. 323-329.

Before investigating the religious myths of the Bushmen, it must be
repeated that, as usual, their religion is on a far higher level than
their mythology. The conception of invisible or extra-natural powers,
which they entertain and express in moments of earnest need, is all
unlike the tales which they tell about their own.

Our main authorities at present for Bushman myths are contained in
A Brief Account of Bushman Folk-lore, Bleek, London, 1875; and in A
Glimpse into the Mythology of the Maluti Bushmen, by Mr. Orpen, Chief
Magistrate, St. John's Territory, Cape Monthly Magazine, July, 1874.
Some information may also be gleaned from the South African Folk-lore
Journal, 1879-80, gods, if gods such mythical beings may be called. Thus
Livingstone says: "On questioning intelligent men among the Bakwains as
to their former knowledge of good and evil, of God and the future state,
they have scouted the idea of any of them ever having been without a
tolerably clear conception on all these subjects".* Their ideas of sin
were the same as Livingstone's, except about polygamy, and apparently
murder. Probably there were other trifling discrepancies. But "they
spoke in the same way of the direct influence exercised by God in
giving rain in answer to the prayers of the rain-makers, and in granting
deliverance in times of danger, as they do now, before they ever heard
of white men ". This was to be expected. In short, the religion of
savages, in its childlike and hopeful dependence on an invisible friend
or friends, in its hope of moving him (or them) by prayer, in its belief
that he (or they) "make for righteousness," is absolutely human. On
the other side, as in the myths of Greece or India, stand the absurd and
profane anecdotes of the gods.

     * Missionary Travels, p. 158.

We now turn to a Bushman's account of the religious myths of his tribe.
Shortly after the affair of Langa-libalele, Mr. Orpen had occasion to
examine an unknown part of the Maluti range, the highest mountains in
South Africa. He engaged a scout named Qing, son of a chief of an almost
exterminated clan of hill Bushmen. He was now huntsman to King Nqusha,
Morosi's son, on the Orange River, and _had never seen a white man,
except fighting_. Thus Qing's evidence could not be much affected by
European communications. Mr. Orpen secured the services of Qing, who
was a young man and a mighty hunter. By inviting him to explain the
wall-pictures in caves, Mr. Orpen led him on to give an account of Cagn,
the chief mythical being in Bushman religion. "Cagn made all things, and
we pray to him," said Qing. "At first he was very good and nice, but
he got spoilt through fighting so many things." "The prayer uttered by
Qing, 'in a low imploring voice,' ran thus: 'O Cagn, O Cagn, are we not
your children? Do you not see our hunger? Give us food.'" Where Cagn is
Qing did not know, "but the elands know. Have you not hunted and heard
his cry when the elands suddenly run to his call?"* Now comes in myth.
Cagn has a wife called Coti. "How came he into the world? Perhaps with
those who brought the sun;... only the initiated men of that dance know
these things."**

     * Another Bushman prayer, a touching appeal, is given in
     Alexander's Expedition, ii. 125, and a Khoi-Khoi hymn of
     prayer is in Hahn, pp. 56, 57.

     ** Cf. Custom and Myth, pp. 41, 42. It appears that the
     Bushmen, like the Egyptians and Greeks, hand down myths
     through esoteric societies, with dramatic mysteries.

Cagn had two sons, Cogaz and Gcwi. He and they were "great chiefs," but
used stone-pointed digging sticks to grub up edible roots! Cagn's wife
brought forth a fawn, and, like Cronus when Rhea presented him with a
foal, Cagn was put to it to know the nature and future fortunes of this
child of his. To penetrate the future he employed the ordinary native
charms and sorcery. The remainder of the myth accounts for the origin of
elands and for their inconvenient wildness. A daughter of Cagn's married
"snakes who were also men," the eternal confusion of savage thought.
These snakes became the people of Cagn. Cagn had a tooth which was
"great medicine"; his force resided in it, and he lent it to people
whom he favoured. The birds (as in Odin's case) were his messengers, and
brought him news of all that happened at a distance.*

     * Compare with the separable vigour of Cagn, residing in his
     tooth, the European and Egyptian examples of a similar
     myth--the lock of hair of Minos, the hair of Samson--in
     introduction to Mrs. Hunt's Grimm's Household Stories,
     p. lxxv.

He could turn his sandals and clubs into dogs, and set them at his
enemies. The baboons were once men, but they offended Cagn, and sang a
song with the burden, "Cagn thinks he is clever"; so he drove them into
desolate places, and they are accursed till this day. His strong point
was his collection of charms, which, like other Bushmen and Hottentots,
he kept "in his belt". He could, and did, assume animal shapes; for
example, that of a bull-eland. The thorns were once people, and killed
Cagn, and the ants ate him, but his bones were collected and he was
revived. It was formerly said that when men died they went to Cagn, but
it has been denied by later Bushmen sceptics.

Such is Qing's account of Cagn, and Cagn in myth is plainly but a
successful and idealised medicine-man whose charms actually work. Dr.
Bleek identifies his name with that of the mantis insect. This insect is
the chief mythological personage of the Bushmen of the western province.
Kággen his name is written. Dr. Bleek knew of no prayer to the mantis,
but was acquainted with addresses to the sun, moon and stars. If Dr.
Bleek's identification is correct, the Cagn of Qing is at once human and
a sort of grasshopper, just as Pund-jel was half human, half eagle-hawk.

"The most prominent of the mythological figures," says Dr. Bleek,
speaking of the Bushmen, "is the mantis." His proper name is Kaggen, but
if we call him Cagn, the interests of science will not seriously suffer.
His wife is the "Dasse Hyrax". Their adopted daughter is the porcupine,
daughter of _Khwdi hemm_, the All-devourer. Like Cronus, and many other
mythological persons, the All-devourer has the knack of swallowing
all and sundry, and disgorging them alive. Dr. Bleek offers us but
a wandering and disjointed account of the mantis or Cagn, who is
frequently defeated by other animals, such as the suricat. Cagn has one
point at least in common with Zeus. As Zeus was swallowed and disgorged
by Cronus, so was Cagn by _Khwái hemm_. As Indra once entered into the
body of a cow, so did Cagn enter into the body of an elephant. Dr. Bleek
did not find that the mantis was prayed to, as Cagn was by Qing. The
moon (like sun and stars) is, however, prayed to, and "the moon belongs
to the mantis," who, indeed, made it out of his old shoe! The chameleon
is prayed to for rain on occasion, and successfully.

The peculiarity of Bushman mythology is the almost absolute predominance
of animals. Except "an old woman," who appears now and then in these
incoherent legends, their myths have scarcely one human figure to show.
Now, whether the Bushmen be deeply degenerate from a past civilisation
or not, it is certain that their myths are based on their actual
condition of thought, unless we prefer to say that their intellectual
condition is derived from their myths. We have already derived the
constant presence and personal action of animals in myth from that
savage condition of the mind in which "all things, animate or inanimate,
human, animal, vegetable or inorganic, seem on the same level of life,
passion and reason" (chap. iii.). Now, there can be no doubt that,
whether the Bushman mind has descended to this stage or not, in this
stage it actually dwells at present. As examples we may select the
following from Dr. Bleek's _Bushman Folk-lore_. _Díalkwáin_ told how the
death of his own wife was "foretold by the springbok and the gems-bok".
Again, for examples of living belief in community of nature with
animals, Dialkwain mentioned an old woman, a relation, and friend of
his own, who had the power "of turning herself into a lioness". Another
Bushman, Kabbo, retaining, doubtless, his wide-awake mental condition in
his sleep, "dreamed of lions which talked". Another informant explained
that lions talk like men "by putting their tails in their mouth".

This would have pleased Sydney Smith, who thought that "if lions
would meet and growl out their observations to each other," they might
sensibly improve in culture. Again, "all things that belong to the
mantis can talk," and most things do belong to that famous being.
In "News from Zululand,"* in a myth of the battle of Isandlwana, a
blue-buck turns into a young man and attacks the British.

     * Folk-lore Journal of South Africa, i. iv. 83.

These and other examples demonstrate that the belief in the personal
and human character and attributes of animals still prevails in South
Africa. From that living belief we derive the personal and human
character and attributes of animals, which, remarkable in all
mythologies, is perhaps specially prominent in the myths of the Bushmen.

Though Bushman myth is only known to us in its outlines, and is
apparently gifted with even more than the due quantity of incoherence,
it is perhaps plain that animals are the chief figures in this African
lore, and that these Bushmen gods, if ever further developed, will
retain many traces of their animal ancestry.

From the Bushmen we may turn to their near neighbours, the Hottentots
or Khoi-Khoi. Their religious myths have been closely examined in Dr.
Hahn's _Tsuni Goam, the Supreme Being of the Khoi-Khoi_. Though Dr.
Hahn's conclusions as to the origin of Hottentot myth differ entirely
from our own, his collection and critical study of materials, of oral
traditions, and of the records left by old travellers are invaluable.
The early European settlers at the Cape found the Khoi-Khoi, that is,
"The Men," a yellowish race of people, who possessed large herds of
cattle, sheep and goats.* The Khoi-Khoi, as nomad cattle and sheep
farmers, are on a much higher level of culture than the Bushmen, who are

     * Op. cit. i. pp. 1, 32.

     ** Ibid., p. 5.

The languages of the two peoples leave "no more doubt as to their
primitive relationship" (p. 7). The wealth of the Khoi-Khoi was
considerable and unequally distributed, a respectable proof of nascent
civilisation. The rich man was called _gou, aob_, that is "fat". In the
same way the early Greeks called the wealthy "(------------)".* As
the rich man could afford many wives (which gives him a kind of
"commendation" over men to whom he allots his daughters), he "gradually
rose to the station of a chief".** In domestic relations, Khoi-Khoi
society is "matriarchal" (pp. 19-21 ).***

     * Herodotus, v. 30.

     ** Op. cit., p. 16.

     *** But speaking of the wife, Kolb calls "the poor wretch" a
     "drudge, exposed to the insults of her children",--English
     transl., p. 162.

All the sons are called after the mother, the daughters after the
father. Among the arts, pottery and mat-making, metallurgy and
tool-making are of ancient date. A past stone age is indicated by the
use of quartz knives in sacrifice and circumcision. In Khoi-Khoi society
seers and prophets were "the greatest and most respected old men of
the clan" (p. 24). The Khoi-Khoi of to-day have adopted a number of
Indo-European beliefs and customs, and "the Christian ideas introduced
by missionaries have amalgamated... with the national religious ideas
and mythologies," for which reasons Dr, Hahn omits many legends which,
though possibly genuine, might seem imported (pp. 30, 31).

A brief historical abstract of what was known to old travellers of
Khoi-Khoi religion must now be compiled from the work of Dr. Hahn.

In 1655 Corporal Müller found adoration paid to great stones on the
side of the paths. The worshippers pointed upwards and said _Hette hie_,
probably "Heitsi Eibib," the name of a Khoi-Khoi extra-natural being. It
appears (p. 37) that Heitsi Eibib "has changed names" in parts of South
Africa, and what was his worship is now offered "to |Garubeb, or Tsui
|Goab". In 1671 Dapper found that the Khoi-Khoi "believe there is one
who sends rain on earth;... they also believe that they themselves can
make rain and prevent the wind from blowing". Worship of the moon and of
"erected stones" is also noticed. In 1691 Nicolas Witsen heard that the
Khoi-Khoi adored a god which Dr. Hahn (p. 91) supposes to have been "a
peculiar-shaped stone-fetish," such as the Basutos worship and spit at.
Witsen found that the "god" was daubed with red earth, like the Dionysi
in Greece. About 1705 Valentyn gathered that the people believed in
"a great chief who dwells on high," and a devil; "but in carefully
examining this, it is nothing else but their _somsomas_ and _spectres_"
(p. 38). We need not accept that opinion. The worship of a "great chief"
is mentioned again in 1868. In 1719 Peter Kolb, the German Magister,
published his account of the Hottentots, which has been done into
English.* Kolb gives Gounja Gounja, or Gounja Ticqvoa, as the divine
name; "they say he is a good man, who does nobody any hurt,... and that
he dwells far above the moon ".** This corresponds to the Australian
Pirnmeheal. Kolb also noted propitiation of an evil power. He observed
that the Khoi-Khoi worship the mantis insect, which, as we have seen, is
the chief mythical character among the Bushmen.***

     * Second edition, London, 1788.

     ** Engl. transl., 95.

     *** Engl, transl., i. 97, gives a picture of Khoi-Khoi
     adoring the mantis.

Dr. Hahn remarks, "Strangely enough the Namaquas also call it |Gaunab,
as they call the enemy of Tsui |Goab".* In Kolb's time, as now, the
rites of the Khoi (except, apparently, their worship at dawn) were
performed beside cairns of stones. If we may credit Kolb, the Khoi-Khoi
are not only most fanatical adorers of the mantis, but "pay a religious
veneration to their saints and men of renown departed". Thunberg (1792)
noticed cairn-worship and heard of mantis-worship. In 1803 Lichtenstein
saw cairn-worship. With the beginning of the present century we find
in Apple-yard, Ebner and others Khoi-Khoi names for a god, which are
translated "Sore-Knee" or "Wounded-Knee ".

This title is explained as originally the name of a "doctor or sorcerer"
of repute, "invoked even after death," and finally converted into a
deity. His enemy is Gaunab, an evil being, and he is worshipped at the
cairns, below which he is believed to be buried.** About 1842 Knudsen
considered that the Khoi-Khoi believed in a dead medicine-man, Heitsi
Eibib, who could make rivers roll back their waves, and then walk over
safely, as in the _märchen_ of most peoples. He was also, like Odin, a
"shape-shifter," and he died several times and came to life again.***

     * Page 42; compare pp. 92, 125.

     ** Alexander, Expedition, i  166;  Hahn, op. cit., pp. 69,
     50, where Moffat is quoted.

     *** Hahn, p. 66.

Thus the numerous graves of Heitsi Eibib are explained by his numerous
deaths. In Egypt the numerous graves of Osiris were explained by the
story that he was mutilated, and each limb buried in a different place.
Probably both the Hottentot and the Egyptian legend were invented to
account for the many worshipped cairns attributed to the same corpse.

We now reach the myths of Heitsi Eibib and Tsui |Goab collected by Dr.
Hahn himself. According to the evidence of Dr. Hahn's own eyes, the
working religion of the Khoi-Khoi is "a firm belief in sorcery and the
arts of living medicine-men on the one hand, and, on the other, belief
in and adoration of the powers of the dead" (pp. 81, 82, 112, 113). Our
author tells us that he met in the wilds a woman of the "fat" or wealthy
class going to pray at the grave and to the manes of her own father. "We
Khoi-Khoi always, if we are in trouble, go and pray at the graves of
our grandparents and ancestors." They also sing rude epic verses,
accompanied by the dance in honour of men distinguished in the late
Namaqua and Damara war. Now it is alleged by Dr. Hahn that prayers are
offered at the graves of Heitsi Eibib and Tsui Goab, as at those of
ancestors lately dead, and Heitsi Eibib and Tsui Goab within living
memory were honoured by song and dance, exactly like the braves of the
Damara war.

The obvious and natural inference is that Heitsi Eibib and Tsui Goab
were and are regarded by their worshippers as departed but still helpful
ancestral warriors or medicine-men. We need not hold that they ever were
actual living men; they may be merely idealised figures of Khoi-Khoi
wisdom and valour. Here, as elsewhere, Animism, ghost-worship, is
potent, and, in proportion, theism declines.

Here Dr. Hahn offers a different explanation, founded on etymological
conjecture and a philosophy of religion. According to him, the name of
Tsui Goab originally meant, not wounded knee, but red dawn. The dawn
was worshipped as a symbol or suggestion of the infinite, and only by
forgetfulness and false interpretation of the original word did the
Khoi-Khoi fall from a kind of pure theosophy to adoration of a presumed
dead medicine-man. As Dr. Hahn's ingenious hypothesis has been already
examined by us,* it is unnecessary again to discuss the philological
basis of his argument.

Dr. Hahn not only heard simple and affecting prayers addressed to Tsui
Goab, but learned from native informants that the god had been a chief,
a warrior, wounded in his knee in battle with Gaunab, another chief, and
that he had prophetic powers. He still watches the ways of men (p. 62)
and punishes guilt. Universal testimony was given to the effect that
Heitsi Eibib also had been a chief from the East, a prophet and a
warrior. He apportioned, by blessings and curses, their present habits
to many of the animals. Like Odin, he was a "shape-shifter," possessing
the medicine-man's invariable power of taking all manner of forms. He
was on one occasion born of a cow, which reminds us of a myth of Indra.
By another account he was born of a virgin who tasted a certain kind
of grass. This legend is of wonderfully wide diffusion among savage and
semi-civilised races.**

     * Custom and Myth, pp. 197-211.

     ** Le Fits de la Vierge, H. de Charency, Havre, 1879. A tale
     of incest by Heitsi Eibib, may be compared with another in
     Muir's Sanskrit Texts, iv. 39.

The tales about Tsui Goab and Heitsi Eibib are chiefly narratives of
combats with animals and with the evil power in a nascent dualism,
Gaunab, "at first a ghost," according to Hahn (p. 85), or "certainly
nobody else but the Night" (pp. 125, 126). Here there is some
inconsistency. If we regard the good power, Tsui Goab, as the Red Dawn,
we are bound to think the evil power, Gaunab, a name for the Night.
But Dr. Hahn's other hypothesis, that the evil power was originally a
malevolent ghost, seems no less plausible. In either case, we have
here an example of the constant mythical dualism which gives the
comparatively good being his perpetual antagonist--the Loki to his Odin,
the crow to his eagle-hawk. In brief, Hottentot myth is pretty plainly
a reflection of Hottentot general ideas about ancestor worship, ghosts,
sorcerers and magicians, while, in their _religious_ aspect, Heitsi
Eibib or Tsui Goab are guardians of life and of morality, fathers and

A description of barbarous beliefs not less scholarly and careful
than that compiled by Dr. Hahn has been published by the Rev. R. H.
Codrington.* Mr. Codrington has studied the myths of the Papuans and
other natives of the Melanesian group, especially in the Solomon Islands
and Banks Island. These peoples are by no means in the lowest grade of
culture; they are traders in their way, builders of canoes and houses,
and their society is interpenetrated by a kind of mystic hierarchy,
a religious _Camorra_. The Banks Islanders** recognise two sorts of
intelligent extra-natural beings--the spirits of the dead and powers
which have never been human.

     * Journal Anthrop. Inst., February, 1881.

     ** Op. cit., p. 267.

The former are _Tamate_, the latter _Vui_--ghosts and _genii_, we
might call them. Vuis are classed by Mr. Codrington as "corporeal" and
"incorporeal," but he thinks the corporeal Vuis have not _human_
bodies. Among corporeal Vuis the chief are the beings nearest to gods in
Melanesian myths--the half god, half "culture-hero," I Qat, his eleven
brothers, and his familiar and assistant, Marawa. These were members of
a race anterior to that of the men of to-day, and they dwelt in Vanua
Levu. Though now passed away from the eyes of mortals, they are still
invoked in prayer. The following appeal by a voyaging Banks Islander
resembles the cry of the shipwrecked Odysseus to the friendly river:--

"Qat! Marawa! look down upon us; smooth the sea for us two, that I may
go safely on the sea. Beat down for me the crests of the tide-rip; let
the tide-rip settle down away from me; beat it down level that it may
sink and roll away, and I may come to a quiet landing-place."

Compare the prayer of Odysseus:--

"'Hear me, O king, whosoever thou art; unto thee am I come as to one
to whom prayer is made, while I flee the rebukes of Poseidon from the
deep....' So spake he, and the god straightway stayed his stream and
withheld his waves, and made the water smooth before him, and brought
him safely to the mouth of the river."

But for Qat's supernatural power and creative exploits,* "there would be
little indeed to show him other than a man". He answers almost precisely
to Maui, the "the culture-hero" of New Zealand. Qat's mother either was,
or, like Niobe, became a stone.

     *  See "Savage Myths of the Origin of Things".

He was the eldest (unlike Maui) of twelve brothers, among whom were
Tongaro the Wise and Tongaro the Fool. The brothers were killed by an
evil gluttonous power like Kwai Hemm and put in a food chest. Qat killed
the foe and revived his brothers, as the sons of Cronus came forth alive
from their father's maw. His great foe--for of course he had a foe--was
Qasavara, whom he destroyed by dashing him against the solid firmament
of sky. Qasavara is now a stone (like the serpent displayed by Zeus at
Aulis*), on which sacrifices are made. Qat's chief friend is Marawa, a
spider, or a Vui in the shape of a spider. The divine mythology of the
Melanesians, as far as it has been recovered, is meagre. We only see
members of a previous race, "magnified non-natural men," with a friendly
insect working miracles and achieving rather incoherent adventures.

     * Iliad, ii. 315-318.

Much on the same footing of civilisation as the Melanesians were
the natives of Tonga in the first decade of this century. The Tongan
religious beliefs were nearly akin to the ideas of the Samoans and of
the Solomon Islanders. In place of Vuis they spoke of Hotooas (Atuas),
and like the Vuis, those spiritual beings have either been purely
spiritual from the beginning or have been incarnate in humanity and are
now ghosts, but ghosts enjoying many of the privileges of gods. All men,
however, have not souls capable of a separate existence, only the _Egi_
or nobles, possess a spiritual part, which goes to Bolotoo, the land of
gods and ghosts, after death, and enjoys "power similar to that of the
original gods, but less".

It is open to philosophers of Mr. Herbert Spencer's school to argue that
the "original gods" were once ghosts like the others, but this was
not the opinion of the Tongans. They have a supreme Creator, who alone
receives no sacrifice.* Both sorts of gods appear occasionally to
mankind--the primitive deities particularly affect the forms of
"lizards, porpoises and a species of water-snake, hence those animals
are much respected".**

     * Mariner, ii. 205.

     ** Mariner's Tonga Islands, Edin., 1827, ii 99-101.

Whether each stock of Tongans had its own animal incarnation of its
special god does not appear from Mariner's narrative. The gods took
human morality under their special protection, punishing the evil and
rewarding the good, in this life only, not in the land of the dead.
When the comfortable doctrine of eternal punishment was expounded to the
Tongans by Mariner, the poor heathen merely remarked that it "was very
bad indeed for the Papalangies" or foreigners. Their untutored minds,
in their pagan darkness, had dreamed of no such thing. The Tongans
themselves are descended from some gods who set forth on a voyage of
discovery out of Bolotoo. Landing on Tonga, these adventurers were much
pleased with the island, and determined to stay there; but in a few days
certain of them died. They had left the deathless coasts for a world
where death is native, and, as they had eaten of the food of the new
realm, they would never escape the condition of mortality. This has been
remarked as a widespread belief. Persephone became enthralled to Hades
after tasting the mystic pomegranate of the underworld.

In Samoa Siati may not eat of the god's meat, nor Wainamoinen in
Pohjola, nor Thomas the Rhymer in Fairyland. The exploring gods from
Bolotoo were in the same way condemned to become mortal and people
the world with mortal beings, and all about them should be _méa máma_,
subject to decay and death.* It is remarkable, if correctly reported,
that the secondary gods, or ghosts of nobles, cannot reappear as
lizards, porpoises and water-snakes; this is the privilege of the
original gods only, and may be an assumption by them of a conceivably
totemistic aspect. The nearest approach to the idea of a permanent
supreme deity is contained in the name of Táli y Toobo--"wait there,
Toobo"--a name which conveys the notion perhaps of permanence or
eternity. "He is a great chief from the top of the sky to the bottom of
the earth."**

     * Mariner, ii. 115.

     ** Ibid., ii. 205.

He is invoked both in war and peace, not locally, but "for the general
good of the natives". He is the patron, not of any special stock or
family, but of the house in which the royal power is lodged for the
time. Alone of gods he is unpropitiated by food or libation, indicating
that he is not evolved out of a hungry ghost. Another god, Toobo Toty or
Toobo the Mariner, may be a kind of Poseidon. He preserves canoes
from perils at sea. On the death of the daughter of Finow, the king in
Mariner's time, that monarch was so indignant that he threatened to kill
the priest of Toobo Toty. As the god is believed to inspire the priest,
this was certainly a feasible way of getting at the god. But Toobo Toty
was beforehand with Finow, who died himself before he could carry the
war into Bolotoo.* This Finow was a sceptic; he allowed that there were
gods, because he himself had occasionally been inspired by them; "but
what the priests tell us about their power over mankind I believe to
be all false". Thus early did the conflict of Church and State declare
itself in Tonga. Human sacrifices were a result of priestcraft in Tonga,
as in Greece. Even the man set to kill a child of Toobo Toa's was moved
by pity, and exclaimed _O iaooe chi vale!_ ("poor little innocent!") The
priest demanded this sacrifice to allay the wrath of the gods for the
slaying of a man in consecrated ground.** Such are the religious ideas
of Tonga; of their mythology but little has reached us, and that is
under suspicion of being coloured by acquaintance with the stories of

     * Mariner, i. 307, it 107.

     ** Compare the ayos of the Alcmænidæ.

The Maoris, when first discovered by Europeans, were in a comparatively
advanced stage of barbarism. Their society had definite ranks, from that
of the Rangatira, the chief with a long pedigree, to the slave. Their
religious hymns, of great antiquity, have been collected and translated
by Grey, Taylor, Bastian and others. The mere possession of such hymns,
accurately preserved for an unknown number of years by oral tradition,
proves that the mythical notions of the Maoris have passed through the
minds of professed bards and early physical speculators. The verses,
as Bastian has observed (_Die Heilige Sage der Polynesier_), display a
close parallel to the roughest part of the early Greek cosmogonies, as
expounded by Hesiod. Yet in the Maori hymns there are metaphysical ideas
and processes which remind one more of Heraclitus than of Hesiod, and
perhaps more of Hegel than of either. Whether we are to regard the
abstract conceptions or the rude personal myths of gods such as A, the
Beyond All, as representing the earlier development of Maori thought,
whether one or the other element is borrowed, not original, are
questions which theorists of different schools will settle in their own
way to their own satisfaction. Some hymns represent the beginning of
things from a condition of thought, and Socrates might have said of
the Maori poets as he did of Anaxagoras, that compared with other early
thinkers, they are "like sober men among drunkards". Thus one hymn of
the origins runs thus:--

     From the conception the increase,
     From the increase the swelling,
     From the swelling the thought,
     From the thought the remembrance,
     From the remembrance the desire.
     The word became fruitful,
     It dwelt with the feeble glimmering,
     It brought forth Night.
     From the nothing the begetting,
     It produced the atmosphere which is above us.
     The atmosphere above dwelt with the glowing sky,
     Forthwith was produced the sun.
     Then the moon sprang forth.
     They were thrown up above as the chief eyes of heaven,
     Then the heavens became light.
     The sky which floats above dwelt with Hawaiki,*
     And produced (certain islands).

          * The islands of Hawaiki, being then the only land known, is
          put for Papa, the earth.

Then follow genealogies of gods, down to the chief in whose family this
hymn was traditional.*

     * Taylor, New Zealand, pp. 110-112.

Other hymns of the same character, full of such metaphysical and
abstract conceptions as "the proceeding from the nothing," are quoted at
great length.

These extracts are obviously speculative rather than in any sense
mythological The element of myth just shows itself when we are told that
the sky dwelt with the earth and produced certain islands. But myth of
a familiar character is very fully represented among the Maoris. Their
mythical gods, though "mixed up with the spirits of ancestors," are
great natural powers, first Heaven and Earth, Rangi and Papa, the
parents of all. These are conceived as having originally been united in
such a close embrace, the Heaven lying on the Earth, that between
their frames all was darkness, and in darkness the younger gods, Atua,
O-te-po, their children, were obliged to dwell. These children
or younger gods (answering to the Cronidæ) were the god of war
(Tumatauenga), the forest-god (Tane Mahuta), in shape a tree, the
wind-god (Tawhiri Matea), the gods of cultivated and natural fruits, the
god of ocean (Tangaroa). These gods were unable to endure the dungeon
and the darkness of their condition, so they consulted together and
said: "Let us seek means whereby to destroy Heaven and Earth, or to
separate them from each other". The counsel of Tane Mahuta prevailed:
"Let one go upwards and become a stranger to us; let the other remain
below and be a parent to us". Finally, Tane Mahuta rent asunder Heaven
and Earth, pushing Heaven up where he has ever since remained. The
wind-god followed his father, abode with him in the open spaces of the
sky, and thence makes war on the trees of the forest-god, his enemy.
Tangaroa went, like Poseidon, to the great deep, and his children, the
reptiles and fishes, clove part to the waters, part to the dry land. The
war-god, Tu, was more of a human being than the other gods, though his
"brethren" are plants, fish and reptiles. Still, Tu is not precisely
the first man of New Zealand.

Though all these mythical beings are in a sense departmental gods,
they yield in renown to a later child of their race, Maui, the great
culture-hero, who is an advanced form of the culture-heroes, mainly
theriomorphic, of the lower races.*

Maui, like many heroes of myth, was a youngest son. He was prematurely
born (a similar story comes in the Brahmanic legend of the Adityas);
his mother wrapped him up in her long hair and threw him out to sea. A
kinsman rescued him, and he grew up to be much the most important member
of his family, like Qat in his larger circle of brethren. Maui it was
who snared the sun, beat him,** and taught him to run his appointed
course, instead of careering at will and at any pace he chose about the

     * Te-Heu-Heu, a powerful chief, described to Mr. Taylor the
     departmental character of his gods. "Is there one maker of
     things among Europeans? Is not one a carpenter, another a
     blacksmith, another a shipbuilder? So it was in the
     beginning. One made this, another that. Tane made trees, Ru
     mountains, Tangaroa fish, and so forth." Taylor, New
     Zealand, p. 108, note.

     ** The sun, when beaten, cried out and revealed his great
     name, exactly as Indra did in his terror and flight after
     slaying the serpent. Taylor, op. cit., p. 131.

He was the culture-hero who invented barbs for spears and hooks; he
turned his brother into the first dog, whence dogs are sacred, he fished
New Zealand out of the sea; he stole fire for men. How Maui performed
this feat, and how he "brought death into the world and all our
woe," are topics that belong to the myths of _Death_ and of the
_Fire-Stealer_.* Maui could not only change men into animals, but could
himself assume animal shapes at will.

Such is a brief account of the ancient traditions of mythical Maori gods
and of the culture-hero. In practice, the conception of _Atua_ (or a
kind of extra-natural power or powers) possesses much influence in New
Zealand. All manner of spirits in all manner of forms are _Atuas_. "A
great chief was regarded as a malignant god in life, and a still worse
one after death."** Again, "after Maui came a host of gods, each with
his history and wonderful deeds.... These were ancestors who became
deified by their respective tribes,"***--a statement which must be
regarded as theoretical.

     *  See La Mythologie, A. L., Paris, 1886.

     ** Taylor, op. cit., pp. 134, 136.

     ***Op. cit., p. 136.

It is odd enough, if true, that Maru should be the war-god of the
southern island, and that the planet Mars is called after him Maru.
"There were also gods in human forms, and others with those of
reptiles.... At one period there seems to have been a mixed offspring
from the same parents. Thus while Tawaki was of the human form, his
brethren were _taniwa_ and sharks; there were likewise mixed marriages
among them." These legends are the natural result of that lack of
distinction between man and the other things in the world which, as
we demonstrated, prevails in early thought. It appears that the great
mythical gods of the Maoris have not much concern with their morality.
The myths are "but a magnified history of their chiefs, their wars,
murders and lusts, with the addition of some supernatural powers"--such
as the chiefs are very apt to claim.* In the opinion of a competent
observer, the gods, or Atua, who are feared in daily life, are "spirits
of the dead," and _their_ attention is chiefly confined to the conduct
of their living descendants and clansmen. They inspire courage, the
leading virtue. When converted, the natives are said not to expel,
but merely to subordinate their Atua, "believing Christ to be a more
powerful Atua".**

     * Op. cit., p. 137.

     ** Shortland, Trad, and Superst. of New Zealanders, 1856,
     pp. 83-85.

The Maoris are perhaps the least elevated race in which a well-developed
polytheism has obscured almost wholly that belief in a moral Maker which
we find among the lowest savages who have but a rudimentary polytheism.
When we advance to ancient civilised peoples, like the Greeks, we shall
find the archaic Theism obscured, or obliterated, in a similar way.

In the beliefs of Samoa (formerly called the Navigators' Islands,
and discovered by a Dutch expedition in 1722) may be observed a most
interesting moment in the development of religion and myth. In many
regions it has been shown that animals are worshipped as totems, and
that the gods are invested with the shape of animals. In the temples
of higher civilisations will be found divine images still retaining in
human form certain animal attributes, and a minor worship of various
beasts will be shown to have grouped itself in Greece round the altars
of Zeus, or Apollo, or Demeter. Now in Samoa we may perhaps trace the
actual process of the "transition," as Mr. Tylor says, "from the
spirit inhabiting an individual body to the deity presiding over all
individuals of a kind". In other words, whereas in Australia or America
each totem-kindred reveres each animal supposed to be of its own
lineage--the "Cranes" revering all cranes, the "Kangaroos" all
kangaroos--in Samoa the various clans exhibit the same faith, but
combine it with the belief that one spiritual deity reveals itself in
each separate animal, as in a kind of avatar. For example, the several
Australian totem-kindreds do not conceive that Pund-jel incarnates
himself in the emu for one stock, in the crow for another, in the
cockatoo for a third, and they do not by these, but by other means,
attain a religious unity, transcending the diversity caused by the
totemic institutions. In Samoa this kind of spiritual unity is actually
reached by various stocks.

The Samoans were originally spoken of by travellers as the "godless
Samoans," an example of a common error. Probably there is no people
whose practices and opinions, if duly investigated, do not attest their
faith in something of the nature of gods. Certainly the Samoans, far
from being "godless," rather deserve the reproach of being "in all
things too superstitious". "The gods were supposed to appear in some
_visible incarnation_, and the particular thing in which his god was in
the habit of appearing was to the Samoanan object of veneration."*

     * Turner's Samoa, p. 17.

Here we find that the religious sentiment has already become more or
less self-conscious, and has begun to reason on its own practices. In
pure totemism it is their kindred animal that men revere. The Samoans
explain their worship of animals, not on the ground of kinship and
common blood or "one flesh" (as in Australia), but by the comparatively
advanced hypothesis that a spiritual power is _in_ the animal. "One, for
instance, saw his god in the eel, another in the shark, another in the
turtle, another in the dog, another in the owl, another in the lizard,"
and so on, even to shell-fish. The creed so far is exactly what
Garcilasso de la Vega found among the remote and ruder neighbours of the
Incas, and attributed to the pre-Inca populations. "A man," as in
Egypt, and in totemic countries generally, "would eat freely of what
was regarded as the incarnation of the god of another man", but the
incarnation of his own god he would consider it death to injure or eat.
The god was supposed to avenge the insult by taking up his abode in that
person's body, and causing to generate there the very thing which he had
eaten until it produced death. The god used to be heard within the man,
saying, "I am killing this man; he ate my incarnation". This class of
tutelary deities they called _aitu fale_, or "gods of the house," gods
of the stock or kindred. In totemistic countries the totem is respected
_per se_, in Samoa the animal is worshipful because a god abides within
him. This appears to be a theory by which the reflective Samoans have
explained to themselves what was once pure totemism.

Not only the household, but the village has its animal gods or god
incarnate in an animal As some Arab tribes piously bury dead gazelles,
as Athenians piously buried wolves, and Egyptians cats, so in Samoa "if
a man found a dead owl by the roadside, and if that happened to be the
incarnation of his village god, he would sit down and weep over it, and
beat his forehead with a stone till the blood came. This was supposed to
be pleasing to the deity. Then the bird would be wrapped up and buried
with care and ceremony, as if it were a human body. This, however,
was not the death of the god." Like the solemnly sacrificed buzzard in
California, like the bull in the Attic _Dupolia_, "he was supposed to
be yet alive and incarnate in all the owls in existence".*

In addition to these minor and local divinities, the Samoans have gods
of sky, earth, disease and other natural departments.** Of their origin
we only know that they fell from heaven, and all were incarnated or
embodied in birds, beasts, plants, stones and fishes. But they can
change shapes, and appear in the moon when she is not visible, or in any
other guise they choose. If in Samoa the sky-god was once on the usual
level of sky-gods elsewhere, he seems now to be degenerate.

     * (------------------) Porph., De Abst.t ii. 29; Samoa, p.

     ** I am careful not to call Samoan sacred animals "Totems."
     to which Mr. Tylor justly objects, but I think the Samoan
     belief has Totemistic origins.


     Novelty of the "New World "--Different stages of culture
     represented there--Question of American Monotheism--
     Authorities and evidence cited--Myths examined: Eskimo,
     Ahts, Thlinkeets, Iroquois, the Great Hare--Dr. Brinton's
     theory of the hare--Zuni myths--Transition to Mexican

The divine myths of the vast American continent are a topic which a
lifetime entirely devoted to the study could not exhaust. At best it
is only a sketch in outline that can be offered in a work on the
development of mythology in general. The subject is the more interesting
as anything like systematic borrowing of myths from the Old World is all
but impossible, as has already been argued in chapter xi. America, it
is true, may have been partially "discovered" many times; there probably
have been several points and moments of contact between the New and the
Old World. Yet at the time when the Spaniards landed there, and while
the first conquests and discoveries were being pursued, the land and
the people were to Europeans practically as novel as the races and
territories of a strange planet.* But the New World only revealed the
old stock of humanity in many of its familiar stages of culture, and,
consequently, with the old sort of gods, and myths, and creeds.

     * Reville, Hibbert Lectures, 1884, p. 8

In the evolution of politics, society, ritual, and in all the outward
and visible parts of religion, the American races ranged between a
culture rather below the ancient Egyptian and a rudeness on a level with
Australian or Bushman institutions. The more civilised peoples, Aztecs
and Peruvians, had many peculiarities in common with the races of
ancient Egypt, China and India; where they fell short was in the lack
of alphabet or syllabary. The Mexican MSS. are but an advanced
picture-writing, more organised than that of the Ojibbeways; the
Peruvian Quipus was scarcely better than the Red Indian wampum records.
Mexicans and Peruvians were settled in what deserved to be called
cities; they had developed a monumental and elaborately decorated
architecture; they were industrious in the arts known to them, though
ignorant of iron. Among the Aztecs, at least, weapons and tools of
bronze, if rare, were not unknown. They were sedulous in agriculture,
disciplined in war, capable of absorbing and amalgamating with conquered

In Peru the ruling family, the Incas, enjoyed all the sway of a
hierarchy, and the chief Inca occupied nearly as secure a position,
religious, social and political, as any Rameses or Thothmes. In Mexico,
doubtless, the monarch's power was at least nominally limited, in much
the same way as that of the Persian king. The royal rule devolved on the
elected member of an ancient family, but once he became prince he was
surrounded by imposing ceremony. In both these two civilised peoples
the priesthood enjoyed great power, and in Mexico, though not so
extensively, if at all, in Peru, practised an appalling ritual of
cannibalism and human sacrifice. It is extremely probable, or rather
certain, that both of these civilisations were younger than the culture
of other American peoples long passed away, whose cities stand in
colossal ruin among the forests, whose hieroglyphs seem undecipherable,
and whose copper-mines were worked at an unknown date on the shore of
Lake Superior. Over the origin and date of those "crowned races" it
were vain to linger here. They have sometimes left the shadows of
names--Toltecs and Chichimecs--and relics more marvellous than the
fainter traces of miners and builders in Southern and Central Africa.
The rest is silence. We shall never know why the dwellers in Palenque
deserted their majestic city while "the staircases were new, the steps
whole, the edges sharp, and nowhere did traces of wear and tear give
certain proof of long habitation".* On a much lower level than the
great urban peoples, but tending, as it were, in the same direction,
and presenting the same features of state communism in their social
arrangements, were, and are, the cave and cliff dwellers, the
agricultural village Indians (Pueblo Indians) of New Mexico and Arizona.
In the sides of the cañons towns have been burrowed, and men have
dwelt in them like sand-martins in a sand-bank. The traveller views
"perpendicular cliffs everywhere riddled with human habitations, which
resemble the cells of a honeycomb more than anything else". In lowland
villages the dwellings are built of clay and stone.

* Nadaillac, Prehistoric America, p. 328.

"The San Juan valley is strewn with ruins for hundreds of miles; some
buildings, three storeys high, of masonry, are still standing."* The
Moquis, Zunis and Navahos of to-day, whose habits and religious rites
are known from the works of Mr. Cushing, Mr. Matthews, and Captain John
G. Bourke, are apparently descendants of "a sedentary, agricultural and
comparatively cultivated race," whose decadence perhaps began "before
the arrival of the Spaniards."**

Rather lower in the scale of culture than the settled Pueblo Indians
were the hunter tribes of North America generally. They dwelt, indeed,
in collections of wigwams which were partially settled, and the "long
house" of the Iroquois looks like an approach to the communal system of
the Pueblos.*** But while such races as Iroquois, Mandans and Ojibbeways
cultivated the maize plant, they depended for food more than did the
Pueblo peoples on success in the chase. Deer, elk, buffalo, the wild
turkey, the bear, with ducks and other birds, supplied the big kettle
with its contents. Their society was totemistic, as has already been
described; kinship, as a rule, was traced through the female line; the
Sachems or chiefs and counsellors were elected, generally out of
certain totem-kindreds; the war-chiefs were also elected when a military
expedition started on the war-path; and Jossakeeds or medicine-men (the
title varied in different dialects) had no small share of secular power.

     *Nadaillac, p. 222.

     ** Ibid., p. 257. See Bourke's Snake-Dance of the Natives of
     Arizona, and the fifth report of the Archaeological
     Institute of America, with an account of the development of
     Pueblo buildings. It seems scarcely necessary to discuss Mr.
     Lewis Morgan's attempt to show that the Aztecs of Cortes's
     time were only on the level of the modern Pueblo Indians.

     *** Mr. Lewis Morgan's valuable League of the Iroquois and
     the Iroquois Book of Rites (Brinton, Philadelphia, 1883) may
     be consulted.

In war these tribes displayed that deliberate cruelty which survived
under the Aztec rulers as the enormous cannibal ritual of human
sacrifice. A curious point in Red Indian custom was the familiar
institution of scalping the slain in war. Other races are head-hunters,
but scalping is probably peculiar to the Red Men and the Scythians.*

     * Herodotus, iv. 64.

On a level, yet lower than that of the Algonkin and other hunter tribes,
are the American races whom circumstances have driven into desolate
infertile regions; who live, like the Ahts, mainly on fish; like the
Eskimos, in a world of frost and winter; or like the Fuegians, on
crustaceans and seaweed. The minute gradations of culture cannot be
closely examined here, but the process is upwards, from people like the
Fuegians and Diggers, to the builders of the kitchen-middens--probably
quite equals of the Eskimos***--and so through the condition of Ahts.

     *** Nadaillac, Prehistoric America, p. 66.

The resemblance between Scythian and Red Indian manners exercised the
learned in the time of Grotius. It has been acutely remarked by J. G.
Müller, that in America one stage of society, as developed in the Old
World, is absent. There is no pastoral stage. The natives had neither
domesticated kine, goats nor sheep. From this lack of interest in the
well-being of the domesticated lower animals he is inclined to deduce
the peculiarly savage cruelty of American war and American religion.
Sympathy was undeveloped. Possibly the lack of tame animals may have
encouraged the prevalence of human sacrifice. The Brahmana shows how,
in Hindostan, the lower animals became vicarious substitutes for man in
sacrifice, as the fawn of Artemis or the ram of Jehovah took the
place of Iphigenia or of Isaac. Cf. J. G. Müller, Oeschichte der
Amerikanisehen Urreligionen, pp. 22, 23.

Thlinkeets, Cahrocs and other rude tribes of the North-west Pacific
Coast, to that of Sioux, Blackfeet, Mandans, Iroquois, and then to the
settled state of the Pueblo folk, the southern comforts of the Natchez,
and finally to the organisation of the Mayas, and the summit occupied by
the Aztecs and Incas.

Through the creeds of all these races, whether originally of the same
stock or not, run many strands of religious and mythical beliefs--the
very threads that are woven into the varied faiths of the Old World. The
dread of ghosts; the religious adoration paid to animals; the belief in
kindred and protecting beasts; the worship of inanimate objects, roughly
styled fetishes; a certain reverence for the great heavenly bodies, sun,
moon and Pleiades; a tendency to regard the stars, with all other things
and phenomena, as animated and personal--with a belief in a Supreme
Creator, these are the warp, as it were, of the fabric of American

     * The arguments against the borrowing of the Creator from
     missionaries have already been stated.

In one stage of culture one set of those ideas may be more predominant
than in another stage, but they are present in all. The zoo-morphic or
theriomorphic mythologies and creeds are nowhere more vivacious than in
America. Not content with the tribal zoomorphic guardian and friend,
the totem, each Indian was in the habit of seeking for a special animal
protector of his own. This being, which he called his Manitou,
revealed itself to him in the long fasts of that savage sacrament
which consecrates the entrance on full manhood. Even in the elaborate
religions of the civilised races, Peruvians and Aztecs, the animal
deities survive, and sacred beasts gather in the shrine of Pachacamac,
or a rudimentary remnant of ancestral beak or feather clings to the
statue of Huitzilopochtli. But among the civilised peoples, in which
the division of labour found its place and human ranks were minutely
discriminated, the gods too had their divisions and departments. An
organised polytheism prevailed, and in the temples of Centeotl and
Tlazolteotl, Herodotus or Pausanias would have readily recognised the
Demeter and the Aphrodite of Mexico.

There were departmental gods, and there was even an obvious tendency
towards the worship of one spiritual deity, the Bretwalda of all the
divine kings, a god on his way to becoming single and supreme. The
religions and myths of America thus display, like the myths and
religions of the Old World, the long evolution of human thought in its
seeking after God. The rude first draughts of Deity are there, and
they are by no means effaced in the fantastic priestly designs of
departmental divinities.

The question of a primitive American monotheism has been more debated
than even that of the "Heno-theism" of the Aryans in India. On this
point it must be said that, in a certain sense, probably any race of men
may be called monotheistic, just as, in another sense, Christians who
revere saints may be called polytheistic.*

     * Gaidoz, Revue Critique, March, 1887.

It has been constantly set forth in this work that, in moments of truly
religious thought, even the lowest tribes turn their minds towards a
guardian, a higher power, something which watches and helps the race of
men. This mental approach towards the powerful friend is an aspiration,
and sometimes a dogma; it is religious, not mythological; it is
monotheistic, not polytheistic. The Being appealed to by the savage in
moments of need or despair may go by a name which denotes a hawk, or a
spider, or a grasshopper, but we may be pretty sure that little thought
of such creatures is in the mind of the worshipper in his hour of need.*

     * There are exceptions, as when the Ojibbeway, being in
     danger, appeals to his own private protecting Manitou,
     perhaps a wild duck; or when the Zuni cries to "Ye animal
     gods, my fathers!" (Bureau of Ethnol., 1880-81, p. 42.) Thus
     we can scarcely agree entirely with M. Maurice Vernes when
     he says, "All men are monotheistic in the fervour of
     adoration or in moments of deep thought". (L'Histoire des
     Religions, Paris, 1887, p. 61.) The tendency of adoration
     and of speculation is, however, monotheistic.

Again, the most ludicrous or infamous tales may be current about the
adventures and misadventures of the grasshopper or the hawk. He may be,
as mythically conceived, only one out of a crowd of similar magnified
non-natural men or lower animals. But neither his companions nor his
legend are likely to distract the thoughts of the Bushman who cries to
Cagn for food, or of the Murri who tells his boy that Pund-jel watches
him from the heavens, or of the Solomon Islander who appeals to Qat as
he crosses the line of reefs and foam. Thus it may be maintained that
whenever man turns to a guardian not of this world, not present to the
senses, man is for the moment a theist, and often a monotheist. But when
we look from aspiration to doctrine, from the solitary ejaculation to
ritual, from religion to myth, it would probably be vain to suppose that
an uncontaminated belief in one God only, the maker and creator of all
things, has generally prevailed, either in America or elsewhere. Such
a belief, rejecting all minor deities, consciously stated in terms
and declared in ritual, is the result of long ages and efforts of
the highest thought, or, if once and again the intuition of Deity has
flashed on some lonely shepherd or sage like an inspiration, his creed
has usually been at war with the popular opinions of men, and has,
except in Islam, won its disciples from the learned and refined. America
seems no exception to so general a rule.

An opposite opinion is very commonly entertained, because the narratives
of missionaries, and even the novels of Cooper and others, have made
readers familiar with such terms as "the Great Spirit" in the mouths of
Pawnees or Mohicans. On the one hand, taking the view of borrowing, Mrs.
E. A. Smith says: "'The Great Spirit,' so popularly and poetically know
as the God of the Red Man,' and 'the happy hunting-ground,' generally
reported to be the Indian's idea of a future state, are both of them but
their ready conception of the white man's God and heaven".* Dr. Brinton,
too,** avers that "the Great Spirit is a post-Christian conception."
In most cases these terms are entirely of modern origin, coined at the
suggestion of missionaries, applied to the white man's God....

     * Bureau of Ethnology's Second Report, p. 52.

     **  Myths of the New World, New York, 1876, p. 58.

The Jesuits' _Relations_ state positively that there was "no one
immaterial God recognised by the Algonkin tribes, and that the title
'The Great Manito' was introduced first by themselves in its personal
sense." The statement of one missionary cannot be taken, of course, to
bind all the others. The Pere Paul le Jeune remarks: "The savages give
the name of Manitou to whatsoever in nature, good or evil, is superior
to man. Therefore when we speak of God, they sometimes call him 'The
Good Manitou,' that is, 'The Good Spirit'."* The same Pere Paul le
Jeune** says that by Manitou his flock meant _un ange ou quelque nature
puissante. Il y'en a de bons et de mauvais_. The evidence of Pere
Hierosme Lallemant*** has already been alluded to, but it may be as well
to repeat that, while he attributes to the Indians a kind of unconscious
religious theism, he entirely denies them any monotheistic dogmas. With
Tertullian, he writes, _Exclamant vocem naturaliter Christianam_. "To
speak truth, these peoples have derived from their fathers no knowledge
of a god, and before we set foot in their country they had nothing but
vain fables about the origin of the world. Nevertheless, savages as they
were, there did abide in their hearts a secret sentiment of divinity,
and of a first principle, author of all things, whom, not knowing, they
yet invoked. In the forest, in the chase, on the water, in peril by sea,
they call him to their aid."

     * Relations de la Novelle France, 1637, p. 49.

     ** Relations, 1633, p. 17.

     *** 1648, p. 77.

This guardian, it seems, receives different names in different
circumstances. Myth comes in; the sky is a God; a Manitou dwelling in
the north sends ice and snow; another dwells in the waters, and many in
the winds.* The Pere Allouez** says, "They recognise no sovereign of
heaven or earth". Here the good father and all who advocate a theory
of borrowing are at variance with Master Thomas Heriot, "that learned
_Mathematician_" (1588). In Virginia "there is one chiefe god, that
has beene from all eternitie," who "made other gods of a principal
order".*** Near New Plymouth, Kiehtan was the chief god, and the souls
of the just abode in his mansions.**** We have already cited Alione,
and shown that he and the other gods found by the first explorers, are
certainly not of Christian origin.

     * The Confessions of Kah-ge-ga-gah Bowh, a converted Crane
     of the Ojibbeways, may be rather a suspicious document. Kah,
     to shorten his noble name, became a preacher and platform-
     speaker of somewhat windy eloquence, according to Mr.
     Longfellow, who had heard him. His report is that in youth
     he sought the favour of the Manitous (Mon-e-doos he calls
     them), but also revered Ke-sha-mon-e-doo, the benevolent
     spirit, "who made the earth with all its variety and smiling
     beauty". But his narrative is very unlike the Indian account
     of the manufacture of the world by this or that animal,
     already given in "Myths of the Origin of Things". The
     benevolent spirit, according to Kah's father, a medicine-
     man, dwelt in the sun (Copway, Recollections of a Forest
     Life, London, s. a. pp. 4, 5). Practical and good-natured
     actions of the Great Spirit are recorded on p. 35. He
     directs starving travellers by means of dreams.

     ** Relations, 1667, p. 1.

     *** Arber, Captain John Smith, p. 321.

     **** Op. cit., p. 768.

A curious account of Red Indian religion may be extracted from a work
styled _A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner
during a Thirty Years' Residence among the Indians_ (New York, 1830).
Tanner was caught when a boy, and lived as an Indian, even in religion.
The Great Spirit constantly appears in his story as a moral and
protecting deity, whose favour and help may be won by "prayers, which
are aided by magical ceremonies and dances. Tanner accepted and acted
on this part of the Indian belief, while generally rejecting the
medicine men, who gave themselves out for messengers or avaters of the
Great Spirit. Tanner had frequent visions of the Great Spirit in the
form of a handsome young man, who gave him information about the future.
"Do I not know," said the appearance, "when you are hungry and in
distress? I look down upon you at all times, and it is not necessary you
should call me with such loud cries". (p. 189).

Almost all idea of a tendency towards monotheism vanishes when we turn
from the religions to the myths of the American peoples. Doubtless it
may be maintained that the religious impulse or sentiment never wholly
dies, but, after being submerged in a flood of fables, reappears in
the philosophic conception of a pure deity entertained by a few of the
cultivated classes of Mexico and Peru. But our business just now is with
the flood of fables. From north to south the more general beliefs are
marked with an early dualism, and everywhere are met the two opposed
figures of a good and a bad extra-natural being in the shape of a man or
beast. The Eskimos, for example, call the better being Torngarsuk. "They
don't all agree about his form or aspect. Some say he has no form at
all; others describe him as a great bear, or as a great man with one
arm, or as small as a finger. He is immortal, but might be killed by the
intervention of the god Crepitus."*

     * The circumstances in which this is possible may be sought
     for in Crantz, History of Greenland, London, 1767, vol. i.
     p. 200

"The other great but malignant spirit is a nameless female," the wife or
mother of Torngarsuk. She dwells under the sea in a habitation guarded
by a Cerberus of her own, a huge dog, which may be surprised, for he
sleeps for one moment at a time. Torngarsuk is not the maker of all
things, but still is so much of a deity that many, "when they hear
of God and his omnipotence, are readily led to the supposition that
probably we mean their Torngarsuk ". All spirits are called Torngak,
and _soak = great_; hence the good spirit of the Eskimos in his limited
power is "the Great Spirit".* In addition to a host of other spirits,
some of whom reveal themselves affably to all, while others are only
accessible to Angakut or medicine-men, the Eskimos have a Pluto, or
Hades, or Charos of their own. He is meagre, dark, sullen, and devours
the bowels of the ghosts. There are spirits of fire, water, mountains,
winds; there are dog-faced demons, and the souls of abortions become
hideous spectres, while the common ghost of civilised life is familiar.
The spirit of a boy's dead mother appeared to him in open day, and
addressed him in touching language: "Be not afraid; I am thy mother,
and love thee!" for here, too, in this frozen and haunted world, love is
more strong than death.**

Eskimo myth is practical, and, where speculative, is concerned with the
fortunes of men, alive or dead, as far as these depend on propitiating
the gods or extra-natural beings. The Eskimo myth of the origin of death
would find its place among the other legends of this sort.***

     * Crantz, op. cit., i. 207. note.

     ** Op. cit., i. 209

     *** Cf. Modern Mythology, "The Origin of Death".

As a rule, Eskimo myth, as far as it has been investigated, rather
resembles that of the Zulus. _Märchen_ or romantic stories are very
common; tales about the making of things and the actions of the
pre-human beings are singularly scarce. Except for some moon and star
myths, and the tale of the origin of death, hardly any myths, properly
so called, are reported. "Only very scanty traces," says Rink, "have
been found of any kind of ideas having been formed as to the origin and
early history of the world and the ruling powers or deities."*

     * He adds that this "seems sufficiently to show that such
     mythological speculations have been, in respect to other
     nations, also the product of a later stage of culture". That
     this position is erroneous is plain from the many myths here
     collected from peoples lower in culture than the Eskimos.
     Cf. Rink, _Tales and Traditions of the Eskimos_.

Turning from the Eskimos to the Ahts of Vancouver's Island, we find them
in possession of rather a copious mythology. Without believing exactly
in a _supreme_, they have the conception of a _superior_ being,
Quawteaht, no mere local nor tribal deity, but known in every village,
like Osiris in Egypt. He is also, like Osiris and Baiame, the chief of
a beautiful, far-off, spiritual country, but he had his adventures
and misadventures while he dwelt on earth. The malevolent aspect of
things--storms, disease and the rest--is either Quawteaht enraged, or
the manifestation of his opponent in the primitive dualism, Tootooch or
Chay-her, the Hades or Pluto of the Ahts. Like Hades, Chay-her is both a
person and a place--the place of the dead discomforted, and the ruler
of that land, a boneless form with a long grey beard. The exploits of
Quawteaht in the beginning of things were something between those of
Zeus and of Prometheus.

"He is the general framer--I do not say creator of all things, though
some special things are excepted."* Quawteaht, in the legend of the
loon (who was once an injured Indian, and still wails his wrongs), is
represented as conscious of the conduct of men, and as prone to avenge
misdeeds.** In person Quawteaht was of short stature, with very strong
hairy arms and legs.*** There is a touch of unconscious Darwinism in
this description of "the first Indian". In Quawteaht mingle the rough
draughts of a god and of an Adam, a creator and a first man. This
mixture is familiar in the Zulu Unkulunkulu. Unlike Prometheus,
Quawteaht did not steal the seed of fire. It was stolen by the
cuttlefish, and in some legends Quawteaht was the original proprietor.
Like most gods, he could assume the form of the beasts, and it was in
the shape of a great whale that he discomfited his opponent Tootooch.***
It does not appear that Tootooch receives any worship or adoration, such
as is offered to the sun and moon.

     * Sproat, Savage Life, London, 1868, p. 210.

     ** Op. cit., p. 182.

     ***Ibid. i. p. 179.

Leaving the Ahts for the Thlinkeets, we find Yehl, the god or hero of
the introduction of the arts, who, like the Christ of the Finnish epic
or Maui in New Zealand, was born by a miraculous birth. His mother was
a Thlinkeet woman, whose boys had all been slain. As she wandered
disconsolate by the sea-shore, a dolphin or whale, taking pity upon her.
bade her drink a little salt water and swallow a pebble. She did so, and
in due time bore a child, Yehl, the hero of the Thlinkeets. Once, in
his youth, Yehl shot a supernatural crane, skinned it, and whenever
he wished to fly, clothed himself in the bird's skin. Yet he is always
known as a raven. Hence there is much the same confusion between Yehl
and the bird as between Amun in Egypt and the ram in whose skin he was
once pleased to reveal himself to a mortal. In Yehl's youth occurred the
deluge, produced by the curse of an unfriendly uncle of his own; but the
deluge was nothing to Yehl, who flew up to heaven, and anchored himself
to a cloud by his beak till the waters abated. Like most heroes of his
kind, Yehl brought light to men. The heavenly bodies in his time were
kept in boxes by an old chief. Yehl, by an ingenious stratagem, got
possession of the boxes. To fly up to the firmament with the treasure,
to open the boxes, and to stick stars, sun and moon in their proper
places in the sky, was to the active Yehl the work of a moment.

Fire he stole, like Prometheus, carrying a brand in his beak till
he reached the Thlinkeet shore. There the fire dropped on stones and
sticks, from which it is still obtained by striking the flints or
rubbing together the bits of wood. Water, like fire, was a monopoly in
those days, and one Khanukh kept all of it in his own well. Khanukh was
the ancestor of the Wolf family among the Thlinkeets, as Yehl is the
first father of the stock called Ravens. The wolf and raven thus answer
to the mythic creative crow and cockatoo in Australian mythology, and
take sides in the primitive dualism. When Yehl went to steal water
from Khanukh, the pair had a discussion, exactly like that between
Joukahainen and Waina-moinen in the epic of the Finns, as to which of
them had been longer in the world. "Before the world stood in its place,
I was there," says Yehl; and Wainamoinen says, "When earth was made,
I was there; when space was unrolled, I launched the sun on his way".
Similar boasts occur in the poems of Empedocles and of Taliesin.
Khanukh, however, proved to be both older and more skilled in magic
than Yehl. Yet the accomplishment of flying once more stood Yehl in good
stead, and he carried off the water, as Odin, in the form of a bird,
stole Suttung's mead, by flying off with it in his beak. Yehl then went
to his own place.*

In the myths of the other races on the North-west Pacific Coast nothing
is more remarkable than the theriomorphic character of the heroes, who
are also to a certain extent gods and makers of things.

The Koniagas have their ancestral bird and dog, demiurges, makers of
sea, rivers, hills, yet subject to "a great deity called Schljam Schoa,"
of whom they are the messengers and agents.** The Aleuts have their
primeval dog-hero, and also a great old man, who made people, like
Deucalion, and as in the Macusi myth, by throwing stones over his

     * Bancroft, iii. 100-102 [Holmberg, Eth. Skiz., p. 61].

     ** Ibid., 104, quoting Dall's Alaska, p. 405, and
     Lisiansky's Voyage, pp. 197, 198.

     *** Brett's Indians qf Guiana, p. 384.

Concerning the primal mythical beings of the great hunter and warrior
tribes of America, Algonkins, Hurons and Iroquois, something has already
been said in the chapter on "Myths of the Origin of Things".

It is the peculiarity of such heroes or gods of myth as the opposing Red
Indian good and evil deities that they take little part in the affairs
of the world when once these have been started.* Ioskeha and Tawiscara,
the good and bad primeval brothers, have had their wars, and are now, in
the opinion of some, the sun and the moon.** The benefits of Ioskeha
to mankind are mainly in the past; as, for example, when, like another
Indra, he slew the great frog that had swallowed the waters, and gave
them free course over earth.***

     * Erminie Smith, in _Report of Bureau of Ethnology_, 1880-
     81, publishes a full, but not very systematic, account of
     Iroquois gods of to-day. Thunder, the wind, and echo are the
     chief divine figures. The Titans or Jotuns, the opposed
     supernatural powers, are giants of stone. "Among the most
     ancient of the deities were their most remote ancestors,
     certain animals who later were transformed into human
     shapes, the name of the animals being preserved by their
     descendants, who have used them to designate their gentes or
     clans." The Iroquois have a strange and very touching
     version of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (op. cit., p.
     104). It appears to be native and unborrowed; all the
     details are pure Iroquois.

     ** Relations de la Nouvelle France, 1636, p. 102.

     *** Ibid. i. p. 108.

Ioskeha is still so far serviceable that he "makes the pot boil," though
this may only be a way of recalling the benefits conferred on man by him
when he learned from the turtle how to make fire. Ioskeha, moreover is
thanked for success in the chase, because he let loose the animals from
the cave in which they lived at the beginning. As they fled he spoiled
their speed by wounding them with arrows; only one escaped, the
wind-swift wolf. Some devotees regarded Ioskeha as the teacher of
agriculture and the giver of great harvests of maize. In 1635 Ioskeha
was seen, all meagre and skeleton-like, tearing a man's leg with his
teeth, a prophecy of famine. A more agreeable apparition of loskeha is
reported by the Pere Barthelemy Vimont.* When an Iroquois was fishing,
"a demon appeared to him in the shape of a tall and beautiful young man.
'Be not afraid,' said this spirit; 'I am the master of earth, whom
you Hurons worship under the name of Ioskeha; the French give me the
erroneous name of Jesus, but they know me not.'" Ioskeha then gave some
directions for curing the small-pox. The Indian's story is, of course,
coloured by what he knew of missionary teaching, but the incident should
be compared with the "medicine dream" of John Tanner.

The sky, conceived as a person, held a place rather in the religion
than in the mythology of the Indians. He was approached with prayer and
sacrifice, and "they implored the sky in all their necessities".** "The
sky hears us," they would say in taking an oath, and they appeased the
wrath of the sky with a very peculiar semi-cannibal sacrifice.***

     * Relations, 1640, p. 92.

     ** Op. cit. i. 1636, p. 107.

     *** For Pawnees and Blackfeet see Grinnell, Pawnee and
     Blackfoot Legends (2 vols.).

What Ioskeha was to the Iroquois, Michabo or Manibozho was to the
Algonkin tribes. There has been a good deal of mystification about
Michabo or Manibozho, or Messou, who was probably, in myth, a hare _sans
phrase_, but who has been converted by philological processes into a
personification of light or dawn. It has already been seen that the wild
North Pacific peoples recognise in their hero and demiurge animals of
various species; dogs, ravens, muskrats and coyotes have been found in
this lofty estimation, and the Utes believe in "Cin-au-av, the ancient
of wolves".* It would require some labour to derive all the ancient
heroes and gods from misconceptions about the names of vast natural
phenomena like light and dawn, and it is probable that Michabo or
Mani-bozho, the Great Hare of the Algonkins, is only a successful
apotheosised totem like the rest. His legend and his dominion are very
widely spread. Dr. Brinton himself (p. 153) allows that the great hare
is a totem. Perhaps our earliest authority about the mythical great hare
in America is William Strachey's _Travaile into Virginia_.**

     * Powell, in Bureau of Ethnology, 1879-80, p. 43.

     ** Circa 1612; reprinted by the Hakjuyt Society.

Among other information as to the gods of the natives, Strachey quotes
the remarks of a certain Indian: "We have five gods in all; our chief
god appears often unto us in the likeness of a mighty great hare; the
other four have no visible shape, but are indeed the four wynds". An
Indian, after hearing from the English the Biblical account of the
creation, explained that "our god, who takes upon him the shape of a
hare,... at length devised and made divers men and women". He also drove
away the cannibal Manitous. "That godlike hare made the water and the
fish and a great deare." The other four gods, in envy, killed the
hare's deer. This is curiously like the Bushman myth of Cagn, the mantis
insect, and his favourite eland. "The godly hare's house" is at the
place of sun-rising; there the souls of good Indians "feed on delicious
fruits with that great hare," who is clearly, so far, the Virginian
Osiris.* Dr. Brinton has written at some length on "this chimerical
beast," whose myth prevails, he says, "from the remotest wilds of the
North-west to the coast of the Atlantic, from the southern boundary
of Carolina to the cheerless swamps of Hudson's Bay.... The totem"
(totem-kindred probably is meant) "clan which bore his name was looked
up to with peculiar respect." From this it would appear that the hare
was a totem like another, and had the same origin, whatever that may
have been. According to the Pere Allouez, the Indians "ont en veneration
toute particuliere, une certaine beste chimerique, qu'ils n'ont jamais
veue sinon en songe, ils Tappelient Missibizi," which appears to be a
form of Michabo and Mani-bozho.**

     * _History of Travaile_, pp. 98, 99. This hare we have
     alluded to in vol. i. p. 184, but it seems worth while again
     to examine Dr. Brinton's theory more closely.

     ** Relations, 1637, p. 13

In 1670 the same Pere Allouez gives some myths about Michabo.
"C'est-a-dire le grand lievre," who made the world, and also invented
fishing-nets. He is the master of life, and can leap eight leagues at
one bound, and is beheld by his servants in dreams. In 1634 Pere Paul le
Jeune gives a longer account of Messou, "a variation of the same name,"
according to Dr. Brinton, as Michabo. This Messou reconstructed the
drowned world out of a piece of clay brought him by an otter, which
succeeded after the failure of a raven sent out by Messou. He afterwards
married a muskrat, by whom he became the father of a flourishing family.
"Le brave reparateur de l'univers est le frere aisné de toutes les
bestes," says the mocking missionary.* Messou has the usual powers of
shape-shifting, which are the common accomplishments of the medicine-man
or conjuror, _se transformant en mille sortes d'animaux.** He is not
so much a creator as a demiurge, inferior to a mysterious being called
Atahocan. But Atahocan is obsolescent, and his name is nearly equivalent
to an old wife's fable, a story of events _au temps jadis_.*** "Le mot
_Nitatoho-can signifie, 'Je dis un vieux conte fait à plaisir'."

     * _Relations_, 1634, p. 13.

     ** Op. cit., 1633, p. 16.

     *** Op. cit., 1634, p. 13.

These are examples of the legends of Michabo or Manibozho, the great
hare. He appears in no way to differ from the other animals of magical
renown, who, in so many scores of savage myths, start the world on its
way and instruct men in the arts. His fame may be more widely
spread, but his deeds are those of eagle, crow, wolf, coyote, spider,
grasshopper, and so forth, in remote parts of the world. His legend is
the kind of legend whose origin we ascribe to the credulous fancy of
early peoples, taking no distinction between themselves and the beasts.
If the hare was indeed the totem of a successful and honoured kindred,
his elevation is perfectly natural and intelligible.

Dr. Brinton, in his _Myths of the New World_ (New York, 1876), adopts
a different line of explanation. Michabo, he says, "was originally the
highest divinity recognised by them, powerful and beneficent beyond all
others, maker of the heavens and the world". We gladly welcome him in
that capacity in religion. But it has already been shown that Michabo is
only, in myth, the _reparateur de l'univers_, and that he has a sleeping
partner--a deity retired from business. Moreover, Dr. Brinton's account
of Michabo, "powerful and beneficent beyond all others, maker of
the heavens and the world," clashes with his own statement, that "of
monotheism as displayed in the one personal definite God of the Semitic
races" (to whom Dr. Brinton's description of Michabo applies) "there is
not a single instance on the American continent."* The residences and
birthplaces of Michabo are as many as those of the gods of Greece. It is
true that in some accounts, as in Strachey's, "his bright home is in
the _rising_ sun". It does not follow that the hare had any original
connection with the dawn. But this connection Dr. Brinton seeks to
establish by philological arguments. According to this writer, the names
(Manibozho, Nanibozhu, Missibizi, Michabo, Messou) "all seem compounded,
according to well-ascertained laws of Algonkin euphony, from the words
corresponding to _great_ and _hare or rabbit_, or the first two perhaps
from _spirit_ and _hare_".** But this seeming must not be trusted. We
must attentively examine the Algonkin root _wab_, when it will appear
"that in fact there are two roots having this sound. One is the initial
syllable of the word translated hare or rabbit, but the other means
_white_, and from it is derived the words for the east, the dawn,
the light, the day, and the morning. Beyond a doubt (sic) this is the
compound in the names Michabo and Manibozho, which therefore mean the
great light, the spirit of light, of the dawn, or the east."

     * Relations, pp. 63, 176.

     ** Op. cit., p. 178.

Then the war of Manibozho became the struggle of light and darkness.
Finally, Michabo is recognised by Dr. Brinton as "the not unworthy
personification of the purest conceptions they possessed concerning the
Father of All,"* though, according to Dr. Brinton in an earlier passage,
they can hardly be said to have possessed such conceptions.** We are not
responsible for these inconsistencies. The degeneracy to the belief in
a "mighty great hare," a "chimerical beast," was the result of a
misunderstanding of the root _wab_ in their own language by the
Algonkins, a misunderstanding that not only affected the dialects in
which the root _wab_ occurred in the hare's name, but those in which it
did not!

On the whole, the mythology of the great hunting and warrior tribes of
North America is peopled by the figures of ideal culture-heroes, partly
regarded as first men, partly as demiurges and creators. They waver in
outward aspect between the beautiful youths of the "medicine-dreams" and
the bestial guise of totems and protecting animals. They have a tendency
to become identified with the sun, like Osiris in Egypt, or with the
moon. They are adepts in all the arts of the medicine-man, and they
are especially addicted to animal metamorphosis. In the long winter
evenings, round the camp-fire, the Indians tell such grotesque tales of
their pranks and adventures as the Greeks told of their gods, and the
Middle Ages of the saints.***

     * Relations, p. 183.

     ** Op. cit., p. 53.

     *** A full collection of these, as they survive in oral
     tradition, with an obvious European intermixture, will be
     found in Mr. Leland's _Algonquin Legends_, London, 1884, and
     in Schoolcraft's _Hiawatha Legends_, London, 1856.    See
     especially the Manibozho legend.

The stage in civilisation above that of the hunter tribes is represented
in the present day by the settled Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and
Arizona. Concerning the faith of the Zunis we fortunately possess an
elaborate account by Mr. Frank Cushing.* Mr. Cushing was for long a
dweller in the clay _pueblos_ of the Zuñis, and is an initiated member
of their sacred societies. He found that they dealt at least as freely
in metaphysics as the Maoris, and that, like the Australians, "they
suppose sun, moon and stars, the sky, earth and sea, in all their
phenomena and elements, and all inanimate objects, as well as plants,
animals and men, to belong to one great system of all conscious and
interrelated life, in which the degrees of relationship seem to be
determined largely, if not wholly, by the degrees of resemblance". This,
of course, is stated in terms of modern self-conscious speculation.
When much the same opinions are found among the Kamilaroi and Kurnai of
Australia, they are stated thus: "Some of the totems divide not mankind
only, but the whole universe into what may almost be called gentile

     *  Report of Bureau of Ethnology, Washington, 1880-81.

     ** Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 167.(p. 170). Mrs. Langloh
     Parker, in a letter to me, remarks that Baiame alone is
     outside of this conception, and is common to all classes,
     and totems, and class divisions.

"Everything in nature is divided between the classes. The wind belongs
to one and the rain to another. The sun is Wutaroo and the moon is
Yungaroo.... The South Australian savage looks upon the universe as
the great tribe, to one of whose divisions he himself belongs, and all
things, animate or inanimate, which belong to his class are parts of
the body corporate, whereof he himself is part. They are almost parts of

Manifestly this is the very condition of mind out of which mythology,
with all existing things acting as _dramatis personæ_, must inevitably

The Zuni philosophy, then, endows all the elements and phenomena of
nature with personality, and that personality is blended with
the personality of the beast "whose operations most resemble its
manifestation". Thus lightning is figured as a serpent, and the serpent
holds a kind of mean position between lightning and man. Strangely
enough, flint arrow-heads, as in Europe, are regarded as the gift of
thunder, though the Zunis have not yet lost the art of making, nor
entirely abandoned, perhaps, the habit of using them. Once more, the
supernatural beings of Zuni religion are almost invariably in the shape
of animals, or in monstrous semi-theriomorphic form. There is no general
name for the gods, but the appropriate native terms mean "creators and
masters," "makers," and "finishers," and "immortals". All the classes of
these, including the class that specially protects the animals necessary
to men, "are believed to be related by blood ". But among these
essences, the animals are nearest to man, most accessible, and therefore
most worshipped, sometimes as mediators. But the Zuni has mediators even
between him and his animal mediators, and these are fetishes, usually
of stone, which accidentally resemble this or that beast-god in shape.
Sometimes, as in the Egyptian sphinx, the natural resemblance of a stone
to a living form has been accentuated and increased by art. The stones
with a natural resemblance to animals are most valued when they are old
and long in use, and the orthodox or priestly theory is that they are
petrifactions of this or that beast. Flint arrow-heads and feathers are
bound about them with string.

All these beliefs and practices inspire the Zuñi epic, which is
repeated, at stated intervals, by the initiated to the neophytes. Mr.
Cushing heard a good deal of this archaic poem in his sacred capacity.
The epic contains a Zuñi cosmogony. Men, as in so many other myths,
originally lived in the dark places of earth in four caverns. Like the
children of Uranus and Gæa, they murmured at the darkness. The "holder
of the paths of life," the sun, now made two beings out of his own
substance; they fell to the earth, armed with rainbow and lightning, a
shield and a magical flint knife. The new-comers cut the earth with a
flint-knife, as Qat cut the palpable dark with a blade of red obsidian
in Melanesia. Men were then lifted through the hole on the shield, and
began their existence in the sunlight, passing gradually through the
four caverns. Men emerged on a globe still very wet; for, as in the
Iroquois and other myths, there had been a time when "water was the
world ". The two benefactors dried the earth and changed the monstrous
beasts into stones. It is clear that this myth accounts at once for
the fossil creatures found in the rocks and for the merely accidental
resemblance to animals of stones now employed as fetishes.* In the
stones is believed to survive the "medicine" or magic, the spiritual
force of the animals of old.

     * Report, etc, p. 15.

The Zuñis have a culture-hero as usual, Po'shai-an-k'ia, who founded the
mysteries, as Demeter did in Greece, and established the sacred orders.
He appeared in human form, taught men agriculture, ritual, and then
departed. He is still attentive to prayer. He divided the world into
regions, and gave the animals their homes and functions, much as Heitsi
Eibib did in Namaqualand. These animals carry out the designs of the
culture-hero, and punish initiated Zuñis who are careless of their
religious duties and ritual. The myths of the sacred beasts are long
and dismal, chiefly aetiological, or attempts to account by a fictitious
narrative for the distribution and habits of the various creatures. Zuñi
prayers are mainly for success in the chase; they are directed to the
divine beasts, and are reinforced by magical ceremonies. Yet a prayer
for sport may end with such a truly religious petition as this: "Grant
me thy light; give me and my children a good trail across life ". Again
we read: "This day, my fathers, ye animal gods, although this country
be filled with enemies, render me precious.... Oh, give ye shelter of
my heart from them!" Yet in religious hymns the Zuñis celebrate
Ahonawilona, "the Maker and Container of All, the All Father," the
uncreated, the unbegotten, who "thought himself out into space". Here
is monotheism among fetishists.*

     * Cushing, _Report, Ethnol. Bureau_, 1891-92, p. 379.

The faith of the Zuñis, with its metaphysics, its devoutness and its
magic ritual, may seem a kind of introduction to the magic, the ritual
and the piety of the ancient Aztecs. The latter may have grown, in a
long course of forgotten ages, out of elements like those of the Zuñi
practice, combined with the atrocious cruelty of the warrior tribes of
the north. Perhaps in no race is the extreme contrast between low myth,
and the highest speculation, that of "the Eternal thinking himself
out into space," so marked as among the Zuñis. The highly abstract
conception of Ahonawilona was unknown to Europeans when this work first


     European eye-witnesses of Mexican ritual--Diaz, his account
     of temples and Gods__Sahagun, his method--Theories of the
     god Huitzilopochtli--Totemistic and other elements in his
     image and legend--Illustrations from Latin religion--
     "God-eating"--The calendar--Other gods--Their feasts and cruel
     ritual--Their composite character--Parallels from ancient
     classical peoples--Moral aspects of Aztec gods.

The religion of the Mexicans was a compound of morality and cruelty
so astonishing that its two aspects have been explained as the
contributions of two separate races. The wild Aztecs from the north are
credited with having brought to a high pitch of organised ritual the
ferocious customs of the Red Indians. The tortures which the tribes
inflicted on captives taken in war were transmuted into the cannibal
sacrifices and orgies of bloodshed with which the Aztec temples reeked.
The milder elements, again, the sense of sin which found relief in
confession and prayer, are assigned to the influence of Mayas, and
especially of Toltecs, a shadowy and perhaps an imaginary people. Our
ignorance of Mexican history before the Spanish conquest is too deep to
make any such theory of the influence of race on religion in Mexico more
than merely plausible. The facts of ritual and of myth are better known,
thanks to the observations of such an honest soldier as Bernal Diaz
and such a learned missionary as Sahagun. The author of the _Historia
General de las Cosas de Nueva España_ was a Spanish Franciscan, and one
of the earliest missionaries (1529) in Mexico. He himself describes the
method by which he collected his information about the native religion.
He summoned together the chief men of one of the provinces, who,
in turn, chose twelve old men well seen in knowledge of the Mexican
practices and antiquities. Several of them were also scholars in
the European sense, and had been taught Latin. The majority of the
commission collected and presented "pictures which were the writings
formerly in use among them," and the "grammarians" or Latin-learned
Aztecs wrote in European characters and in Aztec the explanations
of these designs. When Sahagun changed his place of residence, these
documents were again compared, re-edited and enlarged by the assistance
of the native gentlemen in his new district, and finally the whole was
passed through yet a third "sieve," as Sahagun says, in the city of
Mexico. The completed manuscript had many ups and downs of fortune, but
Sahagun's book remains a source of almost undisputed authenticity.

Probably no dead religion whose life was among a people ignorant of
syllabaries or of the alphabet is presented to us in a more trustworthy
form than the religion of Mexico. It is necessary, however, to discount
the _theories_ of Sahagun and his converts, who though they never heard
of Euhemerus, habitually applied the euhemeristic doctrine to their
facts. They decided that the gods of the Aztecs had once been living men
and conjurors, worshipped after their decease. It is possible, too, that
a strain of Catholic piety has found its way into the long prayers of
the heathen penitents, as reported by Sahagun.* Sahagun gives us a full
account of the Mexican mythology. What the gods, as represented by
idols and adored in ritual, were like, we learn from a gallant Catholic
soldier, Bernal Diaz.** "Above the altars," he writes, "were two shapes
like giants, wondrous for height and hugeness. The first on the right
was Huichilobos (Huitzilopochtli), their god of war. He had a big head
and trunk, his eyes great and terrible, and so inlaid with precious
stones that all his head and body shone with stars thereof. Great snakes
of gold and fine stones were girdled about his flanks; in one hand he
held a bow, and arrows in the other, and a little idol called his page
stood by his side.... Thereby also were braziers, wherein burned the
hearts of three Indians, torn from their bodies that very day, and the
smoke of them and the savour of incense were the sacrifice. The walls of
this oratory were black and dripping with gouts of blood, and likewise
the floor that stank horribly." Such was the aspect of a Mexican shrine
before the Spaniards introduced their faith.

     * For a brief account of Sahagun and the fortunes of his
     book, see Bancroft, _Native Races of the Pacific States_,
     iii. 231, note 61. The references here to Sahagun's own work
     are to the translation by MM. Jourdanet and Simeon,
     published by Masson, Paris, 1880. Bernal Diaz is referred to
     in the French edition published by M. Lemerre in 1879.

     ** _Veridique Histoire_, chap, xcii.

As to the mythical habits of the Aztec Olympians in general, Sahagun
observes that "they were friends of disguise, and changed themselves
often into birds or savage beasts". Hence he, or his informants, infer
that the gods have originally been necromancers or medicine-men,
now worshipped after death; a natural inference, as magical feats
of shape-shifting are commonly ascribed "everywhere to witches and
warlocks". As a matter of fact, the Aztec gods, though bedizened with the
attributes of mortal conjurors, and with the fur and feathers of totems,
are, for the most part, the departmental deities of polytheism, each
ruling over some province of nature or of human activity. Combined
with these are deities who, in their origin, were probably ideal
culture-heroes, like Yehl, or Qat, or Prometheus. The long and tedious
myths of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca appear to contain memories of
a struggle between the gods or culture-heroes of rival races. Such
struggles were natural, and necessary, perhaps, before a kind of
syncretism and a general tolerance could unite in peace the deities of
a realm composed of many tribes originally hostile. In a cultivated
people, made up out of various conquered and amalgamated tribes, we
must expect polytheism, because their Olympus is a kind of divine
representative assembly. Anything like monotheism, in such a state, must
be the result of philosophic reflection. "A laughable matter it is,"
says Bernal Diaz, "that in each province the Indians have their gods,
and the gods of one province or town are of no profit to the people of
another. Thus have they an infinite number of idols, to each of which
they sacrifice."*

     * Bernal Diaz, chap. xcii.

He might have described, in the same words, the local gods of the
Egyptian nomes, for a similar state of things preceded, and to
some extent survived, the syncretic efforts of Egyptian priesthood.
Meanwhile, the _Teocallis_, or temples of Mexico, gave hospitable
shelter to this mixed multitude of divinities. Hard by Huitzilopochtli
was Tezcatlipoca (Tezcatepuca, Bernal calls him), whose chapel "stank
worse than all the shambles of Castile". He had the face of a bear and
shining eyes, made of mirrors called _Tezcut_. He was understood by
Bernal to be the Mexican Hades, or warden of the dead. Not far off was
an idol, half-human and half-lizard, "the god of fruits and harvest, I
remember not his name," and all his chapel walls dripped blood.

In the medley of such a pantheon, it is difficult to arrange the deities
on any principle of order. Beginning with Huitzilopochtli, as perhaps
the most famous, it is to be observed that he indubitably became and
was recognised as a god of battles, and that he was also the guide
and protector who (according to the Aztec painted scriptures) led the
wandering fathers through war and wilderness to the promised land of
Mexico. His birth was one of those miraculous conceptions which we
have seen so frequently in the myths and _märchen_ of the lower and the
higher races. It was not by swallowing a berry, as in Finland, but by
cherishing in her bosom a flying ball of feathers that the devout woman,
Coatlicue, became the mother of Huitzilopochtli. All armed he sprang to
the light, like Athene from the head of Zeus, and slew his brothers that
had been born by natural generation. From that day he received names of
dread, answering to _Deimos_ and _Phobos_.*

     * Clavigero, _Staria Ant. del Mexico_, ii. 17, 19; Bancroft,
     iii. 290.

By another myth, euhemeristic in character, Huitziton (the name is
connected with _huitzilin_, the humming-bird) was the leader of the
Aztecs in their wanderings. On his death or translation, his skull gave
oracles, like the head of Bran in the Welsh legend. Sahagun, in the
first page of his work, also euhemerises Huitzilopochtli, and makes him
out to have been a kind of Hercules _doublé_ with a medicine-man;
but all this is mere conjecture. The position of Huitzilopochtli as
a war-god, guardian and guide through the wilderness is perfectly
established, and it is nearly as universally agreed that his name
connects him with the humming-bird, which his statue wore on its left
foot. He also carried a green bunch of plumage upon his head, shaped
like the bill of a small bird Now, as J. G. Müller has pointed out,
the legend and characteristics of Huitzilopochtli are reproduced, by
a coincidence startling even in mythology, in the legend and
characteristics of Picus in Latium. Just as Huitzilopochtli wore the
humming-bird indicated by his name on his foot, so Picus was represented
with the woodpecker of his name on his head.*

     * J. G. Muller, _Uramerik. Rel_., p. 595.

On the subject of Picus one may consult Ovid, _Metamorph_, xiv. 314.
Here the story runs that Circe loved Picus, whom she met in the woods.
He disdained her caresses, and she turned him into the woodpecker, "with
his garnet head". "Et fulvo cervix pnecingitur auro."

According to Virgil (J. Sn., vii. 187), the statue of this Picus was
settled in an old Laurentian temple or palace of unusual sanctity,
surrounded by images of the earlier gods. The woodpeckers, _pici_,
are known _Martio cognomine_, says Pliny (10, 18, 20, § 40), and so
connected with the Roman war-god, _Picas Martius_.

In his Romische Mythologie, i. 336, 337, Preller makes no use of these
materials for comparison, though the conduct and character of the other
beast of war, the wolf, as guide and protector of the Hirpi (wolves),
and worshipped by them with wolf-dances, is an obvious survival of
totemism. The Picini have their animal leader, Picus, the woodpecker,
the Hirpi have their animal leader, the wolf, just as the humming-bird
was the leader of the Aztecs.

In these Latin legends, as in the legends of Huit-zilopochtli, the
basis, as J. G. Müller sees, is the bird--the humming-bird in one case,
the woodpecker in the other. The bird is then euhemerised or brought
into anthropomorphic form. It is fabled that he was originally a man
(like Picus before Circe enchanted him to a bird's shape), or, in
Mexico, a man named Huitziton, who during the Aztec migrations heard and
pursued a little bird that cried "Tinni," that is, "Follow, follow".*
Now we are all familiar with classical legends of races that were guided
by a bird or beast to their ultimate seats. Müller mentions Battus and
the raven, the Chalcidians and the dove, the Cretans and the dolphin,
which was Apollo, Cadmus and the cow; the Hirpi, or wolves, who followed
the wolf. In the same way the Picini followed the woodpecker, _Picus_,
from whom they derived their name, and carried a woodpecker on their
banners. Thus we may connect both the Sabine war-gods and the bird of
the Mexican war-gods with the many guiding and protecting animals which
occur in fable. Now a guiding and protecting animal is almost a synonym
for a totem. That the Sabine woodpecker had been a totem may be pretty
certainly established on the evidence of Plutarch. The people called by
his name (Picini) declined, like totemists everywhere, to eat their holy
bird, in this case the woodpecker.**

     * Bancroft, iii. 69, note, quoting Torquemada.

     ** Quoest. Rom., xxi.

The inference is that the humming-bird whose name enters into that of
Huitzilopochtli, and whose feathers were worn on his heel, had been
the totem of an Aztec kindred before Huitzilopochtli, like Picus, was
anthropomorphised. On the other hand, if Huitzilopochtli was once the
Baiame of the Aztecs, their Guide in their wanderings, he might, in
myth, be mixed up with a totem or other worshipful animal. "Before this
god was represented in human form, he was merely a little humming-bird,
Huitziton; but as the anthropomorphic processes advanced, the
bird became an attribute, emblem, or symbol of the deity."* If
Huitzilopochtli is said to have given the Aztecs fire, that boon is
usually regarded by many races, from Normandy to Australia, as the
present given to men by a bird; for example, the fire-crested wren.**
Thus understood, the ornithological element in Huitzilopochtli is purely
totemic. While accepting the reduction of him to a hummingbird, M.
Reville ingeniously concludes that he was "a derivative form of the
sun, and especially of the sun of the fair season". If the bird was
worshipped, it was not as a totem, but as "the divine messenger of the
spring," like "the plover among the Latins".*** Attempts have been made,
with no great success, to discover the cosmical character of the god
from the nature of his feasts.

     * J. G. Muller, op. cit. i. p. 596.

     ** Bosquet, La Normandie Merveilleuse, Paris, 1845; Brough
     Smyth, Aborigines of Victoria, vol. i.; Kuhn, Herabkunft,
     p. 109; Journal Anthrop. Inst., November, 1884; Sproat,
     Savage Life (the cuttlefish), p. 178; Bancroft, iii. 100.

     *** Hibbert Lectures, 1884, English trans., pp. 54, 55. The
     woodpecker seems a better Latin example than the plover.

The Mexican calendar, "the Aztec year," as described at considerable
length by Sahagun, was a succession of feasts, marked by minute and
elaborate rites of a magical character. The gods of rain were frequently
propitiated, so was the goddess of maize, the mountain god, the mother
of the gods, and many other divinities. The general theory of worship
was the adoration of a deity, first by innumerable human sacrifices,
next by the special sacrifice of a man for male gods, of a woman for
each goddess. The latter victims were regarded as the living images or
incarnations of the divinities in each case; for no system of worship
carried farther the identification of the god with the sacrifice, and of
both with the officiating priest. The connection was emphasised by
the priest's wearing the newly-flayed skins of the victims, just as in
Greece, Egypt and Assyria the fawn-skin, or bull-hide, or goat-skin, or
fish-skin of the victims is worn by the celebrants. Finally, an image
of the god was made out of paste, and this was divided into morsels and
eaten in a hideous sacrament by those who communicated.*

     * Copious details as to the sacraments, human sacrifices,
     paste figures of gods, and identity of god and victim, will
     be found in Sahagun's second and third books. The _magical_
     character of the ritual deserves particular attention. See
     many examples of gods made of flour and eaten in Liebrecht's
     _Zur Volkskunde_, "Der aufgegessene Gott," p. 436. It will
     be noted that the feasts of the corn goddess, like the rites
     of Demeter, were celebrated with torch-dances. The ritual of
     the month Quecholli (iii. 33, 144) is a mere medicine hunt,
     as Tanner and the Red Indians call it, a procuring of
     magical virtue for the arrows, as in the Zuni mysteries to-
     day. Compare _Report of Bureau of Ethnology_, vol. ii.,
     "Zuni Prey Gods".

From the special ritual of Huitzilopochtli Mr. Tylor conjectures
that this "inextricable compound parthenogenetic god may have been
originally" a nature deity whose life and death were connected with
the year".* This theory is based on the practice at the feast called
Panquetzaliztli.** "His paste idol was shot through with an arrow," says
Mr. Tylor, "and being thus killed, was divided into morsels and eaten;
wherefore the ceremony was called _Teoqualo_, or 'god-eating,' and this
was associated with the winter solstice." M. Reville says that this
feast coincided with our month of December, the beginning of the cold
and dry season, Huitzilopochtli would die with the verdure, the flowers
and all the beauteous adornments of spring and summer; but like Adonis,
like Osiris, and so many other solar deities, he only died to live and
to return again. Before identifying him with the sun, it may be remarked
that the Aztec feast of the return of the gods was celebrated in the
twelfth month and the paste sacrifice of Huitzilopochtli was in the

There were eighteen months in the Aztec year, and the year began on the
2nd of February. The return of the gods was, therefore, in September,
and the paste sacrifice of Huitzilopochtli in December. Clearly the god
who dies in the winter solstice cannot be thought to "return" late in
September. Huitzilopochtli had another feast on the first day of the
ninth month, that is, between June and July, when much use was made
of floral decorations, and "they offered him the first flowers of the
year," although flowers were used two months earlier, in the seventh
month and in the fourth month.***

     * _Primitive Culture_, ii. 307; Clavigero, _Messico_, ii.
     17, 81.

     ** Sahagun, ii. 15, and Appendix, iii. 2, 3.

     *** Ibid. i. ii 9.

But the Mexican calendar is hard to deal with. Müller places the feasts
of Huitzilopochtli in the middle of May, the middle of August, and the
middle of December.* He combines his facts with a legend which made
Huitzilopochtli to be the son of the goddess of vegetation. J. G.
Müller's whole argument is learned and acute, but errs probably in
attempting to extract a consecutive symbolical sense out of the chaos of
myth. Thus he writes: "When the myth makes the god the son of the mother
of plants, it divides his essence from that of his mother, and thus
Huitzilopochtli, however closely akin to the plant world, is not the
plant world itself ". This is to consider more curiously than the
myth-makers. The name of the patron goddess of the flower-wearers in
feasts was Coatlicue or Coatlan, which is also the name of the mother of
Huitzilopochtli; its meaning is "serpent petticoated".**

     * Uramerik. Rel. v. p. 602.

     ** Sahagun, ii. 8

When Müller goes on to identify Huitzilopochtli with the bunch of
feathers that fell into his mother's breast before his birth, and that
again with the humming-bird, and that again with the honey-sucking
bird as the "means of fructifying the plants," and, finally, with the
_männliche befrwchtende Naturkraft_, we have left myth far behind, and
are in a region of symbolism and abstract thought, where one conjecture
is as good as another. The hypothesis is that men, feeling a sense
of religious reverence for the germinal force in Nature, took the
humming-bird for its emblem, and so evolved the myth of the birth of
Huitzilopochtli, who at once fructifies and is born from the bosom of
vernal Nature. It would be rash and wrong to deny that such ideas are
mixed in the medley of myth. But, as a rule, the sacred animal (as the
humming-bird) is sacred first in itself, probably as a totem or as a
guide and protector, and the symbolical sense is a forced interpretation
put later on the facts.* We can hardly go farther, with safety, than the
recognition of mingled aspects and elements in Huitzilopochtli as the
totem, the tribal god, the departmental war-god, and possibly he is
the god of the year's progress and renewal. His legend and ritual are
a conglomerate of all these things, a mass of ideas from many stages of

An abstract comparatively brief must suffice for the other Aztec

Tezcatlipoca is a god with considerable pretensions to an abstract and
lofty divinity. His appearance was not prepossessing; his image, as
Bernal has described it, wore the head of a bear, and was covered with
tiny mirrors.** Various attributes, especially the mirror and a golden
ear, showed him forth as the beholder of the conduct of men and the
hearer of prayer. He was said, while he lived on earth, to have been a
kind of Ares in the least amiable aspect of the god, a maker of wars
and discord.*** Wealth and power were in his gift. He was credited with
ability to destroy the world when he chose. Seats were consecrated to
him in the streets and the public places; on these might no man sit

     * Compare Maspero on "Egyptian Beast-Gods," Rev. de l'Hist.
     des Rel., vol. i. and chapter postea, on "Egyptian Divine

     **The name means "shining mirror". Acosta makes him the god
     of famine and pestilence (p. 353).

     *** Sahagun, i. 3.

He was one of the two gods whose extraordinary birth, and death by
"happy despatch," that their vitality might animate the motionless sun,
have already been described.* Tezcatlipoca, like most of the other gods,
revived, and came back from the sky to earth. At a place called Tulla he
encountered another god or medicine-man, Quetzalcoatl, and their
legends become inextricably entangled in tales of trickery, animal
metamorphosis, and perhaps in vague memories of tribal migrations.
Throughout Tezcatlipoca brought grief on the people called Toltecs, of
whom Quetzalcoatl was the divine culture-hero.** His statues, if we
may believe Acosta, did him little credit. "In Cholula, which is a
commonwealth of Mexico, they worship a famous idol, which was the god
of merchandise.... It had the forme of a man, but the visage of a little
bird with a red bill and above a combe full of wartes."***

     * _Antea_, "Myths of the Origins of Things ".

     ** Sahagnn, iii. 5, 6.

     *** Acosta, _Nalurall and Morall Historic of the East and
     West Indies_, London, 1604.

A ready way of getting a view of the Mexican Pantheon is to study
Sahagun's two books on the feasts of the gods, with their ritual. It
will become manifest that the worship was a worship, on the whole,
of departmental gods of the elements, of harvest, of various human
activities, such as love and commerce, and war and agriculture. The
nature of the worship, again, was highly practical. The ceremonies,
when not mere offerings of human flesh, were commonly representations on
earth of desirable things which the gods were expected to produce in the
heavenly sphere. The common type of all such magical ceremonies, whereby
like is expected to produce like, has been discussed in the remarks on
magic (chapter iv.). The black smoke of sacrifice generates clouds; the
pouring forth of water from a pitcher (as in the Attic Thesmophoria)
induces the gods to pour forth rain. Thus in Mexico the rain-god
(Tlaloc, god of waters) was propitiated with sacrifices of children.
"If the children wept and shed abundant tears, they who carried them
rejoiced, being convinced that rain would also be abundant."* The god
of the maize, again (Cinteotl, son of the maize-goddess), had rites
resembling those of the Greek Pyanepsion and Eiresione. The Aztecs
used to make an image of the god, and offer it all manner of maize and
beans.** Curiously enough, the Greeks also regarded their Pyanepsion
as a bean-feast. A more remarkable analogy is that of the Peruvian Mama
Cora, the figure of a goddess made of maize, which was asked "if it
hath strength sufficient to continue until the next year," and of which
the purpose was, "that the seed of the maize may not perish".*** This
corn image of the corn goddess, preserved through all the year and
replaced in the next year by a fresh image, is the Attic (--------), a
branch of olive hung with a loaf and with all the fruits of the season,
and set up to stand for all the year in front of each house. "And it
remains for a year, and when it is dry and withered next year they make
a fresh one."****

     * Sahagun. ii. 2, 3.

     ** Ibid., ii. 4, 24.

     *** Acosta, Hist Nat., 1604, p. 413.

     **** See Schol.  in Aristoph.   Plut., 1054, and other
     texts, quoted by Mannhardt, _Arntike Waldund Feld Cultus_,
     ii. 221, note 3.

Children were sacrificed in Mexico to this deity. In the rites of a
goddess of harvest, as has been said, torches were borne by the dancers,
as in the Eleusinia; and in European and Oriental folk-lore.1 Demeter
was the Greek harvest goddess, in whose rites torches had a place. One
of her names is Demeter Erinnys. Mr. Max Müller recognises Erinnys as
the dawn. Schwartz connects Demeter Erinnys with the thunderstorm. The
torch in the hand of Demeter is the lightning, according to Schwartz. It
is interesting, whether the torch be the torch of dawn, or of storm, or
neither, to see the prevalence of these torch festivals in rural rites
in Mexico, Greece and modern Europe. The idea of the peasants is that
the lights scare away evil spirits.** In the Mexican rite, a woman,
representing the goddess and dressed in her ornaments, was sacrificed.
The same horrid ceremony accompanied the feast of the mother of the
gods, Teteo Innan.*** In this rite the man who represented the son of
the goddess wore a mask of the skin from the thigh of the female
victim who had personated the goddess herself. The wearing of the skin
established a kinship between the man and the woman, as in the many
classical, ancient and savage rituals where the celebrants wear the
hides of the sacrificed beasts. There was a god of storm called "cloudy
serpent," Mixcoatl, whose rites were not more humane. The Mexican
Aphrodite was named _Tlaçolteotl_,**** "the impure".

     * Mannhardt, op.  cit., ii.  263,  i.  501, 502; Schwartz,
     _Prähistorisch Anthropologische Studien_, p. 79.

     ** Compare the French _jour des brandons_.

     ***See Sahagun, ii. 30.

     **** Ibid., i. 12.

About her character the Aztecs had no illusions. She listened to the
confessions of the most loathsome sinners, whom she perhaps first
tempted to err, and then forgave and absolved. Confession was usually
put off till people had ceased to be likely to sin. She is said to have
been the wife of Tlaloc, carried off by Tezcatlipoca. "She must
have been the aquatic vegetation of marshy lands," says M. Roville,
"possessed by the god of waters till the sun dries her up and she
disappears." This is an amusing example of modern ingenuity. It
resembles M. Reville's assertion that Tlaloc, the rain-god, "had but
one eye, which shows that he must be ultimately identified as an ancient
personification of the rainy sky, whose one eye is the sun". A rainy sky
has usually no "eye" at all, and, when it has, in this respect it does
not differ from a cloudless sky.

A less lovely set of Olympians than the Aztec gods it is difficult to
conceive. Yet, making every allowance for Catholic after-thoughts, there
can be no doubt that the prayers, penances and confessions described at
length by Sahagun indicate a firm Mexican belief that even these strange
deities "made for righteousness," loved good, and, in this world and the
next, punished evil. However it happened, whatever accidents of history
or of mixture of the races in the dim past caused it, the Aztecs carried
to extremes the religious and the mythical ideas. They were exceedingly
pious in their attitude of penitence and prayer; they were more fierce
and cruel in ritual, more fantastic in myth, than the wildest of tribes,
tameless and homeless, ignorant of agriculture or of any settled and
assured existence. Even the Inquisition of the Spanishof the sixteenth
century was an improvement on the unheard-of abominations of Mexican
ritual. As in all fully developed polytheisms of civilised races among
the Aztecs we lose sight of the moral primal Being of low savage races.
He is obscured by deities of a kind not yet evolved in the lowest


     Antiquity of Egypt--Guesses at origin of the people--
     Chronological views of the religion--Permanence and changes--
     Local and syncretic worship--Elements of pure belief and of
     totemism--Authorities for facts--Monuments and Greek
     reports--Contending theories of modern authors--Study of the
     gods, their beasts, their alliances and mutations--Evidence
     of ritual--A study of the Osiris myth and of the development
     of Osiris-Savage and theological elements in the myth--Moral
     aspect of the religion--Conclusion.

Even to the ancients Egypt was antiquity, and the Greeks sought in the
dateless mysteries of the Egyptian religion for the fountain of all that
was most mysterious in their own. Curiosity about the obscure beginnings
of human creeds and the first knowledge of the gods was naturally
aroused by that spectacle of the Pantheon of Egypt. Her highest gods
were abstractions, swathed, like the Involuti of the Etrurians, in veils
of mystic doctrine; yet in the most secret recess of her temples the
pious beheld "a crocodile, a cat, or a serpent, a beast rolling on a
purple couch".*

     * Clem. Alex., _Pædagog_., iii. 2 (93).

In Egypt, the earlier ages and the later times beheld a land dominated
by the thought of death, whose shadow falls on the monarch on his
crowning day, whose whisper bids him send to far-off shores for the
granite and the alabaster of the tomb. As life was ruled by the idea
of death; so was fact conquered by dream, and all realities hastened to
lose themselves in symbols; all gods rushed to merge their identity in
the sun, as moths fly towards the flame of a candle. This spectacle of
a race obedient to the dead and bowing down before the beasts, this
procession of gods that were their own fathers and members together in
Ra, wakened the interest of the Greeks, who were even more excited by
the mystery of extreme age that hid the beginnings of Egypt. Full of
their own memories and legends of tribal movements, of migrations, of
invasions, the Greeks acknowledged themselves children of yesterday in
face of a secular empire with an origin so remote that it was scarcely
guessed at in the conjectures of fable. Egypt presented to them, as to
us, the spectacle of antique civilisation without a known beginning.
The spade of to-day reveals no more than the traditions of two thousand
years ago. The most ancient relics of the earliest dynasty are the
massive works of an organised society and an accomplished art. There is
an unbridged interval between the builders of the mysterious temple hard
by the Sphinx and their predecessors, the chippers of palaeolithic flint
axes in the river drift. We know not whence the Egyptians came; we only
trifle with hypotheses when we conjecture that her people are of an
Asiatic or an African stock; we know not whether her gods arose in the
fertile swamps by Nile-side, or whether they were borne in arks, like
the Huitzilopochtli of Mexico, from more ancient seats by the piety
of their worshippers. Yet as one great river of mysterious source flows
throughout all Egypt, so through the brakes and jungles of her religion
flows one great myth from a distant fountain-head, the myth of Osiris.*

     * As to the origin of the Egyptians, the prevalent belief
     among the ancients was that they had descended the Nile from
     the interior of Africa. Cf. Diodorus Siculus, iii. 8. Modern
     theorists occasionally lean in this direction. Dumichen,
     _Geschichte des Alien Ægyptiens_, i. 118. Again, an attempt
     has been made to represent them as successful members of a
     race whereof the Bushmen of South Africa are the social
     failures. M. Maspero conceives, once more, that the
     Egyptians were "proto-Semitic," ethnologically related to the
     people of Eastern Asia, and the grammar of their language
     has Semitic affinities. But the connection, if it ever
     existed, is acknowledged to be extremely remote. Maspero,
     _Hist, de l'Orient_, 4th edit., p. 17. De Rouge writes,
     "Tout nous ramène vers la parenté primitive de Mitsraim
     (Egyptains) et de Canaan" (_Recherches sur les Muniments_,
     p. 11).

The questions which we have to ask in dealing with the mythology of
Egypt come under two heads: First, What was the nature of Egyptian
religion and myth? Secondly, How did that complex mass of beliefs and
practices come into existence?

The question, _What was the religion of Egypt?_ is far from simple. In
a complete treatise on the topic, it would be necessary to ask in reply,
At what period, in what place, and among what classes of society did
the religion exist which you wish to investigate? The ancient Egyptian
religion had a lifetime so long that it almost requires to be meted by
the vague measures of geological time. It is historically known to us,
by the earliest monuments, about the date at which Archbishop Usher
fixed the Creation. Even then, be it noticed, the religion of Egypt was
old and full-grown; there are no historical traces of its beginnings.
Like the material civilisation, it had been fashioned by the unrecorded
_Sheshoa Hor_, "the servants of Horus," patriarchs dwelling with the
blessed. In the four or five thousand years of its later existence,
Egyptian religion endured various modifications.* It was a conservative
people, and schooled by the wisdom of the sepulchre. But invaders,
Semitic, Ethiopian and Greek, brought in some of their own ideas.
Priestly colleges developed novel dogmas, and insensibly altered ritual
The thought of hundreds of generations of men brooded, not fruitlessly,
over the problems of the divine nature. Finally, it is likely that in
Egypt, as elsewhere, the superstitions of the least educated and
most backward classes, and of subject peoples on a lower level of
civilisation, would again and again break up, and win their way to the
surface of religion. Thus a complete study of Egyptian faiths would be
chronological--would note the setting and rising of the stars of elder
and later deities.

     * Professor Lieblein, maintaining this view, opposes the
     statement of Mr. Le Page Renouf, who writes: "The earliest
     monuments which have been discovered present to us the very
     same fully developed civilisation and the same religion as
     the later monuments" (_Hib. Lectures_, 1880, p. 81). But it
     is superfluous to attack a position which Mr. Le Page Renouf
     does not appear really to hold. He admits the existence of
     development and evolution in Egyptian religious thought "I
     believe, therefore, that, after closely approaching the
     point at which polytheism might have turned into monotheism,
     the religious thought of Egypt turned aside into a wrong
     track" (Op. cit, p. 236).

The method of a systematic history of Egyptian religion would not be
regulated by chronology alone. Topographical and social conditions
would also claim attention. The favoured god or gods of one nome
(administrative district), or of one town, or of one sacred metropolis,
were not the gods of another metropolis, or town, or nome, though some
deities were common to the whole country. The fundamental character
might be much the same in each case, but the titles, and aspects, and
ritual, and accounts of the divine genealogy varied in each locality.
Once more, the "syncretic" tendency kept fusing into one divine name
and form, or into a family triad of gods (mother, father and son),
the deities of different districts, which, beneath their local
peculiarities, theologians could recognise as practically the same.

While political events and local circumstances were thus modifying
Egyptian religion, it must never be forgotten that the different classes
of society were probably by no means at one in their opinions. The
monuments show us what the kings believed, or at least what the kings
practised, record the prayers they uttered and the sacrifices they
offered. The tombs and the papyri which contain the _Book of the Dead_
and other kindred works reveal the nature of belief in a future life,
with the changes which it underwent at different times. But the people,
the vast majority, unlettered and silent, cannot tell us what _they_
believed, or what were their favourite forms of adoration. We are
left to the evidence of amulets, of books of magic, of popular tales,
surviving on a papyrus here and there, and to the late testimony of
Greek writers--Herodotus, Diodorus, the author of the treatise _De
Osiride et hide_, and others. While the clergy of the twentieth dynasty
were hymning the perfections of Ammon Ra--"so high that man may not
attain unto him, dweller in the hidden place, him whose image no man has
beheld"--the peasant may have been worshipping, like a modern Zulu, the
serpents in his hovel, or may have been adoring the local sacred cat
of his village, or flinging stones at the local sacred crocodile of
his neighbours. To the enlightened in the later empire, perhaps to the
remotest unknown ancestors also, God was self-proceeding, self-made,
manifest in the deities that were members together in him of godhead.
But the peasant, if he thinks of the gods at all, thinks of them walking
the earth, like our Lord and the saints in the Norse nursery tales, to
amuse themselves with the adventures of men. The peasant spoke of the
Seven Hathors, that come like fairy godmothers to the cradle of each
infant, and foretell his lot in life.*

     * Compare Maspero, _Hist, de l'Orient_., 4th edit., pp. 279-
     288, for the priestly hymns and the worship of beasts. "The
     lofty thoughts remained the property of a small number of
     priests and instructed people; they did not penetrate the
     mass of the population. Far from that, the worship of
     animals, goose, swallow, cat, serpent, had many more
     followers than Amnion Ra could count." See also Tiele,
     _Manuel de l'Hist. des Rel._, Paris, 1880, pp. 46, 47. For
     the folk-lore of wandering gods see Maspero, _Contes
     Egyptiens_, Paris, 1882, p. 17.

It is impossible, of course, to write here a complete history of
Egyptian religion, as far as it is to be extracted from the books and
essays of learned moderns; but it has probably been made clear that
when we speak of the religion and mythology of Egypt, we speak of a very
large and complicated subject. Plainly this is a topic which the lay
student will find full of pitfalls, and on which even scholars may well
arrive at contradictory opinions. To put the matter briefly, where one
school finds in the gods and the holy menagerie of Egyptian creeds
the corruption of a primitive monotheism, its opponents see a crowd of
survivals from savagery combined with clearer religious ideas, which are
the long result of civilised and educated thought.* Both views may be
right in part.

     * The English leader of the former school, the believer in a
     primitive purity, corrupted and degraded but not
     extinguished, is Mr. Le Page Renouf (_Hibbert Lectures_,
     London, 1879). It is not always very easy to make out what
     side Mr. Le Page Renouf does take. For example, in his
     _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 89, he speaks somewhat
     sympathetically of the "very many eminent scholars, who,
     with full knowledge of all that can be said to the contrary,
     maintain that the Egyptian religion is essentially
     monotheistic". He himself says that "a power without a name
     or any mythological characteristic is constantly referred to
     in the singular number, and can only be regarded as the
     object of that _sensus numinis_, or immediate perception of
     the Infinite." which is "the result of an intuition as
     irresistible as the impressions of our senses". If this be
     not primitive instinctive monotheism, what is it? Yet Mr.
     Le Page Renouf says that Egyptian polytheism, after closely
     approaching the point where it might have become monotheism,
     went off on a wrong track; so the Egyptians after all were
     polytheists, not monotheists (op. cit., p. 235). Of similar
     views are the late illustrious Vicomte de Rouge, M.
     Mariette, M. Pierret, and Brugsch Pasha (_Rel. und Myth, der
     Alien Egypter_, vol i., Leipzig, 1884). On the other side,
     on the whole regarding Egyptian creeds as a complex mass of
     early uncivilised and popular ideas, with a later priestly
     religion tending towards pantheism and monotheism, are M.
     Maspero, Professor Tiele, Professor Lieblein (English
     readers may consult his pamphlet, _Egyptian Religion_,
     Leipzig, 1884), M. Edward Meyer, (_Geschichte des
     Alterthums_, Stuttgart, 1884), Herr Pietsch. mann
     (_Zeitschrtftfur Ethnologic_, Berlin, 1878, art. "Fetisch
     Dienst"), and Professor Tiele (_Manuel de l'Histoire des
     Religions_, Paris, 1880, and "_History of Egyptian Religion,
     English translation_, 1882).

After this preamble let us endeavour to form a general working idea of
what Egyptian religion was as a whole. What kind of religion did the
Israelites see during the sojourn in Egypt, or what presented itself to
the eyes of Herodotus? Unluckily we have no such eye-witnesses of the
earlier Egyptian as Bernal Diaz was of the Aztec temples. The Bible says
little that is definite about the theological "wisdom of the Egyptians".
When confronted with the sacred beasts, Herodotus might have used with
double truth the Greek saw: "A great ox has trod upon my tongue".* But
what Herodotus hinted at or left unsaid is gathered from the evidence of
tombs and temple walls and illuminated papyri.

One point is certain. Whatever else the religion of Egypt may at any
time have been, it struck every foreign observer as polytheism.**
Moreover, it was a polytheism like another. The Greeks had no
difficulty, for example, in recognising amongst these beast-headed
monsters gods analogous to their own. This is demonstrated by the
fact that to almost every deity of Egypt they readily and unanimously
assigned a Greek divine name. Seizing on a certain aspect of Osiris and
of his mystery-play, they made him Dionysus; Hor became Apollo; Ptah,
Hephaestus: Ammon Ra, Zeus; Thoth, Hermes, and so on with the rest.
The Egyptian deities were recognised as divine beings, with certain
(generally ill-defined) departments of Nature and of human activity
under their care. Some of them, like Seb (earth) and Nut (heaven), were
esteemed elemental forces or phenomena, and were identified with the
same personal phenomena or forces, Uranus and Gæa, in the Greek system,
where heaven and earth were also parents of many of the gods.

     * Æschylus, _Agamemnon_, 37, (--------)

     **  Maspero, Musée de Boulaq, p. 150; Le Page Renouf, Hib.
     Led., pp. 85,86.

Thus it is indisputably clear that Egyptian religion had a polytheistic
aspect, or rather, as Maspero says, was "a well-marked polytheism";
that in this regard it coincided with other polytheisms, and that this
element must be explained in the Egyptian, as it is explained in the
Greek or the Aztec, or the Peruvian or the Maori religion.* Now an
explanation has already been offered in the mythologies previously
examined. Some gods have been recognised, like Rangi and Papa, the Maori
heaven and earth (Nut and Seb), as representatives of the old personal
earth and heaven, which commend themselves to the barbaric fancy. Other
gods are the informing and indwelling spirits of other phenomena, of
winds or sea or woods. Others, again, whatever their origin, preside
over death, over the dead, over the vital functions, such as love,
or over the arts of life, such as agriculture; and these last gods
of departments of human activity were probably in the beginning
culture-heroes, real, or more likely ideal, the first teachers of men.

     * "It is certainly erroneous to consider Egyptian religion
     as a polytheistic corruption of a prehistoric monotheism. It
     is more correct to say that, while polytheistic in
     principle, the religion developed in two absolutely opposite
     directions. On one side, the constant introduction of new
     gods, local or foreign; on the other, a groping after a
     monotheism never absolutely reached. The learned explained
     the crowd of gods as so many incarnations of the one hidden
     uncreated deity."--Tiele, _Manuel de l'Histoire des
     Religions_, p. 46.

In polytheisms of long standing all these attributes and functions have
been combined and reallotted, and the result we see in that confusion
which is of the very essence of myth. Each god has many birth-places,
one has many sepulchres, all have conflicting genealogies. If these
ideas about other polytheisms be correct, then it is probable that they
explain to a great extent the first principles of the polytheism of
Egypt They explain at least the factors in Egyptian religion, which the
Greeks recognised as analogous with their own, and which are found among
polytheists of every degree of culture, from New Zealand to Hellas. If
ever Ptah, or any other name, represented "Our Father" as he is known
to the most backward races, he was buried into the background by gods
evolved from ghosts, by departmental gods, and by the gods of races
amalgamated in the course of conquest and settlement.

Leaving on one side, then, for the moment, the vast system of
ancestor-worship and of rites undertaken for the benefit of the dead,
and leaving aside the divinity of the king, polytheism was the most
remarkable feature of Egyptian religion. The foreign traveller in the
time of the pyramid-builders, as in the time of Ramses II., or of the
Ptolemies, or of the Roman domination, would have found a crowd of gods
in receipt of honour and of sacrifice. He would have learned that one
god was most adored in one locality, another in another, that Ammon Ra
was predominant in Thebes; Ra, the sun-god, in Heliopolis; Osiris in
Abydos, and so forth. He would also have observed that certain animals
were sacred to certain gods, and that in places where each beast was
revered, his species was not eaten, though it might blamelessly be
cooked and devoured in the neighbouring nome or district, where another
animal was dominant. Everywhere, in all nomes and towns, the adoration
of Osiris, chiefly as the god and redeemer of the dead, was practised.*

     * On the different religions of different nomes, and
     especially the animal worship, see Pietschmann, _Der
     Ægyptische Fetischdienst und Götterglaube, Zeitschrtft für
     Ethnologie_, 1878, p. 168.

While these are the general characteristics of Egyptian religion, there
were inevitably many modifications in the course of five thousand years.
If one might imagine a traveller endowed, like the Wandering Jew, with
endless life, and visiting Egypt every thousand, or every five hundred
years, we can fancy some of the changes in religion which he would
observe. On the whole, from the first dynasty and the earliest
monuments to the time when Hor came to wear a dress like that of a Roman
centurion, the traveller would find the chief figures of the Pantheon
recognisably the same. But there would be novelties in the manner of
worshipping and of naming or representing them. "In the oldest
tombs, where the oldest writings are found, there are not many gods
mentioned--there are Osiris, Horus, Thot, Seb, Nut, Hathor, Anubis,
Apheru, and a couple more."* Here was a stock of gods who remained in
credit till "the dog Anubis" fled from the Star of Bethlehem. Most of
these deities bore birth-marks of the sky and of the tomb. If Osiris
was "the sun-god of Abydos," he was also the murdered and mutilated
culture-hero. If Hor or Horus was the sun at his height, he too had
suffered despiteful usage from his enemies. Seb and Nut (named on the
coffin of Mycerinus of the fourth dynasty in the British Museum) were
our old friends the personal heaven and earth. Anubis, the jackal, was
"the lord of the grave," and dead kings are worshipped no less than
gods who were thought to have been dead kings. While certain gods, who
retained permanent power, appear in the oldest monuments, sacred animals
are also present from the first.

     * Lieblein, _Egyptian Religion_, p. 7.

The gods, in fact, of the earliest monuments were beasts. Here is one of
the points in which a great alteration developed itself in the midst
of Egyptian religion. Till the twelfth dynasty, when a god is mentioned
(and in those very ancient remains gods are not mentioned often), "he is
represented by his animal, or with the name spelled out in hieroglyphs,
often beside the bird or beast".* "The jackal stands for Anup (Anubis),
the frog for Hekt, the baboon for Tahuti (Thoth). It is not till after
Semitic influence had begun to work in the country that any figures of
gods are found." By "figures of gods" are meant the later man-shaped
or semi-man-shaped images, the hawk-headed, jackal-headed, and similar
representations with which we are familiar in the museums. The change
begins with the twelfth dynasty, but becomes most marked under the
eighteenth. "During the ancient empire," says M. Maspero, "I only find
monuments at four points--at Memphis, at Abydos, in some parts of Middle
Egypt, at Sinai, and in the valley of Hammamat. The divine names appear
but occasionally, in certain unvaried formulæ. Under the eleventh and
twelfth dynasties Lower Egypt comes on the scene. The formulæ are more
explicit, but the religious monuments rare. From the eighteenth dynasty
onwards, we have _representations_ of all the deities, accompanied
by legends more or less developed, and we begin to discover books of
ritual, hymns, amulets, and other objects."** There are also sacred
texts in the Pyramids.

     * Flinders Petrie, _Arts of Ancient Egypt_, p. 8.

     ** _Revue de l'Histoire des Religions_, i. 124.

Other changes, less important than that which turned the beast-god
into a divine man or woman, often beast-headed, are traced in the very
earliest ages. The ritual of the holy bulls (Hapi, Apis) makes its
official appearance under the fourth king of the first, and the first
king of the second dynasties.* Mr. Le Page Renouf, admitting this,
thinks the great development of bull-worship later.** In the third
dynasty the name of Ra, sun, comes to be added to the royal names of
kings, as Nebkara, Noferkara, and so forth.*** Osiris becomes more
important than the jackal-god as the guardian of the dead. Sokar,
another god of death, shows a tendency to merge himself in Osiris.
With the successes of the eighteenth dynasty in Thebes, the process of
_syncretism_, by which various god-names and god-natures are mingled, so
as to unite the creeds of different nomes and provinces, and blend
all in the worship of the Theban Ammon Ra, is most notable. Now arise
schools of theology; pantheism and an approach to monotheism in the
Theban god become probable results of religious speculations and
imperial success. These tendencies are baffled by the break-up of the
Theban supremacy, but the monotheistic idea remains in the esoteric
dogmas of priesthoods, and survives into Neo-Platonism. Special changes
are introduced--now, as in the case of worship of the solar disk by a
heretic king; earlier, as in the prevalence of Set-worship, perhaps by
Semitic invaders.****

     * Brugsch, _History of Egypt_, English transl., i. 59, 60.

     ** Hib. Lect., pp. 237, 238.

     *** Op. cit. i. p. 56.

     **** For Khunaten, and his heresy of the disk in Thebes, see
     Brugsch, op. cit., i. 442. It had little or no effect on
     myth. Tiele says (_Hist. Egypt. Rel._, p. 49), "From the
     most remote antiquity Set is one of the Osirian circle, and
     is thus a genuine Egyptian deity".

It is impossible here to do more than indicate the kind of modification
which Egyptian religion underwent. Throughout it remained constant
in certain features, namely, the _local_ character of its gods, their
usefulness to the dead (their _Chthonian_ aspect), their tendency to be
merged into the sun, Ra, the great type and symbol and source of life,
and, finally, their inability to shake off the fur and feathers of the
beasts, the earliest form of their own development. Thus life,
death, sky, sun, bird, beast and man are all blended in the religious
conceptions of Egypt. Here follow two hymns to Osiris, hymns of the
nineteenth and twentieth dynasties, which illustrate the confusion of
lofty and almost savage ideas, the coexistence of notions from every
stage of thought, that make the puzzle of Egyptian mythology.

"Hail to thee, Osiris, eldest son of Seb, greatest of the six deities
born of Nut, chief favourite of thy father, Ra, the father of fathers;
king of time, master of eternity; one in his manifestations, terrible.
When he left the womb of his mother he united all the crowns, he fixed
the urseus (emblem of sovereignty) on his head. God of many shapes, god
of the unknown name, thou who hast many names in many provinces; if Ra
rises in the heavens, it is by the will of Osiris; if he sets, it is at
the sight of his glory."*

In another hymn** Osiris is thus addressed: "King of eternity, great
god, risen from the waters that were in the beginning, strong hawk, king
of gods, master of souls, king of terrors, lord of crowns, thou that
art great in Hnes, that dost appear at Mendes in the likeness of a ram,
monarch of the circle of gods, king of Amenti (Hades), revered of gods
and men, who so knoweth humility and reckoneth deeds of righteousness,
thereby knows he Osiris."***

     *  From Abydos, nineteenth dynasty. Maspero, _Musee de
     Boulaq_, pp. 49,50.

     ** Twentieth dynasty.    _Op. cit._, p. 48.

     *** "This phase of religious thought," says Mr. Page Renouf,
     speaking of what he calls _monotheism_, "is chiefly
     presented to us in a large number of hymns, beginning with
     the earliest days of the eighteenth dynasty. It is certainly
     much more ancient, but.... none of the hymns of that time
     have come down to us." See a very remarkable pantheistic
     hymn to Osiris, "lord of holy transformations," in a passage
     cited, _Hib. Lect_., p. 218, and the hymns to Amnion Ra,
     "closely approaching the language of monotheism," pp. 225,
     226. Excellent examples of pantheistic litanies of Ra are
     translated from originals of the nineteenth dynasty, in
     _Records of the Past_, viii. 105-128. The royal Osiris is
     identified with Ra. Here, too, it is told how Ra smote Apap,
     the serpent of evil, the Egyptian Ahi.

Here the noblest moral sentiments are blended with Oriental salutations
in the worship of a god who, for the moment, is recognised as lord
of lords, but who is also a ram at Mendes. This apparent confusion of
ideas, and this assertion of supremacy for a god who, in the next
hymn, is subjected to another god, mark civilised polytheism; but the
confusion was increased by the extreme age of the Egyptian faith, and
by the doubt that prevailed as to the meaning of tradition. "The
seventeenth chapter of the _Book of the Dead_" which seems to contain
a statement of the system of the universe as understood at Heliopolis
under the first dynasties, "is known to us by several examples of the
eleventh and twelfth dynasties." _Each of the verses had already been
interpreted in three or four different ways_; so different, that,
according to one school, the Creator, _Râ-Show_, was the solar fire;
according to another school, not the fire, but the waters! The _Book
of the Dead_, in fact, is no book, but collections of pamphlets, so to
speak, of very different dates. "Plan or unity cannot be expected," and
glosses only some four thousand years old have become imbedded in really
ancient texts.* Fifteen centuries later the number of interpretations
had considerably increased.**

Where the Egyptians themselves were in helpless doubt, it would be
vain to offer complete explanations of their opinions and practices
in detail; but it is possible, perhaps, to account for certain large
elements of their beliefs, and even to untie some of the knots of the
Osirian myth.

The strangest feature in the rites of Egypt was animal-worship, which
appeared in various phases. There was the local adoration of a beast,
a bird, or fish, to which the neighbours of other districts were
indifferent or hostile. There was the presence of the animal in the most
sacred _penetralia_ of the temple; and there was the god conceived of,
on the whole, as anthropomorphic, but often represented in art, after
the twelfth dynasty, as a man or woman with the head of a bird or

     * Cf. Tiele, _Hist Egypt_. Rel., pp. 26-29, and notes.

     **  Maspero, _Musee de Boulaq_, p. 149.

     *** As to the animals which were sacred and might not be
     eaten in various nomes, an account will be found in
     Wilkinson's _Ancient Egyptians_, ii. 467. The English reader
     will find many beast-headed gods in the illustrations to
     vol. iii. The edition referred to is Birch's, London, 1878.
     A more scientific authority is Lanzoni, _Dizion. Mit_.

These points in Egyptian religion have been the great puzzle both of
antiquity and of modern mythology. The common priestly explanations
varied. Sometimes it was said that the gods had concealed themselves in
the guise of beasts during the revolutionary wars of Set against Horus.*
Often, again, animal-worship was interpreted as symbolical; it was not
the beast, but the qualities which he personified that were adored.**
Thus Anubis, really a jackal, is a dog, in the explanations of Plutarch,
and is said to be worshipped for his fidelity, or because he can see in
the night, or because he is the image of time. "As he brought forth all
things out of himself, and contains all things within himself, he gets
the title of dog."*** Once more, and by a nearer approach to what is
probably the truth, the beast-gods were said to be survivals of the
badges (representing animals) of various tribal companies in the forces
of Osiris. Such were the ideas current in Graeco-Roman speculation,
nor perhaps is there any earlier evidence as to the character of native
interpretation of animal-worship. The opinion has also been broached
that beast-worship in Egypt is a refraction from the use of hieroglyphs.
If the picture of a beast was one of the signs in the writing of a god's
name, adoration might be transferred to the beast from the god. It is
by no means improbable that this process had its share in producing
the results.**** Some of the explanations of animal-worship which were
popular of old are still in some favour.

     * De Is. et Os., lxxii.

     ** Op. cit., xi.

     *** Ibid., xliv.

     **** Pietschmann, op. cit., p. 163, contends that the
     animal-worship is older than these Egyptian modes of writing
     the divine names, say of Amnion Ra or Hathor. Moreover, the
     signs were used in writing the names because the gods were
     conceived of in these animal shapes.

Mr. Le Page Renouf appears to hold that there was something respectably
mythical in the worship of the inhabitants of zoological and botanical
gardens, something holy apparent at least to the devout.* He quotes the
opinion attributed to Apollonius of Tyana, that the beasts were symbols
of deity, not deities, and this was the view of "a grave opponent".
Mr. Le Page Renouf also mentions Porphyry's theory, that "under the
semblance of animals the Egyptians worship the universal power which
the gods have revealed in the various forms of living nature".** It is
evident, of course, that all of these theories may have been held by the
learned in Egypt, especially after the Christian era, in the times of
Apollonius and Porphyry; but that throws little light on the motives and
beliefs of the pyramid-builders many thousands of years before, or of
the contemporary peasants with their worship of cats and alligators. In
short, the systems of symbolism were probably made after the facts, to
account for practices whose origin was obscure. Yet another hypothesis
is offered by Mr. Le Page Renouf, and in the case of Set and the
hippopotamus is shared by M. Maspero. Tiele also remarks that some
beasts were promoted to godhead comparatively late, because their names
resembled names of gods.***

     * _Hibbert Lectures_, pp. 6, 7.

     ** _De Abst_., iv. c. 9.

     *** _Theolog. Tidjsch_., 12th year, p. 261.

The gods, in certain cases, received their animal characteristics by
virtue of certain unconscious puns or mistakes in the double senses of
words. Seb is the earth. Seb is also the Egyptian name for a certain
species of goose, and, in accordance with the _homonymous_ tendency
of the mythological period of all nations, the god and the bird were
identified.* Seb was called "the Great Cackler".** Again, the god Thoth
was usually represented with the head of an ibis. A mummied ibis "in
the human form is made to represent the god Thoth".*** This connection
between Thoth and the ibis Mr. Le Page Renouf explains at some length as
the result of an etymological confusion.**** Thus metaphorical language
reacted upon thought, and, as in other religions, obtained the mastery.

While these are the views of a distinguished modern Egyptologist,
another Egyptologist, not less distinguished, is of an entirely opposite
opinion as to the question on the whole. "It is possible, nay, certain,"
writes M. Maspero, "that during the second Theban empire the learned
priests may have thought it well to attribute a symbolical sense to
certain bestial deities. But whatever they may have worshipped in
Thoth-Ibis, it was a bird, and not a hieroglyph, that the first
worshippers of the ibis adored."***** M. Meyer is of the same opinion,
and so are Professor Tiele and M. Perrot.******

     * For a statement of the theory of "homonymous tendency,"
     see Selected Essays, Max Müller, i. 299, 245. For a
     criticism of the system, see Mythology in Encyclop, Brit.,
     or in La Mythologie, A. Lang, Paris, 1886.

     ** Hibbert Lectures, 1880, p. 111.

     *** Wilkinson, iii. 325.

     **** Op. cit., pp. 116, 117, 237.

     ***** Revue de V Histoire des Religions, vol. i.

     ****** Meyer, Oeschichte des Alterthums, p. 72; Tiele,
     Manuel, p. 45; Perrot and Chipiez, Egyptian Art, English
     transl., i. 54. Hist. Egypt. Rel., pp. 97, 103. Tiele finds
     the origin of this animal-worship in "animism," and supposes
     that the original colonists or conquerors from Asia found it
     prevalent in and adopted it from an African population.
     Professor Tiele does not appear, when he wrote this chapter,
     to have observed the world-wide diffusion of animal-worship
     in totem ism, for he says, "Nowhere else does the worship
     of animals prevail so extensively as among African peoples".

While the learned have advanced at various periods these conflicting
theories of the origin of Egyptian animal-worship, a novel view was
introduced by Mr. M'Lennan. In his essays on _Plant and Animal Worship_,
he regarded Egyptian animal-worship as only a consecrated and elaborate
survival of totemism. Mr. Le Page Renouf has ridiculed the "school-boy
authorities on which Mr. M'Lennan relied".* Nevertheless, Mr. M'Lennan's
views are akin to those to which M. Maspero and MM. Perrot and Chipiez
are attached, and they have also the support of Professor Sayce.

"These animal forms, in which a later myth saw the shapes assumed by the
affrighted gods during the great war between Horus and Typhon, take us
back to a remote prehistoric age, when the religious creed of Egypt was
still totemism. They are survivals from a long-forgotten past, and
prove that Egyptian civilisation was of slow and independent growth, the
latest stage only of which is revealed to us by the monuments. Apis of
Memphis, Mnevis of Heliopolis, and Pachis of Hermonthis are all links
that bind together the Egypt of the Pharaohs and the Egypt of the stone
age. These were the sacred animals of the clans which first settled
in these localities, and their identification with the deities of the
official religion must have been a slow process, never fully carried
out, in fact, in the minds of the lower classes."**

     * Hibbert Lectures, pp. 6, 30.

     ** Herodotus, p. 344.

Thus it appears that, after all, even on philological showing, the
religions and myths of a civilised people may be illustrated by the
religions and myths of savages. It is in the study of savage totemism
that we too seek a partial explanation of the singular Egyptian
practices that puzzled the Greeks and Romans, and the Egyptians
themselves. To some extent the Egyptian religious facts were purely
totemistic in the strict sense.

Some examples of the local practices and rites which justify this
opinion may be offered. It has been shown that the totem of each
totem-kindred among the lower races is sacred, and that there is a
strict rule against eating, or even making other uses of, the sacred
animal or plant.* At the same time, one totem-kindred has no scruple
about slaying or eating the totem of any other kindred. Now similar
rules prevailed in Egypt, and it is not easy for the school which
regards the holy beasts as _emblems_, or as the results of misunderstood
language, to explain why an emblem was adored in one village and
persecuted and eaten in the next. But if these usages be survivals of
totemism, the practice at once ceases to be isolated, and becomes part
of a familiar, if somewhat obscure, body of customs found all over
the world. "The same animal which was revered and forbidden to be
slaughtered for the altar or the table in one part of the country was
sacrificed and eaten in another."**

     * This must be taken generally.   See Spencer and Gillen in
     the _Natives of Central Australia_, where each kin helps the
     others to kill its own totem.

     ** Wilkinson, _Ancient Egyptians_, ii. 467.

Herodotus bears testimony to this habit in an important passage. He
remarks that the people of the Theban nome whose god, Ammon Ra, or
Khnum, was ram-headed, abstain from sheep and sacrifice goats; but
the people of Mendes, whose god was goat-headed, abstain from goats,
sacrifice sheep, and hold all goats in reverence.*

These local rites, at least in Roman times, caused civil brawls, for the
customs of one town naturally seemed blasphemous to neighbours with a
different sacred animal. Thus when the people of Dog-town were feasting
on the fish called oxyrrhyncus, the citizens of the town which revered
the oxyrrhyncus began to eat dogs, to which there is no temptation.
Hence arose a riot.**

     * Herodotus, ii. 42-46. The goat-headed Mendesian god Pan,
     as Herodotus calls him, is recognised by Dr. Birch as the
     goat-headed Ba-en-tattu.    Wilkinson, ii. 512, note 2.

     ** De Is. et Os., 71, 72.

The most singular detail in Juvenal's famous account of the war between
the towns of Ombi and Tentyra does not appear to be a mere invention.
They fought "because each place loathes the gods of its neighbours".
The turmoil began at a sacred feast, and the victors devoured one of the
vanquished. Now if the religion were really totemistic, the worshippers
would be of the same blood as the animal they worshipped, and in eating
an adorer of the crocodile, his enemies would be avenging the eating
of their own sacred beast. When that beast was a crocodile, probably
nothing but starvation or religious zeal could induce people to taste
his unpalatable flesh. Yet "in the city Apollinopolis it is the custom
that every one must by all means eat a bit of crocodile; and on one day
they catch and kill as many crocodiles as they can, and lay them out in
front of the temple ". The mythic reason was that Typhon, in his flight
from Horus, took the shape of a crocodile. Yet he was adored at various
places where it was dangerous to bathe on account of the numbers and
audacity of the creatures. Mummies of crocodiles are found in various
towns where the animal was revered.*

It were tedious to draw up a list of the local sacred beasts of Egypt;**
but it seems manifest that the explanation of their worship as totems
at once colligates it with a familiar set of phenomena. The symbolic
explanations, on the other hand, are clearly fanciful, mere _jeux
d'esprit_. For example, the sacred shrew-mouse was locally adored, was
carried to Butis on its death, and its mummy buried with care, but the
explanation that it "received divine honours because it is blind, and
darkness is more ancient than light," by no means accounts for the
mainly _local_ respect paid to the little beast.***

     * Wilkinson, iii. 329. Compare AElian, x. 24, on the enmity
     between worshippers of crocodiles and hawks (and Strabo,
     xvii. 558). The hawk-worshippers averred that the hawk was a
     symbol of fire; the crocodile people said that their beast
     was an emblem of water; but why one city should be so
     attached to water-worship and its neighbour to tire-worship
     does not appear.

     ** A good deal of information will be found in Wilkinson's
     third volume, but must be accepted with caution.

     *** Wilkinson, iii. 33; Plutarch, Sympos., iv. quaest. 5;
     Herodot, ii. 67.

If this explanation of the _local_ worship of sacred beasts be admitted
as plausible, the beast-headed gods, or many of them, may be accounted
for in the same way. It is always in a town where a certain animal is
locally revered that the human-shaped god wearing the head of the same
animal finds the centre and chief holy place of his worship. The cat is
great in Bubastis, and there is Bast, and also the cat-headed Sekhet* of
Memphis. The sheep was great in Thebes, and there was the sacred city of
the ram-headed Khnum or Ammon Ra.** If the crocodile was held in supreme
regard at Ombos, there, too, was the sacred town of the crocodile-headed
god, Sebak.

     * Wilkinson, iii. 286. But the cat, though Bubastis was her
     centre and metropolis, was sacred all over the land. Nor was
     puss only in this proud position.   Some animals were
     _universally_ worshipped.

     ** The inconsistencies of statement about this ram-headed
     deity in Wilkinson are most confusing. Ammon is an adjective
     = "hidden," and is connected with the ram-headed Khnum, and
     with the hawk-headed Ra, the sun.

While Greek writers like Porphyry and Plutarch and Jamblichus repeat the
various and inconsistent Egyptian allegorical accounts of the origin of
those beast-headed gods, the facts of their worship and chosen residence
show that the gods are only semi-anthropomorphic refinements or
successors of the animals. It has been said that these representations
are later in time, and it is probable that they are later in evolution,
than the representations of the deities as mere animals. Nor, perhaps,
is it impossible to conjecture how the change in art was made. It is a
common ritual custom for the sacrificer to cover himself with the skin
and head of the animal sacrificed. In Mexico we know that the Aztec
priests wore the flayed skins of their human victims. Herodotus mentions
that on the one awful day when a sheep was yearly sacrificed in Thebes,
the statue of Zeus, as he calls him, was draped in the hide of the
beast. In the same way certain Californian tribes which worship the
buzzard sacrifice him, "himself to himself," once a year, and use his
skin as a covering in the ritual.* Lucian gives an instance in his
treatise _De Deâ Syriâ_ (55): "When a man means to go on pilgrimage to
Hierapolis, he sacrifices a sheep and eats of its flesh. He then kneels
down and draws the head over his own head, praying at the same time to
the god." Chaldean works of art often represent the priest in the skin
of the god, sometimes in that of a fish.**

It is a conjecture not unworthy of consideration that the human gods
with bestial heads are derived from the aspect of the celebrant clad in
the pelt of the beast whom he sacrifices. In Egyptian art the heads of
the gods are usually like masks, or flayed skins superimposed on the
head of a man.*** If it be asked _why_ the celebrant thus disguises
himself in the sacrifice, it is only possible to reply by guess-work.
But the hypothesis may be hazarded that this rite was one of the many
ways in which the sacred animal has been propitiated in his death by
many peoples. It is a kind of legal fiction to persuade him that, like
the bear in the Finnish Kalewala and in the Red Indian and Australian
legend, "he does not die". His skin is still capering about on other

     * [Robinson, _Life in California_, pp. 241, 803;]
     Herodotus, ii. 42.

     ** Menant, _Recherehes_, ii. 49. See a collection of cases
     in our _Cupid and Psyche_, pp. lviii., lix.

     *** The idea is Professor Robertson Smith's.

     **** For examples of propitiation of slain animals by this
     and other arts, see _Prim. Cult_, i. 467, 469. When the
     Koriaks slay a bear or wolf, they dress one of their people
     in his skin, and dance round him, chanting excuses. We must
     not forget, while offering this hypothesis of the origin of
     beast-headed gods, that representations of this kind in art
     may only be a fanciful kind of shorthand. Everyone knows the
     beasts which, in Christian art, accompany the four
     Evangelists.   These do not, of course, signify that St.
     John was of the eagle totem kin, and St. Mark of the stock
     of the lion. They are the beasts of Ezekiel and the
     Apocalypse, regarded as types of the four Gospel writers.
     Moreover, in mediaeval art, the Evangelists are occasionally
     represented with the heads of their beasts--John with an
     eagle's head, Mark with a lion's, Luke with that of an ox.
     See _Bulletin, Com. Hist. Archeol_., iv. 1852.   For this
     note I am indebted to M. H. Gaidoz.

While Egyptian myth, religion and ritual is thus connected with the
beliefs of the lower races, the animal-worship presents yet another
point of contact. Not only were beasts locally adored, but gods were
thought of and represented in the shape of various different beasts. How
did the evolution work its way? what is the connection between a lofty
spiritual conception, as of Ammon Ra, the lord of righteousness, and
Osiris, judge of the dead, and bulls, rams, wolves, cranes, hawks, and
so forth? Osiris especially had quite a collection of bestial heads,
and appeared in divers bestial forms.* The bull Hapi "was a fair and
beautiful image of the soul of Osiris," in late ritual.** We have read
a hymn in which he is saluted as a ram. He also "taketh the character
of the god Bennu, with the head of a crane," and as Sokar Osiris has
the head of a hawk.*** These phenomena could not but occur, in the
long course of time, when political expediency, in Egypt, urged the
recognition of the identity of various local deities. In the same way
"Ammon Ra, like most of the gods, frequently took the character of other
deities, as Khem, Ra and Chnumis, and even the attributes of Osiris

     * Cf. Wilkinson, iii. 86, 87.

     ** De Is. et Os., 29.

     ***Wilkinson, iii. 82.

     ****Op. cit., iii, 9.

There was a constant come and go of attributes, and gods adopted each
other's symbols, as kings and emperors wear the uniform of regiments in
each other's service. Moreover, it is probable that the process so
amply illustrated in Samoan religion had its course in Egypt, and that
different holy animals might be recognised as aspects of the same deity.
Finally, the intricate connection of gods and beasts is no singular or
isolated phenomenon. From Australia upwards, a god, perhaps originally,
conceived of as human and moral in character, is also recognised in a
totem, as Pund-jel in the eagle-hawk. Thus the confusion of Egyptian
religion is what was inevitable in a land where new and old did not
succeed and supersede each other, but coexisted on good terms. Had
religion not been thus confused, it would have been a solitary exception
among the institutions of the country.

The peculiarity of Egypt, in religion and myth as in every other
institution, is the retention of the very rudest and most barbarous
things side by side with the last refinements of civilisation (Tiele,
Manuel, p. 44). The existence of this conservatism (by which we profess
to explain the Egyptian myths and worship) is illustrated, in another
field, by the arts of everyday life, and by the testimony of the
sepulchres of Thebes. M. Passalacqua, in some excavations at Quoarnah
(Gurna), struck on the common cemetery of the ancient city of Thebes.
Here he found "the mummy of a hunter, with a wooden bow and twelve
arrows, the shaft made of reed, the points of hardened wood tipped
with edged flints. Hard by lay jewels belonging to the mummy of a young
woman, pins with ornamental heads, necklaces of gold and lapis-lazuli,
gold earrings, scarabs of gold, bracelets of gold," and so forth
(Chabas, _Etudes sur l'Antiquity Historique_, p. 390). The refined art
of the gold-worker was contemporary, and this at a late period, with
the use of flint-headed arrows, the weapons commonly found all over
the world in places where the metals had never penetrated. Again, a
razor-shaped knife of flint has been unearthed; it is inscribed in
hieroglyphics with the words, "The great Sam, son of Ptah, chief of
artists ". The "Sams" were members of the priestly class, who fulfilled
certain mystic duties at funerals. It is reported by Herodotus that the
embalmers opened the bodies of the dead with a knife of stone; and the
discovery of such a knife, though it had not belonged to an embalmer,
proves that in Egypt the stone age did not disappear, but coexisted
throughout with the arts of metal-working. It is alleged that flint
chisels and stone hammers were used by the workers of the mines
in Sinai, even under Dynasties XII., XIX. The soil of Egypt, when
excavated, constantly shows that the Egyptians, who in the remote age of
the pyramid-builders were already acquainted with bronze, and even
with iron, did not therefore relinquish the use of flint knives and
arrow-heads when such implements became cheaper than tools of metal, or
when they were associated with religion. Precisely in the same way did
the Egyptians, who, in the remotest known times, had imposing religious
ideas, decline to relinquish the totems and beast-gods and absurd or
blasphemous myths which (like flint axes and arrow-heads) are everywhere
characteristic of savages. The fact is, that the Egyptian mind, when
turned to divine matters, was constantly working on, and working over,
the primeval stuff of all mythologies and of all religions. First, there
is the belief in a moral guardian and father of men; this is expressed
in the sacred hymns. Next, there is the belief in "a strange and
powerful race, supposed to have been busy on earth before the making,
or the evolution, or the emergence of man"; this is expressed in
the mythical legends. The Egyptians inherited a number of legends of
extra-natural heroes, not unlike the savage Qat, Cagn, Yehl, Pund-jel,
Ioskeha and Quahteaht, the Maori Tutenganahau and the South Sea
Tangaroa. Some of these were elemental forces, personified in human
or bestial guise; some were merely idealised medicine-men. Their
"wanderings, rapes and manslaughters and mutilations," as Plutarch says,
remained permanently in legend. When these beings, in the advance of
thought, had obtained divine attributes, and when the conception of
abstract divinity, returning, perhaps, to its first form, had become
pure and lofty, the old legends became so many stumbling-blocks to the
faithful. They were explained away as allegories (every student having
his own allegorical system), or the extranatural beings were taken (as
by Plutarch) to be "demons, not gods ".

A brief and summary account of the chief figures in the Egyptian
pantheon will make it sufficiently plain that this is a plausible theory
of the gods of Egypt, and a probable interpretation of their adventures.

Accepting the classification proposed by M. Maspero, and remembering the
limitations under which it holds good, we find that:--

1. The gods of death and the dead were Sokari, Isis and Osiris, the
young Horus and Nephthys.*

2. The elemental gods were Seb and Nut, of whom Seb is the earth and Nut
the heavens. These two, like heaven and earth in almost all mythologies,
are represented as the parents of many of the gods. The other elemental
deities are but obscurely known.

3. Among solar deities are at once recognised Ra and others, but
there was a strong tendency to identify each of the gods with the sun,
especially to identify Osiris with the sun in his nightly absence.**
Each god, again, was apt to be blended with one or more of the sacred
animals. "Ra, in his transformations, assumed the form of the lion, cat
and hawk."*** "The great cat in the alley of persea trees at Heliopolis,
which is Ra, crushed the serpent."****

     * Their special relation to the souls of the departed is
     matter for a separate discussion.

     ** "The gods of the dead and the elemental gods were almost
     all identified with the sun, for the purpose of blending
     them in a theistic unity" (Maspero, _Rev. de l'hist. des
     Rel_., i. 126).

     *** Birch, in Wilkinson, iii. 59.

     ***Le Page Renouf, op. cit., p. 114.

In different nomes and towns, it either happened that the same gods had
different names, or that analogies were recognised between different
local gods; in which case the names were often combined, as in Ammon-Ra,
Sabek-Ra, Sokar-Osiris, and so forth.

Athwart all these classes and compounds of gods, and athwart the
theological attempt at constructing a monotheism out of contradictory
materials, came that ancient idea of dualism which exists in the myths
of the most backward peoples. As Pund-jel in Australia had his enemy,
the crow, as in America Yehl had his Khanukh, as Ioskeha had his
Tawiscara, so the gods of Egypt, and specially Osiris, have their Set or
Typhon, the spirit who constantly resists and destroys.

With these premises we approach the great Osirian myth.


The great Egyptian myth, the myth of Osiris, turns on the antagonism of
Osiris and Set, and the persistence of the blood-feud between Set and
the kindred of Osiris.* To narrate and as far as possible elucidate this
myth is the chief task of the student of Egyptian mythology.

Though the Osiris myth, according to Mr. Le Page Renouf, is "as old as
Egyptian civilisation," and though M. Maspero finds the Osiris myth in
all its details under the first dynasties, our accounts of it are by no
means so early.**

     * Herodotus, ii. 144.

     ** The principal native documents are the Magical Harris
     Papyrus, of the nineteenth or twentieth dynasty, translated
     by M. Chabas (Records of the Past, x. 137); the papyrus of
     Nebseni (eighteenth dynasty), translated by M. Naville, and
     in Records of Past, x. 159; the hymn to Osiris, on a stele
     (eighteenth dynasty) translated by M. Chabas (Rev. Archeol.,
     1857; Records of Past, iv. 99); "The Book of Respirations,"
     mythically said to have been made by Isis to restore Osiris--
     "Book of the Breath of Life" (the papyrus is probably of
     the time of the Ptolemies--Records of Part, iv. 119); "The
     Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys," translated by M. de
     Horrack (Records of Past, ii. 117). There is also "The Book
     of the Dead": the version of M. Pierret, (Paris, 1882) is
     convenient in shape (also Birch, in Bunsen, vol. v.). M. de
     Naville's new edition is elaborate and costly, and without a
     translation. Sarcophagi and royal tombs (Champollion) also
     contain many representations of the incidents in the myth.
     "The myth of Osiris in its details, the laying out of his
     body by his wife Isis and his sister Nephthys, the
     reconstruction of his limbs, his mythical chest, and other
     incidents connected with his myth are represented in detail
     in the temple of Philae" (Birch, ap. Wilkinson, iii. 84).
     The reverent awe of Herodotus prevents him from describing
     the mystery-play on the sufferings of Osiris, which he says
     was acted at Sais, ii. 171, and ii. 61, 67, 86. Probably the
     clearest and most consecutive modern account of the Osiris
     myth is given by M. Lefebure in Les Yeux d'Horus et Osiris.
     M. Lefebure's translations are followed in the text; he is
     not, however, responsible for our treatment of the myth. The
     Ptolemaic version of the temple of Edfou is published by M.
     Naville,  _Mythe d'Horus_ (Geneva, 1870).

They are mainly allusive, without any connected narrative. Fortunately
the narrative, as related by the priests of his own time, is given
by the author of _De Iside et Osiride_, and is confirmed both by the
Egyptian texts and by the mysterious hints of the pious Herodotus. Here
we follow the myth as reported in the Greek tract, and illustrated by
the monuments.

The reader must, for the moment, clear his mind of all the many theories
of the meaning of the myth, and must forget the lofty, divine and
mystical functions attributed by Egyptian theologians and Egyptian
sacred usage to Osiris. He must read the story simply as a story, and he
will be struck with its amazing resemblances to the legends about their
culture-heroes which are current among the lowest races of America and

Seb and Nut--earth and heaven--were husband and wife. In the _De Iside_
version, the sun cursed Nut that she should have no child in month or
year; but thanks to the cleverness of a new divine co-respondent, five
days were added to the calendar. This is clearly a later edition to the
fable. On the first of those days Osiris was born, then Typhon or Set,
"neither in due time, nor in the right place, but breaking through with
a blow, he leaped out from his mother's side".*

     * De Iside et Osiride, xii. It is a most curious coincidence
     that the same story is told of Indra in the Rig- Veda, iv.
     18, 1. "This is the old and well-known path by which all
     the gods were born: thou mayst not, by other means, bring
     thy mother unto death." Indra replies, "I will not go out
     thence, that is a dangerous way: right through the side will
     I burst". Compare (Leland, Algonquin Legends, p. 15) the
     birth of the Algonquin Typhon, the evil Malsumis, the wolf.
     "Glooskap said, 'I will be born as others are'." But the
     evil Malsumis thought himself too great to be brought forth
     in such a manner, and declared that he would burst through
     his mother's side. Mr. Leland's note, containing a Buddhist
     and an Armenian parallel, but referring neither to Indra nor
     Typhon, shows the _bona fides_ of the Algonquin report. The
     Bodhisattva was born through his mother's right side (Kern..
     Der Buddhismus, 30). The Irish version is that our Lord was
     born through the crown of the head of the Virgin, like
     Athene. _Saltair na Rann_, 7529, 7530. Se« also Liebrecht,
     _Zur Volkskunde_, p. 490. For the Irish and Buddhist legends
     (there is an Anglo-Saxon parallel) I am indebted to Mr
     Whitley Stokes. Probably the feeling that a supernatural
     child should have no natural birth, and not the borrowing of
     ideas, accounts for those strange similarities of myth.

Isis and Nephthys were later-born sisters. The Greek version of the myth
next describes the conduct of Osiris as a "culture-hero". He instituted
laws, taught agriculture, instructed the Egyptians in the ritual of
worship, and won them from "their destitute and bestial mode of living".
After civilising Egypt, he travelled over the world, like the Greek
Dionysus, whom he so closely resembles in some portions of his legend
that Herodotus supposed the Dionysiac myth to have been imported from
Egypt.* In the absence of Osiris, his evil brother, Typhon, kept quiet.
But, on the hero's return, Typhon laid an ambush against him, like
Ægisthus against Agamemnon. He had a decorated coffer (mummy-case?) made
of the exact length of Osiris, and offered this as a present to any one
whom it would fit. At a banquet all the guests tried it; but when Osiris
lay down in it, the lid was closed and fastened with nails and melted
lead. The coffer, Osiris and all, was then thrown into the Nile. Isis,
arrayed in mourning robes like the wandering Demeter, sought Osiris
everywhere lamenting, and found the chest at last in an _erica_ tree
that entirely covered it. After an adventure like that of Demeter with
Triptolemus, Isis obtained the chest. During her absence Typhon lighted
on it as he was hunting by moonlight; he tore the corpse of Osiris into
fourteen pieces, and scattered them abroad. Isis sought for the mangled
remnants, and, whenever she found one, buried it, each tomb being
thenceforth recognised as "a grave of Osiris". Precisely the same fable
occurs in Central Australian myths of the Alcheringa, or legendary

     * "Osiris is Dionysus in the tongue of Hellas" (Herodotus,
     ii. 144, ii. 48). "Most of the details of the mystery of
     Osiris, as practised by the Egyptians, resemble the Dionysus
     mysteries of Greece.... Methinks that Melampus, Amythaon's
     son, was well seen in this knowledge, for it was Melampus
     that brought among the Greeks the name and rites and phallic
     procession of Dionysus." (Compare Dels, et Os., xxxv.) The
     coincidences are probably not to be explained by borrowing;
     many of them are found in America.

     ** Spencer and Gillen, p. 399.

The wives "search for the murdered man's mutilated parts". It is a
plausible suggestion that, if graves of Osiris were once as common in
Egypt as cairns of Heitsi Eibib are in Namaqualand to-day, the existence
of many tombs of one being might be explained as tombs of his scattered
members, and the myth of the dismembering may have no other foundation.
On the other hand, it must be noticed that a swine was sacrificed to
Osiris, at the full moon, and it was in the form of a black swine that
Typhon assailed Horus, the son of Osiris, whose myth is a _doublure
or replica_, in some respects, of the Osirian myth itself.1 We may
conjecture, then, that the fourteen portions into which the body of
Osiris was rent may stand for the fourteen days of the waning moon.** It
is well known that the phases of the moon and lunar eclipses are
almost invariably accounted for in savage science by the attacks of a
beast--dog, pig, dragon, or what not--on the heavenly body. Either of
these hypothesis (the Egyptians adopted the latter)*** is consistent
with the character of early myth, but both are merely tentative

     * In the Edfou monuments Set is slain and dismembered in the
     shape of a red hippopotamus (Naville, Mythe d'Horus, p. 7).

     ** The fragments of Osiris were sixteen, according to the
     texts of Deuderah, one for each nome.

     *** De Is. et Os., xxxv.

     **** Compare Lefebure, Les Yeux d'Horus, pp. 47 48.

The phallus of Osiris was not recovered, and the totemistic habit
which made the people of three different districts abstain from three
different fish--_lepidotus, phagrus and oxyrrhyncus_--was accounted for
by the legend that these fish had devoured the missing portion of the
hero's body.

So far the power of evil, the black swine Typhon, had been triumphant.
But the blood-feud was handed on to Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. To
spur Horus on to battle, Osiris returned from the dead, like Hamlet's
father. But, as is usual with the ghosts of savage myth, Osiris
returned, not in human, but in bestial form as a wolf.* Horus was
victorious in the war which followed, and handed Typhon over bound in
chains to Isis. Unluckily Isis let him go free, whereon Horus pushed off
her crown and placed a bull's skull on her head.

There the Greek narrator ends, but** he expressly declines to tell the
more blasphemous parts of the story, such as "the dismemberment of Horus
and the beheading of Isis". Why these myths should be considered "more
blasphemous" than the rest does not appear.

It will probably be admitted that nothing in this sacred story would
seem out of place if we found it in the legends of Pund-jel, or Cagn,
or Yehl, among Australians, Bushmen, or Utes, whose own "culture-hero,"
like the ghost of Osiris, was a wolf. This dismembering of Osiris in
particular resembles the dismembering of many other heroes in American
myth; for example, of Chokanipok, out of whom were made vines and
flint-stones. Objects in the mineral and vegetable world were explained
in Egypt as transformed parts or humours of Osiris, Typhon and other

     * Wicked squires in Shropshire (Miss Burns, Shropshire Folk-
     Lore) "come" as bulls. Osiris, in the Mendes nonie, "came"
     as a ram (Marietta, Denderah, iv. 75).

     ** De Is, et Os., xx.

     ***Magical Text, nineteenth dynasty, translated by Dr. Birch
     Records of Past vi. 115; Lefebure, Osiris, pp. 100,
     113,124, 205; Livre des Morts chap. xvii.; Records of Past,
     x. 84.

Once more, though the Egyptian gods are buried here and are immortal in
heaven, they have also, like the heroes of Eskimos and Australians and
Indians of the Amazon, been transformed into stars, and the priests
could tell which star was Osiris, which was Isis, and which was Typhon.*
Such are the wild inconsistencies which Egyptian religion shares with
the fables of the lowest races. In view of these facts it is difficult
to agree with Brugsch** that "from the root and trunk of a pure
conception of deity spring the boughs and twigs of a tree of myth, whose
leaves spread into a rank impenetrable luxuriance ". Stories like the
Osiris myth--stories found all over the whole world--spring from no pure
religious source, but embody the delusions and fantastic dreams of the
lowest and least developed human fancy and human speculation. And these
flourish, like mistletoe on the oak, over the sturdier growth of a
religious conception of another root.

The references to the myth in papyri and on the monuments, though
obscure and fragmentary, confirm the narrative of the _De Iside_. The
coffer in which Osiris foolishly ventured himself seems to be alluded
to in the Harris magical papyrus.*** "Get made for me a shrine of eight
cubits. Then it was told to thee, O man of seven cubits, How canst thou
enter it? And it had been made for thee, and thou hast reposed in it."

     * Custom and Myth, "Star Myths"; De Rouge, Nouv. Not., p.
     197; Lefebure, Osiris, p. 213.

     ** Religion und Mythologie, p. 99.

     *** Records of Past, x. 154.

Here, too, Isis magically stops the mouths of the Nile, perhaps to
prevent the coffer from floating out to sea. More to the point is one
of the original "Osirian hymns" mentioned by Plutarch.* The hymn is on
a stele, and is attributed by M. Chabas, the translator, to the
seventeenth dynasty.** Osiris is addressed as the joy and glory of his
parents, Seb and Nut, who overcomes his enemy. His sister, Isis, accords
to him due funeral rites after his death and routs his foes. Without
ceasing, without resting, she sought his dead body, and wailing did she
wander round the world, nor stopped till she found him. Light flashed
from her feathers.*** Horus, her son, is king of the world.

Such is a _precis_ of the mythical part of the hymn. The rest regards
Osiris in his religious capacity as a sovereign of nature, and as the
guide and protector of the dead. The hymn corroborates, as far as it
goes, the narrative of the Greek two thousand years later. Similar
confirmation is given by "The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys," a
papyrus found within a statue of Osiris in Thebes. The sisters wail for
the dead hero, and implore him to "come to his own abode". The theory
of the birth of Horus here is that he was formed out of the scattered
members of Osiris, an hypothesis, of course, inconsistent with the other
myths (especially with the myth that he dived for the members of Osiris
in the shape of a crocodile),**** and, therefore, all the more mythical.

     * De Is. et Os., 211.

     ** Rev. Archeol., May, 1857.

     *** The Greek version says that Isis took the form of a

     **** Mariette, Denderah, iv. 77, 88, 89.

The "Book of Respirations," finally, contains the magical songs by which
Isis was feigned to have restored breath and life to Osiris.* In the
representations of the vengeance and triumph of Horus on the temple
walls of Edfou in the Ptolemaic period, Horus, accompanied by Isis,
not only chains up and pierces the red hippopotamus (or pig in some
designs), who is Set, but, exercising reprisals, cuts him into pieces,
as Set cut Osiris. Isis instructs Osiris as to the portion which
properly falls to each of nine gods. Isis reserves his head and
"saddle"; Osiris gets the thigh; the bones are given to the cats. As
each god had his local habitation in a given town, there is doubtless
reference to local myths. At Edfou also the animal of Set is sacrificed,
symbolically in his image made of paste, a common practice in ancient

     * Records of Past, iv. 121.

     ** Herodotus, ii. 47; De. Is. et Os., 90. See also
     Porphyry's Life of Pythagoras, who sacrificed a bull made of
     paste, Liebrecht, Zur Volkskunde, p. 436.

Many of these myths, as M. Naville remarks, are doubtless ratiological:
the priests, as in the Brahmanas, told them to account for peculiar
parts of the ritual, and to explain strange local names. Thus the
names of many places are explained by myths setting forth that they
commemorate some event in the campaign of Horus against Set. In
precisely the same way the local superstitions, originally totemic,
about various animals were explained by myths attaching these animals to
the legends of the gods.

Explanations of the Osiris myth thus handed down to us were common
among the ancient students of religion. Many of them are reported in the
familiar tract De Iside et Osiride. They are all the interpretations of
civilised men, whose method is to ask themselves, "Now, if _I_ had
told such a tale as this, or invented such a mystery-play of divine
misadventures, what meaning could _I_ have intended to convey in what
is apparently blasphemous nonsense?" There were moral, solar, lunar,
cosmical, tellurian, and other methods of accounting for a myth which,
in its origin, appears to be one of the world-wide early legends of the
strife between a fabulous good being and his brother, a fabulous evil
being. Most probably some incidents from a moon-myth have also crept
into, or from the first made part of, the tale of Osiris. The enmity
of Typhon to the eyes of Horus, which he extinguishes, and which are
restored,* has much the air of an early mythical attempt to explain the
phenomena of eclipses, or even of sunset. We can plainly see how local
and tribal superstitions, according to which this or that beast, fish,
or tree was held sacred, came to be tagged to the general body of the
myth. This or that fish was not eaten; this or that tree was holy; and
men who had lost the true explanation of these superstitions explained
them by saying that the fish had tasted, or the tree had sheltered.

     * Livre des Moris, pp. 112, 118.

This view of the myth, while it does not pretend to account for every
detail, refers it to a large class of similar narratives, to
the barbarous dualistic legends about the original good and bad
extra-natural beings, which are still found current among contemporary
savages. These tales are the natural expression of the savage fancy, and
we presume that the myth of the mutilated Osiris survived in Egypt, just
as the use of flint-headed arrows and flint knives survived during
millenniums in which bronze and iron were perfectly familiar. The cause
assigned is adequate, and the process of survival is verified.

Whether this be the correct theory of the fundamental facts of the
myth or not, it is certain that the myth received vast practical and
religious developments. Orisis did not remain the mere culture-hero
of whom we have read the story, wounded in the house of his friends,
dismembered, restored and buried, reappearing as a wolf or bull, or
translated to a star. His worship pervaded the whole of Egypt, and his
name grew into a kind of hieroglyph for all that is divine.

"The Osirian type, in its long evolution, ended in being the symbol of
the whole deified universe--underworld and world of earth, the waters
above and the waters below. It is Osiris that floods Egypt in the Nile,
and that clothes her with the growing grain. His are the sacred eyes,
the sun that is born daily and meets a daily death, the moon that every
month is young and waxes old. Osiris is the soul that animates these,
the soul that vivifies all things, and all things are but his body. He
is, like Ra of the royal tombs, the earth and the sun, the creator and
the created."*

     * Lefebure, Osiris, p. 248.

Such is the splendid sacred vestment which Egyptian theology wove for
the mangled and massacred hero of the myth. All forces, all powers, were
finally recognised in him; he was sun and moon, and the maker of all
things; he was the truth and the life; in him all men were justified.

On the origin of the myth philology throws no light. M. Lefebure
recognises in the name Osiris the meaning of "the infernal abode," or
"the nocturnal residence of the sacred eye," for, in the duel of Set
and Horus, he sees a mythical account of the daily setting of the sun.*
"Osiris himself, the sun at his setting, became a centre round which the
other incidents of the war of the gods gradually crystallised." Osiris
is also the earth. It would be difficult either to prove or disprove
this contention, and the usual divergency of opinion as to the meaning
and etymology of the word "Osiris" has always prevailed.** The Greek***
identifies Osiris with Hades. "Both," says M. Lefebure, "originally
meant the dwellings--and came to mean the god--of the dead." In the
same spirit Anubis, the jackal (a beast still dreaded as a ghost by the
Egyptians), is explained as "the circle of the horizon," or "the portals
of the land of darkness," the gate kept, as Homer would say, by Hades,
the mighty warden. Whether it is more natural that men should represent
the circle of the horizon or the twilight at sunset as a jackal, or that
a jackal-totem should survive as a god, mythologists will decide for

     * Osiris, p. 129.   So Lieblein, op. cit., p. 7.

     ** See the guesses of etymologists (Osiris, pp. 132,133).
     Horus has even been connected with the Greek Hera, as the

     *** De Is. Os., 75.

     **** Le Page Renouf, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 112-114, 237.

The jackal, by a myth that cannot be called pious, was said to have
eaten his father, Osiris. Mr. Frazers theory of Osiris as somehow
connected with vegetation will be found in his _Golden Bough_. His
master, Mannhardt, the great writer on vegetation myths, held that
Osiris was the sun.

The conclusions to be drawn from so slight a treatment of so vast a
subject are, that in Egypt, as elsewhere, a mythical and a religious, a
rational and an irrational stream of thought flowed together, and even
to some extent mingled their waters. The rational tendency, declared in
prayers and hymns, amplifies the early human belief in a protecting
and friendly personal power making for righteousness. The irrational
tendency, declared in myth and ritual, retains and elaborates the
early human confusions of thought between man and beast and god, things
animate and inanimate. On the one hand, we have almost a recognition
of supreme divinity; on the other, savage rites and beliefs, shared by
Australians and Bushmen. It is not safe or scientific to call one of
those tendencies earlier than the other; perhaps we know no race so
backward that it is not influenced by forms of both. Nor is it safe
or scientific to look on ruder practices as corruptions of the purer
beliefs. Perhaps it may never be possible to trace both streams to the
same fountain-head; probably they well up from separate springs in the
nature of man. We do but recognise and contrast them; the sources of
both are lost in the distance, where history can find no record of
actual experience. Egyptian religion and myth are thus no isolated
things; they are but the common stuff of human thought, decorated or
distorted under a hundred influences in the course of unknown centuries
of years.


     Difficulties of the study--Development of clan-gods--
     Departmental gods-Divine patronage of morality--Immorality
     mythically attributed to gods--Indra--His love of Soma--
     Scandal about Indra--Attempts to explain Indra as an
     elemental god--Varuna--Ushas--The Asvins--Their legend and
     theories about it--Tvashtri--The Maruts--Conclusions arrived

Nothing in all mythology is more difficult than the attempt to get
a clear view of the gods of Vedic India. The perplexed nature of the
evidence has already been explained, and may be briefly recapitulated.
The obscure documents on which we have to rely, the Vedas and the
Brahmanaa, contain in solution the opinions of many different ages and
of many different minds. Old and comparatively modern conceptions of the
deities, pious efforts to veil or to explain away what seemed crude
or profane, the puerilities of ritual, half-conscious strivings in the
direction of monotheism or pantheism, clan or family prejudices, rough
etymological guesses, and many other elements of doubt combine to
confuse what can never have been clear. Savage legends, philosophic
conjectures, individual predilections are all blended into the
collection of hymns called the _Rig- Veda_. Who can bring order into
such a chaos?

An attempt to unravel the tangled threads of Indian faith must be made.
The gods of the Vedas are, on the whole, of the usual polytheistic type,
though their forms mix into each other like shadows cast by a flickering
fire. The ideas which may be gathered about them from the ancient hymns
have, as usual, no consistency and no strict orthodoxy. As each bard
of each bardic family celebrates a god, he is apt to make him for the
occasion the pre-eminent deity of all.* This way of conceiving of
the gods leads naturally (as thought advances) in the direction of a
pantheistic monotheism, a hospitable theology which accepts each divine
being as a form or manifestation of the supreme universal spirit. It
is easy, however, to detect certain attributes more or less peculiar to
each god. As among races far less forward in civilisation, each of
the greater powers has his own special department, however much his
worshippers may be inclined to regard him as really supreme sovereign.
Thus Indra is mainly concerned with thunder and other atmospheric
phenomena: these are his department; but Vayu is the wind or the god
of the wind, and Agni as fire or the god of fire is necessarily not
unconnected with the lightning. The Maruts, again, are the storm-winds,
or gods of the storm-winds; Mitra and Varuna preside over day and night;
Ushas is the dawn or the goddess of dawn, and Tvashtri is the mechanic
among the deities, corresponding more or less closely to the Greek

     * Muir, v. 125. Compare Muir, i. 348, on the word _Kusikas_,
     implying, according to Benfey, that Indra "is designated as
     the sole or chief deity of this tribe ".    Cf, also Hang,
     Ait. Br., ii. 384.

Though many of these beings are still in Vedic poetry departmental
powers with provinces of their own in external Nature, they are also
supposed to be interested not only in the worldly, but in the moral
welfare of mankind, and are imagined to "make for righteousness ". It is
true that the myths by no means always agree in representing the gods as
themselves moral. Incest and other hideous offences are imputed to them,
and it is common to explain these myths as the result of the forgotten
meanings of sayings which originally were only intended to describe
processes of nature, especially of the atmosphere. Supposing, for the
sake of argument, that this explanation is correct, we can scarcely
be expected to think highly of the national taste which preferred
to describe pure phenomena like dawn and sunset in language which is
appropriate to the worst crimes in the human calendar. It is certain
that the Indians, when they came to reflect and philosophise on their
own religion (and they had reached this point before the Veda was
compiled), were themselves horrified by the immoralities of some of
their gods. Yet in Vedic times these gods were already acknowledged
as beings endowed with strong moral attributes and interested in the
conduct of men. As an example of this high ethical view, we may quote
Mr. Max Muller's translation of part of a hymn addressed to Varuna.*

     * Rig-Veda, ii. 28; _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 284.

"Take from me my sin like a fetter, and we shall increase, O Varuna, the
spring of thy law. Let not the thread be cut while I weave my song! Let
not the form of the workman break before the time.... Like as a rope
from a calf, remove from me my sin, for away from thee I am not
master even of the twinkling of an eye.... Move far away from me all
self-committed guilt, and may I not, O king, suffer for what others have
committed. Many dawns have not yet dawned; grant me to live in them, O
Varuna." What follows is not on the same level of thought, and the
next verse contains an appeal to Varuna to save his worshipper from the
effect of magic spells. "Whether it be my companion or a friend who,
while I was asleep and trembling, uttered fearful spells against me,
whether it be a thief or a wolf who wishes to hurt me, protect us
against them, O Varuna."* Agni, again, the god of fire, seems to have
no original connection with righteousness. Yet even Agni** is prayed to
forgive whatever sin the worshipper may have committed through folly,
and to make him guiltless towards Aditi.*** The goddess Aditi once more,
whether her name (rendered the "boundless") be or be not "one of
the oldest names of the dawn,"**** is repeatedly called on by her
worshippers to "make them sinless". In the same way sun, dawn, heaven,
soma, and earth are implored to pardon sin.

     * An opposite view is expressed in Weber's Hist, of Sansk.

     **  Rig- Veda, iv. 12, 4; viii. 93, 7.

     *** For divergent opinions about Aditi, compare _Revue de
     l'Histoire des Religions_, xii. 1, pp. 40-42; Muir, v. 218.

     **** Max Müller, _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 228.

Though the subject might be dwelt on at very great length, it is perhaps
already apparent that the gods of the Vedic poetry are not only potent
over regions of the natural world, but are also conceived of, at times,
as being powers with ethical tendencies and punishers of mortal guilt.
It would be difficult to overstate the ethical nobility of certain Vedic
hymns, which even now affect us with a sense of the "hunger and thirst
after righteousness" so passionately felt by the Hebrew psalmists. How
this emotion, which seems naturally directed to a single god, came to be
distributed among a score, it is hard to conjecture. But all this aspect
of the Vedic deities is essentially the province of the science of
religion rather than of mythology. Man's consciousness of sin, his sense
of being imperfect in the sight of "larger other eyes than ours," is
a topic of the deepest interest, but it comes but by accident into the
realm of mythological science. That science asks, not with what feelings
of awe and gratitude the worshipper approaches his gods, but what myths,
what stories, are told to or told by the worshipper concerning the
origin, personal characteristics and personal adventures of his deities.
As a rule, these stories are a mere _chronique scandaleuse_, full of the
most absurd and offensive anecdotes, and of the crudest fictions. The
deities of the Vedic poems, so imposing when regarded as vast natural
forces, or as the spiritual beings that master vast natural forces, so
sympathetic when looked on as merciful gods conscious of, yet lenient
towards, the sins of perishing mortals, have also their mythological
aspect and their _chronique scandaleuse_.*

     * Here we must remind the reader that the Vedas do not offer
     us all these tales, nor the worst of them. As M. Barth says,
     "Le sentiment religieux a ecarte la plupart de ces mythes
     ainsi que beaucoup d'autres qui le choquaient, mais il ne
     les a pas ecartes tous" (_Religions de l'Inde_,  p.  14).

It is, of course, in their anthropomorphic aspect that the Vedic deities
share or exceed the infirmities of mortals. The gods are not by any
means always regarded as practically equal in supremacy. There were
great and small, young and old gods,* though this statement, with the
habitual inconsistency of a religion without creeds and articles, is
elsewhere controverted. "None of you, O gods, is small or young; you are
all great."** As to the immortality and the origin of the gods,
opinions are equally divided among the Vedic poets and in the traditions
collected in the Brahmanas. Several myths of the origin of the gods have
already been discussed in the chapter on "Aryan Myths of the Creation of
the World and of Man". It was there demonstrated that many of the Aryan
myths were on a level with those current among contemporary savages all
over the world, and it was inferred that they originally sprang from the
same source, the savage imagination.

In this place, while examining the wilder divine myths, we need only
repeat that, in one legend, heaven and earth, conceived of as two
sentient living beings of human parts and passions, produced the Aryan
gods, as they did the gods of the New Zealanders and of other races.
Again, the gods were represented in the children of Aditi, and this
might be taken either in a high and refined sense, as if Aditi were the
infinite region from which the solar deities rise,*** or we may hold
that Aditi is the eternal which sustains and is sustained by the
gods,**** or the Indian imagination could sink to the vulgar and
half-magical conception of Aditi as a female, who, being desirous of
sons, cooked a Brahmandana oblation for the gods, the Sadhyas.*****

     * Rig-Veda, i. 27,13.

     ** Ibid., viii. 30; Muir, v. 12.

     *** Max Müller, _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 230.

     **** Roth, in Muir, iv. 56.

     ***** _Taittirya Brahmana_, i. 1, 9, 1; Muir, v. 55, 1, 27.

Various other gods and supernatural beings are credited with having
created or generated the gods. Indra's father and mother are constantly
spoken of, and both he and other gods are often said to have been
originally mortal, and to have reached the heavens by dint of that
"austere fervour," that magical asceticism, which could do much more
than move mountains. The gods are thus by no means always credited
in Aryan mythology with inherent immortality. Like most of the other
deities whose history we have been studying, they had struggles for
pre-eminence with powers of a titanic character, the Asuras. "Asura,
'living,' was originally an epithet of certain powers of Nature,
particularly of the sky," says Mr. Max Müller.** As the gods also are
recognised as powers of Nature, particularly of the sky, there does not
seem to be much original difference between Devas and Asuras.*** The
opposition between them may be "secondary," as Mr. Max Müller says, but
in any case it too strongly resembles the other wars in heaven of other
mythologies to be quite omitted. Unluckily, the most consecutive account
of the strife is to be found, not in the hymns of the Vedas, but in
the collected body of mythical and other traditions called the

     ** Hibbert Lectures, p. 318.

     *** In the _Atharva Veda_ it is said that a female Asura
     once drew Indra from among the gods (Muir, v. 82). Thus gods
     and Asuras are capable of amorous relations.

     **** _Satapatha Br_.

The story in the Brahmana begins by saying that throughout. See the
Oxford translation. Prajapati (the producer of things, whose acquaintance
we have made in the chapter on cosmogonic myths) was half mortal and
half immortal. After creating things endowed with life, he created
Death, the devourer. With that part of him which was mortal he was
afraid of Death, and the gods were also "afraid of this ender, Death".
The gods in this tradition are regarded as mortals. Compare the _Black
Yajur Veda_:* "_The gods were formerly just like men_. They desired to
overcome want, misery, death, and to go to the divine assembly.
They saw, took and sacrificed with this Chaturvimsatiratra, and in
consequence overcame want, misery and death, and reached the divine
assembly." In the same Veda we are told that the gods and Asuras
contended together; the gods were less numerous, but, as politicians
make men peers, they added to their number by placing some bricks in
the proper position to receive the sacrificial fire. They then used
incantations: "Thou art a multiplier"; and so the bricks became
animated, and joined the party of the gods, and made numbers more

     * _Taittirya Sanhita_; Muir, v. 15, note 22.

     ** According to a later legend, or a legend which we have
     received in a later form, the gods derived immortality from
     drinking of the churned ocean of milk. They churned it with
     Mount Mandara for a staff and the serpent Hasuki for a cord.
     The _Ramayana and Mahabharata_ ascribe this churning to the
     desire of the gods to become immortal. According to the
     _Mahabharata_, a Daitya named Rahu insinuated himself among
     the gods, and drank some of the draught of immortality.
     Vishnu beheaded him before the draught reached lower than
     his throat; his _head_ was thus immortal, and is now a
     constellation. He pursues the sun and moon, who had spied
     him among the gods, and causes their eclipses by his
     ferocity. All this is on a level with Australian mythology.

To return to the gods in the _Satapatha Brahmana_ and their dread of
death. They overcame him by certain sacrifices suggested by Prajapati.
Death resented this, and complained that men would now become immortal
and his occupation would be gone. To console him the gods promised that
no man in future should become immortal with his body, but only through
knowledge after parting with his body. This legend, at least in its
present form, is necessarily later than the establishment of minute
sacrificial rules. It is only quoted here as an example of the opinion
that the gods were once mortal and "just like men". It may be urged,
and probably with truth, that this belief is the figment of religious
decadence. As to the victory of the gods over the Asuras, that is
ascribed by the _Satapatha Brahmana_* to the fact that, at a time when
neither gods nor Asuras were scrupulously veracious, the gods invented
the idea of speaking the truth. The Asuras stuck to lying. The first
results not unnaturally were that the gods became weak and poor, the
Asuras mighty and rich. The gods at last overcame the Asuras, not by
veracity, but by the success of a magical sacrifice. Earlier
dynasties of gods, to which the generation of Indra succeeded, are not
unfrequently mentioned in the _Rig- Veda_.**

     * Muir, iv. 6a.

     ** Ibid., v. 16.

On the whole, the accounts of the gods and of their nature present in
Aryan mythology the inconsistent anthropomorphism, and the mixture of
incongruous and often magical and childish ideas, which mark all other
mythological systems. This will become still more manifest when we
examine the legends of the various gods separately, as they have been
disentangled by Dr. Muir and M. Bergaigne from the Vedas, and from the
later documents which contain traditions of different dates.

The Vedas contain no such orderly statements of the divine genealogies
as we find in Hesoid and Homer. All is confusion, all is contradiction.*
In many passages heaven and earth, Dyaus and Prithivi, are spoken of
as parents of the other gods. Dyaus is commonly identified, as is well
known, with Zeus by the philologists, but his legend has none of the
fulness and richness which makes that of Zeus so remarkable. Before the
story of Dyaus could become that of Zeus, the old Aryan sky or heaven
god had to attract into his cycle that vast collection of miscellaneous
adventures from a thousand sources which fill the legend of the chief
Hellenic deity. In the Veda, Dyaus appears now, as with Prithivi,**
the parent of all, both men and gods, now as a created thing or being
fashioned by Indra or by Tvashtri.*** He is "essentially beneficent,
but has no marked individuality, and can only have become the Greek Zeus
by inheriting attributes from other deities ".****

Another very early divine person is Aditi, the mother of the great
and popular gods called Adityas. "Nothing is less certain than the
derivation of the name of Aditi," says M. Paul Regnaud.*****

     * Certain myths of the beginnings of things will be found in
     the chapter on cosmogonic traditions.

     ** Muir, v. 21-24.

     *** Ibid., v. 30.

     **** Bergaigne, iii. 112.

     ***** _Revue de l'Histoire des Religions_, xii. 1, 40.

M. Regnaud finds the root of Aditi in _ad_, to shine. Mr. Max Müller
looks for the origin of the word in _a_, privative, and _da_, to bind;
thus Aditi will mean "the boundless," the "infinite," a theory rejected
by M. Regnaud. The expansion of this idea, with all its important
consequences, is worked out by Mr. Max Müller in his _Hibbert Lectures_.
"The dawn came and went, but there remained always behind the dawn that
heaving sea of light or fire from which she springs. Was not this the
invisible infinite? And what better name could be given than that which
the Vedic poets gave to it, Aditi, the boundless, the yonder, the beyond
all and everything." This very abstract idea "may have been one of
the earliest intuitions and creations of the Hindu mind" (p. 229). M.
Darmesteter and Mr. Whitney, on the other hand, explain Aditi just as
Welcker and Mr. Max Müller explain Cronion. There was no such thing as
a goddess named Aditi till men asked themselves the meaning of the
title of their own gods, "the Adityas". That name might be interpreted
"children of Aditi," and so a goddess called Aditi was invented to fit
the name, thus philologically extracted from Adityas.*

M. Bergaigne** finds that Aditi means "free," "untrammelled," and is
used both as an adjective and as a name.

     * The Brahmanic legend of the birth of the Adityas (Aitareya
     Brahmana iii. 33) is too disgusting to be quoted.

     ** _Religion Vedique_, iii. 88.

This vague and floating term was well suited to convey the pantheistic
ideas natural to the Indian mind, and already notable in the Vedic
hymns. "Aditi," cries a poet, "is heaven; Aditi is air; Aditi is the
father, the mother and the son; Aditi is all the gods; Aditi is that
which is born and which awaits the birth."* Nothing can be more advanced
and metaphysical. Meanwhile, though Aditi is a personage so floating
and nebulous, she figures in fairly definite form in a certain myth. The
_Rig-Veda_ (x. 72, 8) tells us the tale of the birth of her sons, the
Adityas. "Eight sons were there of Aditi, born of her womb. To the gods
went she with seven; Martanda threw she away." The _Satapatha Brahmana_
throws a good deal of light on her conduct. Aditi had eight sons; but
there are only seven gods whom men call Adityas. The eighth she bore a
shapeless lump, of the dimensions of a man, as broad as long, say some.
The Adityas then trimmed this ugly duckling of the family into human
shape, and an elephant sprang from the waste pieces which they threw
away; therefore an elephant partakes of the nature of man. The shapen
eighth son was called Vivasvat, the sun.**

     * Rig- Veda, i. 89, 10.

     ** Muir, iv. 15.

It is not to be expected that many, if any, remains of a theriomorphic
character should cling to a goddess so abstract as Aditi. When,
therefore, we find her spoken of as a cow, it is at least as likely that
this is only part of "the pleasant unconscious poetry" of the Veda,
as that it is a survival of some earlier zoomorphic belief. Gubernatis
offers the following lucid account of the metamorphosis of the infinite
(for so he understands Aditi) into the humble domestic animal: "The
inexhaustible soon comes to mean that which can be milked without end"
(it would be more plausible to say that what can be milked without end
soon comes to mean the inexhaustible), "and hence also a celestial cow,
an inoffensive cow, which we must not offend.... The whole heavens being
thus represented as an infinite cow, it was natural that the principal
and most visible phenomena of the sky should become, in their turn,
children of the cow." Aditi then is "the great spotted cow". Thus did
the Vedic poets (according to Gubernatis) descend from the unconditioned
to the byre.

From Aditi, however she is to be interpreted, we turn to her famous
children, the Adityas, the high gods.

There is no kind of consistency, as we have so often said, in Vedic
mythical opinion. The Adityas, for example, are now represented as
three, now as seven; for three and seven are sacred numbers. To the
triad a fourth is sometimes added, to the seven an eighth Aditya. The
Adityas are a brotherhood or college of gods, but some of the members
of the fraternity have more individual character than, for example, the
Maruts, who are simply a company with a tendency to become confused
with the Adityas. Considered as a triad, the Adityas are Varuna, Mitra,
Aryaman. The name of Varuna is commonly derived from vri (or Var),* to
cover, according to the commentator Sayana, because "he envelops the
wicked in his snares," the nets which he carries to capture the guilty.
As god of the midnight sky, Varuna is also "the covering" deity, with
his universal pall of darkness. Varuna's name has frequently been
compared to that of Uranus (------), the Greek god of heaven, who was
mutilated by his son Cronos.

     * Max Müller, Select Essays, i. 871.

Supposing Varuna to mean the heaven, we are not much advanced, for _dyu_
also lias the same meaning; yet Dyaus and Varuna have little in common.
The interpreters of the Vedas attempted to distinguish Mitra from Varuna
by making the former the god of the daylight, the latter the god of the
midnight vault of heaven. The distinction, like other Vedic attempts at
drawing a line among the floating phantasms of belief, is not kept up
with much persistency.

Of all Vedic deities, Varuna has the most spiritual and ethical
character. "The grandest cosmical functions are ascribed to Varuna."
"His ordinances are fixed and unassailable." "He who should flee far
beyond the sky would not escape Varuna the king." He is "gracious even
to him who has committed sin". To be brief, the moral sentiments, which
we have shown to be often present in a pure form, even in the religion
of savages, find a lofty and passionate expression in the Vedic psalms
to Varuna.* But even Varuna has not shaken off all remains of the ruder
mythopoeic fancy. A tale of the grossest and most material obscenity
is told of Mitra and Varuna in the _Rig- Veda_ itself--the tale of the
birth of Vasistha.**

In the Aitareya Brahmana (ii. 460) Varuna takes a sufficiently personal
form. He has somehow fallen heir to a role familiar to us from the
Russian tale of _Tsar Morskoi_, the Gaelic "Battle of the Birds," and
the Scotch "Nicht, Nought, nothing"*** Varuna, in short, becomes the
giant or demon who demands from the king the gift of his yet unborn son.

     * Muir, v. 66.

     ** Rig. Veda, vii. 33, 2.

     *** See Custom, and Myth, "A Far-Travelled Tale," and our
     chapter postea, on "Romantic Myths".

Harischandra is childless, and is instructed to pray to Varuna,
promising to offer the babe as a human sacrifice. When the boy is born,
Harischandra tries to evade the fulfilment of his promise. Finally
a young Brahman is purchased, and is to be sacrificed to Varuna as
a substitute for the king's son. The young Brahman is supernaturally

Thus even in Vedic, still more in Brahmanic myth, the vague and
spiritual form of Varuna is brought to shame, or confused with some
demon of lower earlier legends.

There are believed on somewhat shadowy evidence to be traces of a
conflict between Varuna and Indra (the fourth Aditya sometimes added to
the triad), a conflict analogous to that between Uranus and Cronos.*
The hymn, as M. Bergaigne holds, proves that Indra was victorious over
Varuna, and thereby obtained possession of fire and of the soma juice.
But these births and battles of gods, who sometimes are progenitors of
their own fathers, and who seem to change shapes with demons, are no
more to be fixed and scientifically examined than the torn plumes and
standards of the mist as they roll up a pass among the mountain pines.**

     * Rig- Veda, x. 124.

     ** Bergaigne, iii. 147.

We next approach a somewhat better defined and more personal figure,
that of the famous god Indra, who is the nearest Vedic analogue of the
Greek Zeus. Before dealing with the subject more systematically, it may
be interesting to give one singular example of the parallelisms between
Aryan and savage mythology.

In his disquisition on the Indian gods, Dr. Muir has been observing*
that some passages of the _Rig- Veda_ imply that the reigning deities
were successors of others who had previously existed. He quotes, in
proof of this, a passage from _Rig- Veda_, iv. 18, 12: "Who, O Indra,
made thy mother a widow? Who sought to kill thee, lying or moving? What
god was present in the fray when thou didst slay thy father, seizing
him by the foot?" According to M. Bergaigne,** Indra slew his father,
Tvashtri, for the purpose of stealing and drinking the soma, to which he
was very partial. This is rather a damaging passage, as it appears that
the Vedic poet looked on Indra as a parricide and a drunkard. To explain
this hint, however, Sayana the ancient commentator, quotes a passage
from the _Black Yajur Veda_ which is no explanation at all. But it has
some interest for us, as showing how the myths of Aryans and Hottentots
coincide, even in very strange details. Yajna (sacrifice) desired
Dakshina (largesse). He consorted with her. Indra was apprehensive of
this. He reflected, "Whoever is born of her will be this". He entered
into her. Indra himself was born of her. He reflected, "Whoever is born
of her besides me will be this". Having considered, he cut open her
womb. She produced a cow. Here we have a high Aryan god passing into and
being born from the womb of a being who also bore a cow. The Hottentot
legend of the birth of their god, Heitsi Eibib, is scarcely so

     * _Sanskrit Texts_, v. 16,17.

     ** _Religion Vedique_, iii. 99.

     *** _Tsuni Goam_, Hahn, p.

"There was grass growing, and a cow came and ate of that grass, and she
became pregnant" (as Hera of Ares in Greek myth), "and she brought forth
a young bull. And this bull became a very large bull." And the people
came together one day in order to slaughter him. But he ran away down
hill, and they followed him to turn him back and catch him. But when
they came to the spot where he had disappeared, they found a man making
milk tubs. They asked this man, "Where is the bull that passed down
here?" He said, "I do not know; has he then passed here?" And all the
while it was he himself, who had again become Heitsi Eibib. Thus
the birth of Heitsi Eibib resembled that of Indra as described in
_Rig-Veda_, iv. 18, 10. "His mother, a cow, bore Indra, an unlicked
calf."* Whatever view we may take of this myth, and of the explanation
in the Brahmana, which has rather the air of being an invention to
account for the Vedic cow-mother of Indra, it is certain that the god is
not regarded as an uncreated being.**

* Ludwig, _Die farse hat den groszen, starken, nicht zu venoundenden
stier, den tosenden Indra, geboren_.

** As to the etymological derivation and original significance of the
name of Indra, the greatest differences exist among philologists. Yaska
gives thirteen guesses of old, and there are nearly as many modern
conjectures. In 1846 Roth described Indra as the god of "the bright
clear vault of heaven" (Zeller's _Theologisches Jahrbuch_, 1846, p.
352). Compare for this and the following conjectures, E. D. Perry,
_Journal of American Oriental Society_, vol. i. p. 118. Roth derived
the "radiance" from _idh, indh_, to kindle. Roth afterwards changed his
mind, and selected _in_ or _inv_, to have power over. Lassen (_Indisclie
Allerthumskunde_, 2nd ed., i. p. 893) adopted a different derivation.
Benfey (Or. und Occ, 1862, p. 48) made Indra God, not of the radiant,
but of the rainy sky. Mr. Max Müller (lectures on Science of Language,
ii. 470) made Indra "another conception of the bright blue sky," but (p.
473, note 35) he derives Indra from the same root as in Sanskrit gives
indu, drop or sap, that is, apparently, rainy sky, the reverse of blue.
It means originally "the giver of rain," and Beufey is quoted ut supra.
In Chips, ii. 91, Indra becomes "the chief solar deity of India ". Muir
(Texts, v. 77) identifies the character of Indra with that of Jupiter
Pluvius, the Rainy Jove of Rome. Grassman (Dictionary, s. v.) calls
Indra "the god of the bright firmament". Mr. Perry takes a distinction,
and regards Indra as a god, not of sky, but of air, a midgarth between
earth and sky, who inherited the skyey functions of Dyu. In the Veda Mr.
Perry finds him "the personification of the thunderstorm". And so on! It
seems incontestable that in Vedic mythology Tvashtri is regarded as the
father of Indra.* Thus (ii. 17, 6) Indra's thunderbolts are said to have
been fashioned by his father. Other proofs are found in the account of
the combat between father and son. Thus (iii. 48, 4) we read, "Powerful,
victorious, _he gives his body what shape he pleases_. Thus Indra,
having vanquished Tvashtri even at his birth, stole and drank the
soma."** These anecdotes do not quite correspond with the version of
Indra's guilt given in the Brahmanas. There it is stated*** that
Tvashtri had a three-headed son akin to the Asuras, named Vairupa. This
Vairupa was suspected of betraying to the Asuras the secret of soma.
Indra therefore cut off his three heads.

     * On the parentage of Indra, Bergaigne writes, iii. 58.

     ** iii. 61. Bergaigne identifies Tvashtri and Vritra.
     Cf. Aitareya Brahmana, ii. 483, note 5.

     *** Aitareya Brahmana, it 483, note 6.

Now Vairupa was a Brahman, and Indra was only purified of his awful
guilt, Brahmanicide, when earth, trees and women accepted each their
share of the iniquity. Tvashtri, the father of Vairupa, still excluded
Indra from a share of the soma, which, however, Indra seized by force.
Tvashtri threw what remained of Indra's share into the fire with
imprecations, and from the fire sprang Vritra, the enemy of Indra. Indra
is represented at various times and in various texts as having sprung
from the mouth of Purusha, or as being a child of heaven and earth, whom
he thrust asunder, as Tutenganahau thrust asunder Rangi and Papa in the
New Zealand myth. In a passage of the _Black Yajur Veda_, once already
quoted, Indra, sheep and the Kshattriya caste were said to have sprung
from the breast and arms of Prajapati.* In yet another hymn in the _Rig-
Veda_ he is said to have conquered heaven by magical austerity. Leaving
the Brahmanas aside, Mr. Perry** distinguishes four sorts of Vedic texts
on the origin of Indra:--

1. Purely physical.

2. Anthropomorphic.

3. Vague references to Indra's parents.

4. Philosophical speculations.

Of the first class,*** it does not appear to us that the purely physical
element is so very pure after all. Heaven, earth, Indra, "the cow," are
all thought of as _personal_ entities, however gigantic and vague.

In the second or anthropomorphic myths we have**** the dialogue
already referred to, in which Indra, like Set in Egypt and Malsumis or
Chokanipok in America, insists on breaking his way through his mother's

     * Muir, i. 16.

     ** Op. cit., p. 124.

     *** Rig- Veda, iv. 17, 4,  2, 12; iv. 22, 4; i. 63, 1; viii.
     59, 4; viii. 6, 28-30.

     **** Ibid., iv. 18,1.

     ***** Cf. "Egyptian Divine Myths"

In verse 5 his mother exposes Indra, as Maui and the youngest son of
Aditi were exposed. Indra soon after, as precocious as Heitsi Eibib,
immediately on his birth kills his father.* He also kills Vritra, as
Apollo when new-born slew the Python. In iii. 48, 2, 3, he takes early
to soma-drinking. In x. 153, 1, women cradle him as the nymphs nursed
Zeus in the Cretan cave.

In the third class we have the odd myth,** "while an immature boy, he
mounted the new waggon and roasted for father and mother a fierce bull

In the fourth class a speculative person tries to account for the
statement that Indra was born from a horse, "or the verse means that
Agni was a horse's son". Finally, Sayana**** explains nothing, but
happens to mention that the goddess Aditi _swallowed_ her rival Nisti,
a very primitive performance, and much like the feat of Cronos when he
dined on his family, or of Zeus when he swallowed his wife.

     * Why do Indra and his family behave in this bloodthirsty
     way? Hillebrandt says that the father is the heaven which
     Indra "kills" by covering it with clouds. But, again, Indra
     kills his father by concealing the sun. He is abandoned by
     his mother when the clear sky, from which he is born,
     disappears behind the veil of cloud. Is the father sun or
     heaven? is the mother clear sky, or, as elsewhere, the
     imperishability of the daylight? (Perry, op. cit., p. 149).

     ** Rig- Veda, viii. 68, 15.

     *** Ibid., x. 73, 10.

     ****  Ibid., x. 101, 12. For Sayana, see Mr. Perry's Essay,
     Journal A. 0. S. 1882, p. 180.

Thus a fixed tradition of Indra's birth is lacking in the Veda, and
the fluctuating traditions are not very creditable to the purity of the
Aryan fancy. In personal appearance Indra was handsome and ruddy as
the sun, but, like Odin and Heitsi Eibib and other gods and wizards, he
could assume any shape at will. He was a great charioteer, and wielded
the thunderbolt forged for him by Tvashtri, the Indian Hephaestus. His
love of the intoxicating soma juice was notorious, and with sacrifices
of this liquor his adorers were accustomed to inspire and invigorate
him. He is even said to have drunk at one draught thirty bowls of soma.
Dr. Haug has tasted it, but could only manage one teaspoonful. Indra's
belly is compared by his admirers to a lake, and there seems to be no
doubt that they believed the god really drank their soma, as Heitsi
Eibib really enjoys the honey left by the Hottentots on his grave. "I
have verily resolved to bestow cows and horses. I have quaffed the
soma. The draughts which I have drunk impel me as violent blasts. I have
quaffed the soma. I surpass in greatness the heaven and the vast earth.
I have quaffed the soma. I am majestic, elevated to the heavens. I
have quaffed the soma."* So sings the drunken and bemused Indra, in
the manner of the Cyclops in Euripides, after receiving the wine, the
treacherous gift of Odysseus.

According to the old commentator Sayana, Indra got at the soma which
inspired him with his drinking-song by assuming the shape of a quail.

The great feats of Indra, which are constantly referred to, are his
slaughter of the serpent Vritra, who had taken possession of all the
waters, and his recovery of the sun, which had also been stolen.**

     * Rig- Veda, x. 119.

     ** Ibid., 139, 4; iii. 39, 6; viii. 85, 7.

These myths are usually regarded as allegorical ways of stating that the
lightning opens the dark thundercloud, and makes it disgorge the
rain and reveal the sun. Whether this theory be correct or not, it is
important for our purpose to show that the feats thus attributed
to Indra are really identical in idea with, though more elevated in
conception and style, than certain Australian, Iroquois and Thlinkeet
legends. In the Iroquois myth, as in the Australian,* a great frog
swallowed all the waters, and was destroyed by Ioskeha or some other
animal. In Thlinkeet legends, Yehl, the raven-god, carried off to men
the hidden sun and the waters. Among these lower races the water-stealer
was thought of as a real reptile of some sort, and it is probable that a
similar theory once prevailed among the ancestors of the Aryans. Vritra
and Ahi, the mysterious foes whom Indra slays when he recovers the sun
and the waters, were probably once as real to the early fancy as the
Australian or Iroquois frog. The extraordinary myth of the origin of
Vritra, only found in the Brahmanas, indicates the wild imagination of
an earlier period. Indra murdered a Brahman, a three-headed one, it is
true, but still a Brahman. For this he was excluded from the banquet and
was deprived of his favourite soma. He stole a cup of it, and the dregs,
thrown into the fire with a magical imprecation, became Vritra, whom
Indra had such difficulty in killing. Before attacking Vritra, Indra
supplied himself with Dutch courage. "A copious draught of soma provided
him with the necessary courage and strength." The terror of the other
gods was abject.** After slaying him, he so lost self-possession that in
his flight he behaved like Odin when he flew off in terror with the head
of Suttung.***

     * Brinton, Myths of New World, pp. 184, 185.   See also
     chapter i.

     ** Perry, op. cit., p. 137; Rig-Veda, v. 29, 3, 7; iii.
     43, 7; iv. 18, 11; viii. 85, 7.

     *** Rig-Veda, i. 32,14, tells of a flight as headlong as
     that of Apollo after killing the Python. Mr. Perry explains
     the flight as the rapid journey of the thunderstorm.

If our opinion be correct, the elemental myths which abound in the Veda
are not myths "in the making," as is usually held, but rather myths
gradually dissolving into poetry and metaphor. As an example of the
persistence in civilised myth of the old direct savage theory that
animals of a semi-supernatural sort really cause the heavenly phenomena,
we may quote Mr. Darmesteter's remark, in the introduction to the
_Zendavesta_: "The storm floods that cleanse the sky of the dark fiends
in it were described in a class of myths as the urine of a gigantic
animal in the heavens".* A more savage and theriomorphic hypothesis
it would be hard to discover among Bushmen or Nootkas.** Probably the
serpent Vritra is another beast out of the same menagerie.

If our theory of the evolution of gods is correct, we may expect to find
in the myths of Indra traces of a theriomorphic character. As the point
in the ear of man is thought or fabled to be a relic of his arboreal
ancestry, so in the shape of Indra there should, if gods were developed
out of divine beasts, be traces of fur and feather. They are not very
numerous nor very distinct, but we give them for what they may be worth.

The myth of Yehl, the Thlinkeet raven-god, will not have been forgotten.
In his raven gear Yehl stole the sacred water, as Odin, also in bird
form, stole the mead of Suttung. We find a similar feat connected with
Indra. Gubernatis says:***

     * Sacred Books of the East, vol. iv. p. lxxxviii.

     ** The etymology of Vritra is usually derived from vn, to
     "cover," "hinder," "restrain," then "what is to be
     hindered," then "enemy," "fiend".

     *** Zoological Mythology, ii. 182.

"In the _Rig-Veda_ Indra often appears as a hawk. While the hawk
carries the ambrosia through the air, he trembles for fear of the archer
Kricanus, who, in fact, shot off one of his claws, of which the hedgehog
was born, according to the _Aitareya Brahmana_, and according to the
Vedic hymn, one of his feathers, which, falling on the earth, afterwards
became a tree."* Indra's very peculiar relations with rams are also
referred to by Gubernatis.** They resemble a certain repulsive myth of
Zeus, Demeter and the ram referred to by the early Christian fathers. In
the _Satapatha Brahmana_*** Indra is called "ram of Medhatithi," wife of
Vrishanasva. Indra, like Loki, had taken the part of a woman.**** In the
shape of a ram he carried off Medhatithi, an exploit like that of Zeus
with Ganymede.*****

In the Vedas, however, all the passages which connect Indra with animals
will doubtless be explained away as metaphorical, though it is admitted
that, like Zeus, he could assume whatever form he pleased.****** Vedic
poets, probably of a late period, made Indra as anthropomorphic as the
Homeric Zeus. His domestic life in the society of his consort Indrani
is described.******* When he is starting for the war, Indrani calls
him back, and gives him a stirrup-cup of soma. He and she quarrel very
naturally about his pet monkey.********

In this brief sketch, which is not even a summary, we have shown how
much of the irrational element, how much, too, of the humorous element,
there is in the myths about Indra. He is a drunkard, who gulps down
cask, spigot and all.*********

     * Compare Rig-Veda, iv. 271.

     ** Zool. Myth., i. 414.

     *** ii. 81.

     **** Rig- Veda, i. 51, 13.

     ***** Ibid., viii. 2, 40.

     ****** Ibid.,

     ****** Ibid., iii. 48, 4.

     ******* Ibid, 53, 4-6; vii. 18, 2.

     ******** Ibid., x. 86.

     ********* Ibid. 116.

He is an adulterer and a "shape-shifter," like all medicine-men and
savage sorcerers. He is born along with the sheep from the breast of a
vast non-natural being, like Ymir in Scandinavian myth; he metamorphoses
himself into a ram or a woman; he rends asunder his father and mother,
heaven and earth; he kills his father immediately after his birth, or
he is mortal, but has attained heaven by dint of magic, by "austere
fervour". Now our argument is that these and such as these incongruous
and irrational parts of Indra's legend have no necessary or natural
connection with the worship of him as a nature-god, an elemental deity,
a power of sky and storm, as civilised men conceive storm and sky. On
the other hand, these legends, of which plenty of savage parallels
have been adduced, are obviously enough survivals from the savage
intellectual myths, in which sorcerers, with their absurd powers, are
almost on a level with gods. And our theory is, that the irrational
part of Indra's legend became attached to the figure of an elemental
divinity, a nature-god, at the period when savage men mythically
attributed to their gods the qualities which were claimed by the most
illustrious among themselves, by their sorcerers and chiefs. In the
Vedas the nature-god has not quite disengaged himself from these old
savage attributes, which to civilised men seem so irrational. "Trailing
clouds of" anything but "glory" does Indra come "from heaven, which is
his home." If the irrational element in the legend of Indra was neither
a survival of, nor a loan from, savage fancy, why does it tally with the
myths of savages?

The other Adityas, strictly so called (for most gods are styled Adityas
now and then by way of compliment), need not detain us. We go on to
consider the celebrated soma.

Soma is one of the most singular deities of the Indo-Aryans. Originally
Soma is the intoxicating juice of a certain plant.* The wonderful
personifying power of the early imagination can hardly be better
illustrated than by the deification of the soma juice. We are accustomed
to hear in the _märchen_ or peasant myths of Scotch, Russian, Zulu and
other races, of drops of blood or spittle which possess human faculties
and intelligence, and which can reply, for example, to questions. The
personification of the soma juice is an instance of the same exercise
of fancy on a much grander scale. All the hymns in the ninth book of
the _Rig- Veda_, and many others in other places, are addressed to the
milk-like juice of this plant, which, when personified, holds a place
almost as high as that of Indra in the Indo-Aryan Olympus. The sacred
plant was brought to men from the sky or from a mountain by a hawk, or
by Indra in guise of a hawk, just as fire was brought to other races
by a benevolent bird, a raven or a cow. According to the _Aitareya
Brahmana_ (ii. 59), the gods bought some from the Gandharvas in exchange
for one of their own number, who was metamorphosed into a woman, "a big
naked woman" of easy virtue. In the _Satapatha Brahmana_,** the gods,
while still they lived on earth, desired to obtain soma, which was then
in the sky.

     * As to the true nature and home of the soma plant, see a
     discussion in the _Academy_, 1885.

     ** Muir, v. 263.

A Gandharva robbed the divine being who had flown up and seized the
soma, and, as in the _Aitareya Brahmana_, the gods won the plant back
by the aid of Vach, a woman-envoy to the amorous Gandharvas. The _Black
Yajur Veda_ has some ridiculous legends about Soma (personified) and his
thirty-three wives, their jealousies, and so forth. Soma, in the _Rig-
Veda_, is not only the beverage that inspires Indra, but is also an
anthropomorphic god who created and lighted up the sun,* and who drives
about in a chariot. He is sometimes addressed as a kind of Atlas, who
keeps heaven and earth asunder.** He is prayed to forgive the violations
of his law.*** Soma, in short, as a personified power, wants little of
the attributes of a supreme deity.****

Another, and to modern ideas much more poetical personified power, often
mentioned in the Vedas, is Ushas, or the dawn. As among the Australians,
the dawn is a woman, but a very different being from the immodest
girl dressed in red kangaroo-skins of the Murri myth. She is an active
maiden, who***** "advances, cherishing all things; she hastens on,
arousing footed creatures, and makes the birds fly aloft.... The flying
birds no longer rest after thy dawning, O bringer of food (?). She has
yoked her horses from the remote rising-place of the sun.... Resplendent
on thy massive car, hear our invocations." Ushas is "like a fair girl
adorned by her mother.... She has been beheld like the bosom of a bright

     * Rig- Veda, vi. 44, 23.

     ** Ibid., 44, 24.

     *** Ibid., viii. 48, 9.

     **** Bergaigne, i. 216.    To me it seems that the Rishis
     when hymning Soma simply gave him all the predicates of God
     that came into their heads.   Cf. Bergaigne, i. 223.

     **** Rig-Veda, i. 48.

"Born again and again though ancient, shining with an ever uniform hue,
she wasteth away the life of mortals." She is the sister of Night, and
the bright sun is her child. There is no more pure poetry in the Vedic
collections than that which celebrates the dawn, though even here
the Rishis are not oblivious of the rewards paid to the sacrificial
priests.* Dawn is somewhat akin to the Homeric Eos, the goddess of
the golden throne,** she who loved a mortal and bore him away, for his
beauty's sake, to dwell with the immortals. Once Indra, acting with
the brutality of the Homeric Ares, charged against the car of Ushas and
overthrew it.***

     * Rig- Veda, i. 48, 4.

     ** Ibid., i.. 48,10.

     *** Ibid., iv. 30, 8; Ait Br., iv. 9.

In her legend, however, we find little but pure poetry, and we do not
know that Ushas, like Eos, ever chose a mortal lover. Such is the Vedic
Ushas, but the Brahmanas, as usual, manage either to retain or to revive
and introduce the old crude element of myth. We have seen that the
Australians account to themselves for the ruddy glow of the morning sky
by the hypothesis that dawn is a girl of easy virtue, dressed in the red
opossum-skins she has received from her lovers. In a similar spirit the
_Aitareya Brahmana_ (iv. 9) offers brief and childish ætiological myths
to account for a number of natural phenomena. Thus it explains the
sterility of mules by saying that the gods once competed in a race; that
Agni (fire) drove in a chariot drawn by mules and scorched them, so
that they do not conceive. But in this race Ushas was drawn by red cows;
"hence after the coming of dawn there is a reddish colour". The red cows
of the Brahmana may pair off with the red opossums of the Australian

We now approach a couple of deities whose character, as far as such
shadowy things can be said to have any character at all, is pleasing and
friendly. The Asvins correspond in Vedic mythology to the Dioscuri, the
Castor and Polydeuces of Greece. They, like the Dioscuri, are twins, are
horsemen, and their legend represents them as kindly and helpful to
men in distress. But while the Dioscuri stand forth in Greek legend as
clearly and fairly fashioned as two young knights of the Panathenaic
procession, the Asvins show as bright and formless as melting wreaths of

The origin of their name has been investigated by the commentator Yaska,
who "quotes sundry verses to prove that the two Asvins belong together"
(sic).* The etymology of the name is the subject, as usual, of various
conjectures. It has been derived from _Asva_, a horse, from the root
as, "to pervade," and explained as a patronymic from Asva, the sun. The
nature of the Asvins puzzled the Indian commentators no less than their
name. Who, then, are these Asvins? "Heaven and earth," say some.**

     * Max Müller, _Lectures on Language_, ii. 536.

     **  Yaska in the _Nirukta_, xii. 1.   See Muir, v. 234.

The "some" who held this opinion relied on an etymological guess, the
derivation from _as_ "to pervade ". Others inclined to explain the
Asvins as day and night, others as the sun and moon, others--Indian
euhemerists--as two real kings, now dead and gone. Professor Roth thinks
the Asvins contain an historical element, and are "the earliest bringers
of light in the morning sky". Mr. Max Müller seems in favour of the two
twilights. As to these and allied modes of explaining the two gods in
connection with physical phenomena, Muir writes thus: "This allegorical
method of interpretation seems unlikely to be correct, as it is
difficult to suppose that the phenomena in question should have been
alluded to under such a variety of names and circumstances. It appears,
therefore, to be more probable that the Rishis merely refer to certain
legends which were popularly current of interventions of the Asvins
in behalf of the persons whose names are mentioned." In the Veda* the
Asvins are represented as living in fraternal polyandry, with but one
wife, Surya, the daughter of the sun, between them. They are thought
to have won her as the prize in a chariot-race, according to the
commentator Sayana. "The time of their appearance is properly the early
dawn," when they receive the offerings of their votaries.** "When the
dark (night) stands among the tawny cows, I invoke you, Asvins, sons of
the sky."*** They are addressed as young, beautiful, fleet, and the foes
of evil spirits.

     * Rig- Veda, i. 119, 2; i. 119, 5; x. 39, 11 (?).

     ** Muir, v. 238.

     *** Rig-Veda, x. 61, 4.

There can be no doubt that, when the Vedas were composed, the Asvins
shone and wavered and were eclipsed among the bright and cloudy throng
of gods, then contemplated by the Rishis or sacred singers. Whether they
had from the beginning an elemental origin, and what that origin exactly
was, or whether they were merely endowed by the fancy of poets with
various elemental and solar attributes and functions, it may be
impossible to ascertain. Their legend, meanwhile, is replete with
features familiar in other mythologies. As to their birth, the _Rig-
Veda_ has the following singular anecdote, which reminds one of the
cloud-bride of Ixion, and of the woman of clouds and shadows that
was substituted for Helen of Troy: "Tvashtri makes a wedding for his
daughter. Hearing this, the whole world assembled. The mother of Yama,
the wedded wife of the great Vivasvat, disappeared. They concealed the
immortal bride from mortals. Making another of like appearance, they
gave her to Vivasvat. Saranyu bore the two Asvins, and when she had done
so, deserted the twins."* The old commentators explain by a legend in
which the daughter of Tvashtri, Saranyu, took on the shape of a mare.
Vivasvat followed her in the form of a horse, and she became the mother
of the Asvins, "sons of the horse," who more or less correspond to
Castor and Pollux, sons of the swan. The Greeks were well acquainted
with local myths of the same sort, according to which, Poseidon, in the
form of a horse, had become the parent of a horse by Demeter Erinnys
(Saranyu?), then in the shape of a mare. The Phigaleians, among whom
this tale was current, worshipped a statue of Demeter in a woman's shape
with a mare's head. The same tale was told of Cronus and Philyra.**
This myth of the birth of gods, who "are lauded as Asvins" sprung from a
horse,*** may be the result of a mere _volks etymologie_.

     * Rig-Veda, x. 17, 1-2; Bergaigne, ii. 806, 318.

     ** Pausanias, viii. 25; Virgil, Georgia, iii. 91; Muir, v.
     128.   See chapter on "Greek Divine Myths," Demeter.

     *** Muir,v. 228.

Some one may have asked himself what the word Asvins meant; may have
rendered it "sprung from a horse," and may either have invented, by way
of explanation, a story like that of Cronus and Philyra, or may have
adapted such a story, already current in folk-lore, to his purpose;
or the myth may be early, and a mere example of the prevalent mythical
fashion which draws no line between gods and beasts and men. It will
probably be admitted that this and similar tales prove the existence of
the savage element of mythology among the Aryans of India, whether it be
borrowed, or a survival, or an imitative revival.

The Asvins were usually benefactors of men in every sort of strait and
trouble. A quail even invoked them (Mr. Max Müller thinks this quail
was the dawn, but the Asvins were something like the dawn already), and
they rescued her from the jaws of a wolf. In this respect, and in their
beauty and youth, they answer to Castor and Pollux as described by
Theocritus. "Succourers are they of men in the very thick of peril, and
of horses maddened in the bloody press of battle, and of ships that,
defying the setting and the rising of the stars in heaven, have
encountered the perilous breath of storms."*

     * Theoc. Idyll, xxii. i. 17.

A few examples of the friendliness of the Asvins may be selected from
the long list given by Muir. They renewed the youth of Kali. After the
leg of Vispala had been cut off in battle, the Asvins substituted an
iron leg! They restored sight to Rijrasva, whom his father had blinded
because, in an access of altruism, he had given one hundred and one
sheep to a hungry she-wolf. The she-wolf herself prayed to the Asvins to
succour her benefactor.* They drew the Rishi Rebha out of a well. They
made wine and liquors flow from the hoof of their own horse.** Most
of the persons rescued, quail and all, are interpreted, of course, as
semblances of the dawn and the twilight. Goldstucker says they
are among "the deities forced by Professor Müller to support his
dawn-theory". M. Bergaigne also leans to the theory of physical
phenomena. When the Asvins restore sight to the blind Kanva, he sees
no reason to doubt that "the blind Kanva is the sun during the night, or
Agni or Soma is concealment". A proof of this he finds in the statement
that Kanva is "dark"; to which we might reply that "dark" is still a
synonym for "blind" among the poor.***

     * Rig- Veda, i. 116, 16.

     ** Ibid., i. 116, 7.

     *** Bergaigne, Rel. Ved., ii. 460, 465.

M. Bergaigne's final hypothesis is that the Asvins "may be assimilated
to the two celebrants who in the beginning seemed to represent the
terrestrial and celestial fires". But this origin, he says, even if
correctly conjectured, had long been forgotten.

Beyond the certainty that the Asvins represent the element of kindly
and healing powers, as commonly conceived of in popular mythology--for
example, in the legends of the saints--there is really nothing certain
or definite about their original meaning.

A god with a better defined and more recognisable department is
Tvashtri, who is in a vague kind of way the counterpart of the Greek
Hephaestus. He sharpens the axe of Brahmanaspiti, and forges the bolts
of Indra. He also bestows offspring, is a kind of male Aphrodite, and
is the shaper of all forms human and animal. Saranyu is his daughter.
Professor Kuhn connects her with the storm-cloud, Mr. Max Müller with
the dawn.* Her wedding in the form of a mare to Vivasvat in the guise of
a horse has already been spoken of and discussed. Tvashtri's relations
with Indra, as we have shown, are occasionally hostile; there is a
blood-feud between them, as Indra slew Tvashtri's three-headed son, from
whose blood sprang two partridges and a sparrow.**

The Maruts are said to be gods of the tempest, of lightning, of wind
and of rain. Their names, as usual, are tortured on various by the
etymologists. Mr. Max Müller connects _Maruts_ with the roots _mar_, "to
pound," and with the Roman war-god Mars. Others think the root is _mar_,
"to shine". Benfey*** says "that the Maruts (their name being derived
from _mar_, 'to die') are personfications of the souls of the departed".

     * Max Müller, _Lectures on Language_, ii. 530.

     ** Muir, v. 224, 233.

     *** Ibid., v. 147.

Their numbers are variously estimated. They are the sons of Rudra and
Prisni. Rudra as a bull, according to a tale told by Sayana, begat the
Maruts on the earth, which took the shape of a cow. As in similar cases,
we may suppose this either to be a survival or revival of a savage myth
or a merely symbolical statement. There are traces of rivalry between
Indra and the Maruts. It is beyond question that the Rishis regard them
as elementary and mainly as storm-gods. Whether they were originally
ghosts (like the Australian Mrarts, where the name tempts the wilder
kind of etymologists), or whether they are personified winds, or, again,
winds conceived as persons (which is not quite the same thing), it is
difficult, and perhaps impossible, to determine.

Though divers of the Vedic gods have acquired solar characteristics,
there is a regular special sun-deity in the Veda, named Surya or
Savitri. He answers to the Helios of the Homeric hymn to the sun,
conceived as a personal being, a form which he still retains in the
fancy of the Greek islanders.* Surya is sometimes spoken of as a child
of Aditi's or of Dyaus and Ushas is his wife, though she also lives
in Spartan polyandry with the Asvin twins.** Like Helios Hyperion, he
beholds all things, the good and evil deeds of mortals. He is often
involved in language of religious fervour.*** The English reader is
apt to confuse Surya with the female being Surya. Surya is regarded
by Grassmann and Roth as a feminine personification of the sun.****
M. Bergaigne looks on Surya as the daughter of the sun or daughter of
Savitri, and thus as the dawn. Savitri is the sun, golden-haired and
golden-handed. From the _Satapatha Brahmana_***** it appears that people
were apt to identify Savitri with Prajapati.******

     * Bent's _Cyclades_.

     ** Rig- Veda, vii. 75, 5.

     *** Muir, v. 155-162.

     **** Bergaigne, ii. 486.

     ***** xiii. 3, 5, 1.

     ****** The very strange and important personage of Prajapati
     is discussed in the chapter on "Indian Cosmogonic Myths".

These blendings of various conceptions and of philosophic systems with
early traditions have now been illustrated as far as our space will
permit. The natural conclusion, after a rapid view of Vedic deities,
seems to be that they are extremely composite characters, visible only
in the shifting rays of the Indian fancy, at a period when the peculiar
qualities of Indian thought were already sufficiently declared. The
lights of ritualistic dogma and of pantheistic and mystic and poetic
emotion fall in turn, like the changeful hues of sunset, on figures as
melting and shifting as the clouds of evening. Yet even to these vague
shapes of the divine there clings, as we think has been shown, somewhat
of their oldest raiment, something of the early fancy from which we
suppose them to have floated up ages before the Vedas were compiled in
their present form. If this view be correct, Vedic mythology does by
no means represent what is primitive and early, but what, in order of
development, is late, is peculiar, and is marked with the mark of a
religious tendency as strongly national and characteristic as the purest
Semitic monotheism. Thus the Veda is not a fair starting-point for
a science of religion, but is rather, in spite of its antiquity, a
temporary though advanced resting-place in the development of Indian
religious speculation and devotional sentiment.*

     * In the chapters on India the translation of the _Veda_
     used is Herr Ludwig's (Prag, 1876). Much is owed to Mr.
     Perry's essay on Indra, quoted above.


     Gods in myth, and God in religion--The society of the gods
     like that of men in Homer--Borrowed elements in Greek
     belief--Zeus--His name--Development of his legend--His
     bestial shapes explained--Zeus in religion--Apollo--Artemis--
     Dionysus--Athene--Aphrodite--Hermes--Demeter--Their names,
     natures, rituals and legends--Conclusions.

In the gods of Greece, when represented in ideal art and in the best
religious sentiment, as revealed by poets and philosophers, from Homer
to Plato, from Plato to Porphyry, there is something truly human and
truly divine. It cannot be doubted that the religion of Apollo, Athene,
Artemis and Hermes was, in many respects, an adoration directed to the
moral and physical qualities that are best and noblest. Again, even in
the oldest Greek literature, in Homer and in all that follows, the name
of the chief god, Zeus, might in many places be translated by our word

     * _Postea_, "Zeus".

It is God that takes from man half his virtue on the day of slavery; it
is God that gives to each his lot in life, and ensures that as his
day is so shall his strength be. This spiritual conception of deity,
undifferentiated by shape or attributes, or even by name, declares
itself in the Homeric terms (------------) and in the (------) of
Herodotus. These are spiritual forces or tendencies ruling the world,
and these conceptions are present to the mind, even of Homer, whose
pictures of the gods are so essentially anthropomorphic; even of
Herodotus, in all things so cautiously reverent in his acceptation of
the popular creeds and rituals. When Socrates, therefore, was doomed
to death for his theories of religion, he was not condemned so much
for holding a pure belief in a spiritual divinity, as for bringing that
opinion (itself no new thing) into the marketplace, and thereby shocking
the popular religion, on which depended the rites that were believed to
preserve the fortune of the state.

It is difficult or impossible quite to unravel the tangled threads of
mythical legend, of sacerdotal ritual, of local religion, and of refined
religious sentiment in Greece. Even in the earliest documents, the
Homeric poems, religious sentiment deserts, in moments of deep and
serious thought, the brilliant assembly of the Olympians, and takes
refuge in that fatherhood of the divine "after which all men yearn".*

     * _Odyssey_, iii. 48.

Yet, even in Pausanias, in the second century of the Christian era, and
still more in Plutarch and Porphyry, there remains an awful acquiescence
in such wild dogmas and sacred traditions as antiquity handed down. We
can hardly determine whether even Homer actually believed in his own
turbulent cowardly Ares, in his own amorous and capricious Zeus. Did
Homer, did any educated Greek, turn in his thoughts, when pain, or
sorrow, or fear fell on him, to a hope in the help of Hermes or Athene?
He was ready to perform all their rites and offer all the sacrifices
due, but it may be questioned whether, even in such a god-fearing man
as Nicias, this ritualism meant more than a desire to "fulfil all
righteousness," and to gratify a religious sentiment in the old
traditional forms.

In examining Greek myths, then, it must be remembered that, like all
myths, they have far less concern with religion in its true guise--with
the yearning after the divine which "is not far from any one of us,"
after the God "in whom we live, and move, and have our being"--than with
the _religio_, which is a tissue of old barbarous fears, misgivings,
misapprehensions. The religion which retained most of the myths was that
ancient superstition which is afraid of "changing the luck," and which,
therefore, keeps up acts of ritual that have lost their significance
in their passage from a dark and dateless past. It was the local
priesthoods of demes and remote rural places that maintained the old
usages of the ancient tribes and kindreds--usages out of keeping with
the mental condition of the splendid city state, or with the national
sentiment of Hellenism. But many of the old tales connected with, and
explanatory of, these ritual practices, after "winning their way to the
mythical," as Thucydides says, won their way into literature, and meet
us in the odes of Pindar, the plays of Æschylus and Sophocles, the notes
of commentators, and the apologetic efforts of Plutarch and Porphyry.
It is with these antique stories that the mythologist is concerned. But
even here he need not loose his reverence for the nobler aspects of the
gods of Greece. Like the archaeologist and excavator, he must touch with
careful hand these--

     Strange clouded fragments of the ancient glory,
     Late lingerers of the company divine;
     For even in ruin of their marble limbs
     They breathe of that far world wherefrom they came,
     Of liquid light and harmonies serene,
     Lost halls of heaven and far Olympian air.*

"Homer and Hesiod named the gods for the Greeks;" so Herodotus thought,
and constructed the divine genealogies. Though the gods were infinitely
older than Homer, though a few of them probably date from before the
separation of the Indo-Aryan and Hellenic stocks, it is certain that
Homer and Hesiod stereotyped, to some extent, the opinions about the
deities which were current in their time.**

     * Ernest Myers, Hermes, in _The Judgment of Prometheus_.

     ** As a proof of the Pre-Homeric antiquity of Zeus, it has
     often been noticed that Homer makes Achilles pray to Zeus of
     Dodona (the Zeus, according to Thrasybulus, who aided
     Deucalion after the deluge) as the "Pelasgian" Zeus (Iliad,
     xvi. 233). "Pelasgian" may be regarded as equivalent to "
     pre-historic Greek ". Sophocles (Trach., 65; see Scholiast)
     still speaks of the Selli, the priests of Dodonean Zeus, as
     "mountain-dwelling and couching on the earth ". They
     retained, it seems, very primitive habits. Be it observed
     that Achilles has been praying for confusion and ruin to the
     Achaeans, and so invokes the deity of an older, perhaps
     hostile, race. Probably the oak-oracle at Dodona, the
     message given by "the sound of a going in the tree-tops" or
     by the doves, was even more ancient than Zeus, who, on that
     theory, fell heir to the rites of a peasant oracle connected
     with tree-worship. Zeus, according to Hesiod, "dwelt in the
     trunk of the oak tree" (cited by Preller, i. 98), much as an
     Indian forest-god dwells in the peepul or any other tree. It
     is rather curious that, according to Eustathius (_Iliad_,
     xvi. 233), "Pelargicus," "connected with storks," was
     sometimes written for Pelasgicus; that there was a Dodona in
     Thessaly, and that storks were sacred to the Thessalians.

Hesiod codified certain priestly and Delphian theories about their
origin and genealogies. Homer minutely described their politics and
society. His description, however, must inevitably have tended to
develop a later scepticism. While men lived in city states under heroic
kings, acknowledging more or less the common sway of one king at Argos
or Mycenæ, it was natural that the gods (whether in the dark backward of
time Greece knew a Moral Creative Being or not) should be conceived as
dwelling in a similar society, with Zeus for their Agamemnon, a ruler
supreme but not absolute, not safe from attempts at resistance and
rebellion. But when Greek politics and society developed into a crowd of
republics, with nothing answering to a certain imperial sway, then men
must have perceived that the old divine order was a mere survival from
the time when human society was similarly ordained. Thus Xenophanes very
early proclaimed that men had made the gods in their own likeness, as
a horse, could he draw, would design his deity in equine semblance. But
the detection by Xenophanes of the anthropomorphic tendency in religion
could not account for the instinct which made Greeks, like other
peoples, as Aristotle noticed, figure their gods not only in human
shape, but in the guise of the lower animals. For that zoomorphic
element in myth an explanation, as before, will be sought in the early
mental condition which takes no great distinction between man and
the beasts. The same method will explain, in many cases, the other
peculiarly un-Hellenic elements in Greek divine myth. Yet here, too,
allowance must be made for the actual borrowing of rites and legends
from contiguous peoples.

The Greeks were an assimilative race. The alphabet of their art they
obtained, as they obtained their written alphabet, from the kingdoms of
the East.* Like the Romans, they readily recognised their own gods, even
under the barbarous and brutal disguises of Egyptian popular religion;
and, while recognising their god under an alien shape, they may have
taken over legends alien to their own national character.** Again,
we must allow, as in India, for myths which are really late, the
inventions, perhaps, of priests or oracle-mongers. But in making these
deductions, we must remember that the later myths would be moulded, in
many cases, on the ancient models. These ancient models, there is reason
to suppose, were often themselves of the irrational and savage character
which has so frequently been illustrated from the traditions of the
lower races.

The elder dynasties of Greek gods, Uranus and Cronos, with their
adventures and their fall, have already been examined.***

     * Helbig, _Homerwche Epos cms dem Denhmalern_. Perrot and
     Chipiez, on Mycenaean art, represent a later view.

     ** On the probable amount of borrowing in Greek religion see
     Maury, Religions de la Greece, iii. 70-75; Newton, Nineteenth
     Century, 1878, p. 306.   Gruppe, Griech. Culte u. Mythen.,
     pp. 153-163

     *** "Greek Cosmogonic Myths," antea.

Uranus may have been an ancient sky-god, like the Samoyed Num, deposed
by Cronus, originally, perhaps, one of the deputy-gods, active where
their chief is otiose, whom we find in barbaric theology. But this is
mere guess-work. We may now turn to the deity who was the acknowledged
sovereign of the Greek Olympus during all the classical period from the
date of Homer and Hesiod to the establishment of Christianity. We have
to consider the legend of Zeus.

It is necessary first to remind the reader that all the legends in the
epic poems date after the time when an official and national Olympus
had been arranged. Probably many tribal gods, who had originally no
connection with gods of other tribes, had, by Homer's age, thus accepted
places and relationships in the Olympic family. Even rude low-born
Pelasgian deities may have been adopted into the highest circles, and
fitted out with a divine pedigree in perfect order.

To return to Zeus, his birth (whether as the eldest or the youngest of
the children of Cronus) has already been studied; now we have to deal
with his exploits and his character.

About the meaning of the name of Zeus the philologists seem more than
commonly harmonious. They regard the Greek Zeus as the equivalent of the
Sanskrit Dyaus, "the bright one," a term for the sky.*

     * Max Müller, _Selected Essays_, ii. 419; Preller, Gr.
     Myth., i. 92.

He was especially worshipped on hill-tops (like the Aztec rain-god); for
example, on Ithome, Parnes, Cithgeron, and the Lycaean hill of Arcadia.
On the Arcadian mountain, a centre of the strangest and oldest rites,
the priest of Zeus acted as what the African races call a "rainmaker".
There was on the hill the sacred well of the nymph Hagno, one of the
nurses of the child Zeus. In time of drought the priest of Zeus offered
sacrifice and prayer to the water according to ritual law, and it would
be interesting to know what it was that he sacrificed. He then gently
stirred the well with a bough from the oak, the holy tree of the god,
and when the water was stirred, a cloud arose like mist, which attracted
other clouds and caused rain. As the priest on a mountain practically
occupied a meteorological observatory, he probably did not perform
these rites till he knew that a "depression" might be expected from one
quarter or another.*

     * See similar examples of popular magic in Gervase of
     Tilbury, Otia Imperiidia; Liebrecht, ii. 146.   The citation
     is due to Freller, i. 102.

Wonderful feats of rain-prophecy are done by Australian seers, according
to Mrs. Langloh Parker and others. As soon as we meet Zeus in Homer, we
find that he is looked on, not as the sky, but as the deity who "dwells
in the heights of air," and who exercises supreme sway over all things,
including storm and wind and cloud. He casts the lightning forth
(--------) he thunders on high (--------), he has dark clouds for his
covering (--------) all these imposing aspects he is _religiously_
regarded by people who approach him in prayer. These aspects would
be readily explained by the theory that Zeus, after having been the
personal sky, came to be thought a powerful being who dwelt in the
sky, if we did not find such beings worshipped where the sky is not yet
adored, as in Australia. Much the same occurred if, as M. Maspero points
out, in Egypt the animals were worshipped first, and then later the gods
supposed to be present in the animals. So the sky, a personal sky, was
first adored, later a god dwelling in the sky. But it is less easy
to show how this important change in opinion took place, if it really
occurred. A philological theory of the causes which produced the change
is set forth by Mr. Keary in his book _Primitive Belief_. In his opinion
the sky was first worshipped as a vast non-personal phenomenon, "the
bright thing"(_Dyaus_). But, to adopt the language of Mr. Max Müller,
who appears to hold the same views, "Dyaus ceased to be an expressive
predicate; it became a traditional name";* it "lost its radical
meaning". Thus where a man had originally said, "It thunders," or rather
"He thunders," he came to say, "Dyaus" (that is, the sky) "thunders".

     * Select Essays, ii. 419.

Next Dyaus, or rather the Greek form Zeus, almost lost its meaning of
the sky, and the true sense being partially obscured, became a name
supposed to indicate a person. Lastly the expression became "Zeus
thunders," Zeus being regarded as a person, because the old meaning of
his name, "the sky," was forgotten, or almost forgotten. The _nomen_
(name) has become a _numen_ (god). As Mr. Keary puts it, "The god stands
out as clear and thinkable in virtue of this name as any living friend
can be". The whole doctrine resolves itself into this, a phenomenon
originally (according to the theory) considered impersonal, came to be
looked on as personal, because a word survived in colloquial expressions
after it had lost, or all but lost, its original meaning. As a result,
'all the changes and processes of the impersonal sky came to be spoken
of as personal actions performed by a personal being, Zeus. The record
of these atmospheric processes on this theory is the legend of Zeus.
Whatever is irrational and abominable in the conduct of the god is
explained as originally a simple statement of meteorological phenomena.
"Zeus weds his mother;" that must mean the rain descends on the earth,
from which it previously arose in vapour. "Zeus weds his daughter," that
is, the rain falls on the crop, which grew up from the rainy embrace of
sky and earth.

Here then we have the philological theory of the personality and conduct
of Zeus. To ourselves and those who have followed us the system will
appear to reverse the known conditions of the working of the human
mind among early peoples. On the philological theory, man first
regards phenomena in our modern way as impersonal; he then gives them
personality as the result of a disease of language, of a forgetfulness
of the sense of words. Thus Mr. Keary writes: "The idea of personality
as apart from matter must have been growing more distinct when men could
attribute personality to such an abstract phenomenon as the sky ". Where
is the distinctness in a conception which produces such confusion? We
have seen that as the idea of personality becomes more distinct the
range of its application becomes narrower, not wider. The savage, it has
been thought, attributes personality to everything without exception. As
the idea of personality grows more distinct it necessarily becomes less
extensive, till we withdraw it from all but intelligent human beings.
Thus we must look for some other explanation of the personality of
Zeus, supposing his name to mean the sky. This explanation we find in a
survival of the savage mental habit of regarding all phenomena, even the
most abstract, as persons. Our theory will receive confirmation from
the character of the personality of Zeus in his myth. Not only is he
a person, but in myth, as distinct from religion, he is a very savage
person, with all the powers of the medicine-man and all the passions of
the barbarian. Why should this be so on the philological theory? When
we examine the legend of Zeus, we shall see which explanation best meets
the difficulties of the problem. But the reader must again be reminded
that the Zeus of myth, in Homer and elsewhere, is a very different being
from the Zeus of religion of Achilles's prayer, from the Zeus whom the
Athenians implored to rain on their fields, and from the Zeus who was
the supreme being of the tragedians, of the philosophers, and of later

The early career, _la jeunesse orageuse_, of Zeus has been studied
already. The child of Cronus and Rhea, countless places asserted their
claim to be the scene of his birth, though the Cretan claim was most

     * Hesiod, _Theog_., 468; Paus., iv. 33, 2.

In Crete too was the grave of Zeus: a scandal to pious heathendom. The
euhemerists made this tomb a proof that Zeus was a deified man. Preller
takes it for an allegory of winter and the death of the god of storm,
who in winter is especially active. Zeus narrowly escaped being
swallowed by his father, and, after expelling and mediatising that
deity, he changed his own wife, Metis, into a fly, swallowed her, and
was delivered out of his own head of Athene, of whom his wife had been
pregnant. He now became ruler of the world, with his brother Poseidon
for viceroy, so to speak, of the waters, and his brother Hades for lord
of the world of the dead. Like the earlier years of Louis XIV., the
earlier centuries of the existence of Zeus were given up to a series of
amours, by which he, like Charles II., became the father of many noble
families. His legitimate wife was his sister Hera, whom he seduced
before wedlock "without the knowledge of their dear parents," says
Homer,* who neglects the myth that one of the "dear parents" ate his
own progeny, "like him who makes his generation messes to gorge his
appetite". Hera was a jealous wife, and with good cause.** The Christian
fathers calculated that he sowed his wild oats and persecuted mortal
women with his affections through seventeen generations of men. His
amours with his mother and daughters, with Deo and Persephone, are the
great scandals of Clemens Alexandrinus and Arnobius.*** Zeus seldom made
love _in propria persona_, in all his meteorological pomp. When he thus
gratified Semele she was burned to a cinder.****

     * It is probable that this myth of the seduction of Hera is
     of Samian origin, and was circulated to account for and
     justify the Samian custom by which men seduced their loves
     first and celebrated the marriage afterwards (Scholia on
     _Iliad_, xiv. 201). "Others say that Samos was the place
     where Zeus betrayed Hera, whence it comes that the Samians,
     when they go a-wooing, anticipate the wedding first in
     secret, and then celebrate it openly." Yet another myth
     (_Iliad_, xiv. 295, Scholiast) accounts for the hatred which
     Zeus displayed to Prometheus by the fable that, before her
     wedding with Zeus, Hera became the mother of Prometheus by
     the giant Eurymedon. Euphorion was the authority for this
     tale. Yet another version occurs in the legend of
     Hephaestus.   See also Schol., _Theoc_., xv. 64.

     ** Iliad, xiv. 307, 340.

     *** Arnobius, Adv. Nat., v. 9, where the abominations
     described defy repetition. The myth of a rock which became
     the mother of the offspring of Zeus may recall the maternal
     flint of Aztec legend and the vagaries of Iroquois
     tradition. Compare _Clemens Alex_., Oxford, 1719, i. 13, for
     the amours of Zeus, Deo and Persephone, with their
     representations in the mysteries; also Arnob., Adv. Cent.,
     v. 20. Zeus adopted the shape of a serpent in his amour with
     his daughter. An ancient Tarentine sacred ditty is quoted as
     evidence, _Taurus draconem genuit, et taurum draco_, and
     certain repulsive performances with serpents in the
     mysteries are additional testimony.

     **** Apollodorus, iii. 4, 3.

The amour with Danae, when Zeus became a shower of gold, might be
interpreted as a myth of the yellow sunshine. The amours of Zeus under
the disguise of various animal forms were much more usual, and are
familiar to all.* As Cronus when in love metamorphosed himself into
a stallion, as Prajapati pursued his own daughter in the shape of a
roebuck, so Zeus became a serpent, a bull, a swan, an eagle, a dove,**
and, to woo the daughter of Cletor, an ant. Similar disguises are
adopted by the sorcerers among the Algonkins for similar purposes. When
Pund-jel, in the Australian myth of the Pleiades, was in love with a
native girl, he changed himself into one of those grubs in the bark of
trees which the Blacks think edible, and succeeded as well as Zeus did
when he became an ant.***

     * The mythologists, as a rule, like the heathen opponents of
     Arnobius, Clemens and Eusebius, explain the amours of Zeus
     as allegories of the fruitful union of heaven and earth, of
     rain and grain. Preller also allows for the effects of human
     vanity, noble families insisting on tracing themselves to
     gods. On the whole, says Preller, "Zeugung in der Natur-
     religion und Mythologie, dasselbe ist was Schopfung inden
     deistischen Religionen" (i. 110). Doubtless all these
     elements come into the legend; the unions of Zeus with Deo
     and Persephone especially have much the air of a nature-myth
     told in an exceedingly primitive and repulsive manner. The
     amours in animal shape are explained in the text as in many
     cases survivals of the totemistic belief in descent from
     beasts, sans phrase.

     **Lian., Hist Vwr., i. 15.

     *** Dawson, Australian Aborigines; Custom, and Myth, p. 126.

It is not improbable that the metamorphosis of Zeus into an ant is the
result of a _volks-etymologie_ which derived "Myrmidons" from (------),
an ant. Even in that case the conversion of the ant into an avatar of
Zeus would be an example of the process of gravitation or attraction,
whereby a great mythical name and personality attracts to itself
floating fables.* The remark of Clemens on this last extraordinary
intrigue is suggestive. The Thessalians, he says, are reputed to worship
ants because Zeus took the semblance of an ant when he made the daughter
of Cletor mother of Myrmidon. Where people worship any animal from whom
they claim descent (in this case through Myrmidon, the ancestor of the
famed Myrmidons), we have an example of stiraight forward totemism. To
account for the adoration of the animal on the hypothesis that it was
the incarnation of a god, is the device which has been observed in
Egyptian as in Samoan religion, and in that of aboriginal Indian
tribes, whose animal gods become saints "when the Brahmans get a turn at

The most natural way of explaining such tales about the amours and
animal metamorphoses of so great a god, is to suggest that Zeus
inherited,*** as it were, legends of a lower character long current
among separate families and in different localities. In the same way,
where a stone had been worshipped, the stone was, in at least one
instance, dubbed with the name of Zeus.****

     * Clemens, p. 84.

     ** See Mr. H. H. Risley on "Primitive Marriage in Bengal,"
     in _Astatic Quarterly Review_, June, 1886.

     *** In Pausanias's opinion Cecrops first introduced the
     belief in Zeus, the most highest.

     **** Paus., iii. 21, l; but the reading is doubtful.

The tradition of descent from this or that beast or plant has been shown
to be most widely prevalent. On the general establishment of a higher
faith in a national deity, these traditions, it is presumed, would not
wholly disappear, but would be absorbed into the local legend of the
god. The various beasts would become sacred to him, as the sheep was
sacred to Hera in Samos, according to Mandrobulus,* and images of the
animals would congregate in his temple. The amours of Zeus, then, are
probably traceable to the common habit of deriving noble descents from a
god, and in the genealogical narrative older totemistic and other local
myths found a place.** Apart from his intrigues, the youth of Zeus was
like that of some masquerading and wandering king, such as James V. in
Scotland. Though Plato, in the _Republic_, is unwilling that the young
should be taught how the gods go about disguised as strangers, this was
their conduct in the myths. Thus we read of

     Lycaon and his fifty sons, whom Zeus
     In their own house spied on, and unawares
     Watching at hand, from his disguise arose,
     And overset the table where they sat
     Around their impious feast, and slew them all.***

Clemens of Alexandria**** contrasts the "human festival" of Zeus among
the Ethiopians with the inhuman banquet offered to him by Lycaon in

     * Op. Clem. Alex., i. 36.

     ** Compare Heyne, Observ. in Apollodor., i. 8, 1.

     *** Bridges, _Prometheus the Firegiver_.

     **** Clem. Alex., L 31.

     ***** Paus., viii. 2, l.

The permanence of Arcadian human sacrifice has already been alluded to,
and it is confirmed by the superstition that whoever tasted the human
portion in the mess sacrificed to Zeus became a were-wolf, resuming his
original shape if for ten years he abstained from the flesh of men.*

A very quaint story of the domestic troubles of Zeus was current in
Plataea, where it was related at the festival named _Dædala_. It was
said that Hera, indignant at the amours of her lord, retired to Euboæ.
Zeus, wishing to be reconciled to her, sought the advice of Cithæron,
at that time king of Platæa. By his counsel the god celebrated a sham
marriage with a wooden image, dressed up to personate Plataea, daughter
of Asopus. Hera flew to the scene and tore the bridal veil, when,
discovering the trick, she laughed, and was reconciled to her husband.**
Probably this legend was told to explain some incident of ritual or
custom in the feast of the Dædala, and it is certainly a more innocent
myth than most that were commemorated in local mystery-plays.

     * The wolves connected with the worship of Zeus, like his
     rams, goats, and other animals, are commonly explained as
     mythical names for elemental phenomena, clouds and storms.
     Thus the ram's fleece, (--------), used in certain expiatory
     rites (Hesych., s. v., Lobeck, p. 183), is presumed by
     Preller to be a symbol of the cloud. In the same way his
     regis or goat-skin is the storm-wind or the thunder-cloud.
     The opposite view will be found in Professor Robertson
     Smith's article on "Sacrifice" in _Encyc. Brit_., where the
     similar totemistic rites of the lower races are adduced. The
     elemental theory is set forth by Decharme, _Mythologie de la
     Grece Antique_ (Paris, 1879), p. 16. For the "storm-wolf,"
     see Preller, i. 101. It seems a little curious that the
     wolf, which, on the solar hypothesis, was a brilliant beast
     connected with the worship of the sun-god, Apollo Lycaeus,
     becomes a cloud or storm-wolf when connected with Zeus. On
     the whole subject of the use of the skins of animals as
     clothing of the god or the ministrant, see Lobeck,
     _Aglaoph_., pp. 188-186, and Robertson Smith, op. cit.

     ** Paus., ix. 3, 1.

It was not only when he was _en bonne fortune_ that Zeus adopted the
guise of a bird or beast. In the very ancient temple of Hera near
Mycenae there was a great statue of the goddess, of gold and ivory, the
work of Polycletus, and therefore comparatively modern. In one hand the
goddess held a pomegranate, in the other a sceptre, on which was perched
a cuckoo, like the Latin woodpecker Picus on his wooden post. About the
pomegranate there was a myth which Pausanias declines to tell, but he
does record the myth of the cuckoo. "They say that when Zeus loved the
yet virgin Hera, he changed himself into a cuckoo, which she pursued
and caught to be her playmate." Pausanias admits that he did not believe
this legend. Probably it was invented to account for the companionship
of the cuckoo, which, like the cow, was one of the sacred animals of
Hera. Myths of this class are probably later than the period in which we
presume the divine relationships of gods and animals to have passed out
of the totemistic into the Samoan condition of belief. The more general
explanation is, that the cuckoo, as a symbol of the vernal season,
represents the heaven in its wooing of the earth. On the whole, as we
have tried to show, the symbolic element in myth is late, and was meant
to be explanatory of rites and usages whose original significance was
forgotten. It would be unfair to assume that a god was disrespectfully
viewed by his earliest worshippers because ætiological, genealogical,
and other myths, crystallised into his legend.

An extremely wild legend of Zeus was current among the Galatæ, where
Pausanias expressly calls it a "local myth," differing from the Lydian
variant. Zeus in his sleep became, by the earth, father of Attes, Va
being both male and female in his nature. Agdistis was the local name of
this enigmatic character, whom the gods feared and mutilated. From the
blood grew up, as in so many myths, an almond tree. The daughter of
Sangarius, Nana, placed some of the fruit in her bosom, and thereby
became pregnant, like the girl in the Kalewala by the berry, or the
mother of Huitzilopochtli, in Mexico, by the floating feather. The
same set of ideas recurs in Grimm's _Märchen Machandelhoom_,* if we may
suppose that in an older form the juniper tree and its berries aided
the miraculous birth.** It is customary to see in these wild myths a
reflection of the Phrygian religious tradition, which leads up to the
birth of Atys, who again is identified with Adonis as a hero of the
spring and the reviving year. But the story has been introduced in
this place as an example of the manner in which floating myths from all
sources gravitate towards one great name and personality, like that of
Zeus. It would probably be erroneous to interpret these and many
other myths in the vast legend of Zeus, as if they had originally and
intentionally described the phenomena of the heavens. They are, more
probably, mere accretions round the figure of Zeus conceived as a
personal god, a "magnified non-natural man".***

     *  Mrs. Hunt's translation, i. 187.

     **  For parallels to this myth in Chinese, Aztec, Indian,
     Phrygian and other languages, see _Le Fils de la Vierge_, by
     M. H. de Charency, Havre, 1879.   See also "Les Deux Freres"
     in M. Maspero's _Contes Egyptians_

     ***As to the Agdistis myth, M. de Charency writes (after
     quoting forms of the tale from all parts of the world),
     "This resemblance between different shapes of the same
     legend, among nations separated by such expanses of land and
     sea, may be brought forward as an important proof of the
     antiquity of the myth, as well as of the distant date at
     which it began to be diffused".

Another example of local accretion is the fable that Zeus, after
carrying off Ganymede to be his cupbearer, made atonement to the
royal family of Troy by the present of a vine of gold fashioned by
Hephaestus.* The whole of the myth of Callisto, again, whom Zeus loved,
and who bore Areas, and later was changed into a bear, and again into
a star, is clearly of local Arcadian origin. If the Arcadians, in very
remote times, traced their descent from a she-bear, and if they also,
like other races, recognised a bear in the constellation, they would
naturally mix up those fables later with the legend of the all-powerful

     * Scholia on _Odyssey_, xL 521; Iliad, xx. 234; Eurip.,
     Orestes, 1392, and Scholiast quoting the _Little Iliad_.

     **  Compare C. O. Müller, _Introduction to a Scientific
     System of Mythology_, London, 1884, pp. 16,17; Pausaniaa, i
     25, 1, viii. 35, 7.

So far we have studied some of the details in the legend of Zeus which
did not conspicuously win their way into the national literature. The
object has been to notice a few of the myths which appear the most
ancient, and the most truly native and original. These are the
traditions preserved in mystery-plays, tribal genealogies, and temple
legends, the traditions surviving from the far off period of the village
Greeks. It has already been argued, in conformity with the opinion of C.
O. Müller, that these myths are most antique and thoroughly local. "Any
attempt to explain these myths in order, such, for instance, as we now
find them in the collection of Apollodorus, as a system of thought
and knowledge, must prove a fruitless task." Equally useless is it to
account for them all as stories originally told to describe, consciously
or unconsciously, or to explain any atmospheric and meteorological
phenomena. Zeus is the bright sky; granted, but the men who told how he
became an ant, or a cuckoo, or celebrated a sham wedding with a wooden
image, or offered Troy a golden vine, "the work of Hephaestus," like
other articles of jewellery, were not thinking of the bright sky when
they repeated the story. They were merely strengthening some ancient
family or tribal tradition by attaching it to the name of a great,
powerful, personal being, an immortal. This being, not the elemental
force that was Zeus, not the power "making for righteousness" that is
Zeus, not the pure spiritual ruler of the world, the Zeus of philosophy,
is the hero of the myths that have been investigated.

In the tales that actually won their way into national literature,
beginning with Homer, there is observable the singular tendency to
combine, in one figure, the highest religious ideas with the fables of a
capricious, and often unjust and lustful supernatural being. Taking the
myths first, their contrast with the religious conception of Zeus will
be the more remarkable.

Zeus is the king of all gods and father of some, but he cannot keep his
subjects and family always in order. In the first book of the _Iliad_,
Achilles reminds his mother, the sea-nymph Thetis, how she once "rescued
the son of Cronus, lord of the storm-clouds, from shameful wreck, when
all other Olympians would have bound him, even Hera, and Poseidon, and
Pallas Athene ". Thetis brought the hundred-handed Briareus to the help
of the outnumbered and over-mastered Zeus. Then Zeus, according to
the Scholiast, hung Hera out of heaven in chains, and gave Apollo
and Poseidon for slaves to Laomedon, king of Troy. So lively was the
recollection of this _coup d'etat_ in Olympus, that Hephaestus implores
Hera (his mother in Homer) not to anger Zeus, "lest I behold thee, that
art so dear, chastised before mine eyes, and then shall I not be able to
save thee for all my sorrow".* He then reminds Hera how Zeus once
tossed him out of heaven (as the Master of Life tossed Ataentsic in the
Iroquois myth), and how he fell in Lemnos, "and little life was left in
me". The passage is often interpreted as if the fall of Hephaestus, the
fire-god, were a myth of lightning; but in Homer assuredly the incident
has become thoroughly personal, and is told with much humour. The
offence of Hera was the raising of a magic storm (which she could do as
well as any Lapland witch) and the wrecking of Heracles on Cos. For
this she was chained and hung out of heaven, as on the occasion already

     * Iliad, i. 587.

     ** Ibid.,   590;    Scholia,   xiv.   255.     The   myth
     is   derived   from Pherecydes.

The constant bickerings between Hera and Zeus in the _Iliad_ are merely
the reflection in the upper Olympian world of the wars and jealousies of
men below. Ilios is at war with Argos and Mycenae, therefore the chief
protecting gods of each city take part in the strife. This conception is
connected with the heroic genealogies. Noble and royal families, as in
most countries, feigned a descent from the gods. It followed that Zeus
was a partisan of his "children," that is, of the royal houses in the
towns where he was the most favoured deity. Thus Hera when she sided
with Mycenæ had a double cause of anger, and there is an easy answer to
the question, _quo numine læso?_ She had her own townsmen's quarrel to
abet, and she had her jealousy to incite her the more; for to become
father of the human families Zeus must have been faithless to her.
Indeed, in a passage (possibly interpolated) of the fourteenth _Iliad_
he acts as his own Leporello, and recites the list of his conquests.
The Perseidæ, the Heraclidæ, the Pirithoidæ, with Dionysus, Apollo and
Artemis spring from the amours there recounted.* Moved by such passions,
Hera urges on the ruin of Troy, and Zeus accuses her of a cannibal
hatred. "Perchance wert thou to enter within the gates and long walls,
and devour Priam raw, and Priam's sons, and all the Trojans, then
mightest thou assuage thine anger."** That great stumbling-block of
Greek piety, the battle in which the gods take part,*** was explained as
a physical allegory by the Neo-Platonists.**** It is in reality only a
refraction of the wars of men, a battle produced among the heavenly folk
by men's battles, as the earthly imitations of rain in the Vedic ritual
beget rain from the firmament. The favouritism which Zeus throughout
shows to Athene***** is explained by that rude and ancient myth of her
birth from his brain after he had swallowed her pregnant mother.******

     * Pherecydes is the authority for the treble  night, in
     which  Zeus persuaded the sun not to rise when he wooed

     ** See the whole passage, Iliad, iv. 160.

     *** Ibid., v. 385.

     **** Scholia, ed. Dindorf, vol iii.; Ibid., v. 886.

     *****Ibid., v. 875.

     ****** Cf. "Hymn to Apollo Pythius," 136.

But Zeus cannot allow the wars of the gods to go on unreproved, and* he
asserts his power, and threatens to cast the offenders into Tartarus,
"as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above earth". Here the supremacy
of Zeus is attested, and he proposes to prove it by the sport called
"the tug of war". He says, "Fasten ye a chain of gold from heaven, and
all ye gods lay hold thereof, and all goddesses, yet could ye not drag
from heaven to earth Zeus, the supreme counsellor, not though ye strove
sore. But if once I were minded to drag with all my heart, then I could
hang gods and earth and sea to a pinnacle of Olympus."** The supremacy
claimed here on the score of strength, "by so much I am beyond gods and
men," is elsewhere based on primogeniture,*** though in Hesiod Zeus is
the youngest of the sons of Cronos. But there is, as usual in myth, no
consistent view, and Zeus cannot be called omnipotent. Not only is he
subject to fate, but his son Heracles would have perished when he went
to seek the hound of hell but for the aid of Athene.**** Gratitude for
his relief does not prevent Zeus from threatening Athene as well as
Hera with Tartarus, when they would thwart him in the interest of the
Achæans. Hera is therefore obliged to subdue him by the aid of love and
sleep, in that famous and beautiful passage,***** which is so frankly
anthropomorphic, and was such a scandal to religious minds.******

     * Iliad, viii. ad init.

     ** M. Decharme regards this challenge to the tug of war as a
     very noble and sublime assertion of supreme sovereignty.
     Myth, de la Greece, p. 19.

     *** Iliad, xv. 166.

     **** Ibid., viii. 369.         *****Ibid., adv. 160-350.

     ****** Schol. Iliad, xiv. 346; Dindorf, vol. iv. In the
     Scholiast's explanation the scene is an allegorical
     description of spring; the wrath of Hera is the remains of
     winter weather; her bath represents the April showers; when
     she busks her hair, the new leaves on the boughs, "the high
     leafy tresses of the trees," are intended, and so forth. Not
     to analyse the whole divine plot of the _Iliad_, such is
     Zeus in the mythical portions of the epic. He is the father
     and master of gods and men, and the strongest; but he may be
     opposed, he may be deceived and cajoled; he is hot-
     tempered, amorous, luxurious, by no means omnipotent or
     omniscient. He cannot avert even from his children the doom
     that Fate span into the threads at their birth; he is no
     more omniscient than omnipotent, and if he can affect the
     weather, and bring storm and cloud, so at will can the other
     deities, and so can any sorcerer, or Jossakeed, or Biraark
     of the lower races.

In Homeric religion, as considered apart from myth, in the religious
thoughts of men at solemn moments of need, or dread, or prayer, Zeus
holds a far other place. All power over mortals is in his hands, and is
acknowledged with almost the fatalism of Islam. "So meseems it pleaseth
mighty Zeus, who hath laid low the head of many a city, yea, and shall
lay low, for his is the highest power."* It is Zeus who gives sorrows to
men,** and he has, in a mythical picture, two jars by him full of evil
and good, which he deals to his children on earth. In prayer*** he is
addressed as Zeus, most glorious, most great, veiled in the storm-cloud,
that dwelleth in the heaven. He gives his sanction to the oath:****

     * _Iliad_, ii. 177.

     ** Ibid., 378.

     *** Ibid., 408.

     **** Ibid., iii 277.

"Thou sun, that seest all, Father Zeus, that rulest from Ida, most
glorious, most great, and things, and nearest all things, and ye rivers,
and thou earth, and ye that in the underworld punish men forsworn,
whosoever sweareth falsely, be ye witnesses, and watch over the faithful
oath". Again it is said: "Even if the Olympian bring not forth the
fulfilment" (of the oath) "at once, yet doth he fulfil at the last, and
men make dear amends, even with their own heads, and their wives and
little ones".* Again, "Father Zeus will be no helper of liars ".**

As to the religious sentiment towards Zeus of a truly devout man in
that remote age, Homer has left us no doubt. In Eumæus the swineherd of
Odysseus, a man of noble birth stolen into slavery when a child, Homer
has left a picture of true religion and undefiled. Eumæus attributes
everything that occurs to the will of the gods, with the resignation of
a child of Islam or a Scot of the Solemn League and Covenant.***
"From Zeus are all strangers and beggars," he says, and believes that
hospitality and charity are well pleasing in the sight of the Olympian.
When he flourishes, "it is God that increaseth this work of mine whereat
I abide". He neither says "Zeus" nor "the gods," but in this passage
simply "god". "Verily the blessed gods love not froward deeds, but they
reverence justice and the righteous acts of men;" yet it is "Zeus that
granteth a prey to the sea-robbers". It is the gods that rear Telemachus
like a young sapling, yet is it the gods who "mar his wits within him"
when he sets forth on a perilous adventure. It is to Zeus Cronion that
the swineherd chiefly prays,**** but he does not exclude the others from
his supplication.*****

* _Iliad_, iv. 160.

** Ibid., iv. 236.

*** _Odyssey_, xiv. passim,

**** Ibid., 406.

***** _Odyssey_, iv. 423.

Being a man of scrupulous piety, when he slays a swine for supper, he
only sets aside a seventh portion "for Hermes and the nymphs" who
haunt the lonely uplands.** Yet his offering has no magical intent
of constraining the immortals. "One thing God will give, and another
withhold, even as he will, for with him all things are possible."***

Such is a Homeric ideal of piety, and it would only gain force from
contrast with the blasphemy of Aias, "who said that in the god's despite
he had escaped the great deep of the sea ".****

     ** Ibid., xiv. 435.

     *** Ibid., 444, 445.

     **** Ibid., iv. 504.

The epics sufficiently prove that a noble religion may coexist with a
wild and lawless mythology. That ancient sentiment of the human heart
which makes men listen to a human voice in the thunder and yearn for
immortal friends and helpers, lives its life little disturbed by the
other impulse which inspires men when they come to tell stories and
romances about the same transcendent beings.

As to the actual original form of the faith in Zeus, we can only make
guesses. To some it will appear that Zeus was originally the clear
bright expanse which was taken for an image or symbol of the infinite.
Others will regard Zeus as the bright sky, but the bright sky conceived
of in savage fashion, as a being with human parts and passions, a being
with all the magical accomplishments of metamorphosis, rain-making
and the rest, with which the medicine-man is credited. A third set
of mythologists, remembering how gods and medicine-men have often
interchangeable names, and how, for example, the Australian Biraark, who
is thought to command the west wind, is himself styled "West Wind," will
derive Zeus from the ghost of some ancestral sorcerer named "Sky". This
euhemerism seems an exceedingly inadequate explanation of the origin
of Zeus. In his moral aspect Zeus again inherits the quality of that
supernatural and moral watcher of man's deeds who is recognised (as
we have seen) even by the most backward races, and who, for all we can
tell, is older than any beast-god or god of the natural elements. Thus,
whatever Zeus was in his earliest origin, he had become, by the time we
can study him in ritual, poem or sacred chapter, a complex of qualities
and attributes, spiritual, moral, elemental, animal and human.

It is curious that, on our theory, the mythical Zeus must have morally
degenerated at a certain period as the Zeus of religion more and
more approached the rank of a pure and almost supreme deity. On
our hypothesis, it was while Greece was reaching a general national
consciousness, and becoming more than an aggregate of small local
tribes, that Zeus attracted the worst elements of his myth. In deposing
or relegating to a lower rank a crowd of totems and fetishes and
ancestral ghosts, he inherited the legends of their exploits. These were
attached to him still more by the love of genealogies derived from the
gods. For each such pedigree an amour was inevitably invented, and,
where totems had existed, the god in this amour borrowed the old bestial
form. For example, if a Thessalian stock had believed in descent from an
ant, and wished to trace their pedigree to Zeus, they had merely to say,
"Zeus was that ant". Once more, as Zeus became supreme among the other
deities of men in the patriarchal family condition, those gods were
grouped round him as members of his family, his father, mother,
brothers, sisters, wife, mistresses and children. Here was a noble
field in which the mythical fancy might run riot; hence came stories
of usurpations, rebellions, conjugal skirmishes and jealousies, a whole
world of incidents in which humour had free play. Nor would foreign
influences be wanting. A wandering Greek, recognising his Zeus in a
deity of Phoenicia or Babylon, might bring home some alien myth which
would take its place in the general legend, with other myths imported
along with foreign objects of art, silver bowls and inlaid swords. Thus
in all probability grew the legend of the Zeus of myth, certainly a
deplorable legend, while all the time the Greek intellect was purifying
itself and approaching the poetical, moral and philosophical conception
of the Zeus of religion. At last, in the minds of the philosophically
religious, Zeus became pure deity, and the details of the legend were
explained away by this or that system of allegory; while in the minds
of the sceptical, Zeus yielded his throne to the "vortex" of the
Aristophanic comedy. Thus Zeus may have begun as a kindly supreme being;
then ætiological and totemistic myths may have accrued to his legend,
and, finally, philosophic and pious thought introduced a rational
conception of his nature. But myth lived on, ritual lived on, and human
victims were slain on the altars of Zeus till Christianity was the
established religion. "Solet it be," says Pausanias, "as it hath been
from the beginning."

The gods who fill the court of Zeus and surround his throne are so
numerous that a complete account of each would exceed the limits of our
space. The legend of Zeus is typical, on the whole, of the manner in
which the several mythical chapters grew about the figures of each of
the deities. Some of these were originally, it is probable, natural
forces or elemental phenomena, conceived of at first as personal beings;
while, later, the personal earth or sun shaded off into the informing
genius of the sun or earth, and still later was almost freed from all
connection with the primal elemental phenomenon or force. In these
processes of evolution it seems to have happened occasionally that the
god shed, like a shell or chrysalis, his original form, which continued
to exist, however, as a deity of older family and inferior power. By
such processes, at least, it would not be difficult to explain the
obvious fact that several gods have "under-studies" of their parts
in the divine comedy. It may be well to begin a review of the gods by
examining those who were, or may be supposed to have been, originally
forces or phenomena of Nature.


This claim has been made for almost all the Olympians, but in some cases
appears more plausible than in others. For example, Apollo is regarded
as a solar divinity, and the modes in which he attained his detached
and independent position as a brilliant anthropomorphic deity, patron
of art, the lover of the nymphs, the inspirer of prophecy, may have been
something in this fashion. First the sun may have been regarded (in the
manner familiar to savage races) as a personal being. In Homer he is
still the god "who sees and hears all things,"* and who beholds and
reveals the loves of Ares and Aphrodite. This personal character of the
sun is well illustrated in the Homeric hymn to Hyperion, the sun that
dwells on high, where, as Mr. Max Müller says, "the words would seem to
imply that the poet looked upon Helios as a half-god, almost as a hero,
who had once lived upon earth".** It has already been shown that this
mythical theory of the origin of the sun is met with among the Aztecs
and the Bushmen.*** In Homer, the sun, Helios Hyperion, though he sees
and hears all things,**** needs to be informed by one of the nymphs that
the companions of Odysseus have devoured his sacred cattle. In the same
way the supreme Baiame of Australia needs to ask questions of mortals.
Apollo then speaks in the Olympian assembly, and threatens that if he is
not avenged he will "go down to Hades and shine among the dead". The
sun is capable of marriage, as in the Bulgarian _Volkslied_, where he
marries a peasant girl,***** and, by Perse, he is the father of Circe
and Æetes.******

     * _Odyssey_, viii. 270.

     **  _Selected Essays_, i. 605, note 1.

     *** "Nature Myths," antea.

     **** _Iliad_, iii. 277.

     ***** Dozon, _Chansons Bulgares_.

     ****** _Odyssey_, x. 139.

According to the early lyric poet Stesichorus, the sun sails over ocean
in a golden cup or bowl. "Then Helios Hyperionides went down into his
golden cup to cross Ocean-stream, and come to the deeps of dark and
sacred Night, to his mother, and his wedded wife, and his children
dear." This belief, in more barbaric shape, still survives in the Greek
islands.* "The sun is still to them a giant, like Hyperion, bloodthirsty
when tinged with gold. The common saying is that the sun 'when he
seeks his kingdom' expects to find forty loaves prepared for him by
his mother.... Woe to her if the loaves be not ready! The sun eats his
brothers, sisters, father and mother in his wrath."** A well-known amour
of Helios was his intrigue with Rhode by whom he had Phaethon and his
sisters. The tragedians told how Phaethon drove the chariot of the sun,
and upset it, while his sisters were turned into poplar trees, and their
tears became amber.***

     * Bent's _Cyclades_, p. 57.

     ** Stesichorus, _Poetæ Lyrici Græci_, Pomtow, vol. i. p.
     148; qf. also Mimnermus, op. cit.,i. 78.

     *** _Odyssey_, xvii. 208; Scholiast. The story is ridiculed
     by Lucian, De Electro.

Such were the myths about the personal sun, the hero or demigod, Helios
Hyperion. If we are to believe that Apollo also is a solar deity, it
appears probable that he is a more advanced conception, not of the sun
as a person, but of a being who represents the sun in the spiritual
world, and who exercises, by an act of will, the same influence as the
actual sun possesses by virtue of his rays. Thus he brings pestilence
on the Achæans in the first book of the _Iliad_, and his viewless shafts
slay men suddenly, as sunstroke does. It is a pretty coincidence that a
German scholar, Otfried Müller, who had always opposed Apollo's claim
to be a sun-god, was killed by a sunstroke at Delphi. The god avenged
himself in his ancient home. But if this deity was once merely the sun,
it may be said, in the beautiful phrase of Paul de St. Victor, "Pareil a
une statue qui surgit des flammes de son moule, Apollo se degage vite du
soleil".* He becomes a god of manifold functions and attributes, and it
is necessary to exercise extreme caution in explaining any one myth of
his legend as originally a myth of the sun.** _Phoibos_ certainly means
"the brilliant" or "shining". It is, however, unnecessary to hold that
such epithets as _Lyceius, Lycius, Lycegenes_ indicate "light," and are
not connected, as the ancients, except Macrobius, believed, with the
worship of the wolf.*** The character of Apollo as originally a sun-god
is asserted on the strength not only of his names, but of many of his
attributes and his festivals. It is pointed out that he is the deity who
superintends the measurement of time.**** "The chief days in the year's
reckoning, the new and full moons and the seventh and twentieth days of
the month, also the beginning of the solar year, are reckoned Apolline."
That curious ritual of the Daphnephoria, familiar to many English people
from Sir Frederick Leighton's picture, is believed to have symbolised
the year. Proclus says that a staff of olive wood decorated with flowers
supported a central ball of brass beneath which was a smaller ball, and
thence little globes were hung.*****

     * _Homines et Dieux_, p. 11.

     ** There is no agreement nor certainty about the etymology
     and original meaning of the name Apollo. See Preller, Or.
     Myth., i. 189. "Comparative philologists have not yet
     succeeded in finding the true etymology of Apollo" (Max
     Müller, _Selected Essays_, i. 467).

     *** Compare Zeus Lyceius and his wolf-myths; compare also
     Roscher, _Ausfukrliches_ Lexikon, p. 423.

     **** _Sonnengott als Zeitordner_, Roscher, op. cit., p. 423.

     ***** Cf. Photius, Bibl.,321.

The greater ball means the sun, the smaller the moon, the tiny globes
the stars and the 365 laurel garlands used in the feast are understood
to symbolise the days. Pausanias* says that the ceremony was of extreme
antiquity. Heracles had once been the youth who led the procession, and
the tripod which Amphitryon dedicated for him was still to be seen
at Thebes in the second century of our era. Another proof of Apollo's
connection with the sun is derived from the cessation of his rites at
Delphi during the three winter months which were devoted to Dionysus.**
The sacred birthday feasts of the god are also connected with the year's
renewal.*** Once more, his conflict with the great dragon, the Pytho,
is understood as a symbol of the victory of light and warmth over the
darkness and cold of winter.

The discomfiture of a dragon by a god is familiar in the myth of the
defeat of Ahi or Vritra by Indra, and it is a curious coincidence that
Apollo, like Indra, fled in terror after slaying his opponent. Apollo,
according to the myth, was purified of the guilt of the slaying (a
ceremony unknown to Homer) at Tempe.**** According to the myth, the
Python was a snake which forbade access to the chasm whence rose the
mysterious fumes of divination. Apollo slew the snake and usurped the
oracle. His murder of the serpent was more or less resented by the
Delphians of the time.*****

     * i ix. 10, 4.

     ** Plutarch, Depa El. Delph., 9.

     *** Roscher, op. cit., p. 427.

     **** Proclus, Chresl, ed. Gaisford, p. 387; Homer, Hymn to
     Apollo, 122, 178; Apollod., i. 4, 3; Plutarch, Quæst.
     Groec., 12.

     ***** Apollod., Heyne, Observationes, p. 19. Compare the
     Scholiast on the argument to Pindar's Pythian odes.

The snake, like the other animals, frogs and lizards, in Andaman,
Australian and Iroquois myth, had swallowed the waters before its
murder.* Whether the legend of the slaying of the Python was or was not
originally an allegory of the defeat of winter by sunlight, it certainly
at a very early period became mixed up with ancient legal ideas and
local traditions. It is almost as necessary for a young god or hero to
slay monsters as for a young lady to be presented at court; and we may
hesitate to explain all these legends of an useful feat of courage as
nature-myths. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo Pythius, the monster is
called _Dracæna_, the female form of _drakon_. The Drakos and his wife
are still popular bogies in modern Greek superstition and folk-song.**

     * Preller, i. 194.

     ** Forchhammer takes the _Dracæna_ to be a violent winter
     torrent, dried up by the sun's rays. Cf. Decharme, Myth.
     Orec., p. 100. It is also conjectured that the snake is only
     the sacred serpent of the older oracle of the earth on the
     same site.   Æschylus, _Eumenides_, 2.

The monster is the fosterling of Hera in the Homeric hymn, and the bane
of flocks and herds. She is somehow connected with the fable of the
birth of the monster Typhoeus, son of Hera without a father. The Homeric
hymn derives _Pythius_, the name of the god, from (------), "rot," the
disdainful speech of Apollo to the dead monster, "for there the
pest rotted away beneath the beams of the sun". The derivation is a
_volks-etymologie_. It is not clear whether the poet connected in his
mind the sun and the god. The local legend of the dragon-slaying was
kept alive in men's minds at Delphi by a mystery-play, in which the
encounter was represented in action. In one version of the myth the
slavery of Apollo in the house of Admetus was an expiation of the
dragon's death.* Through many of the versions runs the idea that the
slaying of the serpent was a deed which required purification and almost
apology. If the serpent was really the deity of an elder faith, this
would be intelligible, or, if he had kinsfolk, a serpent-tribe in the
district, we could understand it. Apollo's next act was to open a new
spring of water, as the local nymph was hostile and grudged him her own.
This was an inexplicable deed in a sun god, whose business it is to dry
up rather than to open water-springs. He gave oracles out of the laurel
of Delphi, as Zeus out of the oaks of Dodona.** Presently Apollo changed
himself into a huge dolphin, and in this guise approached a ship of
the Cretan mariners.*** He guided, in his dolphin shape, the vessel to
Crisa, the port of Delphi, and then emerged splendid from the waters,
and filled his fane with light, a sun-god indeed Next, assuming the
shape of a man, he revealed himself to the Cretans, and bade
them worship him in his _Delphic_ seat as Apollo Delphinios, the

     * Eurip., Alcestis, Schol., line 1.

     ** Hymn, 215.

     *** Op. cit., 220-225.

Such is the ancient tale of the founding of the Delphic oracle, in which
gods, and beasts, and men are mixed in archaic fashion. It is open to
students to regard the dolphin as only one of the many animals whose
earlier worship is concentrated in Apollo, or to take the creature for
the symbol of spring, when seafaring becomes easier to mortals, or to
interpret the dolphin as the result of a _volks-etymologie_, in which
the name Delphi (meaning originally a hollow in the hills) was connected
with _delphis_, the dolphin.*

On the whole, it seems impossible to get a clear view of Apollo as a
sun-god from a legend built out of so many varied materials of different
dates as the myth of the slaying of the Python and the founding of the
Delphic oracle. Nor does the tale of the birth of the god--_les enfances
Apollon_--yield much more certain information. The most accessible and
the oldest form of the birth-myth is preserved in the Homeric hymn to
the Delian Apollo, a hymn intended for recital at the Delian festival of
the Ionian people.

The hymn begins without any account of the amours of Zeus and Leto; it
is merely said that many lands refused to allow Leto a place wherein to
bring forth her offspring. But barren Delos listened to her prayer, and
for nine days Leto was in labour, surrounded by all the goddesses, save
jealous Hera and Eilithyia, who presides over child-birth. To her Iris
went with the promise of a golden necklet set with amber studs, and
Eilithyia came down to the isle, and Leto, grasping the trunk of a palm
tree, brought forth Apollo and Artemis.**

Such is the narrative of the hymn, in which some interpreters, such
as M. Decharme, find a rich allegory of the birth of Light. Leto is
regarded as Night or Darkness, though it is now admitted that this
meaning cannot be found in the etymology of her name.***

     * Roscher, Lexikon; Preller, i. 208; Schol. ad Lycophr., v.

     ** Compare Theognis, 5-10.

     *** Preller, i. 190, note 4; Curtius, Gr. Æ, 120.

M. Decharme presumes that the palm tree (------) originally meant the
morning red, by aid of which night gives birth to the sun, and if the
poet says the young god loves the mountain tops, why, so does the star
of day. The moon, however, does not usually arise simultaneously with
the dawn, as Artemis was born with Apollo. It is vain, in fact, to look
for minute touches of solar myth in the tale, which rests on the womanly
jealousy of Hera, and explains the existence of a great fane and feast
of Apollo, not in one of the rich countries that refused his mother
sanctuary, but in a small barren and remote island.*

Among the wilder myths which grouped themselves round the figure of
Apollo was the fable that his mother Leto was changed into a wolf. The
fable ran that Leto, in the shape of a wolf, came in twelve days
from the Hyperboreans to Delos.** This may be explained as a
_volks-etymologie_ from the god's name, "Lycegenes," which is generally
held to mean "born of light". But the presence of very many animals
in the Apollo legend and in his temples, corresponding as it does to
similar facts already observed in the religion of the lower races, can
scarcely be due to popular etymologies alone. The Dolphin-Apollo has
already been remarked.

     * The French excavators in Delos found the original unhewn
     stone on which, in later days, the statue of the
     anthropomorphic god was based.

     **  Aristotle, Hist. An., vi 86; Elian., N. A., iv. 4;
     Schol. on Apol. Rhod., ii. 12

There are many traces of connection between Apollo and the wolf.
In Athens there was the Lyceum of Apollo Lukios, Wolf-Apollo, which
tradition connected with the primeval strife wherein Ægeus (goat-man)
defeated Lukios (wolfman). The Lukian Apollo was the deity of the
defeated side, as Athene of the Ægis (goat-skin) was the deity of the
victors.* The Argives had an Apollo of the same kind, and the wolf
was stamped on their coins.** According to Pausanias, when Danaus came
seeking the kingship of Argos, the people hesitated between him and
Gelanor. While they were in doubt, a wolf attacked a bull, and the
Argives determined that the bull should stand for Gelanor, the wolf for
Danaus. The wolf won; Danaus was made king, and in gratitude raised
an altar to _Apollo Lukios_, Wolf-Apollo. That is (as friends of the
totemic system would argue), a man of the wolf-stock dedicated a shrine
to the wolf-god.*** In Delphi the presence of a bronze image of a wolf
was explained by the story that a wolf once revealed the place where
stolen temple treasures were concealed. The god's beast looked after the
god's interest.**** In many myths the children of Apollo by mortal girls
were exposed, but fostered by wolves.***** In direct contradiction
with Pausanias, but in accordance with a common rule of mythical
interpretation, Sophocles****** calls Apollo "the wolf-slayer".

     * Paus., i. 19, 4.

     ** Preller, i. 202, note 3; Paus., ii. 19, 3.

     *** Encyc. Brit., s. v. "Sacrifice".

     **** Paus., x. 14, 4.

     ***** Ant. Lib., 30.

     ****** _Electra_, 6., 222

It has very frequently happened that when animals were found closely
connected with a god, the ancients explained the fact indifferently
by calling the deity the protector or the destroyer of the beasts in
question. Thus, in the case of Apollo, mice were held sacred and were
fed in his temples in the Troad and elsewhere, the people of Hamaxitus
especially worshipping mice.* The god's name, Smintheus, was understood
to mean "Apollo of the Mouse," or "Mouse-Apollo ".** But while Apollo
was thus at some places regarded as the patron of mice, other narratives
declared that he was adored as Sminthian because from mice he had freed
the country. This would be a perfectly natural explanation if the
vermin which had once been sacred became a pest in the eyes of later

Flies were in this manner connected with the services of Apollo. It has
already been remarked that an ox was sacrificed to flies near the
temple of Apollo in Leucas. The sacrifice was explained as a device for
inducing flies to settle in one spot, and leave the rest of the coast
clear. This was an expensive, and would prove a futile arrangement.
There was a statue of the Locust-Apollo (Parnopios) in Athena The
story ran that it was dedicated after the god had banished a plague of

     * Ælian, H. A., xii. 6.

     ** Strabo, xiii. 604.

     *** It is the explanation Preller gives of the Mouse-Apollo,
     i. 202.

     **** Paus., i. 24, 8; Strabo, xiii. 912.

A most interesting view of the way in which pious heathens of a late
age regarded Apollo's menagerie may be got from Plutarch's essay on the
Delphic responses. It is the description of a visit to Delphi. In the
hall of the Corinthians the writer and his friends examine the sacred
palm tree of bronze, and "the snakes and frogs in relief round the root
of the tree". "Why," said they, "the palm tree is not a marsh plant, and
frogs are not a Corinthian crest." And indeed one would think ravens and
swans, and hawks and wolves, and anything else than these reptiles
would be agreeable to the god. Then one of the visitors, Serapion, very
learnedly showed that Apollo was the sun, and that the sun arises
from water. "Still slipping into the story your lightings up and your
exhalations," cried Plutarch, and chaffed him, as one might chaff Kuhn,
or Schwartz, or Decharme, about his elemental interpretations. In fact,
the classical writers knew rather less than we do about the origin of
many of their religious peculiarities.

In connection with sheep, again, Apollo was worshipped as the ram
Apollo.* At the festival of the Carneia a ram was his victim.** These
facts are commonly interpreted as significant of the god's care for
shepherds and the pastoral life, a memory of the days when Apollo kept
a mortal's sheep and was the hind of Admetus of Thessaly. He had animal
names derived from sheep and goats, such as _Maloeis Tragios_.*** The
tale which made Apollo the serf and shepherd of mortal men is as old as
the _Iliad_,**** and is not easy to interpret, whether as a nature-myth
or a local legend. Laomedon, one of Apollo's masters, not only refused
him his wage, but threatened to put him in chains and sell him to
foreign folk across the sea, and to crop his ears with the blade of
bronze. These legends may have brought some consolation to the hearts of
free men enslaved. A god had borne like calamities, and could feel for
their affliction.

     * Karneios, from (Heyschius, s.v.), a ram.

     ** Theocritus, Idyll, v. 8a

     *** Preller, i. 215, note 1.

     **** ii. 766. xxi. 448.

To return to the beasts of Apollo, in addition to dolphins, mice, rams
and wolves, he was constantly associated with lizards (powerful totems
in Australia), cicalas, hawks, swans, ravens, crows, vultures, all of
which are, by mythologists, regarded as symbols of the sun-god, in one
or other capacity or function. In the _Iliad_,* Apollo puts on the gear
of a hawk, and flits on hawk's wings down Ida, as the Thlinkeet Yehl
does on the feathers of a crane or a raven.

     * xv. 287.

The loves of Apollo make up a long and romantic chapter in his legend.
They cannot all be so readily explained, as are many of the loves of
Zeus, by the desire to trace genealogical pedigrees to a god. It is on
this principle, however, that the birth of Ion, for example, is to be
interpreted. The ideal eponymous hero of the Ionian race was naturally
feigned to be the son of the deity by whose fatherhood all Ionians
became "brethren in Apollo". Once more, when a profession like that of
medicine was in the hands of a clan conceiving themselves to be of
one blood, and when their common business was under the protection of
Apollo, they inevitably traced their genealogy to the god. Thus the
medical clan of the Asclepiadæ, of which Aristotle was a member, derived
their origin from Asclepius or (as the Romans called him) Æsculapius.

So far everything in this myth appears natural and rational, granting
the belief in the amours of an anthropomorphic god. But the details of
the story are full of that _irrational_ element which is said to "make
mythology mythological". In the third Pythian ode Pindar sings how
Apollo was the lover of Coronis; how she was faithless to him with a
stranger. Pindar does not tell how the crow or the raven flew to Apollo
with the news, and how the god cursed the crow, which had previously
been white, that it should for ever be black. Then he called his sister,
Artemis, to slay the false nymph, but snatched from her funeral pyre the
babe Asclepius, his own begotten. This myth, which explains the colour
of the crow as the result of an event and a divine curse, is an example
of the stage of thought already illustrated in the Namaqua myth of
Heitsi Eibib, and the peculiarities which his curse attached to various
animals. There is also a Bushman myth according to which certain
blackbirds have white breasts, because some women once tied pieces
of white fat round their necks.* It is instructive to observe, as the
Scholiast on Pindar quotes Artemon, that Pindar omits the incident of
the crow as foolish and unworthy. Apollo, according to the ode, was
himself aware, in his omniscience, of the frailty of Coronis. But
Hesiod, a much earlier poet, tells the story in the usual way, with
the curse of the crow, and his consequent change of colour.** The whole
story, in its most ancient shape, and with the omissions suggested by
the piety of a later age, is an excellent example of the irrational
element in Greek myth, of its resemblance to savage myth, and of
the tendency of more advanced thought to veil or leave out features
revolting to pure religion.***

     * Bleek, _Bushman Folk-Lore_; Pindar, _Pyth_., iii, with
     notes of the Scholiast.

     ** Pindar, Estienne, Geneva, 1599, p. 219.

     *** For the various genealogies of Asclepius and a
     discussion of the authenticity of the Hesiodic fragments,
     see Roscher, _Lexikon_, pp. 615, 616.

The connection of Asclepius with the serpent was so close that he was
received into Roman religion in the form of a living snake, while dogs
were so intimately connected with his worship that Panofka believed
him to have been originally a dog-god (Roscher, p. 629, _Revue
Archeohgique_). In another myth Apollo succeeds to the paternal honours
of a totem. The Telmissians in Lycia claimed descent from Telmessus, who
was the child of an amour in which Apollo assumed the form of a dog. "In
this guise he lay with a daughter of Antenor." Probably the Lycians of
Telmissus originally derived their pedigree from a dog, _sans phrase_
and, later, made out that the dog was Apollo metamorphosed. This process
of veiling a totem, and explaining him away as a saint of the same name,
is common in modern India.*

     * Suidas, His authority is Dionysius of Chalcis 200 BC,
     See "Primitive Marriage in Bengal," Asiatic Quarterly,
     June, 1886.

The other loves of Apollo are numerous, but it may be sufficient to have
examined one such story in detail. Where the tale of the amour was not a
necessary consequence of the genealogical tendency to connect clans with
gods, it was probably, as Roscher observes in the case of Daphne, an
Ætiological myth. Many flowers and trees, for example, were nearly
connected with the worship and ritual of Apollo; among these were
notably the laurel, cypress and hyacinth. It is no longer possible to do
more than conjecture why each of these plants was thus favoured, though
it is a plausible guess that the god attracted into his service various
local tree-worships and plant-worships. People would ask why the deity
was associated with the flowers and boughs, and the answer would be
readily developed on the familiar lines of nature-myth. The laurel is
dear to the god because the laurel was once a girl whom he pursued with
his love, and who, to escape his embraces, became a tree. The hyacinth
and cypress were beautiful youths, dear to Apollo, and accidentally
slain by him in sport. After their death they became flowers. Such myths
of metamorphoses, as has been shown, are an universal growth of savage
fancy, and spring from the want of a sense of difference between men and

The legend of Apollo has only been slightly sketched, but it is obvious
that many elements from many quarters enter into the sum of his myths
and rites.** If Apollo was originally the sun-god, it is certain that
his influence on human life and society was as wide and beneficent as
that of the sun itself. He presides over health and medicine, and over
purity of body and soul. He is the god of song, and the hexameter,
which first resounded in his temples, uttered its latest word in the
melancholy music of the last oracle from Delphi:--

     Say to the king that the beautiful fane hath fallen asunder,
     Phoebus no more hath a sheltering roof nor a sacred cell,
     And the holy laurels are broken and wasted, and hushed is the wonder
     Of water that spake as it flowed from the deeps of the Delphian well.

          * See "Nature-Myths," antea. Schwartz, as usual, takes
          Daphne to be connected, not with the dawn, but with
          lightning. "Es ist der Gewitter-baum."   Der Ursprung der
          Mythologie, Berlin, 1860, pg. 160-162.

          ** For the influence of Apollo-worship on Greek
          civilisation, see Curtius's History qf Greece, English
          transl., vol. i. For a theory that Apollo answers to Mitra
          among "the Arians of Iran," see Duncker's History of
          Greece, vol, i. 173.

In his oracle he appears as the counsellor of men, between men and Zeus
he is a kind of mediator (like the son of Baiame in Australia, or of
Puluga in the Andaman isles), tempering the austerity of justice with
a yearning and kind compassion. He sanctifies the pastoral life by his
example, and, as one who had known bondage to a mortal, his sympathy
lightens the burden of the slave. He is the guide of colonists, he knows
all the paths of earth and all the ways of the sea, and leads wanderers
far from Greece into secure havens, and settles them on fertile shores.
But he is also the god before whom the Athenians first flogged and then
burned their human scapegoats.* His example consecrated the abnormal
post-Homeric vices of Greece. He is capable of metamorphosis into
various beasts, and his temple courts are thronged with images of frogs,
and mice, and wolves, and dogs, and ravens, over whose elder worship he
throws his protection. He is the god of sudden death; he is amorous and
revengeful. The fair humanities of old religion boast no figure more
beautiful; yet he, too, bears the birthmarks of ancient creeds, and
there is a shadow that stains his legend and darkens the radiance of his

     * At the Thergelia.    See Meursius, Græcia Feriata.


If Apollo soon disengages himself from the sun, and appears as a deity
chiefly remarkable for his moral and prophetic attributes, Artemis
retains as few traces of any connection with the moon. "In the
development of Artemis may most clearly be distinguished," says Claus,
the progress of the human intellect from the early, rude, and, as
it were, natural ideas, to the fair and brilliant fancies of poets and

     * De Dianæ Antiguisstma apud Græcos Natura, Vratialaviæ,

There is no goddess more beautiful, pure and maidenly in the poetry of
Greece. There she shines as the sister of Apollo; her chapels are in the
wild wood; she is the abbess of the forest nymphs, "chaste and fair",
the maiden of the precise life, the friend of the virginal Hippolytus;
always present, even if unseen, with the pure of heart.* She is like
Milton's lady in the revel route of the _Comus_, and among the riot of
Olympian lovers she alone, with Athene, satisfies the ascetic longing
for a proud remoteness and reserve. But though it is thus that the poets
dream of her, from the author of the _Odyssey_ to Euripides, yet
the local traditions and cults of Artemis, in many widely separated
districts, combine her worship and her legend with hideous cruelties,
with almost cannibal rites, with relics of the wild worship of
the beasts whom, in her character as the goddess of the chase, she
"preserves" rather than protects. To her human victims are sacrificed;
for her bears, deer, doves, wolves, all the tameless herds of the hills
and forests are driven through the fire in Achaea. She is adored
with bear-dances by the Attic girls; there is a gloomy Chthonian or
sepulchral element in her worship, and she is even blended in ritual
with a monstrous many-breasted divinity of Oriental religion. Perhaps it
is scarcely possible to separate now all the tangled skeins in the mixed
conception of Artemis, or to lay the finger on the germinal conception
of her nature. "Dark," says Schreiber, "is the original conception,
obscure the meaning of the name of Artemis."**

     * Hippolytus, Eurip., 73-87.

     ** Roscher's Lexikon, s. v.

It is certain that many tribal worships are blended in her legend and
each of two or three widely different notions of her nature may be
plausibly regarded as the most primitive. In the attempt to reach the
original notion of Artemis, philology offers her distracting aid and her
competing etymologies. What is the radical meaning of her name? On
this point Claus* has a long dissertation. In his opinion Artemis
was originally (as Dione) the wife, not the daughter, of Zeus, and he
examines the names Dione, Diana, concluding that Artemis, Dione and
Diana are essentially one, and that Diana is the feminine of Janus
(Djanus), corresponding to the Greek. As to the etymology of Artemis,
Curtis wisely professes himself uncertain.** A crowd of hypotheses have
been framed by more sanguine and less cautious etymologists. Artemis has
been derived from "safe," "unharmed," "the stainless maiden ". Goebel,3
suggests the root _arpar_ or _par_, "to shake," and makes Artemis
mean the thrower of the dart or the shooter. But this is confessedly
conjectural. The Persian language has also been searched for the root
of Artemis, which is compared with the first syllables in Artaphernes,
Artaxerxes, Artaxata, and so forth. It is concluded that Artemis would
simply mean "the great goddess ". Claus again, returning to his theory
of Artemis as originally the wife of Zeus, inclines to regard her as
originally the earth, the "mighty mother".****

     * Roscher's Lexikon, s. v., p. 7.

     ** Etym. Or,, 5th ed., p. 556.

     *** Lexilogus, i. 554.

     **** For many other etymologies of Artemis, see Roscher's
     Lexikon, p. 558. Among these is "she who cuts the air". Even
     the bear, has occurred to inventive men.

As Schreiber observes, the philological guesses really throw no light
on the nature of Artemis. Welcker, Preller and Lauer take her for the
goddess of the midnight sky, and "the light of the night".* Claus, as
we have seen, is all for night, not light; for "Night is identical in
conception with the earth"--night being the shadow of earth, a fact
probably not known to the very early Greeks. Claus, however, seems well
inspired when he refuses to deduce all the many properties, myths and
attributes of Artemis from lunar aspects and attributes. The smallest
grain of ingenuity will always suffice as the essential element in this
mythological alchemy, this "transmutation" of the facts of legend into
so many presumed statements about any given natural force or phenomenon.

From all these general theories and vague hypotheses it is time to
descend to facts, and to the various local or tribal cults and myths of
Artemis. Her place in the artistic poetry, which wrought on and purified
those tales, will then be considered. This process is the converse of
the method, for example, of M. Decharme. He first accepts the "queen and
huntress, chaste and fair," of poetry, and then explains her local myths
and rituals as accidental corruptions of and foreign additions to that

The Attic and Arcadian legends of Artemis are confessedly among the

     * Welcker, Oriechische Gotterlehre, i. 561, Gottingen, 1867;
     Preller, i. 239.

     ** Roscher, Lexikon, 580.

Both in Arcadia and Attica, the goddess is strangely connected with that
animal worship, and those tales of bestial metamorphosis, which are the
characteristic elements of myths and beliefs among the most backward

The Arcadian myth of Artemis and the she-bear is variously narrated.
According to Pausanias, Lycaon, king of Arcadia, had a daughter,
Callisto, who was loved by Zeus. Hera, in jealous wrath, changed
Callisto into a she-bear; and Artemis, to please Hera, shot the beast.
At this time the she-bear was pregnant with a child by Zeus, who sent
Hermes to save the babe, Areas, just as Dionysus was saved at the
burning of Semele and Asclepius at the death of his mother, whom Apollo
slew. Zeus then transformed Callisto into a constellation, the bear.*
No more straightforward myth of descent from a beast (for the Arcadians
claimed descent from Areas, the she-bear's son) and of starry or bestial
metamorphosis was ever told by Cahrocs or Kamilaroi. Another story ran
that Artemis herself, in anger at the unchastity of Callisto, caused her
to become a bear. So the legend ran in a Hesiodic poem, according to the
extract in Eratosthenes.**

     * Paus., viii. 3, 5.

     ** O. Müller, Engl. transl., p. 15; Catast., i.; Apollodor.,
     iii. 82; Hyginus, 176, 177. A number of less important
     references are given in Bachofen's Der Bar in den Religionen
     des Alterthums.

Such is the ancient myth, which Otfried Müller endeavours to explain by
the light of his lucid common sense, without the assistance which we
can now derive from anthropological research. The nymph Callisto, in his
opinion, is a mere refraction from Artemis herself, under her Arcadian
and poetic name of Calliste, "the most beautiful". Hard by the tumulus
known as the grave of Callisto was a shrine, Pausanias tells us, of
Artemis _Calliste_.* Pamphos, he adds, was the first poet known to him
who praised Artemis by this title, and he learned it from the Arcadians.
Müller next remarks on the attributes of Artemis in Athens, the Artemis
known as Brauronia. "Now," says he, "we set out from this, that the
circumstance of the goddess who is served at Brauron by she-bears having
a friend and companion changed into a bear, cannot possibly be a freak
of chance, but that this metamorphosis has its foundation in the fact
that the animal was sacred to the goddess."

It will become probable that the animal actually was mythically
identified with the goddess at an extremely remote period, or, at all
events, that the goddess succeeded to, and threw her protection over, an
ancient worship of the animal.

Passing then from Arcadia, where the friend of the goddess becomes a
she-bear, to Brauron and Munychia in Attica, we find that the local
Artemis there, an Artemis connected by legend with the fierce Taurian
goddess, is served by young girls, who imitate, in dances, the gait of
bears, who are called little bears, apktoi, and whose ministry is named
aptcreia, that is, "a playing the bear". Some have held that the girls
once wore bear-skins.**

     * Paus., viii. 3.

     ** Claus, op. cit., p. 76. [Suchier, De Dian Brauron, p.
     33.] The bearskin seems later to have been exchanged for a
     saffron raiment. Compare Harpokration, Aristophanes,
     _Lysistrata_, 646. The Scholiast on that passage collects
     legendary explanations, setting forth that the rites were
     meant to appease the goddess for the slaying of a tame bear
     [cf. Apostolius, vii. 10]. Mr. Parnell has collected all the
     lore in his work on the Cults of the Greek States.

Familiar examples in ancient and classical times of this religious
service by men in bestial guise are the wolf-dances of the Hirpi or
"wolves," and the use of the ram-skin in Egypt and Greece.* These
Brauronian rites point to a period when the goddess was herself a
bear, or when a bear-myth accrued to her legend, and this inference is
confirmed by the singular tradition that she was not only a bear, but a
bear who craved for human blood.**

     * Servius. Jen. i. xi. 785. For a singular parallel in modern
     French folk-lore to the dance of the Hirpi, see Mannhardt,
     Wald und Feld Qultus, ii 824, 825. For the ram, see
     Herodotus, ii. 42. In Thebes the ram's skin was in the
     yearly festival flayed, and placed on the statue of the god.
     Compare, in the case of the buzzard, Bancroft, iii. 168.
     Great care is taken in preserving the skin of the sacrificed
     totem, the buzzard, as it makes part of a sacred dress.

     ** Apostolius, viii. 19, vii. 10, quoted by O. Müller (cf.
     Welcker, i. 573).

The connection between the Arcadian Artemis, the Artemis of Brauron,
and the common rituals and creeds of totemistic worship is now, perhaps,
undeniably apparent. Perhaps in all the legend and all the cult of the
goddess there is no more archaic element than this. The speech of the
women in the _Lysistrata_, recalling the days of their childhood when
they "were bears," takes us back to a remote past when the tribes
settled at Brauron were bear-worshippers, and, in all probability,
claimed to be of the bear stock or kindred. Their distant descendants
still imitated the creature's movements in a sacred dance; and the
girls of Periclean Athens acted at that moment like the young men of the
Mandans or Nootkas in their wolf-dance or buffalo-dance. Two questions
remain unanswered: how did a goddess of the name of Artemis, and with
her wide and beneficent functions, succeed to a cult so barbarous? or
how, on the other hand, did the cult of a ravening she-bear develop into
the humane and pure religion of Artemis?

Here is a moment in mythical and religious evolution which almost
escapes our inquiry. We find, in actual historical processes, nothing
more akin to it than the relation borne by the Samoan gods to the
various animals in which they are supposed to be manifest. How did the
complex theory of the nature of Artemis arise? what was its growth? at
what precise hour did it emancipate itself on the whole from the
lower savage creeds? or how was it developed out of their unpromising
materials? The science of mythology may perhaps never find a key to
these obscure problems.*

     * The symbolic explanation of Bachofen, Claus and others is
     to the effect that the she-bear (to take that case) is a
     beast in which the maternal instinct is very strong, and
     apparently that the she-bear, deprived of her whelps, is a
     fit symbol of a goddess notoriously virginal, and without

The goddess of Brauron, succeeding probably to the cult of a she-bear,
called for human blood. With human blood the Artemis Orthia of Sparta
was propitiated. Of this goddess and her rights Pausanias tells a very
remarkable story. The image of the goddess, he declares, is barbarous;
which probably means that even among the archaic wooden idols of Greece
it seemed peculiarly savage in style. Astrabacus and Alopecus (the ass
and the fox), sons of Agis, are said to have found the idol in a bush,
and to have been struck mad at the sight of it. Those who sacrificed to
the goddess fell to blows and slew each other; a pestilence followed,
and it became clear that the goddess demanded human victims. "Her altar
must be drenched in the blood of men," the victim being chosen by lot.
Lycurgus got the credit of substituting the rite in which boys were
flogged before the goddess to the effusion of blood for the older human
sacrifices.* The Taurian Artemis, adored with human sacrifice, and
her priestess, Iphigenia, perhaps a form of the goddess, are familiar
examples of this sanguinary ritual.** Suchier is probably correct in
denying that these sacrifices are of foreign origin. They are closely
interwoven with the oldest idols and oldest myths of the districts least
open to foreign influence. An Achaean example is given by Pausanias.***
Artemis was adored with the offering of a beautiful girl and boy.
Not far from Brauron, at Halae, was a very ancient temple of Artemis
Tauropolos, in which blood was drawn from a man's throat by the edge
of the sword, clearly a modified survival of human sacrifice. The
whole connection of Artemis with Taurian rites has been examined by
Müller,**** in his _Orchomenos_***** Horns grow from the shoulders of
Artemis Tauropolos, on the coins of Amphipolis, and on Macedonian coins
she rides on a bull. According to Decharme,****** the Taurian Artemis,
with her hideous rites, was confused, by an accidental resemblance of
names, with this Artemis Tauropolos, whose "symbol" was a bull, and who
(whatever we may think of the symbolic hypothesis) used bulls as her
"vehicle" and wore bull's horns.

     * Paus., iii. 8,16. Cf. Müller, Dorians, book ii. chap. 9,
     6. Pausanias, viii. 23, 1, mentions a similar custom,
     ordained by the Delphian oracle, the flogging of women at
     the feast of Dionysus in Alea of Arcadia.

     ** Cf. Müller, Dorians, it 9, 6, and Claus, op. cit., cap.

     *** Paus., vii. 19.

     ****Op. cit., ii. 9, 6.

     ***** Ibid., p. 311. Qf. Euripides, Iph. Taur., 1424, and
     Roscher, Lexikon, p. 568.

     ****** Mythol. de la Grece, p. 137.

Müller, on the other hand,* believes the Greeks found in Tauria (i.e.,
Lemnos) a goddess with bloody "rites, whom they identified by reason of
those very human sacrifices, with their own Artemis Iphigenia". Their
own worship of that deity bore so many marks of ancient barbarism that
they were willing to consider the northern barbarians as its authors.
Yet it is possible that the Tauric Artemis was no more derived from the
Taurians than Artemis Æthiopia from the Æthiopians.

The nature of the famous Diana of the Ephesians, or Artemis of Ephesus,
is probably quite distinct in origin from either the Artemis of Arcadia
and Attica or the deity of literary creeds. As late as the time of
Tacitus** the Ephesians maintained that Leto's twins had been born in
their territory. "The first which showed themselves in the senate were
the Ephesians, declaring that Diana and Apollo were not born in the
island Delos, as the common people did believe; and there was in their
country a river called Cenchrius, and a wood called Ortegia, where
Latona, being great with child, and leaning against an olive tree which
is yet in that place, brought forth these two gods, and that by the
commandment of the gods the wood was made sacred."***

     * Mythol. de la Grece, ii. 9, 7.

     ** Annals, iii. 61.

     *** Greenwey's _Tacitus_, 1622.

This was a mere adaptation of the Delian legend, the olive (in Athens
sacred to Athene) taking the place of the Delian palm-tree. The real
Artemis of Ephesus, "the image that fell from heaven," was an Oriental
survival. Nothing can be less Greek in taste than her many-breasted
idol, which may be compared with the many-breasted goddess of the
beer-producing maguey plant in Mexico.*

The wilder elements in the local rites and myths of Diana are little if
at all concerned with the goddess in her Olympian aspect as the daughter
of Leto and sister of Apollo.    It is from this lofty rank that she
 descends in the national epic to combat on the Ilian
plain among warring gods and men. Claus has attempted, from a comparison
of the epithets applied to Artemis, to show that the poets of the Iliad
and the Odyssey take different views of her character. In the Iliad she
is a goddess of tumult and passion; in the Odyssey, a holy maiden with
the "gentle darts" that deal sudden and painless death. But in both
poems she is a huntress, and the death-dealing shafts are hers both in
Iliad and Odyssey. Perhaps the apparent difference is due to nothing but
the necessity for allotting her a part in that battle of the Olympians
which rages in the Iliad. Thus Hera in the Iliad addresses her thus:**
"How now! art thou mad, bold vixen, to match thyself against me? Hard
were it for thee to match my might, bow-bearer though thou art, since
against women Zeus made thee a lion, and giveth thee to slay whomso of
them thou wilt. Truly it is better on the mountains to slay wild beasts
and deer than to fight with one that is mightier than thou."

     * For an alabaster statuette of the goddess, see Roscher's
     Lexikon, p. 588

     ** Iliad, xxi. 481.

These taunts of Hera, who always detests the illegitimate children of
Zeus, doubtless refer to the character of Artemis as the goddess of
childbirth. Here she becomes confused with Ilithyia and with Hecate; but
it is unnecessary to pursue the inquiry into these details.*

Like most of the Olympians, Artemis was connected not only with
beast-worship, but with plant-worship. She was known by the names
Daphnæa and Cedreatis; at Ephesus not only the olive but the oak was
sacred to her; at Delos she had her palm tree. Her idol was placed in or
hung from the branches of these trees, and it is not improbable that she
succeeded to the honours either of a tree worshipped in itself and for
itself, or of the spirit or genius which was presumed to dwell in and
inform it. Similar examples of one creed inheriting the holy things
of its predecessor are common enough where either missionaries, as in
Mexico and China, or the early preachers of the gospel in Brittany or
Scandinavia, appropriated to Christ the holy days of pagan deities and
consecrated fetish stones with the mark of the cross. Unluckily, we
have no historical evidence as to the moment in which the ancient tribal
totems and fetishes and sacrifices were placed under the protection of
the various Olympians, in whose cult they survive, like flies in amber.
But that this process did take place is the most obvious explanation
of the rude factors in the religion of Artemis, as of Apollo, Zeus or

     * Cf. Preller, i. 256, 257. Bacchylides make Hecate the
     daughter of "deep-bosomed Night". (40). The Scholiast on the
     second idyll of Theocritus, in which the sorceress appeals
     to the magic of the moon, makes her a daughter of Zeus and
     Demeter, and identified with Artemis. Here, more clearly
     than elsewhere, the Artemis appears _sub luce maligna_,
     under the wan uncertain light of the moon.

It was ever the tendency of Greek thought to turn from the contemplation
of dark and inscrutable things in the character of the gods and to endow
them with the fairest attributes. The primitive formless _Zoana_ give
place to the ideal statues of gold and ivory. The Artemis to whom a
fawn in a maiden's dress is sacrificed does not haunt the memory of
Euripides; his Artemis is fair and honourable, pure and maidenly, a
goddess wandering in lonely places unbeholden of man. It is thus, if one
may rhyme the speech of Hippolytus, that her votary addresses her:--

     For thee soft crowns in thine untrampled mead
     I weave, my lady, and to thee I bear;
     Thither no shepherd drives his flocks to feed,
     Nor scythe of steel has ever laboured there;
     Nay, through the spring among the blossoms fair
     The brown bee comes and goes, and with good heed
     Thy maiden, Reverence, sweet streams doth lead
     About the grassy close that is her care!
     Souls only that are gracious and serene
     By gift of God, in human lore unread,
     May pluck these holy blooms and grasses green
     That now I wreathe for thine immortal head,
     I who may walk with thee, thyself unseen,
     And by thy whispered voice am comforted.

In passages like this we find the truly _natural_ religion, the religion
to which man's nature tends, "groaning and travailing" till the goal
is won, But it is long in the winning; the paths are rough; humanity is
"led by a way that it knew not".


Among deities whose origin has been sought in the personification, if
not of the phenomena, at least of the forces of Nature, Dionysus is
prominent.* He is regarded by many mythologists** as the "spiritual
form" of the new vernal life, the sap and pulse of vegetation and of the
new-born year, especially as manifest in the vine and the juice of the
grape. Thus Preller*** looks on his mother, Semele, as a personification
of the pregnant soil in spring.**** The name of Semele is explained with
the familiar diversity of conjecture. Whether the human intellect, at
the time of the first development of myth, was capable of such abstract
thought as is employed in the recognition of a deity presiding over
"the revival of earth-life" or not, and whether, having attained to this
abstraction, men would go on to clothe it in all manner of animal and
other symbolisms, are questions which mythologists seem to take for
granted. The popular story of the birth of Dionysus is well known.

     * It is needless to occupy space with the etymological
     guesses at the sense of the name "Dionysus". Greek, Sanskrit
     and Assyrian have been tortured by the philologists, but
     refuse to give up their secret, and Curtis does not even
     offer a conjecture (Or. Etym., 609).

     ** Preller, i. 544.

     *** i. 546.

     **** The birth of Dionysus is recorded (Iliad, xiv. 323;
     Hesiod, Theog., 940) without the story of the death of
     Semele, which occurs in Æschylus, Frg., 217-218; Eurip.,
     Bacchæ, i. 3.

His mother, Semele, desired to see Zeus in all his glory, as he appeared
when he made love to Hera. Having promised to grant all the nymph's
requests, Zeus was constrained to approach her in thunder and lightning.
She was burned to death, but the god rescued her unborn child and
sowed him up in his own thigh. In this wild narrative Preller finds the
wedlock of heaven and earth, "the first day that it thunders in March".
The thigh of Zeus is to be interpreted as "the cool moist clouds". If,
on the other hand, we may take Dionysus himself to be the rain, as Kuhn
does, and explain the thigh of Zeus by comparison with certain details
in the soma sacrifice and the right thigh of Indra, as described in one
of the Brahmanas, why then, of course, Preller's explanation cannot be

     * Kuhn, Herabkunft, pp. 166, 167, where it appears that the
     gods buy soma and place it on the right thigh of Indra.

These examples show the difficulty, or rather indicate the error,
of attempting to interpret all the details in any myth as so
many statements about natural phenomena and natural forces. Such
interpretations are necessarily conjectural. Certainly Dionysus, the god
of orgies, of wine, of poetry, became in later Greek thought something
very like the "spiritual form" of the vine, and the patron of Nature's
moods of revelry. But that he was originally conceived of thus, or that
this conception may be minutely traced through each incident of his
legend, cannot be scientifically established. Each mythologist, as has
been said before, is, in fact, asking himself, "What meaning would I
have had if I told this or that story of the god of the vine or the god
of the year's renewal?" The imaginations in which the tale of the double
birth of Dionysus arose were so unlike the imagination of an erudite
modern German that these guesses are absolutely baseless. Nay, when
we are told that the child was sheltered in his father's body, and
was actually brought to birth by the father, we may be reminded, like
Bachofen, of that widespread savage custom, the _couvade_.

From Brazil to the Basque country it has been common for the father to
pretend to lie-in while the mother is in childbed; the husband undergoes
medical treatment, in many cases being put to bed for days.* This
custom, "world-wide," as Mr. Tylor calls it, has been used by Bachofen
as the source of the myth of the double birth of Dionysus. Though other
explanations of the _couvade_ have been given, the most plausible theory
represents it as a recognition of paternity by the father. Bachofen
compares the ceremony by which, when Hera became reconciled to Herakles,
she adopted him as her own through the legal fiction of his second
birth. The custom by which, in old French marriage rites, illegitimate
children were legitimised by being brought to the altar under the veil
of the bride is also in point.** Diodorus says that barbarians still
practise the rite of adoption by a fictitious birth. Men who returned
home safely after they were believed to be dead had to undergo a similar
ceremony.*** Bachofen therefore explains the names and myths of the
"double-mothered Dionysus" as relics of the custom of the _couvade_, and
of the legal recognition of children by the father, after a period of
kinship through women only.

     *** Tylor, Prim. Oult., I 94; Early History of Mankind, p.

     **  Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht, Stuttgart, 1861, p. 254.

     *** Plutarch, Quæst. Rom., 5.

This theory is put by Lucian in his usual bantering manner. Poseidon
wishes to enter the chamber of Zeus, but is refused admission by Hermes.

"Is Zeus _en bonne fortune?_" he asks.

"No, the reverse. Zeus has just had a baby."

"A baby! why there was nothing in his figure...! Perhaps the child was
born from his head, like Athene?"

"Not at all--his _thigh_; the child is Semele's."

"Wonderful God! what varied accomplishments! But who is Semele?"

"A Theban girl, a daughter of Cadmus, much noticed by Zeus."

"And so he kindly was confined for her?"


"So Zeus is both father and mother of the child?"

"Naturally! And now I must go and make him comfortable."*

     * Dial. Deor., xi.

We need not necessarily accept Bachofen's view. This learned author
employed indeed a widely comparative method, but he saw everything
through certain mystic speculations of his own. It may be deemed,
however, that the authors of the myth of the double birth of Dionysus
were rather in the condition of men who practise the _couvade_ than
capable of such vast abstract ideas and such complicated symbolism as
are required in the system of Preller. It is probable enough that the
struggle between the two systems of kindred--maternal and paternal--has
left its mark in Greek mythology. Undeniably it is present in the
_Eumenides_ of Æschylus, and perhaps it inspires the tales which
represent Hera and Zeus as emulously producing offspring (Athene and
Hephaestus) without the aid of the opposite sex.*

In any case, Dionysus, Semele's son, the patron of the vine, the
conqueror of India, is an enigmatic figure of dubious origin, but less
repulsive than Dionysus Zagreus.

Even among the adventures of Zeus the amour which resulted in the birth
of Dionysus Zagreus was conspicuous. "Jupiter ipse filiam incestavit,
natum hinc Zagreum."** Persephone, fleeing her hateful lover, took the
shape of a serpent, and Zeus became the male dragon. The story is on a
footing with the Brahmanic myth of Prajapati and his daughter as buck
and doe. The Platonists explained the legend, as usual, by their "absurd
symbolism ".***

The child of two serpents, Zagreus, was born, curious as it may seem,
with horns on his head. Zeus brought him up in secret, but Hera sent
the Titans to kill him. According to Clemens Alexandrinus**** and
other authorities, the Titans won his heart with toys, including the
bull-roarer or turn-dun of the Australians.**** His enemies, also in
Australian fashion, daubed themselves over with pipeclay.****** By these
hideous foes the child was torn to pieces, though, according to Nonnus,
he changed himself into as many beasts as Proteus by the Nile, or
Tamlane by the Ettrick.

     * Roscher's Lexikon, p. 1046.

     ** Lobeck, Aglaoph., p. 547, quoting Callimachus and

     *** Ibid., p. 550.

     **** Admon., p. 11; Nonnus, xxiv. 43; ap. Aglaoph., p. 555.

     ***** Custom and Myth, p. 39.

     ******Cf. Demosthenes, Pro. Or., 313; Lobeck, pp. 556, 646,

In his bull-shape, Zagreus was finally chopped up small, cooked (except
the heart), and eaten by the Titans.* Here we are naturally reminded of
the dismemberment of Osiris, Ymir, Purusha, Chokanipok and so many other
gods and beasts in Egypt, India, Scandinavia and America. This point
must not be lost sight of in the controversy as to the origin and date
of the story of Dionysus Zagreus. Nothing can be much more repulsive
than these hideous incidents to the genius, for example, of Homer.
He rarely tells anything worse about the gods than the tale of Ares'
imprisonment in the large bronze pot, an event undignified, indeed,
but not in the ferocious taste of the Zagreus legend. But it need not,
therefore, be decided that the story of Dionysus and the Titans is
later than Homer because it is inconsistent with the tone of Homeric
mythology, and because it is found in more recent authorities. Details
like the use of the "turn-dun" in the Dionysiac mysteries, and the
bodies of the celebrants daubed with clay, have a primitive, or at least
savage, appearance. It was the opinion of Lobeck that the Orphic poems,
in which the legend first comes into literature, were the work of

On the other hand, Müller argued that the myth was really archaic,
although it had passed through the hands of Onomacritus. On the strength
of the boast of the Delphian priests that they possessed the grave
in which the fragments of the god were buried, Müller believed that
Onomacritus received the story from Delphi.***

     * Proclus in Crat., p. 115.

     ** Aglaoph., p. 616.    "Onomacritum architectum istius

     *** Müller's Proleg., English transl., p. 319.

Müller writes,  "The way in which these Orphics went to work with
ancient myths can be most distinctly seen in the mythus of the _tearing
asunder of Bacchus_, which, at all events, passed _through_ the hands of
Onomacritus, an organiser of Dionysian orgies, according to Pausanias,
an author of Orphean poems also, and therefore, in all probability, an

The words of Pausanias are (viii. 37, 3), "Onomacritus, taking from
Homer the name of the Titans, established Dionysiac orgies, and
represented the Titans as the authors of the sorrows of the god".

Now it is perhaps impossible to decide with certainty whether, as Lobeck
held, Onomacritus "adapted" the myth, and the Delphians received it into
their religion, with rites purposely meant to resemble those of Osiris
in Egypt, or whether Müller more correctly maintains that Onomacritus,
on the other hand, brought an old temple mystery and "sacred chapter"
into the light of literature. But it may very plausibly be maintained
that a myth so wild, and so analogous in its most brutal details to the
myths of many widely scattered races, is more probably ancient than a
fresh invention of a poet of the sixth century. It is much more likely
that Greece, whether at Delphi or elsewhere, possessed a legend common
to races in distant continents, than that Onomacritus either invented
the tale or borrowed it from Egypt and settled it at Delphi. O. Müller
could not appeal to the crowd of tales of divine dismemberment in savage
and civilised lands, because with some he was unacquainted, and others
(like the sacrifice of Purusha, the cutting up of Omorca, the rending of
Ymir) do not seem to have occurred to his memory. Though the majority of
these legends of divine dismemberment are connected with the making of
the world, yet in essentials they do resemble the tale of Dionysus and
the Titans. Thus the balance of probability is in favour of the
theory that the myth is really old, and was borrowed, not invented, by
Onoma-critus.* That very shifty person may have made his own alterations
in the narrative, but it cannot be rash to say with O. Müller, "If it
has been supposed that he was the inventor of the entire fable, which
Pausa-nias by no means asserts, I must confess that I cannot bring
myself to think so. According to the notions of the ancients, it must
have been an unholy, an accursed man who could, from a mere caprice of
his own, represent the ever-young Dionysus, the god of joy, as having
been torn to pieces by the Titans." A reply to this might, no doubt, be
sought in the passages describing the influx of new superstitions which
are cited by Lobeck.** The Greek comic poets especially derided these
religious novelties, which corresponded very closely to our "Esoteric
Buddhism" and similar impostures. But these new mysteries and trumpery
cults of the decayed civilisation were things very different from the
worship of Dionysus Zagreus and his established sacrifices of oxen in
the secret penetralia of Delphi.***

     * Lobeck, Aglaoph., p. 671.

     ** Aglaoph., 625-630.

     *** Lycophron, 206, and the Scholiast.

It may be determined, therefore, that the tale and the mystery-play of
Dionysus and the Titans are, in essentials, as old as the savage state
of religion, in which their analogues abound, whether at Delphi
they were or were not of foreign origin, and introduced in times
comparatively recent. The fables, wherever they are found, are
accompanied by savage rites, in which (as in some African tribes when
the chief is about to declare war) living animals were torn asunder and
eaten raw. These horrors were a kind of representation of the sufferings
of the god. O. Müller may well observe,* "We can scarcely take
these rites to be new usages and the offspring of a post-Homeric
civilisation". These remarks apply to the custom of _nebrismus_, or
tearing fawns to pieces and dancing about draped in the fawn-skins.
Such rites were part of the Bacchic worship, and even broke out during
a pagan revival in the time of Valens, when dogs were torn in shreds by
the worshippers.**

Whether the antiquity of the Zagrean ritual and legend be admitted or
not, the problem as to their original significance remains. Although the
majority of heathen rites of this kind were mystery-plays, setting forth
in action some story of divine adventure or misadventure,*** yet Lobeck
imagines the story of Zagreus and the Titans to have been invented or
adapted from the Osiris legend, as an account of the mystic performances
themselves. What the myth meant, or what the furious actions of the
celebrants intended, it is only possible to conjecture.

     * Lycophrony p. 322.

     ** Theodoretus, ap. Lobeck, p. 653. Observe the number of
     examples of daubing with clay in the mysteries here adduced
     by Lobeck, and compare the Mandan tribes described by Catlin
     in O-Kee-Pa, Londou, 1867, and by Theal in Kaffir Folk-Lore.

     *** Lactantius, v. 19,15; Ovid, Fasti, iv. 211.

Commonly it is alleged that the sufferings of Dionysus are the ruin of
the summer year at the hands of storm and winter, while the revival
of the child typifies the vernal resurrection; or, again, the slain
Dionysus is the vintage. The old English song tells how "John Barleycorn
must die," and how potently he came back to life and mastered his
oppressors. This notion, too, may be at the root of "the passion of
Dionysus," for the grapes suffer at least as many processes of torture
as John Barleycorn before they declare themselves in the shape of strong
drink.* While Preller talks about the _tiefste Erd-und Naturschmerz_
typified in the Zagrean ritual, Lobeck remarks that Plato would be
surprised if he could hear these "drunken men's freaks" decoratively
described as _ein erhabene Naturdienst_.

     * Decharme, Mythologie de la Grece, p. 437, Compare Preller,
     i. 572 on tiefste Naturschmerz, and so forth.

Lobeck looks on the wild acts, the tearing of fawns and dogs, the
half-naked dances, the gnawing of raw bleeding flesh, as the natural
expression of fierce untutored folk, revelling in freedom, leaping and
shouting. But the odd thing is that the most civilised of peoples should
so long have retained the manners of _ingenia inculta et indomita_.
Whatever the original significance of the Dionysiac revels, that
significance was certainly expressed in a ferocious and barbaric
fashion, more worthy of Australians than Athenians.

On this view of the case it might perhaps be maintained that the germ
of the myth is merely the sacrifice itself, the barbaric and cruel
dismembering of an animal victim, which came to be identified with the
god. The sufferings of the victim would thus finally be transmuted into
a legend about the passion of the deity. The old Greek explanation that
the ritual was designed "in imitation of what befel the god" would need
to be reversed. The truth would be that the myth of what befel the god
was borrowed from the actual torture of the victim with which the god
was identified Examples of this mystic habit of mind, in which the slain
beast, the god, and even the officiating celebrant were confused in
thought with each other, are sufficiently common in ritual.*

     * As to the torch-dances of the Maenads, compare Roscher,
     Lexikon, p. 1041, and Mannhardt Wald und Feki Kultits, i.
     534, for parallels in European folk-lore.

The sacrifices in the ritual of Dionysus have a very marked character
and here more, commonly than in other Hellenic cults, the god and the
victim are recognised as essentially the same. The sacrifice, in fact,
is a sacrament, and in partaking of the victim the communicants eat
their god. This detail is so prominent that it has not escaped the
notice even of mythologists who prefer to take an ideal view of myths
and customs, to regard them as symbols in a nature-worship originally
pure. Thus M. Decharme says of the bull-feast in the Dionysiac cult,
"Comme le taureau est un des formes de Dionysos, c'etait le corps
du dieu dont se repaissaient les inities, c'etait son sang dont ils
s'abreuvaient dans ce banquet mystique". Now it was the peculiarity
of the Bac-chici who maintained these rites, that, as a rule, they
abstained from the flesh of animals altogether, or at least their
conduct took this shape when adopted into the Orphic discipline.* This
ritual, therefore, has points in common with the usages which appear
also to have survived into the cult of the ram-god in Egypt.** The
conclusion suggested is that where Dionysus was adored with this
sacrament of bull's flesh, he had either been developed out of, or
had succeeded to, the worship of a bull-totem, and had inherited his
characteristic ritual. Mr. Frazer, however, proposes quite a different
solution.*** Ours is rendered plausible by the famous Elean chant in
which the god was thus addressed: "Come, hero Dionysus, come with the
Graces to thy holy house by the shores of the sea; hasten with thy
bull-foot". Then the chorus repeated, "Goodly bull, goodly bull".****
M. Decharme publishes a cameo***** in which the god is represented as a
bull, with the three Graces standing on his neck, and seven stars in the
field. M. Decharme decides that the stars are the Pleiades, the Graces
the rays of the vernal sun, and Dionysus as a bull the symbol of the
vernal sun itself. But all such symbolical explanations are apt to be
mere private conjectures, and they are of no avail in face of the ritual
which, on the other hypothesis, is to be expected, and is actually
found, in connection with the bull Dionysus. Where Dionysus is not
absolutely called a bull, he is addressed as the "horned deity," the
"bull-horned," the "horned child".******

     * Lobeck, Aglaoph., i 244; Plato, Laws, vi. 782; Herodot,
     ii. 81. Porphyry says that this also was the rule of
     Pythagoras (Vita Pyth., 1630, p. 22).

     ** Herodot., ii. 42.

     *** Golden Bough, vol. ii.

     **** Plutarch, Qu. Or., 3d.

     ***** Op. cit., p. 431.

     ****** Clemens Alex., Adhort, ii. 15-18; Nonnus, vi. 264;
     Diodorus, iv. 4. 3. 64.

A still more curious incident of the Dionysiac worship was the sacrifice
of a booted calf, a calf with cothurns on its feet.* The people of
Tenedos, says Ælian, used to tend their goodliest cow with great care,
to treat it, when it calved, like a woman in labour, to put the calf in
boots and sacrifice it, and then to stone the sacrificer and drive him
into the sea to expiate his crime. In this ceremony, as in the Diipolia
at Athens, the slain bull is, as it were, a member of the blood-kindred
of the man who immolates him, and who has to expiate the deed as if it
were a murder.** In this connection it is worth remarking that Dionysus
Zagreus, when, according to the myth, he was attacked by the Titans,
tried to escape his enemies by assuming various forms. It was in the
guise of a bull that he was finally captured and rent asunder. The
custom of rending the living victims of his cult was carried so far
that, when Pentheus disturbed his mysteries, the king was torn piecemeal
by the women of his own family.*** The pious acquiescence of the author
of the so-called Theocritean idyll in this butchery is a curious example
of the conservatism of religious sentiment. The connection of Dionysus
with the bull in particular is attested by various ritual epithets, such
as "the bull," "bull-born,"**** "bull-horned," and "bull-browed".*****
He was also worshipped with sacrifice of he-goats; according to the
popular explanation, because the goat gnaws the vine, and therefore is
odious to the god.

     * Ælian., H. A.t xii. 34.

     ** O. Müller, Proleg., Engl, transl., 322, attributes the
     Tenedos Dionysus rites to "the Beotic Achsean emigrants".
     Gf, Aglaoph., 674-677.

     *** Theocritus, Idyll, xxvi.

     **** Pollux, iv. 86.

     ***** Athenaus, xi. 466, a.

The truth is, that animals, as the old commentator on Virgil remarks,
were sacrificed to the various gods, "_aut per similitudinem aut per
contrarietatem_" either because there was a community of nature between
the deity and the beast, or because the beast had once been sacred in
a hostile clan or tribe.* The god derived some of his ritual names from
the goat as well as from the bull According to one myth, Dionysus was
changed into a kid by Zeus, to enable him to escape the jealousy of
Hera.** "It is a peculiarity," says Voigt, "of the Dionysus ritual that
the god is one of his offering." But though the identity of the god and
the victim is manifest, the phenomenon is too common in religion to be
called peculiar.*** Plutarch**** especially mentions that "many of the
Greeks make statues of Dionysus in the form of a bull".

Dionysus was not only an animal-god, or a god who absorbed in his rights
and titles various elder forms of beast-worship. Trees also stood in the
same relation to him. As _Dendrites_, he is, like Artemis, a tree-god,
and probably succeeded to the cult of certain sacred trees; just as,
for example, St. Bridget, in Ireland, succeeded to the cult of the
fire-goddess and to her ceremonial.*****

     * Cf. Roscher, Lexikon, p. 1059; Robertson Smith on
     "Sacrifice," Encyc. Brit.

     ** Appolodorus, iii. 4, 9.

     *** "Dionysos selber. Stier Zicklein ist, und als Zagreus-
     kind selber, den Opfertod erleidet."   Ap. Roscher, p. 1059.

     **** De Is. et Os.

     ***** Elton, Origins of English History, p. 280, and the
     authorities there quoted.

Dionysus was even called "the god in the tree,"* reminding us of Artemis
Dendritis, and of the village gods which in India dwell in the peepul
or the bo tree.** Thus Pausanias*** tells us that, when Pentheus went
to spy on the Dionysiac mysteries, the women found him hidden in a tree,
and there and then tore him piecemeal. According to a Corinthian legend,
the Delphic oracle bade them seek this tree and worship it with no
less honour than the god (Dionysus) himself. Hence the wooden images of
Dionysus were made of that tree, the fig tree, _non ex quovis ligno_,
and the god had a ritual name, "The fig-tree Dionysus". In the idols the
community of nature between the god and the fig tree was expressed
and commemorated. An unhewn stump of wood was the Dionysus idol of the
rustic people.****

     * Hesychius.

     ** Cf. Roscher, p. 1062.

     *** ii. 2,5.

     **** Max. Tyr., 8, 1.

Certain antique elements in the Dionysus cult have now been sketched;
we have seen the god in singularly close relations with animal and plant
worship, and have noted the very archaic character of certain features
in his mysteries. Doubtless these things are older than the bright
anthropomorphic Dionysus of the poets--the beautiful young deity,
vine-crowned, who rises from the sea to comfort Ariadne in Tintoretto's
immortal picture. At his highest, at his best, Dionysus is the spirit
not only of Bacchic revel and of dramatic poetry, but of youth,
health and gaiety. Even in this form he retains something tricksy and
enigmatic, the survival perhaps of earlier ideas; or, again, it may be
the result of a more or less conscious symbolism. The god of the vine
and of the juice of the vine maketh glad the heart of man; but he also
inspires the kind of metamorphosis which the popular speech alludes
to when a person is said to be "disguised in drink". For this reason,
perhaps, he is now represented in art as a grave and bearded man, now as
a manly youth, and again as an effeminate lad of girlish loveliness. The
bearded type of the god is apparently the earlier; the girlish type may
possibly be the result merely of decadent art, and its tendency to a
sexless or bisexual prettiness.*

Turning from the ritual and local cults of the god, which, as has been
shown, probably retain the earlier elements in his composite nature,
and looking at his legend in the national literature of Greece, we find
little that throws any light on the origin and primal conception of his
character In the _Iliad_ Dionysus is not one of the great gods whose
politics sways Olympus, and whose diplomatic or martial interference is
exercised in the leaguer of the Achæans or in the citadel of Ilios. The
longest passage in which he is mentioned is _Iliad_, vi. 130, a passage
which clearly enough declares that the worship of Dionysus, or at least
that certain of his rites were brought in from without, and that his
worshippers endured persecution. Diomedes, encountering Glaucus in
battle, refuses to fight him if he is a god in disguise. "Nay, moreover,
even Dryas' son, mighty Lykourgos, was not for long when he strove with
heavenly gods; he that erst chased through the goodly land of Nysa the
nursing mothers of frenzied Dionysus; and they all cast their wands upon
the ground, smitten with murderous Lykourgos' ox-goad. Then Dionysus
fled, and plunged beneath the salt sea-wave, and Thetis took him to her
bosom, affrighted, for mighty trembling had seized him at his foe's
rebuke. But with Lykourgos the gods that live at ease were wroth, and
Kronos's son made him blind, and he was not for long, because he was
hated of all the immortal gods."

     * See Thræmer, in Roscher, pp. 1090-1143.

Though Dionysus is not directly spoken of as the wine-god here, yet
the gear of his attendants, and his own title, "the frenzied," seem to
identify him with the deity of orgiastic frenzy. As to Nysa, volumes
might be written to little or no purpose on the learning connected with
this obscure place-name, so popular in the legend of Dionysus. It has
been identified as a mountain in Thrace, in Boeotia, in Arabia, India,
Libya and Naxos, as a town in Caria or the Caucasus, and as an island
in the Nile. The flight of Dionysus into the sea may possibly recall the
similar flight of Agni in Indian myth.

The _Odyssey_ only mentions Dionysus in connection with Ariadne, whom
Artemis is said to have slain "by reason of the witness of Dionysus,"**
and where the great golden urn of Thetis is said to have been a present
from the god. The famous and beautiful hymn proves, as indeed may be
learned from Hesiod,*** that the god was already looked on as the patron
of the vine.

     * xi.325.

     ** xxiv. 74.

     *** Works and Days, 614.

When the pirates had seized the beautiful young man with the dark-blue
eyes, and had bound him in their ship, he "showed marvels among them,"
changed into the shape of a bear, and turned his captors into dolphins,
while wine welled up from the timbers of the vessel, and vines and ivy
trees wreathed themselves on the mast and about the rigging. Leaving
aside the Orphic poems, which contain most of the facts in the legend
of Dionysus Zagreus, the _Bacchæ_ of Euripides is the chief classical
record of ideas about the god. Dionysus was the patron of the drama,
which itself was an artistic development of the old rural songs and
dances of his Athenian festival. In the _Bacchæ_, then, Euripides had
to honour the very patron of his art. It must be said that his praise is
but half-hearted. A certain ironical spirit, breaking out here and there
(as when old Cadmus dances, and shakes a grey head and a stiff knee)
into actual burlesque, pervades the play. Tradition and myth doubtless
retained some historical truth when they averred that the orgies of the
god had been accepted with reluctance into state religion. The tales
about Lycurgus and Pentheus, who persecuted the Bacchæ in Thebes, and
was dismembered by his own mother in a divine madness, are survivals
of this old distrust of Dionysus. It was impossible for Euripides, a
sceptic, even in a sceptical age, to approve sincerely of the god
whom he was obliged to celebrate. He falls back on queer etymological
explanations of the birth of Dionysus from the thigh of Zeus. This myth,
as Cadmus very learnedly sets forth, was the result of forgetfulness
of the meaning of words, was born of a _Volks-etymologie_. Zeus gave
a hostage to Hera, says Cadmus, and in "process of time" (a very short
time) men forgot what they meant when they said this, and supposed that
Dionysus had been sewnup in the thigh of his father.* The explanation is
absurd, but it shows how Euripides could transfer the doubt and distrust
of his own age, and its attempt at a philological interpretation of
myth, to the remote heroic tunes. Throughout the play the character and
conduct of the god, and his hideous revenge on the people who reject his
wild and cruel rites, can only be justified because they are articles of
faith. The chorus may sing--"Ah! blessed he who dwelleth in happiness,
expert in the rites of the gods, and so hallows his life, fulfilling his
soul with the spirit of Dionysus, revelling on the hills with charms of
holy purity ".** This was the interpretation which the religious mind
thrust upon rites which in themselves were so barbarously obscene that
they were feigned to have been brought by Dionysus from the barbaric
East,*** and to be the invention of Rhea, an alien and orgiastic
goddess.**** The bull-horned, snake-wreathed god,***** the god who,
when bound, turns into a bull (618); who manifests himself as a bull
to Pentheus (920), and is implored by the chorus to appear "as bull, or
burning lion, or many-headed snake" (1017-19), this god is the ancient
barbarous deity of myth, in manifest contrast with the artistic Greek
conception of him as "a youth with clusters of golden hair, and in his
dark eyes the grace of Aphrodite" (235, 236).

     * Bacchæ, 291, 296.

     ** Ibid., 73, 76.

     *** Ibid., 10-20.

     **** Ibid., i. 59.

     ***** Ibid., 100, 101.

The _Bacchæ_, then, expresses the sentiments of a moment which must
often have occurred in Greek religion. The Greek reverence accepts,
hallows and adorns an older faith, which it feels to be repugnant and
even alien, but none the less recognises as human and inevitable. From
modern human nature the ancient orgiastic impulse of savage revelry
has almost died away. In Greece it was dying, but before it expired
it sanctified and perpetuated itself by assuming a religious form, by
draping its naked limbs in the fawn-skin or the bull-skin of Dionysus.
In precisely the same spirit Christianity, among the Negroes of the
Southern States, has been constrained to throw its mantle over what
the race cannot discard. The orgies have become camp-meetings; the
Voodoo-dance is consecrated as the "Jerusalem jump". In England the
primitive impulse is but occasionally recognised at "revivals". This
orgiastic impulse, the impulse of Australian corroboree and Cherokee
fetish-dances, and of the "dancing Dervishes" themselves, occasionally
seizes girls in modern Greece. They dance themselves to death on the
hills, and are said by the peasants to be victims of the Nereids. In
the old classic world they would have been saluted as the nurses and
companions of Dionysus, and their disease would have been hallowed by
religion. Of that religion the "bull-horned," "bull-eating," "cannibal"
Dionysus was the deity; and he was refined away into the youth with
yellow-clustered curls, and sleepy eyes, and smiling lips, the girlish
youth of the art of Praxiteles. So we see him in surviving statues, and
seeing him, forget his ghastly rites, and his succession to the rites of
goats, and deer, and bulls.


Among deities for whom an origin has been sought in the personification
of elemental phenomena, Athene is remarkable. Perhaps no divine figure
has caused more diverse speculations. The study of her legend is rather
valuable for the varieties of opinion which it illustrates than for any
real contribution to actual knowledge which it supplies. We can discover
little, if anything, about the rise and development of the conception
of Athene. Her local myths and local _sacra_ seem, on the whole, less
barbaric than those of many other Olympians. But in comparing the
conjectures of the learned, one lesson comes out with astonishing
clearness. It is most perilous, as this comparison demonstrates, to
guess at an origin of any god in natural phenomena, and then to explain
the details of the god's legend with exclusive reference to that fancied
elemental origin.

As usual, the oldest literary references to Athene are found in the
_Iliad_ and _Odyssey_. It were superfluous to collect and compare texts
so numerous and so familiar. Athene appears in the _Iliad_ as a martial
maiden, daughter of Zeus, and, apparently, of Zeus alone without female

     * Iliad, v. 875, 880. This is stated explicitly in the
     Homeric Hymn to Apollo, where Athene is said to have been
     born from the head of Zeus (Pindar, Olympic Odes, vii.).

She is the patron of valour and the inspirer of counsel; she arrests
the hand of Achilles when his sword is half drawn from the sheath in his
quarrel with Agamemnon; she is the constant companion and protector of
Odysseus; and though she is worshipped in the citadel of Troy, she is
constant to the cause of the Achæans. Occasionally it is recorded of her
that she assumed the shape of various birds; a sea-bird and a swallow
are among her metamorphoses; and she could put on the form of any man
she pleased; for example, of Deiphobus.* It has often been observed that
among the lower races the gods habitually appear in the form of
animals. "Entre ces facultes qui possedent les immortels, l'une des plus
frappantes est celle de se metamorphoser, de prendre des apparences non
seulement animales, mais encore de se transformer en objets inanimes."**
Of this faculty, inherited from the savage stage of thought, Athene has
her due share even in Homer. But in almost every other respect she is
free from the heritage of barbarism, and might very well be regarded
as the ideal representative of wisdom, valour and manfulness in man, of
purity, courage and nobility in woman, as in the Phæacian maid Nausicæ.

     * _Iliad_, xxii. 227, xvii. 351, Od. iii. 372. v. 353;
     _Iliad_, vii. 59.

     **  Maury, _Religion de la Grece_, i. 256.

In Hesiod, as has already been shown, the myth of the birth of Athene
retains the old barbaric stamp. It is the peculiarity of the Hesiodic
poems to preserve the very features of religious narrative which
Homer disregards. According to Hesiod, Zeus, the youngest child of
child-swallowing Cronus, married Metis after he had conquered and
expelled his father. Now Metis, like other gods and goddesses, had the
power of transforming herself into any shape she pleased. Her husband
learned that her child--for she was pregnant--would be greater than
its father, as in the case of the child of Thetis. Zeus, therefore,
persuaded Metis to transform herself into a fly. No sooner was the
metamorphosis complete than he swallowed the fly, and himself produced
the child of Metis out of his head.* The later philosophers explained
this myth** by a variety of metaphysical interpretations, in which the
god is said to contain the all in himself, and again to reproduce it.
Any such ideas must have been alien to the inventors of a tale which,
as we have shown, possesses many counterparts among the lowest and least
Platonic races.*** C. O. Müller remarks plausibly that "the figure of
the swallowing is employed in imitation of still older legends," such
as those of Africa and Australia. This leaves him free to imagine a
philosophic explanation of the myth based on the word Metis.**** We
may agree with Müller that the "swallow-myth" is extremely archaic
in character, as it is so common among the backward races. As to the
precise amount, however, of philosophic reflection and allegory which
was present to the cosmogonic poet's mind when he used Metis as the name
of the being who could become a fly, and so be swallowed by her husband,
it is impossible to speak with confidence. Very probably the poet
meant to read a moral and speculative meaning into a barbaric _märchen_
surviving in religious tradition.

To the birth of Athene from her father's head savage parallels are not
lacking. In the legends of the South Pacific, especially of Mangaia,
Tangaroa is fabled to have been born from the head of Papa.*****

     * Hesiod, Theog., 886, and the Scholiast

     ** Lobeck, i. 613, note 2.

     *** See the Cronus myth.

     **** Proleg. Engl. transl., p. 308.

     ***** Gill, Myths and Songs, p. 10.

In the _Vafthrudismal_ (31) a maid and a man-child are born from under
the armpits of a primeval gigantic being. The remarks of Lucian on
miraculous birth have already been quoted.*

With this mythical birth for a starting-point, and relying on their
private interpretations of the _cognomina_ of the goddess, of her
_sacra_, and of her actions in other parts of her legend, the modern
mythologists have built up their various theories. Athene is now the
personification of wisdom, now the dawn, now the air or aether, now the
lightning as it leaps from the thunder-cloud; and if she has not been
recognised as the moon, it is not for lack of opportunity.** These
explanations rest on the habit of twisting each detail of a divine
legend into conformity with aspects of certain natural and elemental
forces, or they rely on etymological conjecture. For example, Welcker***
maintains that Athene is "a feminine personification of the upper
air, daughter of Zeus, the dweller in æther". Her name Tritogenia is
derived**** from an ancient word for water, which, like fire, has
its source in æther.***** Welcker presses the title of the goddess,
"Glaucopis," the "grey-green-eyed," into the service. The heaven in
Attica _oft ebenfalls wunderbar grun ist_.******

     * Cf. Dionysus.

     ** Welcker, i. 305.

     *** Griechische Gotterlehre, Gottingen, 1857, i. 303.

     **** Op. cit., 311.

     ***** The ancients themselves were in doubt whether Trito
     were the name of a river or mere, or whether the Cretan for
     the head was intended. See Odyssey, Butcher and Lang, note
     10, p. 415.

     ****** Op. cit., i. 303.

Moreover, there was a temple at Methone of Athene of the Winds
(Anemotis), which would be a better argument had there not been also
temples of Athene of the Pathway, Athene of the Ivy, Athene of the
Crag, Athene of the Market-place, Athene of the Trumpet, and so forth.
Moreover, the olive tree is one of the sacred plants of Athene. Now why
should this be? Clearly, thinks Welcker, because olive-oil gives
light from a lamp, and light also comes from æther.* Athene also gives
Telemachus a fair wind in the _Odyssey_, and though any Lapland witch
could do as much, this goes down to her account as a goddess of the

     * Op. cit. i. 318.

     ** Mr. Ruskin's _Queen qf the Air_ is full of similar

Leaving Welcker, who has many equally plausible proofs to give, and
turning to Mr. Max Müller, we learn that Athene was the dawn. This
theory is founded on the belief that Athene = Ahana, which Mr. Max
Müller regards as a Sanskrit word for dawn. "Phonetically there is not
one word to be said against, Ahana = Athene, and that the morning light
offers the best starting-point for the later growth of Athene has been
proved, I believe, beyond the reach of doubt, or even of cavil." Mr.
Müller adds that "nothing really important could be brought forward
against my equation Ahana = Athene".

It is no part of our province here to decide between the conjectures of
rival etymologists, nor to pronounce on their relative merits. But the
world cannot be expected to be convinced by philological scholars before
they have convinced each other. Mr. Max Müller had not convinced Benfey,
who offered another etymology of Athene, as the feminine of the Zend
_Thrætana athwyana_, an etymology of which Mr. Müller remarks that
"whoever will take the trouble to examine its phonetic foundation
will be obliged in common honesty to confess that it is untenable".*
Meanwhile Curtius** is neither for Ahana and Sanskrit and Mr. Max
Müller, nor for Benfey and Zend. He derives Athene from the root _aio_,
whence perhaps comes Athene, the blooming one" = the maiden. Preller,
again,*** finds the source of the name Athene in _aio_, whence _aion_,
"the air," or a flower". He does not regard these etymologies as
certain, though he agrees with Welcker that Athene is the clear height
of æther.

Manifestly no one can be expected to accept as matter of faith an
etymological solution which is rejected by philologists. The more
fashionable theory for the moment is that maintained some time since by
Lauer and Schwartz, and now by Furtwangler in Roscher's Lexikon, that
Athene is the "cloud-goddess," or the goddess of the lightning as it
springs from the clouds.**** As the lightning in mythology is often
a serpent, and as Athene had her sacred serpent, "which might be

     * _Nineteenth Century_, October, 1885, pp. 636, 639.

     ** Gr. Et., Engl, transl., i. 300.

     *** Preller, i. 161.

     **** Cf. Lauer, _System der Oriesch. Myth_., Berlin, 1853,
     p. 220; Schwartz _Ursprung der Mythol_, Berlin, 1863, p.

     ***** Paus., xxiv. 7.

Schwartz conjectures that the serpent is the lightning and Athene the
cloud. A long list of equally cogent reasons for identifying Athene with
the lightning and the thunder-cloud has been compiled by Furtwangler,
and deserves some attention. The passage excellently illustrates
the error of taking poetic details in authors as late as Pindar for
survivals of the absolute original form of an elemental myth.

Furtwangler finds the proof of his opinion that Athene is originally the
goddess of the thunder-cloud and the lightning that leaps from it in the
Olympic ode.* "By Hephaistos' handicraft beneath the bronze-wrought axe
from the crown of her father's head Athene leapt to light, and cried
aloud an exceeding cry, and heaven trembled at her coming, and earth,
the mother." The "cry" she gave is the thunderpeal; the spear she
carried is the lightning; the ægis or goat-skin she wore is the cloud
again, though the cloud has just been the head of Zeus.** Another proof
of Athene's connection with storm is the miracle she works when she sets
a flame to fly from the head of Diomede or of Achilles,*** or fleets
from the sky like a meteor.**** Her possession, on certain coins, of the
thunderbolts of Zeus is another argument. Again, as the Trumpet-Athene
she is connected with the thunder-peal, though it seems more rational to
account for her supposed invention of a military instrument by the mere
fact that she is a warlike goddess. But Furtwangler explains her martial
attributes as those of a thunder-goddess, while Preller finds it just
as easy to explain her moral character as goddess of wisdom by her
elemental character as goddess, not at all of the cloud, but of the
clear sky.*****

     * Ode, vii. 35, Myers.

     ** Cf. Schwartz. Ursprung, etc., pp. 68, 83.

     ***  Iliad, v. 7,18,203.

     **** Ibid, iv. 74.

     ***** Preller, i. 183.

"Lastly, as goddess of the heavenly clearness, she is also goddess of
spiritual clearness." Again, "As goddess of the cloudless heaven, she is
also goddess of health",* There could be no more instructive examples of
the levity of conjecture than these, in which two scholars interpret a
myth with equal ease and freedom, though they start from diametrically
opposite conceptions. Let Athene be lightning and cloud, and all is
plain to Furtwangler. Let Athene be cloudless sky, and Preller finds no
difficulties. Athene as the goddess of woman's work as well as of man's,
Athene Ergane, becomes clear to Furtwangler as he thinks of the _fleecy_
clouds. Probably the storm-goddess, when she is not thundering, is
regarded as weaving the fleeces of the upper air. Hence the myth that
Arachne was once a woman, changed by Athene into a spider because she
contended with her in spinning.**

     * Preller, i. 179.

     ** Ovid, Metamorph., vi. 5-146.

The metamorphosis of Arachne is merely one of the half-playful
aetiological myths of which we have seen examples all over the world.
The spider, like the swallow, the nightingale, the dolphin, the frog,
was once a human being, metamorphosed by an angry deity. As Preller
makes Athene goddess of wisdom because she is goddess of clearness in
the sky, so Furtwangler derives her intellectual attributes from her
skill in weaving clouds. It is tedious and unprofitable to examine these
and similar exercises of facile ingenuity. There is no proof that Athene
was ever a nature-goddess at all, and if she was, there is nothing to
show what was her department of nature. When we meet her in Homer, she
is patroness of moral and physical excellence in man and woman. Manly
virtue she typifies in her martial aspect, the armed and warlike maid of
Zeus; womanly excellence she protects in her capacity of _Ergane_, the
toiler. She is the companion and guardian of Perseus no less than of

The sacred animals of Athene were the owl, the snake (which accompanies
her effigy in Athens, and is a form of her foster-child Erechtheus), the
cock,** and the crow.*** Probably she had some connection with the goat,
which might not be sacrificed in her fane on the Acropolis, where she
was settled by Ægeus ("goat-man "?). She wears the goat-skin, _ægis_,
in art, but this is usually regarded as another type of the

     * Pindar, Olymp., x. ad Jin.

     ** Paus., vi. 262.

     *** Ibid., iv. 34, 6.

     **** Roscher, in his Lexikon, s.v. ægis, with his arguments
     there. Compare, on this subject of Athene as the goddess of
     a goat-stock. Robertson Smith on "Sacrifice" in the
     Encycl. Brit. Aphrodite.

Athene's maiden character is stainless in story, despite the brutal love
of Hephaestus. This characteristic perhaps is another proof that she
neither was in her origin nor became in men's minds one of the amorous
deities of natural phenomena. In any case, it is well to maintain a
sceptical attitude towards explanations of her myth, which only agree
in the determination to make Athene a "nature power" at all costs, and
which differ destructively from each other as to whether she was dawn,
storm, or clear heaven. Where opinions are so radically divided and so
slenderly supported, suspension of belief is natural and necessary.

No polytheism is likely to be without a goddess of love, and love is
the chief, if not the original, department of Aphrodite in the Greek
Olympus. In the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ and the Homeric Hymn she is
already the queen of desire, with the beauty and the softness of the
laughter-loving dame. Her cestus or girdle holds all the magic of
passion, and is borrowed even by Hera when she wishes to win her fickle
lord. She disturbs the society of the gods by her famous amours with
Ares, deceiving her husband, Hephaestus, the lord of fire; and she even
stoops to the embraces of mortals, as of Anchises. In the Homeric poems
the charm of "Golden Aphrodite" does not prevent the singer from hinting
a quiet contempt for her softness and luxury. But in this oldest Greek
literature the goddess is already thoroughly Greek, nor did later ages
make any essential changes in her character. Concerning her birth
Homer and Hesiod are not in the same tale; for while Homer makes her
a daughter of Zeus, Hesiod prefers, as usual, the more repulsive, and
probably older story, which tells how she sprang from the sea-foam and
the mutilated portions of Cronus.*

     * Iliad, v. 312; Theog., 188-206.

But even in the Hesiodic myth it is remarkable that the foam-born
goddess first landed at Cythera, or again "was born in wave-washed
Cyprus". Her ancient names--the Cyprian and the Cytherean--with her
favoured seats in Paphos, Idalia and the Phoenician settlement of Eryx
in Sicily, combine with historical traditions to show that the Greek
Aphrodite was, to some extent, of Oriental character and origin. It is
probable, or rather certain, that even without foreign influence the
polytheism of Greece must have developed a deity of love, as did the
Mexican and Scandinavian polytheisms. But it is equally certain that
portions of the worship and elements in the myth of Aphrodite are
derived from the ritual and the legends of the Oriental queen of heaven,
adored from old Babylon to Cyprus and on many other coasts and isles of
the Grecian seas. The Greeks themselves recognised Asiatic influence.
Pausanias speaks of the temple of heavenly Aphrodite in Cythera as
the holiest and most ancient of all her shrines among the Hellenes.*
Herodotus, again, calls the fane of the goddess in Askalon of the
Philistines "the oldest of all, and the place whence her worship
travelled to Cyprus," as the Cyprians say, and the Phoenicians planted
it in Cythera, being themselves emigrants from Syria. The Semitic
element in this Greek goddess and her cult first demand attention.

Among the Semitic races with whose goddess of love Aphrodite was thus
connected the deity had many names. She was regarded as at once the
patroness of the moon, and of fertility in plants beasts, and women.
Among the Phoenicians her title is Astarte among the Assyrians she
was Istar; among the Syrians, Aschera; in Babylon, Mylitta.** Common
practices in the ritual of the Eastern and Western goddesses were the
licence of the temple-girls, the sacrifices of animals supposed to be
peculiarly amorous (sparrows, doves, he-goats), and, above all, the
festivals and fasts for Adonis.

     * Paus., Hi. 28, 1.

     ** So Roscher, Ausfuhr. Lexik., pp. 391, 647.   See also
     Astarte, p. 656.

There can scarcely be a doubt that Adonis--the young hunter beloved by
Aphrodite, slain by the boar, and mourned by his mistress--is a symbol
of the young season, the _renouveau_, and of the spring vegetation,
ruined by the extreme heats, and passing the rest of the year in the
underworld. Adonis was already known to Hesiod, who called him, with
obvious meaning, the son of _Phoenix_ and Alphesiboea, while Pausanias
attributed to him, with equal significance, Assyrian descent.* The
name of Adonis is manifestly a form of the Phoenician Adon, "Lord".
The nature of his worship among the Greeks is most familiar from the
fifteenth Idyll of Theocritus, with its lively picture of dead Adonis
lying in state, of the wailing for him by Aphrodite, of the little
"gardens" of quickly-growing flowers which personified him, and with the
beautiful nuptial hymn for his resurrection and reunion to Aphrodite.
Similar rites were customary at Athens.** Mannhardt gives the main
points in the ritual of the Adonis-feast thus: The fresh vegetation is
personified as a fair young man, who in ritual is represented by a kind
of idol, and also by the plants of the "Adonis-gardens". The youth
comes in spring, the bridegroom to the bride, the vernal year is their
honeymoon. In the heat of summer the bridegroom perishes for the nonce,
and passes the winter in the land of the dead. His burial is bewailed,
his resurrection is rejoiced in. The occasions of the rite are spring
and midsummer. The idol and the plants are finally cast into the sea, or
into well-water.

     * Apollod., _Bibliothec_, iii. 14, 4.

     ** Aristoph., _Lysistrata_, 389; Mannhardt, _Feld und Wold
     Kultus_, ii. 276.

The union of the divine lovers is represented by pairing of men and
maidens in bonds of a kindly sentimental sort,--the flowery bonds of

The Oriental influence in all these rites has now been recognised; it
is perfectly attested both by the Phoenican settlements, whence
Aphrodite-worship spread, and by the very name of her lover, the spring.
But all this may probably be regarded as little more than the Semitic
colouring of a ritual and a belief which exist among Indo-European
peoples, quite apart from Phoenican influence. Mannhardt traces the
various points in the Aphrodite cult already enumerated through the
folk-lore of the German peasants. The young lover, the spring, is
the Maikonig or Laubmann; his effigy is a clothed and crowned idol or
puppet, or the Maibaum. The figure is thrown into the water and bewailed
in Russia, or buried or burned with lamentations.* He is wakened and
kissed by a maiden, who acts as the bride.** Finally, we have the
"May-pairs," a kind of valentines united in a nominal troth.

     * i. 418; ii. 287.

     ** i 436.
The probable conclusion seems to be that the Adonis ritual expresses
certain natural human ways of regarding the vernal year. It is not
unlikely that the ancestors of the Greeks possessed these forms of
folk-lore previous to their contact with the Semitic races, and their
borrowing of the very marked Semitic features in the festivals.

For the rest, the concern of Aphrodite with the passion of love in men
and with general productiveness in nature is a commonplace of Greek

It would be waste of space to recount the numerous and familiar fables
in which she inspires a happy or an ill-fated affection in gods or
mortals. Like most other mythical figures, Aphrodite has been recognised
by Mr. Max Müller as the dawn; but the suggestion has not been generally
accepted.* If Aphrodite retains any traces of an elemental origin, they
show chiefly in that part of her legend which is peculiarly Semitic
in colour. For the rest, though she, like Hermes, gives good luck in
general, she is a recognised personification of passion and the queen of

     * Roscher, Lexikon, p. 406.


Another child of Zeus whose elemental origin and character have been
much debated is Hermes. The meaning of the name** is confessedly

Opinion, then, is divided about the elemental origin of Hermes and the
meaning of his name. His character must be sought, as usual, in ancient
poetic myth and in ritual and religion. Herodotus recognised his rites
as extremely old, for that is the meaning of his remark*** that
the Athenians borrowed them from the Pelasgians, who are generally
recognised as prehistoric Greeks.

     ** Preller, i. 307. The name of Hermes is connected by
     Welcker (Griesch. Got., i. 342) with (-----), and he gives
     other examples of the Æolic use of o for e. Compare
     Curtius's Greek Etymology, English translation, 1886, vol.
     i. p. 420. Mr. Max Müller, on the other hand (Lectures, ii.
     468), takes Hermes to be the son of the Dawn. Curtius
     reserves his opinion. Mr. Max Müller recognises Saramejas
     and Hermes as deities of twilight. Preller (i. 309) takes
     him for a god of dark and gloaming.

     *** Herod., ii. 61.

In the rites spoken of, the images of the god were in one notable point
like well-known Bushmen and Admiralty Island divine representations, and
like those of Priapus.* In Cyllene, where Hermes was a great resident
god, Artemidorus** saw a representation of Hermes which was merely a
large phallus, and Pausanias beheld the same sacred object, which was
adored with peculiar reverence.*** Such was Hermes in the Elean region,
whence he derived his name, Cyllenian.**** He was a god of "the liberal
shepherds," conceived of in the rudest aspect, perhaps as the patron of
fruitfulness in their flocks. Manifestly he was most unlike the graceful
swift messenger of the gods, and guide of the ghosts of men outworn, the
giver of good fortune, the lord of the crowded market-place, the teacher
of eloquence and of poetry, who appears in the literary mythology of
Greece. Nor is there much in his Pelasgian or his Cyllenian form to
suggest the elemental deity either of gloaming, or of twilight, or of
the storm.*****

     * Can the obscene story of Cicero (De Nat. Deor., iii. 22,
     56) be a repetition of the sacred chapter by which Herodotus
     says the Pelasgians explained the attribute of the image?

     ** Artem., i. 45.

     *** Paus., vi. 26, 3.

     **** Homeric Hymns, iii. 2.

     ***** But see Welcker, i. 343, for connection between his
     name and his pastoral functions.

But whether the pastoral Hermes of the Pelasgians was refined into the
messenger-god of Homer, or whether the name and honours of that god were
given to the rude Priapean patron of the shepherds by way of bringing
him into the Olympic circle, it seems impossible to ascertain. These
combinations lie far behind the ages of Greece known to us in poetry and
history. The province of the god as a deity of flocks is thought to be
attested by his favourite companion animal the ram, which often stood
beside him in works of art.* In one case, where he is represented with
a ram on his shoulder, the legend explained that by carrying a ram
round the walls he saved the city of Tanagra from a pestilence.** The
Arcadians also represented him carrying a ram under his arm.*** As to
the phallic Hermæ, it is only certain that the Athenian taste agreed
with that of the Admiralty Islanders in selecting such unseemly images
to stand beside every door. But the connection of Hermes with music (he
was the inventor of the lyre, as the Homeric Hymn sets forth) may be
explained by the musical and poetical character of old Greek shepherd

If we could set aside the various elemental theories of Hermes as the
storm-wind, the twilight, the child of dawn, and the rest, it would
not be difficult to show that one moral conception is common to his
character in many of its varied aspects. He is the god of luck, of
prosperity, of success, of fortunate adventure. This department of his
activity is already recognised in Homer. He is giver of good luck.****
He is "Hermes, who giveth grace and glory to all the works of men".
Hence comes his Homeric name, the luck-bringer. The last cup at a feast
is drunk to his honour "for luck".

     * Pausanias, ii. 8, 4.

     **  For Hermes, god of herds and flocks, see Preller, i.

     *** Pausanias, v. 27, 5.

     **** Iliad, xiv. 491; Od. 15, 319.

Where we cry "Shares!" in a lucky find, the Greek cried "Hermes in
common!" A godsend was (------). Thus among rough shepherd folk the
luck-bringing god displayed his activity chiefly in making fruitful the
flocks, but among city people he presided over the mart and the public
assembly, where he gave good fortune, and over musical contests.* It is
as the lucky god that Hermes holds his "fair wand of wealth and riches,
three-leafed and golden, which wardeth off all evil"** Hermes has thus,
among his varied departments, none better marked out than the department
of luck, a very wide and important province in early thought. But while
he stands in this relation to men, to the gods he is the herald
and messenger, and, in some undignified myths, even the pander and
accomplice. In the Homeric Hymn this child of Zeus and Maia shows his
versatile character by stealing the oxen of Apollo, and fashioning the
lyre on the day of his birth. The theft is sometimes explained as a
solar myth; the twilight steals the bright days of the sun-god. But he
could only steal them day by day, whereas Hermes lifts the cattle in an
hour.*** The surname of Hermes, is usually connected with the slaying of
Argus, a supernatural being with many eyes, set by Hera to watch Io, the
mistress of Zeus.****

     * See also Preller, i. 326, note 3.

     ** Hymn, 529.    See Custom and Myth, "The Divining Rod ".

     *** Preller, i. 316, note 2; Welcker, Gr. Got, i. 338, and
     note 11.

     **** Æsch., Prom. Vinct, 568.

Hermes lulled the creature to sleep with his music and cut off his head.
This myth yields a very natural explanation if Hermes be the twilight
of dawn, and if Argus be the many-eyed midnight heaven of stars watching
Io, the moon. If Hermes be the storm-wind, it seems just as easy to say
that he kills Argus by driving a cloud over the face of heaven. In his
capacity as the swift-winged messenger, who, in the _Odyssey_, crosses
the great gulf of the sea, and scarce brushes the brine with his
feathers, Hermes might be explained, by any one so minded, either as
lightning or wind. Neither hypothesis suits very well with his duties
as guide of the ghosts, whom he leads down darkling ways with his
wand of gold.* In this capacity he and the ghosts were honoured at the
Athenian All-Souls' day, in February.**

Such are the chief mythic aspects of Hermes. He has many functions;
common to all of them is the power of bringing all to a happy end. This
resemblance to twilight, "which bringeth all things good," as Sappho
sang, may be welcome to interpreters who see in Hermes a personification
of twilight. How ingeniously, and even beautifully, this crepuscular
theory can be worked out, and made to explain all the activities of
Hermes, may be read in an essay of Paul de St. Victor.*** What is the
dawn? The passage from night to day. Hermes therefore is the god of all
such fleet transitions, blendings, changes. The messenger of the gods,
he flits before them, a heavenly ambassador to mortals. Two light wings
quiver on his rounded cap, _the vault of heaven in little_....

     * Odyssey, xxiv. 1-14.

     ** Preller, i. 330, and see the notes on the passage. The
     ceremonies were also reminiscent of the Deluge.

     *** Les Deux Masques, i. 316-326.

The highways cross and meet and increase the meetings of men; so Hermes,
the ceaseless voyager, is their protecting genius.... Who should guide
the ghosts down the darkling ways but the deity of the dusk; sometimes
he made love to fair ghostly maids whom he attended. So easy is it
to interpret all the functions of a god as reflections of elemental
phenomena. The origin of Hermes remains obscure; but he is, in his
poetical shape, one of the most beautiful and human of the deities. He
has little commerce with the beasts; we do not find him with many animal
companions, like Apollo, nor adored, like Dionysus, with a ritual in
which are remnants of animal-worship. The darker things of his oldest
phallic forms remain obscure in his legends, concealed by beautiful
fancies, as the old wooden phallic figure, the gift of Cecrops, which
Pausanias saw in Athens, was covered with myrtle boughs. Though he is
occasionally in art represented with a beard, he remains in the fancy as
the Odysseus met him, "Hermes of the golden wand, like unto a young man,
with the first down on his cheek, when youth is loveliest".


The figure of Demeter, the _mater dolorosa_ of paganism, the sorrowing
mother seated on the stone of lamentation, is the most touching in Greek
mythology. The beautiful marble statue found by Mr. Newton at Cnidos,
and now in the British Museum, has the sentiment and the expression of
a Madonna. Nowhere in ancient religion was human love, regret, hope and
_desiderium_ or wistful longing typified so clearly as in the myth and
ritual of Demeter. She is severed from her daughter, Persephone, who
goes down among the dead, but they are restored to each other in the
joy of the spring's renewal. The mysteries of Eleusis, which represented
these events in a miracle-play, were certainly understood by Plato and
Pindar and Æschylus to have a mystic and pathetic significance. They
shadowed forth the consolations that the soul has fancied for herself,
and gave promise of renewed and undisturbed existence in the society
of all who have been dear on earth. Yet Aristophanes, in the _Frogs_,
ventures even here to bring in his raillery, and makes Xanthias hint
that the mystæ, the initiate, "smell of roast-pig". No doubt they had
been solemnly sacrificing, and probably tasting the flesh of the
pig, the sacred animal of Demeter, whose bones, with clay or marble
_figurines_ representing him, are found in the holy soil of her temples.
Thus even in the mystery of Demeter the grotesque, the barbaric element
appears, and it often declares itself in her legend and in her ritual.

A scientific study of Demeter must endeavour to disentangle the two main
factors in her myth and cult, and to hold them apart. For this purpose
it is necessary to examine the development of the cult as far as it can
be traced.

As to the name of the goddess, for once there is agreement, and even
certainty. It seems hardly to be disputed that Demeter is Greek, and
means _mother-earth or earth the mother_.*

     * Welcker, Oriech. QML, i. 385-387; Preller, i. 618, note 2;
     Maury, Rel. des Grdes, L 69. Apparently "A" still means
     earth in Albanian; Max Müller, Selected Essays, ii. 428.

There is his mythological panacea. Mannhardt is all for "Corn-mother,"
Corn being nothing peculiarly Hellenic or Aryan in the adoration of
earth. A comparative study of earth-worship would prove it to be very
widely diffused, even among non-European tribes. The Demeter cult,
however, is distinct enough from the myth of Gæa, the Earth, considered
as, in conjunction with Heaven, the parent of the gods. Demeter is
rather the fruitful soil regarded as a person than the elder Titanic
formless earth personified as Gæa. Thus conceived as the foster-mother
of life, earth is worshipped in America by the Shawnees and Potawatomies
as _Me-mk-kum-mik-o-kwi_, the "mother of earth" It will be shown that
this goddess appears casually in a Potawatomie legend, which is merely
a savage version of the sacred story of Eleusis.* Tacitus found that
Mother Hertha was adored in Germany with rites so mysterious that the
slaves who took part in them were drowned. "Whereof ariseth a secret
terror and an holy ignorance what that should be which they only see who
are a-perishing."** It is curious that in the folk-lore of Europe, up to
this century, food-offerings to the earth were _buried_ in Germany and
by Gipsies; for the same rite is practised by the Potawatomies.***

     * Compare Maury, Religions de la Grece, i. 72.

     ** Germania, 40, translation of 1622.

     *** Compare Tylor, Prim. Cult, ii. 273, with Father De Smet,
     Oregon Missions, New York, 1847, p. 351.

The Mexican Demeter, Centeotl, is well known, and Acosta's account of
religious ceremonies connected with harvest in Mexico and Peru might
almost be taken for a description of the Greek _Eiresione_. The god of
agriculture among the Tongan Islanders has one very curious point of
resemblance to Demeter. In the Iliad (v. 505) we read that Demeter
presides over the fanning of the grain. "Even as a wind carrieth the
chaff about the sacred threshing-floors when men are winnowing, _what
time golden Demeter, in rush of wind_, maketh division of grain and
chaff.".... Now the name of the "god of wind, and weather, rain, harvest
and vegetation in general" in the Tongan Islands is Alo-Alo, literally
"to fan".* One is reminded of Joachim Du Bellay's poem, "To the
Winnowers of Corn". Thus from all these widely diffused examples it is
manifest that the idea of a divinity of earth, considered as the mother
of fruits, and as powerful for good or harm in harvest-time, is anything
but peculiar to Greece or to Aryan peoples. In her character as potent
over this department of agriculture, the Greek goddess was named "she
of the rich threshing-floors," "of the corn heaps," "of the corn in the
ear," "of the harvest-home," "of the sheaves," "of the fair fruits," "of
the goodly gifts," and so forth.**

     * Mariner's _Tonga Islands_, 1827, ii. 107. The Attic
     Eiresioni may be studied in Mannhardt, Wald und Feld Qultus,
     it 312, and Aztec and Peruvian harvest rites of a similar
     character in Custom and Myth, pp. 17-20.   See also Prim.
     Quit., ii. 306, for other examples.

     ** Welcker, ii, 468-470, a collection of such titles.

In popular Greek religion, then, Demeter was chiefly regarded as the
divinity of earth at seed-time and harvest. Perhaps none of the gods
was worshipped in so many different cities and villages, or possessed
so large a number of shrines and rustic chapels. There is a pleasant
picture of such a chapel, with its rural disorder, in the _Golden Ass_
of Apuleius. Psyche, in her search for Cupid, "came to the temple and
went in, whereas behold she espied sheaves of corn lying on a heap,
blades with withered garlands, and reeds of barley. Moreover, she saw
hooks, scythes, sickles and other instruments to reape, but everie thing
laide out of order, and as it were cast in by the hands of labourers;
which when Psyche saw she gathered up and put everything in order." The
chapel of Demeter, in short, was a tool-house, dignified perhaps with
some rude statue and a little altar. Every village, perhaps every villa,
would have some such shrine.

Behind these observances, and behind the harvest-homes and the
rites--half ritual, half folk-lore--which were expected to secure the
fertility of the seed sown, there lurked in the minds of priests and
in the recesses of sanctuaries certain mystic and secret practices of
adoration. In these mysteries Demeter was doubtless worshipped in her
_Chthonian_ character as a goddess of earth, powerful over those who are
buried in her bosom, over death and the dead. In these hidden mysteries
of her cult, moreover, survived ancient legends of the usual ugly sort,
tales of the amours of the goddess in bestial guise. Among such rites
Pausanias mentions, at Hermione of Dryopian Argolis, the _fete_ of
Chthonian Demeter, a summer festival. The procession of men, women, boys
and priests dragged a struggling heifer to the doors of the temple, and
thrust her in unbound. Within the fane she was butchered by four old
women armed with sickles. The doors were then opened, and a second and
third heifer were driven in and slain by the old women. "This marvel
attends the sacrifice, that all the heifers fall on the same side as
the first that was slain." There remains somewhat undivulged. "The things
which they specially worship, I know not, nor any man, neither native
or foreigner, but only the ancient women concerned in the rite."*
In Arcadia there was a temple of Demeter, whose priests boasted a
connection with Eleusis, and professed to perform the mysteries in the
Eleusinian manner. Here stood two great stones, with another over them,
probably (if we may guess) a prehistoric dolmen. Within the dolmen,
which was so revered that the neighbours swore their chief oath by it,
were kept certain sacred scriptures. These were read aloud once a
year to the initiated by a priest who covered his face with a mask of
Demeter. At the same time he smote the earth with rods, and called on
the folk below the earth. Precisely the same practice, smiting the earth
with rods, is employed by those who consult diviners among the Zulus.**
The Zulu woman having a spirit of divination says, "Strike the ground
for them" (the spirits). "See, they say you came to inquire about
something." The custom of wearing a mask of the deity worshipped is
common in the religions of animal-worship in Egypt, Mexico, the South
Seas and elsewhere. The Aztec celebrant, we saw, wore a mask made of the
skin of the thigh of the human victim. Whether this Arcadian Demeter was
represented with the head of a beast does not appear; she had a mare's
head in Phigalia. One common point between this Demeter of the Pheneatæ
and the Eleusinian is her _taboo_ on beans, which are so strangely
mystical a vegetable in Greek and Roman ritual.***

     * Paus., li. 86.

     ** Callaway, Izinyanga Zokvbula, p. 362

     *** For a collection of passages see Aglaophamus, 251-254.

The Black Demeter of the Phigalians in Arcadia was another most
archaic form of the goddess. In Phigalia the myth of the wrath and
reconciliation of the goddess assumed a brutal and unfamiliar aspect.
The common legend, universally known, declares that Demeter sorrowed for
the _enlevement_ of her daughter, Persephone, by Hades. The Phigalians
added another cause; the wandering Demeter had assumed the form of a
mare, and was violently wooed by Poseidon in the guise of a stallion.*

     * The same story was told of Cronus and Philyra, of Agni and
     a cow in the _Satapatha Brahmana_ (English translation, i.
     326), of Saranyu, daughter of Tvashtri, who "fled in the
     form of a mare". Visvasvat, in like manner, assumed the
     shape of a horse, and followed her. From their intercourse
     sprang the two Asvins. See Muir, Sanskrit Texts, v. 227, or
     _Rig- Veda_, x. 17, 1. Here we touch a very curious point.
     Erinnys was au Arcadian cognomen of the Demeter who was
     wedded as a mare (Paus., viii. 25). Now, Mr. Max Müller says
     that "Erinnys is the Vedic Saranyu, the Dawn," and we have
     seen that both Demeter Erinnys and Saranyu were wooed and
     won in the form of mares (Select Essays, i. 401, 492-622).
     The curious thing is that, having so valuable a proof in his
     hand as the common bestial amours of both Saranyu and
     Erinnys Demeter, Mr. Max Müller does not produce it. The
     Scandinavian horse-loves of Loki also recur to the memory.
     Prajapati's loves in the shape of a deer are familiar in the
     Brahmanas. If Saranyu=Erinnys, and both=Dawn, then a dawn-
     myth has been imported into the legend of Demeter, whom
     nobody, perhaps, will call a dawn-goddess. Schwartz, as
     usual, makes the myth a storm-myth, and Demeter a goddess of
     storms (Ursprwig der Myth., p. 164).

The goddess, in wrath at this outrage, attired herself in black mourning
raiment, and withdrew into a cave, according to the Phigalians, and
the fruits of the earth perished. Zeus learned from Pan the place of
Demeter's retreat, and sent to her the Moeræ or Fates, who persuaded her
to abate her anger. The cave became her holy place, and there was set an
early wooden _xoanon_, or idol, representing the goddess in the shape of
a woman with the head and mane of a mare, in memory of her involuntary
intrigue in that shape. Serpents and other creatures were twined about
her head, and in one hand, for a mystic reason undivulged, she held a
dolphin, in the other a dove. The wooden image was destroyed by fire,
and disasters fell on the Phigalians. Onatas was then employed to make a
bronze statue like the old idol, wherof the fashion was revealed to him
in a dream. This restoration was made about the time of the Persian war.
The sacrifices offered to this Demeter were fruits, grapes, honey and
uncarded wool; whence it is clear that the black goddess was a true
earth-mother, and received the fruits of the earth and the flock. The
image by Onatas had somewhat mysteriously disappeared before the days of

     * Paus., viii. 42. Compare viii. 25, 4, for the horse Arion,
     whom Demeter bore to Poseidon.

Even in her rude Arcadian shape Demeter is a goddess of the fruits
of earth. It is probable that her most archaic form survived from the
"Pelasgian" clays in remote mountainous regions. Indeed Herodotus,
observing the resemblance between the Osirian mysteries in Egypt and the
Thesmophoria of Demeter in Greece, boldly asserts that the Thesmophoria
were Egyptian, and were brought to the Pelasgians from Egypt (ii. 171).
The Pelasgians were driven out of Peloponnesus by the Dorians, and the
Arcadians, who were not expelled, retained the rites. As Pelasgians also
lingered long in Attica, Herodotus recognised the Thesmophoria as
in origin Egyptian. In modern language this theory means that the
Thesmophoria were thought to be a rite of prehistoric antiquity older
than the Dorian invasion. Herodotus naturally explained resemblances
in the myth and ritual of distant peoples as the result of borrowing,
usually from Egypt, an idea revived by M. Foucart. These analogies,
however, are more frequently produced by the working out of similar
thoughts, presenting themselves to minds similarly situated in a
similar way. The mysteries of Demeter offer an excellent specimen of
the process. While the Greeks, not yet collected into cities, lived
in village settlements, each village would possess its own feasts,
mysteries and "medicine-dances," as the Red Indians say, appropriate to
seedtime and harvest. For various reasons, certain of these local rites
attained high importance in the development of Greek civilisation The
Eleusinian performances, for instance, were adopted into the state
ritual of a famous city, Athens, and finally acquired a national status,
being open to all not disqualified Hellenes. In this development the old
local ritual for the propitiation of Demeter, for the fertility of the
seed sown, and for the gratification of the dead ancestors, was caught
up into the religion of the state, and was modified by advancing
ideas of religion and morality. But the local Athenian mystery of the
Thesmophoria probably retained more of its primitive shape and purpose.

The Thesmophoria was the feast of seed-time, and Demeter was adored by
the women as the patroness of human as well as of universal fertility.
Thus a certain jocund and licentious element was imparted to the rites,
which were not to be witnessed by men.

The Demeter of the Thesmophoria was she who introduced and patronised
the (------) of marriage, as Homer says of Odysseus and Penelope.* What
was done at the Thesmophoria Herodotus did not think fit to tell. A
scholiast on Lucian's _Dialogues of Courtesans_ let out the secret in
a much later age. He repeats the story of the swineherd Eubuleus, whose
pigs were swallowed up by the earth when it opened to receive Hades and
Persephone. In honour and in memory of Eubuleus, pigs were thrown into
the cavernof Demeter. Then certain women brought up the decaying flesh
of the dead pigs, and placed it on the altar. It was believed that to
mix this flesh with the seed-corn secured abundance of harvest. Though
the rite is magical in character, perhaps the decaying flesh might act
as manure, and be of real service to the farmer. Afterwards images of
pigs, such as Mr. Newton found in a hole in the holy plot of Demeter at
Cnidos, were restored to the place whence the flesh had been taken. The
practice was believed to make marriage fruitful; its virtues were for
the husband as well as for the husbandman.** However the Athenians got
the rite, whether they evolved it or adapted it from some "Pelasgian"
or other prehistoric people, similar practices occur among the Khonds in
India and the Pawnees in America. The Khonds sacrifice a pig and a human
victim, the Pawnees a girl of a foreign tribe.

     * Odyssey, xxiii. 295.

     ** Newton, Hulicarn., plate iv. pp. 331, 371-391.

The fragments of flesh are not mixed with the seed-corn, but buried on
the borders of the fields.* The ancient, perhaps "Pelasgian," ritual
of Demeter had thus its savage features and its savage analogues.
More remarkable still is the Pawnee version, as we may call it, of
the Eleusinia. Curiously, the Red Indian myth which resembles that of
Demeter and Persephone is _not_ told about Me-suk-kum-mik-o-kwi, the Red
Indian Mother Earth, to whom offerings are made, valuable objects being
buried for her in brass kettles.** The American tale is attached to the
legend of Manabozho and his brother Chibiabos, not to that of the Earth
Mother and her daughter, if in America she had a daughter.

The account of the Pawnee mysteries and their origin is worth quoting in
full, as it is among the most remarkable of mythical coincidences. If
we decline to believe that Pere De Smet invented the tale for the mere
purpose of mystifying mythologists, we must, apparently, suppose that
the coincidences are due to the similar workings of the human mind in
the Prairies as at Eleusis. We shall first give the Red Indian version.
It was confided to De Smet, as part of the general tradition of the
Pawnees, by an old chief, and was first published by De Smet in his
_Oregon Mission_*** Tanner speaks of the legend as one that the Indians
chant in their "medicine-songs," which record the sacred beliefs of the

     * De Smet, Oregon Missions, p. 359; Mr. Russell's, "Report"
     in Major Campbell's Personal Narrative, 1864, pp. 55, 113.

     ** Tanner's Narrative, 1830, p. 115.

     *** New York, 1847.

     **** Ibid., New York, 1830, pp. 192, 193.

He adds that many of these songs are noted down, by a method probably
peculiar to the Indians, on birch-bark or small flat pieces of wood, the
ideas being conveyed by emblematical figures. When it is remembered that
the _luck_ of the tribe depends on these songs and rites, it will be
admitted that they are probably of considerable antiquity, and that
the Indians probably did not borrow the story about the origin of their
ritual from some European conversant with the Homeric hymn to Demeter.

Here follows the myth, as borrowed (without acknowledgment) by
Schoolcraft from De Smet:--*

"The Manitos (powers or spirits) were jealous of Manabozho and
Chibiabos. Manabozho warned his brother never to be alone, but one day
he ventured on the frozen lake and was drowned by the Manitos. Manabozho
wailed along the shores. He waged a war against all the Manitos....
He called on the dead body of his brother. He put the whole country in
dread by his lamentations. He then besmeared his face with black,
and sat down six years to lament, uttering the name of Chibiabos. The
Manitos consulted what to do to assuage his melancholy and his wrath.
The oldest and wisest of them, who had had no hand in the death of
Chibiabos, offered to undertake the task of reconciliation. They built a
sacred lodge close to that of Manabozho, and prepared a sumptuous feast.
They then assembled in order, one behind the other, each carrying under
his arm a sack of the skin of some favourite animal, as a beaver, an
otter, or a lynx, and filled with precious and curious medicines culled
from all plants. These they exhibited, and invited him to the feast with
pleasing words and ceremonies. He immediately raised his head, uncovered
it, and washed off his besmearments and mourning colours, and then
followed them. They offered him a cup of liquor prepared from the
choicest medicines, at once as a propitiation and an initiatory rite.
He drank it at a single draught, and found his melancholy departed. They
then commenced their dances and songs, united with various ceremonies.
All danced, all sang, all acted with the utmost gravity, with exactness
of time, motion and voice. Manabozho was cured; he ate, danced, sang and
smoked the sacred pipe.

     * Schoolcraft, L 318.

"In this manner the mysteries of the great medicine-dance were

"The Manitos now united their powers to bring Chibiabos to life. They
did so, and brought him to life, but it was forbidden to enter the
lodge. They gave him, through a chink, a burning coal, and told him to
go and preside over the country of souls and reign over the land of the

"Manabozho, now retired from men, commits the care of medicinal
plants to Misukumigakwa, or the Mother of the Earth, to whom he makes

In all this the resemblance to the legend of the Homeric hymn to Demeter
is undeniable. The hymn is too familiar to require a long analysis. We
read how Demeter had a fair daughter, Persephone; how the Lord of the
Dead carried her off as she was gathering flowers; how Demeter sought
her with burning torches; and how the goddess came to Eleusis and
the house of Celeus in the guise of an old wife. There she dwelt in
sorrow, neither eating nor drinking, till she tasted of a mixture of
barley and water (_cyceon_), and was moved to smile by the mirth of
Iambe. Yet she still held apart in wrath from the society of the gods,
and still the earth bore not her fruits, till the gods bade Hermes
restore Persephone. But Persephone had tasted one pomegranate-seed in
Hades, and therefore, according to a world-wide belief, she was under
bonds to Hades. For only half the year does she return to earth; yet
by this Demeter was comforted; the soil bore fruits again, and Demeter
showed forth to the chiefs of Eleusis her sacred mysteries and the
ritual of their performance.*

The Persephone myth is not in Homer, though in Homer Persephone is Lady
of the Dead. Hesiod alludes to it in the _Theogony_ (912-914); but the
chief authority is the Homeric hymn, which Matthaeus found (1777) in
a farmyard at Moscow. "Inter pullos et porcos latuerat"--the pigs of
Demeter had guarded the poem of her mysteries.** As to the date and
authorship of the hymn, the learned differ in opinion. Probably most
readers will regard it as a piece of poetry, like the hymn to Aphrodite,
rather than as a "mystic chain of verse" meant solely for hieratic
purposes. It is impossible to argue with safety that the Eleusinian
mysteries and legend were later than Homer, because Homer does not
allude to them.

     * The superstition about the food of the dead is found in
     New Zealand, Melanesia, Scotland, Finland and among the
     Ojibbeways. Compare "Wandering Willie's" tale in

     ** Ruhnken, ap. Hignard, _Les Hymnes Homeriques_, p. 292,
     Paris, 1864.

He has no occasion to speak of them. Possibly the mysteries were, in his
time, but the rites of a village or little town; they attained celebrity
owing to their adoption by Athens, and they ended by becoming the most
famous national festival. The meaning of the legend, in its origin,
was probably no more than a propitiation of earth, and a ceremony that
imitated, and so secured, the return of spring and vegetation. This
early conception, which we have found in America, was easily combined
with doctrines of the death and revival, not of the year, not of the
seed sown, but of the human soul. These ideas were capable of endless
illustration and amplification by priests; and the mysteries, by
Plato's time, and even by Pindar's, were certainly understood to have a
purifying influence on conduct and a favourable effect on the fortunes
of the soul in the next world.

"Happy whosoever of mortal men has looked on these things; but whoso
hath had no part nor lot in this sacrament hath no equal fate when once
he hath perished and passed within the pall of darkness."* Of such
rites we may believe that Plato was thinking when he spoke of
"beholding apparitions innocent and simple, and calm and happy, _as in a
mystery_"** Nor is it strange that, when Greeks were seeking for a
sign, and especially for some creed that might resist the new worship of
Christ, Plutarch and the Neo-Platonic philosophers tried to cling to the
promise of the mysteries of Demeter.

     *  Homeric Hymn, 480-482.

     ** Phaedrus, 260.

They regarded her secret things as "a dreamy shadow of that spectacle
and that rite," the spectacle and rite of the harmonious order of the
universe, some time to be revealed to the souls of the blessed.* It may
not have been a drawback to the consolations of the hidden services
that they made no appeal to the weary and wandering reason of the later
heathens. Tired out with endless discourse on fate and free will,
gods and demons, allegory and explanation, they could repose on mere
spectacles and ceremonies and pious ejaculations, "without any evidence
or proof offered for the statements ". Indeed, writers like Plutarch
show almost the temper of Pascal, trying to secure rest for their souls
by a wise passiveness and pious contemplation, and participation in
sacraments not understood.

As to the origin of these sacraments, we may believe, with Lobeck, that
it was no priestly system of mystic and esoteric teaching, moral or
physical. It was but the "medicine-dance" of a very old Greek tribal
settlement, perhaps from the first with an ethical element. But from
this, thanks to the genius of Hellas, sprang all the beauty of the
Eleusinian ritual, and all the consolation it offered the bereaved, all
the comfort it yielded to the weary and heavy laden.** That the popular
religious excitement caused by the mysteries and favoured by the
darkness often produced scenes of lustful revelry, may be probable
enough. "Revivals" everywhere have this among other consequences. But
we may share Lobeck's scepticism as to the wholesale charges of iniquity
brought by the Fathers.

     * Plutarch, De Def. Orac. xxii

     ** Lobeck, Aglaoph., 133.

In spite of survivals and slanders, the religion of Demeter was among
the most natural, beautiful and touching of Greek beliefs. The wild
element was not lacking; but a pious contemporary of Plato, when he
bathed in the sea with his pig before beholding the mystery-play,
probably made up his mind to blink the barbaric and licentious part of
the performances.


This brief review of Greek divine myths does not of course aim at
exhausting the subject. We do not pretend to examine the legends of
all the Olympians. But enough has been said to illustrate the method of
interpretation, and to give specimens of the method at work. It has been
seen that there is only agreement among philologists as to the origin
and meaning of two out of nearly a dozen divine names. Zeus is admitted
to be connected with _Dyaus_, and to have originally meant "sky".
Demeter is accepted as Greek, with the significance of "Mother Earth".
But the meaning and the roots of Athene, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes,
Cronus, Aphrodite, Dionysus--we might add Poseidon and Hephaestus--are
very far from being known. Nor is there much more general agreement as
to the original elemental phenomena or elemental province held by all of
these gods and goddesses. The moon, the wind, the twilight, the sun,
the growth and force of vegetation, the dark, the night, the atmosphere,
have been shuffled and dealt most variously to the various deities by
learned students of myth. This complete diversity of opinion must be
accepted as a part in the study.

The learned, as a rule, only agree in believing (1) that the names hold
the secret of the original meaning of the gods; and (2) that the gods
are generally personifications of elements or of phenomena, or have
been evolved out of such personifications. Beyond this almost all is
confusion, doubt, "the twilight of the gods".

In this darkness there is nothing to surprise. We are not wandering in
a magical mist poured around us by the gods, but in a fog which has
natural causes. First, there is the untrustworthiness of attempts to
analyse proper names. "With every proper name the etymological operation
is by one degree more difficult than with an appellative.... We have
to deal with two unknown quantities," origin and meaning; whereas in
appellatives we know the meaning and have only to hunt for the origin.
And of all proper names mythological names are the most difficult to
interpret. Curtius has shown how many paths may be taken in the analysis
of the name Achilles. The second part may be of the stem: people, or the
stem: stone. Does the first part of the word mean "water" (cf. aqua), or
is it equivalent to: ("bulwark" or "the people")? Or is it akin to:
"one who causes pain"? Or is the: "prothetic"? and is (it) the root,
and does it mean "clear-shining"? Or is the word related to (------),
and does it mean "dark"?

All these and other explanations are offered by the learned, and
are chosen by Curtius to show the uncertainty and difficulty of the
etymological process as applied to names in myth. Cornutus remarked
long ago that the great antiquity of the name of Athene made its
etymology difficult. Difficult it remains.* Whatever the science of
language may accomplish in the future, it is baffled for the present
by the divine names of Greece, or by most of them, and these the most

     * Cf. Curtius, Greek Etym., Engl, transl., i. 137-139.

     ** Gruppe, Griech. Culte und Mythtis, p. 169, selects
     Iapetos, Kadmos, Kabeiros, Adonis, Baitylos, Typhon, Nysos
     (in Dionysos), Acheron, Kimmerians and Gryps, aa certainly
     Phoenician. But these are not the names of the high gods.

There is another reason for the obscurity of the topic besides the
darkness in which the origin of the names has been wrapped by time. The
myths had been very long in circulation before we first meet them in
Homer and Hesiod. We know not whence the gods came. Perhaps some of them
were the chief divine conceptions of various Hellenic clans before the
union of clans into states. However this may be, when we first encounter
the gods in Homer and Hesiod, they have been organised into a family,
with regular genealogies and relationships. Functions have been assigned
to them, and departments. Was Hermes always the herald? Was Hephaestus
always the artisan? Was Athene from the first the well-beloved daughter
of Zeus? Was Apollo from the beginning the mediator with men by oracles?
Who can reply? We only know that the divine ministry has been thoroughly
organised, and departments assigned, as in a cabinet, before we meet the
gods on Olympus. What they were in the ages before this organisation, we
can only conjecture. Some may have been adopted from clans whose chief
deity they were. If any one took all the Samoan gods, he could combine
them into a family with due functions and gradations. No one man did
this, we may believe, for Greece: though Herodotus thought it was done
by Homer and Hesiod. The process went on through centuries we know not
of; still less do we know what or where the gods were before the process

Thus the obscurity in which the divine origins are hidden is natural and
inevitable. Our attempt has been to examine certain birth-marks which
the gods bear from that hidden antiquity, relics of fur and fin
and feather, inherited from ancestral beasts like those which ruled
Egyptian, American and Australian religions. We have also remarked the
brilliant divinity of beautiful form which the gods at last attained, in
marble, in gold, in ivory and in the fancy of poets and sculptors. Here
is the truly Hellenic element, here is the ideal--Athene arming, Hera
with the girdle of Aphrodite, Hermes with his wand, Apollo with the
silver bow--to this the Hellenic intellect attained; this ideal it
made more imperishable than bronze. Finally, the lovely shapes of gods
"defecate to a pure transparency" in the religion of Aristotle and
Plutarch. But the gods remain beautiful in their statues, beautiful
in the hymns of Pindar and the plays of Sophocles; hideous, often, in
temple myth, and ancient _xoanon_, and secret rite, till they are all,
good and evil, cast out by Christianity. The most brilliant civilisation
of the world never expelled the old savage from its myth and its ritual.
The lowest savagery scarcely ever, if ever, wholly loses sight of a
heavenly Father.

In conclusion, we may deprecate the charge of _exclusivism_. The savage
element is something, nay, is much, in Greek myth and ritual, but it is
not everything. The truth, grace and beauty of the myths are given
by "the clear spirit" of Hellas. Nor is all that may be deplored
necessarily native. We may well believe in borrowing from Phoenicians,
who in turn may have borrowed from Babylon. Examples of this process
have occasionally been noted. It will be urged by some students that the
wild element was adopted from the religion of prehistoric races, whom
the Greeks found in possession when first they seized the shores of the
country. This may be true in certain cases, but historical evidence
is not to be obtained. We lose ourselves in theories of Pelasgians
and Pre-Pelasgians, and "la Grece avant les Grecs". In any case, the
argument that the more puzzling part of Greek myth is a "survival" would
not be affected. Borrowed, or inherited, or imitated, certain of the
stories and rites are savage in origin, and the argument insists on no
more as to that portion of Greek mythology.


     A new class of myths--Not explanatory--Popular tales--Heroic
     and romantic myths--(1) Savage tales--(2) European Contes--
     (3) Heroic myths--Their origin--Diffusion--History of their
     study--Grimm's theory--Aryan theory--Benfey's theory--
     Ancient Egyptian stories examined--Wanderung's theorie--

The myths which have hitherto been examined possess, for the most
part, one common feature. All, or almost all of them, obviously aim at
satisfying curiosity about the causes of things, at supplying gaps in
human knowledge. The nature-myths account for various aspects of Nature,
from the reed by, the river-side that once was a fair maiden pursued by
Pan, to the remotest star that was a mistress of Zeus; from the reason
why the crow is black, to the reason why the sun is darkened in eclipse.
The divine myths, again, are for the more part essays in the same
direction. They try to answer these questions: "Who made things?" "How
did this world begin?" "What are the powers, felt to be greater than
ourselves, which regulate the order of events and control the destinies
of men?" Myths reply to all these questionings, and the answers are
always in accordance with that early nebulous condition of thought
and reason where observation lapses into superstition, religion into
science, science into fancy, knowledge into fable. In the same manner the
myths which we do not treat of here--the myths of the origin of death,
of man's first possession of fire, and of the nature of his home among
the dead--are all tentative contributions to knowledge. All seek to
satisfy the eternal human desire to _know_. "Whence came death?" man
asks, and the myths answer him with a story of Pandora, of Maui, of
the moon and the hare, or the bat and the tree. "How came fire to be a
servant of ours?" The myths tell of Prometheus the fire-stealer, or of
the fire-stealing wren, or frog, or coyote, or cuttlefish. "What manner
of life shall men live after death? in what manner of home?" The myth
answers with tales of Pohjola, of Hades, of Amenti, of all that, in the
Australian black fellow's phrase, "lies beyond the Rummut," beyond the
surf of the Pacific, beyond the "stream of Oceanus," beyond the horizon
of mortality. To these myths, and to the more mysterious legend of the
Flood, we may return some other day. For the present, it must suffice
to repeat that all these myths (except, perhaps, the traditions of the
Deluge) fill up gaps in early human knowledge, and convey information as
to matters outside of practical experience.

But there are classes of tales, or _märchen_, or myths which, as far as
can be discovered, have but little of the explanatory element. Though
they have been interpreted as broken-down nature-myths, the variety of
the interpretations put upon them proves that, at least, their elemental
meaning is dim and uncertain, and makes it very dubious whether they
ever had any such significance at all. It is not denied here that
some of these myths and tales may have been suggested by elemental and
meteorological phenomena. For example, when we find almost everywhere
among European peasants, and among Samoyeds and Zulus, as in Greek
heroic-myths of the Jason cycle, the story of the children who run away
from a cannibal or murderous mother or step-mother, we are reminded of
certain nature-myths. The stars are often said* to be the children of
the sun, and to flee away at dawn, lest he or their mother, the moon,
should devour them. This early observation may have started the story of
flight from the cannibal parents, and the legend may have been brought
down from heaven to earth. Yet this were, perhaps, a far-fetched
hypothesis of the origin of a tale which may readily have been born
wherever human beings have a tendency (as in North America and South
Africa) to revert to cannibalism.

     * Nature-Myths, vol. i p. 130. The story is "Asterinos und
     Pulja" in Von Hahn's Griech. und Alban. Marchen. Compare
     Samojedische Marchen, Castren, Varies, uber die Alt. Volk,
     p. 164; Callaway, Uzembeni.

The peculiarity, then, of the myths which we propose to call "Heroic
and Romantic Tales" (_märchen contes populaires_), is the absence, as a
rule, of any obvious explanatory purpose. They are romances or novels,
and if they do explain anything, it is rather the origin or sanction of
some human law or custom than the cause of any natural phenomenon that
they expound.

The kind of traditional fictions here described as heroic and romantic
may be divided into three main categories.

(1) First we have the popular tales of the lower and more backward
races, with whom may be reckoned, for our present purpose, the more
remote and obscure peoples of America. We find popular tales among the
Bushmen, Kaffirs, Zulus, Samoans, Maoris, Hurons, Samoyeds, Eskimos,
Crees, Blackfeet and other so-called savage races. We also find tales
practically identical in character, and often in plot and incident,
among such a people as the Huarochiris, a civilised race brought under
the Inca Empire some three generations before the Spanish conquest. The
characteristics of these tales are the presence of talking and magically
helpful beasts; the human powers and personal existence of even
inanimate objects; the miraculous accomplishments of the actors; the
introduction of beings of another race, usually hostile; the power of
going to and returning from Hades--always described in much the same
imaginative manner. The persons are sometimes anonymous, sometimes
are named while the name is not celebrated; more frequently the tribal
culture-hero, demiurge, or god is the leading character in these
stories. In accordance with the habits of savage fancy, the chief person
is often a beast, such as Ananzi, the West African spider; Cagn, the
Bushman grasshopper; or Michabo, the Algonkin white-hare. Animals
frequently take parts assigned to men and women in European _märchen_.

(2) In the second place, we have the _märchen_, or _contes_, or
household tales of the modern European, Asiatic and Indian peasantry,
the tales collected by the Grimms, by Afanasief, by Von Hahn, by Miss
Frere, by Miss Maive Stokes, by M. Sebillot, by Campbell of Islay, and
by so many others. Every reader of these delightful collections knows
that the characteristics, the machinery, all that excites wonder,
are the same as in the savage heroic tales just described But it is a
peculiarity of the popular tales of the peasantry that the _places_
are seldom named; the story is not localised, and the characters are
anonymous. Occasionally our Lord and his saints appear, and Satan is
pretty frequently present, always to be defeated and disgraced; but, as
a rule, the hero is "a boy," "a poor man" "a fiddler," "a soldier," and
so forth, no names being given.

(3) Thirdly, we have in epic poetry and legend the romantic and heroic
tales of the great civilised races, or races which have proved capable
of civilisation. These are the Indians, the Greeks, Romans, Celts,
Scandinavians and Germans. These have won their way into the national
literatures and the region of epic. We find them in the _Odyssey_, the
_Edda_ the Celtic poems, the _Ramayana_, and they even appear in the
_Veda_. They occur in the legends and pedigrees of the royal heroes
of Greece and Germany. They attach themselves to the dim beginnings
of actual history, and to real personages like Charlemagne. They even
invade the legends of the saints. The characters are national heroes,
such as Perseus, Jason, Ædipus and Olympian gods, and holy men and women
dear to the Church, and primal heroes of the North, Sigurd and Signy.
Their paths and places are not in dim fairyland, but in the fields
and on the shores we know--at Roland's Pass in the Pyrenees, on the
enchanted Colchian coast, or among the blameless Ethiopians, or in
Thessaly, or in Argos. Now, in all these three classes of romance, savage
fables, rural märchen, Greek or German epics, the ideas and incidents
are analogous, and the very conduct of the plot is sometimes
recognisably the same. The moral ideas on which many of the märchen,
sagas, or epic myths turn are often identical. Everywhere we find doors
or vessels which are not to be opened, regulations for the conduct of
husband and wife which are not to be broken; everywhere we find helpful
beasts, birds and fishes; everywhere we find legends proving that one
cannot outwit his fate or evade the destiny prophesied for him.

The chief problems raised by these sagas and stories are--(1) How do
they come to resemble each other so closely in all parts of the world?
(2) Were they invented once for all, and transmitted all across the
world from some centre? (3) What was that centre, and what was the
period and the process of transmission?

Before examining the solutions of those problems, certain considerations
may be advanced.

The supernatural _stuff_ of the stories, the threads of the texture, the
belief in the life and personality of all things--in talking beasts and
trees, in magical powers, in the possibility of visiting the diad--must,
on our theory as already set forth, be found wherever men have either
passed through savagery, and retained-survivals of that intellectual
condition, or wherever they have borrowed or imitated such survivals.

By this means, without further research, we may account for the
similarity of the stuff of heroic myths and marchen. The stuff is the
same as in nature myths and divine myths. But how is the similarity of
the arrangement of the incidents and ideas into _plots_ to be accounted
for? The sagas, epic myths, and marchen do not appear to resemble each
other everywhere (as the nature-myths do), because they are the same
ideas applied to the explanation of the same set of natural facts. The
sagas, epics and marchen seem to explain nothing, but to be told, in
the first instance, either to illustrate and enforce a moral, or for the
mere pleasure of imaginative narration.

We are thus left, provisionally, with the notion that occasionally the
resemblance of plot and arrangement may be _accidental_. In shaking
the mental kaleidoscope, which contains a given assortment of ideas,
analogous combinations may not impossibly be now and then produced
everywhere. Or the story may have been invented once for all in one
centre, but at a period so incalculably remote that it has filtered, in
the exchanges and contacts of prehistoric life, all over the world, even
to or from the Western Pacific and the lonely Oceanic Islands. Or, once
more, the story may have had a centre in the Old World, say, in India;
may have been carried to Europe by oral tradition or in literary
vehicles, like the _Pantschatantra_ or the _Hitopadesa_, or by gypsies;
may have reached the sailors, and trappers, and miners of civilisation,
and may have been communicated by them (in times subsequent to the
discovery of America by Columbus) to the backward races of the world.

These are preliminary statements of possibilities, and theories more or
less based on those ideas are now to be examined.

The best plan may be to trace briefly the history of the study of
popular tales. As early as Charles Perrault's time (1696), popular
traditional tales had attracted some curiosity, more or less scientific.
Mademoiselle L'Heritier, the Abbe Villiers, and even the writer of
the dedication of Perrault's _Contes_ to Mademoiselle, had expressed
opinions as to the purposes for which they were first told, and the time
and place where they probably arose. The Troubadours, the Arabs, and the
fanciful invention of peasant nurses were vaguely talked of as possible
first authors of the popular tales. About the same time, Huet, Bishop
of Avranches, had remarked that the Hurons in North America amused their
winter leisure with narratives in which beasts endowed with speech and
reason were the chief characters.

Little was done to secure the scientific satisfaction of curiosity
about traditional folk-tales, contes or marchen till the time when the
brothers Grimm collected the stories of Hesse. The Grimms became aware
that the stories were common to the peasant class in most European
lands, and that they were also known in India and the East. As they went
on collecting, they learned that African and North American tribes also
had their marchen, not differing greatly in character from the stories
familiar to German firesides.

Already Sir Walter Scott had observed, in a note to the Lady of the
Lake, that "a work of great interest might be compiled upon the origin
of popular fiction, and the transmission of similar tales from age to
age, and from country to country. The mythology of one period would then
appear to pass into the romance of the next, and that into the nursery
tales of subsequent ages." This opinion has long been almost universal.
Thus, if the story of Jason is found in Greek myths, and also, with
a difference, in popular modern marchen, the notion has been that the
marchen is the last and youngest form, the _detritus_ of the myth.
Now, as the myth is only known from literary sources (Homer, Mimnermus,
Apollonius Rhodius, Euripides, and so on), it must follow, on this
theory, that the people had borrowed from the literature of the more
cultivated classes. As a matter of fact, literature has borrowed far
more from the people than the people have borrowed from literature,
though both processes have been at work in the course of history.
But the question of the relations of marchen to myths, and of both to
romance, may be left unanswered for the moment. More pressing questions
are, what is the origin, and where the original home of the marchen or
popular tales, and how have they been so widely diffused all over the

The answers given to these questions have naturally been modified by the
widening knowledge of the subject. One answer seemed plausible when only
the common character of European _contes_ was known; another was needed
when the Aryan peoples of the East were found to have the same stories;
another, or a modification of the second, was called for when marchen
like those of Europe were found among the Negroes, the Indians of
Brazil, the ancient Huarochiri of Peru, the people of Madagascar,
the Samoyeds, the Samoans, the Dene Hareskins of the extreme American
North-west, the Zulus and Kaffirs, the Bushmen, the Finns, the Japanese,
the Arabs, and the Swahilis.

The Grimms, in the appendix to their _Household Tales_,* give a list
of the stories with which they were acquainted. Out of Europe they note
first the literary collections of the East, the Thousand and One
Nights and the Hitopadesa, which, with the Book of Sinda-bad, and the
Pantschatantra, and the Katharit Sagara, contain almost all of the
Oriental tales that filtered into Western literature through written
translations. The Grimms had not our store of folk-tales recently
collected from the lips of the Aryan and non-Aryan natives of Hindostan,
such as the works of Miss Maive Stokes, of Miss Frere, of Captain Steel,
of Mr. Lai Behar Day, and the few Santal stories. But the Grimms had
some Kalmuck stories.**

     *  Mrs. Hunt's translation, London, 1884.

     **  "The relations of Ssidi Kur," in Bergmann's _Nomadische
     Stretfereien_, vol. i.

One or two Chinese and Japanese examples had fallen into their hands,
and all this as early as 1822. In later years they picked up a
Malay story, some Bechuana tales, Koelle's Kanuri or Bornu stories,
Schoolcraft's and James Athearn Jones's North American legends, Finnish,
Esthonian and Mongolian narratives, and an increasing store of European
_contes_. The Grimms were thus not unaware that the _märchen_, with
their surprising resemblances of plot and incident, had a circulation
far beyond the limits of the Ayran peoples. They were specially struck,
as was natural, by the reappearance of incidents analogous to those of
the German _contes_ (such as _Machandelboom_ and the _Singing Bone_, 47,
28) among the remote Bechuanas of South Africa. They found, too, that in
Sierra Leone beasts and birds play the chief parts in _märchen_. "They
have a much closer connection with humanity,... nay, they have even
priests," as the animals in Guiana have _peays_ or sorcerers of their
own. "Only the beasts of the country itself appear in the _märchen_."
Among these Bornu legends they found several tales analogous to
_Faithful John_ (6), and to one in Stra-parola's _Piacevoli Notti_
(Venice, 1550), a story, by the way, which recurs among the Santals, an
"aboriginal" tribe of India. It is the tale of the man who knows the
language of animals, and is warned by them against telling secrets to
women. Among the Indians of North America Grimm found the analogue
of his tale (182) of the _Elves' Gifts_, which, by the way, also
illustrates a proverb in Japan. Finnish, Tartar and Indian analogues
were discovered in plenty.

Such were Grimm's materials; much less abundant than ours, indeed,
but sufficient to show him that "the resemblance existing between the
stories, not only of nations widely removed from each other by time
and distance, but also between those which lie near together, consists
partly in the underlying idea and the delineation of particular
characters, and partly in the weaving together and unravelling of
incidents". How are these resemblances to be explained? That is the
question. Grimm's answer was, as ours must still be, only a suggestion.
"There are situations so simple and natural that they reappear
everywhere, just like the isolated words which are produced in a nearly
or entirely identical form in languages which have no connection with
each other, by the mere imitation of natural sounds." Thus to a certain,
but in Grimm's opinion to a very limited extent, the existence of
similar situations in the marchen of the most widely separated peoples
is the result of the common facts of human thought and sentiment.

To repeat a convenient illustration, if we find talking and rational
beasts and inanimate objects, and the occurrence of metamorphosis and of
magic, and of cannibals and of ghosts (as we do), in the marchen as in
the higher myths of all the world, and if we also find certain curious
human customs in the contes, these resemblances may be explained as
born of the same early condition of human fancy, which regards all known
things as personal and animated, which believes in ghosts and magic,
while men also behave in accordance with customs now obsolete and
forgotten in civilisation. These common facts are the threads (as we
have said) in the cloth of myth and marchen. They were supplied by the
universal early conditions of the prescientific human intellect;
Thus the stuff of marchen is everywhere the same. But why are the
patterns--the situations, and the arrangements, and sequence of
incidents--also remarkably similar in the contes of unrelated and
unconnected tribes and races everywhere?

Here the difficulty begins in earnest.

It is clearly not enough to force the analogy, and reply that the
patterns of early fabrics and the decorations of early weapons, of
pottery, tattooing marks, and so forth, are also things universally

     * See Custom and Myth, "The Art of Savages," p. 288.

The close resemblances of undeveloped Greek and Mexican and other early
artistic work are interesting, but may be accounted for by similarity of
materials, of instruments, of suggestions from natural objects, and
of inexperience in design. The selections of similar situations and
of similar patterns into which these are interwoven in _märchen_,
by Greeks, Huarochiris of Peru, and Samoans or Eskimos, is much more
puzzling to account for.

Grimm gives some examples in which he thinks that the ideas, and their
collocations in the story, can only have originally occurred to one
mind, once for all. How is the wide distribution of such a story to be
accounted for? Grimm first admits "_as rare exceptions_ the probability
of a story's passing from one people to another, and firmly rooting
itself in foreign soil". But such cases, he says, are "one or two
solitary exceptions," whereas the diffusion of stories which, in his
opinion, could only have been invented once for all is an extensive
phenomenon. He goes on to say, "We shall be asked where the outermost
lines of common property in stories begin, and how the lines of affinity
are gradated". His answer was not satisfactory even to himself, and the
additions to our knowledge have deprived it of any value. "The outermost
lines are coterminous with those of the great race which is called
Indo-Germanic." Outside of the Indo-Germanic, or "Aryan" race, that is
to say, are found none of the _märchen_ which are discovered within the
borders of that race. But Grimm knew very well himself that this was an
erroneous belief. "We see with amazement in such of the stories of the
Negroes of Bornu and the Bechuanas (a wandering tribe in South Africa)
as we have become acquainted with _an undeniable connection with
the German ones_, while at the same time their peculiar composition
distinguishes them from these." So Grimm, though he found "no decided
resemblance" in North American stories, admitted that the boundaries
of common property in marchen did include more than the "Indo-Germanic"
race. Bechuanas, and Negroes, and Finns, as he adds, and as Sir George
Dasent saw,* are certainly within the fold.

     * _Popular Tales from the Norse_, 1859, pp. liv., lv.

There William Grimm left the question in 1856. His tendency apparently
was to explain the community of the marchen on the hypothesis that they
were the original common store of the undivided Aryan people, carried
abroad in the long wanderings of the race. But he felt that the presence
of the marchen among Bechuanas, Negroes and Finns was not thus to be
explained. At the same time he closed the doors against a theory of
borrowing, except in "solitary exceptions," and against the belief
in frequent, separate and independent evolution of the same story in
various unconnected regions. Thus Grimm states the question, but does
not pretend to have supplied its answer.

The solutions offered on the hypothesis that the marchen are exclusively
Aryan, and that they are the _detritus_ or youngest and latest forms of
myths, while these myths are concerned with the elemental phenomena of
Nature, and arose out of the decay of language, have been so frequently
criticised that they need not long detain us.* The most recent review
of the system is by M. Cosquin.** In place of repeating objections which
have been frequently urged by the present writer, an abstract of M.
Cosquin's reasons for differing from the "Aryan" theory of Von Hahn
may be given. Voh Hahn was the collector and editor of stories from the
modern Greek,*** and his work is scholarly and accomplished. He drew up
comparative tables showing the correspondence between Greek and German
_märchen_ on the one side, and Greek and Teutonic epics and higher
legends or sagas on the other. He also attempted to classify the stories
in a certain number of recurring _formula_ or plots. Lin Von Hahn's
opinion, the stories were originally the myths of the undivided Aryan
people in its central Asian home. As the different branches scattered
and separated, they carried with them their common store of myths, which
were gradually worn down into the _detritus_ of popular stories, "the
youngest form of the myth". The same theory appeared (in 1859) in Mr.
Max Muller's _Chips from a German Workshop_**** The undivided Aryan
people possessed, in its mythological and proverbial phraseology, the
seeds or germs, more or less developed, which would nourish, under any
sky, into very similar plants--that is, the popular stories.

     * See our Introduction to Mrs. Hunt's translation of Grimm's
     Household Tales.

     ** Contes Populaire de Lorraine, Paris, 1886, pp. i., xv.

     ***  Grieschische und Albanesische Marchen, 1864.

     **** Vol. ii. p. 226.

Against these ideas M. Cosquin argues that if the Aryan people before
its division preserved the myths only in their _earliest germinal form_,
it is incredible that, when the separated branches had lost touch of
each other, the final shape of their myths, the _märchen_, should have
so closely resembled each other as they do. The Aryan theory (as it may
be called for the sake of brevity) rejects, as a rule, the idea that
tales can, as a rule, have been _borrowed_, even by one Aryan people
from another.* "Nursery tales are generally the last things to be
borrowed by one nation from another."** Then, says M. Cosquin, as the
undivided Aryan people had only the myths in their least developed
state, and as the existing peasantry have only the _detritus_ of these
myths--the _märchen_--and as you say borrowing is out of the question,
how do you account for a coincidence like _this_? In the Punjaub, among
the Bretons, the Albanians, the modern Greeks and the Russians we find
a _conte_ in which a young man gets possession of a magical ring. This
ring is stolen from him, and recovered by the aid of certain grateful
beasts, whom the young man has benefited. His foe keeps the ring in his
mouth, but the grateful mouse, insinuating his tail into the nose of the
thief, makes him sneeze, and out comes the magical ring!

     * Cox, Mythol. of Aryan Nations, i. 109.

     ** Max Müller, Chips, ii. 216.

Common sense insists, says M. Cosquin, that this detail was invented
once for all. It must have first occurred, not in a myth, but in
a _conte_ or _märchen_, from which all the others alike proceed.
Therefore, if you wish the idea of the mouse and the ring and the sneeze
to be a part of the store of the undivided Aryans, you must admit
that they had _contes, märchen_, popular stories, what you call the
_detritus_ of myths, as well as myths themselves, before they left
their cradle in Central Asia. "Nos ancetres, les peres des nations
europeennes, auraient, de cette facon, emporte dans leurs fourgons la
collection complete de contes Ibleus actuels." In short, if there was
no borrowing, myths have been reduced (on the Aryan theory) to the
condition of _detritus_, to the diamond dust of mar-chen, before the
Aryan people divided. But this is contrary to the hypothesis.

M. Cosquin does not pause here. The _märchen_--mouse, ring, sneeze and
all--is found among _non-Aryan_ tribes, "the inhabitants of Mardin
in Mesopotamia and the Kariaines of Birmanie".* Well, if there was no
borrowing, how did the non-Aryan peoples get the story?

     * Cosquin, i, xi., xii., with his authorities in note 1.

M. Cosquin concludes that the theory he attacks is untenable, and
determines that, "after having been invented in this place or that,
which we must discover" [if we can], "the popular tales of the various
European nations (to mention these alone) have spread all over the world
from people to people by way of borrowing". In arriving at this opinion,
M. Cosquin admits, as is fair, that the Grimms, not having our
knowledge of non-Aryan _märchen_ (Mongol, Syrian, Arab, Kabyle, Swahili,
Annamite--he might have added very many more), could not foresee all the
objections to the theory of a store common to Aryans alone.

Were we constructing an elaborate treatise on  _märchen_, it would be
well in this place to discuss the Aryan theory at greater length. That
theory turns on the belief that popular stories are the _detritus_ of
Aryan myths. It would be necessary then to discuss the philological
hypothesis of the origin and nature of these original Aryan myths
themselves; but to do so would lead us far from the study of mere
popular tales.*

Leaving the Aryan theory, we turn to that supported by M. Cosquin
himself--the theory, as he says, of Benfey.**

Inspired by Benfey, M. Cosquin says: "The method must be to take each
type of story successively, and to follow it, if we can, from age to
age, from people to; people, and see where this voyage of discovery will
lead us. Now, travelling thus from point to point, often by different
routes, we always arrive at the same centre, namely, at India, _not the
India of fabulous times_, but the India of actual history."

The theory of M. Cosquin is, then, that the popular stories of the
world, or rather the vast majority of them, were _invented_ in India,
and that they were carried from India, during the historical period, by
various routes, till they were scattered over all the races among whom
they are found.

This is a venturesome theory, and is admitted, apparently, to have
its exceptions. For example, we possess ancient Egyptian popular tales
corresponding to those of the rest of the world, but older by far than
historical India, from which, according to M. Cosquin, the stories set
forth on their travels.***

     * It has already been attempted in our Custom and Myth;
     Introduction to Mrs. Hunt's Grimm; La Mythologie, and

     ** For M. Benfey's notions, see Bulletin de I' Academie de
     Saint Petersburg, September 4-16, 1859, and Pantschatantra,
     Leipzig, 1859.

     *** See M. Maspero's collection, _Contes Populaires de
     l'Egypte Ancienne_, Paris, 1882.

One of these Egyptian tales, The Two Brothers, was actually written down
on the existing manuscript in the time of Rameses II., some 1400 years
before our era, and many centuries before India had any known history.
No man can tell, moreover, how long it had existed before it was
copied out by the scribe Ennana. Now this tale, according to M. Cosquin
himself, has points in common with _märchen_ from Hesse, Hungary,
Russia, modern Greece, France, Norway, Lithuania, Hungary, Servia,
Annam, modern India, and, we may add, with Samoyed _märchen_, with
Hottentot _marchen_, and with _märchen_ from an "aboriginal" people of
India, the Santals.

We ask no more than this one _märchen_ of ancient Egypt to upset the
whole theory that India was the original home of the contes, and that
from historic India they have been carried by oral transmission, and
in literary vehicles, all over the world. First let us tell the story
briefly, and then examine its incidents each separately, and set forth
the consequences of that examination.

According to the story of _The Two Brothers_--

Once upon a time there were two brothers; Anapou was the elder, the
younger was called Bitiou. Anapou was married, and Bitiou lived with
him as his servant. When he drove the cattle to feed, he heard what they
said to each other, and drove them where they told him the pasture was
best. One day his brother's wife saw him carrying a very heavy burden of
grain, and she fell in love with his force, and said, "Come and lie with
me, and I will make thee goodly raiment".

But he answered, "Art thou not as my mother, and my brother as a father
to me? Speak to me thus no more, and never will I tell any man what a
word thou hast said."

Then she cast dust on her head, and went to her husband, saying, "Thy
brother would have lain with me; slay him or I die".

Then the elder brother was like a panther of the south, and he sharpened
his knife, and lay in wait behind the door. And when the sun set, Bitiou
came driving his cattle; but the cow that walked before them all said
to him, "There stands thine elder brother with his knife drawn to slay

Then he saw the feet of his brother under the door, and he fled, his
brother following him; and he cried to Ra, and Ra heard him, and between
him and his brother made a great water flow full of crocodiles.

Now in the morning the younger brother told the elder all the truth, and
he mutilated himself, and cast it into the water, and the _calmar_ fish
devoured it. And he said, "I go to the Valley of Acacias" (possibly a
mystic name for the next world), "and in an acacia tree I shall place my
heart; and if men cut the tree, and my heart falls, thou shalt seek
it for seven years, and lay it in a vessel of water. Then shall I live
again and requite the evil that hath been done unto me. And the sign
that evil hath befallen me shall be when the cup of beer in thy hand is
suddenly turbid and troubled."

Then the elder brother cast dust on his head and besmeared his face, and
went home and slew his wicked wife.

Now the younger brother dwelt in the Valley of Acacias, and all the gods
came by that way, and they pitied his loneliness, and Chnum made for him
a wife.* And the seven Hathors came and prophesied, saying, "_She shall
die an ill death and a violent_". And Bitiou loved her, and told her the
secret of his life, and that he should die when his heart fell from the
acacia tree.

     * Chnum is the artificer among the gods.

Now, a lock of the woman's hair fell into the river, and it floated to
the place where Pharaoh's washermen were at work. And the sweet
lock perfumed all the raiment of Pharaoh, and the washermen knew not
wherefore, and they were rebuked. Then Pharaoh's chief washerman went
to the water and found the hair of the wife of Bitiou; and Pharaoh's
magicians went to him and said, "Our lord, thou must marry the woman
from whose head this tress of hair hath floated hither". And Pharaoh
hearkened unto them, and he sent messengers even to the Valley of
Acacias, and they came unto the wife of Bitiou. And she said, "First you
must slay my husband"; and she showed them the acacia tree, and they out
the flower that held the heart of Bitiou, and he died.

Then it so befel that the brother of Bitiou held in his hand a cup of
beer, and, lo! the beer was troubled. And he said, "Alas, my brother!"
and he sought his brother's heart, and he found it in the berry of the
acacia. Then he laid it in a cup of fresh water, and Bitiou drank of it,
and his heart went into his own place, and lived again.

Then said Bitiou, "Lo! I shall become the bull, even Apis" (Hapi); and
they led him to the king, and all men rejoiced that Apis was found. But
the bull went into the chamber of the king's women, and he spake to the
woman that had been the wife of Bitiou. And she was afraid, and said to
Pharaoh, "Wilt thou swear to give me my heart's desire?" and he swore it
with an oath. And she said, "Slay that bull that I may eat his liver".
Then felt Pharaoh sick for sorrow, yet for his oath's sake he let slay
the bull. And there fell of his blood two quarts on either side of the
son of Pharaoh, and thence grew two persea trees, great and fair, and
offerings were made to the trees, as they had been gods.

Then the wife of Pharaoh went forth in her chariot, and the tree spake
to her, saying, "I am Bitiou". And she let cut down that tree, and a
chip leaped into her mouth, and she conceived and bare a son. And that
child was Bitiou; and when he came to full age and was prince of that
land, he called together the councillors of the king, and accused the
woman, and they slew her. And he sent for his elder brother, and made
him a prince in the land of Egypt.

We now propose to show, not only that the incidents of this tale--far
more ancient than historic India as it is--are common in the _märchen_
of many countries, but that they are inextricably entangled and
intertwisted with the chief plots of popular tales. There are few of the
main cycles of popular tales which do not contain, as essential parts of
their machinery, one or more of the ideas and situations of this legend.
There is thus at least a presumption that these cycles of story may have
been in existence in the reign of Rameses II., and for an indefinite
period earlier; while, if they were not, and if they are made of
borrowed materials, it may have been from the Egypt of an unknown
antiquity, not from much later Indian sources, that they were adapted.

The incidents will now be analysed and compared with those of _märchen_
in general.

To this end let us examine the incidents in the ancient Egyptian tale of
_The Two Brothers_. These incidents are:--

(1) The _spretæ injuria formæ_ of the wedded woman, who, having offered
herself in vain to a man, her brother-in-law, accuses him of being her
assailant. This incident, of course, occurs in Homer, in the tale of
Bellerophon, before we know anything of historic India. This, moreover,
seems one of the notions (M. Cosquin admits, with Benfey, that there
are such notions) which are "universally human," and _might_ be invented

(2) The Egyptian Hippolytus is warned of his danger by his cow, which
speaks with human voice. Every one will recognise the ram which warns
Phrixus and Helle in the Jason legend.* In the Albanian _märchen_,**
a _dog_, not a cow nor a ram, gives warning of the danger. Animals, in
short, often warn of danger by spoken messages, as the fish does in the
Brahmanic deluge-myth, and the dog in a deluge-myth from North America.

     * The authority cited by the scholiast (Apoll. Rhod.,
     Argon., i. 256) is Hecatseus.   Scholiast on Iliad, vii. 86,
     quotes Philostephanus.

     **  Von Hahn, i. 65.

(3) The accused brother is pursued by his kinsman, and about to be
slain, when Ra, at his prayer, casts between him and the avenger a
stream full of crocodiles. This incident is at least not very unlike one
of the most widely diffused of all incidents of story--the _flight_ in
which the runaways cause magical rivers or lakes suddenly to cut off
the pursuer. This narrative of the flight and the obstacles is found in
Scotch, Gaelic, Japanese (no water obstacle), Zulu, Russian, Samoan, and
in "The Red Horse of the Delawares," a story from Dacotah, as well as in
India and elsewhere.* The difference is, that in the Egyptian _conte_,
as it has reached us in literary form, the fugitive appeals to Ra to
help him, instead of magically making a river by throwing water or
a bottle behind him, as is customary. It may be conjectured that the
substitution of divine intervention in response to prayer for magical
self-help is the change made by a priestly scribe in the traditional

     * See Folk-Lore Journal, April, 1886, review of _Houston's
     Popular Stories_, for examples of the magic used in the

     ** Maspero, Contes, p. 13, note 1.

(4) Next morning the brothers parley across the stream. The younger
first mutilates himself (_Atys_) then says he is going to the vale of
the acacia, according to M. Maspero probably a name for the other world.
Meanwhile the younger brother will put his _heart_ in a high acacia
tree. If the tree is cut down, the elder brother must search for the
_heart_, and place it in a jar of water, when the younger brother will
revive. Here we have the idea which recurs in the Samoyed marchen where
the men lay aside their hearts, in which are their separable lives. As

Ralston says,* "This heart-breaking episode occurs in the tales of
many lands". In the Russian the story is Koschchei the deathless, whose
"death" (or life) lies in an egg, in a duck, on a log, in the ice.** As
Mr. Ralston well remarks, a very singular parallel to the revival of the
Egyptian brothers heart in water is the Hottentot tale of a girl eaten
by a lion. Her heart is extracted from the lion, is placed in a calabash
of milk, and the girl comes to life again.***

(5) The younger brother gives the elder a sign magical, whereby he shall
know how it fares with the heart. When a cup of beer suddenly grows
turbid, then evil has befallen the heart. This is merely one of the
old _sympathetic signs_ of story--the opal that darkens; the comb of
Lemminkainen in the _Kalewala_ that drops blood when its owner is in
danger; the stick that the hero erects as he leaves home, and which will
fall when he is imperilled. In Australia the natives practise this magic
with a stick, round which they bind the hair of the distant person about
whose condition they want to be informed.**** This incident, turning on
the belief in _sympathies_, might perhaps be regarded as "universally
human" and capable of being invented anywhere.

     * Russian Folk-Tales, 109.

     ** In Norse, Asbjornsen and Moe, 36; Dasent, 9. Gaelic,
     Campbell, i. 4, p. 81. Indian, "Punchkin," Old Deccan Days,
     pp. 13-16. Samoyed, Castren, Ethnol. Varies liber die
     Altaischen Volker., p. 174.

     *** Bleek, Reynard the Fox of South Africa, p. 57.

     **** Dawson, Australian Aborigines, p. 36, 1881.   The stick
     used is the "throwing stick" wherewith the spear is
     hurled,(6)  The elder brother goes home and kills his wife.
     The gods pity the younger Bitiou in the Valley of Acacias,
     and make him a wife.

M. Cosquin has found in France the trait of the blood that boils in the
glass when the person concerned is in danger.

(7) The three Hathors come to her creation, and prophesy for her a
violent death. For this incident compare Perrault's _The Sleeping
Beauty_ and Maury's work on _Les Fees_. The spiritual midwives and
prophetesses at the hour of birth are familiar in _märchen_ as Fairies,
and Fates, and Mæræ.

(8) The river carries a tress of the hair of Bitiou's wife to the feet
of Pharaoh's washermen; the scent perfumes all the king's linen. Pharaoh
falls in love with the woman from whose locks this tress has come. For
this incident compare _Cinderella_. In Santal and Indian _märchen_ a
tress of hair takes the place of the glass-slipper, and the amorous
prince or princess will only marry the person from whose head the lock
has come. Here M. Cosquin himself gives Siamese, Mongol, Bengali (Lai
Behar Day, p. 86), and other examples of the lock of hair doing duty for
the slipper with which the lover is smitten, and by which he recognises
his true love.

(9) The wife of Bitiou reveals the secret of his heart. The people of
Pharaoh cut down the acacia tree.

(10) His brother reads in the turbid beer the death of Bitiou. He
discovers the heart and life in a berry of the acacia.

It is superfluous to give modern parallels to the various
transformations of the life of Bitiou. He becomes an Apis bull, and his
faithless wife desires his death, and wishes to eat his liver, but his
life goes on in other forms. This is merely the familiar situation of
the ass in _Peau d'Ane_ (the ass who clearly, before Perrault's time,
had been human).

_Demandez lui la peau de ce rare animal!_

In most traditional versions of _Cinderella_ will be found examples of
the beast, once human, slain by an enemy, yet potent after death. This
beast takes the part given by Perrault to the fairy godmother. The
idea is also familiar in Grimm's _Machandelboom_ (47), and was found by
Casalis among the Bechuanas.

(11) The wicked wife obtains the bull Apis's death by virtue of a _hasty
oath_ of Pharaoh's (_Jephtha, Herodias_).

(12) The blood of the bull grows into two persea trees.

Here M. Cosquin himself supplies parallels of blood turning into trees
from Hesse (Wolf, p. 394) and from Russian. We may add the ancient
Lydian myth. When the gods slew Agdistis, a drop of his blood became an
almond tree, the fruit of which made women pregnant.*

     * Pausanias, vii. 17.

(13) The persea tree is also cut down by the wicked wife of Bitiou. A
chip from its boughs is swallowed by the wicked wife, who conceives,
like Margata in the _Kalewala_, and bears a son.

The story of Agdistis, just quoted, is in point, but the topic is of
enormous range, and the curious may consult _Le Fils de Vierge_ by M. H.
De Charencey. Compare also Surya Bay in _Old Deccan Days_ (6). The final
resurrection of Surya Bay is exactly like that in the Hottentot tale
already quoted. Surya is drowned by a jealous rival, becomes a golden
flower, is burned, becomes a mango; one of the fruits falls into a
calabash of milk, and out of the calabash, like the Hottentot girl,
comes Surya!

(14) The son of the persea tree was Bitiou, born of his own faithless
wife; and when he grew up he had her put to death.

Even a hasty examination of these incidents from old Egypt proves
that before India was heard of in history the people of the Pharaohs
possessed a large store of incidents perfectly familiar in modern
marchen. Now, if one single Egyptian tale yields this rich supply, it is
an obvious presumption that the collection of an Egyptian Grimm
might, and probably would, have furnished us with the majority of the
situations common in popular tales. M. Cosquin himself remarks that
these ideas cannot be invented more than once (I. lxvii.). The other
Egyptian contes, as that of _Le Prince Predestine_ (twentieth dynasty),
and the noted _Master Thief_ of Herodotus (ii. 121), are merely familiar
marchen of the common type, and have numerous well-known analogues.

From all these facts M. Cosquin draws no certain conclusions. He asks:
Did Egypt borrow these tales from India, or India from Egypt? _And were
there Aryans in India in the time of Rameses II.?_

These questions are beyond conjecture. We know nothing of Egyptian
relations with prehistoric India. We know not how many aeons the tale
of _The Two Brothers_ may have existed in Egypt before Ennana, the head
librarian, wrote it out for Pharaoh's treasurer, Qagabou.

What we do know is, that if we find a large share of the whole stock of
incident of popular tale fully developed in one single story long before
India was historic, it is perfectly vain to argue that all stories were
imported from historic India. It is impossible to maintain that the
single centre whence the stories spread was not the India of fable, but
the India of history, when we discover such abundance of story material
in Egypt before, as far as is known, India \ had even become the India
of fable.

The topic is altogether too obscure for satisfactory argument. Certainly
the _märchen_ were at home in Egypt before we have even reason to
believe that Egypt and India were conscious of each other's existence.

The antiquity of _märchen_ by the Nile-side touches geological time, if
we agree with M. Maspero that Bitiou is a form of Osiris, that is, that
the Osiris myth may have been developed out of the Bitiou _märchen_.*

     * Maspero, op. cit., p. 17, note 1.

The Osiris myth is as old as the Egypt we know, and the story of Bitiou
may be either the _detritus_ or the germ of the myth. This gives it
a dateless antiquity; and with this _märchen_ the kindred and allied
_märchen_ establish a claim to enormous age. But it is quite impossible
to say when these tales were first invented. We cannot argue that the
cradle of a story is the place where it first received literary form.
We know not whence the Egyptians came to Nile-side; we know not whether
they brought the story with them, or found it among some nameless
earlier people, fugitives from Kor, perhaps, or anywhere else. We
know not whether the remote ancestors of modern peoples, African, or
European, or Asiatic, who now possess forms of the tale, borrowed it
from a people more ancient than Egypt, or from Egypt herself. These
questions are at present insoluble. We only know for certain that, when
we find anywhere any one of the numerous incidents of the story of _The
Two Brothers_, we can be certain that their original home was _not_
historic India. There is also the presumption that, if we knew more
of the tales of ancient Egypt, we could as definitely refuse to regard
historic India as the cradle of many other _märchen_.

Thus, in opposition to the hypothesis of borrowing from India, we reach
some distinct and assured, though negative, truths.

1. So far as the ideas in _The Two Brothers_ are representative of
_märchen_ (and these ideas are inextricably interwoven with some of the
most typical legends), _historic_ India is certainly and demonstrably
_not_ the cradle of popular tales. These are found far earlier already
in the written literature of Egypt.

2. As far as these ideas are representative of _märchen_, there is
absolutely no evidence to show that _märchen_ sprang from India, whether
historical or prehistoric; nor is any connection proved between ancient
Egypt and prehistoric India.

3. As far as _märchen_ are represented by the ideas in _The Two
Brothers_ and the _Predestined Prince_, there is absolutely no evidence
to show in what region or where they were originally invented.

The Bellerophon story rests on a _donnee_ in _The Two Brothers_; the
_Flight_ rests on another; _Cinderella_ reposes on a third; the giant
with no heart in his body depends on a fourth; the _Milk-White Dove_ on
the same; and these incidents occur in Hottentot, Bechuana, Samoyed,
Samoan, as well as in Greek, Scotch, German, Gaelia Now, as all these
incidents existed in Egyptian _marchen_ fourteen hundred years before
Christ, they _may_ have been dispersed without Indian intervention. One
of the white raiders from the Northern Sea may have been made captive,
like the pseud-Odysseus, in Egypt; may have heard the tales; may have
been ransomed, and carried the story to Greece or Libya, whence a Greek
got it. Southwards it may have passed up the Nile to the Great Lakes,
and down the Congo and Zambesi, and southward ever with the hordes of
T'Chaka's ancestors. All these processes are possible and even probable,
but absolutely nothing is known for certain on the subject. It is only
as manifest as facts can be that all this might have occurred if the
Indian peninsula _did not exist._ Another objection to the hypothesis
of distribution from historic India is the existence of sagas or epic
legends corresponding to marchen in pre-Homeric Greece. The story of
Jason, for example, is in its essential features, perhaps, the most
widely diffused of all.* The story of the return of the husband, and
of his difficult recognition by his wife, the central idea of the
_Odyssey_, is of wide distribution, and the _Odyssey_ (as Fenelon makes
the ghost of Achilles tell Homer in Hades) is _un amas de contes de
vieilles_. The Cyclops, the Siren, Scylla, and the rest,** these tales
did not reach Greece from historic India at least, and we have no reason
for supposing that India before the dawn of history was their source.

     * Custom and Myth, "A Far-Travelled Tale ".

     ** Gerland, Alt Griechische Marchen in der Odyssee.

The reasons for which India has been regarded as a great centre and
fountain-head of popular stories are, on the other hand, excellent, if
the theory is sufficiently limited. The cause is _vera causa_. Marchen
certainly did set out from mediaeval India, and reached mediaeval Europe
and Asia in abundance. Not to speak of oral communications in the great
movements, missions and migrations, Tartar, crusading, Gypsy, commercial
and Buddhistic--in all of which there must have been "swopping of
stories"--it is certain that Western literature was actually invaded by
the _contes_ which had won away into the literature of India.* These are
facts beyond doubt, but these facts must not be made the basis of
too wide an inference. Though so many stories have demonstrably been
borrowed from India in the historical period, it is no less certain that
many existed in Europe before their introduction. Again, as has been
ably argued by a writer in the _Athenaeum_ (April 23, 1887), the
literary versions of the tales probably had but a limited influence on
the popular narrators, the village gossips and grandmothers. Thus no
collection of published tales has ever been more popular than that of
Charles Perrault, which for many years has been published not only in
cheap books, but in cheaper broadsheets.

     * Cosquin, op. cit., i. xv., xxiv.; Max Müller, "The
     Migrations of Fables," Selected Essays, vol. ii., Appendix;
     Benfey, Pantschatantra; Comparetti, Introduction to Book of
     Sindibad, English translation of the Folk-Lore Society.

Yet M. Sebillot and other French collectors gather from the lips of
peasants versions of _Cinderella_, for example, quite unaffected by
Perrault's version, and rich in archaic features, such as the presence
of a miracle-working beast instead of a fairy godmother. That detail
is found in Kaffir, and Santhal, and Finnish, as well as in Celtic, and
Portuguese, and Scottish variants, and has been preserved in popular
French traditions, despite the influence of Perrault. In the same
way, M. Carnoy finds only the faintest traces of the influence of a
collection so popular as the _Arabian Nights_. The peasantry regard
tales which they read in books as quite apart from their inherited store
of legend.*

     * Sebillot's popular Cendrillon is Le Taureau Bleu in Contes
     de la Haute Bretagne.   See also M. Carnoy's Contes
     Francais, 1885, p. 9.

If printed literature has still so little power over popular tradition,
the manuscript literature of the Middle Ages must have had much less,
though sometimes _contes_ from India were used as parables by preachers.
Thus we must beware of over-estimating the effect of importation from
India, even where it distinctly existed. Even the versions that were
brought in the Middle Ages by oral tradition must have encountered
versions long settled in Europe--versions which may have been current
before any scribe of Egypt perpetuated a legend on papyrus.

Once more, the Indian theory has to account for the presence of tales in
Africa and America among populations which are not known to have had any
contact with India at all. Where such examples are urged, it is usual to
say that the stories either do not really resemble our _märchen_, or
are quite recent importations by Europeans, Dutch, French, English
and others.* Here we are on ground where proof is difficult, if not
impossible. Assuredly French influence declares itself in certain
narratives collected from the native tribes of North America. On
the other hand, when the _märchen_ is interwoven with the national
traditions and poetry of a remote people, and with the myths by which
they account to themselves for the natural features of their own
country, the hypothesis of recent borrowing from Europeans appears
insufficient. A striking example is the song of Siati (a form of the
Jason myth) among the people of Samoa.** Even more remarkable is the
presence of a crowd of familiar _märchen_ in the national traditions of
the Huarochiri, a pre-Inca civilised race of Southern Peru. These were
published, or at least collected and written down, by Francisco de
Avila, a Spanish priest, about 1608. He remarks that "these traditions
are deeply rooted in the hearts of the people of this province".***
These traditions refer to certain prehistoric works of engineering
or accidents of soil, whereby the country was drained. The Huarochiri
explained them by a series of _märchen_ about Huthiacuri, Pariaca
(culture-heroes), and about friendly animals which aided them in the
familiar way. In the same manner exactly the people of the Marais of
Poitou have to account for the drainage of the country, a work of the
twelfth century.

     * Cosquin, op. cit, 1, xix.

     ** Turner's Samoa, p. 102.

     *** Rites of the Incas. Hakluyt Society. The third document
     in the book. The _märchen_ have been examined by me in _The
     Marriage of Cupid and Psyche_, p. lxxii.

They attribute the old works to the local hero, Gargantua, who "drank
up all the water".* No one supposes that this legend is borrowed from
Rabelais, and it seems even more improbable that the Huarochiri hastily
borrowed _märchen_ from the Spaniards, and converted them before 1600
into national myths.

     * _Revue des Traditions Populaires_, April 25,1887, p. 186.

We have few opportunities of finding examples of remote American
_märchen_ recorded so early as this, and generally the hypothesis
of recent borrowing from Europeans, or from Negroes influenced by
Europeans, is at least possible, and it would be hard to prove a
negative. But the case of the Huarochiri throws doubt on the hypothesis
of recent borrowing as the invariable cause of the diffusion of
_märchen_ in places beyond the reach of historic India.

The only way (outside of direct evidence) to prove borrowing would be to
show that ideas and customs peculiarly Indian (for example) occur in the
_märchen_ of people destitute of these ideas. But it would be hard to
ask believers in the Indian theory to exhibit such survivals. In the
first place, if _contes_ have been borrowed, it seems that a new "local
colour" was given to them almost at the moment of transference. The Zulu
and Kaffir _märchen_ are steeped in Zulu and Kaffir colour, and the life
they describe is rich in examples of rather peculiar native rites and
ceremonies, seldom if ever essential to the conduct of the tale. Thus,
if stories are "adapted" (like French plays) in the moment of borrowing,
it will be cruel to ask supporters of the Indian theory for traces of
Indian traits and ideas in European _märchen_. Again, apart from special
yet non-essential matters of etiquette (such as the ceremonies with
which certain kinsfolk are treated, or the initiation of girls at
the marriageable age), the ideas and customs found in marchen
are practically universal As has been shown, the super-natural
stuff--metamorphosis, equality of man, beasts and things, magic and
the like--_is_ universal. Thus little remains that could be fixed on as
especially the custom or idea of any one given people. For instance,
in certain variants of _Puss in Boots_, Swahili, Avar, Neapolitan,
the beast-hero makes it a great point that, when he dies, he is to be
_honourably buried_. Now what peoples give beasts honourable burial? We
know the cases of ancient Egyptians, Samoans, Arabs and Athenians (in
the case, at least, of the wolf), and probably there are many more. Thus
even so peculiar an idea or incident as this cannot be proved to belong
to a definite region, or to come from any one original centre.*

     * See Deulin, Gontes de ma Mire l'Oye, and Reinhold Kohler
     in Gonzenbach's Siclianische Marchen, No. 65.

By the very nature of the case, therefore, it is difficult for M.
Cosquin and other supporters of the Indian theory to prove the existence
of Indian ideas in European marchen. Nor do they establish this point.
They urge that _charity to beasts_ and the _gratitude of beasts_,
as contrasted with human lack of gratitude, are Indian, and perhaps
Buddhist ideas. Thus the Buddha gave his own living body to a famished
tigress. But so, according to Garcilasso, were the subjects of the Incas
wont to do, and they were not Buddhists. The beasts in marchen, again,
are just as often, or even more frequently, helpful to men without any
motive of gratitude; nor would it be fair to argue that the notion of
gratitude has dropped out, because we find friendly beasts all the world
over, totems and manitous, who have never been benefited by man. The
favours are all on the side of the totems. It is needless to adduce
again the evidence on this topic. M. Cosquin adds that the belief in the
equality and interchangeability of attributes and aspect between man
and beast is "une idee bien indienne," and derived from the doctrine of
metempsychosis, "qui efface la distinction entre l'homme et l'animal,
et qui en tout vivant voit un frere". But it has been demonstrated that
this belief in the equality and kinship not only of all animate, but all
inanimate nature, is the very basis of Australian, Zuni and all other
philosophies of the backward races. No idea can be less peculiar to
India; it is universal. Once more, the belief that shape-shifting
(metamorphosis) can be achieved by skin-shifting, by donning or doffing
the hide of a beast, is no more "peculiarly Indian" than the other
conceptions. Benfey, to be sure, laid stress on this point;* but it is
easy to produce examples of skin-shifting and consequent metamorphosis
from Roman, North American, Old Scandinavian, Thlinkeet, Slav and Vogul
ritual and myths.** There remains only a trace of polygamy in European
marchen to speak of specially Indian influence.*** But polygamy is not
peculiar to India, nor is monogamy a recent institution in Europe.

     * Pantschatantra, I 265.

     ** Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, pp. lx., lxiv., where
     examples and authorities are given.

     *** Cosquin, op. cit, i., xxx.

Thus each "peculiarly Indian" idea supposed to be found in marchen
proves to be practically universal. So the whole Indian hypothesis is
attacked on every side. _Contes_ are far older than _historic_ India.
Nothing raises even a presumption that they first arose in _prehistoric_
India. They are found in places where they could hardly have travelled
from historic India. Their ideas are not peculiarly Indian, and though
many reached Europe and Asia in literary form derived from India during
the Middle Ages, and were even used as parables in sermons, yet the
majority of European folk-tales have few traces of Indian influence.
Some examples of this influence, as when the "frame-work" of an Oriental
collection has acquired popular circulation, will be found in Professor
Crane's interesting book, _Italian Popular Tales_, pp. 168, 359. But to
admit this is very different from asserting that German _Hausmarchen_
are all derived from "Indian and Arabian originals, with necessary
changes of costume and manners," which is, apparently, the opinion of
some students.

What remains to do is to confess ignorance of the original centre of the
_märchen_, and inability to decide dogmatically which stories must have
been invented only once for all, and which may have come together by
the mere blending of the universal elements of imagination. It is only
certain that no limit can be put to a story's power of flight _per ora
virum_. It may wander wherever merchants wander, wherever captives
are dragged, wherever slaves are sold, wherever the custom of exogamy
commands the choice of alien wives. Thus the story flits through the
who let race and over the whole world. Wherever human communication is or
has been possible, there the story may go, and the space of time during
which the courses of the sea and the paths of the land have been open to
story is dateless and unknown. Here the story may dwindle to a fireside
tale; there it may become an epic in the mouth of Homer or a novel in
the hands of Madame D'Aulnoy or Miss Thackeray. The savage makes the
characters beasts or birds; the epic \ poet or saga-man made them heroic
kings, or lovely, baleful sorceresses, daughters of the Sun; the French
Countess makes them princesses and countesses. Like its own heroes, the
popular story can assume every shape; like some of them, it has drunk
the waters of immortality.*

     * A curious essay by Mr. H. E. Warner, on "The Magical
     Flight," urges that there is no plot, but only a fortuitous
     congeries of story-atoms (Scribner's Magazine, June, 1887).
     There is a good deal to be said, in this case, for Mr.
     Warner's conclusions.

APPENDIX A. Fontenelle's forgotten common sense

In the opinion of Aristotle, most discoveries and inventions have been
made time after time and forgotten again. Aristotle may not have been
quite correct in this view; and his remarks, perhaps, chiefly applied
to politics, in which every conceivable and inconceivable experiment has
doubtless been attempted. In a field of less general interest--namely,
the explanation of the absurdities of mythology--the true cause was
discovered more than a hundred years ago by a man of great reputation,
and then was quietly forgotten. Why did the ancient peoples--above all,
the Greeks--tell such extremely gross and irrational stories about their
Gods and heroes? That is the riddle of the mythological Sphinx. It was
answered briefly, wittily and correctly by Fontenelle; and the answer
was neglected, and half a dozen learned but impossible theories have
since come in and out of fashion. Only within the last ten years
has Fontenelle's idea been, not resuscitated, but rediscovered. The
followers of Mr. E. B. Taylor, Mannhardt, Gaidoz, and the rest, do not
seem to be aware that they are only repeating the notions of the nephew
of Corneille.

The Academician's theory is stated in a short essay, De l'Origine
des Fables (OEuvres: Paris, 1758, vol. iii. p.270). We have been so
accustomed from childhood, he says, to the absurdities of Greek myth,
that we have ceased to be aware that they are absurd. Why are the
legends of men and beasts and Gods so incredible and revolting? Why have
we ceased to tell such tales? The answer is, that early men were in
"a state of almost inconceivable savagery and ignorance," and that the
Greek myths are inherited from people in that condition. "Look at the
Kaffirs and Iroquois," says Fontenelle, "if you wish to know what early
men were like; and remember that even the Iroquois and Kaffirs are
people with a long past, with knowledge and culture (_politesse_) which
the first men did not enjoy." Now the more ignorant a man is, the more
prodigies he supposes himself to behold. Thus the first narratives of
the earliest men were full of monstrous things, "parce qu'ils etoient
faits par des gens sujets a voir bien des choses qui n'etaient pas".
This condition answers, in Mr. Tylor's system, to the confusion the
savage makes between dreams and facts, and to the hallucinations which
beset him when he does not get his regular meals. Here, then, we have a
groundwork of irresponsible fancy.

The next step is this: even the rudest men are curious, and ask "the
reason why" of phenomena. "II y a eu de la philosophie meme dans ces
siecles grossiers;" and this rude philosophy "greatly contributed to the
origin of myths ". Men looked for causes of things. "'Whence comes this
river?' asked the reflective man of those ages--a queer philosopher,
yet one who might have been a Descartes did he live to-day. After long
meditation, he concluded that some one had always to keep filling
the source whence the stream springs. And whence came the water? Our
philosopher did not consider so curiously. He had evolved the myth of a
water-nymph or naiad, and there he stopped. The characteristic of these
mythical explanations--as of all philosophies, past, present and to
come--was that they were limited by human experience. Early man's
experience showed him that effects were produced by conscious, sentient,
personal causes like himself. He sprang to the conclusion that all
hidden causes were also persons. These persons are the _dramatis
personæ_ of myth. It was a person who caused thunder, with a hammer or a
mace; or it was a bird whose wings produced the din.

"From this rough philosophy which prevailed in the early ages were born
the gods and goddesses"--deities made not only in the likeness of man,
but of savage man as he, in his ignorance and superstition, conceived
himself to be. Fontenelle might have added that those fancied personal
causes who became gods were also fashioned in the likeness of the
beasts, whom early man regarded as his equals or superiors. But he
neglects this point. He correctly remarks that the gods of myth appear
immoral to us because they were devised by men whose morality was all
unlike ours--who prized justice less than power, especially (he might
have added) magical power. As morality ripened into self-consciousness,
the gods improved with the improvement of men; and "the gods known
to Cicero are much better than those known to Homer, because better
philosophers have had a hand at their making". Moreover, in the earliest
speculations an imaginative and hair-brained philosophy explained all
that seemed extraordinary in nature; while the sphere of philosophy was
filled by fanciful narratives about facts. The constellations called the
Bears were accounted for as metamorphosed men and women. Indeed, "all
the metamorphoses are the physical philosophy of these early times,"
which accounted for every fact by what we now calletiological
nature-myths. Even the peculiarities of birds and beasts were thus
explained. The partridge flies low because Daedalus (who had seen his
son Icarus perish through a lofty flight) was changed into a partridge.
This habit of mind, which finds a story for the solution of
every problem, survives, Fontenelle remarks, in what we now call
folk-lore--popular tradition. Thus, the elder tree is said to have borne
as good berries as the vine does till Judas Iscariot hanged himself
from its branches. This story must be later than Christianity; but it is
precisely identical in character with those ancient metamorphoses
which Ovid collected. The kind of fancy that produced these and other
prodigious myths is not peculiar, Fontenelle maintains, to Eastern
peoples. "It is common to all men," at a certain mental stage--"in
the tropics or in the regions of eternal ice." Thus the world-wide
similarities of myths are, on the whole, the consequence of a worldwide
uniformity of intellectual development.

Fontenelle hints at his proof of this theory. He compares the myths
of America with those of Greece, and shows that distance in space and
difference of race do not hinder Peruvians and Athenians from being "in
the same tale". "For the Greeks, with all their intelligence, did not,
in their beginnings, think more rationally than the savages of America,
who were also, apparently, a rather primitive people (_assez nouveau_)."
He concludes that the Americans might have become as sensible as the
Greeks if they had been allowed the leisure.

With an exception in the Israelites, Fontenelle decides that all nations
made the astounding part of their myths while they were savages, and
retained them from custom and religious conservatism. But myths were also
borrowed and interchanged between Phoenicia, Egypt and Greece. Further,
Greek misunderstandings of the meanings of Phoenician and other foreign
words gave rise to myths. Finally, myths were supposed to contain
treasures of antique mysterious wisdom; and mythology was explained by
systems which themselves are only myths, stories told by the learned to
themselves and to the public.

"It is not science to fill one's head with the follies of Phoenicians
and Greeks, but it is science to understand what led Greeks and
Phoenicians to imagine these follies." A better and briefer system of
mythology could not be devised; but the Mr. Casaubons of this world have
neglected it, and even now it is beyond their comprehension.

APPENDIX B. Reply to Objections

In a work which perhaps inevitably contains much controversial matter,
it has seemed best to consign to an Appendix the answers to objections
against the method advocated. By this means the attention is less
directed from the matter in hand, the exposition of the method itself.
We have announced our belief that a certain element in mythology is
derived from the mental condition of savages. To this it is replied,
with perfect truth, that there are savages and savages; that a vast
number of shades of culture and of nascent or retrograding civilisation
exist among the races to whom the term "savage" is commonly applied.
This is not only true, but its truth is part of the very gist of our
theory. It is our contention that myth is sensibly affected by the
varieties of culture which prevail among so-called savage tribes, as
they approach to or decline from the higher state of barbarism. The
anthropologist is, or ought to be, the last man to lump all savages
together, as if they were all on the same level of culture.

When we speak of "the savage mental condition," we mean the mental
condition of all uncultivated races who still fail to draw any marked
line between man and the animate or inanimate things in the world,
and who explain physical phenomena on a vague theory, more or less
consciously held, that all nature is animated and endowed with human
attributes. This state of mind is nowhere absolutely extinct; it
prevails, to a limited extent, among untutored European peasantry,
and among the children of the educated classes. But this intellectual
condition is most marked and most powerful among the races which ascend
from the condition of the Australian Murri and the Bushmen, up to the
comparatively advanced Maoris of New Zealand and Algonkins or Zunis
of North America. These are the sorts of people who, for our present
purpose, must be succinctly described as still in the savage condition
of the imagination.

Again, it is constantly objected to our method that we have no knowledge
of the past of races at present in the savage status. "The savage are
as old as the civilised races, and can as little be named primitive,"
writes Dr. Fairbairn.* Mr. Max Müller complains with justice of authors
who "speak of the savage of to-day as if he had only just been sent into
the world, forgetting that, as a living species, he is probably not a
day younger than ourselves".** But Mr. Max Müller has himself admitted
all we want, namely, _that savages or nomads represent an earlier stage
of culture than even the ancient Sanskrit-speaking Aryans_, This follows
from the learned writer's assertion that savage tongues, Kaffir and
so forth, are still in the childhood which Hebrew and the most ancient
Sanskrit had long left behind them.*** "We see in them" (savage
languages) "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 pranks." These "pranks" are the result of the very habits
of savage thought which we regard as earlier than "the most ancient

     * Academy, 20th July, 1878.              a

     ** Hibb. Lect., p. 66.

     *** Lectures on Science of Language, 2nd series, p. 41.

Thus Mr. Max Müller has admitted all that we need--admitted that savage
language (and therefore, in his view, savage thought) is of an earlier
stratum than, for example, the language of the Vedas. No more valuable
concession could be made by a learned opponent.

Objections of an opposite character, however, are pushed, along with the
statement that we have no knowledge of the past of savages. Savages were
not always what they are now; they may have degenerated from a higher
condition; their present myths may be the corruption of something purer
and better; above all, savages are not _primitive_.

All this contention, whatever its weight, does not affect the thesis of
the present argument. It is quite true that we know nothing directly of
the condition, let us say, of the Australian tribes a thousand years ago
except that it has left absolutely no material traces of higher culture.
But neither do we know anything directly about the condition of the
Indo-European peoples five hundred years before Philology fancies that
she gets her earliest glimpse of them. We must take people as we find
them, and must not place too much trust in our attempts to reconstruct
their "dark backward". As to the past of savages, it is admitted by most
anthropologists that certain tribes have probably seen better days. The
Fuegians and the Bushmen and the Digger Indians were probably driven by
stronger races out of seats comparatively happy and habits comparatively
settled into their present homes and their present makeshift

     * The Fuegiaus are not (morally and socially) so black as
     they have occasionally been painted. But it is probable that
     they "have seen better days". If the possession of a
     language with, apparently, a very superfluous number of
     words is a proof of high civilisation in the past, then the
     Fuegians are degraded indeed. But the finding of one piece
     of native pottery in an Australian burial-mound would prove
     more than a wilderness of irregular verbs.

But while degeneration is admitted as an element in history, there seems
no tangible reason for believing that the highest state which Bushmen,
Fuegians, or Diggers ever attained, and from which they can be thought
to have fallen, was higher than a rather more comfortable savagery.
There are ups and downs in savage as in civilised life, and perhaps
"crowned races may degrade," but we have no evidence to show that the
ancestors of the Diggers or the Fuegians were a "crowned race". Their
descent has not been comparatively a very deep one; their presumed
former height was not very high. As Mr. Tylor observes, "So far as
history is to be our criterion, progression is primary and degradation
secondary; culture must be gained before it can be lost". One thing
about the past of savages we do know: it must have been a long past,
and there must have been a period in it when the savage had even less of
what Aristotle calls (------) even less of the equipment and provision
necessary for a noble life than he possesses at present. His past
must have been long, because great length of time is required for the
evolution of his exceedingly complex customs, such as his marriage
laws and his minute etiquette. Mr. Herbert Spencer has deduced from the
multiplicity, elaborateness and wide diffusion of Australian marriage
laws the inference that the Australians were once more civilised than
they are now, and had once a kind of central government and police. But
to reason thus is to fail back on the old Greek theory which for every
traditional custom imagined an early legislative hero, with a genius
for devising laws, and with power to secure their being obeyed. The more
generally accepted view of modern science is that law and custom are
things slowly evolved under stress of human circumstances. It is certain
that the usual process is from the extreme complexity of savage to the
clear simplicity of civilised rules of forbidden degrees. Wherever
we see an advancing civilisation, we see that it does not put on new,
complex and incomprehensible regulations, but that it rather sloughs off
the old, complex and incomprehensible regulations bequeathed to it by

This process is especially manifest in the laws of forbidden degrees in
marriage--laws whose complexity among the Australians or North American
Indians "might puzzle a mathematician," and whose simplicity in a
civilised country seems transparent even to a child. But while the
elaborateness and stringency of savage customary law point to a more,
and not a less barbarous past, they also indicate a past of untold
duration. Somewhere in that past also it is evident that the savage must
have been even worse off materially than he is at present. Even now he
can light a fire; he has a bow, or a boomerang, or a blowpipe, and has
attained very considerable skill in using his own rough tools of flint
and his weapons tipped with quartz. Now man was certainly not born in
the possession of fire; he did not come into the world with a bow or a
boomerang in his hand, nor with an instinct which taught him to barb
his fishing-hooks. These implements he had to learn to make and use,
and till he had learned to use them and make them his condition must
necessarily have been more destitute of material equipment than that of
any races known to us historically. Thus all that can be inferred about
the past of savages is that it was of vast duration, and that at one
period man was more materially destitute, and so far more struggling
and forlorn, than the Murri of Australia were when first discovered by
Europeans. Even then certain races _may_ have had intellectual powers
and potentialities beyond those of other races. Perhaps the first
fathers of the white peoples of the North started with better brains
and bodies than the first fathers of the Veddahs of Ceylon; but they
all started naked, tool-less, fire-less. The only way of avoiding these
conclusions is to hold-that men, or some favoured races of man, were
created with civilised instincts and habits of thought, and were
miraculously provided with the first necessaries of life, or were
miraculously instructed to produce them without passing through slow
stages of experiment, invention and modification. But we might as well
assume, with some early Biblical commentators, that the naked Adam
in Paradise was miraculously clothed in a vesture of refulgent light.
Against such beliefs we have only to say that they are without direct
historical confirmation of any kind.

But if, for the sake of argument, we admit the belief that primitive man
was miraculously endowed, and was placed at once in a stage of simple
and happy civilisation, our thesis still remains unaffected. Dr.
Fairbairn's saying has been quoted, "The savage are as old as the
civilised races, and can as little be called primitive". But we do not
wish to call savages primitive. We have already said that savages have
a far-stretching unknown history behind them, and that (except on the
supposition of miraculous enlightenment followed by degradation) their
past must have been engaged in slowly evolving their rude arts, their
strange beliefs and their elaborate customs. Undeniably there is nothing
"primitive" in a man who can use a boomerang, and who must assign each
separate joint of the kangaroo he kills to a separate member of his
family circle, while to some of those members he is forbidden by law
to speak. Men were not born into the world with all these notions. The
lowest savage has sought out or inherited many inventions, and cannot be
called "primitive". But it never was part of our argument that savages
_are_ primitive. Our argument does not find it necessary to claim
savagery as the state from which all men set forth. About what was
"primitive," as we have no historical information on the topic, we
express no opinion at all. Man may, if any one likes to think so, have
appeared on earth in a state of perfection, and may have degenerated
from that condition. Some such opinion, that purity and reasonableness
are "nearer the beginning" than absurdity and unreasonableness, appears
to be held by Mr. Max Müller, who remarks, "I simply say that in the
Veda we have a nearer approach to a beginning, and an intelligible
beginning, than in the wild invocations of Hottentots or Bushmen".*

     * Lectures on India.

Would Mr. Müller add, "I simply say that in the arts and political
society of the Vedic age we have a nearer approach to a beginning
than in the arts and society of Hottentots and Bushmen"? Is the use of
chariots, horses, ships--are kings, walled cities, agriculture, the art
of weaving, and so forth, all familiar to the Vedic poets, nearer the
beginning of man's civilisation than the life of the naked or skin-clad
hunter who has not yet learned to work the metals, who acknowledges no
king, and has no certain abiding-place? If not, why is the religion of
the civilised man nearer the beginning than that of the man who is not
civilised? We have already seen that, in Mr. Max Muller's opinion, his
language is much farther from the beginning.

Whatever the primitive condition of man may have been, it is certain
that savagery was a stage through which he and his institutions have
passed, or from which he has copiously borrowed. He may have degenerated
from perfection, or from a humble kind of harmless simplicity,
into savagery. He may have risen into savagery from a purely animal
condition. But however this may have been, modern savages are at present
in the savage condition, and the ancestors of the civilised races passed
through or borrowed from a similar savage condition. As Mr. Tylor says,
"It is not necessary to inquire how the savage state first came to
be upon the earth. It is enough that, by some means or other, it
has actually come into existence."* It is a stage through which all
societies have passed, or (if that be contested) a condition of things
from which all societies have borrowed. This view of the case has been
well put by M. Darmesteter.**

     * Prim. Cult., i 37.

     ** Revue Critique, January, 1884.

He is speaking of the history of religion. "If savages do not represent
religion in its germ, if they do not exemplify that vague and indefinite
thing conventionally styled 'primitive religion,' at least they
represent a stage through which all religions have passed. The proof is
that a very little research into civilised religions discovers a most
striking similarity between the most essential elements of the civilised
and the non-historic creeds." Proofs of this have been given when we
examined the myths of Greece.

We have next to criticise the attempts which have been made to discredit
the _evidence_ on which we rely for our knowledge of the intellectual
constitution of the savage, and of his religious ideas and his myths and
legends. If that evidence be valueless, our whole theory is founded on
the sand.

The difficulties in the way of obtaining trustworthy information about
the ideas, myths and mental processes of savages are not only proclaimed
by opponents of the anthropological method, but are frankly acknowledged
by anthropologists themselves. The task is laborious and delicate,
but not impossible. Anthropology has, at all events, the advantage of
studying an actual undeniably existing state of things, to sift the
evidence as to that state of things, to examine the opportunities, the
discretion, and the honesty of the witnesses, is part of the business of
anthropology. A science which was founded on an uncritical acceptance
of all the reports of missionaries, travellers, traders, and
"beach-combers," would be worth nothing. But, as will be shown,
anthropology is fortunate in the possession of a touchstone, "like
that," as Theocritus says, "wherewith the money-changers try gold, lest
perchance base metal pass for true".

The "difficulties which beset travellers and missionaries in their
description of the religious and intellectual life of savages" have
been catalogued by Mr. Max Muller. As he is not likely to have
omitted anything which tells against the evidence of missionaries
and travellers, we may adopt his statement in an abridged shape, with
criticisms, and with additional illustrations of our own.*

     * Hibbert Lectures, p. 9

First, "Few men are quite proof against the fluctuations of public
opinion". Thus, in Rousseau's time, many travellers saw savages with the
eyes Rousseau--that is, as models of a simple "state of nature". In the
same way, we may add, modern educated travellers are apt to see savages
in the light cast on them by Mr. Tylor or Sir John Lubbock. Mr. Im
Thurn, in Guiana, sees with Mr. Tylor's eyes; Messrs. Fison and Howitt,
among the Kamilaroi in Australia, see with the eyes of Mr. Lewis Morgan,
author of _Systems of Consanguinity_. Very well; we must allow for the
bias in each case. But what are we to say when the travellers who lived
long before Begnard report precisely the same facts of savage life as
the witty Frenchman who wrote that "next to the ape, the Laplander is
the animal nearest to man"? What are we to say when the mariner, or
beach-comber, or Indian interpreter, who never heard of Rousseau, brings
from Canada or the Marquesas Islands a report of ideas or customs which
the trained anthropologist finds in New Guinea or the Admiralty Islands,
and with which the Inca, Garcilasso de la Vega, was familiar in Peru?
If the Wesleyan missionary in South Africa is in the same tale with the
Jesuit in Paraguay or in China, while the Lutheran in Kamtschatka brings
the same intelligence as that which they contribute, and all three are
supported by the shipwrecked mariner in Tonga and by the squatter in
Queensland, as well as by the evidence, from ancient times and lands, of
Strabo, Diodorus and Pausanias, what then? Is it not clear that if pagan
Greeks, Jesuits and Wesleyans, squatters and anthropologists, Indian
interpreters and the fathers of the Christian Church, are all agreed
in finding this idea or that practice in their own times and countries,
their evidence is at least unaffected by "the fluctuations of public
opinion"? This criterion of undesigned coincidence in evidence drawn
from Protestants, Catholics, pagans, sceptics, from times classical,
mediaeval and modern, from men learned and unlearned, is the touchstone
of anthropology. It will be admitted that the consentient testimony
of persons in every stage of belief and prejudice, of ignorance and
learning, cannot agree, as it does agree, by virtue of some "fluctuation
of public opinion". It is to be regretted that, in Mr. Max Muller's
description of the difficulties which beset the study of savage
religious ideas, he entirely omits to mention, on the other side, the
corroboration which is derived from the undesigned coincidence of
independent testimony. This point is so important that it may be well
to quote Mr. Tylor's statement of the value of the anthropological

It is a matter worthy of consideration that the accounts of similar
phenomena of culture, recurring in different parts of the world,
actually supply incidental proof of their own authenticity. Some years
since a question which brings out this point was put to me by a great
historian, "How can a statement as to customs, myths, beliefs, etc., of
a savage tribe be treated as evidence where it depends on the testimony
of some traveller or missionary who may be a superficial observer, more
or less ignorant of the native language, a careless retailer of unsifted
talk, a man prejudiced, or even wilfully deceitful?" This question
is, indeed, one which every ethnographer ought to keep clearly and
constantly before his mind. Of course he is bound to use his best
judgment as to the trustworthiness of all authors he quotes, and if
possible to obtain several accounts to certify each point in each
locality. But it is over and above these measures of precaution that the
test of recurrence comes in. If two independent visitors to different
countries, say a mediaeval Mohammedan in Tartary and a modern Englishman
in Dahomey, or a Jesuit missionary in Brazil and a Wesleyan in the Fiji
Islands, agree in describing some analogous art, or rite, or myth among
the people they have visited, it becomes difficult or impossible to
set down such correspondence to accident or wilful fraud. A story by a
bushranger in Australia may perhaps be objected to as a mistake or an
invention; but did a Methodist minister in Guinea conspire with him to
cheat the public by telling the same story there? The possibility of
intentional or unintentional mystification is often barred by such a
state of things as that a similar statement is made in two remote lands
by two witnesses, of whom A lived a century before B, and B appears
never to have heard of A. How distant are the countries, how wide apart
the dates, how different the creeds and characters of the observers in
the catalogue of facts of civilisation, needs no farther showing to any
one who will even glance at the footnotes of the present work. And the
more odd the statement, the less likely that several people in several
places should have made it wrongly. This being so, it seems reasonable
to judge that the statements are in the main truly given, and that their
close and regular coincidence is due to the cropping up of similar
facts in various districts of culture. Now the most important facts of
ethnography are vouched for in this way. Experience leads the student
after a while to expect and find that the phenomena of culture, as
resulting from widely-acting similar causes, should recur again and
again in the world. He even mistrusts isolated statements to which he
knows of no parallel elsewhere, and waits for their genuineness to be
shown by corresponding accounts from the other side of the earth or the
other end of history. So strong indeed is the means of authentication,
that the ethnographer in his library may sometimes presume to decide not
only whether a particular explorer is a shrewd and honest observer,
but also whether what he reports is conformable to the general rules of
civilisation. _Non quia, sed quid._

It must be added, as a rider to Mr. Tylo^s remarks, that anthropology is
rapidly making the accumulation of fresh and trustworthy evidence more
difficult than ever. Travellers and missionaries have begun to read
anthropological books, and their evidence is therefore much more likely
to be biassed now by anthropological theories than it was of old. When
Mr. M'Lennan wrote on "totems" in 1869,* he was able to say, "It is some
compensation for the completeness of the accounts that we can thoroughly
trust them, as the totem has not till now got itself mixed up with
speculations, and accordingly the observers have been unbiassed. But
as anthropology is now more widely studied, the _naif_ evidence of
ignorance and of surprise grows more and more difficult to obtain."

     * Fortnightly Review, October 1869.

We may now assert that, though the evidence of each separate witness
may be influenced by fluctuations of opinion, yet the consensus of their
testimony, when they are unanimous, remains unshaken. The same argument
applies to the private inclination, and prejudice, and method of inquiry
of each individual observer.

Travellers in general, and missionaries in particular, are biassed in
several distinct ways. The missionary is sometimes anxious to prove that
religion can only come by revelation, and that certain tribes, having
received no revelation, have no religion or religious myths at all.
Sometimes the missionary, on the other hand, is anxious to demonstrate
that the myths of his heathen flock are a corrupted version of the
Biblical narrative. In the former case he neglects the study of savage
myths; in the latter he unconsciously accommodates what he hears to what
he calls "the truth". In modern days the missionary often sees with the
eyes of Mr. Herbert Spencer. The traveller who is not a missionary may
either have the same prejudices, or he may be a sceptic about revealed
religion. In the latter case he is perhaps unconsciously moved to put
burlesque versions of Biblical stories into the mouths of his native
informants, or to represent the savages as ridiculing (Dr. Moffat found
that they did ridicule) the Scriptural traditions which he communicates
to them. Yet again we must remember that the leading questions of a
European inquirer may furnish a savage with a thread on which to string
answers which the questions themselves have suggested. "Have you ever
had a great flood?" "Yes." "Was any one saved?" The leading question
starts the invention of the savage on a Deluge-myth, of which, perhaps,
the idea has never before entered his mind.

The last is a source of error pointed out by Mr. Codrington:*

     * Journal of Anthrop. Inst, February 1881.

"The questions of the European are a thread on which the ideas of the
native precipitate themselves". Now, as European inquirers are prone
to ask much the same questions, a people which, like some Celts and
savages, "always answers yes," will everywhere give much the same
answers. Mr. Romilly, in his book on the Western Pacific,* remarks, "In
some parts of New Britain, if a stranger were to ask, 'Are there men
with tails in the mountains?' he would probably be answered 'Yes,' that
being the answer which the new Briton" (and the North Briton, too, very
often) "would imagine was expected of him, and would be most likely to
give satisfaction. The train of thought in his mind would be something
like this, 'He must know that there are no such men, but he cannot have
asked so foolish a question without an object, and therefore he wishes
me to say 'Yes!' Of course the first 'Yes' leads to many others, and in
a very short time everything is known about these tailed men, and a full
account of them is sent home."

What is true of tailed men applies to native answers about myths and
customs when the questions are asked by persons who have not won the
confidence of the people nor discovered their real beliefs by long and
patient observation. This must be borne in mind when missionaries tell
us that savages believe in one supreme deity, in a mediator, and the
like, and it must be borne in mind when they tell us that savages have
no supreme being at all. Always we must be wary! A very pleasing example
of inconsistency in reports about the same race may be found in a
comparison of the account of the Khonds in the thirteenth volume of the
Royal Asiatic Society with the account given by General Campbell in his
_Personal Narrative_, The inquirer in the former case did not know the
Khond language, and trusted to interpreters, who were later expelled
from the public service. General Campbell, on the other hand, believed
himself to possess "the confidence of the priests and chiefs," and his
description is quite different. In cases of contradictions like these,
the anthropologist will do well to leave the subject alone, unless he
has very strong reasons for believing one or other of the contending

     * _The Western Pacific and New Guinea_, London, 1886, pp. 3-6.

     ** Hibbert Lectures, p. 92.

We have now considered the objections that may be urged against the bias
of witnesses.

Mr. Max Müller founds another objection on "the absence of recognised
authorities among savages".* This absence of authority is not always
complete; the Maoris, for example, have traditional hymns of great
authority and antiquity. There are often sacred songs and customs
(preserved by the Red Indians in chants recorded by picture-writing on
birch bark), and there always is some teaching from the mothers to their
children, or in the Mysteries. All these, but, above all, the almost
immutable sacredness of _custom_, are sources of evidence. But, of
course, the story of one savage informant may differ widely from that of
his neighbour. The first may be the black sheep of the tribe, the next
may be the saint of the district. "Both would be considered by European
travellers as unimpeachable authorities with regard to their religion."
This is too strongly stated. Even the inquiring squatter will repose
more confidence in the reports about his religion of a black with a
decent character, or of a black who has only recently mixed with white
men, than in those of a rum-bibbing loafer about up-country stations
or a black professional bowler on a colonial cricket-ground. Our best
evidence is from linguists who have been initiated into the secret
Mysteries. Still more will missionaries and scholars like Bleek, Hahn,
Codrington, Castren, Gill, Callaway, Theal, and the rest, sift and
compare the evidence of the most trustworthy native informants. The
merits of the travellers we have named as observers and scholars are
freely acknowledged by Mr. Max Müller himself. To their statements,
also, we can apply the criterion: Does Bleek's report from the Bushmen
and Hottentots confirm Castren's from the Finns? Does Codrington in
Melanesia tell the same tale as Gill in Mangia or Theal among the
Kaffirs? Are all confirmed by Charlevoix, and Lafitau, and Brebeuf, the
old Catholic apostles of the North American Indians? If this be so, then
we may presume that the inquirers have managed to extract true accounts
from some of their native informants. The object of the inquiry, of
course, is to find out, not what a few more educated and noble members
of a tribe may think, nor what some original speculative thinker among a
lower race may have worked out for himself, but to ascertain the general
character of the ideas most popular and most widely prevalent among
backward peoples.

A third objection is that the priests of savage tribes are not
unimpeachable authorities. It is pointed out that even Christian clergy
have their differences of opinion. Naturally we expect most shades of
opinion where there is most knowledge and most liberty, but the liberty
of savage heterodoxy is very wide indeed. We might almost say that (as
in the mythology of Greece) there is _no_ orthodox mythical doctrine
among savages. But, amidst minor diversities, we have found many ideas
which are universal both in savage and civilised myths. _Quod semper,
quod ubique, quod ab omnibus_. It is on this universal element of
faith, not on the discrepancies of local priests, that we must fix our
attention. Many a different town in Greece showed the birthplace or
tomb of this or that deity. The essential point is that all agreed in
declaring that the god was born or died.

Once more--and this is a point of some importance when we are told that
priests differ from each other in their statements--we must remember
that these very differences are practically universal in all mythology,
even in that of civilised races. Thus, if one savage authority declares
that men came originally out of trees, while his fellow-tribesman
avers that the human race was created out of clay, and a third witness
maintains that his first ancestors emerged from a hole in the ground,
and a fourth stands to it that his stock is descended from a swan or a
serpent, and a fifth holds that humanity was evolved from other animal
forms, these savage statements appear contradictory. But when we
find (as we do) precisely the same sort of contradictions everywhere
recurring among civilised peoples, in Greece, India, Egypt, as well as
in Africa, America and Australia, there seems no longer any reason to
distrust the various versions of the myth which are given by various
priests or chiefs. Each witness is only telling the legend which he
has heard and prefers, and it is precisely the coexistence of all these
separate monstrous beliefs which makes the enigma and the attraction
of mythology. In short, the discrepancies of savage myths are not an
argument against the authenticity of our information on the topic,
because the discrepancies themselves are repeated in civilised myth.
_Semper et ubique, et ab omnibus_. To object to the presence of
discrepant accounts is to object to mythology for being mythological.

Another objection is derived from the "unwillingness of savages to talk
about religion," and from the difficulty of understanding them when they
do talk of it. This hardly applies when Europeans are initiated into
savage Mysteries. We may add a fair example of the difficulty of
learning about alien religions. It is given by Garcilasso de la Vega,
son of an Inca princess, and a companion of Pizarro.*"

     * Garcilaaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries, vol, i. 123.

The method that our Spaniards adopted in writing their histories was to
ask the Indians in Spanish touching the things they wanted to find out
from them. These, from not having a clear knowledge of ancient things,
or from bad memories, told them wrong, or mixed up poetical fables with
their replies. And the worst of it was that neither party had more
than a very imperfect knowledge of the language of the other, so as to
understand the inquiry and to reply to it.... In this great confusion,
the priest or layman who asked the questions placed the meaning to them
which was nearest to the desired answer, or which was most like what the
Indian was understood to have said. Thus they interpreted according to
their pleasure or prejudice, and wrote things down as truths which the
Indians never dreamt of. As an example of these comparisons, Garcilasso
gives the discovery of the doctrine of the Trinity among the people
of Peru. A so-called _Icona_ was found answering to the Father, a Son
(_Racab_) and a Holy Spirit (_Estrua_); nor was the Virgin lacking, nor
even St. Anne. "All these things are fictions of the Spaniards." But no
sooner has Garcilasso rebuked the Spaniards and their method, than he
hastens to illustrate by his own example another difficulty that besets
us in our search for evidence of myths. He says, as if it were a matter
of certain fact, that Tlasolteute, a kind of Priapus, god of lust, and
Ometoctilti, god of drunkenness, and the god of murder, and the others,
"were the names of _men and women_ whom the natives of that land
worshipped as gods and goddesses". Thus Garcilasso euhemerises
audaciously, as also does Sahagun in his account of Mexican religion. We
have no right to assume that gods of natural departments (any more than
Dionysus and Priapus and Ares) had once been real men and were
deified, on evidence like the statement of Garcilassp. He is giving his
own euhemeristic guess as if it were matter of fact, and this is a common
custom with even the more intelligent of the early missionaries.

Another example of the natural difficulty in studying the myths of
savages may be taken from Mr. Sproat's _Scenes of Savage Life_ (1868).
There is an honesty and candour in Mr. Sproat's work which by itself
seems to clear this witness, at least, of charges of haste or prejudice.
The religion of savages, says this inquirer, "is a subject as to which
a traveller might easily form erroneous opinions, owing to the practical
difficulty, even to one skilled in the language, of ascertaining the
true nature of their superstitions. This short chapter is the result
of more than four years' inquiry, made unremittingly, under favourable
circumstances. There is a constant temptation, from which the unbiassed
observer cannot be quite free, to fill up in one's mind, without proper
material, the gap between what is known of the religion of the natives
for certain, and the larger less-known portion, which can only be
guessed at; and I frequently found that, under this temptation, I was
led on to form, in my own mind, a connected whole, designed to coincide
with some ingenious theory which I might wish to be true. Generally
speaking, it is necessary, I think, to view with suspicion _any very
regular account_ given by travellers of the religion of savages." (Yet
we have seen the absence of "regularity," the differences of opinion
among priests, objected to by Mr. Max Müller as a proof of the
untrustworthy nature of our evidence.) "The real religious notions of
savages cannot be separated from the vague and unformed, as well as
bestial and grotesque, mythology with which they are intermixed.
The faint struggling efforts of our natures in so early or so little
advanced a stage of moral and intellectual cultivation can produce only
a medley of opinions and beliefs, not to be dignified by the epithet
religious, which are held loosely by the people themselves, and are
neither very easily discovered nor explained." When we came to civilised
mythologies, we found that they also are "bestial and grotesque,"
"loosely held," and a "medley of opinions and beliefs ".

Mr. Sproat was "two years among the Ahts, with his mind constantly
directed to the subject of their religious beliefs," before he could
discover that they had any such beliefs at all. Traders assured him that
they had none. He found that the Ahts were "fond of mystification" and
of "sells"; and, in short, this inquirer, living with the Ahts like an
Aht, discounted every sort of circumstance which could invalidate his
statement of their myths.*

     * Pp. 203-205.

Now, when we find Mr. Codrington taking the same precautions in
Melanesia, and when his account of Melanesian myths reads like a
close copy of Mr. Sproat's account of Aht legends, and when both are
corroborated by the collections of Bleek, and Hahn, and Gill, and
Castren, and Eink, in far distant corners of the world, while the modern
testimony of these scholarly men is in harmony with that of the old
Jesuit missionaries, and of untaught adventurers who have lived for many
years with savages, surely it will be admitted that the difficulty of
ascertaining savage opinion has been, to a great extent, overcome. If
all the evidence be wrong, the coincidences of the witnesses with each
other and of the savage myths they report with the myths of Greeks and
Aryans of India will be no less than a miracle.

We have now examined the objections urged against a system founded on
the comparative study of savage myths. It cannot be said of us (as it
has been said of De Brosses), that "whatever we find in the voyages of
sailors and traders is welcome to us; that we have a theory to defend,
and whatever seems to support it is sure to be true". Our evidence is
based, to a very great extent, on the communications of missionaries who
are acknowledged to be scholarly and sober men. It is confirmed by other
evidence, Catholic, Dissenting, pagan, scientific, and by the reports of
illiterate men, unbiassed by science, and little biassed by religion.

But we have not yet exhausted our evidence, nor had recourse to our
ultimate criterion. That evidence, that criterion, is derived from the
study of comparative institutions, of comparative ritual, of comparative
law, and of comparative customs. In the widely diffused rites and
institutions which express themselves in actual practice we have sure
evidence for the ideas on which the customs are founded. For example,
if a man pays away his wampum, or his yams, or his arrow-heads to a
magician for professional services, it follows that he _does_ believe in
magic. If he puts to death a tribesman for the sin of marrying a woman
to whom he was only akin by virtue of common descent from the same beast
or plant, it seems to follow that he _does_ believe in descent from and
kinship with plants and beasts. If he buries food and valuable weapons
with his dead, it follows that he _does_, or that his fathers did,
believe in the continued life of the dead. At the very least, in
all three cases the man is acting on what must once have been actual
beliefs, even if the consequent practices be still in force only through
custom, after the real faith has dwindled away. Thus the belief, past or
present, in certain opinions can be deduced from actual practices, just
as we may deduce from our own Coronation Service the fact that oil,
anointed on a man's head by a priest, was once believed to have a
mysterious efficacy, or the fact that a certain rough block of red
sand-stone was once supposed to have some kind of sacredness. Of all
these sources of evidence, none is more valuable than the testimony of
ritual. A moment's reflection will show that ritual, among any people,
wild or civilised, is not a thing easily altered. If we take the savage,
_his_ ritual consists mainly of the magical rites by which he hopes to
constrain his gods to answer his prayers, though he may also "reveal"
to the neophyte "Our Father". If we examine the Greeks, we discover the
same element in such rites as the Attic Thesmophoria, the torch-dance
of Demeter, the rainmaking on the Arcadian Mount Lycæus, with many other
examples. Meanwhile the old heathen ritual survives in Europe as rural
folklore, and we can thus display a chain of evidence, from savage
magic to Greek ritual, with the folklore of Germany, France, Eussia and
Scotland for the link between these and our own time. This is almost our
best evidence for the ancient idea about gods and their service. From
the evidence of institutions, then, the evidence of reports may
be supplemented. "The direct testimony," as M. Darmesteter says,
"heureusement peut-etre supplee par le temoignage indirect, celui
qui porte sur les usages, les coutumes, l'ordre exterieur de la vie,"
everything that shows us religious faith embodied in action. Now
these actions, also, are only attested by the reports of travellers,
missionaries and historians. But it is comparatively easy to describe
correctly what is _done_, much more easy than to discover what is
_thought_. Yet it will be found that the direct evidence of institutions
corroborates the less direct evidence as to thought and opinion. Thus
an uncommonly strong texture of testimony is woven by the coincidence
of evidence, direct and indirect, ancient and modern, of learned and
unlearned men, of Catholics, Protestants, pagans and sceptics. What
can be said against that evidence we have heard. We have examined the
objections based on "the influence of public opinion on travellers,"
on "the absence of recognised authorities among savages," on
the discrepancies of the authorities who are recognised, on the
"unwillingness of savages to talk of their religion," and on the
difficulty of understanding them when they do talk of it.

But after allowing for all these drawbacks (as every anthropologist
worthy of the name will, in each case, allow), we have shown that there
does remain a body of coincident evidence, of authority, now learned
and critical, now uncritical and unlearned, which cannot be set aside
as "extremely untrustworthy". This authority is accepted in questions
of the evolution of art, politics, handicraft; why not in questions
of religion? It is usually evidence given by men who did not see its
tendency or know its value. A chance word in the Veda shows us that a
savage point of marriage etiquette was known to the poet. A sneer of
Theophrastus, a denunciation of Ezekiel, an anecdote of Herodotus,
reveal to us the practices of contemporary savages as they existed
thousands of years ago among races savage or civilised. A traveller's
tale of Melville or Mandeville proves to be no mere "yarn," but
completes the evidence for the existence in Asia or the Marquesas
Islands of belief and rites proved to occur in Europe or India.

Such is the nature of the evidence for savage ideas, and for their
survivals in civilisation; and the amount of the evidence is best known
to him who has to plod through tracts, histories and missionary reports.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myth, Ritual And Religion, Vol. 2 (of 2)" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.